What was your Corona Virus Experience?

Corona virus

Well, things might start to open up soon. Are you going back to the old world? Well, in the larger picture, there might not be an old world, but I mean personally, what will your world look like? Now, this is a pie in the sky question. Blue sky thinking. What would your word look like after the coronavirus?

Do you go back to the same job? The same job, but with a few changes? Possibly a new job? This is pie in the sky thinking, don’t focus on the negative. What would you want to be doing?

Then ask yourself, will this job leave you time for things you remembered you loved to do. Did you reconnect to these hobbies during this time to stay home and reflect? You mean you did no reflection and just watched Netflix in the same sweatpants for three months, with no top? Well, some of you gals did this too, now admit it…How are you going into this new world? Will this job leave you time for friends and family? Will it give you time to yourself? Are those things important to you? What is important to you? Hopefully, you asked yourself these things. You didn’t??? OK, you did. You had me worried there…

What did you crave? What was taken from you? The walks in the park? Dancing at night clubs? Seeing the opposite sex? What did you miss the most during this pandemic? Will you hold it tighter to you now that you saw it could be taken from you?

Did you enjoy working from home? What were the advantages? What were the problems? It seemed most of America liked the personal experience of seeing inside of people’s homes on TV and such. Especially with Rate my Room an such.

Did you miss the rush hour commute? I remember an ad for Headhunters touting the morning commute being the walk in your slippers from the bedroom, to the kitchen, to the study. Did you experience that? How was it?

Imagine a world where we dropped emissions, less roadkill, and saved all those hours of driving! If a majority of us could telecommute we would move away from hub cities and give up our dependence on river and ocean towns and spread out. If high-income workers were evenly spread out throughout the nation, we could have the economy for the amenities we used to find in only larger cities. Imagine if we went back to Vaudeville or supported the local arts for real. Remove the all or nothing mentality from creative jobs and allow a creative sort to earn the same money as a plumber or a baker? Why should a creative sort not own a house from his occupation and not his side gig? Let us give up on national stars and support those in your town. Distribution of high-income wage earners will help this.  What about restaurants and coffee shops? The same. We could have local musicians, poets, authors, actors, lions tigers, and bears; oh my!

The time you saved commuting could give you time to see a play, hear a concert, or read a book.

 

Internet disparity in communities. Disperse the wealth and those high-income wage earners would call to fix the problems with connectivity.

How do we disperse the wealth? By not forcing people into choices early in their careers to move to our overpopulated centers where they force the cost of housing up due to lack of demand. What I have noticed living in an old city, families that stay in the same location for generations lift each other up. Isn’t that great, if we distribute the wealth a father does not have to stand at a train station, airport, or bus station and see his child go away for the next 20 years and only visit on holidays.

Disperse the wealth. Wealthy educated people do not get harassed by the police as much. Have you noticed as you get older, police do not bother you as much? That is because they believe as you get older you know your rights more and are not as likely to get pushed around. Plus people with wealth have lawyers. Disperse the wealth. How do you eliminate a police force that is stripping a community of its rights?

  1. Sue the chief. The officer is protected from immunity by deals with unions and your town. The chief is not.
  2. Sue the city and the mayor. Now the mayor puts pressure on the chief and chief puts pressure on the officer. Officer gets the shit details.
  3. As a group of people, bring litigation against the police department. If there are too many suits against the police department their insurance company will drop them. Then sue again till the next company drops them. Then repeat till they are forced to create a new police department. By then the officer will get fired with the rest of them. He will not have any friends left afterward.

If you disperse the wealth, you will have help doing this. For wealth is not only the possession of personal property, it is intelligence.  Imagine if every little town did not have a brain drain; politicians might be held accountable. For all politics start locally and move up. Imagine how creative our town parks could be without the brain drain. Cities become amazing because they drain the brain from the rural areas of the country. People also move to the country to quaint towns with beautiful downtowns, parks, vistas, and amenities. Most of the time these locations are close to the major cities, which drive their prices up. Imagine these towns hours from cities with lower home prices? Disperse the wealth. Intelligence and talent should be able to stay within the towns they grew up in. Why are we all forced to move away and give up the life we built for 18 years, we should be able to prosper where we live. That is not too intelligent to do otherwise…

Disperse the wealth. Also, reduce the taxes on local small business owners. Tax the billionaires. When we stay local, it is our buddies and gals we grew up with who did well who could help the rest of us, but now we hit these people with paperwork and taxes which force them to pay people a non-liveable wage. Our friends are the key to a strong middle class. This will disperse the wealth.

Now if we change our way of living, we will disperse the wealth. What is disperse the wealth?

It is sharing our conversations, laughs, friendships, knowledge, love, time, and family in activities that bring us joy. Work sucks, but labor is fine. We all should be able to labor in our own callings and by decentralizing a workplace mentality and moving away from overburdened locations we will create the time and place to disperse the wealth.

So in this new world, pie in the sky; what would you be looking for? If you did not think about this question before, what are you thinking now? What would your world look like and how would you share it? How will you labor to make that world possible? Tell us below in the comments.

