strange little town

Oak Ridge, Tennessee still has a “Ladies’ Auxiliary”. I know this because I saw a flyer for one of their pot luck/rummage sales tacked on the bulletin board at Panera (I was spending a lot of time at the Oak Ridge Panera last week while Xander was attending Jedi Training at the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge). I didn’t think organizations and names like that still existed in every day life, I wrongly thought they faded away in a cloud of Chantilly perfumed powder in the late sixties when women shed their tight Angora sweaters and swinging skirts. When so many women started refusing to be anything auxiliary, superfluous, or on the coattails at all.

But in the strange habitat of Oak Ridge they survive in a mushroom cloud of nostalgia, their skin gives off a dusty vintage smell, and they still form auxiliaries and committees to lift up their men, to wrap them up in casseroles. It’s odd.

Odd like the man on the motorcycle I saw, his short khaki pant legs a full foot past his black socks (still held up with the aid of old-fashioned straps!). A pocket protector, stuffed full of red, blue, and black pens blazoned the front of his white, short-sleeved button-up shirt like a military badge. He wore a funny sort of white ping pong ball helmet and heavy black glasses, almost as if they were given to him by a Hollywood costume shop.  I was behind him for a little while, until he turned down the street that leads to the labs that still serve as Oak Ridge’s main artery.

In the right lane, beside the scientist on a motorcycle, was a truckload of rotund farmers, shirtless and gleaming tan underneath dusty overalls. They turned in the opposite direction of the scientist, down a country road that leads deeper into the valley that used to hide so many secrets. What a strange little town.

***

This is interesting, a Flickr set of archival Oak Ridge photos.

I wish I could elaborate more eloquently today, but sometimes Xander, being an only child, needs me to be a six-year old along with him. I must oblige, because frankly, who wouldn’t want to time-travel back to being six years old? Being a parent to one is the closest I’ll get. I’ll take it.

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"... all my lovers were there with me, all my past and futures."

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