Eric on The Road

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Memory Project: Connecting veterans & Students Across Canada

In the United States they label November 11 as Veterans Day. Most everywhere else it is observed, including Canada, the day is called remembrance Day.It is a day of commemoration to commemorate the sacrifice of veterans and civilians in World War I and other wars. It is observed on November 11 to recall the end of World War I on that date in 1918.

In Canada there is a unique project that has accomplished some great work to bring generations together in an effort to keep the important history of thee past from being forgotten.

Created in 2001, The Memory Project is the Dominion Institute's flagship educational programme, designed to connect veterans and students online and in classrooms across the country. The Memory Project Speakers' Bureau includes 1,500 veteran volunteers from across Canada visiting classrooms and community groups to share their stories with youth. The veterans in The Memory Project represent a wide range of conflicts, including World War I, World War II, Korean War, Peacekeeping Operations and Canadian Forces experiences.

The Memory Project Digital Archive, an online database that houses the oral histories and artifacts of more than 350 Canadian veterans, complements the Speakers’ Bureau. To date, these veterans have reached more than 300,000 young people.

For more information, see

Bob Barker Retiring After 50 Years on TV

Bob Barker, an American Institution and one of television's pioneers, is hanging up his microphone.

The silver-haired daytime-TV icon is retiring in June, he told The Associated Press Tuesday.

"I will be 83 years old on December 12," he said, "and I've decided to retire while I'm still young."

He'll hang up his microphone after 35 years as the host of "The Price Is Right" and 50 years overall in television.

Though he has been considering retirement for "at least 10 years," Barker said he has so much fun doing the show that he hasn't been able to leave.

"I've gone on and on and on to this ancient age because I've enjoyed it," he said. "I've thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm going to miss it."

Reaching dual milestones, 50 years on television and 35 with "Price," made this an "appropriate" time to retire, Barker said. Besides, hosting the daily CBS program — in which contestants chosen from the crowd "come on down" to compete for "showcases" that include trips, appliances and new cars — is "demanding physically and mentally," he said.

"I'm just reaching the age where the constant effort to be there and do the show physically is a lot for me," he said. "I might be able to do the show another year, but better (to leave) a year too soon than a year too late."

Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corporation, said Barker has left an enduring mark on the network, calling his contribution and loyalty "immeasurable."

Barker began his national television career in 1956 as the host of "Truth or Consequences." He first appeared on "Price" on Sept. 4, 1972 and has been the face of the show ever since.

Source Material: Associated Press

Monday, October 30, 2006

Barns in Danger - Symbol of the Loss of Rural Flavor (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

Published: October 30, 2006

Once a fixture of the American landscape, old-fashioned dairy barns are fast becoming an endangered species, casualties of industrialized farming, fire and weather-related catastrophes, and exurban sprawl.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bill Geist: One-Woman Town (CBS News)

From CBS Sunday Morning/CBS News:

CBS, October 29, 2006 - Driving into the town of Monowi, Neb., the sign says the population is 2. But that turns out to be quite an exaggeration. Monowi is a one-woman town, and that woman is Elsie Eiler — the mayor, police chief, town clerk, bartender, librarian and entire business community. This Sunday Morning, Bill Geist visits this very small town and its sole resident.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Passing: Arnold "Red" Auerbach, Basketball Legend

Truly the end of an era.

The passing of Red Auerbach at the age of 89 is everything you'll read about it in the obituaries. But it also represents far more.

Born on September 20, 1917, he came from an era when basketball's ground zero was the sidewalks and settlements of New York's Lower East Side and featured such other names as Holman and Holtzman.

Known for his championship titles, his eye for talent, his innovation that include embracing the first Black players in pro-Basketball (i.e. Bill Russell), and the famous "victory cigar", Auerbach was a figure almost bigger than life.

''I never thought he'd die,'' said author John Feinstein, who last year collaborated on a book with Auerbach on the coach's reflections of more than 70 years in basketball. ''He was a unique personality, a combination of toughness and great, great caring about people. He cared about people much more than it showed in his public face, and that's why people cared about him.''

