Monthly Archives: October 2015

Introduction to “Ashley Wilkes”

GWTW – Good for local business and a “tourist boon for Atlanta…”  

 

I just published a collection of posts from this blog.  The title comes from the one I did on September 1, The mysterious death of Ashley Wilkes.  The sub-title:  “And other tales from the ‘Georgia Wasp.'”  Which is another way of saying that I’m a firm believer in kismet.

In one sense it means your lot in life.  (Or the alternative, your fate.)

But in another sense it means a situation “when you encounter something by chance that seems like it was meant to be.”  (Sometimes called a sign from God.  On which see Isaiah 7:11.)

That explains why – in my new book of posts – the Mid-summer Travelogs are out of order.  (Part II comes before Part I.)  There’s more on that later, but first an explanation.

I’m an artist as well as a blogger, and there’s a big art show coming up in December.  But aside from showing off my works of art – mostly oil paintings – the show also presents a chance for me to get the word out on my two blogs, including this one.

The thing is, I live in the ATL – also known as “God’s Country” – and that’s the birthplace of Gone with the Wind.  In turn, “GWTW” has been both good for local business and a “tourist boon for Atlanta.”  (See for example GWTW trail: the top 10 sights in Atlanta.)

Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind trailer cropped.jpgSo after I posted Ashley Wilkes – seen at right, as played by Leslie Howard – I sensed a definite marketing opportunity.

Like most people my age – 64 – I sat through the full 220 minutes of the film some time in the 1960s.  (At a periodic re-release in theaters.  That’s almost four hours of running time.)   And I saw it all the way through another time or two, with my parents, at home, on TV.  (Complete with what seemed to be more hours of commercials.)

Since then I’ve seen parts of GWTW dozens of times, in the process of channel surfing.  (A side note: Eugene Polley, who invented the first wireless remote control, died in 2012 at age 96.)

And finally – just last summer – I once again watched the entire movie, all the way through.  (My brother and I were traveling back from Astoria on “unfinished canoe-trip business.”)

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-363-2258-11, Flugzeug Junkers Ju 88.jpgBut it was also only then – after getting home from Astoria – that I learned about Leslie Howard dying so mysteriously.

It happened during the early years of World War II, over the Bay of Biscay off the French coast.  In June 1942, a commercial airliner carried Howard and 16 other passengers and crew from Lisbon to London.  It got shot down by eight Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 88C6 fighter aircraft, like the one above left.

You can see the full story at Mysterious death, the first chapter of this new book.  On that note, some called the shoot down an accident of war.  But others said top Nazis ordered the attack deliberately.  According to this theory, the Germans considered Howard as either a British spy, or as “Britain’s most dangerous propagandist,” or both.

Personally I found this new information fascinating, and wondered why I’d never heard it before.  (Including the part about Conchita Montenegro, seen at right.)  In turn I figured the people of Atlanta would be equally fascinated.  So, I decided to do something about it.

Thus was born The mysterious death of Ashley Wilkes (and other tales from the “Georgia Wasp”), now available in E-book and paperback.

Which brings us back to kismet

To get the book ready to publish, I had to copy-and-paste the first chapter – Mysterious Death – onto a flash drive.  But for some reason, the resulting copy-and-paste resulted in a bunch of posts being transferred.  Some 14 posts in all – including drafts – all the way down to Canoeing 12 miles offshore.  (I posted that on May 23, while I posted Ashley Wilkes on September 1st.)

But rather than get upset, I figured it was kismet.  (Either that or a sign from God)

Which means that a happy accident shaped at least the first draft of the book.  Later I did some tweaking, adding some posts, editing others and deleting some.  But basically the order of chapter-posts in the book came from that initial C&P bit of “kismet.”

There’s more on the other chapters later, but first I wanted to do another bit of homage to Harry Golden.  He’s the guy who inspired me to start this second blog.

Some years ago I bought a second-hand paperback copy of Harry’s book, Only in America.  (Not to be confused with the 2001 Brooks and Dunn song of the same name, or the 2011 “reality television series” featuring Larry the Cable Guy.)

