The brains behind the sayings on Dunn’s sign in Everett

‘Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”

Does that saying sound familiar … but you just can’t pinpoint why?

Maybe it was while driving down Boeing Freeway near Evergreen Way in Everett.

Right! The Dunn Lumber signboard.

Every week the lumber folks put up new sayings to make us mull, reflect, laugh or ponder along our way to wherever we’re going.

Assistant manager Billy McMillen selects the maxims, adages, saws and aphorisms from a pool of sources.

He was watching SpongeBob with his kids when he heard the sea sponge say: “I don’t want to face my fears. I’m afraid of them.”

Yep, that went up on the sign.

Sayings come from scholars, pundits and other Dunn Lumber stores with signboards.

The unsung heroes are the lumber yard guys who put up the words. Hoisted by a forklift in a safety cage, they attach the flimsy plastic letters using a simple pole with suction cup.

“They really work hard,” McMillen said. “They put them up in rain and snow. When it’s 30 degrees they are 20 feet in the air. That’s the hard part.”

The new yard guy gets to do it, said yard foreman Craig Larson. It takes about 45 minutes, once they master the pole device and how to turn a V into an A with black tape when an extra vowel is needed.

A different saying goes on each side of the sign. People complain if they don’t change the sayings every week or if there’s a mistake.

“We put up, ‘Come to Dunn Lumber’ and it had our phone number for the store and we actually screwed it up and somebody told us, ‘Hey, that phone number’s wrong,’” Larson said.

The saying “Free High Fives” was a hit. People came in giving high fives.

Do they ever run out of ideas?

Funny you should ask.

They would totally take suggestions.

Got a favorite phrase? Send it to or stop by the store at 425 E. Casino Road in Everett.

Signs change on Mondays. Maybe it will be yours.

As for the “time flies” line, Wikipedia says it’s used in linguistics as an example of a garden path sentence or syntactic ambiguity, and in word play as an example of punning, double entendre and antanaclasis.

It’s also a Groucho Marx quote.

More in Life

Bob Jepperson’s Wild Love Story

A perfect circle of sounds, pictures and storytelling from the Anacortes author.

‘Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ lead Golden Globe nominations

“The Post” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” also collected a number of nominations.

Mukilteo Police Chief Cheol Kang is known for his people skills

The city’s top cop’s calm demeanor and holistic approach earns him the nickname “Yoda.”

Three posh places to escape this winter in north Puget Sound

Whether it’s wine country, backcountry or the seashore, a relaxing retreat is close at hand.

Getting a glimpse of what’s coming as we age

Everett Public Library reading to help you understand the changes ahead in your elder years.

This author is throwing a virtual party for book lovers

Jennifer Bardsley is hosting a Facebook get-together for young-adult book authors and readers.

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Taylor Johnston waters a philodendron at her home on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Three guidebooks to help the novice houseplant gardener

Indoor plants are popular again — and we’re not talking about your grandma’s African violets.

Bustling Dublin offers big-city sights and Irish charm

The dynamic city has a great story to tell, and people who excel at telling it.

Most Read