The Southeast

A travelogue by Mark R. Leeper

Copyright 1997 Mark R. Leeper
  • 08/16/97--New Jersey to Virginia: Skyline Caverns and Skyline Drive
  • 08/17/97--Virginia: Blue Ridge Parkway and Booker T.^Washington National Monument
  • 08/18/97--Tennessee: Oak Ridge and Dayton
  • 08/19/97--Tennessee: Shiloh and Memphis
  • 08/20/97--Memphis, Tennessee: Art and Civil Rights Museums
  • 08/21/97--Little Rock and Hot Springs, Arkansas
  • 08/22/97--Hot Springs and Hope, Arkansas; Dallas, Texas
  • 08/23/97--Dallas, Texas: Museums
  • 08/24/97--Fort Worth, Texas: Museums
  • 08/25/97--Austin, Johnson City, and San Antonio, Texas
  • 08/26/97--San Antonio, Texas: Museums
  • 08/27/97--San Antonio, Texas: Museums and the Alamo
  • 08/28/97--LoneStarCon II: Day 1
  • 08/29/97--LoneStarCon II: Day 2
  • 08/30/97--LoneStarCon II: Day 3
  • 08/31/97--LoneStarCon II: Day 4
  • 09/01/97--LoneStarCon II: Day 5
  • 09/02/97--Houston, Texas
  • 09/03/97--Houston, Texas: Houston Space Center
  • 09/04/97--Southern Louisiana
  • 09/05/97--Thibodeaux and New Orleans, Louisiana
  • 09/06/97--Vicksburg, Mississippi
  • 09/07/97--Biloxi, Mississippi: Jefferson Davis Museum
  • 09/08/97--Mobile, Alabama: Forts and Battleship Memorial Park
  • 09/09/97--Tuskegee and Montgomery, Alabama: Historical buildings and Civil Rights sites
  • 09/10/97--Birmingham and Anniston, Alabama: Southern Flight Museum, Civil Rights Institute, Natural History Museum
  • 09/11/97--Huntsville, Alabama: U.S. Space & Rocket Center
  • 09/12/97--Chattanooga, Tennessee and Chickamauga, Georgia
  • 09/13/97--Kennesaw, Georgia
  • 09/14/97--Atlanta and Robins, Georgia
  • 09/15/97--Savannah, Georgia: Savannah Museum and Fort Pulaski
  • 09/16/97--Charleston, South Carolina: Patriots Point
  • 09/17/97--Charleston, South Carolina: Forts Sumter and Moultrie
  • 09/18/97--Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina: Museums
  • 09/19/97--Greensboro and Outer Banks, North Carolina
  • 09/20/97--Kitty Hawk, North Carolina: The Wright Brothers Memorial; Newport News, Virginia: The Mariners' Museum
  • 09/21/97--First and Second Manassas

  • 08/16/97--New Jersey to Virginia: Skyline Caverns and Skyline Drive:

    Well, we are on our way under a cloudless sky. This is sort of a different trip for us. We are just taking our car and setting out. We just loaded the car and are going. My one concern is the car might not be quite up to it. I am not really a car person. We have what has been described as an "appliance" car. I have none of my ego wrapped up in it. I just use it to get me where I want to go. It is a 1984 Toyota. We have had it more than an eighth of a century. That is more than half the time I have been married to Evelyn. Our marriage will hit the quarter century mark this trip. That is still a week and a half off. But getting back to the car it is getting old and a little rusty. We have 146,210 miles on it at this instant. It has been extremely reliable. Only once did it not go when it was supposed to and Toyota said it was a design flaw and paid for it. It died on the way to a dentist appointment. Where you going to find luck like that? Someone driving by recognized Evelyn and took her to work. Luck of Leeper is usually bad, but not with cars... Yet. Still we are abusing the one car we really depend on. I wonder if we are going to get stranded in a Southern town someplace. A lot of Twilight Zones started that way. Probably even more Alfred Hitchcock's.

    We are headed south on the New Jersey Turnpike past Princeton.

    There are all sorts of variety even in 18-wheeler trucks. Most are just sort of dirty and utilitarian. We passed one that was a bit garish. It was shiny with lots of chrome. The flatbed had a row of what looked like gold chains for securing freight. People find funny things to show off with. This thing looks like a 18-wheel pimpmobile.

    There is a mile-long traffic jam at the end of the pike lined up for the tollbooth. The van next to us has a loose parakeet in the car. There is a kid sitting with his legs up and the parakeet is happy just standing on the leg.

    We are in Delaware. This bridge used to have a ten-cent toll. Now it's two dollars.

    We are getting no classical stations as we leave the big cities. I like all sorts of music, or nearly, but my preference is classical or film. I like a strong melody. I guess we will be hearing all kinds this trip. But we won't get classical when we want it. I brought some classical and some film music on cassette. We also have some novels on cassette as our "in-flight movies." A lot of those are Westerns. Put us in the mood for Texas. It is fairly easy to find Westerns on cassette. Truck drivers like Westerns. I prefer science fiction, but there is something to be said for Westerns. At the last Boston Science Fiction Convention (held in Framingham) one of the authors-Don D'Ammassa, I think-said he started with Westerns. Rereading them some just did not measure up. Max Brand did, he thought. A bunch of the Westerns we brought were Max Brands on his recommendation.

    Near Washington we go from I-95 to I-495 then I-66. We passed some interesting buildings, but nothing eventful so far.

    Ah, yes. And suddenly it feels like we are in Oz. The strange Mormon temple pokes its head over the trees, looking like a palace. And they stuck a feller on the top and called him the Moroni.

    Unattended cars should be parked.

    We're now in Dixie.

    We just passed a tall building of the NRA. I see the NRA has fallen out of favor from the hard-core gun fans. The NRA is trying to get assault rifles off the street and there are those who see this as an infringement of our rights. I guess a man wearing swim fins, a football helmet, carrying an assault rifle on the street may have a disordered mind but he is a well-ordered militia.

    On the radio there is a song called "We Want America Back." "It's time for the Army of God to arise and say we want America back." There is a spoken section where the singer complains that thirty years ago the number one TV show was Andy Griffith. He didn't say what is number one now. He says some of our schools have become like war zones. We have to stop that, but not by taking away guns, of course. Interesting country.

    We had lunch in Front Royal. The places to eat all looked like chains. We picked Long John Silver's because those we don't have at home. The sign says shrimp twenty-five cents, no limit. Why would they need one? The fried wrapping is a quarter-inch thick. The fish is better but not good. The key lime pie was good, but only because I squeezed some lemon wedges over it. I always thought that it was an inauspicious name for a restaurant. Long John Silver was given the nickname to imply he would be eaten by cannibals or had been a cannibal or had served human meat-he was a seacook. Long John or Long Pork is human meat.

    The plan was that after lunch we would see Luray Caverns. I looked at the guidebook and decided that nearby Skyline Caverns (isn't that an oxymoron?) sounded more interesting. Luray offered an organ that plays on the stalactites; Skyline has anthodites, an extremely rare formation of calcite also known as "cave flowers."

    We chose the latter. Had we never seen a cavern before that would have been a bad choice. This cave is not rich in really nice stalactites and stalagmites. (Remember the former hang down from the ceiling, the latter collect and built up from the floor.) It has some weird formations, but not a lot. But we'd seen those elsewhere. The guide told us that this is the only cave with anthodites open to the public. They are unusual. They are the size and shape of chrysanthemums or some sort of sea anemone hanging from the roof of the cave. They are like bursts of stalk coming out from a center. According to the guide there is no good explanation for the formation and there are really good explanations the formation is impossible. Calcium cave formations are caused by water dripping down. It should not cause the formation of these spines going in many directions.

    These caverns were discovered in 1937, as sort of another natural attraction to complement the Skyline Drive over the Blue Ridge Mountain Range. The local geology made the presence of caves seem likely to the discoverers. The cave uses indirect lighting to have minimal effect on the formations. They grow at a rate of an inch every 120 years. Anthodites grow one inch in 7000 years.

    One of the feature of the cave is a stalagmite called the Shrine. Light it one way and it looks sort of like a human figure seated with its back to you; light it another way and it is standing facing you.

    There are a number of shallow pools, none more than four inches deep though they look a lot deeper because of the lighting. For no good reason other than ignorant cruelty trout have been introduced to some of these pools and they live in a tight four-inch deep pools in almost total darkness, except when humans are present. We were seeing the cave as dry as it had been in many years due to a lack of rain. The other claim to fame of this cave was the discovery of specimens of a blind beetle that have been found only in this cave. Seven Pseudanophthalmus Petrunkevitchi Valentine dead bodies have been found in the cave and no other cave or any place else. The seven are at the Smithsonian.

    Along on the tour there was a mother with a small child who had just discovered that if he can get somebody to repeat a message by asking "huh?" His mother was paraphrasing what the guide told us for him and he was driving us crazy with his "huh?...huh?...huh?" making her say everything three times, often drowning out the guide. There was also an Indian couple and the mother of one. I was going to wish them a happy independence day (yesterday was a semi-centennial), but the opportunity did not arise.

    Following that we took the Skyline Drive, a national park that runs very much the whole state from north-east to south-west, sort of paralleling the western border. It goes over the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains giving nice views on either side when the weather is not hazy, which it is almost always in the summer.

    The Civilian Conservation Corps built the road during the Great Depression. As I travel the United States, I get a feel that people did all sorts of nifty things during the Great Depression. It almost makes me wish we could have a depression of our own. Herbert Hoover had fished along the ridge and was enamored of the views.

    We ran into the Indian family again who it turns out were from Woodbridge, New Jersey. That is close enough to where we live that we go to a restaurant in Woodbridge.

    Already we have seen wildlife closer than we saw it in Alaska. We saw a mother bear with cub crossing the road ten or fifteen feet ahead of our car. We also saw some deer crossing, but that we could see at home.

    There are signs up that say "Watch for fallen rocks." Later they say "Watch for falling rocks." Perhaps they have both. Seeing falling rocks may be exciting and perhaps a bit dangerous. But seeing fallen rocks is only an inconvenience. It is like if you meet a fallen woman it might well be depressing, but it can be exciting and a little dangerous if you meet one while she is falling.

    We had to stop and get gas at $1.219/gallon. Not really a bad price, about what it was in New Jersey. Of course, here it is self-serve and in New Jersey self-service is illegal.

    The views of the Shenandoah Valley should have been spectacular but for the haziness so they end up looking much alike. After a while we start ignoring them, but it is a nice drive.

    At the end of the trail we were just a couple miles from Waynesboro, Virginia, our goal for the night.

    Well, we had two motels we had picked from the AAA book. The first one we found seemed to have as a side business something called The Heavenly Notions Gift Shop. Their main item seemed to be to take little dolls and attach wings to them, converting them into angel dolls. I wondered if they sold a converter kit or just did custom jobs for people. They have the doorway to the main shop with a glass door and inside is a five-foot tall angel mannequin. It is lit so it can be seen from the road all night. To look up and see that thing standing there was just a bit creepy.

    I went into the office and not surprisingly it was decorated with angel dolls and praying hands. The room when we got it had another sample of her work, a framed foil picture of a hand, palm upward. The quote was from Isaiah and said "See! I will not forget you... I have carved you on the palm of my hand." The hand appeared to be uncarved, thank goodness. It was kind of a gruesome image. The bathroom was decorated with ants. It may have been only one ant but if so she was extremely energetic. That ant was seen just about everywhere in the bathroom. At the sink and shower there were liquid soap dispensers.

    Overall the place was quite a somber little Bates Motel.

    Look, it is time for an aside here. At one time-prehistoric times-people lived in tribes. Nations had not formed yet. Societies had barely formed. The person who took control was the strongest guy around. There was not a great emphasis on character or even maturity on the part of leaders. Having to know a little something about strategy was about the only thing that kept the worst troglodytes out of the office. It was the best policy to assume that your chief was capricious and vain. He (or she) was not particularly interested in the welfare of his (or her) constituents. So if you had to deal with such a person you had to constantly flatter him and feed his ego. Sometimes along with the flattery you threw in little requests for him to grant you wishes. Whatever the leader himself wished you darn well treated as commands for fear of putting him in a bad mood. Basically you treated your leaders the way you treat little children. You fawned on them. And you treated God that same way since God was also a ruler. Little by little democratic principles have come into politics and leaders have risen above needing this kind of obeisance. They have told their followers that this is a ridiculous way to act and they are better than to need this treatment. God has remained silent. As always. People are stuck in the mode of treating God as a little capricious child because He has not been able to tell them any different. So you have billions of people running around doing all kinds of crazy and often sadistic things they think are His will. And they are constantly and tiresomely flattering Him. All this is in the hopes that he will not lop off their heads. If God as an ultimate good exists He cannot possibly want all this constant praise. And he surely doesn't want humans killing other humans in His name. Give Him a little credit. You want to do something nice for Him? Work to make this a better world. Work to make people happier, whatever they believe.

    For dinner we went back to town, about three blocks. We had seen a barbecue sign on our way into town. Barbecue sounded good. We drove to the place and there was no restaurant where the sign was. Now that is one of the things that I tend to assume, that when you see a big sign for a restaurant there actually will be a restaurant to go along with it. Well, there was a restaurant in the next lot over, but they had their own sign. I was not at all sure we had found the restaurant who had put up the sign we'd seen, but we went next door to the Broad Street Inn. We went in and were ushered to a dining room with a sort of a harvest decor. It was dark and had scythes and horse collars on the wall. Each table was lit by an electric candle. There were baskets hanging from the rafters. The rafters looked like they were nailed in place for decoration. There was an antique sled leaning against the wall. There were cases with rustic dishes and cookware decorated with straw and dried flowers. The only thing that broke the New England autumn feel was a big sign that said "Please use the spittoon." The whole thing looks like the place is expecting a big crowd at Thanksgiving.

    I had barbecue; they did not have ribs, oddly. They had good fries, but their baked beans were more like a little dish of bean soup. Everything comes with hush puppies. The waiter brought a squeeze bottle of hot sauce and warned me not to burn [sic] my mouth because it was really hot. Promises, promises.

    Well, back to the room and I turned on a movie and wrote in my log till midnight.

    08/17/97--Virginia: Blue Ridge Parkway and Booker T. Washington National Monument:

    Well, I slept fairly well. The mattress is very firm. It also had fairly big towels. That is unusual in the places we stay. The place does not look so baroque in the light of day. It was clean, except for the ant. The expected high temperature today is 105 degrees. Yesterday was 95. Well, in an air-conditioned car it hardly matters. For me breakfast was the remaining half of Evelyn's wrap from lunch yesterday. It actually was fairly spicy. Then we went to a restaurant and I had a hot chocolate while Evelyn had a full meal including grits. These grits were a lot like farina.

    We followed the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic drive similar to the Skyline the previous day. The scenery is quite nice and the turkey vultures soaring overhead spectacular. You would not think an old turkey buzzard would be so graceful in the air, but they fly a lot in their profession.

    We did see a turtle crossing the road. Some more deer also. We stopped and I tried to take their picture. An Olympus camera is not exactly the world's fastest camera. You click it and it starts thinking, "Now can I figure out the range or not? What is that thing anyway? Oh, well, here goes." I just keep it aimed and two seconds later I get a great picture of the back end of a departing deer. I think they know I have an Olympus camera and time it just right so I get a rotten picture. This passes as deer humor. Go then and become venison.

    We head west on I-220 to the Booker T. Washington National Monument. This is a reconstruction of the Burroughs farm where Booker T. Washington lived the first nine years of his life. As we pulled in there were two cars in the lot, one from Virginia, one from New Jersey. We keep seeing cars from New Jersey. It isn't like it is a short drive. This is like the fourth group of people we ran into from New Jersey.

    Young Booker had to accompany his master's daughter to school, carrying her books, but could not enter because it was illegal for black slave to get an education. Booker was desperate to learn to read, figuring that getting into a schoolhouse to study was like getting into paradise. He had an inventive mind. On Sunday when the Burroughses who owned Booker were feeling particularly Christian they would give the slaves some molasses. Booker would spread it all over his plate assuming it would make it more somehow. Some days he got the molasses; some days he got the black strap.

    As an adult Booker doubted he ever had time to play as a child. His waking hours were entirely work.

    Booker was five at the time the Civil War started, nine when it ended Booker's family was free. Booker's moved to Malden, West Virginia. There he worked in a salt mine. Some days he would get up at 4am to have his work done earlier in the day to study reading.

    Seven years later he had heard of a school for Blacks, the Hampton Institute and went there to learn. He stayed to teach. He was greatly inspired by General Samuel C. Armstrong, a teacher who mentored Booker and got him a teaching position. In 1881 when funding became available for a new school for blacks, Armstrong was asked to recommend someone to found the school and he recommended the man who now called himself Booker T. Washington. Washington founded the Tuskegee Institute. Washington moved on to national prominence advising Presidents. Washington had a long-standing disagreement with W. E. B. DuBois. Washington favored what we would now call a vocational education, DuBois what we would call a liberal arts education. As DuBois put it, "The object of education is not to make men carpenters, it is to make carpenters men."

    We saw a fifteen-minute film on the life of Washington. Then a woman dressed in the clothing of a woman of the ante-bellum South talked to us about the Old South. Young women were not allowed to talk to men so they worked out a whole code of communication using their fans. Snapping a fan shut indicated a sort of put-down of the man. Tapping their lips meant they wanted to be kissed. Hiding their face meant they had to keep their relationship a secret. People had to be very careful of scandal since the nearest neighbor was typically something like ten miles away and you didn't want to be ostracized.

    I asked about food and it would be mostly things like potatoes, beans, corn, whatever they could grow, plus pork.

    A woman would have typically two dresses, one for summer, one for winter. She might decorate them for a party but it would be the same dress. Other times life was just sitting on a porch.

    I asked what the Burroughs women were doing during the war. Essentially they were living in occupied territory. The Union soldiers would tell them what they would have to plant, but they would be able to keep their farm. That makes sense since the army needed their labor and had little to gain by leaving them homeless.

    Out around the back we saw the reconstruction of the farm. In one sense it was a bit dishonest. The reconstructed slave quarters was only half the size of the original. But the farm is again operative. A walk around gives a good feel for the scale of the small farm. It is small even though Washington called it a "plantation."

    Incidentally we later found out it was 101 degrees out.

    We talked to one of the rangers, Tim Sinclair, a very intelligent man whose father apparently never went to high school until his 40s and went on to get a bachelors degree. We told him we worked for Bell Labs and he asked if they still were part of Lucent. He know his stuff. We talked about working for the Labs.

    We wanted to get lunch before hitting the road. Evelyn wanted to try Bojangles Chicken. I had a BBQ chicken sandwich. They had a fill-it-yourself drink bar and I had a lemonade. I took the lemonade as I was standing there and drank half of it. I didn't think about it. It just went down. I guess I was dehydrated. But I find it interesting that a physical condition controls behavior. I am a little surprised that it is elderly women who are cleaning tables. Usually you expect to see young kids.

    The first weekend is coming to an end. When we have these long vacation Evelyn prefers the weekdays, I prefer the weekends. The reason must say something about each of our personalities. Evelyn likes the weekdays because she is off having a good time while her peers are working. She enjoys that feeling, I guess. I prefer the weekends because I tell myself I am getting them free. Weekdays use up vacation time. Weekends do not affect my total of vacation time. They are almost like opposite reasons. At least one of us is always having a good time.

    Well, there is not much else to tell for the day. It is about a five and a half hour drive to Knoxville, Tennessee. To pass the time we listened to the audio book of Wilbur Smith's River God. I had some low-fat potato chips. We didn't get to Knoxville until 9 PM. Evelyn was not interested in dinner so I worked on my log and put a movie on TV. The Motel 6 is cheaper an more comfortable than the weird place we stayed last night. It is now a little after 11 PM and I am caught up in my log.

    Log-writing really becomes a major chunk of work on these trips. This was a short day for seeing things with only one major site, but it still is a lot of work to get caught up. Luckily I can do that in my spare time. That is why I started log-writing rather than taking pictures. It is like being able to go back and take pictures in my off hours. I get my impressions written in what would be slack time. However, it means that there is very little slack time. The palmtop makes keeping a log a lot easier also. (I basically use an HP 200LX as a third lobe of my brain. It is an orderly way of keeping all sorts of records, doing simple calculations, and acting as a reminder clock. But doing that well becomes a major part of my thinking. If I could ever convey to people how much I use the thing, I think HP would hire me.) I used to write the log in a paper notebook, but that forced me to write in near chronological order. I could by a series of redirection write more about an event in the past, but with a palmtop that is not necessary. I can insert wherever I want. This has a bigger effect than it sounds like since as I am leaving a site I can be writing my impressions while they are fresh. If a week from now I think of something to say about Skyline Caverns, I can let the find mechanism find that passage in seconds. And typing has got to be nearly as fast as hand-writing-it may be even faster. The first thing people say when they see the palmtop is that the keyboard is too small for them to use. There are some drawbacks for a palmtop, but that is a lesser one. Mostly I hold it in my hand and type with my thumbs, resting the palmtop on the other four fingers. I will however at times two-finger type with the right or both hands. I do this by holding the base between my thumb and little finger and type with my index finger and middle finger. But in any case really what you learn when you learn to type is where the keys are. If you lost two fingers you would not take nearly as long to learn to type again. You already know where the keys are, you just need a little practice hitting them there in a different way. Within a few minutes you learn to thumb type on a palmtop. Then I enter the log looking at my thumbs typing. It is almost like reading the log as I write it even though my eyes are flying over the keyboard as fast as my thumbs do. Net result: I type on a palmtop nearly as fast, maybe 95%, as typing on a full-sized keyboard. The keyboard is not what makes the log a big job, it is thinking what to say. I am just "talking" slowly into a keyboard.

    The other big advantage is that it used to take months to get the handwritten log typed and it was a big task, usually done by Evelyn when she got the time, bless her. Without her help the lot could not have been published. The last log was published before she even got a chance to see it. I type the log in with each day being a separate file. The log is nearly all typed at the end of the trip. Then one at a time, I pull the files into MSWord and spell-check them. That takes maybe ten minutes per file. Then I concatenate the files and print up the proof of the log. I read that over making notes on what I want to change and then call in the individual files and make the changes.

    Maybe it is just me, but I also like to see the chapters have approximately equal length. At least I like to minimize the standard deviation. If I have a comment to go in that really does not especially apply to any day (like this one, I could have talked about this process anywhere in the log) I will sometimes put it in about the place where I had the thought and other times I will look for a short day's log to put it in. In this case I confess that these are not thoughts I had this Sunday, but on the following Thursday morning. They apply as well to this day. But even part of the nice thing about a log is that even if Evelyn is asleep, I always have someone to talk to. The bad thing is that I have committed myself to do a lot of talking and as soon as I stop I am behind. That makes the trip a little less restful than it would otherwise be, but any trip that you do not come back from exhausted you have wasted.

    I have discovered something of a universal law of motel air conditioners that can simplify the process for the traveler. As you go from motel to motel, they all have very different controls and it is very hard to figure out them all. No problem, there is a law that saves you having to learn all the controls. I have discovered that a motel air conditioner that is on will remain on, and an air conditioner that is off will remain off unless acted upon by direct human intervention. However complex the controls, they really just hide what is essentially an on-off switch. Do not expect any comfort control or thermostat to save you from temperature extremes. The difference between a thermostat in a motel air conditioner and the Easter Bunny is you can at least get someone to wear a suit and pretend to be the Easter Bunny. If you set an air conditioner to turn on when the room gets too warm, no matter what you set as the supposed threshold, the room will never get there. It can get hot enough to melt tungsten in the room and the air conditioner will sit there like a lump. If you go to sleep with the air conditioner on, bundle up warm. A blizzard is coming.

    08/18/97--Tennessee: Oak Ridge and Dayton:

    Well, it was somewhat noisy during the night. But the room was still the better of the two.

    Driving certainly has some advantages over flying. The main one is you get a much better feel for distance. Flying is too much like traveling by matter transmitter. Driving you get a feel that you can get in a car and go for six hours and people talk differently and have a very different world-view. You get a sense of how much things can change per mile of distance.

    We scan the radio for something to listen to and find one religious station after another. Can there be so much demand? In this part of the country people just steep themselves in religious rhetoric. Our major stop of the day is the American Museum of Science and Energy at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

    Somehow American Museum makes it sound as if it is huge, like the American Museum of Natural History. It is two floors, not really very big, but you can see the whole museum in about 90 to 120 minutes. The first floor is a history of the atomic bomb project in Oak Ridge and what happened here after. The simple fact is that Oak Ridge was built for one task, the separation of U-235 from U-238 and the creation of enriched U-235. It was top secret, it was vital to the Manhattan Project, and it was technically somewhat uninteresting. The cutting edge scientists were nearly all at Los Alamos, New Mexico. Oak Ridge was working on an important but not very creative task executing a process that is still semi-secret. That makes this a less interesting site than Los Alamos. Oak Ridge was chosen because it was only sparsely populated, a long distance inland (so less vulnerable to attack), and it had a ready supply of cheap labor.

    The government just came in bought up the land with what was supposed to be six weeks notice (though often it was as little as two), and it started building buildings at explosive speed. Many of the houses were pre-fabricated or built from kits. At their height, the house-building averaged a house completion every thirty seconds. People used to go into town and know everyone they saw, now suddenly three-quarters of the people on the street were strangers.

    All of this was to vaporize uranium remove impurities, then divide it into two gasses with different weights, one was U-235, one was U-238.

    Another part of the museum on the first floor is devoted to cars and gasoline.

    The upper floor is devoted to energy. Some of this is didactic. I took one test on automobile gasoline efficiency. It was supposed to tell me how to be more efficient. Now I have one car, an eighth of a century old. I had it tuned just before the trip. I don't remember what else they asked me but I was generally in the most efficient category. They couldn't tell me much about being more fuel-efficient. Their suggestions were that I carpool (which I do anyway since I share one car with my wife). And I should vacation close to home. (Yeah, right. If I did that I would not be here being lectured by a machine. Besides, usually I leave my car at home when I travel. But I definitely do not stay close to home.)

    The museum offers a visit to the site of the Gaseous Diffusion Plant. The plants were given designations instead of names. As the highway sign says: "This plant is K-12. The K-25 plant was a part of the Manhattan Project, the K-25 plant was designed to house the work on separating U-235 from U-238 through gaseous diffusion. At the time the largest industrial complex in history. Construction was begun 1943 and completed 1945. 25,000 construction personnel worked on the plant." (That probably is not an exact quote, I was expecting to paraphrase. Well the facts are all correct. I bet Shakespeare's history plays were a lot more inaccurate.)

    The biggest thing at K-25 is the U-building at over 44 acres. The claim is that it is a mile in length. If the truth be known it is two three-story buildings side-by-side, each a half mile long, connected by a one-story connecting building. You could walk a mile on the first floor. On the second floor you could not.

    The plant has a 347-foot tall water tower, one of the tallest in the world. Our guides took us around showing us the old barracks, The place where they are making absorbent "stuff" to put on spills. The have a hazardous waste incinerator. It burns solid and liquid waste at the same time which I think was supposed to be impressive. Our guide said the steam coming out the top was 99.9% pure. I did not take him literally. I would assume he did not know what he said. If that plant were releasing one part per thousand of dangerous toxins I would want to be far away right at that instant. The person in charge of the operation came over to talk to us and said that it was a lot purer than that. I did not catch how many 9s he said but it was more like 99.9999%. I guess one of the reasons he made the big bucks is he knew that 99.9% pure is not very pure when you are talking hazardous materials.

    At one point they tried to keep geese from landing on the lab grounds. They actually caught them and released them elsewhere hundreds of miles away. The population just increased faster. It seems the geese were making new friends and bringing them to Oak Ridge.

    After the tour we were taken back to the museum. We finished it and headed out for Dayton, Tennessee, site of the Scopes Monkey trial.

    On the road I see a church announcing a sermon on the topic "Jesus on Labor Unions." I wonder if Jesus can recommend me a good Internet Service Provider.

    As I used to think, in part by doing case studies with audiences of Contact and Fiddler on the Roof, Christians see four classes of people. The innermost circle are people of the same religion. These are the people who have found the truth and are Saved. Well, at least if they believe the parts that really count. The next larger circle contains all Christians. Generally Christians are pretty comfortable with Christians. Well, that's not true. I mean historically there was the Spanish Armada. And, true, there was the English Civil War, things like that. But we live in an enlightened age and liberal times and generally Christians accept other Christians as Christians, unless they are Mormons. And then there is a bigger circle of people who believe in God or gods. Some supreme being. They are sort of okay. I fit into this category as a Jew. Hindus are here because they are polytheistic. Buddhists don't really believe in a God, but they give God-like properties to the Buddha. Most accept that it is anti-social to turn these people into bars of soap. Most accept it is anti-social to deny that some of these people were turned into soap. But there are people outside of this circle who don't believe in any Supreme Being. And how dare they not! I guess believers find themselves threatened by the fact that other people are allowed to think this differently from them. Some of the believers at Contact got really angry that they had invest two hours even liking the Arroway character and then discovering that she was an atheist. Even worse she was a godless atheist.

    How could the filmmaker betray them like that? Arroway didn't tell anyone else what to believe, that would have just compounded the sin. I have been told that part of the resentment against Jews, however, is that they don't try to win converts. In fact they discourage conversion. That is considered elitist.

    You want to know what the truth is? People are insecure about religion. They want to feel their religion is abundantly obvious because they know deep down that they have no evidence what they believe. Faith is accepting without evidence. The truth is that the Universe does not give us the tools to make any intelligent decision on whether God exists or whether gods exist or whether it is all just a story. There is nothing that holds up to scrutiny as being a good reason to believe anything. So people take the fact that other people believe something different as a real threat. And the more different their conclusions, the more the threat. My personal theology is not to look down on anybody for what they believe. I look down on people who try to export their beliefs to other people in a field where there is no knowledge. Proselytizing is spreading false rumors. And the belief that other people should agree with you without good proof has killed people in the millions, perhaps by now in the billions. Dayton, Tennessee, is all about what happened when somebody with a little bit of evidence taught in school something that contradicted an insignificant part of what the no-evidencers believed.

    As we drove we listened to the audio from Inherit the Wind, starring Fredric March and Spencer Tracy-two great actors who had both played Jekyll and Hyde. I don't know why I mention that, but it is interesting. I ran the movie off on audio tape and sometimes we go to sleep listening to it. If you have seen a film two or three times you pretty much can remember the visuals, or at least enough to understand the story. For most films, most of the story is carried on the soundtrack. When I was a kid I dreamt about being able to show a film on the insides of my eyelids so I could go to sleep watching it. This is as close as I got. Often I go to sleep listening to a film because it occupies mind. Thinking will keep me awake. I put a film on a fifteen-minute timer so it turns itself off.

    Entering Dayton I see a restaurant called The Golden Monkey. I wonder if it is an allusion to the association of monkeys and Dayton.

    I have formed many of my opinions about the Scopes Trial from the film Inherit the Wind directed by Stanley Kramer. I will assume the reader is already somewhat familiar with the Scopes "Monkey" Trial. Tennessee had recently enacted a law saying it was illegal to teach evolution as fact. In the summer of 1925 John T. Scopes was accused of the crime in a test trial that got out of hand as a media event. Two men, most of their lives strong political allies, came to Dayton to act as Prosecution and Defense. Prosecuting was William Jennings Bryan, a great Populist, three times the Democratic nominee for President and very likely the single man most responsible for the Democratic Party being the liberal party today. Bryan fought for lower tariffs, free coinage of silver, dismantling industrial trusts, and women's suffrage. When he found himself losing power in Democratic party he went into the "politics of saving souls." He had turned to Fundamentalist Christianity as a cause and a personal belief.

    Defense was Clarence Darrow, perhaps the greatest crusading American lawyer of his day. He had recently won the commuting to life imprisonment the sentences of Leopold and Loeb, two young men who had committed kidnapping and murder for the fun of it. (They are the basis of the films Compulsion, Rope, and Swoon.)

    Inherit the Wind is a very good film and the locals have been trying to tell people not to believe it too strongly. It ain't necessarily so. Bryan College, built to honor William Jennings Bryan and whose slogan is "Christ Above All, " not necessarily the most unbiased of sources, points out fourteen inaccuracies in the film. Among them were the following.

    John Scopes probably did not teach evolution. He was more a coach than anything else though he was prepared to substitute teach biology. He never remembered actually teaching evolution, though most of the biology teachers in the state actually had since it was in the state-mandated textbook. Scopes had agreed to be the nominal defendant when the ACLU had advertised for a teacher willing to act as defendant. He had minimal participation in the trial and was not what the trial was really about. Dayton had agreed to prosecute as a way to put Dayton an the map and to attract business. The suggestion that it be Bryan and Darrow was apparently first made in newspaper editorials. The trial was about whether a law should be enforced. Bryan and Darrow were both happy to be in the public forum. Bryan made the safe offer of paying any fine if Scopes had any problems getting the money. It is claimed that Scopes was well-liked by the people of Dayton. Bryan was conversant with Darwin's writings (it is claimed) and was arguing that they need not be dropped from the State curriculum, but that the word "theory" be always applied.

    Bryan's side did allow scientific testimony but not as evidence, though they did allow it in the record. The whole subplot of the betrayal of Scopes girlfriend is fictional. Scopes did not any steady girlfriend. Darrow wanted the case to go to a higher court and himself requested a guilty verdict. We purchased an account of the events leading to the trial and of the trial itself. There is a great deal about the trial and the events leading up to it that would seem like a bizarre burlesque. It would be nice to see an "American Experience" or an accurate film on the subject.

    We headed out of town on State Route 30 which goes down the side of a mountain. In short order we saw signs that said "6% grade," "slide area," "roadwork," "trucks entering highway," and "rough road, shoulder drop-off." The only one that was missing was "I'd turn back if I was you."

    We were intending to find someplace to eat, but Route 64/15 just goes through farmland and wooded areas. A barn says "Apostolic Christian Church." There seem to be a lot of home-brew churches. I think there are not as many religious stations as I originally thought. I tend to listen to the low end of the dial where Public Radio stations tend to cluster, but it looks like Christian radio stations cluster there also. Actually what there is a lot of on this route is road construction. There must be some big project to widen the road, but it seems every few miles we have to slow down or stop because of big earth moving machines.

    I don't know that I would recognize kudzu, but I see a lot of poles and support cables that have been engulfed in vines that I assume are the real thing.

    We drive through Pulaski looking for a good place to eat. There is little in town. Most of the restaurants are chains. In the town there may be a cafe or two. I note they have side-by-side one place called The Art of Dance and next to it The Practice of Chiropractic.

    The biggest crowd we see is in front of a place called Hickory House so that is it. It is a sort of BBQ place. I am eating a lot of barbecue. When we get further South I will mix in Mexican.

    We drove to Lawrenceburg and stayed at the Richland Inn. It was $40/night in the book and actually $47, but the room is fairly comfortable, the best so far. I cannot really complain. There is an easy chair in the room. Nice.

    I was curious that while I saw churches all over the place there were no synagogues to be seen. I looked in the yellow pages. They were three phone numbers shy of having three full pages of church phone numbers, they had not one synagogue. In this part of the country Jews are mythical beasts. From our hotel room we get about four FM radio stations. Sports and rock music seem to be what we get.

    I write, rest, and watch an independent film on cable, The Pompatus of Love. (Don't worry, the title is not supposed to make sense.)

    And that was Monday.

    08/19/97--Tennessee: Shiloh and Memphis:

    Our room included a continental breakfast including cereal, doughnuts, and things intended to be mistaken for bagels. We watched the news and it was about a court action against Dow Chemical on silicon breast implants. A representative of the plaintiff claimed that the chemical company thought it could push around the plaintiffs because they were women. A representative of Dow Chemical said women have been brainwashed into believing every ache and pain is the fault of the breast implant. It is nice to know that whatever the ruling it will be a victory for women's liberation.

    I looked at my breakfast plate which now had only crumbs and explained to Evelyn that women have been brainwashed into believing that they are supposed to wait until their husband is ready to throw out his plate before they can proceed with the day, and that today's modern woman is learning she can take the bull by the horns, grabbing that empty plate and throwing it out herself. Didn't work. I had to throw out my own plate. In some ways Evelyn is fixed in pre-liberation thinking.

    After breakfast we headed for the Shiloh battlefield. On the way we passed a church with a two signs out. One said "Judgment Day is Coming," and the other announced a weight loss class. You have been weighed in the balance and found not quite wanting enough. In fact, you are just a smidge on the heavy side. And you do want to look good in that swimsuit, don't you?

    Shiloh was the great reality check of the Civil War. Up until this battle each side had visions of gloriously trouncing the other side and bringing the hostilities to a quick end. Even after First Manassas it was thought that this could be a small war. But now it was too late for that. This was the bloodiest battle that had ever been fought by Americans and it was clear what was to follow would be terrible on both sides. It already was. In a single two-day battle, 3400 men were killed. Actually, that is misleading. Those are the people who were killed outright. There were far more injuries, but many of those would die eventually also. (Usually what is given for a Civil War battle is the casualty rate including killed, injured, and missing. Sometimes those are broken out into separate figures. But it is impossible to tell how many of those are deaths. It may have been impossible to tell at the time. All they knew was how many fighting men they were down.)

    General Lew Wallace (who would write Ben Hur) commanded one of Grant's six divisions. John Wesley Powell lost an arm but went on to be one of the great frontier explorers and adventurers. He is best known for his explorations of the Grand Canyon where he occasionally survived by hanging onto rocks with his remaining arm.

    General Grant and the Army of the Tennessee had invaded Tennessee from St. Louis. General P. G. T. Beauregard had been arguing to do what it took to push them back north rather than just engaging them. But what added strength to his argument was the knowledge that General Don Carlos Buell was driving south from Ohio to reinforce Grant.

    General Albert Sidney Johnston would lead the attack on Grant with Beauregard as his second in command. Grant was playing a purely offensive game. He was preparing for attack and seizure, not defense. Johnston and Beauregard intended to attack on Friday, April 4, 1862, but could not get the attack together until Sunday morning. Beauregard was sure that by now the element of surprise was completely gone. William Sherman had gotten reports of Confederates in the area but ignored them.

    General Benjamin Prentiss thought the Southerners were near and, though his men were untested, he sent out patrols on reconnaissance to see if they could find Southern soldiers around. Prentiss's men ran into thousands of yelling Rebel troops attacking. They stood and fought back waking the whole division. They joined the fight, fighting and retreating, fighting and retreating. Using a sunken road as a trench they stayed their ground and fought back. The time that Sherman lost by discounting the presence of the enemy was at least partially won back by Prentiss and his men.

    The Confederates kept hitting the sunken road and being repelled in extremely bloody fighting. They called it the Hornet's Nest. Finally the South tried artillery. Sixty-two cannons were brought in to pound the Hornet's Nest for an hour, the largest concentration of artillery an American battlefield had ever seen. That weakened the line enough to be captured, but by now Grant had organized his lines.

    Johnston got what should have been a minor leg injury. By chance, it severed a major artery and he bled to death in a few minutes. The fighting was chaotic the rest of the day. But Grant was able to get a cannon to bear on Confederate positions. The fighting was bloody and demoralizing.

    At nightfall Beauregard was fairly sure it would take only a little mopping up in the morning. He did not count on the fact that between the cannon fire and the rain his men got none of the badly needed rest they expected. Many of Grant's men, equally demoralized deserted they positions and went down to the river, not sure where to go next. Then activity on the other side of the river attracted their attention. Buell's entire army from Ohio arrived one day too late to prevent slaughter, but a day too early to allow Beauregard his victory. The next morning it was the Union who staged the surprise attack. They advanced on the Confederate lines who fought back fiercely stopping the advance, but they could not break the line.

