This Is Houston

In Houston, the old continually gives way to the new meaning that much of  what represents its history has been lost.  Smack dab in the middle of this city, however, is an oasis where a few old buildings telling something of a different time have been located.

This is Sam Houston Park surrounded by the tall buildings that are Houston’s skyline and busy freeways.  It is 20 acres first established as a park in 1899.

I’m thinking this sprawling oak tree may be as old as the park.

In addition to its open space where people gather for quiet moments or to play a noontime game, the park tells a story of various segments of society.

There is a modest cottage nestled there

alongside a mansion that belonged to prominent citizens, including William Marsh Rice who founded Rice University.

Another has all the conveniences that were available in 1905.

There is an church built by immigrants in 1891

and a cottage once belonging to freed slaves that dates back to 1823.

Though little is left of the original belongings, the houses contain pieces that are representative of the period in which they were built.  These have been donated or carefully curated by The Heritage Society, a nonprofit that maintains the buildings.  The park itself is a City of Houston Protected Landmark and a State of Texas Historical Site.

Former governor John B. Connally stands tall in its midst welcoming visitors like you and me to Sam Houston Park.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind 



Last Flight

Exploring the Moosehead Lake region, we spied a sign pointing down a dirt road to a B 52 Memorial. We couldn’t imagine what that would be, but there was only one way to find out and that was to take the road.
It was a bumpy, dusty ride made tolerable by magnificent fall color .
In the distance were mountains, one of which we commented resembled an elephant. We later learned that it was called Elephant Mountain and was part of what we were about to experience.

Seven miles or so down the road, we arrived at the site to be welcomed by a sign giving indication we were going to experience something we’d not expected.

Before we’d walked too far, we saw what was the first of many airplane parts.

Needless to say that was sobering.

Debris was scattered throughout a heavily wooded area which made us wonder how and when such an obviously devastating accident had occurred.

As we continued further into the area, we became more solemn as even larger remains littered the forest.

At last, we came to the place where some questions were answered. We were surprised that anyone could have survived such a tragic crash and wondered how the survivors were rescued in such an isolated area.

When we returned to the inn later in the day, the first thing we did was research the event. It occurred January 1963 on a routine exercise that you can learn more about here. What was astonishing is that the two survivors withstood -30 degree temperatures in a snowy terrain for hours before being rescued. With today’s sophisticated location equipment they would have been found much sooner.

Needless to say, we were very moved by what we saw and appreciative of the effort to honor the men whose lives were lost.

I so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Road Trip, Travel

A Quick Stop

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen my daughter moved to Franklin, Tennessee, several years ago, the hubby thought that good enough reason to drive the long road from Houston to Maine and back again.  It’s a long way for a quick twice a year stop, but I always enjoy the time we have there not only because of the visit with the daughter’s family but because Franklin is part of my earliest memories.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWould you believe I was born there right in this building that at one time was a hospital? My first view of this unimposing structure stopped me in my tracks as it triggered a distant memory of a photograph of my mother standing on those steps holding an infant that was me, otherwise I would have walked by it with no thought.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow the spot is identified with a historical marker that names Dr. Tandy Rice as one of the hospital’s founders.  It was he who brought me into this world and got me started on life’s journey.

Most of my Franklin memories revolve around my great grandmother’s house.  What a wonderful place it was to play hide and seek, and she had an old out of tune pump organ that kept me entertained for hours.  The house is still there, and not too long ago I knocked on the door, explained to the current owners my history there and they were kind enough to let me in.  The old place has been updated, but the wonderful crown molding and stair railings are still there.

My memories are of a very sleepy small town, but that is not the case today.  Franklin is a very hip place with trendy shops and eateries.

One that many of you may know is the City Farmhouse that in addition to the shop hosts popup shows that draw visitors from all over the southeast.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADowntown doesn’t claim all the changes. The area around Franklin, including some of my family’s former property,  has become home to large estates and horse farms.  Many belong to country music stars and a few Hollywood types.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne thing that hasn’t changed in Franklin is its southern pride.  Right in the middle of town is this towering sculpture honoring the fighting men of the Confederacy. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALook real close and you’ll notice part of the soldier’s hat brim is missing.  It is said to have broken during the shipping/installation process, and it was deemed appropriate to leave it.

FranklinIf memory serves me, Franklin was the unintended site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. That battle transformed Carnton Plantation into a hospital and a burial ground for the men who died there.

