Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Connecting To The Past - Cleveland's Terminal Tower

In researching for the historical novel I'm finishing up, I have run across some very interesting stories from the 1930s and 40s. Our landmark Terminal Tower in Cleveland not only has a connection to my story, it is also connected, I think, to my grandfather. There was a story told once or twice that sticks in my memory of my grandfather working on the construction site. Now I find this strange because my grandfather was a farmer. The only thing I can think of that would see him having another job is trying to make some extra dollars during the Great Depression.

The 52 story building was finished in 1930 and was first known as Cleveland Union Terminal. It was a major train hub and a place where many soldiers connected for their ride to military bases during World War II. The building that was once the second tallest in North America is still the centerpiece and iconic structure of the city.

I remember as a child a field trip that took us by bus to the Terminal Tower, as it became known, and we boarded a train for someplace near Dover, Ohio, where buses awaited us and took us to the Warther Museum where Mr. Warther sat on the back steps of his home and demonstrated how he could carve a pair of pliers from a stick of wood. It was a few years after that when rail service declined and the bustling hub was no longer busy with travelers.

There were some dark days. Once the railroads no longer used the building it emptied and started to decline from disrepair. In the 1970s, The huge space was empty and along with other nasty Cleveland jokes, we became known as the city where "the lake is Erie and the tower is Terminal." In 1976 a Vietnam veteran protesting job discrimination held C&O Railroad executives hostage on the 36th floor for a time. The next year railroad service came to an end. I'm sure the two incidents were not related.

In years to follow, the Tower became a place of staging some publicity stunts and then became the name of the recording company, Terminal Records, of local musician, Mike Hudson, who loved the old building. In 1990 a more prestigious group, the Cleveland Orchestra, began staging July 4 concerts in front of the building on Public Square.

The Terminal Tower eventually became known also as The Avenue as it was completely restored and revitalized with an upscale shopping mall inside. The Cleveland Rapid Transit Authority has its main terminal downstairs where the train terminal once was and the upper floors have been renovated and returned to their 1930s original look. The observation deck which I've visited several times in the past is also now open again and on a clear day--well, you can see forever, almost.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Chillin' Out in the Summertime

by Connie Cortright

Right on schedule, summer has come to the Midwest in full force just in time for college students to move into the dorms. Temperatures have reached the point where we had to turn on the air conditioning in our house-day and night. How did people survive summer before AC was the rule of the day? They must have been made of sterner stuff than we are.

Our grandparents and great-grandparents lived without air conditioning every day. Farm houses had thick stone walls to try to keep the heat out in the summertime, but that only lasted so long. Also, back then many homes were built with detached kitchens to keep the heated cooking space separate from the main house - at least in wealthy Southern houses.

Through my research into the history of air conditioning, I learned that people back in the 20s and 30s very likely experienced air conditioning - not in their homes, but in industry and commercial buildings.

Air conditioning is credited in large part to Willis Carrier who in 1902 invented a device that cooled the air and took out the humidity. It was for industrial use only, the paper industry being the first one to use it. It kept the paper from wrinkling and the ink from smearing in the printing business.

Through the next decade he improved his invention by making the machines smaller and more efficient. The use spread to other industries - tobacco, processed meats, textiles, etc.

The public got it's first taste of air conditioning in the movie theaters. By the 1920s cool air in theaters was used for marketing purposes. Air conditioners, known as chillers, brought the public to see the latest films since theaters were a cool haven away from the hot humid air. This boosted theater attendance during the summer months.

In 1924 the first store to install a chiller was a department store in Detroit, Michigan. Shoppers came to the store to shop in the cool climate. Soon other stores followed with the idea spreading rapidly. The Depression and World War II slowed the spread of air conditioning, but the industry grew quickly after that.

The first home air conditioner was installed in 1914 --7 feet high, 6 feet wide, and 20 feet long - in a mansion in Minneapolis. I can see why they weren't very practical back then. It was never really used because no one lived in the mansion after it was installed.

With the improvements made during the ensuing years, it was still many years before they were at all practical to add to houses. By 1931 room air conditioners were finally made to fit in windows. These chillers cost between $10,000 and $50,000 then ($120,000 to $600,000 in today's dollars). Only the very wealthy could afford them. I'm sure none of our grandparents were in that category.

The first automobile to have a chiller installed was the 1939 Packard. However, when the passengers got too cold, the driver had to stop the car and unhook the compressor belt to turn off the AC.

