We exaggerate misfortune and happiness alike. We are never as bad off or as happy as we say we are. –Honore de Balzac–

Superlatives spewed from
Every pore–rendered every
Spoken word null and void
Cornucopias of awesomeness
Left room for little else
What was to be or what was not
Lost in one-way love affairs
That turned out to be
Extended glad hands
Offered big bundles
Of sympathy, tied
With ribbons
Of false piety
The rest, accepted disaster
As their lot in life
Moved on, to
Other things


for sale

For those in the market for something unusual or offbeat–the world’s largest ketchup bottle is on the market for a mere $200,000.

How could this be? The giant “Brooks Tangy Ketchup” bottle loomed over the Collinsville, IL skyline for years. Nobody cared that it wasn’t really a ketchup bottle.  Instead,  it was a water tower.

It’s a reminder of former glory days when the spicy condiment was processed locally. The ketchup bottle is a local landmark–something to talk about.  It’s like the statues of Paul Bunyan in Minnesota and Maine.

roadside landmark

For years, billed as, the “World’s Largest Catsup Bottle” it was part of St. Louis area attractions, along with nearby Cahokia Mounds State Park and the St. Louis Gateway Arch.  Located just off I-70 south on highway 159, the giant bottle welcomed visitors to the south side of town.

As a former area resident, I’m appalled that some day the giant ketchup bottle could be gone.  Where will that leave Collinsville, IL?   As locals would tell you, the area is the largest producer of horseradish–another flavorful condiment. There are no giant horseradish statues. Maybe there should be?  A giant horseradish root on a pedestal just wouldn’t be the same.

catsup bottle water tower
An endangered highway landmark–the Brooks Catsup water tower

 At face value it’s just an old water tower.  The property on which it rests fronts a major highway.  It’s much more than prime real estate to me,  It’s a reminder of pre-interstate days when people drove slower with the windows rolled down.

Summer vacation days when Johnny rode in the back seat of the family sedan with his sister Susie and little brother Timmy.  They argued constantly over who got the window seat.

Mom, Dad look–it’s a giant ketchup bottle!  Can we stop and look?

Dad scowled in silence.  Mom finally gave in.

All right we’ll stop for a few minutes.  Only if you’re good–no fighting or arguing.

Whatever the outcome–Brooks ketchup will remain my favorite. Because, as you may not know–“It’s The Tangy-est.”





From the yeasty warmth of freshly baked bread to the clean, summery haze of lavender flowers, we all have favorite smells we find particularly comforting. What’s yours?

The smell of cut grain
Wheat straw, under
Blazing summer skies
Heat radiated, with
Refracted squiggly
Lines, deceived
The eyes with
Distant mirages
Amplified the
Sweetness of
Fresh cut
Alfalfa hay

hard work


The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.  –George Bernard Shaw–

The “Captain” stood
On the front porch
Stretched and yawned
Probed the surroundings
For weaknesses–found none
He was back in control
Stronger than ever
Nobody paid attention
To bouts of cynicism

Everybody got one chance
If they didn’t know wrongs
From rights by this time
It was too late, anyway
Losers couldn’t be winners
Because, that went against
The natural order of things
It had been a lifetime coming
He’d seen and heard enough
Lies disguised as truth
The illusions of youth
What was for dinner?

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