Obituary: Boston Globe: and Associated Press

Three Canadian Icons to Be Honored at McGill

Three important ambassadors of Canadian culture will be given honorary doctorate of laws degrees at McGill university's fall convocation in Montreal on November 10.

One recipient is Judith Mappin, one of the three founders of the Double Hook bookstore in westmount, which before it closed sold only Canadian books.

The second is Jean Beliveau, who legendary sports writer Red Fisher has discribed as representing words such as "Achievement. Team. Class Caring. Grace. Leadership".

Some 35 years after he retired as a player with the Montreal Canadiens, Beliveau's star remains bright. This honor shows that how revered he remains by many of us.

The third honoree that day is Governor-General Michelle Jean, a person of accomplishment whose story from Haiti to Ottawa through Montreal is one of inspiration.

Original Carvel Ice Cream Stand in Jeopardy (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

By Erin Duggan
Published: October 27, 2006

The first McDonald’s franchise is a museum in Des Plaines, Ill. The first Starbucks is still selling coffee in Seattle. But the first Carvel ice cream stand, which Tom Carvel opened here in 1936, has just been sold and will probably be torn down.

The 1.45-acre lot where the shop sits was sold by the Yonkers-based Thomas and Agnes Carvel Foundation in mid-September for $3.5 million to a group that said it intended to develop the land. The group, which includes Abdol Faghihi, who runs the Carvel, wants to build three stores on the property, and though one of them may be a Carvel, it will not be the original.

Philosopher Jacob Needleman on The Religious Roots of American Democracy (American Public Media)

From American Public Media's Speaking of Faith:

October 26, 2006
Philosopher Jacob Needleman speaks with Krista Tippett on the spiritual and moral ideals of the American founders — and how these ideals resonate in our culture today. Democracy, Needleman says, is inner work, not just a set of outward structures.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Seattle's Venerable Alaskan Way Viaduct is Focus of Effort to Balance Vehicles & Pedestrians (NY Times)

When it was built in 1953, the 2.2 mile long Alaskan Way Viaduct skirting downtown Seattle next to Elliott Bay represented the eceonomic priorities of a nation - providing drivers effcient routes from the central city to the growing suburbs.
Similar roads could be found waterside in places such as New York, Boston, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Washington and Portland.

But in the early years of the 21st century, Seattle's old wall of concrete has come to be viewed as a barrier to the citry's quality of life.

After a 2001 earthquake, a debate ensued whether and how to create a vehicular artery appropraite to the 21st century.

This debate and what it may represent for the larger society can be found in an interesting article in a special "Cars" supplement of the New York Times.

Struggling to Remain "Granite Capital of the World" (NY Times)

A New York Times articles describes how Barre, Vermont, long "The Granite Capital of the World" is trying to cope as "Headstones too Go Global, and One City Pays the Price" (article entitled Barre Journal)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bob Clarke's "Resignation" in Philadelphia

Maybe it's just another of the seemingly continuous changes in sports management - just one more entry in the 24/7 world of the business of sports.

Or just maybe the resignation of Bob (I still think of him as a toothless Bobby) Clarke is noteworthy as something more.

I'm not quite sure, but I am sure enough to post this entry.

The player Bobby Clarke was known for his tenacity and leadership. He was a player respected for what he had overcome (diabetes and initially eclipsed by more glamorous and perhaps talented players). But when his playing career ended Clarke was to be remembered among the best of them - two Stanley Cups and an inspiration to teammates. He was even respected by foes and fans of other clubs (like this Canadiens fan).

But there was another side to Clarke. For example, the players who showed little class when he viciously slashed a Soviet player in world play in the 1970's. There was the acid tongued and at times cruel manager Clarke (remember Roger Nielsen ?).

