2011.06.22 Trying to capture the "Essence of Morenci"

Written by David Green.


Kym Ries and I leave for New Orleans Thursday. We’ll be attending the American Library Association Annual Conference to present a summary of the “Picturing New York...in a tiny Midwest town” program the library hosted in November. 

Five of the 30 libraries that won an ALA grant for programming related to the Picturing America collection were selected to showcase their program during a conference session, “NEH’s Picturing America: Model Programs for Public Libraries.” 

I vacillate between thinking it’s going to be so much fun telling everyone who attends the session about Kym’s cool idea (to use all the posters in the National Endowment for the Humanities Picturing America collection that have anything to do with New York City) and wanting to throw up at the prospect of talking in front of all the people who attend. 

And, then, I worry, will anyone even attend? I worry even more...will I get the darn PowerPoint presentation done in time? It’s late Monday night and I need to have it e-mailed to the Project Director of the ALA’s Public Program Office by 5 p.m. At least, I assume she means 5 p.m.

First she said she needed the presentation by Tuesday. I had planned to have it done by Sunday night and e-mailed by Monday. But then I got an ocular migraine around midnight, just when I was really hitting my stride. 

Ocular migraines don’t hurt, at least not my variety, but they make you see funny things. It’s kind of like the peripheral vision test the Secretary of State gives when you renew your driver’s license or when you go for an eye exam at Dr. Cable’s office and they take you into that little room, give you a button gizmo to press and make you look into some kind of machine that periodically flashes these weird lines. You press the button every time you see the lines.

Flashing weird lines...that’s what I see all the time when I get an ocular migraine and I can’t really read or see well enough to work on the computer. So, I was totally done for and had to just go to bed. At midnight...when the night was still young. That meant I had to ask what time Tuesday the presentation had to be submitted.

The Project Director wrote back, “By the end of the day would be fine...” and I laughed out loud. 

“Lady,” I wanted to say, “The end of the day is right about 3 or 4 a.m. for me.” I wrote her to that effect and she wrote back Tuesday morning saying, realistically, she wouldn’t look at the file anyway at 5 p.m.

“So it would be fine if you send it whenever your day ends, and I’ll have it first thing tomorrow.”

That was great news to wake up to after going to bed at 7 a.m. But it also means, without a sharp Tuesday deadline, I will tinker and tinker and tinker and be up to all hours. 

It’s really a short presentation—each library is limited to 15 minutes—but there is so much to pack in about the program. And then the ALA project director suggested I start off talking a bit about Morenci. That meant I had to toss in a few photos to illustrate the essence of Morenci. 

I was hoping to take a photo of one of those huge tractors that come through town, parked at the light in front of the bank. I thought that would capture the town and country theme exemplified even in our festival, the wonderful architecture of our older buildings, the “one stoplight” size of our town

It got me thinking about what is quintessentially Morenci. Back when the trees almost formed a canopy over Main Street, I loved to return home from vacations and drive in from the west and see those trees. The trees of Morenci were a real drawing card for me. 

Then when I walked out of the library to take photos, I noticed the Fireworks Fund thermometer painted on the front window of Rural Urban Insurance and the names of all those who donated. 

And, it hit me that the essence of this town is the people—the incredibly giving and helpful people who rally behind causes, who pull together in the face of both adversity and good fortune, who devote time and energy to make things happen to enrich the lives of others.

People like Kym Ries.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • 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.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.

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