Friday, February 28, 2020

Knoxville Auto Show plus Lunch

For several years now, I have delayed making a move that would satisfy one of Laurie’s wishes…wants…desires…needs.  She wants an SUV (sport utility vehicle) whereas I’ve always preferred a nice comfortable sedan.

Eventually even a mountain can be worn down by the weather so we’ve begun a slow search to determine what type of SUV she’d like.  It can’t be too big and it can’t be too small.  It has to have all the safety bells and whistles plus leather seats, good cup holders, a large video display and lots of space in the back for luggage and ‘stuff’.   On the other hand of course, is my goal is to not go broke buying Laurie’s new vehicle...

We started out the day with a visit to the orthopedic surgeon’s office for a quick check up on my various surgeries.  No problem there…so then it was off to lunch before going to Knoxville’s big auto show.

We chose Jason’s Deli for lunch.  We hadn’t been to Jason’s in quite some time, we’d enjoyed our previous meals here and Laurie had a hankering for a pastrami sandwich.

Jason’s Deli is a fast casual delicatessen restaurant chain.  It was founded in November of 1976.  The company currently has about 300 locations in 29 states.  This particular location is on Peters Road in west Knoxville but there is another store closer to downtown.

At Jason’s, customers peruse a printed menu or a menu board to decide on their food choices, either before getting in line or while in line.  Service is efficient and quick.  The staff was helpful and the restaurant was clean.

The menu at Jason’s is quite extensive.  There is a plethora of sandwiches to choose from to include many standard deli offerings, plus a Po’ Boy, wraps, pasta, potatoes, clubs, soups and a salad bar.  The company advertises that they use all fresh ingredients, no artificial trans-fats, no MSG or high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors and dyes.

The dining area at Jason’s is big, bright and open.  The large salad bar is located near the counter where customers place their orders and where the sandwiches/lunches are assembled on trays.  I noticed that if you were going to do the salad bar for lunch, and you had a credit or cash card, you could go straight to the salad counter to pay and begin selecting your lunch.
While the restaurant wasn’t too busy when we arrived just about at Noon, by the time we left, the place was bustling!  It’s obviously a very popular luncheon destination…

Laurie decided to go with her favorite deli sandwich for her lunch.  This was her Hot Pastrami on Rye with a bag of kettle chips. ($9.49) This big and very tasty sandwich includes about 8 oz. of hot pastrami on toasted rye bread with spicy mustard.  When we ordered she requested some au jus on the side so she could make her hot pastrami ‘wet’, more like what she might be served in a local East Coast neighborhood deli.  She was very happy…

I decided to try something new…something I hadn’t had before, when I ordered my lunch.  This Pot Roast Melt Sandwich with potato chips was perfect comfort food for a chilly winter day. ($10.29) I have to say that it was one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in a long time.  I’d order it again without hesitation! 

Jason’s Deli #870 is located at 133 North Peters Road in Knoxville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-357-3354.  The website and standard menu can be found at:

Laurie had logically determined that a great place to start her (our) search for an SUV would logically be at an auto show!  This was our opportunity to check out all of the SUV ‘possibilities’.

We made our trip to the Auto Show on a Friday.  This was to avoid crowds and because on Friday senior citizens were admitted for free!  One look at the photo above shows that we certainly accomplished our ‘crowd avoidance’   objective.  There certainly weren’t very many people to get in our way…and it was about 1:30 pm when we arrived.

First Complaint: Parking!  The designated parking lot was closed to auto show attendees.  We were re-directed to a church parking lot across the street.  How does a convention center operate with parking arrangements like that?

This definitely wasn’t a ‘glitzy’ auto show…  It was more of a new car 'parking lot'.  Most of the automotive brands were represented with Toyota, Ford, Chevy, Cadillac and a couple others dominating the floor space.  Volkswagen was no-where in sight.  Kia had 2 cars against the back wall.

