Happy Columbo Day

To this goose, it makes more sense to have a national holiday honoring Detective Columbo than the Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus. Columbo was a heavy duty homicide detective. Columbus was the first wave captain of the New World conquest and invasion.

It’s true that Mother Goose might not be here in this great nation if Columbus had not discovered it. But might it also be true that if the first Europeans to arrive on these shores had celebrated the Native Peoples and their culture instead of slowly obliterating them, our country would have been an even greater place?

However you celebrate this day, (and none come to mind actually….) please remember the work of Lt. Columbo of the Los Angeles Police Department. Remember his wit, his style, his cigar and his good dog. Remember America is a better place because of Columbo.

The Golden Lady

Mother Goose and her daring companion left the “Wooded Island” with all of its many wonders and began the search for “The Golden Lady”. This statue proved to be an elusive one to locate, despite the fact that we actually had an address for it. We wandered endlessly throughout the Jackson Park area and then out of the park and into some sketchy neighborhoods, all in vain. We walked and walked until the rubbery feet of Mother Goose could barely keep slapping the pavement.

Now please be patient and quiet as we consider the background of this statue.

The statue of The Republic was the work of Daniel Chester French. During the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, it stood in the middle of the beautiful Grand Basin and the Court of Honor, facing the rising sun. She was sixty-five feet tall, towering over the gondolas and ships and people who floated about the basin and strolled the court.

She was astonishing and breathtaking in gold plating.

A famous view of the Court of Honor, the statue of The Republic and the Grand Basin. Mother Goose was not there…

Of course, after the fair was over, The White City was burned to the ground. I imagine the statue would have collapsed into the water and crumbled to mud in due course. But here’s the good news! The same sculptor remembered how he made the original statue of the Republic, and in 1918 he rebuilt her on a smaller scale (24 feet instead of 65 feet), covered her in gold again and set her up in Jackson Park, very near to where the original might have stood.

And finally Mother Goose and Husband Goose found her!

And took many pictures of her! (maybe more than you’d ever want or need to see…)

Gleaming in the setting sun, The Republic stands.

She stands much taller than this old goose.

Her back to me, she continues looking eastward, ever eastward, into the future.

The Golden Lady is a sight for sore eyes! Daniel Chester French completed this work to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fair and also the centennial of statehood for Illinois.

Of course, it’s difficult to imagine that it took us nearly an hour to find The Golden Lady. We are just gooses, after all…

I hope this trip back in time to The White City has been interesting to you, dear readers.

Please come back tomorrow for more of the adventures of Mother Goose on her summer vacation. You won’t want to miss the wombat…

Goose-like Serenity in the Japanese Garden

The designers and builders of the Columbia Exposition of 1893 in Chicago had some disagreements along the way. Passionate mastermind of the fair, Daniel Burnham, worked closely with several architects to create a brilliant celebration of culture and invention. The chief landscape designer for the fair, Frederick Law Olmsted, had his own vision for the “Wooded Island” — he wanted to keep the area undeveloped. Others were of another mind and wanted to put something out there besides trees and flowers. Eventually they reached a compromise with the inclusion of a Japanese-styled garden.

One hundred and nineteen years have passed since the World Columbian Exposition, and the Japanese Garden is not quite the same as it was back then, but oh my gooseness, we found such peace and serenity there. Please come with us on a tour of the Osaka Garden!

There is a very good description of the history of the Japanese garden here, and also here’s an old photo from the fair.

The Japanese Hoo-den and tea house from the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago 1893. Mother Goose was not there…

It’s a quiet place in the midst of a big noisy city…

Waterfalls are an essential ingredient to a garden. Mother Goose dipped her rubbery feet in the cool, refreshing water.

Reflecting pools and rocks are also very calming.

A lovely and peaceful view. The young lady in blue was celebrating her QuinceaƱera with friends and photographers.

Mother Goose touches history! An original lantern from the 1893 Japanese Pavilion.

Mother Goose can only imagine the wonder on the faces of the people who visited this place so long ago. I was very surprised that they have renovated this area into such a serene place — this restoration is unique in our area, and Mother Goose will certainly return to meditate on the secrets of the universe.

We wandered through the rest of the island remarking on the great variety of birds and butterflies around us. Then we realized that we were actually in a delightful bird and butterfly refuge! Imagine our surprise and merriment!

A Monarch Butterfly.

A smallish butterfly.

Were we thrilled at the colony of birds living in this old snag of a furry tree? YES!

And then Mother Goose and Husband Goose went searching for an elusive statue… Please come back tomorrow for the next event in our White City adventure!

