American Pie

Okay, time to confess. These postings are a few days behind time. It’s gotten a little worse than it was at first because I’m not spending as much time in the libraries of America now as I did at first. Not doing more tootling, either, though. I’ve been making my way back west and spending a lot more of my day on the road than doing Common Sense for the Third Millennium stuff.

Being on the road, though, has some interesting insights all its own. I went by to visit my nephew and his family in Warsaw, Indiana, for instance. That was a very nice visit, but the insight it prompted that I wish to share was based on contemplating the name of the town, which I’ve always thought kind of odd. On the way there from the Adirondacks, I came on a town called Cuba, in New York State.

Couldn’t resist, so I stopped there. I bought some sharp cheddar and an oddball one that sampled good in a local cheese factory. Then I went from Cuba to Warsaw in a few hours and never got in a boat or an airplane. At first I thought that was unusually cool, but then, after leaving Warsaw, I encountered Peru, Brazil, and Nebraska (as in the State), all also in Indiana (the State). There’s Mexico, Lebanon, Columbia, Carthage, and Nevada, in Missouri. My favorite, though, came from looking at the map and discovering that Houston is the county seat of Texas (Missouri).

Is this really fair to the U.S. Postal service? Were early Midwesterners completely nostalgic for the more civilized lands they’d left and would never see again? That surely doesn’t explain Nevada, Missouri (That’s even hard to write, it grates so on the eye and ear!). I’m pretty sure I saw a Nostalgiaville somewhere, but I might be imagining it.

I wonder how many Wellsvilles there are in this country. I’ve noticed two, so far.

Has anyone been so bold as to name their hometown Heaven, I wonder. If there’s only one Hell, I’d bet it’s in Texas. But, having family from Texas, I’m sure it’d be called Hades. (Damn the internet all the way to Texas. Just did a google search and, if you can trust Google, Hell is in Michigan, ZIP = 48169 (Aah ha! A mapquest search of the ZIP yields Pinckney, MI, doubtlessly being maligned by some disgruntled teenage resident, or perhaps a rival sports fan. Moral: always check the internet, unless it explicitly verifies your own personal biases.))

All this makes me wish I’d chosen English over Math back in 1963, when I found the double major just too hard to keep up. Being a writer would have been so much fun. Even being a writer now would be great. But, despite having written a book, and having published it and sold numerous copies; despite being devoted to seeing it widely distributed via traditional publishing routes, despite planning to write numerous other pieces, including at least one more book; despite it all, I am not and never will be a writer. That option was closed to me in 1986.

I’m on a Mission, and I haven’t the time to just explore the world of imagination and the wonder of ideas. That’s why I’m heading home, now. I’m not efficient here on the road. Oh, on the way, I’ll keep this journal going. May even take the opportunity to relax a bit and let the mind wander. Being on the road is so stimulating that way.

For example, look at State boundaries: The straight ones clearly were set down in agreements between differing States before the regions in dispute had been populated by white men (there was nowhere unpopulated when the Europeans began their genocidal occupation of the Americas). Otherwise the population patterns, determined more by geography than geometry, would have made for very different decisions.

When a State has a jagged boundary on one side and straight lines emanating away from them, such as Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, etc., you can look at it and imagine where the European population had taken hold when the divvying up took place. You can guess how the arguments went when the otherwise landlocked Pennsylvania got a corridor to the great lakes between New York and Ohio when the Indians actually still controlled that territory.

But here’s something I’ve never been able to make sense of: What’s that little patch of land in northern Minnesota about? You know, the little blip up into what one would think was going to be Canada? I mean, it’s not even connected via a land bridge to the rest of the U.S. I can sort of understand the analogue in Puget Sound, where we have a disconnected outpost at Point Roberts, WA, which lies below the parallel that marks most of the Canadian/U.S. boarder. But what’s the story on that little piece, jutting into Canadian territory above the parallel and not connected? Such are the things I’d love to explore.

Another day, perhaps. Today, I’m heading home. Not exactly a bee-line, though, be there around the eleventh, I think.

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