I admired the way he wrote about topics that interested him, yet still managed to find an audience for his ramblings.  I also admired the way he wove stories that became “a wonderful look into a different time.”  And I admired the way he overcame the obstacles in his life, like serving five years in prison for mail fraud.  (See “Wasp.”)

Only in AmericaBut despite it all, Harry still liked to “accentuate the positive.”  And that alone made him both unique and well worth emulating.

I’m pretty sure he too would be fascinated by the mysterious death of Ashley Wilkes.  And I’d like to think he’d enjoy the rest of the book as well.

For example, the second chapter is “Johnny YUMA was a rebel…”  It’s about The Rebel (TV series), that ran from 1959 to 1961.  (And Harry himself was a bit of rebel.  Facing down intolerance, distrust and greed, and standing up “for the weak and downtrodden.”)  But once again there was a death under mysterious circumstances.  The series’ star – Nick Adams – died at age 36, in 1968.  (A mere seven years after the show ended.)

The third chapter is “When adultery was proof of loyalty.”  That post was inspired directly by Harry Golden, who wrote a column of the same name.  I did it as a “book review plus:”

Unfortunately, in Harry’s delightfully retro format – an old-timey newspaper or newsletter – he couldn’t use the full-color pictures, flashy graphics and built-in links that we can use in today’s blogs.  So, this bit of a book review will be more than a bit of an update. (E.A.)

Then there’s American History, “patched and piebald.”  It’s about John Adams and his more-realistic view of writing history:  “I’ll not be in the history books.  Only Franklin.  Franklin did this, and Franklin did that, and Franklin did some other damn thing.  Franklin smote the ground, and out sprang General Washington, fully grown and on his horse.”

Then come the Mid-summer travelogsPart II and Part I.  (Including the view of lower Manhattan, at right.)

Not only are Parts II and I out of order, but they’re also fashioned after John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley.  (With some key differences, like asking what Steinbeck would have to say about things like cruise control or Sirius satellite Radio.)

The next post-chapters are fairly self-explanatory:  On RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30” and “Great politicians sell hope,” which provides a much-needed bit of fresh air.

(The former is a review of John Updike’s “Rabbit” Series, along with a nice picture of Christie Brinkley illustrating “the new 60.”  The latter is a look at those dwindling-few politicians who might still believe that it’s “better to light a single candle than curse the darkness.”)

On Oscar Wilde and “gross indecencies” talks about the rise and fall of both Oscar Wilde and “computer scientist Alan Turing.”  (As told in the 2014 film, The Imitation Game.)  The lesson?  It pays to remember our past history.  Which is something Harry would believe in.

On leaving a legacy talks about something that should be near and dear to all of us aging Baby Boomers:  Putting your stamp on the future, giving some meaning to your existence, or both.  Which in a sense leads naturally to the last chapter, Was Moses the first to say “it’s only weird if it doesn’t work?”  That comes under the category Not your Daddy’s Bible.

In a sense, that last post is what life is all about.  (Mostly trying to get good stuff from God!)  But another lesson I learned from doing that post is that sports fans aren’t totally whacked:

Sports fans, for all the ribbing they take, do have some decidedly positive mental health advantages over non-fans.  Evidence cited by [Kent State University’s Shana] Wilson and her co-workers supports the idea that fans who strongly identify with a team, particularly a local one, are less lonely, feel happier, and feel better about themselves.

And speaking of positive mental health advantages…  That’s one of many things that I got – and get – from reading and re-reading Harry Golden’s old books full of columns, observations and essays.  (Books like Only in America and For 2 Cents Plain.)

One reviewer noted above said that Harry’s essays were “at once insightful, thought provoking and in some instances just plain funny.”  Another noted his special brand “of wit and whimsy, and a love of people and learning.”  A third said that Harry’s Carolina Israelite was “the most quoted newspaper of personal journalism of them all.”

In closing, someone once observed that “a man is known by his dreams.”  Assuming that is so, it is my sincere hope – and dream – that I can carry on the good work done by Harry Golden.

