July Road Notes, Day 14: Drizzle and Sizzle

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July 18, 2021, Saugus- I woke, surprisingly refreshed, at the Econolodge, in Sharon, MA, this morning. With a clearer sense of location, the route was south to Red, White and Brew Coffee House, which shares a space with a local artists’ venue, called The Budding Violet, in North Smithfield, R.I.. A young Exceptional Abilities man, and his parents, are the driving force behind RWB. I first learned of this establishment in 2019, and planned to visit it last summer, but we know how things went.

The family was pleased that their shop was included on this itinerary, but I can’t envision not going there, and certainly will do so, in subsequent trips to New England. I will be more careful to make reservations at a reputable place of accommodations, next time.

Red, White and Brew Coffee House/The Budding Violet Gallery, North Smithfield, R.I.
A planter, offered by The Budding Violet
Words of Wisdom

The weather here has been rainy, over the past few days and will remain so, tomorrow, it is forecast. I should like to move some of the rain that both the Northeast and the Southwest have been receiving lately, and share it with the sizzling, burning Northwest. The heartbreak is palpable, as some are going through their third and fourth summers, in a row, of being on Ready, Set, Go status.

I will be here in Saugus, for another two days, and am pleased that Mom appears well, is asserting her independence and has adopted a “Don’t worry, be happy” outlook. Being a nonagenarian does allow for such liberties. She was the consummate social conscience for a great many years. That social conscience was transferred to me, early on, and so it continues.

July Road Notes, Day 13: Happiness Is A Cold-Water Flat

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July 17, 2021, North Smithfield, RI- My visit with Dave Glick brought a different, but equally enjoyable, cast to this stop at the family’s greenhouse. Usually, Dave is busy with the operation, whilst Beth spends time with this visitor and fills me in on the family’s doings. This time, she was out of town and Dave was host. He happily explained the next phase of the operation, which will see centralization of the currently sprawling, and outdated, series of houses. This will bring the thriving enterprise forward, for the next several generations.

The springhouse will remain, and be renovated.

Glick’s Springhouse
One of Glick’s Greenhouses

I left Dave and the crew, around 10:30, and headed, in a zig-zag manner, northward. At one point, along I-78, a semitrailer blew a gasket and sat in the right hand lane, resulting in the rest of us waiting for 45 minutes, as the blocked lane cleared, one vehicle at a time merging with those in the left lane.

I got to D’s Diner, in Wiles-Barre, in time to have Linner, around 3:30 p.m. The two servers were clearly struggling in the warmer than usual dining room. I was most concerned about my waitress, Ann, a slightly built, older woman, but she was plowing through and encouraging her much younger co-worker, who at one point seemed ready to faint. I added my own words of encouragement, bringing a smile to the young woman’s face. I like D’s, but they need to do better, by their workers.

The traffic was lighter than usual, through the Hudson Valley and Connecticut. I was surprised to see a huge amount of traffic, coming the other way, exiting New England for the weekend-or maybe just trying to beat Sunday traffic. I got to what I THOUGHT was my room for the night, Quaker Inn and Conference Center, Uxbridge, MA, around 8:30 p.m. I was immediately told by the “attendant” (who was standing around outside) that the place was closed for renovation, that the hotel booking services were flooding him with guests and that I would have to somehow find another room somewhere else.

It was dark and rainy. I was tired and in no mood to either argue or surf my phone for the Hotels.com number and my confirmation code, so I left him and his two female friends- seeing as he would not let me into the Main House, for a source of light. Remember this place: Quaker Inn and Conference Center, and be forewarned. I will get to the bottom of it, tomorrow when I arrive at my more trustworthy next venue.

Five filled-to-the-brim motels later, I came upon an Econolodge, which had two available rooms. The rub was that the water heater was out, and would not be fixed until Monday. I took one of the rooms; the couple behind me took the other. Cold water is a mere trifle; after all, there were generations of urban dwellers in North America and Europe who made do with cold water flats, in the years before, and during, World War II. People in East Asia still bathe in cold water, during the summer months-and God knows how many people, across the globe, have no running water at all.

The day ended quite well.

