Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for April, 2013

Hopalong Cassidy Museum Where the Wild West Lives Again

Hopalong Cassidy Hopalong Cassidy, “Pride of the West”, is also “Pride of Cambridge, Ohio”,  the boyhood home to Hopalong Cassidy and the Hopalong Cassidy Museum. William Boyd, aka Hopalong Cassidy, was born close by in Hendrysburg, Ohio in Belmont County back in 1895. While he only resided in Cambridge twelve years, they are still proud to call him a home-town boy. The family moved West at that time to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and at about the age of 20, William ended up in California where his good looks and winning manner were noticed by the film industry.

None other than Cecil B DeMille, who became a long time friend, took William Boyd under his wing, and got him his first acting contract at $25 a week back in 1918 as leading man in the silent film industry. When the role of fictional cowboy, Hopalong Cassidy, came up, director Harry Sherman felt William Boyd was a natural. In his black cowboy hat riding Topper, his white horse, Boyd soon became a national hero known for his gallantry and fair play. After 66 movies portraying Hopalong Cassidy, William Boyd became better known as Hoppy to his friends.

The story of his nickname began with Cassidy getting shot in the leg during a gun fight. When recovering from his gun wound, someone asked how he was feeling, to which he replied, “I’ll manage to hop along.”  Thus the name Hop-along Cassidy. After its success at the movie theaters, it was decided to have a Hopalong Cassidy TV series…also a big success. In 1950, Hopalong Cassidy became the first network Western television series.

Laura Bates and Hopalong CassidyForty years later, in the town of Cambridge, Ohio, Laura Bates was host of a show called “Talk of the Town” on their local television station. One particular day she was interviewing someone from New York doing research at the local library regarding Hopalong Cassidy. They commented, “It’s a shame no one in Cambridge ever did anything about Hopalong Cassidy, since he grew up here.”

Laura said, “That was like a slap in the face from the Big Apple.” After that, she began pursuing the idea and in 1990 it was decided to use Hopalong Cassidy for the theme of their Spring Festival.  Today, that Hopalong Cassidy Festival still is enjoyed by people from all over the world and is now held annually in May at the Pritchard-Laughlin Civic Center just outside the city.

Many movie stars attend the Festival to pay homage to Hoppy, one of those great cowboy legends. Hugh O’Brien from Wyatt Earp has attended as well as several stars of Gunsmoke: Bo Hopkins, Ben Costello, and Becky Burgoyne. Even William Boyd’s wife, Grace, has been in attendance.  Fans are still eager to catch a glimpse of these celebrities and perhaps obtain their autographs.

Hopalong Cassidy MuseumToday there is a museum in Cambridge, Ohio which houses a giant assortment of cowboy collectibles. Located at Scott’s 10th St. Antique Mall, this is a hot spot during the annual Hopalong Cassidy Festival. Three rooms are packed with Hoppy memorabilia, all part of a personal collection owned by Laura Bates, local Hoppy organizer and enthusiast. Here fans have purchased an old tin lunch bucket and thermos for the price of $395.00 or an Easter card signed by Hoppy for $195.00. There are many memorabilia available…for the right price.

Hoppy TalkIn his hey-day, Hoppy received around 15,000 fan mail letters a week. Today there is still a meeting of the Hoppy  Fan Club during the annual Hopalong Cassidy Festival in Cambridge, Ohio.  Laura Bates is president of the fan club, which was formed back in 1991 and publishes quarterly a newsletter, “Hoppy Talk”, which is distributed to members of Friends of Hoppy. Membership was around 500 in the beginning, but has dropped to about 300 members today as younger adults have little memory of those great cowboy heroes. “Hoppy Talk” is celebrating its 24th year of publication in 2013.

William Boyd and Hopalong Cassidy are synonymous…Hopalong Cassidy, his alter ego. When he finally retired, he turned over his entire crew and cast to a new Western just coming on the scene…Gunsmoke. Boyd didn’t sing, dance, play sports, or race cars, he was simply Hopalong Cassidy.  He smiled, waved and shook hands.  He was everybody’s Mr. Good Guy and his favorite drink was a nonalcoholic sarsaparilla!

The Hopalong Cassidy Museum is located in the South Tenth Street Antique Mall in downtown Cambridge. There is easy access as Cambridge is at the intersection of I-70 and I-77. Wheeling Avenue is their main street and the museum is just a half block south of Wheeling Avenue on 10th Street.

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Oswald’s Black Bear Ranch Michigan Home for Rescued Cubs

Black Bear RanchOn a trip through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, commonly called the UP, a sign for a Black Bear Ranch appeared along the road. Bears are a symbol of courage and bravery, having appeared in many Native American legends. All my life this gypsy has been attracted to bears and their habitat, so this was a bonus find along the way.

Oswald’s Black Bear Ranch is the largest strictly bear ranch in the United States. Located on the back roads near Newberry, Michigan, it has become one of the top ten family attractions in the area.  Owned by Dean and Jewel Oswald, this family affair began as a rescue operation for black bear cubs. Dean brought them to his ranch, fed them, and gave them loving care. Once word spread of his love for bears, people from all around the world would call to say they had found a small bear cub, but were no longer able to care for it. Then Dean would bring it to its new home.

Tyson BearThe main attraction in the early days of Oswald’s Black Bear Ranch was Tyson, the largest black bear in the United States and possibly the world. Although the name black bear suggests the color black for all those bears, their colors range from cinnamon to dark chocolate to jet black. Tyson weighed in at 880 pounds, but the Oswalds believe he reached 1000 pounds, before taking his last breath in 2000.

Those curious about bears are free to walk throughout the property – outside the fences of course. It’s an enjoyable stroll to encircle one of their four enclosed areas and view the bears as they lumber along. This experience is more personal than a visit to a zoo, since visitors usually get closer to a real bear than they have ever been before. Today they have added a trolley for older or handicapped visitors, who aren’t able to make the long walk, but would still enjoy seeing the bears in their wilderness habitat.

Baby Bears Play AreaTwo little bear cubs enjoyed playing with an old swinging tire in their cage. They amused themselves for quite some time pushing it from side to side and sometimes getting on it for a ride. The cubs seemed quite pleased with themselves while swinging. Nearby was a big pool of water where they bathed and splashed each other, exactly like two children might do.  Cute is the word that best described their antics. Each year a contest is held in the local area to name the newest bear cubs.

Bear Waiting for SnackAnother favorite activity involves feeding the bears. The larger bears might be fed apples, while the younger ones prefer Fruit Loops.  Eagerly awaiting their snacks, bears bravely approach the fence. These small cubs, all under the age of four months, received many gentle rubs and even hugs, as it was permissible to pet them during a previous visit. However, last year the government stepped in and now prohibits touching the bears or taking pictures with them. Some still feel Dean Oswald lets visitors a little too close for comfort, but the children and young at heart certainly enjoy being allowed this close contact.

Black Bear HibernationThe older bears lived in a large fenced in area with a half mile perimeter to roam. The high fence protected visitors but still gave the bears freedom more closely resembling the wilderness where bears usually live. At the back of the fenced in area were cement block houses for winter hibernation. With straw covered, wooden floors inside, bears had a comfortable environment for their winter sleep.

Today there are 27 bears at Oswald’s Black Bear Ranch. Of course, there is also a souvenir shop for those who want to take home a memory. My treasure was a warm flannel nightgown with Oswald Ranch written among the black bears. It feels like getting a warm, soft hug from a bear!

Oswald Black Bear Ranch is located just 20 minutes south of Tahquamenon Falls, or from Newberry go 4 miles north on M-123 towards Tahquamenon Falls. Turn left at 4 Mile Corner (Deer Park Rd., Muskallonge Lake, H-37 H-407). Then it’s 4 1/2 more miles to see the former home of Tyson Bear .

Ohio’s Historic Lafayette Hotel – A Haunting Experience

Ohio River at MariettaMay the ghosts be with you while you spend the day or night at the Lafayette Hotel in historic downtown Marietta, Ohio.  Visitors and employees anxiously report stories of paranormal activity in this grand hotel on the banks of the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers.

Back in 1882, river traffic was heavier than it is today. The Ohio River provided the freight and passenger routes for much of the eastern part of the United States. Of course, these riverboat travelers needed a place to get meals as well as a place to spend the night. Here at the meeting place of two major rivers, the Bellevue Hotel was built. This quite modern hotel, for the late 1800’s, had a fast running elevator taking guests to 55 rooms, five of which had baths. Rates at the Bellevue were $2.00 a night

lafayette hotel 013After a fire destroyed the Bellevue Hotel, another hotel was constructed on the original foundation. In 1918 the present triangular shaped Lafayette Hotel opened for business. The name was chosen to honor Marquis de Lafayette, French hero of the American Revolution, who was believed to be the first tourist to visit Marietta in 1825. There is even a plaque, near the hotel at the edge of the Ohio River, marking the spot where he came ashore.

A popular meeting room bears the name of Rufus Putnam, who many list as the founder of Ohio.  His leadership established Marietta as the first permanent United States settlement in the Northwest Territory.   In a letter sent to his former home, Rufus Putnam described the land along the Ohio River to his friend as: “a country of most pleasant climate and of the rarest beauty and enduring charm”.

Riverview LoungeThe Riverview Lounge is where the “Lady in White”  often appears hovering over the carpet, while she smoothly moves through the room. The bar happens to occupy the same area where the ladies’ dressing room was located  in the original hotel.

When selecting a room in Marietta’s only downtown hotel, you will probably be given a choice of view – either the Muskingum River or the Ohio River. Here the ghost of Mr. Durward Hoag, former owner of the hotel, watches over guests and staff from both directions. Sometimes guests feel an icy cold draft pass through their well heated room. Evidence of his presence appears in flashing light bulbs, rearranged papers, hidden objects,  and often merely a wisp of light. Maybe Mr. Hoag’s spirit is bored!

When speaking with recent visitors, footsteps were reported outside their door, but no one was in evidence. The elevator, carrying no passengers, left the floor a couple times during the evening and headed to the rooftop. Later that night when they were in bed, another couple felt someone jump in the center of the bed where they were resting. All guaranteed they had not visited the Riverview Lounge.

Gun RoomThe Gun Room is a popular place for lunch. The walls are adorned with photos of great majestic sternwheelers that traveled the Ohio River.  A display of antique long rifles contains one made by J.J. Henry that accompanied the Benedict Arnold expedition to Canada in 1775. Waitresses tell of coming in early to work and seeing a figure leaving the front section of the restaurant. Often the swinging doors to the kitchen open for no reason at all. Some feel that Mr. Hoag is checking on his staff.  On the plus side, these spirits are never harmful.

Enjoy the ambience of this richly historical Lafayette Hotel on the river sometime soon. They have been expecting you for nearly a hundred years!

The Lafayette Hotel is located  at 101 Front Street in Marietta, Ohio. Exit I-77 at Exit 1 and follow Route 7 South, which is also Pine Street.  At the third light, Pine Street continues straight and becomes Green Street. Continue on Green Street until you come to the hotel on the corner of Green Street and Front Street. Parking is available between the hotel and the Ohio River as well as on the other side of the hotel.

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