Saturday, July 31, 2010

The blog takes a break

The blog will now commence a week's summer break. Half of the blog will be in sunny Spain (Salamanca) at the International Congress of Neuroethology, while the other half will remain in Winston to water Susan's Japanese maple and try to get over a nasty summer cold.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Quintessential Toronto...

...and also a quintessential Jon photograph. The blog is happy to report that although Jon acquired a new camera prior to the Toronto trip, he hasn't changed his style.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Authentic walking surfaces can be tricky

At one time the Gooderham and Worts Distillery in Toronto was the largest distillery in the world. Today there are still about 30 extant Victorian buildings, the significance of which is explained by an excellent web site.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

South African Memorial, Toronto (obelisk visible from the blog's hotel window)

"Almost 9,000 enthusiastic Canadian volunteers traveled to South Africa between 1899 and 1902 to fight for the Crown against the Boers."

It was the first time so many Canadian soldiers had served overseas. It is a grand monument to a largely forgotten war. The thoughtful article by Kevin Plummer about this obelisk-based monument on the Torontoist web site offers the comment that "celebratory imperialism" is "completely out of place" in modern Canada. The blog agrees, as it can't even begin to envision an Afghan War Memorial in the middle of a major boulevard in modern Toronto. Unfortunately, Washington DC is probably destined to end up with one.

Iconic Toronto photo

This is what Toronto looks like. For the most part, it is very shiny.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Old and new

West Virginia coal mines and Buffalo windmills, both photographed by Susan from the car window on the blog's recent trip to Toronto. So far, everyone the blog has told about the windmills has said "I'll bet they were on the Canadian side." But they weren't.

Monday, July 26, 2010

George Washington visits Pittsburgh, scores more obelisks

Here's what the blog learned about Christopher Gist, who turned out to be from the blog's neighborhood in North Carolina:

CHRISTOPHER GIST, an American frontiersman, was the first white man to settle in what is now Wilkes County along the Yadkin River , Daniel Boone being his neighbor. Gist provided England and its colonists with the first detailed description of southern Ohio and northeastern Kentucky . While Daniel Boone is generally given credit for opening Kentucky to white settlement, Gist preceded him by more than fifteen years. Nathaniel, one of three of Gist’s sons, married a Cherokee ‘princess’, in which their son, Sequoyah, invented the Cherokee alphabet.

Gist was also present with Washington at the Battle of Fort Necessity, said to be Washington's only military surrender.

Jon takes a picture in Pittsburgh near the site of the original Heinz factory

The lower photograph shows what Jon was looking at.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Beautiful bridge

The Roberto Clemente Bridge connects downtown Pittsburgh with beautiful PNC Ballpark. This self-anchored suspension bridge across the Allegheny River was opened in 1928. It was renamed on August 6, 1998. Clemente had a hall of fame career with the Pirates, but was also renowned for his philanthropic work. He died in a plane crash in 1972, on the way to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Speaking of Cooperstown, any fan who has recently attended a baseball game will find it amazing that Clemente was the first Latin American player to be elected (in 1973 - the only player for whom the 5 year waiting period after retirement has ever been waived).

Where is the blog?

The blog took a road trip - to Pittsburgh, Toronto, Cleveland, Asheville, and then finally back to Winston. The ostensible purpose was to take Susan to the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology meeting in Toronto. But even as it crossed international boundaries, the blog was always observing and photographing, and it hopes its faithful readers enjoy the break, too.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Beautify your garage door...

...because garage doors without faux hinges are so 2009. From Wednesday evening's walk in Lewisville, but we are seeing innovative garage door hardware on almost all new construction this year.

Monday, July 12, 2010

We brake for obelisks

We saw this obelisk on Broad St on the way to the ballpark on Monday night. The mysterious inscription on the metal plate reads PAT June 22, 1909. The Winston-Salem Dash beat the Lynchburg Hillcats 7 - 3. (Hillcats seem to be fictional animals based on bobcats.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Abe and Diana indulge in a tourist activity along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Boone Fork Trail, Julian Price Memorial Park

What is more reassuring than seeing a trail marker? (Abe, Diana, and Susan hiked the Boone Fork Trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway and saw these sights on Saturday, July 10.) Rated "strenuous," but it wasn't.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Winston-Salem wagon works

