Friday, June 3, 2016

THE GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP


A Road Trip is not at all like a trip on the road, though both naturally involve driving a car. In the usual setting, one drives to get to a destination, counting the miles, hoping it does not take too much time, limiting the stops and wondering when one will arrive.

When we take off on a road trip, we feel the spirit of adventure. We look forward to many stops, some planned and some spontaneous. We hope not to get to our final destination too soon because that will end the wandering and the exploring -- the freedom of the road. We mention our general route to friends and family ahead of time and are open to suggestions so we can learn what we must not miss. Has anyone heard of the Bellingrath Home and Gardens? Well, a spontaneous tip led us to this beautiful spot just west of Mobile. Traveling free form, we come equipped with maps, guidebooks, and a readiness to consult www.tripadvisor to find the things to do or places to eat in Mobile, Little Rock or Bentonville, or wherever we are.

The purpose of our trip is to explore the secondary and even tertiary places in our great land, places that might well be overlooked. Unexpectedly, we can find ourselves in Eureka Springs guided there by a local women in the AAA office in Bentonville or as we approach Dayton OH we recall David McCullough’s Wright Brothers and decide to visit their bicycle shop. It whets our appetite for the next road trip, maybe with a visit to Kill Devil Hills. And we always discover that every stop is fascinating.

As we go along on this voyage of discovery, we feel compelled to record what we’ve seen so we can share it with others and can remember the trip. And how handy that now this can all be done with a blog.

On one of our first road trips – driving across the country from Maryland to Hood River, Oregon – our very first stop was in Rochester, NY at George Eastman’s Home now the Kodak Museum. Here we saw the revolution that the box camera created, allowing each tourist to capture his/her very own images. One cannot imagine the American road trip without the indispensable and ubiquitous camera. We can write our impressions, but how wonderful that we can enhance these memories with photos taken along the way. Now that the Smartphone and the camera have merged, everyone has the chance to be a skilled or at least a devoted photographer. Nothing wrong with the spontaneous, even out of focus, momentary snapshot to bring back memories of the open road.

And so our May 2016 trip
Longboat Key

Chevy Impala by Alex Katz

Passing the Arch in St. Louis

Driving Along

Crossing the Hudson in the Adirondacks

T1 = 900.3 + 2,000 Miles
ended as we arrived at our Adirondack home. We had left Longboat Key two full weeks earlier and had driven 2,900 miles across this wondrous land: from Florida to Alabama to Mississippi to Louisiana to Arkansas to Missouri to Indiana to Ohio to Pennsylvania to New York. If you are reading this, I hope you have enjoyed sharing some of our adventures experiencing the richness of America on the open road.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

DAYTON, OHIO AND THE WRIGHT BROTHERS


En route from Indianapolis Indiana to Cleveland Ohio, we had to detour to see the historic spot where Wilbur and Orville Wright developed their idea of how man could fly. The brothers made a living by hard work in their own Bicycle Shop. In the days before the automobile, the wheeled bike had offered a great step forward in helping people move faster, women as well as men. In 1887, the “safety” bicycle was invented in France. By the early 1900’s it was very popular in the US with perhaps a million bikes produced for the American market. The Wright Brothers Bike Shop primarily offered repair and spare parts for bikes built by others as their custom-made bicycles were very costly.

How did the brothers prepare for their remarkable success in unlocking the secret of flying? Well, it was not from formal education. Neither brother had graduated from high school. Wilbur (1867-1912) and Orville (1871-1948) lived at home and enjoyed tinkering. Living in a country whose government was founded on “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” ingenious people were free to think new ideas, nurture possibilities and to experiment. In fact, after the Reformation and the Enlightenment, the ideas of common people both in Europe and America propelled the quality of life forward. In the United States, we benefited from inventions such as Edison’s electric light; Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone; and in this case, Wright Brothers’ airplane. It took our freedoms to give us the freedom of flight.

When they heard that Otto Lilienthal, an early German pioneer in flight, had crashed in an experimental run, the idea came to them that perhaps they could solve this age-old problem. To begin their quest, they ordered a series of monographs on flight from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington so they could study what was known to date.

