Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Saturday Snapshot #5

Photo by Tom Peters

        Today's snapshot comes from Tom Peters—that's No. 2 for him, if you're keeping track. It's of the Kankakee River at Momence, and for those who, like me, had no flippin' idea where Momence is, my special journalistic skills uncovered that it is a small town about 50 miles due south of the Loop.
      The downtown is well-preserved—it was used for some exterior scenes in the 2002 Tom Hanks movie, "Road to Perdition." Not his best film, true, but it had its premiere at the Chicago Theater, and Hanks delighted the audience by showing up and giving us all a wave. Well, I thought it was cool he showed up; I really can't speak for everybody else.
     I can't find another town in American called "Momence"—named for a local Potawatomi leader, Isidore Momence, or Moness. Though to be honest, my search was startlingly brief. It's been a long week, and you're invited to prove me wrong.
     Momence's 19th century history seems romantically rough-edged.
Poster from 1968 festival
     "Here supplies of powder and shot were to be had," Burt E. Burroughs wrote in his 1923 Tales of An Old Border Town and Along the Kankakee, "and here, also, a fellow with a 'thirst' could deluge the inner man to his heart's content with no one to say him nay, so long as he had a raccoon or mink pelt left to pay for it."
    Nor is Momence's charm confined entirely to the dimly-lit halls and corridors of the times long gone. For the past 81 years, Momence has held an annual Gladiolus Festival. This year's was Aug. 8-12—just missed it!—and included a "Kid's Parade" (that must be some kid) a Reptile Show, a Flea Market and a "Princess and Queen Coronation."
    Checking over the rules for that last event, I couldn't help but pause over this note on Glad Fest Royalty competition essays: "The candidates will be answering a simple question in a written format and provide an interview with a panel of outside judges. The candidate's answers will not be judged on grammar, punctuation or length. They will be solely judged on content as it pertains to the topic."
     I might argue that grammar, punctuation and length all speak to quality, and have a direct bearing on whether any individual, no matter the size of the town they dwell in, can legitimately entertain aspirations to royalty. There seems to be a story buried there—my guess is there were complaints about a past winning entry, because the rules go on to observe that a past winner was very long, leaving off "So stop griping." But it does not behoove any self-respecting city slicker to put small town charm under too fine a microscope. Besides, my plans for next summer are completely open: a visit to the Gladiolus Festival might be in order, and I don't want to turn them against me before I even show up.


  1. Illinois has some beautiful places, not many of them observable from interstate highways.


  2. Chicago Magazine had a recent piece about taking a week-long drive, zig-zagging the state of Illinois, from Chicago down to the southern border, and back.
    THAT would certainly be an experience :)

    1. That looks interesting. We talked about doing it this summer but we drove through Missouri and into Kansas instead. We did stop in Vandalia to see the old State House, on our way to St. Louis.


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