Over at Ancestors in Aprons, I’m trying to track down houses in New York where my Great Uncle lived during the Gilded Age. That got me thinking about my own trips to NYC, and I thought I’d devote Travel Photo Thursday to a few shots of New York. Some of these are repeats that I have used in other articles, but I can’t help it. I like them. So there.
I have had a long love affair with NYC, and as I write about my ancestors over at Ancestors in Aprons, I wonder if I didn’t grow up idealizing their life in New York and yearning to recreate it.
This has been my contribution to Travel Photo Thursday. For more travel photos, go to Budget Traveler’s Sandbox, where it all started (TPT, that is.)
All of these photos are my property, whether they are watermarked or not. If you want to reuse them, be aware that they belong to me, but if you make a request, we can usually work something out.
Cultural Travel: Memorial Day
By Jessie Voigts
Memorial Day is an important holiday in the United States – but do you know its true meaning? It is not only the kickoff to summer, and the first swim, BBQ party, and family gathering. It was created in 1868 to honor our fallen veterans:
“…gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime….let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation’s gratitude,–the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.”
As a memorandum from President Bill Clinton noted:
“Memorial Day represents one day of national awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died while defending our Nation and its values. While we should honor these heroes every day for the profound contribution they have made to securing our Nation’s freedom, we should honor them especially on Memorial Day.”
Some families visit cemeteries to honor those who have died in the military. You can usually tell military graves by the American flags waving at each one. Spend a moment to reflect and honor them. Most towns have a Memorial Day Parade – be sure to get out and support it! Our daughter loves the music, the marching, and of course, the candy. If, in your travels and celebrations this Memorial Day, you’d like to remember the men and women who have died while serving in the US Armed Forces, here are a few ideas for booking travel for Memorial Day: Washington, DC Get a prime spot for the National Memorial Day Parade honoring veterans. Also visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and take in the National Memorial Day Concert on the West Lawn of the US Capitol. There are plenty of memorials to visit, including
- the Air Force Memorial
- Korean War Veterans Memorial
- Marine Corps Memorial and Iwo Jima Memorial
- US Navy Memorial
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- The WWII Memorial
New York City
there will be several Memorial Day Parades throughout the city, which coincides with Fleet Week (although canceled in 2013 due to budget cuts – check back for future Fleet Week events.
President Obama will place a wreath at the Chicago Memorial Day Wreath Laying Ceremony and Parade. This parade is one of the largest in the nation. It will start at Daly Plaza and then proceed south on State Street. At the National Veterans Art Museum, you can see art inspired by combat and created by veterans . Of special interest is a new exhibit, entitled Tenacity and Truth: People, Places, and Memorials.
Another large Memorial Day Parade (at the Presidio), with a formal ceremony at the USS Pampanito at Fisherman’s Wharf. There will also be a memorial ceremony at the USS Hornet, and other local events.
At the National Museum of the Pacific War, there will be a Pacific Combat Living History Re-enactment, as well as a Memorial Day Observance.
In Oahu, join with thousands of people with the Lantern Floating ceremony. Donate a lei – over 50,000 fresh flower leis are placed on graves of those who died in our military; held at the National Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu. Visit the National Park at the USS Arizona at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center , or the Punchbowl National Cemetery near Waikiki Beach.
In Williamsburg, discover early American history with a special Memorial Day Commemorative Program here will include a modern service, a procession with Fife and Drum, and a ceremony honoring soldiers of the American Revolution and Civil War.
At the USS Midway, Legacy Week celebrations include a veteran’s wreath ceremony, the US Navy Band, and a Meet the Aviators event.
Not traveling? Memorial Day traditions you can do at home:
- Fly the US Flag at half staff until noon
- Fly the POW/MIA flag
- Participate in the national moment of remembrance at 3 p.m. (pause to reflect on the meaning of the day)
- Listen to the song Taps
Its that time again–Movie Time. And what an exciting time I had doing my column about a child star for Reel Life With Jane this month! Take a break from reading books and travel with me to Hollywood today.
