We Learn Wednesdays

Sep 23

Of bricks and cannons

It was just 26 miles. No big deal.

This morning’s bike ride was in no way remarkable. No big speeds, no new PRs, no new roads, but the weather was perfect and the colors of this mini season are dazzling.

It was only remarkable in its unremarkableness. The ability, and the opportunity, to set off for a mid-morning bike ride is not to be underappreciated. I mean, I was still working out some lecture material in my head as I rode — because that never turns off, not really, apparently — but it was a wonderful day for a bike ride, and I was happy we could take advantage of it.

After which I, of course, sat down and went over notes and prepped my slides and figured out how to pace some things out for classes tomorrow.

Then I took a break. I pulled in some tomatoes. I tied up a few tomato vines that have been running wild all summer. I enjoyed a few tomatoes. (They were delicious.) Somehow, this kept work out of my noggin for a bit.

Oh, and then there was the evening’s ironing session. Nothing was percolating in my brain during my de-wrinkling chores.

But now I am back to it. So while I spend doing some class work, please enjoy these videos from Tuesday night’s concert with Pink.

Her daughter, Willow, came out to sing. Pretty great in front of a big crowd.

And here’s the big finish. The stage was in center field of the park, and they had a rigging set in the infield and then some more mounted somewhere above and behind everyone, which allowed all of this fanciness to happen.

It was a good show, though it wouldn’t have been my first choice, but I’m glad I went. The wire act and the aerials and the trampolines were all fun enough; I would have liked to seen more of the act without the over-the-top performance, to see how good it could be. Though I don’t think anyone there minded what they saw from the summer carnival.

Time now for the eighth installment of We Learn Wednesdays, where I ride my bike to find all of the local historical markers. I’m seeking them out by bike because it’s a great wayis one good way to go a little slower, see more things and learn some roads I wouldn’t otherwise try. Counting today’ to discover new places, and at a better pace. Counting the two you’ll see here I have now visited 17 of the 115 markers found in the Historical Marker Database.

To find our first location you had to go down a quiet country road, and then turn onto an even more quiet country road. Every little click and noise you could make sounded like an interruption of nature. And then, you round a little curve and you find yourself at the Dickinson House.

The Marker wasn’t up the day I visited, but the database tells us what it said.

Dickinson House – The most ornate of early glazed brick patterns decorate the west wall of this house, built in 1754 by John Dickinson

It’s a one-of-a-kind pre-Revolutionary War-era home, then, and it is still a home today. This is what makes the place singular. This county was the home of patterned brick houses, a style you didn’t find in great numbers or intricacy anywhere else in America. There are about 20 of them that survive (they numbered 43 at the end of the 18th century).

Those bricks get that distinctive color by a firing process akin to vitirification. Extreme heat turns them from red to shiny blue. Usually, you’ll apparently see them installed as dates or initials, but the intricate designs here are something special. The owner thinks that this wall was an advertisement for the builder, John Dickinson. The letters are the initials of the Dickinsons, the original owners.

The house has four fireplaces. One of the original hearths is apparently at the state museum.

About seven miles away on the modern roads, you can see the Pole Tavern Cannon. The marker has been removed, but it said …

The Cannon Il Lugano which was forged in Naples in 1763 weighs 800 Pounds. Il Lugano was used in battle against the Austrians. Napoleon who visited Italy once in 1796 and again in 1800 dragged the cannon over the Alps and Eventually back to France. Napoleon then sent the cannon to his brother Joseph who was the ruler of Spain. In 1808 the Duke of Wellington’s Troops captured the cannon from Joseph and returned it to England. It was then used in Canada during the war of 1812 when American colonists captured it in 1814 in Plattsburg, New York. After the war was over the cannon was declared surplus by the United States Government, and sold to Salem County to Supply the county militia. During the Civil War (1861-1865) the cannon was used by the Pole Tavern Militia in preparation for battle. Since 1913 the cannon has been in the Pole Tavern Area.

