Friday, December 18, 2015

Ron's Rant

An Answer to Terrorism
by Ron Crawford

I have been pondering for sometime the security fears of many in America.  I believe we are threatened by a recurring phenomenon.  I have a solution for your consideration.

Islamic terrorism is nothing new.  The blueprint it uses is similar to that used during the Crusades. The kings of the nation states of Europe and the Catholic pope claimed religious support as a rally point to obtain and hold power.  People were obliged to support the Crusades or go against the God the majority believed in.

The Catholic Church and the Catholic kings were able to maintain their dominance by promising after-life rewards and requiring strict obedience to their power because God was giving them instructions.  Does this sound vaguely familiar to what today's leaders of Iran, ISIS and other Islamic extremists require?

The have-nots of the Islamic world today are being told that "God" wants them to rise up against non-believers much like the Catholic Church and the Catholic kings of Europe claimed "God" wanted to recover the "Holy Land" from the non-believers during the Crusades.

The elite of the current Islamic Jihadists worldwide all have some common characteristics.  The elite get the power and most of the benefits.  The elite have no problem with the sacrifices of their followers or the pain inflicted upon the non-believers.  The elite, when they are successful, get to rule over the subjugated area and all the people within.  The elite are never satisfied.

So how does America protect itself from this threat?  How many people believe that a stronger border fence or improved immigration procedures are the answer?  I don't! How many people believe that bombing the fighter-flunkies on the ground at any particular location is the answer?  I don't!  How many people believe that sending in our military to defeat the fighters on the ground is the answer?  Haven't we already done this more than once?  (i.e. Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.)

Let me give you an example by analogy of the real problem.  Say someone has a large fenced garden with a weed problem.  Every year they have to till, hoe, spray, and new weeds still pop us because they grow unchecked outside the garden fence and they spread their seeds through the fence.  America needs new leadership this election and I don't care from which political party.  Our next president and congress have to recognize the need to kill the weeds of Islamic terrorism at the source outside our fence.

I call for attacks by the United States unilaterally to cut of all financial resources of the supporters of the Islamic terrorist weed wherever they are.  If a Saudi Prince is funding the terrorism, cut off his income at the source, including bombing his oil wells.  If this is not possible or practical or if he continues his support from undiscovered resources, then we kill him.  If we can kill Osama Bin Laden inside Pakistan, we can kill anyone anywhere.  Why should we not kill someone who is trying to kill us?

The alternative is to continue to try to do the nearly impossible task of protecting ourselves from the flunkies of the elite terrorists that we cannot identify.  If the financial resources are removed the flunkies are less able to do harm. Our current protections provide a means to catch up to them eventually even if it is after the fact.  We certainly would be no worse off with this proposal.

I can forecast the future if we continue down our current path.  When the pain of the attacks becomes too great, we will send thousands of our soldiers and spend billions of our resources to again kill thousands of innocents.  The only beneficiaries of our time worn knee-jerk reaction process are the industrialists who make money from the wars.

I will guess that the greatest objection to this idea will come from those who say we would be playing God when we target these elite terrorists.  I submit that we do this every day as a society in our law courts.  I propose a Grand Jury system to examine guilt with information provided even by the accused if they will.

Targeting should be on an escalating scale of economic punishment first.  We should not allow any international influence on the decision making of the jury.  We should not fear reprisals from the country of the terrorist elite.  We should be able to provide incontrovertible proof of complicity to any nation.



It would be nice if the nation where the terrorist resides would rein in the culprits, but what do you think the chances of that are?  Maybe after a time or two of pain for the terrorist elite host country they will.  If they do, then we accomplish improving our security without attacking and that would be a good thing.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Dawson

Dawson
by Sara Jo Holan
“Home sweet home!”  My mother said cheerfully. 

I rubbed my eyes and looked out of the car window.  Sure enough, there it stood; our new home. 

From our apartment in New York City to this old white farm house in rural Georgia, I was experiencing a little bit of culture shock.  I suddenly felt sick, missing my school, my friends, and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Just a month before, my father sat mother and me down in our kitchen and told us he quit his job as a stock broker to pursue the job he had always wanted: open his own museum.  That being said, he was also tired of the city.  My father and mother unanimously decided to relocate and start a new life in Dawson, Georgia. 

