Trip Peek #31
Trip #90
Skyline and Blue Ridge

pv70This picture is from my 2010 Skyline & Blue Ridge trip along Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway. The two more or less connect a little west of Charlottesville, Virginia, to provide a nearly 575 mile long scenic drive. The picture was taken near the southern end of the Parkway looking down from Waterrock Knob. I prefaced starting down Skyline Drive with a touch of Darke County Fair, some cardboard boat racing, and a goodly amount of scenic roadway in Ohio and West Virginia. I paused between Drive and Parkway to tour Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.

Fifty Years After

wrhttco65In the first month of 1965, Time Magazine published an article that featured members of the senior class at a California high school. Ten years later two members of that class interviewed thirty classmates for a book, published in September 1976, that inspired a TV series whose fourteen fictional episodes started airing barely a year later. The book and series were both titled What Really Happened to the Class of ’65. The image at right is from the book cover.

whc65_timeI was a high school senior in 1965 and I know that I and my classmates had a lot in common with the students in that Time article. There is no doubt that many of the things affecting those California teens also affected teens in every high school in every state. On the other hand, there were a whole lot of differences, too. For one thing, most of America’s high schools are not located in areas where sun and sand are so wonderfully abundant. Neither can the students of most schools be called affluent, a word that was used with justification for those California seniors. The world of 1965 impacted every senior class in America but the senior class that Time talked of in their “Today’s Teen-Agers” article might not have been all that typical.

I can’t really make a case for my class being any more typical. I don’t believe anyone ever used the word affluent to describe my school but neither were we impoverished. Whether or not statistics support it, we thought of our parents — farmers, factory workers, and a few professionals and business owners — as middle class and we lived, more or less, in the middle part of the country. Our school was not equidistant from the coasts but it was sure a long way from either and, except for some images conjured up by Beach Boy tunes playing on the local AM stations, not much influenced by them. Unlike that California class featured in Time,  there wasn’t 506 of us. There is no reason to think that the size of our class was unique and, if you get real picky about precisely when diplomas were issued or other details, it can even be varied slightly. But three score and five seems right and it’s the way we’ve always thought of ourselves. We were the Ansonia High School Class of 65 of ’65.

We graduated smack dab in the middle of a decade that was about as turbulent and confusing, yet as filled with promise and potential, as any could be. The nation’s president had been assassinated during our junior year. The Times issue that carried “Today’s Teen-Agers” also had an article on LBJ’s inauguration after winning the November election and one about a Dr. Martin Luther King visit to Selma, Alabama. 1965 was the mid-point of the Vietnam War (November 1, 1955 to April 30, 1975) and the first year that regular US combat troops, and not just “advisers”, were used there. By decade’s end, violence would end the lives of Dr. King, another Kennedy, and some 50,000 US soldiers. But the last half of the 1960s also brought us electronic calculators, the first artificial human heart, the beginning (as ARPAnet) of the Internet, and men on the moon.

whc65_50fWe came together this week, some of us, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our graduation. The school is still small and each year the Alumni Association organizes a gathering for all of its graduates. That was held Saturday as usual. Not usual was a Friday evening gathering organized by some classmates who put in a lot of effort to make this year special. Twenty-six class members and our class sponsors met for dinner at one of the area’s nicer restaurants and had a great time sharing stories and trying to identify each other. The fun and reminiscing and even the eating continued at the nearby home of a classmate (Sharon Bickel) whose gracious invitation for desert was accepted by just about everyone.

whc65_50s1whc65_50s2Nineteen of us also made it to the annual banquet on Saturday. All alumni and the current year’s graduates are invited with the “5s” (5th, 10th, 15th, etc.) getting some extra recognition that includes having a room set aside for their use. The jokes and chatter pretty much picked up from where they had ended on Friday.

whc65_50s4whc65_50s3The special treatment continued at the actual banquet and even included being first at the buffet line. I’m guessing that the fifty year class is given this particular honor because this seems to be the point at which attendance peaks. That seems to likely be true of us. There were fourteen of us in 2005 and a half dozen in 2010. The fellow in the dark coat at the right of the first picture is Tom Brewer who was one of the classmates who, as I mentioned earlier, put in a lot of effort to make this year special. Others were Ed Ault, Carolyn Baker, Tim Barga, Bob Birt, Rick Jones, June Snyder, and Charlene Steed. Rick not only helped with organizing things, he represented our class with one of the most entertaining “speeches” ever delivered at an alumni gathering. I put “speeches” in parentheses because, while there were many useful observations and insights, the humorous content and great delivery made it seem almost a performance.

