-From the desk of John Zimkus-
"Today, the world honors and remembers that 50 years ago Apollo XI astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man ever to step foot on the moon. Neil, however, would want to be remembered for more than that lunar walk five decades ago. Neil was a more than that. He was more than a Korean War Naval fighter pilot who flew 78 combat missions, or the civilian test pilot of the X-15 rocket/jet. He was more than an aerospace engineer and a university professor.
He was a husband and a father. Neil Armstrong was also our neighbor. He was a citizen of Warren County, of Turtlecreek Township and of the Lebanon, Ohio area. For 23 years, Neil Alden Armstrong lived less than two miles from downtown Lebanon. He lived here longer than any other place during his 82 years on this earth.
Many magazine and newspaper articles written about Neil refer to him as a recluse, a person who prized his privacy overall and was reluctant to give interviews. But, as many of you know, Neil did not live a solitary life nor did he withdrawal from society here in Warren County. He helped build the Countryside YMCA by serving on its first board of trustees. He had an office in town for over 20 years. He loved eating at her Village Ice Cream Parlor in Lebanon.
As James R. Hansen author of First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, an authorized 2005 biography, pointed out in a speech in 2014 at The Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio. “The idea that he was a recluse and wanted to avoid the media was false. He did not want to be rich or famous based on being the first man on the moon alone. He left that part of his life for the history books.”
Perhaps the best way to describe Neil can be found in the statement his family released through NASA after he death on August 25, 2012. “Neil Armstrong was . . . a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job.”
Neil, being a former Naval Aviator would probably have agreed with Admiral William “Bull” Halsey statement that, “There are no extraordinary men . . . just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with.” Neil said multiple times that he was not an explorer. He was simply a pilot doing what he was trained to do.
Another part of the Armstrong family's statement read, “For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty.”
With that understood, I think he would have appreciated, that back on October 7, 2014, the City of Lebanon had a new 3/4 mile roadway dedicated as Neil Armstrong Way. It connects Ohio SR 123 and SR 63. This small but useful stretch of road serves his former neighbors of Warren County, Turtlecreek Township and Lebanon, Ohio. It makes their lives a little easier and safer. That would be The Neil Armstrong Way."
Fifty years ago today, 600 million people watched with bated breath as "the Eagle" would successfully land on the surface of the moon and Neil Armstrong would utter those now famous words: "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." What the 600 million people may not have known was the stories behind that small step.
The Eagle lander had never been tested in the conditions before. Neil Armstrong and crewmate Michael Collins gave it a 50/50 shot at returning. President Richard Nixon prepared two speeches; one if the lander returned and another. "Fate has ordained that the men who went to the Moon to explore in peace will stay on the Moon to rest in peace. These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice."
With even odds, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Neil Armstrong embarked toward the surface of the moon, a NASA landing program guiding them in. The program was to ensure the lander did so safely, however, part way into the process, the two men realized that the program was guiding them to land straight into a crater in which taking off from would have been nigh impossible. Armstrong got the go ahead to take control of the helm and land the Eagle in a new position, safely outside the crater, having only 20 seconds of landing fuel left. (Here's a wonderful video of the 13 minutes leading up to and the actual landing.)
The 600 million people watching Neil Armstrong take his first steps on the moon did so via an 80ft satellite in Australia. Only having confirmed a live broadcast several weeks before, NASA wasn't sure what to expect. On the day, they came to discover that, due to the positioning of the Earth and their satellites, the Eagle lander's signal wouldn't be receivable by NASA until several minutes AFTER this historic event. Not only would the millions of people around the world miss the landing but NASA would not have contact with its astronauts or their vitals during this crucial phase of the mission. Luckily Australia wasn't in the space race with the US.
Armstrong would become the "first man" to step foot on the moon. Interestingly enough, on previous exploration missions, the commander would always stay behind while the subordinate did the exploring. Stories vary if NASA thought Armstrong should go first or if Aldrin deferred to his CO. In either case, Aldrin would still get to leave his footprints on the moon's surface 20 minutes later. However, out of jealousy, Aldrin took only five photographs of Armstrong while on the moon. The sixth image comes in the form of Armstrong's reflection in Aldrin's visor.
