Tag Archives: Bethesda OH


“There is no value in life except what you choose to place upon it and no happiness in any place except what you bring to it yourself.”  –Henry David Thoreau

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…”  Once more we have braved the 18-wheelers that ruthlessly plow through rain troughs, spraying everywhere.  Once more we pack and unpack: MOTEL; pack and unpack: MOTEL; pack and unpack: ARRIVAL.  “WE’RE BACK!”

Ohio Cottage #16


Yes, we have arrived.  It’s been two years.  A friend said the spiders probably have saddles; the webs are taut, but not too many.  Dust and some dirt.  But not too bad.

We’re back in town: Bethesda, Ohio: Same post office; pizza-parlor-restaurant remains.  However, some town expansion: new fuel pumps, re-conditioned gas station; new clock and clock tower, and newly established military memorial.  Some streets recently paved. 

More ducks and geese at the lake, noisily sounding out for food from cottage guests.  Some dead trees felled by recent storms lay scattered in the park area, awaiting disposal.

Inside, for me, after a week of sorting clothes, and catching up on minor repairs, I’m ready for…nothing.  TO VACATE.  IT’S VACATION!  Is it not?  I brought six magazines and three books.  Why?  And the books unread from previous years (including Doctor Zhivago and Madame Bovary)?  I’ve already made a trip to the library with book donations.  (I love that place. But with little self-control, I checked out four DVDs and picture-filled books: all about chocolate, and new watches of 2017.)

barnesville public library

Barnesville Public Library

So friends ask, “What do you do when you go to Ohio?  What do you do all day?  Do you ever get bored?”  Never bored.  And the days go so quickly…

Up: 8:00-9:00   Morning Reading and Meditation: 9:00-9:30

Breakfast: fruit, cereal, cappuccino, toast, oatmeal, vitamins, coffee, medications, etc.  9:30-10:30.

Contemplation of Day’s Activities while watching ducks, geese, humming birds: 10:30-11:45. 

Planning for Lunch: 11:45-noon (Get mail at post office in town.  Postal employees have lunch from twelve to one.  Mail goes out at 4-ish.)

Afternoon activities: Painting, dusting, cleaning, sitting watching lake and humming birds: noon-2:00 pm.

Lunch: 2:00 pm-3:00 pm: soup, sandwiches, salad, fruit, piece of Dove chocolate, etc.

Continuation of Activities: 3:00-5:00 pm (or laundry, litter box, play with cat, quiet reading, gardening–while in afternoon shade)

Nap Time: 5:00-6:00 pm. Quiet time.

Preparation for Dinner, and Dinner: 6:00-8:00 pm: Cooking, salads, varied recipes, or even an occasional pizza from the local pizza place.  Then cleanup.

Evening: 8:00-ish: Movie/DVD, reading, writing, catching up on “stuff” like mail and bills, quiet time, game time, perhaps time on the swing (depending on the mosquito population).

Ready for bed: 10:00-11:30 pm: Reading, showers, litter box, snack, continuation of DVD, night medications.  Check food and water for cat.

Good night.  “Always Kiss Me Goodnight” reads the sign in the bedroom.


ALTERNATIVES: 11:00-6:00 pm: Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Kroger’s, Ollies, Jo-Ann Fabrics…  Dinner out.  Shopping, shopping, shopping.  From cottage to car to St. Clairsville (12.7 miles) to Ohio Valley Mall, et al., to cottage, to unloading groceries.  Or getting a haircut.  Or visiting Goodwill because the temperature dropped to 58 degrees and we were not prepared.  Or Steak ‘n Shake…


Painting or gardening as major full-day summer projects…


An evening with friends: “The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend.” –Henry David Thoreau

* * *

“So, what do you do in Ohio?”  “Oh, we just relax.”


