June 30 Another month comes to a close and we approach the six month anniversary of our adventure. The change in time zones caused a minor adjustment in our lives. Seems like I woke up at 4:30 this morning instead of the usual 5:30, smile. Even Linda was up and at it, early. She has been spending a considerable amount of time trying to familiarize herself with our new genealogy program, The Master Genealogist. It is most definitely not a "use it right out of the box" type of program. or maybe I should say "use it right after the download from the internet" type of program, lol. It will take a lot of time to learn the "best" ways to use it, so expect an occasional comment about it in the future.
Breakfast was once again eggs, Canadian Bacon and strawberries. It is really amazing how the juxtaposition of shapes, colors textures and tastes results in such an exquisite and delightful gastronomical treat. Of course someday, in the not to distant future, we will once again be sitting down to oatmeal and berries, but for the time being, it is "bacon and eggs" in the morning for us, with a small concession to the fact we just can not seem to give up our strawberries, smile. It's still a little to early for the roadside stands to be open, but when they are, who knows what we'll be eating. The dishes washed, dried and put away, we did our own thing . We had decided that the morning would be for each of us to do what ever we wanted with no interference from the other. Kind of like "my space" within our small space. What transpired was a morning of mouse clicks and keyboard sounds. Worked for me and it worked for her. I did some serious catching up on the website, while she got to do what she wanted with no comments from me. What we men are willing to do to preserve matrimonial harmony is sometimes amazing, lol. Translated into Linda talk, he finally left me alone to do what I wanted for a while instead of talking when I want to talk. Isn't it amazing what women have to put up with sometimes. (The little birdy on my shoulder chirped to my ear that her interpretation was the correct one, smile.)
There is little or no work being done around here today, but we did check out the front of the coach after a brief rainstorm reminded us of just how bug splattered the windshield and front of the coach is. I tried to get a picture of the windshield, but because of the glare, it just wouldn't do justice to the evidence. Linda estimated that there was one Japanese Beetle splatter for every square inch of the windshield. Did you know that based on this assumption, 5,376 live Japanese Beetles were removed from the Illinois environment during our trip down State Route 54. Looks like we did our best to preserve the ecological and agricultural balance of the corn belt, lol.
The Japanese Beetles are what might be loosely termed, prevalent, in this area. In case you are not familiar with them (they currently have a very limited range west of the Mississippi river) here is a beetle shown on the finger of the pretty model I often use in my photos.
In the afternoon, we drove into town to mail some letters. They have a wonderful old time town square, dominated by a beautiful 1906 Courthouse, and replete with the requisite statue honor those men from Logan County who served in the Union Army during Civil War. There is a mix of old and new buildings, and one of the more interesting features was the raised sidewalk in front of some of the stores. A little further down the street we saw the local fire department. What a neat thing, a small town is.
Next it was back towards the fairgrounds for a stop at a laundromat. We have been using laundromats more frequently than usual lately. That's because we have not been at sites which had a sewer hookup. No over sized jumbo front loaders here. Just plain old washing machines like we had at home. Linda said she would handle all the laundry, so I spent time updating the website. Made us both happy.
Next we stopped at Wal mart to look at their basil plants. Linda found one she really liked, so it has become the next addition to our burgeoning portable garden, though planting will wait until tomorrow. After the plant was safe in the Explorer, we walked over to the Kroger store for some groceries. I did say it was a small town didn't I, smile. She had even remembered to bring along her list. We realized it had been some time since we had last shopped for groceries and decided it must have been almost two weeks since we had been in a regular grocery store. One thing that we find interesting is the limited amount of fresh produce and the high prices they charge for it back east. Wal mart Supercenters are the exception to this and that is probably one of the reasons some of the other stores close their doors after a Supercenter comes to town. Good thing or bad thing, that's what makes the world go round. We just never realized how good we had it all those years we lived in California, even though there were no Wal marts. Local competition or competion from Wal mart, same result. Like I've mentioned before, as soon as the roadside markets start appearing, we will be stopping at them for some really fresh produce. Returning to the fairgrounds, we grilled marinated chicken breasts, salad, and sweet potatoes, then ate sitting out in our front yard watching the colors play out in the western sky.
The day ended with a dish of Pistachio pudding, the sugar free instant type, and a double chocolate brownie.
June 29 Moving on down the endless road that is our life and great adventure. Today we are leaving Fort Wayne and heading of for the land of Lincoln. Moving days are always interesting and today proved no exception. I was up early and took a nice long leisurely walk around the park. The park is right next to the Fort Wayne Wizards baseball stadium and the Fort Wayne Coliseum. The first two nights we had been treated to the sounds of Class A baseball game as the Wizards wrapped up a home stand. It was really neat, sitting outside at the picnic table at 9:30, hearing the game over the public address system at the park. So this morning, I decided to do some exploring back that way. I ended up walking the entire park, even to the point once again visiting Johnny Appleseed's grave. The park is right on the St. Joseph River and includes what appears to be a flood control dam. In the the morning sunlight the dam had an iridescent glow about, a glow that was impossible to capture on a photo, but one that I got to witness. I did take a black and white photo that gives a hint to the beauty of this place.
When you leave where you are, you have to have some idea of where you are going, so when I returned there was Linda, checking Streets and Trips for our route to Lincoln, Illinois. Remember I said we were going to the land of Lincoln, smile. Having learned from past experience, I checked to make sure we had the correct maps loaded into the GPS. Confirming what I suspected, I loaded the correct map set, then double checked Streets and Trips. We have learned the better prepared we are, the smoother the trip. The route we had selected for today would all be on state highways except for one short two mile section of I-57. The reason for driving those two miles was the need to see how the other half lives. Me, I'll take the red, blue, black and sometimes even the gray roads over the interstates any day. For one thing, oftentimes the state roads are in better condition than the interstates. Then there is so much less traffic on the state roads, even though they may also be four lane divided highways. Then there are all the small towns we meander through, though more than a few, unfortunately, seem to have a bypass around them. Rather than rant and rail at the 35 and sometimes even 25 mph speed limits, we welcome these little glimpses of the heart of America. Then there is also those special things you encounter. For a long time we followed a low slung trailer across US-24. Finally at a stop light we caught up with it. The entire floor of the trailer was pink and it was moving as if alive. Closer examination showed that it was indeed alive. Alive with piglets. We had no idea how many, but there were so many they appeared to be one continuous rolling wave of pork on the hoof. As we continued to follow the trailer we pondered the finer things in life. Things like, exactly how many piglets were in that trailer, what keeps them from falling over, are they going to or coming from market. You know, deep philosophic questions like that, smile. One of the questions was finally answered, or so we strongly suspect, when a number of miles down the concrete ribbon we were on, the trailer turned off onto a small country road. We presumed they were coming from market. With Linda's farm girl background, we didn't carry our conclusion to the altruistic level of thinking, maybe somebody bought them for pets. Being in the middle of the corn belt that didn't appear to to be to likely, lol.
Of course shortly thereafter we came upon a road sign that challenged all our preconceived notions as to exactly where we were at. Maybe we were not in the corn belt after all. Maybe we had taken a wrong turn to the south, a very wrong turn to the very far south. What, or where would you think you were if you saw this sign? I had to laugh because we had seen it almost two months ago, one night in the rain heading for Bowling Green, Kentucky. I told Linda then, I sure wished I would have stopped and taken a photo, now we got a second chance and this time we stopped. Falls in the small world category, or all roads lead south. Take your pick, lol.
It was while we were stopped taking this photo that Linda said she wouldn't mind taking a turn driving the coach. It had been quite a while since she had last taken the wheel, and since we were on a good four lane divided road with very little traffic it was a good time for her to dip her toe into the waters of piloting our home on wheels. As things are often want to do, it was long before the divided highway ended and became a narrow two lane road. Of course it soon changed into a rolling curvy narrow two lane road. Minutes ago we were in the middle of totally flat country, now we were in something akin to a roller coaster ride. It was still not done transforming itself, as very soon signs announcing, flagman ahead, and, be prepared to stop, began appearing. Never knowing when the vaporous flagman would appear, Linda drove cautiously, expecting his appearance around every curve or just over every hill. Finally he appeared, then we saw the sign rotate to stop as the last car passed by him. An interminable wait was followed by Linda's being the lead vehicle in a major procession of cars and trucks, each of whom wanted to go faster than she did. Finally she came to a place where she could pull over, at which point she gladly passed the driving duties back to me. I really appreciate her wanting to get some time behind the wheel, but unfortunately this just wasn't the place. Of course, within a couple of miles we came upon a major north south divided highway where it looked like everyone turned off of the route we were on. That proved the case, plus, the road immediately began straightening out as the prairie once again reappeared. It just wasn't her day to drive, smile.
Soon we were in the heart of farming county once again where the roads ran straight till they disappeared off in the far distance.
As we drove along, we noticed they were applying something to the fields using specialized self propelled spray rigs similar to this one. There were quite a number of these strange vehicles, if you can call them that, on the road we were taking, but somehow or other they were all either going in the opposite direction, were either waiting to turn onto the road we were on, or turned off in front of us before we caught up to them. Seems like I was having Linda's luck, but in reverse, lol. It was along in this area we first noticed them. The air at times was filled with their bodies and the impact with the windshield and front of the coach sounded like rain. It took us a long time to figure out what they were, but at last we realized they were Japanese beetles, millions and millions of them, thick as raindrops, mile after mile after mile. The front windshield was becoming a large splotch of dead beetle do. We joked about there being no birds in the air, most likely because they were so full they couldn't get off the ground, lol. Unfortunately that is not true because the hard shell of the beetle makes it unattractive to birds, who would be a most desirable natural predator otherwise.
We had been watching both gas and diesel prices as well as the fuel gauge as we drove along. We were out in the country, so to speak, driving a gray road of all things, when we came up on a truck stop that was not only fairly busy, it also had the lowest price on diesel we had seen for a long, long time. Maybe that was why there were so many semi's stopped there. Having driven for long enough I pulled in. The high speed pump made the task of filling the tank short work, though it always seems the high speed pumps just don't fill the tank as full as we can at the regular pumps. I topped it off as best I could and we pulled out for the last few miles of our trip. Almost before we knew it, we were in Logan county, named after the father of General John "Black Jack" Logan, and now heading toward the town of Lincoln. The only town in America named for President Abraham Lincoln before he was elected President, a distinction they are quick to point out. (In fact Lincoln was the prime mover in the formation of the new county and actually christened the new town of Lincoln in 1853 with watermelon juice.) Our destination was the Logan County Fairgrounds on the west side of town. We had been wanting to stay in a small Midwestern town over the fourth of July holiday so we could experience the same things we had in our childhood. Having really enjoyed our stay at the Mercer County Fairgrounds in Celina, Linda had gone on line to find a fairgrounds in the heart of Lincoln county. She had called the Logan County Fairground and found out that they do welcome campers, though not may people camp there, other than during the fair. The last thing we wanted for the 4th was a campground with wall to wall RV's like we had over Memorial Day weekend at Lake Snowden. We also wanted one place to sort of hole up over the holiday. It sounded like the Logan County Fairgrounds fit our wants to a tee. We finally arrived, and Linda walked up to the office to register. The sites were in need of mowing and one of the maintenance workers said if we could wait a few minutes he would mow the whole area for us. There is just something about small town America that can't be beat. The only problem we had was the electrical outlets were only 20 amps and some were installed right side up, of all things, so our adapter wouldn't fit. We had to move the coach twice, but finally found one that was both upside down and easily reachable, lol.
Before long the energy management system had shut down the air conditioner and we opened some windows and turned on the Fantastic fans. A little later I walked outside to find the sun was lower in the sky, the air was rapidly cooling off and thus we ended up sitting out in the shade, with the smell of new mown grass in the air, luxuriating in the awesome life we live. I say this not to sound high and mighty nor to make anyone envious, but rather to let you know not only can it be done, you too can do it, just believe you can and it is amazing what will transpire. For dinner we had grilled turkey burgers, bean salad and cole slaw, followed later with a brownie and last of our milk. The MotoSat found the satellite and updates of the website should be posted every day now. Life is good.
June 28 Just another day in paradise as they say. This morning I was treated to an interesting bit of high drama as I sat at the computer in glow of the early dawn. Or should the be in the glow of the computer monitor in the early dawn, smile. One of our neighbors across the way has a Chihuahua and they were out for a morning stroll. At the same time a movement crossed the corner of my eye. There was a squirrel on the ground by the coach. As the man and dog came closer, the squirrel climbed a few feet into the tree. Of course I immediately reached for the camera only to see the squirrel disappear around the side of the tree. Missed another good picture, I thought. The dog and the man disappeared behind the tree and the squirrel reappeared and then froze still as a statue. I leaned way back and could see the dog had decided the other side of the tree was the spot it had been hunting for. Out came the camera for a photo of the squirrel. After I took the photo I leaned back again to see a hand around a baggie come out of the side of the tree and pick up the little pile. A few moments later the man and dog once again reappeared and the squirrel once again disappeared. Some days you witness the most amazing events. Ain't life great?
