While bunny_hugger didn't like the city she lived in for middle and high school, she did spend a lot of time there, and not so much in recent years. So we went to it, that she could show me places that were once home. The first was a bar-restaurant that was still vegetarian-friendly by 1987 standards, and that gave us a good enough lunch.
The city was a suburb of Ann Arbor, back in the day. Now it's less far from the urban sprawl. And it's starting to suffer the same problem Ann Arbor is: the downtown things that provide services are getting squeezed out in favor of bars, restaurants, and twee boutiques. Emblematic of this: the corner grocery that had been, by one name or another, a market for over a hundred years was now a barbecue restaurant. It's good for getting people from its own suburbs in for an evening of income-disposal, but what about for people who just want to live in town?
We walked along the main street, with diversions for things like one of the houses she'd lived in (the temporary-structure garage her father had put up was still there, decades later) or a place where she'd applied for a job she was too shy to take. And saw the Jiffy Mix plant, right where the town meets the railroad and just as it's been for a long while. bunny_hugger pointed out what I never noticed, the quotes around ``Jiffy'' mix's logo, on its packages and on its silo. It must be a graphic-design relic of a day when Jiffy seemed like slang.
More buildings. Some of them important: the onetime Glazier Stove Company building, where bunny_hugger worked for a while on the now-defunct community newspaper, the one with the reported sand-filled swimming pool in the basement that had been claimed by the far too many cats kept by the newspaper's owners. Some of them slight ones: the building that used to have the ice cream shop in the bottom floor. Some of them of local-legend interest: the flophouse hotel that drew the whole town out when it caught fire. The place that was an honest dive bar back in the day, and still looks about the same, although better for having kept its Art Deco styling long enough for that to become beautiful again. Some exciting: the town library, onetime winner of a national award for library services. It was closed by the time we got there, but never mind. It had been augmented by a massive new addition, one that overwhelms the old in volume and footprint and boring modern design.
We stopped in a used book store where for a change I didn't buy anything. And a doughnut shop where we got snacks, coffee, some Lions Club mints, and the chance to read a fascinatingly overwrought poem about the role a doughnut shop serves in the community. And then drove off to see bunny_hugger's former high school.
It's still an educational facility. But it's now a community education thing: preschools, senior centers, learning-center classes, that sort of thing. The high school has moved down the road into a modern boring facility. Her high school was built in a wave of late-60s idealism, and made as a bunch of small, separate buildings each specializing in one interest. It was going for the chic of a small, modern college. And it looks like one. The one major flaw: it's a bunch of small, separate buildings outside, in Michigan, a place that traditionally has classes in the months from November through March. Would have worked better in a warmer climate, or with some kind of shelters over the sidewalk so as to reduce the snow and rain pelting down on students. They did, back in the day, have weird plastic mushroom-shaped overhangs near the entrances to buildings, so students could huddle out of the rain, but those were renovated out of existence, and I'm sorry to have missed them.
The football field, where she had been part of the marching band, was still in the same spot. And it was open; it looked like there were some people on the field doing maintenance or something. But we didn't go down onto it.
We drove out to see one other house bunny_hugger used to live in, and then thought hard about whether to stick around until the reunion dinner started, or whether to go home. It was a little too long to wait, we thought, and so we drove home, through back roads and a traffic circle that didn't used to be there, past the convenience store that used to rent videos and games, and to eventually hearing that they played the videotape at the reunion dinner and everyone had a great time seeing what 31-years-younger selves had to say.
Trivia: The first contract for Project Orion was $5,000 authorized in January 1958 by the Atomic Energy Commission. This was for the provision of classified information and not any research or development costs. Source: Project Orion: The True Story of the Atomic Spaceship, George Dyson.
PS: Reading the Comics, December 16, 2017: Andertoons Drought Ended Edition, some more comic strips.
PPS: More pinball tournament, Flint edition. This is the one where bunny_hugger got her new purse, a gift.
So they made a Charlie's Angels pinball game because it was easier than resisting the universe's urge to manifest such a table in the late 70s.
Backglass to Williams's 1974 Triple Action, a movie-themed game that I had a good round on except during actual play. Also with a inflatable camel, the way movies did in 1974.
Curious playfield detail from Triple Action. Is it just a fellow very afraid of his costume or is he being eaten by a hover-gator? Either way seems odd for a movie set.