August 19, 2004
Tifton-- Some people express themselves by writing a letter to a newspaper, by having a web site or perhaps by putting a bumper sticker on their car. A Tifton couple found a way to express themselves simply, and they try to change their world one letter at a time.
"Seems like this day and age you read and hear so much negative and so much trouble in the world," says Dennis Sheppard who came up with the idea.
Dennis and his wife Cindy, can't stop a war, can't feed all the hungry people either, but maybe they can change someone's day. "If we can get someone to ride by and they enjoy what we got to say or makes them smile, then it's done its job," says Dennis, as he removes letters from an old saying that he will replace.
The sign's original purpose was something else. "Draw an interest to the car wash," says Dennis. And, it did. People saw, read, remembered and commented to them. "Quite often," says Dennis who comes up with the sayings.
Cindy organizes the letters. "We're going to adjust a little bit," says Dennis when he realizes the new saying will take up too many lines. He wants it easy to read. They have three sign boards with a never ending creative challenge. "We got about six sayings we come up with about weekly," says Dennis, who works full-time with a utility company.
Three hundred seventeen sayings a year. "Sometimes it's tough," says Dennis, but he searches the Internet, reads books and creates many of the sayings.
The Sheppards like to change their signs every week to make sure they are current, and sometimes they tell us something that we don't want to admit. One read:" The gas war is over. Gas won."
Another saying found in the Reading Capital of the World on a hot summer day: "Reading while sunbathing makes you well red."
One saying offered advice: "It's hot enough- Don't sweat the small stuff."
But the hard part isn't coming up with those sayings that must appeal to many people, but making sure every word is spelled correctly. "I've even had to call my daughter and ask her how to spell a word at ten o'clock at night before," says Cindy Sheppard, as she re-files the plastic letters.
They never leave home without a dictionary, now. "We like to get a laugh, but not from our spelling," says Dennis.
A pair of sayings generated a lot of comments. "If you can read this sign, thank a teacher. If you enjoy your freedom, thank a veteran." Cindy and Dennis Sheppard do something many people talk about.
"I enjoy making a difference and being able to share my thoughts and opinions," says Dennis after they finish updating one sign board. Maybe it's a sign of better things to come. The Sheppard's have car washes in Sylvester and Tifton.
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