Who discovered Rita Hayworth? The subject of my interview did– when she was a nine-year-old child star.
I hope you’ll hop over to my Classics Connoisseur column to see my exclusive interview with Jane Withers and read all about her discovery of Rita, her ultimate stage mother, and her personality.
Don’t remember Jane? Most folks today remember her as Josephine the Plumber, who advertised Comet cleanser for more than a dozen years, but you may also have caught her in character roles on TV and movies like Giant. But I’m talking to her about her acting career as a child, which started when she was a precocious six year old. Trust me, she’ll cheer you up!
The interview is in honor of the release by Twentieth Century Fox of 7 of Jane Wither’s child star movies. They have not been available until now, and they are a hoot! The Farmer’s Wife featured Henry Fonda in his first movie role.
Paddy O’Day features the gorgeous Rita in her first substantial acting role in Hollywood as she expanded from being only a dancer. And all the newly released old movies star the ornery, optimistic, Jane Withers.
Note: Click on the film DVD covers and they will take you to Amazon.com. Anything you buy while you are there will help support A Traveler’s Library. The picture of the neon star at the top of the page is used with permission through Creative Commons from the photographer. You can learn more by clicking on the photo.
Book: Vacationland (March, 2013) by Sarah Stonich
Many families look forward to each summer’s lake vacation. That is particularly true in Minnesota, “The Land of 10,000 Lakes” and the setting for Vacationland.
Don’t go looking for the idyllic summer retreat at Naledi Lodge near the tiny community of Hatchet Inlet in far northern Minnesota. Sarah Stonich gives us some flashbacks to the days when the lodge, always spotless if a bit run down, entertained dozens of people on lake vacations every summer. However, in the present, not much is left except the lake and the fishing and the memories. While that could make for a depressing setting, instead, the humanity of the characters ends up encouraging and refreshing the reader. (Please note that I am trying to avoid the obvious “life-affirming”.)
Also, don’t go looking for a linear story following the life of Meg, who grew up at the resort and moved away to hone her talents as an artist. Although we do see her life from girlhood to her adult return to Naledi, the novel’s structure is as patchy as the splotches of sunlight through the leaves of trees at the resort. Sarah Stonich has written a series of short stories, stitched together by their relationship to the lake and the summer lodge. Characters appear, disappear and reappear from one story to the next.
Most of us only experience such summer retreats as a place where we go away to experience something different in our lives for a week or two. But reading Vacationland is like getting a backstage view of the life of a summer place and the year-round life of its permanent community. After I wrote that previous paragraph, I discovered that the author agreed.
In an interview quoted on her website, Sarah Stonich says:
The idea of a resort from varying perspectives of visitors, proprietors and locals seemed like a concept I felt worth weaving characters around. In Minnesota, a lot gets written about the wilderness experience, but less about resort life, and very little about the people and the communities that line the roads leading to such places – like the beer truck drivers and bait shop owners. I wanted to tell their stories. But I was also moved to challenge the tired Minnesota stereotype – not all the men in Vacationland are good looking and not all the children are above average – or white for that matter.
If you prefer a straight line from conflict to resolution, with clear good guys and bad guys, this is not your book. I can understand that its meandering ways would drive some people crazy. However, just as we call it a lake “vacation” when we spend time in a place different from our everyday life, your reading life will be shaken up a bit, and perhaps refreshed, by reading this different arrangement of story. And the characters are fascinating. They include the grouchy Czech, Vac Machutova, Meg’s grandfather who owned Naledi when she is a girl; the Objibwe builder; the gang of men who gather at Pavola’s, the town restaurant; the lesbian who returns every summer even after her lover departs for South America…and we learn their stories and many more.
Although I’m definitely not in the “every year at the lake” category of vacationer, and even though I really don’t care all that much for small towns, I did find this book left me with a hopeful feeling. It definitely belongs on the shelves of a traveler’s library, if only because it pictures a small corner of the United States in vivid detail. But also, of course, because it focuses on a lake vacation.