    Toward afternoon Beauregard was convinced his men were nearing collapse. He retreated to Corinth. Grant sent Sherman in pursuit. Sherman found heavy resistance was still possible from Nathan Bedford Forrest and his men and did not pursue his attack.

    The battle was over, but tens of thousands of dead and wounded remained. There were 20,000 killed or wounded. After a day or so Beauregard sent an emissary to Grant under a white flag requesting a truce long enough for the Confederates to collect and bury their dead. Grant sent back mail saying that he would comply, but the action was no longer necessary. He had his own men collect and bury the Confederate dead and that in the future he would always be happy to cooperate in any humanitarian action not inconsistent with his responsibilities. I assume someone eventually told Prentiss's men that their actions and courage won the battle of Shiloh for the Union.

    Results of the battle:

    US Grant's Army of the Tennessee:

    1503 killed, 6601 wounded, 2830 missing

    Don Carlos Buell's Army of the Ohio:

    241 killed, 1807 wounded, 55 missing

    Albert Sidney Johnston's Army of the Mississippi:

    1728 killed, 8012 wounded, 959 missing

    About even deaths, half Northern, half Southern.

    Anyway, that's Shiloh. Shiloh is a Hebrew word for "Peace." The battle was named for Shiloh Church near the battlefield. One of the first field hospitals was set up at Shiloh because there was no other way to take care of all the wounded. This first time, they treated the wounded regardless of for which side they fought.

    Historic note of interest: Grant was a fairly good tactician, but his qualities did not extend a long way beyond that. At one point (in 1864?) General Grant ordered all Jews to leave Tennessee. After some uproar an embarrassed Abraham Lincoln annulled the order. True story.

    The Park Service has a twenty-five-minute film explaining the battle and then the visitor is set loose to drive around the battlefield and read signs and listen to some recorded messages. Most interesting places are the sunken road and pond where soldiers of either persuasion dragged themselves for a drink, many dying, bleeding into the water until the waters looked like blood. There also was a pretty good bookstore. (Uh, not originally, but now there is.)

    Today the battlefield was occupied with butterflies. One landed on me and refused to leave me for about ten minutes, even getting a ride in a car for his efforts.

    We drove to Memphis after that. We see whole fields engulfed in kudzu. Tall trees are completely enshrouded looking like something out of The Blob. The vine seems to attach to just about anything.

    It is another longish drive and we stop for Mexican food along the way. I have Chile Rellenos.

    Memphis has a lot of the same feel as New Orleans. This is the place that black music transformed and mutated into rock and roll, and they want everybody to know it. You don't see nearly as many Jesus references here as you see in other parts of the South. At least in Memphis, a lot of that religious zeal is taken up with their own home-grown Messiah, one Elvis Presley. You just have to drive down the main drag, Elvis Presley Blvd., past the Graceland Mansion to see the crowds outside and see how popular the King still is today. Our hotel has pictures of Elvis in the lobby. Wherever you look you are reminded that out of Memphis came the Great Presley. Back when the Beatles were so popular it was a point of trivia that Presley was still a bigger seller than the Beatles. The Beatles had 38 gold albums; Elvis had 61. And now that neither is producing any more, the Beatles seem to have dropped into relative obscurity. They seem a fixture of the past. The Elvis Presley cult, on the other hand, is stronger than ever. It really has taken on religious overtones. Elvis has died, but he is still with us. And there are those who think he has returned from Death and walks among us now. There actually is a book in the same series as DOS for Dummies, and Windows for Dummies. The book is called Elvis for Dummies. When I first saw it my reaction was "that was my impression, too." There have been serious efforts to have Elvis canonized as a Saint. Church representatives have given it little credence, I hope. But in large part their efforts have been because Elvis comes so close to actually fitting all the criteria for sainthood that he hurts the credibility of the whole canonization process. And there probably are people who are just waiting for the go-ahead to start praying to Elvis Presley. They just need to have confirmed that a dead rock and roll singer can carry their prayers to heaven.

    We stayed at the Super 8, a motel in a distant part of Memphis. They perfumed the room. I am not sure why. It has a fridge and microwave, but it is not as well maintained as some of the places we stopped.

    Once we were settled in the room we headed out to walk Beale Street. This is the local equivalent of Bourbon Street. This is where the Blues were invented. Every building has a celebrated history.

    W. C. Handy, inventor of the blues, wrote in a song about the street:

    The Seven Wonders of the world I have seen

    and many are the places I have been;

    Take my advice, folks, and see Beale Street first.

    You will see pretty little browns dressed in beautiful gowns.

    You will see tailor-mades and hand-me-downs;

    You will see Honest men and pick-pockets skilled,

    You will find that business never closes

    until somebody gets killed.

    You will see hog-nosed restaurants and chitterling cafes

    and jugs that tell of bygone days.

    You will see golden balls enough to pave the New Jerusalem.

    I would rather be there than any place I know.

    It is going to take a sergeant just to make me go-

    I am going down the river maybe by and by, 'cause the river is wet and Beale's gone dry.

    According to the city's visitors' guide "Memphis' African-American roots are an integral part of the city's overall culture. A way station on the Underground Railroad, the city offered hope to runaway slaves..." Excuse me? I have heard of putting a good face on things but isn't this a little much? Now where did I get the impression that people from Memphis were on the side of slavery and the Underground Railroad had to be just as secret here as anywhere? I didn't think that Tennessee was any friend of the slaves. Anyway, Beale Street has been dubbed "Home of the Blues." Its Walk of Fame is one legendary building after another. This is the first I had hear of most of them, but I think in the right circles they are famous. In any case, one building after another is why the great blues was blown or where the blues legends bought their underwear. It was here that W. C. Handy wrote the first blues song in 1909.

    We took the Walking Tour available from which has a fairly detailed building-by-building account. The police station has a museum of police paraphernalia including a scale that was once used to weigh Machine Gun Kelly. The tour includes all the hot clubs in the six-or-so-block stretch.

    At one end of town is an arena shaped like a 321-foot pyramid. There is a statue of Rameses II standing out front. When I was in Egypt, I don't remember seeing a statue of Elvis at Memphis, but it would not surprise me.

    The other patron saint of Memphis is Danny Thomas who made as his cause the St. Jude Medical Center in the center of the downtown area. It has a building with an Islamic dome, intended to look like the Dome of the Rock. It was a tribute to Thomas's Lebanese origins, though the Dome is in Jerusalem.

    We took the Elvis Presley Blvd. back toward the room, looking for a place to have dinner. We passed by Graceland and, of course, there was a crowd in front. We circled around. You can only stand outside the wall and catch a small glimpse of the mansion a thousand feet or so away. The stone wall is solid graffiti. Every square inch is covered. Mostly is where the Faithful have Magic-Markered on their devotions to "The King." And of course there were lots of people getting their pictures taken near the gates. Across the street they have his Personal Jet and stores where you can buy Elvis memorabilia and perhaps a relic or two.

    We had a tough time finding a place to eat that did not look like a chain. Finally we ended up at a place called Ruby's near our motel. I think it must have been new and they did not have their procedures down. I ordered a fried catfish sandwich, Evelyn got Buffalo Wings. It took them something like thirty-five or forty minutes to prepare. The food would get a B or a B+. Not great, but decent. Good fries and more than we could finish. The guy was apologetic about the slow service. Then he accidentally gave me ten cents too much in my change and seemed a little surprised that I didn't keep it. I price my integrity a lot higher than ten cents.

    Log writing in the room and I went to sleep putting the TV on timer and watching a piece on Byzantium. That is an upcoming vacation, I think.

    08/20/97-Memphis, Tennessee: Art and Civil Rights Museums:

    The hotel provides shampoo in a little envelope. I hate those things. It was a good idea originally. But then they had to make the little envelopes watertight. They use something like polyethylene. You cannot get a good enough grip with wet hands to tear those things. You try to tear them and they slip through your fingers. You would think someone would notice this. No. Year after year motels give these envelopes out. I guess it is cheaper than giving out the little plastic bottles of shampoo. But they just are more designed so that the motel can tell itself it has provided shampoo, not to provide a service to the customer.

    It rained all night but stopped and showed signs of clearing in the morning.

    The continental breakfast offered is your choice of coffee and glazed doughnuts or glazed doughnuts and coffee.

    There is an art museum at the University of Memphis. In the back corner is a room of Egyptian antiquities. Two statues of the lion-headed Sekmet flank the doorway.

    Inside are sarcophagi, some jewelry, canoptic jars. There are small iconic carvings of cats and gods. There is a nice Horus falcon. There are depictions of a god I was not familiar with, Bes, the almost Teddy Bear-like god of childbirth.

    I folded an origami Anubis and left it on the case containing the mummy. Let it guide him to the next world.

    Their more modern art contains a room with Elvis art. There is a room devoted to Joe Light who seems to write aphorisms and boards as his main art form. Things like "When anybody hurt's a person's feelings time and again, they are a real liar if they say they like or love that person."

    The art museum is in the music building and you hear practicing as you leave. It was clear before, but it is clouding up again. It is hot and humid.

    The world seems to have gone crazy about another of my old interests, the Titanic. This year there is a movie, a play on Broadway, the local IMAX has a show, Titanica. There is some local exhibit on the Titanic. I bet none of them hold a candle to A Night to Remember. That's the biggee.

    Next is the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. This is free except for special exhibits, but they will expect a donation. The top floor starts with art of ancient Americas: terra-cotta statues, etc. There is a really strange figure of a kneeling, bound man. Off to the side is some more modern stuff including a Picasso pitcher.

    Oceania has carved wooden figures. They look almost African except for the occasional seashells.

    African art includes a sort of hornbill bird-man. (The guard comes around to get a closer look at what we are doing with our palmtops. In fact, I am describing the museum as I go.) They do have some nice imaginary figures.

    Mediterranean. Some nice Etruscan. I like the Satyr's head.

    One floor down for Antiquities, Medieval, and Renaissance.

    At the beginning there is a theater, not connected with this exhibit. There was a twenty-minute film on Walter Anderson, a Mississippi artist who mixed abstract and realistic images.

    The medieval paintings are mostly on religious themes. Madonnas, angels, the annunciation (surprise!), a Last Supper by Tommaso di Stefano (who missed the point of why they were gathered by the look of the table-it was not a seder table in his painting). Medieval artists seemed in agreement that Jesus was a really ugly baby.

    Into Baroque Art there is "The Finding of Moses. " The dress is not anything like Egypt, and Pharaoh's daughter has an arm elongated like some kind of ape.

    Moving to yet more modern times there is a Winslow Homer of a girl sitting in the grass reading. There is a sculpture by John Rogers called Coming to the Parson that looks like 3D Norman Rockwell. There is a Thomas Hart Benton of a train engineer dreaming of having to jump from a train at a washed out bridge.

    The bottom floor has more modern art including an Elvis room with photographic images of a young Elvis by William Speer.

    The first floor has the art of Walter Anderson, the subject of the film. He does subjects of nature, generally in the abstract.

    Well, that being done, the next order of business is lunch. We drive up and down Poplar looking for a place. There is a Vietnamese restaurant we figure we will try. The lights are cycled on Poplar so you hit every light red in either direction. Mathematically I wonder how they do that.

    The Pho is a restaurant that specializes in soups. It seems to be the only restaurant of its type in the area. Exotic restaurants are not common. On the other hand, I was not sure when I came in if there would be a place to sit down. The place is packed.

    I got a huge bowl of seafood and noodle soup. Pretty good. Their iced coffee is a glass of ice and a small glass with a layer of coffee and a layer of thick cream. The latter is the consistency of sour cream. You mix the coffee and cream and pour it over ice. Then add sugar. The Thai Iced Coffee at Pad Thai in Highland Park, NJ, is a lot better.

    On to the next stop.

    The National Civil Rights Museum has pickets across the street calling it a fraud. I may drop over after to see why. (I didn't but Evelyn had read about the controversy. Apparently there is a profit being made from the museum and pickets think it should not be for private profit.)

    They insisted on checking my camera. Fine, I can still create a word portrait.

    The Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, has been turned into a museum on the history of black civil rights. The real problem with the National Civil Rights Museum is that it is too much article and not enough artifact. Suppose the whole building accidentally snagged on some chronoclastic elasticity, and it suddenly snapped back to the way it was a week after the assassination. Now the whole museum has to be recreated today. No problem. Almost nothing would be lost that money could not replace. It is not so much a museum as a large, walk-through picture book. There is a lot of information, but it is almost all in paragraph form on the wall. With pictures. And little is presented at all more imaginatively than that. This is a plain old bad presentation of information. Most people I saw were just looking at the pictures and walking past us since we were taking time to read some of what was there.

    Some exhibits went beyond, but even those were not well thought out. There is a bus that you can sit down in. As soon as you do it starts yelling at you to move to the back of the bus and hitting the seat. If two people sit down ten seconds apart then you hear the same yelling from both seats, the same words, just ten seconds apart. What should have been a passionate and even enraging experience turns into a dry and rather spiritlessly academic exhibit rather than a real museum.

    When you enter there is a seven-minute film every twenty minutes explaining some of the basics of the fight for civil rights. The actual exhibit starts with a timeline of pre-Civil-War efforts. Then there is a quilt, made in 1991, telling the story of the Underground Railroad.

    The next room continued the timeline through World War I with explanations of Jim Crow, Plessy v. Ferguson, etc. There is one of the real artifacts, some Klan robes.

    A third timeline continued to the 1950s with Marcus Garvey, Scottsboro, Eleanor Roosevelt, School Desegregation, World War II, the first sit-ins, and the first Freedom Ride.

    Now we are into the age of amateur filing and news footage. So there are short film strips, but it is very hard to understand what is being said from background noise from other exhibits. A little further there are histories of bus boycotts and lunch counter sit-ins. They have a lunch counter peopled with four gray statues of protesters. Behind them are gray statues of beefy white troublemakers. Behind the scene they have newsreel footage of the fight to segregate lunch counters.

    There are sections recounting Brown v. Topeka Board of Education, the Montgomery bus boycotts, and a section on freedom rides. It continues with the de-segregation of Ole Miss; the desegregation of Birmingham, Alabama, and the 1963 March on Washington. For the latter they have a copy of the speaker's program. Press on one of the listings and you can hear an excerpt of the speech. Just about everybody picks Mahalia Jackson singing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." I guess people feel they have been inundated with words or just don't care that much.

    Final topics are the 1964 Freedom Summer, voter registration, King in Chicago, and finally King's visit to Memphis. This leads you to the actual room that King was staying in, the mess in the room at the time recreated. There is an account on how he came to be shot.

    That is the climax of the museum and the conclusion. On the way out there is a souvenir shop, but Evelyn points out that there is little selection in the way of books on civil rights. There are pens and toys and postcards, but little in the way of information. That is kind of a pity. I guess there is not much interest in studying the ideas. At least not enough to support multiple accounts.

    Another thing that disturbed me about the museum was that during the Fifties and Sixties Jews did a great deal to fight for civil rights for blacks. Jews were a big part of the Freedom Rides, much more than other ethnic groups. About the only reference to it is a Klan leaflet that indicates they knew that Jews were pivotal in founding the NAACP, the Congress of Racial Equality, and United Negro College Fund. The only one who seems to remember it these days is Farrakhan who claims that Jews controlled these organizations. The museum teaches about the Mississippi Burning incident, but doesn't mention that the murder victims were two Jews and one Black. Yet it took a long, long time to get black leaders to speak out against Farrakhan's anti-Semitism and even now it is full of equivocation. I guess the answer is to do what you think is right because it is right. If you help another ethnic group don't expect gratitude or reciprocity. Me, I feel I owe the Dutch, Scandinavians (especially the Finnish), and the Bulgarians, and some Japanese, Spanish, and French for what they did to save Jews during the Holocaust. There may be others that don't come to mind. For the most part they are not involved in controversy. But I do feel a debt to these nationalities for their willingness to risk their lives for others.

    It was on the way so we stopped into Schwab's on Beale. It closes at 5 PM and we got there at 5:02 PM yesterday. Evelyn wanted to see it. I got myself a cheap hat and for my chachka table some voodoo oil. I could have gotten some Elvis thing, that they would surely sell here, but I could not bring myself to buy Elvis's picture.

    On the way back to the room we stopped to see the Pink Mansion. No, it's not Graceland. It was the mansion being built by the owner of Piggly-Wiggly when he died. It has been turned into a general-purpose museum. Why was Piggly-Wiggly so successful? The owner came up with a new idea. Rather than tell the grocer what you want and having him give it to you, you walked through the rows of shelves and picked out your own groceries and took them to a cashier. The grocer had to do less and the customers saw what was available. They bought more seeing what the selection was available. The South still has Piggly-Wiggly groceries, but food stores all over the world do it his way now.

    We went out for dinner at seven. About all that was convenient and decent is barbecue. At home I usually stay away from red meat, but when I travel I am not so finicky and I eat pork. Anyway I have had barbecue in some form each day on this trip, but this was the first really good barbecue. Their baked beans were pretty tasty also. Their coleslaw was made by someone who does not like coleslaw, but wanted to say that the meal came with it. Nobody who likes coleslaw grinds up the cabbage to a paste and then puts on dressing. Uh-uh. That's someone who let their food processor get away from them and didn't care.

    Eating coleslaw is about eating cabbage. It is about chewing cabbage and getting a satisfying crunch. If you can suck coleslaw through a straw, you wouldn't want to. I heard someplace that not a lot is known about porcine geriatrics. Pigs are not useful to humans for anything but meat. You raise a pig to slaughter it. Wild pigs may live to old age, in captivity people don't hold onto them to old age. That's a depressing thought to end the day on.

    Back to the room to write. I actually got caught up in the log early and could watch most of a film on TV. Midway. Boy, if you wanted to make a case that time travelers were going back in time and tampering, that would be one of the points. The Japanese needed to know if there were American carriers in the area and if so, where they were. They sent scout planes out to look and all the scout planes went out just fine except the one that was to go in the critical direction. It had engine trouble and left an hour late. Then it could not radio its information. A second scout plane sent in the same direction had problems with its radio and it could not report. Some really low-probability events in general, but in this case they lined up just perfectly to keep from the Japanese exactly the piece of information that they needed so desperately. The net result is they lost five or so aircraft carriers. I think we lost only the Yorktown. If it happened in a piece of fiction it would be bad writing.

    After the film I did some reading and went to sleep about 11:45 PM.

    08/21/97--Little Rock and Hot Springs, Arkansas:

    I woke up about 5 AM. I added to last night's entry the stuff about Midway. At breakfast we talked to a flying enthusiast from New York who had come to Memphis to see the exhibition on the Titanic. We talked about flying and the Titanic. Current thinking is that the iceberg did not cut the Titanic, it was just so heavy it pushed in the side, pushing the rivets right through their holes. It bent the hull, it didn't cut it. He also mentioned that the original Memphis Belle is at Mud Island. We probably should have gone out there. Well, it is a little late now. He mentioned his daughter was into the Internet and I was going to suggest to him that he wait a month or so and then put "Leeper" and "southeast" in a search engine and he could get this trip log. Evelyn signaled me not to. I guess she figured he would not be able to find us.

    We set out for Little Rock listening to a Zane Gray story. Little Rock does not seem to advertise their most famous point of interest, Central High School. It made national news when the town resisted integration. I guess they are not so proud of this piece of history. We are headed west-southwest on Route 40.

    We are passing Stuttgart. A great deal of Arkansas seems to be named for someplace else. The state name seems an allusion to Kansas, then there is Texarkana, Arkadelphia, Mountain View, Washington, Eureka Springs, Helena, and Camden. Nobody wanted to live here? Then there are place names that are tributes to famous people. Perhaps this is where Washington should go. Does it refer a place or a person? There is Wilson, Harrison, Van Buren, Pocahontas, and Powhatan. Then there are silly names like Smackover and Dogpatch.

    Well, we blew into Little Rock about 10:30 AM. I had done my homework to see where all the exciting places to visit in Little Rock are. While the AAA book did not come right out and say it, the set of attractions painted the town as a place that was not so much lackluster as tangibly boring. One place they did not list is Central High School, the school that President Eisenhower had to send in troops to integrate in 1958. Opposing it was Governor Orval Faubus. I figured the town was trying to forget the whole incident. Of course, I wanted to see it. But Little Rock is a big place. We drove around the downtown. It did not present itself to us. I suggested we look in a phone book. We drive around and find a pay-phone. In this day and age pay phones don't have phone books. Well, in the center of town there is a hotel. I bet their phones have phone books. We park in town to go either there or the visitor center. If the AAA book does not mention it as a tourist attraction, they probably don't want to open old wounds. Better just to find it ourselves.

    We walk into the hotel. The doorman sees us and I bluff by nodding to him. He nods back. We go in and find telephones. Yes, there is a phone book. But finding a school is not that easy. It is not in the white pages under Central or Yellow Pages under Schools. Evelyn finds it under Little Rock. 1500 South Park. But South Park is not on the map.

    We go to the south end of town and drive west looking for South Park. We see a sign directing us toward the school. We pass by where they are building the Central High Visitor Center and Museum. Well, perhaps they are not trying to bury the past. It is a nice looking high school. We get out and walk to the front door. Okay, I guess we have seen it.

    Back into the car and off we go to Hot Springs, where William Clinton grew up. Rainwater goes underground 4000 to 8000 feet, it is heated geothermally and raises back to the surface. Somewhere around here, according to legend, is the great Fondu Lac where bubbling molten cheese comes roiling to the surface. That is only certain times of the year and the locals have a festival. They bake loaves of bread which they impale on these things that look like boat hooks. They then thrust the bread into the Fondu Lac, leave it a moment, then pull it out and eat the cheese and bread. It is very exciting. I heard a report about it on National Public Radio at one point.

    That is not what we did for lunch. After stopping at the Visitors Center, we drove around looking for a place to eat and found a Czech restaurant called the Bohemian. Evelyn and I order nearly identical orders of Chicken Paprikash and salad. It claims to come with dumplings, but they are more like slices of bread.

    We went to the Quality Inn where our greeting was extremely friendly. They made sure we got a discount. (We would have gotten one anyway for being Lucent, but they keep a stack of magazine with ads that say show this ad and get a 10% discount.) In fact, it is a town with economic problems and they have a motel that has some maintenance problems. In our case, it is really hard to get the front door closed. The toilet sticks, and there was a wet washcloth in the bathroom. But being super-friendly gets the customer on your side right away.

    Our first site is the Mid-America Science Museum. This is one of the many science museums that have followed the lead of the San Francisco Exploratorium. At a guess it may be a third of the size, but it has the same sort of hands-on exhibits. Where this museum had an advantage is it included my hands. There were no little kids pushing their way to the front of queues. There were darn few children in general. I even had several minutes with the prize exhibit. The place was really empty on a Thursday afternoon. The second most prized exhibit is a scene of motorized dinosaurs. The most prized exhibit is a cutaway motorized tyrannosaurus with levers that the visitor can use to control it. One lever made it move its body up or down, right or left. The other made it turn its head right or left and open or close its mouth. But it would do only one of the eight actions at a time. Around the trunk the thick rubber skin was cut away so that you could see the motors inside. This is a temporary exhibit, here only through September 1. The models were okay, but they had what I have to call "wagga." That is actually a technical term. Wagga is what mimes imitate when they try to look like they are mechanical. Wagga is at the end of a movement: instead of stopping smoothly it shakes back and forth. The Tyrannosaurus had wagga.

    Well, so what did they have? They have 3-D reconnaissance pictures. Most did not work rally well but at least one was quite good, showing buildings that really stood up. Reconnaissance picture often are taken in 3-D to make it easier to understand what is in the pictures,

    They have some sculptures by Sir Rowland Emmet. These are extremely whimsical machines that have a sort of personality. A flying machine will have been made, in large part, of kitchen utensils. A vacuum cleaner will look more like a sniffing dog. His machines were featured in Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. They are kid-pleasers.

    There are stations with electrical experiments, pendulums that mark their paths with sand from a funnel, some poles that work like a theremin, a skeleton on a bicycle that warns kids that they better eat lots and lots of dairy products so they do not get a painful disease called osteoporosis (why do I think the Dairy Council donated this exhibit?). There is a piece where you pump up mountains and pump rivers to show how these forces work. And there are long tubes to pump bubbles into to show what makes bubbles rise and fall. There are two or three different exhibits that create tornadoes, one in a tube of water, one in a chamber that uses spinning air and water vapor. There is a big fan and a beach ball floating above it to demonstrate Bernoulli principles. I played with this a while and had to go chasing the ball several times. And there are rooms that freeze shadows. Mostly they are exhibits I had seen in other museums, but they were fun. A lot of these science exhibits show up in multiple museums. One gets the idea and others copy it. Or one manufacturer will sell the same science exhibit to multiple museums.

    There is also a nature walk out behind the museum, but there were few animals to be seen other than birds. Somewhere I have heard that birds are now classified not as descendants of dinosaurs any more. They are now classified as dinosaurs that survived the great extinction. But I bet the nature walk is not as popular as the control-your-own dinosaur exhibit.

    After that we went into town to sightsee. We walked through the bottom floor of one of the bath houses. You also see a lot of Bill Clinton Hometown chauvinism. Lots of people in town want you to know that Bill Clinton came from here.

    One highlight of seeing the bathhouse was seeing the Scotch Hydrotherapy Machine. It was aweird-looking thing with the gauges and the hoses in the top. It (or one like it) turned out to be an important prop in the film One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest.

    I have to say there is something a little weird about an American town whose economy is based on people getting into hot water and soaking. I know there are places like this in England and Wales, but it seems a really foreign to American culture to make this a major form of entertainment. It is a little like having a whole town whose main form of entertainment is going to the bathroom.The town of Hot Springs is like something from another culture. In fact, it is something out of a culture

    that was strong and now is nearly dead. What is surprising is the realization that this culture so recently or ever was alive in the United States. It is hard to believe that a town flourished from people who came to take baths and drink warm, unpleasant water. But now that weird-seeming culture has nearly died for lack of believers, and the town is between strokes waiting for the next big thing, hoping it comes along. The town is like a medium in the middle of her act who been released by one spirit and is waiting to be possessed by the next.

    Right now the big tourist attraction is the Ducks. Ducks are amphibious vehicles. They are about big enough to carry thirty people and you take rides out on the lake. Also big are the scenic drives, though some people do still bring jugs and fill up on mineral water.

    We saw a UPS truck back on the streets, the first we have seen since the strike ended. This is the first strike I can remember where the Teamsters actually had public sympathy. People are just tired of seeing executives get obscene salaries for downsizing. Technology has gone very heavily against labor in recent years. machines can maintain facilities that used to require humans. Increases in productivity due to computers have gone to benefit management in their salaries and corporate value while the workers' position has withered. I think eventually we will see either legal protections or white-collar unions.

    We visited the Golden Leaves Bookstore and discovered it was almost entirely books on New Age thinking: Mysticism, Tarot Reading, Astrology, etc. Why are so few people willing to spend money on real science and so many people willing to spend on goof-ball stuff? Once a theory gets given some good skeptical scrutiny and gets some evidence, it loses its romanticism and people start caring less about it. And besides that is testing by other people. Anybody can get their horoscope and see how it applies to them while few people can test the speed of light for themselves. The way to test an astrologer is to take a horoscope written for you and one for a friend and, without knowing which is which, decide which fits you better. Most people can read just about any horoscope and see pieces in it that seem perceptive about them. The new thing is claimed psychics. They sell feel-good predictions. They never predict anything bad. Back home, very near where I live I psychic and fortune teller had a big lit sign. It was the kind made of glass or plastic with a light inside so it would be illuminated at night. We had a windstorm and the sign was destroyed. A sheet of plywood on either side would have saved it. It wouldn't have been too hard to put up either. The psychic just would have had to know the storm was coming. She didn't know, apparently. Some psychic!

    Back to the room for some writing before dinner. I put on the film Congo. This is a film that got a bad rap. People were expecting another Jurassic Park and what they got was a fun African adventure. At least the African adventure parts of the film are a lot of fun. Once they get to the lost city, it loses something. About that time we turned it off and went to dinner. There is a restaurant called Cajun Boilers. Good food. Unfortunately the crawfish are out of season, but I had a big plate of what they call crab fingers. They are basically the thumbs from crab claws. Evelyn got half boiled shrimp, half crab fingers. That might have been better overall, but the crab fingers were the unusual thing. Also as seasoned boiled seafood, these were fairly healthy dinners. So I felt a little less guilty when I ordered a dessert. I almost never do that. But they had Peanut Butter Pie. Wow! Besides barbecue this was the first Southern gourmet meal we have had. The Southeast and Southwest really have the best cuisines in the country. Northern cuisine has little to compare. And Southeastern cooking probably is better than Southwestern.

    I fell asleep soon after getting back to the room, but woke up several times in the night.

    08/22/97--Hot Springs and Hope, Arkansas; Dallas, Texas:

    We both awoke at about 5 AM. Not so bad when you consider we fell asleep about ten.

    We went to Evelyn and Carol's II, a sort of no-nonsense good-old-boy restaurant for breakfast. We sat at a table, the surface of which was all ads under a plastic veneer. So what happens when some of the businesses close?

    After breakfast we took a couple of scenic drives. Not a lot to see that we did not see on the Blue Ridge. There were some views of the town. I am not sure why we go up to a lookup point and then look at the town with binoculars. If you wanted to see it close up, you didn't have to come up the hill, you were right there. You can take the two scenic routes in a matter of seventy-five minutes.

    Bathhouse Row, our next stop, is one bathhouse after another. Some plain, some fancy. It is an artifact of a nearly gone time when people would take a week's vacation to sweat, steam, bathe, wash, exercise, and be massaged. It is a time that has almost passed. There is only one bathhouse still operating. Hot Springs would have been more at home in Europe where bathes seemed more like what people would do for fun. Actually, it was a time when home bathing facilities were neither common nor comfortable. Medicine was also relatively rudimentary and it was thought that really good bathing could be a particularly effective treatment of some diseases. In any case, they were an aid to relaxation.

    We take the self-guided tour through the Fordyce bathhouse, now a National Park. In addition to the tubs there were odd pre-World War I cutting edge therapies like electrical baths, hot and cold baths, high-powered douches, and weird gymnastic equipment. The whole process is little more than snake oil as far as I am concerned, but people thought it was you needed to do in order to be really healthy and beautiful. The local guide had ads that tell much of the story how general they claimed their cure was. "Cutter's Guide can be obtained free by patrons…You will confer a favor on your sick friend if you mail or take him a copy of this publication." They did not try to limit what they would claim the waters would help. It is not surprising that as an industry it is dying and the town is dying to replace it.

    We headed southwest on Route 30 for Hope, birthplace of Bill Clinton and home of the state capital during the Civil War. This is the first day of bad weather. While we were in the bathhouse the rain started. At times it fell fairly hard.

    Not surprisingly, Bill Clinton is popular in Hot Springs and Hope. At Hope we went to the Hope Visitors Center. There does not seem to be a whole lot that they have to say about themselves that does not involve the birth of William J. Blair in their town. Blair never knew his father who died before his birth. Blair lived a hard life as a child in poverty. His mother married a man who was an alcoholic who abused her. At some point young Billy Blair decided to officially take his father's name so changed his name to William J. Clinton.

    They have a tape about Billy Clinton's boyhood. After that we drove around to see the major sites of Hope, including where Bill Clinton was born and another home where they lived. And there was his school. And there were a couple other points of interest from his past. All this time it was raining. To this point we had had mostly dry weather and my turns to drive had coincided with dry weather. My luck ran out as the sky really opened up as I was driving to Dallas. We had low visibility, other cars flooding out windshield.

    The speed limit was 70 and I was trying to drive that because that was what the other cars were doing. It was not easy. Of course, we were covering so much territory that eventually we ran out of clouds and I was driving in Texas in nice weather. The day was very pleasant, the countryside nice, and I was enjoying driving. Evelyn had chosen a cassette to play, and it was one I was saving for a special occasion. It was Jerome Moross's score for the film The Warlord. Just listing to the music and driving, I was enjoying myself.

    I read a story about someone who was given the gift of being able to choose one instant of time and to live that instant for all eternity. He would not grow tired of the instant unless he was already tired of it in the instant. He went through his whole life never choosing the instant because it is human nature to always want something more. You are always looking forward to some better instant to come. It occurred to me as I was driving that the story got it wrong. I may well have better instants to come, but that would not matter to me. If I chose one happy instant, that is sufficient. I think I would have chosen an instant during this trip. And even while it was going on I knew I would choose one of those instants. The story simply got it wrong. People really do have instants of time they would choose to live forever.

    Of course, once I got to Dallas and got stuck in traffic jams, all bets were off. Newt Gingrich was in France with his parents in the 1960s and was amazed to see buildings still wrecked from the war that had not been repaired yet. This shocked him because World War II had been two decades before. But what really shocked him was when he found out it was damage from World War I. What is wrong with this economy so things take so long to repair? There is another side to the coin. Everywhere we go things are under construction or restoration. We have been in more traffic jams. I wonder if it wouldn't be better to let some things go a little longer.

    We got to the Motel 6 we had picked out and told them what we wanted in a room. They had one left in non-smoking. But when we got to the room, it had not been made up. We had to give them back the key so they could make up the room while we were gone.It was now about four and the first order of business was dinner. We had skipped lunch and were hungry.

    Mexican sounded like a good idea. We looked around and were thinking of going to one when we saw a another Pho, a Vietnamese soup restaurant. They must be some kind of chain in the South, though they did have the look of having been stamped from a cookie cutter the way McDonalds do. We each got soup with beef and noodles. Evelyn's had meatballs, mine had meat slices.

    Now we had a choice of two science fiction films. Event Horizon had opened the previous week and look to be exciting from the ad. Mimic had just opened and was based on a story by Donald

    A. Wollheim, at one time one of the established science fiction writers. We were leaning toward Mimic until I saw that it involved giant cockroaches in the New York subway system. Probably it was on the level of Deadly Eyes. The latter was a Canadian film about rats who were eating growth hormone and were living in the Toronto subways. The filmmakers had to find an animal that had a stature much like a rat with a two-foot-long body. What they got was the right shape but the wrong animal. It is really hard to be frightened of even a dozen dachshunds in rat suits. There is something about how a dachshund walks that makes it obvious it is a dachshund. Just the images of dozens of dachshunds chasing a screaming actor turned this film into a cult classic.

    Anyway, we chose Event Horizon as sounding like the better film. We went to the theater, got tickets, but since the film would not start for almost two hours we went to a Jack in the Box and worked on our logs. I got a chocolate milkshake because I was thirsty and we wrote in our logs. (Unsolicited testimonial: I am not a big fan of Jack in the Box which I kid by saying it is Purina People Chow. It is or was at one time owned by Ralston Purina. They make a big thing that their shakes are made with ice cream.

    Anyway, I did a double-take on the shake, like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. That was one heck of a good milkshake. I guess most hamburger places use gelatin. An ice cream milkshake is a whole different animal. It tastes like a real fountain milkshake.)

    We worked on our logs and I made funny faces for a two-year-old Latina girl in the next booth. At thirty minutes before the movie we headed out.

    We got to the movie a little early and talked to some teenagers in the theater. One of them even called me "sir," which stung for a second, but I got over it. I was impressed that they were fairly savvy about film. What I found as strange is they chose to sit right behind us in an empty theater. They didn't want to sit anywhere in front of us for fear of being in our way. They told us that Mimic was actually getting good reviews and knew what Siskel and Ebert had rated it. Is it possible that you get a more intelligent class of teens in Texas than in New Jersey? Friendly, polite, and knowledgeable is a hard combination to beat. What is not hard to beat is the film Event Horizon.

    Capsule: A good cast, good special effects, and an intriguing title all go to make a really exciting-looking coming attraction. The film itself has nearly nothing of value that was not in the trailer. This is not so much set in the universe of modern physics as in Clive Barker's horror universe. This film is a loser. Rating: -1 (-4 to +4) 3 (0 to 10)

    New York Critics: 2 positive, 2 negative, 7 mixed

    I have heard it observed that any film that starts out with an aerial view of a city is not a film worth seeing. That may be helpful on cable, but not for films in a movie theater. I guess I would claim that any film whose publicity uses the word "terror" is a film well worth avoiding. I saw a coming attraction for Event Horizon and thought that it looked pretty good. I looked up some information about this interesting looking film on the web and saw the word "terror" in the ad. I realized it had to be a bad film and I knew that only on the basis of seeing that one word. Psycho is one film that could be said to produce terror, but the ads did not use the word. Hitchcock never claimed to be a master of terror, William Castle made that claim. As a rule of thumb, if you are terrified by a William Castle film you should wait five or six years until you hit puberty and try it again.

    Event Horizon is essentially a haunted house film in space that rather artfully uses scenes and touches from a lot of different films to tell a new story. There is a lot of Alien and a lot of Hellraiser with bits of The Haunting, Forbidden Planet, 2001, Star Trek VI, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, This Island Earth, and probably others I missed.

    These days too many films tend to have a great look but not very much content. It is the music video aesthetic. This is a film with great visual images, but the plot is really basically the haunted house film in space. The film shovels images at the viewer so fast that it is difficult to interpret just what has been seen, and really it may not matter. When you find out what is really going on, it is a real letdown. This has to be one of the least intriguing concepts possible for a film. I will not give it away, but this is more a Clive Barker sort of horror film in a science fiction setting than it is a science fiction film. The title is the most intriguing thing about the film, but "Event Horizon" is just the name of a spacecraft, and there is no internal evidence that anyone involved in the production knew even what the term meant.

    This film is really a good cast wasted. Sam Neill and Laurence Fishburne are, of course, major actors. I suspect they will take the money and run. But what makes the casting particularly unusual is the inclusion of Kathleen Quinlin of I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. She is an actress who always added a certain fragility to her roles. She is sort of the anti-Bette-Davis. Here that quality is not just ignored, it is plastered over and she is nearly unrecognizable. She is cast against type and brings nothing special that is usable to her role.

    This is a film that needed a writer with vision, but instead had one with a high concept. I would rate this letdown a -1 on the -4 to +4 scale.

    The film being over we just had to get gas. We were both dehydrated from the day. On the very nozzle of the gas pump was an ad that said a 64-ounce drink for 99 cents at their indoor fountain. Well, we were both still thirsty and it sounded good. I guess we fall prey to the American propensity for getting what ounce-by-ounce is a good deal. Well the drink we decided on was Pepsi and they were out of 64-ounce cups, we got 44 ounces and paid the 99 cents plus tax. We got 44 ounces of Pepsi-Cola. I think I am glad we didn't get the 64. Do you have any idea what drinking even 44 ounces means? That is 44 ounces of liquid speed. Who drinks 64 ounces of Pepsi? That will kill you. I think if you get 64 ounces, the idea is you stick a spigot in the bottom and serve it to a road crew. 64 ounces is only eight ounces short of a six-pack. As it was I probably drank two cans worth of liquid uppers. I was falling asleep on the movie, but it probably was a good thing. That may be the last rest I get.

    08/23/97--Dallas, Texas: Museums:

    I awoke to at about 6 AM to the realization that our room had been invaded by Tinkerbell. There was a light spot that would flash on the walls every few seconds. It was above the TV but seemed to float around on the wall. Sometimes higher, sometimes lower. And it was bright in the darkened room. I looked at it for a little while trying to understand what I was seeing. What was coming in from the window at a strange angle? Was it something fixed on the wall and was its apparent movement an effect of the darkened room? After about five minutes I put on my glasses and saw it was really two lights a few inches apart that floated around the wall. Finally I reached for my flashlight. It was a smoke detector with one light. When it appeared to be two lights, it was just my eyes being unable to bring the two images they were seeing to a single image. I should have thought of that and tried closing one eye. But the eye does funny things when starved of information in a darkened room.