In continuing with the family tradition, Zach Lykins joined the Armed Forces. He chose the Marine Corps and was immediatly sent to Afghanistan right out of high school. Listen to his oral history in the interview below.
Harmon Museum's newest exhibit, "Brides of Yesteryear", is now open. Featured are more than 25 wedding gowns worn by Warren County brides between 1870 and 1970. This retrospective of wedding fashions includes photos of the brides wearing the gowns on their wedding day, along with information about the fabric and embellishments used to construct the dresses.
Lisa Holz, a Harmon Museum volunteer and costume historian curated the exhibit under the director of Textile Curator Jeanne Doan. A team of volunteers worked with Holz and Doan to create the exhibit from early February until April 12 when the exhibit opened.
“We are very lucky to have a large collection of soft body mannequins made by past textile department staff and volunteers so we are able to display these fragile dresses without stressing the seams or otherwise damaging the clothing”, said Textile Curator Jeanne Doan. “Our textile collection is our single largest collection at Harmon Museum and we work very hard to preserve and conserve each piece so visitors can enjoy these beautiful creations for years to come”.
Holtz was also the speaker at an extremely well attended Lunch & Learn, of the same name, on June 12th.
The exhibit is open through September 28, 2019. Hours are Tuesday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission to the museum is $10.00.
Jonas Seaman traveled from New Jersey to the Ohio Country and bought a $4 license to operate a “house of Public Entertainment” on Broadway in the newly-founded village of Lebanon in 1803. He probably never have imagined that more than 200 years later his establishment would still be offering food and lodging for travelers. Today, the Golden Lamb is recognized as the oldest continually operating business in Ohio.
The Golden Lamb owes its early success due to location – halfway between the great river town of Cincinnati and the National Road (now U.S. Route 40). Seaman’s establishment got its name from the sign hung outside the business – an image of a golden lamb – because many early travelers could not read.
Robert Jones took over the property in 1926 and began transforming it into the restaurant and hotel that it has become. The Jones family still owns the Golden Lamb today. A fire at the Golden Lamb in 1928 forced the Jones’ to purchase second-hand pieces to replace furniture that had been lost. Little did they know their purchases would become a beautiful collection of Shaker artifacts and rare antiques that are still in use today throughout the restaurant and hotel.
Throughout its 200+ years, the Golden Lamb has hosted, entertained and provided lodging for many notable guests, but none more honorable than 12 United States presidents. From its early days as a stopping point between Cincinnati and the National Road to its historic legacy as a political stop in a battleground state, United States presidents have visited the Golden Lamb before, during and after their time in our nation’s highest office. Presidents that have visited the Golden Lamb include:
Today (June 8th) in 1867, American architect, interior designer, writer, and educator, Frank Lloyd Wright was born. Even while his mother carried him, she believed he would become an architect. Little did she know, he would go on to become one of the most brilliant and sought after in American history, even being named the American Institute of Architects’ “greatest American architect of all time.”
During his career, spanning over seven decades, Wright designed 1,114 architectural works (532 were realized) including Falling Water, Taliesin West and the Guggenheim Museum. Warren County actually boasts one of Wright's designs as well.
"I believe in God, only I spell it Nature." Wright had a spiritual and romantic view of nature. This philosophy was the basis of all his work and can be seen throughout his designs. "The good building is not one that hurts the landscape, but one which makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before the building was built."
In a time of heavy pollution due fossil fuel emissions, destruction of once preserved land for immediate gain, floating islands of trash in the ocean, and the of re-evaluation of what constitutes an "endangered species," Wright's views and designs are more relevant than ever.
"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you."
Other Frank Lloyd Wright facts:
"On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France... More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 Soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolf Hitler’s crack troops." - Army.com
I've had the privilage to visit the beaches at Normandy. I've walked among the debris, lingering still, a quiet testimonial to the carnage that took place 75 years before. That day the brave soldiers of the Allied Forces stormed across the open sand, under a hail of heavy fire, toward the Nazi bunkers above. I've felt the gravity of the space but I can not even begin to fathum what it was like that day.
