Highway 36 Unvisited

The daughter and I have, for many years, been talking about “The Father-Daughter Road Trip”. Once the son is driving, this will be followed up by “The Father-Son Road Trip”.

The daughter and I have been dreaming of back-roads, two-lanes, America’s great literary/cultural/musical sites. Eat in the greasy diners. Stay in the seedy motels.

This being the land of the road trip (and the home of the brave) ,there are any number of highways competing for our attention.

For example, there’s Hwy. 51. Bob Dylan sang about it on his debut album. It starts (for all practical purposes) in Stoughton, WI. It winds its way down the Mississippi. It becomes Elvis Presley Boulevard for a brief time in Memphis, and then ends up in New Orleans.

Now that’s a road trip, yes?

Or there’s Route 66.

Do I have to say anything about Route 66?

No. It’s the Mother Road. You get your kicks there.

But there are so many other highways to discover…

I’m futzing around today on the Web and I find a reference to Hwy. 36 through Missouri. It starts in Mark Twain’s Hannibal, winds through Walt Disney’s Marceline, and ends in St. Jospeh – the terminus of the Pony Express.

In between, one visits the childhood homes of General Pershing and J.C. Penney.

Highway 36, thinks I. This is a road worthy of serious road trippage and poetic rhapsodizing. In one road you get Huck Finn, Mickey Mouse, WWI, department stores, and cowboy mail. If that doesn’t sum up America, I don’t know what does.

A quick Google leads me to http://americangeniushighway.com – The Way Of American Genius.

This is road trip bliss.

The road is called “The Way Of American Genius”. I’m already making the mix disc in my head. My inner Kerouac is on scroll.

Nothing could dim my enthusiasm for Missouri’s Highway 36.

That is, until I click “About Us”.

What would you expect here?

An ode to the rich Missouri soil?  Some Kansas City blues? A poetic rhapsody to the writers, cartoonists, and generals who were nurtured by this rich vein of Americana?

Here’s what you get…

“The mission of the Missouri Highway 36 Heritage Alliance is to cultivate the educational experience and the economic well being of the Missouri Highway 36 corridor by fostering a greater appreciation of its natural, cultural, and historic resources by identifying and promoting the theme “The Way of American Genius”; those individuals and innovations that have uniquely defined and influenced American culture, and character.”

A 63- word metastasized bloodless word-death-by-committee of a mission statement.

Not only do I no longer want to drive on Route 36 through Missouri, I wish to flee as fast as possible. I want to either fly over this highway or bypass it on homogenized wings of Interstate.

Sentences like this are what killed America. There are no damn poets anymore.

Dear Gormless Functionary from the Missouri Highway 36 Heritage Alliance,

My former short-lived enthusiasm for your road has been killed a-borning. It was your mission statement what did it.

May the ghost of Mark Twain haunt you.

A traveler

2 thoughts on “Highway 36 Unvisited

  1. I was going to say something about the need for lovers of English and beautiful turns of phrase to seek out positions of authority in order to inject a bit more poesy into [inject! there I go, now]…

    …nudge public policy towards the poetical? Lovely English is not solely the thing of obscure, bottom-shelf books. Naturally.

    Wonder, aye, that’s the thing.

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