Extraordinary Stories

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The "I think he is dead" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were gathering after school at the Lancaster Train Station for a pick-up football game on the grassy area to the west of the station. The weather was chilly that day, but we still managed to get about 10-12 kids for the game. We were all in elementary or junior high school. Dave G. was the biggest and toughest so everyone wanted to be on his team. On the day of my story I was one of the lucky ones who had Dave on my side. The kids who lived on the east side of Prince Street usually were on one team while the kids from the west were on the other team. Dave and I lived 1/2 block apart so we usually were together, much to my mother's liking. She thought Dave was a bad influence on me. More on that in another story. The game began and we took turns on our team being the quarterback (passer or runner), end (usually the fastest who could outrun the others to the line of pine trees), or a blocker. As I remember, the game was pretty even as it usually was since we divided the players so each team would have a few good and a few bad players. It was the end of the game when something happened that I will never forget. How did I know it was the end of the game? Well we usually played until someone got hurt or it got dark. It was my last play! I was the hiker and the lead blocker for big, tough Dave. I was probably half his size and as skinny as can be. "Hike" he yelled and off we went around the corner with me leading the way. All of a sudden there was Jerry H. and Dick B. in our way. Well, Dave used me as shield as if he were in battle and wedged me between them and him. I was crushed between all of them. I fell to the ground. All I remember was everyone gathered around me and someone said "I think he is dead." I had never had the wind knocked out of me in my life, but I did that day. ALL OF IT! I remember gasping for breath and seeing my life past in front of me (what life I had in that short time). Some people scattered, but some helped me to my feet and my breath started coming back to me. It was the last time I played football at the train station. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The "Don't ever pack up the bats 'till it's over" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were in a holiday baseball tournament. My friend Wayne and I were coaching the "White Sox" midget-midget team. This is an 11-12 year old team that our sons Tad and Chad play on. We were in the championship game, the second game of the day we had played. The games are 6 innings long, plenty long for kids that age. I had used my best pitcher earlier in the day to make sure we would be in the evening game, but we had a talented team and I knew Phil L. would pitch a great game. We were playing Columbia which was a team from the western part of Lancaster County along the Susquehanna River. They have great pride in all their sports teams and brought a large crowd with them. The game was close for the first few innings, with the lead going back and forth. We were batting in the bottom of the 5th and built a comfortable lead. The section of Lancaster where the game was being played was a small park in a high crime area and we were told to keep an eye on our equipment. After we built the lead in the bottom of the 5th, and my team was taking the field for the top of the 6th and final inning, I had my bat boy help me put the bats away so we could celebrate without concern for the equipment. Well, you NEVER, EVER put the bats away before the game is over. I KNOW THAT, but I did it anyway. Shouldn't have. They tied the game and forced us to bat in the bottom of the inning. We had the winning run on second base with 2 outs and our best hitter Jeff M. at bat. I am coaching at 3rd base. Jeff M. lined a hit to left and the runner on second base, Chad W. sped toward 3rd base and was watching ME to see if I wanted him to try and score. I was frantically waving my arms to send him home. He rounded the bag then BAMM! HE RAN INTO THE UMPIRE! How can that be. Well it be. The umpire was standing in foul territory near me on the third base side watching the game and not paying attention. Easy out since the 3rd baseman got the ball and tug him out while he was getting up. I protested and protested, but to no avail. I still believe to this day the umpire had no right to be standing where he was. He cost us the Championship Trophies because we lost in the 11th inning. Really was my fault though, because we packed up the bats before the game was over. You NEVER, EVER do that!! No excuses LDub! It was an extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "Switch" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were on our way to Annapolis. We were staying in Betterton Beach, MD for a week's vacation. We needed to get to the other side of the Chesapeake Bay so we checked the map and found if we traveled the Chesapeake Bay Bridge it would bring us directly into Annapolis. We followed the directions and soon were at the beginning of the bridge. This is a beautiful structure over the bay with a section on the east side that is flat for some distance before it rises and RISES to the top so the large boats can cross under it. The traffic was heavy that day, both in the water and on the bridge. My wife was pointing out the barges and freighters as I drove, not taking my eyes off the road ahead. Now, I have driven over bridges for 35-40 years and never once have had any trouble, but for some unexplained reason I just couldn't handle this. It hit me as we started the incline to the highest point. My wife looked at me and said, "what's the matter?" I was sweating heavily, but had cold chills. "I can't do this" I told her. "YOU HAVE TO!" she replied. Well, I couldn't!! I kept my foot on the pedal, closed my eyes, and kept the speed at what I thought was 55MPH while she steered, from the passengers side. Now, you have to remember how high we were above the water. I certainly did! Needless to say she did it. As we descended she told me we were near the bottom and I opened my eyes and took over again. After a very enjoyable day we switched positions on the way home so she could steer AND push the pedal at the same time. This tended to be a problem for a few years after as we would always change positions for the trip over large bridges. I finally gained confidence again and now have no trouble, but it was a scary few minutes that day my friends. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The "Butterfly Farm" Story