Looking for The White City

Those of us who live near the great city of Chicago are bombarded daily with the reports of violent crime. With the hot summer we’ve been experiencing, it seems that the crime numbers are rising as surely as the temperature records. It’s surely a sad time for the city.

The Chicago summer of 1893 was also hot and violent. Temperatures and passions were blistering and blazing out of control. But still miracles were happening in the city — planners and builders, geniuses and scammers were all working together to create something so GREAT, so AWESOME that the world would stop and pay attention to this blustering city with big shoulders.

The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 was a spectacular display of architecture and grandiosity in a city known for meat packing, great fires and stinking waters. Built in the middle of a swampy area just south of the city in what is now Jackson Park, it was a full-scale city built within a year of its original conception.

It was known as The White City. Built of gleaming white plaster over wooden frames, the contrast with the black, smoky buildings of Chicago was breathtaking. Millions of visitors came from around the globe to view the amazing exhibits — the busiest day of the fair was Chicago Day on October 9th when 716,881 men, women and children came through the gates. It was a record-breaking outdoor attendance day!

Of course, books have been written and websites have been built extolling the virtues and the problems of the great world fair. Mother Goose has barely poked her beak into the mountains of information and research to be consumed. But one thing is for sure — Mother Goose just had to go and see for herself this place of wonder and magic, even though (with the exception of the Palace of Fine Arts which is now the Museum of Science and Industry) it was all burned to the ground shortly after the fair closed.

The Palace of Fine Arts as it looked in The White City 1893.

The Palace of Fine Arts at the north end of the Great Lagoon which is now the Museum of Science and Industry. With a high rise behind it which was surely not there in 1893…

Mother Goose and Husband Goose pulled into the parking lot in Jackson Park just south of the lagoon. Many people were enjoying picnics, soccer games and some relaxed fishing. Of course, Mother Goose immediately ran flapping across the bridge to stand upon the “wooded island”. This place was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted to be a place of green and peaceful meditation in the midst of the craziness and “whiteness” of the surrounding buildings. His intent was for people to look across the lagoons and find soothing comfort in the shades of green and the colors of the mostly natural flowers.

The Wooded Island as it looked in 1893. By the way, Mother Goose was NOT there…

If a visitor today sees a large tree on the “wooded island”, it was presumably planted there for the eyes of the fair goers. Mother Goose found plenty of these majestic beauties. Please pretend that you are on the island with Mother Goose!

Everybody knows how tall my Husband Goose stands. Strangely enough, he is dwarfed by this giant Oak Tree on the “Wooded Island”.

Looking up and wondering about the life of this same Oak Tree.

An ancient Grandmother Willow Tree on the “Wooded Island”.

Another gnarled old Oak Tree.

There was so much to see, and the eyes of Mother Goose were indeed soothed by the sights of these trees. Please come back tomorrow when our exploration of the “Wooded Island” continues. There are some amazing surprises coming…

The Gooses Enjoy a Picnic In The Cemetery

Mother Goose and Husband Goose have established a new tradition for celebrating their wedding anniversary! For the second year in a row, we’ve rested in the sweet country air near Spring Green, Wisconsin. The rolling hills and valleys remind us that we live on a lovely planet — not just in a suburban rectangle of lawn with a house on it.

We spend most of our days in Oak Park where the brilliant architect Frank Lloyd Wright began his long, incredible career as the founder of the Prairie School of Architecture. Everywhere we walk in our village we are reminded of his vision for organic architecture. Mother Goose is also intrigued by his scandalous personal life…

Arriving up north on Friday afternoon and needing to rest from our three-hour drive, we promptly set up a picnic in the cemetery of the Unity Chapel. Many of Mr. Wright’s Welsh ancestors are resting here as well. Mr. Wright himself was once buried here…

Resting in the shadow of the great architect.

Frank Lloyd Wright loved a woman named Mamah Borthwick Cheney. Oddly enough, she was the wife of one of his clients in Oak Park. She left her husband and two children to spend the rest of her days with Mr. Wright who, by the way, was also married and the father of six children in Oak Park.

Isn’t it strange how life goes? And trust me, Mother Goose knows all about these sorts of unfortunate circumstances…

So Mr. Wright built his dream home, Taliesin, on the eyebrow of a hill on the 600 acres of the family property. He brought Mamah to live with him there one hundred years ago. They had a love story that rocked the world in many ways, but life was good at Taliesin. It was a rich, creative time for his work. But tragedy fell hard in 1914, when a disgruntled employee set fire to Mr. Wright’s beloved home and murdered Mamah. Several other people, including her precious children, also perished in the blaze.

He personally laid her to rest in the family cemetery.

