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Wednesday, July 19, 2006 | Mom’s friend, Polly, was years ahead of her time. Way back in 1943 she was spotting targets for terrorists in Indiana that I bet even those folks at today’s Department of Homeland Security would have missed.
I remember the day Polly burst through the front door of Mom’s store in Sevastopol. She had startling news, “Icie, do you know what I just saw?”
My mom wasn’t surprised that her good friend saw something exciting. Polly had walked a mile down the road to visit a while. She saw something exciting every time she did that. Mom answered her question, “Heck a daisies, Polly, tell me what did you see?”
“You know that Jap chicken sexer? Well I just saw him parked at the twin bridges and he had the hood up on his car. I’m sure he had a camera under there and was taking pictures of the bridge. You know those folks are good with cameras.”
I suppose it might help if I explained things to folks who aren’t privy to the way folks talked in Kosciusko Country. Polly got away with using the derogatory word for Japanese because nobody back there recognized it as being derogatory. Political correctness was several decades away. You don’t want to hear what they called African Americans.
Secondly, a chicken sexer was a bona fide occupation. My home town of Sevastopol – population 32 plus a few dogs – was in the center of the largest egg producing area of the country. A chicken sexer was needed to determine the sex of chicks and eliminate the males before they ate up enough feed to cut into the profits. John Hayakawa was good at it, better than anybody else in fact. Still he was suspect. Although he was born in this country we all knew he could speak a few words in Japanese. Also he had relatives in California. What more did you need?
The twin bridges were actually just one bridge but it was constructed over a creek that ran diagonally under the highway, hence “twin bridges.” I’m certain Polly was the first to recognize its strategic importance. If it had been destroyed, one would have had to drive a mile out of his way to get to Mentone – population about 500. White City, with its six or seven people plus about a million chickens, could only be reached by driving around the entire square mile.
In Mom’s eyes, Polly only had one major drawback. She was a Republican, and like most Republicans she was sure that FDR refused to protect us from things like chicken sexers just to spite us. Indiana had given its favorite son, Weldell Willkie, a 25,000-vote edge plus its 14 electoral votes in the 1940 election.
Looking back across six decades I’m not so sure of all that. I imagine the twin bridges would be of less importance than San Diego’s mile-long Coronado Bridge. But maybe not. The National Asset Database compiled by the Department of Homeland Security recently issued the listed 8,591 potential terrorist targets in my home state, the one where I pay taxes. It kind of looks like whatever money Indiana missed out on in 1943, they are getting back in 2006.
I went back home again in Indiana a while back not knowing the peril they said I was in. One of those hot spots, The Amish Country Popcorn Company was in Berne, a mere 70 or so miles away.
As an aging Hoosier, I am kinda proud that my old state has finally been recognized as having so much importance in the eyes of our nation’s protectors and deciders. On the other hand I’m not so pleased that my taxes go to protect a popcorn factory!
Would I be far off base if I suggested that patronage was at work here? After all, the states that went overboard for Bush got much more attention – and more money. Proportionately, Indiana has more than 15 times as many hot spots as California.
I wonder if we Californians changed our voting habits if the federal government wouldn’t loosen up the purse strings a bit. On the other hand, that would mean voting for the fools that came up with this cockamamie idea in the first place.
No thanks. There are just some things Icie Taylor’s son can’t bring himself to do. She would surely turn over in her grave there in Harrison Township, even if the odds are that the cemetery is in the National Asset Database.
Keith Taylor is a retired navy officer living in Chula Vista. He can be reached at KRTaylorxyz@aol.com