Monday, December 30, 2013

And in Closing...

Happy New Year, dear followers and first time readers.  Can you believe this is my last blog of 2013?  Where has the year gone?  No one cares about great beginnings.  No cliche exists that says " famous first words."  Some fifty topics ago, the year was just in its infancy.  Mentor was beginning a year long anniversary trek.  Perry was looking towards its milestone dates.  Lake County added another year to its history with unique events in Willoughby, Fairport, and Madison.  Later seemed far off.  Yet later is a sneaky little devil.  It just slipped in and stole all the I was, you were - gonna dos in 2013.  A few days remain to see the nativtity scenes in Historic Kirtland.  Holiday displays still welcome visitors at Lake Metroparks PG and Farmpark sites.  However, if you are not careful 2014 will be in the words of lovable baseball philosopher Yogi Berra 'deja vu all over again.'

All of us have free time during the course of the year.  Some have extra free time over the holidays.  Some have  free time in the spring, summer, or fall months- if not, pencil some in your monthly planner for 2014.  In Lake County, we are surrounded by outstanding parks, museums, and historic dwellings.  Our museums are outstanding venues for generational visits.  Where else can you climb 69 steps in a lighthouse tower and view sunsets, freighters, eagles, and more of Lake Erie's treasures?  Where else can you step back into time and walk the same halls as our one time Lake County resident and US President- James A. Garfield?  Remnants of Millionaires Row await you as you drive thru Wickliffe.  Downtown Willoughby offers so many tid-bits of history that each needs its own section.  From its Indian Museum to its famous ghost stories, Willoughby is well worth the visit.  Many museums offer tours, private and school.  All host unique programming throughout the year.  Hours vary as many are non-profits and manned entirely by volunteers.  Yet many are open late during the year.  Many have weekend hours, and all can accomodate your specific needs and wishes.

Visit Lake County institutions with family, friends in 2014.  Plan a day at a Historic Lake County Alliance site.  Take a winter hike with a camera in our parks.  More importantly consider volunteering at a venue of your choosing.  As another year ends, remember the lessons of the past.  We don't really see the end coming, even though we know it's looming, a great gateway to another year is at hand.  So as 2014 arrives, like the end of another blog, we all have places to be.  May 2014 be your best year yet and hopefully I will see you at all our I -was -gonnas for 2014.

For more information on Lake County's Historic Venues visit-

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Traditions, Mirth and some

                              "...What if Christmas...doesn't come from a store.
                              What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
                                                         --Dr. Seuss, How The Grinch Stole Christmas!

With Christmas a mere two days away, it is easy to fall prey to the commercial trappings of the season.  What once began the day after Thanksgiving has now morphed into a holiday season that rears its head well before Halloween.  Who can forget these classic holiday moments? The Peanuts Gang celebrating Christmas by caroling and exploring a true meaning of the day.  The animated tale of Rudolph remains an annual favorite on TV.  Scrooge's story resonated in the classrooms of my students for over two decades. I am sure many other students read the same Dickens classic in their schools too.   Nativity Scenes in Historic Kirtland have garnered country-wide attention.  With over 20 years history behind it -Santa, an elf toyshop, and Country Lights have sold out in mere days for Lake Metroparks.  Even the Grinch makes an annual visit to a lighthouse in Fairport Harbor.  Today let's examine some different traditions from around the world.

Some Holidays Traditions From Around The Globe-
  • Austria celebrates the Feast of Saint Nicholas with traditional baked carp.
  • In Denmark, Christmas is a time when Nisse, a mischievous elf heads out and enjoys playing jokes.  Families leave a bowl of porridge to avoid his worst pranks.
  • Flaming plum puddings, and one with a favor baked in it await those seeking good luck in Australia.
  • St. Nicholas travels by boat with his little helper Black Peter in Holland.
  • Mattack, whale skin with blubber interiors are eaten at Christmastime in Greenland.
  • In Sweden a little brownie, or ultomen helps Santa deliver gifts.
  • In Bulgaria, Christmas Eve is the most important holiday and 12 dish meals are a tradition, all without meat.
  • Taffy making and esiteddfodde (carols) are part of Wales festive customs.
  • In Spain tiny oil lamps are lit in homes.  'Jota' - dancing in the streets is also part of the midnight celebrations.
  • LaPosada, a reenactment of that first night is a main tradition in Mexico.
  • In Canada Santa has his own zip code- ho,ho,ho.
 Some Holiday Mirth or corny Elf on the Shelf Jokes

