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Tuesday, September 30, 2014


London police discover one of Jack the Ripper's victims 
BUT DO RIPPEROLOGISTS AGREE?—Today, 126 years ago Catherine Eddowes was murdered in East London.  One author believes he’s discovered whodunit. The following is the lede graph from an article by History Channel writer Christopher Klein.  His subject is a review of the new book “Naming Jack the Ripper” by Russell Edwards.
The following is from Klein’s article:
Based on DNA testing of a 126-year-old shawl, the author of a new book being released today claims to have solved one of history’s greatest murder mysteries and unmasked the identity of one of the most infamous serial killers of all time—Jack the Ripper. Has Jack the Ripper's Identity Been Revealed?

In the early morning hours of September 30, 1888, police discovered the mutilated body of Catherine Eddowes, her throat slit and left kidney removed, in London’s Mitre Square. Eddowes had been the second prostitute inside of an hour found murdered in that section of the city, and the slaying bore the grisly signatures of the serial killer who for weeks had been terrorizing London’s East End—Jack the Ripper.

For the complete Christopher Klein article, whereupon he debates, Russell Edwards’ claim that he’s solved the Jack the Ripper murders.

Monday, September 29, 2014


SPOOKY SILENT FILM SERIES AT WHALEY HOUSE includes John Barrymore (right) in the 1920
version of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."
GUEST BLOG—By Dean Glass, Save Our Heritage Organisation-- Famed psychic Sybil Leek claimed to have sensed several spirits there, and renowned ghost hunter Hanz Holzer considered the Thomas Whaley House in the historic Old Town section of San Diego to be “one of the most reliably haunted structures in the United States.”

This October, Save Our Heritage Organisation [SOHO] offers a chilling experience for those who dare to visit Whaley House Halloween haunts and events, which include:
            -- Popular ghost hunting tours with the San Diego Ghost Hunters;
            -- Past & Presence Walking Tours of three historically haunted sites including the Whaley House;
            --Silent screen era “horror flicks” in San Diego's first commercial theater upstairs in the Whaley House.

Whaley House Past & Presence Ghost Tour
October 3 & 4 · 10:30pm-midnight
$25 · Ages 12 & older
Let the Past & Presence Ghost Tours be your guide to San Diego's most haunted historic sites. Come visit the past and you might just feel a presence as you explore some of Old Town San Diego's most haunted locations. Truth is stranger than Fiction! Learn the fascinating true stories of each of these historic sites and of the real people who inhabited them, and hear the legendary ghost stories that surround them. This unforgettable and entertaining excursion includes an exclusive after-hours tour inside the Adobe Chapel, El Campo Santo Cemetery and, of course, "the most haunted house in America" the Whaley House.

Film Schedule:
Silent Screams at the Whaley House
Horror and suspense classics of the Silent Era screened in San Diego's oldest theatre.

October 1, 8, 15, & 22 · 6:30pm & 8:30pm
Includes Whaley House Tour
$20 each per show or save with a $60 4-movie series pass

October 1: Hitchcock’s The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
Superb silent thriller. - Film Journal International.
A landlady suspects her lodger is a Ripper-like murderer killing women around London. Starring June Tripp and Ivor Novello. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Released 1927.

October 8: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The renowned adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic about a Victorian scientist who turns himself into a murderous abomination. Starring John Barrymore and Martha Mansfield. Directed by John S. Robertson. Released 1920.  Critics call this film one of the better renditions of the tale, thanks to Barrymore's brilliant silent performance.

October 15: The Cat and the Canary
"The sort of creepy movie that is perhaps best thought of as spooky fun -- and 85 years have not changed that." - Mountain Xpress.
Relatives of an eccentric millionaire gather in his spooky mansion on the 20th anniversary of his death for the reading of his will. Starring Laura La Plante and Forrest Stanley. Directed by Paul Leni. Released 1927.

October 22: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
"A case can be made that Caligari was the first true horror film." - Roger Ebert.
This milestone film, known for its expressionistic sets and techniques, tells the strange tale of a sleepwalker under the spell of the mysterious and evil Dr. Caligari. Starring Werner Krauss and Conrad Veidt. Directed by Robert Wiene. Released 1920.

Whaley House Ghost Hunting Tour
October 10, 11, 17 & 18 ·  10:30pm-midnight
$50 ·  Ages 12 & older
Discover why the Whaley House has been called the Most Haunted House in America. Join the Whaley House Museum staff and the San Diego Ghost Hunters for this exclusive ninety-minute paranormal investigation of San Diego's most famous haunted site. Hear the history behind the legendary spirits that haunt the house.
Learn how to use paranormal investigation tools and techniques to hunt for ghosts

Attendance is limited to 20 each night. Advance reservations are strongly encouraged as this event is sold out quickly.

Thomas Whaley House (1857) in the historic Old Town section of San Diego
About the Whaley House and its Ghosts
"And here I am, sixty years of age, living in a haunted house," C. Lillian Whaley, a chronicler of early San Diego history wrote in her journal in 1925. Whaley was the youngest of six children born to San Diego pioneer Thomas Whaley and his wife Anna. Mr. Whaley was a prominent local businessman who had arrived in California by ship from New York during the Gold Rush, and (read more...)