The Woohoo in the Pines Clay Gallery

Well just off the road and across the tracks here in the Pines we have an urban art gallery few know about. In this little spot that was once a hamlet, if it ever made it to that size where people outnumbered the deer, we have an art gallery that people travel for hours to find within the heart of the Pasadena section of Whiting NJ.  A gallery built on the site of the Pasadena Terracotta Factory or as others know it as Brooks Brae.

Who would figure there would be an art gallery here…

Railroad in the Pine Barren near Chatsworth factory

Well on the other side of the tracks in the old brick factory there is one, but unlike other factories repurposed for galleries within their hollow structures,  The Woohoo in the Pines Clay Gallery has no overhead and a free admission.

Many well known Piney artists have had group shows here over the years. Sometimes we are graced by the well of inspiration in which those two great cities can offer, Philadelphia and New York, that affords us the trip to our little gallery under the sun. For we have the best lighting that the universe can offer. Below is a collection of past works that hung on Brooks Brae’s walls.

Brooksbrae oven entrance

On many of our openings, most likely spurred on by the moonshine and wine offered, many couples have disappeared into the ovens where things get really hot. The only way to discover the ovens’ secrets is to bring a fluorescent light, for we are not talking. Artists are a truly a saucy bunch…

This underground room sits below the kilns that once fired the sewer pipes that were manufactured here. It is amazing what filth has occurred in this space to set young lovers’ hearts ablaze, for at least a half-hour or so before they were discovered missing from our many galas. Limelight, Studio 54, and Manray have nothing on our stains on the walls of the ovens.

For the more sensitive personalities or those people who need a little romance before entering the ovens, or for those guys needing a space in which to promise to call the girls after leaving the ovens, we have a fine garden surrounding the museum. Grounds cultivated by Frederick Law Olmstead’s neighbor’s mailman’s great-great-grandson. A future destination for Banksy, if he could do art for art’s sake…

The museum at Brooksbrae also has plenty of seating for those who need to converse while our plentiful hors d’oeuvres are being passed. The gallery can be rented for private business functions and weddings on the weekends May through November. Plus our door is open 24-7!

Right now we have whitewashed our walls and we are placing a call for new art for our Spring Show based on the artistic mind and isolation. Stop in and submit your slides for review or post your .jpgs in the comment area below.

Brooksbrae Graffiti

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still Stuck in Whiting Due to Virus

Chris Dowgin in bowler hatSo while I have not seen your faces, or that many faces of anyone at all, I wonder how many faces you have seen? The healthy safe requirement is 6ft, not acres stuck up in your house. This time makes me curious, are we no longer social creatures?

Is the virtual experiences we receive through Netflix, Fortnight, and Facebook plenty. Maybe there is some truth to the supposition that the little grey aliens with big heads and fingers are, in reality, us coming back from the future.  Why, what do we need with tall muscular bodies if all we do is sit in front of a box and exercise our mind and fingers.  Is that future fine with you?

How many of you have looked up a good friend you have not seen in a while and relished in their company. I was hoping more of us will, but I fret it is not so. Maybe there is still hope, it has been winter in which is a time we tend to shut ourselves away from each other. Partly due to a hibernation itch that is brought on when the sun chooses to hide for several months each year. Is it the weather; just not warm enough to enjoy the great outdoors?

Well in 2 days I get to see another batch of strangers, some faces will be familiar, as the state parks reopen in NJ. I will head back to Double Trouble State Park and ply my flute on those who pass by for a smile or a conversation. Though I find myself in the most densely populated state in the country, I find few besides these hikers who make a pretense of being sociable.  I met a few who will stop and talk, but rare are the few who follow up with a call after an exchange of numbers happen. Maybe this will have changed as the park reopens.

Sometimes you restrict something and the desire for it grows. You restrict a rubber band’s desire to be at rest and it snaps against the pull you place upon it. Has this forced isolation forced people to be social once more, probably not. Once all of these restrictions are removed we will, like lemmings, just throw ourselves off the social cliff back into our jobs and commute. We could of found a silver lining in this virus to end the ten-year social virus we have lived through, but in truth, we will live the life of the frog in the slowly boiled pot.

There are times when you wish for someone to prove you wrong and this is my time.

Cheers,
Chris

Finding Community in Frederick Maryland

In our world where there are reports that 70% of the nation report they are lonely, I have left the Witch City to find people who still value each other’s time. I had been living in Salem for almost 30 years and made over 5,000 friends and had some great times with all of them. It used to be a great walking city where a 10-minute walk would take an hour due to all of the conversations you had on the way. Within the last ten years, that has all changed. Now, four days out of the week my only conversation is while one of the great staff at Jolie Tea Co. pours me my Lapsang Souchong. So I am on the hunt for a town where Barney and Fred still see each other daily, even if they get on each other nerves…

So what happened? Is it the 5am alarm, the hour each way commute, the 6 day work week, or the ease of social contact through social media? What drove us apart and what has taken its place. Is it Netflix binging or video games. Or are people just working, sleeping, and running errands on the one day off they get. Is it the belief we have to spend money to socialize…