Second and Third Complaint: There were free bags to carry auto brochures as you picked them up but we only spotted 4 different brochures among the various brands.  Also, many of the SUV’s lacked electrical power…so we couldn’t open up the back of the vehicles to check storage space. 

While we liked the fact that the auto show was ‘pressure free’, i.e. no salesmen pushing product and in your face… However, (Fourth Complaint), given the lack of knowledgeable automotive personnel, trying to learn about the different brands, accessories, etc. was quite frustrating. 

Ford and Toyota did have what appeared to be ‘outside contractors’ with smart phones and the ability to research/answer some questions and they tried to be helpful.  But, other than one salesman at Subaru, it was hard for auto show visitors to learn much about anything... One couple that we talked to briefly became so frustrated that they gave up and left the show.  

If we learned anything at all at the show, sadly it was that going to this show was a major waste of our time.  As the saying goes, ‘you can’t win them all!’  At least the Auto Show was free…but it wasn’t worth the price!  On the positive side, we did have a nice lunch…

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Grandson plus Spring(?!) Food

This post is a little bit about 3 different topics… Genetics, spring in February and a new dining experience in our house.

When it comes to the genetics part of the story…how about this strapping young specimen dribbling down the court!  At 16 years of age, Emmett Lee is really into basketball and he looks the part too!  Could be another Steve Kerr, only better looking, at least in our opinion.  I’m wondering if he takes after his Papa?  Not likely, as I wasn’t very aggressive sports-wise…

Talk about intensity!  He’s going in for the kill!  Emmett’s mom, Amy, snapped both of these photos… We think that Emmett has Amy’s intensity when it comes to things he loves to do.

Now onto the topic of spring...

Our lone Forsythia bush, just planted last fall, is still a bit scrawny but it is in bloom.  Wait, isn’t it February?  It was blooming by mid-month!  We have had an exceptionally mild winter and our plants are not waiting for mid-March…

Knoxville’s average low temperature in January is 29.1 F and the average high temperature is 47.3 F.  This January 24 out of 31 days were above the average high, with a record 77 F one day and 6 other days in the 60s.  As far as low temperatures, Knoxville only recorded temperatures below the low average 9 times.

Our Lenten roses were blooming as well.  They’re doing better this year now that the trees next door were cut down for a new home.  They still should have enough shade to help them through the summer heat in East Tennessee.
The Lenten rose is a perennial flowering plant…a species of the buttercup family.  The plant is native to Greece and Turkey.  The common name…Lenten rose…relates to their tendency to flower during Lent.

Our various nandina bushes have taken off too!  Lots of color to please the eye… Nandina, heavenly bamboo or sacred bamboo is native to eastern Asia from the Himalayas to Japan.  Despite the common name, it isn’t a bamboo but it’s an evergreen shrub that can get fairly tall (7 feet in some instances), and it normally consists of unbranched stems growing from ground level.  In Japan, there are nandina gardening clubs…

Nandina is extremely toxic to birds and animals.  If birds, like cedar waxwings overindulge on nandina berries, it can kill them.  Do you live in ‘deer country’?  With its naturally occurring phytochemicals, this plant is commonly used in rabbit and deer resistant landscape plantings.

FYI…Nandina is considered to be an invasive plant in North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.  It is important to only buy and sterile plant varieties anywhere in the southeastern United States.  

This bush with the compact little orange-red flowers is a very compact hybrid flowering quince.  The “Texas Scarlet” is a small, spreading, deciduous shrub with a plethora of fiery red flowers in clusters.  They are early spring bloomers but they’re at least 2 – 3 weeks early, even for East Tennessee.  Heavy rains have knocked off many of the blossoms.  February 2019 was the rainiest February on record and it looks like this February will come in as the second worst. (Still beats the heck out of snow!)

FYI…These shrubs are drought tolerant, can grow in poor soil and they can thrive with full or partial sun.  The deer in our neighborhood don’t seem to bother them much.

