Day 10 – Reliving 16 Days of Jackson through Vincent Price

Community Engagement

Day 10 – Reliving 16 Days of Jackson through Vincent Price

The summer of 1981: my favorite summer.

1981, so full of growing-up experiences at home, at the movies and in Westchester County, Manhattan and the Bronx.  Taylor Swift: my apologies to you.  I was wrong. 1989 was not the year.  1981 was better than 1989 and even greater than 1984 the year highlighted in America by the performances of Carl Lewis and Mary Lou Retton at the Los Angeles Summer Olympics.

But there was one summer of ’81 experience — a family legend often told by my late mother — I was meant to relive in Jackson.

On most summer evenings, I would open wide the two windows of my room in Vista, New York and watch the fireflies and listen to the crickets.  The previous Christmas I received a compact black & white television, compact enough to watch under the covers after everyone else had gone to bed.  I would stay up late to watch Reggie Jackson and the New York Yankees on WPIX, Channel 11, the same network that aired comedy classics by day and Chiller Theater horror classics by night.  Vincent Price captured my imagination that summer, joining Battle of the Network Stars CBS Team Captain Tom Selleck, Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell (who put up a combined 1,981 yards from scrimmage with the Houston Oilers the previous season), President Ronald Reagan and the Yankees quintet of Ron Guidry, Dave Winfield, Goose Gossage, Graig Nettles and Reggie Jackson as my heroes.

Vincent Price

Mr. Price’s House of Wax was re-issued in theaters in polarized 3-D that summer and quickly became one of my favorite films of the year alongside Raiders of the Lost Ark, Chariots of Fire and For Your Eyes Only.  His remake of “Monster Mash” had turned our house into the ghoulish hot spot on Kingswood Way the previous Halloween, with eerie sounds emanating out our living room windows, over our front lawn and into the cul-de-sac shared with our neighbors.


One weekday afternoon in the Summer of ’81, my mother dropped me off at New Canaan train station with a round-trip Metro North railroad ticket to Grand Central Station.  I carried a New York City map, my wallet and one dime for that solo trip to meet up with my father at his ancient antiquity gallery on Madison Avenue in Manhattan.  The train ride to Grand Central was scenic and fun.  I exited from the subterranean network of tunnels into the iconic grand room with the 4-sided clock atop the central information booth.  I ascended the west staircase, as I had done in a practice run with my dad.  I headed north on Madison Avenue and walked and walked until the intersection with 59th Street.  I looked to the left for my dad’s building but couldn’t spot it.  I looked across Madison Avenue and couldn’t find it.  I looked up the next block on both sides and still didn’t recognize it. All the buildings looked the same.  I walked down 59th Street and my heart raced. My blood pressure rose as I began to panic,  I remembered the fail safe option:  use the dime to call dad from a pay phone.  I ducked into an office building lobby and located a pay phone.

Within ten minutes I was reunited with my dad.  The tears of panic I had shed were dried up long before he and a business associate arrived.  I didn’t want to lose this independence privilege my dad had lobbied for successfully with my mom.  I couldn’t let the final step failure ruin a journey with so many other perfectly executed steps.

With his arm around my shoulder, I walked with my dad back to his office.  As we turned onto Madison Avenue I looked up, stopped and gasped.  Vincent Price was walking right towards us.  He smiled, greeted me with a “How are you young man?” and extended his hand.  I shook the hand of one of my heroes.

My memories end there.  I don’t know what we did that evening, or even the real purpose of my solo trip to Manhattan, but I like to think it involved the Russian Tea Room or the Carnegie Deli or a Yankees game in the Bronx.

Why did I relive this memory in Jackson, Michigan?

I was baptized and confirmed in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Vista, New York. The only image I have of the church today is courtesy of the controversial Blue Oyster Cult “On Your Feet” album cover.

Blue Oyster CultLast week I attended the Third Sunday of Advent service at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Jackson.  The church is celebrating its 175th year this year and nobody in town seems to know it.


The St. Paul’s Women’s Guild founded the Jackson Town Hall Series in 1959.

Their first speaker, most frequent speaker and most popular speaker?

Vincent Price.

