Friday, June 22, 2007

My Town

One of the really cool features of the Romance Bandits is that we represent numerous countries, much less several US states. We have different backgrounds, different occupations, but a common passion - writing romance.

I thought it might be nice to share a little bit of trivia about my home state, but I'm really curious about yours - so here's the deal: tell me some trivia about your home town, state, country - whatever you wish to share - and I'll pick a winner and send you a bandit mask.

I live in Ohio which is considered part of the Midwest- which might be surprising. I mean, geographically speaking, it would be more accurate to call Ohio part of the Mideast... (I can almost hear the tourism department screaming). However, in all other ways we more closely resemble the Midwest.

Most of the state lies on top of a plateau, so we're flat - lots of sky. It's a great place to learn how to drive a stick shift. Agriculture plays a large part in the economy. One sure sign of spring is the timing of the commercials for corn crop fertilizers and weed killers. Back in the day, it was said that Ohio had so many trees, a squirrel could travel from one end of the state to the other and never touch land, but the many farms and metropolitian cities changed that. We're still pretty green, though.

Trivia fact - 50% of the entire US population is within a 500 mile radius of Columbus, Ohio which is smack dab in the middle of the state.

Ohio has a rich history in culinary arts. We gave America its first hot dog in 1900, and chewing gum in 1869. Wendy's Hamburgers started in Ohio as did Bob Evans, White Castle, and Damon's Ribs. Okay, so our culinary history is more "fast" than "rich," but you get the idea - we like to eat.

The world's largest basket is in Ohio - I've seen it. We also have an office building that is designed to look like a huge basket. Seriously. It tends to freak you out when you see it off the highway. The same company is behind both of these structures.

Steven Spielberg was born in Ohio, though I'm not sure he stayed long. Clark Gable is from Ohio, as is Paul Newman (I met his wife, Joanne Woodword, backstage of a play once. Paul wasn't there though). Annie Oakley is also from Ohio - which surprised me.

Seven US presidents were born in Ohio - but they were all boring - except for Ulysses S. Grant who had the good sense to get his mug on a fifty dollar bill.

The "pop-top can" was invented in Ohio - a product I use daily.

Cleveland was the world's first city to be lighted electrically in 1879 (did I mention that Thomas Edison is from Ohio?) Cleveland also boasts of America's first traffic light. They don't boast, however, about the Cuyahoga River that caught fire and inspired Randy Newman's song - "Burn on, big river, burn on."

So know you know a little trivia about my home town. Tell me about yours. A bandit mask hangs in the balance.


Christine Wells said...

That was so interesting, Donna! I love learning more about the United States. It's such a diverse and fascinating country.

I'm from Brisbane, Australia, which many of you won't even have heard of. It's on the east coast, well north of Sydney and Melbourne. The climate is subtropical so summers are humid and hot and winters tend to be mild. An hour's drive north or south of Brisbane there are some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. We don't boast a big basket, but we do have a big pineapple, which is a great place to stop and have elaborate sundaes topped with locally grown macadamia nuts. Hm, I'm waxing lyrical, so I'll stop now and save it for another post!

Anna Sugden said...

Fascinating, Donna. Especially as my brother-in-law has just been posted with the RAF to Dayton!

As you know, I'm from the UK. Before moving to NJ, we lived in a small, beautiful market town in the north of England called Beverley. It's about an hour from York and Leeds and about 20 minutes north of Hull.

It still has cobbled streets, a market every Saturday, though the livestock market has now closed. It has two fantastic 11th century churches, Beverely Minster and St Mary's - the latter has an amazing ceiling with all the kings and queens of England on it. And it has Lewis Carroll's white rabbit and Cheshire Cat. It's said to have inspired him and as he had family in Hull - it could be true. Oh and at one point, enough pubs for every weekend of the year!

And Christine - I've heard of Brisbane! (BTW one of my ambitions is still to go to the opal fields at Cooper Pedy and Lightning Ridge).

DMacMeans said...

Christine -

I can almost taste those sundaes. Now that's a bit of trivia I can relate to.

Anna - I'm about 90 minutes from Wright-Patterson in Dayton. I took my son to their museum a couple of years ago. Dayton was the birthplace of the Wright brothers and the city publicizes its aeronautical roots everywhere.


