In every sense of the phrase, Frank Earle Schoonover was a picture-making man. He was at his best recreating the swagger of seafaring buccaneers in his “Pirates Coming through Charleston.”
It’s one of a batch of illustrations drawn by Schoonover for Ralph D. Paine’s 1922 serialized story of the pirates. Schoonover’s keen eye for color and kinship with the outdoors inspired more than 2,500 illustrations, landscapes, portraits, and stained glass windows in a career that spanned more than six decades and bridged generations.
Born in 1877, Schoonover’s work appeared in most of the popular magazines of the day-- Harper’s, Scribner’s, the Saturday Evening Post, and Colliers. In addition, his evocative illustrations were commissioned for over 100 books including the classics: Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Blackbeard Buccaneer, and A Princess of Mars. He was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1998.
Back in the mid-1960s Sewell C. Biggs often attended the artist’s Wednesday night salons at his studios on North Rodney Street in Wilmington. Schoonover would enthrall the audience with his discussions on art and they often stayed late to buy works that hung on the walls or stacked high in back rooms.
Daybreak, August 25, A.D. 79. Pompeii is a thriving commercial center with a population of 20,000 people a few miles from the Bay of Naples. Its narrow streets, made narrower by vendors and shops, teem with market goers, slaves, and vacationers.
At 8 a.m. the ground begins to rumble. At noon Mount Vesuvius literally blows its top, spewing tons of molten ash, pumice and scorching gases twelve miles into the atmosphere. Midday turns into midnight as the city of Pompeii-- just five miles from the volcano-- is blanketed with six inches of ash and pumice within the first hour. Around midnight, the column from the volcano collapses and the mountainside is a glowing avalanche of boiling gases, pumice and rocks. About 6:00 a.m. on the following morning, the rolling firestorm envelops Pompeii.
Mighty Mount Vesuvius’ 24-hour reign of terror killed all those trapped between the volcano and the sea. The eruption buried everything in its path, sealing the town as if a layer of concrete had been poured over it. But the remains of Pompeii were also preserved in time.
Had enough of winter’s Arctic blasts? Need a taste of spring to cure it? This winter at Longwood Gardens, your escape is “Orchid Extravaganza”-- a world filled with the beautiful, sometimes bizarre, often fragrant flowers that come in almost every color, shape, and size.
One of the largest groups of flowering plants on the planet, orchids can be found on every continent except Antarctica and in almost every conceivable habitat. Mesmerizing and seductive, some orchids live on the ground while others grow perched on trees or rocks. Vanilla and some of its allies scramble up shrubs and trees or are lianas that grow up forest trees, using its roots for support.
The delicate and graceful plants become works of art inside Longwood’s lush four-acre Conservatory, located southwest of Philadelphia in Kennett Square, Pa. The exhibit features stunning displays of orchids in planting beds, containers and innovative arrangements throughout the exhibition that runs to March 30.
People have long held a fascination with orchids. During the grand age of plant exploration in the 19th century, people collected them with a maddening frenzy, because the exotic flowers were like nothing ever seen. Orchids were one of the first collections to be developed by founder Pierre S. du Pont and his wife Alice, for their then home gardens at Longwood in 1922.
A few days before he opened his Trolley Square Asian restaurant, Michael DiBianca had a bit of a problem. Satsuma’s owner/executive chef had yet to land top-flight sushi chefs. Then he put an ad on CraigsList.
“It was a bit of a scramble, but we landed a couple of talented young guys from Philly,” DiBianca says with a wry smile. “You know, people are assistants to sushi chefs for a long time before they get a chance to break out. Making the rice is huge, but it’s also about creativity and that fits right in with our focus.”
With its innovative pan-Asian menu, Satsuma just might become the go-to place for fresh sushi and small plates. And, it is far from just another sushi parlor in appearance.
DiBianca spent last summer retooling the former Del Rose Café. Stride up those three outdoor concrete steps into a stunningly renovated venue. The three-story structure was gutted and transformed into a rustic-contemporary space with exposed brick walls and rafters, open ceilings, cork flooring, modern lighting and a ten-seat black marble bar and high-top tables in an energetic space.
Desperately waiting for the return of the white-hot PBS British import Downton Abbey? If so, Charles Todd’s historical mysteries could be the perfect tonic. Set in a beautiful and brooding England during or shortly after World War I, the best-selling Ian Rutledge mysteries evoke the aura of that time and place.
Just one thing, half of “Charles Todd” is a she. Todd is the nom de plume of the mother-and-son writing team of Caroline Watjen of Greenville, and Charles Watjen who attended A. I. Du Pont High School and now lives in North Carolina.
Their series of crafty whodunits books feature Rutledge who fought in the trenches of France during the Great War. He returns home to pick up the threads of his job at Scotland Yard. His specialty is solving crimes in English villages in a country still coping with the horrors and carnage of war.
Rutledge is one of the lucky survivors, but he is fighting his own battles. Suffering from shell-shock or what we now know as post-traumatic stress disorder, he feels the guilt of surviving when seemingly better men died. Rutledge carries with him a dark and frightening voice in the back of his mind, that of Hamish MacLeod. The British officer condemned the young Scottish corporal to a firing squad during the 1916 Somme offensive when he refused to lead his men into an inevitable slaughter.
Writing concisely about Bud Martin? It is no easy proposition.
Martin’s life journey has taken him from occupations as a high school and college theater teacher to investment banker in Manhattan; from a venture capitalist in Philly to launching a side career as a steeplechase jockey at 40, an age when many riders are hanging up their boots.
But in his heart of hearts, the theater has always been Martin’s passion.
