Book Review
The Long Ride
Charles Woodruff

The Long RideI suppose non-roadies think we’re all alike. Normal people go to places and they do it in the most efficient manner possible. To them, folks who mutter stuff like “The journey is the destination” more than once every decade or so, just aren’t normal and should probably be avoided. They’re right, of course, but there is variety in our abnormalities.

Charles B. Woodruff, author of The Long Ride: 23 states in 22 days in a 1951 Hudson qualifies as a roadie. He enjoys riding more than arriving and two lanes more that four and he knows about the Lincoln Highway and Route 66. He’d probably even enjoy following the Lincoln or Sixty-Six end to end but that’s not what floats his boat the highest. Following Route 66 in a rented Mustang wouldn’t interest him nearly as much as following some lesser road in a Hudson; Preferably the 1951 Super 6 he’s owned for nearly forty years.

The Long Ride recounts Woodruff’s drive from Schenectady, New York, to Spokane, Washington, and back again in that Hudson. It wasn’t his first road trip in the car or even his first long trip. By the time he pulled out of Schenectady and headed to the 2010 National Hudson Meet in Spokane, he and the car had already visited 43 of the contiguous United States together. By the time he returned, it was all 48.

The book is “Published by the author” so it’s not quite as polished as the latest Random House offering but neither is it particularly crude. Woodruff is a librarian in real life so he knows his way around books. I saw a few errors that a high priced copy editor might have squelched but there’s no guarantee of that. This is a very readable account of a quite interesting journey.

There are pictures, too, including a few black and white ones of his parents and a younger self. But most are in color and taken during the Long Ride with a digital camera purchased just days before departure to replace a 35mm stolen in November. Somewhere along the way, Woodruff admits that the thief may have actually done him a favor by forcing this bit of modernization on him. In the photos, the car is the star. It isn’t in every picture but it is in most. That is as it should be. The Hudson is shown at state lines and in front of houses. There’s a nice shot, taken from the board-walk fronting a Montana saloon, of it waiting patiently in an unpaved street. That saloon struck all the right chords with Woodruff and looked rather inviting to me, too. The cover shows the old car parked beside the Bonneville salt flats with a glorious day climbing over the horizon behind it.

Woodruff talks about the country he passes through and the gathering of Hudsons that is the reason, or more accurately the excuse, for the trip. He describes the friends that share portions of the Long Ride and places with family connections where he stops along the way. He talks a lot about the car and its history. What he doesn’t talk about is car trouble. I hope I’m not ruining too much suspense when I reveal that, except for a few instances of vapor lock, the fifty-nine year old performs admirably. Oil and brake fluid had to be replenished now and then and, more than once, Woodruff shares his concerns about the temperature gauge climbing when traffic or construction slowed forward progress and reduced airflow.

The trip is, in fact, so trouble free that I’ve almost forgotten just how big an undertaking it was until the epilogue reminds me. Woodruff had very few preparations planned for the car before taking off and real life circumstances prevented him from accomplishing even all of those. As I began the book and saw the old Hudson pulled almost directly from storage and pointed westward, I felt that a few hours stranded by the road were probably inevitable and a drive ending malfunction only slightly less likely. By the time the car and its driver cross back into New York, those concerns were pretty far in the background. They are recalled , however, when Woodruff talks of doing it “…on my terms or not at all.” Of not doing it “…in a modern car or even a Hudson that was in tiptop condition…” or “…in a caravan…”. Woodruff is writing about himself and his plans for the drive when, early in the book, he says “Crazy? Maybe.”

So what?

The Long Ride: 23 States in 22 Days in a 1951 Hudson, Charles B. Woodruff, Published by author, 2011, 9 x 6 inches, paperback, 191 pages.
Available from author:
Charles B. Woodruff
DoDDS-K, Unit 15549
Box 141
APO AP 96205
Price $19


General Denver Thanksgiving BuffetThere’s no doubt that Thanksgiving and road trips go together. One of the most wonderful trips in the world is a drive home for a meal with family. As a kid, I remember riding in the backseat as we traveled to my grandparents for the big day. The  distance wasn’t much but the presence of seldom seen aunts, uncles, and cousins made it an exciting outing. After moving to Cincinnati, I returned to my grandparents’ Darke County home several times for Thanksgiving. The distance was now greater and so were the odds that I hadn’t seen those aunts, uncles, and cousins since the previous Thanksgiving or Christmas. The excitement, though subdued by the adult me, was still there.