When asked in that same interview quoted above what the books appeal is, Stonich said:
The themes of vacations – seems everyone has a memory, of a resort; an old cabin; scout camp, or maybe had some fishing or canoe trip go either very right or very wrong. Vacations can be awful or wonderful, even life-changing. For some, maybe those two weeks in July are just a yawn in time, a pause in life with enough leisure to take a real look around or even inward.
Join the conversation. As you plan your summer travel, is a lake resort on the agenda? Are you a lake vacation kind of person? Why? Do you know northern Minnesota? Tell us about it.
Note: The publisher provided an electronic copy of the book for review, but that does not influence my opinion. The links here to Amazon make your shopping easier, but they also benefit A Traveler’s Library, since I am an Amazon affiliate. Thanks! Photos used here are from Flickr and used with a Creative Commons license. Please click on each photo to learn more about the photographer.
Okay, so I’m cheating a bit here, but I’ve been extremely involved with starting a new website, Ancestors In Aprons, so this is a bit of time travel for Travel Photo Thursday with vintage photos.
Ancestors in Aprons is about tracking ancestors, memories triggered by food, and family, and a big part of it is vintage photos. I’m fortunate to have a wide range of pictures of my family members from tintypes to Kodak Brownie snapshots to digitals. I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the challenges there are in bringing those vintage photos to the web page. I have no fancy photo editing equipment, using Picasa to do whatever needs to be done.
This first picture is the poorest quality, mostly because I cropped it from a scanned copy of a very old photograph (probably 1920s) of Great Grandfather and his wife, and then enlarged it to get just his head, because the two of them were standing too far apart. Therefore I lost any resolution that was there to start out with. But I had a reason for using it this way, and eventually I will be publishing the picture of the two of them. You can learn a little more about Great Grandfather Henry Butts in a Veteran’s Day article at A Traveler’s Library.
The only trick on the next picture was deciding which of two to use. One of my uncles took this picture and my mother took this one. They are missing from each other’s pictures. That’s my mother in the middle in the front, with both hands in her lap. Improving the contrast was difficult on this one, and the whites of the dresses started dominating everything.
This picture didn’t do too badly, given that it is cropped from the long picture I use as the header for Ancestors in Aprons. I cropped out some of the details, like focusing on my Grandparents and this cigarette ad on their counter. But the picture was a black and white, professionally shot 8 x 10 picture from 1940, so it was not too bad a quality.
And here’s what I did (with some help from Melanie McMinn) to the original to make it into a header for Ancestors in Aprons. Added a sepia tone and the lettering, plus cropped out some of the bottom and top to fit the wide short space.
When I see how much better black and white photos hold up than color, I’m tempted to take all b & w in the future. I know I won’t do it, but at least pictures of family members should be preserved in both for posterity. More recent color pictures are problematic. Interestingly, some of the 1950′s vintage photos are better than 60s and 70s that are losing all their color by now. Here’s a 1950 era photo of my family’s garden, unretouched.
What a difference there is in the color quality of this picture from the late 1960′s. Granted it is Arizona and there is not so much vivid green to start out with, but the sky is definitely not that washed out blue. And the kids faces are fading away.
One final challenge is not with quality but with how to copy. I do not have a flat bed scanner (well I do, but it isn’t working), and many of the turn of the 18th/19th century pictures I have are tintypes or printed on heavy cardstock. They routinely printed their vintage photos on postcards, for instance. Here is one from 1881 that I had to resort to photographing with my digital camera and then cropping in Picasa. I DID NOT draw the circle on the picture. Not guilty. That’s my Great Uncle that is circled. Other than the fact that I could not make it perfectly fit within a modern proportion and you can see some white around the edges, this is a very true photo.
And if you want to see some Travel Photo Thursday photos that are really about travel, to to Budget Traveler’s Sandbox. There’s a BUNCH, including host Nancy McKinnon’s photo esssay on sparkling, spectacular Hong Kong.
