Archive by Author

Into The Light Again Part 1

19 Feb

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

As a part of the aftermath of the First World War many political and economic changes were seen in America. The national trauma of the war created an ever increasing attitude of isolationism in this country.  One of the immediate results, by the political establishment, was to reduce the military.  The elimination of the unneeded military forces was a large factor in helping to reduce the nations War Debt.  A feeling of relief, celebration and prosperity ramped up during the 1920s until the Great Depression was cast upon us in 1929.  Then the struggle of the 1930s was mainly centered on survival.

Typical “Bread Line” of the 1930s

Even with the buildup of Nazi forces in Germany in the late 1930s, most Americans didn’t want to think about getting involved in another war.  So, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 the United States was not ready for a war.  Even though hundreds of thousands of men immediately signed up for the military services, the U.S. military buildup was slow, with training being a large part of the equation.

U.S. Military buildup and training took time

At that time, the U.S. Navy only had a few operational aircraft carriers to help defend America’s coastlines, most of which were assigned to front-line duties, in the world’s oceans, fighting the Axis powers.  However, the Navy needed qualified carrier pilots, and they needed them ASAP.  As it happened, a far-sighted naval commander named Richard F. Whitehead had presented an out-of-the-box proposal for qualifying carrier pilots in early 1941, but the plan was rejected at the time by the Navy department.

Description: https://chicagonavymemorial.org/application/files/7615/6658/7523/Whitehead_banner.jpg

Commander Richard F. Whitehead 

But after the Pearl Harbor attack, Whitehead’s plan was quickly approved and expedited to provide the badly needed carrier pilot qualification source.  In March of 1942 the Navy purchased two early 1900s side-paddlewheel steam ships (SS Seeandbee & SS Greater Buffalo) that at one time had been luxury cruise liners servicing the Lake Michigan waters.

SS Seaandbee

The Navy essentially removed the superstructures and upper decks of both ships, and installed a 550’ long flight deck on each.  When the conversion of the Seeandbee was completed, she was renamed USS Wolverine (IX-64) and was commissioned in August 1942.  With a maximum crew of 270 officers and enlisted men, intense naval carrier pilot qualification operations commenced immediately.  The qualification of 59 pilots on the very first day of the ship’s operation almost doubled Commander Whitehead’s original pilot training estimate.  When the conversion of her sister ship, the Greater Buffalo, was completed, she was renamed USS Sable (IX-81) and the ship was commissioned in May 1943.

USS Wolverine & USS Sable at Chicago pier 

It was not long before the two ships began to be casually referred to as the “Cornbelt Fleet.”  Pilots would take off from their NAS Glenview training base, just north of Chicago, and head out over the lake in search of the USS Wolverine or USS Sable to begin their carrier qualification practice landings and takeoffs.  Once a pilot found his assigned ship, he would land and immediately takeoff to go around the pattern for another attempt.  Over the course of the war, U.S. Navy records indicate that almost 18,000 carrier pilots were qualified on these two ships, including one of the youngest Navy carrier pilots to be qualified, future president George H.W. Bush.  In addition to pilot training, the two ships were also used to train some 40,000 sailors and Landing Signal Officers (LSO) in carrier flight deck operations.    

Landing Signal Officer (Paddles) and Trainer 

It should be noted that, at the time, each pilot who was training to be assigned to flight duty on a frontline aircraft carrier, had to complete eight “successful” landings and takeoffs before he could qualify as an aircraft carrier pilot.  For most of these pilots, this was their first attempt at trying to land an aircraft on a moving deck, and they didn’t all have the steel nerves to do it right the first time.  It is said that as many as 400-600 landing and takeoff operations were performed on these two ships in a single day.  These operational schedules continued seven days a week (weather permitting) until the end of the war.  With all this activity, you might expect that there were some accidents along the way, and you would be right.

Carrier pilot qualification

—–To Be Continued

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

 

Bill

 

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 15

12 Feb

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 15 – Tuesday August 6

This morning Brian, Karen, and I had a great visit over breakfast and coffee, before Karen had to leave for work.  Brian took the time to follow me back into Chicago to turn in my rental car.  When that was out of the way, he took me around parts of the Oak Park area of Chicago where Frank Lloyd Wright had lived and worked.  Wikipedia tells me that Wright’s 1889 home was remodeled in 1895, and his studio was added to the house in 1898.  The house was then restored and registered as a National Historic Landmark in 1976, and is now operated as a museum by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust.  

