Sunday, May 27, 1990...
On the road again at about 7 AM. Swung briefly past President Garfield's house,
now a historic site -- it was closed, of course -- before turning westward again. Euclid
Ave. was empty as I drove to and through Cleveland; the trip would have taken me at
least four times as long had there been traffic.
My first stop was at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, outside
Cleveland. I arrived shortly before the first services of the day were to begin, and
attracted some sidewards glances as I wandered the premises with still and video
cameras in tow. Next came President Garfield's gravesite in Lake View Cemetery, a
towering obelisk to honor the martyred President -- whose death was actually caused
by inadequate medical care rather than the bullet lodged in his back. I looked for the
graves of John D. Rockefeller and Ray Chapman, to no avail, before driving into the
heart of downtown Cleveland to photograph the Public Square. The central square is
dominated by older, Depression-era buildings, with the Terminal Tower overshadowing
the rest of the skyline, but the buildings seemed well-kept and the neighboring blocks
showed evidence of an economic revival.
Then I continued west, through miles of farmland broken up at eight- or 10-mile
intervals by picturesque small towns. Bellevue was an absolute vision of Main Street
USA, from the rows of two-story brick buildings downtown to the shady lanes of the
residential district. I detoured south at Fremont to visit the Rutherford B. Hayes
estate/library/tomb/museum: it may have been the first presidential museum, and did a
fine job considering the blandness and mediocrity of the honoree. I was struck by the
size of the Hayes estate, which alone among the properties in the area had never been
The drive through the Toledo area was marred by mile upon mile of strip
shopping centers, used-car lots, and the like, but then came another 60 miles of
farmland. Upon entering Indiana, though, the road deteriorated and so did the scenery.
Much of the drive through the state was conducted very slowly, passing through town
after town with nothing of interest either inside or outside its borders. I took a brief
detour to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, which from the limited perspective
available from the road looked much like any other beach.
Then I got to Gary, the largest town in the country founded in the 20th century.
The ecological damage caused by the huge, soot-belching US Steel plant is amazing.
For at least fifteen miles, my lungs could detect the remnants of Gary. From Gary into
Chicago, the road was lined with slums and huge, ugly, smelly factories: the Amoco
refinery in Whiting, smack on the Illinois border at the extreme southern tip of Lake
Michigan, was a particularly fragrant eyesore.
Once in Chicago, I drove down 95th Street on US 20 until I was within a few
blocks of Joseph J.'s house. I met his wife Susan for the first time. They seem well
matched -- he's a doctor, she's a nurse -- and after his first marriage, which considerate
friends discuss only in whispers and refer to as "the late unpleasantness," he deserves
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