Secretary of State Shenna Bellows latest announcement of a recall of profanity themed vainness plates is an event to try essentially the most distinguished and enduring proclamations that enhance automobiles in Maine and elsewhere.
One expression, nevertheless, that Bellows is not going to be recalling and seems on all recurrently issued — that’s non specialty — plates within the state is Vacationland. It too, nevertheless, has certainly not been freed from ridicule.
“I believe it’s an asinine proposition and I consider that we are going to discover in one other 12 months that on a terrific most of the plates that part of the underside might be obliterated and the phrase ’Vacationland’ might be stricken off. I don’t suppose it lends something to the dignity of the quantity plates nor do I believe that it lends any dignity within the promoting medium of the state.”
So noticed Sen.r Roy Fernald within the 1935 ground debate when “Vacationland” was into account because the plate’s motto. One would have anticipated that Fernald’s view would have carried appreciable weight. In any case, he had been a university economics professor, had attended West Level, and in a feat drawing the eye of Ripley’s Consider It Or Not column the 33-year outdated Bangor lawyer had already earned 9 school and graduate college levels from the likes of Harvard, U-Maine and Boston College.
As a substitute, the senate adopted the management of Cape Elizabeth Sen. Harold Schnurle, who argued, “We are attempting to get folks to return down right here and take holidays in our state,” and that “We’re spending our cash to try to make folks acutely aware of that truth and… ties in with our promoting marketing campaign.”
Assist for the measure within the Home was so resounding that the invoice’s sponsor, Moosehead Lake summer season resort proprietor Frank MacKenzie, who championed its advocacy earlier than the legislature’s Maine Publicity Committee, didn’t even must ship a ground speech earlier than the Home handed the invoice with out debate.
Historical past has not been type to the erudite Fernald’s misgivings. Maine now has the report for the longest working license plate motto within the nation, with roots extra venerable than Illinois’ “Land of Lincoln,” which debuted in 1954, the 1969 creation of “Virginia is for Lovers,” and New Hampshire’s extra controversial 1971 introduction of “Reside Free or Die.”
The query of preserving the Maine moniker has been a recurring query, nevertheless. Once in a while proposals are made to switch it. In 2019, for instance, Monmouth legislator Kent Ackley sponsored a proposal to switch it with “Staycationland,”
“What we’re after are these individuals who by no means actually thought of transferring to Maine,” Ackley stated.
Influenced partly by such observations as Maine Tourism Affiliation spokesperson Chris Fogg that “Any message that would presumably give the mistaken impression for them to remain in New Jersey or New York or Boston isn’t one which we’d assist,” the laws failed to achieve traction.
If the purpose of Ackley’s invoice was to encourage guests to make greater than a cameo look in our personal state different options since have emerged within the path of such a mission. Insurance policies together with these in public well being together with enhanced acceptance of working remotely that made the state extra hospitable to these looking for to keep away from the extra densely populated and sometimes extra dangerously contagious areas elsewhere has given rise to an inflow of COVID ex patriots. They embrace those that as soon as merely visited right here however who’ve made the state a everlasting residence. Surges from such sources have particularly emerged within the Ogunquit, Boothbay Harbor, Rangeley and Sugarloaf areas to call just a few.
It’s after all acknowledged that the mere recitation of a single 4 syllable phrase on most license plates is simply a part of the means for sending a message that invitations these to return to the state.
One of the vital distinguished PR professionals who has been working for some 35-years with a wide range of shoppers looking for to attract folks to Maine is Nancy Marshall. “Vacationland” or the more moderen “Welcome Residence” theme are, based on Marshall, half of a bigger branding course of.
“The effectiveness of tourism slogans relies not solely on longevity but in addition on the advertising and marketing technique behind the slogan.”
As Marshall defined one has to “construct a narrative behind the slogan that connects with the focused guests.”
“A model is how a spot, an individual, or a product makes folks really feel of their hearts and the way they give it some thought of their minds. Maine has extraordinarily robust model fairness and has a legendary high quality that creates robust emotions within the hearts and minds of people that could have come to Maine as kids for summer season camp or to go to kin.”
Every of the main figures within the 1935 “Vacationland” debate had notable careers in its aftermath.
For Fernald, an indicator was his management in a 1937 referendum concerning the state’s first gross sales tax, this on grounds that it might tax groceries. He turned a number one – although dropping candidate – in 5 campaigns for governor, the final one in 1948, dropping to Frederick Payne. Payne, throughout his time in workplace put via a gross sales tax that responded to Fernald’s primary objection within the 1937 proposal. That’s as a result of Payne’s legislation shielded groceries from the tax, an exemption that endures at this time. This was in 1951, the 12 months that Fernald died at age 49.
The 38-year outdated Schnurle would go on to turn into a two time period member of the Governor’s Government Council, later spend 30-years as a public relations vice chairman for Central Maine Energy, and put in a time period as president of the State Chamber of Commerce. He was 95 on the time of his demise in 1993.
The invoice’s sponsor, Frank MacKenzie, would quickly depart his Moosehead resort to turn into supervisor of Bangor’s Penobscot Lodge and in addition to chair the Maine Lodge Affiliation. Maybe befitting a proponent of the vacationland theme, Maine for MacKenzie was neither his state of origin nor his retirement domicile. A local of Prince Edward Island, MacKenzie returned to its capital metropolis, Charlottetown, the place he spent some 20 years each in retirement and as a civic chief till his demise there at age 81 in 1965.
Had been Fernald, Schnurle, and MacKenzie to reconvene their “Vacationland” dialogue at this time they doubtless would agree with Secretary Bellows’ determination to purge Maine’s license plates from extraneous epithets!
Paul Mills is a Farmington lawyer well-known for his historic understanding and analyses of public affairs in Maine. He could be reached at [email protected]