Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Another roadside attraction

I remember stopping in Greensburg, Kansas in the late 90's on my way to the Southwest. Even though I was becoming annoyed at the impossibility of finding the required 93 octane for my Doug Rippie built LT-1 engine anywhere west of the Mississippi and running behind schedule, it seemed an irresistible chance to see the America of "stuck in the 30's" Midwestern towns and roadside attractions I just missed growing up in. I wasn't disappointed.

Greensburg is possessed of more than "The Big Well" for which I had been seeing signs on billboards and barns and water towers; it had and presumably still has, buried somewhere in the rubble, a 1000 pound pallasite meteorite, "the largest of its kind yet discovered" in a museum right next to the disturbingly deep and wide hand dug well boring over 100 feet deep into the Kansas soil like an inverted silo: a testament to 19th century American ingenuity.

Even though it was at the height of the Clintonhate Ecstasy sweeping America like one of the world's great religious conversions and any conversation about our sweet land of liberty with a local would have ended poorly, I moved on toward Dodge City, along a road in one place lined with cartoons of welded steel commemorating "Janet Reno, the fire bitch from hell" with a sense of nostalgia toward a place of classic soda fountains and hot summer afternoons, where people could still look awe-struck at a giant hole in the ground.

Who knows if 6 years of bungling, scandalous kleptomania in Washington has changed people in Kansas, but the tornado has changed that town forever. Something will be rebuilt, but it will never be the same, nor will our country, once the F5 administration whirls away into infamy.

Alas, Greensburg; we will never understand each other but I am diminished by your loss.

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