Fort Christmas Follow Up

Fort Christmas Follow Up

On February 9th, I put up a brief post with a few photos about my January visit to Fort Christmas Park, a “hidden gem” within the Orange County (Florida) parks system.

When you visit any park, you’d expect to find some rec facilities, picnic sites complete with sheltered pavilions, grills and a playground.

Fort Christmas Park has all of that and much more. A recreated Fort of no small historical significance, for starters.

The construction of this outpost for our troops of that day began on Christmas day of 1837. Which is–as you might expect–the reason behind the Fort’s noteworthy name.

Are you interested in Florida history?

Would like to know more about the three Seminole Wars of the 19th Century?

The conflicts which have been called the “Vietnam Wars” of that time.

More about the fighting spirit and resistance of great Seminole chiefs like Osceola, Micanopy and Billy Bowlegs?

I was quite surprised to learn how much the park and the recreated fort could inform and educate those who come to see and experience all of it.

My companion and I stayed for over three hours and tried to take it all in. I assure you, it was time very well spent.

This post is mostly focused on the recreated fort. I did get some good photos and those make a good template to put together a post that can give one a glimpse into what the park and the replica of the fort have to offer.

The banner photo is a view of the gate leading into the fort from the outside. The one below is of one of the stockades from the interior. This would be one of the locations where troops defending the outpost would be if the fort should come under siege.

Once you’re in the interior of the fort, the building you see below houses a fine and accurate exhibition of the fort’s history, down to the carpentry and construction tools which were used for such purposes in the 19th Century.

Another one of the things that caught my interest is pictured below. That’s the enclosure where gunpowder and musket balls–the ammo of the 19th Century–were stored.

The earthen floor–which you can’t see in this exterior shot–was about two feet below ground to keep the ammo cooler and more secure than it would be at ground level.

There is so much more about Fort Christmas Park and the Fort in particular that could never be conveyed in a blog post.

For example, there are many real, authentic out-buildings that illustrate what life was like for settlers here in Florida in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. The photo below features just one of them.

I did capture a few interior shots that I think merit a place in today’s posting. I’m very keen to know more about about wood-burning stoves and some of the other furnishings found in the homes of that time.

If you’re in Central Florida or ever come here–for a visit to our beaches or ever-popular theme parks–I heartily recommend the Fort and the Park for anyone who’d like a glimpse into Florida History or get a taste of what life was like for our early settlers.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

Walt Disney’s Birthday

Walt Disney’s Birthday

Some happy news: today is the birthday of Walt Disney.

For me–and for so many others–that is, indeed, a cause for celebration.

The world is a better place for Walt having come along. A mere 118 years ago, I might add.

It’s also true that my life is certainly better because of that salutary event.

Walt, we love you and strive to move your amazing, unique vision forward.

A proud Disney cast member, I am,

Benjamin Basile

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

Ben is not the owner of the delightful graphic in this post and believes it to be covered by Fair Use.

The GOP and their NRA masters are in full panic mode

It was exactly one week ago that gunman Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida. Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you no doubt know that seventeen students and teachers were killed and 14 more were taken to hospitals.

There are thousands of stories on the subject, of course. I don’t really have anything to add. I do, however, want to make an observation or two about some of the political fallout.

Students from M.S.D. High have been on a highly-visible crusade since the shooting stopped to get our elected officials to do something about our non-existent gun laws. And in the last three or four days, students from many other places have begun to join in.

That’s been very inconvenient for our Rethuglican legislators and Governors. And for their NRA masters who fund all those reelection campaigns.

High school students know that  politicians literally don’t care whether they live or die. They can see–it’s been crystal-clear for a very long time–that every last GOP elected official, whether in State houses or in Washington, will toe the NRA line to the last detail even if their own kids were cut down in the hallways at Hometown High.

The students see this and they don’t like it.

It should surprise no one that a tipping point has come, and the kids who have dodged bullets and watched friends bleed out are ready to do something about the whole sick situation. Even if the corrupt, uncaring people who are elected to represent them are not.

Poor Rethuglicans. They don’t know what to do. 

They’re just trying to mouth the right sentiments, vomit up the talking points handed to them by their PR consultants and hope it’s going to stop.

No, not the shootings. The protests.

They don’t get it. They don’t get it now. They’re not going to see the light after the next massacre, either.

They won’t get after they’re turned out of office by voters of all ages, backgrounds and party affiliations. But that’s how this chapter in the never-ending saga of gun violence in America will end.

