Tag Archives: History


22 Jul

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Dora Bell Dice Morgan

By Dora Jane Bedell Bowers and DiVoran Lites 

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park 

Pictures courtesy of Patricia Franklin

The Morgans were still in Breckenridge in May,1892, but their lives had not improved. In fact, things were falling apart for Dora Bell. One night when the two children were sound asleep in their corner of the cabin, Frank came home late and told her he’d been cavorting with the       chambermaid at the hotel. He was fed up with his job and would take the next train with the chamber maid.

That was bad enough, but Dora Bell was also pregnant and due in a couple of months. More practical than sentimental Dora Bell, knowing she would not be able to take care of three children on her own, begged Frank to take the other two with him. The chambermaid was probably as mixed up and confused as everyone else, but two half-grown children might not have been her cup of tea. She had no choice.

The town granny who had been midwife and herbalist the whole time Dora Bell lived there had been teaching Dora Bell about the healing herbs on the mountain. She learned names for the wildflowers and knew where the best herbs were to be found and how to use them and what to use     them for. Even wild blackberry leaves and raspberry leaves had important uses for common diseases such as typhoid fever.

Pictures courtesy of Patricia Franklin

Mz Jones as the granny was called delivered Dora Bell’s last baby-May Bell. Eventually, the spelling was changed to Mabel. 

Dora Bell had a difficult delivery, one which would leave her in pain for the rest of her life. Nowadays we call it prolapse. But she had to support herself and Mabel the best she could. She cooked, cleaned, ciphered and read. She crocheted and embroidered. She worked in restaurants, hotels, and saloons to earn money to keep herself and her daughter alive. The women of the mining camp helped each other the best they could sharing their meager supplies. Winter, however, was freezing cold and snowy. It must have been hard to have enough winter clothes and galoshes to keep their feet warm and dry. There was a matter of fuel for the wood-burning stove and wind coming into the cracks of the house. Mud was a big factor and living on a hillside made a slippery problem. Dora Bell maintained the house the best she could.

Mabel turned out to be a sweet little girl, but she was never hearty. When she was eight years old, she got typhoid fever and had to quit school. Third grade was all the formal education she ever had, but at least she could read and write well enough to get along. 

Pictures courtesy of Patricia Franklin

Dora Bell taught Mabel everything she learned about herbs and they often climbed the mountain to find wild-flowers that could be used for remedies. That helped their finances because if other mining families could manage to, they paid in homegrown and homemade commodities. 

There was nowhere for Dora Bell and Mabel to go and no one who cared about them except the friends they had made on the mountain. In a few years, however, things would change.

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.”

New Neighbors

24 Jun

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Story by Dora Bowers

Not long after the Pueblo flood of 1921, Dad rented a small house in Canon City. Some of the neighbors were close to my age. I remember Jessica Redmond who came to America from England with her parents. Jessica had bright red hair. Her mother gave me Jessica’s pink silk dress because of that hair. The dress had tucks and embroidery and was the most beautiful dress I had ever seen. That is how I learned that no self-respecting red-head would ever wear a pink dress because at that time people believed that pink and red would clash. My light brown hair, though, was just right for it. 

Pink Silk Dress       DiVoran’s Vintage Pictures

The other neighbor’s child was a curly-headed boy with sparkling blue eyes who teased me and made me laugh. His name was Ivan Bowers. Ivan and his parents and brother had ended up in Canon City after a long trip from Illinois and a sojourn in Paonia, Colorado where his grandmother had died and been buried before they left.  

It wasn’t long until the Bowers and the Bedell families left the block of houses where they lived in order to start their own businesses. Marie and Ira Bowers bought a barber/beauty shop on Main Street that included living quarters. Ivan and his younger brother, Lowell helped out with the chores of keeping up the beauty shop, but Ivan would run next door to the machine garage any chance he got and from there he developed many of the skills he would use such as welding and car repair throughout his life. 

Welded Ship by Ivan Bowers  Photo, DiVoran’s Vintage Pictures

Marie, Ivan, Lowell, and Ira at the side of the machine shop DiVoran’s Vintage Pictures

DiVoran’s Vintage Pictures

Around the same time, my mother and dad, Mabel and Roger Bedell bought an apple orchard on the outskirts of town.  During the Great Depression neither family lacked food or a place to live. People would always need haircuts and as for my parents who took in relatives such as my mother’s sister and company, we always had eggs from the chickens, milk from the cows, and vegetables from the garden.

