Stories indexed with the term ‘tradition’

Column: A Tradition of Unity

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

On Veterans Day, we generally honor our Veterans. It’s a good idea, for lots of reasons: they served our country, often in unpleasant places, and in great danger, to keep the worst of the world away from our homeland.

My grandfather was a New York dentist who volunteered at age 39 to hop on a ship in the Pacific during World War II. My dad graduated from medical school, then enlisted in the U.S. Army, which sent him and his new bride to Fulda, Germany, to guard the border. It was an unconventional decision, but he’s always said it was one of his best.

“I earned more money than I ever had,” he often jokes, though that wasn’t hard to do for a recent medical school graduate. “People had to do what I said. And I never got shot at.” My parents also made lifelong friends, and still travel every year to see them at reunions.

I grew up hearing Dad say things like, “Smart to be seen in Army green!” And “Three meals a day, and –” well, I’m stopping there. (If you know that one, you know why.)

On Veterans Day, I’ve gotten into the habit of calling my old man to thank him for his service. But this year, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League spent Veterans Day telling its 183 member high school teams to stop performing the national anthem before their games.

The league commissioner, Ed Sam, was quick to explain, “It’s not that we’re not patriotic. That’s the furthest from the truth.”

I actually believe him. They’re not unpatriotic. They’re amazingly stupid. [Full Story]

Column: Farewell to the Parthenon

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

Ann Arbor’s Parthenon Restaurant closed last week after almost 40 years at the corner of Main and Liberty. For me and my friends, it marked more than the passing of a favorite spot, but the end of a time-honored ritual.

On our last visit, we filed in, and walked to our favorite table in the back. A little warmer, and we’d sit outside, but it was still March, so whatya gonna do? The owners and waiters nodded. They’ve seen us more than a hundred times. When I needed to sell ads for the Huron Hockey program to help fund the team, the Parthenon signed up every time – something the chain coffee shop across the street would never consider.

BW and I started coming here in the fall of our sophomore year in high school. We both ran cross-country – a near-death experience – but that meant we could eat anything, and not gain a pound. For us, that meant a jumbo coke, a basket of fries, and two gyros – each.

We’ve since added a few friends from our high school days: Scotty, a hockey teammate of mine; TP, the tennis captain; Sevvie, a soccer star; and Barney, whom I was nice enough to drive to practice every day, so he could take my job. I was cool like that. [Full Story]

Column: Thanksgiving for the Lions

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

If it seems like the Detroit Lions have played on Thanksgiving since it became a national holiday, it’s because they actually started seven years earlier.

True, the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in October of 1621, but the custom faded, resurfacing only when George Washington, Abe Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt promoted the idea as a national tonic in troubled times. FDR tried to move the unofficial holiday back a week to expand the shopping season, but Congress put an end to all the feast-fiddling in 1941, when it fixed Thanksgiving’s date forever and declared it a national holiday.

George Richards was way ahead of them. In 1934 Richards bought the Portsmouth, Ohio, Spartans, for $7,952.08, moved them to Detroit, and renamed them the Lions. Incredibly, they won their first 10 contests to tie the Chicago Bears for first place with three games left. The bad news: only about 12,000 people seemed to care. If the Lions couldn’t catch on at 10-0, Richards knew, their days in Detroit were numbered. [Full Story]

Column: A Traditional Turkey

I’ve already had my Thanksgiving turkey this year. It was served up by Peggy Daub, who is head of the special collections library at the University of Michigan. I got my turkey from Daub last year, too. She prepared this year’s turkey by literally taking a page from the same book as last year: “Birds of America,” illustrated by John James Audubon.

Turkey Book

The Audubon Book as it appeared on Nov. 17, 2010. It will stay turned to the turkey page through Sunday, November 28. (Photo by the writer.)

It’s not the same page as last year. But it really is the same book, which is on display in the Audubon Room at the Hatcher Library. Yes, the room is named after the book, which was the first one ever acquired by the UM library system.

Last year, a turkey page for Thanksgiving was just a coincidence. This year it was not – I asked for it to be turned to that page. It’s actually not a trivial request. There are eight volumes the library is displaying with a page-a-week approach. And right now the turkey page is out of sequence, page-wise. Next year, it will be out of sequence volume-wise. So this could very likely wind up being just a two-year turkey tradition.

That’s all the more reason for Ann Arborites to make a pilgrimage over to the UM campus and visit the Audubon Room in the Hatcher Library. [Full Story]