The Cannon was restored in 1986 by Jay Williams and David Harvey with tremendous pride in their accomplishment.

This building was constructed in 1994 by Nicholas Hutchinson and fellow Scouts, to house and protect this historic cannon. Nicolas chose this project as a requirement to achieve Eagle Scout which he proudly received in 1995.

The canon, which has city in this small town’s main intersection for ages, was bought by that local militia along with three others, and 287 muskets.

Napoleon, since he’s mentioned by the marker, had also been fighting the British, of course, but he’d abdicated earlier that same year. That allowed more experienced British fighters to be shipped to the new world, and some of the key officers, too. But the Battle of Plattsburg, in August and September of 1814, when the cannon finally fell into American hands in 1814, becomes an important moment in the War of 1812. A combined land and naval engagement, it brought to an end the invasion of the northern states by the British, when the New Yorkers and Vermont men held Lake Champlain. (Having sat out much of the conflict, Vermont came into the fight here was a key piece of the timing.) The British commander knew he would be cut off from re-supply without the lake, so he ordered a retreat to Canada. They were to destroy everything they couldn’t haul back with them, a standard tactic, but there was no follow through. The British left under cover of darkness and, somewhere in all of that, Il Lugano was captured once again.

Three months later the peace treaty was signed, though that battle probably didn’t influence the mood among the delegates at those meetings in United Netherlands.

In May of 1889, veterans from another small town came up and stole the cannon for their Independence Day celebrations. The cannon then somehow wound up in the state capital, where it stayed for almost a quarter of a century, before finding it’s way back to its current location. It was displayed in the town hall, but that building burned soon after, in 1914. So the cannon, apparently, was outside for several decades. That (really great) little building that houses it is almost 30 years old, and is showing its own age.

You might think that the good people of that little town are proud to watch their cannon grow older each year — 270 years old this time around the sun! — but they trot it out now and then. They did so in 2016, when they fired it as part of a festival and parade. I found two different clips, but neither have audio. So I found something better: the time Il Lugano was heard in 1991.

If they keep to that schedule the Pole Tavern Cannon will be about 288 when it roars again.

Miss some of the markers? You can see them all right here.

Sep 23

Going fast, and also seeing things slowly

I have two classes tomorrow, so a substantial part of yesterday, and almost all of today, have been spent in making notes for myself, trying to think up ways to keep students’ attention and give them some useful information. This is always a learning process, both in terms of pedagogical techniques but, sometimes, in the actual material. I learned a few things yesterday. Now I get to share that information with others. That’s a lot of fun. Hopefully they’ll think so, too.

Just kidding. I’m working on a lecture a few weeks from now. But I did learn some things. One of the things I learned is that some of the reading materials have disappeared, and so I had to scramble for suitable replacements. Another thing I learned involved something arcane and technical. The journalist in me would have benefited from the existence of this technology, but not understood why or how it worked. Sorta like me and, say, an important converter in a hydroelectricity plant, or the part between solar panels and light switches.

What was really fun, and quite gratifying, is when I get to a new section of notes and text for this lecture that will take place in a few weeks and realize, “Hey, I know how to do this. I’ve been doing this for a long time, as it turns out.”

Can’t buy the sort of confidence that comes with steady realization, I’ve always said, since at least the beginning of this sentence.

The one big break from all of that today was a bike ride this morning. Here we’d just been chatting, when I looked down and we were soft pedaling through the low 20s.

On this particular route we follow that road for some miles until it ends. Then we turn left onto a road that parallels the river. The road is mostly flat, but there is the slightest little gradient. And my lovely bride will crush a false flat. I could still see her when she got to the next turn, but I didn’t see her turn. Despite having a clear view down that next road, I didn’t see her there. She wouldn’t have continued on straight ahead, owing to the logistics of the ride, but no can see.

So I spent the next four miles putting in some of the ride’s best splits, just to catch back up to her, which I finally did. We talked again for a moment, which was mostly me just trying to get out “You’re fast!” Then I went past her. I held her off for four miles, after which she dropped me with a “Why’d you do that?” look.

