July 26, 2022

A friend, a sitcom, and a museum, or, what I did on my summer vacation

It had been over a year since we'd had anything like a "vacation," which I understand is an extended period of time away from work and home, usually doing something enjoyable; and it had been nearly four years since we'd last done the convention circuit, which I'd started to miss, vaguely. During all that time, the closest we'd come to anything remotely fitting this description was the week we spent last year scouting areas for our move last November, and while that was fun, it was also work. (Paid off, though.)

Clearly, it was time for a change. And while we spent less than 36 hours away from home last weekend, it did include a night in a hotel, so I think that counts. More important than that, it was an occasion to visit an old friend and a new destination. The old friend was Carol Ford, author of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, and the new destination was the Liberty Aviation Museum, in Port Clinton, Ohio.

Carol was at the museum for her annual presentation on Bob Crane's life and career. Why Port Clinton, you may ask? Well, as it turns out, the Liberty Aviation Museum has the world's premier collection of Hogan's Heroes memorabilia, a wonderful mixture of artifacts, uniforms, photographs, and other items that would cause any classic television historian, let alone any Hogan fan, to start drooling. (Carefully, though, since if you got anything on Colonel Hogan's shirt or Colonel Klink's pants, Carol would have killed you.) You can learn more about the link between Hogan's Heroes and the Museum here.  

We live close enough to the Museum that we could see this display more or less any time, so for us the obvious draw was the chance to get together with Carol for the first time in—well, in almost four years, which is a disgustingly long time to go between visits with a bestie. But then again, there was the virus. I've got Carol's book on Bob Crane (here's my interview with Carol), but it's a pleasure listening to her talk about Bob in front of an inquisitive audience; combine an in-depth knowledge of a subject and a genuine enthusiasm for it, and you have an unbeatable combination. You can get an idea of it from this virtual presentation but trust me—it's much better in person. And while I'm sure someone out there will say I'm biased, my opinions on the book and Carol's presentation are objective. But I am biased; Carol's a sweetheart and a wonderful person and a dear friend, and my wife loves her too. I mean, how much more can one man ask for? And it won't be another four years before we get together again.

In the meantime, the Liberty Aviation Museum is a trip well worth your time, whether you're a Hogan's Heroes fan or not, with historic aircraft, military artifacts—everything aviation from old-time mail routes to modern airliners, and a great, friendly staff as well. I found myself fascinated by things I didn't even know I was interested in, and suddenly I have this great desire to go to YouTube looking for vintage Cleveland air races. It's one thing to find more about what you already know; it's something else to create an interest you didn't have. If that's the test of a great museum, Liberty fits the bill.

Here are more highlights from our weekend living the high life.


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Thanks for writing! Drive safely!