Some Native names regarding the Cascades mountains

Many of the Pacific Northwest’s most prominent features are known by the names of Europeans or their descendants, rather than their earlier Native designations. Since the tribes on one side of the Cascade mountains had a different language stock than those of the other side, the names could be quite different.

  1. Mount Washington: Tahoma or Tacoma
  2. Mount Adams: Patoh or Klickitat
  3. Mount Hood: Wy’east
  4. Mount St. Helens: Loowit or Louwala Clough
  5. Mount Baker: Kulshan
  6. Mount Jefferson: Seekseekqua or Kuassal Teminbi
  7. Mount Shasta: Ako-Yet or Yeh te che na or Et ti ja na
  8. The Cascade Range: Yamakiasham Yaina
  9. Columbia River: Wimhal or Wimal, Nch’I-Wana or Nichi-Wanna, Swah’netk’qhu
  10. Bridge of the Gods: Tanmanhawis


There’s some rich mythology involving these names and their personalized characteristics. For instance, the brothers Patoh/Klickitat and Wy’east, after traveling down the Columbia River from the far north to resettle, entered into some heated rivalry for the fair maiden Loowit/Louwala Clough. Their volcanic eruptions of jealousy and earth quaking even resulted in the collapse of the Bridge of the Gods across the river, producing a series of rapids.

There’s plenty more, if you chose to investigate. Any to share from where you live?  


Some remarkable teachers I’ve had

No, the philosophy prof who wore the same suit to every class the first semester and another one for the second – he doesn’t count. These are ones who really shaped my thinking.

  1. Ethel McLennan, high school English teacher. She instilled a love of grammar I’ve relied on religiously the rest of my life.
  2. Vincent Ostrom, political science professor. He was keen on nurturing independent scholars who could critically assess a proposition and articulate their own position.
  3. Lavern Berry, high school student teaching summer workshops at the Dayton Museum of Natural History. He was a star who then vanished from sight. Still, his two-week chemistry course got me through a semester in college, and his advice about learning in general was something a kid like me needed.
  4. Professora Hughes, high school Spanish. The best.
  5. Jane Meyer, high school visual art. Much of what I learned in four years with her got applied throughout my career as a journalist when I designed pages and cropped photos.
  6. Harold Weiner, middle school visual art. Opened my eyes to modernism.
  7. Helen Rayner, third grade. I’m still fond of jack-in-the-pulpits.
  8. Miss Gillespie, sixth-grade English. She broke our hearts when she moved to a high school across town and again a bit later when we heard of her engagement. Did I mention she was beautiful and fresh out of college?
  9. Swami Lakshmy, Poconos ashram.
  10. Dick Allen, college creative writing.


Any great teachers in your past?

Words or phrases I overuse

All those years in the newsroom, I still tend to conditionalize everything, rather than strike for a bold statement.

  1. I think.
  2. I guess.
  3. Maybe.
  4. Would. (Example: It would seem that …)
  5. I hope.
  6. I fear. (Or worry.)
  7. I realize.
  8. That sucks.
  9. Are you sure?
  10. Martini. As in, Quitting Time.


What I find difficult to say is “I need” or “I want.” At least directly. I usually beat around the bush with soft questions.

How ’bout you?

Glorious auditoriums in my life

Often, the halls where I’ve encountered the most incredible musical performances have been pretty utilitarian. Some were cramped, others had questionable acoustics or sight lines, and many were bland to the eye. Something, quite simply, was missing.

The big auditorium at Indiana University comes to mind or the related high school where the weekly Saturday night operas were presented or my hometown’s Memorial Hall and National Cash Register Company’s venue. (NCR’s back in the day before naming rights.) Even Philharmonic Hall in Manhattan, as it was known then, or Chicago’s.

Here are ten I remember quite differently, with fondness.

