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How I learned to live with a flowery addressPosted Tuesday, April 21, 2009, at 10:39 AM
"If you can't make it better, you can laugh at it."
Greetings from Magnolia Avenue.
Yes, I know -- with a street name like that it sounds as if I should be sipping mint juleps on the front porch of my new high-priced suburban home in Atlanta, Ga.
But alas -- I'm not.
Instead, I'm living in the same place, same house where we have resided for over 18 years. And it's certainly not a suburb -- unless you consider Napton a city and several cows, a black pygmy goat and a donkey named Hilary as our fellow suburbanites.
But nonetheless, our address has changed thanks to Saline County's new 911-address system.
Although the issue was approved handily by voters several years ago, it hasn't stopped the complaining -- especially over the new county road names.
I'll admit some in my family are complaining too. My sons are sure that telling people they live on "Magnolia" Avenue somehow threatens their masculinity. My husband just thinks the whole thing is a secret plan to give him more work and aggravation.
I even complained a little, when I first found out several months ago that our new address would be the name of a tree (or is it a flower?) that I'm pretty sure doesn't grow this far north.
Change is hard.
It's tough enough to wake up every morning and realize your face is changing, your body's changing and your age is changing -- and you can't stop it. I think that's why we get so cranky about change we deem "unnecessary."
But I've been thinking about it for a while and I've concluded a few things. The first is, if my road name was so important, then I should have gone to the meetings they held before the names were announced -- I didn't. In fact, few people did.
The next thing I realized is that it is doubtful the people on my road, which spans about five miles, ever would have been able to agree completely on a name. No matter what it was, most likely somebody would have been unhappy.
The next thing I realized is that many street names in Marshall such as Anita, Belle, Kay, Laura, Lacy, Linn, Mellisa, Miranda, Rachel, Star and Susan wouldn't have met with my sons' approval.
And there are others, like Gaslight, Edsel, Darling, Cotton (doesn't grow here much, either), Horseshoe, Milky Way and Kingridge. Some of those may have been named for specific people or incidents, but at first glance, without knowing the background, they sound a little silly.
Imagine a lifelong non-drinker being told they now live on "Keg," another Marshall street name. Now, I love the name, but that's because I know it was named for my husband's great uncle who had that nickname as much for his stature, as for his, uh, ... "relaxation therapy." But, for some people, it might be a problem.
The truth is, I would live in my home, on my road, no matter what the name had been.
I certainly wouldn't have said, "No we can't live there -- that street name will make our sons grow up to be sissies." The only difference is we picked the homes and the locations before the address got picked for us. And like I said, change is hard.
But there are many positives to having countywide 911 and the new addresses that go with it.
Although we may never know for sure, the new system is bound to save lives. I have heard more than one horror story where an ambulance got lost on gravel roads, while minutes tick off a dying person's clock.
From the time children are small, they are taught on television and in school to dial "911." However, I knew that because 911 wasn't countywide here, our calls would not register our address -- if they even went through. Instead, I spent a lot of time trying to teach my young sons basic directions to our house, so if I choked on a banana, fell down the steps or the house caught on fire (hopefully not all three at once) they could call it in.
Now with countywide 911, our calls too will register our addresses and we won't have to worry whether or not we remembered to tell the ambulance or fire truck to turn right at Farmer Brown's barn. This way, funny road names or not -- they'll get here faster.
Another positive is that I'll never again be kicked off an Internet shopping site, when it insists I can't put in a box number. Now, the United Parcel Service (UPS) and FedEx man will be able to find me very easily.
The order of the street names in alphabetical order, changing letters every mile, actually makes sense and will make it easier for emergency responders who will know the general direction to head, even before they get turn-by-turn instructions. As a person who still can't tell you where the corner of Rea and Salt Pond is in Marshall, I can attest from my days delivering flowers in Kansas City that having streets with names one direction and numbers the other way makes it much easier to find a certain address.
The 911 committee recently said that the street names were picked from a database of least stolen road signs. As county residents, it will save us money and make us safer if our signs don't end up as decorations for a college dorm room. (I can't see fraternity boys with a room full of signs like Magnolia, Lily or Lilac -- can you?)
But there is another thing I realized the other day. Whether or not I ever need to call for an emergency, our new address is bound to prolong my life.
You see, I find it rather humorous. I laugh out loud every time I give the rhyming five-digit house number and new road name. It's even funnier considering I can't seem to say it without a fake "southern belle" accent.
And you know what they say -- those who laugh live longer.
"You don't stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing."
"Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine."
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