Mamah’s final resting place.

A majestic white pine tree grows near her now.

Mamah’s tree.

Please come back for the next story of Mother Goose where we doze off during the Twelfth Night.

Did anyone see where I set down my bottle of Santa Marguerita?

Montgomery, Alabama 1960. Part 2

We began our story yesterday. The family of Mother Goose traveled from northern Minnesota to Montgomery, Alabama in the autumn of 1960 to visit my uncle. Besides touring the obvious historical sites, they also paid their respects at the Oakwood cemetery where legendary country western singer Hank Williams had been laid to rest only seven years earlier.

Grandma and Geney with Hank’s monument in 1960.

Hank’s monument in recent times — his neighborhood is a little more crowded now.

People and places change over the years. Buildings age, monuments rust and molder. Trees grow, people die. Times change. Families change.

All of my dear family who went on this trip are gone now — Grandma and Uncle Fred, Mom and both of her brothers, Warnie and Geney…

Mr. Dylan taught us to sing “the times, they are a’changing…”

Montgomery, Alabama in 1960 was smack dab in the center of the civil rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King had been arrested and jailed earlier that year. Students at Alabama State College had followed his example of non-violent protest with a lunch counter sit-in. From our modern perspective, can we even begin to imagine a time when it was illegal for black people to eat at the same table as white people? Can we even remember 1960?

Students in Greensboro, North Caroline protesting segregation in February 1960.

Montgomery was the scene of extreme violence in 1960. This famous photograph was taken by Charles Moore.

This final picture, taken by my mom with her Brownie camera, easily and horribly illustrates the community’s acceptance of the Ku Klux Klan in the capital city of Montgomery in 1960. Just like those welcome signs posted by the local Lions club, or the Rotary Club or the American Legion, just another civic organization…

Fortunately, some things change. God bless America.

Montgomery, Alabama 1960. Part 1.

The family of Mother Goose traveled from northern Minnesota to Montgomery in the autumn of 1960 to visit my mother’s brother, Warren Mattson. He was a tall glass of water who easily acquired a hilariously rich southern accent and cowboy boots after he was transplanted there from Minnesota. He had a lot of attitude and a snotty Pomerian pup. Still, his family loved him enough to drive 1,300 miles for a visit.

Uncle Warnie and his cranky dog.

Uncle Warnie was a fine tour guide. They saw all the main attractions in the capital city of Alabama.

The Capitol Building in Montgomery, Alabama 1960

Today, the Capitol building looks about the same.

Not much has changed on the outside…

The State Department of Archives and History 1960

No doubt they’ve added some archives and history since 1960…

The First White House of the Confederacy, Montgomery, Alabama 1960

Some things change very little over time…

But thankfully, many things do.

I’m hoping you’ll return tomorrow when Mother Goose reveals a shocking picture from 1960 Montgomery. You don’t want to miss this bit of American history.

“The facilities are usable.”

The sweet words of Master Plumber Len were like music in the ears of Mother Goose this morning. There can be stress when a home has no outgoing drainage. There can be MUCH stress when the plumbing utterly and miserably fails. There can be harsh words spoken when flushing of the toilets does not achieve the desired effect of evacuating the waste product from the home of a goose. There can be tears. There can be a sense of hopelessness that the world is indeed caving in just like the one-hundred year old sewer pipe which is buried under the concrete basement floor.

Mother Goose and four of her children did themselves evacuate the premises, preferring the comforts of a local Best Western rather than go wandering through the backyard in search of a suitable spot under a tree to relieve themselves during the night and wee hours of the morning.

The majority of the plumbing in our home is quite old. The original deed on our house is dated 1895. That is not a typographical error — 1895 is truly the legal birthday of this house. I suspect the house was built before then, but they just made it official in 1895. Let’s shine the light of historical perspective on this date, just for fun…

Grover Cleveland was the president of the United States. Remember Grover?

Loving the tie, Mr. President.

America’s first official automobile race was held in Chicago. “The race started in the early morning in snowy conditions. A little over 10 hours later, Frank Duryea was the first to cross the finish line having survived a journey punctured by numerous breakdowns and repairs. He had averaged 7.3 miles per hour and took home a prize of $2,000 ($49,500 in today’s money).” (courtesy of EyeWitnesstoHistory.com)

Charles Duryea, 1895 speed monster

The first movie projector was demonstrated in the United States. It was named the “Panopticon” by its inventors, Woodville Latham and his sons Otway and Gray.

The American Bowling Congress was organized in Beethoven Hall, N.Y., to restore respectability to the sport and popularize it.

