Extraordinary Stories

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The "Lancaster's Manufacturing Success" Story

Lancaster Malleable along Manheim Pike in Lancaster, PA
It was an ordinary day. My friend of over 65 years, Jerry, had just emailed me some information about a few photos I had sent to him asking if he knew any information about the photos.  The photos were from a foundry that he could see from the front porch of his house on Manheim Ave.  
The layout of the casting company.  Jerry lived to the
left of the railroad tracks which can be seen on the left.
Remember to click on photos to enlarge them.
I lived about a block from his house and but didn't know much about the work that was done in the foundry near his home.  Place was called Lancaster Malleable Castings Co. and was built in 1910.  At the time Lancaster, Pennsylvania was the fourth-largest manufacturing city in Pennsylvania.  Watch companies, silk and cotton mills, automobile factories and iron and steel mills were some of the many industries that boosted Lancaster to that position.  
Train along siding dumping coal to be used in the furnaces.
Lancaster Malleable was a newcomer to the mixture in 1910.  At first it was known as Lancaster Foundry Company which manufactured grey iron castings, padlocks and harness hardware.  Six years later the company began to produce malleable iron castings which are not as brittle as grey iron.  This was done by using a hand-fired melting furnace.  
These are core machines used for making cores.
Eventually they stopped making grey iron castings. For years the company cast parts for leading manufac- turers of mining, construc- tion, trucking, farm, hardware and electrical equipment throughout eastern United States.  Lancaster Malleable operated a complete pattern-making and repair facility and performed machining and finishing operations on many of the cast products they produced.  
Pouring molds with the molten metal.
The foundry was on the other side of the Pennsyl- vania Rail- road tracks from Jerry's home, fronting on what is known as Manheim Pike or State Route 72.  From the Manheim Pike side of  company we could see the furnaces melting the metal and see the sparks and molten metal run as they poured their molds.  Deliveries and pick-ups were made to the rear of the facility where it backed up to a siding along the main line of the railroad.  What I enjoyed the most about the place was the fact that they owned Stump Field which was about half a block from the factory on Fruitville Pike.  Stump Field was home of Lancaster's Red Roses which was a "B" level team in the Eastern League of Professional Baseball until they stopped playing at Stump Field in 1961. The field still exists and is still used for recreational baseball games.  The Lancaster Malleable Casting Co.'s plant was demolished years ago putting quite a few employees out of work.  The property sat vacant with a few of the concrete slabs from the original building all that remain of one of Lancaster's finest foundries.  Information as to why the plant closed is not available online. So, another childhood memory has passed away as if it never existed; at least physically.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

This is a sample of the work that could be done at Lancasater Malleable Castings Company.  I suppose these were sample or souvenir ashtrays that were made for customers.  The age of the product can be gauged by the fact that it is an ashtray which may be a rare find at an antique shop. Photo below is the bottom of the ashtray.

