Trip Peek #24
Trip #44
Labor Day Loop

pv29This picture is from my 2006 Labor Day Loop trip through southern Ohio. I started out tracing the Ohio River eastward to meet some friends in Portsmouth. From there, we visited a couple of blast furnace sites from the Ohio Valley’s heyday as an iron producer. The photo is of the completely restored Buckeye Furnace. Little remains at most sites beyond a stone chimney if that.


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.

Must Be the Season of the Fish

Back in 2011, while traveling in northern Ohio during the month of March, it occurred to me that checking out a Lenten fish fry might be a nice break from eating at establishments practicing commercialism full time. It was and I’ve made a habit of patronizing such operations ever since. This year, for what I believe is the first time, I managed to eat at a Friday Fish Fry during every week of Lent and here they are.

Woodlawn Firefighters Association Fish FryWoodlawn Firefighters Association Fish FryThe first Friday of Lent coincided with the start of Bockfest. I’m thinking that might not be a coincidence but don’t really know. Since the Bockfest Parade was firmly on my schedule, I opted for one of the few fish fries serving in the afternoon. As it turned out, a downtown church operated their fish fry more or less in conjunction with the festival and I could have combined the two but didn’t realize that until it was too late. While I ate my dinner at the Woodlawn Firefighters Association Fish Fry, a large ambulance and a smaller fire truck sitting next the truck in the picture went speeding off to answer a call.

St. John the Evangelist Fish FrySt. John the Evangelist Fish FryThe second week I left home for something some distance away but changed my mind as soon as I pulled into traffic. Congestion prompted me to head for the reasonably near St. John the Evangelist Church in West Chester. I chose the sampler which got me some fried shrimp, a crab cake, and baked fish. I could have had fried fish with my sampler or I could have had just fish, baked or fried. I also could have had pizza. For crying out loud! Pizza? I suppose you could claim that things started down the slippery slope when they started offering non-fried (i.e., baked, grilled, broiled) fish at functions called “Fish Fries” but, to me, at least, that seems to be much more in keeping with the spirit of things than pizza. At least it was cheese pizza which is in line with the “meatless Fridays” concept on which this whole fish fry business is built.

Saint Colman of Cloyne Fish FrySaint Colman of Cloyne Fish FOn week three I drove to Wilmington to meet my friend John with intentions of taking in a fish fry in Lebanon on the way home. When the conversation turned to my fish fry plans, mention was made of very popular one in Washington Court House. Wilmington is roughly midway between my home and Washington Court House which meant that, while it was still several miles away, I was the closest I was likely to be during serving time. I made it to the Saint Colman of Cloyne church with about fifteen minutes to spare. John thought the fry’s fame and popularity came from an abundance of walleye parishioners brought back from the Great Lakes. While that may have once been the case, the big draw currently, in addition to it being an all-you-can-eat affair, is pollock. Apparently it is such a big part of the attraction that they preempt  confrontations when they run out by posting the news on the main entry door. The “Sorry, we’re out of pollock” sign was displayed when I arrived and apparently had been for awhile. The cashier reiterated the absence of pollock and suggested I check out remaining offerings before paying then charged me $5 rather than the advertised $8. All that and a cupcake, too.

St Francis of Assisi Fish FrySt Francis of Assisi Fish FryI would be spending week four’s Friday in Ann Arbor, MI, which meant a little extra research but it sure worked out well. I picked a fish fry within walking distance of my motel for its convenience and lucked into an excellent meal. That salad is from a salad bar. At $2, the add-on clam chowder was a real bargain. There is baked tilapia, mac & cheese, new potatoes, and green beans on the big plate and it was all delicious. And that includes the beans which, unlike the overcooked mush that is all too common, actually had a nice snap. St Francis of Assisi has the best fish fry in the entire state of Michigan AFAIK.

St Columbkille Fish FrySt Columbkille Fish FryWeek five found me back in Wilmington for birthday eve drinks with buddy John which led to this year’s only repeat, St Columbkille. Baked tilapia was on the menu but was at least temporarily in short supply and its consumption was ever so slightly being discouraged. I didn’t mind a bit and enjoyed a more traditional fish fry meal of cod that was actually fried. Cherry pie included.

