Biker Chicks Ride Again!

Yep, it’s time for the biker chicks to saddle up.  Thankfully, though, we have 3 days in Prague first, to recover from jet lag and to convince ourselves that after weeks of non-activity, seeing parts of Europe by bike is a GOOD idea.

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These biker chicks decided to sit this trip out, but they will be with us in spirit.  Marilyn wants us to drink the local beer, so we will hoist our glasses in a toast to all three of you…probably more than once…or twice…

Marilyn, Sally and Victoria, we will MISS you!  Who is going to make sure I don't lose my glasses???
Marilyn, Sally and Victoria, we will MISS you! Who is going to make sure I don’t lose my glasses???

BUT, we have added two new members.  Denise and Karen are taking their first trip with VBT,  joining us oh, so very cool bikers.

Karen P., Denise, Diane, Karen H and Beth.  Jet lagged, but undaunted.
Karen P., Denise, Diane, Karen H and Beth. Jet lagged, but undaunted.

And we DEFINITELY will be cool, possibly even cold, and probably a bit damp, because the weather forecast for the next 10 days is rain, rain and more rain.  Known as “pula” in Botswana, a rainy day is a joyous occasion.  The Botswanians (if that is the correct term) like rain so much, the word “pula” means rain AND money AND is an all purpose greeting.  So, if rain drops keep fallin on my head, as they did a couple of times this afternoon, I’ll just tell myself I’m still in Africa and rain is cause for celebration.   (We’ll see how THAT works out!)

Yes, we were tired today, after flying all last night, but we managed to march ourselves thither and yon this afternoon, ducking into churches and a restaurant to avoid intermittent sprinkles.

Enough of my babbling.  Time for more photos of this lovely city.

I kept looking UP.  The tops of buildings are magnificent!
I kept looking UP. The tops of buildings are magnificent!
I was also looking DOWN, at the wonderful sidewalks. That looks to me like the Star of David and a cross, peacefully sharing space on the sidewalk.
I was also looking DOWN, at the wonderful sidewalks. That looks to me like the Star of David and a cross, peacefully sharing space on the sidewalk.

The statues are rather fascinating.

I’m guessing that the guy with the turban and curved sword hails from the Ottoman Empire.  But why is he the only one with midriff bulge?  Why does that stag have a gold cross growing out of his head?  And what’s with the handcuffs,  and the guy on the right with his hand on the other guy’s knee?

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Oh SO many questions, and this isn’t even a quiz!  ( Mainly because I don’t know the answers and I’m  punchy because I can’t sleep, though I NEED to,  except my body has NO bloody idea what time zone it is in. )

How about THIS one?

The details in the statues are intriguing.
The details in the statues are intriguing.

I’m SOOOO glad I’m not biking tomorrow!  Although, if the truth be told, ( which, on this blog, happens occasionally) these are not supposed to be very taxing bike rides.  Here’s the map showing the ground we will cover.

Notice the red squiggly lines? THAT’S the biking part. Not so bad, eh.

One last photo and a good night to all.  Aren’t you glad I kept looking up?

I have no idea what this is either
I have no idea what this is either

Home Town Hero

Every town should have its very own super hero. Henry Huttleston Rogers was Fairhaven’s.  If you’ve never heard of him, that’s an indication that you don’t live in Fairhaven  and you probably took I-195 from Providence to Cape Cod, instead of the more scenic Route 6. Sure, I-195 will get you to the beach faster, but what you miss is a chance to see the impact one of Standard Oil’s “robber barons” can have on a sweet little town.

Henry Huttleston Rogers Memorial on Huttleston Avenue
Henry Huttleston Rogers Memorial on Huttleston Avenue

After you clear the bridge from New Bedford, the highway’s name changes to Huttleston Avenue, and if you look to your left, you’ll see one of the many reasons the town has chosen to honor its home town hero.

