Toll Booths as sign of progress.

Dave Murray is on the case with this classic postcard:

As he happily plays with the image he wonders

 Where’s the bridge? It’s amazing that there’s no bridge in our bridge postcard, considering it’s really, really big.
Seriously, just about any photo taken in Colonial Michilimackinac includes the giant steel thing rising in the background, eliminating all pretense of slipping back into colonial times.
Were tollbooths such a novelty at the time that people would be so excited at the idea of passing through one that they wanted a souvenir? And what do you write on the back of a tollbooth postcard? “Wish you were here – because I’m out of quarters?”

Toll booths in the Upper Peninsula? That’s progress. Why the next thing you know they’ll be having grocery stores with doors that automatically open. That, and of course Kresge’s. Seriously, the UP was rather forgotten until the Bridge went in, and even then the real shopping was still an hour south in Petoskey. We forget how distant the land was, even if we could see it, right across the straits.

In making the connection the Bridge opens a door.

Strange as it sounds, the toll booth is a sign of progress — Murray is not too far gone on his “wish you were here….” Paying means you belong, that finally you can sort of join the civilization. It’s the matter of iconography of progress measured by infrastructure (and I do love the Futura typeface of the title). There’s also a hidden aspiration at work here with the bright cloudless sky (just like California, only with snow!), and the cars lined up. The world is opening up. We are at the dawn maybe of something big.

It’s not the Bridge as monument, but the more prosaic act of connection. Sure it’s highway plumbing, but sometimes indoor plumbing is actually a sign of progress. And think, can we take pleasure in the simple achievements as well as the proud bridge moments?

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