Something Abe Said

rvtroybSomewhere in my memory was the knowledge that Abraham Lincoln had uttered the words “this cruel war”. I thought it might be something I could fit into my post on the blog by that name so I did some searching. Abe used the phrase more than once and he was not the only one to use it. In the end I didn’t reference any Lincoln quote in that post but I did find some. I’m going to use one here to produce an asynchronous blog post that involves neither a trip I’ve taken nor something I’ve owned. Here’s what Lincoln said in a November 21, 1864, letter to Col. William F. Elkins:

We may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing its end. It has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood. . . .
It has indeed been a trying hour for the Republic; but I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless.

rvtroycThere is a discussion of the quote’s authenticity here. The photos are of Seward Johnson’s colossal Return Visit displayed this summer in Troy, Ohio.

Trip Peek #34
Trip #32
IL 66 Run

pv20This picture is from my 2005 Illinois 66 Run trip. The three day outing started with an early morning wet drive to Indianapolis that led to a somewhat drier drive to the Luna Cafe in Mitchell, Illinois, to connect with a group of Route 66 fans to drive to Springfield, Illinois. Pre-planned activities more or less ended with an overnight in Springfield but a portion of the group continued north the next day and that is when the picture was taken. It shows some of the remnants of a bridge that once carried US 66 over Salt Creek near Lincoln, Illinois.

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.

Behind My Back

A couple of weeks ago, the amount of miscellany filling my life prompted two posts: Much Miscellany and Much Miscellany 2 Sloopy at 50. I don’t often appear in my own posts and I didn’t appear in either of those. I did, however appear in the posts of others — sorta.

bmbcffcff15-03One of the activities in the first Much Miscellany post was the Cincinnati Film Festival. My post included a photo of producer Daryl Sledge and comedian/actress Rain Pryor during the opening night Q&A. That’s the first picture to the right. The other pictures is from the festival’s Facebook page showing that they were keeping an eye on me that night.

sloopy03bmbucafThe second Much Miscellany post covered a Rick Derringer concert held as part of the Union City Arts Festival. It seems they were also keeping me in sight. The first picture is one I took of the band and the second is one from that festival’s Facebook page. I don’t know whether I’m being stalked or if both festivals simply had photographers with really bad luck.

Halving the Remainder

htrvnhmThere are currently six US states I have not visited. Over the next week or so I expect to cut that in half. Three of the six, Alaska, Hawaii, and North Dakota, are going to take a fair amount of planning and effort to reach and I don’t know when or even, with any certainty, if that will happen. The others, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, are much closer to me as well as to each other and I have just started a drive that should get me to the capitals of all three over the next several days. I have no meticulously prepared route or schedule but I know roughly where I’m going and have a few stops in mind.

The journal for the trip is here. This entry is to let blog subscribers know of the trip and to provide a place for comments.

On the Road

mbp_01In addition to a film festival, visiting ships, a new mile marker, and the country’s biggest Octoberfest (which I’ve yet to attend this year), this week included a parade in the nearby city of Mason as part of its bicentennial celebration. I managed to see the entire parade but it wasn’t all that easy. There is a long walk as well as a long story behind the picture at right.

By the time I started for Mason following the pancake breakfast at the condo clubhouse, the parade route had long been blocked off. I thought I might be able to drive closer to the parade start than to its end so that’s where I headed. My thinking was correct and I parked within half a mile of the point of beginning. It was almost close enough. The parade started promptly at 10:00 when I was still a couple of blocks away. I immediately went into high-speed pursuit mode (i.e., a brisk walk with a few cut corners) but only started closing in on the lead entry as the parade neared its point of ending.

mbp_02Of course that lead entry carried the parade’s Grand Marshal to whose identity I had not a clue and neither, as far as I can tell, does the internet. The distance from my parked car to the parade end point was about a mile with the “high-speed” parade route portion accounting for about two-thirds of that. A nice, though unplanned, workout.

mbp_04mbp_03The Mason High School Marching Band was not far behind. They quite reasonably had a two song repertoire for the parade and it had cycled several times during my pursuit and overtaking. One song I can’t remember and one song I can’t forget. For the second consecutive Saturday, I got to hear Hang on Sloopy live.

mbp_07mbp_08mbp_09mbp_10In the interest of time, I’m going to forego any pretense of posting a representative set of photos. Instead, here, without explanation or justification, are a few I just like.

mbp_11When your city is ten or twenty times your age, you can jump — repeatedly — for joy at the birthday party. I’m sure they could have caught up with the Grand Marshal before the second verse of Sloopy.

