Eric on The Road

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

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Canada at 140

What do you know about Canada ?Hockey, beer, the Mounties. Some speaking French. What else ? Not much, eh ?

To too many of our friends "North of the Border" is nothing but a 51st state.There is more.

From time to time we will talk about the diversity and unique nature of Canada. But for now first things first.

It is Canada's birthday.Canada Day (French: Fête du Canada) is Canada's national holiday. It is a federal holiday celebrated on July 1, annually, by all provincial governments and most businesses across Canada.

Canada Day celebrates the creation of the dominion of Canada through the British North America Act on July 1, 1867, uniting three British territories — the Province of Canada (southern Ontario and southern Quebec), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick — into a federation. (See Canadian Confederation.)

The holiday itself was formally established in 1879 and was originally called Dominion Day, making reference to the term "dominion," which was first used to describe a political union within the British Empire for Canada, at a time when the British government was hesitant to adopt the name proposed by the Fathers of Confederation: Kingdom of Canada.

The name was changed to Canada Day on 27 October 1982, largely harking of the adoption of the earlier Canada Act 1982.On Dominion Day 1923, the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923 went into effect.

Until the act was repealed in 1947, many Chinese-Canadians referred to July 1 as "Humiliation Day" and refused to celebrate Canada's birthday.Quebec also has Moving Day on 1 July, due to the fact that most leases there begin and end on that day, with many people changing residences. Federalist Quebec residents who oppose the popular Sovreigntist campaign for an independent Québec joke that Moving Day is scheduled to ensure Quebecers are too busy moving house to celebrate Canada Day.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, 1 July is recognised as Memorial Day, and commemorates the Newfoundland Regiment's heavy losses during World War I, at Beaumont Hamel, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Canada Day is generally marked by patriotic celebrations. Most cities have organized celebrations, with entertainment usually having a Canadian theme, and often featuring fireworks. Canadian flags abound, and some individuals paint their faces in Canadian national colours (red and white).The celebrations in Ottawa are particularly lavish. Every Canada Day, hundreds of thousands gather on Parliament Hill to celebrate Canada's birth. Official celebrations are held throughout the national capital, including in Hull, with the main show taking place on Parliament Hill. This event is normally presided over by the Governor General, though the Queen of Canada, Queen Elizabeth II has attended Canada Day ceremonies in 1990, 1992, and 1997. Prior to this the Queen had helped celebrate Canada's 100th anniversary on July 1, 1967.

So this little lesson has been given as a public service. Now you can show off your knowledge of Canadiana with his little riddle:"Does Canada have a Fourth of July?" (Equating the expression "Fourth of July" with "Independence Day") The answer is, "Yes, only it comes on the First!"

Not Yet Legal for the Street, but a Whiz on a Tractor (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

Published: June 28, 2007

Nicole Snyder doesn't have a driver’s license, but she is in control when it comes to piloting a 7,000-horsepower jet tractor at the Dairyland Super National Truck and Tractor Pull in Tomah, Wisc.

How Borders Have Shaped American Identity (WNYC)

From The Leonard Lopate Show (WNYC):

Andrew Ellicott was a surveyor and boundary commissioner who, in the late 1700s and early 1800s, laid down many of the borders that now demarcate the United States from Canada and state from state. Andro Linklater pays tribute to Ellicott and our borders in a new book called The Fabric of America: How Our Borders and Boundaries Shaped the Country and Forged Our National Identity.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Patriotic Sites Profiled (USA Today)

From USA Today:

By Buzzy Gordon, USA TODAY

With the Fourth of July less than a week away, Clint Johnson, author of Colonial America and the AmericanRevolution: The 25 Best Sites, shares with Buzzy Gordon for USA TODAY his choices of historic places best suited for contemplating the significance of our nation's struggle for independence.

Voting begins for best restroom in country (AP)

From The Associated Press through USA Today:

Five finalists remain in the sixth annual "America's Best Restroom" contest, sponsored by Cintas, a Cincinnati-based a Cincinnati-based company that supplies and maintains corporate restrooms.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Predators Move: NHL Turns Its Back Again on Canada (National Post)

Is hockey Canada's game (I know officially it's lacrosse) ?

Perhaps, but it should not be claimed that hockey NHL style is Canada's game.

Recent events concerning the possible move of the Nashvile Predators (what were there doing there to start with ?) should dispel any illusions of the even the most dedicated fans of NHL hockey.

It's about Gary Bettman's "vision" for the game - and that is one of American netowrk TV. Forget about the fact that it appears most Americans don't care about hockey.

A good analysis of the reality of hockey in Canada in the face of the Bettman vision can be found in the National Post:

"Bettman pulling strings"
Bruce Arthur, National PostPublished: Thursday, June 28, 2007

Related article: Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie's deal to purchase the Nashville Predators of the NHL and relocate the team to Hamilton appears unlikely as the current owner prepares to announce an exclusive deal with a new bidder, the National Post has learned.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Golden age of radio? Not any more (Globe and Mail)

From The Globe and Mail:

Globe and Mail Update
June 26, 2007 at 3:14 PM EDT

Radio has gone from ‘golden age' to middle age, and it's moving east.

