Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Hebron Crossroads 5-19
by Jeff Gill

Down US 40 to the east end of town is the Hebron Cemetery, where each year on Memorial Day much of the village and surrounding area gathers to remember those "who gave the last full measure of devotion."

Behind the American Legion color guard and the Lakewood Band, local dignitaries and "just folks" of the township all walk down East Main to stand in tribute among the stones and markers, laying wreaths and keeping silence during "Taps."

We'll have more detailed information about Memorial Day observances next week, but as many of us anticipate being present for that observance, we can also anticipate a change in view, one more of many that have closed in around this once isolated spot. Just across the National Road is the rising profile of the new Kroger store, with Buckeye Outdoors already filling out part of the horizon due south. Southwest of the cemetery entrance can be seen the northern edge of what will soon dominate the southern approach to Hebron, the Lake Forest subdivision of Dominion Homes. And clearly in view to the north, at what's become the "north entrance" to Hebron at Enterprise Drive is the framing of the new McDonald's.

So much changes each year, and this year in particular, but out at Hebron Cemetery the stones keep their stations, and silently speak about what does not change. These foundation stones of our community heritage may lean in the earth, their inscriptions may fade a bit against the west wind, but our gathering each Memorial Day is something that doesn't have to change, and might even grow stronger.

Whatever the new Hebron will look like when the current round of construction and development is over, it will look all the more beautiful with the preservation not just of memorials, but also of traditions like our Memorial Day gathering. I hope you can join us that day, as veterans and citizens and all people of good will come together as a living memorial.

If you want to go a bit farther afield to see some of the visible memorials of our national heritage, the Ohio Historical Society (OHS) in Columbus will have a very special exhibit from the National Archives in Washington May 24 to September 2. "American Originals" is the name of the display, which will include the Louisiana Purchase treaty of 1803, Thomas Edison's patent application for the electric lamp of 1879, and a letter from Neil Armstrong to President Nixon inviting him to dinner before the Apollo 11 launch in 1969.

A very special part of this exhibit is the fragile original of the Emancipation Proclamation from 1863, which will be on display only from June 20 to 23. More durable for your ongoing access, at least, is the web site www.ohiomemory.org where digital versions of many aspects of Ohio history are already on display.

Starting Memorial Day weekend most of the 62 OHS sites around the state are opening up for regular weekend and some weekday hours, but my summer will definitely include a visit to the Ohio Historical Center in Columbus, just north of the Fairgrounds, to see the "American Originals" and . . . remember.

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and a strong supporter of national service of all sorts; if you have thoughts on that or any other subject of general interest, call 928-4066 or e-mail disciple@voyager.net.
There Are Clowns Among Us!
by Jeff Gill, Contributing Scribbler

Newark may have 200 years of history to celebrate this year, but for an event which has been around just 7% of that time, "ClownTown" is turning into one of Newark and Licking County's chief claims to fame. Their signature "Clown Parade" at 4:00 pm, Saturday May 18, on Courthouse Square in Newark has become a don't miss experience for many, enhanced this year by the particpation of the Bicentennial Commission with added attractions from 2 to 6 pm.

With 300 red-nosed, floppy-shoed registrants hailing from Conneticut to Mars (they're pretty sure about the Conneticut one, anyhow), "ClownTown" is beginning its 14th year out at OSU-N/COTC. The three days of workshops, displays, and programs officially begin on Friday, May 17, but last weekend a dozen beginners went through a full day clown workshop that begins the "ClownTown" experience for many. The syllabus shows that they learned "adequately animating festive figures with your fingers," as well as "creating clever characters on children's cheeks," plus "talentedly twisting darling dirigibles," which turned out to be making balloon figures with Mr. FunnyBunny.
The next program was "Grandiose Gourmandizing," or lunch, so I took the opportunity to talk to Mr. FunnyBunny, who is occasionally called Mike Wesley when he's delivering mail . . . when he's not called "hey, balloon guy!"

Mike has been involved with "ClownTown" since the beginning, and has enjoyed the fellowship with clowns from literally all across the country. He and his brother Choo-Choo have been Mayors of "ClownTown," and the title this year goes to Choo-Choo's daughter Christina, also known as Crystal Clear.

