Extraordinary Stories

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Monday, July 24, 2017

The "Faces Of Strangers: #47" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Sitting in the shade on a green canvas beach chair talking to Jaroslav about his life as a beach attendant on the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey.  A few minutes before he had placed an umbrella on the beach for my wife and I to sit under for our final vacation day to Ocean City.  Jaro, as his thermos says, is from Slovakia which is part of the European Union and is bordered by Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Ukraine.  Jaro is tall and thin with radiant blue eyes and whose English is near perfect.  This is the second year that Jaroslav has worked the beaches of Ocean City.  The 21-year-old young man recently finished his second year at the University where he is studying Air Management.  He has three more years of study before he gets his degree.  
Map showing location of Slovakia.  Click to enalrge.
Slovakia provides free education through University studies.  He is sharing a floor of a rental unit with three other students while in Ocean City.  His family includes his parents and three older sisters, two of whom have also spent summers working in the vacation mecca of Ocean City.  He speaks German, Russian, English and studied French, but hasn't used it much in the past few years.  His job working on the beaches requires he have medical insurance as well as a place to stay.  He arrived about a month ago and will work until September when he will visit New York for a week before heading home for his sister's wedding and then back to the University for another year of study.  As he was telling me of his plans after the summer ends, he said he must be home in time to see his sister take a husband.  I assumed from this that she was getting married.  He enjoys U.S. food, but finds it is very expensive to eat healthy food.  In his country fast food is more expensive than healthy food and yes, they do have McDonald's in Slovakia.  He does miss his mother's haluska which he tells me his mother makes by grating potatoes, coating them with egg and placing them in boiling water.  During my conversation with Jaro, customers stopped at his stand to request umbrellas and chairs.  He told me to stay and he would return soon, but I soon realized I was becoming a burden to him and wished him a successful summer and success in his studies.  Great fellow who represents his native Slovakia very well.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The "Are We Shortening Our Lives?" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Trying to figure out how to navigate around the information on my iPhone screen.  Just when I felt comfortable with my first smart phone, I handed it to a friend when I was driving and asked him to make a phone call for me.  He said, "You don't have the latest version on your phone.  You want me to update it for you?"  Should have never said "Yes" to him!  
Eventually, I can find most everything I need and if I can't, I hand it to one of my grandkids and they can find it for me.  Technology is wonderful and I'm all for it, but there are some negatives that do factor into the equation from time to time.  Such as when family visits and sits in the family room with Carol and me and look at their phones the entire time they are there.  Oh how I miss when rotary phones were the new technology.  I'd even welcome back the push-button phones.  Never going to happen I know.  I guess I shouldn't be wishing for times-gone-by or I would never have had the chance to write this blog on a daily basis.  But, the smartphone doesn't come without its problems.  Recently read that smartphones are causing problems in many marriages.  Seems many couples are married to their cellphones as well as to each other.  Sit in the family room watching TV together and have to text a message to each other rather than talk to them.  We live in a culture of texts, tweets, apps .... where the dings, beeps, buzzes .... dominate our lives.  On a recent visit with family in Maryland, we took our teenaged granddaughter out to eat and she actually placed her phone in the center of the table and didn't touch it once during our meal.  Of course, that was the deal if she wanted us to take her to eat.  Best conversation we had with her in quite a while.   Two years ago a survey was taken, asking if screen time was a problem in their marriage.  At that time only 20% reported that it did.  Wonder what the % may be two years later.  Another study found that more and more kid's posture is starting to suffer from always looking down at their cellphone.  
