By Michael Martone, David Plowden
Essays describe existence in small cities, farming groups, and suburbs in states from Ohio to North Dakota.
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Extra resources for A Place of sense: essays in search of the Midwest
I hadn't imagined what use our family would have for the powerful machine, but I had sampled a strawberry milkshake concocted from egg shells, celery, and beets poured by the smiling man into the same kind of tiny cup from which I had drunk my "Don't Forget Sabin on Sunday" polio vaccine. Indispensable, I remember the aproned man saying into the microphone around his neck. "But it's indispensable," I implored my mother, feeling the kitchen of our new house grow steadily outdated and outmoded. How had she resisted the knife we'd seen together the previous day at the fair, the one that glided through a brick-hard package of frozen spinach and diced whole onions in a few deft strokes?
Floating in the Caribbean water, a blue the Blue Hole must have had in a distant part of its collective unconscious, I understood that the actual destination for each drive had been the opportunity to be together, as though family were, itself, a place, and a Sunday drive in the country would bring us there. A definition of my particular Midwest was evolving as a place without definition, as a region that could contain a journey a child might have squiggled across a map. S. 40, a road my father maintained stretched clear across the continent like the crack in my salt map of Canada.
As for traveling through other states, which we did on our yearly vacation to my aunt's in Massachusetts, I had no vivid sense of anywhere else, any place I could have grown up had my ancestors settled there. I had no real sense of the place in which I did grow up. Though I hadn't read Ohioan Louis Bromfield then, I certainly shared his confusion about our state, ''. . the farthest west of the east, and the farthest east of the west, the farthest north of the south, and the farthest south of the north.