Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Naomi Shihab Nye: Poet Without Boundaries

 
Nye at a book signing. Yahoo photo. 
Poetry soothes the soul. So I was glad that my cousin Kathy Curro, who led me to Mary Oliver when I lived in Ukraine, led me to another poet. Oliver remains one of my favorite poets, along with the likes of Irish poet Seamus Heaney, who died a few months ago and whose poems, transcendent and profound, I've been reading. Dig deep, and Heaney will be there.   

Now I am reading Naomi Shihab Nye, thanks to Kathy.  Nye is a Palestinian-American born in the US in 1952.  As a child, she spent some time with a grandmother in Palestine, her father's mother, an experience that infuses her writing. "She waits by the oven watching a strange car circle the streets. Maybe it holds her son, lost to America."  The lost son, Nye's father, tells his daughter who he is, that his name, "Shihab," means shooting star, "a good name, borrowed from the sky," she says in the poem "Blood." 

Nye has lived in San Antonio, Texas, for a long time and calls it home.  She's published dozens of books of poetry for adults and children, novels and songs.

Her sensibilities are international, transnational, tuned into identity and awareness of self and others. 
 
Poetry teaches with words strung together like pearls.  Nye's poetry is like that, necklaces of beauty that accessorize  our ordinary lives.

In Words Under the Words (1995), a compilation of her poems, she writes about her heritage, the American southwest, her travels all over the world. I like the poems about her father, and those in which she remembers her Palestinian grandmother, watching her bake bread, doing the tasks of daily living, praying to Allah.  "My grandmother's voice says nothing can surprise her." 

I also like her poems about hope and meaning, like the poem "Kindness," which Kathy pointed out. We've all experienced sorrow and kindness, and we know in our gut that kindness can keep us going when nothing else will do. Kindness has provided comfort since my brother's sudden death. Nye helps us understand. 

Nye's poems are evocative.  I feel the words at times, the emotions that flow around the words, "the words under the words."  
for Sitti Khadra, north of Jerusalem
My grandmother’s hands recognize grapes,   
the damp shine of a goat’s new skin.   
When I was sick they followed me,
I woke from the long fever to find them   
covering my head like cool prayers.
My grandmother’s days are made of bread,   
a round pat-pat and the slow baking.
She waits by the oven watching a strange car   
circle the streets. Maybe it holds her son,   
lost to America. More often, tourists,   
who kneel and weep at mysterious shrines.   
She knows how often mail arrives,
how rarely there is a letter.
When one comes, she announces it, a miracle,   
listening to it read again and again
in the dim evening light.
 
My grandmother’s voice says nothing can surprise her.
Take her the shotgun wound and the crippled baby.   
She knows the spaces we travel through,   
the messages we cannot send—our voices are short   
and would get lost on the journey.
Farewell to the husband’s coat,
the ones she has loved and nourished,
who fly from her like seeds into a deep sky.   
They will plant themselves. We will all die.
 
My grandmother’s eyes say Allah is everywhere, even in death.   
When she talks of the orchard and the new olive press,   
when she tells the stories of Joha and his foolish wisdoms,   
He is her first thought, what she really thinks of is His name.
“Answer, if you hear the words under the words—
otherwise it is just a world with a lot of rough edges,   
difficult to get through, and our pockets full of stones.” 
Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (Portland, Oregon: Far Corner Books, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Kindness
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
     purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
 






Saturday, October 26, 2013

Words of Wisdom



www.HippiePeaceFreak
 
I needed to see this facebook message from friend Jason today. After several sessions with a counselor about my life post-Peace Corps, it was suggested that I might think about changing my expectations and my goals. A light bulb went off. An "Aha" moment.

I know this. Good lord I've been knowing this for a long time.  I work on it everyday....well, almost everyday.  How easy to slip back into old ways of thinking, into habitual responses that don't work.  I know this, but I needed to hear it again, and yet again.  I hear John Lennon and the Beatles, "Let it Be." 

