Posted by: Brad Nixon | September 5, 2016

Signifying: Shut for the Holiday

One of a series of occasional posts about signs — sign posts.

It’s Labor Day in the U.S. We all take a day off to honor ourselves for working so hard.

One tradition (as with all holidays) is to eat. A cookout is common, but it could be anything. We need to shop.

We might stop into the local grocery to see what’s fresh in the seafood department.

Salom for salmon Brad Nixon (640x498)

No, not salom again! How about grilling a nice tri-tip or some ribs? We need a really good cut of meat. There’s a place:

Miracle Meat Brad Nixon (640x639)

Um, I’m not certain if that’s going to be miraculously good, or if it’ll BE a miracle if it is. Let’s drive on. Maybe duck into that place ahead on the left for a sandwich. Ooh, look at that promotion at the counter:

sandwhich Brad Nixon (640x416)

There’s nothing on that sign I have any confidence in. I don’t know what a “quencher” is, I just want water, not H2O, and I certainly don’t need a sandwhich. Which sandwhich?

(Must be a spin on the old joke: Why do you never get hungry at the beach? Because of all the sandwhich is there).

I give up. Let’s just get take-out. Look up ahead. Every possible choice:

Chinese - Mexican - pizza Brad Nixon (607x626)

Donuts, Chinese, Mexican, Pizza! And we can get our hair done, take out a loan and buy flowers while we wait for our order! On second thought, maybe we’ll just go home and fix a nice salad.

On Labor Day, most businesses in the U.S. will be closed.

When I was a kid, traveling with my parents and 4 siblings, were were wandering around Wapakoneta, Ohio (hometown of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong). It was evening, and everywhere was closed, including, of course, the big bank downtown. But on the door was a sign: “Bank Shut.” Not “Closed,” shut.

My father, always inquisitive, asked around about that odd way of expressing a common phrase. It turns out that during the Great Depression, the bank was — as were all banks at one time — forced to close: as in cease operations. The president of the bank vowed they’d reopen and when they did, he would never again put a “Closed” sign on the door. Since that day, which had been more than 30 years prior, the bank would close up at the end of the day and be “shut,” to reopen the next business day. Not “closed,” or out of business.

Not far from me, in Redondo Beach, though, is a business that is the only other one I’ve ever seen in all the ensuing decades with this sign:

shut sign Brad Nixon (640x518)

They’re shut. Perhaps they’ll be open for Labor Day dinner. As it happens, it’s one of the West Coast’s great purveyors of Uni: sea urchins. Yum! There’s a new Labor Day tradition for you.

Happy Labor Day, workers everywhere.

Have you seen an interesting sign? Leave a comment.

For more sign posts, see “signifying” under Categories in the right-hand column. 

© Brad Nixon 2016. 2017

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