Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Eats & Treats VT to OH

While on a cross country road trip from New Hampshire to Oregon, we're sampling foods along the way. (Eating out while traveling is calorie-free, isn't it?)  Here's a sampling of places we've tried from from VT to OH.

There’s always a NJ connection and we found it in Bennington, VT— The Blue Benn, a diner that’s true blue from its exterior to it's interior stool seating was shipped from our home state of NJ to Bennington, VT.

It was assembled on-site along Rte 7 in 1948 after the diner body was manufactured by the Paterson Vehicle Co., (known as Silk City) in Paterson, NJ during the 1940s. Eating here is like taking a step back in time. 
The diner’s bright blue color is a standout and after you enter it's line taking a step back in time. The classic lunch counter is complete with stool seating; there’s also booth seating, which is at a premium most days, especially weekends. 
Check out the menu and ifs those choices aren't enough, then look at the many signs and on boards plastered behind the counter. You might need some time, there’s a lot of signs.
Here's a real treat, do you remember when diners included small, wall-mounted jukeboxes on the tables. Guess what,  they're at the the Blue Benn, where the song selection range from country classics. 1940s hits to old time rock and roll. And, you get two plays for a quarter. What a deal!
The Blue Benn is a diner in the truest sense, so don't look for gourmet cuisine. But you can find traditional favorites like pot roast, turkey dinner, meat loaf and mashed potatoes served in plentiful portions. And, like most true diners, breakfast is served all day. and that's how we celebrated Grenville's birthday here.

The Blue Benn has been featured in publications such as Vermont Life, Martha Stewart and Yankee magazines, and the New York TimesIf you go, leave the credit cards and personal checks home as it's a cash-only eatery.

Shirley’s Country Kitchen on Old French Road in Erie, PA is a local breakfast place where you have breakfast all day during open hours. t's also one of those places where everyone would know you name, if you lived there. 

Bakery items are fresh baked on site by the owner, Shirley, who formerly ran a bakery from her home. There’s seating for 50-60 people at small and large tables. We ate our breakfast before I remembered that we hadn’t taken a photo. (We were hungry that morning.)

Denny’s Ice Cream Stand on Parade St. in Erie, PA, is the place to go if you’re there on a hot summer day (as we were). This is a one-of-a-kind place that also serves fast food items, but it seems that many folks go just for the ice cream as we did.
You won’t find it anyplace else as this is its only location. It's a take-out only with just a couple of benches near the parking area, so we opted to enjoy sundaes in our car. The most popular flavor is one called is Blue Moon, which we didn't try (maybe next time).

Sure, most folks have seen or eaten at drive-ins that serve hot dogs and hamburgers. But, 
what about a place where a turkey sandwich is the featured and best known menu item and the featured beverage is frosty-cold root beer?

If you answered No, then you haven't been to the White Turkey Drive-In, Conneaut, OH. This place is a go-to local place for fast, comfort foods including not only turkey sandwiches, but burgers, hot dogs & root beer floats and more.

The White Turkey Drive-In is not named after its founders, here's a surprise — it's named after a breed of turkey. 
Years ago original owners Eddie and Marge Tuttle visited a RICHardson Root Beer stand on vacation. They liked the rich flavor of the drink so much that they bought the franchise in 1952 and opened their own restaurant. 
Here's the turkey connection. 

The Tuttles operated a turkey ranch at their Conneaut home and wanted to create a menu item to showcase their farm-raised turkey, the White Holland breed. That's how, Marge eventually created the now famous turkey sandwich which is shredded turkey meat served with mayonnaise on a hamburger-like bun. 

Yes, we ordered a turkey sandwich, but it was a "to go" order for lunch on the road and I neglected to take a photo before  devouring eating it (it was tasty). 

Root beer remains the most popular beverage and Grenville sampled one "just to make sure" it was "that good" and he said that it was.

A vintage RICHardson root beer keg on the counter is used to dispense the root beer.  

Currently, the third generation of family members operate the business which is only open during summer months. It's an outdoor dining experience with counter seating on stools or in a shaded area in back of the drive-in. If you plan to stop, leave the credit card behind, it's a cash-only dining experience.

