RETURN TO ’55, 360 of USA

Folks this is where I will post the journal of our day to day experience as we try to return to a road trip that might have been taken place in 1955 before the Eisenhower Defense Highway Act passed. We will take as many of the Blue highways as we can. We have a map where all of the baseball parks and fields are. We will try and take in as much natural beauty that exists, and we will search out as many museums and points of interest that there are. Cindy will attempt to capture as much as she can using her incredible ability and ‘eye’ to photograph. We will try to use this place to do daily posts so that you all can share our trip.

Return to ’55’

Colleen was there to take pictures and to wish us well. We said countless goodbyes to family and friends. Assuring everyone we were not going to drop off the face of the earth and yes Mom we have both canisters of pepper spray from the American Defender company. I keep it to myself that if I need to use it I will probably misaim it and spray it in my face causing the ne’er-do-well to laugh so hard I will be saved but not in the way the American Defender Company thought.

Off we head down the hill to Pacific and south to Washington 7 and Elbe and US 12 and White Pass to 97 over Prosser Hill to Gary and Carrie’s in Pendleton and where the cry of “Let ‘er buck” is yelled every September at Roundup. In all of the years living here I had never been through White Pass. What a shame. It is the perfect example of what the US shield highway offers. So much history, so much scenery … so much of why we are ‘RETURNING TO 55’.

This is the way we wanted to set the tone for the trip. When we arrived at Gary and Carrie’s we were greeted by Sophie, their Great Dane which is coal black. Becca and her fiancé, Dave, along with Dave’s father Steve. Gary’s sister Lynnette and her daughter Madonna and a lot of dogs had come over for one of Carrie’s great ‘feeds’. I think it was all about hearing Becca’s plans for their wedding, Dave and Becca are so excited.

Gary had a project that had to be completed before we could start out. He had got a deal on a frame for the p/u to carry his canoe, he wanted to take us out to fish on Indian Lake. Just eye balling, Gary figured the frame would fit over the canopy. First step, unscrew the clamps holding the canopy to the p/u. Gary has had both of his knees replaced twice in the last couple of years. He can’t kneel or crawl, my knee ‘gives’ out. Between the two of us we were a sorry lot. We wouldn’t have got it done without the help of Lynnette and Madonna. The canopy comes off in a breeze. Holes have to be drilled for the frame and then it is bolted down. Between the four of us with comic relief we get ‘er done. Still no measuring, it looks close. I grab an old piece of wood from a garage that was tore down. Rough measuring we see that is close, what happens if it doesn’t fit. Gary: “not a problem, everything has come together the Indian way”.

I still don’t know what that means. Gary’s friend Lee had a chance 10 years ago to get a free canopy. Yup, same except now it’s caked with 10 years of grime. The p/u is tan, what are the chances the free canopy would match. It cleans real nice, Gary says. Right it matches. Will the canopy slip under the frame? It does by a half inch. The canoe fits on top perfectly. This must be what the Indian way is, everything works out or it will work out.

When I go to Pendleton it always means a great spaghetti dinner at Lee and Ronnie’s. No exception this time and it was excellent with stimulating conversation about the war and Catholicism. Ronnie is a devout Catholic from South Carolina. We never all agree and that’s probably for the best, what would we talk about in the future.

Indian Lake at dusk

Indian Lake at dusk

Ready to par-tyyyyy !

Ready to par-tyyyyy !

Gary and Carrie's set up

Gary and Carrie’s set up

It was such fun camping with them, at any moment they might break into two part harmony. Cindy and I showed to the world what novices we were. We are better now because of what the Parisians showed us. We were not nearly as cute as them but our efforts to do things like raise tarps in high wind provided a lot of comic relief.

We cut our Indian Lake stay short by a day because of a mixup in what site we were assigned. Just as well because Gary’s hands were bothering him. It could be a result of Agent Orange, VA is still investigating. Gary told us that not only was it dropped from planes and copters it was also used in camps to clear jungles.

Packing up we headed for John Day. It takes 40 minutes to get to the highway on a gravel road. We were sorry to be leaving Indian Lake, but we would have had to move. Just better for us to move on and see what was to come.

Cindy liked this and so did I

Cindy liked this and so did I

Inside the café in Mitchell

Inside the café in Mitchell

Little Pine Cafe

Hole in the wall

Hole in the wall

Just a neat old building

Just a neat old building

When the landscape looks like a beautiful painting, you know you are in God’s country. Heading east on US 26 we drove through an area that saw God at it’s majestic best. Indian Gary as our 21st century guide. Looking out over the Painted Hills and the geological formations that the millenniums have created, I can only be awe struck at our insignificance.

Gary points out the wearing down of the hills as they drop down to the river below as the deer descend, creating well worn paths that the Indians follow and later the white man with wagons and cars. It all became surreal in this desolate but beautiful scenery.

Looking out over the fossil gardens

Looking out over the fossil gardens

Eastern Oregon is full of surprises, much of its history is tied to gold, settlers looking for gold and the bands of Indians that stood in the way. Unexpected was a Chinese apothecary in John Day. It’s listed as a National Historic Place as an example of early Chinese Culture. It was built in 1866 or 1867. Earlier during the nearby Canyon City Gold Rush, Chinese came by the scores to work mining the ore. They were left with the ‘tailings’ and would mine the ‘left overs’ to see if there was any gold. The Chinese were harassed, beaten, and murdered. Two of these immigrants started the Kam Wah Chung company and were frequented by whites and Chinese. At night the steel doors were shut tight to protect Doc Hay and Lung On from attack. Bullet marks on the door show why they had steel doors.

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Doc Hay and his story

Doc Hay and his story

Canyon City was just a few miles away. Here gold was discovered in 1862. This was also the year President Lincoln got through the Congress the Homestead Act which opened up Indian Lands west of the Mississippi to settlers, many who were immigrants to mine gold, silver, copper and to harvest the lush forests as well as build the railroads which were coming west to bring the resources east. The factories and the mines would follow. Canyon City was one of these places. The Indians rebelled and then attacked. The Calvary came to control and repel the Indians. It all appeared to be a plan, maybe because the Indians would not be enslaved to the white ways. We examples of throughout the region.

The Mural in Canyon City

The Mural in Canyon City

The history of Canyon City which was very colorful.

The history of Canyon City which was very colorful.

A mural depicting a celebration, the 4th no doubt

A mural depicting a celebration, the 4th no doubt

Mining

Mining

The Whisky Gulch Gang that robbed the miners and their banks which brought the Calvary

The Whisky Gulch Gang that robbed the miners and their banks which brought the Calvary

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“Someone massaged my Lorna Doone”, one of the great nights starting Return to ’55 with good friends. The cookies were so stale they had to be massaged. I just liked the way it sounded so I used the phrase. Gary had brought along his ‘stash’ of MRE’s, he used when he was a guide for hunters who paid to ‘bag’ a trophy. Just miles from the city of John Day and dodging mosquitoes, Gary instructed his eager students in cooking packaged meals that were more advanced then ‘C’ rations. These meals were sent from different manufactures to Evansville and slickly packaged and sent to the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan. Gary bought them for $27 to take on the trail. While cooking, he told stories of his youth. It was surreal. Fumbling around with these space age meals and gawking at the small packets of TP that were used to wipe the remnants of these high calorie energy boosters.

Gary told of the orphanage in North Dakota where he was sent against his will. He talked of his dad, describing him as a hard worker who was killed harvesting potatoes. His stepfather following dam constructions who was under five foot-five but was a giant of a man and stubborn and disciplined that gave much and expected much. German, strong and stubborn but a good provider that worked a dangerous job. Gary got in as much trouble as most of us, he was Indian and ended up in reform school and, like Ozzie, given the choice of staying at McLaren or being a Marine. He chose the ‘Corp’.

Travelling with Gary and his keen eye who saw damn near everything that moved, as we moved along pulling our ‘tear drops’ as we passed through gorges and canyons of beautiful landscapes. Earlier both Lee, Gary’s loyal and stalwart friend asked me why I didn’t ‘t join the service. Before I could answer Lee did, saying he joined because he didn’t know better. “I wasn’t even 18”. Gary added, he just wanted out of the reformatory which was like a jail. “Shooting a rifle is something I knew”, he added.

Gary and Carrie wanted to show us Eastern Oregon, what great guides they were, Indian Lake above Pendleton is on the Umatilla Reservation. He had his canoe strapped on to the carrier that he cleverly put on top of his canopy. He was set to fish and he said Indian Lake would be a great spot.

The Vietnam War got in the way. Like many others, Gary was exposed to a lot of ‘agent orange’, Montesano and Dow Chemicals lasting gift to many veterans of that time of their life. Gary was besieged by many different skin diseases that left him scarred hurting. His skin was raw and his hair was falling out. There would be no fishing this trip, but we would still be treated to Gary’s love of the country side. Every morning Carrie would lovingly rub the different medications on his back and scalp that gave him some relief.

From our base at the campground just east of John Day we travelled towards Picture Canyon and the stupendous Painted Hills. On the way there on US 26 we came up to a sign that gave off the vibe that the folks of Mitchell were desperate for sightseers or anyone to please and look at the place they called home. The folks of this town were rugged, tough and determined they would survive.

The park would be a good place for a picnic. Overused, but this non descriptive word is appropriate….. pastoral with a nearby small creek. Several large motorhomes were parked adjacent to this beautiful setting taking advantage of the five dollar overnight fee.

A really nice park in Mitchell where you could camp for $5

A really nice park in Mitchell where you could camp

A few hours after we left there would be an old fashioned revival meeting with ‘down homey fiddlin’ music’. From the picnic table we could see the neon sign advertising the Hotel Oregon with room rate as little as $30 a night. Next door was the Pine Street Cafe and Saloon. That day, a half dozen Harleys were parked at an angle with the riders enjoying a cold beer.

100 years ago it would have been horses. Further down the street was the boarded up Shcnee grocery store that didn’t survive the decision to bypass the quaint town that is described as a half ghost town and the more desired “Gateway to the Painted Hills”. Judy, who runs the small thrift store, would better like this role. She told us the history of the decision that destroyed so many small towns that were bypassed to better serve travelers. Ultimately the interstates finished them off. More and more gray haired folks are returning to these old highways to visit wonderful places that are so full of history.

Gary points out deer paths on our way to one of the largest dredges in the area

Gary points out deer paths on our way to one of the largest dredges in the area

Gary pointed out the path of the wildlife that wore down the hill over ages as they went down to the river to get the most important substance of earth . . . water. I have heard that from the ‘beginning’ to the present there has been the same amount of water on earth because of gravity. No matter what, we still have the same amount of water as there was 200 years ago. Isn’t that sobering. If we pollute, we do not get more. What we pollute we will have to clean. This includes the glaciers and the oceans, the same. Wow!

I wonder if the Indians followed the path of the wildlife and the river. This could have been followed by the wagons and later the highways. All started by wildlife going for water, which they still do. Travelling with Gary was so enjoyable, and so educational. I look forward to the next time. Heading towards more gold we set our compass north and to the historic dredge at Sumpter. This piece of machinery was pure industrial art. It was like walking through a giant erector set. The giant buckets went into the water and dug out tons of mud, with the hope there would be gold.

This is the 3rd dredge which shut down in 1954. It went 24-7 with only Christmas and the Fourth shutting down

This is the 3rd dredge which shut down in 1954. It went 24-7 with only Christmas and the Fourth shutting down

This is a closer look at the bucket

This is a closer look of the bucket

Cindy, who took all of the pictures picked out these reader boards. A woman who worked in the bookstore and visitors center explained her father worked on the dredge. She remembers the deafening noise never stopped. Can you imagine what it would have been like to grow up around such clatter. There were three that worked, along with the Sumpter Valley Railroad that brought out the ore and transferred the necessary equipment. The dredges came from Portland.

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Making the Mother Lode

Making the Mother Lode

Here are some more great pictures that Cindy took. All of this was going on in Eastern Oregon at about the same time, the 1860’s. There were many bands of Indians that were displaced by all of this industry. The town was settled. The Cavalry was nearby to protect the gold, and the profits poured in.

How the dredge worked

How the dredge worked

A closer look at the buckets

A closer look at the buckets

Huge gears drove this gargantuan machine

Huge gears drove this gargantuan machine

Impressive!

Impressive!

The Summer Solstice was approaching, and we left Sumpter in the early afternoon heading north on Oregon 7. Lori Baker had a ranch near Baker City, a perfect locale to spend the night and to attend a rip roaring and festive Summer Solstice. As we approached Haines and Lori’s we were stopped by nature. A goose was blocking the road while a couple of ducks were doing the ‘mess a round’, they were following the advice of the Beatles and doing it in the road. Feeling like voyeurs the whole while we didn’t want to interrupt so we stopped as did a couple of other cars. When the ducks were finished or done or whatever, they all waddled away.

Carrie's photo of the Summer Solstice at Lori's ranch

Carrie’s photo of the Summer Solstice at Lori’s ranch

Gary was a guide that led hunters up to a camp to hunt. Lori and her husband ran the operation. Over the years lot’s of folks got to ride up with Gary and Carrie, what a great experience for them.

Lori’s mother lives at the ranch and during a moment after dinner she was telling me a story of her youth. She worked as a cigarette girl at the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair. She said she rode the Peralta for a nickel until it burned to the waterline. The Peralta became the Kalakala and it’s jinxed existence continued. The doomed ship got stuck on the waterway during it’s launch.

While traveling with Carrie and Gary great stories were shared, one of my favorite was a free concert that Gary went to in Eugene. It was at the property of the Merry Prankster himself, Ken Kesey. Yes, it was the first concert of the Grateful Dead. As he tells it, he didn’t know who Kesey was or the Grateful Dead, the show was free and it was a good chance to get stoned. Gary has told great stories of his ‘biker’ days and Kesey really liked to have bikers at his Acid tests in the woods on his property near Eugene. Garth remembers little except he thinks it was probably acid. In those early days, the Dead called themselves the Warlocks in those days

Gary telling a story, while reading the paper

Gary telling a story, while reading the paper

Hell’s Canyon was next. Often we would say to each other, “I don’t know if I have another wow in me”. The Canyon was stupendous. Idaho power has a beautiful campground, right near the river and wonderful amenities. This may sound weird but I judge campgrounds by their toilets, if the seats are secure and not loose and has a healthy flush the campground is usually above average. On this trip I noticed commodes had ‘turbo flush’. They could handle the load. Also before sitting make sure there is paper, in these hard economic times campgrounds and visitor centers make cuts.

Waiting with a group of riders to cross the dam

Waiting with a group of riders to cross the dam

At the dam the temperature ran to a dry heat of 92°, we tired quickly. After waiting for the green light to cross, and the time getting there we decided to look for a spot to picnic.

Hiding from the heat we found a little cave

Hiding from the heat we found a little cave

The view of the river and the canyon was, well you be the judge. Fishermen were on both banks of the river, the visitors center had a nice look out. From there we saw a jet boat warming up to take tourists up past turbulent parts of the river to gawk at the wildlife in between the cavernous walls of the canyon.

The view from the visitors center, a boat ready to go up river

The view from the visitors center, a boat ready to go up river

The canyon takes your breath away .... it does

The canyon takes your breath away …. it does

Making the climb to the top of the dam was so damn righteous, we had to take pictures and pull off to the side. There was so much to see. The rock formations were incredible.

Carrie walking down for a better view

Carrie walking down for a better view

We drove across the top, on the other side was one hell of a stairwell to the river

We drove across the top, on the other side was one hell of a stairwell to the river

The staircase near the dam meanders down to the frothy river. People were fishing up and down the staircase. Brave souls they were, Tim from Yelapa who we visited worked on building the stairs when he was with the Forest Service. Not an easy job, but said he enjoyed the hell out of it.

Tim and Debbie in front of the house Tim built near Council off of US 95

Tim and Debbie in front of the house Tim built near Council off of US 95

Tim and Debbie are truly enjoying life, he retired from working in the woods and she teaches Yoga. One of the great couples we met in Yelapa. Debbie was a school teacher in Council where she taught Spanish. She handles herself very well in Mexico.

A very comfortable home, this is the living room

A very comfortable home, this is the living room

Near the dam, settlers crossed the river with a ferry. It seems everywhere in Eastern Oregon there was gold. This brought the seekers of the valuable
mineral by the scores, the Indians were not impressed.

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This how rough the river was by the dam and the staircase

This how rough the river was by the dam and the staircase

From the center you can see the lazy angle the stairs went down. Besides getting closer, folks were going after King Salmon. This was hard on Gary but he lived with it. He just wasn’t on his game, but he was still more fun to be with than most.

It was our first or second night at the campground near the canyon but what a feast we did have. Hamburger helper with ‘taco toppings’ and grass fed beef from Lori’s ranch, did you read … grass fed beef. Boy did we have a great time. Cindy and Carrie have prepared special and delicious meals. Me, hell I do what I always do … dishes. I have a pretty effective dish washing station. Have I told you this before, I have well, for those of you that didn’t read it. Two plastic tubs, all dishes scraped and soaked in the right temp of water. They soaked for about the time it takes to drink a local beer of the area.

Gary’s fire roars and we all listen as he entertains. Jokes, stories or memories of Vietnam … it doesn’t matter. Gary does well with all. The beer is drained, I am too. Hotter water for the rinse, dry on the mat and get the dishes back to the proper place and owner. Oh, and always use Dawn. It works the best.

We listen to more stories, the fire gives off a friendly glow and we all sip on rum. Another great day has ended, we head for our teardrops, close the curtains and again a delightful sleep on our queen sized bed and face another great day when we wake up in Eastern Oregon.

I met Al Bunch when I got off the Malespina in Wrangell. The ferry still makes the run from Haines, Alaska through Southeast down to Bellingham, Washington. Al and Ann owned the Wrangell Sentinel and were very good friends with Tammy Connine who was the news director at KSTK radio. I was brought to Wrangell to back up Tammy and get news because Tammy was born and raised in Wrangell and treated really bad, something that Ann knew too. Alvin might have been in on the hiring, he liked the idea that I was a steelworker.