By Jane Boursaw
Movie: The Great Gatsby
Reel Rating: 4 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief language.
Released in Theaters: May 10, 2013 (2D, 3D)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Based on a Book
Runtime: 142 minutes
Directed by: Baz Luhrmann
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Amitabh Bachchan, Callan McAuliffe
Official Site: The Great Gatsby
I was a little worried about “The Great Gatsby.” The trailers featured modern music by Kanye West and a glossy production right out of the pages of Vanity Fair. But the movie doesn’t disappoint, and the $51.1 million box office draw on opening weekend is evidence of that. And travelers looking for clues about the original Great Gatsby location in Long Island are going to find Australia instead.
Director Baz Luhrmann brings his lush cinematic vision to the big screen, and all you have to do is settle back and take it all in. I even saw it in 3D (which I generally don’t do if given the choice), and would say it’s best seen this way. The 3D version really makes the decadent settings, posh decor, and out-of-control roadsters jump off the screen — in a good way.
If you’ve read the classic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, you know the story. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jay Gatsby, the wealthy, mysterious and emotionally damaged man who moves into a Long Island mansion — make that palace — during the 1920s. Gatsby makes a name for himself by throwing lavish parties with crowds of people, fireworks and confetti, scantily-clad dancers and all the food and drink a reveler could want.
But we know his ultimate goal here. It’s all for the singular purpose of winning back his one true love, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan, who suits the Jazz age well). Daisy’s husband, Tom (Joel Edgerton), is way too preoccupied with his own indiscretions with his mechanic’s wife, Myrtle Wilson (Isla Fisher) to pay much attention to his young wife’s goings-on. But every night, Gatsby takes to his dock to gaze upon that green light on the dock across the bay. Daisy’s dock.
The story is told through Gatsby’s neighbor, Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), who also happens to be Daisy’s cousin. Gatsby calls upon Nick to engineer a meeting between he and Daisy, and in the process, Nick witnesses a series of events that ultimately reveal Gatsby’s tragic flaws.
I wondered how the movie would tie into the book, and whether it would be too far removed from the pages to even resemble the Fitzgerald tale. But I needn’t have worried. Maguire’s introspective narration is the perfect way to meld the book and screen together, and Luhrmann slyly blends the actual words into the movie — the letters fading in and out as the story is told.
I love the visual feast offered up by Luhrmann’s movies, and “Gatsby” is a massive buffet of color, style and sound, although oddly, the trailers actually offer more in the way of music than the film itself. We hear bits and pieces of music in the film — modern pop stars like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Fergie, Beyonce, and Florence and the Machine, mixed in with era-specific music by Cole Porter, Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton and others.
Perhaps my favorite scene involves a wild ride in Gatsby’s yellow roadster, the car veering and catapulting down the highway with glee. This scene, in particular, is what 3D movies are all about. Another scene involves the wind blowing through a sitting room, with the opaque curtains whipping magnificently around the room and people in the room. Magnificent.
Maguire and Mulligan infuse their characters with everything Fitzgerald ever could have wanted, and Bollywood actor (though he hates that term) Amitabh Bachchan plays Meyer Wolfsheim, with cutie-patootie Callan McAuliffe playing a teenage Gatsby in flashbacks.
Maybe “Gatsby” will finally earn DiCaprio that elusive Oscar. He’s clearly one of the best actors of his generation (and oh, that smile, those eyes), and he somehow manages to throw everything into the title character: hope, heartbreak, longing, love and tragedy.
DiCaprio said he wanted to play Gatsby because he was drawn to “the idea of a man who came from absolutely nothing, who created himself solely from his own imagination. Gatsby’s one of those iconic characters because he can be interpreted in so many ways: a hopeless romantic, a completely obsessed wacko or a dangerous gangster, clinging to wealth.”
While “The Great Gatsby” is an American story that takes place on Long Island, the movie was actually filmed on Luhrmann’s own turf, Australia. He initially decided to film the movie in New York City, but moved the production to Australia, in part, I’m sure, because the $126 million film reportedly qualified for financial incentives from the Australian government. With a high-budget film like “Gatsby,” I suppose any financial help is most welcome.