Later we had a breakfast of eggs once again, ya, I know, but we have both lost a pound or two the last couple of weeks, though it probably has a lot more to do with portion control at dinner than the switch from oatmeal to eggs in the morning, smile. It was not quite time to leave for the Library yet (we had planned to leave Fort Wayne this morning and head west, but the Library is so neat we are going to stay another day) so Linda went out to take care of the flower and vegetable garden. Suddenly she's back at the door exclaiming, "number four, we've got number four." This was unbelievable, maybe the babies were having babies, lol. Any way, I was soon outside doing my duty as she went over the hosts campsite to pay for another night. Over near where I saw the helicopter the other day was some high grass, so I turned it loose at the edge and watched it scurry into the weeds and disappear. Hope this doesn't upset the balance of nature in the park, lol.
The next 12 hours saw us locked deep in the bowels of the Library doing battle with dead relatives. Wresting those bits and pieces of information from their hiding place can be both fun and frustrating, but it is always enjoyable. We did do better with lunch today, taking a break at 3 o'clock to eat our turkey wraps at a table out in the lobby area. There are always discoveries to be unearthed, so to speak, and the afternoon provided a good one. The lady in the picture is my great-great grandmother. It's the first photo of her I have ever had. We knew it existed in a book published in the late 1800's because I had a Xerox of the picture copied from the book. Thanks to Linda, I now had a photo of the photo. Besides finding this treasure for me, Linda was able to print out many pages of census information, while I searched out ships passenger lists to fill in a couple of holes in my information. Since our time was so limited, only 12 hours in the Library, we were just gathering what we could. Later we will be able to sort out the grain from the chaff and also have a lot of "maybe" information as well. By the way, if you think someone would be crazy to call 12 hours in a library in one day, a short time, you should get into searching for your roots yourself. Odds are you will soon be thinking the same way, smile.
On the way out of the library Linda spied her favorite flower in a new color. Scabosia is the flower and the photo shows the color. She's never had one in a salmon color before. That's a carnation behind it by the way. I was suprised she didn't try to dig the entire plant up rather than just settle for one flower. When we had walked out the door I had been looking in a direction away from the plant. When I finally noticed it and said something to her, she opened her hand to show me she had already picked one. Is that lady fast or what, smile
As we were driving back we talked about where we were staying and what a neat little park it was. Since it is called Johnny Appleseed Park, there is a story here, there, somewhere, smile. Minutes later we were gazing upon Mr. Nathaniel Chapman's son. Or at least the grave site of of his son, John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed. Want know a little about the man? Here's an article and for one with a New England slant look here. A simple man with a desire to do what was right. Now resting on a knoll, surrounded by apple trees. Just another of those little things which makes America great. To experience the connection of being human. The joy of life. The spirit of individuality. The adventure goes on and on.
Since it was so late we decided to skip dinner, then our stomachs got the better of us, so turkey burgers were soon in the skillet, with cole slaw and sweet potato salad ready to be dished out. Later it was brownies and milk once again for an early end to an exhausting, yet satisfying day.
June 27 I think we have picked up a new habit. Would you believe that we're having eggs again this morning for breakfast. Of course the fact that we've been buying eggs by the dozen and a half has also contributed. Linda even managed to find some Canadian Bacon while rummaging around in the freezer. It's funny how we use our freezer. At home we had a chest freezer as well as the one in the refrigerator. They were always full, some times to the very top, with all kinds of good things we were always picking up. When we were considering how to buy food and stock the refrigerator/freezer in the coach we started out thinking exactly the same way we had in our previous life. As we have traveled these past months that philosophy has evolved to the point where we now realize that freezer space is a precious resource that must be used wisely. Unfortunately there is the occasional item that drops through the cracks so to speak. The Canadian Bacon is a good example. You see, there are these little containers that hang from the doors. A perfect spot for something to migrate to bottom, out of sight. That's what happened to the Bacon, but now it's almost history, smile.
We spent the day at the ACPL, aka Allen County Public Library, the second largest genealogical library in the county. Bad Bob forgot to take a photo in side the place, so just think big. Big as in really big. Big as in rows of printed material that seem to go on until they fade from site. While it is not the size of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, it is still a treasure chest of information and gold mine of family history all combined into one. We really appreciated the fact that librarians go out of their way to be helpful, which saved us many hours of fruitless wandering, so to speak. Linda leaned more toward searching on the computers, where she spent a lot of time on the Ancestry. Com website (also all the copies produced from the website were free), while I pursued a more eclectic path, flitting between, I mean methodically using, all the various resources, with a good bit of time spent just browsing through the printed materials. We ended up arriving just after 10AM and staying till until 8:30PM. That made for one long day. They have very limited parking at the library, but we found a spot in a parking deck just around the corner. The rates are $1.25 an hour, or $5.00 for all day. This is in the downtown of the second largest city in Indiana. When we came out at 8:30, there was sign saying just put the ticket by the window and drive out, so it ended up being free parking. We did take one break, eating lunch at 4:30. (Anybody who has ever done some genealogy knows this is just a typical day in the life of a family researcher, lol)
There is a real mix of architectural styles in downtown Fort Wayne. Since the town was named in honor of Mad Anthony Wayne whose victory at Fallen Timbers opened the Northwest Territory to settlement by the people moving westward from the states on the east coast of the recently founded United States of America, his presence and name are seen everywhere. The newer generations should be advised that all those streets in nearly every town around this area of Indiana and Ohio are not named for Wayne Newton, John Wayne or heaven forbid, Wayne Gretzky. It was named for a real man, not an entertainment or sports cardboard person. He wasn't nicknamed "Mad Anthony" for nothing, smile.
Also downtown is the County Courthouse. This photo doesn't do it justice, but it was late in the day when we emerged from the library, smile. And from what we heard about the inside of the building, the next time we are in Fort Wayne we are going to have to stop and visit it. This town is just loaded with museums and things to do. It abounds in history and things of long ago. Why is it that whenever we stumble on these places we have no time to just be vacationeers or tourists. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I don't know, but it's also why wev've decided that on our next swing through this area we are blocking out a year to give us more time to see a lot more things.
By the time we were done at the library, both of us were tired. Actually, nearly exhausted would better describe our condition. It was interesting listening to the comments of the two ladies we shared the elevator with as we were descending from the third floor. It was obvious that near exhaustion is a common malady among genealogists, lol. Dinner was leftovers. Thin sliced flank steak accompanied by bean salad and cole slaw. It might be leftovers, but I could eat this way every night. Top the evening off with a chocolate brownie and a glass of milk, the perfect end to a perfect day.
June 26 Time to move on down the road and leave Ohio behind. Breakfast was once again the egg, onion, cheese scramble with ham and strawberries. After breakfast I worked on the website while Linda cooked, or maybe I should say combined. It is summer and that means bean salad time is here again. She had stocked up on Cannellini, pinto and black beans at the Walmart yesterday. Add in the dark red kidney beans, canola oil, several types of vinegar and assorted other goodies and like magic the beginnings of a great bean salad appears. As always there is one special ingredient and for bean salad it is time. Not thyme, the spice, time, the ticking of the clock. The longer the better. Let them flavors and ingredients mold together so they commingle, the compost so to speak like a pile of leaves after several years. Totally changes what you got for the much better, lol.
One of the things that always amazes me is how time just seems to fly by. We are planning on moving down the the road today, or maybe I should more properly say up the road, so there is rearranging to do. Plus, we are out of propane in the small tank for the Baby Que grill. We had asked at the local Ace hardware about where to get a tank filled and the Landmark store and it turns out that the Landmark store is the place for the helpful propane man, lol. Since it was about three blocks away, Linda went to get it filled while I tried to gather up everything that goes in the lower bays. This is one of those places we could just hand around for a week or so, but that means longer travel days later when we will want to be taking time to see more of the Great Plains, so we are leaving. There is one other thing we are keeping in mind. The up coming Fourth of July Holiday. It's a four day weekend this year so we plan to sit it out someplace. We have a couple of possibilities in mind, county fairgrounds would you believe, over in Illinois near the heart of Lincoln Country that would let us get in a little historical sightseeing and rest up time, sort of like two birds with one stone. Of course if it were birds, it would be more like a robin and a hawk, smile.
Things pretty well packed up, Linda remembered to check the mouse trap. Would yo believe it, we had another one, that's three of them all together. We didn't have "a" mouse, we've got a whole herd of mice down there, lol. This one was just a scared as all the others. We took him over by one of the oak trees and turned the trap upside down so the door opened. Poor thing wasn't going to move, so a little shaking and tapping got him out. Just like the others, the first thing he does is look me right in the face. Someday I may figure out what goes through their minds at this moment, but not today. An instant later he is over at the base of the tree, nestled in the little vee where some roots come out. Linda takes his picture, then tries to get a close up. The mouse is having none of this and takes off around the tree with Linda, camera ready, in hot pursuit. I go the other way around the tree an there is the mouse about three feet up the tree, hanging on for dear life. Linda decides she wants a closeup of this. The next thing I know there is a mouse about ten feet up the tree, climbing just as fast as its four feet can move. soon it is at the level of the first limbs, which I would judge was at least 20 to 25 feet up. Of course when I asked Linda if she got a picture of the mouse climbing the tree she hadn't. She was to engrossed in watching it climb to remember to take a picture. After being cooped up in that little trap it was probably pretty thirsty and I figured it sure had picked the best route to find water. We looked and looked for awhile but the mouse had disappeared into the tree so to speak as its color matched the oak bark so well. At least we did our part to keep the balance of nature humming along in balance, smile.
Shortly after all this we put the slides in, raised the jacks and pulled out so we could see how far the wooden blocks had sunk, or been driven, into the ground. They had really done a good job helping keep the coach level. Only the roadside rear blocks had sunk into the ground and even so the top was still above ground level. Of course this wasn't the end of the story. Since we had something new, we had to find a place to store it. Linda came up with a good idea. The Joey Bed was a little wider than the boxes we had in it, so we tried to put the blocks there. They almost all fit, which along with putting a couple along the outside of the Joey Bed along the wall of the bay temporarily solved the storage problem. A permanent storage space will come with time as the spot they are in is where we took out a box of family history materials.
Before long we had left Celina, Ohio behind and were heading toward Fort Wayne, Indiana. We had studied the map and decided to head north out of Celina on Ohio Rt-127, then turn west on US Rt-30, the Lincoln Highway, north of Van Wert and follow it into Fort Wayne. What a pleasant drive. The state and US highways we have taken in Ohio have been in very good condition, these were even another step up in quality. it doesn't take long to travel 55 or so miles to Fort Wayne. One thing to watch out for is the short, make that non-existent merge lanes if you exit from East Washington Blvd to South Coliseum Blvd. Soon we were parked at Johnny Appleseed campground in Johnny Appleseed Park. Of course there was no view of the satellite again, sigh. In the evening we took drive downtown to check out the Allen County Public Library where we will be going tomorrow to do more looking for dead relatives, smile.
After dinner, Linda played pyromaniac, burning all the mail that we don't keep that has our name on it. It is fascinating watching her drop each piece, one at a time into the fire. I think she could do this for hours if we had enough paper, smile.
While she was doing this I heard a commotion out in the field beyond the campround. Walking over, look what I found.
The perfect end to the evening was not the dessert, but it sure was good, smile. It was the marinated grilled shrimp with cole slaw we had for dinner. Is life good or what.
June 25 Just a laid back day. Not anything special planned for today other than to relax a little bit. Breakfast was scrambled eggs with a little onion and cheese, a small piece of ham and a couple of strawberries on the side. It sure was tasty and it also seems to be removing a few of those, more than several, pounds we (mostly Bob) had picked up over the last 6 weeks of far too many visits to restaurants, smile. Deciding that a little exercise would do me good, I proceeded to extricate the step ladder from the bay. Of course that resulted in assorted paraphernalia being piled beside the coach. This included several bird feeders, an air hose, the empty cardboard box the scanner came in (are we pack rats or what), a tool box and the saw. Someone would think the Clampetts had arrived if they were watching us, lol.
The ladder retrieved and placed at the front of the coach, it was time to find out where the Rain-X was. After a fruitless search, I was forced to ask the "knower of all things in the coach" were it was. Normally this would not not be a problem, but since I was trying to be on my best behavior today and also since I had asked her yesterday where it was and then didn't pay attention to her answer, it was with some reluctance that I approached her. Proving once again that I sure picked right those many, many years ago, she open the draw beside where she was sitting and showed me once again where it was. Only the little smile at the corner of her mouth hinted at what she thought of the hopeless male she is married to. Rain-X and small clean rag in hand, that's what the directions on the bottle said to use, I ascended the ladder. The directions stated you needed to apply the Rain-X to a clean window. Even though I had spent a great deal of time washing it last night, it still wasn't clean. What to do? Deciding a half a loaf is better than no loaf at all, I started applying it just as the directions said, but without any further cleaning of the window. Lots of small round strokes, lots of moving the ladder, lots of exercise. About half way through I decided that the front window would be more than enough for today. Otherwise I might end up looking like a lopsided Popeye, what with all the right forearm muscle development I was getting, smile.One other thing that comes to mind when I do something that requires a circular motion is Mr. Miyagi. Pat Morita has passed on, but his most famous line will probably never be forgotten. To experience the connection of being human. The joy of life. The spirit of individuality. The adventure goes on and on.
