Monday, April 24, 2017

The Tropicana Train - Music Monday #AtoZChallenge

It's been a while since I've blogged about my love of trains.

I grew up in New York City, and rode the New York subways many times.  Later in life, I was able to take a passenger train occasionally, such as the Autotrain, which runs nonstop between Lorton, Virginia and Sanford, Florida (near Orlando), a distance of approximately 900 miles (about 1450 km).

Auto Train poster in Sanford, Florida, 2013
To ride the Auto Train, you must have a vehicle with you.  The vehicles ride in special transit cars while you ride in comfort for (hopefully) the 16 hour trip.

On my trips on the Auto Train, there is one beautiful small town that I fell in love with from the first time I passed through on the train - Ashland, Virginia. 

The train tracks run down the center of town and you get a wonderful view of Railroad Avenue as you pass through the border of a college, a commercial district, and then residential homes.

But I had never seen the town, except from the train.  So, recently, I traveled to Ashland, VA to change that.
A downtown mural, Ashland, Virginia
Ashland calls itself "The Center of the Universe". I don't know about that, but it is an interesting small college town and what is called a "train town".  Yes, the trains run down the middle of the street several times a day.  Some stop.  Some don't. 
Some of the homes you will see if you ride the train through Ashland.

The train station, which doubles as the Ashland visitor center.

A train went through minutes after we arrived at the station.  Part of what the train was hauling was empty Tropicana orange juice train cars.  They fill up in Florida, and return, in what is called the "Tropicana Train".

Another view of the train.

I took this short video of the train coming.

You might say it was a Long Train Runnin'.(Thank you, Doobie Brothers.)

"T" on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge as I "travel through time and space".

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Spring is Speeding By

Spring has come to upstate New York.  And now, it seems to be speeding by.

It seems like only yesterday that crocuses were in bloom.  They are long gone.


Pink marked the start of tree blooming season in Binghamton.
A weeping tree by the Broome County Courthouse.
Then things started to get serious.  The cherry blossoms were cut down by a hard freeze last year.  Not so this year.
White blooms.
And now blooming, early rhododendrons.

As far as bulbs, the tulips are out.

You'll see no yellow flowers here.  There's a reason for that. Keep coming back this week, and you'll see why.

Tomorrow, back to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Simon (& Garfunkel) Songs #AtoZChallenge

Growing up in the 1960's and the Vietnam War era, one of my favorite singing groups was the duo Simon and Garfunkel.

Their lyrics fed into all of my teenaged angst. 

I would spend hours in my room, listening to their albums on my record player, and submerge my feelings of being unloved, not understood and having the most embarrassing father ever.  Oh yes, the Vietnam War was going on, and we were all going to blow ourselves up soon.

Today, I want to share some of my favorite Simon and Garfunkel songs - all beginning with the letter S.
 Scarborough Fair/Canticle is a dual song with anti-war lyrics (Canticle) that start out in the background, and then grow louder and louder.   The Scarborough Fair portion of the song is not original to the duo; it dates from the Middle Ages, although (I have read that the "Parsley/Sage lyrics did not appear until the 19th century) several versions of the original ballad exist.

This was not one of their hit songs, and may not be familiar to you, but this version of Silent Night (with a simulated news broadcast getting louder and louder in the background) seems so perfect for today's climate.

And finally, another one that may not be familiar with you, but I loved how it sounded - "So Long Frank Lloyd Wright".  What I did not know until doing research for this post is that Art Garfunkel majored in art history. but only after changing his major from architecture. His first wife was an architect.   Also, one of his cousins founded 'N Sync and one of my son's favorites as a preteen, the Backstreet Boys.


"S" day on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge - my theme, Traveling Through Time and Space.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Ravishing Ravenel #AtoZChallenge #SkywatchFriday

I love this bridge with all my heart.  It is the topic of today's Blogging from A to Z Challenge and Skywatch Friday.

I travel back, in time and space, to walk it in my dreams.
The Ravenel Bridge (aka the Cooper River Bridge) connects Charleston, South Carolina and Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.  I have walked its full length once and have walked it partially a number of times.

I even blogged about it at least once before for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, but why not blog about it again?

Five years ago, before I lost weight, the bridge conquered my knee.  After losing almost 35 pounds, I succeeded.  It's now been two years since I last visited Charleston, and I would love to test myself against the bridge again.  Alas, if I do visit Charleston this year, it will be in August, and the heat may prevent my attempt.

But one day...I'll be back.  That's a promise.

Connect with other bloggers at Skywatch Friday and see skies from all over the world.

