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August 26, 2002

Seen along the highway
Posted by Teresa at 05:55 PM *

The best collection of actual roadside signs I’ve ever seen.

Comments on Seen along the highway:
#1 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2002, 06:14 PM:

Spotted near the PA - NJ border: A sign advertising the services of ERNEST DUH, ATTOURNEY AT LAW.

I have a picture.

#2 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2002, 07:13 PM:

I sent him one of my faves: the hair salon called Curl Up and Dye (New Bedford, MA)

#3 ::: Kip ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2002, 07:31 PM:

Just last week, a friend of mine and I went out and photographed wall signs and others in the Newport News area. Sadly, the old Tom & Jerry Market, with its copyright-breaking nephew-art sign, has been replaced by a new building (although the clerk was wearing an apron with T&J on it when we went in to ask about it).

I also note with mild sorrow that the photo I sent to the Muffler Men section of Roadside America seems to be gone. They had it up for a while, though -- the Muffler King on Jefferson Avenue has a unique feature: iron grillwork over the window, depicting the Muffler King himself. I expect I'll put some of this stuff up on my web page before too long. For the children.

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2002, 09:01 AM:

Back on Staten Island, we were forever driving past the offices of Mailman, Flug, and Ozer, Dentists.

In the town where I grew up there were big neon signs for both Dick's Liquors and Liquor Palms, but I don't think anyone else ever noticed they were funny.

#5 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2002, 09:35 AM:

There now, I'm forgetting two of my favorites, both from the Pacific Northwest: The Fuzzy-Wuzzy Rug Company, in Seattle, and EAT MOTEL, which was right off the interstate some distance south from there.

#6 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2002, 10:27 AM:

I always got puzzled looks from passengers whenever we drove past "Lion Liquors" in Medford, Mass., and I remarked that they must be the bravest people in the Commonwealth.

#7 ::: Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2002, 10:39 AM:

There's a deli in Hoboken called Natural And Plus.

Also a salon called Hair I Am (funnier to Pagans than to most people).

When I was a kid, there was a bar & grill in Okemos whose sign just said BAR - FOOD. These two words lit up alternately, which became very amusing (to me as I was first learning computers) when the D burned out.

#8 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2002, 12:02 PM:

My fave variation is movie theater marquees. The winner used to be

The Fly
Gods Must Be Crazy

But it was beaten recently by

Erin Brockavich
My Dog Skip

#9 ::: James Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2002, 12:53 PM:

My favorite theatre marquee was


#10 ::: Janet Lafler ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2002, 03:39 PM:

In Oakland, California, there's a drive-through oil-change and espresso stand. I'll have to get the exact wording on the sign. I keep meaning to take a picture and send it to Tom and Ray Maliozzi.

#11 ::: FranW ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2002, 05:37 PM:

Near Denver there was a donut shop with topless waitresses, called "Debbie Does Donuts." And in North Carolina, we saw a sign for the Boiling Springs Baptist Church. (Yeah, we'd wanna get baptized there!)

My personal fave: Hoosiers aren't known for their spelling skills. In Indianapolis, a movie marquee abbreviated The Bicentennial Man as "Bi anal Man."


#12 ::: Kip ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2002, 07:10 PM:

Actually, it was "Debbie Duz Donuts," and it was outside of Fort Collins. I taped a Geraldo show broadcast from there, because I'm interested in anything that comes out of Fort Collins.

(Seriously. I also recorded Robbie Benson's lame flick One on One just so I could gawk at the CSU location shots.

#13 ::: jack womack ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2002, 11:48 AM:

Longtime New Yorkers will surely remember the awning on Seventh Avenue in the Village that for years read "EAR PIERCING WITH OR WITHOUT PAIN."

#14 ::: Janet Lafler ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2002, 11:58 AM:

I mentioned this discussion to my husband, Matt, last night, and he chided me for not mentioning the STOP CASTING POROSITY sign. Here's a picture:

#15 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2002, 02:47 AM:

Down near where we used to live in Staten Island, there was (and for all I know still is) a big sign for RESULT'S ROOFING, with their slogan: "Stay on top of your roof!"

They were about a half a mile downhill from the Catholic church that had a sign saying PROTECT ALL LIFE FROM CONCEPTION.