The ailment has been labeled "text neck" and can only be explained by the strain on the body caused by constant viewing of hand-held electronic devices.  Spine specialists are also seeing strain on youth's spines from cellphone, laptop and tablet use.  An entire physical program has been developed to help those who have ailments related to phone use.  Youth and adults are so engrossed with their phones today that they are carrying more weight on their frames and getting less physical activity.  Will this eventually lead to shorter life spans?  Betcha it will!!  As for me, I'm sitting in my recliner typing this story on my MacBook Air while my wife is sitting next to me in her recliner looking at Facebook on her iPad.  Are we any different than everyone else?  Maybe not, but when the charge goes on my laptop and on her iPad, they are finished for the day.  Might be a good idea for everyone!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The "Oldies But Goodies Advertisements" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Walking through yet another antique shop in another little town along the Chesapeake Bay area in Maryland looking for nothing in particular, since I already have too many antiques in my home, myself included. Came upon an entire stand that featured 20th century advertisements for items such as food, drink and even smokes.  As I looked through the stand I found some that were visibly older than others and some that seemed as if I had just seen them a few years ago.  And, I guess that's possible since 20th century advertisements could have been anything from January 1, 1901 until December 31 of 2000.  Took photographs of some of the most interesting advertisements to share with you.  Now, the older you are, the more you may enjoy the ads, since some advertisements I took photos of may be older than some of you.  How would you feel if you were viewing an advertisement printed on paper or cardboard that was older than you?  I doubt if I came upon too many older than me, but it might have been possible.  Can't include all the photos I took, since you may become bored, but have posted some of my favorites in a few different areas of interest.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The "So Sad To See History Disappear" Story

Website logo
It was an ordinary day.  Searching the web for nothing in particular when I opened one of my favorite sites and came across this unbelievable photo submitted by Victor of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  The site I was visiting is known as Remember When In Lancaster and can be reached at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/182712575129551/.  The photo I came across had been posted to the site on February 19th at 6:20pm by Victor.  
Leinbach & Co. in downtown Lancaster, PA.
The photo showed what appeared to be a building which needless to say had to be somewhere in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Image was of a four-story department store that was named Leinbach & Co. and the post said:  What a treasure.  Would have loved to see this.  Leinbachs at Christmas 1927.  Live plants grew from balconies, skylight, and live canaries chirping from their cages.  What a sight!  Building still stands on N. Queen St.  Well, everyone in Lancaster seemed to have an opinion as to where this building was located.  A few people knew where it really was located and told of its location in downtown Lancaster.  
Someone posted the outside view.
That didn't seem to stop others from still trying to guess an alternate locations, even though some gave definite reasons as to where it was.  I was born 17 years after the photo was taken and had never seen this building, even though my mother would take me shopping with her many times during my youth.  When I was old enough to visit downtown Lancaster on my own, I never once walked into any store in downtown Lancaster that looked like the building in the photograph.  So, by using what I thought to be reasonably accurate remarks, I headed downtown to find it and see what I may have missed.  Sure enough, the building was exactly where a few people had said.  To the rear of the building is Godfrey Advertising Company which is reached in the alley known as Marion Street behind the storefront displayed in the photograph.  
The rear of the property is now Godfrey Advertising Co.
Godfrey totally renovated the rear of the store and brought what apparently was a deteriora- ting building, back to life once again.  Took a photo of Godfrey from Marion Street and walked down nearby Grant Street to North Queen Street.  Took a right on Queen and there was the storefront now known as Rainbow standing at 37 North Queen Street.  
The front of 37 North Queen St.
I was shocked!  Why was the old storefront destroyed?  How long ago was this done to the storefront?  And, what used to be in the current store when I was a young boy walking along Queen Street?  I walked into the store and found the neon lights a few feet from my head so very much different than what it looked like in the photo.  One poster stated that if you look up and see "The New Era" on the top of the building, then you have what used to be Leinbach & Co.  Sure enough, as seen in my photograph, there were the the three words on the top of the building.  Some of the old architecture still looks the same, but what used to be a four-story building now appears to be only three floors.  Could this really be the same building.  I guess.  At least it is the best bet for what Victor's photo gave to us.  So sad to see Lancaster's historic downtown disappear.  Guess that happens in many U.S. cities.  Just so sad to see that happen.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The top of the structure shows "The New Era" 
Plaque on the front of the store tells of the year it was built.
