Posted by: stillironic | January 20, 2010

Let Me Set the Record Straight—7

Numero Uno

Thinking of him as Smarts not only lets me see him more clearly in my mind’s eye, but also takes away some of the sting of thinking of him at all. I can focus on his scrunched up little face and his voyeuristic view of life in Shaddrach, P A. “P A” being linguistic shorthand for Pennsylvania, as you might know.

Pennsylvania, the most beautiful state in the Union, aside from the New England states and Colorado and those other mountain states and the states that border the Pacific. Anyway, Pennsylvania is the most beautiful state of all the states that lack any distinguishing geographic features like canyons and oceans and such. And that’s why Pennsylvanians are so proud of their state and so sure of themselves. They know, or we know—because I’m a Pennsylvanian born and bred—there’s no place better, if you exclude Europe and most of the other continents.

What other place on earth can boast of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The very first expressway. The numero uno. Which in order to build, they—the ubiquitous “they”—used railroad tunnels in about, what? six mountains. Tunnels the railroad people had built by blasting through rocks and whatnot—all habitat though, mind you, to we’ll never know how many species of plants and bacteria that may have existed nowhere else on this planet—to build what became once known collectively, at least to us Keystone Staters, as the ninth wonder of the world.

Only five of the tunnels are still in use today, which is a shame for kids—to say nothing of all those potentially lost species among which may have existed a bacterium or root hair that could have cured cancer or feline leukemia, at least. Those tunnels used to make a miserable 8-hour drive to the Jersey Shore in the family car, with its cracked upholstery and lack of air conditioning, almost bearable.

© 2010 by Virginia Gerhart


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