Enter the begging, bargaining, crying, screaming, slamming doors, threats to run away, and eventually, acceptance. 

Once the move became decided, my father happily set out looking for Civil War memorabilia and antiques that would make his museum a sensation.  My mother basked in his happiness and ease, elated that he was for once at home with her. 

As soon as we pulled up, I got out of the car and grabbed my Louis Vuitton purse.  My mother walked up to the U-Haul that my father had driven, and started unloading our essentials.  Because it was almost 10:00 p.m. the real moving in would happen in the morning. 

I got my suitcase and sleeping bag and headed inside after my parents.  The house was quite old.  Specifically, it had been new in 1869, 4 years after the Civil War ended.  The first owner and builder of the house was Mr. Thomas Kelly, a Northern business mogul from Vermont.  He moved to Dawson with the intention of starting a company that gave freed slaves the opportunity to make better lives for themselves.  Although they had been technically freed, most slaves had no choice but to look for work with their previous owners.  The freed title required former slave masters to now pay their workers to do what they had always done, which they did.  The pay the newly freed received, however, was barely enough to feed their families, making it impossible to break free from their new “jobs.”

Knowing this, Mr. Kelly started up T.G. Kelly & Co., a company that specialized in growing the best produce around.  Because no one in the South embraced that kind of new thinking, Mr. Kelly’s business came from Northern grocers and farmers who loved the way T.G. Kelly & Co. did business.

Mr. Kelly built his beautiful 3 story farm house with a wrap around porch on 300 acres, started up his business, and paid his workers handsomely.  As his workers made enough money for nice houses of their own, many built on Mr. Kelly’s land.

Not long after, though, Mr. Kelly was met with resistance from the locals.  One summer night in 1872, minutes after Mr. Kelly left the house of one of his workers; Mr. Kelly was met by a lynch mob and hanged from the branch of an oak tree in his own back yard.  He was found the next morning by the daughter of one of his workers, who had been sent out to the water pump by her mother to do laundry.  When little Lucille saw the lifeless body of Mr. Kelly swaying gently in the breeze, she screamed, then fainted.  There were “investigations” and some of the locals were tried in court, but it was ruled a suicide.  Everyone said that Mr. Kelly was an unstable man, tired from the stress of running a company with former slaves.  Though his faithful friends tried to keep the company, new regulations and taxes made it impossible to do.  The houses were sold, the property was parceled up, and many of the T.G. Kelly & Co. workers took the little money they had left and moved north. 

Now, as I looked at this house, I could see that it had been well cared for.  Granted, there were some cosmetic changes to be made, like the 70’s style wallpaper in the bathrooms was peeling, and the counters were cracked.  But all in all, the house was sturdy and, though I hated to admit it, charming. 

I set my things in the foyer and went to explore the house.  I climbed the stairs and went into the first bedroom on the right.  It was very large, much bigger than my bedroom back in New York.  It had a large bed that looked to be made of oak with a vintage oak chest at the foot of it.  There was a large window with white lace curtains that overlooked the backyard and pastures.  I suddenly felt excited to explore outside when the morning came. 

There was a large walk-in closet, and a dresser right next to it.  The floors were hardwood, and I noticed that they could benefit from a sanding and polish.  I loved the room, and decided it would be mine.  Although I missed the city and the life I was used to, I also shared my father’s appreciation for history and antiques.  If I was going to live here, I might as well try to make the most of it. 

I ran to get my things, and began setting up camp in my new room.  My parents had busied themselves unpacking in the master bedroom down the hall.  When we all met in the hallway famished, my mother brought up the cooler in which she had packed sandwiches from our favorite sandwich shop, iced tea, pita chips, and a Tupperware container filled with glazed melon.  After we finished eating, we all got ready for bed and said goodnight.  

