Extraordinary Stories

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The "The Evolution Of Football Wear" Story

Lancaster football players wearing team wear from the 1910/1920s.
Soft leather helmets, known as harnesses, were primarily to protect
the ears.  The player, second from the right, is wearing a full harness
that the entire head.  The jerseys were probably made from wool and
the pants were made of thick canvas with some padding sewn into them.
Click on photo to enlarge it.
It was an ordinary day.  Watching my Phila- delphia Eagles beat up on the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Carol and I were watching hit after hit and it was hard to believe that someone wasn't having permanent brain trauma due to the beating everyone was taking.  Got me to thinking what it was like when football began years ago. I did some reading and found that college football rules voted to allow tackling below the waist in 1888.
This is the first illuminated football game in Pennsylvania that
was played on October 26, 1929 at nearby Stevens, PA.  Game
was between ParkHill, Lancaster and Exeter, Reading.
Pads were deemed necessary after the rule change, but wearing a helmet wasn't made mandatory until 1939.  Helmets weren't mandatory in professional football until 1943. Before the advent of football helmets, players would often grow their hair long to help protect their head, or so they thought.  Guy given credit for the helmet was George Barclay who, in 1896, designed a headgear that became known as a head harness.
This game is being played at Franklin & Marshall College practice
field in 1944.  The team pictured here is the West End team which
won the game 76-14 and ended an 8-0 season.  Only about half
of the players sport any type of head protection.
It had three thick leather straps forming a close fit around his head that was made by a harness maker.  U.S. Naval Academy Midshipman Joseph Reeves also was given some credit for the helmet when he fashioned a helmet out of mole skin to help protect his head after he was told by a Navy doctor that he must give up football or risk death.
The evolution of the football helmet.
Eventually Reeves went to a shoemaker/blacksmith and had a crude leather helmet made to protect his head.  As the helmet evolved, they began to look like aviator's helmets.  Then, by 1915, when more padding and ear flaps were added, they began to look like the helmets that are worn today.   Painted helmets began to help team members recognize players on their team.  It wasn't until 1948 that team logos were added to helmets.  In 1917 the helmets were made to "cradle" the skull from the outside covering of the helmet.  Straps of fabric formed a pattern inside the helmet.  These helmets were known as "ZH" helmets named after the Illinois coach who came up with the design.
This photo was taken from my high school yearbook.
It shows the helmets in use in 1961.  They look to be
plastic with a single bar face masks.
Companies such as Rawlings and Spalding began to manufacture helmets soon after.  In the mid-1930s rubber-covered wire facemasks were added to the helmet.  In 1940 the plastic helmet was invented by John T. Riddell and his son.  The single molded shell was stronger, lighter and laster longer that the leather ones.  But, the plastic helmet was brittle when struck head-on by another player.  In 1956 a helmet with a single wave radio was made so the coach could communicate with the player.  Then in 1971 energy-absorbing helmets were designed.  A pump was used to add air to  the helmet to mold it to the head.  In 1976 the four-point chin strap was designed to better hold the helmet in place. In 2002 Riddell Company released the "Revolution" which is widely used today in the National Football League. At first they claimed that the helmet reduced the likelihood of concussion by 31%, but government testing proved that not to be true.  I had a student in high school who played football and after suffering a few concussions during his high school career, had a specially designed helmet made by the school to help him.
The latest look in helmets by Riddell Company.
Huge thing that had to weigh a ton with extra layers on it, but it seemed to work.  I imagine it never became popular due to its size.  Today's helmets have the capability of adding a polyurethane pad to the outside of the helmet to help prevent concussions.  The latest design, as far as I can find, is the Riddell SpeedFlex which is backed by extensive reasearch which includes 2+ million data points of on-field impacts.  It sells for $324 which, unfortunately, is  too much for many high school football programs to afford.  At least the majority of the helmets worn today are a far cry from the leather helmets that were worn when they were first invented.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The "One Of My Favorite Pastimes: Part I - The Show" Story

Foreword: Today's story is about an event that was held September 17th in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  I realize that for many of my readers, automobiles are no more than a means of transportation, but for me, and hopefully many others, classic and collectible automobiles are some what of a passion.  If a beautiful or powerful car or truck passes by, I will stand and admire it.  Well, today I had the chance to visit a car show in the area and just couldn't help myself, as far as my camera goes, and I took over 150 photos of some of my favorites.  Managed to talk to many of the owners about their autos as well as themselves.  Today's story is an overview of the show with a few photos of vehicles, while I have written a few more stories which feature favorites from the show.  I will not post them on consecutive days so that those who do not care about automotive history do not have to bored with my car stories.  Keep an eye out during the next week or two if you care to see the remaining stories.

