Annie’s (Parade is) Back

aop16aLast year what was said to be lack of interest but which can probably better be described as lack of agreement sidelined the Annie Oakley Days Parade in Greenville, Ohio. This year it was back and seemed to be just as popular and nearly as big as it ever was. The return of the parade was announced quite some time ago and right before my last visit to Greenville, some six weeks ago, it was announced that the Grand Marshalls would once again be relatives of mine. Several years ago a cousin and her husband had filled the roles. This year it would be an aunt and uncle.

aop16baop16cShortly after the color guard swung around the corner and the parade started down Broadway, the Grand Marshalls rolled by in a white carriage. Uncle Dean and Aunt Arlene had their youngest grandsons with them but Sam and Charlie weren’t really into that smiling and waving thing. They did, however, keep a sharp lookout on both sides of the carriage to prevent any and all surprise attacks.

aop16dKatie Hurd, Miss Annie Oakley for 2016, won her title the old fashioned way — with a gun. Contestants didn’t attempt to gun each other down but, like the real Annie Oakley, demonstrated their shooting skill by firing at a target. The shooting starts at 25 feet and the distance is increased until only one shooter hits the baloon target baloon. That happened at 100 feet. Hurd wears two sashes because she also won this year’s Best Costume competition.

aop16eaop16faop16gMany local businesses supported and participated in Saturday’s parade. There were also plenty of cars. The Darke County Jeepsters are personal favorites. Their matching red vehicles appear in many parades. The parade also contained quite a few Shriner units.

aop16hIt’s certainly fitting that Buffalo Bill Cody rides in Annie’s parade. The long association that the two had benefited them both greatly.

My Wheels – Chapter 21
1979 Chevrolet G10

chevvanThere are surely better pictures of this van around but this was all I could find as I wrote this post. It was my first new vehicle and one of only two that were custom ordered. A friend who worked at a dealer in Cincinnati handled the order. It had a 305 CI V8, 3-speed automatic, air-conditioning, cruise control, and no interior. By no interior I mean it had a basic driver’s seat and nothing else. I stopped on the way home from picking up the van and bought a pair of “captain’s chairs”. I sold the single stock seat back to the dealer for a few dollars.

chevvan1I clipped that opening shot from the photo at left. I’m helping my sons with a Christmas present so it must be late December which makes the van, delivered in September, just a few months old. The “conversion” may have started but I’m sure it had not progressed very far. Fletcher did eventually solo and so did Cris.

Calling what I did to the van a conversion stretches the definition of the word a bit. I covered the floor with plywood and the walls and ceiling with cheap paneling. That paneling went over scraps of insulation retrieved from a furnace manufacturer’s dumpster. Four inches of foam on a raised platform in the back served as a bed. I never did get around to carpeting the interior but that was probably for the best. Another thing I never got around to was seat-belts. The factory seat had a belt attached that went away with the seat. Mounting belts to the replacements was not recommended. What was supposed to be used were extra long belts bolted to the floor. That never happened.

This was a recreational vehicle. It made several camping trips to the Smokies and other nearby spots. It made one trip to Missouri and another to San Diego. In 1982 it attended the Knoxville World’s Fair.

At the time of the World’s Fair trip, all three kids were living with me full time. We were going on to visit friends in Alabama after our one day at the fair so the boys’ bicycles were hung on a rack on the front and the girl’s tricycle was stowed inside. The daughter and youngest son spent the night before in the van to avoid the need to wake up for the early morning departure. We had a great time at the fair although some of us got exhausted quicker than the others. Megan and I spent the last part of the day on a bench while the brothers ran around getting stamps on their fair passports. We were all exhausted by the time we reached a campground south of Knoxville. We were also pretty dirty from the hot day and looking forward to showers. That’s when we discovered we had no towels. Well, most of us had no towels. Only Fletcher had remembered this most important item (Douglas Adams would have been proud of him.) and after he had showered and dried the rest of us did the best we could with the no longer dry Star Trek beach towel.

In 1983 or ‘4 the van entered a new phase in its life. I attended my first of thirteen consecutive Indianapolis 500s in 1981. It was with a group who had several years experience camping at the track and charging into the infield on race morning. Parts of that charge resembled a demolition derby so most of the vehicles used were confirmed beaters. From its time as camper and all purpose transporter, the Chevy van had more than its ahare of dings and scratches but was not yet a beater when it was pressed into service as an Indy car. After a few years, I fully embraced the van’s participation in the annual event and built a deck on its top. Standing atop vehicles to watch the race was standard procedure and the deck made that easier and safer. The deck was made of something like 2x8s on edge and screwed to the gutters with plywood across the top.

