My Childhood

Better than macaroni art

The summer I was to turn 14, my Dad and two of his sisters planned a month-long cross-country camping trip for all of us to enjoy together. This trip coincided with a trip my best friend was taking to Texas. She had invited me and two other friends to go with her and I was incredibly upset when I realized I would miss it to go camping for 30 days. I’m fairly certain I whined and pouted about it enough to make my Dad consider leaving me in the Badlands.

Of course, as an adult? I want nothing more than to be able to do the same thing with my kids someday. And if they whine like I did? I’m packing them in the trunk with the tent. I’m not as tolerant as my father was.

One of the first places we stopped was The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. It is exactly what the name implies, more or less. It’s like a corn museum. Decorated with corn. Full of displays and exhibits about corn. Corn. Corn. Corn. And more corn.

It was every bit as exciting as it sounds. Now, imagine being a bitchy 13-year old at the Corn Palace. Or worse, imagine being the parent of the bitchy 13-year old.

As bored as I was there, I have often spoken of the place flatteringly because I was truly amazed by the murals done entirely in corn on the outside of the building. If you Google Images of the Corn Place, you can see what I mean. To make an intricate mural using only corn, in it’s various naturally occurring colors, is damn impressive. I can’t even replicate those pictures using crayons, much less produce. Much less doing a new set of murals EVERY YEAR. As a museum, it was a bit boring (13 year-old Zoot: “A bit? Only a bit?”), but as a work of art? I am still amazed.

So, image my disappointment when I heard they weren’t going to be able to re-decorate this year. The dry growing season has hurt their supply, especially of the colorful corn. I’m certain the farmers are more concerned with their income, than with the outside of some museum, but it makes me sad. I mean, some say global warming has depleted the ozone, poisoned our land and our water, changed our climates and magnified our severe weather. Whatever. It has now screwed with The Corn Palace. I’m officially pissed.

11 thoughts on “Better than macaroni art”

  1. Seeing the Corn Palace as a 13 year old sounds like an excellent source of photos for the I’m So Berhon pool on Flickr!

  2. Holy shit, dude, that’s really cool. There is a large contingent of South Dakotans at my husband’s firm; I shall have to speak with them of the Corn Palace.

    What is it with you Catholics and the crazy-ambitious cross-country camping trips? Mike’s family used to do stuff like that, too.

  3. Okay. so at first I was like “corn palace”??? what the heck? then I looked at the pictures and I am totally going to take my 10yr old there, but I will wait until she is 13 and wants to make her own plans. ha ha. pure torture.

  4. We were obviously two completely different 13 yr olds, because I had a similar vacation with my family that year. Only my dad REFUSED to stop at the Corn Palace. This was after we saw 412 signs for it and I was all excited. Still haven’t gotten over it.

  5. I never went to the corn palace as a kid & totally felt like I’d been ripped off. I also didn’t get to go to Wall Drug or Rushmore – totally ripped off.

    I dragged the whole family across MN & SD to see these things & I feel right in the world now. Although it seemed weird – the Corn Palace was amazing to see – the corn artwork is so hard to describe. Truly sad that there won’t be a redecorating this year

  6. So according to family legend, my great-grandmother was the second white child born in Mitchell, SD. I’ve never been there but as the parent of a 13 year old daughter, I’m sure it really was pure hell (for your folks)!

  7. Had to comment on this one…I too was a sulky 13 year old at the Corn Palace, back in 1989! And I would totally go back, now that I’m over the pouting and all. Sad about the redecorating – I still have a piece of corn from the outside of the wall there (nerd!).

  8. We saw the Corn palace this year, although we didn’t go in. It was still impressive, even from the outside.
    My God, though, driving through SD was so incredibly boring, except for the Badlands. The entire hellish trip was worth it. Oh, and Rushmore too. But God, those Badlands. *sigh* Way cool.
    Now my kids? Hated us for getting to the Corn Palace ten minutes after closing time. Oops.

  9. i know we’ve talked about both of us being dragged there when growing up so i should have nothing but negative images and thoughts about the place.

    and yet….like you…..that makes me kinda sad.

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