Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 229

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 229

…It may have been fun to witness from the ground, but there is no way I am going to crash a perfectly good airplane…

Photo by Richard Lund

Photo by Richard Lund

Samuel Goldwyn Jr. swoops in to provide an up-to-the-minute update on what it’s like out in the stadium proper, “The place is packed Connie girl. Billy has just knocked their socks off with his sermon set-up. Man, can that man get a crowd riled up!”

He loves the good theater, provided by a good man, right out the pages of the Good Book.

“It’s time to saddle up. The filmed interviews are rolling as I speak… and I might add Ace old boy, that plane crash of yours? Worth the price of admission!! Any time you want to do that again, for more movie footage, me or my dad would love to film it.”

CrashLanding

“I just got the Angel back in the air and Billy is getting tired of bus rides, so I will take a pass.”

“How about our plane and no passengers…?”

“No, no and did I mention absolutely not!? It may have been fun to witness from the ground, but there is no way I am going to crash a perfectly good airplane.

“I was just saying,” you can’t blame a guy for trying. “But seriously, we need to get those carriages out into the good-light, which is perfect this time of the day!”

The time has come to enter the coliseum, an arena of battle where good and evil are on a collision course. It isn’t often that neither side in a conflict knows exactly what the other is planning. Like enemy submarines patrol the same water, trying to be as quiet as possible, even in normal conversation, lest they give away their position or tip off what they have planned.

The only being who knows what is going on is God Himself, and maybe a couple angels. Everybody else is just ???guessing???


Constance Caraway P.I.

 

Forever Mastadon


page 193 (end Ch. 19)

Overrated! – WIF 10 Cent Travel

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World’s Most

Overrated Cities

The urban environment is powerful and evocative, reflective of the people, places and times that saw the construction of specific communities. Cities can be iconic, but they can also be overrated. They say you should never meet your heroes, but in this list, you might come to the conclusion that it’s equally unwise to visit your favorite cities. They may not live up to your lofty expectations after all…

You may or may not agree with me. This is just one traveler’s opinion. It could be I had:

  1. one lumpy mattress,
  2. two bad taxi rides or
  3. three  bad meals.

10. Paris

Paris may be iconic for its Eiffel Tower, culture, and architecture, and for being a romantic and meaningful place to get away. However, Paris is reputed to be overrated, so we’re going to check out the somewhat startling facts about this exceptionally famous French metropolis. Referred to as the City of Love or the City of Lights, Paris does have a variety of most famous human artifacts to appreciate or places to check out that are of historic or cultural fame and significance. Paris even has its own Disneyland. While seen as romantic and a place of love, Paris in fact might ironically be defined as a place to get lonely. Yes, there is much to appreciate architecturally and in the form of art and culture but Paris is well known as a place where bids for politeness do not constitute the highest priority in day to day life.

Paris has actually suffered the fate of being voted no less than Europe’s most overrated city, topping the list due to its unfriendliness. Visitors have often complained about unduly curt or unwelcoming treatment by locals. While Paris is a dream destination for foreign visitors around the world, it seems that becoming tired of serving foreigners without perfect French is an attitude clearly conveyed by enough Parisians. Apparently condescending attitudes and bluntness are ubiquitous in Paris to the point where visitors may not only feel disappointed but downright depressed. Finding that Paris does not measure up has created such severe symptoms as to be labelled as Paris Syndrome.

9. Rome

The Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain. In iconic Rome, Italy, the list goes on, and there’s plenty to see for those interested in some more modern history too. The Vatican is also a stone’s throw away. While the famous ancient city does have remarkable architectural sites that are rich in history of religious, civic, and political significance, as well as being the scene of great conflict and drama, Rome itself is a place that one might say has seen better days in some regards. The ruins of ancient structures in Rome have been preserved for visitors but unfortunately, a number of modern amenities have come to resemble a less appealing version of what might be called another form of ruins.