Hosting Thanksgiving sort of skipped a generation in my family. By the time my grandparents passed on, I was married and participating in my wife’s family events and my sister was on her way to a sizable family of her own. She became a Thanksgiving host pretty much without even thinking about it. I even made the trip there a couple of times while my parents joined the group at my sister’s or visited other relatives. My sister’s brood reached seven with six being girls who inherited her mothering and cooking talents. Somewhere along the line, Sis moved into a hostess emeritus role and spends the day stopping by meals hosted by her offspring for their offspring. Her itinerary this year included three different households.

While I was between wives and significant others with cooking skills, I managed to fumble my way through a couple of Thanksgiving meals. All three of my kids moved out almost as soon as they could and I’m thinking those meals might have had something to do with that.

There was never a shortage of invitations to spend the holiday with friends though I think they may have increased just a bit when I went from head of household to sole occupant. Nature abhors a vacuum. Wives and mothers abhor a bachelor. Not abhor in a we-don’t-like-you sort of way but abhor in a we-can-fix-that sort of way. Friends and coworkers who were wives and/or mothers along with the wives and/or mothers of friends and coworkers who were neither wives nor mothers assured me I was more than welcome at their celebration. I like to think I was polite while declining most invitations.

In 2005 I hit upon the idea of a road trip to avoid the drama and trauma of turning down invitations without a note from my doctor. I suspect I was partially driven by the desire for a break from a heavy work schedule but the whole world seemed simpler once I could honestly tell people I’d be out of town for Thanksgiving. I hit the road early on Thanksgiving day and had pulled pork for dinner in Nashville. I repeated the escape in 2006 by going to Bryson City, North Carolina. This was also the first year I went on the lam for Christmas. I returned to Nashville for Thanksgiving 2007 then drove the Dixie Highway to Asheville, North Carolina, in 2008.

Things changed in 2009. I retired in the middle of November, drove to Illinois a week later, and found myself in the unusual position of driving toward home as Thanksgiving approached. The Nawrockis, close friends who I had actually enjoyed a few past Thanksgivings with, had some changes, too. Their two daughters had moved out and the idea of a big at home feast was not as attractive as it once was. I’m not entirely certain that ’09 was the Nawrockis’ first time at the buffet in the old hotel but I believe it was. In any case, it was my first. For the unemployed, the need to wring pleasure from a four day weekend doesn’t exist. In fact, four day weekends don’t exist and you have to watch carefully to pick out weekends at all. Though I continue to scurry out of town for Christmas, Thanksgivings since 2009 have found me home and at the buffet. My daughter and son-in-law live nearby and they attend too so I even have some real family there.

General Denver HotelThe old hotel I mentioned is the General Denver in Wilmington, Ohio. If it wasn’t for that city in Colorado, the hotel might be the best known namesake of a fellow who left Wilmington to become, among other things, a California Representative to the US Congress, the US Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and Governor of the Kansas Territory. The hotel is named after James W Denver. His son, Matthew R Denver headed up the group that built the first-class four-story hotel in 1928.

General Denver HotelMark and Molly Dullea own the place now and live on the top floor. It has an abundance of old time charm which makes it the perfect place for Thanksgiving dinner and the buffet table is filled with all the appropriate goodies. For motherly cooks responsible for feeding a family every day, orchestrating a holiday dinner might be no big deal. For empty nesters and others who don’t feed even a small flock on a regular basis, it can be stressful. I’m quite happy leaving the orchestrating to professionals, eating my fill of turkey, stuffing, and pie, and going home thankful that I didn’t impose on anyone.

