Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #20
Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018
In my travels I always kept an eye open for interesting things to photograph. Sometimes it was people, sometimes animals, sometimes street scenes, and so on. One thing I saw almost everywhere was signs, sometimes official, more often hand printed. Among the official signs, one of my favorites is a bronze plaque set into a sidewalk in Germany. It reads something like:
On this spot on February 16, 1539,
Absolutely nothing happened.
I’m sure I got the date wrong, but you get the idea. That was either in Munich or Wetzlar.
One time in Germany, Peter Moore took s picture of me next to an arrow sign pointing at me, saying EIN FAHRT. Of course that means “ONE WAY,” as any German speaker knows!
A sign I saw in South Tyrol, the German-speaking part of northern Italy, was in multiple languages, but totally incompressible in any. I think it warned of flash floods, but that didn’t come from the text, but from the little man panicking in rushing water in the pictograph at the top of the sign.
Seen in the American Midwest on the side of a big white building:
Makes you want to walk right in, eh?
On a large factory in Hong Kong:
HUNG FAT BRASSIERE COMPANY
And in a hotel in that same city, on a plaque on the inside of the room door a number of suggestions for hotel guests, including:
HOTEL GUESTS ARE INVITED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE MAIDS
The intent comes through, but a native English speaker would have phrased it differently! You find lots of butchered English in the far east, one of the best sighted in a shop window:
ENGLISH WELL SPEACHED HERE
Yeah, sure it is.
In a Chinese restaurant window in, I think, Kuala Lumpur (which itself means “Muddy Junction”) was this:
BLOODY GOOD CHINESE FOOD AT FAIR DINKUM PRICES
That one got me to go inside. I don’t know if the prices were really “fair dinkum,” but the food was really good.
Closer to home, driving up Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley through picturesque little towns I spotted this one on the roadside:
BOX SPRING & MATTERS FUR SAIL
Gets the point across, I guess. Not far along the same road, this one:
BLAN KETS $ 4.00 PA URD
Took a while to figure out that this person was selling blankets for $ 4.00 per yard! They were actually very nice home made blankets at a reasonable price.
And on the side of a barn in New Bern, Virginia:
WE DONT RENT PIGS
I think they stole the idea for that one!
A friend recently sent me this one:
THIS IS GOD’S COUNTRY
PLEASE DON’T DRIVE LIKE HELL THROUGH IT
I like that one.
I have a large collection of photos of odd signs in my archive, some of which made money as stock images.
Which leads into another topic, stock photography. Unfortunately, the days when a photographer could earn a nice second income from stock photo sales are pretty much over. I used to get regular checks from the licensing of images I had with agencies. Then along came tbe Internet, and my stock payments lost two zeros on the amount payable line. People used to ask me what’s was the most I ever got paid for a single image. I’d smile and say 78,000. After the shock wore off, I’d clarify that it was Yen, not dollars. It was for the use of one of my images on the cover of the Japanese edition of a Danielle Steel romance novel. Actually, the Japanese editions of several of her books bear my photographs thanks to a real whirlwind of an agent I had in Tokyo. Tony knows who I’m talking about.
About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348. Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonyward.com/2018/08/bob-shell-warning-environmentalist-rant/