So as he leaves his beloved Flyers, we honor Clarke the player. We, however, agree, with Flyer fans who see his departure as General Manager as step in the right direction for a club that has now gone over 30 years since winning its last Cup (It seems almost like yesterday that Serge Savard presented Kate Smith a dozen roses at center ice).

As the new NHL after the lock-out these days has come to represent a more skating less goonish style, perhaps Clarke's resignation may also represent a turning of another page. Although I honestly doubt it, but perhaps the change in regime can mean an ascension for a more holistic and less ruthless approach.

At the very least it should provide some inspiration to those who subscribe that good guys do not have to finish last. For it is now clear that some ruthless guys can also finish there too.

Passing: Jane Wyatt, Mother on Father Knows Best

Another one of my Moms has passed away. Not my real one - she is fine thank you.

No, one of my TV Moms. You see, I am one of those who was weaned on the golden age of television. News, sports, variety shows, kids shows, situation comedies (not many dramas). They were all friends in our home.

And we had many friends too. Folks like Captain Kangaroo, Howdy Doody, Huntley & Brinkley, Ed Sullivan, Dinah Shore, Perry Como, Jimmy Durante, Mel Allen and my personal favorites, the Mouseketeers from the Mickey Mouse Club.

Then there were the TV families. Jane Wyatt was one of my Moms (Robert Young was a Dad). I'll tell you about some of the others some other time. Anyway, Jane Wyatt died October 20 at her home in Bel Air, California. She was 95.

Ms. Wyatt was a reluctant TV Mom. She enjoyed the role but according to the New York Times she would have preferred "playing the murderer or the heavy". She starred in many movies and television programs, mostly "the good wife of a good man" (Cary Grant and Gary Cooper, for example). Nonetheless she will be best remembered by the likes of the Times as "America's ideal suburban mom during the 1950's".

Yes - the Anderson family in a midwestern town called Springfield might have been an idealized version of family life, but I believed it served an important purpose - individually and as a society. We have come to cliche the passing of heroes ("Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio ?" sang Simon & Garfunkle). Moms and Dads were heroic and remain so.

But one must pause to contemplate whether later generations to mine are not worse off for the lack of those idealized families in their formulative years. These days and in the future where are those role models to be found - especially when so much more time is spent at outside the home "activities" or in front of a "game boy" ?

Was Jane Wyatt's family so perfect that it was imperfect ? Yes, perhaps. But perfection was not necessary - I don't think many of us "olders" are worse for wear because we embraced what some later decided was an outmoded model. And for your reluctant role in that I say thank you to Jane Wyatt, one of my TV Moms.

Jane Wyatt's obituary may be found at:

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Exhibit Explores 100 Years of Comic Book History (Newsweek)


Funny Fodder

A traveling exhibition and a handful of new anthologies all take a stab at establishing a comic canon.

Celebrating 75 Years of the George Washington Bridge

No, on a world level it might not be in the same category as the Brooklyn Bridge or the Golden Gate Bridge, but in the world of this blogger the George Washington Bridge is at the top of the chart.

It is my bridge. Depending on which direction one is travelling, it is either gateway to the city (NYC) or gateway to the mainland (a welcoming site upon return from the big city or Long Island).

October 24 marks the 75th anniversary of the opening of the bridge which connects upper Manhattan and Fort Lee, New Jersey. A special anniversary supplement in the Bergen Record puts it best "North Jersey as we know it was born on October 24, 1931. The day the bridge opened, the region was changed forever".

On a personal level, the bridge opened new possibilities for my family. A veteran of World War II, my Dad was able to seek the green and open space of Northern New Jersey thanks to convenience and affordable made available by the Bridge and GI Bill low interest loans.

My folks made the trek from the Bronx (one of 8 miles but seemingly 800) in 1951. We remain in the same town (My Mom in the same house).

Our family's story is not unique. It represents the story and dream fulfilled of thousands. Therefore, the bridge is more than a vehicular artery. It is a thoroughfare in the story of individual life stories, those of families and that of a region.