Because being chased is every bit as fun as chasing. Moreso when your legs are beginning to feel pretty decent again. (That only took two months.)

Also, I set three Strava PRs on that ride. All of which is why there’s only one shot in the video. I was too busy, and then too tired, to get more shots.

The seventh installment of my efforts in tracking down the local historical markers did not come from today’s ride, but rather a weekend expedition. Doing this by bike is one good way to go a little slower, see more things and learn some roads I wouldn’t otherwise try. Counting today’s installment, I’ll have visited 15 of the 115 markers found in the Historical Marker Database. What will we learn a bit about today? I’m so glad you asked!

Downtown is an old town here. Quaint houses. Signs on the walls displaying the original or locally famous previous residents. Hitching posts out by the modern curb. Lots of cars, but the whole vibe. It’s a charming little place, and houses like this are part of why.

Built in 1724 by a second generation immigrant, Samuel Shivers had one of the first houses in this town, and it is still today a fine example of several different generations of architecture. Historians would point out that there’s four centuries of work here, included the remnants of Samuel’s father’s 1692 cabin. The house we see today, then, shows us work that spans four centuries. The door, the hinges and the rest of the hardware there are period original, but I don’t know which … again, several centuries of work are in here.

The mantel is original. Some of the window glass is original. It wasn’t long before the Shivers family needed more space, so Samuel bought a nearby tavern and had it moved onto his property. Samuel’s daughter and her husband took over the house in 1758. That man, Joseph Shinn, helped write the state constitution in 1776. Their son, Isiah Shinn, took over the house. He was a state lawmaker and militia general. Isiah presided over more additions in 1813, adding a dining room and two more bedrooms, and this was the look on Main Street until 1946. The woman that owned it then made a lot of changes and whoever produced this sign did not like it. But for the past few years a preservationist has owned The Red House and is restoring it to its original style.

Apparently, the first film produced by Samuel Goldwyn in his studio Goldwyn Pictures in 1917 was shot in this town, and all of the interior scenes take places in this house, or on sets modeled after it.

The whole movie is online.

The Red House, also, has this fancy plaque on the front wall.

I touched it. It’s some sort of vulcanized rubber. But the rest of the house, though, it’s something else. Some day I’m going to have to work my way into an invite.

What already seems like six or seven years ago, somehow, but was merely last Wednesday, I showed you the marker that stood by itself, with nothing to memorialize. It was a fire ring. There’s one other in town, and it is within just a few feet of The Red House.

And even though, last week, I shared a screen cap of the Google Street View car’s photo of that now-missing fire ring, it’s important to see it for yourself. So now here is a fire ring.

This all seems pretty obvious now. It sounds like this.

I’m just tapping the ring with the metal head of my bike pump but the sound really jumps. Imagine, years ago, hearing this in the middle of a quiet night, when someone full of adrenalin is striking this ring. “FIRE! COME QUICK!” I bet it was an effective system for it’s time. The Red House’s sign says it has survived, among other things, fires, so that ring must have been an effective call to the community.

Also, ‘Old Discipline’? What a great name. What a great name for anything.

If you’ve missed some of the early markers, look under the blog category We Learn Wednesdays. What will we learn next week? Something quite unique indeed. Come back and see!

Sep 23

Ready to just do it already

First classes are tomorrow. Last minute dashes to be prepared are today. I got a decent haircut, learned things about cowlicks, and ironed some clothes. When it’s open-the-ironing-board official you know it is getting real.

I’ve also semi-prepared the things I’m going to discuss in class so much that they now seem less interesting to me. And some of these things are interesting! Some of them are about the syllabus. And everyone loves syllabus day. So tomorrow is the first first day for two classes. My last first day is Monday night. I’ll start finishing that class prep on Saturday.