July Road Notes, Day 12: One Home after Another

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July 16, 2021, Oley- One of the things Penny used to say was that, wherever we went, someone would “adopt” me. This has been a nice feature of travel, all along, especially since I’ve been back on my own. Most people who befriend me in that way have been sincere. Of course, there are those with a “victim” mentality, who couple their expressions of “brotherhood” with pleas for money, but that is a story best set aside, for now.

The Village Inn, where I stayed last night, is a gem on Harrisonburg’s southern edge. A full breakfast buffet awaited, this morning. I brought my face mask, just in case, and there were gloves to use, but few people took the hint. The meal was hearty, and the grandmotherly attendant kept everyone well-supplied with coffee, tea, juice and cool water. I was barely out the door to my room by check-out time.

My downtown visit took in several areas on the Near South Side that had gone overlooked in the past-as my earlier focuses were Artful Dodger Café (now defunct) and James Madison University. The cafe’s site is now occupied by a similarly-themed Duke’s Restaurant and Bar. The place is every bit as welcoming as Artful was, and it is nice to have new friends as my northwest Virginia “anchor”.

Here are some scenes of this Harrisonburg stopover.

Harrisonburg City Hall, on the east entrance
Same building, on the south entrance
Even the local Parts Association has a festive mien!
Pendleton Community Bank has inherited quite a fortress.
Here is Duke’s, where Artful’s friendly people have been succeeded by new friendly people. It still feels like home.
As with any community, all has not been fun and games in Harrisonburg. The people here own up to the truth, though, and this dark incident in “H’burg’s” past will never be swept under the rug.

I left Harrisonburg, after getting a takeout lunch item, to be savoured at my next stop up the Spine of Virginia: Winchester. My first stop there was at a city park, to enjoy lunch in the shade.

Jim Barnett Park, Winchester, VA

Old Town Winchester is a marvel of a place, including a Pedestrian Mall along Loudoun Street. It has plenty of shops and historical markers, and a spacious Splash Pad for kids of all ages to enjoy.

This law office building is an example of mid-Nineteenth Century Winchester’s edifices.
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church added to its property, as the congregation grew. Thus, it is a “two-tone” parish.
The Handley Library affirms Winchester’s commitment to learning for all. The South has come a long way out of the darkness, and there will, in the long term, be no going back, in any real sense.
Winchester’s Civil War Museum places the full story in an institution of learning, where it belongs.
Winchester’s Rouss City Hall is named for Charles Broadway Rouss, an entrepreneur who donated half of the funds needed to build the edifice. https://www.winchesterva.gov/rouss-city-hall-history

After passing the delightful Splash Pad (not shown here, as there were several children at play in the spot), I headed out of Winchester and up through West Virginia’s “Pot Handle”, a small nub of central Maryland and across Pennsylvania, to yet another home: Glick’s Greenhouse, which is in the process of getting newer and better. More on that, in the next post.

Unicorns will always have a place in my heart, and I’m not concerned about the colours. Rainbows belong to everyone,

July Road Notes, Day 11: Alone in A Small Fort

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July 15, 2021, Harrisonburg- Every so often, I encounter a soul who tosses out a corner of the truth, even as the greater arc of history escapes him. Such was my visit to James White’s Fort, in Knoxville, this afternoon.

I bid farewell to my stalwart friends in Crossville, around 10:30 CDT, then headed to northeast Tennessee’s cultural and commercial hub, with the intent of getting Elantra serviced, though nothing is amiss with my trusted steed, at this point. A pair of slowdowns, which were mainly pre-emptive reactions by a few commercial rigs to warnings about “construction”, (there was none in progress), added nearly an hour to the fifty-minute drive. Thus, the decision was made to wait until I get to Saugus, to have the oil & lube done. Friends in Knoxville were also not available to visit, so my stop there consisted of lunch, a walk around the Court District and a visit to the above- mentioned fort.

The Court District includes, among its amenities, a fine little establishment called Yasmin’s Kitchen. It’s a Kosher Moroccan restaurant, and the “plates” are filled with delectable Mediterranean staples, sufficient for two meals. The cheerful young ladies running the place made everyone in the busy lunch crowd feel at home. Yes, that’s what cheerful people tend to do, and it was a much-needed break from the late morning’s road grind. It also saved me from a dinner stop, as plenty was left over, in the falafel plate.

