Extraordinary Stories

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

The "Marigot Through The Ages" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Pulled up a series of websites that post photos of different parts of the island of St. Martin/Sint Maarten.  If you have been reading this site over the past eight years, you probably realize by now that my wife and I have a little spot in our hearts for this beautiful dual-country Caribbean island.  One half of the island is Dutch while the other is French.  They each have their own capital which has the government buildings needed to carry out the administration of their side of the island.  My story today deals with the French town of Marigot which happens to be the capital of the French side.  Carol and I have made many visits to Marigot over the past fifteen years and enjoy the architecture, shops, waterfront market, restaurants as well as the people who call the city home.  I have posted photographs today that date back to 1902, about 50 years after photography began.  Follow the photographs as I take you through the 20th century and into the 21st century with most photos showing you the waterfront of the capital of the French side of St. Martin.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary day.

Downtown street in 1902.
Margot waterfront boat races in 1920.
Marigot from above the city taken in 1936.
Waterfront in 1940.
Heading toward the waterfront in 1950.
The waterfront sometime between 1956 and 1963.
A boat race in 1960.
Heading toward the waterfront in the early 60s.
Another view of the waterfront from the 1960s.
The town is beginning to resemble what it looks like today.  This also is from the 1960s.
Waterfront photo from the 1970s.
Market along the waterfront taken in the 1980s.
Another photo from the 1980s taken along the waterfront.
1985 waterfront photo.
Waterfront photograph taken after Hurricane Luis in 1995.
GoogleEarth photo taken of the waterfront in 2011.
Photo I took in 2006 of the waterfront from the Fort Louis which overlooks the harbor.
And ... the final photograph I took this past spring at the marketplace in Marigot.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The "Storied History Of St. Paul's In Stone Harbor" Story

The original St. Paul's Church in 1911.
It was an ordinary day.  Just walked out of St. Paul's Catholic Church in Stone Harbor after snapping a few photos of the beautiful interior of the church that sits along Third Avenue in this beach town located in New Jersey.  The church is part of the Saint Brendan the Navigator Parish and recently celebrated 100 years as a parish in 2013.
Parishioners enjoy a service in the 1930s.
Back in the early 1900s there were about fifty families that lived on the sparsely populated southern end of Seven Mile Beach which was home at the time to herds of livestock, windswept beaches and salt marshes.  With the influx of families, churches soon followed, with St. Mary's Episcopal Church being the first built.  Then in the summer of 1910, Catholic services began in an abandoned house at the foot of 83rd Street with Father Maroney of St. Ann's Church in nearby Wildwood visiting to officiate.  
Preparing for the blessing or the original church.
In 1911 plans were made to construct the first Roman Catholic Church in Stone Harbor.  By the Fourth of July of that year the church was completed and finally dedicated as a parish on June 19, 1913. As the parish grew it became apparent that a new church was needed and in 1952 ground was broken for the current St. Paul's Church at the corner of Third Avenue and 99th Street. The church cost $250,000 with another $50,000 spent on furnishings.  This church was dedicated on July 5th, 1953. Today St. Paul's is part of the Saint Brendan the Navigator parish which was created in 2010.  
This is St. Paul's Hall which eventually held the school.
It was built in 1942 and demolished in the 1970s. 
A few firsts for St. Paul's when it was first built were: (1) the first baptism on July 6, 1913, (2) the first Catholic child born in Stone Harbor to Michael Lennon and Anna Kelly, (3) the first funeral on August 27, 1914 when parishioner Julien Van Thuyne died at the age of 82, (4) the first marriage on November 4, 1914 uniting William Reynolds and Ada Tear.
The current St. Paul's Church.
In 1958 the church opened a grammar school which educated children from first through eighth grades which eventually closed in 1969.  Recently Father Mark Cavagnaro was installed as the Pastor of St. Brendan the Navigator Parish and preaches and offers Mass at the historical St. Paul's Catholic Church in Stone Harbor, New Jersey.  As I walked around the beautiful church today I loved the uniqueness that it offered.  There wasn't a soul in the church but myself, yet I felt as if someone was watching over me as I snapped a few photos to share.  I was especially moved by the drapped photo of Mother Teressa of Calcutta who was recently Caononized.  Neat experience!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The interior  of St. Paul's.
Portraiture of Mother Teressa of Calcutta on display near the altar.
Sculpture of Saint Paul which sits next to the church.  The plaque attached to it proclaims: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith and now the prize - Eternal Life."  2 Timothy 4:7
One of my favorite photos I took.  Features the Virgin Mary holding The Christ Child.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The "Nanny Lou And Her Stories" Story