whc65_50s5The final event of the alumni gathering was a dance at Eldora Ballroom where the class of 1965 was once again at the head of the line. Many of our 1960s Fridays and Saturdays were spent at this big hall, which is part of Eldora Speedway, listening to The Jokers or EG and the Bumblebees.

So what did we do during our five decades as adults? In other words, what really happened to the class of 65 of ’65? We got married and had kids. We got divorced and remarried. We served in the military and went to places not the least bit like Darke County, Ohio. We went to college and some (unlike me) even graduated. None of us became doctors or lawyers or Indian chiefs but we did become accountants and engineers and business owners. Some of us found success and happiness in fields such as teaching, healthcare, and law enforcement that make communities worth living in and, yes, a lot of us stayed in or returned to the communities we grew up in for that very reason; They are still worth living in.

Spending time looking back on those good ol’ school days with those who made them good was great fun. Not everyone had the option. As might be expected, contact information could not be found for a few (only 3) so they didn’t get an invitation to respond to. Also to be expected, but saddening nonetheless, is the fact that nine of our classmates are no longer living. One, who I’ve written about before, most recently here, died in Vietnam less than two years after graduating. The others died of various causes over the other forty-eight years.

Twenty-six and nineteen are respectable numbers. There’s a good chance that Friday’s gathering was the class’s biggest since graduation. There is also a good chance that it will never be equaled but it might. When we were born, life expectancy was not quite 70 for females and five years less than that for males. Us guys have already beaten the odds; The gals are close. Now that we’ve made it this far, they tell us we’ll average another 15 or 20 years so there should be plenty of us (or them) around to celebrate the 60th anniversary. If I can, I will.

Addendum 26-May-2015: It is usually only a fraction of the photos I take that make it into a blog or trip journal post and the public is spared (most of) the really crappy ones. I have been asked about other pictures and decided to just post all of the photos from the weekend in my seldom used Flickr account. They are here, re-sized but otherwise unedited.

Zero and Ten Years in Cincinnati

cac01Cincinnati has a new carousel and an old brewery. Carol Ann’s Carousel officially opened on Saturday and Mt. Carmel Brewing Company celebrated its tenth anniversary the same day. The carousel is part of Smale Riverfront Park on the Ohio River between the baseball and football stadiums. It’s inside the low brown building near the center of the picture at right. I parked on the south side of the river just so I could get that picture (and park free).

cac02cac03cac04Musicians and other entertainers kept things lively until the opening ceremonies began. Parks Director Willie Cardens spoke briefly himself and also introduced others, including the mayor and the artists and planners who created the carousel. They were all just as happy as he was. Music from the Cincinnati Children’s Choir included Happy Birthday for the carousel’s namesake, Carol Ann Haile. It would have been her 92nd birthday. She’s been called “everyone’s Aunt Mame” and someone who knew her said the carousel is a perfect match for her “spirit of whimsy and wonder”

cac05The ceremonial ribbon cutting marked the culmination of a two and a half year 5.5 million dollar project. The carousel itself was $1 million. The building accounted for the rest.


cac06cac07cac08With the ribbon cut, VIPs were ushered in for a ride while everyone else pressed against the glass walls for a glimpse. Actually, it was all good. Those VIPs included the Cincinnati Children’s Choir and lots of other children and parents were allowed to slip inside to photograph the happy youngsters. I joined the line and was soon rewarded with my first view of the carousel without looking through tinted glass or at a computer screen. It’s a beauty with unique Cincinnati related critters and objects, carved by Carousel Works of Mansfield, Ohio, everywhere. A description of the figures and a lot more is available through the link at the beginning of the article or directly here.