Anna Sugden said...

Ah - I might be cornering you in the bar, Donna, to get advice for my sister and her family!

Aunty Cindy said...

I LOVED Brisbane! It was sooo much nicer than Sydney, more "small town" and relaxed. And I LOVED that multi-story mall with the fantastic water sculpture (the DH loved that too). I can't wait to come back and visit, esp. now that I know YOU are there!


Karen H in NC said...

I was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. While I no longer live there, I have children and other family members who do. I make the 800 mile trip there twice a year to visit family & friends and to check to see how the city has changed. Here is a brief history of Flint:

Flint is the birthplace of General Motors Corporation and until recently was the home to the world headquarters of Buick Motor Division. Flint, commonly referred to as ‘The Vehicle City’ been also been nicknamed Buick City, Flint Town, Bedrock and The 810 (meaning the area code).

Flint is located in Genesee County along the Flint River about 60 miles northwest of Detroit. Flint is located on the southern edge of the Saginaw Valley and is quite hilly but still has plenty of farm land. Flint sees a definite change of the four seasons; some being colder and longer than others, but still beautiful just the same.

• On average, the warmest month is July with an average high of 82°F and an average low of 59°F.
• The highest recorded temperature was 108°F in 1936. That was on 7-10-36, the day my oldest brother was born. Try giving birth during a Heatwave in a hospital before A/C.
• On average, the coolest month is January with an average high of 29°F and an average low of 13°F.
• The lowest recorded temperature was -28°F in 1916.
• The maximum average precipitation occurs in September with an average 3.76 inches of rainfall and an average snowfall of about 48 inches per season.

On June 8th, a violent tornado ripped through northeast section of Flint and township areas. 116 people were killed immediately or fatally injured; more than 900 others were injured. At least 300 homes in the heart of the tornado's path were destroyed and another 250 received damage. Property damage was estimated at $10 million. The National Guard Armory became a temporary morgue. “Operation Tornado” enlisted an estimated 7,800 people - skilled and unskilled - to work at rebuilding the homes in August. This community effort earned Flint the “All-American City Award” from the National Municipal League and Look Magazine. On the next day the same weather system spawned the worst tornado in New England in Worcester, Massachusetts killing another 94 people.

Flint's population in 1998 was 131,000 people and it is the fourth largest city in Michigan. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 124,943. Prior to the gas shortages in the '70s, Flint's population was nearly 300,000 making it the 2nd largest city in Michigan. In the aftermath of the gas crisis, people began to demand lighter and more economical cars. That put a major pinch on the auto industry, not only in Flint, but throughout Michigan. A lot of Flint automotive jobs were lost as a result. Because so many jobs were moved to other states, the common joke at the time was 'Will the last person leaving Michigan, please turn out the lights?' Not funny, but true. Flint was the most publicized example of the effects of the 1970s collapse of the US auto industry on surrounding communities. This was highlighted in the film “Roger and Me” by Michael Moore, a Flint native.

The city was founded in 1819 by Jacob Smith, a fur trader, and was incorporated in 1855. Flint has been host to various industries in its history: Trading/Trapping, Lumber, Carriages and Automobiles.

The city's landscape and culture is dominated by the auto industry. Some of the more notable events in Flint's history are:

*The Sit-Down Strike ended with a resolution on February 11, 1937, recognizing the United Auto Workers (UAW) as the chief bargaining agent for its member workers in General Motors plants. This was a landmark in the annals of U.S. labor history.

*Flint was a major contributor of tanks and other war material during World War II due to its heavy manufacturing facilities. AC Spark Plug, now known as Delphi East, still makes guidance system parts for the space program and other aeronautical industries.

* On June 30, 1953, Chevrolet Assembly Plant produced the first fiber glass body automobile, the Corvette. Only the first 300 models were built in Flint and all became collectors' items within a decade. The first Corvettes were made by hand.

*On November 22, 1953 to celebrate the production of the 50-millionth General Motors car, the city staged a huge parade in downtown Flint. An estimated 100,000 watched the parade. Bands from the University of Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Wayne State University and the University of Detroit participated. Phil Silvers and Pat Boone were float celebrities.

