Buffalo, New York

I love to travel and see new places. When I plan a vacation it’s usually around something historical that I want to see. I either get to my destination by train or driving. I don’t know how people got around before GPS. It’s the one modern invention I couldn’t live without. I remember the horrors of Mapquest directions and having to be told to turn on “un-named road” or just not knowing where to go as was the case when I got lost returning from Niagara Falls. I have a friend who is like a human GPS and has a strong sense of direction.

My first train trip was in 1997 and I have been on the train 1-2 times a year since then. I love keeping the tickets as souvenirs. Over the years as society attempts to go paperless, Amtrak has followed as well and gone to using smart phone screens or computer paper print-at-home tickets. They do still have machines at the station where you can purchase on the spot and a ticket will print out. Alas, they don’t have any fancy logos or color ink anymore. I’ve toyed with the idea of designing my own ticket that I can print out to use as a memory of my trip in place of these generic tickets.

Here are a few ticket stubs from some of my favorite trips. You can also see the steady increase in the cost of long distance passenger travel.

amtrak tickets

I always travel 1st class or in sleeper accommodations as it’s referred to these days. That means I get my own private room with a bed and a window, as well as access to a shower facility and free meals. I traveled coach on a long distance train twice and that was more than enough for me. That was from Chicago to Charlottesville, Virginia and another time from Chicago to Memphis, Tennessee.

I’ve had people tell me that I should go into the travel and tourism business because of the interesting attractions I find to go to. Travelpod website (www.travelpod.com) is great to blog your trips via photographs. I have already made up a few trips on that site as well.

I have made trips to places more than once, but this isn’t always the case.  In 2005, I persuaded a co-worker to travel with me to the Buffalo, New York area to visit President Millard Fillmore’s grave. The vacation planning stages are as follows.

  1. Find a location
  2. Determine if there is an Amtrak route to that place
  3. Search for attractions in the same area
  4. (Optional) Enlist travel buddies

I saw Millard Fillmore’s grave in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, NY and then his home in East Aurora. Millard Fillmore is one of my favorite Past (Passed) Presidents. While the information out there on Fillmore swings from him being labeled as one of the worst presidents to basically no information because he didn’t want any of his papers preserved. He was a private man, who worked hard to overcome a harsh childhood. He did so by serving the people of New York in the State Government. He was humble and said he would serve (Vice-President) because the people wanted him too; not for his own selfish reasons. Gee, I kind of made him out to sound like a superhero there. J

The next day we took a boat trip on part of the Erie Canal through the locks in it city of Lockport. That was exciting to experience how a lock actually works. Construction on the Erie Canal began in 1814 and was completed in 1825. It connected the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.

Also in Buffalo was a military park where I toured my first submarine- the USS Croaker as well as the Little Rock and Sullivan cruiser ships. The Croaker was manufactured by the Electric Boat company in Groton, Connecticut during WWII. Information on the USS Sullivans directly from the website, “USS The Sullivans, named for five brothers who lost their lives in the Battle of the Solomon Islands when their ship sunk, is an excellent example of the Fletcher class, the largest and most important class of U.S. destroyers in World War II. The Sullivans served with distinction in WWII, took part in intense combat in the Marshalls, Carolines, Mariannas, and Philippines, rescued many survivors from downed planes and damaged or sinking ships, and earned nine battle stars for her service. The Sullivans also served in the Korean War, the Cuban Blockade and assisted in the rescue efforts for the nuclear submarine USS Thresher.”

I toured the (Ansley) Wilcox mansion where Teddy Roosevelt was inaugurated on 9/14/1901 at 3:30 pm in the library, following President McKinley’s assassination. The house where McKinley died no longer stands, but we drove past the site where the Milburn home was.

Next we traveled to Jamestown, NY where Lucille Ball was born. There is a small Lucy-Desi Museum which also has replicas of the Ricardo’s apartment rooms as well as the Tropicana TV show sets. I Love Lucy has been one of my favorite TV shows since I was a little kid. It was actually the 2nd time that I got to see the apartment sets, as they had been on a traveling tour.

The last location was Niagara Falls. It was in the middle of a bad rain storm so I only got to see Canada for about 15 min before we ran back to the United States. We parked in America and walked across the border (a bridge over Niagara Falls) into Canada. That’s when it began to rain again so I didn’t get to see hardly anything. However, considering everything that I just listed above, this trip was pretty full.

