Nobody was a cooler entertainer than Dean Martin. For decades he was everyone's favorite breezy, tux-wearing, skirt-chasing, pseudo-drunk crooner. He was the guy with the "who cares?" attitude that Frank Sinatra always tried to be like but was too intense a person to pull off. You would have expected him to have been from a swingin' cosmopolitan place like New York or Chicago, but he was born and raised in the unlikely industrial rustbelt town of Steubenville in eastern-most Ohio, not too far from Pittsburgh on the Ohio river. Wikipedia says "During its heyday in the period of the 1940s-60s, Steubenville was popularly known as "Little Chicago," a nickname that, on the one hand, evoked the city's prolific industry and downtown bustle, while on the other hand suggesting Steubenville's reputation for crime, gambling, and corruption." The town today is a hardscrabble yet earnest place, trying to beautify and better itself despite some hard times (and what smells like the fumes from a chemical processing plant in the air). It has Fort Steuben, a strategic camp from the post-Revolutionary era. It also has 25 beautiful murals painted on the outside of downtown buildings. Really nice ones. But Dino is still the main attraction here. His mural is the nicest and it's next to the Kroger's Supermarket, where everybody can see it. And they've renamed a stretch of Rt. 7, the main drag, Dean Martin Boulevard. It doesn't pass by glamorous casinos and nightclubs, though...just smoky power plants and rusty steel bridges, but, hey, they did the best they could. And if you're in the area this Thursday through Sunday (June 18-21), they're having their yearly Dean Martin Festival, which should be a gasser, pallie, a real gasser. Everybody loves somebody sometime.
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