This part of the Oak Park area also boasts of an additional 25 Wright-designed structures, including the Frank Thomas House (1901), the Arthur B. Heurtley House (1902), the Edward R. Hills House (1906), the Laura Gale House (1909), and the Harry S. Adams House (1913), many of which Brian pointed out as we drove past them.

                                                Frank Thomas House (1901) 

                                                Arthur B. Heurtley House (1902)

                                                Edward R. Hills House (1906) 

Description: A large yellow house with terraces.

                                                Laura Gale House (1909)

Description: The exterior of the Harry S. Adams house. The facade is red brick. The house is surrounded by trees.

Harry S. Adams House (1913)

It has been said that Wright was heavily influenced by his first architectural “mentor” Louis H. Sullivan (who Wright called the Father of Modernism).  Wright worked for the firm of Adler & Sullivan from1888 to 1893, where he was Sullivan’s assistant.  During this time, he was introduced to the Prairie School style of architecture.   Wright has been quoted as saying of that style, “We were striving to establish simplicity and a real American form of architecture we could call our own.”  Note: The internet photos of Sullivan and Wright (below) are thought to have been taken of the two men in the late 1880s, during the time they were working together.

                        Louis H. Sullivan                                         Frank Lloyd Wright

After this interesting and informative tour of the Oak Park area, Brian drove me to the Midway International Airport were he dropped me off at the Southwest curb-side check-in area.  By the time I got processed through Security and made my way to the gate for my 1:00 pm flight I didn’t have to wait long.  The Southwest loading and departure for Orlando was right on time.  The non-stop flight was uneventful and the pretzels and mini- cookies were still fresh.  

Description: Image result for southwest airlines

DiVoran was there to pick me up at the Orlando International Airport, and we had a great Colombian taste treat dinner at the Oh! Que Bueno Restaurant on SR-436.  Then we made that familiar trip on SR-50 to Titusville, and home, for a good night’s sleep in my own bed for the first time in two weeks.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about this Great Lakes Road Trip as much as I have, reliving these exciting adventures into some of these areas of our beautiful country.  Stay tuned for another one-of-a-kind trip to places you may or may not have ever been to, as I take to the road on my next adventure in the near future.  Happy travels to one and all.

—–The End—–

 Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

 

Bill

 

                        One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 14B

5 Feb

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 14 – Monday August 5 (Continued)

To continue this day’s activities, and as I mentioned last week, at the Chicago Maritime Museum, I was interested to read, as part of the museum’s information, the story of the two 1900s paddle-wheel passenger steamers that the U.S. Navy converted to the aircraft carriers “USS Sable” and “USS Wolverine” during WWII.  These two carriers were stationed in Lake Michigan and Chicago was their home port.  The two aircraft carriers were used to train U.S. Navy carrier pilots.  Navy records indicate that many aircraft were lost in the lake, due to multiple causes, and the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum in Florida, where I now volunteer as a tour guide, has one of the restored F4F Wildcat airplanes that was recovered from the lake 1993.  However, that fascinating story is for another time and another blog.  Look for that blog coming soon.

As I was leaving the maritime museum, I ran over something and damaged a tire on my rental car.  I had made plans to have dinner with my niece, Karen, and her husband, Brian, that evening, so I called to tell them I might be late.  Brian is a great communicator, and he set about to locate the closest Avis agency for me.  He found one within 3-miles of where I was stranded.  This car did not have a spare tire (only an Emergency Repair Kit), so we called the Avis Roadside Assistance people for a tow.

The Avis Roadside Assistance wanted to tow my car 20+ miles to trade cars with me.  Brian said, “In Chicago’s rush-hour traffic that will take hours!”  So, we ended up using my personal Roadside Assistance people, who said they would take me to the closest Avis agency.  They said they could have a tow-truck to my location within one hour.  That was great.  But then about 45 minutes later, they called to tell me that the driver had been given the wrong address, and it would be another hour before he could get to my location.  It was a total of three hours before the tow-truck finally dropped me off at the local Avis lot.   The agent said they didn’t have another car of the type I was driving, or even a tire to exchange, and anyway they were getting ready to close.  Did all this upset me?  Nahh!  