If I have one complaint with the movie, it’s that at 142 minutes, it runs a bit long. After letting Gatsby’s life and times wash over you for two and a half hours, you almost feel like you’ve been to one of his parties or perhaps taken a ride in that yellow roadster.
While audiences will see some of the Australian landscape substituted for 1920s New York and Long Island, soundstages and computer animation ultimately helped create a setting accurate for the period.
If you want to book travel to the Australia Great Gatsby locations, here’s where to go:
- Balmain, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (Valley of the Ashes)
- Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia
- Centennial Park, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (Gatsby’s Estate)
- Cook Road, Centennial Park, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (Entrance to Gatsby’s Mansion)
- Glebe Island, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
- St. Patrick’s Seminary, Manly, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (Gatsby’s Mansion)
- Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
- Waverley Cemetery, Bronte, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (Gatsby’s Funeral Scenes)
- White Bay Power Station, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (Valley of the Ashes)
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.
Pet Travel Tuesday
Destination: Cook Islands
Book: An Island to Oneself (1966) by Tom Neale.
By Pamela Douglas Webster
(NOTE: See more thoughts about fantasy and desert islands at Pamela’s site, Something Wagging This Way Comes.)
New Zealander Tom Neale wanted to test his ability to live alone on an island. In his mid-50s, he was finally ready.
Surprisingly his greatest trials came not from the elements or from surviving with only what he brought to the island, salvaged, or built himself.
Instead, Neale was tested by the animals with whom he shared the island–the feline companions he brought with him, the feral pigs who threatened his garden, the chickens he redomesticated, and the duck he befriended despite himself.
Most of Neale’s jobs on the island related to feeding himself and his two cats.
The island did not have enough food to sustain the cats through their own hunting so Neale “caught fish for the damn cats” each night. But, as he wrote in his journal, he “would not have been without them for the world.”
The island’s existing animals presented other challenges.
Pigs that had been brought to the island by the watchers had thrived without predators. They chewed the roots of the young coconuts Neale relied on. And they continually rooted through the garden of fresh vegetables Neale cultivated.
Neale decided to hunt the pigs and graphically described the horror of something he didn’t want to do but felt forced into for his survival. The experience of spear hunting the pigs was so distasteful he was unable to butcher the pigs and instead buried them.
The feral chickens were stubbornly independent but much less dangerous.
The thought of fresh eggs appealed to Neale, but the chickens hid their clutches of eggs in nests impossible to find. So he decided to teach them that he could be their source of food.
He built a chicken pen for them but the chickens resisted moving in until Neale discovered an old transmission. It made a perfect dinner bell. The reinforcement of the bell was the final step in training the chickens to make their homes in the new pen where Neale could simply collect their eggs each day.
The chicken’s eggs helped Neale eat the varied diet he craved, but it wasn’t enough. He rapidly went through the foodstuffs he brought to the island.
And his boredom with the island’s offerings and his increasing craving for animal flesh challenged his will power and made him directly confront the question, pet or meat?
One day Neale found an exhausted duck on the beach. She must have flown many miles to arrive at the remote island. With little thought he started to feed her. Soon she was taking food directly from his hand.
Neale was not sentimental about animals. But his increasing affection for the duck surprised him.
“I didn’t then–I never will–credit birds and animals with human feelings, but somehow that duck seemed to have crept into a rather different category. It was the only living thing which had come to the island and had become a friend during the stay.”
But his desire for friendship with a new creature was threatened by his baser instincts. As Neale ran out of protein, he found himself depressed and desperate.
Feeling the conflict, Neale stopped hand feeding the duck. He doubted he could resist his increasing impulse to grab her by the neck. Eventually she flew off never to return.
Is here anyone who has never fantasized about lying on a tropical beach with their dog or cat by their side? Drinking coconut water? Gathering sea urchins for dinner?