The 1959 lineup for the speaker series:


Wow, what a start.  Vincent Price followed by Eleanor Roosevelt.  Price went on to speak in Jackson in 1967, 1972 and 1976.  Like many other great Jackson activities, the Jackson Town Hall Series ceased operation in 1979.  But Vincent Price had left his mark.  Several years later, he shook my hand on Madison Avenue.

How appropriate was it for Tim Burton to name the Edgar Allen Poe and Vincent Price-adoring lead character in his short film “Vincent” … Vincent Malloy? It’s a trip listening to Vincent Price narrate that classic short and say “Malloy” multiple times.

Vincent Malloy

As I researched this Day 10 of 16 Days of Jackson post, I found images of Vincent Price on View-Master reels.  Wow, I’d love to use a View-Master and look at still shots from 1960s/1970s/1980s classics.


Fun fact: 1.5 billion View-Master reels have been manufactured.


Day 9 – 16 Days of Jackson – Top 10 Local Food Experiences and Rebecca’s One Five One review

Community Engagement

As I approach my Jackson arrival anniversary date this spring (Earth Day 2013 was the big, memorable, cold day), I’m looking back on all the dining experiences of the past 9 months after receiving Rebecca Calkins’ 16 Days of Jackson foodie collaboration piece.

Spinach salad at Grand River Marketplace

Spinach salad at Grand River Marketplace

My Top 10 dining experiences in Jackson County

10. Schlenker’s cheeseburger for lunch (had the pleasure two times already)

9. Knight’s lunch specials (too many to list)

8. Reuben pizza at the Beach Bar on Clark Lake

7. El Mariachi burrito at Chilango’s

6. Spinach salad followed by mussels at Grand River Marketplace

5. Stuffed burger at Blue Moon Cafe

4. Muffin toast egg, swiss and bacon sandwich at BZB

3. The Dahlem veggie burger sandwich at Pickle Barrel

Two Dahlems and one Falling Waters ... delicious!

A Dahlem, a PB&J and one Falling Waters … delicious!

2. Sunday brunch at One Five One (fried chicken and waffles!)

1. Sticky burger at Night Light

My favorite neighborhood restaurant

My favorite neighborhood restaurant

My Top 9 most memorable dining moments

9.  my first Jackson Coney, prepared with beef heart.  I can’t believe I ate the whole thing and I won’t do it again.

8. every dining experience under Sue Chapel’s guidance at the Cascades Manor House.  Many lunches and several dinners have all lived up and exceeded expectations.

7. Polish breakfast at Bone Island Grill benefiting Disabilities Connections

Galumpkis & pierogies for breakfast!

Galumpkis & pierogies for breakfast!

6. Headliners fashion show and Jackson Rotary Holiday Bash at Grand River Marketplace … great fellowship, loads of delicious food and Fun!

Headliners Fashion Show benefiting Dahlem

Headliners Fashion Show benefiting Dahlem

5. Sunday brunch at One Five One benefiting Jackson Rotary.  From my loaded veggie omelette to the fried chicken and waffle, every taste was surely satisfying.

4. Soups at Blue Moon Cafe — pork, sauerkraut and bean or spinach and bacon, or any of the other signature combinations make for winter treat.

3. Soups at Night Light  — the french onion is the signature, but the other varieties prove the voters at the 1st annual Soup Bowl got it right by choosing the one and only Night Light.

2. The best breakfast sandwich in town, hands down:  BZB’s muffin toast egg sandwich.  I’ve tried it with pepper jack or swiss with bacon.  I’m stuck on the swiss option for now and never order anything else on their loaded menu.

1. Cascades Ice Cream Company.  A root beer float and two coneys.  And my $8.25 IOU inspiring a “How Jackson of You” speech, leading to 16 Days of Jackson and

what started it all

what started it all

Here is Rebecca’s One Five One review –

For a small to medium town, Jackson has a lot of restaurants. In fact, I’ve heard that Jackson has a very high restaurant per capita ratio. Us Jacksonians, we love to go out to eat. Jackson is a town of foodies, some blue collar steak and potatoes kinds of foodies, some gourmet filet mignon kind of foodies and sometimes both. We love our restaurants in Jackson. It’s always a hot topic when a restaurant is closing or a new restaurant is coming to town.  