It was an ordinary day. My wife had made plans to go horseback riding and I was going to stop at the St. Martin Butterfly Farm. I dropped my wife off at the stables and watched as they prepared the horses and leave for the 2 hour trip through the country-side and beach ride. A few hundred yards down the same road is the Butterfly Farm. Extremely interesting. It is about an acre of area that has been covered with a large net, much like a tent. The netting is not so much to keep the butterflies from escaping, but to keep the birds and other predators of the butterflies from getting in. As long as you have the correct foliage and nourishment for the different types of butterflies they will stay. I had never seen such a variety of butterflies. Butterflies from all areas of the globe that had the same type of climate that St. Martin has which is a hot and humid climate since the island is located in the Caribbean. They are in all stages of life from the cocoons to the mature butterfly. I questioned about the Monarchs we have in our area and how they migrate each year. I was told that it is usually the 3rd generation of butterfly that reaches the destination that they started out to reach since the life span of the butterfly is very short. Usually weeks to a few days. Before I left for my adventure I packed my camera and made sure the batteries and card were ready. I also shaved and put aftershave lotion on. This proved to be the best part of my story. It seems that the butterflies are attracted to sweet flavored and sweet smelling items. That would be my aftershave! Since I have NO HAIR and plenty of area to smear the aftershave on, they were in love with me. As I entered the area where the mature butterflies were located, they found me right away. My head was covered in a variety of colors. I could hear the clicks of the cameras. Finally someone asked if I wanted them to take a photo with my camera. Sure would! Well with all the commotion and me moving around handing the camera to my new friend, they started to exit the area. My camera friend did get a shot of me with one of my more adventurous suitors. Had a great time! It was just another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The "Parade" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was up very early and had just finished detailing the '87 Vette for the Millersville Parade. The Corvette is bright red with a removable top. Not a spot on it! It also has a 5 speed manual transmission and does not lend itself very well for parades, since you have to ride the clutch the entire time. The Lancaster County Corvette Club has volunteered to drive the Homecoming Queen candidates in the annual parade throughout the town of Millersville, PA. We start to assemble at a church about 3 miles from the football stadium which is our final destination. I am next to last in line. All cars receive candidates except the last car. Either too many cars or not enough good-looking coeds for candidates. The parade starts. All is well for the first 2 miles and then we start up a fairly steep incline. RIDE THAT CLUTCH. My candidate starts to smell what I am smelling. It is called "burning clutch." "What is that terrible odor?" I hear from above me on the open roof. "That would be my clutch" I respond. I'm sure she probably had no idea what a clutch is, but I told her anyway. Well, about 20 feet later the clutch pedal went the whole way to the floor. The parade was over for the '87 red Vette and its owner. Lucky for me and the candidate that I wasn't the last vette in the parade. My fellow vette club member helped me push the car to the side of the road and we hoisted the candidate onto his roof. She got to finish the parade, but not in style. You see the vette behind me was silver and not red! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "Scissors" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just arrived at the Baltimore Airport for our family trip to Disneyland. The "We" is LDub, wife Carol, sons Derek and Tad, and daughter Brynn. It is our first trip EVER on an airplane and needless to say, our first trip to Disneyland. We are passing through security and for some reason they have asked to see my carry-on. I open it and they ask "what are you planning to do with the scissors with the 8 inch blades?" "You never know when you might need them when you are on vacation with the family" I respond. Since this is pre-9/11 they pack the scissors back in my bag and off we go. The plane ride was both stressful and exciting for everyone. We arrive in Orlando, get our luggage and make our way to the rental car company to pick up our ride. After arriving at the motel we start to explore Florida. Typical Florida weather our entire trip with hot humid days and afternoon showers. The afternoon shower time is great for naps since the kids are all fairly young and the parents are both getting older. We all really enjoyed touring Disneyland and riding the rides, but Epcot had just opened and most of it was unfinished. We all agreed that our trip to Seaworld and getting to "fish" for oysters with a pearl in them was our favorite stop of the vacation, so we returned for a second day. On the last day of vacation we stopped for our evening meal at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Take-out. We returned to the motel and prepared the table for supper. All gathered around the table and we opened the bucket of chicken, containers of slaw and mashed potatoes and freshly made biscuits (my favorites). "What do we eat with?" one of the kids said. No clue! Seems they forgot to give us eating utensils and there were none in the room. Well you know what I did don't you? I went to my carry-on and got out the scissors with the 8 inch blades. I cut large scoops for serving the food and smaller spoons for everyone to eat with from the empty chicken bucket. Worked well since the bucket had a waxed coating on it. Spoons seemed like they had a Teflon coating. Pretty neat! Now when we travel I must pack the scissors in my check-on because of new security regulations. Oh, well. It was an extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The "Lunch Money" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was in 5th period class with my Graphic Arts II class. This class was for students who had successfully passed Graphic Arts I. I divided the class into 3 areas: Still Photography, which they took for 1/3 of the year, Screen Printing which was 1/3 of the year and Offset printing which was the final 1/3 of the year. The class had about a dozen students in it so they really got individualized instruction. Really fun class to take and to teach. In this class was my son Tad and his classmates. He and most of the class called me dad instead of Mr. LDub. The class was getting ready for the class to end for the day. We ate lunch immediately after this class. This day as it is on many other days, as I was checking my roll book one more time, Tad appeared directly in front of me and asked if I had any money for lunch. Seems he had forgot his money again. He was standing so I could not see past him. After pulling out my wallet and giving him the necessary amount, he moved to the side. Directly behind him was Ryan G. with his hand out. "Any money for me, dad." Get out of here I said jokingly to him. As he moved there was Greg C. with yet another hand. They all tried that day. Makes you feel good, really! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "First Car" Story

