Nick Russell

Jun 282019
 

Road weary travelers making their way north or south on Interstate 75 in Georgia can take a break from the traffic and get an idea what life was like in simpler times with a stop at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village in Tifton.



Here, visitors can experience things from a 19th century point of view in a village consisting of over 35 historic buildings, explore farmyard’s, see a variety of livestock, ride on a historic steam train, and stop at the drugstore for a snack or lunch. And all the time, you are surrounded by the past.

The 95 acre site, devoted to preserving Georgia’s wiregrass past, includes a traditional farming community one might find in the 1870s, an 1890s progressive farmstead, an industrial site complex, and the Museum of Agriculture Center.

Visitors can explore farmhouses, a sawmill, a turpentine mill, an old-time schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, and a gristmill, as well as other shops and homes that make up the village. Friendly costumed interpreters are on hand to explain and demonstrate the old-time skills and daily activities one might see their neighbors doing over a century ago.

Two structures were very important to the pioneers in early settlements and signified that their town had arrived and was there to stay – the schoolhouse and the church. In those days, the church was not only a place of worship, but also an important community center. Here, covered dinners were held, picnics took place on the church grounds, and people came to watch young couples be married and to say goodbye to their friends and neighbors at their funeral services. The village’s church, with its wooden pews and floors, is open to visitors to remind us that anyplace can be a place of worship, it doesn’t have to be a fancy cathedral with stained-glass windows and deep pile carpeting.

In those days, just getting a crop in and harvested and the day-to-day work of life meant that education was often secondary, though still very important. In many small one or two room country schools, classes were scheduled around the busy planting and harvesting seasons, when every hand was needed to work the fields.

Another important part of rural communities like these was the gristmill. It was here that farmers came to have their crops milled for everything from grits to meal. While that work was being done, the men would gather to discuss the news of the day, maybe arrange a horse trade or two, and share both their joys and sorrows. The village’s water powered gristmill was originally built in 1879 in Worth County, Georgia, and if you time your visit right, you might get to see it in action.

James Shepherd, inventor of the mechanized peanut combine, is honored at the Peanut Museum. Displays inside the museum include Mr. Shepherd’s combine, a collection of antique plows, and peanut industry artifacts. But the building is more than a museum, it is also a popular venue for weddings.

The homes at the village range from simple farmer’s cabins to the beautiful Victorian home of Captain H. H. Tift, for whom the city of Tifton is named. The house features high ceilings, beautiful wooden floors, curly pine molding, ornate wallpaper, and is filled with antique furnishings.

Other homes, while not as elaborate, are very interesting to see. You’ll come away appreciating all of the conveniences of modern day life.

Who doesn’t like vintage trains? The village’s steam powered locomotive is reminiscent of those used to haul logs to sawmills in the old days. If you visit on a Saturday, you can even ride the train!

All of this and more awaits you at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village. Summer hours at the village are 10 AM to 3 PM Tuesday through Saturday, though different hours may apply to the Country Store and other features of the village. Admission is $7 for adults; $6 for seniors; $4 for children ages 5 -16, and kids 4 and under are free.

The Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village is located at 1392 Whiddon Mill Road in Tifton, just off of Interstate 75 at Exit 63. For more information, call (229) 391-5205.



Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Stillborn Armadillos, the first book in my John Lee Quarrels series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Some people say their body is a temple. Mine is more like a bouncy castle.

Jun 262019
 

Today let’s discuss problems in the bedroom. Don’t worry. I’m not talking about any difficulties Miss Terry and I have in the boudoir. For a couple of old farts, we seem to manage okay. But apparently not everybody is so lucky, based on some of the emails I’ve been getting lately.



The other day I heard from a couple who are RV shopping and found a new fifth wheel that they really like. The floorplan is great, the décor is nice, and they love the two big screen televisions in it. The only thing they both agreed they didn’t care for at all is the wimpy mattress that came with the trailer. The woman described it as being as thin as a stack of truck stop pancakes, and she told her husband they would definitely have to replace that if they purchased the trailer. The salesman told them that he could special order a mattress from one of his suppliers and the husband suggested they just take the mattress off their bed at home before they sell everything to go fulltime RVing.

