Bumper decals raise money for Weymouth seniors
July 20, 2002
By JOSH JOHNSON
The Patriot Ledger
They're more elegant than the old, rectangular "HOW'S MY DRIVING? '' bumper stickers. They're small, oval, white-and-black, and they're increasingly visible on the rear ends of American cars.
And now there's one for Weymouth.
The Friends of the Council on Aging, a nonprofit group, is selling bumper stickers with a local twist on an old international driving regulation. The stickers, which show the letters "WEY'' on a white background, are being sold for $3 each to raise money for the town Department of Elder Services.
The idea was hatched by town councilors Michael Smart and Sue Kay, who decided on an initial printing of 1,000 to gauge public interest in the decals.
"We're hoping to take in $2,700 to $3,000,'' Kay said. "If that's successful we'll order more.''
Though the stickers went on sale Wednesday, the idea to use them to raise money for the elderly predated recent budget talks during which Mayor David Madden proposed steep cuts in services to senior citizens.
In the end, just one position was eliminated in a reorganization of the department, said Jane Hackett, Madden's chief of staff, adding that no programs for seniors had been cut.
"Regardless of the budget process, no department ever has enough money to do the things they want to do, and the stickers will go a long way toward providing them with the things they desire,'' said Smart, who represents District 6.
He said any money raised would go to toward paying for such things as luncheons, transportation and recreational activities.
The stickers have their origin in the 1949 United Nations Convention on Road Traffic. The convention states that all vehicles from participating nations must display their countries of origin when driving abroad. This can be done with either special license plates or the now-familiar decals.
The convention spells out various country codes and is an interesting read for anyone who has driven on the Massachusetts Turnpike and wondered about the letters "NL'' emblazoned on the car ahead.
The requirements are laid out in painstaking detail:
"The distinguishing sign shall be composed of one to three letters in capital Latin characters. The letters shall have a minimum height of 80 mm. (3.1 in.) and their strokes a width of 10 mm. (0.4 in.). The letters shall be painted in black on a white ground of elliptical form with the major axis horizontal.''
The Weymouth stickers are slightly smaller than stipulated by international law. The regulations came as news to Kay, a councilor-at-large.
"Let's hope they do the trick anyway,'' Kay said.
The stickers were originally confined to regions - such as Europe - where international automobile travel is common. They eventually grew as a phenomenon in the United States, as drivers, perhaps looking for something more sophisticated (and more honest) than "MY OTHER CAR'S A PORSCHE,'' obtained the stickers in displays of allegiance to various countries.
Unofficial novelty decals became common. Martha's Vineyard ("MV'') was home to an early takeoff. Massachusetts ("MA'') has one; so does Little Cranberry Island ("LCI''), Maine, and Jackson Hole ("JH''), Wyo.
The new sticker isn't even Weymouth's first - the town's Great Esker Park ("GEP'') decal was introduced to local bumpers a couple years ago.
One of the oddest novelties comes from Nantucket, whose letters - "ACK'' - left even Kay baffled. (They refer to the federal code for Nantucket Memorial Airport.)
"There's no guessing with W-E-Y,'' she said.
The stickers can be purchased at town hall or at the Whipple Senior Center, 182 Green St.
Josh Johnson may be reached at JoshJohnson@ledger.com.
Copyright 2002 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Saturday, July 20, 2002