The sign next to the River Heritage Museum in downtown Cape Girardeau caught my attention last week as I was driving home.
"WELCOME BACK HOOK AND LADDER 1950 FIRETRUCK SEPT 29," it said.
I found the phrasing odd. It made me think that the fire truck had gone on vacation and was just now returning from a relaxing time such as summering in the Hamptons. I'm pretty sure that's not possible. Cars aren't sentient no matter what the creators of the Transformers, Herbie the Love Bug and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang might want us to believe.
But then again, what if our vehicles were alive and did things like humans do such as go on vacation? It made me wonder: Where would a 1950 fire truck actually go to relax?
I think the Hamptons are probably out of the question. A fire truck is a vehicle of action. It's a middle-class machine. It would be bored sitting on the beach all day and I'm sure it would quickly get irritated by snot-nose kids constantly pestering it to hose them down under the mid-day sun. So the beach is probably out.
But our town's little retired fire truck may have headed out west to help fight forest fires. I could see it doing that. Colorado has had its worst wildfire season in a decade and once a fire truck, always a fire truck. The authorities out there probably wouldn't have turned down the assistance of a stout little fire engine, even one that is 60-plus years old.
And then it may have continued heading west and stopped by the Burning Man Festival held every year in the desert of northern Nevada. While the everything-goes conduct of most visitors to this festival probably wouldn't be the vehicle's idea of a good time, any event that features a 100-foot-tall wooden effigy that is set on fire should have a fire truck nearby.
Or the truck may have decided that it had seen enough carnage and destruction wrought by fire and decided to pursue other interests such as being the first fire truck to climb Mount Everest or explore the Great Barrier Reef.
Maybe it went on that safari like it has always wanted to do, but never had the time, or after catching a tramp steamer to New Orleans spent a little time on Bourbon Street.
Considering that the welcome sign for the fire truck is facing the river -- there is a different message on the opposite side -- makes me think that the fire truck finished its journey on one of the paddlewheels that ply the Mississippi such as the American Queen. It would be coming home from that direction if that is the case.
While the fire truck was unavailable to be interviewed for this blog, the "official" story regarding the vehicle is that it was moved to another location to make room for a special Civil War exhibit the museum has been showing. Personally, I think that's what they want us to think. The photos below seem to indicate otherwise.