Category Archives: What’s Going On

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.

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.

Feeding Birds (& Squirrels Too)

I love watching birds. It is a wonderful time of year for birdwatchers. Birds become even more beautiful as they shed their winter plumage in favor of brighter colors. I experiment with different seed mixtures to attract the widest variety of songbirds. My year-round favorites are cardinals, titmice, chickadees, and house finches. I have had the most success with simple black oil sunflower seeds

However, in springtime, my personal favorites migrate back north from their winter homes. The beautiful lesser goldfinch begins to visit my feeders. In contrast with my annual birds, they prefer Nyjer thistle. Consequently. I have to use a feeder specifically designed for this type of food.

Feeding the Squirrels

Alas, birds are not the only ones who enjoy sunflower seed. Squirrels are wily pests who also enjoy these tasty treats. I have spent a lot of time and money trying to outwit these pesky rodents. The feeder shown in this picture is called a “squirrel buster plus“. Amazon sells this for $94.99. The squirrel is standing on a “squirrel baffle”, part of an advanced poll system sold by Wild Birds Unlimited. He outsmarted me by jumping on top of the pole from an adjacent tree. I haven’t seen him since moving the baffle down and spraying the pole with a generous amount of WD-40.

Nevertheless, this entertaining experience reminded me of this song from Mary Poppins. Enjoy.