The recent political carnage on streets of major cities should not be taken lightly.

Attacking police officers, burning cars and buildings, stealing under the cover of political protests is criminal unless one has a shield. The major networks will not, at this writing, call it “misbehavior” or even bad manners. That’s a shield.

And there is nothing funny in it unless you picked up the news of pranksters who took a stack of stickers supporting political candidates opposite to the party most favored by the “protesters.”

The pranksters went through a large parking lot applying stickers supporting the other guys.

After a long, hard evening of protesting, throwing bricks and bottles and setting things afire the owners entered the lot and found cars bearing stickers supporting their enemy.

They did to the cars what they had been doing all night until someone discovered they were trashing their own cars.

When cars and trucks had real bumpers, visitors to Rock City and Ruby Falls on Lookout Mountain discovered teenagers were in the parking lots attaching paper signs to front bumpers held in place by flexible strips of metal.

All up and down the major “tourist routes,” as we called them in the south, drivers were met by shiny bumpers advertising that the occupants had visited those sites. The signs themselves equaled personal endorsements.

I think you could buy a bumper sign in the gift shop but they were great advertising gimmicks.

People bought T-shirts at concerts which became fashion statements of sorts. If you bought enough “eight track” tapes during intermission the shirt came free.

Owners of popular businesses learned that a cheap T-shirt was a great advertising gimmick. Customers would buy your shirt and give you free advertising.

For a short while I owned a collection of shirts from whatever Hard Rock Cafe I could find. It was a lame way of boasting that I’d been to the Hard Rock in Anchorage and I grew out of it after I became a grandfather

It was a winning situation all for the businesses because they sold the shirt then gained the exposure.

The next giant leap might have been the baseball cap. I had a box of them before the great migration. The caps advertising all things aviation.

It wasn’t much of a leap for T-shirts and baseball caps to become political advertising. Now, since we look like a society of stage coach robbers, it took weeks, not months, for political slogans to show up on masks and face coverings.

My favorite bumper sticker promoted the state of Kansas by calling it “The Land of Ahhhhs.” The one on my truck has faded and the “spare,” has lost its stick-um. I can’t find a replacement.

Eventually it will show up on a face covering.

Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at joenphillips@hotmail.com.

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