A survey of Canadians' radio listening habits reveals a continuing shift in habits, with teens and young adults ditching antennas for downloads as audiences across the country disappear.

The only places bucking the trend are Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, where radio listening rates have actually risen in the last year.

Also of interest in this Globe Nd Mail article is a rundown on what folks' prefrernces are in the various parts of the country:

In Nova Scotia — Canada's radio-loving province — country music is the favourite choice to fill the 20.4 hours of radio people listen to each week.

Country is also the favourite in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island.
B.C. loves gold/oldies/rock, Newfoundland and Labrador loves talk radio, and Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick are into adult contemporary.

Listening among francophone Quebeckers slipped by a full hour a week, but their anglophone counterparts tuned in to English-language radio for 20.8 hours a week, the highest level among the provinces.

Listeners in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island were a close second and third to anglophone Quebeckers as the country's biggest fans of radio.

Passing: Ralph Stayer, 92, Popularizer of Bratwurst (AP)

From The Associated Press through The New York Times:

Published: June 27, 2007

MILWAUKEE, June 26 (AP) — Ralph F. Stayer, the founder of a Wisconsin sausage company that helped popularize bratwurst in the United States, died Sunday in Florida. He was 92.

Mr. Stayer bought a butcher shop in 1945 and turned it into the million-dollar Johnsonville Sausage Company, said his son, Ralph C. Stayer, the company’s current chief executive.

Johnsonville Sausage became a multimillion-dollar business under the leadership of Mr. Stayer’s son. Its brats are sold seasonally at about 4,000 McDonald's and in 16 N.F.L. stadiums.

The sausage company is the main sponsor of Brat Fest, an annual event in Madison in which participants eat nearly 190,000 brats in four days over the Memorial Day weekend.\

2007 Smithsonian Folklife Festival Opens

You know it's July Fourth in DC when you see notices for the Smithsonian's Folklife Festival.

It's one of my favorite events. It's fun but also mind-broadening too. There are perfromers, artists, storytellers, and others sharing their cultural heritage.

Unfortunately, this is one instance where the summary does not do the event justice.
Being there is seeing and believeing.

This year's event on the National Mall highlights the culture of Virginia.

Also portrayed are cultures from abroad: Mekong River and Northern Ireland.

The event runs for the following dates:
Wed, Jun 27-Sun, Jul 1 and Wed, Jul 4-Sun, Jul 8, 11am-5:30pm, evening events 6pm

By the way, when you're done at the Festival, there's always the color and pomp of July Fourth in the Nation's Capital.

For additional information see:

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fleeing Chávez, Oil Workers Flock To Frigid Alberta (WSJ)

From The Wall Street Journal:

By Joel Millman

"The frigid Canadian province of Alberta has become one of the world's fastest growing enclaves of Venezuelans. Many of the expats, who say they were driven into exile by a hostile government, are oil-field veterans working in Canada's refineries."

Also see the accompanying video "Salsa Gets Northern Exposure":

Monday, June 25, 2007

Land of Lincoln (WNYC)

From NYC (Leonard Lopate Show):

"More than 140 years after his death, Abraham Lincoln is still a controversial figure in the U.S. Andrew Ferguson looks into how Americans remember (or don't remember) Honest Abe. Ferguson's new book is Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America".

You can hear Leonard Lopate's interview of Andrew Ferguson at:

Fabulous Fete (Montreal Gazette/Lapresse)

They came to sing, to dance, to people-watch but mostly to be inspired. With an estimated 200,000 St. Jean Baptiste revellers at Maisonneuve Park in the city's east-end last night, it wasn't hard to find some blue and white magic.

Also see photo gallery:

Free Lapresse (translated into English via Google):

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Steubenville: Dean Martin Mecca (CBS News)

Town Revels In Being The Birthplace Of Legendary Crooner And Rat-Packer

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Quebec to Open 4,000-Kilometre Bike Route (CP via Globe and Mail)

Canadian Press via The Globe and Mail:

Canadian Press
June 23, 2007

A 4,000-kilometre bicycle route through 320 Quebec municipalities is being inaugurated this summer, with officials calling the Route Verte ''the longest network of bicycle paths in the Americas.'' The route's development has taken 12 years and involved almost 1,000 organizations and businesses in collaboration with the province's Transportation Ministry. The official opening will take place Aug. 10 at some 20 locations across the province with cycling events, community celebrations and appearances by local artists and craftspeople.

Information on itineraries, accommodations, campsites and tourist attractions can be found at

Friday, June 22, 2007

Junior's big return (Fox Sports)

Fox Sports through

They were partying like it was 1999 in Seattle, as Ken Griffey Jr. made his first trip back since becoming a Red in 2000. The Mariners honored Griffey in a pregame ceremony, and the fans gave him a 3 1/2-minute standing ovation.