"R" day on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, as I travel through time and space.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Queens (My First Home) #AtoZChallenge

I was born in Queens, a borough of New York City.  I moved to the Bronx when I was five months old, and have only been back to Queens a handful of times. 

From where I grew up in the Bronx, in a family without a car (common back then), it was a long ride on the subway.

Some of our visits were during the New York World's Fair in 1964, which I will blog about in my "W" post.
March 2014
I had one memory of my babyhood - the name of the housing project I lived in and the street it was on (from something my parents told me growing up).  So I decided I would do a search, traveling through time and space, for my first home.

Let's take a little virtual trip.

First, here are some pictures of my native borough (not where I lived).

There is a large Asian population in Queens.
Where the New York Times is printed.
Jacob Riis Park - one day I will visit it.  There is plenty of water recreation in New York City - New York City is so much more than skyscrapers and museums.  I am not sure, but this may not be that far away (as a bird would fly) from where I was born in the Rockaways.

And now, we arrive at our destination.  I am seeing this, with you, for the first time.
I was able to find pictures of the housing project where I lived the first five months of my life in the Library of Congress online.  There were no known restrictions on the rights, so I am taking a chance in posting it.  This picture was taken about five months before I was born.  Who knows, perhaps my pregnant mother was in one of those buildings at the time.

I was able to find, on You Tube, videos of what the housing development has become.  It is not a happy thing.  I can be grateful I escaped more than 60 years ago.

Again, some journeys do not end well, but all it did was confirm something I had suspected.

Once again, traveling through time and space for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Potsy and Playgrounds #AtoZChallenge

Memories of my childhood sometimes seem so fresh.  I can just turn inward, and my childhood growing up in the 50's and 60's in the Bronx (a borough of New York City) comes to life for me.

In those days, our parents (normally, a stay at home mother) encouraged us to stay outside whenever we were home from school.

There was no such thing as a helicopter parent.  It may have been a little easier for me, growing up in a city housing project which had a couple of small playgrounds in its design.  There was a larger playground across the street, Magenta Street to be exact.  It is called the Gun Hill Playground, and still exists today.

I never knew the origins of how Magenta Street was named, until I read this online:

"The naming of the color celebrated the victory of a battle in which an Italo-Franco alliance defeated the Austrians and helped to bring about a unified Italy. Prior to 1900, this Bronx neighborhood was inhabited by a small colony of French weavers as well as by a growing number of Italian immigrants. The street was named Magenta to signify the Italo-Franco unity that once characterized this portion of the Bronx."

When I looked at pictures of the Gun Hill Playground online, I was amazed to find a painted Potsy board.  We would have scorned something that official, preferring to draw a large board in chalk.

Potsy, in many parts of the United States, is called Hopscotch.  In New York City, it is called Potsy,and these are the rules.

Basically, the board had a double row of boxes, numbered from 1 to 10 (10 was a semi circle at the head of the rectangle.  The first player would take the "potsy" (a rock, or a penny, or something similar), throw it into the box numbered "1". You hopped into box 2, then 3, then 4, all on the same leg. When you reached 10, you reversed direction and hopped back.  If you touched any line or lost your balance, you were "out".  If you made it to the last box, you leaned over, still on one foot, picked up the potsy.  Now, you got to get back on two feet, as you threw the potsy into box "2"and repeated the process.

I'm surprised that I have balance problems as a young senior, as I played enough of this game on the sidewalks and playground of the Bronx.

Hopscotch is, or was, a universal game.  Do they still play it where you live?

"P" day on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Ocean (Parkway) #AToZChallenge

Brooklyn was its own city when Ocean Parkway was born.

It was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux after a Parisian boulevard. It was the United States' first greenway and contained it's first bicycle path - back in the 1800's.

I've known Ocean Parkway for all of my life.  My father's younger sister lived in an apartment building on Ocean Parkway and raised two children, my cousins, there.  I have so many fond memories of Ocean Parkway.  I'd love to show this approximately five mile gem to you.

If you think New York City is only a city of skyscrapers, you have a treat coming.
How about this?

Flowering trees.  This photo was taken in May of 2013.
Parts of Ocean Parkway go through heavily Jewish neighborhoods.  Here, tents of flower sellers are set up in front of a synagogue for the holiday of Shavuot.
Trees flowering in front of an apartment building.

And, there are still traces of a historic Ocean Parkway.  At the intersection with Avenue P, there is a mile marker, the last one left.

I have so many memories of walking with my cousins on Ocean Parkway. Later, when visiting family, I wheeled my baby son along the parkway in a stroller, with one of my cousins.

Traveling through time and space, for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.