It was an ordinary day. It was the fall of 1960 and I had just bought a '53 Henry J. For those of you who have no idea what that is, it is a car made by the Kaiser-Fraiser Automobile Co. A company way ahead of their time, but not too far ahead for Ldub. It was a 4 cylinder, 3 speed, 2 door which was Burgundy in color. I loved that car! I purchased it from my mother's cousin who lived in Annapolis, MD. It had to be towed to Lancaster, since it did not run. Hey, I only paid $50 for it. Money I earned selling guinea pigs. How many guinea pigs do you have to sell to buy a 7 year old Henry J that doesn't work you might ask. Well, that's another story! My dad knew a mechanic who examined the car and decreed a new generator would do the trick. After a trip to Angellini and Groff junk yard I was on the road. My second trip to the junk yard was for a radio which I mounted under the dash and added a few extra speakers so I could hear the radio with the windows down. For Christmas that year my parents bought me spun aluminum moon hubcaps. Really neat if you know what they are. In the spring my uncle helped me paint the car in his garage in Strasburg, PA. After taping all the chrome (real chrome) and windows and closing all the doors to the garage, he got out the spray gun and went to work. The next day we discovered there was as much paint on the inside of the garage and its contents as there was on the car. Lucky for me it wasn't may garage. The car looked great, kind of! IT WAS ORANGE. It didn't look anything like the paint sample. Oh, well. I used it to drive to work at the Acme Supermarket, to school, to church, on dates (maybe once) actually everywhere. Then one night.........I remember it well. I had parked the car in front of my house on North Queen St. right next to one of the few trees on the block. You think you know what happened next, but I bet you don't. About 3 AM my parents woke me and told me that someone had hit my car. Boy, did he hit it! He hit the car on the driver's door and pushed it into the tree. The driver's side door was only about 2 feet from the passenger's side door. The driver had taken off, but my dad saw the car and reported it. They later caught the culprit and arrested him for DUI. Well, my car needed some work. I got a large jack and pushed the doors back into a usable shape. I had no rear window anymore and the side windows wouldn't go up and down anymore (probably were in a thousand pieces), but the windshield was intact. You had to enter the "Dukes of Hazard" way, but it still ran. Used it for work a few days later. Close to the end of my shift they called me into the Acme office. Seems the police needed to talk to me about the piece of junk I had parked out front. I explained what had happened and they sympathised with me, but told me never to drive it again. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The "Woops" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was opening the big box that I had just picked up at the newspaper office. Inside were the team jackets that were a prize from the Lancaster New Era for winning the "New Era Tournament." This is the local equivalent of the World Series. Teams which win their individual leagues throughout Lancaster County are invited to participate in this tournament. I was the coach of the team that had FINALLY won after many years of trying. We have age groups for Little League Baseball which start with 9-12 year olds (midget-midgets), 13-14 year olds (jr. midgets) and 15-16 year olds (midgets). I took over the Manheim Township team with my friend Wayne P. when our sons, Tad and Chad, were 11 years old and we managed to come in as runner-ups that first year. It seems that a team from the lower end of Lanc. Co. had a youngster named Rob B. who eventually was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies and we just could not beat him. No one else could either. As 12 year olds we tried again and came in 2nd. Again as 13 and 14 year olds we were defeated. It was still a tremendous accomplishment to make it that far, but we were determined to beat them. In our first year as Midgets we finally made it. I must tell you that Rob B. hurt his arm half-way through the season and his team didn't even make it into the tournament. We played a team from Lancaster Township in the finals and whopped them good! Hey, we'll take it any way we can. As a reward we were treated to a game at Veterans Stadium in Phila. and team jackets. Our jackets were bright red with the MT logo on them. On the back was "Champions, New Era Tournament". Pretty neat and prestigious to wear around town. Each player had their name embroidered on the front. Wayne and I opened the jackets and admired them. Uh-Oh! As I held up my jacket Wayne P. began to laugh. I looked and saw that instead of "Coach Woods", it said "Coach Woops". Seems they embroidered the "d" upside down. Pretty hilarious. Not to me. I was kind of upset. I called and they apologized and said they would have it corrected. Easy for them to say, but to the rest of the team I am, to this day, Coach Woops. Just an extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The "Lost Skiing" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were on vacation and staying at Kentmore Park which is located on the Sassafras river. The Sassafras River is one of many rivers that empties into the Chesapeake Bay. We were with our friends Sandy and Gary H. and their 3 kids. Our daughter had a friend along this year to keep her company. It was water skiing time! Gary had bought a bowrider after our first vacation together when he discovered there was nothing to do at the bay if you didn't have a boat. We loaded the boat for the afternoon adventure and headed out into the center of the river. The depth of the river at this point was about 10-12 feet. Everyone had given the skiing a try with Rob H. and Tad W. being accomplished with one ski and Brynn W. and Kristen almost as good. The last one left to ski today was LDub, since Gary only drove the boat. I can't iceskate, rollerskate, skateboard, or ride a horse, but I can ride a bike and waterski. Yea, I can ski, but I do need 2 skis to keep my balance. Same reason why I need 2 wheels on my bike to keep my balance. I put my lifevest on and moved to the back of the boat to enter the water. Everyone wished be good luck and I jumped in the river. I immediately felt something moving down my arm, across my back and down my leg as I started to surface from the jump. Scared the crap out of me. As I popped out from under the water I yelled that something was in the water right under me. As the same time I was saying this Kristen looked at me and said, "MrDub, didn't you have glasses on when you jumped in the water?" "Why yes I did." I felt my face for them and immediately realized that the scary thing I felt was now under me in 10-12 feet of water. MY GLASSES! Now what do I do? Well I went skiing! Didn't do bad either. After returning back to the dock I started to plan what my next step would be. I can't see more than 15 feet clearly without my glasses. I needed them to drive. Gary wore glasses. OK. Hey Gary, let me try your glasses. One of the lenses was very close to one of mine. I called my optometrist and made arrangements to have another pair of glasses made right away. Brynn and Kristen went with me to Lancaster to get my new glasses. I wore Gary's prescription sunglasses and kept my one eye closed. I picked up my new glasses, we grabbed a quick bite for supper and made it back to Kentmore Park before dark. Just another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The "Reverse Oreo" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just checked into the Divi in Barbados. Nice place! Seems we had a parking lot view with no TV in the bedroom and no microwave in the kitchen, both necessary items. Our friends Jere and "Just Sue" had a beautiful room by the swimming pool. And I made the arrangements!! NOT FAIR. Needless to say we complained and were moved into a room facing the parking lot on the other side of the complex. At least it had a TV and microwave. We unpacked and decided to explore. We met some fellow travelers who were staying at the Divi with us. Rocky and Sue and their 2 young girls. Seems Rocky was a native Barbadian who met a young girl from England who was on vacation in Barbados, fell in love, moved to England with her and had 2 children. They came back to Barbados every year for vacation so he could see all his friends and relatives. We got to talking and I asked him what he did when he lived in Barbados. He was a high school teacher. So were Jere and I. He told us he taught something called "Industrial Arts." Did we know what that was? You betcha, we both taught industrial arts. To our suprise there were many other coincidences. Well, we had to get a photo of the 3 shop teachers, didn't we. Rocky's wife Sue, my wife Carol and Jere's wife "Just" Sue grabbed the digital cameras. Posing took place. We put Rocky in the middle and we all wrapped arms around each other. 2 old white guys around a young black fellow. As the flashes went off, Rocky looked at me and said, "This is like a reverse Oreo." It was just another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "Hawaiian Gas Station" Story