And, American men got a new pin-up queen, the Gibson Girl, drawn by Charles Dana Gibson for major magazines.

Those drainage pipes under the basement of Mother Goose have seen a lot in their day — so much that they did indeed collapse under the strain of their endeavors. The hard-working plumbers of Nuzzo Sewer and Plumbing are to be commended for their own endeavors yesterday and today. Thank you so much, dear plumbing guys.

Unearthing the broken pipe…

Not wanting to get too close to this…

Old clay pipe now replaced by nice modern plastic pipe and fresh concrete poured to cover the scene of the problem… “The facilities are usable.”

The Rescue of a Goose

“Will the sun never rise again?”

For Mother Goose, bobbing in her life preserver in the cold north Atlantic waters, the night seemed to last an eternity. She occasionally dozed off, the waves rocking her little boat like a cradle. She drifted along for hours and hours, too tired and sad to fly. She looked up to the heavens at the bright stars that seemed to dangle just a few feet over her head. She had never seen such brilliant stars — they were so close, she could almost stretch out her wing and touch them.

She wondered about the other survivors of Titanic…she had lost the lifeboats in the deep darkness of the night. As she looked to the east, Mother Goose noticed that the sky was not as black as it had been. “The light of a new day! Bless my soul, there’s hope for a new day!” she exclaimed and with that hope came renewed strength to Mother Goose. Stretching her neck as high as she could, Mother Goose could see a cloud of smoke very near the horizon.

“Rescue!” she shouted. “There’s a rescue happening today!” She began to sing with joy, and her wings flapped as she stood up on the life preserver and danced a thankful dance. She leaped into the air and began to fly. Up, up and away flew Mother Goose towards the smoke cloud.

And as she got higher, she could see the smoke came from a steamship. Truly a rescue was happening, and she would be saved. Her feathers rustled as she flew ever closer to the ship, and, of course, Mother Goose began to honk. She honked like she’d never honked in her life — like a foghorn, the honk of Mother Goose carried over the water. Like the mighty roar of a waterfall, the honk of Mother Goose could be heard for miles around. When you can’t imagine a louder honk, then you are close to the sound of this honk. Like a herd of New York taxi’s blaring their horns in the canyons of Manhattan, such was the honk of Mother Goose as she flew closer and closer to the rescue ship, Carpathia.

As she neared the ship, she could see the lifeboats from Titanic all around. The passengers were being lifted up out of the small boats and hoisted up onto the deck of the steamer. The seas were beginning to build with the rising of the sun, and the lifeboats rocked crazily with their precious cargo. But the crew was very careful with these poor frozen people, most of whom were in a state of shock for the circumstances they had endured through the night.

Mother Goose herself landed on the deck of the Carpathia and was quickly spotted by the other rescued passengers. “Look!” they cried. “It’s Mother Goose! She’s safe! Mother Goose is safe and alive!” She was quickly wrapped in a colorful quilt and offered a cup of hot coffee. She slowly sipped the coffee and looked around at the hundreds of people, many crying as they tried to describe the fate of the great ship Titanic. Many tried to find their lost loved ones, and many did. In total, 706 passengers and crew and one goose survived. But sadly, many did not.

Mother Goose watched the mothers with their babies, knowing that she had done her best in saving three. Perhaps those three babies would grow up to be happy, healthy adults who would make the world a better place. Perhaps one of them would find a cure for influenza… Perhaps one of them would be a great painter… Perhaps one of them would be a teacher…

Only time would tell, and Mother Goose knew in her heart that each and every person who survived this tragedy was saved for a reason. Though she could not begin to understand the mysterious ways of God, she knew His love would prevail even through this time.

As she gradually warmed, Mother Goose thought of her many friends who were gone now. She would never forget their courage and the way they faced death. Over 1,500 souls perished with the wreck and sinking of Titanic, yet their stories live on. The faces and names will remain in our hearts as long as we remember Titanic. In their passing, they have forever changed our world.

Greater Love Hath No Goose Than This…

The great steamship RMS Titanic moaned and groaned, her sheets of metal straining against the terrible and inevitable outcome. The tons and tons of man-made steel fought valiantly against the very ocean itself. Still the icy waters of the North Atlantic rose higher and higher. In the ongoing battles of man vs. nature, there can be only one winner. The powers of nature prove truly stronger than the puny attempts of man to defy the elements of God’s creation.

Many have argued that God’s wrath came against the pride of Man in the tragic demise of the Titanic. Many wonder at the “coincidence of the iceberg” laying directly in the path of the great speeding ocean liner. Many have called down judgment on the ones who acted carelessly in not providing enough lifeboats for all 2,340 passengers. There are many lessons we have learned from this tragedy, but none so poignant as this: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Mother Goose flew up the stairs to the boat deck, glancing down at the many passengers still struggling to get up and out of the lower areas of the ship. There were babes in arms and so many children clinging to the skirts of their desperate mothers. Brave husbands and fathers stood aside to allow the women and children through.

