Extraordinary Stories

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

The "From Wrightsville To Havre de Grace: Navigating The Canal - Part I" Story

The Lock House in Havre de Grace, Maryland
It was an ordinary day.  Just spent the past half-hour or so visiting The Lock House of the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal Co. in Havre de Grace, Maryland.  About a year ago I wrote a series of stories that told of the development of the Pennsylvania Canal system that ran from Columbia, Pennsylvania to the north.  It was in 1826 that a Canal Convention convened at the State Capitol in Harrisburg, PA at which time it was decided to build a network of canals connecting the Susquehanna River with Ohio. At the time the canal stopped at Columbia, about 20 miles from my hometown of Lancaster, PA.  
The Pennsylvania Canal as seen in Columbia, PA
Being that Pennsyl- vania, Lancaster County in particular, had rich farmland, Pennsyl- vania finally decided to back the construction of the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal that would link the Pennsylvania Canal with the Chesapeake Bay to help carry produce and minerals to new markets.  
Items for transport would go across from Columbia in Lancaster
County to Wrightsville in York County on this two-level bridge.
It was decided to transport goods across the Susque- hanna from Columbia, in Lancaster County, to Wrights- ville, in York County where the new canal was built from 1835 to 1839.  The 45-mile long Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal went from Wrightsville to Havre de Grace, Maryland where it opened into the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay.  
Traffic can be seen on the Susquehanna and Tidewater
Canal in this photo featuring a flat-bottom canal boat.
For years traffic on the canal was heavy, but then legal disputes, railroad competi- tion, storm-related problems and insufficient funds led to the demise of the canal.   Pennsyl- vania's Susque- hanna Canal never reopened after a flood in 1894 and the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal finally stopped operations about 1900.  Very little of the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal remains, but today Carol and I, along with friends Jerry and Just Sue, are standing along the part that stands in front of The Lock House.  A few minutes later we entered The Lock House and learned about how the canal operated in its heyday. Follow along tomorrow as I take you through the historical Lock House and its operation.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Information on the front of The Lock House.  Click on photo to enlarge.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The "The Thrill Of Being Young Again, If Just For A Fleeting Moment" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Carol and I are watching TV as well as checking our emails when she says to me, "Look at this!"  She passed me her iPad and there in the middle of the screen was a photograph of me!  
1998 photography of LDub wearing my
trusty Light Impressions apron covered with
a layer of priinter's ink and photo chemicals.
"Where'd you find that?" I asked her. "I opened an email sent from Renee Logan Heller and up popped your photo.  It says My HS photography teacher." Wow, pretty neat!  Read a bit more on her email and found that she was cleaning her garage and found quite a few old photos and was going to place all of the on her Facebook page.  Pretty neat that she had one of me amongst the collection of old photos.  I had Renee as a student in 1997-98 in my Photography Class.  The class was open only to seniors and I had quite a few students in the black and white film course.  I taught everything from photography history to composition to film and print development to a month long session where I invited guest professional photographers to speak to my class.  This was the era when digital photography was just taking hold and the year before I retired from teaching.  Didn't hear from or about Renee until last year when I was taking photographs at the school district's Landis Run Intermediate School for their yearbook.  Someone tapped me on the shoulder and when I turned around there stood Renee.  
Photo of Renee on the right and her mother
who worked in the cafeteria.  I suspect it
was she who snapped my photograph.
Recognized her face immediately, but the arm length full of tattoos and the purple hair were quite different than I had remembered.  I immediately recognized the camera and flash and knew she was here for a reason.  She told me she had become a professional photographer and was asked by a few parents to take some photos of the same event I was taking photographs of for the yearbook.  Renee's equipment was far superior to what I was using and she graciously agreed to send me a few of the photos she was taking for inclusion in the yearbook.  During our conversation I found out about her family and those who were in the school system.  Since that time I have seen her several other times and became friends with her on Facebook.  Neat to know that one of my students enjoyed photography enough to make it their career.  Well, it wasn't long before quite a few comments began to appear on her Facebook posting of my photo.  It was like being back in school once again.  Names I hadn't heard from since years ago began to appear.  Luckily all comments were very complimentary!  I did have to respond to several due to the nature of their responses.  Greg C. responded with just a "Let's eat."  Knew right away what he meant.  I had Greg in the same class as my youngest son, Tad.  
Renee's photo as seen on her
Facebook page.
The class was held just before lunch.  The lunch room was right next to my room and if the class would have everything cleaned up before the bell rang, I would let them leave early so they could get in line first.  As we sat quietly, looking at the clock, I would say, "Let's eat," and we'd all head to the cafeteria.  I responded to Greg with a comment of my own when I typed: "I remember when Tad needed lunch money and after giving him the money, he stepped aside and there where you, Josh and Ryan standing with your hands out, waiting for me to give you lunch money also."  Boy the memories!  Besides all the nice comments I also had quite a few "Likes", one coming from Jim E. who now teaches black and white film photography in the same classroom.  Jim and I have become good friends over the past few years and his "Like" was greatly appreciated.  Name after familiar name popped up again and again and I was having the best time reading names and comments.  So, now for one of my replies: Dear Renee,  Thanks so much for making me feel young again and getting the chance to relive some of the best years of my life over again, if just for a fleeting moment.  Came at just the right time!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The "Yesterday .... All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away! : Part VII - The Ordeal!" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Struggling to sit since I have a rather large bag hanging on my side.  My Cryosurgery, aka Cryoblation or Cryoprocedure, took about two hours on Monday, March 6  according to witnesses.  Wasn't long before I was in my room in Lancaster General Hospital attempting to recognize my wife.  The rest of the evening is rather fuzzy as I slept off and on until the next morning.  Every hour a nurse would check on me, take my vitals and close the door on the way out.  At 6:30 am Tuesday morning, an associate of my urological doctor/surgeon peaked past the curtain and introduced himself to me.  Said he was going to go to the nurses station and sign my discharge papers.  In FIVE hours I was sitting in the passenger's seat of my youngest son's Toyota pick-up truck, headed home.  Most everything went as expected and as I described to you over the past 6 posts.  It is now time for recovery which seems to be OK so far, but with a few discomforts.  Besides having to have a catheter attached to me until March 21, I also must navigate the deep black and blue parts of my body.  Easy to rest laying down, but don't want to do that all day and night.  My appetite is returning which means more frequent visits to the bathroom.  Only trouble is that my bladder is now rejecting the catheter since the anethesia has worn off.  I have a call in to my urologist to try and get a prescription that will stop the bladder spasms.  The call came an hour later and I was told to take the pain medication that my urologist, Dr. Seiber, prescribed for me on my last visit.  Not gonna happen since I never had it filled.  I hate to take narcotics so I thought I could get by with over-the-counter pain meds.  My wife thought otherwise and headed to Walmart to fill the prescription.  Wasn't long before she returned, telling me that the doctor didn't write the prescription accurately and they wouldn't give her the pills.  They did call the doctor on call at my practice and he prescribed a non-narcotic over the phone which she had with her.  Took one and before long I was dizzy and nauseous.  Bed looked inviting and I was asleep in no time.  As of this posting I still have a week before my follow-up visit and hopefully the removal of the catheter.  Still tough to sit because of swelling, but my bladder spasms seem to be controlled by simple Tylenol.  Really getting bored with sleeping, sitting and eating.  For those of you who know me, you can imagine how terrible I feel not being able to do something.  

