Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Day: Here's To Change

Barbara and I drove four hundred or so miles to Macomb, Illinois, home of Western Illinois University, formerly home of a bunch of stuff, formerly home to me. We celebrated Thanksgiving Day with brother, sisters, cousins, mother, aunt, family friends, and various children, diapered to diapering.

Mom has moved to an apartment, and manged to sell the house. We loaded two rented trucks, and various cars. Then we took things to a megachurch secondhand store, and the dump. Well, the dump was closed. We’d never heard of a dump closed on Thanksgiving, so rather than put the garbage on top of another pile of garbage at the bottom of a fifteen-foot cliff, and risk blind justice and twenty-seven color glossy photos with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, and all the rest, we went down the alleys, distributing the garbage in the dumpsters behind student apartments. Payback is sweet. And the students were out of town, at their own Thanksgivings.

I got some of my dad's jazz records, a copy of Catch-22 that he had stuffed with newspaper clippings, a bunch of lamps that I didn’t want, and a fairly new leather sofa. I also brought back a desk that my Aunt Elizabeth had bequeathed me. It was locally made, around 1920, from a cherry tree that grew at the family woods.

I took the pictures in Macomb, or on the way back. There still are profitable, local businesses in Macomb, but the damage done by chains and franchises, concentrated wealth, offshoring, and military extravagance are evident. If you go one county seat west, every last one of the buildings facing that courthouse is empty. A few years past-peak, and Macomb will look the same. All those buildings -- plumbed heated and wired -- all those unemployed people and people toiling to burn oil and make somebody else rich. What a waste.

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