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Sen. Bunning donates memorabilia to university

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Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 22 September 2011 08:39
Jim Bunning, pictured in a 1964 Topps Giant baseball card, pitched a perfect game that season. The right-handed power pitcher won 224 games in 17 seasons in the majors. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Hassinger & Courtney Auctioneering.

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (AP) – Northern Kentucky University says former U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning has donated papers from his career in Congress to its library.

Bunning, of Southgate, Ky., spent 24 years as a representative and senator before retiring. The school told The Kentucky Enquirer that Bunning also plans to donate memorabilia from his years as a professional baseball player for the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies.

The political papers won't be available for public use for several years, but the school has started raising money in an effort to preserve and digitize them.

The political papers of Kentucky congressmen Eugene Snyder and Ken Lucas are also stored at NKU.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Last Updated on Thursday, 22 September 2011 08:49

Restoration of African Meeting House nears completion

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Written by BOB SALSBERG, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 11:20
The African Meeting House in Boston is an 1806 Federal style building. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. BOSTON (AP) – The nation's oldest existing black church building, where the abolitionist movement gathered steam in the 19th century and where the first black Civil War regiment had its roots, is nearing completion of a restoration project done with the help of $4 million in federal stimulus funds.

Gov. Deval Patrick on Monday toured the renovated African Meeting House, a three-story brick building constructed in 1806 in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood and standing just blocks from the Massachusetts Statehouse.

The meeting house, a national historic landmark, is “an extraordinary piece of our Commonwealth's history, the history of African-American people and the history of freedom in the western world,” said Patrick, the state's first black governor.

During his tour, the governor was shown examples of the painstaking detail that went into the project, including the restoration or replication of all original pews, wall finishes and cast-iron posts in the 1,500-square-foot building.

John Waite, whose Albany, N.Y.-based architectural firm specializes in historical preservation, said paint chips were examined through a high-powered microscope and chemically analyzed in an effort to determine the color of the original paint on the walls so it could be duplicated in the restoration.

The site is scheduled to reopen to the public on Dec. 6, the 205th anniversary of the founding of the meeting house, said Beverly Morgan-Welch, executive director of the Museum of African American History.

“The meeting house was used, of course, as a place of worship, but also as a place of school, for lectures, for music, opera even,” Welch said. “But, most importantly, to gather around the discussions to bring slavery to an end in this nation.”

“When you walk inside and walk into that sanctuary, you're going to walk directly up the aisle where Frederick Douglass walked and talked about what needed to be done to end slavery,” she said.

“On the very same floor boards,” Patrick added.

Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison were among the leading abolitionists who spoke at the meeting house and helped form the New England Anti-Slavery Society. Leaders later met there to help create the all-black 54th Massachusetts Regiment, which fought in the Civil War and was chronicled in the 1989 film Glory.

About half of the $9.5 million cost of the restoration came from private donations, Welch said. The remainder was provided by the National Park Service, including the $4 million in stimulus funds.

Among the surprises discovered during the project was a chimney dating back to the time when the building was heated by cast-iron stoves; the chimney had stayed hidden behind a wall for decades.

Sold late in the 19th century, the building housed a Jewish synagogue until 1972, when it was purchased by the Museum of African American History.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-09-19-11 2210GMT


Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 September 2011 11:35

Prohibition has different meaning in Wis. restaurants

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Written by SCOTT BAUER, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 09:49
State legislators opposed to the Wisconsin law prohibiting margarine from being served in restaurants hope to vote on its repeal. The raised hand that decorates this salt-glazed stoneware churn appears to favor butter. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Alderfer Auction & Appraisal. MADISON, Wis. (AP) – A quirky Wisconsin law intended to protect the state's dairy industry by making it illegal for restaurants to serve margarine as a replacement for butter is being targeted for repeal.

The 44-year-old law that's little known to most diners is celebrated by some as a colorful part of the Dairy State's past, even inspiring the state Historical Society to sell T-shirts reprinting the language of the law on a yellowish, buttered-colored background.

