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Omni Parker House – Union Oyster House are Beantown Hits

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By Earl Heath - Rita Long

Boston, one of the oldest cities in America, was first incorporated as a town in 1630 and then as a city in 1822. It is rich in economic and social history. As a homesteading community which evolved into a center for social and political change, Boston has become the economic and cultural hub of New England.

Boston's Omni Parker House Hotel is the place to be. The Omni Parker House is located at 60 School St. on ‘Freedom Trail'. Open for the last 150 years, it is America's longest continuously operating hotel.

When the Parker House opened in 1855 Franklin Pierce was the 14th president of the United States. At the time there were only 31 states. Gold had been discovered in California.

154 - President Kennedy's favorite booth at the Union Oyster House
Harvey D. Parker, the founder of the Parker House, came to Boston from Maine. This magnificent facility was originally a restaurant. Some of the world's most famous recipes came from Parker's staff. Origins from the kitchen include; Boston Crème Pie, Boston scrod, New England clam chowder and also the world famous Parker House rolls. There were great chefs and employees working in the Parker House restaurant and kitchen. Some of the chefs include Lydia Shire and Emeril Lagasse.

The Parker House was also a work haven for two cultural icons. Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh served as a baker in the bakeshop. Malcolm Little, also known as Malcolm X, from the nation of Islam was a busboy there during the Pearl Harbor invasion. Today many Asian visitors come by to see the table that Ho Chi Minh used to work on.

157 - Freedom Room inside the Union Oyster House. America's oldest restaurant located on the Freedom Trail, Boston
Denyce Graves, one of today's best known mezzo-soprano opera stars, worked the night shift as a telephone operator at the Omni Parker House Hotel.

Some of the suites are named after some of America's most visible people including former Massachusetts's socialite Henry Cabot Lodge and Mother Goose. Charles Dickens was a long term guest at the Omni Parker House staying from 1867 to 1868. A mirror where he practiced his characters is still in place for visitors to see in the hotel.

John F. Kennedy gave his first public speech as a seven year old in what is now known as the Press Room. Today it is used for meetings and dining and still holds a marble fireplace. Kennedy also announced his candidacy for president there and proposed to his wife Jacquelyn at table 40 in the restaurant.

Image In the new millennium, Gerry is one of the bright spots and mainstays in the restaurant. He has worked at the Parker House for 31 years while raising a family that included two young sons. "The biggest change is that people come here more relaxed and not so stuffy," said Gerry. "There are a great deal of regulars who come for lunch and dinner and you can usually tell what they want." Gerry is a youth basketball, soccer and baseball coach but loves his work here. He can answer any question you have on the Parker House or neighboring venues.

When you visit the Parker House, not only will you see history you will become part of it.

Once you venture out to surrounding areas, there is a multitude of sights to see.

One of America's most famous parties was held in Boston Harbor in 1773. The host of the masquerade Boston ‘Tea Party' was Samuel Adams. Adams headed three companies of fifty men each on this December 16th night to board three ships and heave the tea into the harbor. This ‘party' was duplicated at several other seaports.

You can go and visit the harbor where the party took place and also visit several other venues.

Boston's Black Heritage Trail has become familiar with African-American history in the city. It's a part of the National Parks Service. You can take guided and narrated tours. A walk along the trail is certain to enrich your knowledge of Black history in Boston. One of the more significant stops is at the African Meeting House. Once at the heart of Boston' African-American community, the African Meeting House was a church, a school, and a vital meeting place.

Bob's Southern Bistro located at 604 Columbus Avenue  has been dishing out soul food at this location since 1968. You can sit with devoted patrons and enjoy Southern and Cajun specialties that include homemade meatloaf or the mustard fried catfish. They also have live Sunday jazz brunch with collard greens, black-eyed peas with smoked turkey and corn beef hash.