In the meantime:  To get an e-book, go to Amazon.com: Kindle eBooks and type in “T. D. Scribe.”  (That’s my nom de plume.)  Or type in “Ashley Wilkes.”  To order the paperback version, go to Shop Books – Lulu and do the same.  (Where the book should be the fifth one down, if you type in “T. D. Scribe,” or right on top if you type “Ashley Wilkes.”)

 

 

The upper image is courtesy of www.on.net.mk/on-info/13124/filmovi-za-povtorno, which appears to be some sort of Russian-language collection of movie reviews.  

Re: positive outlook on life and/or “accentuating the positive.”  Referring to “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive,” the 1944 song written by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

See also curveball, defined in part as a “particularly difficult issue, obstacle, or problem.”  The point being that life seems to have a habit of “throwing us curveballs.”  See also the alternate definition of dinosaur, assomeone who resists change or is old-fashioned.”

Re: “The ATL.”  The link in the text goes to the Wikipedia article on the Atlanta metropolitan areaBut “ATL” or “the ATL” is a common acronym or abbrevation for the same area, if not Atlanta proper.  (Possibly or partly based on the airport code for Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport – Wikipedia.  See ATL – Acronyms and Abbreviations – The Free Dictionary.)

The “tourist boon for Atlanta” quote is from “A Tough Little Patch of History:”  Atlanta’s Marketplace for Gone With The Wind Memory.  That was the 2007 history dissertation by Jennifer Word Dickey, presently an Assistant Professor of History at Kennesaw State University:

She has a master’s degree in heritage preservation and a Ph.D. in public history from Georgia State University.  Her research focuses on the cultural impact of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, a subject upon which Dr. Dickey has delivered public programs in the United States and in Vietnam.

Re: “periodic re-release in theaters.”  See for example ‘Jaws’ Re-Release:  Film to Hit Theaters for 40th Anniversary:  “On June 21, [2015,] nearly 500 theaters nationwide will show the thriller for its anniversary, presented by Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies and Universal Pictures.”

899931_80902243Re: “happy accident.”  Also known as Serendipity, originally a term coined by Horace Walpole in 1754 and meaning a “fortunate happenstance” or a “pleasant surprise.”  See Wikipedia, and also Embracing Creative Failure (II): Cultivating Happy Accidents.  The latter web-article discusses happy accidents in the process of creating works of art – as seen at left – and added this:

Where would we be without serendipity…  Without the “X Factor” that unexpected results bring, who knows how long it would have taken scientists to discover oxygen, electric current, photography or the vulcanization of rubber.  And who knows if such vital medical breakthroughs as the discovery of penicillin [or], the development of chemotherapy as a cancer treatment … would have happened at all.

The view of lower Manhattan is courtesy of oneworldobservatory.com/experience.

Re: “a man is known by his dreams.”  That thought was attributed to Plato, in the third paragraph down of the web article, The Dreams and their Interpretation.

The lower image was featured in Was Moses the first to say “it’s only weird if it doesn’t work?”  In turn it was courtesy of Rephidim – Wikipedia, with the caption:  “Moses holding up his arms during the Battle of Rephidim, assisted by Hur and Aaron, in John Everett Millais Victory O Lord! (1871).”

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In addition to Gone With The Wind Trail: top 10 sights in Atlanta – vis-a-vis the film being good for local business and tourism – see also Gone with The Wind| Atlanta History CenterVisit the Margaret Mitchell House | AtlantaHistory Center, and/or Gone With The Wind- Roadside Georgia.

And finally, the cover images for the e-book and paperback versions are courtesy of https://www.pinterest.com/pin/491596115547591685/, and/or vonoben.free.fr/Movies/Movies.htm, respectively.  See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_First_of_the_Few.

 

Was Moses the first to say “it’s only weird if it doesn’t work?”

Moses at the battle of Rephidim:  “If I let my arms down, the other team will win!

 

Friday, October 9, 2015 – Week 6 of the college football season started last night.

