Nolan Travels -- Happy trails from Lewis & Betty Nolan
Travel by Lewis & Betty Nolan
Betty at Sarasota Botanic Gardens, September, 2007
Charlene and Bob Raub, Betty and Lewis Nolan at Raubs' home overlooking River Wilderness Golf Course, September 2007
Jim Nolan, Bob Ballard, Mary Nolan Ballard, and Lewis at Mary's home in St. Petersburg, September, 2007
Mary Nolan Ballard, Gayle Nolan, and Lewis at Mary's home in St Petersburg, Florida, September, 2007
Betty & Lewis with three year old rescue greyhound they adopted October 2007. Before she was retired, due to an injury, Fiona won four of her 26 races at Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis, Arkansas.
Lewis visits with Pat, R.N., and Dorris, CNA, at the Mobile Infirmary to thank them for their excellent care.
Lewis with dark beer at Weltenburg Monastery, November, 2007
Betty walking by a gigantic chess game in Salzburg, Austria, November, 2007
Bust of Hitler produced in Nazi Germany on display at Nuremberg Documentation Center November, 2007
Lewis at an unfinished stadium built by the Nazis in Nuremburg, November, 2007
Betty and Lewis outside the St Stephen Cathedral, home of the world's largest cathedral organ, with more than 17,000 pipes. Passau,
River Explorer cruise ship docked on Danube River canal near Vienna, November, 2007
Nolan Getaways – 2007
‘Out of It’ But Near the Beach in Gulf Shores
June 16 – 24, 2007
By mid-2007, Lewis was recuperating fairly well from a series of brain surgeries and other illnesses that followed his collapse March 14, 2006 from a brain aneurysm (popped artery) while in Gulf Shores, Ala. (See the "Nolan Getaways – 2006" posting on this website for details.) Unlike their other, fairly frequent stays in Gulf Shores since the Nolans purchased their small condominium on the beach 20 years previously, the couple stayed pretty close to the condo this trip in mid-2007. It is in an older complex with a beautiful beach and two swimming pools that is in the midst of several large condo developments on a wide, white sand beach that is about a mile and a half west from the intersection of U.S. Highway 59 and West Beach Boulevard. Unlike their previous, all-day drives to Gulf Shores from their home in Memphis, due to Lewis’ still-recovering condition Betty handled the driving during this 450-mile trip and week-long stay
Betty kept a journal beginning with March 14, 2006 and continuing for several weeks while Lewis underwent emergency medical treatment. That is posted on this website under the title, "Nolan Getaways – 2006."
For the June 16-24, 2007 trip, Lewis and Betty stayed pretty close to their condo. Betty simply did not want to leave him alone for any time, although she did spend some time sunning on the beach in front of the condo. His memory was returning from the brain trauma of nine surgeries, but he was still pretty often "out of it." They continued traveling on a monthly basis, visiting Florida and Alabama several more times in 2007.
To Pocahontas, Ark., for wedding
June 30 – July 1, 2007
We dropped Dickens off at the Southland Greyhound Track boarding kennel in West Memphis and drove Betty’s Ford Focus for about three hours to Pocahontas, Ark., in the northeast corner of the state to attend a wedding. Betty had been invited to the wedding by her former college roommate and dear friend SuAnne Turnage of Jackson, Miss. SuAnne’s niece – formerly a teacher in DeSoto County, Miss., south of Memphis - was marrying a freight railroad conductor in his hometown of Pocahontas, a small Arkansas town which celebrates the story of the famous, female Indian guide for the Lewis & Clark expedition.
We spent Saturday night in a Best Western Inn on the outskirts of the town, which was a fairly nice place even though their front desk screwed up and billed one of our charge cards for an extra night for somebody else at the wedding. (The mixup was finally settled after Betty made a series of telephone calls to the motel and charge card company.) The wedding was Saturday afternoon at a local church and seemed to go well. The reception for the several dozen of the couple’s family and friends at the wedding was at a fishing camp lodge on the bank of a nearby river that was miles down a country road in the middle of nowhere. It was nice seeing SuAnne and her family and we were glad we went. With a big storm on its way, we ate a buffet dinner at the reception and left a little early so we wouldn’t face a long drive on an unfamiliar, narrow road during a possibly heavy rainfall. We drove home the next day, Sunday, and were fortunate to have great weather.
