70 years old!

Celebrating 70 years anniversary retro label with red ribbon, ve

About 2 weeks ago on July 24, I turned 70 years old. Lot of people wrote wishing me Happy Birthday, hoping I had a great day. Sorry to write, but I didn’t. Several weeks earlier I returned from a visit to Jerry and Kate Alonzo in Geneseo, NY and a few Finger Lakes days in Ithaca. I developed an intestinal bowel infection? It didn’t end the trip but I was uncomfortable. A trip to my GP, resulted in an antibiotic and tests which came up negative. But my stomach remained upset, I had limited appetite and sat in my recliner much of many days. Ten days later a second doc suggested the stomach may be off due to the antibiotics. A week later it’s almost normal. I mean I had a lobster roll for lunch today. But it’s not 100%. Can the Cape be my tonic?

I need what for years I called “Nantucket Time.” Turn off the news. Trump’s constant twitter and crazy domination of the news which I almost always disagree with takes its psychological toll. I need to forget the consistently growing list of what I need to do — doctor appointments, house projects, getting rid of  stuff. Retirement shouldn’t be stressful. The days are numbered till we reach September.

I spent a quiet Sunday at the house on Ayer’s Pond in Orleans at the elbow on the Cape. It’s secluded. Quiet. Small boats sway in a gentle breeze. Stronger wind creates halyard chimes. As the day proceeds a few make their way in sailboats, kayaks, and motor boats out the Namequoit River to Little Pleasant Bay, the Atlantic a possibility. I watch red-headed chipping sparrows hop from bushes to the feeder. They seem to be the bird of the day. Bright sun filters through pines that surround the house. I sit inside and with the breeze it gets chilly, so I move outside immediately warmed by the sun. This a the tonic I need.

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I read “A Fish Caught in Time: the search for the coelacanth” by Samantha Weinberg. Coelacanth fossils 200 million or more years old had been around for years; but a live one was caught, amazing the scientific community, in the late 1930s, in the Comoros Islands off of South Africa. Identified, partially preserved, the find sparked decades of searching for live coelacanths. Millions of dollars and dozens of expeditions failed to keep a specimen alive in captivity. Museums throughout the world did eventually obtain a specimen for their collection. Missing link, evolution, pre-historic fish fired the imagination. I found it interesting that in the late 1940s, coelacanth fossils were discovered in a Triassic strata on the campus of Princeton NJ.

Environmentalists warned that over fishing might push the fish into extension. Imagine it. In a few decades, we wipe out a fish species older than dinosaurs? Fortunately this hasn’t happened. Continuing with the fish theme, I also watched a Front Line documentary,”The fish on my plate” based on the writings of Paul Greenberg. He wrote “Four Fish” and “American Catch.” Greenberg spent a year exploring the sustainability of the fishing industry giving up a land based diet for an Omega 3 based diet from the sea. Although he learns a lot about fish farming and enjoyed  many seafood meals throughout the world, his doctors found no immediate health benefits but he concluded with a plan to continue to enjoy sustainable seafood with an ocassional hamburger.

I ate small portions during the day, drank lots of water thought I was doing well but the symptoms of my intestinal disorder seemed to return at night and early morning. Nantucket time and Cape May tonic may take some time.

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Fortuna

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I’ve always been a beachcomber, followed in my mother’s footsteps.  Shells, drift wood, beach glass.  I once found a note in a bottle, return to a Cuban address.  I did, with a touch of Cold War anxiety. Somewhere I have several decorative pieces of iron but the completely intact sea gull skelton was consumed by our dog, Luz.

Last week I couldn’t pass up buying several books in the NJ Maritine Museum at Beach Haven.  “Fortuna” by Carole Bradshaw caught my eye.  The cover was a photograph of a red tile washing in the waves.  The back cover read, “A shipwreck, an anchor, and a baby.  What do they all have in common?  When Carole Bradshaw found a small piece of red tile tossing around in the surf on Long Beach Island, New Jersey, she was about to find out.”  This sounded like a history adventure I would enjoy.