This chapter. There will be many others, of course.

Kids know that their lives matter less to our decision makers than NRA dollars. Less than gun industry profits. Less than holding fast to this recent interpretation of the Second Amendment that any citizen can own and parade around with any weapon of their choosing. Even military-grade weapons that are designed for the express purpose of killing a lot of people in a short period of time.

I don’t expect them to do anything about it as a result of students’ protests.

I expect that we’re going to get a lot of new legislators. Soon.

Right after the mid-term elections coming up on the 6th of November.




“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile

So Where Did 2017 Go?

It’s a given that the farther we are along life’s path, the more time appears to accelerate. I’m thinking that most of this is a matter of perception. But it still comes as a bit of a shock that we’re in the waning moments of 2017.

How did we get here so fast? How is it that each year hurtles by at warp speed? Where does the time go? Where has my life gone?

I know I’m not the lone ranger here; lots of folks who, like me, have survived for six decades or better get into this psychological space regularly. But still, my head is whirling around and it truly seems like something is terribly wrong in the universe.

I’m in this space again as we have gotten so close to the end of the year. Now that those year-in-review things have begun, and folks are checking to be sure that they’ve booked a New Years Eve event, I feel like I’m on some inner precipice, staring into the abyss of time and feeling like I’ll fall over the edge at any moment.

I suppose one strategy to deal with this is to live one’s life in such a way as to make the most of each fleeting moment. And to prioritize our lives so that we spend the most of those finite moments doing the things that matter most. I get it. Doing that each day does not come easily for me, but that is the goal; that’s my New Years resolution. Again!

Meanwhile, I’d be so grateful if the gods of time would please, please, oh please just slow the whole damn thing down just a wee bit. Please!

What is Labor Day and Why Do Americans Celebrate It?

Monday, Sept 4, 2017

Ben writes: Let me wish all of you who work for a paycheck a happy–and very easy–Labor Day. Don’t forget that we stand on the shoulders of workers who fought–and sometimes died–to give us things like safe working conditions, a 40 hour work week and overtime pay. Our struggle is not over by any means. But for today–just take it easy!

We’ll be back at work soon enough. Working for our wages, but for other things, too; at the top of that list is respect. A living wage would be nice. A little gratitude, a little recognition, and little respect. These things are not too much to ask.

Accept the thanks of one worker to another. We do great things, don’t we? Yeah, we’re the ones who keep the wheels turning and the lights on and folks fed. And starting tomorrow, we get back to work. But for right now, take it easy and reflect on why there’s a day for workers like us.

Labor Day became a national holiday after a bloody strike by railroad workers in Chicago.

Source: What is Labor Day and Why Do Americans Celebrate It?

A Visit to the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum

A Visit to the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum

I wanted to do something different with the time I had over the 4th of July weekend this year. I opted to visit the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum in the end even though I made the final choice at the moment I saw the sign about 250 ft ahead of me! (The visit has been on my list for a very long time, however!)

They have quite an assortment of aircraft from every war or conflict I can think of. You can go through the five different exhibits at your own pace or go with a guide. One of the last stops on the guided tour is the restoration hanger; you must be accompanied for that one. There are several restoration projects going on right now, including the nose section of a B-52.

One of these days I want to take the C-47 ride! And no, that’s not included in the cost of regular admission! It’s now officially on my bucket list! I’m gonna do it! Here’s a look at the Tico Belle, who shall one day carry Bulldog over the skies of East Central Florida:

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The museum has had their spot at the Space Coast Regional Airport for many years and there are entrances on US 1 and on SR 405. Finding it isn’t hard. But I venture to say — based on my visit — that the museum could use a few more guests to come through. And don’t forget that they sponsor a first-class air show at S.C.R.A. every spring. The date had to be moved up a bit this year because of a conflict, but making this event is one way to support this worthy non-profit and its museum.

One more thing about this event: the show has been called The Tico Warbird Airshow from its inception but the name going forward is The Space Coast Warbird Airshow. Same event, same very able folks behind it.

For complete information about the annual Space Coast Warbird Air Show coming in April of 2018, just click here.

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Miscellaneous note: if you’re wondering where the Tico comes from in former name of the annual airshow or the name of the AP authority, it’s from Titusville-Cocoa Airport Authority. The Space Coast Regional airport sits in Titusville, very close to Cocoa and serves both communities as well as the greater Space Coast region.

