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January 21, 2004

A Passing

W.C. Rice, creator / maintainer / resident kook, of the Prattville, Alabama cross garden has died.

Rice was known around Prattville as the proprietor of the cross garden, an enormous collection of handmade crosses dotting the landscape around the Rices' small home. Sprinkled among the crosses are other signs, painted on boards, refrigerators, washing machines -- whatever was available when inspiration struck.

The signs do not sugarcoat the message Rice felt he was being led to spread. Instead, they proclaim damnation and hellfire for those who don't obey God's word.

They also do it with a creepily appropriate lack of proper grammar, suggesting an environment that - under the light of the moon - provokes thoughts more of the violent slaughter of promiscuous teenagers on a joyride than of the loving grace of anyone's deity. Think "The Blair Witch Project" meets "Davey and Goliath."

Apparently it all started back in 1976 when God told him to erect three crosses in memory of his deceased mother. His garden of crosses (and assorted platitudes and warnings and ramblings) now covers some 11 acres. While obviously a bit of a nutter, I suppose it's better than thinking a dog is ordering you to kill.

From all accounts, a harmless old man, a bit touched in the head - it's actually kind of sad that he's gone. During my college years, when I would traverse Highway 82 between Tuscaloosa (where I got my edumacation) and Montgomery (where my folks lived and my laundry got done), I would make a point of stopping off to show whomever might be with me the cross garden. After a brief period of shaking heads in disbelief, and wondering when the man with the metal claw for a hand would shatter the rear window, we'd be on our way, happy that - at least with this as our measuring stick - we were sane.

You can read and see more of the lunacy here and here.

Posted by Andy at 08:59 AM





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