A Visit to the Less Famous But Definitely Bigger World’s Largest Ball of Twine – The Awl

byClaire?

Suddath

TheWorld’sLargestBallofTwinemightjustbethemostfamousexampleofacertainkindofAmericanroadsidekitsch,althoughIcan’tfigureoutwhy。

It’snotpartofthefunky,burned-outcarsandwigwammotelsalongRoute66。

It’snotinNationalLampoon’sVacation,whichiswheremostofmyroadtripknowledgecomesfrom。

WasitinthoseGuinnessBookofWorldRecordspaperbacksIusedtoreadasakid,nexttoanentryaboutthemanwiththeworld’slongestfingernailsortheworld’sfattestidenticaltwins?

Idon’t?

know。

Twosummersago,myboyfriendJoshandIborrowedaJeepfromanoverlytrustingfriendofhisfatheranddroveoutwest。

FromNewYorkCity,wetraveledninethousandmilesacrosstwenty-fivestatesforatripthatwouldincludemyfirstattemptatcamping,hisfirstvisittoCalifornia,andtheinventionofanewgamebestdescribedas,“Turnonthecountryradiostationandtrytoguesswhichsocietalwoewillbelamentednext。

”(Alcoholism。

Alwayspickalcoholism。

)

Onthethirddayoftheroadtrip,abouttwohundredthirtymilesintoKansas,wehitasmalltowncalledCawkerCity,whichclaimstobehometoaboutfourhundredpeople;Isuspecttheywereroundingup。

CawkerCityishometotheball,whichwasstartedin1953byamannamedFrankStoeber。

There’sacompetingWorld’sLargestBallofTwineinMinnesotathatweighs17,400pounds,butit’skeptinaglassdisplaycaseandnolongergrows。

CawkerCityletstravelerswindtwinearoundtheball,andasof2013,itweighed19,873?

pounds。

CawkerCitywasnamedafterE。

H。

Cawker,partlybecausehehelpedfoundthetownin1870,butmostlybecausehewonapokerbetthatgavehimtherighttonameitwhateverhewanted。

Forawhile,thetowndidprettywell:ItbecameastopontheMissouriPacifictrainline,andbythestartofthetwentiethcentury,ithadgrowntoabouttwelvehundredresidents,mostlyfarmers。

Theyraisedanimalsandgrewcornandtraveledintotowntoshopatthetwo-blocklineofstorefrontsthatrandownthemainroad,whichiscalledWisconsinStreet。

In1904,theNewYorkTimesrananarticleabouthowCawkerCityhadmorehappilymarriedcouplesthananyothertownitssizeinAmerica。

“Husbandsandwivesareactuallyinlovewitheachother,”theTimesmarveled。

Thereason?

“Absenceofsaloons。

”Therestofthecenturythenpassedby,relativelyuneventfully:ThetownbuiltaparkwithfederalworkrelieffundsduringtheDepression,thenturneditintoamakeshiftPoWcampforGermansoldiersduringWorldWarII。

Ithadanon-twinetouristattraction:abubblingsaltwaterspring?

—?

asacredsitefortheGreatPlainstribes?

—?

buttheArmyCorpsofEngineersbuiltadamthatfloodeditin?

1968。

Onwhatwasobviouslyaveryboringdayin1953?

—?

probablybecausetherewerenosaloons?

—?

FrankStoebergatheredscrapsoftwinethathe’dusedtotieupoldhaybalesandrolledthemintoaball。

Thenhegatheredsomemore。

Hisneighborsheardwhathewasuptoandstartedbringingtheirleftovertwine。

Soonitbecameathingthatpeopledid:bringingtwinetoMr。

Stoeber,who’dtiethestrandstogetherandaddthemtothegrowingballthathekeptinsidehisbarn。

Hedidthisforeightyears,untiltheballwaseleven-feetwide。

ThenherolleditintotownanddonatedittopeopleofCawkerCity,whotookonelookatitandthought,“Okay,wecanworkwiththis。

”Theybuiltalittledisplaypatioforthetwine,withwhitesupportbeamsandaredrooftokeeptheballdrywhenitrained。

Thetwinestillreststhere,onthatpatiointhemiddleofdowntown。

Thereweren’tanypeopleonthestreetswhenJoshandIarrived。

Norestaurantsopenforlunch,nowheretogetacupofcoffee,stillnosaloons。

Rustedcarssatoncinderblocksinthemiddleofovergrownyardsthatleduptohouses,eachonewithasaggingroofandatleastonebrokenwindow。

MostofCawkerCity’sfamilyfarmshaveeitherbeenboughtoutorgonebankrupt,andtheyoungpeoplehaveallmovedawaytoplaceswheretheycangetbetterjobsinair-conditionedbuildings。

Joshcomesfromaplacethat’salittlelikethis:Linton,Indiana,wherethelocalshopsarelosingthebattleagainstthenearbyWal-Mart。

ButCawkerCityisn’tbigenoughforaWal-Mart。

Weparkedthecarinanemptyparkinglotbesidethetwineandranuptoseethe?

ball。

“Huh,”Isaid。

“That’sanawfullotof?

twine。



“Huh,”Josh?

agreed。

Nooneevertellsyouthis,buttheWorld’sLargestBallofTwineisn’treallyaball。

Itusedtobe,butnowit’ssobigthatwhenpeopleaddtoit,theyhavetowraptheirstrandsaroundthemiddle。

Overtheyearsit’sbecomemuchwiderthanitistall,makingittechnicallyTheWorld’sLargestLumpof?