Later we decided to run over to the other side of town and get a few things at Walmart. The extra flowers that didn't get placed on any graves are not only still alive, they actually look good. So we are going to get a planter and have a portable flower bed to go along with our portable tomato. There was also food to buy. It always amazes me that Walmart has a far greater selection of healthy food than any of the normal grocery stores. Of course they also have far, far more unhealthy food also, lol, it's just a matter of knowing what to buy and what to not buy, smile. The best lesson we have learned in the last year of eating the South Beach way, is that healthy food is also tasty food, it's just that sometimes you have to invest a little time and effort to acquire the taste for it. There were also files and folders to organize all our genealogy finds, hair spray, laundry detergent and birthday cards that found there way into the cart. I would be remiss in not mentioning the eight cans of diced green chilies, because now we can fix the white bean chicken chili when ever we want. Of course with the warm weather of summer now upon us it may be a while, but we are prepared, smile. Returning to the fairgrounds, Linda suggested we drive along the lake for a ways. It is amazing just how beautiful Grand Lake Saint Mary's is. This is one place we really could stay for a couple of more weeks, like the people from Miami Florida at the fairgrounds that came for a few days have stayed for nearly a month.
Returning via the main street in town we noticed display cases and people all around a house near downtown. What the heck we thought, let's stop and see what's going on. That how we met Casey Lee Michael Young. Seventeen years old, and a veritable fountain of knowledge about local Indian artifacts. What we had stumbled onto was a Paleo-Indian artifact show. The local collectors were proudly displaying their collections around the sidewalk and grounds of the Riley House, home of the Mercer County Historical Museum. Talk about fish out of water, we knew we were looking at arrowheads and stone axes, plus a whole lot of other things that we could only guess what they were when we stopped at Casey's display. Before we left, we understood not only about the artifacts, but also the history of the area and the love of a young man on the threshold of becoming an adult, for the past. In a small way, both Linda and I watched and listened to ourselves as teenagers as we watched and listened to Casey. Here was living proof that you don't have to be the best, the one above all the rest, you only have to truly love what you do. When we started on our adventure we hoped our path would cross these types of things. Today, once again it did. And we are better for having found it.
Back at the coach, we put away our purchases as best we could. The eight cans of chilies were particularly vexing. Our pantry is of limited capacity, so we needed to find somewhere else to store them. The brilliant women I am married to came up with an excellent solution. We had put empty tissue boxes on the shelves of the medicine cabinets to store small items. so she taped the cans in pairs, the recipe calls for two cans, and put then in one of the tissue boxes, then stuck a sticky note to the outside so we would know what was in there, smile. Then it was outside to plant the flowers. We had bought an 18" long, bottom watering, planter and a 10 quart bag of potting soil and only time will tell if this was a good choice. I got to do the lifting and pouring, while the "lady of the soil" got to do the actual planting. The contrast between the yellow marigolds and blue ageratum's is striking. Linda pinched off a good number of the blooms to give them a good start so it will be a few days until a photo of the completed planter will be posted.
Later, we relaxed in the lawn chairs, reading the paperbacks
we had bought at the senior citizen center sale Friday evening. It is
so peaceful here, the grass flowing out before us, the giant oak trees
overhead, a place unchanged for many, many years. It occurred to me
this might be a fun place to get out the metal detector and do some
searching. Wow, did I ever find a bunch of things. Of course, the
things were all pull tabs from aluminum cans, lol. After a while Linda
came over to see how it was going. Next thing I knew, she had the book
out and was adjusting some settings. a little fine tuning by both of us
and the hunt was on. She manned the detector and I manned the
trowel. After all was said and done we had 21 pennies and
one thin dime for our efforts. Not a lot in terms of monetary rewards,
but the fun we had finding them was wonderful. All this fun works up an
appetite, so it was time to fix supper. Turkey burgers on a whole wheat
bun, topped with sauteed onions and pepper, a tossed salad and
something new, sweet potato salad. Later we desserted on the last of
the tapioca pudding and chocolate chip cookies, all sugar free of
course. Life is good, smile.
June 24 The MotoSat had found the satellite this morning. We're back on line, hooray. Today is another day of doing nothing. It has been so long now that our days have been filled with activities that we need to get back to to what we are. A couple of people who quit their jobs to live and travel in an RV, enjoying each other, life and this great big country we live in. It's not that spending time with relatives, or doing hours and hours of family genealogy research was not fun and exhilarating, but sooner or later the need to move on down the road and get back to living life strikes. So here we sit, in the grass, fronted by a gravel road, giant oak trees towering above us, along with 4 other RV's in the middle of a Midwest fairgrounds. It's not a day to just sit and relax however, as soon the quite solitude of the early summer morning is punctuated with the sound of distant gunfire. The mounted cowboy shoot we had seen advertised on the sign at the entrance to the fairgrounds had, rather obviously, started.
Curious as to just what a mounted cowboy shoot was, we sauntered over to them thar parts where the action was taking place. At one end of the small 4H show area, about 30 or 40 cowboys and cowgirls, dressed for the most part just as they would, had it been the 1890's, sat on their horses. The area was dotted with white and red balloons on stands and a good sized crowd either sat on bleachers or stood along the fence and under the trees along the near side of the area. It took watching only a few contestants to figure out what they were doing, which was to ride a specified route through the balloons, shooting at the five white balloons with their first gun, holstering it, drawing the second gun and shooting at the five red balloons, all the while riding just as fast as they could. Turns out there are three different classes, men, women and seniors and six different levels within each class, so that while everyone shoots, one after the other, you are actually only competing against people of the same skill level. They said it was the fastest growing equestrian sport, and after watching all the fun the participants were having it was easy to see why. I'll let the photo's below tell the story.
It may not look like it, but she's trying to hit the white balloon with that .44 caliber pistol.
There isn't too much danger from getting hit with so stray lead. Primarily because they don't use any lead in those five shooters. The load is either ground corncobs or walnut shells. and the maximum range is 15 feet. Safety is one of their main concerns and since there are only 5 balloons for each pistol, they only load five shots. The shots are counted and if less than 5 shots are fired or a misfire occurs, the pistol is checked when the horse and rider leave the area. They use black powder, just as would have been used in the 1890 time period they are portraying. The smoke makes for a startling sense of realism and also makes you realize just how unrealistic most western movies and TV shows really were.
The costumes vary with each person, as do the holsters and horses. The pageantry makes for a lovely scene as the riders make the rounds. Take holsters for example. Not only are they of different colors, also of different shapes. They hold the pistol, butt to the rear, butt to the front, worn up on the chest, both to the same side or on the front of the saddle. The variations went on and on and that was just for the holsters. It was interesting to realize that some of the participants were very accurate with the pistol, while others could handle a horse like they were born bonded together. But only one or two could ride like the wind and shoot like Annie Oakley at the same time. All this brought to mind one of the fellows I used to work with, Mike, who could ride like he was born on a horse (maybe he was). Being comfortable on the horse appeared to be most of the success of the better participants. Mike would be a natural at this.
There were not only four footed critters in the ring there was also a four wheeled critter. I had to smile at the fellow driving this beast. We had watched him compete, riding at a moderate pace, seeming a little uneasy with the pistol, but by taking his time, breaking almost all the balloons. Put him on a tractor and was it ever a different story. This man could really drive that baby. Back and forth, in and out, around and around, it was obvious that riding the four wheeler was part of his day job so to speak, while riding the four footer was what he did for fun and relaxation. To experience the connection of being human. The joy of life. The spirit of individuality. The adventure goes on and on.
Here is something a little different that I hope doesn't mess things up. To give you a good idea of what a mounted cowboy shoot looks like, I made a movie of one of the cowpersons in action. To play it, here.
After watching for a couple of hours we went back to the coach for lunch. Linda then went to the laundromat to catch up on things dirty, while I took a bike ride around town. Celina's downtown has the mixed facade you see in so many towns, but the beauty of the old buildings was readily apparent. Main street heading north out of town is lined with very well kept up homes that were obviously built by the well to do in earlier times. This is really a well maintained town. Riding around, I never did see any of the run down neighborhoods that are so typical of most towns. There was one sad relic of the past however. Spanning a number of blocks, the ghostly remains of the Mersman Table Company rose up to dominate the western side of town. Its tall smokestack offering mute testimony of the transitory nature of life, just as the towering steeple of the nearby Catholic Church proclaimed its belief in the permanence of the afterlife. Just what was or were Mersman tables? How many people worked here. How long had the company been in business. When did it finally close? If I could just get an internet connection I might be able to learn some of the answers. Ah, the vexations of modern technology run awry, smile. Or put another way, trees, trees trees, why did these sites all have to be in the trees, lol.
Later, after spending more time with our new genealogy program, The Master Genealogist, we decided to clean up some of the outside of the coach. I attacked the windshield, while Linda took on the area below. Now if you think about it for a moment, one of us is cleaning the windshield up high and the other is cleaning the area below. Soapy water will always follow the dictates of gravity, seeking out the lowest spot possible. In other words if your going to stand below a waterfall you best be prepared to get wet. Linda was of a somewhat different mindset. Her understanding is water can be channeled in directions that makes allowance for tendency of the human body to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Suffice it to say, that soapy water no longer was falling upon the fair young maiden, smile. It was amazing how the goo that binds bugs together in life serves as a glue that binds their carcass to glass after death. Perhaps Super Glue is nothing more than distilled bug innards, lol. Mercer County Fairgrounds hot water, Dawn dish soap and Bob's elbow grease combined to do a reasonable job of removal. Since the only difference in method between the attack on the windshield and the attack on the coach was the substitution of Linda's elbow grease for Bob's, why did her surfaces come cleaner than mine? That will forever remain an unknown quantity. And if you think I'd suggest she do all the scrubbing in the future rather than me, I've got a great big bridge between Manhattan and Brooklyn I'd like to sell you, lol.
Next, it was strongly suggested I climb up on the roof and do a little minor maintenance on the MotoSat. A brief squirt of silicone on the gears, it was pointed out, would, no doubt, enhance its performance, not to mention quiet its noisy movement, at least to Linda's ears. Dutifully I climbed the ladder and surveyed the situation. Shortly thereafter a trade was made. The camera for a Phillips head screwdriver. I removed three screws and gave the mechanism a very brief shot of silicone spray, reinstalled the screws, then was told the official photographer on this project had not gotten the photo she desired. Thus I spent a few more moments posing for just the right picture. Finally satisfied she let me return to ground level. Dinner was definitely different tonight. Would you believe turkey roll ups? You better because that's what we had. For dessert I made tapioca pudding to go along with the chocolate chip cookies Linda made. Sometimes we mess up and sometimes everything goes together. Thank goodness the times everything works right always seems to involve food, lol.
June 23 Wow, has it been a long time since we could just sit for a day. I do use the word sit with a great deal of leeway in its interpretation, due to the fact that while we do not plan to adventure out from the Fairgrounds, there will be far more than just a modicum of work done around the coach today. A through cleaning of the carpets and floor will take place. After being busy almost every minute of the day over the past four weeks, we finally get to slow down. Of course before we can get down to the business of work we must fortify ourselves with oatmeal and strawberries. What's not to like about this life, lol. I have to admit to being something of a pig, however. My piles, boxes and clothes have finally gotten the best of Linda. This morning she is going to oversee my cleaning up the mess I have worked at creating. Looking at the picture, and thinking about my comment to her of, "What mess, I don't see any mess," was probably the wrong thing to say. Hey give me credit, at least I knew where most of the stuff should go and what I didn't, Linda sure did. (And so will I the next time, smile.) Heck. I even knew where the broom, dustpan and sweeper were, how's that for being a great husband. Before long our house on wheels was looking more like a home than a dump. Don't think it was easy, it wasn't, but when you don't have any choice, it's amazing what you can do, lol.
There was also a lot of time spent on the computer, but the highlight of the day was, as they sometimes say on the nightly TV sportscast, the catch of the day. Linda's pronouncement of the other day, that she suspected we still had a mouse on board, was proven true. The mouse trap worked to perfection. The rat was caught in the trap, to take some literary license, smile. Of course this generated a whole host of questions, not the least of which was, what do we do with him. The first thing we did was hold the trap up and get a good look at it, Linda discovering that they sure do have big eyes, lol. Then came the photo session followed by the, what do we do with it now, question. Casting our eyes around the area, over near the horse barns seemed the most likely spot. We walked over that way and laying the trap down, turned it upside down, and just as the instructions said, the little trapdoor fell open. Out came the mouse's head. We waited for the rest of it to emerge, but all it seemed it want to do, was look around. Maybe it could smell the cats whom we had seen around the barns and so, had decided the trap was the lesser of two evils. It was bad enough it wanted to live in our house and eat our bird seed, but when it started acting stubborn we decided to help it with its decision making. A small bump of the trap and it was off. I must say, we never know what strange things we will meet during our daily adventure we call life, lol.
Dinner was repeat of last night, hey those fish tacos were about as good as it gets. However, I got booted out of the kitchen and Linda took over the fish frying duties. Seems like there might have been just a tad too much seasoning on those puppies for her. It is funny, I always lean toward to much in the way of seasonings, while Linda leans towards too little. I can handle too little a lot better than she can handle too much, so it's fair for her to try tonight. They were just as good, if not even better than last night. I can unequivocally state this will be a regular item on the menu from now on. Later, chocolate chip cookies and ice cream topped of a day that started out good and proceeded to get even better.
June 22 Today I arose with the name of American newspaper editor Horace Greeley on my mind and the phrase he popularized, Go West Young Man, in my heart. Apparently, Greeley did not originate the phrase, which is attributed to Indiana newspaper writer John Soule, who, it is said, penned it in 1851. After spending the last month researching family history, I can imagine that somewhere there is a record that states those words were first uttered by that famous, but now forgotten, Roman emperor, Petronius Maximus as the Huns approached the Eastern edge of Rome. You dig deep enough and you can find almost anything, no matter how preposterous lol. That's not to say that the Greeley Soule statement is either true or false, it's just that denouement of the situation may not be an easy thing to accomplish. (For what it's worth the commonly used phrase, final denouement, is an oxy-moron as the word denouement means final resolution.)
