Sleepy Hollow: To be, or not to be

Regular readers of my posts quite likely already have noticed that these writings are about the histories of people, places, and things that I have recalled, researched, or fact-checked to the best of my ability and chronicled here because I hold something about their existence near and dear to my heart.  Infrequently though, I add humor and on rare occasions I hint at what could be or might have been, if only . . .  In today’s post, I add to this list another of my interests:  partially fiction and partially factual stories (my timing is rather apropos, don’t you think?) that I value because they spark my imagination or provoke treasured thoughts and emotions within me–regardless of their venue, they resonate within my lover of history, adventure, and nostalgic longings.  For these reasons, I write today about:

Sleepy Hollow – The TV Series (2013-)

Charismatic and well-polished English actor, Tom Mison, breathes eloquent depth and fullness of character as he portrays fictional Ichabod Crane.  In 1781, while a George Washington protagonist and working as a double agent for him during the American Revolutionary War, Crane beheads “The Headless Horseman” (the character from the fictional short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by American author Washington Irving).  In 2013, after having been frozen in time for 250 years, Ichabod Crane awakens in present day Sleepy Hollow, New York. This is where producers’ Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci’s story line about the seven years of tribulation and the meeting of the two chosen witnesses from the Bible’s Book of Revelations (Ichabod one of them) begins. The main storyline centers on the personification of the two biblical witnesses (prophets) who are tasked to thwart off the apocalypse. Thus, Crane finds himself in the foreboding situation of having to find and kill the fiendish Headless Horseman once again.  To help him through these challenging times, he draws upon his personal knowledge of and relationship with George Washington, George Washington’s letters and bible and his new associate, Deputy Sheriff Abbie Mills who has just learned that she is witness number two because of her sightings of phenomena in her childhood.  Most of Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills research and planning for their daunting task takes place in  “The Archives,” a property of the Sleepy Hollow Sheriff’s Department, where deceased Sheriff Corbin kept all notes about Abbie and her sister’s sightings and other supernatural findings that he assembled throughout his years in the department.

With each new episode and every new season, the stories and characters arise to every occasion to always cleverly save humanity and the world.  2016’s Season 3 finale left me literally weeping. Then with changes to the setting and some of the cast in 2017, I found myself somewhat disenchanted with the Season 4.  But, I remain a staunch fan of the storyline and Tom Mison.  Producers have not yet made a decision about creating a Season 5.  And, as I watched the season four finale this week, I sense it is very likely that I watched the finale of the series.  I feel a sense of loss that leaves a new emptiness inside me. I know nothing can last forever and that’s it’s only a TV show; but, if there is another chance for renewal, I hope the producers return to the successes that we loved in seasons one through three.  As we have seen repeatedly during the past four seasons and 52 episodes of Sleepy Hollow (and other popular fictional series), those who we thought were killed or died, have surprisingly and cleverly rejoined the living.  Just say’n, here, folks.

And finally, thanks to all those great adventures and pauses from reality that I so enjoyed in Sleepy Hollow.  And to my readers, thanks for joining me during my pause from “just the facts.”  Hats off, too, to Kurtzman and Orci for all of their top notch movie and tv productions, and a special thanks to Tom Mison, for all his dedicated and intricate acting talents and skills in bringing to life, Ichabod Crane.

Memories are Stitched with Love

A Different Look At Our Everyday Lives

Over the past five years and about 300 posts, Our Unbounded Heritage blog has focused on families and their histories–the people, places; the notables, historic events, and everyday moments that somehow changed our lives–and these moments in time can be said to be our memories stitched together–most often through love for one another, kinship, and other’s kindred spirits to help preserve our history.

Yet, seldom have my posts prodded and explored beneath the surfaces of our everyday lives and inventions to look back at some everyday tools and accessories that revolutionized the ways in which we are able to live our lives today.

For example, let’s just look at the clothing we wear today.  Easy as 1, 2, 3, we order online or visit a local store and choose from huge collections of items within a matter of minutes and come away with just the right outfit for just the right occasion.  Yet, scientists tell us that for thousands of years, such as, women sewed only by hand.  We don’t need to go back too many generations in our own families, to know this to be true.  In fact, scientists date the start of sewing back about 4,000 years to the beginning of the Iron Age (1200-1000BC). They also have dated needles made from animal bones back about 2,000 years.  And, it was these needles that helped early humans stitch together animal skins to protect them from the cold during the Ice Age. Again, these same scientists told us that the Ice Ages began 2.4 million years ago and lasted until 11,500 years ago.  In fact, they also dated the first thimbles back to China and the Han dynasty (206BC – 220AD). Let me just say that not being a science buff, myself, I had to take time to look up these ancient periods in history. And, as a creationist, I struggle with all the concepts within evolutionist theories.  However, that’s a post for another time–or maybe never.