The Good Humor man waves as he stands next to his classic truck.
It was an ordinary day.  Taking a photo of the Good Humor man standing next to his truck when he yells, "Hey, didn't you take my photo a few years ago?  I sent that story to everyone I know and its probably been all over the world by now."  It was back in September of 2012 that I made a visit to the Railroad Museum in Strasburg, PA and ended up taking photos and writing a story about the Good Humor man who happened to have his ice cream truck parked right in front of the museum.  
Row after row of cars and trucks line the grass in the park.
Today I am in Neffsville, PA at the 15th annual Rotary Club of Northeast Lancaster Car Show and guess who happens to be one of the first sights I come upon after parking my car at the Neffsville Community Park.  Even thought I love cars and trucks of all sorts, for some reason I have never visited this show which is not much more than a mile from my house.  
One stand featured hundreds of die-cast miniature cars.
Pretty impressive collection of over 600 classic and collectible cars and trucks fill the park.  Naturally I search for samples of some of the cars I had throughout my life as well as some of my all-time favorites.  Easy to find both along with many stands that feature food of all varieties as well as stands selling auto supplies and automotive memorabilia.  Partway through the afternoon I hear music emanating from the huge speakers in the park's pavilion so I walk in that direction to find a seat and enjoy the music of Flight Risk.  
Flight Risk plays for the car show audience.
The oldies band features three guitarists, drummer, keyboardist as well as a lead singer.  The Rock & Roll cover band helps bring back memories from times when cars were more than a means of transportation.  To me, it seems that today's mid-sized cars, SUVs, luxury cars and even trucks all look the same.  In the golden age of automobiles, car dealerships covered their store windows with paper so as not to reveal the next year's model until it was time.  Those are the cars that I am searching for today ... and have found many times over.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

The 1956 Ford Coupe.  I had one similar to it after my 1953 Henry J was demolished by a DUI driver.  I searched for the Henry J, but was not successful in my search.  My '56 Ford was pink and white rather than what is pictured.  I did have it painted black since my friends couldn't believe I would have a pink car.  Only problem was that the interior was still pink and white.
I also had a 1958 Chevy Impala such as this.  I had customized it somewhat with a DeSoto grill and taillights that I made in my plastics college course. My '58 didn't have the Continental Kit on the rear of the car as this sample does.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The "Rooftop Forecasters" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Lancaster County is alive in history, both urban as well as suburban.  Today my story will deal with both varieties and the rooftop predicators of changing skies and wind currents.  
A Lancaster County weathervane.
When ever I travel along Lancaster County roadways, I always seem to see the traditional weathervane atop a barn roof or manor house.  The earliest weathervane known honored the Greek god Triton and was located atop the Tower of the Winds in Athens and was built in 48 B.C.  The figurine on the top had the head and torso of a man and the tail of a hush holding a wand which was to be used to command the winds to arise and abate.  The weathervanes that I have noticed in and around Lancaster County probably aren't as ornamented as the one in Athens.  The weathervane on the top of the administrative building at the Landis Valley Farm Museum in Lancaster appears to be an arrow while the one on another outbuilding at the museum features a rooster with an arrow under it.  
The parts of the traditional weathervane.
The arrow points in the direction that the wind is blowing.  I recently made a trip to the museum to see the collection that they now have on display from all over the United States.  Weather- vanes at first were to detail the weather as well as tell the history of the structure it sat upon.  Many others were primarily for decoration and perhaps didn't tell anything at all about the weather.  When designing a weathervane there are two rules you needed to follow. (1) the ornament must be unequal on opposite sides of the vertical rod and (2) the ornament must have equal mass or weight on each side of the vertical rod.  
The Administrative Building at Landis
Valley Farm Museum.  The weathervane
on the top sports an arrow I believe.
As the wind blows, the ornament rotates to indicate both the direction and the speed of the wind.  The lightest and smallest portion of the ornament should point into the wind and the wind always comes from the direction the weathervane is pointing.  If the weathervane has directional letters, such as "N", "S", "E" and "W", they should be fixed to the vertical rod so they do not move.  Many weathervanes had dates cut into the metal to show when the structure was first built.  When William Penn first opened his business in Philadelphia with two other partners, they commissioned a weathervane for the roof of their grist mill which told of the business and the year it opened.  It is the oldest weathervane in the country and is one of the weathervanes that is on display at Landis Valley.  
Another building sitting closeby has the arrow and rooster.
Back then the weather- vanes would be made by blacksmiths while today they may be stamped out of metal.  There are some items that are featured on weather- vanes that are a sure clue as to what sits underneath it.  Fish and roosters were usually placed on churches, quills were placed on schools, and the American Indian was a symbol of good luck.  
This weathervane, featured in the display
at the museum, has a "GDL" and "1867" on the
back of it.  One of the founders of the museum,
George Diller Landis, was born on Sept. 7, 1867.
My trip to the museum was to photograph the many weathervanes they have on display, but I soon saw a big sign that read "No Photos".  After asking, I was told the collection has many private weathervanes that the owners didn't want photographed.  Oh well!  The photos I have included were photos I took before I saw the sign and were part of the collection from the museum.  The art of the forecast has certainly changed over the years, but weathervanes still sit atop many buildings in Lancaster County to help with wind direction which ultimately may help with weather prediction by those who have a knowledge and feeling in their bones for a rainy day or a beautifully sunlit day.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