Despite a steady injection of funds through tourist dollars, work to improve problematic transportation, sanitation, and municipal infrastructure shortcomings in Rome have lagged exceptionally. As money keeps coming in and the city remains crowded with tourists, a lack of efficiency and even strikes have left much to be desired, to put things mildly. Remarkably, sanitation problems, including garbage being left to the point of mass overflow, led to threats of European Union sanctions. Furthermore, visitors have complained about disreputable conduct from touts taking on the roles of taxi drivers, cash exchangers, and guides. Rome might attract millions of visitors yearly, but the city suffers some of Europe’s lowest repeat visit rates.

8. Sydney

The iconic Sydney Opera House of Sydney, Australia is so famous that one might say it is touted rather than simply promoted. Images of Sydney are also so curiously focused on the Down Under city’s famous opera house that you might make that image and the general character of the city synonymous in your imagination. However, the fact that the Sydney Opera House is such a focal point of the city’s depictions might hint, to the analytical mind, that perhaps this is the case because there is really little else that is all that remarkable in Sydney. Furthermore, the opera house itself is so overrated that the entire presentation begins to fall upon critical inspection.

The design of the opera house is the work of Danish architect Jørn Utzon, who won the contest to design it out of 233 contestants in 1956, with construction beginning in 1959 and lasting 14 years instead of the originally anticipated four years. Despite the fantastical appearance of the Sydney Opera House, the acoustics have presented many problems and it has not been the world star venue it was intended to become. With the acoustics of the opera house being widely criticized, makeshift solutions have often had to be sought due to some parts of the building being too big and others too small. The pit in the opera theatre has been identified as too small, causing acoustic difficulties, with the concert hall being overly large, causing sound to get lost. Interestingly, Australian music magazine Limelight gave the opera theatre the worst rating for acoustics out of 20 venues of significance, while giving 18th place to the concert hall.

7. London

London, England has a history going back to the Roman Empire with everything from sites of Royal interest at Buckingham Palace, Big Ben as a monument for the most die-hard clock fans, those infamous red double decker buses, and perhaps the odd unexploded German bomb lying somewhere waiting to be discovered, decades past the rabid fighting of World War II. The largest city in England and the United Kingdom, the capital of England suffers pollution in the Thames that was once so bad people were dying from it, and air pollution had the same effect by a different means of causing ill-health. Despite the mix of grandeur and squalor, visitors to London may find themselves disappointed by the crowding and also the lack of friendliness despite being surrounded by people, as London has the questionable distinction of being voted the second most unfriendly city worldwide.

Then there’s the sometimes garish and disjointed modern construction that has grown up in the city. While historic squalor and wartime damage have been definitive events in London’s history, visitors will be surprised by how iconic traditional buildings and perceptions of English culture and architecture in London are dwarfed by modern architecture. The skyline of London definitely appears rather random, with buildings in the financial district described in comparison to a cheese grater, a scalpel, and a walkie-talkie in some prominent examples.

6. New York City

New York City may not be the political capital of the United States but the grand city is certainly the de facto financial capital of America (and some might argue the world). With such iconic elements portrayed in popular culture, literature, news, movies, and daily discourse, New York occupies a larger than life place in the minds of the American public and further. Those who live there know what it is like, but first time travelers may be in for a disappointment upon actually arriving.

From 1785 to 1790, New York was actually America’s capital city. In recent history, the tragic 9/11 attacks represented the single worst incident to strike any North American city. While many cities are destinations for visitors, there has been a surprisingly significant level of effort — to the point of sacrificing comfort — just for the sake of living in New York City. Due to grand real estate costs, living in tiny, overpriced, and sometimes substandard accommodations has become commonplace. For visitors, sites such as the Empire State Building, Wall Street, and Statue of Liberty are certainly icons of great interest, but the actual city will produce a feeling of being dwarfed by two things. These are the enormity of the buildings, crowds, and traffic-jammed streets, and the enormity of the tab run up to stay in the city.