Looking up the storefront.
What the interior now looks like.
First floor front facade.  Doesn't look at all like what it used to.
An old advertisement for Leinbach & Bro.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The "Tragic Death For Thrill Seeker At Sint Maarten Airport" Story

A jet landing at Princess Juliana International Airport.
It was an ordinary day.  Reading "Travel- Talk- Online" (TTOL) and discovered someone had recently died due to a jet blast at Princess Juliana Airport on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten/St. Martin.  Carol and I have visited the island for almost twenty years now and have made many visit to the Sunset Bar and Grill which is located near the end of the runway of the airport.  Next to the beach bar is famous Maho Beach which is a prime spot for watching international jets land.  
Photograph of an arriving plane taken from Maho Beach.
You can stand on the beach and photograph the planes as they fly about 100 feet above your head and then land on the runway which begins a narrow driveway away from the beach.  The driveway is so narrow it has a concrete block divider in the middle to make sure vehicles remain on their own side of the road.  
Numerous danger signs tell the warning.
That concrete block divider seems to be what was responsible for the untimely death of Gayleen McEwan, a tourist to the island, from New Zealand.  Seems she died after being blown off the chain-link fence which separates the narrow driveway from the end of the runway.  A departing jet began to power up for takeoff right in front of the fence and the jet blast knocked her off the fence.  It was said on the TTOL website that the jet blast can knock over a bus, so when a plane is ready for takeoff, traffic stops on the road until the plane has departed.  But yet, humans attempt to hold on to the fence and withstand the thrust of the jet blast.  We have seen the results many times when tourists are blown off the fence onto the beach or into the water.  A few years ago a young girl also struck the curb, but survived.  
A large jet dwarfs those on the beach in it's path.
The woman in the news report did not fare as well.  So what should or can be done to prevent this?  There are numerous signs warning you of the consequences, but evidently some people can't read or just plain ignore the signs.  A post on TTOL says that the Sint Maarten Police patrol the area and give warnings to those that don't follow the warning, but Carol and I have never seen Police pass by during any of our visits to the area.  
A young woman loses her grip during takeoff.
There evidently is no law that says it is illegal to put yourself in harm's way.  The planes are a huge tourist attraction with many cruise ships to the island offering trips to the Sunset Bar and Grill to see the planes land and take off.  Placing a solid wall in place of the chain link fence might cause a problem for departing jets with wind thrust bouncing back off the wall towards the departing jet. It is also a fact that exposure to jet fuel, as in a blast at takeoff, can cause physical problems.  
You can see a person being blown into the water in this photo.
Carcinogen naphthalene exposure can lead to skin and lung problems.  So what will be done?  Probably nothing.  This is the first death to ever occur since the airport opened 72 years ago.  And, the day after the accident, thrill-seekers were back at it, holding onto the fence as planes revved their engines for takeoff.  Next week the death will be history; something for everyone to talk about.  But, it will not stop those who travel to Sint Maarten to take their life in their hands and brave the jet blast of the large jets that frequent the airport.  Life will go on; at least for most of the thrill seekers. And then, sometime in the future ... it will happen again.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.   

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The "No Matter How You Make It, I Just Won't Drink It Anymore!" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Trying to decide what I'll have to drink with my lunch.  Water?  Soda?  Orange juice?  Or, perhaps a cold ice tea.  For years I drank the local brand of iced tea, Turkey Hill Ice Tea.  My son had a kidney stone a year or so ago and he was told to stop drinking Turkey Hill Ice Tea since it wasn't good for him.  Could cause kidney stones.  Well, I didn't think much about it until I too had a kidney stone.  Actually had two that were connected together.  Doctor said it looked like a dumbbell.  Haven't had a glass of the stuff since, though I really loved the stuff and no one other than his doctor said it caused kidney stones.  I just didn't want to go through the pain I encountered with the stone I had again.  Now, my wife drinks her own concoction that she makes and has never had any problems.  And, she drinks PLENTY of the stuff. She uses Crystal Light Lemon Decaf Iced Tea packages.  Places one 2 quart package in her plastic container, adds a bunch of mint she grows in her garden (grows it indoors in the winter), adds a cup of boiling tap water to dissolve the tea crystals and then fills the plastic container to the top with water that she has filtered.  
