Michiana Brits 2011 Spring Drive
By Kai Shepherd
I always love going on drives with Keith Wishmeier, you know that they will contain a lot of history and architecture. This spring's overnight drive to Wilmington, OH was no exception. The span of history on this year's drive started in present day, stopped in the middle and early 20th century and ended approximately 2000 years ago.
Michele and Kai Shepherd (SUV…that's for another story) Mary and Keith Wishmeier (Spitfire) meet up at Bev and Randy Glander's (Spitfire) Elkhart home on a very rainy Saturday May 14th morning. The group picked up Blanche and Chuck Knight (MBG/GT) in route and continued to the south side of Huntington, IN, where the sky turned blue and the tops came down on both Spits. As we crossed over into Ohio and the sky started to darken, our group of 4 cars stopped for lunch at a quaint Mexican restaurant so the Spits could reposition their convertible tops.
The rain continued off and on as we proceed to The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Museum. We arrived at approximately 3 PM, two hours before closing. We found that you will definitely need "a lot more" time than 2 hours to browse the museum of flight. We were amazed at the condition and variety of the aircraft from the first Wright fliers to the WWI, WWII, Korean, Viet Nam and Present. We were hustled out of the Museum exactly at 5 PM because of a military wedding reception that was arriving.
Our group proceeded to Wilmington, OH where we stayed at the General Denver Hotel. The Hotel was built in 1928 and named after General James Denver (hero of the Mexican and Civil Wars); he also founded the state of Colorado. In appreciation, the state of Colorado named a city after him. (DENVER). The hotel is a beautiful brick 4-story Hotel with a formal dining room and what seemed to be the only open bar on Saturday night. We experienced an "employee operated" elevator ride to the 2nd floor and after settling into our rooms, agreed to meet in the bar before dinner. After dinner the women retreated to the rooms to rest and the men went for a walk around the county court house. We were impressed with a newly installed war memorial wall. It contained letters and names of county residents who had perished in all the wars from before the Spanish America war to present.
Sunday morning we met for breakfast in the hotel dining room as Keith made arrangements for a private tour of the Murphy Theater.
The Murphy Theater was built in 1918 by the last Chicago Cubs owner to win a world series. Charles Murphy was a local resident who owned the Chicago Cubs from 1906 to 1914. It took 2 years, 176 railroad cars of materials and $250,000 to build. Beautiful wood work, mirrors and lighting entice you to enter the seating area. The theater also includes, for refreshments, an old fashion soda shop. The theater season is September thru March and is an ongoing renovation (donations are accepted).
After the Murphy Theater tour, it was time to leave. Keith, though, had another surprise waiting for us. Keith led our group to Ft. Ancient, a 2000 year old Indian village. The village was built on the Eastern edge of the Little Miami River. It is surrounded by a man-made 20 foot high, 18,000 ft. oval dirt mound. We were told that if you lined up 23-ton dump trucks, nose to tail from Columbus to Cleveland, that they would not hold enough dirt to make the mound surrounding the village. We toured the museum that held numerous Indian artifacts, canoes and weapons. There was also a 'small' model of the village and surrounding mound. This model gave you a perspective of how large of an area the mound surrounded. There was also a movie area, where you could watch several movies of the history of Ft. Ancient.
The rain had started to pick up and it was getting into early afternoon, so our little group of 4 cars decided to head home. Even though every time we got into the cars to drive, it seemed to rain, I think we all had a good time.
Thanks again Keith for another memorable drive.