I guess that just means, I’ll have to put it on my list as a place I would like to visit again.  Here is a slideshow of a select photographs from the 4-day whirlwind tour of Buffalo

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The Remarkable Millard Fillmore: The Unbelievable Life of a Forgotten President

Maggie Turner's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

The Remarkable Millard Fillmore: The Unbelievable Life of a Forgotten President (Kindle Edition)

by George Pendle

My rating 1 of 5 stars

I admit that when I purchased this book, I may not have read all the reviews. Millard Fillmore sitting on top of a unicorn made me suspicious, but not enough to push me away. I thought of it as an attention grabber to get more readers interested.

Leave it to a British author to try and write about American History and this is what you get !

In the first few pages Pendle seems to say some wonderful things about Fillmore and I felt that someone else finally felt the way that I do about the 13th President. It wasn’t until later, I realized he was mocking Fillmore and me for that matter. I had a hard time picturing Fillmore’s great great grandfather being a swashbuckling pirate, nor his grandfather being of the kind to sit in the forest and eat linens. I even read past the part where Fillmore’s journals were found in a village in Northern Uganda where they worshiped them as sacred objects. It was once I got to the chapter that began with Millard’s life and the author said that the family couldn’t afford to give him a middle name, I put the book down and began to wonder if I had been taken in. Believe me, I have my receipt and I want my money back!!

I realize now the book is a joke, and I’m past feeling humiliated by it. I find some creativity in Pendle’s writing and for that only credit is due. I can’t beg Half Priced Books to buy it from me for a penny because I had downloaded the Kindle version so instead of deleting it (the e-version of book burning) I’ll keep it around for those nights when I have insomnia.

I try to be a reasonable Millard Fillmore fan. I’m sure the man himself would be able to take this book with a grain of salt and laugh it off. I understand he doesn’t rank high on the list of great presidents, but if you read biographies by Robert Scarry or W.L. Barre (published in 1856 when first-hand information was still available) you would see Fillmore in a different light. Millard Fillmore was chosen as Vice President even though he didn’t want the job. He was a dedicated civil servant and realized that if the people wanted him, believed in him, and chose him as vice-president then he was willing to step up and do the job for the people. That type of giving of one’s life, unselfishly to the public has been lost to labor’s history, as is Fillmore’s true reputation.

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Basement Archives- Part 1

I haven’t quite lived in my new home for a year yet, and still I have a basement full of archival material.  To me, it’s easier to sort through “archival material” instead telling myself that I have to unpack boxes of   junk that I haven’t looked at in years, and probably didn’t remember I had.  So far I’ve recovered several drawings I had done during a beginners program, my teenage journals, numerous cross-stitch kits that have barely enough thread on them to even bring recognition to the pattern, old bills, a half a box of trinkets, school work, loose photographs, rocks from places I’ve been to…. and the list goes on and on. I would welcome any suggestions in the comment section below of what I can do to hold all my vacation destination souvenirs such as brochures, postcards, patches and tickets, etc. I hate to just keep them loose in a bag. 

One big problem I have is papers so I bought a filing cabinet.  I’m told at work that I have great organizational skills and everyone comes to me when they need to find something.  I thought I’d try to recreate that at home, and it’s not quite that easy so far.  I don’t usually file newspapers at work.  In fact, I’ve had to start a box just for over-sized papers that don’t fit into a filing cabinet.  

While doing a quick sort of papers, I came across a group, folded in half, that actually made me cover my mouth and gasp.  It’s something that I had absolutely, completely forgot about.  Yet, despite the nature of these items, (as you see below) they actually are quite pleasant memories.  Even when life wasn’t always going in positive directions, Wal*Mart was at one time fun place to be.

One evening shift I was working, I had discovered this signed taped to a pole in the middle of the aisle in the Toy Department.  Initially mortified as I snatched it down before anyone could see it, I realized in doing so that just like pulling gray hairs, when one sign came down, another one popped up. 

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The original tape is still on them, but there’s no date on these documents.  I estimate them to be circa 2004 based on Bob Uecker’s comment.  Despite their mean nature, they actually put me in a better mood back then, as they did this evening when I rediscovered them.  They served their purpose to bring a smile to my face so I was correct in saving them for future use.  I stopped my rummaging through boxes, and sat and recalled a bunch of memories of my Wal*Mart associates, even thought the memories aren’t all on paper, like this.  Everyone’s moved on and nothing more remains for me except for the memories.  You can’t compare present day Wal*Mart to it, you can’t go back to it, and you can’t re-create it in the future so I am going to hold on to these papers as a keepsake.    

However, what file would I deposit these papers in?

Oh yea, “S” for smile.