GOING TO ID-A-HO

Ann and Al were no longer in Alaska but now lived in Boise. We have stayed in touch all of these years. We were going to get set up at a campground near Meridian, where they lived. We ended up in what appeared to be a used RV lot, but it really was a KOA. We spent a great evening with them and talked about our plans. Months before Cindy and I were in Boise to see Antsy McLain and his Trailer Park Troubadours. What a great and funny show that was.

We had the best damn visit, drank some beer had great food that Al BBQ’d on their well equipped deck. Ann had some great recommendations of places to see. One was a house that Frank Lloyd Wright designed but would be hard to get to see. It overlooked the Snake River.

It was just a fine time. It reminds me of what Al says Bill Monroe told him at a concert in Tennessee. Al asked him how he doing, and Bill Monroe quipped back: “Son I am doing fine, I am doing extry fine.” That’s how I felt about our visit.

The Lil Guy was dwarfed

The Lil Guy was dwarfed

We knew we wanted to see the Arches in southern Utah but we would need to find a campground in between. As usual we didn’t have any idea where that would be, but somewhere in eastern Idaho. Almost like being blindfolded we settled for a campground near Rupert, Idaho. We went to our State Campground Book, we also had a Passport America Campground Book which gave us a discount rate … sometimes 50%. That’s not too bad, and we had a KOA book. Garmen, GPS finder, Cindy’s cell and our ‘pad’ if they worked, but that happened very seldom.

About two hours from Rupert we settled on a state park near there, Lake Walcott. We had no way of knowing if they had sites available, so we just winged it. We were later than normal because when we pulled out of the Meridian KOA, we checked our lights hook up. Good thing too, no lights … but we were near a shop that had ‘flipped’ our hitch so the trailer would ride higher. They could help, and would take it right away… what a break. So we got a late start but they fixed it, didn’t have a problem the rest of the trip.

Entering Rupert about a hour before the sun went down, we found a very cool Main Street and started to feel really good about the choice we had made. We would repeat this good vibe every time we made a choice, no lie. Well maybe a little, but most of the time it worked out.

We got a pretty good spot and we were back on the road the next day after a cold breakfast head for the Arches

We got a pretty good spot and we were back on the road the next day after a cold breakfast headed for the Arches

This day we spent more time on an interstate than any other, all of the way to Provo before we cut off to go east on US 6. What a great choice, we never went wrong when we chose a US highway. It was hot, but we were glad to get off I-84.

What a beautiful ride US 6 was

What a beautiful ride, US 6

All along Cindy wanted to visit the Arches in Utah. What was so exciting about this trip was we were never sure where we would stay, it’s like as a kid when my dad got tired of driving to California he would stop at a motel on 99 and there was always a vacancy. This is how we travelled, after a few hours on US 6 and the tank was dropping to close to a third we stopped at a gas station a couple of hours away from the Arches National Park and target a KOA near Green River, Utah. It was close to the park and Mohab, now all we needed was a connection to call them. We had to wait until we pulled in. We were lucky, it seemed like there was always room for a tear drop trailer. I think in hind sight we now think we could have spent more nights parked in a Walmart.

How blue is this? Turns out to blue, filter problem but not enough to scratch pictures of this incredible park and phenomenal rock formations

How blue is this? Turns out to blue, filter problem but not enough to scratch pictures of this incredible park and phenomenal rock formations

The views were spectacular!

The views were spectacular!

Stupendous, I am running out of superlatives ....

Stupendous, I am running out of superlatives ….

Cindy in front of the famous window  arch

Cindy in front of the famous window arch

The Arches National Park is along the Colorado River which, at 102° degrees your stay is limited in what you can do. We spent many hours just gazing in wonderment as to how beautiful nature is and how lucky and fortunate we were to be there. This is some more info about this place from Wikipedia…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arches_National_Park

I look like a KOA refugee, thanks Al

I look like a KOA refugee, thanks Al

I look like a KOA refugee

We didn't do much walking at 102 +°, it didn't matter much that it was a 'dry' heat

We didn’t do much walking at 102 +°, it didn’t matter much that it was a ‘dry’ heat

Incredible, it takes your breath away

Incredible, it takes your breath away

“Towering 2000′ above the Colorado River, Dead Horse Point State Park provides a breathtaking panorama of Canyonlands’ sculptured pinnacles and buttes”, the Utah State Park’s brochure starts out. These are just words. Being there and trying to show it’s magnificent beauty is also limited. I am sure the pictures will also fall short.

There is a sad legend about the park, and it is probably true. A big rancher ordered his cowboys to round up the herd of wild horses and corral them. They were driven across a small neck, very narrow and only 30 yards in width. The neck opened up to the point. The horses were fenced in with brush and branches. The rancher picked the best horses and left the rest to die without water even though the Colorado River lay below. Many died trying to escape on the rocks and ledges to get to the river.

This from another brochure:

The Legend Of Dead Horse Point
Before the turn of the 19th century, mustang herds ran wild on the mesas near Dead Horse Point. The unique promontory provided a natural corral into which the horses were driven by cowboys. The only escape was through a narrow, 30-yard neck of land controlled by fencing. Mustangs were then roped and broken, with the better ones being kept for personal use or sold to eastern markets. Unwanted culls of “broomtails” were left behind to find their way off the Point.

According to one legend, a band of broomtails was left corralled on the Point. The gate was supposedly left open so the horses could return to the open range. For some unknown reason, the mustangs remained on the Point. There they died of thirst within sight of the Colorado River, 2,000 feet below.

Today, Dead Horse Point provides a beautiful mesa where you can look for miles into Canyonlands National Park or 2,000 feet down to the Colorado River. There are a few short hikes around the edge of the mesa with stunning views into the deep canyons. The Intrepid Trail system provides fun and challenging mountain bike trails around the mesa.

The panorama of this historic park

The panorama of this historic park

A good view of how far off water was

A good view of how far off water was

Hiking  in 102°, whew

Hiking in 102°, whew

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We had a place to stay at Green River, and the insanity of the 4th was approaching so we decided to ‘hole’ up where we were and hit the road on the 3rd and head for Denver and stay at Cindy’s cousin. More later, we were right because there was a mass exodus west bound and we were east bound. There was still a lot more to explore in Green River. We spent the next day in the area. A great diner was just down the road, Ray’s and of course night shots of a neon lit motel on a US highway and a leftover from the mid ’60’s. Here are some great pictures that Cindy took of boards in front of the John Wesley Powell museum.

A throwback to the '60's, an Athena Missile

A throwback to the ’60’s, an Athena Missile

Another throwback ....

Another throwback ….

The short history of Green River

The short history of Green River

Butch Cassidy

Butch Cassidy

The Spanish Trail, I had heard about this and now I can read about it

The Spanish Trail, I had heard about this and now I can read about it

He explored the Grand Canyon, starting at the head of the Green River and going to Lake Mead

He explored the Grand Canyon, starting at the head of the Green River and going to Lake Mead

Hitting only US highways is not easy to pull off in the 21st Century because so many of these roads have been covered over or joined with other roads. Going to Colorado presented that challenge, there were not that many routes through the mountains. US 50 and US 6 were part of I-70. We headed out from Green River the day before the 4th. I don’t really care much for the 4th and the older I get the less enthusiastic I am. This doesn’t set well with most folks. Spending two to three hundred dollars on fireworks that just explode and only leave you with a empty wallet doesn’t seem smart to me, but everyone to their own.

Traffic would be heavy on the big 4th weekend, people would flee the cities in the multitudes. What we found travelling east on 50/6/70 we met no traffic until Vail, then it was jammed. I had been on US 50 coming back from the Route 66 trip. The one I went on with my good friend Doug Cunningham in his 88 ‘Vette. We came back on 50 so we could pay homage to the good doctor in Woody Creek just off Colorado 82 heading towards Aspen.

Near Vail we got off looking for a rest area and didn’t get lost but we had a hell of a time. I was driving, we found the rest area but it was so confusing I turned into the exit. Getting turned around I ended up in a up scale strip mall that was jammed with traffic. We found our way back to the Interstate never finding the rest area, we held it until we found an easy way off for gas.

We wanted to make it to Kevin and Carla’s before dark but after dinner. I, not Cindy have strange notions about not interrupting people for dinner. Some people like to have people come for dinner especially distant cousins who they haven’t seen in a long time.

We got sidetracked getting to Denver. We tried to take the trailer to some old mining towns off US 50. Georgetown and Silver Plume were two old mining towns connected by a 19th Century railroad. All we wanted was a visitors center so I double parked in front of a marijuana store while Cindy walked a block or so to the center. It didn’t or wouldn’t work to go to the old mining town. We still took the cutoff to Central City which has cashed in on casinos. These towns are old, because of the gambling they are also new. There many of them in the ‘west’, they attract the gigantimous rv’s and the tour busses and they are really hard to find parking places. I don’t know, like Deadwood, South Dakota they just aren’t very interesting to me.

What a great time we had with Kevin and Carla and Holly and Bill. They showed us a great time. Kevin and Holly are the ones that took us to this great bar on US 6, the Skylark. This bar was a place that Holly, Kevin and Cindy’s grandparents use to go. Actually it was the Skylark in the old location but further down the street. I have written a lot of ‘stuff’, it’s like if you talk to much you bore people. So here are some great pictures of the ‘New’ Skylark. It still has the spirit as the old, at least that is what both Kevin and Holly said.

The Skylark

The Skylark

A COLLECTION OF 1950 ERA PIN UPS

A WONERFUL COLLECTION OF CINDY’S PICTURES FROM THE SKYLARK

The great hospitality shown to us by Carla and Kevin is so appreciated. Carla had plans to take Bryce and Juliana to Science camp and we didn’t get a chance to spend a lot of time with her. I did talk to her about Buffalo, where she is from. She described the Beth steel plant as rusting and becoming an eye sore. Built in 1902, it was taken over by Bethlehem Steel in 1922. By World War II it employed 22,000 steelworkers and it was the largest steel producer in the world. It had record profits in 1981, lost money and closed in 1983. Now it is a blot on the landscape that hipsters photograph and explore.

They call it the South Broadway corridor, the Golden Triangle. Miners came down the road during the 19th Century Gold Rush. This is near the first location of the Skylark. This is the location Cindy’s grandfather would go. Rubber workers would go at shift change from Gates.

The Skylark, both the first location and now the present one are on South Broadway. It opened in 1943. It has one of America’s best poolrooms that opened in 2006. The pictures show how cool this place is. They have great music and good food too. Everything about this place is righteous. Cindy’s grandfather lived just a couple of blocks off Broadway near US 6, one of the entries into Denver just like “99” was into Seattle.

Another view, this was her grandpa on her dad's side

Cindy's grandmother Marjorie's house in nearby Longmont

Cindy’s grandmother Marjorie’s house in nearby Longmont

The three of us with Kevin in the middle in front of his house near Denver University

The three of us with Kevin in the middle in front of his house near Denver University

Cindy with her cousin Holly, and her husband Bill who teaches on line writing. The backdrop is the Bonnie Brae in an old Denver neighborhood of the same name. The Bonnie Brae opened in 1934.

Cindy with her cousin Holly, and her husband Bill who teaches on line writing. The backdrop is the Bonnie Brae in an old Denver neighborhood of the same name. The Bonnie Brae opened in 1934.

Great, I mean great ice cream

Great, I mean great ice cream

The Bonnie Brae in 1938

The Bonnie Brae in 1938

The Bonnie Brae just after the war, this a fine neighborhood bar

The Bonnie Brae just after the war, this a fine neighborhood bar

Kevin and Carla's beautiful place

Kevin and Carla’s beautiful place

We had such a great time in Denver. I’ll put up more pictures, because they tell a story. El Chapultepic is one of those. After Kevin’s work was done for the day he wanted to go out and party. Kevin and his sister were involved in property management. He was good at it, and his properties were in good shape.

He took us to the oldest bar in Denver, maybe the entire state. It had #1 on it’s booze license. It’s displayed over the hand-carved oak bar built and crafted in 1857. Opened in 1893 it abounds in folklore. If you are the youngest member of the infamous Buffalo hunter, Bill Cody then you probably should have the name Shorty Scout Zietz. I wrote it, you have figure out how to pronounce his name. Buffalo Bill and Chief Red Cloud have been there along with almost any famous person there ever has been.

I’ll write more about the incredible night out Cindy and I had with Kevin. One picture I want you to notice is the one of Cindy’s great uncle who served with distinction with Senator Bob Dole in the 10th Mountain Division. They trained near Leadville, the old mining town. He was an accomplished downhill skiing pioneer in Colorado. The story of the mountaineers is fascinating. More about Leadville down the road.

THIS IS AN UNUSUAL DISPLAY OF PICTURES BECAUSE THE HISTORIC BUCKHORN EXCHANGE IS AN UNUSUAL PLACE. IT IS OF ANOTHER TIME. I HAVE REALLY NOT CARED FOR SEEING ANIMALS MOUNTED ON A WALL, BUT THEN I HAVE NEVER BEEN A HUNTER. I THOUGHT PUTTING ALL OF THE PICTURES IN THE GALLERY IS THE ONLY WAY I COULD CONVEY HOW ‘UNPRPARED’ WE WERE FOR WHAT WE WITNESSED.

An audio story from the Colorado Historical Society tells the Buckhorn Exchange was closed for a perfect of time to ‘remove’ some of the items that were in bad taste. As I write about sites like the Buckhorn I find even more information which makes this so much more fun because I learn more and I get to relive it. My friends will get to decide how they want to know.

This night we spent with Kevin ended up like a whirlwind adventure visiting Denver’s history. One of our last stops was Auraria. An old town of fortune hunters that came from Georgia with the hopes of striking it rich.
They found gold and when war broke out they returned to Georgia to fight for the confederacy.

The story doesn’t end there, oh my no … it get’s more interesting. You see another group of settlers come and they love the place so much they want to start a new state of Jefferson. The vote fails, but Denver annexes and the miners ‘party’ in Denver on what will become South Broadway. More immigrants, mostly North European, drive off the Arapahoe.

Time marches on and because of the Colorado Historical Society you can catch a glimpse. The area of old Auraria is coveted for the site of a controversial new-old university, Denver. There already is a University of Denver so the new one will be called the Metro State University of Denver. After the homeowners are forced to sale, a deal is made to keep one block with the confines of the campus. The historic district of 9th Street is born. Some of the properties become University offices, the Tivoli Brewery becomes the Tivoli Student Union Building.
Cindy took some of these pictures at night at the end of our trippin’ through some of Denver’s best old bars including one where Cassidy and Kerouac hung out at. Other pictures are from the historical site and Metro State. Wouldn’t it be funny if their nickname was the bureaucrats.

One of the homes on 9th St., I think it's a 1890's mansion

One of the homes on 9th St., I think it’s a 1890’s mansion

The plaque that tells the story of Ninth Street Park

The plaque that tells the story of Ninth Street Park

This is another plaque that tells more of the story

This is another plaque that tells more of the story

These houses are amazing, a street from the past preserved inside of a campus .... neat

These houses are amazing, a street from the past preserved inside of a campus …. neat

I think this the house on 9th where Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir lived

I think this the house on 9th where Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir lived

Women's studies

Women’s studies

The Catholic Cathedral, many of the immigrants that settled in Auraria were catholic

The Catholic Cathedral, many of the immigrants that settled in Auraria were catholic

Historic 9th Street district, the archives of the CHS

Historic 9th Street district, the archives of the CHS

Recent view of the 9th from Metro State

Recent view of the 9th from Metro State

I think this is now a bookstore and coffee shop, it was once a store in the 1890's

I think this is now a bookstore and coffee shop, it was once a store in the 1890’s

The plaque reads:

THE AURARIA TOWNSITE
AND NINTH STREET HISTORIC PARK

The Auraria Higher Education Center is located on the site of Denver’s oldest continuously occupied settlement. In 1858, William Green Russell and his brothers found gold nearby and established the pioneer town of Auraria, which merged with Denver in 1860.

Auraria continued to flourish between 1872 and 1906 when the houses preserved on the Ninth Street Historic Park were constructed. The oldest restored residential block in Denver, Ninth Street incorporates a variety of architectural styles ranging from carpenter Gothic to brick bungalow.

The city’s ethnic diversity also has been reflected by the Auraria neighborhood. Arapahoe Indians once camped here, and the community subsequently Germans, Scots-Irish, Irish, Jewish, Hispanic and other residents. Ninth Street Park and other historic campus buildings remain as a reminder that Auraria was the place where Denver began.

[reverse]
The Auraria Higher Education Center owes a special thanks to Historic Denver, Inc., a private, non-profit organization which raised nearly one million dollars to restore the Ninth Street houses, slated for demolition when the campus was built. Over 900 individuals, corporations and foundations participated in this historic preservation project.

Landscaping of the three-acre park was provided through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a cooperative project of the Colorado Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation and the National Park Service.

Ninth Street Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a historic district by the Denver Landmark Preservation District.

The Auraria Foundation
August, 1990

The above plaque does skate over a few issues. When Auraria was being built, many of these homes were still occupied by original families, poor families, who lost everything when the city condemned the property. The residents were given ‘fair market value’, but could not find homes in as safe an area to which to move. It was an ugly splotch on the Auraria development, of which I was a student at the time.

Here is some audio from the historical society about the 9th street district.

http://www.denverstorytrek.org/sites/ninth-street-historic-park

My Brother’s Bar at 15th and Platte is a bar that besides being old, had Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassidy as customers on the ’50’s. Denver has a very smooth rum that I just found on line. Every bar and liquor store from Denver back to Tacoma was a no go. The owner’s of My Brother’s had some notes and an article about the place and Neal Cassidy’s connection. He had run up a four dollar tab before he went to the reformatory. There is a letter Cassidy wrote to a lawyer trying to get him to pay the tab. My Brother’s was called Paul’s Place then. There has been a bar at the corner off and on since 1873. The owner had picked up some great stories. I’ll see if I can find something on Google.