Breakfast was the usual oatmeal and strawberries followed by putting things in their upright and locked position prior to takeoff. As we doing this, we noticed our Cardinal was back again. He's going to be one sad fellow when we pull out. Instead of landing on the mirror, this morning he seemed to prefer, perching in the bushes directly out side the coach door and singing his songs. He's not the only one who will be sad when we leave, were going to miss him too.
The sites at this park are nice,though it would never have occurred to us to stop here if it hadn't been on the Passport America list. Just another one of those serendipity things.
Before long we were on the highway, heading west. Our route followed US-33 from the Columbus area to St Mary's, Ohio, where we took Ohio Rt-29 to Celina. We planned to stay at the Mercer County Fairgrounds and the Passport America book gave directions. Instead of programming the fairgrounds into the GPS, Linda decided we would just go by the book. As can often happen, in these cases, things can and do go wrong. We ended up driving past the Fairgrounds, not once , but twice. The first time it was because of the directions in the passport America book. I kept telling Linda the street names even though they weren't in the book, and she just kept saying the book says to go this way. About 5 miles out of town we finally found a road that looked like it would eventually get us back to Celina, where the fairgrounds were located. The next time we were on the right street, it was just that the entrance to the fairgrounds is not marked. What the heck, this is small town America and anyone who would be going to the fairgrounds would be from around here and know where it was, lol. This time the detour was only 3 or 4 blocks out of the way. Since it was a fairgrounds, there were no assigned sites. There were four other RV's parked along a gravel road that was shaded with enormous oak trees.
Did you catch that word, shaded? Trees, branches, leaves, meaning how were we going to get on the internet. The solution wass finally found, but it wasn't gonna be pretty. Everyone was pretty well spread out along this road. There wass one RV, all the way down at the end, who has his satellite up. As we walked down, we can see only one possible site to get through the trees. Right next to this RV. Not a ways away, right smack dab next to him. And having no choice, that's what we did. It took a little while to find the satellite but soon we were on line. It was at just about this time that the sky started getting very black to the west. Suddenly the wind was blowing strongly, so strongly the coach was shaking. Down came the satellite and on came the weather radio. Extremely strong thunderstorms and a possible tornado were in the offing. Then we heard the sirens in town go off. Having grown up in Ohio we knew the tornado warning sirens. What to do. Just what anyone would do, we looked out the windows to see what was going on weather wise. Other than the rain was quite literally horizontal from the back of the coach to the front, following the path of numerous leaves and small branches, nothing was happening. The tell-tale signs we knew from the two tornado's we had been in before weren't there. The hair on our arms was perfectly normal and there was no hint of green in the sky. We decided to stay put and shortly the rain and wind started to die down as the storm passed.
We still hadn't set up yet, the slides were in and the jacks were up. Lowering the jacks showed we had a problem with the soft ground. Our Motosat went up and before we knew it, we were on line and had the address of the local lumber store. A trip to Wal mart for a few things, a stop at the lumber store, some exercise from sawing the eight foot 2x 10 into six equal lengths and the sinking problem was solved. Later that evening we relaxed while we ate chocolate chip cookies for dessert and reminisced about our adventures today. Life, ain't it wonderful
This place is going to the birds. It really is. We have a male Cardinal that has taken umbrage with the coach and it is determined to rid the world of this large invader. It's one thing for him to perch on the feeder stuffing himself while his mate picks up sunflower seeds from the ground below, but them he moves over to a branch that hangs down near the feeder and starts making loud noises over and over. It took us a while to figure out what he was doing but at last we decided he either thinks the coach is a very large female Cardinal or the Explorer is a rival male Cardinal.
Once he has decided that no matter how loud or long he chrips, trying to frighten these two big invaders away, they just are not going to leave, he changes tactics. He goes into attack mode. If the coach is the object of his fury, the mirror on Linda's side pays the price, but the door also suffers some punishment. First he flys into the door several times, which makes for a loud noise but with no apparent damage to either coach or bird. Next he lands on the arm of the mirror and begins an escalating attack on the mirror. This can go on for quite some time, like a half hour or more, before we see him land on the Explorer, attacking the drivers side window. Whether he is one badly confused Cardinal or one bird you really don't want to mess with we don't know. Don't think we want to find out either, lol.
He is very serious about this task, whatever it is.
Most of the day was spent down at the Ohio Historical Society, researching a couple of special problems in each of our families. As expected, the answers were not forthcoming, but we did discover a wealth of information in other areas. Their collection of early Ohio newspapers is without parallel, it's just that the amount of time it takes to go through even a few issues of one of the papers, coupled with the constantly moving microfilm page makes for a tiring experience. We both yelled 'uncle' at about the same time and drove back to the coach for some much needed R&R.
June 20Today we start heading west, a journey that will take weeks and cover several thousand miles. But first there is a surprise in store for us. As we ate breakfast this morning we heard a knocking sound . Later we checked it out and discovered a red headed woodpecker at the top of a dead locust tree. As we were to discover, the reason they had so many dead snags in the campground was because they are the prime nesting habitat of these birds. This meant that preparations for leaving were put on hold while I set up the tripod and camera and then tried to take a picture. These birds are survivors, because try as I might, they would not drill their hole on the side of the tree facing me no matter where I moved. Taking a page from the nature photographers we have seen on television, I partially hid myself behind another tree. As you can see, this worked.
The bird is on top of the snag to the left in the photo above. Below is a close-up.
The photographs taken, it was time to prepare to leave, which in a way, will be hard since this is a very nice campground. Here we are in our site. Nice looking rig isn't it, lol.
I also got to try out my new air compressor. All the coach tires were okay, but one of the Explorer tires was a little low.
Before long we pulled out and headed south towards the Columbus area. We planned to drive south on Rt-44, west on US-30 then southwest towards Columbus on RT-3, the old 3C highway. The 3C stood for Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, the three major cities it linked together, but the section of road we took was easy to drive, mostly through small towns or country. Soon we were at our destination, Alum Creek State Park. We were here because it was a Passport America Park and hence half price. It was also reasonably close to where we would be spending some time, the Ohio Historical Society. After we got set up, we took a walk around and found this set up down the way. it is hard to tell from the photo, but that is a microwave on the ground next to the electrical post, lol.
Since we were far from the ocean, we decided to have salmon for dinner. Looked like everybody else was doing something weird, so we figured we would do our small bit to fit in.
Our last day in northeastern Ohio, so we have an old favorite for breakfast, scrambled eggs, Canadian bacon and strawberries.
Afterwards we head down to Lisbon and do some last minute searching in the Courthouse. We find a few things and fill in a couple more gaps, plus get the naturalization certificate for my great grandfather who immigrated from Switzerland. One of the problems with old records is that they are old. Meaning that some times they are, for all intents and purposes, unreadable. Take a look at what I mean.
Later we drove around the land that my great great great grandfather first cleared of trees. It was difficult to image the amount of work this took, because not only did the trees have to be felled, the stumps also had to be removed. Even with the chain saws and tractors we have available today, this would be a gargantuan undertaking. How could he have done it with a ax, cross cut saw and teams of oxen. It is a big field, almost 200 acres big and view below spans 180 degrees.
We end the day making one last visit to the graves of my
grandparents and great grandparents. It was time to say goodbye for now.
Sunday morning just like Sunday morning would have been over 50 years ago. The little country church I attended as a boy, Fathers Day, a guest minister, plus the girl I liked the best in high school was the organist. What more could a person ask for, lol. The memories we all carry. You can go home again, it's just that it won't be the same place. Somewhere I have a photo of me as a little boy standing on these very same steps with a red flower just like in this photo.
One distinct memory of the church, the steps and the flowers that I have revolves around Mothers Day. One that Sunday in early May, was a day everyone would also have a flower pinned on them. I remember looking at the adults and seeing a number of white flowere, at least on all the really old people with white hair. I had to wear a red one as did all the young people and many of the adults. I always noticed my parents got to wear a white flower and I'm sure that I sometimes fussed about having to wear a red one. I thought everyone in our family should get to wear a white one. It was only when I got older that I learned that the white flower signifyed your mother was no longer living. Looking back, it must have been hard on my mother and dad to look at all their friends and see nothing but red flowers, while they would never see their mother's again. Connections made on a Sunday morning in a small country church. What connections did you make today.
Later drove around the small town of Canfield, eventually driving out to the fair grounds. Many, many years ago the race track was the home of the Canfield Speedway, where every Saturday night I would go to the stock car races. I don't ever recall taking a girl to the races here, it was a guy thing. A guy thing passed on from father to son. My father took me to the races at this track just as his father had taken him to the races at this same track as a little boy. Every Saturday night during my high school years when there was a race I was here. I can even remember sitting in the stands as the a light rain fell hoping it would stop so they could race. I knew every driver and stayed in the pits after ther race as long as they let us talking to the drivers and soaking up the sights, sounds and smells of the track. It's not the same today. It's been years since they last raced at Canfield Speedway. Today Sharon Speedway is the name of the game. The quarter mile dirt track is vanishing from America, but I grew up with it. As an aside. when I met Linda, it took her quite a while to realize I liked to do anything else other than go to basketball games or to race tracks. The fact I was willing to take her to my special places says it all. If she could put up with that, she could put up with me these nearly forty years, lol.
Then we headed of for the dim distant past. Back to the very eary 1800.s when this land was not the huge sweeping fields we see today, but rather back to a time when the land was forest. trees. trees as far as the eyes could see. And when you are always in the forest that is not far. Pulitzer Prize winning author, Conrad Richter wrote the wonderful "Awakening Land" trilogy where the three books were titled: The Tree, The Fields, The Town. If you read 'The Trees', you will get a sense of what it was like when my ancestors first came into this part of Ohio. If your idea of the historical novel is the fluff that constitutes an historical romance, be prepared to be hit square between the eyes with a 2x4 when you read what it was really like on the the Ohio frontier in the beginning of the 1800's. My connection this afternoon was a cemetery. Here are my ancestors. In this little cemetery lays more grandparents than I can count. They go back line after line, generation after generation after generation, back into the dim past. One of my 5th great grandfathers and grandmothers are buried here. Also 4th, 3rd and 2nd great grandparents, not just one, but several or more of each generation. You want history, connections and the past, its here, at least it is for me.
A photograph taken in around 1925. How do we know who the people are? My aunt was one of the little heads at the very bottom of the picture. Her memory is dim. We do the best we can to identify the people. Another generation slips into the mists of time, lost forever. Maybe my feeble attempts at working with my aunt to identify the people in the photo will surface some day many years from now. Then again it may be lost forever. Does it matter? Only time and some distant descendent will know. Connections, do you know what yours are?
June 17 Talk about gluttons for punishment, this morning we headed back down to Malvern. The reason was, the Village Historical Society was open today until noon. We were the only visitors, but then we were also treated like we were the only visitors. Talk about two little old ladies who fell all over themselves. My questions were a little beyond their ability to answer, but then, they didn't have to know the answers, only where the information might be and then turn me loose. That was when I discovered that originally Malvern had been two separate towns, one on either side of the canal. The tavern I was searching for was in the section that had been originally called Troy. Here is the lot the tavern was located on as shown on this old map. it's the angled one a little to the right of center. At last I knew the who, what and where.
Our next stop was connected to the tavern. You see, my g-g-g-grandfather had died young leaving a widow and a bunch of children. I wanted to spend some time with my g-g-g-grandmother, who was left virtually penniless by his death and debts. She was just up the road a few miles in the town cemetery, along with several of her children. Also in this same cemetery was the monument to the local soldiers who had fallen for the cause during the War Between the States. The name of one of her sons, the one whose grave we had visited in the Marietta Georgia National Military Cemetery was on the monument. It would be a time of reflection and remembrance. We each have a past. Most people don't know what it is , or if they know their ancestors, know only names. I know them as living breathing ordinary people. People whose life wasn't always easy, people who lived the best they could given the circumstances.
Here I am sitting, eating lunch, visiting with my g-g-g-grandmother. Hers is the small stone just above the center of the photo. It is tipped to the left. It was obvious it had been many years since anyone had tended her grave. After lunch I straightened the stone, discovering the years of appearently being bumped by the mowers had pushed it off its base. I straightened and leveled it, then dug into the ground to plant some flowers. About a half inch down I uncovered an old rusty file and below that was rich dark dirt. A stark contrast to the clayey gravel that was exposed elsewhere in the the cemetery. Someone had tended this gave for a long time. Now I, another of her descendants, was continuing the task. The ground gave way easily and soon there were pretty blue and yellow flowers decorating her stone. She was strong woman to continue on after the early death of my g-g-g-grandfather, I hoped she loved having those flowers on her grave as much as I enjoyed putting there.
She had outlived many of her sons and daughters, I wonder if she ever got done to the little hillside in Marietta, Georgia to put flowers on the grave of her son? Ordinary people, we are all just ordinary people, no one is superior to anyone else although there certainly are enough that try to be.