Being a foodie myself I am always looking to try the newest restaurants and newest dishes. So when I was planning a celebratory dinner I had to try out one of the newer restaurants in Jackson, One Five One. In fact, I heard they had a new menu with lower prices! Bonus! Now I’ll admit I wasn’t the biggest fan of the restaurant that occupied this location before, but I must say the menu has improved significantly as One Five One. We started with appetizers of course. The first was Goat Cheese Cake, goat cheese baked in a garlic tomato sauce garnished with two black olives, creating a delicious face staring up at me. Served with toasted bread to smear the delicious combination on I was in heaven. Our second appetizer was fried asparagus and I must say I am always a big fan of taking anything healthy and making it delicious and slightly less good for you.

Beware what lurks in the bowls of 151

Beware what lurks in the bowls of 151

Mmmmm.  The magic of asparagus.  Green is good.

Mmmmm. The magic of asparagus. Green is good.

For my drink I decided I wanted to try a Dirty Martini because I have always wanted to try one and well I love olives. It was very olive-y to say the least but it was definitely a good pour and now I can check that off the bucket list.

Olive-y sensation

Olive-y sensation

For the main course I got a classic, One Five One Filet Mignon.  I got my 6 ounce filet a little red at medium and with the classic baked potato, it was perfection. For those of you that don’t want your cow still mooing my dining companions were happy with their well-done steaks as well.

A fine filet

A fine filet

On to the dessert… The flourless chocolate torte was as rich and decadent as expected served with a raspberry sauce and a dollop of whip cream. The white chocolate bread pudding was topped with a crème anglaise, or a delicious custard-y sauce, and more whip cream.



Bread pudding

Bread pudding

Overall One Five One is not nearly as highfalutin as you might think. The menu is as identifiable and relatable as your average steakhouse or full service chain yet fancy enough to make you feel like you are truly having a night on the town.

I did make it back for lunch and, me being me, I did order the most unique thing on the menu, duck lettuce wraps. But my more traditional dining companions were still able to find something to suit their palettes. 

There are a lot of great new restaurants around Jackson with Grand River Marketplace, Chase Bar & Grill, Chilango’s Burrito Bar and even down in Brooklyn with The Pointe and Shady’s Tap Room, great Michigan beer on tap and a really delicious Reuben sandwich on the menu.

Or new to me when I finally made a stop at South Side Deli for what claims to be the best steak hoagie in Jackson. It was amazing by the way but order ahead if you are stopping at lunchtime. It seems many more people know about this best kept secret than I thought.

So whether you are the kind of foodie with a highfalutin flourless chocolate torte kind of palette or a blue collar greasy spoon steak hoagie kind of palette or both, Jackson has something to satisfy everyone’s tastes. Go to to find your new favorite Jackson restaurant.

~Rebecca Calkins

Day 8 – 16 Days of Jackson Classic Ragtime Tune Penned by 16-Year-Old Welcomes Bill Bailey to JACKSON

Community Engagement

Won’t You Come Home

by Bill Bailey

Italy is regarded for its inspiration of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts is the namesake of Henry David Thoreau’s famous novel. Jamaica is known as the birthplace of Bob Marley’s reggae music.People often associate great art with the place it was created. For me, Jackson makes me think of Hughie Cannon’s song, “(Won’t You Come Home) Bill Bailey?”

Zelda Sheldon performs the Jackson classic in Sydney, Australia on her ukulele, 9,405 miles from the song’s origin.

Okay. This old ragtime song probably hasn’t reached Mona Lisa status and of course most people born prior to 1970 have never heard it, but it was created right here in Jackson and Jacksonians take pride in that. Believe me…I’ve heard it from time to time.

