September 25, 2016


“Success isn’t owned.  It’s leased, and rent is due every day.”       J.J. Watt

Carol writes:  For the pro football fan, the ultimate destination is the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.  Al found a nice campground out in rural Holmes County, just a short drive from Canton.  What we didn’t realize before we got there was that Holmes County has the largest population of Amish anywhere in the country.  This part of Ohio certainly offers the chance to observe their technology-free way of life in which time stands still! 

With a population of approximately 36,000 Amish in a several-county area, while driving we had to be on constant lookout for the distinctive black horse-drawn buggies of the local Amish residents…and there were a lot of buggies on the road!

Amish-owned market stands were everywhere! 

Since we don’t have room in our RV for many souvenirs, most of our touristy purchases tend to be items we can eat.  No storage problem with that!  We took the opportunity to buy some yummy apple butter and apple strudel, and also stocked up on some of those incredible Amish home-grown fruits and veggies. 


The Pro Football Hall of Fame was quite entertaining!  One of the displays about the early days of football caught my eye.  It was about Byron “Whizzer” White, the only man ever to play professional football in addition to sitting as an associate justice on the Supreme Court!

Many of the other displays narrated stories of great players and events that we remembered well.  As diehard Denver Bronco fans, we were happy to see the Broncos well represented.  We were watching the game the night Payton Manning set the career record for passing touchdowns. 

One of our all-time favorite players was #84—tight end Shannon Sharpe—and there were the shoes he wore when he set some impressive records!

Colorful displays of immediately recognizable football jerseys caught the eye!

We spent lots of time with our heads bent over a large display case with a sample of every Super Bowl ring for the past 50 years.


For me, the most impressive room was the Pro Football Hall of Fame Gallery with its weirdly fascinating collection of bronze busts, grouped by year of induction of each player elected to the Hall of Fame.

Once again, by some strange coincidence, we just missed a Donald Trump sighting.  That very morning, accompanied by the current Hall of Fame president, Trump had been escorted through the Hall of Fame Gallery. Just a few hours later, we felt we were the luckier ones when we had the opportunity to have an extended conversation and a handshake with the docent who shook Payton Manning’s hand when he visited.

The Lombardi Trophy for the winner of next year’s Super Bowl was already on display.

Shoes, iconic jerseys, memorabilia, rings and bronze busts:  the Pro Football Hall of Fame was a fan’s delight!


Since we were not far from Cuyahoga Valley National Park, we could not pass up the opportunity for a visit.  The fact that this national park was spread out over many miles did not make for easy exploration, since much of the park was interspersed between private land and homes.
For our brief visit, we elected to ride our bikes on a portion of the paved Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail.  This trail was most representative of the reason for the park’s existence:  to preserve the history of the canal route through the Cuyahoga River valley.  Before the arrival of the railroad, this canal was a primary transportation artery between the Midwest and the East Coast and as such played a big part in the commercial development of the Midwest.

We enjoyed a great bike ride on the historic  towpath—over bridges, through tunnels, and beside now-dry historic locks along the trail.


Besides the Pro Football Hall of Fame, we had another destination that we wanted to see in the Canton area, and that was the McKinley Presidential Library and Museum. 

William McKinley, 25th President of the United States, was born in Niles, Ohio, but he called Canton home.  Alongside his wife, his final resting place was beneath the rotunda of a grandiose mausoleum atop a hill with 108 steps. 

Prior to the Presidency, William McKinley was also a Congressman from Ohio and Governor of Ohio.  He was a confident man and once said, “I have never been in doubt since I was old enough to think intelligently that I would someday be made president.” 

As President he led our nation to victory in the Spanish American War and was instrumental in acquiring Hawaii as a territory.  Prominent Canton residents were so bereft at his untimely death that they conceived such a grand burial site out of love for their beloved favorite son.

The McKinley Gallery section of the museum consisted of a large room with McKinley family artifacts from his early life in Canton as an attorney, in addition to memorabilia from the White House years.  Clever animated figures of the President and his wife, Ida Saxton McKinley, narrated explanations.

McKinley is pictured here with Theodore Roosevelt.  Assassinated by an anarchist in 1901 a year into his second term, he was succeeded by Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.

Nellie and William McKinley had two children, both of whom died at a young age, leaving them with no immediate heirs.  Thus, the Stark County Historical Society has taken on the responsibility of preserving McKinley artifacts.

The city of Canton has beautifully preserved the family home of President McKinley’s wife, Ida Saxton McKinley.  The Saxton home was in downtown Canton just a block from the so-called First Ladies Library. 

Aside from some china, campaign buttons, and a handful of dresses belonging to former First Ladies, the actual First Ladies Library had little else and admittedly was still a work in progress.  However, this museum was the gateway for a visit to Ida Saxton McKinley’s family home just a few doors down.  As a married couple, the McKinleys lived in Saxton House for 13 years of their married life.

The Saxton House was a Victorian-era beauty from the outside. 

Using historic photographs as models, the inside has been restored to its past glory with great attention to detail. 

That was a very enjoyable week’s stay near Canton as fall was just starting to reveal its colors along the rural byways of northeastern Ohio.  We found a variety of outings to fascinate the football fan and the history buff.  Add to this mix some great Amish food, surrounded by the ambience of the Amish way of life, and I can understand why the campground was packed to the brim with weekend campers.

For these pro football fans and presidential history junkies, this was a near-perfect stop.

“Our differences are policies, our agreements principles.”  President William McKinley

September 18, 2016


“A trip to nostalgia now and then is good for the spirit.”  Dan Bartolovic

Carol writes:  The Marietta College years in the late 1960s were a pivotal time in my life.  The decade of the Sixties was a time of great political unrest, much of it centered around the Vietnam War abroad and civil rights at home.  Students became very vocal on college campuses, and Marietta was no different.  In May 1970, the tragedy at Kent State occurred only two weeks before my graduation day. 