Part of that story can be found on the special supplement in The Record. It contains vintage photos and everything you ever wanted to know about the bridge.
Included are the famous picture of the Ricardos & Mertzes of "I Love Lucy" heading across the bridge as they head out for California, the story of the stone towers never built, and how a subway line was to be part of the lower level (the line was never built although the lower level was added in 1962).

An then, of course, the story of this great gray bridge would not be complete without a mention of the early 20th century lighthouse dwarfed by the New York tower - a situation that served as inspiration for the 1942 and now famous children's story,"The Little Red Lighthouse and the Gray Bridge", by Hildegarde Swift with Iluustrations by Lynd Ward (of Leonia, NJ) .

Happy Birthday GWB - and thanks for all the memories and comfort you have provided (minus, of course, the traffic jams).

For more on the George Washington Bridge 75th Anniversary, see:

Saturday, October 21, 2006

New Cape Cod Entry "Flyover" Road Makes Rotary History (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

Published: October 21, 2006

For decades, summer weekends on Cape Cod have been filled with sunblock, sand and backups that last for miles.

The source of those tie-ups, the Sagamore Rotary — a complicated traffic circle that drivers had to navigate to pass over the Sagamore Bridge and onto Cape Cod — became history on Friday, October 20 when the four-lane road that goes right to the bridge opened to traffic from all directions.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Bill Geist Drops In On The National Taxidermy Championship (CBS News)

Bill Geist on CBS Sunady Morning, October 15, 2006:

(CBS) - " Out west is where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play — except the ones stuffed and up on a wall".

"The deer and antelope are joined by creatures great and small rolling in from around the world for the National Taxidermy Championship in Billings, Mont".

".....Fans come to admire these lovelies by the thousands. Taxidermy is in, appearing in hip bars and restaurants, decorating magazines and high end stores like Bergdorf's in Manhattan. Popular TV personalities have them as accent pieces in their own homes".

"Still, a lot of people wouldn't be caught dead here. To them, there's still something a little bizarre and something a little creepy about stuffed animals and the men who mount them".

"To combat the grim image the industry exudes, taxidermists call it wildlife artistry — the animals realistic in every detail and set in natural habitats".

For more see:

Library of Congress Exhibition "Cartoon America" Opens Nov. 2

“Cartoon America: Highlights from the Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature” will open at the Library of Congress on Thursday, Nov. 2, in the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. On view through Jan. 27, 2007, the exhibition is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Saturday.

The exhibition will feature 100 masterworks of such celebrated artists as political cartoonists Thomas Nast, Rube Goldberg, Bill Mauldin and Patrick Oliphant; comic strip creators Winsor McCay, George Herriman, Chic Young, Milt Caniff, Charles Schulz and Lynn Johnston; humorous gag cartoonists Peter Arno and William Steig; caricaturists Al Hirschfeld and David Levine; animation drawings and cels from Walt Disney Productions and Hanna-Barbera; and illustrations by Edwin A. Abbey, John Held and Michael Hague.

For more information about the exhibition and related programming, see:

Banff Festivals Focus on Mountain Culture

Banff, Alberta is a truly spectacular setting. Nestled in the Canadian Rockies, it draws folks from around the world.

Appreciating that there was more there than simply scenic vistas, locals have taken to wrestling with the notion of a "sense of place" a step further.

Mountain Culture at The Banff Centre promotes understanding and appreciation of the world’s mountain places by creating opportunities for people to share — and find inspiration in — mountain experiences, ideas and challenges

Through these activities, they seek to celebrate and explore the values and accomplishments of all those who are dedicated to developing their relationship with mountain places.

The international mountain community includes all those who use, interpret, live in or are inspired by mountain places.

Vehicles for projecting understanding and appreciation include creative interpretation (e.g. film, literature and photography), provocative discussion, research and interaction with diverse mountain leaders.

Mountain culture includes natural history, human heritage, arts, philosophy, lifestyle, adventure, economics and environment.