Tony Packo's Cafe gained world-wide fame when M*A*S*H character Maxwell Klinger, played by Toledo native Jamie Farr, mentioned the restaurant in six episodes and it was also mentioned in the 2-1/2 hour final episode. The restaurant displays several M*A*S*H mementos on the premises.

Tony's Packo’s signature sandwich resembles a hot dog known as the "Hungarian hot dog.” and the cafe is billed as "the place where man bites dog". The "hot dog" is a Hungarian sausage called kolbász, not unlike Polish kielbasa, about twice the diameter of a conventional hot dog. Grenville ordered the MOAD (mother of all dogs) and yes, he ate the whole dog. Mine was a "regular" dog.

The other thing the cafe is noted for is the large (on all the walls) collection of celebrity-signed hot dog buns, replicas not the real thing. The tradition dates to 1972 when actor Burt Reynolds stopped in and when asked for an autograph, signed a bun. Ever since, visiting celebrities sign a foam air-brushed bun which is then displayed on the walls. We spent time before we found Jamie "Klinger" Farr and Gary "Radar" Burgoff. 

If you dine at Tony Packo's, you'll find that "hot dogs" are most expensive than you thought.

Handel's Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt in Toledo, OH, (and 7 other states) was named one of the best ice creams in the world by The 10 Best of Everything and Everyone Loves Ice Cream. With credentials  like that, of course, we had to try it when in OH. 

In July 1945, Alice Handel began serving ice cream out of her husband's gas station in Youngstown, OH. The first batches were made using old-fashioned recipes with fresh fruit picked from her own backyard. Today, there's close to 100 flavors of homemade ice cream and yogurt made fresh daily using products, equipment, methods and recipes exclusive only to Handel’s. Unfortunately, we didn't have the time to try more than a couple.

These were some highlights of eateries we enjoyed during the first week of our cross country travels. There's (lots) more to come . . .

Monday, July 30, 2018

Free Art is Good

We're currently on a cross country road trip from New Hampshire to Oregon and posting about sites along the way. This post is about a stop in Toledo, OH.

Free is good and when you can see masterpieces of art and sculpture it's even better!
That said, if you're ever in Toledo, Ohio, be sure to visit the the Toledo Museum of Art. This internationally known art museum is located in the Old West End (OWE) neighborhood and houses a collection of more than 30,000 objects. The museum has major collections of glass art and of 19th- and 20th-century European and American art, as well as small collections of Renaissance, Greek, Roman and Japanese art. 

Since you'll be in the neighborhood, be sure to drive around the side streets because the OWE area is truly one-of-a kind. It consists of 25 city blocks that comprise one of the largest collections of late Victorian houses remaining in the U.S. Houses styles include Colonial, Georgian, Italian Renaissance, Queen Ann, Dutch Colonial, French Second Empire and Arts and Crafts.
Internet source

After the museum visit, we spent time driving up and down some streets in the OWE area. There were a lot of oohs and aahs from both Grenville and myself. Every time we saw a magnificent and large home, an even more impressive one would be on the opposite side. Being former owners of an older (but much smaller home) we know much upkeep is required for these vintage homes.

The Toledo Museum of Art was founded in 1901 by Edward Drummond Libbey, who started the Libbey Glass Company in 1888 in Toledo where the company is still located. The museum relocated to its current location on Monroe Street in 1912. The main building was expanded in the 1920s and 1930s. Other buildings were added in the 1990s and 2006.

The Peristyle, a 1,750-seat concert hall in the east wing, is the principal concert space for the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. Added in 1933, it was designed in classical style to match the museum's exterior. 
Internet source
The name means "an area surrounded by columns" and its unique architectural feature is a curving row of 28 Ionic columns that surround the main seating area arranged in tiers similar to ancient Greece theaters.

The museums's most unique building is the Glass Pavilion which opened in 2006. The exterior and many of the pavilion's interior walls are made entirely of glass. The roof and interior structural supports are made of steel. Each of the more than 360 panels, many curved, that make up the glass walls measures about 8 feet wide by 13-1/2 feet high and weighs 1,300 to 1,500 pounds. The curved glass walls were imported from China. 

