Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Mayor of Monowi (Population 1)

There's a fascinating article in the Times addressing the issue of the depopulation of many towns in the rural US.
WHEN it comes to civic duty, few Americans can compete with Elsie Eiler. In Monowi, in northern Nebraska, she is the mayor, town clerk, town treasurer, town secretary, tavern keeper and chief librarian. When you are the sole resident of America’s smallest incorporated township — everybody else has either died or moved on — the competition for jobs is scarce.
Mrs Eiler, 71, whose husband died in 2001, halving Monowi’s population, runs the one business left in town, a low-slung roadside tavern. Last year she opened what has become the greatest source of pride for the town board — Mrs Eiler, that is — a tiny library, which was the dying wish of her husband, who was a farmer and an avid collector of books.
At its peak, in the 1930s, Monowi was a thriving town of 150. The local railroad, which ran from Norfolk, Nebraska, to Winner, South Dakota, brought farmers and their families. But mechanisation put small farmers out of business, the railway closed in 1971 and the town began to die. Three years ago the last resident apart from the Eilers, an elderly widow, moved away to live with her son.
Now Mrs Eiler is alone, dutifully carrying out administrative chores of Kafkaesque absurdity. She grants her own liquor licence and collects taxes from herself. Every year she must produce a municipal road plan to receive Monowi’s share of state transport funds and a budget to finance the town’s street lights — all four of them.
The Corriere della Sera reports that the Leaning Tower of Pisa has returned to the 'tilt' of 200 years ago thanks to corrective measures.
Lauren at the Cnytr 'blog commemorated Blessed Fra Angelico yesterday. One of my favourite places in Rome is the church of S.Maria sopra Minerva where Beato Angelico is buried. Occasionally one will find that little children have left their drawings near his tomb.
Finally, Enbrethiliel has a nice post on some very POD saints' names.

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