Vacation, All I Ever Wanted…

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted…

Julie Vacation, all I ever wanted….

Julie Vacation, meant to get away……….

This page is dedicated to all those family vacations past, present and future.  With dad driving and mom riding shot gun.  With the cooler tied to the roof of the car, and grandma in the backseat.  Those were the days.  This is my homage to family vacations.

“There’s nothing better than a full tank of gas and an empty bladder.”

Julie Lancaster-Whann



Vacations Start Right Here


When You are Traveling by Car

A good way to save on gas while driving it to align yourself behind a big truck.  Not too close though.  But just a nice distance.  The truck tends to pull you along in it’s wake in the same way that birds fly in formation.  The birds in the front work the hardest and pull the others along so that they aren’t having to work as hard.  Then they rotate and change places so that the birds in the front are now in the back.

Always look to nature.

  Nature tends to always know better than us how to do it.

A Travel Don’t

It’s really not a good idea to have so many things blocking my automobile gauges while I am driving.  Yes, sunglasses are important but do I really need that many pairs?

(O.k.  yes I do, let’s move on now).

Always Wear Sunscreen

I have known many a person to get skin cancer simply to doing this, driving without wearing sunscreen.  Notice my arm and my leg in the photo above?  I do have sunscreen tucked right beside me in that car door pocket.  So carry it with you.  It isn’t just a beach or pool thing, it’s an everyday thing.

Oh, and always wear comfortable clothing.

Let’s all have a very happy, enjoyable and SAFE trip!

August 2014

Postcards From Exotic Places


This vacation started when I left Florida for my birth state of Georgia, stayed a few days there.  Then I drove from Rome, Georgia up to Hagerstown, Maryland for a few days for a wedding.  My daughter Veronica flew into The Baltimore/Washington Airport where I picked her up and took her back to our hotel room.  She was the Maid-of-Honor in the wedding.

The two of us then drove back down to Rome, Georgia for a few days and then left to head home to Florida.


This is my account of our trip.

Nothing big and dramatic, just a nice trip up the East Coast.

I happen to love a nice loooong road trip.

Now that I have GPS I no longer get lost.  Seriously, it really does give you that confidence that you will find where you need to go without the usual ‘panic’ that I used to experience when I would travel.

But it does need one thing more….  George Clooney needs to lend his voice to this thing.  Then it would be perfect!

Just throw in the occasional ‘Nice turn Julie.  By the way you do look stunning today.  Travel clothes suit you.’, in that calm soothing voice of his.

Note to Gordon:

The Garmin doesn’t scold me when I miss a turn.  :p


A Story on Getting Lost and Finding Your Way Home

From Astronaut Jim Lovell

Photos of Jim Lovell

Lovell was backup commander of Apollo 11 and was scheduled to command Apollo 14, but he and his crew swapped missions with the crew of Apollo 13.  You probably know him from the Ron Howard movie, Apollo 13, starring Tom Hanks.  One of my favorite movies, by the way.  It just blows my mind watching so many smart people in one room working together to get them home.

Jim Lovell is also known for his famous quote:

“Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

When asked by a television reporter….

Television Reporter: Is there a specific instance in an airplane emergency when you can recall fear?

Jim Lovell:

Uh well, I’ll tell ya, I remember this one time – I’m in a Banshee at night in combat conditions, so there’s no running lights on the carrier. It was the Shrangri-La, and we were in the Sea of Japan and my radar had jammed, and my homing signal was gone… because somebody in Japan was actually using the same frequency. And so it was – it was leading me away from where I was supposed to be. And I’m lookin’ down at a big, black ocean, so I flip on my map light, and then suddenly: zap. Everything shorts out right there in my cockpit. All my instruments are gone. My lights are gone. And I can’t even tell now what my altitude is. I know I’m running out of fuel, so I’m thinking about ditching in the ocean. And I, I look down there, and then in the darkness there’s this uh, there’s this green trail. It’s like a long carpet that’s just laid out right beneath me. And it was the algae, right? It was that phosphorescent stuff that gets churned up in the wake of a big ship. And it was – it was – it was leading me home. You know? If my cockpit lights hadn’t shorted out, there’s no way I’d ever been able to see that. So uh, you, uh, never know… what… what events are to transpire to get you home.


This is a smart man. They don’t make them like this anymore.  Although my story is not as nearly exciting as his, I still wanted to share it with you because this is my story of getting lost.


Julie’s Story

When we were living up in Maryland I was always getting lost.  (This was all before GPS was everywhere.)  The whole Maryland/D.C./Virginia area to me was very confusing.  The most confusing for me was the Beltway.  (It is also known as the Capital Beltway, The D.C. Beltway, or just the Beltway.  But to me it was sheer HELL!!)  The Beltway is Interstate 495, it is shaped like a belt and it is the highway that you take to get in to, and out of the D.C. area.  In the 4 years we lived in Maryland I don’t think that I ever actually was able to exit where I needed to.  Either some car or truck would not let me over, or some big giant truck in front of me was obscuring the view so that I ended up missing my exit because I couldn’t see it, or I just simply got lost.  I hated that Beltway!  I still do.  One day I was returning to Maryland from Chesapeake, Virginia and I just knew that this will be the day.  This will be the day that I actually make my exit!  I am determined!  I am ready!  I will be triumphant!!!  I am going to do it!!!!  ………………………

DAMN!!!!  That car won’t let me over!  I’m honking my horn in anger!  I try to butt in front of him but I’m scared I might cause a wreck so I give up and keep on driving straight.  I then take the next exit.  I have no idea where I am going.  I’m angry at myself, I’m angry at all the traffic.  I’m cussing and hitting the steering wheel with my fist.  Yes, Julie is having a meltdown and it is not pretty!!