We had two more stops before heading back to my aunt's house for dinner. The first was at the cheese factory to buy more, lots more, pounds more, of cheese. They have almost ridiculously low prices on the trim ends of the cheese. They are not labeled, but two cheese freaks like us had no trouble identifying what was what. We would be in seriously deep trouble if we lived near here. We'd also be about 40 pounds heavier what with all the cheese we would be eating. This stuff is so good it is actually addicting. Remember the name: The Minerva Cheeses Factory in Minerva, Ohio. Like the Tina Turner song, "Simply the Best."
Then came our final stop.
"Okay, so what is it?" you say. "It's a bridge", I reply. Doesn't really have any meaning. If I tell you it's a railroad bridge, big deal, still doesn't mean anything. Think about where you come from, who you are. I think about where I come from, who I am. We are here because of those who came before us. Just a bridge? No, it's not. A young man, just before the turn of the century walks to work every day. Walks from his fathers farm into town, where he works in a small grocery store. The young man was my grandfather. The little patch of gray, blue and green we see through the opening formed by the bridge. It's the past. I can see it, can you?
June 16 A day for a drive out into the country. Our first stop was in the town of Salem where we took this picture in front of the building where my father worked for many years.
From there we drove back into a residential area to look at a house. Not just any house, it was the house my parents were married in way back before the war started. How different the time must have been back then, yet how well the house had been kept up. I had learned from my Aunt that the woodwork was absolutely magnificent and that my grandmother had loved this house. I now also love it.
It was a pleasant Friday afternoon when we stopped by the Carroll County Courthouse to once again dig further into the past. Every family has their mystery ancestors, well, my ancestors have a couple of mystery locations. I know the who and the what, I just don't know the where. That was what our next search was going to be about, the location of my great-great-great-grandfathers tavern which was located in the Town of Malvern back in the 1840's. Between the deed records and a town map we were able to find where, we felt confident, was the original site of the tavern. Linda was a great help as we poured over record after record in our search for the elusive piece of property.
As is almost always the case with my family, there were many, many old buildings in the town, however, the place where the tavern had stood was markedly different now. What I saw was a house, that if it was old, had been remodeled so much as to make it new for all intents and purposes. It didn't matter, because I could close my eyes for a moment and when they opened, the scene had completely changed and a tavern appeared with horses, carriages and other said appurtenances parked in front of said tavern, to use the language contained in the old lawsuit regarding the fraudulent sale of the building. History, real history. I love this kind of thing, lol.
See what I mean about having to close your eyes to visualize the tavern, but it can be done. In fact it you listen you can hear the creak of leather, clop of the horses and mules and the singing of the birds. Life, meant to be lived.
Later in the day we made one more stop. This time at a cheese factory in the little town of Minerva. I know I can wax ebullient about the most ordinary of things, but this cheese factory has the best cheese we have bought in the last 25 or more years. I will say no more. well maybe just a little more, it's just that if you're ever nearby and don't stop in, at least you won't know what you are missing. Late Friday afternoon in a tiny little store in the front of a cheese factory in a small little town a long way from anywhere and we had to wait in line to buy our cheese. Enough said.
June 15 Never ones to rest on our laurels, we are heading back to the Columbiana County Courthouse for another day of digging into the past. Bob's roots go far back into the early mists of time in this county. Back before the ancestors of Harvey Firestone, he of the tire company fame, first settled here, my ancestors were farming the land that would someday be part of the Village of Columbiana. But before we headed down there, we had stop to make. My aunt is able to live in her home because of the efforts of two wonderful volunteers who do her shopping. It was a great pleasure to stop and spend a few moments with them. Special people doing special things for a special person. It's things like this that our country so special.
Arriving in Columbia we stopped to take Bob's picture in front of what is known as the log house. It had been built in the early 1800, around the same time Bob's 4th great grandfather built is log house about a mile down the same road. It was an opportunity to glimpse into the past.
The land on all for corners of this bridge was owned by Bob's 4th great grandfather when he died in in 1816.
Then it was off to Lisbon and the Courthose and a day of digging into the past. It is one of those old courthouses that date to the 1800's. The grandest building in the town.
Think of it as frozen in time. Just look at the restroom down in the basement next to the Sheriffs Dept.
We ended the day researching in the tomn library. a genuine Carnegie Library.
Besides all these wonderful buildings, the oldest brick building in the State of Ohio is still standing in town. Trust me, it is a mere shadow of its former self.
Just in case anyone wonders, here is an excerpt from one of the records we were researching. Yes it is as hard to read as it appears.
June 14 A day for the past and the present. We spent the entire day visiting with my aunt, talking about the past and going through an old photo album. As I looked through the pages it became more and more apparent that the second world war was the defining event in my parents generations life. Everyone was affected. Everyone in my dads family was either in the military or worked in a plant turning out items for the military, most of them working at he local arsenal handling munitions. As a little boy I remember them talking about the storage bunkers blowing up every once in a while. Fortunately none of the was ever involved. I will let the following two photo's speak for themselves.
Returning to the coach we were confronted with a scene far different than the one my relatives saw as the travel back and forth to their work for the war effort. Life is good. And I thank them for fighting and sacrificing to give me the opportunity to live it.
June 13 This day can be summed up with one word: courthouse. We spent the entire day in Lisbon at the courthouse. Well maybe not the entire day, we did take a break and tour the historical society museums. We are always amazed by what is available at the small town museums across America. Plus the people who are there are usually long time residents who are familiar with everything in the collection.
During our tour we found out that Lisbon was where the soda straw was invented by H W Morrow. Of course everything is long gone, but the memory lives on. And memories are about all this little town has. The land where the manufacturing plants were once located is either weed filled or a vacant falling down building. It is terrible seeing the destruction of the American manufacturing industry. It was what gave life to the small towns, but now it is going, going, gone. The politicians don't care, they only want to get re-elected and put money their and their big time contributors pockets, but of course they will blame it on something else.
The older records in the Probate department are house down in a basement room. Her is Linda descending the narrow stairway.
The room is filled with volumes holding the history of the county. It takes time to learn where everything is at, then even longer to find it.
June 12 Could you believe a day spent doing nothing but visiting cemeteries. If you have ever been immersed into the depths of family history you could believe it. My Aunt is a wonderful store house of knowledge about our family. We spent the day tapping into it. Finding who is buried where is not always the easiest thing. After today I have a much better idea. In addition we also got flowers planted on my grandparents and great grandparents graves, plus we were able to take my Aunt to the monument company and help her make arrangements for her marker.
Then to top off the day we stopped at a Bob Evans Farms Restaurant, where I was able to enjoy what is without a doubt, the finest adult beverage on the face of the earth. A large bowl of Bob Evans Sausage gravy. Think of every commercial jingle for an adult beverage you have ever heard, this gravy has that and more. How it works is like this. You order a bowl of Bob Evans Sausage gravy. They serve it on two dishes. One plate comes with two gigantic buttermilk biscuits and pile of home fries. The second dish is a bowl filled with that mouth watering, lip smacking good gravy. They expect you to douse the fries in catsup and ladle the gravy over the biscuits. What you do, is pull an end run. You eat the fries whichever way you prefer, then eat one half of one of the biscuits. Now you take the ladle and instead of putting the gravy over the remaining biscuits, you eat it straight from the bowl. There will be so much gravy , you can not eat all of it. To get your second wind, eat some more biscuit, them go back to the bowl of gravy. In this manner eat all of the gravy. I like to end up leaving a couple of spoonfuls of gravy in the bowl so that when I am done with the last of the biscuits, I finish up with gravy. If there is something out there at a restaurant which is better than this, I don't have a clue as to what it might be.
June 11 Another opportunity to meet people from my past. It was Sunday morning, so drove out to the church I had grow up attending. It had been 40 years and there were only a few people who I remembered. The organist who played when I was a boy was there as well as the new organist who was my favorite girl in high school. The church and people looked different, but yet little had changed in all those years.
Returning from church we ate lunch and then drove out in the country in search of links with the past. Our travels took us near the site of Confederate Morgan's surrender, an event that has some very tenuous family connections.
Later we watched a glorious sunset, the kind my great grandfather must have seen from his house just down the road.
June 10 Today will be another day of remembering the past. As a boy, I can remember that special weekend in late May when we would go to the cemetery and plant flowers. It was something we did every year without fail. Last month on Memorial day Linda and I went to cemeteries in the country when she was raised and her ancestors lived. Today we will go to the cemeteries wher my ancestors are buried and we will decorate the graves. as a boy, I remember my Dad telling me that the day was called Decoration Day, not Memorial Day. It was because that is what my great grandmother called it. Born in 1875, she had grown up at a time when when the decorating of the graves of the sons, brothers, fathers and uncles who had fallen during the Civil War was a common thing to do. I'm sure that as a little girl she accompanied her mother to commemorate the grave of her uncle who had died in the war. So to her it was Decoration Day which was transferred across the generations to her great grandson, me, who to this day refers to it as Decoration Day, The day you go and decorate the graves of your ancestors. Likewise, I too celebrate Memorial day, when we visit the cemetery to pay homage to those who are no longer with us. Two days, each with its own purpose, celebrated sometimes on the same day, other times on diifferent days, but still, from generation unto generation.
We drive over to my aunt's and together we do what our family has done for over a hundred years, drive to the cemetery and plant flowers on the graves of our ancestors. Our fist stop was at the grave of a person Linda would like to talk to if the dead could come back. My great grandmother who carried a family secret to the grave. Questions whose answers can be guessed at, but never answered with absolute certainty. Then, leaving the town behind, it was out into the country where my father and brother are buried. For almost 35 years my mother dug and refreshed this soil every spring and lovingly tended the flowers during the summer. It has been 5 years since she was last able to do this. Grass had grown thickly over the soil in front of the stone. Yet it willingly yielded to my efforts with our small shovel. The rich black dirt readily crumbling, reflecting the labor of love my mother poured out on it for all those years. This so much more than just planting a few flowers, it was atime to remember and a time to mourn. Mourn the dead, my brother and father, yet also mourn for the living dead, my mother, who sits a chair each day with no memory of the past, her brain ravaged by horrors of Alzheimers. What future awaits each of us?
Next we journey to the city, to the huge cemetery that covered acres and acres. The cemetery where my aunt's grandparents and my great grandparents from her mothers side of the family were buried. In the same cemetery were her parents, my grandparents and her husband, my beloved "Uncle Nick". Memories, pleasant memories made task of planting flowers, not a job, but rather, a joy. Finished at the cemeteries, we drove back to the campground where our coach was parked. It was so much fun showing my aunt our house. Letting her see how we live. sharing the fragements that make up our daily lives with her. She doesn't have a computer, doesn't have the internet and it was fun showing her how this things are an intregal part of our life. It was amazing to watch her climb the five steps to the coach and see her face burst out in that glorious smile I've loved for over 55 years. Life is made up of wonderful little bits and pieces. This was truly one of them. At 88 years of age she may not have the physical ability she had years ago but her mind was the mind of a young girl. I chuckled to myself thinking that between her mind and my mothers body you would have a person half the age that either one of them was. The difference between them was my aunt knows her body is failing her, while my mother has no clue her mind has quit functioning.
After we had taken my aunt back home, I did something that made me unbelievably happy. It was an itch that I had needed to scratch for a number of years but couldn't. Though it had come about only a few years ago, it had it's roots in my childhood. Growing in a house that was heated by a coal furnace and a fireplace, cutting wood was not something we did for exercise, it was something we did to heat the house during the winter. Some of my earliest memories of life are of my dad and his uncle (my "unkie") cutting wood. Each with one end of a crosscut saw in their hands, it moved back and forth, the wood chips flowing out with every stroke. I rememder the pile of chips (It sure wasn't dust) that would pile up on each side and how when they would take a break, I would play with those chips. When I got older, they would let me work one end on occasion. Then Unkie died and I pulled and tried to push one end while dad pulled and pushed the other until he got the chain saw. The old saw was put up, but the memories remained. I remember dad talking about how the saw was "grandpa's", not my grandpa, but rather dad's grandpa. Time passed and dad died. More time passed and mom had her stroke. Finally the house was put up for sale, the family things moved out, other things sold or auctioned off and the house sold. It was only after all this had taken place, that I realized one important piece of family history had not made it to California. Dad had safely kept the old saw up in the rafters in the basement and somehow or other in the rush to get everything done, I had overlooked it. Ocassionally something would re-ignite my memory of that old saw, but it was beyond my reach.
After we had dropped my aunt off, I drove to the old cemetery north of town where two sets of both my great great and great great great grandparents are buried, there are also one set of my four great grandparents there. My roots to that place go back a long, long way. Mom and dad's old house was only a short distance away so I headed up the road. Linda asked where we were going and I said, past the old house. She asked if I was going to stop and ask about the saw. This was something that had also been on my mind, but I had decided that it was gone and I needed to let go, so I said, no, " just wanted to drive past the house. It was not meant to be that way however. As we drove up the street, I saw someone working in the front yard. Something turned the steering wheel and I found us driving up the driveway. To make a long story short, Ken and Tracy, who had bought the house, were the two nicest people you would ever want to meet. It turned out they had discovered the old saw and had put it up for sale at a yard sale. But it just wasn't meant to be sold and when the sale was over it was put back up in the rafters. However it is no longer there, instead it is riding in the bay of our coach, providing another chapter in the history of that old saw. We spent time touring the house and answering questions,. Unfotunately we were unable to meet their daughter, Alivia, who was at a party, but it was obvious that she was a very lucky girl to have such wonderful parents, though from Ken and Tracy's comments, they were also extremely blessed to have a daughter as neat as Alivia. As for myself, there were few times in my life that I was happier than when Ken handed me that old saw. I was the one who was truly blest.
