I sometimes preach that the accidental encounters are often the best and Sunday was a perfect example of that. I had absolutely no intention of posting anything from a casual drive along the Ohio River but two discoveries made this page almost mandatory. The first was a docked boat in Ohio and the second was an open door in Kentucky. Ripley, Ohio, is one of my "no particular place to go" places. I've been there several times but yesterday was the first I'd seen anything bigger then a fishing or ski boat at the landing. I soon learned that the Mark Twain was there in connection with Fall Back Into Time. The short description is a fundraising effort by several area museums and societies through a friendly competition among historical characters. Please visit their website for a better explanation, descriptions of all the characters, and a chance to contribute.
The first row of pictures have nothing to do with Fall Back Into Time although the last two were shot from the deck of the Mark Twain. I have been here before when motorcyclists gather at riverside markers to remember fallen comrades. Today, VFW members joined in with a 3-volley salute.
During the past several weeks, Fall Back Into Time characters have appeared at the locations they represent and at area festivals, fairs, and other gatherings. Several were present on today's cruise and shared their stories on the sunlit deck. As the boat pulled away from the dock, Reverend John Rankin and his wife Jean (Don and June Zipperian) told about their lives and abolitionist activities in Ripley. Then industrialist John Parker (James Settles) spoke of his own efforts helping slaves escape. As we listened, we floated past the homes of the real Parker and Rankin. Both Rankin's hill top cabin and Parker's factory near the river are now museums and open to the public. Surveyor and teacher John D. White (Robert Boyd) whose students included the likes of Ulysses Grant was also on board as was the fellow who discovered White Burley tobacco, Captain Frederick Kautz (Ernie Parnell). The boat's deck provided some views of Ripley that I don't ordinarily see. The last of the onboard photos I've included is of Captain Frank; a man who enjoys his job.
That open door I mentioned was on the other side of the river in Maysville, Kentucky. I have been by the Russell Theatre several times and have photographed its facade and sidewalk and nearby signs but had never been inside it. Seeing the open door prompted a quick turnaround for a peek. It turned out that something called 2nd Sunday was in progress with many downtown buildings open and folks encouraged to get out and do a little walking. The Russell was one of those buildings and I got a lot more than a peek. I knew that this is where Maysville's Rosemary Clooney's first big movie, The Stars are Singing, had premiered in 1953 but not much else. I had no idea what it looked like inside. Today I learned that the Russell was an "atmospheric theater" with a ceiling that mimicked the open sky and Spanish Colonial Revival decor. It opened in 1930 and closed in 1983. As it sat idle, a leaky roof resulted in considerable interior water damage. The lobby has been restored and contains some museum style exhibits such as this, this, and this. The bulk of the theater, including two balconies, awaits restoration and that awaits funding. What a treasure.
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