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Signs, Signs, Everywhere A Sign: A Short Lesson In Sign History On FMB

Posted March 16, 2023

Ellie Bunting

For the past few weeks, volunteers have been busy painting street signs to help people navigate on the island. Very few of the “Approved” signs survived the storm, so this was a great way for people to help out with the rebuilding of FMB. Unfortunately, some controversary has arisen about these signs since they are not “up to code.” I thought this might be a good time to look back about seventy years when the last sign controversary rocked the Beach.

Back in the early days when the population of the island was less than 500,  people named their homes with monikers like “Sea Breeze” and “Gulf View” and “Pine Cone.”  A Post Office had been on the island in some form since the 1900s, but there was no home delivery because the beach lacked street signs and house numbers.  Jeff Brame, who was the official telegram man on the island, tried to have each house register with him at Gulf View so he would know how to find people if they received a telegram.  However, he was not very successful in doing this, and it was becoming more and more difficult to keep track of all the houses.

Residents wanted a logical numbering system, so, in the late 50s, an engineering firm was finally hired to come up with a house numbering system that would allow mail delivery.  However, having a logical numbering system was not going to help unless there were street signs.  Residents petitioned the county to provide the signs, but this was not a top priority for them.

Therefore, residents on each street took it upon themselves to create their own street signs.  Walt Thomas, who owned the Beach Hardware, provided the boards and the paint, and volunteers from each street took the boards home and hand painted a sign for their street.

Eventually, the signs were put up, a logical numbering system was installed, and mail was finally delivered to the houses.  In many ways, they were better off than we are today.


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