It was a really warm August night, and my hair was sticking to my neck and forehead.  I opened my windows, which took some prying, and let the cool night air in.  I unrolled my sleeping bag out on my new bed and lay down on top of it.  I heard crickets chirp outside and the breeze blew the curtains.  It was too quiet.  I was used to the sound of traffic and people while falling asleep and the peaceful country commotion outside just didn’t do it for me.  I checked the time on my phone.  It said 1:30 a.m.  I was just starting to fall asleep when I suddenly felt incredibly cold.  I got up to shut the window and closed the curtains.  I went to lie back down and fall asleep when I heard someone by my doorway.  I couldn’t see in the dark, but I figured it was one of my parents checking on me when they heard me shut my old window.  I softly said “mom?” but as I said it I heard footsteps walking away.  Exhausted from the long drive and resisting sleep, I closed my eyes and slept peacefully.

 

The next morning I awoke to my mother opening my curtains and window.  Sunlight streamed in, and I grumbled.  I sat up and looked at my phone.  It read 10:00 a.m. so my annoyance at my mother melted away.  There was a lot to do, and my parents had mercifully let me sleep in.  I got out of bed and unzipped my suitcase. 

“Mom, did you or dad come to check on me in the middle of the night?” I tugged on an old pair of Levi’s. 

My mother looked at me confused.  “No we didn’t.  We were both so exhausted we slept straight through the night.  Why do you ask darling?”

“Well I closed my window last night because it got too cold in my room, and when I got back to my bed, I heard someone come by my door.  I figured it might have been one of you two coming to make sure I hadn’t decided to run away.”  I said the last part sarcastically.  When I saw the slightly hurt look on my mothers face, I regretted saying it. 

“Well, it was windy last night and this house is old, so it was probably just the house creaking.  Let’s go grab some breakfast so we can start unpacking.”  We both headed downstairs.  In the kitchen my dad had donuts ready on a plate and fresh squeezed orange juice in a glass pitcher on the table.   I grabbed one of the donuts and a glass of orange juice and headed to the porch.  I sat down in a wooden rocker and bit into my donut.  It was still warm and it left frosting on my upper lip.  When I finished my food I dumped my dishes in the sink and went back outside to explore.  As I got to the East side of the house, I marveled at our backyard.  It had a large green lawn accompanied by a large oak tree and a couple small willows.  I suddenly felt like Scarlett O’Hara, living in my very own Terra.  I wondered if when we got settled my parents would let me get a horse. 

I heard my mother call my name for me to come help move in, and quickly ran back to the front of the house where the U-Haul was parked.

My father spotted me and handed me two boxes stacked on top of each other.  The boxes said KITCHEN UTENSILS in my mother’s messy scrawl. 

“What do you think of our backyard Munchkin?” My father asked.

“I have to say, dad, it is pretty nice.”

My dad smiled at me with pride.  “There is an old rumor that Mr. Kelly, the man who built this house, still roams around at night, looking for the men who hung him from that old oak.”

Curiously, I looked at my father.  “You mean that one right there?  That isn’t the same tree dad.  That was almost 150 years ago! The tree would be long gone by now.”

Dad shook his head.  “Now, munchkin, does that tree look to you like it was planted in this century?  That is the exact tree.  It even stated that in the papers.  But you needn’t worry; Mr. Kelly has been long laid to rest.”

I watched as my dad left with some boxes.  He was right, I knew.  But I didn’t believe in ghost stories.  That the tree Mr. Kelly had swung from by the neck stood just below my bedroom window didn’t even faze me.  I picked up the kitchen utensils boxes and carried them inside. 

 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Birthday Gift


A wave of tenderness washed over John as he watched his greying wife and marveled at her beauty. She worked too hard, but he had never been able to slow her down. She was always there to provide for all the family’s needs. Now as her 45th birthday approached, he was determined to do something very special for her.  If asked, she would probably say she wanted a new vacuum or a new garden tool.  He knew the ring was extravagant. He knew she’d be surprised. He happily waited for the day he could present it to her as he saved a little bit from each pay check.  Since she did all the bookkeeping, it had taken him over a year to accumulate the $1,500 he needed for the ring.  Now, with only two months left, he was still short about $500.   Suddenly, he remembered his Cal Ripkin Jr. rookie baseball card.  He hadn’t thought about that for years, but when he dug through his box of cards in the attic, there it was.  Why not trade in this piece of cardboard from his teenage years, for something special for the love of his life?  He tucked it into his pocket as he left for work.

After work, he stopped by the memorabilia shop near his workplace.