(Note:  Just so you understand the area.  There is NO place to pull over and read a road map.  No parking lots.  You have no choice but to just keep driving.)

Luckily when I get to the top of the ramp the light is red.  Pretty much the only time I ever welcome a red light.  So I wipe away the tears, tell myself to calm down and THINK, and I start to look around to try and decide where I need to go.  I can remember being in this part of town before.  I also remember that I had gone straight that time before and ended up in a very shady neighborhood at night in my Issuzu Amigo with the partial top.  In some neighborhoods in D.C. they will shoot you as you drive by.  So I knew not to go straight.  I knew that I had to go either left or right.  So as I am trying to figure out which way to go, and I am surveying the area looking for any sort of sign to guide me, I suddenly spot this truck driving by directly in front of me.  The sign on the truck said, Lancaster Foods.  Lancaster Foods?  I know where that is!  My maiden name is Lancaster.  I looked again and I saw a sign also on the truck that said, Brodie Freight Company.  My son’s name is Brodie.  It was even spelled the same way that his name is, with the” ie” and not the “y”.  It then dawned on me that I know where Lancaster Foods is located, Jessup, Maryland.  It is right down the street from the military base where we were living.  I then looked at my watch and it was 4:30 p.m.  I guessed that the truck was probably finished with all its delivery’s for the day and is on its way back to Jessup, Maryland.  If I just follow that truck, it will lead me home!

 It did!  I made it home.  I made it home because I surveyed all the information around me and I spotted my way out.  What happened to me reminded me of the Jim Lovell story that I write about above.  Just when you think you are lost and you’ve lost all hope, just look around you, there will be something there that will guide you home.  Just look for it.  But in order to see it you first have to wipe that fear out of your mind because it is impossible to think when we are afraid.  It is scientifically proven that when we are afraid our brains do not work.  So remember that next time.

So why am I posting this ‘getting lost’ story on my

Julie Vacation Page?

  Because pretty much every vacation that I have ever been on I always seem to get lost.   Except now that I have GPS.  Look out world!  Now that I can find my way there will be no stopping me.  Not even the Beltway!

You can have the airplanes, I’ll just take my car…….


My favorite Jim Lovell and Marilyn Lovell quotes:

Marilyn Lovell:  Naturally, it’s 13. Why 13?

Jim Lovell:  It comes after 12, hon.


August 15, 2014

Greetings From Rome


The Old Homestead

Going Home

Visiting The Old Georgia Homestead

Haven’t been back here in about 6 years.  Not much has even changed.  Still looks the same.

Blue missed me.

She has one clear blue eye and one brown eye.

My mother Mary Keith admiring all her pears.  You don’t get more organic than this.  Never overlook those ugly looking fruit at farmer’s markets and fruit stands, they may not be so attractive but they aren’t covered in those pesticides either.

Looks like I will be taking a lot of these back home with me.

The Big Red Barn

My step father built this all by himself.  He painted every piece of wood before he put it together, that way it would already be painted by the time it was finished.  Smart, huh?

Check out all the grape vine in the photo above?  Many a wreath has been made with that grape vine.

You know, I never really cared much for this old barn but it is kind of charming, isn’t it?

The Tractor

Where there is a barn, you will always find a tractor.  You know how many times I used to mow the pasture with this thing?  Funny but I have 3 brothers and yet I’m the only one that would ever get out there and mow.  I did it for the money and the suntan.

I love this tree.  It stands by the barn.  It’s an Empress tree, the holes are made by woodpeckers that live inside it.

The photo top left is of my nephew Joseph’s tree house.  The photo right is a cow skull that they found out in Texas from one of their visits.  My step-father was from Texas.

My mother and I had the best time walking around the property looking at everything.

Mary Keith Surveying Her Gardens

Cora escorting us around the property while Blue takes a dip in the pond below.  We always take the dogs with us when we walk around outside because of all the snakes.

This is hot Georgia in August!

My mother’s bottle tree that my step-father made for her.  Above you can see what we call ‘the headless, armless, dancing lady’.  It is actually a root that was found.

Funny but there are always so many bones around here!

They find a lot of them in Texas.

Bones and Golf Balls


The Clothesline

Another barn on the property and a lovely cedar tree.  I just love these spooky old trees.

It just wouldn’t be home without all of this stuff all over my mother’s land.  An old top to a produce truck.

The Old Camper and The Green House


Yet another bird feeder on my mother’s land.  She loves birds and always looks after them, spring, summer, winter and fall.  She keeps the feeders full so the birds never go hungry.

A hummingbird sucking nectar from my mother’s feeder.

Blue Sleeping

She is a big sweetheart.

Millie in the Florida Room



My brother Ben and I decided to go down to the barn and look in the loft for my Great-Grandmother Honnie’s sewing machine for me to take back to Florida.

The Barn Doors

My brother Ben went up the stairs to the loft first with a flashlight looking into corners and under things to see if there were any snakes about.  This is Georgia in the summer, ya know?

First we saw this right when we got up to the top.

