Eric on The Road

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

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The magic of Marceline, hometown of Walt Disney (St. Petersburg Times)

From The St. Petersburg Times via the StarTribune:

By SEAN DALY, St. Petersburg Times
Last update: July 31, 2010 - 12:41 PM

The small Missouri town stoked the imagination of the man who gave the world Mickey Mouse.

Split Rock to mark centennial of beacon lighting (StarTribune)

Via the StarTribune:

Associated Press
Last update: July 31, 2010

The towering landmark along Minnesota's North Shore of Lake Superior will light its beacon Saturday — 100 years to the day of its first beacon lighting.

Split Rock is celebrating its centennial this year with special beacon lightings and other events. The lighthouse was first lit on July 31, 1910, and stayed in service for 59 years until it was decommissioned in 1969.

The lighthouse has been restored to its 1920s appearance.

A Park Near You (Canadian Geographic)

From Canadian Geographic:

National parks and historic sites that are less than a day’s drive away from large urban centres.

Hope for America: Performers, Politics and Pop Culture

An ongoing exhibition at the Library of Congress:

Bob Hope, who entertainment historian and critic Leonard Maltin declared “may be the most popular entertainer in the history of Western civilization,” was arguably the nation’s best-loved topical humorist during the twentieth century. Hope for America draws from the personal papers, joke files, films, radio and television broadcasts, and other materials donated to the Library of Congress by Bob Hope and his family. To put the history of the involvement of entertainers in politics into perspective, the exhibition also profiles the politically oriented activities of other prominent figures represented in the Library’s vast collections.

The exhibition invites visitors to examine artifacts that represent an array of viewpoints and draw their own conclusions regarding the interplay of politics and entertainment in American public life and its consequences for the nation’s political culture.

Nunavut: Head into the Arctic easy (Globe and Mail)

From The Globe and Mail:

Iqaluit is a jumping off point for adventure-seeking tourists and climate-change voyeurs.

Podcast Posting: New York’s Last Original Beer Garden

Since 1910, Bohemian Hall has been a part of New York City history. It is the last original remaining Beer Garden in all of NYC. Bohemian Hall is run and managed by the Bohemian Citizens’ Benevolent Society of Astoria, a fraternal organization dedicated to education and preserving the Czech and Slovak communities in the area.

In this Journey into Beer, we speak with Debbie Van Cura from the Bohemian Hall Benevolent Society and a member of the Astoria (Queens) Historical Society about the historical role of beer gardens in New York and what Bohemian Hall’s legendary beer garden is all about today.


Podcast Posting: Before Disney & Ray Kroc, there was Fred Harvey

The legendary life and entrepreneurial vision of Fred Harvey helped shape American culture and history for three generations—from the 1880s all the way through World War II—and still influence our lives today in surprising and fascinating ways.

Appetite for America is the real-life story of Fred Harvey—told in depth for the first time ever—as well as the story of this country’s expansion into the Wild West of Bat Masterson and Billy the Kid, of the great days of the railroad, of a time when a deal could still be made with a handshake and the United States was still uniting. As a young immigrant, Fred Harvey worked his way up from dishwasher to household name: He was Ray Kroc before McDonald’s, J. Willard Marriott before Marriott Hotels, Howard Schultz before Starbucks. He inspired Walt Disney. His eating houses and hotels along the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad (including historic lodges still in use at the Grand Canyon) were patronized by princes, presidents, and countless ordinary travelers looking for the best cup of coffee in the country. Harvey’s staff of carefully screened single young women—the celebrated Harvey Girls—were the country’s first female workforce and became genuine Americana, even inspiring an MGM musical starring Judy Garland.

We speak with award-winning journalist Stephen Fried who has re-created the life of this unlikely American hero, the founding father of the nation’s service industry, whose remarkable family business civilized the West and introduced America to Americans.


Podcast Posting: Rochester's Subway

The Rochester Subway or Rochester Industrial and Rapid Transit Railway was an underground rapid transit line in the city of Rochester, NY from 1927 to 1956. It was a Depression generation project that rivaled the best of them. Its scope as a rapid transit system rivaled that of New York and Boston. But it did not last long. This is its story.


