Just up the street from my house, you can see a square of sidewalk concrete stamped without fanfare:
Constructed by the W.P.A.
I got up close to take the picture. The print is small. There is no American flag emblazoned next to it, no garish eagle flapping powerful wings, no mention of President Roosevelt, no Madison Avenue motto.
I see no sign of the lifetime that has passed since the concrete was poured.
It is without blemish, still.
I count off 36 additional perfect squares of the same vintage before I come to one with a single crack down the middle.
This is quality workmanship, and (here my politically-biased fantasies kick in) I imagine that the men who poured these slabs were glad to have a job and took the work seriously.
These reminders are all over our town of 14,000.
When my children were little, we walked along this path, and I held forth about the chapter of American history that lay beneath our feet. It is just history to them. Hell, it’s history to me.
The (newer) concrete in front of my house has not fared as well.
We should have replaced it years ago.
Up the road, in Winnebago and Boone County, unemployment exceeded 15 percent this summer.