Extraordinary Stories

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

The "Silent Hero" Story

It was an ordinary day. My parents and brother had gone to the store leaving me by myself. Always trouble! I was playing in my bedroom with my white mice, teaching them to climb up the extension ladder of my big red Tonka fire truck. They were doing pretty good when I smelled smoke. Real smoke! Went out onto the back balcony of our house. We were the last house on a block of semi-detached houses, one block outside of the city of Lancaster near the train station. My bedroom was located in the rear of the house above the kitchen and had access to a balcony through a door in my room. I looked down and saw smoke coming from the first floor. Quick put the mice back in their cage and headed down the stairs. I ran to the kitchen, but didn't see any fire or smoke. After checking outside I realized the house attached to ours, belonging to Deb and Bob B., had smoke coming from the kitchen window and back door. I hopped the fence and ran to the back door. Knocked and waited. No response, so I pounded on the door as hard as I could. So hard one of the windows in the back door broke. Now the smoke was really coming through the back door. Looked in the window and the kitchen was filled with smoke. Well, what do you do? I ran into our house and tried to dial the operator. We had a party line and sometimes you had to wait to use the phone if someone else was talking. Kind of neat being able to listen to your neighbor's conversations. I told whoever was talking that I needed to call for help and could they get off the line. In a few seconds I was talking to the operator and told her about the fire. She said she would call the Southern Manheim Township Fire Company immediately. This is a volunteer fire company about a mile from our house. My friend Jerry's Father is the fire chief there. In the meantime I went back outside and looked in other windows of their house. I saw that most of the smoke was in the kitchen, especially since I had helped ventilate the kitchen by breaking the window. I thought maybe I would try the back door and yep, the door was unlocked. Well what to do next? I opened it. Really good ventilation now!! Most of the smoke escaped through the back door and I stepped inside. Boy, if only my Mom and Dad were home. No...........it was probably best they weren't home or I'd be in trouble at this point. I saw that all the smoke was coming from a big pot on the stove. I turned the burner off and ran out of the back door. In the distance I could hear the sirens from the fire trucks. I waited in the house until I saw the first truck pull to a stop. It was at this point that I remembered that Jerry told me one of the first things they do is put up a ladder to the roof so they can chop a hole in the roof. Holy Cow!!! I panicked!!! They grabbed their ladders and started towards the front of the house. They were going to chop a hole in the roof because Deb and Bob had burnt meat in a pot on their stove in the kitchen. I quickly ran outside and told them I had called them and that the fire was out. I left them know it was in the kitchen and not to cut holes in the roof. I ran back in and locked the doors. Boy, I knew I was going to be in trouble when Mom and Dad got home. Later that day Deb and Bob came over to out house to tell us about what had happened while they were away. They said someone had broken a window in the back door, opened it and turned off the stove. They told us they totally forgot about the meat they had put on the stove when they left to go shopping. They said someone had saved they a lot of damage. If they only knew. If my Mom and Dad only knew. I never opened my mouth! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The "Lucked Out" Story