Parts of the foundation of Lancaster Malleable can be seen to the right in this photograph.  In the distance are homes along Manheim Ave.  One of these homes was the home that my friend Jerry lived in until he got married.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The "My Die-Cast Birthday Present" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Just arrived at my brother's house in nearby Ephrata, Pennsylvania to share a bowl of the chicken corn soup he recently made.  A few minutes after arriving he called me into his first-floor office and handed me a long, skinny, white cardboard box which had PenJoy Company printed on the box in red letters.
Logo of the Company who made my present.
"Happy Birthday!" he proclaimed with a big smile on his face. "But, my birthday isn't for a couple of weeks yet," I told him. "I couldn't wait that long. I just got this and thought I'd give it to you now," he replied. Steve has given be some pretty neat birthday presents in the past couple of years and I was excited to open it. No wrapping paper, but still exciting as I removed the lid and found a neat 1:64 scale die-cast metal truck. He knows I have several die-cast corvettes in my office and thought I would enjoy the truck.
My birthday present from my brother Steve. The PenJoy
Company is a leader of 1:64 scale die-cast metal trucks in
the world.  The trucks are made in the USA, with their
facility in Lancaster, PA.  Some parts of the trucks are cast
in Decorah, Iowa while others are made in nearby York, PA,
but the main factory is in my hometown of Lancaster.
What made it so neat was the logo scrawled across the trailer; Rocky Springs Carousel - Lancaster, PA. Rocky Springs had always been my favorite amusement park while growing up. Loved riding the carousel as well as all the other rides as a child and graduated to the big wooden rollercoaster, The Wildcat, as a teenager.  The antique carousel was handcrafted by the Dentzel company in 1923 and had 48 animals and two chariots.  The carousel was 55 feet in diameter, 26 feet high and weighed about 100,000 pounds. The music on the carousel was recorded in France from a Gavioli band organ. Over 150 original selections entertained the guests who rode the carousel. It operated at the Rocky Springs Park from 1924 until the park closed in 1987, then moved to Lake Lansing Park in Lansing, MI, and then on to Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN in 1990. Then in 1999 the carousel left Dollywood and currently is in storage, waiting to see if it will be returned to Lancaster once again. Lancaster had raised a large amount of money for it's return, but the location where it will be located is still in doubt.  Anyway, I now have a neat birthday gift with one of my childhood favorites on it to help me remember my youth. Thanks once again Steve. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The "Lancaster's Premier Skyscraper" Story

The entrance into the Griest Building. Click on photos to enlarge.
It was an ordinary day.  Standing in front of the old Watt & Shand Department Store in downtown Lancaster, Pennsyl- vania taking a photograph of Lancaster's first skyscraper on the other side of Penn Square.  Not the type of skyscraper like The Empire State Building in New York with its 102 stories, but the Lancaster type which was 210 feet tall with 14 stories.
The Griest building in the background.
Officially known as the W.W. Griest Building, but also known as the Lancaster Federal Building and PP&L Building due to these two businesses having offices in the building, it was designed by famous Lancaster architect C. Emlen Urban and built in 1924-1925.  It was named after William Walton Griest, an elected Republican Congressman who also served as a member of the Lancaster County School Board, chief clerk in the county's commissioner's office and as a member of the State Tax Commission.  Mr. Griest was a supporter of and endorser of the Lincoln Memorial in 1922.  The Italian Renaissance Revival style building had a steel frame faced with granite, limestone and terra cotta.  The 66 foot by 55 foot building has 3,600 square feet per floor with a 12th floor that once housed a 300-seat auditorium with a green and gold fresco ceiling.  
This is the Marriott taken from in
front of the Griest Building.  I tried to
make it look as small as I could!
Wish I had been able to find photos of the auditorium, but I was unsuccessful.  40 years ago a 53 foot tall tower was added to the top of the building.  In 1999 the building was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.  But, with those dimensions, the W.W. Griest Building is no longer the tallest skyscraper in Lancaster.  Our only other skyscraper, the building I am standing in front of to take my photo, now known as the Lancaster Marriott, which was renovated as a hotel and convention center and enlarged to 19 stories in 2009, holds that title.  The facade for the Watt & Shand building was also designed by Mr. Urban with the new Marriott addition blending nicely with the original architecture.  Being that I have lived in Lancaster all my life, and no matter how tall any new building may be, the Griest Building is still Lancaster's premier skyscraper and will always be just that.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

This photo of the Griest Building also shows Lancaster's famous Central Market tower in the center behind the Greist Building, Lancaster first City Hall next to the market tower and Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the center of the square.
This photograph shows the framework for the Griest Building.
An old postcard of the Greist Building.
Photo taken from the Marriott.
And, a second photo of the Griest Building taken from the 19th floor of the Marriott in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The "Two Trees That Made A City" Story

