The Sage Connection

‘I have a special affinity for signs’


“And the sign said

Long-haired freaky people need not apply.”

                                                            “Signs” – The Five Man Electric Band

I think I may have mentioned before that I have a special affinity for signs. I especially like the ones that make me laugh, but I also enjoy those that make me think.

For several years I had a bumper sticker on my car that read: “The weather is here – wish you were beautiful.” Before that I had attached one that said: “Nice girls do too.” But while driving one day with one of my daughters I mentioned lately a lot of people honked at me for no reason and it kind of made me nervous.

“It's your bumper sticker, Mom,” came her bored reply. Since I had been known to drive around town with a coffee cup on my car’s roof and the belt to my jacket hanging outside the car door, I was surprised to hear this.

Childhood for my kids was never easy.

These days, it is harder to find and read bumper stickers that make you smile or even laugh out loud. Some may think this makes for safer driving, but it is really easy to spot these treasures in parking lots.

In California, a clever person, who shall remain nameless, manufactured a sign we all loved…Well, almost everybody. There had been a spat of escapes from the Santa Rita Federal Prison during a short period of time.

One day, shortly after the third prisoner absconded, a new sign magically appeared on the side of the freeway across from the prison that was a perfect copy of a pedestrian crossing sign. But this one read “Caution – Prisoner Crossing. It didn’t last more than a day or two, but it was good for a laugh until it was taken down.

My all-time horrific sign was spotted while visiting my daughter in Washington DC. It was on the Virgina freeway and announced “Next exit CIA.” That one almost cost me my sanity. I remember pitching a huge fit over the fact the CIA needed an exit sign to find their way to headquarters. Besides that, I thought it was dangerous.

My kids poo-pooed the idea that the sign could cause harm to any spies headed for their office. But a few weeks later, on January 25, 1993 two agents were shot and killed while waiting at a stop light, to make a left hand turn into Langley Headquarters.

I rest my case.

Churches have some great signs also. I like “Don’t let worries kill you. Let the church help.”

And “The fact that there’s a highway to hell and a stairway to heaven says a lot about anticipated traffic.”

The Rainier Beer Billboards were always good for a laugh. The beer was named after our majestic Mount Rainier, and these billboards never failed to produce a belly laugh. I was sad to see them go.

I recently saw a park sign that said

Take only photos

Leave only footprints

Kill only Tim

Please stay on the trails.

Not sure what Tim did but it must have been pretty bad – either that or the letter ‘e’ fell off the board.

I know my sense of humor is not for everyone. But the best sign I have found so far, in Thurston County, was the road side sign that read “Caution – Otter Crossing.”

Not to beat a dead horse, but the sign has disappeared and I want it put back up. I don’t care if the otters cross there or not. I loved the sign. And I drove everyone who came to visit over to see it. And they all loved it too.

If we can have deer crossing and horse crossing and cow crossing signs, there is no reason to discriminate against the otters.

After all, I have driven by tons of deer crossing signs without seeing one deer.

Come on, City of Olympia…put it back…

Kathleen Anderson writes this column each week from her home in Olympia. Contact her at or post your comment below.


3 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • SheriB

    Love your new photo!

    I have always enjoyed signs as well. Great article. Thank you

    Wednesday, July 3 Report this

  • pheong

    i, myself, much enjoy removing all the illegal plastic signs which sully our community. just today i received a text from the owner of a company whom i had contacted about the removal of his signs from a utility pole. he assured me that he had a lease agreement to use that pole to post his advertisement. a quick cal to pse assured me of just the opposite. as a matter of fact, i was thanked for my efforts to eradicate such visual pollution from where i live. as you see the falling-off of the postings and plantings of all these cheap plastic signs, i like to think that i play small part. we live here. this county is NOT your billboard.

    Thursday, July 4 Report this

  • Boatyarddog

    Thank you pheong. Businesses posting on utility poles is wrong, and they know it.

    Yard s a letter, lost animals, these are okay by my standards. Reason is, where else will you reach people in your community. Please don't remove these types of signs. Th3se are helpful to communicate with your community members.

    Friday, July 5 Report this