Just to show you how good God is.  There just happened to be a Goodyear Tire shop right next door to Avis.  Now is that a coincidence or what?  So I thanked Him for the tire shop, bit the bullet and took the car to Goodyear for a new tire.  They were swamped with work, but were kind enough to work me into their schedule before quitting time.  I considered myself lucky that it only took them another hour to get the tire replaced.

I chalked up the flat tire fiasco and missing the other Chicago area museums on my list today to some kind of Divine Intervention that I would never figure out.  I  headed north about 60 miles on I-90/I-94 to Lake Villa, IL where I hoped my relatives had not gone to bed.  As luck would have it, they were still up and even had some left-over dinner that they warmed-up for me.  After a short visit, I was more than ready to take a relaxing shower and sleep easy tonight in their guest room.

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

 

Bill

 

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 14A

29 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 14 – Monday August 5

First thing this morning I headed 25 miles east on I-80 to visit the Grundy County Historical Museum located in Morris, IL. This is a small museum that collects and preserves artifacts, documents, and memorabilia related to the history of Grundy County.  This includes items of a cultural, social, geological and anthropological nature.

Heading northeast on I-80 some 20 miles I visited the Old Joliet Prison located in Joliet, IL.  This Illinois State Penitentiary was opened in 1858 to replace the first, and then aging, 1831 Illinois State Penitentiary located in Alton, IL.   Housing nearly 2000 inmates at its peak of operation, the inmate population continued to grow, and this prison was replaced by a new Illinois State Penitentiary in Crest Hill, IL in 2002.  Now just called the Old Joliet Prison, the museum gives tours of a portion of the site which provides visitors with a historical picture of 19th century prison conditions and methods of incarceration.  This was another one of those “You will have to wait for the next tour, and then the tour takes 1-½ hours.”  I opted to go on to the next museum.

Just a few miles south of the Old Joliet Prison I had planned to visit the Stradale Team, located within the Autobahn Country Club complex.  I had hoped to get to see some radical sports cars in action at their road-racing track.  As it turned out, entry into the shops and track was blocked by a sign on the electric gate that informed me that access to the complex was “For Members Only.”  Rats!!

So, I gave Greta (my Garmin) the address for the Illinois Aviation Museum located about 20 miles north, and we headed out.  The next thing I knew, I was caught up in a huge industrial warehousing complex, with literally hundreds of 16-weelers, of all types, heading in every direction.  That wouldn’t have been so bad, but a lot of them seemed to be heading down the same 2-lane road that Greta had me on, and the backup must have been a mile long.  It took forever to get to the “T” in the road where I thought we could finally make some time.  WRONG!  That 2-lane “T” road was also backed up as bad as the one I just turned off of, IN BOTH DIRECTIONS!  It took me a full hour to finally get to a decent 4-lane road where I could pass some of those trucks and make some time.  Whew!  That was frustrating.

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I finally arrived at the Illinois Aviation Museum located adjacent to the Bolingbrook International Airport in Bolingbrook, IL expecting a large museum with lots of beautifully restored airplanes.  What I found was an F-80 Shooting Star, a Huey helicopter, and several smaller airplanes, all jammed in one small hanger.  There was no one around, even after I called out “Hello” a couple of times.  So, I strolled onto the hanger, took a few photos of the airplanes, and told Greta, Let’s tray the next museum.

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Now I headed northeast about 25 miles on I-55 to visit the Chicago Maritime Museum located in the southern part of Chicago.  This large museum houses exhibits, artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of maritime activities on Lake Michigan, with special interest surrounding the port of Chicago in particular.

As a side note, this museum mentions the two Lake Michigan side-wheeler passenger steam ships that the U.S. Navy converted into aircraft carriers (USS Sable & USS Wolverine) and used to train U.S. Navy carrier pilots during WWII.  As it happens, the museum in Florida, where I volunteer as a tour guide, has on display one of the airplanes that was used to train those pilots on those ships during that time period.

—–This day’s activities will be continued next week—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

 

Bill

 

                             One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 13B

22 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 13 – Sunday August 4 (Continued)

Continuing today’s activities at the Johnson-Sauk Trails State Park, I discovered Ryan’s Round Barn was built in 1910 and is one of the largest round barns in the country.  The barn is 80+ feet high and 85 feet in diameter, with a full-size 16-foot wide silo inside.  This restored wooden round barn actually consists of a lot more, on the inside, than a person might think (check the plaque below).  Back in the day it is said, religious groups in the area built their barns round because they “left no corners for the devil to hide.”  What a hoot that is!

