June 20, 2011

A Kind-Hearted Woman...

Many years ago, when I owned Stitches (my needlework shop in Wisconsin) I had this sign on the wall. When I closed my shop, my dear friend Laura asked for it and I was pleased to be able to give it to her. She is, indeed, a kind-hearted woman.

The story is that when hobos traveled along the railroad, they would leave simple drawings for each other as a form of communication. Sometimes these messages could be found on fences, buildings or even on sidewalks.

Today, I happened to see this sign on a wall, featuring many hobo drawings of yesteryear and their meanings and it reminded me of that plaque from years ago. In case you have trouble reading what it says under each image, I'll help you out. (Of course, you can click on it to make it larger, too!)

From left to right:
Top row: Free Telephone, There's no use going this way, Ill-tempered man lives here, Go this way, Keep quiet, A judge lives here, Doctor here won't charge, This is not a safe place, and Barking dog here.
Second Row: An officer of the law lives here, Owners will give to get rid of you, Crime committed here. Not safe, Good place to catch a train, Kind woman lives here. Tell a pitiful story, Trolley stop, There is nothing to be gained here, Bad water and These people are rich.
Third Row: The sky's the limit, Good place for a handout, There are thieves about, Road spoiled. Fill of other hobos, The owner is in, This is a well-guarded house, Man with a gun lives here, Hit the road and You can camp here.
Fourth Row: This owner is out, Doubtful, Authorities here are alert, Good road to follow, A kind lady lives here, Alcohol in this town, Halt, Fresh water/safe campsite and Police here frown on hobos.
Bottom Row: Jail or prison, Dangerous neighborhood, Ok/alright, Hold your tongue, Religious talk will get you a meal here, Be ready to defend yourself, Vicious dog here, Courthouse and A kind gentlemen lives here.

I love the simplicity of the drawings, and I'm thinking I might have an idea for what to do with them. I'll show you more as I begin working on my idea. What do you think you could do with them? Any ideas?


  1. What a fun post, Donna!! Wouldn't this make a neat quilt somehow!!! Kris

  2. Oh Yes this would make a FUN QUILT!!!
    Thank you for sharing it!

  3. Very nice Donna! Thanks for sharing!

  4. how interesting! thanks for sharing! makes me hope i am a kind woman to those in need.

  5. Neat sign. Hope all is well. I have been knitting and plan to cut a quilt out for my grandson. Getting ready for the actual birthday. LOL.

    Soon a new little one?

    Miss you,

  6. I love this post. I never knew there WAS Hobo Sign language. I had to have my husband come look at it. He loved it too. I'll love to see your idea because your's are always way better than mine!
    xx, Carol

  7. HOW cool is that...a very good share...love it

  8. I had seen those symbols many years ago when I took a college course on the Depression era but had forgotten all about them. Can you imagine what life on the road must have been like for those men? Amazing!
    And what a wonderful quilt it would make, maybe with applique work representing the text in images. Wow what a great project!
    Have a great day Donna...
    Tina xo

  9. Yes, the hobo's sure did. They would infuriate Mother when they'd leave these marks on her front door frame.

    Can hardly wait to see 'more' in a couple of weeks from you. Too durn cute! I know you have to be having anticipation pains. Chuckle!

    Enjoy, sweet friend.
    Have a beautiful week ~
    TTFN ~

  10. OK, now you have us on pins & needles, can't wait to see what it will be! You have such a creative mind and loving heart, it's nice to know you through your blog! Blessings!

  11. I have never known of these hobo symbols however it makes total sense. Now days hobo is a bad word but in my youth it was just fine. I always think of Red Skelton and Freddy the Freeloader. I love this sign and how it reminds of days gone by...
    So glad you shared this Miss Donna.

  12. That is so cool! Never heard of these. Can't wait to see your idea!
    xx, shell

  13. Being a crazy bunny lady, I'm thinking there should be a rabbit version of this, with the same symbols having rabbit-based meanings, such as "Kind lady w/garden", "avoid: huggy-squeezy-type", "Gourmet chef, watch out for crockpot", "gives treats", etc. I'll have to work on that. :)


Thank you so much for leaving a comment today. I'm using new settings on my comments so that I'll be able to respond to your messages to me. Be sure to come back to see my replies!

Blessings, Donna