Omens and Norman Rockwell

Several devastating earthquakes on the international stage lead up to the news. The long trenches torn in front of the high school foreshadowed the revelation of [alleged] secrets. Signs? Metaphors? Sometimes stuff just happens, but sometimes stuff appears as signs.

Last week, former Yorkville High teacher and wrestling coach and Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-14, as in my town and my congressional district) was indicted on charges of lying to the FBI and bank fraud. That was good for a few layers of dirt, but when the [alleged] reason surfaced, there might as well have been a quake like the one that ripped through Nepal.

Mr. Hastert had been withdrawing large sums from his bank accounts. Per some of the legislation he’d pushed through as part of the PATRIOT Act–the parts about having to account for withdrawals over $10,000–he’d stated that he didn’t like the banking system and was keeping it for himself.

Not so fast, said another party in the indictment identified as Individual A. Individual A had received hush money payments from the good former rep to keep an indiscretion under wraps, one that had been kept secret since the ’70’s.

How it stayed secret so long intrigues me more than the [alleged] indiscretion itself. When we bought our land here in the mid-90’s, Yorkville still held vestiges of Norman Rockwell’s post-war America. The population was around 4000 and everyone knew everyone else. You can’t keep secrets in that kind of social setting, or so I thought.

This one was kept, though. The energy around town felt as heavy as if a death had been announced.

In a way it was. The death of the portrait of the perfect little town where all the children drink their milk at meals without complaint and where Timmy and Susie took themselves and their hormones to the ice cream parlor had dark paint thrown on it.

In time, the trenches will be filled in, but the road will never be the same again. There will always be the imperfections that newcomers may not perceive, but the ones who live in the Yorkville of memory will know that they’re there.

Christopher Titus said it best in the title of one of his one-man shows: “Norman Rockwell is bleeding.”

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