Why would anyone go to Ohio, "The "Buckeye State"? No one even knows what a 'buckeye' is. I Googled it and it took five minutes to spit out a site which explained, "The visual instrument of a male deer". This, together with the state motto, "Land of very Large Football Players", keep most folks away.
But Lauren's there. I called my lovely niece, to see why she had landed in Ohio. Lauren explained that as a medical student you're told where to go for residency training. She and her husband were assigned to a hospital in Columbus, Ohio. When they heard we were traveling and invited us to visit.
Seeing them was reason enough to go but then I remembered, The Doo Dah Parade.
When we created the Grove's King Mango Strut parade 35 years ago it became a surprising success and received national publicity. We got a call from a Columbus fan, Bill Keener. He and his friends wanted to start a similar parade in Ohio. We invited him and his wife to join us for Strut #2 (1983). Bill Dobson and I told the Keeners how we created our crazy parade and the next year, on the Fourth of July, the Columbus Doo Dah Parade was launched.
It has been an outstanding tradition ever since. Four of our mango strutters flew to Ohio to check it out years ago. They came back with glowing reviews. Peer "Cosmic Claus" Everett had a huge smile when he reported, "It was insane!".
Francesca and I made plans to be in Columbus on the Fourth so we were able to see our first (their 33d) Doo Dah Parade. It was insane. As you can see in the photo above, I had a viva la revolucion time marching with my new friends, the Fidels of Columbus' (That's me with the beard).
It's a lot like our King Mango parade but much more twisted. Hey, these people are buckeyes. They suffer freezing winters and the ominous presence of very large football players (it is the home of Ohio State Buckeye football team). They obviously need to go further than fireworks for diversion on the Fourth. So how do they do it?
ScareAtorium employees posing for group picture
They do it with many, many zombies sporting open wounds with dripping blood. They pull it off with large topless women jousting on bicycles and... I really need a separate blog to do da Doo Dah justice. I'll do dat soon.
Besides parades I love aviation history. I was hoping to run into my hero, John Glenn, who lives here. They named Columbus' airport after him last week.
Doo Dah Queen with a local pea farmer
The Doo Dah Queen told me she had invited the former astronaut be her parade's Grand Marshall. Unfortunately, he graciously declined. United States Senators and topless female jousters do not mix, at least not in public.
Although I was unable to meet Mr. Glenn (who turns 95 next week) my niece did. She was introduced to him and his wife, Annie, last year. Lauren told us the Glenns are doing fine, "They were both very gracious and as sharp as tack."
I learned that another one of my aviator heroes, Eddie Rickenbacker, also hailed from Columbus. He was our "ace of aces" in World War I shooting down 26 enemy planes. In 1935 he moved to Miami to become the general manager of Eastern Airlines. He rose through the ranks to serve as its president for many years. My dad flew for Eastern and loved working for "Captain Eddie".
When Rickenbacker joined Eastern he made Coconut Grove his winter home. His former estate in the South Grove still exists evoking memories of Miami's and Columbus' aviation history.
Captain Eddie died sadly, in 1973, too soon to Doo Dah. Lucky me, I got to doo dah at the Doo Dah in the streets of Columbus last Monday.
On Tuesday Francesca flew home. I'd bet she's doing the 'Dah' in our Coconut Grove living room as I write.
I'll be soldiering on for more mid-west adventures. The spirits of the Wright Brothers are calling me from Dayton, Ohio, where aviation really started in a simple bicycle shop.