Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Play's the Thing: Young Philip Gives it a Try

The Children's Theatre Workshop in Toledo, at the Collingwood Art Center,
 does a great job of introducing kids to theatre.  Great-grandson Philip
had his turn in a play last night.
  
Remember those plays your kids were in when they were little?  A school play, a neighborhood production, a camp outing? The  kids were rehearsed, costumed, and set to go.  Then, on the big night, they forgot their lines, hemmed and hawed, looked down at their shoes, looked up at the audience, and smiled. We smiled back. We crossed our fingers. We mouthed their lines. Someone off-stage did the same, or another young actor on stage whispered in your child's ear, and a few minutes later maybe they got it, and the show went on.  I loved the bows and the kids' response to the bravos and applause; they were so proud.

Same scenario unfolds with our grandkids. By this time it's the 5th act and we're able to kick back and enjoy the moment, missed lines and all.  Let their parents do the fretting. Same smiles, same joy.

On Friday night, it was Philip's turn.  My six-year-old great-grandson spent a week with the Children's Theatre Workshop at the Collingwood Art Center in Toledo. It's a wonderful program, dating back to 1954,  and the young teachers do a great  job. It was Philip's first experience in drama and the art of acting.  His Gran E said it wasn't his favorite thing to do, but he made new friends, learned about team work, and stuck it out.  She had helped him rehearse his lines and made sure he was dressed in a plain white t-shirt and ready to go.

The lights dimmed, and the show began.  Kids paraded on and off the stage in various constellations of confusion. The play was about a giant grasshopper is all I know, because my daughter told me.  Philip's mom, my oldest granddaughter, was relaxed and into the experience of watching her son on stage.  His Gran E mouthed the words, but it didn't matter. Philip's cousins Kyle and Josh looked at each other and suppressed their laughter, very kind.  They high-fived Philip as he ran to us after the play. I hugged him and told him how great he was. So did his Gran E and his mom.  High fives and hugs all around.  Precious family moments.

For more information about the Children's Theatre Workshop: http://www.childrenstheaterworkshop.org/


Friday, June 28, 2013

Paula Deen: A Modern Morality Play

Not sure about story behind this image,
"Driving Miss Deen", but it's interesting
under the circumstances. From
 photobucket uploader Firefox extension
on Yahoo images..
"Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone."  (John 8:7)

I don't understand the viciousness of the relentless attacks on Paula Deen, a celebrity chef of Southern cooking. 

Yes, she used racial slurs in the past, reprehensible slurs, which no one condones. She grew up in the South and imbibed it's racism along with its soul food.  Didn't we all? Up North as well?  Haven't we all made mistakes we regret? Said things without thinking? Wish that we knew then what we know now? And, don't we all have the capacity to grow and change? 

So why is everyone using Paula Deen's past mistakes to attack and abandon her like a hot potato?  Walmart, Target, Home Depot, various food magazines, a drug company, the Food channel,   everyone and anyone who was part of her once cheerful and accessible foodie network.  She apologized.  The agony is written all over her face. It doesn't matter.  It seems nothing, including the adulation of her fans of all backgrounds, black and white, can stop the momentum of this downward slide.  

Is it some kind of personal vendetta against her? An angry employee? An overzealous competitor? Are her sponsors using her mistakes as an excuse to cut their economic ties, and save money? 

I don't condone Deen's attitudes but I wonder about the overkill. In this modern morality play about sin and atonement an Everyman is being stoned without mercy. She'll have to start over, like Martha Stewart.  Like many others we know. Like Bill Clinton.  It can be done.  "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." 

http://news.yahoo.com/target-cuts-ties-deen-drugmaker-155520343.html

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Celebrating SIsters



Andy and I at Ciao's for her birthday,
June 25, 2013.
When you're in your 70s, celebrating sisters take center stage.  That's what happened on a recent visit from my sister Andy from Tallahassee for a week-long celebration of her birthday!  She saw just about everyone up here in Sylvania.  We walked around the neighborhood; browsed and shopped; had a drink at Elements 112 and lunch at Chandler's Cafe; played tennis at Northview high school until it got too hot; went to a Toledo Mud Hens game with my grandsons Josh and Kyle; had family dinners; enjoyed sunsets, moon rises, and my gardens; and topped it all off with a grand birthday dinner at Ciao's restaurant. The salmon and red trout were delicious, and we sampled the portobellow musrooms ravioli, too. Ciao's chef is wonderful and we enjoyed a great meal.  Of course, we had to have the best tiramasu in town.  Incredibly smooth, creamy, and tasty. We toasted to sisters and family and many more birthdays to come. 

