25 August 2009

You held your closed hand out to me, and you told me to guess what you had inside

Dari Ace, Erwin, TN

--a paragraph from Richard Ford's The Lay of the Land, one of the books I'm currently reading:

"The other distraction making movement into the Square near impossible is that the Historical Society, in a fit of Thanksgiving spirit and under the rubric of "Sharing Our Village Past," has converted the entire Square in front of the August Inn and the Post Office into a Pigrim Village Interpretative Center. Two Am. Civ. professors from Trenton State with time on their hands have constructed a replica Pilgrim town with three windowless, dirt-floor Pilgrim houses, trucked-in period barnyard animals, and lots of authentic buy unhandy Pilgrim implements, built a hand-adzed paled fence, laid in a subsistence garden and produced old-timey clothes and authentically inadequate footwear for the Pilgrims themselves. Inside the village they've installed a collection of young Pilgrims--a Negro Pilgrim, a Jewish female Pilgrim, a wheel-chair-bound Pilgrim, a Japanese Pilgrim with a learning disability, plus two or three ordinary kids--all of whom spend their days doing toilsome Pilgrim chores in drab, ill-fitting garments, chattering to themselves about rock videos while they hew logs, boil clothes, rip up sod, make soap in iron caldrons and spin more cloth, but now and then pausing to step forth, just like soap-opera characters on Christmas Day, to deliver loud declarations about the "first hard days of 1620" and how it's impossible to imagine the character and dedication of the first people and how our American stock was cured by tough times, blab, blab, blab, blab--all this to whoever might be idle enough to stop on the way to the liquor store to listen. Every night the young Pilgrims disappear to a motel out on Route 1, fill their bellies with pizza and smoke dope till their heads explode, and who'd blame them?"

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