It was an ordinary day. I had just dropped my wife Carol and our friends Jere and "Just" Sue off at the riding stable in Maui. They had made reservations to go riding through the countryside and the pineapple fields. I had opp-ed out because I don't like to ride horses. My legs just don't go right on the horses, but that's another story. I waited with them until someone came and picked them up at the stable to take them to where the ride would start. I told them I was going to go on a self-guided tour of the area and head to the post office to drop off the dirty wash. You see we had packaged up some of the dirty clothes and I was going to mail them home so we would have more space in our suitcases for souvenirs. Neat idea, isn't it! I thought so. I had an enjoyable time driving around and visiting a few stores, then headed to the post office. After dropping off the wash I thought I better stop at the gas station and put some gas in the tank, since I had used quite a bit of it during my tour. I pulled into a station and stopped at the pump. Self-serve! I hopped out, went in the station to pre-pay. I then grabbed the pump handle and realized the gas cap was on the other side of the car. No trouble, right. Well the hose wasn't long enough to reach. I was going to have to turn the car around. I put the pump handle down on the pavement and climbed in the car. Oops! I climbed into the BACK seat. I looked into the station to see if anyone had noticed what I had done. You bet. They were all at the window to see what I would do next. Well I opened the door and climbed in the front. I starting to turn around when someone else pulled up to my pump. Now what do I do? Just leave, I thought and go to another station. You betcha! No need to create anymore amusement for the spectators. It was just another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "Trash Can" Story

It was an ordinary day. I had just gotten out of bed. It was 6:00 AM and I was ready to head to the bakery to pick up a birthday cake for my mom. We were on vacation and staying at a house on the beach in Sea Isle City, NJ. Carol and I wanted to do something nice for my mom since she and dad had come along on vacation with us and were basically the "designated babysitters." Today was her birthday and I had gone into town a few days ago and ordered a great birthday cake for her. I am going to surprise her! Or so I thought. I quietly snuck out of the house and hopped in the car. It was right outside their bedroom window so I hoped it would start quietly. It did and as I put the car in reverse to back out of the spot........ Crraaasssshhhhh! It was trash day. Someone had placed a metal trash can behind our boogie green Buick station wagon. I knocked the can over, the lid came off and they both got caught under the car. Drug them both out into the street. So much for a surprise. I went about a quarter of the way down the street before they became unlodged from under the car. All the trash lined the street. I did my best to clean up the mess and headed to the bakery. The cake really did look nice and mom loved it! It was just another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The "White Handkerchief" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was traveling with my friend Jim who was a classmate in one of my classes at Millersville U. We were headed to "The Barrens"? near Maryland to go deer hunting. First time for me! I purchased my license and had borrowed a gun from my uncle which he assured me would take down a deer from a long distance away. He had given me all the necessary equipment for a successful trip. All but a very necessary bit of info. You'll see! I had only fired a gun once in my life. That was a shotgun that I used when I went hunting with my uncle one time. He had no boys and wanted so bad to have a boy that could go hunting with him. I was that "Designated Boy." I say only once because it took me too long to get the gun up to the "shooting position" when I saw the cock bird and missed him when I took that first and only shot. He had a clear shot at the bird, but wanted me to have a chance to shoot a game bird. Last hunting trip with my uncle. Back to the deer hunting part of the story. We parked the car and I was told to stay by a tree that was nearby. He was going to "circle-around" and chase the deer in my direction. Sounded good to me. No walking! I parked myself by the tree and after a short time got bored, so I sat down to rest. My nose began to run because of the cold weather. I pulled out my white handkerchief to blow my nose when "Bammmmmm." A branch on the tree above me fell to the ground. "Holy S**t!" I yelled, and LOUD. "Don't shoot." This was the part that my uncle failed to tell me. Don't pull a white handkerchief (looks like a deer tail) out of your pocket and wave it around when deer hunting. Last time I ever went hunting!! It was an extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "French Birthday" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just come back from Orient Beach in St. Martin and were getting ready to head out for supper. It was our first trip to St. Martin and everything was all new. We were staying at the Mercure Simpson on Simpson Bay which is on the east end of the French side of the island. We walked to the Mati Restaurant which was across the street. Our traveling companions, Jere and "Just" Sue were with us. Nice place, right on the waterfront. Not quite sure what we had to eat that evening, but that's not part of the story anyway. It was October 24th and my wife Carol's birthday was on the 27th. I was searching for a nice place to take her for her birthday which was to be our final night on the island. This definitely was a French restaurant. How did I know? Well, I had French in high school and I understood the "oui-oui", but also everyone carried cigarettes with them. Our waiter, Raoul did very well with English and was a treat to have for the evening. When I found time I excused myself and talked quietly to the waiter about my plans for the birthday party. I asked if they could supply a birthday cake for the occasion. "No sir, I'm afraid we don't have that on our menu." He saw my disappointment and immediately asked when we would return for the party. After giving him the date, he said he would bake a cake at home and bring it in for the occasion! Wow! We returned on the last evening of our vacation to celebrate the end of a great vacation and Carol's birthday. Again, I'm not sure what we had to eat, but I'm sure it was fantastic. It was French cuisine! After Raoul cleared the table, he returned with his creation he had made. The candles sparkled that evening as did Carol's eyes. The reflections of the lights from the island bounced off the Caribbean Sea as well. We were in paradise! He presented her with the cake and a kiss on each cheek as well as a round of rum for everyone and I burst into the beginning of "Happy Birthday". The restaurant was packed that evening my friends and they all stopped eating to watch the festivities. We were halfway through our rendition of the song when I realized everyone in the restaurant was singing with us. The only thing different.......they were all singing in French! Unbelievable!! What great hospitality. We knew we would return again. We were hooked. It was an extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The "Naked Lady" Story

