It was 70 for the first time in 180 days. That’s six months. I don’t mean it’s been six months since it was exactly 70. I mean six months since it was over 69. That’s the sort of statistic I associate with parts of the world that have 22 hours of sunlight in the summer and July 4th is known as “ice-out” day on the river.
The Matter of the Bread: this is the sort of thing that makes my daughter roll her eyes, because I turn into that guy when customer satisfaction is not optimal. Actually, I’m not that hard to please. Tell me if you’d do the same.
Went to the grocery store for buns. They have the best hamburger buns of any grocery store in the area. Cub and Target: mass-produced with an intended shelf-life of one House of Representatives term, and only in packs of eight. The local store buns are soft, delicious, plump, capacious, and come in bags of four if you wish. I wish. So today when I picked up the buns I was surprised: they were stiff. The top part of the bun - the “dome,” to use the technical baker’s term - was hard. (Kidding about that being the technical term. No idea.) The lady who was stocking the shelf said it was the freshest one they had.
“Thank you much,” I said, colloquially.
“Would it kill you to say ‘very’?” daughter asked as we walked away.
I didn’t know what she meant, so she explained that I should say “thank you very much.” I said I thought that was a lot of thanks for the situation. “Much” implied additionally intense thanks. A simple “thank you” would probably suffice. Very much bordered on insincerity. She told me I was thinking about it too much.
“Would you be embarrassed if I said thank you very, very much? Okay, then. There’s a limit.”
But that wasn’t the issue. The buns were the issue. They were indeed different from any such bun the store has ever sold, and I did what one does in these situations: I sent an email.
Here’s where you roll your eyes. But as I explained to scoffing daughter: if they did change the recipe, and most people don’t like them but they don’t say anything because, well, what’s the use, then they’ll think the change was a good idea. If enough people register a complaint, they may rethink their idea. It could happen. It has happened. It might well happen again.
So I wrote a letter asking if they'd changed the recipe. Sent it at 7 PM. The bakery manager for the chain wrote back at 9:15, informing me that they had not changed the recipe, but that there were always variations due to a bad batch of dough, imperfections in the preparation, and so on. Rest assured the buns were still made at the store daily with the same recipe.
I sent him back thanks for his prompt reply. But I did not thank him very much. Probably should have. Guy shouldn’t have to deal with people like me on a Wednesday night.
And now, let's learn about Japan! No, I’m not going to pretend anyone came here today anxious to learn about other countries; this is about packaging.
I think American packaging is generally the best in the world, when it’s not too busy. I’ve never been too impressed with European packaging. I’m sure this is mostly a cultural bias; I just remember expecting to be fascinated by European supermarkets, and shrugging at what I saw. Anyway, this is a Japanese snack, obviously. Onigiri is a rice-based food. You could say this is nasty hard-compacted rice substance baked in the urine of a dog who drank a quart of soy sauce, but it’s not to my tastes. The website says:
This product onigiri rice cracker of input was in 16 bags of two is ideal for outing such as a picnic, a party like everyone gather.
I became pretty illustrations "rice ball boy" has brought this one home for driving the 47 prefectures. (With three additional illustrations of 47 different, for a total of 50 types)
⇒ 47 prefectures onigiri rice cracker awareness rankings!
Ah hah! So all the illustrations are summations of the character of the individual prefectures, or the popular cliche? This one was a bit baffling:
Google "Japan Prefecture Desert," and voila:
The Tottori Sand Dunes (鳥取砂丘 Tottori sakyū?) are unique sand dunes located near Tottori City in Tottori Prefecture, Honshū, Japan. They are the only large dune system (over 30 km²) in Japan.
The dunes were created by sediment deposits carried from the Chūgoku Mountains by the Sendai River into the Sea of Japan. Sea currents and wind help bring the sand from the bottom up onto the shore, where the wind constantly rearranges their shape. The dunes have existed for over 100,000 years, but the area of the dunes has been steadily decreasing due to a government reforestation program following World War II.
So there you go. They have a desert. I never knew.. As for the cracker itself:
The seaweed that are used in this article, we have collected in the fishing method Ebiyakani is mixed.