They were taken aback when the salesman told them that it is illegal to put a mattress not made for an RV in one. According to him, all RV mattresses have to be RV certified. She remembered me talking about the memory foam mattress we got from Sam’s Club a few years ago and told him that she knew at least one person who had a “non-certified” mattress in their RV. His response was that if that person ever got pulled over and their RV was inspected, the best they could hope for would be a large fine, and more likely it would be towed away and impounded. He did tell them that he could get the same mattress and have “the guys in the shop treat it” so would be RV certified for “a couple hundred dollars” but said it was really better if he ordered a new mattress for them. When asked how it was treated to come into RV compliance, he was vague and said he would have to ask his manager about that, and the manager was conveniently on vacation. I wrote back and told to them walk away from that dealership and don’t look back. I know there are a lot of shysters out there selling RVs, which makes life difficult for the honest salesmen, but I think this one takes the cake.

Another couple contacted me asking advice about a bedroom dilemma they are having. They said that they have three large dogs and when they were living at home the dogs had the run of the house and each dog had its own doggie bed. Now they are in a motorhome on their first long trip as fulltimers and the dogs have taken over the bedroom. They said that there is not room for the three doggie beds they had at home, and every night while they are taking their showers the dogs jump on the bed and spread out to where there is no room for them. They said they have pushed the dogs off the bed but they jump right back on. They have pushed them off the bed and closed the bedroom door, but then the dogs howl, bark, and scratch on the door all night long.

They’ve only been on the road for two weeks or so and suspect that it is some sort of an anxiety thing the dogs are going through and hope it will ease up. Meanwhile, the husband is sleeping in the recliner and the wife is on the couch. They asked my advice and I told them that allowing the situation to go on like it is will only make it more difficult. The dogs have decided the bed is theirs and seem to have the owners pretty well trained already. Somebody has to be in charge, and only they can decide if it will be them or their critters.



As for the third bedroom email I got, it seems to me that this is a situation the couple has lived with for a long time. But things have gotten worse since they bought their RV and started traveling. The wife reports that her husband snores terribly, and has ever since they got married. She said he has tried everything from those Breathe Right® strips you see advertised to a device that goes in the mouth at night, to an Expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP) machine, and a white noise device to hopefully mask his snoring, and nothing has worked. Neither has consultations with several doctors.

She said they will be celebrating their 15th anniversary later this year, and for all of those years they have had separate bedrooms and keep the bedroom doors closed because she can’t sleep due to his loud snoring. Now they are in an RV and there is no extra bedroom. They have tried having one of them sleep on the couch and one in the bed, alternating every other night, but quarters are so close that she still isn’t getting any sleep.

I wonder if Dr. Phil gets questions like this? I have no idea what they can do about that. Maybe get two RVs, or a small trailer to pull behind their motorhome? Any suggestions, anybody?

Thought For The Day – So what if I don’t know the meaning of the word apocalypse? It’s not like it’s the end of the world.

I’m Getting There

 Posted by at 12:08 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 252019
 

Despite some frustrating setbacks, I’m still making headway on my new book, Big Lake Ninja, and I’m about two thirds of the way finished with it. I’m still hoping to get it wrapped up by the end of the month but I’ll have to push hard to do it.



As many of you know, I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium software to dictate my books since I am a two-finger typist at best, and my arthritic fingers can no longer take the punishment of long days at the keyboard. It has really helped me boost my productivity.

But for the last week or two my Dragon software  seemed to be running very slow and making even more mistakes than normal. By the way, don’t let the commercials on television fool you. While it is a very good program for people like me, it is far from foolproof no matter how much you “train” the software to respond to your individual speech style.