On Thanksgiving day I posted a link to a video on Facebook. I’d seen the video just a few days earlier on a blog that I follow. Ara Gureghian is an accomplished chef and photographer who sort of dropped out of the main stream about five years ago. His blog, which he has described as “My daily therapy, published weekly or so…”, includes some great photographs, some soul searching, and some travel. Until quite recently, all the travel was on a BMW motorcycle with sidecar. In September, a Honda based ECamper, which will allow some cold weather outings, was added. The video isn’t his. It’s the creation of filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg and Ara just passed it along as I’m doing. I believe that most readers of this blog will like the six minute video. Many may also like the blog.
Gratitude (Louie’s video)
The Oasis of My Soul (Ara’s blog)

Book Review
Route 66 Sightings
Graham, McClanahan, & Ross

Route 66 Sightings coverI expected to be impressed by the images in Route 66 Sightings. They come from three of the best photographers ever to point a camera at Route 66. I didn’t expect to be educated though I now realize that I should have. Those three photographers, Shellee Graham, Jim Ross, and Jerry McClanahan, are also three of the most competent of Route 66 historians.

The first book I reviewed on this blog was a photographer-writer collaboration. That’s a fairly common arrangement. It’s not because the writer can’t take a decent photograph or because the photographer is illiterate or knows nothing about the subject.  It’s because one person typically produces better images while the other is the better word smith and/or more knowledgeable. The three people behind …Sightings are all quite adept at recording, remembering, and ‘riting.

Unlike many books connected with a road, the organization here is not geographic. No east to west or north to south. Instead, the photos are divided into categories. Roadside attractions and businesses that have completely vanished are pictured in a gallery (Yeah, it’s a lot like a chapter.) called “Gone”. Some that can still be visited, but just barely, appear in the “Used to Be” gallery. “Against the Odds” covers the rare business or attraction that continues being what it’s always been and “Rescued” covers those that live on by being something different. Roadside attractions with a recent beginning make up “New Kids on the Block”.

“Gone” is the first gallery and I believe it is my favorite. Of course, nothing in the gallery exists today. With very few exceptions, they were gone before I started paying attention to Route 66 in any meaningful way just shy of the turn of the century. So I get a glimpse of things that I’ll never see in the real world and that fact, no doubt, has a lot to do with the chapter being my favorite. Some of the subjects were still operating (Shawford Motel, Club cafe) or at least intact (Coral Court Motel) when photographed. Others (Conway Motor Court, Querino Canyon Trading Post) would be candidates for the “Used to Be” gallery if time hadn’t since obliterated them completely. I have to single out McClanahan’s picture of the Querino Canyon Trading Post, with the buckled building frozen in mid collapse, as a personal favorite.

By being first, the “Gone” gallery introduces the format for the book’s layout. It isn’t particularly rigid so maybe style is a better word than format. With but a few exceptions(3, I think) each spread (both verso and recto pages, and yes, I did have to look that up) is a set. There is one large photograph and two or three smaller ones. All are of varying sizes. They may or may not all be by the same photographer and may be of the same subject or merely related subjects. The accompanying text is written by the person who produced the set’s large image. It looks good and works well.

And the “Gone” gallery does one more thing. It bolsters the credentials of the authors. I’ll confess to not knowing exactly how long each of these writer-photographers has been cruising Route 66. I believe McClanahan has been doing it most of his life and I suspect that’s true, or close to it, for Graham and Ross, as well. Regardless of what the year counts are, the pictures in “Gone” show that these three were looking seriously at the road and the world around it long before most of us even got off of the expressway. The accompanying text is a combination of personal memories, learned history, and an occasional thimble full of roadside philosophy. You step out of the gallery feeling that, if they know that much about stuff you’ve never even heard of, they’re certainly qualified to write about anything the other galleries might hold.

