TOPEKA — Self-proclaimed “Old Man With a Sign” Gale McCray was met with a mix of horns honked, smiles, thumbs-up and middle fingers as he stood with his anti-Trump poster board Monday in Topeka.
“That’s all I am,” McCray said.
McCray, 74, said he is originally from Lawton, Okla., but is now retired, living in Fort Worth, Texas. He said he isn’t an “astute observer of the political scene” or an activist. He’s just an old man who decided to stand outside with a sign. McCray said he made his sign, which says, “Trump, That Boy Don’t Act Right,” in February and has traveled to at least eight states and Washington, D.C., displaying his sign at intersections. The other side of his sign says, “Resist,” and is signed by songwriters he met in Oklahoma.
As he stood at the intersection of S.W. 21st Street and Wanamaker Road, McCray — a progressive Democrat — got a mixed reception. A handful of drivers honked their horns or smiled at his sign. Others gave him a thumbs-up or wave, and one man yelled at him that President Donald Trump was better than “crooked Hillary,” quoting one of Trump’s insults of his former campaign opponent, Hillary Clinton. McCray spotted one driver giving him a middle finger, which he said happens at least once every time he holds his sign.
“I’ve never had a time, I think, where I didn’t get at least one,” he said.
The record, he said, was nine middle fingers he saw in Nashville. McCray said he usually gets fairly calm or positive reception, but his sign upsets some people.
Before he got to his post at Wanamaker Road, McCray said he spotted members of the Westboro Baptist Church and posed for a photo with them.
McCray said he started holding his sign because he thought Trump was so different from other politicians. He said he thought Trump’s administration was the weirdest thing that has happened in politics.
“I felt I had to do something because Trump is not normal,” McCray said. “If he was a regular Republican, I would not do this.”
As he travels the country in his red Toyota Prius, McCray said he routinely looks for places to stay by posting on his Facebook page, which has more than 2,000 likes. When he was in Washington, D.C., he said documentarian and activist Annabel Park helped him find lodging.
He said he occasionally stays in cheap motels or sleeps in his car if he has no other place, but to date, just shy of 25 people have hosted him.
He said he’s also used GoFundMe and sold merchandise to fund his travels. If he has any left over when he stops touring with this sign, he said he would donate it to the American Civil Liberties Union.
From here, McCray said he hopes to go to Springfield, Mo., because Trump will be there Wednesday, but he keeps his plans fairly flexible and goes to cities where people will host him.
For now, McCray said traveling with his sign is fun, but if it ever ceases being fun, he’ll stop.
“I don’t think I’m anything special,” McCray said. “I think it’s very simple. That’s what I am — I am an old man with a sign.”