I did some research online and one suggestion was to uninstall the program and then reinstall. That proved to be a challenge in its own right. I uninstalled the program with no problems, but when I tried to reinstall it, I kept getting a message saying that the serial number was invalid. I checked and double checked, and I was using the number from the paper sleeve the CD came in. After looking online for some idea of what I was doing wrong, I finally contacted customer support.

The fellow I talked to could not speak English very well, though he tried very hard to sell me the latest and greatest upgrade. Eventually I convinced him to let me talk to somebody else, and when I explained the problem to that person, he told me that the software license only allows me to install it on two computers. I explained that I had it on my desktop and on my laptop and had deleted it from the desktop and only wanted to reinstall it. He told me that that would be a third installation and not allowed. I went through it with him two or three times, explaining that I was reinstalling it on my desktop computer and there would still only be two computers running the software. He finally seemed to get that and gave me a different code to enter, and then everything worked fine.

The good news is that reinstalling the software seemed to do the trick, and things are working much better now. I knocked out another 2,000 words yesterday and it went very smoothly.



Around 3:30 in the afternoon we braved the heat and went out to run a few errands. Our first stop was at the post office to mail off a book to the winner of last week’s free drawing. Then we went to Walmart to pick up a few things, and on the way home we stopped at a new restaurant in New Smyrna Beach called Pizza Pomodoro. Overall, we were impressed. The caprese salad was excellent, the pizza was good, and I don’t think I’ve ever had such good service in any local eatery. I have a food allergy and they went out of their way to make sure everything was safe for me to eat. This is pizza like you might get in Naples, Italy, which is not surprising since the couple that owns this restaurant also owns another well rated Italian restaurant in New Smyrna Beach. When we left the restaurant we made a quick stop at Walgreens to pick up a prescription and then came home to an evening of relaxing in our recliners and watching television.

Today I’ll be back at it again, cranking out more words in the book.

And in closing, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day – Give a man a plane ticket and he’ll fly for a day. Push a man out of a plane and he’ll fly for the rest of his life.

Bear Bryant Museum

 Posted by at 12:15 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 242019
 

If you are a football fan, especially college football, no trip to Alabama should be complete without a stop at the Paul W. Bryant Museum on the campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Known simply as Bear to his legions of fans and former players, Bryant was almost a mythical figure to those who knew and loved him.

Born in southern Arkansas on September 11, 1913, Paul William Bryant was the 11th of 12 children borne by Ida Kilgore and Wilson Monroe Bryant. Three of his siblings had died in infancy. Times were hard for the Bryant family, scraping by an existence on a small worn-out piece of land, and in 1924 they moved to Fordyce, Arkansas, which had a population of 3600 people at that time. But it was here that the legend began.



Young Paul Bryant joined the local football team, even though he had never seen a game in his life. Not able to afford a proper uniform, he screwed cleats into the only pair of shoes he owned. He quickly showed a talent for the game and was recognized for his aggressiveness.

He got his nickname while still a teenager, when he agreed to wrestle a bear that was making its rounds with the owner, promising to pay one dollar a minute for every minute a person could stay in the ring with the animal. While he did his part and wrestled with the bear, its owner skipped out without paying him. But even better than money, he got the nickname he would carry for the rest of his life.

In the 1930 season, Bear Bryant led his high school football team, the Fordyce Red Bugs, to a perfect season and the state championship in their division. His talents were noticed outside of his small town, and in 1931 he was recruited for the University of Alabama football team. Two years later, in the first year the Southeastern conference, Bear Bryant and the Crimson Tide took the championship.

Victory followed victory, and by 1936 the recently married Bryant was hired to help coach the Union College team in Tennessee, earning $170 a month. He didn’t stay long, taking a pay cut to return to Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama later that year.

Bryant left football to enlist in the United States Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 7, 1941. He served in North Africa and was discharged as a Lieutenant Commander at the end of the war.

With peacetime came new opportunities, and Bear Bryant held coaching jobs at the University of Kentucky and Texas A&M University, leading his teams to numerous victories. In 1957, Bear Bryant returned to his alma mater, The University of Alabama, and it was here that history was made. For the next 25 years Bear Bryant and the Crimson Tide dominated college football.