UPDATE: I am beginning to feel better and find it easier to sit, walk and get my catheter caught on just about anything in the house that protrudes.  Yesterday got the hose caught on the kitchen cabinet pull which caused some bleeding.  Heading out for the morning paper causes stares from the people sitting in their cars, waiting for the doctor's office across the street to open in the morning.  Made another call to my coach, Bill, whose name was given to me by Dr. Seiber, my urologist, as someone who has gone through the procedure and was willing to answer my questions.  He told me he could only sit and sleep in his lounge chair for the majority of the time before he returned to the doctor after two weeks.  We had a nice conversation and during our talk told him about my stories I am posting on my blog in hopes it will help others going through the same procedure.  He said he wishes that someone could have helped him with his anxiety and recovery after the procedure and that having stories to read would have certainly helped.  So, until hopefully my final story in a week or so, I hope at least one of you will benefit from the frank, but true, stories I have posted about going through prostate cancer surgery and the resulting recovery.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The "Beethoven's Last Bow" Story

Chuck Berry
It was a ordinary day.  Couldn't believe the news when I saw it: Chuck Berry, the singer, songwriter and guitar great who practically defined rock music with his impeccably twangy hits "Maybellene," "Roll Over Beethoven," "Memphis," "My Ding-a-Ling" and "Sweet Little Sixteen," has died.  He was 90.  Now, making it to 90 isn't anything to sneeze about, but being one of the top 5 guitarists of all time and being one of my favorites, well, that's enough to make you sneeze and cough at the same time.  I remember when John Lennon (remember him?) said, "If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry.'"  
Chuck doing his "Duck Walk" move.
He, along with Duane Eddy (of Rebel Rouser fame), caused me to give up playing my accordion and buy a guitar.  My parents weren't very happy about it, but the neighbors, Deb and Bob, in the other half of our semi-detached home, must have loved it.  I bought a book on how to teach yourself how to play the guitar and I sat, hour after hour, in my second-floor bedroom trying to learn the basic chords so I could sing along with Chuck.  So where does Duane Eddy come in?  He was known as the "Twanger" due to his signature way of playing the guitar and I naturally had to paint "Twanger" on the pick guard of my new guitar.  Could I sing?  Yeah!  Heavens, I was in the boy's choir at St. James Episcopal Church and sang solo a few times during the four or five years I was in the choir before my voice began to change.  