Tomorrow, it is two afternoon classes, and I know most of their pros and cons, schedule-wise. But Monday, it is a night class, that’s new to me. And it’s the last schedule block of the day. Because of Memorial Day, that means the 6 p.m. Monday night class will be the last first day of the semester. I’m sure all of the students in there will be over ice breakers. No pressure whatsoever.

But before that, there’s tomorrow. (It’ll be fine.)

This is the sixth installment of my tracking down the local historical markers. I’m doing this by bike, by the way, which is one good way to go a little slower, sometimes, and learn some roads I wouldn’t otherwise try. Counting today’s installment, I’ll have seen 13 of the 115 markers found in the Historical Marker Database. What will we learn a bit about today? Something that doesn’t exist anymore!

Here’s the first marker.

The fire ring isn’t there anymore. And I had this wrong. I thought this footprint would have been where it went. And I figured it was some sort of bell. Ring! Ring! Fire! Fire! Come out and fight the fire! Ring! Ring!

But this is what it looked like, and it was installed right next to that marker. This is a Google Maps image from the summer of 2016.

By the next time the Google car through, in 2019, the fire ring was gone. And you can see that the other spot, where I thought the fire ring would have been, had some other sort of monument or marker. It was also removed before September of 2019.

There’s another marker, elsewhere, for another fire ring. It’s next on the list to visit. Maybe, if it still there, we can figure out more about the mysteries of the fire ring.

But, for right now, if you look just past the marker above, you’ll see another one. And this wordy little document has been sitting here for generations.

And here’s the bridge the old timers were celebrating.

Now, I don’t know if that’s fertilizer runoff or some sort of punk rock algae bloom, but I’m not swimming in that lake, or fishing it, anytime soon. There were some people fishing in the lake the day I took this photo.

The marker says in some places the flood was 20 feet above normal and, in this location, it reached the top of the current bridge. That’s difficult to imagine, given the flatness of the surrounding flat terrain. (That’s how flat it is. Flat flat flat.) That sounds like a lot of water spreading out, and so it was. A tropical storm dumped 24 inches of rain in half a day at a gauge just 13 miles away. Dams failed, and a railway bridge that ran over this lake … well, here’s a thousand words on that from The Times.

But that date, the dedication date of the new bridge? That was 15 months after the flood. That’s not what stands out. Sure, it is 981 months, to the day, from me writing this, but that’s not it either.

December 6th, 1941, a Saturday. Imagine, the next day the members of the Board of Freeholders (a term no longer in use, having rebranded as county commissioners just a few years ago) woke up, all proud of their efforts, saw their neighbors, went to church, or whatever else their normal habits might have been. And, by dinnertime that night war was no longer a looming shadow. What everyone had feared had come at last. That bridge may have been the last thing built around here for a while.

If you’ve missed some of the early markers, look under the blog category We Learn Wednesdays. What will we learn next week? Come back and see.

We also return to the Re-Listening project, which is aptly named. I’m listening to all of my old CDs in the car, in the order in which I acquired them. I’m writing a bit about them all here, to play some music, to see if I can scour up a memory and, sometimes, like today, pad the place with some extra content. These aren’t reviews — because who cares? — but they’re sometimes fun.

And this time, we’re in the early summer of 2003. Train’s “My Private Nation” was released, their third studio album, and I liked Train. I liked Train three albums worth, and this was the third one I purchased. (They’ve released seven more records since then, the most recent being in May of last year.) This record went platinum, their fifth platinum certification, and ended 2003 at number six on the Billboard 200. A lot of people liked this record. (And five of their subsequent records have ended a year in the top 20. A lot of people like Train. Go give them some grief.)

They released four singles in support of the record. “Calling All Angels,” you’ll remember, was a big hit. “When I Look to the Sky” was moderately successful and, I think, the place where I’d almost had enough. “Get to Me” made it to number six on the Billboard Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks, and is still catchy two decades later. Though I’m not sure if I ever listened to that in the company of another human being.

That could have been a function of 2003. Early morning shifts — my first hit was at 4:30 a.m., which meant I was going into the studio before 4 a.m. most days, which meant my first alarm went off at 2:30 a.m., — shape your social life.