Which means that many or most fans around the country will be doing a bunch of weird rituals and/or superstitions, all to help their team win.  (Or avoid jinxing their team, thus causing it to lose.)  All of which may sound a bit weird to the more rational among us.  (Which doesn’t necessarily exclude the aforementioned college football fans.)

The thing is, this business of “helping your team win” has been around a long, long time.  (Longer even than “Touchdown Jesus,” seen at left, visible from Notre Dame stadium …)

In fact, it may all have started with Moses, back at the battle of Rephidim, noted above.  There’s more on that later, but first consider “Super”stitions: Fans engage in odd rituals:

[M]any sports enthusiasts have something they do in attempt to increase their team’s odds of winning.  It’s possible that these wacky fan behaviors are related to the superstitious actions some athletes take in attempt to improve their luck … like growing beards or eating certain foods because they think the behavior is lucky.  Adopting their own rituals is a way that fans can feel like they’re part of a team…  “It all comes down to fan identification,” [Dr. Joshua Shuart] said. “They really feel that they’re part of the team.” (E.A.)

But what’s all this about Moses being the first guy who said “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work?”

For that we have to go back to Exodus 17, about 3,500 years ago.  Like Pearl Harbor, the dreaded Amalekites launched a sneak attack on the Children of Israel, as they emerged from “the Exodus, at Rephidim near Mount Sinai.”   Verses 8 to 16 tell of Israel pulling off  an “upset of the season.”  In essence they beat a hated arch-rival, thanks to Moses:

Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.  Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Am′alek prevailed.  But Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat upon it, and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

As noted elsewhere:  “That sounds a lot like a modern-day football fan, watching his favorite team on TV.”  Sometimes he moves around the room, sometimes he stands, sometimes he sits.  Other times he’ll mute the sound on the TV, sometimes he’ll tell his wife to leave the room – because she may be jinxing his team – but he’s “always trying to ‘help his team win.’”

Or in the case of Moses, his “team” starts winning when he holds his arms up, but they start losing if he lets his arms down…

So imagine Moses – today – watching the “battle” from a stadium seat, or on his TV set at home.  For whatever reason, he holds his arms up, and his team scores a touchdown.  But then his arms get tired.  He lets his arms down for a moment and – lo and behold! – the other team scores a touchdown.   So to help his team win – or avoid “jinxing” his team – Moses got his buddies Aaron and Hur to hold his arms up “for the rest of the game.”

That makes Moses the prototype of the modern-day football fan who does all kinds of strange things to help his team win.  But here’s how one “skeptic” explained the phenomenon:

It’s a natural tendency for people to make connections between events.  “When I do this, that happens…”  Primitive people developed superstitions in similar ways.  One year, the crops were bad.  The next year, they put a basket of dead birds in the middle of the field, and everything turned out great.  Therefore, placing a basket of dead birds in the field ensures a good crop…   Like the primitive farmers, we continue to make assumptions of causation [which] leads us to think that prayer works (you pray for your sports team to win…)   [But we should] not jump to conclusions.  We should make multiple observations.  We should try different sequences in various combinations…  Even with all that, we might never be sure about the real causes.  But we can rule some out, and … increase our confidence in others.

See Faulty logic: Post hoc, ergo propter hoc « Gotham Skeptic.

On the other hand, you could just as easily say that such superstitions are a mass example of the scientific method:  “a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.”  (What fool of a college football fan would keep doing things that ‘hurt” his team?)   See also Thesis, antithesis, synthesis:

The thesis is an intellectual proposition.  The antithesis is simply the negation of the thesis, a reaction to the proposition.  The synthesis solves the conflict between the thesis and antithesis by reconciling their common truths and forming a new thesis, starting the process over.

But the bottom line is this:  “Athletes know it, fans know it, and even Bud Light knows it. Superstitions are as big a part of the game as anything.  They were there when your parents and/or grandparents first started watching, and they’ll be here long after we’re gone.”

On the other hand, there’s the “pessimist” who wrote “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work:” the NEW worst slogan in the world.  Among other things, he said in essence that such fan practices are all part of some axis of evil responsible for all the bad things that have happened in the world since Day One.  (Which brings to mind Marty McFly’s “Lighten up, jerk!”)

