Monday, October 30, 2006
Potatoes in the Wheatfield?
Two potatoes, one in Union blue, one in Confederate gray, pause from the fighting long enough to endorse the culinary standards at Gettysburg's Hunt's cafe. [posted with permission].
Some think of commercial exploitation like this as sacrilege, but if that's the case, the student of American culture can hardly avoid acknowledging that blasphemy is as American as apple pie. If there's a dollar to be made—if it will cause curious travelers to take THIS EXIT—then it is fair game, even if it involves an event most notable for unspeakable carnage and suffering. Civil War themes are a big draw, bolstering the kepi industry. Cha-Ching!
No one does the Roadside Attraction like Americans do. We may not have invented it, but certainly we were able to broaden the definition of "attraction"—and unselfconsciously—to include everything from 2-story outhouses to the World's Largest Rubber Stamp (for the record, in recent years the world's largest rubber stamp title has moved here).
To amuse myself, I recently searched the ever-interesting Roadside America site for some Civil War-specific destinations. We've all been appalled at the state of Civil War-era medicine. For those of you whose imaginations are lacking, you may want to take in a reenactment of the first reported Civil War amputation, in Philippi, West Virginia, assuming they're still putting on the "show."
If you're passing by Elberton, Georgia, make time for a visit to see "Dutchy," the Yankee Confederate, one of those ubiquitous, town square memorials that was torn down in disgust after only two years. Might have been the unfortunate Federal overcoat.
If your family vacation checklist reads something like this: 1) Grand Canyon, 2) Yellowstone, 3) Mount Rushmore, 4) Replica Head of William Quantrill, you're in luck. The first three, you can find on your own. The fourth one is here. Is that a bottle of catsup?
This image from a vintage postcard shows the "Lincoln Oak" in Albany, GA. Maybe some local reader will weigh in on whether the tree is still there, or has subsequently been trimmed to resemble Jimmy Carter.
Georgia has its odd-shaped trees, but truly, Illinois remains the land of Lincoln. Where else would you expect to find the "World's Largest and Ugliest Abe Lincoln Statue"? One astute observer commented that, "from the highway it appears that Abe is making an obscene gesture with his finger." For my money, the Charleston, Illinois Lincoln statue has the same essential, frighten-the-children quality as the cartoonish Nathan Bedford Forrest statue alongside I-65 south of Nashville.