Saturday, December 30, 2017

Heritage in Flight

On a recent outing we were invited to come up to the Fulton County airport and visit the Heritage in Flight museum. Lil Nick, Tom Anderson and I drove down on a day that was a LOT warmer than today and were given a private tour thru the buildings and surrounding property.  It's filled with  memorabilia from the early days of aviation as well as artifacts from World Wars one, two, Korea and more. 

We saw one case after another filled with display's donated by local boys who had served with distinction and the minutiae they had collected along the way. In addition there were period vehicles on site as well as several 'warbirds' on static display including a F4B-Phantom II, a T-33A Shooting Star, an A-7E Corsair II and more. There was so much to see that I'm sure we only scratched the surface of everything this little museum has to offer.

The museum is in Lincoln, IL. at the airport and is open by appointment only. It IS handicap accessible and as an interesting side note the building itself is a former army barracks from the former Camp Ellis, a WW 2 German prisoner of war camp located between Bernadotte and Ipava. I highly recommend the museum to anyone as fascinated with aviation history as I am.

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Meaning of Christmas

As I sit here two days before Christmas I am reminded of days long past when Christmas was more than blue light specials, Black Friday's, Cyber Monday's,  and last minute sales. Oh sure there were parties and presents and masses of wrapped gifts under the tree with each kid secretly yearning to have just one more present than anyone else did. We acted just like modern kids do with our toys that we played with for hours on end before we lost interest for the next shiny thing to catch our eye.

But for all the presents, toys, and gadgets we had, it seemed there was More. Families reconnecting after a year of living the hurried life, A chance to see uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents. A chance for laughter, love and the renewal of the holiday Spirit.

And as I grow older, I think back with fond memory to those simpler, more innocent days of my youth and frankly I miss it. But age also gives me wisdom and I think more not just of get together's but of the 'reason for the season' as the old saying goes.  Where would we be, as a People, were it not for that long ago simple birth in a stable?  A favorite television program explains it thusly:

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And Lo the angle of the Lord came down upon them, and the  glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men."  That's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.

From all of us at Off the Beaten Path we wish you, and yours, a Very Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Listening for the lonely whistles cry

In our travels throughout the state one things remains a constant. Each town large or small has a Train station. Before there were super highways cutting across the landscape and before local roads connected cities with one another the people of the land rode the Iron horse. From the early to mid 1800's Trains carried passengers, freight, mail, and perhaps most importantly they carried Hopes. Hopes of a new life, a fresh beginning, a chance to Live the American dream.

As the rail network spread out from central hubs They touched at rural towns large and small. Sometimes getting a railroad station made or broke a town. Determined whether it would become a major city or remain a sleepy farming community. The train station was one of the focal points of a town, it's often where news came in, where families were reunited or where they left for better lives elsewhere.

The train station saw men go off to war & it saw men return from war. They saw tearful reunions and heard the shouts and cries of people coming and going. The train station served America at a time when our country was lifting itself up from the past and striding unafraid into a shining future. They saw anonymous freight trains go by and they saw stately private rail cars for businessmen and millionaires.  They witnessed the Funeral train of Abraham Lincoln and saw the Whistle Stop campaign of Franklin Roosevelt. They saw famous trains go by, trains with names like Panama Limited, the Magnolia Star, the Green Diamond and of course the City of New Orleans.

Like all new technologies however, the trains were eventually supplanted by the automobile and while trains do, and will always, continue to run they don''t hold the place of importance they once did. The old train stations are now empty, boarded up or were torn down in the name of progress, but there are still quite a few survivors who are now loved by a New generation, one with fond memories of an earlier age when great steaming behemoths or sleek diesels ran the rails.