#16 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2002, 03:42 AM:

Christopher Hatton's mention of Okemos makes me suspect he grew up somewhere near Lansing, MI and, worse, makes me wonder if I once knew this and subsequently misfiled those neurons, something that happens with increasing frequency these days. My mother grew up in Williamston, my parents went to MSU, and I was born in Lansing, facts that were recently on my mind as I returned to MSU, after many years' absence, to be a Clarion guest editor. East Lansing was strangely the same as in decades past. My Clarion arrangements were handled by a local business called "Spartan Travel," a name sure to cause chuckles elsewhere but perfectly normal in a town where the local college football team boasts that classical allusion in their name.

I ruminate on college football teams called the Hoplites. Or the Janissaries. Or the Mamelukes. Or maybe not.

#17 ::: Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2002, 01:00 PM:

Patrick, I suppose it's remotely possible that you didn't know. I grew up in Okemos, went to Michigan State (and I always thought that "Spartan" was an odd name for anyone or -thing associated with a school), and met several other people you also know, including one (or two? I don't know if you know her husband) whose wedding I later performed. I'm not mentioning names out of discretion, not because I don't remember them.

My dad was a psych prof at MSU. Tortured rats for a living, and still does. I was in the MSU Tolkein Fellowship, and did a little SCA. I was a member of ALPS while still there; it's how I first met D Potter (I'm sure she wouldn't mind my saying so).

As for your football team names, think about the jokes that must be endured by the poor kids who go to school in Troy, NY.

#18 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2002, 05:44 AM:

We've just come back from holiday, where we were delighted by a fish and chip shop called The Cod Father.

We also spotted a graffitist who specialised in economy; when faced with a road called

Laurel Grove Mews

he just changed it to

Laurel Grove Mews!

#19 ::: Deborah Green ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2002, 01:07 PM:

My favorites include "Land of Make Believe, Exit 12" along I-80 (I think) near the Delaware Water Gap and "Only" with arrows pointing in three directions at the intersection of Ocean Ave. and Highway 1 (Carmel, Ca.)

#20 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2002, 04:17 PM:

The sign has been changed in a recent bout of construction, but once upon a time if you took exit 6 on I287-east in Westchester County, NY, at the top of the ramp you were greeted with a sign that said:

     White Plains -->

#21 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2002, 06:20 PM:

Another, very ordinary sign that out of context seems vaguely eerie:



Out of context, we're faced with two *generic* locations. It's as though you've slipped into McGoohan's Village, where's there's one of everything. The Pub. The Record Store. The Grocery. The Pond.

Actually, North Plains is a town, and there are too many beaches to list, I guess. But why not say PACIFIC OCEAN?

#22 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2002, 01:58 PM:

The first time we drove past the "No White Plains" sign, Patrick murmured "A particularly severe case of redlining." We're also very fond of the oxymoronic No Conduit Avenue, which is on our travel path to and from Kennedy Airport.

Deborah, that "Only" is a prize.

Stefan, my guess is that they say "Ocean Beaches" because that's the specific feature that holiday-makers unfamiliar with the area will be looking for. We get the same thing here. "Atlantic Ocean" could be anything -- loading docks, tidal salt marshes, uninviting rocky coastal bits that are a pain to get to without crossing poison ivy-infested private land, et cetera and so forth. What they want are the broad sandy public beaches with parking lots and restrooms and boardwalks.

#23 ::: Beth ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2002, 05:34 PM:

My favorite road sign was near Richmond, VA -- it was for an unfinished on-ramp, and the sign read simply "Future."

#24 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2002, 03:37 PM:

Well, if you're going to get into highhway signs, anyone who drives down I-95 toward Washington, DC will see (if they're watching the road) the sign that says:
North East
Rising Sun
--these being the names of two actual towns in NE Maryland.

#25 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2002, 02:41 PM:

Spotten in northern Vermont last week: a Chinese restaurant called WOK AND ROLL.

#26 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2002, 02:54 PM:

Oh, how could I forget:

Route 50 begins, in the West, outside of Sacramento, CA. Right by the entrance ramp is a sign naming a city in New Jersey -- sorry, I forget the name -- with a distance. Nifty.

#27 ::: J. B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2002, 11:24 PM:

You'll find photos of the signs at both ends of US 50 at

#28 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2002, 11:53 AM:

Hey, thanks J.B.!

That's a very cool site. Highway otaku!

NYC and San Francisco should put up mileage signs at the entrances to the George Washington and Bay Bridges, respectively.

