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Prepare for a seismic plate shift

2/7/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Craig Marks

On the Mark — By Craig Marks

“Pa, is the government coming after our license plates?”

“Don’t worry, little girl. If they come after our plates, they’re going to have to pry them from my cold, nearly dead 2001 Camry. And, trust me, those bolts won’t come off easy. ”

It’s distressing to learn Ohio may force me to get new license plates. I’ve had mine for quite a while and planned to have them for quite a while longer. I figured I’d hold onto them for at least another decade, and then I’d donate them to a kitschy chain restaurant that would hang them on a wall next to some vinyl records and fishing equipment.

But the state may have other ideas. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles is proposing a mandate that would force drivers to replace their plates every seven years at a cost of $10. And if you’re currently driving around with plates celebrating Ohio’s 2003 bicentennial — or its 1953 sesquicentennial or 1978 dodransbicentennial — you’ll be shelling out some dough for new ones.

This does not bode well for my old plates. They are white, though people with long memories will remember them once having a hint of gold. The letters and numbers are blue, with the words “Birthplace of Aviation” in red letters just below “Ohio.” On the bottom of the plate is an area set aside for the county or territory. (Mine say “Portage Path Settlement,” which should give you an indication of their age.)

Are the plates immaculate? No, of course not. I live in Ohio. They show the effects of years of road salt, puddles and lost battles with slush. But they still can be read from a distance, and when I place a new sticker on them, they feel rejuvenated. (I now remove the old stickers before adding the new ones, as the stickers began resembling a stack of individually wrapped slices of American cheese.)

Each time I fill out the license renewal form, I pause when I get to the “Do you want new plates?” question. How about that nice plate with the farmhouse, tree, biplane and rising sun? Someone spent a whole lot of time with their Colorforms set arranging that. Wouldn’t it look good on my car?

Or what about the plate that will be premiering in April? It’s the one with 46 different slogans in the background, including “Polymer Capital of the World,” “America’s Heartland” and “If you are attempting to read these slogans while driving, you are a danger to us all.” Isn’t that the plate for me?

Sorry, but if it’s all the same, I’ll stick with Old Ironsides. My plates and my car have aged together, becoming as one. They’ve both been around the block — many times, as I’m horrible with directions — and to separate them now would be a great injustice.

If I’m forced to, I will make my case to the BMV that my plates should remain where they are. I will do it for the sake of history and to stand up for what is right, and for the very real fear that my rear plate may be the only thing keeping the back end of my car together.

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