How Many “Watch Your Curves” Signs Have You Seen On Back Roads?
Let's play fill in the blank. Try this one. "Watch your curves! Eat more ____." If you said beef, then you'd be correct. These vintage signs used to be all over the panhandle, and beyond.
When Did These Signs First Pop Up...
...is a great question. I haven't been able to find an official date on when the signs first started popping up, but from some of the best educated guesses I could find, it would have been some time in the 50s.
Several have referred to it as the "golden age of road signs," before First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, decided that "cleaning up" America's highways would be her pet project.
Lady Bird Johnson And The End Of An Era
That pet project wound up being the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, and part of it was reigning in out-of-control signage along America's highways...their words not mine.
She thought if we cleaned up the highways and streets, then the U.S. would be a much better place to be. Let's just say the jury's still out on that one, Lady Bird, though the effort was and is much appreciated.
We've still got our problems, but at least the horizon isn't blocked by billboards.
These Signs Exist In More Places Than Just Texas
One of the most famous versions of this sign, which I'll get to in a bit, has Texas Beef Council written on it. But other states had their version of the beef boards too.
In Oklahoma, there's a version of this sign that's still in incredible shape and it has the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Assoc. written along the bottom.
On the Kastl Farm version of the sign in Oklahoma near Yukon on Route 66, it has Beef Industry Council written on the bottom in green paint. Interestingly enough, you can see faded out letters spelling Texas Beef Council behind the newer green lettering.
Why The Change From Texas Beef Council to Beef Industry Council?
Glad you asked. Here's what I've been able to piece together.
Cattle producers were having a rough go of it thanks to two world wars, the Korean war, and a whole host of other issues. This led the National Beef Council and several state councils (like the Texas Beef Council on the sign) to compromise with other groups and form the Beef Industry Council, which is probably why it was painted over on the Kastl Farm sign.
Now you know. By the way, this all happened in 1963. Two years before Lady Bird's "war on signs."
Several Of The Signs Still Stand
If you're feeling nostalgic and a touch adventurous, you can supposedly still find these signs all over the place. There are several in the panhandles still, and some along old Route 66.
Also, you can get your own version of the Texas Beef Council sign as part of a vintage pinup girl poster or tin sign. I used to have that exact one hanging in my house when I was a much younger, less married, man.