When we parked to go into the bar we ran into a cross country motorcyclist on a BMW that was coming down from Alaska heading back home to Mexico. He had some good stories. It sounded like a pretty good trip. Coming to My Brother’s was no accident he had heard from someone on the road to check this place out. Yeah Kevin knew the type of places that we would like. What a cool cousin with great stories.

OK I found a couple, these are from Denver Westward restaurants by Ariel Fried

Inside the bar

Inside the bar

outside the bar

outside the bar

We ended up at the El Chapultepic on Market. It was great, and the music was off the charts. We heard great blues. And this was the only El Chapultepic we came across. Montezumas’s castle, immortalized in the Marine Corp anthem. When we left the bar we were all greeted by the Denver police who kept an eye on everybody so we would all leave and not hang around, we got the message and split.

El Chapultepic on Market opened in 1933, we sat in the booth and heard great blues and drank damn fine rum .... Black Magic

El Chapultepic on Market opened in 1933, we sat in the booth and heard great blues and drank damn fine rum …. Black Magic

Pete’s Kitchen was the next stop, the next day. These were the obvious places Cassidy hung out. We got some great pictures. It hasn’t changed much at all. I always liked to cross the ‘Ave’ from the Century to hit the Hasty Tasty, both are gone. Pete’s is still there these diners are part of Americana and they keep disappearing, won’t it be a tragic day when all we are left with is Denny’s.

Pete's and the comedy joint next door

Pete’s and the comedy joint next door

Pete's Kitchen on Colfax, Cassidy sobered up here a lot of times

Pete’s Kitchen on Colfax, Cassidy sobered up here a lot of times

Some fine old houses, Denver had a lot

Some fine old houses, Denver had a lot

IMG_1643

IMG_1639

All of these houses were just a block away from Colfax. Looking at the street it’s easy to see it has character. Cindy had one must, we had to see the Brown Palace and if we could she wanted to see the amusement park where her grandpa took her. Elitch Gardens opened in 1890, it moved to it’s new location in 1995 in central Denver.

One of Denver's oldest and finest hotels, the Brown Palace

One of Denver’s oldest and finest hotels, the Brown Palace

It was built in 1892 of sandstone and red granite,

It was built in 1892 of sandstone and red granite,

What do you think, $300 a night?

What do you think, $300 a night?

During our Denver visit we climbed the mountains to say hello to Rob’s, when you send things into space and you have two kids and you are married and over 40, you are no longer Robbie. They had just gone to China, to give a ‘send off’ to Rob’s dad and my long time friend Ozzie. Below is a link to my memorial to him.

http://zelsj.mlblogs.com/2014/03/05/rest-in-peace-old-friend-a-memorial-to-david-ozzie-osborne/

On top of this emotional time, he and Heide had just had a week long wake for a very good friend with a lot of friends who stayed there. After talking with Rob, he insisted we come. Up Broadway and past the Skylark to US 6 we went. Out towards Colorado Springs, damn if we didn’t see something I have never seen. You should know I was a dispatcher on the Indiana Toll Road and saw and heard a lot of mind bending things. Like ‘deer whistles’, they go on your bumper and when the wind goes through the tiny cylinder it makes a high pitched sound. These days it’s ridiculed. To see a cross walked marked for deer crossing topped the whistle. Maybe it works, high cyclone fences were on both sides of US 6. Each side of the street there was a entry at the cross walk. Weird.

overlooking the view from Rob and Heide's up in the mountains

overlooking the view from Rob and Heide’s up in the mountains

At dusk, they have a beautiful home and Jake and Pyka are neat kids

At dusk, they have a beautiful home and Jake and Pyka are neat kids

Love my commute is what Rob posted. This the type of scenery he sees when he comes down the mountain

Love my commute is what Rob posted. This the type of scenery he sees when he comes down the mountain

I can see why he loves his commute. They have a great life!

I can see why he loves his commute. They have a great life!

Driving to Leadville we talked about what a great time we had in Denver. Kevin took us to some really neat places. We even went to the amusement park, but not the Elitch it costs bunches of money. When we got there they closed the park because of severe weather and heavy rain and flooding. The police turned us around when we entered the parking area. They were a lot more gruff then how I am describing it.

The rain was coming down in sheets. We looked for a place to take cover, and saw a hospital with a covered entrance and pulled under the cover waiting for it to stop. It came down harder, the drains could not handle the downpour. The thunder claps got closer and closer and the bolts coming out of the sky got closer to the sound of thunder. Then, the loudest hit of thunder . . . it was like an explosion. Then a blinding bolt and crack just hundreds of feet away. It was close and we split and ventured out of the area . . . carefully, because the drains overflowed and flooded one lane.

It was damn exciting, Kevin told us this great story of a college being built around a late 19th century street that was not far away from where we were. The storm had passed and it was early so it was to the Metro State University of Denver. There was a beautiful cathedral at the site. It was tremendous. As we continued to head to Leadville we just had smiles on our face about how neat “Return to 55” was going.

As usual when we pulled into Leadville we weren’t sure where we were going to stay. Turquoise Lake caught our eye and we gassed up and asked how to get there. After a trial we found County Road 9 from County Road 4 and there was the campground. Now we just had to find our site. It was really pretty nice, a view of the lake and not to far away. The garbage was kept in bear proof containers that were ‘effin’ hard for humans to get in.

After we got set up and paid for a couple of nights and headed back to Leadville and dinner. Didn’t feel like cooking this night, we went up and down Harrison looking for a diner. It was for sale if you ever wanted to own a diner called the Golden Burro in Leadville. It looked like the streets flooded because the sidewalks were as high as they are in Puerto Vallarta.

The Burro was pretty full which is a good sign, it usually means good food. Spotted a booth in the back and easily slid in, the old booths had plenty of room. The menus had a history of the gold strikes in the area and the main characters in this one act play. Listen up to the players, Baby Doe, H.A.W. Tabor, the Ice Palace, the gold strike at California Gulch, the Utes, the Matchless, the brothels, the bars and the murders. This was the west, the real west.

After a delightful meal, coffee and dark rum, but too full for desert, we headed back to the car with the hope that we would take the driving tour to see the abandoned mines. I’ve got to say when we crawled in the tear drop we knew we were going to have a great night’s sleep. As we did every day, we expressed our love and kissed the other good night. If there were lingering unpleasant thoughts this seemed to erase them and give us a good night’s sleep and start the new day fresh. We always made sure our site had a little, sometimes very little, privacy for those early morning calls in the dark.

The Silver King's (H.A.W. Tabor) Widow, Baby Doe, was found dead in this cabin in 1935. She had lived there since Tabor died in the early 20th Century

The Silver King’s (H.A.W. Tabor) Widow, Baby Doe, was found dead in this cabin in 1935. She had lived there since Tabor died in the early 20th Century

 Tabor made and lost millions operating the Matchless Mine near Leadville and died in Denver as a postmaster. He been a US Senator and ended up dying broke. He gave the mine to Baby Doe but it dried up


Tabor made and lost millions operating the Matchless Mine near Leadville and died in Denver as a postmaster. He been a US Senator and ended up dying broke. He gave the mine to Baby Doe but it dried up

Leadville's Harrison Street

Leadville’s Harrison Street

Another view of Harrison Street (US 24)

Another view of Harrison Street (US 24)

THE ABANDONED MINES OF LEADVILLE

At the height of Leadville’s boom in the late 1870’s there were 70 mines and mining companies. it was Colorado’s 2nd largest city, only Denver was larger. It all started with the magical cry . . . gold in California Gulch which is just south of Leadville. And it went crazy from there. It was 1860 the insanity of what would become Leadville began. The city directory of 1879 showed what happened since Abe Lee and his partners made the pact if they found gold, they would fire four shots in the air. There were, this is an impressive list; 10 dry goods stores, including the May company which outfitted miners, H. A. W. Tabor came to Leadville to sell to and grub stake would be prospectors to work their claim. Tabor took his profits and opened the Little Pittsburg Mine and later the Matchless, it would make Tabor and his wife rich beyond their wildest dreams.

Four churches had opened, Four banks to take care of the miner’s gold, 31 restaurants, 120 saloons with just as many gambling houses, 19 beer halls and a lot of brothels . . . anything you wanted in Leadville could be found. Once gold was discovered, the miners came and the rest followed. In 1879 there was approximately a population of 24,000 ….. over 4,000 were women. It was wild and lawless. Dandy’s, gamblers and whores flooded into Leadville. For everyone that came to work it seemed others came to strip them of their of their money.
State street was home of the bawdy halls, anything . . . anything you wanted was on State Street. Many young men died when they laid down in a drunken stupor never to wake up and were found the next morning frozen to death.

One of the more unusual stories takes place in May of 1882, fire broke out at one of Leadville’s main intersections. In a matter of hours, a square block was ashes and where once stood an upscale hotel was gone. There were two volunteer departments and they literally fought over who got to fight the fire and who got paid. While fire blazed and destroyed property, the drunken firemen kept fighting. After this the mayor organized a Leadville fire department, government not private. Just reading history of this place is spellbinding.

Anything and everything was for sale, and could be stolen. When St. Vincent’s hospital opened, it filled quickly to capacity. If a miner needed care, it could cost him his ‘poke’. In Christian J. Buys book he gives this description of a place called Stillborn Street, “The lowest rung on the social ladder was crowded with an army of variously painted and gowned harlots. There were those who haunted the saloons, dance halls, and cribs on State Street and those who ran the ‘fancy houses’ on West Third and West Fifth Streets ……. The number of bodies of men women, and children in Stillborn Alley, especially unwanted infants born ….. along State Street surely gave the alley it’s name.”

The likes of the ‘Unsinkable Molly’ Brown, ‘Doc’ Holliday’, Tom Horn, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, the Daltons, and scores of famous actors, writers, poets, politicians and many presidents. Tabor was a flash in the pan, in just a couple of decades he was broke. The history of Leadville is fascinating and interesting and very accessible. I’ve just tried to peak your interest.

This is the old St. Vincent's Hospital built in 1878. Now it is a "condo".

This is the old St. Vincent’s Hospital built in 1878. Now it is a “condo”.

Some of the old homes in Leadville.

Some of the old homes in Leadville.

More old homes, just picked at random

More old homes, just picked at random

Turquoise Lake

Turquoise Lake

Rockin' away reading about Leadville

Rockin’ away reading about Leadville

THE MUSEUM DISPLAY OF THE INCREDIBLE 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION

It was time to head east, ahead we knew was a place called Muscatine, Iowa and friends of Cindy’s. I was looking forward to seeing Ernie and Gwen and Elkhart. One last stop, even though it was bit out of the way and I think it is just a place slipped our mind but it was near Woody Creek and off I-70, Parachute, Colorado. It was where Kid Curry left this world at the hand of his own gun. The Hole in Wall Gang had robbed a train and the posse caught up with them, a big shoot out and everyone but Curry got away. The ‘Law’ closed in, and as they approached he shot himself. There was this sign in the rest area.

11417612

55f37f23-3368-4047-82e7-c2ddaeaae9da

“The Getaway”

On June 7, 1904, Kid Curry crossed Battlement Mesa near here after robbing a train west of Parachute. He was accompanied by two fellow members of Butch Cassidy’s notorious “Hole in the Wall” gang.

In hot pursuit was a posse composed of lawmen from both Parachute and Grand Junction and several ranchers.

After crossing Battlement Mesa, the posse caught up with and exchanged fire with the robbers on Mamm Creek east of here. The outlaws escaped unharmed and rode on to Divide Creek where they stole horses and continued east.

Finally, on East Divide Creek, the posse again overtook the outlaws. Hidden behind rocks, the desperadoes warned the lawmen and ranchers to “go back or get hurt.” Ignoring this warning, the posse went for their guns. In the ensuing battle, one of the robbers was heard to say that he had been hit and that he was going to finish the job. A single, final shot rang out, then all was quiet. Cautiously, the posse approached the rocks behind which the outlaws had been hiding. They found one man dead with wounds in his chest and head. The latter were plainly self-inflicted.

The other two outlaws whose horses were causalities of the battle, fled on foot into the cedar trees along East Divide Creek. They were never identified and they were never seen again.

The dead man, later positively identified by the Pinkerton Detective Agency as Harvey Logan, alias “Kid Curry”, was taken to Glenwood Springs. There he was buried near the site of Doc Holliday’s grave.

The money or gold — if any — that the robber obtained from their ill-fated crime has never been found or accounted for.”

From another sign near Parachute

Muscatine was a couple of days down the road. We knew the way there would be US 6 which went along the railroad tracks. Brooklyn, NY was Jessica’s home, now we had to fine a place near Brooklyn where our ‘tear drop’ could be parked. This meant this would be one of the few times we needed to plan. Cindy came up with a place in Jersey City five blocks from the subway into New York. Our goal would be to get there by July 24th, Jess’ birthday. Along the way we would visit my friends Ernie and Gwen in Elkhart and Bridget and her husband and family in Muscatine, an old town on the Mississippi. Bridget is an old friend of Cindy’s family. I worked with Ernie in radio in Indiana.

Into Nebraska we drove, not much of a fanfare . . . we drove over a bridge and ‘zap’ the Corn Husker state. US 6 goes the length of the country, Maine and New York out to California. Imperial was the first city Route 6 hit in Nebraska. The concept of a connected highway system began in 1925 and for the most part was consolidated in ’38. Driving the US ‘shield’ highways is a course in history. We were going to be on this highway for at least a couple of days. We had a couple of ‘road’ books that gave us the ‘highlights’ of the different roads.

In Nebraska we settled on a state recreation area called Enders. It turned out we had our first ‘snafu’ with Garmin, a GPS locator that uses satellite co-ordination for positioning. The ‘navigation’ that followed was hilarious but not at the time. Flying by our turn we tried to recover, but it was too late. It was miles before we found a place we could turn our trailer around. Back we went to the spot, now all of this was not Garmin’s fault. Operator error I believe is the terminology used these days. We hit the turn off, which quickly turned to gravel and then dirt. We went miles until we came to an intersection. We turned right, I still don’t what direction that was. Our compass pointed SW, but it pointed SW for are whole We thought this must be the direction to a recreation area, we hoped they had water and restrooms.

It seemed that we were on a narrow farming road, and miles later it seemed more like that. The road got narrower, the farms got bigger and we became more lost. Enders had a lake, small but still a lake. We were sure we weren’t going to see a lake in this area. Now we knew we had to turn around, finally there was a driveway with a huge ditch next to it. We were learning how to back up the teardrop, but we were . . . at best . . . at best amateurs.

I began to back up very slowly. Gary had told us to keep the trailer in our rear view mirror. The teardrop is squirly, after trial and error and warnings from Cindy we were heading for the ditch. With a lot of luck we made it and we back tracked to Route 6 and to a gas station where we could get directions. This all would have been solved, if we had just checked Garmin for nearby campgrounds. As you can see we arrived safely. Just to relax we had ice cream. We did this a lot, we found a lot of great places for ice cream.

Finally Enders Recreation Area

Finally Enders Recreation Area

Some of the views of Nebraska we viewed driving down Route 6

As you can see there is a lot of corn in Nebraska and a good number of ethanol plants. Each field of corn had tags identifying the source of seeds. Not one displayed was Monsanto. Even more peculiar, 2/3 of the corn grown is for ethanol which is subsidized which might account for Nebraskan farmers hesitation to support ‘fracking’ or the Keystone Pipeline. What isn’t grown for ethanol is split between human consumption and feed for animals
Along side of US 6 are railroad tracks maintained by the Union Pacific. They brag about being the ‘road’ Lincoln built with the passage of the 1862 Railroad Act. The Amtrak, the California Zephyr travels the same road from Chicago to San Francisco.

US 6 has a long history as a ‘transcontinental’ road from Maine through New York and San Francisco. The highway was named the Grand Army of the Republic’ highway after a vets organization from the Union Army. In New York it is called the Roosevelt Highway after Theodore. Many of the US highways that are Main Streets in America’s small towns, have been listed as historic districts to attract tourism from the Interstates. For us, pulling a trailer and wanting to take our time we enjoyed the ‘laid back’ feel of the drive through Nebraska and Iowa.

A town that impressed us was Exeter. We had been on Route 6 for hours, we breezed through towns. Within blocks of the highway was the tracks. The towns were pretty close to seven miles apart. Each town was like the other, coming into the town were all of the churches. The towns retained their charm but a century of development has taken it’s toll on the ‘shops’. Now mostly they are chain operated, an example is Casey’s General Store. A better stocked 7-11 is more like what it looked. Each town had a city park, and they were all close to or on Route 6. All of the houses and lawns were immaculate. Everything looked like a diorama in HO Gauge railroad in someone’s massive basement. You know how something where everything in place makes you get a chill down your back because it is too perfect, well that was Nebraska ….. at least along Route 6.

Exeter was a good choice to stop and rest and change drivers. The plaque in the park was very descriptive and very well and carefully worded, almost antiseptically so. It made you wonder if anything bad ever happened, maybe like someone going stark raving mad and shooting the place up.

Pilots were picked at Fairmont Field to train in B-29’s to drop the ‘A’ bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was September of 1944. Because Fairmont, near Exeter, trained hundreds of pilots to fly the B-17, the heavy bomber, the B-24 Liberator and the Super Fortress B-29 it would be the site to crews for the top secret mission.

Now like so many areas in the US activists want to keep these places alive to preserve history and draw tourists. I hope they succeed, it’s going to be tough. Crop dusters land their fast and agile mosquito quick planes on the field now and the hangers are filled with ethanol bound corn.

The story of Exeter

The story of Exeter

A neat mural on the wall of the firehouse, we saw a lot of murals and it was a great way to learn the history of an area.

A neat mural on the wall of the firehouse, we saw a lot of murals and it was a great way to learn the history of an area.

Downtown Exeter

Downtown Exeter

The Burlington-Missouri River Railroad preceded the Union-Pacific by a decade but this opinion from the Appellate Court explains the power of the 1862 Railroad Act. What wasn’t explained was who the land belonged to that the immigrants who were recruited settled. The plaque makes ‘crystal’ clear about the role the immigrants and the railroads played.

