Archive for May, 2014

I Didn’t Know it was There

May 27, 2014
Green Mansion Restaurant

Green Manor  Restaurant

One thing you can usually count on when you take a  Columbus  Academy of Lifelong Learning, or  CALL,  trip is a locally owned, not-a-chain  restaurant.  While we didn’t eat lunch at a chain restaurant, we got a good  look at the home office of one. On our way to Atlanta to take a tour of the  Chick-fil-A Home Office, we stopped for lunch at the Green Manor Restaurant in Union City.

It’s not called Green Manor because of the ample greenery surrounding it, but because it’s named after the man who bought it in 1917, Dr. Albert Green.  His descendents still own it.  It’s a grand old mansion with 10 fireplaces, and things  like stained glass windows and doors.  The lunch buffet featured quite good Southern cooking, which you eat in style at tables with cloth table cloths.  All  in all it, was a satisfying dining experience. 

CHick-fil-A Home Office Atrium

Chick-fil-A Home Office Atrium

 The tour of the Chick-fil-A Home Office  turned out to  be a lot more interesting than I thought it would be.   The main building is a show place, with an atrium lobby that reminds me of the big, fancy Atlanta hotels. It also has an antique auto museum,  and two 1946 Fords, because Chil-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy started the chain in 1946 with a small diner called the Dwarf Grill, which was close to the now-closed Ford assembly plant under construction in Hapeville.  The plant opened and started putting Fords together in 1947.

1946 Ford

1946 Ford

You can read all about the Backstage Tour at the Chick-fil-A website.



A D-Day Vet Comments on IMAX Movie about D-Day

May 19, 2014



I’ll tell you what I thought  of the  film, but first,  here’s what 93-year-old Charles Maupin of Columbus, who was a 23-year-old 29th Division radio operator who landed on D-Day plus 1,  had to say about it.

D-DAY IMAX 002 (2)

“I thought it was real good. The only thing missing was the actual combat footage. That might have been too grewsome for most people. People ought to know, though, what  those guys went through, those guys that landed first…Those guys showed determination and courage.”

He said that when he landed there were row upon rows of bodies on the beach, covered with ponchos.

He is very concerned that today’s young people have no understanding of what service to country means.  He said, “All young people should serve their country in some capacity to get an appreciation of their country and what that country stands for.  Too many young people today don’t know and don’t care.  I think it’s sad. We’re losing our freedom.”

I would go a little further than “good.” I would say it is an extraordinary, visually stunning documentary. Broadcast journalist and historian Tom Brokaw, the film’s narrator says “What I was drawn to in this film is that it tells us the story of D-Day in a new way that gives such clarity to one of the most important events in the history mankind.”

Charles is also on target in being concerned that young people “don’t know and don’t care.”  We have to ask, though, whose fault is that? Parents? Teachers?  Our education system?  Perhaps it’s time to start emphasizing the importance of history in our schools again.

Since this movie uses the latest techniques in movie making, using animation, CGI, and live-action images, and since it is quite immersive on an IMAX screen, and has a wonderful musical score played by the London symphony orchestra, I would think it would have a high impact on today’s young people.

In my view, every 9th grade high school student within a hundred miles of the Patriot Park IMAX should be bussed to the National Infantry Museum to see it.  It’s a very effective history lesson.



PA Parents Pay Tribute to CSU’s Schwob School of Music

May 15, 2014

The following came as a comment to my blog post on the recent “Atlanta Day” concert from the parents of a Columbus State University student who played a French Horn in the concert. I decided it needs to run as a main post. It’s a fine tribute to the Schwob School of Music. Also, I appreciate the nice things said about this blog. Comments like this make blogging worthwhile.     

Mr. McMichael,

This is a note from the ‘interesting ‘folks’ you met from Scranton, PA at the CSU Philharminic/Atlanta Youth Orchestra concert……we are absolutely THRILLED to be an anecdote for your writings. I was not kidding you when I told you how much of an impact your articles about Schwob had on our decision to send our son Justin so far away to school. I hope that there are other parents of young, hard-working, talented musicians who read this entry and post and find assurance that Schwob is simply the best of all worlds, artistically speaking. My son is growing tremendously as a musician and artist, as well as getting the very best preparation for his future hopes of being a Music Educator and working with young aspiring minds.

I just can’t say enough about the wonderful faculty at Schwob. Our family will always be indebted to them for all they do for our college age children.

If I may, I’d also like to personally thank the benefactors of the Schwob community. I hope they know what a truly spectacular world they have created here. It is nothing short of miraculous.

So, Mr. McMichael….. you now have great friends as well as avid readers up North! We love you and your column….are grateful to you for your past writings, and look forward to all those in the future. Thank You for all you do you do to spread optimism, positive spirit, and musical sunshine. The world needs MORE of that!

Keep ON!! (See you next Spring!)

All the Best!!
Justin and Sharon Ambrozia
Scranton, PA

Musical Magic on the Jordan Stage

May 11, 2014
Selfie of mc in front  of Bob Barr  Community  Band

Selfie of me in front of the Bob Barr Community Band

The concert  that  was 25 years in the making graced the Jordan Vocational High School auditorium stage Saturday afternoon.  The Bob Barr Community Band never sounded better to me than when it played its Silver Anniversary Concert.  The audience loved it and so did  I.  

The are a number of reasons for that.  Top of the list has to be that its conductor, Fred Catchings,  is a lot like the man for  whom the band is named.  Retired educator Jimmy Motos, who plays clarinet and emcees the concerts,  told me that, and he should know, because he played in a Bob Barr JVHS band. “He rehearses the same way.  You keep doing it until you get it right.” Catchings is a retired U.S. Army band director.  His last assignment was as commander of the Fort Benning band.  How fitting. Bob Barr was stationed at Fort Benning when, in 1946, he took the job at Jordan. He wasn’t an army band director, though. He was an Officer’s Candidate School instructor during World War II.      