A must visit venue is The Union Oyster House which is the oldest continuously operating restaurant (about 250 years) in the United States. The owners consist of a brother /sister team Joseph Milano and MaryAnn Milano Picardi. She is also known as ‘Ma'. They've owned the restaurant since 1970 and are only the third owners in the history of the restaurant. Ma is sensitive and extremely caring hostess. She has her handprint on everything from greeting you to taking your order or busing your table. "These are our guest. Where else would I be?" said Milano Picardi. "I love people and it's great to see them enjoy a good meal."

Downstairs there is an old-fashioned Yankee atmosphere where you can sit at a semi-circular oyster bar. On a busy day there are over 3,000 oysters shucked. You will be surrounded by hand-hewn wooden ceiling beams, wide-planked wood floors and sit in a cozy booth. It is such a captive environment to enjoy your meal. The menu is full of great items such as Shrimp Bisque, Lobster Scampi and Lazy Man Lobster which will knock your socks off. You will find the best lobster in the world here, boiled, broiled or baked.

Throughout their ownership millions have been served. The walls of this fine eatery have had the likes of noted lawyer and Secretary of State Daniel Webster. Another regular visitor was President John F. Kennedy. His visits were so frequent that there is a plaque that marks the upstairs booth which was his favorite.

Some other favorite visitors include: Tiger Woods, President Bill Clinton and Muhammad Ali. After visiting the Union Oyster House you will never taste food this good anywhere.

When planning your trip to Boston, you should fly Southwest Airlines for the best service and the best price. SWA has some of the lowest prices in the industry. You can land in Providence (T.F. Green Airport) and enjoy a 35 minute scenic ride through New England to Boston. Manchester, NH is also a great choice in that you have a quaint easy access airport. Your thirty minute ride to Boston will be more than pleasurable...SWA is celebrating its 35th year and is one of the strongest airlines for service and on time arrivals. From Providence to LAX the flight was fifteen minutes early in Chicago and on the final leg we touched down in LAX twenty minutes early. Awesome service was provided by Jorja, a fifteen year veteran of SWA, and Cheree who makes the greatest coffee at 30,000 feet.

"We work for the greatest airline around," said Cheree, a Detroit native.

SWA is an overall favorite to 62 cities in America.

In order to better serve our readership, the Black Voice News will present a series of vacation spots around America. We hope you, your companion and/or family enjoy them.

Denver - ‘That’s The Ticket’

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By Earl Heath - Rita Long

As one of America's oldest western cities, Denver, CO can intrigue you, entertain you and just flat out be a gas. The city is great for business, family or even great for spending time with that special companion.

We begin with your home away from home. When you punch your ticket - the Red Lion Hotel Denver Downtown is the place to be. Adjacent to Invesco Field, home of the NFL's Denver Broncos, the hotel features a panoramic view of downtown Denver. This hotel has Four Star service at a One Star price. It is also the official hotel for the Denver Outlaws of Major League Lacrosse. Pat Bowlen owner of the Broncos also owns the Outlaws.

There is same day valet service or if you choose there is plenty of free parking. A courtesy shuttle is available to take you to downtown Denver and the local area.

From the minute you check in you are greeted warmly and given plenty of attention. Employees appear to love the environment. If you should run into any problems or have any special needs, just contact Front Office Manager Christy Ballance and she will ensure things are handled quick and efficiently.

Image The hotel offers a seasonal outdoor heated pool along with a fitness room for your workout needs. King size beds are available in all single rooms. There are free movie channels. The 170 room hotel is located within ten minutes of some of Denver's major attractions. For the business traveler there is 2,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space.

For the family there is the Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Zoo that has over 4,000 animals and 750 species, the Downtown Aquarium is a great underwater adventure and Water World Water Park.

For history lovers the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library and the Black American West Museum can help you explore the history of African Americans in Denver and the West. The Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre is well renowned. Denver also hosts the World's largest African America bookstore on Park Ave. West called The Hue-Man Experience Book Store.

Image For sports lovers there is Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, The Pepsi Center where the NBA's Denver Nuggets and Carmelo Anthony call home along with NHL's Colorado Avalanche.

Another nearby attraction is Coors Brewery in Golden, which is the world's largest single brewing site that was founded in 1873. The brewery offers a free 40 minute tour that takes you through the process of brewing and packaging beer.