We also took a trip to Columbus to visit my mom's first cousin Bill Form, age 96, and his wife Joan, both retired OSU professors. They are the last of the World War II generation, the folks who remember the Depression, FDR, Pearl Harbor, the war abroad and the war at home.  "The Greatest Generation,"  Tom Brokow called them.  I think they were.   Bill, who studied under famed sociologist C. Wright Mills, many years ago, pioneered in the field of indudstrial sociology, the sociology of work and workers.  Joan  pioneered in the field of women and sociology.  They both continue to do research and write, Joan on the origin of gender differences and Bill about our Italian immigrant family. Bill's traced his and my mom's family to the Waldensians, Italian protestants,in northern .  Italy.  It's a fasinating story and Bill tells it beautifully. I always wondered why my family was protestant when every other Italian immigrant famiuly we knew was Caatholic.  Ity helped that my grandgfather Curro, my dad's da, was from a Frnch hugonaut family at some point. So Bill continues to tie together bits and pieces of our family history.  He is leaving a great legacy to our family.  

So we reminisced, my sister and I.  Good old-fashioned gatherings of the clan up North.  Sisters celebrating. Celebrating sisters. 

Next up: a trip down to Tallahassee for a gathering of the Southern clan. We can root for the sminoles or the g ators or the bulldogs, listen to nieces with Southern accents, and relive the glory days of growing up the children and grandchildren of the Greatest Generation.  In the meantime, memories sustain us! 
Andy with kids and grandkids and great-grandson Philip


Visit to Columbus to see Bill Form, age 96, our mom's
first cousin, the last of that generation, and his wife Joan;
and walks around the 'hood. . 


At a Toledo Mud Hens game..
With Mud Hens Mascot!







Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Andy's Garden Varieties

In San Miguel, December 2012.
I told my sister Andy, who is one of my biggest blog fans, that she should start a blog of her own.  She can call it “Andy's Garden Varieties,” because gardening is such an important part of her life, as it was our mother’s, and it is mine.

Andy, living in Tallahassee, Florida, all her adult life, has always started her garden ahead of the rest of us who live up North.

I remember her writing to me in February or March  to tell me she had planted lettuce and peas and some flowers.  We were in the midst of a blizzard.  It made me jealous to think of her digging in the soil and basking in the sun.  “Springtime comes to America through Tallahassee,” she’d say, telling me about the red buds, azaleas and dogwoods gracing Florida's capital. Meanwhile, up here in winterland, the crocuses weren’t even pushing up through the cold hard ground.
Poster by Michael King at Barewalls.com

Since Andy can be, and is, in her garden most of the year,  "Garden Varieties” fits. Besides, it has so many meanings, from the ordinary to the extraordinary, the prosaic to the poetic.

You could write about a commonplace or ordinary moment, a politician’s garden-variety speech on a social issue, or a garden-variety but wonderful moment with a grandchild, like applauding a horribly out-of-tune elementary school band where kids aren’t even on the same page, or a  church or school play where the kids either remember or forget their lines and make us laugh.

You could talk about the variety of plants, fruits, vegetables and flowers in a garden, in your garden, in anyone's garden. How many varieties of roses are there? Of tomatoes or raspberries? Of lilies and fern?  How is our food grown, processed, shipped and cooked?  

How many varieties of human beings, places and ideas?  
You could riff about the paintings of Monet or Van Gogh or other artists you like. The vividly exotic flowers of  Gauguin, or the quiet domestic garden scenes of Mary Cassatt.  You could weave poetry and music in and out of your essays, add more diversity and wild exuberance to them. 

You could talk about "the seeds of change," from those planted by the indigenous peoples of America to those planted by Europeans in a new world, to those we have inherited from our parents and grandparents.  Loren used to say “I plant seeds” when he was talking about his environmental or political activism.   

You could talk about roots and foundations of gardens, of democracy, of reform, of everyday life, of ideas and movements.