It was an ordinary day. I had just signed my teaching contract with MTHS which is where I graduated from. I was teaching at York Eastern at the time that I signed with MTHS. The traveling to York every day was getting boring and I needed something closer to home. The story of the beginning of my teaching career goes pretty much like this.......in high school I was an average student. My parents thought I should be the first in our family to go to college so I had to take college prep courses in school. Didn’t do too bad, but courses such as Chemistry and Latin weren’t my favorite. I didn’t know a single person who spoke Latin and memorizing the Periodic Table of Elements seemed to be a waste of time. I managed to survive and in my senior year I started looking for a college to attend. Price was and issue since I would have to pay for most of my education. The local college was Millersville State College and I filled out an application for this school. I received notice that I should call for an interview at Millersville to see what the possibilities of attending this school might be. The day of the interview I dressed in a coat and tie and went to meet with a college official. He asked why I wanted to attend college and I responded as I stated here. He studied my school records and said to me, “you really want to be a math teacher?” “Sure, that’s what I’m best at.” He then asked, “have you ever heard of Industrial Arts?” “No, what is that.” He proceeded to tell me that it was teaching manual arts or shop and that the State of Pennsylvania was in dire need of shop teachers. At that moment I became a shop teacher!! Did very well at MSTC except for the courses they made me take such as Chemistry and History. The history I needed to graduate so I took it 3 times. Not because I loved it that much, but because it took me that many times to find a teacher who needed things in his house fixed. After 4 years I needed one more semester to graduate, but they needed shop teachers so bad that I had 5 offers even before I graduated. Took the job at York on an Emergency Certificate. I was living at home when I started teaching and my brother Steve was a Senior at MTHS. He was a super basketball player and his coach was George E. who was also the chairman of the Industrial Arts Dept. I asked Steve to ask his coach if he had any openings in his department. At supper the next night Steve said, “Mr. Ehemann said I could have a job.” JUST LIKE THAT. Mr. Ehemann really loved my brother!!! Well, I went out the next week and signed the contract. JUST LIKE THAT. I was now a shop teacher at good ole MTHS. It was an extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The "Cougar" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were on our way to Baltimore, MD for the Quad A State Football Championship game. It was being played in the M&T Bank Stadium which is where the Baltimore Ravens play their games. Carol and I and our son Tad are to meet our daughter Brynn and our two granddaughters, Courtney and Camille at Inner Harbor to get something to eat before we walk over to the game. Playing in the title game this year is Arundel against our Son-In-Law's Quince Orchard Cougars. It's been an exciting year for Dave . Mand the rest of his team and family. They are undefeated at this point with a record of 13-0. Some close calls against some of the finest teams in the state, but no one was good enough to knock off the Cougars. Dave has turned out to be one of the finest coaches in the state of Maryland. He has acquired and developed the attributes over the past few years that turn average coaches into outstanding leaders. He is developing a list of former players who are making a name for themselves in all divisions of college football. Won't be long before a list of professional players will start. Tonight is Dave's team and coaches' first chance to win a State title. Back to the story......... our daughter called last week and told us Dave made arrangements for us to sit in the M&T box at the stadium. Amazing!! After supper at Inner Harbor we made our way to the stadium.. We had tickets already so we went directly into the stadium. Some 5500 high school fans filed into the stadium. Cold November evening. Seats were great. The Cougars seemed to be listless for most of the first half. By the end of the third quarter they were down by 16 points and some fans of Arundel were leaving the stadium. 12 MINUTES TO GO. In the M&T box we had kind of given up hope. Dave is an outstanding motivator and instilled such a positive attitude in this team that they weren't going to be denied the trophy. Just how good are the Cougars? Well, they scored 4 touchdowns in the final 7 minutes and 13 seconds to become the 2007 State Champs!! Quince Orchard 36, Arundel 30. What a game. They were voted #1 in the Washington Post Poll and Dave was picked as the Coach of the Year in the State of Maryland. Way to go, Dave!! We're proud of ya!! FINISH! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "Home Plate" Story

It was an ordinary day. My friend Wayne P. had invited me to go see the Phillies at Veterans Stadium. His wife Barb had given him 4 tickets to see the Phils for his birthday and he had invited me and two of his friends from the police station. Wayne and I had been neighborhood friends for 15 years and had coached little league baseball together for many years. Wayne was excited to go because Barb had purchased seats behind home plate in one of the upper levels. It was a week day evening game and we left about four o’clock to make sure we got there in time for some batting practice. An hour and a half later Wayne pulled into the parking lot and since we had some extra time we got out the meal we had brought with us and ate it in the parking lot before entering. Wayne gave us each a ticket and we entered the stadium near third base. He told us to look for a specific section which was marked on our tickets, where our seats were located. We headed in the direction of home plate, but when we got there it was not the same section as on the ticket. Well, we walked and walked until we had found the section indicated on our tickets. We were definitely behind home plate, but this home plate was located in left field in the Phils bullpen. Front row seats in the section directly above the bullpen. Super seats, but I could see the disappointment on Wayne’s face. Hey, we were at a Phils game. Doesn’t really matter where we sit, but Wayne was sure Barb had told him we were right behind home plate. He thought she meant the REAL home plate where the catcher, batter and umpire are located. Game was fun and the trip home went well. The next day Wayne told me that the tickets were really behind the plate. At least in the 5 year old phone book that Barb had used to order the tickets. Seems that there was a page in the phone book with a picture of the seating at Veterans Stadium and the sections had been changed since the old phone book had been printed. Oh well. Good intentions and a good time! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The "Hobby" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were staying near Rehobeth Beach, Delaware with the family and ready to have a good time. The “We” is my wife Carol and I and our three kids Derek, Brynn and Tad. We were staying at a home in a campground type community which we had rented from a fellow teacher’s mother. Now......... some other information is needed for this story. For years before this I had helped my son Tad with a collection of insects, butterflies and moths. We had built cases to keep them in and displayed them with identification for others to see. Fun hobby. I’m not sure who had the most fun, Tad or myself. We would usually catch them with a butterfly net that another teacher at school had given me and then either put them in a jar with a chemical in it or place them in the freezer. We would attach them in the case with a pin or two. Well, we would find them anywhere. In the back yard, in neighbor’s yards, on the school playground, on VACATION........OK now back to the story. After unpacking, we needed to get some supplies for the week to come so went to the General Store for the supplies. First time in the area so we had never been to this store. After picking everything out that was needed we proceeded to the checkout. As we were finishing paying I looked up at the ceiling of the store and there was this beautiful light green moth. We did not have this one in our collection and I was not going to let it go. “Do you mind if I catch that moth on you ceiling,” I asked the clerk. Didn’t matter to her. I asked if she had a paper bag and a ladder that I could use. “LDub, you can’t climb up there. You’re embarrassing everyone!” my wife told me. “Won’t take long,” I told her. Well, I climbed the ladder and managed to get the new specimen in the bag. After climbing back down, I turned to find the rest of the family and they were no where to be found. Seems they really were embarrassed and went back to the car. I got in and my wife said, “time to get a new hobby for you and Tad.” It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The "Township Movie" Story

