It’s a concept that captured my imagination when I was ten years old and my dad pointed out the imaginary line across the plains of western Kansas.   If you’re driving west on I-70, you see the sign saying you’re entering Sherman County ~ and Mountain Time Zone.   If you’re driving east on the same interstate, at that same point you are entering Thomas County ~ and Central Time Zone.

What if you lived on the east side of the line, I wondered, and you did something bad—or semi-bad, or anything you wish you hadn’t done—could you walk over the line to the west side, where it was an hour earlier, and “undo” what you’d done?   My parents both said that was an interesting idea, but life didn’t work that way. Card laid, card played; no do-overs by stepping into a different time zone.  Unless you’re Ray Bradbury…

The top picture of Bristol, “a good place to live,” is actually one town in two states, Virginia and Tennessee. With thanks to the Geico Insurance commercial, we even have a picture of the marker embedded in the middle of the main street; one side of the street is VA, and the other is TN.   Hmm…can laws, codes and rules change with one step?

Oh, oh.  What if it's hunting season on the other side of the road?

Oh, oh. What if it’s hunting season on the other side of the road?

October is AWARENESS MONTH, which shines a light on diseases and world health concerns.   It also can include the awareness of general knowledge and self-awareness, knowing when something exists, has changed, has several meanings or applications, or needs more study.

In Kansas, Virginia, Tennessee, and life in general–both literally and figuratively speaking–it’s always wise to be aware of the facts before we put one foot over any line.






Filed under autumn lessons, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, lessons for great-grandchildren, life questions, October glory, politics

41 responses to “ONE FOOT OVER THE LINE

  1. Marylin, your post ties in perfectly with October awareness. It would be neat to step over from one State to another, but not a great idea to step over the wrong kind of line. The Gecko photo made me smile too. Thanks for providing food for thought. ❤️

    • Hi, Tracy. It’s funny how little tidbits like county lines and changing time zones can affect us as children and nag at story possibilities for years! But I had a friend in college whose grandmother had requested that when she died (in Sherman County) she wanted the ambulance (or coroner) to drive her over the line to Thomas County so it would seem she’d lived an hour longer. 😉

  2. We have a few towns like that in Canada too, half in one province, half in another. What a cute thought you had as a youngster. It was the sort of thing I would have wondered as well. Like, could you celebrate your birthday twice by going to the other side?

    • I really like your response better, Darlene. Celebrating a birthday twice by going across the line really would appeal to a child! But as adults maybe not so much, especially if you went the wrong way and added “another” year! 😉

  3. I was just laughing at that Geico commercial this morning, Marylin. I loved the caption under the geese photo.

  4. Don

    I loved that thought and question of yours, Marylin. Loved the post.

  5. juliabarrett

    Great post. I too enjoy that commercial! Having lived much of my life in the Midwest, and driven all over, I was always fascinated by driving into another time zone. Everything looked exactly the same but we’d either gained or lost an hour of our lives.

    • One of my friends told her parents what I’d learned about the time zone and the counties changing in just one step, Julia, and her parents started laughing. When they eloped, they’d had to go over the time zone line to get married in the next county and then go back across their time zone line to get her home by her curfew! She said they told her parents they were married and though they were stunned at least they hadn’t called the sheriff, which is what they would have done if she’d missed curfew!
      I didn’t make sense to me, but my friend said it was true.
      So much for predictable responses. 🙂

  6. Nancy Parker Brummett

    Ha! Excellent advice. I’ve seen a lot about Bristol lately. University of Tenn. and Virginia Tech played a football game at the racetrack there this fall, setting an all-time record for attendance at a college football game! 🙂

  7. Interesting post–it’s always good to know about things. 🙂
    It must be so strange to live in a place that has two governments, time zones, etc.

    • I can’t even imagine, Merril. And what if farmers owned land that covered areas in both states? Or water rights that ran underground from one well to another in a different state? The possibilities are amazing. 😉

  8. When I finally visited Hoover Dam in 2013, I found the time (mountain, pacific) and state (Nevada, Arizona) differences right along the dam an interesting and unknown-to-me feature of the place. But my favorite state line limbo is found right in back of my sister’s house: they step onto a golf course, and a different state (NC/SC). Then there was the year our family visited Cumberland State Park in Kentucky and half of us were in eastern time zone in cabins, the other half in a campground there in the central time zone. Fun stuff, but not fun when you’re a family of around 28, trying to figure out where everyone is heading next, and when. 🙂

  9. Your post made me aware of our son Joel’s tendency to put his toes right on the line he was warned not to trespass over. He was little though. Since then he has become father to two rambunctious boys and a middle school art teacher, advising them to “walk the line.” Karma? Ha!

    • I don’t even know Joel, Marian, but I like him already! 🙂 And now he has two boys and teaches middle school art, a perfect combination for his personality that was already showing itself as a child. I love it! Karma is right!

