Why are so many signs misspelled? To keep us amused, no doubt.

The coin slot on a self-service checkout at a CVS in Silver Spring features a symbol for a nonexistent 20-cent piece.
The coin slot on a self-service checkout at a CVS in Silver Spring features a symbol for a nonexistent 20-cent piece. (The Washington Post)

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 28, 2011; 9:46 PM

Imagine if that big sign in the Hollywood Hills read "WOLLYHOOD." People would notice.

People notice misspelled signs around here, too. After my recent column on that subject, readers shared their favorite misspellings from around the region - and the world.

Donlin Queen wrote with fond memories of a local highway sign from years ago that directed motorists to the "Batlo-Wash Pkwy."

Wrote Donlin: "One would think that sign makers, of all people, would check spelling carefully before proceeding. Nowadays, don't they have spell check?"

They probably do, but spell check doesn't help with proper nouns and when the wrong word is an actual word. For example, JimVitol of Rockville just returned from a trip to Sihanoukville, Cambodia, where he saw one very funny sign. "There were three guesthouses in a row advertising free wi-fi," Jim wrote. "The first two read 'Free WiFi' but the third read 'Free WiFe.'"

A reader of my column online left this comment: "I stopped at a Wendy's in Anne Arundel County shortly after Thanksgiving. They were hiring shift supervisors but the illuminated sign at the street said 'Mangers Needed.' I took a picture and made that my holiday card, it was irresistible."

Stafford's Tim Douglas said his favorite misspelled sign is in Front Royal, Va. "It says, 'Eggs Fore Sale,' " Tim wrote. "Later the seller crossed out the 'Fore' and wrote 'Four.' I give that farmer an A for/four/fore effort."

Rockville's Judy Jaffe said my column reminded her of a menu item she saw in a local restaurant: "Soup of the Day: Calm Chowder."

"I think everyone could use a bowl of 'calm chowder,' " Judy wrote. "Wonder if it is made from those famous New England calms."

Probably. Manhattan is too frenetic to produce "calm chowder." (That reminds me of an item I saw on a Silver Spring restaurant's dessert menu: Chocolate Mouse. Mmmm.)

The District's Dave Linn found an interesting . . . well, misspelling isn't the right word for it. "Have you used the self-checkouts at CVS?" Dave asked. "The coin slot shows an image of coins with numbers on them indicating value. There's 5 (nickel, of course), 10 (dime) and . . . uh . . . 20?"

What, you don't carry a 20-cent piece in your pocket?

Gouda riddance

Thank you to the readers who expressed sympathy for my being conked on the head by airborne Gouda cheese. It could have been worse. Lloyd Rose pointed out that Edam cheeses, which are rounder and harder than Gouda, were once used by navies as emergency cannonballs.

"I ran across this fact thirty-odd years ago when I was writing commercials at a radio station and researching material for some cheese-store ads," Lloyd wrote.

I see a great slogan: "Our cheese explodes with flavor!"

Desperate times . . .

Suzanne Aro found my column about street scams amusing. Not that there's anything funny about scams. What had her laughing was my suggestion that everyone carry a folded-up $20 bill in case they find themselves stranded and walletless, the starting point of so many pleas for help. Several years ago, her son Steve commuted regularly from their home in Silver Spring to high school at Gonzaga in the District.

"He was always getting hit up by panhandlers and giving away his lunch money," Suzanne wrote. Worried Steve would find himself downtown one day without cash for the ride home, his parents gave him a $5 bill and told him to keep it in the lining of his shoe for an emergency.

"I got a call from him about a week later," Suzanne wrote. "He had no money and needed a ride home. 'Use the emergency money in your shoe,' I advised. 'I can't,' he replied. 'I used it yesterday to buy french fries. It was an emergency.'"


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