2010.03.24 The obscure details

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN
Obscura Day has come and gone. It never really came to this area, but it’s surely gone. However, there’s always next year.
One of those internet searches that takes you from place to place to place took me to Atlas Obscura a few weeks ago.
The website is described as a compendium of the world’s wonders, curiosities and esoterica. There might as well have been a note at the top of the page: “Hey, David Green, this is your sort of thing. Stop here!”
That’s right. It’s so much my sort of thing that, as I mentioned last week, I went to pay homage to the Atlas Obscura people when I was in New York City recently, only to discover that the “office” was someone’s apartment and that someone had moved away.
That was disappointing, but the odyssey took me to Grand Army Plaza, and for a boy from Morenci, that’s a world wonder.
When I think of curious esoterica, I’m reminded of one of my all-time favorite movies, “The English Patient,” and more specifically, of when Kip takes Hana to the dark church and winches her into the air with a rope harness he made. Upward she went, with a flaming flare in her hand to illuminate the artwork on the walls.
What an experience. That’s a guy to hang out with. He knows how to have a good time.
What is there around here to compare? I’ve walked the path along Bean Creek in the dark without a light. I’ve crawled under a railroad trestle while a train went overhead. I hunted the small mouth salamander alone in the dark with only a headlamp.
None of those experiences would make it into Atlas Obscura, but here’s one. Geocaching took me to Hillsdale County in search of the Silas Doty cave. This was the most astounding experience I’ve had in this area since I don’t know how long. I’m following a path, I take a turn to the left and it was as if I was instantly transported to a different part of the country.
The Silas Doty Cave will be on my agenda when I organize an Obscura Day event for Morenci. I wanted to participate last Saturday, but got hung up on what to include.
With the two-headed calf long gone, what do we have for our esoteric claim to fame?
Let me take you to the atlas for a moment. I’ll select “Take me to a random place” and see what comes up.
• The Owakudani Black Eggs: Legend holds that eating just one of these black eggs can add seven years to one’s life(Hakone, Japan).
• Mirny (Russia) Diamond Mine: The world’s second largest hole.
• Kelley’s Island (Ohio) Glacial Grooves:  Deep scars on the Earth left by the Ice Age.
• Mary Nohl House: A house and yard adorned with bizarre concrete sculptures in a Milwaukee suburb.
• Blythe Intaglios: Ancient human, animal and geometric figures drawn in the earth (Blythe, Calif.).
• Warther Museum: The spectacular collection of one of the world’s best woodcarvers (Dover, Ohio).
So you get the picture. There are some natural wonders, some oddities created by humans and some places that are just interesting to experience.
Because I failed to place Morenci in the Obscura Day lineup, I created a quick YouTube video showing the oddities in the Observer office. The monkey mask, the Robert Ritsema photo, the tube of Imperial Vitaflux for the Linotype, the printing plate showing Cosmic Curt, a handsome turtle shell, a news rack with the last edition of the Fayette Review, the amazing doughnuts that never disintegrate, a leaf from Woody Hibbard’s empress tree, bathroom art by Eric Wood, an official Taft Highway road sign from the 1930s, a collection of children’s toys, a bag of maple leaves used to conceal the Observer geocache, an autographed photo of Billy Joe DuPree (a fake?), great blue heron art piece with cattail seed background from my grandmother, and an old Pepsi bottle next to an old Seagram’s 7 bottle that must have helped some editor of the past make it through the week.

I’m accepting ideas for next year. Bill Lampe’s champion sycamore? The old pump station down the cemetery hill? Whatever happened to that two-headed calf?

  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rock Study
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