June 9 Today was the day for family. While we planned to spend the day with my Aunt, there is one stop to be made first. I needed to stop and see the grave of my Dad and Brother. The cemetery in this small crossroads community is filled with names that I recognize. The fathers and mothers of the kids I went to school with. Others were the people you knew from church or the grange or the local store. And then bringing the reality of life and death home, the occasional schoolmate. The rest of the day was spent visiting with my aunt. We spent a lot of time talking about our family, grandparents and others. All the while a tape recorder ran, taking down a record so that future generations would have those little things that make names on a tombstone come alive. The story of my great grandfather's penchant to call the milk from Holstein cows, blue milk (he only raised Jersey's, real milk cows as he called them), or how one of my great grandmother's, a widow in her late 20's took in laundry to have enough money to feed her two young boys. We had a delicious supper of ham and sweet potatoes and then there was more visiting into the evening. Finally realizing that since she was 88 years old and needed her rest, we didn't want to wear her out on our first day there, so we bid our leave and returned to the coach. It was indeed a special day.
June 8 It is time to move on today. There is only so much time that we have to spend everywhere we go and choices have to be made. So even though there is much more to uncover, you could call it digging up dead relatives, we must leave Carroll County behind. As we were getting ready to leave, the campground owner drove up. She and Linda had talked several times before, so Linda went out to see what she wanted. There ensued a conversation that went on for well over a hour. I finished my tasks, went over the checklist and got the computer back out. A long time later Linda came back into the coach. Turns out the owner had several things she wanted to talk about. One, she was a Christian Scientist and wanted to share her religion, second, they had had a bad experience with work campers and that was why she had mentioned they weren't interested in work camper when it came up in casual conversation the day we checked in. Now that she and her husband had talked to us some more, she thought we would be great work campers. Thus she had said if wanted to come back after heading up north we could work whenever it fit our schedule. She had learned something, but it was to late. We would not be coming back, but if you're work camper looking for a job in Ohio I'm sure there is one available at A1 Twin Valley RV Park (no website) outside of Carrollton. Or if you are going to be in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Mountain Stream RV Park is another place to check out for work camping. Ron and Becky are great people and we had a wonderful experience there. It didn't take us long to finish with the preparations for leaving and within 30 minutes we were on the road, heading back to where I grew up.
I simply can't say it any better than that.
Since we needed diesel in a big way, we stopped at a station up the road. Now we had scouted this station not once, but twice. We had driven into the station and turned around with the Explorer so that we would have no problems when it came time for the real thing. While not tight, it is not wide and the biggest problem was the turn around on the narrow road just past the station.. It was dirt and had a large mud hole at one entrance. What was easy in just the Explorer proved to be far more difficult with the coach and Explorer. The turning radius was such that it was impossible to miss the mud hole, resulting in a major rocking of the coach. Then the price was higher, $2.99 a gallon. for diesel. When it isn't going your way, it usually tends to get worse before it gets better. To top it off, the pump wouldn't give a receipt, so Linda had to walk all the way up to the store to get one. It's not my rule, it's hers that we always have a receipt, smile. At last we were on our way to our next stop, one I knew very, very well. What was now a day use area and campground, had been a gravel parking lot 45 years ago when the quarter mile distance around the parking area served as a training area for our high school track team. Having been a quarter miler on the track team I knew the spot only too well.
We followed country roads and county roads, arriving at last at the campground, which was situated on the banks of Berlin Reservoir, about a half mile up the road from the farm my great grandfather owned in the late 1800's. Those county roads had brought me home, home to the place I belong. Just as the hills of the Southeastern Ohio Appalachian country called to Linda, so do the farm fields and woods of Mahoning County call to me. As if to call out a greeting, a flock of geese crossed the road in front of us, enjoying the shore of the lake and giving us a glimpse of what our next few days would be like.
We drove around the campground, trying to find a site that had a clear view of the southern sky. We were finding out that campgrounds in the east are built in the middle of the woods. Oh, for the wide open spaces of the west, lol. We never did find a site that would allow us to get on line. But decided to make the best of it for the up coming weekend. We found a site that was level and set up. It didn't take long for Linda to note that at least the people in the campgrounds down where she came from could at least read. Wondering what caused her to make that statement I looked out the window as saw an obvious local, at least from his mode of dress, washing his dishes at the nearby water faucet which had a large sign stating, positively no dish washing. I told Linda it was a simple case of working to many years in a steel mill, lol. Sure the steelworkers union demanded and won huge wage and vacation labor pacts, and sure the mills are all gone now, but I'd stack the work of a steel worker and a coal miner up against any other job any day. Those are the dirtiest, most dangerous jobs in the world and they deserve every penny they can wring out of the companies they work for. The people who feel they are overpaid should be made to work in a mill or mine for a few years. talk about someone changing their tune. Enough of the soapbox for today. To talk that way, I must be home, lol.
June 7 Three guesses as to what we are going to one, have for breakfast and two, do this morning. If you didn't guess the same as yesterday, shame on you, lol. The oatmeal has actually been better than usual since we started adding the steel cut oats to it. I really like the nutty flavor it seems to add. I laugh when they talk about cooking the steel cut oats for these long lengths of time. I suspect it has something to do with making them as soft as cooked oatmeal. Neither Linda nor I like oatmeal mush, heck, you're dealing with two people here who love to just pick up a handful of groats and eat them just like that. If you've never tried them, you might be in for a taste treat. Then on the other hand, they might also be totally foreign to your way of eating. Maybe it's just a farm kid, city kid thing, lol. There is one very special thing about this campground that keeps haunting me, the office building. It is not just an office building in the normal sense of the word. It is the building in which the office is located. It started life in 1832 and is the original cabin built on this site. Talk about a looking glass into the past, this was the same time period my ancestors were arriving in this county. Some a few years earlier, some a few years later, but just around this time. I was looking at what their cabins would have looked like, I was looking at my history. I didn't need to close my eyes and visualize, I could open my eyes and see. I simply can not convey the emotions this gave rise to. If you've ever experienced something like this, then you know. If you haven't, I hope that some day you can.Said the old man to the little boy, "Do you see what I see?
Off to once again visit the Genealogical Library, we arrived at our now usual five minutes after opening, only to find the door locked. It was at that moment that a car pulled to a stop in front building and a somewhat disorganized woman got out of, or at least tried to get out of, the car. Once she got her seatbelt unfastened it was much easier to get out, lol. She said something about being sorry for being late as she hurried around the car to the parking meter (we had parked in the next block down, where there are no meters) only to immediately reverse her course and get some change out of her purse, which she had left on the car seat. Finally regaining her composure, she gathered what appeared to be about as files and papers as her arms could carry and came up the walk, all the time profusely apologizing about being late. As she fumbled for her keys, she commented that she hoped we wouldn't tell the Director about her being late. We told her not to worry, as she went on about how the Director is very strict about opening on time. We look at it that this way, these people are volunteers who do a great job. We're just glad that they have this facility that can house the old records and have people willing to volunteer their time to help others.
Deeply engrossed in old court records, I came across a series of court actions that brought to light the character of one of my great great great grandfathers. Seems that in the mid 1850's a railroad, rather than legally secure the right of way, just went ahead and built their tracks through several parcels of land that belonged to my g-g-g grandfather. Bad move. Fifteen years and untold legal actions later, the railroad was required to not only pay for the damage they had done to the crops, they were also required to return the right of way to my g-g-g grandfather and move their tracks. And this was only one of a myriad of legal actions he was involved in, either as a plaintiff or defendant. There was no way I could record all of them, but just think of all the fun I'll have on our next trip back to Ohio, lol.
We had something very special planned for this afternoon. As a small boy I had many special people in my life, but for two people there was an extra special spot. Today we were going to visit them. It had been almost eight years since I had last been to see them and I was looking forward to being with them once again. Having been there a number of times, we drove right to the East Sparta cemetery and soon were standing in font of their graves. Bobby had come back to once again visit Aunt Fern and Unky. The daylily we had planted the last time we were here had not only survived, it had thrived. I had learned about flowers at the side of Aunt Fern, going with her every spring up to the Boyer sisters farm to get sheep manure in bushel baskets that we brought back in the trunk of her old brown Pontiac. Then spending hours spading it into the soil prior to planting seeds. Whether it was perennials or annuals, Aunt Fern understood flowers and she passed as much as she could on to me. I was glad the daylily was growing so well, I knew she would be proud of me. Just as we had done before at other cemeteries, we once again got out our chairs and picnic lunch and spent some enjoyable moments remembering the past. (As a personal aside, Aunt Fern and Unky, who were my Dad's anunt and uncle, never had children of there own. My grandmothers had died before I was born, so Aunt Fern was the only "grandma" I ever knew, and it was only later that I realized they treated me just as if I were ther grandson.)
Next it was down the road to see the town of Zoar and the nearby Ohio and Erie Canal. Zoar also has some special memories for me. Zoar was a communal settlement that was disbanded in the late 1800's. The cradle I slept in as a little boy whenever I stayed at Aunt Fern and Unky's, which was quite often, had come from Zoar. They eventually donated it back to the museum and it is on display in Number One house. I didn't take a photo of the cradle, after all I know what it looks like, having slept in it so often and besides that, I have photo's of it from before, somewhere, smile. I will take a picture the next time we are back here, promise One of my prized possessions is a painting of the Hermitage at Zoar which hung on Aunt Fern and Unky's wall. It shows a little vine and flower covered cottage, a place that conveys tranquility and peace, a place that truly fits in with the life of the separatists who founded Zoar. As you can see from the photo of the Hermitage as it looks today, which is as the office of a design company, that feeling the painting exudes is no longer present. Before the railroads, there were the canals. So our next adventure was to walk a section of the old towpath of the Ohio and Erie Canal. True to its name, it ran from Lake Erie to the Ohio River very near Zoar. As we've driven around the past few days, I would remark, every once in a while, there's a canal, over there is a canal. To say Linda was skeptical would be an understatement. As we walked along the towpath I heard her comment, this is just like the places you were pointing out as we were driving. Things like that are what I love about this woman. I know it won't be long until she is pointing out remnants of canals to me, lol.
As we continued to walk, we noticed the profusion of water plants growing in the old canal bottom. These were very much like the ones that grew in our backyard pond. The difference is that these are intermixed in only the way they would be in nature. The photo below simply does not do them justice.
As a young boy I can remember my father taking me on a drive along one of the many segments of canal that still existed and pointing out the canal walls, the towpaths, the locks, the site where tunnels had been and the lakes that supplied the water for the locks. In a way I was passing the same information on to my wife of nearly forty years. Suddenly around a bend was a lock. It demanded that pictures be taken. I'm sure my ancestors came to Zoar to transact business, maybe they stood at the same spot I now did, watching a canal boat travel through this very same lock. To uncover the link with the past. To experience the connection of being human. The joy of life. The spirit of individuality. The adventure goes on and on.
June 6 Ruby Tuesday.
Ever dig into your family history? Search for that elusive relative that you are so tantalizingly close to finding, but who stays just out of reach? Well, guess what, we get to do more of it today, smile. Just as we don't know who truly wrote Ruby Tuesday, Mick, Brian or Keith, so are some of the tidbits we uncover about our ancestors, bound to also remain unknown. Somethings we will just never know for sure.
To give you a glimpse of life on the inside, here is the view we currently see to the outside. The buildings are where the equipment is kept, so there is some traffic up and down the little road in front of the coach. The amount of grass there is to mow is unbelievable and they do it all with either a regular riding mower or hand mowers. From what I've seen the backhoe is the only tractor here, but what they need is one of those large mowers that mount behind a farm tractor. We laugh, because this place just begs to have work campers to do the mowing. If we were planning on staying a while, we might bring it up, but that's not the case, smile.
Just as we did yesterday morning, we also spent this morning with our heads down, studying records from years gone by. But in the afternoon we did something different. We visited cemeteries. It means something to me to gaze down on the stone that marks the final resting spot of my great great great grandmother who raised her eight children all by herself. I am here only because she had the determination to raise those kids and set the right example for them. How can I possibly not be moved as I stand before that simple piece of granite. To learn the link with the past. To experience the connection of being human. The joy of life. The spirit of individuality. The adventure goes on and on.
It was late February when we spent a Sunday afternoon in a National Military Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia and stood before the grave of my great great uncle who, having died during the Civil War in the Atlanta campaign, was never returned to his home in Ohio, but rather lies buried in the south. Now, standing in the little cemetery in Ohio where his mother is buried , one can see the sacrifice he and others made was not overlooked. Up near the front of this cemetery stands a monument. One that is quite obviously well taken care off. Ringed with flags and freshly planted flowers, probably not to unlike it would have been in the 1800's when it was first erected. It's purpose was to honor the men and boys from Carroll County who went off to war and never returned from the south. The name I saw on that simple white stone in the cemetery in Marietta is also written on this monument.
Later it was more computer time. The lure of the new genealogy program is just too powerful a lure to resist. And though it is just a trial version, I think there is a purchase looming in the near future. Just look at the photo which shows that I have taken time to eat but Linda can't be bothered with things like that. There are dead relatives to learn about, lol.