"They fought together as brothers in arms; they died together and now they sleep side by side. To them, we have a solumn obligation." - Chester W. Nimitz
Without their sacrifice, evil may have been allowed to consume more than it had.
"Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few." - Winston Churchill
Nathaniel Grauwelman is the Marketing Manager for Warren County Historical Society.
Beth Gully began creating upside-down images when she accidentally dropped a doodle on the floor. When she picked it up, she saw, amazingly, another image. Upon additional sketching she created her first ambigram. (An image that can be inverted to become something different)
Now, one of 100 recognized ambigram artists worldwide, Beth has created a niche for herself. Using her talent, she has created two children’s books that are full of beautiful pictures, that when turned upside down, show an entirely new set of images. Beth has won 13 awards for her books including a gold ADDY award in Cincinnati, a Gold and two Silver Summit International Awards. Her Christmas book was awarded the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval and her Easter book, "The Other Side of Easter" was awarded the 2019 Bronze Enduring Lights Medal in the Christian Children’s Books category at the Illumination Book Awards.
Beth started her graphic design business, BT Graphics, in 1990 and her experience continues to nurture her presentation and leadership skills enabling her to thrive as a successful entrepreneur and author.
Beth lives in Lebanon, Ohio with her husband Dave, and enjoys traveling, taking walks, playing guitar, and mentoring young artists.
If you've visited Harmon Museum recently (or just driven by) you probably noticed that the front steps have been closed off. The steps have begun to crumble and are no longer safe to climb. Having been patched throughout the years, they are now beyond repair and need to be replaced. The Warren County Historical Society which owns and operates Harmon Museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, privately funded by donations, admissions, and fundraising activities. We receive less than 5% of our annual budget in government support. If you would like to help please click on the donate button at the top of this page. We also accept checks in the mail and cash at the museum.
The front steps of Harmon Museum are not just a way into the museum. The building is set high above the street making those steps a great vantage point for viewing parades and other happenings in downtown Lebanon. When John McCain and Sarah Palin visited Lebanon during the 2008 Presidential Campaign, Senator McCain walked down Broadway to Harmon Museum to shake hands with 50 or so people who were watching the event from Harmon Museum’s steps. On the first Saturday in December the steps are packed with folks watching the horse drawn carriages turn from Broadway onto Main Street during Lebanon’s annual Christmas Festival. Other times you see high school seniors, family groups or even brides having their picture taken on the steps.
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John J. Zimkus has lectured and written about the history of Lebanon and Warren County, Ohio for over 30 years.
He has been the historian of the Warren County Historical Society since 1990, and in 2008 was named the education director of the society’s Harmon Museum. He has also been the house historian of The Golden Lamb, Ohio's oldest inn, since 2007.
Holding degrees from both, Miami University and Wright State University, John was a teacher in the Lebanon City School District for 35 years. He was a recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Foundation Award from the Area Progress Council of Warren County, Inc. in both 1990 and 1998.
In 2006, he was honored by the Daughters of the American Revolution as Ohio’s Outstanding Teacher of American History, and was inducted into the Lebanon City Schools Hall of Fame in 2008.
John is the author of Historical Footnotes of Lebanon, Ohio, which is composed of 29 stories that cover over 200 years of the vivid history of the city of Lebanon.
In April 2012, John was recognized by the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce as its “2012 - Citizen of the Year”.
In 2015, John received the Robert and Virginia Jones Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lebanon Conservancy Foundation Inc. in appreciation for his efforts “toward preserving, improving and enhancing the historic fabric and quality of life in the community of greater Lebanon.”
From the desk of John Zimkus:
For 35 years as a teacher, twenty of them teaching Ohio history, I began each day with my 7th graders with an “Ohioan of the Day”. It started before the internet so I couldn’t “Google” the “Ohioans.” All of my research was done with almanacs and encyclopedias. That first year was a bear!
We lost two of my favorite “Ohioans” in the last couple of days - Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff on May 13, and Thomas Daniel Conway on May 14.
Doris was born in Cincinnati on April 3, 1922. She was a German through and through. In fact, some sources say her full name was Doris VON Kappelhoff.
