Dorothea Lange's life on the road wasn't all solemn images of the Great Depression. In her travels, Lange photographed quite a few interesting signs, both manufactured and hand-painted, in between images of migrant workers and their struggles. This particular sign, found on a Georgia roadside in 1937, has been on our radar for quite some time. Its graphic hand-painted lettering and seemingly confident misspelling lends it a quirky sense of humor. Was the sign-maker letting drivers know there was tasty food to be found down the way or warning them about meat thieves? Did HAMBUGLARS mean something in the 1930s that we're unaware of today? The possibilities are endless and certainly amusing to consider.
The road sign series is a bit of a surprise to find among the more well-known and somber photographs in Dorothea Lange's body of work. But humor could be, and was, found, even in the country's darkest times, and that's always something to celebrate.
(Psst! Peek into Dorothea Lange's mind, via Jason Polan, in his piece, right here on our blog!)
"Do you think there were snakes in that tall grass? Do you think Dorothea Lange was thinking about them right before she took this picture? Was it windy out? I bet it was. I bet she was hungry while she was working on getting the picture and scared of poisonous snakes but thought, “I will not eat until I get this picture.” She took slow steps and framed the sign just off center to the right to make sure she got a piece of the road in the shot, while keeping the letters exactly the size she wanted them. She also liked the tilt of that tall tree on the other side of the road and didn’t want it to hit too close to the left edge of the composition." ... Read more from Jason Polan on the blog!
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