Here are 3 that Meade stopped the car for me to take. I love roadside signs and have missed so many over the years as I've thought of stopping but barreled past anyway. But I've gotten better at seeing how important these opportunities are — much more important than big landmarks like the Delicate Arch, which are pointed out for you and photographed so often. These roadside sights are something you find for yourself. The idea that this can be a photograph is your idea. And Meade has been a great companion, who not only does nearly all the driving and drives with professional care but who turns my idea that this could be a photograph into an actual stop and who also often has the idea that this is a photograph.
Here's something we stopped for in Orderville, Utah:
I love how generic and inclusive that big sign is. And I'm fascinated by the wacky jumble of points on the red shape. Is it Googie? Anyway, I love the contrast between the complicated, exciting red structure and the simple, bland words. But it wasn't that sign that caused the stop. It was that little yellow sign. "Buffalo Elk Gator Jerky":
It was Meade who spotted that sign and insisted that we stop and I take a picture of it. It's only as I process the photo now that I see that the requisite potshots have been taken at it. I pause to Google why do people shoot at signs? and find "The Dangers and Costs of Sign Shooting" at Outdoorhub. I'm shooting the sign myself, of course, but I don't leave my impression in Orderville. I put it here on the blog.
Now, I wasn't even sure this picture was from Utah, and I don't know if I ever knew we passed through a place named Orderville. I know it's Orderville because I swiveled around and took a shot at "Food & Drug" and saw that it did have a less than completely generic name: Terry's.
I found a Yelp review — one review, 5 stars — for Terry's Food & Drug — "Small town service for a small town" — and that's where I see this is Orderville.
Orderville. We didn't explore. We only stopped for some signs that charmed us, transitorily. I muse about the motives to name a town Orderville. I think of law and order. But that's the kind of thinking of a person who blows through town and takes in the surfaces. Gator jerky! A Sinclair sign! Numbers painted on the rocks! But Orderville is something else:
Orderville was established at the direction of LDS Church president Brigham Young in 1875 specifically to live United Order, a voluntary form of communalism defined by Joseph Smith. Orderville was settled primarily by destitute refugees from failed settlements on the Muddy River in Nevada....I'm still blowing right through. That's just a Wikipedia entry. Forgive me for being so cavalier. Give me a sign.
Under the United Order, no person in Orderville could have private property, as it was all considered to be God's land. Each person was made a steward over some personal effects, and every family a steward over a home. During the first two years, the settlers worked without receiving income. They were allowed to use supplies and take food as needed. The bishop of Orderville oversaw the distribution of goods. Credit[s] were recorded for all work done by men, women, and children and used to obtain needed materials and keep track of the labor done in the settlement. In 1877, the Order began a price system to replace the credit system, and monetary values were assigned to all labor and goods. At the beginning of each year, debts were forgiven, and those who had earned a surplus voluntarily gave it back to the Order....
The Order continued in Orderville for approximately 10 years.... The youth of Orderville envied the youth in other communities, creating a friction within the community.... In 1885, the enforcement of the Edmunds Anti-Polygamy Act of 1882 effectively ended the Order by jailing many of the Order's leaders and driving many of the others underground....
IN THE COMMENTS: Lance links to this story about pants by James D. Gordon III:
Leonard Arrington's book, Great Basin Kingdom, tells a story about Orderville, Utah, where in the 1870s the Saints lived the law of consecration. It was not easy to live in Orderville. The town was founded in an atmosphere of poverty. By contrast, not far away, at Silver Reef, the coming of the railroad permitted the development of the silver mines. People in surrounding towns suddenly were able to buy imported clothing and other commodities. The Orderville Saints came to be viewed as "old fashioned." Their floppy straw hats and gray jeans became objects of ridicule. Orderville teenagers began to envy their peers in neighboring towns.ADDED: Now that I've put this post up, I see the obvious value of the square format. It maximizes the size of the picture you can put up on a web page that has horizontal but not vertical limitations. Since most 4:3 aspect photos are shot horizontally, the 500-pixel width imposes a 375-pixel height. The square claims 125 previously unobtainable pixels of vertical space.
One of those teenagers was the father of my wife's great aunt. He was growing quickly, as teenagers do, and his pants became too short. But there were no holes in them, and so his application for a new pair was denied. However, there was a large crop of lambs that spring. When the lambs' tails were docked, he sheared the wool off the tails. When he took a load of wool to Nephi, he quietly traded the lamb's tail wool for a brand new pair of store-bought gentile pants. When he returned, he wore the new pants to the next dance. "His entrance caused a sensation."According to the story, one young woman rushed up to him and kissed him. The president of the Order asked for an explanation, and the young man told the truth. The president said, "According to your own story these pants belong to the Order. You are requested to appear before the Board of Management tomorrow evening at half-past eight, and to bring the store pants with you."
At the meeting, the Board commended the young man for his enterprise, but reminded him that all pants must be made from the same cloth. But to prove its good will, the Board agreed to unseam the store pants and use them as a pattern for all pants made in the future. They told the young man that he would receive the first pair.
The tailoring department was soon overwhelmed with orders for the new pants. It was noticed that the boys' old pants were getting thin, and even holes developed, on the seat of the pants. This was a puzzle. The boys were frequently on their knees when praying or weeding the garden, but they didn't spend much time sitting down. Why were these holes developing? Then the elders saw groups of boys going to the shed where the grindstone was located. They investigated. The boys were wearing out the seat of their pants on the grindstone. The elders protested and then gave in. They sent a load of wool to Washington Mills to trade for cloth, and the tailor shop became a busy place. Thus ended the great pants rebellion of Orderville.
BONUS: The origin of the sign.