Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Variety of spectacle ...

I've already mentioned John Gunther's famous 1947 book Inside U.S.A., which I think is one of the best single-volume studies of America that's ever been written. The book's Montana chapter is both fascinating and eminently quotable, and this blog will probably make use of it a number of times.

Here's a short excerpt from Inside U.S.A. that I particularly like, given my fondness for roadtrips. It suggests the fascination of the Easterner, wandering the new and largely-unfamiliar West:
From Helena I drove up to Great Falls. Talk about variety of spectacle! Hawks on fence posts, that only become frightened and fly away when you stop; Frenchy's Air Conditioned Cafe, with pretty girls lying about in hammocks; dead rattlesnakes; signs GAME CROSSING 1000 FEET AHEAD and an electric eye to count what crosses; girls in pigtails and bright habits riding out from the dude ranches; the house where Gary Cooper was born; "snow fences" to keep the road clear in winter, though it was 91 degrees in the shade -- we saw all this among much else.


  1. I remember (vaguely) spending the night in the Cooper house...but never knew where it was. I whined and wheedled and was allowed to sleep on a bearskin rug on the floor. I don't even remember how old I was or why my Mom, her boyfriend and I were there...but there was an Indian woman caretaker, or housekeeper. I thought it was all very exciting.

  2. Wow, that's extremely cool!!!!!

    I have no idea where the Cooper house even is, or whether it still exists .....