What's another name for Santa's helpers?                (subordinate clauses)
What do you call a stingy elf?                                  (elf-ish)
How do you describe a wealthy elf?                        ( Welfy)
If athletes get athlete's foot, what do elves get?       (Mistle- Toes)
What do you call a wound that is caused by being hammered by an elf?  (It's Elf-inflicted)

What do you call a Santa Claus that does not move?   (Santa Pause)
What goes "oh,oh,oh?"                                             (Santa walking backwards)

And to all...
Merry Christmas          Joyeux Noel           Frohe Weihnachten       Feliz Navidad

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Birthday Times - Mentor Celebrates 50th Birthday on December 18

The city of Mentor was officially born on December 18, 1963.  As its 50th Anniversary Year comes to and end, let's look back at the year 1963 and some historic facts from Mentor's beginnings.  

News from 1963
  • The nation mourns the loss of President Kennedy.  Lyndon B. Johnson assumes the presidency - no vice president
  • LBJ spoke at the Lincoln Memorial ending a month of mourning for JFK.
  • The Beverly Hillbillies and Hazel were the top rated TV shows.
  • The L.A. Dodgers led by Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale defeat the NY Yankees in the World Series.
  • Cape Canaveral changed its name to Cape Kennedy.
  • The Beatles score a #1 hit with I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND.
  • Bobby Fischer became a 5x chess champion.
  • USC defeats Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl
  • Jean Nidetch founded Weight Watchers
  • Cassettes for tape recorders and Kodak Instamatic Cameras were introduced
  • Polaroid introduced color film.  Color TV relayed by satellite for the first time
  • Jackie Meyer from Sandusky, Ohio is Miss America
  • MLK speech I HAVE A DREAM is shared for the first time.
  • Bell Telephone introduced touch tone phones.
  • Zip Codes become the norm.
  • Gasoline cost a quarter per gallon.
People sharing Mentor's Birthday or age
  • Betty Grable, 1916
  • Ty Cobb, 1886
  • Steven Spielberg, 1947 
  • Robert Moses, 1888
  • Fischer Quintuplets
  • Tatum O'Neal
  • Spudd Webb
Ohio in 1963
  • James Rhodes is Governor
  • Pro Football HOF becomes a reality and destined for Canton, Ohio
  • Cleveland Public Schools desegregation crisis draws national attention.
Mentor in 1963
  • Robert Brewer becomes the first mayor
  • Robert Moon serves as first city manager
  • Mentor Council members were Alfred G. Howells, Joseph A. Atzberger, Robert P. Brewer, Ken B. Freeman, Edwin Harriger, Richard Kostic, Leonard Shrewsbury, Francis M. Osborne, Donald E. Krueger.
Happy Birthday Mentor and many more!

Monday, December 9, 2013

My Christmas Gift to You -- The Ideal Bookshelf

 In 1843 Dickens wrote a little story in but six weeks time about a man named Scrooge.  A few years later in Victorian England, "Holiday Card' traditions began in earnest.  The legend of St. Nick continued to spread from its humble beginnings in the third century to various European countries with newer twists and names.  Trees and decorating took on new patterns by the early 1600's.  Years later, post WWI veterans brought many of these traditions to America upon their return.  As the 2013 Holiday Season ramps up and Santa's list records all the usual gift requests, let us consider the following books for our home library.  Here are my thoughts on the gift of print.

The books that we choose to keep and display-let alone read- can say a lot about who we are and how we are remembered.  These books define our dreams and ambitions and in many cases retrace our steps along the way.  Our personal libraries reveal our true nature.  Much has been made as of late about the demise of print.  Sadly, it is true.  Large box stores like Borders are gone.  Daily newspapers are nearly extinct, some appearing but two to three times a week.  Social media, not even a decade old has trumped the printed word for all future generations.  Old photos and print will become phantoms on the shelves.  Luckily for us, the local historical societies in Lake County remain the lifelong accumulators of books both past and modern, live in houses large enough to accommodate hundreds of books and documents, as well as take in any overspill from the former libraries of friends and donors.  As the holiday season approaches, here is a list of my ideal bookshelf.  Each book serves as part cataloging manual, part homage to community history, adventure story and autography of our hometowns then and now.  With special thanks to the authors and historical societies whose efforts preserved our past- here is a totally incomplete list.  Happy collecting – let the biblio-lunacy continue.

Images of America – Madison, 2010 - Denise Michaud
Images of America- Willoughby, 2012 - Christina Wilkinson
Here is Lake County, 1964 – Janice and Barbara Cooper, Jack Daniels, et al.
Lake County 1871-1960, 2009 – Lake County Historical Society
History of Kirtland, 1982 – Anne B. Prusha
Mentor, The First 200 years, 1997
History of Mentor Headlands and Vicinity, 1957
By the Buckeye, 1984
Fairport Harbor, 1976 – Fairport Harbor Historical Society
Images of America-Fairport Harbor, 2003 – Fairport Harbor Historical Society
Roses to Retail (Mentor), 2011 – Barbara Snell Davis
Mentor-A Retrospective, 1988

Monday, December 2, 2013

Merry Grinchmas...Yule Love This Week

                     "...What if Christmas...doesn't come from a store.
                     What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."

This classic quote the 1966 animated story by Ted Geisel, aka. Dr. Suess never resonates more than this week in Lake County.  Here are three more family activities to highlight your holiday season, plus a bonus for the children.  All can be free events for the entire family.

Harbor Holidays & The Grinch  December 7 - Fairport Harbor
For over a decade now this event has been another best kept secret in Lake County.  Harbor Holidays was an event conceived by the local merchants association to offer a unique day of shopping and eating to the community.  The school, local churches, both museums, and all businesses open their doors to share the season.  Arts, crafts, and local cultural foods are available for sampling and purchase.  The Grinch steals his way into Fairport from 10-4pm appearing at each venue in search of presents and some Suessian mayhem.  His appearance at the Fairport Harbor Public Library at mid-day is an annual family favorite.  At 6pm the Grinch may be seen atop the iconic 1871 lighthouse tower where he recites the classic tale of 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas.'  Photos with Santa follows and the stolen gifts are donated to the local FHPD and VFW sponsored 'Fill the Cruiser' for Toys for Tots campaign.

'Unto Us A Son is Given'  November 29-January 5 - Historic Kirtland
A not to be missed event featuring over 600 nativity scenes and thousands of sparkling holiday lights adorns the campus of Historic Kirtland and its Mormon Migration site.  From 'family treasure' type nativities to some truly special creations, these nativities are well worth the drive.  Highlights in 2013 include the nativity by Norbert Kohen of South Euclid and the Croation Nativity made by a WWII refugee.

Miracle on Erie Street, Stroll & Festival  December 5-8  - Downtown Willoughby
Longing for a more simpler time?  Remembering downtown Cleveland and Halle's window displays?  Well this annual event in downtown Willoughby will kindle old memories or create new ones.  A lighthing ceremony, auctions, and small merchant storefront shopping experiences are just steps away as you travel the main streets on your stop in Willoughby.

Bonus for Children:
            Recycle, Reuse, Rejoice - Holiday Stories and Fun   

The Fairport Harbor Public Library will feature its annual daily reading garden and craft events on the following dates.  No registration is required, all are welcome. Multiple time slots are offered- call 354-8191 for details.
Let There Be Peace on Earth - December 3-5
Trees and Candlelight - December 10-12
Happy Holidays to All - December 17-19