Tuesday, June 28, 2011
We are currently parked north of my brother's home in Sylvania, Ohio, which places us in southern Michigan. I know, I have not written on this site in about a week. A big benefit of our lifestyle is that we have the opportunity to visit many family members and friends, which we have been doing in the past week. Our home is parked south of the town of Dundee. One of its founding fathers wanted to name the town after his home town of Scotland, hence the name of Dundee. We spent our time in Dundee at the old saw mill which was built in 1828.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
This farm sits in the Appalachian Plateau region of Ohio and was once owned by Louis Bromfield. He was a Pulitzer prize winning author who wrote 33 books and numerous screenplays. Bromfiel was said to have mentored Hemingway in his writing. Funny thing is, I do know what Hemingway wrote and I can’t say the same for Bromfield. In recent years, as conservative farming has come into vogue, Bromfield is becoming more well-known. He has been called “the father of sustainable agriculture”. Bromfield used conservative farm practices such as terracing and contour plowing on his dream farm Malabar in the 1940s. After his death the buildings and ground were turned over to the state of Ohio. The farm is still a working conservative farm which feeds the nearby prison population.
On Sunday afternoon John and I took a guided tour of the fields, farm and country house of 32 rooms. The core of the Big House was a simple two-story frame home built in the previous century.
Prior to moving into this house Louis and his wife Bromfields and three daughters lived in France. Many of the furnishings still found in the house today are what they brought over from France. Below is a picture of Bromfield’s study. A bust of Voltaire always had a place of prominence on the windowsill, Bromfield called him his muse.
Louis Bromfield loved to entertain. His close friend Humphrey Bogart married Lauren Bacall in the country house in 1941. His guests were always expected to work on the farm. Jimmy Cagney was said once to have been sent into the village to sell the farm’s produce. Bromfield had 1,000 acres, 600 of which he kept for wildlife. The full beauty of Malabar can be seen from Mt. Jeez, the highest point in the park. After touring the farm we drove up that mountain. From the top we could view the surrounding countryside, we were told that 5 counties could be seen from here. Malabar in the Indian dialect means "beautiful hills and valleys", that aptly describes Bromfield's farm in Pleasant Valley.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
After touring the prison Friday John and I drove into the town of Mansfield. In the heart of the city is the Historic Carousel District. In this area there are tree lined streets and brick paved pathways. The tourist may either wander in the quaint antique shops or ride the carousel. The historic area of Mansfield became home to the first hand-carved indoors wooden carousel in the 1930s. The charming carousel has, besides the usual prancing horses, a wide menagerie of other animals.
The town also has a few native sons of whom they are quite proud. In the city park we found a memorial to John Sherman, brother of William Sherman and author of the Sherman Anti-trust Act. Nearby, on the outside wall of a building, is a mural honoring Johnny Appleseed. He is known for not only planting apple seeds, but also for a courageous overnight run in 1813 from Mansfield to nearby settlements for reinforcements after Indians had killed a local shopkeeper. That was a piece of American history new to me!
Saturday John and I drove to Holmes County, a farming area which has the largest number of Amish in the United States. This is quite a beautiful area with rolling green hills dotted with large barns and austere farmhouses. Crafts, antiques, produce and homemade foods can be bought from the Amish at roadside stands or in area shops. The traffic was heavy on Saturday, I worried about the safety of the many Amish in their horse–drawn buggies driving on the roads among many high speed cars..However,the Amish did not seem concerned about traffic building up behind their buggies and drivers were patient with them. I guess this happens frequently for the Amish and they have learned to live with it.
Returning to our campground later that day we noticed the 100 mile marathon runners running/jogging by our motorhome. According to the locals this is a yearly event. The run had started earlier in the day, and according to the runners, was going to go all night until four loops of 25 miles were completed One runner commented to me: “I don’t know why I put myself through this”. I bet the little fawn, who was following the runner's path, also wondered what it all was about!
We have moved on to Loudonville, Ohio. Friday we drove to Mansfield, the location of an old prison. As you can see from the picture this building is beautiful. The castle-like structure was built in 1886 and was considered by many to be a 19th century architectural wonder. Its style was meant to give the inmates a rebirth of their spiritual lives. Initially the prison did help many of its inmates turn their lives around. In this prison they could learn almost any skill they wanted. The prison was self-sustaining in that it produced, prepared and even canned its own food. There was also a large furniture shop. Classrooms and teachers gave the inmates an opportunity to get their high school diploma. However, by the 1970s over-crowding gave the prison a sub-standard rating (at certain times in its history it held 2200 to 3000 men). It was quite sobering for John and I to view the two cell blocks. In the East Cell Block alone (there are two of the blocks) are six tiers which can house 1,200 men in cells 7’x9’. The platform shown in the picture below was left behind after a movie was filmed there in that cell block. That picture was taken looking down on the tier of cells. Many of prison walls do need a new paint job!
Six movies have been made within these prison walls, Shawshank Redemption being the most popular one of them all. We found on our tour of the prison quite a few signs indicating “Hollywood Prop” sites. Some of the sites were certainly not part of the original building, as you may see in the picture below. The hole where the prisoners escaped in Shawshank can be seen to the right of Morgn Freeman.
The prison closed in 1990. After it was cleaned up, tours of the building were given. The building also became available for weddings. Every November there is a “Glamour in the Slammer Expo” when future brides can meet the vendors who will assist them with planning their wedding in the Central Guard’s room. While we were there the room was being readied for a wedding reception that evening. Paranormal activity has been reported everywhere in this prison, this would not be my choice for a wedding site!
