Graber Letterin': Signs and Design - Walking
Artist and Sponsor
Bear Fever: Look out or it will get you!
By Elise Sherman
When my perky English Teacher, Jane Stahl, first shared the idea of Bear Fever with me, I was all-ears and almost simultaneously agreed to take part in it. I must admit that I really had no clue as to what I was getting involved in, but that didn't stop me because I was eager to lend a helping hand in a new and interesting project.
At one point, I recall declining my offer of involvement because I was so intimidated and overwhelmed at the amount of work this project seemed to require. Once Mrs. Stahl tenderly encouraged me that I could handle it, I became a girl with one thing on my mind. I had to complete my mission: the mission to track down the undiscovered and irreplaceable Graber Bear.
And so began my hunt for this rare bear. One afternoon, despite the gray overcasts and trickling of rain, I was feeling lucky. Acting spontaneously on this feeling, I telephoned Jeff Graber's business, in hopes of catching him before he ventured off.
Having no "luck" in reaching him, I decided to just drive up to his Letterin' building and take a look around. Arriving at the business, I literally thought my luck ran away when I read the big square sign on the window with the words "CLOSED" pressed on it.
While staring at the sign, which now seemed to be mocking me and my so-called "lucky feeling," my attention was suddenly averted to a young man opening the door adjacent to where I was parked. Thinking this was my only chance, I dashed out of the car and ran up to him and introduced myself.
The day was looking brighter as he announced his name, which was, indeed, Mr. Graber himself, live and in person. He proceeded to invite me in and I began to feel guilty. I could tell my unexpected visit had caught him off guard. Nevertheless, he maintained his composure and enthusiastically agreed to answer some questions.
After some thought- provoking questions that had put him on-the-spot, I offered to leave the questionnaire with him to ponder and then to send it back to me. The interview had pretty much been completed and now was the time I had been anticipating; the revealing of the bear.
As he escorted me into the garage of the building, I was surrounded by an aroma of sawdust and pine trees. A clean smell, it was, yet unfamiliar. I chuckled to myself as I was taking "shots" of the bear and Jeff because he was very concerned about the small stain on his shirt being noticeable in the photos. I reassured him that I would stand far enough away.
So, thus ended my first encounter with Mr. Jeff Graber and his incredible bear. Mission complete, except for the fact that I found out little to nothing about Mr. Graber, personally. It wasn't until three days later, when his information got back to me, that I discovered a little more was well worth the wait.
If there was one word to describe Jeff Graber, it would be BUSY! When he is not perfecting is graphic art in his full-time business, spending quality time with his girls, or designing elaborate pieces of work for Bear Fever, he somehow still manages to go hunting, watch NASCAR, and keep up with his football. This is one dedicated man in all his endeavors.
In Jeff's earlier, he was always skilled in art; and since he had an interest in lettering racing cars, he started a small business that rapidly grew. In 1990, working out of his own basement, he lettered race cars, trucks, and signs. It wasn't until two years later that he established his business as a corporation and moved to present location behind Earl School.
Jeff hopes the project is a success and that the people appreciate the time all the artists and sponsors have invested. Mr. Graber is a very talented man and it was my privilege and honor to have adopted his bear.
Even though I felt like I got a slow start to the project, the journey, thus far, has been indescribable and rewarding. I can't thank Mrs. Stahl enough for not letting me wimp out from the beginning.
I hope and pray that Bear Fever will become contagious and spread like dandelions on your perfectly green grass. This kind of fever we should never want to get rid of.