Then too he wrote that such fan superstition is “ignorant, embarrassing, and frankly makes me a little pessimistic about humanity.  Do you really think that wearing that unwashed jersey will help your team win?”  To which I respond:

“Hey pal, tell that to Moses!”

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The upper image is courtesy of Rephidim – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption:  “Moses holding up his arms during the Battle of Rephidim, assisted by Hur and Aaron, in John Everett MillaisVictory O Lord! (1871).”

The “Touchdown Jesus” image is courtesy of Gallery … University Of Notre Dame Touchdown Jesusimgarcade.com

Re: positive outlook on life and/or “accentuating the positive.”  Referring to “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive,” the 1944 song written by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

See also curveball, defined in part as a “particularly difficult issue, obstacle, or problem.”  The point being that life seems to have a habit of “throwing us curveballs.”  See also the alternate definition of dinosaur, assomeone who resists change or is old-fashioned.”

Another note:  The text of this post was gleaned from other posts in my first blog, Dorscribe.com, including On the readings for September 28, Reflections on a loss and “God’s Favorite Team” – Part I.

The “Touchdown Jesus” image is courtesy of Word of Life Mural // Hesburgh Libraries // University of Notre Dame.  See also Notre Dame Stadium – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The “crossed fingers” image is courtesy of  Why We’re So Superstitious | Psychology Today.  That’s actually a pretty good – and non-biased – study of the phenomenon, which included this:

Sports fans, for all the ribbing they take, do have some decidedly positive mental health advantages over non-fans.  Evidence cited by [Kent State University researcher Shana] Wilson and her co-workers supports the idea that fans who strongly identify with a team, particularly a local one, are less lonely, feel happier, and feel better about themselves.

The “SM” chart is courtesy of Scientific method – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The lower image is courtesy of www.reddit.com/r/nfl/comments/3o00dy/jeff_fisher.  See also www.packernation.com/its-only-weird-if-it-doesnt-work-of-game-day-superstitions.  That’s where the quote came from: “Athletes know it, fans know it, and even Bud Light knows it….”  

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Of related interest, see also Why Superstition Works: The Science of Superstition in Sports:

If you want to see some [sport superstitions], just go to a baseball game.  Baseball players … are renowned for their superstitious behavior.  Babe Ruth, famously, always touched second base when he came running in from the outfield…   Over the years, players’ superstitious habits have become, if anything, even more extreme.  Before each game, for instance, former Red Sox third baseman Wade Boggs … always practiced batting and wind sprints at the same time of day (5:17 p.m. and 7:17 p.m., respectively), left his house at the same time on game days, and drew the word “Chai” (Hebrew for “life”) in the dirt before coming up to bat (and Boggs isn’t Jewish).  Likewise, All-Star slugger Jason Giambi had a cure for hitting slumps: gold lamé thong underwear, which must have been quite a sight in the locker room.

So what are you saying, “Mr. Pessimist?”  That Babe Ruth and Wade Bogs are evil?  Hah? 

 

A Mid-summer Travelog – Part III

Atlantic City, seen at dusk from the balcony of the Wyndham Skyline Tower

 

This post continues Mid-summer Travelog (Part I), and Travelog – Part II.  Of course now that it’s October 2 – a full 10 weeks after that road trip ended – this third-of-four installments will be more of a remembrance.  And among other things, I’ve taken another trip since then.

In August I took a trip out west, to Utah, and from there to “the Columbia River, near Astoria, on unfinished canoe-trip business.”  (See Ashley Wilkes.)  That trip took nearly three weeks, from August 10 to the 27.  In the meantime football season is once again upon us.  Which means it’s been a busy time for me.

And it’s also a good time for reflection.

But before we continue the travelog itself, I should remember that these shouldn’t be just the boring ramblings of an aging Geezer.  That’s because:

The journey motif, where a story’s protagonist must complete a quest … is one of the oldest in storytelling.  Usually, there is a prize or reward promised, but often the true reward is different and more valuable, as the protagonist both proves and humbles himself.