On October 23, 1890, Samuel Jacob Nissen, son of successful Waughtown wagon maker John Phillip Nissen, purchased a large lot on the corner of East Third St and Depot St (now called Patterson Avenue) and erected the building originally called the S. J. Nissen Carriage Repository and Repair Shop. The goal was to build and repair wagons for the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Wagon building was an extremely important industry in the development of Winston-Salem, and S. J. Nissen built wagons at this factory from 1895 through 1929. At this time it finally became clear that trucks were replacing horses forever, and Nissen closed his factory and sold the building. As can be seen in Jon's photo from July 3rd, 2010, the 1895 building is exceptionally intact and exceptionally well-preserved. This reflects good stewardship by the post-1929 owners, in particular the Kester Machinery Company (1941 to 1970). The Romanesque medieval fortress architectural features are all original. The blog could go on and on about this interesting building, but interested readers would do better to consult the 2006 National Register of Historic Places registration form for this building, which you can obtain by copying the following and inserting it into your browser (sorry, I can't figure out how to make it work directly):

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


The blog learned first hand that trains still run on the old Norfolk and Western tracks right through downtown Winston-Salem. Norfolk and Western Railway was the last major railroad in the U.S. to change from steam to diesel. This didn't happen until 1960! Norfolk and Western merged with Southern ("Serves the South") in 1982 to form Norfolk Southern Corporation. You can see the emblem of the Norfolk Southern Railway ("The Thoroughbred") on the front of the locomotive. An 1895 map of the Southern Railroad shows a line to Winston-Salem.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Two yellow things the blog saw on its walk downtown on July 3rd

The glass brick wall is part of the Reynolds Tobacco industrial complex. The Goler-Depot neighborhood was once the center of African-American life in downtown Winston, but even other bloggers find the Depot Trail mysterious.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The blog answers a question

A walk on a fine evening last summer took the blog down Winston-Salem's "Millionaire's Row." The Washington Park neighborhood has many fine examples of mansions dating from the early 20th century, including this lovely two-story Georgian brick house on Cascade Avenue. Unlike many of the other mansions in this area, "WinMor" is clearly a lived in home in fabulous condition. But who or what is "WinMor"? The blog spent much of the winter looking for this name in corporate histories of North Carolina, and even entertained the notion that the house had been won in a horse race or a poker game. But the mystery has been solved, with help from the Winston-Salem Monthly magazine. The current owner purchased the house in 1985 and undertook the necessary restorations with care and a sense of history. He then renamed what had previously been known as the Gilmer House in honor of his two sons, Winfield and Morgan. Who were the Gilmers? In the 1920s this family owned the largest department store in Winston-Salem. It was located at Liberty just north of 4th St.

So many missed opportunities...

The blog genuinely did not know it was possible to recycle the corks from wine bottles. It promises to do better in the future.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Clark S. Brown and Sons

The Clark S. Brown and Sons Funeral home is still in business at East 7th Street and Patterson Avenue at the edge of downtown Winston-Salem. The funeral home was established in 1928 by an African-American fraternal order, the Prince Hall Masons. A breakthrough of sorts occurred in 2008 when the Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons of North Carolina (white Masons, founded 1787) and the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina and Its Jurisdictions (African-American Masons, founded 1870) finally formally recognized each other's existence.

Call it a tipping point, turning point, transformation...

The blog spent Saturday afternoon in a very quiet part of downtown Winston-Salem, basically walking the boundaries of the vast site of the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, slated for conversion to the Piedmont Triad Research Park. (The Piedmont Triad Research Park serves as the vehicle for the hegemonic lust of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.) There's nothing not to like about the switch from cancer-causing to cancer-curing, but if the Park succeeds the city will be utterly, utterly transformed. It's not a moment too soon to start thinking about preservation of the cultural landscape...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The end of golf?

Check out the pathtracks record of Thursday night's walk to see how quickly golf courses can undergo death and reincarnation (follow the link and click on the satellite setting). Hillcrest Golf Club is now Hillcrest Center.

A glimpse of New Jersey in Forsyth County...

Jon was excited to find that the Covington Place development made him feel as if he was in a New Jersey McMansion community! Susan did not like the use of highway guard rail as a decorative element. From a walk on Wednesday evening.

What a great idea!

The blog wonders: How long has this sign been up?