June 5 This morning dawned bright and sunny, almost as if it knew we would be inside for most of the day, smile. Breakfast was out usual, oatmeal and strawberries, but it wasn't the food that was energizing me for the day, it was the prospect of research, of uncovering unknown facts about those who lived before us. The Carroll County Genealogy Library opened at 9 o'clock. We were there at 5 minutes after the hour and the search commenced moments later. The old records from the courthouse are located here. Since my relatives had been in Carroll county even before it was formed, the old records were the ones we needed to look at. Suffice it to say that we were both buried up to our eyeballs in records, trying to sort out what was beneficial, from what was superfluous. Hour after hour we read, compared and copied, till it seemed like our eyes would pop out and our heads would burst. The photo of me says it all. The look on my face with the deer in the headlights look is truly how it was, lol. Even a mind as magnificent as mine can handle only so much information at once. Of course Linda would probably state it a different way, smile.
Returning to the coach, we had our usual turkey wraps for lunch. It was while we were eating that we noticed the robin was still making repeated trips between the mud and the coach. It didn't take us long to discover what it had been up to. I don't quite know how to say this, so I will show you.
What do you make of this? Why would a bird build twin nests? I did an internet search and couldn't come up with any references to a double nest built by a single bird. Confused or forerunner of the sexual revolution in the avian species where the two eggs will be laid, one in each nest and both the female and the male will sit on the nest at the same time? Maybe the beginnings of next step in the evolution of birds. Maybe a robin that flew one to many times into a brick wall. Who knows and does it matter? Sort of like, if the tree falls in the forest when no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound? But in this case if a person who knows nothing about birds happens across something very unique but doesn't realize it, is it unique?
For dinner we ate out at the Sizzler, the same Sizzler that had the ribs at the rib burn that we thought were simply divine. The sign at the rib burn said they had all you can eat pork chops on Monday, so here we were. Suffice it say we totally loused everything up by the way we ordered, though we both agreed we had one of the best New York Strip Steaks we've ever eaten. Yeah, I know, but even I can't explain how our pork chops ended up being a steak. The problem was with us who orderednot the waitress nor the kitchen. The highlight of the meal turned out to be the dessert tray. It was all you could eat and we both, quite literally, made pigs of ourselves. Linda really surprised me, going back for seconds and then thirds, which was only one fewer time than I did, lol. For one of the few times during our adventure, we skipped dessert after we returned to the coach. I don't believe either one of us could have eaten any even if we wanted. But the best thing at the Sizzler was not what was in the restaurant, it was what was in the parking lot. This car was so full of bread, the back bumper was almost touching the ground. You just never know what your going to find when you start traveling around the country, lol.
June 4 The day after the pig out, I mean the pig roast, I mean the rib burn. What ever it was, we ate too much. During the night the rain returned and as we awoke this morning a light drizzle continued to fall. It is Sunday morning and so we will make a guess today. That I had ancestors in this area, there can be no doubt. Furthermore we know they were Presbyterian. The question for today is which Presbyterian church to attend this morning. There was a Presbyterian church in Augusta, as well as a Christian Church that has the graveyard where a number of my ancestors are buried, and just to make things even more interesting, there is the Scroggsfield Presbyterian church which was founded by my great great great grandfathers brother. So which one do we attend. I finally picked the Scroggsfield church giving equal weight to the fact it was the closet one to where we were staying, its service was a little later and finally, the fact that there was an excellent chance my ancestors had certainly attended there at one time or another. As is often the case, it had an aging congregation that worshiped in a beautiful old church building. Built in the 1880's to replace an earlier building that had burned, my ancestors were dead before it had been built, still they very well could have worship in the very fist of the Scroggsfield churches. But the answer will have to await some later visit to the area.
Since rain was the order of the day, we decided to spend the remainder of Sunday catching up on things. I worked on the computer and as I did, something caught my eye. A robin was repeatedly flying up near the front of the coach. After a while it became apparent there was a nest being built somewhere. It would fly off into the grass and come back with a mouthful of dead grass. After several trips to the grass it would fly over to the road that ran in front of the coach, picking up what looked like mud and pieces of grass. This was repeated over and over. Finally we went outside to see what was going on. The robin was building a nest on the top of the tire. Talk about being mixed up, this was one badly confused robin. We decided to leave the nest alone for the time being to see what the robin would do.
The investigation of the misguided bird caused other problems. We had muddy shoes, which became wet shoes, which then became drying shoes. See, there is nothing different from living in a 9'x 38' than living in a regular house. Your feet get wet you dry your shoes, our feet get wet, we dry our shoes. We just never know what state we might be in when our shoes get wet, lol.
Linda, being the Appalachian country girl she is, finds herself recalling her childhood. No shoes, no problem. Raining outside, no problem. Do what comes natural, wash the car. Isn't that what anyone would do, lol.
Later the sun came out and and the rain stopped. We emerged from our home and took a walk, exploring the campground. This is one of the many pretty flowers we found.
Much, much later, after a dinner of Bob Even's sausage patties, gotta have the good stuff occasionally, lol, we had brownies and chocolate ice cream for dessert. Connections, fun and food, life is what you make it.
June 3 Since we are returning to the land of my roots so to speak, I thought I would fix something from the past for breakfast today. Not the distant past, just the past, back when oatmeal wasn't the every morning food. Today I'm going to fix huckleberry scones. We'd brought along some frozen Huckleberries that we'd picked last fall in Oregon and it's time to use some of them. Being the creature of habit that I am, there was a time I knew the recipe by heart. This morning I had to look at it. Nonetheless, they turned out great, as I had not lost my touch for knowing by feel when the dough was just right. Some of the frozen berries tend to crush when they are added to the dough, but all that does is give the scones a purple cast. Served with some eggs, scrambled with onion, garlic and cheese to liven things up, it made for a great change of pace. As a side note, this was the first time we had used the new Teflon baking sheets Linda had bought at the cooking class she attended at the Holiday Rambler Rally. In the past I have always baked the scones on a cookie sheet that was sprayed with canola oil. This time we used the Teflon sheet set on the short rack as was demonstrated in her class. It worked perfect and cleanup took only a wipe. One caution, if you use a Teflon sheet don't try to cut the scones on it. No it's not what you're thinking. I did not use a sharp knife and cut through the sheet. I had used a table knife to score the dough before baking it, but that still left some marks on the sheet. Suffice it to say that Linda somewhat tersely explained the way you use the Teflon sheets after this small incident. (She would probably use different terms to describe what took place, lol.)
Since this was a Saturday, we couldn't go to the Courthouse to search records, but we could go into town and look around. As we had entered Carrollton yesterday, we had noticed two signs. One gave the location and hours for the weekly farmers market on Saturday, while the other announced that the annual "rib burn off" was being held today at the airport. We headed into town to check them out. The farmers market proved to be a bust for us. We were looking for local fresh picked strawberries. Unfortunately so was everyone who lived in the area. By the time we got there, they were all sold out. Linda was standing in line when the last basket was sold. On the other hand, if you needed plants for your garden, they were there in abundance. Since the lifestyle we live is not particularly conducive to large scale gardening, lol, we had to pass, but the local people sure were buying them.
Heading back towards the center of town we saw the sign for the rib burn, which was being held from 1 to 8 today. Linda wasn't going to have to worry about what was for supper tonight, smile. Right in the center of town, facing the town square was the Courthouse. Built in 1885, it presented a stately elegance that spoke of another time and place. The past was once again starting to draw me in.
Also on the square was the McCook House. Home of one of the earliest pioneers in Carroll County, its fame is derived from being the home of the "Fighting McCooks", two brothers and their 15 sons whose military exploits read more like a novel than fact. Of the 17, 16 served in the Union Army during the Civil War, 6 of them rising to the rank of General. The only one not to serve during the Civil War had died while serving in the US Navy prior to the war. This is one of those little known gems that you sometimes stumble across. We took a guided tour of the house and the near encyclopedia like knowledge of the guide was amazing. Here is one of the links to the McCooks. We were glad we had stopped.
That this is an old town goes without saying. Across the street, next to the McCook Hose stood one of those silent reminders of the past. Three stories tall, built in 1895, and with only a mere hint of it's former glory and grandeur remaining. Seemly defaced by the "for rent" signs in its two remaining upper front windows and by a large sign proclaiming its last use as the "Village Bargain Outlet", its asymmetric beauty still lurked under a peeling, faded coat of white paint.
Its front entrance littered with bits of leaves, grass and dirt that couldn't hide the letters that once so proudly proclaimed its position as the building that housed something far grander than the village bargain outlet. Just as now, there are no more Montgomery Wards stores left, but only buildings either already converted to other uses, wasting away or torn down, so will it be some day for Wal Mart, MacDonald's and all the rest. Someday our descendants will be looking on the decaying remains of these commercial giants of our day wondering what it must have been like in their heyday.
Our next stop was at the Carroll County Genealogical Library, just a few blocks away. The library turned out to be open and we spent some time browsing their holdings to see what avenues of research we could work on next week. It promises to be a lot of fun and also work. Next we drove off to find some of the cemeteries where my ancestors were buried. Whereas the search for Linda's ancestors had encompassed both sides of her family, mine would be mostly on my dads side as they had been in this country since the 1700's, while my mom's side had come to America just a few decades before 1900. Of course we looked for the most difficult one first. Many years ago I had been there and remembered approximately where it was. To those of you who are used to going to a nice neat cemetery where everyone is in nice orderly rows, let me assure you this cemetery was the exact opposite. Located somewhere in woods off a gravel road out in the country, we traveled in circles a few times before I finally felt we were close. There followed a good deal of tramping around in the woods, driving the Explorer down the road and repeating the process, all the while, shoes, socks and pants totally soaked from the wet vegetation. Suddenly I noticed I was standing in some myrtle that covered a good area of the woods and at the same time Linda called out that she had found a rose. Looking further down the hill I could see the tops of some stones peeking up through the wild growth that covered the ground. We had found it. Below is the faded, almost illegible stone of my great great grandmother and lying next to it on the ground that of my great great grandfather. Made it all worth it. After this it got much easier as we visited cemeteries that were still in use.
Lest you think this all we ever do, we ended up the day by attending the rib burn at the Carrollton airport. Talk about fun, we had only planned to go and eat, then return to the coach and relax. Didn't turn out that way. We weren't sure what to expect as we turned onto the street that led to the airport. There was a long line of cars coming out the road and very few going in. We thought the boiling black storm clouds we had seen in the direction of Carrollton when we were looking for the cemeteries might have had something to do with it. With all the people leaving, it made for lots of parking spaces close to the action, or so we thought. This proved to be an erroneous assumption on our part, but the walk, both going and later returning, did us good, smile. Following the crowd of people who looked like they knew where they were going, we soon arrived at the scene of the action. We were surprised at the number of people that were here. There were tents complete with tables and chairs to eat under and I immediately saw something that told me all was right in the world, plus the food was going to be fantastic. If the smile on this little girls face doesn't say it all, then nothing does, lol. All around, there were people using their own individual techniques to pick up and eat their ribs.
The pig pits were lined up around the eating tent, the only problem, to use what I think is an aviation term, they weren't on the tarmac. Which meant they were on the grass. Which meant the rain had completely soaked the entire area. Which meant that all the people walking around had churned it into a sea of mud.
Now came the most difficult task of the day, selecting which booth to buy our ribs at. Remembering a comment by the lady at the campground about the Sizzler not being your normal Sizzler, we intently studied the Sizzler booth's offerings, listened to the comments of the people who where buying their food there and made our decision. It would be a half rack of Sizzler ribs, a pork sandwich and a cup of cole slaw. Talk about good, talk about just the right amount of zing and pop in the sauce, talk about juicy tender meat that just barely hung on to the bone, this was the best bar-b-que we had ever eaten. Just look at the happy customer below if you don't believe me. By the way, two minutes after this picture was taken, her face made the little girl's face in the photo above look clean by comparison, the only problem was my hands were so slathered in bar-b-que sauce I couldn't take a picture, lol.
Besides the food they had a group of trick motorcycle riders put on a show. It was a definite "and a good time was had by all" show.
Afterwards we made the rounds of the stands once again, trying at anothe booth, a half rack, pork sandwich, and in a switch, a piece of rhubarb pie, the real Ohio kind, not the half a$$ed California rhubarb crap pie that has strawberries added to the filling. No sir, this was the genuine twist your face up Ohio pie, man pie, not California girlie pie to borrow a line from Arnie. Yes, you are right, I have very, very strong opinions as to what constitutes a rhubarb pie. But since it was a nightly food when rhubarb was in season during the time I was growing up, I think I speak with some authority on the subject. In fact, it was a twice nightly event as we always had a piece after supper, then another prior to going to bed, smile. The meat was a different story, not good at all. Deciding that we needed another rack of ribs to truly judge who had the best bar-b-que, we went for some from a booth that had first place trophy's from several previous years proudly displayed. Once again we were disappointed, those first ribs from the Sizzler had stolen our taste buds. We had held one food back in reserve till we were done eating ribs, so now we approached the deep fried strawberry booth. It was to be our treat, not one we would want more than once a year, but something that was really good and were glad we ate the whole container, lol.
They were announcing the awards by the time we finished of the last strawberry, so we wandered up to hear the results. They had the requisite Daisy Mae, young ladies announcing and handing out the awards. The Sizzler got the award for best sauce, but the best ribs went to the Day's Inn. We decided it had more to do with cleavage than taste, lol.
All this was followed by the talent show, where people sure got to show their various lack of talent as the photo's below show. We didn't stay around to find out who won, or maybe we should say who was the least of the worst. They may not know how to make make rhubarb pie in California, but at least they know how to sing, lol.