“I’m fortunate to have strong wings,” thought Mother Goose as she looked upon the poor souls below her. She honked sadly as she considered the fate of the little ones. “If only the children could fly up the stairs with me. We could all be free of the panicking crowds! We could easily get to the life boats.”

Then she had a brilliant idea.

“I can carry the babies and small children on my back! I can get them to the life boats! I can save many! There’s still time to make a difference in this world.”

Dear and gentle reader, you know that Mother Goose loves children so much. She’s always thinking of what is best for the small ones, even in a terrible crisis like the sinking of the Titanic.

Without a minute to spare, Mother Goose spun around in midair and dropped down to the nearest mother holding a bundled baby in her arms. “Quick, dear lady,” cried Mother Goose. “Put the wee little one on my back! I can carry her to a life boat and she’ll be safe!” The mother looked bewildered at the offer of this old goose. She looked around her at the masses of steerage passengers who could never reach a life boat in time.

“Please!” honked the goose again. “I’ll take her to a life boat and her precious life will be saved!”

Seeing that her choices were limited, with time running out and the waters rising, the young Irish woman kissed her baby and set the small bundle on the back of the goose. “Godspeed, Mother Goose! Bless you! Bless you!” called the mother as Mother Goose flapped her wings and rose up in the air.

Like a mighty goose of old, she flew up and over the crowds. Now she could see the full terrifying scene below her. She could hear the band playing a sweet old hymn, Nearer My God to Thee, as they stood on the deck. The water was up to their knees and still they played on. The song comforted and strengthened the passengers, giving them hope and peace even as the bow of the ship sunk deeper and deeper and the deck tilted dangerously to port.

She looked and saw many people gathered around a priest who was leading them in the prayers of the Rosary. She saw several gentlemen and officers helping people into the last lifeboats. These last lifeboats were filling quickly. She saw Captain Smith where he stood on deck. He looked calm and confident as he held an elderly woman’s hand, wished her well and lifted her into the lifeboat. She saw women crying and men wiping their tears as they said goodbye.

And then she saw what she was looking for — bobbing out on the ocean, 100 yards from Titanic, a life boat with only a small handful of passenger onboard. The lifeboats could have held nearly fifty people, but many of these had fewer than twenty-five huddled passengers. With her strong wings, Mother Goose glided over to this boat.

“Please,” she shouted. “Take this baby and keep her warm with you. I must go back for more!” And off she flew, over the water and up over the rails of the sinking steamship, over the heads of the musicians and back to the trapped passengers. “Quickly now give me another child. Put a baby on my back! I’ll carry them one by one to the lifeboats! I will save as many as I can.” Another mother settled her child on the soft back of Mother Goose, and again she flew to the same lifeboat. She left this baby with another woman and flew back to the deck of Titanic. One more trip to rescue one more baby from the clutches of the icy ocean.

Mother Goose gently landed on the lifeboat with the last little baby. “You must hold her close now,” cautioned Mother Goose to the woman who was wearing a warm wool coat. “Keep her as your own child for surely she’ll be an orphan by morning.” Mother Goose looked beyond her to the Titanic. The lights still burned brightly on the ship, although the stern was rising strangely up into the air.

“I must go!” she shouted and flew off again towards the ship. She couldn’t hear the band playing anymore as she flew around the deck, only the shouts and cries of the passengers as they slipped and fell overboard. There was nothing more for Mother Goose to do but to save herself. She spotted a life preserver floating out on the water. She was suddenly very weary, her wings so heavy and tired. She dropped down towards the life preserver, safely away from the sinking boat. She heard explosions and saw the large funnels of the Titanic break off, one by one and crash down into the water. As Mother Goose floated alone on the ocean, she saw the bow of the immense ship break off and slip away beneath the surface of the water. The stern settled for just a minute and then it followed the bow down to the bottom of the ocean.

There were hundreds of people in the cold water screaming for help, but there was nothing she could do. Her work was done — she had miraculously saved the lives of three children, but she could not rescue them all. “I’m only a goose,” she whispered. Great sad tears flowed freely now that she was safe herself, and she cried out with despair. Grief filled the heart of Mother Goose, she closed her eyes and honked hopelessly into the terrible darkness…

(Please come back tomorrow for the heart-warming conclusion to this story of Mother Goose and the Titanic.)

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June 2023