IDAHO FALLS – “Tourists — Do not laugh at the natives.”
“Petrified watermelons — Take one home to your mother-In-Law.”
These are just a few humorous roadside advertisements seen across Idaho’s long stretches of desert.
The man behind those advertisements is Farris Lind, or “Fearless Farris,” as he was commonly known. He went on to create a thriving chain of gas stations called Stinker Stations. The Idaho State Journal says they were called Stinker Stations because a major brand gasoline dealer had once called Lind “a real stinker” because of his low prices.
“It took Fearless Farris about a second to latch onto that nickname and make a skunk his company mascot and logo,” ISJ wrote.
Stinker Store advertisements such as “Idaho’s Skunks are not to be sniffed at” or “With a later start you wouldn’t be here yet,” have become an iconic Idaho symbol in their own right.
“Those roadside signs spoke to his sense of humor,” Charley Jones, who owns the Stinker company today, told the Idaho Statesman. “People enjoyed his smile, and he was quirky enough to put those smiles out there on those advertising signs.”
Rick Just, an author from Blackfoot, recently wrote a book about Farris Lind’s life entitled, “Fearless: Farris Lind, The Man Behind the Skunk.”
“Farris Lind was a fighter pilot, a crop duster, and in his later life, a victim of polio. He had a natural gift for promotion and an ability to turn a bad situation into something positive,” Just wrote.
Polio paralyzed Lind from the neck down, Just says, and he was always hooked up to a respirator. But Lind continued to operate his Stinker Stations and grow his business from his bed. In 1973, Lind was was honored as the Handicapped American of the Year.
Just’s inspiration for the book was prompted, in part, by a blog post he wrote in April about “Fearless Farris.” His blog, “Speaking of Idaho,” discusses the history behind many well-known-Idaho events. Just’s blog posts normally get about 2,500 interactions, but that wasn’t the case when he posted about Farris Lind.
The blog post that gave a quick overview of the history behind the Stinker Stores garnered nearly 25,000 interactions. Just decided the Stinker story deserved more attention, so he wrote a book.
“‘Fearless’ tells how Lind went from being a dirt-poor teenager in the Depression to a multimillionaire, always keeping his sense of humor through tragedy and triumph,'” wrote Just.
Just is currently touring eastern Idaho signing books at different locations, including a select few Stinker Stores. He was in Blackfoot Saturday afternoon and finished a book signing Saturday night at Barnes and Noble in Idaho Falls. He was in Pocatello Friday at the Walrus & Carpenter bookstore in downtown. Visit his Facebook page to find out where he’s going next.
“Fearless” is currently available on Amazon and at various Stinker Store locations.