Also sang duets with my dad in the men's choir a few times.  My only solo gig was about a dozen years ago while singing "Amazing Grace" at a retirement home where perhaps half the attendees might have been dozing off.  My biggest problem was that I was SHY.  And, being a rock star while being shy don't go together.  Anyway, I was a rock star like Chuck Berry in my bedroom.  I loved the way he moved across the stage, hunched down, doing his one-legged "duck walk," as we sang one of his greatest hits together.  Put my 45RPM record on my desktop record player and picked my guitar as I listened to his stunning tone.  The more I learned and played, the more I realized how hard it was to play the guitar without looking at the frets as Chuck could do.  Mom and dad didn't care much for him since he was arrested in high school for stealing a car and robbing convenience stores at gunpoint.  But, they didn't care for Duane Eddy either or the fact that I ruined my good guitar by painting "Twanger" on it.  As soon as I turned 16 I got a job at a local department store working in the record department.  Loved the job since I had the chance to buy Chuck's records before anyone else.  
Early photo of Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry became the first inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and entered the Blues Foundation's Blues Hall Of Fame and earned a Grammy Lifetime Achieve- ment Award in 1985.  The reports online and in the newspaper tell of his most famous songs being "Roll Over Beethoven," "My Ding-a-Ling" and "Johnny B. Goode."  Not sure I totally agree since "No Particular Place To Go," "Nadine," Reelin' & Rockin'," "Maybelline" and "Rock and Roll Music" all are equally as good to me.  Chuck Berry, the legend, contributed three things to rock music: his irresistible swagger, his focus on the guitar riff as the primary melodic element and his emphasis on songwriting as storytelling.  Oh yeah, the five greatest guitarist of all time were: #1 Jimi Hendrix, #2 Jimmy Page of Led Zepplin, #3 Keith Richards of Rolling Stones, #4 Eric Clapton and #5 Chuck Berry.  A close #6 would have to be "The No Hit Wonder, LDub, the 'Twanger'."  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

PS - check out the Chuck Berry songs on this YouTube Video.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The "Did You Know Abraham Lincoln Was A Farmer In Lancaster County?" Story

Tombstone of Abraham Lincoln who was
buried in Bangor Episcopal Churchyard. 
It was an ordinary day.  Standing in front of the historic Bangor Episcopal Church in Churchtown, Pennsylvania.  Bangor was founded in 1722, being the first Episcopal congregation established in the central Pennsylvania region.  Some time ago I wrote a story about the very interesting church and also made a visit to the church to take photographs.  One thing I did not do on my first visit was to take a photo of the grave of one Abraham Lincoln.  Even though this Lincoln wasn't President of the United States, he lived at the same time and was the third cousin of President Lincoln.  Cousin Abe Lincoln caused quite a stir when he sent a letter to President Elect Abraham Lincoln on January 31, 1861. The letter was sent from Churchtown, PA and read:

Dear Sir:

     I have been spoken to frequently why I did not apply for an office under your Administration because I was a distant relation of yours, and bear your name.  Now I have my business and a good living, but I ask of you as a particular favor to confer an office on a young man in our neighborhood.  I recommend him as a good Moral Character, bright scholar, able to converse in German, English and tolerable good in french.  A splendid mathematician.  He requested me to write this letter to you, stating that it might be more desirable than a petition.  Now I would say give him an office he prefers as Collector at a port, and says he does not care if it is a southern port so it is not so far among the seceder.  He was our leading man in the campaign.  He is at present teaching our select school.  He can get as many signers to a petition as he wants; He can get the Hon. Thadeus Stevens name in fact all our respectable men in our neighborhood.  If you have no port to give him, enter his name for some other office and cause your clerk to write to him soon.  He deserves an office.  I claim to be an offspring from the old family of Lincolns, a second cousin of yours and if you have doubts write and I will explain the whole matter to you.  Direct your answer to Martin B. Lichty, Churchtown, Lancaster Co. Pa.  
                 Yours truly,
                 Abraham Lincoln
To Abraham Lincoln, Pres.
P. S. My Post Office is the same as his.