But the law, so marginalized that the National Association of Margarine Manufacturers doesn't even refer to it in a timeline of significant action affecting the industry, has a loophole: Restaurants can abide by it simply by serving both butter and margarine.

“I literally Googled ‘stupid Wisconsin laws’ and this one came up as No. 1,” said Republican state Rep. Dale Kooyenga, a 32-year-old accountant from Brookfield who wants to undo law he calls silly, antiquated and anti-free market.

Most restaurant owners are aware of the law, but it's not something that the industry talks about, said Pete Hanson, director of government relations for the Wisconsin Restaurant Association. It's simply not an issue, he said.

“Restaurant owners are in business and are successful because they give customers what they want and in Wisconsin that's generally butter,” Hanson said. “I don't think there necessarily needs to be a law requiring butter to be on the table. I think most patrons in Wisconsin prefer butter.”

The battle over margarine's place in the country was seriously debated after its invention in 1870. The agricultural community, led by Wisconsin's strong dairy interests, saw the artificially produced margarine as an intruder on the market and the rural way of life.

In 1895, just 47 years after it became a state, Wisconsin passed its ban on the sale or use of margarine colored to imitate butter. The pressure to repeal that ban grew in the 1960s as Wisconsin was left as the only state with the prohibition. Residents were getting around the law by buying margarine in neighboring states just across the border.

Then state-Sen. Martin Schreiber, a 26-year-old Democrat who went on to serve as acting governor in the 1970s, proposed doing away with the ban in 1965 but he said rural Republicans bottled it up. So he came up with a creative way to make his case: a blind taste test.

One of butter's most ardent supporters, Republican Sen. Gordon Roseleip, happily took the taste test and promptly chose margarine as better tasting. His flub made national news.

“That was the beginning of the end,” Schreiber said.

It wasn't until after his death in 1989 that Roseleip's family members said they had been secretly going to Iowa for years to buy margarine where it was legal to feed it to Roseleip instead of butter out of concerns for his health.

In 1967, two years after the taste test, the state's ban on margarine sales was repealed but the restrictions that Kooyenga hopes to undo were passed.

“Our laws are important and should be respected,” Kooyenga said in a letter to lawmakers earlier this month asking for their support. “Silly laws erode citizens' respect for the overall rule of law in our state.”

Only one or two complaints about restaurants violating the law come in a year to the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, said spokeswoman Donna Gilson. It issues warning letters, she said.

“We're not out there looking for this,” Gilson said.

The law Kooyenga seeks to replace also requires that butter be served to students, patients and inmates at state institutions, except as necessary for the health of the person. In accordance with the law, butter is served to the roughly 21,000 inmates in Wisconsin's prisons.

“It's pretty much butter across the board,” said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Linda Eggert.

Kooyenga argues that changing the law would save the state money since margarine is typically a third of the cost of butter.

Breaking the law is punishable by up to three months in jail, but Kooyenga said it's never enforced.

No one is registered as lobbying either in support or opposition to the bill and Kooyenga said he does not think, unlike in past battles over butter, that there will be much fervor one way or the other this time around.

It doesn't appear his idea for change is spreading too quickly in the Legislature. So far, only 11 other lawmakers out of 132 have signed on as co-sponsors.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-09-19-11 2033GMT


Last Updated on Friday, 23 September 2011 09:17

General stores can't compete, but somehow survive

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Written by JOHN CURRAN, Associated Press   
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 09:21
Grays General Store (1788) in Adamsville, R.I., is billed as the oldest continuously operating general store in the United States. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. WEST DANVILLE, Vt. (AP) – At Hussey's General Store in Windsor, Maine, offbeat merchandise is a specialty. The sign out front says so, in no uncertain terms: “Guns, Wedding Gowns, Cold Beer.”

At the Mansfield (Conn.) General Store, it's not just basic groceries, takeout sandwiches and antiques. They have live music twice a week, including flamenco guitarists on Friday afternoons.

At Hastings Store in West Danville, Vt., co-owner Garey Larrabee is also the postmaster and cook, running a full-service post office and cooking up old-fashioned doughnuts for the regulars who come in to catch up on gossip and pick up mail, lingering around the wall of boxes with the three-digit dial combination locks.

