Each year our family embarks on an American road trip in a different direction. My wife and I snap photos of all things pretty and peculiar. I create a travelogue partly for fun and partly for my own future reference when my memory fails in my twilight years. Someone needs to remind future-me of the good ol’ days. It might as well be present-me.
This year’s journey was a nine-day trip from Indianapolis to Boston and back again, with a few stops in each direction. Regular MCC followers were previously privy to photo-a-day highlights while we were on the road. In a series of non-consecutive entries, I’ll be sharing a plethora of photos from each of our major stopovers in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Ohio, and upstate New York. Our experience wasn’t always sweetness and smiles, but we did our best to capture the sights and souls of our immediate surroundings.
The links to the full series, including the nine on-the-go entries, will be collected on a new main page shortly, same as was done for our 2012 road trip. Anyone who missed a chapter, joins in progress, or Googles their way here a year from now will be more than welcome to hop aboard. As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.
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Day One was spent covering half the driving distance between Indianapolis and Boston. Though some families rotate drivers and stay on the road nonstop until they reach point B, we plan our itinerary with a maximum of nine hours’ driving per day. Past experience has taught us that’s roughly the boundary beyond which we can’t stand being trapped in a car with each other and need a time-out from the road.
First tourism-based stop of the day: Springfield, Ohio — home to a few different statues, reason enough for us to drop by. My wife’s primary objective here: this Madonna of the Trail, one of twelve found along the same national highway.
Each Madonna is a tribute to the American frontier woman and her intangible but vital contributions that kept the American frontier man alive and mentally stable. Or something like that. Longtime MCC readers with elephantine memories will recall past Madonnas we captured in three other cities: Richmond, IN; Vandalia, IL; and Lamar, CO. My wife would love to view the other eight Madonnas in future vacations, locations permitting.
If you prefer your statues manlier and older, a few blocks down the street is George Rogers Clark, a famous officer in our Revolutionary War who was involved in the Battle of Piqua ’round these parts. I’ve not heard of that battle, but I gather it was important to the locals who erected this statue decades ago.
To be honest, downtown Springfield looked to me as if it’s seen better days. Isolated spots of pleasant aesthetics peeked at us here and there from between the aging storefronts and empty lots.
At far left in that photo is an item pointed out to us by the trusty travelers at Roadside America: a statue of the local attorney who helped Wilbur and Orville Wright secure the numerous patents that more or less earned them a place in the history books as the inventors of the airplane in so many words. Note the careful casting of his weapons of choice.
It’s rare to travel anywhere and find a salute to a lawyer, but there he is.
If I understand the story properly: the Wright brothers failed at completing patent applications and had a crowd of competitors all vying for the official “flying machine” patent. They were referred to Springfield (ostensibly a breeding ground for mad science at the time) to consult with Toulmin, a local patent lawyer who advised them to change tactics and patent several of their flying machine’s most integral parts instead — controls, ailerons, little things absolutely necessary for flight to happen without instant crash landings. After years of legal skirmishes with other, angrier, less shrewd flying-machine makers, Toulmin’s plan eventually worked and the Wright brothers became rich and famous. That’s the short version gleaned from my cursory research, anyway.
I suppose we could accept this story as a victory for creators’ rights. The idea of celebrating the legal team is weird to me nonetheless. One wonders if Menlo Park, NJ, has fifteen-foot-tall statues of Thomas Edison’s legal team standing proudly next to a small crayon drawing of Nikola Tesla lying face-down in a gutter.
One nifty invention Springfield showed us: cornerstone street signs. Does your town have a problem with its street signs being stolen by pesky juveniles or mowed down by drunk drivers? Stop wasting money on extra aluminum plates and instead try installing these sturdy decorations in the sidewalk at every intersection corner. Drivers will find navigation impossible, but your pedestrians will never be lost.
Just as my wife collects Madonnas of the Trail, so have I begun collecting old theater marquees. Online sources disagree as to whether or not the State Theatre remains open for business, though it seemed in service as of July 6, 2013.
It’s my understanding this place can be rented for parties and special events when it’s not busy hosting performances by local actors and artists. I salute the city’s support of its continued usefulness, but their marquee is old and classic and therefore within my field of visual interest.
To be continued!
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]