This is the actual letter that was written by Abraham Lincoln
and sent to President elect Abraham Lincoln, his second cousin.
This letter was found in the National Archives addressed to Abraham Lincoln, and signed by none other that Abraham Lincoln.  The letter was one of many thousand letters seeking federal jobs when it was known that Lincoln was going to be the next President of the United States.  
Closer look at he inscription on
the tombstone.  Click to enlarge.
Chances are that Pres. Lincoln never saw the letter since it wasn't marked as such and Martin never received a response or an appointment.  President Lincoln really was related to Abraham Lincoln from Churchtown, PA.  Their common ancestor was Mordecai Lincoln, who emigrated from New Jersey to Pennsylvania.  Mordecai's oldest son John was the future President's great-
grandfather.  John's half-brother, Abraham, was the grandfather of the president's Pennsylvania namesake.  And to top that off, President Lincoln's great-great uncle Abraham (John's brother) was very involved in Pennsylvania politics.  He served in the state General Assembly and attended the state's federal constitution ratification convention in 1787.  That Abraham married Anne Boone, a cousin of Daniel Boone.  Their son James Boone Lincoln became the father of Abraham Lincoln of Churchtown.  
The Abraham Lincoln from Lancaster County.
Understand all of that?  I'm not sure I do, but ..... the Abraham Lincoln from around here married Sarah Anderson Jenkins, never held office and was a proud Lancaster County farmer.  I finished my trip to Bangor Church by locating farmer Lincoln's tombstone and taking a few photos of it to share.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The "Swimming Around And Jumping The Wall" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Going over photographs on my laptop and came across a few sports-related photos I have taken in the past few months that I figured I could use at some point for a story.  Neither of them are worthy of a full story so I have combined them into one story.  Hope you enjoy a couple of stories that are about more than just sports. (1) A women brought a few items into the gallery where I work part-time a few months ago.  A big variety of items, but the one job I enjoyed the most was the five swim caps she brought in for framing.  Her daughter is a top-notch swimmer for a local high school as well as a swimmer on various summer and club teams.  
She wanted to have five of her daughter's swim caps framed to give to her as a memento of her high school swimming career.  Neat idea.  She gave my boss at the gallery free reign as to how to frame them. He in turn gave me a chance to help with the framing formatt.  The customer had told us she wanted two rows and told which hats to place on the top, so we were slightly limited with designs, but how to display the hats was up to us.  I measured the hats and cut circles from 1/4" conservation mat foamboard and then cut part of the circle off so I could "stuff" it inside the swim cap.  Worked perfect!  Three hats on the top and two the bottom with them offset worked.  The bottom mat board color was picked by the customer and I sewed the swim caps into place with fishing line.  The final result pleased her as well as me. (2) Carol and I recently visited our traveling friends Jerry and Just Sue in State College, PA and during our visit we made a side day-trip to Williamsport.  
One of two cabinets with lapel pins.
One of our stops was for lunch at a place known as Bullfrog Brewery in center city Williamsport.  Being that the town is the home of Little League Baseball and the world-famous Howard J. Lamade Stadium where the Little League World Series is played, I found the two show cabinets that occupied the wall next to our restaurant table to be very interesting.  A few years ago I wrote of the day we traveled to the stadium and I managed to get into the stadium and after jumping the outfield fence, run around the field.  Exciting, to say the least for a fellow who loved playing little league and dreaming of playing at Williamsport, but never being able to realize my dream.  That was until I took a trip around the outfield at the Lamade Stadium.  
Pins of all sorts filled the cabinet.
Well, the two cabinets held lapel pins from just about every year's World Series played at the stadium.  I loved it!  Not only just team pins from every team from every country that played in the series, but pins from umpiring crews, pins from company's that sponsored teams in the series and even a pin from the group that supplied the ushers.  
There was one pin that featured my favorite Buddy Holly
And then I saw it ... a pin that featured one of my favorite singers from the 1950s ... Buddy Holly.  Not quite sure why his pin was in the showcase, but I loved it.  One of the waitresses told me her father made the cases and when the Little League World Series is being played in town, the walls of the restaurant are covered with the cases.  Wow, I'll have to return to see that amazing display.  I must admit that the cases of pins were much more enjoyable than my meal!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The "The Finding Of The Green" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Walking through a field on our way to one of my grandson's little league baseball games.  My wife is lagging behind, looking for a four-leaf clover to give our grandson for good luck before the game begins.  Before long she stops, reaches down and pulls a four-leaf clover from the ground.  I just have no idea how she can do that!  I have never found one in my entire life and here she is, walking a few feet behind me, and she spots one.  Not fair!!  On other occasions when we take a walk, she will walk close to the edge of the path in hopes of finding a four-leaf clover.  Never fails, she comes up with one in a few minutes.  Takes them home, wraps them in Saran wrap, and sticks them in our grandson's back pocket when we see him the next time.  Does it help?  Who knows?  I guess if he gets a good hit or strikes out a batch of opposing players, it must have been the four-leaf clover.  So what are the odds of one finding a four-leaf clover?  Seems to be different for everyone, but for most people, myself included, it is 10,000 to 1 that you will find a four-leaf clover.  And, the odds are 1,000,000 to 1 that you will find a five-leaf clover.  Geeze, I didn't even know there were five-leaf clovers.  And, there are actually six-leaf clovers!!  Just to put this all in perspective, if you flip a coin, the odds are 2 to 1 that it will be heads.  So 10,000 to 1 is very high odds.  But, for my wife, her odds are ?????  Well, I guess you know by now that the reason I am telling you all of these statistics is that today is four-leaf clover day, commonly known as St. Patrick's Day.  The four-leaf clover first appeared in centuries-old Druid legends as symbols of good luck.  In the very early days of Ireland, Celtic priests believed that when carrying a three-leaf clover or shamrock, they could detect evil spirits and be able to escape before encountering one.  Four-leaf clovers were magical Celtic charms and would ward off bad luck.  It's often said that Ireland grows more four-leaf clovers than anywhere else in the world, leading the the expression "luck of the Irish."  Children in the Middle Ages believed they would be able to see fairies if they carried a four-leaf clover.  And, did you know that the four-leaves of the clover stand for faith, hope, love and luck.  The plant is really the Trifolium repens, or white clover.  A few other facts are: the word shamrock comes from the Irish word seamrog, which means "little clover"; if you pass along a four-leaf clover to your ... say grandson ... your luck will double; and Abraham Lincoln always carried his lucky four-leaf clover in his pocket ... except for that fateful night when he left it at home.  So, on this St. Patrick's Day, take a walk and see how lucky you may be in finding a four-leaf clover.  That is if you're not inundated with a few inches of snow as I am today.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

