Saturday, March 29, 2008

Grain Elevators and Giant Hot Dogs

There we were, driving down to St. Louis last week, when we passed Atlanta, IL. I just had to stop when I saw the small, inconspicuous white sign that said, "Grain Elevator Museum - Next Right."

As usual, as soon as I saw the sign, I said to my wife "I gotta see this..." Before she could object I was off the highway and heading into town. I mean, seriously... how can anyone pass up a grain elevator museum? I suppose people who are not at all curious could keep driving in favor of the next Cracker Barrel. But this...I had not expected this.

Imagine the simple, mundane pleasure of casually and superciliously dropping in conversation, "Say, I was just visiting the Grain Elevator Museum...fascinating architecture...a masterfully subtle use of the cubic form combined with a rough wood fascia that really accentuates its organic otherness. And what a masterful use of the rail car, juxtaposing the permanence of the structure with a metaphor of the transient nature of grain..."

Sad thing is, last night Stephanie and I had dinner in a restaurant next to a couple of insufferable academics whose drivel was almost as pretentious as it was inane. They were, almost assuredly, on their first date, hopelessly trying to impress each other. She laughed at all the right places, and he was attempting charm that came off as smarmy. I felt like launching into my grain elevator solliloquy as an antidote to the leather-patched tweed-coated blather from Table 9. One of the dangers of living in a college town, I suppose.

But I digress.

Beyond the wonderful grain elevator museum was the completely unexpected Paul Bunyan With Hot Dog Statue. No idea what it means, why PB would have a hot dog, and why in Atlanta, IL. Once more, no Babe, the big blue ox. Perhaps Babe was carrying the fries and the cherry coke.

We will never know. Route 66 still rears its ancient head once in a blue moon.

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