December 25, 2000
Friend of Man
Conjunction of the holiday season, a Christmas card and the heavy snow in Ohio -- where I published a string of hometown newspapers for many years -- brings Ollie Saffle to mind.
Good weather and bad, the old gentleman sat on a stool alongside the Seville Highway to Wooster to wave at passing motorists.
Ollie Saffle probably was not his true name, but his friendly post was near a large, red barn with those words writ large for the world to see. It was such a wonderful identification that I borrowed it for the roadside character that invariably waved at me and other travelers.
In retrospect, I am sorry I never stopped to pass the time of day with Ollie Saffle. I was always 15 minutes late to where ever I was going.
He wore old-fashion bib overalls and straw hat on warm days. He changed to overcoat, mittens, boots and wool cap when cold weather arrived. He marked his special spot with a little cairn of stones. Some of us regulars honked back to acknowledge his greeting to a stranger.
My memory takes be back to a day before Christmas when I had what then seemed like urgent business at the county seat. Several inches of snow had fallen the night before, and the Wayne County road department had cleared the highway.
There was the Ollie Saffle namesake on his stool. Instead of his usual, nondescript wool cap, he wore a red, Santa Claus cap with white trim. A broken pine branch graced the roadside snow bank thrown up by the county road plow. As usual, he waved. As usual, I honked - this time with a double toot of appreciation.
It was a small gesture that never again came to mind until now. As I review the small memory, the thought triggers a favorite poem. I pass it along as a token of the holiday.
Author: Lindsey Williams
Cutline - two or three column to match width of poem, mailbox
bgital Illustration provided by Gerry and Betty endital
NOTE - AT TOP OF COLUMN -- NO CUTLINE NEEDED