If you live in Tennessee, here’s a source for a list of deer “resistant” plants and shrubs.  (Note the word “resistant”!  A really desperate deer will eat almost any plant…even going so far as to eat holly leafs and then spit out the berries) Nothing is perfect but you can find some guidance at:  For a similar plant listing for all other states in the USA, go to

Laurie took this photo of Tellico Lake from our upstairs balcony early one recent morning.  Note the fog out on the lake.  Warm air vs. cold water! The lake is fed by nearby mountain streams and rivers and the water is much colder than the air down in the Tennessee valley.  At the time of this writing, the Smoky Mountains have several inches of snow on them and we’ve had mountain rains for a couple of months now…

Sometime ago we’d picked up a jar of Patak’s Chicken Tikka Masala Curry simmering sauce.  When we ‘rediscovered’ it in our pantry, Laurie suggested that we should buy some boneless chicken thighs and give the sauce a try.  So we purchased a big package of thighs and picked up another jar of the curry sauce.

A couple of days later, Laurie cut chicken into chunks and she marinated the pieces in the sauce for several hours.  Then she put it into the oven at 275 for 2 1/2 hours or so.  This was the finished product as it came out of the oven.

Before our special entree, we had a wedge salad of our design.  Iceberg lettuce, with large cherry tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles and Italian balsamic salad dressing.  A very satisfying salad indeed.

This was what our entrees looked like.  We served the chicken Tikka Masala over balsamic rice.  I liked it a lot but it was a bit too spicy for Laurie.  I’m guessing that it won’t be a regular menu item at our house… I do have some leftovers…and I’m looking forward to enjoying them.  However, this is one dish that I’m not dropping an over-easy egg on for my breakfast!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, February 24, 2020

Diverted to the Mellow Mushroom

It was a Monday, we had winter time, (actually rain and clouds overload), and we decided to go out for dinner.  Laurie had found a Chinese dining option but I recoiled after reading reviews about bad service.  So, I had a Thai restaurant in mind…and off we went.

Wait a minute!  Mellow Mushroom doesn’t sound or look like a Thai restaurant… Well, given my lack clear thinking, I hadn’t bothered to check to see if my Thai choice was actually open on Mondays.  Nope!  

So, Mellow Mushroom is located in the same Farragut Tennessee shopping center as my original choice.  We just walked across the parking lot to our new dining venue. 

I told Laurie that we’d eaten in a Mellow Mushroom a number of years ago, but she just didn't remember it.  When I was telling her the experience that I remembered, she said that was Tomato Head in Maryville TN.  Of course, she was totally correct!  

This restaurant is basically a pizza based operation that conveniently has a full bar as well… The space is colorful and cheerful, but I’m not too sure about that kind of creepy mushroom-like ‘mascot’ at the right of the second photo.  It turns out that this franchised chain of restaurants includes an entire cast of ‘cartoon’ characters.  Check them out at

Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers was established in Atlanta Georgia in 1974.  The founders were college students from Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia.  The chain’s 200 or so locations are all locally owned and operated.  Mellow Mushroom’s locations are specific unto themselves…i.e. decorated differently although tie-die and colorful mushrooms are a common theme.

We started out by looking over the “Munchies” (appetizers) on the menu.  I thought that Laurie might go for the mushroom soup as that’s something she’d never gets at home. (I don’t do mushrooms!) Instead, we settled on the Pepperoni Garlic Cheese Bread. ($5.29)

This ‘Munchie’ selection was very good…hot and cheesy with enough pepperoni to add interest and flavor.  On top of that, it really is a meal in itself and the price is definitely right!  We ended up taking quite a bit of it home.  More on that later…

What to eat?  Big salads, stone baked pizzas, local special items, Calzones, sandwiches, burgers and hoagies…there was a lot to choose from.  Laurie opted for a half Italian Hoagie. ($7.79 with a bag of kettle chips) She thought that her sandwich was very good… Note the Moscow Mule in the photo. ($8.00) 

It should be noted that Mellow Mushroom offers diners the opportunity to build your own burger, calzone, pizza or salad.  That’s a nice touch for fussy diners like me…

The only problem we encountered was they were out of what I wanted to order… I was going to order a whole Meatball Hoagie. ($10.79) How does a restaurant run out of meatballs by late Monday afternoon?  Bummer!

In any case, I decided on option #2, a small “Mighty Meaty” Pizza. ($13.99) It included pepperoni, Italian sausage, ground beef, honey ham and Applewood-smoked bacon on top of red sauce and mozzarella cheese.  I paired it with a Miller Lite. ($3.00) 

If not the best pizza in Eastern Tennessee, it was a good second choice in this instance.  There was plenty of meat on it…but way too much crust around the edges.  I ate a bit of that crust (which I shouldn’t have) with some of the red sauce that came with our appetizer and it was tasty. (The sauce would have really worked well with those meatballs!) I ended up taking 1 of the 4 slices of pizza home for use on another day. 

Two days later…here is that hunk of leftover Pepperoni Garlic Cheese Bread from Mellow Mushroom.  I heated it up in the microwave…

…and then I dropped 2 over easy eggs on top.  Even with my usual Tabasco, the result was OK but not great.  I might have been better off if I’d heated the pizza in a frying pan rather than the microwave, but in reality I just don’t think that pizza bread and eggs are a good combination. (Probably not a surprise to most readers!)

The Mellow Mushroom that we visited is located at 635 North Campbell Station Road in Farragut Tennessee.  Phone: 865-777-6768.  The company’s website is at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, February 21, 2020

An Early Valentine’s Day Dinner

We aren’t big fans of crowds in general and the idea of having a special Valentine’s Day dinner in an overcrowded restaurant, with stressed out wait staff and a kitchen stretched to its limits, just doesn’t appeal to us.  As a consequence, we decided to go out for our special dinner the night before the big day…

This is the Bonefish Grill on Kingston Pike in Knoxville Tennessee…

Laurie’s favorite food is LOBSTER…the tails with warm drawn butter!  We had Blooming Brand gift cards that were given to us by Dawn Marie at Christmas and we also had a Lifestyle Pocket Saver dining discount card  that we’d been given by our friends, Linda and Norm.  The latter was good for Bonefish Grill, (a Blooming Brand), so it was just a matter of which location to choose for our special dinner.  We decided to visit this one because we’d never eaten here before. 

The first photo shows the bar area at the Kingston Pike Bonefish Grill.  The other 2 photos show the dining area as seen from our table.  It’s a comfortable room with enough space between tables.  

The ‘fishy’ theme is accentuated by the metal wall sculpture called ‘Tarpon Dance’ on the wall in the second photo.  We arrived at 5:30 pm and by the time we finished eating, the restaurant was almost totally full.  Apparently, others had the same idea we did when it came to eating out on Valentine’s Day!

Laurie ordered a special adult beverage, the “Grapefruit-tini”. ($9.90) I went ‘crazy’ myself, eschewing my usual Miller Lite and ordering a Blue Moon with an orange slice. ($4.40) Laurie really liked her special ‘martini’.

We debated our choice of an appetizer… It came down to the “Bang Bang Shrimp”, (crispy shrimp tossed in a creamy spicy sauce), vs. the “Thai Coconut Shrimp, (six jumbo shrimp with sweet Thai chile sauce).  As you can see, the Bang Bang Shrimp won the debate. ($10.90) We really enjoyed them too!

Our server, Aaron, brought us some bread with seasoned olive oil dipping sauce and I ordered a side Caesar Salad for one of my normal side dish choices. ($2.00 extra) Of course, we’d powered through most of the bread and I’d begun working on my salad when Laurie reminded me that I hadn’t taken a picture.  So…she staged this one for me!  FYI, this was a good salad!