See What is a journey motif?  (Emphasis added.)  So I’ll try to keep that in mind…

Anyway, in Part II I noted Steinbeck’s comment: “when I used to work in the woods it was said of lumber men that they did their logging in the whorehouse and their sex in the woods.”   Then I added my own twist:  “Which is another way of saying that it’s only now that my trip is over that I can look back and relish the memories just lived through.”  That was back on July 22, which means this Part III will be doubly reflective.

We resume this installment in Atlantic City.  And as shown in the upper image, from the top floor of the Wyndham Skyline Tower.   That was one of the most pleasant surprises of the trip.  (I’d thought my brother’s  saying “we rented a condo” would mean a quaint little three- or four-bedroom house, somewhere near the beach.)  Being able to look out on “AC” from a 32d-floor balcony – at dawn and dusk – was refreshing indeed.

The installment will end – perhaps metaphorically – at (or near) “Old Swedes” Episcopal cemetery in Swedesboro, New Jersey.  That’s where where we surviving three brothers – along with a niece and matriarchal aunt – laid our father’s ashes to rest.

(As noted in Part I, that memorial lent “a certain gravitas to the whole ‘joint venture.'”)

1962 first edition coverAlso in Part I, I told of trying to fashion my road trip in the manner of Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley.  Which meant – first of all -noting some key differences between highway travel in 1960 and 2015.  (Differences including but not limited to cruise control.)

I noted another difference, on camping not being a cheaper way to travel.  That is, before leaving I decided not to camp as Steinbeck did.  That was because even for tent camping, the price you pay is almost as much as a Motel 6.  But since then I’ve learned that’s not entirely correct.

It is true that camping at a state park these days – even with online reservations – can cost almost as much a night at a Motel 6.  But after the trip I found a website, Freecampsites.net. (See also FreeCampgrounds.com.)  I haven’t actually tried one of these yet, but it does bode well for the future.  (And I suppose there’s some kind of object lesson in all this…)

That brings up another key difference between Steinbeck’s time and ours.

On page 167 of the Penguin Edition TWC, Steinbeck wrote of driving across the “upraised thumb of Idaho and through real mountains that climbed straight up.”  There he had a problem: “my radio went dead and I thought it was broken, but it was only that the high ridges cut off the radio waves.”  The point?  Steinbeck had only a car radio to entertain him.

I on the other hand had radio, and a CD player that could – and did – provide an education via lectures on CD.   (Like American History, “patched and piebald,” as seen below left.)

Or I could listen to plain old CDs with music.  (I had around 50 such CDs.)  Or I could listen to pre-programmed music on my iPod Shuffle.  (Which had some eight hours of music.)

And last but not least, I had a six-month trial of SiriusXM (satellite) Radio. That trial came with the new Ford Escape I’d bought the previous May.  It alone had over 175 channels, with comedy, sports, news and information, “commercial-free music,” and traffic and weather.

Which I suppose is as good a metaphor as any for the Information Explosion that now envelopes us today.  (And which “can lead to information overload;” that is, a difficulty in making decisions and understanding issues, caused by too much information.)

But before writing more about Atlantic City, I wanted to note another similarity.

On pages 136-37 of the Penguin Books TWC, Steinbeck wrote about rarely making notes along the way.  But (he added), “I made some notes on a sheet of yellow paper on the nature and quality of being alone.”  Such notes – he said – would normally have gotten lost, “as notes are always lost, but these particular notes turned up long afterward wrapped around a bottle of ketchup and secured by a rubber band.”

He found three notes altogether – all on being alone – with one lying “obscurely under a streak of ketchup.“  He took over a full page of TWC on the third note, “Reversion to pleasure-pain basis.”  He then concluded, “so much for the three notes below the red stain on the ketchup bottle.”  Public Chicago Hotel - Chicago, IL, United StatesAll of which had to do with the fact that  “After the comfort and the company of Chicago I had had to learn to be alone again.”  (His wife flew out to meet him in Chicago, and for a few days they stayed at the “Ambassador East.”  The lobby is seen at right.)

