Roads Not Taken

by Bob Sparrow

Two roads diverged in to a wood, and I

Took the one less traveled by ,

And that has made all the difference.

                                                                            Robert Frost

No, this is will not be a dissertation on Robert Frost’s most-misunderstood poem, but rather the musings of this traveler, who has found too many ‘Road Closed’ signs during this pathetic pandemic!  They are all roads not taken!

And while I have thought that I was on this mythical road to nowhere, I discovered that there is indeed a Road to Nowhere; it is in North Carolina, but it actually does go somewhere, it starts in Bryson City and ends at a ‘tunnel to nowhere’ inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

People who were more ambitious than just building a road or a tunnel to nowhere, created a Highway to Nowhere, actually there’s several of them, the most famous is in Baltimore, where one mile of freeway runs through a park.  Not to be confused with AC/DC’s Highway to Hell, which it may seem like we’re on right now, but there really is one of those too, in Western Australia, so named for the number of fatal accidents that occur there. What you don’t learn from these blogs!!!

And as we think about ‘things to nowhere’, and what more appropriate time to think about that than now, how can we forget the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’, which got a lot of national attention when Sarah Palin was governor of Alaska and the Vice Presidential running mate of John McCain in 2008. The project encountered fierce opposition outside Alaska as a symbol of ‘pork barrel’ spending and was never built.  So apparently  you  still can’t  get  to  nowhere  from  Alaska.

Personally, I can’t think of roads to anywhere without thinking of the ‘Road to . . pictures;’ yes, that what they called movies back in the day.  The ‘road pictures’ starred Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, who were always in some far-off country, fighting for the affections of Dorothy Lamour.  And even though I knew that these movies were filmed on the back lot of the Paramount studio in Hollywood, using blackface ‘natives’ and phony sets, they gave me the travel bug and the desire to create my own ‘Road Pictures’, which I subsequently did when I traveled to a number of exotic destinations like Kathmandu, Tunisia and Zimbabwe. But, ironically, I have never been to any of the seven destinations depicted in those ‘road movies’, but they’re on my bucket list!  For the record, they are, Road to Singapore (Year made: 1940), Road to Zanzibar (1941), Zanzibar is a city on an island off the east coast of Tanzania, Africa.  Who doesn’t want to go there?!!  Road to Morocco (1942), Road to Utopia (Alaska) (1946), Road to Rio (de Janeiro 1947), Road to Bali (1952) and Road to Hong Kong (1962). In the movies, Hope was constantly breaking the ‘forth wall’ to address the audience directly, such as when Crosby was getting ready to sing, Hope would turn to the camera and say, “He’s going to sing folks, now is the time to go out and get some popcorn”. There was actually an eighth picture that was going to be made in 1977, called Road to the Fountain of Youth, ironically, Crosby died of a heart attack that year – if he could have only gotten to that Fountain of Youth!  Little-known-and-less-cared-about-fact: Two of the very top singers of their generation, Bing Crosby and Elvis Presley, died in the same year within a couple of months of each other.

Critically, these movies probably get a grade of C-, and perhaps that’s even being a bit generous,  The plot lines were rather thin and predictable, but Bob Hope was funny, especially when he’s adlibbing, Bing Crosby could sing and Dorothy Lamour was certainly worth the boys fighting over.

OK, sorry for droning on about movies that were made some 70 years ago.  Forgive me, my cabin fever is beginning to boil over – there have been just too many roads not taken!  I can’t wait to get on the ‘Road to Anywhere’!






By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Women serving even before football on TV

Women serving men even before football was on TV

I know.  Thanksgiving is over.  Our collective minds have turned to “The Holidays”, which means most of you are buying presents, trimming trees or dipping into the egg nog.  After looking at the crowds on Black Friday apparently a lot of people were “dipping”.  For many of you the only remnant of Thanksgiving you want to think about is that last slice of pumpkin pie you’re hoping no one remembers is still in the fridge so you can sneak-eat it at 3 a.m.  But I’ve been giving a lot of thought to Thanksgiving lately – specifically the Pilgrims – so I am dragging out the holiday for one more week.  The reason:  I am doing extensive research on our Pilgrim ancestors in my quest to join the Mayflower SocietyWhy would I want to join the Mayflower Society?  Well, first, because I love history and the society’s chief aim is to preserve our early heritage.  But more importantly, recent world events have me thinking about what it means to be an American.  How did we start?  What were our founding beliefs and principles?  And just who were these people who left hearth and home to board a rickety ship and sail off to an unknown land?  My previous research has unearthed that we are related to five of the families that took that courageous step and were passengers on the Mayflower.  The 102 passengers on the ship were almost evenly divided between the “saints” and the “strangers”.  The saints were religious dissenters who left England for Holland and eventually America.  The strangers were merchants, tradesmen or indentured servants.  There were also a few “dodgy” sorts who were fleeing the law.  Amazingly, our ancestors were all saints.  I have to say I was a little disappointed to learn that – I was hoping to have a good scoundrel in our background to make things a bit more interesting.