The Lancaster Marionette Theatre, formerly
known as "The Hole In The Wall Puppet Theatre"
It was an ordinary day.  Standing inside the front door of Lancaster Marionette Theatre on Water Street in downtown Lancaster talking to Mary Lou Broucht.  Mrs. Broucht, as I always called her, was for many years the assistant minister at St. James Episcopal Church which is located a hop, skip and jump from the home in which she lives above the theatre.  One of Mrs. Broucht's responsibilities at the historical church on North Duke Street was coordinating the Sunday School as well as working with the church's high school youth group.  All three of my children had the chance to get to know Mrs. Broucht during their high school years at St. James.  
Mary Lou Broucht and her son Rob.
She in turn enjoyed my kids, but seemed to favor our youngest, Paul, or as we call him Tad, since he was born in our nation's Bi-Centennial year and carried the middle name of one of Lancaster's Patriots, Thaddeus Stevens.  Recently Mrs. Broucht wrote a book dealing with her time as Sunday School teacher and director titled "Pizza & Post Cards - Revelations of a Church School Teacher."
Mrs. Broucht's newest book.
The 60-page softbound cover book tells the exploits that filled her life during the years she served the church as a teacher, director and coordinator of the youth of the church as well as the many trips she coordinated and took with the youth to such exotic locations as Great Britian, Japan and Italy.  To finance the trips, Mrs. Broucht introduced her traveling troupe of Sunday School students during Chapter 5 in her book.  Chapter was titled "Show Biz" and told how the St. James students were "giving back" by way of performing in order to raise the funds to travel.  The first big production for the church group was a take-off of the stage show called "Cats" which the St. James youth performers called "Episcocats".  After hours and hours of practice the group took the show on the road to local retirement and nursing homes with  fantastic applause.  
A photo taken in Japan of the parish who sponsored the
group that Mrs. Broucht took there to perform and tour.
Reading her book and looking at all the photos brought back so many memories from the times when my three children participated in the perfor- mances.  Mrs. Broucht then tells, in Chapter 7 (titled "Sayonara"), of our sister Episcopal church in the diocese of Kito Kanto offering to  host the youth group at St. Paul's boarding school.  My son Derek was so excited and even missing a week of high school baseball didn't stop him from being part of "Side By Side," the Noah's Ark show they performed.  A few days of the trip were spent with a host family which in Derek's case was spent with a family that spoke only Japanese and ate only fish.  Being that Derek didn't like fish or couldn't speak anything but English made for a rather long couple of days.  Came home weighing a few pounds less.  Our daughter Brynn had the chance to travel to Italy with Mrs. Broucht as did our youngest son, Tad.  
Photo from the book shows Rob Howry (left) with my son
Tad and another member of the group that went to Italy.
On page 42 of her book, in the chapter titled "Pizza", she tells of this one young boy who was traveling with the group that wanted to have MLB, Mrs. Broucht's initials, carved in his hair on the back of his head.  "It took a lot of pointing and hand language to convey this to the Barber of Assisi ......."  That young boy was my son Tad!  She also tells a few touching stories in her book, one being about Rob Howry, the youngest son of friends who traveled every summer with my family on vacation to the Chesapeake Bay.  At the time the troupe was practicing for The Passion Play and on Palm Sunday, Rob happened to be at home with his father when he suffered a fatal heart attack. Rob felt it better to go to practice that Sunday afternoon to be with his friends to help him with his grief.  
Interior lighting at the Lancaster Marionette Theatre.
I talked with Mrs. Broucht for a few more minutes and than asked if she would autograph my copy of "Pizza & Post Cards - Revelations of a Church School Teacher." I told her it would be a gift for Tad for Christmas and she smiled as she wrote: For Tad, One of my very favorite church school students.  Love and God Bless.  Mary Lou Broucht.  Finally, it was time for me to depart, since Rob, her son and owner of Lancaster Marionette Theatre, was opening the front door to those who were going to enter for the evening's puppet show and be listening to "Nanny Lou", Mrs. Broucht stage name, introduce the show and tell the children and their parents about the puppets, that were all made by her son, and how they worked.  Fantastic place to visit and if you are ever in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, visit the Theatre and see one of Rob's original productions.  You will be amazed and will thoroughly enjoy your visit and get a chance to purchase your own copy of Mrs. Broucht's new book. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