So I’m on the hunt. On my latest journey through the south, I stopped off at Frederick MD. Frederick was the home of Francis Scott Key. The ninth president of the United States, John Hanson, lived here. If you will remember there were 14 presidents prior to the forming of the Constitution. John Hancock was the 4th president when he signed the Declaration of Independence. Yes George Washington was not the first, but he did travel through this town during the French and Indian War. During the Revolutionary War, Hessians were garrisoned here to block the crossroads from the Patriots’ usage.   Roger B. Taney was also found here, he was the 5th Superior Court Justice that became infamous for his Dread Scott decision. Also, It was a crossroads during the Civil War with one day having Union troops marching through with the next Confederates. To prevent Confederate sympathies, President Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus and arrested local politicians. Also, they had a Civil War hospital museum where they treated troops from both sides of the Civil War. Plus, it had many shops on two long streets, Patrick and Market, filled with good people and even greater items for sale.  The first I entered was The Spice & Tea Exchange where Keith made me a very nice Lapsang Souchong blended tea to start off my journey after he gave me a little history of the town and told me about the big social events they hold down on the river filled with music and people.

Now there were many similarities between Salem MA and Frederick MD; except one has the ocean while the other has the Appalachians. Both had a majority of architecture from the 19th century, but I must say Frederick’s shopping community was larger and much more varied. I believe Frederick did have a psychic, but the most magical place was Smoke Signals. A slight throwback to an old headshop from the 70s. There I met Niko, a fellow Thelemite. We had a good conversation on history, Masons, and magic. 93 and 42 to you Niko! They also had their own Record Exchange. Sam who owned the one in Frederick was probably the friendliest and happiest soul I met in town. He had an eclectic and rare selection of some fine punk and obscure Soul and R&B. Many rare vinyl prints I had seen on his shelf. Now Salem has their own Record Exchange as well with Barrence Whitfield and his large soul and his encyclopedic knowledge of music. Maybe Sam while visiting his son in Boston might just one day step in and meet Barrence when the worlds collide…

 

Another strange coincidence was, tunnels. Now nobody I talked to knew if there were any in town or not, but I had seen many signs. There were many service entrances in the sidewalk. Within Salem, these would be locations where they took the roof off the tunnel and opened up a small section in front of the tunnel entrance to the basement. Why make a second hole in your foundation and why waste a great resource. Very similar to them are basement addresses accessible from the sidewalk. They take the roof off the tunnel once more and utilize a staircase to block the tunnel from going the other direction and use the preexisting door from the tunnel into the basement. Plus they had scores of buildings with exterior chimneys. Exterior chimneys were utilized when central chimneys were more economical because it proved a better way to connect a home to a tunnel. The tunnel would enter through the fireplace arch in the basement allowing the tunnel to exit 3 feet to 6 feet within the basement. This alleviated flashing problems and created a draw system up through the flu to provide fresh air for the tunnel system. Frederick was on a river and was a hub on the railroad. Monocacy River runs into the Potomac and leads to the sea. Within Salem, they were used for smuggling to avoid paying duties, the Underground Railroad, and transportation during inclement weather.  A quick search shows no history of smuggling in Frederick, but most smuggling activities do not show up within public records… Some finds I did come across were that Confederate sympathizers would smuggle goods like quinine and clothing to help out the South.  Also, it would be useful for these sympathizers to meet in private once Lincoln started arresting them.

 

Very much like Salem, walking through Frederick was like walking back in time. A rough estimate I would say there were about 20 square blocks of 19th-century brick homes. A majority of them were attached row houses. Outside of old town was modern communities and the usual cluster of strip malls with major outlets with a very extensive series of bus routes to get back and forth. Their transit center had links to Amtrak and Greyhound.

Good tip. While traveling I have found a black membership at Gold’s Gym for $29.99 a month will get you a locker to store a duffel bag, a shower, and a massage bed to take a nap on.

While I was waiting for that bus to get me to Planet Fitness to drop off my duffel, I stopped in at the Curious Iguana where Elna sold me a book to read while I waited for the bus. The Curious Iguana owners are also the owners of the Dancing Bear where I met Kevin who I kept bumping into as I traveled through town. Now the owners Marlene and Tom England give a portion of the store’s sales each year to international non-profits (more than $51,850 as of December 2018), which is quite impressive! So support them so they can support many others. I also found an old The Darkness comic at Brainstorm Comics and Gaming which Brendan sold me. It was an issue my friend Matt Maguire worked on. Matt’s story also appears in our Winter issue of Arkham: Tales from the Flipside. Hopefully Brendan will be able to buy that house!

Later that night I walked up Market Street and found many street performers. The first I played some flute with was Arthur Harrison from The Cassettes on Theremin, Brady Danger on guitar (Instagram @bradydangermusic), and @eltheviolinist on Instagram. Later I played a little with Myle Voorhees on banjo. We might even get him to write a story for Arkham; Tales from the Flipside

 

Alyssa HardThen  I got to hear Alyssa Hard at Cafe-Nola. She originally sat and listened to me play my flute on the steps of an old bank that closed years ago. I owe her a better performance since my amp was dying…but her performance was top notch. I hope she enjoyed some Robin Ella & the CC String Band, I think it would be up her alley along with the Carolina Chocolate Drops. I sort of like this; I got to listen and play music on the street. I’m used to walking into a bar for 30 years to hear music, but here it was outside. I got into some great conversations with Myle about banjo, community, and friends. I got to talk to a lovely songstress and had Arthur teach me a thing or two. Arthur was kind enough also to give me a ride back to Planet Fitness to get my duffel. We talked about history, electronics, music, and the CIA. He probably gave me the best conversation on my journey.

From my questions, it does seem there is a community in Frederick. Keith informed me about the community that comes out for town events down at the river, Sam says he still is able to see his friends weekly, Myle gets to work and play with his, and Arthur just seems to take out his Theremin out and people just gather to say hello. This might just be a town I might have to return to and find a Couchsurfing host to check it out further. They might of found a way to combat the 70% within a metropolitan area. The houses are said to be in the $350,000 range, with a seedy side coming back into vogue with homes around $150,000.On the other hand, those walking through the bar scenes, did seem younger. It would have been a good indicator if a mix aged population walked by to see if people deep in their careers still have time for each other. So who knows, but it is worth a second look.

Maybe Barney and Fred were just around the corner…

 

 

 

A Viking in Baltimore Finds Fleet of Dragon Ships, Tunnels, and Hill Forts…

Hostels and Fudge

Baltimore was a popular travel location while I was a kid. My family stayed in the Inner Harbor several times throughout the years. We would go to the malls and get to our favorite Jelly Beans (root beer, green apple, and cinnamon) from the wall dispensers before Jelly Belly took over the market, fresh roasted cashews, and fudge. There were great shows at the Maryland Science Center to see and I got to see my first person standing on the soapbox claiming the world was going to end in front of the World Trade Center. We even got to stay in the same hotel as the band Krokus…

So I went back. Instead of staying in the Inner Harbor area I got a room in the Cloudbunk hostel in the Charles Neighborhood for a mere $24 a night. The room I shared with 5 others. One of which just showed up once a day just to step in the room and step back out. One was traveling, one was looking for an apartment, and one was here for work. The last just woke us all up in the middle of the night confused about the process. It was in a row house with three floors with their own bathrooms. On the main floor was a large TV and couch, a communal table, and an eat-in kitchen in which we shared foods donated by local companies. The front door locked after 8pm, but there was a back door with a code open 24hrs. Most of the people who gather in these hostels are out looking to meet new people and experiences. Few of us traveled to one of the many art museums in the city together.

The thing I found interesting was behind the building was an alley that ran parallel to the street. It was the service corridor where the garbage was put out and the garages were kept for each building. I grew up with a similar alley in behind my house, but it was cut out in the 20s and left to become overgrown by the time they started building houses in the neighborhood in the 70s with only deer traveling through it. Joseph Parisi, a mobster who controlled the garbage for NYC, had plans to develop a new city within the NJ Pines at the intersection of three railroad lines. Similar to Baltimore, but he only sold a few houses after cutting out all of the roads. One was to a nudist colony.

So when you return to a strange town, you search out the familiar. So I started out with in the Inner Harbor. Across the harbor, I had seen the old Federal Hill fort that reminded me of Fort Pickering in Salem MA. A fort built on Smith Hill during the Civil War. From where I was standing looking at the fort was the USS Constellation.  She was commissioned during the war to help the British attack slave ships leaving Africa to the Confederate states. Up to the point that Lincoln declared the Emancipation Proclamation the British were hemming and hawing which side to support. Prior Laird’s shipyard was producing screw-sloops for the South, one of which, the CSS Alabama, escaped before George Peabody bribed the English Prime Minister to stop the delivery of the other two to the South. Which is strange since he was profiting from the sales of southern cotton from Baltimore to acquire armaments for the South. The Constellation and Alabama both sailed the waters around Africa.

 

 


Then believe it or not, behind me was this sea monster. Next to it was Bubba Shrimp which pumped out out brine and the smell of fresh fish at all hours of the night. I was looking for Forrest to run by…In the same building up to three years ago was the Fudgery. As a kid I got to see it’s opening year watching these singing and dancing fudge chefs bring joy to large crowds singing ‘time to make the fudge’ and handing out free samples all day. The dancing security guard Terry told me of their demise over a dropped bologna sandwich. I got to meet him and his friend, Manuel, after I got done playing some flute in front of the Constellation. The band Dru Hill started at the Fudgery and I missed out hearing them and all the other staff at the Fudgery.

 

 

Then I walked to my right a little toward the Maryland Science Center. A top-notch science museum where I saw a movie prop show years ago with an animated full-size King Kong head and a Ripley model in a cargo lifting exoskeleton fighting the Alien. That night it was closed so I only got to see this monster in the window. So I ventured on and seen the coolest Barnes and Noble, the World Trade Center (without the doomsday preacher), the Domino Sugar plant lit up, and a beached lighthouse. Probably the coolest thing I found was my own dragon ship fleet. What good is a Viking without his own dragon ship fleet?

