Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Arcola and Arthur

Of the two towns Arcola and Arthur, Illinois, I thought Arcola was better looking. Its main street was still a Main Street, with three- and four-story buildings at least 100 years old. A streetscape with a certain look for about two blocks. Not only that, it had brick-paved streets -- and each and every brick (almost) had "Poston Block" etched on it. Turns out that's a collectible brick, or at least one billed as historic.

Arthur looked as if the older buildings had never been built, or hadn't survived until our time. The net effect was the same: a hodgepodge from the middle and late 20th century. But both places had fairly busy main streets, in terms of commerce, and a variety of businesses besides those that thrive on tourists, such as a law office, insurance agent, undertaker, and my favorite -- Blaze Investigative Services, a private eye (do the Amish occasionally employ them? Is it an Amish business? Well, why not?)

The two main streets also shared one charming detail I recommend for little towns that want to promote activity in their downtowns or main streets: a lot of benches just outside the business entrances. I spent a few pleasant interludes on these benches while Yuriko investigated shops I had no interest in. While parked on these benches, I noticed that the horse-and-buggy traffic seemed to be more frequent in Arthur than Arcola. Some businesses, such as the IGA grocery store I mentioned, had separate parking spaces for horse-and-buggies.

The Illinois Amish seem to have no quarrel with putting triangular reflectors on the backs of their buggies. I vaguely remember some Amish getting into a dispute with some state years ago about that point, claiming that even the simple triangle amounted to idolatry, but I don't know if I misunderstood that or am misremembering the story. Seeing an idol in a reflective triangle seems a stretch to me -- maybe something they'd worship in Flatland. Anyway, down near Arthur, they use the safety feature, which is surely mandated by the state of Illinois.

Speaking of buggies, between Arthur and Arcola, near Chesterville, was a used buggy lot. They had a selection of about a half-dozen vehicles, both enclosed and open. I had to wonder how much they run, and whether the occupation of a used-buggy salesman falls to an Amish or is relegated to the English.


At 2:12 PM, Anonymous former arthur gal said...

It is Chesterfield not Chesterton

At 2:13 PM, Anonymous former arthur gal said...

oops Chesterville is the correct name neither of the others is right


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