May 23, 2022

Satan

COLUMBIA, Md. — The U-shaped street in Columbia was supposed to be named Satin Wood Drive, based on an obscure poem by a whimsical poet. But the devil, it turns out, was in the details.
About 30 years ago, somewhere between the developer’s plans and the county’s official map, a misplaced letter doomed the residents of Satan Wood Drive.
“You almost feel ostracized, like you’re the black sheep of the village,” said Jamie Aycock, 31, an electrical engineer who lives on the block in Hickory Ridge Village. “Sometimes they look at me like I’m a devil worshipper.”
Residents have adopted a variety of coping mechanisms. A priest who lives on the street sprinkles holy water around his house each year. Another man obscures the name by giving it a French pronunciation. Others simply call it S Street.
But patience has run thin, and the residents of Satan Wood Drive are petitioning Howard County for a name change. They have collected signatures and begun to raise money, hopeful their days as the butt of demonic jokes are coming to an end.
Their biggest obstacle has been getting people to take the problem seriously: At a recent town budget hearing, as the residents made their case, the meeting erupted in guffaws. “They wouldn’t think it was so funny if they had to live on the street,” muttered Barbara Chapman, who has lived there for four years.
All the residents on the block seem to have a story about how they came to live on Satan Wood Drive and how they have learned to cope.
The Rev. Duane Johnson understands the problem acutely. The Orthodox priest lives with his wife, Sandy, in a two-story house on the northern end of Satan Wood Drive.
It wasn’t their first choice. His wife didn’t even want to look at it, he explained. But the market was tight, the prices astronomical, and here was the perfect house in a great neighborhood, a minute’s walk from a charming park and community pool.

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