Signs of Their Times: A Few of My Favorite Signs

In this final installment in the “Signs of Their Times” series drawing from the Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information (FSA/OWI) Photograph Collection, I offer a few of my miscellaneous favorites. To begin, I can’t imagine any librarian, or book-lover for that matter, could resist this 1940 appeal from the “The Mogollon School Kids” to the members of their New Mexico community for “old books” for the schoolhouse library:

Sign on side of building. Mogollon, New Mexico.

Sign on side of building. Mogollon, New Mexico. Photograph by
Russell Lee, June 1940. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b25543

Also in Mogollon, on the left below, photographer Russell Lee captures this longer version of the archetypal “No credit. Don’t ask.” signs still found in cafes and taverns today. A year later in Nampa, Idaho, on the right, Lee pictures this hand-lettered notice written on a business’ glass door that fills a double function as it both informs customers of the 5:30 closing and cheers on the local ball team playing that evening at Rodeo Park:

Sign in restaurant in Mogollon, New Mexico

Sign in restaurant in Mogollon, New Mexico. Photograph by Russell Lee, June 1940.
//hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b25426

Sign, Nampa, Idaho

Sign, Nampa, Idaho.
Photograph by Russell Lee, June 1941.
//hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8a30083

Is there a more sensible place for a sign-maker to advertise than the community bulletin board at the local post office?:

Signs on the post office bulletin board in Childersburg, Alabama

Signs on the post office bulletin board in Childersburg, Alabama.
Photograph by Jack Delano, May 1941. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8a35763

Sign, Jeanerette, Louisiana

Sign, Jeanerette, Louisiana.
Photograph by Russell Lee, September 1938.
//hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8a23624

Finally, I admire this Jeanerette, Louisiana, sign to the right for the spare succinctness of its single-word message — “WHISKEY.” And, the pairing with the recognizable graphic of a whiskey bottle, earns it my sign efficiency award.

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