It was another ordinary day. Stan L. and I are headed to the Lancaster Airport for an assignment. We both teach at MTHS and our high school was being evaluated for accreditation. We were both on the committee that was to prepare a presentation for the evaluating committee when they arrived. Are mission was to take a helicopter ride and shoot video and still shots for the movie that was to be made. I had my 35mm loaded with film and a few more rolls in my pocket and Stan has one of his many video cameras with him. We pulled into the parking lot of the airport and walked to the hanger with the helicopter in front of it. "Pretty interesting helicopter," I said to the man dressed in uniform. "Yeah, it just came back from Viet Nam. It was used to transport ground troops. Those holes all over it are bullet holes for enemy fire." They were everywhere. Stan and I were shown to our seats, side by side on the right side of the helicopter. No door in front of us, just a metal chain. We are given headgear with microphones in them so we can correspond with the pilots. Strap yourselves in real tight we were told. No problem there. I ran the straps every which way to make sure I was still going to be in the chopper when it returned. I ran the strap from my camera around my neck for safety. Best move I ever made. The story continues..... We take off, or is it rise up, and head toward the school grounds. We are taking video and stills of all the schools in the district. We start with the elementary, go to the middle school and then head to the high school. I am having a great time talking with Stan and the pilots as well as taking plenty of film. A little trouble reloading the camera, but you just have to take your time. Stan started his video for the high school when his film ran out. He motioned to me he had to reload. After reloading he wanted to retake some of the high school shots to make sure he had them. He was just getting ready to put his camera strap back around his neck when to my amazement he said to the pilot "how about 90 degrees to the right." What did that mean? Yep, the pilot tipped the helicopter on its side!!! We were hanging there, luckily by the straps, with the ground right below us. The pilots laughed! Stan's camera never made it around his neck. I guess the movie will be still shots!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. (Story in memory of Stan L.)

