Diary entries for today across the several-county Many Persons Area probably sounded like ominous things forensic investigators find when they look through the room of someone who Snapped: It rained today. Again. Sometimes it seems like it’ll never stop.

I am happy with the rain. Why? Because I put down sod three weeks ago and it isn’t dead yet. Oh, it’s a bit low; the ground dips a bit where the sod was laid, even though I put down dirt. My wife pointed this out and I was tempted to say “that’s bad, because the Masters golf tournament is going to be held here next year,” but I didn’t. And that is why I have been married 26 years. It’s one thing to want a green lawn. It’s another entirely to want one that has no topographical variations. There’s a gully by the Doomed Ash, and I don’t care. There’s a lump back by the bushes and, oh, devil take the hindmost, flee in terror. There’s a rock in the middle of the yard that is, for all I know, forty feet across. I call it the Tommyknocker Rock. We see about 12 inches of rock. A request was made a few years ago to excavate it; every bite of the shovel revealed more rock, slanting away. I don’t like dead spots from dog pee, but an empty spot in the yard that owes its barrenness to a rock of incalculable size is something I like.

It was pushed here by glaciers. It deserves a rest. It’s like the rock in the Oak Island Water Feature, which is scheduled to begin its annual disappointment this weekend. The incompetent hacks who built the thing drilled a hole through a big rock that was sitting up in the landscaped area, and it was sitting there because it was too damned big to move. I had them repurpose it and drill it and now it gushes water. It too was pushed there by glaciers. It is big, but smooth; I cannot imagine the long processes that separated it from its bed and tumbled its along until it was almost polished by travel and the elements. At some point so very long ago it ended up in the spot that would be my yard, and the glaciers receded. It is made from matter expelled by an exploded star. Everything about it is miraculous.

Or so I said to my wife last weekend when she asked why the fountain wasn’t working. You’d be surprised how the long view and the wonder of deep time isn’t a good answer.

The topography of our neighborhood is all due to water, and lots of it - high ground quickly changing to low ground, emptying into the creek. Melted water carved this place and that. It’s humbling to realize you live in a time where this plot, this place, it’s the best it has ever been - not just the urban forest but the terraformed America with all its boon - homes, power, wifi, sewer, gracious adornments on every lawn. You could say it was one of the finest places on earth but the competition is extraordinary. Think of a great nature picture, say, a deep fjord, cliffs rising into the mist - the ones that grab you have a tiny red house at the bottom on the lake, and that makes all the difference. For some, anyway. Some regard humans as pests and interlopers, but as I’ve said before we’re the Heisenberg Factor. We change the state of nature simply by observing it. We give it meaning by calling it beautiful. Just like I gave that rock a good job when I paid some guy to drill a hole in it.

Anyway, if it would be dry tomorrow, that would be great. Sick of this.


Over the weekend I did some other minor tweaks and fixes in the deep recesses of the site, as well as begun the redesign of one of my favorite corners. And now and then I think, really, awww, who cares.

A couple of hours later I’m at the grocery store. A fellow walks up and says my name, says we’ve run into each other before. Did we exchange insurance information? Ha ha. He says he gave me the stuff for the French cuisine site, and enjoyed how that turned out. I said I’m working on the annual Motel Postcard site updates now.

“Great!” he said. “I love those.”

So here’s a wave to The Other James, who did the best heaven-sent atta-boy reaffirmation possible, because I just finished the Motel Postcards site!

He said, lying! It’s almost finished. I have six states to move over, including Texas - which has a Texas-sized portion of motels. Forty. That’s about 20 minutes of work, but it’s so boring I have to wait until it’s the last thing I have to do. It’s like this: copy the name of the motel; dump into a text file to strip the text formatting. Copy the descriptive text, which is in a different table and hence cannot be selected along with the name. Copy the Google Street view, if there is one; dump it in the new page, then add the other chunks of text. That’s all there is to it. But it’s dull. Now repeat that 250 times and you have the rest of the site.

Anyway, the URLs are the same. The 2014 cards have been absorbed into the main site, and the 2015 updates start here. Five per week through September.