It was an ordinary day! The sun was going to be hot. The waves on the Chesapeake Bay were a foot or less. My Aunt Doris' house was a beautiful vacation home. Lance and I were preparing my cousin's boat for a trip to the marina for fuel. My cousin Robert told us we could use his boat while on vacation, but be aware that the fuel gauge always was on empty. Not knowing how much gas was in the tank, we decided we would head to the marina to refuel the boat. My son, Tad, who was 3 and Lance's daughter Jennifer who was 9 were our shipmates for the short trip to the marina. We were about a 1/4 mile from the dock, and out of sight of the family when the boat started to sputter. Uh Oh! I guess the gauge was really correct when it showed empty. We were drifting with the tide! We were now in the 40 foot deep C and D canal which is the 3rd busiest canal in the world. No need for PANIC yet. We found an oar and I steered while Lance paddled. This is a BIG boat and we were going nowhere. The kids started to recognize that we were worried and began to cry. Lance thought that if he jumped in the water and held onto the motor (we are not sailors and didn't know what you called the back of the boat, and still don't) he could kick and we might go faster. Yeah right! We did show signs of moving slowly toward the shore so we continued with the steering and the kicking and the crying. Close to shore Tad said, "Dad, I have to pooh!" We were close enough that Lance could not touch the bottom so I jumped in to help push the boat to the shore. After Tad added a few more nutrients to the water we decided we needed to climb the cliffs and find gas. I volunteered to climb the steep path to the house we could see at the top. As I approached the house I saw a garage with gas cans sitting inside the door. I went to the house and knocked on the door. A young woman came to the door. She looked much like any other woman except she was NAKED! WOW! "Can I have some gas?" just didn't seem to be the appropriate question, but that's what I said. Can you believe it? She told me to help myself. I went and got the gas and headed back down the path. After putting the gallon of gas in the boat, we primed, and primed and finally got the boat started. The crying stopped! But the steering linkage broke and now we could only go around in circles. We did discover that if we ran the boat backwards and I sat on the front with the oar as a rudder it would stay straight so we worked our way back into the shipping lane and headed back to the dock VERY SLOWLY! The sun had traveled many degrees in the sky by now and our skin was showing the redness that occurs when the skin starts to blister. As we rounded the final turn there was the family standing on the dock looking very concerned for our safety. I'm sure a boat traveling backward with someone using and oar to steer it was quite a sight to the variety of ships and boats that passed us. We tied the boat to the dock, put the cover back on it and vowed never to get in a boat again. Just an extraordinary day shared by an ordinary guy and his family! LDub

The "License Plate/Bathroom Bowl" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had been on the ship for 4 days already. Carol and I and our friends Jere and "Just Sue" were on a Western Caribbean cruise. Our first cruise. And may I say our last! I was so afraid that I was going to be sick that I over-medicated myself. I had the wrist band, the patch behind the ear, and the Bodine tablets. I kind of remembering using them all at once. I was like a walking Zombie! But it worked. I don't remember getting sick one time, but then I also don't remember much of what happened on the ship. I do remember some of what happened on our first stop in Belize. We went to the zoo? On our way back to the ship we stopped by the waterfront for shopping and drinks. I collect license plates for my Tiki Bar back home so I thought I would try to find a Belize plate. I asked a questionable islander if he knew where I could get a license plate for $10 and he said he would be right back. He went behind the shop and returned a few minutes later with a license plate. Oh well! I had my souvenir. Fun stop! Our second stop was on Costa Maya where we went to the Mayan Ruins. Took some great photos there, but what I do remember the most was the beautiful hand-painted sinks they had in their open-air market by the dock. We decided to buy 2 of them for our bathroom remodel we agreed to do when we got home. I paid and asked to have them shipped back home. No can do! We had to take them with us if we wanted them. They did wrap them very well with rope handles. I'm sure they did this many times before. After stops at the Cayman Islands and Cozumel we headed back to Miami. Upon return we had to go through customs when we left the ship. After going through the Xray unit we were asked "What are in the packages". We told them bathroom sinks. "What's the hole for in the bottom?" So the water can go out we told them. Duh! And they just fit in the overhead compartment. Every day when I brush my teeth I try to remember our fun trip to the Western Caribbean. Just another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "Darkroom" Story

