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Day 1 - Symphony of Speed

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This Hypertour occurred in 1993; some info may be outdated. Links to current info have been added.

New York City, New York to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania

Jayne Mansfield's grave
Jayne Mansfield rests in pieces in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, the car in which she died was in St. Augustine, FL for many years, and her death site is near Slidell, Louisiana.

We are scarcely into the Garden State before the muggy air waves crackle with nasty news. Pepsi product tampering leads the list; the company's first tack at damage control is to assert that the acidity in Pepsi would kill any biological contaminants left on the hypodermic needles suddenly found in Pepsi cans across the country.

In between bulletins, a New York politician declares, "It's time someone stood up and told them that 718 is an area code of courage." And angry talk radio listeners are fuming that Pennsylvania's governor, Bob Casey, was preferentially bumped to the front of the organ recipient line for his heart and liver transplant.

We blaze through northwest New Jersey into eastern Pennsylvania, knocking off six "come see," but come sa stops by mid-afternoon:

1) Goliath - The World's Largest Bear, Beemerville, NJ; 2) Memorial to "Tom Quick, Indian Killer," Milford, PA; 3) Pocono Indian Museum, Coolbaugh, PA; 4) Pocono Snake and Animal Farm, Marshall's Creek, PA; 5) Jayne Mansfield's Grave, Pen Argyl, PA; 6) "Father of American Coinage" Memorial Bridge, Milton, PA.

Sharp objects found in consumer goods is today's radio rage. The Maine Baking Company has had 100 reported incidents of pins and needles in their product. Is this an endemic epidemic? Should we panic?

The drive to Clyde Peeling's Reptiland(#7) Allenwood, PA, a once-placid Susquehanna River valley town, shows the wounds of grass roots revolt. The Union Pacific Railroad wants to build a toxic waste incinerator in the valley, and locals are pissed. Venomous handmade signs and billboards along State Hwy. 15 yell "Death cloud when the burner blows," and "Bob Casey. Puppet for the waste industry."

Toxic sign.Inside the well-kept Reptiland, alligators wallow in their pens and poisonous snakes hiss from behind thick glass. A pond boils with koi when visitors throw in fish food. Two bits buys you a turn at the "Feed Us A Live Insect" Machine, which drops a hapless cricket into the lair of a well-trained snapping turtle.

But this Eden is threatened by The Union Pacific. They have purchased the lot directly behind Reptiland for its incinerator, and it is Clyde who leads the guerrilla fight to stop it. Park attendants say they know who paid for Bob Casey's new ticker.

As we speed past the teal-roofed hulk of a dead Stuckey's, religious radio asks the question: "Can you pray with your eyes open?" Listeners' Father's Day messages are recorded and played on the air: "Some say you remind them of Orville Redenbacher, but you remind me of Jesus."

Touch N Feel Education Center At the Fin, Fur and Feather Museum, you can fondle wildlife up close, without the traditional hazards of a petting zoo...

8) Fin, Fur & Feather Museum, Haneyville, PA; 9) Tom Mix Birthplace & Museum, Driftwood, PA -- featuring his actual outhouse; 10) Punxsutawney Phil, The Weather Predicting Groundhog, Punxsutawney, PA.

Night envelops us in eastern Ohio. Someone claiming to be a doctor associated with Bob Casey's transplant calls in and assures a furious audience that there were some very good reasons for the governor's speedy receipt of two new, healthy organs that would've taken months for an identical, unelected man.

Also see: Tour Day 2 | Symphony of Speed

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