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

It’s June 1st and I Have No Idea How We Got Here

It’s June 1st and I Have No Idea How We Got Here

It’s a given that the farther we are along life’s path, the more time appears to accelerate. I’m thinking that most of this is a matter of perception. But it still blows ol’ Bulldog’s mind that June 1st is here.

How did we get here so quickly? How is it that 2017 is hurtling by at warp speed? Where does the time go? Where has my life gone?

I know I’m not the lone ranger here; lots of folks who, like me, have survived for six decades or better get into this psychological space with regularity. But still, my head is whirling around and it truly seems like something is terribly wrong in the universe.

I’ll get over it. I’ll most likely be in this space again, though, as we get close to the end of this year. When those year-in-review things begin, I always feel like I’m on some inner precipice, staring into the abyss of time and feeling like I’ll fall over the edge at any moment.

I suppose one strategy to deal with this is to live one’s life in such a way as to make the most of each fleeting moment. And to prioritize our lives so that we spend the most of those finite moments doing the things that matter most. I get it. Doing that each day does not come easily for me, but that is the goal.

Meanwhile, I’d be so grateful if the Chronos and his minions would please, please, oh please just slow the whole damn thing down just a wee bit. Please!

John Glenn, Space Pioneer, Has Passed at 95

John Glenn, Space Pioneer, Has  Passed at 95

I did take note when Arnold Palmer passed back in September. Today the news is of another towering American icon: fighter pilot, Astronaut and former Senator John Glenn.

We boomers who came of age in the ’60s followed his every exploit and idolized this pioneering space traveler as much — quite possibly more — than any other American from that time in our history. My idols from boyhood were Mickey Mantle, Ethan Allen and John Glenn. That was my “holy trinity” of American heroes! And I stand by those choices today, though we’re many moons past the Friendship 7 mission…

John was 95 and saw — and created — so much amazing American history in his long and wonder-filled life. To read a good and thorough obit from Mr. Glenn’s hometown paper, The Columbus Dispatch, follow this link.

His wikipedia entry is also a good read for those of us who remember and loved this giant. That can be read here.

Godspeed, John Glenn.

 

 

PBS Story on the U.S.S. Oklahoma and Pearl Harbor Is Worth a Look

We marked the 76th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor yesterday. I saw an excellent PBS production focusing on the event from the point of view of the U.S.S. Oklahoma and her crew, specifically. It was certainly worth an hour of my day.

It piqued my interest because I’m a Navy vet and because I lived in Oklahoma for most of the late ’70s. And because I’m a serious history buff with a special interest in WW II. Anyhow, many reasons to like that show. Of course, I’ve never seen a PBS production that wasn’t well-worth my time.

It focused on two elements of the story of this most-infamous day in American history that would be new to most viewers: why the Oklahoma was the only vessel on “Battleship Row” to capsize after the attack and the fact that the remains of seven of her crew were identified and returned to their families in recent years.

If you have an interest in military history, especially the WW II era, you’d no doubt find this to be of interest. I thoroughly enjoyed viewing it yesterday on WUCF in real time. And you can stream it for the next seven weeks by following this link.

It’s September 1st and I’m Thinking About…

It’s September 1st and I’m Thinking About…

It’s the first of September and I have some pleasant thoughts associated with this particular milestone in our annual journey. It means college football is about to start. That’s a marvelous thing. I look forward to it each year.

It means that Labor Day and cooler temps are right around the corner. Love both of those things, bring it on!

But it’s also true that when I see the first of September roll around, I think of Hitler invading Poland. Yeah, I do that. That reveals two very significant things about me: the first, that I’m a boomer and so many of us had Dads who served in WW II. So that whole “Nazis streaming over the border” thing isn’t as bizarre as it may seem.

Well, that and the fact that I minored in history and have studied that conflict and our Civil War in a serious way; those things factor in, too.

So the second thing that pervasive thought reveals about me is that I do worry about stuff more than most folks and more than I should, truth be told. Not in the sense that I think we’re about to be invaded, but just that I often see the darker side of things in general; I’m more inclined to see the potential for trouble, drama and disappointment rather than the “good stuff” which may happen as I navigate some new juncture on life’s path.

It would have been much better for me if Hitler had chosen the 2nd of September to send his Panzer divisions and Storm Troopers across the Polish frontier; that date would not have bored its way so deeply into my grey matter!

Two things I’m going to do today to get past this less-than-rosy recollection: get focused back on the arrival of those crisp Autumn days, and reach for a beer! That’ll work!

 

The last bulwark against the Nazi Apocalypse, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile