Gemini Giant, Wilmington, ILThe Gemini Giant is a fiberglass mascot of the Launching Pad Drive-In Restaurant in Wilmington, IL. They give out that he is some kind of astronaut or spaceman or something, but I think he is a rogue nuclear power plant worker. Here he prepares to drop the Big One on SR 53 traffic.
[United States. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. "Braidwood 1: Pressurized Water Reactor." Operating Nuclear Power Reactors n. seq. (20 Sep. 2004): 10 pp. Online. Internet. 14 Aug. 2005. Available http://www.nrc.gov/info-finder/ reactor/brai1.html.]
Braidwood Nuclear Power Plant, Braidwood, IL
Since 9/11, administrators of strategic facilities have become
increasingly sensitive to potential breeches of security and may react
aggressively to inquisitive acts on the part of the public such as
taking snapshots. Even
though the Braidwood Plant stands adjacent to Old US Route 66, I've not
to observe the occasions of my passage as photo ops.
Kite Spinners, Redbird Antique Mall, Chenoa, ILOld US Route 66 is a flea-market enthusiast's dream come true. Now, I know Harley riders to be hep to the latest trends in yard art and paragons of good taste, so I'll leave it to you. (As a Goldwing owner, I'm clueless.) Is this cute, or what?
Route 66 Assoc of Illinois, Pontiac, ILOld US Route 66 tourists on their way south from Chicago must stop at the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and Historic Museum for free orientation and indoctrination. The museum is in the Old City Hall (not the Livingston County Court House).
Poster, Work on a Farm This Summer, Route 66 Museum, Clinton, OKLikewise those headed east are to turn off at Clinton, OK, to visit the Route 66 Museum there. Admission is charged. One starts in the 1920s and progresses by the decade from one room to the next. The lights in each room come on automagically, revealing wall-sized photos of roadwork in progress. Tokens of each time period and memorabilia from long-gone roadside institutions are displayed, but you are responsible for poking the button that provides ambient popular music by well-known recording artists such as Frank Stokes ("'Taint Nobody's Business If I Do" 1928), Woody Guthrie ("Will Rogers Highway" 1940), Glen Miller ("In the Mood" 1940), Elvis Presley ("Heartbreak Hotel" 1956), The Beatles ("I Saw Her Standing There" 1963), and The Eagles ("Hotel California" 1976).
In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;and protested the institution of private ownership of land with the verse:
By the relief office, I'd seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me.
As I went walking, I saw a sign there;In another version, the sign reads "Private Property." These verses were left out of subsequent recordings (even by Guthrie himself), turning what was a protest song into one more along the lines of the then-current style of patriotic songs.
And on the sign there, It said, 'NO TRESPASSING.'
But on the other side, It didn't say nothing.
That side was made for you and me.
Midewin Prairie Headquarters, USFS, Elwood, ILMidewin (Mih DAY win) is the Potawatomi name of the Healers' Guild.
The US Forest Service is reclaiming the vast grounds of the Joliet Arsenal where weapons of mass destruction were manufactured for World War II. It has been renamed Midewin, and they are slowly turning it back into a natural prairie. Most of it is still in pasture or under cultivation. The project is expected to continue for decades.
Yellow Cone Flowers, Midewin, Elwood, ILThere is a small visitors' display in the office building and a short path around a pond in front of it. Those looking for seed sources and advice about converting midwestern waste areas to natural vegetation will be interested as will hikers. There are (or will be) miles-long walking tours over non-hazardous areas of the site. Check in at the reception desk.
Brown Eyed Susans, Pony Bridge, El Reno, OKKeep your eyes open for wild flowers all along Old US Route 66. Spraying curtailed their variety, but some species turned out to be immortal. Others have been making a comeback, aided, no doubt, by local restoration efforts.
Our Lady of the Highways, Waggoner, IL
PROTECT US ON
OCTOBER 29, 1959
Lincoln Bust, Springfield, ILThe bronze bust before the entrance to the tomb is a reproduction of Gutzon Borglum's marble head of Lincoln in the Capitol building in Washington, DC. Visitors are compelled to touch its nose for luck.
Union Miners' Cemetery, Mt Olive, IL
Mary Harris "Mother" Jones was an Irish immigrant. Her husband and
children died of yellow fever in Tennessee in 1867. She went into
business as a seamstress in Chicago and was burned out in the Great
Fire of 1871. She then became an agitator for organized labor. She
helped found the Industrial Workers
of the World (IWW, the "Wobblies")
Meramec CavernsI've been in other caves. I've been in other "show caves." This was the nicest in terms of tourist comfort.
First of all, it doesn't smell like a cave. They have some superduper citrusy substance that they must spritz into the air or slather on the guide rails or something. You just can't believe you're in a dank underground chamber. It never occurs to you that you are cheek by jowl next to a bunch of other sweaty tourists.
Under the neon sign, which tells you where you are, there is a replica moonshiner's shack complete with still. The tour guide frankly confesses this has nothing to do with the history of Meramec Caverns ~ political, social, or geologic ~ but is merely included as an Ozarks reference ~ so you know where you are.
Likewise there is a Jesse James diorama.
Gift Shop, Meramec CavernsYou have to walk past the cafeteria to get to the gift shop, which entirely encloses the mouth of the cave. In the old days, people would drive into the cave and dance on a grandstand built inside. Contemporary visitors may be forgiven for assuming that cave floors are typically flat enough not only to dance on but also to lay a tile floor on.
Meramec CavernsThere is an illuminated picture portrait of Lassie in the cave because an episode of the ever-popular TV series (starring Opie Taylor) was filmed here. You remember it, I'm sure. It's the one where Lassie rescues Timmy, or was it Flipper?
Art Linkletter did a gag for his TV show in which a pair of contestants personated a prehistoric cave couple, performing a skit for the amusement of tourists. This is remembered with fondness and commemorated, too, with a stop on the tour and concomitant signage.
There is even a Foucault pendulum installed in the cave for a local science fair. It is one of only 16 in the known world. It is the only one that doesn't work. It's too lightweight. It doesn't store enough energy to keep going long enough for the precession of the earth to be obvious.
Meramec CavernsBy now in my description, I've given you the idea that the Meramec Cavern tour is about anything other than the cave. This is not true. There's plenty of cave stuff in the cave and a river, too; you just have to walk for a way to get to it. Also, you have to climb stairs ~ one whole flight ~ so I ask you: If you were a guide in charge of a bunch of sweaty tourists, what would you talk about?
The finale is a light show in a "room" with a curtain wall of flowstone (and theater seating). This is accompanied by a recording of Kate Smith (1907-1986) singing Irving Berlin's God Bless America. Apparently hers is the only performance that could ever shake loose a cascade of water from the flowstone. Kate Smith fans don't seem to feel that this is any kind of exploitation.
[Benton, Thomas Hart. The Ballad of the Jealous Lover of Lone Green Valley. 1934. Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence.]
Okie BaroqueI want to include an image not relevant to Old US Route 66 except for its Ozark connection and because its artist was a native of Missouri. This Regionalist masterpiece by Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) includes a haystack, a cow, and an outhouse. It is a representation of an Ozark folk song, The Jealous Lover, but I doubt that the traditional lyrics refer to these extraneous elements. Okie Baroque is a term of derision applied to Regionalism in art, notwithstanding that the subject matter and the artist, too, generally operate at some distance from Oklahoma.
OK, how does the painting make you feel? Dizzy? To me, it's "merely humorous." Obviously, the musicians in the scene conjure the scene, so we have to account for recursion in the composition. El Greco distortion allows some dramatic distance from the action; there's no transubstantiation expected; the painting merely epitomizes country music or the act of making it, anyway. The characters are paired. The intensity of the villain is mirrored in the harmonica player. The singer expresses the heroine's expression. All is done in the deadpan style traditional to folk-music performance. The performers distort a facsimile of reality without expecting to be caught in it. They depend on their audience to differentiate between story built of substance and reality from which substance is borrowed.
Benton's figures are foreshortened as though you were to view them from below. To keep them from looming out of the frame, he uniformly positions the foreground behind a sill that the viewer must strain to see over.
Note: The harmonica player is assumed to be Jackson Pollock.
Discussion question: What is the mood of the cow?
Statue (1972), Praying Hands by Jack Dawson, Webb City, MO
Big Brutus, West Mineral, KSIn the southeast corner of Kansas, stands this remnant of strip mining for coal. This shovel was parked on the verge of its last dig and decommissioned in 1974 after running day and night for eleven years. Its motors and hydraulic pumps were removed. In 1985, stairways were installed for tourist access. Because of insurance-company concerns, patrons are no longer permitted on the boom.
