We stayed last night in Springfield, Mississippi and today woke to the anniversary of 9/11. Speaking to Americans along our way I have been really surprised about the lack of information they have had about the events that day. No-one I spoke to has ever heard of a third tower or the controversy about whether or not the towers could have collapsed by being hit by a plane or if they were detonated. I think it’s ironic that some people are still paranoid about communism and the hold the Soviet Union used to have on its peoples, when America operates in the same way of misinformation and propaganda. I was told by someone but haven’t been able to verify it yet, but apparently there was a law repealed some time ago that enables the media to tell lies without impunity. This gives a whole new meaning to ‘freedom of the press’!
It’s presidential election time and watching the news I am horrified by what I hear from some of the candidates about how the whole world needs American leadership. I imagine it to be like the 1930s and Hitler’s propaganda against Jews and how Aryans were the master race. Scary.
To shake off my depressive mood we drove to Nathaniel Green Park intending to see the pioneer museum and walk around the Japanese gardens. However, both were closed so we ended up spending several hours in the Botanical Gardens just letting the sun and the beautifully landscaped gardens soothe me. It was like time had stood still for a while and I was suspended in a warm bubble where the politics of the world couldn’t intrude – Just what I needed before setting off on the road to Tulsa.
At Paris Springs we stopped for a photo stop at the Gay Pariso Gas Station and to buy some bottles of water. The owner, Gary Turner, is a great character with beautiful blue eyes, who likes to sit in the shade and chat about Route 66 to everyone who stops. You can’t hurry him and you can’t get away without being rude. We enjoyed over an hour of his company and he refused to take payment for the water. When we finally resumed our journey my heart was a lot lighter and faith in human beings restored.
Further along the Route, at Commerce, the Route signs stopped so we pulled into a diner to ask the way. There we met another guy whose main interest is in the history of his town and of Route 66. He regaled us with stories of Bonnie and Clyde who used to go there a lot because Bonnie was from the town. Commerce sits near to 3 state lines and this benefitted the gang as they could easily escape because police were unable to cross the state lines and there were not the communications we have today to alert police in a neigbouring state. The gang were shot and killed in woods just a couple of miles away at the back of the town and this guy gave us copies of newpapers he had found relating to the shooting.
The generosity of these wonderful people we are meeting on our journey across their country is very humbling and I hope that in the coming elections that they don’t elect the gung-ho politicians who will embroil their country and young people in more armed conflict and earn and even worse reputation for themselves in the wider world community. See you in Tulsa.