Crystal Clear has grown up with "ClownTown," starting as a child and still active while teaching at Blessed Sacrament School. When asked what she most hoped to enjoy as mayor, she replied, "Getting to boss my dad and uncle around, and laughing the entire weekend."

As their beginner workshop titles show, even when clowns get serious they're pretty funny. Clowns do have a strong sense of history, and Jeff Potts, aka Bungles the Clown, told me about the three main types of clown.

"There's the classic whiteface, which can be both serious and funny," he told me, "and that basic kind of clown goes back to Rome and ancient Egypt as a comic figure." This is the "harlequin" type of appearance, often with a striped coverall and "clown white" makeup covering the entire face and head. "This type grew into the comedy whiteface, who you see in well-known clowns like Bozo and Ronald McDonald."

"Then there is the "Auguste" type or just "Gus," from the German for a clumsy boy," Bungles went on, with the red nose and big feet that might indicate a bit of drunken foolishness; this type emphazises physical humor and slapstick.

The last type is the character clown, like the Tramp made famous by Emmett Kelly in our day. In the 1800's, Joseph Grimaldi amazed audiences at circuses with his many characters and quick changes, memorialized in the clown nickname "a Joey."

Just as the beginner clown day ended with the "conscious conclusion of cavortation," all good things must end . . . but not "ClownTown," which seems to just keep going and going! The crowds at the Saturday Clown Parade just keep getting bigger and bigger, and the Mayor and Clowncil of "ClownTown" keep making plans for a newer, more exciting event each year. They also appreciate the help and support through the years from Moundbuilders Kiwanis, and this year from the Newark Bicentennial Commission to add activities to Saturday on the Square.

But they'll never stop making balloon animals, Mr. FunnyBunny promises.

For more information on ClownTown, see www.clowntown.org.
Hebron Crossroads
by Jeff Gill

Mother's Day this weekend reminds us to be thankful for and appreciate the mothers in our lives. Our own, our wives, grandmothers, aunts, even Sunday school teachers and friendly neighbors with a motherly way about them.

This year, I have a mother to appreciate that gives me a slightly different angle on appreciating motherhood. I mentioned a couple weeks ago that a robin had built her nest cradled in the welcome wreath hung from our front door. One egg appeared, and then disappeared into bits and pieces around our front stoop; then three more appeared.

Thinking that some of you might have robins' nests in odd spots around your home, and wondering how long we'd be directing visitors through the garage, Joyce and I did a little research. Robins tend to mate in February and lay eggs in late March or early April. The eggs are warmed under the mother in the nest for about three weeks, when they hatch.

Right on schedule, our eggs have turned into three gape-mouthed nestlings, each of which expect (loudly) their body weight in grubs, bugs, and worm bits every day. They tell us that from hatching, the nestlings (and Mother Robin!) have 14 to 16 days of this routine until they "fledge," or become fledglings, which is the most hazardous part of their average two- to three-year life-span.

During fledging, as they learn to fly, robin chicks may be found on the ground, and this is when well-intentioned folk often think they've found an "orphaned" chick. As any pilot can tell you, ground training is at least as important as learning aerobatic maneuvers, and that's what little robins have to get through. The flunk-out is a bit harsher than flight school normally imposes, though.

If you find a chick wandering and chirping, odds are mother is at a safe distance, but grimly watching nature take its course. Look around, and you may well see a nest nearby in a low branch . . . or on a door wreath. Resist the temptation to pick up the bird and replace it, and instead shoo away the gimlet-eyed cat or toddler who want to "hewp da tweedy burd."

Meanwhile, about a week after you read this, we should have our front door back! We'll see how fledging goes, but watching Mother Robin build her nest (good architecture), brood on her nest, and now feed her voracious nestful gives me a whole new appreciation for a mother's work, which we all know is never. . .!

Which brings us to a guest speaker at the Hebron Library on Wed., May 15, at 6:30 pm. Dr. Lorle Porter will be speaking on and signing her book "Sara's Table: Keeping House in Ohio, 1800-1950." Focused on New Concord, Ohio during that time period, her materials are gathered under the auspices of the old saying "A man may work from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done."

Any guest speaker who can talk authoritatively about head cheese and souse has my attention, and I strongly encourage Hebron area women AND men to come welcome this local author.

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and a friend to robins everywhere; if you have a story of mother's love to share or local news, call 928-4066 or e-mail him at disciple@voyager.net