Paranormal phenomena expert Stephen Wagner writing in About News ( blog points out the Whaley House has earned the title of "the most haunted house in the U.S." Built in 1857 by Thomas Whaley on land that was partially once a cemetery, the house has since been the locus of dozens of ghost sightings.

Author deTraci Regula relates her experiences with the house: "Over the years, while dining across the street at the Old Town Mexican Cafe, I became accustomed to noticing that the shutters of the second-story windows [of the Whaley House] would sometimes open while we ate dinner, long after the house was closed for the day.

“On a recent visit, I could feel the energy in several spots in the house, particularly in the courtroom, where I also smelled the faint scent of a cigar, supposedly Whaley's calling-card. In the hallway, I smelled perfume, initially attributing that to the young woman acting as docent, but some later surreptitious sniffing in her direction as I talked to her about the house revealed her to be scent-free."

Some of the other ghostly encounters include:

The spirit of a young girl who was accidentally hanged on the property.

The ghost of Yankee Jim Robinson, a thief who was clubbed to death and who can be heard on the house's stairway where he died, and has sometimes been seen during tours of the old house.

The red-haired daughter of the Whaley's sometimes appears in such a realistic form; she is sometimes mistaken for a live child.

Info: 619-297-9327 ·

If you can’t make the viewing of The Lodger then catch it on YouTube:

Sunday, September 28, 2014


SIMPLE IS COOL—“Sunday Review” in this blog is meant to be a gentle weekly reminder that books still exist.  A similar effort on a grander scale is NPR’s wonderful column simply called Book News.  For those smarty pants among us that are regular reader of NPR blogs this won’t be new news but for those who are late to the dance here’s a link:

One of my favorite NPR Book News columns recently was penned by Colin Dwyer, who prefaces his work “The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.”  I’ll bet Colin is a smarty pants.

Dwyer reminded us of the passing of J. California Cooper, a playwright and short story writer, who won Black Playwright of the Year in 1978 for Strangers.  She lived in Seattle and was 82.

Dwyer quotes a 2006 NPR interview with Cooper about the motivations behind her style.  Cooper replied: “...You know, I’m not writing up—and I’m trying to write to people who don’t know.  That’s why the language is simple; that’s why the stories are simple—sort of like parables—because these people who are out here struggling.  This is no game out here in life.  They call it a game, but this is serious.  This is survival...”

Here’s a snipet of classic J. California Cooper from “The Future Has a Past: Stories:  [from A Shooting Star]: “Now, you don’t know me.  And, I know that you know that nobody knows everything, but a person does have to go by whatever they do know and every new thing they can learn, to make any good sense out of life.  They say love makes the world go round, and I believe that.  But, it seems to me nowadays sex is making the world go round.
         There’s another sayin, ‘What goes round, comes round.”  Well, I know that sometime what went around comes back a whole lot different and bigger and worser than what you sent around in the first place.
         “You got to watch life, cause it’s moving all the time, every minute! You have to look all around yourself and see what’s happening to you and everybody else...”

As usual Amazon has most of Cooper’s works listed to buy.  Most likely she has chuckled that her works cost more on Kindle than a hard copy.  Life’s moving all the time, she said.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Reborn La Posada Hotel with the first rate Turquoise Restaurant in Winslow, AZ
Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series written in a coffee centric stream of consciousness about coffee bars we’ve visited and enjoyed.  We stopped by for a cup of coffee and discovered a wonderful oasis of architecture, art, Southwest history, architectural restoration, human dedication and respect.

A TRUE OASIS--A few steps south of La Posada Hotel in Winslow AZ are the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad tracks.  In fact, the lobby of this classic hotel is now the waiting room for two AMTRAK passenger trains that stop for passengers once in the morning and once at night.  Mary Jane Colter, the chief architect for the Fred Harvey Company, designed La Posada in a deco/Spanish Revival style in the late 1920s.

Opened in 1930, La Posada was the last of the Santa Fe Railroad Co’s string of Fred Harvey hotels and restaurants.  It was Fred Harvey, who brought style and elegance to transportation hospitality.

For the next 30 years, the town of Winslow prospered as a train hub for Santa Fe Railroad and because the Howard Hughes built airport (he owned TWA) was a refueling stop for those coast to coast Constellation flights.  La Posada to this day remains as a must see establishment along route Highway 66.

La Posada Hotel's Turquoise Room Restaurant operated by Chef John Sharpe and Patricia Sharpe
Today, sitting in the window of La Posada’s Turquoise Restaurant you can see train buffs and/or hotel guests sitting on tree-lined stucco walls, chairs or garden swings watching the cross-country freight trains roll by seemingly every five minutes.   If you think the humble freight train is going to soon be extinct—think again, the freight trains are often 100 double deck cars long.

