President James A Garfield’s Home in Mentor, OH, Geneva State Park, Geneva-on-the-Lake and Better-N-Bulk Foods & Deli

8/9/13 Friday at Jefferson, OH (Kenisee Lake-TT)

John had a brilliant idea for getting to Decatur with less miles and fun places to camp, but it requires using the ROD parks. I called our home park to be sure we could start reservations, only to find out that something was wrong with the application form they sent to ROD. They said they’ll call back.

We were feeling like we needed to “get out of Dodge”, so we took off for Mentor, OH, to see President Garfield’s Home.

It’s even a National Park Service site, so our Senior Pass got us in free. We arrived at 11:30, so we thought we’d have our picnic lunch right after checking out the Visitor Center. Well, they had a movie starting very soon, then the guided tour started at noon, so we did those first.

IMG_1325James A Garfield. We learned that Garfield had been a teacher, college principal (1857), minister (1857-8), Ohio state legislator (1859). When the Civil War began, he was made Lieutenant Colonel of the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, that was just being formed, with NO military training. But he read. A lot. He’d also gone to high school (Western Reserve Eclectic Institute), then college (Williams College in Massachusetts, with honors). He was the last president to have been born in a log cabin and had the rough ways of a frontiersman until he began his years in Massachusetts. So his bright mind and hard work paid off in this appointment in the War. Given brigade command in 1862, he won minor victories in Kentucky and was promoted.

Front porch of his home
IMG_1356

back of home

Back of home

IMG_1354windmill that provided all their water

gas holder builder, where the natural gas there provided power for their farm and home

Gas holder builder, where the natural gas there provided power for their farm and home

Front parlor-renovated to look just like a painting of that room

Front parlor-renovated to look just like a painting of that room

In the fall of 1862 these victories let to his election to the House of Representatives. He stayed with the army until Congress convened in Dec 1863, working there for 17 years. During that time he managed the country’s finances, reduced government spending, and fought inflation. He also pushed for civil service reform to end abuses of the patronage system. He was elected to the Senate in 1880.

The Republican party asked him to nominate their man (Sherman) at their convention. He did so, but the voting deadlocked over 2 men, so someone nominated Garfield. He had never sought that nomination, but once he got it, he ran with it. He was the first to actively campaign for election to the presidency, from his front porch.

Memorial Library

Memorial Library

Woodwork with animal themes in the Memorial Library

Woodwork with animal themes in the Memorial Library

IMG_1332 IMG_1333

Vault within that room to keep his diaries and speeches safe

Vault within that room to keep his diaries and speeches safe

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His “snuggery” or private room for thinking and writing. He loved to sit in the black chair, letting his legs hang off the short end

His “snuggery” or private room for thinking and writing. He loved to sit in the black chair, letting his legs hang off the short end

IMG_1338His 13 year old daughter had this room. John loves how she had a large sitting room, then the bed in another area. She married Garfield’s secretary) Garfield became the 20th president Nov of 1880, then inaugurated in March 1881. July 1881 he was assassinated (shot in the back by Charles Guiteau, who thought he’d be a hero, because with Garfield dead the Vice President, a “Stalwart” Republican, would become the next president). Mr. Guiteau was tried and hung within a year. The crazy thing is, the doctors (12) all tried to pry the bullet out of his back with their dirty hands, all thinking that Lister’s theories were preposterous. So President Garfield died after 80 days, from infection. He was President for 200 days, including the 80 days after he was shot.

When we had seen all we could there, we enjoyed our picnic on the grounds, then I called back our ROD home park, finding out that we are members and can reserve at their campgrounds. So we did. Now we don’t have to drive 276 miles to Wilmington, then 129 miles to Decatur. Instead, we can drive 29 miles to an ROD park for a week, then back 29 miles to Kenisee for a week, then to another ROD park near the Erie Islands in Ohio (145 miles) then to Decatur (139 miles). SO much better that way! We can see a lot of ROD park visits in our future.

Back on the road again, we got onto I-90 (still lots of construction), only to be caught in a traffic jam. It took about a half hour to clear. At the end we saw the reason: someone had really smashed a small car. Once we cleared that, we saw the exit for Geneva State Park (Ohio State Parks are free to visit) and we decided to check it  out. We enjoyed the beach (I walked barefoot, John kept his tennies on) and a lovely display of local animal pelts by the state naturalist there.

We found out that Geneva-on-the-Lake is a summer resort village, on Lake Erie. Lots of arcades, food, music, a mile long entertainment strip. The Lake was visible through much of our travel to and from that town. As we crossed over I-90, John’s eagle eye spotted a small store we were told about, with Amish goods, bulk dry goods: Better-N-Bulk Foods & Deli. Wow! It was like a candy store for me so many nuts, grains and whole wheat products! Plus great looking cheeses and deli meats. We’ll be coming here some more.

Finally home, we settled in for supper, then went on our walk and welcomed Susan and Bill to the campground. A lovely visit ensued. They are part of the Lewis and Clark group we joined while at Palm Springs. Fun to know so many people in these Thousand Trails parks. Managed to get home for bed by 10 pm.

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About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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