As I grew I was given more jobs on the farm. At first, I gathered eggs, but then I started bringing the cows in for milking. That reminds me of something that happened at school one day when I was twelve years old: I got up from my desk and walked to the pencil sharpener at the back of the room. As I passed one of the boys whistled softly then whispered, “Would you look at the swing in that gate!” I knew he meant the way my hips swayed when I walked, and I was mortified!. That evening as I followed the cows from the meadow to the barn I put my hands in the back pockets of my overhauls and started re-training my walk so that nobody would make fun of me ever again.

Dora in her overhauls at twelve and the baby sister she prayed for plus a young neighbor.  DiVoran’s Vintage Pictures

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.”

Floods Sweep over Eastern Colorado 1921

17 Jun

My Take

DiVoran Lites

The New York Times June 3, 1921

Pueblo, Colorado Inundated, Hundreds Reported Dead 

Story by Dora Bedell Bowers

My cousin, Lloyd had his birthday on June 3, 1921. We were then both six years old. I have a picture of the two of us from around that time. We were the same height and we wore identical blue rompers. Our hair was cut in Dutch Bobs with every strand in place. My mother, my brother, and I had come to Pueblo to stay with Grandmother and Daddy Hunter while my father was working as the manager of the gas plant in Canon City. We would join him when he found a place for the family to live. 

We were in Lloyd’s mother’s upstairs apartment gazing at the birthday cake sitting on the table in front of an open window. We could hardly wait to get our forks into that cake. Suddenly we heard a hullabaloo of sirens, church bells, factory whistles, and shouting from the street below. Daddy Hunter ran down to see what was going on and discovered that a telephone call had from upriver at Canon City with a warning that Pueblo was about to be flooded by the Arkansas River and a tributary that had joined it.  Daddy Hunter hustled us downstairs and into the wagon where his horse Big Bill waited patiently. I’d never seen Daddy Hunter hit anything before, but he used the whip to get Big Bill galloping up the street to higher ground. That night we and hundreds of other people slept or tried to sleep on the floors of the schoolhouse that sat on a hill. We learned later, that although there were many miracles and generous-hearted people who saved others, the death toll eventually rose to 1,500.

The next day we heard that men from Canon City were coming to help clean up after the flood. My daddy was one of them. Six years before, around the time I was born, Mother and Dad had lived in a small house across the railroad tracks from the Pueblo gas plant and Daddy had worked there. There was talk of him being a good man in a pinch and I was so proud of him. He brought four men from Canon City in a Model T Ford to help clean up and reorganize the Pueblo gas plant. When they got there they discovered that the holder where the manufactured gas was stored had sunk into the muck and had to be lifted and resettled. 

Better times, Roger, Dora’s Daddy, Vera her aunt, Dora, Mabel, her mother and Dora Bell, her grandmother.  DiVoran’s Vintage Pictures

That first day at the school I looked up and saw my daddy walking toward us through the crowd. I ran to meet him. There he stood, tall and straight. He was about 5 foot eleven and always weighed one hundred forty- four pounds. He was dressed as he always dressed in well-shined black Bulldog boots that had a rounded toe and laced to the ankle. He wore striped work pants, a blue shirt, and a one-inch long black string tie. He parted his thick chestnut hair on the side. He had blue eyes and big ears. When he saw me, he got a silly grin on his face and picked me up and swung me around. After he set me down, I put my small hand into his big one and kept it there while he talked to the other adults. My only thought was, daddy’s here, and I’m safe. 

The next morning we ventured out to see what we could see. The river was still in full spate roiling up under the nearby bridge until I was afraid people standing on it would be swept off and drowned. I learned later that it had happened just as I had feared. The muddy yellow water contained all kinds of debris, including dead horses and cows. We saw bedraggled bouquets that had been set out in the cemetery for Decoration Day. The water had swept them off the graves and into the raging flood. We half expected to see dead bodies come rolling down the river. It was scary but I knew my daddy could look after all of us.

When we were sure the danger was past, we went to Grandmother and Daddy Hunter’s rooms to bathe and put on clean clothes. We were surprised that even though the two-story building sat by itself on the low ground everything was just as it had been when we left to go to the party. There was the old rocking chair with its homemade cushion, and the coal-oil lamps ready to light as soon as it began to get dark. After our baths, Lloyd and I walked the block to Dammeron’s where we bought red and black licorice sticks, one for a penny.

