Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Variety, Quality and Price!

This is one of the great markets in the USA! We were blown over when we 'discovered' the West Side Market in Cleveland... The primary structure was designed by the same architects that designed the Cleveland Museum of Art...and this building was actually designed to serve as a market. It opened for business back in 1912.

Well, it's still in business! An estimated 1 million visitors/shoppers explored this enormous food paradise during 2009. The market has a huge high vaulted ceiling and there is a 137' clock tower at the other end of the building.

Semi-enclosed single level structures stretch along one side and one end of the primary market building. These 'outside' buildings are packed from end to end with produce stands. Hawkers at each stand push their fruits and vegetables, offering samples to passing customers.

When I checked the current listing of produce vendors, I counted 32 different stands. The variety, quality and pricing are significantly superior then you can find in other stores... The competition helps, I'm sure!

Then there is the main hall... There are 35 butchers and providers of meat products listed plus 3 Seafood vendors and 4 dairy/cheese providers.

I checked the complete list and totalled up the number of booths/vendors that are operating at the West Side Market. There are a total of 116 booths to view and visit!

In addition to all of the vendors listed above, there are flower vendors, spice providers, ready-to-eat goodies, candy, nuts, Scottish & Irish meat pies, coffee cakes, a variety of bread, pies, cakes, pretzels, popcorn...etc., etc.

During our first visit, there was so much to look at, take in and comprehend that it was actually a bit mind-numbing! Now, whenever we visit the Cleveland area we come equipped with a large cooler and a bunch of ice packs...

What kind of meat do you want? There is Beef, Pork, Lamb, Goat, Sausages of any kind, Liver, Gyros, Bacon and Jerky. The meat is fresh, the quality is great and, as with the produce, the price is right.

The West Side Market is located at the corner of 25th Street & Lorain in the near west side...not too far from downtown Cleveland. Hours are: Monday & Wednesday from 7 am to 4 pm; Friday & Saturday from 7 am to 6 pm. Check it out at http://www.westsidemarket.org/.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


While visiting family and attending a wedding in Michigan, we cruised through many small towns, searching for old railroad depots, locomotives and unusual rolling stock.

In Clinton MI we didn't find the building that we were looking for...that we could verify as being the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern freight depot. But we did come across this unusual little engine sitting on an old siding with a several other pieces of rolling stock.

This is GMDH-3 Locomotive #275. This is a one of a kind demonstrator, (re: sales sample), built by General Motors Diesel in Canada in 1950. It's a 37.5 ton diesel hydraulic locomotive with a 6-wheel chassis. This unit spent some time in Egypt and in it's role as a 'sample' unit, but no sales resulted. Engine #275 subsequently spent 30 years in service as a factory switcher in St. Catherine's Ontario, Canada.

We also noted these 2 units in this small town rail yard: a GE 44-ton 4-axle switcher...built somewhere between 1940 and 1956 and; a 1920 Coach from the Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad.

All of this rolling stock and more, is owned by the Southern Michigan Railroad Society. The Society is based in Clinton and it owns about 14 miles of track and it operates some excursion trains. The overall goal of this group is to build an operating museum railroad using the first branch lines that had been built into Michigan. For more information, go to http://www.southernmichiganrailroad.com/.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Another Fun Food Joint!

Summer vacations are almost over for 2010, but I didn't want to miss talking about Eddie's Grill! Located in Geneva-on-the-Lake Ohio, Eddie's is a true classic 50's throwback! Better yet, Geneva-on-the-Lake is a town that isn't aware that the 1950's era is long gone... The whole village is nicely stuck in the 50's!

Eddie's Grill is a real family spot... If you aren't into a flock of kids running around and having fun, this place isn't for you! To add to the ambiance, there is a quarter per play jukebox loaded with old time rock 'n roll tunes at every booth... The music adds to that family feeling! This is just a fun place...

So, step up to the counter and place your order! Good Steakburgers, hot dogs, sloppy joes, french fries, real lemonade and home brewed root beer! If you need a little something extra, there's even an attached Dairy Queen for dessert...

