Reading the Signs ~ Outside the Margins: Dorien Grey ~ Dorien Grey: Outside the Margins

Join us as Dorien Grey goes Outside the Margins.

Reading the Signs ~ Outside the Margins: Dorien Grey

Funny Signs

Signs are probably the most condensed forms of writing, and as such they are often an art form in their own right. Conveying a message in as few words as possible is an exercise in concise writing from which many writers could benefit. Signs are intended to be informative, but they are very often either intentionally or unintentionally funny, or utterly inane.

I get a kick out of signs. I suppose it goes far back to the dawn of time when, on long road trips before the invention of the interstate road system, the boredom would be broken by a succession of small signs spread out over half a mile or so. (“Shaving Brushes…You’ll soon see ‘em…on display…in some museum…Burma Shave” or “On curves ahead…remember, sonny…that rabbit’s foot…didn’t save the bunny…Burma Shave”). At the height of their popularity, there were more than 7,000 of these signs spread across the United States.

And I have always loved, still talking of road trips, the ubiquitous ones that say “Eat at Rosies! 7 miles ahead! We’re OPEN!”  “Eat at Rosies! 6 miles ahead. Yessir, we’re OPEN!”….and you know damned well that when you get to Rosies, there will be a sign on the door saying “Closed.”

And how often have you passed, at night, a dark and shuttered store with a prominent “Open” sign in the window.

A large gas station in Los Angeles has the comforting slogan: “Your Only a Stranger Here Once.”  My reaction was always “That’s nice, and if you ever learn to spell I might actually come in.”

At a supermarket I frequented near my home in Northern Wisconsin, the new deli/bakery put up a large sign trumpeting their “Bacon Powder Biscuits”. My pointing out to them that perhaps they might have meant “Baking Powder” was met with a totally blank stare, and the “Bacon Powder” sign remained up for another week or so. During deer hunting season (a huge tourist draw for the area) the deli’s baker came up with a brilliant idea to draw shoppers: tiny balls of dough he advertised as “Deer-droppings Donuts.”  Yummy! And for St. Patrick’s Day one year he featured “Green bread!”…not, I suspect, one of the store’s best sellers.

But my favorite sign of all was in front of a small church in North Hollywood. It proudly proclaimed this to be “The Church of Our Blessed Lord and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Lest anyone confuse it with a synagogue or mosque, under the church’s name was helpfully included, in parenthesis, the word “Christian”. Almost incentive enough to make me take up church-goin’. But not quite.

I remember fondly a co-worker’s car which was plastered with “America for the Americans!” “Buy American!” “U.S.A is #1″ “America! Love it or Leave It!”.  The car was a Volkswagon.

Bumper stickers…sadly seldom seen much nowadays…are a class all in themselves, probably more related to the old Burma Shave signs than anything else. But while I love them, their humor was thought out in advance. (My favorite,  seen on a car in Alabama, it featured a Confederate flag with a red slash through it and the words: “The war’s over! You lost. Get used to it.”)

Where would we be without the ability to laugh?



~ Dorien Grey

About Dorien Grey

“If it is possible to have a split personality without being schizophrenic, Dorien Grey qualifies. When long-time book and magazine editor Roger Margason chose the pseudonym “Dorien Grey” for his first book, it set off a chain of circumstances which has led to the comfortable division of labor and responsibility. Roger has charge of day-to-day existence, freeing Dorien—with the help of Roger’s fingers—to write. It has reached the point where Roger merely sits back and reads the stories Dorien brings forth on the computer screen.

It’s not as though Roger has not had an uninteresting life of his own. Two years into college, he left to join the Naval Aviation Cadet program. Washing out after a year, he spent the rest of his brief military career on an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean at the height of the cold war. The journal he kept of his time in the military, in the form of letters home, honed his writing skills and provided him with a wealth of experiences to draw from in his future writing. These letters will be appearing in book form shortly.

Returning to Northern Illinois University after service, he graduated with a B.A. in English, and embarked on a series of jobs which worked him into the editing field. While working for a Los Angeles publishing house, he was instrumental in establishing a division exclusively for the publication of gay paperbacks and magazines, of which he became editor. He moved on to edit a leading L.A. based international gay men’s magazine.

Tiring of earthquakes, brush fires, mud slides, and riots, he returned to the Midwest, where Dorien emerged, full-blown, like Venus from the sea. They’ve been inseparable (and interchangeable) ever since.

He . . . and Dorien of course…moved back to Chicago in 2006, where they now devote full time to writing. Author of the popular Dick Hardesty Mystery series, the Elliott Smith (paranormal) Mystery, the stand-alone western/romance/adventure novel, Calico, plus the non fiction A World Ago: A Navy Man’s Letters Home, 1954-1956; Short Circuits: A Life in Blogs, and a book of poems (Dreams of a Calico Mouse), Dorien is in the process of having all his books done as audiobooks.

But for a greater insight into the “”real person”” behind Dorien Grey, the curious are invited to check out his website (, which includes the first chapter of any or all of his books for free, and his various blogs: Dorien Grey and Me ( and A Life in Photos                 ( among them.

There is nothing Dorien loves more than hearing from a reader…or potential reader. If you’d like to contact him, just drop him a note at

Facebook (several “”pages”” there):

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

This post may contain affiliate links.
Prism Book Alliance® assumes no liability for the ownership of photos or content used in guest posts and interviews.  The post author assumes all responsibility and liability for this content.

4 thoughts on “Reading the Signs ~ Outside the Margins: Dorien Grey ~ Dorien Grey: Outside the Margins

  1. I have enjoyed the Dick Hardesty and the later Elliot Smith titles. The former I have “in print” from GLB publishers, so a prized possession.
    I often wonder how many people miss the humour of road signs & bumper stickers.
    Thanks for the post Dorien.

  2. Really glad you enjoyed it, “B”…and delighted to hear you have the GLB versions of the Dick Hardesty series. I very much appreciate Prism Book Alliance allowing me to be a part of it.



Leave a Reply