I think it might have been the same year that the deck went on that the ignition went sour. A friend removed the ignition switch from the dash and ran new wire to it. It dangled from the dash and worked just fine. Track officials seemed to come up with a new rule or two every year and after several years with the sturdy deck in place, they decided it had to be removed. At that point there was only one person riding with me and, with screwdrivers and a hammer, the two of us ripped the deck off as quickly as we could.

The dangling ignition switch eventually gave out and I replaced it with two wall switches. One turned on the ignition and the other operated the starter. It was a pretty good anti-theft device although the possibility of any one stealing the van at this point was awfully slim. A blown freeze plug interrupted our last drive together. I nursed it home where it sat until a trade opportunity came along.

Trip Peek #42
Trip #27
High Speed Privies

pvd12This picture is from my 2004 High Speed Privies day trip. This wasn’t the most spontaneous trip I’ve ever taken but it’s close. The destination was Penn’s Store which, despite it being the oldest continuously operated family store in the country, I first heard of just three days before heading there. The occasion was the commemoration of the store getting its first outhouse. That was in 1992. The store is known to have existed at least as early as 1845. The annual celebration is called the Great Outhouse Blowout and includes. along with plenty of music, outhouse races. Racing, unlike other outhouse activities, involves teams and lots of cheering.


Trip 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 associated trip journal.

Trip Peek #41
Trip #5
T2Tampa

pv3This picture is from my 2001 T2Tampa trip. The trip was an attempt to retrace a trip that my great-grandparents made in a Ford Model T in 1920. The picture is of the remains of a Florida sugar mill, established in 1830, that my grand-parents visited in 1920 and which were still an attraction in 2001 and even on my most recent visit in 2012. It was a great trip and unquestionably one of my most memorable but it is almost embarrassing to look back and realize just how little I knew about old roads. The route, pieced together from my great-grandmother’s letters and my shallow knowledge of 1920s highways, ran from Ohio, to Tampa and Miami in Florida, then back home through Washington, DC. As enjoyable as it was, it tops the list of trips I’d like to do again because I think I could plot a more accurate route and I know I would look at things with a more appreciative eye.


Trip 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 associated trip journal.

My Wheels – Chapter 20
1972 Audi 100 LS

audi100My friends had a red one that really impressed me. They were antique dealers and the car had been part of an exchange involving furniture. “If another deal like that ever comes along”, I told them, “I’ll take it.” It did and I did.

That red Audi 100 LS was a two-door automatic. I think it was a year or two newer than the white four-door four-speed that I bought after it was swapped for an armoire. It was the build quality as much as anything that impressed me about the Audis. I commented more than once that it felt like the car was built by people who thought they might have to ride in it someday. The photo is from the internet. That’s not my car but it’s close. The only obvious differences are the fog lights and wide European style license plate area.

The car came with two invisible flaws. The first was a failing second gear synchronizer which, although it couldn’t be seen with eyes, was instantly apparent with a drive. Surprisingly, perhaps, it was almost instantly relegated to a mere inconvenience. Matching engine and gear speed was actually quite easy. With a brief pause in neutral and a restrained throttle blip, a shift to second was usually completed without even double-clutching. It quickly became second nature to me. The other flaw appeared infrequently but was much more than an inconvenience and was, at least indirectly, involved in the Audi’s demise.

The issue was carburetor icing. Under the right conditions, something in the carburetor would freeze and prevent the car from running. There were only a few time that this behavior left me stranded but, since those right conditions consisted mostly of wet and cold, the strandings made an impression. I can’t claim that my sources were all that reliable but, after some consulting and reading, I came to believe that the cause of my troubles was a warped plate in the carburetor. This was known to occur now and then and trigger the symptoms I was seeing. Whatever it was I was reading indicated that replacing the factory unit with a Weber was the thing to do.

The Weber carb and some other bits had to be ordered which in those days meant snail mail in both directions. I half recall starting the installation then delaying it to get one more connector or something but the swap was eventually made and the car ran fine but not for long.

audiwreckIt’s not at all clear to me what happened but, as is obvious from the photo, it wasn’t good. That really is my car. The official story is that I was drunk and lost control. I also lost my license for several months. I don’t dispute the official story but neither can I confirm it.

What I remember is this. I finished the carburetor swap and set out for a test drive. I stopped at a bar, had one drink, and left for home. I came to in a hospital emergency room. The police dropped me off at home.