Corner marker in Lancaster, PA, the Red Rose City.
It was an ordinary day.  Standing at the intersection of West Chestnut Street and North Mulberry Street in downtown Lancaster taking a photo of the cross-sign.  Two unassuming city streets that carry the names of two of the most important city streets as far as helping develop the city of Lancaster.  
Tomb of Thaddeus Stevens.
At the intersection of Chestnut and Mulberry is located the Shreiner-Concord Cemetery in which Thaddeus Stevens, known as the Commoner, is buried.  But, both streets are much more than that.  When the Stehli Silk Mill came to Lancaster, PA in the late 19th century, raising silkworms and making silk were major industries in Lancaster.  
Fruit hanging from the Mulberry Tree.
Thousands of Mulberry trees were planted in Lancaster and Lancaster County for feeding those silkworms.  Mulberry Street in the city of Lancaster was lined with these trees.  Mulberry trees thrive in warm temperate regions so Lancaster was a good place to grow the trees.  The white mulberry tree is the only variety of mulberry tree that silkworms will eat their leaves, so that was what was what was grown in Lancaster.
Silk worms eating the leaves of the Mulberry Tree.
Domesti- cated silkworms are entirely dependent on humans and can no longer occur in the wild.  The moths, which cannot fly, lay their eggs on the Mulberry leaves and the worms hatch after 14 days.  The worms feed on the leaves and molt as they grow.  After molting four times, the larvae enclose themselves in a cocoon of raw silk produced by their salivary glands.  Inside the cocoon, a silkworm transforms into a pupa that emerges as a moth in about three weeks.  
The nuts developing on the Chestnut Tree.
The moths reproduce and die within five days, but in this time the female manages to lay from 200 to 500 eggs to continue the life cycle.  The cocoons are dipped in boiling water to kill the pupa and help unravel the thread.  Each cocoon contains a single silk thread that is about 300 to 900 meters, or 1,000 to 5,000 feet long.  Raising silkworms became a major industry in Lancaster until new fabrics were developed and Stehli closed in the mid-1950s.  Since then Mulberry Trees have been on the decline in Lancaster.  
The "fruit" or nut of the Chestnut tree breaks through it's cover.
As for Chestnut Street in the city of Lancaster ... Chestnuts began to be found in this area of North America about 9,000 years ago due to a warming trend in nature; sound familiar?  The Indians who inhabited Lancaster County and the European invaders who came to this area were able to exist due to the Chestnut tree.  The trees produced not only nutritious nuts, but rot-resistant wood for building houses.  I'm sure many Chestnut trees lined the street that bears its name until about 100 years ago when an imported airborne pathogen began to kill all the Chestnut trees in Lancaster County.  It now seems that there is a social movement that is going to try to restore the American Chestnut tree by breeding these trees so they are resistant to disease.  How they will do that is a mystery to me, but then I'm not a scientist.  Perhaps a hundred years from now the Chestnut tree will once again sustain life and create lumber for housing once again in Lancaster County, especially along Chestnut Street.  One can only wonder about the future, but for now, it seems that the Chestnut and Mulberry trees have little influence on the city of Lancaster as they once did.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.    

Friday, August 19, 2016

The "Blanche Nevin Comes To Life In Metal" Story

The 2016 Lancaster Red Rose Coin Club Medal
It was an ordinary day.  That time of the year once again when the Lancaster Red Rose Coin Club releases it's commem- orative medal.  The coin club was founded in 1958 and is a very active club with over 200 members.  I was introduced to the club a few years ago by my friend Dale who was the President of the club at the time.  Dale has since moved out of the state and is no longer a member.  This year a bust of Lancaster female sculptor Blanche Nevin is featured on the medal.  Blanche was born in Mercersburg, PA in 1841 and moved to Lancaster when her family moved here in 1855 so her father could become the President of Franklin & Marshall College.  Blanche eventually studied art in Philadelphia, the Royal Art Academy in Venice and at Carrara, Italy and spent much of her adult life writing poetry and creating sculptures.  
The horse drinking fountain
One of her sculptures, that of Revolutionary War General Peter Muhlenberg, stands in the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection.  She has other sculptures in prestigious collections throughout the United States.  A few years ago my grandson and I took photos of the two sculptures that she has made for the city of Lancaster, PA.  At the intersection of West Orange Street and Columbia Ave. stands a sculpture of a fountain where horses could stop and drink and on the other end of town in Reservoir Park on East King Street is the "Lion in the Park" sculpture that she did in 1905. The coin club medal is the 51st annual coin produced and I have written about a few other medals in the past.  The medals have been issued in fine silver (60) and in bronze (110).  A set of one in silver and one in bronze goes for $70 while a single bonze medal sells for $17.  
The "Lion in the Park"
I used to collect coins as a child, but as many other hobbies, I lost interest in it.  Often thought what might have happened had I continued my coin collection into my adult life.  But, I haven't lost any sleep worrying about it!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The "A New Breakfast Stop" Story

