Eric on The Road

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

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Heard on the Radio: Mustard & Burgers uniquely celebrated in Wisconsin

As heard on the radio:

August 5 is Mustard Day in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, home of the Mustard Museum.
It's a unique event - highlioghted by Mustard Custard, mustard cooking demonstrations, music and more. Ther are some 3,000 hot dogs available free - if you put mustard on it. The Oscar Meyer Weiner Van will be there. And then there is the museum that includes some 4000 jars of mustard. Museum curator Barry Levinson joined the gang at Left Jab Radio for a discusssion about Mustard Day and the Museum.

That same day in another part of Wisconsin is Burger Day in Seymour. Seymour claims to be the bithplace of the hamburger back in 1885. For years they have been staging a Burger Fest there. Tom Duffey from Seymour spoke about the festival and the role of the burger in his community (they twice cooked up the "world's Biggest Hamburger). Tom will be among those representing Seymour next month in Ohio at the first annual Hamburger Festival featuring "The Hamburger Hearings", which will sort through the competing claims of four communities: Seymour, New Haven, ct, Hamburg, NY and Athens, Texas. Each claims to be the birthplace of the hamburger. This event in August wil try to get to the bottom of the issue.

To hear the interview, go to - audio.

For information about Mustard Day go to:
For information about the Burgerfest in Seymour, go to:
For information about the Hamburger Hearings, go to:

Traditional Newfoundland Home Cooking & More at The Fish Fun & Folk Festival

The annual Fish Fun & Folk Festival is taking place this weekend (last full weekend in July) at Twillingate, Newfoundland. The festival, celebrating the culture of Newfoundland, is is one of the largest and longest running folk festivals in the Province.

In a scenic coastal setting that includes iceburgs, the festival features a giant parade, family bonfire, music and fireworks. The week alos brings Twillingate's only traffic jam.

A big highlight of the festivities is the traditional Newfoundland Home-Cooking to be found here.

The Festival offers daily traditional Newfoundland meals during its festivities. You can enjoy a variety of Newfoundland foods by visiting these local meals during your stay. Menus vary from potluck to seafood to Newfie Pea Soup and dumplings! You can try some Newfie baked beans or a good ol' Jiggs Dinner. Ther is also
Toutons & Tea.

For more information about the event or about just what these foods are go to:

The Front Porch as A State of Mind (NPR Special Series)

This summer, All Things Considered is examining the front porch: its history, its role in American life and literature and its rich symbolism.

The first part of the series ran on July 28. Well worth a listen.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Hex Signs Fading in PA Dutch Country

from The New York Times, Saturday, July 22, 2006:

Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs that have benn painted on barns more than two centuries ago are disappearing.

Usually about four feet in circumference, the signs were painted in bright hues on barns’ gable sides, especially along Old Route 22, or the Hex Highway, a quiet, winding road just off Interstate 78.

Experts counted more than 800 of the signs on barns in the 1980’s; fewer than 200 remain. The barn stars are disappearing ever more rapidly as old wooden barns themselves disappear, replaced by cheaper metal ones. Another factor in their decline was the $300 or so it cost farmers to keep them repainted.

They were brought here by the Germans who came from the Rhineland-Palatinate area to these fertile valleys in southern Pennsylvania, a region rich in mystery — and mistranslation. Though the people in these parts are of German descent, they are called the Pennsylvania Dutch because the dialect that most of them once spoke, a mix of German and English, was referred to as Pennsylvania Deutsch.

Passing: Jack Smith, Host of "You Asked For It"

From A.P.:

Jack Smith, a singer and recording artist who was the host of the popular "You Asked For It" Television program, died on July 3 at his home in Westlake Village, California. he was 92.

Smith began his career in the early 1930's and spent many years in radio. His nickname was "Smiling Jack Smith". In 1945, he began hosting a 15 minute, five-nights per week radio show on CBS which earned him a sat on the Hollywood Hall of Fame. He is probably best known for being the host of "You Asked For It" on ABC television for its last year in 1958.