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I immediately thought of Colin Fletcher’s “The Man from the Cave”  (1981).  Fletcher, a backpacking guru, stumbled on an abandoned camp in a remote section of Nevada.    An old wooden trunk, personal belongings in a cave, fragments of a 1916 newspaper.   Fletcher uses these historic traces to identify the camper — “Chuckawalla” Bill Simmons from Braddock, PA.  On his search he met family members and others who filled in Bill’s story including the Nevada camp.

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Then there was the discovery of the identity of a 1910 North Pownal, Vermont child mill worker photographed by Lewis Hine.  Two amateur historians identified her as Addie Card.  An article in the September, 2006 Smithsonian tells their story.  After following leads in all types of records, they learned Addie’s history and even found and met with two of her adoptive descendants.

Naturally I purchased “Fortuna.”  Carole was your average beachcomber.  She and her daughter were walking the beach at Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island (LBI) in 1970.  She found several red tiles.  Years later she showed the tiles to a Manahawkin friend.  On some she could read, ARNAUD ETIENNE & Cie ST HENRY MARSEILLE.  Her friend, Lydie identified the tiles as debris from the ship Fortuna.  As a child, Lydie had seen the grounded ship.

The shoals off LBI were known as the graveyard of the Atlantic.  It was not uncommon for ships to run aground.  The Fortuna floundered in 1909.  An Italian ship out of the port of Trapani in Sicily.  The ship’s captain and owner was Giovan Adragna.  Aboard was his wife, two young daughters, and a baby born in Barbados weeks before.  His wife, Maria didn’t want to be left at home during the two year voyage.

“LBI’s first lifesaving station was built in Harviey Cedars in 1848.  All U.S. Life savings Stations were built. Exactly the same.  The shape and size of the building, both inside and out, were all alike.  There was a large boat room,  a kitchen, two sleeping compartments and a storage room.”   By the 1900s, the stations were staffed  by trained, paid  professionals.

Lifesaver Horace Cranmers discovered the stranded Fortuna  on January 18, 1910 while on patrol.   The Ship Bottom crew were first on the scene followed by other stations.  Lines were unsucessfully shot from a Lyle gun.  If established the line would be used to rescue individuals in a breeches buoy.  We have a personal interest in Lyle guns since Diane’s grandfather made them during World War II.

Life savings boats were launched.  But Captain Adragna was initially reluctant to abandon the Fortuna.  The lifesavers insisted and eventually all 17 on board were rescued, including the recently born Adragna baby.  They would be brought to the Ship Bottom station where they lived until transit back to Italy was arranged.

In April 1983, Carole and her husband, Greg, discovered more tiles but also the skeleton iron frame of the Fortuna.  Then there was a cannon like ball — could it be the anchor?  Carole became convinced that it was the ship’s anchor.

She mobilized local political and historical forces. The anchor was removed from the sand; fundraising financed a memorial in front of Ship  Bottom’s borough hall.  But for Carole, something was missing.  What happened to the baby?

Letters to Sicily lead to the discovery of two of Captain Adragna’s children, Giuseppe and  Severia (the baby born on the Fortuna in 1909).  Carole travel to Sicily and then brings Guiseppe and Severia to Ship Bottom for the dediation of the anchor in honor of their father.

Fortuna was a great story.  I need to go see the anchor in Ship Bottom and a mast that is used as a flagpole at the Beach Haven Little Egg Harbor Marina.  And I’ll continue to walk the beaches looking for traces of history.

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LBI in mid-June

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Sitting on the front porch of the Victoria Guest House.

Teens (actually actors) on the square, the swat of a softball, screaming, laughing, and clapping.

Laughing gulls cavorting and squalking on the beach.

Young boy and girl runs toward the waves; quick retreat.

Families quietly cycle by on deserted streets.

A gentle southeast breeze cools the hot afternoon sun on the beach.

An early evening storm blows through with lashing winds and rain.