Bear Bryant coached his final game on December 29, 1982, when the Crimson Tide beat Illinois at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee. He retired at the end of the season, holding the record for the most wins (323) as the head coach in college football. Along the way his team had won six national championships and thirteen conference championships. He was voted National Coach of the Year three times.

But retirement would not last long for the beloved college football coach. Bear Bryant succumbed to a heart attack on June 26, 1983. Two days later he was laid to rest at Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham, Alabama. It was a dark day for football fans nationwide.

Today the Paul W. Bryant Museum honors the popular coach with exhibits about his long career and the players he coached to victory.

Visitors to the Museum can see a re-creation of the coach’s office, watch videos of some of his most famous games, and see dozens of displays and uniforms, trophies, and other football memorabilia.

One popular display is the Waterford crystal replica of the houndstooth hat that was Coach Bryant’s trademark. It was created by acclaimed sculptor Miraslav Havel and presented to the college by the Waterford Crystal Company of Ireland.

The Paul W. Bryant Museum is located on the University of Alabama campus at 300 Bryant Drive in Tuscaloosa. The Museum is directly across the street from Coleman Coliseum and is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., except for major holidays. Admission is $2 for adults, $1 for senior citizens age 60 and up, $1 for children ages 6 to 17, and children under age 6 are admitted free. The campus and parking areas are not really suitable for RVs, but there are several nice campgrounds in Tuscaloosa where you can leave your RV and visit the Museum in your car or tow vehicle. For more information, call 866-772-2327 or (205) 348-4668, or visit the museum’s website at http://bryantmuseum.com/



Congratulations Joanne Harnit, winner of our drawing for an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for a campground rating, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. We had 57 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.

It Was A Very Good Day

 Posted by at 12:58 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 232019
 

Terry wanted me to pass along her thanks to all of you who sent her birthday greetings through blog comments, emails, texts, and Facebook messages. You really helped make her day special.



For the last week or two I kept asking her what she wanted to do for her birthday, and she said the thing she really wanted to do was for us to spend it together. So that’s just what we did, and it was a very good day.

We started out the day with our morning routine of saying I love you as soon as we woke up, and then cuddling in bed and talking, something we do for anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour every morning. Can you think of a better way to start the day?

After a light breakfast of mixed berries, we decided to take a day trip down to Melbourne, about an hour south of us. I dropped off some business cards to promote my books, and then we visited a couple of antique malls. We weren’t looking for anything in particular and didn’t find anything that begged to go home with us. That’s alright, we just enjoy browsing and looking at all the old stuff. And once in a while we get lucky and find something to add to our collection.

We had taken Interstate 95 south to Melbourne, but coming home we took the slower but more scenic US Highway 1 along the water. We got to Titusville somewhere around 6:30 in the afternoon and decided we would go to Dixie Crossroads for dinner. It has always been one of our favorite seafood restaurants, though a year or so ago the servings seemed to be slipping while the prices were going up. I don’t know what happened since then, but there’s been a turnaround and we were very pleased with everything about our dinner.

Terry is very hard to shop for because she’s not really a material person. Part of the problem is that when we want something, we just go out and buy it. So there’s really nothing either one of us wants that we don’t have. I asked for some gift ideas on Facebook a while back and people suggested I get her jewelry, a pretty outfit, flowers, and quite a few other ideas, but none of them were right for Terry. She’s just not into things like that. Some people said that because she likes anything to do with weaving and knitting and the fiber arts, I should get her a gift certificate for more yarn. But she tells me she’s got yarn coming out of her ears and will probably never live long enough to use up the big stockpile she has already. (But she still finds more on a regular basis.)



Finally, I told Terry that she had to give me some idea of a birthday gift, and she blew me off, saying to just buy her something outrageously expensive that she had absolutely no use for. So I bought her an iron lung. It takes up a lot of space, but it’s a great conversation piece.

Today is your last chance to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for a campground rating, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.