In Tsutenkaku "onigiri rice cracker launch dedication exercise" At last! 2 pieces package of onigiri rice cracker's event is conducted in Tsutenkaku, renewal child in 47 prefectures package from version definitely looking …
I could cut and paste Japanese into Google Translate all day.
Before we get to our first town, we pass through one of those burgs not yet recaptured by the drones of Google:
A hideous modernization; late 60s, I'd say. Black stone and a modern sign. You know it was a bank. Was.
Someone got tired of replacing the glass after the annual hail storm.
It's a small-town bank on the cheap, but it still has gravity, and it's right where such things should be: the corner, the intersection of commerce. A bulwark! A rock! A Gibraltar in whose looming shadow the farmer can take cool comfort, knowing his earnings are safe.
Probably went teats-up in '30.
Down the block:
It's hard to untangle the initials. BCS, or SBC, or CBS, or something. Commerce State Bank?
No: Stanton County Bank. opened in 1879 by Mr. F. McGiverin. This would date from much later; most of downtown was leveled in a cyclone that struck the same year.
Movie theater? Oh dear.
The web says the Rialto has been closed for many, many years. Somewhere in the world there's a picture of the billboard on the adjacent structure, don't you think? Someone must have Kodaked that, just to show how Stanton was coming along. It got stuck in an album and someone sold it off to an antique store and nothing on the back said where it was taken, so the photo is forever severed from the real thing.
If the photo ever existed.
Even in abandonment, the small stores have a measure of dignity. It wouldn't take much to restore that cornice to its old state.
It also reminds you that they cared about these things in the smallest of towns. These were symbols of civic pride, proof you belonged to the long great continuum of culture and tradition. You weren't pioneers throwing up a wood front. You cared enough to import something that looked cultivated.
I wonder if the different-hued brick had glass, once. Same for the green sign-board: stores of this vintage often had colored class over the main windows and doors, for obvious reasons.
An abandoned gas station on the edge of downtown. So I presume, anyway. As the son of a gas station man, these always seem particularly poignant; I can imagine news on the radio about the war, men in overhauls, the perfume of the pumps, the mutter and cough of the cars as they shut off.
If you'd like to hunt around down for old remnants, go to this page and look at the ancient image of the main street, then, use the map above to find it.
You won't have to go far.
The big town in the neighborhood. Folks from Stanton went here when they needed big-city things.
It's Putters, if you're wondering. Wonderful facade, but this is not its finest hour.
The pride of Mr. H.A. Pasewalk:
This geneology page says he came from the town of the same name in Germany. At the time of a city survey done in 1889, his business was "Agricultural Implements and Buggies." A man of thrift, you suspect; that was practical ornamentation.
The address for the old movie theater puts it to the right of this structure but I think thi was a flicker house. If I'm right, it was the Rialto:
But I could be wrong. Cinema treasures says the Rialto opened as the Lyric in 1914, and that's too big for a town this size. Maybe. So what was it? I'd say it was a department store. They got the metal-screen facade treatment in the post-war era.
I don't suppose it would hurt to research the matter. Sigh . . . hold on. Nope.
See, there's the problem. If that was a small-town department store, then it's a huge part of the town's history, even if it only survives in the memory of some nice ladies in the old-folks home and some middle-aged people who went there when they were five to get new clothes for school. It's always the Historical buildings that get written up; places like these are discounted, as if they mattered less. They mattered more.
Krug: the web is likewise silent.
Of all the theaters, this one is looking good:
It has the stolid mass and character of a Serious Theater Building, but it was a movie theater. The Grand! It has a new life, and a Facebook page that includes some pictures of the truly monstrous renovation. It's modern and a sign of revitalization when they do that to the department store. NOT to the theater.
And we end with . . . another empty bank sign.
Let's take a tour!
I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. I feel as if I'm looking for Fargo and Harwood all over the country. And finding it, over and over again.
Since the restaurants are over for a while, it's a new feature: take a click on the Seventies pane to the right. Too much going on at work for the work blog. Tumblr, of course, every day. See you around, and thank you very very very very much for your patronage.