St Veronica Fish FrySt Veronica Fish FryThis is where I was headed on week number two when the traffic caused me to reconsider. St Veronica is just down the road from Mt Carmel Brewery where I had intended to stop after dinner. Since then, I learned that the taproom now opens at noon on Fridays so I left home earlier, avoided the traffic, and visited the taproom before dinner. This was a good meal and I’m happy that clam chowder is starting to show up more and more. Also showing up more and more are non-fish items like pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches. I believe I actually saw grilled ham & cheese on the menu here but I’ve got no proof so maybe I imagined it. I’d like to think that’t the case.

Knights of Columbus 3908 Fish FryKnights of Columbus 3908 Fish FryPlans with friends meant I couldn’t make a Good Friday fish fry for dinner but I found one that fit my schedule. Lunch at the Knights of Columbus in Erlanger was my only fish fry outing in Kentucky this year although I’ve gone to other locations in the state in the past. Their dinner menu is pretty complete with baked and fried fish along with shrimp, chicken!, and hamburgers!!. The only thing on the lunch menu is the sandwich in the picture but it’s a pretty good sandwich that comes with french fries and hush-puppies for a mere $5. I asked about those Lenten hamburgers and was told they don’t sell many. Maybe one a week to some youngster. Chicken nuggets, however, move rather well. But fish fries aren’t restricted to Lent for this particular K of C council. In addition to being held every Friday during Lent, they hold a fish fry on the first Friday of every month during the rest of the year. Non-Lenten hamburgers sell really well.

Trip Peek #17
Trip #81
US 62’s West End

Cherokee Christmas greetingThis picture is from the my 2009 US 62’s West End road trip. This was my first Christmas Escape Run after retiring and only my second road trip without a schedule dictated by a need to get back to the job. Completing my coverage of US 62 by following it to El Paso Texas had been high on my to-do list for so long that it was almost an automatic pick once time permitted. My typical Christmas break had been nine days; A five day work week bracketed by two weekends. This trip consumed fifteen days including a one day “snow delay” in Altus, Oklahoma. Throwing an extra day into the middle of a trip might have been a real calamity in the past but was hardly an issue for a man no longer employed. Highlights of the trip included visits to Carlsbad Caverns and to the graves of both Buddy Holly and Geronimo. The picture was taken in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Tahlequah is the capital of the Cherokee Nation and the picture is of the words “Merry Christmas” in Cherokee.


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.

HBW2Me

Arnold'sHappy Birth Week to Me. A week that ends on Saturday has to start on Sunday but not much happened Sunday. Monday, however, was a different story. It was Opening Day. With temperatures climbing into the sixties, it was a fine day to start the Reds’ season and really get my birth week rolling. I often visit Arnold’s after the Opening Day Parade but this year decided to start my day there when I learned that Cincinnati’s oldest bar would be tapping several unusual beers at 9:00 and serving breakfast from 9:00 to 11:00. I passed on the early morning beer but did enjoy breakfast in what I believe is Arnold’s only window seat.

Arnold's Opening Day Menuodp2014eArnold’s normally opens at 11:00 with lunch as the first meal of the day. The special breakfast menu was short. Kids under five could have scrambled eggs. Adults had three choices none of which appear on the menu at IHOP. There were hot dogs, for those wanting to get an early start on the ball park diet plus Sausage Gravy Bread Pudding and Geotta Hot Brown. I decided that the Geotta Hot Brown was the most “Cincinnati” of the choices plus, as you can see by the picture, it’s just the thing if you’re planning on running the bases several times later in the day. As I was leaving, sometime after 10:00, I heard a waitress telling new arrivals that the goetta supply had been depleted and that ham was now being substituted. Bummer but technically not a violation of Porkopolis guidelines.

odp201404odp201403odp201402I reached the parade’s Findlay Market starting point well before the noon step-off and was working my way back along the parade route when things began to roll. I was not at a very good vantage point when Grand Marshall Dave Concepción came by but managed an only partially obscured picture. The scene in the last picture is an unusual one. Because of street car construction, the parade, which usually runs straight down Race Street, detoured over to Elm for several blocks which took it right by Music Hall. It is expected to be back on Race next year.