Examples of these efforts can best be seen at two events coming up shortly. The Banff Mountain Film Festival is from October 28 to November 5 and the Banff Mountain Book Festival is from November 1 to 3.

For additional information see:

Cultural Landmarks Tied to Population Marks (NPR)

From NPR News:

All Things Considered, October 16, 2006 · A quick pop-culture survey of what was going on when the U.S. population hit 100 million in 1915, and 200 million in 1967: What were people reading? What were they listening to? What were they naming their babies? And what constituted a musical hit in those years? It's far different from today's No. 1 single in the United States.

U.S. Festivals Honor the Written Word (Washington Post)

By Elise Hartman Ford
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, October 15, 2006; Page P06

".....On Friday, Nov. 3, the little town of Camden launches the state's first literary festival, with the theme "Celebrating the Spirit of Place: The Maine Literary Tradition." The excerpt above is from an essay on autumn written by Pulitzer Prize winner and Camden resident Richard Russo, and there's plenty more where that came from. Over the course of the weekend, festival-goers will experience Maine and its literature in heady combinations as they listen to 21 authors present Maine in their own words. Russo keynotes the festival Friday night and closes the event Sunday. During breaks or in the evening, the picturesque host town of Camden awaits: mountains and sea, fine inns, good restaurants, irresistible shops.

Maine is not only the latest, it's also the last state to jump on the literary festival bandwagon. Every other state stages at least one annual festival, with Florida claiming the highest number, 15 at last count and, arguably, the most popular: the Key West Literary Seminar, whose location and stunning array of big-name panelists make it a sold-out event every January.

Anyone looking for an excuse to travel, if excuses were needed, will find it in these literature fairs. The Library of Congress, no less, is your enabler. Go to the Library of Congress's Center for the Book Web site, , click on "Festivals/ Events," and behold the variety of annual book events and locales on tap, listed alphabetically, chronologically and by state. Many entries include a link to the festival's Web site. Fancy a trip to Martha's Vineyard? Chicago? Honolulu? Would you like to: Hear cowboys recite poetry at home on the range? Celebrate the literature of Arkansas in Little Rock? Attend a symposium on John Steinbeck in Salinas, Calif.? From sprawling, convention-center-size book fairs, whose main purpose is to sell books, to intimate gatherings intended to promote a particular genre or author, multiple choices present themselves every single month....."

For the complete article and more see:

"Some are humanities-based, some more literary, some are storytelling festivals," says John Y. Cole, director of the Library of Congress's Center for the Book, as well as author coordinator for the capital's own National Book Festival, held on the Mall each September. The events offer festival-goers a chance to hobnob with favorite writers, enthuse over books, feel connected to a community of readers and writers, and enjoy the location's attractions.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Gone & Forgotten : Family-Friendly $ Hockey Night (Montreal Gazette & Team Marketing Report)

Put this in the departemnt of the forgotten. Going to a Hockey game was once affordable family entertainment. Not any more. Read this from the Montreal Gazette:

".....from Team Marketing Report which monitors ticket prices in major North American pro sports. Its fan cost index puts the cost of a family night at the Bell Centre at $377.70 (all figures in Canadian currency).

The family cost, which includes four average price tickets, four of the famed Forum hot dogs, four small soft drinks, two small draft Molsons, parking for one car, two programs and two adult-size hats, is about $5 more than the Bruins and $165 more than a similar package in Phoenix. The NHL average is $293.36...."

NHL Ticket Prices at a Glance

Cost for a family of four - in Canadian dollars - for four tickets, four hot dogs, four small soft drinks, two small draft beers, parking for one car, two programs and two adult-sized hats:

Most expensive: Canadiens, $377.70; Bruins, $372.58;

Devils, $372.46; Flyers, $369.43; Wild, $357.09.

Least expensive: Coyotes, $206.45; Sabres, $212.90; Blues, $219.83; Ducks, $239.59; Penguins, $246.62.

