On this morning’s walk Betty and I stopped by the waterside parking lot below one of the shops in Stonington. I love the hand-lettered “Do Not Throw Rocks” sign there, perched as it is at the end of a field of rocks the size of a baby’s fist, with a beautiful stretch of water just ahead and lots of targets to measure the strength of your throwing arm. In short, it’s just about perfect stone-tossing territory.
I wonder how many kids, and adults, walk up to admire the scenery, see the sign, think “you know, that’s not a bad idea,” and glance around furtively to see if the coast is clear for one granite throw? Even though no one was around, I managed to resist temptation.
People in German Village put a lot of faith in signs. You see them all over the place, in random spots, appealing for opposition to proposed development projects or asking for help in preserving a community initiative or staking out some other position for all to see.
This sign, which has appeared at the Third Street entrance to Schiller Park, is a good example of the phenomenon. Its goal is laudable: speeding, especially on Third Street, is a chronic problem in German Village. Of course, it’s entirely debatable whether speeders are going to notice a sign—even a bright yellow one—or be deterred by it. A policeman stationed at that spot with a radar gun would undoubtedly have more of an impact.
Still, I’m glad I live in a neighborhood where people believe in the power of signs. It shows that people are engaged and believe that an individual’s efforts can make a difference. I’d rather have neighbors who are paying attention and trying to effect change. It’s when the signs disappear that there is cause for concern, because it indicates that people either don’t care anymore, or they have given up hope that their efforts can make a difference.
One of the many cool things about Stonington is the presence of handmade signs—like these two carefully carved signs identifying Ocean Drive.
Why are there two virtually identical road signs, right on top of each other? Beats me! It’s just part of the charm of the place.
Many of the signs around town are hand-lettered and often involve artwork for some added panache. Lobsters are popular accents for signs, for example. I think some of the business owners feel that hand-lettered signs are a personal touch that says more about their business than a commercially produced sign. And the signs around town aren’t limited to commercial establishments, either. Some houses have joined in the hand-lettering parade and put up their own signs. Sometimes the yard signs are political, sometimes they are more personal — like asking dog walkers to please not let their dogs off the leash.
I find the personal signs to be affirming. You wouldn’t make a sign unless you believed it will have an impact. In a town where people do a lot of walking, it’s nice to know that neighbors believe that passersby will read their signs and at least acknowledge — if not agree with — them.
After taking a hiatus of sorts, the Third Street Secret Signmaker is back with another positive message — a positive message that I am sure everyone particularly appreciates during this weird period. I don’t know whether the message is specific to dealing with coronavirus issues, or is intended to have a more general thrust, but I’m going to read it as directed at COVID-19. And I agree with it, too.
We are enough to deal with this issue — and I think we’re starting to see that. Kish went to the grocery store today and there was no chaos or panic buying. Indeed, there was even toilet paper and milk in stock. People were polite, friendly, and helpful to each other.
I think people are starting to calm down and pull together, and when that happens there is nothing we can’t do.
It’s news when people engage in panic-buying, and not news when the panic stops and sanity returns. The Secret Signmaker might suggest that we take a deep breath, trust our instincts, and realize we can handle this. We really are enough, if we just act like it.
Our anonymous Third Street Bridge sign artist has struck again. When I walked by yesterday morning, I saw that the latest hand-lettered sign channels an inner Stuart Smalley, the fictional character played by Al Franken on Saturday Night Live years ago. You may recall that the mild-mannered, sweater-wearing Stuart gave a Daily Affirmation with a positive message that always concluded: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”
I’d say that “You are worthy” falls squarely into the Stuart Smalley mindset. (Those of us who don’t share Stuart Smalley’s hopeful and constructive world view might ask, in response, “Worthy of what?” But never mind that.)
It’s nice to know that some unknown person cares enough about the well-being of their fellow Columbusites to create inspirational messages to help us feel good about ourselves and spur us forward on our days. I’m looking forward to the next sign that helps to put a spring in my step on the way to work.
This sizable, hand-lettered sign appeared yesterday on the Third Street bridge that links German Village to downtown Columbus. At first I thought the sign might be referring to the typically snarled traffic on the bridge — because bad traffic sure can seem like hell — then figured it was just some general encouragement for anybody who might be facing a tough patch in their lives. Since I was heading into work bright and early on a beautiful Sunday morning, the sign had some resonance for me.