Waiting for breakfast at Augie's
It was an ordinary day.  Waiting outside Augies Restaurant on 9th Street in Ocean City, New Jersey to get a table for breakfast.  For years my family has been staying at a condo across the street from Augies for our yearly vacation in Ocean City, but we never considered having breakfast there until this year when my son-in-law, Dave, said that he entered "Restaurants in Ocean City" on TripAdvisor and Augies came up #3.  Had great ratings so we decided to give it a try.  
Located in the lower level of the Coral Sands Hotel.
The restaurant is actually located under the Coral Sands Hotel and I guess it never occurred to us that it would be a great place to eat breakfast.  Well, we finally were called for seating and we entered the restaurant and were seated at two large round tables.  The interior was homey and featured a traditional seashore theme as do most restaurants along the shore.  
Interior of the restaurants.
The menu featured Inter- national Omelettes, Specialty Omelettes, Jersey Fresh Omelettes, Tratitional Omelettes, Frittatas, Eggs and Scramblers, Waffles, Hot Cakes, French Toast, Breakfast Burritos and the one item that caught my eye ... Senior's Breakfast.  Now, if I'm eating at one of the restaurants that features my favorite, cake donuts, I'd probably be able to consume half a dozen with a glass of milk for dunking, but I don't need an omelette that has zucchini, squash, broccoli, mushrooms, green peppers and marinara sauce mixed in with three large eggs or a waffle filled with walnuts, raisins, apples and whipped cream.  
My son-in-law's breakfast omelette.
The Senior Breakfast which featured two eggs and two hot cakes was all I needed; that and a glass of orange juice, especially since I still had a donut or two left over from yesterday back at the condo that I had plans to pop in the microwave and dunk in a cup of milk.  The food arrived and we all enjoyed the conversation and nourishment and left knowing we had a new annual stop for breakfast which was only a minute walk from our condo.  And, I could see why it received the high rating on TripAdvisor.  Great food, courteous and quick service and a nice atmosphere.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The "Postal Memories From The Past" Story

Postcard that had been mailed in 1910
It was an ordinary day.  Looking at a book I had purchased a few years ago at a "yard sale" titled Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Post Cards.  Wasn't long before I came across an old post card that read under it … "Lancaster's ornate Moorish and Renaissance Revival City Hall was originally built as the Post Office."  The postcard had been mailed in 1910.  As I studied it I realized the building was across the street from St. James Episcopal Church in downtown Lancaster on North Duke Street.   Sometimes parked in front of it when I went to church at St. James.  I never knew it to be anything but Lancaster's City Hall, but as I looked at the old post card, I realized it was built originally as the post office.  
Another old postcard of the 1930 Post Office
Did some more reading and found that the Post Office that I knew was opened 20 years later on the first block of West Chestnut.   Thought I should take a photo of what I knew to be the Post Office during my lifetime so I headed downtown.  The building in front of me, as I snapped a photo opened in 1930 and was where my father's father, my grandfather Joseph, died in an accident when a mail package fell from above him and killed him.  
My recent photograph of the 1930 Post Office.
This building was built of Indiana limestone and is 15 bays wide and two stories tall with a one-story rear wing.  The design for the building came from the Office of the Supervising Architech, an agency of the United States Treasury Department that was responsible for designing federal buildings from 1852 to 1939.  The location of this building used to be where the Lancasterian School Building once stood.  Today it's only a branch building with the Postal headquarters now on the Harrisburg Pike, west of the city.  
One of the main entrances into the 1930
Post Office.  I can remember entering these
doors with my mom many times to buy
stamps and mail letters.
At one time there were a row of stores and offices across the street from this Post Office on Chestnut St. where a jewelry supply house known as Meiskey's was located.  The same store where my father worked after returning from WWII.  Tough to imagine working every day in a spot where you could look out the window and see where your father died years before.  This building now serves as a branch office of the US Postal Service as well as home to a few local businesses. It was sad to see the Post Office move to a more convenient and larger location, but the second Lancaster Post Office will always remain in my mind as the place where my mom and I visited for stamps and to mail packages.  Time goes on, but history is never outdated in the minds of those who lived it.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The "I'd Be Lost Without My Grandkids" Story