Friday, June 17, 2011
In my last posting I mentioned this historical park, where the Wright brother’s first plane is housed. The park has 25 exhibit buildings relating to Dayton’s rich heritage of creativity and invention. In 1884 Dayton was a rapidly modernizing city which provided a rich milieu for the Wright Brother’s curiosity and creative genius. The entrepreneurial boys ran a print shop from 1887-1899. In the Park there is a 1930s era working print shop with period equipment. Pictured below is the printer which Orville Wright gave his great-nephew to use while he was in college- to print out the college newspaper and other items, which provided him a little income.
In 1895 the Wright Brothers added a bicycle shop to their business ventures, the first step on their path to the invention of an airplane. The Park has a Dayton Cyclery building which houses a collection of rare and antique bicycles with a special emphasis on Ohio’s role in bicycle evolution. Pictured below is a 1899 Cyngnet bicycle for ladies, made by the Dayton Stoddard Manufacturing Company (the company also built cars and farm implements). There is a netting over the back wheel which protected dresses from the spokes and chain. That bike has real class!
From 1908- 1912 Charles Kettering and his “Barn Gang” of scientists developed the electric self-starter for the automobile. In the Park there is a replica of a Dayton barn where those first experiments began. Lastly, I would be very remiss if I did not mention John H. Patterson, who also played a big role in Dayton’s modernization. He was the founder of the Dayton National Cash Register Company. The museum has an exhibit of the company’s old advertisements. We enjoyed touring the Park, it certainly is a very unique museum. In this posting I mentioned only a few of the many exhibits which can be found there. The park is named because of the presence of a 24 foot high carillon which is present on the grounds. Concerts with the carillon are played weekly during the summer.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
There are five sites in Dayton where one may follow the path of the Wright brothers to the invention of the airplane. Since John and I are already on the Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Monday we stopped at the Hoffman Prairie Flying Field located on base. Hoffman field in the late 1890s was flat open pasture land.. A Dayton banker, Torrence Huffman, allowed the Wright brothers to use that field for their flying experiments. His only requirement was that they keep his cows out of harm's way while flying their experiments.Trolleys from Dayton stopped at a small depot called Sims Station, located near the field. The depot allowed the Wright brothers to transport equipment from their bicycle shop in Dayton to the flying field. A replica of that depot is pictured below. No trolley tracks can be seen there today.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
The village of Yellow Springs has been called one of "America's Coolest Small Towns". It has an eclectic array of shops, restaurants and galleries. The town itself has an artsy feel to it with its many decorated light posts and trees, which you may notice in the picture below.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Our home is now located on this base, where our niece Laura's husband Mike works. Security clearance is needed to reside here and consequently passes are needed every time we leave and later need to get back in. Reveille is played every morning Monday through Friday at 7:30 am. I keep thinking of that phrase: "you are in the army now". There is a certain military mentality which comes with living on such a large base, and it is an ever present feeling even when one is off the base. Yesterday, at Peace Lutheran church, the pastor slipped up and said "Pentagon" instead of, what I am sure he meant, Pentecost. Anyway, it seemed natural then that the first place to visit while in the Dayton area would be a museum of airplanes.
The museum also displays the unmanned aerial vehicle or "drone".This became important for strategic reconnaissance and was first designed in the 1960s.
There is also a section of the museum devoted to the aircraft and tools of the 21st century. Below is a picture of a rescue all-terrain vehicle.
Seeing that vehicle and also viewing a short film recounting the events in Afghanistan in 2002 at the battle of Takur Ghar(our first major battle there) made it all too real to me what our servicemen and women are enduring in many war zones of the world today.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
On our trip both to and from this park we followed again some of the markers to the covered bridges of Parke County. We can now say that we have seen at least half of the 31 bridges. Below is a picture of the West Union Bridge, longest of the double-span bridges. It was built in 1876.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
We had a major thunderstorm Saturday night, it rained in copious amounts. When we got out of church Sunday morning it was still raining. We certainly could not do any outside touring so it seemed that our destination was to be the art museum in Terre Haute. Most fortunately for us the museum was closed because we discovered another wonderful museum, the Vigo County Historical Museum. It is located in an old Victorian Home built in 1868 and first owned by a local baker and confectioner.
Monday, June 6, 2011
It is fascinating to me how nicknames get started and soon no one knows what the real name is. That happened with Billie Creek, once known as William Creek. Billie Creek Village is a recreated, authentic turn-of-the-century village and home to three of Parke County's famous bridges. Two old churches, a school and even Indiana's tenth governor's home has been moved to this village. It is very much a living history museum. I especially like the old livery stable which is located in this village. It was built in 1870 and the signage on it noted that it was a "stable environment" where one could rent or keep horses. The Village's original architect considered the barn "one of the finest specimens of hand workmanship in the area". The up-right studs are all hand-hewn and are held together by wooden dowels. Below is a picture of the old livery stable.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Our campground is in a heavily wooded area, and there are plenty of birds around. To my listening pleasure early this morning I heard the unique song of a whip-poor-will. I had not heard the song of that nightjar since about ten years ago. Such are the unexpected pleasures in our nomadic life style! Parke County is the "covered bridge capitol" of our nation. Yesterday we saw three of the thirty-one covered bridges in Parke County. To see those three we covered sixty miles over winding narrow country roads. The first one we saw was the largest and most scenic. Bridgeton Covered Bridge lies across Racoon Creek and has a waterfall nine feet in height. It also has an operating grist mill. The bridge was built in 1823, and rebuilt in 1870. In 2006 an arsonist burned it down, but it has subsequently been rebuilt. Last week a tornado did some major damage to the bridge and roof of the mill. Hopefully insurance will pay for the damage.