In my short tenure here I have had this song sung at me about 50,000 times. When I was growing up in Muskegon this song was sung to me any time I introduced myself to someone familiar with early 20th century jazz, but never as much as I’ve heard it from people in Jackson.

bill bailey

As it was told to me by a proud patron of the BZB Cafe on Mechanic St., who was coincidentally also named Bill,“(Won’t You Come Home) Bill Bailey?” was created in the bars of Frogtown, the area downtown near the Grand River. It was written by a 16-year-old, Detroit native Hughie Cannon, and inspired by trombonist Willard “Bill” Bailey, for whom the song got it’s title. As it goes, Cannon and Bailey frequented the taverns of old Jackson despite Mrs. Bailey’s pleas for her husband to please come home. Cannon was so inspired he produced one of the biggest ragtime hits of his time.

Cannon’s song soon met notoriety as the likes of Louis Armstrong, Patsy Cline, Harry Connick Jr., and most recently Michael Buble immortalized Bailey’s wife’s wishes for her husband to be domesticated. By the 1950s Jackson residents would soon take pride in the ditty that garnered international fame and claimed their city to be the conception point of one of the world’s most famous showtunes.  

Like the Buick, Ritz Cracker, and the Republican Party, “(Won’t You Come Home) Bill Bailey?” is now known as one of Jackson’s great contributions to society. Although the song may not be as great a piece of history as the Grand Old Party or an iconic automobile, Jacksonians to this day brag about the song’s origins in their beloved city.

Of course, no one would know this better than I, Bill Bailey.  I made this city my home five months ago. While I claim  no relationship to the man for which the famous song was named, I do feel  connected to the City of Jackson because of it. I don’t believe a newcomer could ever ask for a better welcoming than to have  a personalized song begging him, “please come home.” Although this song may have been written far before my time, to me it seems very appropriate that it was written in a city so willing to accept outsiders — a special city like no other, our Jackson.

Here’s Brenda Lee’s upbeat version: :

Victory Lane, between Restaurant One Five One and Bella Notte in Downtown Jackson

Victory Lane, between Restaurant One Five One and Bella Notte in Downtown Jackson


Bill Bailey - J.D. McDuffie #70 tribute wheel in Victory Lane

Bill Bailey – J.D. McDuffie #70 tribute wheel in Victory Lane

Think about it … a song written in Jackson has had worldwide impact spanning four generations, from Louis Armstrong to Brenda Lee to The Jetsons to The Simpsons, even The Smurfs!  A 16-year-old songwriter’s simple song will live on and continue to thrive in our continually recycled, inspiring American culture.

16 Days of Jackson – Day 6 – The Grand River, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow…

Community Engagement

by Kenny Price

Some people in Jackson travel by the Grand River every day and never give it a thought. Other people look at the Grand River flowing through Jackson on its 220-mile journey to Lake Michigan, and see its beauty and the great asset that it is or could be.

The last Ice Age ended 13,000 years ago leaving behind the rivers and lakes of Michigan.  Before the 1800s, Indians and a few stray Frenchmen were the only people to roam the land we now call Michigan.  The Potawatomie Indians lived in the southwest part of Michigan and called the Grand River “Washtenong-sepe”.  After the War of 1812 the new “Northwest Passage” of the United States was opening for settlers.  Michigan was a territory with thoughts of becoming a state. A New Yorker Horace Blackman heard there was free land west of Ann Arbor soon to be opened for settlers.  On June 29, 1829, he along with Alex Laverty and guide Pe-wy-tum traveled to an area where twelve Indian trails crossed the Grand River.  A marker at Jackson Street and Trail Street marks the spot where Blackman wanted to homestead.

Horace Blackman Historical Marker

Horace Blackman Historical Marker

Between 1829 and 1900, Jackson became a major industrial city and a major railroad hub. Commercial buildings and industries were built along and over the Grand River.  All of the waste and trash of this “Civilization” was dumped into the Grand River. Businesses believed that the trash and waste they dumped into the river would not be in Jackson long, that it would simply and easily just float on down the river.  By the 1890s citizens of Jackson started complaining about how filthy and smelly the river was.  The citizens started demanding that something be done to clean the river and to take away the awful smell.