*Flint hosts a large cultural center funded by the revenue from the auto industry in the 1950s. It boasts: Whiting Auditorium, Sloan Museum, Bower Theater, Flint Institute of Music, and Longway Planetarium all set on a 30-acre site near downtown.

*Flint is also host to the University of Michigan's Flint campus; Kettering University (formerly known as General Motors Institute) is among the top ten engineering universities in the nation; and Mott Community College.

*The Mott Foundation, a major philanthropic organization in the city, is a major founder for the Community Education program. Community Education as we know it today began in Flint during the Depression. It has since spread to all 50 states in the US and to many countries throughout the world. Flint still serves as a site for workshops and short-term training pertaining to community education. Regional centers for community education exist in several locations.

*Warwick Hills Golf Club in Grand Blanc, a suburb of Flint, is host to the annual PGA Buick Open Golf Tournament.

*Flint is the home of 'Grand Funk Railroad', a rock band popular in the '70s. LaKisha Jones, a Flint native, was 3rd runner-up in American Idol, 2007. Flint is also the hometown of celebrities such as: Sandra Bernhard, actress; Bob Eubanks, game show host; Michael Moore, filmmaker; Nancy Kovack, actress.

And, finally, Flint Trivia:

1. Flint is the largest city in the United States with a one-syllable name.
2. The book “Bud, Not Buddy” and “The Watsons Go to Birmingham: 1963” took place in Flint and its author, Christopher Paul Curtis, was also born there.
3. Flint is referenced in a 1994 episode of The Simpson’s, "Bart Gets Famous," as Bart Simpson's class visits a box factory. When asked if they will get to see a finished box, the tour guide replies, "Well, we don't assemble them here -- that's done in Flint, Michigan." There are, in fact, "box factories" in Flint. For example, Genesee Packaging has three facilities in the area.
4. Flint is also in a 1999 episode of The Simpson’s, "They Saved Lisa's Brain", when Flint is number 296 on the list of the 300 most livable cities, surpassing only Ebola, RI, Dawson's Creek, NC, Springfield, and East St. Louis, IL.
5. Michael Moore's 1989 documentary film Roger & Me deals with the impact that the closure of several General Motors manufacturing plants had on Flint's people.
6. Flint is featured in the computer game SimCity 2000, as a scenario involving the decline of the local automobile industry.
7. Flint is the subject of a Sufjan Stevens song, from his album Greetings from Michigan: The Great Lakes State. Coincidentally, his follow-up album, Illinois, was recorded at the Buddy Project Studio in Astoria, Queens, New York City, which is owned by former Flint resident Kieran Kelly.
8. Flint is the setting for Will Ferrell's upcoming movie "Semi-Pro." Filming has recently started as of 5/07. Film has a slated release of Spring '08.

DMacMeans said...

Wow Karen -

I've been through Flint, but I never knew all that! Last night, I saw on AOL that Detroit is on a list of vanishing cities in the US. THe decline in the American automotive industry has really hit Michigan hard. Ohio's weather fares a bit better, but I bet you're glad to spend your winters in North Carolina! Thanks for visiting the bandits - be sure to check back later tonight to see if you won. Right now, you're in the lead!


Trish Milburn said...

Though I don't live there anymore, I grew up in Kentucky. Probably our most famous food export is Kentucky Fried Chicken. You can get KFC around the world. Kentucky varies a lot geographically -- from the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern part of the state to the flat Mississippi River bottoms in the western part of the state. I lived in Western Kentucky growing up, though not quite to the river bottoms area. My area was more gently rolling hills and karst topography -- meaning we had a fair amount of caves and sinkholes because of the limestone bedrock. The same geographic area is home to Mammoth Cave National Park. Besides the tasty chicken, Kentucky produces coal, tobacco and has the only Corvette plant (in Bowling Green). Kentucky has the distinction of being the birthplace of both men who were presidents during the Civil War -- Abraham Lincoln for the North and Jefferson Davis for the South. I like to tell people that two of our best looking Kentuckians are George Clooney and Johnny Depp. :)

Trish Milburn said...

