Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Roadblog of a seventy-two year old Librarian Grandmother

from Poetry and Photography: the memory thread

Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, October 30, 2007, 843 pm.

Another day on the road. Nice weather, and--since we are working our way toward Highway 95 for the majority of our trip--a route notable for taking us through many small towns in various stages of decay. The small houses of the Northeastern past ranged along the highway. The old brick storefronts, some crumbling, some boarded up, some transmogrified into antique shops or art galleries. Newer strip malls, also decayed, or decaying, A very occasional J.C. Penney's or Walmart. It seems to me that the best part of America is being lost and we won't know that it is irretrievable until it is completely gone, leaving behind some videotapes that nobody has the equipment to play any more. The place you grew up and learned how to be a useful adult. The place you had to leave to find a good job and rarely go back to.And now you have to lock your house and your car. You've lost track of the neighbors and schoolmates you knew all your life. No older guys are around who like to show kids like you were how to do things. A mechanic won't let you use his shop because of insurance restrictions. The dentist makes you give him your Visa card number before you get in the chair. Nobody knows your aunts and uncles. Or your grandmother. You've no place to grow anything and nothing to ride that doesn't use gasoline. And certainly no creek or woods for your kids to investigate, unless you are very lucky.There are so many of these towns. Driving across the country is a way to see how many. Some names today: Oink Joint Road, Otter Tail River, Crow Wing County. And a town named Pillager. We are in Detroit Lakes in room 111 of a budget motel, yellow sections set in a grove of trees. So far, a train has gone by about every 15 minutes. Close and loud. I love it: another touch of the past.

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