World’s Largest Egg

I had seen somewhere that Mentone, Indiana is home of the world’s largest egg. But after doing some research and seeing that the local chamber of commerce claims nothing greater for the egg than that it is “considered locally to be the “Largest Egg in the World”  and that there was absolutely nothing else to see in Mentone, I decided against making a special effort to visit.

But it just so happened that our trip home from Wabash went right through Mentone. When I saw the sign at the town border claiming to be the “Egg Basket of the Midwest,” I remembered the egg. Now it was just a two block side trip down the entire main street of the town.

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Worth a trip down that street in the background? Perhaps. Worth a longer drive …

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Roann Covered Bridge

The Roann Covered Bridge across the Eel River was built in 1877 — and largely reconstructed in 1990 after an arson fire.

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Modoc’s Market

Modoc’s Market in Wabash, Indiana was center-stage for an interesting event in 1942. But here, I’ll let you read about it …

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We stopped in for milk shakes and cookies.

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Note that one of the patches of peeled paint above the counter is in the shape of an elephant.

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Ezra Smith, the animal trainer who finally coaxed the elephant back onto her trailer, is on the left in the photo below.

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We drank (ate?) our shakes as we took a stroll around the block and looked at the sights Wabash had to offer.

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East-Central Ohio

We were in Canton. We wanted to be in Columbus. In between were three counties I’d never been in. We were in no hurry. I decided to try something new. I picked three small towns, one in each county. I set my GPS on the first and followed it wherever it led. When we got there, I typed in the second one and did the same, and then traveled to the third the same way. The towns were Berlin, Coshocton and Martinsburg.

We traveled the entire way on two-lane roads and some of the way on roads so narrow that there were no lane markings at all. For at least an hour, we saw more Amish buggies than we saw cars.

The landscape was a rolling mix of fields and wood lots and tidy farms and small towns. It was the most pleasant drive I’ve taken in a long time. The only bad part was that all the amazing-looking bakeries and food markets and antique stores we passed were closed because it was Sunday.

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All those closed bakeries and cheese shops made us hungry. When we got to Columbus, we headed for Flip Side, a restaurant that specializes in burgers and milk shakes. My cheeseburger, onion rings and blueberry pie shake were all very, very good.

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McKinley National Memorial

On a hill alongside the McKinley Presidential Museum was the memorial where William and Ida are buried.

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The statue of McKinley was modeled after a photograph taken of him in Buffalo, New York shortly before he was shot.

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Also buried in the memorial are the McKinley’s two daughters, both of whom died when very young.

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There was a sign outside telling about the symbolism of the memorial. I had glanced at it and walked away. Sally was still looking when a young man approached her rather aggressively. I headed back over to see what was going on, but apparently he just wanted to inform her that he had once seen a photo in which the grassy expanse below the stairs used to be a pool of water. A careful reading of the sign proved him correct.

The whole time we were there, a steady parade of exercisers ran up the stairs, circled the memorial and ran back down, over and over.

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McKinley Presidential Museum

This museum in Canton was very strange and very interesting.

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There was an exhibit on McKinley, with a lot of artifacts — and talking statues of William and Ida.

 

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McKinley’s house in Canton which has been torn down.

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This was all well and good. But there was also an exhibit on dinosaurs.

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And on with live animals, like parakeets.

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And a hands-on science area with a tornado.

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An exhibit on fashion.

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A model train exhibit.

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And a room with all sorts of odd stuff, like a giant paper mache lady created for a carnival ride.

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And a chair we could sit in and be lifted up by a vacuum cleaner — or so we were told.

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My favorite part was a row of storefronts. I’ve long thought it would be fun to buy on old barn or warehouse and create one of these with each store being a different room of the house.

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In the fire station, there was a pole I could slide down.

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It was very eclectic and odd, but well done and fun.

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First Ladies National Historic Site

This park was our primary reason for going to Canton. It’s the only house William McKinley lived in (apart from the White House) that’s still in existence. But before he lived here, it was the home of his in-laws, the Saxtons. His wife, Ida grew up here.

A local woman, concerned that there was no collection of biographies of First Ladies, started a library in a nearby building. Then, when this house came up for sale, it was purchased and restored and made part of the park, which then became a National Park so it could receive federal funding.

We started at the library, located in an old bank building.