This was not an early morning listen, though. I was singing along in the car to people with a deeper register than Pat Monahan has. Also, right about here on the CD, I think I was starting to discover the Train formula.

Despite that, though, there’s still charming little imagery sprinkled throughout.

For my money, the last track on the album is the best one. And one of the best in their catalog.

Five years later a guy named David Nail covered it and had a moderate success on the country charts. What does that sound like?

It’s a cover.

Anyway. The first time I saw Train was on a small festival stage about 45 seconds before they became a supernova. And then I saw them in the now demolished Five Points Music Hall. I think I caught them once or twice more in bigger places. Then one morning I finished an early morning shift and bumped into them at a breakfast place. They didn’t look prepared for breakfast. This would have been 2001 or 2002. I didn’t see them, I don’t think, when they toured this record. And soon after this members of the band started changing and it would feel like an entirely different show if you went these days I bet. Monahan is the only original member left.

If you want to find out, Train is on tour right now. Let me know if they’re still doing the Zeppelin covers.

Aug 23

A good workout makes it all better

I spent all day frustrating myself with pagination and bullet points. No matter how old I may get, no matter how much wisdom I earn, I will never have the patience for this, or understand why simple text editors and CMS tools simply refuse to do the obvious thing.

Or, failing that, why my ideas and habits are always so fundamentally at odds with the people who designed these things. Designed these things, one imagines, with a notion of serving the broader audience. If so it begs an important question: am I out of step with popular ideas about indentation?

Other things, you grow fine with. Music, fashion, well, that’s just a byproduct of not caring as you get older. Certain elements of political ideologies, what are you gonna do? How the cookie crumbles, could have used a different emulsifier, but I’m sure that was a bottom-line decision. Stuff happens, yes, in fact, stuff does happen.

But, my goodness, people should all want to use bullets and other basic formatting traits in a sane, sensible, not-at-all-programmed-by-a-sociopath way.

After I’d spent hours doing this — that’ll teach me, until the next time — which included making up brand new utterances to utter, my lovely bride came in and suggested a way around this problem. It made sense. It was easy. But, by then, I had invested six hours on the thing and who wants to blow up that sort of progress?

I was flibbertygibberted.

A little while later I had a cause to be even more frustrated because I finally went outside and it was a stunningly beautiful evening. (Literally, all afternoon was spent on this ridiculous task I’d made for myself, rather than being outdoors.) So I went for a swim.

Jumped in, goggles on and started the freestyle technique. This was my view on the starting end of the pool.

Swam for an hour. Got in 2,650 yards. I do not know what is happening.

This is not fast, but it is a respectable distance. Also, I didn’t stop the first time during the whole thing, which is absolutely a record. This was my longest swim since October 17, 2015. That was my last lap swim until last month. A lot happened in between. A lot of nothing happened in between, too. But that’s the case for everyone. Anyway, 10th swim in after an almost eight year layoff, and I’m doing some real distance again.

My heart rate, immediately after my swim, was 101. I might not be working hard enough.

Swimming at dusk, though, was a lot of fun, and just what I needed after flabdabbering my computer all day. I’m going to feel it in my shoulders tomorrow, but I might also go for another swim Friday evening.

This is the fifth installment of my tracking down the local historical markers by bike. There’s an online database with 115 markers in the county. Counting today, we’re 11 down and making decent progress. What will we learn a bit about today? We have a few more war memorials.

I’ve read that 78 local men served during the Great War, by the time it was over, 124 people had enlisted. Some 3,300 people lived in the two communities represented on that marker. In a small town any enlistment is keenly felt. I haven’t, yet, found anything online that tells me about which locals shipped out, to where or with whom. I don’t know anything yet about casualties, but supreme sacrifice leaves you with more than a suggestion. All of it was keenly felt, I’m sure.

