Janesville, Wisconsin, my wife’s home town was in the news again this week. Not too surprising being that her current favorite son, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who chooses to keep his family in Janesville and, when he is home on weekends, which is often goes to the church in which Mary and I were married.
Janesville gained a lot of notoriety when both the Republican and Democratic candidates stumped there during the recent Wisconsin primaries. This was unusual and hadn’t been seen in the many years since, what was then the oldest continuous G<M assembly plant in the country closed its doors for good, losing, what was the primary revenue source for the city of 30,000 in one fell swoop.
There was a time, some twenty years back, when for some unknown reason, Janesville was in national news on several closely-timed occasions. First there was the story of the white buffalo, an extremely rare occurrence, felt by the Native American tribes to be a harbinger of the god’s favor as the buffalo ages and eventually loses its white coat. The farmer who own the young animal rebuilt his farm to handle the huge crowds who came to see the young animal, selling trinket and getting paid for pictures of the rare beast.
About the same time we saw a story about a Ku Klux Klan rally where Geraldo Rivera stood bravely in the path of the white euphemists and defended a rather small minority population against ridicule and scorn.
To me, the ultimate breaking news dealt with picture of the water purification plant, which had somehow been leaked on the internet for any and all to see where and how the water supply to the entire town was cleansed and distributed. Mary and I felt that perhaps the story was that if the terrorists could defile the water system in Janesville, nowhere in the country was safe, or perhaps there was a plea for national funding to erect a barrier against contamination. Whatever, the moment passed and once can only feel that the news “stringer” moved from Janesville to other environs, since the stories worthy of national prominence slowed and stopped.
Until Paul Ryan.
Mary’s mother is buried in the Janesville cemetery, and Mary’s sister, who lives in Berlin, Wisconsin planted flowers near the grave, only to run into a new regulation that forbid permanent plantings in favor of cut flowers, which were removed after a short time. This angered her sister, and we were tasked with checking on the grave when we visited Janesville to ensure her grave was kept up. On one occasion when we were so doing, we took our grandson, named Ryan Kelley (Mary’s maiden name) FitzGerald with us. As he wandered through the cemetery he was awestruck with the number of graves that bore is first name: Ryan. Literally dozens of stone, many large and ornate, rose above ground, demanding attention. Of course that was the Ryan family, the same as now is represented in the House of Representatives, third in line for the Presidency. To this day we haven’t the heart or inclination to shatter his observation.
Rep. Ryan has said he is not yet on-board to support Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for President. Mary has told me that she, “Couldn’t pull the level for Trump.” Although we actually use a cursor and enter to vote in California, I am inclined to think that there may be a Janesville mindset that is common to those born and raised there.
Perhaps it is something someone put in the water?
In my next Post, which I hope will be soon, I intend to explore why registration in 5 and 10-k events has fallen off almost 10% in the last year. Please join me.