Oh, and how could I forget the other thing Kentucky is famous for -- thoroughbred horse racing. The horse farms around Lexington are beautiful, and Kentucky plays host to the rich and famous from around the world each first Saturday of May when the Kentucky Derby is held at Churchill Downs.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Fantastic post and subject, Donna! Since your hometown is MY hometown, too, I loved hearing all those great facts. Here's one more. Did you know that Les Wexner, the creator of The Limited clothing line is from Columbus and started his stores there?

Bob Hope was raised in Ohio, although he was born in England. Phyllis Diller was from Ohio. Dean Martin was from Youngstown, Ohio. Both John Glen and Neil Armstrong were from Ohio. Jack Nicholaus was raised in Upper Arlington, a suburb of Columbus and attended The Ohio State University.

Oh yeah, Donna MacMeans and Suzanne Welsh are from Ohio!

Helen said...

I come from Sydney Australia I have lived in the western suburbs all my life. We have one of the most beautiful harbours in the world with the opera house and the wonderful Sydney Harbour Bridge known as the coathanger which celebrated its 70th birthday this year.Thanks for this blog it is very interesting. Sydney is a very multiculteral society.
Have Fun

Christine Wells said...

Anna, I've never been to Cooper Pedy so you could tell me something about that.LOL I've traveled more in England and France than I've traveled in my own country, which is pretty sad.

Donna, if you're ever in the neighbourhood, I'll treat you to a 'Macadamia Madness'!

Aunty C, you can come and stay with me any time! I'm glad you liked Brisbane. Most people who don't live here find it too quiet compared with Sydney and Melbourne, but it is a good place to live if you can deal with the lack of decent public transport. Wow, you've been everywhere, haven't you?

Buffie said...

Well, ladies, let me introduce you to the land of Dixie. I'm talking about Georgia -- that beautiful stretch of land in the southeast of the US. Georgia's land is diverse -- we have mountains, farm areas, marsh land, and a beautiful coast along the Atlanta Ocean. We have fabulous sweet tea (how can you drink any other way?) and BBQ to die for. Plus you can come pick your own peaches and peanuts. And who doesn't love a homemade peach cobbler - YUMMO! Plains, Georgia is the home of former President Jimmy Carter. Atlanta is a busy metropolis full of restaurants, museums, and all types of attractions -- including Stone Mountain. We have dogwoods blooms in the spring, sizzlin' summer nights, and a wonderful display of colored leaves in the fall. On occasion, we even have snow in the winter.

Joan said...

To add a bit more to Trish's description of her home state which happens to be mine too!

Kentucky was originally a county of the state of Virginia though it had been long occupied by various Native American tribes. At the time of Daniel Boone's crossing the Appalachia's to settle Fort Boonesbourgh it was a hunting ground for the Shawnee and Cherokee.

George Rogers Clark founded my hometown of Louisville named after King Louis XVI of France by French soldiers under his command. It was from this humble riverside town that he and Merriweather Lewis organized their famous expedition of discovery.

The town of Louisville is situated at the Falls of the Ohio (River). It is a natural navigational barrier that helped to develop Louisville into a busy trading center.

It is a multicultural city (more so every day) but early on boasted large immigrant populations of citizens with German and Irish heritage.

The amount of history would be too much for this humble blog but some interesting facts:

1) The area of town known as "Old Louisville" is the largest historic preservation district of Victorian Homes in the US

2) Two school teacher sisters, Patty and Mildred Hill wrote a famous song. Maybe you've heard of it? "Happy Birthday"

3) Our metro park system was designed and planned by Frank Law Olmstead who also designed NYC's Central Park.

4) Trish mentioned some famous Kentucky exports...KFC, thoroughbreds, bluegrass...but she left one out; bourbon whiskey. 1/3 of the bourbon is produced in Louisville (hic)

5) Last, but not least and not to overshadow Donna's huge basket, Louisville boasts a six story baseball bat! It leans against the side of the Hillerich and Bradsby Company home of the Louisville Slugger.

As an aside, the History Channel has been airing a program every Saturday night called The States. It highlights 5 of our states each week. Fairly elemental but interesting nonetheless.

Buffie said...

