Did I mention that it snowed on Monday? Because it did. Just a few taunting flakes along with the sleeting rain. It mocks the flowering trees, literally spits on the tulips. It’s happened before. You think of those horror movies where the monster is dead but NO it pops up one last time? Like that, except the credits ran, the lights went up, you left the theater, walked to your car, left the lot, turned on to the highway, and THEN were required to go back to the theater to watch the monster make one last stand.

Well, it got warmer, and I’m sitting outside amidst hoses and dirt and muddy paw prints. Workmen came by to patch and seed, and started off our annual fun-fest by knocking over a terra-cotta pot my wife had carefully arranged with flowers. The crew chief took a picture and forwarded it to his boss who called me to say he was sorry, but, well, your yard is larger than normal, and it’s going to take them more than two hours to do the job, probably three, so . . .

So . . . I said I’d ask my wife, because men understand one does not casually trade her busted pot for an hour of labor without asking her what the pot was worth.

(I got the better of the deal)

When I came back from Reno I was exhausted, but couldn’t sleep right away. Eventually I laid down and was gone, pitched into the most extraordinary culmination of domestic anxieties you could imagine. I returned to the house to find a party in progress, with every counter heaped with dishes and plates and pots and glasses and various party rubbish. I like to keep clean countertops, so this was annoying.

Then the dog got out through a hole in the fence. That’s #2. When I noticed how he got out I saw that there was a part of the fence that was missing. The fence has some weak spots and is being repaired this month’ that’s #3.

Then I noticed that the gazebo was missing.

That would be #4.

When I went through the open spot in the fence I saw various pieces of it disassembled on the ground, along with uprooted bushes. There was a construction crew doing work on the next house, and I looked for the crew chief; it was a woman. I really gave her the business: why the hell did you take down my gazebo?

I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to, she yelled back.

I’m sorry, you’re working on this house, and you go into my yard and take apart the gazebo? And pull out my bushes?

I storm back into the house to tell everyone what had happened, and discovered that all the pizza had been eaten. That’s #5. This is the worst day ever now - except here comes the head of the construction company to apologize, and he’s a cliched Italian guy with a bushy mostache, and he says he’s-a gonna build me a bee-yoo-tiful-a gazebo, eh? Tell me how you-a wan’ it to look.

I went with screened windows, and made a point that the screens should be set into the frame at least an inch. He took notes and said it would be done.

That was Friday. I haven’t heard a word from him since.

In Reno I encountered . . . this:

It’s the work of Bailey Bozalis Dickinson and Roloff, who did another gold geodesic dome in OKC.

I never saw the point of these. I mean, they look futuristic, and they have some advantages when it comes to bearing heavy loads, but they look as if they should be on the Moon in 1972, and that’s it.

Googling around led to a page on the Space-Age Architecture of OKC, here; some of it I just love. As a little kid I’d see pictures of these places in magazines or on TV and think: that’s the future, when we have robots and space stations. It’s going to be so cool.





In the beginning it was known as "Lower Saginaw." Not a name that stirs the blood, so it was renamed in 1850s.

About 34,000 souls.Town motto: "A Beautiful View . . . Of Life"

Let's begin our two-week tour. I'd like to think Virgil A. LaPorte had a shorter brother who bullied him as a kid:

From a story about its flagpole:

The rooftop of downtown Bay City's Virgil A. LaPorte Building still bears a lonely, unadorned flagpole, roughly 10 months after the last American flag to fly atop the structure came down, tattered and torn, in late December.

But Tom LaPorte, owner of the building, hopes it won't stay that way for too much longer.

The building stayed in the family. Nice.

Two old souls. Haven't spoken to each other since '56.

Something happened on the far right; something fell or burned.

It's as if they rehabbed it ten years after they built it.

The architect may have come back from London and had some ideas.

Based on the hue and the materials, I'd say . . . Woolworth's? Googling . . . no sir. A Kresge's.

There's an English rationality and calmness I like. Too much would be boring, but one or two brings a confident sobriety to the street.


More metal / porcelain renovation at complete odds with the rest of the building, but . . .

You really don't care because the renovation is interesting.

You always wonder if the old city fathers would see this and think "who the hell's in charge of keeping trees from growing downtown? The very idea's ridiculous."

What I said about too much rationality leading to monotony:

It's impressive, though. I suspect it was a speculative building. Wonder if the investors made their money back while they were all alive.

No mistaking the crisp, authoritative appeal of American Fascist Architecture:

Of course, it's not fascist at all. But if we had gone Fascist in the 30s, would the archtecture have looked any different?

Buckaroo Revival with bricked-up windows. It was a lovely building once - the windows must have given it a certain lightness.

Makes you ask: was there a horrible national glass shortage? No: an energy crisis. Windows leaked heat, and we were running out of oil!

Seal everything up! Now!

Opened as the Bijou in 1908, but of course it didn't looke like this.

Cinema Treasures:

In 1930, architect C. Howard Crane was hired to gut and rebuild the interior of the theatre which he did in an Art Deco/Mayan aesthetic.

Boy, did he ever. But believe it or not: that's not the original marquee.


Or is it?

More next week: there's a lot in this town.


Well, look what's back in time for open-road season. Two per week for the next few months - slow start, but it'll get nifty soon enough. See you around!


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