Seeking to solve the riddle, they challenged others’ basic assumptions. Working in their bike shop, they postulated that what bikes and airplanes had in common was the need to maintain BALANCE. This led to the question of how did birds maintain balance. Wilbur and Orville noted that birds stayed balanced by flexing (or warping) their wings. An airplane would need to have WING WARPING as well. They understood that there were three axes of movement for the body of the plane – ROLL from left to right to elevate one wing over he other; PITCH from front to back to lower or raise the elevation of the front of the plane compared to its tail; and YAW from left to right to advance one wing in front of the other to produce a turn. Success did not come quickly. They researched each of the hypotheses, they postulated in meticulous detail, recorded their observations in record books, and built upon their conclusions.

Confident in their early glider design, the Wright brothers undertook a long, arduous rail trip from southwestern Ohio to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The journey concluded with rowing an open boat across the waters of Roanoke Sound, then making a painstaking trip on foot through swamps and high sand banks to the open landscape of Kitty Hawk. They hoped this windswept open area would provide the steady wind they needed to test their theories and soft ground on which to bring their glider down. Here, in 1900, Wilbur took a 17 foot motor-less craft into the air for a bare ten seconds, their first real, but limited success.

Much still remained to be done to more clearly understand the theory of aero-dynamics and to produce a machine that would take off from the ground using its own power and with one man as its pilot. Finally, on December 17, 1903 the Wright brothers had their first successful powered flight. For more information, check David McCullough’s excellent biography, The Wright Brothers.
Orville and Wilbur Wright on their porch, Dayton, Ohio

Safety Bicycle with Two Wheels Same Size

Smithsonian Institution - Early Flight Studies

Similarities: Bicycle and Aeroplane

Wright Brothers Sketches of Wing Warping

21c MUSEUM HOTEL, BENTONVILLE, ARKANSAS

www.21cmuseumhotels.com

The 21c Museum Hotel is located a block from a half-mile long path to the Crystal Bridges Museum. How often do you get to walk on a paved trail through beautiful woods and gardens, passing outdoor sculptures, as you approach a world-class museum? Well, right here in Bentonville, you can do it all.
Lobby of 21c hotel


The 21c Museum Hotel stands on its own merits as a model of American ingenuity and entrepreneurship. Seeking to integrate contemporary art and hotel hospitality, Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson launched the 21c concept in downtown Louisville, Kentucky in 2006 and are extending its reach to other mid-size cities including Durham, Oklahoma City, and Columbus. They seek to rehabilitate historic commercial buildings and transform them into new 21c Museum Hotels. These hotels are clearly meant to be more than just a place to spend the night; they seek to integrate art into a traveler’s daily life. In the 21c lobby one sees eye-catching works of contemporary artists -- sculpture, paintings, and mobiles. As you get off the elevator to go to your room, you are startled to see a new idea -- wallpaper as art – each level done by a different artist. Your guestroom is large and looks like it may have been designed in Silicon Valley. Other persons, not staying at the hotel, can and do visit the lobby galleries.

A group (technically a colony or waddle) of identical green penguins about 4 feet tall rove throughout the hotel. They turn up in the oddest places – standing in line at the elevator, sharing your breakfast table, or carefully examining art in the lobby. You may be startled at first, then smile, and later decide you need to move one or two of these green guys
Lincoln from the $5. Bill

Wallpaper as Art

Telephone in Guest Room

Luggage Bench

Penguin Invited to Breakfast
to where you think they should be. Nothing but fun.

CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM, BENTONVILLE, ARKANSAS

Rarely does a person with great genius and expansive vision work together with an ideal supportive philanthropist to bring his free-hand sketches and architectural models into reality. That magic occurred when Moshe Safdie, the Israeli born architect, worked with Alice Walton, the daughter of Sam and Helen Walton of Walmart fame to transform a steep mountain ravine, woods and stream in her hometown of Bentonville into the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Architect Moshe Safdie and founder Alice Walton’s vision aligned to create a magnificent structure that harmonizes art, architecture, and nature in a 120 acre Ozark forest. As sunlight reflected from the ponds and the Arkansas pine beams, the museum seamlessly intertwines with its surrounding environment. 