The Knox County Courthouse includes a spacious yard, where a few people were whiling away their lunch hour. Here are a few scenes of the Court District.

Knox County Courthouse
Courthouse Garden
“Beloved Woman of Justice”, by Audrey Flack

The area also has a couple of churches, of architectural note.

First Baptist Church, downtown Knoxville
St. John’s Cathedral, downtown Knoxville

Then, there is this memento of the 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair (Knoxville International Energy Exposition).

Knoxville Sunsphere

Whilst looking for a Riverwalk, of sorts, I found the Holston River was fairly surrounded by private enterprise: A well-guarded Marina, a branch of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and an outfitter called Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center. Giving up, at least for now, on the riverbank hike, I spotted James White’s Fort.

The docent was chatty, if flinty-eyed, and gave me a well-practiced primer on early Knoxville. He then sent me off, on the short but jam-packed walk around the compound. It is quite similar, in terms of household goods and furniture, to other historical sites of the late Eighteenth Century, particularly those of the Appalachian frontier. Nonetheless, this is the beginning of Knoxville’s story. https://knoxheritage.org/our-work/neighborhood-tours/historic-downtown-knoxville-walking-tour/james-whites-fort/

James White’s Fort-Courtyard, Main House (left) and kitchen (right)
Outside storage, kitchen area

As an indication of my mildly fatigued state, I was puzzled by this sight. It looked, to my mind’s eye, like the cover of a land mine. I later showed the photo to the docent, whose flinty eyes just got a bit flintier. “That is an upside-down kitchen pot”, though he acknowledged the land mine cover as a possible interpretation.

Dogtrot, so named because it was a place to sit, during the Dog Days of summer.
Main kitchen
Hearth and study, Main House
Sleeping area, Main House
Salt bin, outdoor grill and secondary pantry
Loom, in artifacts building
Mr. White’s tool room (I’ll bet he wished for such relief, as the modern air conditioner shown above!)
Forge and bellows, Blacksmith Shop
Courtyard, James White’s Fort

After my walk-around, the docent asked me a rather simple question: “Since you’re from Massachusetts originally, where was the first per European settlement, in these United States?” My overloaded, foggy brain heard “Massachusetts” and replied, “Plymouth”. AAAIIT! Wrong answer! “Nope, it was Jamestown, 1607”. Turns out, though, we were both wrong, at that point. I remembered, later, about St. Augustine (1565), the real first permanent European settlement in what is now the United States. He then made other comments, that suggested he may be in for some surprises, in the months and years ahead.

No harm, no foul-and on I went on my way- up the road to this Shenandoah

July Road Notes, Day 10: Rainy Day Fun

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July 14, 2021, Crossville- After a sumptuous meal of R’s homemade pizza, and a restful night, the suggestion was made to visit Fall Creek Falls State Park, about 20 miles west of here. As state parks in Tennessee have free admission, and they are invariably filled with natural wonders, I was game.

C and I headed over, around 9:30, and found relatively few people on the trail to Fall Creek, one of two waterfalls in this park of short, but relatively challenging trails. Here are a few scenes of the main trail.

Fall Creek Falls, from overlook
Hard sandstone wall, Fall Creek Trail
Sandstone scramble, Fall Creek Trail
Fall Creek Falls, from the base of the trail
Falls emptying into Fall Creek pool
Millikan Overlook-In this area, Dr. Glenn Millikan, a professor at Vanderbilt University, fell to his death, in 1947.
Suspension Bridge, south of Piney Falls Trail. Of course, when I was on it by myself, I had to bounce on it, just a little.
Piney Falls, south of Fall Creek, is the more robust of the two waterfalls, at least right now.

It rained, off and on, while we were on the main trail, and it was rather slippery in spots. As we were coming back up from Fall Creek, we encountered at least two large groups of hikers coming down the trail. Fortunately, by the time they would have had to come back up, the sun was out again. The trooper of the day was a woman who went down and back up, in her flip flops-very gingerly and carefully. Two children wearing crocs get second and third place. I was shod in regular sneakers, and thus blended into the crowd.

July Road Notes, Day 9: Windy Road Out of Town

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July 13, 2021, Crossville, TN- Some places are easy to get in, and rather a stretch to exit. I-40, in the Memphis area is one such.