Podcast Posting: A July Fourth Ping Pong Ball Drop Tradition

In Inet, NY in the midst of the Adirondacks, here’s how they spend July Fourth: A seaplane drops color-coded ping pong balls onto the field at Fern Park and hundreds of children race around to collect 3 balls each, which they then exchange for prizes. We speak with Mitch Lee about the Ping Pong Ball Drop and about life in Inlet which is pretty far off the beaten path.


Podcast Posting: Roadtrips to America’s Baseball Landmarks

To some baseball is more than a game, and to these folks of importance can be shrines.

Chris Epting is one of those persons. In Roadside Baseball, he has chronicled the locations of America’s baseball landmarks – some 500 in all.

They range from some of the obvious ones like the site of th old Polo Grounds, Ebbets Field and Yankee Stadium to Doubleday Field in Cooperstown.

But there are many more – some quite obscure, but all interesting.

In this Journey into Baseball we speak with Chris Epting about his journeys and what he found.


Podcast Posting: The House That Built Ruth

A Catholic school in Baltimore that traces its roots to Yankees slugger Babe Ruth recently closed, the victim of declining enrollment and tough economic times.

Ruth spent the better part of 12 years at St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys until 1914, when he left at age 19 to sign with the Baltimore Orioles of the International League. After he joined the Yankees in 1920, he took the St. Mary’s band to major league ballparks to raise money to replace the main school building destroyed in a fire.

St. Mary’s closed in 1950, and for 48 years it has been the site of the all-boys Cardinal Gibbons School. During the Spring, the Archdiocese of Baltimore said that Gibbons and 12 other schools would close in June because of falling enrollment, rising costs and financial problems exacerbated by the recession.

The school board has resisted the decision. There were protests. There was even a radio campaign to try to save the school and the adjacent field where the Babe played as a youth..

We speak with Michael L. Gibbons, the executive director of the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum in Baltimore about what happened and what a historical loss that the demise the school and its field would mean locally and to baseball fans worldwide.


Podcast Posting: All Things Wiffle Ball

It’s old school and new school. It’ s unique and ubiquitous. It’ s yellow and white. It’ s red, white, and blue. It’s one of America s favorite brands: a classic for nearly 60 years and still a fad-proof fan favorite. The Wiffle Ball remains the great equalizer, befuddling batters of all ages. It curves, zips, and zooms with a mind of its own, turning anyone into a major league pitcher. It stands alone with its eight slots of perforated perfection, distinguished by its asymmetry and unpredictability. With millions of Wiffle bats and balls sold each year, its following is unparalleled with a devotion bordering on obsession. Just ask comedian Drew Carey s manager, Rick Messina, creator of Strawberry Field, one of the country s premier Wiffle venues. Turning his neighbor s adjoining house into a press box and locker room with stadium seats and lights, Mussina set the gold standard for the backyard Wiffle field.

In Wiffle Ball, author Michael Hermann, president of Wicked Cow Entertainment, and The Wiffle Ball Inc.’ s, brand managers, gives readers an inside look at this palatial Wiffle get-up and at the best Wiffle fields around, as well as the down-and-dirty on how in 1953 a down-on-his luck shoe polish salesman and his 13-year-old son concocted the first Wiffle Ball from spare perfume packaging, turning a plastic orb into an American icon.

In this Conversation on the Road we speak with Michael Hermann.

He explores with us The Science of Wiffle, and why a Wiffle Ball, well, wiffles.

He shows us all the how to s: how to build the best field; how to throw the best sinker ball; and how to best tape up a Wiffle Bat, and more.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Norman Rockwell's Storytelling Lessons (Smithsonian Magazine)

From Smithsonian Magazine:

George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg found inspiration for their films in the work of one of America’s most cherished illustrators

Read more:

Top 10 U.S. Boardwalks (National Geographic)

What do you think ? I would add Ocean City, NJ to the list - how about you ?

