An anti-Trump sign has taken an Ok­la­homa man around the coun­try

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - STATE | METRO - BY JUSTIN WINGERTER Staff Writer jwingerter@ok­la­homan.com

It took only 10 min­utes for some­one to give Gale McCray the mid­dle fin­ger.

The 74-year-old from Lawton was stand­ing on a grassy is­land at the in­ter­sec­tion of North­west Ex­press­way and Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue on Thurs­day morn­ing, do­ing what he has done since Fe­bru­ary: hold­ing a sign that reads, in bold and black letters, “Trump, That Boy Don’t Act Right.”

“There’s another mid­dle fin­ger! My second fin­ger!” he shouted a short time later as a passerby dis­played her dis­like.

McCray keeps a tally of the mid­dle fin­gers he re­ceives on a given day and writes down some of the cruder in­sults shouted in his di­rec­tion. Thurs­day’s win­ning phrase was eight words, three of them ex­plicit.

“I get more pos­i­tive re­ac­tions than neg­a­tive but it can re­ally push some peo­ple’s but­tons,” he said.

Since Fe­bru­ary, McCray has trav­eled to eight states hold­ing what he calls “The Sign,” lodg­ing with whomever will house him and go­ing wher­ever there is a new­found friend. It took him to Wash­ing­ton D.C., where he met U.S. Rep. John Lewis. Doc­u­men­tary film­maker Annabel Park gave him $20 and has helped ar­range some of his trav­els, he says.

The strange jour­ney be­gan in­nocu­ously enough. McCray, who now lives in Fort Worth, would stand on a cor­ner in the Texas city with his home­made sign. Then peo­ple rec­om­mended he take his show on the road, so he did. Nearly all of the street cor­ners and in­ter­sec­tions he’s stood on are in towns, cities and states that voted for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in Novem­ber.

McCray’s phrase — “that boy don’t act right” — is one that was used often in 1950s Lawton, he says, and he be­lieves its folksy roots en­sure all can un­der­stand it. Back in his home­town — where his high school chant was “We drink beer! We drink whiskey! We’re the se­niors of 1960!” — the phrase “that boy don’t act right” was often fol­lowed by “God bless him” or “bless his heart.”

“So, I re­ally didn’t put that much thought into it,” he said of the phrase.

Re­ac­tions to McCray are em­blem­atic of the po­lar­ized po­lit­i­cal land­scape that pre­ceded and fol­lowed the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. A lib­eral in a small, deeply con­ser­va­tive Texas town called him heroic. Some sup­port­ers of the pres­i­dent believe he is de­ter­mined to ruin Amer­ica.

McCray’s not sure which re­ac­tion is more bizarre. Nei­ther vil­lain nor hero, he says he is what his busi­ness cards, Twit­ter ac­count and Face­book page say he is: “Old Man With a Sign.” His Face­book page has more than 2,000 fans who fol­low his trav­els — and the sign’s trav­els — and vol­un­teer their spare rooms or spare money for his use.

Twenty-three peo­ple, by his count, have said he can stay with them. Some nights he sleeps in his car or a cheap mo­tel. He sells mer­chan­dise with the phrase “Trump, That Boy Don’t Act Right” to help with travel ex­penses.

“I don’t think I’m chang­ing any­body’s mind,” McCray said of his tour through con­ser­va­tive Amer­ica. “What I want to do is say we’re here and we’re not go­ing away.”

He’s go­ing to Tulsa next, then up to Kansas for stops in Topeka and Kansas City. From there, maybe he’ll go to Min­nesota, he says. Or maybe not. He re­ceived an of­fer to stay in North Dakota, so he’s con­sid­er­ing a trip there, though he’s never been.

“It’s fun,” he said. “I know that sounds weird but if it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t do it.”

At the cor­ner of Penn­syl­va­nia and North­west Ex­press­way, dozens of cars honked in sup­port dur­ing the hour he was there. One man in a large pickup yelled, “Go to hell!” Another chanted, “Trump’s my guy, yay Trump!” re­peat­edly as he sat at a red light. McCray looked at the man, shrugged his shoul­ders, and said, “Okay.”

Then there was another re­ac­tion to The Sign, a re­ac­tion McCray seems to like most of all: laugh­ter.

“See, she’s smil­ing!” he shouted as a mid­dleaged woman drove by. “I love it!”

[PHOTO BY JUSTIN WINGERTER, THE OK­LA­HOMAN]

Gale McCray, of Lawton, dis­plays his sign Thurs­day at an in­ter­sec­tion in Ok­la­homa City.

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