Passing: Co-inventor of Philly Cheese Steak

From Philadelphia Inquirer,By Gayle Ronan Sims, July 21, 2006:

Harry M. Olivieri, 90, younger brother of Pat, as in world-famous Pat's King of Steaks, and co-creator of the original cheesesteak, died of heart failure yesterday at Atlantic City Medical Center in Pomona, N.J.

As the story goes, the two brothers operated a hot dog grill at Ninth Street and Passyunk Avenue in 1930, when Pat said to Mr. Olivieri, "Here's a quarter. Go to the Italian Market and buy a hunk of steak."

The brothers cut up the steak, grilled it with sliced onions, and slapped it on a roll.

A cabbie drove by and asked what they called that sandwich. "I guess you call it a steak sandwich," they said and sold it for a dime. That was the birth of the Philadelphia steak. Cheese was introduced 22 years later. First Cheez Whiz was slapped on the cooked steak. A few years later, they began serving it with provolone and American cheese and pizza sauce.

The details differ, depending which Olivieri family member tells it, but the fact is that Mr. Olivieri and his brother founded Pat's King of Steaks and the sandwich most people associate with Philadelphia.

For more go to:

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Champion Back Seat Driver (NPR)

From NPR's All Things Considered, July 19:

The eighth annual Blue Ox Back Seat Driver competition took place this week in Forest City, Iowa. The event, sponsored by Winnebgao in its home town, involves a driver racing backward while blindfolded and instructed by the voice of a companion over an intercom -- is in its eighth year.

NPR's Melissa Block spoke to Randy and Linda Burlison of Goreville, Ill. The pair took part in this year's competition. They didn't do as well as last year, when they came in third.

For more:

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Nebraska School Shrinks to the Point of Closure (NPR)

From the One Room School Series (NPR News):

In the spring of 2006, Glen School in Sioux County, Nebraska was closed.

At one time, more than 100 families lived within walking distance of the school. But it takes ever larger ranches to make a cattle operation sustainable these days, so fewer people are left nearby.

By 2006 at the school, there were only two students left, Luke and Travis. The school board made the painful decision to shut down the rural school. After 120 years, there would be no school in Glen. The boys would finish in town.

Neenah Ellis reports.

Friday, July 14, 2006

A City in Decline Fighting to Preserve Its 1800’s Heritage (NYT)

From The New York Times, July 14, 2006 - By MICHELLE YORK (NYT) - New York and Region - News :

“Utica has lost an awful lot of historic buildings, and some of those buildings that were torn down would make you cry, they were so beautiful,” said Michael Bosak of the Landmarks Society of Greater Utica. “We want to stop the deterioration.”

So earlier this year, the Landmarks Society, which puts out a list each year of a dozen or so at-risk buildings, declared that so many of the remaining historical buildings were falling into disrepair that the architectural integrity of the entire city, once a thriving center for textiles and beer, was endangered.

“The decision was difficult for numerous reasons,’’ Michael S. Rizzo, the society’s president, said in an e-mail message. “First, we had to grasp and understand the idea. Could an entire city really be endangered? After we digested that, and believed it to be true, we knew we would face criticism and lose favor from those that can’t see the big picture.”

With the declaration, the Landmarks Society, a volunteer group, said it hoped to push city officials and private property owners into redoubling their efforts to save historic structures. But as Mr. Rizzo predicted, the society has been criticized.

For me go to the Times or:

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Company Town, Losing a Landlord, Seeks a Mate (NYT)

The Pacific Lumber Company has owned the entirety of Scotia, California - all 500 acres of it, for 140 years: its homes, its streets, its shops and even its two churches.

Until now, that is. Late last year, bowing to economic realities and requests from employees, Pacific Lumber announced that it would sell almost all of its residential holdings in Scotia -- 275 houses -- to the employees who rent them, effectively putting an end to one of the last company towns in America.

The deal, of course, comes with a catch.

To read about what's happening there see:

Bridge Birthday

It clearly does not stir at the imagination of other bridges, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, or the George Washington Bridge (which ryns 75 later this year), but a milestone was noted this week at the Triborough Bridge in New York.