Trolley parks are a rare slice of Americana (USA Today)

From USA Today:

By Beth J. Harpaz, AP Travel Editor

Today, only 11 trolley parks remain in operation: Camden Park in Huntington, W.Va., which opened in 1903; Canobie Lake Park, in Salem, N.H., dating to 1902; Clementon Park in Clementon, N.J., which opened in 1907; Dorney Park in Allentown, Pa., 1884; Kennywood in West Mifflin, Pa., 1898; Lakemont Park in Altoona, Pa., 1894; Midway Park, in Maple Springs, N.Y., 1898; Oaks Amusement Park, in Portland, Ore., 1905; Quassy Amusement Park, in Middlebury, Conn., 1908; Seabreeze Amusement Park, in Rochester, N.Y., 1879; and Waldameer Park in Erie, Pa., 1896. (Clementon Park was not owned by a trolley company, but it was located at the end of a trolley line, and some parks were recreation areas before trolley companies bought them.)

With a couple of exceptions, most of the surviving trolley parks are smaller, more family-oriented and substantially cheaper than big modern theme parks with high-speed 20-story roller coasters. Some still let you pay by the ride, rather than charging hefty gate admissions that can add up to hundreds of dollars for a family. And many encourage visitors to bring picnics rather than banning outside food like some big parks do.

For more click here,

Passing: Ralph Houk

From the New York Times:

Ralph Houk, a third-string catcher for the Yankees who went on to win three straight American League pennants and two World Series championships in his first seasons as their manager, died Wednesday at his home in Winter Haven, Fla. He was 90.

From The Detroit Press:

From The Boston Globe:

Houk, 90, had a major impact -
Former Yankees and Red Sox skipper remembered as tough, wise

Feared by the Bad, Loved by the Good (WNYC)

From WNYC'S ON The Media:

"The Adventures of Robin Hood" was the first British-produced television series that became successful in the U.S. No coincidence, then, that many of its writers were blacklisted Americans, forced to find work abroad. WNYC's Sara Fishko looks at this merry band of writers and producers.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Passing: Daniel Schorr (NPR/Washington Post)

Daniel Schorr, a longtime senior news analyst for NPR and a veteran Washington journalist who broke major stories at home and abroad during the Cold War and Watergate, has died. He was 93.

Schorr, who once described himself as a "living history book," passed away Friday morning at a Washington hospital. His family did not provide a cause of death.

From NPR:

From The Washington Post:

Once a Year, a Chance for All That History to Come Alive (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

Published: July 17, 2010

The deaths of Bob Sheppard last Sunday and George Steinbrenner on Tuesday gave Old-Timers’ Day an added depth and meaning this year — part memorial service, part family reunion.

Without the Boss, Some Lapsed Fans Rethink the Yankees (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

Published: July 16, 2010

The death of Mr. Steinbrenner on Tuesday has elicited fond remembrances and effusive tributes from Yankees fans outside the gates of the team’s stadium in the Bronx and throughout the region. The man known as the Boss was praised for bringing the struggling Yankees back to life in the 1970s and for rebuilding what has become one of the richest and most successful franchises in all of sports.

But Mr. Steinbrenner’s death has sparked more complex emotions among a smaller, less visible demographic: Yankees fans who loved the team but hated Mr. Steinbrenner. Their outrage over his braggadocio, management style and even his politics drove them away from the team, and now that he is gone, they are looking at the Yankees in a new light and considering becoming fans once more.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Passing: Bob Sheppard - Longtime Voice of the Yankee Stadium

From The New York Times:

Published: July 11, 2010

From the last days of DiMaggio through the primes of Mantle, Berra, Jackson and Jeter, Sheppard’s precise, resonant, even Olympian elocution — he was sometimes called the Voice of God — greeted Yankee fans with the words, “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Yankee Stadium.”

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

America, Illustrated (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

Published: June 29, 2010

Collectors and museumogoers embrace Norman Rockwell: Harmony and Freckles for Tough Times.

Old Movie Houses Find Audience in the Plains (NY Times)

From The New York Times:

Published: July 4, 2010

In an age of streaming videos and DVDs, the small town Main Street movie theater is thriving in North Dakota, the result of a grass-roots movement to keep storefront movie houses, with their jewel-like marquees and facades of careworn utility, at the center of community life.,%202010&st=cse