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How I learned to live with a flowery address

Posted Tuesday, April 21, 2009, at 10:39 AM

"If you can't make it better, you can laugh at it."
--Erma Bombeck

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."
--Michael Pritchard

"Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine."
--Lord Byron

Showing most recent comments first
[Show in chronological order instead]

A suggestion: put the tree out in the boomerang garden to balance out the other tree.... although that may be too windy.

-- Posted by Marcia's sis on Mon, May 4, 2009, at 3:24 PM

countryman: There is also a database of least (and also most) stolen cars. And speaking of sports and useless collections of information,I offer you just one word: Baseball.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Sun, May 3, 2009, at 7:36 AM

Where in the wide, wide world of sports do you get a database of "least stolen road signs?" I mean really, does someone actually get paid to keep track of this? ..... and if so, I can think of a great cost savings for whoever is doing the paying (probably us, the taxpayers).

So, if this database does exist, I am skeptical. As a part time scientist, I want to see the statistical method employeed to prove that these are the least stolen sign names. Hypothesis testing? What is the null (i.e. the most stolen)? Stop? And is the change in probability of theft even significant for one name vs. another?

....and while I'm raving on, couldn't we use the same methodology to rename the database "The Database of Least Popular Road Names." Given that, you have to question the logic of using this method of randomly assigning unpopular names. Perhaps the goal was to generate as many complaints as possible.

-- Posted by countryman on Tue, Apr 28, 2009, at 3:21 PM

Marsha, I once lived in a city and some folks got together and decided to rename the city I had lived in for 18 years. The name of the street (Pamela Court) didn't bother me but I have to admit the name change did. I think the person who was most upset was the county recorder. They are the ones who had to change all the deeds of record.

Lot 2 Block 2 Norside Estates Subdivision in the City of Park Hills, formerly know as Flat River, Mo.

With a population of over 3600 there were a lot of old deeds that had to have corrections.

-- Posted by John Q. on Mon, Apr 27, 2009, at 7:09 PM

Injesstice - That is funny!

How about: "Injesstice be nimble, injesstice be quick!"

-- Posted by Marcia Gorrell on Thu, Apr 23, 2009, at 6:16 PM

Hey Marcia!! I also have taken the laugh it off attitude with my road name.

P.S. Just be glad you didn't get Nimble Lane!!!! lol And there isn't a Jack to speak of on Nimble Lane!

-- Posted by Injesstice on Thu, Apr 23, 2009, at 4:17 PM

Thanks upsedaisy for the information.

I'll see if I can get one! Mother's day is a great idea, then our road name can be "official"!!


-- Posted by Marcia Gorrell on Thu, Apr 23, 2009, at 8:19 AM

Loved it, Marcia. We need all the laughter to lift our lives.

You can grow Magnolias right there in zone 5. I found the Jane Magnolia. These trees give you the traditional Magnolia semi-evergreen foliage with fragrant blooms that look like tulips.

The large flowers burst in the late spring. Pinkish purple on the outside, and a bright white on the inside.

Jane Magnolias grow very quickly to a mature height of 10-15 ft... the perfect size for a decorative bed or to plant next to a structure.

These trees can grow in any soil... no matter if its acidic, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, or well drained.

Prefers Growing Zones 3-7.

Maybe hubby and your sons will plant it for you for Mother's Day. You probably have deer so it will need a tall fence until it is established. Deer love to strip the bark off the "newbies".

I have a herd of eight roaming my 25 acres, even after this past fall when a young Marine hunted w/a bow and took out three eight point bucks and one doe.

-- Posted by upsedaisy on Wed, Apr 22, 2009, at 8:38 PM

Thank you everybody. You are all so nice!!

I'm sure glad you enjoyed it. Sure beats the alternative. :)



-- Posted by Marcia Gorrell on Wed, Apr 22, 2009, at 1:15 PM

Marcia, I could have written thousands of words on this topic and not come close to doing the outstanding job you've done here, taking on the complaints and the fuss and bother that have been raised about 911 addressing. I will be laughing about this for days and envious always of your talent. :)

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Wed, Apr 22, 2009, at 7:14 AM

Marcia, your contributions to the DNC are priceless! Thanks for bringing your ever optimistic perspective to this subject!

-- Posted by oneofmany on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 10:41 PM

What a fun read.

-- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 7:51 PM

Love it!

-- Posted by Farm_Girl_2010 on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 1:41 PM

Marcia, I love your perspective! Keep us smiling...

-- Posted by missy08 on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 1:30 PM

glad i took a minute to read that...lol

-- Posted by marshallite on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 1:12 PM

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