  10. Molly Mosher

    Wonderful, thought provoking, and fun to read. What about the four corners – where you can actually be in four different states all at one time – especially if you can the some crazy yoga poses. Also, there has to be places, Mexicali (or Calexico) where you have a point where two different countries intersect. Oh mom, I can see the story plot building and building. 🙂

    • Wow, Mookie! You have more double-double places to weave into plots than anyone, with or without crazy yoga poses! Grandpa and Grandma got a kick out of my story possibility; they would be amazed at all of yours!
      Thanks, honey! ❤

  11. We tried a similar question when we straddled the equator in Kenya (and Quito) – were we suddenly upside down? Or half and half! I get very frustrated by wasted hours (shopping for example) and love the idea of getting an hour back by crossing a time zone. I did have 2 birthdays once as I hit my birthday on a flight. Quite fun.

    • Here I was, Andrew, so proud of my single question about undoing something by stepping into a different time zone, and you are expanding the question to include being upside down and having 2 birthdays on a flight. Now those are amazing! 😉

  12. Marylin, this is such an interesting topic. I have gone into different time zones and mostly thought of it in terms of sleep adjustment. I never knew that you could straddle two time zones at the same point. Fascinating! You have definitely increased my awareness today. 😉

    • Well, a ten-year-old who is bored while on a long trip will do what she can to entertain herself, Joanne. 😉 Now that I’m older (and more tired) the real question in crossing time zones is sleep adjustment.
      Trust me, Joanne; as fast as Penelope is growing and changing, it’s going to feel like she’s skipping over time zones! It seems like last month my grandchildren were born, and now they’re 12 and 13. Seems impossible.

  13. What a creative ten year old you must have been!

    • Actually, Sarah, when we reached that time zone change, we’d already been driving 7 hours and still had another four to go. I was a bored ten-year-old whose smart mother had given me a Big Chief tablet to write down stories, and this one kept me busy–and happily occupied–for awhile. 😉

  14. Well, I’ve stood on the Greenwich Meridian…so does that mean I experienced timelessness? I wonder what happens if you walk for hours along it?

    • OooOoo, Jenny. Timelessness. If that really happens, we could stand on the Greenwich Meridian (or sit with our food and drinks) laugh and have a good time, knowing we weren’t getting any older. Of course, to be a good story there would have to be a consequence–staying young is never easy 😉 –but think of the possibilities!

  15. Jane Sturgeon

    Ohh foresight over hindsight….now there’s a thought. What stories abound in the notion of ‘If you could turn back time, what would you do-over?’ Or…what stories you could write around the hidden hour of no consequence…I love how you spark these ideas.. ❤ xXx and more ❤

  16. Jim

    Oh, Mor Mor, here you go again, tinkering with our comfortable mindset! This time it’s boundaries and time warps. Here’s one that has toyed with my mind ever since I was a little boy. I always figured there couldn’t be a boundary to the universe because on the other side of the “line” there would be nothingness, and nothingness is somethingness. It oughta be called the always-everywhere-verse. Oops! That’s too close to Thomas Aquinas’ notion of the First Cause. 🙂 Theoretical physicists still have trouble juxtaposing the physicality of our universe with the notion of infinite time and space. They wanna see a universe that folds back on itself or exists in parallel dimensions, giving the appearance of infinity. A few weeks ago there was a report that the Hubble telescope has discovered two billion more galaxies than we ever knew before. That’s “b” not “m”, and each galaxy has millions of suns each. OK, so what’s beyond the furthermost newly discovered galaxy??? Surely all we need is an even stronger telescope or perhaps a marvelous new laser probe to uncover the boundary of our existence, once and for all! As if. ❤

    • And I still can’t cross the line between Sherman and Thomas counties in western Kansas without wondering how you could change time by stepping back and forth, but you know about two billion more galaxies out there in space! We’re such a pair, honey! I love you. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

  17. Hi Marylin, I can see why this idea caught your imagination – we have borders here of course, but not different time zones, though I suppose when we put our clocks back or forward and hour for British Summer Time, you could wonder what could happen in the missing hour!

    • So you change your clocks for British Summer Time, Andrea, but not the different time zones? That makes more sense to me. Plus, we have some states that don’t participate in Daylight Savings Time, while within other states there’s a time devision. In the next town it could be 6:00, but in your town it’s 5:00, and that’s in addition to time zones. Now, to me, that’s VERY confusing and seems unnecessary! 😉

      • Yes Marylin, we just put them forward an hour in spring and back an hour in autumn, but there aren’t any different time zones around the country – it does sound very confusing!

      • Your system sounds easier and more logical that ours, Andrea. I still don’t know which states do/do not adhere to daylight savings. I guess it’s just one of those surprises you find out along the way.

  18. Talk about ‘crossing the line’! Bristol is only an hour away from where we live Marylin…the one in Somerset, England that is! But so far as I know, the time zone is the same 😉 Interestingly, Bristol is also known for its cutting edge hospitals for research and treatment, hence tying in perfectly for October Awareness Month. So despite the thousand miles of between us my friend, we are very close indeed…so you should be feeling my big hug right about now… 🙂 ❤

  19. I do feel your big hug, Sherri, and I love your example of how we are “indeed very close.” And I’m sending you a big hug in reply! ❤ ❤ ❤

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