Intrigued by a Roadside Shrine



On the side of El Toro Road where the weedy tree branches and tall grasses grow and the narrow lanes should really not lead to a stoplight at the freeway’s entrance but continue into some wild plain, there used to be a short white cross with the name Duff carved into it. This weather-beaten cross was always surrounded by small American flags and Christmas tree ornaments tied on with tattered ribbons, sometimes a bouquet of fresh flowers from the supermarket, usually one or two plastic roses, and at times assorted candy wrappers. The little monument always saddened me since it stood to memorialize the life of Duff, who never again would see the weedy tree branches or tall grasses and feel the breeze.

I wondered who Duff was, or who loved him so that this cross was tended to. Was Duff someone’s beloved son, or husband or friend? Who would venture onto this seemingly quiet road to place flowers on the cross while at any moment a car might come speeding by and possibly damage or end another’s life?

Who was Duff, and the person or persons who loved him or her? The little white cross is no longer on the side of the road, bearing witness to another life lost. Who removed this touching memorial?

How many loved ones must we loose to this car-culture society? As our City Council ponders upon who shall design our village and its canyon, its public spaces and its parking structures, problems of transportation and congestion, I like to fantasize about someone named Duff, and imagine what his life might have been like before the little cross was carved with his name on it.

Jahn Levitt, Laguna Beach

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