Whistle while you swerve

One day as my car rumbled over the broken and patched pavement of Bismarck Street and I grumbled over the rumbling, another car passed me in the left lane. As it trundled by, I wondered why anyone would endanger his tires by going 30 miles an hour on this pavement.

I swerved to miss a chuckhole, only to catch my tires in a two-inch slot. Why couldn't they put in the sewer pipes before the pavement? Too easy, maybe. OK, if they must add sewers as afterthoughts, why can't they fill the ditch so my tires won't catch in the slot?

No time to answer. I had to swerve out of the slot to miss a manhole four inches above the surface. Thud! Darn. Didn't quite miss. Oh well, the higher cost of street maintenance would probably cancel my savings from reduced tire wear. Rumble. OOM! That was a new one. BUDR NYER PAH!

BUDR? NYER? PAH? Inspiration hit! I slammed on the brake, made a U-turn and drove back to the beginning of Bismarck Street. I retraced my route at exactly 30 miles an hour, the speed that other car had gone. Yap. There it was:

OOM PAH, OOM PAH, OOM PHA PAH

MY PAH PAH'S BETTER'N YOUR (BUDR NYER) PAH. . . .

Whoops! A PAH is missing, but the pattern was unmistakable. I was playing the start of a german march on the street. The street was a tuba -- no, a bass fiddle -- and my car was the bow. Yet no matter how I tried to diddle the fiddle, I couldn't get that last PAH.

Now I had to know. What were the plans for Bismarck Street" Would the other PAH be built? Was the entire march to be completed? Perhaps they just wanted to titillate our aesthetic awareness, to short our score sheet, so to speak. That afternoon, I called the city engineer's office and asked if they planned to complete the German march on Bismarck Street. They were polite, but cool.

Undaunted, I dashed off a letter to the city engineer complaining of a nonexistent hole where the note was missing. Sure enough, my reply came by return mail:

". . . underground repairs at that location soon. At that time, the repair you requested will be . . . ."

Wonderful! Now I knew the bureaucrats were creatively employed. Our city beautification plan was more than pavement deep.

Since then, I've found that our city fathers have orchestrated "Allouette" on La Rue Boulevard, "Pomp and Circumstance" on King's Road, and "Hail to the chief" on President's Way. But last night I found the best one on State Street. Believe it not, most of "The Star-Spangled Banner" runs the length of the street. It's not finished, though -- and with good reason, I thought. Our national anthem is impossible to sing, let alone play on a street. The tune hits its highest notes at "red glare" near Ninth Avenue, and again near the end at "o'er the land of the free." No street could ever get that high, so it was no surprise that State Street is all torn up at Ninth and ends at the river before the song ends. I figured the city gave up at those places.

But this morning I read in the paper that the new freeway will cross State near Ninth Avenue. I called the highway commission and, as you'd expect, they plan a steel mesh bridge over the freeway -- the kind that whines when you drive over it. The high notes in the middle of "The Star-Spangled Banner," of course. And it's only a matter of time until they build a bridge across the river to finish the song.

It's nice to know our street planners and buildres have found the link between engineering skills and creative genius. Our engineers are the maestros and we're all the lead fiddlers.

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