Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for August, 2012

McKinley’s Victorian Style Home First Ladies Historic Site

Could the sound of footsteps on the spiral staircase at the Saxton McKinley House be those of Ida McKinley? Once in a while the footsteps echo late at night, and the light step is attributed to Ida. That seems quite possible as this was her family home where she lived for twenty-eight years.

Beautiful gardens connect the Education and Research Center to the Ida Saxton McKinley House, both part of the First Ladies National Historic Site in Canton, Ohio. Visitors were greeted by a  young lady dressed in a replica of Julia Tyler’s gown. She was very knowledgeable regarding the history of the house and the family.

To add a little mystery, there are conflicting stories as to how Ida and William McKinley met each other.  Some said Ida was a cashier in the bank where William transacted business for the law firm he joined when moving to Canton. Another story said that both Ida and William were Sunday School teachers at different churches, and passed each other on the way to church.  Or perhaps they met during a picnic at Myers Lake Park. However they met, William indulged her every whim and was seldom far from her side, which turned out to be a major political asset.

The Saxton McKinley House was originally built in 1840 by Ida’s maternal grandfather, George DeWalt. Her other grandfather, John Saxton, was founder of the Canton Repository newspaper. Her affluent background made it possible to lead an extravagant lifestyle. Almost everything inside the house today is a reproduction, but based very carefully on the Victorian style used in the original 1800’s house – after extensive research at the Smithsonian. Fortunately, there are still original walls and woodwork throughout much of the home.

In the Formal Parlor you get a glimpse of a music box purchased on Ida’s trip to Switzerland as well as the piano topped with Victorian sheet music, which she enjoyed playing. The Library held William McKinley’s chair and a large collection of Ida’s fans, which numbered over 250. On the third floor, William had his office across the hall from Ida’s room so he could be close to her.  Their second child, Ida, died at six months of age and two years later Katie, their three year old, contracted typhoid fever and passed away. Consumed by her grief, Ida’s headaches became more severe, accompanied by seizures and tremors.

To ease her migraine headaches, her hair was cut because the weight of the braids was considered a possible cause. Medication for her seizures often made her listless. These two problems made it necessary for Ida to sit as much as possible and this petite lady with a 20″ waist, 18″ when corseted, attempted to hide her afflictions as much as possible.  If she had an attack out in public, William would put a handkerchief over her face so people would not glimpse her facial contortions during seizures.

Also on the third floor was the beautiful ballroom for entertaining. Today the walls of that ballroom display short stories and pictures regarding the life of each First Lady. Many interesting facts were given about various First Ladies, for example,  Francis Cleveland happened to be America’s youngest First Lady. Grover Cleveland was a friend of the family’s and actually bought Francis her baby carriage.

The McKinleys only lived at the Saxton McKinley House for a short time  between 1878-1895, while William was serving in the US House of Representatives and then as Governor of Ohio. During his presidential campaign, they moved to a more modest home, which more closely matched William’s background.

Often we hear stories about our presidents, so it was refreshing to hear stories about their First Ladies and catch a glimpse at their lifestyle.  A friend wrote about Ida Saxton McKinley, “Her greatest charm was her perfect sincerity and thoughtfulness for others.  No day passed over her head without her doing something for someone.”  What a great tribute to this special First Lady!

The Saxton McKinley House is located  off I-77 in Canton, Ohio right next door to the First Ladies Library at 205 Market Street South. All tours of the facility are guided and admission, which includes  both the Library and the House, is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and $5 for children. 

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Want to Actually Touch a Shark? Visit Newport Aquarium

Touch a shark! Play with the penguins! Experiences such as these happen every day at Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Ohio.  Here over 7,000 aquatic creatures from around the world have been gathered in a million gallons of fun.

Following the map on this  World Aquatic Tour, visits are made to every continent, every ocean and lots of waterways in between. Excitement begins as many walkways actually are tunnels through the ocean scene.  There are fish swimming above, below, and on both sides…surrounding visitors with the feeling of actually walking on the ocean floor. Two hundred feet of tunnels, somehow constructed of acrylic without seams, amaze the eye.  Many aquatic creatures soar overhead or pass under everyone’s feet…even a legendary giant sea turtle!