“By the eighteenth section of the act of Congress of July 2, 1864, amending the act of 1862, ‘to aid in the construction of a railroad and telegraph line from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean, and to secure to the government the use of the same for postal, military, and other purposes,’ the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad Company, an existing corporation under the laws of Iowa, was authorized to extend its road through the then Territory of Nebraska from the point where it strikes the Missouri River, south of the mouth of the Platte River, to some point not further west than the one hundredth meridian of west longitude, so as to connect by the most practicable route with the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad, or with that part of it which runs from Omaha to the said meridian.”

The railroads recruited European immigrants to buy land they received from the US government because of a combination of the Homestead Act and the Railroad Act to rip off the settlers who settled on Indian land which ended up in the battles of the Plains War, this quote from the Legends of America.

“Though settlement was slow in the beginning, the pioneers continued to push in, leading to more and more conflicts with the Indians. One of the first major clashes to take place was the Battle of Ash Hollow, fought in western Nebraska in 1855. More skirmishes followed and troops were sent in to subdue the Indians in 1859. The Homestead Act in 1862 brought yet more settlers. During the Civil War many regular troops were withdrawn from Plains military posts to fight in the east. The Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho, seizing this opportunity, attempted to drive white settlers from their land.

More views of Exeter…..

Gas Station from decades ago along Route 6

Gas Station from decades ago along Route 6

Leaving Exeter

Leaving Exeter

World War II era Quonset Huts from Fairmont

World War II era Quonset Huts from Fairmont

corn, we saw lots of it

corn, we saw lots of it

We left the KOA outside of Lincoln after getting ‘lost’ in the weirdest string of strip malls. We were looking for rum, Black Magic of course and an electric charger for a cell phone. Up ’till then Cindy could only charge it in the car. We went to a strip mall that reflected the times with abandoned stores with homeless occupying spaces near the closed up stores. In the same area opulent stores were open for business ….. weird huh. We found the charger not the rum. Nebraska has weird liquor laws. Wine with dinner tonight. After a fashion and with the help of Garmin we weaved are way through a number of detours.

Now we were on our way to Muscatine on the ‘Big Muddy’. Cities on the Mississippi are special. After a hundred miles or so we set on Rock Island, Illinois. You know, the line that is a mighty fine line, get your ticket at the station …. take the ….. here’s Cash …..

Iowa was similar to Nebraska, a lot of corn. Iowa had one difference, the length of Route 6 in Iowa there was not a weed, not one single weed. Iowa was mowed, every strip of grass was trimmed. Corn fields, then grass. All the parks were mowed. When the sun went down, they turned on the lights of their riding lawn mowers. And there was ice cream. We found a really great place. We stopped for ice cream at a lot of neat places, this was one of them.

I was looking forward to Muscatine. An old river town on the Mississippi, all of Mark Twain’s stories raced through my mind as we headed eastbound on Route 6. I hope you saw the picture of the Ice Cream Shoppe. It was one of the best. Some of our great experiences and memories came from the hunt for ice cream in the afternoons of our trip.

I see there is an effort to bring back all of US 6 that bypassed the small towns, Iowa 83 is the designation they have now and they will re-sign these bypasses with the signage of ‘US Historic 6’. After the success the Route 66 historic Association has had in getting travelers to spend money in small towns, many communities are organizing to get in on the action. It’s odd, because the opportunity has always been there. This was the whole idea of ‘Return to 55’. I’ve always liked the US highways over the interstates. Read “Blue Highways” which is still one of the best books about travelling or “Travels with Charlie” and “On the Road” deserve another look. If you are interested in Route 6, here is their site:

http://www.route6tour.com/Route6iowa.htm

Muscatine was on my radar because of Mark Twain. It’s a river town and Twain spent a lot of time on the Mississippi. The picture of the 19th Century steamboat brings all of this to mind now, and did as we were on our way to Rock Island. Our camp site was near the water but not on the river. The next day we headed to Muscatine to visit Bridget and her husband Mark and their kids. They operate a 2nd hand store in a struggling mall close to the historic 2nd Avenue in downtown Muscatine.

This is what the Mississippi means to me

This is what the Mississippi means to me

It was a trip to get to Muscatine because there were so many detours because of road construction. Since we were on old US routes we can report there was a hell of a lot of road construction that waylaid us. This was good, any inconvenience was off set by the jobs that were created.

On our way back we left downtown Muscatine along Iowa/Illinois 92 over the Becky Bridge which replaced a bridge that collapsed in 1956. It was repaired and the new bridge opened in 1972. It’s a traditional truss structure similar to the old one that lasted 80 years, even though it collapsed twice. In ’56 the bridge went down when a speeding car trying to get away from the police went out control and hit one of the bridge supports. No one died but many cars went into the river.

The High  Bridge over the Mississippi built in 1891

The High Bridge over the Mississippi built in 1891

Cindy in front of the Norbert F. Becky bridge built  in 1972 replacing the High Bridge

Cindy in front of the Norbert F. Becky bridge built in 1972 replacing the High Bridge

crossing the Becky Bridge heading to Rock Island

crossing the Becky Bridge heading to Rock Island

The beautiful Becky Bridge

The beautiful Becky Bridge

After the visit with Cindy’s friends we drove around Muscatine, got lost once or twice because of all of the road construction. Going back to Rock Island we really got screwed up when we got off the highway following the detour.

A MUSCATINE SUNSET

“And I remember Muscatine–still more pleasantly–for its summer sunsets. I have never seen any on either side of the ocean that equaled them. They used the broad smooth river as a canvas, and painted on it every imaginable dream of color, from the mottled daintiness and delicacies of the opal, all the way up, through cumulative intensities to blinding purple and crimson conflagrations which were enchanting to the eye but sharply tried it as the same time. All the Upper Mississippi region has these extraordinary sunsets as a familiar spectacle. It is the true sunset land. I am sure no other country can show so good a right to the name. The sunrises are also said to be exceedingly fine. I do not know.” Mark Twain from “Life on the Mississippi”

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about their history museum, in case you get to this area I will link to the site. The museum features Muscatine’s two big industries. The Mississippi has mussels, the pearls made into buttons made Muscatine the pearl button capital of the world. In 1905 1.5 billion pearl buttons were made. Over 1/3 of the manufactured pearl buttons came from the mussels out of the Mississippi. They were shipped out on the Rock Island line, up and down the Mississippi and out Highway 61. Later, in the 50’s, Muscatine’s other claim to fame began. Re-tread tires are big business in Muscatine. Here’s a lot more information from their history website.

http://www.muscatinehistory.org/bandag

History continued to ride with us as we set out for Elkhart on US 6, the Grand Army of the Republic Highway and in eastern Illinois we were going to connect to the oldest highway in the US, the transcontinental Lincoln Highway to Elkhart and what they, the developers, call Michiana. At least the sales staff of FM 98 did when they were trying to attract regional and national clients.

Heading to Elkhart the great and painful memories of my time there came to mind as we drove east. After getting fired, laid off or asked to resign from the Indiana Toll Road I made plans to return back to Puget Sound. These thoughts all came to mind. I remember how terribly excited I was to be hired to work in Indiana. Linda Leesor was from Indiana. I always had a ‘crush’ on her. Just going back to Indiana again brought back a flood of memories. There was the great times at the Studebaker Museum and the diorama of the local history during World War II.

The interview with Dottie Schroeder who played for the South Bend Blue Sox during the war, their exploits were made famous in the Madonna movie. We started out talking about the All American Girls Baseball League and ended up talking about life in South Bend during the war. A 24 hour town, Dottie called it when I was in her kitchen. She talked about life on the Home Front. The factories were running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Singer was making bullet shells by the ton, Studebaker’s assembly line was turning out deuce and-half’s for troop transports and Bendix was making brakes for the big bombers. Day shift, swing and graveyard people worked; and when they got off shift the bars were open too. First rate bands stopping over on their way to New York or back to Chicago played, I won’t ever forget that mischievous twinkle in her eyes when she said there was more ‘action’ than a girl could ask for or hope for.

Thoughts of the French Connection, an aerobatic act that I had the great thrill to fly with as a way to promote the Elkhart Airshow. As we watched the scenery race by on US 6 headed for our exit to Route 30, I remembered flying high into the clouds in Montaine’s Cap 10, an agile and fast prop plane. When we reached the top of the climb, she cut the engine and the plane dived until she pulled it out and did a 360 and a barrel roll finishing off with her husband flying directly above her cockpit with his nearly touching hers. Sadly they were both killed a decade ago practicing this maneuver.

FM 98, oh yeah maybe all in all the best gig I had in radio. Operating out of an old trailer with a disgusting stained old carpet it broadcast across Michiana. I don’t know why but it flashed to me, the Brookdale Club on County Road 6 just east of Cassopolis Street near the state line. FM 98 was holding it’s first oldies sock hop. I saw a brunette that caught my eye and I asked her to dance and she was my gal for a couple of years. I had nice, and once in a while weird romances. All of this running through my mind as we exited onto US 30 east towards Wakarusa and up to Goshen on Indiana 15. I remember great parties back by the pool and trips on Friday night to Hunter’s, a pretty cool bar and restaurant. Many late nights were spent there. Gwen and Ernie were good friends and we stayed in touch. He works for the Elkhart School System and Gwen works as a master gardener at Lowes. Ernie and I had good times back in Elkhart, we both worked in the same run down building in Goshen. He worked on the AM side and I worked on the FM. He covered Goshen and I tried to cover Elkhart and St. Joe County with attention to Lower Michigan.

Ernie grew up in Detroit, or at least near it. A huge fan of the U of Michigan and enjoys going to Joe Louis with his friends and wanting the Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup. He, his dad and Uncle would go to Woodward Ave to watch the hot cars. Ernie loves Detroit and is angry about it falling on hard times. He loves the Blues and spent a lot of time listening to John Sinclair playing the music of the Delta. There is something else that Ernie and his friends liked to do, party at the Kentucky Derby. On man, hold on America they loved to be in the infield of Churchill Downs and cut loose. All of his friends have been doing that for a long time, they all had jobs then, some in the industry and Kenny who was with the Fire Department. Now they all have families so there are no more Derby parties.

I went with Ernie to at least three or four of them. It goes something like this. Rendezvous at the Louisville KOA and then, all hell would break loose in Georgia. . . . as they would say. Everybody would roll into the campsite and unload, break open the ½ gallon jugs of booze, set up camp and then while there was a semblance of sobriety …… gather the wood. One of the staples that had to be there ….. gigantic cans of beans. For eating, nah ….. for launching.

After hitting the pool and hot tub before they would get disgustingly gross, which usually happened the first night, everyone headed for the nearby tavern. And man was it different, walking into this joint was like stepping back to 1968. The bar was just across the bridge on a dark, treacherous one lane road. It was a rockin’ joint, but after the first night ‘county mounties’ patrolled the area to keep us inside the grounds of the KOA. By now it was time for the nightly bon fire. Gary has a theory about bon fires, see if you agree. White boys waste fire by making it bigger than they need it to show off, Indians are wiser they make it only as big as they need it.

By the last night, after the derby, the booze is usually gone, and seemingly all the ‘mint juleps’ that can be drunk have been consumed. The wood is piled up in a pyramid and for good luck it’s doused in gasoline. A torch is lit and thrown on the wood causing a massive explosion and the fire roars almost uncontained. As more folks come around and every last drop booze is rounded up, the fire rages on. When the wood is gone, everything that can be used as fuel is used. It’s at this point, the launching pad is built for the can of beans. Each year the size was different, this one year it was the biggest ‘effin’ can I’d ever seen. It was put in place and forgotten, everyone …. hell 20 or 30 or more around the fire. Ka-bamm the can with trailing beans is launched. It goes hundreds of feet spreading beans like entrails. The Derby is over. There are variations of course, pretty much this was the model.

The police suspiciously gazed on us as earlier in the day as we left the derby grounds. The unspoken rule was, leave the next day, and you won’t be jailed. The armed soldiers stationed with arms at the ready on top of the building with the betting windows were disbanding to go back to their armory. The scores of private jets would fly out of the airport the next day. The party was over, different classes mixing and rubbing elbows with much apprehension, but what a time. Ernie and I always tell stories of past Derby’s, but never planning a future one. Maybe one day when all of their kids have left home, but I’ll probably be too old, or gone. They were all about 20 years younger.

The French Connection

The French Connection

Interviewing Daniel and Montaine, the French Connection

Interviewing Daniel and Montaine, the French Connection

The 'Weasel' a track vehicle made by Studebaker and used in WW II

The ‘Weasel’ a track vehicle made by Studebaker and used in WW II

1954 Studey 'lowboy' , one of many Studebakers designed by Raymond Lowey.... http://www.raymondloewy.com/photo-gallery.html

1954 Studey ‘lowboy’ , one of many Studebakers designed by Raymond Lowey…. http://www.raymondloewy.com/photo-gallery.html

Silver Hawk at Studebaker Museum in South Bend

Silver Hawk at Studebaker Museum in South Bend

1950 Stude 'ragtop, used as a prop in the 1980's 'Wander Indiana' promotion along side a 1952 'Baker

1950 Stude ‘ragtop, used as a prop in the 1980’s ‘Wander Indiana’ promotion along side a 1952 ‘Baker

A special built and designed 1953 Hudson that belonged to a Hollywood Actor running a racing engine .... it was in a private collectors 'barn'

A special built and designed 1953 Hudson that belonged to a Hollywood Actor running a racing engine …. it was in a private collectors ‘barn’

Going away party in 1999

Going away party in 1999

Me and Ernie at the party,  we shared  a lot of great times

Me and Ernie at the party, we shared a lot of great times

I saw Ernie and Gwen with these big smiles a lot

I saw Ernie and Gwen with these big smiles a lot

Doug and Shirley at the party, he istill hanging in there with Worker's Independent News Service and Shirley has retired

Doug and Shirley at the party, he istill hanging in there with Worker’s Independent News Service and Shirley has retired

At their wedding, it was a great event

At their wedding, it was a great event

No words necessary, the smiles speak volumes

No words necessary, the smiles speak volumes

The intersection of Indiana 15 and US 30 would be where we would head north towards Goshen and for good measure up Fifth and towards Marsha and Bernie’s house. I rented their attic in the back after leaving the Creekside Estates. A fancy name for a trailer park. In Indiana that word doesn’t exist, they are ‘mobile homes’, rv’s, double wides ….. never trailer ….. never trailer.

Seeing Ernie and Gwen, it was so much like I had never left. Their house looked just the same, just older. We spent a couple of days, they got to know Cindy and vice-versa. Ernie teaches classes on computer skills at an Elkhart grade school. Gwen, her dream… Master Gardener. Lot of catching up to do, lot’s gone down. Usually a couple times a year we catch up, he with bourbon and me, now, with rum. With Skype we can talk for hours with very little cost. This catch-up was going to be the real deal, to be complete we would have to be outside but it was too damn cold. We had the props, bottle of booze, beer and the time.

We staked out our territory, Ernie the power chair, every home has a power chair just not every house. The guest always finds a suitable spot. A place to put bottle or bottles, and not too comfortable. Cindy and Gwen like all women have a limit, maybe better said would be a tolerance level. Usually 90 minutes, this seems to be the max. The area to be covered, interesting at first then as time wears on …… more esoteric and finally almost incoherent. There is a direct correlation to coherence and amount of alcohol consumed.

Lofty ideals at the start then more blurred. Cindy would describe the Doug and Bryan show as convoluted with moments of clarity. She and Shirley excused themselves quite early. They had been there before. With Ernie, the underlying belief that the problems we face are ones caused by poor parenting. This a common theme with teachers. Ernie believes many children at his school don’t have the basics down, like when to use the latrine. I have been thinking, thinking hard dear lord, thinking hard…… Doug asked me what I would do when ISIS or ISIL came knocking on my door. I didn’t have an answer, I also didn’t have an answer to the question ……. what are you going to do when the VC come into San Francisco Bay in their ‘sampans’.

Absence may make the heart grow fonder …. but it also makes the mind forget. While others catch up when they reunite, when I see Doug and Ernie we pick up where we left off. There is a timeline to this. First comes the dance, this is where we find out what the other person has been thinking about. Then comes the sparring, the topic becomes clearer and finally there is the resolution where the realization hits we still think the way we did the last time we talked. We are just better at saying what we think and why.

I don’t work in a grade school, Ernie does and if what he says is true in any way ….. then testing isn’t what we need to do. Parents need to learn how to raise kids. If ISIS is such a threat that they may knock on our door, then I really don’t what we can do. Because the more of ‘them’ that we kill….. then the more of ‘them’ will stand to replace ‘them’.

Ernie is doing well, it’s football time in America and he has a nice TV. His dance card is filled on the weekend. Gwen is working with a very exciting program. It’s called Quilted Gardens. The Amish and the Mennonites create award winning quilts, these gardens look like Quilts.

Have you ever seen anything like this? This is a 'quilt' of flowers at a local mall. It represents Elkhart's great annual Jazz Festival.

Have you ever seen anything like this? This is a ‘quilt’ of flowers at a local mall. It represents Elkhart’s great annual Jazz Festival.

I have linked the Elkhart website so you can see more pictures of the quilts and murals.

http://www.amishcountry.org/explore-the-area/photo-gallery

This project has brought back a lot of the pride in Elkhart. It is incredible and Gwen is absolutely devoted to it. The work Ernie does for Elkhart is also quite incredible. In grade school, the school system in Elkhart recognizes the importance of starting young. I know Ernie and he is really dedicated. Like many teachers, there is frustration with so many of the problems that come from the homes into the schools.

Gnawing at Ernie, and tearing him up is Detroit. The city that ‘created’ the middle class. I prefer to look at as the city that was built by the working class. Ernie grew up in Hazel Park, a community outside of Detroit. One of the ‘flight’ communities. In 1967, rage consumed Detroit, many in the Black community were outraged at the inequality of the time. Here are pictures of the enormous 1963 civil rights march. The term ‘white flight’ was coined to describe white Americans fleeing to ‘suburbs’ and leaving black’s in the wake. Newsreels of old Detroit, as recent as the sixties show Detroit as an incredible city.