5. Shanghai

Shanghai is so well known that it has become an almost clichéd stand-in for popular imaginations of the People’s Republic of China. Yet while Shanghai is an important Chinese city with enormous economic, historical, and cultural significance, it is a city with a significant legacy of influence by Western culture and hotspots of past east and west conflict. Known for its modern towers, including the aptly named Shanghai Tower, and a myriad of modern architectural wonders, Shanghai is also defined by “The Bund” — a block of iconic European colonial buildings now repurposed for a variety of uses. Yes, Shanghai may feel too “westernized,” a valid perception based on the composition of the city by those seeking the “real China.” It certainly is the place to get coffee and hamburgers in China.

While modern architectural creations may define the Shanghainese skyline, the “waterline” of Shanghai is largely defined at its most famous points by these magnificent but undeniably foreign European buildings, the work of “Laowai” — or foreigners — in China. The foreign presence in China has been a tumultuous one, with many flash points relating to trade and attempts at colonization. So, why is Shanghai perhaps overrated as a place to experience China? While interesting, there are many other places, such as Xi’an in Shaanxi province, with the Terra Cotta Warriors close by, remote hill forests in Sichuan and incredibly spicy cuisine, ancient temples in Henan province, and of course the many access points to the Great Wall that more accurately reflect traditional Chinese culture over a more Westernized one.

4. Rio de Janeiro

Depicted in countless movies and artistic images, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil is known for being located below the huge Christ the Redeemer art deco statue that contrasts with the extraordinary natural features of Rio de Janeiro combining steep hills, the sea, and perched buildings. The world famous statue constructed above the city is 98-feet tall with a 92-foot arm span, built on the 2,300-foot tall Corcovado Mountain in Tijuca Forest National Park. While famous for everything from car race hosting to nightlife and urban tourism, Rio de Janeiro is actually not so great to look at once you are down amongst the buildings, many of them generic in architectural form, lacking a sense of place, and often run down.

While Rio is often promoted as a center of culture, activity, and interest for travelers in search of a lively and exotic destination, the Brazilian city is becoming a hotbed of criminal activity. Crime rates have risen so drastically that violence is feared throughout the city, costing an immense number of tourism dollars. People are becoming smart enough to stay away from many parts of Rio much of the time, to the point where lost revenue in the year 2017 totaled an incredible $200 million.

3. Barcelona

Spain is both renowned for positive cultural aspects, notorious for being host to events with which many people do not approve (including bullfighting), and as the site of a brutal civil war in its 19th century history. With all of the complexity and intrigue of Spanish architecture and historic and modern culture, Barcelona is a famous destination that draws visitors globally every year, but something is clearly wrong when disappointment follows the arrival of the discerning traveler. What exactly is the problem with Barcelona? While the city is a cultural icon, the true Spanish cultural experience has unfortunately been, shall we say, diluted by the emergence of an extraordinary quantity of tourist traps replacing a quality experience.

At the same time, overcrowding of this already highly populated parcel of Spain is making additional visitors face immense challenges in simply getting around to see the place once they’ve arrived. Esteemed Spanish writer extraordinaire Miguel de Cervantes put the praise of Barcelona into the mouth of his fictional character Don Quixote, describing the city as nothing less than a “fountain of courtesy, shelter of strangers, hospice to the poor, land of the valiant, avenger of the offended, reciprocation of firm friendship, a city unique in its location and beauty.” Yet the crowded-ness of the city and tendency for many people to treat it as a short stop interestingly leads many people to be less responsible given that they will be in the area for a limited time, further adding to the aggravation many visitors experience.

2. Athens

Afforded near mythical status for being so ancient and the place where countless Greek Gods and Goddesses are described as having their origins, Athens is a richer place in history and culture than it is today in the flesh — or rather, in the brick and mortar. While the development of ancient democracy, philosophy, and faiths in a place where such famous humans such as Socrates and deities such as Zeus and Venus have their claim is bound to make Athens a revered site in popular imagination, there is much to disappoint, according to some visitors. The city of the Acropolis and other impressive architecture actually consists of vast arrays of run-down buildings that are often crowded together without very much shade in many areas. The Acropolis itself is known for being less spectacular and archaeologically, architecturally, and historically pristine than is popularly imagined.