Chicken and turkey sandwiches at Barry’s Do Me a Flavor

Salty, seaweed soaked, humid air on the bay.

Sitting on bench watching the ocassional passing boat in Sunset Park, Ship Bottom.

Victorian homes, basic gingerbread, cedar shakes, whites and gray; ocassionally Cape May colors.

White wicker, chairs, rockers and couches.

Petunias, day lilies, blue and white hydrangea,

Breakfast bowls of fresh fruit and homemade French toast, orange juice, coffee.

Barneget Lighthouse standing tall.

A still, quiet, broken by a distant chirping sparrow.

Horseshoe crabs seemingly mating in the surf.

Thousands in ocean beach chairs;  two young surfers; one daring jet skier.

Sun and heat waves glisten in a small backyard pool.

Church bells at noon in the distance. Again at six.

Footloose in the  reopened Surflight Theatre.

An elegant dinner at Stefano’s — local  Barneget scallops, BYOB.

A bucket of steamed clams at Polly’s Dock Clam House on the bay.

Reading the Beachcomber and Sand Paper.

An afternoon swim in Victoria’s pool.

Reading John Baily Lloyd’s History of LBI — Six Miles at Sea or Eighteen Miles of History.

Wandering through the many exhibits in the NJ Maritine Museum.

Photographs of Ship wrecks.

Bench sitting on the ocean at dusk.

Hearing stories of hurricane Sandy.

Chatting with some fisherman on the bay.

Memories of Mignoni-Profy Beach Haven vacations, flounder fishing with cousin Bill.

Ordering new shorts from L.L. Bean.

Chilly wind when the sun slides behind clouds.

Soft Shell Crabs at the Black Whale and Mud City crab cakes at Parker’s Garage.

Pistacchio ice cream one afternoon.

Elegant dining at Stefano’s — local Barneget scallops.

Clams Casino in honor of uncle.

Lunch at Ship Bottom Shellfish and Pearl Street Market.

LBI telephone memory chat with cousin Ellen.

Flashes of Uncle Frank and Aunt Ellen’s Harvey Cedars house.

Mignoni-Profy reunions.

Older women slowly walk the beach collecting shells.

Beach House, awful dinner. Sent rubbery tuna back.

Engleside hotel; photographs of original Engleside.

Flea Market on the square.

Take home clams and scallops from Surf City Fish Market.

LBI memories.

Sitting on the front porch of the Victoria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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City in a Park

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I still find books on local history hard to resist.  My most recent read is “City in a Park: a history of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park System,”  by James McClelland and Lynn Miller.  Temple University Press, 2016.  It’s a good coffee table book, lots of pictures, but unfortunately a rather bland text. The authors lack a distinctive perspective or style.  There is no strong personal story.  Still it is a good overview of Philadelphia’s Park system.

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William Penn wanted to create a “greene countrie town.”  Fairmount and other city parks fulfilled that vision.  The beginning of the current Fairmount Park dates to the waterworks that was built in the early 1800s, on the “faire mount” that is shown along the banks of the Schuykill River on Thomas Holmes’s 1684 Plan for the City of Philadelphia.  The Plan also shows the four squares, one in each quadrant of the city, and one in the center. I discovered this plan- map from a company, Historic Urban Plans.  For years it was the only textbook for my Local History class at Holy Ghost Prep.

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Center square became the site of a water pumping station.  Schuykill water was held in a reservoir on the mount, water was gravity fed to Center Square, and then it was pumped throughout the city.  Mid-century, after the Civil War, the City began acquiring land up the Schuykill, eventually on both sides, to protect the watershed from industrial development, pollution.  Philadelphia would have safe, good, clean water.   In the 1830s, a “rural garden for the dead,” Laurel Hill Cemetery was built in the watershed.  Victorians wanting to escape the heat, congestion, and filth of  the city would visit the waterworks and Laurel Hill.