It was an ordinary day. I had just finished a day at school and was ready to head home. But wait, let me fill you in on what had happened earlier. I was the adviser for the MTHS school yearbook as well as the rifle team coach. One of my rifle team members, Bob S., had finished after school rifle practice with me and asked if he could use the darkroom for an hour while I continued practice. I taught photography and the darkroom was at the other end of the building by my classroom. He was one of my yearbook photographers and I knew he had photos due the next day. He headed to the darkroom while I continued with rifle practice, knowing that I would be there for at least another 1 1/2 hours. After rifle practice I locked up the rifles and ammo and made my way back to my classroom. I checked to see if the lights were off and headed home. About 8:00 PM the high school principal, Mr. Hower called and asked if I knew a Bob S. I panicked! "Yes, I know him." Mr. Hower asked if I had seen him after school. I told him that Bob S. was at rifle practice and went to the darkroom for an hour afterward, but I had not seen him after that. Then I thought to myself, did I check the darkroom? Well the police went to the school with the principal and after searching the school found him..... yep, you know where! Seems he had A LOT of pictures to make and I didn't check the darkroom before I left. I promise you that NEVER happened again. Oh well. Just another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The "Raccoon Tail" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was working at the print shop at the high school where I taught and had my young daughter Brynn helping me cut newly padded tablets apart. Quitting time! We headed home the back way which was over country roads instead of on the major highway. Nice and quiet ride. As we traveled on Butter Road we passed a dead raccoon which must have just been hit. I started to relate to Brynn about my favorite bike and how I had raccoon tails on the handlebars. REALLY NEAT! I still think that to this day. By the time I got home I had an idea. I went into my garage and grabbed the hatchet. Brynn and I hopped back into the car and headed to.... you guessed it, Butter Road. I chopped and chopped with that dull hatchet until I had cut off his tail. I'm not sure what Brynn was doing as I was chopping. After getting it home I tried to clean it. By the next day it was as hard and stiff as could be. Well, you know, it's the thought that counts! Just another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "Buddy" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just returned home from our "Honeymoon" to Niagara Falls and needed some rest. We had moved our furniture into our apartment at Manor House before we left for our honeymoon. Upon returning home we picked up Carol's longtime pet dog, Buddy and headed to Manor House. Buddy was a chihuahua and didn't like me too much. I was now the new guy in his owner's life and he was determined to make my life miserable. Most of the furniture was newly purchased except for a coffee table, 2 end tables, and a kitchen table which I had built in the school shop where I taught. Buddy knew exactly which pieces I had made. It must have had my scent on it. As we lounged on the sofa he slowly walked to one of the end tables, making sure I was watching him, and lifted his leg on it. After seeing my reaction I'm sure he was mildly happy. Buddy and I tried to become good friends (at least I did), but I'm not sure we ever did. The constant peeing on every piece of my furniture should have been a real good hint for me.It was just another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "Speed Bump" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just exited the plane and were hit in the face with the hot tropical air. My wife Carol and I had traveled to St. Martin in the Caribbean with friends Jere and "Just" Sue. I love the hot air after leaving the cold of the northeast weather. Worked our way through customs and picked up our luggage. We carry our snorkel and beach gear in an old white suitcase that I gave my wife for a wedding present ages ago and that has locks that no longer work so I tie it with bungee cord. The outside of "Whitey" has stickers describing all the locations we have been on vacation. YOU CAN'T MISS IT! We picked up our car at the airport and headed out of the parking lot to try and find the Mercure Simpson. We had never been on the island before and weren't quite sure which way to go. We had a 2 door very small car so I drove and the other 3 sat in the back, squeezed in real tight. The luggage, plenty of it, was in the trunk, strapped on the roof, and on the floor and seat in the front next to me. After checking a map we got from the rental company, we headed towards the golf course and the northwest side of the island. After about 15 minutes we hit a stretch of straight road that had very low but wide speed bumps. No problem, just go slow over them since we were very close to the ground. "There it is!" they shouted from the back seat. I made a quick turn into the Mercure and POW! Didn't see the BIG speed bump. Well, we couldn't move. The car was rocking on the speed bump. "Everyone out." After we lost some passengers and luggage the car was able to finish going over the bump. We realized we would have to limit our baggage for the rest of the vacation. Never thought about taking it back and getting a bigger car. What fun would that be? Just watch out for the big speed bumps! Another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The "Eagles" Story

