Friday, April 29, 2011

Encamped in Canton

This has been an enjoyable couple of days based in North Canton, Ohio, which has several malls and about every chain store and restaurant in America. There's one nonstop each day each way between Akron-Canton airport and National. It's a small plane and given the various weather problems this week, it was running late Wednesday night so I arrived about 1 1/2 hrs late, which was no big deal as I had no plans for that night anyway. The Budget folks had closed and left me a sign telling me to pick up the car down the hall at Avis--but everything worked, including my being a Priority Club member at Holiday Inn, which got me a free breakfast each day here, assuming that was what I needed.

Thursday turned out to be a bit cloudy and threatening in the morning as I headed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, about five minutes from where I'm staying. The Hall is pretty good--lots of memorabilia, good TV clips of famous plays and games, and good action photos and bios on the biggest stars, like the exhibit on all-time runners, which featured Jim Brown, Walter Payton, and Emmitt Smith. Records exist of all the ancient teams that were once in pro football like the Pottsville (Pa.) Maroons, who claimed they were robbed of the title in 1926.

I guess to me the only shortcomings were an overemphasis on historically-significant owners and commissioners, particularly Pete Rozelle. Just reminds you re the current labor situation that they see it more as a business and less as a game. At least they haven't removed O. J. Simpson's bust from the Hall of Fame but there's no other mention of him and rather minimal reference to one Howard Cosell, despite a large exhibit on Monday Night Football, where you have to look hard to find his picture.

Went onto Akron and visited Dr. Bob's House, where once resided the co-founder, with Bill W., of AA. It's on a red-brick street in an old middle-class residential section of an old city and actually, they're renovating the foundation of his real house, so you get to see his stuff moved into the house next door which is almost identical. I liked stuff like his old doctor's bag and Royal manual typewriter and that the woman on duty invites you into the kitchen for coffee on the house.

Decided I had the time to make it to Cleveland to take in the Rock'n'Roll Museum & Hall of Fame and the day cooperated, having become sunny and almost warm, if windy. As with everything else, it seemed, this museum was undergoing its first major renovation--lucky me. But they really do have tons of artifacts--clothing, guitars, letters, etc all associated with all sorts of performers and the interpretation given rock is a broad one. Some of the history stuff is fun--the re-creation of the Sun Records studio in Memphis (made famous in Million Dollar Quartet) and lots of stuff connected with the early rock DJ Alan Freed. Wonderful films and tapes all over the place and plenty of opportunities to stop and listen to artists of your choosing.

Best part I thought was a theater showing clips of the artists inducted each year. They put together great collages of the half dozen people elected each year to the Hall. Even exhibits devoted to Rolling Stone, all the many British groups beyond the Beatles and the Stones, Cleveland locals, Motown, Elvis, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix etc etc etc. Could have spent a lot more time--and even enjoyed the store, particularly for the fantastically eclectic collection of CDs, DVDs, etc of groups and artists. Anyone you can think of that had any connection to pop music in our time is there--I got a kick out of finding CDs by Mama Cass, Jerry Vale, Pete Seeger, Del Shannon, and Dusty Springfield. The cashier pointed to one guy and said he's the one who picks out all the recordings they feature on sale.

I opted not to stick around Cleveland for an Indians-Royals game last night at Progressive Union Park (nee Jacobs Field). The Tribe has been winning like crazy--nine straight--but the fans haven't come back yet, as several recent games had attendance under 10,000. There's an Indians store right here in North Canton and I barely resisted getting a jacket with a huge version of Chief Wahoo, America's most politically incorrect mascot/symbol, on the back. Also held off at the Pro Football Hall of Fame store, where Raiders regalia kept jumping out at me.

Today at the 50th anniversary conference of the Horatio Alger Society, my reason for the trip, there were three presentations--one on an obscure author of boy's books set in Northern Maine, a second on the big four of boy's series authors in the 19th century--Alger, Oliver Optic, Edward Ellis and Harry Castlemon, and a last one on what universities were like in Alger's college days, viz., Harvard between 1848 and 1852.

Then we had the auction and I managed to get a couple of books I wanted. Prices were down largely because a couple of regular high rollers were not on hand--some of us wished we were buying the books now we acquired over the years. Last night I went out for dinner with Carol Nackenoff from Swarthmore and her husband Jim, who actually grew up here in North Canton! They wanted to go to a highly-regarded Serbian place in Barberton (about 20 minutes from here) that specializes in Serbian fried chicken! Like most Balkans cuisine, it was fairly heavy. Tonight's dinner was at a restaurant built in what was once the headquarters (next to the airport) of the 356th Fighter Group. Echt amerikanische but pleasant enough and I liked the old pilots club decor.

And tomorrow morning early I head out--it's been good.

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