“Do you buy baseball cards?”

“What do you have?”

He pulled the card from his pocket and handed it to Roy, the proprietor of the shop.  He hadn’t checked the card in years.

“I can give you $2,000 for it.”

John was ecstatic.  “Sounds good to me!”  He left the shop with a check for $2,000, and immediately headed for Key Bank, where the check was drawn. 

“I’m sorry, sir, there are insufficient funds for me to cash this check.”

“How can that be?  I just got it!”  He said with dismay. 

“Well, it’s not that short – maybe tomorrow it’ll be good.” The teller said sympathetically.

John spent the evening trying to stay cheerful and optimistic that the check would cash the next day.  However, after several days of finding short funds in the account, he returned to the store to confront the owner.

“This check is no good – I want you to exchange it for cash.” 

“Sorry, I can’t do that.  I’ve been a little short, but it’ll be good next week, I guarantee it.”

For the next month, John called the bank, growing more desperate by the day, always finding the account just a tiny bit short to cash the check.  As he lay awake worrying, he had an inspiration.  The next morning, he checked to see if a check for $1,800 would cash, and found that it would.  He filled out a deposit slip for Roy’s account and put two hundred dollar bills with it.  He drove through the drive-thru window and made the deposit.   Anxiously, he parked and entered the bank with his $2,000 check.  When it cleared, he scooped up his cash and headed for the jewelry store.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Many Faces of Facebook

The Many Faces of Facebook
by Rosemary Rains-Crawford
My sister calls it “Fakebook”.   I can see why as I page through my “friends” and try to categorize them.  Oh my, I don’t even know some of these people.  What happened here?  Oh, that must be that person I played a game of Scrabble with one day.  Or, maybe it’s someone from an author forum?  So just for fun, here is my synopsis of friends on Facebook (in no particular order).  Although I am listing main categories, some people cross from one to another frequently and I’m not sure where I fall on the spectrum.

  1. Family.  We all have family members and some we have learned a lot about since the advent of Facebook.  Sometimes way too much.  Distant and shirttail relatives start to become more familiar as we follow their posts.  It really is a great way to keep up with family with photos and notes.  If not for family, I surely would have given up Facebook many moons ago.
  2. Exhibitionists.  You can expect to see at least one new sexy picture every week from these people.  Some of the pictures look like they might have been taken many years ago, but who’s judging?
  3. Braggarts.  “My child is an honor student at….”  “I just won {something} of the year”  “Damn, I’m good.”
  4. Crusaders.  These people hold rigid beliefs in something.  It might be religion, it might be guns, it might be anti-guns, it might be a political party, it might be atheism, or Buddhism, purity in food, etc.  If it is possible to convert the masses with posts from their favorite cause, they are on it.
  5. Dead people.  Oh, I know, I should delete people that have the audacity to die, but it seems so final and like such an act of abandonment.  Besides, no one is ever dead to Facebook.  That record will remain until we are all buried and turned to dust, so why should I remove them from my list?
  6. Animals.  Oh my, how did this happen?  I have a mule, two dogs, and a hamster that somehow wormed their way onto my friend list.  Oh, and one of the dogs is also a Number 5, above.
  7. Imaginary people.  Yes, I do have one of those as a friend.  It is kind of an inside joke, but Olga just doesn’t fit into any other category.
  8. Whiners.  Letting us all know how they are suffering through a bad job, a bad marriage, a bad relationship, etc. 
  9. Do Gooders.  Urgent requests to help cancer victims, find children who have run away, notify people of kidnapped or lost children, sexual predators moving into an area, etc.
  10. Guilt Trippers.  If you don’t share their post, you don’t care about your (son, daughter, mother, father, sister, friend, Jesus, etc.)
  11. Entrepreneurs.  People trying to sell you something.  No explanation needed here.
  12. Ghosts.  These are people who had a Facebook account set up by a well-meaning friend, relative or colleague.  I am responsible for at least one ghost.  My husband had an annoying habit of looking over my shoulder as I played Scrabble, offering suggestions, etc.  So I set him up with his own Facebook account to play his own Scrabble games, which completely cured him of Facebook and Scrabble both.
  13. Comedians.  Passing on the very latest in jokes, cartoons, and pithy sayings.  I personally enjoy a good laugh, so appreciate having a minute of mirth as I scan the latest on the Facebook timeline.
  14. Philosophers.  Like comedians but with a more serious purpose. 
  15. Game Players.  Oh, so interesting to know that {someone} had a rush on Candy Crush, or won a $50,000 hand in Texas Hold ‘Em.  I play Scrabble and Words with Friends, but I try to always remove the “Post” (default) option after every move.  It’s easy to miss, so for anyone who was notified of a “Bingo” I got in Scrabble, I apologize. 
  16. Lurkers. They’re there, but it’s easy to forget that.  They never post anything.  They just watch what everyone else posts and form opinions that can’t be reciprocated.
  17. Stalkers.  Keeping track of people anonymously.  Watching their every move, looking for an opening. 
  18.  Gossip Mongers. Like stalkers and lurkers but with a specific goal – find the interesting tidbits on mutual acquaintances so they can be first to pass on the “news”.
  19. Spies.  These are the worst.  They report on every post or “like” to the paranoids that don’t have their own account.  Often out of context, their goal is to create angst outside of Facebook. 
I’m sure there are other prototypes.  But one thing is certain:  If you have a “friend” on Facebook, even if you never knew them before, over time, a portrait of them emerges for you and one of you emerges for them.  Random likes and posts really do start forming into a picture, so be careful out there!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Driving Lessons


