Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jenny Lind, CA & Lind, WI

Jenny Lind was never an American citizen but she made such a memorable impression that both of these communities were named in her honor. Jenny Lind was a famous European opera singer who came to the United States in 1850 to do a two year tour. P.T. Barnum was her promoter and both enjoyed tremendous success to her standing room only performances. Jenny was known as the “Swedish Nightingale” and her ability to hit high F sharps drew crowds of people to her 91 American performances. When she arrived in America, there were over 40,000 people waiting to see a glimpse of her coming off the ship. It is reported that she made over 250,000 dollars while P.T. Barnum probably made 3 times as much. Unlike Barnum, Jenny Lind gave much of her fortunes to charities. She was well known for her philanthropy of funding many schools, hospitals and churches. Today, you can still find American streets named after her and the Jenny Lind beds and cribs are still popular pieces of furniture.

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pie Town, New Mexico

Pie Town, NM – A true pie story

Clyde Norman came to this area in 1922 to open up a mine. To keep his mining efforts alive, Clyde opened up a gas station to supplement his income. Clyde was a great pie maker and started selling his pies to his gas station customers. His pies became so popular with the customers many of the locals who lived in the area referred to his business as “Pie Town”. Clyde teamed up with a local cowboy, Harmon Craig, in 1923. Harmon added his famous chili to the menu and now the gas station was also a restaurant. Clyde sold his part of the business to Harmon in 1924. Harmon’s wife and daughters kept the pies famous and the customers kept coming. In 1927, a post office was added and “Pie Town” became an official town. The town still exists and is located about 160 miles southwest of Albuquerque. The town is small but you can still get a great piece of pie. Every September, the citizens celebrate the “Annual Pie Town Festival”.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Guess who lives in METROPOLIS, ILLINOIS?

Metropolis, IL

Superman Celebration

Who lives in Metropolis? Superman does and if you visit this town you will believe it. You will find the Superman Museum, a giant statue of Superman, and a new statue of Lois Lane. The recently installed Lois Lane statue honors the town’s First Lady, actress Noel Neill. Neill became famous for her role as Lois Lane in the 1950’s Superman TV series. For the past 30 years, Metropolis has hosted the “Superman Celebration” honoring the famous “Man of Steel”. This four day festival includes plenty of fun for everyone. There is a carnival, live entertainment, food, and a Superman costume contest with the winner taking home a $1,000 prize. You will also enjoy a pageant for super girls, super boys, and super dogs. Another great attraction is the celebrity autograph sessions featuring many famous stars of Superman movies and television. Yes, if you are lucky, you can even get a picture and an autograph with Noel Neill, the real Lois Lane!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sa-Dale-Ya, Missouri --- Once the Ragtime Capital

Sedalia, Missouri

Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival

If you remember the music from the movie “The Sting” starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, you have heard the music of Scott Joplin. Joplin was a famous ragtime black musician and composer in the early 1900’s. His music is world renowned and Sedalia, MO was his birthplace. In 1899, Joplin became famous for his musical piece “Maple Leaf Rag”. Within six months Maple Leaf Rag sold over 75,000 copies. However, as the music scene changed so did Joplin’s fame and fortune. In 1917, he died nearly penniless and all but forgotten. In his honor, the community hosts this festival each year. If you would like to enjoy the music or learn an early 20th century dance, this is your venue. Many famous musicians display their talent throughout these days and draw more than 6,000 visitors to this festival.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

It was an Accident - Maryland!

Accident, MD – It was an accident!

In the early 1700’s, George Deakins was given over 600 acres of land in this area by King George II of England. Deakins wanted to plat the land to establish a town. He hired two surveyors and instructed each of them to choose the best location for the town. Deakins and the town citizens studied the findings of both surveyors. To their surprise, each surveyor had chosen the same tree and area of land to plat for their new community. Deakins and the citizens exclaimed this must be an “accident”! Because of this coincidence, both Deakins and the citizens agreed that “accident” surely must be the name for their town. Shortly afterwards, the town became known as “Accident”. Throughout the evolution of naming America’s new towns we find fate, superstition or just plain accidents are responsible for the some of our community names.