Wednesday, April 15, 2009

getting back to the erie canal

That guy with the heads on the bench is Kevin Titzer, an Evansville native who makes some pretty great stuff in the workshop his grandfather built, using hand tools, lots of tiny nails and a dark sense of humor.  Most of the materials come from the nearby Ohio River, at a spot where things wash up for him to bring home and recycle.  The heads he then makes might strike some (not us) as disturbing.  Ticks, bees and stigmata were some of the themes in the ones we saw here. Originally, he told us, he felt strange making art when most of his relatives lived blue-collar lives, but he's come to see that it's just another way of working with your hands.  

Kevin and his girlfriend MJ were terrific hosts, pouring strong coffee, and serving up pie that she made from an old family recipe.  Though we meant to bring a dessert of our own (as seen here yesterday) we had to admit that it never quite made it.  When all this gets to TV, perhaps you'll see why.

Much of the time today was spent reliving Don's previous trip to the Evansville area--in 1972 when he attended the ill-fated Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival .  It was supposed to be the Midwestern Woodstock, but with 300,000 people and 2 port-a-potties, things didn't go so well. The crowd eventually burned down the stage, though Don was gone by then. 
In his honor, we drove down some of the same roads near the Wabash River, including one that took us to the charming little town of New Harmony.  Supposedly the Archangel Gabriel left a footprint there in 1838, but it's not on public display anymore.  Not one, but two utopian communities failed there, though it's still picturesque as all get out.

Our last stop of the day was north of Evansville, in the tiny town of Buckskin, home to the Loneliest Museum in America.  That's what someone called James Henager's uh, somewhat random collection of Memories & Nostalgia.  Sadly, he had no Erie Canal Fest souvenirs, but there was a Brewer & Shipley 8 track tape, a scary Smokey the Bear TV clip, and lots of Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassady and other western movie memorabilia.  Also, things from the baseball film, "A League of Their Own".   His display of old automotive oil filters didn't leave us breathless, but we agree that history shouldn't be stuffy, and since he's put it together upstairs from his cabinet shop on virtually no budget at all, why complain?  And Don's $2 in the donation box may be the first such bill the museum's yet seen.

No music in the van today, just stories about who Don saw at the festival-- basically it was Cheech & Chong, Ravi Shankar & Pure Prairie League (separately, not together.)  And eating some Dinty Moore Beef Stew.  He wasn't a vegetarian then.  Oh, and another fine change-finding day--75 cents behind the newspaper rack!

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