Some of the land the city purchased came with country estates.  The first was Lemon Hill  (initally developed by Revolutionary War financier, Robert Morris — Morrisville in Bucks County.)  Some of these estates are now known as the country houses of Fairmount Park — Mount Pleasant, Strawberry Mansion, Woodford, Sweetbriar, Cedar Grove, Belmont, Rockland and Stenton. Some are decorated and opened to the public for a Christmas tour; we did it one year with Rob and Lisa Buscaglia. Beautiful.

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A few houses stand out.  Solitude, the home of Penn’s grandson, John, is still standing in the Philadelphia Zoo.   John Bartram, the first American botanist’s house is very unique.   Several years ago we took a boat ride to Bartram’s, there was time to tour the house and gardens.  In the gift shop, we were drawn to several whimiscal botanical illustrations by MF Cardamone.  We noticed that the artist’s studio was on Righter’s Mill road in Gladwyne —  Jen and Rob live on Righter’s.  We visited the artist’s studio and purchased a print; a few weeks later, we purchased two for Jenny at a show Cardamone was having at the Academy of Natural Science.  Very neat; and local.

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Many years ago we visited Rittenhouse Town, a colonial paper mill complex on the Wissahickon creek — it feeds into the Schuykill and is part of Fairmount Park.  I believe they had paper making classes.  Another place we visited many years ago was the Japanese House and Garden, Shofuso, in western Fairmount.  They hosted tea ceremonies; I should see if they still have them.  Nearby is Memorial Hall, one of the few buildings left from the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Festival.  It served as the city art museum and more recently is the Please Touch children’s museum.  We’ve taken Eli and Viv to the museum.  Maybe we should do it again  — they’re getting too old.  The only other extant Centennial building is the Ohio house, now a small cafe.  Delightful place for  lunch.

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The Schuykill is known for boating, the club houses of Boathouse Row, the Schuykill Navy was the first amateur athletic association, the statue of John Kelly, who was ruled ineligible to compete in Britain’s Henley Regatta because he worked with his hands.  He went on to the Olympics. We have never attended a Schuykill regatta.  This should be high on our local field trip list.  The Smith Memorial Playground is another interesting place in the park that we have never visited.  Grandkids may have been there; We should  take them again.

On a number of trips, we’ve explored the  Wissahickon Valley part of the Park.  There is a road along  the creek, Forbidden Drive.  No cars.  Valley Green, a way station on the trail,  now a restaurant, lunch stop for walkers.  Jenny lived and went to college nearby at Philadelphia University has many memories associated with the Forbidden Drive walk.

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“City in the Park” devotes several chapters to sculpture in Fairmount Park, in fact sculpture throughout the city.  Philadelphia has an ordinance that requires certain types of new construction to contribute to public sculpture.  Much of the older sculpture was memorials to the famous — George Washington, General George Meade, Benjamin Franklin, Marquis de Lafayette,  Ulysses S. Grant, James A. Garfield, even Joan of Arc. The list goes on.

Then there are the classical inspirations.  Alexander Calder’s “Fountain of the Three Rivers” at Logan Circle; (where I shot some of Jenny and Rob’s pre-wedding pictures);   or “The Wrestlers,” in Fairmount; and “Prometheus Strangling the Vulture” at the Art Museum.

Rodin’ “The Thinker” is in front of the Rodin Museum; “Rocky,” yes, Stallone from the movie, is currently in front of the Art Museum. It is one of the most visited tourist spots in the City.  My grandson, Eli recently, celebrated something by running up the museum steps and posing with Rocky.

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There are many modern, sometimes abstract, and sometimes controversial sculptures.  The most famous in Robert Indiana’s “Love.”  It’s a classic Philadelphia photo op — looking down (or is it up) the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.  Across from City Hall is Claes Oldenburg’s “The Clothespin,” and at the entrance to the Benjamin Franklin bridge is Noguchi’s “Bolt of Lightning” —  Franklin, kites, lighting; very Philadelphia.