Some of those initial 78 would have likely been in the Guard. When the war began in Europe, the local national guard was under strength, under supplied and under prepared, but still somehow better equipped, trained and prepared than it had ever been. New Jersey was one of only four states that funded 75% of the expenses of its National Guard. Some of the Guard here went to the Mexican border. Some went to Fort Dix, and then Anniston, Alabama, before heading out to France. But where the men honored here, I don’t know.

Right next to that marker is this one.

Russell Garrison also has a memorial park in his name, just a few miles away. Garrison was killed at a place called Pleiku, a strategic crossroads town, in 1967. He wasn’t yet 22.

Marvin Watson was a PFC in the Marine Corps. He died in 1969 in Quang Nam, a town in central Vietnam by the East Sea. His high school yearbook says he was known for his sense of humor. He had just turned 20.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund says 28 people from this county died in Vietnam.

Two generations later, here we are.

Specialist Richard Emmons III probably got razzed for his baby face. He looked young even in his fatigues, even in his beret. And when you see the photos of him smiling, you can really see it. He was 22 years old, in a province in eastern Afghanistan he probably couldn’t have found without a detailed map before he deployed. A rocket-propelled grenade attack on his convoy. He’d been in the army for less than three years, and in-country for almost a year. It looks like the whole town came out when he was returned home.

Corporal Derek Kerns was killed in a training accident in Morocco. Helicopter crash. The Marines concluded it was pilot error. The two Osprey pilots survived, but Kerns and another, a Marine from Los Angeles, were killed. Kerns joined the Corps right after high school, and his family said he really took to the life. He’d just gotten married, and they had just had a baby. He was only 21.

And somehow, despite that, it’s the blank space beneath those two names, the air below those stories, that is really striking.

All three of those markers are next to one another, overlooking Memorial Lake, which is right beside Main Street. A pair of bald eagles live around the lake, and there’s a nice little neighborhood just across the street. The locals fish for bass and crappie there.

So we’ve learned a fair amount this week, but there’s a lot more to go. If you’ve missed some of the early markers, look under the blog category We Learn Wednesdays. And be sure you come back next week for what is a historical pre-footnote and something else, which isn’t even in place anymore.

It doesn’t sound like much, but that installment is going to be great.

Aug 23

We don’t talk only about the weather

Much of the country is under a heat dome, because heat wave just doesn’t focus group well. One of the local broadcast meteorologists here pointed out that we were at seasonal averages, and a change was in the air. I called him many, many names for the implication, but he’s used to that, being a broadcast meteorologist.

I’ve admired those people, worked with some of them, taught some more of them, and I feel for all of them. They make models and they’re sometimes wrong. It happens so much they are common jokes. You’re doing the punchlines right now. They work at all hours. And when the weather is really bad, it’s all hands on deck, and the greats stay on until the weather has moved on. Most stations will send out their reporters on days like that for the cliched stand up, but it’s the meteorologist who has to help find a place their friends and colleagues can get the story, but stay safe. That’s a huge responsibility, to say nothing of the way they all mentally take on that role for their community. But pity the poor meteorologist who sees something on the radar that justifies breaking into the soap operas or the big game.

I try to be understanding and appreciative of meteorologists, especially the really good ones, in most every thing they do on air. If you can name every small county road across the DMA, I’ll talk about you with the reverent tones a legend deserves. There’s just two things you can’t do. One of them is this: you can’t, in the summer, talk about the change of seasons.

Longtime readers will be able to figure out the second thing easily enough.

Anyway, the high today was 82 degrees.

My cycling computer is a Garmin 705, which is now pushing 15 years old. I bought it, used, a few years back, because it did all of the things I wanted at the time and it has basic maps, which could be useful. That could be a very useful feature just now since so many of the roads are new to me.

I tried to get to the maps part of the device a few days ago, mid-ride, but couldn’t remember how. Another day, I figured. I’ll only think of it when I’m well and truly lost. But, he said with confidence, there’s always the map on my phone. Problem with that is, I’d have to hold my phone. And the computer is right there, attached to the headset.

