Cameron Goodman - SHU - Political Science Blogger

Day 4 - 11/22/2010
The start of our last day began with a visit to Kent State University. We had traveled there to see the site of the 1970 Kent State conflict. The site featured a modest monument to the four fallen students and those wounded, and it was interesting to see the location firsthand after hearing so many stories and reading about the history of the incident.

We left Kent State and drove to Brandywine Falls. The view was outstanding, and I am glad that we went out of our way to be able to see it. The only regret I had was attempting to climb up a slippery section of a steep rock for a picture and then clumsily falling. It was well worth the climb to see the falls, but I endured a slight limp the rest of the day—and also endured taunts from other Junior Fellows, as well as our Junior, Junior Fellow, Ryan Brim.

Our next stop was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame situated in down town Cleveland on the edge of Lake Erie. We were greeted by two giant guitars in honor of John Lennon and George Harrison and cars from U2’s Zoo TV Tour. Even with a bad knee, I started my tour of the Hall off on the right foot by going straight to the section on the Beatles. It was incredible to see hand-written song lyrics and notes, actual outfits worn for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and other personal belongings. The entire museum was filled to the brim with pieces of rock history. One of the other interesting features of the museum was being able to see the handwritten names of inductees on the wall of the Hall of Fame. Seeing personal favorites like Neil Young, Roger Waters, and the Beatles on the wall was a great experience. I know that I had previously blogged about how the Football Hall of Fame was far and away the coolest museum I had been to, but the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gave it a serious run for its money.

Owing to time constraints, I left the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame early so that I could visit one more destination: The Christmas Story House. Like many other red blooded Americans, I grew up watching A Christmas Story religiously every holiday season. It is my favorite Christmas movie and it has become a tradition of sorts in the Goodman household to watch it every Christmas, sometimes even multiple times. It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to say that I was extremely excited to be able to visit the actual house from the movie. To make things even more exciting, the group had waited until I was inside to house to let me know that Ian Petrella, the actor who played Randy in the movie, was at the house to talk to visitors and sign autographs. We talked to “Randy” and even had the chance to take pictures with the notorious lamp. I’m not proud to admit it, but there may be a day when a picture of me surfaces in which I’m wearing the bunny ears made famous by Ralphie at the end of the movie. All in all, the house and museum was an amazing stop, and I will always remember it during the holiday season when I watch the beloved movie.

The entire trip has been a thrill and I feel that I have learned a lot about political consulting, modern art, history, and America’s heartland in general. I am ready to get back to the Lone Star State, but I hope to make it back up to the Midwest in the future and learn even more about these great states.

I’m also particularly grateful that the Bliss Institute offers such a conference. The conference was the central part of the trip, and their “outreach” subsidy allowed me the opportunity to have such a wonderful time. I’m also appreciative of KBTX, Today @ Sam, and The Huntsville Item for publishing our blogs.

Day 3 - 11/21/2010
The first stop of our third day in the Midwest was the McKinley Presidential Museum. The museum was different from any other presidential museum I have visited in that they did not enjoy the benefit of being left with a large supply of personal belongings or artifacts of the President. The museum more than made up for this by creating exhibits that showed what life was like in America, and more specifically Stark County Ohio, during the time of McKinley’s presidency. The museum actually created a small town inside of the museum complete with storefronts and even a firehouse containing a fire engine from the period. As our tour came to a close we then walked to the nearby McKinley Monument located on the same grounds. The monument, which is the final resting place of President McKinley and his wife Ida, was a grand structure that consisted of over 2,000,000 bricks. We paid our respects and moved onward to one of my most anticipated stops of the trip.

As I walked into the Football Hall of Fame we were welcomed by the sight of dozens of fans wearing jerseys representing their respective teams from across the nation who had come to visit the Mecca of football. The museum was simply amazing and did a great job of tracing football’s rise to America’s number one sport, starting with its simple roots. There were so many amazing pieces of football history from the jerseys of football greats like Joe Namath and Barry Sanders to an amazing collection of Super Bowl Rings. The single greatest part of the museum was being able to see the Vince Lombardi trophy in person. It was a great experience. I came in with very high expectations and I left with them all being surpassed.

