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Arlene Weiner: The All-American Truck Stop

In Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was our habitual stop                
between the place where we were raising our kids
and where we were raised. Half-way. 
In the section reserved for truckers, phones 
at every table. We ate in the regular section. 
Sometimes, it’s true, we stopped at the Big Boy 
with its smiling effigy of the Boy, as big 
as our own two boys, holding up a platter of burgers,
but the All-American was our go-to place. 
 
Flag-waving was common then, time 
of Love It or Leave It—before then 
the flag flew in a foreign country, 
or on the moon, a declaration, 
Here an American stands, or stood, 
but then flag-waving passed into jingoism, 
signing hostility to those
who opposed hostilities in Vietnam.
 
It took quite a while before I noticed 
the etchings in glass of the football hero, 
the clippings about Jim Thorpe, 
who’d gone to—or been kidnapped to—
the Carlisle Indian School, and I realized 
the All-American Truck Stop 
was named for Jim Thorpe, All-American. 
 
Honor to Jim Thorpe, honor to those 
who honored him. The All-American Truck Stop 
has passed, and the Big Boy, too, 
the Chinese restaurant, the tattoo parlor. 
Our boys are men now, tall.
The truck stop’s a franchise. Last time 
I drove through, even the building 
that held the Army War College 
was vacant, up for sale.

Arlene Weiner is a poet and playwright who lives in Pittsburgh. Her books include City Bird (Ragged Sky, 2016).

Copyright 2021 Arlene Weiner

The All-American Truck Stop

8 comments on “Arlene Weiner: The All-American Truck Stop

  1. Mel Packer
    March 17, 2021

    Thoughts. 1. I remember that and the other truck stops well from few years hauling steel over the road, never great food, often lonely, nothing that bright lights could ever resolve. 2. The body of Jim Thorpe was at one point moved to two small towns in the Lehigh Valley which agreed to change their names from Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk to Jim Thorpe in a sales deal with Jim Thorpe’s widow who convinced the then down and out towns that taking his body would make Mauch Chunk/Jim Thorpe a major tourist attraction. It didn’t. His family sued for the right to return his body to ancestral burial grounds and the Supreme Court ruled against them and in favor of his widow, so Jim Thorpe remains buried and, I suspect, largely ignored in the town that he probably never knew in life. Today the town of Jim Thorpe is a thriving bed and breakfast scene for skiers, hikers, mountain bikers and kayakers, none of which are related in the least to the great Native American athlete Jim Thorpe. But if you go, drive by or stop in at the fantastic preserved mansion of Asa Packer who controlled much of the Lehigh Valley in the mid 1800s and was at least partially responsible for the murder of militant coal miners knowns as the Molly Maguires. Yes, he was one of my ancestors (but none of his money passed our way) and yes, he was a bastard whose grave deserves no honor.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Vox Populi
      March 17, 2021

      Thanks for the history lesson, Mel. I grew up idolizing Jim Thorpe and feeling outrage that he was denied his Olympic medals. He was a great athlete and the injustices he suffered in his life remain an important lesson to us all.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Ruth
    March 17, 2021

    Arlene Weiner is a wonderful poet.

    Liked by 2 people

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This entry was posted on March 17, 2021 by in Poetry, Social Justice and tagged , , , .

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