cac11cac10cac09When my turn came, I laid back a bit to let others mount something they’d been targeting. I was just happy to be there and didn’t want to block someone from their favorite. When I saw that the cicada remained available I was all over it — literally. If you really need to know what the bottom half of an old man on a cicada looks like, here you go. I don’t own a selfie stick and my arms just aren’t that long but you can see that I’m having a good time and get a sense of those lovely red eyes.

cac12cac13cac14There is a lot more to Smale Park. These are some pictures I grabbed in the area near the carousel. The playground in the third photo was just opened in the last week or so. More will be coming online in the near future.

mcbff02mcbff01Beer wasn’t the only thing pouring when I got to to Mt. Carmel Brewing Company. The rain had been heavier, though, plus nobody really minded. The oldest brewery currently operating in Cincinnati was celebrating its tenth year with a Firkin Fest.

mcbff03mcbff04mcbff05It was dry in the tap room and dry spots had been found in the brewery for the music and the firkins. Birthdays with beer and carousels really are special.

New Americans

ncitizens01I recently had the opportunity to watch sixty-five people from thirty-eight countries transform into full fledged citizens of the Unites States of America in a matter of seconds. It was one of the most uplifting experiences I’ve ever had with an aura of accomplishment and hope at least the equal of a high school or college graduation. One of those sixty-five people was a friend. He had invited me to attend and I expected to be quite happy for him. I did not expect to be affected one way or another by the others but I was wrong. It was, in fact, the group, rather than the individuals, that generated most of that uplift I mentioned.

ncitizens02A couple of people spoke informally, almost causally, to the not-quite-yet-Americans. Small US flags were distributed. A representative from the board of elections passed out registration forms and explained how to fill them out. The forms could be filled, she told the group, but not signed until they were US Citizens. It wouldn’t be long.

ncitizens03With the judge’s entry, things had become a bit more formal but no more somber. Judge Stephanie Bowman and other officials went through some scripted exchanges to establish the eligibility of those present for citizenship. Then the uplifting began. Each applicant stood and announced their name and nation of birth. Some voices were loud and firm; Others softer and maybe a little timid. Some spoke as if English was the only language they had ever known and in many cases that was true. Others spoke with heavy accents that would have made the name they spoke hard to understand even if the name was a familiar one which it often was not. With each unfamiliar name spoken by a foreign sounding voice, the ethnic diversity of the group became more and more apparent and the idea of a melting pot became more and more vivid with the saying of the names of each of those thirty-eight countries. Some, like Togo, Sri Lanka, and Morocco, sounded pretty exotic to me. Others, Canada and Mexico, identified neighbors merely a border away. All were reminders that lots of people from lots of places believe that United States citizenship is highly desirable and worth more than a little effort to obtain.

ncitizens05The day’s only truly solemn occasion followed. The Oath of Allegiance marks the magic moment when those not born a US citizen become one. It combines a promise to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America” with the renouncing of any and all previously held allegiance. It’s nothing to be taken lightly and no one did as those sixty-five voices recited it in unison. Then the new Americans and everyone else in the room recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

ncitizens06ncitizens04The official bits were over. One at a time, the newly minted citizens went to the front of the room to get their certificate and maybe take a few pictures with the judge. My friend Clyde was among the last to go up and used the time to sign his voter registration. He would hand it to the lady from the board of elections on the way out. I don’t know for a fact that everyone did the same but I have the impression that they did. I believe that the USA got sixty-five new active voters that day.

Clyde had almost missed the big day. There is one naturalization ceremony per month in Cincinnati. On the day he passed his citizen ship test, Clyde had been told that the April ceremony was full and he would be scheduled for the one in May. He came home on Thursday and collected the day’s mail. It was tossed on a table with the intention of dealing with it in the morning. On the way to bed about 11:00, Clyde decided to open that one official looking envelope. In it was a letter telling him that he’d made the April group after all. He needed to be downtown at the federal courthouse by 8:30 the next morning. He obviously made it but that’s cutting it a little close.

Trip Peek #30
Trip #71
Thanksgiving 2008

pvd10This picture is from my 2008 Thanksgiving trip. It was my fourth and last (so far) Thanksgiving Escape Run. I believe it was the first trip on which I got serious about traveling the Dixie Highway and I followed it all the way from the Ohio River to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The estate was decorated for Christmas and that’s what is in the picture.

Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.