A Blessing For The New Year

The Irish have a way with words and many of those words are tv appropriate as we greet the new year. This one is perhaps my favorite.

“May the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past.”

This is my wish for you and yours. But here’s another wish. “May you get all your wishes but one so that you always have something to strive for.”

This is another key to happiness- to always have something to improve and work toward. It’s important and healthy to have room for improvement. Maybe that’s why we embrace resolutions – by striving to improve, we are striving toward happiness.

Happy New Year, my friends! Let’s show ‘em what we’re made of in 2023!

Library Lions

Meet Patience and Fortitude. These fabulous Pink Tennessee Marble Lions have been greeting guests and guarding the New York City Public Library since its dedication in May 1911. The library is a magnificent Beaux Arts building that’s one of the most famous libraries in the world.

These sculptures are among the most photographed pieces of public art in New York and they were on my bucket list when we visited the city.

Located conveniently just a few city blocks from Grand Central Station, we were able to hoof it there for pictures. Sadly, our timing was bad and we missed seeing inside the famed library (that’s ok, we will go back another time). Still, I was overjoyed to meet the pair of famous felines.

Their names changed a few times in the early years. They were originally named for the city library system’s founders John Jacob Aster and James Lenox. They were later called Lady Astor and Lord Lenox.

In the thirties, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia renamed them Patience and Fortitude for the qualities he believed New Yorkers would need to survive the Depression. The names stuck and the rest is history.

They really have stood the test of time as they are more popular than ever. Back in 2019, the lions were professionally cleaned and restored, making them look good as new.

When we were there, several tourists were milling about with their selfie sticks and taking turns photographing their groups with the lions. It was lovely and refreshing to see people so excited about art and a library.

Go if you are in New York. Get your picture with them and be sure to go in for a look see. I’ll make it back for my tour one of these days!

Christmas At Haslett House

There’s a restoration project underway at a historic home in Wellston, Ohio. The owners have moved mountains bringing this gorgeous old house back from the brink. I got to see inside yesterday as they have been opening it for tours during the holidays.

A man named Charles Haslett had the home built and his family moved in around Christmas in 1909. The home cost about $8,000 to build – well over a million dollars in modern money.

The property was originally an 800 acre farm. Tunnels were built from the home to the barns and one still exists. A small ballroom graces the third floor and all of the rooms have large windows and beautiful woodwork.

Haslett was a local politician and the youngest person to ever be Jackson County Commissioner. He ran for state office, operated a highly successful dairy, owned coal mines and had a number of other business interests. To say he was a hard worker is an understatement.

Here’s the entrance to the tunnel that runs from the home to the carriage house. Imagine being able to get from the house to the carriage without going into the cold!

As part of the tour, they sat our group of 47 participants in the newly restored carriage house, fed us refreshments and told us stories. We learned about the house, the Haslett family and the restoration. We also saw pictures and learned about the golden age of mining in Wellston and nearby Coalton.

In case you don’t know, Wellston was home to one of the finest veins of coal you’ll find anywhere. There was great wealth there and abundant opportunities to be entertained, to shop and to drink.

Mr. Haslett operated a race track very close to his home, a popular destination for harness racing enthusiasts from far and wide. When he grew tired of operating the track, he donated the land to create permanent county fairgrounds.

Countless people have benefited from his generosity and business acumen, particularly the generations of kids who have been involved in 4H.

One of Mr Haslett’s daughters inherited the home after his death by suicide in 1939. She eventually sold everything by auction before the property changed hands a number of times.

The home was vacant for a decade or more, left vulnerable to vandals, homeless people and drug deals. At one point, someone pulled up with a truck and carried out doors, stained glass windows and other architectural pieces. They even used chainsaws to remove priceless pocket doors.

I was indignant at the very idea.

The new owners have done beautiful work breathing new life into the place when many others might have jumped ship. They shared pre-renovation pictures and it’s practically unrecognizable. The floors are especially gorgeous.

I really liked the areas with personal touches, things that belonged to the original owners.

It’s so well done, especially given that this is a family working together rather than an organization that might have more volunteers or access to grant funding. Our tour guide was the owners’ daughters. She’s a local teacher who has been doing the research into the home, property and the place in this world occupied by Mr Haslett and his family. She has clearly done her homework and gave a fun tour.

She said they will have more work done in time for the Christmas tour next year. I will absolutely go back. Admission was free but they were accepting donations for the Wellston High School Band.

I’ll share a few more pictures in the Make the Journey Fun Facebook page so be sure to check over there for more.

Cork ‘N Bottle

The Cork ‘N Bottle is on the main drag in Cortez, Colorado. I couldn’t tell you a thing about the building but the sign is amazing.

My western adventure pal is a good friend. She understood the cue when she heard me gasp, slamming on the brakes for a quick picture.

Isn’t it fabulous?

Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving in America. This is meant to be a day of thanks for the blessings we’ve enjoyed for the last year but it’s more a day of food and football. Tomorrow, as folks will spend the day buying a bunch of stuff they probably don’t need and can’t afford.

A Norman Rockwell painting we are not.

This painting is called “Home For Thanksgiving.” It was featured on the November 24, 1945 cover of The Saturday Evening Post. That was 77 years ago today.

The young man and his mother were real people. He was freshly home from the war and helping his mother with chores he likely would have hated doing in the Army Air Corps. Kitchen Patrol or KP duty probably didn’t seem so bad in the warmth of his mama’s kitchen.

Rockwell paid them each $15 to sit for the portrait. I read once that they owned the local dairy in their Vermont small town and that the young man was Rockwell’s milkman.

This painting was donated to the Eugene M. Connor Post 193 of the American Legion in Massachusetts many years ago. But they didn’t know it was an original and left it hanging in a hallway for decades. When someone offered $500 for what the Legion thought was a print, they took it to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts for appraisal.

After learning they owned an American treasure, they loaned it to the museum for display and safekeeping.

Just last year, the Legion sold it at auction for $4.3 million. This hefty sum went into a trust and interest earned will help pay bills and fund future repairs for the Legion.

It’s a beautiful slice of Americana and I like how it illustrates a nation transitioning from wartime into peacetime. Something so everyday like peeling potatoes probably felt almost luxurious to the soldier and his mother who had suffered untold sleepless nights in his absence.

Her relief is palpable.

Gratitude would have been the only thing that mattered in many households across the nation that Thanksgiving. Our soldiers were headed home. Life was returning to a new normal. Life was good.

Wherever you are in this world today, I hope life is good. Happy Thanksgiving!

Rearview

I took a long stroll around Chillicothe’s Yoctangee Park one afternoon earlier this year. There had been a car show in town that day and there were a number of classics cruising through the downtown area.

Seeing them at a car show is terrific but spotting them out in the wind is amazing. So I was delighted see one pull up behind me at a traffic light. Just as I went to snap the picture in my review mirror — this happened!

Two classics of different eras in the rearview of my modern car! Perfect!