    Breakfast was at Grandy's, a chain that I remembered from years ago had good cinnamon rolls. I don't know if I thought they were good, but they sure were big. If we go again, we will get one and share it. Two is too much.

    Since Memphis I think we are out of the Bible Belt. We are still seeing religious people but is not as fervent as it seemed in Virginia and parts of Tennessee.

    It is a fair drive out to the Silent Wings Museum in Terrell. The museum is an adjunct to a small municipal airport. It is a museum dedicated to one single kind of plane, the Waco CG-4A. During World War II when you had too much to drop from the air to use a parachute, what you would use would be a glider. These things had a ten-to-one glide ratio. This means they weren't in the air for very long once you let them go. They are sort of elevators to the ground. They were used on about eight missions including Normandy, Southern France, Market Garden (Holland as in A Bridge Too Far), The Battle of the Bulge, the Rhine River crossing, and Luzon in the Philippines. Always to drop things behind enemy lines.

    They showed a short film on the gliders. A plane could tow two of them. I had a question. How did a plane tow two of them without them getting tangled? Well, one tow rope is a lot longer than the other. I figured that. How do you keep the plane on the short tow rope from getting tangled in the other plane's tow rope? Well, you fly so the plane on the short tow rope doesn't get tangled in the other plane's tow rope. Oh, okay. Second question: If you pilot a glider once you are done you are on the ground behind enemy lines and your ride has just been grounded. How are you expected to get back to your own lines, I asked. You go back to your own lines. On foot? Unless you can get a ride.

    They didn't actually know of any glider pilots getting killed getting back home. I'm actually a little surprised since it sounds dangerous.

    They have a hangar-like building with a completely restored CG-A4, some war dioramas, handguns, plane models, photos, uniforms, the works.

    From there we went to the Frontiers of Flight Museum out at the local airport Love Field. This is a museum in one large room chronicling the history of air flight. It is broken into ten sub-exhibits: Early Concepts of Flight, World War I, The Golden Age of Air Exploration, The Airship, Women in Aviation, World War II, The Jet Era, Air Transport, Business Aviation, and Space Exploration.

    The exhibit on the Hindenberg talks about how it is still a mystery what happened and why the famous Zeppelin caught fire and exploded. Was it an accident? Was it sabotage by the Americans? Was it sabotaged by the Germans? Let me give you my theory. It is against the law to smoke in a movie theater where I live. And people generally comply for fear of getting involved in an incident and perhaps being thrown out. When the movie is over they line up to get out the exits and you frequently see one or two people light up. They figure they can't be thrown out because they are leaving anyway. Okay, there is some little chance of a fire, but how likely is that? Why would the attitude be any different with airship passengers? The crew of the Hindenberg was probably pretty well trained. You had to be pretty smart to serve on the Hindenberg. To be a passenger you only had to have money. You did not have to be smart. I think some jerk lit a cigarette as he was leaving and kaboom!

    But they had all sorts of interesting artifacts. From the airship days they had ice cream and chocolate molds to make treats in the shape of airships. And there were descriptions of stunt pilots. I like dogs so I was interested to read the history of Black Dog, a sort of mascot to flight mechanics. There were models of interesting planes. The later stuff on passenger and business flight was not as interesting, but we all want to fly, I think. Okay, wacky theory time again. Why do we all get into flying one way or another? If we don't actually fly we get fascinated with birds or kites or paper airplanes. Perhaps not everybody, but a lot of people feel it would be natural to glide on our own. Most of our impulses are to stay away from snakes and spiders and dangerous things. But it somehow would seem natural to us and not scary to fly. We dream about flying. Can it be that at one time in our evolution we did fly? After a fashion.

    We are the only primate that does not have fur. We are the most intelligent primate. Mammals without fur tend to be dolphins, whales, and other aquatic beasties. There are those, I think Desmond Morris is one, who think that we were aquatic apes at one time. It would explain a lot about us. But what does this have to do with flying? Ask a dolphin. Dolphins don't walk around on the bottom of the sea. A dolphin glides by line of sight. Dreams of flight are just dreams of living in a denser medium that supports out weight. An aquatic ape might well find flight in its own medium perfectly natural. But that leaves a question of why would we still want to fly. If we ever were aquatic apes, we sure are not now. Well there are apparently behaviors that are linked to genes. I recently saw a documentary on dog behavior that said that if you want to punish a Border Collie you don't give him any sheep to herd. Retrievers one and all think that it is the greatest thing in the world to run and get something that has fallen from the sky and bring it to the master. Sled dogs have an innate urge to pull. They will be frustrated and somehow not feel whole if they are not pulling something. An aquatic ape will adapt to land, but will still feel the urge to glide effortlessly. When we dream of flying, we are really dreaming of gliding underwater.

    The Biblical Arts Center is devoted just to religious art. Entrance to the museum itself is free. The museum is a bit of a disappointment. I would contend that the Biblical art in the Mormon Tabernacle Visitor's Center in Salt Lake City is more of interest. Most of what they had was a special exhibit on calligraphy. There was what would have been a nice piece, a picture of a Rabbi in front of a Hebrew prayer. The artist, however, seemed to have one Hebrew letter consistently painted in mirror image. You really can see everything they have in about ten or fifteen minutes. The centerpiece is a big mockup of Jesus's burial cave with the stone in front. The most interesting thing is a chair imported from China made of a sort of ground stone. Nice dragons. You can get moldings of the same materials in most Chinatowns.

    Well we still had some time so we decided to hit The Sixth Floor. Most places that would not have a lot of meaning. In Dallas "The Sixth Floor" is a phrase they have heard a lot. It is the sixth floor of the schoolbook depository. Lee Harvey Oswald made it famous. As a museum, The Sixth Floor has a lot of the same problems that the Civil Rights Museum had. It is short on articles and long on description. It basically gives a history of Kennedy's election, his time in office, his assassination and the investigation. It did have newsreel footage, but the only real artifacts that come to mind are cameras that took some of the pictures that were used in the investigation. Of course, you can stand and look out the window. I have heard it claimed it was a remarkable shot, but from the window it does not seem that great a distance. You cannot see the line of the bullets directly because trees have grown in. As I was looking out the window a woman with a scowl said to me "Oswald didn't do it either." Well the exhibit does not take sides on that issue. It talks about the possible theories and the history of the investigation.

    For the tour I got the audio tour with the tape. It is a little better. Of course, the batteries were dying. Did I ever tell you about Luck of Leeper?

    After we walk over to the Grassy Knoll. It is just a little bank of grass. There are two or three stands selling booklets on the assassination. I am sure they say that Oswald did not do it alone or perhaps not at all.

    On the way back to the motel, Evelyn asks me what I think. Well, it seems obvious that Oswald fired at least some of the shots. We may be able to prove at some time that someone else was involved. It will never be possible to prove he acted alone. You might conceivably prove that Elvis is alive, but you can never conclusively prove he is dead. You could conclusively prove the government is hiding a flying saucer, you can never prove that they aren't. If a statement is non-falsifiable, assume it is false until you get reasonable evidence it is true. Keep an open mind. I am willing to be convinced otherwise, but for the time being I assume Oswald acted alone.

    For dinner we did barbecue at a place near our motel called Dickey's. Good, but we did a number on ourselves. We are getting too old to eat huge meals.

    We has planned to go to see Mimic after dinner, but decided we were too tired. Our room had HBO and we decided to take pot luck on the evening's entertainment. We lost. It was House Arrest, which neither of us wanted to see. We worked on our logs and took turns sleeping.

    Hey, score one for inventiveness. As we stop at various motels we get all sorts of different room keys. Some are standard keys, some are plastic cards, some are little plastic doohickeys. I would like to hang the keys from my key chain but some don't even have a hole. So what do I do? I take a bulldog clip and hang that on my key ring. Then whatever kind of a key I get I clip it with the bulldog clip. It is the fastest way to put it in place and a bulldog clip clips any sort of key I get.

    08/24/97--Fort Worth, Texas: Museums:

    Boy, if I thought I woke up to Tinkerbell yesterday, I really woke up to it today. The whole room was flashing. It was sort of like the instant that lightning strikes. Then it goes away for an instant and repeats. What the heck is going on? It was coming from outside. It turned out to be a Medical Intensive Care Unit parked just outside our room. I wonder what it will be tomorrow.

    Well we got up, and ate at Grandy's again. Right now we are sitting in a laundromat. I explored the shopping center waiting for the clothes. It seems mostly Chicano but most of the signage is in English and Korean. There is probably a big Korean population in this area.

    One of the Chicano guys here doing a wash asked about the palmtop. I told him about it and all the things I do. I wonder what are the chances he would ever get one. A kid over at one side is sitting in a clothes basket. He has a videocassette of Mask. He has taken the cassette out and is banging it on the floor of the basket. I think he works in the video store I rent from up north.

    Back to the room to drop off the laundry. Then we head to Fort Worth. There are some unusual looking buildings in Dallas. I guess I am used to dull New York architecture. I have to say that architecture in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is unusual with several very distinctive buildings.

    It is an hour's drive to Fort Worth and the Kimball Art Museum. The place is packed in a way that you very rarely see art museums. They have a special exhibit on Monet. Evelyn at first wants to go but it is $10 and has a very long slow queue to get tickets. We decide just to see the main part of the museum. Among the first pieces is a Picasso, "The Bird Cage. " Colorful but not too communicative. Parmigianino does a Madonna and Child. "A Franciscan Friar" by Jacopo Bassano certainly has an interesting face. Most of this is religious art and is probably what we missed in the museum yesterday. I am not sure what this gallery represents and what the pieces have in common. It is a sort of realistic style. "The Cheat with the Ace of Clubs" is certainly not on a religious theme. There is vanity and gluttony in the eyes of Guercino's "Portrait of a Lawyer." A Rembrandt shows "Portrait of a Young Jew." But it is only labeled this because of the skullcap. A Rubens shows "The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula and the 11,000 Maidens." Another shows "The Duke of Buckingham." A Holbein shows "Sir Thomas Le Strange of Hunstanton." A Monet shows "A Weeping Willow." A Matisse shows "L'Asie." This is quite a collection for just the first hall. Gauguin shows "Two Women" and a dog. Cezanne has "A Man in a Blue Smock." More Cezanne and Monet. And the people seem to be really into it. I hear a woman at the side asking her family "Do I know my Picassos or what?" A Goya shows "The Matador Pedro Romero." All told, very impressive. On the lower level we see Asian art. Jars, vases, and rolled landscape hangings. But that's all there is except for the Monet exhibit. Not a big museum but what they have is cherce. It is just masterpieces. My guess is that I have not seen an art museum with a higher average value for the pieces in their collection. Evelyn thinks the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam may have a higher average.

    On the way out we are listening to the people behind us. "I used to tell him, 'We have to go see this movie. It has been getting great reviews.' He'd say 'Is it subtitled? Because you know the rules. If it is subtitled it has to have nudity.'" Sounds sensible to me.

    Next the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. The strategy of this museum may be much like the last one, giving not very much, but what is there is what people really want to see.

    As you enter the museum you pass an Acrocanthsaurus reconstruction. It is clear that dinosaurs are a big draw in museums. I think Steven Spielberg helped to show that when any science museum that had any sort of a dinosaur exhibit got assistance in playing it up to help promote the film. I think a lot of museums discovered that was what was really drawing people in the first place. I know when I would go to the American Museum of Natural History, that was where I would go first. And they did not even have a very good exhibit. But a bad dinosaur exhibit does more for the imagination than a good exhibit of Amazon beetles. These days science museums really don't dare not have elaborate dinosaur exhibits. Kids today know rock bands and dinosaur species. Paleontology of the Mesozoic is the one field of science that is really healthy.

    The first exhibit is dinosaurs found in Texas, starting with a Tenontosaurus, a dinosaur first found in this area, discovered by a boy then seven years old. They make a big thing about how other kids should look for dinosaurs. The exhibit, Lone Star Dinosaurs, makes good use of a limited number of specimens. It is one of a number of museums that let computers do much of the teaching. One quizzes the visitor on a large number of dinosaurs. From a description you had to find the dinosaur from a choice of about forty.History is the subject of the next section. I have to say the Museum of Science and History does not have a whole lot of history, but they had a bit of history that would be of some interest. They have pre-Columbian sculpture including terra cotta statues. They have some interesting approaches. They will look at one theme across cultures. For example an exhibit on containers includes canteens, a mahjong box, a Masai gourd for blood-milk, a sheath for a kris, and several other containers of various types. The problem is that it cannot do much justice to the subject because the subject is so broad. A similar case has various protections from unknown including amulets, shaman artifacts and a bottle of gin.

    They have a series of computers running commercial software to play with, but there is not much in the way of instruction or help. I flailed with SimCity for a while, but did not get far. Evelyn got hold of a computer running Internet Explorer and looked up reviews of Mimic. It looks to be okay. Perhaps not great.

    They had an exhibit on "supersenses" of animals. I guess they consider a supersense to be any sense an animal has that we do not or that we have, but not to as great a degree. I guess while we detect red, yellow, and blue, birds detect five colors. This makes them much more sensitive to subtleties of color. Do they see fundamentally different from what we see? Well, probably they do in the way we would see more subtleties of color than someone who is colorblind. So what are they seeing that we are not? Probably nothing we can understand. Try explaining what we see to someone who is colorblind. Snakes see heat from an animal in their visible range. A snake will see the heat coming off from an animal in what would to us be total darkness. Spiders, they claim, actually count the legs of other animals. Sharks feel small changes in magnetic fields.

    Following that was an exhibit on the history of medicine and the human body. In the middle was an Exploratorium style hands-on room called Kidspace, but having material of interest to adults also.

    We finished off with a demonstration of acoustic science. This was okay, but had little that was unusual or unexpected. The woman giving it looked like a college student and the presentation had few effects that I had not seen in high school physics.

    We drove back to Dallas and had dinner at a place called Benavides. We had had Mexican only once. It is my theory that you cannot get good Mexican food in any state that does not have a Hispanic name. Well, now we are in Texas and I think we can get the good stuff. I got a chicken fajita. Evelyn got an enchilada and a tamale. I think I might be the only person in my family (well the one I was born into) who likes Mexican food. Luckily Evelyn likes it. I came out so stuffed I was uncomfortable well into the movie. I used to have a much greater capacity. I wonder if my stomach has gotten smaller?

    After dinner we went to see Mimic.

    Capsule: Guillermo del Toro needed a better story, but his visual style and his offbeat direction make this a horror film that gets the viewer where he lives. This is certainly the scariest giant insect film I remember ever seeing. Mutated six-foot (and six-footed) insects live in the depths of the New York Subway System. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) 7 (0 to 10) There is a small spoiler following the review as I discuss a premise point.

    New York Critics: 7 positive, 4 negative, 8 mixed

    Guillermo del Toro was an unknown new director in 1994 when his Cronos played the arthouse circuit. It turned out to be a fresh and arresting take on the vampire film. Mexican horror film to that point had a reputation for shoddy production values. Del Toro brought a fascinating no-holds-barred morbidity to his work that made the film rich and memorable. He is back with his second film and he proves to be just about the only filmmaker in the world who could have pulled off a giant insects in the subway plot and turn it into a film worth watching.

    Three years ago a deadly disease carried by cockroaches was killing and crippling children. The approach to kill all the cockroaches was to create a sterile cross between a praying mantis, a termite, and a cockroach that would kill off cockroaches and then die off itself. Dr. Susan Kyle (Mira Sorvino) was the entomologist who created the new insect. The approach seemed to work perfectly, but now Kyle is seeing signs of a new insect in the subway tunnels that could be more dangerous than the original disease. But there is something else going on. Strangers seem to be running around the city furthering the ends of the insects. They are shady characters who seem to inhabit the dark corners of the city. And they have a special interest in Dr. Kyle.

    This is an odd role for Academy Award-winning Sorvino. At base this is an overly familiar story. Science has created a monster and now a few people have to fight it. Sorvino could certainly have chosen a film with a more original and less cable-fare-like plot had she wanted. But in this second film del Toro shows us exactly what his strengths and weaknesses as a filmmaker will be. He does not have really original plot ideas. Here he takes a short story by classic science fiction writer Donald A. Wollheim, but still turns it into a familiar plot. But the only film with a comparable style is his Cronos. He has a marvelous way of keeping secret that this will be a story that has been done before. His telling is atmospheric and not quite linear. He creates perhaps too many characters, certainly at the beginning, but the major characters are fairly unique. Most interesting is a small boy who may be a genius and who may be retarded, but we are never sure which. del Toro has carefully distorted color to heighten the ominous atmosphere. He plays with light and darkness preferring the latter. If the obvious is inevitable, at least del Toro keeps it at bay for a good long time.

    If del Toro's work is to be compared to any other filmmaker, I would choose film producer Val Lewton. He makes terrific atmospheric B-pictures that are better than most of the A-pictures around. Both take the familiar and imbue it with a sense of real dread. I would give this second effort a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale.


    The whole premise behind the title sounds like one that would come from Donald A. Wollheim, but it is faulty. It is true that insects and other creatures with a short generation time mimic their predators. But this is only with frequent contact with the predators. It is not a mystical process, but natural selection, a form of evolution. We would have had to been killing off a lot of six-foot insects in the subways before by chance some would look like humans and that would render them some protection. There is a lake in Japan where the crabs have backs that look like masks of humans. After a great battle was fought on the lake fishermen who pulled crabs from the lake would throw back the ones whose back look vaguely like human faces, thinking them to contain the souls of those killed in the battle. Over hundreds of years the only crabs that were safe were those that had really good renderings of masks. A species whose predator did not constantly select for resembling itself would not come to resemble its predator.

    Back in the room I worked on my review.

    08/25/97--Austin, Johnson City, and San Antonio, Texas:

    We had eaten twice at Grandy's so went instead to House of Pancakes. Service was slow, things were overpriced, the toast came dry and we had to ask for butter, and there was some guy in the kitchen repeatedly sneezing not so much on the decibel scale as on the Richter scale.

    There are billboards up advertising churches like House of Faith. Another popular billboard says "Who's the father? 1-800-DNA-TEST"

    The local radio station is having a discussion of a petition to the Pope to declare Mary as a co-Redeemer with Jesus. It sounds like having the kindergarten class vote on whether the class hamster is a male or a female. Part of the argument seems to center around the claim that Mary was an advocate of female equality. That's what they say. I would claim that even that clouds her real message that the Statue of Liberty should belong to New Jersey.

    When we no longer can get a good radio station we put a Max Brand story on the cassette player. There were billboards for Natural Bridge Caverns that shows a dinosaur head sticking over the billboard. Now dinosaurs don't have a lot to do with caverns, but this interest in dinosaurs borders on mania. Anything old wants to tie itself in. It is the only science that attracts kids. I am surprised at how many caverns we see in this part of the country. Also a lot of pawn shops. We don't see many pawn shops on major highways back at home. Here they seem to be in chains. I am not sure how you make a chain of pawnshops pay. You have to have a good way of disposing of all the merchandise. But they seem to have a way of doing it.

    Well, we are in Austin, Texas (which I pronounce "ostentatious"). The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library is our stop. I have to admit having wondered what a Presidential Library was. My brother-in-law (Evelyn's brother) apparently is trying to visit all of them. I wondered if you go in and look through the shelves. If this one is typical, you are only in the same building as the library. Really what we saw was essentially a museum of Lyndon and to a lesser extent Lady Bird Johnson. Completed in 1971, this building is one of nine Presidential libraries. And it is the only free-admission Presidential library. LBJ used the building the last two years of his life. He would helicopter onto the roof and go to work in a replica of the Oval Office built on the top of eight floors. That office is supposed to be open to the public but due to current construction it is closed.

    The first floor is a museum on the life and times of Johnson. He was born in a tiny house and he was delivered by a midwife. He ran to school before the adults thought he was ready and had to be sent home. When he did it a second time they acquiesced. In spite of this, he was not all that successful a student. He became a roadworker and eventually a teacher, teaching Mexican immigrants. From there he got involved in state politics and then went to Washington and was involved in Federal politics. They take his through his Presidency. They talk about his civil rights record. During his Presidency was the Gulf of Tonkin non-incident, which they still present as an incident that really occurred. Of course, then he got involved in the Vietnam escalations which took a tremendous toll on him. If he withdrew people would be killed, if he escalated people would be killed. The real engineer of Vietnam was assassinated without letting his successor know his plan. My personal opinion was that by sanctioning the Bay of Pigs

    Invasion and by putting nuclear missiles in Turkey near the Soviet border, Kennedy came really near to sparking a nuclear war. Nikita Krushchev was a lousy leader who in this one incident was frightened into being a world-class diplomat. Kennedy was also responsible for the Vietnam War. Nobody seems to blame him.

    LBJ was the last President to have a balanced budget. Lady Bird wanted a highway beautification act. He didn't say anything about it; he just one day brought together his cabinet and told them to do it... today. And they did.

    At the end of the exhibit was a tape of news images from the 1960s, particularly those relevant to Johnson. They ended with Johnson leaving office in January, 1969.

    The second floor had a collection of campaign materials through the years. Some were quite funny. For some election there were cards proclaiming someone to be the next President, spin the card around and it claims his opponent is the next President. There is a variation in a famous Sam Lloyd puzzle. It has a certain number of lions and a certain number of black men. Turn the disk and there is one less black man and one more lion. This was part of an ad for Teddy Roosevelt's campaign. Also on this floor is a collection of gifts to LBJ from citizens and a collection of gifts from foreign dignitaries. Finally there is an exhibit of Johnson's sense of humor. This is a seven-minute tape of Johnson telling jokes.

    On the way out we hit the souvenir and gift shop.

    When we were first married and were poor, Evelyn and I each had budgets. If Evelyn bought a tool or I bought groceries we settled up accounts later. Eventually we decided that this was foolish and neither of us was going to loosely spend. However, people who are with us in bookstores could be fooled into thinking we still have separate budgets. I had some interest in a book on Presidential anecdotes. The book cost $14. I will ask Evelyn if she has $5 worth of interest, I don't have $14 worth but I do have $9 worth. yes, $5 worth she has. Okay, then we should get the book. It is just a measure of interest to see if our total interest sums to the price of the book. I don't know why, but I was raised to be thrifty. I have a hard time justifying spending money on myself. I have no children to pass what I have on to. I should learn to spend on myself so my money does not end up in an estate for nobody, but the first question I ask myself is it worth the price and then can I get along without it and am I sure I will use it. "Do I want it?" is a low-priority question.

    It is a longer drive than I had realized to Johnson City. My guess is that it is not named for Johnson himself. I think it was called Johnson City even when Johnson was a young man, so it was not named for LBJ.

    Even here they have an adopt-a-mile-of-highway program. Ever notice that adopted highway is no cleaner than any other highway?

    We got to Johnson City and found that the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park is in two pieces. Part is in Johnson City and part out at the LBJ Ranch. We drive to the ranch and buy places on the 4 PM tour. The guy sitting behind me on the bus is wearing a T-shirt showing a French stamp honoring a mathematician. The wearer is a mathematician also. I bore him with my research. He works at the University of Cork, Ireland. His name is Finnbar Holland.

    On the tour we see the Junction School where he learned his first lessons and where many different grades were taught in the same room at the same time. We see the reconstruction of the house he was born in. It is a very tiny and Spartan affair. We see the Family Cemetery where he is buried. Further down the road is the Johnson Ranch House (a.k.a. the Texas White House). As the Ranch is still operating we drive out to see the Show Barn. On the way we see bison, gazelle as well as some more prosaic animals. The tour goes surprisingly quickly.

    That is it for Johnson City. We are not a long way to San Antonio and we want to make that and get set up before dinner. From the AAA Book we pick a motel, the Coachman Inn which supposedly has a pretty good guaranteed rate. Actually when we get there we are charged about $10 per night more than AAA said. Well, they just recently raised their rates. Supposedly they have agreed not to do that and AAA will refund the difference and then take up the problem with the motel. We register with a woman with a big sequin pin that says "Jesus." She seems affable enough. We ask her where is good to eat. "Depends what you're hungry for." We ask about Tex-Mex and she suggests a new place down the road.

    We set up in the room. It looks a little like a dormitory, but the room is comfortable and has both a fridge and a microwave. We headed out for dinner and found the taqueria recommended at the hotel. I order an enchilada and taco plate and a large lemonade. They bring to the table a server of jalapenos, pico de gallo, and salsa picante to season the dinner. I am thirsty and about half of my lemonade goes in the first three or four minutes. The waiter sees it is down and asks, "Mas?" "Si." He brings out a big pitcher and refills my glass. As he walked away I take a sip. He had filled the half-empty glass with water, diluting the lemonade. Blech! He comes around with his water pitcher again in a few minutes asking if either I want more in my lemonade glass or Evelyn wants more water in her iced tea. "No, gracias."

    Evelyn's meal was huge and she asks to have it wrapped. We have a fridge and microwave in the room. I should have eaten more slowly and had half wrapped. I should not eat so much. As I leave I notice they have an electric sign in their parking lot. I can tell this because they have an extension cord running from the building to the sign. Never seen that before.

    After a quick stop at an auto store for a cup hanger we returned to the room. We put some things in the room fridge, but it does not seem to have much cooling power. Showtime had the new production of Twelve Angry Men and we watched a few minutes, but I figured we wanted to wait until we could see it from the beginning. They seem to be trying to follow the script of the film fairly exactly and I was playing the game of trying to remember which actors correspond to which actors in the original. It is a shame they had to remake it. I guess nobody would want to see the old black-and-white film. But at least they are doing it respectfully. What is interesting is they have a black guy in the Ed Begley role. It is a good sign that blacks can start playing some negative roles. For a long time blacks have only been able to play good guys. The meatiest roles are villains or at least disreputable people. I remember seeing the trailer for Crimson Tide with Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington. It is about a conflict on a nuclear submarine. I knew immediately the best role would be the villain and there wasn't a chance in the world it would go to Washington. This is a stupid piece of protectionism that hurts good black actors. Well, I wanted to see the film when I could see the whole thing so instead I put on Looking for Bobby Fischer. When it is over, Showtime is following up their remake with the original Twelve Angry Men. Great film. These days I find the film a little contrived, but it is still a classic. Back when we were first married it was on TV and Evelyn had never heard of it. Evelyn wanted to see something on opposite it. I told her the plot and she laughed at it thinking it sounded like cliched melodrama. I said watch the first half then when her program came on we'd switch over. Come the half time she was hooked. She has seen it several times since then and still loves the film. And the film still plays as well today as it did forty years ago, so maybe remaking it was not a bad idea if more people will watch it..

    08/26/97--San Antonio, Texas: Museums:

    I think my digestion is not what it once was. Mexican food, as much as I like it, I probably have to make sure I am done with by 6 PM. There is just too much on that plate. I might be better just avoiding restaurant Mexican. There is an awful lot of fat in that meal. And a lot in me.

    There was coffee and doughnuts in the lobby. The first stop is Hangar 9 at Brooks Air Force Base. No aliens but a display of military medicine. The gate guard had to be sure we had a driver's license and insurance before letting us on the base.

    There is a plaque to commemorate Edward H. White, local boy, first American to walk in space, died in capsule fire.

    They have a Jenny for training pilots in World War I, and an ambulance from the same period, The base is named for Sidney Johnson Brooks, Jr., whose contributions seems to be only that he was killed in training to fly. They have little monkey capsules (not for swallowing), flight suits, and simulators. There is enough to stay occupied for forty or fifty minutes.

    From there we went to the Mission San Jose was one of several missions built to solidify Spanish power in Mexico. It was authorized in 1719 and was moved to this location in 1730. It has a large walled courtyard. Toward the end of the 18th century it was secularized and became a fort. Each day the mission bell called the locals to Mass and religious instruction. There was also training in the arts of fighting. To one end is the church at one end at to one side of it the home of the alcalde, sort of like the local mayor, El Queso Grande. (In The Mark of Zorro, Don Diego's father had been the alcalde, but had been replaced by a crueler alcalde.)

    Around the outer edge we saw the Indian quarters. The visitor center has a small but informative museum. By this time it was nearly ten and they were having a film at 10 AM. We decided to stay for it.

    The film starts out with a woman named Maria de la Luz saying that she dreams of the old ways of the mission Indians. Now during this film she admits that the Indians were basically kidnapped to populate the missions. They were forced to adopt a new and strange religion. It seems that being nostalgic for this life style is like a tiger being nostalgic for the zoo. There was nobody named Maria de la Luz and I didn't think the writers had Indian or Hispanic names, though I could be wrong about that The McNay Art Museum is a bequest of Marion Koogler McNay in her home. She married something like five times and her third husband had money. She assembled a good collection of art that is the basis of this museum.

    In the Impressionism room we see Renoir's "Lemon and Cup," "The Serenade," and "Woman with Hat". Cezanne's "Portrait of Henri Gasquet" and "Houses on the Hill". A Pissarro and a Manet. 20th Century art has Kirchner, Vuillard, Van Gogh, Redon, a non-abstract Picasso, Monet's "Water Lilies," a Degas statue of a woman arranging her hair, another two Gauguins, and a Mondrian. Most striking in this room is the Kirchner which uses heavy paint-strokes and bright colors almost in the style of Van Gogh.

    Early 20th Century art includes an Utrillo, a Rousseau with some striking trees, a Modigliani, a more abstract Picasso called "Portrait of Sylvette." There is a Leger, a weird Dubuffet, a Matisse, a Chagall.

    There is a small room of 19th Century of which the most striking is "Heads of Sheep and Rams" by Bonheur. There are some short Rodin sculptures. There is a Herakles pulling back on a bow, his foot up high on a rock apparently to avoid launching himself with his own bow. That one is by Bourdelle. I like neo-classical sculpture. Even if it doesn't always make sense.

    Another room had designs for stagecraft, most far too abstract to ever try to implement. The guards are very friendly but watch us suspiciously as we actually walk near their art. I guess we fit the profile of dangerous people.

    The upstairs seems devoted to photographic art from the collection of Lola Alvarez Bravo. She has a good eye. There are those who don't think photography is art. Interesting question, but it is more than recording reality.

    The other wing upstairs includes some oils including a Diego Rivera. There is a small room of the Medieval and primitive art.

    We note that there is a Leeper Auditorium to honor one of the contributors. It might be a relative of mine. More likely it is someone from the other Leeper family. By rights my family name should be Loebsker, but that sounded too much like "lobster" so the name was changed at the facetious suggestion of one Dr. Leeper who knew a Mr. Loebsker. So an English and Irish family got a Jewish Ukrainian branch they did not know about.

    With the museum done we started to go to a Cajun restaurant. I expressed a wish for something a little more healthy. It is amazing how many seemingly good restaurants serve mostly breads and fats. Bread and fat seems to be the mainstay of just about every restaurant we go to.

    We went to Tomatillas and I ordered Chicken Mole, Evelyn got the Guacamole Enchiladas. Then I gave her half the Mole and she gave me an Enchilada. It did not turn out to be healthy, but it was the most enjoyable meal we have had so far this trip. Evelyn did this to me. I never liked avocado until I knew her. I thought it was just another vegetable, not a fun food. But it's great. Okay, it was not as healthy as I might have hoped, but it was enjoyable. I have to start worrying about my health at some point, but I guess it was not this meal.

    Okay, now this gets a little complicated. It was now about 1:25 PM and our next site was to be the Witte Museum. Admission to the Witte Museum is $5.95, or $11.90 for two people. OK, that is about what we have been paying. But Evelyn had read that Tuesday afternoon only the museum is free from 3 PM to 9 PM. Actually a local company picks up the tab as a public relations gesture. The problem was that we would have to find something to do for an hour and a half. There was a used book store across the street called Half Price Books. I suggested to Evelyn we could save money by killing time in the bookstore.

    Unfortunately it turned out to be a really good used bookstore. It turned out we could kill a lot of time there, but it was expensive, it cost us $38 and change. Of course we got the books, but we still ended up the poorer. But also throw into the balance pan that I found and pointed out to Evelyn a hardback collection by R. A. Lafferty. It is in mint condition, signed and numbered 878/1000. There is at least one dealer whose price for the book is $45. We paid $2. So we still ended up losing money, to the tune of something like $26, but for that we got a pile of books including one that sells for $45. I don't think I can complain much.

    Now the Witte Museum is a museum of science and history. That is the same strange combination I saw in Fort Worth. Now being that is the case, what exhibit would you think has the prime position? When you enter the first room you come to is-you guessed it-the dinosaur room. They have a triceratops and a tyrannosaurus skull. They get people to look at the teeth and figure out the diet. There is a diorama of birds to show their songs.

    There is a computer game that simulates a bird preying on other animals. It has to eat enough to get enough calories and little enough to not wipe out the prey. There is a film about venomous arthropods, always a popular favorite. Then they have the stuffed bison. And there are tapes to introduce the visitor animals of the area. Texas is divided into six ecological regions: plains in the panhandle. Then going west to east: deserts and mountains, hill country, prairies, pineywoods, thornbush, and then in the south dunes and marshes.

    Around the back of the museum are old styles of buildings, including a log cabin. There is also an Exploratorium sort of science museum (again smaller, but hands on) that they have on multiple floors so it is called a tree house. One of the floors give kids access to the worldwide web and computer games.

    Returning to the main building there is an exhibit showing the origins of cowboy life and what the life was actually like, and they compare cowboy life to the myth in movies and TV shows. That was somewhat nostalgic since they showed on video clips of programs I would watch as a five-year-old. I thought this was a better exhibit on the West than Fort Worth had. The second floor had an exhibit on mummies and Ancient Egypt with the oddest exhibit being an opportunity to small the hand of a mummy.

    There was an exhibit on Indians and one video on their "mental technology," a strange term for mysticism.

    A room had a strange exhibit of animal products in furniture showing mostly chairs made of antlers.

    We were a bit tired and it was getting toward 6 PM so we went back to the motel. We discovered that I had the refrigerator in the room turned up too much and it had frozen our soda. Opening a can was an interesting experience. At some point bugs had gotten into some of our snack stuff. I think they were probably still hiding in one of the boxes so I packed each one in a Ziplock bag. Sure enough, in a few minutes there were little bug in the Snackwells Ziplock. Ziplock bags turn out to be surprisingly useful on a trip. Each night I take things out of my pockets and put them in a Ziplock. That makes it a lot harder to leave things around. It is particularly useful if there is no table next to the bed and I have to leave things on the floor. I haven't had to, but some use them as inflatable pillows.

    Because you have to open film canisters to know if the film in them is spent or fresh, I put two Ziplocks in a third. I label one "new," and one "used." it has been too warm to wear undershirts so I have one that I wear at night and took the rest and stuffed them in a Ziplock and put them in the trunk of the car.

    We watched a "Nova" on finding planets around other stars and worked on our logs.

    08/27/97--San Antonio, Texas: Museums and the Alamo:

    This has not been a good trip as far as small maladies. There seems to be a quiet epidemic of conjunctivitis at work. I have gotten it three times this year; I never had it before. The third time was a couple of days before the trip started. So the early parts of the trip I was seeing blurry out of my left eye. That went away, only to be replaced by a cold. Vitamin C, tends to keep colds light for me, but it let me down a bit this time. It still is not a bad cold like I used to get, but it refuses to leave and has become a cough. I first took Vitamin C for a cold twenty-five years ago last night. That turned out to be the first mild cold I could remember having for many years. I used to get a cold each year and it was always a doozy. Twenty-five years ago I was desperate, and Vitamin C seemed to really work for me. It has usually worked since. There seem to be just a few people for whom it works really well and I am one.

    Well, speaking of twenty-five years ago, this is my 25th wedding anniversary. We probably won't do anything special, but I think we will try extra hard to express our love for each other. (not that way! But say, it isn't a bad idea!) We usually do that several times a day anyway. I actually am very systematic about it. I look for different ways to show it. On the 27th of every month I give Evelyn breakfast in bed, though when we travel it is usually in token. Two or three times a month I leave a chocolate on her pillow. I consider it very important to romance her constantly, on a daily basis. I think it has subtle effects on each of our attitudes on a subconscious level.

    One of the women I work with apparently tried to raise Evelyn's consciousness at one point, organizing a group of women to get together and complain about their significant others. (This is an activity that I consider extremely destructive in any case. I would never air a serious complaint about Evelyn in front of other people. There might have been a time when I would, but I am a lot smarter now.)

    "Don't you want things fairer around your house?" Evelyn was asked. "They are fair now." "Well, don't you have to do most of the housework?" "No, Mark does most." "He does? But don't you have to do the ugly jobs like cleaning the toilets?" "Mark does that." "But don't you have to remind him when to do that?" "He has a box of cards on his desk to tell him that." At this point my co-worker gave up on Evelyn as a lost cause.

    A couple of notes. Evelyn has maintained for years I do more housework than she does. It is very nice of her, but not true from my point of view. Just as well we don't resolve this agreement. I have a box on my desk at work with index cards and a divider for each day of the month. I will have cards that say things like "clean sinks" and have in the upper corner a +21. That means when it comes up I add it to my list of things to do and then move the card twenty-one days into the future.

    Anyway, Happy Anniversary to the joy of my life. As we go to historical sites they talk a lot about centuries. Now we know what one is. It is four of what we have had. Tomorrow it will be less than four.The Spanish Governors Palace shows the visitor what the most comfortable house in town was like during the time the Spanish ruled. Much of the decoration used wrought iron. There were three bedroom on the left, In the middle was what was unaccountably called a ballroom. It was something like ten by twenty feet. There were some nice gardens in the back, but overall it must been an uncomfortable way to live by modern standards. But I suppose it must have seemed cool and pleasant at the time. We wandered the house for about half an hour.

    The Fort Sam Houston Medical Department Museum is only vaguely pointed to in the AAA book. It is between two roads. A little wandering and we found it. This museum has such marvels as Milk Sediment Testers and a glass eye. They have a wall with a timeline listing Presidents, Science/Technology, Medicine, Events, Surgeon General, and Army Medical Department Events. They have an army ambulance, little more than a wagon, from 1909. It has a sign that says "Keep off." That sounds like good advice even for 1909.

    They have surgical instruments including saws and how-to pictures from the surgery manual on the best style for amputation.

    I have to check my history. They have a picture called "Evacuation of the Wounded from the Battle of the Little Big Horn." I thought there were none.

    One of the unusual exhibits is "Agnes" a life-sized statue of a nude female. The 45th Surgical Hospital acquired the wood statue somewhere in Souel and it became a treasured mascot. The Army engineers tried to steal her, but the attempt was foiled. The mayor of Souel gave it to the unit in 1954 making it legal rather than loot.

    The museum covers the history of the Army Medical Corps through Desert Storm.

    A little further into the base is the Fort Sam Houston Museum. On display is a percussion pistol from 1842, a Hall carbine from 1836. There is a camel bell from the attempt to use camels in Texas. They proved not suited to the topography and they spooked the horses. They have Civil War guns, and a light cavalry saber. Geronimo was held here and legend says when taken up to a sixty- foot clock-tower he was frightened by the gonging of the clock and jumped sixty feet. Actually the claim is that he would not go near the edge because he was afraid of being pushed. He survived the fall by avoiding it entirely.

    There is a display on moveable boards you leaf through in book fashion telling the story of Teddy Roosevelt and the Spanish American War.

    There is also a fifty-five-minute film about the Spanish-American War and especially the charge up San Juan Hill. We watched the account of San Juan Hill, but the tape was too long to watch the whole thing.

    The display continues into World War I showing uniforms and guns. Again with World War II we have uniforms and guns. Also ration books and bullets. Again they have a panel display of the fort and World War II. Similar displays for Korea, a small one for Vietnam. They have more for Desert Storm than Vietnam.