#29 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2002, 04:40 PM:

But the George Washington Bridge isn't the eastern end of any particular highway; it's just a middling segment of I-95.

#30 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2002, 06:19 PM:

Technically, yes. But if you drive West on the GWB, you end up on what is effectively the eastern end of I-80. You don't need to drive up a ramp or nuthin'.

#31 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2002, 08:48 AM:

>As for your football team names, think about the
>jokes that must be endured by the poor kids who
>go to school in Troy, NY.

Could be worse - they might live in Vestal, NY ...

#32 ::: Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2002, 10:30 AM:

For the Latin club, yes. But Trojans are an item of critical importance, and great embarrassment, to virtually all High School students.

Not that any who get good counsel would use that actual BRAND. Yuck.

#33 ::: Janet Lafler ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2002, 02:33 PM:

I agree with Stefan. The road goes ever on and on.

#34 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2002, 05:42 PM:

Here's one last jollification in this vein.

#35 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2002, 10:25 PM:

Yeah, I guess the team name "Vestal Flamers" could be open to a number of interpretations.

#36 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2002, 02:02 PM:

Uh, no. Think of the keepers of the flame ...

#37 ::: Kip ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2002, 04:10 PM:

Ah! Finally found it. Here's my humble contribution to "Roadside America" and their collection of Muffler Men: at the bottom of this page, it's my photo of an iron grille on a window in the shape of the muffler man on the roof, on Jefferson Avenue, here in Newport News. Okay, it's not witty, but I thought it was interesting.

#38 ::: Kip ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2002, 11:24 PM:

What th-? Now the picture to which I referred is here instead. Pardon me. I think it might be moving from day to day.

#39 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2002, 10:45 AM:

There seem to be no photos of the Muffler Man who Lives in Drury Lane...

#40 ::: Kip ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2002, 10:55 AM:

Have you seen the muffler man?
The muffler man, the muffler man.
The coughing, shuffling muffler man
Who hangs out near the school.

He always wears a muffler, man.
A muffler, man, a muffler, man.
A raincoat and a muffler, man,
And tries to show he's cool.*

They dragged away the muffler man.
The muffler man, the muffler man.
They put him in a big black van
And sped away downtown.

And there they kept the muffler man.
The muffler man, the muffler man.
They hit him with a frying pan
And darn near broke his crown.

*(Expurgated for the wee ones.)

#41 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2002, 11:57 AM:

Reedsville, OR is home to a modified muffler man. Somewhere along the line he lost his muffler and his head.

The remains were purchased by a marine supply store and turned into "Harvey." He now sports a large round head with rabbit ears. The oddly placed hands are used to cradle valentines hearts and other seasonal icons.

#42 ::: Prentiss Riddle ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2002, 06:32 PM:

On highway 59 in East Texas there used to be a real estate billboard advertising G.I. TRACTS.

#43 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2002, 08:44 AM:

Remembering more NYC signs --

There are eateries all over the city that advertise some form of Southern fried chicken; and then there's the one I saw in Spanish Harlem:

Yankee Fried Chicken
Jugos Tropicales
It took me a second to realize that by their reckoning, that's a norteño way to cook chicken.

My all-time favorite NYC sign is put up by the city, and hangs from the bottom of a certain traffic lights. It says

That is, "Please don't run this stoplight."

In the grammar of city street signs it's an intensifier, comparable to our alternate and more emphatic version of the NO PARKING sign. That one goes up in places where they really mean it, like the street in front of the United Nations complex, and says


#44 ::: Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2002, 10:45 AM:

I always thought someone should open a Mexican chicken place called "Chicken Itza."

I ask no forgiveness for this.

#45 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2002, 03:23 PM:

That's to go with all that arroz in Spanish Harlem, right?

#46 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2002, 11:42 AM:

Teresa: There may be places where "Wait for green" is used as an intensifier for "Don't run the stoplight", but my impression was that it was specifically used for intersections where the lights had a built-in delay--where if the light on street A had turned red, there's a several-second delay before the light on street B turns green.

Yes, everyone should wait until the light on street B turns green anyway, but everyone knows that people watch the lights in the rest of the intersection to see what's about to turn (especially vital if you're trying to make a left turn ahead of oncoming traffic). "Wait for green" signs are a warning that this is specifically not a good idea.

#47 ::: Armando Bentolila ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 06:53 AM:

SOLICITO informacion de mermeladas y jugos light

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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