Drive, Pro Football HoF and William McKinley

Trip Start Apr 05, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
HI Express Akron and HI Downtown Buffalo

Flag of United States  , Ohio
Sunday, May 19, 2013

I need to start this blog on Friday night, May 17.  I had just come home from playing 36 holes of golf (I know, you're feeling sorry for me already).  Anyway I was looking forward to a hot shower and a good night's sleep before heading out to Canton, Ohio on Saturday morning.  

Sandy said, "We don't have any hot water.  Do you think the pilot light might be out?"  I told her more than likely with our home being 16-17 year old, the water heater shot craps.  Sure enough when I got to the basement, water was leaking out of the heater (fortunately into a nearby drain), and the heater was making some terrible hissing and dripping sounds.  Most of you know how mechanically minded I am (NOT!), so I immediately called William Masters.  We have a contract with them to do stuff like this because I can't!  The guy walked me through turning off the heater, the gas and the hot water...frankly, I'm surprised I could do that!  

He said they could be out tomorrow at 11:00 with a new one.  Done!  Except now I had to sleep and drive from Bloomington, Illinois to Canton, Ohio having played two rounds of golf and slept without taking a shower.  It was that or call Holiday Inn Express and rent a room!  Or I could have done what we used to do at my cousin Gary's house where my brother and I would spend a week during the summer...they actually pumped water out of the well, poured some in a large tub and then heated more on the stove before combining the water to take a bath.  I can't even imaging doing that now.  Anyway, that's how the weekend started.

After packing and sleeping.  I got up and headed toward Canton, Ohio, after first dropping off Kevin at his Pony Baseball game.  I headed east of course.  I know this route well.  I took it many times when I was at ISU and Sandy was at the U of I.  And now there's one of my favorite golf courses in Urbana...Stone Creek.  Love playing it.  

I saluted my Dad and yea, I guess, my biological father too, both buried in the cemetery right along US 150 and I-74 near Lake of the Woods.  Passed all the familiar towns.  

I mostly listened to Satelite Radio.  Lots of good channels...50's of 5, 60's on 6, 70's on 7, 17 - love songs, 32 - The Blend, and occasionally, 56 - Willie's Roadhouse for both kinds of music...Country AND Western!  I love singing along.  I have always been fortunate enough to be able to sing well.  I may have told you the story of when I was in kindergarten (if I have, skip this part!) and a guy came and asked us to sing into a tape recorder...reel to reel type.  I sang "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier."  The guy came to our house a few weeks later and apparently wanted to take me to Hollywood to be the next kid singing sensation. Mom declined.  Well, she either ruined my Hollywood singing career or saved me from some pervert who preyed on little kids....guess we'll never know!  At any rate, I have always been able to sing.  From singing duets in church as kids with cousin Debbie Mullen, to the Singing Generals at Grant Jr. High, to A Capella and All City Choir in High School and three years of Men's Glee Club in college.  I'm relegated now to an occasional karaoke night or just whaling away in the car by myself!  Always fun and a good way to pass the time and the miles!  It seems to me that certain songs evoke specific memories of your life...."Can't Help Falling In Love With You" by Elvis for example that we had sung at our wedding, always brings back some great memories.

Pretty soon I was in Indiana.  Didn't stop at the Beef House...actually never been there, but they have great food.  I was waiting until I got closer to Indy.  

The Wabash River was pretty high I noticed as I crossed over it.  And then Turkey Run evoked some memories of some good canoeing adventures.  

As we neared Indy, I could wait no longer.  White Castle on the right!  I stopped.  Sandy hates them.  I crave them.  I can't stop there if she's in the car.  Four sliders, fries and a coke, I gassed up,  (Pun intended? No, happy accident!....with credit to Big Bang Theory).  

Going through Indy around Noon (Eastern Time).  Speaking of Noon, reminded me that a read recently that fewer and fewer men (in particular) are wearing watches nowadays.  That's because they always have their cell phones with them and the cell phones always have the time on the front.  Easier than wearing a watch.  I'm guessing women wear it more as jewelry than men, but not sure about that.  Random thoughts of a man who's been on the road for 3-4 hours!!! Does anyone know the best way to get through Indy if going on I-70?   The way my Garmin sent me was several miles of stop and go before hitting 70.  Never sure that's the best way.  Open to suggestions!  

Huge traffic back-up (maybe 5 miles long) just East of Indy.  Glad I'm not heading that way that way today.  Passed the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and the "Warm Glow" factory outlet store.  

Eastern Indiana turns from farmland to rolling hills and a lot more stands of trees.  

I seem to have this strange curiosity about things I see along the road.  For example, where did the Catawba River in Eastern Ohio get its name?  Ever wonder that, or am I the only one with weird thoughts like that?  Don't answer that!  Strange word Catawba...turns out it's an Indian Tribe from the Carolinas...who knew?  Not me.  How about this?  Who was John Bryan of John Bryan State Park in Eastern Indiana?  Turns out he was the CEO of Sara know the cakes and cookies people...and he donated a lot of money to preserve the land in the area, so they named the State Park after him?  Now, tell me you knew that?  Me neither before I looked it up.  

Then there are some great signs out her on the highways and byways of America.  For example, I saw one just outside of Ashland, Ohio, sort of welcoming you to Ohio.   It said, "The World Headquarters of Nice People."  Now, who thought that up?  Gotta love it!!!

