In February, 1949 Marjorie Lyon wrote an amusing short essay
on ‘Confusing Traffic Signs.’ She said:
As a small schoolgirl,
I was taught to read either from left to right or from top to bottom. Skipping
about was not encouraged.
To whom, then, are the
traffic signs addressed? Certainly not to those of us who were educated. I have
finally, and with difficulty, got used to small towns advertising their “Slow School Children” and “Cross Pedestrians.” But the “No Stopping Bus Stop” is still a
strange idea to me, and as for the “Saddle
Crossing Horse,” I certainly would hate to see one.
Now, today, I have
just encountered a new sign which reads “Reduce
Thickly Settled Speed.” It took me through two red lights to puzzle that
one out. Can’t anyone instill common sense into the makers of signs?
Marjorie sent her essay to Francis Dahl, a Boston Herald
cartoonist known for his entertaining insights on Boston and its
residents. Mr. Dahl wrote back to
Marjorie, “Dear Mrs. Lyon, thank you for
the traffic signs. I’ll try to do something with your list and right soon. I’m
glad to hear you read the cartoons and hope you’ll continue reading them (left
to right.) F. Dahl.” He immediately
set about sketching his own interpretation of Marjorie’s traffic signs and, on
Saturday March 5th, the Herald published this cartoon:
He wrote again later, “Dear
Mrs. Lyon, I’m glad you liked the portrait as well as I did the idea. One
reader said it was the best cartoon to date. Yours truly, Francis Dahl”.