Fields of Springs

by wjw on December 20, 2014

We are in Springfield, Mo., having previously passed through, or been within hailing distance of, Springfield, Penn., Springfield, Ohio, Springfield, Ind., and Springfield, Ill.  It’s like we’re on the Simpsons tour of the U.S.!

I noted that there were a lot of big gun stores in Indiana, just over the Illinois line, from which I gather that Illinois has more strict gun laws than Indiana.  If you live in Springfield (the one in Illinois) and want to kill someone properly, I guess you have to travel to Indiana, possibly to Springfield, for the correct firearm.

The highlight of the trip was viewing St. Louis’ Gateway Arch at twilight from a bridge over the Mississippi.  The arch, the sky, and the city behind were all varying shades of soft gray.  Monet could have painted it, or maybe Whistler, though the latter would have given it a pretentious title, like “Study in Gray and Taupe #4.”

We’re carrying a Saarinen chair in the car, and thought of introducing Eero Saarinen’s chair to Eero Saarinen’s arch.

There was a bit of fog and rain today after sunset, but it wasn’t Scary Weather like we had the previous two days.  The car is behaving incredibly well, even unto the wipers thereon.

The most evocative moment actually occurred yesterday, when we were lost (sort of) in Newtown, Conn., and wandered into an area full of neoclassical institutional buildings, all very large, all set out on a kind of campus.  Most of the buildings were in disrepair and showed signs of having been neglected for some time, though some had been converted to outposts of city government.  We wondered if it was an abandoned university (are there abandoned universities?), and wandered around a little, until we found a stately Roman portico inscribed with the words FAIRFIELD STATE HOSPITAL.

statehospAh.  This was one of the places where developmentally disabled people, and people with mental problems, were housed in Dickensian conditions until recent decades, when it was realized that it was cheaper to give them a prescription for antipsychotic medication and then throw them out into the world to perish on ice floes, or wherever else they ended up.

I would love to have poked around a little to view the Electrotherapy Wing and the Lobotomy Cave, but our schedule did not permit.

Would love to return, with a film crew.  Maybe someday.





bkd69 December 20, 2014 at 4:52 am

One of the old stories about why the Simpson’s town is Springfield, was that, allegedly, there’s a Springfield in every state in the nation.

And speaking of weapons and Springfields, Springfield rifles hail from Springfield, Massachusetts.

TRX December 20, 2014 at 4:55 pm

That’s similar to the architecture of the old Fort Roots Veteran’s Hospital in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Fort Roots has its own generators, water pumping station, motor pool buildings, etc… including a golf course for those stressed-out VA administrators. It’s entirely self-contained.

Most of the buildings are closed now. I think the main activity there now is paper-pushing.

Kathy December 21, 2014 at 8:55 am

If we reach Springfield OR, we will have gone too far.

TRX December 22, 2014 at 4:42 am

For some reason there’s not much originality in town names. You’ll not only see the same names in different states, but within a state, and occasionally within the same county. And within those towns there’ll be the usual grid of First St., Second St., Third St., etc., crossed by Pine St., Oak St. Elm St…. it’s no wonder the Post Office is hardnosed about ZIP codes.

Russia not only has a similar problem, but as well as their version of ZIP codes, they number cities. “Chelyabinsk-17” means there are at least 16 other cities of the same name…

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