Try to get to it, and you could be turned back by heat due to the barren nature of the grounds where the ancient relics stand, and monumental levels of overcrowding. Add that to the sometimes suffocating air pollution that Athens experiences. Upon arrival at the Acropolis, the scaffolding significantly takes away from appreciation of the architecture, creating the feel of a construction site. While ancient people built the monumental sites expediently, modern repair works have taken decades and still remain underway, resulting in not only scaffolding but all manner of construction equipment anti-climatically lying about the grounds of the most iconic structures of Athens.

1. Amsterdam

World famous Amsterdam. This city is an active metropolitan area situated on flat land, including areas that have had to be reclaimed from the ocean. Subject to flooding, massive urban construction has required more than just a little engineering to be sustainable. Amsterdam may be geographically flat and lacking in mountains, but it has been viewed as a place of where people can get high in the drug use sense without fear of legal reprisals. So-called “coffee shops” function more as marijuana lounges in Amsterdam, where use of the almost universally banned drug is tolerated by the authorities.

Furthermore, red light district activities draw more than a fair share of visitors, since prostitution is legal. However, a variety of issues, as well as a simple lack of interest when it comes to more standard comforts, render Amsterdam a place that is not just overrated but leaving something to be desired when it comes to mainstream human comforts.Amsterdam’s food is lagging behind the attention given to the marijuana focused “coffee shops,” being monotonous and simple for the most part, while the architecture of the coastal city is less than spectacular in many instances, with exceptionally plain construction defining much of the municipal jurisdiction.


Overrated! –

WIF 10 Cent Travel

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 207

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 207

the Illinois speed traps were sneakily placed, while the unlucky deer was spending his evening hours chasing after a doe.

Speed Trap

“We will race back to see how things are shaking in Chi Town,” Race rhymes with Ace.

Constance rhymes with constant, “Let’s get back in one piece.”Deer Crossing

This time Highway 20 will see them back to home base, but not before acquiring two unwanted speeding tickets and colliding with an amorous White Tail buck; the Illinois speed traps were sneakily placed, while the deer was spending his evening hours chasing after a doe. The Buick Roadmaster is a 4415 pound vehicle so the deer barely leaves a mark, but the traffic violations mean that Ace will be making June trips, back to Jo Daviess and Boone counties.

 

When they do gain the expansive Cook County, a new morning has dawned. The roads and streets leading to the U of C are welcoming and more familiar than those of the past two weeks.Libby Dead or Alive-001

Homecomings, even to temporary homes, give the sojourners great comfort. 6137 Kimbark is just as they had left it, with the noticeable remixing of Willard Libby, who is hidden no more and basking in the positive reviews from Graham crusaders, longtime colleagues and educated citizenry. He has rekindled the national debate surrounding the divergent issues of creation and evolution.

Libbyites-001The man, who spawned the people known as the Libbyites, admits to being a changed man, like a new incarnation of his former self. From inside the Graham Crusades, this scientist has bridged the intellectual gap that has always existed between science and religion, a not small task in the face of prejudicial professional bias.

Without intentionally searching for it, Willard knows what it’s like to be a part of revival.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 173

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 205

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 205

…Constance interrupts the frisky librarian’s fantasy before it can get out from behind the research desk…

Interrupted

Ace’s hitherto humble homebody aficionada takes a closer look at Constance’s intensity, conveniently ignoring exactly what she means.

Man ‘O Meter Art by Bill Frymire

“They are leaving Cedar Rapids and are headed to the Mississippi River. Then, they are to catch a paddle wheeler to the Twin Cities.” He sees the two women in a private discussion, accidentally stepping all over his own territorial rights. “Do you have any suggestions about how to intercept them on the way to Minnesota? Can we get there from here?”