On July 11, 1936 the Bridge was opened. When it opened it became a testament to what could be done by a man who prided himself on getting things done. That man, Robert Moses - later became known for being a bullying power broker. But in the Triborough Bridge a long-time dream f many was fulfilled in tying together in a ribbon the boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens. What was thought to be impossible became a reality. It was a major step in recreating the nature of the city and the region.

President Franklin Roosevelt attended the ceremony. Interestingly enough, the first vehicle to cross the bridge was not a car but a bicycle from the Bronx to Queens (It did not pay a toll). The first private car from the Bronx had to be pushed trough after it stalled (the driver had paid the 25 cent toll).

To mark the anniversary date, there were period cars driven by folks in period attire underneath the bridge (on land) on Randall's Island.

Part of the anniversary, there is also an exhibit on display "The Triborough Bridge: Robert Moses and the Automobile Age". But to see it you have to go to yet a fourth borough - Brooklyn, where it is being shown at the Transit Museum through next year.

Also see:

Mule Day Parade & Popcorn Factory on "Terrorist Target List" (NYT)

As federal terrorism funds are being cut to New York and Washington DC by 40 per cent (At a time that a terrorist plot was discovered to blow up the Path train tunnel under the Hudson River), the Dept. Of Homeland Security has included the following in the federal antiterrorism data-base: Old MacDanald's Petting Zoo, The Amish Popcorn factory, The Mule Day Parade, and the Sweetwater Flea Market. This according to today's (Wed, July 11, 2006) New York Times front page story.
"We didn't find it embarrassing", stated a deputy press Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

But the inspector general at HSA disagreed.

An audit of the list prompted the following conclusion, "The presence of large numbers of out-of-place assets taints the credibility of the data".

The owner of one site listed, The Amish Popcorn Factory, was surprised by its inclusion:

"I am out in the middle of nowhere", said Brian Lehman of the Popcorn Factory which is based in Berne, Indiana."We are nothing but a bunch of Amish buggies and tractors out here. No one would care".

But for those of us heading to a Hidden America event, I guess it is good that someone does care (as long as we decide not to go to NYC or DC).

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Ventriloquism Haven (NPR)

from NPR's All Things Considered, July 9, 2006

Vent Haven: A Shrine for Voices of the Past
by Naomi Lewin

Fort Mitchell, Ky., houses a tribute to great figures (human and otherwise) of a neglected art form.

Summer at the Lake

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, July 9, 2006:

What is more Minnesotan than going up to the lake?

John and Julia Maksymkiw spend their summers in a snug cabin on Farm Island Lake near Aitkin. After 45 years, it has moved beyond tradition, to ritual.

In part of a Special Project, the The Star Tribune (Minnepaolis-St. Paul)explores the tradition in profiling the Maksymkiws, part of an occasional series of tales that will run throughout the summer.

Va. woman seeks to clear Witch of Pungo

From USA TODAY, July 9, 2006

VIRGINIA BEACH (AP) — Belinda Nash, a volunteer at the historic Ferry Plantation House in Virginia Beach, has asked the governor to exonerate Grace Sherwood, Virginia's only convicted witch tried by water.

From Bill Geist (CBS Sunday Morning): Irish Road Bowling in WVa

ON A ROLL, From CBS News:

Bill Geist on the latest from the Irish Road Bowling circuit in West Virginia. Originally, it was a game played by soldiers between battles during the Civil War. The game disappeared but about ten years ago, but reemerged in the town of Ireland, W. Va. These days, Irish road bowling is gaining popularity across the Northeast and is, of course, still very popular in Ireland.

Also, for more information:

On the Road With Four TV's and a Fireplace (NYT)

From the New York Times, Sunday, July 9, Week In Review, by Bill Marsh, p.14:

R.V. builders face challenges like those faced by apartment dwellers in Manhattan: how to pack in all the comforts of a furnished condominium.
Go to:

Also see online, at Interactive Graphic: Trailer Living, Then and Now at:

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Real-bearded Santas flood toasty Missouri town

Members of order attend classes on ethics, special-needs kids

Saturday, July 8, 2006;

BRANSON, Missouri (AP) -- It's summer in southwest Missouri, but Santa Claus has come to town.

More than 280 Santas and 250 Mrs. Clauses are in Branson this weekend for the first convention of the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas.

