Archaeological Museum – April 27, 2018 – Syracuse, Sicily, Italy


By Tom Allin

OK, we have done an archaeological park, a Roman villa with outstanding mosaics so
it only makes sense today to do an archaeological museum. It’s a short walk from
the hotel – like across the street and down no more than a block.

As we were paying for our tickets about 50 young students began their tour of the
ground floor. The lady issuing our tickets wisely suggested we go down to the
basement floor and take a look at the coins – let the students get ahead of us. Me, I
am not big on looking at coins – spending yes.

Anyway, we head down stairs. First thing I noticed was the vault door we had to
walk through and the second was the glass door is locked and we have to wait for
museum employee to unlock the door and let us in. Once inside it is very apparent
why the security – lots of gold and silver coins. Each case has a magnifying glass for
your use because some of these coins are very small. Small in these coins may be a
third of the size of our dime and maybe smaller.

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Villa Romana del Casale (Roman Country Villa) – April 26, 2016 – Sicily, Italy


By Tom Allin

We got off to a relative early start this morning in spite of the typical Italian doubleparked car that almost had me hemmed in. With Edmund giving me directions I
backed out with an inch of open air on each side of the 4Runner.

It was a scenic two-hour drive to Villa Romana del Casale in central Sicily. The Villa
Romana del Casale is considered to contain the best in-situ Roman mosaics in the
world and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As some have already
deduced all you have to do is say Roman mosaics and Nancy and I are off to see them
no matter where they are located. The Roman mosaics are an art form I knew
nothing about until we began seeing them in Italy and the two of us immediately fell
in love with them.

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Troubadour: Can’t say I remember needing the word before


By Hudson Old — June 28, 2018


Tuning in to Professor Steve Howell’s lyrical-musical lectures ever time I crank the pickup stereo’s expanded my brain. I’m prob’ly smarter than y’all now.

I’m smug knowing “When It’s Sleepy Time Down South” was once Louie Armstrong’s tribute to Dixieland Jazz pouring down the Mississippi into the port of New Orleans. Hearing Professor Howell and the Mighty Men turn its melody into a riverboat paddle wheeler on a moonlit night taking me where I’ve never been makes me a philosopher.

Is it wrong for a troubadour (sic – I looked it up) to love his guitar? A Texas board room oil baron, Professor Howell would as soon be playing a honky tonk. I know, I was there. As an emerging music critic, I drove 50 miles to Marshall where he was booked for a Wednesday-night show.

A classical guitarist, Dan Summer took the distance trophy for driving up from Louisiana to accompany Professor Howell at OS2. OS2 is either a place with linen table clothes attached to an old railroad town tavern, or a tavern attached to a restaurant with a selection of Vegan, Organic and Non-GMO entres on the menu alongside marinated crab claws and filet mignon.

Either way, carry your wallet.

I got there in time to see Professor Howell and wife Leigh picking up the check for Mr. Summer’s meal.

“I take good care of good musicians,” Mr. Howell said. Also, I checked the spelling on “troubadour” before I started tossing out French, probably a residual effect of going in a bar with no pool tables. A beatnik could play bongos in there.

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Editor’s note:
I am siting the historical dates included in this article from memory. They may be off by a year or two but that does impact my opinion in any way. has verified that in the last month City Manager Jack Redmon has discussed transferring management of Wonderland of Lights from the City to the Chamber with Chamber Director Stormy Nickerson.

I commend the City Manager for taking this action since festival management is not a core function of the City and historically the City has not been directly involved in the management of Wonderland of Lights.

Wonderland of Lights was born in 1982 – the brainchild of Marshall News Messenger Publisher George Smith. The festival was managed by volunteers with heavy citizen involvement. In 1985 I was living in California but returned to Marshall for Christmas – the first time in 20 years.

I was very impressed with WOL. The decoration of the Square was very nice; the decorations on the neighbors’ homes were outstanding. This was something that Marshall could be proud of.

Wonderland was born as a volunteer-driven organization and was managed using a 501c3 structure. When I arrived back in Marshall in 2001, Wonderland was managed by Marshall Festivals. Marshall Festivals was criticized by many people, including me. I now realize how wrong I was. I now know Marshall Festivals did an outstanding job considering what they had to work with and the changes in society since WOL inception in 1982.

WOL was operated as a standalone 501c3 for 28 years. In retrospect, this was the best way to manage the festival.

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