The Invention of the Sewing Machine

eliashoweandhismachineBut, let’s just take the invention of the sewing machine to continue with our example of simple innovations which greatly changed the quality, quantity, and availability of our everyday clothing.  FACT:  The sewing machine is less than 200 years old!  It was Connecticut native Elias Howe who is credited with inventing the first sewing machine in 1846, followed shortly afterwards by Isaac Singer (as in the ever-famous Singer Sewing Machines).  This was only two years after Samuel Morse sent the first telegraph from Washington, DC to Baltimore, MD. And, the first sewing machine came out the same year as the Mexican-American War. Imagine–the elaborate clothing that spanned history’s periods and lifestyles and the amount of time and effort it must have taken to make fabric, thread, and patterns, and then add the time to sew such garments.

Interestingly enough, Elias Howe, also received a patent in 1851 for an ‘Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure,’–this would be today’s “zipper.” But, it was 1895 when Whitcomb Judson marketed a “clasp locker” and became known as the ‘Father of the Zip.’

100 Years of Fashion

I remain absolutely intrigued by the volumes and kinds of textiles used in women’s clothing and have never more appreciated the intricacies of the details and stitching that must have gone into making just a single outfit.  The following video looks at the various fashions (Gals vs. Guys) over the past hundred years.  It was produced by on December 29, 2015.  The guy is a hunk, but that mustard-colored outfit has to go!

It was Wunnerful, Wunnerful While it Lasted

IGrandma 3-27-1965t’s been over a month since any inspiration has come to me to write a post on my family history and genealogy page.  And then, this morning, I watched a video that took me back to my early teens.  My maternal grandmother, Alice Lauretta (Loretta) Lathrop Ford, had suffered several heart attacks and now lived with my parents, my 11-years younger brother, and me.

“And-a one and-a two”…

On Saturday nights, my parents would go out for the evening with friends–often dancing–which before her heart attacks was one of my grandmother’s favorite things to do, too.  It became my inherited job to care for my grandmother and my baby brother when my parents were out.  And, like every other Saturday night since 1955, I had to sit with grandma, watch the Lawrence Welk [1903-1992] Show (1955-1982) with his “champagne music,” and pretend to enjoy it as much as she did.  She especially liked the tenors, Myron Floren, the accordionist and polka king,Myron Floren accordionist




and… the young dancers–Bobby Burgess and Cissy King.

and…Lawrence grabbing a female from the audience to dance with him.  Here’s a short, but hair-larious Welk clip from November 25, 1967…just 85 days before Grandma passed away (02-18-1968–11 days shy of her 73rd birthday) due to the flu during the 1968 flu pandemic (caused by an H3N2 strain of the influenza A virus, descended from H2N2 ) and the added stress on her body’s organs and especially heart. [This flu virus reached Japan, Africa and South America by 1969.]

Little did I realize at the time that Grandma and I would create so many good memories watching this show. And, 48 years later I still miss my times with her and the Lawrence Welk Show–Although, yet today, one can catch some local stations on some Sunday afternoons airing reruns of the old, if but corny, episodes–as today’s generations might label them.



50 Years Ago, Thanksgiving 1965 with Arlo Guthrie

Alice’s Restaurant

It wArloGuthrie2007as 50 years ago, Thanksgiving in 1965, when an 18-year-old rising folk singer named Arlo Davy Guthrie drove up from Queens, N.Y., to Great Barrington to visit a friend named Alice Brock. While he was there, he did Alice and her husband, Ray, a favor. He took out their garbage. It would change his life. Guthrie and his buddy threw the garbage down a ditch where others often did the same thing. But the next day, Guthrie was arrested for littering, and that blip is what kept him from being drafted into the Vietnam War because he had an arrest record. It also became the narrative for a little ditty he wrote two years later that he called “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.” Part song, part storytelling, it became Guthrie’s signature and this fall he’s taking off on a national tour to celebrate the 50 years since the event.

