Copyright 2001 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved

Crank's Corner: Commentary by Linda Marcas

                                                Where's Waldo?

    Right next to Federal 23, about half-way between Delaware and Marion, that's where Waldo is.
Not the bespectacled wandering geek in the striped pullover, but the wide spot in the road, the Ohio hamlet,
the bitsy burg we drove through on a whim last Wednesday.  A few bars, a couple pizza joints, gas stations,
a church, and an elementary school; maybe we should have stopped somewhere and asked if they had any
bumperstickers, but the residents of Waldo might think that the popular alliterative location query is an old
joke by now, so we didn't risk it.  Maybe another day.

    We had driven a friend to the Columbus airport to catch a one-thirty flight; it was a beautiful day,
but we knew that even if we hurried home, we wouldn't get much done, so we decided to mosey
investigating whatever caught our fancy.  Twenty years ago, I used to drive to Columbus at least once a
month to visit a friend who lived there; she moved to Dayton, and I hadn't been down 23 in years.

     A lot changed while I was looking the other way; the urban sprawl of Greater Columbus stretched
shopping centers and business complexes into areas I remembered as having been mostly woods and fields.
Fast food franchises and home improvement warehouses I can almost understand, because I eat burgers
buy drywall now and then; what I can't seem to grasp is how any area, no matter how densely populated,
support a Meijer's, Wal-Mart, Marshall's, Kohl's, Michael's, Dollar Tree, and dozens and dozens of other
stores, all inside a one-mile radius.  Who buys all that stuff?

    Don't mind me; I tend to get all wound up about things like huge, empty, obviously-used-to-be-a-
Lowe's hulks a half mile down the road from newly built Mega-Lowe Marts, and frequently feel that
planning commissions should have their heads examined.  I was happier to see that some of the landmarks I
remember from years ago are still alive and well on Route 23, doing business as usual.

    North of Delaware, but south of Waldo (I think), Mom Wilson's Pork Sausage lines the roadsides
with rhyming signs, urging travellers to stop and shop.  I'm old enough to remember Burma Shave signs,
those ads for shaving cream that broke up the monotony of Sunday drive torture rides with something for
me to look at besides cows and windmills and the back of my parents' heads.  Because of their signs, I'd
always meant to stop at Mom Wilson's, but had never done so before last Wednesday.  They had opened
the season two days before, so this was my perfect chance to see them at their best.

    It's a good thing that we'd just had lunch, or we'd have driven home with a back seat full of meat,
instead of just a large bag.  The whole, hickory smoked hams tempted me terribly, but I restrained myself
and got a couple nice hocks for soup instead.  Tonight we'll grill the hot Italian brats; the house still smells
like yesterday's breakfast bacon (or a campfire).  I've never had bacon with more meat than fat on it before!

    North of Marion, we tried to stop at a place that sells antiques and cast-concrete yard decorations;
we'd been there a couple years ago, and they had cool stuff and reasonable prices.  They looked open on
way to the airport, but, by the time we came back, there was a sign in the driveway that said, "STOP! if this
sign is up, stay in your car!  Guard dogs on duty!," so we gave it a miss and rolled on up the road.  Maybe
we should have honked the horn; it was only 4:00 PM, and the sign didn't actually say "closed."  But, you
know what they say about sleeping dogs.........

    A little further north, we turned off 23 to investigate the charms of Harpster, a little town on SR
294.  We found a nice antique mall there, located in the former general store building (across from the fire
department, with a board porch and benches.....all it needed was a couple of codgers playing checkers!)  I
always have better luck shopping in second-hand stores than in 'new' department stores, because I find
things that I didn't know I needed until I saw them.  In this case, I found a pair of chrome hand-towel-and-
washcloth rings, with starburst-shaped escutcheons, that will be perfect in the guest bathroom.  They were
only $3; how could I resist?

    If we'd kept going west on SR 294, we would have connected with SR 37, which would have taken
us to Findlay, Old 25, and home.  But, we didn't have a map, so we wandered up SR 67 through Upper
Sandusky (pretty; bears further investigation...), back to 23 through Carey and Fostoria to 18, and back to
NB before sunset.  It had taken us two hours to drive to the airport, but it took us six to drive back; our
friend was probably at home in California before we got home ourselves.  But we had a nice drive on a
beautiful fall day, and now I can definitively answer the question, "Where's Waldo?"

love letters or hate mail?