This is the Star Barn that was in Dauphin County, PA and has been dismantled and moved to a site in Lancaster  County.  The barn's cupola had a weathervane inscribed with the name of the farmer who owned the barn and the date the building was built.  The smaller outbuildings also had weathervanes with a pig weathervane above the hog barn and a horse and wheeled wagon above the carriage house.  After it's reconstruction there will be a few new weathervanes which have been created and are shown in the photo below.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The "Bed & Breakfast Town Known As Cape May" Story

The Mainstay B&B on Columbia St. in Cape May, New Jersey.
It was an ordinary day.  Just turned right at the Catholic Church at the end of Washington Mall in Cape May, New Jersey.  My mission is to find Columbia Street and take a photo of the Mainstay Inn which is one of the premier Bed & Breakfast (B&B) in  this quaint little seashore town.  After walking a few blocks toward the Atlantic Ocean I saw the street sign indicating Columbia and turned left.  Wasn't more than a few minutes until I was standing in front of 635 Columbia, snapping a few photos of the Mainstay Inn.  
The elegant front pillars draw visitors to its doors.
The Inn was elegant with old-time Southern charm oozing all over.  The floor to ceiling first story four-over-six windows were just beautiful and the gingerbread touches throughout the home were remarkable.  A home like this makes it easy to take a fantastic photo. The Mainstay Inn looks as if it has been standing at this location forever, but it was first located at 24 Jackson Street.  
The Windward House B&B on Jackson Street.
The owners, Tom and Sue Carroll, opened Cape May's first B&B when they opened the Mainstay in a stately Victorian mansion in 1972.  Their first edition of the Mainstay was featured in Norman Simpson's Country Inns & Back Roads and shortly thereafter the B&B industry in Cape May began.  Up and down many of the streets in downtown Cape May, home after home has been converted into charming B&B rentals.  The tall shade trees throughout the town lend to the atmosphere of an old southern movie set. And ... I love it!  
Another inviting porch to drawn to welcome guests.
Yes ... LDub, who lives in a contemp- orary home suited for the beach, really loves the old town charm of Cape May.  It was in 1977 that the Carroll's sold their home on Jackson and moved to their current location on Columbia.  Then they began an informal class for would-be B&B owners which helped them become innkeepers.  Eventually, about 75 to 80 B&Bs lined the streets in Cape May.  The original Mainstay Inn is now known as the Windward House and owned and operated by Pete and Ester Scalone.  It too is beautiful with its aqua color theme and striped awnings.  Carol and I have stayed at B&Bs before, but never in Cape May.  After walking the streets in Cape May, we both said that may have to change.  The vibrant town looks like a must visit for us in the near future.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

Friday, September 23, 2016

The "God's Gift To Beachcombers" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Walking along the shoreline in Stone Harbor, NJ with my sweetheart, searching for seashells and various other beach finds.  Early morning, the sun is low in the sky and the shoreline is full of God's gift to beachcombers.  Shells and items of all sizes and types dot the water's edge, but my mission today is more than just to find them.  I am going to document my finds today with my new cellphone lens that attaches to my phone's camera lens.  I recently wrote about the set of three lens I got online and I have been using the macro lens frequently to take photos of minute items.  The small world of miniature seashells and beach finds is a perfect reason to give them a try this morning.  See if you can figure out what I have taken a photo of after viewing the following collections of photographs.  I did not remove any of the items from the beach, only collected their images with my cellphone.  Enjoy and see how many you can recognize. Click on the images to enlarge them.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The "Memories From The Green House On Janet Ave." Story