©  James F. O’Neil  2017 






By: James F. O’Neil

“What I Did Last Summer”

BETHESDA, OH:  Chautauqua Days** are over for this year.  The hot dogs are eaten; vendors have packed up their woodcarvings, and the quilts that went unsold.  Homemade candles sold out; the trophies for the fishing contest now sit on a shelf in some lucky child’s bedroom or in the living room.

 Photo credit: E.K. SchneiderPhoto credit: E.K. Schneider

The Cottage Tour in Epworth Park in Bethesda brought visitors from the area and from a distance, excited to view owners’ renovations and decor, especially those cottages being put into their original turn-of-the-century style.  The park, since 1878, has been the site for vacationers and summer visitors–in addition to the festivities associated with the Chautauqua Movement.

And for nine summers I have been a partaker of cool Ohio weather, over-bearing heat, summer thunder storms, lake stillness, fireflies (who seem to appear on time on clear evenings at 8:20), hummingbirds, poison ivy, ducks and Canada geese, non-air conditioned sleeping, candlelight suppers, mosquitos, on-the-porch Happy Hours, Saturday weddings in the open-air steel-roofed Auditorium (read “Chapel” that seats over three hundred), community pot-luck suppers (the community of 100 original cottages now numbers 66) for those owners and guests who remain after mid-July–and, the Bluegrass concerts, with much pickin’ and grinning’ taking place on stage.

What summers I have experienced here–as an adult.

If one were to ask me, “Think of your favorite place,” I return to Epworth Park and onto my cottage swing.

porch swing My Favorite Place provides me calm and recollected-ness.  And the swing allows me the opportunity to remember good summer times, those real mid-summers of July (long after the “cruelest month” of April).  I become the child in me.  The swing does that.  The Park does that.  Chautauqua Days do that: bring so many memories that remain over time.  (But, of course, there were those bad summer days, too: sunburns, injuries, working days while in high school, automobile problems, unrequited loves).

Rainbow Beach in Chicago: endless sand, hot dogs, and forever swimming.  Pullman Park Pool: everlasting swimming (indoors).

Sister Lakes, Michigan: family, and friendships–and swimming (where I did first learn to             swim, being able to make it to the oil-barrel raft away from our cottage shore).

Boy Scout Camp: swimming and crafts and…outdoor “plumbing” (ugh!).

Summers with my sister’s boyfriends–and their hot cars (especially that ’57 Merc            convertible).

O’Neil Picnics, 3rd Sunday in July (of course), rain or shine, with hot dogs and KFC and kids and aunts and uncles, train rides, and swimming (and crossing the train trestle over the Fox River in Pottawatomie Park: “Double-dare ya’!”  Stand by Me in reality?).

Garfield Boulevard and Halstead with its parkway, cool evenings, motorcycle Park Police, everlasting softball games).

Then, suddenly, it seems, I was no longer a child–“and now I have put away the childish things” (Paul. 1 Cor. 13.11).

No, Saint Paul, I cannot do it: The child in me is alive, comes alive, while I sit on my swing, while I walk through the Park.  And though I no longer put fireflies into Mason jars with bits of grass and leaves (how childish?), I watch the glow-bugs alive, throughout the trees, with a few “high-fliers” sometimes three stories above my cottage porch.

Chautauqua Summer will soon end.  The Park will soon become quiet as closing time approaches November 1st.  I will leave soon.  However, I will have another Chautauqua Summer captured, placed within my memory jar filled with Everlasting Summers.

 Photos Public

Photos Public

**Chautauqua [shu-TAW-kwuh]: a movement which flourished in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including assemblies (sometimes religious), educational lectures, concerts, entertainments, and, unfortunately, no hot dogs!  [See The Chautauqua Institution of Western New York; Chautauqua Lake, in New York.]

BTW:  Rick Atkinson writes in his An Army at Dawn that “[Gen. Mark] Clark, as a young captain between the world wars had been detailed to a Chautauqua tour, spreading the gospel of Army life . . . .”

 Epworth Park Lake

Epworth Park Lake

© James F. O’Neil 2013

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