Garden Varieties.  A great title for my sister’s blog-to-be.  Now if  only I can get her out of her garden to read this polemic, partly tongue-in-cheek, partly tribute to Andy’s creativity, partly a big sister’s goading, partly a big sister’s wishes for a little sister on  her birthday!     




Monday, June 17, 2013

On Paul Tillich

Fr. Jim Bacik lectures on Paul Tillich.

“Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned.” Paul Tillich

I just heard Fr. Jim Bacik lecture on Paul Tillich (1886-1965), the Christian (Lutheran) existentialist theologian and scholar who was born in Germany and came to the US in 1933 to flee the Nazis. Tillich said that he had lived "on the border" ever since that time: between countries, religions, cultures, identities. Paul Tillich had a distinguished teaching career at Union Theological Seminary in New York, Harvard, and the University of Chicago. His influence was great, and his life and work live on.

Fr. Bacik spoke brilliantly about Tillich’s beliefs, the intersections he saw between religion and culture, the significance of symbols, the nature of concern and faith. No photos, powerpoint, or gimmicks. Just an informative handout and straight talk, straight up.  Stark. Engaging.  Fr. Bacik perfectly understands Tillich, and he drew the audience into that understanding with an insightful discussion of Tillich's beliefs and the culture of “The Millennials."

This is the generation that grew up in the 1990s and early 21st century—a generation that is "hooked-up,” tech savvy, and range in types from extreme individualists to ecumenicals to evangelicals.   My own grandchildren are among them, which peaked my curiosity about "millenials" even more. 

Tillich believed that “You always have to ask the right questions.” So Farther Bacik formulated those questions in the context of the millennials' culture, showed us how Tillich thought, the questions he would ask, how he would respond, what he would have to say. He took us into the depths of Tillich’s thinking, embodied in such popular works as The Courage to Be and Dynamics of Faith and his 3-volume scholarly study Systemic Theology.  Bacik brought the latest scholarship to bear, including recent talks by Harvard humanist Robert Bella (Habits of the Heart, among others), who I had heard give a moving lecture many years ago.   

I find Tillich's theology, and these kinds of works in general, hard to read, however, and harder to understand. Father Bacik made them understandable and interesting, and showed us the relevance of Tillich’s views to modern culture. I thought Tillich as presented by Bacik sometimes sounded more like a psychologist than a theologian, asking why, why, why to get to “the ultimate depth” of any question. But Tillich clearly focused on a “God-normed culture,” Fr.Bacik emphasized, as opposed to a “going along” culture that he believed deadens the human spirit. Father Bacik made clear Tillich's contribution to theological thought in the universe of faith and worship.   

As interesting to me as the subject was the lecturer, Fr. Jim Bacik, a brilliant Jesuit, intellectual, down-to-earth, contemporary, funny.  I followed my curiosity after his lecture, going to his website, reading articles in the Toledo Blade and Bacik's own articles and reflections.  Fr. Bacik is a highly regarded pastor, teacher and lecturer throughout the Toledo area, the nation and, indeed, around the world.  He was a popular and active campus minister and teacher of the humanities at the University of Toledo for more than 30 years, retiring last year. He continues to lecture and write. “One of America’s most insightful theologians,” he’s been called. Fr. Bacik’s legacy as pastor of the Corpus Christi University Parish, which he helped establish, plus his teaching and compassionate leadership, are legendary, I learned.

I enjoyed reading Fr. Bacik's recent reflections on the new Pope, because this pope caught my attention early on, the fact that he was from South America and that he named himself Francis.  Bacik agreed that was a great start, choosing the right name for the times, symbolic of the simplicity. compassion and openness of St. Francis.  Pope Francis, moreover, has shown concern for the poor and vulnerable, lives simply himself, and has expressed interest in reforming and opening up the Vatican to the people. In these ways, Fr. Bacik believes, the new pope "signals hope for keeping alive the spirit of Vatican II and Pope John XXIII."  That is saying a lot! I remember John XXIII and recall a visit to his church in Istanbul, which echoed with his compassion and enduring relevance.

