People have always named places, haven’t they? I know in the Bible, there are many instances of naming places such as Jacob’s Well or the Mount of Olives, based upon some historical or geographical feature. In our state Little Rock, is an example, as is Prairie Grove, Lone Oak and Junction City. Bald Knob, Caddo Gap and Pike’s Peak are other examples that come to mind. De Queen, of course, is an exception, the town having been named for a Dutchman whose name was simplified to “De Queen” so locals could pronounce it, sort of.
In the old days before we started paving streets and numbering houses down here in the glorious Southland, people would tell you how to get to someone’s domicile by saying something like, “You know where that twisted Catawba tree is down past the courthouse? Well turn right up that lane and go to the house with all that English ivy climbing up the porch. That’s where they live. Southerners still give directions similar to that: “Go down yonder to Derwood’s chicken houses and take the first right and go up the hill to them rocks and turn on that driveway back over that way.”
Here in Washington, Arkansas, where we make our home, most houses have distinctive signs in front of them. The signage of Historic Washington State Park is of one consistent style, white framed in white with black lettering. The Pioneer Washington Foundation houses have a different kind of sign out front: white signs with black frames and black lettering. Other buildings, churches and some private homes have their own unique signs distinct from the Park and the Foundation. The Old Washing Jail Bed and Breakfast behind us, for example, sports a large sign with unique lettering that could not be confused with other signs. The old Methodist Church next door to us has its own unique signage as well.
The previous owner of our house had a sign post and a large distinctive sign up when we bought the place. So, since we already had the post and hanger up, we pondered what kind of sign we should display, if any. We certainly did not want tourists to mistake our place for one of the Park houses open for tours. So, we finally came up with this:
A gray sign and frame (same hue of gray as our home) with white lettering: The Ford Home “Jubilee” c. 1918, with red molding around the inside of the frame. It should set our house apart from the other kinds of houses in our town. This whole city is on the National Register of Historic Places, and private citizens are sprinkled all around throughout the village.
Now, if it ever comes to the point of our not wanting people to know where we live, I’ll simply take the sign down. That will do it, right? Then we will be hard to find, right? Next to the Methodist Church, across from the 1874 Courthouse, next door to the Pioneer Washington Foundation and in front of the Jail. Even as conspicuous as it is, though, this still feels like a private place.