Now I headed east another 25 miles, on I-80, to visit the Lovejoy Homestead located in Princeton, IL.  This 1835 home, that Owen Lovejoy lived in, was another of the many stations of the “underground railroad” used by fugitive slaves, in their flight north to freedom in Canada.  The Rev. Owen Lovejoy was a local Congregational minister and outspoken abolitionist, who preached anti-slavery from his pulpit, and later on the floor of the United States Congress.  The Lovejoy house is decorated in period furnishings, and visitors can view the secret space, in the attic, where the fugitive slaves were hidden.

Another 20 miles east on I-80 I visited the Westclox Museum located in Peru, IL.  This museum is housed in the original building where Westclox (United Clock Company/Western Clock Company/General Time Corporation) manufacturing began in 1885.  The museum displays all types of clocks, watches, and other time related items from all over the world.   It also tells the historical story of the Westclox business and family adventures.  From the story of this company, it is likely that most everyone in this country has, or will, own a Westclox product at one time or another in their lifetime.

Just a couple miles east of Peru, I was heading to visit the Illinois & Michigan Canal (I & M) dock located in LaSalle, IL when I saw a small train depot off the side of the road.  I stopped to take a photo, and discovered it was the old 1900 Peru-LaSalle Rock Island Railroad passenger depot, which was the original eastern terminus of the Rock Island Line at that time.

Description: Image result for peru-lasalle rock island railroad passenger depot.

Across the railroad tracks I stopped at The Illinois & Michigan (I & M) Canal Boat Passage dock there in La Salle.  The I & M Canal was built to connect the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River.  The 96 mile Illinois portion of the canal was built in 1846, and connected the Chicago River (Chicago) and the Illinois River (La Salle).  The canal used 17 locks to take care of the 140’ water height difference between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River.  Even though the canal improved productivity in central Illinois; traffic on the canal consisted of only slow mule-drawn barges until America’s western advancing railroad system replaced it in 1933.  Today visitors can take a leisurely ride in a restored mule-drawn canal boat on a one- mile portion of what is left of the original I & M Canal.

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Now I headed east some 15 miles on US-6 to visit the Ottawa Scouting Museum located in Ottawa, IL.  This small museum displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of youth scouting (American & English) over the past 100 years.  William D.  Boyce was one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America in 1910, and he lived in Ottawa and is buried there.  Ottawa was one of the many canal cities that evolved from the introduction of The I & M Canal in the 1800s.  The museum also displays historical items related to the growth of the city of Ottawa. 

Just outside the city of Ottawa I visited the Illinois Waterway Visitors Center located on the Illinois River.  The Illinois Waterway is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is over 300 miles long, and includes portions of the Illinois, Des Plaines, Chicago, and Calumet Rivers.  The Visitors Center is located at the Starved Rock Lock and Dam site, and gives visitors an in-depth view of the Waterway’s history and operations.  Surrounded by the Starved Rock State Park, on both sides of the Illinois River, this area’s beautiful woodlands are a favorite for camping, hiking, and bird watching. 

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Now I ask Greta (my Garmin) to take me to tonight’s motel there in Ottawa.  Once I got checked in and unpacked my necessities, I heated up my leftover Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack delicious St. Louis Ribs, with baked beans and cole slaw from last night, and enjoyed that great meal again.  Too bad I can’t take Jimmy Jack and his famous ribs with me on the rest of this trip.

Description: Image result for jimmy jacks rib shack in iowa city ia

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

 

Bill

 

                              One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

Meditation Musing~Your Choice

17 Jan

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Reblogged 1/16/2020

Palmetto walk

 

My Dear Child,

Sometimes you suddenly realize that you’re going the wrong way. Perhaps you see that your motive isn’t clear or that your attitude is unproductive. That is when you know you’ve been veering onto the rebel way. Don’t allow this process of conviction, which is a good thing, to start you down the slippery slope of guilt and self-pity, which is the biggest possible waste of life. The deeper you go into negative thinking, the harder it is to back out. Don’t dwell on making things right with everyone. I will guide you well in My own time and in My own way and you will be astonished at what I do for you and for them.

Get back with Me as soon as possible. The need for confession came from me. I’m on the case, and I will steer you right, if you will let me. Don’t try to figure things out on your own. Even though you are a temple for My Spirit, you are yet human. Christian maturity is different from human maturity. In human maturity you become more independent, in my Kingdom you become increasingly dependent on Me.