When the family got together for our belated supper at Lloyd’s house, Auntie told us what she found when she got home. The first thing was the high-water mark at the second story level.. When she actually got into her apartment she was amazed to see that the cake had floated off the table and out the window. My mother said that we could have been swept out just as easy if we hadn’t got away. We were so grateful for the warning and for our escape. The watermark remained on that building for decades and it could still be there as far as I know.

More about the Great Flood of 1921

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. Isaiah 43:2 New Living Translation

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.”

Smoky Never Won

30 Apr

My Take

DiVoran Lites


DiVoran on Smoky, , Granddad holding Smoky, Daddy’s legs



Smoky was Grandad’s Horse
Bought when G. moved to Colorado.
He and grandmother joined
The saddle club and
When they gave up riding
I got Grandmother’s boots.
When Granddad was a guard at the prison
Smoky was a runner
My Daddy was the jockey
Thin and spare
Good rider, but never won.

Warden, Granddad’s boss, Sir!
Had horses too and ran them
He picked the prisoners to ride
Vicious men who had to win.
Warden told Dad to hold Smoky back.
Dad asked if just once
He could get a fair chance.
Warden said, “Not on your life!”
Everybody knew who to bet on.
And Smoky never won.


2 Apr

My Take

DiVoran Lites





Every fall before school started
Mother took me to The May Co.
In Denver where they had a
Perfume fountain in which I dipped
My fingers and got a stern look
From a clerk. Well, what’s perfume for?
And I’d had a bath before we got there.
We ordered clothes so that they came
To our small town at the foot of
The Sangre de Cristo range.
On the mail truck.

When Daddy was away in the war
Fabric was rationed.
So, Mother and Grandmother
Took old clothes from
The attic and made dresses and pants
For my brother and me.
One time I was so tired of standing
For pinning up hems that I
Ripped the a dress from top to bottom
And ran out of the room.

Many years later, I had a toddler daughter
Who needed pretty clothes.
Why don’t I make some?
Oh, because I can’t sew.
So I signed up for a night
Class at the high school
And left our daughter at home with her daddy.

Our sewing teacher came from Hungary
With an elegant accent.
With a long history of European Couture
She knew everything about
How clothes had to be assembled.
Rip instead of cutting to get a
Straight piece.
Lay the pattern just so…
To take up the least
Amount of material
Line a jacket with satin, and
Hem the lining separately
Above all, match the natches
(Which we called notches.)
Cut one garment at a time
Cheap ready-to-wear pieces are
Cut in piles with power scissors
Which make the drape warped
When sewn together
Sew in the new invisible zippers by
Hand, not on the Singer.
Innovation is fine, sloppiness is not.

Then Bill and I had a little boy and
When he was two
I made matching sailor suits
For him and his sister
From quality gray gabardine—
Wide collars with red rickrack
And stars in each corner.
I wished that Mother and Grandmother
Could see my work
But by then, they were far away.

America’s North Country Trip~Part 5

11 Oct

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites





Day 5 (Tuesday)

This morning I headed west again on I-94 a short distance, to visit the Fort Lincoln Trolley Co. located in Mandan, ND. This is an attraction that utilizes 1890s open-air trolleys that travel from the old Third Street Station in downtown Mandan to the Fort Lincoln State Park and back. Since they weren’t open and I didn’t have the time to wait for the next trolley (1:00pm), I saved that ride for another trip.



While I was there in Mandan, I decided to check out the North Dakota State Railroad Museum. This turned out to be another small museum which was also closed. Their website indicates the museum displays mostly local railroad memorabilia; however, they do have several nicely restored items of rolling stock outside.



On the way to my next museum, I saw a sign for the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and decided to stop in and see what it was all about. The park is located in western North Dakota where the Great Plains meet the rugged Badlands. There wasn’t much to see from the Visitor’s Center, and I didn’t want to take the time to drive around the “Loop” which would have passed the Maltese Cross Cabin where President Roosevelt once lived.


After using the restroom there at the Visitor’s Center, I continued west for a visit at the Cowboy Hall of Fame Museum located in Medora, ND. This museum tells the story of the northwest plains horse and cattle culture which is a unique way of life in western America, and includes the Native Americans of the area, Western Ranching and Rodeo history.





In the Rodeo Hall of Fame Inductees area I saw several photos mentioning the “North Dakota Six Pack” of Rodeo champions spanning the 1850s-1960s, when North Dakota rodeo riders ruled the National Rodeo Circuit. When I asked the curator where I could find additional information about these men, she directed me to the “Cowboy Café down the street, where the wife of one of the sons of a “Six pack” was the owner.