First Snake Skin

Then we saw this…….

Second Snake Skin

Then we saw THIS……


But we FOUND IT!!!

Honnie’s antique sewing machine!

I don’t care how many snake skins were up there, I would have Ben walk through 100 to get this!

Funny thing, the boxes that had the snake skins on them are my daughter Veronica’s that I was supposed to go through for her before she gets here but on second thought, I’ll just let her do it.  🙂



p.s. I am taking the snake skin home to my son Brodie.

He’ll LOVE it!


August 19, 2014

Greetings From Rome, Georgia

Still Visiting The Old Homestead

The tray above I made for my mother many years ago using old vintage Rome, Georgia postcards.  I decoupaged them onto a serving tray.  My mother loves it and keeps it on her bookshelf for all to see.


Beautiful Broad Street

Downtown Rome, Georgia truly is beautiful!  I had to pull over to the side of the road and take a few photos.

2nd. Avenue

There is so much history here.  I just love the architectural buildings.

Ken Blacktop Gentle

We stopped off at this beautiful art studio on 204 Broad Street where the artist paints on tar board.  The art was beautiful and I wanted to promote it.

Just lovely!  Story telling in art.  The cotton south.

Drop by and take a look!

My step-grandfather, Papa Carlton, was a cotton farmer in Texas and while I was out there on a trip many years ago I picked some of his cotton to bring home with me.  But when we got to the Mississippi State line we were stopped and we were asked if we had any cotton.  I was only a child and I said, “Yes”.  He then confiscated it.  Looking back, I wish that I had said, “No”.

Sometimes I think, ‘Honesty is not the best policy.’


Antique Mall Shopping

(My Favorite thing to do).

My mother Mary Keith shopping with me at my favorite Rome, Georgia antique mall.

I adore an old antique mall to do my shopping in.  This is one of the best that I have ever seen.

Smart Shop Antique Mall & Flea Market

North Broad Street

Rome, Ga.

Every time I am in Rome I always visit this place and usually end up spending a small fortune.

I LOVE a good pile of junk!!

Some of my Antique Mall Treasures

I found some truly great pieces.

I’ve already packed them up for my return trip to Florida.

But right now it is on to D.C.!

Wish me luck!  I have yet to defeat The Beltway.  I hate The Beltway!  I am already loosing sleep over dealing with The Beltway.  Remember when Germany defeated  Brazil 7 – 0?  Well for me, The Beltway is Germany and I am Brazil!  Pity me!

I do hate that beltway,



August 20, 2014

Georgia to Maryland

Leaving Georgia for Maryland

We used to live in Maryland from 1999 to 2003, Gordon was stationed at Fort Meade and we lived on base.  I loved Maryland, it was beautiful and I loved all the diversity.  It was the hub of excitement.  The heartbeat of America.  I loved all the history and all the museums.  So when my daughter Veronica was asked to be the maid-of-honor in her friend Kaitlyn’s wedding we finally had an excuse to get back up to Maryland and see the old place again.

But first we had to get there…….

The car is FULL!


What am I taking up to D.C.?

Hello Dollies cookies in a shoebox for Dick, of course.

Inside joke that my regular blog readers will understand.

I do love the soundtrack from the movie though.  All the songs I used to listen to in the 70’s.


DICK is one of my favorite political spoof movies of all time.  It stars Kirsten Dundst, Michelle Williams, Will Ferrell, Dan Hedeya, Terri Garr, Dave Foley, Ana Gasteyer, Harry Shearer, and a cast of many more.  The movie is a spoof on exactly who the real “Deep Throat” was.  Of course we now know that the real Deep Throat was the former deputy director of the FBI under Richard Nixon, Mark Felt.  But it has been an over 30 year mystery that has intrigued us all.

If you have ever seen the movie Dick then you know about the Hello Dollie’s cookies that Betsy and Arlene take to the President.  Well, seeing as how I was going up to D.C. I too decided to take along a shoe box full of Hello Dollies.  🙂


(I decided to insert my past blog post about the movie Dick that I am referring to above.  It plays very significant here).

So, here’s………… DICK!

Me, getting into character to blog about Dick (the movie).


Original blog post written

June 20, 2014

42 Years Ago This Week…..

42 years ago this week I was living in Roanoke, Virginia with my mother, step-father and 3 little brothers.  The big news at the time was the break in at The Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C.

The date was June 17, 1972.

At around 2:30 a.m. five men, James W. McCord Jr., Bernard Barker, Eugenio Martinez, Frank Sturgis and Virgilio Gonzalez were arrested on the 6th. floor of the Watergate by police called to the scene by a security guard by the name of Frank Wills.

President Nixon’s attempt to prevent the investigation into the break in and the subsequent cover up leads to the end of his Presidency.

The scandal unraveled the Nixon Administrations multiple abuses of power which led to his impeachment and his resignation on August 9, 1974.  The scandal also resulted in the indictment, conviction and incarceration of dozens of Nixon’s top administration officials.

There have been many movies made on the Watergate scandal but my favorite one is………..

The movie was made in 1999 and stars Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Williams, Will Ferrel, Dan Hedaya, Teri Garr, Dave Foley, Harry Shearer, Ryan Reynolds, Ana Gasteyer, and an excellent cast of actors and characters.

Arlene and Betsy

(Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst)

  It is a parody and it is hilarious!  The movie starts out with Arlene and Betsy typing a letter to the ‘Win a date with Bobby Sherman’ contest.

