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.
Today marks the fourth day of Black History Month for 2019. As has been my custom I try to write about some aspect of the Black experience in America. Here’s my current offering. I hope you both enjoy it and learn a little of our nation’s history.
My father’s family was from South Carolina and during the 1950s I would occasionally spend a summer with them. Because of that, I became aware of Jim Crow or segregation laws. I never tried to understand these things and as a kid just accepted them as being, “the way things were.”
As an adult, I began to learn and question the truth and subsequently became a sometime student of Southern and Black History. This eventually led to an interest in blues music history and from this, I became aware of the Chitlin Circuit, a loose association of entertainment venues that catered to Black performers. Traveling the circuit meant Black entertainers needed services. They needed fuel and car maintenance, food, shelter, medical care and so much more that wasn’t easily found in a segregated America.
On Sunday, February 1, 2004, Danny Masters and I rolled into Ruidoso, New Mexico and stopped for a beer in what could only be described as a cowboy bar. I was probably the only one in the place not wearing cowboy boots and Wranglers. Even Danny was sporting a pair of boots, jeans, and a snap button western shirt. Adding to the cowboy image was a genuine king-size Marlboro dangling from his lips. The only clue he wasn’t a true son of the West was the one size fits all ball cap with KY embroidered on the front. Continue reading Super Bowl 38 In A Cowboy Bar→
Back in 2004, I was in the Big Bend area of SW Texas. That area is about as unwelcoming as a place as is yet it has a kind of beauty unlike anything found here in Southern Ohio. I was watching a video taken from the veranda of an old abandoned ghost town mansion that was being used as a two-room B&B. The sunrises and sunsets were spectacular and even during the day, the light changes the color and shapes of the hills and canyons. Every day is different as is every moment of every day. Except for the heat that veranda would be a wonderful place to sip a cold one and watch it all unfold.
There seems to be a movement afoot throughout America. A manic movement to decorate old brick walls with colorful, artistic, and/or historical murals. Possibly the earliest I noticed were huge murals along Cincinnati’s Central Ave. More recently we have visited the historical flood wall artworks of Portsmouth which have become a major visitor draw. The most common visit I’m aware of is to tour the flood walls and then have supper at the Scioto Ribber.
Wilmington has a growing crop of excellent murals in its business district and several years ago Greenfield’s Community Market adorned its east wall with a trio of mostly historical murals. Not sure it’s a mural but I like what the Zint’s do with the Corner Pharmacy wall. The first murals I recall in Greenfield were those painted by Eddie Tipton back in the 1970s. I remember those being more folk art like and I believe most of have faded into the pages of time.
These days just about everyone has a cell phone and almost everyone who has a cell phone has a smartphone. I don’t know when you purchased your first cell phone but I got mine sometime in the mid to late 1980s and it was a “bag phone.” I don’t recall the brand but I had to drive to Dayton to purchase it and it worked on the Cingular network. I did a lot of weekend traveling back then and thought it would make things safer for me. While I never had to use it to get me out of trouble I did have occasions to call 911 for others.
The battery, antenna, and the phone were stored in a bag and to charge it you plugged it into your car’s cigarette plug. Not very portable but you could throw its strap over your shoulder and you were free…until the battery wore down.
4 BILLION MILES AWAY: NASA’s minivan-sized New Horizons spacecraft just visited the most distant object ever explored, a rocky, 20-mile-long object 4 billion miles from Earth called Ultima Thule. The mission was first conceived 30 years ago.
If you’ve followed the news you are aware that a Boeing 737, operated by a Cuban airline, crashed leaving 111 dead. Not too long after the crash I started to wonder how a Cuban airline acquired an American made passenger plane.
The US has maintained strict embargoes on selling any American products to Cuba since the late 1950s. These embargoes are what accounts for the wild assortment of 1950s era American automobiles seen all over the streets of Havana. The ingenious mechanics of Cuba have kept these classics running despite not being able to import spare parts from America.
If your state is possibly the poorest, least educated, most conservative state in the nation; well, that’s what’s wrong with it. It also doesn’t help if your state’s flag still includes a version of the Confederate flag. Having too many of the people portrayed in the attached video also doesn’t speak well.
I’ve been to Mississippi many times and things are slowly changing. The state and local governments have done some amazing things in creating a blues and music based tourist economy. But despite the steps forward there are too many people who would take it back to the pre civil rights era. Mississippi’s overwhelming support of Donald Trump is a strong statement to this.
Couple of years ago I heard a black Mississippi judge speak of the new Mississippi. The fact that he was black and a judge speaks to things new. Unfortunately there’s too much old in Mississippi.