Wednesday, July 20, 2011

ag crash monument

ag crash monument,
smashed and gutted, burrowed nose 
down in a cornfield

Driving home from Chicago on Highway 71, we stop to look at the wreckage of an airplane on the corner of a cornfield just south of Norway, Illinois. The small, 1940s, two-prop passenger Beech Craft C45H N3657G SNAF-461 is burrowed nose down into the ground, smashed and gutted. It's secured to the ground with heavy chains and a coat of bright silver paint covers up the accumulated graffiti of previous years. The green memorial sign in front of the monument does not tell the story of the crash of an airplane, but rather a different kind of crash: "Dedicated to all farmers and ag-related business folks that have lived thru the 'Agricultural Crash' of the 1980s. Mervin & Phyllis Eastwold. Norwegian Implement Co." The corn in the field behind the monument stretches out in tall, green rows, acre upon acre. Ironically, the 1980s crash was likely caused by too many farmers becoming too dependent on the production of too few commodities. Not much has changed. Mile after mile, as we drive through Illinois and Iowa, all we see is corn and soybeans, interrupted from time to time by signs such as this one: "343 acres for sale, will divide." In the middle of what was once nothing but farmland, cornfields are being engulfed by acre upon acre of a new, fast-growing crop, suburban developments of gigantic single-family homes.

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