spending a few days with Don and Debbie in Manlius and getting introduced to
"Iron Chef," I visited Jake, Marilyn, and Mike, old friends from my
University of Wisconsin days who, for unexplained reasons, all live in the Syracuse
area now. I met Jake in
August of 1982 during my first day of graduate school in the University of Wisconsin's Geography
Department in Madison. Jake and I were Teaching Assistants for the same Physical
Geography class for several years and, since he was a year ahead of
me, I learned a lot from him, such as why rivers meander... and how to make
I also learned from
Jake why it's important not to throw a
football near the UW Geography Building. Or, if you're going
to do that, at least be sure that you're throwing the football with your
Advisor. I'm still not sure who paid for that window: Jake or our
Advisor, Tom. Jake is now a Professor of Geography at Syracuse University and
frowns on students who throw footballs near his building.
left: Syracuse University has a pretty campus, and an enrollment of
about 18,000. Somebody please tell me, though, what's an
center: Jake, one of my football-throwing college friends from the University of
Wisconsin. He's now a Professor of Geography at Syracuse (and an
Orangeman, I guess).
right: Here's Jake in 1983 giving a "thumbs-up" before our drive from Madison, Wisconsin
to Portland, Oregon in sub-zero temperatures. I've described this
rather humorous trip a bit more in
was another good friend of mine in the Wisconsin Geography Department. She
and I met after my first year and we soon discovered that we had a lot
of common interests. Perhaps more than anyone I know, Marilyn shares my
fascination with American history and traveling, and we often have long discussions about
such varied topics as the Lewis and Clark Expedition, underrated National Parks, and "The
college, Marilyn introduced me to the wonderful music of
McCaslin. Here's Mary singing "Old Friends."
RealPlayer. If problems, see
Marilyn works at the Syracuse University hospital while her
affable husband, Mike, teaches art in a nearby elementary school.
Marilyn is a very sweet woman and Mike is so affable it's
laughable. I've visited
Marilyn and Mike throughout Wisconsin and upstate New York over the past 15 years
and always enjoy getting together with them. The
thing is, though, I never know where I'm going to end up when I visit them.
I arrived at their
house in the early afternoon and the three of us headed down to the nearby town
of Skaneateles. First, though, Marilyn had a special treat. Knowing
that my last name is "Leu," she showed me what is probably the only "Leuville"
in the world. Actually, it's just a house with a "Leuville" sign posted
outside, but I got a kick out of it nonetheless.
After eating a
delicious seafood lunch at a busy lakeside restaurant in Skaneateles, we decided
to drive up to Auburn and tour the home of William Seward, President Lincoln's
Secretary of State. I didn't realize it, but the assassination of
President Abraham Lincoln in 1865 was actually part of a much larger conspiracy
by Confederate sympathizers that night to kill several U.S. political leaders.
One fellow was supposed to kill Seward but managed only to wound him. The
sheet from Seward's bed, in fact, is still on display in the Seward House with
the blood stains faded but certainly discernable. Good thing the guy
didn't succeed, because two years later Seward managed to buy Alaska from Russia
for something like 2 cents an acre. By the way, I wanted
to take a picture of the faded bloody sheet and post it on my website.
However, I wasn't allowed to take pictures inside Seward's house, so you'll just
have to go there and see it for yourself!
After seeing Seward's
house, we dropped by the house of Harriett Tubman. After that, Marilyn
suggested we visit the nearby... um... cemetery (don't laugh). Like I say,
Marilyn and I are history buffs and she was certain that the horse "Comanche"
was buried in the cemetery. Comanche, of course (or maybe not), was the
only survivor of "Custer's Last Stand" and was ridden by one of General Custer's
officers, Captain Myles Keogh. After extensively searching the cemetery,
we found Keogh's grave but never found that of his fabled horse. On the way back that
evening, and never lacking for interesting things to do, Marilyn and Mike drove
me by the notorious Auburn prison. The guards shoot to kill here so we
didn't linger outside the walls too long.
Visiting Marilyn and
Mike reminds me of the movie "Forrest Gump," because I never know what I'm going
to get. As I drove back to my brother's house late that night, I thought
about what a great time I had seeing Marilyn and Mike again. If nothing
else, the treasured memory of that bloody sheet will be with me forever.
left: I spent a whole day catching up with Mike and Marilyn.
Here they are outside the
William Seward house in Auburn. Seward was Abe Lincoln's Secretary of State
and was injured by a knife-wielding assassin the same night Lincoln was killed. The
highlight of our tour was seeing Seward's blood-stained bedsheet on display
center: Some more old photos: This is Marilyn in 1985 about to
smash a softball at the end-of-the-year Geography Department picnic in Madison,
Wisconsin. Some people always look the same, don't they?
right: Marilyn in Syracuse in 1986... with a baby that she's glad
left: Here's their real baby. This is Lucy, one of their
affectionate guinea pigs.
center: Marilyn and Mike showed me what is possibly the only "Leuville"
in the world.
right: We also visited the Harriet Tubman house in Auburn. Harriet
was a slave from Maryland who escaped to the North in the years before the Civil
War. She secretly returned to the South several times and guided over 400
slaves north to freedom with the help of the "Underground
left: We stopped by the Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn to look for the grave of Captain Myles Keogh, a casualty of Custer's Last Stand in Montana.
Keogh's horse, Comanche, was the cavalry's only survivor of that battle and Marilyn
(far left) was sure that Comanche was also buried in the
cemetery. The skeptical Mike (right) tried to convince Marilyn that they
don't bury horses in cemeteries.
center: We never did find Comanche, but we did find Myles'
grave. Marilyn is still convinced that Comanche is buried there somewhere.
right: After they took me to the cemetery, they showed me the Auburn
Prison. Cemeteries, prisons, blood-stained sheets... it's always
interesting to visit Marilyn and Mike!
Travels (2001-02) >
Story List >
U.S. Stories > Old Friends,
Bloody Sheets, and the World's Only Leuville