The "A Real Or Fake Hoar House In Lancaster" Story

It was an ordinary day. Searching the Internet for something and I just came across an old list of restaurants with funny names.  What's even more unusual is one of them was a restaurant that used to be in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Place called The Hoar House on South Prince Street in downtown Lancaster.  I'm not sure if I ever ate there, but it eventually was renamed McFly's Pub and then in 1993 changed to The Center City Grille.  The name of the restaurant is rather funny, but the story behind how it got it's name, if that story is true or not, is just as interesting.  Allegedly in 1873 the good people of Lancaster decided that the city needed a first class hotel.
An old postcard of The Stevens House in downtown Lancaster.
It was to be built in the first block of South Prince Street and named after Thaddeus Stevens, the prominent Lancaster resident who was a member of the United States House of Representatives and who helped lead the way to abolishing slavery.  Mr. Stevens had died five years earlier.  The only problem was that the panic of 1873 took over and selling the stock to help build it became a chore.  
A later view of the Stevens House.
So, someone came up with the idea that the hotel would be named after the person who had bought the most stock.  Well, the prestige of having a first-class hotel named after you really boosted sales.  Finally the day arrived and ... yep, you guessed it.  Guy by the name of Jacob Hoar had purchased the most stock.  Can't imagine what everyone thought when they announced what the place was to be called.  But, those in command decided it was to be the Stevens House after all.  So eventually someone got the idea that Mr. Hoar had waited long enough and decided that the restaurant at the hotel would be called The Hoar House.  
A Hoar House matchbook cover.
But wait! While doing some online research for my story I found on a site about old time Lancaster that one poster stated, "The story is an awesome total fabrication made up in 1975 or so by a part owner of the restaurant.  His name was Dickie Doo (actually Gerry Granahan) from the local rock group Dickie Doo and the Don'ts.  He had his office along the King Street side of the hotel."  Then I found on another website that The Hoar House Restaurant is a Pennsylvania Fictitious Name. There was a filing in Lancaster County Courthouse to that effect and the file was dated February 21, 1979.  So, what should I believe?  It was reported in another posting that in 1990 The Hoar House was picked as one of the best places you used to be able to go for Happy Hour. So, did The Hoar House ever exist?  Just happened to be looking on eBay and found of all things, a matchbook cover for The Hoar House in Lancaster. Said, The Hoar House and Mame's Lounge, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Jeez, now I have to start to try and find information about Mame's.  Maybe she was the Madame of the Hoar House.  That's enough for now!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The "Lancaster's Art Scene: Part II - Public Art Stations" Story