The "The Boat's on Fire" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just arrived at Locust Point, MD for our summer vacation. The "We" is Carol and me and our three kids, Derek, Brynn and Tad as well as Gary and Sandy H. and their three kids Janelle, Eric and Rob. This is our first trip together. We are neighbors and go to the same church so we know each other well, but knowing each other and vacationing with each other are two different things. Well, part way through the week we found we needed something other than games, swimming and eating to keep the kids occupied. After some discussion Gary came up with the idea that we needed a boat, since everyone had a boat and were having a great time. Off he and I went with the kids to find a boat. Around the corner was a marina and they had to have a boat for rent. Sure enough, they had one, but we needed to come back in an hour so they would had time to prepare it for rental. An hour later we returned and were led out to the pier to see the boat. It was a large "wooden row boat" that happened to have an outboard motor attached to the back. Gary said, "I'll stay with the kids while you go out with him to see how it works." "Hey, wait a minute. This was your idea to rent a boat. I have no idea what I'm doing," I told him. But off I went with the guy to learn how to run the boat. Pretty easy really. Prime the motor, pull the cord and steer with the handle. Turning the handle would give you more acceleration. He told me he would take it out into the river and then let me give it a try. I waved good-bye to everyone and off we went. I sat in the front and he in the back. After half a minute I turned around to see what he was doing and realized something was wrong. "Is your boat supposed to have flames coming from the corner?" I asked after noticing the three foot flames. "Holy s**t," was the response I got. "Grab those buckets in the front and get back here." I did what I was told and we started throwing water on the fire. Seems the gas line had developed a sizable leak and the gas leaking out had caught fire next to the fuel cans. After what seemed like forever we put the fire out, but with all the water on board, we were starting to lean heavily towards the back. Next we had to bail. A half hour later, after rowing the boat back to the pier, I got off the boat. "I'll have another one ready for you tomorrow," he yelled. Yeah, right! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. (Story in Memory of Gary H.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

The "A Real Treasure" Story

It was an ordinary day. Carol and I as well as our traveling friends, Jerry and Just Sue, were on our way to the Divi Southwinds Motel in Barbados. We left the airport and found the van that the Divi had sent to transport us to our residence for the next 2 weeks. We were on the “Best of Barbados” plan which was supposed to include free meals, trips, discounted shows and free transportation to some places. And it did! We were pleasantly surprised with all the extras that were included. Our third night we were given free meal tickets to the Oistens Fish Fry. Oistens is a small town about 20 minutes from the Divi. It borders the beach and has a large fresh fish market as well as the large carnival area known as the Oistens Fish Fry. A real treasure we were told. We needed to provide our own transportation to and from Oistens, but how bad can that be. It isn’t far away. We asked at the motel’s front desk where we can get the bus. They told us directly in front of the Divi was a bus stop. We were told to look for a bus with a particular prefix on the license plate and we should be heading right as we exited the parking lot. Well, we walked past the guard station to the street, but didn’t see a bus stop. By now it was dark and we weren’t sure what the sign might look like. All of a sudden a bus came down the street and went right past us. We were on the wrong side of the road. Hey, we forgot that in Barbados you drive on the left side of the road. The bus stop was on the other side of the street. Across the street we went to wait. Shortly a VW type van screeched to a stop in front of us, the door slid back and a long haired man yelled, “get in, Mon.” We couldn’t even see the license plate. The 4 of us entered the van and realized it was packed. As we were about to tell him we would take the next one, the door flew shut, he told the driver everyone was in and the van accelerated. The van really was a taxi, I think, and the man who operated the door was called the conductor who collected the money and announced to the driver when and where to stop. The driver steered the van as well as blew the horn at everyone he knew, which seemed to be everyone on this route. The van had two rear seats that were meant to hold three passengers each and a middle seat that was meant to hold two while the conductor rested on one knee by the door next to the seat. Three more could occupy the front seat. I counted 17 in the van after the door slid shut. IT WAS PACKED! We were all going to the fish fry. Jerry and I were in the two seats near the conductor so he picked a conversation with us. “You like dancing?” he wanted to know. Didn’t give us time to respond before he proceeded to tell us he was a two woman man. One woman who did his cleaning and cooking, and one woman to go dancing. Interesting!! Another block or two later he pointed to a building and said to us again, “you like dancing?” Jerry said he couldn’t dance and received the response, “you don’t have to, Mon! They dance on your lap!!” Hey, novel idea. Luckily we arrived at our stop before we were told the rest of the dancing details. The fish fry consisted of fried flying fish (you read that right since these fish fly across the water and are caught with nets placed above the water, or so we were told), macaroni pie, fried beans and rice, fried plantains, fried chicken and Carib beer or Ting (a Caribbean grapefruit soda). Really tasty! And everything was free!! After the meal we walked the carnival grounds and then realized, WE HAD TO RETURN IN A TAXI! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The "Peeping Tom" Story

