Friday, September 6, 2013

The Funniest Landmark

Last week, while they sprayed my front yard with Round Up herbicide, we went to Folsom, California and I saw the funniest historical landmark ever; it restored my faith in public works projects.

I should explain that first sentence, shouldn't I?

When we bought our current house, it was a total mess.  The previous owners had been a little... eccentric.  They owned goats, chickens, and a small horse.  No, seriously, a horse.  The shed has the name "Dancer" on it; the back door had the biggest doggie door you could ever imagine.  Yes, the horse came in the house.

I guess Comet and Cupid were the chickens.
Needless to say, we spent significant amounts of money fixing up the place.  Not that they hadn't put some money into fixing it up themselves, but they did a terrible job.  Cheap Pergo flooring to cover up the horse stains.  Shoddy attempts to hide that the bathrooms didn't work.  Worst of all was the gardening.  Quick note to gardeners: taking a flower bush out of a pot and putting it on the ground does not count as planting a garden.

Anyway, the grass was terrible.  A lot of it had died under the shade of a big tree, so they rolled out new sod, but that died shortly after we bought the place (it wasn't shade-tolerant grass).  A green mat of fungus had taken over, as had a thick layer of pine needles, and weeds of all kinds were springing up all over the lawn.

When we finally broke down and got a gardener, he insisted the only thing to do was to kill the grass, then the weeds, dig it all up, and reseed.  Now, I hate killing things, even plants.  My philosophy is that every living thing shares the desire to live, and we should only kill when we absolutely need to.  I step around snails, carry spiders out of the house, and only eat animals kept in inhumane conditions that yearn to be slaughtered.  Still, my wife and gardener insisted mass grass slaughter was the best way to go.

Of course, the spraying of a toxic chemical was against my deep-seated moral beliefs about the environment.  Ha!  Just kidding.  Fuck the planet.  Still, we wanted to be away while they sprayed it.  I think of herbicides like x-rays: I'm not afraid of them, but I'll run away like Deena Kastor chased by a direwolf when they x-ray my kids' teeth.

We decided to go to Folsom, California.  Why Folsom?  Well, it's close and it has...  A dam, that was closed to visitors.  It also has a prison, but we decided not to visit when we saw the sign that says "BEYOND THIS LINE IS A PRISON WITH SCARY MURDERERS THAT WILL STAB YOU IN THE EYE AND RAPE YOUR AUTOMOBILE!"  There's a zoo, but we decided we were too cheap to pay money to hear our children say "Why are we looking at sleeping animals?  Can we go back to the hotel?"

However, just outside the zoo was this historic marker. 

It says:
FOLSOM INSTITUTE
"EDUCATION DOTH NOT A SCHOLAR MAKE"
Near here was the first and only college ever in Folsom.  It lasted two years (1858-60) then closed for lack of students.  Folks probably figured they were smart enough (?).
It was a noble try - too bad!
Dedicated in honor of the class of '60.
I used to think historical markers were a waste of money.  Now I'm all for tax increases to put stuff like this around the country.

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