(I believe that I also entered that same contest at the time).

In their attempt to sneak out of the apartment and mail the letter by the midnight deadline and without Arlene’s mother seeing them, Arlene lives in the Watergate, the girls encounter the break in.

G. Gordon Liddy

Of course hilarity ensues.  The girls end up going on a field trip to The White House with their class the next day and they end up meeting the President and becoming and ‘Secret Youth Advisers’ to the President and the ‘Official Dog Walker’ to Checkers the dog.

Field Trip to The White House

They also encounter one G. Gordon Liddy whom they saw the night before in the stairwell of the Watergate Hotel but do not recognize him when they see him at The White House.

“Are you the guy that sells corn dogs at the mall?”

                                                                         Betsy Jobs

Field Trip to The White House

Walking Checkers

Hello Dollies Recipe

embroidered by Kay Jobs

As a thank you gift for the President Betsy and Arlene decide to make him Hello Dollies cookies.  Of course he loves them seeing as how unbeknownst to Betsy and Arlene, there is a secret ingredient in the walnuts jar and it is not walnut tree leaves, but Betsy’s brothers secret stash.  Could that be why Nixon was so paranoid??

Everyone enjoying the cookies.

Peace ensues.

Arlene quickly falls out of love with Bobby and falls in love with Dick.

Arlene’s Scrapbook of Dick

Goodbye Bobby, Hello Dick


Arlene dreaming of her and Dick.

Me, dreaming of anyone but Dick.  🙂

(My tribute to Arlene).


The girls find the tape recorder in Rose Mary’s desk and decide to leave Dick a message.

Arlene proclaiming her love for Dick for 18 1/2 minutes on the tape, only to find out when replaying the tape that Dick is “not a nice man”.

The Tape Recorder

(My grandparents had one just like this).

Arlene Destroying her Dick memorabilia

Which leads Arlene and Betsy to make a prank phone call to The Washington Post to talk to the “radical muckraking bastards trying to discredit the President”.

Call To The Washington Post

Woodward and Bernstein

(Hey, great reporting in the 70’s!  Too bad you took the rest of the century off).

Woodward, portrayed by Will Ferrel, convinces his ‘source’ to meet him in the parking garage across from Garfinkles.

BTW:  It is being torn down now.  How sad!  Such a landmark.

Meet Deep Throat

I love this movie!  It is a time capsule of my youth living in Virginia in the 70’s.  I can remember watching the Watergate hearings on television in school.  Watching the news with my family every night and hearing all the details and revelations into the Watergate scandal.  Even eating green jello.  🙂

Eating green jello while watching the news.

My family and I went to D.C. a few times while we lived in Virginia.  Saw The White House, The Watergate Hotel, The Smithsonian, The Air and Space Museum, The Washington Monument, Embassy Row, The Mall, and of course, The Capital.

I can remember many a Saturday roller skating, I was actually pretty good too.  Listening to this music, wearing these kinds of clothes, peace symbols all over everything I owned.

I can also remember sleeping in these pink foam rollers many a night.  (I still have them too).  🙂

This movie is my childhood.  Whenever I watch it it’s like going back in time.  Sometimes I would love to be that silly giggling girl again.  I miss having a best friend to tell my deepest darkest secrets to.  I miss crushing on Bobby Sherman.  I miss roller skating.  I miss the Jackson 5, Labelle, Blue Swede, Grand Funk Railroad, Stories and Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain.

Betsy’s Bedroom Window

I had a window in my bedroom in Roanoke that is similar to this one.  I loved it.  I could look out over the entire neighborhood from my window.

Betsy and Arlene and Bernstein and Woodward at the library.

The President watching Love American Style

I LOVED that show too!

The Nixon’s leaving The White House in the helicopter.

Except Deep Throat has one last message for Tricky Dick.

Love, Deep Throat

Some of my own little 70’s meme memorabilia.  The red, white and blue crocheted bag my Great-Aunt Margie handmade for me.  Still have it.  My Dick DVD and CD soundtrack.  According to my daughter I am the only person left that still has CD’s.  Oh, well.  Also pictured is the American Girl Doll named Julie from the 1970’s.  My mother got it for me a few years ago.  How appropriate.  I never thought I would ever say this but I miss the 70’s!!  I miss being that silly giggling immature awkward girl.  🙂




Back to Julie Vacation blogging……..

Travel Foods

My car is packed full of delicious foods for my trip.

It was a 12 hour drive from Rome, Georgia to Hagerstown, Maryland.

I first stopped off at the outlet stores in Calhoun, Ga. at my favorite store, Vanity Fair.  Don’t hesitate to spontaneously stop along the way, does it really matter if you’re travel destination is delayed by an hour or so?  When you drive you don’t have to worry about catching that plane on time.

I actually had a nice trip up.  I did notice tons of trucks on the highways, the economy must be improving.


Rotisserie chicken salad with rice crackers and Asian snacks.


Salad for Dinner

No one ever thinks of having a salad on a road trip.  But why not?  It’s healthy and delicious.

I am very careful about what I eat.  I don’t eat at fast food restaurants, I prefer to bring my own food with me.  I am also very picky when I do go out to eat because I don’t know what is really in the food I am eating.  I have to watch my sugars and fats for my health so I just prefer to bring a lot of my own food with me.