NHL average: $293.36

Highest average ticket price: Canucks, $67.02; Canadiens, $64.59; Bruins, $64.16; Flyers, $63.27; Devils, $62.14.

NHL average: $49.03

Team Marketing Report


Speed Limit Debate: In West Texas it's not about 55 & 65 - how about 80 ? (NYT)

From The New York Times, By THAYER EVANS
Published: October 15, 2006

On parts of Interstates 10 and 20 in Texas the speed limit is 80.

In all, it includes 521 miles of highway in parts of 10 counties, Mr. Lopez said, splitting off at the junction with Interstate 20 east of Kent and continuing toward Monahans and on Interstate 20 into Kerr County.

The limit is an ideal fit for Texas, a state that prides itself on being larger than life.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Habs fan's assets sold to pay debt (Montreal Gazette from Canadian Press)

Montreal Gazette from Canadian Press
Published: Friday, October 13, 2006

A diehard Montreal Canadiens fan has had some of his possessions seized and sold at auction to pay civil damages resulting from a fight 21 years ago with a Quebec Nordiques supporter.

A court ordered the seizure of Edgar Grenier's assets after he had paid only $3,000 of the $33,200 in civil damages he was ordered to pay the victim in 1993.

Grenier, who received no criminal penalty, ended up owing Alain Jacques $92,500 because of interest.

The battle between the sports fans erupted over an unpaid wager on Dec. 19, 1985, at the height of the rivalry between the National Hockey League teams.

Jacques sustained a fractured wrist and a dislocated elbow after he was thrown into chairs, on the ground and against a wall.

Permanent arm damage forced him to give up his work as a carpenter and become a general contractor.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A World of Difference: The Impact of Hockey on culture across the 49th Parallel

Some arrogant opinion makers in the U.S. like to think of Canada as a 51st state - another market to be tapped in this world of NAFTA and globalization.

The fact is that Canada is not the U.S. - its history, its cultures and narratives come from a very different perspective.

As a tangible example of this fact one need no go further than the role of hockey in each of the societies. this week is highlighting yet another negative story about hockey with the headline "If a Puck Drops & No One Sees It - Why American sports fans give hockey the cold shoulder".

In the meatime, a series is running in Canada on CBC & and its French-language counterpart SRC (Societe Radio Canada)called " Hockey: A People's History".

The series which started in September traces Canada's first steps on the ice - it is described as "the most comprehensive television series on Canada's game".

"Our country's history and the game of hockey are interwoven", said Executive Producer Mark Starowicz. "This series is more than just hockey; it's about how the game and our country grew up together facing similar issues at he same time, such as racism and women's rights, on and off the ice. It was important for our production team to frame the evolution of the game alongside the formation of Canada."

Filmed in high definition, the series interweaves rarely or never seen archival images and footage alng with recreations. The series follows the stories of famous figures associated with the sport and the experience of hockey through the eyes of Canadians young and old and through the decades.

Hockey: A Poeples History follows the development of the game from thw simple block of wood that served as a puck at the first organized game of ice hockey, played in Montreal in 1875, to the story of the pioneering women's pro leageue that sold out arenas during the Great War. It also profiles such moments as Canada's Centennial when the Canadiens & Leafs met for the Cup (The Leafs spoiled the Habs chance at 5 straight Cups in the 1960's - that one still smarts !), the Summit Series of 1972 (Remember Paul Henderson ?) and the 2002 Olympics - some of the events that have uniquely united a nation and come to define Canada.

Among the commentators providing perspective are Ken Dryden, Jean Beliveau, Stephen Brunt, Daniele Sauvagneau, Scotty Bowman and Dick Irvin.

As a companion to the series, is providing online trivia and facts on the television series as well as a look at the people, places and events that have shaped the story of Canada's game - this includes interview excerpts, as well as historic audio and video.

The launch of the program has coincided with the release of a companion book by Michael Mckinley, Hockey: A People's History (produced by McClelland and Stewart). Tundra is also producing a book for children called Ice Time.