    Outside the base we were going to go to a Cajun restaurant, but we passed a Thai-Chinese place. We both love Thai food. Actually they seem to have more Chinese than Thai. Their Hot and Sour soup was just okay. Their Thai iced coffee was not as good as at home, but it still was quite tasty. I had something they called Penang Nuan. It was beef in a coconut milk and hot pepper. They made it spicy for me on request. On the way out I traded some Thai with the owner. I exhausted my very limited Thai vocabulary thanking her ("Khap kun krahp"), telling her it was delicious ("Aroy"), and saying good-bye ("La-con").

    From there we went to the Marriott and registered. This was one of the convention hotels for the World Science Fiction Convention. In the elevator on the way up we noticed a bag with a Lucent Technologies card for identification.

    We went to the room, then went to the other hotel to register for the convention. From there it was over to the Alamo. I read bits and pieces about the history on some boards, but it did not all come together until I saw the film at the Alamo Museum.

    Originally the Spanish built the missions to cement their control on the Texas area from the colonizing French who recognized the land was rich. The Spanish thought they could control the indigenous population better if they were Christianized. In 1691, San Antonio had its first mass performed in the area and a mission was established around 1724 which would become the Alamo. In 1778, diseases depopulated the mission. In 1793, the Texas missions started to be secularized and the first was the Alamo. About this time the mission was first called the Alamo or the Cottonwood. (Note that New Mexico has well-known places called The Cottonwoods and Fat Cottonwood, but in Spanish.) In 1835, the Alamo became a Mexican fort. General Martin Perfecto de Cos held the San Antonio region using the Alamo as a fort and the center of his command. The separatists captured region and the Alamo from Cos. Most Anglos in Texas thought that this meant they won the war.

    So what was the separatist revolution all about? Well, Mexico declared independence from Spain in 1821. That was fifteen years earlier. In that time Mexico saw it was growing bananas and set out to prove that a country could be a banana republic. In fifteen years they had one emperor, eleven presidents, and one dictator. This is not the kind of atmosphere in which to grow rich. Santa Anna was elected President and in 1834 named himself dictator. He abolished the constitution of 1824, one similar to the United States Constitution. That bothered the Texans. Was freedom really an issue? Well, in a sense, but it was freedom for whites. Texas wanted slaves and Mexico would not let them have them. (See Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen. One of the first acts of the Republic of Texas when it was formed was to order all free black people out. Thereafter until the end of the Civil War, slavery was perfectly legal in Texas. You didn't hear about that in the John Wayne movie.)

    Santa Anna was aware of the Texian Anglo separatists and decided to put a stop to their revolution once and for all. He obtained some high-interest loans from the Church (who forbade usury by others). Santa Anna took the money and raised an army and marched against Texas with four thousand men.

    Sam Houston ordered Jim Bowie to destroy the Alamo before it fell again into enemy hands, but Bowie refused and instead had his men occupy the fort. Bowie and William B. Travis, who commanded the garrison there, took joint control. When they heard Santa Anna was coming north, they decided to make a stand there at the Alamo. Santa Anna arrived at the Alamo and ordered a surrender. Travis answered with a cannon volley. So Santa Anna laid siege to the stronghold. Jim Bowie fell sick at this time with some respiratory ailment. He gave up command to Travis.

    The Alamo defenders never knew, but about this time the Texas legislature declared independence from Mexico. So at the Alamo the fight became for the entire state's independence. Santa Anna's siege lasted twelve days. On the thirteenth day, Sunday, March 6, at 3 AM, Santa Anna moved his men ready for the attack. At 5 AM Santa Anna had the buglers blow the Deguello. This is the bugle call of death. It really is played in the bull ring for the slaughter. On the battlefield it is similarly a call to his men to kill without mercy. The Mexicans needed three charges before could breech the walls. When they did they killed without mercy. Some men, including Davy Crockett, were found alive and brought to Santa Anna. He ordered their immediate execution. Some of the men refused to kill defenseless men. Santa Anna insisted and some soldiers who had not taken part in the charge volunteered and hacked the prisoners to death. It was all over by 6:30 AM.

    Mexican army needed weeks just to regroup. The defenders of the Alamo wanted to buy Sam Houston some precious time to assemble a defense. He got his precious time. Then he got some more. Then he got some that wasn't so precious. It took forty-six days for Santa Anna to be ready to challenge Houston's army. The two armies met at San Jacinto.

    We will be going to that site in a few days and I will continue the story.

    There is a nice instructive museum. We noticed a woman wearing a Lucent Technologies shirt. I asked her what business unit she was from. It turns out she also was BCS. And it was her bag we had seen in the hotel. She was bringing an Australian customer to see the famous site. I guess because of movies, American history belongs to the world. Though that is not really fair. I suppose when in Brussels most people would want to see Waterloo.

    The Alamo itself has some artifacts of interest. Well, there are things like knives used by the defenders.

    There is a site where skeletons were found. That sort of thing. It also has plaques listing the names of all the defenders.

    We returned to the room, about a ten-minute walk from the Alamo. We waited to see if Kate Pott arrived. Generally we share a room with her. (Nothing salacious, she is not my type.)

    At about 6 PM we sent out on the Riverwalk. This is a walkway on each side of the nearby river. It has become an excuse for upscale chic restaurants with al fresco dining. Except in late August al fresco is not very fresco. It doesn't take much of an excuse for chic, upscale restaurant colonies to spread like bacteria. We walked for a couple of hours. Then back to the room. I stayed and wrote, not being much of a party person. I put Seven Days in May on TV. Evelyn returned about 10:30 PM, Kate at 11 PM.

    08/28/97--LoneStarCon II: Day 1:

    We all woke up about 6 AM. (Actually Evelyn asked me the time. I looked at the clock and said "syphilis." It's a film reference.)

    We went to Denny's for breakfast, about the only place in walking distance.

    After breakfast Kate went off on a tour and we-Evelyn and I-returned to the Alamo. I watched the film again and double-checked my facts. I do that every once in a while. Coming back we stopped at a store specializing in Tabasco products. I was tempted to get a hot sauce holster. From there we returned to the room to drop some things off and then head to the convention. I will let Evelyn cover the convention since she is better than I am at it and besides, I want a rest. We are just barely a third the way into the trip and I am tired of writing. Some day I will learn to relax on vacations.

    Well, the convention has its problems. I assume Evelyn will cover them. I usually scribe when Evelyn is on a panel so she does not have to both take notes and participate. I missed her first one, however. This time it took me ten minutes to even figure out were the room was. I got there late. Apparently the panel members had a very hard time finding the room also. To get there from other convention rooms is like a five-minute walk even when you know where you are going. I didn't. And it is a really weird route taking you outside, downstairs, and then you have to figure out from their map of the convention center what is outside, what inside. When I got to the room, it was laid out so that I could not actually see who was speaking on the stage. I could see one participant's head, and the hat another was wearing. On top of that it was a big room and there was one chandelier on. The rest was darkness. I could not see the palmtop screen. This was too much, and I had to let Evelyn take her own notes. Another problem I hate when I am on panels, there is only one mike for the whole panel. The worst case I remember was at one convention when there were two tables and the mike had to be handed between them. I had commented that The Maltese Falcon was the considerably better than previous versions of the story. We gave up the mike to the other table and one of the panelists took me to task for not being able to appreciate the novel. It was about twenty minutes before I could get the mike back and say that I had been comparing the novel to the two previous film versions before the definitive one was made. But by then I think people did not care. This convention, to save money, has only one mike and has no film program (only videos).

    We got together for dinner with Kate as well as close friends of ours Dale and Jo. I suggested a Thai restaurant listed in the convention program book. The six of us walked there in the hot sun. It is now a Taco Bell at that address. Sorry, guys, how was I to know? We went instead to Casa Rio, a very good Mexican Restaurant. I thought I had ordered small, but there was still way too much food there and I was uncomfortable after. One of the panels talked about how bad a film Mimic was. As you may remember, I was quite impressed with it, rating it a +2. I suggested to Kate that we see it after dinner. Evelyn had parties she wanted to go to. Kate and I went off to see it. If anyone would appreciate this film, I figured it would be Kate. We got into a different disagreement. Kate thought it was a lot better than I thought it was and wanted to know why I didn't give it a full +4. Yes, it is a good, tense horror film. Yes, it is one of the scariest films I remember seeing in a long, long time. But I want more substance in a +4 film. So I have another disagreement, but at least this time I am in the middle.

    Back at the room Evelyn was already asleep. Kate and I talked. I complained about all the psychic ads we were getting. Kate was none too happy about them either. Kate wanted to know why the law did not move against them. It is one thing if you catch a spiritualist faking an effect. That is fraud. But it is really tough to do anything about a psychic who is not leaving any evidence. I am not sure it can without proving that there is no such thing as a psychic experience. I had to admit, somewhat tentatively, that I am not sure that there are no psychic experiences. Like many people I get a lot of deja vu experiences. At least at one point they were frequent. Once... once I saw a scene about a minute or two before it happened. I must have been eight or nine. Very undramatic. I was at summer camp and saw someone make a unique motion with their arm asking me to play. I tried to remember when that was and it happened in front of me. I don't think it happened before exactly the same way. I have come up with explanations for the incident, but none entirely satisfying. I don't believe in psychic experiences on demand.

    Kate does not believe in ghosts. Though apparently the house she lived in as a child would settle in ways that it would sound like there was somebody climbing the stairs. The dog would bark, but would refuse to go up the stairs until a human led him. Very strange.

    08/29/97--LoneStarCon II: Day 2:

    The Marriot Riverwalk is not a very well run hotel. Yesterday we got fed up with the light over the desk not working. They came up and immediately got it working while we were at breakfast yesterday. They apparently switched bulbs with the pole lamp. (Bulb is the wrong term, they are little fluorescents that screw into bulb sockets.) So we still have a lamp out of order. Two nights ago I was eating Fritos that had a chile powder covering to make them spicy. But the powder turns your fingers red. Figuring it comes out in the wash I wiped my hands on a towel. After the room was cleaned I took one of the clean and neatly folded towels off the rack and recognized my finger-marks from the night before. The towels had not been replaced, they had just been refolded and put back on the rack. Since there were three of us in the room and they generally give you two glasses for each person I requested six rather than four glasses. The request was ignored.

    Quick scribblings. Denny's for breakfast. Then back to the room. I had a discussion of political correctness with Kate wanting to know if I believed John Norman's claims that he has been shut out of publishing because he was not politically correct. I told her I would not rule them out. Kate lives in a college community and sees things from a University of Massachusetts perspective. I guess I did at one time also. Years in the business world have somewhat altered my perspective. I suggested she take a look at The Myth of Male Power by Warren Farrell. I don't agree with everything in the book, but he makes a lot of good points.

    Yesterday the convention was not really full the way it was today. A lot of people don't come till

    Thursday night and some don't come until the weekend. But Friday you feel the convention is really running. But Evelyn will cover the convention. At 6 PM we got together for dinner, Evelyn, me, Kate, Pete Rubinstein, Dale Skran and Jo Paltin. We went to an Italian restaurant called Ibiza for dinner. The food was fairly good, but the service was slow. The bread was good and crusty.

    Following dinner we were going to go see Kull the Conqueror, all of us but Evelyn. No times were convenient. I returned to the room and Evelyn went partying. Come 11:30 PM she had not returned, but Kate had and mentioned some parties she liked, so I went over for an hour just to see them. I guess partying is not really my thing. I returned to the room at 12:30 AM. At a convention that is not late.

    08/30/97--LoneStarCon II: Day 3:

    Breakfast at Denny's.

    I went back to the room afterward. A funny thing happened. I wear a photovest. I put my hand over a pocket and the pocket was hot. Now I have not used this pocket yet this convention. Something in it had gotten hot sort of spontaneously. Near as I can figure out the incriminating items were a piece of Jolly Rancher lemon candy and a 9-volt battery. I think the candy got warm and melted onto the battery, shorting it out. That got the candy even hotter. In any case the candy changed to the soft consistency of taffy. It is possible the candy was not really important and battery just leaked or something and spontaneously shorted out. But one does not expect to find a spare pocket getting hot. I may have narrowly averted a fire.

    Anyway, I went to a couple panels of authors reading their stuff. James Alan Gardner has a nice clear prose style. On top of which for a while I was the only member of the audience. Eventually one more person joined us, but it must have been awfully demoralizing and he deserved a better audience. I was a little embarrassed because he knew Evelyn and me from the Internet and had perhaps read more of our stuff than we had of his. He had brought a copy of a published novel and since at the time there was one person in the audience, he autographed it to me and Evelyn.

    The next reader was Brenda Clough. She has written six little known novels but I had heard an interview and knew something about her seventh novel, How Like a God. I also had heard her at both Boskone and Readercon. I generally know very little about current authors, but her I did. Clough started to read from her novel and I realized I knew what was going on but nobody else would because I knew the premise of her novel. I stopped her and told the audience the premise without knowing which what she was reading would not make sense. I think she was impressed that someone in the audience knew her novel well enough to explain it to the audience. I cannot always come off so erudite.

    Conventioning through much of the rest of the day. Another strange event was being interviewed. I saw someone with a badge from Cardiff so I mentioned having visited there. It turns out he was looking for people who had visited Wales to be recorded for the radio. Thinking about it afterward I could have given him better answers had I known the questions in advance. they were the sort of thing of what did I like in Wales, what am I doing at the convention.

    Well, the convention took up most of the rest day, what with the Hugo awards. We sat in front of John Flynn, a friend who is a professor at Towson University. We met because I wrote a survey article of all of the film adaptations of The Phantom of the Opera at the same time he was writing a book on the same subject.

    Evelyn did not win, but came in second in her category. Afterward we went to the Hugo Losers party. I stayed for just a short time and left. I hit the con suite, then sat through a showing of the Hugo-winning episode of Babylon 5. Evelyn thought Independence Day would get the Hugo. I could not imagine any dramatic presentation beating the B5 TV series. I am willing to bet that B5 will win next year again, without knowing what its competition will be.

    Back to the room afterward I heard that Lady Diana had been killed. She was a woman whose life was filled with monumental ironies. She was a pawn for a lot of different people who found her convenient. Her death appears to be the result of being chased by paparazzi will likely change the privacy laws throughout Europe.

    08/31/97--LoneStarCon II: Day 4:

    Denny's for breakfast.

    Sunday is the last full day of the convention. There is the feeling that the convention is mostly over sadly, but it is still going full steam. The really downbeat day is Monday, the last of the convention.

    Panels on the most important events of the millennium coming to an end. One on religion in SF. One on review magazines. I think Evelyn will be covering those. I went to Bill Higgins's wedding reception, including surprise guest Fred Pohl. Bill went to school with Dale Skran and since is working for Fermi National Laboratory. He also has a monthly column about science in some newspaper in Chicago, I think. He set up the science program for the last World Science Fiction Convention and it is by far the best program that has been at any science fiction convention. Not just the best science program, the best program in general, due to his efforts. Evelyn called this the convention at which Mark disappeared in the morning and was not seen until dinner.

    At the reception I got into a discussion about film. The discussion was started out about why Hollywood does so badly by science fiction. This is a perennial panel question at science fiction conventions. Now I would ask if it is really true. Now to a large extent we are comparing apples and oranges. You have a long, long time in a novel to develop ideas in a story. You have a lot of words. In a film you have to a story in brief enough form that most of the audience will not need a bathroom break between the start and the finish. Most films really have the same amount of action as you would have in a 40-page story, a novelette in the Hugo award definitions. So to be fair, let's compare movies and novelettes. But that still is not fair. How many new novelettes are there each month? There are probably four or five monthly magazines that publish three or four new novelettes each month. Then there are original story anthologies. You know, books like Alternate Lawyers and Alternate Weather Conditions. It is hardly surprising that with so many novelettes being written and relatively few films being released to theaters. Of course, there are science fiction films that just go to cable or directly to cassette. But then there are a bunch of novelettes that don't get published either. With so many novelettes being published, you would expect a few of them to be better than the relatively few films we see. I would argue that if you level the playing field, you must compare films to novelettes, and then just count the last five or so of each you have seen. I would say compare the last five new science fiction films you have seen in a theater and the last five new novelettes. In my case, I have to say I am not really sure. Probably the written are a little better. But then writing a story you have one person at a word processor. Making a film is a much bigger production. Changes to the story are very expensive. Instead of ten minutes of composition time a new image may cost tens of thousands of dollars to create. Why isn't there a huge margin? Why aren't the novelettes A LOT better than the films? Hollywood is doing better than you would expect by comparison.

    Actually the last novelettes I read were Hugo nominees. I would expect them to be really good. They weren't. How come written science fiction is not better?

    Next was a panel on pseudo-science and one on how to tell lies with statistics.

    For dinner we went to Taco Cabana. This is a fast food pace but we wanted to go to the masquerade early. The masquerade was OK, only the last costume being very impressive. Usually the masquerades are more impressive if they are in Europe. I had heard Dale, Jo, Bill, and his wife make plans to go to the IMAX showing in the Rivercenter (a building that includes a mall and one of the convention hotels) at ten. I had figured that meant 10 PM after the masquerade and I thought we could surprise them by showing up also. It turned out they were making plans for another day. Luckily we ran into Dale and Jo just by coincidence and discovered they were not going toward the theater. So with that error under my belt we decided to call it a day and to go to bed early-ish. We went back to the room to read and to go to bed about 11 PM.

    09/01/97--LoneStarCon II: Day 5:

    Last day of the convention. Let's see, what did I go to? There was a panel on the future of the book. Will the book remain on paper or will it be digitized? Will other media replace the book? It was kind of dull in the first half and picked up in the second half. There was one person in the audience who thought that the book was going to lose dominance. Most of the panel and assumed it would be a long time before some other form replaced the book. I made the comment that I really would prefer to read an Agatha Christie in a medium where I could search for a person's name, etc. I showed off my palmtop with Vertical Reader and said I had read whole novels off the palmtop. Panelist thought that words on paper have been around for a long time and would remain the dominant form for language for a long time. I think those who remember the past are condemned to be misled by it. That is the half that Santayana forgot. History repeats, but never in the same way. Most observations of history repeating are made well after the fact and not when it is happening. There is a science to knowing history and an art to picking out which historical analogies are true and which are false. Luck plays a part also.

    Other panels included Quantum Strangeness and a very entertaining talk by Michael Flynn on the abuse

    of statistics. Kate also enjoyed that latter talk. But I am not sure she got the point of listening very carefully to what statistics say. Public Radio was talking about problems in the DC school systems and they gave the shock statistic that 40% of the students were performing below the national average. Actually that sounds bad until you give it some thought and then it might be quite good.

    The group wanted to see Kull the Conqueror at the local theater so we went at the appropriate time this time. Actually we gathered at the theater at 5:15 PM for a 5:30 PM show. We would have thought that was enough time, but it very nearly was not. The ticket line moved very slowly because they had people signing up for their Movie Watchers Club that involved getting a credit card approved and the typing of a large volume of statistical data. The line moved very slowly. And then the person taking tickets was also serving and preparing refreshments. They would take a few tickets, then someone would come along wanting a drink and the whole line to get in would wait while she made the drink. We do it more intelligently in New Jersey.

    Capsule: King Kull comes to the screen as Rafaella Di Laurentiis continues her father's series of Robert E. Howard adaptations. Badly damaged by a horrible musical score and unmemorable villains and a bit too much sex, the film is still manages to be an acceptable adolescent adventure. Rating: high 0 (-4 to +4) 5 (0 to 10)

    New York Critics: 2 positive, 4 negative, 0 mixed

    Last year we had the film THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD tell us about the personality of Robert E. Howard who from rural Texas spun yarns of barbarians fighting sorcerers. His chief character was Conan but some of his stories were about King Kull and took place in an earlier never-was. Kevin Sorbo, who plays TV's Hercules-with-pants stars as the title barbarian. The chief problem with this film is that it tells its story without worrying too much what its audience is. The plot is a little lightweight for an adult audience and has a little too much sex-play for a children's film.

    Kull (Kevin Sorbo) is a barbarian fighter come to join an army in a country with an old and unbalanced king. The king has several sons fighting for the throne. In a fit of anger the old king kills some of his sons and Kull fights the king to stop him. Mortally wounded, the old king names the angry barbarian newcomer as his successor. Suddenly Kull is a king with new enemies trying to steal his kingdom. And his enemies are willing to make bonds with the forces of evil including an old sorceress, Akivasha (Tia Carrere) who is revived from the dead to be an ally of the vengeful brothers.

    The film is written by Charles Pogue who gave us DRAGONHEART last summer. While it is not a highly ambitious goal to capture Robert E. Howard's style in a script, he does a reasonable job. The villains could have had a little more depth. Of course, one of Kull's better villains, Thulsa Doom, was borrowed for CONAN THE BARBARIAN. Conan lived well after Doom in Howard's pseudo-history. Here the problem was the script had times when it was a little hard to follow and there was perhaps a little too many "Shall I undress now, your highness?" scenes for a film essentially intended for adolescent audiences.

    Director John Nicoletta makes unfortunately makes little effort to preserve the period feel and it is here that the film falls down the most. The horses are shoed and have bridals that would look too modern in a Civil War film. But Nicoletta's biggest mistake is in allowing Joel Goldsmith's totally misplaced main theme. It is difficult to evoke so ancient a period with electric guitars and Joel's attempt is merely jarring and obnoxious. The visual effects are not always convincing, including some bad mattes, but for me that is a small fault.

    Sorbo is not the most exciting actor in the world. Charleton Heston claimed he was cast in a lot of historical films because people thought he had a historical sort of face. I am told by one of the women with whom I saw the film that his great virtue are his pectorals. But Sorbo does not really evoke a historical period. Part of it may be that he never dresses for the period. As with the Conan films, there is an odd mix of cultures and races in the primeval world. Most of the sets are Egyptian-looking. Sorbo's sidekicks include a priest of an unknown cult played by Litefoot, who played the title role of Indian in the Cupboard. Tia Carrere is of Chinese descent, I believe. Then there is Harvey Fierstein as a pirate captain. I cannot honestly say he was badly cast since had I never seen him before he might have not seemed all that strange in this role. For once his gravelly voice might have made him seem tough.

    Tone down the sex and this might have made a decent matinee film. As it is there is a lot of sex but no nudity and a lot of violence with virtually no blood. I rate this one a high 0 on the -4 to +4 scale.

    After the film we went to Tony Roma's for barbecued ribs. The service was very slow and the beef ribs were kind of low on meat, but we were with friends. Afterwards we went to the room to pack.

    09/02/97--Houston, Texas:

    We were on the road about 8:30 AM. We had planned to stick around and go with Dale and Jo and Bill Higgins to see Mission to Mir at the local IMAX theater. Then we discovered that the IMAX show at the Houston Space Center includes a free viewing of two IMAX films, one of which is Mission to Mir. We did not really have breakfast. We had a cup of coffee in the room. After that we moved the stuff to the car. We dropped the keys at the desk. I would say that the service at the hotel was not very good. Witness the fact we never got the light fixed in the pole lamp. But every time you deal with a human they are friendly and seem to be as helpful as they can be. This is the L. L. Bean revolution. It may not have originated with them, but for a long time they were noted for this kind of service. Just being friendly and pleasant to people is a small thing, but it makes both sides happier. Marriot has apparently sent their employees to smile school and that goes a long way.

    Lunch was at Amalia's, a Mexican place on the outskirts of Houston. The slogan is "Taste the difference." I did and was unimpressed. The difference was not for the better. They fry their own taco chips and several were soft and pliable with too much oil, the beans were pureed rather than mashed, the lemonade was served as a bar drink with a small glass filled with ice and no refills. There was too much sauce on each dish. It took quite a long while to get the check. However, in just a few minutes they really filled up. No accounting for taste.

    ABC TV seems to have an ad campaign telling people to be stupid and watch TV. We pass a billboard that says "Scientists say we use 10% of our brains. This is way too much. ABC" Another one says "Hobbies Shmobbies. ABC." Then there is "All we ask is eight hours a day. ABC." Hard to believe they would be so honest, but perhaps they don't want to make the mistakes the cigarette companies did. This way they can say that they told you all along that TV would rot your brain.

    We checked in at the Grant Motel. Cheap but it seems well run. It has a sort of well-preserved 1950s feel. Then off to San Jacinto. Driving around Houston is hot, humid, and there are lots of smelly refineries. It's like being back in parts of New Jersey in the summer. My first impression is it is not a pretty city like Dallas. However, I found three different classical stations on the radio in under a minute. That's not too bad. Of course, that doesn't mean they will still be there when I go to try and find them again.

    Over the refineries we see the fifty-story San Jacinto Monument, the tallest stone monument in the world, so they say. I can't tell that by looking at it, but it clearly is a big sucker. That is about thirty-three feet per minute of the San Jacinto battle. This was the battle that was fought forty-six days after the Alamo and for which time was bought with the lives of the defenders of the Alamo. Do you know what I am saying? In the film The Alamo when Richard Boone as Sam Houston says the people at the Alamo are buying time. This forty-six days is the time they bought.

    Then Sam Houston was planning an orderly sort of battle. Santa Anna was prepared for that but had deployed his troops in a line where they could not fall back and still fight. There was marsh and a lake behind him. Houston also failed to gauge how much anger there was in his men over massacres at the Alamo and at Goliad. Luckily it didn't matter. Secretary of War T  J. Rusk was present and after the first shots issued his own orders that the men charge. The yelling began: "Remember the Alamo" and "Remember Goliad." The Mexicans fought for about eighteen minutes until retreating into the marshes. It seems Santa Anna thought he had been really smart putting his troops where they had no place to retreat. He thought they would fight harder if there was no place they could back up. There was just a marsh there. When the Americans charged the Mexicans backed up into the marsh. After eighteen minutes there was no more resistance possible.

    630 Mexican soldiers were killed and 730 were taken prisoner. The brutal slaughter was nothing to be proud of for the new republic. In most cases it was vicious murder including several scalpings. Helpless men and boys were shot to death in pointless executions.

    Nine Texans were killed or at least mortally wounded. Santa Anna was captured. But he knew that the better part of his army was under Vincente Filisola and Houston knew he would not have so easy a victory against Filisola. Filisola had the men he needed to cause the revolutionaries a lot of trouble. What he lacked was Santa Anna to control him and what he lacked was fighting spirit. When the weather went bad, so did his will to stay. He retreated below the Rio Grande to uncontested territory. On his way he abandoned Texas to the rebels.

    Mexico and the Republic of Texas agreed to disagree about the status of Texas and to whom it belonged. Ten years later Texas agreed to annexation by the United States. This was an unexpected move and Mexico was not happy. It is one thing for the residents to claim they own some territory; it is another to give it away to the United States. The United States offered to pay for the land. Mexico said it was not for sale. The United States assured Mexico it was. Mexico declared war on the United States. The Mexican-American War lasted from 1846 to 1848. It did not work out well for Mexico. The United States obtained about 25% of the current United States. The war added to the United States lands that included Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah, and pieces of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma. The United States did pay and Mexico had to accept.

    There is at the monument a museum, a slide show, and you can go up in the monument.

    We chose just the museum only for reasons of time and-let's face it-cheapness. It does not go into any real detail about San Jacinto. It has some artifacts of the major players, a little about the battle. We saw some swords, some guns, uniforms, there was a case of artifacts of the Texas navy. We were going to go out and take a look at the battlefield but it was warmish outside. Well, it was 103 degrees, but nice and humid. Walking around outside was not entirely pleasant. It might have been interesting to see the battlefield, but as soon as you step outside your first thought is to run for cover to some place air conditioned.

    I pass a billboard and it starts me thinking. Okay, so what is the deal? Why does somebody put up a billboard that says Jesus loves you? The deal is not that the person believes it. You don't see many billboards that say "Tuesday follows Monday." Presumably the person who put up the billboard feels he has already been saved. Does he feel there are levels of heaven and people who put up billboards get a better seat? He can't believe that if everybody was his religion it would end religious strife. Look at all the strife of Jews not getting along with Jews, Christians disagreeing with Christians, Suni Moslems hating Shiite Moslems. If you could magically snap your fingers and make everybody Episcopalian in weeks you would have so many variants on Episcopalian theology that all the old religious hatred would be back. I am Jewish and I am not looking to make a whole lot more Jews in the world. I don't want a whole lot less either. I certainly don't want the whole world agreeing with me about religion or anything else. At least not from faith. Part of the fun of writing a log is to express a wide range of opinions. I am not saying I am right about all of them. I am just expressing some ideas for the reader to have fun playing with. Ideas should be toys, not dogma.

    We decided to go on to the Menil Collection. Presumably we will talk about this museum tomorrow, but it was closed Tuesdays. Ouch. Well, a few blocks away was a characteristically Texan sort of weirdness. There was a former movie theater converted to be a bookstore. It wasn't a bad bookstore either. We found a fair amount to interest us. We ended up getting a bag of books including a couple of books on quantum theory, a lighter survey of interesting science articles (I think I will read one a day at work like reading pages of a daily calendar), and a couple of books on cinema.

    By the time we got out they sky had turned dark gray and we were getting some nice lightning strikes. This is probably my favorite sort of weather. Toward the end of a hot, humid uncomfortable day the sky turns to an angry black and starts to give us an electric light show with flashes of lightning and bashes of thunder. After twenty minutes or so start the cold drops of rain. In just a few minutes of rain the temperature drops to a much more comfortable level. Of course, there is nothing to guarantee it will be cooler after the storm, but it is likely.

    Well, not much more of excitement for today. We went back to the room. We work on logs. I put on First Knight, what would have been a decent Arthurian film but for a few truly silly scenes. There is the really absurd mechanical gauntlet. Who would have built a machine that complex in Arthurian times? Look how much more complex it is than what Leonardo Da Vinci only put on paper. And what is a speedboat scene doing in an Arthurian film? Bad stuff.

    We go to the grocery to stock up on the snack stuff we are running low on. Back at the room I work and in the background see Escape from L.A. Horrid film. "Free cable movies" is not always such a great thing in a motel.

    This is where I am now. I have put a classical station on the radio. I was intending to read when I got done but I have fallen asleep a couple of times. My writing must be dull. If it puts me to sleep and I actually can picture what I am describing, what must it do to you?

    I guess I am not exactly sure why you are reading. I rarely read trip logs. The adage is to write what you like to read. I do basically three kinds of writing. I write trip logs, I write film reviews, and I write a weekly editorial. Well, I almost never read trip logs. I do some reading about film. The editorials are most like I read. I read scattershot. Right now I might be interested in reading about the Civil War. When I get home I may read Richard Feynman's Six Easy Pieces. After that it may be a science fiction book. The editorials are scattershot like the writing. Of course, the trip logs may be like the editorials. I certainly editorialize in the trip logs. And I go off in bizarre directions.

    09/03/97--Houston, Texas: Houston Space Center:

    Really uncomfortable night. First of all, we both have coughs. Evelyn had a cold early in the trip and gave it to me. Then I think she picked up another one. Pete Rubinstein noted that at the convention the amount of coughing he heard during panels increased daily. There must be some sort of airborne virus and I had heard that we hit a period when there was some sort of a cold going around. But what hit us is the air conditioner in the room is right over the bed so if it is on at all, it is too cold. If it is off, it is too hot. And it is impossible to shut out the light coming into the room. That combined with the colds gave us really uncomfortable nights.

    On the other hand, this is a pretty interesting motel. I figure Grant got out of the military in the 1950s and built this place. It has been perfectly maintained since then and only minimally updated. The sign still advertises "pool" and "color TV" and claims "hotel service" showing a bellboy with the little cylindrical hat. A jagged sidewalk runs around the building so the guest parks at an angle in front of their room and the awning forms a sort of carport for each. The motel surrounds a pool (well, an adult and a children's pool, both kidney-shaped). Three parallel beams of water parabola into the pool for decoration. Around the pool are tables under Polynesian-style palm frond umbrellas. All of this is perfectly maintained. No ants, no toilets that don't flush. It is like the place was just built. As we travel, toilets in motel rooms are the biggest problem. It seems that more than a third do not work properly. This percentage is up from previous trips. I guess the toilet is the most complex piece of technology maintained by the motel. At least it is the most complex one we see. But a large percentage are broken outright or have to be coaxed to flush.

    We have been gone a long time. It is hard to believe that we are still, at least at this instant, in the first half of the trip. Today we hit the halfway point.

    As we approach the Houston Space Center we pass the NASA Hair Center and the NASA Eye Center. McDonalds has a plaster astronaut on top of their building holding a container of fries. Visible proof that the space program helps the rest of the economy. We pull into the parking lot and there is nearly nobody here. Then it doesn't open for half an hour.

    The first display you see as you approach the building is a Saturn car. Saturn is one of the sponsors of the space center so I guess the space center has its Saturn boosters. The door has a sign saying state law prohibits carrying a handgun onto these premises. Of course, you never know when you are going to need some protection in a science museum.

    No sooner did the museum open than the first tram tour started. We rushed to the back of the museum. We met some other SF fans who had been to the convention in San Antonio.

    On the Tram tour we saw the Special Vehicle Operations Room and Mission Control. The latter has been the Mission Control Room used since 1995. Today they were doing a training mission in conjunction with astronauts in Building 9. The center of operations was the Flight Director's station and just to the right was Capcom. The latter is capsule communication, the person who talks directly to the astronauts. Capcom is almost always an astronaut. On the wall between the two control rooms there was a timeline showing developments in space flight. It started in the 1850s or so with the story "Brick Moon" by Edward Everett Hale. Even some of the staunchest SF fans have not heard of this novel or certainly have not read it. I had heard of it and was surprised to see it available on the Web. I had our science fiction club at (then) AT&T read it. I was interested to see an illustration for it.

    We next went to Building 9, the Mockup and Integration Lab. They have a full-sized shuttle, complete but for wings. They have helium balloon a section of a torus-the shape of a slice of doughnut or a piece of macaroni-that is used for manipulation practice. We didn't see it but there is a place with an air-bearing floor. That is a nearly frictionless floor like the board in air hockey. They have a simulation of the shuttle arm. The guide had asked for question and nobody was asking them so I thought I could remedy the situation. What they use is a lot more powerful than the real mechanical arm since the test one would have to also overcome gravity. Clearly having a mechanical arm in gravity, it would handle differently than one in no gravity. So I asked how similar is the handling to the handling in space. "Very similar." Okay, ask a stupid question...

    The presentation is sprinkled liberally with comments like "The space station is vital next step in our moving into space." There were just two messages they wanted to get to people. One, kids should get lots of math and science and then go into space careers. Two, the space program is a really good deal for the taxpayer and our destiny is in space. In my case they are preaching to the converted. I think they understate the importance of space exploration. I would judge that the human race is either going to become a space-faring species or it will not see the fourth millennium. There are too many threats to Planet Earth. Over the very long term we must learn to survive without the planet, as unthinkable as that seems to us today. To tie the existence of the human race to a planet in which there are more and more threats to all life is species suicide. It may not be a nuclear holocaust, it may not be pollution destroying the food chain, it may not be a virus dredged up in a rain forest that we have no defenses against, it may not be a comet hit.

    It may be something about which we have no conception currently. But as long as we think of our great-grandparents as having lived a long, long time ago and our great-grandchildren as living off in some incomprehensible future, we can still be optimistic. If we start looking at thirty-generation intervals of humanity you see we have just hit the time when people can get their hands on new power and use it selfishly or stupidly or just ignorantly. And there have always been natural threats. There is a lot lower probability that Earth will survive the third millennium than that it would survive the second. If that is true or options are to sit here tying the fate of humanity to the planet or not. I vote not. To me, that is more important than social problems, more important than ideology, that is the whole show. Well, we likely have centuries before we hit anything like a world-killing event. But when we do we have to be pretty advanced for it not to take the human race with it. I am not talking about some little colony on Mars.

    But I digress. It is this building the astronauts practice for space flight on air-bearing floor, in tanks. They even practice food and hygiene.

    The third stop is Space Park, really a tourist-only spot where you can see a few rockets close up.

    We returned just in time Southwestern Bell sponsored briefing on an upcoming space flight. This was a shuttle launch on September 25. It begins with a robot from the future named "Eva" telling us about what cutting edge communications technology changes were being implemented in our time. AT&T's management made the same mistake. They think we happen to be in a spurt of change right now. Their strategic imperative was to be the leader "before, during, and after" the information revolution. Before is gone and there is no after. If they are pacing themselves like there is going to be an after I wish them luck. There is no after. I think the future will see this time as being towards the beginning of the chaos. Things are going to get really different. Probably better, but certainly different.

    You see a piece of a Mars meteorite in a case. It isn't the Mars meteorite, but it is a Mars meteorite.

    There is a short film "On Human Destiny" showing the history of the space program. They show the Challenger explosion and move on. That's the right attitude. Don't let things come to a halt. People died crossing the prairie, they died in Vietnam, they died in the Gulf War, they die because they want to smoke and because they want to drink and they die because they want to travel on holiday weekends. You have to make space travel as safe as is feasible and then consider deaths the cost of doing business. We really need to get into space and we cannot let the fact that it is a dangerous job stop us. Life is dangerous, progress even more so.

    After that there was a film Mission to Mir in the IMAX theater. In zero G with no up or down it looks like an Escher world on the Mir. I guess what is most exciting in the film is to see a Russian blast-off. We have seen American craft take off and their shapes are familiar. But it give sort of a science fictional feel you don't get from an American launch.

    A Russian landing is very different from a United States one. They cannonball through the atmosphere, break their fall with a parachute. The last two seconds above the ground they fire rockets to break the fall. They still hit the ground pretty hard, but it is not hard enough to really hurt. If the cosmonauts have been out of Earth's gravity on the Mir they are treated as invalids for a day or so until their muscles get used to Earth's gravity again. The capsule is badly scorched from the re-entry. This is a quick and dirty way to do a touchdown on land. Americans, of course, come down only on water.

    Also, the Mir is not kept as neat as the Skylab. In fact, they could not hide the fact that it got to be a sort of rat's nest inside. Of course, they are a lot bigger than Skylab is. Shannon Lucid lost a shoe for days and had to offer a reward for it before they Russians disassembled the floor panels to find where it drifted.

    There are a bunch of exhibits intended to get kids excited about space. In one, kids ride a space buggy and see a moon landscape under he real space buggy moving past them. Really it is a little TV screen and when they push a control forward the buggy shakes and the screen runs the lunar film forward. Pulling back on the stick runs the film backward giving the feeling the buggy is backing up.

    One computer program teaches you to design a multi-stage rocket to get maximum altitude. A bunch of the exhibits show you that while NASA can design equipment that stands up to the rigors of space, they cannot yet build equipment that stands up to small children. Also they demonstrate the inter-cooperation of the museum with any number of sponsors who get various product placements around the museum. "This number of M&Ms is the whole United States budget and this small number of M&Ms is the amount that goes to the space program."

    Another section has models and mockups from the history of space flight. You see Mercury and Gemini capsules up through a full-sized walk-in section of Skylab that was used as a trainer. It makes you feel you almost could float. Just about wherever you go you hear dramatic background music to set of mood of excitement toward space exploration. And all the staff, even the guys who sweep the floors get astronaut coveralls to do it in.

    To test how well you would do in weightlessness they have a chair on an air cushion. You have a mission to do certain manipulations on a device over your head. When you try to turn it you go spinning off in the opposite direction. I immediately realized that was going to happen and countered with the other hand. I finished the mission with so much time to spare the operator suggested I just play with the chair and try docking it to use up the rest of my time. Okay, I'm ready to take on Mars.

    We tried the various computer simulations including the shuttle lander. The problem there is everybody crashes the shuttle. The stick is just not responsive enough and everybody I saw crashed the shuttle in the swamp. Something else I read suggested that this is actual astronaut training software. I suspect it is darn rare anyone untrained lands the shuttle safely.

    The final exhibit was a short IMAX film called To Be an Astronaut which showed the training process. The whole thing was not as real as I was expecting, but it was a decent space museum and probably made for one of the best days of the trip. I will have to compare it to Huntsville.