Fairhaven High School
Fairhaven High School

The gorgeous Elizabethan stone structure, completed in 1906, is actually Fairhaven High School, Henry Huttleston Rogers’ last gift to the town before his death in 1909. I have never been inside–I attended a regional high school–but my sister Sue (the source of all my inside information) tells me the school has marble floors, wood paneling, and carved gargoyles in the auditorium.  The adolescent version of me probably wouldn’t have noticed these grand architectural features anyway.  I would have been too busy hoping one of the other auditorium “creatures” would ask me out after the assembly ended.

I DID pass many afternoons during my teen years as a volunteer at Our Lady’s Haven.

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Completed in 1905, the building was originally known as the Tabitha Inn.  Designed to resemble a Shakespearian era Inn, it was described as the grandest hotel outside of New York and Boston.  Samuel Clements, better known as Mark Twain, was one of its frequent guests. It became a home for “the elderly and infirm” after it was purchased by the Catholic Diocese in 1944.

I stopped in to say hello and to take a look around the lobby.  Back in my day, it was run by the Carmelite nuns, but today only one nun remains.  Lovely Sr. Eileen from Ireland is now running the show, making sure Fairhaven’s senior citizens receive tender loving care.

Next to the Tabitha Inn is  a red brick schoolhouse, another gift from Rogers.  The school’s last class graduated this year, and the building is now closed, so all future students will be studying in a more modern building.

Rogers Elementary School, closed in 2013
Rogers Elementary School, closed in 2013

From June through September, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Fairhaven office of tourism offers 90 minute guided tours, starting at 10 AM  from the town hall — and yes, Rogers donated that too.  Click on this link for more information about the tour and the town.

Fairhaven Town Hall
Fairhaven Town Hall

I wasn’t crass enough to photograph the interior of Our Lady’s Haven, (not everyone enjoys getting their image blasted into cyberspace) but the interior architecture of the town hall is very similar…so you get the idea of how lovely both places are.

Town Hall Interior--grand staircase, with arches and carved wooden railings
Town Hall Interior–grand staircase, with arches and carved wooden railings

My very special childhood place is across the street from the town hall.  The Millicent Library was built in 1890 as a memorial to one of Rogers’ daughter’s, who was 17 when she died.

Millicent Library
Millicent Library

I don’t think this is a statue of Millicent.  Pretty racy for a small town in the 1900’s, wouldn’t you say?

Statue in the library reading room
Statue in the library reading room

My summer days were spent in the children’s reading room, where  I discovered that “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was only the first in an entire series L Frank Baum wrote about the magical land of Oz.  Those books kept the 9 year old me entertained for an entire summer!

As I was leaving the library, one of the friendly residents (did I mention that Fairhaven people are VERY friendly?) asked whether I had noticed Dante atop the library.  I never had before–but here he is, for your viewing pleasure.

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So, who was Henry Huttleston Rogers–and how did he amass such a huge fortune? Rogers got his start in Pennsylvania, where, in 1861, he and a partner started a small business refining oil. By 1885, he had joined with John D Rockefeller, eventually becoming one of the three key men of Standard Oil. Known as “the Brains of Standard Oil Trust” and “Hell Hound Rogers”, he was a captain of industry.

He was also a generous man who befriended Booker T Washington and paid for Helen Keller’s Radcliffe education.

The “giving” tradition continued with Rogers’ granddaughter, (official name when she died: Mary Millicent Abigail Rogers von Salm-Hoogstraeten de Peralta-Ramos Balcom, but she went by Millicent Rogers–and who can blame her?) who founded the Millicent Rogers museum in Taos, New Mexico to house native American art.  The daughter of Rogers’ only son, she was quite a fascinating character–but that’s a subject for another time.

Visitors to Fairhaven should stop at Margaret’s or Elizabeth’s for a great meal. The restaurants are side by side, near the waterfront.  If you are lucky, you might get lovely Kristen for your server, and Kevin may be your chef!