Friday, July 1, 2011

My Road Trip/Quest, day 5: Ode to Modesto, my temporary home, and Nobody's Got Modesto's Goat...

"In 1912, the downtown Modesto Arch, located at 9th and I streets, was built for a cost of $1,200. The illuminating arch holds 668 lights, stands 25 feet high at its center, and spans 75 feet across I Street. Details of a 1911 contest reveal that the slogan for the arch, "Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health," was selected by a committee of the Modesto Business Men's Association. They paid Sam Harbaugh $3 for his winning slogan."

One of the historic sites gave this straight-forward, no nonsense description of the birth of the Modesto Arch which still graces the I Street downtown Modesto entrance. But the site neglects to add the fact that this chosen slogan that paid out the big bucks to Sam Harbaugh is the second place winner. The first place slogan was:


When the arch was christened in 1912 with a bottle of canal water, nobody could disturb Modesto's calm self-assured sense of civic identity as a center of water, wealth, contentment and health. Nobody had their goat, which represents a level of confidence that could remain unflustered. (I had to Google the phrase to be sure of its true meaning!) From those odd but proud beginnings grew the Modesto of today... can you imagine arriving at the beginning of the 21st century with a civic landmark still standing tall, proclaiming a 19th century expression involving goat-snatching?

Gone are the two majestic flagpoles with the waving American flags. The neat rows of brick faced buildings are replaced by random, un-landscaped parking lots and scads of unmatched modern edifaces. The current close proximity to the monument about city pride of a McDonald's and a Taco Bell probably wasn't foreseen by the health touting Modesto founders. THAT might have got their goat, for sure...

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