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The main floor has an exhibit on “Forgotten First Ladies.” My main take-away is that the term “First Lady” is loosely defined. It includes wives who died before their husbands became President, daughters and other relatives who served as White House hostess when the President didn’t have a wife (or one who could be hostess) and wives of Presidents that aren’t well known.

We were  ushered into a video room where we saw a film about three of these women. A  young intern then gave us a guided tour of the exhibit, talking swiftly and ushering us past the panels far to quickly to take much in. It was so ridiculous that Sally and I both stopped trying to follow her. All the exhibits had signs, so I don’t know why we weren’t allowed to proceed on our own. For some odd reason, we weren’t allowed to take photos, so I sneaked on just because …

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We were quick-walked down the block to the McKinley house and turned over to another intern. This one was much more relaxed and allowed us to breathe occasionally.

The house has been through a lot since the McKinley’s lived here. The first floor was used as retail space and the upper two floors were a rooming house. Here’s what it looked like at one point.

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There are a few pieces that belonged to the Saxtons and McKinleys, but most of the furnishings are just period pieces. They have a few photos of what it once looked like that they use as reference.

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The music box in the foreground and the piano in the background belonged to Ida. That’s her photo as a young woman over the fireplace.

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One of the old photos with a reconstructed built-in bookcase.

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The Saxtons study. The bookcases are original.

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McKinley and Ida lived in the house from 1878 to 1891, while William served in the U.S. House. Their rooms were on the third floor. William’s study has been reconstructed. The desk in the foreground was his.

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The “ballroom” upstairs contained an exhibit on the First Ladies. The dresses on display were Ida’s.

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Ida’s chair and desk. She was an invalid, confined to a chair for much of her life. Her hobbies were knitting slippers and collecting fans, examples of both were spread throughout the house.

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We weren’t sorry we visited, but I wouldn’t recommend going far out of the way to get there because of the odd way we were rushed through the exhibit and the fact that not much about the house except the outer walls, some wood work upstairs and a few pieces of furniture are original.

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North Canton

We spent the night on the Fourth in North Canton, Ohio. I discovered that the local fireworks show was taking place in a park about two miles from our Best Western Motel. We walked across the street to a Cracker Barrel parking lot to look for a vantage point, but a ridge blocked our view and the mosquitoes were out. We got in the car and headed in the direction of the park. Several blocks away we began seeing people on lawn chairs in parking lots along the road. We found a handicapped spot in a funeral home parking lot just as the show began and settled in to watch through the windshield.

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It was the most pathetic fireworks show I’ve seen in a very long time. Here’s a time-lapse of about a quarter of the show.

 

We ate breakfast the next morning at a local Einstein Bros. near the motel, then hung out in our room until 11:00. On the Internet, I found a place called Taggerts Ice Cream Parlor in Canton. It sounded good, and we wanted to go. As this was our only opportunity …

I had a simple, but excellent, grilled-cheese sandwich with coleslaw. And a hot fudge sundae for dessert. Everything was great, but my favorite part was the restaurant itself. It looked like it hadn’t been updated a bit since the 1940s.

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Superman’s Birthplace

We had a little while to kill on the morning of the Fourth, so we drove to the east side of Cleveland to see the neighborhood where Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster lived. They were the teenagers who created Superman.

The neighborhood isn’t a pleasant one and Sally wasn’t enthusiastic about our adventure. We found Siegel’s house first. It’s the nicest one on the street. A society of Superman fans have offered to buy it for a museum. The owners aren’t ready to sell, but they are willing to give the society right of first refusal. In return, the society pays to keep up the house. I paused out front and took some photos. That’s when I noticed the guy on the front porch reading a paper. A few seconds later, a largish, middle-aged Black woman in a Superman T-shirt came out the front door. I waved and she waved back.

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The sign on the fence reads:

This is the house where Superman was born.

Writer Jerry Siegel (1914-1994) was a teenaged boy who live here during the Great Depression, one of the toughest economic times for Cleveland and the country.

Jerry wasn’t popular. He was a dreamer, and he knew how to dream big. With his best friend, Joe Shuster, these two boys created a bright fantasy world of spaceships, strange planets and a city where a young man in red and blue tights could leap over tall buildings in a single bound.

They called him Superman.

They didn’t just give us the world’s first super hero — They gave us something to believe in.

I drove a couple blocks away to find the lot where Joe Shuster’s house used to be. When I turned on the street, I noticed a sign that said “Joe Shuster Lane.” I stopped and took a photo with my cell phone. Two Black guys half a block away saw me. One of them yelled, “Hey, could you please inform me what exactly you’re doing?”

Not really. I’m not about to type what he really said. I pointed to the sign and said, “Just taking a photo of the sign. Superman.” And then I took off. The guy yelled some more I couldn’t understand, but I didn’t go back and ask.

Shuster’s apartment is long gone, but on the fence around the lot somebody has placed metal sheets with the cover and panels from the first Superman comic.

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The sign says:

On this site once stood the house where Superman was turned from words into pictures.

Joe Shuster (1914-1992) came to Cleveland from Canada. He liked sports and comic strips. He drew all the time — on boxes, wrapping paper, and even old wallpaper. With his best friend Jerry Siegel, he turned amazing stories about a Man of Steel into four-color reality. Joe made the whole world look fresh and clean and strong.

He made it look Super.

With the creation of Superman, these two friends showed the world that the most ordinary of us can turn out to be the most heroic.

There was another sign on a street corner not far away, but we were feeling out of our comfort zone after the last confrontation, so we didn’t stop. It read:

Home of Superman

Jerry Siegal [sic] and Joe Shuster, two Glenville High School students imbued with imagination and talent and passion for science fiction and comics, had dream become reality in 1932. They created Superman, the first of the superheroes ever to see print. The 1932 prototype was of a villainous superhero. Superman then became the hero who has been called the Action Ace, the Man of Steel and the Man of Tomorrow.

Although the success of Superman spawned an entire industry, publishers and newspaper syndicates did not originally accept the creation. Superman did not appear until 1938 when he became a lead feature on the cover of Action Comics No. 1. As co-creators of the most famous of mythical beings, Siegal and Shuster infused popular American culture with one of the most enduring icons of the 20th century. Superman has appeared in animated series, live-action series, major motion pictures, advertisements, and comic books, where his popularity grows with each generation of readers.

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A Christmas Story House

I’ve watched A Christmas Story perhaps three times, but Sally’s a big fan, so when she found out the house in Cleveland used in the movie was open for tours, we had to go.

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Jean Shepherd wrote a memoir of his youth in Hammond, Indiana called In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash. When the stories in that book were turned into the movie, the name of the town was changed to Hohman. But most of it was filmed in and around Toronto — except the scenes of the outside of the house and Higbee’s Department Store, which were shot in Cleveland.

Some guy who made his living making and selling leg lamps found out the house was for sale. He bought it and restored it and opened it as a museum. He must be making good money because he’s also bought two houses across the street, one for a gift shop and one for a museum. He’s also funding the restoration of other houses in the neighborhood.

As we drove up, we saw a guy motioning us into his yard where we could park for $5. I decided to try other options first and found a free spot in a tiny parking lot between the gift shop and museum across the street.

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We paid a ridiculous amount for the tour and were ushered into the house by an enthusiastic young woman. (That’s her on the other end of the couch looking into the camera in the photo below.} There were probably 30 of us crowded into the front room as she gave us some information. She then let us wander about.

None of the scenes from the movie were shot in the house and the rooms aren’t even arranged the same way but the owner has done a good job decorating the place to look like the sets in the movie.

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Since nothing was authentic, there were no limitations on what we could touch. People wandered about reenacting scenes from the movie.

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We were then ushered into the backyard where we saw the shed where Black Bart and his men hid out.

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Then it was across the street to the museum where we were allowed to wander about some more. It’s tough to know exactly what we were seeing there. A lot of the stuff looked very authentic, but most of it didn’t really claim to have been actually from the movie.

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In the garage outside was a 1938 Oldsmobile like the one used in the movie. Or perhaps it was the very one used in the movie. Hard to say.

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There was also a firetruck similar to the one used in the scene where Flick gets his tongue stuck to the flagpole.

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We bought a bunch of stuff in the gift shop, but not one of these suits.

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A guy who lived three houses up the street gave the film crew free use of his driveway. In exchange, they gave him a part in the movie as the guy who delivered the leg lamp box. Some years later, he was given a leg lamp in honor of his role and he proudly displays in in a special window in his house.

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The next morning we drove through downtown Cleveland and found the store that used to be Higbees. It’s now a casino.

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