A few days ago I went through the self-checkout line at CUfB grocery store, disappointed as usual at the lack of a full-length mirror for checking out one’s self, but also somewhat glad, since you have an idea of yourself in your head and it’s always disappointing to have it negated by the facts. As usual, I put the plastic containers of fruit into a plastic bag. When you put them in the paper bag or reusable tote, they move around, pop open, and you get fruit everywhere. Put them in a plastic bag, draw it tight, cinch it; no problem.

The other day at Target I was at self-checkout, and as usual, I put the shampoo in the plastic bag. The bottle lid might pop open and get shampoo everywhere.

These two things happened two days apart, and each was characterized by the same problem: I forgot the plastic bags, both times. They’re hanging on a metal rack, I’m busy stuffing the bags and paying, trying to get out of there and free up a space, and my brain just erased the existence of both bags until I got home.

Did I go back? Of course I went back. I had the receipts, but that doesn’t mean anything. You could take the stuff home, then go back and say you forgot it. If the next person took your stuff, where’s the proof?

In the case of CUfB - okay, Cub, if you’re new to this site, but that stands for Consumers United for Bargains, so, CUfB - the clerk took my word for it right away, and bade me to get some more produce. At Target, they remembered seeing the shampoo, and were surprised it had already been restocked. I went back to get more, showed it to the nice people at Guest Services, and, having been serviced, I left.

I might have been excused the shampoo incident, since I was a big frazzled. Birch the Dog started barking early this morning, growls and warnings, and when I heard a chainsaw I groaned and looked at the clock. Let’s just say it was before 7:45, which I believe is fifteen minutes before you can assume everyone’s up. Looked out - a big truck, two guys, utility work. Peeved, I went outside and said something unanswerable: So is there a time before which you guys won’t rev the chain saws?

I mean, it’s answerable, but you’re going to get a whuh?

Made them promise to wait until 8 tomorrow. Me, I think any sort of loud noise before 9 is untoward and uncivil. Not everyone leaps from bed at 5 AM so they can get some treadmill time in before heading to the office so they’ll be at their desk at 8.

I’m at my desk by 8:15, but it’s in my house.

Anyway, another desultory column-night Bleat, soon to be saved by . . . the Dept. of Miscellany! Why, it's a Train Ad.


I don't have much of an excuse for running this. It was originally set to run as a Hiatus day, but c'mon. This isn't enough for a single Bleat. It probably should go in Product. Now do you understand the dilemmas I face?

Anyway. The observation car, which generates little revenue, but keeps people from going stir-crazy.

Although you'd still go stir-crazy.

The City of Miami had appropriate decor, and each of the seven cars had a name. This was either the Japonica, Hibiscus, or Poinsettia.

The Bamboo Grove. it looks so spacious.

The key to making it all seem bigger: put people in the foreground.

The Palm Garden dining car. Note that the ad isn't for a particular railway, but Pullman, the company that built the cars.

So if you were in the market for a train, you'd think "what was that ad I saw? Yankman? Pushsir? Something like that."

Wikipedia: "A high standard of service was maintained right up to May 1, 1971, when Amtrak took over and dropped the City of Miami and reinstated the South Wind on the Chicago-Florida route."

The South Wind was renamed. Alas:

The Floridian was notorious for lackluster on-time performance, owing to the poor condition of equipment inherited from the private railroads, and equally poor track conditions.

Amtrak discontinued the Floridian in October 1979, leaving Louisville and Nashville without passenger train service, two of the largest such cities in the nation to have this distinction.

I miss them, but not that much.


Oh, and speaking of Miami . . .



After last week’s remarkable structures, it’s time to remind ourselves that modern theorists ruined everything. Everything.


To tell you the truth, I can’t make out what it says. And I know what it says.”

It’s a replica.

In the early 1900s a steel arch greeted visitors entering Miami (by train), as it spanned East Central Avenue (between C and D Streets) next to the railway station. It was the "Gateway". The arch was removed in the 1930s.

As part of the city's project to reinforce its Route 66 roots, a replica of the classic steel structure was planned in 2007. It was built and finally erected by Heck and Wicker Inc. in July 2012, but now on Main Street.

The new steel structure with a triangular top, proclaims to all visitors "The Gateway, Miami, Okla."

If you say so.


Looks like a serious middle-sized small town.

Miami began in an unusual way, compared to other towns in Indian Territory. Per the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture "... it was settled in a business-like way by men of vision who looked into the future and saw possibilities. It didn't just grow. It was carefully planned.” Population: over 13K. Main industry in its boom years - well, we’ll get to that.

This looks solid, but also underpopulated. The boom’s over; the turnpike bypass did its work decades ago. What’s left?


Everything but a population, it seems.

Now and then the world looks like a Google photo-stitching error.


Who was the man who built a one-story structure whose tall windows made it seem as if it really wanted to be two, or at least accommodate 8-foot humanoids?



The latter. This obit, I believe, points to the man, or his father.


Let’s mosey down the street . . . well, that’s regrettable. Was it a car showroom? Seems so.


Say, what’s that on the stone . . .


Huh. Big wheels in Miami, it seems; movers and/or shakers. And then the years move them out of the way, and the name doesn't mean anything to anyone.

The logo for the store is a snowman on a sled-saucer! No, of course not.

I’d bet it was a department store:

A stately piece of work; tidy and prosperous.


CORBETT, eh. Well. There was a Corbett family that co-owned a local mine, and man, it gets wooly. There’s something about smallish towns and mines.




The picture, by the way, is old. Today? It’s the Venue29!


Someone was reeeeeeally proud of this:


I’m sure it’s an optical illusion, a distortion due to the angle, but if it really looked like this you could drive people nuts asking how two symmetrical sides could have dissimilar awning sizes.

OUMB, or Obligatory Ugly Modern Bank.


It’s quite the collision of ill-informed choices.

I really don’t know how to read this. An old Deadwood-era building given a 1920s rehab?

Ah, but you’ve only seen the least of it. Next week it gets very interesting.

That'll do; Motels await. See you around.



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