Our first non-Route 66 stop in quite some time was right in front of the Worlds Largest Bottle Of Catsup. This was a don't-leave the-car stop for DH but that was because she was googling furiously to find out why it was spelled 'catsup' and not 'ketchup' (catsup was once the predominant spelling). It's sometimes surprising the things that get her riled and, on this day, we were just getting started.
Our big destination was going to be Chester, Illinois, the landlocked hometown of Popeye (of sailing and spinach fame). Actually it's the home of Popeyes creator, E C Segar,, and with her many, very clear memories of her childhood, I was certain that Popeye would send her down a happy memory lane. Instead the thought of Popeye made her very angry- at first she put it down to Popeye not being a very good cartoon or perhaps a chauvinistic central theme of two men fighting over a largely helpless and bubble headed Olive Oyl, but I think we were venturing into Dr Phil territory. The tall foreheads of this burg didn't help matters when they decided that they wanted to recognize Popeye but not in a cheesy way (hold the train- how can the hometown of a cartoon character be anything but cheesy??). Statues of most of the Popeye protagonists were scattered throughout the town in scavenger hunt mode but they were cut from uniformally colourless blocks of marble. However, even angry DH calmed a bit when we visited the Popeye Museum which definitely understood the need for kitschy- I was able to pick up a can of genuine Popeye Spinach.
I couldn't leave The Princess in this worked up state, and since there was no Police Hall of Fames nearby, we headed over to Metropolis, Illinois, the hometown of, you guessed it, Superman. And right there, in the middle of the mythical town was a big, cheesy statue of Superman, and adjacent to this was the Superman Museum. I'm not sure how many artifacts were housed in this museum but it was well into the thousands- you hear about guys (why is it always guys?), who just lose their minds collecting paraphernalia related to, in this case, a Superman obsession, but this guy must have pre-dated all those Trekkie, Barbie, and Star Wars fans out there. His stuff goes back decades and he has even chronicled the lives of all the actors who played Superman, and this is where I started to lose DH again. George Reeves, who played Superman for six seasons, committed suicide prior to the start of season seven, and this triggered another set of childhood memories. Perhaps akin to finding out there is no Santa, finding out that Superman killed himself would create unresolved emotional baggage. Her funk did save us $5 as I was about to add a piece of kryptonite to my can of Popeye Spinach- DH very grumpily and sensibly pointed out that they just painted a bunch of rocks green to sell to tourists, and there's no such thing as kryptonite.... or Superhero's, ...or Santa.
'Catsup', a terrible role model for young women (Olive Oyl), and a flawed Superman. It was time for change and fortunately that was just around the corner.