During our recent trip to Philadelphia and New Jersey, I encountered this street sign (Ellen Lane) in my childhood neighborhood while my husband, James, and I were taking a walk. Growing up in the area, I always thought it was cool that there was a street with my name on it. I commented to him that I’d like to get a photo of the sign for my blog.
Later, we returned to the street sign and my very dutiful husband got out and took photos of the sign while I waited in the van. He returned and showed me the pictures, which I could see were all vertical. I had wanted one that was horizontal. “Do you mind taking one that is horizontal?” I asked him. He sighed, returned to the sign and snapped a few more photos.
During this time, however, an SUV pulled up and a man yelled, “What do you think you’re doing there?”
James replied nervously, “Uh…I’m taking a picture of the street sign.”
The man, who we could tell was a police officer in an unmarked car, asked sharply, “Why?”
My husband, now embarrassed, continued. “Well, you know, my wife’s name is Ellen and she wanted me to take a picture of the sign.”
The officer wore a pinched expression. Looking down at our Ontario license plate, he asked, “You came all the way from Canada to take a photo of that sign?”
James hadn’t wanted to go back and take more photos, but he did, because I asked him to. He offered the policeman a sheepish grin. “Well, no,” he answered, “my wife grew up in this area; we’re just visiting.”
An interrogation regarding the names of the people we were visiting ensued, with my husband giving last names of my siblings until the officer finally seemed to recognize one and his expression softened. He smiled and said, “Doesn’t it snow a lot in Canada?”
From there, it was all friendly conversation and I’m sure the officer was probably just looking out for his neighbors. Still, it was a bit scary.
And my husband, who has always been a law-abiding citizen, wasn’t impressed with his “brush with the law.”
But…I did get a cool photo of a street sign with my name on it.
Photo and text copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach