Mason County News
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"On Your Left Is A Tree....."
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 • Posted February 23, 2011

Don't ask Mason people for directions. It's not that they won't give them,,,, they do, and willingly. It just takes so long to get them that it's sometimes easier to just begin the journey and let it take you where it may.

I was talking to some folks last week and they asked who lived in a particular home. I found myself not only explaining who currently lived in the house; but, I also gave a brief narrative of the last three families that had lived there, who the neighbors were, and how the renovations a dozen years ago had changed the entire appearance of the house. The people I was giving the information to had been gone for a good ten minutes before I finished my recounting.

I'm not alone in this inclination to give historical directions in Mason. Most of us don't even really know most street names, we just know the landmarks. So, instead of saying, "Turn left off Avenue F on to Lincoln," we are more inclined to say, "Turn left at Sharon Swafford's house." All good and well if you know who Sharon is, and where she lives.

In town, directions can encompass the litany of everyone on the street, who once lived on that street, and rumors one may have heard about happenings in the neighborhood. Thus you end up with: "Turn left at Boone and Betty Kemp's off of College Street. When you get to Patsy Ziriax's on the right, Tom and Frances Kent on the left, go one more house on the right to Kenneth and Carolyn Loeffler's. Across the street is the first house that Randy and Connie lived in after they got marriage. Both of the kids were born while they lived there. Oh yeah, the street is Wheeler."

Getting to Joel and Julia Gonzales' house is fairly simple when it comes to the directions.... Go up on top of Post Hill to Fort Mason. Face town. Go right to the first stop sign. Ray and Stephanie's is on your right, Joel and Julia are across the street. It's the old Hey home, and the view from the front porch is great. Of course, when a norther blows in, you'll want to take cover because the wind really blows up there on top of the hill.

Directions out in the country can get even more convoluted.

To get to my house, head out 87 toward Brady for about 12 miles. At Camp Air, turn right and go two miles. You'll turn left at the old Katemcy store. It hasn't been open in years and is starting to fall in on itself. I remember when lightening hit the front of the store years ago and caused a brief, but, dramatic, fire. Head down the dirt road past Steve and Merlina's, go past Uncle Bo's old house and cross over Katemcy Creek. That's a new bridge, and it's a lot better than the old one. At the top of the hill at the mailboxes, turn left. If you cross Dry Prong, you've gone too far.

I could have done the same directions with: Highway 87 North for 12 miles. Turn right on Ranch Road 1222 and go for two miles. Turn left on Katemcy Road and travel 0.9 miles, then turn left at the top of the hill.

Being succinct has its moments. If you're call 911 and want the fire trucks to arrive quickly, it's best to be as specific and clear as you can. But, if you're trying to convey to someone that a journey in Mason isn't just roads and miles, our fashion for giving directions is much more appealing. Our directions convey family relationships, long term friendships and the passage of time.

Depending upon whom you ask for directions, the details can vary. Age and length of residence in the area usually mean that you'll get more information. Additionally, the directions are tied to personal experiences and relationships, so every time you get a new set of instructions, everything can change.

I remember more than a dozen years ago being in Berlin, New Hampshire, and asking for directions to particular restaurant. In typical New England fashion, the reply was, "You can't get there from here!"

In Mason, the reply would more likely be, "You can get to anywhere you want to go from here; but, why would you want to leave?"

It’s all just my opinion.

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