The “City in a Park”  has a chapter on the original squares that date to the Holmes 1680s plan.  Today they are called Franklin, Washington. Rittenhouse and Logan.  Originally Philadelphia Quakers would not honor individuals, so the squares were know by compass points — northeast, southwest etc.  Another  chapter is about the creation of the turn of the century, “City Beautiful” movement that created the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (modeled on the Champ Elysees).

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When I read a book like “City in the Park” I am ready for local field trips. I want to explore and photograph the Park from my perspective.  It will take more than onE trip.  Maybe a summer project!  Well, summer and fall. Maybe.

 

 

 

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Going Native

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Several years ago we were having dinner at Hamilton’s Grill in Lambertville.  In conversation we learned that Jeff Hamilton, the owner’s son,  had committed suicide.  In the 1970s, we rented a house with John and Barbara Paglione on Old York Road, outside of downtown New Hope.  Around the corner on Sugan Road was the “ruins” or  “the old mill.”  Built in 1813 by William Maris, the cotton and weaving mill was/is a local landmark.  Hamiltons lived in  the mill.

We knew that Jim Hamilton, a NYC set designer, his French wife and children lived in the mill. There were annual gala parties at the mill but we were not quite part of that New Hope social scene. I think some of our friends/acquaintances were invited.    We were aware that there were Hamilton kids, a bit younger than us.   And we were interested when Jim opened Hamilton’s Grill in Lambertville.

 

The Grill has become one of our favorite restaurants.  We go there for anniversaries, special ocassions, and when the spirit strikes.  For  several years we have enjoyed their Jersey dinners and Oyster nights.  Several times we’ve gone to Jim’s “cooking classes” — usually demonstration dinners in an apartment studio near the restaurant.

 

We’ve bought several of Melissa Hamilton’s “Canal House” cookbooks — small and seasonal.  We’ve also followed the career of Gabrielle,  In the late 1990s, with no experience in the restaurant business, she opened “Prune” in the East Village.  In 2012 she published, “Blood, Bones, & Butter the inadvertent education of a reluctant chef.”

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There were some surprising admissions of drugs and thefts — but also the amazing rise of her career.  She is one of the most well know female chefs in the country. Two years ago with Paglions, we ate at Prune.  Not disappointed. Jen and Rob followed us, several months later and Jen got to meet Gabrielle.  In another small town event, our former Tinicum friends, David and Judy hosted Melissa and her partner, Christopher Hirscheimer for dinner.

But back to Jeff Hamilton.  When he was nineteen, Jeff went to Zaire to live with the Mbuti pygmies.  He had become interested in anthropology finding arrowheads on the Banks of the Delaware river.  In the prologue of “Going Native” his account of his adventures in Africa he wrote, “I began to wonder so intensely about what the life of the people who’d chipped these beautiful stone objects had been like, that I fell happy and melancholic at the same time. . . I dreamt then of the day I would live with people who are still living in remote areas of the world by hunting and gathering.”

While taking courses at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1975, Jeff met Colin Turnbull, a British anthropologist, known for his books “The Forest People” and “The Mountain People.” Turnbull had lived with pygmies in the Ituri forest then in the Belgium Congo, later Zaire.  Jeff would follow in his footsteps.

Like Jeff I found arrowheads along the Banks of the Delaware.  We both lived in river side small towns — New Hope and Bristol.  We both attended prep schools — Solebury for Jeff; Holy Ghost Prep for  me.  I may have even read “The Forest People” (1961) in college. I dreamed of traveling in Africa.  When Diane and I signed up in the Peace Corps in 1969 we were interested in sub-Saharan Africa. We were offered Arab Libya in North Africa instead.  Seven years later Jeff was living with the forest people; I was teaching, driven partially by the draft exemption.  I’m intrigued. Jeff had the independence, risk taking, sense of adventure spirit, to go to Africa alone.  That was not me.  I suspect family backgrounds had an influence.  The sub title for “Going Native” is “A young man’s  quest for his identity leads him to an African forest and it’s people.”  It was published in 1989, ten year after the experience under the name J.J. Bones.