Today we are so used to having cool air in our homes, work places, and cars we couldn't live without it. We can even claim we need it for health reasons. The number of elderly people dying from heat stroke has declined since AC has been installed in most homes. It has also allowed cities to be built in places that were practically uninhabitable a hundred years ago because of heat and humidity. Maybe the good ol' days weren't so good after all!

Catch more historical tidbits on Through the Milk Door

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Tomato soup day

Garden tomatoes, anyone?
Lisa Lickel

A couple of years ago I came across a great tomato soup recipe for canning. This year we happen to have enough tomatoes to make all the great stuff we use all winter, so I dug out the recipe again.

I'm making half of the original recipe, which yields, for me, 14 pints. That's about what I might eat throughout the winter months...mmmm.

7 quarts fresh tomatoes, cut up
7 stalks of celery, chunked
a handful each of chopped parsley and chopped basil
10 whole cloves
6 bay leaves
3 good sized onions

Cook all the above in a big stock pot, stirring fairly frequently an hour or so, or until everything is soft. Remove from heat, take out the bay leaves and any cloves you find,

and run it through a food mill.

This year I bought one of those little blender/chopper dealies. I hate to waste anything, so I ran my schmutzie stuff through it...I don't mind eating tomato seeds and I was thrilled that I could puree the skins and chunky stuff and still use it.

Return your liquids/purees to the stock pot and blend in:
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp paprika
3/4 c. melted butter
1/2 c. flour

Stir the above ingredients in and cook another twenty minutes.
My friend Jill freezes her soup. I can it, 35 min at 10 lbs in the pressure canner.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Adventure in Everything by Peggy Bennitt

by Peggy Bennitt

Anytime my sister and I take a trip together, it becomes a Grand Adventure. We travel the back roads. We stop and take pictures of things that interest us. We set a destination and an approximate time frame, but we go with the flow—no stress, no rush. Even if just for a few days, it is a true vacation from the routine of living. This time, we took my granddaughter with us, and her excitement made the expedition even more fun.

The three of us decided to visit the Creation Museum, just over the Ohio border, in Kentucky, but the trip there and back was a small adventure on its own. As we left Michigan, we meandered through the farm lands of Ohio, intrigued by the majesty of the windmills which are planted throughout the countryside along US 127. It was fascinating to observe the ingenuity of man nestled in the bounty and beauty of God’s nature.
As we continued south, we came to a beautiful town called Celina. (That’s pronounced ceh line a, we
were informed.) The area in and around Celina are a treat for shutterbugs, with old architecture, cemeteries, and churches, next to modern stores and conveniences.

Another beautiful site along this route was this outstandingly beautiful senior living complex. My sister and I were ready to apply right then and there! We never imagined that it was senior housing when we first caught site of it from the road. What grandeur this amazing structure exhibits! I wonder what the apartments look like? How wonderful if the owners kept the historical design throughout the modernization process that must have needed to be done inside the building. The grounds were well manicured and the building’s fa├žade complimented the serenity and peacefulness that seemed to envelope the castle-like structure. Oh, how I long to know more about this gothic-type building. I feel some research coming on. What wonders will that divulge?

Churches with cemeteries always seem special; there’s a cozy permanence about them: a place where one will be remembered maybe a little longer, or at least be an intriguing question mark for generations to come. This was an especially interesting and sad reminder of mankind’s failings: a headstone to remember all the unborn children who have lost the right to live because of irresponsible lifestyles, fear, selfishness, or lack of trust in God’s faithfulness.

We saw numerous other churches and many glimpses of small town America as we traveled through just three of our states on our way to the Creation Museum. What an amazing Country we have! Our country is not perfect, but she has character and heart, and keeps on going amidst setbacks and hard times. Sometime in the near future, take the time to “have an adventure” with family and/or friends and revisit the Country we live in. Become reacquainted with her, and visit some of the nooks and crannies that make our Country so wonderful. 

As we settled in for the night just a few miles from our destination, we talked about how we’d stumbled on some interesting and unusual sites that we would have missed had we gone on the expressway. Even though we were all tired, we were excitedly looking forward to the next two days of adventure in the Creation Museum itself.

Finally, we settled down and slept, waking to another beautiful day; a perfect day to begin our visit by wandering through the gardens of the Museum, including watching the zip-liners and even taking a camel ride. Following are some glimpses of the beautiful gardens that surely must be a reflection of Eden.