Eddie's Grill is located at 5377 Lake Road East, (Ohio Route 531) on Lake Erie...about midway between Cleveland and Erie Pennsylvania. Phone: 440-466-8720.

Unfortunately, the summer season at Eddie's ends on Labor Day, but hey...there is always next summer!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dolphins Equal Happiness!

One of Laurie's biggest dreams was to get in the water and play with Dolphins! On a trip to the Florida Keys, we stopped at The Dolphin Connection at Hawk's Cay Resort on Duck Key and we were able to delete one more item from her 'bucket list'!

We'd never worn wetsuits before...and just getting into them was a workout. A bit of instruction and then we went out to the Dolphin Lagoon with the trainers. We were lucky as we were the only visitors, so we were able to spend a lot of time with the Dolphins!

The adventure with the Dolphins starts with visitors standing near the edge of a platform that's submerged in the lagoon. After a bit, you can swim with them as well! I must admit that Laurie was a lot more comfortable than I was in the water with these big and enormously strong animals. Just putting your arms around the Dolphins helps you realize how powerful they are!

While I interacted with the group's main male, knowing full well who was the boss...Laurie was charmed by and got a little kiss from one of the ladies in the pod.

All in all, this was a great experience! We would highly recommend this hands-on adventure to anyone who likes animals and who is looking for a personal high! If you're headed for the Florida Keys, check out the possibilities at http://www.dolphinconnection.com/.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Trains Plus Good Food!

Imagine this...a small town with railroad history and good food too...right across the tracks from each other! One of our summer drives took us to Cowan TN, a small town just east of I-24 in the south central part of the state.

We discovered the Cowan Railroad Museum, which is housed in the Depot built by the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railroad in 1904. The depot contains many nifty railroad artifacts plus a large model train layout.

The museum has 2 locomotives on display. There is a handsome Porter 2-4-2 Columbia type locomotive built in 1920. I just couldn't resist getting in the cab and playing engineer...

The second locomotive is a GE 44 ton switcher built for NC&SL in 1950. Significantly, this is the first locomotive to be radio equipped, (in 1962), so that an engineer wasn't required in the cab.

Check out the museum's website at http://www.cowanrailroadmuseum.org/.

This is a busy train watching location. Cowan is located very close to the Cumberland Mountain railroad tunnel. This tunnel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was completed in 1850 and it's still in use today. CSX maintains pusher engines at Cowan to assist trains up the grade to the tunnel from either side of the mountain.

Right across from the Cowan Railroad Museum...in a great looking old building and with a full view of the busy CSX tracks...is Sernicola's Italian Restaurant. Sernicola's is a friendly place that serves good pizza, a selection of tasty Italian dishes and some local favorites. http://www.sernicolas.com/

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Canadian Rail Service

During our recent family trip to Michigan, Ontario, western New York and Ohio, we took quite a few photos of railroad depots...with most of them now adapted for non-railroad uses. But, here in Ontario, the Canadian government has ensured that passenger railroad service stays alive and many of the old depots still serve their original purpose.

This handsome brick passenger station, first opened in 1916, is located in Brantford Ontario, a city of roughly 100,000 people. VIA Rail runs through Brantford from Windsor, (just across from Detroit) to Toronto, with four (4) passenger trains each day from each direction stopping at Brantford.

By way of contrast, this is the railway passenger depot in Wyoming Ontario. This town, with a population of only 8,000 or so, is served by VIA Rail's trains between Sarnia, (just across from Port Huron, MI), to Toronto. Passenger service is available on a Westbound train to Sarnia at 10:04 pm and on an Eastbound train to Toronto at 6:51 am. In order for the train to stop to pick you up, reservations must be made about 3 hours in advance. But...at least they have rail service! There was one pick-up truck in the parking lot when we passed through.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ronald Allen Myers

Staff Sergeant Ronald Allen Myers was my father... He was born on April 2, 1911 and married my mother, Elizabeth Sibbald Weed, on January 17, 1939. I was born on July 21, 1942. My dad was fatally wounded in Czechoslovakia on May 6, 1945, only 2 days before V-E day... He and his unit were trying to clean out a German machine gun emplacement.