Play this song at my funeral, I say to the kids, laughing. I don't think they think it's a laughing matter, but I tell them I like the message. 

"Always go back to the Serenity Prayer," I say to myself. 
"God, give me the courage to accept the things I cannot change,
The strength to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference."
 
 

 
 


 

Nature's Show

Nature is putting on quite a show here in Sylvania, Ohio.  A light show.  The sunrises and sunsets in the last few weeks have been stunning, casting a golden glow on the world, even as the weather turns frigid and frost covers the marigolds. East and West are competing with each other to see which casts the most golden light on the landscape. I don't see as many sunrises as sunsets, but when I do I am grateful for the early mornings.  It's like a first-class seat at the theatre.

The sunsets perform as brilliantly.  I go out almost every night to watch the setting sun turn the eastern sky aglow, and sometimes  a moon rise accompanies it.  In the west, meanwhile, a red ball descends behind darkening trees, and  pink clouds sit on top of  changing foliage. A dance of light, with red and orange dancers swirling around the edges.

I stand between them, looking this way and that, in awe, one of those few times I wish for a companion to share the joy.   In time, a silvery shimmering landscape unfolds over the earth. The moon rises in all its glory.

It's light conversing. And it's enough.



Keep your eyes on the golden light.  Keep your eyes on the moon.  It's my brother Loren. Is he trying to tell me something?  Maybe something about the beauty of the environment, and keeping it that way? Maybe about the resilience and faithfulness of the planet as it turns, turns, turns?

Sure the days are shorter, the nights longer and colder; winter is on its way. Today the light is gray. Still, the loved ones who are gone, whom we miss, are sending out their light.  Is there anything more moving?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Annual Visit to Gust Brothers Pumpkin Farm

A family visit to Gust Farm.
We made our annual trek to Gust Brothers Farm a few days ago, just up the road from my place on Main Street, Sylvania, to get more pumpkins, Halloween decorations, fresh veggies, jams and flowers.  Michelle's boys, my grandsons, ages 16, 11 and 2, ran freely around the farm. Chase loved the farm animals and the bunnies. So did his older brothers. We all enjoyed the cider and donuts and cookies.  Chase had orange and green frosting all over his face before he was done. My sister Andy, visiting from Tallahassee, Florida, reveled in the colors that infused the countryside and the farm- land.  "So close to home, too," she said. "It's the one thing I miss about living down South." 

Chase took the hat off my head and put it on himself, with
Josh and Chase looking on!
I grew to love the four seasons again after spending two years in Ukraine with the Peace Corps.  Before that, for a decade, I had lived in St. Petersburg, Florida, and thrived on the balmy weather, the Gulf and the ocean, the palm trees and exotic flowers.  I didn't even own a winter coat then. I wondered how I'd survive the Ukrainian weather almost as much as the language barrier.

Spring, summer, fall and winter came in turn.  And it was great. It was like being in western New York State where I had grown up, then living in  Boston, Madison, Wisconsin, and Toledo, Ohio.  "I like living in a place that has four seasons," I told Andy. 

"Well, I hope you feel this way as winter rolls in," my sister laughed, "which it seems to be doing right now!"  She put up her hood for emphasis.  I could feel a North wind blowing over us as we searched the pumpkin patch under gray skies.   I think I'm ready for it.  Ready for the turning of the seasons, and the beauty each brings.

Our Gust Farm visit brought it together, enjoying a family outing as fall was turning into winter.   "To everything there is a season."
Gust Farm pumpkins.      

