Wednesday, January 12

A BLIGHT ON THE LANDSCAPE

I've been meaning to write this piece ever since returning from our (mine and Cathy's) automobile trip up to northcentral Kentucky to visit family over the holidays. Our route took us through Dallas, Texarkana, Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville and on to both Lexington and Louisville. We covered more than 1,200 one-way miles. Good news is we were pushing north through snow, sleet and ice to see our grandsons, rather than having them with us to visit some vacation destination. I say that because a new blight has established itself along the roadsides of this nation's highways and it is neither those quaint Burma-Shave rhymes of old nor those eye-catching Mail Pouch chewing tobacco advertisements on the sides of barns -- parts of the sweet nostalgia of my youth, traveling Highway #66 in my parents' 1957 Ford Station Wagon.

No, what you see today are huge, horizon-obscuring, flood-lighted billboards, seen from miles and miles away, advertising ADULT BOOKS and VIDEOS. Now just what does a parent or grandparent say to a child who asks from the backseat, "What's that?" And apart from the embarrassment of fielding those kinds of inquiries, who wants to look at that ugliness anyway?

I'm sure the ACLU's Free Speech advocates would fall over themselves to ensure the right of pornographers to peddle this crap along the nation's interstates, but I, for one, would like to see a concerted effort made to remove this blight. XXX billboards may soon become as ubiquitous as McDonald's Golden Arches unless a rising tide pushes back. I'd prefer seeing Lady Bird Johnson's wildflowers along this nation's highways, than this coarsening attribute of a culture gone awry.