Confessions of a Hamburger Historian

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Have you ever eaten something so delicious you just can’t wait to get your hands on the recipe? You know how the next question is always, “I wonder who was the first person to make this delicious dish?”

Well, if you haven’t guessed by now, I show hungry hamburger enthusiasts the answer to who sold the first hamburger in my book Hamburger Dreams. Indeed, for the past three years, every May (National Beef Month) and, in particular, every May 28th (National Hamburger Day), I’m invited to appear in media across the country to explain how I used classic crime solving techniques to crack the case of America’s greatest culinary mystery.

Do you want to know what I’m asked most often?Continue Reading “Confessions of a Hamburger Historian”

Don’t Let Them Divide and Conquer Us

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Mattes, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia CommonsA while back I ran across a reporter’s query. It seemed this journalist wanted to know if the “right-wing” is decentralizing the Internet. That struck me as an odd thing to ask given most feel it is the “left-wing” that kicked the “right-wing” out of the clubhouse.

But, hey, if you want to sow division, this is the way to do it.

In 1894, five years before he became governor of New York State, Theodore Roosevelt wrote ever so eloquently of the need to come together as one nation and avoided the divide and conquer strategy that serves America’s enemies well:Continue Reading “Don’t Let Them Divide and Conquer Us”

‘There Must Be A Pony In Here Somewhere!’

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If you’re old enough to remember simpler times, you’ll recall this title as the punch-line to one of President Reagan’s favorite jokes. The gag revealed not only Reagan’s engaging sense of humor, but also a lot about his political philosophy and his outlook on life.

The essence of the story goes something like this. It’s Christmas morning and two young brothers hurriedly amble towards the Christmas tree to discover their gifts. On one side lay piles of wonderful toys for one of the boys. He looked at it and sorrowfully said, “They’ll all be broken in a day or two.” The other boy’s gift, on the other side of the tree, was nothing but a pile of manure. He quickly grabbed a shovel and began to dig, joyfully telling his dour sibling, “There’s must be a pony in here somewhere!”

It’s the age-old tale of the wonders of optimism contrasted with the annoyance of Continue Reading “‘There Must Be A Pony In Here Somewhere!’”

The Great American Maxim: Stand Alone And Win

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The Conqueror“The game was created to demonstrate the futility of individual effort. Let the game do its work… If a champion defeats the meaning for which the game was designed, then he must lose.”

So says Mr. Bartholomew in 1975’s classic film Rollerball. It’s an American tale. An epic retelling of the classic mantra that fills the heart of every red-blooded citizen from the very founding of our country.

Don’t believe me? Just look at some of the most popular books, films, or any other place where a character must confront personal and public obstacles in heroic fashion. The most compelling of those stories are built around a single individual.

No, it doesn’t take a village to succeed, it takes self-discipline, self-reliance, and, ultimately, Continue Reading “The Great American Maxim: Stand Alone And Win”

It’s Easier For Greater Western New York To Become Its Own State Than For Washington DC To Achieve Statehood

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Greater Western New YorkThere’s a verse in the Bible about it being easier “for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24 for those keeping score.) The latest escapades out of the House of Representatives got me thinking about this.

There’s also something about power that brings out the sorrowful worst in people, at once exposing their ego as well as their ignorance. Once again, the House provider fodder for this feeling.

Last Thursday, while you were reading the third part on The Story of Abraham Parrish, the House decided it was time for Washington DC to become a state.

No. Seriously. They actually did this.

It won’t go far in the Senate, or so promises Chuck Schumer. We’ll see. Like I said, power Continue Reading “It’s Easier For Greater Western New York To Become Its Own State Than For Washington DC To Achieve Statehood”

The Story of Abraham Parrish, Mendon’s First Tavern Keeper (Part III)

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1838 - Rochester in 1812 (showing first 'hotel') - Sketches of Rochester

Rochester in 1812 (showing first ‘hotel’). Source: Sketches of Rochester, 1838

Abraham Parrish had front row seats to watch his older brother Jasper become a success. And what a role model Jasper was. As a boy, Jasper had been captured by Indians in the immediate aftermath of the Wyoming Massacre in 1778, sold as a slave among various tribes, beaten mercilessly, nearly killed for a guinea when the British put a bounty on Yankee scalps, until he was finally bought by a Mohawk named “Captain Hill” for $20.29