The convention -- with 15 seminars on such topics as "Dealing With Special Needs Children," "The Art of Storytelling," "Santa Ethics" and "How to Get an Agent" -- is giving Santas a chance to discuss "ways to work with kids and be the best you can be in this," said spokesman Joe Moore, of San Clemente, California, who has been a Santa for four years.

The group, which requires members to have real beards, now has more than 800 members around the world, according to its Web site.

From NPR: Haven Brothers - A Diner Tradition in Providence

NPR's All Things Considered, July 8, 2006, by Debbie Elliott:

If you get hungry in the wee hours in Providence, R.I., there's one place the locals will send you for sure: Haven Brothers Diner.

Climbing a retractable metal staircase, visitors enter a shiny, stainless-steel truck trailer, built in the 1930s. It holds a counter and eight stools. Every day of the year, the trailer pulls into its own reserved parking space at the foot of Providence City Hall at 4 p.m. By 4 a.m., it's gone.

Behind the counter, serving up shakes and hot dogs -- as many as 1,000 dogs and burgers a night on the weekends -- is Ivan Giusti. He's the son of the owner, Sal Guisti. They're the latest guardians of a tradition that began in 1888 with a horse-drawn lunch wagon.

Anna Coffey Haven named the eatery for her sons, who ran the business. It stayed in the Haven family for several decades. The Guistis took over in the 1980s.

Diner enthusiast Daniel Zilka is the guide on a tour of a throwback to the earliest days of American fast-food culture.

Also see Diner History Website:

Classic Midsummer Classics

As heard on the radio:

It's time for the baseball All Star break. This year's festivities are being hosted by Pittsburgh.

Some of us can still remember once upon a time when the All Star Game was really a big deal. It was in an era before free agency, corporately named ballparks; before inter-league play and when the network game of the week was often the only televised major league baseball to be seen. These guys never played each other and we never saw them play each other, excpet maybe for the World Series.

These days things are much different. There is the All Star game, but there's alot more too, like a home run derby and Fan Fest.

The lords at Major League Baseball have decreed that the winner of this exhibition game will determine which league gets home field in the World Series. At the risk of sounding too Bob Costa-like, we'll leave that for a separate discussion. Let's be diplomatic and just say that things are very different these days. I'm not quite sure if all the bells & whistles are working. Ratings continue to slide at the Midsummer Classic.

Despite the changes described above, I still tune in. There is so much history. How about Carl Hubbell striking five in a row in 1934 - but not just any five: Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx, Simmons and Cronin ? Do you know when the first night game occurred - it was earlier than you think - 1943 at Shibe Park in Philadelphia. The first Black players in 1949 ( Robinson, Newcombe & Campy); the dominance of the NL in the 1950's & 1960's (many attribute to the willingness of the Senior Circuit to embrace Black & Latin players before the A.L.)

Then there is the mammoth Reggie Jackson homer that hit the Tiger Stadium light tower in 1971, and now probably the most famous modern day All-Star memory - the famous Pete Rose home plate collision with catcher Ray Fosse that broke Fosse's collarbone (Fosse was never the same).

So as I watch, I'll watch and remember.

For more go to:

Chicken Cluckers Converge on Nebraska Town

As heard on the radio:

Back in 1981, the folks at the local Chamber of Commerce in Wayne, Nebraska wanted to create an annual fun event that might put the town on the map. They opted for a "chicken show".

The theme of "chickens" was chosen" because of 1) the potential for art materials; 2) most people have knowledge and familiarity with chickens; and, 3) chickens can be considered with humor."

Those efforts worked. The Wayne Chicken Show received the 1996 Nebraska Outstanding Tourism Award and was selected in 1999, along with four other community events in America, to be featured in the Library of Congress. It is now an event that gains national attention - including on "Left Jab".

This year's edition of teh show is being staged over this weekend.

The highlight of the Wayne Chicken Show is the National Cluck-off. In this competition, clucking contestants must be heard across the barnyard, act and sound like a chicken, and last for 15 seconds. There are age categories 13 and under AND 14 and over. Winner gets a purse of $400.