I am aware of a campaign to make opening day a national holiday (or maybe — it is organized by Budweiser — it’s a campaign to sell beer) but I don’t see that happening. The fact that not all teams open the same day is just one of the details bedeviling the idea. It is really immaterial to Cincinnatians since opening day has been a de facto holiday here for decades. Sometimes Reds opening day and my birthday actually do coincide as they did in 2012 when I wrote a little more about opening day history.

The PrecinctSteak Collinsworth at the PrecinctTuesday was nice but windy. As I ate lunch on the patio of a local pizzeria, a strong gust lifted the large umbrella standing unopened in the center of the table and tried to drop it on my head. It missed. Rain arrived Wednesday afternoon but I got in about a 6K walk before it hit. Six kilometers isn’t all that much when there is a bar and a meal at the turnaround point. On Thursday, I bought myself a birthday present and ate it. I finally made it to the Precinct where I devoured what might have been the best steak I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. The only possible exception is a filet I ate at the Pine Club in Dayton but it is only a possibility. More research is needed.

Good times continued on Friday with a few drinks with buddy John in Wilmington and a continuation of this year’s fish fry streak at Saint Columbkille.

On Saturday, my actual birthday, I had to work. Well, maybe not exactly work. OK, not even remotely work. It did, however, involve just about the only thing I do on a regular schedule, live trivia. The team once again qualified for the semi-finals which took place at noon. I really intended to get a picture to include in this post but completely forgot in the heat of competition. The top five teams move on to the finals. We tied for sixth.

Flipdaddy'sGraeter'sSkyline ChiliMy plans for the rest of the day centered around doing nothing. It was a beautiful day, however, with temperature in the fifties so, as soon as I got home, I headed out for a walk. Within a few steps, I came to the realization that I could continue the celebration and not leave the neighborhood. Not only did I personally stay close to home, there’s hope that some of the money I spent will stay nearby as well. I made three stops and all were at regional chains based in Cincinnati. I started with a 4-way at Skyline, had Chocolate Coconut Almond Chocolate Chip for dessert at Graeter’s, then washed it all down with Mount Carmel Amber Ale at Flipdaddy’s. A birthday that was good to the last drop.

Is Paddy Out Of Step?

Cincinnati St Patrick's Day ParadeCincinnati’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade has never been about precision marching. Oh, there are pipe & drum corps that step quite sharply and high school band directors who try to get their charges to all put their left foot forward at the same time but the general atmosphere has typically been one of slightly sloppy fun rather than of practiced drills. Now, however, the parade itself seems to be out of step with most of the country.

Last year Cincinnati made discrimination illegal at any event receiving financial support from the city but it also stopped the practice of absorbing much of the cost (police, cleanup, etc.) associated with the parade. One result was that the local chapter of the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) had their application to participate in the parade denied. There were claims that the denial was due to the group failing to follow rules when they marched in the previous year’s parade but the violations were never exactly specified and not many are buying into the claim. A direct result of the application’s rejection was the boycotting of the parade by several officials and politicians who were scheduled to be part of it.

Cincinnati St Patrick's Day ParadeThis year the Cincinnati St. Patrick Parade Committee denied no applications and no politicians boycotted the parade. Reverting to what they had done sometime in the past, the committee accepted no applications and the parade was filled by invitation only. Other cities weren’t so clever. Organizers of the Boston parade turned down an application from a gay rights group named MassEquality and that led to a boycott by the city’s mayor and a number of other politicians. It also prompted Boston Beer Company, which operates brewing facilities in Cincinnati, to withdraw sponsorship for the parade. For similar reasons, Heineken dropped its sponsorship of New York City’s parade which was also boycotted by the mayor. Cincinnati’s preemptive “you can’t boycott ’cause you’re not invited” move did keep protesters at Saturday’s parade to a quiet and well behaved few. It also caused at least one parade goer to think about the whole Saint Patrick’s Day thing in a different way than ever before.

I first likened the recent events to some sort of bait and switch but soon realized it’s not like that at all. The parade organizers did not create some bit of revelry then take it away. In Cincinnati, the parade has always officially been a “religious procession”. It was the attendees who created the “everybody’s Irish” and, without actually saying it, “everybody’s Catholic” lore. I’m undecided but maybe, if the Catholics simply want their parade back, I’ll let them have it. I’ve a year to decide.