At the time of his death, my father was a member of the 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division, known as "The Fighting First" or "The Big Red 1".

My mother met my dad in Jackson Michigan where he was working as a Soda Jerk in a Drug Store. He was a graduate of Michigan State University, majoring in forestry and, for a short time before the war, he worked for the Michigan Department of Conservation.

This photo is of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Jackson Michigan. My dad and 7 others who gave their lives for our country have been memorialized in a huge stained glass window in the chapel. Note the photos which follow.

My father and many others are memorialized at the Michigan State University Alumni Chapel in East Lansing, Michigan. The chapel was built in 1951 and 1952 to honor those alumni who died in the service of our country...beginning back in 1861. The names of these honored alumni are engraved on the vestibule walls of the chapel. Embedded in the walls of the chapel are 30 stones that were picked out of the ruins of European cathedrals, some of which were over 500 years old, that had been bombed during World War II.

As shown in the photos below, my father is buried in the Lorraine American Cemetery in St. Avold (Moselle), France.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

1952 Drive-In

While in Conneaut Ohio, we decided to check out a 'Roadfood' landmark. (http://www.roadfood.com/) This is the White Turkey Drive-In at 388 East Main Road, (US Rte 20) 440-593-2209

What a nifty throwback to the 'good old days'! Founded in 1952 by Eddie and Marge Tuttle, the White Turkey Drive-in is still in the family, with the 3rd generation now involved in day-to-day operations. The restaurant was named after a breed of turkey the family was raising on their turkey ranch when they bought the place.

The menu features turkey sandwiches, (chopped turkey au jus)...order the 'Large Marge' with bacon and cheese...burgers, fries, chili cheese fries, a deep fried hot dog on a toasted bun...plus root beer, malts, shakes, a black cow and of course, as pictured below, beautiful root beer floats.

There are picnic tables with umbrellas in a grassy area out back, the staff and the family are very friendly, the food is good basic fare at a good price and the atmosphere is great. Play an old time rock 'n roll tune on the juke box and imagine simpler times! But do it soon... The White Turkey Drive-In is only open from Mother's Day weekend through Labor Day.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Nickel Plate Road

During our trip up north this summer, we came through Conneaut Ohio. We were pleased to see ongoing maintenance on the former New York Central Railway Depot. We really like the masonry work and the lines of this structure.

Sitting right next to the station is Berkshire Type 2-8-4 Locomotive #755, (type S-2), that was built by the Lima Locomotive Company in 1944. It was delivered to the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad and was retired from use in 1958. Out of the 95 units built, only 6 remain.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Real Deal Italian!

Well, once again we returned to Willie's, an Italian Restaurant in Seymour TN. This time we brought Big Dude, aka Larry and his better half, Bev. (Check out Big Dude at: http://bigdudesramblings.blogspot.com/) Since we moved down to East Tennessee from Chicago, we've been looking for quality Italian food. This was our third trip to Willie's and we wanted Larry and Bev's input on our "find".

We all agreed that the food was very good...and the service was excellent! All of the waitstaff in this casual restaurant are attentive to all of the tables. Water and ice tea refills...used plates removed...checking on the food...napkins needed...to go box provided...all on automatic with all of the employees focused on providing great service.

So, how about the food... The Italian meals come with Garlic Bread Knots and a small chilled dinner salad. For entrees, our group ordered Lobster Ravioli with 8 homemade ravioli ($10.95)...Mussels Marinara which included 2 dozen mussels ($8.95)...Chicken and Shrimp Carbonara ($10.95)...and Shrimp Fra Diavlo, spiced just right with 8 nice size shrimp ($8.95) Very good to excellent ratings on all 4 entrees...plus lots of food and great value for your money as well!

