‘PUMKING’: We’re not finished with funny licenses plates

Readers sent more of their personalized plates, explaining what they really mean.

Quincy and Whisper sit on the back of a Jeep, whose plate was personalized by owner Bob Littlejohn, of Granite Falls, to reflect a nickname he received through his role with a local dog park. (Contributed photo)

Quincy and Whisper sit on the back of a Jeep, whose plate was personalized by owner Bob Littlejohn, of Granite Falls, to reflect a nickname he received through his role with a local dog park. (Contributed photo)

Just joking. Well, sort of.

In my story last month about Street Smarts readers’ favorite personalized license plates, one of the featured plates was “JOKING.” Yes, it sort of means “joking.” But, really, it’s a name.

And it’s the last of a long line of “KING” plates.

At one time, you could have called Raymond and JoAnn King the kings of the road for personalized license plates.

“We square dance,” Raymond King said. “And instead of saying JoAnn they’d call out ‘Jo,’ and then it was ‘Jo King,’ and then ‘joking.’ … We put it on her plate. It’s been on there many years.”

At one point, the King family had seven vehicles with personalized license plates — all of them incorporating the surname.

“The one that really started it was on a 1934 Ford,” King said. “It was bright orange, and we called it ‘PUMKING.’ To this day they ask, ‘Where’s the PUMKING?’ ”

There was “PARKING” and “COKING.”

That last one was for a trailer made from an old Coke machine, a soda the Kings love. After a few years of not getting approval, King finally called the state and got permission for it. The state had been denying the request because it could be construed as supporting drugs. After King showed them photos of all the other plates, they gave him special one-time approval.

Another one that caused some confusion was on a red 1957 customized Oldsmobile the couple took to car shows: “KRZKING.” The car show crowd got it: “Cruise king!” Others? Not so much. “Crazy king?”

Some jokes were on purpose, though. His wife got him a “RAKING” one for his truck. It was for his name, sure, but she still told everybody the retired mechanic and building maintenance worker was a gardener.

Then there was the Harley Davidson with “OINKNG.”

“That went really well at Sturgis,” King said.

But all that remains is “JOKING.”

It wasn’t so much the money as what they got in return. King didn’t like it when the state changed away from green and white motifs.

“The final thing that broke the camel’s back was when they weren’t raised letters anymore. They were just painted on,” King said.

Other gems

Thanks to Neil Knutson for connecting me with King, his old co-worker.

Others also reached out to me after the story.

Bob Littlejohn, of Granite Falls, has a Jeep labeled “DOGFTHR.”

He’s a dog lover, not a dog fighter (as a couple folks have misread over the years).

Littlejohn was behind the effort to add fencing for a dedicated off-leash area in his hometown several years ago. “People started calling me The Dogfather,” Littlejohn said. “It took about three years before this plate was available and I grabbed it immediately.”

That’s not his only personalized plate. Littlejohn is a retired police officer and continues to conduct polygraph exams. His other one: “NO LIES.”

Tom Green, of Lake Stevens, has a red Corvette that’s a “LO FLYR” for more than its low profile.

“I flew in the F-4B Phantom fighter jet in the Navy in Vietnam. I also have my commercial pilot’s license with multi-engine and instrument ratings and flew commercially for a while. I also raced sports cars,” Green said. “So when I quit flying and racing, I just had to name my Corvette the ‘LO FLYR.’”

Neena Blackwell, of Everett, used to have a personalized license plate in the 1980s. Like many people, she chose her nickname, which at the time was “NEENER.”

“I got rid of it because I didn’t like people knowing where I was all the time,” she said. “I was driving down Evergreen Way recently and saw it on another car.”

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