PS - check out this YouTube video showing someone finding four-leaf and five-leaf clovers as if he were picking up grains of sand on a beach.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The "When A Cup Of Tea Just Won't Do!" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Reading an article in a Lancaster, PA publication about favorite meals of our United States Presidents.  Seems that most had tastes according to the locale in which they were raised.  Some had modest tastes while others expected the finest cuts of meat and the absolute best wines.  One of the chefs at the White House during both Bush administrations as well as Clinton's administration, John Moeller, hails from my home town of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  He now runs State of Affairs Catering in Lancaster.  He reported that all three Presidents ate healthy meals while eating with family at the White House, but did engage in high-calorie meals at state dinners.  H.W. Bush enjoyed fish and seafood while Clinton and George W. Bush enjoyed John's Lancaster County chicken pot pie.  They also liked John's fresh-made chicken enchilada with pinto beans and rice.  George W. loved filet mignon and one day, while eating alone and having his filet delivered by the butler, sent the butler back saying there was nothing green on the plate ... and I like it!  W. also loved his Texas-made Blue Bell ice cream.  Thomas Jefferson enjoyed vegetables, olives, figs, mulberries, crabs, partridge, venison and light wines wile Andrew Jackson loved beef tenderloin with mini biscuits and jezebel sauce, roasted lamb chops and Hoppin' John (black-eyed peas and rice).  Woodrow Wilson liked chicken salad and strawberry ice cream, Harry Truman liked molasses on cornbread and cornbread dumplings, Dwight D. Eisenhower liked oxtail soup, Gerald Ford loved pot roast and red cabbage while Ronald Reagan enjoyed mac and cheese, meat loaf and hamburger soup (my kind of guy).  
Wheatland, home of James Buchanan.
Well naturally, James Buchanan's tastes had to come into the equation since he was from Lancaster.   Buchanan's absolute favorite meal was German sauerkraut since he tells of it in a few of his letters that were found in his home after his death.  Miss Hetty Parker, Buchanan's housekeeper was supposed to have made the best-ever German sauerkraut.  
The bottle of wine on display at Wheatland.
James loved his wine and when he died, over 200 cases of wine were found in his wine cellar.  On a recent visit to Wheatland, I saw an unopened bottle of 1827 Red Seal Madeira on a side table.  The food made for his inaugural ball included a sauerkraut coquette, filet of beef with Miss Hetty's Madeira wine mushroom sauce, potatoes and a root vegetable medley.  
The inaugural cake replica.
Click on image to enlarge.
Recently the meal was replicated at a local venue to celebrate President's Day.  At that gala a spectacular cake was created much like the one at his inaugural.  The cake was on display for some time at the Lancaster Historical Society's building along President Ave.  The cake took about 100 hours to create by two people and was meant to be walked around and viewed.  It included the stars and stripes of an American flag, a tier with drawers and items that might have been on Buchanan's desk and photos of the President.  I did get to see the cake and take a photo of it.  I'm not sure how edible it might be!  I'm sure if you did some more research you could find other delicacies that Presidents enjoyed eating while at the White House.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The "You Gotta' Be Kiddin' Me!" Story

An annoyed member of the family checks
the March snowfall from yesterday.
It was an ordinary day. Then the snow began to drop from the sky.  It's March 14 for goodness sakes; it's not supposed to snow!  Baseball season is around the corner and my son and grandson are busy practicing for the start of their little league season which begins shortly.  Did I say it was snowing?  And, not just a little snow ... we have more than a foot of snow on the back deck.  The cat is rather annoyed also, not being able to check out the perimeter of the property for vagrant wanderers.  Enough of snow to shut down the U.S. Post Office and postal deliveries, all schools, most churches and just about every senior center in the county.  The local newspaper sent me an email telling me to click on their link to get the online edition since many drivers wouldn't be able to make their deliveries this morning.  Well, I clicked on the link and found a story telling about the five biggest, "humdinger" snowfalls in the month of March since 1926.  Biggest one was on March 13, 1993 when we had 18 inches and was described as one of the worst blizzards of the century with wind gusts up to 72 miles per hour and drifts up to fifteen feet high.  March 16, 1956 brought 14.5 inches, March 4, 1941 gave us 14 inches, March 3, 1960 yielded 12 inches, March 19, 1958 sent 13 inches and March 3, 1960 left 12 inches on the ground.  
Back deck of our "Beach House" shows the latest snow.
But this snow is different, since I can't help my dear wife clear the walks and driveway due to my recent prostate cancer surgery.  Put a call in to my next door neighbors, Keith and Patti, who were both students in my Graphic Arts class; actually met for the first time in my class and evidently enjoyed it when I paired them to print one of the school's publications.  Patti sent her daughters and the boyfriend of one of the daughters over to clear the walks as a favor which was greatly appreciated.  Another former student of mine, Rick, who does my lawn treatments, showed up late afternoon and plowed the driveway and we are finally able to function once again.  Haven't heard yet whether the snowfall will be in the top 5, but I'm glad its over.  Feel so helpless when events such as that happen and I'm physically unable to pull my share of the responsibilities in the family.  So glad to have others that don't mind chipping in to give me a hand.  It was much appreciated, to be sure!!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Waiting for his feed.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The "A Fairy Tale Ending" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Grabbed the morning paper and headed to my lounge chair to read the news.  In no time Creamsicle, our orange and white tabby cat, was parked in my lap waiting to have his head scratched.  Opened the paper to the "Living" section and there, staring back at me, was the same little girl whose face I just saw a few days ago while leafing through the book my son gave me for Christmas last year.  
Book by Richard Hertzler titled "My Lancaster County"
Book titled "My Lancaster County" which features page after page of photographs taken by Lancaster Newspaper's staff photographer Richard Hertzler throughout his career and made into a coffee-table book last year.  The photo was a black and white taken in September of 1977 in eastern Lancaster County.  The photograph features a little girl with a welcoming smile and a young boy who seems to be less thrilled about having his photo taken.  It was featured in the Lancaster New Era, the daily evening paper in 1977, and eventually won Hertzler first place in Pennsylvania for a portrait/personality photo in an Associated Press contest.  At that time in history the photo was taken on film and the film was filed away for almost 40 years until retrieved by Hertzler for use in his book. Then a few months ago a fellow named Paul Reiff, who lives in Leola, a town in eastern Pennsylvania, saw the book and wanted to buy a copy.  He had no means of transportation and after calling the newspaper office found that Hertzler would hand deliver a copy of the book to him.  As he leafed through the first few pages while Hertzler stood by, he told Hertzler he thought he knew the girl standing by the garden gate.  
Newspaper article lays under the page in the book.
Richard left shortly after telling Paul to call him if he ever found out who the little girl might be.  Wasn't long before Paul left a message at the newspaper telling Hertzler that if he wanted to meet Alice, the girl in the photo, to call him.  Seems that little girl is now all grown up and has children of her own and the little boy in the photo, her brother, now lives in Iowa. Alice explained that back in '77 she and her brother stood by the gate while her mother was tending to their siblings inside the house which is where she still lives today with her family.  It's amazing that Paul was able to recognize this little girl and her surroundings and know that it was Alice.  He lives a hop, skip and a jump from where the photo was taken and somehow knew that it had to be Alice in the photo.  Something in the forehead and eyes of the little girl told him it was Alice.  Well, Hertzler recently got a chance to meet Alice once again and said it was like going back in time.  Was funny that the photo originally wasn't one that Hertzler had planned to place in his book, but his wife told him it was one of her favorites and after all, it one the Associated Press award.  And, if Paul hadn't purchased the book and seen the photo, Hertzler and Alice might never have met once again.  An amazing story with a remarkable ending.  Good things really do happen from time to time to good people.  This was one of those times.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The "I Just Want To Live Happily Ever After ... Now And Then" Story

