Wednesday, August 05, 2009

That place we camped

Salon just put up a review of a history book about the Cahokia mound builders. This mysterious pre-Columbian group had a big city (for its day), and they built big mounds that are still geographic features of the southern Illinois landscape.

When I was a kid living in nearby Edwardsville, Ill., Cahokia Mounds State Park was where we went on Scout trips. One fateful weekend we camped there, along with other troops from nearby towns. It's an exaggeration to say that that weekend was a turning point in my life, but I can look back on on that 36-hour period and see attitudes and behaviors that set the tone for my entire childhood and adolescence. However, that has nothing to do with the Cahokia tribe, the subject of the book. I just want to say that the park then was adjacent to a drive-in movie whose screen we could clearly see from our camp site -- the outlines of which can clearly still be seen from the Google Maps satellite photo of the area by zooming in and looking just to the upper left of the "A" pin that marks the park itself. The mounds today are squeezed between two busy freeways.

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