Granddaughters Courtney on the left
and Camille on the right.
It was an ordinary day.  Just got off the phone with my granddaughter Courtney.  Had to call her to ask a question about the operation of my Smart Phone.  Seems she is the smart one in the family and can answer all my tech problems I may have with my computer or phone.  As I sat staring at the little screen on my phone, seeing if I could remember how she told me to take a panorama photograph, I wondered if she would know how phones from my childhood worked.  Would she be able to dial a number on a rotary phone?  Then I thought about some of the other low-tech items that are now high-tech and wondered how she would fare if I: (1) asked her to roll up the window in the car or (2) go to a record store with me or (3) tape a show and rewind it for me or (4) hand me the clicker for the TV.  Got me thinking about the evolution of the tiny device I was holding in my hand.  Is time passing me by too fast?  Would she even know the name Alexander Graham Bell?  You know … the guy who invented the telephone while attempting to invent a machine that would transmit sound by electricity.  Did you also know that he refused to have a telephone in his study, fearing it would distract him from his scientific work.  Do you also remember his famous first words when talking for the first time on his phone … "Mr. Watson, come here; I want you."  He also invented the iron lung and helped bring Thomas Edison's phonograph to commercial practicality and experimented with hydrofoil boats and airplanes.  My guess is that he would have invented the Smart Phone had he been born in a different era.  And, I'm sure he still wouldn't want a phone in his study for fear it would distract him.  Heavens, my granddaughter has her phone glued to her hand at all times for fear she will miss a text, tweet, or whatever.  As for her old tampah, as I am called, I'm going to have to call her back on my landline after I finish writing this story, since I have misplaced my Smart Phone and forgot the number.  I'll have her call the number and listen for the ring in the house so I can locate where the Smart Phone has disappeared to. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The "Mother Knows For Better Clothes . . ." Story