Anyway, something I noticed for the first time a ride or two ago is that while the unit of measure is tenths of a mile, the first tenth of a mile is displayed as feet. It ticks up 10 feet at a time, through the first 520 feet.

So it was that on today’s ride, while I was watching those numbers tick up 280, 290, 300, 310, that I knew right away that my legs didn’t have “it.” So little “it” did my legs have that I chased my lovely bride the whole time. So little “it” that she sat up and waited for me once. So little “it” that I decided to add on more miles to the ride, because I keep saying I need more rides, but I also need more miles. I will get my legs out of this unproductive funk.

So little “it” that I didn’t even take any photos or videos of the whole ride, but I did get a shot of the Garmin during those extra miles.

I’d just passed the grocery store and was about to go through the roundabout, just plodding along.

Somehow, despite having dead legs, I set PRs on two Strava segments. They were on roads I’ve only been on twice, and they only shaved a few seconds off the first ride.

I had a nice long Zoom chat with a new colleague this evening. The goal was to help get me up to speed on a class I’ll be teaching this fall. She was very kind to share the time, and generous with her thoughts and materials. Answered a bunch of questions, helped put me at ease and offered to help me throughout the semester. She invited me to come visit her classes, which was especially considerate.

The class will be even better because of that conversation, and I was grateful for the help.

Also, the chat gave me my first look at how my home office will play as a Zoom background. I’ve got nice evening light and a great depth of field. I just need to fix a few things in the background. But I’ve got ideas about that.

While I was considering those, after the chat, I noticed the last light falling on the door.

It stayed like that just long enough for me to turn around, grab my phone, pull up the camera app and compose a quick shot. Seconds later, the clouds rolled in front of the sun, and, disheartened, the sun slipped behind the trees. The meteorologist was off tonight. A different guy was on, and I couldn’t bear to hear it again. I’ll also pretend not to notice that the time stamp on the photo said 6:27 p.m.

This is the fourth installment in my tracking down the local historical markers. There’s an online database with 115 markers in the county, so we’ll be at this for a good while.

You can find them all under the blog category, We Learn Wednesdays. What will we learn about today?

The first stop is the Friends Cemetery, which is a few blocks up the road from the Friends Meeting House. The marker says …

Three African Americans are interred in this Friends cemetery.
From the records:

“Rachel Mintiss (Colored), wife of Andrew Mintiss was buried 5th mo. 8th 1846 on the hillside, near the 1st Row of the 2nd purchase.

Andrew Mintiss was buried 28th of 8th mo. 18?? on the left of his wife. Aged about 82 years.

Abigail Mintiss, widow of Andrew Mintiss was buried 31st of 1st month 1850 next to her husband.”

Andrew Mintiss and Abigail Atlee were married 16 September 1846. He died between then and late January 1850. The location of these unmarked graves remains unknown.

Find A Grave thinks Andrew Mintiss died somewhere between 1846 and 1852.

Some 2,500 others are buried there, including at least one Civil War veteran, a militia captain. In his portrait, he’s seated, bearded, holding a sheathed sword.

The Bassetts came over on the ship right after the Mayflower, and a few hundred years later, there was Howard. He studied dentistry, but became a farmer. He married Clemence not too long after the war. They had seven children.

The oldest recorded grave was a Quaker who lived and died a British subject. He was interred in 1773. It’s still an active cemetery.

Not too far away is the Russell G. Garrison Memorial Park. It was rededicated as a memorial and environmental park in 2017.

All of those men were locals who died in Vietnam.

One of the town’s busier thoroughfares runs right by the park, but there’s something tranquil about the place despite the road noise. There’s a large rain garden that features hundreds of native plants helping collect storm water and prevent run off. The parking lot has a porous asphalt and the whole place has an underground filtering system to deal with chronic flooding. There are signs explaining all of this, the rain garden and the owl houses.

The mayor says the park is part of a growing greenbelt around the town. I kinda want to see the rain garden in action. I guess I’ll have to pay closer attention to the meteorologist.