Yesterday should not have been such a splendid day. November has advanced too far to be wearing such bright foliage. I executed the drive from Columbus to Gambier in right angles instead of the more direct diagonal, so it took a long time. Traveling back through history requires patience.
Reassuringly, street signs began to tell me I was on Mt. Vernon Road. Usability suffered a severe detriment when old naming conventions gave way to numbers. If Route 161 were still commonly referred to as Dublin-Granville Road, I might not reach as often for a map.
It has become unfashionable to design a corporate logo using an image as a stand-in for the name of a business. Signs marking The Golden Lamb and any of the variety of enterprises known as the Cardinal Company seem quaint. Yet driving through Jacksontown, Newark, and Utica, past businesses that had preserved their old pictorial trademarks, I found visual clues distinctly memorable. Literacy hasn’t improved the speed with which we recognize when to turn off the road into the parking lot.
A row of enormous plywood ice cream cones painted in unnatural colors relaxed me. Quirky placards caught my imagination. A bakery offered pumpkin pies for $3. How was that possible? My mind flew back to the city, computing the cost of a can of purée.
I passed houses decorated with gingerbread that looked as though it belonged on a Chinese dragon, and I wondered what the builders had found pleasantly familiar back in 1887.
When at last I reached Kenyon College, there were no arrows signaling its new literary festival. In the manner of students and Internet technology and everything young, it seemed to say, We know we’re here.