Jewish World Review August 21, 2002 / 13 Elul, 5762
is not going down
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The last 12 months have been times of terrible news, and we all have had to become accustomed to that. But the other day came a piece of bad-news-in-the-making that would have been too much:
The butter cow was melting.
I saw the bulletin on CNN. Not that CNN's main coverage was about the butter cow -- the main coverage was about the usual hatred and violence in the world. But all the news channels now have those endless "crawls" across the bottom of the screen -- the constant news bulletins moving from one side of the TV screen to the other. And so it was, out of the corner of my eye, that I saw something about the butter cow melting.
I knew exactly what the bulletin referred to, and it made me want to cry.
The butter cow is part of the Ohio State Fair. For 17 days each summer, the Ohio State Fair takes place near 11th Avenue on the north side of Columbus, on the edge of the Ohio State University campus. For many of us, the Ohio State Fair is not a part of summer -- it is summer. And the butter cow. ...
The butter cow is a huge cow made out of butter. It would melt if it just sat out on the fairgrounds for 17 days -- it would melt if it just sat out on the fairgrounds for five minutes. So it lives inside its own refrigerated glass case.
The case itself is inside the Dairy Building on the fairgrounds. A sign on the wall of the Dairy Building always proclaims: "Ohio Dairy Industry. Your Faithful Servant." And the butter cow -- it is a very pale yellow -- is there year after year after year. (Different butter cow each year -- you wouldn't want to keep any butter, whether a pat or a cow, around for a whole year.) People come from all over to pay their respects to it.
They come stand before it because you can't go to the fair and not stand before it. It's everything, that butter cow is -- it is the Ohio State Fair incarnate. There was even a novel a few years ago -- the author and title seem to slip my mind right now -- in which the butter cow at the Ohio State Fair was used as a metaphor for the fun and friendship and lingering warmth of summer. They come in August -- the fair and the butter cow. They are a reminder: Savor these days of summer while you can. They'll be gone soon enough.
There are always additional butter figures in the refrigerated case with the butter cow -- the year that Buster Douglas, a central Ohio heavyweight fighter, defeated Mike Tyson there was a butter Buster Douglas, and one year, in honor of a famous Ohio race car driver, there was a butter Bobby Rahal. But no one and nothing overshadows the butter cow.
And here was the news crawl on CNN: Something about the butter cow, and melting.
Some news, you just can't take. Depressed and anxiety-ridden, I immediately got on the phone and started doing some checking.
It was bad -- but nowhere near as bad as it might have been.
It seemed there was a power outage in the vicinity of the Ohio State Fair -- something about intense heat and malfunctioning electrical cables at the corners of 17th and Clara, and 17th and Shawnee. The outage had affected the butter cow's case, which, this year, the butter cow was sharing with a butter calf, a butter eagle, and a butter Liberty Bell.
The temperature in the case was rising. A very bad thing for butter under any circumstances. A catastrophe for the butter cow.
But a man named Larry Taylor came to the rescue. He is in charge of keeping the butter cow safe ("Ohio Dairy Industry. Your Faithful Servant."). Just in time, he came up with a portable generator for the butter cow's case. The generator provided the juice. The juice provided the refrigeration. The cow remained standing, and did not turn into a puddle.
Let the rest of the world's news be bad -- that's the nature of news, and there's not much we can do about it. But the butter cow was going to be all right. I went out to celebrate, and to lift a silent toast -- to Bobby Rahal, and Buster Douglas, and everyone else who loves and understands that beautiful, beautiful cow of summer.
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