Remembering Mr. Prusas

There was a man who I crossed paths with years ago while I worked my way through college as a student assistant in the university library.

He was a well dressed elderly man who came in early every morning. He read things like the New York Times and financial magazines. No fluff. He never checked out anything and rarely spoke to anyone.

I became friendly with him but knew very little about the man aside from what I learned from a supervisor. His name was Dr. Zenon Prusas but we just called him Mr. Prusas. To me, he was the nice man who liked to be the first to read the Wall Street Journal every day.

Looking back, I wish I had the opportunity to know him better and recently Googled him on a whim. Sadly, I found his obituary – not surprising as I figured he would be close to a hundred by now.

Being a sort of connoisseur of fine obituaries (yes, it’s weird but don’t judge me) I was pleased to see that someone had taken the time to honor a life well lived by telling his rather colorful story.

Mr. Prusas was born in 1921 in a small village in eastern Lithuania. He was forced from his homeland by the Russian invasion during World War II and immigrated to the United States.

He landed at the Mead Corporation’s Central Research offices in 1955 where he became an industry expert on pulp and paper technology. Colleagues described him as “a national treasure.”

Mr Prusas loved the outdoors and personally planted over a thousand trees on his own property. He published much professionally but also wrote a book about his family’s experiences during the Soviet and Nazi invasions and occupations of his homeland.

Mr. Prusas left many lasting marks on this world but I loved learning that he was a tireless advocate for the freeing of his native country from Soviet occupation. After Lithuania gained independence, Mr. Prusas organized and sponsored the creation of a monument in the center of his boyhood town. It is dedicated to the Lithuanian freedom fighters.

He died almost eight years ago but lives on in so many ways. In fact, I don’t think Mr. Prusas wasted a minute of his time on earth.

All these years later, I can’t help but wish I had been braver and tried harder to get to know him. My job experience as a reporter taught me that people often are open to questions about themselves – I suspect, if the opportunity were presented today, I could get some really good stories from this man.

Wherever he is, I hope Mr. Prusas has found peace and that he’s still always the first to read the morning paper.

Majestic Behind The Scenes

a majestic ballroom.JPG

Behind the scenes tours are the best, especially when they take you into local landmarks. This is from the third floor ballroom of Chillicothe’s Majestic Theater. The lighting up there is spectacular and the potential for this space is endless.

Isn’t the sign fabulous?

Adventure Day Antiques and Vinyl

Yesterday was my first day of vacation and I spent it adventuring with a friend. We hit the Heritage Square Antique Mall, Tommy’s Diner and three (count ’em three) guitar stores in Columbus. Plus we still got out of dodge before rush hour.

Heritage Square is well worth your time if you enjoy antique malls. This one is over 50,000 square feet packed full of stuff. For under $30 I left with a like new red gingham Christmas tree skirt, a vintage Santa and two records, one of which I had never seen before in real life.

I also found this Crosley piece that I wish I had a reason to own. Original Crosleys in good condition are hard to find. This one still has the book and not a lot of wear.

Not buying this may turn out to be one of my life’s regrets.

Tommy’s is a nice little diner not far from downtown that has a u-shaped counter and lots of stuff to look at. It’s a popular place but their lunch service is pretty quick so they get you in and out. The food was typical diner meals and I won’t make a special trip to go back but would absolutely return if I’m in the neighborhood.

The guitar shops were kind of neat too because they’re filled with pretty guitars and it’s always fun to hear my friend play around with the thing he loves best. But don’t tell him that I didn’t hate it – he will take me to more next time!

We encountered some quirky people in these stores including a fellow who makes customs in his German Village Music Haus.

Check out this guitar that features an old comic strip. That’s all wood!

We also found some bargains at Apollo Records, my current favorite record store. Located in downtown Chillicothe, it’s packed full of potential treasures that are priced to move. I’ve never walked out of there without an armload.

The great controversy of the day is that I beat him to a stash of Flying Burrito Brothers albums that he insists I cheated him out of. I say that I found them fair and square!

If you’re near one of these small businesses, stop by and give them a little love. Supporting a small business means you’re supporting local jobs and businesses that fill storefronts and often support our communities in a host of ways. The online retailers we all love so much don’t even know where you live. They certainly won’t give money to your school band or pass out candy in your Christmas parade.

In all, it was a fun day and I’m glad for it. And seriously, if you enjoy antique malls and haven’t been, find your way to Heritage Square!

Would You Live Here?

I want to live here. What do you think? Would you live in an old fire station? I think this has a ton of potential!

It’s very trendy right now to convert old schools, churches and other public buildings into private homes. I would love to see inside sometime.

I’m guessing there’s a ton of exposed brick!

Looks Like Fall

I snapped this with my phone in downtown Chillicothe after having dinner with a friend last week.

Something about the light and shadows that evening made me think of fall. It was actually cool all day, a welcome reminder that fall isn’t too far away.

Incidentally, does anyone know what kind of tree that is? Tell me in the comments if you know.

Barn Wood and Pretty Skies

Look how pretty the clouds were yesterday! If you’re a frequent flyer on my blog, you know how much I love barns, old churches and other great old buildings. This one is no exception.

Blue skies and puffy white clouds make the perfect backdrop for weathered barn siding so I had to pull over for a few seconds to grab this photo with my phone.

Is there something you always look for in your travels? Tell me in the comments!