Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Outside the City, Turn Right at the Sawmill

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Outside the City, Turn Right at the Sawmill

Article excerpt

LIKE millions of rural Americans, I live on Route 1. The mailman can find me according to my box number, but visitors may have a harder time tracking me down.

To distinguish our home I thought about giving it a name. Growing up in St. Louis I was always impressed with those Ladue estates with elegant names that conjured up French chateaux, English castles or Italian villas.

Even in rural Missouri the name of a place can stir up images of a sprawling Ponderosa or a perfect little cottage: consider Hickory Heath or Our Country Place, Twin Farms or Deer Hollow Ranch. With an enchanting name it really doesn't matter if at the end of the driveway there's a restored stone farmhouse straight out of Country Living or a battered mobile home. While searching for the proper name for casa Droog, I could picture the charming rustic sign my husband would make. A sign, I felt, would not only class up our home's otherwise undistinguished entry, but also provide a landmark, as in, "Take a right at the rooster." But ultimately I decided against a name and a sign. I couldn't think of the perfect name, and anyway I figured it's probably not worth it to attract too much attention. (In an unscientific survey I noticed the fanciest mailboxes have the most gunshot holes.) However, I still have to give people directions. In St. Louis I'd use actual street names and highway numbers even though they'd be outdated. I mean, I'd say "Highway 40" instead of Interstate 64 and "the Innerbelt" for I-170. But come to think of it, giving directions out in the country isn't all that different. Some of the landmarks and references we use are also out of the past. "In the city you say turn at the first road past the gas station or the Wal-Mart. In the country we say turn at the old sawmill or the cemetery, or find the tavern, go inside and ask the barmaid where you're at," says Steve the concrete worker and rural sage. …

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