Rear door still has mom and dad's name plate on it.
It was an ordinary day.  Just took a few photos of the back porch, turned to head back into the kitchen and there it was.  The little ceramic plaque, perhaps two inches by five inches on the home's rear door, with the flowered details around the edges that read across the center ... "Woods". Wow!  I said to Beth, "You still have that plaque on your back door.  How neat!"  
A small wooden replica of 944 Janet Ave. which was made years ago.
You can see the shutters on all windows and shrubs in the foreground
My story today actually started a few weeks ago when I received an email from someone named Beth.  She told me in her email that she and her husband had purchased my mom and dad's house at 944 Janet Ave. a few years ago and at the time of viewing the home with their realtor had found mom's recipe file in the kitchen.  
944 Janet Ave. as it appears today.  
They told their realtor that they loved the home, but the file would have to be part of the deal, since she felt something of my mom should remain after having lived there for so long.  Their realtor passed the information on to my cousin Susan who was also a realtor and was handling the sale for us.  
Living room as it now appears.
I was fine with that and was just glad I could sell the home, since dad had recently died and mom was in a nursing facility.  Mom died a few years ago and after her death I had totally forgotten about the recipe file. That was until the email.  Beth was reaching out to me and offering the recipe file back if I wished to have it.  
Dining room with the recipe file sitting atop the table.
I asked my wife, Carol, if she would like to have mom's old recipes and we both agreed that it would be interesting to see what was in the files. I returned the email to Beth and said I would love to have the file returned once again.  A day or two later Carol and I left for Stone Harbor, NJ for a week of vacation with my brother and sister-in-law.  When I told my brother, Steve, about the file, he was more excited than me.  He loves to cook and had tried for the past few years to make mom's special meals without the help of a recipe.  
Mom's favorite room, the kitchen looks much like it
did before we sold the house.  
He was anxious to see what dishes he was going to be able to enjoy once again.  Well, today I pulled into the parking space on Janet Ave. and walked the same pathway to the front door that I had walked for quite a few years.  House is still the same pastel green and white that it had been since 1964 when mom and dad purchased it from Miss Frances A. Coventry.  Much of the shrubbery in the front of the house was gone, which I found was due to a water problem and the necessary grading needed to correct it.  
The bamboo, which covered most of the fence in the background,
is now thankfully gone.  Dad's lawn has now been turned
into a garden for fresh vegetables.
The bamboo garden in the back yard, which was a huge burden for dad for years, was finally gone.  The rear yard was now broken into small plots that are used for raising a variety of crops, but the entire atmosphere of the house and grounds was as if mom and dad were still living there.  As I followed Beth through the front door it was as if I was going back in time.  The living room, with the wood-burning fireplace and half wall of gray wooden cabinets was still the same.  
Mom's favorite, the back porch, still is inviting and
as beautiful as ever.
The beautiful hardwood floors, which mom and dad had covered with area rugs, were just as beautiful as ever.  Then, as I walked into the small dining room, there on the table was the piece of history I had come to retrieve.  Before I retrieved it, I finished looking at mom's kitchen and her favorite ... her large rear screened-in porch.  She loved that porch and took great pride in her collection of bird houses she had hanging around the edge of the porch.  
The much anticipated recipe file has now been
returned to the Woods' family to be enjoyed by
more generations of mom and dad's relatives.
Many family parties and meals were served on that porch over the forty-something years she and dad lived at 944 Janet.  If she were still alive, she would be happy to see that it is still in the same condition as when we sold the house.  Beth showed me the basement as well as the second floor which both still remain much the same as I remember them.  The black and white bathroom floor is still in place and as nice as ever and the bedroom that Steve and I shared looks exactly as it did when I moved out in 1967 when I got married.  As I walked back down the stairs, there on the bottom post of the railing still sat the small glass jewel, or mortgage button, that dad had so proudly placed in the railing after they had paid off the mortgage on the home.  After an hour or so, I accepted the file from Beth and made my way back the pathway to the car.  I may never step in the green house on Janet Ave. again, but the memories of my visit today will stay with me forever.  Thanks, Beth for sharing the green house on Janet with me one more time. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.