It was an ordinary day.  Sometime in the early 1950s and Easter was fast approaching.  I was a choirboy in the St. James Boys Choir and since Easter was just around the corner I was in need of a new suit to wear on Easter Sunday.  Never had a suit in my life, but my mom and dad thought it was time for a "dress-up" suit.  My mother was a stay-at-home mom, as were just about all women with children, and my dad was a watchmaker and salesman at Meiskey's Jewelry Store in the first block of West Chestnut Street in downtown Lancaster.  We lived in a semi-detached home near the train station that sat next to a printing business.  What mom and dad lacked in monetary income they more than made up for it in their wanting the best for their two young sons.  So, to buy the suit I needed for Easter, they took me to Robert Hall.  
Robert Hall on West Orange Street
Robert Hall was located at the fartherest end of West Orange Street, right where it met Columbia Ave. which was also known as Route 30. For those readers who are too young to remember Robert Hall, it was a national clothing retailer who was famous for their plain stores full of clothing racks that offered budget-minded buyers reasonably well-made American clothing.  We entered the main door and headed to the right where the boys and mens clothing was located.  I was in awe of the place and could hardly believe I was going to get my first real suit.  I tried on a few suits and mom and dad made the selection for me.  I could hardly wait for Easter so I could wear my new suit.  But, that's not where it stopped.  Seemed that just about every year, depending on how fast I grew, we made another trip back to Robert Hall for a new suit for Easter.  Well, Robert Hall stores are long gone, having declared bankruptcy in 1977.  
Newspaper Advertisement for Robert Hall
Another part of Americana that is only a memory for me.  While doing some searching for this story I found a few neat items about the store that I never knew before.  Things such as their clothing was made in America, they were the first big-box retailer in the nation, most suits came with two pairs of pants, and the founder and head of the company wasn't named Robert Hall.  Guy by the name of Jacob Schwab was the founder and he just "plucked the name out of the air."  Now, there was also one thing that I will never forget and that was the jingle that I heard year after year on TV commercials.  But, the funny thing is . . . as I was writing this story I asked my wife what she remembered about Robert Hall and she looked at me and said, "Did you hear me singing the Robert Hall jingle on the phone the other night.  I was talking to Sue and we were both talking about the place and were singing the jingle together!"  I looked at her and said, "That's really strange because I didn't hear you!"  Now how strange is that?  Mental telepathy I guess.  Been around each other too long.  What is the chance I would decide to type a story about my first suit at the same time she and Sue were talking about shopping at the same store?  Anyway, I have added the catchy jingle at the end of my story for you to hear for yourself.  And . . . I believe one of the stores pictured in the commercial is the store where I got that first suit.  Another coincidence?  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The "Corn Wagon Of New Danville" Story

Making a selection at "The Corn Wagon"
It was an ordinary day.  My wife and I were each filling a plastic bag with Providence bicolor sweet corn.  Sign along the road declared 13 ears for $2.50 at "The Corn Wagon."  It was more than 40 years ago that "The Corn Wagon" began offering sweet corn for sale along the New Danville Pike in southern Lancaster County, PA.  
Vine ripened tomatoes look great
The Brenneman family began their business by parking a farm wagon along the road and selling sweet corn to anyone who cared to pull off the road and fill a bag with the summer vegetable.  Today "The Corn Wagon" sits about 50 yards from the road and has a paved parking lot with lined parking spaces for its patrons.  
Peaches are from neighboring fruit trees
And, today there were four wagons filled with sweet corn.  Also is a wooden produce stand and another couple of bins covered with tarps that held a variety of produce for its patrons.  "The Corn Wagon" has become a local institution known for selling their corn by the dozen plus one or a baker's dozen.
Paying for my purchases and heading home to make soup
All the corn that is sold is from the nearby 75 acres of farmland.  The place is now run by Jay Brenneman who has taken over the duties from his parents Clair and Jane.  The parking lot was full when we arrived near noon and the wagons of corn were starting to empty.  Carol and I gathered our corn, grabbed a box of peaches, paid the bill of $6.00 and headed back toward Lancaster.  Had to get home, husk the corn, cut it off the cob and prepare for making one of my favorites, chicken corn soup.  Nothing's better than a hot bowl of chicken corn soup and a couple pieces of butter bread for supper.  Lancaster County eating at its best!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.   

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The "Ricky Nelson Remembered" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Just took out my hearing aides and put them in my pocket.  The sound in the Mt. Gretna Playhouse was almost as unbearable as the heat and humidity on this hot summer evening.  Carol and I and friends Hal and Jeannie made a visit to the outdoor playhouse tonight to listen to the music of Ricky Nelson as performed by his twin sons, Matthew and Gunnar in what was titled "Ricky Nelson Remembered".  
The Nelsons who were the stars of Ozzie & Harriet
Our seats were in the center of the playhouse, about 20 rows from the stage.  Back in the early 1950s one of my favorite TV shows was "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.  It was known back then as an American sitcom and I watched it for years in black and white.  Show starred Ozzie Nelson, as the dad, Harriet Nelson, as the mom, and David and Ricky as the sons.  What's neat is that they were a real family and played themselves on the show.  Show ran 16 years and by the end of the run Ricky was a teen idol recording star who had the chance to sing at the end of most of the weekly TV shows.  He and Elvis have been considered the two top recording performers of their era.  Eventually Ricky, whose real name was Eric Nelson, married Sharon Kristin Harmon and they had 4 children before they divorced.  
Gunnar on the left with Matthew.  This was taken from
their Facebook Page, since photos weren't allowed
at the concert tonight.
Their twin sons, born in 1967, performed the concert tonight with their drummer Scott.  As the program proclaimed: Ricky Nelson Remembered is a unique multi-media entertainment event featuring the live music of Ricky Nelson's hit songs (including "Hello Mary Lou", and "Travelin' Man", "Garden Party") preformed by Ricky's own twin sons Matthew & Gunnar and includes never before seen big screen video footage of the Nelson family with interviews from celebrities influenced by Ricky Nelson.  

