Eric on The Road

Journeys into the offbeat, off the beaten path, overlooked and forgotten - by Eric Model

Sunday, April 30, 2006

"On The Road Corner" for May at

Last month at our website ( - In "The Letter From the Road" newsletter), we wrote of what had been described to us as "The First ZGold Rush in America". I was intrigued to learn that it is said that in 1828, Benjamin Parks was deer hunting and overturned a rock laced with gold. Parks' discovery led to "the first major gold rush in the U.S. and created overnight the boom town of Auraria, with a population of 10,000 by 1832".

Needless to say, I became further intrigued upon receiving an email from
John Corcoran from the North Carolina State Library, contesting these
findings. He who wrote that, in fact, the first Gold Rush occurred some 25 years earlier in North Carolina. For more on this subject, go to the newsletter at

Also at "On The Road Corner" this month:
A look at various Memorial Days that are observed around the fifty
states.....The origins of Mother's Day....New insight into frog jumping
technique...Dutch connections to Pella, Iowa....A dandelion recipe...Our American Place discussion, and more at "On The Road Corner" at

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Jazz & Heritage Survives in New Orleans

A few weeks back a lot of attention was focused on New Orleans during the first Mardis Gras since Katrina hit there last summer.

Gaining far less publicity, but probably equally significant is the staging of the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (April 28-30; May 5-7). To many this event captures the heart and soul of New Orleans.

Interestingly, at the time of Mardis Gras, some argued that it would not be appropriate to stage such an event while so much remained in dissaray. For this Jazz fest the story is a different one. In fact, there are many stories of those who originally were not planning New Orleans this year who felt they had to go to this event as a display of solidarity with the city and its efforts to came all the way back against so many obstacles.

To find more on the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, go to
New Orleans Times Picayune, Saturday, April 29 "And the Show Goes On":Festgoers put the city's pain and loss on the back burner to enjoy the sweet sounds of Jazzfest

Also see:

If you cannot make it there you can see via webcast at:

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Stanley Cup Goes Home to England

This item was reported by Pat Hickey in the Montreal Gazette:

Cup goes home, sort of: The Stanley Cup will be taking a double-decker bus tour of London this week. It's part of a ceremony to mark the 114th anniversary of the purchase of the trophy by Lord Stanley of Preston.
On Thursday, Lord Stanley's great-great-grandson, Lord Edward Derby, and the Lord Mayor of London, will unveil the plaque on the site of the purchase in 1892, but there are no plans to commemorate the actual creation of the cup that took place in Sheffield.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Abandoned Rail Line Becomes First Elevated Park

In New York City, construction has begun on one of the most unusual and innovative parks in the nation. The High Line is an abandoned railroad overpass that spans 22 blocks on Manhattan's West Side and will become the nation's first elevated park.

The project will transform the rusting, forgotten structure into an urban promenade of lush parkland. It will run a mile and half through the city -- from Greenwich Village to Midtown Manhattan -- and hover three stories above the street.

More, including artist renderings, from Robert Smith in his report on NPR's "All Things Considered"

Where the 10-Ounce Bud Is the King of Beers

Noah Adams had a great feature on NPR's All Things Considered about St. Mary's County, MD - a rural part of eastern Maryland where local practice dictates that Budweiser beer is sold in 10 ounce, not 12 ounce cans.

The 10-ounce cans aren't sold in very many places in the United States. But in St. Mary's for the past 50 years, the 10 is indeed the king of beers. Apparently, folks there are quite pleased to pay 12 ounce can prices for 10 ounce cans.

This entertaining report can found at:

Places That Time Forgot & The Decades Cannot Improve

I know. Here I am in New Jersey referring to an article about Middle America wrtitten in The New York Times. Many of you might claim that The Times and someone in New Jersey for that matter is as tuned in to Middle America as, say El Jazeera.

But the fact is there were a couple of interesting pieces in last Sunday's paper that I wanted to share with you. As an infamous cable news station claims, "You decide". I think you'll find both informative and entertaining. Together you start to get an interesting glimpse at some of rural life in America these days:

1. In the "National" Section, an artilce about Oxford, Iowa where Paul Feldstein photographed the town's story in portraits 21 yaers apart (1984/2004)

2. In the New York Times Magazine:"Not Far From Foresaken", by Richard Rubin, a fascinating piece about how "the loneliest corner of North Dakota" is trying to attract folks to live there and some of the challenges when they are taken up on the offer.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Baseball in the Air

On the radio, we spoke about groups remembering ball clubs long departed (Brooklyn Dodgers, Philadelphia Athletics, Boston Braves); about "Old-Time" ball-parks, and about a poll ranking the top 100 all-time "Voices of the Game".

We hope you might share with us your own personal favorite "Field of Dreams" or "Voice of the Game". Also, do you have a favorite place and time in baseball ? Ernie Banks used to say "Let's Play Two" - Where and when would your perfect doubleheader be set ? Who would be playing and who would be announcing ? (Any music: rock or organ - what songs). You get the idea. Tell us what your perfect place is.

Here is some information about some of the topics spoken about on the radio:

The Fans They Left Behind: Philadelphia Athletics, St. Louis Browns, Boston Braves, Seattle Pilots and Montreal Expos - see below - entry for March 26 with links to some interesting sites.

The new Busch Stadium in St. Louis is officially opening on Monday as home of the Cardinals. For more see:

In Detroit some are still hoping to save the old Tiger Stadium:

Can you guess the 10 oldest ballparks ?
See if you are right at:

Who's your all-time favorite radio or tv baseball announcer ? Check out what one poll concluded at:
By the way, look out for Curt Smith's new book: Voices of Summer: Ranking Baseball's 101 All-Time Best Announcers. He is a historian of baseball broadcasting and author of "Voices of the Game" and many other entertaining works on the subject.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

"Pink Line" Train Coming to Chicago

The Chicago Transit Authority has picked the color pink for the name of a branch of the "L" train.

The Chicago Sun Times Reported that the the winning color was chosen based on more than 500 essays submitted by Chicago area students.
According to the article, the line was approved for a 180 day trial, scheduled to start June 25th. The CTA, states the Sun Times, has not decided exactly what shade of pink the line will be.

The Pink Line name may raise eyebrows here, but pink is a common color on transit maps around the world, according to Maya Emsden, who has researched transit mapping colors for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The reason for pink's popularity is simple, Emsden said. "Your crayola box is huge, but it's got to be a color that's easily replicable," she said. "I don't think it's odd; I think it's interesting."
Choosing a name was easy. The hard part, the CTA said, will be selecting one student from among those who nominated the winning color to receive a $1,000 savings bond. That decision will be made later this spring.

Chicago appears to be the first major city in the country to name one of its transit lines after the color pink.
Most cities don't name their lines after colors at all, opting instead for letters, numbers or destinations.
But pink is a common choice for transit maps outside the U.S.
Here are some other cities that use pink to distinguish transit lines in stations or on maps: London; Tokyo; Paris; Mexico City; Moscow; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Brussels, Belgium; Munich, Germany; Madrid, Spain; and Oslo, Norway, according to Metro Maps of the World, a new coffee table book by Mark Ovenden.
Monifa Thomas Chicago Sun-Times at:

So what does Chicago -- home of the Bears, the Bulls and Mike Ditka -- think of the "Pink Line"? For a sampling of opinion go to this report at