Brass graphite holder

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in History - 18th Century, Writing Materials

IMG_1026These are my reproduction graphite holders. We call the writing material in pencils lead, but it is graphite, a carbon material. I bought the pencil with graphite at both ends at Great Trail Festival near Malvern, Ohio, in 1983 or 1984 and the pencil/pen holder at Fair At New Boston in 2010. Read the rest of this entry »


Historical flag stamps

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in History


At right are postcards in the stamp series.

I have always liked historical U.S. flags; it goes along with my interest in early U.S. history. I bought these stamps when they were issued in 2000. I don’t necessarily collect stamps, but I buy historical issues relating to the time periods I like.IMG_1021


My kind of fair … New Boston

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in History - 18th Century


Envelopes bearing the 2000 historical flag stamps and postmarked at the Fair At New Boston are topped by the brass graphite holder I bought at the 2010 fair.

Chances are slim that I’ll attend the Ohio State Fair this year. Last time I attended was at age 5, and I’ve had no burning desire to return. I have nothing against the fair, and I would likely enjoy it should I return, but three things stop me: traffic, crowds and noise. I instead prefer a most different type of fair: The Fair At New Boston.
FANB recreates a market fair of the period 1790 to 1810 with music, theatrical entertainment, a traveling medicine show, an Indian encampment, military reenactors, and first-person historical personages who may include fishmongers, tavern drunks, pickpockets and fortune-tellers. You’ll needs look to the audience or perhaps food vendors, not the stage, for such characters at the state fair. FANB is set on the grounds of George Rogers Clark Park, just west of Springfield and within sight of the Shawnee town Piqua, where a battle named for the town occurred between Indians and whites. Read the rest of this entry »


Excavation at Fort Laurens

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in History - 18th Century

IMG_0939Workers have uncovered many 18th-century relics from the Revolutionary War at Fort Laurens in the last few weeks, including a knife blade, buttons, balls and “stellar” handmade nails.
“They’re awesome,” explained Jarrod Burks, Ph.D., project manager for the Fort Laurens project and director of archaeological geophysics at Ohio Valley Archaeology of Columbus.
OVA has been excavating the north wall leading east to the northeast bastion, where the Fort Laurens grounds ends at the trench of the former Ohio and Erie Canal, the canal running north and south at that spot between the fort and Interstate 77. And it’s that canal trench that defeats attempts at making a firm pronouncement on the exact site and dimensions of the fort.
Burks said the northeast bastion starts to the east, in the canal bed. “The implication is the canal workers removed the two east bastions,” he said. It may also be a bit off the site marked by the 1970s dig, which uncovered the outer ditch. Read the rest of this entry »


In the footsteps of David McKinley

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in History - 18th Century

The trench at Fort Laurens revealed dark places in the dirt marking the placement of wooden posts that formed the northern wall of the stockade, and as I studied those darker sections of earth I wondered if my ancestor helped cut the wood, dig the trench and place those posts. Later I looked at a hand-forged nail and wondered if he hammered that nail into the wood that would soon protect Pennsylvania militiamen from besieging British soldiers, Loyalists and Indian allies.
That ancestor is David McKinley, and I am related to Pres. William McKinley through him. David McKinley is my fifth great-grandfather through my maternal grandmother. My fourth great-grandmother Rachel McKinley, daughter of David, was a sister to the president’s grandfather James Stevenson McKinley; Rachel’s granddaughter Rachel Badger, my great-great-grandmother, was second cousin to the president; and Pres. McKinley and I are thus second cousins four times removed. Read the rest of this entry »


Krugs with lids

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Beer

IMG_0982 Decorated, tapered steins with lids are the more common German lidded vessel, but these two mugs are examples of stoneware Krugs with lids. Their capacity is a half liter each. I saw a photo in the 1954 Encyclopedia Britannica article on Germany of men drinking beer from lidded Krugs around the time of World War I.

IMG_0984 IMG_0983 IMG_0985 IMG_0986 IMG_0980 IMG_0987 IMG_0989 IMG_0990 Read the rest of this entry »


Reforming a stall potato

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Eutzly

IMG_0680My goat started a fitness program on June 27, and he has his own personal trainer — me. Eutzly has been too heavy for many years. I estimate that if I calculated his RMI (Ruminant Mass Index) he would rank in the low end of the obese category, and he has arthritis in a back leg, likely caused by his extra weight.
Part of the problem is his pasture is too small to permit running, and I suspect that Eutzly stays in his stall to relieve pressure on his arthritic knee. He worries about the neighbors’ big lummox of a dog, and he has no other goats with which to caper. Goats are social animals — the term “gregarious” derives from the Latin word for “herd” — and Eutzly’s isolation keeps him inside. He’s a stall potato. Read the rest of this entry »


The weight of the city

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Commentary

Our nation is in grave danger, and it comes from within. It’s neither a terrorist group nor a drug gang that assaults us, but this menace portends ill tidings for our future unless we can reverse its hold on our culture.
The 2012 HBO series “The Weight of the Nation” predicted that the mounting health costs of obesity-induced illnesses threaten to undermine our economy and our national well-being as a growing number of us are growing in size as processed foods and excessive electronic entertainment threaten to turn us into the cart-riding obese characters in the movie “Wall-E.” We must act now, and we can’t wait for the federal government to fix it for us. Such major change in thought, behavior and culture requires a dedicated effort coordinated by individuals, local government, schools, health organizations and grassroots groups. Here are some of my ideas for Alliance, and I understand that they are not necessarily practical or possible in full, but I want to initiate discussions on theses subjects. Read the rest of this entry »


Learning to eat beans

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Commentary

Somewhere I read this long ago, and I forget the author’s name, but I find it absolutely true: a colorful piece of fruit, a yellow pineapple for example, or an apple hanging on a tree, sets your mouth to watering. Just reading about it can trigger the Pavlov response. Does an animal elicit such a reaction? Do you see a furry rabbit and want to chomp into it? Your instinct is to eat the fruit and pet the rabbit.
I admit that cooked meat can be mouth-watering, but in its natural form, alive and breathing, I see nothing about an animal that makes me want to eat it. Last week, for example, my cat caught a chipmunk and launched into it behind the garage, and I had no compulsion to join him, and the more I learn about nutrition, the more I believe that instinct is correct. That belief is leading me to a vegetarian diet. Read the rest of this entry »


Monday Rain

   Posted by: John G. Whitacre   in Science and Nature


Alpine Park, Plain Township, Stark County, June 16, 2014.


You can see the height of the water on the back door of our laundry room.

I arrived home Monday evening to find a bucket by the outside stairwell, and I knew what that meant. We had had a short but torrential rain that afternoon, the stairwell flooded, and water flowed in around the door. My wife’s first action — I was impressed — was to take the instruments that were sitting on the carpet in the lower level of our split-level house to the kitchen. Next she bailed water from the stairwell. Read the rest of this entry »