Oops -- I didn't mean to rename the Atlantic Ocean -- I've just got Georgia On My Mind!!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi - I'm Maria and I was born and raised in New York City. I'm not sure what to say about NYC, except I love it! It's open all day long and you're never alone.

Joan said...

Oooooo Maria. I LOVE NYC!

I've been three times. The first time out of the hotel I found myself almost being run over by a cab because I was looking up at the buildings. (Odd, since I HAD been to large cities before LOL). And I witnessed an honest to goodness construction worker whistle at a passing woman.

My last trip was last Sept. We did the red bus tour, ate and ate and ate crit partner who is a designer shoe fiend...shopped and shopped and shopped. We saw "Mamma Mia" and paid way too much to have a skinny Russian boy take us to Times Square in a bike cart. THAT was fun....careening around speeding cars.

I hope to go again very soon.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Maria,
Are you from romance novel tv? I'm addicted to that site! Can't wait for my first trip to the Big Apple next year.

Buffie...what's peach cobbler?

DMacMeans said...

Hi all -

Sorry to be so late getting back to you all, but we had tickets for Wicked tonight. Loved it! I'll be humming "I'm defying gravity" all night.

Christine - I'll take you up on that Macadamia Madness some day, but I am truly shocked that you've never had peach cobbler. You didn't make it to Atlanta last year, I take it. Too, too, too bad.

Buffie - as you can see, Atlanta holds special meaning to us as that's where the Golden Heart ceremony was held last year, and the reason we all hooked up. I loved the public transport there - sure wish we had light rail in Columbus.

Helen - Hi over there in Syney! One of these days, I'm going to make it over there. Have to sell a few more books though -

Joan - Jack Daniels and Victorian Homes - two of my all time favorite things. Isn't there a steamboat museum around there as well. I'm thinking summer road trip, Louisville can't be too far of a drive from here.

Trish - I spent my first 12 years in Baltimore, Maryland - but the next several decades in Ohio. I've lived in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus, and I can say that we like to think of George Clooney as ours - even if he was born in Kentucky.

Maria - God Bless NYC! The last time I was there, my critique partner's son-in-law instructed his limo driver to be at our disposal for a night on the town. We had a absolute ball. It's a marvelous town and I can't wait to go back.

Anonymous said...

I have to speak up in honor of my hometown, Buffalo NY. If you ask almost anyone in the States, they'll tell you Buffalo = SNOW. And occasionally, it gets monster blizzards. The famous blizzard of '77 left our house buried up to the second floor. Could anything be more fun for a kid than sledding out their own bedroom window?

The truth is, Buffalo gets the occasional big storm, but unless the forces are aligned, the city doesn't get much snow. Summers are lovely--not to hot, beautiful sunny days. There's a fantastic modern art museum, and a world class philharmonic orchestra.

My dad still lives there, and is a diehard fan of the city. This column is in his honor. :-)

(I now reside across the country from Buffalo...but that's another story!)

DMacMeans said...

And the winner is -

Karen h in NC because you went to great lengths to post about Flint. A bit of pride there, I suspect. Anyway - to claim your bandit mask - please visit my website at and leave your contact information so I can mail it to you. Thanks for visiting the Romance Bandits Blog. Be sure to come back!

DMacMeans said...

Kirsten -

My brother's family is up in Rochester, NY - not far from Buffalo, I think. I remember from my days of living in Cleveland that "not much snow" there meant something entirely different from "not much snow" farther south.

It's tough these days when families move all over. I hope you still get back to visit your Dad periodically - in the summer though!

Karen H in NC said...

Hi Donna & everyone:

Just wanted to pop in to say 'Thanks' for choosing me as the winner of the Bandit Mask for this blog and my contact info is on its way to you Donna.

Buffie, did you see The States on History Channel tonight? GA was one of the states discussed and they talked about the Stone Mtn carvings. I didn't know this, but that carving is bigger than Mt. Rushmore. I thought that was very interesting.

Kirsten, that blizzard of '77 was an impressive season for snow. Being from the northern climes, school is rarely called off because of a "little snow". But that year, my daughter was out of school for 9 days straight in February '77. That was the year the drifts were 20-30 feet high across some county & back roads. The snows actually started early that season. My son was born in October '76 and by November 1st, we had 18" of snow on the ground...never went away until early April. I don't miss it at all!!!

