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That's What I Like About the South

On my commute to work on the western side of Mobile, I have a choice of going through the older part of town or taking I-10 and I-65 around it. My extensive research shows that the route through town, though shorter in distance, takes an average of five minutes longer. So since I'm usually late, I usually take the interstate. But I prefer to go through town, and this church sign is always one of the nice things about that route. Right now this is what it says on the east-facing on-the-way-to-work side:


And on the west-facing going-home side it says this:

Which is a good after-work message.

The sign seems to be associated with the church you can see in the first picture, Providence Baptist, but is actually in the yard of a little house next door to the church itself. I've always supposed that must be the "parsonage"--the pastor's residence; the term seems rather quaint. A year or so the sign said, for a few weeks, "FIFTY YEARS OF PREACHING THE GOSPEL ON DAUPHIN ST." But the house doesn't look inhabited, though the church seems to be still active. I guess the pastor lives in a larger house in a subdivision.

A month or two back the sign went blank, and I wondered if perhaps the old pastor had died, and the church was going to close. Or if neighbors who thought the sign unsightly (which one must admit it is) had managed to get the city to force its removal. But after a few weeks the messages reappeared. I wonder about that chain-link fence surrounding it: did they have a vandalism problem? If so that fence wouldn't stop any but the very casual attacker.

I think of this as a southern thing but I suppose it's fairly common elsewhere.


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we have signs like that in South Bend, which I find uplifting.

Me too. Yeah, they're tacky and often sort of corny, but sometimes corny is also pithy. I think I like this one better than most because it doesn't try to be cute--it's not a clever saying that someone just made up, but straight-up scripture, KJV.

I like these pictures. I'd actually love to see more photos from your area, Maclin.

I like the signs.

Funny you should mention that. I was thinking yesterday that I would start a Flickr account and make an effort to go through my jillions of pictures, many posted here over the years, and put them there so I'd have the good ones all in one place. It would be a long-running project, just doing a few at a time.

Funny thing about that sign, Mac. Remember Mary Ann from several years ago? Her parents live on a street close to the sign and her mother has apparently complained for years about how it looks terrible and the city should force its removal (mainly because of the chain link fence). So far the church has won!

Heh. So my imagined scenario wasn't so far off. It is a pretty unattractive sign. But, as the Lagniappe motto says, Keep Mobile Funky.

The fence is more offensive than the sign, IMO! But the sign could be more attractive, it's true. Is it vitally important to the congregation to have an ugly sign?

"Keep Mobile Funky."

I like it!

There's a book available, published by Eerdmans I think, of images of this sort from F. O'Connor's region. Flannery O'Connor: Images of Grace by Harold Fickett.

We have a fair number of these kinds of signs in rural Pa. and Ohio. Some of them can be quite fire-and-brimstone!

This one is downright famous:

It's beside I-65 and is clearly readable as you drive by.

You would have to speak to the congregation, Louise, about the importance of the sign being ugly. :-)


Yeah, it sorta is. I do sometimes cringe a bit that it confirms the stereotype of Alabama so much, but on the other hand if it were somewhere else I'd be a bit envious.


The only real problems with the sign are that it's a bit simplistic and it does caricature the Devil to the point where it's a little hard to take his existence seriously.

True. I guess the typical reaction would be either horror at the backwards religious hicks or amusement at the simplistic religious hicks. Or both.

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