For more signs, see: http://ceenphotography.com/2015/04/30/cees-black-white-photo-challenge-signs/
If you haven’t heard of Wall Drug, you probably have never been to South Dakota. Signs for one of the world’s oldest and best known tourist traps are spread out across the state and surrounding states as well as such far-flung locations as Antarctica, Afghanistan and Italy. For me, it was an exciting stop along the only vacation route taken by my family for most of my young life, for Wall was stationed smack dab on Highway 16 between my even smaller town of Murdo, South Dakota and the Black Hills, where our summer vacation usually consisted of an overnight stay in “The Deer Huts” after taking one of my older sisters to the Methodist Youth Camp a few miles away.
The excitement of the Deer Huts consisted mainly of the fact that the bathrooms were all outside–little wooden enclosures marked by a half moon that my mother hated and I adored. I loved the nighttime trip up the hill with a flashlight and the strangely reassuring sound of what had once been a part of my body making its dark descent down the long vertical tunnel–as though it was having an adventure of its own. I loved the threat of animals watching me in the dark as I made my way back to the log cabin. It was about as exotic as my life ever got before I finally left home for college at age eighteen and life really began. But I digress, for the true adventure that wound up at the Deer Huts always began when we got to the badlands–a series of sandstone hills and gullies that furnished the background for many a cowboy movie of the fifties. Then, shortly after the badlands, came Wall Drug!.
You can read the full story of Wall Drug HERE. If you are pressed for time, however, I will give you the shortened version. The whole phenomena of a drugstore in a small town of under 300 on a godforsaken prairie in the middle of nowhere started in 1931 with a suggestion by the wife of the owner that they put up signs offering free water. From there, the promotions grew into singing automated cowboy orchestras, stuffed longhorn cattle, a life-sized dinosaur, chapels, souvenir shops, other automated scenes, a restaurant offering such South Dakota fare as hot beef sandwiches complete with mashed potatoes and white bread swimming in brown gravy, homemade rolls, cherry pie and 5 cent cups of coffee with free coffee and donuts offered to soldiers, ministers, and truck drivers.
I have pictures of me at age eight and age sixty-six, standing by a huge stuffed longhorn steer, bravely touching the horn. The last picture was taken as my childhood friend Rita and I took our last long nostalgic trip across South Dakota. In the Wall Drug Cafe, we shared a hot beef sandwich, a cinnamon roll and a piece of cherry pie for old time’s sake, put a quarter in the slots to see the singing cowboys creak into action, still in tune after almost sixty years.
In this more sophisticated age, folks still stop at Wall Drug. It’s possible their teenagers remain in the car, texting their friends or playing computer games with the air conditioning cranked up to dispel the scorching South Dakota summer sun, but I bet the little kids as well as the bigger kids who are their folks or grandfolks still wander the block-square expanses of Wall Drug, looking for thrills from another age and time. And somewhere within its cluster of rooms and passageways, Grandma can still buy an aspirin or get a prescription filled, then get a free glass of water to swallow it down with, Grandpa can still get a five cent cup of coffee and a little kid can taste his first delicious mouthful of South Dakota Black Angus beef, swimming in gravy and surrounded by reassuring slices of Sunbeam white bread and mashed potatoes.
The Prompt: Tourist Trap: What’s your dream tourist destination — either a place you’ve been and loved,https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/tourist-trap/ or a place you’d love to visit? What about it speaks to you?
The Prompt: Quickly list five things you’d like to change in your life. Now, write a post about a day in your life once all five have been crossed off your to-do list:
Find an agent/publisher
Get all children’s books published
Write a line of adult picture books
Find someone to dance with
Fulfilling all these book orders just seems to keep me hopping.
Without the time to cook or shop, my weight just keeps on dropping.
My clothes just hang around me, from my body they keep flopping.
I’d buy some smaller ones if I just had the time for shopping!
Five children’s books are published and my agents want some more.
My grief book they can’t keep in stock—It flies right out the door.
Libraries and bookstores just keep clamoring for more,
and still my weight keeps dropping till it’s really quite a bore.
Now that I am skinny—lithe and trim and toned,
no one has to make excuses that I’m just big-boned.
And I must wrap this up soon for a suitor has just phoned
who wants to take me dancing—so perhaps I should be cloned.
Then one of me can write that line of adult storybooks,
while the other stays at home and plans my meals and cooks.
The third has time to shop for clothes and tend to things like “looks,”
and the other goes out dancing with a brand new beau named “Snooks.”
As you can see, my rhyming prowess now is wearing thin.
The last word of that last stanza I admit is just a sin.
Frazzled and with much to do, I’ve broken out the gin,
fell off my pool ladder and badly bruised my shin!
Okay, I’m really hard up for more sentences that rhyme,
so I think that I’ll stop now and just write another time.
Perhaps tomorrow I can write of something more sublime.
But for now, I think my drink could use a squeeze of lime.
Our goals just keep us going—they propel us through this life
and keep attention focused through the problems and the strife.
I’ve always kept on working as both single girl and wife,
slicing through my problems with my words used as a knife
to trim the boredom from my life and go wherever I please,
to make my living with my wit instead of on my knees.