On the Roadside

onrm01This is the elsewhere I was referring to when mentioning that I couldn’t be On the Waterfront Wednesday. The Ohio National Road Association unveiled three new interpretive panels this week but this it the only one of the events I was able to attend. That was lucky in one sense as both an interpretive panel and a new mile marker were unveiled in Reynoldsburg on Wednesday. By the time the speeches began, the crowd had grown to about twice the size of the group in the photo.

onrm02That’s Reynoldsburg-Truro Historical Society Vice President Dick Barrett speaking in the photo at left. Mike Peppe, on Dick’s right, and Dean Ringle, on his left, had already delivered short speeches as had Reynoldburg Mayor Brad McCloud. Mike is Chairman of the Ohio National Road Association Signage Committee and Dean heads up the ONRA’s Mile Marker Project. Dean is also a former president of the ONRA.

onrm04onrm03Mayor McCloud assisted Dean in lifting the cover from the new mile marker then helped Mike unwrap the new panel. This is the sixth of ten new mile markers being installed where the originals are missing or too much deteriorated to be repaired. The ONRA’s website lists twenty-five interpretive panels but the most recently listed is over a year old. I believe Mike stated this was the sixty-third.

onrm05onrm2014The original National Road mile markers in Ohio were made of sandstone, limestone, or even an early form of concrete. The new ones are white granite. The new markers duplicate the originals in terms of size, shape, and the information on their face. To distinguish the new from the old, the new markers have the year 2014 carved low on their backs.

onrm272onrm271onrm267While chatting with Dean after the unveiling, I realized that it would be possible to pass all of the other five granite markers without going terribly out of my way as I drove home. I set out to do just that but got off to a horrible start. The first I would pass was also the first installed. Mile marker 260 had been put in place in December. I already knew that and had halfheartedly looked for it on a previous visit to Columbus. I had not found it but wasn’t very confident that I was looking in the right place so wasn’t at all concerned. This time I was pretty sure I was looking in the right place but still did not see it. I even, despite the rush hour traffic, made two passes. The next one, 264, I spotted but got no photograph. Now the traffic convinced me save a retry for another day. As you can see, I had better luck with the remaining three. In reality, it probably wasn’t luck at all but the fact that reduced traffic allowed me to actually look.

On the Waterfront

rsrs01It was another full week in southern Ohio. The Cincinnati Film Festival continued and I caught a few more screening on board the Showboat Majestic. As she was being put to use for the first time in nearly two years, the wonderful old floating theater had some company. For three days, a ship from World War II was docked about a hundred yards down river from the Majestic and replicas of ships from an even earlier time parked a little upstream on the opposite bank for the entire duration of the festival. I eventually got to see all the waterborne visitors.

rsrs02rsrs03On Monday, I parked near the Majestic and walked over the Roebling Suspension Bridge for half-priced mac & cheese at Keystone Grill. There was hardly anyone at LST 325 when I passed her and I could have walked right on in. I foolishly decided to wait until I came back. The picture of the ship was taken from the Roebling. The Showboat Majestic can be seen just beyond her bow and sharp eyes may be able to make out the Nina and Pinta replicas over her bridge. By the time I ate and returned, there was a bit of a line but it wasn’t bad. It was time, however, for the first movie to start. Had I known it would start nearly an hour late, I’d have climbed abourd the old war ship. As it was, I walked around the showboat, including a rare visit to the unused balcony, while technical issues were worked through.

rsrs04I returned to the riverfront a little earlier on Tuesday with intentions of seeing both floating displays. I headed first to the Kentucky side of the river where those sailing ships were docked. The picture at the top of this post was taken then and, as you can see, both ships were fairly well occupied. School buses were parked near by and the dock area was crowded with students waiting their turn to board. I headed back to Ohio where more buses and a long line prompted me to delay my LST visit, too. I moved on to Smale Park and checked out the lower lever garden/playground. I took some pictures that I anticipated using in this post but can see it’s going to be quite big enough without them. I’ll do an entry on the playground someday but for now I’m just posting this single photo of another visitor.