Another reason  the Bob Barr Community Band plays so well is that it has talented musicians from all walks of life.  Most live in the Columbus area, but some will travel a hundred miles or more to play in the band.  One of the talented musicans is Adam Mitchell, who is now director of the Jordan Band.  His band recently was awarded superior ratings.    

Since I was a member of the first Bob Barr band at Jordan, I was called on to  make a few remarks.  I told the audience about how I joined the Jordan band in 1945,  which was a year before Robert M. Barr took over.  The director of that quite small band was a student.  Not only did  he direct the band, but he played first clarinet and football.  “You can play drums, right.” Fellow classmate Wallace Helton, who convinced me to join,  had told him that.

“Well, yes, but I can’t read music.”

“You’ll fit right in. None of our drummers can read music.”

After Bob Barr, the band’s first paid full-time director, took over in 1946, he let me know that drummers would have to be able to read music.  He also told me that I was going to teach them.  I couldn’t read music, and I had to teach them. Well, you didn’t tell Mr. Barr “no.”  I would learn a lesson from a percussion textbook one day and teach it to the other drummers the next day.  It worked. We learned to read drum music. In no time at all some of them could read it better than I could. Oh, well.

Mr. Barr – all his former students still call him Mr. Barr – took that 17-piece band and in six months time had it up to about 60 members and, it went from playing the really simple “Military Escort” march to Beethoven’s “Eroica.”   Over the years it got so good it won contests and played concerts all over the country.

He didn’t just teach music, he also took a personal interest in his band kids. He connected me with WDAK radio announcer Ed Snyder who became my mentor and helped me get my first job in broadcasting. 

I can’t think of a better tribute to him than for our community band to proudly wear his name, especially since that band plays so well.  It’s next concert is for Arts in the Park on May 18th at 4 p.m. in the Werecoba Park band shell.  Be advised that the band shell does not provide the excellent acoustics that you get in the Jordan High auditorium.     


CSU Impact on Downtown Columbus

May 5, 2014


 Columbus State University Philharmonic Orchestra (I took this with my iPhone camera.)

Columbus State University Philharmonic Orchestra (I took this with my iPhone camera.)

I know.  The Uptown Columbus folks want us to  call it that,  but I  lived at 1109 1/2 Fifth Avenue in downtown Columbus from 1940 (I was nine years old) to 1947, so the area is still downtown Columbus to me. When I am speaking of the downtown promotional consortium, I’ll call it Uptown Columbus.  Geographically it  remains, to me and a lot of veteran Columbusites,  downtown Columbus.

Anyway, as I sipped my delicious caramel smoothie at Iron Bank Coffee yesterday,  I reflected on how the area has come alive again, and, to me, it is a more beautiful and vibrant area than it has ever been.  For that, we can thank Columbus State University and Columbus philanthropists who kicked in millions to help pay for  moving the College of the Arts from the main campus to downtown Columbus.   

In a thank-you letter I got for a small contribution to the Patrons of Music in support of the Schwob School of Music,  Dean Richard Baxter  told me that the College of the Arts, which has more than 800 majors, “contributes more than $10.7 million to the Uptown Columbus economy each year.   Our 300 majors living on theRiverPark Campus foster a vibrant community of gifted, creative talent positively impacting the quality of life in Columbus for all of us.”



Reliving A 1929 Eastern Airlines Flight

May 1, 2014
Photo by Alexf

Photo by Alexf


I flew in an airplane older than I today.

In 1929, a Ford Tri-Motor went into service for Eastern Air Transport, which became Eastern Airlines. That 85-year-old airliner is flying at Columbus Metropolitan Airport in Columbus, Georgia through May 4th. For $70 in advance, $75 walk-in, and $50 for children, you can catch a ride..

Eastern only used it for a year because newer, faster transports became available. It was sold in 1930 to Cubana Airlines and became Air Force One in the Domincan Republic.

Ford Motor Company maufactured 199 of them from 1925 to 1933.  More than a hundred airlines in the world have used them.

The vintage “Tin Goose” is owned by the EAA, Experimental Aircraft Association Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, home of one of the world’s biggest air shows. The Columbus chapter of the EAA brought the plane to Columbus with the help of sponsors such as the Columbus division of Pratt and Whitney. The three motors on the Ford Tri-Motor are all Pratt and Whitney engines.

Some members of the 13th Air Attack Company joined us on the “media flight.” They had to park their highly sophisticated attack helicopters at the Columbus airport to wait out some bad weather between Columbus and Savannah, their home post. They were returning from a training mission.

That old bird takes flight fast. The pilot, Ed Rusch, told me that it lifted off the runway today in only 500 feet. It doesn’t fly fast, crusing at about 85 miles-per- hour. If you give it full power, it can actually get up to a little more than 100 mph, depending on the wind. Commercial jets cruise at about 500 mph.

I asked a pilot when I flew in one at Wings and Wheels Air Museum in South Carolina in the 1970s what it is like to fly one. He said, “It’s like flying a barn.” Ed Rusch is quoted as saying that it’s like a boat. He said that you turn the rudder to the left or right and eventually it will start to turn.

It’s a fun experience. You can’t help but reflect on the fact that this was, in the late 20s, state of the art. Franklin D. Roosevelt flew in one to campaign for president in 1932. It was the first time an airplane was used for that purpose. In 1929, Commander Richard E. Byrd made the first flight above the Geographic South Pole in one. In 1965, Jerry Lewis “flew” the one we flew in today in the movie “The Family Jewels.”

Bottom line: flying in one is a hoot. I’ve done it twice and loved it both times.