For my entrée, I went with something a little different for me.  This was my “Kate’s North Atlantic Haddock”, a mild flavored fish, garlic crumb dusted, wood-grilled and then topped with Feta cheese, artichokes and lemon basil butter sauce. ($23.40)

For my second side, I ordered the Sautéed Spinach.  It had a bit of garlic mixed in…a win in my book.  As for the Haddock, it was very ‘buttery’ and mild to the point that the feta cheese, artichokes and seasoned butter sauce were actually a necessity.  While not my favorite, it was very nice…  

As I pointed out in the beginning, our whole purpose in coming to Bonefish Grill revolved around my Valentine being able to indulge in her favorite seafood offering…LOBSTER! ($31.90) 

The twin lobster tails were accompanied with warm butter and two sides.  Laurie chose the Potatoes au Gratin and the Bonefish coleslaw.  She loved her lobster and thought that the potatoes were good but she wasn’t crazy about the coleslaw with its vinegar base.  She likes hers creamy.  The slaw didn’t go to waste though as I like vinegar based coleslaw!

Our waiter Aaron was pleasant, helpful and efficient.  The food was very good and the ambiance matched it.  This Bonefish Grill restaurant is located at 6610 Kingston Pike (US 11/70) in Knoxville Tennessee.  They are open 7 days a week…and after viewing the Sunday Brunch menu, we’ll have to go back for that dining experience.  Phone: 865-558-5743.  The website is at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Leisure Time and Travel – Early 1900s

Once again, I’ve delved into my collection of early postcards.  On this occasion my focus is on Leisure Time and Travel in the early 1900s.  Of course back in those days, it’s hard to completely separate travel from commerce in general. 

My apologies for the disparity in print, spacing and background in parts of this post...but I'm not mentally disposed to go back and rework the entire post.

This postcard shows the old Union Depot in Kansas City Missouri.  It was built in 1878 but this postcard was mailed from Kansas City to Mrs. J.A. Johnson in Hot Springs Virginia in 1909.

The old Union depot was located in the bottomlands near the Missouri River close to the stockyards and meatpackers...primary shippers for the railroads.  From a passenger’s viewpoint, the location was less than ideal.  From some angles, passengers actually had to avoid trains on the tracks.  Most passengers from the city accessed the depot via a ‘thrilling and noisy cable car ride down a steep incline. 

Visitors to Kansas City left the safety and comfort of their rail cars and they were ‘greeted’ by about 4 blocks of saloons, gambling centers, billiard halls, tattoo parlors and brothels that surrounded the depot.  Smoke from the coal-fired trains coated near-by buildings with black soot.  Then there was the flooding!  In 1903 a major flood convinced the city leaders to build a new and larger depot that would avoid the water issues and better serve passengers.  However, the replacement depot wasn’t finished until 1914.  
This old depot was nicknamed the “Jackson County Insane Asylum” by those who thought it was too large and garish.  With its 125 foot clock tower and being a hybridization of Second Empire style and Gothic Revival, it certainly was an attention getter… FYI, it was only the second Union station (a station used by 2 or more rail lines) in the USA.

While the depot was initially thought to be too large, it was overwhelmed in 2 years and by the start of the 1900s, over 180 trains per day passed through the station!  The population of Kansas City Missouri had tripled from the time that this depot opened in 1878 through 1905 or so.  On 10/31/1914, the last train departed from the depot.  It was torn down in 1915.

This postcard from 1908 shows the city of St. Ignace Michigan on the shore of Lake Huron.  It’s located close to the tip of the State’s Upper Peninsula across the Straits of Mackinac.  For years this town has been a gateway to the Upper Peninsula as well as to Mackinac Island, a very popular tourist destination.  As of the November 1957, Michigan’s lower and upper- peninsula have been connected by the Mackinac Bridge.  However, in the early days all traffic went via water, with the vessels departing on the 5 mile journey from St. Ignace.  You can see the piers and a couple of ships in the picture.

