A little random McCarthiana for Crucible fans

Following up on this.

Just for fun I decided to drive over that way today and take some pictures. Unfortunately, the road that runs in front of the farmhouse (McCarthy Road) is under construction, but I took a few pictures.

The farmhouse is on the border between the townships of Grand Chute and Center. Parts of the McCarthy land were in each township.

This is the glance south, up McCarthy Road toward the farm house and into Grand Chute:

Screen shot 2014-06-13 at 3.31.50 PM

and this is the glance into Center, across County Road JJ. It was a field at the time the McCarthys farmed it, a swamp for most of my childhood, and now — a lot of the lowland swamp around there has been dying in the last fifteen years and is filling in — it seems to be the beginning of a woods:

2012-01-01 00.00.00-26

This is the very corner end of the school district; I was friends with the girl who lived in the brown house on the right, but I looked at the mailbox and the family has moved.

Looking back south, this is the farmstead:

Screen shot 2014-06-13 at 3.29.24 PM

You can’t see the farmhouse from here but it and the barn are the same ones that were there in the 1970s, when I was growing up, although it looks like the farmhouse has been renovated. Not sure if those were the structures the McCarthy family used when they lived there but I would say that odds are 50/50. Somewhere on this property, the failure of Joseph McCarthy’s ambitions regarding his chickens meant that he gave up farming and decided to finish high school, eventually leading him to university, a law degree, and so on. The Wisconsin dream, kind of.

When I was in school, the family no longer lived there but I don’t know if the family that did live in the house owned or rented the farm. Pics are kind of blah, but road work was underway and I didn’t want to risk disrupting it by asking if I could walk up there; there are few enough days around here that those guys can work without me getting in their way.

We’re in the middle of haying right now. My brother had an altercation with his hay baler yesterday and had a big shiner to show for it this morning. They have about 500 bales left and want to finish tomorrow. A lot of these big farms have been sold and broken up into housing subdivisions, but there are still a lot of them right around here that are still working. Driving back home I stopped a few times and it looks like the families of the kids I went to school with are still working a lot of them.

What I mainly think when I ponder the fact that this is “where Joseph McCarthy came from” is that the world looks a lot different from here, especially to people who’ve never been anywhere else, than it does from where Arthur Miller came from — well-healed Harlem as a small boy before the Great Depression, a house in Brooklyn after his father’s business crash and for most of his adolescence, Ann Arbor, Michigan, for college, and then a brownstone in Brooklyn when Miller had first made his fortune.

I’m not suggesting that there was any kind of personal conflict between the two men — just that one of the great paradoxes of the U.S. is that the country includes both of those settings, and resolving their needs and perspectives has always been a problem in American politics and society.

~ by Servetus on June 14, 2014.

11 Responses to “A little random McCarthiana for Crucible fans”

  1. It is always so amazing to me to view the interconnection of life and people. You growing up in close proximity to McCarthy’s physical world; admiring RA who is now acting in a play touching on that sense of McCarthyism. Thanks for sharing.


    • Yes, the world is so small. re: proximity to McCarthy — It’s not, in general, the kind of thing one admits outside of Wisconsin. I had a colleague once in Texas who wrote about McCarthy and he said, “you’re from there!” with a sort of horrified look.


      • Which is funny, because in parts of the world that aren’t Texas, and especially outside the U.S., admitting to being from there tends to get the same response. Like they think everything the U.S. (via the Republican party) has ever done wrong is the sole responsibility of Texas.


        • well, the colleague wasn’t a Texan, but your general point is correct — and you know, I’ve never gotten to say I’m from one of the cool places. I was from rural Wisconsin, then from Missouri, then from Texas, and now from Florida — they all have their horror story reputations.


          • I thought Florida was one of the “cool” states. At least Miami and the Keys. Is it the mouse smiling in the middle of the state or the “old” vibe from all the snowbirds? I am from California which is becoming too cool to live in. Homes most people can’t afford and a whooping cough epidemic because it is cool not to immunize. Non cool states look very appealing from here, maybe it’s the fault of my rose colored shades.


          • Floridians are thought to be particularly clueless, apparently. http://www.reddit.com/r/FloridaMan Also we have a governor who is like a discount version of Rick Perry and state politics that match that.

            I’m trying to think about what is cool. Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado … ?


            • LOL, that link was the best. I agree with your list, maybe Vermont, Hawaii and New Mexico (mostly because of Santa Fe and Taos). But then I would have to add Illinois because of Chicago. Does one area of coolness allow the rest of a state a free pass to coolness?Slippery slope of cool. I know nothing about Rhode Island. I have been to Newport to see the robber baron’s mansions and the tennis hall of fame and I know there is a big jazz festival there, which is coolness squared. Glad to know Oregon is cool. I am a Duck.


              • It’s pretty embarrassing these days to have to admit to being from Arizona, I can tell you.

                Also I can report that New Mexicans have a lot of shame about the state of their state. But hey, if outsiders don’t know that, then they still have a shot at being considered cool, right?


                • Right, their shame in contained within their borders and we outsiders have no idea. I thought NM was still the “land of enchantment” and that has a certain cool ring to it, I think. My sympathies about Arizona, although to be fair, it has one of the coolest natural wonders on the planet that should be on everyone’s bucket list, IMO. And don’t worry, remember we are in a “judge-free zone” so don’t be embarrassed. You are very cool, in spite of your state’s reputation.


  2. “One of the great paradoxes of the U.S. is that the country includes both of those settings, and resolving their needs and perspectives has always been a problem in American politics and society.”

    Yes, this. This concept has always been fascinating to me, and it’s especially been on my mind recently, as I was visiting a part of the country that is so different in every way from where I come from that I walked around for two weeks in some kind of dazed system shock. It’s hard to talk about what “the country” needs when it has so many faces.


  3. We all come from somewhere, and that place can be scary and ugly as well as beautiful and rich with memories. I grew up with McCarthy and HUAC, and I had neighbors who thought that it was right and correct. Historically liberal, physically beautiful, and yet terrifying…


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