“Used to Be” is filled with thought-provoking pictures of abandoned and deteriorating buildings. Two photos in particular grabbed my attention. Both are by Jim Ross as are the majority of photos in this section. The first is of the Painted Desert Trading Post. I’ve never been there but I’ve seen plenty of pictures. Most are close-ups that show the building and its hand painted signs. Ross has captured the view from some distance so that the actual trading post, on a fading gravel road surrounded by lots of nothing, takes up a very small portion of the photo. He tells us that this was an “opportunity to more fully portray the desolation of the site”. It does indeed.

The other “Used to Be” photo that tugged at my eye is of a place where I have been. I’ve visited John’s Modern cabins a couple of times and I’ve seen scads of photos. Ross sets his photo apart from most by filling the frame with the green of the shingles and the red and yellow of the faded sign backed by green leaves. The condition and, yes, the desolation, of John’s Modern Cabins may be more accurately shown in Jim’s wider and grayer and more typical shot on the opposite page but I like the green.

Because they are currently active, the subjects of “Against the Odds”, “Rescued”, and “New Kids on the Block” are likely more familiar to fans of the road than even those of “Used to Be”. Not only do they show up in trip reports and vacation albums, many are actively promoted and advertised. Of course, the trio behind Route 66 Sightings does not do normal even here. Shellee Graham puts owner Fran Houser’s autograph covered truck in the foreground of a Midpoint Cafe photo, Jerry McClanahan captures a restored 1956 Greyhound in front of the Munger Moss in 2010, Jim Ross shows us the Hackberry General Store with snow on the ground, and there are plenty more.

There is, in fact, a whole gallery I’ve not even spoken of. It shares its name with the book itself and is called simply “Sightings”. It’s potpourri; Really good potpourri. It contains photos that the authors liked well enough to include despite them not fitting in any of the planned galleries. How’s that for an endorsement?

The quality of the contents is pretty much matched by the quality of the book itself. The slick heavy pages reproduce the photos wonderfully. There’s little doubt that a picture’s colors appear just as the photographer intended even for the book’s handful of black and white images. It’s a beauty… and smart, too.

Route 66 Sightings, Jerry McClanahan – Jim Ross – Shellee Graham, Ghost Town Press, October 2011, 12.2 x 9.3 inches, 200 pages, ISBN 978-0967748184

Electric Horsemen & Horsewomen

Greenville Hometown Holiday Horse ParadeThe practice of using lawn chairs to stake out prime territory at various events has long both amused and irritated me. It flourishes in smaller communities where honesty abounds and scoundrels tempted to displace or abscond with the portable furniture are simply not tolerated. I’d guess that any chair plopped down ten hours ahead of a concert in NYC’s Central Park would be long gone before showtime but I don’t really know that. Last night, Greenville, Ohio, held its eighth Hometown Holiday Horse Parade. The picture at right was taken about 5:30 but some of those chairs were there when I drove through town around 10:00 AM.

Greenville Hometown Holiday Horse ParadeThis is a big event and the crowd grows to four or more deep in a matter of minutes. This picture shows the scene about five minutes before parade start — about an hour and a half after the first one. It’s not logical that this somehow irritates me slightly. The way I operate, I’m going to be behind those four or five rows regardless of when or by whom they were filled. I am not personally affected by the fact that the front row is filled by people whose cousin dropped off a dozen chairs on his way to the turkey shoot but it doesn’t seem quite right. You have to stand for hours on Times Square or Gobbler’s Knob if you want to see the crystal ball or Punxsutawney Phil and that, in my view, is as it should be.

Greenville Hometown Holiday Horse ParadeGreenville Hometown Holiday Horse ParadeI believe this is the third or possibly fourth time I’ve attended the parade. I’ve taken pictures each time but I still don’t know how to do it. I have virtually no usable pictures of individual participants. This pair of photos looks north on Broadway shortly before the parade’s start and end. Staging for the parade is just to the right of these pictures and the horses enter Broadway more or less in front of where I’m standing and continue north. After rounding the traffic circle at Main Street, they retrace their path back along Broadway so those folks in chairs get to see them coming and going. The right hand picture shows the last few entries nearing the end of the route on their return.

