Monday, April 30, 2012

"There’s a sameness to the plight of dying towns" Villisca Iowa

I nod because yes, I’ve never been here before, but in many ways I feel like I have. There’s a sameness to the plight of dying towns.

Note: I have employed this same introduction on the post below.

Just a word or two about the source for today's two posts.

Although I don't receive anything like the number of daily emails that I once did, down to half a dozen from probably three times that number, but retaining such old faithfuls as, Information Clearing House, Truthout and Democracy Now! It must be said however, as the world slides inevitably towards chaos, both ICH and Truthout have become mainly sources for only the most extreme news items.

But it is the addition, perhaps a year ago, of one source that has really trumps, that being, and I quote: Syndication service and online community of the alternative press, featuring news stories from alternative newsweeklies, magazines and web publications.

And it is that very business model that makes it such a great source for stories that are just off, or far off in some cases, the main stream, the very things that I like to blog about.

As an obscure blogger I see little point in parroting the big and sensational stories of the day, sources for such being manifold and accessed at the click of a mouse. That is not to say that I won't cover a main-stream story with vigour. One such story, and although I haven't updated it recently, I have been keeping my eye on it, and that is the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. Something I shall rectify over the next day or two, because let's face it, our planet is undergoing an ecological disaster of epic proportions and it seems all but ignored (or buried) by those that are charged with keeping us informed on such events, but failing with the same epic proportions, the main-stream media. Now updated here and here.

But for the moment, the second of two stories offered up today, courtesy of AlterNet.

I thought this article a great piece, giving us a slice of America past and present, although the only thing that is perhaps notably different from the era of the setting for the first part of the story is the decay surrounding this 'small town America.' But that's not to say the story is without interest by any means.

What passed for justice in those days certainly hasn't changed much, nor for that matter I don't suppose, religions bigotry: “Yeah, there was a time when a Presbyterian kid wouldn’t play with a Methodist kid (because of the murders.”)

Taste seems to be pretty constant, because let's face it, there's no taste like bad taste, just as there's no getting away from it. Why else would anyone want to visit the site (museum) of a hundred year old axe murder, or for that matter, any of the "attractions" that I have underlined below.

And no house where the grisly slaughter of an entire family took place would be complete without the batshit crazies, the equally ghoulish, the Paranormal Investigators. ($400 a night)

“They’re indicators of energy,” she explains. Her friend Bobbi is a young quiet woman, otherwise unnoticeable, who plans to sleep in the basement, whereas Connie, a redhead the same age as Tracy, carries flowers for the ghost of Sarah Moore.

As you do.

Let me skip the gruesome details and give you instead, a taster from page three.

Dig deep enough into any town’s history and surely you’ll find a good murder. Even the little town in the Adirondacks where I’m soon to be married — a perfect postage stamp called Inlet, N.Y. — was where Chester Gillette was arrested in 1906 for drowning his pregnant girlfriend in a case that inspired folk songs, ghost stories and “An American Tragedy.” But there’s no such as thing as an INLET DROWNING the same as the VILLISCA AX MURDER. The murder has become Villisca’s brand (789,000 search results for “Villisca Ax Murder” on Google) just as Dyersville has a field of dreams and Madison County has covered bridges, a bad novel and a good film. One hundred years after the murders, Iowa is a state begging to be visited, with plenty of Americana to offer. Hence the World’s Largest Cornstalk. The World’s Largest Strawberry. The World’s Largest Bullhead Catfish. The World’s Largest Swedish Coffee Saucer. Even the World’s Largest Cheeto. And the Midwest’s most gruesome unsolved murder, now a guest host for ghost hunters, who pay hundreds of dollars to bring a sleeping bag and set up on the old hardwood floors.

After an hour of emptiness on this third-rate highway, amidst brown and eerie hills on an unseasonably cold, gray spring afternoon, the sign appears like a beacon. “The Olson-Linn Museum and Ax Murder House.” I turn onto U Street, where off to the side I see the Villisca Elevator (the only elevator in Villisca is a grain elevator), and down a few bridges and bumpy roads that turn to gravel and back to concrete, and suddenly I find myself in the town square. There are a few well-kept houses, a new-ish playground, a war monument, children playing baseball and a mother wearing a T-shirt from the local high school that last year graduated 28 kids.

The windows of the Olson-Linn Museum are cloudy. It’s a white building of cracked bricks and rain-damaged shingles and a brilliant red door. A sign with changeable letters says:





A note says the owner is out: “I am at the J B Moore house 508 E. 2nd Ave.”

Minutes later a 74-year-old man pulls up in a rickety sedan.

“Hi there,” he says. He wears overalls, a ball cap, a plaid shirt and a blue nylon coat.


Blood, Gore, Tourism: The Ax Murderer Who Saved a Small Town

100 years ago, someone killed 8 people in an Iowa home. Can unsolved brutality revive a dying town?
By Nick Kowalczyk
April 29, 2012 Go to page 1

Not to forget the, Official Site of the Villisca Ax (sic) Murder House. Take the tour, buy yourself a Tshirt or some haunted dirt, only twenty bucks.

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