After leaving the Football Hall of Fame, we found a small restaurant inside of Canton called Arcadia’s Grille. The food was good but the most interesting part of the meal was our server who ruled her kitchen with an iron fist and sounded a bit like a bad Adam Sandler impersonation. Despite her loud bark we heard coming from the kitchen, she was actually a sweet woman who served up a great Italian meal.

We left our hostess behind and moved to the Andy Warhol Museum. I am definitely not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to the world of modern art but I was actually pretty excited to learn more about the iconic American artist. One of the most interesting aspects of the museum was that the main exhibit was on Marilyn Monroe because the Junior Fellows recently put on a Marilyn Monroe film festival. The exhibit featured works by Warhol himself as well as other artists who captured her career from its early stages until her untimely death. I will say that some of Warhol’s work was a bit out there, but there is no denying the impact that he had on the same American culture.

We kept the educational theme going with our next stop at the Cathedral of Learning located at the University of Pittsburgh. As we approached the building I was taken aback by the sheer size of the building and the fact that it looked like a hybrid of a gothic cathedral and a skyscraper. As I walked inside the first thing that crossed my mind, being the nerd that I am, was that it looked like we had just been transported to Hogwarts and that any moment I would see Harry Potter running through the commons area. The cathedral featured rooms based on various nationalities from around the world and throughout history, all the way from Austria to Wales.

For dinner we went to Aiellos Pizzeria. I took the opportunity to get a cheese steak, knowing that this would be the closest I would get to a real deal Philadelphia cheese steak for a long time. It put every cheese steak I have ever had to shame.

We worked off our dinner walking around Squirrel Hill and then went to the final destination of the day. As we pulled up to the Duquesne Incline night was falling over Pittsburgh. We paid for our tickets and boarded the electric cable car which took us up Mount Washington. The view of the city was incredible and it was a very relaxing way to end our busy day in Pittsburgh.

Day 1 - 11/19/2010
My name is Cameron Goodman, and I am a senior majoring in Political Science at Sam Houston State University.

Today marked the start of our four-day journey throughout the upper Midwest. The trip started early at 3:40 am in the morning. For the first time in my Junior Fellow career I was actually the first person to arrive at our rendezvous spot which, besides being a miracle itself, meant that I got some bragging rights for the trip. John Daywalt filled in my usual role of being the late Junior Fellow after an alarm mishap, but we quickly regrouped and made it to the airport on schedule.

We touched down in Detroit at around 11:30 am and made our way into central Detroit. I couldn’t help but be reminded of my Canadian roots as we passed the tunnel leading into Canada while Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” helped set the mood for our trip to the Mariners’ Church of Detroit.

After visiting the Mariners’ Church we headed into Greektown in downtown Detroit. When we arrived we found a small restaurant named the Laikon Café. It has been in operation since 1927, which makes it the second oldest Greek restaurant still open in Greektown. The food was excellent and it was easy to see why the restaurant has been in business for eighty-three years.

The next stop of the day was the Motown Historical Museum. The museum didn’t match up directly with what I had envisioned, but it was still very exciting to be able to see the studio where the likes of Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, and the Supremes recorded some of their biggest hits. The museum also offered an interesting perspective into how the business of Motown Records began and grew into the powerhouse that it became.

We closed the evening by stopping Rutherford Hayes’ house. It was much bigger than I expected, being more of a castle than a house. My only comparison, however, was Bill Clinton’s modest home in Hope, AR.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s events, which includes an all-day conference, a trip to the Cleveland Art Museum, and dinner at the riverfront. It’s great that SHSU students are given these opportunities, and I also appreciate the fact that KBTX is carrying our blogs.

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