Checked in to my hotel at 9:30 last night.  Long, fun, trip.  Slept like a baby last night.



August 21, 2014

Checking Into Our Hotel Suite

I got us a very nice room with a large king bed.  I drove up to Maryland from Georgia while Veronica flew into the BWI Airport, (Baltimore-Washington), I picked her up.  It was great getting all settled in.

My Side of the Bed

I always like to bring comfy cozy things from home with me whenever I travel.  As you can see I have my little hand crocheted Snow White blanket along with another comfortable blanket and pillows from home.

That is me taking a selfie in our hotel room.


Vintage Luggage for a Wedding

We’re in Maryland for Kaitlyn and Matthew’s Wedding


But I am headed out the door to pick up Veronica from the airport.

Veronica right off the plane.  I brought her large suitcase with me with her bridesmaid’s dress, shoes, etc…. and all her other clothes that she would need.  The only thing that she needed to bring with her was her carry-on with her basics.

Veronica Whann


Veronica’s Pink Luggage


Back at our Hotel Room

(yet another selfie)

Settling in, our messy room.

Why can’t young people look up from their cell phones once in awhile?

Oh my god, I sound just like my Grandmother!

Our Bathroom

Julie’s Vintage Travel Case

I adore my travel case, or ‘train case’ as they used to be referred to.  This houses all my “beauty” products for when I paint my face.  (As my grandmother used to say).

You know, I do love the color brown, however…………….

Regardless, it IS a hot tub, ya know.

Just got out of this.

Me, talking to Gordon back in Florida while I just had the most relaxing bath ever.

Just a preview of the greatest bath!  🙂

Uh, oh…….



August 22, 2014

Headed Out The Door

While Veronica has Maid-of-Honor duties to attend to before the wedding, I decided to venture out on my own in the D.C. area and visit the National Cryptologic Museum.

National Cryptologic Museum

9800 Savage Road, Suite 6272

Fort George G. Meade, MD.  20755-6272


This museum is a treasure trove of cryptologic history.  Codes, ciphers, secrets, and the people that helped break those codes, decipher those messages, expose the secrets, and help keep us all safe.  To those women and men I say Thank You!


What is Cryptology?

(Everything I am writing here was taken directly from the exhibits at the National Cryptologic Museum)

Throughout history, world events have changed because of secret messages.  Secrets that were kept and secrets that were not.  In the world of diplomacy, knowing what your enemy is planning helps you to prepare.  But it is also important that your enemies do not know what you have planned.  It is the mission of The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Security Service (CSS) to learn what it can about potential threats to our national security and to protect our nation’s government communications.

The part of cryptology that deals with studying secret messages and breaking the system is called cryptanalysis.  Information gathered from the foreign signals environment enables our government to make important decisions.  The code breaking half of cryptology is one of the main missions of the NSA.  To protect messages, cryptography uses codes and cyphers.  A code is a system of changing entire words or phrases into something else.

A cipher is a method or system of changing text to hide it’s real meaning where each letter is changed into something else.  By moving the inner disk here, (see photo above left), you can change the letter on the outer disc to a different letter on the inner disc.

For example; A = H.


America’s Hidden Treasure

Beginnings, Exhibits, Artifacts, the Library……

Everything you would ever want to know about cryptology and our history.


Women in American Cryptology

Creating the Legacy

This was probably my most favorite part of the museum, all the contributions that women have made over the past.  I have listed just a few of them but there are so many more stories to be told.

Broke the “Unbreakable Cipher”

Genevieve Grotjan

A native of Buffalo, New York, Genevieve Grotjan attended the local university in the hopes of becoming a math teacher, but after graduation she was unable to secure a teaching position.  In time she moved to Washington, D.C. where she worked for the Railroad Retirement Board and eventually the Signals Intelligence Service.  As part of the team working on Japanese diplomatic ciphers, Grotjan was heavily involved with the day-to-day cryptanalysis of PURPLE.  After 18 months of analysis, she discovered the critical patterns within the cipher that led to the eventual breaking of the system.

Team Chief, Frank Rowlett, was so elated by her discovery that he bought a round of Cokes for the entire team.