His wife, whose family has run the place for almost 100 years, is a justice of the peace. She sometimes marries people, right there in the store.

Turns out, New England's general stores aren't as general as they used to be.

With their creaky wooden floors, old-fashioned keepsakes and inventory that runs the gamut from snow shovels to wedding dresses, they rely on nostalgia and creative specialties to compete in a Walmart world.

“The best of these stores are the heart of their communities,” said Paul Bruhn, executive director of the Preservation Trust of Vermont. “They're the places where people gather, connect with each other. They really make a place a community.”

Come fall foliage season, they're also big draws for visitors looking to take home a piece of New England.

“We sell the past,” said Mary Anne Boyd, who runs The Brewster Store, a summer institution on Massachusetts' Cape Cod.

In Little Compton, R.I., Gray's Store, which dates to around 1788, brings them in with an old-fashioned marble soda fountain, cigar and tobacco cases, and Rhode Island johnnycakes (corncakes). Its owners proudly call it the nation's oldest operating general store in America, though others have staked similar claims.

Whichever was first, Gray's is the real thing: It's one part museum and one part country store, with gifts, collectibles and vintage retail products like Lux dishwashing liquid.

“Everything's just as it was 100 years ago,” says owner Grayton Waite, 59, whose great-great-grandfather bought the place in 1879.

In Mansfield, Conn., the Mansfield General Store is a relative newcomer to the tradition. Located in a 19th-century house just down the road from the University of Connecticut, it offers basic grocery and bakery items as well as salads, soups and takeout deli food.

Sisters Lisa Rich and Keleigh Shumbo, who opened it three years ago, also peddle antiques, books and flowers, and offer live music on Friday afternoons and Sunday mornings. The Sunday morning brunch, which is $10, comes with local musicians who sing for their supper.

“I don't try to compete,” Shumbo said. “We're just unique, we're different. We're down to earth.”

Up on the Cape, the Brewster Store in Brewster, Mass., a former church building that dates to 1852 and has been a store since 1866, not only sells penny candy from wooden shelves and you-pick-it glass jars, but it also sometimes encourages young children to use pencil and paper to total up their purchases before they get to the counter.

The nickelodeon plays music, there's an ice cream operation—the Brewster Scoop—that’s run from a cottage next store between Memorial Day and Labor Day and the second floor has an area dedicated to military toys and World War II-era posters.

It's also got a potbellied stove where folks gather for coffee and conversation. “By 7 o'clock, we've solved the problems of the world,” says one regular.

And they've got lamp oil. Hey, you never know. They get hurricanes up here.

“We feel like we're the owners of an institution, and we're safeguarding it,” said Boyd, who's been running the place with husband George since 1986. “If Brewster were a human being, the store would be its heart.”

The same goes for the Hastings Store, where one Hastings or another has been running things in the wooden building across the street from Joe's Pond since 1913.

Larrabee and wife Jane, who grew up in the place, are the current owners.

“I'm the vice president of comings and goings,” cracks Jane Larrabee, 63.

The shelves are chockablock with maple syrup, maple cookies, hunting journals, antique bottles and groceries. There are T-shirts and sweatshirts and a mounted buck's head on one wall.

Located on the road between the state capital in Montpelier and the lush vacationland known as the Northeast Kingdom, Hastings Store is a frequent stop-off for travelers.

“We're cute,” Larrabee said. “So people stop in and take photographs of the store and say, ‘Oh, this is what it was like when I was a kid.’”

In neighboring New Hampshire, the Old Country Store and Museum in Moultonborough boasts it's “Perhaps the oldest in the United States, a store since 1781.”

Here, the emphasis is on the “old.” It sells cookbooks, cookware, kitchen gadgets, wrought-iron hardware, clothing, Cabot cheese that is aged in a cellar downstairs, maple syrup that's made in an apartment upstairs and pickles from a porcelain barrel in the front.

“When you walk into the store, you'd swear you just walked back 150 years,” says clerk Jonathan Hayden, who's married to one of the Holdens, the family that has owned it since 1973. “We've been as lucky as we have been because we have not changed a thing. Most of our business—75 percent—is repeat business, locals. The rest is ‘Oh, my God, when you go there, you must stop at this place. You won't believe it!’” he said.