For further information, see

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Red Fisher on Gary Bettman (Montreal Gazette)

From the Montreal Gazette:

One of my heroes, Red Fisher, again is telling it like it is. The 80 year old Fisher has been doing so for over 50 years covering teh hockey beat and teh Montreal Canadiens for the Montreal Star and now for the Montreal Gazette.

Speaking about an interview NHL Commissioner Gar Bettman gave to the Canadian Press, Fisher wrote as follows:

"......And then you had Gary telling reporters this on Tuesday: "The feedback we've got from all our business partners, particularly our broadcast partners both north and south, is that the product on the ice has never been better, that everything we did last season seemed to work, seemed to energize the players and the fans."

Oh, really? Better than when the Canadiens dominated in the 1950s and '70s? Better than the Islanders and Edmonton Oilers in the '80s?

Better than the Jean Beliveau/Doug Harvey/Maurice and Henri Richard/Dickie Moore/Bernie Geoffrion days? Better than the Guy Lafleur/Yvan Cournoyer/Big Three days? The Mike Bossy/Bryan Trottier/Denis Potvin days? The Wayne Gretzky/Paul Coffey/Jari Kurri days? The days any time Mario Lemieux was on the ice?

I think not.

Now I'm waiting for Gary to tell his "business partners" that broadcasts of games have "never been better."

Better than Danny Gallivan and Dick Irvin, Jr? Better than Rene Lecavalier? Better than ... aw, you know what I mean!"

For the whole piece see: RED FISHER, The Gazette; Published: Saturday, October 07, 2006;

Passing: Baseball legend Buck O'neil

From Associated Press &

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Buck O'Neil, the goodwill ambassador for the Negro Leagues who fell one vote short of the Hall of Fame, died Friday night, October 6. He was 94.

A star in the Negro Leagues who barnstormed with Satchel Paige, O'Neil later became the first black coach in the majors. Baseball was his life - in July,2006 at age 94 he batted in a minor league All-Star game.

Always projecting warmth, wit and a sunny optimism that sometimes seemed surprising for a man who lived in a climate of racial injustice for so long, O'Neil remained remarkably vigorous well into his 90s. He became as big a star as the Negro League greats whose stories he traveled the country to tell.

O'Neil had long been popular in Kansas City, but he rocketed into national stardom in 1994 when filmmaker Ken Burns featured him in his groundbreaking Public Broadcasting Service documentary "Baseball."

The rest of the country then came to appreciate the charming Negro Leagues historian as only baseball insiders had before. He may have been, as he joked, "an overnight sensation at 82," but his popularity continued to grow for the rest of his life.

Few men in any sport have witnessed the grand panoramic sweep of history that O'Neil saw and felt and experienced in baseball. A good-hitting, slick-fielding first baseman, he barnstormed with Paige in his youth, twice won a Negro Leagues batting title, then became a pennant-winning manager of the Kansas City Monarchs.

As a scout for the Chicago Cubs, he discovered and signed Hall of Famers Lou Brock and Ernie Banks.

In 1962, a tumultuous time of change in America when civil rights workers were risking their lives on the back roads of the Deep South, O'Neil broke a meaningful racial barrier when the Chicago Cubs made him the first black coach in the major leagues.

Jackie Robinson was the first black with an opportunity to make plays in the big leagues. But as bench coach, O'Neil was the first to make decisions.

He saw Babe Ruth hit home runs and Roger Clemens throw strikes. He talked hitting with Lou Gehrig and Ichiro Suzuki.

"I can't remember a time when I did not want to make my living in baseball, or a time when that wasn't what I did get to do," he said in an interview with The Associated Press in 2003. "God was very good to old Buck."

Born in 1911 in Florida, John "Buck" O'Neil began a lifetime in baseball hanging around the spring training complex of the great New York Yankee teams of the '20s. Some of the players befriended the youngster and allowed him inside.