To cap it all off...each couple split a piece of Willie's homemade cheesecake. Now yours truly is not a cheesecake fan...but in this instance, the cheesecake got rave notices from all of us at the table. We liked it so well, we forgot to take a photo...

Willie knows how to prepare really nice food at a great price... Guess what?! He's a good Italian lad from Queens in New York City! Next time we try the pizza... Note the photo below of Willie preparing a pizza for the oven. Willie's Restaurant, 11612 Chapman Highway (US 441), just south of the intersection with US 411. Phone: 865-773-0170. Recommended by Big Daddy Dave!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Auto From the Past...

While we were cruising through western New York State, we passed through scenic Westfield, near Lake Erie. In a small park, we spotted an artifact from the past. It's been quite a while since we've seen a Nash Metropolitan. For some reason, it looks pretty nifty...much more appealing than I remembered. It may be the color scheme or it may just be it's retro lines as compared to most of today's homogenized automobile designs.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dining in the Buffalo Area

On a recent trip, we had the opportunity to eat in 2 well known restaurants in the Buffalo NY metropolitan area. As per an episode from Guy Fieri's "Diners, Drive-In's & Dives" on the Food Channel, we stopped by Grover's in East Amherst. Despite the fact that I don't like waiting...this former hunting lodge where Grover Cleveland used to hang out was worth the delay! Great Burger cooked the way we wanted it... Terrific Wings, crispy and flavorful...and yes, some very tasty cheeseburger soup! The soup contains hamburger, cheese, tomato and lettuce. Sounds a bit gross but tastes great... We agreed with Guy's assessment that the lettuce actually pulled the soup together!

Then there was Schwabl's! Located in West Seneca, this place has been in the same family around in one form or another since 1837. Listed in 'Roadfood' and having been featured on Anthony Bordain's show 'No Reservations', Schwabl's is most famous for it's Beef on Weck... This sandwich consists of a pile of top notch thinly sliced roast beef served on a kimmelwick roll. This hard roll is crusted with coarse grains of salt and caraway seeds. The roll is soft on the inside but it's firm enough to stand up when it's sliced in half and dipped in the natural a jus. With or without a little horseradish from the pot on the table, this sandwich is just terrific! Note: The carver was extremely particular...discarding pieces of roast beef that we'd kill for...apparently just because they didn't meet his visual quality check.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bye Bye Buddy...

Today was a sad day. We lost a member of our family... His name was Buddy and we'd rescued him from a shelter a little more than 5 years ago. In the last two months, he'd lost about a third of his body weight, he was becoming uneasy and uncomfortable and he was diagnosed with a severe case of diabetes. We'll miss him on our laps, helping us when we work on the our computer and especially his assistance in holding the pages of Laurie's books when she reads in bed at night. He'll be joining Max, Fluffy, Lhasa and Hank in Cat Heaven...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Classic Railway Depot

This classic railway depot is located in Jackson Michigan. It was built in 1872 as a replacement for an earlier depot and in 2002, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. This depot is now used as an Amtrak Stop for the 'Wolverine' on it's trek back and forth from Detroit to Chicago.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Top Drawer BBQ

Ribs, Ribs, Ribs!! Big Dude/grandpop1 did it again!! My better half and I plus 4 guests from Indianapolis... A bit of golf, some appetizers and then these terrific ribs. After heating up Big Dude's ribs with a touch of apple juice for an hour, I dropped them on the grill for a couple of minutes on each side. Terrific. We had some very satisfied and happy guests! Rave notice on the ribs...

Friday, August 6, 2010

"Real" Antiques

While recently rolling along the back roads, we came across this sign in front of an antique shop on US Highway 17 in Woodbine GA... It was just too good to pass up so we took a photo. As you can tell...the owners are up front about what they sell and the shop was emphatically closed.

The shop is called Me and My Partner - Antiques & Collectibles. The proprietors are Jodie and Windy Briese. (Love Windy's name too!)