Remarkable, incredible, gigantic, groundbreaking, epochal … all words that could describe Detroit’s past, especially the first half of the 20th century. My first trip to Detroit was 20 years ago. Two highlights, Belle Isle and Woodward Ave. are the places we went. Ernie, Sr and his brother Joey drove us around. We saw a lot of Detroit, especially the big factories. Everything was operating, this year a big difference.

This seems to be the place that put’s perspective on 2014 Detroit. This article presents a lot of information. The crisis is visually distorted because of Fabulous Ruins concept. Many of these abandoned buildings have been vacant for decades. Racism contributed to white flight, cheaper homes in the surrounding ‘burbs with lower taxes.

If this were radio I would say give a listen, it’s not so check this out …….

http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20131004/METRO01/310040001

I don’t agree with everything but I think it puts a lot on the table. Hudson and Packard left the scene in the 50’ and 60’s, the question is why did Detroit let the owner’s off the hook. Why are they still an eyesore. A theater is a parking lot. Churches, schools, cop shops, fire department buildings closed. An entire to art genre created: urban exploration and photography.

Ethnic working class neighborhoods empty, some neighborhoods have returned to fields, the irony would be if they become subsidized corn to be used for ethanol. The governor appointed city manager has screwed workers out of their pensions and benefits. 185 plants were turned into manufacturing for the war effort in the 40’s. Now the United States turns it’s back on the city in it’s time of crisis.

We drove up West Jefferson from the south in Monroe. Block after block of abandoned factories, a bridge in the up position that crossed the River Rouge to a mill. A Hungarian neighborhood in shambles with homes so far under water it was better for owners to walkaway and start a new life somewhere else.

Scenes from another world, Detroit

The new factories were built outside of Detroit because white workers moved there so they didn’t have to pay taxes either and they wouldn’t have to live with blacks. Factories, mills, and warehouses were left vacant. Bottom line, racism tore apart the city. It’s an American tragedy, Detroit has driven the economy and now it has been left in the clutches of an anti-union state government. The governor appointed city manager has screwed city workers out of their pensions and ripped away their benefits. The solution many talk about is a new 21st economy, no one knows where the jobs will come from. Black led government has been accused of corruption, white government ….. no one accuses them.

Detroit maybe the key to many trials that lay ahead. Detroit was the modern showcase of industrial America and the battle over workers rights and self esteem. Inside of this dilemma was the struggle for self determination among black people, I am sorry I can’t use the term Afro-American. Motor City became the destination of many from the South who fled to the North.

This was never as clear as 1943. It is in the middle of World War II. Detroit is rolling, factories are turning out everything bullets to tanks and planes. Blacks and whites are pouring into Detroit to fill the jobs that are everywhere because of the war. One problem, racism ….. nearly a race war breaks out on beautiful Belle Isle. Here is a great website I came across wanting to learn about the reasons why Detroit is where it is, this web site was so clear.

http://www.detroits-great-rebellion.com/

125,0000 turned out to march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This was before the March on Washington. Detroit Blacks had enough with segregation, unfair housing …. unfair treatment and they wanted a change. In 1967, there was an uprising during a hot muggy summer. They had enough. They tore Detroit apart and it was never rebuilt. Capitalism fled to the white suburbs and white people fled too, they wanted an escape from taxes and blacks. The ‘N’ word was on the lips of the white community that summer.

Civil Rights March Detroit 1963

1951 Freedom Festival

1951 Freedom Festival

Warren Ave in Detroit before the  war

Warren Ave in Detroit before the war

This bridge is now in the up position because the mill is closed, this is from 1963

This bridge is now in the up position because the mill is closed, this is from 1963

Detroit's skyline

Detroit’s skyline

Cruzin' on Woodward

Cruzin’ on Woodward

This changed everything, white flight ramped up ..... the 1967 uprising

This changed everything, white flight ramped up ….. the 1967 uprising

I am spending time on Detroit because it is as good a laboratory of capitalism that exists. There is a new art form embraced by the young. Here is a very good example of a blog representing incredible photography. There is a television series on Netflix called Forgotten Planet. Detroit and Gary, Indiana are featured.

http://www.nailhed.com/2014/01/escape-from-mclouth-steel.html

Knock yourselves out, this is the ultimate page…… you almost have to be from Detroit. Fascinating

http://www.atdetroit.net/forum/messages/6790/56320.html?1128634929

And finally before going back to Ernie and Gwen and Elkhart, here are some pictures of the famous Miss Pepsi. If you grew up in Detroit in the fifties you remember the famous Gold Cup of 1956 where a court decision decided the winner. It was also the end of the Queen of the course …. Slo-Mo IV. She was destroyed in a crash during qualifying runs. It ended the career of her driver, Joe Taggart. The year before the Slo-Mo V was destroyed in a spectacular 360 flip. Lou Fageol’s career ended. The Slo-Mo’s would never return. The story here is about the Dossin Brothers Miss Pepsi that ruled the Detroit River. Ernie’s dad and brother took me to Briggs Field the old home of the Detroit Tigers and to the Belle Isle Maritime Museum where the Miss Pepsi is housed in a special wing to be admired by all. To the story, during the ’56 Gold Cup Bill Muncey beat the Miss Pepsi in the sleek new fast Miss Thriftway which the lost the ’55 Gold Cup on bonus points to Gale V on Lake Washington. The race was taken away from Muncey when it was charged he hit the #6 buoy. 80 days later the courts ruled Muncey did not hit the buoy and the cup was taken away from Miss Pepsi. She was retired, never raced again and a special time in hydros ended as well. Ernie, Sr., Joe and Ernie, Jr hoisted a few to remember those fine old times.

Miss Pepsi under glass

Miss Pepsi under glass

Miss Pepsi, former APBA champion, driven by Chuck Thompson, owned by the Dossin Bros. Powered by Twin Tandem Allison V-12 WWII aircraft engines, 36 feet in length with 'step' design configuration

Miss Pepsi, former APBA champion, driven by Chuck Thompson, owned by the Dossin Bros. Powered by Twin Tandem Allison V-12 WWII aircraft engines, 36 feet in length with ‘step’ design configuration

Here are more pictures from Ernie and Gwen’s, including there very comfortable house and patio. I spent a lot of time and I am left with a lot of great memories. The picture of Doug and Ernie are from the old Lerner theater and the wonderful backdrop of depression era Elkhart. It was our cable access television show inspired by Marshall Macluhan, the Global Village.

Detroit and Elkhart almost merge, it’s because Ernie is the bridge. I paid attention to what he believes has been wrong with Detroit. I have posted enough about what writers, bloggers, historians, photographers and others think about Detroit. An urban explorer, Logan, said the lesson he says is Detroit can be repeated over and over.

We left Ernie and Gwen headed and set our compass to the east, it always pointed southwest. A disappointing stop at the Elkhart Hall of Fame Museum, it was too much like a RV lot than history. Maybe if others see it the same way it will change. I expected more. When it was down in the Benham area below the New York Central museum it was better.

I wonder if Jeff Daniels still raises his family in a town near US 12. I thought Purgatory and Hell were close to Union. We saw that but not the others. Eastbound we went. Needing a spot near Toledo, Dearborn and Detroit we checked our books. There was a state campground near US 24. Cindy took some pictures of Sterling so that you can share ‘Return to 55’ with us.

I was excited to be able to share the experience of the Ford Museum with Cindy, we didn’t go to Greenfield Village. The Ford Museum is one of the very finest, and a full day would not be enough. There displays about camping and trailers were excellent. Some of the pictures of cars are my favorites. The classic and sleek lines of the 1964 Buick Riviera. The Crosley car, besides being the name of the first home of the Cincinnati Redlegs was an appliance manufacturer. Powell Crosley was a world class inventor that put his name on all sorts of things, including the world’s most powerful radio station, WLW at 700,000 watts. Radios and turntables and even the Moonbeam bi-plane.

We wound up our visit in Detroit and then that night we went to Toledo to watch the Mud Hens. The first day we had spent in Dearborn at the Ford Museum. Their was one section of great cars including the Mustang prototype. These were cars like a 32 Ford, Chrysler Imperial and too many ‘muscle cars to count. It was time now to head for Kent State.

44 years and now Kent State wants to wash itself of the memory of the murder of four young people by a trained National Guard. It’s unacceptable. Going to Kent State was something I had to do. Anyone who knows me, will know how much my experience with the National Guard made on me. Being in the same room with the folks that talked frankly about killing people who were leaders of the anti-war movement and the Black Liberation struggle had a greater impact on me than almost anything other than the death of my father and the birth of Christy. How would you react to reps from the Seattle Mayor’s office, Seattle PD, Seattle Fire Department, the State Patrol, the Sixth Army, NG Command at Camp Muuray ….. FBI too. All talking about how to respond to a ‘massive’ demonstration, mock, in Seattle’s Volunteer Park. It’s located in between the Central District and the University and Capital Hill. Their solution was to kill if necessary. This is why I don’t believe the Kent State Grand Jury’s verdict that the National Guard was not guilty of any crime.

The issue, some four decades plus change later, who, if anyone ordered the guardsmen to fire. Several websites have collected eyewitness accounts. One of the most common, the guardsmen did an abrupt turn to the right. Then got into position to fire. Here is a picture that was used in many of the court sessions.

In a new documentary, members of DEVO who were at Kent State say they saw the guard get into a position to fire. It would be very unusual for guardsmen to assume this position on their own. Especially since there was at least one General, one Lt. Colonel, one Major and at least one Captain as well as many Lieutenants. Enlisted men don’t take upon themselves to fire into a crowd, no matter how much they would want to.

This picture shows eight guardsmen in a kneeling position

This picture shows eight guardsmen in a kneeling position

No one from the NG command acknowledges their men had any riot control training, yet at the time of the shooting there had been at three years since Operation Garden Plot had been issued as National Guard and US police strategy. Reading many comments from guardsmen they contradict themselves, at all levels, whether training occurred or whether the guardsmen had served their six month active duty, including basic training and advanced infantry training. There would be chemical training and weapons training. These would all have happened. At the orders of Johnson and Nixon, guardsmen would go through, at least monthly riot control training.

The question must be, why weren’t the Governor of Ohio, the Mayor of Kent and the President of Kent State forced to testify about this. Here is a wonderful quote from Major Jones of the Ohio National Guard.

But it was basically your conclusion as a professional officer that that firing was not justified under those circumstances?
A) That is my own personal opinion.
Q) As a military officer?
A) As a military officer…and it’s my honest opinion it should not have happened. As I see it from where I was standing and from what I know about the incident, it was against the concepts and the procedures that we had trained in. So if you were in violation of those guidelines and concepts and procedures, whichever one you want to call them, then something is wrong…
Q) And in fact, not justified?
A) I will have to go on record as saying that, sir, yes.”
–Major Harry Jones, Ohio National Guard, testimony under oath, 1974
In this quote you must of noticed he mentions “trained in”. There are so many other quotes that are out there but, except for a few are not put together. That is why I want to do this. Take some quotes and put together. The importance of doing this is if you believe the demonstrators deserved to be killed, then the fact that the leaders of the National Guard are not taking responsibility must bother you a little. Bear with me, see what you think.

And it really only became clear to me, in looking at diagrams this past week–I don’t know why I’ve never really thought about this, or realized it–but the line of fire that killed one of the victims, [Bill] Schroeder, was actually just a very few feet from where I was standing. I was over, at the time that the Guard came back up from the practice field and turned around, and shot — I actually saw them do this, I was staring right at them when they turned and fired — it looked very coordinated at the time. I was certain, when it happened, that it was signalled, and it did not look random at all to me. Because of their all being aimed pretty much in the same direction. With one exception. And that was the rifle that was aimed over, as it now turns out, my direction. The one that killed Bill Schroeder. I didn’t realize anybody was hit around there, but a lot of people were just dropping to the ground. I felt they might be firing rubber bullets, or things like that. And then people just got up and ran the other direction, including me. I went down between Memorial Gym and Lake Hall. I thought, “Well, that’s it. Everybody’s going to all scatter and go home now, and complain, and everything like that.” Walter C. Adams, Kent State Professor

“By early 1969, it was clear that [Ohio Governor James] Rhodes…was preparing to run for the United States Senate…Life Magazine…in late April 1969 featured a picture of Rhodes on its cover along with the headline ”The Governor and the Mobster”… Congressman Robert Taft, Jr…announced he would oppose Rhodes in the [May 5,] 1970 Republican primary election for United States Senate…Rhodes again defended his hardline approach to putting down continuing campus upheavals and again suggested Taft would not be nearly as tough…By one count, Rhodes had called out the Ohio National Guard 44 times…After the Kent ROTC building had been torched the night before, Rhodes ordered troops to the campus…dramatically pounded the table at the Kent firehouse and vowed [on May 3, 1970] he would not cave in to this kind of disorder, emotionally calling the students ‘worse than the brownshirts and the Communist element and also the nightriders and the vigilantes. They’re the worst type of people we harbor in America’…On Monday, May 4…four students were killed…”
–from the book: OHIO POLITICS by Alexander Lamis and Mary Anne Sharkey, 1994

Question: “Isn’t it a fact sir, that there are…circumstances in which a Guardsman may discharge a weapon in a civil disturbance…?”
Answer: “That is correct…if there was an order given by a commissioned officer…preferably a commanding officer…”
Question: “…it is a fact, is it not, that you became in charge of developing the plan that would be implemented by the command, is that correct?”
Answer: “Yes…I was in charge of developing the plan, only the plan.”
–Ohio National Guard Major Harry D. Jones, Federal Court testimony, 1975.

“Shortly after hearing about the fatalities…two coeds went over to a group of three Guardsmen standing in front of Memorial Gymnasium…’Two of the men were older and one was very young…I said that I thought [Governor] Rhodes had a lot to do with it. The younger Guardsman said, ‘You’re damn right, sister—this is all Governor Rhodes’s political stunt’. He was about to say more when the older one told him to shut up. We left.”
—KSU student statement, Commission on KSU Violence, KSU report, Kent, 1971.

And now we’re on Monday morning. And we both went to sleep. And he woke me up and said, “Hey, we’re going to miss that noon rally on campus, or on the Commons.” So we hurriedly got dressed, or I hurriedly got dressed. And we ran over from our dorm over to the Commons. Got over there and wondered where our friends were. My friend rang the Victory Bell. And I went — and we heard that my other dorm friends and good friends were on the other side of the hill, on the other side of the architecture building. So I went running up the, while my friend was ringing the bell, I went running up the side of the south side of the architecture building’s hill. And as I got almost, almost about half way up, I was along the wall of the building there, and the National Guard came up the other side and crested the hill. And what was the, what would have been the rear of this group, basically the whole group started to turn around, but the front, looked like the front row turned around all in unison. And some of them squatted down so the other guys behind them could shoot over their heads. And one of the guys didn’t turn around and just trained his gun on me. And I just stood there looking at that guy. And he just stood there looking at me. Although I guess you can’t see them with those masks on anyhow. Those gas masks make them look like … Well anyway, O.K., so I could see what was happening. They were shooting at where my friends were supposed to be. And so I stood there until that guy took his gun off of me. And then they kind of looked like they were starting to mill around just a bit. And so I went running down to the Commons yelling, “They’re shooting! They’re shooting at us!” And anyway, something to that effect. And somebody, a couple people grabbed me and shoved me and somebody punched me in the ear, which ended up bleeding, telling me, “Nobody’s shooting anybody!” Well, I decided it might be safer to go back up over the hill. So I turned around and ran back up over the hill. And I got to the top of the hill, I had to go right by the Guard. And the Guard, now they were definitely just milling around. And these two girls came over by me, and as I was coming up the hill, and said, “We got to get them to get help, get ambulances! A lot of people hurt!” So, they kind of dragged me over with them towards the Guard. And the Guard said, “Nobody’s hurt! Nobody’s hurt!” And then the girl said, “Do you have any dimes? We’ll go call ambulances ourselves!” And so we frisked my pockets and I happened to have dimes. I don’t know why. So they dragged me into, these two girls dragged me into the architecture building and I was just shaking, giving them my dimes. And they’re trying to call ambulances. And then we went back out, I went back outside. And we tried to keep people back away from some of the wounded, so not too many people over them to give them air. Kind of forming a ring to hold back. And then we went back down the hill into the Commons and sat there. And decided it was time that now we weren’t going anywhere. And it was time for them to leave our campus. And we sat there. It was the most emotional time of my, well, one of the — [tape ends].eye witness, anonymous

It wasn’t long after that that I noticed that this straight line suddenly turned like this, at a right angle, with several Guardsmen facing the parking lot. They knelt down on one knee, they took the rifles and aimed into the crowd. I know a lot of people scattered, but I don’t think that they had proved that they were a force to be feared at that time. Mostly just a bunch of silly guys in uniforms. This is one of the main reasons why I spoke earlier about the events at Music and Speech the year before. The army itself was the symbol of what everyone was angry about. The National Guard, as I understand the law, the National Guard should have been the one to come in before the–or, the State Highway Patrol should have come in before the National Guard onto a college cam–a state campus. Those guys would have moved around and gotten people out of the way and nothing would have happened. But here was this, the symbol of what everybody was angry about, kneeling, aiming rifles not just at protesters or rock throwers–or whatever they thought they were–in a parking lot, but at a dormitory full of big glass windows filled with students. And I thought, That’s really bad. Again, I’m thinking that all this is doing is, if they’re trying to defuse the situation, they’re doing the exact opposite, because everything that they seem to have done so far–the tear gas, the randomness of the dispersal of the tear gas, chasing people who are doing nothing but standing in a group, and again, I didn’t know about the ban on group gatherings at the time, chasing people around, aiming guns at them. It’s like I said before, a group of people who are unarmed, at least it’s not an army. They may have rocks, they may have things to throw. But when you get a group of guys in full battle gear–helmets, gas masks and fixed bayonets–as they move it’s like the parting of the Red Sea. The crowd goes this way and that way. Nobody stands their ground and confronts these people. They never had any difficulty moving anywhere they wanted to be, which is one of the reasons I was so surprised to see them stopped on the football field. I’ve heard all the stories about, oh, they were hemmed in, they were surrounded by students and this chain-link fence. Well, the chain-link fence is on two sides of a practice football field and it is wide open on the other two sides. Anywhere they wanted to walk they would have walked, and the crowd would have parted.

