Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fireworks, Underwear, Corn, and Car Hops

Okay, time to talk about the trip. It was wonderful, actually, a nice break from the hustle and bustle of my everyday life. A good chance for my son to get to know his grandparents better as well, spend some time with them in their environment. They live in a retirement community, and the first night we were there, the community had a small fireworks display in the parking lot. I’m not sure that was such a good idea, but they’d done it before and I hadn’t seen any fireworks yet this year, so off we went to join the line up of lawn chairs outside the main building. The fireworks were the kind that come in a can, and were pretty and not too loud, but it was windy out and two of them turned over, shooting fireworks into the crowd. Whoops! A little extra bang for your buck.

Fortunately, no one was hurt, but they might want to re-think that activity in the future. Afterward, as we walked back to the house on the street that circles the main building, I felt like I was walking amid in the Indy 500 of seated scooters. There must have been seven of them sedately rolling down the road, everyone talking and laughing in friendly camaraderie after our narrow escape from renegade fireworks up on the hill.

Our first sightseeing adventure was to the Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, where they have exhibits that change every so often. (For a link to previous exhibits that might be of interest, go here.) This trip they had one on medical instruments of the past, corn and its many uses, underwear through the ages, hot air balloons in the area, man’s best friend, Indian beadwork, and a particularly fun exhibit on Sioux Falls area drive in restaurants.

That one was my favorite, and inspired several ideas for the inspirational romantic suspense I am currently pulling together in my head. They had a booth with a table jukebox music selector, and you could play all the tunes you wanted from that era. There was a full size soda fountain counter, and every now and then, some machine puffed the smell of chocolate sundaes into the air. It’s too bad those burger joints with car hops on roller skates went the way of the dinosaur. I love to learn about people and their lives, and reading the memory book of people who worked and hung out there gave me all kinds of ideas for stories.

I also enjoyed learning all about underwear through the ages—and the beginnings of the various underwear companies in business today. Warner’s, Hanes, Bali, Maidenform, Joe Boxer, Fruit of the Loom, Jockey, and Victoria’s Secret. Some of the exhibits from the 70s and 80s I remember wearing, myself. Whoda thunk my unmentionables back then could some day end up in an historical exhibit?

I liked the one about corn, South Dakota’s largest cash crop, next. Never knew corn was in so many things, or that corn could be used for so much. Planting and harvesting techniques sure have changed over the years. In some cases, I’m not sure it’s for the better. Modern agribusiness companies seem to be driven to edge small family farmers right out of the American picture.

Sioux Falls also offers hot air balloon rides, and every evening we would notice a few floating in the sky, a sky with some of the prettiest sunsets to be seen. The flat landscape also provided a unique perspective on storms--one that came our way one evening I could see approaching from miles away. I simply stood there, fascinated, watching evening descend and lightning light up the sky both above and below the clouds--until individual bolts began to snake out of the sky and my son took my by the shoulders and moved me away from the window.

Sigh. It’s nice to be loved :).

Sioux Falls is known for two main service industries, and those are financial companies (you, know, where all those credit card applications in your mail come from), and hospitals. I think there are six in the area. I can’t believe how much of the local landscape has turned into housing developments in the three years since we were there. If you’re going to get sick, Sioux Falls is apparently a good place to do so. One of the first exhibits we went to see was the Sioux Empire Medical Museum, housed at Sanford Hospital. It included displays relating to medical history from the early 1900's through today. Nursing uniforms through the years, medical equipment, and photographs showed the changes in medicine over the years, and retired nurses who actually went through the Sioux Valley Hospital School of Nursing volunteered an abundance of information about each display. Personally, I winced at the display of glass catheters.

But I found the daily lives, life, personal accounts, and diaries of various nursing students who had gone through the program fascinating. Do you see a pattern here? I just love personal accounts of experiencing just about anything. I wish I could pick out one favorite fact to share with you, but there are too many to choose from.

I do know, however, that my next heroine will probably be a museum curator, and I’ll find a way to share my facts in her story.

In the meantime, have a blessed weekend.

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