Good answer in last week’s column, but wrong sign. Your reader was not talking about the Uncle Sam sign in Chehalis, but the religious billboard that’s stood near Kalama for years.


I'm afraid, Liberty, that you (and numerous other readers) are correct: Last week's column answered a question about a wacky billboard near Kalama with a response about a wacky billboard near Chehalis.

Like Ryan Reynolds and Ryan Gosling, Kalama and Chehalis are easy to get mixed up. Still, that's no excuse, so I'm going to man up and take my medicine. (To be honest, I was planning to take the medicine anyway—it's really good medicine. Maybe just a little more…ah, there we go.)

Now, where were we? Oh, right; the billboard. Unfortunately, a combination of scheduling challenges and this tedious electronic ankle monitor made it impossible for me to go up to Kalahalis or whatever to check it out for myself.

Luckily, reader Lesley S., a former resident of the Chelahama area, comes through: "When I moved to Kelso in 1974, the billboard read: 'After death…the judgment.' Kind of a scary message to read from the freeway."

According to an article by Michael Perry in the Columbia River Reader, the billboards in question (there's one facing in each direction along I-5) advertise the Gospel Sign Shop, supposedly housed in a tiny shack between the two signs.

I say "supposedly," since Perry claims the "shop" exists to take advantage of a loophole in the 1960s law restricting billboards along the highway: The signs are legal because they aren't really signs, they're onsite samples of the work the Gospel Sign Shop could do for you.

It's not clear how you'd hire them, since they don't appear to have a phone number or any other independently confirmable footprint as a business. But I suppose that with enough medicine, anything is possible.

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