Canton Horseshoes

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Miscellaneous

Horseshoe pitching alive and well at Canton club

Published in The Alliance Review

Pitching horseshoes may rank as one of the lesser-known sports these days, but a Canton club proves that the ancient sport still shows some life. Membership is far from its zenith in the early 20th century, but neither is the game dying off.

Ray Welsh, 75, of Louisville, president of the Canton Horseshoe Pitching Association, said the club is one of the biggest horseshoe clubs in Ohio, if not the biggest. Most clubs average 15-25 members, he said, whereas the Canton group carries up to 70 every year, that number fluctuating a bit each year. Read the rest of this entry »


My furry fedora

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Commentary, Eutzly

My column in the Oct. 24 Alliance Review

IMG_2026A couple from Damascus approached me last Saturday after I finished a music performance and asked if I was the same John Whitacre who writes for The Review, and when I answered yes they showered me with praise, saying how much they liked my column and the stories about my goat. It’s good to know my writing pleases people, and through The Scriptorium I’m paying it forward.
My inspiration to write columns came from two men whose commentaries appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal in the 1980s: Clevelander Dick Feagler, whose column ran in the ABJ Sunday magazine supplement, and Stuart Warner. I clearly remember only one Feagler column, that in which he mourned the hatless trend — this was before so-called baseball caps gained dominance, and Feagler was referring to stylish hats and caps anyway, not ball caps.
I don’t remember any specific Warner columns, just that I liked them, and that he and Feagler made me want to write columns myself, that idea back then being no more than a pipe dream. What I do remember about Warner is that in his column photo he sported a fedora much like the brown Indiana Jones hat I had recently bought at Mr. Hyde’s Leather in the Glass Tower across from Belden Village Mall. When I had my photo taken for my column, deciding on the proper cap required some consideration because, first, I have a sizable hat collection, and second, I wanted just the right look for my public print personality. Read the rest of this entry »


Bill Bryson’s “Mother Tongue”

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Language

I hadn’t planned to read another history of English. I have read two excellent books on the English language, “Our Own Words” by Mary Helen Dohan (1975) and “The Story of English” by Robert McCrum, Robert MacNeil and William Cran, the companion volume to the nine-part PBS series that aired in 1986, and I have perused many a book of wordplay, word usage and obscure words. I figured that would do just fine.
So when retired Review reporter Nancy Whitaker gave me “The Mother Tongue — English & How It Got That Way” by Bill Bryson, I enjoyed browsing it at random but had no plans to read it from start to finish. But when I kept returning to it, day after day, more than the usual browsing, I admitted a glad surrender to Mr. Bryson and started at the start. Read the rest of this entry »


Buffalo Bill Book

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Books, History - The West

IMG_1543I found this book at a historical festival recently. The title page is missing, but I deduced it was published in either 1888 or 1889. It contains biographies of Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett and Kit Carson and an autobiography of Cody.

Read the rest of this entry »


Minié balls: Not necessarily common knowledge

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in History - Civil War


A selection of Minié balls, two Civil War uniform buttons, a modern Honest Abe button, and the Stars and Bars, the first Confederate flag.

Sitting in my uncle’s backyard in Winona at our July 4 gathering of family and friends, cousin Sheila described how she found a Minié ball in her garden. “I have no idea how it got there,” she said. When her friend did not know what she meant by a Minié ball, Sheila said, “You’ve been to Gettysburg; you should know what a minié ball is.” But her friend did not.
“Sheila,” I said, “we grew up knowing about Minié balls, but I don’t think the average person knows what they are.” “You’re right; I probably teethed on them,” quipped Sheila. Read the rest of this entry »


Ken Burns and the hit of 1990

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in History - Civil War, Music

A musical lament in Ken Burns’ “The Civil War”is the closest the traditional music world has had to a top 40 hit. Fiddler Jay Ungar’s mournful, Scottish-style “Ashokan Farewell” provided a moving backdrop to the 11-episode documentary released in 1990, and its popularity led to its publication as sheet music and its performance around the country for weddings and funerals. A wealth of traditional tune books are out there, more than you would imagine, but, until “Ashokan,” a single traditional tune in sheet music existed only on the list of mythological creatures alongside the ram with the golden fleece. Read the rest of this entry »


Doomed dune

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Commentary


This stairway gives KOA kampers access to the beach and was recently inundated with sand from a storm. Barrier dunes are not meant for permanent structures.

IMG_4324We stayed on the Outer Banks a week before Hurricane Sandy obliterated the dune the NCDOT people worked so hard to remove from the highway. Read the rest of this entry »


Bodie Island Lighthouse

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Vacation 2012

IMG_4331Bodie Island lighthouse under refurbishment. Read the rest of this entry »


Waves House

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Vacation 2012


The stairs to nowhere.

IMG_4360We stayed in this house in Waves on the Outer Banks for three days. When we visited the OB in 1993 those areas filled with vacation houses were just small towns with a few businesses and old houses, separated by miles of vacant beach, dunes and road. Now only the National Seashore sections are free of construction. Read the rest of this entry »


Cape Hatteras

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Vacation 2012

IMG_4264IMG_4260        Read the rest of this entry »