Saturday, October 27, 2007

Down Route 93

Singing along to Working Man's Cafe, I made it to Berlin in just about an hour. This time I chose to avoid the interstates and take old state route 93 which runs from Kenmore down through the Portage Lakes passing through several old Ohio canal towns. Once past Canal Fulton, the road was relatively empty. The fall trees were in the best color they are going to achieve this long drought-ridden autumn. This grey dreary day produced light rain intermittently, but no complaints here, as the fields and trees need even more than was produced today.

One of the themes in Ray Davies' new solo CD is the pervasiveness of American influences around the world. The title song long mourns the loss of places where working people used to hang out and chat, family owned places with counter tops and familiar faces. The singer goes to the shopping centre of town trying to find a place where he'll fit in among all the retail outlets:
Bought a pair of new designer pants
Where the fruit and veg man used to stand
I always used to see him there
Selling old apples and pears
The fast food franchises began to disappear as Route 93 headed into Ohio farm country. I looked everywhere for a cafe, but there were none to be found, only large tourist trap places selling mounds of Amish goods. There are no cafes, only Cheese Barns featuring "authentic Amish meals."

Going deep into Amish territory is like driving straight into Ohio's rural past. Every now and then a jarring sight comes into view: an Amish woman wrestling with an enormous gasoline powered lawn mower on a steep bank by the road.

A modern egg factory barn contains the non-organic egg producing caged hens that supply Sauder's Eggs. Don't they look happy? Read the description of how Sauder's produce their organic eggs as opposed to their non-organic eggs and then ask yourself why are people still buying eggs from chickens that eat pesticide laden feed, are shot with hormones, antibiotics, fungicides and herbicides?

Berlin, OH is a tourist center in the middle of Holmes county and you know you are there when suddenly the traffic starts to back up. Just around the corner is Zinck's fabric store, a mecca for the serious costumer looking for a variety of fabrics at bargain prices.

Driving back, I begin to count the fast food chains, noting that Subway has made the most inroads into Amish country. I wanted to take some photos, but the rain grew steadier and more determined, so instead I hunkered down inside the cab of my truck, singing along to Working Man's Cafe, the words starting to stay in my memory and the haunting tune now deeply ingrained in my psyche.
Everything around me feels unreal
Everywhere I go it looks and feels like America
We've really come a long way down this road
Improving our surroundings as we go
Changing our roots and culture...

1 comment:

Sebastian's Sister said...

Enjoyed your lively piece about driving down Route 93 to Berlin. Only thing missing is telling us about the fabrics you bought.