What would motivate someone to create a sign like that, and post it on a fence on a public thoroughfare? I can only guess, but I thought it was nice to know that somebody cared enough about their fellow humans to fashion and display a generally applicable message that might give complete strangers a boost.
Is any punctuation mark more misused than the poor apostrophe? How often do you see a sign, like this one in downtown Columbus, where an apostrophe has been weirdly inserted for some mysterious reason, causing inevitable confusion? In this case, are multiple condos for lease, or is the sign supposed to communicate a contraction of “condo is for lease”? And don’t get me started on whether there’s a person named “Condo” involved in some fashion and there is supposed to be any possessive element to what is being conveyed.
It’s amazing how many commercial signs have apostrophe errors. If you are going to put up a big sign about something for sale, wouldn’t you also invest in a proofreader?
Some people are good at seeing patterns. I’m not. In fact, I stink at it. I never could find the hidden pictures in the Highlights for Children magazines in the dentist’s waiting room, and I don’t really see either the young woman or the old crone, or the vace and two faces, either.
So when I passed this sign on a walk through downtown Boise it took me a while to figure out that it was supposed to reflect a ram. An apparently very sad, gloomy ram, but a ram nevertheless.
Why would anyone want a gloomy ram as their business logo? Beats me! But it you did, why not just have a picture of the ram that even pattern-challenged people like me can recognize?
For months, they’ve been refurbishing Pearl Alley, which runs between, and parallel to, Broad Street and Gay Street in downtown Columbus. The goal is to spiff it up for the farmers’ market and other events that often are held there. The alley has been pretty torn up as they’ve put in new light fixtures and probably made some less visible modifications, but it looks like they’re finally done — with work capped by this new sign at the Third Street entrance to the alley that I noticed for the first time on my walk home tonight.
It’s kind of a weird sign, but at least it’s got some symbolism going for it. The hand is extending what appears to be a giant pearl — get it? — and the tattoo on the bicep of the arm reads “Lynn,” which just happens to be the name of the alley that intersects Pearl Alley halfway between High Street and Third Street. Pretty clever!
The Pearl Alley project was a pain for those of us working in the neighborhood, but I’m glad they did it. Pearl Alley is used frequently, and if you want to encourage people to come downtown and even move downtown, nice urban spaces have to be part of the attraction. The Pearl Alley project has been another step in the process.
I was walking down Parsons Avenue this morning, heading toward the Ace Hardware store, when I noticed this sign. It is a memorable one, with a seriously creepy element to it, too. No one wants to look at a disembodied hand, really — but It harkens back to the ’60s, when many signs featured folk art elements that sought to make the business memorable. In those days it wasn’t unusual to see fiberglass cowboys, spinning globes, and neon martini glasses as you drove down Main Street.
Of course, the sign reminded me of Thing from The Addams Family. As I took the picture I half expected Lurch to show up and intone, in that impossibly deep bass voice: “You rang?”
This sign appeared in downtown Columbus a few days ago. At first I thought it was there for the Columbus Marathon, but it’s been saying “Blah Blah Blah” for days now — and, as the photo above shows, it’s positioned with the Ohio Statehouse in the background.
Could the sign be a political statement? Hmmm . . . I wonder.
Montana is bear country, with a hardy population of grizzlies and black bears roaming through the wilderness. Signs at trail heads remind you of the risk that you might encounter a bear. The risk was made manifest a few days before we arrived, when an experienced outdoorsman on a mountain bike literally ran headlong into a grizzly after turning a corner on a trail and was fatally mauled.
We don’t want to mess with bears, so we’ve stayed on the popular trails, tried to make a lot of noise to warn the bears away, and kept our eyes open. So far, we’ve had two bear sightings, but no direct interaction — fortunately.
Every morning I walk past the Columbus Dispatch building on Third, and every night I see it again as I walk home from work. I like the news crawl, which gives me a taste of the latest developments in the world, but I especially like the neon sign that sits atop the building. It’s old school, with its delicate steel girder support structure and olde English script, and it’s been there, I think, since I first came to Columbus in 1971. Along with the Statehouse, the Ohio Theater and the LeVeque tower, it’s one of the few unchanged staples of the downtown area.