Along the same lines, I recently found a note I’d written during my road trip.  It was from Sunday, June 28, written on an odd scrap of paper in the Walmart parking lot on Virginia Beach Boulevard.

Road trip – Sometimes you’re amazed at how well things turn out like you “planned.”  (Appearance of Walmart this morning.)  And sometimes you have to adapt – Saturday driving up I-95 through rain and traffic.

That all had to do with how “fouled up” the driving had been on Saturday, the 27th.  Not only was the traffic on Interstate 95 even worse than usual…  Aside from that, a strong and long line of thunderstorms took it’s sweet time, taking all day Saturday to pass through the area.

(And knocking out the power for five hours in Williamsburg.  See Part II.)

But then on Sunday morning the sun was out, and driving was fun again.  The only problem was that I needed cash for the toll onto the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge.  I pondered the question while driving east toward Virginia Beach.  I wanted to visit the beach itself, and also looked for First Landing State Park, when all of a sudden – “as if by magic” – a Walmart appeared to my left.  (That’s my normal routine when needing cash.  Rather than pay an ATM fee, I generally go to a Walmart, get some inexpensive necessity and get cash that way.)

All of which could be just another way of saying, “Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you.”  Or as Steinbeck said, “we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”  (TWC-2, 4)

And by the way, I’m pretty sure they didn’t have ATMs in 1960.

Then too, that “magical moment in travel” was pretty much what happened when – later in the week – the three parts of the family got together for the memorial in Swedesboro.  We all came together “as if by magic.”

In the meantime I just checked the word counter.  It said the last paragraph put me at 1,344 words.  That means it’s time to start wrapping this up.

So here’s a condensed version of journal entries for this trip-part.  For readers more interested – or more masochistic– there’s a longer version at the end of the notes.

On Monday evening, June 29, I treated my hosts to dinner at the Hard Rock Café down on the Boardwalk.  (“I made believe I lost my credit card.  Hah!  Fooled everyone.”)  Then at another restaurant a day or so later, I walked off and left my cell phone.  I got it back, but it reminded me of something a fellow old-person once said:  “I’m not senile, I’m processing!”

Which probably qualifies as the travel writer “humbling himself.”

I don’t recall Steinbeck writing of such problems in his journey.  But see also A “Travels With Charley” Timeline, which noted “screaming signs of fictionalization,” Steinbeck’s being “fuzzy about time and place,” not to mention vague and confusing:

The book also includes scenes of several lonely overnight campouts under the stars that didn’t happen and it omits many things Steinbeck did with his wife Elaine when she joined him for a month on the West Coast.

But hey, nobody’s perfect.  (See also “young pup – definition … from the Oxford dictionary.”)

One definite highlight of the stay in Atlantic City was a visit to the Tuckerton Seaport & Baymen’s Museum (seen at right):

“Only six bucks and a great bargain at that, even though many of the exhibits were still closed, due to Superstorm Sandy.”  And among other things, I learned about the Battle of Chestnut Neck, which I’d never heard of.  (In the Revolutionary War.)

See also Travel broadens the mind, with 50 inspiring quotes, including one from Steinbeck: “A journey is like marriage.  The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”

On that note, we also did a lot of walking along the Boardwalk over several days in AC, marked by “stopping and starting, shopping, and watching the ‘passing panoply.'”

But getting back to that Journey Motif, “leading to an epiphany, or some sort of self-realization.”

We left Atlantic city on Thursday, July 2, heading for the Swedesboro cemetery.  I followed my even-more-delightfully-retro brother, who refuses to use anything like a GPS.  West on U.S. 322, not wanting to pay a toll or go through the traffic on the Atlantic City Expressway.  There were a number of stops and starts, not to mention turnarounds and dead ends, and we were supposed to meet up with the rest of the family at noon.

I was starting to have my doubts, but we ended up getting “to the cemetery right at 12:04, just behind the Prius;” i.e., the one  carrying the oldest brother, his wife and matriarchal aunt, “just getting out of the car.”  It reminded me of Steinbeck’s finding a friend’s house on Deer Isle:

I climbed a hill and turned right into pine woods and on a smaller road, and turned right on a very narrow road and turned right again on wheel tracks on pine needles.  It is so easy once you have done it.