 

 

The next day I walked around Fellspoint historic district with its railroad tracks and sets. Cobblestones are round and sets are square… In this neighborhood, I had seen many signs of possible smuggling tunnels. Many service entrances and basement dwellings could of been converted sections of the tunnels in the city. George Peabody from Salem frequented this area and he utilized the tunnels in every city in which he lived in. He was a friend of Alexander Bown of Brown’s Wharf in which I passed.  The Horse You Rode In On, the oldest tavern in the country seemed to have signs of tunnels out front. Its location has been a tavern since 1775 and was the last bar Edgar Allan Poe drank in on the night he died. For something a little more spicy, but safer I headed to the Saffron Grill for a mix of Yemeni and Pakistani food. They had the best lamb shawarma Sandwich with a nan wrap which was head and shoulders above any other traditional wrap I ever had. Plus I found Sound Garden celebrating 25 years filled with some really cool choices of music with new and used vinyl. Many musicians played here including Motorhead!

Then as I walked further along the waterfront I found a statue of Frederick Douglass and realized I had walked through his old neighborhood. Douglass left Baltimore for Lynn MA where he ventured to Salem from and met the Remonds who taught him how to speak on the abolitionist circuit. Sarah, the sister, probably gave him his signature haircut. The brother Charles, she coifed his style as well. I also found some homes with exterior chimneys. Exterior chimneys allow easier access for tunnels to enter the basements without any flashing problems and creates a draw system to bring fresh air into the tunnels. Plus I found some very nice views.

As I headed back to the Inner Harbor I passed the National Aquarium and its dolphins. Continuing on I had seen the harbor’s several attempts to create mini wetlands and other ways to clean the water. One was this snail that picked out the garbage of the river as the tide went out.

Then I headed back to the Cloudbunks for a good night’s sleep and took a picture of the garage behind the shelter. Then I left that morning for Frederick, MD, but I need to come back and enjoy the live music scene, the art museums, Poe’s House, and much more. So I might just be continuing my tradition of visiting this city for years to come.

 

Now here is the video of me playing the flute in front of the USS Constellation:

Salem Tunnel Report in Baltimore and Washington DC

George Peabody, Alexander Brown, and Charles Bulfinch

So on my travels looking for community in America, I stumbled on some possible tunnels; well I knew they had to be there, but I still had to find them. Well, at least I found the tell-tale signs; everywhere but Washington D.C. There I walked into a new one.

It all starts in 1795 when Harrison Gray Otis gives architect Charles Bulfinch the contract to build a new statehouse in Boston in the pasture of John Hancock’s house. This was most likely in the area that the tunnels extended from Hancock’s wine cellar. They just had to tap into an old tunnel system and stretch it through the Beacon Hill neighborhood they just purchased from the painter John Singleton Copley who was living in England at the time. The governor and Bulfinch saw the lack of proximity to their advantage and refused to pay the painter for years. To prepare the ground for the new State House Bulfinch erected a funicular railroad to take down the Tremont Hill and dump the dirt within Mill Pond and the mudflats of the Charles River.  While he was doing this, he was digging new tunnels and connecting them to the new manors he was building also. All he had to do was sneak the tunnel dirt into the dirt coming down from the hill.

Did you know Hancock was our 4th and 13th president? Both terms he served before Washington…He was president when he signed the Declaration.

He copied this plan in Salem MA, Newburyport MA, and Washington D.C. The difference in Washington was that there was no water to hide the dirt in front of the Capitol he was hired by President Monroe to rebuild after the War of 1812. So they dug a canal leading to the Capitol so he could hide the dirt in the piles being carted away, then filled in the ditch with water. The canal has since been removed. Maybe while they were creating new tunnels.

Now did you know, that between the Jefferson and Adams wings of the Library of Congress there are 4 layers of tunnels the public is welcome to walk through? Also, you can leave the Library of Congress and head to the Capitol. Once in the Capitol, you can continue to the Hart Senate Office Building. Here are some pictures.

 

Now besides Bulfinch who resided in Salem for a period, there was George Peabody. He and his brother utilized tunnels in Newburyport, MA that Bulfinch built for their dry good store. Then George followed an uncle to the Georgetown section of Washington. Another location rumored to have tunnels. Then Peabody followed a friend he served with during the War of 1812 to Baltimore in 1816 moving their company Riggs& Peabody they formed a year prior in Georgetown.  They moved to Baltimore because it was closer to the slave and cotton markets they were participating in.  In 1829 Riggs retired to NYC and in time his home was incorporated into the US Customs House. The Customs House in Salem Ma was connected to the tunnels, and I will assume the one in NYC was too.

