Mustang Sally

Do you remember when the back roads out in our county weren't named? I mean back when they didn't have official names? Some of you remember. Shoot, I remember.

For mail delivery they were Route One or Two or Three, but we usually called them something else. Often they were named for their length (the 13-Mile Road), their destination (the Moundridge Road), or by some physical or legendary characteristic (Watchorn Corner, Beneke's Curve, or Murder Bridge).

Funny how we all knew just where those strips of blacktop started, whose homes they passed, what turn-offs they encountered, and where they ended.

But as a transplant (and a city slicker to boot), I remember how tough it was early on to venture off into rural Marion County when I didn't know all the key geographical points that folks knew who had lived here for decades. Without knowing about Watchorn Corner, how would you ever find Burns? If you don't know about Potter's Corner, how do you know where to turn south and take "the back roads" to Wichita? And what is a "correction line" anyway?

Back then we called Nighthawk Road "The Canada Road." In fact, I would bet there are some old geezers drinking coffee every morning at the Food Mart Liar's Club who still call it "The Canada Road." The next road west had no name that I am aware of. When the state asked the county to begin the process of naming all the north-south roads and numbering all the east-west roads, the road immediately west of Nighthawk Road became Mustang Road.

Today you probably would not be able to find Mustang Road.

Want to know why? There are no road signs. None. Not anywhere in Marion County is Mustang Road identified. From the Butler/Marion County all the way north. Every sign has been stolen from every intersection.

Well, I am assuming they have been stolen. I doubt very much that they all just fell off their poles and dropped into the surrounding grass and weeds.

So who would be interested in rounding up all those Mustang signs and what did they do with them?

Well, I haven't been to a car club flea market in a number of years, but I bet Mustang signs would bring some good money in such an environment.

Do we have a school nearby with a Mustang mascot? Hmmm . . . I can't think of one. There are Broncos to the south at Remington High School. Broncos and mustangs both are wild horses, but I think that is a stretch. Bronco fans would want Bronco signs.

(Now before the Remington High School patrons and Ford Mustang restoration enthusiasts come unglued and think I am accusing them, let's all just take a deep breath. Thank you. Those were just two possibilities of who MIGHT have been inspired to take the signs. That doesn't mean I think that they did. Got it?)

But the signs are not cheap and they all need to be replaced. Several were replaced early on and then those replacements were stolen. Your tax dollars at work and mine as well.

So the choices are to buy new signs over and over again, rename the road at some expense to the county and state, or just leave it unmarked and hope that every emergency vehicle driver knows who lives where on Mustang without road signs to guide them.

Doesn't it just chap your hide when people can't leave well enough alone? What on earth makes somebody think those signs are there for their personal gratification, whatever that might be?

I suggest the county commissioners host a contest to rename the road. I think that would be the cheapest and the most expedient solution.

The name would have to begin with the letter M and I have a plethora of suggestions: Mafia, Mud, Maybe, More Mud, Maybe More Mud, Maximum, Muddy, Mundane, Merry, Merry Mud, Much Mud, Mostly Mud, Moxy, Mongo Mud, Marion Co. Mud, Major, Majestic, Major Majestic Mud, and so on.

I don't know a soul who would want to own a street sign bearing any of those names, do you? Zero theft value. We may have a winner here. We may have a way to name a road, install the signs, and have them stay in place.

Personally, I am extra fond of any country road designation that includes the word "mud." (Could you tell?) Way out here in the hinterlands I think that word means a lot.

And that is my advice this week to the county commissioners.