See Rock City
Growing up in Atlanta with relatives spread throughout the southeast, I spent alot of time on two lane blacktops.
My dad and I used to play a game where we'd each have one side of the road and whoever could count 100 animals first would win; a graveyard spotted by the other would erase all counts. Other than farms and tractor-trailers on your tail, there was one other constant along these highways; barns appearing with large letters on the roof spelling See Rock City, would continually peak one's interest.
Clark Byers was the man who made that possible. For three decades, Byers painted See Rock City on more than 900 barns in 19 states. He painted various and sundry advertisements as well, but they all led one to See Rock City, which was a tourist attraction of rock formations in the northwest Georgia mountains.
Born and raised in Alabama, Byers worked in a variety of jobs including bottling buttermik and laboring in a cotton mill. It all changed in 1936, when a Chattanooga advertiser hired Byers to paint slogans on barn roofs, advertising Rock City, a unique proposal almost guaranteed to attract attention and bring results. With a couple of helpers, some rope, some paint and some brushes, Byers tackled the rooftops and painted all his slogans freehand. Often risking life and limb, Byers was almost electrocuted, chased by bulls, and narrowly missed lightning strikes, but prevailed and painted for thirty years. Other popular slogans included;
To Miss Rock City would Be a Pity
See Seven States From Rock City
Byers retired in 1969 and spent time running his own attraction, Sequoyah Caverns and Campground in Alabama, eventually leaving that to others while he golfed, supported Alabama football and hunted racoons. His legacy can still be spotted on the backroads of the south, which should give us all an excuse to take a different road.
Mr. Byers passed away last week at the ripe old age of 89 and is now rumored to be painting signs for God. RIP