Cincinnati St Patrick's Day ParadeCincinnati St Patrick's Day ParadeCincinnati St Patrick's Day ParadeThis year’s parade had all the normal entries including the statue of Saint Patrick borrowed from some church. It also had really nice weather which is not always the case.

Cincinnati St Patrick's Day ParadeCincinnati St Patrick's Day ParadeI grabbed a couple of overhead shots from atop the same garage as last year. The second picture is of the Pedal Wagon, a human powered arrangement of mobile bar stools. It can be rented by anyone wanting to put the “crawl” back in pub crawl.

Cincinnati St Patrick's Day ParadeThe reviewing stand was near the end of the parade route and that’s where I caught the Delorean Club of Ohio. I counted fifteen cars this year. There are other Saint Patrick’s Day parades in Ohio, including one in a city named Dublin, but Cincinnati is where the state’s population of these Irish built cars come to show off. That has to be an endorsement of some sort.


AHA Heart MiniAHA Heart MiniAHA Heart MiniThe parade was Saturday. I was back downtown on Sunday for the American Heart Association Heart Mini consisting of a 1/2 marathon and several other events. One of those other events was a 10 K walk which I participated in. From near Fountain Square, we walked east on 5th Street  continued on Columbia Parkway, then turned around and walked back.

AHA Heart MiniAHA Heart MiniAHA Heart Mini10K is about six miles which put the turnaround about three miles east of the heart of the city. A 5K walk started at the same time so things were pretty crowded leaving downtown. 5K walkers were definitly in the majority and things thinned out quite a bit at their turnaround about a mile and a half out. I started near the middle but was very near the back at the finish. I typically walk around 3 MPH and that’s about what I did Sunday finishing in slightly over two hours. Most people obviously moved a little faster than that.

Concert Review
Willie Nile
Southgate House Revival

Willie NileWhen Willie Nile‘s American Ride appeared on my road trip oriented radar last spring, I thought his name sounded vaguely familiar but couldn’t really connect it with anything. When I later heard a tune, Vagabond Moon, from his 1980 debut album, it, too, sounded vaguely familiar. I probably did hear both the name and the music thirty years ago but I didn’t hear it enough or pay enough attention for it to stick with me. I’m now realizing that I am certainly the poorer for that and I’m learning that I’m not alone.

I was pretty happy when I first learned that Willie was coming to the Southgate House Revival in Newport, Kentucky. Then, when I found out it would be on Groundhog Day Eve and my plans for the holiday started to form, Willie’s concert got pushed aside. I intended to visit a friend in northern Illinois where another Willie, a groundhog named Woodstock Willie, is the focus of a pretty good party in the town where the movie Groundhog Day was filmed. Then weather forecasts, which turned out to be rather accurate, called for several inches of snow in Illinois and I decided to stay in Ohio which meant I could make the concert and that was a very good thing.

Even after the event was firmly on my agenda, I had no idea that it would compel me to post my first actual concert review. I didn’t have a camera with me and, though I could have tried to grab something with my phone, I did not and resorted to a stock publicity shot to start this post. Fortunately, Kirsten O’Connell shared this photo of the show on Willie’s Facebook page so you can get a glimpse of how things looked.

Thinking I would not be be going, I did no research and had no idea what to expect. I thought it quite possible that it would be a solo show with just Willie and a guitar. Boy, was that ever wrong. Willie took the stage with a topnotch high-powered 4-piece that blew me and the rest of the packed Revival Room away.

There are three performance spaces at SGHR. The Sanctuary is the biggest and there is a stage in the smallish Lounge. The Revival Room is a mid-sized place on the second floor. Yes, SGHR is a re-purposed church; the 1866 Grace Methodist Episcopal Church. How they resisted calling the upstairs venue The Upper Room, I’ll never know. I’ve seen a few shows in the Sanctuary and a couple in the Lounge. This was my first time in the Revival Room and it instantly became my favorite. It held forty-eight folding chairs. There would have been fifty but the middle of five rows was truncated by support posts. Every seat was filled and another thirty or so people stood at the back and along the walls.

