Pierre, South Dakota, Is Not The End of the World…

… But You Can See It From There.
That’s the slogan on my favorite T-shirt. Linda and Alice sent it to me in early 1984 after Jerry and I traveled to Pierre from Washington, D.C., to spend Christmas with the family. The reason for the T-shirt? The windchill was -81F when we got stranded in a blizzard in Sioux Falls and all Mid-Western airports were forced closed. We made the usually 4-hour bus ride to Pierre three days later. That took 9 hours. We spent five days in Pierre. The high temperature that week was -5F. The T-shirt must have been made to withstand the extremes of the South Dakota weather. Not only does it still fit (credit goes to me), but it’s still in great condition (and I’ve worn it a lot).
Since our arrival in Spain, I’ve seen all sorts of odd variations on the English language proudly displayed on T-shirts. “IF YOU THINK THAT I HAVE HEAT… WE MY PLACE, YES.” Sorry I didn’t get a picture of the woman wearing that one, but she was in her late 60s, sour-looking, and quite dowdy. I didn’t think she’d appreciate my attention. Anyway, I’m quite sure she was without “heat.” 

Another T-shirt I’ve seen in Sevilla was stretched-to-bursting across the massive chest of a 20-something bodybuilder. His shirt read: “YOU CAN LOCK, BUT DONT TUCH.” I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I was afraid to ask if a photograph was also forbidden.


I’ve been thinking of starting a collection of poorly translated English T-shirts. Many of these shirts are, I believe, produced in China in English for Spaniards. Some of my acquaintances have laughed when I’ve told them what their T-shirts really say or what I think perhaps they’re meant to say — when I can figure it out.


Before we left the USA, T-shirts (and tattoos) written in Asian characters had become very popular. I wonder how many guys are surfing Hungtington Beach with tattoos they think say “PEACE” when what they really say is “PEE”… or who knows what else.



Now, I’m on my way out for a walk in the glaringly bright sunshine. I hope to see some good T-shirts.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

28 thoughts on “Pierre, South Dakota, Is Not The End of the World…”

  1. Can you imagine if they started to print t-shirts with some of the Teabagger's misspelled signs? You think the people who wrote them are confused?…those copying them would be in a daze.


  2. I had something really witty to say, but once the box popped up I had forgotten it. Maybe I'll put that on a t-shirt.

  3. I love reading T-shirts. I used to follow a site called "Engrish" which pictured not only oddly worded T-shirts but signs translated to English for tourists in Asian countries. I was once in Pierre SD coming back from a vacation to the Black Hills and Devils Tower. We ate at possibly the worst Chinese restaurant ever. We should have known better as we were the only people in the place!

    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      Someone else just told me about "Engrish." I'll have to check it out. I know that Chinese restaurant in Pierre; haven't heard anything good about it! So sorry you had to find our for yourselves. Next time you're there, go to La Minestra.

  4. T-shirt reading is right up there with People Watching for me. Used to read bumper stickers, but now about all I see are "My kid is an honor student at …. school"…. What happened to the juicy ones?

  5. The store that I work in sells a lot of "made in China" stuff. Reading the fine print is always hilarious. And the bad photo shop pictures are a riot.

    1. Stew:
      And I've had some pretty funny things pointed out to me of translations from English to Spanish. And sometimes just reading the English instructions on American products and written by Americans is embarrassing enough!

    1. I WONDER WYE:
      Thanks so much for stopping by. I just visited your blog and will soon be doing more than brushing past! I love the thought of our paths crossing all those years ago.

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