In February 2006, it was widely thought that a special 12-person committee commissioned to render final judgments on Negro Leagues and pre-Negro league figures would make him a shoo-in for the Baseball Hall of Fame. It would be, his many fans all thought, a fitting tribute to the entire body of his life's work.

But when word came from Florida that day that 16 men and one woman had been voted in, he was not among them. For reasons never fully explained, he fell one vote short of the required three-fourths.

Friday, October 06, 2006

"Daffy Days of Brooklyn (Dodgers) Return for Vin Scully" (NYT)

From the New York Times

Published: October 5, 2006
The play, in which two

Vin Scully’s lyrical voice has belonged to Los Angeles for so long that only older fans can recall Scully’s time with the Dodgers in Brooklyn from 1950 to 1957 after growing up in the Bronx and in Washington Heights. His last known address in New York was 869 West 180th Street; he took the subway to Ebbets Field during his first Dodgers season.

This week he was back in New York calling the National League Division playoff game between teh Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Steubenville: Dean Martin Mecca (CBS News)

From CBS Sunday Morning:

Steubenville: Dean Martin Mecca - Town Revels In Being The Birthplace Of Legendary Crooner And Rat-Packer

(CBS) Steubenville, Ohio is dwindling, from losses of population, steel industry jobs, and even its title of "sin city" is gone.

But there's one thing no one can ever take away: Steubenville is — and always will be — the proud birthplace of the late, great Dean Martin, or Dino Crochetti, as he was known here. It's one thing they can and do celebrate at the annual Dean Martin festival. People come from all over the world to pay homage to the entertainment legend.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Original Thanksgiving ? It's in Canada !

The first and original Thanksgiving comes from Canada. In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Unlike the American tradition of remembering Pilgrims and settling in the New World, Canadians give thanks for a successful harvest.

The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an English explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Orient. He did not succeed but he did establish a settlement in Canada. In the year 1578, he held a formal ceremony, in what is now the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, to give thanks for surviving the long journey. This is considered the first Canadian Thanksgiving, and the first Thanksgiving to have taken place in North America. Other settlers arrived and continued these ceremonies. He was later knighted and had an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean in northern Canada named after him - Frobisher Bay.

At the same time, French settlers, having crossed the ocean and arrived in Canada with explorer Samuel de Champlain, also held huge feasts of thanks. They even formed 'The Order of Good Cheer' and gladly shared their food with their Native-Canadian neighbours.

After the Seven Year's War ended in 1763 handing over Canada to the British, the citizens of Halifax held a special day of Thanksgiving.

During the American Revolution, American refugees who remained loyal (United Empire Loyalists) to Great Britain were exiled from the United States and came to Canada. They brought the customs and practices of the American Thanksgiving to Canada. There are a few similarities between the two Thanksgivings such as the cornucopia and the pumpkin pie. But, unlike the US holiday, Thanksgiving in Canada is a much more muted event. In the USA the holiday is almost as important as Christmas for families getting together for the holiday. In Canada, this is not the case.

Eventually in 1879, the Canadian Parliament declared November 6th a day of Thanksgiving and a national holiday in Canada. Over the years many dates were used for Thanksgiving, the most popular was the 3rd Monday in October. After World War I, both Armistice Day and Thanksgiving were celebrated on the Monday of the week in which November 11th occurred. Ten years later, in 1931, the two days became separate holidays and Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day.

Finally, on January 31st, 1957, the Canadian Parliament proclaimed...

"A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed ... to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October."

The first Thanksgiving Day in Canada after Confederation was observed on April 5, 1872 to celebrate the recovery of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness. Before then, thanksgiving days were observed beginning in 1799 but did not occur every year. Starting in 1879 Thanksgiving Day was observed every year but the date was proclaimed annually and changed year to year. The theme of the Thanksgiving holiday also changed year to year to reflect an important event to be thankful for. In the early years it was for an abundant harvest and occasionally for a special anniversary. After the First World War it was for Armistice Day and more recently and including today it has been a day of general thanksgiving.

Backgrounder from wikipedia &