National Cathedral celebrates its centennial (USA Today)

From USA Today:

By Jayne Clark, USA TODAY

The Washington National Cathedral, the world's sixth-largest, this year marks 100 years since construction began.

The Cathedral in Washington, D.C., was started in 1907 and completed in 1990.

Centennial celebrations kicked off last week with the debut of the multimedia exhibit Dreamers and Believers: Cathedral Builders, which runs through November.

Events — including organ concerts, artisan demonstrations, speaker forums and more — rev into high gear Sept. 28-30 with a day-long festival Sept. 29 and other commemorations.

Passing: Bob Evans, Restauranteur With Chain Built on Sausage (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

By Angel Jennings
June 22, 2007

Bob Evans, who turned a 12-stool restaurant into a nationwide chain and food empire with the help of his homemade sausage, died yesterday, Bob Evans Farm Inc. said. He was 89.

Mr. Evans got into the sausage business after struggling to find quality sausage to feed the hungry truckers who stopped at his tiny diner in Gallipolis in southeastern Ohio.

Canaries Convene for a Singing Contest (NPR)

From NPR News:

by Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister
Day to Day, June 21, 2007

Back in the 1930s, a group of eight women in Massachusetts gathered with one goal: to create a uniquely tuneful pet canary. The result of their breeding experiments was the American Singer Canary. Recently, an annual national competition was held to name the best bird.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New Podcast Posting: Paying Homage to RC & Moon Pies

Someone mentions Southern Cuisine and you likely say BBQ. Right ?

Then, there’s grits, chittlins, Cajun Cooking and more.

But there’s a group of enthusiasts of another Southern tradition - RC Cola and Moon Pies. Some consider this the original fast food - both Moon Pies and the RC Cola provided bigger portions for less money, as a result it became a quick meal of choice by many workers.

Thousands annually gather the third weekend in June in a Tennessee community called Bell Buckle, normally population of 406. In this podcast we hear what the big deal is and how they celebrate. It can be found at our companion podcast site:

An Outsider's Look Inside Amish Community (NPR)

From NPR News:

All Things Considered, June 18, 2007 · Writer Joe Mackall gained unprecedented access to one of the most conservative Amish communities through his neighbor Samuel. In his new book, Plain Secrets, Mackall chronicles the tightly knit society of Ohio's Swartzentruber Amish.

Mackall talks to Andrea Seabrook about how he gained the trust of his Amish neighbor, how the community takes care of its own members even as it subverts their individuality, the plight of Amish women, and what it's really like to ride in a buggy.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day

This one is for anyone who misses and loves their father.

Chet Atkins - I Still Can't Say Goodbye [Live 1987]

Groucho Marx doing Harry Ruby's Father's Day (This is a production of the Old Time Radio Researchers Group located at Old Time Radio Researchers Website and the Old Time Radio Researchers Group).

Border Rules May Alter Life on Canada-Vermont Line (NPR)

From NPR News:

by Charlotte Albright

All Things Considered, June 17, 2007 · Large national issues like immigration and terrorism can often reach into the tiniest communities. That is certainly the case with towns along the Vermont/Canada border, where longstanding inter-connectedness faces new complications.

For over a century, local residents on both sides have shared a library, using back streets to get to it. The U.S. Border Patrol now wants to restrict access along those back streets. Under the proposed plan, cars would be banned in the area. And even pedestrians might have to pass through a customs barrier.
Someone going in the front door of Derby Line's Haskell Free Library and Opera House would be, as expected, standing in Derby Line, Vt. But upon crossing the building to check out a book, they would instead find themselves in Stanstead, Canada.

In the library — the only one in either town — stacks are on the Canadian side, with half the books in English, half in French for the francophones living in Stanstead.

Residents on both sides of the border say they are worried that everyday chores like those carried out at the library could get more complicated if the traffic between the two towns is more rigorously controlled.

There are also concerns about what these changes will do to cross-border social life.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

’57 Plymouth Is Unearthed, and It’s Rusty (AP)

Associated Press through The New York Times:

The so anticipated unearthing of a '57 Plymouth time capsule finally occurred on June 15 and it wasn't pretty.

The car was too badly rusted to even attempt to start it.

Friday, June 15, 2007

New Podcast Posting: Where People Celebrate the Flag By Being the Flag

To mark Flag Day, our podcast went to Huntsville, Alabama (via telephone) - where for over 40 years folks at the Whitesburg Baptist Church have been celebrating America by transforming themselves into a “Living Flag”. This flag is comprised of 100 singers surrounded by thousands of lights.

True, they do not perform this unique transformation on Flag Day (it is around July 4th), but what we felt their story was a nice way to celebrate the flag and Flag Day anyway.