The show was riveting from beginning to end. Despite never having seen Willie Nile before and knowing only a few of the songs, I felt right at home. There was a touch of Springsteen and Dylan and Grahm Parker and Lou Reed and Elvis Costello and other rock ‘n’ rollers I can’t exactly name. But it was all Willie Nile. Willie doesn’t bring to mind first tier singer-songwriters because he mimics them but because he is one.

The band was top tier, too. I believe Alex Alexander, who played drums on the American Ride album, has been touring with the group but Larry the Chicago Guy (Sorry, forgot the last name.) is wielding the sticks for a few shows. If that subtracted anything from the performance, it’s hard to imagine what. The group was tight and professional. Matt Hogan’s guitar solos were impressive without being over indulgent and bassist Johnny Pisano got in his own share of fancy licks — and leaps. Hogan and Pisano both appear on American Ride. In addition to looking good and sounding great, it was obvious that all four musicians were enjoying themselves to the max. Nothing impresses me more than an entertainer having fun while delivering quality.

Things mellowed briefly when Willie sat down at an electric piano — after they found the plug — and the band left the stage. The piano is Willie’s first instrument. He performed The Crossing solo then moved onto Love is a Train. One by one, the others returned as the song progressed and before long the train was a rockin’. Apparently a song and a half of mellow is enough for Willie. Other songs I remember were three dedications to musicians the world lost quite recently. Heaven Help The Lonely was dedicated to Phil Everly, One Guitar to Pete Seeger, and a rousing version of Sweet Jane was dedicated to the man who wrote it, Lou Reed. Surprisingly, he did not play American Ride and I did not miss it and I mean that both it not being played and me not missing it were surprises. I don’t mean that I did not notice its absence; I mean that the concert seemed full and complete and satisfying without it.

Early on, Willie let it be known that he thought SGHR was a pretty cool place. He also talked of it being his first time in Kentucky until a fan in the front row reminded him of his 1980 gig opening for The Who in Lexington. Willie smiled at the correction and said he intended to be back again before long. I believe him and I’ll be waiting.


I learned of the song American Ride, first on the radio then in this video, in the week preceding the start of my Lincoln Highway centennial drive. The album had not yet been released but the title song was available as a 99 cent download. I bought the song and had thoughts of it playing as we departed Times Square. I failed at making that happen but, at 7:23 AM on June 22, as we were leaving Manhattan, I did send the following pre-written Tweet:

Leaving New York City with a tank of gas.
Got my bag and my camera, I’m gonna get out fast.

The album was released June 25.

Trip Peek #15
Trip #83
Groundhog Day 2010

Punxsutawney PhilThis picture is from the my 2010 Groundhog Day road trip to see Punxsutawney Phil. I guess this was something of a bucket list item I crossed off on my first February in retirement. On the way, I stopped in Columbus, Ohio, to attend a blues benefit and I worked in some National Road on the way home. In between, I sipped coffee and stamped my feet on Gobbler’s Knob in an effort to stay warm in four degrees while waiting for sunrise. The big moment came, Phil saw his shadow (though I didn’t see mine), and the 10,000+ crowd moaned in unison.

This is the second Trip Pic Peek that I’ve cheated on and did not go with a random selection. The other was Crescent City Christmas that I hand picked for Christmas 2012. When I realized that I would probably be posting something canned this week and that Sunday was actually Groundhog Day, this Trip Pic Peek just seemed right.

Trip Pic Peek # 14 — Trip #31 — OH Lincoln


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.

Cincinnati Christmas Traditions

Among the many interesting pieces of information presented in Cincinnati Museum Center‘s most recent Brown Bag Lecture, “Cincinnati’s Winter Holiday Traditions”, was a listing of the city’s four oldest Christmas traditions.

cintrad014. Duke Energy Holiday Trains – 1946
Duke Energy gave its name to the trains in 2006 when it bought Cinergy Corporation. In 2011, it gave the trains to the museum. Before Cinergy was formed in 1994, the company name was Cincinnati Gas & Electric so these trains spent most of their lives as the CG&E trains and that is still how many people think of them.

cintrad03cintrad02The O gauge layout was originally constructed by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad as a training tool just prior to World War II. It came to Cincinnati in 1946 and for years was displayed in CG&E’s lobby each Christmas season. Today it is the centerpiece of the Cincinnati Museum Center’s Holiday Junction which includes several other model trains, the “Toys through Time” exhibit, Grif Teller railroad paintings, and more. Kids can ride a train or have a conversation with Patter & Pogie, the talking — and listening — reindeer who were a long time Christmas fixture at Pogue’s department store.

