The 150th anniversary of Kansas statehood last month came and went with nary a whisper. (The same was true of the city of Kansas City, Missouri in 2000.) Why didn't the convention and tourism people or historical society or bars do more to celebrate? It may be that the word sesquicentennial has too many damn syllables. But Kansas certainly celebrated its straight-up centennial in a big style - 1K cake at the capitol - gala balls - beard-growing contest - and boo-koo centennial gimcracks. Granted, 100 has two zeroes and 150, only one. And the economy was a lot better in 1961 than now. But Kansasentrism is such a strong force here, that you'd think the state would throw whatever kind of a bash it could.
I remember the hoopla surrounding Memphis' 150th - parades, ceremonies, street signs showing the city limits at various points in history, even a commemorative envelope:
Coming, as it did, a year after the country's most prominent civil-rights leader had been assassinated in the city, some people saw the celebration as being in dreadfully bad taste. But I guess white Memphis needed a reason to feel good about itself - to assure itself that its history was something to celebrate. Maybe that's why they were willing to do it with only one zero.
Author of Things Come On: (an amneoir) (Wesleyan University Press’ poetry series, 2011), earth day suite (Beard of Bees Press, Dec. 2010), Of Some Sky (Bedouin, forthcoming), and Poetry and the Public (Wesleyan 2002).