Monday, August 29, 2011

van's dance hall, topaz, and one seriously gross hotel

Want to see a temple on top of a revolving disco ball?  How about one that also has train tracks and a train that goes around it?  Drive through Delta and you will pass by one of the coolest places ever and not even know it. I never would have guessed this crazy dance hall would be nestled in the middle of this town. The history of the this place and the guy who dreamt this place up is interesting to say the least.  It would have been so much fun to see this place when it was up and running.   
 Cute cousins in the dance hall.
 We stopped and learned about the Japanese internment camp in Topaz.  Growing up, I always felt a little uncomfortable when people would talk about these kind of things.  The topic would inevitably bring some unwanted and awkward attention to me.  Then people don't really know what to say and instead of saying nothing they kind of let me know how bad they think it was.  Then I kind of end up trying to make it less awkward by saying something but usually make it more awkward.  So, though this trip was more about learning about history and less about me, I couldn't help but feel that same awkwardness.  And let me just get this out... One lady had the nerve bring up how she had heard about the horrible things that some of the Japanese people did during the war and so she doesn't really feel bad that these Japanese Americans were put into Topaz.  It made me sad to think people actually think this way.  All day, I just tried to come up with reasons (admittedly most of them were mean and the word ignoramus came into my thoughts more than once) why she would feel okay with taking everything from a person because someone of their same race did something horrible.  I think the thing that hurt the most was that in those situations when I felt so awkward when WWII came up, I would give myself pep talks so I wouldn't worry about what people thought.  Most of the pep talks included something about how people aren't that ignorant anymore.  And here she was proving me wrong.

Sadly, there isn't much to see out there anymore.  Not much of a memorial, not much of a monument, not much of a museum.  A few people have made an effort, but it takes money, And to get money, it has to be popular.  And, well, the topic just isn't that popular these days.    
Later that day we took a tour through the Lehman caves.  They were cool and very... cavey.
 Beautiful in a dark, damp, creepy sort of way, I kept thinking of the Dark Crystal.  Does anyone else remember that show.  I need to watch it again.  All I remember is being scared and confused.
 And to think, people used to go through these caves without tour guides, without flashlights, without cement paths...
 This little cave feature was cave bacon.  After 90 minutes in a cave, something silly like cave bacon all the sudden seems super clever and totally interesting.  
 My compliments to the snack stand there for having great chocolate ice cream.  I would know, I had two.
 And after seeing Topaz and feeling so grateful that I was born when I was, I still couldn't be grateful for our single wide of a motel.  Just remembering that place makes me want to cringe and go put my flip flops on.  
 My kids didn't mind.  That is because it had a TV.  They were happy as can be.  Even the baby was pleased.  This picture makes me want to kiss those little fresh-outta-bed bed head kids (and check to make sure nothing is touching those gross floors).
On this part of the trip I learned:
-That a sleepy little town can have an quirky awesome place like Van's Dance Hall.
-That maybe it's just human nature to not want to remember the bad.  But maybe we don't learn from it if we don't remember it.  
-I am glad I am not a cave person.
-That I should never take comfort when I hear the phrase, "It's the nicest hotel in town."
-A good chocolate ice cream cone can drown out many a sorrows.  

Trip to Topaz and Lehman caves... recorded.


Emily said...

those caves are awesome. My family went there once when I was little and I remember being so scared.

Have you ever read "The Children of Topaz" by Michael Tunnel? It's based on the actual journal entries and artwork of a third-grade class. Beautiful. Eye-opening. Inspiring. Heartbreaking. I used it every year when I taught world history in 6th grade and it always left such animpression on the students. I'm going to have all my kids read it.

Malea said...

Loved this blog entry. Every word sucked me in. I'm so blessed to have you as a friend. :)


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