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My Fourth of July Vacation: A ride through the Midwest during that patriotic time of year. (Jerome A. Holst © 2005)

Continued from Page 2

Leaving the museum, I tour other places in town and discover that everywhere I look in Metropolis, there are artifacts of Superman. As a matter of fact, if one could judge the patriotism of a town by the amount of red, white and blue on display, then surely Metropolis has to be tops on that list.

Even in the Chamber of Commerce building a few store fronts down from the Museum, there are posters of Superman, pamphlets and booklets highlighting the Superman character and the history of the area. One seasonal Christmas photograph shows the statue of Superman decorated with a red Santa's hat. There is also a large cover of Time magazine featuring the face of Christopher Reeve and a large, clear plastic box soliciting donations to spinal research. A phone booth in the corner of their lobby echoes the famous place where Clark Kent changed into his Superman costume.

In the local library, the children's section is filled with colorful pictures of the Superman character. One poster in the library entitled "Superheroes Powered by Books" features super hero characters like: The Mighty History Boy - Watch his Lift and Read; The Amazing Bio Gal - She knows everything about everybody - Her knowledge propels her to great heights; The Fabulous Fictiono - He walks. He reads. He Stretches; and The Sticky Sue Spence - Nothing frightens her...No book is too thick.

Ironically, just a mile down from the museum along the river front is the Harrah's Riverboat Gambling Casino which brings in 2 million visitors a year. It seems odd that there would be a gambling casino in the hometown of Superman, a squeaky-clean hero (with no vices) who professes the principles of Truth, Justice and the American Way. So to find out about the casino, I visited the town's weekly newspaper "The Metropolis Planet" (fondly called "The Daily Planet" by visitors and locals).


Entrance to the town newspaper "The Metropolis Planet"

As I spoke with the newspaper editor on duty, he informed me that the city of Metropolis was careful not to associate the gambling casino with the Superman character. Further talks with the local police department revealed that apparently, the town has not been hit with the increased crime that is often associated with other town's who open their doors to the gaming industry. Perhaps, the presence of the Man of Steel in Metropolis, in some small way, acts as a shield of virtue and deflects the seedier elements from destroying the charming ambiance of this quiet river town.

On January 21, 1972 National Periodicals Publications (D.C. Comics) authorized the town of Metropolis, Illinois to become the adopted "Home of Superman." Metropolis was later officially declared the Hometown of Superman by Illinois House of Resolution Number 572, dated June 9, 1972. The idea of associating the town with the Superman character came from a newcomer from Owensboro, Kentucky named Robert Westerfield (now deceased).

In 1986, the town commissioned a seven-foot fiberglass Superman statue for the cost of $1000. It was replaced by a fifteen foot bronze Superman statue that was unveiled in June of 1993. This statue is the one currently seen by countless tourists as they visit the town square in Metropolis.

Besides, the Superman attractions, the town of Metropolis (founded in 1938) boasts bragging rights to the burial sight of Robert Stroud, a.k.a. the Birdman of Alcatraz, as well as the site of Fort Massac (shortened from Fort Massacre), Illinois' first State Park.


Metropolis Street in Metropolis, IL

Bidding adieux to the citizens of Metropolis, I continue "up, up and away" northwest into Illinois. After riding a number of hours, I learned that there is a lot of corn in this state, interspersed with a few small towns along the way. Stopping at the town of Olney, Illinois, I spent the night at a small non-franchised motel whose refreshing, cool air conditioning made my night's sleep comfortable (after driving in 90 degree weather for the last 12 hours).

In the morning, I stopped off at the Olney Public Library to print out a map off the Internet site called MapQuest. At this point, I considered continuing north to Iowa to visit the town of Riverside, the future home of Captain James T. Kirk from the sci-fi series Star Trek. But, I had seen enough corn for this year, and decided to do Iowa at another time.

Turning south, I headed down to the Route 50 and to Vincennes, Indiana, the hometown of comedian Red Skelton.

This ends "Part One" of my Fourth of July weekend adventures. To continue, Click here for Part 2.


NOTE: This article may be linked for distribution to other Internet publications. Please the article to the author, Jerome A. Holst and mention its URL - http://www.tvacres.com/archives_july.htm

 

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