Little Cities of Black Diamonds Day 2015

Last October I had the pleasure of volunteering at Little Cities of Black Diamonds Day. This year the theme was on historic opera houses. Before this experience, I had very little understanding of how integral opera houses were to the life of small towns throughout America. But before the internet, tv, and radio the opera house was the mass media of the day. People would see theatrical performances, hear speeches by scholars and orators, and then hold the town dance in the same space. Many opera houses were converted into movie theaters, or into office buildings and now hide in plain sight. For example, the city hall building in Athens used to be the opera house! I had no idea. Today there is an effort to preserve some of the existing opera houses in the state. For example, Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville was restored and operating again as a theater until a fire last year. And in Shawnee, Ohio a dedicated group of local volunteers is working to restore the Tecumseh Theater, which is where I volunteered.

I got to spend time alone in the empty theater dusting off artifacts from the past. It was hard work, but I also really enjoyed having that time to examine all of the artifacts up close and just absorb the atmosphere of the old theater (and I mean absorb literally – I breathed in a lot of old dust and grime that day!)

There were of course many other great historical artifacts in the main exhibit. The old sign is so cool, and recently they’ve restored its functionality so now it lights up again!

The best part of the day was attending a revue show in the old theater space. The curtain may be tattered, but there’s still a lot of life left in the old place. Unfortunately all of my pictures of the show came out blurry.

I was so inspired by this experience that when it came time to develop a unit plan on the Industrial Revolution for my social studies methods class, I decided that the final assignment would be to write a skit based on the lives of coal miners in the Little Cities Region at the turn of the 20th century, and ideally perform it in the theater itself.

For more information about the Little Cities Region visit their online archive. For more information about the Tecumseh Theater, see here.

 

Snippets

Life in and around DC. All taken from my phone, great photography this is not.

Delaware Water Gap

I went on vacation with my family to the Poconos. I’d never been there before and was shocked at how big the mountains were. We lucked out on weather, so I was able get in some great hiking and to snap some nice photos, even when hobbled by using just my phone.

Stray Dogs – Greece

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, here’s a gallery of some of the stray dogs of Athens, Greece. And these are not all of the pictures I have.

My Greek Dog

My Greek dog

My temporary pet in Greece

Of all the photos I took while I was in Greece, this might be my favorite. If you have ever been to Athens, you know that the streets are teeming with stray dogs. They are everywhere and basically have the run of the place. They sleep all over the Acropolis. They stand in the middle of the street with no fear of oncoming traffic. They are generally either friendly or indifferent to people, although some seemed a little aggressive. They are all mutts, and I don’t think they have homes, but overall they seem healthy enough. I’m curious as to the fate of these dogs since the rioting and unrest over the past year.

This dog was my favorite dog during my stay. I saw her (I decided she was female, but I didn’t check) many places around the main tourist areas. She’s a sweet girl, very friendly but not pushy. Every time I saw her, she would come right up to my side and stroll with me for a few blocks as if we were friends running errands who meet each other on the street and chat for the time they are headed in the same direction.

I traveled to Greece by myself. I was 26 and had never traveled abroad alone before. Although everyone was very kind, and many people spoke English, Greece can still be overwhelming. Almost every sign that isn’t on the main road is written only in Greek, and in tiny letters at that. The streets meander and take sudden turns, making it easy to get lost. There are panhandlers all over, some more aggressive than others.  I was also there in January 2011, which is not tourist season, and  just when the Greek debt crisis was becoming the serious issue that we know today, and there was a  lot of tension in the air.

My third or fourth night in Athens, I was walking back to my hotel after dinner around 11pm but I needed to stop by a bank ATM, doubling my distance. The streets were eerily quiet because many Greeks were resting up for a transportation strike the next day and there didn’t seem to be any fellow tourists around. I felt anxious and alone. Then this dog comes from around the corner in front of me, makes a beeline right to me, and proceeds to walk with me not just to the ATM, but continues to follow me to the tiny street my hotel is on, another 5 minutes away, whereupon seeing that I was delivered home safely, she trotted along her way. Her presence calmed me instantly and I was able to go about my business happily, without any lingering fear, just absolutely knowing I would be fine while she was with me.

I love all dogs, but…there are always some dogs you connect with immediately and remember forever. She was one of them.