America, the `henged'

THE summer solstice is celebrated in Salisbury, England, on the Stonehenge reservation. This summer some alleged descendants of the Druids held forth in what they deemed a proper pagan celebration of the sun's ecliptic course but which came closer to the antics of a hard-rock video group. This was done under the eyes of the police, who arrested their normal quota. Now while the United States can claim its fair share of pagans, it can't seem to come up with a decent summer solstice. It might help if the US had a Stonehenge. The real Stonehenge was built between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago, and it is unlikely Americans are going to stumble on something like it on their side of the Atlantic.

An attempt to remedy this deficiency has been made out near Alliance, Neb., where James Reinders is building a ``carhenge'' on four acres of his wheat field. As the name implies, it is made up of the chassis of 20 old cars and a discarded ambulance, set on end in a circle rising 11 feet in the air, with spacing identical to Stonehenge. So far as I know, there are no Druids in Nebraska, and Mr. Reinders attributes no religious or astronomical significance to his undertaking.

In fact, he says apologetically that there are no huge stone monoliths lying around in that part of the country - but what it does have is plenty of derelict cars. And like builders throughout the ages, one uses the materials that come to hand. Some Nebraskans think it is a scenic horror. The sheriff of Box Butte County has investigated complaints and, while he finds the results ugly, he did not find them illegal.

Surveying his work, Reinders says: ``My wife, Vi, thinks this is one of the stupidest things I've ever done.'' Maybe so, but before Reinders's effort, America had no henge at all - and no country should be left completely unhenged.

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