Before moving to New York, Elisha funded the bank of Corcoran & Riggs in Washington, DC, which was organized by his son George Washington Riggs. When the United States sought a loan to finance the Mexican–American War, the Riggs bank was the only institution to bid for the full amount and lent the government $34 million in 1847 and 1848. After the retirement of William Corcoran, Elisha’s son George Washington Riggs and his grandson Elisha Francis Riggs took over the business as Riggs & Co. in Washington. It was successfully run as such until July 1896 when it assumed its present name as the Riggs National Bank. The bank still stands at its original location as PNC Bank. Riggs Bank was the bank of choice for the CIA and the dictators they supported. Corcoran & Riggs had many US politicians and presidents under their influence through their time in operation. Peabody kept close ties to his business partner’s son’s bank.

Peabody also was close to Alexander Brown who founded the B&O railroad in Baltimore. Peabody secured loans from Joshua Bates of Baring Brothers Bank for the railroad. Bates was from Salem as well and his uncle was Thomas Perkins who started the opium empire that grew the Forbes fortune. Baring Brother’s was one of the English banks that profited from loans it secured for the First and Second National Bank after the Revolutionary War and The War of 1812. After both wars with the English, we sold 70% of the debt we incurred to the enemy.

Alexander and Henry Baring married the daughters of William Bingham. William Bingham married Thomas Willing’s daughter. Willing was president of The First National Bank. Bingham was the man who Alexander Hamilton sought advice from to make the First National Bank. The First National Bank lost its charter in 1811 for selling the majority of the loans that congress needed to the British who we defeated in a war. Samuel Ward was Baring’s agent who secured several bribes to many of Salem’s wealthy and politicians so that at the close of The War of 1812 they would ensure a Second National Bank. In which they did and they all became directors of the new bank. So in 1836 Jackson closes the bank for selling 70% of Congress’ debt to England once more after a war with them. So when Peabody secured the loan for B&O, two of Thomas Perkins’ nephews were controlling partners in Baring Brothers Bank.

Also in response to Jackson’s Bank Wars Peabody engineered the 1837 Panic with Lionel Rothschild and created the first bank bailout when he bailed out the Brown Brothers Bank in Liverpool, Alexander’s son’s bank. This was the first of a series of panics, depressions, and great recessions that happen on a 20-year timetable. Peabody & Co. Bank is now known as JP Morgan Bank. JP Morgan and Morgan Stanely were fined for creating the 2008 Finacial Collapse.

Now when I walked around Brown’s Wharf in Baltimore I had seen plenty of tell-tale signs of tunnel activity. First, there were delivery entrances in the sidewalk everywhere in the area. These are created when you remove the roof of a section of a tunnel to give access through the foundation to the basement. Then you block off the tunnel from going any further. Tunnels usually run in front of a store under the sidewalks. Also in the Hats in the Belfry shop, they had a trapdoor. Many times that was an access point to get into those smuggling tunnels. Also, there were locations where they had steps leading to doors under the sidewalk. In some places, these are points in which the tunnel ran into the building that was later converted to a basement entrance by removing the top of the tunnel and blocking it by a staircase and utilizing the tunnel entrance to the basement. Why put a second hole in your foundation if you do not need to?

Peabody and Baltimore are also connected by the library he built which is now part of John Hopkins Univesity. There are many stories of tunnels under the university. Also, there is Hutzler’s department store shoppers’ tunnel under Saratoga Street. It linked the main store with another set of buildings that housed the toy department, garage, and a soda fountain. It is similar to Daniel Low in Salem that has a tunnel that led to its warehouse. Another passage under Calvert Street at Lexington connected the old Federal Reserve Bank with the old Post Office. Through Peabody’s bank, JP Morgan was able to create the Federal Reserve, The Third National Bank. Then there was the tunnel under Federal Hill. Rumors of tunnels exist under Salem’s Colonial hill fort as well. Plus many of the B&O trains had tunnels to run through hiding them from those walking through the city. Then a quick search found tunnels under Lexington Market, The Washington Monument, Westminister Hall, and the Baltimore Basilica.  Here are a few pictures I had found online.

So there are a few connections between Salem and Baltimore that run deep below the surface. Some of them appear even in the game Monopoly that was developed in Salem. Because of George Peabody, Rich Uncle Pennybags is modeled after JP Morgan and the game reflects Peabody’s investment in the B&O Railroad and the Boston and Maine which bought his Eastern Railroad. Also, Peabody dug the first train tunnel in the nation that was attached to an underground train station used by the smugglers in Salem. Alexander Brown seemed to be a good student of his.

If you have any information about the tunnels in Baltimore let us know below in the comment section. If you want to find out more about the tunnels in Salem MA read Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in Salem and Sub Rosa.

 

 

Travels Through Virginia Looking for Community and Some Strange Sidetracks…

So when I was little we would travel back to my mother’s home town of Norseville, NJ and visit my Aunt Donna and Uncle Bob. My mother was raised with Donna since the crib. Their parents were good friends, almost like sisters. So when they had kids they raised us together since the crib, well at least till we all reached our teens.