It was on December 26, 1985 that Ricky Nelson and his band died in a plane crash in DeKalb, Texas as they were flying from Alabama to Dallas for a concert.  Tonight my program is being used as a fan due to the intense heat and humidity, but the performers on the stage were really heating up the crowd with their show.  The most amazing feat of tonight's concert was the fact that with just three musicians they were able to duplicate the sound of an entire band.  
One more photo from their Facebook Page
Gunnar played a fabulous lead guitar, Matthew did unbeliev- able harmoni- zations with his bass guitar and Scott filled in the background with great drum renditions.  Some of my favorites tonight from the early Ricky years were "Teenage Idol", "Travelin' Man", "Hello, Mary Lou" and "Lonesome Town", but the real hit of the evening was from Ricky's later years when the brothers sang "Garden Party" with the bass guitar being featured quite a bit.  I loved the big screen shots of the old TV show and all the Ricky remembrances, but for me the constant story telling throughout the show was too overwhelming.  I went for the music, but the narration seems to be the biggest part of the show.  Matthew and Gunnar are great performers with great musical talents and I wish I could have heard their voices more.  I would have remembered Ricky Nelson better that way. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

Friday, August 12, 2016

The "Friends For Life" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Thinking back to perhaps a year ago when this beautiful young sweetheart named Kennedy came into the life of Carol and myself.  The girl with the curly hair and "Why" to everything has stolen our hearts.  
My granddaughter Courtney had
a chance to meet Kennedy.
I have written about her quite a few times, but she is a truly a walking and talking wonder and miracle of modern medicine.  My latest post a short time ago described Kennedy and her family's trip to Disney World through the generous gift of the "Make-A-Wish" foundation.  Today's post is to tell you that Kennedy was featured on the cover of Pediatric INSIGHTS, a physician resource from Children's hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and she will also be named poster child for the Living Donor Recipents in the near future.  The 2016 Pediatric INSIGHTS magazine features a photo of Kennedy on the cover with a blue ribbon in her curly hair, wearing a jeans jacket and sporting her bright red glasses.  The three-page story is titled Friends for Life and tells of the two families who connect to treat a rare disease with a successful living-donor liver transplant.  Story tells how, when Kennedy was 8 months old, she had a seizure which prompted Kennedy's mother, Donya, to take her to the nearby Clinic for Special Children in Lancaster, PA.  
Cover of Pediatric INSIGHTS
They met Dr. Kevin Strauss who finally recommended a liver transplant.  Donya posted on her "Facebook" page … "Okay friends … here it is … the request of a lifetime.  Is there anyone willing to donate 25 percent of their liver to save Kennedy's life?  Trust me, I know its's a lot to ask, I can't even believe I'm posting this, but as a mother, I have to exhaust every option possible".  Soon, a message from a high school classmate, Mike Thompson, from Bethlehem Catholic was posted.  He wanted to help Kennedy!  He wrote: "I'm a firefighter, so I help people every day, but to help somebody like this is just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  It's just the right thing to do."  All tests showed Mike and Kennedy were compatible and the eight hour surgery to remove 25% of Mike's liver and rush it across town to Children's Hospital to Kennedy was a success.  Kennedy improved immediately, astounding the doctors.  That was over a year ago and Kennedy recently went back to the hospital to have the muscles in her chest sewed back together.  Originally they were left apart in case she would have needed more surgery to the liver.  The latest surgery was to keep her in the hospital for a month, with a special staff assembled to combat the pain she would experience.  But, she was up, swinging a hockey stick with her step-dad Josh the second day after surgery.  Went home six days after the operation amazing the doctors once again.  She has been to visit us and you wound never know this child had gone through major surgery a few weeks ago.  She is as sassy as ever!  