Main Street By Sinclair Lewis Chapters 35-38

"Fellow citizens, there's a lot of folks, even right here in this fair state, fairest and richest of all the glorious union, that stand up on their hind legs and claim that the East and Europe put it all over the golden Northwestland. Now let me nail that lie right here and now. 'Ah-ha,' says they, 'so Jim Blausser is claiming that Gopher Prairie is as good a place to live in as London and Rome and — and all the rest of the Big Burgs, is he? How does the poor fish know?' says they. Well I'll tell you how I know! I've seen 'em! I've done Europe from soup to nuts! They can't spring that stuff on Jim Blausser and get away with it! And let me tell you that the only live thing in Europe is our boys that are fighting there now! London — I spent three days, sixteen straight hours a day, giving London the once-over, and let me tell you that it's nothing but a bunch of fog and out-of-date buildings that no live American burg would stand for one minute. You may not believe it, but there ain't one first-class skyscraper in the whole works. And the same thing goes for that crowd of crabs and snobs Down East, and next time you hear some zob from Yahooville-on-the-Hudson chewing the rag and bulling and trying to get your goat, you tell him that no two-fisted enterprising Westerner would have New York for a gift!

"Now the point of this is: I'm not only insisting that Gopher Prairie is going to be Minnesota's pride, the brightest ray in the glory of the North Star State, but also and furthermore that it is right now, and still more shall be, as good a place to live in, and love in, and bring up the Little Ones in, and it's got as much refinement and culture, as any burg on the whole bloomin' expanse of God's Green Footstool, and that goes, get me, that goes!"

Half an hour later Chairman Haydock moved a vote of thanks to Mr. Blausser.

The boosters' campaign was on.

The town sought that efficient and modern variety of fame which is known as "publicity." The band was reorganized, and provided by the Commercial Club with uniforms of purple and gold. The amateur baseball-team hired a semi-professional pitcher from Des Moines, and made a schedule of games with every town for fifty miles about. The citizens accompanied it as "rooters," in a special car, with banners lettered "Watch Gopher Prairie Grow," and with the band playing "Smile, Smile, Smile." Whether the team won or lost the Dauntless loyally shrieked, "Boost, Boys, and Boost Together — Put Gopher Prairie on the Map — Brilliant Record of Our Matchless Team."

Then, glory of glories, the town put in a White Way. White Ways were in fashion in the Middlewest. They were composed of ornamented posts with clusters of high-powered electric lights along two or three blocks on Main Street. The Dauntless confessed: "White Way Is Installed — Town Lit Up Like Broadway — Speech by Hon. James Blausser — Come On You Twin Cities — Our Hat Is In the Ring."

The Commercial Club issued a booklet prepared by a great and expensive literary person from a Minneapolis advertising agency, a red-headed young man who smoked cigarettes in a long amber holder. Carol read the booklet with a certain wonder. She learned that Plover and Minniemashie Lakes were world-famed for their beauteous wooded shores and gamey pike and bass not to be equalled elsewhere in the entire country; that the residences of Gopher Prairie were models of dignity, comfort, and culture, with lawns and gardens known far and wide; that the Gopher Prairie schools and public library, in its neat and commodious building, were celebrated throughout the state; that the Gopher Prairie mills made the best flour in the country; that the surrounding farm lands were renowned, where'er men ate bread and butter, for their incomparable No. 1 Hard Wheat and Holstein-Friesian cattle; and that the stores in Gopher Prairie compared favorably with Minneapolis and Chicago in their abundance of luxuries and necessities and the ever-courteous attention of the skilled clerks. She learned, in brief, that this was the one Logical Location for factories and wholesale houses.

"THERE'S where I want to go; to that model town Gopher Prairie," said Carol.

Kennicott was triumphant when the Commercial Club did capture one small shy factory which planned to make wooden automobile-wheels, but when Carol saw the promoter she could not feel that his coming much mattered — and a year after, when he failed, she could not be very sorrowful.

Retired farmers were moving into town. The price of lots had increased a third. But Carol could discover no more pictures nor interesting food nor gracious voices nor amusing conversation nor questing minds. She could, she asserted, endure a shabby but modest town; the town shabby and egomaniac she could not endure. She could nurse Champ Perry, and warm to the neighborliness of Sam Clark, but she could not sit applauding Honest Jim Blausser. Kennicott had begged her, in courtship days, to convert the town to beauty. If it was now as beautiful as Mr. Blausser and the Dauntless said, then her work was over, and she could go.

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As research for Carol's new Gopher Prairie Dramatic Association, she and her husband attend several plays in