Greenville Hometown Holiday Horse ParadeThis year’s parade reportedly had well over sixty entries. Some of those entries were groups of riders on horseback but it hasn’t always been so. For at least one year, horseback riders were banned because, as I understand it, some of the organizers felt that the parade was conceived around lighted wagons and carriages and it should stay that way. I have no opinion and just try to enjoy the lights and the horses whether they’re hitched to a wagon or not.

The last picture is obviously out of sequence and I’m including it mostly because I just like it. There had been some light rain in the afternoon and some predictions showed the chances increasing toward evening. That was definitely not what happened and the picture shows the clouds separating a bit as the sun goes down. This is the circle that marks the northern reach of the parade and, like the street itself, it is surrounded by thick walls of spectators as the horses pass by. Here‘s another picture from last night that has even less to do with the parade but which I may like even more.

Greenville Hometown Holiday Horse Parade

I would like to dedicate my mild rant against “chair claims” to America’s most congenial curmudgeon, Andy Rooney, who died two weeks ago. I don’t know that Andy cared one way or the other about modern concert and parade “sooners” but I do know that, if he did, he would have expressed his feelings a whole lot better than I did.

This morning I headed slightly north to Mason, Ohio, for breakfast. The Mason Grill is a great family owned business that always satisfies in terms of food, friendliness, service, and value. I walked in thinking mushroom omelet but changed my mind as soon as I read the chalkboard specials. Goetta omelet? I’d never seen goetta on their menu before and the waitress confirmed that it was a new but permanent addition. This might be goetta’s northern most outpost to date. After last week’s goetta-scrapple-mush discussion, there was no chance of me not ordering it. Unfortunately, goetta does not photograph well while buried in an omelet but here‘s my great tasting breakfast anyway.

Book Review
Border to Border on US Route 89
James Cowlin

US-89-Photography-Guide-CoverWhen I first glanced at the title of James Cowlin’s latest ebook, I’m pretty sure I expected it to contain advice on exposure and filters and other photographic folderol. But a more thoughtful reading of the carefully constructed title yielded a different impression. Just as the title says, Border to Border on US Route 89; A photographer’s guide to America’s most scenic highway is not a guide to photography. It’s a guide to a highway.

It was written by a very accomplished photographer and other photographers, even some as good as Cowlin himself, can benefit from it. But, at its heart, the book is simply a guide to Cowlin’s beloved US 89 written — and illustrated — from a photographer’s point of view.

The book is organized around thirty photos taken in the spring of 2010 as the Cowlins (Jim and wife Barbara) traveled the highway from Mexico to Canada. Each beautiful photograph is accompanied by a few lines of text which typically tell something about the subject as well as something about the photo. But that something about the photo is not F stops and focal lengths. It’s generally just Jim explaining what he saw and tried to capture.

The photos appear, each on its own page, in south to north sequence. Cowlin sees three geographic regions along the route and a couple of pages of description precede the photos from each region. These pages provide a little background, give some idea of what might be seen there, from the 58 kinds of reptiles and amphibians in southern Arizona to the glaciers at the Canadian border, and identify some favorite photo ops.

The book does not contain detailed instructions for driving the route or for duplicating the wonderful pictures. It does contain an excellent overview of the road that Cowlin calls “America’s most scenic Highway”. He lets slip the real purpose of the book in the forward when he says “I do hope that this guide will inspire you to take a road trip on US Route 89.” The book definitely contains a lot of inspiration.

James Cowlin is the founder of US Route 89 Appreciation Society. Border to Border on US Route 89; A photographer’s guide to America’s most scenic highway can be purchased here. A Road Trip Map Book is available here.

Deciding that book reviews were a good fit for this blog instantly put me way behind. If I posted them on Sundays when there was nothing more pressing it might take me months just to squeeze out the half-dozen or so already on the list. To keep that from happening, I’m going to post book reviews on Wednesdays for the next few weeks and leave Sundays for whatever.