It was an ordinary day. The year was 2005 and the Philadelphia Eagles were in the Superbowl. The only problem was we were heading to St. Martin in the Caribbean. I know that isn't really a problem, but I wasn't sure if I was going to have the chance to see the game. We arrived at the Alamanda in Orient Village about 3:00 PM on Saturday. After a short trip to the beach and a shower, my wife and I headed to the village for our evening meal. For me it was also a chance to try to find a place to watch the game the next day. We saw a building that looked like a church, but had a rather loud crowd inside the long side windows. It was a sports bar! We entered and asked the owner if they had plans to show the Superbowl and was greeted with a positive response. But, it was going to be in French! As long as the numbers on the jerseys weren't in French I was OK. We made our reservations and told him we were from a town near Philadelphia. Best move I ever made! The next day we enjoyed our first full day on the beach and then headed to Le Chapell for the game. We were greeted at the door by the owner and told they were able to get USA cable reception for the game. GREAT! Then he took us to the front of the room and gave us a table directly in front of the Wide-screen TV. WOW! The food was OK, the outcome of the game was crappy, but the experience was priceless. And we even got favors to remember the evening. An extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "Wounded Pigeon" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was 12 years old and was playing with my pet pigeon. My pigeon was one of 6 that my Grandpap and I had bid on and won from the auction house at Root's Market. My Grandpap often took me to the Tuesday market with the intention of coming home with some new animals. At least it was HIS intention. It seems that 5 of the pigeons were in good shape, but one evidently had a broken wing and when my parents made me release the pigeons on Wednesday the wounded pigeon couldn't fly. "Mom, I have to fix that wing." With her assistance we put a popsicle stick on the wing, holding it in place with rubberbands. He (or she) didn't seem to mind and started to mend. A few weeks later my parents planned on celebrating their anniversary. They were going to go to dinner and a show in the evening. At the same time I decided to see if my wounded pigeon was getting any better so I opened his cage and removed the splint. HE TOOK OFF! I guess he was better. Not wanting to part with him quite yet, I took off after him. I saw him on the flat roof of a garage in the back alley. I went home and grabbed an old washline. I figured I could lasso him if I got on top of the gate that was next to the garage. I started to climb the gate when all of a sudden the gate started to move. I lost my balance and fell about 5 feet to the ground. I instantly knew something was wrong with my arm. I walked back home and entered the kitchen. My Mom saw me and immediately knew something was wrong. The bend in my forearm was the only clue she needed. She yelled for Dad and they drove me to the hospital. BROKEN! Yep. There goes the anniversary evening. And to top that off, the pigeon got away! It was an extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The "Sun-tan Lotion Medicine" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were getting ready for another fun filled trip to St. Martin in the Caribbean. I did notice that I had a slight discomfort when I had to pee so I called my urologist for an appointment. Didn't want to have to go to the doctor while on vacation. After examination he said I probably had a slight bladder infection and prescribed medication for me. After a few days on the island, my wife asked me what tanning lotion I was using since I was starting to tan very nicely. After a few more days of both using the same lotion we both noticed I was twice as dark as she was. How can that be? Well it be! After reading the label on the medicine we discovered you were to avoid the sun while taking the medicine. So much for reading the precautions on your medicine. Seems it made you turn REALLY DARK! I had to spend some time under the umbrella so people would recognize me when I returned home from vacation. Oh, well! We were still in paradise and it was just another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. LDub

The "Lysol" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just finishing packing for vacation. Everyone was loaded in the car for the trip to the Chesapeake Bay for the week. My parents who live down the street from us were going to care for the dog and 2 cats. We had just purchased "Otis", a Himmie cat about a month before we went on vacation. Needless to say we had a great time. It was vacation! Upon returning home we unpacked and made the trip to the parents to thank them for all the help. After returning back to the house I stretched out on my favorite lounge chair that we had recently purchased. "What's this". The seat was wet. After smelling the seat I realized that all was not well. Our cat had become upset about our going on vacation and had decided to take it out on me. If you ever have had cats you know that you don't get rid of urine smell easy. I was determined to FIX the smell since the chair was new and it was my favorite one. After trying several remedies that didn't work I took the chair out onto the front porch. I got the garden hose and sprayed the seat cushion with water. After a few days the smell was still there. NOW WHAT! How about a bottle of Lysol. I dumped an entire bottle of Lysol on the seat and scrubbed. Then I hit it again with the garden hose. After about a week of drying out on the porch I gave it the smell test. Seemed OK! I moved the chair back into the living room in front of the TV. Only a slight Lysol smell persisted when you entered the house, but I figured that would eventually go away. Anyway, I like the smell of Lysol. A few days later I picked my Father up to go to church choir practice. After about 15 minutes of practice the lady in front of me stuck her nose in the air and said "Something smells like Lysol." "That would be me" I said, but I didn't care. You see it was my favorite chair! Just another extraordinary story in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "Homecoming Queen" Story

It was an ordinary day. I had just finished detailing my '87 Vette for the Cocalico Homecoming halftime Parade. Bright red with 5 speed stick trans. We were to take Homecoming Queen candidates around the track at the football stadium 2 times. The Lancaster County Corvette Club does several parades like this every year. I can remove the 2 top panels from my roof, but it is not a convertible so I can't take the top completely off. I placed a blanket on the edge of the roof for her to sit and another blanket on my center console so she would have a place for her feet. We climbed into the car at one end of the field and started slowly around the track. They had several "speed bumps" (just lumps in the track) so we had to be careful. Everything when great and we started around for the final trip. We were on the final long stretch when I forgot about the bumps in the track. I REALLY DID! We hit one going a little to fast and she started sliding down the outside of my rear window. I grabbed her foot as it passed my head and held on at the same time I started to stop. The flowers went flying and the screaming started. Actually the screaming started long before that. I held on tight until someone could help her back onto the top of the car again. I'm sure the applause that followed wasn't for me. No more parades for me, at least until I get an Yellow automatic! Just another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. LDub