In 1882, the Detroit, Mackinac and Marquette Railroad came to St. Ignace.  This rail ferry terminal was the where the connection was across the Mackinac Straits to Michigan's upper-peninsula.  Farmers and the lumber industry could now easily move their product to Detroit, a truly major market.  At the same time tourists ‘discovered’ the charms of Mackinaw Island and began exploring the wilds of Northern Michigan.

A railroad car ferry became the actual link across the straits for both commerce and travelers.  In addition to freight cars, passenger cars would just be loaded/rolled onto the “SS Chief Wawatam”.  The ferry was owned by the Duluth South Shore and Atlantic, the Pennsylvania and New York Central railroads.  The Chief Wawatam was the last hand fired, coal fueled commercial carrier on the Great Lakes.  She was in service from 1911 until 1984.  She was designed to operate year around.  This car ferry was designed to break ice flows with her bow propeller, which could both maneuver the ship and suck water out from underneath the ice to enable it to be broken by the force of gravity.

Roads in the early days were less than ideal or even passable.  Auto ferry services across the Straits of Mackinac didn’t begin until 1923, a year after this second St. Ignace postcard was mailed.  By 1952, the Michigan Department of Transportation was operating 5 ships on this route, with a total capacity of 500 vehicles per trip.  By 1952 the ‘new’ auto ferry route had carried 12 million vehicles and 30 million passengers.  I crossed the straits on one of these auto ferries in both directions in 1952.

Leisure time doesn’t necessarily mean extensive travel.  This postcard showing someone feeding a swan in Chicago’s Garfield Park was mailed in September of 1908.  This park includes 184 acres in the East Garfield Park neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side.  It was designed as a ‘pleasure ground’ by William LeBaron Jenney and its home to the Garfield Park Conservatory, one of the largest conservatories in the USA. 

The first portion of the park was originally named Central Park and it was opened to the public in August of 1874.  Jenney, who is now best known as the father of skyscrapers, based his design of the park on parks he’d seen and visited in Paris.  In 1881, the park was renamed in honor of slain President James A. Garfield.

Note that the park was designed to serve as a ‘pleasure ground’ for Chicagoans.  The idea was that it should be used for passive recreation such as strolling and picnicking.  The large lagoon was added as a means to drain the park site while creating desired and attractive water features.  It was used for boating in the summer and ice skating in the winter. 

Chicago has a number of large and distinctive parks.  This postcard, which was mailed in 1915, pictures Washington Park.  It was built in 1870 and it covers 372 acres in the Washington Park community on the South Side of Chicago.  Named for George Washington, it was conceived by Paul Cornell, a Chicago real estate magnate who founded the adjoining town of Hyde Park.  Cornell hired famed landscape designer Frederick Law Olmstead and his partner to lay out the park.

When Olmsted examined the property designated for the park, he saw a field filled with trees and decided to maintain its character by creating a meadow surrounded by trees.  In keeping with the bucolic picture on the front of this card, he called for sheep to graze on the meadow as a way to keep the grass short.  Through the trees you can just make out on of the lagoons that were included in the design.  As per the back of this postcard, the park “contains 7 miles of charming driveways, walks and bridle paths.

Another leisure time activity back in the early 1900s and continuing today are visits to museums.  The Art Institute of Chicago was founded in 1879 in Grant Park.  It is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the USA.  The building on this 1906 postcard was built in 1893 as part of the World’s Columbian Exposition.  While most of the buildings constructed for the Exposition were temporary, the Art Institute lobbied for a building that would serve as part of the fair, but would be used by the Institute after the Exposition ended.
This building, now greatly enlarged, was completed in time for the second year of the Exposition.  The entrance to the Art Institute is still guarded by 2 bronze lions who were created by Edward Kemey’s in 1894.  They each weigh more than 2 tons!
Chicago’s Art Institute is huge, now reputedly the second largest art museum in the USA.  Its annual number of visitors now totals around 2 million.  Wear good walking shoes and plan for a break or two because it will wear you out!  Laurie and I are fortunate in that we visited the Art Institute many times, sometimes with a private group.  The Institute’s Security Director sponsored a few visits and dinners for his peers in the Chicago area.
To learn more about Chicago’s Art Institute and perhaps to plan a visit, just go to  
P.S. I don’t know when someone invented that annoying sparkly glitter…but this postcard is still shedding it!

