Signs Of Life

Don’t be thinking all stop signs are octagonal and red because they aren’t.

Michigan, a state with higher-than-usual Interstate speed limits, has a network of highways without a single red octagonal stop sign, allowing a lead-foot traveler to quickly arrive at time-warp lakeside towns where signs to halt come in myriad shapes and colors.

The general store at one such forgotten shoreline village has stopper signage in the window: “We sell gasoline,” while a gas station in the next hamlet, 4 miles via a two-lane paralleling Lake Michigan dunes, still offers full service and has a sandwich-style stop sign propped by the pumps: “Kerosene sold here.”

Other towns have other stoppers—tourist court cabins, soft serve ice cream drive-ups, drive-in movies (in season), and roadside stands hawking homegrown fruit.

A worldly traveler on tour is visually bludgeoned by gas stations; few city folk have need of kerosene, tourist cabins shelter clandestine trysts…all signs of lost civilizations giving but brief pause to the fated round trip return to Starbucks, tall buildings, toll booths, sidewalks and octagonal stop signs.

—Gene McCormick, Wayne, IL