All posts by Brad

Michigan – Tulips, Cherries & Great Music

Lauren and Amanda came to San Antonio for Mother’s Day weekend. Since she won’t be back for Father’s Day, Lauren brought my Father’s Day gift with her. A jar of Michigan cherry ice cream topping from Traverse City, the “Cherry Capital of the World.” Michigan is the nation’s largest producer of cherries. Yum! 

Old Man Winter has not been kind to the residents of Michigan this year. However, these hearty souls are being rewarded with the gift of spring. As much as I enjoy the San Antonio winters I must admit, I do miss spring and fall. Lauren told me the tulips were just starting to bloom.

A person from Michigan is called a Michigander. Residents of the Upper Peninsula are sometimes referred to as “Yoopers” (a phonetic pronunciation of “U.P.ers”). They sometimes refer to those from the Lower Peninsula as “trolls” because they live below the bridge (see Three Billy Goats Gruff). 

Michigan is perhaps best known for Motown/soul music. For example The SupremesThe Temptations, The Four Tops, The SpinnersSmokey Robinson and the Miracles, and Martha and the Vandellas

Stevie WonderMarvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and Al Green were from Michigan.

But Michigan music goes far beyond Motown. Here are a few examples: Tommy James and the Shondells, Grand Funk Railroad, Madonna, Bob Seger, and Alice Cooper.

Dancing in the Street” is a song written by Marvin Gaye, William “Mickey” Stevenson, and Ivy Jo Hunter. It first became popular in 1964 when recorded by Martha and the Vandellas whose version reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaked at No. 4 in the UK Singles Chart. Consequently, it is one of Motown’s signature songs and is the group’s premier signature song.

Happy Mother’s Day 2019

This is a reissue of last year’s Mother’s Day post with some new music. Enjoy.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. We honor you today, the second Sunday in May because of all you have done for us. Today I want to share a few tidbits of information about this 110-year-old holiday.

Mother’s Day recognizes mothers, motherhood and maternal bonds in general, as well as the positive contributions that they make to society.

Establishment of Mother’s Day Holiday

The modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908. Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. St Andrew’s Methodist Church now holds the International Mother’s Day Shrine.

She campaigned to make Mother’s Day a recognized holiday in the United States beginning in 1905. Ann Reeves Jarvis, her mother, died that year. Ann Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War. She created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started. Additionally, she wanted to set aside a day to honor all mothers because she believed a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world”.

Protests and Carnations

Although Jarvis was successful in founding the holiday, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of the day. Also, she felt the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother’s Day and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved.

Jarvis argued that people should appreciate and honor their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude. She thought people should do this instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards. She protested at a candy makers’ convention in Philadelphia in 1923. Also, she demonstrated at a meeting of American War Mothers in 1925. By this time, sons and daughters were sending carnations as gifts on this day. Additionally, authorities arrested Jarvis for disturbing the peace when she protested AWM’s carnation selling to raise money.

Sundays With Mom

Families all have traditions and routines. Ours was no different. Each Sunday mom began the day by dressing each of us in suits with clip-on bowties. But these were not ordinary suits. She purchased these suits at Freeman’s clothing store and they required alterations by tailors. We went to Sunday school and then sat through church service. Dad gave us pencils so we could doodle during the service.

Mom prepared Sunday Roast each week. This traditional British main meal is typically served on Sunday (hence the name). It consists
of roasted meat, roast potato, vegetables like broccoli, carrots and onions,  and gravy. She put the ingredients in a roasting pan and put it in the oven before we left for church.

Eventually she tired of preparing Sunday roast and our after church lunch became a visit to the heritage cafeteria.

Antique Roadshow

I had the chance to see the Antique Roadshow when it came to San Antonio in April. Each year Linda and I contribute to our local PBS station, KLRN. As a way to reward their Passport members, they gave a few of us tickets to the show. In January, I replied to an email invitation to be placed in a random lottery. Surprisingly, and much to my delight, I received my tickets a few days later.

Once I received my tickets I decided to check out the ANTIQUE ROADSHOW website for some advice.

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW cannot recommend which items you should bring. However, please be mindful of the size requirements. Otherwise, we simply suggest that you choose items that you would like to learn more about. Before deciding what to bring, you may like to click through our interactive slideshow feature “Things We Commonly See at ROADSHOW.”

Of course, now I had to decide which items to take.

My cousin Kathy and her husband Mike came to visit in April. They brought three items which the antique roadshow appraisers evaluated. My friend Don and I headed to the McNay Art Museum for the show.

The first item the appraiser evaluated was a cup from the 1904 World’s Fair held in St. Louis.

The 1904 World’s Fair, also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, was officially opened on April 30th by David R. Francis. Francis was the exposition’s president, and he opened the Fair with the call, “Open ye gates. Swing wide, ye portals,” to St.Louis, Missouri.

Despite being 115 years old these are common souvenirs that have been passed for generations. Thus, they would not likely be sold at auction.

Toys and Games

The toys and games specialist, Noel Barrett appraised two items for me.

Mr. Barrett is an active collector of optical and pre-cinema toys, lithographed paper and comic character toys, as well as salesman’s samples and advertising icons. He has written numerous articles for various collector publications, particularly Antique Toy World and currently he serves as president of the Antique Toy Collectors of America.

I remember playing with this stainless steel egg puzzle when I was a kid. It has a stainless steel ball inside that rattles when you shake it. We always thought the solution was to get it to stop rattling. As it turns out, the goal is to get it to stand on its end (which he demonstrated for me).

This was a souvenir from The World’s Columbian Exposition (official shortened name for the World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition. Also known as the Chicago World’s Fair and Chicago Columbian Exposition), a world’s fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World in 1492.

However, Mr. Barrett spent the most time with my final toy. Despite not having the key needed to wind it, he explained how it works. Wheels on the cat’s belly start turning, causing the globe to rotate and the cat’s tail to turn clockwise. When the tail reaches the floor in its rotation the cat flips over. Eventually, the tail completes its rotation and the weight of the globe forces the cat back on its stomach where the cycle repeats.

This was a German toy manufactured in the late 1940s. Its origin, and 70+ year journey remains a family
mystery.

Overall, my ANTIQUE ROADSHOW experience was highly entertaining. I recommended participating if you ever get the chance.