Friends I had chatted with at the bar confirmed that I had left after one drink. The location of the wreck was between the bar and my home but not on the most direct route. My blood alcohol level was above the limit though not by much. It’s possible that I stopped at another bar, had another drink — or more — and was headed home from that second stop. It’s also possible that I didn’t take the shortest path home because I was trying out the new carb and that the one drink, scotch & ice, was responsible for my BAC. Even though mentioning it may seem like excuse hunting, it’s possible that something in the newly connected throttle linkage failed and contributed to the accident.

I’ll never know for sure what happened but I will forever be thankful that no one else was involved and that the only damage was to me, my car, and a little landscaping.

Trip Peek #40
Trip #25
Bi Byways

pv15This picture is from my 2004 Bi Byways trip. The two byways involved were the Miami and Erie Canal Scenic Byway and the Maumee Valley Byway. On the first day I drove the full length of OH-66 which includes the entire Miami and Erie Canal Scenic Byway. The second day was filled with driving the Maumee Valley Byway then getting home from northern Ohio. I got to ride a canal boat on both days. Both were on what are now very disconnected segments of the Miami and Erie Canal. The first ride took place near Piqua, Ohio, and the second near Toledo. The photo was taken on the second day as the boat approached a working lock which we would actually pass through.


Trip 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 associated trip journal.

Trip Peek #39
Trip #89
Following Jims

pvd20This picture is from my 2010 Following Jims day trip. The name comes from the fact that the trip’s structure came partially from a recent Jim Grey trip and partially from a book written by Jim Lilliefors. The trip covered a chunk of US-50 in southern Indiana. The pictured bridge, which Jim Grey made me aware of. once carried the US Highway. It was demolished in 2013. In finding the answer to a question from a previous trip, I learned about an old brewery and later visited a new brewery that is reviving the name. I ate at a cool diner and ended the day with a concert that had actually been the impetus for the trip.


Trip 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 associated trip journal.

Alaska

alaskamapWhen I posted a prelude to this trip (which I called Alaska) in the journal, I noted that I might come up with a clever name before I actually hit the road. Now you can see how that went. But, even without a clever name, I’ve completed and posted the journal for the first day of what promises to be the longest, in both time and distance, of any road trip I’ve taken. I’ve little doubt that, somewhere along the way, the route I follow will vary from the one in the map at right but what’s shown is what I intend and what I actually do should be close. The route shown is over 9,000 miles without side trips or missed turns. DeLorme estimates driving time for the shown route at about 200 hours. At the time of posting this I have no schedule but have been calling it a six week trip when asked. Two weeks to Alaska, two weeks there, and two weeks to home seems reasonable but I’ve made no commitments this side of Labor Day and only tentative ones beyond.

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.

Book Review
The Jefferson Highway
Lyell D. Henry Jr.

tjh_cvrIn its preface, Lyell D. Henry Jr. suggests that this book is something of a compromise. The reason is that he once set out to write about every detail of the Jefferson Highway and the association behind it. That’s a lot of details and, especially with no known central source for records or maps, a formidable task. Henry says he “…settled on writing a book that would open with a general accounting of JHA’s early pursuit of the entire highway but then narrow its focus to the highway through Iowa.” The Jefferson Highway: Blazing the Way from Winnipeg to New Orleans is indeed a book of two parts. The first four chapters cover the history of the organization responsible for the entire highway; The last three tell the story and describe the route of the road in Iowa. The scale may be less and the focus may be narrower than what Henry once had in mind but, within that narrowed focus, there is certainly no detectable compromising of accuracy or completeness.

The Jefferson Highway was one of the more significant named auto trails of the early twentieth century. The association promoting it was created in November of 1915 and the highway, like all named auto trails, effectively ceased to be when the Numbered US Highways were established in November of 1926. A modern day Jefferson Highway Association formed in 2011.

The featured players in those first four chapters are men at the top of the Jefferson Highway Association. Men like its founder, Edwin T. Meredith, its first General Manager, James D. Clarkson, and a few others. Likewise, the routeing discussions and decisions presented are those affecting the basic overall course of the highway. Particularly with this being the first book written on the Jefferson Highway in many decades, I thought this a sensible approach. Other leaders and other decisions certainly played important roles in specific states or regions and many that affected Iowa are discussed in the last three chapters. Henry writes that he hopes others will undertake similar projects for the other seven Jefferson Highway states in the near future. When they do, the first four chapters of this book could serve as a foundation. As someone without much knowledge of this highway’s history, I saw them as a sort of JH primer.

The second portion of the book is organized as a north to south driving tour with tales of the various routeings and the points of interest beside them woven into the driving directions. There is no denying that one reason Henry writes about Iowa is that it is his home but it is a very reasonable choice for other reasons as well. JHA founder Edwin T. Meredith was an Iowan and the crossing of the Jefferson and Lincoln Highways at Colo, Iowa, gave the state as good a claim as any to being the “Crossroads of America”.

