Arthur Humphrey, friend/benefactor and I had stopped at the North Grand Shop’n'Save where he purchased a styrofoam cooler and provisions for the drive east. Neither of us like to waste time eating in a restaurant when traveling and extending time en route to where we want to be to begin with. The drive through Indianapolis on the 270 Beltway was a breeze. I offered to drive part of the way, AFTER we came, alive, out the exit to Springfield OH, but Arthur’s was the only name on the rental car contract and we played it safe. At no time did I have to take to the whiskey bottle as I have wanted to do every time in the past when I’ve driven the Beltway here. For the record, I’ve never consumed any booze while driving, not even through Indianapolis.
Reminds me of a childhood riddle: Why did the chicken cross the Beltway? To get to the other side of beautiful Indianapolis! After my first trip east requiring me to drive that road, I timed subsequent trips so I could leave Springfield at 2 am to be BY the BELTWAY before the morning rush hour. And even then it was a lot to handle. I don’t care if I have to get to Ohio by way of KENTUCKY, I will never attempt that stretch of road at the wheel of a ground-bound vehicle for the rest of my life. I have friends — David and Colin Tabb and their families in Indianapolis I would love to visit some day, but if I ever do. they’re going to have to let me leave my truck in a K-Mart parking lot in Danville, Illinois and take me the rest of the way in and return.
Urbana University, Urbana, Ohio first look
After checking in at the Springfield, Ohio Hampton Inn with plenty of late afternoon light in front of us, we drove to Urbana University in Urbana, 20 miles away. The school is surrounded by timber, seemingly carved out of a meadow with a nearby abandoned railroad track that was old-old and lots of distance between buildings. The building pictured above is the site of the Johnny Appleseed Museum and Education Center (JAMaEC). I had a profound sense of BEFORE LINCOLN as we walked the campus. The JAMaEC is the left part of the structure as you see it from the parking lot facing the outer side of the campus. Originally the two distinct structures were built and used separately; later joined by the sunny area in the middle which would serve as the site for the public re-dedication of the collection.
Urbana University was founded in 1850 by followers of Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish scientist and Christian theologian who wrote extensively about a new age of Christianity, and whose mystical outlook and claims (which included visiting Jupiter before Timothy Leary had been born) were very radical, so much so that he never founded a structured church as Wesley had. But he had his followers. called Swedenborgians (pronounced with a soft “g” as in “forge”) who formed reading groups. John Chapman, who would become known as Johnny Appleseed encouraged his very successful friend Colonel John James to donate land for the Swedenborgian university. Chapman and James were Swedenborgians. It’s easy to see why the institution would establish and maintain a museum dedicated to Johnny Appleseed.
There is some conjecture that Abraham Lincoln attended a Swedenborgian reading group during his years in Springfield, Illinois; also that the Lindsay family shared some connection to that faith.
one of the more modern buildings with some wisdom from old Rome
On our way to visit the university library, I photographed these words on another building. Matthew Penning wrote “Now it is permitted to enter with understanding into the mysteries of faith.” Matt is a Facebook friend who, with a little help from Google, translated those words from the original author who died some years ago.
Urbana University Librarian Julie McDaniel poses with a visitor. Photo by Arthur F. Humphrey
I learned from Julie that Urbana University’s library had no books by or about Vachel Lindsay, a shortcoming I believe Arthur subsequently made right. During our short visit I also gave her some copies of a program handout I had prepared to hand out during the morrow’s big event.
Emanuel Swedenborg's bust of a sort
The fine bust of Emanuel Swedenborg in the library lobby seemed a mite out of place, not for the great Swede it depicted but for where it was . . . .
under the table
. . . . . under a table! Julie explained no one was making a political or theological statement, and that the icon who so inspired the frontier community to create the new school would not be there long. Arthur and I were in a race wtih the sun, and our library visit was all too brief.
historic hangar at Grimes Field, Urbana, Ohio
We hustled out to the airport and discovered that like Springfield, Illinois, Urbama. Ohio is home to two aviation museums of note.
Grimes Field historical marker
There was a diner at the airport that was obviously closing for the day when we arrived, but had we more time, it would have been great to visit it, even if just for coffee. The two museums were closed also. One promised to be open Saturday, but the larger one had a sign that it was closed Saturdays. Even so I copied both phone numbers to call to see if we could visit Saturday morning anyway.
behind the check-in desk, Springfield, Ohio
After a fine dinner in downtown Urbana, bustling with people on an unseasonally warm evening we returned to the Hampton Inn. With much to see before the Appleseed re-dedication, we hurried out to Grimes Field on a perfect sunny morning to see what we could see.
The Champaign Aviation Museum at Grimes Field is located on North Main Street (Ohio State Route 68) coming out of Urbana, Ohio
- homThe Champaign Aviation Museum open Monday – Friday , 9 am to 4 pm, Saturday 9 a to 2 p and closed Sunday
- Douglas A-26 Invader at Champaign Aviation Museum, Grimes Field
The B-17 is being restored from five partial aircraft. The close-up pic of the nose art was taken by Arthur Humphrey.
There’s no space for all the airplane pictures I took during the visit. I will share them soon at the AeroKnow website. I was totally enthralled with the activity at the general aviation airport. There were probably 15 volunteers working on the B-17, and more Cessnas, Beeches and Pipers on the ramp outside the Airport Cafe than I’ve seen at some fly-in breakfasts! Contributing to the success of the scene is location, not far from Rickenbacker Air Force Base in Columbus, Ohio, The Museum of the United States Air Force in nearby Dayton, and the city of Springfield, Ohio, less than half an hour from this beautiful airport. I would leap at any opportunity to go back and spend an entire day at Grimes Field.
Legacy of a legendary light manufacturer, The Grimes Flying Lab Museum's Beech 18.
The other museum was also neat as a pin, focused on one local enterprise known worldwide for its innovations in aircraft lighting. I could have spent two hours talking with the people there and learning more about the flying test lab that is the museum’s centerpiece. They, like the Champaign Museum, had souvenirs a plenty, including reproductions of historic airplane postcards. Time at the airport was running out and we had to boogie back to Urbana University.
After meeting museum director Joe Besecker and a past president of the University, Mr. Hazard (first name to be added here real soon) and his wife, Arthur and I walked over to the campus student union for a cup of coffee and to discuss what would come next when we returned to the big event.
Job, Joe Besecker, Mrs & Mr. Hazard. Photo by Arthur F. Humphrey.
Mr. Hazard is a retired U.S. Air Force pilot who flew F-84Fs and F-100s. I could have spent the entire afternoon talking airplanes with him. I met no second-stringers at this campus.
The story continues next time with the Johnny Journey Trilogy: Part 3: A Taste of a Dream Destiny Sharing Vachel at the Appleseed Museum Re-dedication.
Live long . . . . . . . . . . and proper.
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