Sitting in the expansive sunroom of Martin’s splendid farmhouse in West Grove where orchids are in full bloom, sunshine cascades through three walls of palladium windows. In the distance a string of sleek thoroughbreds canter along the emerald landscape then charge up a half-mile hill, their manes blowing in the wind.
Neighbor Louis “Paddy” Neilson has been training thoroughbred racehorses, flat and steeplechase, here for more than four decades. He helped introduce Martin to the rough-and-tumble sport of steeplechase racing in 1992. Galloping three to five miles and leaping over imposing brush and timber fences, Martin was a man sometimes bent but never defeated by broken bones. He rode Neilson’s horses for ten years.
In “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” Washington Irving tells the fearsome tale of the gangly, superstitious schoolteacher Ichabod Crane being menaced by a mighty headless horseman on a lonely night ride.
Readers of Irving’s evocative prose will be pleased to learn that the lush landscape of the Hudson Valley Irving once described still exists. Heading north across the Tappan Zee Bridge (I-287) over the Hudson River, the spectacular views are what Dutch explorers gazed upon almost 400 years ago.
Journeying along the majestic Hudson River is like time traveling through America's history. You follow the trails of Native Americans, adventurers, and George Washington's Continental Army. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point looms on the western banks, while the eastern shore boasts the opulent Vanderbilt Mansion and many of the grandest estates of the Gilded Age.
Flanked by the Catskill Mountains, the valley’s lush landscapes drew artists to its beauty and inspired America’s first great art movement, the Hudson River School of Art, in the early years of the 19th century. Sharp mountain peaks, deep valleys, spreading woodlands and a patchwork of farms divide the artsy and gentrified communities of the Hudson Valley. Just 100 miles north of Manhattan, the region is celebrated for its plentiful mom-and-pop shops, “u-pick” apple, berry and wildflower fields, and organic farm stands.
For the past fifteen years I’ve been a contributing writer to a variety of national & regional magazines, prominent daily news-papers and websites. I have written about an array of topics such as arts & culture, chefs, food & drink, business entrepreneurs, travel, history, thoroughbred racing, and the animal and natural world.
I'm currently a regular arts & culture contributor to WFIT's website (the NPR radio station in Melbourne.), Vero Beach Magazine and Florida Today newspaper on a number of topics. Over recent years my work has been published regularly in Blood-Horse, Long Island Boating World and The Hunt and PA Equestrian magazines.
I am a regular contributor to the websites JustLuxe.com and SeeTheSouth.com. JustLuxe is an online magazine featuring the best of luxury lifestyle and travel, while SeeTheSouth features truly unique southern destinations. My travel articles also regularly appear in Florida Today, Long Island Boating world and the Delaware County Times, a major daily newspaper just outside Philly.
I've also contributed a variety of articles to the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, the Delaware County Times, and the Montgomery County Newspapers. I have been an Arts & Culture correspondent for Newsworks, the website for WHYY-TV (PBS in Philadelphia). I have been a correspondent to ESPN.com, America's Best Racing, the Paulick Report and Thoroughbred Racing Commentary.
After spending the past two decades in Wilmington, Delaware, my wife Jane, our Toller retriever Smarty and I have moved to Melbourne Beach, Fla. Located on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River, Melbourne Beach sits on the southern end of Florida's "Space Coast." The famed coastal highway A1A runs directly along the Atlantic. Melbourne Beach (pop. 3,000) offers unspoiled beaches with sparkling blue-green waters and thousands of beautiful seabirds and long-legged shorebirds.
Head north 35 miles on A1A and you arrive at Cape Canaveral, for decades our nation's gateway to exploring and understanding our universe. Today, Cape Canaveral is a hub for many of the most exciting new private space projects such as SpaceX, the rocket and spacecraft company founded by Elon Musk (manufacturer of Tesla vehicles). Upwards of 30 launches are planned in 2017.
Back down to earth traveling on two-lane A1A south from Melbourne Beach's compact business area brings you to a series of secluded and undeveloped natural beaches. Bonsteel Park's two-acre beach provides an excellent vantage point to catch glimpses of passing dolphins, while the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge is recognized as the most important nesting area for loggerhead turtles in the western hemisphere. It's also home to the gigantic leatherback turtles.
Nearby is Sebastian Inlet State Park which connects the Indian River Lagoon with the Atlantic Ocean. Its jetty break is recognized as one of the surf world's high-performance hot spots. Three generations of world-class surfers have surfed here, including 11-time world champion Kelly Slater. The 600-acre park is also celebrated for world-class fishing, and plenty of seabirds and wildlife.
Through my writing over the past decade I have traveled to spectacular destinations such as Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev. and Sun Valley, Idaho; Cody, Wyoming/Yellowstone Park; Saratoga Springs, the Adirondacks, Saratoga Springs and Rhinebeck, New York; Port Clyde and Monheghan Island, Maine; Avalon and Stone Harbor, New Jersey; Middleburg, Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia.
Other travel adventures have included Tampa and St. Petersburg, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, Florida; and St. Simons and Jekyll Island, Georgia. My travel articles thoughtfully explore the history of the region along with museums, music and the arts, chefs and restaurateurs, wineries and craft breweries, outdoor and sporting adventures as well as profiling intriguing personalities of those regions.
In addition to my writing career I owned a marketing company where I represented a diversified list of clients in the areas of publicity, marketing and business development-- such as the famed Baldwin's Book Barn, Thoroughbred Charities of America and the Kahunaville restaurant chain. In another life I was the founder, publisher and editor of Life Sports Magazine.
Along with Jane and Smarty I look forward to writing about new adventures in Melbourne Beach, the "Space Coast" and other Florida destinations. That's Smarty below with his pals Willie and Nelson.