“It Never Hurts to Smile” by Mike Rosen

Updated License Plate Mottos

Considering how restrictive life has been for most of us for the past year-plus, I have found it a bit uplifting to hear friends and family talk about the vacations they’re planning. My better two-thirds and I will be taking a couple of trips, and I’m looking forward to being on the road again. There’s something about going on routes both familiar and new that gives me an inward smile. As we drive, I find myself wondering about the sights we’ll see, the folks we may meet, the fun we will have. But most of all, I will be pondering a question that has been in the cobwebs of my mind for many, many years: Who the devil comes up with U.S. state license plate mottos?

Based on my, ahem, extensive research, the ostensible purpose of these mottos is to encourage interest in the states and hopefully, increase tourism. Frankly, I think many (if not most) lack a certain, well, “oomph.” Connecticut’s license plate motto, as my regular readers will know, is “The Constitution State.” This became the state’s official motto in 1959, and contrary to what a fair number of folks think, it isn’t because the U.S. Constitution was drafted here (that, of course, would be Philadelphia).

The reason is this: “Connecticut was designated the Constitution State by the General Assembly in 1959. As early as the 19th Century, John Fiske, a popular historian from Connecticut, made the claim that the Fundamental Orders of 1638/1639 were the first written constitution in history” (from the official State of Connecticut website). Fiske wasn’t quite correct; in 1600 San Marino became the first country with a constitution. Although I haven’t been able to verify the source, I have been told that San Marino—at the time a small country in central Italy–immediately adopted the motto, “We’re Number One!” I have no idea where they put it, inasmuch as they didn’t have license plates in 1600.

Connecticut needs a better motto. How about “We’re Convenient to New York City and Boston”? (Not quite your cup of tea? Send your suggestions to me.) But it isn’t just Connecticut; all of the states could use motto rewrites. That said, I hereby submit for your consideration a handful of state license plate mottos with suggested updates (not all are mine).

Alabama (officially, “Sweet Home Alabama”): “Our High School Football Teams Can Beat Your State’s”

Alaska (“The Last Frontier”): “No, You Won’t Freeze To Death Here Because The Bears Will Kill You First”

Arizona (“Grand Canyon State”): “Miles of Sand And Not One Ocean”

California (“The Golden State”): “Our Beautiful Coastline Will Make You Forget Your Dreams Of Fame That We Crushed”

Delaware (“The First State”): “Why Haven’t You Incorporated Here Yet?”

Florida (“Sunshine State”): “We Only Brag About The Weather For Three Months”

Illinois (“Land of Lincoln”): “Except For Chicago, It’s All Corn”

Kansas (“The Sunflower State”): “Endless Miles Of Boring Highway And Not One Turn In The Roads”

Kentucky (“Bluegrass State): “We Created Bourbon. You’re Welcome”

Maine (“Vacationland”): “Wanna Buy A Pine Tree?”

Massachusetts (“The Bay State”): “We’re So Liberal, Right Turns Are Illegal”

Minnesota (“Land of 10,000 Lakes”): “Yes, 10,000 Lakes. No, We Didn’t Count Them”

Montana (“Big Sky Country”): “If It Weren’t For Yellowstone, You Wouldn’t Come Here”

New Hampshire (“The Granite State”): “No Sales Tax And We Consume More Alcohol Than Any Other State”

New Jersey (“The Garden State”) “Jimmy Hoffa’s Buried Here Somewhere”

New York (“Empire State”): “If It’s Not Taxable, It’s Illegal”

Oklahoma (“Oklahoma is OK”): “We’re OK, But Nothing Like The Musical”

Washington (“Evergreen State”): “Don’t Blame Us, We’re The Other Washington”

Maybe a little polishing is called for, but I believe these might be more helpful than the existing license plate mottos. Frankly, as you’re traveling this summer, take a moment or two to glance at these mottos and see if you can come up with a suggestion or three of your own. Just send your ideas my way, and I’ll pass them along to the appropriate powers that be.

The online SUUS newsletter will be appearing once each in July and August, so you will be spared my weekly (weakly?) mental ramblings. Enjoy your summer! Stay safe, be well, and don’t forget to smile.

This week’s Street Advertising Smile:

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