Illinois: capital, Springfield

Urgency Day 50

500 Things Item 450: Wooden States Puzzle

  • History: My sister has the family original, so this spare can be shared
  • Value: If Sam’s charge is a geography sponge, you never know…
  • Parting pain: None
  • Un-possessing: Gift to a young friend

The Big 5-0.

That’s where we are to-day. In 50 days, the Self-Contained Unit’s big adventure begins. And an era ends.


There was a collective toasting of our 50 States yesterday. Paul and I joined a fabulous group of, as it happens, 50 volunteers from Families Helping Families serving beer, wine and—because this is the Mid-West—pop! at Naperville’s annual Fourth of July extravaganza, Ribfest. Vegetarians, beware.

Vegetarian or not, I love pouring drinks at this corn-fed event with such a boisterous group. People watching from behind the tips jar is completely worth a sweaty décolletage and beer-soaked tootsies.

It took us a while to figure out why the mood was a little subdued yesterday, as compared to previous years. We reckon it was because the Fourth fell on a Monday. While most everyone was tickled to have a Monday off, there was the awareness that tomorrow was a work day.

Tomorrow is today.

And today, as the drumbeat of my 500 Things Project gets ever more insistent, I am downsizing a beloved wooden puzzle of our 50 States.

In my family, there is a long and improbable history of interest in domestic geography. As a young girl, my sister taught me the states and capitals while we washed and dried the dinner dishes at our grandmother’s house. Fifty states and capitals, in alphabetical order.

And it’s a darn good thing she did, too.

Years later, it was this very knowledge that confirmed my suitability as a partner to my darling Eagle Scout, who had also absorbed this information while performing mindless tasks. His was baling hay on a ranch in South Dakota (capital, Pierre). We figured this out over drinks at the party where we met in Virginia (capital, Richmond).

See kids: Study up! Your sixth-grade social studies teacher told you there would be a test.

Naturally, the geography geeks indoctrinated their progeny. The Self-Contained Unit had 50 States puzzles, 50 States coloring books, 50 States playing cards, 50 States plush toys—

Kids! Kids! Cuddle up with Rhode Island!

Well, it worked. Now he’s excited to teach one of his young charges about the States.

Fifty of them.


And it’s Providence, by the way.


2 Responses to “Fifty”

  1. melanie Says:

    Funny stuff. Thanks for making me smile (as always).

  2. Megan DeAngelis Says:

    Awe, Luke’s hand looks so cute:) I told him he had to memorize all 50 states on the puzzle, he just gave me a blank stare. I am guessing he thought I was nuts.

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