The old Grand River pre-Cap, Downtown Jackson

The old Grand River pre-Cap, Downtown Jackson

Around 1910, a study was undertaken to solve the problems with the Grand River. In 1914 a plan was developed to get the filthy and stinky water out of Jackson quicker, to appease the citizens.  The plan was to take the oxbows out of the river from North Street to Berry Road. The study believed making that section of river a straight channel would get the dirty river out of Jackson quicker and make everyone happier.  So between 1914 and 1920 all of the river oxbows from North Street and Berry Road were taken out. The river was straight as an arrow thru that stretch, but the water in the downtown Jackson area still stunk, and was a dirty filthy looking mess.

Nobody was happy, not the citizens, not the government, not the businesses, and especially not the visitors to Jackson. A new study was commissioned and another new plan was developed in 1925.  If nothing would get the dirty, filthy, stinking water out of Jackson, well then maybe the solution was to just cover up the river with concrete.  If nobody saw the dirty filthy river then the problem would be solved.  There was only one problem with the new plan.  How would it be financed?  In 1925 the government of Jackson did not have the money to cover the Grand River.  It was not until 1936 that money was found.  In stepped President Roosevelt and the Federal government to save the day.  President Roosevelt and the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.) had money and they wanted to put Americans to work during the Great Depression.  So the federal government built “The Cap” to cover the river.

The Cap

The Cap

“The Cap” was 2,580-feet long, starting north of Liberty Street (behind now DPW on Water Street) to just south of Louis Glick (where the Toy House is located).  A ten-foot wide and five-feet deep concrete channel was made for the river to flow. Then the area was concreted over to completely hide the river during normal flow times.  The only time the river was visible was during flood times.  The public was appeased; they did not see the filthy river and many families in the Jackson area made money during the Great Depression.

050900_1 (2)

In 1977, the Clean Water Act was enacted and businesses and governments were forced to clean up the river, creeks, and waterways of the United States.  Businesses and Governments in Jackson County were forced to start cleaning the Grand River.  Since 1977 the Grand River has become a lot cleaner. The river today is not as clean as it was before 1829, but the bottom can now be seen and fish are now swimming in the river again. Local business and local governments have made great strides in getting the river cleaner and keeping it clean.

Grand View downtown I

Grand View Downtown I

G.R.E.A.T (the Grand River Environmental Action Team) was founded in 1991 to protect and promote the Grand River.  Since 1991, G.R.E.A.T. has had an annual clean-up of the river.  Almost everything imaginable has been pulled out of the river.  The last five years, G.R.E.A.T has been helped by the J.R.O.T.C. at the Career Center.  A record number of 137 people came out in 2013 to clean the Grand River. G.R.E.A.T. along with its board, members, and friends will continue to clean the river, trying to make it a great asset to the citizens of Jackson County.

Grand View Downtown II

Grand View Downtown II

16 Days of Jackson Day Three – Summer Night Tree: Beauty at Night, Dark Knight by Day

Community Engagement

On this third day of 16 Days of Jackson, the focus turns to a multi-million-dollar piece of art prominently displayed in downtown Jackson:  Louise Nevelson’s Summer Night Tree dedicated in the spring of 1978.  On the night of December 4, 2013 a cool evening air called me to take a walk in downtown Jackson after my first visit to Nostalgia Ink.

I felt a cleansing and healing taking place inside of me as I took deep breaths of the beautiful night air.  Early in my walk, I stumbled upon Summer Night Tree.  At first glance, my breath was taken away.  Where was the black exploding chicken I was used to seeing in daylight?  In front of me was a majestic, multi-faceted gigantic wonder with iridescent silver tones caused by its spotlights.  I slowly circled the Summer Night Tree, soaking in each angle and coming to full realization for the first time why Louise named it the “night” tree.  It springs to life at night.  I was blown away.

The hook

The hook

The Steps

The Steps



Thunderbird close-up

Thunderbird close-up

2013-12-04 23.26.59

Looking at these images today, I realize they don’t do the masterpiece justice.  I remember taking each image clearly, as I savored the refreshing air and wondered at the scope and beauty of the sculpture.  My Toastmaster friend Grant Bauman researched and published this excellent piece on Summer Night Tree:


Fellow Exchange Club member, the Honorable Richard LaFlamme reminded me of a favorite Seinfeld episode when I shared my evening Summer Night Tree experience with him.  The legendary “Festivus” episode included the “two faced” Gwen, Jerry’s girlfriend who looked great in full lighting but scary in poor lighting, somewhat like my day/night experiences with Summer Night Tree. The episode entitled “The Strike” was the tenth episode of the final season of Seinfeld.  The two-faced girlfriend segments are here:

The Festivus segments are here:

Two memorable Seinfeld story lines, all in one big episode.

