Sunday, April 01, 2007

City of Firsts?

Even the name of the city turned out to be in error, Kokomo, originally thought to be a local Indian Chief was later discovered to be an early urban legend translating to Black Walnut.
Perhaps it was this lapse that led to the status building claims of "Firsts" for sixteen notable features of modern day life including the automobile, pneumatic tires, carburettors, aluminum castings , canned tomatoes and so on. These are freely publicized although no independent verification validating any of them over equivalent claims of numerous other American Cities is provided.
What does seem beyond doubt is that Kokomo was number one in Klu Klux Klan membership and were host to the biggest Konklave ever on Independence Day, 1923. Other undisputed achievements include the poorest traffic management on a US Highway in the country, with a seven mile stretch of stop-go lights in a city of less than 50,000 inhabitants and, bizarrely, the Howard County Courthouse Bomber of 1987, David Gray, was one of Kokomo's own.
So destitute is Kokomo for tangible artifacts to shore up its very existence that Highland Park, the city's historical show place, is based around three odd items none of which actually originated in the city. First among equals is the Vermont Covered Bridge that was hauled in from its namesake town five miles away in 1957 as it was about to be flooded by a new reservoir system. Next is Old Ben, a Chernobyl like bull born in 1902 at an astounding birth weight of 125 pounds. By 1910, Ben had reached the prodigous weight of 4,700 pounds when he slipped on some ice, broke a leg and was put down. Despite being dead for almost 100 years, his stuffed remains are still on display.
The third leg of this triumphant triumvirate is, wait for it, a sycamore stump from a far flung corner of the county. Comfortably housed in its own little house, the stump garners much admiration from visitors from near and far although it appears to be no more energetic than dead Ben next door. So it goes in Indiana's heartland.

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