My earlier post on Tom Wolfe and the upcoming release of his new novel put me in mind of one of Mr. Wolfe’s observations on America and its media elites. Ed Driscoll quotes Mr. Wolfe from an interview with the Wall Street Journal:
And so many of [the media elites] are so caught up in this kind of metropolitan intellectual atmosphere that they simply don't go across the Hudson River. They literally do not set foot in the United States. We live in New York in one of the two parenthesis states. They're usually called blue states--they're not blue states, the states on the coast. They're parenthesis states--the entire country lies in between.
Mr. Wolfe makes the same observation in the C-SPAN interview I linked to earlier. I mention this because the Dunphy family’s summer travels included a trip to Missouri, specifically the St. Louis area, where the Divine Mrs. Dunphy has family ties. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, but I thank God for giving me the good sense to marry a woman from the Midwest.
I preface the following by saying that one can find nice people everywhere and rotten people everywhere, and as one travels the country it is only the proportions that change from place to place. That said, my recent travels have only reinforced my impression that the most favorable ratio is to be found in the Midwest (and the South, but we’ll leave that for another time).
While attending a Cardinals’ game at Busch Stadium (a magnificent ballpark), I was struck by how polite and orderly the crowd was. The game was a sellout, with more than 45,000 in attendance. When the game started in the early evening it was close to 100 degrees, and it hadn’t cooled off much by the time the last out was recorded. As a police officer of long experience, I can say that here in Los Angeles the combination of a big crowd and high temperatures often leads to trouble. I saw not a hint of it at Busch Stadium that evening.
Our seats for the game were on the upper level, and as we approached the escalator I was amazed at the way people queued up for the ride upstairs. At Dodger Stadium, there would have been a mass of people squeezing and jostling and elbowing others aside, but the St. Louis folks just formed a line, two by two, and patiently waited their turn. It looked as though no one even considered barging the queue. (I’ve noticed the same behavior at Wrigley Field in Chicago, home to some of the nicest people--and worst politicians--to be found anywhere in the country.)
I put the question to the Ricochetti: What is it about the Midwest that produces such kind and well-mannered people? Is there something in the water supply than can be piped out to California?