50 Things About Arlo Guthrie on the 50th Anniversary of Alice’s Restaurant

You’ve heard the song, no doubt. So here are some fun facts, collected from interviews Guthrie has given and stories about the song over the years.

  1. The song is 18 minutes 34 seconds long, give or take a minute depending on his pace.
  2. The length of the song is the exact same length as the gap in the Nixon Watergate tapes, and Guthrie has often quipped that the song may explain that silence in the infamous tapes.
  3. The song was too long to be released on one side of a 45 rpm single.
  4. Guthrie had just started classes at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont., in September 1965 when the incident happened over Thanksgiving break.
  5. He planned on studying forestry, but never finished his first year.
  6. He was born in Coney Island, N.Y., in 1947.
  7. He is one of four children born to Marjorie (Greenblatt) Mazia and folk legend Woody Guthrie.
  8. He was 13 when he gave his first public performance.
  9. In Boston, he was a regular performer at Club 47 in Harvard Square along with Joan Baez.
  10. Today Club 47 is Club Passim.
  11. In 1991, Guthrie purchased the Stockbridge Trinity Church where Alice and Ray Brock lived and where many of the events that inspired “Alice’s Restaurant” took place.
  12. Guthrie and his friend Ricky Robbins dumped the trash on that fateful day in Stockbridge because the Great Barrington dump was closed for the holiday.
  13. They were fined. And ordered to pick up their trash. The exact amount of the fine has varied in stories over the years from $20 to $25 to $50.
  14. The church is now The Guthrie Center, a nonprofit devoted to helping people with HIV and other afflictions, including Huntington’s disease, the illness that most contributed to Woody Guthrie’s death.
  15. One of Arlo Guthrie’s first lessons on the harmonica came from Bob Dylan, who visited his house looking for Woody.
  16. In the 1969 movie, “Alice’s Restaurant,” the cop is played by the real Officer Obie, William Obanhein, from the story.
  17. The blind judge in the movie “Alice’s Restaurant” is played by the real-life blind judge in Guthrie’s case, James Hannon.
  18. One of his inspirations for believing that such a long story could succeed as a song was Bill Cosby, whom he had seen tell long rambling tales on stage that kept audiences riveted.
  19. He has to relearn the song anytime he’s going to perform it. “It’s not like riding a bike,” he toldRolling Stone magazine.
  20. Guthrie’s biggest hit was “City of New Orleans.” “Alice’s Restaurant” never cracked the Billboard Hot 100. The album peaked at 17.
  21. Theresa’s Stockbridge Café is now in the space where Alice and Ray ran their restaurant.
  22. Alice and Ray Brock are divorced.
  23. Alice Brock owns an art studio in Provincetown, where she paints.
  24. Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler, once wrote Alice Brock, she has said, asking if her restaurant would consider selling the choker necklaces he was making in prison. She declined.
  25. A version called “Alice’s Rock & Roll Restaurant” he released in 1969 lasts 4 minutes long and reached 97 on the Billboard singles chart.
  26. He does not listen to “Alice’s Restaurant” when it’s on the radio during Thanksgiving. And neither does his family.
  27. All of his children play instruments and sing, and some of his grandkids, too.
  28. Guthrie first performed live on a New York radio station in 1967.
  29. He rides a 2001 Indian motorcycle.
  30. The original lyrics contain a slur against homosexuals that today might bring a fine from the FCC to any radio station that plays a song containing it. But the song is played uncut and no fines are incurred.
  31. “Music will be your best friend.” This was a line his father told him when he was very young.
  32. One of Guthrie’s daughters, Sarah Lee Guthrie, is married to Johnny Irion, whose great uncle is John Steinbeck.
  33. His son, Abe, will play the keyboards on the upcoming tour with him.
  34. More than 75,000 photographs from Guthrie’s life have been collected for the tour and many of them will be projected on a screen throughout his concerts.
  35. When Guthrie was 18, he did his first concert with Pete Seeger at Carnegie Hall, a tradition they continued almost every year until Seeger died in 2014.
  36. One of Guthrie’s sisters, Cathy, died in a home fire when she was 4.
  37. The red VW microbus Guthrie talks about in “Alice’s Restaurant” has officially been “relegated to history,” according to a post on his Facebook page this summer.
  38. Woody Guthrie died in October 1967, only one month before his son released the song that would make him famous.
  39. His song “Massachusetts” was adopted by the state Legislature in 1981 as the state’s official folk song.
  40. The inscription on the guitar of Woody Guthrie, a notorious peace activist, read: “This Machine Kills Fascists.”
  41. Arlo Guthrie’s music lineage goes beyond his father Woody. His grandfather Charlie was a court clerk in Oklahoma, a painter and a singer.
  42. Around 2005, Guthrie became a registered Republican voter. He told The New York Times, “to have a successful democracy you have to have at least two parties, and one of them was failing miserably. We had enough good Democrats. We needed a few more good Republicans. We needed a loyal opposition.”
  43. In that same Times interview, he said: “I thought I would be governor of Massachusetts. I stood on a pile of my old albums and said, I’m the only one with a record to stand on.”
  44. He says it took him about a year to write “Alice’s Restaurant” because he had to live through the experiences “one at a time and add them to the little song.”
  45. His mother was a dance teacher at Indian Hill camp in Stockbridge.
  46. His father was Protestant, his mother was Jewish, and he was raised Orthodox. In 1977 he converted to Catholicism.
  47. His grandmother was a Yiddish poet named Aliza Greenblatt.
  48. He was taught Hebrew for his bar mitzvah by Meir Kahane, the controversial American-Israeli rabbi who later founded the Jewish Defense League and was assassinated in New York City in 1990.
  49. His full name has an unusual story. His mother read to him from a series of children’s books called “Arlo Books” about a Swiss boy named Arlo. But because she and Woody were concerned their son would hate the strange name growing up, they tacked on the middle name Davy, in case he preferred to use that. Davy was a nod to Davy Crockett.
  50. When he was in sixth grade, he walked into school and heard kids singing his father’s hit, “This Land Is Your Land,” and he realized he didn’t know the words. He quickly learned them.

