Just Above Sunset
April 25, 2004 - Lawyers On The Road

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My friend Matt lives in Barnum's Gulch – south of Rochester in the Finger Lakes, and if you think Canandaigua, New York you’re not far off.  Well, you could think of Geneseo, but why would you?  Here he and his wife visit their daughter in graduate school at Vanderbilt (Nashville) and amble up to visit our old undergraduate friends in Ripley, Ohio.   But work is never far away, as you’ll see.


The photo at the end?  Martin practices corporate law on Wall Street.  And he took this shot of a sunset at 33,000 feet somewhere over the Carolinas.  He was doing the chaperone thing – his son is in a marching band that paraded at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  This is from the trip home.




Matt and the "used cows" and caves and Wilfred "Doodle" Crump.


Two weeks ago we drove south to Nashville looking for Katherine and the spring.  At Columbus, Ohio we first noticed daffodils and forsythia.  Once we crossed in Kentucky the redbud were in bloom.  In Kentucky we also saw a sign at a farm along I-65 advertising used cows for sale.  In Nashville we found Katherine, her neighborhood, her apartment, her friends and her beautiful school, but Spring eluded us.  Katherine had school and paper writing most of the days we were there, but we saw her each evening and spent one cold sleety day seeing as fabulous exhibit at the Frist Museum (all that health care industry money the good doctor/senate leader's family accumulated used to revamp a gorgeous Art Deco Post Office as an Art museum).  On the door of the Country Music Hall of Fame are two signs:


No Smoking. 

No Weapons.


Katherine seemed very settled into her life in Nashville, very much as part of the community in her graduate program at Vanderbilt.  (Although she called today to report a professor having just told her to scrap the 20-page paper on Bleak House and start over.)  Our last full day in Nashville the sun came out and we took a terrific walk around Radnor Lake - the woods were filled with wild flowers- whole hillsides covered in deep purple from dwarf Larkspur, others in yellow from snow poppies. I even got to see some of my favorite Dutchmen's Breeches.


We left Nashville on Thursday and headed northeast through Kentucky with a brief stop a Mammoth Cave. Peggy loves caves and caverns.  My feelings generally run from indifference to fear, however this one I liked.  We had a great two-hour hike on the Historic tour, one of many in the more than 300 miles of underground passageways.  In Lexington, Kentucky amid all the horse farms, we saw the political campaign signs of four people running for the office of Jailer including Wilfred "Doodle" Crump.


If you have read Ann Hagedorn's book Beyond the River, then you know Ripley, Ohio.  You even know the house of Front Street of "porkpacking mogul Thomas McCague."   That's where Ann and Allen Schwartz live, in a great old place with room for study and studio and a back patio amid an elaborate flower garden in desperate need of rescue form English Ivy gone rogue.  Lorna and Theo flew from Seattle to Roanoke, Virginia and the met us a Ripley.  The Ohio River, just outside their front door, was nearing flood stage and carrying huge trees and other debris along with the coal and chemical barges.


Driving home on Sunday we noticed that the daffodils were now blooming the towns just south of us.  Even on Route 21 as came up the lake from Naples, every one of the daffodils were in bloom. But not here at Barnum's Gulch.  That additional two hundred feet in elevation from the bottom of Goff Road at Route 21 was enough to put us a day or two behind.  That’s all it took.  By Tuesday afternoon the daffodils and narcissi were starting to bloom all around us.  The hyacinths are out in the flower garden.  And the small patch of bloodroot at the foot of a big oak near the edge of the gulch are in full bloom - if possible I will take a picture with the digital camera and send it.


But my work has been crazy busy. Thursday I spent the afternoon evaluating whether the Teamsters should take a discharge case to arbitration.  Jesus Crespi Jr. rolled his tractor trailer but insisted it was not his fault, that the trailer was overloaded and top heavy - and that is the reason the rig tipped over on an exit ramp.  Federal law allows a tractor, trailer and load to weigh a maximum of 80,000 pounds.  So I sat with the shop steward who explained that a tractor weighs about 17,000, a trailer (without refrigeration units) is about the same.  We counted the pallets and boxes and product weigh from the invoices.  It was not overweight.  Then we looked at the Xada ( pronounced Zayda) printout.


This on truck computer showed that Mr. Crespi entered the curve (which he acknowledges is almost 90 degrees) at 55 mph and came out of it, just before the rig tipped, at 45 mph.  The speed limit was 30.  Mr. Crespi blocked two lanes on Exit 18 of the New Jersey Turnpike in Elizabeth, New Jersey; that's the exit for the Varrazano Narrows Bridge, at 7:00 am when he dumped 40,000 lb of frozen steaks.  We are not going to arbitration with that one.


Reference –


Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad

Ann Hagedorn

ISBN: 0684870665   Publisher: Simon & Schuster


The town of Ripley, located on the Ohio River between the slave state of Kentucky and the free state of Ohio, was the site of clashes between abolitionists and slave hunters long before the start of the Civil War.  Hagedorn brings to life lesser-known activists in the abolitionist movement who led double lives in a small town torn up over the issue of slavery.  She focuses on the Reverend John Rankin, spurred by religious fervor to become a leading abolitionist, helping escaped slaves travel on to Canada during the early 1820s.  Using historical documents, newspapers, and letters, Hagedorn captures a fervent era, when the Missouri Compromise, the invention of the cotton gin, and growing slave revolts all set the stage for roiling debate on slavery.  Rankin and his family were part of a network of abolitionists that included Harriet Beecher Stowe and John Parker, a free black man who ventured south to guide slaves to freedom.  Readers interested in the history of the abolitionist movement in the U.S. will appreciate this look at unsung heroes of the era. 


- Vanessa Bush in Booklist - American Library Association.
That Sunset...

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Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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