Yes, Franklin causes me to wax nostalgic, and I am glad that it is part of my history.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Maine, Random

Destination: Castine

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of our favorite boat outings is to Castine, Maine, one of the oldest communities in North America.  Since the 1600’s it has been continuously occupied by settlers from France, Holland, England and  colonial America.  It has also been home to several Native American nations, so as you might guess, Castine has a rich and colorful history.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACastine is not a big town.  Most of the shops and eateries are right in the center.

Were it not for the Maine Maritime Academy where young men and women are trained for a life involving the sea, there would be few full time residents.


In the 1630’s, the French built Fort Pentagoet, which was later destroyed by the Dutch.

IMG_4889Today, an historic inn is all that bears the name.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALocated up the road from the original fort, the inn is on the site of a hall occupied by English troops in the 1800’s.  Are you beginning to get a feel for Castine’s varied history?

Back to the inn, it is a trip back in time which makes it desirable for visitors.

For us, it is an annual destination where we meet boater friends for cocktails on the porch and a delightful dinner.

It is always fun to stroll around Castine to see stunning examples of Federal and Greek-Revival style homes that were built by wealthy pre-Civil War merchant families. For a peek inside one of these beautifully restored old homes, it’s worth taking a look here.   Many of you will recognize the work of one of your favorite fellow bloggers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn any given day, Castine is a wonderful lunch destination, and for us, it takes less time to get there by water than by car. It is a treat to tie up at the public dock and walk a few steps to Dennett’s Wharf for a tasty bite.

While there, you never know what you are going to see happening in or on the water.  Yep, Maine is the way life should be!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind


Hauntingly Realistic

There is much that is familiar in Washington, DC.

Washington DCThere’s the capitol building with its impressive dome

Washington DCand the Washington Monument standing tall against an evening sky.

Jefferson Memorial
Jefferson Memorial
Washington DC
Lincoln Memorial
Washington DC
MLK Memorial

There are memorials to Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King as well as reminders of World Wars I and II and the Vietnam War.

Washington DCAll are inspiring, but for me nothing stands out like the Korean War Memorial with its bigger than life figures that are hauntingly realistic.  Garbed in battle attire covered by ponchos to protect from monsoon rains, the ghostly figures represent  a nighttime patrol seemingly ready for combat.

Washington DCEach face is unique.  

Washington DCWary.  Tense.

Washington DCSoldiers quietly communicate, caution one another.

Washington DCThe Korean War may not be one that we know the most about, but this dramatic memorial honors the men and women who defended a country they never knew and a people they never met.

Next time you are in Washington, DC, don’t miss going to this stunning installation.  I can’t imagine your not being moved.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Random, Travel

History Comes Alive

9780446558884_p0_v1_s260x420I recently read Widow of the South by Robert Hicks.  It is historical fiction set during the Civil War and revolves around the Battle of Franklin and the makeshift hospital for Confederate soldiers at Carnton Plantation.

FranklinSince part of my family now lives in Franklin, Tennessee, on a recent visit I was particularly interested in exploring the plantation and learning more about what actually happened there.

Carnton Plantation back view
Carnton Plantation back view

While the house is original, the guide was quick to point out that whatever interior description was presented in the book was fabricated because no information on that subject exists.

FranklinThe interior has been restored to represent the style of the period,Franklin

but it does not likely reflect the original decor.

Franklin  In any case, the rooms that are open are quite charming.  Keep in mind the plantation was used as a hospital, so whatever stains were on the floor were identified as blood stains which added to the drama of the visit.

Carnton garden
Carnton garden

In addition to the main building is a lovely garden and a few still standing outbuildings.

FranklinThese include a smokehouse and one of the quarters that was used to house slaves.


I was not surprised to see a loom there as most of the household linens of the time were  woven by slaves.  I have such appreciation for the skill it took to create on such primitive equipment.  My loom is light years removed from this.

FranklinAs a hospital, Carnton was used to treat thousands of Confederate soldiers who were wounded in the carnage that was the Battle of Franklin where nearly 11,000 men from both sides were killed.  Some 1400 of the soldiers treated at Carnton died there and were buried in trenches close to the house.    About a year and a half after the battle, Carrie and John McGavock had the bodies exhumed, placed in individual pine boxes and interred on a site close to the McGavock family cemetery.

FranklinToday it is preserved as the McGavock Confederate Cemetery and is a grim reminder of lives so needlessly lost.

FranklinThe cemetery is arranged by state and each area bears a marker with the name of the state and the number of men from there who were killed.

Carnton Plantation is just part of the surprising amount of history in and around Franklin, and it is beautifully chronicled with historical markers at every turn.  This makes the area a very interesting one to visit, and I can’t wait to go back.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind


Thursday Favorite Things

Show and Tell Friday

Places I’ve Been

Anything Blue Friday

Flashback Friday