The Times, They are a Changin…

Bob Dylan–an American singer, songwriter, artist and writer

Bob Dylan PhotomaniaHe has been influential in popular music and culture for more than five decades.  Dylan was born Robert Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota.  In 1997, Bob Dylan became the first rock star ever to receive Kennedy Center Honors, considered the nation’s highest award for artistic excellence.

Seventy-four year old Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A Changin, released in 1964, was just one of his several anthem songs composed during the anti-war and Civil Rights Movements of the ’60s.

The Times They Are A Changin

As I read the lyrics and watched the video again this morning, it’s tenor and lyrics remain timeless to me.  America, Americans, and other people of our World, despite the times changing, remain in civil unrest–as countries; neighbors; individuals; religious, political, and social cultures–as our executive pastor put it this morning in his message, “it’s a cultural mayhem”. None of us has fully embraced our supposed life lessons from all our histories successes and failures, and many of us have reduced our perception of humanity to “skin color.”

Sorry to be feeling so sinister today.  But, it’s times like this when I turn to my faith to keep believing.  To paraphrase author of Be A Good Human, Tom Giaquinto; “Sometimes, there is a lot of darkness in this world. As I see it, we have two choices. We can be a part of that darkness or we can be a light. I choose to be a light.”  And, it appears my prayers once again have been answered in this weekend’s wonderful message sent by God I’m sure, but delivered eloquently by Daniel Palmer, one of our executive pastor’s.  Here it is, if you care to enjoy listening to it:  One Image

I hope, too, that you enjoy Bob Dylan’s video and lyrics below.  As always, your comments are welcomed and appreciated.

LYRICS:  The Times They Are A Changin

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’


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People, Politics, and Pastimes of the Day

Cover--The Crockett Almanac 1841
I’m not sure why I left this post in draft form for nearly a year now. But, my posting of the following article as sourced by Claudia Swain, one of the authors of WETA’s local history blog; “Boundary Stones,” struck a chord with me regarding this presidential election’s “anything goes” characterizations, attitudes and posturing.
On Election Day 1800; Federalist John Adams vs. Republican Thomas Jefferson were in the race for President; tensions were very high; “bad-whiskey” was readily available; and apparently, “anything goes when it comes to politics,” was even 216 years ago the sentiment of the day! Now–sound familiar? Well–recklessness never comes without consequences–just say’n!  I hope you enjoy the read.
Ms. Swain based her story which follows on The 1841 Crockett Almanac:  containing Adventures, Exploits, Sprees and Scrapes in the West; & Life and Manners in the Backwoods, by Davy Crockett  (August 17, 1786-March 6, 1836), (frontiersman, congressman, and defender of the Alamo), falls on the 230th anniversary of his birth in Limestone, TN.