rsrs05rsrs06rsrs07The Nina and Pinta replicas would be in town through Sunday. Not so the USS LST Ship Memorial. It was here for just three days. I’d already blown Monday by walking by and putting off boarding and I would be elsewhere Wednesday. Today was the day. I waited as long as I could then joined the line even though it was only slightly shorter than it had been in the morning. LST 325 has quite a story. Launched near the end of 1942, the LST (Landing Ship, Tank) played a role in the invasions of Sicily and Normandy as well as many other WWII operations before being decommissioned in July of 1946. She was reactivated and supported arctic construction projects between 1951 and 1961. In 1964 she was transferred to Greece where she remained until acquired by USS Ship Memorial, Inc., in 2000. Her permanent dock is in Evansville, Indiana. The three photos show visitors exiting the tank deck, the wheelhouse, and the main deck. One of the sleeping areas can be seen here and there’s a good view of the entire ship here.

rsrs10rsrs09rsrs08On Thursday I again stopped by the sailing ships docked in Newport, Kentucky, and learned that, while a crush of students like what I’d seen on Tuesday occurred every morning, afternoons were fairly calm. I was able to board with no delay. The Nina is nearest the camera in the first picture and the second is the view on her deck facing aft. The third picture is facing the Pinta’s bow from her upper deck. Both ships were hand built in Valenca, Brazil, using 15th century methods. They are quite accurate replicas of the ships Columbus sailed to and from America in 1492 although the modern Pinta is intentionally a little larger than the original. They have no home port as they are on the move ten or eleven months of the year. Check the website to see when you might have a chance to see them. Wheeling and Pittsburgh: Here they come.

Much Miscellany 2
Sloopy at 50

sloopy01Released in the summer of 1965, the McCoys’ version of Hang on Sloopy reached #1 on October 2. A week later, the Ohio State Marching Band performed the song for the first time and, twenty years after that, the Ohio General Assembly adopted it as the state’s official rock song. This last summer, as the song’s 50th birthday approached, the Rolling Stones did a snippet of it during their concert in OSU’s Ohio Stadium. On Saturday, Rick Derringer (nee Zehringer), the McCoy’s guitarist and lead singer performed the hit with his current trio and the full Ohio State Marching Band. Following that, the trio rushed to the singer’s home town for a dinner and concert. I was there for the concert.

sloopy02The concert was part of the second annual Union City Arts Festival. It filled the nicely restored train depot and a new park, along with the area between them. A number of food vendors augmented the many arts and crafts booths. The nearby downtown area joined in and the local museum, which has a permanent display of a few McCoys related items, hosted a memorabilia collection assembled by Rick’s cousin, Mike Zehringer.

sloopy05sloopy04sloopy03After their dinner, which quite a few fans had paid to attend, the band moved to the stage area and poised for a few pictures with the fantastic 1950 Chevrolet parked there. The car is the creation of original McCoys organist Ronnie Brandon and Rick and Ronnie were soon catching up and also posing for a few shots with the car.

sloopy06sloopy07The band opened with a Christianized version of Still Alive and Well then delivered a hard driving two hour show with songs from throughout Derringer’s career. Frankenstein, Free Ride, Real American, and Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo were all played.

sloopy08The song that started it all, Hang on Sloopy, was a special moment with all three surviving McCoys on stage. Keyboardist Ronnie Brandon and the band had parted ways in 1967. Drummer Randy Zehringer (Rick’s brother) developed encephalitis and had quit playing by the early 1970s. Bassist Randy Jo Hobbs died of drug related causes in 1993. I apologize for the blurred picture of Ronnie, Rick, and Randy but it’s the best I have. I got no picture of Randy singing (he did not attempt to play drums) and only a fuzzy one of Ronnie at the organ.

rzc_45Here is a much clearer though somewhat older photo of the three McCoys. It is from sometime around 1964. The bass player in the photo is Dennis Kelly who was replaced by Randy Hobbs when college called.

