Longtime MCC readers know Anne is the history buff in our family, while I’m more like a history Biff. In planning such a history-heavy vacation, Anne was concerned I’d get bored quickly for lack of attractions that speak to any of my interests. Anne dug into the upstate New York research with no small amount of persistence and was proud to find a stop that would resonate with my tastes and connect with a previous experience. In essence she found us a de facto sequel to our 2016 tour of Manhattan’s Guggenheim Museum — same state, some of the same art movements, and the same classiness a mere 240 miles from NYC.
Not every U.S. President left an institution behind upon their passing. Some have multiple cities named after them. Many have a museum that tells their life story and/or celebrates their contributions to their homelands. Some states are prouder of their famous citizens than others.
A number of our former leaders have eponymous presidential libraries, though most were established in or after the 20th century, well after they and their immediate family died. You’d think the very first fully dedicated Presidential Library would have been in honor of one of the really cool Presidents — the ones who get movies made of their lives, who get to be played by upright actors like Sam Waterston or David Morse.
Nope. This guy’s was first.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
My wife Anne and I have a tradition of spending our respective birthdays together on one-day outings to some new place or attraction — partly as an excuse to spend time together in honor of our special days, partly to explore areas of Indiana (or in neighboring states) that we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.
In brainstorming my options this year, I returned to the idea of the Garfield Trail. Thirty to sixty minutes northwest of Jim Davis’ offices at Paws Inc. near Muncie, a dozen Garfield statues stand in front of various businesses in nine cities and towns as tributes to his entertainment value, to his merchandising power, and to some of the personal accomplishments that make those locales proud. In my mind the Garfield Trail was not just a basic road trip to view some roadside attractions, but a live-action side quest. No controllers, no trophies, no monsters to fight, the rules are made up and the points don’t matter —- just the two of us, a series of “levels”, and a checklist of eleven items to “collect” (minus one Garfield down for repairs)…
Our grand finale awaited us in the town of Fairmount. Yet another Indiana town that dates back to the mid-1800s and once prospered from the Trenton Gas Field around the turn of the 20th century, Fairmount today is largely a commuter town, a popular living space for folks working elsewhere nearby. Garfield creator Jim Davis was raised there and still lives and works not too far away.
Some in Fairmount might argue Davis isn’t their most famous son. After we completed our Garfield collection, a few feet to our right was another familiar face waiting to welcome us to town.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do.
As a fan of comic books for nearly four decades and counting, I wish I could say we find comic-related tourist attractions everywhere we go, but that’s nearly never the case. Leave it to one of the most powerful men in the comics industry ever so kindly to place one in our Baltimore path. And not just comics — Geppi’s Entertainment Museum is a haven for collectible 20th-century pop culture in general.
Its founder and namesake is Steve Geppi, also the founder and owner of Diamond Comics Distributors, the near-monopolistic juggernaut through which the vast majority of American comic shops are required to receive their weekly comics and ancillary products. Geppi has been a leading figure in the industry since the 1970s, with Diamond rising to indispensable prominence when the tumultuous 1990s market saw the company either outliving or outright buying its competitors. In 2006 Geppi — himself a big fan of all those worlds — decided to try something different and opened his Entertainment Museum on the second floor of the former B&O Railroad Station, with its exhibits curated out of his own enormous personal collections.
As of June 3, 2018, those paragraphs became past tense.
Once upon a time in 2007, I chaperoned a field trip to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Thanks to terrible traffic, we had exactly one (1) hour to see as much of the museum as we could before we had to board the bus and get the kids all the way back to their parents in Indianapolis. My small group, all boys, walked as briskly as they could without getting yelled at by docents, zipping from one exhibit to the next, which I’d chosen from the museum map in a series of deft but hasty hunches. It was a fun hour, but we saw less than 10% of the total museum.
Two years later, it was time for an encore. Same museum. Slightly more time to spare. Much, much worse traffic.
Dinosaurs! Every kid loves dinosaurs! The one we brought with us was a teenager, but still.
Also in this episode: mummies!
Too bad we couldn’t really present you with a big crossover event featuring dinosaurs fighting mummies. Sadly, today’s museums have their limitations. Perhaps someday the technology and permissiveness will be there.