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sylvania's October Fest: Celebrating Community Spirit

Top left & bottom right: Bob Smith, president, and Sandie Gratop, board member of Sylvania Area Historical Society, sharing the Picker's game; bands and floats; my sister, daughter, and grandsons watching the parade.
Nothing like a grand parade on a sunny blue-sky fall day! It was the Sylvania Fall Festival and everyone came out for it.  Biggest parade I've seen since moving here a few years ago, biggest crowd, the most enthusiasm.  Grand Marshall Sharon Lange, founder and  publisher of the Sylvania Advantage newspaper, led the parade. The mayor, police and firefighters followed, along with colorful floats featuring Sylvania businesses, Main Street shops, cafes and eateries; high school bands, lovingly restored and maintained old and antique cars, and dozens of community organizations.  The kids loved the Shriners in their little red cars running circles around each other. "What a fun event," my sister, visiting from Tallahassee, Florida, said.  "And all I have to do is sit on your front porch on Main Street!"
After the parade we walked up and down the crowded street with my daughter Elissa and four grandsons.  They headed for the kids' games, crafts and food.  My sister and I made a special stop in front of the Sylvania Heritage Museum, where Bob Smith, president of the Sylvania Area Historical Society, sat in his vintage clothes at a table with old farm implements for folks to identify in the annual "Sylvania Pickers" game.  Gifts from Sautters, Paddy Jacks, and the Andersons awaited the winners who identified the most historic farm implements.  My sister and I, both city girls, didn't have a clue, but we marveled at those who said, "Oh, I know what this is!" To find out the lucky winners, go online to the home of the Historical Society: http://www.sylvaniahistory.org.
The smell of popcorn and hotdogs cooking on a grill, the sound of music, a spirit of community flowed freely around us as we navigated the crowds.  Political candidates came out to meet and greet. Tons of families visited the Sylvania Historical Village and took home free pumpkins. We celebrated the changing seasons, as if the brightness of the light proclaimed the shortening of the days and the coming of winter. "It's almost Christmas," my great-grandson Phiip exclaimed as we walked  home with our pumpkins.  "Yes, but first comes Halloween and Thanksgiving," I replied. "But Christmas is the best," Philip insisted. "I'm making my list!" 
"To everything there is a season," I tell him.  He looked at me and smiled.   
Sharon Lange of the Sylvania Advantage served as the Grand Marshall
this year, leading the festive parade.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Climate Change: Respect Mother Earth

from http://www.ohiocathconf.org
"Many of the events that made 2012 such an interesting year are part of the long-term trends we see in a changing and varying climate — carbon levels are climbing, sea levels are rising, Arctic sea ice is melting, and our planet as a whole is becoming a warmer place. This annual report is well-researched, well-respected, and well-used; it is a superb example of the timely, actionable climate information that people need from NOAA to help prepare for extremes in our ever-changing environment."  Kathryn D. Sullivan, PhD, acting director, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), on its National Climate Data Center's (NCDC)  new report, "2012 State of the Climate"  (August 2013).

  "Human activities are changing Earth’s climate. At the global level, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases have increased sharply since the Industrial Revolution. Fossil fuel burning dominates this increase. Human-caused increases in greenhouse gases are responsible for most of the observed global average surface warming of roughly 0.8°C (1.5°F) over the past 140 years. Because natural processes cannot quickly remove some of these gases (notably carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere, our past, present, and future emissions will influence the climate system for millennia." From American Geophysical Union's (AGU) "Human Induced Climate Change Requires Urgent Action" (August 2013).

These are dire reports, the first an extensively researched scientific study, the second, a call for action.  Will President Obama step up and use his "bully pulpit" to urge reform and the necessary behavioral changes required to stop the increase in carbon dioxide, warming of the planet, the melting of the polar ice caps, the rising of the seas and oceans?  Is some international body able to bring all nations to the table to save the planet from human destruction? Can the nations that have claims on the Arctic Circle, for example, a major but under-reported concern, come together?

"One giant tsunami over Florida, and that state is gone," my friend Dan, who lives in Tampa, said over coffee recently. I can see that happening, and sooner rather than later.  Whenever I fly into or out of Florida and look down from the sky, I wonder how the fragile peninsula, so overbuilt, can survive the next big hurricane, let alone a major tsunami like the ones that hit Thailand and Japan, or the recent cyclone that swept over India.    

I suppose until something like that happens, we the people and the governments of the people won't do much to hurry the prevention agenda. Kind of like Katrina over New Orleans, but even worse.  A nightmare scenario.  