As I left the lecture hall and walked slowly under the loggia of the Franciscan Center, rain pouring down, I saw the lovely tile commemorating Pope John XXIII.  I can see why I was drawn to it after hearing Fr. Bacik's lecture on Tillich.  I've always found Pope John XXIII a symbol of hope, the kind of symbol, Tillich might say, that opens the door to "ultimate concerns and ultimate faith."  And amazingly, just at that very moment, a penultimate symbol emerged in the form of a beautiful rainbow across the sky.  How heavenly the magnificence of our journey through life and our search for the universal and transcendent Holy Spirit.   What hope lies over the rainbow. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

From Arab Spring to Middle East Winter: The Death of Hope

So is this is what we are getting into? Assad's totalitarian killer regime in Syria, supported by Shi’ite Muslims, Iran, and Hezbollah (headquartered in Lebanon, on Israel’s border) VS “the Rebels,” mostly Sunni Muslims, al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups, Chechnyan Islamic Militants (really), and other foreign jihadists.

What a mess. A seething cauldron of hate, ethnic tensions, extreme religious intolerance, mass murder, terrorists, and basically the whole sorry history of Israel vs. the Arab World and the Middle East from the post-World War II era, through the tumultuous 1960s-80s, through Saddam, Osama bin Laden and 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the painful present. Never-ending violence.  

This is such a total logistical nightmare, resources trap, and potential cosmic explosion it boggles the mind. 

What can US involvement in the three-year Syrian civil war accomplish?  Help Israel subdue the ongoing threat of Hezbollah? Force Iran to back off, take off, or compromise? Arm militant Muslims and jihadists against Assad, who will then put down their weapons and embrace the West?    

Rebels in Syria.  Demanding we send
heavy weapons? Yahoo image. 
Are those the GOALS of our intervention? Spell it out, please. Tell us the truth. The polls are already out: we the American people are against this path.

We saw what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Nothing.  Nothing but  destruction, death, duplicity, and ongoing violence. 

We know or strongly suspect that intervention in Syria will escalate, one step leading to another, one "line in the sand" crossed after another. First the use of chemicals, then what? The threat of Iran's nuclear weapons?  Hezbollah's firing missles on Israel?  

We know that such intervention in the Syrian civil war will suck up billions of dollars, thousands of lives, every resource known to modern warfare, our enormous espionage capabilities (yes, we know about NSA and high-tech spying), and every part of the human spirit.    

We fear being in Syria will be like a monster tsunami roaring across the Middle East, whipping up more debris, more hatred, destroying everything in its path, washing viciously across the historic conflicted landscape.  And it will solve nothing.  It might bring a global world war.  

Why are we getting involved in the Syrian civil war? Where will it lead?


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cyber Thriller

Reuters image on Yahoo.
“I don’t understand why so few people seem to care or fear these invasions of privacy.”

My friend Ilse is talking about the current government spying scandal let lose by NSA (National Security Agency) consultant and whistleblower Edward Snowden.  The government has been monitoring our phone and internet data with the help of Google, Facebook, Verizon and other communications giants, he claims. Big Government and Big Business are in cahoots to spy on Americans.

I guess it’s just not surprising.  I must say I’ve been pretty nonchalant about it.  Maybe my expectations are low.  Nor am I surprised that NSA could be so invasive --  not because I keep track of security issues, but from watching that movie I’ve been referencing a lot lately, “Enemy of the State,” with Will Smith and Gene Hackman.   

yahoo image, movies.com
Smith’s character, a DC lawyer, inadvertently but decisively becomes the target of an NSA official who uses the full force of the government’s surveilliance power to get him.  It’s a thriller with a message: the US government has the capability and the willingness to strip our identity and spy on us, no matter where or when or how or why, and there is no stopping it. Unless that is you are a super genius cyber guru like Gene Hackman.
Not only that, but NSA can act on it’s own, without oversight, and let it rip, from spying to murder and mayhem. 

If this was the 1950s and the throes of the Cold War we might all be heading for bomb shelters.  Now we tweet and post messages about it on facebook and other social media. “What a shame,” we say, knowing there’s not much we can do, and hoping maybe the government can do better. We know darn well that Google and facebook et al know all about us, down to our daily purchases and every click we make on the computer.  

Why aren’t we angry and scared and screaming about this espionage exposure scandal? Could it be because we expect it? Is it because “the Millennials,” which is my grandkids’ generation, don’t see it as a problem?  Do they blithely trade privacy for the goodies of their smart phones?  Heck they are growing up totally wired and cyber savvy.  Even my youngest grandson Chase, approaching two-years-old, loves playing on his brother Josh’s iphone and yes, games on the computer.  He points and clicks with ease, and a big grin on his face. Don’t know what comes after the millennials, but Chase is right there. Also my 6-year-old great-grandson Philip. The Cyber Generation I’d call them.