    We had the time so went to the Menil Art Collection. I don't understand my attitude toward art museums. I do not think of myself as someone who likes art museums. I almost never go into an art museum expecting a good time. Yet I almost always enjoy going. I don't think I picked up a lot about art in school. Yet a bit at a time I seem to have acquired knowledge of the major artists. I frequently can tell an artist by his style and there must be a lot that I like. In spite of myself I must like art museums.

    The surrealism section starts with Marcel Duchamp including some pen and ink, some metal sculpture. Some Max Ernst. There are a few especially nice De Chiricos, a small room with three Magrittes. Included in the next room is the original "Treachery of Images," the picture of a pipe labeled that it is not a pipe. Further there are two Picassos, a familiar Man Ray "Imaginary Portrait of the Marquis de Sade." A later room has several very familiar Magrittes including his "Golconde" showing functionary businessmen floating in air.

    To the other end is a collection of art starting with antiquities. There were horses from Greece, there was ancient Egyptian. There was Roman.

    There is a room of Georges Braque, whom I did not know. Well, I do now. To finish they had some Leger and some Warhol. Again a small museum, but with some nice pieces.

    On the way back to the motel we stopped for dinner at Joe's Crab Shack. It is a relatively inexpensive and popular seafood house. We had really good service. I had the Fisherman's Platter. We also had an appetizer of fried jalapenos. Evelyn found them too spicy to eat. Food has to be really piquant to bother me at all these days. I could eat only about half of the main platter so we had it packaged. We put it on ice in the room. I don't know when I will eat it.

    I think we went to sleep about 10:30 PM.

    09/04/97--Southern Louisiana:

    Well, it was another uncomfortable night. I must have been up five or six times. I thought I was handling the heat pretty well until I got to Houston. Maybe after all I said, the thermostat really is working in the air conditioner, but it is not sensitive enough. There are times when the room feels too cold and times when it is too hot. The mean is fine, the variance is way too high. Evelyn was up at some time in the night. I woke up and she was in the bathroom. A little while later I looked and she was back in bed. I can tell that she went into the bathroom because she could not sleep. There is a chair in the bathroom (nice touch that) and it is pulled out, which means that it has been used. So she must have had trouble sleeping also.

    Today is an even day of the month so I will not change clothes. The way we handle the clothes situation is to do a wash every eight days. But I did not bring eight changes of clothes, I packed four and wore one. I wear a set of clothes two days. In August I changed clothes on even days; in September it is odd days. I am very systematic about traveling light.

    Well, we packed up the car. We had the motel's continental breakfast. At this writing we are headed east on Route 10. We have gotten a really atmospheric day. The sky is more haze than sky. Occasionally the white disk of the sun shows through. The scenery is greener. This is marsh country and oil country. Today the sun generates more heat than light.

    Ironically, when you drive the country rather than fly you realize it is smaller than you thought. Places I thought were really distant you can get to with a few hours of driving. The terrain changes quickly.

    We were looking for something representative of Texas to put on the chachka table. Just before the border we stopped at a grocery store and got a bottle of mesquite smoke marinade. Not a great choice, but we were desperate. In Louisiana the roads have a lot of ads for casinos. I guess Louisiana has legalized gambling. In Lake Charles we pass a garish hotel and casino called Player's Island. It has a riverboat in back. Not too far down the road are some really dilapidated houses. It looks like the wealth has come but has yet to be spread. That was pretty much the experience in Atlantic City. These places vote in gambling in the hopes it will bring prosperity, but it brings it to only a few people.

    On the radio we here "God gives us principles on how to invest our money." Investing from a Biblical perspective is the subject being discussed. Always invest to the greater glory of God and God will protect your investment. When you see someone who lost money in the market, you can always find someplace he broke God's law. That is the claim. Hard to falsify that one. Who do you know who could not be interpreted as breaking God's Law?

    I would guess when you see someone fail at anything if you look hard enough you will find someplace where they broke God's law. If you find someone successful you will also find where they broke God's law. If you look hard enough you will find where William Jennings Bryan broke God's law. My guess is that the best policy is to not invest in something that is going to do a lot of damage (and I am not sure where to invest that would do damage) and otherwise just use sound investment strategies. I think letting religion guide you where to invest is about as intelligent as letting religion telling you what to investigate in science. You have to keep your priorities straight.

    The road is mostly two lanes going in each direction with a wide grassy strip between them. There seems to be a lot of different things, car dealers, etc., called Thibodeaux. At least there is a lot on the road. It must be a powerful family around here.

    Avery Island is a ninety-foot dome of salt, not an island at all. It was the first rock salt deposit discovered in North America. This is where for the last 129 years there has been a factory to make the most famous of Louisiana hot sauces, Tabasco. We pass fields of sugar cane and some mobile homes. There is a stream beside the road. A fish jumps from the water trying to catch a butterfly. Further there is a long-necked bird. I would guess an egret. (P.S. Yes, this area has lots of egrets.) There is a house on the stream and a small boat labeled E. McIlhenny.

    You have to pay a fifty-cent toll to get onto Avery Island, home of Tabasco. Tabasco is one of the most popular hot sauces in the world, probably because it has a tang without really being deadly. There is a newspaper clipping that says that after Hurricane Andrew, the residents of Guam were particularly worried that the hurricane might have damaged Avery Island. On Guam you put Tabasco sauce on

    everything from corn flakes to popcorn. I put hot sauce on popcorn myself. And sometimes vinegar. Edward McIlhenny was a banker in New Iberia, Louisiana, who had a small farm on Avery Island before the Civil War. The Union captured Avery Island. When McIlhenny got the land back after the war, there

    wasn't a lot left on the land that he could turn to profit. His old pepper plants were still blooming. He made a pepper mash, aged it, mixed it with vinegar and put it into French perfume bottles. He sealed the bottles with green wax and a cork. The first year, 1868, he sent it out free. Food had been spoiled by the war and people ate what they could get. The sauce brightened up the flavor of bad food or good. The second year he charge a ridiculous dollar a bottle. For some people that was a week's pay. But he established himself. The label is printed in eighteen different languages. The peppers, McIlhenny's own hybrid, have been recognized as a separate strain and called Tabasco, an Indian name for "land of heat and humidity."

    A personal note here. I myself am beyond the time when I consider Tabasco sauce to be a hot sauce. Now Dave's Insanity Sauce qualifies, but Tabasco is more just a seasoned vinegar. But I am grateful to the McIlhenny people for giving me a taste for the finer things in life.

    The tour is not much of a tour. You have the guide tell you a little of the history of Tabasco Sauce. Then you see a film that tells you a lot of the same things. Then you walk past a glassed-in area where you see the prepared sauce being bottled.

    The tour lets out in a Tabasco shop with samples of sauces, cook books, decorations, candy, and so forth, all on a Tabasco theme.

    We got done about 2 PM and Evelyn figured there should be good eating in New Iberia, what with the Tabasco plant near. Forget it. We ate at a Popeye's Fried Chicken. Not terrible, but not great eating either. I suppose I had to have fried chicken at some point in the South. It could have used some Tabasco sauce.

    This territory has a bad reputation for speed traps. Or what is even worse than speed traps, fraudulent accusations by police who get a chunk of the fine as bounty. By some accounts it is still a problem, by others publicity on 60 Minutes and in the AAA guide have remedied much of the problem. But we are driving carefully.

    The drive to Thibodeaux includes going through marshland. All the telephone poles seem short. This is because four feet or so is under water. What looks like ground vegetation will be absolutely flat as if cut by a giant sword. The plants will, of course, be only inches high and floating on the surface of the marsh.

    Other places we pass huge fields of sugar cane, much like at home we would see fields of corn. Sugar cane is a big crop down here. We used to get Coca-Cola made with cane sugar in the United States. I think they still did in Israel last I checked. Now we get Cokes made with corn sweeteners. Israeli Cokes are a lot better and I think the reason is that they still use cane sugar.

    I guess the old name of the town was Thibodaux and it is now Thibodeaux. Anyway we stopped at the Holiday Inn which was considerably more expensive than the AAA book claimed, but there was not much competition. The room is a little worn, especially the floor. We were in by about 5:30 PM, but there was not a lot to do. We stayed in for the night. For dinner I had the leftovers from Joe's Crab Shack. I think the diet of fatty foods is really starting to show on me. This is one of our cheapest trips, but it is also one of our least healthy. If you go into a barbecue place, what can you order that is healthy? What is healthy at a Mexican restaurant? Every meal I have is heavy on fat. My belt is starting to leave heavy grooves in my stomach.

    Well, I guess this is an evening to rest up. All we really did today was go to one site and spent the rest of the day traveling.

    I mostly worked on my log. We did watch a program on PBS about language and the acquisition of

    language. I kind of wish there was some way to discuss the ideas with the people putting them forth. I really want to disagree in some places. For example, they said that before you can associate ideas with sounds you have to have syntax. Baaaahhhhh! There, I have just presented the idea in a syntax free form. Syntax implies the juxtaposition of sounds. But ideas can be communicated with single sounds and animals do it all the time. I am sure the origin of language is in animal signals and predates humans. I don't know whether animals can appreciate syntax or not but they give every sign of being able to understand sentences with multiple variables. "{Fetch/Put away} the {ball/stick}." It may be they (say it is a dog in this case-a cat might understand but just not care) consider that to be four different sounds and they memorize the sound of each, but I doubt it. You can say "Put away the...." and pause and the dog already knows what the action is. The dog just needs the final piece to understand the request. That is understanding syntax.

    The other place I disagreed was they said that everybody knows it is correct to say "the big, red balloon" but that nobody accepts as correct "the red, big balloon." I guess it is the mathematician in me but the only difference I see in those expressions is the frequency of usage. But if there are several big balloons of different colors, I would see nothing wrong with referring to the red big balloon. Adjectives are commutative.

    We got a TV Guide to tell us what is on most of the stations, but it is useless for PBS since every PBS station sets up its own schedule.

    Such are my thoughts in Thibodeaux.

    09/05/97--Thibodeaux and New Orleans, Louisiana:

    (Pronounced LOOZ-i-AN-a)

    Up at 4 AM. Well, I went to bed early. Then I went back for a little more sleep.

    At about 8:45 AM we got to the Wetland Acadian Culture Center, a sort of museum of Cajun culture. It opens at 9 AM so we sat in the parking lot eating handfuls of dry Wheat Chex. I hadn't realized General Mills had bought them out. They probably could afford to buy them and raise the price. Kellogg's and General Mills have been jacking up the price of cereals the last few years. For a while Post resisted and the prices went down a bit, but they are headed up still higher. Someone pointed out that steak and eggs is cheaper than cereal these days. It is a convenience food so people are willing to pay for convenience.

    The Cajuns were French peasants who came to the New World starting in 1604 and settled first where Maine is, then moved to Nova Scotia, then called Acadie. They called themselves Acadians. The British settlers started moving into the area and made the French unwelcome.

    When Nova Scotia was given to the British in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, the Acadians were called French Nationals. The Acadians refused to sign an oath of allegiance to the English king and were forced out in 1755 in the war between England and France. In a ten-year journey they moved many places but especially to Louisiana, then owned by France. And while that territory changed hands several times, they remained.

    There is a small one-room museum. They have a set of tapes they can show, but the other visitors picked first and they picked a piece on hand-fishing. Basically the Cajuns just walk into a bayou. They reach into the water, grab fish, and throw them to the shore. Supposedly it is very rare to see people hand-fish. Bears do it all the time. Normally I would not be interested in a film about fishing, but it had plenty of Cajun music and showing of Cajun food, and that interested me.

    My particular interest with the Cajuns started with seeing the film Belizaire the Cajun. It is a fun film with a sort of Mark Twain feel to it with Armand Assante as a Cajun outsmarting some racists. I was particularly interested in the music which sounded to me like Blue Grass sung in French. I really got into Cajun music and to a lessor extent Zydeco. Cajun music is the music of the Cajuns, the local Blacks picked up the sound and mixed it with some others and that is Zydeco. Cajun music is almost always a fiddle and an accordion (which for some reason is not called a "corjun") and whatever other instruments they want. If you have not heard it, it's a really peppy music with a strong beat. In New Orleans the center of Cajun music is Tipitina's. It is like Preservation Hall for jazz. For four or five dollars you get red beans and rice, about four hours of good music, and to watch a bunch of working-class people dancing and having a really good time. Really a good time.

    After the hand-fishing tape we asked to see a film on the roots of the Cajuns. It was not quite as interesting, though it did have some history. It was more about how the Acadians came to Louisiana and how some returned with oxcarts to Nova Scotia. It is much like two halves of the same culture.

    One thing about Louisiana, when you drive you see a bunch of meaty insects in their last instant of time. They just collect on the windshield. You here a click on the windshield and neither you nor the insect are any too pleased about it.

    Evelyn saw an article recommending Bob's Cafe in Houma. We decided to look for it. Houma is a hard town to look for anything. They have two main streets a block apart. Each has a one-way stretch of two-lane highway. One road goes one way, one goes the other. We passed a seafood restaurant with a bunch of cars in front. I noticed it, but few particulars. When we decided we could not find Bob's we decided to look for my place again. We went over to the other main street and headed back in the direction we came in, never knowing if we had passed the place we were looking for or not. We returned to the first main street and hoped we would pass the restaurant again. Luckily we did. It turned out to be a place called Tubby's Seafood. I had Chicken and Sausage Gumbo and a hot tamale. Evelyn had Shrimp Gumbo. It came a little cold and they had to take it back and reheat it.

    We were driving through town and there was a barber shop. I was due for a haircut eight days earlier so I figured what the heck. I got a barber 78 years old; he's been cutting hair since he was 18. I think his name was Dodie. According to him, the area is building up as a place for oil drilling. Should bring some money to the area. This is the kind of barber you hear about in the South. He was slow and deliberate and talked a lot. He believe in herbs and thinks they cured his cancer and some other problems. He suggested that perhaps Baton Rouge would be crowded with LSU fans having a big football game coming up tomorrow. We may have to plan around that. The barber put something on my neck that sort of burned. I am not sure if it felt hot or cold.

    As we drove the sky looked like it was getting dark. We got hit with another lightning storm and heavy rain, but it did not last long. We were quickly in territory where not only was it not raining, it had not rained.

    England never accepted that the American Revolution had succeeded, like Mexico did not accept the Texian Revolution. Their ships at sea continued to impress American sailors into duty. In 1812, the new nation declared war on Britain and attacked Canada. Britain was tied down fighting Napoleon. They didn't really want to be fighting in the Americas and the Americans did not really want to be fighting them. In the spring of 1814, Napoleon was defeated and the Americans realized they were facing an angry enemy. An attack at Fort McHenry was turned back. Francis Scott Key wrote about what it was like in the a song, "The Star-Spangled Banner." The British did, however, make it to Washington where they burned the White House and the Capitol Building. Eventually a piece treaty was signed in Ghent. But before word got out and before the treaty was ratified by Congress and Parliament there was one last major battle. The prize of the war would have been New Orleans. Control of the delta meant access to the Mississippi. Even had both sides known the treaty had been signed, this battle might have been fought to give the British better terms before the first treaty was ratified.

    The British had 10,000 men led by thirty-six-year old Major General Sir Edward S. Peckenham, who had a very good record in the Napoleonic War. Commanding the American troops with about half as many men was Andrew Jackson.

    On December 23 Jackson stopped Packenham' advance nine miles from the city. He attacked at night and stopped them by the Rodriguez Canal. They held the Americans pinned down there for better than two weeks. In spite of an infantry attack and artillery attack, Packenham could not move the Americans. The Americans we protected by the natural embankment near the canal almost like a trench. Complicating matters was that all British materials had to be ferried 64 miles.

    The actual battle of New Orleans took place on the morning of October 8, 1815. It took less than two hours. He had two flanks of troops at the two sides of a wide, short rectangle across a sugar cane field, now cut down to stubble. The American rampart formed along a canal at the far side of the rectangle.

    Toward the back of the left flank he had his crack Highlanders to come to the assistance of either flank that had trouble. It was a foggy morning. The troops that ran into trouble earliest were the ones on the right flank so Peckenham had his highlanders march diagonally across the battlefield, nearly parallel to the American rampart, almost but not quite like parading ducks in a shooting gallery. When the fog cleared the Americans caught the beautiful sight of enemy troops just marching right to left in front of their guns. They had hunting and squirrel guns, slow to reload, but they line up in four rows along the rampart. The front row would fire and go to the back, reloading while the other three rows fired and then moved to the back. By the time the gunner was back to the front he was ready to fire. And there was a Highlander right in front, obligingly marching to the left. It was a lousy day to be a Highlander and for most their last.

    The Highlanders were pretty much cut to pieces by the continuous rifle shots. Peckenham went to the back of his right flank. He was hit with an American bullet and was killed. The net result was a little less than two hours of battle, with 2000 British killed or injured, six Americans killed, and seven more injured.

    The movie The Buccaneer said that Jean Laffitte and his pirates made a big difference, but their telling guns and powder did more than the manpower, according to the park ranger. It was much more a bad order from a good commander and really bad luck with the weather. The British lost their attempt to get control of the river, and Jackson became a national hero.

    There was a ranger giving a lecture, mostly for a group off a tour boat. Then we went to the Visitors Center and saw a short film, mostly covering what was in the lecture.

    It takes about a half hour to drive the loop that shows you the important places of the battle. The effect is a little damaged by the large ugly refinery off in one direction and the boats on the canal in another.

    After touring the battlefield I realized that I did not know how many British were killed in the battle. A total of about 2000 were killed or injured, but I had no idea of the breakdown. There was a ranger there and another woman. I asked what the breakdown was and was somewhat surprised to find out that a park ranger stationed at the battlefield did not know how many British were killed in the battle. It seems like one of the basic statistics. They should at least have some place to look it up. But they didn't want to guess and had no idea. Some of the other National Parks had people there who really knew the subject matter, but these were apparently more caretakers than experts.

    We had been warned that it would be difficult to get rooms in Baton Rouge because of the game, but it seemed to be easy enough. We just tried Motel 6 and got it. After looking up and down the road we went to a Greek and Lebanese place for dinner in a shopping center. It is called Kabob's. I ordered the lemonade, but I have to start saying that I don't want much ice. What I got was a glass of ice with a little lemonade in the holes.

    We walked around the shopping center looking for a place to get TV Guide, but did not find one. Back at the room I researched Vicksburg for the next day and worked on the log.

    09/06/97--Vicksburg, Mississippi:

    There was a Waffle House behind our motel. I had never eaten at a Waffle House. It was okay, though I didn't get a whole lot. I guess that is okay also.

    Our first stop of the day is the Louisiana State Capitol Building. This was build during the administration of Huey Long, a.k.a. the Kingfish. Long was one of the great corrupt populist politicians and demagogues of American history. He did a lot of good for Louisiana, a lot of bad for Louisiana, and a lot of good for himself. He robbed from the rich and gave to public works programs. He raised the poor from poverty to slums. He left a legacy of stone, stone roads and the stone Capitol building. The roads gave him kickbacks or contracts went to friends. But when possible he put the road someplace useful. He just kept winning elections. Of course, if you got a government job you were expected to donate 10% of your salary to the Huey Long campaign fund. And if you already had a government job you had to think about what you wanted to do in your next job which you could start looking for as soon as you stopped giving 10% to the Huey Long campaign fund. Huey Long was the kind of guy someone should have shot. Even Huey Long thought so. And eventually someone did.

    You enter the state house and realize it was intended to be more magnificent than the National Capitol in Washington. Everything is a lot larger than life. The front hall of the building has thirty-foot ceilings with fifteen-foot chandeliers. There are twelve-foot high marble statues, huge murals, marble floors.

    Evelyn was a little disappointed that they really do tell you where and how Long was shot in the elevator lobby behind the main hall. She had a book called Unauthorized America which tells you about the places kept secret. It turns out this was not suppressed information after all. It was not forbidden fruit.

    But the book did tell in more detail how it happened. It was a young ear, nose, and throat specialist whose father-in-law was gerrymandered out of a political appointment. He got mad and shot the Kingfish. I guess I would be remiss not mentioning the film version of the whole story, All the King's Men starring Broderick Crawford. The first time I saw it was for cinema class at UMass. Halfway through they stopped the film and said they had to evacuate the building because of a bomb threat. A bunch of people were willing to risk our lives to see the rest of the film. I have seen it since.

    Drive away from the State House and just a block away you are in slums. A lot of Louisiana seems to have slum living with dignity and perhaps a little class.

    As we drive along the roads we pass the restaurant chains we have at home. Oh, if you really look you can find some regional restaurants, but you mostly see the same places you eat at home. Makes you feel really comfortable. I put on the radio. As I scan the radio bands I hear the same music and stations that sound the same as the music we have at home. Oh, if you really look you can find some regional music, but you mostly hear the same music you hear at home. That makes you feel really comfortable too. Travel is becoming less and less important. When I get home I will have some Domino's Pizza delivered, turn on the radio, sit under a sun lamp and I'll be back in Louisiana.

    One thing that is characteristically South is bugs. It sounds like rain hitting the windshield and you get in a few seconds literally hundreds of bug smears. I picture our car making a large tunnel through a swarm of bugs.

    I love these country music lyrics. "Pardon me, you left your tears on the jukebox, and I'm afraid they got mixed up with mine."

    In a wooded drive we cross the line to Mississippi. It is another hour or two to Vicksburg. We went directly to the park visitor center and got the orientation information.

    Key to either side's victory in the Civil War was transportation and supply lines. And the most important object in supplying either side was the Mississippi River. For the South it was the highway to being forces and supplies north from Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. For the North it was also a highway of supplies and at the same time a means for driving a spike right through the heart of the South, separating it into two pieces of nearly equal size. But Vicksburg stood on a bluff overlooking a bend in the river and was like a "Gibraltar of the West." Vicksburg had a four-mile stretch of cannons aimed at the river. For Grant to capture would have been to turn the South's most powerful weapon against the Confederacy, and that was exactly what he determined to do. The Union captured fort after fort on the Mississippi until only Vicksburg and Port Hudson remained stubbornly unobtainable.

    The Jefferson Davis gave General John C. Pemberton command of 50,000 men with orders to keep the Mississippi open, though he was to take his orders from General Joseph E. Johnston. Giving Pemberton two masters to serve would have dire effects.

    Grant tried fighting his way to Vicksburg from the north with naval support. He was always repulsed before he could get close. Nothing worked for him. Then Grant thought of a bold plan. He wanted to attack Vicksburg from the south. He marched his men south, flanking Vicksburg on the west. To do this he had to have a 1700-man army attack Pemberton's supply lines in a maneuver that was only a diversion. By the time Pemberton realized Grant was to the south of him there was not much he could do but puzzle about why Grant even wanted to be there. Pemberton was not alone. Grant's friend W. T. Sherman under Grant's command could make no sense of it either. There Grant was without any supplies or support. The commander had gone to a lot of effort for no apparent benefit.

    Grant then ordered Admiral David Porter to try to sneak his gunboats past Vicksburg on a dark moonless night. The fort saw and sunk one navy transport but missed most of Porter's gunboats. Grant was cut off from supplies, but he was fighting his way north instead of south.

    Grant's men lived off the land stealing whole farms clean. One story says a Southern farmer rode up on a mule to complain to a division commander that his bluecoats had picked the farmer's land clean, leaving him nothing. "They weren't my men," insisted the general. "I'm sure they were." "Nope, my men would not have left you that mule."

    The defenses to the south of Vicksburg were weaker and Grant was able to fight his way, using Porter to ferry his men when necessary. On May 17, 1863, Grant beat Pemberton's last defensive forces back into Vicksburg. Now Grant could attack the city. Sherman was just amazed. To him it looked like a long chain of random and haphazard moves on Grant's part. But when they were over there was Vicksburg and there was Grant right next to it ready to attack it. The strategy gave Grant what seemed impossible before, a shot at capturing Vicksburg and with it the Mississippi. For Sherman it was like watching an episode of Mission Impossible would be for us. But now Grant was in proximity of the city had to take it.

    Twice Grant tried direct frontal assaults on the fortress city and twice he failed. He later said that he knew frontal assault would never work, but that his men would never have put up with his next step if there was a more direct alternative. Grant determined that he could not go to the defenders of Vicksburg, they would have to come to him. He instituted a siege against the city. For a month and a half Grant lay siege to the city while Pemberton and his men went hungry unable to get food into the city.

    The city became desperate for food. Mule and rat meat started appearing in the market when it was available. Pea-bread replaced normal bread. It was made from bean flour. The outside was rock-hard while the inside remained mushy. Dogs and cats disappeared mysteriously.

    People took to hiding from the fire in manmade caves on the hillside. They were hot and mosquito infested. Vicksburg prayed for deliverance to come, but it never did. An army under General Johnston was nearby but dared not challenge Grant. Pemberton sent messages to Johnston asking for relief. Johnston ordered Pemberton to join him outside of Vicksburg to fight Grant. (It is a matter of speculation what Johnston's plan was and if it would have worked. Johnston was a master of the indirect.)

    Grant had attacked Johnston earlier in the campaign, but only to cover his real plans which were now unfolded. Still Johnston would not face Grant without Pemberton and Pemberton would not leave Vicksburg to Grant in order to join Johnston. Pemberton at first promised the town that Johnston was coming, but he never did. Pemberton's men started threatening mutiny.

    On July 3, the forty-seventh day of the siege, Pemberton asked to discuss Grant's surrender terms. Grant would make no terms but unconditional surrender. Pemberton refused. The two men separated. But in communication by courier later that night they came to an agreement. Grant offered terms that all the men had to agree to fight no more unless exchanged for Union soldiers. Mounted officers could keep a horse and sidearms. The next day, July 4, at 10 AM, Pemberton surrendered. In one day the Confederacy had lost at Vicksburg and at Gettysburg. From that day on the South would be fighting a losing war.

    It stung Pemberton and people in Vicksburg terribly that they surrendered on July 4. However the Union soldiers who entered their city showed little but awe at the courage of the defenders of Vicksburg and readily shared their rations. They opened the storehouses of hoarders and speculators and fed the rebel soldiers in good spirit. At least this is what James McPherson tells us in his book Battle Cry of Freedom. Southern reporter Alexander St. Clair Abrams reports that the city objected strongly to Pemberton's surrender and that the first of Grant's men to enter the city were little more than looting vandals. Later Federal troops that came were much more respectful, at least those above the rank of private.

    Grant would later claim that with the fall of Vicksburg, the fate of the Confederacy was sealed.

    Four days later Port Hudson also surrendered and the Union had unrestricted use of the Mississippi.

    (An absolutely indispensable aid for writing about the Civil War or visiting a Civil War site is our cassette of Cliff Edelman's score to the film GETTYSBURG, quite possibly the best historical film ever made. Somehow the film and the score makes the whole misguided fight seem noble.)

    Rather than take the direct frontal assault on the battlefield, we marshaled our forces. We left the park and got a room for the night at the local Super 8 Motel.

    For lunch we stopped at a fast food place called Granddaddy's. We went up to the counter and ordered from a woman who was obviously anxious to get back to her table, her cigarette, and to staring off into space. I think she resented our interruption. We ordered anyway. I got a Muffeletta. It is like a hot cold cut sandwich.

    Fortified for the hot adventure ahead we returned to the battleground for the driving tour. We had purchased for $4.50 an audio tape that was a guide to the battleground. This has got to be the most over-monumented stretch of ground in the country. There are hundreds of separate monuments. Each state that had men who died had multiple monuments up to commemorate their courage. Ohio must have dozens. Perhaps hundreds.

    You drive all over the battlefield seeing where such and such a General had his gun emplacements for such and such a battle. In the middle of this is a site having nothing to do with the Battle of Vicksburg. In December of 1862 one of seven sister ironclads for the Union was torpedoed. Actually it had a bomb attached to it and the bomb was detonated by wires from shore. The U. S. S. Cairo sank to the bottom of the Mississippi. The ship was commissioned on January 16, 1862. It was sunk December 12, 1862. One hundred and two years later to the day, December 12, 1964, the Cairo was brought up from the Mississippi mud. To say it was restored would be misleading. There is a bit more there than the frame, but most of it is not there. But you can see its ironclad hull, its engines, where its cannons were. Just about everything. Beside it is a whole museum devoted to the artifacts found inside. You can see an assortment of bottles, there's the Bosun's whistle, fifes, boots, scissors, signal bells, a cannon, and lots of good stuff. The boat is 175 feet long and 51 feet wide.

    There is also a Hebrew cemetery.

    We completed the battleground tour at about 6 PM. We drove around Vicksburg for an hour looking at old houses. We got back to the motel about 7 PM and watch the last two hours of a three-hour documentary on D. W. Griffith. It asks the question about how this great filmmaker could have failed so much in the end. The problem with Griffith, in my opinion, was that even his most successful films were weak melodrama.

    He made them at a time when the public could be moved by weak melodrama. They were manipulative stories well-told. I don't think Griffith changed, I think public tastes are what changed. Intolerance has a good message, but the stories are individually mediocre. A story about human intolerance does not need a race at the end to hold our interest. Of course, some of his philosophy has made it to exploitation films of today. Now I sort of respect his Broken Blossoms. But with everything else wrong with Birth Of A Nation it is just a sort of silly story. It is a long way from being a decent film by later standards.

    09/07/97--Biloxi, Mississippi: Jefferson Davis Museum:

    Well, this morning we will be at the 60% point of our trip. This is the kind of trip it will be hard to describe for people when they ask what did we see. It is like asking when you used to trick or treat, what kind of candy did you get. Well, it was a little bit of this and little bit of that and a bit of this third thing. It wasn't predominantly anything.

    Breakfast was at the Waffle House. I ordered a Chili Omelet. The waitress commented that it was different. Different was what I was looking for. I did not get the "World Famous Hashbrowns." What the heck makes something world famous, anyway? Does that mean somebody in another country knows about them? That is one of those meaningless adjectives. For that matter Hitler was world famous. It isn't necessary to be good to be world famous.

    As we drive toward Jackson the car passes 150,000 miles. It is still going. Toyotas are good cars.

    It might have been worth it to see the art museum in Jackson, but it would have meant sitting around there three hours or so until it opened. It is a hot, lazy, Sunday morning.

    Mississippi is the state with the lowest per capita income in the country. Looking through the AAA book it seems to have just about the fewest attractions of any state. Well, if that is the case the United States must be doing something right. It is a pleasant drive. We probably saw more poverty in Louisiana. Nice countryside. I might not expect to find the Bolshoi Ballet dancing anywhere nearby, but if things don't get a lot worse than what I am seeing in Mississippi, things aren't too bad.

    We pass a sign for a "Psychic and Tarrot Reader." Not psychic enough to know how to spell "tarot."

    In Hattiesburg there is a University Pawn Shop. It has a big sign in front saying "Hock it to Doc."

    Another thing I have seen is somebody sells a do-it-yourself Calvary Kit. A bunch of places I have seen identical groupings of three crosses. Two white crosses about twelve feet high and a yellow one fifteen feet high in the center. I have seen this about ten times in ten different places and each time the crosses look identical. Someone must sell a kit.

    We pass a place selling military surplus. On their front lawn they have two tanks. Evelyn says they are probably decoration rather than sales items. I wouldn't bet on it. There are people hereabout with some funny ideas.

    I think this is the mating season for the bugs that go splat on the windshield. When you stop the car they seem to land on the car in back to back joined pairs. You drive past a forest and they go splattering over the front of your car. They go out in a blaze of sex and glory. I don't know whether to feel sorry for them or envy them. Maybe I'll just squeegee them off the windshield and not give it much thought. We drive through the DeSoto National Forest.

    The radio plays a tall tale of a New York City fireman. This is a children's program from Public Radio. But New York seems to be a wonderful and exotic place. I have to visit that New York some day. Maybe some day we go in for bookstores we will look for it.

    There is a sign for a Bible Factory Outlet.

    We get to Biloxi. Looks like a nice town but there is something of a mystery. It is a mile or so from 28th Street to 14th Street. It is only a few hundred yards from 14th to the beach. There are a bunch of missing streets somewhere. It has a beautiful long beach with white sand. Apparently after Labor Day there just is not much swimming. At least that is what we were told. At the turn of the century, I have been told, that nobody really swam much. It seems a pity for Davis to have had this beach and not swim.

    Beauvoir is something of a minor site of history. It is Jefferson Davis's last home. Beauvoir was acquired by Sarah Dorsey in 1873 by Sarah Dorsey who had invited Davis for a visit. He rented one of the buildings then rather than leave he bought the estate. He lived there from 1877, twelve years after the Civil War ended, until his death twelve years after that. There he wrote his memoirs and a history of the Civil War from the Confederate viewpoint. The setting is terrific with a charming view of the Gulf in the front and a nice garden in back. Just a short distance back is a railroad track that could bring visitors. After he died in 1889 his family sold the estate to be used a home for Confederate veterans and their wives, widows, servants, and orphans. By 1940 the numbers of people qualifying dropped off and by 1956 the home could be closed. Today the estate is a modest museum to Jefferson Davis and the Civil War.

    What makes this museum unusual is that instead of being owned by the government, it is owned by the Mississippi Division of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. This means that they don't have to be even-handed. The film has slaves who fought for the confederacy then were forced to fight for the Union, but who claim they avoided helping the Union. The bookstore has books like The South Was Right by Kennedy and Kennedy (no, not those Kennedys). But the point of view is that Jefferson Davis was near to God. His artifacts are illuminated with Biblical quotes like "Verily, verily, I say unto you: he that readeth

    my word and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life." The whole museum is subtitled "A Memorial to the Lost Cause."

    The film they run to explain what it is all about tells how Davis's daughter announced she was engaged to and wanted to marry a man she knew. When it came out that she was to marry the son of a pre-war abolitionist there was an uproar and she agreed to break the engagement. This is given as an example of her nobility.

    The museum does not have a large collection. They have a death mask and catafalque. Then there are more standard items like a cannon, Southern uniforms, that sort of thing. One novelty item is a picture of Jefferson Davis with vertical struts. Look at it straight on and you don't see the struts. Look at it from the left and you see only the left sides of the struts and it becomes a picture of Stonewall Jackson. Looked on from the right it is a picture of Robert E. Lee.

    I was listening to another couple, perhaps sixty years old. Both speak with Southern accents. She sees a picture of Jefferson Davis and asks if he was a President. Her husband explains that he was the President of the Confederate states during the Civil War. It is a moment of culture shock for me and I find out later for Evelyn. It is hard for be to believe this woman does not know who Jefferson Davis was. It is doubly strange since she has a Southern accent. It is triply strange: why come to a museum of Jefferson Davis not knowing who he is?

    We walk the grounds and see a little of how Davis lived toward the end of his life. But this tells us little about the Civil War.

    There is a separate building for Davis's library. I look at the books on the shelf and clearly the originals have been removed and replaced by books from a used book store. My guess is that this was done in the 1960s since I notice on the shelf the spy novel Tree Frog by Martin Woodhouse. There is also a eader's Digest collection of condensed classics including Madame Curie.

    As we walk the grounds we learn a little about Southern gentility, but not too much about Davis himself. I don't have a lot of feel for the man. He is so loved in the South but he was only a moderately good commander. He did not really understand warfare even of his own time. He does not seem to have had a lot of personality. I was hoping something here would make him come alive for me, but there is nothing here but a stiff inflexible old man. He was a stiff inflexible young man. His idea of good warfare was two armies meeting on the battlefield and the South trouncing the North. Joe Johnston may have been able to do more good for their side by using guerrilla war tactics, hit and run, but that was not what Davis wanted. Maybe he had his sense of honor wrapped up in it, like the Japanese not wanting to win if they had to use a dishonorable weapon like the gun. But I don't see a great man in Davis. Maybe you have to be Southern.

    There are a lot of grounds to walk including a graveyard out back.

    Evelyn wanted seafood for dinner and she picked a place, though it was not very good. I had oyster stew and two crabs. They turned out to be stuffed and not very good. Evelyn had cold-boiled shrimp and they were a bit mushy. This should be a good area for seafood. This is certainly a shrimping region. If you saw FORREST GUMP, I believe we are in Bubba-Gump territory. Well, that may be further south. The whole Gulf coast is shrimping grounds.

    We stop to get gas and to wash the Insect Dead from our car. The splats are in the low thousands probably. Gandhi would not be able to drive these roads at all. You can tell the cars that have come a distance from local traffic. Distance traveling causes a real accumulation of The Insect Dead.

    As we got close to Mobile, Alabama, I started looking for a place for the night. The front-runners seemed to be Hampton Inn for comfort at about $61 or a place called Olsson's that was cheap, about $31. Evelyn voted for cheap. We tried Olsson's. They charged $29, less than what they were listed for in AAA. Olsson's family have apparently been running a motel here since 1936. This is our cheapest night so far. We got two queen-sized beds, cable TV, a refrigerator in the room. The room is a little dark but it is one of the best motels so far and is at the same time the cheapest. The one little weird thing is that they want us to unplug the TV and the refrigerator when we go out.

    Turner Classic Movies is running a marathon showing of the documentary series HOLLYWOOD. Of course, we are crazy about film history. I had seen it before, but I watch it again for the parts I had missed. I try to write in my log while it is on, but it is about silent film and keeps dragging my attention away.

    At 11 PM it is over and I work on my log till 11:30 PM. I slept better than most nights.

    09/08/97--Mobile, Alabama: Forts and Battleship Memorial Park:

    I like being on the road. What I will not miss is having a thermostat that keeps things at a nice even temperature and a toilet that flushes. These are the most common mechanical devices in motels and the ones that seem to be the least reliable.

    We each woke up about 6:45 AM. We agreed that while the room seemed nice, the thermostat needed improvement. Evelyn was warm at times. I was cold. But even as we sat there I went from cold to warm.

    We were out of the room about 8 AM or earlier. There must be a refinery near us someplace. There is an unpleasant odor on the road. There seem to be a lot of refineries in this area. There are few industries that so make an area unpleasant as oil refineries. The ones in New Jersey have gotten considerably better but we still turn the air on recirculation when we drive the New Jersey Turnpike. I suppose I should not complain. When I was growing up my income came from the chemical industry. My father was a polymer chemist. He worked places like Nitro, West Virginia. Boy, did that place smell bad. Sulfur was the smell, if I remember.

    We cross a long white bridge to Dauphin Island. We were hoping to pass a place to get breakfast. There does not seem to be much.

    We get to Fort Gaines. The sign says "Established in 1821 for defense of Mobile Bay and named in honor of General Edmund Pendleton Gaines, 1777-1749 who played an important part in early Alabama History and while Commandant of Fort Stoddard captured Aaron Burr near McIntosh in February 1807." I could not have said it better myself.

    Breakfast was some handfuls of dry cereal and some orange-ade, part of this balanced breakfast... Balanced on the dashboard.

    Late in the Civil War Mobile Bay was the last post still useable by the ships blockade running. The South had two large forts on either side of the bay. On August 5, 1864, David Farragut took fourteen wooden ships and four Monitors to the entrance of Mobile Bay and began a battle with Fort Gaines the largest of three forts on the bay. The smoke was so bad that Farragut climbed a mast and had himself lashed there to see he battle above the smoke. The leading Monitor, the Tecumseh, hit a mine and sank. This stopped the fleet in range of the guns. A way was needed to get through the mines. Farragut decided to use his flagship risking the life of all on board. "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead." By luck he found a path through the minefield and the fleet used it. Inside the bay the fleet could pound the three forts at will and three weeks later the forts fell and the blockade was water-tight.

    Fort Gaines itself is not well maintained. The guide leaflet has a walking tour, but not one that always exactly corresponds to the numbered posts. The fort is five-sided with cannon turrets at the corners. It is mostly brick with concrete reinforcements.