(Wow, a whole Coke)!  🙂


Dorothy T. Blum
1924- 1980
After earning a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College, Dorothy Toplitzky joined the Army’s cryptologic organization in 1944.  In the 1950’s, Ms. Blum’s professional interests expanded into the cryptanalytic applications of computer technology to NSA’s mission.  She was a member of the Agency organization tasked to “keep abreast of the latest advances in the field of computing.” 
Ms. Blum was one of the pioneer’s of writing computer software for NSA.  She worked with the computer language FORTRAN at least three years before it became publicly available in 1957.   She also led the effort to recruit agency employees to learn how to program cryptanalytic techniques. 
In 1972, Ms. Blum was appointed chief of the Computer Operations organization.  She was the only woman in that organization’s management chain at that time. 
From 1977 to her death in 1980, she was the chief of Plans and Project Development in the Telecommunications and Computer Services organization. 
Dorothy Blum significantly changed the way NSA did cryptanalysis.  She was a pioneer in the use of computers to manipulate and process data automatically.  As a manager, she showed empathy for her subordinates and worked to enhance the careers of everyone in her organization.  Those who recall Dottie Blum usually rate her interest in people even higher than her technical gifts.
Agnes Meyer Driscoll
Agnes Driscoll joined the U.S. Navy in 1918, with a degree in mathematics and physics, and a proficiency in English, French, German, Latin and Japanese.  She worked in their cryptologic office throughout World War 1. 
Staying with the Navy as a civilian, Mrs. Driscoll was instrumental in breaking Japanese Naval systems between the wars.  In 1930, she solved the Japanese system used during their Grand Maneuvers. 
The information learned indicated that the Japanese knew American operational plans.  Later she broke the Japanese “Blue Book” which required solving both the code and the overlaying cipher simultaneously. 
Mrs. Driscoll also assisted in the development of an early cipher machine and encouraged the use of tabulating machines for cryptanalysis.  She retired from NSA in 1959.
Lillian Berry
Ms. Berry began her career at Arlington Hall in 1956 as a clerk typist in the Signals Analysis unit.  She quickly learned the terminology and pressed analysts to explain to her the concepts.  After attending a signals analysis course and mastering a basic understanding of the subject, she was requested, in the early 1960’s to teach portions of the introductory material.  She, thus became the first African-American woman at the agency to give instruction in the discipline.  In 1968, she marked another first when she became the first African-American woman assigned as an agency recruiter.  Finally, Ms. Berry is remembered for having established the Career Information Center.  Ms. Berry retired in 1988.
The Uniform of the Code Talker
I LOVE the Indian Code Talkers.  This exhibit was very big when we were living in Maryland.  They were finally getting the acknowledgement and recognition that they had deserved for so long.  There was also a movie coming out at the time, starring Nicholas Cage and Adam Beach, called Windtalkers.
  Windtalkers was the story about the Navajo Indian Code Talkers of WWII. 
The one thing that the remaining code talkers were very upset about was the language used by the actors portraying them in the movie.  They said F-this and F-that.  The code talkers were very offended by that.  They never spoke those words. 
The Little Green Book
The Code Book of the Windtalkers
The Great Seal
(This is one of my favorite stories.)
In 1945, Soviet school children presented a wood carving of the Great Seal of the United States to the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Averell Harriman.  (This replica is molded from that carving.)  The ambassador hung the seal in his office at his residency, Spaso House. 
During George F. Kennan’s ambassadorship in 1952, a security check discovered the seal contained a microphone and resonant cavity.  Using a specific frequency, the soviets activated the microphone, which transmitted a signal, modulated by the voices in the room, back to a nearby receiver. 
Inside The Seal
(Can’t trust kids, can we?)

Enigma Machine
The Enigma Machine was invented by the German engineer Arthur Scherbius near the end of the first World War.  It’s purpose was enciphering and deciphering secret messages, or codes.  The Germans thought it to be impenetrable for many years as it did serve them well. 
There were different models of the Enigma.
The Enigma Machines are probably the most well known cipher machines in the world.  First broken by three Polish cryptanalysts, Marian Rejewski, Herzy Rozycki, and Henryk Zygalski in 1932. 
The time line of the Enigma.
For me to write about the history of the Enigma, in order for me to get it right I would be copying several books on the subject from cover to cover so I will leave it up to you to do the research yourself.  It is very interesting reading.  Not to mention a big part of Nazi Germany.
Hobo Signs and Symbols
Yes, believe it or not but hobos had their own signs and symbols, their own codes.  Above are just a few.  I found this all very interesting. 
Hobo Communication in the Depression
A Bit of Hobo History
I am compiling the information that I received at the NCM.
First of all the hobos referred to themselves as “hobos”.  A hobo is a person who travels and works.  The more modern hobos trace their roots to the building of the railway.  Men traveled the country looking for work.  Frequently hopping illegally onto train cars to get from one place to another to find work.  Depending on the town, hobos were either welcomed or reviled.  If the town needed workers then they were welcomed.  Because hobos needed to know which farms were friendly, they devised codes to tell other hobos where to go and what to do.  Where they could find food.  Which houses had mean dogs and mean owners, which people were nice, and even where they could get medical attention for free.
I found all of this so interesting.  I even bought a mug with all the hobo symbols on it from the museum gift shop. 
In this exhibit of a typical town in the depression era, hobos would leave signs for each other.  They would also look for signs that other people would leave for them to see.
This exhibit is very kid friendly and interactive.  Just press a button to find the symbol hidden somewhere in the town above. 
Vietnam War/America War

One of the exhibits at the museum is the Veitnam War section.

North Vietnam Signet


I thought this was a beautiful painting of the fields of Vietnam.

Did you know that Vietnam also has a war museum and they call it,

The American War Museum?


Replica of the Rosetta Stone

It was in 1799 in the city of Rosette that an Egyptian laborer working for Napoleon’s conquering French army discovered the slab of black basalt that would be later named the Rosetta Stone.  The stone was clearly divided into three sections.  The bottom third of the stone was written in Greek, the top third in hieroglyphics, and the middle section in Demotic,a form of Egyptian “shorthand.”
When the French surrendered Egypt to the English in 1801, the stone was given to Britain.  Today it resides in the British Museum in London. 
(As taken from the Rare Book in the National Cryptologic Museum.)
The rest of the Maryland trip still under construction!
Veronica and I left Maryland on the 24th. to head back down to Georgia.  It was a nice trip, us two girls together.
Georgia Trip Continued——————————-

August 25, 2014

Veronica’s Turn

Veronica at the Well House

Veronica’s photos of visiting the old homestead and reliving all those old childhood memories that she has of this beautiful place.