Foreword:  Have a few tales to tell that are sort of interesting and sort of very short, so I thought I'd have them share a day in the life of an ordinary guy.  For those that haven't been reading my alliterative nonsense for the past 7+ years, my first story will give you the reason why I begin each post with the same sentence.  The other two stories are just some nonsense that I thought I'd share. 

Stuart Woods
Story #1.  It was an ordinary day.Story #1.  Time once again to rehash the reason for my beginning my stories with the same sentence as I have for over 2,700 times.  Doesn't seem like I have written that many stories, but it's true.  My blog began after viewing the movie "Julie and Julia" which was about a young girl who loved cooking and decided to write a daily blog using Julia Child's cookbook as her inspiration.  As for me, I decided to write a blog for something to do as well as to document my life's experiences so Ancestor.com had my history for those that want to know about my life's experiences.  Well, the blog began at a time when I had been reading Stuart Woods novels.  He began every book with ... Elaine's late!  Always thought that was interesting.  
Elaine's in New York
Elaine was an actual person who ran a restaurant in New York on the Upper East Side and who, evidently, was late from time to time to converse with her patrons.  The real Elaine died in 2011 and if I remember correctly, Stuart ceased from using that tag line anymore.  Since I enjoyed Mr. Woods' method of introducing his readers to his latest novel, I picked out ... "It was an ordinary day" as my introduction to my stories.  I spend web time viewing a travel site where one person recently posted: At various times, I have come across a blog where every entry starts with "It was a typical day,". Very interesting. Unfortunately, I can't find it. If you are familiar with this blog, would you please post the URL for the blog? Thanks ...   Well the next person posting gave the poster the link to my blog since they evidently read the stories.  So you see, my tagline helped me gain a reader.   

Wayne Carini in one of his automobiles
Story #2:  It was an ordinary day.  Waiting in the Miami airport for a connecting flight to some exotic island in the Caribbean when I needed to take a walk and stretch my legs.  Slowly walked past other people reading or dozing and as I passed this one fellow I slowed and finally stopped.  I knew the face who was buried in the USA Today newspaper, but couldn't place it.  Then it struck me ... Wayne Carini, who happens to be the star of "Chasing Classic Cars" on the television Speed Channel.  I said, "Wayne, I love your show."  He slowly put the paper down and smiled.  I knew right away it was him, but he quietly said, "You must have the wrong person," and continued reading his newspaper.  To this day I know it was Wayne Carini, an absolute legend in the car industry.  I watch his show all the time and just know it was him, but I realize that he gets that all the time and it probably gets old being a TV star and having people stop and want to say "Hi" all the time. 

Story #3:  It was an ordinary day.  Finishing typing a story for my blog about a woman who had been born on Valentine's Day and happened to die on Valentine's Day.  What are the chances of that happening?  I read years ago that some people believe that if you are born and die on the same day, it is a gift from God.  It tells the whole world that God was pleased with the efforts of this person.  Do you believe that being born and dying on the same day has anything to do with God or religion?  I'm not sure what I believe in this instance.  In the case of the woman I was writing about, she died on Valentine's Day which is a pagan holiday, so how can that be a gift from God?  

