Friday, March 6, 2009

Flower Power

Be careful how deep you dig. Especially in a dog park.

Today we visit Petal Dog Park in Petal, Miss., outside Hattiesburg.
We're traveling with two large dogs, so it's only fair they get to
play this morning, then Allen and I can ride the Longleaf Trace bike
trail this afternoon guilt free.

At first glance, I see many above ground treasures: six big shade
trees, many benches under those trees and, up against the far fence,
an agility course.

I stroll past the equipment and that's when I see it, the THING that
captures my attention and piques my curiosity for most of the day: a
cement silo inside the park.

I walk up to it and around it. It's about 10 feet tall, and maybe 8
feet in diameter. What is it? I raise my camera to take a picture and
see, out in the field beyond the park, two more of these things, like
sentinels at intervals.

I can't help but think of the secret missile stories of my youth, when
we all talked about the silos in the middle of nowhere actually hiding
long-range missiles with nuclear warheads. Do you think?

At the end of the day, I fire up my Mac and burrow into Petal to find
out what these things are.

What I dig up has nothing to do with the silos, but it is a bit of
dirt about this little Mississippi city:

Go HERE to read one park patron's claim that the city, which owns the
park, ignores it.

Go HERE to find out about the International Checkers Hall of Fame in
Petal and the mysterious fire that wiped it out in 2007, two years
after its benefactor was jailed for money laundering.

Go HERE to find out how some Petalites want Hattiesburgers to stay home.

The stuff I find online's not all bad. I find out that Petal is named
after a little girl who died before her second birthday back in 1904.
She was Petal Polk, daughter of Irving Polk, the city's first

I also learn that the city was in "Ripley's Believe it or Not" twice:
Once because it's the only town in the United States called Petal; and
twice, because it has (had, before the fire) the largest checkerboard
in the world.

But still, not a word on the silos.

So I've written to the Petal Chamber of Commerce to find out what they

If I get no response, I'll take it as confirmation of a conspiracy of
silence between the Pentagon and Petal.

And I'll know for sure that there are strategic weapons buried deep
beneath the Petal Dog Park.

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