1988 Honda Accord

One of the most powerful memories I have of my childhood is riding in my dad’s 1988 Honda Accord. It was a mid-size four-door with a bronze exterior and tan upholstery, and it had a boxy design typical of cars from the 80s.

In retrospect it was a nice car, but everyone in the family, with the exception of my dad, regarded it as sort of a clunker. Its humble reputation probably resulted from it often being occupied by two male children who wreaked havoc inside. I once dropped a jelly sandwich on the emergency brake, and ever since then that area was really sticky. One time when we went to the zoo either I or my brother left crayons on an armrest, which melted over the course of the day, leaving permanent colorful waxy spots with little bits of Crayola wrappers sticking out.

Not all the destruction was our fault. Once, a mischievous friend of ours climbed on the roof and snapped the antenna off. The radio never played right after that. Also, our mother spilled milk in the backseat coming back from the grocery store, so it always smelled sort of bad.

I have fond memories of the car, though. It seems like I was only ever inside for two events: to go to the zoo or to go to work with my Dad on weekends. My Dad would always play a tape of Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. He says that this was the only tape I would bear to listen to, and, indeed, I remember liking that many of the songs bore a close resemblance to real-life things: “On the Run” of a man running; “Time” of the passage of time; and “Money” of money. This is the first memory I have of listening to music.

In his post on the Ford Grenada my dad mentioned that the velour upholstery heated up quickly on hot days. Maybe the Accord had velour upholstery too, because when we returned to the car after a day at the zoo and opened the doors, you could smell the heat inside. It was a dry, metallic smell that made even a hyperactive squirt like me realize we should air it out for a while before getting in.

The car gradually became less reliable and more of a joke. On the way to my first grade class, it stopped running and we had to push it a few yards. By the time I was in fourth grade it hardly worked at all. I recall a few weeks when my parents wouldn’t use it unless they had to. Finally there came a day when my dad called home to say that the car had broken down and he had steered it into the parking lot of a BBQ restaurant. We had to pick him up there. My parents sold the car almost immediately.

A few times in college I saw a 1988 Honda Accord parked around town that was the same color as my Dad’s. The first time I saw it I got excited and stopped to peer in the windows so I could see what the inside was like. My girlfriend thought I was acting stupid, but I was happy to see a 1988 Accord still chugging away.

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Public Art At The Ohio Statehouse (V)

The High Street side of the Ohio Statehouse is dominated by the McKinley Memorial.

"Prosperity"

William McKinley was a Civil War veteran, a county prosecutor, a U.S. Congressman, and a two-term Ohio governor who was then elected President in 1896.  He presided over the Spanish-American War and was reelected to the Presidency in 1900, only to be felled by an assassin’s bullet while visiting the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901.  He died shortly thereafter.  (Ohio Presidents aren’t the luckiest bunch.  Three — Garfield, McKinley, and Harding — died while in office, two by assassination.)

The McKinley Memorial was unveiled in 1906.  It features a large statue of the rotund former President, wearing frock coat and vest, looking west across High Street.  The story is that when McKinley was governor of Ohio, he and his wife lived at the Neil House across High Street from the Statehouse, and on his way to work in the morning he used to stop, look back across the street at his wife, and then wave goodbye.

"Peace"

McKinley’s statue is atop a large granite pedestal and looks down upon a stone basin flanked by statues depicting peace and prosperity.  “Prosperity” is represented by a serious, brawny, bearded man in blacksmith’s apron and sandals, standing next to a youthful apprentice; an open book and machine gears are visible nearby.  “Peace,” on the other hand, is represented by figures of a smiling woman and a young girl who looks on adoringly while holding flowers in her lap.

The McKinley Memorial cost $50,000, which was a considerable sum in the early 1900s.  Of that amount, half was appropriated by the Ohio Legislature, and the other half came from contributions — often in nickels, dimes, and quarters — by members of the general public who wanted to see the fallen President appropriately recognized.

Public Art At The Ohio Statehouse (I)

Public Art At The Ohio Statehouse (II)

Public Art At The Ohio Statehouse (III)

Public Art At The Ohio Statehouse (IV)

Hotter Than Hue

Russell’s Vietnam expedition is winding down.  After leaving Hoi An — where he indeed bought one of the hand-tailored suits for which that town is well-known — he traveled to Hue.  He reports that Hue is an attractive city, but that the temperature seems to increase as he travels north.  The air is wet and humid and it is already brutally hot, so every degree of increased temperature makes the travel less pleasant.

Hue has an interesting history.  Centuries ago, it was the capital of a feudal dynasty, and the architecture from that period located within the city’s Citadel has made Hue a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Hue also features pagodas, mausoleums, and buildings from the French colonial period.  The city was located close to the border of North and South Vietnam and was the scene of intense fighting during the Vietnam War, including battles during the Tet Offensive in 1968.  Hue occupies both banks of the Perfume River (and you wonder whether that name is appropriate) and is one of the wettest cities in Vietnam, with average annual rainfall of 120 inches. July tends to be the driest, but hottest, month of the year.

Russell is now on his way to Hanoi, which will be his last stop on the trip.