You can find this and other Convresation on The Road podcasts at our companion site:

Jailhouses rock as overnight lodging (US Today)

From USA Today:

One of the most unusual trends in travel is a flurry of onetime jails reinvented as hotels. USA Today's Gene Sloan looks at four lodging options that are perfect for vacationers — naughty or not — who want to lock themselves away for a long weekend.

Retracing Kerouac's "On The Road" on its 50th anniversary (USA Today)

From US Today:

USA TODAY's Jerry Shriver reread Kerouac's "On The Road" on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its publication and then took a 1,727-mile journey trip through America's midsection. His goals: to See What's Out There and give armchair Kerouac fans an update on the state of roadside culture.

'Cream of Wheat' Man Gets Grave Marker (AP)

Associated Press through The Washington Post:

The Associated PressFriday, June 15, 2007; 4:41 AM

LESLIE, Mich. -- A man widely believed to be the model for the smiling chef on Cream of Wheat boxes finally has a grave marker bearing his name.

Frank L. White died in 1938, and until this week, his grave in Woodlawn Cemetery bore only a tiny concrete marker with no name.

On Wednesday, a granite gravestone was placed at his burial site. It bears his name and an etching taken from the man depicted on the Cream of Wheat box.

Jesse Lasorda, a family researcher from Lansing, started the campaign to put the marker and etching on White's grave.

"Everybody deserves a headstone," Lasorda told the Lansing State Journal.

The magic numbers (of witches in Salem) (Boston Globe)

Purveyors of psychic arts worry as Salem's city leaders look to expand witchery marketplace

From The Boston Globe:

By Claire Cummings, Globe Correspondent June 15, 2007

SALEM -- The resident witches want to keep Witch City their own.

The City Council unanimously passed an ordinance last night to license palm readers and fortunetellers who have been in Salem for at least a year, pass a criminal background check, and submit a résumé showing at least five years of experience.

But a group calling itself the Witches' Public Awareness League, made up of several locals who have for years offered psychic readings for a fee, said the proposal isn't enough to stop interlopers who show up during the busy Halloween season and steal their business.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Heating Up Car-becue on the Road (NPR)

From NPR News:

Day to Day, June 13, 2007 - NPR's Steven Proffitt and mid-century Americana expert Charles Phoenix are try out a classic 1950s road activity: the car-becue.

The ultimate destination of this road trip is Tulsa, Okla., where a vehicular time capsule buried 50 years ago will be unearthed. On the way, Phoenix and Proffitt take time out to cook an entire meal on the car's engine block.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Passing: Don Herbert, ‘Mr. Wizard’

I was never much into science. Hated Biology, hated Chemistry. Stars are pretty but still who knows the difference between the Big Dipper and the Milky Way ?

But somehow when Mr. Wizard came on TV I watched. I was only 3-7 years old, so today it's all but a faint and perhaps distorted memeory. Who knows what he was talking about. But he was such a nice man, and he was so into what he was doing in such a quiet way. It was nice just to be with him. He was one of my TV friends of the 1950's and 60's.

Now it's over 40 years later I read that Mr. Wizard, Don Herbert just passed away. He never did get me into science, but I now realize that he serves as one of those role models. His lesson that I retain is to act with dignity and respect towards all now matter how young or old, and to enjoy what you are doing.

To read about the life of Don Herbert see this obituary from The New York Times:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

American Food Writing (WNYC)

From The Leonard Lopate Show (WNYC):

Molly O’Neill talks to Leonard Lopate about collecting the food writing of some of America’s literary greats—like Nathanial Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and H.L. Mencken—for a new anthology.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Milestone Marks What Phillies’ Fans Already Knew (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

By Jere Longman
Published: June 12, 2007

The Phillies are 14 losses from a particular threshold of ignominy — the 10,000th defeat for a club that has won one lonely World Series title (in 1980) during its 125 years of often dreadful existence.

Destination: A 1957 Time Capsule (NPR)

From NPR News:

Day to Day, June 11, 2007

Exactly 50 years ago, citizens in Tulsa, Okla., buried a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere as a time capsule. This weekend, the time capsule will be unearthed at a ceremony. 1950s kitsch historian Charles Phoenix and Day to Day producer Steve Proffitt take a road trip from Los Angeles to Tulsa this week, stopping along the way for some bits of Americana.

N.C. BBQ joints keep the flame burning bright (USA Today)

From USA Today:

By Jayne Clark, USA TODAY

In these parts, slow-roasted pork smells of heritage, history and home. It ignites passions and sparks rivalries. And with the creation this year of a statewide barbecue trail, it's attracting tourists, too.

Garden opens as National Slavery Museum continues construction (AP)

The Associated Press through USA Today:

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Although the U.S. National Slavery Museum will not open its doors until at least next year, a garden meant to signify the struggle of slaves to be free is scheduled to open June 21.

The Spirit of Freedom Exhibit Garden has nine educational displays about abolitionists, runaways, acts of bravery and the need for endurance on the road to freedom. It also features wooden carvings from West Africa, where many of the slaves were from.