Last year's champ Del Hampton clucked on Left Jab. If you missed it on the program, you can hear it by going to the Left Jab website ( and go to audio.

Other highlights at the Wayne Chicken Show include

* Best Chicken Hat.

* Biggest, Smallest, Most Unusual Chicken Egg.

* Most Beautiful Beak Contest - Humans with a beak that even chickens would envy are encouraged to enter.

* "Best Chicken Legs"

* Best Chicken Song - Participants peck out own lyrics and cackle them to a tune - Must be family appropriate. Judged on creativity and musicianship. Age categories 13 and under AND 14 and over. Total prizes $70.

* Hard Boiled Egg Eating Contest Total prize money $400. Throw down those eggs as fast as you can.

* Chicken Shoe Chucking This is a game similar to horseshoes, but we use metal "chicken" feet.

* Egg Drop/Catch Contestants try to catch a raw egg, barehanded and dropped from a cherry picker in the sky.

For more see:
or the interview with Del Hampton at

When 14 White Sox Were (Wrongfully?) Ejected

The date was July 19, 1946. The White Sox was playing the Red Sox in Chicago. Before it was over 14 Chicago players were ejected for supposedly heckling the home plate umpire. This fact is reported in a "Today in History" entry from CP's Brodacst News.

Now almost 60 years later, The New York Times (July 6) ran a lengthy article asking "Was the [erpetrator a ventriloquits in teh stands or a rude coach in the dugout?". Folks, on the scene, now in the eighties and nineties weigh in on the version of what transpired.

Makes for interesting reading.

By chance the White Sox happen to be hosting the Red Sox this weekend in Chicago.

The U.S. Capitol Up Close

A new three part series on C-SPAN explores the history, art and architecture of the U.S. capitol building and "ventures into places where no camera crew has dared go before". First airing occurred on July 6...For more details, go

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ice Cream Sundaes from Coast to Coast

From NPR News - Morning Edition, July 4, 2006:

You can tell a little bit about what part of the country you're in by the sundaes on the menu.

In Keene, N.H., you can get a rather austere-sounding fruit-salad sundae, which is not something you can imagine ordering in, say, Texas. In Foley, Ala., there's a chocolaty-thick sundae called Lower Alabama Mud. And In Las Cruces, N.M., you can dare to order the green chile sundae: vanilla ice cream laced with spicy-sweet green chile marmalade.

Michael Turback, author of More Than a Month of Sundaes, lists 365 purveyors in all 50 states. He calls them the "cream of the crop," notable for their "versatility, creative achievement, construction technique, and respect for tradition."

List available via PDF, along with feature at:

July 5, 1946 - Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie...

On July 5, 1946, the bikini was unveiled during an outdoor fashion show at the Molitor Pool in Paris.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Honoring the Spirit of the Fourth

If one is not careful, like many things in life, July Fourth can become a caricature - just another of many rituals we engage in without thinking. Parade, Hot Dogs, fireworks. But there is more at stake here. It is a time to pause and consider how hard "freedom" and independence was to win and maintain.

In his inauguration speech of 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke of the "four freedoms":
* Freedom of speech
* Freedom of every person to worship God in his own way
* Freedom from want
* Freedom from fear (A world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor - anywhere in the world).

What does freedom mean to you these days ?
What do these "freedoms" say to you today ?
Do we practice what we preach ?
Is there an American version of freedom - is it a universal value ? Who decides ?
What shape is our democracy in today ? Is the system working for you ?

For me, as I wrestle with these questions and others, a good place to start is to actually read a source itself of these freedoms, the Declaration of Indepedence:

*** IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton


For those who do not want to take the time to read or who want to hear the reading in someone else's voice:

Morning Edition, July 4, 1997 - The Independence of the nation is Declared by the voices of N-P-R.