It was interesting to read what you all had to say about your cities & states. Have a good weekend everyone.

Anonymous said...

Hi! -
Christine - yes I'm from Romance Novel TV, glad you like our site.

Joan - sounds like you had an amazing trip. You summed up New York City - big buildings, men ogling, crowded streets and Broadway shows! I've traveled to many places, but there is nothing like this city because it's open 24/7

dmacmeans - a limo?!! In my opinion, that's a nice way to see any city.

Joan said...

Well, come on down Donna! I'll show you around (but you'll have to drive over the bridge :-)

The Howard Steamboat museum is actually located across the river from us in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Once you visit there, you can come on over and ride the Belle of Louisville our very own piece of history.

And sorry, but Jack Daniels is made in Tennessee. Our Kentucky bourbon is Maker's Mark or Jim Beam both of which have distilleries not far from here in the Bardstown area.

Several years ago, one of them caught fire and whiskey leaked into a nearby stream. It was quite a sight seeing the water blazing. It almost wiped out the distillery.

Anonymous said...

Karen h--Flint and Buffalo have a lot in common! Both rust belt cities that have suffered so much as industry leaves town. I don't know the exact numbers, but I recall hearing that when I was born, the city had a population in the 500,000 range, and it's now about half that, or less. Amazing that you recall the blizzard of '77! They actually had a board game about it that we played in Buffalo. Not sure that one ever made it out of the city...

donna, I've got family in Rochester, too! :-) It's a really vibrant town. More artsy than Buffalo, not quite as much snow, and really fabulously nice people. Unfortunately (and this breaks my dad's heart) I haven't been home in ages. I think I visited about five years ago. Hard to believe it's been so long.

helen and christine, I am determined some day to visit your part of the world. I'll have to be drugged to get through the long plane ride without losing my mind, but it's one of the places I simply must see.

buffie, I went to school down south and miss that sweet tea most of all! yummmmmm.

maria, it's funny that I grew up in NY state, but actually have only been to the big city once, when I was in fourth grade. I think I'm a little scared of it. ;-)

anna, thanks for posting about your hometown. If I write another Regency, I'll have to use it as an excuse to visit England. Tax deduction and all that...

DMacMeans said...

Joan -

Now I know Jack Daniels is made in Tennessee. I once hosted a gourmet dinner where all the dishes were made with Jack Daniels. We're old friends. (darn I need those smiley thingies). Guess when I hear bourbon, my mind naturally swings to Jack.

You know the Cuyahoga river caught fire up in Cleveland as well, but it wasn't from bourbon. Somehow that bourbon fire should find its way into a book somewhere.

Enjoy the weekend everyone. Monday is around the corner.

Buffie said...

Hey Maria **waving madly**

Christine -- peach cobbler is a wonderful Southern dessert -- best if served warm with ice cream on top!! It is made of sliced peaches, flour, suger, cinnamon, and butter. And it is wonderful!

Karen -- congrats to you!! No I didn't see the special last night. But if you have never seen the carvings at Stone Mountain, it is definitely a MUST see while in Atlanta.

Christine Wells said...

Ooh er, Buffie, that peach cobbler sounds divine! And Kirsten, you'll always have a place to stay if you decide to include Brissie in your trip, but I agree--the flight is pure torture.

Caren Crane said...

Sorry I missed the "what's peach cobbler" discussion over the weekend! Christine, there are two wildly disparate schools of thought on peach cobbler (or any other cobbler, my favorite is blackberry).

One segment of cooks mix the fruit with sugar (and usually cinnamon and pats of butter) and pour some goopy biscuit-like flour mixture on top. That, in my opinion, is not cobbler, but my husband and the entire state of North Carolina swears it is.

The second (correct) segment makes a pastry dough much like pie crust, rolls it out and cuts it into strips. Beginning with the fruit on bottom, the fruit and pastry are layered until you run out of stuff, ending with pastry on top (which is liberally dusted with sugar and dotted with butter), then baked until it's bubbly and browned on top. This concoction is close to nirvana, I swear.

Though I had some apfel strudel in Switzerland that was almost as good. Almost.