As soon as you see your trespass face it and let me help you. Acknowledge that you have been forgiven ever since I died to atone for all Sin. But if you wish to feel forgiven then forgive everyone who has ever offended or hurt you. Know, too, that because I have been gracious enough to uncover your error, I am already nudging you back onto the joy path and giving you the strength to proceed. As you travel you’ll find new adventures and trials, but you will get in the habit of letting Me handle them with you. My joy and strength awaits.

“The joy of the lord is my strength.”

Nehemiah 8:9-11

Music

 

Author, Poet and Artist

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 13A

15 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 13 – Sunday August 4

This morning after breakfast, I headed east some 55 miles, on I-80, to visit the Palmer Chiropractic Museum located in Davenport, IA.  Called the founder of Chiropractic, Dr. Daniel D. Palmer is said to have performed the very first Chiropractic adjustment on Harvey Lillard in 1895 there in Davenport.  Dr. Palmer and his family went on, over several generations, to create what is now known as the Palmer College of Chiropractic Academic Health Center with facilities in Iowa, Florida, and California.

Description: Image result for d.d.palmer in davenport, ia

This Museum is a part of the Palmer College campus there in Davenport, and resides on two floors of the Vickie Anne Palmer Hall.  The museum showcases the evolution of Chiropractic and its impact on overall health that is said to have helped start a revolution in health care in the early 1900s.  Over the years the Palmer family has been avid collectors of Chiropractic artifacts, and the museum displays many of these artifacts and memorabilia from around the world.

While I was looking for the Bix Beiderbecke Museum, also located in Davenport, I passed an Irish Memorial and stopped to take a photo.  This outdoor memorial was erected by the local St. Patrick Society and honors the many brave men, women, and children who, in the 19th century, left their homes in Ireland and traveled to America to start a new life.

The Bix Beiderbecke Museum resides on the first floor of the River Music Experience Building where exhibits, artifacts and musical scores of this legendary jazz musician/composer are displayed.  A re-creation of the Hudson Lake Casino stage, where Bix performed with his cornet, shows Bix in his prime and the museum will appeal to many jazz lovers and enthusiasts. 

Now I headed northeast on US-67, following the western bank of the Mississippi River, to visit the Buffalo Bill Cody Homestead located in Princeton, IA.  Located just north of Le Claire, on the Mississippi River, this original boyhood home of Buffalo Bill was built by his parents Isaac & Mary Cody in 1847.  The house is furnished with period furniture and artifacts, that tell the story of the young Bill and his brother Samuel, growing up fishing and swimming in the nearby Mississippi River. Interestingly, I saw more live Buffalo here at the homestead than I did last year on my road trip thru the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming.

I had to backtrack a few miles south, on US-67, to find the I-80 bridge across the Mississippi River.  As I was passing thru Le Claire, IA on my way to I-80, I happened to spot the Buffalo Bill (Regional History) Museum and stopped to check it out.  This small museum is located right on the Mississippi River, and consists of artifacts, exhibits, and memorabilia related to the history of famous people from Le Claire, such as Buffalo Bill Cody (showman), James Ryan (inventor), and James B. Eads (engineer).  The 1869 steam-powered paddlewheel towboat “Lone Star” is part of the museum, and is located adjacent to the museum in a special pier. 

After crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois, I headed southeast, another 20 miles or so on I-80, to visit the Geneseo Historical Museum located in Geneseo, IL.  The museum is housed in the family home George Richards built in 1855, shortly after the railroad came to Geneseo.  The museum is appointed with period furnishings, and displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the early history of Geneseo and the surrounding area.  It has been rumored that this house was one of the many stations on the “Underground Railroad” used by run-a-way slaves, on their way to Canada, during the Civil War.

Next I headed east on I-80 and south on SR-78 to visit the Johnson-Sauk Trail State Park located just south of Annawan, IL.  The reason for this small side trip was to check out the unusual barn structure that I saw when I was researching this area of my trip.

This park is located on 1365 acres in the north-central Illinois area, formerly referred to as the Great Willow Swamp.  The area is a favorite for camping, fishing, hiking, and nature enthusiasts.  It was initially part of the Great Northwest Territory, claimed by the French, until after the French and Indian War.  In 1765 the land was ceded to Great Britain, where it became part of the Northwest Territory, and finally the Illinois Territory, until Illinois gained it’s statehood in 1818.