To Jackson, Miss., to visit SuAnne Turnage
July 27-29, 2007
We dropped Dickens off at the Southland Racing Track boarding kennel in West Memphis, Ark., and then drove down I-55 through North Mississippi to the new home of Betty’s longtime friend SuAnne Turnage, who bought a two-bedroom house in the Brandon suburb just east of Jackson, Miss. We had a nice visit and spent the night in her home before driving back to Memphis and then to West Memphis to pick up our greyhound.
To Arlington, VA. to visit Casey, tour Spy Museum
August 10 – 14, 2007
Using Buzz’s frequent flyers, we flew first class for free to Washington’s Reagan National Airport to spend a few days in nearby Arlington, Va., with our son, Casey, and his beautiful wife, the former Caroline Cardon. They have a two-story, brick home, with a small front yard and big backyard. It was great seeing the two who work so hard and have come so far in life at relatively young ages.
Betty and Buzz decided against renting a car so stayed pretty close to the young couple’s home. Meanwhile, Casey worked at the nearby Ft. Belvoir, where he is senior executive for his employer Clark Realty Capital’s construction of about 1,600 housing units for the U.S. Army’s military personnel. Caroline is a CPA working out of the Arlington office for a regional firm of accountants. Both work a lot of hours and enjoy the standard of living their income allows in the pricey Washington area.
We enjoyed our visit to the World War II Memorial in the Mall area of downtown Washington (which had been built a few years ago, long after Buzz and Betty lived in nearby Triangle, Va., when he was in the Marine Corps in the late 1960s) and also the new Spy Museum downtown, not far from the Washington office occasionally used by Buzz when he was on Schering-Plough Corp.’s Political Action Committee (PAC) before his retirement.
To Florida towns of Parrish, Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Tampa
Sept. 20 – 24, 2007
Buzz’s frequent flyer account from Delta Airlines had a bunch of accumulated miles from earlier trips to Europe so he and Betty used the miles to fly first class from Memphis to the Tampa airport and back for a fall getaway. They spent the first night in a nice Hilton Garden Inn on the outskirts of Tampa and drove in the rental car from there to the St. Petersburg home of his half-sister, Mary Nolan Ballard and her husband, retired U.S. Navy serviceman Bob Ballard. Joining them for dinner that night at a nearby seafood restaurant were Buzz’s half-brother, Jim Nolan, and Jim’s wife, Gayle, who live not far away from Mary. They purchased takeout food for Mary and Bob. Due to a persistent lung problem, Mary is tethered to an oxygen tank to help her breathe properly and doesn’t venture out from home often.
Buzz and Betty spent much of the next day with Mary and Jim. That evening, Buzz and Betty had a so-so dinner by themselves at the Hilton Garden Inn. The next day, they drove from Tampa a long way to be with Buzz’ former boss at Schering-Plough, his good friend Bob Raub and Bob’s wife, Charlene, in their beautiful retirement home in the ritzy, gated community of Parrish to the south.
It was great spending time with Bob and Charlene, who have traded home-hosted visits with Buzz and Betty several times in recent years. The foursome drove south in one of Bob’s cars to Sarasota, where they spent several hours touring the spectacular Sarasota Botanical Gardens and saw a great many tropical plants and blooms. The attraction is located on the shoreline of the bay, which is dotted with anchored sailboats. The customary admission charge was waived for Buzz and Betty due to their reciprocal membership in the Memphis Botanic Garden. Sadly, outside the fancy greenhouse structures on the manicured grounds was an overall dismal day, with threatening thunderclouds and patches of light rain blowing across the skies. But it was great seeing family and good friends.
To see the 15 photos taken during the visits to St. Petersburg, Parrish and the Sarasota Botanical Gardens and elsewhere go to www.kodakgallery.com. Sign into the Lewis Nolan Photo Albums and click on the one entitled "Trip to Florida, 9-07".
To Gulf Shores, Ala. to enjoy beach, polish prose
Oct. 7 – 14, 2007
Betty and Lewis drove from their home in Memphis to Gulf Shores in her Ford Focus, nicknamed "Fiona." Betty gave the Irish name to her car several months before she and Lewis adopted a retired racing greyhound by that name. Fiona, age 3, is a sweetheart of a dog. She ran 26 races at the Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis, winning 4 before she was retired after an injury of a "dropped muscle" in her right front shoulder.