Maybe it won't be wars that destroys our planet, although they do a lot of damage, but the behavior of human beings who wage war and do not respect Mother Earth enough to act now.  My brother Loren said that all the time. Respect our mother. Respect Mother Earth.  I hear his voice so clearly on this issue, his lifelong commitment to the environment, until his last breath on his last hike on the Aucilla River in northern Florida.  "Come together, right now, over me," a Beatles line for our planet, he would say.
                                                                         *  *  *  * 


Another blog on the environment.
North Pole with border countries, yahoo image. Portions of 8 countries
surround the Arctic circle, which is super rich in oil and gas resources.  
THE ARCTIC: The New North Pole--It's not just about Santa Claus Anymore
The Arctic, I am learning,  is a vast untapped resource, larger than the African continent, eyed hungrily by many nations.  A quick online search of what for me is a rather esoteric subject confirms this.  It's huge. Almost unfathomable.  Santa's North Pole is one of the most unexplored, undeveloped, resources-rich regions on planet Earth. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the Arctic has 90 billion barrels of oil and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.   It's all up for grabs.  (See Amy Crawford, Smithsonian magazine, April 2013).

Is the Arctic circle region--becoming more accessible as global warming melts the ice--an incredible opportunity for energy exploration and independence, or an environmental and geopolitical nightmare in the making?  I don't know.  But the home of Santa Claus and his toy factory has mind-boggling potential for becoming a battlefield of global proportions, not only over drilling for oil, but also over the Arctic’s true borders.  Who owns the land, the expanding ocean, the seafloor, the resources?

For doubters and naysayers about global warming, here is another fact: “We’ve never had a situation where an ocean has appeared overnight,” Crawford quotes professor  Rob Huebert, a political scientist at the University of Calgary who studies Arctic security issues.  "Arctic security issues"? Didn’t even know they existed.

Huebert continues:   “The ice kept everybody out, but now all of a sudden the ice is going to be gone.  So what happens?”

Will it be like the great 19th century exploration and exploitation battles between Russia and Britain over central Asia and India?  Will it be another version of a cold war, no pun intended, between Russia and the USA?

Russia is already claiming that much of the sea floor is an extension of Siberia’s continental shelf.  That would, the essay notes, “expand Russia’s borders to cover some five billion tons of oil and natural gas.”   

Then there’s China.  It isn’t on the border, not even geographically close, but it is the world’s largest energy consumer.  It’s not sitting idly by either, according to Crawford’s essay.  It sees the potential, and that’s why it’s investing billions in Canadian oil and gas projects.  Incredible news. Beijing has also expressed “a sudden desire” to join the once-obscure Arctic Council.  First time I’ve heard of it.   

There’s a fight brewing about the storied Northwest Passage as well, Crawford notes, a route along Arctic North America that became free of ice along the entire length for the first time in August 2007.   Good heavens.  Apparently this passage is much shorter than the usual sea route through the Panama Canal, and it could be a real boon to exporters like China.  Does the passageway belong to Canada, as it insists, or is it “an international waterway,” as the US and Europe contend? 

Will the Arctic's untapped natural resources become the world’s next huge battle in the ongoing war over oil and natural gas?

Not tomorrow, because engineers and scientists have yet to come up with the technology that can withstand the harshest polar environments. And the development expenses are enormous.  “Even as the ice melts, the Arctic will not give up its riches easily,” Crawford concludes.  

There seems to be little doubt, however, that the frigid and remote Arctic region will be hotly contested in the not-too-distant future. The fight's already begun.

It appears that the Obama administration is on it, through an Interior Department’s "high level working group" on Alaska oil and gas development and a U.S. Arctic Research Commission. There seems to be growing recognition for developing some kind of international plan for responsible development and, yes, protection.

What a daunting agenda. The future of the globe is at stake.  The Arctic is no longer just Santa's benign North Pole.  And we haven't even talked about Antarctica, whose polar ice is melting at an alarming rate, causing oceans to rise.

