Sunday, January 16, 2011

Rochester A Tourist Mecca?

April 1967
  I listened in on the conversation of a couple of public-spirited Rochesterites were having recently. It seems, they agreed, that every town in the country has some sort of a tourist attraction going for them. Tourists are hungry for anything. So what does Rochester have?
  Well, there’s Meadow Brook concerts. And the Meadow Brook plays. And there’s the Christmas parade. But to take advantage of any of these events, one must be in town on the right day.
  The event doesn’t need to be a block-buster. For instance, my home county in Ohio was named after a Colonel William Crawford who in French and Indian War times blundered his way into Indian country and got himself burned at the stake. For many years, re-enactments of the burning was a big event, even though they ignored the fact that colonel was only captured in our county but his actual barbecue took place two counties away.
  A few years ago, I paid out good money up North to have the kids watch some chickens hatch. Last year in Sudbury, Ontario, we shelled out several bucks a head to take an elevator down 70 feet to a mock nickel mine. Rochester’s history, though interesting, never handed us any real exciting moments. Oh, there was the day on August 19, 1939 when the 183-foot-high Detroit Urban Railway powerhouse chimney was toppled as a huge throng watched. And there was that big day in 1872 that the first train came pulling into town. .
  So far, the only suggestion I’ve heard at this point involves Joe Pinkerton, local druggist who two weeks ago was held up by a gunman who escaped with $503. You might be surprised at the tourist attraction Joe could build up if he staged a re-enactment of the “Big Hold Up of 1967” every hour on the hour over at his store. Would you pay out three bucks a head to see that?
  Sorry Joe… there’s gotta something better than that.
* * *
  SPEAKING OF HOLD-UPS, last week I had my very first encounter with the Internal Revenue Service. I lost.
  For weeks I’ve been waiting for my 1966 tax refund. A brown envelope finally arrived two weeks ago. Instead of a check, it turned out to be a mandatory invitation from the Pontiac IRS office to appear last week. Seems that instead of worrying about my 1966 refund, they were still concerned about my 1965 figures.
  For a week I hustled through boxes and envelopes, pulling together fragments of my 1965 return. Having moved twice since then didn’t help. Figuring I had everything well organized and substantiated, I calmly entered the Federal Building in Pontiac and took a seat. A pleasant young lady approached and asked for my letter. From then on, it was sheer panic. I fumbled through pocket after pocket and couldn’t find the letter. She found my file without it. Then we sat down.
  On her desk was a portable radio playing music, presumably to calm the nerves of customers. It didn’t work. I fumbled through an assortment of checks and receipts to substantiate my donations. Then came a large assortment of checks and receipts to pursue a complicated claim for medical deductions. My well-rehearsed presentation drew a blank several times. It really fell apart, however, when it came to my claim for a deduction I made for a rental property. Forty-five minutes later, I signed a documents that showed I owed another $89.12. That more than cancelled my 1965 refund claim!
  Returning to my car, I reached for my car keys and from a pocket pulled out the letter I had been looking for. And still today, there’s no sign of the 1966 refund. In fact, I almost wish they would keep it all and just forget about little old me.