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“Going Native” was particularly interesting because of the Hamilton connection. It’s not particularly well written, and often repetitive.  Jeff lives in a village much of the time but eventually gets permission to live in the forest with the pygmies.  No photographs were allowed; although someone eventually takes a few.  He is presumably doing research for college but is usually consumed with daily life, little time is spent writing research notes.

In both village and forest, he feels the people are always taking advantage of him.  Hands always looking for a gift; sometimes stealing.  Jeff is constantly plagued with medical issues, malaria, awful skin diseases, parasites.  Not pleasant.  Life is slow; he writes a lot about boredom.  Local men spending much time sitting around, smoking, sometimes marijuana, drinking palm wine from the raffia tree.  And there are other forms of local alcohol. Jeff seems to adapt to a lot of strange foods — from termites and grubs to antelope and elephant.  At times his diet is very vegetarian; other times there is a fair amount of game available.

There are missionaries in the village but Jeff wants limited contact with them.  He also becomes annoyed with a few white tourists who passing through, stop and stay with him.  He develops a few relationships, at times has a woman cook and clean, but frequently seems lonely.  His doubts about his produtivity and the value of his research are constant.  He thinks about leaving several times but sticks it out for about 2 years.

In a strange way I was reminded of Henry David Thoreau spending two years, basically alone, in solitude, finding himself on Walden Pond.   So different but maybe not.

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Jeff returned to New Hope become another town character.  After his death a friend wrote of him as the Marquis of Debris.  He cleaned out houses, saving treasures in an old barn until his annual auction.  Jim Hamilton, said, “I spent $80,000 on his education.  What does he do?  Collects junk.”

Jeff’s story intrigues me.  How we become who we are.  The influences on our lives.  Where we live.  Our family.  Our education.  Travel and othe special experiences. People we meet.   Why some of us become home bodies; others world adventurers and risk takers.

Our youth; our old age; our continual search for identity.

 

 

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Traveling to the Outer Banks

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We go to New England for many (most) of our vacations.  And although I’m dreaming international, or cross country, local get-aways  keep me motivated.  Last week we headed south.  The upper Chesapeake is part of our usual two-day trips.  Rarely (in recent years) do we venture further South. This trip was different.    Our first stop was a Hampton Inn in Fruitland-Salisbury MD.  Diane and I usually don’t stay in these chains.  But we had points, many points actually, from our stay in Ann Arbor in the Fall.  So the room was free.  And surprise, we liked it.  The staff were extremely friendly, you know what your get, breakfast was good.  The woman at the desk said the hotel was frequently a “pit stop.”  Perfect for us, in and out.  In the future, we will  use points for other pit stops. We found a decent lunch in Salisbury (The Market Street Inn) and had dinner at Evolution Brewery not far from the Hampton.  Strip mall traveling. .

The Eastern Shore drive through Delaware, Maryland and eventually Virginia toward the Outer Banks has a unique local flavor. Lots of trailers, RV sales, small garden sheds for sale, all kinds of auto and truck sales and repairs.  Most places are “mom and pop” and not national chains. It hasn’t changed in decades.  I’d forgotten about the Chesapeake Bay bridge and tunnel. Wow,an amazing engineering project.  Our weather was beautiful.

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Passing through Virginia Beach (we went there once with the Bonnema’s for a craft show back in the 1970s).   Otherwise not on our radar.  Route 158 toward the Outer Banks has quite a few large farm stands, lots of bill boards advertising seafood and shore activities. I search for a local flavor.

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We arrived. Kitty Hawk. What a surprise.  The main highway is one shopping center after another.  Restaurants, auto services, furniture stores, vacation activities — the best of “Route 1.”  Diane was hungry so we stopped at Henry’s — seniors very welcomed, but I’ll. admit  it was ok.  Then to the Cyprus Moon Inn.  It’s right off the bridge, south, in a small wooded neighborhood on the Sound.