We ended the day with no dessert, being too stuffed to hold any more food. Our take on the rib-burn: we'd go again in a heartbeat, life doesn't get any better than this.
June 2 Our last day in Albany. We've stayed two days longer than we had originally planned and still haven't done everything we want. We could stay for a month and still have things to do, so we will just move on today. However, it's not like we are up early and driving onward. We are up early, but it is to spend another pleasant morning with the devotees of local history at the Albany Dairy Queen. This morning "two wheel Wilbur" was ready for Linda. He had several files of information on possible ancestors to show her. Talk about hyperactive, here's a man, obviously in his 80's, who'd make the energizer bunny look like it was standing still, lol. I had to laugh as he showed paper after paper to Linda, all the while delivering a running commentary about the information and possible connections to her family in machine gun like fashion, lol.The accompanying photo pretty much says it all. Wilbur standing there, mouth open as words tumble out so fast your mind can barely keep up with the flow. Then there is Linda. A mass of Wilbur's papers in front of her, a puzzled look on her face, hand scratching her head as if trying to clear her brain of the fog that is enveloping it. Linda's newly found distant cousin, Virgil, looking at what is happening with a you've got to be kidding me look. I'm usually pretty good following this ancestor stuff and Wilbur had me so confused I was beginning to wonder whether Linda was who she claimed to be, lol. Life just doesn't get any better than this.
While all this was going on, I was engaged in a wonderful conversation with a person that lived the life I dreamed about when I was young. A man that started out getting a degree in History and teaching high school, but learned after a few years that only occasionally will a high school student care in the least about History. (I can, oh so vividly, recall my days in high school History class when I couldn't fathom why everyone in class was so bored when I thought History was the most fascinating subject we took, smile.) After a few few years he went back to school and got his Masters, followed a little later by his PhD. His Masters Degree was on local history and his PhD on Urban History. I was totally captivated as he told me the details of how all this had happened. Later he had combined his love for country music and History to write a number of books on the History of Country Music, all the while teaching History at a small College. He has lived my dream life.
We laughed together as I told him he had lived the life I had dreamed about and he related that, but for a problem with math, he would have gotten a degree in the sciences like I did, because History doesn't pay, but the sciences do. Isn't it amazing that the person we envy may, in actuality, be envying us. This really got me to thinking about what we were doing. There was no life long plan to get us to where we are today, in some ways it just happened, in other ways things came together. It was almost as if my life had evolved in just a way that resulted in our being where we are today. It was only a few days ago I said that I would live my life differently if I had it to do over again and here this morning in an Appalachian Dairy Queen I was being confronted with the enormity of the impact of such a choice. Nothing is ever black and white, but rather a million shades of gray. What is it, are the events that make up our lives just coincidence and blind luck, or do they happen for a reason?
Our time in Albany was rapidly drawing to a close, but we had one last important task to complete before we headed north. Last week we had visited the site of Linda's great great grandfather's store in Albany with her sister Katherine and her brother Charles. Charles told us about crawling under the store when he was a little boy. He showed us where the store was located and I had written about it on May 25th. But the past few days had provided incontrovertible facts that store had not been located where Charles had said it had been. We needed to go back into Albany and take photo's of the actual store site. Comparing the site to the photo's of the store and the information the life long residents of the town had provided us, we determined where the store had most likely stood. Imagine our surprise when we discovered the remains of a stone foundation at this very spot. We had found where the store had once stood. Linda posed for photo's at the front corner foundation stones and we prepared to leave Albany, satisfied that another part of Linda's family history was accurately documented.
Rain had been predicted for the day, and back at the coach as we prepared to leave, we could see the sky beginning to get darker and more threatening. We find that our checklist is very important in making sure everything is done, as interruptions and distractions do happen. We took down the flag and bird feeder, them disconnected the electric. As we were rolling up the borrowed 30 amp electrical cords that had allowed us to reach the electric outlet, the campground maintenance manager stopped by. We learned nearby lightning strike last evening had tripped the feeder breakers for the campsite electric circuits, which was why the power had gone off. We had merely switched on the inverter and carried on as if nothing had happened. We talked for a little bit about the abysmal state of the electric hookups in the campground. Some of the circuits were woefully inadequate like the one we were on, while others were barely acceptable. The operation of the lake and campground had been taken over by Hocking College several years ago and they were slowly working at upgrading facilities as time and money allowed. That they had a long, long way to go went without saying, lol.
After he left, our checklist brought us right back on track for the things we need to finish prior to leaving. Since our tanks were holding a weeks worth of "stuff", smile, we planned on dumping before traveling on. As I dumped, Linda returned the 30 amp cords to the office. When she returned, we hooked up the Explorer and made our final checks. A few minutes later we were driving the Appalachian Highway in a light rain leaving Linda's roots behind. It will be several years before we can return and hopefully things won't change too much before then. And if the do, it will only be "things" as the genuine warmth and affection we felt from everyone we met is a natural part of life in this hill country. John Denver got it perfect in his song. The line about country roads take me back to the place I belong is absolutely true. To know the link with the past. To experience the connection of being human. The joy of life. The spirit of individuality. The adventure goes on and on.
As we drove over towards Marietta on US 50, I thought about how much had changed since I had his driven this road almost 40 years to spend time with my new bride's family. Now a wide modern 4 lane road designed to allow for the efficient flow of goods and services throughout the area, had it really changed the area that much, or was the principal beneficiary the University? Then on the other hand, why do I even spend time thinking about such things? Maybe it is simply, because I can, smile.
The miles rolled by as the rain continued to fall. The ribbon of concrete that was I-77 unrolling before us. Our next stopping point was to be the little town of Carrollton, Ohio, county seat of Carroll County. Now we were really going to be out in the country, since there were nearly as many college students in Athens county where we had just been, as there were total people in Carroll County.We had talked to the owner of the campground we were going to be staying at and she had advised us on the best route to the park. She warned us the GPS programs try to have everyone come in a way that is definitely not the best route. Though using her directions was a little out of the way, we ended up being very grateful for her telling us . It was not a bad drive, even with the, by now, light rain. The final three miles to the campground was on a gently rolling, somewhat curvy county road. I find it amazing how easy it is to drive the coach. Coming up we had heavy periods of heavy rain and winds, an almost continuous light to medium rain and here I was after driving almost 190 miles in 4 hours almost just as fresh and relaxed as when we left.
When we arrived at the campground it was still raining and our first impression was a healthy dose of the old "what have we gotten ourselves into." The office looked like an old log cabin and the sites all appeared to be on the grass. This was certainly different from what we had been staying at, though we were learning the campgrounds in Ohio all tended to be a bit more "rustic" than what we were used to. There was sign on the door saying to drive down the road to the large blue building. Then we noticed a car pulling out from the blue building and heading our way. It turned out to be the owner of the campground, who, as were to find out, was a real gem of a person. She suggested we unhitch the Explorer and drive around the campground before we drove the coach down. Again, good advice. We finally decided on just the perfect site for us, drove the coach down and parked. Because the ground was so wet we decided not to put the jacks down as the coach was almost level without using them.
It was obviously a park that had once seen better days, but I wouldn't classify it as run down, and, as we were to find out, it was perfect for us. After setting up and getting settled in, even the weather decided to co-operate as the rain stopped. Later we took a walk around campground. Given that all the sites are grass, it may not be what everyone looks for, but walking along the little creek that runs through the middle of the park, we discovered it is actually a beautiful place. The rain had filled the creek with muddy brown water, rushing off to join some river. We didn't see just a muddy creek, we saw beauty. Walking around the lake we discovered a tree with a split down its center. When you walk with your eyes open you never know what you will see. It's a habit we've both come to appreciate.
June 1 The start of a new month. It begins in the little town of Albany in Southwestern Ohio, We know it will end somewhere on or just East of the Great Plains. Maybe Nebraska, maybe South Dakota, Maybe somewhere else. But no matter where it ends, we hope it will be in another wonderful small town like Albany. To us small towns are special towns.
Back on May 3rd I wrote about one of the things that make small towns so special. Quoting from that post: "For breakfast we drove down to a local diner and had a real country breakfast. I had apple pancakes while Linda had a feta cheese omelet with American potatoes (sliced fried). We noticed you could get one egg, toast and either a slice of bacon or a sausage link for $2.19. There was a table near us that had eight older men at it. Charles [Linda's brother] told us that every morning some of the retired farmers in the area got together for breakfast. The urge to be a bird and be able to listen in strikes once again. As we head across the Midwest later this summer maybe the opportunity to learn some local history will present itself."
Today we get sit at a table and do exactly that. Yesterday at the Historical Society, Diane, the staff administrator, told Linda about an impromptu gathering that takes place each weekday morning at the restaurant in Albany. First, to put Albany in perspective, the only restaurant in town is a Dairy Queen, smile. Second, it was a fantastic experience. Third, small town people are the greatest.
Anybody who has ever listened to John Cougar Mellencamp's song: Small Town, knows what a small town means, smile. Taking a brief slice out of his tome, I offer you the following:
Educated in a small town
Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town
Used to daydream in that small town
Another boring romantic that's me.
What's not to love about those words? I remember the six room school where my fourth grade teacher was the same teacher who taught my dad. The little red wooden chairs we sat in to sing songs in Sunday School. I recall laying on my back as a boy, watching the clouds float by, wondering what it all meant. And what about the fact that sad movies always do make me cry. I sure don't mind being just another boring romantic and hope in these daily writings I convey the love of life that both Linda and I have.
So there we sat, in a small town, two strangers, but not for long. The man sitting across from me turned out to be an older brother of one of Linda's classmates. Opposite Linda was a man who had spent hours and hours at Linda's house when she was a young girl, working with her Dad on the new school project. Beside her was the most famous school bus driver at her school. A man who drove school bus during the week and raced cars on the weekend. The kids nicknamed him "two wheel Wilbur" for the way he took the bus around corners. Linda laughed as she related to the group how Wilbur always had the best behaved kids on his bus, no fighting or running around. Then she added that it was because everyone was hanging on for dear life just trying to stay in their seats due to how he drove, lol. There were others also. The unofficial town historian with the encyclopedic memory who wrote his masters thesis on life in early Albany. The wonderful woman who had invited Linda, and her husband, who as it turned out, was a not so distant cousin of Linda's.
I was totally fascinated in listening to the interchange between everyone. The turning point was when someone finally referred to Linda as "Howard and Blanche's little girl", which was immediately followed by Linda relating the dare devil driving exploits of Wilbur. From that moment on Linda was "one of them." I didn't know the people or the events they talked about, though Linda pretty much did, but it didn't matter. When you pick up a book you don't know the characters or the story, it is through the magic of the author's words that we come to be one with them. This was the same thing, only instead of being the printed word, the story unfolded orally in a this little Southeastern Ohio Dairy Queen. My big picture wish was coming true, the details were beyond even my wildest dreams. But it still wasn't over yet. As we got ready to leave, Linda was invited to stop by and look through some pictures of old Albany that one of them had collected over the years. I had never seen Linda so excited and arrangements were made to get together in the late afternoon. As we walked away we could hear Wilbur being teased about his bus driving. We had not only taken, we had also given.
Linda was bubbling over with enthusiasm as we left the DQ. This was one very happy lady. And all because a wonderful lady named Diane cared enough to not only talk to Linda yesterday at the Historical Society, but also cared about her as a person. Small town people are so special.
We spent the rest of the morning at the Alden Library, once again looking at will packets, bringing her ancestors back to life. One thing we had learned yesterday was that her great grandfather had later in life moved from Albany to Athens. She had discovered both the address of the house and also the fact he had died at home in the very early 1900's. Walking back to the Explorer, we took a slight detour so we would pass by the address. Starting down the street we marveled at how old all the houses looked. That very little had been done to modernize them. Imagine our disappointment then, when we discovered the only house on the block which had been modernized was was the one the g-grandfather had owned. Yet standing on the front steps leading up from the street, obviously the same steps her g-grandparents had climbed, the sense of awe and connection overcame any alteration in the exterior of that old house.
Our day was not finished yet, because after a lunch of turkey on whole wheat, at Subway once again (are we creatures of habit or what, lol) we journeyed once more into the past. This morning at the Dairy Queen, Linda had learned from Diane that there was something very special up on the second floor of the Historical Society Building. A link with the past, but more than just mere a link, a chance to to touch, in a way, the life of her great great grandfather. The one who started out in the mercantile business in Albany and ended up being the banker in Athens. On display was the safe he had used in his store. The one that he began to store money and valuables in for his customers, a service which eventually evolved to his becoming a banker. For once in her life, Linda was completely speechless as she touched a true piece of her past.
Later, sitting in a house in Albany, looking through photo's of the town's past, Linda was once again transported into that magical time where the past is more than just a long ago time. It is a time when the past actually comes alive. Not only were there photo's of places long, long ago. True, she saw photo's of buildings her family had once owned. The streets her ancestors had walked, but she also saw photo's of her father as a boy and a young man. Photo's she'd never seen before. To know the link with the past. To experience the connection of being human. The joy of life. The spirit of individuality. The adventure goes on and on. I just don't know how other to say it. May, these images from another time, as the saying goes, truly be worth a thousand words.
The slightly balding head between the two boys in vests at the left side of the photo belongs to Linda's dad. The Albany FFA (Future Farmers of America) took a trip to the 1933 Chicago world's fair. Linda's dad, driving a Model A Ford, was one of three adults on the trip.
All days are good, some days are just better. Today was great. >