Wicked Wednesday-Signs

Jessie: Glad to be wrapped up in a cozy sweater, even indoors!

For our third installment on the topic of signs, I wanted to turn the topic to the sort that grace storefronts and commercial buildings. Do you ever catch yourself spotting grammatical or spelling errors on signs? Have you ever seen one that tickled your funny bone? Any that inspired feelings of nostalgia?

Edith/Maddie: I always spot the errors in signs. Always. And have to slap my hand not to fix a misplaced apostrophe or quotation marks (although once, waiting hours with my mother-in-law – a retired English teacher – for her to go into surgery, we spotted an error in a hospital poster on the wall. Bette approved when I got out the red pen…). I got a giggle out of the Booby Marché I spotted in Burkina Faso once, and from the signs for places like “Praise the Lord Auto Mechanic and Funeral Parlor” that are everywhere in Ghana.

Sherry: The most memorable sign error I spotted was during a search for preschools for my daughter. I’d been visiting various preschools and saw a sign at one that said, “No Smoking Aloud.” I thought about pointing it out to the person showing us around, but decided not to so it would be a warning for others that this just might not be the place you wanted to send your child to.

Barb: I was on the Isle of Man this summer. A strange place in the Irish sea between Ireland and England, it has its own language and money, a Viking castle, and Manx cats. The island isn’t short on atmospherics. That’s why I particularly appreciated this sign on a local bulletin board.

Liz: Sign errors drive me crazy. The worst ones are the random apostrophes that people use when there is NO possessive anything in the words…

Julie: Barb, that sign makes me laugh! I tend to fix errors in my head, so I can move past them on signs. Though they can be jarring. And, as in Sherry’s case, give you more information than you realized.

Jessie: I love all of your comments! I tend to notice errors in signs too, but my favorite is nostalgic signs with old-fashioned type or imagery. Maybe it is the historical writer in me that explains why I adore spotting “ghost signs” on brick buildings. There is one on an old building at an intersection in Maine that I pass on my way to the beach. Every time I see it I think of the way life must have been back when that sign was freshly painted on the brick, high above the street. Charming!

Readers, how about you? Have you encountered any memorable signs?

20 Thoughts

  1. The funniest one I’ve seen was in a restaurant in Indiana on the way back from Florida. We were detoured because of a massive pile up on the interstate and ended up spending the night at a local motel. Anyway, the special of the day sign said, “Vile Parmesan with Marina Sauce.” We didn’t order it.

  2. Sign errors can be hysterical – and I do notice them, but danged if I can think of one now.

    Yes, Jessie, ghost signs are wonderful. We have one here that reads Roy Mercantile and General Store. The gold ink is very faded, the building is still in the Roy family, although now it’s a NAPA store. I see women in long dresses covered by heavy coats with nipped in waists sporting fur muffs handing the clerk their shopping lists and carrying on conversations, their words punctuated with puffs of foggy air.

  3. Not long ago, I passed a takeout place specializing in fish and chicken. They had “telapia” listed as one of their menu items. Now, I’m not a fan of seafood, but even I know tilapia is not spelled with an “e.”

  4. As a former Braille transcriber I check out signs to see if there are errors. At the Olympic Training facility in Park City, UT, the sign on the bathroom had the dots going inward not bumped out to be read. My other favorites are where the “braille” is just painted dots, not raised. Not very helpful.

  5. Jessie, I love ghost signs, too, and Lancaster has a lot of them. But it, and the surrounding communities, also have a chain of pizza joints, who can’t decide how to spell their name. Two Cousins, Two Cousin’s, or Two Cousins’. My English sensibility won’t let me patronize them!

    And one of my favorite “giggle” signs is “Eat here: subs. (next line) Live worms”. Think I’ll skip that one, too. And there used to be an emporium in Cleveland: Lottie’s Delicatessen and Bridal Shop.

  6. Usually, the signs that are memorable are ones I’ve seen in pictures, not in real life. Of course, I can’t remember any of them right now, so maybe they aren’t that memorable….

  7. The signs I’ve seen that were terribly funny were on the side of a vehicle. One was in Omaha, NE. On the back of the garbag truck the sign said, “Satisfaction Gauranteed, or Double Your Trash Back!” My other favorite was a long time ago, probably early 60’s (yes I’m old). I was with my folks driving through Missouri. It was late at night and an old “woody” stationwagon was driving by with a little old man hunched over the steering wheel. On the side of the car was a large, lighted cross, and the words, “Weight Lifting for Jesus.” I thought my dad was going to drive in the ditch we were laughing so hard.

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