“My family is from Mankato (MN),” Sarah’s man-o-meter is spiking into the red. “I could show you the way Mr. Bannion. I have some time off scheduled for next week. The crocuses should be blooming right now and I need to help plan a family reunion… let me get a road atlas, the new 1951 Edition…”

Constance interrupts that fantasy before it can get out from behind the research desk.

We have our reliable State Farm road map and we really must be going! We need to pick up our things in Eagle and check out of ­our motel and bid Polly Pabst farewell…”

Can’t a librarian dream a little?

Leaving Cooney is exactly what they (Ace & Constance) do, by heading due west to Prairie du Chien, with intent to deliver a radical religious recipe for demonic demotion, in the form of a lambskin scroll, to Billy Graham. Just how far the preacher will go to put the ancient script into action remains to be seen, but for the two temporary Wisconsin citizens, the end justifies the means, even if it meant braving a lusting librarian.

—United States interregional highways are improving, albeit slowly, but the need for a nationwide roadway plan is recognized and in the works. The issue of national defense is the driving force behind these logistical studies—

They could use a superhighway about now.

US Highway 18 will take away from Oconomowoc and provide them a concrete pathway, through the rolling hills, past the Wisconsin state capitol of Madison and out to the mouth of the Wisconsin River, where it empties into the Mighty Mississippi.


Constance Caraway P.I.

long road2

Forever Mastadon


page 172

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 201

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 201

…”I can open it,” Constance reaches into her purse, acquires the proper tool-of-her-trade and it gives way easily…

From their home base in the Town of Eagle, Constance and Ace Bannion head off to meet their tour guide from Milwaukee, a lower level Armour executive that has access to Danforth through his ongoing financial dealings with Patrick Anderson Valentine II. The younger Valentine has no tangible need for the once vibrant P.D. Armour Estate. The upkeep is killing him.

The previously immaculately kept grounds are now overgrown and undistinguished. The 75+ room mansion has been stripped of its appointments by Armour and Valentine relatives who did not share in the ten million dollar will/estate of either family bequeathing.

But as cavernously empty the building is, there seems to be something or someone lingering about. No, it is not that bitter coldness that Pentateuch has need of, or his lingering smell of burning hair & flesh, but there is definitely some sort of “presence”.

“Has anyone ever told you, or have you heard, that this place is haunted,” her investigative skills kicking in, Constance steps lightly through room after room, until on the third floor. She nears a particular room. That isDark locked, “Here, in here!”

“I have no idea what is in there, but the door is locked,” the guide explains. “I believe this was Mrs. Valentine’s sewing room.”

“It’s only a skeleton (key), I can open it,” she reaches into her purse, acquires the proper tool-of-her-trade and it gives way easily. The unused and un-oiled door opens slowly, revealing a room that has not been touched in decades. Cobwebs drape from wall to ceiling and ceiling to furnishings. There is a cradle in the corner, which appears to be rocking back and forth, empty and dusty.

The rooms natural light is short and outside noises are squelched by heavy drapery, yet there is single shaft of light, seemingly without origin, streaming onto a large book….

question mark

“What’s in the book?”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Stay tuned-001

Forever Mastadon


page 169

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 200

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 200

… I would have been foolish not to take advantage of the name branding of my family…

The newest visitors to SE Wisconsin have allotted one full day of getting familiar with the lay of the land (and lakes) and several varied combinations of Polly Pabst meals and country wisdom. Over liters and quarts of caffeine fortified coffee, they get answers to their most prominent questions…

“The name “Pabst” is everywhere around here, are you…” Connie begins to place people to places and places to history.

“Yep. I used to run away from it, unlike my brother Davey, who loves the family business and racing cars. But when I opened this diner, I would have been foolish not to take advantage of the name branding.

“I saw the Pabst Blue Ribbon neon sign in the window.” Ace has been known to sample adult malted beverages on occasion, so Pabst Beer has passed by his lips before.

“I don’t live out at the mansion. I have a small house nearby.”

