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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Worth a detour

Despite the general lack of excitement in Elmira, it does boast two great attractions: the Arnot Art Museum and the Chemung Valley History Museum.

Walking into the history museum, I was immediately taken aback by being offered the senior citizens’ admission fee.

“Really?” I asked, not thinking of myself as old.

“You’re over 55, aren’t you?” replied the considerably older man at the desk. I had to admit that I was. But how did he know?

Anyway, the museum has a well-done permanent exhibit on Mark Twain and the history of the Chemung Valley (southern tier of New York and northern tier of Pennsylvania). It also currently has three temporary exhibits, one on the Underground Railway (and the general history of black residents of the Elmira area), one on the history of Route 17 (which is currently being turned into I-86), and one on the history of patriotism in the Chemung Valley. This last one was surprisingly interesting, containing far more than the solutions to geometry problems represented by U.S. flags with various numbers of stars. In particular, it emphasized the roles of voting, citizen participation, and dissent. Above the whole exhibit was a quotation from General Wesley Clark: “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

A refreshing view in these days of the religious right and the current administration in Washington.

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