Driving Lessons

By Rosemary Rains-Crawford

Today, there is a name for every mental ailment – nearly everyone I know seems to be bi-polar, a name unknown when I was a teenager.  However, I have yet to see “inappropriate laughter” in the blurbs I read about mental health issues.  I can attest to the fact that all of my sisters and I suffered through a childhood with a tyrannical father with that affliction.  While it doesn’t seem to be life threatening on the surface, when combined with a mercurial personality running the show, we knew it could be.  Never was the affliction more hazardous than when Daddy decided to teach someone to drive.  Daddy had strong ideas about everything, and he had nothing but scorn for the new-fangled invention of an automatic transmission.  So all of his driving lessons were in a car with a stick shift.  To the younger generation, unfamiliar with this type of automobile transmission, it will be hard to understand the serious difference it presented to a new driver.

My first observation of Daddy’s Driving Lessons, occurred when I was about 10 years old.  He had gotten a new car and it was his pride and joy.  For the first time in his life, he owned a car that was only eight years old.  The 1946 Ford sedan even had a custom paint job – white on top with a big black strip along the bottom.  The upholstery had yet to see its first tear.  Anxious to show off this wonderful machine, he decided it was time for my grandmother to learn to drive.  Why everyone involved acquiesced to this plan is still beyond me.  Grandpa took good care of Grandma and couldn’t imagine a time when she would need to drive, Mama knew Daddy’s short temper and limited patience, and Grandma had never liked Daddy at all.  We all watched in wonder as Daddy and Grandma set off in the new car with Daddy at the wheel, explaining the operation of the clutch, the brake, the gas pedal, the turn signals, and all the various switches on the dash.  Grandma’s face was glazed, but she refused to show any weakness to  Daddy, so off they went.  My sister, Molly, and I sneaked off to the fence where we peeked out to watch the lesson on our little private road.

I can still see Grandma as she took the wheel, her head held high, eyes staring straight ahead, ignoring Daddy as he began to swear at her.  She refused to acknowledge anything he said when he was shouting, which caused the shouting to accelerate.  Grandma finally got the car started.

“Put your left foot on the brake and your right foot on the clutch and push it all the way to the floor, and move the gear shift to low!”

The moment Grandma depressed the clutch, she forgot about the brake, and the car began to roll.

“PUSH THE DAMN BRAKE!” Daddy shouted.

Grandma held both pedals with both feet as hard as she could.  Both of her hands gripped the steering wheel.

“Now gradually let up on the clutch while you take your foot off the brake.”

Grandma immediately took both feet off the pedals, and the car lurched forward, rapidly jerking Daddy’s head back and forth.  As they disappeared around the corner, Molly and I dissolved into helpless laughter. 

About a half hour later, Daddy returned alone. 