The first day of the trip was a nice day for a drive and Betty did most of the driving since Lewis was still recuperating from one and a half years of surgeries, hospitalization and rehabilitation that followed the rupture of a small artery in his brain – called an aneurysm – in March, 2006. Lewis spent most of the week in the upstairs condo polishing his previously written travelogues (posted at nolantravels) while Betty sunned on the beautiful beach along the Gulf of Mexico in front of our condo complex.
We enjoyed lunch (cheeseburgers for me and BLT’s for Betty) at the nearby Alabama State Park golf course. The lunchroom crew is mostly staffed by Korean women who married American servicemen years ago. The women do a crackerjack job of keeping the lunchroom sparkling clean and making delicious sandwiches, served at a reasonable price. We also enjoyed a good dinner at the Original Oyster House in town. It was a coincidence, but our visit coincided with the annual Shrimp Festival on the public beach in town and we had a nice time poking around the more than 100 booths set up to hawk art, crafts and food.
On Saturday, October 12 we visited with Danny Endress, president of the Gulf Village Owners Association (governing body of our condo development). We also drove to Mobile from Gulf Shores so Lewis could see some of the wonderfully kind Neuro-Intensive Care Unit nurses at the Mobile Infirmary and Medical Center. The nurses took excellent care of him during his stay there in March. 2006. It happened that the nurses on duty for this day’s visit included Pat, a blonde RN; Doris, a nurse; and two others who happened to be on duty when Buzz was a patient there and who was pretty much out of it following his brain surgery. It gave Buzz much pleasure to be ably warmly thank the staff and it seemed that they were as genuinely touched as he was by his ability to again walk, talk and carry himself as a normal man and gentleman.
As Betty well knows, Buzz nearly "bought the farm" during his first few weeks of recovery from brain surgery because of dangerous bouts with pneumonia, blood clots and post-op infection. (Betty’s journal of their travail is posted at www.lewisnolan.com/Getaways-2006.htm.)
After the visit at the Mobile Infirmary, we drove to the home of Betty’s former college roommate, SuAnne Turnage, who recently purchased a two-bedroom home in the Jackson, Miss., suburb of Pearl. She works at the nearby University of Mississippi Medical School in Jackson. With SuAnne, we met her charming boyfriend, Bill, and had a very good dinner at SuAnne’s home. We spent the night in her home. After breakfast the next morning drove north on I-55 for the three-hour drive to Memphis.
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Danube Odyssey: Nuremburg and Nazi Monuments
Index to Photos / Page Updated Feb. 29, 2008
(Note: Following is Part 11 of a 12-part series of travelogues written by Lewis Nolan about his and Betty’stwo-week cruise on the Danube River through parts of Austria, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia in November, 2007. The entire series illustrated by photos may be accessed at Nolans on the Danube Also, more than 200 photos taken during the trip are posted in several Lewis Nolan albums at www.ritzpix.com, a website that requires sign-in.)
Nov. 24, 2007, Saturday – In Nuremberg
We were up at 7 a.m. to have plenty of time for breakfast before the 9:30 a.m. departure of tour buses to Nuremburg, spelled by the Germans with dots over the "u". Our "yellow group" tour was led by a native woman named Margaret and the boat's Ananda Hilgeman.
It started out with a stop at the imposing "Nazi Party Rally Grounds," a huge outdoor complex of marching fields and viewing complex that seated thousands of cheering Germans. It was designed by Albert Speer, Hitler’s favorite architect, and came to be known as the Zeppelin Field. From there we would drive to what is called the "Nazi Documentation Center," an unfinished stadium that was meant to seat 400,000 (nearly 4 times the present capacity of the Coliseum in L.A.) and now looks like a big slice of brick cake.
Nuremberg has a population of nearly 500,000, making it the second largest city in Bavaria and one of Germany’s larger cities. Its claim to fame today is its honey, its toys and its spice cakes. It’s claim to fame of yesteryear is its enmeshment with the Nazi movement, from the rally grounds that celebrated the criminal party’s ascendancy to the complex where the war trials and hangings of war criminals took place at the conclusion of World War II.
Nuremberg was the site of the annual conventions of the National Socialist German Workers Party (better known as Nazi) from 1933 to 1938. It was at a 1935 meeting that the notorious Nuremberg Laws were put into effect, depriving German Jews of many civil rights. In 1945 and 1946, the War Crimes Tribunal tried Nazi leaders before the world press and put many of them to death and long prison sentences.