Meanwhile the government is pursuing Ed Snowden, now in Hong Kong.  Like it did the Will Smith character in Enemy of the State. Why? What did he do wrong?  Snowden says he’s in Hong Kong not to hide from justice but to expose criminality.  “I’m neither traitor nor hero. I’m an American.”  He spilled to the British Guardian and the Washington Post.  Did he make this stuff up?   

Sounds plausible to me, but then I don’t know if we’re in a thriller movie or in real life and real time.

The president is reviewing the matter. The FBI and CIA are in on it. The director of NSA, Keith Alexander, will be questioned by Congressional committees I read.  He is, by the way, also head of something I had never heard of before, “US Cyber Command.”  Holy cow.  A US Cyber Commander?  What is this person's responsibilities?  I wouldn’t want to mess with this guy, anymore than Will Smith and Gene Hackman wanted to deal with NSA bad guy Jon Voight.          

Is it a cliché to ask if the government can come up with tighter controls on domestic surveillance? A balance between privacy rights and national security?  Who's watching NSA? Who are the bad guys? Who are the good guys?




Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Fellow Humanists"

yahoo image, from Magruder HS in MD. 
“Fellow humanists.”  How rare that appellation. That’s how Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic magazine, began his commencement address at Brandeis University at the end of May 2013.  Brandeis, in Waltham, Mass, long a bastion of liberal arts education, continues to educate its students for a full life of the mind. The college is named after a great humanist jurist, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. It remains true to its source.   

I probably would not have seen Wieseltier’s talk if my humanist friend David from New York City, who now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, hadn’t posted it on facebook.

I'm an historian and consider myself a humanist of sorts, but I never thought of myself as a “culture warrior.”  According to Wieseltier, if we believe in the power of the humanities to make life better, deeper and richer, then ipso facto, that’s what we are.

“Has there ever been a moment in American life when the humanities were cherished less...and needed more?” Wieseltier asked.

He bemoaned the loss of humanistic study and understanding; decried the age of technology, dogmatism, and science in its narrow sense;  derided the lure of pragmatism over intellectual thought and exploration. “There is no task more urgent in American intellectual life at this hour than to offer some resistance to the twin imperialisms of science and technology....”

Adding to the crisis is “the machines to which we have become enslaved.”  As astonishing as they are, they “represent the greatest assault on human attention ever devised...engines of mental and spiritual dispersal...”

Humanists, he said to the graduates, “are the resistance...which is to say, you are the counterculture.  Perhaps culture is now the counterculture.”     

Culture as the counterculture. What does this mean? Do the humanities—history, philosophy, literature, anthropology—belong to the 'dustbin of history'? Are they frivolous luxuries, not vital to our daily lives, let alone to the work most Americans do or the jobs of the future? Can we fight the behemoths of the digital age, who think we can obliterate the differences between humans and machines? Are the humanities dead?

"Are you serious, Nana? Major in history or philosophy or literature?"  "It's an option, if you think of areas like international business,"  I suggest.
"Well then, I'll major in international business  But the humanities? No way. No jobs, no money, no security, no future."
"That sums it up," I reply. "Maybe a minor?"
"Maybe a  minor in German language," but I'll see, says granddaughter Alli, who just graduated from High School and is thinking about what to take to college in a few months. She's majoring in pre-med.
"Nana, we love you, but you may be the last humanities person we know on the planet!"

Hmm, I wonder if they're right. Are we "fellow humanists" fighting a losing battle? Or should we keep fighting, become part of the new counterculture, as Wieseltier urged? If we can't beat 'em, should we join 'em, somehow or other?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Congress in the sewer, democracy in hot water


Political extremes can either go to war with each other, or they can try to work together to compromise and hash out working solutions, that is if the personalities and chemistry are right, and there’s shared respect and shared goals, probably the biggest thing.
yahoo images

This does not seem to exist in our current Congress, and voters are fed up.  The House’s recent approval of legislation that would strip protection from young undocumented immigrants, whom president Obama has tried to shield with a two-year deferral, embodies the worst kind of partisanship. The bill was added to a Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, a nasty move by Rep. Steve King (R, Iowa) and other Republicans  who act on personal animosity toward the president rather than the common good (David Grant in Christian Science Monitor, Yahoo, June 6, 2013).    