So anyway, I watched this for awhile, and the guys that were kneeling finally stood up and sort of rejoined the line. And they sort of did, not an about-face, but they were walking down, training down the line that they had been standing in, walking towards the end of the football field down where the–this direction, here the library and the–I still call it the new Student Center, stand now, because it was under construction at the time. And I remember thinking, I haven’t seen any tear gas for a while, they must have run out of tear gas, so I think it’s over. So they marched down the line that way, then all of a sudden they just, the whole line did a right-face, and they started marching across, from side to side, on the practice football field. I took a photo of them as they were down there, and I thought, Well, this is all over. I knew that Karen should have been working in the Stater office at the time, and I thought, Well, this would be a good time to go in and see if she saw anything interesting. Talk to her. Plus the fact that where I was standing, I was aware that, as the Guard moved–they were going to go back over the top of the hill next to the Pagoda again–that it was going to put me again right between the two groups. And I thought, God, I really don’t want to get hit by a rock. That was it.

I turned, I walked in the door of Taylor Hall. As I walked in I ran into a friend who had been down in the photo labs, journalism student, complaining because he had just gotten kicked out because he was getting wet cloths because of the tear gas. He had just been kicked out of there by one of the profs. He was mad. I said, “Well, I think it’s all over.” He said [angrily], “Well, I got all these things in there–” And he walked out, I kept going in. The door closed behind me, and the stairwell was right there, so I went down the stairwell going down to the Stater office. I ran into this guy after May 4th, and he said that he walked out the doors, and the first thing he saw was the Guard turn and fire right through the area that I had just been standing in. I think he saw Jeff Miller fall. And I never even heard the shots.

[Interviewer]: You were inside the building, you didn’t hear it?

[Chuck Ayers]: No. Again, there’s a lot of yelling outside constantly. And this yelling is everything. It’s everything from people swearing at the Guardsmen, to somebody who sees his pal across the–[and says], “Hey, Joe! Come on over here, look what I saw!” There’s just this din out there. I walked in, I got down to the first floor, went into the Stater office, I saw Karen and her roommate. I remember saying, “I think it’s all over. What did you guys see?” And she said, “Well, there was people right in front of the windows here. Somebody was hitting somebody with a club or something.” And just about that time it was like this bang like the doors, and there was screaming and yelling, and I thought, What’s going on? And this surge of people just came through the hallways, past the Stater office. I remember going to the door, and the first words I heard were, “They just killed four kids.” I don’t know how this person determined this in seconds. They must have seen four people down. They were yelling, “They’re shooting. They’re killing people.” And I thought back to the single shot that I saw, and I thought, No, they’re shooting in the air. I was so confident that that’s all they were doing. But this mass of screaming people and people crying kept coming in, and there was one guy who I recall was a freshman, who had been somewhere and saw most of the shootings, came into the Stater office crying, had a puppy with him, and he crawled under a desk and just sat there and cried. [pauses, drinks water] That is emotional.

And so, we realized something had happened, but we didn’t know where or exactly what or where these people still would be. I didn’t know if there was a full-scale fight going on out there, if they had just shot into the crowd, if they had shot some individuals–specific individuals that something had happened. I didn’t know what had happened or where they were. I wasn’t about to go out any door, thinking I could step out a door, and be a target.

[Interviewer]: What did you do next?

[Chuck Ayers]: We stayed in the Stater office for a while. We were very conscious of our surroundings. We were looking out the windows that face into the Commons, and we could see students running everywhere. And we stayed there for a short while, until I finally saw the whole unit of Guardsmen marching back down the hill towards the ROTC building. It’s so funny in hindsight: I was Mr. Macho for a moment there, because I said, “I’m going to go out and see what’s going on.” Karen and her roommate said, “We’ll go with you,” [and I said,] “Oh no no no, you women stay here. The man will go outside.” I didn’t say it that way, but I look back on it, and it must have sounded like that to everybody. And I retraced my steps. I went back up the same stairwell I’d come out, I came back out the same door, and the very first thing I saw was Jeff Miller in the street. Initially, I found out when he fell he was face-down, chest-down, his head to the side, and somebody had turned him over, and there were several people kneeling around him, and there was already this river of blood rolling down, I mean it must have been 12 to 15 feet long at that time. My experience had been that I had no close relatives, I had sort of a nuclear family–mom and dad and my brother and I. We had no close relatives, and for some reason the only relatives that had ever passed away were people I had never met, out of town, that my folks would go to the funerals and stuff. I had never gone to a funeral. I was 22. And there was this guy in the street, and I kept saying to myself, No, he’s not dead, they’ll patch him up, he’ll be okay. And I just remember looking at how utterly limp he was–and they had pulled his shirt up–and how absolutely hollow his stomach looked. Everything had just collapsed on this guy. And I kept saying to myself, No he’s not dead, he’s not dead, until I heard an ambulance come up over the hill and started picking up people, and the gurneys went right past him. [I thought], Oh my God, he’s dead, because they didn’t stop to pick him up.
eye witness, Chuck Ayers, photographer

And then – what happened then – was, I thought the Guard went down to one knee – the configuration of the hill and then being at the top. You know, photos later showed they just took a step forward and aimed their guns, but from where I was, it looked like they went to one knee. And the next thing I knew, I heard the shots. And, um, my immediate impression on hearing the shots was that um, ah, I don’t know – were you in the service? On the firing range –

[Interviewer]: Yes.

[Bill Barrett]: — when you went out to practice firing and they had this ritual where they waved the flags, and they say you have five seconds, and then they say, ‘fire.’ But before they ever said ‘fire’ there was only one guy that cranked off a round, and then all the rest fired. And that’s exactly what it sounded like up there to me. And I’m not trying to say that there was any signal given; they were simply ready and somebody pulled the trigger. That was my impression, and the rest just followed suit. And, uh, ah, it was all over, so, I knew, of course, that they were carrying live ammo because I had seen them loading their weapons when I went by the first time going up to the hill. And I thought, oh my God, I just hope they were firing over the heads … Well, then, you know, all hell broke loose. Kids were runnin’ around screaming and they were yelling – I could hear them saying, “They shot people.” And the Guard kind of milled around and then got reorganized and started back down the hill. When that happened I immediately went back over to Johnson Hall to that corner to get out of the way. I couldn’t get inside Johnson Hall because there was a crowd of people, so I stood at the corner and watched the Guard come by me. And I can still remember – oh, the closest Guardsman was probably from here to that chair over there – about five yards away from me, maybe. And through their gas masks you could just see the looks of horror on the faces of these guys comin’ down. I mean, they were just – and I thought, God, thank God I’m not out there. Those guys are so scared anything else could happen.
eye witness, Henry Halem, observer for Kent State

If you read all of this testimony from eye witnesses a pattern develops, the guardsmen turned, set up, aimed and fired. If Major Jones says they had a plan why was it so hard for the courts to recognize this. I was trained at Pier 91 in riot control. I was in the operations section of Headquarters Company. We trained in how during a riot that we would control the situation. There was a definite chain of command. Isolate, contain, neutralize and eliminate if necessary. We received intelligence training of known local and national radicals. There was a plan. We now know that plan was Operation Garden Plot. If you know this, then everything at Kent State follows a plan. The US was, I believe this, was at war with the Black Liberation Movement and the Anti-War movement. Everything, everything at Kent State supports this.

Governor Rhodes, President Nixon and the Pentagon wanted to make such an example that students would go back to school and radicals would be left isolated to be picked off one at a time. This is what my National Guard training taught me. Because I wanted to ‘blow the whistle’ on the plan I had to be removed. I know this and I believe. It is important the US is brought to justice for what they did at Kent State, four dead in Ohio, nine wounded, two killed at Jackson state, at least three killed in Orangeburg, dozens of Panthers killed, including the cowardly murder of Fred Hampton when he was drugged. The murders of leaders in the American Indian Movement, and the imprisonment of Leonard Peltier. They must be brought to justice, the list is so long…. Michael Brown and Eric Garner are the latest.

We were leaving the past to head back to the present and to the home of the ‘Little Guy’ in Massillon in southern Ohio. We finally ‘hit the wall’, after an enormous emotional drain at Kent State. It was late, we were hungry and we settled on the Wal-Mart just up from the factory. A pretty nice diner nearby, and sometimes a burger, fries and a shake hits the spot. It wasn’t an authentic diner, still it was pretty damn nice. Of course we might have just been tired and hungry. We settled in for the night in our comfortable and cozy home. Close the black curtains, and there is no outside world.

A letdown at the Little Guy factory. We thought our ‘teardrop’ was pretty special. Cindy has an incredible amount of patience in dealing with rudeness, I don’t. When we were ignored I was ready to move on. They took a few pictures and gave us a flyer about an upcoming trailer convention near the factory. All I wanted was to split and get back on the road. Our next goal was Jersey City. We left in a quandary deciding whether to return or not. Oh, and that only lasted until the end of the day.

Heading southwest, according to the compass we were not sure where we would spend the night. I should write, even when we were heading due north, our compass showed southwest. We just ignored it and left it in place and just laughed. Canton, Ohio is nearby. This is a city I first learned of it’s existence in 1952. It was the home of Lou Fageol and Joe Tagart. They were the ‘jockey’s that wrestled the Slo-Mo’s around a three mile race course. If you were around in the 50’s you might remember the Fageol diesel bus. The ’48’ was the line I remember from my Blanchet days.

What a day that lay ahead, ‘crusin’ through Pennsylvanian Dutch country on US 30. Every Lancaster we went through, we saw Amish buggies. This time we saw 200 year old houses made of stone, rolling hills and acres of green. Many of these towns were centuries old. Temporarily we lost our focus on getting to Jersey City for Jessica’s birthday and were glued to the passing scenery.

We finally settled on our goal for this day, it would be Jonestown and the KOA on the Delaware River. We were now hours away from Liberty Harbor and Jersey City. More importantly we were making it in time for Jessica’s birthday. We went through some lush green territory with obscenely large mansions on acres and acres of land with Lilly white country estate fences. We went through landscapes where the rich and the powerful live. It was as if we wandered into forbidden territory. It was getting late in the day, and it looked like we were on collision course to arriving in New Jersey during rush hour. We had no idea of how stupid a mistake this was. The highlight of the day was a turn of the century bridge over the Delaware River, the Washington crossing the Delaware bridge. We were still on the historic, and I really mean historic Lincoln Highway.

Still ahead bumper to bumper traffic up US 1 to Jersey City and Liberty Harbor. The sun is setting in our eyes as we inch our way north having no idea of where we were. Four lanes of cars, trucks and 18 wheelers. We were in a very old part of New Jersey, this was an old part of US 1. It was obvious as traffic increased, more lanes kept being added. The voice of Garmen instructs us to head west, turn right he pleads. We obey with blind faith in 21st century technology. It’s rush hour and we make a lot of mistakes in not turning when we were suppose to and not turning when we should have. But finally, miracle of miracles we leave ‘One’ heading for Jersey Harbor. But again we make a mistake that has us headed for the Lincoln Tunnel where we will arrive in New York during rush hour. This is something we didn’t want. On a hunch we turned, Garmin blaring don’t turn. We ended up in a part of Jersey City with narrow streets that we barely were able to slide by. So many good people seemed to look out for us, this, a lot of luck and Garmen got us safely into Liberty Harbor before dark.

Now to Jessica’s birthday party, the park under the Brooklyn Bridge for a wonderful evening with Jessica’s friends watching a movie. As you can see by these pictures this is quite a place. It was a wonderful time. The movie wasn’t bad either, Mr. Fox.

As a very young boy on Queen Anne hill I dreamed of one day going to Brooklyn. It was the home, then, of my favorite baseball team – the Brooklyn Dodgers. I saw some of Brooklyn, you see Jess and her faithful partner Bambino lived in a brownstone on a very authentic old Brooklyn street. It was just as I had seen and described by oh so many Brooklynites. As they say it was …. real. Bambino is a very loyal, and happy Italian Greyhound who acts very metrosexual. Cindy tells the story of camping with her daughters and Bambino. He doesn’t like dirt, he had to sleep on a rug or chair. ‘Bean’ is special, he just doesn’t think he is a dog. In the chill of the night and going on walks, he is very happy when he has his sweater.

After the party, the next day we had planned a trip up the Hudson, this I was looking forward too. I knew one of my favorite people had lived there. Pete Seeger was truly a troubadour, singing songs of protest for over 70 years and helping to save the Hudson River. The sloop, Clearwater played a big role in the movement to save the Hudson. He lived off of Rt. 9D heading towards Beacon. With his wife Toshi they bought property in 1949. It’s estimated to be 40 acres heading towards the top of the mountain. He built all of the structures himself, chopped wood whenever he was home right up to his death at the age of 94.

http://www.clearwater.org/

Jess had read in the travel section that Cold Spring and Beacon were great weekend trips. Cold Spring was packed with folks fleeing New York. Most of the restaurants were crawling with hungry New Yorkers, we walked around a little bit, this town looked just like a cookie cutter town. It looked the way a town would look if it were trying to attract tourists for a weekend getaway. We drove up Route 9D. Across a small river that emptied into the Hudson was an old woolen factory. Made of brick it looked liked so many buildings in upper New York from the mid 19th century. This factory made the uniforms for the Union Army.

The most traveled of the New York State Bridge Authority’s bridges, the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge carries more than 25 million crossings a year on Interstate 84. Preceding construction of the bridge, tradition has it that Native Americans regularly crossed the Hudson River at the point between what is now Beacon and Newburgh, long before Europeans arrived in America.

http://www.nysba.net/bridgepages/NBB/NBBpage/nbb_page.htm

We had just passed minutes before a driveway that went to rustic buildings marked by a silhouette of a sloop. Immediately I knew this was the place that Pete Seeger had built in 1949 with Toshi. Beacon was a nice little town with a train stop along the way that picked up passengers to Grand Central Station.

One of the reasons to head out of New York and up along the Hudson was the opportunity to find a quaint little place to have their nails done. After checking out Beacon they found one. We parked across the street in shade. Bambino did not do well in the sun.

Driving through Beacon, it was unmistakable . . . this was a quaint, artistic town. Jess and Cindy found what they wanted. A ‘cute’ little shop to get their nails done. I stayed in the car with Bambino, Cindy’s grand ‘dog’. Bambino realized he wouldn’t be getting his nails done, found a spot and sulked. I looked over and saw three young kids with an iced tea stand. For the next 30 minutes they provided me with entertainment. There was even a life lesson or two included.

Being the young entrepreneurs that they were they asked if I wanted a cold drink. The setting a sidewalk park on the corner. The price, two bucks and it seemed like a pretty good deal on a hot afternoon. It was money well spent, thoroughly entreating half hour.

Historic sites, places like Beacon are only interesting to me if I learn something about their history. People watching is one of my favorite past times on a road trip. I love over hearing conversations, ironically I have learned to be much more reserved in public. Seeing and hearing so many people airing their dirty laundry in public, it makes me clam up and wait for privacy.

In Seattle in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and maybe before there was a very unique couple. If you rode the 9 Broadway-Martin up to Capital Hill or downtown you might run into the colorful George and Pansy and their legendary bickering at the front of the bus. Out of embarrassment, I would scurry to the back of the bus. They are both deceased now, and sadly so much of Seattle is too.

Here are a couple of great websites, entertaining:

http://www.weirduniverse.net/blog/comments/george_kotolaris_seattle_eccentric/

http://www.callihan.com/seattle/history.htm

Even though I am embarrassed to ‘eavesdrop’, I love being a witness. It is for me interesting, very interesting. With that, the show going on next to the car was riveting. Watching these kids at a Tom Sawyer type of stand. My only regret is not taking a picture. They would reach out to everyone that walked by. Three of the ‘would be’ customers that couldn’t say no to these kids because of ‘swelling’ guilt were just plain comical. Did I mention these were young black kids.

One, a middle-aged, probably an upper middle class father with his son. The father told this trio: “it’s good to see you believe in business, it makes me feel really good that young boys still believe in this”. Without missing a beat, the oldest came back with this: “Do you want to help us in our business and buy an iced tea”?

In classic liberal form, the father comes back as quick: “No, but I am proud of you”. The kid with lips pursed, trying to control his frustration said: “Thank you”.

The second potential buyer that didn’t offered advice instead of money. These kids were disappointed, I bought another iced tea. It was a cheap ticket. This buyer told the kids they needed a sign, you could tell what was going through their mind was you cheap … you need to buy an iced tea. This same woman came back with a piece of cardboard and a marker. The kids thanked her and said, “do you want to help our business and buy an iced tea”? She came back proudly with, “no, but I helped you sell iced tea”.

The third, priceless … just priceless went like this. Again this young couple hand in hand and praised these three kids for their ambition but criticized them for using Styrofoam. The two women, together, told these kids they couldn’t in conscience buy because it was hurting the environment. But they said they stopped because the youngest was so cute. On cue the ‘cute’ one told his older brother he wanted more money because he realized his value now. After being taught all these lessons about owning your business the older one seemed resigned to the fact that his profits were in jeopardy.

Countless potential customers tried to drive down the price or cut a deal. I felt fortunate to eavesdrop on this little snapshot of life in Beacon and I am sure the escapees of Gotham for a day.

I have great respect for the good people of New York, people of all ages. New York is a special place. We walked up from Liberty Harbor and grabbed the subway to where Jess was working. It was right off of Sixth Avenue, the Avenue of the Americas, and 18th. Near there I found a great place to wait, a great place to watch the world go by which was a short walk to Union Square Park. Both places are great to sit and watch New York with all of it’s kinkiness.

Is she someone you have seen before in Independent films?

Is she someone you have seen before in Independent films?

On the sidewalk in front of the Hollywood Diner on Sixth Avenue near our subway stop back to Liberty Harbor in Jersey City

On the sidewalk in front of the Hollywood Diner on Sixth Avenue near our subway stop back to Liberty Harbor in Jersey City

Truly one of my favorite past times, drinking Pacifico and dark rum watching . . .

