Directions are easy – if you know where you are going


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By Lori Clinch

One of the best things about having an antique shop is going out and buying the antiques. You just never know what treasures you will find when someone invites you to their home or barns.

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One thing I have learned is that there are a lot of wonderful people in this world.  Just this month we met Adeline, a 90-year-old farm wife who easily manages her place, and all of its work, in her small 100-pound frame.

Then there was Nora, who had such a sweet spirit about her that I loved her the second I met her.

Yet, one thing is for sure, it’s not always easy to navigate country roads. GPS is wonderful when it works, but when you are in the middle of nowhere your devices are as worthless as a brick.

Last week, when we needed to get from Podunk to the Boonies, we had to thank our lucky stars that farmer John was around. You wouldn’t think a farm that is eight miles from the nearest little town would be a regular stopping point for directions, but it is and thankfully John is good at guiding folks who have lost their way.

“In fact,” John told us, “some guy stopped by last month to get directions to Chicago.”

John directed him back to the nearest highway, told him to go 700 miles west and then stop and ask somebody.

Yes sir, John is darn near better than a GPS, especially when there is no cell service.

When we asked John how to get to the old O’Conto place, his directions were quite unique.

“What you’re going to want to do,” he started out, “is turn left here, go north to the first road and then head east for a spell.”

When we asked him what a spell was, he just smiled and continued.

“You’ll come upon a stop sign right where there used to be a river.”

“Is there any indication that said river was ever there?” I inquired.

We got that beautiful smile again, complete with a twinkle in the eye, but he didn’t answer and simply continued.

“From there you’re going to go up a big hill and this is important because this is the only spot where your cell phone is going to work in case you want to call in the National Guard.”

“Are you messing with us, John?”

No answer, just the smile and the twinkle in the eye.

“You’re going to turn left at the main road and you’ll know it when you see the skinny house.”

“Does the house belong to skinny people,” I asked, “or is the house itself skinny?”

This time he chuckled a bit before he gave us the smile and the twinkle and pressed on.

“You’ll go north for a bit and if you come across the Blatz place, you’ll know you’ve gone to far.”

“Is there a sign indicating the place belongs to the Blatzes?”

“No, but if you call out ‘Blatz,’ they’ll answer.”

You should know that although I tend to elaborate from time to time, I am making none of this up. In fact, I am going directly off the notes I was taking at the time.

John then went on to tell us, “You should know where to turn because you’ll be near the Elmer Church, that’s not there anymore.”

I thought about asking if there was a sign that said, “This is where the Elmer Church used to be,” but decided it might have gone the same way the river had.

“Go a small stretch further and that’s the O’Conto place.”

He then took a look at my husband and I and said with concern, that I wasn’t sure was genuine, “Call me when you get there because I’ll be worried sick about you two.” Then, being all neighborly and such, he asked, “Now, do you want to know how to get to anywhere else?”

“How about Canada?” I asked.

“Oh,” John said, “that’s easy. You just want to go 400 miles north of the skinny house and then stop and ask somebody.”

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to

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