The Fantabulous 50s Weekend, Part 5: Schiller Park Intermezzo

Kedziora Suspension!

One of five statues (out of an original total of 23) from Jerzy Jotka Kedziora’s series “Suspension: Balancing Art, Nature and Culture”.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a short-term road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

I’ve just now lived to see 50, and after weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, which had cool stuff that this now-fiftysomething geek wanted to see. Columbus, then, would be the setting for our first outing together as quintagenarians…

From the Center of Science and Industry we took a short hop south to German Village, a historic neighborhood with quite a few small businesses clustered within. We did some shopping (more about that in a later entry) and some eating (ditto, but different later entry), but in between stops we decided to exercise our middle-aged-couple privilege to call time-out on all the jaunting and go enjoy some peace and quiet at the nearest park. Its grounds had a few modestly nifty sights to catch, so it wasn’t just us starting at grass and trying to remember the Good Old Days.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #43: Black Hawk Up

Black Hawk more zoom!

There he stood up, across, along, on, by, at, above and beyond the river. Not pictured: the river.

One last state. One last stop. One last attraction. One last park. One last forest. One last cliff. One last statue. All the plurals throughout this series come down to these.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #37: The Oversize Otter and His Feathered Friends

Otto the Big Otter!

In the proud tradition of other famous otters like Emmet Otter, one-half of Daxter, and Mrs. Otterton from Zootopia, we give you…Otto!

North Dakota may have entertained us with their trifecta of World’s Largest animals, but they’re hardly the only state with titanic bragging rights. The fun with flesh-‘n’-blood wildlife didn’t end when we left Yellowstone, either.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #36: Kaiju Americana Trilogy

Jamestown giant buffalo!

If all real buffaloes had been this size, the history of the American frontier would’ve gone very differently.

One of the all-time greatest songs about road trips is an album track by “Weird Al” Yankovic called “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota“. It wasn’t one of his classic pop-single parodies, just a wacky 7-minute riff on ’70s lite-country crooners that aptly captured the essence of roadside attractions in all their abnormal Americana glory. Over the past twenty years we’ve seen our share of eccentricity and ingenuity on the run, but in one respect we’ve found the reality comes up a bit short: there are not garish, campy, world-record-setting colossi standing in all fifty states. We’ve seen a lot of “big”, but not much “biggest”.

Clearly we should’ve driven more deeply into North Dakota sooner. A 131-mile stretch of I-94 through the heart of their unassuming state skirts past no less than three such mega-animals in three different towns. Sure, their national park was pretty and a few statues of historical figures were fine, but they shriveled in comparison to the frivolous joy of this towering trio, none of whom have ever been invited to star in their own Syfy Original Film.

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Our 2021 Road Trip #35: North Dakota Statue Stopover Trilogy

Young Theodore Roosevelt statue, Dickinson, North Dakota.

Taken together with other Presidential statues in this series, we see the Young Teddy/Old Teddy gap is nowhere near as wide as the one between Young and Old Elvis.

Tired of endlessly pretty panoramas from the Western U.S.? You say we should get back to some roadside art? Have we got some chapters for you!

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Our 2021 Road Trip #18: More American Presidents Cornered

Bill Clinton statue!

Something about a Bill Clinton statue in front of a pawn shop feels just right.

Our previous photo gallery featured statues bearing likenesses of twenty Presidents of the United States of America, highlights from the City of Presidents art-walk around downtown Rapid City, South Dakota. Now we present the rest of them because YOU, the viewers, demanded it!

Wait, no, you didn’t. But I don’t feel like relegating 43 American Presidents to the outtake pile, and Anne co-wrote a joke I really want to see in print. So here we go again!

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Our 2021 Road Trip #17: A President on Every Corner

GWBush statue!

George W. Bush and Barney, his Scottish Terrier, making a living as traveling restaurant critics.

Longtime MCC fans have seen photos of more U.S. President statues in these pages than the average citizen will ever see in their entire lifetime. When your wife is a big history aficionado and the two of you share an inclination toward roadside attractions, Presidential art is an inevitable objective in all your vacation itineraries. But prior to 2021 we’d only seen statues commemorating a handful of Presidents — mostly the popular ones, plus a handful of lower-tier Commanders-in-Chief whose museums, preserved homes, gravesites, and peculiar fan bases we’ve visited. One American city was bold enough to ask: why not bring all of them to life?

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Our 2021 Road Trip #13: Dignity Where the Roadside Meets the Riverside

Dignity statue!

We are but worms at the feet of the statue of Dignity.

The three-hundred-mile stretch of I-90 through southern South Dakota is vast. Really, really vast. Until and unless you reach the Black Hills and the Badlands to the west, the flattened landscape across the central and eastern portions can lose their visual novelty to even the most innocent traveling yokel after about the first five or ten miles. Roadside attractions blessedly break up that monotony here and there — some ironically and some with utmost sincerity. It’s more rewarding when you feel compelled to stop for the sake of art appreciation than out of car-happy desperation.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #23: Boot City Outskirts

cattle and cowboy!

Cut ’em out! Ride ’em in! RAWHIDE!

At the end of a long day of road tripping, after hours of walking and perusing and appreciating and photographing and learning and gawping and filling your head with new mental notes about memories-to-be and storytelling to come, sometimes all you want to do is return to the car and head straight home without stopping, not even for bathrooms or snacks.

Then you pass one last roadside attraction that catches your eye and won’t let go. It lassos your brain, sweet-talks your sense of exploration, and hollers like a rowdy bartender, “I reckon y’all could spare us just a few minutes ‘fore ya head for the hills, can’t ya?” Next thing you know you’re piling outta the car and takin’ a look-see at what they wanna show ya, if’n you ain’t yella-bellied and if you don’t get up too much gumption to ask why the voice’s southern accent is more cornpone than Rogue’s dialogue in old issues of Uncanny X-Men.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #7: Palookaville

Joe Palooka!

The other day I tried explaining Joe Palooka to someone, then realized I was actually describing Bazooka Joe. It’s just as well because they probably didn’t know him, either.

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. Then came 2020 A.D.

Even in an ordinary average year, sometimes you really need to get away from it all. In a year like this, escape is more important than ever if you can find yourself one — no matter how short it lasts, no matter how limited your boundaries are. Anne and I had two choices: either skip our tradition for 2020 and resign ourselves to a week-long staycation that looks and feels exactly like our typical weekend quarantines; or see how much we could accomplish within my prescribed limitations. We decided to expand on that and check out points of interest in multiple Indiana towns in assorted directions. We’d visited many towns over the years, but not all of them yet.

In addition to our usual personal rules, we had two simple additions in light of All This: don’t get killed, and don’t get others killed…

DAY TWO: Monday, July 6th.

Overly analytical readers may notice a discrepancy in dates between this entry and the start of Day One. We had already planned to spend July 4th and 5th at home because we’re big fans of relaxing holiday weekends. After the way things ended on Friday, we also needed it for medical recovery. Anne’s pains had displayed themselves in media res and took the better part of that weekend to subside. My aches waited till Saturday morning to manifest and made me feel like a boot camp victim for much of the same time span. By Monday we were ready to hit the road again.

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