Annually there are special events in the Denver area that you can time your visits around. They include Tesoro Annual Indian Market and Powwow, Buffalo Bill Days, Rocky Mountain State Fair, and my favorite the Great American Beer Fest.

After returning from a day of business, sightseeing or fun you can go to the top of the Red Lion to Visit the Skybox Sports Bar and Sports Grille. Here you can put your feet up and watch one of your favorite sports teams on one of their 14 big screen TVs. You can also enjoy some fine cuisine that includes an excellent Chicken Wrap, a scrumptious Blackened Catfish and for the meat lover a variety of steaks. A premier waitress at this venue is Dale. You can enjoy all of this while looking out the window with a spectacular view of downtown Denver and surrounding areas.

Image If you are looking for something different and special, make sure you visit Denver because that's the ‘ticket'. The Red Lion Hotel Denver Downtown should be your place to stay.

"Destination Denver." Let Southwest Airlines take you there. In their 35th year of service SWA is 'spreading the LUV' and has added Denver to their list of 62 cities that they serve nationwide. SWA has 32,000 employees who are ready to step up and make your flight one that will be enjoyable. They are one of the top airlines for flights being on time. Their open seating policy has been well liked by their customers. Southwest has built itself into the largest domestic carrier in the nation. 

One such employee who is ready to greet you as you board your flight is C.J. Bostic. Bostic is personable and friendly. "I love what I do," said Bostic. "I love meeting people from around the world and working with people from all walks of life. It has made me a better person inside and out." As a flight attendant, she has fulfilled the dream she had since she was five years old flying to Paris, France with her mother.

To increase your chances of being on time and receiving great service, Southwest Airlines is the one for you!

‘Park It’ In Park City, Utah

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By Earl Heath

From the four corners of this nation it is hard to envision a place with more beauty and serenity than Park City, Utah. Its narrow streets and pine tree background can put you in a world of your own before you even know it. Former Brigham Young University Head football coach LaVelle Edwards, called it ‘God's Country' and ‘there's no doubt about it'.

Park City is some 25 miles from Salt Lake City which is known for hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics. When you visit downtown Main Street there is plenty of shops for clothing, antiques and nostalgic items. From every corner of the city there are mountains and trees for as far as you can see. The good thing about Park City is that there are no traffic jams especially if you come from a big city such as LA, Chicago or San Francisco, you can appreciate a slow cruise down Main Street where you can ‘park it' in Park City. You can walk and shop or window shop, you can dine in casual atmospheres or you can just gaze at the green mountains that engulf this city.

Royal Street Cafe in Deer Valley Resort
A five minute car ride to Deer Valley will give you an extraordinary boost. Here's where you will enter a multitude of experiences that will relax you, entertain you and provide you with the great escape. Deer Valley Resort is celebrating its 25th anniversary. There is summer fun and winter fun.

Ski Magazine calls Deer Valley as the number one Ski Resort in North America. But for summer fun there is a multitude of activities to do which include hiking and biking. In July of 2006, Etta James hit the Amphitheatre and dazzled the crowd.  Horn player Kenny G also rocked the house as part of a summer series of concerts. Down on Main Street, LL Cool J packed Harry O's for a few hours of fun and left the crowd wanting more.

If you are on the go Susan and Erin (Deer Valley Communications) can direct you to a Deer Valley Gourmet Picnic Basket at reasonable price that will enhance your activity of choice. Baskets include house smoked salmon, double cream French Brie, roast quail, or chilled petit filet of beef.

If you prefer, you can sit and enjoy the spectacular beauty and food at the Royal Street Café which offers a scenic outdoor deck and fantastic menu that fills you up and keeps you healthy. In Park City everyone is healthy and slim and trim. The employees come from various points of America like Shad (Alabama) and Allison (Pennsylvania). There is definitely someone from your part of the country working there. The Café offers a variety of grilled items such as turkey, garden or Angus beef burgers. There is a great shrimp and lobster margarita layered with papaya salsa and fresh guacamole, creative salads, tuna tacos and turkey chili that is an absolute must taste.