Holiday Junction and the Duke Energy Holiday Trains are are inside the fee required museum but free passes are available to all Duke Energy customers.

cintrad113. Boar’s Head Festival – 1940
I have never attended the Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival and I won’t again this year. Tickets for the free event go fast and those for this year’s festival have long been gone. The first Boar’s Head Festival took place in Oxford, England, in 1340 which means it had been going on exactly 600 years when Cincinnati’s Christ Church Cathedral held its first. The locals have now added 70+ years of their own traditions to establish a unique event for the city. I confess to not even knowing of the festival before the lecture but, the more I learn about it, the more I want to go. There are three performances on January 4 and 5. Tickets were distributed, first-come, first-served, on December 14. Maybe I can snag one of those hot ducats next year.

cintrad212. W & S Nativity Scene – 1939
Officially known as Western & Southern Financial Group presents the Crib of the Nativity, this Cincinnati tradition has one year on the Boar’s Head Festival. Western & Southern’s President, Charles F. Williams, had the crib built in 1938 for display in the company’s parking lot. It went public and started the tradition during the very next Christmas season. Initially displayed in downtown’s Lytle Park, it was moved to Union Terminal after the country’s entry into World War II in 1941. It stayed there, a welcome sight to the train loads of GIs who passed through the station, until the war was over. It returned to Lytle Park in 1946.

cintrad22cintrad23With the upheaval and shrinking of Lytle Park that came with the construction of I-71, the nativity scene moved to Eden Park in 1967. It remains there, next to Krohn Conservatory, today.

cintrad26cintrad25cintrad24Parking and visiting the outdoor nativity scene is free. Entering the conservatory is not. The conservatory’s Christmas display is not one of Cincinnati’s oldest but it is one of its most beautiful. If you have parked to visit the nativity scene, you should at least consider spending the $7 to see “A Cincinnati Scenic Railway”, a ton of poinsettias, and other holiday themed displays. The railway incorporates “botanical architecture” which uses “locally gathered willow and other natural materials” to build structures such as the Roebling Bridge, the Tyler Davidson Fountain, and the Christian Moerlein Lager House..

cintrad311. Fountain Square Tree – 1913/1924
According to the “Cincinnati’s Winter Holiday Traditions” lecture, Cincinnatians first put a tree on Fountain Square in 1913. A large crowd had gathered for the ceremonial lighting when someone yelled “fire” and the resulting stampede caused enough injuries to keep the city from trying again until 1924. Things went much better that year and, although the fountain and the square have moved around some, a Christmas tree has stood on Fountain Square every year since.

cintrad32cintrad33cintrad34There was a snag this year when the first tree selected snapped in two at a weak spot in its trunk. A replacement was quickly obtained and the 55-foot Norway Spruce was placed on the square after a one week delay.

My Wheels – Chapter 8
1957 Austin Healey

Austin-Healey 100-6Why in the world would a couple of newly weds buy a ten year old British sports car in the middle of winter? I am, at present, as baffled as anyone though I apparently once knew the answer to that question. A month or so after our 1966 Boxing Day wedding, my bride and I purchased a 1957 Austin-Healey 100-6. The one pictured is a 1958 model but looks pretty much like our ’57. This was not a play car to park next to a dependable sedan. This was our only car.

The Renault‘s reliability had steadily decreased until I sold it to a friend who either rebuilt or replaced the engine and drove it for quite awhile. I almost bought a 1959 Plymouth an aunt had recently replaced and actually “test drove” the car for a few weeks before acquiring the Healey. Buying the Plymouth would have been the sensible thing to do. But we were 18 and 19, I was a full time student, she was just out of high school, and we had just gotten married. Why spoil it by doing something sensible?