This home on North Mary Street is the scene
of a public art station in Lancaster, PA.
It was an ordinary day.  Driving through the city of Lancaster on my way home when I made a turn onto North Mary Street in the west end of the city.  Carol used to work in the area when I first met her so I know the area quite well. Seems that every other street for about eight blocks runs one way, east or west.  I happened to be traveling north on Mary when I saw several people gathered in front of a home on the right side of the street.  Slowed down and then I realized they were painting with watercolor brushes.  Had to pull over and take a look.  The home evidently belongs to someone who appreciates the arts and has created what is known as a public art station in front of his house.  Two bamboo posts are staked in his garden with twine running parallel with the ground between them.  Spring loaded clothes pins are used to hold pieces of medium weight white paper to the twine.  At the bottom right of the unique gallery were a few trays of watercolors, a container of water and a few brushes.  I watched as a few people completed a small watercolor, hung them on the line and departed.  Got out of the car and took a few photos of the house and gallery and put my camera on the ground next to me as I took a piece of paper from the line and made my own painting to share with those who will travel past this spot.  I hung it back on the line, snapped a photo of my artwork and walked back to the car.  This one of a kind art show is amazing and here's hoping it will catch on and spread to other parts of the city that is rich in its visual, auditory and performing arts.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Also in front of the home is this book exchange.  Inside the box were several books to exchange.
A variety of trinkets fill the top of the gallery.
My artwork, titled "The River Runs Through", hangs above the trays of paint, water and brushes.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The "Lancaster's Art Scene: Part I - Street Art Galore" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Driving the city streets of Lancaster searching for some of the alleged 37 murals that adorn the buildings, fences, roofs, ceilings and garages in this city of visual, auditory and performing arts.  Lancaster has it all ... and it gets better all the time.  I wrote a story a few years ago about a few murals that I had viewed in the city and at the beginning of this summer I wrote a story telling of the many decorated pianos that could be found throughout the city that allowed anyone who might be tempted to sit and tickle the keys a bit to do so.  
Gretna Bike Shop sports this neat mural on the side of it's shop.
Click on any of the photographs to enlarge them.
Well, recently there was an article in the local newspaper telling of the vast amount of street artwork that has recently been added to the art scene in the city. So, I just had to see for myself.  Began by examining the map of the city that was presented in the paper that showed the location of the 37 spots where there was artwork.  I picked a variety of locations and began my journey with my camera near my childhood home near the north end of the city.  First stop was on Jackson Street where I found a bicycle shop that had an exterior wall covered with a fantastic mural which featured the drive mechanism of a bike.  
Mural featuring former Mayor Richard Scott.
Then it was south on Prince Street to Clipper Magazine Stadium, home of the Lancaster Barnstor- mers inde- pendent league baseball team, where a $30,000 mural was made to honor the former war hero and mayor of Lancaster, whose passion for baseball was responsible for bringing back professional ball to Lancaster.  Now, rather than tell you about the murals I visited, I'll take you on a visual tour of some of the artwork that makes Lancaster such a fantastic city in which to live.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Across the street from the baseball stadium is this mural which is painted on the of the local YMCA.
Enlarge this mural so you can read it.  It is on the ceiling at the entrance to the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design in the center of Lancaster City.
This beautiful mural, titled Lancaster City, is painted on a fence along Grant Street in the city. 
Located in the southeast end of the city is this mural depicting a painter at work.  It is across the street from the Two Dudes Painting Company on Poplar Street.
I traveled a few blocks from the above location to the Lafayette Elementary School where a retaining wall was covered with a series of paintings, all fantastic as individual paintings.  The school's parent's group helped raise funds to have the paintings done.  The following three photographs are parts of this mural.
This mural is just past the Eastern Market Building on East King Street.  It illustrates the different cultures that live in the city of Lancaster.
This is on a wall above a parking garage and is off of Grant Street.  To me it resembles the alleyway that I had to drive through to get to the mural.
As you can see by the vehicles, this mural is painted on the wall of a building that has parking next to it.  It is titled "Welcome to the West End" and is found at the corner of West Walnut and North Mulberry Streets.