Story #4:  It was an ordinary day.  My brother had just emailed me a note telling me to take a look at the drink menu that he had sent to me.  Seems the place had a mixed drink called a "Little Larry" that was a Mini-Classic Frozen Margarita topped with Grand Marnier.  He thought I just had to have one the next time I visited the place.  Didn't sound good to me plus I had no idea what the name of the place may be and neither did my brother.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The "What Happens To My Sundial?" Story

It was an ordinary day.  An hour shorter, but still an ordinary day.  I suppose you know by now that in the United States as well as many other parts of the earth, daylight saving time began today.  Ben Franklin, the American inventor and politician proposed a form of daylight time in 1784 to make daylight last an hour longer.  I assume he did realize that daybreak would also last longer and normal sunrise times would be altered too.  Franklin wrote an essay about the subject and sent it to the editor of The Journal of Paris, suggesting that Parisians could economize candle usage by getting people out of bed earlier in the morning, making use of natural morning light instead.  Then in 1895 New Zealander George Hudson also proposed the idea, but it wasn't until April 30, 1916 that the German Empire and Austria-Hungary organized the first nationwide implementation of daylight saving time (DST).  It has been used by many other countries since then to help conserve energy.  But, daylight saving time does complicate international timekeeping as well as disrupts travel, billing, record keeping, medical devices and sleep patterns.  My computer and TV seem to have no trouble with it, but I'm not sure how it affects other countries and jurisdictions in the world as far as dates and timing.  Even when Franklin, publisher of "Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise", was American envoy to France, it was said by many, including me a minute ago, that he proposed the idea of DST, but it was meant more as a satire on economizing on candles.  He proposed taxing window shutters, rationing candles by rising earlier to use morning sunlight and waking the public by ringing church bells and firing cannons at sunrise, since it was said that Europe didn't keep precise schedules as I guess he thought they should.  Didn't matter anyway since rail transport and communication networks soon afterward required a standardization of time.  Today at 1:59 am the clock jumped forward to 3:00 am DST making the day 23 hours long while in autumn the clock will backup from 1:59 am to 1:00 am, thus making the day 25 hours long.  The coordination and shifting of time schedules must be almost impossible throughout the world.  The European Union shifts all zones at the same instant, 1:00 am Greenwich Mean Time while North America shifts its time zones at different times; with Hawaii and most of Arizona not even observing DST.  Australia districts shift times on different dates.  
Daylight saving time has caused controversy since it began.  Winston Churchill was all for it since it enlarged "the opportunities for the pursuit of health and happiness" for the people of England.  Traditionally, retail stores, sports and tourism love DST while agriculture and evening entertainment have opposed it.  And, did you know that on February 9, 1942, during "War Time" in the United States, a year-round daylight saving time began.  It was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was to help conserve energy.  Then in 1986 another bill was passed to make daylight saving time run from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October.  In 2007 it was changed and set daylight saving time from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November.  Wonder what will happen when the current administration takes charge of the clocks.  I'm sure it will be an amazing and great event.  My only question throughout all these time changes is: What do I do about my hand-made sundial that my friend John S. made for me years ago?  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The "Little Did I Know ... She Was An Educational Legend" Story

Camay telling us about Ernest Burke's baseball
shoes that are in the showcase in front of her.
Behind her on the wall are sketches of a proposed
bronze statue of Mr. Burke to be placed in the
city of Havre de Grace, Maryland.
It was an ordinary day.  Standing in a small building along the Susquehanna River in Havre de Grace, Maryland listening to a lovely woman telling the history of African American baseball players who played in the Negro League; one Ernest Burke to be exact, a resident of the town in which I am now a visitor.  He was born in Havre de Grace on June 26, 1924.  During WWII he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and was one of the first black U.S. Marines to serve in the war and earn a medal as a sharpshooter.  It was during his duty in the Pacific that he began to play baseball.  After the war he became a pitcher and outfielder for the Baltimore Elite Giants in the Negro American League.  He played for Baltimore from 1946 to 1949 and then joined the Pough-Kingston team in the Western League and finally played in the Canadian Provincial League.  
One side of a hand-out about
the display in the museum.
The display in the small second story
room of the Susquehanna Museum at the Lock House tells the story of Ernest, but the real hero in my eyes is the woman telling his story.  The woman, whose name is Camay Murphy is 90 years old and seems to be having the best time telling us about the young black baseball players who this exhibit is all about.  The entire exhibit honors the trailblazers of Negro League Baseball and Camay is well versed in the subject of baseball as well as educating the public about the Black baseball players impact on the game.  She talked with my wife and I, as well as our friend Just Sue, and when we asked her for her name and about herself she told us and also offered the information of being "Cab" Calloway's daughter.  Carol immediately said, "You mean 'The Hi De Ho Man.'" Camay immediately got a smile on her face and said, "Yes!"  Well, we made our way down the stairs and back to the car as we tried to remember a bit more about Camay's father.  
Camay is talking to Carol and Sue about the display.
Wasn't until I got home and Googled both Cab and Camay did I see just who we had been talking to a short time before.  Seems Cabel "Cab" Calloway III was an American jazz singer and bandleader associated with the Cotton Club in Harlem, New York during the era of Dizzy Gillespie and Adolphus "Doc" Cheatham.  In 1931 Calloway recorded his most famous song, "MInnie the Moocher", thus being given the nickname of "The Hi De Ho Man."  
An earlier photograph of Camay Murphy
Then a search of Camay told of her career as an educator who fought tirelessly to bring the arts into the lives of youth.  She was born on January 15, 1927 in New York City, lived in New York, but did spend her summers in Baltimore with her family.  She first taught in Alexandria, Virginia and then spent two years as headmaster at the Mayflower School in Ikenne, Nigeria before returning to teach once again in Alexandria.  From 1978 to 1993 she was the principal at Ashlawn Elementary School, a school recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School for its outstanding achievement scores, jazz program and renowned arts program.  
Ernest Burke in recent years. (June 26, 1924-January 31, 2004)
During those years as principal, Camay drove her ancient Mercedes 42 miles from her home in Baltimore to Ashlawn and then 42 miles back again at the end of the day.  Her love of music, as bestowed on her by her father, was responsible for Ashlawn having perhaps the only elementary school jazz band in the country.  She was also responsible for Arbor Day tree-plantings, poetry readings, "International Night", and personally teaching the school's children the "Electric Slide."  She was not only a first class educator, but an extremely caring person when children were involved.  And, I must admit, as I think back on our short time with her, I can just picture her in that roll as educator and humanitarian.  How lucky I was to have had the chance to talk to her about Black baseball players.  Wish I could have talked to her about education a bit more.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

