Why do we wander? That’s what I asked you in my last column, where I acknowledged the importance of road trip culture.
Are you on the road? Are you in the mood to explore a few pop culture landmarks that mark the American spirit of creativity, ingenuity and invention? Well, you’ve landed in the right place!
Here are a few of my favorite places with an interesting history that will hopefully inspire your mind, heart… and stomach!
The birthplace of the Apple computer
2066 Crist Drive, Los Altos, California
It was 1975 and the paths of two Bay Area tech-heads, teenagers Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, had crossed once again. This time, Wozniak was working on a primitive forerunner of the personal computer. Hewlett-Packard and Atari showed little interest in the invention, but Jobs thought there was something to the device and insisted that he and Woz start a company. In 1977, they wound up here in the Jobs family’s garage, where Jobs’ father removed his car-restoration gear and helped the boys by hauling home a huge wooden workbench that served as their first manufacturing base. There, the Apple Computer Company was born.
1047 Main Street, Buffalo, New York
In 1964, Dominic Bellissimo was tending the bar at the now-famous Anchor Bar Restaurant in Buffalo, New York. Late that evening a group of Dominic’s friends arrived at the bar touting a ravenous appetite. Dominic asked his mother, Teressa, to prepare something for his friends to eat. At about midnight, Teressa brought out two plates she had prepared in the kitchen and placed them on the bar. They looked like chicken wings, a part of the chicken that usually went into the stockpot for soup. Teressa had deep fried the wings and flavored them with a secret sauce.
The wings were an instant hit. It didn’t take long for people to flock to the bar to experience this new eating sensation. From that point on, buffalo wings became a regular part of the menu at the Anchor Bar. Today, the original restaurant is internationally famous and a tourist destination in Buffalo that serves up more than a thousand pounds of wings each day to the likes of famous movie stars, professional athletes, political leaders, and thousands of customers who seek the unique and great taste of their Original Buffalo Wings.
261-263 Crown Street, New Haven, Connecticut
One day in the year 1900, a man dashed into a small New Haven luncheonette and asked for a quick meal that he could eat on the run. Louis Lassen, the establishment’s owner, hurriedly sandwiched a broiled beef patty between two slices of bread and sent the customer on his way, so the story goes, with America’s first hamburger. The tiny eatery that made such a big impact on the eating habits of an entire nation was, of course, Louis’ Lunch. Today, Louis’ grandson, Ken, carries on the family tradition: hamburgers that have changed little from their historic prototype are still the specialty of the house. Each one is made from beef ground fresh each day, broiled vertically in the original cast iron grill and served between two slices of toast. Cheese, tomato, and onion are the only acceptable garnish – no true connoisseur would consider corrupting the classic taste with mustard or ketchup.
Betsy Ross House
239 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
History says that Betsy Ross made the first American flag after a visit in June 1776 by George Washington, Robert Morris, and her husband’s uncle, George Ross. Supposedly, she demonstrated how to cut a 5-pointed star with a single clip of the scissors, if the fabric were folded correctly. However, this story was not told until 1870 by Betsy’s grandson, and many scholars believe that while Betsy probably didn’t make the first flag, she was indeed a professional flagmaker. Her house, now a museum, remains one of Philadelphia’s most visited landmarks.
Helen Keller’s Home
300 West North Commons, Tuscumbia, Alabama
Located on a 640-acre tract in historic Tuscumbia, Alabama, Ivy Green was built in 1820 by David and Mary Fairfax Moore Keller, grandparents of Helen Keller. The old “whistle path” leads the visitor to the outdoor kitchen from the main home. Sprinkled around the estate are the Lion’s Club’s International Memorial Fountain, the “Clearing” and herb gardens, the Carriage House, and Gift Shop. Helen Keller’s birthplace cottage is situated east of the main house and consists of a large room with a lovely bay window and playroom. Originally, the small “annex” was an office for keeping the plantation’s books. Later, the cottage would serve as living quarters for Helen and her teacher, Anne Sullivan. The home and museum room are decorated with much of the original furniture of the Keller family.
Safe travels. See you next week!
Chris Epting is an author, award-winning journalist/photographer and dedicated road tripper. His best-selling books including James Dean Died Here (the locations of America’s pop culture landmarks), Roadside Baseball, and The Birthplace Book, along with many others that remain popular with many travelers and RVers throughout the country and world. He is excited to be contributing to RVTravel.com and looks forward to helping to lead you places you may not have discovered otherwise. You may learn more about Chris at his author’s site, www.chrisepting.com.