The "Chicken in the Cart" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was shopping at Costco. Or I thought I was! Where is my cart? Did that lady just swipe my cart? Yep! I knew it was mine because I had a few samples and placed the used napkins in it. She's not going to get away with this you know. I went and retrieved another cart and continued my shopping. Alas, I found her again by the meat counter. Let's see. I think she might need a few extra breasts for her party and maybe some extra hamburger. By the produce section she gained a pineapple in her cart also. It was so full that she didn't even know she had extra items. I'm not quite sure what happened to her at check-out, but I sailed straight through with just the items I needed. It just took me two carts to do it that day. It was an extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. LDub

Friday, September 11, 2009

The "Grapes" Story

It was an ordinary day. I had just finished my classes at Millersville State Teachers College in Millersville, PA. Time to go to work at the local Acme Supermarket. I first started at the Acme in high school and managed to pay my way through college with the earnings from the part-time job. I enjoyed all the friends, both customers and co-workers, that I had made in the 5 years I had worked there. That particular evening I was working with Bob W. at the cash registers while Gene K. was the manager for the shift. It was a slow evening and Bob and I decided we needed something to do to make the evening more interesting. Well, it really did get interesting. But, for now..... years later I was teaching at MT High School and was in the new building that had just been finished. It was dedication night and local and school officials were present as well as US Congressman Bob W. He was to present a flag to the school that had flown over the Capitol in Washington, D.C. The crowd numbered about 300 and I managed to stand in the rear to hear Bob talk. After a few minutes he stopped and looked back towards me. "Larry W., is that you?" I gave a wave and attracted a stare from the audience. After he was finished he worked his way back to me to talk. The grape story arose. "Do you remember the night we were bored and decided to have some fun?" he said. You bet you I did. We went to the produce counter and grabbed a couple pounds of grapes and took them to the check-out registers. All evening we heaved them into the air at the customers as they were shopping. That was until Gene K. caught us and had us stay to clean the aisles. Congressman W. was having the best time reliving his days working with me at the old Acme. Just an extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. LDub

The "Noel Y." Story

It was an ordinary day. My 1st period photography class was just about over. Today I had Noel Y. in class. Years before I had coached Noel in Little League baseball. I always pitched batting practice to my 13-14 year old players. One day Noel hit a line drive at me and broke my finger. The next day at practice I told Noel, "One day I'll get even with you!", just joking with him. Well, here we are in 1st period class with a few minutes left before the bell. "Tell us a story, Mr. Woods" one said. The students always loved to hear my family stories, since I had all 3 of my children in class and all my students knew at least one of them. I told the story of how all three of my kids were ill at one time or another with mono. "My youngest son was in the hospital for a few days because he was so ill, my daughter missed over a week of class because of her illness, but my oldest son really had it bad. He was in the hospital for a few days and when he came home he developed a large lump the size of a softball on his neck from the mono. Back to the hospital where they drained the lump and put a tube in his neck so it could be re-drained when necessary. It was so gross that my wife had to....." Just then I heard a crash next to me. Noel Y. was on the floor. The room went quiet. I sent a student for the nurse and cleared the students from the area around Noel. I got down on the floor to examine him to see if he had hurt himself from the fall off his stool. No visible marks so I wiped his forehead with my handkerchief. He opened his eyes and looked at me and apoligized for passing out. It seems he had no breakfast that day and the story was too much for him. After realizing he was going to be fine I helped him to a sitting position so he could rest against the cabinets until the nurse arrived. I looked him in the eye and said, "Now we're even!" The students were astonished I would say something like that to him, but Noel got a big smile on his face and said "Yep." Just another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. LDub

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The "White Rat" story

It was an ordinary day. I was waiting for my Grandpap to take me to Root's Farmers Market in East Petersburg, PA. He often took his 12 year old grandson to the market for an ice cream cone or soft pretzel. Just the two of us! We ALWAYS wandered over to the livestock auction to see what was being bought and sold. Today they had the regular things such as chickens, guinea pigs, pigeons and rabbits, but today they also had a wooden box of 7 white rats. Some were full grown and some were babies. Some were 6" to 8" long while others were 12" to 18" long. THEY WERE RATS! Your routine white rat family. $2.00 he bid! Nobody else challenged him so we walked away with a new family for my house. We put the box in the trunk of his 2-tone green 1955 Buick and headed home. You see this was not something unusual since he often brought some kind of livestock home with us. Now that I am an adult with grandkids I wonder if he was trying to get even with his daughter and son-in-law, my Mother and Father. We put a wire screen over the wooden box and placed it in the cellar. I was able to hold the young rats, but didn't chance holding the big ones. They did have neat pink tails and big white teeth. Naturally, I had to get rat pellets, vegetables, etc. for my new "pets". Sunday came and we headed to church for the morning. When we returned home I headed to the cellar to check on my new friends. As I headed down the open wooden steps I saw something run across the floor at the bottom of the steps. Oh My Gosh! The rats have escaped. I had never given my rats names, but at this point they were being called a variety of very bad names. They chewed through the wooden box. Big teeth, wooden box, Duh! Well, we had to catch them so my Dad and I found a peach basket and put it upside down with a small stick under one end of it with a string to the steps. We put food under the basket and waited quietly on the steps for the rats to take the bait. THEY REALLY DID! I remember that it took a long time, but we captured them all and this time put them in a aquarium. Good idea! I knew this was going to be the end of my new pets. We lived near the Lancaster Stockyards which was the busiest stockyards east of Chicago. Dad thought they certainly wouldn't mind a few more rats so we took them to the field next to the stockyards and said Goodbye to them. I wasn't really upset since I knew that my Grandpap was going to take me to Roots again very soon. I'll bet you can't wait to hear what happened on the next trip. Just an extraordinary day shared by an ordinary guy and his family. LDub.