Month: February 2010

Rugby, Tennessee – Where My Preservation Career Began

Today’s PreservationNation blog has a story and video about Historic Rugby, a 2009 National Preservation Honor Award winner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  The blog post brought back great memories. Rugby was established in the 1880s by the successful Victorian-era author Thomas Hughes as a Utopian community for the second sons of English gentry.  Due to the system of primogeniture, these men would inherit little or no property and had very limited career opportunities.  Hughes established this colony in the beautiful but hard-scrabble Cumberland Plateau area of Tennessee.  After some initial success, the colony fell on hard times, ultimately failed and was largely forgotten.  In the mid-1960s, residents of the area began to restore the remaining historic buildings and over the course of five decades have saved this wonderful place and turned it into a thriving community and a favorite spot for tourists. That’s the official story.  The reason it is important to me is because it is where I undertook my first hands-on preservation work, leading to a career that’s now in …

Mr. Hatch, Old Dogs and The Beatles

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch is a favorite Valentine’s Day book in our family.  To quote from the dust jacket, In a little town on a wintery day, a postman delivers a mysterious package tied up with a big pink bow to a lonely man named Mr. Hatch.  “Somebody loves you” the note says. “Somebody loves me,” Mr. Hatch whispers as he dusts his living room.  “Somebody loves me,” Mr. Hatch whistles as he does errands in town.  “Who,” Mr. Hatch wonders, “could somebody be?” This is a wonderful children’s book that sees Mr. Hatch come alive after learning that someone loves  him, and then deflated when the postman returns weeks later to say he had delivered the package to the wrong address.  That’s not how the story ends, as you might expect.  The town discovers the reason Mr. Hatch has returned to his solitary ways and they let him know that plenty of people really do love Mr. Hatch.  We read the book aloud last evening during a family Valentine’s dinner and our kids …

The America Bowl: Presidents vs. the Super Bowls

The America Bowl pulls together all of my favorite ways of wasting time. So says Don Steinberg, creator of the online America Bowl showdown between the U.S. Presidents and the Super Bowls.   I read about Steinberg’s web site in a recent issue of The New Yorker and had to check it out. This all began as Steinberg was thinking about Barack Obama, the nation’s 44th president, and he wondered about the connections with other famous 44s – like Hank Aaron who wore the number for the Atlanta Braves. Steinberg soon realized there was a football echo, too – that the 2010 Super Bowl…would be the forty-fourth, or, rather, the XLIVth.  This alignment, like the Rapture, will happen only once. So a web site – complete with logo featuring a pony-tailed George Washington going head-to-head with a football helmet – was born over Thanksgiving.  The idea is to pit each President against his corresponding Super Bowl.  Presidents are judged on their accomplishments; Super Bowls on their competitiveness. If you remember anything about the founding fathers and …

Why I Feel Lucky…With a Snowstorm on the Way

As we await our second snowpocalypse in two months here in the Washington area, I was fortunate enough to read Dr. Tom Bibey’s Stories of the Bluegrass Music Road blog this morning.  It reminded me of how your outlook affects so much in life. My favorite story from Dr. B’s blog this morning: I began to write in 2000.  I’ve had the same game plan since 2002; write a bluegrass based book, have it out in 2010, then travel a little with my wife for a couple years before we get too old to go.  Our goal is to meet the best people, play a lot of music, learn a bunch of new songs, and sell enough books to make the trip break even.  A buddy of mine said he toured with a bluegrass band and made it to California and back.  He had a great time and met all kinda folks.  After it was over he had ten more dollars than he started with.  He is my hero. So I’m approaching the snowpocalypse with the idea that I’ll …