    When Ken Burns was doing research for his Civil War documentary one of his researchers came upon a letter one of the soldiers-Sullivan Ballou-sent his wife, read it, and started crying right there. In it, the soldier wrote that he did not know if he would survive. If he did die she should know that he loved her and if there is any way his spirit can return when she feels the breeze on her cheek, that will be him and in the

    afterlife they will be together again. It is a difficult letter to read without crying, especially knowing that he did die in his next battle. They quote the letter at the exhibit. But they point out that he never actually mailed the letter. He did mail two or three "chatty" letters dated after the letter in question. This may mean that he never intended to send the letter or perhaps he wanted it to be received only if he died. The exhibit called it the best-known letter of the Civil War. I only knew it through the Ken Burns documentary.

    My very dear Sarah:

    The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days-perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

    Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure-and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine O God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing-perfectly willing-to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

    But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows-when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children-is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?

    I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death-and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.

    I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles I have often advocated before the people and "the name of honor that I love more than I fear death" have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

    Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

    The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me-perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar-that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

    Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

    But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night-amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours-always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

    Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

    As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God's blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.

  • Sullivan
  • [Source: Brown University Alumni Quarterly (Nov. 1990): 38-42]

    I thought the sales tax was bad in New Jersey at 6%. In Massachusetts it is only 5%. But standard seems to be 8% give or take a little. Where we are it is cheaper and we have toll roads. The roads are a pain, but I prefer that to so much sales tax.

    Our second fort goes back to the Revolutionary war. Sign says: "The Revolutionary war at mobile: Siege of fort Charlotte (Conde) 1780 -- Spain, America's ally, declared war on Great Britain in June 1779. Bernardo de Galvez, governor of Spanish Louisiana at New Orleans, led the attack against the British along the lower Mississippi River and Gulf Coast. In February 1780, Galvez laid siege upon British forces here at Ft. Charlotte resulting in its surrender and the capture of the City of Mobile, March 14, 1780. Galvez next captured Pensacola and accepted the British surrender at West Florida, May 9, 1781, thus aiding the American colonists by removing the British threat from the Gulf of Mexico."

    There is a fifteen-minute tape, but it is of little historical interest and it is much more about pleasures of a modern Mobile, Alabama. There seems to be competition between Mobile and New Orleans. They are dredging the river to get some of the port traffic that currently goes to New Orleans. They are very proud of having an older Marti Gras than New Orleans also.

    The fort has been restored with totally modern materials, has azaleas growing and a nicely manicured garden to almost entirely destroy the historic feel. The idea is to make this a pleasant place to walk on a lunch break from shopping in the city or from a trying office job.

    There is a small museum inside. They have examples of ads from before the Civil War including one with the following newspaper ad: "STOP THE RUNAWAY! Left my service at the mouth of Dog River on Monday morning the 23rd inst. About four o'clock A.M. my Negro slave HENRY: He is 22 years of age, very black, a smiling countenance and considered very likely---From information derived from other Negros since Henry's desertion, I have no doubt but that it is his intention to get himself smuggled if possible, on River Bar. Masters and owners of vessels are therefor particularly requested to observe he does not secret himself with the cargo. A liberal reward will be paid for Henry's apprehension and delivery to me, at the mouth of Dog River, or secured in Mobile Jail. E. Montgomery" I hope Henry got away. As for the fort, there is no point in calling it a fort any more. It has become a chic street decoration. What a thing to do.

    After that we hit the big event of the day, Battleship Memorial Park. This is a military museum really. The U. S. S. Alabama was saved from the scrap and docked here so that Alabamans could see it. Right behind it is a submarine, the U. S. S. Drum. You can tour each.

    The tour of the U. S. S. Alabama is really complete. It is hard to imagine that there are nooks or crannies that one of the three pieces of the tour does not pick up. The tour is broken in thirds, each of which starts and ends in an easily accessible place, so they call them three tours, but really they form one long walking tour. You see just about everything from engines to latrines, the kitchen, the ice cream parlor, the dentists' office, the mess hall, navigation and plotting rooms, even where the film projector is stored for the nightly movie. It's the whole enchilada. There is a lot of climbing and going down steps. Most of the ship is hot though every once in a while you pass where they are piping in a cool breeze. The final part of the tour is the upper decks including gun emplacements and the bridge. And for most of the way they pipe in big band dance music. The Alabama is 680 feet long and 108 feet wide.

    Between the two boats we stopped at the Aircraft Pavilion where they have ten aircraft or so on display including an SR-71 Blackbird. (They have it under a more generic name: an A-something.)

    Finally we went through the Drum, 311.7 feet long, 27.3 feet wide. You enter at the fore and walk pretty much the length. You can climb up the conning tower and look through the periscope. You walk through the engine room, the mess room, etc.

    Then off to Montgomery. In the car we put on a cassette of The Scarlet Pimpernel. It has nothing to do with the South, but it passes the time. The weather which had been quite hot then cooled off for a day or so is back as hot as ever. It must be hard living under such heat all the time. I think we have lost much of the humidity though. We are in a way from the Gulf.

    We get to Montgomery and check into the Super 8. Then we go up and down the road looking for a good place to eat. Amazingly enough every restaurant we see we have a really good idea what it is like. That is because the restaurants we see are exclusively national chains. McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Arby's Roast Beef, Pizza Hut. There is a place called Omelet House. That's a new restaurant to me. I got here too late and it has died. I guess the name is just not familiar enough. People were not sure to ten decimal places what the food was like. How can they expect to survive? We went to Taco Bell. I have a Chili-Cheese burrito and a taco. They have a new sauce in their little packets. They call it "Fire" level sauce. I know what you are expecting me to say. That it is not hot enough. Not so. (Well, it would be true and yes, I would like it hotter. But that is not my point.) What is interesting is that there is demand for hotter sauces. The country is getting better in this regard. People like their food spicier. That's good. I don't know if we are getting a different ethnic mix, if people are getting more sophisticated, or if people are more health-conscious. (Yes, spicy food is healthy. So to some extent is chocolate, but spicy food is more so.) Our local grocery stores even have hot sauces we used to have to order by mail.

    Well, back at the room we watch some Agatha Christies on Arts & Entertainment. I think they lean more to the entertainment side and less arts. They never show operas any more.

    09/09/97--Tuskegee and Montgomery, Alabama: Historical buildings and Civil Rights sites:

    Well, tonight we will be two-thirds of the way through the trip. The days seem to be going a lot faster now. Of course, we still have nearly two weeks to go.

    I had strange dreams of which only the words "mango pie" remain. I have never heard of mango pie, but I suppose there is no reason you couldn't have it. A mango is pretty much the same consistency as a peach.

    I read in a local tour brochure "Dr. Luther Hill, a local physician, performed one of the world's first successful open-heart surgeries right here in Montgomery." I am not sure I believe it was one of the first. I bet they are discounting a whole bunch that were successful but did not have high-minded goals.

    For breakfast we go to a Shoney's. I guess Shoney is on their own these days. It used to be Shoney's Big Boy. Different places different names seemed to get the Big Boy franchise. They have to find some way to counter-advertise the Taco Bells and Pizza Huts. Their combination sounds pretty tame. So they advertise "classic American cuisine." Their menu is still pretty humdrum. Just about everybody here for breakfast is here for the breakfast buffet. I just want to eat simple. Pancakes and syrup. That is probably the healthiest. I would have liked some protein, but it all comes to tightly bound to cholesterol.

    This is one of our few gray mornings. We have had good luck this trip. On the way we listen to Public Radio. In Canada they are suing politicians who knowingly lied to their constituents. It sounds like a good idea to me. Of course, I can see how it could end in a great deal of litigation.

    They also talked about the intimate connection of smoking and the military. The American military encouraged smoking as a form of recreation getting servicemen hooked. They gave an example where men being exercised were given a break to smoke. If they didn't want to smoke, they were expected to fill the time with push-ups or pull-ups.

    It is about a forty-five-minute drive to Tuskegee and the Tuskegee Institute.

    The Visitors Center is in a house with parking behind for three cars. They don't get a lot of people at the visitor center. We dropped in to see if there was a tour and were told that You can get that at the Carver Center. It leaves something of a mystery as to why have a visitor center at all. I am not sure what it is for.

    We went primarily to see the George Washington Carver Museum. The exhibit starts with a somewhat slow but otherwise good biographical film about the life of Carver. Carver was born a couple of months prior to the opening of the Civil War. He grew up with a fascination with nature and science. He would ask questions like "if a flower grows from a seed, can you change the seed to change the color of the flower."

    Eventually he came to teach at the Tuskegee Institute. He answered an offer from Booker T. Washington to teach. He got to the Institute to find his laboratory was totally unfunded, he did not even have a room for it. He found that he could get what he needed from waste dumps. He taught that weeds were just valuable plants in the wrong place. He found medicinal purposes for them. Of course, there was the famous work convincing farmers to rotate their crops and to use something that would put nitrogen back into the soil like peanuts. Then he set to work to find applications for the peanut. He found three hundred uses for the nut or its oil, sufficient to make his county the most affluent in the state. He never married, he was married to his work. He rarely cashed paychecks.

    The museum has artifacts of his life including large jars of vegetables he grew in conjunction with his research. And they have things like the van he drove as a traveling school. They have a typewriter he used, and also recordings of his voice and that of Booker T. Washington.

    They have examples of some of the papers he wrote, most fairly down to earth. They had names like "How to Grow the Tomato and 115 Ways to Prepare it for the Table" and "How to Make Sweet Potato Flour, tarch, Sugar Bread, and Mock Cocoanut."

    Following that we drove back to Montgomery. Our destination was the first Confederate White House. Jefferson Davis began to use this house February 21, 1861, and used it for just a few months until that summer when Davis moved to Richmond. The house was not even at its present location but was moved to downtown Montgomery to be a museum. It is a little more resplendent than Beauvoir as his fortunes were somewhat higher when he lived there. I suppose there are some people who can look at the dining room and bedroom that the president confederacy used and think they understand the war better. I still would say that it is only slightly less of a footnote than was Beauvoir. Do I really care about Jeff Davis's tea service? Unlike at Beauvoir the books in the library are relevant to the South and would have at least interested Davis. For example, there was his history of the Confederacy. How would history have been different if that history had found its way to his shelf in 1861? Other books were The South in the Building of the Nation and The Literature of the South. Other artifacts from his life include the Confederate flag from his casket, his backgammon board, a piece of Stonewall Jackson's coat, Coffee cups presented by the Sultan of Turkey, a hat worn habitually by him at Beauvoir, and the pen that signed the Alabama ordinance of secession.

    Our next stop was the State Archive and History Museum. They have a nice taped tour of this museum provided free of charge.

    It starts with a hall of bronze busts. These are important people from Alabama's history. The ones who were recognizable were the ones whose contribution had something to do with race. I guess most of the rest of Alabama history did not make national news or was of national interest. Evelyn points out the busts involved with race issues are also the newer busts. The state was not honoring Booker T. Washington seventy-five years ago. Now they think he was pretty good.

    "Stilled Voices, Forgotten Ways" is an exhibit of the first Alabamans, the Indians. Of course, the tone is very, very sad. These are people we never got a chance to know. By feeling so sad about what happened to the Indians we demonstrate that we are right-feeling people who would never in a million years be involved in hurting the American Indian. We are the ones who want to hear their stilled voices. We even went to see POCAHONTAS and learn about the colors of the wind. Do we want to give back their land to them? Well, no. It's our land now. How about paying higher taxes to make some reparations to the Indians? Sorry, we can't afford that right now. But we do feel bad about those stilled voices. I liked the quote on the tape "By the time of the arrival of the first European explorers in this area the Indians of the Mississippian had reached the peak of their civilization." It sounds like they had already peaked out. I think by definition they had reached their peak because they were not allowed to develop any more. So Montgomery mourns the loss of the Indians and Memphis represented freedom to the slaves. And everybody takes pride in their history. Nobody says, "WE were wrong. "

    There is a room of Confederate Militia Uniforms and artifacts like swords, Civil War handguns, etc.

    Then they have exhibits with the same sort of thing for each of the major wars since then, starting with the Spanish-American War and going through the Persian Gulf War.

    Tattered Banners is a collection of original Civil War flags. Another room shows on wallpaper a panoramic painting of the French at Aigleville. There is a room of old artifacts including doctors instruments from the time of the Civil War. They are in good condition and the amputation saw still works. There is a no-frills typewriter that is little more than just the keys and the roller. It must have been made that way to be portable. There is a chamber pot with picture of union general, more or less as a negative editorial comment. Another exhibit has a hands-on room for kids to be able to touch toys of the time, dresses, and a stereoscope.

    The Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church is the Church where Martin Luther King, Jr., came to national prominence as a young man. Built from bricks salvaged from streets dug up, the church stands about one block from the steps of the State House. The sign out front and the AAA book says tours daily at 10 AM and 2 PM, but there were only a couple of people there. The woman who answered the door said she was the one who gave the tours but we were told curtly "we don't give tours for just two people." There was, however, a tape telling about the history of the church and about the career of King. Then there is a mural showing scenes from the life of King and important people in the civil rights movement culminating in a picture of King, dressed like Christ, ascending to heaven. Then we were allowed to go up and see the sanctuary. By this point it was about 2:30 AM and we decided it would be a good idea to get some lunch. There did not seem to be a good place to eat nearby so we drove off to the south (to the right when you face the State House) and there seemed to be nothing there either. To the north we found a Wendy's.

    We drove back and parked in front of the State House. The Alabama State House is more like a grand mansion than the palatial Louisiana State House. It has a large spiral staircase and a big rotunda three or four stories up three or four stories. The style of art reminded me a lot of the ceiling murals from the Kalavala on the ceiling of the museum in Helsinki. You know what I mean? Same use of color. Right.

    There were portraits of former Alabama Governors including, of course George and Lurleen Wallace who were governors in a sort of tag team to get around the law. Our first week of the trip we were on the road and missed the big TV biography of George Wallace. I will say this for Wallace, he did say the three words you almost never hear from anybody and certainly not from a politician. When talking about his racist policies the has said "I was wrong." Not "I was fulfilling the will of the people," not "circumstances were different then," not "I was mis-advised." After all these years he does show a bit of class. Contrition is rare.

    After that we went a few blocks over to the Civil Rights Memorial of the Southern Poverty Law Center. This is a memorial by Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. It is dedicated to a quote by Martin Luther King designed around King's quote "We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." It is a stone wall and a circular stone table, each with a glassy surface that is flowing water. The table lists out radially forty incidents, most of people being killed for the cause of civil rights. As Lin says, "this is not a monument to suffering; it is a memorial to hope." I suspect she meant to reverse "monument" and "memorial." Even so, if you cannot tell yourself, she made a mistake. I guess I have a right to be critical. I am a long-time member of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    On the way back to the car we read how Confederate Brigadier General D. W. Adams ordered 85,000 bales of cotton and 40,000 bushels of corn set afire to deny it to the Federals. In doing that he nearly burned the city of Montgomery in the process. Only the winds changing and the heroic efforts of firefighters, many black, saved the city.

    Well, from there we drove on to Birmingham. It was now late afternoon and it took about ninety minutes to get to Birmingham where we stayed at a Motel 6. We used the evening to do a wash and to dial in to work to read our e-mail. I tried to solve a few problems that came up in my absence. I also sent a quick note to my supervisor and my parents. The latter had sent a lot of mail to me. They are really getting on-line. Nova had a two-hour program on Einstein which I had on in the background. Einstein is no longer portrayed as the saint he once was. Of course, what is important is that he was a genius, not a saint.

    09/10/97--Birmingham and Anniston, Alabama: Southern Flight Museum, Civil Rights Institute, Natural History Museum:

    Omelet Shoppe for breakfast. Not a bad idea. It is a little lighter than the places we have been going.

    The day is starting out gray in Birmingham and it looks a little smoggy though the claim is made that there is no smog in Birmingham. We are getting cool breezes for the first time.

    The Southern Flight Museum was our first stop, a nifty little museum of flying in war and peace. You start with an exhibit hall with some real stuff like flying helmets, glasses, boots, and navigation instruments. It also has some models of planes. They have one case devoted to Von Richthofen. Evelyn asks what that has to do with Southern Flight. Maybe Southern modifies Museum. But there are people enough who take flying pretty seriously. These days that hardly qualifies as even being imaginative. There are much more imaginative things out there than flying. The future is coming faster and faster.

    They have one hangar just devoted to amateur planes made from kits including two designed to use a Volkswagen engine, available cheaply. People are anxious to get up in the air, particularly if they can do it themselves. There are all sorts of interesting designs for personal fliers. There is a camber deal with a propeller in the back. One of the Volkswagen powered planes is leaking oil, we are informed by one of the caretakers swabbing the oil with a long pole.

    They have some professional (as opposed to amateur) planes in a second hangar. Not a lot, maybe seven or eight. Then they have pictures around the walls like of the Shenandoah, a famous airship that foundered in a storm. The next room has models including the U-2D which was used for what they call the "High Altitude Sampling Program." Yup, it was sampling all right. The U2 plane was famous internationally for its high-altitude sampling.

    From there we went to a film they have, a compilation of newsreel's of odd attempts at flight. Some work, some don't. Of course, weird flying machines were a staple of the old newsreels. And the suspense as to whether they would work is a complete fiction. You don't get in front of a camera without having already tested your design and knowing if it works. The people with non-working designs are attention-getters. The ones with working designs are attention-getters also, but they may be a bit more. The designs that work in the newsreels we saw have the small wing in front (early camber) or a Frisbee-like disk wing.

    A group of Jewish school children come in to watch the film. I was a little surprised to see that a Jewish school has enough people to be a going concern down here. Well, at one time there was a large Jewish community in the South. How did I know they were Jewish? Several of the boys wore yarmulkes.

    Upstairs was a set of plaques for the Alabama Flying Hall of Fame. The names I recognized were Wright. Von Braun, and Messer, who is a local flying hero in Alabama.

    From there it was back to the center of Birmingham.

    The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a Civil Rights museum on the order of the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. In this case I think that less is a bit more. First the admission is something like half of the other museum's. While they cover pretty much the same events, Memphis will explain it in four paragraphs and the Birmingham museum gives you one. Most people standing there are not going to want to read four paragraphs here and four paragraphs a few feet over. If it were a book, four paragraphs would be a better idea. If someone is going to stand there and read, you want them to be able to read it in about twenty-five seconds.

    The visit starts with a film on Birmingham's history. The city itself was not founded until 1871 and then as the convergence of two rail lines. Capitalists moved in to exploit the strategic location as a manufacturing center. That brought in labor both black and white. That could have been trouble so they made some nice laws making sure the two would not mix. When there were mining strikes they were broken by force. The bad and low-paying jobs went predominantly to one of the races by an odd coincidence. I won't say which. The stage was set for the civil rights struggle.

    At this point the film ended and the screen raises to reveal a museum behind it. In one of the first exhibits they quote Birmingham's Racial Segregation Ordinances. For example, a restaurant must serve only white, only blacks, or have a physical line painted to have a clearly delineated black area and white area. I assume a Thai would sit in the black area, though the law did not make that clear.

    Some of the exhibits in the Memphis museum are very similar to the ones in this museum. There are colorless plaster statues, you can tell who is black and who is white by facial features (which seems a little racist to me). There will be a lunch counter and whites at it and blacks not able to be at the counter. The two museums have nearly identical exhibits.

    The exhibit goes into how two cultures formed. They have an exhibit where you can choose a black singer and hear him perform. (I listened to Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, and Cab Calloway.)

    Along with explanatory displays there are four taped displays on a bus burning, voting rights, King's letter from Birmingham Jail, and the march on Washington.

    One of the exhibits they got cheap. They tell about the church that was bombed in Birmingham and four young girls were killed. To display it they have a window. The church itself is right across the street.

    Finally there is a tape on the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, each illustrated by an animator. Very creative. Then they show people whose human rights have been denied and you can hear their stories. This was something that was sorely missing in Memphis. The interest in Memphis was solely in blacks and in the struggle in the United States. This places American civil rights in a broader context. Of the two Civil Rights museums I give the edge to Birmingham's.

    There is also a two temporary exhibits, one on painting and one on photography.

    On our way to Anniston we stop at Arby's for a sandwich. Their fries are terrible. Their roast beef sandwich, however, is fairly healthy. (I didn't order the fries, Evelyn go them with her chicken finger special. The curly fries were horribly over-fried.) The problem with the roast beef sandwich is that it seems to require the horseradish sauce which has most of the fat of the sandwich.

    One of best designed natural history museums I remember ever visiting is the Anniston Museum of Natural History in Anniston, Alabama. A big part of this is that whoever wrote the descriptions had interesting things to say about the specimens and often some wit. An example is some wolves bringing down a deer and having one panel looking at the situation from the wolf's point of view, what he has to gain, what are the dangers. Then it looks at it from the deer's point of view, such as what action might it take. It has flight or multiple ways of fighting.

    One of the first things you see coming in is a big pterodactyl mock-up. This display is how the earth formed, and they get to the Mesozoic a little further on, but being that they are going to get to dinosaurs eventually, they want the visitor to see it. If you have any connection to dinosaurs, let people know right away, that is the first rule of museums as I said earlier.

    In any case they start with an exhibit on the first few minutes of time and then how the earth formed. This section makes liberal use of making objects transform in front of your eyes using half-silvered mirrors.

    They have a piece on something I had never heard of, hurricane balls. It was about the size of a football and is generally natural material blown together. They have a big walk-through mockup of a cave. The sort of odd fact they have is that bluejays use ants as insect repellent. They crush ants and spread the pulp on their wings. The formic acid kills or repels other insects. Another place they have an exhibit where you race a bird's reaction time. Good luck.

    They have their share of stuffed animals including one that shows eagles having taken a baby lamb. They have to explain that is a stereotype (perhaps they mean myth) or that is very rare if it ever happens. They have an extended display of stuffed animals of the African veldt. They explain how these animals were taken so it does not look quite so bad that they have all these animal remains. They want you to know that these did not come from poachers.

    A surprising exhibit is two mummies. It is a reasonable exhibit, but is don't think of them as natural history. I guess there is an issue of what is art and what natural history. If you show how Indians decorated their homes it is natural history. If they are French it is art.

    At the end of the museum was a temporary exhibit of photography of wildlife diversity. This is just good photography from nature and they have a film saying how they got the pictures. I want to know how they timed them to get just the right instant. One shot shows a salmon jumping directly into the mouth of a bear. Apparently salmon are so plentiful that a bear only has to open his mouth. The bear has a look of pure joy on his face, but I keep thinking of the point of view of the salmon. "So this is it. I swim all this way to spawn and one wrong leap and that's it? I'm not a Papa, I'm croquettes? This is just not fair! Look, let's be reasonable about this. Let's make it two out of three."

    Driving toward Huntsville you would swear you were out in the wilderness in the middle of nothing. Oh, you pass a restaurant or two, mostly sort of dives. Then you see some street lights and a house and it looks like a pretty nice house. Suddenly you realize that you are in the posh section of a town you have not gotten to. Then you get to it.

    We got a room at a Days Inn. I think we saw the last two-thirds or so of The War Wagon.

    09/11/97--Huntsville, Alabama: U.S. Space & Rocket Center:

    Up about 7 AM. There is a continental breakfast, but it isn't very good. I had cereal and a Crispy Creme doughnut. Crispy Creme seems to be very popular in town here. Actually they are supposed to be healthier than Dunkin Donuts according to Consumer Reports, I think they may have less fat and are somewhat smaller.

    We got to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center about a half hour before it opened. No point in just sitting around the room and they might have schedules out early. Nope. They have an SR-71 Blackbird parked in front of the museum. I guess there are a lot of them around as surplus. There are stealth planes for spying these days.

    As we wait outside the space center I can look into the souvenir shop. They seem to have a whole shelf of Star Wars books for the younger set. Twenty years ago I was pretty enthused about Star Wars. Now I kind of wish it would go away. It has become a Star-Trek-like phenomenon.

    Well, at 9 AM we went in. This already looks like it is on a higher level than the Houston Space Center. The IMAX film is no longer an option, it is bundled in with the admission, $14 but we get a 20% AAA discount.

    After a short tape retrospective, there is a history of rocketry with names like Tsiolkovsky, Oberth, Goddard, and local hero Werner Von Braun. Interestingly, Von Braun was tutored in music by Paul Hindemuth. They have a documentary narrated by Walter Cronkite on the life of Von Braun. I wonder if it was from the series called "The 20th Century" that used to run on CBS. It turns out the A4 (which is better known as the V2) was more dangerous to POWs and Jews than to Brits. 10,000 prisoners died building them and only 3000 British died from fired A4s (and 6000 were injured).

    One problem is that there are too many recordings being played to close together. You hear a sort of babble.

    We tried using the hands-on exhibits, some of which seemed to be out of order. Ones with joysticks seem to be broken, not surprisingly. Kids come along and overpower them. The demonstration of Waldos was poorly designed. Objects to pick up were outside of the range of the Waldos.

    At 10 AM we filed out to the busses for the tour of the Marshall Space Flight Center. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is at least nominally the Visitor Center for the Marshall Space Flight Center. They gave a few plugs for their Space Camp. And they gave a history of the space flight center and former Redstone arsenal. It turned out the Visitor Center is roughly to hell and gone away from the actual Marshall Space Center.

    Huntsville was involved in weapons manufacturing during World War II. At the end of the war the base was put up for sale, but before it could be sold the government decided to use captured German rocket scientists to develop a weapon for the Cold War. Huntsville was chosen for rocket development. Von Braun and a hundred and nineteen German colleagues of Von Braun came to Huntsville for missile research. These scientists, earmarked for special treatment by having a paper clip put on their files, They were transported to the United States faster than American troops. The code name for the operation to bring them to America was Project Paperclip. Officially they were prisoners of war, but their only punishment was to relocate from Germany to Alabama. Von Braun was made the director of the Marshall Center.

    The bus brought us to the Marshall Space Center where we saw a short film telling us what a great bargain the space program is, and again selling NASA for spin-offs. People would probably not be here if they did not believe in the space program. They tie the space station to AIDS research. The problem is there are other things as expensive and far less intelligent that the government spends on, but the space program is high-profile. That makes it a target.

    Still, if you have been reading you know that the space program may or may not justify itself with spin-offs. It is important even if it does not justify itself with immediate payoffs. It is like telling a man in a burning building that the view is ever so much nicer over on the fire escape.

    We are taken to rooms where the airlock and two of the modules for the space station are being constructed. One is being constructed in a clean room.

    Next stop is the inevitable rocket garden. This one has a Saturn 1, a Redstone, a Jupiter (with and without C), and Apollo capsule and a V2. There were a couple other missiles I did not recognize and I did not get the names.

    The bus took us back to the space center for the IMAX presentation. They call this IMAX but the theater is what I thought was Omnimax. It is a spherical theater. I wonder if IMAX bought out Omnimax. We got our usual seat in the center but somewhat forward. I am not saying I recommend those seats, it is just where we usually end up in an IMAX or Omnimax theater. Wherever you sit, Omnimax looks funny anyway.

    The movie Cosmic Voyage was the best IMAX or Omnimax film I ever remember seeing. It was a variation of the old "Powers of Ten" idea. They pack a lot of science in a little forty-five-minute production. They tell you about how Galileo used the telescope and then in increasing powers of ten they take you out to the edge of the known universe, then back you go to talk about the invention of the microscope and down you go in powers of ten to the size of quarks. Then you go back to the time of the Big Bang and you see the universe forming and the evolution of life. And they tell you about the search for planets with around other stars and the search for intelligence, always rendered with great imagination. This was better than Mission to Mir or The Fires of Kuwait. The latter had been the best IMAX production I remember seeing.

    When I was a young lad I used to watch Walt Disney. (Maybe it was called Disneyland in those days.) They would say "From Frontierland, Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter" or "From Fantasyland..." or "From Adventureland..." Almost never would there be something from Tomorrowland. Disney only did three or four programs from Tomorrowland in spite of them being some of his most popular programs. He did Man in Space, Man and the Moon, and Mars and Beyond. I still remember these programs, even though I was only five or six at the time they ran. They had a small exhibit reminding us of the programs and playing excerpts from each. I look at them as an adult and they do not seem really well done. Then there will be one scene where animated umbrella-like spacecraft head off for Mars, and my knees get weak, and I want to be on one of them. Well, they did use Chesley Bonestell illustrations and had Werner Von Braun explaining the science. Evelyn checked with the souvenir shop. They are not available on tape. Even after repeated requests to Disney Enterprises, the company refuses to release them on tape.

    There is also a display on the famous articles in Colliers, illustrated by Chesley Bonestell, talking about space flight and how it might be sooner than people think. It is now generally assumed that the Colliers articles and the Disney programs were important in John Kennedy's decision for what strategy the United States would take to counter the Russians putting a satellite into orbit. Kennedy decided we would go to the moon and set that marvelous deadline. And, of course, we landed a man on the moon in 1969 rather than explain to people that 1970 would have still been in the same decade.

    The exhibit Journey to Jupiter has a double purpose. The first is to spark people's imagination in space and the second is to acknowledge a debt to science fiction for already having sparked imagination. The entrance-way has a display of pulp magazine covers and the old Chesley Bonestell Colliers covers, science fiction toys and models. A tape playing tells the visitor about the exhibit, about plans for space, and about how important science fiction has been in forming the current space program. As a nearly life-long fan of science fiction, the acknowledgment of the debt looks a lot like class to me.

    On they outside there are educational devices that are a lot like amusement park rides, but never actually placed in that context. The centrifuge can whirl up to thirty or so people up to a harmless three Gs, all the while a TV screen tells them about G-forces in space flight.

    While we are in line I notice a T-shirt worn by a guy in the Air Force. It shows a bomber on the back and says "30 minutes or less-or we bomb your next city for free."

    Next we try the Spacewalker. You are placed in seats on a long lever arm and are counter-balanced. If you kick the ground you float up twenty or so feet in the air. You just bounce back and forth on the arm. it is kind of a short ride. I tried not pushing off once. I bounced up to the top and stayed there. What happens is the operator comes along and surreptitiously gives you a little push.

    From there it was back in for lunch. There is a museum tour at 2 PM and we wanted to be done in time for that. They have a cafeteria with seats. We went to that, but there were a bunch of retirees in front of us in line. Retirees are cautious about what food they get for themselves. Evelyn was concerned that we would not be done in time for the tour. We jumped out of line and went instead to the snack bar. Evelyn picked a hot dog, I wanted their pizza. By the time we got to the front of the line they were out of pizza. We both got hot dogs. I didn't think they were good hot dogs either.

    We were done just about in time for the tour. We went to the starting point and we were the only ones there. Our tour guide turned out to be a teen who had memorized a twenty-five-minute spiel like a school report. I was a little embarrassed to be there getting it and he would have rather not been giving it.

    We returned to the Journey to Jupiter exhibit. This is a full motion machine with a 70mm film showing a journey to... well... Jupiter. You go through a sort of accelerator. All of it feels reasonably realistic with the whole theater moving to give the proper feel. The one problem is that after they get good special effects on the film, they put it on grainy celluloid. Little flecks get in the way of the credibility.

    Next we went to the Mission to Mars exhibit. It appears to be the forerunner of the Journey to Jupiter in more ways than one. It handles two people at a time. It rocks to the left and right. It takes about ten minutes. I guess the next one will be "Sojourn to Saturn."

    We returned outside for the Spaceshot simulator. This is much more an amusement park ride than the others. It shoots the passenger up a rail something like fifty feet in the air, then drops you down forty, then up and down maybe once or twice more. You go through a few tenths of a second of free-fall. It was fun and an instant of pure terror.

    After that was some walking around an area called "Shuttle Park" the main feature of which is a full-sized shuttle with tank and booster rockets. Pretty darn big. They have a ride here called "Shuttle to Tomorrow." I think it is a tame version of "Journey to Jupiter" with a little more humor. Still not very interesting.

    Well, the rest of the visit was pretty much repeats of things we had already done. Overall I would say that the U.S. Space & Rocket Center does a better job and is a more interesting visit than the Houston Space Center we saw eight days before.

    Back to the room afterward at about 7 PM we went to dinner at a Korean restaurant. We were the only non-Koreans there. The woman probably didn't get a lot of non-Koreans even coming in. That can mean problems. Americans can be very provincial about their food. Within about a minute of getting the menu we were ready to order. Menu closed, Evelyn ordered Soon Doo Boo Jigae. The woman started to explain what that was and that it was a little spicy. Evelyn interrupted saying she knew what it was and make it very spicy. Also from a closed menu I asked for O Jingeau Bokum, very spicy. She brought the dishes with six small dishes of unusual side dish foods. Twenty minutes later one side dish was half-eaten. Everything else had gotten the seven-year locust treatment. Looking at the empty dishes she said, "I guess you must have liked it."

    Something similar happened with five of us traveling in Thailand. We rather surprised the owner of a restaurant in Krabi that some Americans really like Thai food.

    09/12/97--Chattanooga, Tennessee and Chickamauga, Georgia:

    Up. Continental breakfast at motel. A couple miles and we are out in the country again.

    We cross over to Tennessee. There seem to be billboards all over for fireworks. A place we pass bills itself as a fireworks supermarket. I bet they have "No Smoking" signs. It really looks like it must be the biggest product in the local economy. Funny, we didn't see so much before when we were in the state. It must be just this area. This has got to be the fireworks capitol of the country. Maybe not the whole state, but this little piece of Tennessee borders very near both Alabama and Georgia and probably selling fireworks is illegal there. Anyway it seems like every half mile there is a billboard for someplace or other selling fireworks. We are in hilly country here on the Tennessee-Georgia border. We are near a historic pair of battles on the border. One of them was so noisy, it could be heard in a town fifty miles away. These are the late 1863 battles of Chickamauga, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Earlier we talked about how control of the Mississippi was grabbed by the Union at Vicksburg. The key to capturing control of the railroad was in capturing Chattanooga, the railhead and the road to much of the South.

    Chickamauga (aptly named, in Indian it means "River of Death") was sort of a battle of personalities. It was fought commanded by General William Rosecrans fighting for the Union and General Braxton Bragg for the Confederacy. Neither got on well with the people they commanded and that would become very important in the battle of Chickamauga. Bragg and Rosecrans had fought previous battles, but Bragg was now reinforced with General Longstreet and two of his divisions, veterans of Gettysburg. Bragg got along with nobody and that included Longstreet. (Grant tells in his memoirs a story that Bragg once had two conflicting responsibilities, wrote out a long argument with himself, and submitted it to his superior for mediation. His superior noted that Bragg had run out of other people to argue with and had started in on himself.) Bragg figured that the time had come when he could lure Rosecrans into the mountains where he could easily divide and conquer the three Union divisions. Bragg, placed himself between Rosecrans and Chattanooga, but then sent fake deserters to the Union side with tales of Confederate retreat. Pulling them down from the Northeast, Bragg hoped to put this "deserted" army between Rosecrans and Chattanooga, using Chattanooga as bait. On September 19, 1863, they met near Chickamauga Creek.

    The fighting went on all day with Bragg trying to turn the Union line to the left and failing. Overnight the Union did not sleep, but felled trees to make fences (or breastworks) to fight behind. Longstreet himself arrived over night. Bragg set up a line with Longstreet commanding the left and Leonidas Polk commanding the right. At dawn they were supposed to attack. Longstreet attacked at dawn but could do little against the breastworks. Apparently to be uncooperative with Bragg and to assert himself, Polk simply refused to begin his attack until several hours had passed. His spite got a lot of Confederates killed.

    Bragg could get no cooperation from Polk and ordered Longstreet forward. But the North was about to make a bigger mistake. Rosecrans sent a staff officer out to be sure his line was in place. Looking in the woods where Rosecrans's men were supposed to be concealed he saw nothing. The staff officer in panic reported to Rosecrans that there was a gap in the line. In fact, the men were in place, just very well concealed. Rosecrans ordered the next division over to fill the gap. The commander of that division had just been reprimanded for not following orders. He was sure this was a stupid order and there was no gap in the line, but he dared not disobey more orders and so closed the false gap, effectively creating a real one.

    Longstreet found the gap and charged through surrounding and sending flying half of Rosecrans's army including Rosecrans. General George Thomas took command of the remaining men, stood his ground, formed a line of battle on Snodgrass Hill, and held all day, withdrawing after dark. Longstreet wanted Bragg to pursue the Union soldiers and complete the victory. Bragg looked at the terrible losses he had already sustained and refused. He claimed the enemy had been routed and would not stay. The Union Troops quickly occupied Chattanooga.

    Bragg went after them eventually, but took positions on Missionary Ridge, Lookout Mountain, and the Chattanooga Valley. They blockaded the city and prepared to starve out the Union troops. Meanwhile there was great disgust with Bragg in the Confederate command. Bragg had won a great victory at Chickamauga Creek, but the North had still occupied Chattanooga. Of course, they were slowly starving.

    Lincoln wanted to turn the slow-motion disaster of Chattanooga into a victory. He sent Grant. Grant immediately removed Rosecrans and gave his command to Thomas, who had stood his ground at Chickamauga. Grant brought in Sherman, his frequent right-hand man.

    Meanwhile the conflict between Bragg and his seconds in command heated up. Bragg dismissed Polk and two other generals for slowness to obey orders. Longstreet complained to the secretary of war that Bragg was not up to the job.

    Reportedly, Jefferson Davis offered Bragg's command to Longstreet. Longstreet refused it and suggested it be given to Joe Johnston. Wrong choice. Davis was still disgusted with Johnston for not coming to Pemberton's aid and allowing Vicksburg to fall to the Yankees. He did not think that Johnston would do enough here either. Johnston was a good man, but Lee was used to traditional battlefield tactics . Johnston bled the enemy where Lee wanted to see them annihilated.

    Grant planned a counter-offensive, but gave the Thomas and the Chickamauga troops only a secondary role, feeling they were demoralized. The Union troops stormed Lookout Hill, forcing Bragg to move his troops to Missionary Ridge. The became known as the Battle Above the Clouds. Grant's attempts to dislodge Bragg from Missionary Ridge bogged down. He decided to ask Thomas to join the assault. He wanted him merely to take out some rifle emplacements at the base of the ridge. It was nominal participation. To the horror of Grant and the Union commanders, Thomas's men treated it as an order to charge across two miles of open ground toward Missionary Ridge. McPherson claims this should have been a worse suicide charge than Pickett's Charge. It was a tremendous opportunity for Bragg and the South.

    Grant angrily asked Thomas if this charge was his idea and Thomas denied it. As they watched expecting the troops to be ground to mincemeat, instead they saw Bragg's men turn around and run. What should have been an easy slaughter of Union troops turned into a humiliating defeat of Bragg's men.

    There was no good explanation why the result was what it was beyond that bad commanders and politics had demoralized the Southern troops. Grant lucked out. But he had the rail head and he had the Mississippi. The war had turned very sour for the South.

    Bragg apologized to Jefferson Davis and suggested he should have been replaced after all. But Davis had no general he respected to replace Bragg. Reluctantly he gave the command to Joe Johnston who he felt let him down at the battle of Vicksburg.

    Well, we got to the Chickamauga Visitor center. Here you do not buy a tape tour for $4.50 as you did at Vicksburg, you rent it for $3 or you buy it for $7. We rented it. You get a tape player, but we had that anyway. They have an orientation film, but it is part of a program that you have to pay for. That seems a little unfriendly to me, but Evelyn thinks that it is because a major highway runs through Chickamauga Park. It seems that most National Parks are now charging admission. They used to let people in free, but since everything is going to pay-as-you go these days, the Park has to get back some of its cost. It can't charge admission so they have to get it back however they can. This is the great Republican plan to cut taxes and have payment by usage. You can decide what you want better than the government can. The only problem is they never got around to cutting my taxes.