The article reports that Kennedy's prognosis is good and explains that living-donor transplant increases the number of organs available.  It's a real solution to a real problem.  Kenndey is the living result of this statement.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The "The Home Of USA Field Hockey" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Walking through the Spooky Nook sports complex hunting for the USA Field Hockey Teams practice field.  It was back in 2013 that it was decided to create a "Home of Hockey" in the Northeast where field hockey is most prominent.  At the time the Lancaster-Lebanon League had more than 100 girls participating on the collegiate level in Divisions I, II and III.  My nephew's  high school girlfriend had participated in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and did very well for the team.  Seems that Pennsylvania is a hotbed for field hockey so to have the National Team located in Pennsylvania is just a natural fit.  The team had been in Chula Vista, California and was planning to make their move to Lancaster as soon as the Spooky Nook venue was completed.  
The fence tells the story that USA Field Hockey is here.
At present, Spooky Nook Sports is the USA Field Hockey's team base for many elite, junior and develop- ment events, including host of the National Futures Champion- ships, Futures Elite Championship and the National Club Championship.  The indoor center is the permanent host of the National Indoor Tournament.  The state-of-the-art facilities includes two water-based turf fields with one being under a climate-controlled dome, six additional artivicial surfaces and over 700,000 square feet of indoor space.  
The outdoor turf field at Spooky Nook in Lancaster County
Locker rooms, strength and condition- ing facilities, conference and lounge area, as well as office space are provided for the team.  The building where this entire facility was built used to be the former Armstrong World Industries Inc. flooring distribution center which is located on a 65-acre plot of land.  The former owner of Auntie Anne's Soft Pretzels, Sam Beiler is responsible for the development.  The coach for the Olympic team is Craig Parnham who holds a master's degree in Elite Coaching from the University of Central Lancashire in England.  He is an avid reader of literature on how to create a winning culture.  He was a member of England's field hockey team and got to play in two Olympic games.  After 2004 he retired from playing and took a position on the sidelines as a coach.  He became the USA coach in 2013.  
Entrance to the indoor pressurized dome is through this door
This year's USA team has two players on it from the Lancaster, PA area with Alyssa Manley, who is from nearby Lititz, and Jill Witmer, who resides in Lancaster.  There are 16 team members with 11 of them coming from the state of Pennsylvania.  For those of you who know very little about woman's field hockey, here are a few tip's for you: (1) a match or game consists of 2 halves, usually 35 minutes each, and begins with a pass back (a nondefended pass from one teammate to another at midfield); (2) there are 11 players to a side on the field, one of whom is a goalkeeper.  
Beautiful indoor domed facilities
There are no offsides; (3) the ball must be passed or dribbled down the field with the flat side of the stick; (4) other than the goalkeeper, no player may play the ball with any part of the body; (5) goals, which are worth one point, are scored when the ball crosses the goal line between the goal posts after being touched by the stick of an attacker within the circle; (6) a free hit is awarded to the non-offending side following an infraction and is usually taken at the spot the foul occurs.  As for me, my daughter played 4 years of high school field hockey and I never understood all the rules, even after 4 years.  I'm not sure the officials knew them either.  But, watcing the girls play in the Olympics will be a highlight of these Olympics for me, since I have been reading story after story in our hometown newspaper about just about everything and anything related to field hockey.  And, my trip today to take a few photos of the place where they trained really has me psyched for the team.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - if you have been following the team at the Olympics, you know they are undefeated and will play tonight to qualify for the quarter-finals if they win.  Go USA!