I woke fairly early, at the Super 8, near the National Museum of Metal and the Old French Fort, in Memphis’ Riverside District. Despite the rough and tumble veneer of the area, the place was actually quite safe. I had managed to get to this crowded and lively motel, last night, by taking the circuitous I-55 south-Riverside Drive detour, made necessary by the collapse of I-40’s bridge over the Mississippi River, between Memphis and West Memphis, earlier this year. The bridge is due to re-open around July 30, but here we are. The view of Old French Fort, from my balcony, was at least rather enchanting.

Old French Fort, near President’s Island, Memphis

Wanting to locate a comfortable coffee house in Memphis, to get at least a small bite of breakfast and some good java, I came upon a place listed as Bluff City Coffee and Bakery, diagonally across from the National Civil Rights Museum. It turns out to now be called Hustle & Dough– on the first floor of ARRIVE Boutique Hotel, serving Vice and Virtue Coffee. The vice is the delectable coffee-and maybe one or two of the shop’s richer pastries. The virtue is its line of teas, or so the story goes. “Hustle & Dough” is a play on the name of the 2005 film on Memphis life: Hustle and Flow.

Entrance to Hustle & Dough Coffee House/ARRIVE Hotel, Memphis

After breakfast came the fun part: Getting to I-40, headed east. It took about 45 minutes, through not-unreasonable traffic, to find an entry ramp to the eastbound 240, via U.S. Routes 78 and 72, and the business district of Memphis’ east side. The long and winding road set me eastward, finally and along with a front of storm clouds, producing a healthy amount of rain, I drove over to Wildersville, and Patty’s Southern Eatery. Ginger tried to get me to go with their mixed plate of the day which, as scrumptious as it looked, would have been much more than my capacity allowed-so Classic Southern Burger, it was. The lovely lady knew better than to even breathe the word “Cobbler”, and after a leisurely hour at Patty’s, I was headed back towards my friends’ place in this Appalachian foothills town, almost equidistant from Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga.

It is not a hard route, though, with I-840 as a wide by-pass of Nashville, or the main road through the state capital, with all of Music City’s diversions. I got in to Crossville, shot past the driveway to R and C’s place, opted not to try and turn around at a horseshoe drive, a bit further-as a sign said “No Trespassing” and the look on the face of the teenaged girl watching me underscored that warning. Rather than incur the mouthful of sass and vinegar that would surely have followed, I simply turned around in a nearby cul-de-sac. My friends, their three cats, rooster and Muscovy duck were waiting. Homemade pizza was not far behind. (I will take Miss Ginger up on the Plate of the Day, another time.)

July Road Notes, Day 8: Reconciliation

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July 12, 2021, Memphis- Over the years, I’ve been in places which have shaken my conscience and sense of justice: Wounded Knee, Silver Creek, Bosque Redondo, the Holocaust Museum of Jerusalem, Donjon de Jeanne d’Arc, the Concentration Camp at Berga. This morning’s visit to Greenwood District, on Tulsa’s North Side, had a very similar effect.

I began the morning in the Cathedral District, on the south side of Tulsa’s downtown. It is majestic, in a physical sense, with spires abounding-and not so much competing, as complementing one another. I present a few of these:

First United Methodist Church, Tulsa
Holy Family Cathedral, Tulsa
First Presbyterian Church, Tulsa
No spires, but still impressive: Church of Christ, Scientist, Tulsa

One must eat and drink, so I looked a bit, in the Cathedral District, and found this gem:

Foolish Things Coffee House!

Interior of Foolish Things Coffee House

After giving downtown its due, I headed to the sacred area that drew me to Tulsa, in the first place: Greenwood Historic District.