Turning Moshe Safdie’s drawings into a three-dimensional reality of concrete, wood, glass and metal took more than 350 builders, craftsmen, engineers and architects working from 2006 to opening day November 11, 2011. (Note: 11/11/11) 

Two bridge-like structures, anchored in the bedrock of the flanking hillsides and held up by suspension cables, span the ravine, damming the Crystal Creek in two places to form two large pools. The museum complex is made up of eight buildings. Each building is designed to provide vistas onto the surrounding water and landscape. Each has a special function --- housing enclosed sun-free box-like galleries, an education center, administrative offices, and of course, the very necessary museum  gift shop and cafeteria. Whether enjoying Arkansas chicken salad or sipping cafĂ© latte, one is pleasantly ensconced in one of the glass-enclosed bridges with views of the ponds below and the sky above.   


This graceful complex, carved into a wilderness setting, houses an extensive collection of American art beginning with colonial portraits and ending with colorful abstract shapes of the modern period.  Walking through the chronologically displayed collection provides an amazing lesson in American art as well as our shared American history. And we benefitted by having a guided tour led by a Museum education, Zev Slurzberg, formerly of the National Gallery.  A journey to Bentonville to experience this museum is well worth it!
Enclosed box gallery under arched glass bridge 

Cafeteria on Bridge

3,000 lb. Sculpture Hanging in Center of Cafeteria

Alexander Hamilton

War News from Mexico, 1848 by Richard Woodville

Man and Wife by Milton Avery

Cellophane Wrapped Hard Candy Rug

Garden of Eden

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

SAM WALTON AND WALMART

Sam Walton came from the humblest beginnings – as a boy he helped his mother sell fresh milk from the cows that she milked early each morning. Who could believe that this would be the beginning of his astounding business success?

 How did Walmart stores get their name? After Sam returned from serving in the US Army during World War II, he planned to go into business. He and his younger brother, Bud, started by managing a franchise for the Ben Franklin 5 & 10 cent store on the main street of nearby Fayetteville. When that store was taken over by someone else, he looked to open his own dry goods store – selling useful items at a low cost to customers in the small town of Bentonville in northwest Arkansas. After the shelves were stocked and the Waltons were ready to open for business, someone told Sam that painting each letter was an expense – especially in a long name such as Ben Franklin and suggested the shorter WAL-MART as the new store’s name.

 Walton operated on his 10 Rules for Building a Business – with an ultimate mission LOW PRICES EVERY DAY that later was flipped to EVERY DAY LOW PRICES which seemed to have more oomph. Walton’s goal was to “exceed your customers expectations.” And his statistics suggest that shopping at Walmart can or does save the average customer over $900/year. The success of his business model begins with strong relationships with suppliers and bulk buying so that Walmart can offer products at the lowest possible price.

 Among his business principles --- “Appreciate everything your associates do for your business.” Listen and learn from them – good ideas can come from anywhere. Sam’s ten foot rule was suggested by a store worker. If any shopper is within ten feet of you, welcome that person with an offer of assistance. From this grew the idea of having greeters welcome you at the entry doors. Have you been welcomed? Walmart was also early into making all employees owners so that they would feel an even higher personal commitment to corporate success.

 Walmart was the one of the first retailers to use computers to track sales and inventory. This allowed the shelves of all the stores to be full of the necessary merchandise for future sales. No one was going to be disappointed and the cash registers kept ringing.

Sam Walton promoted a policy of inclusive – early on women had roles in management and all associates were treated with respect as valued members of the corporate team.

 Driving on the open road, one often sees the giant Walmart semitrailers carrying goods to local small towns. In fact, towns of all sizes across the country are the setting for enormous Walmart supercenters, often open 24 hours a day, often with packed parking lots. They are clearly delivering what people want. And despite some of the controversies surrounding Walmart’s retailing success, one can easily see the benefits the retail chain provides the people who shop there and work there.

Fayetteville, Arkansas Store

Chain Grows in the Midwest





Corporate HQ stays in Bentonville, Arkansas

 From these humble beginnings, with good luck, good judgment, good leadership, good management and teamwork, Walmart grew to the enormous chain it is today – with stores throughout America and in several foreign countries. And so Walmart was launched --- now this company has the largest numbers of employees worldwide.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

MISS LAURA'S, THE ONLY BROTHEL ON THE NATIONAL HISTORIC REGISTRY

Fort Smith, Arkansas in the northwest part of the state is a town named after its main reason for being – as a U.S. military fort to help maintain order on the frontier. From the nineteenth century until the turn of the twentieth century, Fort Smith was a raucous border town right on the edge of Indian territories in nearby Oklahoma. It was what you may imagine as the “Wild West.” Lawlessness was prevalent and men outnumbered ladies by a significant number.

 Seven brothels or houses of ill repute were bounded by the Arkansas River on one side and the rail lines on the other. In fact, the girls were permitted to stay only within this red light business district and not allowed to roam the town. Until outlawed by ordinance in 1924, the brothel industry was open and controlled by the town.

 The story is told that in 1903 Laura Ziegler borrowed money from a respectable banker to open a new, quite elegant brothel – complete with burgundy carpeting, gold-flocked wallpaper and a player piano. The forest green house with cream trim was a simple but elegant example of Victorian architecture with a mansard roof trimmed with wrought iron. Each of the nine girls operated out of a well-furnished attractive room. The state issued licenses and medical check-ups were given to the workers. Patrons from all classes and occupations frequented the flourishing bordello – enjoying gambling, dancing, and occasional bathtub champagne.

 Miss Laura, the madam, was an excellent marketer. She gave tokens to the frequent “flyer”, and when he reached six, she gave him a token allowing him free choice of any girl in the house.

 However, by 1910 the golden days had passed. Prostitution was seen as a shady business. Miss Laura’s House had passed its prime. As it declined, the elegant building was abandoned and decayed. As it stood on the brink of being demolished in 1963, Donald Reynolds, a wealthy local businessman, purchased the house to save it from the wrecking ball and to preserve this part of Fort Smith’s history.

Fast forward -- 1973 Laura’s House was selected for the National Register of Historic Places. 1992 it reopened with offices upstairs for the Fort Smith Visitor Center. As the volunteer guides say, “Our brothel still caters to out-of-towners.” Miss Laura’s is open to visitors and still takes care of them but not as well as they used to!
A Room Upstairs

Entertaining in the Parlor

The Madam

Frequent Flyer Token

19TH CENTURY FORT SMITH, ARKANSAS, TIMELINE IN 90 SECONDS

1776 -- During the American Revolution, the colonial forces often fought as makeshift troops, usually under the command of foreign-born officers.

 1802 -- As soon as the United States was established, the Federalists saw a need to train American officers – to lead troops in war and to defend the newly independent country. Jefferson opposed the creation of a military academy until he became President and saw that his Constitutional responsibilities required the creation of a military academy. In the first years of his administration, Jefferson pressed for the creation of the US Military Academy at West Point, on a defensible bend and narrowing in New York’s Hudson River.

 1803 -- President Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from France and America doubled in size and now had much more land to explore and potentially to control. As part of its westward expansion, the American military leaders saw the need to build forts on the country’s frontier.

 In 1819 -- Pioneering soldiers were sent to establish an isolated outpost and build a fort in very western Arkansas at the junction of the muddy Arkansas and Poteau Rivers, which earlier French fur trappers had named Belle Point. These soldiers were sent to temper the conflict between the native Osage and the newly arrived Cherokee tribes. Struggling to survive without the support of reinforcements or provisions from the east was just a daunting a task as moderating the conflict between the tribes. From the start, the American people lived in conflict with the native Indian population.

In 1830 -- under President Andrew Jackson, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act – sending the southeast Indian tribes to frontier lands west of the Mississippi. With this brutal removal, Fort Smith became an important stopping point on what came to be known as the “Trail of Tears,” as the Indians of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole Nations were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands. Their emptied, rich lands were now available to white plantation owners for cotton production, the cash crop of the South. Later, some members of these slave-holding Indian tribes fought with the Confederacy in the Civil War.

Rebuilt in 1838 -- the second Fort Smith, relocated several hundred yards from the first, served primarily as a supply depot. In the days before Walmart was founded in nearby Bentonville, Arkansas, Fort Smith continued to serve as a supply hub -- for white settlers moving west in the mid-nineteenth century and for the more distant army encampments in the southwest which enforced territorial law, protected the settlers migrating west and kept control of the Indians.

1872-1896 -- As the need for a fort declined, Fort Smith became the seat of the Federal Court for the western district of Arkansas. Military force was no longer needed. Now the “wild west” was being brought to order by Judge Isaac Parker who enforced the rule of law supported by hundreds of deputy marshals.
Bob at 1819 Fort Wall Foundations

A Cherokee Confederate Officer

Judge Isaac Parker's Courtroom

Territorial Prison for Outlaws

Paddy Wagon