Much Miscellany

concord01It didn’t start out that way but the week got quite busy toward its end and there were several good candidates for the weekly blog post. I couldn’t pick one or, to be more accurate, I couldn’t throw any away. So, I’ve included them all. Because of timing the last one does get its own entry. The rest appear here.

The picture at right was taken Sunday. It was a beautiful day and, as frequently happens, I found myself cruising east along the Ohio River’s north bank. New Richmond, OH, is a common turn around spot although I’ll sometime go on to cross the river at Maysville, KY, and return on the river’s south side. This time I went all the way to Portsmouth before crossing over. I’ve idly followed the river to Portsmouth before but I guess I’ve always headed home through Ohio. I wasn’t expecting to come upon the town in the photo but it looked familiar and I soon realized why. I’d been here before, arriving, quite intentionally, from the west. The reason? This is Concord, KY, where the very first episode of the Route 66 TV series was filmed.

concord02concord03I drove through the town and found it even emptier than I had in 2008. Just before I drove on, I used my phone to snap that opening picture and post it to Facebook where it got a few comments from Route 66 fans. That would likely have been the end of it had not Route 66, co-star Martin Milner (Tod Stiles) died the very next day. He was 83 and died quietly at home. His passing prompted this post using a couple of pictures from Sunday to help with an after the fact “update” of my first visit to Concord. The first picture is of the lawn that Ed was mowing when I first saw him. I took the house to be where he and Johnny lived. On Sunday, there was a cluster of old chairs near it just as there had been in 2008 but today they were all empty with no hints as to when they were last occupied. The second picture shows the building that had the newspaper article in the window in 2008. There was no article this time and unidentified items were stacked against the inside of the windows. There was a handwritten “CLOSED” but I’ve no idea whether it was for the day or forever. Of course, Milner’s passing also brought back memories of the only time I ever met him. It was in 2003 at my very first Route 66 festival. The meeting was brief (It was an autograph session.) but he was quite friendly and readily agreed to a photo which someone (I think it was his daughter.) took with my camera. Communication was less than perfect and somewhere I have an 8 x 10 glossy signed “To Benny”.

lft03lft02lft01Even before he finished the full-sized working replica of the Civil War era steam locomotive Leviathan, Dave Kloke realized that his dream of using it to recreate the 1865 journey of Abraham Lincoln’s body from Washington, DC, to Springfield, IL, would not come true. Having the old style technology share tracks with modern diesel powered trains just wasn’t feasible. However, the big engine and an exact replica of the funeral car that carried Lincoln home are visiting many of the cities that were on the 1865 route including Troy, Ohio. That’s where I was Thursday afternoon to see the train on the first of its four days in town. Take a peek inside the cab and car here and here and visit the train’s website here.

The train is in the background of the third photo. In the foreground is a 30 foot tall version of Seward Johnson’s Return Visit. Visitors to Gettysburg, PA. will likely have seen the life-sized original in front of the Wills house where Lincoln put the finishing touches on a certain speech. Troy has displayed various Seward Johnson sculptures in the past and is the first to display the giant Return Visit. It has been there all summer (Here‘s a picture I took about a month ago.) and will remain through October.

cff15-01cff15-02cff15-03Thursday evening saw the opening of the ten day Cincinnati Film Festival. I’ll admit to being almost as interested in the venue (The Carnegie) as the program. Apparently not many were interested in either or — more likely — hadn’t heard about it. A couple of the speakers mentioned an audience of thirty-five and I think they were just about right. There was only one film screened on this night but it was preceded by about half a dozen local female comedians and the movie’s star, Rain Pryor. After the showing of of That Daughter’s Crazy, Rain (Richard’s daughter) and producer Daryl Sledge fielded questions from the audience. The movie was quite good and the unfiltered Q&A very informative.

cff15-06cff15-05cff15-04Friday night’s venue had me even more excited. This was my first time on the Show Boat Majestic since attending one of the final shows there in 2013 and the first, as far as I know, she has been used since that run ended. Here‘s a full view of her. Attendance was even poorer than the previous night with no more than ten audience members for either of the two films shown. Three films were scheduled but that was cut to two because of equipment problems. Searching for Home tells the stories of veterans damaged by war and various healing and coping methods. The Battle Buddy Foundation is one of the organizations featured in the excellent film and co-founder Kenny Bass, along with his battle buddy Atlas, was on hand to answer questions after the screening. That’s Kenny in the middle with his wife on his right and his brother Jon Campbell, also a Battle Buddy co-founder, on his left. The second film, Bad Moon Rising, was a Japanese language drama with English sub-titles. It was entertaining but not easy to follow. A Q&A session with actress Chihiro Seko and festival director Kat Steele followed.