The signature mural of Greenwood District
Greenwood Cultural Center

The whole point of Greenwood’s emergence, in the early Twentieth Century, was to promote the very self-sufficiency, among Black Americans, that capitalists claimed to want. Yet, Oklahoma Governor Robertson, and his minions, including the commander of the Oklahoma National Guard, were complicit in the plan to put an end to “Black Wall Street”. All they needed was a spark. On May 31, 1921, it was reported that a black shoe shine man had brushed up against a white elevator operator, leading to allegations of attempted rape. Further, the founder of the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce, seeing a chance to destroy his competition, accused the Mann Brothers, who operated a highly successful grocery store, of fomenting a riot, when a group of black businessmen went to the Courthouse, to seek the shoe shine man’s release. The allegations of D.W. Gurley led to a white mob’s attack on black-owned businesses. These allegations were later shown to be false, and Gurley fled to California. Ironically, the Mann family had come to Greenwood from Sherman, Texas, which later itself endured an assault on black-owned businesses. National Guard General Charles Barrett, as well as the editor-in-chief of the Tulsa Tribune, stoked white anger from behind the scenes. It is not verified, but there is circumstantial evidence that Barrett gave the go-ahead for the use of airplanes, which did fire on blacks who were trying to flee Greenwood.

Scene of Greenwood destruction, June 1, 1921

Dozens of Greenwood residents were killed, and most of the rest were rendered homeless, by the destruction. The bottom line, though, in all this is: Greenwood is coming back. The block which earned the title Black Wall Street is small, but vibrant.

Fountain, on grounds of Greenwood Cultural Center

The Vernon African Methodist Evangelical Church was a key gathering place in Greenwood, and is so again.

Mural, on south wall of Greenwood Open Air gathering space

Wanda J’s Restaurant is also a gathering place for the Greenwood community. It was closed for renovation today, but the sign says it’ll reopen tomorrow.

Mural on berm of overpass, Greenwood District

After walking around Greenwood District, I paused to watch several children who had climbed up the overpass berm, and were now helping each other down, flip-flops and all, under their father’s watchful eyes. When the kids had descended, I noted this mural, of jazz musicians.

Tulsa, and Greenwood, are still here and the city is making amends. Reparations for the families of the victims are actually being discussed. Reconciliation Park, and Street, are set aside, to remind everyone that, when one group prospers, all may prosper.

July Road Notes, Day 7

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July 11, 20201, Tulsa- All good things come to a pause, to be continued later. After a leisurely breakfast and final survey of my items, I bid farewell to son and daughter-in-law, with the common knowledge that we are always welcome in one another’s homes-as it should be with family.

My first stop, north of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, was in the city of Sherman, southern gateway to the Lake Texoma area. Sherman is important to me for two reasons: A riot of white tenant farmers and townspeople occurred on May 9, 1930-in reaction to a black labourer’s having attacked and raped the white wife of a man who owed him money. The labourer, one George Hughes, freely admitted his misdeeds and was initially subjected to due process of law. A mob soon gathered, and succeeded in breaching the Grayson County Courthouse, chasing everyone except Hughes out of the building and cutting into a vault, in which he was hiding, then killing the man and treating his corpse atrociously. https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/sherman-riot-of-1930

This occurred nine years after the Greenwood Massacre that took place in Tulsa (1921), and the Sherman rioters took a page from those in Tulsa, and burned the business district in Sherman’s Black neighbourhood to the ground. The Sherman case, however exacerbated by conditions resulting from the Great Depression, stained the good name of the town for several years. To be fair, it was only one of nearly two dozen such riots, in every part of the country-not just in the South. Modern Sherman has largely moved past the nightmare, but there are remnants of the past two centuries, including the Confederate Monument outside the present Grayson County Courthouse. My personal hope is that such monuments serve as reminders of where we went wrong, as a people, and that no person, of any racial or ethnic group, ever again seeks to circumvent the law-even in, or especially in, cases of personal injustice. Vengeance always claims a great deal of innocent lives.

Grayson County Courthouse, Sherman, TX

The second reason for my stopping in Sherman was that, ten years ago, a young woman from the town had moved to Prescott, and became a friend-whom I advised on several occasions, whilst she worked as a server in a couple of area restaurants. With encouragement from me and others, she moved to Tempe and entered Arizona State University. I have lost contact with Summer, but have never forgotten her gentle spirit and determined drive. In her honour, I stopped in for lunch, at Old Iron Post, which appears to be Sherman’s answer to Raven Cafe. The ambiance, and the fare, did not disappoint,

Old Iron Post Restaurant and Bar, Sherman, TX

There was one more stop for me, before leaving Texas: The Birthplace of Dwight D. Eisenhower, in Denison. The small, unassuming town, near the Oklahoma state line, helped form the character of one of America’s greatest generals, who became a fairly good president.