So I walked down to the Cowboy Café and ordered one of their special Buffalo Burgers. I asked the waitress if the owner was there, and she said she would get her from the kitchen. It turned out that she was the daughter of Thomas J. Tescher, who was one of the “North Dakota Six Pack” champions. His family had been cattle ranchers there in North Dakota for generations. She was very nice and gave me a quick run-down of the family history and their involvement in the National Rodeo Circuit. Her father, Tom, one of 15 Tescher children, entered his first rodeo at age 17 and went on to be ranked in the top 10 saddle bronc riders from 1955 to 1958, and qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in Dallas in 1959.



Note: “The North Dakota Six Pack” was a group of North Dakota rodeo competitors who dominated the national rodeo scene during the 1950s and 1960s. They included (L to R Below) Tom Tescher, Duane Howard, Dean Armstrong, Joe Chase, Jim Tescher, and Alvin Nelson.



With a full tummy, I now headed west again, crossing the border into Montana, to visit the Wibaux Railroad Museum located in the little town of Wibaux, MT. This museum turned out to be one train car (the museum) one caboose, and a monument sign telling about Pierre Wibaux, the founder of the town of Wibaux.



Heading west again, I next visited the Frontier Gateway Museum located in Glendive, MT. This was a small museum that was a mix of displays including fossils recovered from the local area, Native American artifacts, homesteader’s items, settler’s tools, cattlemen’s paraphernalia, and Northern Pacific railroad information.



Located just down the street was the Glendive Dinosaur & Fossil Museum. This museum has more than 23 full-sized dinosaur and fossil exhibits. It claims to be the largest dinosaur and fossil museum in the United States to present its fossils in the context of biblical history. This unique museum also sponsors “Dig-for-a-day” fossil digs in the badlands close to Glendive, which gives participants an opportunity to experience paleontology first hand as they learn how to identify, collect and interpret fossils from a Biblical creationist’s perspective.



While I was in Glendive, I stopped by to check out the Makoshika State Park. The word Makoshika (Ma-ko-shi-ka) is a variant spelling of the Lakota phrase meaning “bad land” or “bad spirits.” The park was closed and from the map at the visitor’s center, there didn’t seem to be much to see. So I headed for the motel, to get checked-in and look for a place to eat.



The motel clerk recommended CC’s Family Café down the road, so I headed that way and enjoyed their delicious Ground Beef Steak dinner which included green beans, mashed potatoes & gravey with Apple Crisp for dessert. Very satisfying!



—–To Be Continued—–

Circuitous Travel~Part 6

1 Oct


Judy Wills




The following day was a busy one for us, as we made our way to London and the B&B where we were scheduled to stay for a week.

We left Llangollen and drove to Bath.


Credit Google Search and All That Is Interesting


We were fascinated by the Roman ruins of Bath. We didn’t know a lot about Bath – except for the fact that the Romans built public baths – but from Google search, I found:

Bath is a town set in the rolling countryside of southwest England, known for its natural hot springs and 18th-century Georgian architecture. Honey-coloured Bath stone has been used extensively in the town’s architecture, including at Bath Abbey, noted for its fan-vaulting, tower and large stained-glass windows. The museum at the site of the original Roman-era Baths includes The Great Bath, statues and a temple.


Credit Google Search and Everything Everywhere Travel Blog



I’m not sure we even knew there was Bath Abbey, universities, and other sites to visit. If we were to visit there now, we would take more time to see everything we could.


Credit Google Search and Pinterest


Being a great King Arthur fan, I was interested to learn, again from Google search, that

Bath may have been the site of the Battle of Badon ©. AD 500), in which King Arthur is said to have defeated the Anglo-Saxons. Hmmm.   I also found: Edgar of England was crowned king of England in Bath Abbey in 973, in a ceremony that formed the basis of all future English coronations.

I also found that Jane Austen lived in Bath with her father, mother, and sister Cassandra for five years – 1801-1806, and several of her books take place in Bath.

I really love this history stuff!!

Moving on…we had heard of/read about Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain for many years, so that was a “must see” on our list of things to do while in England.


Credit Google Search and EnglishHeritage.org


And so that was our next stop – Amesbury and Stonehenge. After having the stones described as “monoliths,” we were a bit disappointed to find that they weren’t as enormous as we thought they might be. Yes, they are huge, but not the towering stones we thought they would be. However, they were still quite impressive to us.