“Where’s Mildred?” Grandpa asked.

“She got mad and got out of the car and refused to get back in!” 

“You left her out on the road somewhere?”  Grandpa asked incredulously.

“It wasn’t that far, and the walk will do her good!  She just can’t follow any damn instructions!”

Shortly after that, our family moved out of our Grandparent’s home.

As Molly and I reached our teenage years, we saw driving as an important step in our journey away from our childhood home.  Tired of being under Daddy’s thumb, we were highly motivated to learn to drive, and we had forgotten the episode of Grandma’s lessons.  So when Daddy suggested teaching us to drive, we both jumped at the chance.

Since Molly was the oldest, she got first crack at the wheel.  Suddenly Grandma’s lessons came roaring back into my head as Daddy screamed and Molly cried, and we lurched down the road.  In spite of the gravity of the situation, I found myself laughing uncontrollably.  Fortunately, Daddy was too involved yelling at Molly to notice, and Molly was too miserable to see.  Molly, like Grandma, eventually refused to take any more lessons.  When she married, her new husband gently taught her to drive his Ford Fairlane with an automatic transmission.

“That’s not driving,” Daddy insisted, “That’s just steering!”  Nevertheless, I was impressed that Molly had her driver’s license, and I once again asked meekly if Daddy would teach me to drive.

In spite of his classroom techniques, he eventually pronounced me ready to get my license.  The car I learned in was a 1951 maroon-colored Nash.  It had the appearance of an upside down bathtub.  We all knew it wouldn’t pass even the most cursory safety inspection, so Molly generously offered to let me use their car to take my test.  Although she worried that I might hurt the car and she would have to answer to her husband, she accompanied me to a nearby town and gave me a few instructions before my driver’s license appointment.  Somehow, I managed to pass the test on my first experience with an automatic transmission.

It wasn’t long after that that Daddy traded in the purple Nash for a brand new Mercedes sedan.  The auto dealer gave him a trade-in allowance for the Nash with the proviso that he remove it from the up-scale Mercedes lot immediately.  Daddy saw the benefit of having me drive the younger siblings to their school events, so he turned the purple Nash over to me, and the door to freedom opened for me just after my 16th birthday.

 

 

 

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Mirror in My Dream

Walking down the hallway it seemed like all the doors opened into empty rooms.  As I enter one empty room, I spot a full-length mirror on the wall.  The mirror flashes back my image and I recognize my red skirt with the two black pleats on the sides.  It advertises my slim hips as it molds itself to my body from waist to knee before flaring out at the pleats. It’s my favorite skirt.  As I walk closer I slow to admire my tall slim image in the mirror.  My dark hair falls to my shoulders and seems slightly unkempt, so I reach to smooth it with my right hand.  To my horror, the hands on the image in the mirror remain at my sides.  

I wake from this nightmare quaking with fear.  I lay still trying to calm my thoughts with logic.  Of course, it was only a dream.  But did I have a split personality that had just exhibited itself to me in my dream state? Why didn’t the mirror reflect my actions as I stood in front of it?  Was it really me at all?   I force myself to think logically. It was just a dream.

To calm my emotions I begin my counting routine – one of many I have adopted over the years to cure insomniac tendencies.  “Conjuring up dead people,” I call this one.  Thinking of all the people I have known that are now dead. I attempt to concentrate hard enough to receive a message from one of them from the grave.  I use my right hand to count each person I meditate about until I reached five.  Then using my left hand, I start my count of groups of five, still using my right hand to count each new person.  Usually I can count to about 55 before I fall back to sleep.  Rarely, I find myself searching for additional dead people and can sometimes reach 70 before I totally run out of even casual acquaintances.  “Nobody answers when I call your name.”  The country western song comes to mind as I seek my dead people with no response. 

Time just has to be lineal – an argument I often have with my husband, who thinks time is more liquid.  As I ponder that concept, I’m distracted from my dead people, and fall into a deep sleep.  I wake in the morning with the dream still clear in my mind.  This is unusual; most of my dreams are fleeting, remembered for a few minutes when I first awaken, lost forever as soon as I’m distracted by anything at all.   

