The History of the Devil Sign
Recently I had a conversation with a friend about the infamous Alabama “Devil Sign.” He found it embarrassing to the state of Alabama, or, more specifically, those people living in the State who have some degree of common sense. (We don’t ALL support the orange dictator, date our cousins, and have bad teeth, you know.) I explained to him that the sign is maintained these days out of a sense of nostalgia and is displayed tongue-in-cheek. In fact it might have always been viewed this way.
As it turns out, the Devil Sign has a prosaic yet interesting origin. It originated on a tin road sign between the cities of Prattville and Montgomery, when a Montgomery businessman named Mose Stuart opened a franchise of area gas stations in the 1920s. He called his stations, or the first station—it isn’t clear which—the “Red Devil,” and the devil figure festooned the sign above the gas pumps. When Stuart was harassed by the conglomerate Standard Oil, he opened a “recreational park” near his gas station out of spite. He created an artificial lake for this park that was subsequently named Red Devil Lake. The lake was destroyed when, in 1939, a flood caused the dam that maintained it to burst. The dam was never repaired, but the gas station—and the tin devil sign—remained. The gas station eventually closed and was demolished, but the sign stood in place until a man named Newell took it and put it on his “Go to church” sign in 1988.
Newell’s sons still own and maintain the property whereupon the Devil Sign stands. The Devil, then, is a symbol of defiance against big business, individual entrepreneurship, and bygone days. Nothing sinister about it at all.
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (www.evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/evilcheezproductions), specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734763
MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!