Category Archives: people

Frost goes Public

Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” entered the public domain on New Year’s Day. Frost wrote the words in 1922, taking only 20 minutes to pen the well known verse.

As we remain in the realm of the subzero in the Far North, I figured the work would be worth visiting, or revisiting, as the case may be.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

“Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.”

— Robert Frost


Robert Frost


Hobart Amory Hare Baker

Revisiting Hobey Baker:


Hobey Baker in France during WWI

It was the centenary of Hobey Baker’s death on December 21. Considered the greatest hockey player of his era, Baker graduated from Princeton University in 1914. He was one of the first nine players inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, and a charter member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. The annual award for the top U.S. college hockey player, is known as The Hobey Baker Award.

In 1916, Baker joined the civilian aviation corps, and in the summer of 1917, he left for Europe and WWI. In August of 1918, Baker took command of the 141st Aero Squadron. On 21 December 1918, in a heavy rain, Baker took a test flight in a recently repaired Spad biplane, refusing his men’s pleas to take his own plane for the flight instead. A quarter of a mile out, and 600 feet in the air, the engine quit on the Spad. Baker turned the plane, in an attempt to get back to the airfield. The Spad lost altitude, and crashed nose first. Baker was quickly freed from the wreckage by his men, but died within minutes in the ambulance. His orders to return home were in his jacket pocket.

Princeton University’s hockey team recently played Penn State University. Both teams took a field trip to Philadelphia to pay respects to Hobart Baker. Several players left hockey pucks on his headstone. Baker was three weeks shy of his 27th birthday when he died in France.


141st Aero Squadron Insigne: A Princeton Tiger; Courtesy of the National Museum of the USAF

I’ve read several books on Hobey Baker over the years. A new one was recently published. Hobey Baker, Upon Further Review, by Tim Rappleye. I might have to check it out.

—The verse written on Hobey’s headstone:

“You seemed winged, even as a lad,
With that swift look of those who know the sky,
It was no blundering fate that stooped and bade
You break your wings, and fall to earth and die,
I think some day you may have flown too high,
So that immortals saw you and were glad,
Watching the beauty of your spirits flame,
Until they loved and called you, and you came.”


70 Years On:

87 year old Solihull native takes her first ride in a Land Rover.


A teenaged Dorothy Peters and #16

In July 1946, Dorothy Peters went to work at Rover’s Lode Lane Factory. She was only 15 when she first went to work for the company. The first vehicle she worked on was chassis number 16. As in, the 16th Series Land Rover to cross the assembly line.

The now retired Ms Peters, has been a lifelong supporter of the brand, but surprisingly she had never ridden in a Land Rover. Over the years, Peters had dreamed of at least once, driving Solihull’s famous Jungle Track, the off road course that Land Rover tests its vehicles on.

As fate would have it, #16 is now owned by Mike Bishop, Land Rover Classic’s Reborn Engineering Specialist and Heritage Expert. Bishop reunited Peters with #16, and took her for a little spin, Land Rover style. The reunion and visit to Jungle Track can be seen in the following video.


Tom Thomson


Tom Thomson (1877-1917)

Tom Thomson was a prolific artist over his short career. The Canadian painted 400 oil sketches on wood panels, and about 50 larger works on canvas.


Thomson fishing in Algonquin Park

An avid outdoorsman, Thomson spent a lot of time canoeing the waters of eastern Canada. In May of 1912, Thomson visited Algonquin Park in Ontario for the first time. That visit began a love affair that lasted the remainder of his life. It was Algonquin that inspired Thomson to seek out his first sketching tools.


The Canoe, Tom Thomson 1912

As an artist, Thomson was largely self-taught, and did not seriously start to paint until he was in his 30’s. His oil work on small wooden panels made it easy for transport during travels. Much of this work was inspired, or done in Algonquin Park.


Campfire, Tom Thomson, 1916

Thomson’s larger canvas work was mostly completed over the winter months in his Toronto Studio. The studio was an old utility shack, that was heated by a wood stove, located on the grounds of the artist complex The Studio Building. Thomson’s work and notoriety reached a peak between the years of 1914-1917.


The Jack Pine, Tom Thomson, 1916

On July 8 of 1917, Thomson disappeared on a canoe trip on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park. His body was found eight days later floating in the lake. He was buried near Canoe Lake at Mowat Cemetery, although his brother later exhumed his body and brought it to the family plot.

Thomson was known as an honorary member of the Group of Seven. Also known as the Algonquin School, the Group of Seven was collection of Canadian landscape painters from 1920-1933. One member, Lawren Harris, said later, Thomson “was a part of the movement, before we pinned a label on it.”

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Totem on Hayhurst Point

Brazil Lucas and I spent some time on Canoe Lake during the Canadian Excursion. We canoed over to Hayhurst Point, where a memorial cairn stands honoring Thomson. Near the spot where Thomson’s body was recovered, the cairn was erected in September 1917 by J. E. H. MacDonald and John William Beatty.


Tom Thomson Memorial Cairn, Canoe Lake, Algonquin Park, Ontario


Tony Joe White

Tony Joe White passed away suddenly on Thursday of a suspected heart attack. The musician was inspired to pick up a guitar as a teenager when he heard Lightin’ Hopkins for the first time. Known for his “swamp rock” style, White wrote several classics including “Willie and Laura Mae Jones”, “Polk Salad Annie” and “Rainy Night in Georgia”. The latter had been covered by over 100 different artists by the time White turned 30.

In the above video, White performs one of his songs with Johnny Cash. White was 75.


Rest in peace, Senator

“This guy, he served his country.”


The Queen of Soul


Aretha Franklin at Columbia Records

We lost another icon of the music world with the passing of Aretha Franklin. Franklin got her start as a child singing gospel at the New Bethel Baptist church in Detroit, where her father was a minister.

Franklin signed on with Columbia Records in 1960 at the age of 18. She found success and acclaim after signing with Atlantic Records in 1967. By the end of the 1960’s Aretha had become the Queen of Soul.

Franklin brings down the house at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015. As a singer, Franklin won’t drop the mic, but she can drop the coat.

I have to add a clip of Aretha’s cameo in “The Blues Brothers”. Matt “Guitar” Murphy is “her man” in the film. Sadly, we lost Murphy earlier this year, as well.

Franklin was a powerful vocalist, who wrenched every bit of emotion out of the lyrics. As Paul McCartney said, she “was the Queen of our souls.”

Aretha Franklin was 76; there will never be another quite like her. Rest in peace.