June 26, 1924 – January 31, 2004

Friday, March 10, 2017

The "Can I Get Another" Story

Foreword:  Today's story was a tough one to write and I'm sure, for many of you, a tough one to read and understand.  The story is about a young woman who battled heroin addiction since she was in high school and recently died.  My main reason for writing this story is to shed light on the growing epidemic of addiction in hopes it will help at least one person, be they young or old, in conquering that addiction and save a family the sorrow that the family in my story is now suffering.
It was an ordinary day.  Reading the morning headline in the newspaper that seems to be screaming at me ... "IN HER OWN WORDS."  It was a few days ago that, as I scanned the obituaries in the paper, I came across a very sad obit that happened to include a poem written by a young girl who had recently taken her own life.  Girl by the name of Stephanie whose photo doesn't show the pain and suffering she has been through for the last 17 years of her life.  The obituary doesn't tell much more than the usual information: Age 32; died on February 25, 2017; name of mother, father, daughter, sister and nephew; graduated from a local high school; an animal lover; loved to write and read poetry; believed deeply in her Christian faith.  What it doesn't tell is the story of her illness of heroin addiction and how it affected her life as well as the lives of her family.  And, we probably will never know unless you have lived through it yourself.  But, her parents made the decision to speak openly about their daughter's addiction by placing a poem that Stephanie had written in her obituary.  They did this in hopes it would help at least one person.  Since that obituary in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania daily newspaper, over half a million people have read her online newspaper obituary and countless others have read the obituary that has been shared on social media.  And, that is why I am writing this story today ... in hopes that many more people, around the world, will read the poem Stephanie wrote.  The poem offers a harrowing account of a young woman and mother coming to grips with her addiction, mortality and the effect her death would have on her daughter.  Her poem was written on April 29th of 2013 when she knew what her fate was more than likely to be in the near future.  The poem follows as well as the link to the funeral home site so you can read the endless list of personal stories and condolences that have been posted on the funeral home site. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  Link: https://www.snyderfuneralhome.com/obituary/stephanie-m-evanko/

Author: Stephanie Evanko (wrote 04/29/2013) and unedited
To My family and Friends: I’m sorry that I’m such a Mess, I deserve all the evil words spoken to me, and all the time I’ve been disappointed. I don’t know what to even say. I hope that I’ll change and once again be okay. I do all the things I say I won’t do, my dreams & goals (YEAH). I threw them away too. I always claim that I’m a Mother, when in reality I act like a child, and constantly chase “ONE MORE” another. Every time I look into Savannah’s eyes, my heart breaks more because of all the lies, I hate the person that I have become, running from life and wanting to be numb. I ask myself over and over what will it take, I can’t keep living this way, not only for me but for my daughter’s sake. “Mommy was a drug addict and that why she is Dead” my daughter will say, along with broken memories of me in her head. She’ll go & visit my grave and constantly question just why I couldn’t behave. Didn’t I love her, wasn’t that enough making her feelings and trying to be tough. The holiday will come year after year & pass after I die, all because I was selfish & wanted to get high. My parents will raise her and try to do it right, they’ll try their hardest & put up a good fight. All sorts of emotions my mother will feel, and at time ask herself can this be real? Everyday she’ll feel anger and sorrow, trying to reassure my daughter there’s always tomorrow. My father would probably be filled with regret, and do things with Savannah he didn’t do with me, until all his goals are met. My sister would be disappointed & cry, she’d pray to God for the answers to Why? My brother-in-law would be the backbone, and hold his family when they sob & they moan. I’m so ashamed to even claim I’m a Mother, all I’m really worried about is can I get “ANOTHER”.