  1. Music Hall, Cincinnati. The acoustics up in the second balcony, where I usually sat, were crisp and clear. The two-tier Italianate horseshoe balcony looked timeless. And the proscenium was encased in a lacework of small golden lights. Yes, it was a large hall and still is, even after some judicious trimming. Home of the Cincinnati Symphony, as well as the opera and May Festival. My favorite of all time.
  2. Musical Arts Center, Bloomington, Indiana. Designed primarily as an opera house, it has some of the best technical support for creative stagecraft in the New World, and acoustics to match. It’s a small theater by American standards, a plus for the singers and audience alike, and its three-tier balcony makes you feel like you’re onstage when it comes to observing the action. The hall’s still flexible for orchestral and ballet performances by the world-acclaimed Jacobs School of Music students and faculty and guests.
  3. Sanders Theater, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s like an indoor version of Shakespeare’s Globe, with plenty of glowing wood all around. It’s a small stage, although the Boston Symphony used to play there in its early days. For us, it’s the home of the Boston Revels’ Christmas productions, first and foremost.
  4. The Meyerhoff, Baltimore. Opened in 1982 in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, the hall is a delight that includes clean sight lines throughout the auditorium and wonderful spaces for audiences before, after, and during intermissions. When I lived just up the street, folks in the know were still lamenting the orchestra’s move from the Lyric Opera House a block away, but I never had an opportunity for comparison.
  5. Symphony Hall, Boston. For many, this is the ideal hall, rich in history. Two-thirds the size of Cincinnati’s, its acoustics are often praised, but I sense it’s a case of the sound onstage, where musicians can hear each other with ease, versus what’s heard in the audience. (Carnegie Hall in Manhattan is a similar situation.) I’m hoping to get back, maybe taking the train down for a Friday afternoon BSO concert.
  6. Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, Boston.  Having undergone an expensive restoration, it’s a jewel of a historic concert hall. Just the right size for performers and audience alike.
  7. Severance Hall, Cleveland. It’s like being encased in pearls, the best I can explain it. The orchestra’s summer home, the Blossom Music Center, has a similar feel, except it’s in glowing wood and open on all sides – I’ve always heard the concerts while sitting on blankets on the sloping hillside.
  8. The Peristyle, Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio. The open space is more like an Italian garden without the greens. The idea of attending concerts in an art museum leads to other memories, especially Dayton’s delightful hall with tapestries on the wall or Manchester, New Hampshire’s, before the additions.
  9. Akron Civic Theater, Ohio. A wonderful example of preserving an old movie house.
  10. Music Hall, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A small horse-shoe balcony type house built in 1878 for vaudeville and lovingly restored, it’s home to everything from live music and dance to lectures to classic movies and the Met’s Live-in-HD series.


Let me add honorable mentions to Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Faneuil Hall in Boston. I’ve been inside both and am impressed but have yet to hear a live performance in them.


A sampling of my favorite reporters

This post intended to focus on national, even international stars, but I quickly realized how many masters I’ve seen and even worked with the local level.

Here’s a mix of ten.

  1. Hub Meeker: fine arts reporter at the Dayton Journal Herald. I’ve mentioned editor Glenn Thompson before, and he had an eye for talent. Hub covered everything from architecture to opera to even the zoo with his State of the Arts column and daily reporting. His writing shaped much of my artistic sensibility when I was a teen, and I always wanted to have my own column like his.
  2. The Yakima Quartet: Their names slip away from me at the moment, and besides, I couldn’t pick just one over the others. We had attracted four hotshot young reporters who were aggressive and yet soon admired each other’s work. One was even honored one year as the best arts reporter and the best business reporter in the Northwest, beating out the pros in Seattle and Portland.
  3. Jim Gosney: Also in Yakima, he switched from sports, as I recall, and launched a daily column that profiled regular folks who made the Happy Valley a more interesting place to be. It was a harder assignment than you might assume, and he had a knack for it.
  4. David Broder: The Washington Post’s top political writer, he was deeply informed, clear, and a paragon of objective observation. I remember watching him stride tall and self-composed across our newsroom once, and unlike most of the other celebrity journalists, print and broadcast, who showed up with entourages, he was solo. That alone says tons.
  5. Richard L. Stout: Christian Science Monitor writer and author of the weekly “TRB from Washington” column, he was considered the dean of Washington reporters. His coverage of Watergate had an added twist, since he had earlier covered the Teapot Dome scandal. His strategy for the column was to find something to get mad about and then sit down on Wednesday and pursue it.
  6. Mike Royko: A product of the rough-and-tumble Chicago school of journalism, especially the independent City News Bureau, before becoming a columnist for the Chicago Daily News, the tabloid Sun-Times, and finally the Trib. He knew the streets and could be tough, despite his reputation as a humorist. He was also fiercely independent.
  7. Jimmy Breslin: At his best, as in his days at the Herald-Tribune, he was the epitome of the “new journalism” as a columnist who covered live news rather than reflecting on what others had reported. His career had its ups and downs.
  8. Ted Bingham: The opinion page editor of the Dayton Journal Herald, he also researched and wrote the bulk of its editorials. They were short and to the point. The ones I remember, though, were humorous, usually the bottom one of three or four on the left-hand side of the page. These often commented on news that hadn’t otherwise made it into the paper – say the return of the starlings to downtown or the manhole cover thieves in Karachi.
  9. Roger Talbot: He was a master at the carefully researched in-depth article, not that he couldn’t cover breaking news expertly, either. At the New Hampshire Sunday News, he often tackled a fat state agency or legislative report and dug up enough hot material to play big on the front page and then have the rest of the media chasing the rest of the week. It was kind of the approach that had made I.F. Stone famous on the national level a generation earlier.
  10. Jeanne Morris: Another S’News colleague, she was great at researching and pursuing an offbeat front page report that no one else would have come up with. The most creative, as far as I remember, was the one where she took one car to 20 state inspection stations to see how they compared. Somehow, she had to keep removing the new sticker and replacing it, a feat that still confounds me, before taking it to the next shop. Half passed the vehicle, and half failed it, for varying reasons. And then, for a baseline, she took it to the state police garage, where it was impounded for its numerous defects. Her report wound up saving old-car owners and inspectors a ton of grief.