Some Further Background:

For those of you who may be unaware, Crockett was killed at the Alamo, a fortified mission on the outskirts of San Antonio de Bexar (now San Antonio) on March 6, 1836, along with the rest of a small garrison that had been besieged for 13 days by an overwhelming force personally led by the autocratic ruler of Mexico, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Although it’s been 180 years since Crockett’s death, the precise nature of  it remains a hauntingly open question; i.e., did he die in the fury of combat, iconically swinging his empty rifle in a hopeless last stand? Or, was he one of a group of men captured at the end of the battle and then quickly and coldly executed?
The Crockett Almanac, named after this Tennessee backwoodsman, made famous by his self-serving tall tales, portrayed a rough rural “sport.” The inexpensive comic almanacs combined illustrated jokes on topical subjects with astrological and weather predictions. While presented here as a rollicking free-for-all, frontier violence, emanating from a male culture based on honor and reputation, this “sport” was often characterized by sudden attacks and maiming (such as eye gouging). The rough-and-tumble frontier Crockett came to represent was formed as white Southerners poured across the Appalachian Mountains in the decades following the Revolution, settling first in Tennessee and Kentucky, and later in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, and eventually Texas. The Louisiana Purchase, the introduction of steamboats, and an expanded network of roads made this migration possible.


Rough and Tumble in Georgetown

10/2/2015 in DC by Claudia Swain

“A Regular Row in the Backwoods.”1800s Election - Rough and Tumble in Georgetown

Source: Crockett Almanac (1841)—Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

You’ve heard of DUELING, now get ready for ROUGH-AND-TUMBLE. In the 1800s, more than a few disputes of personal honor were solved by shooting each other to death. But that’s what the gentry of the area did, so what did the common people do? Plain old hand-to-hand fighting and eye-gouging.“Rough-and-tumble” was the name given to the fights between lower class men to settle disputes of honor and status. The style was unique in its brutality, with an “emphasis on maximum disfigurement or severing body parts.”[1] Essentially the rules were that there were no rules, and the fight was over when somebody lost an eye. That’s not an exaggeration; pulling out the eye of an opponent meant you won, and you even got to keep the eye as a trophy.How does this apply to D.C.? As you’ve probably already guessed, the District took place in the rough-and-tumble too. Most memorable, however, was one fight that took place on election day, 1800. Tensions were very high; John Adams and the Federalists were in fierce competition with Thomas Jefferson and the Republicans. In Georgetown, votes were cast at Suter’s tavern (located near what is today K and 31st St NW). A large crowd was gathered to vote and talk but as the day wore on, and “bad whiskey” began to make its way through the men, folk became more and more unruly.It was not long before a man named Shipely called a challenge to anyone from the opposite party who dared challenge him; a Lieutenant Peter answered his call, but sent one of his enlisted soldiers to fight for him, a man named Lovejoy. Christian Hines describes the scene:

[Lovejoy] was a very large man, well proportioned, and stood about six feet high. Shipely was nearly the same height, and very bony and muscular, but not so stout as Lovejoy. The Crowd having formed a ring, the combatants went into the fight with a will, those in the crowd occasionally cheering and otherwise encouraging their choice of the men. [2]

They clawed at each other’s eyes, grappling on the wet ground outside the tavern. Shipely proved victorious, by smearing Lovejoy’s eyes generously with mud. Bystanders picked Lovejoy up and washed his face, although he’d managed to keep his eyes in his head–the man was blinded for life. He spent the rest of his days being led around the streets of Georgetown by a hired boy. Although it’s unclear who Shipely won for, it was Jefferson who ultimately carried the election that day.And what became of rough-and-tumble? It fell out of fashion in the 1840s when deadlier weapons were invented that made the sport too lethal for most people’s blood. A good thing, too, or the Twitter feuds of today would result in a lot less click-bait and a lot more blindness; #RoughAndTumblr.

Footnotes^ Gorn, Elliot J. “Goughe and Bite, Pull Hair and Scratch: The Social Significance of Fighting in the Southern Backcountry.American Historical Review, Vol. 90,1985.^ Hines, Christian. Early Recollections of Washington City. 1866.

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