The garden is one of several outdoor activities timed to be part of this year's 400th anniversary commemoration of the founding of Jamestown, America's first permanent English settlement.

Treehouse hotel plan taking root (Montreal Gazette)

From The Montreal Gazette:

By David Johnston , The GazettePublished: Sunday, June 10, 2007

Natalie Laberge of Ste. Martine, Quebec is pursuing a plan for treehouse rental accommodation on the north face of scenic Covey Hill, two kilometres from the border, in the upper St. Lawrence Valley.

Laberge, a native of Ste. Martine, near Chteauguay, is co-founder of Arbraska Rigaud, a forest-
recreation complex that won a provincial tourism prize last year.

After discussion with legal counsel, she has decided to file an appeal with the Quebec Administrative Tribunal, asking it to overturn a decision last January by the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Qubec.

As a result of that decision, the commission refused Laberge's application for a rezoning of a tract of agricultural land that she had wanted to purchase in order to build her treehouses, in partnership with architects and construction engineers.

The land is currently being used to grow apples and blueberries. There is also an adjacent maple-syrup operation.

Laberge said treehouse guests would have the option of various spa treatments as well as U-pick blueberry and apple outings and many scenic bicycling opportunities in the region.
France, Germany, Thailand. India and Hawaii have the world's most developed treehouse hotel-suite networks. High-end treehouse construction has become very popular in recent years on the west coast of North America.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Going Underground: Toronto's Subway and Montreal's Metro (CBC)


They could zoom through underground tunnels at high speeds, transporting passengers to their destinations comfortably and efficiently. Canada's two new subways were considered marvellous feats of modern engineering in the 1950s and '60s. As the decades passed, Toronto's subway and Montreal's metro became more than just technological marvels — they were also places for people to meet, musicians to perform and artists to display their work.

The Uncertain Future of Maple Leaf Gardens (CFTO/You Tube)

From CFTO News via You Tube:

CFTO News recently did a report on Maple Leaf Gardens (former home to the Toronto Maple Leafs). They showed what the arena looks like now and the uncertainty of it's future. Loblaws bought the historic building and wants to turn it into a grocery store while many hockey fans want the Gardens' heritage preserved by keeping it a skating rink or hockey related.

A short on teh last game at Maple Leaf Gardens:

Passing: Les Schwab, Who Turned a Rundown Shop Into a Tire Chain, Dies at 89 (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

By Angel Jennings
Published: June 10, 2007

Les Schwab, a Western tire tycoon who turned a small shop he bought in 1952 into one of the most respected brands in the industry, died on May 18 in Prineville, Ore. He was 89.

From the rundown shop Mr. Schwab bought with borrowed money, he built Les Schwab Tire Centers, a chain of 410 stores throughout the West, which had $1.6 billion in sales last year.

Mr. Schwab became one of the most recognizable figures in the West, appearing with his trademark cowboy hat and folksy demeanor in nearly all of the company’s television commercials until a decade ago. He was particularly known for an annual promotion in which he gave away beef and for his intense commitment to customer service.

Cool Reception for Bible Park in Bible Belt (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

By Theo Emery
Published: June 10, 2007

A proposal for a religious theme park in a booming community in Tennessee has ignited fierce opposition.

Vermont Tries to Take Back Civil War Cannon (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

By Katie Zezima
Published: June 10, 2007

A group of Civil War re-enactors that has used the cannon for 30 years is fighting to keep the state, which owns the cannon, from taking it back.

The re-enactors say they have been good stewards of the cannon, repairing it and firing it around the state and country, and should be able to keep it. The state says the cannon is most likely unsafe for firing and wants to put it on display in the Vermont Veterans Militia Museum and Library.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

N.M. town razes 'Stonefridge' sculpture (AP)

From The Associated Press through The Boston Globe:

June 8, 2007

SANTA FE, N.M. --Goodbye, Stonefridge. Or, if you prefer, Fridgehenge.

A sculpture of more than 100 old refrigerators, stacked and arranged in a ring like England's Stonehenge, was removed by the city last week.

Strong wind had toppled much of the 80-foot-high, graffiti-covered structure, and city and state officials found that it had become a health and safety hazard.

Officials in this artists' haven had only reluctantly let Adam Horowitz create the public art work nearly a decade ago. But it had become a cult phenomenon and a tourist destination, featured on television and in print worldwide.

Passing: Edwin Traismnan, Helped Create Cheez Whiz & Perfect McDonald's Fries (NY Times/NPR)

Edwin Traisman, a food scientist who helped standardize McDonald’s French fries and develop Cheez Whiz for Kraft Foods, as well as researching the risks of E. coli bacteria, died Tuesday in Madison, Wis. He was 91 and lived in Monona, Wis.

Read this New York Times article about how he changed the world of food preparation.

Also this rememberance from NPR News:

New Life for A Landmark Department Store Organ in Philadelphia (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

There is a famous organ pipe in a Macy's in Philadelphia, a store once and most famously known as Wanamaker's.