Thought For The Day – My cell phone is acting up, I keep pressing the home button but when I look around, I’m still at work.

Jun 222019
 

Today we are celebrating Terry’s birthday, and though she modestly says it’s just another day, it’s a very special day. Who knew that that little baby born in Newton, Kansas would grow up to become the most beautiful woman in the world? And not just beautiful, but also strong, caring, intelligent, talented in so many ways, and just about the nicest person you could ever hope to meet.

Terry is shy by nature, but there isn’t anything she wouldn’t do to help someone in need. More than once her caring and generosity have been wasted on people who don’t appreciate it, but that is their loss and doesn’t change who Terry is.



The first time I met Terry I remember being impressed with her and knew she was someone special. We were friends long before we ever became romantically involved, and I’ll be honest with you, nobody was more surprised than me than a woman with all she has going for her would give a short, fat, bald troll like me a second glance. But that’s the thing about Terry, she looks past what’s outside and see what’s inside a person. Which means I still don’t know why she chose to spend her life with me. But I’m grateful beyond words that she did!

We have been together over 21 years and our love for each other, as well as our friendship, continue to grow every day. It truly is wonderful to be married to your best friend in the world. When I look at her today, I don’t think I could possibly love her more than I do right now, but I know that tomorrow I will love her even more. The very first thing we say to each other every morning is “I love you” and it’s the last thing we say to each other as we fall asleep every night.

I always say that the only real regret I have in life is that we did not get together as teenagers to spend our lives together. Terry tells me that we needed to grow into the people we were before the timing was right, but I still regret every minute of the 45 years it took for us to get together.

June 22 is a popular day for amazing women to be born, because it was also my mother’s birthday. Terry and my mom never got to meet, but if they would have, I know they would have become immediate friends. They both love to cook and they both always put the needs of the people they love before their own.

When we were publishing the Gypsy Journal and putting on our RV rallies, people always talked about “Nick’s newspaper” and “Nick’s rallies.” Now they talk about “Nick’s books.” But I will tell you right now, any success I have had in life is 100% due to my hardworking, supportive wife. She has always been my biggest fan, and she is the person who encourages me, critiques my work, and gives me the confidence to do the things I do. As I always told the crowds at our rallies, without her I’d just be a fat guy up on stage telling jokes.

Happy birthday, Terry. I love you with all my heart.



Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for a campground rating, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Married couples who love each other tell each other a thousand things without talking.

Back Road Church

 Posted by at 12:10 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 212019
 

Among the several interests that we share with my son Travis and his wife Geli is that we love exploring back roads and seeking out hidden gems that are all too often overlooked by the rest of the world. While we were visiting them in Alabama recently, they took us to an interesting place not very far from Tuscaloosa that seemed like we were far removed from city life of any kind.



The Mulberry Fork Wildlife Management Area is over 33,000 acres of forest set aside for hunting, hiking, and other outdoor activities. They took us on a tour, and one stop was the old Union Baptist Church, a wooden structure that has been serving worshippers for generations.

The church is several miles down a primitive road that sees little traffic, and I’m not sure if it is still active, since I have not been able to find out much about it. But while the building itself shows some neglect and is in bad need of a paint job, the church grounds adjacent cemetery are carefully tended.

Another thing we share with Travis and Geli is an interest in old cemeteries. If you walk through a graveyard and see how many children died in infancy, and how many mothers died at a very young age, it makes you appreciate modern medicine.

While I couldn’t find out how old the church and cemetery are, there were graves dating back to the 1800s. This is the grave of Ann Hughes, the first person buried there, but there is no date on the headstone.

Some of the grave markers are made of stone, and others are wooden. This one says that Isabelle Simmons was born in 1902 and died in 1916. When you see something like that, it really helps put your own life into perspective.

Travis and Geli had been here before, but never noticed this shovel attached to a tree in the cemetery that Miss Terry spotted. I guess a gravedigger decided it would be a handy place to store it until the next internment.