A blow-up of a photograph in the Documentation Center that still jolts today shows gleeful women cheering with several laughing men bedecked in Nazi uniforms at one of the party rallies at Zeppelin Field.
Our tour group marveled at the size of the rally grounds, which provided now-deteriorated, concrete seating for 60,000. A gigantic, copper-gilded swastika that was once atop the stadium seating was dynamited when Allied forces took Nuremberg. I’ve seen film footage of the explosion several times on television history shows. The rostrum at the center of the stadium seating, modeled after an altar, was designed by architect Speer to showcase Adolph Hitler as Germany’s larger-than-life savior. The infamy of the massed "seig heils" from massed people in the audience who were duped on such a grand scale echoes down the decades today. A blood-chilling poster of exuberant, uniformed Nazis plus several celebrating, gleeful women is on display in the Documentation Center. Hitler said in 1937 that "never throughout all of German history have greater and nobler buildings been planned, begun, and completed in our own time...This is why these buildings are not intended for the year 1940, or for the year 2000, but rather, they should reach out, like the cathedrals of our past, into the centuries of the future."
Beginning in 1940, the Flossenburg concentration camp (where at least 30,000 of more than 100,000 prisoners died) and its satellites in Northern Bavaria, Bohemia and Saxony supplied granite for the Nazi stadium and Congress Hall buildings erected at Nuremberg. Prisoners were exploited, tortured and in many cases worked to death. They were undernourished and inadequately clothed. A brochure distributed at the Documentation Center says the Flossenburg camp designed as a sick bay "consisted of three isolated barracks which housed seriously ill prisoners. Intentional neglect, constant malnutrition, bad hygienic conditions and rampant diseases turned the sick-bay into a place of death. Here Soviet prisoners of war and Polish prisoners were deliberately segregated and murdered by lethal injection. Prisoners were tortured and placed in solitary confinement, in darkened cells, where they were given no food. Among prominent prisoners from Germany and abroad – representing the military, the church and politics were prominent citizens who objected to National Socialism." Among them were Pastor Dietrich Bonheoffer, a Protestant theologian, William Canaris, a German admiral, and Hans Oster, a major general, who were all executed at Flossenberg.
Inmates at Flossenburg included Jews, gypsies, POWs, homosexuals and political opponents of National Socialism. Sadly, Flossenburg has not received the worldwide shock and approbation of Auschwitz, Dachau and Belden death camps.
The infamy of the massed "seig heils" at the Nazi monuments from duped masses echoes down the decades today. One gets a taste of yesteryear’s horrors when viewing the infamous propaganda film in 1934 by Leni Riefenstahl, "Triumph of the Will." It depicts the mesmerizing hold Hitler had on the cheering thousands. Up to 250,000 people were present at a time for Nazi rallies in Nuremberg’s Zeppelin Field. Today, anybody so misguided as to clown around the speakers’ platform by pretending to give the stiff-armed, Nazi salute is subject to arrest, a symbol of the modern thinking by post-World War II Germans, which has outlawed all public sympathy and support for Hitler and the Nazis.
A brochure I purchased at the Documentation Center said the Nazi Party rallies served primarily as an opportunity for the regime and the Fuhrer "to present themselves to the people to demonstrate the presence of a Volksgeneinshaft and to promote a spirit of war. Endless parades and roll calls, demonstrations of military prowess, sports events, Party congresses, conferences of the National Socialist organizations, propaganda exhibitions, fireworks, as well as concerts and operas - all of these events and activities so roused the emotions of the participants and spectators that there was virtually no escape for the individual."
Oddly, I had to wonder where the German citizens were on this day of our tour. There were plenty of tour buses full of tourists like our group. But it didn’t seem like there were many visiting German Rotarians, school classes or other upstanding citizen groups touring the museum complex. I asked a museum employee about the absence and was politely told there is little, if any, mention in the school textbooks today about the German death camps of World War II.
All segments of the Nazi’s National Socialist Party included the SA, the SS, Reichlabor Service, Hitler Youth, League of German Girls and the Army Wehrmacht were represented by enthusiastic adherents at the massive rallies staged at Nuremberg. For me – and I believe many others – it was stomach-turning to see the adulation, even worship, extended to Hitler and his henchmen by the crowds pictured in the photos and film clips on display at the museum. Even worse are disgusting photos and objects taken from the Nazi death camps.
