We drove around rainy Kent before heading out on the highway. We nearly visited Thomas Alva Edison’s boyhood home, but passed by, enjoying the views of the flat farms of western Ohio. When confronted with the opportunity to stop at Rutherford B. Hayes’ house, though, we couldn’t resist. Sneaking past a gauntlet of neon signed palaces hawking everything from cheeseburgers to lumber, we wound up in Fremont, Ohio. A typical small Midwestern town, Fremont features an astounding number of shops filled with knickknacks.
Downtown Fremont was hosting some kind of festival, although I don’t think anyone knew about it. Only about a dozen people milled about. Two children rode one of the carnival rides, and we sampled the saltiest smoked sausage and lamb gyro ever created. The most interesting shop was a Christian place called Covenant Corner. It had Biblical adventure stories and a joke book titled, “Good Clean Humor.” It also had lawn signs advocating the election of Jesus, although it did not specify an office. The second-most interesting shop was “Wicker and Crystal.”
The Presidential Rutherford B. Hayes House and Museum was actually quite beautiful. The grounds are wonderful with towering oaks and meticulous lawns. Fat squirrels have no fear and scurry right up to people demanding food.
We decided to save six dollars each and passed on a house tour (we have to get on to Chicago), but we did pay a visit to President Hayes’ grave. His horse is also buried there. The gift shop is a free visit, unlike the museum, which costs another $6. There was a CD-ROM exploring Hayes’ life, Rutherford B. Hayes leather bookmarks, and all sorts of tea sets and books. “Please, buy something,” was the greeting when we entered. I obliged buying three 50-cent postcards… certainly not what they had in mind. Perhaps one of the many elderly women exploring the grounds made up for my stinginess.
One more note about Fremont: the only non-American car I saw there was a Saab. It had Michigan plates.
We sped through the rest of Ohio and then Indiana admiring the open farmland embraced by long tentacles of sprayers. Metal arms stretching hundreds of yards and sectioned by wheel assemblies and spray nozzles hovered over field after field after field. Occasionally they’d be in operation, dowsing corn with fine mist, but more often than not they’d be in limbo. From the ground, they look kind of bizarre, but my recollection is that from the air, the effect is that they create circular crop fields, since these arms rotate on one end, and the sprayers themselves look like the hands of a clock.
Indiana provided us with another Roadfood opportunity Lake Michigan Perch and froglegs, but we had to skip it as we were behind schedule. Next time.
Whereas Ohio simply merged into Indiana, Indiana ended abruptly at Illinois Farm fields stopped and industry explodes with smokestacks belching black smoke as Lake Michigan and Chicago spread out in the distance.
Even on a Saturday afternoon, Chicago’s traffic was heavy. We set plans to meet some friends (Ellen and Patrick Linnihan) in a western suburb, and once we emerged from traffic and righted ourselves after a few wrong turns, we enjoyed a very nice and restful dinner with them.
Following dinner we pushed on almost to Wisconsin.