Special thanks to Grant for his collaboration on this Day Three post and for Judge LaFlamme’s inspiration.

Summer Night Tree during the day

Day time

Day time

artnet Galleries: Maquette for Summer-Night Tree by Louise Nevelson from Hollis Taggart Galleries

Louise Nevelson, Maquette for Summer-Night Tree


16 Days of Jackson – Day Two

Community Engagement

Oh No, Not the Livestock by Jon Hart

In the 1850s all across the country, slavery was causing a division that would only be fully addressed by the spilling of blood in the Civil War.  It was no different in Jackson where abolition and populism crossed.  Enter the figure of Abel Fitch who led an insurrection of local farmers and was also a loyal abolitionist.

Fitch gave the last full measure and over my years of residency in Jackson and researching history, his actions put Jackson in focus for the rest of the nation.  While some of his methods were questionable, Fitch’s commitment begs the questions: what can we do to make Jackson a better place and what is our passion?

Setting the stage for the Freedom Organization

Setting the stage for the Freedom Organization

The one and only Abel Fitch, Jackson's own John Brown

The one and only Abel Fitch, Jackson’s own John Brown

Abel's death leads to the creation of Freedom Organization

Abel’s death leads to the creation of Freedom Organization

Rod’s view on Day Two

So what can we do today, remembering Abel Fitch, John Brown and Sojourner Truth?

Perhaps, by visiting nearby Battle Creek and paying tribute to Sojourner Truth.

Sojourner Truth memorial in Battle Creek

Sojourner Truth memorial in Battle Creek

Or perhaps, simply by experiencing the 11 acres of beauty at Mount Evergreen Cemetery and recognizing the lives of Jackson’s founders, heroes and leaders.

View of Downtown Jackson from Mount Evergreen Cemetery

View of Downtown Jackson from Mount Evergreen Cemetery

Or if your hungry or shopping for the holidays, shop at one of the local stores owned by Jackson residents.  Today’s favorite of mine, thanks to an incredible meeting with new friends and a great conversation with Evan Farmer, visit Cuppa:


16 Days of Jackson – Day ONE

Community Engagement

16 Days of Jackson

From day one, my experiences in Jackson, Michigan have been full of small world confirmation connections; wonderful natural nourishment in the form of outdoor experiences, music, art and Jackson culture; true stories of innovative service unique to the Cool City in South Central Michigan; and everyday people who have survived, thrived and creatively derived aspects of the best community in the world.

Over 16 Days in December, a small group of Jackson residents will share stories, images and personal passions to state the case for our great community. This social media experiment sprouted from the “How Jackson of You” movement.

You can find my “How Jackson of You” message at

Cool Color

Today, I watched the Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison documentary. I have listened to his music for most of my life, but his work has been central in my experiences throughout 2013. My move from Northern California to Jackson — just ahead of the turbulent weather that triggered the May 20th devastating EF5 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma — included six CDs loaded and looped for the whole 2,259-mile road trip. After hours of white-knuckle driving, I finally approached Jackson County. Just after Spring Arbor, for what was probably the 20th time of the car journey, this song and these lyrics sung by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash welcomed me to Jackson, Michigan:


We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout,
We’ve been talkin’ ’bout Jackson, ever since the fire went out.
I’m goin’ to Jackson, I’m gonna mess around,
Yeah, I’m goin’ to Jackson,
Look out Jackson town.

Well, go on down to Jackson; go ahead and wreck your health.
Go play your hand you big-talkin’ man, make a big fool of yourself,
You’re goin’ to Jackson; go comb your hair!
Honey, I’m gonna snowball Jackson.
See if I care.

When I breeze into that city, people gonna stoop and bow. (Hah!)
All them women gonna make me, teach ’em what they don’t know how,
I’m goin’ to Jackson, you turn-a loose-a my coat.
‘Cos I’m goin’ to Jackson.
“Goodbye,” that’s all she wrote.