    

Monday, October 14, 2013

My Family Schemata, from Gen to Gen

Baby Chase on his computer, learning the alphabet.
Gen Tech, the Cyber generation, on the horizon! 
I read an article on the "risk-adverse" Gen Y at the doctor's office.  The author talks about Gen.X and Y, gen this and gen that, without defining them.  A reader gives this breakdown:
*2000-present   Gen Z, the New Silent Generation
*1980-2000      Gen Y, the Millennials 
*1965-1979      Gen X
*1946-1964      Baby Boomers
*1936-1945      War babies born before 1946 

I'm not sure this is accurate, and I've see different dates, but I can go with it.  It provides a kind of schemata for my family, and maybe yours, too.  I’m a war baby on the cusp of the Boomer generation. My kids are Gen X.  My grandkids are Gen Y, except for the youngest, Chase, two years old, who is Gen Z.  My great-grandson Philip, age 6, is Gen Z, too.    

World War II babies who grew up in the 1950s were walloped by the post-World War II generation of Boomers, outmatched, outnumbered, and outsized.  We grew up during the era of the "Feminine Mystique" only to confront the era of the Feminist movement, and also the  anti-Vietnam War and Civil Rights movements.

Do you remember those days?  I would say that most of us at the time didn’t know what hit us, but we forged bravely on, swept up in the historic movements for change, still wearing our crinolines and cinch belts and waving copies of Good Housekeeping. Well, some of us gave those up, when we went to graduate school and to work, and put Peace stickers and flowers on our VW Vans. But we were still war babies more than boomers deep down.  It’s no accident our divorce rates soared, sending shock waves into Gen X and also Gen Y.

So far as I can tell the Gen Xers, my daughters' generation, are progressive thinkers but not social activists. They take for granted the rights and privileges for which we fought. I suggested my kids watch the PBS documentary "Women Who Made History" because they don't know this story that made their lives better. But they are too busy. They’ve had it pretty good, although they worry about jobs and economic security.  They are a lot more open and tolerant about things like lifestyles and choices; don’t get worked up about politics too much; take life day-by-day. They are hard workers, and if there are some dreamers among them, they have their feet planted on the ground.  I think the idealism of the Boomers and the confusion of the War babies who mingled with them led the way for the realism of Gen Xers. 

I am not sure about my grandchildren’s generation, the Millennials, or Gen Y. Are they "risk-adverse?" Maybe so.  They seem to value security a great deal. They're pretty laid-back, even more open and tolerant to different lifestyles than their parents, very focused on the job market and how it affects their choices and work life. They are totally comfortable with computer technology and using the internet, do their homework online, research every topic under the sun, and then some.  They believe that the worst college majors are in the humanities.  They like history, literature, and languages, but see them as periphery to their lives--more like window dressing or jewelry--not intrinsic, as my generation did.  

Coming up next are my grandkds' children, and those born in the 21st century, Gen.Z.  I'm calling them the Tech Gen, or the Cyber Gen. They are growing up in the midst of technological and social changes that are still unraveling, already playing on computers, using a mouse, learning complex games that stump their grandmas. They have lots of curiosity, and like books, but they love computers. Their heads are in their parents' or siblings'  iphones, ipads and nooks. They play with smart phones. Philip, age 6, is already a whiz. Chase is enchanted by watching Baby Mozart on the computer, and learning how clicking a button leads to something he enjoys. How clicking this leads to that. He’s learning the alphabet this way. He's not even two years old.    

So this is the schemata of my family life, and maybe yours, from generation to generation. From War Babies to Gen X, Y, and Z, with Gen Tech, the Cyber Generation, on the horizon.  


Friday, October 11, 2013

California Dreamin'

Santa Rosa Sunset
Lynmar Estates Winery in Sebastopol with Suzanne: vineyards, glorious gardens, gourmet lunch.