I was looking forward to visiting the campus for the first time since we had made a very brief stop in 1989 during our yearlong family trip on the road.  At that time, with two young children in tow, our visit on campus was very short, so my memory was a little fuzzy about the details.  This time around, with more time to linger, I was astounded at the changes that had taken place over the past 46 years.  It was quite noticeable that in recent years a large building and remodeling bonanza had taken place, such as the

new state-of-the-art Legacy Library 

and the Dyson-Baudo Recreation Center.

However, despite the external building boon that had occurred, inside some of the academic buildings small things were exactly the same as I remembered them:

the classroom where I had my Microbiology lectures

and the brown seats in the Biochemistry lecture hall, both of which hadn’t changed one bit in 46 years!

There was an interesting display case in the Rickey Science Center that memorialized one of Marietta College’s most famous graduates—Astronaut Story Musgrave, who was instrumental in repairing the Hubble Space Telescope as it orbited the Earth.  That incredible story hadn’t even been written when I was there…

I must give enormous credit to Al for his willingness to go along with me as I revisited academic buildings, such as Hermann Fine Arts Center where I took art and music courses,

old dorms like Elsie Newton Hall where I excitedly pointed out my freshman corner room where the whole college experience started…

and stately Marietta Hall, my home for three years.

From the start of our campus visit, I had hoped to get the chance to speak to one of the students, so when an enthusiastic young female student volunteered to answer some questions my husband and I had been discussing over lunch, I joined right in on the conversation.  As a senior, she had a very favorable opinion about her first 3 years at Marietta College, and she looked forward to her upcoming profession as a physician assistant; however, she seemed sad to admit that this year’s freshman class was the smallest in history.  The most shocking thing she told me was that the full cost of a single year at Marietta College was now $47,000!  My jaw dropped, then my spirits sagged too… 

Back in the 1960s, through a combination of scholarships, loans, student work and summer jobs, my blue-collar parents could actually fill in the gaps on the cost of putting two children through college at the same time; it wasn’t easy, but it was possible…  At today’s prices, Marietta College wouldn’t even have been an option for me!

As coincidence would have it, the weekend of our visit coincided with Marietta’s biggest celebration of the year:  The Sternwheel Festival.  Marietta is situated at the confluence of two great rivers—the Ohio and the Muskingum—and so it has a great riverboat history.  With each passing day, more sternwheelers arrived and tied up along the levee.  This made for great picture taking!

Local Republican Party headquarters was right in the middle of the sternwheel street festivities, so I couldn’t resist a pic... and apparently I couldn’t totally control my emotions.

While I was a student at Marietta College, the historic sites that were right under my nose escaped much of my notice.  But not this time…

We paid a visit to historic Mound Cemetery and climbed to the top via a crumbling stone staircase that was almost 200 years old.

A visit to the Campus Martius Museum explained that this Conus Mound was built by the Adena Indians sometime between 100 BC and 500 AD and was part of an ancient earthen works attributed to the Hopewell Native American Culture whose members lived in the river valleys of central and southern Ohio.  Sadly, the Marietta Earthworks did not survive subsequent city development.  Fortunately, that was not the fate of some of the ancient mounds, which served partly as burial sites and likely as ceremonial venues.  Instead, in 1803, Marietta’s Conus Mound was incorporated into what became the city’s cemetery, which has the distinction of having more burial sites of Revolutionary War officers than any other cemetery in the United States.

Al was interested to see the gravesite of Commodore Abraham Whipple, one of the founders of Marietta, in addition to being considered by many to be the Father of the Navy. 

The reason I remembered Mound Cemetery so vividly was that my roommate and I passed by it every Sunday on our walk to Mass at “St Mary’s,” now a church with a much longer name since being elevated to minor basilica status.

Marietta has the distinction of being the first permanent white settlement in the Northwest Territory.  The Campus Martius Museum showcased much of Marietta’s long history—from the time of the Earthworks pictured in this painting from 1788,

through the pioneer times of Rufus Putnam, one of the founders of Marietta, a general in the Revolutionary War, and the Father of the Northwest Territory.  Putnam’s original frontier log cabin, along with a later extension, was remarkably preserved under roof at the museum.

The interior rooms were furnished with period antiques.

One of the most interesting sections of the museum was the bottom floor that was devoted to the large-scale Appalachian Migration that took place from 1910 to 1970.  My mother and her family were part of this migration from Appalachia to the urban centers of Ohio.  Sometime in the 1930s, Mom’s family moved from West Virginia to the city of Cincinnati, most likely for better job opportunities.  It was fascinating to me to see part of my family history so clearly on view in this museum display.

How rewarding this Marietta trip back in time was to me... 

With the benefit of hindsight, I have realized that my Marietta days molded my life in so many good ways.  Admittedly, in some minor ways the campus had changed very little, but in most respects I could see that the college had indeed grown with the times.  It did my heart good to see a women’s soccer team jog off to practice... not many women's teams on campus in my school days, but commonplace now since Title IX.  I loved talking with an eager young woman student who was looking ahead to becoming a physician assistant, a curriculum that didn’t exist for me in the 60s.  And I must mention that we noticed a great deal of cultural diversity throughout the campus.

This past month has proven to me that my Ohio roots in Cincinnati and Marietta are deep ones.  It has been fun to explore the places where the seeds were planted.

“Life is here today, gone tomorrow, so sow the right seeds—you’ll be eating from your own garden.”  Barbara Pippins