An Island to Oneself gives plenty of material for fantasy. But it also describes a back-breaking life full of loneliness and self-doubt.
There’s no such thing as a life alone because humans must form relationships. And in Tom Neale’s case, those relationships were with the only animals in his life.
Affiliate Links: The link to the book connects you to Amazon affiliates. If you buy a book through this link, I will earn a few cents. Thanks for your support.
Photo credits: Raratonga streetscape is by David Holt and the Cook Island Lagoon is by Hector Garcia. Both are used under a Creative Commons license. Click the image to learn more about the photographers. To see photos of Suwarrow and Tom Neale, visit the tribute site at private islands online.
While at the Tucson Festival of Books, I met a quartet of mystery writers, and am happy to share with you the second of those. Jenn McKinlay.
Last week I shared a mystery novel by Becky Masterman. Her novel, Rage Against the Dying, which is set in Tucson, Arizona, has been getting raves from many quarters, including New York Times. I became aware of Becky’s wonderful new book when I visited the Tucson Festival of Books. And by the way, this is your last day to try to win a copy of Becky’s book, by commenting here.
McKinlay writes a series of best selling ”cozy mysteries” known as the Cupcake Mysteries set in Scottsdale, Arizona. I’m currently reading Going, Going, Ganach. But just as you can’t eat just one, McKinlay can’t write just one. She also has a series of cozy mysteries set in a New England library (the latest–Book, Line and Sinker) and I’m looking forward to the launch of her latest series with, Cloche and Dagger, set in a London hat shop. She has two other series, but I’ll let you explore Jenn McKinlay’s website and learn about them on your own.
While I’m waiting for her latest punny title to arrive, I asked Jenn a few questions by e-mail.
A Traveler’s Library: You write several cozy mysteries. Can you tell us why you choose this type of mystery– rather than police procedural, thriller, etc.? You mentioned at the Book Festival that cozies have less violence, and a more intellectual approach to solving crime.
Jenn McKinlay: I didn’t really know what cozies were until I started writing and submitting and editors told me that my voice was “cozy” or “traditional”. My amateur sleuths are thinkers and cozies are generally puzzlers, so it was a natural fit.
ATL: How important is locale to each of your cozy mysteries?
JM: My settings definitely define my characters and their actions. The urban southwest is cupcake crazy, so it matches up with my bakery quite well. My New England setting for the library series brings all of the unique stoicism of that area into the books. And, of course, the hat shop series is set in London because that suits the hat shop so perfectly.
ATL: While you are slaving away turning in four books to your publisher in a year, are you ever tugged in a totally different direction? Is there something you’d love to try, if only your fans would give you a vacation from the series?
JM: Yes! I reward myself at the end of a writing day (usually about 10 pages) with writing something new and different just for the fun of it. Currently, I’m writing a YA novel, but it could be anything. Mental, I know!
ATL: Your new series is set in London. Is that just a ploy to be able to spend time doing research in England?
JM: You caught me. I needed a vacation so I decided I wanted to go to London and figured setting a book there would be the perfect excuse. I’m really looking forward to my “research” trip in June!
ATL: Are there any books you have read that made you yearn to go to a particular place?
JM: Deborah Crombie‘s James-Kincaid series certainly called to me to visit London. Also, Sheila Connolly‘s new Irish series is luring me to Ireland. Love foreign settings! [Note: Connolly's newest is Buried in a Bog, for your Ireland fans.]
ATL: You mentioned at the Book Festival that you have two boys. How old are they? I marvel at women who can keep a creative career going with kids underfoot!
JM: My two are 10 and 12. I write when they’re in school and late at night when the house is finally quiet!
If you can’t wait for the new London book to arrive, please do check out Jenn McKinlay’s other popular series and let her take you to Scottsdale or New England. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Going, Going, Ganache very soon. My thanks to Jenn for taking time to respond to my questions. Note: The photos here belong to me, and I appreciate your observation of my copyright.
So, are you a Cozy mysteries fan? Who’s your favorite author of the genre?