The hills and fields of lush vineyards, golden wheat, and changing foliage with a dash of oranges and reds here and there gleamed and screamed California.  Going up and down the coast and inland from Oakland to Santa Rosa, through Berkeley and the northern San Francisco area, is stunning in October. The colors and light are as beautiful as anywhere in the world. Your soul soars with the eagles. 
At Casa de Rod  in Santa Rosa, with PCV friend and master chef Suzanne.
Jack London's Wolf House ruins, park, burial ground, walking paths.
 Yep, that's me, top middle photo, in front of a mural pointing toward the massive ruins
 in what PCV friends Ilse and Carl call my ubiquitous pose!

A statue of St. Francis welcomes us to St. Francis Winery,
 surrounded by mountains,
and full of animals there for a special blessing.
 
Suzanne's cooking was food for the body and the soul.  She shares the home of her friend Rod in Santa Rosa; the chef in residence he calls her.  Suz and I met in Ukraine, where she put her creativity to great use in a small town in western Ukraine while I put one foot in front of the other in far-eastern Ukraine.  The distance was vast, geographically and culturally, but it was fun to share our experiences, then and now. 

She is totally at home in Santa Rosa and the Sonoma Valley, a California girl born and bred. She's lived in the North and the South, near the ocean, in the mountains, in the valleys. Lucky for me! She shared the countryside she love, the winding mountain roads, the farms and vineyards of Sonoma county and such special places as Lynmar Estates Winery in Sebastopol for a gourmet lunch with their fine house wine; Wolf House in Glen Ellen, novelist Jack London's stone mansion ruins burnt down as it was being completed, and his burial ground on the Beauty Ranch Trail; the historic town of Sonoma itself, built elegantly around a square; St. Francis Winery, which held a blessing of the animals (over 100 of them, of every variety, mostly but not only dogs).
 

Doris and I around her place and UC-Berkeley
From Santa Rose we made our way down to Marin to meet friend Doris, from my old 
Toledo days, and share a delicious Thai lunch.  Then  Doris and I drove down to Berkeley, the storied  home of the University of California. It's a great college town, full of not only student housing, services and gathering places, but elegant old homes, nice walkways and gardens, lots of bookstores, shops and restaurants, some remnants of Hippie and anti-war days, and the grand white marble buildings of the University itself.  Lunch at a famous pizza place, Cheese Board Pizza Cooperative, topped off the grand tour of UC-Berkeley, all polished off with many long talks between two old friends whose bond neither time nor distance can sever. 

 The historic town of Sonoma, old and new, native American, Mexican (General Vallejos was a founder), and Anglos, a beautiful natural and built environment around a central plaza, a Mexican-like square. 

A small part of the grand UC-Berkeley campus, the classical library, a sculpture, statue of Mark Twain at entrance to the elegant Library reading room, and the famous Cheese Board Pizza Collective,
where we had lunch.



 
 


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

sylvania family stories (2)


Saturday, September 21, 2013


Sharing Sylvania Family Stories

Sharing Family Stories are SAHS board members and members Bob Smith,
 Mimi Malcolm, Polly Cooper, and Julia Pelton.
http://www.sylvaniahistory.org
 
It was "Sylvania Family Stories" night at the Sylvania Area Historical Society's September public program.  A small but appreciative audience learned about Sylvania's founding families and their descendants, some of whom came to the US from England, maybe Germany, maybe Holland, via America's East coast, New York City and State, and yes, Lucas County, Ohio, in its infancy. It wasn't that long ago that Sylvania was "out in the country," we were reminded.  The "suburbanization" of the area didn't really take off until the 1980s, a modern story that brings us up to the present. We went way back to the times Sylvania and area were still rural.   Here are some of the things we learned.

Did you know that the Lenardson family is related to just about all of Sylvania's early families, starting in 1832 with a large farm and a large family that grew larger every year?  One branch of the  pioneering John Timothy Lenardson family, through his son Frederick, had several sons and five daughters, and they married just about everyone who lived around here at the time. More and more land, more children, more grandchildren and great-grandchildren, on through many generations. Did you know there was once a little Red School House called Lenardson School, founded sometime in the 1870s?  The school held a reunion in 1926 (probably mostly Lenardsons and their offspring!) that was reported in a local newspaper, leaving future generations some documentation about an interesting chapter in Sylvania history.  Mimi Malcolm, a SAHS board member, told lots of great Lenardson family stories, and shared a story board, photos, and documents.  Mimi is a master genealogist, and a great teacher.

