Back in 2005, I decided I’d like to judge a BBQ contest so I did a little research and discovered I’d have to take a class through either the Kansas City BBQ Society or the Memphis BBQ Network. I decided on Memphis because it was closer and I’d heard more about the Memphis in May events which included a huge BBQ festival and competition.
So, off to Memphis went I and after the training session, I decided to meander through the Delta for several days. I’d been there before but always with family and always on a schedule. I was retired now and my time was my own.
There was a time in the American South when juke joints were to be found at every dirt road crossing. Sometimes they were ramshackle houses or abandoned commercial buildings but often, they were small buildings assembled from whatever could be found. Rough cut boards, disassembled shipping crates, and rusting metal roofing were common.
Inside these places could be found fried catfish, smoked pork, cold beer, corn liquor and a couple of guys with cheap instruments pounding out the rhythms that we know today as the blues. If there wasn’t live music there’d be a jukebox playing records and thus the name, juke joints.
Sometime back in the ’70s or ’80s Dale Wilson and his son Kenny were building pickup trucks based on real-life semi-tractor trucks. I can’t recall now if they were full size of miniatures.
Anyway, in 2015 my grandson and I were in Clarksdale, MS at a blues festival and just happened across this full-sized monster that had been made into a pickup truck. Called the Blues Man it was driving around in a city appropriate for its name.
Hopefully, it will jog some memories and some of you may have some photos of Dale and Kenny’s creations to share with the group.
Back in the 1970s, I took my junior high school class to Mound City Group in Chillicothe. Even though I drive past the main site several times a year I haven’t stopped until just a few days ago. I had thrown my back out so I didn’t venture beyond the visitor center area but I got enough pictures and a short video to give one some idea of what is to be found there.
Going back to 2001 Sebastian Inlet along Florida’s East Coast has been a favorite saltwater fishing destination for me. It is arguably the best fishing locales in the Eastern United States.
The inlet connects the waters of the Atlantic with the waters of the very large Indian River. It is a very narrow man-made inlet and with every tide change, large numbers of sea creatures move back and forth between the sound and the ocean.
Maybe you saw a video on the news of the recent grasshopper invasion of Las Vegas (see below). Back in the 1960s, I had the fortune, good or otherwise, of experiencing such a thing in person. I can’t remember if it was grasshoppers or crickets but, as I learned later, such infestations are not uncommon in America’s West.
I was coming back to Ohio from California and had stopped for the night in a cheap motel in either Texas or Oklahoma. The entrance to my room had an actual screen door on it and when I had packed and was ready to leave I opened the main door and the screen door was alive with crawling insects. I literally held my breath long enough to run for the car and in doing so several hundred made it into the passenger compartment with me.
Some years ago we woke to find ourselves in the midst of a growing population of old-order Mennonites and Amish folks. The Mennonites arrived first and located around the Rainsboro and Bainbridge areas. The Amish began arriving maybe fifteen years later and settled in the area between Petersburg and Leesburg. I don’t know about the growth of the Mennonite community but the Amish community has experienced amazing growth and it continues to expand.
The basis of their economies remains agriculture but many have side businesses to supplement their farm incomes. Seeing this as a draw for tourism I started a website called the AME Trail (Amish-Mennonite-English)and it features the many small businesses these community members have started. Unfortunately, I have not kept the site current but it still presents a good idea of what all can be found.
One of the earliest Mennonite and Amish settlements in South Central Ohio was atop Wheat Ridge in Adams County. The area has developed into a major tourist draw for urban populations in the area with the biggest attractions being Miller’s Grocery, Bakery, Furniture, and all things store on Wheat Ridge Rd. Maybe the next biggest is the Murphin Ridge Inn and Restaurant on Murphine Ridge Rd. It’s on the pricy side but proves that if you know how to cook, “they will come.”
Most Americans know a little about the times America went to war with Great Britain. There was the War of Independence in 1776 and the War of 1812 in 1812. But how many know anything about the Pig War between America and the mother country?
Over the centuries America has had its problems resolving border disputes between itself and Britain and/or Canada. After all, the border is 5,525 miles long and not, as it seems, a straight line. In the Pacific Northwest, the boundary weaves its way through a large chain of islands and it has not always been sure just which island went with which nation.
Sometime in the early 1990s my wife, my son, and I were in the French Quarter of New Orleans and finding ourselves hungry we tripped into the closest restaurant to us; a very old place called the Old Absinthe House. As first-time visitors to NOLA, we didn’t have a clue that we had stumbled into one of the oldest and most famous bars in America. The Absinthe was where Andrew Jackson met the pirate Jean Lafitte to ask help in repelling the British invasion of the lower Mississippi and New Orleans. Lafitte agreed and history was made.
A couple of friends recently visited Savannah, GA and posted some food photos on Facebook. They mentioned the names of a couple of restaurants they visited but not Paula Dean’s place. I’ve never eaten at Dean’s and probably never will after her fall from Food Network grace. But, I do have a story to tell.
Sometime in the late ’90s a friend and myself were headed to Florida for a fishing trip. We decided to take I-95 going through Savannah and stopping at Dean’s for lunch. We were in a large van and pulling an 18′ boat making a parking place hard to find. My friend was handicapped and used a modified crutch to get around. So, I drove by Dean’s and dropped him off to secure a place in line while I found a place to park the boat.
First of all, we’re not talking Austin Power’s shag here, we’re talking about popular dances! As a kid growing up in Greenfield, OH in the 1950s being able to jitterbug earned you just a little higher step on the socially desirable ladder. We waltzed, we foxtrotted, we twisted, we strolled, but those who were really cool jitterbugged and we jitterbugged differently than what we thought anyone else did.
You could, as we did, run home after school and catch American Bandstand and those Philadelphia kids just weren’t cool because they didn’t jitterbug as we did. Their steps just weren’t as smooth and crisp as ours and there wasn’t the refined coordination between partners like there was with us.
Hearing Greenfield people talk about how much they enjoyed the Midsummer’s Night on Midway events back in the early 2000s got me thinking negative things. People are always talking about there not being anything to do in a small town and then when something does happen, most don’t show up.
This was true in 1970 and truer today. I’d guess it is due to there being more recreational options and greater pressure on people’s free time. I don’t know about other towns but I suspect it isn’t much different.
Early in my teaching career, I attended a conference for history teachers. One of the workshops I attended concerned local burial practices and using a communities cemetery as a source of historical information. If, for example, you notice a large increase in burials around a certain date, it may indicate a medical epidemic. Burial practices, obviously, are often dictated by an area’s geology.
If you’ve ever been to New Orleans or Southern Louisiana you probably noticed that people aren’t buried underground. This isn’t dictated by any religious or ethnic custom. Instead, it all has to do with the water table. If you dig but a foot or more in New Orleans you hit the water table and caskets just won’t stay buried when the rainy season arrives. Therefore, long ago it was decided that bodies had to be buried in above-ground vaults. (SEE POST NOTE BELOW)Continue reading We All Don’t Bury Our Dead the Same→
Some of you may recall that at one time the only option we mortals had for home movies was an 8mm silent camera. Other than being the only option, the product sucked. All the neighborhood kids running round in blurry, grainy, flickering black and white globs of motion and dust.
Then came Super 8mm cameras and the quality became… I haven’t a clue. Other than costing more money I can’t say much more without Googling.