Twine。

Wehungaroundthetwineforawhile,readingtheunexpectedlycrabbyinformationalsigns(“Iftheballiswet,it’sraining…iftheballiswhite,it’ssnowing”)。

Wetookpicturesandtriedtoseehowfararounditourarmscouldstretchwhenwehuggedit。

Atonepoint,Joshleanedinandsniffedit。

“Itsmellslikemygrandpa’sbarn,”hesaid,andthenwentonthislong,ProustiantangentaboutclimbinghaybalesinIndianabarnsduringhischildhood。

Isniffedthetwinetoo,rememberedthatIgrewupinalandscapedsubdivisionwithstreetsnamedthingslikeJenniferCourt,andconcludeditsmelled?

musty。

Wewantedtogetsometwineandaddtothelump,butwecouldn’tfindanywheretobuyit?

—?

oranythingatall。

OnWisconsinStreet,thedowntownstorefrontswereeitherboardedup,fallingdownorboth。

Ilookedinsideonestoreandsawoverturneddesks,opencansofpaint,brokentwo-by-foursandcrumplednewspaperpages。

Outside,thewords“CawkerCityLedger”werestilletchedonthewindows。

Somethingelsewasinthewindowtoo?

—?

acopyofVanGogh’s“StarryNight,”withaswirloftwineintheskyinsteadofastar。

AfewdoorsdownwefoundMonaLisa,smilingwithtwine。

Therewereadozenofthesesun-bleachedreproductions,allalongCawkerCity’sdefunctdowntown,eachonewithtwinehidingsomewhereinthepicture:Warhol’ssoupcan,withatwine-themedCampbell’slogo。

OneofDegas’ballerinas,pliéingnexttotwine。

And“AmericanGothic”?

—?

althoughinthatone,theballoftwinedidn’tlookentirelyoutof?

place。

Sometimes,anothercarwoulddriveuptotheballoftwine。

JoshandIwatchedaspeopleclimbedout,tookafewpicturesandthendroveaway。

Theyneversawthepaintings。

Ortheonewindowdisplaythathadn’tyetbeentakendown。

Someonehaddressedfourfemalemannequinsasburlyfrontiersmen,thenarrangedthemasiftheywereplayingpoker?

—?

averyprogressive,gender-neutralreenactmentofhowthetowngotitsname。

Onthesidewalkinfrontofthemwasalooping,curlingyellowlineofpaint:atwineballunravelingdownthecitystreet。

ItwasthestrangestdisplayofeconomicallydepressedwhimsyI’dever?

seen。

WeeventuallyfoundtheBallofTwinegiftshop,butithada“GonetotheLake”signhanginginthewindow,alongwithanotetotryLottieattheAlmostDoneInnjustafewblocksupthestreet。

Theinnturnedouttobesomeone’shouse,withthesecond-storyroomsrentedouttotravelingtwineenthusiasts。

“Unitsequippedwithorwithoutkitchens!

”asignoutfrontboasted。

Thewomenwhogreeteduswasn’tLottie。

Shewasherdaughter?

—?

ormaybedaughter-in-law,I’mnotsure。

Lottiewasinthehospitalshetoldus,somethingaboutherhip。

“Butshe’sonthemend,”thewomankeptsaying,“Ireallythinkshe’sonthemend。

”Thewomanwasbarefootandsmoking。

Behindher,asheltiedogwouldn’tstop?

barking。

Lottie’sdaughter-or-not-daughtershowedustoasmallbookshelffullofpostcards,coffeemugs,andallsortsofsouvenirsthatLottiehadmadebyhand。

Joshboughtareplicaballoftwinethatforsomereasonhadbeengluedtoarock。

Ipickedoutaclaytoothpickholder。

“Butyoudon’tevenusetoothpicks,”hepointed?

out。

“IbetifIlivedinCawkerCity,Iwould,”I?

said。

Weaskedforsometwinetoo,butNotLottiesaidtherewasn’tanymoreforustowind。

Soatoothpickholderandtwine-on-a-rockwereallwegot。

Wepaidtwelvedollars,thenwalkedbacktothecar。

Weweren’tmorethananhourintoourdrivewhenJosh’sreplicatwinefelloffits?

rock。

ClaireSuddathisastaffwriterforBloombergBusinessweek。

ShelivesinBrooklynandactuallyprefers?

string。

TopphotobyAdamSchweigert;otherphotosby?


亚博电竞软件