Odd handmade sign: "здесь был лева"

On a road I drive fairly often, in a mostly-residential area in the U.S., there’s a handwritten paper sign tacked to a tree, reading “здесь был лева”. (That’s from memory; I haven’t taken a photograph but I think that’s the spelling.) My Russian is rather rudimentary. “Here was left”? Can anyone offer a plausible explanation?

I’m not sure what “был” means here, but I’d guess it’s something like “Turn left here”.

Could it mean something like “Rest in Peace” or “Here lies so-and-so”

Indtead of a white cross they left a Russian death saying?

Edit window timed out…

Googling “Zdes’ bil” gives quite a few results for this phrase, but I can’t figure out what it means.

The Russian dictionary has lots of words with the root был- , mostly along the lines of removal in some sense - break out, fish out, pull out and so on… but I think we need a Russian speaker.

Phlosphr, “leva” means “left” in the directional sense, not the left behind sense.


A common phrase seems to be “здесь был я” (zdes’ bil ya) which Google translates as “There was I”. Or “I woz ere”, maybe?

Is it a Russian Kilroy, called Lev?
Edit, beaten to it by seconds!

Actually, when I first saw the sign I thought it said “LIONS WERE HERE”. :eek: