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Archive for the ‘Johnny Appleseed’ Category

When I took the last sip of Carlo Rossi Burgundy in the duplex I was renting in about 1989, I had no inkling that I”d have that bottle with me in a duplex I owned 22 years later. It moved when I moved: from 326 S. MacArthur to 521 S. Glenwood to 1213 Interlacken to 428 W. Vine, and today it moved to my WELCOME Room office of AeroKnow Museum at the airport.a bottle of good cents

a bottle of good cents

It came to the airport  because the thought of someone breaking into my home and stealing this investment of time and memories was more than I wanted to live with. At best the burglar would have taken it. At worst, he or she would have dropped it to the floor from where it sat on my bedroom chest of drawers since 1997 and left me to filter the valued metal alloy from the shards of broken glass — pretty much what I’ve been doing recently, metaphorically speaking, as I approach the big SIX FIVE.

It came to the airport also because putting every penny I brought home from purchases here and there was not filling the bottle fast enough for me. I was determined that I would not go to a bank and exchange a $20 bill for the equivalent in pennies. That would be cheating.

At this time in the blog I concede there is nothing artistic about the process, I do not intend to write a poem or folksong about it, proclaim the name of Cheeses (when I talk to myself I call myself Cheeses as in CHEESES, that was stupid of me!), talk about restaurants, silver dollars,  Facebook, how much I love Chicago or Fort Monroe or Ft. Wayne, Indiana or Manitowoc, or the Shymansky family (my sister Dorothy’s side) Johnny Appleseed or Vachel Lindsay, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and yardcare. I’ve been ticking off these items on my categories list so I can suggest to readers this post is about them . . . . . and thus court additional readers who pay attention to blogs when these categories are mentioned. NOW . . . . . . . where was I?

the bottle and the barefoot boy with cheek of tan

Oh, yes, I remember. . . . The photograph of the boy behind the bottle is of the same boy ahead of it when the picture above was taken.  If I was three years old, the year was 1950. I will post more about the picture as I approach September 5. Suffice to say now that I show that picture to darn near every visitor to AeroKnow Museum. My goal, starting this morning, is to give visitors who don’t care to share heavy dough-re-mi with the museum will lighten their pockets of pennies. I want to fill this the bottle by my birthday.

There’s a nearby donation jar for those who care to be extra-nice with larger coins and folding money.

So if you find yourself of mind and spirit to see this bombastic enterprise in the weeks ahead, please bring pennies. The dollars . . . . almost . . . . won’t . . . . matter.

Live long . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and proper.

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Here is a story of fashioning a silk purse from a sow’s ear, metaphorically speaking.

Long-time readers of Honey & Quinine recall my posts about my 2011 experience with Arthur F. Humphrey and my providing a “tape” of my reading Part 1 of Vachel Lindsay’s poem “In Praise of Johnny Appleseed” what is now part of an exhibit at the Johnny Appleseed Museum in Urbana, Ohio. Thanks to Arthur Humphrey, museum director Joe Besecker and others, I visited the Appleseed Museum on the occasion of its ribbon cutting and re-dedication in March 2011. Later, during the same four-day excursion, Arthur and I visited the grave site of John Chapman (the real “Johnny Appleseed”) in Ft. Wayne, Indiana where he videotaped me reading Vachel’s entire three-part poem.  Later in 2011 I wrote a book about the experience entitled Confluence of Legends: the Spirit of Vachel Lindsay Meets the Spirit of Johnny Appleseed   and published it myself; sold a few copies at my featured presentation at Vachel’s house last October.

Late that year, I published two special editions with different covers.  One edition cover included the words: Special Edition, Souvenir of the Johnny Appleseed Museum, Urbana, Ohio, and the other said: Special Edition, Souvenir of Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site, 603 S. Fifth St., Springfield, Illinois. The goal was to DONATE copies the Appleseed edition to you know where in Urbana and copies of the Lindsay edition to . . . again, you know where. Arthur Humphrey paid for the printing of both editions. Not a penny was factored in for my writing, initiative or effort. I sent several to Joe Besecker in Ohio who welcomed them warmly.  I also shared the news with a new board member of the Vachel Lindsay Association who passed the word up the chain (no pun intended) to the rest of the board.

There’s a “spoof” of a popular poem that reads:
“I shot an arrow into the air.
It stuck.”

I hand-delivered copies of the Vachel edition to the house — (a house is not a home) and explained to the convivial director, what I hoped would happen: that funds generated from their sale would go to support Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site. I was informed that the State of Illinois, which administers the historic site, sells nothing in what I will call the Education Room which in Vachel’s time served as a bedroom for boarders. All sales of the amazing array of publications, postcards, books, videotapes and more, are coordinated through the Vachel Lindsay Association,  a not-for-profit organization I have supported with membership dues for years.  I shared with friends on the VLA board the news of my delivery of the “Confluence of Legends” books to a closet in the Education Room in January 2012, and frankly, when I visited the home — a few months later — I expected to find them on the souvenir table for sale, $5 each.

I delivered my Vachel books to his house.
They stuck.

I was disappointed. I thought I was dealing with a different kind of organization. But I’m okay.

During subsequent visits to Vachel’s house, I have had the pleasure of meeting some terrific people who share my love the story of the Lindsay family, their talented only son (There were two sisters, Olive and Joy) and the poetry that rings as beautiful today as it did in the poet’s life; in some cases more so. On more than one occasion, while talking to distinguished visitors, I have been able to ascend the stairs to my cache of Vachel house special editions and GIVE them to those who have impressed and inspired me with their own most laudable appreciation in a “Confluence of Appreciation,” so to speak.

Jim and Susie Miller and Marilynn Dunlap of Manitowoc, Wisconsin

On July 28, 2012, I met Jim Miller and his wife Susie from Manitowoc, Wisconsin and their friend Marilynn Dunlap who accompanied their musical presentation to a packed house of new fans. They shared melodious arrangements of Vachel’s “General William Booth Enters Into Heaven” and “Why I Voted the Socialist Ticket.” The presentation was a delight. Here were people who had not heard of Vachel two weeks ago and invited to read Vachel poems in a feature presentation. They were practiced reverence and appreciation. They were in key. They didn’t mispronounce words they should have known how to pronounce. (You’d be surprised if you knew the names of those who  have.) I took pictures and afterwards gave Jim a Vachel Lindsay house special edition of “Confluence of Legends.” I also gave a copy to my friend Hugh Moore who hosts a radio show on WQNA Saturday mornings.  I didn’t have to remember to bring these books; they were waiting for me upstairs!

Marilynn, Susie, Job Conger and Jim.
Thank you Hugh Moore for taking the picture!

I continue to support the Vachel Lindsay Association as I can, when I can.  I serve the poet as I can, and they do the same as they can. Still it’s nice to know that through their decisions, we both serve the memory of the man in a way neither of us would likely have imagined last January. Love is a gift. We are fools who choose not to make the most of it.

Live long . . . . . . . . . and proper.

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On the way to work about 11:15 a on a chilly Friday the 13th, driving streets that were still patchy with snow remaining from yesterday’s icy apocalypse, I stopped at Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site at 603 S. Fifth Street in Springfield to deliver a special edition of my latest book, Confluence of Legends ($5 plus postage, available from the author). The new edition has a specially printed cover that includes the name and address of the Lindsay home. To own one of those you must have visited that beautiful home and purchased it there.  Another special edition is for sale at the Johnny Appleseed Museum in Urbana, Ohio with the name and address of that fine institution on the cover.  Every Appleseed edition sold in Ohio includes a brochure about the Vachel Lindsay Home, and every edition sold at Vachel’s house includes a brochure about the Appleseed Museum.

I was delighted to find the sidewalks and steps leading to the front door recently shoveled clean of the icy white which had visited our fair city Thursday and left behind a three-inches-deep calling card, a memento  of the occasion. One can imagine my surprise, soon after being greeted by site director Jennie Battles and giving her the books, that she had shoveled every inch of it herself. For a woman in her 70s, I consider her devotion to visitors and her taking the snow shovel and ice melt to arms an act of service above and beyond the call of duty.

When I took the books upstairs to the visitor education room with its ever-present, ever-playing CD about the life of Vachel Lindsay, his family, his poetry and the house, I encountered the vacuum cleaner at the top of the stairs. It was obvious Jennie had been preparing for a special gathering of a genealogy organization that’s gathering for a special public event at the home tomorrow (Saturday, the 14th).  Anyone interested in an un-hurried visit to the Lindsay home, without being interrupted by other tourists passing through and the hustle and bustle of an audience parading in for a special event is well advised to visit the home the day after a snowfall before lunch. I should have brought my camera, and I usually do, but I had to boogie off to work and hadn’t thought to bring it. Some touches of the Christmas season remain in the house, including a table-top Christmas tree on Vachel’s childhood-bedroom desk, next to his typewriter. What a picture, what a statement of a poet and the season it was!/is!

As I prepared to leave, after a terrific but brief encounter with the Maestra of the concert that is the house and the story, I promised Jennie that as long as she is site director there, I will shovel the snow from the steps and sidewalks. She will never have to do that again. She has demonstrated conspicuous dedication to Illinois history in her duties at Vachel’s house and at the Old State Capitol and Lincoln Tomb before arriving at 603 South.  She deserves a better hand of cards than the one she holds, the day after significant snow on a cold and dreary Friday, in the great state of Springfield, Illinois.

Live long . . . . . . . and proper.

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It’s a ritual of late here on the edge of the world where I work part-time on Springfield farfarfar northeast side. Or if you listen to WMAY as much as I do, you may call it a ritualTHING.  Whatever you call it, It has become a part of my life, and I missed it when it wasn’t three days this week.  Though in the past 40 years up to September this year, I have eaten probably fewer than a dozen apples, since early September, I have consumed maybe 50.  If the new ritual were connected to my experience reciting at the Johnny Appleseed Museum in Urbana, Ohio, I believe I would have adopted it closer to March when I visited and read part of Vachel Lindsay’s fine poem “In Praise of Johnny Appleseed” at the Museum’s rededication. Though I think well of the man, revere him,  I feel no loyalty to the man John Chapman a/k/a Appleseed whose legend benefits not a whit from my eating fruit. The ritual of the 10:00 apple began as an easy effort to live healthier. By the time I considered it a “ritual,” it had become one.

No surprise, there, really.

I am eating more fruit these days. Green seedless grapes I purchase more frequently than  chunky peanut butter. Almost as frequently I purchase Golden Delicious apples, six or seven almost every visit to the grocer  at $1.98 a pound .

I brought a plate and sharp knife from home in the opening days of the 10:00 ritual, a poor attempt at ceremony, a Welsh-American’s attempt at something as special to me as a high tea in London. Even before I started working at my aviation museum at the airport at 5 am and then coming to the edge of the world to open at 9, I found myself hungry by 10, and the perfect sate to said hunger was and is and evermore shall be my 10 o’clock apple.

It’s not just an apple. It’s an apple with the peeling left on (my Momma did not give birth to a softee)  sliced four times around the core; roughly 1/2 , 1/3 and the rest in two more cuts. To make it more of an adventure, I don’t even wash the apple — or if you live in central Illinois, I don’t even pre-wash the apple.  Then I slice the chunks into bite-size wafer-thin pieces, ready to munch at my leisure. If I am called away by priority matters — visitors, a phone call, supplier representative — I’m seldom away from my desk long enough for the color to go “brown” with exposure to the air . . . or dusty, from too much exposure to the air.

I KNOW I could maximize the experience with a Riesling or Sauterne, a Chablis of I’m truly desperate, but this is not an option on the edge of the world. The best I can do is a 2011 Folger’s Instant, young, hearty with coffee overtones and a robust bouquet.

Until last Monday, the 7th, I didn’t know how much the 10:00 apple meant to me until I opened the low right door on my desk and discovered the empty bag. I had forgotten to buy more over the weekend, and I was in no mood to visit the Shop N Save Tuesday and Wednesday. A rough day on the edge of the world saps the joi’d’vivre out of me like a leech on a ventricle.  And I wasn’t desperate to go to the store. It wasn’t like I was out of WINE at home!

Sooooooooo, today on my way to the Gallery II reception downtown I will stop at Sh’ave and bag me some more apples for the rest of the week. It’s a ritual that brings me a breath of sweetness every morning, a simple, unhurried pleasure.  I  bet, if you try this for yourself, you will feel the same. ENJOY!

Live long . . . . . . . and proper.

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