The discovery

It was summertime, and the restlessness was upon me. By great good luck I landed a job driving a businessman's brand-new Mercury sedan from New York to Los Angeles. His company was transferring him west and he preferred to fly rather than sweat out the long drive. He gave me enough money to cover car expenses and a nice bonus besides.

I really enjoyed the first few days on the road. The Mercury handled nicely, and I loved the way that old sloppy summer had thrown whole bucketsful of its different-colored paint all over pastures, trees, hills, and mountains.

But when I got to Kansas and the scenery flattened out into miles and miles of yellow wheat fields, I began to have regrets I'd taken such a job. Sometimes that monotonous, monochromatic scenery made me so sleepy that to keep from conking out at the wheel, running off the road and demolishing the Mercury, I had to pull over to the side of the road and take a nap. But even in my nap-dreams I saw wheat fields, wheat fields, wheat fields.

There was nothing I wouldn't have given to see something non-flat. Or even the mirage of something non-flat. Like a mountain range. Or even a mountain. Or maybe even some rolling hills. Or one rolling hill. Or a hill that had stopped rolling.

I would even have settled for a rock, and not necessarily a big rock. A little rock. Half a little rock. Anything. I wasn't proud.

I'd about lost all hope when I saw a tall silo looming up ahead of me. I was so grateful for some vertical sign of life that I cheered and waved at it out the window. I think I even shouted, ''Don't go away!'' And I could feel in the vibrations of the steering wheel that the Mercury itself would have liked to do some somersaults of joy.

I stopped near the silo, got out and looked up. It appeared to be about three hundred feet tall. Spotting a ladder hooked to one side, I went over and started climbing. Maybe from the top I could see where the wheat fields ended.

When I got to the top I held on to the ladder and looked all around me. Clear to the distant horizon lay nothing but wheat fields. The very sight took my breath away and made me so dizzy I nearly lost my grip and fell.

Good heavens, I thought, this must be some sort of uncharted pole! Some sort of Middle Pole covered with wheat fields in between the North and South ones covered with snow.

Trembling with the awesomeness of my discovery, I took out my pencil and drew a small American map on the shiny silo top. Then I wrote underneath, ''I hereby claim this Pole for America!'' and signed myself Admiral Byrd Mazel.

Then I hurried back to the Mercury and headed west to spread the word.

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