A great historic and recreational activity is provided by Park City Balloon Adventures. Its owner Miles Ivers is a true advocate for those who want to enjoy this special activity. He trained in Napa Valley and worked under someone else. His personality took him to Park City One day his mom asked if he thought he could make any money. When he said yes, she asked what it would take and he said money. So his parents and in-laws pitched in $60,000 to get things started. He used 40 and set aside 20,000 for a buffer and has not had touched it. "I was careful on how I spent it," said Ivers. He started his own company after working with others who appeared to be only interested in the money side and not as concerned about safety. The balloons are inspected twice annually. "We make sure that the integrity of the system is still safe to fly," said Ivers.

ImageAfter some flights many comment on their experience on Park City Balloon Adventures.

"It was wonderful! Awesome!" said Barbara Steinhover of Northern, VA. "I want to do it again."

On a Math Leadership Conference Andre and Iris Vickers from Virginia Beach said, "The balloon ride was smooth and very comfortable. We could actually take pictures of the hillside. It was an unbelievable experience."

"It was amazing!" said Iris Vickers. "Just to see all the water that we saw was amazing. The landing was gorgeous. Everyone who comes to Utah needs to do the balloon ride."

Ivers makes sure that he has a sound crew that includes 20 year veteran Tom Rathke. "Everyday is different," said Rathke of why he enjoys being a balloon pilot. "If your flying an airplane and you take off at Heber Airport you have to land back at Heber Airport. With balloons we take off from somewhere and land wherever. No two flights are ever the same."

Rathke gives a great explanation of why the crew is sound. He can also give a great history lesson of balloon flight in its infant years. In the 1780s technology was at a minimum when it came to flight. Man had mastered the take off however; once the wood was depleted there was no way to control the landing. There were several crash landings and many farms, villages, and homes burnt as the embers from the fire blew out along the route. To somewhat pacify the villagers and farmers affected from the fires, the balloon crew had cases of champagne which they shared until no one seemed to care anymore. So at the conclusion of your balloon ride you will receive champagne (non-alcoholic is also available) as Miles and Park City Balloon Adventures continue with the tradition of celebration. For more of the history you can visit www.PCBalloonAdventures.com.

When planning a trip, you can ‘park it' in Park City by catching a short flight on Southwest Airlines into Salt Lake City. Southwest Airlines will get you there without a speeding ticket, no roadside stops for breaks, and you don't have to pack a cooler since they are one of the few who still offer a free snack and on flight beverage. The flight crew will do their best to insure you have a pleasant flight and you won't have to fight any traffic at 30,000 feet. So, why drive when you can fly?

SWA is celebrating its 35th year this year and 16 of the original employees are still on the payroll. One such employee, Colleen Barrett who started on day one, credits the longevity to ‘pride, love and a passion for the Southwest Culture and Family'. Barrett is President and Corporate Secretary. When asked about a favorite Customer Service experience - "Watching my Fellow Employees work their hearts, souls, and guts out during what seemed like insurmountable odds and still managing to have our Customers walk away with a smile because they knew we cared about them," said Barrett.

Asia Moving Into Africa

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If you still think that Africa is a continent full of jungles, wild animals just roaming the lands, natives half dressed in tribal wear, or any other un-resourceful substandard land comparable to modern civilization, you are lost in translation! Africa is with little argument the most resourcefully rich and energy-abundant continents on the planet. Now Asians, as Europeans have been doing for centuries, are establishing long term plans of investment in the rich and fertile African soil.

Indigenous Identity

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Just recently I traveled to Bali, Indonesia for vacation. Indonesia marks my 14th country of international travel. Located between the peninsula of South East Asia and Australia, the country straddles the equator as it is positioned between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The population of Indonesia is over 240,000,000 people and Bahasa Indonesia is the official language. Although about 88% of Indonesians practice Islam, the majority of the people o­n Bali Island are Hindu.

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