Veronica with the Bottle Tree

This time it is Veronica’s turn to plow through her old boxes looking for her childhood treasures that I packed away for her and took to this barn loft for safe keeping.

Looks like Veronica found her Ninja Turtles.


Catfish, Creamed Corn, Fried Squash and a big fat Dinner Roll

From Stanley’s

(Oh, and don’t forget the tarter sauce).

I haven’t had these fatty foods in 6 years, that was the last time I was in Rome, Georgia.  So, when in Rome……….


When we were leaving the restaurant my mother pointed to the store across the street and told me that it once belonged to my Great-Grandparents, Emmaline and Lucius Keith.  It was a general store.  From the vantage point of where I was standing to take the photo of the store, my mother told me that Grandhopaw would wheel his cart over to sell sandwiches that Grandmother Keith would make for the workers.  The railroad tracks are right behind where I am standing to take the photograph.

This was their store on North Broad Street.

Above that red sign it used to say “Keith”.

I never would have known it had my mother not told me about  it.  It would have been just some old run down building.  But now it is special.  🙂

Everyone needs to go home now and then.  It’s good for you.


That’s the thing about going home.  All the many memories that come to the surface.  When you leave and live elsewhere you don’t see those reminders everyday, it’s only when you go home that they are all around you and you see them clearly.  It is good to be home.

Nice place to visit but…….  🙂




August 26, 2014

Our Day at Berry

(My mother graduated from Berry College and I attending nursery school on the campus when I was small.)

The Ford Buildings

Berry College is a private, four-year liberal arts college located in Mount Berry, Floyd County, Georgia, just north of Rome.

Tree Lined Streets

Berry was founded in 1902 by Martha Berry. With 27,000 acres, Berry College claims to have the largest contiguous campus in the worldCollege leaders from across the country chose Berry College as the nation’s number one “Up-And-Coming” liberal arts college, according to the 2014 US News Best Colleges rankings released September 10, 2013.

Berry was founded a few miles from Rome in 1902 by Martha McChesney Berry in the Possum Trot Church as a boarding school for rural boys, known as Boys’ Industrial School. The daughter of a prosperous local business owner, Berry had come to believe that education could provide a path from poverty for local children. Seven years later, she added a girls school to the complex. A junior college was established in 1926, and a four-year college was developed, opening in 1930. Graduate programs outside the liberal arts were added in 1972. Funds for campus facilities and other programs have been provided by such notable contributors as Henry Ford and Truett Cathy.

Write up above I copied from the:

Berry College Wikipedia Page

Note:  Henry Ford was the inventor of the automobile and Truett Cathy is the founder of Chick-Fil-A.

These are the famous buildings that Henry Ford had built for Martha Berry.  They were good friends.  These are some of the most beautiful architecture in America.

I believe I taught a cosmetic class in this building in 1984 to a dormitory of women that lived on campus.  I was working at Belk’s at the time in the cosmetic department.

This is the most beautiful campus in America.  It is the largest college in America, acreage wise.  It just has that old world Gothic look to it.

I just love all the little Gothic touches here and there, especially with the lighting.


Just So Stunning


Who wouldn’t love to go to school here?  I would just wander around the campus with my camera never getting any homework done.


The Beauty of Berry College

Berry College has more than 80 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, and two disc golf courses; all are open to the Berry community and to the public.

(As taken from the Berry College Wikipedia page.)

My mother, Mary Keith, and my daughter Veronica, sitting be a lovely lake on Berry.

Beautiful Tree, Beautiful Creek, Beautiful HUGE Mushroom

Ahhhh, I do love Georgia.  (Sometimes.)

Veronica and Me

Cypress Knees

All of these are spawning off the tree.  They are called cypress knees.

Look what lies within the pond…..

Snapping Turtles!!

In the Quaint Gazebo


Frost Chapel at Berry College

Where Gordon and I were married in 1985.

Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Whann, June 22, 1985

Inside the Chapel

Mary Keith, Julie and Veronica

August 2014, Frost Chapel, Berry College

A lovely Romeo and Juliette Balcony

Veronica and her Grandmother

Outside Frost Chapel

The end of our Georgia trip, thank you for joining us.



I wanted to debut this page by featuring our family vacation to Fontana Village Resort, North Carolina in 1980.


Family Vacation meets The Hunger Games


The Lancaster Family

John, Mary, Julie (taking the picture) Johnny, Frank and Ben.

(Goodness, check out the cooler on top of the car!)

When I was growing up my family typically went on vacation every summer. Either in our station wagon or our green Volks Wagon van or even a Winnebago. Our motto was ‘See America First.’ And we did, again and again and again. Whether we were driving cross country from North Carolina to Tennessee, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and back again. Or a trip up from Georgia to North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Delaware and back again. OR even just a simple trip to Gatlingburg, Tennessee or Cherokee, North Carolina or anywhere in the state of Georgia, we did it. Tallulah Falls, Dahlonega, Savannah, etc……. Anything “Native American” was always a hit with my parents. We all LOVE the Indians!

Our summer vacations were not just entertaining, they were educational. Usually involving many historical sites, museums, and outdoor environments, which always meant the dreaded ‘book report.’ Yes, that’s right. We had to write a book report about our vacations. Not always, but sometimes. One year on a trip to Washington, D.C. the Air and Space Museum was visited, my brother Frank entitled his report, “Aaron’s Space Museum.” That went over really well with the parents. I don’t think he got a very good grade on that one. Although we laughed our heads off over the title.

