Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs
Last updated 7/20/2022 at 4:12pm | View PDF
Signs provide us with all kinds of information.
"Slow, children playing" lets us know kids reside on a particular block. (Since kids live on many blocks that don't have such signs, these warnings also might indicate worried parents live on the block as well.)
Signs indicating downtown Hinsdale and the Robbins Park subdivision are on the National Register of Historic Places demonstrate the importance of the village's past to Hinsdaleans - or at least to those who are purchasing the signs.
Signs control traffic, alert us to the presence of schools and let us know when to get off the highway at lunchtime.
Signs also can make us laugh.
"Touching wires causes instant death. $200 fine" reads one from the Newcastle Tramway Authority. (Hopefully the offender has at least $200 in life insurance.)
"Whoever stole our AC units keep one - it is hot where you're going," says a sign from the Clays Mill Road Baptist Church.
One comedian - or wannabe - made the most of the early days of the pandemic on a sign that read: "Due to the quarantine, I'll only be doing inside jokes."
The Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department in Redwood City, Calif., shows off its sense of humor in the fine print of a serious sign warning about coyotes.
"Call animal control if see you dangerous coyote activity such as: coyote carrying box marked 'ACME'," the sign reads, along with coyotes detonating explosives, holding "detour" signs or dropping anvils from hot air balloons.
I can't help but wonder how many people younger than I am will get the joke.
I saw a new one this past Sunday in Holland, Mich., as we walked down the main street, checking out some new restaurants. Many were empty, even though there were plenty of tourists in town. We looked at the posted hours on the doors.
"Closed Sunday, Monday for Church • Family • Football" they read.
I have long known about the Dutch influence on Holland, which is obvious not only from its name, but the Nelis' Dutch Village attraction, the Windmill Island Gardens and all the wooden shoes on signs around town.
I was not aware that Holland is known as the "City of Churches" or that there are 170 churches in the greater Holland area. Or that the city was founded as a haven for religious dissidents fleeing poverty, religious discrimination and social opprobrium in the Netherlands.
"The rhythms of life revolved around worship services, catechetical instruction and church societies," one historian wrote.
Apparently that still is true.
Football is also a serious enterprise in Michigan. Just ask a fan of the Detroit Lions - or try to invite one over for Thanksgiving dinner scheduled during the team's annual televised Turkey Day game. Or watch for the reaction if you think an acquaintance went to Michigan State and they really went to the University of Michigan.
And then there's family. I love my family, of course, but I have to wonder about its placement in the aforementioned lists, since you typically can see your family any day of the week. Maybe the original order was church-football-family, but it seemed kinder to list family second and football last.
Since I was hoping to dine at one of these Holland restaurants on a Monday, I was disappointed to see so many would be closed. But I have to admire the willingness to state your priorities, right there on the front door for all to see.
How much easier would life be if we all knew, up front, what those around us valued?
Like the zoo whose sign reads "If you fall, animals could eat you and that might make them sick."
Or an establishment called Smiths whose chalkboard sign offers this unique drink recommendation: "Come in and try the worst rum & coke that one guy on Yelp ever had in his life."
Honesty and a sense of humor? There's a place I'd like to frequent.
- Pamela Lannom is editor
of The Hinsdalean. Readers
can email her at