More than a 3 hour cruise

The Mayflower

The Mayflower Society wants me to prove our lineage, which I suppose is a reasonable request.  There are over 30,000,000 possible descendants world-wide but only 27,000 have joined the group.  I suspect that’s because they require actual documentation, not just some letter from old Aunt Sally that’s been handed down through the years.  One has to submit marriage licenses, birth certificates and/or death notices.  Heretofore (meaning before the internet) obtaining all of those documents was an almost impossible task.  Trust me, it’s still a pain to document and verify everything but as the “family historian” I figure it’s my job.  Plus, it turns out that if a relative has joined the Society then any direct relatives can join without having to prove much more than you’ve fought over a drumstick at Thanksgiving or you’ve both tolerated Drunk Uncle at Christmas.  So I’m hopeful that if I go through the process of “showing them our stinkin’ badges” that some future member of our family will be more willing to take up the mantle of family historian.  Luckily in 2011 I joined and used their documentation to write our family history dating back to the Pilgrims.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that I have kept my membership in Ancestry since then in anticipation of writing our family’s European history.  But one thing or another has kept me from doing the research – mostly due to my borderline A.D.D and my inability to stare at a computer screen for hours.  As a result, I have paid those nice people at Ancestry $960 in the past several years for … nothing.    Which I think is their business model – rope in people with good intentions and lazy attitudes and the bottom line looks pretty good.

William Brewster - not voted Class Clown

William Brewster – not voted Class Clown

But back to the task at hand (you can see how I get distracted)… in doing the research in 2011 I found that my maternal great-grandmother’s family has formed an elaborate organization.  Genealogy, it seems, has become the second most popular hobby in the world, right after gardening.  That’s right – the study of dead people is more popular than golf or stamp collecting.  As it turns out, many families have their own organizations and websites and it was through my great-grandmother’s family website that I first learned of our Pilgrim connections.  I’m hoping that a lot of the genealogy geeks in that organization have already joined the Mayflower Society so that all I’ll have to prove is my direct lineage from her.  Heck, I’ve got pictures of her with my mother so that should count for something.  Hopefully there isn’t any sort of “blackballing” or personality test required.  Our mom said that her grandmother, although civic-minded and philanthropic, was something of a pistol.  And not in a good way – she was domineering, opinionated and humorless.  It may run in the family.  One of our Pilgrim ancestors was William Brewster, who was the spiritual leader on the Mayflower, and was said to have many of those same traits.  On the other hand, Sarah Palin is also descended from Brewster, so maybe he did have a sense of humor after all.

In any event, I have submitted my application to the Mayflower Society and they tell me it will take 3-6 weeks to see if I’m “qualified” to join.  There’s a small part of me that hopes they send a response informing me that our ancestors were actually horse thieves and had no part in the Mayflower.  Then I can take up gardening and finally cancel that subscription to


Headlines:  Can she still shop on Friends and Family day?

Sarah Palin has announced that she’s not going to run,

She’s going to focus on her family, at least that’s what she’s spun.

Many will be disappointed over her campaign carcass,

But none so much as Barney’s, Saks and Neiman Marcus.

Money:  They’re still dealing with “good bones”.

Mortgage rates have fallen to historic lows,

A great time to refinance if you haven’t been foreclosed.

Jobs are still hard to come by and that’s made home sales quite drastic,

Our agent now works at the market asking “paper or plastic?”

Sports:  And he doesn’t even have Cameron Diaz for some comfort.

YES!  It finally happened, the Tigers beat the Yankees,

Forcing Jeter and Rodriguez to cry into their hankies.

With their payroll they should win it all, that’s one of the theories,

But now they know money can’t buy you love or a World Series.

Life:  Are they displaying the big brain or the small one?

The town of Thal, Austria is paying homage to their native son,

Yes, “Ah-nuld” is being honored for all the things he’s done.

There will be a new museum with a life-size bronze statue,

And maybe the gift shop will have his paternity tests for review.

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