I’ve driven by this sign several hundred times over the last few decades. I’ve stopped to make pictures of it a few times as have countless others undoubtedly. I made this picture one Sunday a few weeks ago with a new-to-me camera after a long, but productive day of looking and listening and turning around and going back.
When I got the film and scans back, I settled in on this picture and thought about the times I’d seen it in the early morning fog, the driving rain, and when it was nearly invisible, blanketed in snow. I knew there was a name and phone number on the sign, but never paid it much mind.
Looking at the picture again yesterday, I picked up the phone and called the number. A man’s voice sang hello on the other end. “Mr. Bell?” I asked. It was, he said. I told him who I was and that I was calling to ask about the sign on US 119. For the next 10 minutes, Mr. Ed Bell, who is “88 and a half” proceeded to tell me about himself, his sign ministry, and about how wonderful it was to receive a phone call out of the blue about one of his signs.
He reckons this particular sign was put up about 20 years ago. If you’ll notice on the far left, you’ll see the initials “H.S.” Mr. Bell told me he dedicated the sign to his good friend Harlena Shepherd, who gave him $25 to help make the sign all those years ago.
He told me I could call him anytime. He said he was going to pray for me as soon as we got off the phone. “You’ve made my day. Thank you, young man,” he said as we hung up. Thank you, Mr. Bell.