Linda and Greg, the innkeepers, are our age.  They built two houses on the site.  The grounds are overgrown, many large pots of aging plants, aging cedar or cyprus steps and siding.  The rooms were pleasant; porches overlooking the Sound were fantastic.  Breakfast was an tray of fruit and pastry, room coffee, provided the night before.   All pretty informal and casual.  The wind on the Sound was amazing.  Loud and rough.  No kayaking for a few days.

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Day one we drive north to Duck and Corolla.  This is off season but traffic is still slow.  Houses were closer, bigger, more uniform than we had expected.  Our joke was the architects designed with legos.  Not much variation, maybe the color.  At the end of the road we saw the Corolla lighthouse and a few historic buildings, shops. Not much. Only off road vehicles further north.

Day two we drove South.  To Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  It’s not Cape Cod.  We walked around a lighthouse and a birding area.  There are small towns (?) almost.  We went as far as Avon.  Lots of sports, boating, fishing — we watched kite surfing. We did find a great sandwich shop , Brothers, tuna subs with a local sauce.  We tried to eat on the ocean beach but black flies drove us back to the car.  Land wind as we get in New Jersey.  Found a sound access and sat in the sun for a while.  But this is not Cape Cod.  Few access places, just not as user friendly.

Initially we were worried about restaurants on the Outer Banks but we found quite a few with good seafood.  Soft shell crabs were coming in, had I one as an appetizer at Steamers and talked to the owner-chef.  He was buying 600 a day from Randy who had them peel in a tub (ironically near our B and B).  You can clean the crabs or not, and freeze them.  The harvest will be only about a week. Other restaurants,  the Blue Point in Duck and RJs in Kitty Hawk, were both very good. Only one disappointment:  The Salt Box.  Interesting, one night we were shut out due to a wine dinner, ambience and location seemed right, but the chef didn’t know how to cook fresh Rock fish or soft shells.  Very sad.

Day three we headed to Roanoke Island.  Finally a small town, Manteo, with harbor, restaurants,  shops, a few bed and breakfasts (we could have stayed here).  Listened to a great lost colony story by a park ranger at Raleigh Park.  In season they put on a play.  Stopped in a nature center and then drove to Wanachee, a small fishing village (not much), mostly commercial fishing.  Diane did some shopping in Manteo, I bought chocolates and ice cream.

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Each day we returned to Cyprus Moon.  Rested, enjoyed the porch on the Sound,  When the wind calmed down, it would have been kayak friendly.  Not everyone would enjoy the “casualness” of Cyprus Moon.  It bothered Diane more than me but the owners were close to us.  It was an interesting stay off the main road.

Next day.  Rain.  We headed north.

The Mansion House in Snow Hill had a familiar feel.  We checked in, a sound room with a view.  The piano “bar” was still there. George was a familiar face.  We ate downtown, local music venue, not bad food.  Next day drove out to Assateague.  Sun holding out. Walked in dunes, on the beach.  Ponies.  Lunch in Berlin, musical festival.

Overall Snow Hill is a nice stop on the way home.

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We had lunch on Sunday, at Dogfish in Rehoboth. It almost seemed a bit seedy but the food was still good. Rehoboth is interesting; shades of Long Beach Island, but a boardwalk and downtown, maybe we could spend a week here.

Overall a good explore.

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Open Hearth Cooking

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A few days ago, I made Indian Pudding, a traditional New England dessert, a colonial-era treat.  I found the recipe in a pamphlet, “Open Hearth Cooking” that we bought at Historic Deerfield in March, 2014.

Deerfield in north-central Massachusetts, was a frontier village, remembered in history books for a 1704 French and Indian raid. The town was almost wiped out; over 100 captives were taken back to French Canada.  The daughter of John Williams, Deerfield’s Puritan minister, decided to stay with her captors.  Eunice (age 8) became a Catholic, resisted family efforts to have her return home, married a Mohawk husband, visited Deerfield with her Indian family and lived as a Native American until her death at the age of 95.  The raid and Eunice’s story is told in John Demos’s “The Unredeemed Captive: a family story from early America”  (1995).

Deerfield residents had a strong sense of history.  In 1952 they created Historic Deerfield; in 1962 the town was placed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks.  There are about a dozen old houses on the historic, mile long, Main Street.   There are also several museum buildings, a gift store, and the 1884 Deerfield Inn with Champy’s Restaurant and Tavern.

Deerfield Academy, one of several schools in town,  is a classic New England private prep school.  John McPhee wrote “The Headmaster: Frank L. Boyden of Deerfield”  (1992).  Boyden took over the Deerfield country school in 1902 and built it into a classic New England academy like Andover and Exter.  I recently reread “The Headmaster.”  As an educator it’s an interesting lesson.   Boyden didn’t have any specific educational philosophy, he believed in doing right for “the boys” and strongly supported athletic competition. He was widely admired in the education community and his boys did well in life.

In 2014, our first year of retirement, we decided to take an open hearth cooking class in Deerfield.  We stayed in the Deerfield Inn, across the street from the Hall Tavern and visitor’s center — site for classes.    Eight students joined two instructors.  The hearth fire was blazing; hot coals were burning in the oven.  Ingredients for our class were laid out on rustic kitchen tables.  We were provided with historic receipts (recipes) and formed small groups to cook and bake.  Our menu was beef stew with winter vegetables, mashed root vegetables, French bread, applesauce and Indian pudding.

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As we prepared the dishes, we learn about open hearth cooking.  We pre-heated cast iron pots.  Some (the stew pot) hung on a moving crane over the fire.  Others dishes could be cooked in a spider leg pot (hot coals under the pot).  Some things are cooked in a Dutch oven with hot coals under the pot and on the lid.  The apples (acidic) can’t be cooked in cast iron pot but do fine in a tin lined cast iron pot.  Bread is cooked in the bake oven, heated with coals which are removed before the bread is baked.

Since I am familiar with bread, I joined with the only other male in the class to make rye bread.  We scalded milk, butter, honey and salt.  Mixed it with flour, yeast and eggs.  We let the sponge rise and mixed in more flour, kneading for 10 minutes.  It was baked in a redware dish.   Reproduced redware is made without lead and safe for cooking; don’t cook in original, as it probably contains lead.  While our stew and bread cooked, we were given a tour of another kitchen with a wood-coal stove.  Back in the Tavern kitchen, we served and ate our efforts. Quite good.

This March we returned to Deerfield for another open hearth class.  The Deerfield Inn was comfortable; we had great meals in Champy’s; the class was different and fun.  Our menu  was based on the 1796 “American Cookery” cookbook by Amelia Simmons.  It is considered the first American cookbook, using American ingredients.  Our menu was stuffed chicken and vegetables — potatoes, carrots, parsnips — , cranberry sauce, winter squash-Apple pudding, slapjacks, and gingerbread.

I really like how the instructors just handed students the recipes (historic and translated) and say “go to it.”   Diane and I went for the slapjacks.  Milk, cornmeal, eggs, a bit of flour and salt.  Fried in a cast iron pan over the fire in a bit of lard; served with maple syrup.  Not bad.  The bread-seasoned stuffed chicken was cooked on a tin rotessier, made in Deerfield.  Par-boiled potatoes, carrots and parsnips were placed under the chickens, absorbing the drippings.  The squash apple pudding was cooked in a Dutch oven.  Gingerbread in the bake oven.  Cook, bake, wait, tour, and then eat.  A great meal.

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In March, Deerfield is quiet.  This year we were there after a winter storm.  The ground was snow covered.  A walk through town was beautiful.  Quiet, at peace.  Champy’s was alive in the evening with a local tavern crowd.  The folowing day after after breakfast (one day home made corn beef hash, i.e. Left over from St. Patrick’s Day) we drove south through the Berkshires to the White Hart Inn in Salisbury, CT.

Another different but interesting quest; exploring the world of Joan of  Hammertown, an interior designer, and marketer, (echoes of Martha Steward), that Diane follows online.

 

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