Jellyfish Gallery displays over one hundred jellyfish that possess that magical ability to illuminate under water, making for quite an attractive display. Located in clear tubes, the mesmerizing jellyfish float with ease while performing their elegant dance. Recent research indicates that the protein extracted from jellyfish may help keep human brain cells alive longer. Just another great reason to enjoy watching them.  Youngsters also have fun playing tag with the moon jellies on the Jelly Wall, or hop their way to excitement on Frogger, a video game part of the Frog Bog exhibit.  Here’s the perfect place to take a break from walking, sit down on the benches and watch the jellyfish and the children at play.  You might be tempted to join in the games!

The Shark Tank draws children and the young at heart like bears to honey. After instruction on the proper method for petting a shark, supervised touching is allowed. The official “two-finger” technique gently rubs the shark from front to back. Actually the sharks really enjoy this experience as it produces a satisfying electrical connection for them…reiki for sharks! Young boys especially, return again and again to pet these dangerous creatures. And yes, this writer experienced the thrill of it personally.

Penguin Palooza features cold-water penguins in temperatures similar to those in their natural Antarctic home. The viewing area has seating so you can give your feet a break, while watching the antics of these cute little guys in their tuxedos.  If you want to play with the penguins an additional fee is charged and children must be accompanied by an adult.

Newport on the Levee combines a fantastic entertainment area with an outstanding shopping complex. Besides Newport Aquarium, guests will find  movie theaters, live concerts, Fun Zone, Ride the Ducks, exclusive places to shop, and of course, fine dining establishments.  There is something here for the entire family so you might as well stay for a day or two at the hotels located in Newport.

Close by is the Purple People Bridge, the longest pedestrian bridge connecting two states, Ohio and Kentucky. Formerly tracks for the L&N Railroad built in 1872, it now provides a pleasant half mile walk across the Ohio River. What a great place to relax on the frequent benches, and watch the busy boat traffic down below.

While Newport Aquarium was probably originally designed for youngsters, adults also can have an interesting day learning about aquatic creatures from all over the world. Lose yourself in an underwater experience of unusual and interesting sea creatures. If you need to call the aquarium, use a “shell” phone!

Newport Aquarium is easily reached from I-471 at Exit #5 in Kentucky.  Follow Route 8 and signs will lead you easily into the parking garage for Newport on the Levee.  Admission is $23 for adults and $15 for children (ages 2-12). For additional information please visit their website at  www.newportaquarium.com . 

National First Ladies’ Library Chronicles Hostesses at the White House

First Ladies have always played important roles during their husband’s presidency from hostess at the White House to diplomat.  At this time Ohio’s First Ladies are the featured presentation at the National First Ladies’ Library Education and Research Center in downtown Canton, Ohio. The title, From Frontierswoman to Flapper, describes the transition during their life times from colonial living to the beginning of the Jazz Age.  The present day home of the library, an 1895 City National Bank Building, has beautiful original marble floors and walls , thus giving an elegant feeling to the library.

The visit began with a video introducing the First Ladies of Ohio.  While Ohio lays claim to eight presidents, only seven first ladies called the state home.  That still puts Ohio at the top of the list for First Ladies from any one state. Following the video, an excellent tour guide explained the numerous items on display, which led to many interesting stories about the First Ladies and their husbands. Each first lady had her own special interests and talents, making her a unique individual. These are a few interesting stories about the Ohio First Ladies that caught my attention during a recent visit.

Anna Harrison (1775-1864) first enjoyed being hostess at the Governor’s Mansion where she entertained  prominent figures such as Vice President Aaron Burr and Tecumseh.  Anna was too ill to travel when her husband went for his presidential inauguration. However, one month later, William Henry Harrison died at the White House so Anna never made the journey to Washington D.C.

Lucy Hayes (1831-1889) enjoyed entertaining as she liked being surrounded by people.  Her receptions and dinners were always admired, and her china dinner plates each contained a different scene. Lucy was actually the first First Lady with a college diploma.  After she spent time with her husband when he was wounded in the Civil War, she traveled to various camps where she visited, and attended to, wounded soldiers.

Lucretia Garfield (1832-1918)  stayed by her husband after he was shot by an assassin through the eighty days that he wasted away.  Perhaps she was one of those early promoters of women’s rights as Garfield needed constant attention from his doctors during this time. The male doctors were paid $10,000 while the female doctor was only paid $5,000. Lucretia was adamant about having that changed so the female doctor also received $10,000.

Caroline Harrison (1832-1892) was a star pupil of the German artist, Paul Putzki, and her designs painted on china were on display at the library. Although she was not very well, she enjoyed growing exotic plants and flowers. Her husband never left her side during her bout with tuberculosis and she died in the White House.

Ida McKinley (1847-1907) suffered from blinding headaches and epileptic seizures after the death of her daughter. Therefore, the only way she could fulfill her role as First Lady was often seated in a chair holding a bouquet of flowers to hide her trembling hands.  One of her beautiful garnet gowns with black lace and beading on the collar was featured at the library. When she was able, crocheting was one of her forms of relaxation and many crocheted slippers were given as gifts.

Helen Taft (1861-1943) was the first First Lady to donate her gown to the Smithsonian Institute. One of the most beautiful gowns at the library was Helen’s soft pink dress trimmed with lace and a velvet bow.  A beautiful embroidered fan featuring a cherry blossom tree was only one of her collection of fans, but a definite favorite. Because of Helen’s admiration for the Japanese cherry trees, three thousand trees were donated to the United States by the mayor of Tokyo.

Florence Harding (1861-1924) did not have many positive experiences in her life and had a very unhappy marriage suffering the many affairs of a wayward husband – some even claim she poisoned him. The piano was her source of comfort as she had studied piano at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. She wrote many notes about her unhappy life and this one had a definite piece of advice to married women:

The Happy Wife is not the woman who marries the best man on earth,                     But one who is philosophical enough to make the best of what she has got.

National First Ladies’ Library has many events for the community and the surrounding area all year long.  During the summer they sponsored a Summer Reading Program for K-5 discussing these books this year:  First Garden, Miss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers, and Through Georgia’s Eyes. Their Victorian theater shows documentaries on the First Ladies,  presents author talks and shares many interesting movies and performances.

The First Lady in her Hostess role helps determine how successful her husband’s presidency is going to be. If you would like to learn more about the First Ladies, visit them downtown Canton Ohio. These beautiful doors will open to welcome you!

National First Ladies’ Library Education and Research Center is located in downtown Canton, Ohio just off I-77 at 205 Market Street South.  All tours of the facility are guided, and price is reasonable at $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $5 for children under 18. This admission price also includes entrance into the Ida Saxton McKinley House next door, which we will visit at another time.

Buffalo Hills Resort Welcomes Native American Pow Wow

Native Americans are proud of their heritage as was witnessed at the gathering of tribes near Senecaville, Ohio at Buffalo Hills Resort.  Indian Pow Wows join together tribe members  for dancing, singing, socializing, and most of all, honoring their Indian culture. This seemed like the “real thing” as Native Americans congregated for their own enjoyment, not just entertainment. Any lessons learned by White Man were considered a bonus.

Did you ever taste Frybread? Native Americans will often remark, “Frybread is the story of our survival.”  Over a hundred years ago when the US forced Indians to take “The Long Walk” from Arizona to New Mexico, they nearly starved in their new landscape. To keep them from starving, the US government gave them flour, sugar, and lard – the makings of frybread, which later led to various health problems. At the Pow Wow, authentic Indian food was served by concessions and Frybread was delicious either served as the base for an Indian Taco, or covered with sugar and cinnamon. Also on the menu were Buffalo Burgers and Gator Nuggets on a Stick, with Snowballs for dessert.

Native costumes caught the eye of visitors as Indian maidens seemed to float over the ground with their smooth movements.  Delicate woodland flowers and vines added beauty to the deerskin dresses, as did the unusual jewelry made with the help of Mother Nature. Necklaces and bracelets were designed from acorns, spices, dried corn and seeds. This beautiful maiden was called Gentle Dove and said to be a Messenger for Love and Peace.

A circle of baled hay made a comfortable place to observe the Indians’ presentations. In the afternoon an entertaining storyteller told traditional Indian legends, most of which centered around animals.  All their stories have special meaning, and hopefully an effect on the listeners. The story of a Snake taught children to beware of wild animals, while the adventures of Bear and Rabbit with Buzzard described why Buzzard has a deep mark on his face to this day.

John Red Deer filled the spot of medicine man for the day with his extensive knowledge of herbs for healing. While there were many interesting items in his display, the popular 7 Grandfathers All Purpose Salve topped the list. As you can see from the sign, it can be used for many different ailments as well as a detox. John Red Deer feels inspired to make this in cream, liquid for detox, and even in stick form to carry with you for cuts and bites.

Peppermint and Spearmint form the base of this magical salve plus seven other herbs, which he feels he will reveal soon so others can carry on his work. Plants are harvested as he is guided by the voice of Spirit, and later the herb combination is brewed during the Summer Solstice.  This time of solar and lunar infusion gives the perfect blending of the herbs. A severe storm this year, while he was making the salve, produced two hours of intense energy, which John Red Deer felt increased the strength and effectiveness of that salve. His plans are to make a medicinal soap in the near future.

With the drums and flutes of Southern Pine in the center of the circle, the evening dance was a pleasure to watch.  Leading the procession of dancers were Native Americans carrying the USA flag, an MIA flag, as well as their traditional eagle staff with an eagle head on the top. The opening prayer was given first in Choctaw language, followed by English.

Songs were sung to relatives who had passed on to another world and veterans were honored with the blowing of the eagle whistle. Beautiful dresses filled the center and individual dances were performed.  The Jingle Dress glistened in the sunlight and jingled to the beat of the drums.

To close the evening, couples did a Potato Dance with a potato held between their foreheads as they constantly moved to the music. The last couple to keep the potato from dropping to the ground was the winner of a small monetary prize.

Find an Indian Pow Wow in your area to attend so you, too, can learn of the American Indian traditions. While sometimes stories are heard about the Indian attacks long ago, they basically wanted to be peaceful people and enjoy their style of life in the quiet of their homes.  Imagine sitting in the woods with the drums beating, chants filling the air, and the Spirit surrounding you. That’s the way life is meant to be!

Buffalo Hills Resort encompasses over 300 acres in southeastern Ohio making it one of Ohio’s largest campgrounds. Campers have their choice of primitive camping, parking for their RV, as well as cabin or perhaps teepee rental.  While it isn’t far from the interstate, it is definitely peaceful country and near Seneca Lake. Leaving I-77, take exit 37 to the East  (State Route 313) until you come to the four-way stop at Senecaville.  Make a right hand turn on State Route 285  then shortly a left at the fork on State Route 566, also called Opossum Run Road. After a couple miles, campers will find Buffalo Hills Resort on the left hand side.  

Try Hershey’s Chocolate World The Sweetest Place on Earth

Give them quality. That’s the best kind of advertising in the world.”                             ~Milton Hershey

The smell of chocolate drifting through the breeze is one of the fond memories of Hershey, Pennsylvania. There’s no doubt about being in the popular chocolate town, because the shapes of Hershey kisses serve as street lights down Chocolate Avenue. Naming the town Hershey was one of the best advertising schemes a candy company could devise.

Upon arrival at Hershey Chocolate World, take the Great American Chocolate Tour Ride.  Seated in moving cars, the tour follows the trail of the cocoa beans from their original home in the tropical rain forest. Then upon their arrival at Hershey, they are transformed into that delectable chocolate that we have enjoyed throughout our lives. All five senses are treated as visitors see the displays, hear the stories, and smell the chocolate as they travel to the Sweetest Place on Earth. Finally tourists get a taste of Hershey’s, as they give everyone a free piece of candy at the end of the tour. Of course, chocolate always makes you feel good.

Their gift shop is filled with chocolate in every form and combination. The walls are covered with everything from apparel to household items with popular candy bar logos. Nearby shelves hold all the chocolate products including the Hershey Kisses and Hershey Bars, which have been around for over a hundred years.  My Christmas tree now has a Hershey Kiss ornament, while a Hershey milk bottle holds candy treats on my coffee table.  Sweet memories!

It’s just a short walk to the Hershey Story, a museum telling the history of the Hershey family.  Milton S Hershey, the man who revolutionized the way to make milk chocolate back in 1894, left his fortune to the Milton Hershey School’s orphan boys. Since Milton and his wife had no children of their own, they developed a real concern for less fortunate children and founded the school in 1909.  His legacy is an inspiration to many, as his life was a rags to riches story.

Here visitors also learn of Hershey’s inspiration for creating the town of Hershey. Seems it was patterned after another chocolate maker, Cadbury in England, who also built their factory in what was considered a workers’ paradise. Wanting his employees to be as content as the cows who gave the milk for the chocolate, Milton included an amusement park, community center for family activities, and low cost housing for his employees.  Today some of these same items are enjoyed by tourists.

A popular spot in the museum was the Apostolic Clock, which tells more than the time, as it tells phases of the moon, zodiac signs, months, dates and days of the week. Its main attraction, however, is telling the story of the betrayal of Christ.  The Twelve Apostles and Christ appear at a quarter to each hour and begin telling the story of the betrayal. Every fifteen minutes Father Time strikes a bell and the center figure changes.  It is quite an amazing performance to watch.

Built by John Fenner in 1878, the clock was taken on a tour of Pennsylvania where ten cents was charged to view its story. This  clock was purchased by Milton Hershey back in 1936 when he placed it in the museum for the enjoyment of the local community. During past visits, the clock performed on an hourly basis, but today it is limited to a special calendar, so you need to check ahead to see when performances are scheduled. Having been built in the 1880’s, it is understandable that the clock would now be in delicate condition.

What started out as a Rose Garden has expanded over the years to a twenty-three acre botanical bonanza. Every day is a beautiful day for a walk in the gardens and their Butterfly House is a favorite of youngsters especially. Lucky there are benches along the way, as most people want to sit for a while and take in the quiet and majesty that surrounds the gardens.

High Point, Hershey family’s home, was given in 1930 to Hershey Country Club as their clubhouse, with Milton retaining room for his private office. In 1977 it was renovated again to be used as Hershey Company headquarters through the efforts of WIlliam Dearden.  Being a student of the Milton Hershey School, William became CEO of Hershey Foods and had a passion for the beautiful old home, and wanted to save it from destruction.

No visit would be complete without checking out the source of the tantalizing chocolate smell that permeates this town. The smokestacks of the old Hershey Chocolate Company, a chocolate brown brick building, can be easily spotted as its lawn has hedges cut into the words HERSHEY COCOA. There’s no doubt that you’re in the right place!

But times change and the Hershey Company has moved its plant this last year to the outskirts of town.  Haven’t been back to see the new plant, but the modern equipment couldn’t be accommodated into the old plant with its low ceiling and columns throughout.  Some say Milton would be upset with the changes, while others feel he was a businessman who understood that things must change.

Even though times change, chocolate bars are still a favorite for many. Imagine reading this Hershey Chocolate quote the next time you bite into your favorite bar:

Put a smile on your face, make the world a better place

Leaving town down Chocolate Avenue with its Hershey kisses, memories of this chocolate world will hang around for years to come, much like the cocoa goodness has covered Hershey, Pennsylvania for over a hundred years.

Hershey, Pennsylvania is just off I-70 / I-76, part of which is a toll road. Take exit 247 to PA 283 at Elizabethtown.  Hershey is directly North of Elizabethtown as you follow Hershey Road.  The town is well marked for signs to the various attractions. Enjoy a chocolate experience!

Mysterious Mothman Museum Keep Your Eyes on the Sky

“Something bad is going to happen. Don’t go back.” “Be careful girl, I’ll get you.” These were just a couple of the messages received by residents of Point Pleasant, West Virginia after the appearance of what locals call “The Mothman”.

First stop on your Mothman adventure in downtown Point Pleasant will probably be the statue of Mothman at the corner of Main and Fourth Streets. This stainless steel sculpture by artist Robert Roach was unveiled in 2003 in what is now called Mothman Park. Red eyes are one of the outstanding features of this life size creature and are set to glow at night.

Today a visit to Mothman Museum will review the story of this unexplained mystery through videos, recordings, newspaper clippings of Mothman sitings, photos of the Silver Bridge collapse, and props from the Mothman Prophecies movie.

In 1966-67, over a hundred appearances by Mothman in the surrounding area frightened residents to the point that they were afraid to go out at night.  A seven foot tall figure would first be seen appearing to have wings with feathers, which had a ten foot wingspan. As it got closer the glow of its fiery red eyes seemed to be one of its most frightening features. Those who saw it would have terrible headaches, dreams, and visions.

At nearly the same time, UFO’s were also seen in town. Law enforcement as well as local residents were searching for Mothman and the UFO’s at night with search lights, as though they were searching for Frankenstein. The UFO’s were said to be disc shaped objects in the night sky with red lights encircling them.

Another mystery was the arrival in town of Men in Black. Really!  These men dressed in black suits would threaten those who had seen Mothman to silence…or else.  One newspaper reporter said the Men in Black visited her or phoned her and told her not to publish any more stories about the Mothman or UFO’s. One curious thing about them was that they never blinked their eyes. The government denied any involvement. These same Men in Black were seen crawling around the bridge before its collapse. This same reporter had visions of many Christmas packages floating in the Ohio River, which actually happened at the time of the collapse of the Silver Bridge on December 15, 1967.

When the Silver Bridge collapsed, witnesses reported it came down like dominoes. A loud cracking sound was heard and in less than a minute, the entire bridge collapsed into the icy waters of the Ohio River. Forty-six people died when the bridge completely disappeared under the water.  Mothman had appeared 13 months prior to the collapse, which occurred at Pier 13. Several possible reasons were given for the disastrous bridge collapse: 1) structural failure, 2) a sonic boom, or 3) the Curse of Chief Cornstalk.

While structural failure seems the most likely, could a sonic like boom have been caused by the sinister Men in Black crawling over the bridge shortly before it collapsed, or by Mothman’s wings?  Or was Chief Cornstalks’s curse responsible? Chief Cornstalk worked hard to keep his people neutral and was a member at treaty councils. When Chief Cornstalk surrendered in 1774 at the Battle of Point Pleasant, he signed a peace treaty with the Virginia militia, but a couple years later Cornstalk and his son were executed by the British. At this time, Cornstalk is said to have placed a curse of death and destruction on the town of Point Pleasant, as recorded in part here:

“I came to the fort as your friend and you murdered me. You have murdered by my side, my young son…. For this, may the curse of the Great Spirit rest upon this land. May it be blighted by nature. May it even be blighted in its hopes. May the strength of its peoples be paralyzed by the stain of our blood.”

However, after careful review, it was found that a weak eyebar was the most probable cause of the collapse, perhaps stressed by the additional weight of all the rush hour holiday traffic.

Many feel that the Mothman was a Prophet of Doom, warning the people that a tragedy was going to happen, as there are no stories of him attempting to harm anyone.  Fascinating Mothman appearances don’t seem to be limited to this one spot as there have been sightings around the world from Cincinnati to Afghanistan before major tragedies, for example: the earthquake in Mexico City, and the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

Before leaving town  If you walk up the street a half block to the Ohio River you can also see along the Riverwalk a stone set at the place of the original Silver Bridge, which is just up the river from today’s bridge crossing the Ohio River to the Gallipolis area. During this visit, the American Queen can be seen docked between the two points.

After the Silver Bridge collapsed, there were no further sightings of Mothman, the UFO’s or the Men in Black.  Just mere chance? You decide. Best to keep an open mind as someday it could happen to you.  What will you do if YOU see Mothman?

Mothman Museum, one of the sidewalk shops of the famous Lowe Hotel, is along the Ohio River in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.  Across the street from the Mothman Statue on Main Street, the museum is open every afternoon.

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