Have you ever heard the story of Thomas Chandler, the uncle of A.R. Chandler, founder of the hardware store on Main, now Chandler's restaurant?  Thomas Chandler sailed from Kent, England, to America in May 1854, arrived in New York City after a long and arduous voyage, went up to Albany to get settled, then came to Sylvania in 1859.  The Chandler family grew and prospered. I'm guessing they might have joined the Harrouns, Lathrops and others on the Underground Railroad, helping slaves from the South escape North to freedom. I'll check into this. Thomas was a soldier in the Civil War, we learned, which is another fascinating story.  Thomas became a naturalized citizen in 1901, a proud moment in a pioneering life. Polly Cooper shared the Chandler story that began in England.  Also, the Heritage Museum is now featuring an exhibit on the Civil War.

Did you know that the William Carl family, who came to Sylvania in the 1880s, had the blacksmith shop next to Chandler's hardware at the turn of the 20th century, and lived at 5378 South Main, which is still standing, near St. Joe's?  A daughter, Evelyn Pelton, worked at Jimmy's Restaurant at Monroe and Main in the 1950s, where Ace Hardware is now.  Another daughter, Alice, was engaged to a Reeb family member but died of TB in 1925.  Julia Pelton filled in details about her husband's family, and shared some rare historic photos of houses, buildings, businesses, and relatives from long ago.

And what about that large dairy farm that used to be on Sylvania-Metamora Road across from Pacesetter's?  It had its roots in 1836, when a William Sibley, once scalped by Shawnee Indians seeking whiskey (he survived to tell about it), moved to the Lucas County area and bought a large farm on Upton and Berdan. Frontier days. His descendants in time decided "to move out to the country," and bought a 100 acre farm, once a Lenardson farm, that became the well-known Smith and Sons Dairy.   Imagine moving a 270-acres farm, with speedwagons, haywagons, steers and cows, and all sorts of farm equipment, up Monroe Street to Sylvania-Metamora Road. "What a sight that must have been," Pam Rohrbacher exclaimed!  Bob Smith, chairman of the SAHS board of directors, regaled us with stories about his Ohio pioneer ancestors, including his great-grandparents, grandparents and parents, who kept the dairy farm going until 1959.  Polly, the SAHS's archivist along with Liz Stover, remembered that the archives had many of Bob's family photos, and ran and got them out for us to see.

public image, wdwallpaper, yahoo
Bob ended with a story for Halloween. Close the curtains.  Dim the lights.  Light a small candle, to cast shadows around the room.  Here, my friends, is a story about Chauncey Clark.  Clark lived in a large house on the corner of Centennial and Sylvania-Metamora, the very spot where the Rite Aide is today, near the Smith and Sons Dairy Farm.  Chauncey, an avid hunter, took out his rifle one day, sometime in the 1930s it was, put on his hunting hat and boots, walked out the door, as he did most every day. . . .and disappeared.  Went out to hunt, and never came back. The old family dog Dusty might have known where Chauncey Clark was but no one took the dog seriously. Where was Chauncey? It remained a mystery. In fact, it took several months to unearth Chauncey's rifle, parts of it exposed by weather and sparkling in the sun, and to discover his body. Perhaps, Bob speculated, he died of a heart attack.  Who knows?  But Chauncey's ghost, it is said, still haunts Pacesetter Park and the old farms that were once around it. The ghost even shows up on dark nights at the Rite Aide, I'm told, no doubt looking for its home. 
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MARK YOUR CALENDAR:  Want to learn more about your family history? Mimi Malcolm, SAHS board member, will lead a Genealogy workshop at the Heritage Museum on November 16.  Check out www.sylvaniahistory.org to sign up and for more information.