4
Apr

The store that sold dreams

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Clothing and Hats

You know you’re getting old when your reproductions are old. I bought my reproduction World War II silk aviator scarf from a Banana Republic catalog in 1984, which described it as “… for those who like to have their head in the clouds.” It bears a reproduction of the Army Air Forces insignia, and wearing it transports me to another decade and another hemisphere. It looks especially dashing with my Indiana Jones fedora and leather flight jacket, which I also bought that year.
Banana Republic in the 1980s sold dreams and fantasy in the form of khaki safari and travel clothing, and being the dreaming type I readily jumped aboard. Its catalogs juxtaposed witty, whimsical writing with color paintings and drawings, enticing the customer into a world where adventure and romance lurked at the end of the tarmac. I received the catalogs for many years and often wished that a local store would open,  envisaging a shop decorated with safari gear, tents, elephant tusks and a jeep, so when Banana Republic finally opened a store in Cleveland’s Galleria I was ready to go. Read the rest of this entry »

1
Apr

“T” is for thanksgiving

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Commentary

A friend recently told me about a method she uses during those dark hours in the middle of the night when she awakes full of anxiety and phobias. I often have the same problem — I awake fretting that I’ll get in a terrible car crash the next day, or irrational fears about my health haunt me — so I paid attention when she described her method. She told me she chooses a letter of the alphabet and thinks of things starting with that letter for which she is thankful, and she quickly falls asleep. I immediately liked that idea, but I also put it to use in waking moments because, besides being a form of counting sheep, gratitude is an excellent antidote for feelings of despair and hopelessness.
I started one evening last week while sitting with my goat while he ate hay, and of course I chose “g.” First was goat — who would have guessed? Next I gave thanks for my guitars. My giving thanks, during waking moments, is more than just a list of things. I ponder good memories and the ways those things have enriched my life, and guitars have certainly done so. Read the rest of this entry »

26
Mar

Leviathan to visit Ohio

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in History

LeviathanA replica of an American-style steam locomotive will visit Ohio in April when the Leviathan comes to Wellington.
The American-type steam locomotive, also referred to as the 4-4-0 after its arrangement of four leading wheels, four driving wheels and no trailing wheels, has been called a “symphony in steam.” It dominated rail transport in the second half of the 19th century, pulling trains during the Civil War and across the continent as railroads crossed the West, building transcontinental lines that linked the country east of the Mississippi with California.
American locomotives were painted in bright colors and often sported diamond smokestacks, and they were identified by seraph-heavy Roman lettering or cursive script that complemented their graceful construction. Read the rest of this entry »

23
Mar

The value of community

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Commentary

Roseto, Pa., in 1961 caught the attention of Dr. Stewart Wolf, a professor at the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine, after he bought a summer home nearby in the Poconos. A local doctor told Wolf that heart disease was less common in Roseto — a community of Italian immigrants who recreated their Old-World village of Roseto Valfortore in the Poconos — than in the neighboring town of Bangor. Wolf studied death certificates covering a seven-year period and found the heart attack rate to be half the national average and nearly zero for men under 65. Additionally, the death rate from all causes was 30 to 35 percent lower than average.
The village was quiet during the day, when the men and women worked in the stone quarry and blouse factory and the children attended school. But in the evening people strolled along the main street and chatted with neighbors, and neighbors wandered in and out of neighbors’ kitchens to socialize. The community gathered to eat pasta, sausage and meatballs and drink wine. They attended church and celebrated holidays together. Read the rest of this entry »

10
Mar

Bluejay

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Science and Nature

IMG_0470 IMG_0472A bluejay pokes about among pine needles under a bird feeder.

10
Mar

Chesapeake

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Animals

Chesapeake the OrangeIMG_0473

10
Mar

Naturalist for a day

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Science and Nature

IMG_0315My brother Stuart called last Saturday asking if I wanted to ride with him to the Ashtabula County campground where his family stays weekends in warm weather. It may seem odd that we visited a campground in February, but his purpose was to negotiate a sale of the camper, to be replaced by a newer camper. I had planned to visit later in the day, so I adjusted my schedule a bit and left in the morning instead so I could ride with Stu. As we prepared to leave, his 8-year-old son, Britton, asked if he could go and received permission, and Britton’s presence made it a fun afternoon for me.
The campground occupies a glade along Conneaut Creek about two miles south of Lake Erie, and when we descended the narrow lane we saw great slabs of ice piled along the bank; across the creek a cliff made of earth and layered stone was partly covered with ice formations in white and blue that looked like something out of the Great White North, not northern Ohio. Read the rest of this entry »

10
Mar

Blondie record comic

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Music

Blondie Needle

10
Mar

Eddie Ballantine

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Music

IMG_0466This is an old 78 of “Banjo Blues” by Eddie Ballantine and His Banjo Band. Before the advent of 33 1/3 long-playing records, 78s were simply “records” and were not called 78s.

10
Mar

Brian’s Blog

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Music

See this link for a post by my nephew Brian that includes comments about folk-rock music:

http://brianrwhitacre.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/searching-through-the-past-for-the-unknown/