According to Englishheritage.org, Stonehenge is perhaps the world’s most famous prehistoric monument. It was built in several stages: the first monument was an early henge monument, built about 5,000 years ago, and the unique stone circle was erected in the late Neolithic period about 2500 BC. In the early Bronze Age many burial mounds were built nearby.


Again, being a King Arthur fan, I was amused to see that many say the magician Merlin built Stonehenge. However, other sources say that he just added the headstone, and honored Ambrosius with it. So many speculations.

They also mentioned that Stonehenge has been the site of burials from its earliest time. It was also mentioned that the Salisbury Plain has been a sacred site in England for centuries.

While we weren’t able to walk around and through the standing stones, we were able to get more up close and personal that if we visited today. We’ve seen pictures of the area with a fence around it, to protect it from vandals. Pity.

Following our time at Stonehenge, we headed on to London. We dropped off our luggage at the Allen’s house, then drove to Heathrow to turn in our rental car. We then had supper at Heathrow and took the Tube to Kew Gardens, where the Allen’s house is located.

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~




Tin Cup

3 Dec

A Few Thoughts

Patricia Franklin


Tin Cup is a very special place.  It is a unique, old fashioned little mining town in Gunnison County, Colorado.  I’m not sure if anyone lives there year round, but the old homes and cabins are all occupied in the summer.

I love their cemetery most of all.  A little creek runs through it and you have to cross over some little hills and a little bridge and follow a little path to reach the different parts of the cemetery.

One hill is Jewish, one Protestant, one Catholic, and then the last one is Boot Hill the final resting place of criminals and nondenominationals. The unique graves and tombstones are fabulous.  Famous people, infamous persons and paupers are all buried there.  One man’s grave had a stump at the head of it with an old tin cup sitting on top.  I’ve seen the cup every time I’ve visited the cemetery. I’m sure almost everyone who passes by has picked it up and set it back down again.

In the cemetery, up a long hill, we saw a single gravestone inside a rail fence, so we walked up the hill to look at it. The name on it was Kate Fisher. Later we heard her story. She had been the only black person in town, she had fed and sheltered the community in her rooming house, but the cemetery was segregated, so she had to be buried alone. She was well-loved and revered, so I like to think her grave was above the others because she was so special to the miners.

The old jailhouse is still there. Someone bought it and made it into a home.  The bars are still on the windows of the tiny cabin.  We took a picture of it when we were there, but that has been at least a couple of years ago.  I don’t know where the picture would be.

There is a legend about how Tin Cup was named:  A man dipped a tin cup in the stream and discovered gold-dust and sand at the bottom of the cup.   I bet you could find something at the library or on the internet.  There is a beautiful lily pond on the other side of the town, just a little way from the main (dirt) road.  You have to know where it is to find it, as you can’t see it from the road.  I love this place.

Please see pictures at http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/co/Tin Cup.html










Does History Matter

10 Nov

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I wrote this post during the mid-afternoon on election day. At this point, I have no idea who the winner will be.

I grew up thinking everyone’s family listened to the week day six o’clock news and discussed the world and local events of the day. I assumed everyone’s parents knew the history of political candidates. Take for instance Mitt Romney and Al Gore’s fathers. George W.Romney was the Governor of Michigan and ran for the Republican nomination for President in 1968 and lost to Richard Nixon. Al Gore’s father, Albert Gore Sr. was a Democratic Senator from Tennessee. I can’t remember exactly why my parents were not fans of these men, but I do remember they had doubts about them.

My parents, especially my dad, had one habit that I found maddening. Growing up in the rock and roll generation I was sure “my” music was brand new, not that old stuff he listened to. He often burst my bubble by naming the individual or group who had first recorded a song.  He knew the songs history and he shared it with me.  That may have scarred my psyche, as for the life of me, I can’t tell you who the recording artists are for most songs. I DO know that my obscure favorite, Little Black Egg was a one hit wonder by the Nightcrawlers! (Should you click the link, don’t judge me. I was a 13 yr old whose brother had a band. I am sure there was some subliminal sibling angst going on.)

Over the course of the election season, I came to realize my childhood was not necessarily typical, although for the time it may have been. I read posts and comments that indicated some people who were voting  had no idea of  history and worse yet, no interest in it. I’m not talking about memorizing dates, but learning who did what and why. For instance, Al Gore’s father was on the board of Occidental Petroleum. Did that affect his stance on the environment?   Whether we like it or not, we have a political class and they have history. It is not enough to listen to sound bites and political videos to  make a good decision. A catchy slogan does not make a good leader.