Truly one of my favorite past times, drinking Pacifico and dark rum watching . . .

Great grafitti near the Hollywood Diner

Great grafitti near the Hollywood Diner

Another shot

Another shot

All of these buildings near the Hollywood Diner lit up

All of these buildings near the Hollywood Diner lit up

Our final days in Brooklyn were to move Jess to a new place near Prospect Park. For many reasons it wouldn’t be easy. We begin early in the morning of moving day to pick up the U-Haul van very close to the Lincoln Tunnel. One turn missed and the toll plaza was next. We missed the turn, hit the Lincoln Tunnel. The lanes were so narrow that if a semi driver spit out his window it would hit the roof of our van. When heavy traffic like that is so close it gets your attention.

This was my first time driving in New York. Canal Street was a trip. It’s best described as anarchy with the semblance of controls that are ignored out of necessity. Driving up the street we saw some of the most interesting traffic jams I had ever witnessed. Busses, trucks, bicyclists and cars gridlocked in the middle of intersections, with pedestrians scurrying for the safety of a sidewalk only having to dodge cars, bikes and even delivery vans. Every block seemed to have construction with flat beds and cement trucks dropping their loads. Off duty policemen were there for window dressing and no one paid any more attention to them then they did to the traffic lights.

Breaking through the Canal Street traffic jam we reached the Manhattan Bridge, the over one mile long suspension bridge that was completed in 1909 is the route to Brooklyn from the Holland Tunnel. Coming into the surprisingly large borough of Brooklyn the traffic was more manageable. Jessica was going to meet us there. She had found a new place to live that was going to be less stressful.

We arrived at the apartment and waited for Jess. We left Bambino in the van. I could not believe we found a parking space right in front. A little coffee shop with bakery was located close by. Jess arrived; we had been taking care of Bambino because Jess had been living with friends. Getting back to the van we found we had been ripped off for a roll of shipping tape, the window was only open inches wide. Just goes to show . . . more excitement to come.

Jess and Cindy went upstairs to the apartment only to find the ‘manager’ of the apartment had changed the locks. Jess called the police and the roommate refused to open the door. The police succeeded in getting in and telling the nonplussed woman that you open the door when police tell you: “police open the door”. They took a report and Jess and Cindy were able to pack. Our first time driving in New York was going to be moving from Brooklyn to another part of Brooklyn. We looked at the ‘great tape caper’ was the price of a great parking spot.

Hours later we were off to the next stop. We found the apartment, but there wasn’t a spot to be had. In New York everyone ‘double parks’, we did too. The only catch is that someone has to be with the vehicle. We unloaded the van onto the sidewalk, and kept an eye on everything. Jess called it a typical New York move. Although to be a real New York move it would be done by taxi. This was a hasty move. Box after box on the sidewalk, with loose clothes on coat hangers draped over the boxes and other loose items to be moved inside into a ridiculously small elevator. It was a beautiful building. Jess is New York all of the way, nothing fazes her. This is the first time she has had the use of a van. It was great we were there. We had no idea we would be doing this. But it was trippy.

Sitting there in the van, after all of boxes and clothes had been moved inside and the sun going down and turning on the emergency flashers I waited in the center lane that was used as the passing lane, the emergency lane and the load and unload lane. More times than I care to count I am sitting in the van with police cars with lights and siren bearing down, fire trucks, and all emergency vehicles. It was exciting enough to not fall asleep. If a UPS truck or other commercial van was stopped. They would stop in the middle of the traffic lane, leaving police and others to bear down and swerve at the last minute. I probably won’t forget this move.

When we were done and gave hugs and love to Jess we got back in the van to return back to U-Haul going back through Brooklyn, over the Manhattan Bridge and up Canal Street to the Holland Tunnel. It was more exciting go back then coming but we made it through the most intense and crazy traffic I have ever driven. Drop in maniacal pedestrians and you have a recipe for a wild ride. It was but we made and ended up back in the parking lot, camping spot in Jersey City in the Liberty Harbor Marina and quasi RV park.

Batten down the hatches, all hell is about to break loose

Batten down the hatches, all hell is about to break loose

There is a storm a comin'

There is a storm a comin’

I am ready to leave Liberty Harbor, where to next ....

I am ready to leave Liberty Harbor, where to next ….

Nestled in to the present, an 1867 Fire House

Nestled in to the present, an 1867 Fire House

Canal Street has to be experienced, I am glad we did

Canal Street has to be experienced, I am glad we did

The absolute insanity of coming up Canal Street to the Manhattan Bridge coming from the Holland Tunnel and heading to Brooklyn complete with vendors selling 'authentic' Rolexx watches

The absolute insanity of coming up Canal Street to the Manhattan Bridge coming from the Holland Tunnel and heading to Brooklyn complete with vendors selling ‘authentic’ Rolexx watches

First thing in the morning we were up and ready to flee New Jersey. It wasn’t easy, we got out of Jersey City but Newark lay down the road in ambush. We drove around in circles in Newark, going near a subway station. Finally we found an escape and put us on US highway and soon we were seeing the suburbs and our US highway had turned into I-78. Soon the ‘burbs led us back to a US highway and two lane roads. We had driven for awhile and we were starting to get hungry.

Like I have written many times, we would get up in the morning and we wouldn’t know our destination, only a direction. We knew we didn’t want to go north through New York City so we chose this approach to go around. Ultimately we knew US 1 in Maine was our goal; but we also wanted to see Woodstock and Cooperstown.

Still we hadn’t picked out a campground and we had no cell coverage. We saw an empty BBQ joint and decided this would be our stop since what caught our eye was an ice cream stand next door. We thought, or I thought we could get a burger and a shake. No ‘burgers was the verdict, so the BBQ would work.

We took our books, our computer and everything else we needed to try and settle on a location. This is when we zeroed in on a campground on the Delaware River. This was perfect because it was near Bethel Woods and Woodstock and the infamous New York 17B where Max Yagur’s hog farm was. We were able to make contact and reserve a spot. They had plenty of room.

A nice couple operated the campground. As we pulled in they both saw the trailer, the woman had her camera in hand and was excited and wanted to take a picture. They both grew up with camping and wanted to own and operate a campground. 11 years ago they decided to leave Providence, Rhode Island for Unadilla, New York in the picturesque Delaware River Valley. Eventually they qualified to be certified as a KOA.

Describing sites in the west as historic is trite, because in the east especially in New York and Pennsylvania there is no other word than historic. We saw mid 18th century villages with stone houses common. We were stunned by all of what we saw. As the trip went on I could see why so many from this part of the country had so much pride in the area where they lived.

After a couple of of hours we arrived at 17B. In 1969, a half million people clogged the route on their way to Max Yagur’s hog farm. When we drove up the road to Bethel Woods, we did not expect what we found. A parking lot attendant directed us where to park. There were acres and acres of fields with a hell of a lot of it blacktopped. All of these people hanging around tailgating for a big concert. More gray haired folks than what you find in a social security office. The Four Tops and the Tempations’ were performing that night.

It was busy, we walked up to an amphi-theatre and inside to the museum. This is a cash cow. The irony is that many working there were probably some of the trouble makers that wanted all of those ‘damn long hair hippies’ to get out of Dodge and to never come back. Many now make a living at the site.

After we left Cindy and I looked at each other and said almost at the same time, “they watered down Woodstock and made it look like a family gathering”. It looked like a Walt Disney production. It was a huge disappointment. An old hippie came out and said, “I don’t remember very much, but it sure didn’t seem like it was that wholesome”. Woodstock was a 90 minute drive from New York city in 1969. I wonder how people found it, we made a lot of wrong turns leaving the Delaware River Valley looking for it.

We found the campground that we hoped existed. There it was. High on top of a pole was a very large model of a ‘teardrop’ trailer. It was perfect, it fit this epochal trip. We were high in the Adirondacks, how beautiful and green it was.

Earlier we had pulled over for a rest in front of the city hall in Marcellus, NY. Many of the names seem to come out of Father King’s Latin class at Seattle Prep in 1959. While parked, a man came up because he was curious about our ‘teardrop’. It happened a lot, we wanted the attention it gave us a chance to talk with a lot of people.

The topic of the beauty of the Adirondacks was the subject. He told us how much he loved the area. “Head to Route 8, then turn off onto 88 and stay on it”. Oh, and these type of ‘chance meetings’ is how many times we ended up at our camp for the night. We have this stranger to thank for this great spot in the Adirondacks. We learned this place was a dream come true for the folks who run the place.

Inside, parked to the side of the road near the well equipped community room with paneling that looked much like a rec room in a split level in the suburbs was an International school bus from the 60’s. The owner had transformed it into a blue and white painted RV. He was a tugboat skipper and spent 10 weeks on the water, making great money which allowed him and his wife to live their dream and care for her 92 year old mother. This place was very cool, there was a lot of love put into the place. We reserved for a day and spent three. Kids love the authentic covered wagon he built that had three bunks and the pond was stocked with bass. There were a number of trails on the 166 acres. It was one of the best campgrounds we stayed with some of the friendliest people we came across in the three month long trip.

One of our most exciting stops was in the Fingers Lake area and the historic location of the woman’s rights movement along with the famous Underground Railroad and freedom for many slaves because of the heroic Abolitionist Movement. We were headed towards Buffalo. But as happened so many times late in the day the sky opened up and drenched the earth with a huge downpour. This one was exceptionally bad, and extremely dangerous with flooded roads.

We found our goal, a state campground that was developed on a surplus Air Force base. On this base was one of the highlights of the trip an F-80 jet of the Korean War era. People my age and older will remember the balsa wood model that you could build. This plane as a great history in the jet airplane era. I looked up this link, so I will share it with you and then this website of the exact model kit my dad bought me in 1952. It was the very first model I owned. My dad brought it home from a business trip. This was very, very special.

I know anyone that reads this will want to look up this information and so here are three links that I came across.

http://oldmodelkits.com/index.php?detail=3744&page=139&erl=StromBecker-Lockheed-F-80-Shooting-Star-C-32

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_P-80_Shooting_Star

Oh, and here is the blog link to the updates to ‘Return to 55’, and I am having a ‘hoot’ in redoing the trip while writing.

http://zelsj.mlblogs.com/feed/

The F-80 was placed up on a cement pedestal greeting all of the visitors to Sampson State Park. The last two hours getting there before dark was thrill packed. Several times the rain was coming down so hard there was zero visibility. It was hard even seeing or finding a place to pull off. A trick we learned driving in Mexico was to use emergency flashers to alert drivers behind us, anything to catch their attention.

We had the Garmen set with the address of our destination. It was incorrect, but it wasn’t the fault of Garmen. We put in the wrong information. We found this out as we pulled into the parking lot of a state prison. The idea of going inside for directions never became an option. We just got the hell out of Dodge. Many times we had to slow down to a stop as hit places where there was clearly a flooded road from overflowing irrigation ditches.

Eventually we arrived to flashing lights, flooded streets and barricades. Lightning had struck a tree near our spot. We were parked and hoped the heavens would be quiet until we left in the morning. It was wet and sloppy but as usual we crawled into bed and closed the curtains and knew we were safe but dreaded waking up to answer the call of nature in the middle of the night.

F-80, how cool is this?

F-80, how cool is this?

Our camp site at Sampson State Park

Our camp site at Sampson State Park

This is the tree that was hit by lightning the night before

This is the tree that was hit by lightning the night before

It rained a hell of a lot, guess that's why upper New York is so green

It rained a hell of a lot, guess that’s why upper New York is so green

The sign says Bates Motel, free showers

The sign says Bates Motel, free showers

The Three Bears, early example of Greek Revival architecture in Seneca County.

The Three Bears, early example of Greek Revival architecture in Seneca County.

The largest  of the three is Papa Bear, the Seneca County courthouse built in 1845.

The largest of the three is Papa Bear, the Seneca County courthouse built in 1845.

IMG_2076

All three, Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear... just unique

All three, Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear… just unique

The small one is Baby Bear, the clerks office built in 1845.

The small one is Baby Bear, the clerks office built in 1845.

IMG_2080

The pillars, representative of Greek architecture

The pillars, representative of Greek architecture

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War plaque

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War plaque

IMG_2077

I just liked the neon sign .... I'm a sucker for neon.

I just liked the neon sign …. I’m a sucker for neon.

Seneca County and Seneca Falls is a very historic area. Here is the text on a marker in the park.

Women’s Rights National Historical Park tells the story of the first Women’s Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, NY on July 19-20,1848. It is a story of struggles for civil rights, human rights, and equality, global struggles that continue today. The efforts of women’s rights leaders, abolitionists, and other 19th century reformers remind us that all people must be accepted as equals.

Chartered in 1763 and settled in 1764, the year 2014 marks the town’s 250th anniversary.

Settlers almost abandoned Lancaster during the first year, as harsh weather destroyed their crops. But they persevered and by 1874, Lancaster was the twelfth most productive agricultural region in the state. Over the years, Lancaster has seen many water-powered mills, including sawmills, potato starch mills, one of the large gristmills in the state, and carriage factories.

One of her most notable citizens was Senator John W. Weeks who sponsored the legislation creating the White Mountain National Forest in 1910. His summer home, Mount Prospect is now part of the 420-acre Weeks State Park. His mansion and the fire lookout are open in the summer while a ski rope tow operates in the winter. The stone observation tower, built in 1912, sits atop a 2,059 foot summit and offers outstanding 360 degree views. Both the Weeks Medical Center and the Weeks Memorial Library (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) were given by the senator in memory of his father.

Today, Lancaster is home to over 3,300 residents and routinely attracts visitors from all over who want to enjoy her peaceful environment, parks and outdoor activities, and downtown boutique shops.

Our next stop, the citadel of baseball …… the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. 10 years old on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle going to the home of baseball would have been a dream realized. Dizzy Dean was in the Hall of Fame. We all knew Jackie would go there, so would ‘Joltin’ Joe and Whitey Ford. After hydroplanes, baseball was king.
To finally get there was exciting and a letdown, realizing the dreams of childhood can never be met in adulthood.

All of the stars were there wearing the uniforms of the day. One of the few pictures taken was of the temple of baseball, historic Ebbets Field. All of the teams, including the All-America Girl’s Baseball League were represented. The Negro Leagues and the contributions of Latinos, the Mexican League, Venezuelan teams, Puerto Rican, and the Dominican Republic.

Growing up in the fifties the Saturday game had one of the great baseball people of all time, Dizzy Dean. He and his brother Daffy were with the St. Louis Cardinals and the infamous ‘Gas House Gang’ in the ‘30’s. Here is a youtube clip with Dizzy and retired Brooklyn Dodger shortstop Pee Wee Reese. Jackie Robinson even did a stint on the Saturday broadcast.

Baseball was a big part of my life in the 50’s. We spent a lot of hours at the Queen Anne field playing ball. In 1954 a lot of us played on what was called a farm team that was sponsored by Hansen Sunbeam Bread. We didn’t get a uniform, but we got a blue hat and T shirt and we thought we were ‘the cock of the walk’. The next year we got sloppy wool uniforms, we thought they were pretty cool. Across the chest was the name Ryan Cadillac’s. I had never been so proud. I was pretty good in the field, but lousy, worse than lousy at the plate. Why when I hit a foul ball down the first base line, I got a standing ovation which was led by the coach. It was first time I ever got any ‘lumber’ on the ball.

Baseball was important so going to Cooperstown was pretty important. On the way we went by Williamsport, the home of the Little League World Series. We spent a good part of the day there and even got a hot dog next door to the ‘Hall’. We took the trolley and got a good look at the town.

Cooperstown was set up for tourism, nearby Lake Otsego was the playground for the well to do. We walked into the ‘Hall’. I expected more, there were videos all day long but only at selected times. The exhibits were interesting, but also overwhelming. Each team, including the Seattle Pilots had there own display. It was easy to get lost in memories, looking at the ball players of the ‘50’s and seeing their uniforms, gloves bats and histories brought me back to 222 W Blaine and summertime with constant talk about baseball, pick up games on one of the four fields and try outs.

It was fun to see kids ‘gobbling’ up the experience. For us there was limited time to spend, and a person can only absorb so much. The hall of plaques, all of it. We took it in. I sat in one of the seats near the Ebbets Field display. It was pretty cool. We wanted time for a hot dog, it would have been great to have found an outdoor stand.

We were rolling now through upper New York onto New Hampshire and Vermont. We connected to US 2 and crisscrossed Pennsylvania and New York trying to avoid heavily congested areas in New York and New Jersey. Our route became very elaborate, as we went west from New Jersey than north heading to the Adirondacks and finally after going to Woodstock and Cooperstown we went east on US 2 to connect to US 1 near Calais and then down along the eastern seaboard through Maine and Connecticut south to the Florida Keys. US 1 starts near the Canadian border at Fort Kent, to Key West it would have been an astounding 2205 mile journey.

Bridges and more bridges, I love bridges. They are so exciting. Just think of the advances that have been made in bridge construction since the US highways were built in the late 20’s and 30’s. Man did I have a great time with Cindy crisscrossing the United States. Every time I go under the intricate lattice work of the truss bridge I am in awe of their industrial beauty.

Does anyone remember the Mash TV Show. Specifically the “Hot Lips” character. Her fiancé was a Col. Penobscot. We crossed the Penobscot River before we got to Calais. The new bridge was a very surreal suspension bridge. It is so aerodynamic. Look at these photos and see if you don’t agree.

In Calais we were surprised by the number of Quebecois we ran into. Montreal is very close to Maine and they flock to the US in large numbers. The Quebecois are the popularized French speaking population of Quebec. It is also what the leader of the social democratic movement to attain separatism from Canada for Quebec and the naming of French as the language of the ‘new’ country of Quebec were called. At the same time, 1970, there was another more militant organization called the FLQ, the Québec Liberation Front. They kidnapped and killed a high cabinet member of Pierre Trudeau’s government demanding separation for Québec. In the end the Quebecois leader, Rene Levesque prevailed and now French is the language spoken throughout Quebec and taught in the schools. The FLQ leadership fled to Cuba and later joined Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver in Algiers.