Celebrating Libbey Glass 1818-2018 was the main exhibit during our visit to mark the company's 200th anniversary.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Ohio RR Museum

We're currently on a cross country road trip from New Hampshire to Oregon and posting about sites along the way. This post is about a stop in Conneaut, OH.

Sometimes you'll find the interesting places when least expected. That’s what happened as we drove from Erie, PA to our next stop (Toledo, OH). Grenville, a long time RR fan spotted a sign for the Conneaut Railroad Museum. 

Usually small local museums are only open weekends or specified days/hours. We were there on a mid-week afternoon and didn't expect to find it open. To our surprise, a sign said it would open at noon, shortly after our arrival. The museum is maintained by the Conneaut Historical Railroad Museum, Admission is free and donations are accepted, which was a small cost for such an unexpected and informative stop.
Photo courtesy of Conneaut Historical Railroad Museum
The museum is housed in a passenger station originally built for the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern in 1900 and the building is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It's full of railroad history and information. There's a model railroad setup in a back room which youngsters and adults were enjoying when we visited. (Aside from the outside trains, this is the only part of the museum that young children would enjoy.)

Exhibits emphasize the locomotives and equipment that helped to make Conneaut a significant part of railroad transportation in the state of OH. 

There’s a lot of railroad memorabilia including assorted displays of lanterns, timetables, passes and old photos. There’s also several scale models of various locomotives.

An interesting display was an 1857 free railroad travel permit issued to the chief attorney for the Illinois Central Railroad, Abraham Lincoln before he became a U.S. president.

There are relics from the 1876 Astabula Bridge Disaster, a derailment caused by the failure of a bridge over the Ashtabula River some 1,000 feet from the railroad station at Ashtabula, in far northeastern OH. On the evening of Dec 29,1876, the bridge collapsed and plunged two locomotives hauling 11 railcars of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway and and 159 passengers into the river in deep snow. Heated by stoves, the wooden cars were set on fire. The accident killed 92 people and was the worst U.S. rail disaster until the Great Train Wreck of 1918.

Located on the museum grounds is its premier display, a Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 755. The engine is on display with a hopper car and caboose from the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad. Visitors can climb aboard the steam engine and see the controls from an enclosed display complete with a (very quiet) engineer.
There's a stairway that visitors can use to access the caboose interior. 

Nickel Plate Road no. 755 is a 2-8-4 Berkshire type steam locomotive built in 1944 by the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio. Classified as a "S-2" class Berkshire, the locomotive operated fast, heavy freight and passenger trains until its retirement in 1958. The Berkshire locomotive was named after its testing location on the Berkshire Hills of the Boston & Albany Railroad. 

The New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad (abbreviated NYC&St.L) operated in the mid-central U. S and was commonly referred to as the Nickel Plate Road. Its widely accepted that the term "Nickel Plate" was first used in a March 1981 article in the Chronicle of Norwalk, OH. The paper reported the arrival of a party of engineers to make a survey for the "great New York and St. Louis double track, nickel plated railroad."
Photo courtesy of Conneaut Historical Railroad Museum
If you happen to be travel through Ohio and are looking for a local RR museum (or not) this is a great one to see. It’s located between Broad and Mill St on, where else, Depot St. in Conneaut, OH, and open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Be sure to bring your curiosity and a donation.

Since you're in town, stop at the White Turkey Drive on E. Main Street In for a turkey sandwich and cold root beer.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Generating History & The Zoo

We're currently on a cross country road trip from New Hampshire to Oregon and posting about sites along the way. This post is about a stop in Erie, PA.

The Erie Maritime Museum is located on Presque Isle Bay in It opened in May 1998, it was the first new Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) museum in 20 years. 

The museum serves as homeport for the U.S. Brig Niagara, which is a modern recreation of the ship that fought in the Battle of Lake Erie.
The post title refers to the fact that the museum is housed in a former PA steam-powered electricity generating station.

The museum offers a range of multimedia and interactive exhibits and interpretive programs to illustrate the region's maritime heritage. It has numerous historical artifacts, interactive exhibits, and videos to illustrate the Battle of Lake Erie in September 1813.