The Healey lasted more than a year. It was a great summer car and an OK winter car. Climbing snow covered Cincinnati hills was not its strong suit but it got around as good as many other cars of the day and it was reasonably warm in slowish city driving. Things were a little different on the open road. It helped that it had a removable hard top. It was fiberglass and not heavily insulated but was infinitely better than the cloth top. But it was a true roadster with sliding Plexiglas side curtains rather than roll up windows. At highway speed on a cold day, the heater stayed on full blast trying to keep up with the air escaping through the side curtains.

That soft top I mentioned was on the car once while I owned it. Attaching it had much more in common with raising a tent than with raising a convertible top. The hard top came off in the spring and went on in the fall. In between, with the one exception to prove that erecting the canvas top was possible, we made do with a tonneau cover and, yes, we did get wet now and then.

It was called a 2+2 with a pair of padded depressions in a shelf behind the seats. I actually remember carrying someone in those “seats” for a short distance but the shelf was much better at holding a couple bags of groceries than a couple derrieres.

The 100-6 was produced for three years. In 1956 it replaced the four-cylinder 100 which immediately became known as the 100-4. The 100-6 had a 2.6 liter six-cylinder engine and a four-speed transmission with overdrive. In 1959, it was replaced with the 2.9 liter Austin-Healey 3000 which had a rather long run through 1967.

Cars are often remembered for the misadventures they were part of and here is a story that helps me remember the Healey. For reasons not quite remembered, there was no license bracket on the front for awhile. It had been damaged somehow and repairing it had slipped entirely off my schedule. We were driving home after a visit to my parents. On state route 49, near the town of Arcanum, we passed a state trooper headed the other direction. He turned around, turned on his lights, and pulled us over. There was no “serious” issue, like speeding, but there was no front license. After checking a few things, he gave me a written warning and went on his way.

A couple of weeks later, I was back in Darke County. The low slung Healey had suffered a few scrapes and bumps on its crankcase and had developed a minor leak. I arranged to meet a high school buddy who had a welder so we — actually he — could fix the leak. The repair was accomplished and I headed home. At just about the same spot as before, that same state trooper passed the Healey with the same license plate not there. When I saw his brake lights come on, I immediately turned off on a side road and, with a few quick turns on the narrow roads, made my getaway. Satisfied that my evasive maneuvers had worked, I was starting to slow when I saw it. The road ahead was unpaved. It had not been graded for awhile. A fairly tall gravel ridge stood in its center. Before I could stop, I was plowing that gravel. Then I was oiling it.

The gravel had ripped off the recently applied weld and the crankcase was leaking much worse than it ever had before. I lost a lot of oil by the time I made it back to the main road. At a little gas station and grocery store, I bought a five gallon can of used oil. I believe farmers sometimes used used oil in slow reving equipment so it was often available for sale. The leak was not quite as bad as I feared but I still lost close to another gallon getting back to the friend’s house. He had just been visiting from college and was already gone when I got there. His dad let me use the welder and I managed to plug the leak with one of the ugliest welding jobs ever. This was the first and last time anyone ever left me alone with a welder. Then I drove home and fixed the license bracket the very next day.

Although our car must have looked just like the one in the picture when new, when we had it the paint had lost its shine and there was rust. Not major visible rust but hidden and interior rust in floor pans and such. The car was never garaged while we had it and I suspect that was true of much of its life. The rust and mechanical malaise led to the Austin-Healey being replaced before the next summer rolled around.

My Wheels – Chapter 7 — 1961 Renault 4CV


Although this post is semi-random (I picked it from two possibilities) it appears during Cincinnati’s first snow event of the year (which is kinda why I picked it) and gives me an excuse to tell a semi-related story.

1959 Plymouth FuryThe 1959 Plymouth Fury at left is a dead ringer for the one I passed up to get the Austin-Healey. A rather spiffy ride, don’t you think? On one snowy night, my new wife and I were out with a friend in my borrowed car. The snow was not deep but the big Plymouth was not doing well on the slick streets. At one point, as we attempted to climb a slight incline, the friend and I got out to push while my wife took over driving. It did not take much to get the car moving but stopping to let us back in would have left the car stuck once again. Instead, my friend and I each grabbed a fin and “skied” alongside the Plymouth to the top of the hill.

