Who’s the Sign Poet at Green Light Garage?

By Alorie Gilbert

It is co-owner, Alison Allen. When Allen was a child her mother often read her poetry at bedtime. Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost were favorites. So when Allen and her husband, Tom, bought the auto shop along the Eagle Harbor shore three years ago, she saw the empty reader board and had an idea. “Something cheerful up there would be nice,” she recalled thinking.

Since then, filling the sign at Green Light Garage with poetic quotes has been a rewarding hobby. Perched along a busy section of Eagle Harbor Dr., the board uplifts customers, commuters and all manner of passersby, including a kayaker who paddled up and recited a verse he’d seen there. “People stop and thank us,” said Allen. “I’ve gotten hugs.”

Quotes often correspond to the time of year, like one by Camus this past fall: “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” Or a Rumi quote used for Ground Hog Day: “Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.”

Green Light customers have brought in books of quotes to inspire Allen, who also works as a pediatric homecare nurse. And then there are her mother’s beloved Frost and Dickinson, whose words make an occasional appearance. Allen’s sons, Nick and Baxter, work at the family-run shop and have nicknamed the reader board “the motherboard.”

Recently Allen posted an apt line from the picture book The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown: “It was good to be a little island. A part of the world and a world of its own.”