Blog View
This Cruel War
Eric Swanger

tcw_bannerThis is about an active blog. The blog is a long way from done so this can’t be a review and it has already started so this can’t be a preview . I guess this is simply a “view” — and a recommendation.

I have never met Eric Swanger although I’ve known him, in an internet sort of way, for many years. We share some interests, like old roads, music, and photography, but Eric manages to make each of these hobbies his own. Take old roads. Eric has crossed the United States and ridden Route 66 on a Vespa. Music? He’s a punk rock maven who has had at least two music related blogs. As for photography, Eric likes old and odd — sometimes really old and very odd — film cameras. He develops the film himself. Except, of course, for the Polaroids. The currently running Load Film in Subdued Light is his photography blog.

We both like history but Eric isn’t even the least bit casual about it. Like many others, he has a deep interest in the American Civil War and, also like others, he focused a lot of attention on it during its just ended sesquicentennial. He wasn’t the only one publishing a Civil War blog during the last few years nor was he alone in doing it daily. It was in the breadth of his coverage and the depth of his analysis that set him apart. When Civil War Daily Gazette first appeared, I expected it to have a few borrowed headlines and a picture or two on most days. I sure was wrong in a very good way. From Abraham Lincoln’s election in November of 1860 through Andrew Johnson’s May 1865 offer of amnesty, the Gazette presented a collection of each day’s events and did an admirable job of tying them together and putting them in context.

The subtitle of the Civil War Daily Gazette was the very accurate “A Day-By-Day Accounting of the Conflict, 150 Years Later”. As much as I was surprised by the range and quality of that accounting, I was even more surprised by an after-the-fact revelation. Gazette posts were not just informative, insightful, and witty. They were truly “fair and balanced”. The times when I thought I sensed any north or south leaning in an article were extremely rare and (here’s the big surprise) were wrong. Apparently those imagined slants were more the result of my own prejudices than those of the writer. Only after the Gazette‘s run ended and This Cruel War‘s framework put in place, did I realize that Eric had begun the Gazette as a fan of the south and a self-identified Neo-Confederate. It was a jolt but a jolt that made what I had been reading for four and a half years even more impressive.

The subtitle of This Cruel War is “An Evidence-Based Exploration of the American Civil War, Its Causes, and Repercussions”. I have no doubt that is every bit as accurate as the Gazette‘s subtitle and want to draw particular attention to the phrase “Evidence-Based”. The blog’s launch day post, “History — Not Heritage Not Hate (A Preface)”, points out that history and heritage, though often used interchangeably, are two very different things. This Cruel War is all about history — and accuracy. A huge percentage of what floats around the internet is pretty much the exact opposite of “Evidence-Based”. There is no question that emotions and misinformation played a role in the Causes of the war. That is a sad truth about virtually every war. What’s sadder is that emotions and misinformation continue to play a role in our understanding of the Causes of the American Civil War.more than a century and a half later. I’m really looking forward to that “Evidence-Based Exploration”.

I learned of Eric’s pro-south past and conversion through the new blog’s About the Author page. The story it tells is not entirely unique. Although I have never bought into “the South was right” line of thinking, I can still see a little of myself in his story in terms of what I once shrugged off as misguided but harmless. I’m guessing that it is obvious that the recommendation I mentioned in the opening paragraph is that everyone go back and read This Cruel War from its recent (Aug 24) beginning and follow it to the end although I have no idea when or where that will be (and I doubt Eric does either). An even stronger recommendation, and one that is much easier to follow, is that everyone at least read that About the Author page. Not only did I learn some things about the author from it but I also learned acknowledged some things about myself.