Civil War Ballads: High Water Mark

“High Water Mark” is part three in a three-part, 32-minute epic appearing on heavy metal band Iced Earth’s album The Glorious Burden (2004). The three-song serial commemorates the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1861. Former Judas Priest frontman Tim “Ripper” Owens provided vocals on the album. The songs appear to be based on either the novel The Killer Angels (1987) by Michael Shaara or the movie Gettysburg (1993), which was also based on the novel.

[Lee:]
“It was very close yesterday
I thought for sure they would break
But this attack that I have planned
A massive strike across open land
In the center they will break
Plan it well, everything’s at stake
We’ll hit ’em hard, not a silent gun
Before the infantry’s begun.

Execute it well, we risk everything.
It’s in God’s hands now.”

[Longstreet:]
“General Lee I must tell you straight
That I believe this attack will fail.
No 15,000 men ever made
Will overtake that ridge today.
A mile charge over open ground
With Yankee cannon gunnin’ us down.”

[Lee:]
“We do our duty, We do what we must
And in my plan you will trust.”
(Thousands die on this day)
“Execute it well, we risk everything.
It’s in God’s hands now.”

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Abandoned Oasis: Ochopee’s Monroe Station

Before this historic rest stop burnt down in 2016, it was rumored to have been a stomping ground of infamous gangster Al Capone.

  • Monroe Station, as it came to be known, was built in the late 1920s and moved to accommodate a road-widening in 1957.
  • William Erwin, the first officer to serve at Monroe Station, died in an accident along the road in January 1929.
  • Federal regulators forced it to close in the 1980s due to environmental concerns.

A narrow road called Tamiami Trail runs through Big Cypress National Preserve between Naples, Florida and the Miami suburbs. The 720,000-acre preserve was added to the United States National Park System in October 1972. An abandoned white, clapboard building formerly sat at the intersection of Tamiami Trail and Loop Road, beckoning travelers to pull over and contemplate its origin.

For many decades, this small building was the only way station on the long journey through the wet cypress forest. Federal regulators forced it to close in the 1980s due to environmental concerns over its old gas pumps, and it has sat abandoned ever since. Now known as Monroe Station, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000 after being used in films like Gone Fishin’ (1997) staring Danny Glover and Joe Pesci.

This unique building has an interesting history, and is even rumored to have been a stomping ground of infamous gangster Al Capone. The Tamiami Trail was completed across the Everglades in 1928. Shortly thereafter, a man named Barron Collier built six stations along the road for motorists looking for somewhere to fuel up, relax, and get a bite to eat.

One of these was Monroe Station. According to local legend, Al Capone owned a speakeasy and gambling den in the nearby community of Pinecrest. He left its management to a relative and occasionally returned to visit. On these trips, locals say, Capone stopped by Monroe Station. However, there is no evidence that the infamous Chicago gangster ever set foot in the area.

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The Haunted: A Social History of Ghosts

The Haunted: A Social History of Ghosts by Owen Davies was first published in England in 2007. A paperback was released in the United States in 2009. The Haunted is not a traditional or linear history. Davies looks at trends spanning several centuries, from the Reformation to the present day. By exploring these trends, he hopes to explain how and why England has become so “haunted.”

Debates over ghost belief reveal much about England’s social and intellectual history. Davies makes a compelling argument that being haunted by the dead is part of the human condition, at least for a significant portion of the population, as all attempts to eradicate ghost belief over the past 500 years have failed.

Davies divides his book into three parts: Experience (what did ghosts look like, where were they found, and how have people tried to find them?), Explanation (how have people made sense of ghost sightings?), and Representation (how have people sought to replicate or reproduce ghosts and ghostly phenomenon?). The Haunted runs the gamut of English (and some Continental) cultural and intellectual experience, but its organization opens these topics to the reader in an easy to digest format. Every chapter explains the key players, arguments, and trends, while offering plenty of primary examples.

Most studies of ghosts from 1700 on primarily rely on four authors who collected hundreds of accounts, but these accounts were collected from the middle and upper classes. They say little about the beliefs of rural and urban working classes, who made up the majority of the population. Davies scours a grab bag of sources to add these voices to the discussion, while never losing sight of the dominant intellectual trends.

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All-American Diner Tour: Julie’s Diner in North Syracuse, New York

Located off Brewerton Road (US Highway 11) at the terminus of Airport Boulevard just outside the Syracuse Hancock International Airport in North Syracuse, New York, Julie’s is a modern diner with a fresh, contemporary style. Their motto is “We dish it out, you gotta take it!” (Not sure what that’s supposed to mean…)

Julie’s was crowded when a friend and I visited. We sat at the small counter (5 to 6 seats at most) and both had their signature waffles. I also got a side of raisin toast. I don’t know if blueberries were just out of season, but the blueberry topping they used seemed old and the berries were tiny. The waffle was good though. The diner was clean and the wait staff was friendly, despite the rush.

