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Roadside News: July 19, 2009

Lunar Landing module.Cronkite and Armstrong: Two titans of the 1960s have been in the news recently: Walter Cronkite, anchorman, and Neil Armstrong, astronaut. They were/are humble men, and there isn’t much on the tourist trail to mark their achievements — but if you want to pay tribute, you could visit the dentist office of Walter’s dad in St. Joseph, Missouri, and see where Neil took his first airplane ride in Warren, Ohio. And at the Iowa State Fair in August, keep an eye out for a Neil Armstrong moon landing tableau carved in butter (but don’t expect to see a moon-walking Michael Jackson in butter – that idea was voted down in the Fair’s online poll).

Mermaids To Flirt with Sharks: The lovely mermaids of Weekie Wachee will be making a field trip to the aquarium in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on July 24-26, where they will swim in a tank filled with stingrays and sharks. “They’ll be fine,” said Mark Clark, a spokesperson for the aquarium, when we asked about the mermaids’ safety. Mary noted that the aquarium already allows people to snorkel in the tank, and that the Weekie Wachee spring has alligators, which are “far more dangerous.”

Moonshine Tourism: A new Tennessee state law, which expands the legal production of whiskey beyond old standbys like Jack Daniels and George Dickel, has already got some folks thinking about its tourism potential. “Just as the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis builds on the city’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement,” says an article in the Knoxville News-Sentinel, “The taboo of moonshining … could prove to be a good thing for Tennessee if it’s marketed as a tourist attraction.” As it already is elsewhere.

• Emmett’s Casket: Emmett Till was a teenager when he was kidnapped, lynched, and buried in 1955. Then he was dug up and re-buried in 2005. His original glass-topped casket was stuck in a shed at Burr Oak Cemetery outside of Chicago, which has been closed since several of its employees were accused of digging up old graves and reselling the plots. According to the Southtown Star, Till’s casket, which had become “home to a family of possums,” is now being sought by the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi, which wants to display it in its Civil Rights museum. That would make it the second used casket on exhibit in the South.

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