September 30, 2013

They Grew Up in Oakmont

 When Frank was born, his family lived in this house in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. Earlier this month we went there with his siblings. It's a charming town northeast of Pittsburgh. You may have heard of the country club that shares it's name for the U.S. Open has been held there numerous times.

The last photo shows the second house where Frank lived. His parents had it built. His father worked for Edgewater Steel, which has since been closed and the buildings removed.

No one in his family lives in Oakmont now, although his brother still lives in Western Pennsylvania.

Webbed Detail

Sometimes a photo surprises me! This one looks a bit like something spooky for Halloween, but it did not start out that way. I was working on the topic of "Detail" for City Daily Photo's Theme Day. Since I'm currently posting photos from our trip to Pennsylvania, I selected the iron duck that I purchased at an antique shop in Apollo.

I posed him on a table with a bright light on him and took his portrait. Then I set my camera on "close-up" mode and concentrated on some detail shots. Since it was the openwork that attracted me to the item in the store, I moved in close and positioned it so I caught the light shining through.

Not until I opened the image on the computer did I see the spider webs! They are inside the item and I have not opened it up yet, although I can. It is apparently intended as a decorative candle holder.

September 29, 2013

Wall Flowers


General Samuel M. Jackson Memorial

In Apollo, Pennsylvania

This monument in downtown Apollo honors Civil War General Samuel McCartney Jackson. He was also a statesman and businessman. Here's an excerpt from this monument:
Samuel McCartney Jackson was born upon a farm near Apollo, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, September 24, 1833, and was the son of John and Elizabeth (McCartney) Jackson. At the age of thirteen he joined the local militia as a drummer boy. At the onset of the Civil War this company of infantry known as the Apollo Independent Blues was mustered in as Co. G of the 11th Regiment Pa. Reserves.
S. M. Jackson was chosen to be its captain at which rank he served until July, 1861, when he was promoted to the rank of major. In October of the same year he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel... The principal engagements he participated in were Gaines' Mill, the Second Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Bethesda Church...
After the war, Jackson served in the state legislature and later held local offices in Apollo. He was active in the Presbyterian Church and was "the leading spirit in organizing the Apollo Savings Bank." One of his grandchildren was the actor Jimmy Stewart.

September 28, 2013

Downtown Apollo, PA

Apollo is not far from the home of Frank's brother. A memorial was erected downtown in 2010 with the words "Apollo 11" on the top panel and a depiction of the logo for the Apollo 11 moon landing featuring an eagle. The words "Apollo In the Line of Duty Memorial" are featured below that.

Four other panels are dedicated to heroes: Persons from Apollo who died in the line of service, men and women of the Apollo Police Department, the Apollo Fire Department, and the crew of Apollo 1 who died in a "NASA preflight test" in 1967.

Link: The Apollo Missions (NASA)

Trivia: Apollo PA is a palindrome. (Try spelling it backwards.)

September 27, 2013

Riding in His Brother's Van

On our first day of visiting Frank's brother, we rode around in his brother's van and visited Oakmont and Apollo. I soon found that getting out of it was painful for my knees, so we used our car on the next day.

It's Autumn Already

Scarecrows and pumpkins are showing up everywhere!

September 26, 2013

In Bill's Yard

We took Frank's sister up to Pennsylvania where her oldest brother lives. Here are a couple of pictures I took in his yard, plus one that Deborah took of the rest of us.

Bill's yard backs up to a golf course. He enjoys the peaceful view.

Bright Sky Near Berryville

I snapped these shots from the car late one afternoon. Frank had stopped for traffic so I didn't have time for multiple shots.

You may notice that the foreground is a bit lighter and brighter than it usually appears in photos I've taken so late in the day. That's because I've been taking more images in "Raw" format because I'm taking a Photoshop course from LFCC and we've been learning the features of "Camera Raw" in Photoshop. I used that plug-in to process these images and it made it easy to lighten the shadows without lightening the sky. There's a danger of overdoing it so I tried not to over-lighten. I've seen all too many images lately which showed more color in the shadows than humans can see with the naked eye.

This is my Skywatch post for this week.

September 25, 2013

Gate on Hume Road

Those of us who follow the blog of TexWisGirl have seen her series of ranch gates, so I thought I'd share one I saw at the Marriott Ranch in Hume, Virginia. And here's a close-up of the sign that you see as you exit.