No wonder Congress’ approval rating is in the sewer according to recent polls.  Our national legislative body seems unable to step up to the shared goal of doing what’s best for the country as a whole.     

No respect, no civility, no ability to act beyond self-interested partisanship. Almost 67% of legislators get failing grades for their performance, or lack of it (Huffpost, 5 June 2013).  Squabbles over student loans, payroll tax extensions, immigration reform, a Farm Bill reauthorization that will cut food stamps while giving price supports to super wealthy agribusinesses--the list goes on and on. People are disgusted with the antics of legislators such as Reps. Darrell Issa (R, CA), Steve King (R, IA), Bob Goodlatte (R, Va), and Ohio's own John Boehner, the House majority leader who regularly fails to demonstrate the wisdom and temperance of leadership.   Oh for legislators who rose to the capabilities and compassion of Abe Lincoln as portrayed in Spielberg's film..  

Does Congress symbolize the state of mind of our country today, troubled, angry, and mean-spirited?  Or does it create its own reality through the antics of individual legislators tossed into a seething cauldron of partisanship without a sense of the common good? 

What would Alexis deToqueville think about our democracy today?  Would the French observer of the birth of our democratic institutions find the Congress as shameful and discouraging as the majority of Americans?  

Should we add to the current sad state of our governance the NSA’s intrusive wiretapping?  Has the vision of “Big Brother” in the movie Enemy of the State, with Will Smith and Gene Hackman, become a reality show? Did Obama know the extent of it? Is he able to address and fix it, or risk losing the confidence of voters?  

“We the people.” The common good. Honesty and transparency. Justice and wise leadership. Are our elected officials able to rise up and restore the principles that are the foundations of our democracy? Are "We the People?” 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Toledo's Old West End


Our old house on Robinwood (center), now painted yellow, green and white;
other houses, neighbors, my grandsons, and landscapes.
The Old West End (OWE) in Toledo, Ohio, is an historic neighborhood of beautiful Victorian and early 20th- century homes in a variety of  architectural styles. Beautiful trees, yards, gardens, parks and landscapes surround the grand homes and mansions, designed by the great architects of the day and once inhabited by Toledo's wealthy elite.  The people who live there now form a community of souls that care about the place. My kids grew up there, as did many of their friends, close to this day.  The OWE creates bonds of friendship that last forever.

This year the Festival celebrated its 42nd year of showing off the historic urban neighborhood that is anchored by the renowned Toledo Museum of Art.  The house tours are a fabulous way to get a close-up look at the architectural details of the homes, lovingly preserved and maintained. In fact the Festival began as a way to ensure that the neighborhood was, indeed, preserved, especially after some historic houses were torn down in the 1960s.  The neighborhood had slipped for a while;  many houses stood neglected and forlorn. But urban pioneers moved in to save the homes and restore the neighborhood to its original glory.  They then created the OWE Festival to open their homes to public view.   “The OWE is a great place to live,” they proclaimed!

The architecture ranges from Victorian and Shingle style, with lots of exterior “gingerbread” designs; to large Craftsman homes with Art Deco features;  English Tudor, Spanish Mission style, and Italian Renaissance mansions;  Flemish Gothic and Romanesque styles.  High ceilings; mahogany, cherry, and fabulous woodwork; stained glass, leaded glass, Tiffany windows;  fabulous fireplaces; tall solid wood doors, wrap-around porches, hand-carved decorative features inside and out; and craftsmanship that hardly exists nowadays. .

“They don’t build houses like this anymore,” my friend Teddy says as we walk up Robinwood Avenue and past our old family homes.  We lived diagonally across the street from each other. We both live elsewhere now, but the Old West End is always a special place to us, and to anyone who has ever lived there. “I loved my house,” Teddy and I say almost simultaneously. 

The OWE festival also includes a parade, art fair, neighborhood lawn and garage sales, and food, poetry and music in Agnes Jackson Park. 

That park also brings back wonderful memories.  An old hospital once occupied the large lot. The park was created in the early 1980s by University of Toledo math professor Robert Jackson in honor of his wife Agnes, a Vassar graduate, who gave so much to our neighborhood, the community, the city as a whole.  The Jacksons' spirit still floats around the old haunts as we stroll down memory lane.