Why do people like these? The artistry of the sign, when it’s done right. It’s a bygone style, and they were unique. Even the ones that swiped from Holiday Inn’s Great Sign had their own twist. Some of those signs were landmarks for the locals, and whatever replaced them was never - I repeat, never as good. The very idea of a substantial motel not connected with a chain. As the years rolled on Holiday Inn and the other chains imposed a charmless uniformity to their operations. While the 60s and 70s HIs were standardized, they were more attractive - the colored panels in the glassed-in walkways, for example. They looked like places of leisure and amusement, almost a destination in themselves. The best big independents had the same appeal, and the cards were proud to show you all they had. Dining! A pool! A bar, of course. Pause in your journey for a vacation en route to your vacation destination.

And, of course, nostalgia. Two kinds. The first is a recollection of something never experienced, but which had some attribute we find attractive and symbolic of the values of the era, which our time sorely lacks. This is the mistaken portion of the nostalgic appeal, since the reality was TVs on wobbly stands with rabbit ears. Amenities? Maybe an ice machine. Maybe. The other type of nostalgic is personal, a recollection of dim childhood memories, when a road trip was fun but the part with the pool and the hamburgers and the drinking cups wrapped in paper and the little soap and TV with DIFFERENT CHANNELS and maybe even that most amazing thing, a radio built right into the wall - well, it’s one of my happiest memories, and perhaps the same goes for you.

They begin at the conclusion of today’s entry.

Another look at the items of yesterday found in the rooms of . . .

Seems apt for today.

It's empty. This returns it to its original state, except it doesn't. Take an empty book, fill it with postcards, then remove them so you see bits of torn paper and dark blots of glue, and now it's emptier than it was before. Because it used to be full.

It was an autobiography of sorts, but the story was erased.




Behold: the age of gilded prosperity. Looks good.

You can imagine Frank Reader Jr.'s Steam-Powered Ponies high-stepping down the street. So how's the rest of the town?

The OIOOF, or Obligatory International Order of Odd Fellows building. Quite the interesting corner window - I have literally never seen that in any structure of its era. Where's the corner beam?

Why did it have a tower? What did they do up there?

Strip it down, run stone along the windows, angle in the storefronts, add that early-50s marble along the bottom, and bingo: instant post-war commercial structure.

I'll bet each of the stores had thier own sign.

But sir, they've designed the building. They've finished the framework and they say they can't stuck a square bay on the corner. Dammit, Parsons, I'm paying for it, I'll get it.

It's interesting, and better than nothing, but it's also not very good.

Perfectly rehabbed. Not a note or color out of place.

For once I endorse the trees.

Trees work nicely here, too. Otherwise . . .

. . . otherwise it's not a happy sight. Although the bricks do look like a representation of a badly fragmented hard drive.

Of course, the columned bank. It's Corinthian, which means they were rolling in lucre:

It's still a bank - a good sign for the town.

From 1891, Mr. Ulrich's contribution to Columbus:

From this site on Columbus history:

Originally facing Franklin Street, Fredrick Ulrich was a baker who supplied the Union Army with bread during the Civil War. It was remodeled in 1891 to face 4th Street. It has been home to many Columbus businesses including the White Star Meat Market. The exterior has been restored to its 1891 look.

How long was Fredrick facing Franklin Street? Must have got boring after a while.

How the hell do you remodel a building so it faces a different street? I think the original portion was on Franklin, and the addition reoriented the building on Franklin.

Everything in the world wrong with the architecture of the late 60s / early 70s, Government Buildings in particular:

Those bricked arches. The overhang. The thin windows. The ribbed concrete. Nothing aged well.

Finally: hoooooray:

Its site begins the history portion thus:

Exact origins of Crump's Opera Hall/Theatre are debated among certain circles at this point in time, with both "Opera Hall and Theatre" lumped into one generalized category. Checking different sites on the internet, you'll find some say the Crump began its operations in 1874. Where this date originated, I am uncertain. The date is definitely not right.

If you want to get down to those proverbial brass tacks, it all depends on whether you are talking about "Crump's Opera Hall," or "J. S. Crump's New Theatre."


Peeve: there aren't any proverbs about brass tacks. It has an exhaustive Wikipedia page, if you're interested. If you aren't, consider this: it's HAUNTED!

The Crump Theatre was investigated by Hoosier Paranormal Research in 2006. While there, they captured several instances of Electronic voice phenomenon. It was later discovered that one of the businesses next door to the Crump Theatre was a mortuary. In a later renovation of the theater the area that used to be the mortuary was merged into the theater. It was documented that the EVPs were recorded in this area of the Crump Theatre.

Suuuure. Who needs them? Every downtown has ghosts aplenty.

I'd say "that's it" but it's not: we begin Motel Season, right now. See you around.


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