Tag Archives: History

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—–

Hope For Our Country

4 Jul

My Take
DiVoran Lites

Happy Independence Day. Will you be having a cookout, going to a parade, going to the beach, setting off firecrackers, or sitting in the shade drinking lemonade? Author, Poet and ArtistMaybe all of the above?
I love our beautiful world and this country called America, which God has made. Some people may malign us, but at the same time others are doing everything in their power to come here for a new start. No red-blooded American is going to argue that we still have the greatest country in the world. Is it possible God had a hand in that?

I have to admit I am shocked when I hear some of the things politicians in this great country have done. Think of when they killed off the bison so the Indians would die out and when they deliberately infected Native Americans with smallpox so they could take their land.

It appalls me to learn more every day about how bad slavery was. Yet I personally met an African man who explained the scars carved in his cheeks by saying they were proof that he belonged to a tribe that had once captured other villages and sold them to become slaves. He and his wife were in America getting an education. If we focus on badness we will see it everywhere, not just here.
The Dust Bowl was a result of our leaders manipulating the mid-American grasslands until they were exhausted and turned to dust.

The Great Depression was influenced by the Dust Bowl and both came from foolish decisions by the money-mongers in the country, not by ordinary families.
I hear people talking as if they believe the present time is the worst in our history, but what I always wonder is whether those who experienced the disasters I’ve mentioned knew their own time was the worst in American history. It was and they did, but we want to remember this one thing. Our country is a survivor due to those little people that some leaders and officials think don’t count.

Who are we to believe, then? The gov? Or God?

My take is that we are making a mistake if we think politicians good or bad are in control. They are not. Guess who really is. Right, God. God has His plans and He will see that they are fulfilled, every single one of them whether we vote for Him or not. He does however appreciate our cooperation as he does His work through us.
While the events I’ve mentioned were deeply hurtful and themselves left terrible wounds, they have all passed. In 1956 President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation making the phrase, “In God We Trust,” the official motto of the United States and required it to be included on all U. S. currency. Do we believe it or don’t we? Taking it off the money will cost a lot, but won’t change the answer.

Voting is good. Voting is essential. Peaceful demonstrations are still legal as far as I know. We still have freedom of speech even though we are afraid we’re going to lose it. Signing petitions helps our elected officials know what we little people want. Telling the truth helps and so does morality. Trust and faith in God make us stronger, wiser, and happier. Let’s hear a cheer for the grassroots givers, teachers, helpers, mothers and fathers and the people who lift up holy hands in all kinds of service to their country. It is not we who are in charge, this is not our country, it is God’s country and He still has a plan for America.
“…the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night that the flag was still there.

For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

LUKE 14 : 11


14 Apr


 Judy Wills



My Aunt Jessie was a “collector” – of things.  She never married, so “things” became her main reason for living.  They were her enjoyment as well as her security blanket, I think.  But she also collected a variety of things that were unusual.  I’ll tell her story another time.

For now, I want to tell you about the doll.  Some of you may be old enough to remember – or have lived in a town large/small enough – that many women usually made or constructed their own clothing.  I was well into my teen years before I had any store-bought dresses.  Blue jeans, well yeah, those were garments we couldn’t sew ourselves.  But other items…..we purchased the fabric and sewed them up just to fit ourselves.

One of my favorite memories is going into the J.C. Penney’s store, and into the fabric department.  Round tables with bolt upon bolt of fabric standing upright, for our selection.  And usually, on top of that round table was a “model” doll – or mannequin –  with a dress or some type of garment made out of a sample of the fabric displayed on the table.  Someone was very crafty with their sewing machine!

don’t know when the J.C. Penney’s decided to discontinue the display on the mannequins, but I do know that Aunt Jessie was at the right place at the right time – and she acquired one of those dolls!  I have a picture of Aunt Jessie in 1950 in her house in San Antonio, Texas, with the mannequin in the background, so she had it a long time.



Eventually, she gave me that mannequin, and I was still young enough to play with it – dress it in the many different “outfits” that we had for her.

After Fred and I married and moved away, I left the mannequin with Mother.  At one point in time she owned and operated a cosmetic studio, and used the mannequin in her display window.  Very effective!















I still have that mannequin.  I’m hoping that one of my granddaughters will eventually like to have it.  It’s a unique piece of American history, and a very fond memory for me.


Our Trip to Italy~Part 6

10 Apr

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites




After leaving Verona, we drove over to Vicenza where we saw the Olympic Theater, which was designed by the famous Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio and constructed between 1580-1585.  The theatre was inaugurated on March 3, 1585, with a production of Sophocles’ “Oedipus the King.”



Then we toured the Monticello shaped residence, “Villa Capra La Rotonda” which was also designed by Andrea Palladio.  President George Washington selected the site for the future “President’s House” in 1791.  And then, interestingly, Thomas Jefferson anonymously submitted a design as part of the 1792 competition for the project, that was a variation on the Villa Rotonda.  That design was selected, and ultimately would become what we now know as the White House.   The first President to use the President’s House as his residence was President John Adams, and his wife Abigail, who moved into the  unfinished house in 1800.


On the last day of January, Marcia and Erika joined us for a 2½-hour first class train trip to the beautiful city of Florence.  With its many art galleries and museums, this ancient and beautiful city is known as the cradle of the Renaissance.  Founded around 50 BC, the city soon became an important trade center.  As the city grew, Byzantine walls were added to the Roman walls around 540 AD for protection.  Additional walls were also added from the 1st to the 13th centuries for additional protection of the inhabitants and commerce of the city.   Lorenzo the Magnificent ruled from 1469-1492, at the time considered to be Italy’s artistic highpoint.  In 1494 Florence surrendered to Charles VIII of France at Sarzana.  1865 Florence is made the capital of the newly united Kingdom of Italy, with King Vittorio Emmanuele being installed in Palazzo Pitti.


The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo) was magnificent.  Originally designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, construction began in 1296 AD.  During the next 140 years it took to complete the basic structure of the cathedral, many designers and architects added their inputs to the basic design.  When completed and consecrated, in 1436, the cathedral still had no dome.  Because of the many opinions at the time about the best dome design, it would be another 10 years before designer Filippo Brunelleschi won the design competition and began construction of the dome.  The conical roof was crowned with a gilt copper ball and cross, containing holy relics, by Verricchio in 1469.  The decorations of the drum gallery by Baccio d’Agnolo were never finished after being disapproved by none other than Michelangelo.



As can be seen in the picture above, across the piazza from the Duomo was the Baptistery of St. John, one of the oldest buildings in Florence, thought to have been built between 1059 & 1128 AD.  The Baptistery is renowned for its three sets of artistically important bronze doors with relief sculptures. The south doors were done by Andrea Pisano, the north and east doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti.  The east pair of doors were dubbed by Michelangelo as “The Gates of Paradise.”


The bronze-casting and gilding on the main entry doors was done by the Venetian Leonardo d’Avanzano, widely recognized as one of the best bronze smiths in Europe. It took him six years, with the doors being completed in 1336.  These proto-Renaissance doors consist of 28 quatrefoil panels, with the twenty top panels depicting scenes from the life of St. John the Baptist.  The eight lower panels depict the eight virtues of Hope, faith, charity, humility, fortitude, temperance, Justice and prudence.



—–To Be Continued—–


22 Mar
The Wonders of Nature
Louise Gibson
                                          I look through my kitchen window each day.
                                          Seeking, as I always do-
                                          All the signs of God’s presence
                                          In the soul-stirring scene that I view.
                                          It never ceases to amaze me
                                          That His presence is everywhere.
                                          The Easter Lilies are radiant,
                                          Postural,. as though in prayer.
                                           They are programmed to bloom at Easter,
                                           Then close for another year.
                                           Their role is to glorify the Saviour-
                                           Then silently disappear.
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