Captain Hill so admired Jasper and Jasper so admired Captain Hill, that in 1780, the Captain formally adopted Jasper in a traditional Iroquois ceremony. In turn, Jasper came to Continue Reading “The Story of Abraham Parrish, Mendon’s First Tavern Keeper (Part III)”

The Story of Abraham Parrish, Mendon’s First Tavern Keeper (Part II)

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Source: Ontario County Times, April 16, 1897

When last we left the family of Zebulon Parish, they had packed up their bags and the young’uns, including the toddler Abraham, and ventured out into the frontier wilderness of Connecticut. The family landed right smack dab in the middle of a hornet’s nest. More on that in a moment.

Abraham Parrish was born on March 30, 1772. There’s a couple of things you should know about Abraham: one which you’re already asking; and one which you probably don’t know enough to ask.

First, as you might have noticed, Abraham’s last name contains two r’s (“Parrish”) while his father (and his three oldest brothers Jacob, Nathan, and Isaac), kept the original spelling with one r (“Parish”).15 It’s not clear why.

Here’s the thing you likely don’t know: Abraham was Continue Reading “The Story of Abraham Parrish, Mendon’s First Tavern Keeper (Part II)”

The Story of Abraham Parrish, Mendon’s First Tavern Keeper (Part I)

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Wyoming Forts A-Fort Durkee, B-Fort Wyoming or Wilkesbarre, C-Fort Ogden, D-Kingston Village, E-Forty Fort, G-battleground, H-Fort Jenkins, I-Monocasy Island, J-Pittstown stockades, G-Queen Esther’s Rock Source: Lossing, Benson, The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution, Harper & Brothers, Publishers, January 7, 1859, p. 353

In many ways, the life of Abraham Parrish wasn’t that different from any other person participating in the formative decades of the grand American Experiment.

In other ways, he lived a unique life that exposed him at an early age to the rarified frontier air that existed when Western New York emerged from its dense terra incognita forest. He witnessed firsthand nearly all the major personalities of our region and saw how they forged this thickly wooded region into an industrious civilization.

But let’s not get far ahead…

Zebulon Parish represents a typical American story. He was born on February 12, 1726 in Windham, a town in the eastern half of the Colony of Connecticut between Hartford and the Rhode Island border. He not only shares a birthday with Abraham Lincoln, he shares something else – his descendants were active in the abolition movement.

There was a very good reason Zebulon’s family joined the fight against slavery – his grandfather, John Wattles, came to America as a slave.

Our story, therefore, begins in Scotland…Continue Reading “The Story of Abraham Parrish, Mendon’s First Tavern Keeper (Part I)”

Let’s Start Laughing Again!

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Everybody loves to laugh. So why don’t we anymore?

This isn’t funny. It’s true.

If you want to know the reason why, go to almost any social media platform. For that matter, read any headline. Whether from the right or from the left, you’re vilified once you stray too close to the shoulder of an ever-narrowing path.

Time was you could walk smoothly in a sea of honest humor. You’d laugh. You’d cringe. You’d get that awkward feeling. But it was all good. You accepted this variety of hits and misses because you liked to laugh. And there were enough hits to keep you laughing which made the trade-off worthwhile.

It seems today people would rather get angry than laugh. They’d prefer to take the easy Continue Reading “Let’s Start Laughing Again!”

Why Is New York State Trying To Kill Print Newspapers?

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Do you enjoy reading this newspaper? Do you enjoy reading anything in print as opposed to reading a screen on an electronic device?

If the answer to either of these questions is “yes” the State of New York is brewing a budget that will certainly disappoint you. And the clock is working against you to prevent this.

As you can read from the Letter to the Editor below from Michelle Rea, Executive Director of the New York Press Association, the Extended Producer Responsibility Act may soon make it financially impossible for newspapers – and especially small newspapers like the Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel – to maintain a sustainable business.

That’s too bad. We recently asked our readers “In your own words (not to exceed 25), Continue Reading “Why Is New York State Trying To Kill Print Newspapers?”