Book Review
Ghost Towns of Route 66
Jim Hinckley

Last week’s visit to Fort Recovery was triggered by a book. That book, a new one on the 1791 Battle of the Wabash, was available (pre-release) and its author, in addition to autographing copies, gave a presentation on the battle. As I wrote the blog entry about the visit, I was simultaneously struck by the idea of reviewing the book and the realization that book reviews might make good subjects for blog entries. I’ve recently picked up a few new books including some by people I know and to whom I’ve promised some feedback. Reviews, it seemed to me, would be a good way to feed the blog and focus the feedback. So here is the first book review entry. I promise there will be more.

Ghost Towns of Route 66The subject of this review is a book I picked up from the author, Jim Hinckley, when I passed through Kingman, Arizona, in June. Ghost Towns of Route 66, is the second Hinckley product I’ve read. The first was Route 66 Backroads where I was at least as impressed with the photography as with the writing. That is true of the newer book as well. …Backroads used photos from Kerrick James and Rick & Nora Bowers along with some from outside sources. James is the only photographer listed on the cover of Ghost Towns… although there are a few by others including Hinckley. My praise for the photos is not intended to diminish Hinckley’s writing but to recognize some wonderful images and acknowledge a huge reason that these books get a second look when spotted on a store shelf or counter.

Ghost towns is a subject where photos and words can truly complement each other. By definition, a ghost town is a place that was once thriving but is no longer. When you visit a ghost town, you look at what remains and try to imagine what once was. James’ pictures let you see what remains and Hinckley’s words help you imagine what was there once upon a time.

Hinkley’s words are the result of some serious research. The man definitely does his home work. Facts about a town’s beginning are usually given and the events and circumstances leading to its rise and fall are discussed. Some of the falls are complete while others are far from it.

A few towns on Sixty-Six do match the far west ghost town image of complete  desolation with nothing moving but tumble weeds. Those that do, like Allanreed in Texas, Endee in New Mexico, and Glen Rio on the state line between them, tend to be a bit to the west themselves. Other towns that Hinckley has included, such as Galena in Kansas and Afton in Oklahoma, ain’t dead yet.

In fact, Galena and Afton are current must-stops on any Route 66 trip through the area. In Galena, 4 Women on the Route has become a major roadside attraction in just a few
years and in Afton, Laurel Kane’s Afton Station, established a bit ahead of 4 Women…, is a true Route 66 icon. But Hinckley isn’t to be faulted for including these towns. Both are mere shadows of their boom time selves. The decline has currently ceased and maybe even reversed but there was sure a lot of it and there is no guarantee that it isn’t just paused.

This isn’t the first book one should acquire when planning a drive down Historic Route 66. In my opinion, that spot belongs to Jerry McClanahan’s EZ 66 Guide and there are other route related books offering a broader view of the road and the attractions at its side. But, if you are attracted to clusters of dilapidated buildings and often wonder what a wide spot in the road used to be, Ghost Towns of Route 66 could be just the book you want. You’ll get lots of history and some great photos of many un- and under-populated
settlements along the historic highway.

Ghost Towns of Route 66, Jim Hinckley and Kerrick James, Voyageur Press, June 2011, 10.25 x 8.75 inches, 160 pages, ISBN 978-0760338438

Viva la Mush or rebellion in the heartland. I like fried mush. It reminds me of my childhood. The fact that Bob Evans restaurants served this breakfast staple accounted for many — perhaps even most — of my visits there. Last month, when my local Bob Evans informed me that mush was no longer available, I was heartbroken. When this came up in a conversation with my sister, she told me that, although it was no longer on the menu, fried mush could still be had at the Bob Evans in Greenville, Ohio, if you asked. I stopped in to make sure she wasn’t just teasing me and found that, not only was it available, it had been returned to the menu. I told the cashier how I had been forced to come there because my own Bob Evans had dropped my favorite and she told me they had tried that, too, “but it didn’t go over very well.” After a week or two mush was returned and it reappeared on the menu at the next printing. Viva la mush and viva the small town restaurant manager who keeps her customers happy in spite of corporate directives.

