The Town the Google Killed

There once was a humble little town called Lakanawaka.

A patient place. Never needed a stoplight. People just knew when it was their turn to go and didn’t mind stopping for an extra second if it looked like a neighbor was in a hurry.

A pleasant place. Six businesses lined Main Street in Lakanawaka: The First City Bank, Eckstal’s Grocery, The Rexall Pharmacy, Mick’s Auto-Garage, Loulla’s Beauty Salon, and Hank’s Television Repair. Old Hank’s been fixing TV’s since the fifties and he’s not gonna stop just because can replace them for less money than it takes to fix. A television wasn’t meant to be disposable, according to Old Hank. He’s got a large inventory of tubes and lots of time on his hands now that everything’s gone digital. But he’s hopeful. Things could turn. People could start yearning for a classic, snowy picture like they still buy vinyl albums.

A peaceful place. The little town believed in greenspace before Teddy Roosevelt learned to walk. There’s a park right downtown with tables where old men have been playing checkers for decades. They’ll stop to wave at you when you drive through – all but Horace Wakely. That old buzzard waits for the cars to pass so that he can fix the board as soon as you distract his opponent. Everybody knows he does it, but they figure it’s okay for Horace to win a game or two. He’s had it pretty tough since the war and all.

A safe place. Greenley Hardware has sawdust on its uneven wooden floor, a man who will cut glass while you wait, and a huge surplus of door hardware because people don’t need locks or deadbolts. In fact, the biggest crime wave in history was caused by a hole in Alvie Reed’s fence that let his goats parade around town eating everything that wasn’t covered.

It’s a nice town. Or was a nice town.

Lakanawaka, Alabama had the misfortune to be situated between the rest of the country and one of its most pristine beaches. Recently written up as a top-five destination in Sun & Screen Magazine, this beach was previously private and unspoiled by man. Easy to get to, you can take I-75 to I-10 west. Or you could hop on I-85 and then take a scenic route on Alabama 331.


But Google had a different idea. It all started when a crazy multi-colored car drove through town.


Clyde Mosely was sitting on his porch when it cruised past and he swore it had an eye on top of it. Fearing an alien attack, he fetched his shotgun and went back to rocking. His gun was no match for the invasion of beachgoers that soon hit. They’re rally cry:


When summer came, vans, cars, and trucks were pushing through Lakanawaka. With their luggage racks’ full, they looked like metal turtles, but they drove like hares because there wasn’t one impediment to slow them down.

The next town over, Lincolnton, was actually a more direct route. But they had a roundabout with city hall in the middle and nobody likes roundabouts. The citizens of Lakanawaka cursed themselves for that fateful day in 1957 when they voted 19-4 to keep the streets clear. Back then, they laughed at their neighbors having to slow down to get through town. Little did they know that sixty years later, those fifteen aye’s combined with one Google eye would doom their little town to destruction.

It was a nice town until the traffic drove everyone away. It was the kind of place that took you back to a day to when being off the beaten path meant something. But the beaten path has a heavy foot when it decides to reroute.

The Road to Misperception?

Isn’t it funny how we see ourselves one way and others might see it another? Even when the difference in perception is brought to light, we still might not view things the same. And when you have children past the “Daddy is God” age, they love bringing a fault or two to your attention. It seems that this is their primary job, at least until they have to pay their first rent check.

I say this because it has recently been pointed out to me that I may have a misperception of my driving competency.

This being the last summer before our oldest graduates college, we’ve tried to spend some extra time together and I’m one of those people who feels like if I’m going to be in the car, I might as well be driving. My insurance company loves me and my driving record. I also think of myself as a good driver and this is where the opinion between me and my daughters diverge. It’s me vs. them.

How I view myself behind the wheel:


How my family sees it:

Evidently, I am a raging lunatic who brings my family one step closer to death every time I touch the wheel.

I don’t think anything has changed in my driving, I just think they notice things now. I liked it better in the days when they were oblivious – when they would watch videos in the backseat for hours and never look up to see daddy maniacally tailgating the Ohio driver doing forty in the left lane. Now whenever I meander over the yellow line, I see them in the rear-view mirror giving each other that knowing look. I feel like they already have a plan in place and are just waiting for evidence.

My first reaction is to tell them to shut-up. To explain in no uncertain terms that I taught them to drive and have damaged fewer cars in my thirty plus years than they have in five. But then… then I see clearly that these three will take my keys away someday and if it matters, right now the vote is 3 against 1. They have a lot of goods on me and with the right judge, I’m not sure where I could end up – a senior home? A padded cell? Certainly somewhere without a car!


We took a little trip to the zoo last weekend. I don’t think I’m afraid of them, but I did find myself subconsciously minding my lane and swallowing aggression against other drivers. Oh, and I also have found a very clever hiding place for my keys… just in case.