Well, that’s a sampling. I could keep going on, but it’s your turn.

Who would you hail as a fine reporter?

More random notes in no particular order

  1. If you’re wearing a backpack, thank a hippie.
  2. The blues singer Mills Amoskeag. OK, it’s an inside joke, should I ever play it.
  3. If you’re puzzled by your parents’ or grandparents’ generation, you’re not alone. Many of us who were part of it are still puzzled, too.
  4. Prime foliage is when the red kicks in
  5. A trailblazer is not a trend follower.
  6. Should she play her cards right? One teacher, no doubt primed for the pinnacle somewhere.
  7. Island life has limits, they’re part of the appeal.
  8. No doubt way outdated data: The average American woman has had two sexual partners, lifetime, including spouse. Male, six, including spouse. Means a lot of people aren’t getting any.
  9. Note the phrase: In relationship.
  10. Do you believe in fate? Have you lived with a sense of destiny?

Ten things about Baptists

In my novel The Secret Side of Jaya, she learns a lot about Baptists while living in the Ozarks.

For starters, within their shared identity, they come in all varieties of theological nuance and group practice – and the lines within them can be drawn sharply. And they don’t handle snakes as part of their worship.

Here are a few facts:

  1. Baptism is reserved for believing “born again” adults and is usually by water immersion only. Jesus is accepted as Lord and Savior.
  2. Church authority, with few exceptions, is placed in the local congregation, which can voluntarily affiliate with other like-minded fellowships. Beliefs can vary by congregation, historically along Calvinist versus Arminian lines. Far more than I want to get into here, other than say I’m in the Arminian camp.
  3. The major affiliations in the U.S. are the Southern Baptist Convention, American Baptist Association, National Baptist Convention, National Baptist Convention of America, American Baptist Churches USA, and Baptist Bible Fellowship International. Far from the only ones.
  4. There are also Independent Baptist churches that refuse to affiliate with others.
  5. Faith is a matter between God and the individual. Thus, absolute liberty of conscience is essential.
  6. The Bible is asserted as the only norm of faith and practice. So start flipping pages.
  7. Baptist membership is roughly 100 million worldwide – half of them in the USA, where they constitute a third of American Protestants, especially in the South.
  8. They make up more than 40 percent of the population in Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.
  9. Forty-five percent of African-Americans identify themselves as Baptists.
  10. The Lord’s Supper, or communion, is considered symbolic and not necessary for salvation. There is no set calendar for its observance.


Does this make their identity any clearer? We haven’t even touched on some of the key theological language.


Some facts about the Brethren

The Brethren resemble Mennonites in many ways, including their belief that baptism is for believing adults only, but they have their differences, beginning with the way they baptize. They traditionally do it by trine immersion, and historically that often happened in the dead of winter, once they broke the ice in the stream. Seriously.

Much of my ancestry on my dad’s side were Brethren, as I explain on my Orphan George blog.

Here’s a brief introduction to the faith.

  1. Alexander Mack (1679-1735) was the leader and first minister of a Pietist community that broke with the three state churches in Germany in 1708. Persecution sent them fleeing to the Netherlands and then, beginning in 1719, to Pennsylvania. Mack arrived with about 30 families ten years later, essentially completing the migration to the New World.
  2. They often resembled the Amish – and some still do – including the German-speaking identity. Like the Amish, Mennonites, and Quakers, they have upheld a peace testimony that rejects participation in war.
  3. They also led lives modeled on simplicity and a non-creedal belief, “No creed but the New Testament.”
  4. They were active on the American frontier and grew in numbers.
  5. There has often been an identity problem. They were often called Dunkards or Dunkers, for their mode of baptism, which some found offensive, or German Baptist Brethren – but please don’t confuse them with the Baptists or the United Brethren in Christ, which I was raised in, or the Brethren in Christ, an offshoot of the Mennonites. Or the Plymouth Brethren in Garrison Keillor’s past, who broke off from the Anglicans.
  6. Tensions between conservatives and progressives led in the 1880s to a separation that split off the Old German Baptist Brethren, on one side, and the Brethren Church, on the other, from the central body, now known as the Church of the Brethren.
  7. The Heifer Project began as a Brethren peace and social justice initiative in the 1950s.
  8. Denominational polity is through Annual Conference.
  9. The annual love feast includes foot washing.
  10. What others call sacraments the Brethren call ordinances. Among them are the laying on of hands and anointing for healing or for consecrating an individual for service.