But they’ll laugh at you in Jackson, and I’ll be dancin’ on a Pony Keg.
They’ll lead you ’round town like a scalded hound,
With your tail tucked between your legs,
You’re goin’ to Jackson, you big-talkin’ man.
And I’ll be waitin’ in Jackson, behind my Jaypan Fan,

Well now, we got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper Sprout,
We’ve been talkin’ ’bout Jackson, ever since the fire went out.
I’m goin’ to Jackson, and that’s a fact.
Yeah, we’re goin’ to Jackson, ain’t never comin’ back.

Well, we got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout’
And we’ve been talkin’ ’bout Jackson, ever since the fire went…

The song “Jackson” has risen in prominence right alongside “Ring of Fire” and “Man in Black” in my music adoration.  Earlier this year, I visited Folsom Prison and spent an afternoon as a special guest of the Youth Diversion Prisoner’s Outreach Program sponsored by Robyn Cole at California State Prison (CSP) Solano in Vacaville, California.

In the same documentary, Johnny greets Glen Sherley on the day of Sherley’s release from CSP Solano.  Here’s the moment when Johnny and Glen met during the Folsom Prison concert prior to Cash’s performance of Sherley’s song “Greystone Chapel”.

Johnny Cash shakes Glen Sherley's hand before performing Sherley's "Greystone Chapel"

Johnny Cash shakes Glen Sherley’s hand before performing Sherley’s “Greystone Chapel”

Johnny’s “Folsom Prison Blues”, “25 Minutes to Go” and “Greystone Chapel” are powerful prison messages for inmates worldwide, including those at Cooper Street Correctional Facility.

The California Medical Facility (CMF), neighbor to CSP Solano, has an active inmate artist program. An original painting by one of the inmates was gifted to me by my friend Laura. It hangs between the two windows in my downtown Jackson apartment looking out over Schupbach’s Sporting Goods and the Grand River.

Beauty out of Ashes: Original art from inmate at California Medical Facility in Vacaville, CA

Beauty out of Ashes: Original art from inmate at California Medical Facility in Vacaville, CA

The 15 subsequent stories in the 16 Days of Jackson will include storytelling involving Jackson institutions, Jackson legends and Jackson masterpieces. The art, nature and intrigue of Day One will continue throughout this community experience.  Watch as it unfolds on your favorite social media outlet.

Autumn in Jackson, Michigan

MI, Nature

As I experience each new autumn day in Jackson, I’m amazed at how much the sunlight and colors of fall entrance me and engage my attention.  This preternatural connection to nature brings added benefits to my holistic health.  I walk outside much more.  I breathe deeper breaths, smelling the scents of autumn as I breathe in and pushing out stress as I breathe out.  I engage in conversation with local residents.  Every new face is a lovable strangers to me, the true stranger, the outsider, the foreigner.

Time and time again, day after day after day, someone in Jackson blows me away with their kindness.  So often, I sense genuine interest in meeting me — that new person from somewhere else.  On October 7, 2013 I experienced a Jackson moment, for me the new signature Jackson moment.

I attempted to order two coney dogs and a large root beer float from the Cascades Ice Cream Company.  I don’t carry cash these days and I realized with a small, seasonal operation, I might be in for an “unable to pay” surprise.  I asked “do you accept debit or credit cards?”  The response from the pleasant 20-something server was a bright “we don’t, but we’re getting the machine for next year”.  She added, “but you can pay tomorrow or later this weekend.”  With shock I offered this incredulous reply “Well, here’s my card so you know who I am.  By the way, I encourage you to come out at walk the trails at Dahlem.  It’s so beautiful this time of year.”  She replied with a smile, “I went there last year with my son’s class on a field trip!”

Here’s the IOU reminder, which I will bring with me to pay my $8.25 debt today:



And here are samples of the beautiful things you’ll find on walks on Dahlem’s trails this season…







For those of you who enjoy walking outside in downtown Jackson, here are several images for you from October, 2013







Autumn Blessings!

Come walk the trails at Dahlem with me this season,