The instrument itself started life at the St. Louis International Exposition of 1904, when the Los Angeles Art Organ Company built it along orchestral lines, rather than according to the baroque organ ideal, as Bach and Buxtehude knew it.

It was a smash hit at the fair, but bankrupted the company. Then it languished in storage until 1909, when John Wanamaker bought it for the Philadelphia store that he was planning to open two years later.

His son, Lewis Rodman Wanamaker, saw the vast, 149-foot-high Grand Court center space in the building Daniel Hudson Burnham had designed for them as the ideal place for “the finest organ in the world,” and 40,000 people and President William Howard Taft came to the dedication ceremonies on Dec. 30, 1911.

Until his death in 1928, Lewis Rodman Wanamaker oversaw successive expansions of the organ in the store’s own organ shop on the building’s roof. The changes were so extensive that the instrument’s “string” section finally had more pipes than most large organs do altogether.

Craig Whitney writes not only about the past of this organ, but also of exciting plans for the future as store, cultural and civic interests have partnered to nurture, maintain and preserve this great legacy.

Friday, June 08, 2007

New Podcast Posting: A Bubba on National Bubba Day

This new posting at our companion podcast site, Conversations on The Road:

Comedian T. Bubba Bechtol has created a holiday for Bubbas everywhere. This “Bubba #1″ as he describes himself, tells us about it and about Bubbas.

New Podcast Posting: Memorial Day Where It Started

New at our companion podcast site, Conversations on The Road, an interview we did a couple of weeks back at the time of Memorial Day:

Barbecues, a long weekend, store-wide sales, the unofficial start of summer. That’s what Memorial Day represents to many these days.

Lost in the shuffle is the actual act of remembering. Who is supposed to be recalled, and why ?
How and where did the holiday start ?

Although there are many other communities with their own claims, Waterloo is popularly considered to be the official birthplace of Memorial Day.

In this podcast we speak with Tanya Warren from the Memorial Day Museum in Waterloo (located in New York’s Finger Lakes region) about the origins of the Memorial Day we observe today.

Note from Lincoln urged pursuit of Lee (AP)

From the Associated Press through MSNBC:

WASHINGTON - The National Archives on Thursday unveiled a handwritten note by Abraham Lincoln exhorting his generals to pursue Robert E. Lee's army after the battle of Gettysburg, underscoring one of the great missed opportunities for an early end to the Civil War.

An archives Civil War specialist discovered the July 7, 1863, note three weeks ago in a batch of military papers stored among the billions of pages of historical documents at the mammoth building on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The text of Lincoln's note has been publicly known because the general to whom Lincoln addressed it telegraphed the contents verbatim to the front lines at Gettysburg. There, the Union army's leaders failed for more than a week to aggressively pursue Lee following his defeat.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Fun Retro World of Classic TV - DVD Promo Reel (You Tube) presents this DVD promo reel from THE FUN RETRO WORLD OF CLASSIC TV!(Produced by MIDNIGHT MATINEE VIDEO.)

Gathered from Television's first 25 years comes this unique collection of Classic, Rare and Unusual TV moments with your favorite stars and pop culture icons not seen in decades! Lost appearances, forgotten commercials, promos, film shorts and more!

Visit to purchase this and other classic tv retro compilations.

(Thank you to MIDNIGHT MATINEE VIDEO for the use of this promo.)

Still Fiddling In the Ozarks (CBS News via You Tube)

From CBS News (via You Tube):

A fiddle maker in the Ozark Mountains, interviewed 30 years ago by CBS' Charles Kuralt, is still carving away at her creations at the age of 90. Sharyn Alfonsi reports. (

Slave passage found under Washington’s home (AP)

From The Associated Press (via

Hidden passageway was used by George Washington's nine slaves

By Rubina Madan
Updated: 6:32 p.m. ET June 7, 2007

PHILADELPHIA - Archaeolgists unearthing the remains of George Washington's presidential home have discovered a hidden passageway used by his nine slaves, raising questions about whether the ruins should be incorporated into a new exhibit at the site.

The Cup Remains in the Sun Belt

It's now 15 years since the Stanley Cup has been won by a Canadian based team.

And over the past three years now the Cup has not been won by a franchise north of the Mason-Dixon line.

This year's recipients are the Anaheim Ducks (once called the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim), the first time the Cup has been won by a California-based team (Realizing a dream of some 40 years ago when NHL expansion teams were placed in L.A. and Oakland), and the first West Coast-based team to win it since the Victoria Cougars in 1925.

Wayne Gretzky along time ago referred to the New Jersey Devils as a "Mickey Mouse Operation". Now years later the Stanley Cup will call home the home of Disneyland.

No doubt the Ducks were a solid hockey club. It must be also said that they were helped enormously by their ability to write big checks and lure free agents Scott Niedermayer (who wanted to play with his brother) and Chris Pronger (who for a still undisclosed reason wanted to flee a true hockey hotbed in Edmonton).

NHL Comissioner Gary Bettman reveling in the Ducks win and its impact on his grand scheme to "build the sport" said to the crowd at the Cup presentation: "Sounds like hockey's doing pretty well in California don't you think?"

Notwithstanding a stop by the cup in California and Mr. Bettman's spin, the jury is still very much out for me. Sure, it all sounds good when your team has just won the Cup. But television ratings are non-existent and fan support tends to turn soft when newly found fans quickly jump off the bandwagon as mediocrity or losing re-enter the picture. The "fan base", if indeed there is one in the American south and west, is quite soft.

How bad are things ?

Pat Hickey reports in the Montreal Gazette:

"...On Saturday night, NBC was hit with a double whammy. Its 1.1 rating for Game 3 of the Anaheim-Ottawa final was the smallest audience in Stanley Cup playoff history. And Sports Business Journal reports NBC finished the night with the lowest prime-time rating in the network's history. To put things in perspective, NBC attracted 1.6 million viewers, and 1.963 million watched a B movie called Meltdown Days of Destruction on the cable Sci-Fi network.

But if you want a real chuckle, check out the ratings on Versus for the first two games. Game 1 drew 567,000 viewers at the same time 807,000 viewers were learning to Build a Better Burger on The Food Channel. Fifty-eight shows drew better than Game 1. Two nights later, 73 shows drew better than Game 2...".

But that's not all. Bettman Inc. apparently wants to expand further in the U.S. - this time to such hockey hotbeds as Kansas City (which failed with the Scouts) and Las Vegas. Owners can't get enough of those expansion fees , which don't ruan against the salary cap.

As for Canada, I suppose folks can comfort themselves with the thought that the Cup's true home remains Toronto (The Hockey Hall of Fame) and that at least half the players, management and officials still hail from Canada. Finally, notwithstanding Bettman & Company's best efforts the game's "heritage" and culture remain Canadian.

And perhaps in this drought of Cup winners (since the 1993 Canadiens) there might even be a silver lining. Maybe , just maybe there's enough guilt present this time to result in a Canadian landing (i.e. Winnipeg) for a stray franchise (Predators) when the dust settles.

As for me, what I'm going to do is grab a cold beverage (Labatt Blue) and pop in the "Too Many Men on the Ice" game video (Canadiens-Boston) of 1979 before going to sleep.

See you when the Autumn frost comes, fellow old time hockey fans.

BTW, here is this year's Stanley Cup Playoff highlight for me:

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Passing: Clete Boyer, Top Fielding 3rd Baseman on Championship Yankee Teams of the 1960's

Way back when (when I was a kid), the Yankees were my team.

That as before the Steinbrenner-era, before they tore down the real Yankee Stadium. When they had classy announcers like Mel Allen and Red Barber and when they had real team players like Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubek, John Blanchard and Clete Boyer.

Clete Boyer died Monday in Atlanta hospital at the age of 70. The cause of death was complications of a brain hemorrhage, son-in-law Todd Gladden said.

Boyer (#6) was the third baseman the champion Yankee teams of the 1960's. On a team with legendary names such as Mantle, Maris, Berra, Elston Howard, and Whitey Ford, Boyer was nonethless a presence as well.

He was as good a fielder at third as there ever was. He made an art form of diving stops and throws from his knees. He was a mainstay for Yankee infields that included Bill Skowron and Joe Pepitone at first, Bobby Richardson at second, and Tony Kubek at short.

Boyer's lone Gold Glove came in 1969 in Atlanta; he might've earned more had it not been for the peerless Brooks Robinson.

''He was in the Brooksie era. He didn't get as much attention as Brooksie,'' said Yankees manager Joe Torre, a former Boyer teammate with the Braves.

''When we played Cincinnati, he made those great plays. He threw a couple balls to me, he was on his knees. He was a hell of a glove man'', said Skowron.

On a personal note, back in the earely 1960's ballplayers made a middle class salary and most had to work winter jobs to make ends meet. They lived in middle class communities such as River Edge, my then and present home.

Clete Boyer was one of those River Edge summer residents during the baseball season ( others included Tony Kubek and Mickey Mantle). One day a shy 10 year old showed up at Boyer's door too afraid to even stammer out a polite request. But the occupant of 1 Coles Court was most gracious and accommodating. The 10 year old got the desired Clete Boyer autograph on his Yankee bat.

This former Yankee fan still has a soft spot for those old Yankees and especially the slick fielding third baseman who didn't disappoint that day.

Source material on Boyer's career: AP:

In Vermont, nascent secession movement gains traction (AP)

From The Associated Press through The Boston Globe (

By John Curran, Associated Press Writer June 3, 2007

Disillusioned by what they call an empire about to fall, a small cadre of writers and academics is plotting political strategy and planting the seeds of separatism.