—–This day’s activities will be continued next week—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

 

Bill

 

                         One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 12B

8 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 12 – Saturday August 3 (Continued)

Now I headed some 85 miles southeast on SR-163/US-63 to visit the Airpower Museum located in Ottumwa, IA.  I found that the Airpower Museum is actually several miles west of Ottumwa, at the Antique Airfield which is near Blakesburg, IA.  The museum is housed in a small building with aviation displays, artifacts and memorabilia dating from the early 1900s.  There is also a single small hanger adjacent to the museum building that contains several airplanes in various stages of repair or restoration.

For some of you mini-series buffs, Ottumwa happens to be the hometown of the TV series “M*A*S*H” character “Radar.”  This loveable character played the part of MASH 4077’s company clerk, and pretty much ran the outfit, until he was shipped home and replaced by another MASH character “Max Klinger.”  I was one of millions of Americans who laughed their way thru 11 fun-filled seasons with all of the MASH 4077 characters.

Description: Image result for how long was the tv series mash?
Photo credit Fanpop.com

Next I headed northeast on US-63/SR-92/22 to visit the Old Capital Museum located in Iowa City, IA. This museum is housed in what originally was the Iowa’s second Territorial Capital building.  The first Iowa Territorial Capital was actually established in Detroit, MI as part of the Wisconsin Territory (1834-1838).  The first Iowa Capital Building was in Burlington, IA (1839-1841), the second was Iowa City (1841-1849), and the third was Des Moines (1849-present).  When the capital of Iowa was moved to Des Moines, the Old Capital Building became the first permanent building of the University of Iowa.  The university has expanded over the years, and the museum now sits on a hill in the middle of a four-block park-like area (the Pentacrest) of the University of Iowa campus.  The museum displays many exhibits, artifacts and memorabilia related to the early history of the capital building, the university, and the state of Iowa from as far back as the mid-1800s. 

Since I was going to spend the night there in Iowa City, I just had to take the time to check out the site of what is said to be the World’s Largest Wooden Nickel.  Measuring 12’ across and tipping the scale at 4000 pounds, this unique wooden monument is said to have been erected in 2006 as a protest against Johnson county officials’ decision to raise speed limits in the area.  The half-dollar size wooden nickel I have at home is a joke, but this roadside Icon seems like a good example of a non-violent protest to me.

Description: Image result for world's largest wooden nickel
Photo Credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/alan-light

Now it was time for Greta (my Garmin) to take me to the motel there in Iowa City.  After I got checked in at the motel, I headed over to Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack for a plate of their delicious (falling-off-the-bone tender) St. Louis Ribs with baked beans, cole slaw, and a slice of their homemade honey-butter cornbread.  Boy was that YUMMMY!  This was a meal to remember, and the best thing about it is, I will be remembering it again tomorrow evening.

Photo Credit jimmy jacks rib shack in iowa city

—–To Be Continued—–

My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 12A

1 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 12 – Saturday August 3

My first museum this morning was the John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum there in Waterloo, IA.  This is a large museum filled with tractors, all kinds of farm equipment, and engines of all types and sizes dating from the mid-1800s.  Starting with his first steel farm plow design in 1837, John Deere improved his plow and farm equipment designs, and expanded his company, to include farm tractors beginning in 1907.  The company has continued to grow and expand its product line, over the years, to include all types of farming and harvesting equipment.  In 2019 the company was listed as being ranked the 87th American company in the Fortune 500 list.

Before leaving Waterloo, I swung by the Grout Museum to see what it was all about.  This small museum honors the military service and sacrifice of all Iowa veterans from the Civil War to the present.  The museum has an impressive display honoring the five Sullivan brothers, who hailed from Waterloo, and who were all sailors on the USS Juneau (CL-52) during WWII.  Unfortunately their ship was sunk during the Battle of Guadalcanal in November of 1942 with the loss of 687 crew members, including all five Sullivan brothers.

The story goes that at the time, a standing naval policy was in effect restricting siblings from serving in the same unit.  However, the Sullivan brothers had refused to serve (I don’t know how they got away with that) unless they were all assigned to the same ship, and the policy was overlooked by their commanders.  Following this family tragedy, the U.S. Navy was mandated to strictly inforce the policy for all siblings.  

