Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ohio, Margo and Memories

Banks of the Ohio - by McWilliams Hardware & Friends

For me Thursday was one of those days that stand out in your mind, it was one of those days you always remember. I had to drive to Napoleon Ohio for a site supervision of one of my students. The last time I had been on those roads was 16 years ago. So I remembered how young my children were, what it was like to be forming a family and starting a new career. It was a day of memories.

As I drove I turned on the radio and listened to an interview with Joan Baez. We have many of her albums, Cathi and I love folk music. It reminded me of my first trip to Springfield Illinois. The music was loud, the crowds were enormous and the spirits were high as Cathi, my mother-in-law Margaret and I marched in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment. Yep, listening to Joan brought back memories.

The drive was beautiful. Napoleon is on the Maumee River. This is the river that starts in Fort Wayne and flows to Toledo. The city has a wonderful courthouse, mansions on the river and a quaint downtown. The site visit went very well.

On my drive home I drove down Highway 242. I drove next to the Erie-Wabash Canal, past locks, dams, and markers of the victories and struggles of Mad Anthony Wayne. The Indian Wars were easy to imagine.

I turned on the radio and classical music was playing. The car I was driving use to belong to my mother-in-law. The car had the faint scent of her cigarettes. Not enough to affect breathing, just enough to notice. With her scent in the car and her type of music playing on the radio (Bach and Peter and the Wolf) I smiled and thought of her. She has been part of my life since 1973 and I have many, many memories of her, almost all of them make me smile.

I continued through Defiance, another city that was founded by another Mad Anthony Wayne fort. I drove through the villages of Florida and Antwerp. It was a beautiful day full of blue skies, country roads, farmland, cows, rivers, Mohawk gravesites and pleasant memories.

I am a tourist of life and make no apologies for it. I know for instance that Napoleon is the Radish Capital of the World, that Antwerp is home to the Essen House and an A&W Shop. I know cannons mark the site of Anthony Wayne’s fort on the Maumee and Tiffin Rivers. I know the other canals that connect the many rivers of Ohio and I know the walking trail that circles the state.

Margaret has always been one of my favorite fellow travelers. We have been to England, Norway, Sweden, France and Scotland together. We traveled in Canada, New York, and Missouri. Because of her I know Springfield Illinois. We have sat on the shores of Lake Michigan and watched moon rises and we have sipped Cream Sherry together.

Margaret is a life long liberal. She was a British War Bride who came to America and then was astonished at our problems. She had a Chicago Red Squad file on her because she belonged to a community organization that promoted integration in Chicago. So she was very, very happy to see Obama win the election.

Friday night Cathi and I had ham, mashed potatoes and peas for dinner. No big deal except I made the ham gravy, a specialty of Margo’s and it was perfect. Clearly my memories are visual, tactile, kinesthetic, and gastronomic!

Margo is typically British. While she was in England meeting her future American husband during World War II her brother was a British soldier fighting in Burma. He was captured by the Japanese and forced to work on the building of the bridge over the River Kwai. After the war he was sent to South Africa for two years to be treated for tropical illnesses. Margo’s uncle was a vicar in the British Raj or India. She has a beautiful red porcelain elephant statue from there. It is from that family history that she learned to make curry. Tonight I will make lamb curry, also a specialty of Margo.

Margaret is not just a mother-in-law, she is a good friend and fellow traveler. I am glad I had to drive to Napoleon Thursday. Margo is a blessing.

Joan Baez We Shall Overcome

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