Taking care to always mind my q’s as well as p’s.
and extract all the fun from life that I have found to seize.
Now that my life is near its end and I’ve time to reflect,
I do not choose to pray about it or to genuflect.
I don’t crave meditation or to join a church or sect.
I‘ll find my own atonement and a way to resurrect.
I’ll do it through my writing, for I’ve found that is the key
to figuring my pathway while remaining true to me.
I’m just as I have written. I’m exactly as you see.
My words have all been written, and I’m finished—“a” to “z.”
Since Ray Bradbury wrote of one in “There Will Come Soft Rains,”
the list of things robots can do seems to have made great gains.
Some are made to wash our hair. Others shave our heads.
They build our houses, clean our floors and even make our beds.
I grant that it is handy that there’s one that scoops dog poop,
and one to stop our snoring, another to cook soup.
Lonely? One shoots billiards and perhaps it lets you win;
but do not gamble with it, for I hear it cheats at gin.
It’s great that there’s a robot that lifts patients out of bed,
but since I am still mobile, I have other needs instead.
I want a robot that can read and surf the internet
to send out my submissions and to guarantee I’ll get
an agent and a publisher to dispense all my writing
and send it to reviewers so my words they would be citing!
Send it out to libraries, to Amazon and Kindles.
Keep track of my royalties so there would be no swindles.
In short, I want a robot that will publicize and fight
so all this writer has to do is write and write and write.
As far-fetched as these robots sound, they are all based on reality. For more information, go to: http://mentalfloss.com/article/30898/10-robots-very-specific-tasks
The Prompt: Work? Optional!—If money were out of the equation, would you still work? If yes, why, and how much? If not, what would you do with your free time?
Since I am already retired and spend most of my day making art and writing, I guess my answer is yes. I do it because I feel it is my reason for living and without that work, life seems to lose its importance. I do it because it forces me to look closer and to think more deeply. I do it pretty much every minute I’m not sleeping. Really, I always did what I wanted to do without taking into consideration what would sell and that still seems to be the case since I’m not getting wealthy on what I do, but I swore when I retired that I would stop doing all those parts of making art that I hated: the applying for shows, the promotion, the pictures, the resumes, the mailing lists. Now I just enjoy the creation and if I am sending them out to an unaccepting universe, nonetheless, I’m having the experience of creating, which any serious writer or artist will tell you is the most important part and why we really do what we do.
Today is my 221st post, and since it is a short one, please scroll back and read an earlier post you haven’t read before and if you have the time, please comment.
Thank you for reading my blog. Although yes, I do it for myself, I can’t help but feel gratified when others find what I write to be of consequence or enjoyable. Judy
Remember Morrie Amsterdam, and Dick Van Dyke and Sally?
So clever and so erudite, and humorous and pally?
They had such fun as writers for a fictional TV show
(I can’t recall the name of it, but one of you will know.)
If that is what inspired the thought, I guess I’ll never know,
but I’ve always wished that I could be staff-writer for a show.
Such fun it would be, trading thoughts and quips and puns and jokes
and putting them into a show for entertaining folks.
Week after week to do this, would be a joy, I thought—
turning out those funny shows with plots so finely wrought.
But I had not a clue of how such jobs as this were got.
The route to such careers was something I was never taught.
I college I took every class in writing I could find.
I loved this pressure to use words to show what’s on my mind.
Sometimes the words came easy and sometimes they came hard.
I had a few successes, although no one called me bard.
In those days before the Internet, I don’t know how I came
to hear about these contests where we were asked to name
new products such as cereal and milk and a new shoe
and several other things as well, I just recall a few.
All-in-all, I think I entered six or more for fun.
Months later came the envelopes that said that I had won
first prize to name two products—and earned $25 for each.
Never had I expected such heights of fame to reach!
I took my best friends out to dine to celebrate my win
and we drank Golden Cadillacs (and probably sloe gin)
and wined and dined until we’d spent the sum of all the cash
I won by writing ad copy—a celebratory bash.
I know if I dug deep enough that surely I could find
the names of all those products in the corners of my mind.
“Vita-Man the Space Age Cowboy,” was one winning entry’s name.
His purpose to sell milk, although he never reached much fame.
This was the late sixties with skirts short or to the floor
and I recall one shoe line that I wrote a ditty for:
Mini-mums and Maxi-mums were names I thought were nice.
“A maximum of comfort for a minimum in price.”
This one was not a winner, but the reason I can quote it
is because they used it anyway–exactly as I wrote it.
The other one I won was for a cereal you’d know well;
I know you won’t believe me, so I’m not going to tell.
It became so famous that it’s still there on the shelf,
though I’m the only one who knows I named it all myself.
Still, this is where my fame resides—in stores from shore-to-shore
and that is how my name came to be writ in grocery lore!
So now my deepest secret’s out. The world will know my plight—
that advertising or TV is what I wished to write.
You’d think that watching “Mad Men” would cure me, wouldn’t you?
and it might, but for the glory of that cereal and that shoe!!!!
The Prompt: Back of the Queue—Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but never got around to starting (an activity, a hobby, or anything else, really)? Tell us about it — and tell us about what’s keeping you from doing it.