Some of you may be old enough to remember that "Happy Trails" was the closing song for the Roy Rogers Show. The song was actually written by Roy's wife, Dale Evans.

Even fewer readers may know the connection between the Marriott Corporation and Roy Rogers, which is that Marriott owned Roy Rogers Restaurants from 1968 to 1990.

Also in Hume and not far from the Marriott Ranch is a well-known winery, which was up for auction but has become the subject of a dispute. One of the owners, Tareq Salahi, is contesting the proposed sale, which follows a series of misadventures as dramatic as a mini-series! If you're curious, check his bio on Wikipedia.

September 24, 2013

Viewing the South Fork

When Frank's sister visited, we took her to Shenandoah River State Park. (If this overlook view seems familiar, that may be because I've posted similar photos from Cullers Overlook several times.)

We also drove down to the picnic area by the South Fork of the Shenandoah and admired the river.

September 23, 2013

Frank the Farmer (Not)

We planted a small plot of vegetables this spring. Frank was happy to harvest two ears of corn out of it. Let's see, what else did we get?

Well, we got a handful of lettuce. Then the weather turned hot and the rest of the lettuce turned too bitter to eat! Recently I picked a nice yellow squash and there are a few more coming along. And there are a few grapes on the vines he planted last year, although a vine near the pool has died, probably from too much water.

Our only real success was the potatoes. We dug up enough to fill a large bowl.

No doubt we lost money on the garden. This has happened to me before. In fact, it's usually the case, but I hoped it would be different here because we don't have the deer problem that we had at Bryce.

However, we do have weeds, heat, ground hogs, and rabbits.

A View in Shenandoah National Park

Since Shenandoah National Park and it's famous road, Skyline Drive, are not far from where we live, we drive up there fairly often. Here's a September view from one of the overlooks.

September 22, 2013

An Old Friend Turns 80!

Last week I went to a birthday celebration for an old friend. It was held at a church near Newington where her son is a pastor.

I worked with Sarah Fields almost 40 years ago at the Extension Office in Alexandria. It was my first job and she was an inspiration to me. We were community organizers for the city's fledgling 4-H program.

Our children became friends and even told people that they were cousins! Sarah and I kept in touch over the years, so when her daughter told me they were planning a celebration for her 80th birthday, I made plans to go.
The location was over 90 minutes from here, but I was greeted so warmly by Sarah's family that I was really happy I made the journey. And she is still an inspiring person, very giving and caring.

I made it a point to take pictures of her and her children because I knew my daughters would want to see them.

September 21, 2013

Two Roads, Two Days, Two Bears

I've been watching websites like Massanutten Game Trails and noticed there are plenty of bear sightings in Virginia this year. So I felt it was time we saw a bear, and when we went up to Skyline Drive two weeks ago I announced that I wanted to see a bear.

Sure enough, we saw one crossing the road. He strode across briskly and disappeared into the forest.

The next day I was driving to Woodstock and noticed the flashing lights of a sheriff's car in the parking lot of a motorcycle shop. Oh dear! A bear had been hit and killed by a vehicle.

Poor bear! I imagine the motorist had suffered a bit of a shock too.

I'm posting this sad scene to remind readers to drive carefully and watch for wildlife. This creature was hit in Maurertown on U.S. 11, a busy road where you don't expect to see a bear.

P.S. I read in NVDaily that the accident caused $1,700 in damages to a truck and there was also an incident in Bentonville in which a police car hit a bear. Be careful out there!

Summer is Ending

These early-changing leaves are showing several shades of red. Do you think I've got enough orange here to qualify for the Orange You Glad It's Friday linkup?

September 20, 2013

Misty Morning in Elkins

Looking Toward the Town of Elkins, WV
Shopping Center Viewed from Hampton Inn 
On the last night of our 5-day trip we stayed in Elkins, West Virginia.  From there it should have been an easy drive home but the weather was rainy so that slowed us down a little. Nonetheless, we reached Woodstock (VA) in time to pick up our dogs at the kennel before they closed.