Camping was also a BIG part of our lives. Whether it be in the pop-up Cox camper we would pull behind our automobile or the Winnebago, we always seemed to go camping. Camp fires, hiking trails, waterfalls, identifying plants and trees and animals and birds and flowers….. ALWAYS!!! I have to honestly admit that I hated it. I spent much of my time sitting in the camper reading my Nancy Drew books. I much preferred the wonderful vacations that I took with my Grandparents to Florida where we stayed in beach front cabana’s with the sand and waves right outside your door. Or the lovely cross country drives that we took where we stayed in nice hotels in San Francisco…….. Those were the days!

Fontana Village Resort, North Carolina

Just one of our many vacation destinations.

The Lancaster Family outside our Cabin.

And yes, that is me.

But on those very long vacation drives with my parents, my brothers and I would do anything and everything to entertain ourselves. At the time I LOVED to do impressions. (Actually, I still do). I did them all the time.

I loved to mimic Presidents of the United States. I know, how interesting, right? My favorites were Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. I could do a mean Richard Nixon. Problem was I would mimic him over, and over, and over, and over…….

It was get on my step-father’s nerves while he was driving and I would usually hear something like, “If I hear one more President of the United States coming out of the back seat of this car then I will set them all out on the side of the road!”

Translated that means, “SHUT UP JULIE”!!!!

I swear, had my parents been more supportive then perhaps I would have had a career as a stand-up comedian. So I blame them for my not being rich and famous. It is after all, OBVIOUSLY their fault.

But regardless, I did learn quite a bit from growing up in my educational family. So for that I am thankful. But it wasn’t always fun for me. The not so fun part came via my mother. She was, and is, a petite little woman that doesn’t eat much. I can remember being in the car and driving to all these great locations yet not stopping for lunch until about 2:00 or 2:30, or 3:00 p.m. because my mother wasn’t hungry. Everyone had to revolve their eating schedule around her. If she wasn’t hungry then we did not stop to eat lunch. If we did stop for gas and we used our own money to buy a pack of crackers from a vending machine then we would have to cram them into our mouths in the gas station bathrooms so that she wouldn’t see us, or we would get into trouble if she caught us. We could only eat when she was ready to eat, hence, THE HUNGER GAMES…………

Archery at Fontana


I hit the target!  That is me with my brother Frank.

I can remember my step-father stopping for gas and me sneaking out of the car to buy a pack of peanut butter crackers from the vending machine because I was so hungry only to be chastised and punished because I got food without my parent’s permission. Bizarre, isn’t it? Where was 911 when I was growing up? I just hope my mother doesn’t read THIS blog. She will kill me!

Finding a stray M&M on the floorboard of the car was what my brothers and I would fight over. “I saw it first!” I would yell. “No, It’s MINE.” My brother Johnny would yell, as we would dive for it. Our version of The Hunger Games I suppose. We were the tributes. My mother was the ‘Game Keeper’. My step-father just did as he was told.

Me, sitting in the collapsible backseat of the station wagon probably dreaming of food.  🙂

I can also remember riding in the back of that pea green station wagon in the seat facing the back with my brother Johnny and seeing a sign that said, “Eat just ahead” and me saying, “Eat just ahead? I don’t know, I’m so hungry I could eat the whole body”!  

I could always make my brothers laugh. 

Golf and Fishing at Fontana Village Resort


Last week I was going through some of my old photo albums and I found these photos of when we went to Fontana Village Resort in Fontana Dam, North Carolina. It was one of those all-inclusive mountain resorts, kind of like the place where ‘Dirty Dancing’ was filmed except without the gorgeous Patrick Swayze and without all the fun. There was archery, fishing, golfing, arts and crafts in the main clubhouse. We stayed in one of the many cabins. It was beautiful. Most of North Carolina is beautiful. I’ve included some photos of our time there. I can remember it quite well. We hadn’t owned the station wagon in the photo that long. I hated that pea green station wagon! As you can see we had the cooler and some of the luggage loaded on top of it. We always seemed to look like some version of “The Beverly Hillbillies” everywhere we went.

One year when we went on vacation and we were pulling the Cox Camper behind us, one of the wheels came off of the camper, we heard something SLAM on the roof of the car and then seeing a tire passing us as we were driving down the road! My step-father immediately turned the car in the direction of the tire as we chased it down and then put it back on the camper.

It also never failed that every single vacation that we ever took we always came upon an accident on the road, and my step-father, being a doctor, would render aid saving many a life along the way. This was before cell phones and 911. If you had an accident on the road you really were at the mercy of whoever happened by you.

I do look back on those times as charming. Those family vacations. When I look at photos of my little brothers they were quite cute, not the embarrassment that I once thought they were. O.K. yes, they were an embarrassment. But they were MY little brothers.

Johnny, Frank and Ben, my little brothers.  Obviously before seat belt laws.  They were kinda cute, weren’t they? Just don’t tell them I said that. 🙂

Sometimes I long for those old family vacations with all of us together, crammed into whatever automobile we were riding in and I wish we could do it all over again. They weren’t so bad. The only thing I would change is that the ‘powers that be’ give my mother an appetite!!

Happy Hunger Games!