I’ll readily confess that few of the mileage measurements or specific turning instructions really registered with me as I read those last three chapters but I know they will be invaluable when I someday set out to drive the Jefferson Highway. That doesn’t mean those chapters were boring or should be skipped. Descriptions of the many small towns along the way are certainly interesting and Henry provides quite a bit of road and roadside history, too. An example that I particularly enjoyed was learning, for the first time despite driving through it a few times on the Lincoln, just how Iowa’s “Crossroads of America” escaped becoming the “Cloverleaf of America”.

The book is well illustrated with black and white photographs and drawings. Some of the photos are historic but many, particularly in the three “road tour” chapters are quite recent. A majority of these, though far from all, were taken by current JHA treasurer, Scott Berka.

There were hundreds of named auto trails when numbered highway made them all obsolete. Some were little more than a line on a map and some were outright scams. Without question, the JHA was one of what the outfit responsible for those numbers, the American Association of State Highway Officials, called “reputable trail associations”. It’s good to see it getting some twenty-first century literary attention.


Diggin’ the Dan

tdwktm01You’ve probably seen those “I MAY BE OLD, BUT I’VE SEEN ALL THE GOOD BANDS!” T-shirts. I’m pretty sure I could get away with wearing one but I won’t for two big reasons. One is the implication that “all the good bands” have come and gone which is just not true. There are good bands emerging every day and I intend to see some of them, too. The second reason is that, even if I limit the field to bands of my g-g-g-generation, there were plenty I missed and that includes, even though I quote them, The Who. I also missed The Doors, Cream, and, until last Tuesday, Steely Dan. That’s when they opened the main leg of their “Dan Who Knew Too Much” tour at Cincinnati’s Riverbend Music Center. Sure, it wasn’t the Skunk Baxter, Denny Dias, Jim Hodder Steely Dan. That particular good band has indeed come and gone. But the thirteen piece that Fagan and Becker fronted down by the river was for darn sure another good band and one that I did get to see.

swrb02swrb01swrb03Back in the day I also missed the The Spencer Davis Group, Blind Faith, and Traffic and I got to make up for just a little bit of that on Tuesday, too. Steve Winwood, a member of all those groups, opened the show and managed to work in tunes from all three as well as from his solo career. He delivered most of those songs from behind his Hammond B-3 but occasionally stepped out to put his considerable guitar skills to use. It’s hard to imagine a better way to get this show started.

tdwktm03tdwktm02As you’d expect, Donald Fagan did most of the Steely Dan lead vocals with Walter Becker taking over for Daddy Don’t Live In That New York City No More and the three female backup singers doing an outstanding round-robin job on Dirty Work. Those female voices were an important part of the mix throughout the concert.

tdwktm04A four piece horn section was another key part of getting close to that “just like the record” sound. Jon Herington handled most of the lead guitar work with Becker playing behind him. But Becker did get his licks in here and there including some sterling solo work in Josie. Fagan stood to play melodica (I think) on a couple of songs but stayed at the electric piano most of the night. Behind him, Jim Beard took care of a lot of the keyboard work. Bassist Freddie Washington and drummer Keith Carlock complete the band.

tdwktm05For me, Carlock was a surprise bonus. I’d done no homework for the concert and had never heard of Keith Carlock although he has played with Steely Dan since 2003 and has plenty of other impressive credits, too. My time as a mediocre drummer helps me recognize good ones. I was impressed immediately and in awe after just a few songs. My take is that he plays with the finesse of a jazz drummer (think Buddy Rich) and the power of a rock drummer (think Max Weinberg) and that’s pretty much what Steely Dan needs.

I learned a little about Carlock at breakfast the next day. Half Day Cafe is a great breakfast spot that I manage to reach a few times each year. I don’t know why I picked Wednesday for one of those times but I did and it makes a fine morning after story.

I walked in and sat at the counter. Behind it three employees were chatting and laughing but quickly stopped and turned their attention to me. “Don’t let me ruin the punchline”, I joked. They laughed and one said, “Oh, we were just talking about the concert.” She pointed to the employees on either side and explained, “They went to see Steely Dan last night:” Of course I said “Me too” and got back “So did they” with a motion toward the couple in a booth behind me. The exchange of random memories — all positive — was on.

One of the concert attendees was a Cafe server who is also a drummer in a successful local band. He is a long time Keith Carlock fan and filled me in on some of Carlock’s history. The cafe owner was not at Tuesday’s show but had seen the band multiple times in the past and contributed memories of earlier Steely Dan concerts. Spontaneous fan club meetings are the best.