Monday, February 27, 2012

A Funny Story About That Sign

When I was four years old we moved from Western Maryland to Ohio. Dad had a wonderful new executive position in a plastics plant... and if you remember the movie, "The Graduate", everyone was talking about "plastic".

We visited my Mom and Dad's families, both from Frostburg MD, regularly. It wasn't a long drive, so we'd pack up the car, later the station wagon, and make the trip. I always loved the ride, and mostly it was along the Ohio and then Pennsylvania Turnpikes. Early on the big road ended or hadn't begun yet, and that was OK with me as I loved the smaller roads that made their way through all manner of villages and towns.

Our family life in Ohio was suburban and the streets went on and on until they hit downtown Cleveland. By contrast, little Frostburg seemed a microcosm of life where stores were just across the way and everyone knew everyone... and probably was related somehow or other.

There were things that puzzled me about life in Frostburg. You could say to the man at the little store, "put it on my bill" and he would! You couldn't do that in suburban Cleveland.

In Maple Heights we lived at "fifteen one one one" Maple Heights Blvd. In Forstburg the house numbers of the people we saw were mostly single or double didgets. Three numbers indicated that your relative lived on a long street, like Bowery. Main Street was so long it had an east and west side.

There were signs that puzzled me and one said simply and profoundly: Beware of Sinks. We passed those signs in and around Ocean Mines MD for a while before I spoke up and asked outright what they meant, interrupting adult conversation. I saw no sinks anywhere on the landscape, of either the bathroom or kitchen variety!

To elaborate on the answer, here's what Aunt Betty wrote recently in answer to a question about my GGF Daniel Williams that reminded me of my puzzlement at the sink sign.

Daniel worked for the Consolidation Coal Company as a foreman at mine #16 at Ocean, MD which is about a mile from where he lived.
In the 1940's, I remember hearing the digging and conversations of the miners in our kitchen at Ocean. They must have been working near the surface.  As a matter of fact, in the late 50"s about 9:00 p.m. one evening, we heard cracking of the walls and I thought the house was on fire. 
I ran outside to look at the house and nearly fell in a 50 foot cave-in of the road. The ground under the house was pulled toward the cave-in and the house fell 9 feet. None of the doors and
windows would close or open properly. What an experience. At that point it was decided that we should move. 
Signs were placed along the road for several miles which read "Beware of Sinks". The house used to be even with the road in front of the house and today it is about 10 to 12 feet lower than the road.
Daniel was elected as a trustee of Ocean School, District #18 on June 22, 1907. He was a member of the George's Creek Valley Lodge of Masons at Lonaconing MD.

Picture of the day from my archive:
Mom and Dad at a function for one of his executive postions, ca. early 1960s 

Me, Easter in front of our house at 15111, 1950-something.

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