The model 1850-B, built by Bucyrus-Erie, is still the second largest electric shovel in the world. It ran off the end of a giant extension cord. Its final monthly electric bill was $27 thousand.
[Big Brutus: Explore it! West Mineral, KS: Big Brutus, Inc., n.d.]
Mining Promo Patches, West Mineral, KS
Operator's Cabin, Big Brutus, West Mineral, KSThe operator's cab was the nerve center of the shovel. The breakroom and operator's cab were air conditioned. The monogram worked in the linoleum tile stands for Pittsburg and Midway Coal Mining Company. P&M paid $6.5 million for Big Brutus in 1962.
Bucket, Big Brutus, West Mineral, KSThe shovel required a running crew of only three: operator, oiler, and groundman. It was used to remove overburden from coal seams.
The operator's cab projects from the corner of the house.
The bucket held 135 tons or more. There are stunt pictures of workers' parking a pickup inside.
Eisler Market (1925), Riverton, KS
Heyburn Lake, Kellyville, OK
45th Infantry Division Museum
If you are into ordnance, be sure to visit the 45th Infantry
Division Museum in Oklahoma City, OK. Outdoors, there's a pasture
with lots of tanks, cannon, and aircraft. Indoors, there are guns,
and more guns. The history of firearms in warfare is pretty well
covered with not one but several examples from every major conflict.
Annotated displays compare and contrast the various specimens.
["Tribes and Nations of Oklahoma and Indian Territories." OKGenWeb n. seq. (6 June 2003): n. pag. Online. Internet. 18 Aug. 2005. Available http://www.rootsweb.com/ ~okgenweb/maps/itmap.htm.]
Tribes and Nations of Oklahoma and Indian TerritoriesSeveral exhibits at the 45th Infantry Division Museum deal with Indian Wars. One includes a map like this, showing where indigenous nations of the East were relocated during removal to the Indian Territory.
I always imagined Oklahoma's being settled in a single land run starting at the Arkansas border. In fact, there were several rushes and lotteries over the years as tribal and unassigned lands were divvied up.
"I'm depending on you old men to be a steadying influence for the replacements."
[Mauldin, Bill. "Selected World War II Cartoons." Stars and Stripes n. seq. (23 Jan. 2003): n. pag. Online. Internet. 17 Aug. 2005. Available http://ww2.pstripes.osd.mil/ article.asp?section=104& article=12234&archive=true .]
Bill Mauldin, 45th InfantryThe 45th Infantry Division Museum houses a collection of original World War II cartoons contributed by Bill Mauldin, the artist, who served with the 45th Infantry in Italy. He created Willie and Joe, an Oklahoma Redneck and an Oklahoma Choctaw, a couple of grunts who endured the rigors of war up front together. They continually flirted with insubordination.
Mauldin's drawings were always controversial. He had enemies in high places, but he had supporters, too, who must've felt he contributed to morale. Perhaps they were not so afraid of a little subversion as we would be, or perhaps they were and found it necessary to provide Mauldin's detractors a lightning rod to discharge their frustration. In this cartoon, Willie and Joe demonstrate that pop-psych manipulation is a two-way street.
Gas Mask, 45th Infantry Division Museum
OKC National MemorialOn 19 Apr 1995, the second anniversary of the Waco, TX, massacre, the 220th anniversary of the Revolutionary War Battle of Lexington and Concord, MA, and four years and a day before the Columbine High School, CO, massacre, a truck bomb set by Timothy McVeigh collapsed the facade of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK. 168 people were killed and over 800 injured.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial commemorating the event was dedicated in 2000.
OKC National MemorialThe reflecting pool occupies a portion of the ground where the Murrah Building stood. The black Gates of Time at either end are labeled 9:01 and 9:03, a minute before and a minute after the time of the blast. This is about how long it took the American public to decide there is a perennial threat of domestic terrorism.
Specifications developed for new Federal buildings in years since now require street-level barriers and setbacks.
OKC National MemorialLike an abstract set for the Thornton Wilder play, the Field of Empty Chairs holds 168 illuminated stools, each named for a victim of the bombing. 19 are tiny. These represent the children who were killed while attending day care in the building.