“We took a long drive,” he uses hand signals, “counterclockwise around Oconomowoc Lake and Pabst Farms is the first thing you run into. You know, I didn’t know that cows made beer.”

“What else do you do with 1200 acres, Ace? Hops do not grow well above the 40th parallel, but corn and dairy cattle do nicely.

“There isn’t a better area in the country, it has it all; fresh water, oak forests, fertile soil, friendly people and all this only 30 miles from a major city like Milwaukee.”

“God certainly outdid Himself here, that is for sure,” adds Constance from her two day perspective. “I don’t know if we mentioned it, but we are going to get a tour of Danforth Lodge tomorrow. I hear that it is magnificent.”

Polly has perspective of her own, having grown up in a moneyed family, with a long storied legacy, “That is a good example of what happens when the patriarch senior, then junior get older and all that ostentatious construction makes less and less sense; the kids sell off and divide up the riches, without mom or dad to make a fuss. After Valentine took over Danforth, the luster of the Roaring Twenties and the money island that brought them through the Depression had faded into the past. Property like that just doesn’t make sense any more.”

“You are a bright woman, Polly, I’m impressed. What keeps you tucked away in Eagle?”

“I am tucked, but productive. You may not realize it, but we cater far more food, to wedding and banquets, than we serve out here. There are twenty people in the back getting ready for a party this weekend.”

“This building must be bigger than it looks!”

“It used to be a textile factory, an example of the shrinking manufacturing base in the United States.”

She may be tucked away, but an entrepreneurial treasure nonetheless.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 168

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 199

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 199

…”Ajax Caraway, that definitely has a ring to it,” therein lays the root of Constance still being single…

“What is the Saturday Special?”

“Hasenpfeffer stew,” counters Polly Pabst.

“What kind of stew is that?”

“German for good, let’s go dear, it’s…I’ll explain it in the car…we’ll be seeing you again Polly.” Ace predicts that they will be back. “Did you ever have a pet rabbit?”

“No, we had a parakeet.”

“Then order the meat loaf, if they have it”Luft's-001

Not far down the road, tucked into a lightly forested foothill, they locate Luft’s Route 67 Inn. It is a “motel” by every definition: 10 or so rooms on ground level, each with their own door.

The kindly innkeeper takes their money and passes a register Ace’s way. Mr. and Mrs. Caraway are now official, if not unofficially married guests in Eagle, in the short time before heading into Cooney (Oconomowoc’s  odd nickname).

“Ajax Caraway, that definitely has a ring to it,” therein lays the root of Constance still being single. If she could figure out a way to keep her surname, maybe she could bridge that commitment disconnect.

Once you wing your way north out of Eagle, the terrain flattens out, carved smooth by ice age glaciers. The forests thin out, exposing acres of corn fields and large fenced in pastures that nourish hundreds of Holsteins, the four-legged machines whose milk help make this America’s Dairyland.

pabst-farms-signIf your destination is Oconomowoc Lake, you never do make it to the city proper, having to veer off of Hwy. 67 to less obvious road choices. Bodies of water dictate where roads go and if you come upon a fork in that road, you are given the opportunity to make a wrong turn.

To the right, you will pass away from the lake and the fields of Pabst Farms, 1500 acres of working agriculture that acts as a buffer zone; the Pabst family and Al Capone’s lawyer are tucked away on sprawling acreage.

Hang a left and you will soon see the waters of one of the cleanest fresh water lakes in the state. Sure, the winter’s ice is still floating off shore, but the Caraways can understand why this hidden gem is the destination for meat packers, brewery owners and gangsters; Armour, Miller, Uihlein and Capone; mansion after mansion line the hills along Beach Road, which runs along the western shore.

Right before you round the corner again, just as Ace’s friend’s directions say, P.A. Valentine’s Danforth Lodge sits high above, the royal landlord to the rest of the lake’s residences.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Oconomowoc Lake Club

Forever Mastadon


page 167