The building itself was closed, but as with the Birthplace of Harry S. Truman, in May, I was able to get a few photos of the exterior and the grounds.

Statue of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Denison, TX
Birthplace of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Denison, TX
Mimosa trees, Eisenhower Birthplace State Monument, Denison, TX

That was it for meandering for the day. I continued on towards this fascinating, and often troubled, industrial and commercial center of northeast Oklahoma, and locus of the Greenwood Massacre of 1921. It is to Greenwood that my own focus will be drawn, tomorrow morning.

July Road Notes, Day 6: In Good Repair

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July 10, 2021, Grapevine- Today started off undefined, which is suitable for a summer Saturday. We opted for a short walk along the paved trails of Heritage Park, in nearby Flower Mound. There were wildflowers aplenty, and a large number of families about. The water slides, practice fields and disc golf courses were very popular, as they should be. The northern suburbs of Dallas seem to take good care of their public, recreation-wise. Disc golf, for the unitiated, is a sport that involves throwing a disc at a wire basket. The rules are similar to those of golf, but it reminds me somewhat of horseshoes. It takes serious focus, in any case.

The day turned, after a fashion, towards attending to the inside of Elantra. The Galloping Gray One was looking a lot shabbier than I have cared to admit, so Aram and I set about wiping the dashboard, doors, compartments and rear ledge. The windows got treated, as well, and Son vacuumed the seats and carpeting. The day concluded with a round of online trivia games and a trip over to an East Asian shopping center, with a variety of ethnic cafes, stores and restaurants. We chose a place called Too Thai Street Eats. The food hold its own, in quality and portion size.

I am in good repair, other than the bump on my face-which has a limited time left. I did a plank for a minute, and could have gone longer-but this was a trial run. I know that some parts of this septuagenarian frame need more individual work, and will do better by them, as the year progresses.

Tomorrow, this family time will come to an end, and I will head north, to Tulsa-for an homage to those who tried to embrace the American Dream and found that those around them were far from ready to embrace them.

July Road Notes, Day 5: Radiant Energy

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July 9, 2021, Grapevine- Al-Bab, the Herald of Baha’u’llah, was executed by firing squad, in Tabriz, Iran, 131 years ago today. It took two tries, for the deed to be done-simply because it was God’s will, in my view, that the Blessed Herald complete certain business, before His time on Earth was to end. Once that business was completed, Man, in his ignorance, was permitted to have his way. The same thing was true, with regard to Jesus the Christ, to Moses, to Muhammad, to Krishna, to Gautama Siddhartha-and to Baha’u’llah Himself. Each Messenger of the Creator -and a good number of His followers, has endured indignities and suffering, at the hands of those who don’t understand the reason for His appearance.

Each time such a Messenger appears, radiant energy is set in motion. Those with eyes to see and ears to hear will pick up on this energy, and become the Messenger’s most fervent followers. Those who oppose the Messenger also sense the energy, and are alarmed at what they know is the threat to their positions, their privilege and their preconceived notions of how the world should unfold.

Nonetheless, the radiant energy will spread-and its effects have always been two-pronged. In the cases of both the crucifixion of Christ and the execution of al-Bab, there were severe earthquakes, within three days of the events. In addition, those soldiers who participated in the second firing squad, which killed al-Bab, were subjected to a terrible earthquake, within a year of His execution and 250 of them died. Later that year, the remaining 500 members of the regiment mutinied and were summarily executed by order of the Army Commander.

The positive radiant energy plays out, in both long and short-term effects. In each spiritual dispensation, advances in knowledge, in a wide variety of areas, occur at a very fast pace. We saw this in the Greek Golden Age, which followed the Dispensations of both Moses and Buddha-as did the first Golden Age in India. Pax Romana was contemporary with the Ministry of Christ. The appearance of Muhammad led to a period of High Civilization around the Mediterranean region, which later spread across western Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, in what we know as the Renaissance. Following the Declaration of al-Bab, advances in technology began to outpace all that had occurred in the previous 500 years. This has only been magnified 100-fold, since the Ministry of Baha’u’llah, though I invite each of you to investigate these matters for yourself.

The presence of radiant energy is something that bears careful watching.