Add mint to the container
Add a packet of Crystal Light Decaf Iced Tea mix
Add boiling water to dissolve the mix
Add filtered water to make 2 quarts
She can drink that mixture every day of the year.  Takes her two days to empty the container.  Since I don't like the taste of mint, she knows I won't touch it.  
Seems that so many people drink iced tea that it led to an addition of the iced tea spoon to cutlery sets.  It is a teaspoon with a long handle which is suitable for stirring sugar into your iced tea.  Carol has been making her brew for over twenty years now, but it pales in comparison to printed recipes for iced tea that date back to the 1870s.  The beverage started to appear in the USA in the 1860s, but was first considered a novelty until recipes began to appear in print and was offered on hotel menus.  Was even sold at railroad stations.  The Buckeye Cookbook by Estelle Woods Wilcox, first published in 1876, and Housekeeping In Old Virginia by Marion Cabell Tyree, published in 1877, both featured recipes for iced tea.  Then in  1904 Richard Rlechynden introduced it to everyone during that year's World's Fair in St. Louis.  Iced tea can be made plain or can be mixed with flavored syrup with common flavors such as lemon, raspberry, lime, passion fruit, peach, orange, strawberry or cherry.   You may have heard about the sweet tea that is popular in Southeastern United States.  The beverage in usually sold with a lemon slice as a garnish which is placed on the rim of the glass.  My favorite, when I used to drink the beverage, was Turkey Hill Orange Ice Tea.  Tasted so good that you couldn't stop after one glass of it.  I will admit that I now drink Turkey Hill Lemonade all the time.  Can that also be bad for me?  I haven't heard any reports yet and I hope I never do.  Now, if you mix iced tea and lemonade together you come up with what is called "half and half."  Also known as an "Arnold Palmer" since Arnold was known to drink the combination together all the time.  Another variation of the drink, known as a "John Daly" mixes sweet tea, lemonade and vodka together.  I guess I should drink more of what my wife makes, but I still associate those two words, iced and tea, with the terrible pain I suffered in the past and it's going to be hard to block that out of my mind.  Hey, I actually tried a drink made with watermelon.  Tasted great.  Has to be something wrong with that, don't you think?  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - You just have to watch this hilarious video I found about the drink called the Arnold Palmer.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The "The Fabulous Hubcaps Featuring LDub As Backup" Story

The Amphitheater at Springettsbury features the Fabulous Hubcaps.
It was an ordinary day.  Sitting on the concrete step directly in front of the stage where the Fabulous Hubcaps are performing.  Next to me sits a woman, Janie, who seems to be about my age who is holding a DSLR camera similar to the one I am holding.  I ask her if she is taking photographs for herself and she tells me she is the band's manager and is taking photos for their webpage.  
Place is packed for tonight's concert.
We strike up a conversation as the band plays another oldie and she asks if I live nearby.  Seems the band comes from Owings Mills, Maryland and tours primarily on weekends.  "This is the 43rd year for the Hubcaps," she tells me.  "Guy singing right now is the one who started it.  Most everyone is in their 60s with a couple of them in their early 70s."  Wow!  
One of many couples dancing the night away.
