Daisy was one of the few who listened intently to Preacher Norton’s sermons. She had a deep conviction that the Sunday sermon was less about the human messenger and more about the congregation hearing from the Lord through His Word. It was true that sometimes Norton got a bit cute with his outlines. He loved to do rhymes with the main points and sometimes they tended to be a little like country music lyrics – a bit forced. She remembered the sermon on Noah – the rain, the strain, the drain, and the gain. She never could get over David and Bathsheba – the sin, the spin, the end. “End” didn’t really rhyme but she remembered it so maybe it was effective. At any rate, even Daisy had to admit the R-I-S-E acrostic this Easter was pretty good. She was attuned, but when Preacher Norton let loose with “when Jesus came out of the grave, He said ‘STOP!’ to death forever,” her attention was immediately drawn to a conversation she had had with her brother-in-law, Sammy Tremaine. Sammy was married to Daisy’s youngest sister, Marigold, and he was one of three policemen on Chief Warren’s Croweville force. He worked the graveyard shift which was perfect since Marigold was the graveyard shift 9-1-1 operator for Crowe County. His job was fairly uneventful. He occasionally had a DUI coming through town. Every now and then he had a run in with his brother-in-law, J.J. Just small stuff in a tranquil town, but he took his job seriously and most nights managed to stay awake the whole shift. Once he fell asleep parked under the train trestle and when the 4:00 a.m. southbound rolled through he nearly had an accident. He didn’t sleep for a while after that.
Anyway, Sammy had asked Daisy about the stop sign at 2nd and Virginia. Virginia Street was a residential street that paralleled Maine Street. The north-south streets in Croweville were named for the States and it seemed logical to use “Maine” as the main street so they did. There was a bit of contention since Maine had fought for the Yankees in the War of Northern Aggression, but in the end, logic won out over passion. The intersection of Virginia and 2nd was not actually an intersection at all. It was more of a merger, with 2nd feeding into Virginia and forming a Y. Jonathan Minstrom, the local eccentric and atheist who taught History at Pierce College over in Polkston, owned one of the houses at the merger. Dr. Minstrom seemed to gain great glee from creating problems for the residents of Croweville. His intellectual air intimidated most of the locals, and his knowledge of history allowed him to call up anecdotal evidence for his arguments that most folks just didn’t have the time or resources to refute. Consequently, he had been able to stop prayer at the town council meetings and the local 4th of July celebration. He technically had prayer stopped at the high school ballgames, but whenever the band was ready to play the national anthem, the cheerleaders would start the Lord’s Prayer. None of the authorities seemed to know how to stop it, and truth be known, they had little inclination to do so. Since Dr. Minstrom never came to a ballgame anyway, it just carried on. Well, Dr. Minstrom also stirred up a hornet’s nest over the intersection. It seems that some of the high school students thought it was faster to get to school by taking Virginia instead of Maine. Naturally this led to cars going faster than necessary. Dr. Minstrom complained about the problem, then threatened a lawsuit for negligence, so the mayor wrote an official letter to the Department of Transportation requesting a stop sign be put in. The State had a Committee do a study and they submitted a request to whoever does these things and before you could say “reelection” Croweville had a three way stop. Time went along, Dr. Minstrom retired and moved up north (ostensibly to be rid of the hicks in Croweville who never missed him). Nobody else carried about the Stop sign. As a general rule it just seemed silly to have to stop at Virginia and 2nd when there were only about three cars a day anyway. The kids had started taking yet another route in the never ending quest to get to the place they really wanted to leave (School) in a faster time than anyone else. Odd how youth works. Chief Warren was tired of complaining residents who saw it as an unnecessary hardship to stop at a practically unused intersection. The police officers wondered about enforcement. Small town problems. Mayor Harrison decided he would send another official letter, this time requesting removal of the stop sign. He did and the D.O.T. stated that “removal of official D.O.T. signage is reviewed every twenty years; removal of hardware in the interim will cost the governing municipality $500.00.” What? Mayor Harrison hit the roof. “500 stinkin’ dollars to remove a sign? These government people must be nuts!” He did not see the irony. The Mayor actually considered, for a very brief moment, asking Daisy to tell J.J. to steal it. Embarrassed that an elected official would think such a thing, the Mayor chastised himself and determined to find another way. He absolutely would not pay $500.00.
That’s what got Daisy’s attention on Easter morning. Sammy had suggested that the Mayor just declare the Stop sign as a memorial honoring the departure of “that idiot professor.” Daisy had communicated the idea, without the name calling, and the Mayor thought “can we just tell everybody to ignore it?” He was worried about some legal case against him for actually encouraging people to violate the law. But it was just a stop sign and the only person who actually cared was “that idiot professor who left town.” Mayor Harrison remembered the days when folks just did what was civil and what seemed right and decent without worrying about getting sued. He decided now was a good time to go back to those times. Just ignore the dumb sign and be polite when you drive. Official Croweville By Law.
When Preacher Norton said “Stop!” Daisy remembered that the Mayor needed to make a formal declaration to the council, Police Department, and citizens of Croweville to ignore the Stop sign at Virginia and 2nd. She knew she would forget so she dug in her purse for a pen and piece of paper. Now when Preacher Norton hit that solemn note and saw one of his flock reach for a pen, it warmed his heart. “Imagine. Someone is taking notes at my sermon.” Someone taking notes was akin to a genuine moving of the Spirit. That, couple with the fact that both deacons were still awake convinced the Preacher that his acronym for Easter Sunday would go down as one of his finest sermons ever. If he could see that Daisy simply wrote “tell the Mayor about the Stop sign,” he wouldn’t have been nearly as encouraged. Sometimes what we don’t know can’t hurt us.
That’s it from Croweville where the mischief hangs in the air like the lovely aroma of a gardenia blossom in spring. Thanks for reading! Peace out.