2010.03.24 The obscure details

Written 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.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016