Commodore Oliver H. Perry transferred his command to the U.S. Brig Niagara. Then, he and his crew won a stunning victory over a British squadron, immortalized by Perry’s words: “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”

The U.S. Brig Niagara, a modern recreation reconstructed in 1988, is a certified sailing school vessel that offers sailing opportunities on the Great Lakes. When in port, the ship is the major "exhibit and is open for tours. Unfortunately for us, it was not at its home port when we visited. The photo above was of a model which was in a glass case.

A dramatic display is the adjoining section of the Lawrence replica that has been blasted with live ammunition from the current Niagara's own carronades at the National Guard training facility.
This "live fire" exhibit of the damage inflicted on the Lawrence recreates the carnage inflicted on both ships and men during the Battle of Lake Erie and throughout the Age of Fighting Sail.

While we found the museum interesting, it's not a place that very young children or even some adults would enjoy. It has a limited focus and when the premier exhibit (U.S. Brig Niagara) is not there, it's disappointing to museum goers, including us. 

Since we needed a bit of fun, we headed to the Erie Zoo, which is located on 15 acres within the city. it was a fairly warm day when we visited and many of the animals were seeing shelter or resting, like this red panda and white rhino.

The zoo has more than 400 animals, and the botanical gardens and greenhouse have over 600 species of plants from around the world. 

The zoo, which operates from March to November, attracts more than 400,000 annual visitors. The monkeys are always a favorite exhibit, although photographing animals in cages is not my preference, this fellow was quite obliging with a pose.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Art and A Wasp

We're currently on a cross country road trip from New Hampshire to Oregon and posting about sites along the way. This post is about a stop in Bennington, VT.

If you're wondering about the post title, there is a connection in The Bennington Museum.

The Bennington Museum dates to 1852 with the incorporation of the Bennington Historical Association founded to commemorate the 1777 Revolutionary War battle fought fought near and named for the town. In 1891, after dedication of the Bennington Battle Monument, the Association wanted to create a comprehensive preservation of the region's history, art, and culture. In 1923, the Association acquired the native stone structure of the former St. Francis De Sales Catholic Church (1855-1892) shown above. 

After renovations, the museum opened in 1928 as the Bennington Historical Museum and in 1954, changed its name from the Bennington Historical Museum and Art Gallery to the The Bennington Museum. The museum has a notable collection of art and a large collection of art and historical artifacts with a special focus on Vermont and adjacent areas of New York and Massachusetts.

Here's the museums most famous art connection.

It holds the world's largest public collection of paintings by American folk artist Grandma Moses, Anna Mary Robertson (1860-1961). She began painting in her 70s and soon was one of America’s most famous artists known for scenes of rural life of bygone America.

Grandma Moses spent most of her life in Eagle Bridge, NY, 15 miles NW of Bennington and painted many Vermont scenes including Bennington (1953) which includes the gray stone Bennington Museum. 

She was well known for her holiday and winter “fun” paintings and painted cheerful images based on memories of growing up on a farm and being a farmwife.

Photographs were not allowed for this exhibit. Ones shown below are from Internet sources solely for purposes of illustration.
Bennington by Grandma Moses, Internet source

Grandma Moses paintings, Internet sources

Now, here's the wasp connection, but it's not what you may be thinking there's no insect. 

The “Gilded Age Vermont” exhibit included a luxury auto that (to our surprise too) was made in Bennington. This was a beautifully appointed touring car as shown below.

The Martin-Wasp was made by Karl Martin (shown below) between 1919 and 1924. Martin built 16 of the cars. After 1925, two more were assembled from spare parts. Curious about the original cost of this custom-built car, I searched online and learned that actor Douglas Fairbanks, then one of the nation’s top movie stars, purchased a Martin-Wasp for $5,500 while on display in the Commodore Hotel in NYC and had it shipped to his Beverly Hills, CA mansion.
Internet source

The Martin-Wasp auto on display in the Bennington Museum is a 1924 6-cylinder model that was restored by collector Henry Marvin Dodge using a rolling chassis and spare parts purchased from Karl H. Martin in 1953. Martin never saw the results of this restoration as he died before it was completed at age 66.