News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

October 18, 2009

The Off Season: Improving a social grade: Mr. Lunsford goes to town


Actually, I like big cities; I have stood a good while along the Lake Michigan shore to look at the glow of the Chicago skyline in the evening, and I listened to the symphonic roar of its traffic and jets and wind. Whether it be St. Louis or Washington, D.C., Cleveland or Buffalo, Pittsburg or New York, itself, I have enjoyed my time in those places so far removed from my world in rural Indiana so much that I have never shied away from going back.

Although we couldn’t identify much of the finger food we ate that weekend, we gave it a chance, and as far as I knew, I managed to use the correct fork and spoon, and properly managed to hide a glop of gristle from my dinner companions’ view. I never referred to the hotel pool as a cement pond, didn’t ride the elevator for fun, and used only as much ice as we needed for our tap water. I refused, by the way, to spend $3.25 on a four-ounce bottle “left for our convenience.” As Deeds would have proudly said, “it just makes sense.”

Like all American cities, Cincinnati has its share of troubles. We were amazed — should I say, ashamed — at the number of homeless and poor people who were on its streets. For every magnificent and glassed downtown building, we also saw the trash, the empty lots and the burned-out shells of old apartments that plague most large towns. Those images stayed with us much longer than the stretch limos lined up near our hotel, or the laughing couples in the lobby who held their cocktails with their little fingers appropriately askew. At night, despite my sleepiness and a pillow pulled down over my head, I could hear the cascade of desperate sirens through the triple-paned glass of our hotel windows.

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    March 12, 2010