Tuesday, July 16, 2013


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!

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