Whenever we visited them it was like an open house with friends and family walking in at all ours up to the wee hours of the morning. There was always a game of Yahtzee or Scrabble to be had. This was the same neighborhood where they would leave a pot of coffee on the stove and the kitchen door open for visitors while they were out and the local church always had a skating night, bowling night, dance, or fair to get people together. At this time having a family and working was nothing that could stop people from spending time with one and another.

So this March was Bob’s and Donna’s 50h anniversary so we traveled to Moneta, VA to see them. Their kids and spouses put together a surprise party for them which left these two speechless. Good people, good food, and music were had and created some great memories these two would cherish for the rest of their lives. People from all over the east coast ventured to this affair. Then after it all, we got to sit with them for a more intimate gathering. Much like the old days. Stories were passed along, including some embarrassing toddler stories they shared about me.

Then they welcomed our other old friends from my old neighborhood that were living nearby in Lynchburg, VA. Lynn and Don Wirth were Cub Scout leaders for our neighborhood. Their two sons Shaun and Robin along with myself learned a lot from these two great people. Meeting them at Bob’s and Donna’s was the first time I and my parents have seen them in almost 30 years. Don was always the same gentlemen who always reminded you about something extraordinary that you did before he was going to say hi. I found out he shared my expertise and spirit as a goalie with his students in the classes he taught within various war colleges. Col. Don Wirth was Delta Force and the logistics expert for General Norman Schwartzkopf  Jr. for the Gulf War.  I also found out that he was the president of the martial art style I was trained in. My Sensei Comparato was the Grandmaster and Don was right below him in Kosho Shorei Ryu Kenpo Jiu-Jitsu. Go figure…

Then we went to Charlottesville, VA and I visited some wonderful stores. Locals call it C’ville. The town had a great pedestrian shopping area with a central lane and several side streets extending from it. This central lane was part of Three Notch’d Road which was named by the three notches in the tree used to mark it.  A young Virginian named Jack Jouett was woken by a passing British cavalry sent to capture the Virginian legislature including Gov. Thomas Jefferson,  Patrick HenryRichard Henry LeeThomas Nelson, Jr., and Benjamin Harrison V. Jouett rode on the Three Notch’d Road to bring warning to Jefferson at Monticello prompting them all to flee to Charlottesville to hide in Jouett’s father’s Swan tavern before escaping again on Three Notch’d Road over the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Originally Charlottesville was a Monacan village called Monasukapanough. Colonialists later name Charlottesville for Charlotte Sophia, consort of King George III of England. It grew as a tobacco-trading point and later became famous as the home of presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe and explorers Meriwether Lewis and George Rogers Clark.  Orange, located 26 miles (42 km) northeast of the city, was the hometown of President James Madison. The University of Virginia, founded by Jefferson and one of the original Public Ivies, straddles the city’s southwestern border.  Today it is the home of the Virginia Festival of the Book. Which unfortunately got canceled because of  covid 19 scare. Please help them out if you can to cover cancellation costs and still visit the various bookstores in Charlottesville that depend on sales from the festival to continue each year in business.

Ike at Ike's Underground in C'Ville VA.
Ike

The many shops I visited were 2nd Act Books owned by the gracious Daphne, Rock Paper Scissors where Mara was a great help providing me with some great stationery, Anna was great (who was a Conan fan) at Telegraph Art & Comics where they had some great illustrated books about The Dark Crystal, Then New Dominion Bookshop just had a wonderful looking store, then the woman at the Blue Whale Books was wonderful and I wish her arm much healing, then Maggie was just full of whimsy at Alakazam Toys, and great old-world hospitality and food was to be had at Blue Ridge Country Store. At the end of the lane in between all of these shops was a low long wall which invited people to put a little art on it. Many chalk drawings were added to it by a bunch of little scampers. Also make sure you visit Ike’s Underground, for he is truly the most interesting and helpful character out of the whole bunch I had met.

 

Afterward we went to Little Lake VA to visit our cousins Elmarry and Charles. We had a great meal at a local Italian restaurant and headed back to their place to catch up.  Charles introduced me to a Photoshop alternative for the iPad called Affinity, and Elmarry introduced us to the BBC comedy Mrs. Brown’s Boys.  Now Elmarry’s mother Eleanor was my Grandmother’s sister who used to check out our muscles as we were growing up to see if we had a grape or grapefruit… Eleanor was the shortest of the sisters who would go galavanting at the nightclubs dancing up a storm in the roaring 20s. They had fast cars and would spend many afternoons on the polo field. Plus I believe they were all over 6ft.

Edward H Hulton

Their father might have been the son of Edward H. Hulton Sr. who created the 2nd largest newspaper chain in England. Their father might of told his father to go to places and moved to America where he ran the print shop for JH Tooker Print Co. printing Broadway, silent, and talkie posters including Gone with the Wind. There was a Horror movie poster show presented by Kirk Hammet of Metallica at the PEM in Salem MA. The first poster in the show I had seen could of been printed by my great grandfather. It was a poster for the lost Lon Chaney film London After Midnight.