Also see:

Second Vermont Republic:
Middlebury Institute:

In Tennessee, Goats Eat the ‘Vine That Ate the South’ (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

By Theo Emery
Published: June 5, 2007

Chattanooga’s goats have become the city’s weapon against kudzu, the fast-growing vine that throttles the Southern landscape.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A Coney Island park's final summer (AP)

From The Associated Press through The Boston Globe:

By Larry McShane, Associated Press June 3, 2007

NEW YORK -- On a Coney Island afternoon, as the screams echo from deep inside the haunted house and laughter rings above the thump of the bumper cars, the good times would seem destined to roll on forever at the Astroland Amusement Park.

Carol Albert knows better.

Her husband's family opened the venerable beachfront attraction in 1962, delighting generations of visitors through the years with its simple surfside charm . But the end is three months away for Astroland, which will go dark shortly after Labor Day, all the neon and the rides and the booths rolling out on a tide that will never return.

Frugal Traveler - American Road Trip (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

Matt Gross, "The Frugal Traveler" has taken off on a 12 week cross-country car trek.
He is taking destination suggestions from readers. You can make suggestions or read about what he has found along the way at:, every Wednesday.

The AP (CBS News)

From CBS Sunday Morning (CBS News):

For more than 160 years, photographers and reporters for The Associated Press have been breaking news and recording history. How the AP became what it is, a vital force in the history of our times, recently hit home with the unexpected discovery of a long forgotten archive. On this Sunday Morning feature, Charles Osgood goes deep into the Manhattan bedrock, well below the AP building in New York, to see some of that history, firsthand.

For more information:

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Boys of Spring: Legends of Canadiens Dynasty Gather to Be Honored at Cup Final (

Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, Jean-Guy Talbot, Dickie Moore, Tom Johnson and Don Marshall, gathered together in Ottawa on the eve of being honored before Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final as the remaining living members of the greatest dynasty in hockey history. The Montreal Canadiens of 1956-1960 won all those Cups because they were some of the best players to ever lace up a pair of skates. But most of them said last night the secret to their success was how much they cared about each other and enjoyed spending time with each other. covers the team of that era and how these gathering players relate to each other these many years later:

Montreal's greatest dynasty is one for the ages:

'Brothers for life' :

The significance of this group and what they have accomplished in the greater world of sports was not even lost on The New York Times (Dave Anderson "Sports of The Times" Column):

Keeping up with a great tradition (Boston Globe)

From The Boston Globe:

By Barbara Matson, Globe Staff June 1, 2007

The 1967 Boston Red Sox Impossible Dream team will be among the honorees at the New England Sports Museum.

Gluttony on the Go with a New York City Cabbie (NPR)

From NPR News:

by David Welch
Weekend Edition Saturday

From the comfort of his New York cab, David Freedenberg takes tourists on a five-borough food tour.

For the Weekend Edition feature and some of Dave's picks see:

1878 Buffalo Bill billboard restored (AP)

From The Assocaired Press (through The Boston Globe -

By Carolyn Thompson, Associated Press Writer June 2, 2007

JAMESTOWN, N.Y. --An 1878 billboard promoting a "Buffalo Bill" Cody stage show has been restored, five years after it was discovered beneath the crumbling brick facade of a former hotel.

For more on the mural see:

Friday, June 01, 2007

These Tennessee sites strike a historic chord (USA Today)

From USA Today:

Tennessee's music offerings span the spectrum from gospel to rock, Memphis to Bristol and tacky to triumphant.

Also see in USA Today: "In tune with Tennessee: Memphis, other musical magnets pump up the volume"

This Month (June, 2007) at

This month: A visit to Metropolis, and the Emerald City. Also a look at two holidays observed regionally and selectively in June, Juneteenth and Jefferson Davis Day. There's a book review about archeoligically significant Native American sites, a Watermelon barbecue recipe and some American Words. .....and more at On the Road Corner.

All at our companion site:

Couple's backyard wall riles US, Canadian officials (L.A. Times)

From The L.A. Times (through The Boston Globe -

By Tomas Alex Tizon, Los Angeles Times

BLAINE, Wash. -- The invisible line that divides Canada and the United States runs along a shallow ditch just beyond Shirley-Ann Leu's backyard -- so close she could cross the border in a single hop.

The Leus now find themselves in a legal fight against the US government, which has the support of the Canadian government. The outcome will determine whether a wall the Leu's have built will stay, which party will pay if it must be removed, and to what extent border authorities can control development on private land.

Alabama Governor Signs Slavery Apology (AP)

By The ASSOCIATED PRESS (Through The New York Times):

Published: June 1, 2007

Gov. Bob Riley signed a resolution expressing “profound regret” for Alabama’s role in slavery and apologizing for slavery’s wrongs and lingering effects. “Slavery was evil and is a part of American history,” said Mr. Riley, a Republican. “I believe all Alabamians are proud of the tremendous progress we have made and continue to make.” The Democrat-controlled Legislature approved the resolution last week.