Picture(TWC-2, 46)  As I wrote in my journal, “We laid Dad’s ashes to rest where the nice guy had dug a huge hole.  Each of us said a little something, then we had a nice lunch at a ‘Fireside’ restaurant in Swedesboro.”  (Rode’s Fireside Restaurant, at left.)

Then we drove across the Delaware Memorial Bridge to our aunt’s house in Wilmington.

Which brings up the matter of my crossing the Delaware River in my kayak the next morning.  It seems that crossing the Delaware is why there are two “Old Swedes” on each side of the river:

The journey across the Delaware by canoe and sailboat was hazardous and often impossible.  In 1706, the first priest serving St. George’s, The Reverend Lars Tollstadius was drowned while crossing the Delaware.

See the notes below, St. Georges Episcopal Church Pennsville, and also The Delaware Finns:  “on the 29th of May 1706, Tollstadius was drowned in crossing the Delaware in a canoe.  Before his death, the congregation had found objections against him, for his irregular mode of living.”  But see also Trinity Episcopal Church, Swedesboro, which had it this way:

After Tollstadius’ apparent suicide in 1706 (he was under indictment by the Burlington Court), he was succeeded by Jonas Auren, one of the three pastors to arrive in 1697. (E.A.)

Be that as it may…  (I don’t want to get into either “irregular modes of living” or being under indictment.)  Be that as it may, I myself paddled across the Delaware in a little 8-foot kayak, early the next morning and notwithstanding the danger!  (As noted in Parts I and II.)  It took almost exactly an hour, from Battery Park in New Castle, across the river to Riverview Beach Park in Pennsville.  But aside from a couple of humongous freighters on the river – and the wakes they generated – the crossing was pretty uneventful.

So much for learning from history

 

“Old Swede’s Church [Trinity Church] in Swedesboro, New Jersey…”

 

The upper image is courtesy of Wyndham Skyline Tower – 64 Photos, and/or “Giovanni A.

The “football” image is courtesy of College football – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “The Rutgers College football team in 1882.”

A note:  Quotes from “Travels with Charlie” are generally from the 1980 Penguin Books edition.  Quotes from “TWC-2” are from the 1962 “Viking Press” edition.

Re: Old Swedes, New Jersey.  That’s not to be confused with Old Swedes – Wilmington, across the river, known as Holy Trinity.  Old Swedes New Jersey was built because of the difficulty in crossing the Delaware River, as noted elsewhere:  “To attend church, the Swedish settlers in Raccoon had to cross the river to Wilmington or Philadelphia.  The difficulty of this crossing led to the decision to build a new church on the banks of Raccoon Creek.”

Another note: The “laying to rest” of my father’s ashes actually occurred at Lake Park Cemetery in Woolwich, some six-tenths of a mile south of the Jersey Old Swedes.  Thus the phrase “at (or near) “Old Swedes.”

Re “Ambassador East.”  See The Pump Room, Chicago – Wikipedia:  “The Pump Room … is a restaurant located in the Public Chicago Hotel, formerly The Ambassador East, in Chicago‘s Gold Coast area.”  The lobby image is courtesy of Public Chicago Hotel – 136 Photos.

Re:  “Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you.”  A variation of the phrase popularized in 1998’s The Big Lebowski.  (See Wikipedia.)  See also Urban Dictionary: sometimes you eat the bear, and/or What does this quote from The Big Lebowski mean?

The lower image is courtesy of Swedesboro, New Jersey – Wikipedia.

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Other highlights of this portion of the road trip included a visit to the Absecon Lighthousedinner at the LandShark Bar & Grill Restaurant in Atlantic City (on the Boardwalk), a visit to Longwood Gardens (north of Wilmington in Pennsylvania, “one of the premier botanical gardens in the United States”), and another dinner at Gallucio’s Italian Restaurantt in Wilmington.

All highly recommended by this “travel writer…”