I am not an entrepreneurial person by nature, but a recent item in the "Strange But True" column that appears regularly in The Rim Review got my tourism revenue juices flowing.
"Plano, Texas, is home to the Cockroach Hall of Fame," it read.
My reporter's sense of curiosity piqued, I dug deeper. Here's what I learned.
The Cockroach Hall of Fame is located inside The Pest Shop, which also houses the pest control business of one Michael "Cockroach Dundee" Bohdan. It "consists ofeveral dioramas featuring dead roaches dressed as famous people doing famous things."
The highlights of a visit to the Cockroach Hall of Fame include spike-heeled, blonde-wigged Marilyn Monroach and a rhinestone-studded, mink-caped Liberoachi. Other displays include the Statue of Liberty holding aloft, you guessed it, a dead roach instead of a torch, the Bates Roach Motel, and David Letteroach.
You're also likely to encounter Bohdan himself sporting a fedora lined with dead roaches, and you can sample some seasoned insect larva (the BBQ-flavored is highly recommended).
If a visit to Plano doesn't sate your desire for weird things, you might want to try the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum, Mount Horeb, Wis.; Leila's Hair Museum, Independence, Mo.; the Elvis Is Alive Museum, Wright City, Mo.; the Macaulay Museum of Dental History, Charleston, S.C.; and the Museum of Bad Art, Dedham, Mass.
You have to believe that Plano, Mount Horeb, Wright City and those other places are attracting tourists hand-over-fist with their weird little museums. I mean, good old folks who come anywhere near Plano are going to stop and pay their respects to Marilyn Monroach and Liberoachi -- the insectificaton of two entertainment icons.
Meanwhile, here in the Rim country, tourism has become a hit or miss proposition. If the forest stays open and if the water holds out and if we avoid a major forest fire, we might have a good tourist season.
But if terrorists strike or oil prices keep skyrocketing or any number of bad news scenarios happen, we can just as easily have a bad season.
We do, of course, have some museums of our own -- the Rim Country Museum, the Museum of Rim Country Archaeology, and the Pine Museum -- and a replica of Zane Grey's cabin is under construction as you read. But our museums are hardly the stuff that will make Bubba, Nadine, and their little rugrats go out of their way to visit our fair burg.
Lord knows, there's enough weirdness here to fill the Smithsonian. Therefore I move that we follow the lead of Plano and Mount Horeb and Wright City and create a weird museum or two of our own:
Tarantula Hall of Fame
You remember the front page Roundup story about tarantulas being run down by Rim country motorists. If Bohdan can dress up dead cockroaches, we should be able to feature smashed tarantulas posed beneath poster-sized photos of the vehicles that sent them to their maker. Tasteless, yes, but a sure-fire attraction considering America's love affair with chase scenes and car crashes.
Council Badge Museum
We suspect the temptation to flash a badge is universal, stretching back to the mists of antiquity. Our badge museum would not only include the badges of contemporary transgressors like you know who, but also stone, clay, and wood badges used by our prehistoric precursors.
Juniper Berry Hall of Fame
The key to the success of this venture is the museum snack bar where folks can consume products made from the lowly juniper berry. This, of course, would include gin -- an elixir that would make visitors soon forget the crappy time they had going through the berry museum.
Missing Tooth Museum
The Macaulay Museum of Dental History will have nothing on us because our museum will feature all those front teeth so many Rimaroos seem to be missing.
Dead Elk Killed by 13-Year-Olds Hall of Shame
Photos of dead elk with their tongues hanging out and their 13-year-old killers line the walls of this museum.
Famous Bandits of the West
Of course we would include the likes of Jesse James, Pancho Villa, and Billy the Kid, but we would also include modern bandits of the West, including Salt River Project (for water theft), residents of the Valley (for water wasting), southern Gila County (for redistricting fraud), golf course owners (for environmental rape), Victory Chapel members (for picking on kids) and the Payson Unified School District (for assaulting our sensibilities with those god-awful purple fences around the Payson High School athletic fields).