Now I headed southwest on U.S. 63/30/65 to visit the State of Iowa Historical Museum located in Des Moines, IA.  This museum’s Historical Collection of over 80,000 items includes artifacts, memorabilia, and displays, related to the state of Iowa dating from the early 1900s.  These items are housed in the large State of Iowa Historical Building, along with the State Historical Library Collection and the State Historical Archives Collection.  Way too much for me to see in one visit.

As I was passing thru Des Moines, on my way to the next museum, I drove by the Iowa State Capital Building and decided to stop for a photo of this beautiful edifice.  I’ve learned that the building’s location in Des Moines was the third location considered for the Iowa State Capital after Iowa City and Monroe City.   The building was constructed between 1871 & 1886, and is the only 5-domed capital building in the U.S.  The building houses offices for Iowa’s Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, and Auditor, as well as the State Senate and State House of Representatives.

—–(This day’s activities will be continued next week)—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.  

Bill  

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 11

25 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 11 – Friday August 2

This morning after breakfast, I started the southern portion of this road trip, by heading southeast on I-35E, about 30 miles, to visit the Holz Farm Park located in Eagan, MN.  This picturesque 80-acre farm was originally settled in the 1870s, and farmed by the Holz family until 1993.  The city of Eagan purchased the property in 1995 and converted it into a living farm park. The farm offers a unique opportunity for visitors to experience rural life as it was in this part of Minnesota in the late 1800s thru the mid-1900s, with hands on participation and special events.

Next I continued south on I-35 about 60 miles to visit the Steele County History Center & Village of Yesteryear, located in Owatonna, MN.  The museum displays rare photos, artifacts, and memorabilia that follow the history of Steele County, MN.  The Village of Yesteryear is a collection of 19 restored structures, relocated from various locations in Steele County, to preserve the history of the way of life of the mid-1800 pioneers who first settled in the Owatonna area of Minnesota.  I passed up the opportunity to take the tour of the “Village” since the next tour wasn’t scheduled until later in the day.

Another 30 miles south on US-278, I visited the SPAM Museum located in Austin, MN.  This is a very interesting museum that tells the history of SPAM (originally called Spiced Ham by its inventors) over the years.  SPAM was created by the Hormel Foods Corporation in 1937, to meet the need housewives had for cheap, quick meals requiring minimal preparation.

Then the military got in the act, and during WWII Hormel supplied hundreds of millions of cans of SPAM to U.S. and allied troops all over the world.  That may be one reason why so many U.S. veterans turn up their noses at the word SPAM.  It’s been rumored that some G.I.s believe SPAM is an acronym for what they call “Scientifically Processed Animal Matter.”

That doesn’t seem to matter to people all over the world, as witnessed by the creation of original SPAM recipes from over 44 different nations.  I was surprised to find out that SPAM is now available in 17 different flavors.  The samples I was offered at the museum were “Hickory Smoke” and “Roast Turkey.”  I thought they were both quite good.

As a side note; it looks like I measure about 22½ SPAM cans high.  How about that for an unusual method of measurement?

Now I headed west on I-90 about 25 miles to visit the Freeborn County Historical Museum located in Albert Lea, MN.  This museum displays some 40 exhibits, as well as artifacts and memorabilia, tracing the history of the city of Albert Lea and Freeborn County.  An unusual exhibit is the museum’s collection of rare vintage WWI and WWII posters.  The museum also maintains a late 1800s “Village” consisting  of 18 restored buildings, including a one-room schoolhouse, church, general store, and train depot, that will help visitors to this museum see how early settlers to this area lived and worked.  

As I headed south on I-35, I crossed the border into Iowa, on my way to visit the John Deere Tractor Museum.  Greta (my Garmin) took me off I-35 and onto some small backroads, where I happened to see “The Little Brown Church in the Vale,” and had to stop for a photo.  I am always looking for unusual houses, churches, or buildings on my trips.  I love to see how creative people can be.  In this case, it was the name of the church that got my attention, not necessarily the small quaint 1860 church building.

By the time I got to Waterloo, IA it was too late to visit the John Deere Tractor Museum, and besides that my stomach was still acting up.  So before heading for the motel, Greta helped me find the Chick-fil-A there in Waterloo, where I enjoyed an order of their Grilled Chicken Nuggets and another bowl of their extra special and healthy Chicken Soup for my evening meal.

Then it was off to find the motel, there in Waterloo, get checked in, and record today’s events.  As usual, there was nothing worth watching on TV, so I just called it a day and hit the hey.

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

 

Bill

 

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

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