Yes…we’re still touring Chicago in the early 1900s.  What can I say, this is the postcard album that I picked for this post and it’s still all about leisure time!
This postcard that was mailed to Menomonee Falls Wisconsin in 1911 shows the “Baseball Grounds”.  A bit of research confirmed that this postcard shows West Side Park, the name of 2 different baseball parks that used to be in Chicago.  Both of them were home fields for the team we all know (and love) as the Chicago Cubs.  In this photo, the playing field is covered with fans… Given the date of the postcard, plus the visible stands and buildings, I believe that this is the second West Side Park.

The Cubs played on this field for almost a quarter-century but both West Side Parks hosted baseball championships.  This field was the home of the first 2 World Champion Cubs teams in 1907 and 1908.  In 1906, it was also the home of the only cross-town World Series in Major League Baseball history.

The original layout of the park could seat roughly 12,500 fans.  However, as was common at the time, fans were often permitted to stand along the outer perimeter of the playing field itself.  Early in the 1900s a small covered grandstand was added behind home plate.  Uncovered bleachers extended along both foul lines and into left field.  From 1906 through 1910, the Cubs won 4 National League pennants and 2 World Series championships…and then we waited another 108 years for another championship!

After the Cubs moved to Weeghman Park in 1916, (now Wrigley Field), West Side Park continued to host semipro and amateur baseball events for a number of years.  It even served as a setting for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.  This ballpark was torn down in 1920 and the property was sold to the University of Illinois.  It’s now occupied by the University of Illinois Medical Center.

Before the USA had automobiles and/or passable highways, the best way to travel the long distances between and around the Great Lakes was by ship.  From the mid-1800s until into the 1950s, a person could travel most of the lakes in comfort and even luxury.  A Chicago or Detroit businessman could board a ship in his hometown and take an overnight trip to spend the weekend in a cool northern cabin in northern Michigan or Wisconsin.  Then he could take another ship back to work after relaxing a bit…

The SS Theodore Roosevelt was one such passenger steamer.  This postcard, mailed in May of 1918, shows the ship passing through the State Street Bridge in Chicago.  The card, written by ‘Pearl and Fred’ stated that they arrived alright, that they were “going to a show tonight and a ball game tomorrow”.
This ship was built in Toledo Ohio in 1906 and, with one exception, operated on Lake Michigan for most of its useful life.  It was taken over by the U.S. Navy in April of 1918 for service as a troop transport in WWI.  As such, she transported troops back and forth across the English Channel between the United Kingdom and France.  She served in this role for about a year and then was sold to the Cleveland Steamship Company.

Based on the date of the postcard and her draft into government service, the card is somewhat older than the mailing date would imply.
In late 1919 or early 1920, the SS Theodore Roosevelt resumed her commercial career as a passenger ship, operating on Lake Erie this time.   In 1926, ownership changed again and she moved back to Lake Michigan.  The final portion of her career was based in Detroit Michigan.  She was sold for scrap in 1950.  

Its amazing to consider that prior to WWII, roughly fifty (50) cruise steamers sailed on the Great Lakes.  Most of these ships were large and luxurious, some having elegant staterooms with private baths…plus another 70 to 100 passenger cabins.