This is Travis, and though my son looks like a rough, tough guy with his beard and tattoos, he’s the first to admit that that’s just camouflage. Inside he is one of the most gentle souls you’ll ever meet. That black thing sticking out behind his left arm is a tripod. As I’ve said before, Travis is an accomplished photographer and he has a special backpack that holds his cameras, lenses, and other accessories. Like an American Express card, he never leaves home without it.

We had a good time wandering around the church and the cemetery. It is easy to close your eyes and imagine a bunch of Model T’s and horse and buggy combinations gathered for Sunday services, or maybe a picnic on the church grounds in the old days. There are hidden treasures like this all over the country, but you’ll never find them cruising up and down the interstate. Get on some of the two lane roads and explore the gravel ones that lead off into nowhere and you never know what you might stumble upon. To give you an idea of some of the back road treasures awaiting you, check out my books Highway History and Back Road Mystery and Highway History and Back Road Mystery II.



Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for a campground rating, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – I want to lose weight, but I don’t want to get caught up in one of those “eat right and exercise” scams.

The Things You Hear!

 Posted by at 12:37 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 202019
 

I’m an eavesdropper. Some might say it’s because I’m nosy, but I justify it by saying that as an author, some of the best story ideas you get are based upon some overheard snippet of conversation. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! But sometimes you hear things that make it very hard to bite your tongue and not laugh out loud, give yourself away. Here’s an example.



I had to go to two different labs yesterday to get blood draws, one for my civilian doctor and one for my VA primary care doctor, both of whom I have appointments with in the next week or so. It would be nice if they would share information so I only had to get stuck once, but they don’t do that. We started the day with a trip to LabCorp here in Edgewater. Since we had already made the appointment online, it was a simple case of checking in and going right in back for a visit with their resident vampire. We were in and in out less than 15 minutes. Then, after a quick stop at the chiropractor for adjustments, we drove to Daytona Beach to the VA medical clinic there.

The lab there has about six stations side-by-side so you’re sitting next to other vets who are also getting blood drawn. Next to me was a woman that looked to be in her late 30s. Apparently she had been in earlier in the day and they tried several times and were not able to hit a vein, so they had her come back when another tech who is their go to person for difficult cases was available. That tech got it right the first time, much to the woman’s relief. It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud when she said, “I’m glad you know what you’re doing. I got poked more times this morning than I did on my honeymoon.” Yeah, that’s got to go in a book someday!

Since I had to fast before the lab work, once we were done at the VA we stopped at Leanh’s Chinese Restaurant for lunch, one of our favorite places. It was as delicious as always. Soon after we got back home it started raining, and we had a pretty strong thunderstorm that lasted a couple of hours. I had not slept well the night before, so I spent most of that time in my recliner dozing on and off.

A couple of readers have asked me how my fire ant bites are doing. Except for the big blistered one that was on my toes, the rest have cleared up nicely. That one is now an open sore that seems to be healing, although I have been having an incredible amount of pain in my foot the last two or three nights. Terry is watching it closely and there’s no sign of infection, but if it continues I’m going to have to go see a doctor.

Meanwhile, today is going to be another writing day. Monday and Tuesday were marathon days at the keyboard for me, knocking out 5,500 words one day and 6,500 the next. I really want to get this new book done by the end of the month, and if I keep up that pace I will. And since the temperatures are in the 90s with lots of humidity, staying inside and writing is going to be a lot more fun than doing much of anything outside. I will keep you updated on my progress.



It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for a campground rating, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – A happy marriage is when one half snores and the other one does not hear it.

Jun 192019
 

Just a few miles from busy State Route 99 in the heart of California’s San Joaquin Valley is a reminder of the hopes and dreams that helped build our nation, and of a man whose life story is one of perseverance and proof that where we start out in life has nothing to do with where we end up.

Allen Allensworth was born into slavery in Louisville, Kentucky in 1842, the youngest of thirteen children. As a boy he lost track of many of his siblings. At least one escaped to freedom in Canada, and others were “sold downriver” to plantations and farms throughout the South.



Young Allensworth had a thirst for knowledge, and though it was illegal for slaves to attend school, he took every opportunity to educate himself and to learn from anyone who would teach him. This raised the ire of his owner, who sold him to a plantation owner in the Deep South. But neither whippings or other punishments could stop the young boy from trying to better himself. He escaped at least twice by the time he was thirteen, and eventually was sold on the auction block and found himself in Louisiana.

His new owner, a man named Fred Scruggs, loved to race horses and taught the young boy to be a jockey. But whether he was working the fields or riding a horse, he was still a slave, and a soul like Allensworth’s could never live that way.

When the Civil War broke out he escaped and attached himself to the Union Army as a civilian medical aid to a surgeon. Later, in 1863, Allensworth enlisted in the Navy, where he was soon promoted to Captain’s steward and clerk. He served on the gunboats Queen City and Tawah for two years and impressed his officers and fellow sailors with his knowledge and devotion to duty.

After the war Allensworth, now a free man, entered into several business ventures, and also taught at schools for the newly freed slaves and their children. He became involved with the Baptist church in Louisville, studied theology, and was ordained as a minister. He served at churches in Kentucky and Tennessee, became an accomplished public speaker, and in 1880 and 1884, he was selected as Kentucky’s only black delegate to the Republican National Conventions.

In 1886, at age 44, Allensworth received an appointment as a chaplain in the US Army. One of the few black chaplains in the Army, he was assigned to the 24th Infantry Regiment, the Buffalo Soldiers. He served at a number of posts in the New Mexico Territory, to Fort Supply, Indian Territory, and in Montana. By the time he retired in 1906, Allensworth had been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, the highest rank attained by any African American at the time.

But retirement did not mean Allensworth was ready to sit in his rocking chair and reflect on his accomplishments. There was still too much to do! He helped establish several churches, and in 1908, he founded the town of Allensworth, California. It was the only town in the state to be founded, financed, and governed by African Americans.

The community thrived, and by 1914 boasted a population of over 200 people living on 900 acres of deeded land. The streets were named after famous African Americans and white abolitionists, including Sojourner Truth, author Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, and poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar. There was a school, church, library, stores, and shops. A debate club, brass band, an orchestra, a glee club, and other social and educational activities were available for children and adults alike.

Unfortunately, Allensworth’s dream of a community where African Americans could isolate themselves from much of the oppression and prejudice that existed at the time would be short lived. In 1914 the Santa Fe Railroad moved its depot from Allensworth to Alpaugh, which was a serious economic blow to the town. At the same time, water levels fell for irrigation and the drinking water became polluted by toxins. But the biggest setback came in September of that year when Colonel Allensworth was killed when he was hit by a motorcycle while on a visit to Monrovia, California.

Over time most of the residents moved away, seeking employment opportunities elsewhere, and Allensworth was fast becoming a ghost town. But the spirit of Allen Allensworth seems never to have left, and in spite of all of the hard times, the town refuses to die.

In 1974, California State Parks purchased land within the historical townsite of Allensworth, and created Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.

Today a collection of restored and reconstructed early 20th century buildings greet visitors, including the Colonel’s house (below), the schoolhouse, Baptist church, and library. Colonel Allensworth’s home is furnished in the 1912 period and displays items from his life in the Army and the ministry. The schoolhouse, which was in use until 1972, is furnished as it would have been on a typical school day in 1915.

The park’s visitor center features a video, “Allensworth: A Piece of the World,” which is available for viewing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., daily. Tours are available by making arrangements with the park in advance. Thousands of visitors come every year to see the old town and participate in the numerous special events held at the park. And once again farms surround the old community.



The park includes fifteen campsites that can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet long and are open year around. There are also facilities for disabled visitors.

Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park is located at 4011 Grant Dr, Earlimart, California and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (661) 849-3433 or visit the park’s website at http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=583.

Thought For The Day – I’m great at multitasking. I can listen, ignore, and forget all at the same time!