In her 61 years, Candy Loving has accrued a long list of accomplishments.
She graduated from college; landed film and television roles in Hollywood; and at age 22 reportedly beat out more than 3,500 other models in a nationwide contest to be the centerfold of Playboy’s 25th anniversary publication in 1979, according to information found online.
But perhaps her most impressive and relevant achievement for those of us in the Yakima Valley is that she — or rather, her likeness — has managed to welcome every Selah resident and visitor to the city for most of the 38 years since.
In the form of a large painted sign, an image of Candy — born Candis Loving — greets motorists and pedestrians from the side of the former Helms True Value Hardware building at the intersection of North First Street and West and East Naches avenues. She’s seen holding a flower in her right hand while looking seductively over the shoulder of her silver satin jacket, which shows an apple with the word “Selah” embroidered above it. The slogan “Washington: Apple Juice Capital of the World” is painted across the black background to her right.
The sign’s artist, former Selah resident Dean Rainey, got the idea for the painting from the cover of Playboy’s August 1979 issue, which shows Candy in the same pose, albeit a bit more scantily clad.
“I needed a model to get that image of (someone) looking back at you,” he said. “Plus, she’s an all-American looking chick, kind of like the girl next door.”
Being a commercial artist most of his life, Rainey said he painted the sign after the Selah Chamber of Commerce, of which he was a member, came into a surplus of money and wanted to experiment with works of art that promoted the state and the city. Rainey, now 68, doesn’t remember exactly when he painted the sign, but Selah Mayor Sherry Raymond said she thinks it was put up sometime in the 1980s.
The painting was done on sheets of plywood before being anchored to the building, and the majority of Selah residents — former and current — interviewed for this story said they didn’t know its somewhat risque origin.
However, Raymond said she’s known about Candy for the past 15 or 20 years and didn’t think much about it. She encouraged residents to embrace the sign’s place in Selah’s history despite its backstory.
“It’s Selah’s history, it’s the wall of Selah,” she said. “At the time, it was important to the artist and it became important to Selah.”
Rainey said he’s aware people may not be happy with him, but said he isn’t worried about the reaction.
“This could get (me) in a lot of trouble,” he said with a laugh. “Bring it on.”