OSO -- Ron Thompson shows no signs of stopping. It’s not a full time job, but he’s hard at work. And his days are full.
“I sit out here for hours at a time, just enjoying myself, just doing something for somebody and make somebody get a little smile out of it. And when I get done, on the other side I put 3-22-14 on every sign I make. And that’s the day of the slide,” says Ron.
March 22, 2014 is forever etched in his mind. Ron and his wife Gail weren’t home when the wall of mud came crashing down; killing so many of their neighbors and friends.
“You know your neighbors and you knew them by name,” says Ron.
He remembers them still. This is how.
“It is time consuming and I need to have something to keep my mind going,” says Ron.
He's known as 'The Sign Man.' And in his wood shop, grains of truth are proudly displayed.
You can find them all around town.
“One thing led to another and everybody seemed to like them so i just keep making them”, says Ron.
He also creates steel hearts dedicated to Steelhead Drive.
Ron and Gail come back to visit the site often. And together, they keep the memories alive.
“We go visit up there at the slide with the pictures, but we don’t stay there. It was hard at first. Not saying it’s any easier, but we know when to leave,” says Ron.
Each sign is a chance for Ron to begin again.
“I think we have to be open to signs, to be able to recognize them. Somebody once told me ‘you’re turning into an artist’ and I go ‘no.' I said artists get kind of opinionated and they drink too much and they get ornery sometimes. I go oh my gosh I’m an artist!’ So I just do light-hearted everything I do, I try to incorporate laughter, a little fun. Because I have to. When you lose your whole neighborhood, we’re just like family, how do you get over that?” says Ron.
You never get over it.
And maybe that’s why we need signs, to help us find our way through it.
“I got a lot of hope signs here. It’s hard to go anywhere if you haven’t got hope,” says Ron.