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Headline

by Rosemary Rains-Crawford
Headline:  Atlanta Journal Constitution, March  18, 2007

Church Vandalism Puzzles Authorities

Two elderly women arrested at site of sign desecration

Motive Unclear

In the early hours of March 18, 2007, two grandmothers were arrested as they vandalized a church reader board in a rural area of Randolph County, GA.  The women had not damaged anything, but had instead rearranged the letters on the sign belonging to the Mt Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church.  The sign had originally said “Eternity – to long too be wrong” but the women had revised the sign to read “Where ignorance is bliss,’tis folly to be wise”.  The women refused to talk to police until they had a chance to consult with their husbands.  Sheriff Don Butts said “These Yankees have no respect for our Southern values”

One bright sunny day in my 62nd year and my sister’s 53rd year of life, Mona and I finally got into trouble after a lifetime of pranks.  The day started innocently enough with a tour of the countryside and a stop by the flea market in Dothan, Alabama.  We were chattering in our normal fast-talking way about anything that crossed our minds.  The rural area where we have our winter home has a Baptist church any place where two roads meet.  We have long been fascinated that so many churches could flourish in such unpopulated areas.  Both of us are pretty logical, and therefore, fairly cynical and we observed with amusement the billboards in front of every church.  Some of the messages were just dumb, most were predictable and probably came from a periodical that all ministers in the South subscribe to that gives friendly suggestions for their weekly billboard message, but some actually offended our purest views of language and grammar.

“Oh my God, look at that one,” I said as we passed a billboard that read “You can feed the hungary with your pocket change”.  “Just what in the Hell does that mean?”

“Maybe they have missionaries in Hungary” Mona responded laughing.

“Well, I certainly hope so, otherwise they are sure displaying their ignorance” I huffed.

Neither one of us could stop ourselves from correcting typos we found in the books that we read constantly.  When we saw a SIGN with typos, it was very hard to not stop and immediately fix it. 

Of all the siblings in our big family, Mona and I were the most irreverent.  Our mother had pushed religion on all of us most of our lives.  Her life with Daddy and all of us kids would have driven her crazy without the solace of religion.   The religious influence had polarized us kids, leaving us either totally immersed or totally cynical.  The unfortunate combination of two cynics, the rural South, and opportunity must have become star crossed that day.

“There is a good one,” Mona pointed out.  “Eternity to long too be wrong”   “I hate it when people won’t take the time to figure out the proper use of two/to/too” 
“Maybe we should fix that one – that is too egregious to leave,” I said. 

At that fateful moment, we both noticed the box of letters sitting beside the waist high sign.  WELL, why not put up one of Daddy’s old sayings that had some REAL wisdom in it???  The thought came to both of us at the exact same moment and we looked at each other and started laughing.  Then we started quoting the pithy sayings we had often heard as children:

“A rolling stone gathers no moss”  I said.
“A stitch in time saves nine” she responded.
“It is better to have loved and lost than never have loved at all”
 “A fool and his money are soon parted”
“Down to a gnat’s ass”
“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”
“Don’t state the obvious”
“Many hands make light work”
I can’t is a sluggard too lazy to try”
“A penny saved is a penny earned”
“You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”
“Pretty is as pretty does”
“Tell me something I don’t already know”
“That is like feeding strawberries to pigs”
“A dog will return to his own vomit”
“Birds of a feather flock together”
“People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”
“A bad penny always turns up”
“The devil finds work for idle hands” this one sets us off laughing.
“When ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise” –

That’s it” I said, “Let’s do this for mankind. This is a perfect sign to change…it is out in the country and we can wait until midnight and come by and fix it.” 

“It will be a perfect prank,” Mona adds, egging me on.  “These church members will think it is the real thing – it isn’t obscene or anything – and it may even make them think.”

We were still laughing when we got home and talking about the prank we both knew we would never really do.  However, as the night wore on, and we had a couple of glasses of wine, neither one of us could quit thinking about the perfect prank and just how easy and safe it would be.  Finally, we decided to go over there and just see if we could really reach the sign and if the letters were still in the box by the sign. It would be an omen if they were gone and we’d have another good laugh and go home and go to bed.


The box of letters goaded us as we drove up.  We took the three-step stand out of the trunk and headed over to the sign……and, as they say, the rest is history!