I dreamed this morning my daughter was outside the window in the backyard, singing. It was nice but it kept me from sleeping, so I texted her to keep it down.

A few seconds later the phone on the bureau vibrated: text. I got up and looked at it.

Sorry didn’t know you could hear

So it wasn’t a dream. How about that. No, just daughter up and out at a ridiculous hour because the dog got up at, oh. 4:45 AM. We’ve deduced that he might be too warm in his kennel, and he has grown in a week - so now the big kennel is in her room, with its open wire sides, and if all goes well he’ll sleep past 5 AM. Since I have the late-night shift, wearing out the beast until 2 AM, this means wife and child take the morning, and consequently are walking around at the end of the day like glass-eyed automatons whose mainsprings have completely wound down.

But school is over, so this won’t affect her academic performance. Correction: there are two days left. One is a trip to Valleyfair, the local big amusement park.

The state mandates X number of days of instruction. There are snow days where no school is held. School is extended into June. The penultimate day is spent at an amusement park. The last day is a matriculation ceremony, and then they’re off at 11 AM. But those all-important days were made up. Madness.

Walked down to the bus stop with the pup at the usual time. Haven’t met the bus in years, because that would be insulting and embarrassing. As the years go by I note the claque of moms on the corner, and remember when I was part of the morning group; I’ve seen how the group shifts, how there’s always a few who always have a new one to add to the mix. There was no one at the stop today; the bus for the younger kids comes ten minutes early.

As I waited for the bus I realized that I had to pick her up at school tomorrow after the Valleyfair excursion. And I would be taking her home after the Friday ceremony.

Next year she walks to a school two blocks away.

This was the last time she’d take the bus.

I have no idea what made me walk down to the stop, other than to give the dog a chance to stretch his paws, and maybe put a smile on weary Daughter’s face when she saw her pup, but I’m glad I did. I was there for the first ride off to school, and I was there for the last one home. For almost a decade the mornings have been ruled by The Bus.

No more, not ever; that’s done. It’s just done. Firsts and Lasts. Take a bolt of cloth, hold each end between the fingers of each hand; stretch it out - then bring the hands together. A yard becomes a quarter-inch. Life seems two inches long.

Seems. It’s not. But sometimes. Some days. Some hours. Some point when you’re standing on the same corner. Pink backpack; struggling up the tall stairs, proud to be on her own.

Then the STOP sign swings back flush and the bus moves on.

Yesterday I said I’d note something about Why Motel Postcards, especially in the summer. It’s a good question. They’re all good questions, except for “what does burlap taste like,” which is still a good question to a dog. It’s not the descriptions on the back of the cards, which are masterpieces of concision, with a limited range of attributes. “Circulating ice water” is unusual, and I used to think t the units were kept cool by pipes that gurgled water around. No. That would be ridiculous. It means you get ice water from the tap. I think. This hotel’s wikipedia entry says:

Mr. Baker had many modern ideas for the hotel such as circulating ice water for the guest rooms which he used in many of his other hotels.
Well, that’s helpful. It also says the hotel “boasted extravagant creature comforts such as an advanced hydraulic system that circulated ice water to all 450 guest rooms.” And it was air-conditioned. So either it was a fargin’ meat locker in there, or the word means “really cold water from the tap.” Also, it was a hotel where you could have comforts for our extravagant creatures.

Sometimes you’ll find the descriptions of the beds, as if anyone who’s been on the road for eight hours cares whether it’s a Comfo-Nite Sleepmastr; whatever it was years ago, it’s just another bed by now. The messages are rarely interesting. We were here we saw these people we ate this tomorrow we will do something else. A reminder that before the internet most people had nothing to say. I think more people have more to say now. But back then it seems we had a vast middle class of stolid silent people who kept their thoughts to themselves, such as they were, and had no novel observations about any aspect of their lives or the world they inhabited, other than the salad was “nice.”

No, it’s all about childhood, and the lure of the world I wish I remembered more. Everything about the Holiday Inn and the Howard Johnson and the others of the ilk were exciting and modern, from the decor to the radio sets BUILT INTO THE WALL! to the logos on everything. The smell of the chlorine, the machine that dumped ice in a bucket, the TV that tapped into an entirely foreign world (what, CBS was on 6?)

(About that last one: we no longer think in terms of channel numbers, but stations and brands and identities. You flop on the bed in a hotel in a strange town, you call up CNN, wherever it might be. You scroll until you land. The idea of four stations, like directions on a weathervane or the corners of the earth, is gone, and with it the sense of place you picked up, however faintly, from TV in a different location.)

We didn’t stay in the mom & pops, but I stayed in dozens during my time as a Northrup King Seed Salesman. Every night a new town, a different motel, and they were usually the 10-to-18 unit ones on the edge of town; all depended on the per diem, and how much I’d saved by eating cheap meals. Scratchy towels, snowy TVs, soap that smelled like gas-station bathroom granules, wood paneling, mustiness . . . but a big metal chair outside where you could sit with a Nehi at sundown and watch the cars go pass.

So it’s that. It’s summer. It’s the road. It’s the place at the end of the road. And the road that leads away from the place the next day.

Annnd . . . pupdate.



The weekly stroll down someplace I've never been, judging them unfairly.


You loved it as a motel-postcard site yesterday; you'll trust it as a Main Street Entry today. To use that old commrecial construction. Speaking of commercial constructions, this isn't one:

It has all the architectural hallmarks of civic building, from the Federal-style entrance to the Doric pilasters. As with many of these small towns, the windows were blocked out to prevent prying eyes from witnessing the godless rituals that take place within, and the horrible gristle that bedecks the walls.

I mean, it has to be that. Surely it’s not done for aesthetic reasons.

The obligatory bank, complete with an eagle to reassure you all is secure:

Another curiosity. The doors would suggest that everyone who patronized the store would be thin, or should be thin. Perhaps it was a novel type of weight-loss clinic: you gave them something valuable, and they put it in the back room, accessible only by the thin doors.

The top looks as if they stripped off the cornice; the bottom looks as if there was a flood.

This looks peculiar, but I think it’s unchanged from opening day. The style was severe - which is to say modern and unadorned, which is to say inexpensive. The awning wasn’t original. That would have ruined the clean lines of the facade.

The awning wasn’t original. That would have ruined the clean lines of the facade.

Welcoming place, isn’t it?

Even though it’s an addition, it doesn’t seem to project much trust or warmth. The stone awning looks like a handle a giant would press down upon to mince the people who just went inside.

Osborn and Moore - partners? Rivals? Partners who became rivals? Partners who did this to make their estates easier to figure out down the road? Hard to argue to the Osborn kids they're owned the entire block.

Once again, the big window removed, probably to increase shelf space indoors:

Thanks to the Nebraska Historical Society, there’s an old view:

That’s 1974. Some downtown kept that 50s feel for a long time. It meant something to the locals; it stood for tradition.

Also, it was expensive to replace.

Below: what do you think this was?

Of course. It could be nothing else.

The facade seems a bit drawn-on, but that was the style of the cards. The Fox closed, replaced by . . .

Downtown movie theater, still in business? Lucky One indeed.

Take a stroll and enjoy.



Short work blog today, and an addition to Minneapolis Modern: a brand-new site on Southdale. It was screwed up last week, and I apologize; the entire thing is up now. Almost 30 pages! Enjoy! Have a fine day.



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