 

 

Edward Hulton the Younger (who my great grandfather started out to be) supposedly stayed in England and became a Baronette, but he really was a Mr. Lytham that Edward Hulton the Elder met at the track. A year after my great grandfather left for America there was someone running the papers in his name and his father had died. At one time Mr. Lytham offered my great grandfather the family fortune, but he refused it saying he was the Hulton’s here and they were the Hulton’s there. Lytham died within the month after his return to England. This was after he sold the papers from under the England Hulton’s to a Lord Beaverbrook who was a Nazi sympathizer. Edward Hulton III in England became famous for The Picture Post magazine and as a character in All Creatures Great and Small as Lord Hulton.

Elmarry’s father, Al Cerunda, had worked on The Ruff and Reddy Show and The Huckleberry Hound Show which introduced  Huckleberry HoundPixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks and Yogi Bear.

Aunt Eleanor, Great Grandfather Edward, and Uncle Al.

Why did I sidetrack into family history? History is important. It tells us where we came from. It gives us a map of events and people that should not be forgotten. It leads us sometimes back on track. Like the road of Three Notch’d Road it preserves us. It links us to a series of logic. For example, how can you understand the modern car fully if you don’t understand the horse carriage it was based on? Sometimes important stuff gets forgotten that we should find again. I use an old bronze razor that sets up my beard nicely because it holds the heat from the faucet; why are we using plastic razors now that don’t? Family history preserves us. Ideas like a community that gathered around a church that went beyond religion, leaving a pot of coffee behind for friends, inviting your close friends into your home as aunts and uncles of your children, taking hikes, meeting at social clubs, dancing, and smiling are all things I learned from my family that made a recipe for the communities they lived in. So I don’t think it was a bad sidetrack at all.

Then again as I travel around the country looking for community, I will bet you a turnip or two that I will find many sidetracks. Sidetracks can be profound. My Uncle Al made a sidetrack that helped bring about Yogi Bear! My great Grandfather brought us movie posters for Gone with the Wind, Cabin in the Sky, and touched a mystery about a lost movie, after he brought the daily news to England through his Daily Dispatch. His father had a sidetrack from being a compositor at the Manchester Guardian printing his own newspaper about the horses at the track till he got fired and met a sheep dealer who set him up with his own newspaper. The sidetrack brings you into strange connections. My grandfather Captain Ralph Dowgin (NJ State Trooper) worked for Norman Scwharzkopz Sr. after a trooper suggested that he sidetrack from the practical jokes that were going to end him in jail and my den leader Mr. Wirth ( Presidential appointed Col. Army) was sidetracked into a dark warehouse that in time led him to work for Norman Schwarzkopz Jr. Who knows where a sidetrack will bring you and what impacts they might have. My grandfather led to Christine Whitman’s political career and Mr. Wirth planned the victory in the Gulf War. But, the biggest sidetrack and connections I wish upon my journeys is, to connect us to one another again. Wishing we all can see each other as much as Fred and Barney did, which my Uncle Al helped bring about.

Whistling in the Pines at Double Trouble State Park

This week I traveled to Double Trouble in Berkley, NJ deep in the Pines. This was the home to a lumber and cranberry operation. The town was named for the fact that muskrats breached a local dam twice in one week.

The Double Trouble Historic Village was originally a cranberry farm and packing plant. The Double Trouble Company was formed by Edward Crabbe in 1909 to sell timber, millwork products, and cranberries. Many sawmills have been in the town since the mid-18th century. The village consists of cranberry bogs and fourteen restored historic structures dating from the late 19th century through the early 20th century including a general store, a schoolhouse, and houses. The sawmill was restored in 1995, and the cranberry sorting and packing house were completed in 1996.

Here is a little light flute from that day:

 

A Bike Ride to Hammond Castle and Tales of Tesla and Mark Twain

Hello everyone,
Here is another amazing place I have been to this month. It is Hammond Castle in the Magnolia section of Gloucester, MA. It was inspired by a failed attempt to take over the Transvaal area of South Africa before the Boer War, an ass-kicking, and a possible lynching that the ever-interesting Mark Twain stopped.

John Hammond Sr. was a geologist working for Cecil Rhodes who created Apartheid and the nation Rhodesia. After their failure in that revolt and near death, John the father was recuperating in England as his son ran around playing in the ruins of castles. He liked this activity so much he brought many of the ruins back himself to build his own. Castle, not ruin.

In time Mark Twain would meet Nikola Tesla and bring him north out of the fancy restaurants in NYC and introduce him to the Hammonds. John Hammond Jr. was so enamored by Tesla he wrote for some time trying to get the famous inventor to create the Tesla-Hammond Wireless Electric Company. In the end, after some psychic experiments, the Hammonds would screw Tesla over with the father investing heavily in copper to make wire for utility companies to hang from telephone poles crushing Tesla dreams of free electricity and his son robbing him of expired patents which would make his fortune with remote control missiles and boats.

Either way, it is a cool mansion you should check out!

Hammond castle and Chris DowginHamond Castle doorhammond Castle towerHammond Castle arcade and Ocean viewHammond Castlehammond Castle