Made it to Akron, Ohio, just 15 miles from Canton.  Checked in...HI Express and first thing had a hot shower!!!  Then it was dinner.  I like to eat a local places rather than chains when I'm on the road.  I make exceptions, of course, but generally if we have one in Bloomington/Normal, I try not to eat there.  Found a great steak place in downtown Canton called Benders.  I forgot to pack slacks, so called to see if either shorts or jeans were OK.  Fine.  I passed right by destinations for tomorrow on the way...Pro Football Hall of Fame and President William McKinley's gravesite.  And then got a surprise that this is also home to the "First Ladies National Historic Site."  Would love to see it, but it's not open tomorrow.  

Bender's was great.  It is the oldest Tavern in Canton, Ohio. Very old sign outside that I had to take a picture said, "Bender's Men's Restaurant."  Interesting.  Legend has it that discussions on the NFL Pro Football League and later that Hall of Fame took place in the upstairs dining room of Benders.  What a great way to begin my tour of the Hall of Fame tomorrow.  

Dinner was great.  Bloody Mary, six oysters on the half shell, tomatoes with Roquefort cheese, basil, parsley, red onions and homemade Italian dressing...excellent.  Ribeye steak and Brussels sprouts with Parmesan cheese...outstanding!  (Here's anothe's spelled Brussels...not "brussel" sprouts because the cruciferous vegetable we eat today was first widely grown in Brussels Belgium....and another one...cruciferous...where did that come from?  Turns out it's from the flower of all the cruciferous vegetable plants.  The flower is in the shape of a cross...cross, as in what Christ was "crucified" on and thus cruciferous!  I knew you wanted to know!!!  Please bear with me through these tangets on which I seem to enjoy going!!!  Geez!!!

Home, blog, bed and more tomorrow....can't wait for the HOF and William McKinley's gravesite!     

Up for free breakfast, then on to the Prof Fooball Hall of Fame.  Great museum.  I have now been to the big three...Baseball, Basketball and Football Hall of Fame.  I took some great pictures of the building (Walter Payton on the front), cost was $17 (including $1 off for Sr. Discount, thank you!)  It's a great tribute to professional football.  They have busts of every HOF member.  Lots of videos and then they take you into a small auditorium and show a very loud abbreviated replay of the 2013 Super Bowl.  I am sure Bryan would love this place!  

I spent about three hours at the HOF, and had just enough time for a cold drink and bio stop before the William McKinley Memorial and Gravesite.  It's only about a half mile from the HOF.  It's located in a park setting.  108 steps lead to the mausoleum of the 25th President of the United States, interrupted only by a large (9 ft) statue of President McKinley.  The statue is from a photograph taken of McKinley about an hour before he was assassinated.  The inside is very pretty,  It's a double dome with the sarcophagi of President McKinley and his wife, Ida together under one single piece of green granite.  The skylight has 45 stars in it, depicting how many states were in the union when McKinley was President.  Beautiful.  Both his daughters, neither of which lived to the age of 5 are buried along the back wall. There were lots of people running the 108 steps for thanks!  And kids were sliding down the 3 foot wide sides of the walkway...sort of neat!  

Went to the museum next door.  It was OK.  History lesson...William McKinley was elected twice as President, first in 1896, defeating a man I share a birthday with, William Jennings Bryan, and again in 1900 defeating Bryan again.  McKinley was a Civil War officer, entering as a corporal and leaving as a Brevet Major.  He was the last of the Presidents who served in the Civil War.  He was a Congressman and Governor of Ohio before becoming President.  He was President during the Spanish-American War.  Interestingly, McKinley was assassinated in the town I am heading to next, Buffalo, NY, during the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo by an anarchist named Leon Czolgosz.  Reports say McKinley probably would have survived if not for poor medical attention. 

 His memorial was dedicated six years later and he and Ida, who died in 1907 were permanently laid to rest there along with their daughters.  President Teddy Roosevelt (McKinley's VP) spoke at the dedication.   It was a neat stop!

I was shortly on my way to Buffalo, NY.  

Checked into my hotel (HI Downtown) and headed to a place called Anchor Bar.  Ever hear of it?  Probably not.  Well, they INVENTED Buffalo, Buffalo Wild Wings did not!  They started them in the 1960s...and to think they are responsible for an entire industry in the world of bar food.  Great place...10 medium and Buffalo fries and they even had MGD...I must be in heaven.  

I'll sign off this epistle now...sorry it's so long!   Tomorrow the grave site of the President with the strangest  name!   Any guesses?????

Take care my friends and family!


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David Matheis on

Uncle Dave, love the side notes of history throughout the blog. Keep em coming.
I would like to add that thanks to the History Channel's "Men Who Built America" I learned about the "titans of industry" (Rockefeller, Carnegie, JP Morgan) and how they backed/financed McKinley to defeat William Jennings Bryan in the election of 1896 out of fear WJB would break up their trusts and monopolies. The success of putting McKinley in power was short-lived, however, because another populist reformer, Teddy Roosevelt, was making his way up the rankings and serving as governor of New York pushed forth an anti-trust agenda. The country's elites then made a decision that would soon backfire in 1901 when they pressed McKinley to add Roosevelt as VP and knowing the thankless and powerless Vice President position would allow them to keep him under control. It seemed to work well but never considered McKinley would get assassinated and Teddy Roosevelt would then take over the big chair. Talk about shooting themselves in the foot!

dblegldave on

Thanks David! Great historical insight!!! You really learned something there! Them mentioned Roosevelt not being first choice for VP for McKinley's second term....they were probably hoping the same thing would happen to him that happend to his first VP...he died in office!!!! Thanks for commenting! All the best...Uncle David

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