We remember many events and acts of heroism, famousanonymousnmous. I am inspired by "The Greatest Generation" - those who endured first The Depression abd then The War (WWII). Here is a war sampling from that period:

* Remembering Independence Day During WW II: 61 Years Ago Today (2003 entry)
July 4, 1942 -

* How Americans see Americans - USA TODAY Asked various people from across the country what it means to them to be an American in 2006
* How did you do the other day on the "Things Canadian" quiz ? Well, here is your chance to show what you know about the good ole US of A at this quiz:

Finally, I am a fan of the late Charles Kuralt (who coinidentally died on the Fourth of July , 1997). He did a wonderful presentation of events on and around July 4, 1776 from Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It may be found on video at "On The Road with Charles Kuralt - The American Heritage"

At the U.S.-Canada Border, No Talk of Fences

From The Washington Post:

Collaboration to Enforce Law

By John Pomfret
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 2, 2006; Page A03

Along the border in Texas, local police departments have claimed to see Mexican army troops protecting drug smugglers, a claim the Mexicans deny. Corruption has been common among some Mexican police. The United States has constructed walls and fences and stationed National Guard troops along the border to keep out illegal immigrants.

Along the Canadian border, there are no plans for fences, and efforts focus on smuggling and terrorism. U.S. and Canadian authorities are patrolling together on the Great Lakes and have plans to operate a joint radio network.

July Fourth: A Time when "Red" and "Blue" almost manage to come together for the Red, White & Blue

As heard on the radio:


There are those (i.e.politicians, some in the media) who try to paint the U.S. as a place that is unified (or should be) in its outlook and perspective. Fact is rarely are we uniform or unified. However, for one day a year one starts to feel taht perhaps we might be more unified than we might otherwise think - that day: July Fourth.

Independence Day is a day of diverse celebrations throughout the land. But it is truly a day where be you in a "red" state or a "blue" state, you might actually feel some connection to those on the other side of the now large political divide. It really is a day of red, white and blue.


Though the Fourth of July is almost iconic to Americans, some claim the date itself is somewhat arbitrary. New Englanders had been fighting Britain since April 1775. The first motion in the Continental Congress for independence was made on June 8. After hard debate, the Congress voted unanimously (12-0), but secretly, for independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain on July 2 (see Lee Resolution). The Congress reworked the text of the Declaration until a little after eleven o'clock, July 4th, when thirteen colonies voted for adoption and released an unsigned copy to the printers. (New York abstained from both votes.) Philadelphia celebrated the Declaration with public readings and bonfires on July 8. Not until August 2 would a fair printing be signed by the members of the Congress, but even that was kept secret to protect the members from British reprisal.

John Adams, credited by Thomas Jefferson as the unofficial, tireless whip of the independence-minded, wrote his wife Abigail on July 3:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

Adams was off by two days, however. Certainly, the vote on July 2 was the decisive act. But July 4 is the date on the Declaration itself. Jefferson's stirring prose, as edited by the Congress, was first adopted by the vote of the 4th. It was also the first day Philadelphians heard the official news of independence from the Continental Congress, as opposed to rumors in the street about secret votes.


"The Big Ones":
* Washington, DC: Parade down Constitution Avenue, "A Capitol Fourth" concert with the National Symphony, large fireworks display over the Mall and a Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the Mall.
* Boston: Turnaround of the U.S.S. Constitution, Chowderfest, and free concert along the Charles River by the Boston Pops highlighted by 1812 Overture, Stars & Stripes and fireworks.
* Mount Rushmore: Fireworks display at this patriotic setting.
* New York & Chiacgo: Large fireworks show sponsored by Macys.
* New York: Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island.

Some Unique happenings:
* The "Oldest Continuous Homecoming", Pekin, IN
* "The Oldest July Fourth Parade", Bristol, RI
* "Human Flag", Huntsville, AL
* Boom Box Parade (No live marching bands, Willamantic, CT
* "American Redneck Day", Centreville,MD
* World's Greatest Lizard Race; Lovington, NM
* Ducktonia 500; Sheboygan Falls, WI where they race
plastic ducks in the lagoon at Riverside Park. There is also a "Kiss
the Pig" contest.
* The Twelve Mile Lawnmower Races, Twelve Mile, IN

* And in Oatman, Arizona, they fry eggs on the sidewalk at
the annual Sidewalk Egg Frying Contest. Held at "high noon" on Old
Route 66 participants can only rely on solar heat to fry eggs on the sidewalk
during the course of 15 minutes of "cooking". There are also a variety
of "Old West" activities.

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