SOMERSET – Nearly every Perry County resident has traveled the north/south corridor that stretches from one end of the county to the other. In the morning hours it seems that every Perry County resident is in a vehicle headed north on state Route 13 while every afternoon it becomes a southern sojourn.
Have you ever wondered about all those white bicycles at a residence on the left hand side of the highway as you’re headed toward Somerset? After years of seeing those ghost white bikes, they seemed to have disappeared. Maybe they were more ghost than white. All I know is I had a Fox Muldur moment today as I drove south toward New Lexington.
The mysterious white bicycles had reappeared, only in a spot closer to the highway. Even more shocking, I caught a fleeting glance of a seemingly real live human being standing among the white bicycles. From my distant past, I could see ghostly letters in my mind’s eye telling me to “trust no one” and that “the truth is out there.”
A mere semi-U-turn safely executed in a gravel lane on the right side of the highway had me headed north to solve this mystery once and for all. Where was that pesky Sculley when I needed her?
I realize for an entire generation of the population totally devoid of The X-Files trivia, all of the above is total gibberish. Regardless of that unbelievable ignorance, I realized I was on the verge of discovering why all those entirely white painted bikes had returned.
The guy working on the bicycle display turned out to be Tom Noll, of the 37 percent of Perry County people named Noll. Not only is he a bicycle artiste extraordinaire, the guy is an award-winning author of children’s books.
Tom lives in Washington D.C. these days but he had returned to update the white bicycle display. He explained that his sister had lived in the house where the bicycles had previously lined her driveway. When she bought the home next door to her previous home, the bicycle display was retired. Now that she had established her new residence, Tom was notified that it was time for a new bicycle display.
On a previous visit to his home county around 2014-15, Tom had traveled to elementary schools all across the county where he made presentations of his award winning books. Accompanying him to those classrooms was Katrina Carpenter, Education Specialist for Perry County Waste Reduction and Recycling.
“We went to a second grade class in Crooksville where a wonderful teacher had prepared her class for my visit,” remembered Tom. “The kids were wonderful and had all kinds of great questions for me,” recalled the author.
Somehow the conversation about the bicycles made its way to the upcoming Perry County Tribune Home and Garden Show on May 7 and 8. Turns out Tom has experience with home and garden shows, especially one in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“We average between 350,000 and 400,000 people going through that show,” to which I replied, “Just like ours!”
I have now met three members of the Noll family, all quite accidentally. First, there was Bill Noll, retired Navy veteran and current principal at Holy Trinity Elementary in Somerset. Then I met Eli Noll at Underwood’s Hardware who sold me a roto-tiller and has accepted the position of head groundskeeper at my palatial estate. Okay, Eli is mowing my lawn, but it looks palatial when he’s finished.
When I asked Tom if everyone except all the guys named Paul Culver in that neck of the woods are named Noll, he quickly explained that as far as my eyes could gaze southward, the answer was yes.
His books, Selling Eggs and The Bicycle Fence, are part of Tom’s series titled “Trash to Treasure – Recycling Creatively with L.T.” As much fun as I had taking photos and dodging cars that obviously believed 55 MPH was a mere suggestion, talking with Tom Noll capped off a day of three great interviews for upcoming Tribune stories.
However, if those white bicycles with the giant red ladybug -ooking butterflies attached are not anywhere in sight next week, I will definitely be rekindling my inner Muldur… as soon as I finish reading The Bicycle Fence.
Bound to be some clues in that book somewhere.