    Well, one thing that is free is they have a Civil War re-enactor dressed up in a Southern uniform telling you what it was like to be in the Confederate Army. First of all the stereotype of not having enough uniforms and having to go barefoot was usually not true, but the instances tend to stand out. He wore a broad-brimmed hat. The little round hats with the disk on top were hated. They called them "sun-burners" since they gave no protection from the sun or much else. They were worn as a matter of style that once had a function. I think the people who designed them went on to design recessed bumpers for cars.

    He talked about the difference of food. The North would pack up meat in barrels and send them by train, when they could, otherwise they had horses pulling it. Men would walk since meat had to be pulled. The South came up with a device so the meat actually transported itself. It was called a "steer." Large numbers of these steers would follow the army. It was a healthy but a tough life for a steer, following the army. And healthy but tough was the meat. (The witty remarks are mine, not presenter's, by the way. I thought you had a right to know. The presenter's only joke was that historical recreation and heavy metal music went together to do a number on his ears. Both are very loud.)

    The army bought Enfield rifles from England and then wasted them in close-up battles. It was not until late in the war was it realized that it was a highly accurate rife that could be used from a great distance. Altogether there were 124,000 men in the battle of which there were 34,000 casualties. That accounted for only 2400 outright deaths on the battlefield, but of course many more would follow from the injuries. The battle was so loud it could be heard fifty miles away. The concussion of the cannon was so loud that gunners often came away with blood running from their ears and noses. The battle was so fierce that the local lumberyards would not afterward accept wood from Chickamauga because their saws kept being ruined on bullets.

    We talked a little with our presenter afterward. He spent about a month working on Gettysburg. He was in the Little Roundtop scenes. Being near the firing of these loud guns and cannons really does damage, so he says you can imagine what it would be like on the battlefield.

    We took the tape and went around the battlefield. It was a hot day. This is another battlefield with a lot of monuments. It is well forested as it was at the time. You see where the gap formed in the Union line and where Longstreet streamed through. Wilder Tower looks like a giant chess rook.

    From there we headed up to Chattanooga for a look at the heights where Bragg shelled the town. We stopped to eat at a place called My Place. It had an interesting mix of fast foods and homemade. I had a barbecue platter and Blackberry Cobbler.

    You pass through the town of St. Elmo. Now I had heard that there was no such saint and that he and St. Elmo's Fire was a fraud. Here they have a whole town named St. Elmo.

    We drove up lookout mountain which looks like to day to be a posh residential area. They must have a lot of robberies since many of the houses have ADT security signs out. There is a park at the top of the hill that offers nice views of the city, not that it did Bragg's siege much good.

    We stopped for the night at Shepherd Budget Host Motel between Chattanooga and Kennesaw. I wrote up the day and watched Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

    09/13/97--Kennesaw, Georgia:

    I was up writing until midnight. I woke up and it was dark out. I checked my watch and did a double-take. The watch claimed it was after 7 AM. I think this was the first time it has been dark at 7 AM for me since last winter. Of course, I am at the extreme west of the Eastern time zone. When we went west we had the longer summer day in our favor. In September the days are getting shorter the fastest they ever do. Now the question. Can we expect this every day from now on? We will be moving eastward, so the sunrise should be earlier each day but for the fact it is September and it should get later. Of course, it depends on how fast we go, but I expect earlier sunrises. The movement east should be the dominant factor.

    Not a bad Continental breakfast was included with the motel. It was pastries and doughnuts from a box, but there was a microwave right there to heat them. They also had cereal packaged in plastic bowls. That made a reasonable breakfast.

    We headed for the Kennesaw State Park, but passed on the way the Big Shanty Museum. No it was not a museum of big shanties. This was the final resting place of The General. Fans of silent movies may know what I am talking about, and also fans of obscure Civil War history. The General played an important part in one of the lessor-known chapters of history and Buster Keaton made a highly inaccurate film about the incident which nonetheless made one of the great classic silent films. Walt Disney also made a film version, somewhat more accurate, called The Great Locomotive Chase starring Fess Parker. It sounds like Turner is considering making a film about the incident also. It was Saturday, April 12, 1862, the first anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter. Captain W. A. Fuller, conductor of freight and passenger train The General had stopped the train at Marietta, Georgia, and twenty men came aboard. A few minutes later he stopped for breakfast at the town of Old Shanty. He went with engineer Jeff Cain and foreman Anthony Murphy.

    Breakfast was interrupted when they saw The General pulling out of the station without them. It seems they had picked up eighteen Yankee soldiers and two spies. The leader was James J. Andrews, a Union secret service agent. The Union plan was to steal a train and sabotage rails, burn bridges, cut telegraph lines, and do whatever mischief they could arrange.

    Fuller and the others jumped up and started chasing the train on foot. Two miles down the track they found a push car and chased the train with that. They had to stop to remove a pile of cross-ties left on the track. North at Acworth they added two men to their numbers and a shotgun. The group fond a train to transfer to, the Yonah, and set off in pursuit with that. They had hoped a freight train coming in the other direction would stop the Federals. It did, but not long enough for the pursuers to catch up. The Federals had told locals that they were carrying ammunition for General Beauregard.

    The pursuers had to switch trains to avoid a freight blockade. They changed to the locomotive William R. Smith. They chased the Yankees in the Smith, but time and time again had to stop to clear from the track railroad ties left by the Yankees. After four miles they had to abandon the Smith as the General had torn up rails in its wake.

    After walking three miles, the pursuers flagged down another train, the Texas. It had been sidetracked for the train supposedly carrying ammunition to Beauregard. But the train could not be turned around without a turntable so started chasing the Yankees going backward.

    The Texas caught up with the General two miles north of Calhoun where they saw it stopped with Yankees tearing up rails. The Texas blew their whistle and the Yankees jumped back aboard their train. The chase was on. The Yankees de-coupled a boxcar, but the Texas only coupled it and continued in pursuit. Fuller expected the Yankees to set fire to the covered bridge at the Oostanuala River. Luckily it was a rainy day and the bridge would not burn. Instead they left another boxcar. The Texas added it to the load they were pushing. Further up the line they rid themselves of the boxcars on a siding. Fuller scrawled out a note explaining the situation and had it telegraphed to Chattanooga. Eight miles above Dalton was a tunnel that would have been an obvious place to sabotage, but nothing was done. The Yankees were too worried to get away. Ahead there were bridges to burn, but it was too wet for the Yankees to do it. Just a little short of Chattanooga the chase ended when the General ran short of wood and water. The Yankees abandoned the engine and ran into the woods. Most were eventually rounded up and executed as spies including James Andrews. The museum has a tape giving the story of that day. It has the actual engine of the General. And it had a bunch of other random exhibits of that day or of what things might have been like that day.

    The place is run by one Harper Harris who is into historical re-enactment. We talked to him about the Buster Keaton film and other films that hire historical re-enactors. He was not happy with Gettysburg because they didn't really pay the historical re-enactors and they got a lot of free expertise with them. He talked about some of the films he was in. You never know if film will be good or not when you agree to be in it. He was in Paris Trout which he thought was just a terrible movie. And he was in The Last Confederate Widow Tells All. He expected that to be terrible and when he actually saw it he thought it was pretty good. I would say he is absolutely right in the first case and pretty much right about WIDOW. I thought it sort of petered out, but mostly it was good.

    Another building nearby is called "The General Store." Something of a pun.

    Well, on we went to Kennesaw Mountain. Let's see, when we last left the Civil War Jefferson Davis had reluctantly given Braxton Bragg's command to Joe Johnston. It now had 65,000 men.

    Grant gave Sherman command of 100,000 and sent him to try to destroy Johnston's army and open the door to taking Atlanta. Johnston had his forces dance around Sherman's, rarely engaging him. Johnston moved his troops onto Kennesaw Mountain.

    The aggressive Sherman was having more problems than he wanted to admit. (When the war was over the two men would have a close friendship based on mutual respect.) Sherman tried to extent his forces south of Johnston, this created a weakness in his lines and Johnston was quick to counter it June 22 with a jab to the center of Sherman's line at Kolb's Farm. Sherman decided on a quick punch to go through the Southern lines. He misjudged the strength and the battle ended in a standoff. They were stood off at Pigeon Hill in rough terrain. At Dallas Road 8000 Union infantrymen hit two divisions of Johnston's army. 3000 Union soldiers were lost to the Union, 500 to the Confederacy. Sherman spent a few more days beefing up to hit Johnston, but by then Johnston and his forces had slipped out.

    When the fighting was over Johnston had killed a great many of Sherman's men but Sherman was closer to Atlanta. It is unclear who had the victory. Lee was exasperated with Johnston's unwillingness to engage the enemy in a single big battle. That was what Davis understood, a big fight that the Confederacy obviously won. Johnston doubted that could be delivered. Johnston's strategy may have been far more subtle. Johnston seems to have a similar strategy to Chairman Mao's strategy on guerrilla warfare. It is not clear that Jefferson Davis wanted or even understood guerrilla war. Davis wanted to see the Union army ashed. Johnston wanted to bleed it rather than bash it.

    We went to Pigeon Hill and tried to climb it. We were winded, but we are in our forties and eventually climbed it. I can see why if I had rebels shooting at me and throwing down rocks I might have made slow progress. But it must have been a great way to keep in shape.

    We had a little time-out going to a Kroger Grocery in the park. We got some fruit, bread, and cheddar. I saw some bumper stickers on a car in the lot. "God saw what you did back there" and "Do You Follow Christ This Close?" At the next stop on the back on the tour we stopped under a tree and had lunch.

    There is a tribute here to Confederate Col. William Marton. It seems that in the heat of battle there were Union wounded all over the ground. As the battle continued stray bullets set the forest on fire. The Union soldiers were afraid to try and pull their comrades from the fire leaving themselves vulnerable to being shot down in the process. Marton waved a flag of truce. He suggested that they stop fighting long enough to move the wounded away from the fire. Confederates and Federals side-by-side fought the fire and pulled soldiers to safety. That done, they resumed trying to kill each other. The following day Union officers presented Marton with a pair of Colt revolvers.

    Evelyn and I were both behind in our logs and exhausted. I suggested to Evelyn that we take it easy. We should go to a motel, do a wash, and soak in a pool. We drove to Norcross outside of Atlanta. There we check into a Motel 6 and did exactly what I had suggested.

    Evelyn found a Thai restaurant in the yellow pages. It was great. I had a curry with coconut milk. Evelyn had a seafood dish. We asked for it Thai spicy and I think they did not trust us to really want it that way. They undercharged us by about $4. I pointed it out to them. They probably figured we were on expense accounts.

    Actually when it comes to money we are spending about $1000 a week. That is just about our cheapest vacation ever. Not a bad expense for two people. But we ought to go on an exotic vacation at some point soon. We are talking about Turkey.

    Back at the room we called Pete and Joan Lux. There seems to have been some mix-up on when we would get together with them. We were thinking that it would be Wednesday night. They thought that we had agreed on Monday. We rescheduled for Thursday night. Pete will just be back from a business trip. We will pick him up at the airport.

    We spent the evening writing. I went to sleep watching Dirty Harry.

    09/14/97--Atlanta and Robins, Georgia:

    Breakfast at the Waffle House next to the motel. I had an omelet. With hot sauce.

    Our plan for the morning was to go see Stone Mountain. Carved out of a mountain are the nine-story figures of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. We wanted to just see the mountain. Parking to do that was $6. Perhaps we should have gone ahead, but that seemed a ridiculous price for just parking. It was more for people intending to spend the whole day. We quickly reformulated our plans.

    We decided to continue on to what was the next activity on our agenda, the CNN tour. We drove into the center of Atlanta. We assumed the place would be pretty dull this early on a Sunday morning. Guess again. There was a baseball game and there was some sort of art festival in Olympic Centennial Park. It was almost impossible to find a place to park on the street. We did find one however. It was just on the other side of Centennial Park from the CNN building. We found the CNN building an impressive building of ten or more stories, open in the center. All over there are ads for the ten or so Turner "networks." Actually they are cable stations. We were in about 10:20 AM and got tickets for the 10:45 AM. We spent the time in the CNN store though we got nothing. We did see one of the Oscars they inherited with everything else from Gone with the Wind. Come the appointed time we started the tour. There are ads hung up for something called Stupid Computer. I am not sure what that is. It is interesting how words that were negative in the past become marks of pride and words that were positive become negative. A girl who is homely is now thought to be unattractive. But crazy is considered to be a positive, particularly in things aimed at children. Anything that is complex, calling it stupid or for dummies is a good thing.

    The tour is about forty minutes, but it is actually somewhat less. That includes some time going through airport-style security. You then go up an eight-story escalator. At the top you can see various pieces of memorabilia from the history of Turner's career. There are scripts from both versions of Ben Hur and another Oscar. (I thought that Oscars went back to the academy rather than be legally sold.) Other souvenirs include the jacket that Peter Arnette wore into Iraq with $100,000 sewn into the lining.

    James Earl Jones has recorded messages played for the tour. You see a short film on the career of Ted Turner. His broadcasting career began in 1970 when he purchased a local television station and arranged to have it beamed by satellite across the country. From there one thing sort of led to another. Now he owns TBS, TNT, TCN, CNN, CNN-HEADLINE, the Washington Monument, Castle Rock films, the Cartoon Network, the RKO and MGM film libraries, Jane Fonda, the Atlanta Braves, and lots of other stuff. (I lied about the Washington Monument.) (I think.)

    After that you see their special effects room. They show you the Chromakey wall. They show you how the camera is also the TelePrompTer through use of a half-silvered mirror. That way looking directly at the TelePrompTer is looking directly at the camera.

    Go down another floor and you have the CNN news-room. They have monitors up for various shots for the incoming news story, they also have monitors for what is currently on ABC, CBS, and NBC just to see what their coverage is. The news is written right on the floor. They have the information processors and the writers right there behind the anchorperson for a feel of immediacy. That means that even the news-writers have a dress code since they really are on TV.

    There is not enough room on each floor to have a lot of different activities. Our group has to walk from floor to floor, but they are heavily shepherded to make sure there is not too much that can go wrong.A lower floor had CNN Headline news. It has a smaller staff, but it is run like the upper floor, though completely independently. They write their own text.

    A little further down you see CNN International, CNN-on-line, CNN en Espanol. And of course there is the souvenir shop.

    As we returned to the car we walked through Olympic Centennial Park. They were having some sort of art fair. A lot of people running through fountains, buying art, buying refreshments. And I started to ask myself, what if I could go back to say 1866, grab Jefferson Davis and walk him through Olympic Centennial Park on September 14, 1997. What would his reaction be? He probably would be very much conflicted. Negatives would be blacks among whites on a pretty even footing. It looks like blacks have things pretty good. But then it looks like whites have things pretty much equally good. Better. Our society can give a good life to both. Old Jeff Davis might be scandalized by the clothing. People of both sexes with naked arms and legs. But let's assume that he was sufficiently broadminded to overlook fashions that would have been shameful in 1863. He might look around the city and see buildings as tall as cliffs in his day, huge stone bridges, newspapers turned into the CNN building. What was looked on as the good life in his time, a way of life that tens of thousands died for in a single week, by today's standards would be poverty and misery. You don't see whole families dying out in the sickly season of summer. We pass by a parking garage. To us it is a minor eyesore. If he saw just that one building it would look like a beautiful geometric structure, much as the Crystal Palace was thought beautiful. The issues that Jeff Davis fought about would still be issues today. States Rights versus Federal Power still make a difference today, but their total effect is in the details. The rising tide of progress has lifted all boats. Everything the South fought for they lost. Atlanta was burned in the process. Yet somehow modern Atlanta is not suffering. (Not to mix science fiction metaphors, but...) If it were put to a vote today to stay put or jump to a timeline in which the South somehow won the Civil War most Atlantans-even most white Atlantans-would probably leave things they way they are. That kind of puts a new perspective on the Civil War. So what do you think, Mr. Davis?

    We continued off toward Savannah, via Macon.

    We saw signs for the Warner-Robins Museum of Aviation. It was not on our itinerary, but that didn't stop us. This is a flight museum associated with Robins Air Force Base. There is a main building with exhibits, model planes and full-sized planes. There are three floors. They have an exhibit on Flying Tigers in China. They have planes on the floor (too many to list though I started with a P-40N and a T-6G trainer).

    They has a Norden Bombsight. Of some interest was that this was like the enigma machine in reverse. We kept it a jealously guarded secret not knowing the Nazis had stolen the plans in the 30s. They had an exhibit on Chennault's 14th Air Force in Burma.

    There was an exhibit on the pitch of propellers. The less pitch the faster you have to run it but the greater the pull since the less each revolution pulls you forward. A plane with fixed pitch had to decide what pitch it could live with. Lindbergh barely made it over the trees when the took off, so his pitch was almost too great, but then he had only a couple of gallons when he landed so his pitch was almost too great. Lindbergh must have had perfect pitch.

    They have screen up with government short documentaries of World War II flying. The third floor was mostly airplane models. Other buildings had planes including a MiG fighter and an exhibit on the Tuskegee Airmen, the black pilots whom the army did not trust at the beginning of the war but who proved their mettle. There is a computerized flight simulator, basically a steering wheel and a computer screen. They also had a trainer cockpit that was pretty much the real thing.

    The third building had a film that starts about Declaration of Independence, then goes into how laws are made, then history of the flying in the military, and finally it is about famous Georgians in government, especially Sam Nunn. They apparently had little idea what all they wanted to cram into this film except the tribute to Sam Nunn, head of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The film was almost funny to watch.

    Afterward the field has a large number of planes to look at up close. Many are not in very good condition. They have Globemasters and Skymasters and a whole lot of masters. We saw the planes in back, but still missed a bunch because of the punishing hot weather. It is still hot and generally dry. The dry part is good for us, but not the farmers.

    For dinner we went back into town and ate at a Po Folks restaurant. We saw darn few of them this trip which is a pity. It is a darn good restaurant chain, one of the few I always expect to be good. The style of cooking is Southern Down Home. I had chicken and dumplings, two vegetables, a biscuit, and too much lemonade. Evelyn had four vegetables, biscuit, and iced tea. With tip it came to a little over $13. I wish we had them in Joisy.

    I had to find a place to stay the night off I-16, the road between Macon and Savannah. There don't seem to be any towns on the road, but Vidalia seems to be just off the road. I picked a Days Inn. Well, I judged wrong. The motel is fine, but it is about a half hour drive from I-16 on route I-280. We just went off down the connecting road of exit 17 and went and went and went. It took something like 25 or 30 minutes to get to 280. The motel is run by Asian Indians. But the room seems to be well cared for. It has a refrigerator. The toilet flushes. Not a bad choice. Toilets that do not flush are the most common problem in motel rooms as I said. Getting home will be kind of sad, but at least the toilets flush.

    In the room we worked on logs and we watched a film about what went on in college fraternities in the 1950s. It was okay. I have to look up the title since we missed the first moments of it. [It was Fraternity Row (1977).] All I know was it was narrated by Cliff Robertson and it had Robert Emhardt. Most of the major characters were played by people unfamiliar to me.

    Following that AMC had Horror of Dracula. This was a tremendously influential film, but I think the script is not very good. I left AMC on and went to sleep to Tarzan's Savage Fury, an inferior remake of Tarzan Finds a Son. I did not watch it closely and that was probably just as well.

    09/15/97--Savannah, Georgia: Savannah Museum and Fort Pulaski:

    I slept to about 6:30 AM. Over last night and today I have gotten caught up in my log. That sets my mind at ease. I hate being behind.

    We had a decent continental breakfast at the motel. I think that the Days Inn has a terrible location here in Vidalia and they are trying to get return business by running everything as well as they can. Motels this well run have been very much the exception not the rule. But the place is practically empty. I wish them luck.

    Public Radio has a story about ultra-orthodox Jews angered by a new Holocaust museum in New York having references to homosexuality are suing to have the museum taken off of public funding. Their suit states because it has to do with just one religion. Of course, they are the ones who are trying to redefine the Holocaust by removing references to homosexuality. When I was growing up there was the feel that Judaism was one religion and there were just different flavors. There was Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox. And Orthodox had a splinter group called ultra-Orthodox. We all had the same religion and if the others were wrong in some way as to how they worshipped, let God worry about it. It was a good time. Now the ultra-Orthodox have decided that theirs was the one absolutely correct way to worship (fine, let them think so) and all Jews should worship like they do. Here in the United States they have little power to enforce their wishes. They are using what legal power they have to be pains as they are with this museum. In Israel they have more power. They are saying who can pray at the West Wall. The effect is snowballing. Maybe the Jewish fanatics and the Moslem fanatics should get together.

    We stooped in Savannah to go to the Savannah Historical Museum. James Oglethorpe and his settlers founded a colony here in February 1733. Oglethorpe planned it as a sort of Christian socialism where property would be communally owned. He had the local Indians point out the ideal spot. Everything would be planned from the beginning. There would be no slavery; it only makes a man idle to have slaves. Only Protestants are really productive people. There would be no Jews and no Catholics, they are not productive. Property would be held in common. Winter and spring went well. Then came the first summer and the colony almost died of disease. It looked very bad for the colony. Luckily a ship came by with Jewish immigrants looking for a place to live. Among them were doctors who saved the colony. "Did we say Jews are unproductive? No. We said Catholics are unproductive. The words don't even sound similar. We've been looking high and low for some Jews to join us here. You interested by any chance?" Well, that may not be entirely accurate. But in the first year doctors from a passing boat of Jews did save the colony and Oglethorpe removed the restriction on Jews. There was a lot more, but that story appealed to me for obvious reasons.

    The rest of the museum is kind of mediocre. They don't have a lot of anything (except for a locomotive engine which is a lot of something). They have a fiberglass park bench from Forrest Gump. One of several identical made for the film. They have memorabilia from various wars in which Savannah participated, like British uniforms from the revolutionary war. Of course, Savannah has reason to want to forget the Revolutionary War when the British held the forts near Savannah and the Civil War when the Federals ended with the forts. Other exhibits included a local statue, The Bird Girl, and a nice model of an ironclad.

    A special temporary exhibit in back showed other objects of local importance including crab traps, handmade toys including a bow and arrow, and summer fashions. From there we went to Fort Pulaski, scene of a minor but locally celebrated battle.

    On the way we saw a little of Old Savannah. The layout of the city is a rectangular arrangement of town squares and the city is built around them. Parts of the city are very atmospheric. Sort of memories of older days. I guess that tourism is a big part of Savannah's economy. Certainly around the museum there were busloads of retirees who have come to see the museum.

    Bumper sticker seen: "Friends don't let friends vote Republican."

    The story of the battle of Fort Pulaski is fairly simple. On January 3, 1861, South Carolina has seceded from the Union. Georgia had not, but the Governor thought it likely so sent the state militia to hold Fort Pulaski on Cockspur Island. Georgia did secede thirteen days later and gave the fort to the Confederacy. The fort had in a large part been built by a young West Pointer, Robert E. Lee who designed the drainage and the dikes.

    Colonel Charles Olmstead was given command of the fort. When it looked like the Federals were going to try to occupy forts locally they abandoned Fort Tybee and put all their forces in the stronger Fort Pulaski about a mile away. Olmstead discussed this move with Robert E. Lee. It seemed likely the Federals might want to take Fort Tybee and use it to attack Fort Pulaski, but it would do them little good. The range of a cannon is about half a mile with any accuracy. If the Federals took Fort Tybee it would just lead to frustration. Shelling Fort Pulaski would be as effective as shelling the Rocky Mountains.

    Sure enough the Federals did take Fort Tybee. Captain Quincy A. Gillmore assumed command in February 1862. His idea was to try to bombard Fort Pulaski with Parrott Rifles. These were new experimental cannons with rifled bores. Shells came out spinning. They had greater range and accuracy. Gillmore had then brought into Fort Tybee under cover of night and had them out of sight by the daytime.

    Olmstead knew something was happening there but did not know what.

    On April 10 Gillmore contacted Olmstead and demanded he surrender Fort Pulaski. Olmstead responded that he had been placed there to defend Fort Pulaski, not to surrender it. Gillmore started shelling and shelled the fort all day. The fort stood up terrifically, though Olmstead was surprised at how frequently the fort was hit. In the early evening Olmstead left the fort to judge the damage. Only then did he realize what a terrible beating the walls ninety inches thick had been given. He immediately realized that the fort would be lost to the Federals. It was just a question of how long it would take.

    The next day by noon there were holes in the walls of the fort. A shell went straight through the wall and started a fire dangerously near the powder magazine. If the fire reached the powder it would go up and take everyone in the fort. The fire was quickly put out, but Olmstead knew it was time to surrender.

    The defenders all surrendered, Olmstead last saying that he was giving up his sword but was confident he had not disgraced it. The battle demonstrated that weapons of destruction had outstripped measures of defense.

    The Federals took the fort and turned it into a prison which it remained until the end of the war. A new

    sport was also played in the fort. The oldest known photographic image of men playing baseball was taken in the fort.

    We stopped on the way off the island at Williams Seafood. We had stayed the previous night in Vidalia. You may associate that with Vidalia onions. In fact they have ads on the highway for Vidalia onions for rings. I wanted to order onion rings somewhere in the area. This seemed a good place so in addition to the cold boiled shrimp lunch we ordered an appetizer of onion rings. Well, what did I expect? Fried onion rings are always a bit greasy. Beyond that they were just about perfect. It goes without saying they were battered, not breaded. The onions were sweet.

    Well, we crossed over to South Carolina. I have been expecting some sort of problem with our Toyota. It was darn foolhardy to take a Toyota with nearly (now more than) 150,000 miles on a trip like this. But the honey is still running sweetly. The worst thing is that we have to add a quart of oil every thousand miles. The second worst problem is that bugs are tough to get off the windshield. I don't know much about cars but I have to believe that is one well-engineered motor. I don't require of a car that it looks sexy or get me pretty girls. That I can do for myself. All I require is that when I turn the key the car takes me where I want to go and that a car not require too much in maintenance. That's my car.

    We drove to Charleston, South Carolina (or more accurately Mt. Pleasant). The most cost-effective motel is a place called Masters Inn Economy. The sign is on the highway but it took us three passes past the motel to figure how to get to it. It is like a maze of streets. Then when we actually got to the desk we found one guy running the place trying to cover the work of about three. We check in and we do not get a key, we get a combination. They have a combination to get into the room. The claim is that that the combination is changed every new customer. There are five buttons on the combination lock but the three in our combination are worn while the other two are not. I really believe they change the combination each customer. I try to open the door. The combination does not work. I try it four or five times. I go back to the office, a three or four minute walk. Again a wait in line. The guy tells me the motel was "a little bent in the hurricane." I should pull back on the handle while I enter the combination. I walk back to the office. Back into line. This time I have to wait for the guy to be free and he walks to the room. The lock needs to be oiled. The guy says it will be done next week. It just means there is an extra step in opening the lock.

    Most of the evening I work on my log. I see a documentary on the History Channel about the Scopes Trial. There is also an interesting piece on PBS called "Affluenza" about buying and consuming too much.

    09/16/97--Charleston, South Carolina: Patriots Point:

    I woke up about 6:40 AM. Evelyn was a little restless and asked what time it was. I think she tried to go back to sleep. I envy her ability to have a cold and get rid of it. I picked up a small cold in Dallas, but I am still coughing from it.

    Probably a good thing that I did wake up early. They are doing some sort of construction across the way. This motel may have been economy but it still was no bargain.

    They had a continental breakfast. Crispy Creme doughnuts, coffee, and choice of three kinds of juice: orange, apple, and grapefruit. They have pineapples in their logo and you see a lot of pineapples all around. Guess what kind of juice they do not have.

    As we leave I see two cigars that someone has thrown on the ground next to our car. On the curb someone has left a beer bottle. Why is it that what people litter is so heavily correlated to vices? When is the last time you saw somebody leave a book on a street curb? Have you ever seen a necktie blowing down the street? Do these people think they cannot take these things home and throw them out because they will look bad? Or is it they figure that if they don't respect their bodies they don't have to respect the environment?

    We headed out for Fort Sumter but for the first time had to rearrange plans for the weather. It looks like we have a rainy morning. Let's hold Sumter off for tomorrow. Instead we drove into Charleston to Beth Elohim Congregation.

    Beth Elohim Congregation was founded 1750. They had their first synagogue on the same site 1780-1792 in a converted cotton gin. A second was built in 1792 and burned in 1838. This building was built 1840, the second oldest in the United States. It is the oldest in continuous use and the birthplace of Reform Judaism.

    Well, this isn't our day. The synagogue is closed for renovation. Apparently when Hurricane Hugo came through it lifted the top off the synagogue, then put it right back in just the same place. Nobody knew it had happened. But water gets into the cracks. So they are doing repairs.

    After a quick visit to the souvenir counter of Beth Elohim we headed out to Patriots Point. We did not look at Charleston in any real detail, but it has a surprisingly tropical look. There is extensive use of palmetto trees and a building style that would almost remind you of a place like Barbados.

    After touring the U. S. S. Alabama Patriots Point may have been a bit redundant. Patriots Point, called the largest maritime museum in the world, has four boats to tour. There is the destroyer Laffey, the submarine Clamagore, the Coast Guard cutter Ingham. But the centerpiece is the aircraft carrier Yorktown. There was a carrier Yorktown that was sunk at Midway. Almost immediately a carrier being built was given the name. (There have been five different Yorktowns.) This is that carrier. It was used extensively in the remaining Pacific war. It helped to sink the Yamato. A documentary was shot of its action, The Fighting Lady, and it won the Oscar. The carrier also picked up Apollo 8 out of the water when it landed.

    There are certain obvious differences between a battleship like the U. S. S. Alabama and a carrier like the U. S. S. Yorktown. Obviously the latter has to have a hanger deck and a flight deck. It does not have guns. But beyond that the two are fairly similar. The galley's look a lot alike. So do the captain's quarters.

    A carrier has even more posh Admiral's quarters. But the galleys are very similar. So are the engine rooms. They may not be in the same place, but they are much alike.

    They had a carrier veteran, Ed Fellabom, not from the Yorktown, give us a guided tour. I asked who named the ships and made the decision to reuse the name Yorktown. "The Navy Department." (I was hoping for something more explicit.) I asked if they were responsible to keep the names of all boats unique. "Yeah, pretty unique." (I think he didn't understand the question.)

    Well, he took us around the ship. It is divided into seven tours that cover about 40% of the carrier. It is just as well they do not cover the whole thing, because it would take forever. We saw how there was a coordinate system that told exactly where on the ship each room is. I guess if you know that the tailor is in a compartment at a given address you then know how to find it.

    More so than on the Alabama, there are a lot of little one-compartment museums. One will be momentos of the Destroyer Escort Service. That is not what it sounds like, those are ships. You go through the torpedo workshop and the machine shop and the butcher shop. There is a little display of women in the armed services. There is a tabletop model of a scene from the battle of Leyte Gulf.

    Every few minutes they announced that you could get a taste of original war years by going to the ship's galley and buying lunch. Evelyn asked if the food as they served it really was accurate to the period. He said that it was much more cooked to modern tastes. Probably that means it had less fat than it would have in the war years. It did look like the vegetables were overcooked.

    When the tour was over Ed said that he was pleased that people were attentive and asked lots of questions. Then he said something interesting. He said spoke of veterans and said that veterans want people to know about what the war was like. "We are fearful a lot of history has been... revised." It is true that we have relatively recently had new interpretations of World War II. The Smithsonian was going to have an exhibit on the bombing of Hiroshima that would brand the crew of the Enola Gay as war criminals. There was an uproar over that and the exhibit was canceled. I have my own thoughts about Hiroshima and nuclear weapons. Or at least I have reserved judgment on a subject that most of the rest of the world has no doubt about.

    Before I take a point of view, particularly if it is one of these things that just about everybody knows and agrees on, I occasionally like to play this little game with myself. I am a lawyer and I am arguing for the opposite point of view. I am being the Devil's Advocate. Now I grew up in the nuclear era. Everybody lived under the Sword of Damocles of nuclear weapons. I went through the old "duck and cover" exercises in grade school. Like everybody else I hated nuclear weapons. But I play the Devil's Advocate role with nuclear weapons and I am not sure they have been the curse that we all think of them as being. In fact my best arguments have been in favor of nuclear weapons. So I am not telling the reader what to believe, but I would like to list some of the arguments in favor.

    The first shock argument is that using nuclear weapons against the Japanese was like a slap in the face to someone hysterical. It shook them out of a mind-set that was hurting them. These days you hear arguments all sorts of ways but I think the best arguments say that the Japanese would have kept fighting until a lot more were dead than were killed by the bombings. The bombings were a slap in the face to say you will not win and you will destroy yourself playing out the game. In a way the bombings may have even given the Japanese an honorable way out of the war, but I am convinced that more Japanese survived the war because of the bombing and it left more latitude for friendship between the two countries since there were not hundreds of thousands killed on both sides. So this adds up to saying the admittedly weird statement if taken out of context that Japan ended better off because of the bombings.

    Then nuclear weapons remained around convincing us that if we fight too much with the communists we could be in for some real trouble in the form of nuclear retaliation. There probably would have been another world war over something like Russia arming Cuba. There was not because it was all played out with nuclear weapons that never were used. Again nuclear weapons probably saved lives, this time in the millions.

    And certainly our standard of living is better because countries have not had to field huge armies. Nuclear weapons have meant that people have not had to disrupt their lives for national defense.

    Nuclear weapons have slowed our movement to biological and chemical weapons. We have not needed them because we have had nuclear weapons. And frankly they are a lot scarier. One of the nice things about a nuclear bomb is that it is not subtle. You see that mushroom cloud and you have a really good idea that somebody had it in for you. If you and most the people you know come down with a cold that just gets worse and worse, and soon your whole country is debilitated, at what point do you decide you have been attacked? But of course if you develop such a germ, there is always the danger that the news will get out and you will be threatened with nuclear weapons.

    Finally there is this nice discovery that if you actually use nukes, it will trigger nuclear winter. It is a weapon you dare not use because it is as destructive to the person wielding it as it is to the person attacked.

    I am not telling anyone that they should love nuclear weapons. I am not even saying that I have decided that they were a good thing, though admittedly I am starting to lean that way. But I do think it is worth looking at the possibility that they have gotten a bad rap. I think there are good arguments that the world is better off for their presence. The causes of World War I to me have always looked like a sort of immaturity on the part of nations. It was nations acting a lot like children. Nuclear weapons have taught the lesson that major powers cannot behave like children. And we may be better off for the lesson.

    Well, enough of that. We had lunch at the snack bar. Polish sausage and Pepsi. I wanted to go back and see what was said about the super-battleship Yamoto. This and the sister ship Musashi were the largest battleships ever built. 843 feet long, 128 feet wide, 34 foot draft, displacement of 64,170 long tons, nine eighteen-inch guns. It must have been pretty amazing. Not really useful but pretty amazing.

    Well, we continued our tour. We finished up the Yorktown. We went to the submarine. We returned to the Yorktown at 4 PM for their showing of the documentary The Fighting Lady. Now it had rained a little in the morning, but not much. That turned out to be a good thing since we would have killed ourselves trying to do Sumter and Patriots Point in one day. But had it not rained a whole lot, we would have been able to see Sumter. Anyway sitting in the theater we heard booming. We didn't think it was guns on the soundtrack. I guessed that the sky had really opened up while we were watching the movie. When we came out at about 5:15 PM the ground was wet everywhere outside and the crowds had mostly gone. We probably missed a good storm. It took about an hour to tour the destroyer and the coast guard cutter. By the time we were done we were sweaty and exhausted. The gift shop had nothing of interest. We considered going back to the room and taking showers before dinner. But then the evening would be gone by the time we were done eating. On the way back we stopped at a place called Toucan's and I had a tuna steak sandwich. Mediocre.

    We got back to the room and the history channel had a documentary on samurai tying in to our last trip. It extended to Kamikaze so it fit into earlier in the day. The next hour was about the German rocket program and the slave labor to build the V-2. I would have like to see what they said about the forced labor, but I fell asleep. The previous night they had a piece on the Scopes Trial. Everything seems to fit into everything else. I watched "Law and Order" at 11 PM and then went to sleep.

    09/17/97--Charleston, South Carolina: Forts Sumter and Moultrie:

    I was up about 6 AM, and worked on my log until about 7 AM. We went for the continental breakfast and then sat in the lobby working on our logs.

    From there we headed out to Fort Moultrie. Perhaps it is due in large part to the location, but Fort Moultrie is a really pretty place to be. The palmettos give the place a sort of tropical feel, a lot like the rest of Charleston. The fort itself is a minor part of history, though it was the place from which Fort Sumter was shelled.

    It was part of a set of coastal defense forts set up to hold off the British in 1776. In June of that year it held off nine warships saving Charleston from invasion by sea. The British came within 4000 feet, but were held off. The fortification was made of palmetto logs as just what was near at hand, but their fibrous interior proved to be just what was needed to hold off bullets. Only three hundred men turn the British fleet out of these waters.

    In 1780 the British bypassed Moultrie, and Charleston fell to them. The fort was destroyed by storms, as was its successor which was built in 1798 and lasted just six years.

    Another fort was built on the site in 1809. In 1840 Fort Sumter was built on an island in the middle of the bay. It was in the disagreement of whether Sumter would be a Federal fort or belong to South Carolina that sparked the Civil War. It was Moultrie that shelled Fort Sumter. The Civil War was the last real action the fort saw, though it was mobilized in 1901 for the Spanish-American War. It continued to be used to protect Charleston through the end of World War II (when it controlled Troop movements in and out of Charleston). After that there seemed little purpose and it was turned over to the National Park Service.

    The Visitors Center has a twenty-minute film, then we explored the fort ourselves. We did not have time to finish it and make the 10:30 AM boat to Fort Sumter so we left at 10 AM, deciding to finish later.

    We drove back to Patriots Point to pick up the boat to Sumter. A fellow traveler has a T-shirt that says "100% Hard-core Jesus Freak. I may be strange but I'll never change." It almost sounds like he thinks it is a minority opinion and some sort of a daring statement. And I guess if he thinks that he is making a strange or daring statement, he is strange.

    On to Sumter.

    This is it. The beginning of the Civil War. Going from Shiloh to Vicksburg to Chickamauga to Chattanooga to Kennesaw we had a sort of continuity in this trip. It was one long story. Now we are going back and picking up the first chapter. Gettysburg was originally planned, but we will make that a separate weekend trip. We went through Atlanta, which would have been a sort of culmination, but there were no battlefields to visit. All Atlanta was a battlefield. The way you see that now is that it looks pretty new. There are lesser sections but like Dallas, Atlanta looks like generally a nice place to live. That may be in part because Sherman wiped it mostly away and they had to start over. But this is the story of the first shots.

    South Carolina did not want to see a Republican elected to the Presidency of the United States. In 1860 Lincoln was elected and South Carolina decided it wanted no part of the resulting Union. South Carolina left the Union very early in 1861. Once South Carolina seceded from the Union, it seemed likely that the first danger spot of conflict would be Fort Sumter. It sat off Charleston and was held by Major Robert Anderson, a Kentuckian, but a man who did not want to see the Union broken up. He quietly moved his men from Fort Moultrie and had occupied the fort on December 26, 1860. South Carolina claimed that this action was an act of war. Most of the North considered Anderson a hero and just doing his duty to the government in a non-belligerent way. Jefferson Davis went to Washington to complain to President Buchanan. The latter decided to do nothing and let his successor, Abraham Lincoln handle things. Meanwhile South Carolina artillery fired on an unarmed supply ship that quietly turned tail. These were the first shots of the war. By February 1 there were seven states who had seceded. They sent representatives to Montgomery, Alabama and there in the State House they elected Jefferson Davis to be President of the new country, the Confederate States of America. On March 4, Abraham Lincoln became President of the United States of America. The two adversaries were in place.

