Wood Working: Cheap, effective: All we need are more Davey DollsI want you to know I’ve been spending a godly amount of time doing intensive and highly scientific research to help make River Falls a safer town.
By: Dave Wood, columnist, River Falls Journal
I want you to know I’ve been spending a godly amount of time doing intensive and highly scientific research to help make River Falls a safer town.
I’ve been doing that by sitting on my screened porch every evening for an hour.
Now I’m ready to make a proposal, but first I must give you the background that led me to my investigation.
As I’ve mentioned before on these pages, I was hired years ago by the Minneapolis Tribune to act as a writing coach for its reporters.
The idea was that as a literature teacher I might be able to help these folks who were brought up on the who, where, when, what and why school of thought fancy up their writing, give it more texture, more telling detail.
As you might expect, this went over in the Tribune newsroom like the proverbial lead balloon.
Seasoned reporters, most of them better writers than I could hope to be, refused to say hello.
I was seated at a desk in the middle of the second floor newsroom and available for advice eight hours a day. Cub reporters would walk up to the third floor and come down another flight of steps to avoid walking past my desk.
The only writers who regularly dropped by were the really talented writers who didn’t need any advice from me.
That led to an episode on “Lou Grant,” in which Lou appointed a writing coach, whereby the reporters started a lottery based on predictions of which reporter would be the first to attempt murdering the benighted coach.
So I sat there for a year.
When it was all over and I was preparing to return to the classroom, Charles W. Bailey II, the fellow who hired me, dropped by and said, “despite all the complaining, I think the writing has improved since your arrival.”
“But Chuck, I didn’t give much advice….”
“Maybe your presence in the room,” he surmised, “was enough to keep them reminded that the writing is as important as the subject matter. Maybe we should just put a blow-up doll behind this desk and pretend it’s you. That would be lots cheaper than hiring you again.”
A Davey Doll. Isn’t that cute?
Which brings me to my present-day suggestion for making River Falls a safer place than it is today.
Since the infamous roundabout construction was initiated, Walnut Street has become a major thoroughfare. Cars stream by, day and night.
When traffic was lighter Walnut Street was a virtual speedway — students fleeing at class break, making like Barney Oldfield or Sterling Moss.
They came squealing around the corner at Sixth Street, hitting Walnut at 50 mph, twice the speed limit.
Our neighborhood asked for a squad car or two at every hour break, but was told the police force was already stretched too thin.
But since construction began on East Cascade, drivers cruise down Walnut Street rather meekly, some moving well below the 25 mph speed limit.
How do I know this?
Well, by sitting on my porch and watching the newly installed little trailer that warns people of how fast they are going.
Drivers see the numbers flashing at them as they enter Walnut and immediately slow down to 22, 23, 23 mph, and they don’t speed up once they pass the trailer.
Last night I sat for an hour with two Leinie’s Originals and saw only two violations on the trailer. A noisy motorcycle — shouldn’t we have noise ordinance? — and a big Jeep-style SUV.
I want to emphasize that there were no policeman on the street during my watch. Just that little trailer, flashing numbers, reminding people to slow down. Sort of like Charles Bailey’s inflatable “Davey Doll.”
So here’s my suggestion, which I have devised with no grants from the Ford Foundation or from the St. Croix Valley Advancement Commission or anyone: Buy a whole bunch of those trailers and spot them all over town and slow us all down.
Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 715-426-9554.