I spent a lot of time praying over this election and regardless of who won, I intend to continue praying. Our new President will need wisdom to navigate the pitfalls awaiting our country and I know the one who gives it freely. Do you?


.November 11, 2016 is Veteran’s day. Thank you to all who served and protected our freedom.  A special thanks to a veteran I have never met, Forrest J. Sterling. He is the author of Wake of the Wahoo, The Heroic Story of America’s Most Daring WWII Submarine, USS Wahoo. The Wahoo disappeared during the war and it’s remains were not discovered until 2006 in La Perouse Straight. Sterling served on the ship until its final mission. Because of his book, I know what life was like on the fighting submarine my uncle, Howell Holmes served and died on. It fills in a missing piece of family history. My regret is that my dad was not alive to finally know what happened to his baby brother.

Our Trip to the UK~Part 6

7 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites


 The B & B guidebook neglected to mention the fact that our next overnight stop was at a pig farm, and we found the smell was overwhelming.  But, we figured that since we would be gone most of the day, we could stand the smell long enough to get to sleep at night.  The rehearsal lasted a little longer than we had expected, and then we got lost in the fog on the way back to the B & B.  When we finally got there, we found our suitcases on the front stoop.  Our hostess informed us she had reserved her only room to a family (who weren’t sure when they would be there) before we got there, and now they had showed up and she felt obligated to give them the room.  She said she had made a reservation for us at a friend’s B & B down the road and she was expecting us.  We were just a little miffed, as you might expect, but the family was already asleep in our bed, so we loaded up our bags and went down the road.  When we got there, we couldn’t believe our eyes!  It was the nicest, cleanest accommodations we could have ever asked for.  We thought, “Isn’t God good to us, moving us to this beautiful B & B, and at the same price as that smelly pig farm.” 



The next day we headed northeast, through some of the most beautiful and exquisite Welch towns and landscapes you can imagine, and then finally, crossed back into England.  This time we headed for the county town of Warwick, to visit one of the most famous English fortresses, Warwick castle.  Warwick Castle was a med-evil fortress, developed from an original fortress, built by William the Conqueror in 1068, and is situated at a bend in the River Avon in Warwickshire.   During the centuries that followed, the use and miss-use of the fortress and its lands traditionally belonged to the ruling Earl of Warwick, and served as a symbol of his power.  Then, during the 15th and 16th centuries, as ownership of the castle and the lands associated with the earldom were passed back and forth from various earls, and The Crown, portions of the fortress were slowly converted for use as a castle.  But, during much of this time no one in particular wanting to foot the cost of keeping up repairs or restoring the structures, so by 1600 the castle, ended up in a state of disrepair.



In 1604, Warwick castle and its lands were given to the Sir Fulke Greville (1st Lord Brooke) by James I.  Over the years, Greville spent  £20,000 (£3 million today) making many improvements to the castle, one being to  convert a portion of the castle into his residence, which was typical of many of the castle conversions taking place during that time period.



Individuals have been visiting the castle since the end of the 17th century, and this practice grew in importance through the 19th century.  Then, during the 20th century, successive earls expanded its tourism potential until, in 1978, after 374 years in the Greville family, it was sold to the Tussauds Group, a media and entertainment company,who opened it as a tourist attraction.



The castle tour was wonderful, with representations dating from mid-evil times to the early 20th century.  There were collections of mid-evil suits of armor and war weapons inside, and staged jousting matches on the courtyard grounds during the summer months, weather permitting.



The interior rooms are decorated for various periods, with wax figures dressed in period attire, and even a recording of a famous opera singer in the grand ballroom.  The furnishings are beautiful and help one to get an idea of how the inhabitants lived and worked during the various times depicted.  As an example, in 1898, Frances Countess of Warwick, who was more affectionately known as Daisy, hosted a lavish weekend party for many of society’s elite, at the castle, in which the principal guest was the Prince of Wales, who would later become Edward VII.  Much of the Grand Ballroom authentic furniture and furnishings depict the grandeur that those guests would have experienced at such a party



DiVoran loved the various costumes, including the scene of a maid getting one of the children ready for his bath in one of the upstairs rooms.  As part of our tour, we climbed the 200 steps, to the top of one of the towers, and DiVoran thought she would never get her breath back.  Of course, it didn’t bither me a bit.





—–To Be Continued—–

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