For the next quarter-hour I move back and forth along the step, hoping to get photographs of all of the performers.  Finally checked my results and headed back to my seat about half-way up the tiered seating at the Springettsbury Township Park Amphitheater in York, Pennsylvania.  This is our second visit to this venue this year and find it a fantastic place to watch their Sounds of Sumer Concert Series.  As I said, tonights band is known as The Fabulous Hubcaps and is listed on the program as One of the most sought after oldies Rock N' Roll groups in the country.  
Another couple dancing the night away.
Since 1974 they have set the standard for musical quality and entertainment showmanship.  In a typical Hubcaps show, you will hear the best of the "Classics" and see many of your favorite artists dressed in costume delivering a dynamic show.  Where else can you see so many of your favorite artists in a single night?!
 Well, the two-hour program taking me back to when Rock N' Roll was king was unbelievable.  I wasn't even on stage and my voice was hoarse by the end of the night.  My favorite performer out of the seven on stage tonight was the fellow who sang and played the sax.  Truly amazing.  In a few weeks we will see Phil Dirt and the Dozers at Mount Gretna, PA.  The sax player in that band is a member of the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame.  He too is amazing, but the fellow tonight isn't far behind him in talent.  All seven members of the Fabulous Hubcaps are great performers as well as musicians.  Following I have included my photograph of each as well as a few words about each.  If you ever have a chance to see this group, don't pass it up.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The Origial Hubcap, Dennis Michael Cook, joined "Harvey Hubcap and the Do Ron Ron in 1974 as a bass player and later became the lead vocalist.  He now leads a band that consists of some of the greatest talent in this country.

Lorraine Allen "Lulu" began her singing career at the age of 15 when she appeared with local bands in Arlington, Virginia.  Two years later she began working the Washington, DC nightclub scene.  The Washington Star called her "A Star On The Rise."  She had left the music industry for some time, but is back strong as the lead female voice.
Jay Cleaver plays Tenor Sax, Soprano Sax and sings.  His father was a big fan of Benny Goodman and led his son into beginning the clarinet in second grade.  He began the sax in junior high school.  After majoring in music for a short time at Towson University, he became a radio announcer.  He always had his sax by his side and began playing in clubs in Baltimore.  He opened for such acts as Paul Revere & The Raiders, Herman's Hermits, Dion and the Four Tops.  Music has been a part of his life since the second grade.
Barry Holober is the bands drummer as well vocalist.  His dad was a musician and had a set of circa 1940s Slingerland Drums in their basement.  When his dad passed away he inherited the drum set.  At the age of five, while listening to his dad and his dad's friends play along to Benny Goodman songs, he sat at the drums and began playing along.  He began to perform at the age of 15, playing for Armed Forces officers and enlisted men in the Hyattsville and Riverdale areas of Maryland.  He loves to listen to Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman, Little Richard, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Miles Davis and Beethoven.  These influences have given him the knowledge to play with the Hubcaps.
Tommy Dildy is play keyboards and sings.  He has been playing the piano since the age of six and appreciates classical, jazz, rock, country and rhythm and blues.  He performed in Georgetown in the 1960s and has played on shows with The Coasters, The Drifters and The Platters.  He has played at venues in DC, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and the along the Jersey Shore.  
Tommy dressed the part and sang Rod Stewart's "Maggie May"
Dean Andrews is the Bassist and sings.  He taught himself piano and guitar, but it was The Beatles that inspired him.  At the age of 14 he played organ with Denny and the Hitchhikers and in high school played with a number of local Maryland groups.  He founded Good and Plenty in the early 70s and eventually played with another group who performed at Caesar's Palace in Vegas.  Dean joined the Hubcaps in the fall of 2012.
Michael Shipley who is on lead guitar and vocals.  Born in Baltimore, he began playing guitar at the age of 17.  He never took a lesson and learned to play by ear by listening to Rock N' Roll and Rhythm and Blues.  During his musical career he has met many inspiring musicians such as Lorraine Allen, Tom Dildy, Don Mark and Jan Zukowski which has led him to his part of The Fabulous Hubcaps.