Julie’s is only open until 2:30 p.m., so breakfast is its primary focus. Without a doubt, people come here for the waffles. They are served Belgian style with several different fruit toppings, or just powdered sugar.

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Civil War Ballads: Hold At All Costs

“Hold At All Costs” is part two in a three-part, 32-minute epic appearing on heavy metal band Iced Earth’s album The Glorious Burden (2004). The three-song serial commemorates the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1861. Former Judas Priest frontman Tim “Ripper” Owens provided vocals on the album. The songs appear to be based on either the novel The Killer Angels (1987) by Michael Shaara or the movie Gettysburg (1993), which was also based on the novel.

[Armistead:]
“Just a mile or so away
Lies my dearest friend in this world.
He wears the Blue and I the Gray
And God it hurts me so
The last time we were together
I grabbed his hand and I pledged
If I ever draw my sword on you
May the good lord strike me dead.”

The Union flank’s in trouble
To the Round Top on the double
A bad decision, insubordination
Exposed our line in a dangerous way

The burden lies upon us
Surrender is not an option
We are the flank and if we break
The Union crumbles, We could lose the war!

Down below the carnage
The rebels charging onward
Push the slaughter toward the Peach Orchard.
Through the Wheatfield and Devil’s Den

The valor of the Texans
And Alabama’s best men
They’re unrelenting and devastating
The last full measure of devotion’s clear.

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Barrington’s Mysterious Cuba Road

I grew up in the northwest Chicago suburbs. Des Plaines to be exact. Home of the famous Choo Choo Restaurant, the first franchised McDonald’s, and the stomping grounds of John Wayne Gacy. When my friends and I wanted a scare, we usually trekked out to Cuba Road, a lonely avenue north of the Chicago suburbs, about a good half hour drive from my home. My sister, being four years older than I, was the first person I ever heard mention the road. She had just gotten her driver’s license, and like many teens, wanted to take her new found freedom somewhere thrilling. Cuba Road was such a place.

It was dark and remote, filled with mansions set far back from the road, and where one never knew what was lurking around the bend. There were rumors of abandoned insane asylums, phantom cars, haunted cemeteries, and a whole host of things that went bump in the night. For added danger, a few of the more fool hardy visitors turned off their headlights to see how long they could drive along the inky black avenue before common sense, and fear, got the better of them.

Cuba Road sits nestled between the towns of Lake Zurich and Barrington, both upper and upper-middle class retreats. The main portion of the road runs between Route 12 (Rand Road) and Route 14 (Northwest Highway) and is home to a veritable cornucopia of legends. White Cemetery, located along the western half of the road, has its spook lights. The avenue itself hosts a phantom car (or cars), a pair of spectral lovers, and a vanishing house. Rainbow Road, a side street off Cuba, had the distinction of being home to an abandoned mansion that some believed was either and old asylum or a getaway for gangsters. That building has since been torn down and the property is being redeveloped.

The ghost stories that seem to literally pour out of the mouths of visitors led famed author Ursula Bielski to proclaim, “For Chicagoland ghosthunters, Cuba Road is the single most notorious haunted site north of southwest suburban Bachelors Grove Cemetery.” Those familiar with the notoriety of Bachelor’s Grove understand the challenge of filling shoes of that size. Scott Markus, who has done impeccable research on the folklore of the road, dubbed it “the Archer Avenue of the North Side,” because of the variety of stories.

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All-American Diner Tour: Knotty Pine Diner in Wampsville, New York

Located along Genesee Street (Route 5) just west of Oneida, New York, the Knotty Pine is a rustic, country-style diner. It sits in the heart of a historic area with lots to see and do, including the Oneida Community Mansion House, Turning Stone Casino, and Boxing Hall of Fame.

I liked the atmosphere and decor at the Knotty Pine. There is counter seating, booths, and plenty of table space for larger groups. I ordered the Knotty Pine Breakfast Combo, which as you can see from the above photo, is enough for one person but you won’t have any leftovers. I also had a Diet Coke (of course), and my total came to $11.10. My eggs were well done, not runny, just the way I like them. On my visit they were offering a special omelet, spicy ham and pepperoni with hash browns.

TVs were displaying the local news at a reasonable volume.

Breakfast is served at the Knotty Pine until 11:30 a.m. They have two custom breakfast items: the Knotty Pine Big Breakfast, featuring two eggs served on home fries with ham, peppers, onions, and Texas toast for $7.99, and the Knotty Pine Breakfast Combo, featuring two eggs, two pieces of toast, two slices of bacon or sausage links, and two pancakes for $7.99. Both standard diner specials.

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