The work of creation must have been a lot of fun for God, don’t you think? Walking through the beauty of the gardens at the Museum was amazing, very peaceful, relaxing, and yet a workout for the body. When God did the work of creating, He enjoyed Himself, and it shows. We would be wise to look for work that gives us joy; not just a paycheck.

The profusion of flowers and plants throughout the gardens is awe-inspiring. I’ve rarely seen such variety, and many of the plants were huge! We spent the entire day in the gardens and could have stayed longer if there had been more time. It was easy for us to imagine Adam and Eve strolling in the cool of the evening with their Maker.

Join me here next month on September 30th, for the adventure and intrigue of the Museum itself: a refresher course for those who have studied the Bible, an interesting and inspiring journey for those who have not, and a reminder of days-gone-by for those who may have missed a few chapters. Visit the petting farm as well, and meet the Zorse and Zonkey, as well as C. J. and Gomer, the camels. It’s great fun for the whole family—something for everyone! See you next month. 

Friday, August 29, 2014


Swimming pool water’s no longer blue,

Autumn sedum is changing hue

Sun will set at 7:42

Falling leaves have jumped their cue

My tennies are no longer new

Cub’s fans hopes are down the loo

Baby birds done grew and flew

Looks like summer is almost through.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Small Towns, Big Opportunities

by Deb Donahue

One of my concerns about moving back to small town Midwest from the big city was thinking that I would not be able to find many like-minded writers and promotional opportunities.  When I first lived here, I had been able to form my own writers group by placing an ad in the local paper, and that had served me well since we were all basically beginners at that time and were able to grow and learn together.

As a professional, published author, however, I knew I would find fewer writers nearby with enough experience and success to help me stretch and test my skills to improve them.  The internet age has made it easier for me to keep in touch with members of my old writers circle and to meet new authors as well. It isn’t quite the same, though, and doesn’t really provide local promotional opportunities.   

I was expecting a long, lonely road.
Luckily, I’ve found a few surprises that tell me I was perhaps wrong to worry so much.  Since moving back a little over a year ago, I have participated in as many local author events as I did in five years living in Seattle.  In addition to doing readings and talks at a local library, my proximity to larger towns like Chicago and Rockford have enabled me to join two very active writer’s organizations.

The Chicago Writer’sAssociation has a large contingent of members that participate in monthly meetings and sponsor several events, plus produces a newsletter that does book reviews.  While distance has prevented me from taking advantage of the interesting speakers they have at their meetings, I was able to attend  Chicago’s Printers Row Lit Fest thanks to my membership, and had a review published in their newsletter.

Affiliated with the CWA is InPrint, a group based in Rockford, which is quite a bit closer to me. They hosted an all-day author fair at the DeKalb public library that I was able to attend, and will be hosting a unique event September 5 called Word of Art.  Authors were invited to submit short poems or prose and then artists were invited to choose a piece as the inspiration for a work of art.

A sneak peek of the final artwork inspired by An Autumn Afternoon
My story, An Autumn Afternoon, was selected by artist Kathy Baker, and they posted a teaser of the complete canvas on the Word or Art Facebook page that makes me intrigued to see the whole picture.  On September 5, I will be able to see the completed artwork, read my story to attendees, and sign copies of the book they are compiling that includes stories and art side by side.

InPrint also has monthly meetings, with guest speakers, and will host a book fair in October where I will have a chance to sell my books and meet readers and fellow writers alike.  Attending those will provide more coverage and more contacts in just a few months than being a member of the Pacific Writer’s Association in Seattle did in five years.

Meaning I now have to eat my words about there being fewer opportunities in small town Midwest.  Opportunities are anywhere you look for them.  Have you found Midwest resources that surprise or delight you?  I would love to hear about them.

Deb Donahue can also be found at WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Amazon.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Getting Ready for Bed… 
By Robin J. Steinweg


Comb your whiskers

Wash your paws

Clean your teeth and

Trim your claws


Pull up the covers

Eyes shut tight

Go to sleep

Till the morning light




Fold your wings,

Relax your ears. The

Sun is rising;

Day is near.


Upside down, now

Hold on tight.

Go to sleep

Until the night.




Sip your water,

Blow your nose.

Fluff your pillow,

Count your toes.


Pull down the covers,

Squeeze Mommy tight.

Hug Daddy and

Turn out the light.


Listen to a story,

Sing a song.

Sleep so sweetly

All night long!


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