The store, which offers 7,000 products, is a popular destination for fall foliage bus tours.

Hussey's General Store, which dates to 1923, proudly boasts: “If we ain't got it, you don't need it.”

And they have almost everything, from groceries and hardware to the second-floor bridal shop—next to the gun section—with gowns ranging in price from $100 to $900.

“We have people come in, and they want to buy a gun and buy a wedding gown,” said Kristen Austin, 26, whose great-grandparents founded the place. “Sometimes, they want to go out and take a picture of them in a wedding gown with a gun. Some people are actually looking for that shotgun wedding kind of thing.”


If You Go...

THE BREWSTER STORE: 1935 Main St., Brewster, Mass.; or 508-896-3744.

GRAY'S GENERAL STORE: 4 Main St., Little Compton, R.I.; 401-635-4566.

HASTINGS STORE: 2748 Route 2 West, West Danville, Vt.; 802-684-3398.

HUSSEY'S GENERAL STORE: 510 Ridge Road, Windsor, Maine; or 207-445-2511.

MANSFIELD GENERAL STORE: 534 Storrs Road, Mansfield Center, Conn.; or 860-450-0597.

OLD COUNTRY STORE AND MUSEUM: 1011 Whittier Highway, Moultonborough, N.H.; or 603-476-5750.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-09-18-11 1722GMT

Last Updated on Friday, 23 September 2011 09:20

Oldest American church organ ready for encore

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Written by AMANDA KENNEDY, Lancaster Intelligencer Journal   
Thursday, 15 September 2011 12:52

Raymond Brunner stands beside the restored 1770 Tannenberg organ. Image courtesy of R.J. Brunner & Co.

SILVER SPRING, Pa. (AP) - For Raymond Brunner, restoring a 1770 Tannenberg organ is a "dream come true."

It was love at first sight 30 years ago, when Brunner first laid eyes on the organ at Zion Moselem Lutheran Church in Berks County. But it was in "bad condition, and wasn't the way it should be."

"Now I'm finally getting the chance to make it right," he said.

The organ is believed to be the oldest American-made organ in existence, Brunner said, one of the many "high quality" organs that Tannenberg built for 45 churches in his lifetime. Now, only nine remain across the country.

Brunner and his employees at R.J. Brunner Organs, an organ restoration business in Silver Spring, have been working on the masterpiece for about a year.

"It's sort of a special opportunity to work on something this old," he said.

The original organ case was solid black walnut, but after numerous paint jobs in both brown and white, the organ was stripped of its paint and restored to the original wood.

"Most organs of that period were painted white," he said. "You don't normally paint wood that's that beautiful."

The keyboard is ebony and ivory, where the colors are reversed—large ebony keys and small ivory keys—reflecting the style of Colonial times.

Last year, 200-year-old organ bellows, or wooden hand pumps, found their way to Brunner from a man in Schaefferstown. Brunner didn't have any use for them—until now.

"The organs sound better when they're hand-pumped," Brunner said, "because the wind is smoother and gentler than with an electric blower."

The Tannenberg will be able to be played either with bellows or an electric blower once it is back at Zion Moselem Lutheran Church, but its grand debut will include someone to work the bellows while Lititz Moravian Church organist Phillip Cooper plays.

The organ's post-restoration debut concert will take place Oct. 2 at Zion Moselem Lutheran Church—after the organ is disassembled, transported, and put together again.

Members of the church stopped by Brunner's shop recently to see the progress of the organ, which only needed a few more final touches, Brunner said.

"The church members that own it were really surprised and impressed," he said. "They knew it would be a lot nicer than it was."

In the organ restoration business for more than 30 years, Brunner has done work for churches and museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Biltmore in North Carolina.

He became interested in restoration growing up watching his grandmother, who owned an antique store.

"She used to sell fine antiques and fine things," he said. "She gave me a love of restoring things and preserving old things."


Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Last Updated on Thursday, 15 September 2011 13:06
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