We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
This week it's La Crosse, Wisconsin, a nice little town on the Mississippi River along the border with Minnesota. As the story goes, the site got its name when explorer Zebulon Pike witnessed local Indian tribes playing a game with sticks that resembled a bishop's crozier, or crosse, in the language of the French fur traders who, as usual, were the first Europeans to establish themselves in the area. In the late 1800s, thousands of Norwegian and German settlers moved to the area, lending it a character which remains to this day.
The town was the beneficiary of plenty of that distinctively American "main street" style architecture during the 1880s and 1890s, as can be seen in the old postcard above, and to the town's good fortune most of it has survived to the present day. Through a city-wide master plan for redevelopment La Crosse has managed to renovate and refurbish over 100 historic buildings while attracting cutting-edge technology and communications firms to the town. The entire riverfront has been developed as well and outfitted with walking paths and recreational boating areas, making the downtown an even more attractive place to live. The main downside to the place? It's too darn cold for a lot of folks, though the Norwegian settlers didn't mind too much, as this excerpt from an 1854 letter written by a Norwegian immigrant to his relatives back home shows:
"When you wrote about some coffee beans, it is impossible for us to obtain them. They grow in South America under sunshine and a warm and unhealthy climate. Here the climate is cold, healthy and fresh. . . "
The Dylanologist would have to agree, though of course it's true that there's an awful lot of coffee in Brazil.