Her earliest dream was to become a dancer. That hope was crushed in 1937, along with her right leg, when a car in which she was riding was hit by a train when she was 15. While recuperating she started to take singing lessons. Her first professional job as a vocalist was on the WLW Radio in Cincinnati.
Doris then caught the attention of Barney Rapp, who was looking for a female vocalist for his band. (Rapp was married in 1936 to singer Ruby Wright. Ohioans out there might remember that Ruby sang for years on the Ruth Lyons 50-50 Club in TV and radio in Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton.)
It was Barney Rapp, in 1939, who had Doris change her last name. He thought "Kappelhoff" was too long for marquees, so he suggested she become - Doris DAY.
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Thomas Daniel Conway was on December 15, 1933, in Willoughby, Ohio to an Irish father and a Rumanian mother. Tom grew up in Chagrin Falls, Ohio and graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1956. Tom Conway always wanted to be a disc jockey and actually was one in college at WWBG on a show called “Sunny Side Up.”
While working in advertising at Cleveland TV station WKYW, Tom often would help fill in time on the station’s afternoon movie show by playing goofy characters and doing hilarious skits with the host. One day, Rose Marie, who would in a few years be a regular on the classic “Dick Van Dyke Show,” saw him and helped him get a Hollywood audition. Steve Allen was the one who first gave him national attention. There was one problem, however, his name.
The Screen Actors Guild makes every effort to avoid enrolling members with the same name or with very similar names. (Thats why Michael J. Fox all of a sudden got a middle initial that he never had before.) In the early 1960s there already was a Tom Conway in SAG. He was actor George Sanders’ younger brother who made dozens of “B” movie in the 1940s, several as the detective known as “The Falcon.” So when Ohio’s Tom Conway got his SAG card he became TIM Conway.
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I saw Tim Conway in person twice. Once in a “new comedy” play in the early 1980s called “Wally’s Cafe” in Dayton, Ohio as part of the summer-stock Kenley Payers. (“Wally’s Cafe” would go to Broadway in 1981 starring James Coco and last for only 12 performances) This photo of Tim Conway is from the “Wally’s Cafe” program.
The second time was in Cincinnati at the Taft Theater about 15 years ago. Tim Conway was performing with his old pal from “The Carol Burnett Show,” Harvey Korman. The two were touring in the stage show, “Together Again with Tim and Harvey,” and doing many classic bits from the old Burnett Show. They toured for over 10 years to sold out markets until Korman’s death in 2008.
George John Vakaleris (J VAK) was born in 1957 of Greek parents. Since childhood, frequent trips to the Greek countryside and islands have greatly influenced his artistic style. His works are noted for incorporating luminescent colors into an underlying complexity which boldly compliments simplicity of subject matter. His artwork has been displayed and featured both internationally and throughout the United States. John graduated with honors from both the Columbus School of Art and Design and the University of Chicago. He presently resides in Arizona. Learn more on John's website.
Meet the artist himself when he opens his art exhibition, at Harmon Museum, on May 10th.
Today, in 1775, Paul Revere and William Dawes embark on their Midnight ride from Charlestown to Lexington to warn the patriots. Yes, there were two of them, no matter what Henry told you... In Lexington, they where joined by Samuel Prescott and continued to Concord before being captured by a British patrol. Two others would also later make historic rides; Israel Bissell and Sybil Ludington.
Exactly eight years later, in 1783, the Revolutionary War came to a close.
Certainly made your American History test a little easier. You only had to remember one month and day! April 18th!
On April 4th, 1968, Dr. Martian Luther King Jr was fatally shot while on his balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN. King was in Memphis in support of African American city sanitation workers after unequal wages, poor treatment and finally the deaths of two workers caused a strike.
A clergyman and prominent leader in the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King was a Nobel Peace Prize laureate (recipient), known for his use of nonviolence and civil disobedience.
Dr. King was nearly fatally stabbed in 1958 and had constant death threats made against him, including a bomb threat made against the plane he planned to fly to Memphis on.
On April 3rd he gave his last public address, later known as the "I've Been to the Mountaintop" address, part of which was as follows:
"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you... But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land! And so I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!"
Various Members of the Warren County Historical Society