Old Fort and Young Chicken

That’s my sister and me in the lock-up at Fort Recovery sometime in the mid-1950s. From about age six to age ten or so, the site of the 18th century fort was my favorite “vacation” spot. During those years, a summer was not complete until I’d talked my parents into taking us to this far away and ancient attraction. In time I learned that the log structures were not the originals from 1794. Those were already long gone when a 1938 WPA project produced the one-third sized replica that was there on my first visit. The building we’re peering out of was part of the replacement constructed toward the end of my fascination. A worker at the museum thought 1957 or ’58. Eventually I even learned that this particular “far away” was something less than fifteen miles north on the very road we lived on. Figuring that out took me awhile since all other travels — school, shopping, relatives, Dad’s job — were in some other direction. I still greatly appreciate my parents taking me there even if the effort wasn’t quite as extreme as I once thought.

I mention this now because I stopped by the old fort today. I was near my childhood home for other reasons and there were some happenings at the fort centered around a new book titled Wabash 1791: St. Clair’s Defeat. Yesterday John Winkler, the book’s author, led a walk around the site for educators. Today he gave a pair of talks. I was there well ahead of the first talk at 3:00 but didn’t move to the lecture room until it was filled to overflowing. I did get a good seat for the slightly less crowded 4:00 presentation.

St. Clair’s Defeat, a.k.a., The Battle of the Wabash, occurred 220 years ago last Friday. On November 4, 1791, St. Clair’s 920 men were attacked at the future site of Fort Recovery by a slightly larger force of Miami, Shawnee, and Delaware Indians. The result was pretty much a massacre with 632 soldiers and all or nearly all of the approximately 200 camp followers killed. I’ve seen conflicting statements that the dead soldiers represented a quarter of the U.S. Army at that date and that the battle reduced the U.S. Army to around 300 men. I’m guessing that the discrepancy comes from varying counts of deserters and the sick. I picked up a copy of Winkler’s book so maybe I’ll find the accurate numbers there. Regardless of how much Army remained, much clearly didn’t. By several different measures, this battle was the worst defeat in United States history.

Just over two years later, troops under “Mad” Anthony Wayne began construction of what they would name Fort Recovery. It was completed in March of 1794 and in June of that year survived attack by what has been called the largest force of American Indians ever gathered east of the Mississippi. That was followed by Wayne’s victory at Fallen Timbers which was followed by the Treaty of Greenville which was followed by the state of Ohio.

When I did an Oddment page for the 2010 Fair at New Boston which included a reenactment of the Battle of Fallen Timbers, I discovered that a song existed about St Clair’s Defeat. A recording by Roger McQuinn, complete with lyrics, can be heard or downloaded here.

Anthony Wayne was my childhood hero. I imagine part of the reason was the “Mad” in his name but I was really impressed with that cocked hat. When I saw my first picture of a bare-headed “Mad” Anthony, the general came near to losing me as a fan. But I overcame the shock and stuck by my hero and still enjoy knowing that he and I ran up and down the same roads separated by just a couple of centuries.

Of course, sis and I did eventually get out of the frontier hoosegow but it happened again.

I was alerted to the Fort Recovery doings by a Ohio Historical Society newsletter. Just a couple of days prior, the Lincoln Highway Facebook group had a link to this article on Balyeat’s Coffee Shop in Van Wert, Ohio. I’ve eaten at Balyeat’s multiple times but have never had the “Young Fried Chicken” advertised on their wonderful neon sign. The Facebook post reminded me of that and, since Van Wert and Fort Recovery are only about thirty crow miles (or forty Subaru miles) apart, I decided to correct that gap in my experience. Today the chicken is baked rather than fried but I’m sure it’s still young.

I have now removed the forum that was added in 2010. I said I would do that in the very first entry of this blog but I saw no need to rush. Until this week, it has sat there idle exactly as it had for the seven preceding months. Every now and then some spammer would attempt to set up an account but they were few and far between. But this week there has been a mini-flurry (6) from folks with names like “Okkgeiwk” and “horrhyday” which prompted me to finally delete the thing.