Obviously, slow to get to the coffee story, but we had to praise the La Posada for its architectural history, stylish rebirth and for the best Southwestern cuisine we tasted between Kansas City and San Diego.   Chef John Sharpe was on the ground floor of the late 1990s remodeling of La Posada (more on the trio who saved the hotel later in this blog post) and he opened the Turquoise Room in 2000.

It is a superb dinner house.  The menu is shaped for all hours of the day and it sings.  Harkening to its early Fred Harvey days our waitress wore a classic Fred Harvey Girl apron uniform.
If you are driving Interstate 40 and bypass Winslow and the La Posada you’ve cheated yourself.

Latter day Harvey Girl service
We ended up staying three hours for lunch.  And, a month later after our visit, we could easily be convinced to train it back to Winslow to spend a week at the La Posada for relaxation, train watching and the best food in Arizona.

Of course, we asked our Turquoise Room Restaurant waitress what brand of coffee we were drinking.

Her answer—Late For the Train—is sold in bulk at the restaurant but not in the hotel lobby gift store.  We purchased a full pound. 

Also, did a bit of research on Late For the Train Coffee Co., and learned it has been in operation in a hole in the wall storefront in Flagstaff since 1993. They still operate out of 107 N. San Francisco Street but have since added a new roaster and two new outlets elsewhere.

Since 1993, the Late for the Train Coffee operation has been based in Flagstaff, AZ. Above is the main shop on San Francisco Street, in the historic downtown area.
Late for the Train roasts a special Turquoise Room house blend using its Diedrich CR-50 roaster.  The LFTT blend is only available in the Turquoise Room and not in the La Posada gift store.  That tip came from our excellent waitress in the Harvey Girl uniform that she says “is really cool to wear. I feel like a part of history.


The hero of this story is Allan Affeldt (with help from restoration partners Tina Mion and Daniel Lutzick), who saved the La Posada from possible demolition after the Sante Fe Railroad Co., decided to sell the property.

To back up a bit in history, we pointed out earlier that the 60-room La Posada enjoyed a heyday until the 1950s.  From mid-century the property was surplus space for the railroad and was used as Santa Fe Railway Division offices beginning in the 1960s.  Through the early 90s, the interior of the La Posada was corporate.

Allen Affeldt fell in love with the old dowager of a hotel when he first visited Winslow in 1994.  Soon, with the encouragement of local preservationists and others, he began a three year journey of negotiations with the railroad to overcome legal, environmental and financial hurdles.

Life partners Affeldt and Mion as La Posada Hotel LLC took on the $12 million project.  Lutzick is the third partner and hotel GM.  They moved in April Fools Day of 1997 and have been there ever since.

Tina Mion and Allan Affeldt
The hotel remains an ongoing restoration project.  Big backers have been the Arizona Heritage Fund, Arizona Department of Transportation, private foundations and loyal fans of the La Posada, including a wide range of the arts communities in the region.  The partners are still accepting restoration donations from the public.

Patricia and John Sharpe
The Turquoise Room, a fine dining entity inside the La Posada, was begun by prominent chef John Sharpe and wife Patricia in 2000. It is named after the private dining car of the 1936 Super Chief than ran between LA and Chicago.

The interiors of the hotel and restaurant have been enhanced dramatically.

The menus feature retro dishes from the days when Fred Harvey ran the show.  Chef Sharpe’s contemporary Southwestern cuisine is first rate by all standards.

And, they serve a delicious cup of Late for the Train brand of coffee.

More info: and


Dan Lutzick, La Posada partner/GM, sculptor/artist and owner of Winslow’s Snowdrift Art Space gallery.

By Despina Stratigakos, Ph.D., a Beverly Willis Achitecture Foundation Trustee--Mary Jane Colter, raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, brought a great sensitivity for history and landscape to the lodges and hotels she designed in the American Southwest for the Santa Fe Railway and the Fred Harvey Company.

From 1905 to the mid-1930s, Colter designed a series of buildings at the Grand Canyon whose bold designs, archaeological references, and use of local materials fired tourists’ imaginations and remain immensely popular sites. She is credited with inspiring the style known as National Park Service Rustic, nicknamed Parkitecture, developed by the National Park Service in an effort to blend visitor facilities with their natural and historic surroundings.

Others claim Colter’s fusion of cultural influences set the standard for Southwestern design. In Winslow, Arizona she designed La Posada in 1929.  Harbinger to La Posada in Gallup, New Mexico was Colter’s 1923 railway hotel, El Navajo, daringly combined modernist, Spanish, and Native American architectural elements and featured Navajo sand paintings in the lobby. The hotel was demolished in 1957, shortly before the architect’s death, to widen Route 66.

The Lookout Studio at Grand Canyon National Park by Mary Colter. 
Photo Credit: NPS photo by Michael Quinn
LAST WEEK IN THIS BLOG: 9/20 Tucumcari's Circa Espresso Bar
NEXT WEEK: 10/4 Arbuckle's Coffee at Hubbell's Trading Post, Ganado, AZ