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Museum idea is too good to ditch

By DONNIE JOHNSTON

I’M SEEKING funding  for a new museum I’m hoping to build.

I’m ready to contact my congressman, senators and state legislators to see how much of that free government money they can round up in Richmond and Washington. You know, just attach a couple of million to some farm bill to get me going.

Why, even the county Board of Supervisors might want to appropriate $50,000 or so because this museum would be great for economic development and bring tourists to town by the droves.

What kind of museum am I hoping to start? Why, a Roadside Ditch Museum.

Hey! I can hear the chuckling out there: “A Roadside Ditch Museum? Has Old Donnie gone completely off his rocker?”

You bet your booties he hasn’t! This is a crackerjack idea! Roadside ditches are very important aspects of Americana. What would we do without them?

Besides, they’ve come up with every other kind of museum under the sun. This is about the only thing left, and I want to move forward with the idea before somebody else snaps it up.

I can hear potential donors asking now: Does Donnie even know anything about roadside ditches?

Listen, I don’t just sit here pecking on a computer keyboard all day. I get around! I drive down the highway every day and I always pay attention to what is in the ditches.

Growing up poor, I walked the highways and byways picking up pop bottles to cash in at my Aunt Dora’s store. Later in life, I picked up dead possums to skin and beer cans to sell as recyclable aluminum.

So, yes, all you skeptics, while I’ve never fallen into the gutter, I do know roadside ditches.

During my sojourns along the highways, I found everything from beer bottles to bed mattresses in ditches.

I’ve seen shoes and socks—indeed, almost every manner of clothing—lying in ditches. A couple of times, those clothes had a drunk attached to them.

Why, once I even found a refrigerator that had been tossed by the highway.

Now this is not something that just popped into my head. I’ve been considering this Roadside Ditch Museum idea for some time. In fact, I’ve even worked out a plan for its construction.

The museum will be an oval-shaped depression—perhaps 100 yards around—and will attempt to replicate a roadside ditch in every manner possible.

In fact, visitors will tour the museum right down there in the ditch, walking around and over the old newspaper pages, beer cans, mud and cigarette butts.

To the left will be a replica of a small, paved country highway with roadkill depicting all manner of animal life inhabiting the area (that should get me a financial contribution from animal activist groups) placed strategically along the gravel.

I can see it now, a deer carcass with a couple of buzzards perched on it lying just a few yards from a flattened polecat—complete with smell. (We want to make this authentic, right?)

On the other side will be a high road bank with blackberry bushes draping over, wild grapevines hanging down and persimmon sprouts starting to grow.

Occasionally a black snake will slither down into that ditch from the bank to add a little excitement to the tour.

But the real fun will begin with the rumble of thunder at the other end of the museum. Moments later, rain will wash down to remind visitors the real purpose of a roadside ditch (some believe it is just a receptacle for trash). It will almost be like the flume ride at Busch Gardens.

My plan is to make this Roadside Ditch Museum so authentic that tourists will walk away with a clear understanding of what it means be in the gutter.

But to do this I am going to need the help of the people and the government. Museums don’t get built without money. Stop sending your dollars to those TV preachers and use those greenbacks to help fund a project that truly represents America.

To attract contributors, I’m going to make sure that everything in this museum—from the flattened polecats to the hand-squashed beer cans—is American-made. Even the exhaust fumes from foreign cars will be rejected.

This museum project will be purely nonprofit, of course, although there will be a $10 entrance fee and I propose to receive a six-figure annual salary for running it. But that’s pretty standard stuff.

So let’s all get behind this idea and push this Roadside Ditch Museum project. It may be your last opportunity to help start a museum.

Donnie Johnston:

djohnston@freelancestar.com

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