5K: The Ventures Way

DAV 5K The Disabled American Veterans organization held a race Saturday. It was the inaugural running of what they called the National 5K Run/Walk/Roll/Ride. I first heard of it a few weeks ago when my friend, Dave, announced that he had signed up. Some people ran, some walked, some rolled on hand-cycles, and some rode motorcycles. Dave walked. So did I.

When the event came up in a conversation, Dave said something like “You ought to do it, too”. Then I said something like “Yeah, maybe” without really meaning it but the seed was planted. l’m a firm believer in the only-if-chased concept of running. There is absolutely no way I would ever consider running any farther than the last lane of a street crossing to avoid an approaching SUV on auto-pilot. But walking is a different story. I walk quite a bit. I’ve always done it on road trips where I will park the car and walk around a town or park or other attraction. This summer I’ve been doing more of it at home and even think I feel a little deprived on days when I don’t walk.

Five kilometers is about three miles; 3.106855961 to be be precise. I might walk that far a few times each week although there is usually a restaurant or bar somewhere near midpoint. I started to somewhat seriously consider doing the walk about the same time that another friend and I picked that day to take an underground Cincinnati tour we had been talking about for awhile. I assumed I couldn’t do both until a week or two later when I looked at the details. Start time for the “race” was 9:00; for the tour 1:00. That was plenty of time for even sluggish old me to finish the walk, which had awards scheduled for 10:45, and get to the tour.

DAV 5KSo I signed on. Dave and I were a little surprised by the size of the crowd when we arrived about a half hour before the start time. We later learned that the event had more than two thousand entrants. I registered late and in person and had picked up my stuff when I did. Dave had registered very early on line and was picking up his stuff today. An entrant’s stuff consisted of a long sleeve shirt, a “bib”, and four safety pins. The pins were to attach the numbered “bib”, with its attached timing chip, to the shirt. Shirts were black for veterans and white for civilians. Dave’s a Navy vet. I’m a civilian.

DAV 5KDAV 5KWe did not have long to wait until the starting gun went off and, presumably, the serious runners up front went dashing away. Eventually the more casual crowd near us started moving and we were off. We started fairly close to the back and by the first turn had managed to work our way even closer.

DAV 5KDAV 5KDAV 5KThere were several bands performing along the way and we were given water at strategic spots just like real runners. Near the end, we were even cheered and encouraged just like real runners. Dave was the target of extra cheering when some in the crowd recognized him as the model for a widely used street sign of which an example can be seen to his right.

DAV 5KWe crossed the finish line to the sound of bells and cheers from an enthusiastic group who had probably come near to dozing off during the lull that preceded us. Two bicycles had been the first to cross the line with times of 14:44 and 15:07. The first place runner had a time of 16:26. Dave and I finished 2019th & 2020th in an hour and twelve minutes. There were 2033 finishers so we were denied last place but we were close. On the other hand, we were only about 56 minutes out of first.

The cheering and applause even for old guys finishing in the 99th percentile is intended to make you feel like you accomplished something and it did. Both Dave and I have walked 5 kilometers many times so neither of us felt any great affirmation but we did feel good and it sure was fun. In years past I’ve attended parades and concerts and other events associated with Veterans Day (I even remember Armistice Day.) but this is the first time since being in the high school band that I have participated. Maybe I really did accomplish something after all.

dav5k2013ddfADDENDUM 07-Nov-15: Here is a picture from the DAV website of Dave and I crossing the finish line.

 

 


The “Ventures Way” is, of course, walking rather than running. The Ventures first drummer had left the band and was on his way to becoming a veteran before Walk Don’t Run was released but did get to perform it with them again a few years later as captured here.


Queen City Underground TourQueen City Underground TourQueen City Underground TourI made it to the tour in plenty of time and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was the “Queen City Underground Tour” from American Legacy Tours. Having done other tours of Cincinnati’s underground, I thought this might be something of a repeat but that was not so at all. Only the very last of the tour was familiar and by then we had been inside a 19th century tenement and an underground crypt and had been entertained and educated by a pair of knowledgeable guides. Plus, the familiar part led to the Christian Moerlein Tap Room which is hardly a bad thing.