I almost didn't get to enjoy the mini-tomato harvest. A giraffe with conjunctivitis was about to devour the little fruit when I walked into the room. I said. "Honestly, giraffe, you are such pain in the neck". Giraffes hate it when you say that.
My sweet friend Romy gave me a Garden-In-A-Bag Mini-Tomato kit for my birthday last winter. I planted the seeds after being away for a week in June. The instructions said the seeds would take a week or so to germinate and then another sixty days until the tomatoes were ripe. This little plant germinated on time and grew to two inches tall by mid-July.
Then the growing paused.
I kept it fed, watered and in the sun but the plant stubbornly stayed two inches tall. It did not start growing again until the end of August. By the end of September the plant was 9-10 inches high. A tiny flower emerged and soon thereafter a mini-mini-tomato started growing. A couple of days ago the tomato began taking on an orange tint. This weekend I'm going to buy a very small head of lettuce and make a salad!
I want to write about my trip to Ohio but I keep running into interesting items as put pictures from this summer on Flickr. Eventually I'll get around to three months of blogging about obscure sights in Ohio. First, though, how about an obscure town in Leatherstocking Country?
The village of Cherry Valley has fewer than 600 people living in it but you could base a geography course on the town and its surroundings. The town sits in a glacial valley that connects the Mohawk River Valley to the north with the Susquehanna Valley to the south. The ease of passage through the valley made it a preferred travel route for the Iroquois Nations. Settlement by Europeans began in 1738. Cherry Valley became prosperous after 1799, when a turnpike connected the village to Albany.
That prosperity was short-lived. The Erie Canal bypassed the town in 1825 and the railroads bypassed the town just a few years later. That's not to say interesting things haven't happened in Cherry Valley. The Revolutionary War Battle of Cherry Valley, aka THE MASSACRE, took place 330 years ago last week. Colonel Ichabod Alden, who was tomahawked in THE MASSACRE, mainly because he ignored the 1778 security briefing equivalent of "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US".
In 1837 Samuel F. B. Morse stayed with his cousin in Cherry Valley. It was while in Cherry Valley that Morse perfected the telegraph. The town also apparently had a well-known finishing school for girls at the site of the elaborate water fountain. The water was "valued for its pleasant taste and medicinal properties" according to the historical marker next to it.
The railroad finally arrived in 1870, breathing new life into town. Some time after the railroad arrived someone installed this amazing door handle on a Main St. business. The turnpike became what is now US Route 20 in the early 20th century. Cross-country travelers passed through Cherry Valley until the NYS Thruway was built after World War II. Later Rt. 20 was re-routed to go around town, so there's really no reason to drive through Cherry Valley today unless you're taking the scenic route from the Thruway to Cooperstown, twelve miles to the south.
That's a shame as it is a nice little town. There were a lot of sculptures on display when I passed through and I saw signs for an outdoor music series. The revolutionary war link above mentions that, unusual for a frontier town, "the people of Cherry Valley were intelligent and of good moral character". Makes you wonder if those qualities the early settlers of the town brought with them are, in part, self-perpetuating and carry on to the present.
The Famous Jimbo's Hamburger Palace, Lenox Ave between 124th and 125th
The Original Jumbo Hamburgers Palace, 116th near Lenox
The Famous Jimbo's Hamburger Palace, 145th near Broadway
The Original Jumbo Hamburgers Palace, 145th near Frederick Douglass
There are two mysterious burger mini-chains mostly in Upper Manhattan and the South Bronx. One is The Original Jumbo Hamburgers Palace and the other is The Famous Jimbo's Hamburger Palace. Aside from their slightly different names the two are almost identical. The awnings are the same, the neon signs are the same, the interior decor (red and white tiles) is the same, and the overhead menu (yellow lettering on red background) is the same. All advertise an ATM that dispenses ten dollar bills. Look closely and you'll see the ATM signs at Jimbo's have two horizonal blue stripes while the signs at Jumbo only have one stripe.
I've had the cheeseburger deluxe at the Jumbo in the second photo and at a Jimbo's in the Bronx. The burgers at each were grilled then cooked under a metal cup. Both were decent burgers.
So, what's the story? There seem to be more Jimbo's than Jumbos. The Jumbo awnings say "Since 1968" but the one on 116th St. opened three years ago. Do these places have the same owner? Or is the Jumbo/Jimbo's phenomenon similar to the infinite variety of Ray's Pizza places? Interesting, don't you think?
What is the story with Pennsylvania? Philadelphia seems normal but several of the small towns I've been in the past couple of years have been quirky to say the least. Luckily I enjoy the quirky.
Where in Washington, Pa. would you expect to see this fine construction paper sign?
Before I answer that question let me mention that Washington, Pa. is off I-70 south of Pittsburgh. As you drive west on the interstate the exit signs for Washington, Pa. are clearly marked "Washington, Pa" and not "Washington" so, I suppose, the weary traveler doesn't confuse Washington, Pa. with Washington, DC some 250 miles away.
Anyway, Washington, Pa. was the town I had in mind last month when I wondered why some places are more cranky than others. Many storefronts downtown had some sort of "no hanging out" sign in their windows. This particular storefront, a closed jewelry store, had several construction paper signs. As I was hanging out, admiring the signs I noticed that they were in three adjacent storefronts. The only active-looking store was that for an attorney's office. Yes, if you live in Washington, Pa. you could be represented by a lawyer who spends much time making signs with construction paper, scissors and glue sticks.