After leaving the Documentation Center with leaden hearts, Betty and I recharged our emotional batteries by having a pricey but nice lunch of sandwiches at a downtown restaurant. We then toured the nearby Nuremberg Toy Museum, a charming collection of antique and modern toys hand-crafted in Germany. Rekindled were some of my long-buried memories of the neat toys my parents gave me when I was a lad. I still mourn the mistake my mother made when she gave away to a neighborhood boy my really neat set of Lionel trains when I went off to college.
While at Nuremberg, Betty shopped for souvenir thimbles for her collection and also for several Christmas gifts for family and friends while I sat on a bus bench and watched the German natives and tourists rush around the holiday-decorated stores and streets.
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To Gulf Shores, brother’s farm near Newton, MS
Dec. 20, 2007 – Jan. 2, 2008
Betty and I drove to Gulf Shores in her Ford Focus station wagon, nicknamed "Fiona." We took our greyhound by that name with us, riding in the back.
Because of our unwillingness to leave our pet alone in case she got into a chewing mood around our new carpet and furnishings, we stayed pretty close to our condo on the beach most days. The weather was cool and damp most days during our stay. Betty went shopping in the 120-store outlet mall at nearby Foley, AL, while I stayed with Fiona in the condo to write on a laptop computer my account about our recent cruise on the Danube River in Europe.
We walked on the white sand beach fronting our condo building along the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. The beach is gently sloped and quite wide – perhaps 50 or more yards from the edge of the surf line to the condo properties on most days. There is, of course, more beach at low tide and less beach at high tide.
We either cooked freshly purchased seafood in the condo or bought takeout seafood from various restaurant in Gulf Shores. During our stay with visited with Kaiser Realty’s Roger Kaiser and staff to discuss the rental program. On one day, we loaded Fiona into the wagon and drove to nearby Fort Morgan at the mount of the Mobile Bay. We poked around what appeared to be the remains of a wrecked or abandoned fiberglass fishing boat mostly buried in the sand.
Once we were back at condo, a plumber named Alan came by to repair the toilet. It had somehow become unseated from the tile we had installed in the bathroom floor a year ago as part of the interior rebuilding work done to repair extensive damage in the condo caused by Hurricane Ivan. The roof had been peeled by high winds, opening up the interior to water damage from heavy rain.
We visited the Public Library in Gulf Shores almost daily during our stay to take advantage of their Wi-Fi Internet connection signal, which was strong enough that our laptop computer could pick it up in the parking lot even when the library was closed. We also used the free Wi-Fi service offered by a bookstore near the big Bruno’s grocery store in the middle of town.
Gulf Shores has a small but surprisingly well equipped library for such a small town. Its publications rival those of the much larger Memphis library. It appears that a majority of the library’s staff are volunteers, many of them "snow birds" from northern climes spending part of the winter in the relatively balmy area.
We think winter offers the best beach walking opportunities of the year. There are not many people on the beach other than walkers and a few solitary surf fishermen. While we didn’t spot any passing porpoises this year, most walks on the beach at this time of year produce good sightings of passing families of dolphins working the shallow waters just off the beach.
Sadly, our favorite restaurant in Gulf Shores – The Spot – is now just a memory. The building that fronted the public beach has been torn down to make way for a multi-story, combination retail-condo development on the former restaurant and adjacent business property. There was no construction activity in evidence; evidently the project has stalled due to the economic downturn that has hurt the area real estate market and caused a lot of misery across the U.S.
We departed Gulf Shores Jan. 2, 2008 and had a four-hour drive to the farm of Betty’s older brother, Harvey Trapp, near Newton, MS, in the southeastern part of Mississippi not far from Meridian. When Betty and I were students at the former East Central Junior College at Decatur we frequently went to nearby Newton to a movie theatre. Harvey, who with Betty and three other siblings grew up on a farm in Neshoba County’s Philadelphia, MS, later became business manager of the community college long after his sister attended it. He now owns more than 300 acres of farmland in Jasper County, where he grows several crops.
Betty and I had a nice visit with Harvey and his former wife, Ann, who joined us for dinner that evening. The two are planning to remarry soon and Betty and I hope to attend their wedding. Their daughter Tonja – who is Betty’s niece - teaches at East Central and lives in Decatur with her husband, Jimmy Nowell, and their daughter, Maggie.
Continue with Nolan Getaways for 2006
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