New England and East Coast campgrounds are very popular with families in Quebec and the French language dominates. Well into the night, French can be heard. It was unexpected but did bring back memories of my time in Vancouver in 1970. As an aside the Canadian Parliament voted in the coveted health care under the leadership of Tommy Douglas in 1970. He is the father of Donald Sutherland and the grandfather of Keifer.

The East Coast is dotted with shipyards. Certainly one of the most famous is in Bath. Near the city is a very unusual museum, the Bath Maritime Museum. The last of the so called wooden ships was launched there in 1919. Now they build 21st Century destroyers.

On the grounds of the museum is the old boatyard, a diorama of what once existed gives the museum goer an idea of how it looked. At one end of the grounds is the old mill with a replica of the 43″ saw that was there over a century ago. The machinery is enormous, the huge blades in action must have made the noise deafening. It is easy to imagine how the massive rounds were cut into planks and then timbers to build the superstructure of the hull and how the keel was laid on the ways. We spent hours mesmerized by this terrific museum. Outside there are a series of tall metal poles that stretch out 400 feet, the size from bow to stern of the Wyoming. It’s unbelievable.

The old town of Bath with its kitschy shops, unique restaurants is a shopper’s delight, hours can be spent wandering through the town. And now that we have broken through to the other side of the 21st Century there are plenty of the trademark public houses selling craft beers. Planters adorn the sidewalks in front of specialty shops. Of course what would be a small and quaint New England town without the obligatory flying of ‘Old Glory’. There were plenty of flags billowing in the wind of Bath, they would not be outdone in their patriotism.

The campground we were at was perfectly situated for us to make day trips. 35 miles from Meadowbrook was the small Maine town of Waldoboro. There was a diner that caught our eye days earlier, Moody’s. It was just off US 1. Decades ago when it was rerouted to its present location in 1934, Percy Moody moved the diner. Up on the hill the little cabins that have housed motorists since 1927 can be seen. In the diner they serve the classic lobster rolls and man are they good. They also feature Maine’s famous cream filled whoopee pie with pumpkin or chocolate. We passed, even ignoring what looked like a delicious homemade peanut butter cream pie.

Besides great food, diners always have great waitresses that seem to have worked there since high school. They have a counter with stools that swivel. Moody’s had very old wood booths with table tops that folded up and a small juke box at every table. To complete they even had a hat and coat rack next to each booth. In fifties terms, it was swell.

Old highways, diners and baseball we couldn’t pass up. Portland, Maine is the home of the Seadogs. It was a very close 30 minute drive down route 1. They are the AA club for the Boston Red Sox and have one hell of a 3rd baseman that one day, will soon be playing in Fenway Park. We had a lot of fun going to the game, and the fans were great. A beer, a hot dog and peanuts …. Not much better.

It was time to leave Phippsburg and the Quebecois colony that seemed to hang there. Packed, we pulled onto US 1 and were greeted by a downpour that lasted until Massachusetts. It rained so hard that visibility was almost nil and the wipers had a hard time keeping up.

Unlike the Pacific Coast where access from US 101 is very easy especially in Oregon, Route 1 is not easy. In fact a network of roads are required to access the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes those jogs off ‘1’ are miles and then access is very limited because much is private party. There are some beautiful and massive public parks in Maine. George H. W.’s Kennebunkport is accessible south of the exclusive landowners near the former President.

The rain drove the beachgoers up from the ocean to so many outlet malls that I lost count. Lights and bumper to bumper traffic were largely ignored by desperate revelers as they escaped the rain drenched beaches, after all they planned on getting wet in the Atlantic. Instead they got soaked trying to navigate Route 1 and the malls.

Initially we planned on stopping in Lowell, the birthplace of Jack Kerouac. All of the rain, the dense traffic had delayed us by hours and we were butting up against rush hour ….. and it was rush hour going north out of Boston. It was at this intersection that instead of continuing south on ‘One’ we cut west. Already dense traffic that did not budge for five, even minutes at a time had kept us from going to the Maine Diner where lobster is king. Because of the flight from the beach the wait time to get seeded would be a couple of hours. Besides Kerouac’s house was for rent, and Lowell is no longer the boyhood town it was for Kerouac in the 30’s ….. now, it was fully in the clutch of the suburbs of Boston. Argggggg!

We also made another decision. We would be going back to Tacoma earlier than we planned. Tasha was going under the knife and we were running out of money. Tasha is a pit bull possibly lab mix that Cindy and Angela share. Oh, it may not have come up but Angela is Cindy’s daughter who also lives in Tacoma. Tasha dispels any myths about pit bulls and violence. Gentile as they come, I’ll share a picture and you will agree.

Tasha

Tasha

We headed west just before Boston, the rain did not let up …. Nope at one point when we pulled into a stop for food just north of Mass, that’s what people call it ….. Mass. It was raining so damn hard that little ‘lakes’ filled the parking lot with zero visibility. I ‘ve talked, well not really, I’ve written how we don’t always know where we are going to be each night. This was one of those times. In fact most afternoons we didn’t decide until four, five o’clock and even later. It was about eight, we were hungry famished and miles unknown to go. We brought in all of our books that had campgrounds listed by state. Let’s see, oh yes it would be Mass. It was a pizza place, and the food looked good. No internet though, so it would have to be by book or phone. I had a tracfone which usually worked but expensive. Cindy had a phone that had a plan. We came up with a campground in one of the books that was near this little town of Barre in Mass. I just like typing Mass, a type of rebellion . . . harmless really. Camp Coldbrook was the name, a golf course, two swimming pools, a tavern and a lounge. All for less than $15, unfreakin’ believable. They had room, lots of room and they made arrangements that we would call the manager when we got there and he would let us in. We thought we were a couple of hours out and we would probably be there between nine and ten.

The pizza was great, really great pizza . . . and even had a beer. switched drivers, continuing west taking a few wrong turns on our way to one really weird campground through areas that we never would have found our way without Garmen haranguing us. We cheated, Garmen wasn’t around in 1955. But we made it and somehow that counted for something.

There must be a lot of government spending for roads because we came up against a lot detours with those damn orange barrels which seem to be put there to make driving ridiculously difficult in the rain. Yeah it was still pouring many places in these mountain type areas were pitch dark. Even with our ‘help’ we had a hell of time navigating with all of the construction late at night and with all of the obstacles getting later and wetter. We were ready for a break. We so looked forward to when we could park, crawl into our cozy bed, pull the curtains shut and drift off.

Finally we got to the campground and the manager arrived and we followed him down a dirt road that had absorbed several inches of rain. He helped us into our spot and told us a very wild story of his life while we visited. Because of the uniqueness of our ‘tear drop’ and the wrap we had the same conversation with a lot of people which we really liked. He said before he met his wife he had done a lot of riding, when he was busted broke, he would just find a job as a welder or something like that. He said he had worked a lot of jobs when he was on the road on his Harley. When he met his wife and then he said he gave up the road and answered an ad in newspaper and voilà he and his wife end up managing a destination campground on top of a hill that spread out for acres that catered to the ‘man on the go’ that wanted a rat pack type of ambience.

This was an unusual campground. After more rain and a psychedelic light show fly baby type of lightning extravaganza we opened our black curtains and peered out to see what damage had been caused. None that we could see. What did catch our eye was a lot of golf carts buzzing around. The ghost of Perry Como must be nearby. The former biker was busy trying to repair the roads after the devastating storm the night before with his Bobcat.
We talked with one of the campers as he pulled up in his golf cart to talk about the ‘Lil Guy’ that goes where he is ‘towed’. He had his kids with him and it looked this is one of the things they liked best, riding around in the morning with dad on this neat scooter.

When he returned he told us a lot of history about the place. Families would come up after school let out and stay for the whole summer. The kids and their mother would stay and he would commute to his office in the city and come back on the weekend. He explained most of the campers were doing the same thing. Many were retired as well and this is how they spent their summer. Almost everyone had carts. It was perfect, a lot of them would get in a round or two of golf while the others would use the pool. In the afternoon they would go to the tavern and at night they had dinner and cocktails.

On weekends they had parties. He said it’s ideal. A lot of grandparents have their grandkids, and they all have a lot of other kids to play with. He went on to say the restrooms and showers could stand some work but a lot of people had their own rigs. A service came around several times a week to pump them out. Many who lived in the area would play golf, there was always a bridge game to be had and the restaurant had pretty good food and was busy much of the time.

It was time to move on. We had reservations for a campground near Washington, D.C. Very few times were we on a deadline. This was one of them. This morning we would treat ourselves to breakfast out. There was a really nice and rustic place near Camp Coldbrook, the Log Cabin. It would be perfect.
As we travelled we learned no day would be the same. Each day would have different challenges. To meet them we made a few changes. Cindy needed food at regular intervals otherwise she had a hard time coping. This was not good.
If we were going to be traveling the next day we knew we had to stop at a deli and get something light and maybe some fruit for breakfast with our cold cereal. Fruit or vegetables did not travel well. It was getting more and more common that we would roll into a campground near or after dark.

Most days we wouldn’t figure out our stop until towards the end of the day. That’s because we could stop and smell the roses if we came across something interesting. We always set Garmin to no highways, this kept us off interstates. Instead we were on roads like Route 30 and state highways and county roads. It was a lot more fun and it made it more likely that we would come across sites and signs that we would want to check out. Most of the time we weren’t in a hurry. Breakfast at the Log Cabin was a perfect example of that. Good food, good conversation and good service, it was exactly the way you wanted to start out your day. What treasures lay ahead, well we would find out.

In my short time on this earth I had never been to a country western theme park, and then again I had never been Cortland in upper New York. Well that is exactly where we were headed, we just didn’t know it . . . yet. Angela had a great book about taking road trips, this was about a lot of old cities near the Hudson River on the Beacon and Poughkeepsie NY 9 D side. Cindy had come across some great trips and this one we really wanted to take. This how we came across Cindy’s Ice Cream off Rt. 202. Besides the obvious connection, there was ice cream and it looked like a 50’s joint.

What comes next, is just road trips are all about. It’s what makes them fun. We tried to connect to NY 9D from the north and then go south. But we got connected to US 9. Pete and Oshi Seeger’s house was on 9D just below Poughkeepsie. Anyway we got all turned around, found it hard to get off the road and went way down Rt. 9 on the east side of the Hudson, backtracked up and crossed over. It was at this junction that we settled on our next location. We had about 50 miles to backtrack up Rt. 9 and then back up further up the Westside of the Hudson and intersect with Rt. 20 to go through Albany and west.
We stopped at some fast-food joint and parked in the back 40 where the Lil’ Guy fit, got some coffee to plot our night spot. We had already lost hours. It was getting on to late afternoon. We belonged to some ground site where we got 50% off. Sometimes this meant the cost was as little as $15. We came across a place that, well we just had to check out.

We were headed to Cortland, NY and the Country Music Park Camp Ground. This is what we saw that afternoon.

http://cortlandmusicpark.org/index.php

Off we went, and arrived in the very cool town of Albany. We could see most of the capitol buildings oo from Rt. US 20. What an incredible city. It is the state capital of New York State. We arrived about desk in pretty heavy traffic. Cindy was driving and I was trying to take pictures out of the window of the Rav 4. I think it gives the feeling you are riding with us.

Finally we got to the campground and the manager arrived and we followed him down a dirt road that had absorbed several inches of rain. He helped us into our spot and told us a very wild story of his life while we visited. Because of the uniqueness of our ‘tear drop’ and the wrap we had the same conversation with a lot of people which we really liked. He said before he met his wife he had done a lot of riding, when he was busted broke, he would just find a job as a welder or something like that. He said he had worked a lot of jobs when he was on the road on his Harley. When he met his wife and then he said he gave up the road and answered an ad in newspaper and voilà he and his wife end up managing a destination campground on top of a hill that spread out for acres that catered to the ‘man on the go’ that wanted a rat pack type of ambience.

This was an unusual campground. After more rain and a psychedelic light show fly baby type of lightning extravaganza we opened our black curtains and peered out to see what damage had been caused. None that we could see. What did catch our eye was a lot of golf carts buzzing around. The ghost of Perry Como must be nearby. The former biker was busy trying to repair the roads after the devastating storm the night before with his Bobcat.
We talked with one of the campers as he pulled up in his golf cart to talk about the ‘Lil Guy’ that goes where he is ‘towed’. He had his kids with him and it looked this is one of the things they liked best, riding around in the morning with dad on this neat scooter.

When he returned he told us a lot of history about the place. Families would come up after school let out and stay for the whole summer. The kids and their mother would stay and he would commute to his office in the city and come back on the weekend. He explained most of the campers were doing the same thing. Many were retired as well and this is how they spent their summer. Almost everyone had carts. It was perfect, a lot of them would get in a round or two of golf while the others would use the pool. In the afternoon they would go to the tavern and at night they had dinner and cocktails.

On weekends they had parties. He said it’s ideal. A lot of grandparents have their grandkids, and they all have a lot of other kids to play with. He went on to say the restrooms and showers could stand some work but a lot of people had their own rigs. A service came around several times a week to pump them out. Many who lived in the area would play golf, there was always a bridge game to be had and the restaurant had pretty good food and was busy much of the time.

It was time to move on. We had reservations for a campground near Washington, D.C. Very few times were we on a deadline. This was one of them. This morning we would treat ourselves to breakfast out. There was a really nice and rustic place near Camp Coldbrook, the Log Cabin. It would be perfect.

As we travelled we learned no day would be the same. Each day would have different challenges. To meet them we made a few changes. Cindy needed food at regular intervals otherwise she had a hard time coping. This was not good.
If we were going to be traveling the next day we knew we had to stop at a deli and get something light and maybe some fruit for breakfast with our cold cereal. Fruit or vegetables did not travel well. It was getting more and more common that we would roll into a campground near or after dark.

Most days we wouldn’t figure out our stop until towards the end of the day. That’s because we could stop and smell the roses if we came across something interesting. We always set Garmin to no highways, this kept us off interstates. Instead we were on roads like Route 30 and state highways and county roads. It was a lot more fun and it made it more likely that we would come across sites and signs that we would want to check out. Most of the time we weren’t in a hurry. Breakfast at the Log Cabin was a perfect example of that. Good food, good conversation and good service, it was exactly the way you wanted to start out your day. What treasures lay ahead, well we would find out.

In my short time on this earth I had never been to a country western theme park, and then again I had never been Cortland in upper New York. Well that is exactly where we were headed, we just didn’t know it . . . yet. Angela had a great book about taking road trips, this was about a lot of old cities near the Hudson River on the Beacon and Poughkeepsie NY 9 D side. Cindy had come across some great trips and this one we really wanted to take. This how we came across Cindy’s Ice Cream off Rt. 202. Besides the obvious connection, there was ice cream and it looked like a 50’s joint.

What comes next, is just road trips are all about. It’s what makes them fun. We tried to connect to NY 9D from the north and then go south. But we got connected to US 9. Pete and Oshi Seeger’s house was on 9D just below Poughkeepsie. Anyway we got all turned around, found it hard to get off the road and went way down Rt. 9 on the east side of the Hudson, backtracked up and crossed over. It was at this junction that we settled on our next location. We had about 50 miles to backtrack up Rt. 9 and then back up further up the Westside of the Hudson and intersect with Rt. 20 to go through Albany and west.
We stopped at some fast-food joint and parked in the back 40 where the Lil’ Guy fit, got some coffee to plot our night spot. We had already lost hours. It was getting on to late afternoon. We belonged to some ground site where we got 50% off. Sometimes this meant the cost was as little as $15. We came across a place that, well we just had to check out.

We were headed to Cortland, NY and the Country Music Park Camp Ground. This is what I saw that afternoon.

http://cortlandmusicpark.org/index.php

Off we went, and arrived in the very cool town of Albany. We could see most of the capital buildings from Rt. US 20. What an incredible city. It is the state capital of New York State. We arrived about desk in pretty heavy traffic. Cindy was driving and I was trying to take pictures out of the window of the Rav 4. I think it gives the feeling you are riding with us.

The last leg was becoming all too familiar, the sun sets the construction projects increase and we blindly follow Garmin with the no interstate setting. It’s funny because most of the campgrounds, including KOA were usually very close to the interstate. We still persisted, more adventure. When we arrived, no one was in the office but they had a package directing us to our site. This time we were really late. Many road closures, detours, and the damnable large orange barrels that added a touch of danger. We made it and drove in frontwards, we could back out in the morning when we were well rested.

When we awoke it was hard to believe. There was an Opry barn, there was a Hall of Fame where there were a number of artifacts that had been donated by stars like Dolly Partin, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson and others. The facilities were scintillating immaculate. This park was well taken care of. So many had ponds with still water, you could see the skeeters were grateful for their great accommodations.

Entrance to a very unusual campground. It would have been more at home in Branson.

Entrance to a very unusual campground. It would have been more at home in Branson.

Leaving Cortland we came across one more old fire truck, I just pass them up

Leaving Cortland we came across one more old fire truck, I just pass them up

At this point of the trip I was excited about the Smithsonian, there are several and I was looking forward to the experience. Washington, D. C. is one of the few places we had made reservations. A KOA outside of the city near Annapolis. As usual on this trip our enthusiasm got sidetracked by the trip itself. Before us the Poconos, remember Cindy and I left Brooklyn with the idea of bypassing New York, Boston and Philadelphia. Pulling our tear drop through the cities was just something we didn’t want to do.

The old coal town of Ashville, Pennsylvania

The old coal town of Ashville, Pennsylvania

IMG_2248

The old highways revealed small towns that were barely surviving. Through this area there were no Mickey D’s, just a lot of small ma and pa businesses. We saw so much poverty yet through the interstates there were too many to count, four and five star resorts. At the end we came across the town of Ashville. These pictures will speak volumes of why we picked the routes we did. Imagine the countryside when construction began on US 15 in 1926.

Ashville was just a neat looking town, I wonder how my life would have been different if I grew up here.

Ashville was just a neat looking town, I wonder how my life would have been different if I grew up here.

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3 thoughts on “RETURN TO ’55, 360 of USA

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