    The Governor of South Carolina handed over responsibility to Jefferson Davis and Buchanan handed it over to Lincoln at his inauguration. Davis sent General Pierre Beauregard to head the militia. Lincoln was torn on what to do. Fighting would start a war, withdrawing the men would anger his party. And the men in Sumter were running out of food and supplies. Beauregard sent a message demanding Anderson's surrender. Anderson said in a helpful way he could not surrender, but his supplies would run out on April 15 and he would have to abandon Sumter at that time.

    Lincoln decided to restock Sumter with unarmed supply boats. Then if they were fired upon, it would be the South that started hostilities against a peaceful mission and if not, then at least the deadline when the fort ran out of supplies would be pushed off. He did not consider re-supplying a fort from unarmed boats a provocative act. He was wrong.

    Davis decided that Sumter had to be taken before Lincoln could re-supply it. On April 12, 1861, at 3:20 AM, Beauregard sent a message to Anderson saying he would have to surrender. Anderson did not respond. At 4:30 AM war started in earnest with a mortar shell from Fort Moultrie fired over the fort. Beauregard got an opportunity to demonstrate his artillery skills to his old West Point artillery teacher, Anderson who was now on the receiving end of what he had taught. For thirty-three hours the fort was bombarded. Toward the end Beauregard started sending heated cannonballs in the hopes of starting fires. The fort was set afire and there was danger of it setting the powder magazine on fire. Anderson found he could fight the fire or fight Beauregard but not both. He surrendered with only one fatality. (Actually there were none until the Federals started to leave, the Confederates wanted to salute their bravery and gave them a gun salute. There was some sort of accident.)

    The news that fighting had broken out galvanized the North and the South. Each side was thrilled at the prospect of a short exciting war in which the other side was quickly taught a lesson, but nobody would be hurt badly. Both were destined to be disappointed. The great disillusionment would be at First Manassas.

    Sumter remained in Confederate hands until the end of the war. It became a symbol of the secession. One morning very shortly after the war ended, April 14, 1865, Anderson returned to Sumter and again raised the Federal Flag. It would have made a great news story. However that evening some American President got himself shot watching a play.

    We took a boat out to the island talking to fellow passengers including some real Civil War bugs. They were surprised that we did not have relatives in the war. You are left on the island for an hour. We explored the fort taking our share of pictures. You can see Fort Moultrie looking ominous in the distance over the water, east by northeast. The hour goes quickly.

    The boat on the way and back offers a nice view of the Charleston skyline. But it also offers a view that we do not get from home. This is pelicans. They are fascinating birds to watch. In flights they look like something prehistoric. They look like pterodactyls. In fact, I think there is a scene at the end of Jurassic Park (the movie) where Sam Neill watches a flock of pelicans. They patrol over the water, probably hunting. Suddenly they will cannonball onto the surface. They look like they have crashed but they probably have actually just found lunch. They sit on the water for a little while, they take off and fly again. I would have liked to get a good photograph of a pelican in flight, but I never was lucky enough to get a good view in time.

    After we returned to the mainland we had a quick lunch at Taco Bell. Then we returned to Fort Moultrie for the little bit we had not seen. Most of what we saw was not that interesting, but we did see the launching point of the H. L. Hunley.

    A train had brought the H. L. Hunley from Mobile to the base of Fort Moultrie. The description on the box called it a "veritable coffin." It was only half a joke. Late night on February 7, 1864, the H. L. Hunley set out from Sullivan's Island. The Hunley was an eight-man submarine. Eight men operated a camshaft that propelled the boat. At the end of the submarine was a pole with an explosive charge. The Hunley had already proved itself deadly. It had killed a crew of five. In a later test it killed a crew of eight.

    The latter crew included its inventor Horace L. Hunley, advocate of submarines for the Confederacy. There was just not enough oxygen inside for its crew. But Beauregard was desperate to find a way to break the Northern blockade. It had been a peaceful night for the Housatonic when the officer of the deck saw something that looked like a log next to the boat. But it moved unnaturally. It was too close to aim the guns. They could only wait while the strange craft drilled a hole in the side of the Housatonic and set a charge. The Housatonic sank with a loss of five crew members. At least people knew where it went. The Hunley disappeared and was not heard from again. It has recently been found at some distance away and still stuck in silt. The Housatonic was the first boat in history to be sunk by a submarine.

    That was it for what we had planned in Charleston, though in truth it was more in Mt. Pleasant. We headed to North Carolina. The number of palmetto trees fell off rapidly.

    We got a room at a Super 8 outside Charlotte. Then went out to eat. It was about a twenty-minute drive, but we found a Thai restaurant. The water tasted funny. I did not want too much. But when the food came it was aces. Evelyn got some sort of yellow chicken curry. I got a ground chicken dish. I have never had a bad Thai dish, at home or in Thailand. I don't think the Thais ever learned to make dishes that weren't great.

    It just isn't in their culture. Hey, but I have heard their economy is failing. They seemed in good condition when I was there. and they were such nice people.

    We came back in time to hear most of the History Channel's program on the Black Death, then the last fifty minutes of The Miracle Worker. Evelyn and I have a discussion on when a baby starts associating a word with the object.

    09/18/97--Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina: Museums:

    Well, this chunk of vacation that seemed inexhaustible the first few days now has been whittled down to the length of a Thanksgiving weekend. Four days left. This has been a really long vacation using up some leftover vacation from previous years and pretty much all our vacation from this year. And what will we have to show for it? Well, I will have this log so I can go back and feel it again. Just as I am writing we passed the 8/9 point on the trip and we have 1/9 left to go. (I have a spreadsheet that figures it for me.)

    Breakfast was decent. The guy who ran it had doughnuts in a Tupperware box. He would take them out of a Crispy Creme box, three at a time to make sure nobody over-indulged. With the juice nobody would have made that mistake. I think it was Tang made at half strength. The cereal was in a canister that poured out a pre-measured bowl. Also the ice machine made you pay twenty-five cents. That was our first pay ice machine in a motel. You get to be a connoisseur of ice machines. The best is a Scotsman. On those you press a button and a hopper fills up. Perhaps the ones with a big bin that fills with ice are as good, but you don't know how long the ice has been there.

    Well, we have come to the end of the good weather. I think today is supposed to be a rainy day. Not periods of rain, but actually rainy. It has certainly started gray and wet.

    The James K. Polk Historical Museum is a fairly simple little museum to a President born locally. Polk was the 11th President of the united States, born in Mecklenburg County just a few feet from the museum.

    A stone pyramid marks the spot.

  • Polk was born in 1795 on a 250-acre farm. His parents were of Presbyterian stock but somewhat
  • free-thinkers. At his baptism the minister required a profession of faith from Polk's father. The minister did not get it and Polk went un-baptized until near his death when he was baptized Methodist. His grandfather hated Methodists, incidentally and in his epitaph the grandfather claimed to foresee

  • "that church and state will join their pow'r
  • and mis'ry on this country show'r
  • and Methodist with their camp bawling
  • will be the cause of this down falling."
  • At age eleven he moved to Tennessee, attended academies, went to university back in North Carolina then set up a law practice in Tennessee. He went from law to politics.

    Major events of interest in his career (and this ties into Houston and San Jacinto):

    • admitted Texas to United States, 1845
    • declared war on Mexico 1846
    • signed treaty with Mexico 1948, in which Mexico agrees to sell California and New Mexico for $15M.

    He also negotiated land from the British for the state of Oregon. Here he compromised rather than insisting on the land of his campaign slogan "Fifty-Four Forty or Fight" (insisting on land up to the parallel at 54 degrees, 40 minutes).

    They have a dull little film telling the biography of Polk. They don't want to show anything inaccurate to history so they avoid showing you the actors. To show life in this area when he was growing up you hear offstage sounds of trees being felled and just see branches thrown in a pile. Perhaps they show you a hand wielding an ax or a bare foot on a stair. When they get to Polk as an adult they have paintings to show. When they talk about the Texas war they just show you a single red star.

    Polk got his party's nomination because Van Buren would not take a stand positive on the annexation of Texas. (It didn't matter much since Texas was annexed the day before his inauguration.) He was very much a compromise candidate. They called him Young Hickory since he idolized Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson. His big contribution was to handle the Mexican crisis that resulted from annexation. That involved war and the settlement. In 1849 he gave up office and died four months out of office a his home in Nashville, Tennessee."

    While they have not preserved Polk's home they did preserve a home of the period. This was from a family somewhat richer than he was and had four rooms in the main house, two upstairs. It looks tiny and Spartan, but of course those were the times. There is a separate building with a kitchen to lessen the probability of fire. Today there were four women there, learning to cook in he colonial style. The teacher was from New Jersey and had taught on the Monmouth Battlefield. We did not want to disturb them and left for Greensboro. The rainy day the locals wanted has fizzled toward noon.

    We have arranged that we would get together tonight with Peter and Joan Lux. Peter and I and Lester Meyers were some of the stranger kids of Longmeadow Junior High School and later of Longmeadow High School, Longmeadow, Massachusetts. There is a Frank Zappa song about "Let's Make the Water Turn Black." That always reminds me of Lux. He was the weird science guy of Longmeadow and I was the weird math guy. (Lester was just weird.) Pete used to put alcohol into a syringe and shoot it through a Bunsen burner at plastic soldiers to make a very realistic looking War of the Worlds death ray. I forget what he did in his garage once but all the spider webs turned black.

    I was already a fan of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, but he introduced me to Castle of Frankenstein which was on a much higher level. We really liked science fiction and horror films. One of the most memorable days of my youth was July 4, 1964, when I spent the afternoon at Pete's place bopping caps with a hammer. Then we went to Forest Park to see real fireworks. Then we went separately home to watch for the first time on the late show the 1943 Claude Raines version of The Phantom of the Opera. That was a Saturday night. Saturday, July 4, 1992, was the 28th anniversary (calendars are on a 28-year cycle when not screwed up by the end of a century), and I watched the film on tape to celebrate twenty-eight years.

    And there was another memorable day. Pete, Lester, and I went into Springfield to the Capital Theater to see the double feature of The Curse of Frankenstein and The Horror of Dracula. That was the first time I was aware that there was a Hammer Studios in Britain making horror films, especially with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. In the years to come that studio and its output would be almost an obsession with me.

    Peter introduced me to the sublimely cynical Maxims of La Rochefoucauld. We used to write our own cynical maxims. Pete would write ones like "Sometimes I wish I were a tree. Did you ever see one tree betray another?" Not that Peter ever had that much trouble with people betraying him, but I think he wanted to be philosophically ready in case it ever happened. Mine would be more like "Good always triumphs over evil since it is the prerogative of the victor to define his side as good."

    I went to the same college as Lester, though I saw him infrequently. Peter the last I had heard had moved to Greensboro when his father was transferred there. When I was twenty-eight or so I decided I might want to track down Lester and Peter. I failed with Lester. Peter on the other hand turned out to be living in Greensboro and took about five minutes to track down. We got together maybe three times. Twice AT&T sent me to Greensboro on business, once Peter came to New York. Last year when the Internet made things a little easier I tracked down and talked to both Peter and Lester. Individually on the phone, anyway.

    Well, this is supposed to be the All-American city by its own admission. I see they are advertising a "Gentlemen's Club and Exotic Car Wash." Yup, that's All-American.

    We checked into a Motel 6 and went to a Steak 'n Shake. I got a steak sandwich with sides of chili and a salad. The salad and chili were better than the steak-burger. Evelyn was not as keen on her side orders.

    She got baked beans which were a lot like Heinz with sugar and onion added. About as hearty as a Tootsie Roll. She also got onion rings and they were breaded.

    At the next table there is a discussion of "Cow Tipping." A woman was saying "Now he doesn't believe in cow tipping." Now I believe in cow tipping, but only if she was really good.

    The Greensboro History Museum is the guardian of exhibits on local history. Perhaps the most interesting is an exhibit on the life of William Sidney Porter. Porter was born on Polecat Creek in Guilford County. At age nineteen he moved to Texas where he became a teller at the First National Bank of Austin. At that time he did a little writing, some of which he sold. When it was discovered there were funds missing from he bank he fled first to New Orleans and then Honduras. He returned when his wife became ill and died. He was sentenced to five years in prison. He had jobs that left him spare time in prison so he returned to writing under a pen name. He wrote under several, but finally decided he liked best to call himself O. Henry. He moved to New York for material, but wrote about all the places he had been. He would publish two collections of stories a year. He lived just eight years in New York before he died. But the stories of O. Henry have remained popular.

    They have a room on the ethnic mix in Greensboro including the Scotch-Irish, the Jewish, and blacks including a re-creation of the famous lunch counter sit-in. Another room recounts the history of Dolley adison.

    The Military History Section has pistols and sword of wars from the Revolution through World War II. I noticed a cheaply made sword that got its strength from being bent Along its length so it liked in cross section like a "<". I think the Japanese Samurai sword-makers have little to worry about. They had guns of the Mexican war and Civil Wars, a bust of Stephen Douglas, some Civil War letters, and some Confederate spears. Always of some interest were the propaganda posters from the two World Wars. One shows a women carrying shopping bags and thinking of soldiers carrying pack and saying "I'll carry mine too." It says "Trucks and tires must last." She is such a noble and good example. So what is she doing with these bags so full of stuff she bought? Doesn't she know there's a war on?

    Then there is a hall of transportation that has four antique cars: two Model Ts, a Cadillac, and an Olds. They also have a diorama with a Conestoga Wagon.

    Upstairs they have recreation of buildings that would have been in town late last century.

    From there we went to the Witherspoon Gallery. This is the local art gallery. This is not like art museums in Texas. Although they have a nice room with a collection of Matisses, most of the other artists are lesser known including whole rooms of Petah Coyne, Marsden Hartley, Suzanne McClelland, and Tobi Kajn. These are modern artists and it is not always easy to tell what they are saying.

    By then it was nearly 5 PM. We went back to the room to freshen up and I brought my log up to date since I was going out in the evening and would not get a later chance.

    At 7 PM we went to the airport to pick up Lux who is returning from a business trip. I almost hated to leave the car. They were talking about L. A. Confidential.

    We went in an Peter's plane was even a few minutes early. We talked about what we each were doing and about old times. We met Joan Lux at a restaurant called Lucky 32. We had a very nice dinner. I had soft-shell crabs. Good, but they had a garlic flavor here I was not used to. After dinner we dropped over to his house. Even though it was about 10:30 PM we called Lester. Peter and Lester had not spoken for almost twenty years so that was something of an occasion. We talked for a half hour on the phone. One thing we talked about was getting back together at some point, possibly in Washington. We stayed at the Lux's till about midnight, then headed back to the motel.

    09/19/97--Greensboro and Outer Banks, North Carolina:

    We were on the road to Raleigh by about 8:20 AM. No breakfast, but then we ate very well the night before.

    The weather was supposed to not be cooperating at this point by earlier reports and it is a foggy morning, but it is supposed to burn off. We have had just a bit of rain, but not enough to hurt anything really.

    Evelyn is driving and I pull out the book of O. Henry stories.

    The museum was selling a Dover Thrift Edition of "The Gift of the Magi" and other stories. Apparently we don't have any O. Henry at home, as strange as that sounds. It is some oversight but our catalog does not list any O. Henry. So we get a collection of sixteen stories on acid-free paper for one dollar. This is certainly a bargain. As it happens, I am a great fan of Dover Books. This is a purely unsolicited testimonial, but more wonderful books come from Dover than any other publisher. Sometimes they re-typeset, sometime they use photographic offset hard to find books, they publish them on acid-free paper with superior bindings and sell them for a price somewhere in the range from cheap to reasonable. I got enthusiastic about Dover when I was in Junior High when my birthday gift was a bunch of books and I discovered I could get more books and more interesting ones if I got Dover since they were less expensive. The one book I most wanted when I was in Junior High was Seven Science Fiction Novels by H. G. Wells. I got tired of borrowing it from the library. It turned out to be fairly affordable in a Dover edition. These days obscure historical books like Sir Richard Francis Burton's accounts of his searches for the origins of the Nile, The Lake Regions of Central Africa, a great tale of adventure, but it would be out of print if there wasn't an inexpensive, high-quality Dover edition. (Let's see, that's Toyotas, HP Palmtops, and now Dover Books. All testimonials unsolicited.) Anyway, I cannot claim that O. Henry has decent plots. He tells little five-page stories that end up with an ironic ending. These are what a friend called "tomato surprise" stories. You get to the end and you find a piece of irony. His best known story is "The Gift of the Magi" in which a young couple is so much in love and so poor that each has to sacrifice the thing he most values to buy a gift for the other, then it turns out the gift is useless since the other has made just the wrong sacrifice. In this case it is a story of bitter irony. Most of his stories have happier endings. His stories are simple and easy to understand and his writing style is very picturesque. Today he would probably not find a market but he captured turn-of-the-century New York very well. There is room for obscure art, but there is also room for art for the masses, and that is what O. Henry created.

    The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh is the State museum and it has a fairly good collection. It is three floors, though you come in on the top floor. You work your way down from there. The top floor is 20th Century art. Twentieth Century art like twentieth century classical music has been experimental and intended to appeal to experts with virtues new to this century rather than ones obvious to the uninitiated.

    Some of the art was interesting. A lot was, well, obscure. A reasonably okay nude self-portrait of an artist supposedly gets a special meaning by being hung upside-down. It sounds like sham to me. Of course, they do have examples of Andrew Wyeth, Georgia O'Keeffe and Thomas Hart Benton. There was actually a piece of some scientific interest. This is a matrix of vertical wires something like thirty inches long. By setting one vibrating you see waves go through the sculpture and hear it make odd noises. This is a sculpture by Harriet Bertoia. They have a Calder mobile.

    One problem I did have was that it is a hard museum to see all without retracing your steps. Perhaps we should have planned better using the floor-plan.

    The main floor has mostly artists who were unfamiliar to me, unlike the museum at Fort Worth. But they still had some familiar artists including Jan Brueghel the Elder with a harbor scene. Also represented were Monet, Botticelli, and Rubens. The also had sections on ancient art and of Judaica.

    The lowest level had a temporary exhibit of rock and roll related art. Personally I am not a big fan of most rock and roll, but they had things like psychedelic dioramas, enlarged album covers. Some of the pieces did not convey a lot to me, but I doubt if it was because I did not know rock and roll.

    We took the elevator back up to the entrance level. Even that was an experience since it is an external elevator and gives you a nice view of an external sculpture garden.

    From there we headed out for lunch. Somehow we had a hard time finding places to eat. We went quite a distance before finding a Golden Corral. This was a good choice. I had a small lunch steak and it was very good. The service was quite good and most everything we ate was good. I had not heard of the chain before, but I would look for it again. I should have known it was good because they had a big parking lot and it was still hard to find an empty space.

    We continued on to Kitty Hawk and the Outer Banks area. There is no interstate as we have come to know it, just one-lane each direction roads. The state apparently plants colorful wildflowers in stretches along the road. That's a pretty cheap way to beautify. I am surprised more states don't do the same thing. A lot of this driving seems to be right through forests. At least there are a line of trees on each side of the row and it is hard to tell if it is just a strip of trees or the edge of a large forest. The Carolinas do not seem to be the Bible Belt. There are far fewer Jesus messages on the road.

    About 5:15 PM we got to the Outer Banks near Kitty Hawk. There are a series of islands connected by bridges. This is clearly a ritzier part of North Carolina than what we have seen before. The houses look nicer, the roads are white and clean. It is sort of a resort area. It reminded me a lot of Long Beach Island in New Jersey. Beach houses and expensive seafood restaurants.

    Evelyn chose a place that had only five rooms from the AAA listing. I rather expected that there would be no room. I was right. The first place did not have vacancies but recommended a place called The Buccaneer. It was about $55 and gave us a suite with two rooms and four beds. It was right across the street from a sand dune and beyond the dune was a stretch of beach. Beyond the beach was the vast Atlantic. Still, the toilet does not flush very well. We establish ourselves in the room, then go out.

    We walk over to the beach. The sun is just getting ready to set over our left shoulder as we face the water. Small birds-at a guess sandpipers-are picking up food, perhaps something like shrimp, being washed up by the water. They play tag with the edge of the water. As the wave goes out they peck up food from the smooth beach that the water has just receded from. Then the next wave comes and they flee from it, maybe an inch or so ahead of the wave. Here and there are people fishing in the waters. Then there are the beach houses in which the residents seem to be having laid back sorts of parties.

    One thing the bird may be looking for is small crabs. You see them. Just slightly the pink side of white. They look like little white spiders, and if truth be known are close relatives of little white spiders. You see them scuttling across the sand. (Does any animal but a crab move by scuttling?) They look like something the wind has picked up.

    After about an hour on the beach we return to the room. The room gets the Sci-Fi Channel so I work on my log and watch "Kolchak. "

    At 8 PM we go out for dinner and I try something I have never ordered by themselves before, fried oysters. I have always thought that I didn't like oysters. They were always the unwelcome part of a fried combination platter. In fact they are the part that seems to have the fewest fans. When I grew up my brother was allergic to oysters and they always seemed unwholesome to me. They are sort of the licorice of seafood. I had some oyster stew earlier and sort of liked the oyster part. I guess I sort of find them a delicacy now and they are the flavor of the month. Even Evelyn who taught me to like avocado and to like lobster is not ready for oysters. But I am hooked. You have a choice of side dishes and I got baked apple and a salad. Both are quite good. Evelyn got the more expensive meal with Crab Imperial. She asked the waiter what it was and he said "Crab with imperial sorts of things." It turned out to be a cream sauce, but my fried oysters were better. The baked apple side turned out to be pie filling but it had a lot of cinnamon.

    The History Channel had the Yul Brynner in The Buccaneer. Appropriate to be watching The Buccaneer at the Buccaneer. The problem is that we did not get the station on the cable so we got the picture scrambled. We got the sound but not the picture. Luckily, we could listen to the sound and know what was happening. Unfortunately, this is a good way to fall asleep. I did but awoke in time to hear the historians discuss the accuracy. They disagreed with the Park Ranger who had told us about the battle. They thought that Laffitte's men were important in the battle itself. The ranger thought that they were only important for the munitions they brought.

    It is funny how we keep having things tying into other things. This movie ties into the visit to New Orleans. We saw a TV documentary on the Scopes Trial after having visited Dayton, Tennessee. We saw a documentary on the V-2 on TV which ties into Von Braun and the visit to Huntsville. One thing after another seems to be tying together. The Polk Museum ties into the museum at San Jacinto. There seems to be a sort of synchronicity and a set of odd coincidences.

    09/20/97--Kitty Hawk, North Carolina: The Wright Brothers Memorial; Newport News, Virginia: The Mariners' Museum:

    I was up early, worked on my log a little in another room, then returned to bed. Sometime around 7 AM we were both up and I suggested that we take advantage of the early morning beach. Evelyn was skeptical that it would be warm enough, but when I said that I was going she said she would come. There were already people out on the beach. The water was a bit cold, maybe about like we had it in the pool a week before, but since the air was not cold, I decided it would be unlikely that I could get Evelyn in. We stood and talked for a while wading a bit, then headed back. Breakfast was handfuls of cereal in the room. That was about all we wanted after the big meal the night before. Then we headed for the site that had brought us to Kitty Hawk, the Wright Brothers Memorial.

    Curiously enough there are two different sites from which the first flight took place. The memorial is on the hill from which the Wrights did their experiments, but it actually is at some distance from where the flight took place. Before memorial could be built the hill had to be stabilized. The wind had moved it 450 feet southwest of where it stood in 1903. This really was in those days mostly sand with little vegetation.

    The hill, really a sandpile, was at the mercy of the winds. The strong wind that brought the Wrights to Kitty Hawk had in the course of a few years moved the hill 450 feet. The corps of engineers first had to grow grass on the hill so that it would not blow away before they built a memorial. The memorial stands on the hill and in cross-section is sort of a narrow trapezoid so that two sides show bird wings sweeping back from the front of the monument. At the front their are statues of Orville and Wilbur. There is a door to go in, but it is currently closed. I was wearing my broad-brimmed hat and the wind did pick it up a bit, though from the base of the hill there was not so much wind. Of course, the Wrights chose Kitty Hawk after they had asked weather stations all over the country where there were the most reliable winds and had gotten a response that wind was pretty much a constant at Kitty Hawk.

    We drove down to the Visitors Center. There they had an exhibit on the history of the Wright Brothers and of their flight. The original flight was 120 feet and 12 seconds in the air. That flight became important in retrospect, they wanted a flight of 300 feet or more before they would allow themselves to go home for Christmas. The flights they achieved that morning were 120 feet, then two at 150 feet and 175 feet. With one last try they hit one about 970 feet. That fulfilled their goal nicely.

    There is a recreation of the shack they lived in, and the hangar where they re-built their plane. There is also a track showing where flights started from and landed. We walked from the starting point to the three landing points.

    Our final event at the Memorial was a talk on the Wrights. Now there has never been a feature film that I know of about the invention of the airplane. And I think it is for good reason. It is not a really dramatic story. It was hard work and perspiration. Then the plane was up in the air for twelve seconds. I watched an AMERICAN EXPERIENCE on the Wright Brothers and it was dull. It isn't easy to make the story exciting. You just have to keep in mind that this changed everything. There were a lot of problems standing between people and powered flight. The Wrights worked out the last bunch of the problems and flew. Even when they were doing it looked like a box kite with the gimmick of a motor. They didn't mention it here but the local newspaper editor supposedly knew all about the experiments and never wrote a story about it. He thought he had more important things to write about. Years later when asked why he considered these experiments so unimportant he just said "I was stupid."

    Wilbur born in 1867; Orville was born in 1871. Their father would give them kites as toys and they would make their own and sell them to schoolmates. They liked hi-tech playthings. They had hobbies like photography and the new safety bicycles. (As opposed to penny-farthing bicycles. Penny-farthing bicycles had a big wheel and a small wheel; safety bicycles had two wheels of equal size.)

    They read about glider experiments in Europe and thought that flexing the wing and shaping it in certain ways could give them more control and more natural control. They did endless experimentation and decided for control they had to flex both the wing and the tail at the same time. Late summer of 1900 they came to Kitty Hawk to experiment. They got to the point where they had a thousand successful glider flights in two months. They needed an engine that was light and powerful enough to be useable and none of the engine manufacturers would take it on. Finally their own associate Charlie Taylor built an engine for them himself. They also had to do experiments on the shape of propeller. With all this working they tried a flight. They asked a passerby if he would snap a picture, if the plane flew. Jack Daniels agreed taking picture, though afterward he said he had gotten so excited that he did not remember if he took the picture or not. His picture, however, has gone down in history.

    Well, so much for that, on to Newport News. We hit the road. I noticed a miniature golf range with large cascades of water. I guess they were taking advantage of the nearby ocean, but it did look unusual.

    It was now past 11 AM and we really did not have breakfast so we stopped at a restaurant with the provocative name Thai Cuisine. We had a yellow curried chicken and Pad Thai noodles. The place offered Thai, Chinese and American food. I would not have expected much from their Chinese and American, but they were clearly Thai-owned and that was great. A lot of ethnic restaurateurs come to this country, set up shop, then get frustrated when Americans don't appreciate their best stuff. When we lived in Detroit there was a Chinese restaurant where the owner loved to see us come in. She wanted us to try all kinds of terrific Chinese dishes. When anyone else came in the adults ordered Chop Suey and the kids would get hamburgers and hot dogs. She could make a living that way, but she wanted people to know good Chinese food. In some of the big cities people are more cosmopolitan. Not so Detroit. At least not in those days.

    We passed through the town of Coinjock. I kid you not.

    It was a drive of maybe ninety minutes to Newport News, Virginia and The Mariners' Museum, supposedly the largest maritime museum in the United States. It isn't a patch on The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England. But England has a lot of really interesting naval history to show off. Some of the exhibits seem a little arcane. For example they have a room devoted to ships designed by William Francis Gibbs. He designed six thousand Naval ships. That does not make them particularly interesting.

    Exhibits of interest include:

    • Age of Exploration: Videos on Columbus, Magellan, navigation instruments, books on navigation, weapons, etc.
    • Maritime Art: mostly from World War II, but there are some from the classic days of the high-masted ships.
    • One room of paintings was by Montague Dawson.
    • Lighthouses and Lighthouse Keepers: now how interesting do you think they can make that? An exhibit on lighthouse keeping is about as interesting as one on light housekeeping.
    • Whaling: Why just have this be a kiddy hands-on exhibit? They did not have a whole lot of what they could have had. It was of minimal general interest.
    • Antique Motorboats: mostly an ad for Chris-Craft.
    • Hall of Steam: This had models of steam ships, moving mockups of the engines, paintings, etc. They had a supposed expert on the Monitor talking about the Monitor and the Virginia (formerly the Merrimack). He was dressed as and supposed to be a crew member of the Monitor but his sympathies were with the Virginia. His claim was that it is ridiculous to say that the battle was a draw, the Monitor left and (he claimed) the Virginia returned to destroying ships. This is a detail that most history books do not confirm. In fact I had never heard anybody make the assertion before. He insists the Monitor lost the battle. He detested the film Ironclads for even suggesting that the battle was a draw and hence agreeing with the history books. When I get home I will have to see what Shelby Foote has to say on this subject.
    • Ship Models: they have a good collection and they had a builder there to talk about how ship models were built. I asked his how he researched it he told me how he went over plans for the boat and looked for clues in what was written about the boat. I asked if he ever found out after the fact that his model was wrong. Just about every time. Now this is a guy with some credibility.

    Their big new exhibit, three rooms, is on Piracy. They tell a little about the lives of the famous pirates of the Americas. They talk about the myths. Apparently only Edward Teach (a.k.a. Blackbeard) buried treasure. most pirates spent the money they got as fast as they stole it. They have a skull purported to have one time been inside Blackbeard's head. They have swords and other weapons. They have a skeleton in a gibbet. It is claimed by at least one staff member of the museum to be a real human skeleton, however the woman who was answering questions in the room itself said that it was not real. They also had a sub-exhibit of pirate films. The most common comment heard: "Walter Matthau played a pirate?"

    They also had a room of real boats off to the side in a separate building. They call it the small craft collection. Forty boats from five continents.

    There is also a separate wing that is just devoted to marine history of the Chesapeake Bay with things like a giant Fresnel lighthouse lens. They have exhibits on fishing, etc.

    We found a Motel 6 in town, our last motel of the trip. We set up, then went out for dinner. We passed a place called Bon Appetite which Evelyn remembered from the phone book had French and Vietnamese cuisine. What the heck. I got a dish with scallops and too much green pepper and onion for the price. I was not impressed, but they did have good bread. We ended up spending in the $30 range for a not too great dinner. Lunch was much better.

    In the room we worked on logs and watched TV. The program was called "Pretenders" and it was a lot like the film Scanners. Eventually it put me to sleep.

    09/21/97--First and Second Manassas:

    Sadly, even a vacation of thirty-seven days ends. As much as I like what I do for a living, the real acid test is, how do I feel at the end of a thirty-seven-day vacation? Do I feel better or worse than at the beginning? I have to admit that it is worse. Though I do not think I have the strength to keep up vacationing, either. As with many of these nights in motels the temperature range was uncomfortably large over night. I would wake up too cold and then wake up too hot.

    We were discussing over dinner if we want to just strike out for home or try to split up the trip with stopping and seeing things along the way. At least in the morning I think we should get as much mileage out of the way as possible. Along the way we should see if there is something worth visiting if we get

    tired of driving, but it is about a seven-hour drive.

    I should be concentrating on what it will be good to get back to. It will be good to get back to sane thermostats and toilets. The one which flushed okay last night does not seem to want to this morning.

    The other nice thing will be knowing without thinking twice what town I am in. Is it Raleigh? No, that was yesterday. No, I guess it is Newport, News. That would make this Virginia. That would make CNN and Atlanta a week ago. I guess that seems like a long time ago. Two weeks ago would be Beauvoir.

    We stopped for breakfast at a place called Belgian Waffles. Their menu listed "Our Famous Belgian Waffles." We have seen a lot of restaurants claiming their famous this and famous that. I want to know where are they getting all this fame? With whom are they famous? I mean it is easy to claim you waffles are famous, but what does that mean? I guess it just means somebody knows about them. And since you are reading about them here I can talk about my famous good looks.

    We drove and listened to Neil Simon's Rewrites, an autobiography read by the author. As we get further north we get thicker woods on each side of the roads. Evelyn was driving and then something happened that put a damper on things. A squirrel made a bad choice and dashed in front of our car. From the sound we can tell that he timed it wrong and probably did not survive. I think they intentionally take chances to demonstrate their prowess and this one got a little too cocky.

    I was looking for a historical site to stop at. There are historical sites that are interesting and there are ones that just are not. We have a code word for the uninteresting ones. That word is "settee." The ones that are interesting are where things like guns got fired, rockets got detonated, bombs went off, that sort of thing. That is a first class historical site. One where major documents got signed are the second class.

    Those are pretty good, but you don't want to see too many of them. The documents get confused. The third class are where somebody famous sat on a settee. Beauvoir is such a place. The first Confederate White House was another. Evelyn was thinking we should visit the Arlington House. This was where Robert E. Lee's wife lived and he eventually moved in. It has "settees" written all over it. We were trying to decide if we wanted to cap off our vacation with a class 3 site or to go straight home. We passed the sign for Manassas. People got killed there. That was a battle. Actually there were two. We might not have time to do it justice, but what the heck, we could get in free with our Golden Eagle Pass. Even if we missed stuff, we will see as much as we have time for. And there were no settees.

    Now that National Parks charge admission, some parks are better set up to charge admission. Manassas National Battlefield Park is in a really bad position to charge. It is almost entirely on the honor system. If you used the facilities of the visitor center without having paid, they might catch you and they might not.

    Anything else in the park is purely the honor system. There are signs at each of the battle sites around the park reminding the visitor to pay admission at the Visitor Center, but there is no way to enforce it.

    Manassas is of course only the Southern name for this battle. In the North it was called Bull Run. And perhaps the proper pronoun is "they" rather than "it." Of course, you get two big battles for the price of one here since there were two battles on the same battleground. Of course, First Manassas was concentrated in a smaller area of ground. You can walk the First Manassas battlefield on foot fairly easily. It is a walk of about 1.4 miles. The Second Manassas battleground is a long walk, particularly on a hot day. And all the Civil War battlefields we visited seem to commemorate battles that took place on really hot days. It was kind of nice that we at last were visiting a battlefield on a day that wasn't witheringly hot.

    As you pull up there is a Visitor Center it looks a bit like a Southern Mansion with columns out front. We saw over the hill that a ranger was giving a talk to visitors so we joined the group and hear a bit of his presentation.

    The war was still fun at the battle of the First Manassas (a.k.a. Bull Run). It was kind of the spirit of a hotly contested football game. Two days before the battle General Irvin McDowell's army, 35,000 had been dispatched from Washington and went with the intention of capturing Richmond and ending the war.

    The best first step to taking Richmond would be to get the railroad center at Manassas.

    McDowell had complained to Lincoln that his men were green and Lincoln had responded that so were the men he would be fighting. It took two days to get to Bull Run with men whose minds were not entirely on serious fighting. 22,000 Confederate troops guarded Bull Run under the man who took Sumter, General Beauregard. The Union tried an abortive attack, then withdrew and reorganized for two days.

    Beauregard knew he was outnumbered and got backup from General Joe Johnston who added 10,000 to the Confederate numbers.

    On July 21, spectators had come from Washington to watch the game, though few got an actual view of the battle. McDowell was not yet aware that Beauregard had been reinforced. McDowell tried to go around the Confederate left with speed and surprise, but his men were too green to pull it off. General Thomas Jackson's men stood against the attack, earning Jackson the nickname Stonewall. Complicating matters was the fact that troops were in a motley collection of uniforms. There were over two hundred different types of uniform on the field and nobody on the field was expert enough to know which uniforms went with which side. The confusion this caused became deadly as the Union's right flank came in contact with unrecognizably uniformed men in the woods. Ready to fire on the troops, the commander stopped them in a nick of time informing them that it was Union troops they were seeing. Shortly after that the troops in the woods answered the question of which side they were on when they opened fire and pretty much took out the Union right flank.

    Instead of the Federals surrounding the Southern troops, Johnston surrounded the Northern troops and they fled the field in panic. Soldiers on both sides were stunned by the killing. The spectators were terrified by the sight of the wounded men leaving the battle but Jefferson Davis would not authorize the Southern army to go after the retreating Northerners. The lesson that both sides learned was that war is real and war is earnest. The Civil War would not be an academic exercise and it would not be a sporting event. They had an idea that it would be a nasty thing, but they were to find out that it would be a lot worse.

    There is a museum in the visitors center and I got some of the statistics I was looking for. 622,000 Americans died in the Civil War. There were over a million casualties. For comparison's sake 116,000 died in the First World War and 400,000 in the second. The Civil war had as many American deaths as 10.7 Vietnams. There is a film telling the story of the two Manassas battles. After the museum we went out and walked the battlefield of First Manassas. It was a pleasant cool day for a change. The breeze was enjoyable as we walked the mown path and watch the locusts. You follow a large triangular path looking at the Union and Confederate lines.

    Following that we drove the route to see the battlefield of the Second Manassas.

    Okay, so what was this battle all about? Well, it was the culmination of a campaign of months from April into September, 1862. In April General McClellan moved his troops to Fort Monroe a hundred miles southeast of Richmond and started moving toward Richmond. By May he was within sight of the Confederate capitol. Lee saw the danger and took the command from Joe Johnston and gave it to Robert E. Lee. Lincoln gave command of scattered troops in the area to John Pope. The plan was that Pope would lead a second army to join McClellan. His supplies were at Manassas. Lee had Stonewall Jackson go around Pope, north and then east, and capture the supply depot a Manassas and burn it.

    Pope turned around and went back north to Manassas to try to catch Jackson. He caught Jackson at Manassas. But by then Lee and Longstreet with his army were there also. Caught between the jaws of Longstreet and Jackson, Pope fought all day August 30, but could not maintain his position and was pushed back north, further separating him from McClellan. The Confederates lost about 9200, the Union lost about 16,000.

    We finished the battlefield at about 2:40 PM. Evelyn wanted to try an Applebee's, a chain that had a ranch

    in town so that was where we went for lunch. Their lemonade they make with carbonated water. Blech! I got sirloin and riblet platter. The ribs were flattened somehow and cardboardy. The steak was pretty good, but it had been years since I had had one before this trip and I only had one twice on the trip.

    We continued with the Neil Simon tape as we returned. The trees get thicker as we go north as if the land grows fur where it needs it.

    We got home about 8:50 PM. It took us a while to unload the car, sort some things but by 9:30 PM we were watching Ken Burns documentary on the Civil War, now being able to visualize many of the battlefields, and wanting to see Burns's description.

    We put about 6900 miles on the car, more than enough to cross the country twice. The trip had been exhausting, but then a vacation should be. For the next Week or so we watch Ken Burns documentary in the evenings and his account of the Civil War helped to put the various battle sites we had seen into perspective. One of the personalities made famous by this documentary was Shelby Foote who wrote a huge three-volume history of the Civil War. His charismatic visage shows up frequently in the series. His concluding comment for that great film was that the returning Southern troops had left boys and returned men. He said, however, that they knew they had a country. Before the war it had been a sort of theoretical thing, but they had walked its hills and now had seen it and could remember it. It was considerably easier for us, traveling by car. You don't see the ground the whole way from a plane. A car is better. You see the territory. Part of what we got from this trip is that the American South is no longer a theoretical thing to us. Perhaps the stereotypes have been somewhat countered, though we can not say we have really studied the South in any depth. But we know there is a South because we have driven through it. We have seen it.