Holy Toledo! A Travel Note

By The Old Professor

Many people think of Max Klinger of “M*A*S*H” fame when they hear the name Toledo. Or perhaps they remember the amusing name of the minor league baseball team, “The Mud Hens.” The more continental minded, may think of Spain.

Others may remember the epic Battle of Toledo in 1835. Militia men from Ohio and Michigan aligned themselves on either side of the Maumee River, and shouted taunts at one another. No one was hurt, and it is rumored that the two sides retired to a common tavern for celebration. Sounds like the best kind of war.

The new city was awarded to Ohio which has since claimed victory in the battle. Michigan was given the Upper Peninsula in return. So it is sometimes said that it was Wisconsin which lost the Battle of Toledo.

Some time back we visited a Toledo suburb, Perrysburg, partly for family reasons, staying in a very nice home. Because the Professoress served as a docent at the Chihuly Collection we have a special interest in glass. We even had a private tour of the great man’s Seattle studio. Toledo has long been home to important glass companies. One, Libbey-Owens-Ford, made substantial contributions to the Toledo Art Museum. (No, she is not a society maven.) We visited the museum. The glass pavilion is made of plate glass walls. Even most of the internal walls are glass. It houses an extensive collection of both art and historic glass. Several Chihuly pieces are on display. We noted a Steuben gazelle bowl. Few of these exist. The Corning Museum was able to obtain one only through the gift of our late good friend Barbara Olsen who used to display it in her home.

The big surprise in our visit was the quality of the collection in the remainder of the Toledo Museum. It has an interesting sculpture garden, but is the collection of paintings which wowed us. Among the impressionist paintings were those of most of the big names Renoir, Cezanne, Van Gogh, and others. A wonderful very large Rubens with great light filled one wall. Next to Rembrandt, just where he ought to be, was Franz Hals. I am not a big fan of British painting, but I saw one I quite like, and when I looked it was a Hogarth. There was so much good work!

One evening we sat in a wicker swing on the front porch of our borrowed home, snuggled a bit, and swung to and fro. The evening had begun, the temperature was moderate, and there was a gentle breeze as twilight descended. Then we began to notice flickering above the grass. It had been a long time since we had watched fireflies blinking. It was delightful. I have been told that the fire is displayed by the males, and that the length of the blank is thought to be an indicator of sexual prowess. There’s also one subspecies of lightning bug where all the males blink in unison, followed by the unison blink by the females, a kind of lightning bug red rover, red rover. These were not present in that Toledo evening. But we enjoyed the scene very much until the breeze died and the evil mosquitoes began to nip at my tender ankles.

Two days later when we looked in the basement water had risen to the second step. We called the owner. Her repair man arrived to tell us some pipe, somewhere was leaking, and it was necessary to shut the water off. The water had by then risen to the level of some of the electrical outlets, and we feared that the power would also go off. With no water and the threat of power loss, we shook the sands of Toledo from our sandals and headed home.

As you ponder summer travel it’s unlikely anyone will shout “You must go to Toledo!” The town flies under the radar. But we had a good time there. The beauty of the fireflies, and the excellent art at the museum remain very pleasant memories. And where else is there a ball team called “The Mud Hens?”

Slapped out between mosquito bites by David H. Smith, Ph.D., retired professor