Anyway, I had a great trip with plenty of photogenic scenery and the thrill of seeing the home of my g-g-g-grandparents in Chesapeake, Ohio.  Other highlights were Breaks Interstate Park (see August posts) and Jackson's Mill. Yes, it has taken me a month to blog about a five-day tour! And there are plenty of pictures I left out.

I think I wore out my old Coolpix camera. It's not working well now.

The Farmstead at Jackson's Mill

Conrad Cabin

West Virginia University acquired the Jackson's Mill property in 1921. Since Stonewall Jackson had lived there as a boy, the site was historically significant, even though the house had burned down in 1915. The white-painted grist mill from Jackson's time still stands beside the West Fork.

Other old buildings have been moved to the property to create a village of 19th-century structures.
Blaker's Mill
At times there are demonstrations of milling, weaving, spinning, basket making, candle dipping, wood working, and blacksmithing. Since the property is also home to a 4-H Youth Camp, young people have an opportunity to see how things were made 150 years ago. From From April through October, a general store is open Wednesday through Sunday. The complex reminds me of Old Bedford Village but not as large.

Jackson's Mill is near a small town called Jane Lew which is a short drive from Weston, WV. I recommend a visit if you are within a few hours of there. See the online directions.

McWhorter Cabin

September 19, 2013

Skyscape and Sign, Jackson's Mill

Those who haven't studied the American Civil War might wonder why I drove out of the way to see Stonewall Jackson's boyhood home. Well, you don't have to be a good ol' rebel to be fascinated by General Jackson. He was not only an amazing strategist and famous leader; he had an interesting background. Some of this is told on interpretive signs at the homestead in Jane Lew, West Virginia. More is available in Civil War books, of which there are many.

Before the war, Jackson lived in Lexington, Virginia, where he was a college teacher at VMI. He was also active in a local church, and taught Bible classes to slaves. He broke state law by teaching them to read! Apparently he believed that teaching people to read the Bible was worth risking a jail sentence.

He did not favor secession, but after Virginia's governing bodies voted to secede, he joined the Confederate Army. Like many people, he felt more loyalty to his community than to the larger community of the United States. (I have observed that choosing sides in a war usually has less to do with beliefs than it does with where you live.)

Excerpt from the sign:
In 1831, this became the home of six-year-old Thomas Jonathan Jackson (1824-1863) and his four-year old sister, Laura Ann Jackson (1826-1911). Their mother, Julia Beckwith Neale Jackson Woodson, sent them here to live with relatives. Their father, Jonathan Jackson, had died in poverty in 1826. In 1830, their mother married Blake G. Woodson, who was likewise mired in poverty and resented his stepchildren. Julia Woodson died late in 1831.

Thomas Jackson left in 1842 to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After graduating in 1846, Jackson served in the Mexican War and later taught at the Virginia Military Institute. He joined the Confederate army when the Civil War began, commanding a brigade at Harpers Ferry. On July 21, 1861, Jackson led his unit at the First Battle of Manassas, where he received his famous nickname, “Stonewall.” His illustrious military career ended with his death on May 10, 1863, after being wounded during the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Jackson and his sister remained close until, like so many other siblings, they found themselves on opposite sides during the Civil War. Laura Jackson, who married Jonathan Arnold in 1844, opened their house in Beverly to Federal troops as a hospital and nursed them herself. Her outspoken Unionism estranged her from her brother.
For the rest of the sign and a link to a map, see Jackson Mill on

Like skies? See Skywatch Friday.

September 18, 2013

Historic Jackson Mill

In Jane Lew, West Virginia
There are plenty of interpretive signs in the Jackson's Mill Homestead. Here are some excerpts from a plaque that's mounted next to the front door:

Edward Jackson, "Stonewall's" grandfather, came to the West Fork valley with his family in 1801 and built a log gristmill at a bend on the east side of West Fork River sometime within the next few years. Milling was an import industry… his son Cummins took possession after Edward's death.

Cummins rebuilt the mill you see today … in 1841. Power was provided by two water wheels situated beneath the first floor.

September 17, 2013

Blaker's Mill Pond

This mill pond at Jackson's Mill is not original to the farmstead. It was added in recent years to provide water for Blaker's Mill which was moved here to be part of the exhibit.

An older mill on the property was once owned by relatives of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and he and his sister moved here after being orphaned at children.

Click on a picture to see a larger version.