Now we’re off to Detroit, where, on May 1, 1905 at the annual meeting of the shareholders of the Detroit, Windsor and Belle Isle Ferry Company, it was recommended by the company president that a “new boat should be built”…”the new steamer to be a general purpose boat suitable for Bois Blanc, Belle Isle, excursions and to be a very powerful ice crusher and could be used on the Windsor ferry in case of very severe weather.”

This new ship was 164 feet long and 45 feet wide.  As a result of a public competition, which awarded $10 in gold and a season’s pass, the steamer was named “Britannia”.  This vessel entered service on July 4, 1906, with a trip to Bois Blanc Island, aka ‘Boblo’.  This card was mailed in August of 1909 to Mr. Carl Hanson in Fort Dodge Iowa from initials “S.W.”  He reported that he and his group were having a fine time and they were about to board the Britannia for ‘Boblo’.

Bois Blanc means ‘white woods’ in French.  The island was so named because of all its birch and beech trees.  Boblo is an English corruption of the French pronunciation of Bois Blanc.  In any case, the Britannia and several other vessels were in the business of transporting folks to the Boblo Island Amusement Park as well as another more staid park at Belle Isle on the US side.  The Boblo amusement park began operation in 1898 and remained in business until the fall of 1993.

Even though there was a bridge to Belle Isle, most people didn’t have an automobile in the early days so a boat ride up the Detroit River was a fine solution.  As roads improved and the bridge to Belle Isle was more accessible to the public and the size of the crowds headed to Boblo increased, larger boats were needed.  Britannia’s design as an all-purpose boat was a failure…too small for the Boblo crowd and too big for the dwindling ferry business to Belle Isle. 

Britannia was greatly altered and for a short time, 1924 to 1928, she was used for cross-river ferry service to Canada.  When she was replaced by a much larger vessel in 1928, she became a ‘spare boat’.  Then the Ambassador Bridge opened across the Detroit River in 1929, followed soon after by the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel in 1930.  So much for cross river ferry service…

Britannia was idle for several years.  Then she was converted to a tug.  Part of her superstructure, including the main cabin was taken ashore and used as part of a house in Wyandotte Michigan.  The severely modified vessel was used to tow log rafts on Lake Superior and then she was sold again in 1952.  Nothing is known about Britannia after that until she was scrapped at Duluth Minnesota in 1961.  A sad fate for a pleasure boat indeed…

Note: Boblo Island/Bois Blanc Island has an interesting history involving American Indians, Forts, an attempted revolution in Canada, the Underground Railroad and Viet Nam draft evaders… Check it out at

I thought that I’d end this post with a bucolic country scene.  This postcard depicting leisure time along Michigan’s Paw Paw River, was sent in July of 1906.  The sender in Waterville Michigan was “Rob” and Miss Inez Dobbins in Elgin Illinois was the recipient.  Rob assured her that he “was having a fine time”.  Keep in mind, back around the turn of the twentieth century, a postcard was the way to send a short text or ‘email’. 

The Paw Paw River is located in the southeast corner of Michigan’s Southern Peninsula close to the south end of Lake Michigan.  It only flows about 62 miles before it joins the St. Joseph River just before that River flows into Lake Michigan at Benton Harbor.  Native Americans named the river after the pawpaw fruit that grew abundantly along the river’s banks.

The Paw Paw River watershed is known as Michigan’s “Wine Country”.  The land near the river is ideal for vineyards and it’s also rich in biodiversity.  It includes wetlands, prairie fens, barrens and floodplain forests.  That was probably the charm or draw for visitors in the early 1900s.  Today, the Nature Conservancy is protecting the Paw Paw Prairie Fen.  Check it out at 

I’ll end with a little information on the pawpaw.  It’s an understory tree found in well-drained, deep, fertile bottom-land and hilly upland habitat.  Pawpaw fruits are the largest edible fruit that is indigenous to the United States.  The fruit is sweet and custard-like, similar to banana, mango and pineapple.  They are commonly eaten raw but are also used to make ice cream and baked desserts.  

Just click on any of the postcards to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave