Having a Ball in Tipton, Missouri

I spotted this peculiar water tower on a road trip last weekend as we passed through tiny Tipton, Missouri (population 3,261 in 2000). The 8-ball design was painted in 1968 by Tipton’s own Fischer Manufacturing Co., a pool table company. The big ball disappeared when the company pulled up its Tipton stakes but the distinctive design has returned in recent years…so with or without the company, Tipton shows its playful side! (You can see more photos and tower trivia at Also, view more water tower ball designs in this October 2009 post.)

What’s a Fountain Without Water?

That’s the subject of a personal photo project I’ve been working on this past month. In Kansas City, Missouri (the urban counterpart to my suburban Shangri-la) 47 public fountains will be turned on April 6th, the city’s annual “Fountain Day.”

kansas city mo dry muse of missouri fountain

In Kansas City, MO: The Muse of Missouri, dry.

In 2009, severe budget problems drove city officials to threaten that that the fountains would remain dry due to lack of funds. Political grandstanding, maybe, but the citizenry greeted the proposal harshly and vocally. This year there were no such attacks on the fountains, although other basic city services will see budget cuts and/or rate increases (including water).

What’s a fountain without water? It’s not like a wallet without money; it’s more like a soul without joy.

(If you can’t view the slideshow below (Internet Explorer users, probably talkin’ about YOU) visit the full set on my Flickr page.)

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Feed Me Your PETs

Here’s a refuse container that’s happy to assist you with recycling your refuse, doing it’s dirty job with a determined smile. Made me smile, too.

(Spotted and photographed by Virginia Leonard, Thirsty in Suburbia intern, while visiting the St. Louis Botanical Gardents in Missouri.)

Road Rules: Help with Highway Hydration

No wonder folks are confused! Following, some snapshots from my recent road trip from Kansas City to Chicago. Certainly, more information is better than less but I REALLY want to know…WHO, for example, would fill their water bottles from an oil and gas-splattered spigot at a fuel pump?

We spotted this at a gas station in Don’t-Know-Where, Missouri. In this town I concede that if you are parched, it is OK to bend the rules a little and head inside the C-Store for some bottled water.

Similarly, travelers are advised not to quench their thirst from a crumbling island in a remote Iowa rest stop. (I think the top sign must mean that RV’s should sink their lines and extract some fresh ground water instead. Oops, I meant groundwater.)

At another Iowa rest stop, though, this helpful signage points thirsty people to the bathrooms. (I might add that there were NO helpful signs on the toilets, like these, to dissuade people who might confuse the loos with the promised fountains.)

And at the Chicago IKEA (Bolingbrook, IL), helpful instructions in this bathroom floor display. This sent my imagination flying – there must be experiential reasons for this sign to exist, and I’ll bet some IKEA employees have some troubling stories to tell on why the sign is critical. (The stiffer acetate sheet used here has given me an idea on how to implement a 2010 technical improvement on the April Fools Day Toilet trick!)