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Mississippi would flat out lose the license plate game

During the summer before my eighth-grade year, I joined my uncle on a trip across country.

Our adventure started in Mobile, Ala. and meandered our way over the next week or so to Phoenix. We made stops in Louisiana, spent a few days in Texas, made our way through New Mexico before heading north to Colorado, and then back south to Phoenix.

In San Antonio, I got to see where my father went to high school, visit The Riverwalk and the Alamo. I went across the border in El Paso and experienced the sugar white sands at White Sands National Monument.

At the top of Pike’s Peak, I regretted wearing shorts as snow fell, and to this day am still in awe of the vistas at the Grand Canyon.

I can vividly remember the many games and conversations my uncle and me had during the trip. One such game was the license plate game, where he and I would see who could spot the most license plates from different states.

Our trip took us mainly along Interstate 10, so states like Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico were a given. But, never did I expect to catch an Alaska license or much less a license plate from Hawaii. I mean how did they drive to Arizona?

As we traveled west, the plates from states along the east coast became rare, with the exception of the random New York or Pennsylvania plates.

As we played the game, we would comment about what the plate looked like, the colors, design, etc. We would have trouble reading some states’ and were amazed at the artwork on others.

Of the license plates we saw, Texas was the most basic — boring — with just black and white lettering, with “Texas” at the top. New York and Pennsylvania were not much better.

But, as we traveled, states like New Mexico and Arizona stood out. They had flair, color and stood out among the rest. They were license plates to be proud of.

Growing up in Alabama, the license plates were pretty plain — I mean not Texas plain — but still they lacked imagination. The phrase “Heart of Dixie” and a few hearts on either side were placed at the top of the plate.

Later, Alabama put some effort into the design, highlighting the beaches in south Alabama and the mountains in the north. It was a license plate that stood out among others.

You’re probably wondering, and rightfully so, why license plates would be such a memory to share.

All you have to do is look at today’s Mississippi license plate and know why. We — our plates are boring, basic — and that is a shame.

For everything Mississippi has contributed and continues to contribute, you would think we could do better than a tan plate with a logo that’s off-center.

Maybe the color was picked to depict what your white car would look like driving down one of our dirt roads. Maybe the off-center logo is to show what happens to something as it is knocked off center driving down streets in Jackson.

From being home to the Blues to having a big hand in America’s space race, we could be better; we should be better.

And if you’re looking for something to build a design around, look no further than out our back door at the Mississippi River and the impact it has on the nation’s economy. We should be better.

Our license plate — the tan disaster — lacks imagination and flair. A far cry from what Mississippi truly is.

Among the many reasons why a change is needed, I want our plate — our state — talked about in another child’s license plate game for the right reason.

 

Tim Reeves is editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at tim.reeves@vicksburgpost.com.

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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