It was an ordinary day. It was early summer and I had just returned from Roots’ Sale in East Petersburg with my Grandpap. He had done it again. This time we came home with 11 guinea pigs from their livestock auction. I had come home other times with white mice, white rats, pigeons, rabbits and now this time with guinea pigs. None of the other “pets” had survived my home. Not because I didn’t take care of them, but they seemed to wear out their welcome. “What did you come home with now?” my Mom asked as she saw the box I was getting out of his Buick sedan trunk. “A couple guinea pigs for my Grandson,” my Grandpap told her. “What are we going to do with them?” she responded. Well, I started the next day on a permanent cage in my backyard for them. It was really neat! I had two halves which were each about 2 feet by 2 feet, joined in the middle with a hole big enough for them to go from one side to the other. One side was totally enclosed for bedding material, while the other side had 1/4” wire mesh on the one side and bottom for the droppings to fall through. The front had a long door to cover both sides and was hinged to open from the top. On the right side of the door I also had the wire mesh so that 2 sides and the bottom were open for ventilation. The top was covered with a heavy rubber material. My Dad helped me build it and it was a really neat cage. We put it on cement blocks so it was easier to feed them and clean it out. Dad bought me a bale of hay and a bale of straw. The hay was for eating and the straw was for bedding. I asked, “how do they know which is which.” But, they did. We also had to buy a BIG bag of rabbit pellets for feed. I guess they couldn’t read the label on that bag, since they eagerly ate them. I also would hook my wagon to the back of my bike and ride 5 or 6 blocks to the Acme Supermarket where they agreed to save lettuce greens for me. I made biweekly trips for the lettuce because they seemed to do nothing but eat. Well, I found out they were doing something else! It seems that 10 of the guinea pigs were females and 1 was a healthy male. By the end of the summer I had to build another cage to hold my new “pets.” It was at this point that my next door neighbor, Bob B. took notice to my new venture. Bob was a kind of strange man. He was married with no children and closer to my Grandpap’s age then to my parent’s age. My parent’s couldn’t figure what fascinated him so much about my guinea pigs, but they let him help me. He set up cages in his garage for his collection of pigs and drove me to the supermarket for the lettuce. He would take me to the local stock yards where we would search through the pens for hay and straw that we could have for free and load it in burlap bags, put it in his Studebaker sedan and return home. He found an outlet for our guinea pigs. Once a month a man would arrive, weigh the young pigs and buy all over a certain weight. We would get $1.00 a pig. I later found out they were for a research laboratory, but I never knew what they did with them. I’m sure you can guess that. After 2 years I had amassed enough money to purchase my first car, a 1953 Henry J (read about it in another story). Shortly after the purchase of my car, my parent’s caught Bob B. peeping in our windows at night. The police suggested to my parents that I give up my business with Bob B. I was 16 now and ready to show the chicks my new Henry J so I had no problem giving up the guinea pig business. Had a good time while it lasted. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The "Vacation" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were getting ready for vacation. Going to the Caribbean this year with our friends Jerry and Just Sue. This time we will try Antigua. We had made reservations about 6 months ago and it finally is time. We decided upon Antigua by a vote. We get together and make a list of where we might want to go, then vote on the final choice. Must be a majority vote or we do more discussion. This year we voted 3-1 for Hawaii. Whoops! How come we're heading to Antigua? I said, "LDub doesn't want to spend 15 hours in a plane when we could go to a place we have never been before that has all the same qualities and was only 5 hours away." I should have been a politician, because I swayed two of the votes to my side. I went to AAA this week and exchanged some US money for some EC money. Tour book said I could get a better deal if I did it before I left. Carol, my wife made a 3-page list this week for our son Tad who will house sit and take care of Gunther and Otis, our 2 cats. Almost time to go, but I must finish ironing my clothes and packing my suitcase and weighing it to make sure it isn't more than 50 pounds. Last year I bought this device that has a big hook connected to a scale that you fasten into your suitcase handle so you can check the weight. I weighed the suitcase at least half a dozen times and each time it was a different weight. How can that be? Well it be. I then tried my old way of hopping on the scale and weighing myself, then getting back on the scale with the suitcase. Should have saved the $10 I spent on the new device. I was convinced that it would be helpful to take along for weighing on the return trip and packed it anyway in my carry-on bag. "What is this thing with a big hook on used for?" the people checking the luggage at security asked me. After showing them it wasn't dangerous, they let me pass. I will take it again this trip, but will put it in my checked luggage. I have put all my camera equipment in my backpack with my iPod and electrical adapters. Oh, wait! I forgot. Carol and I must first stop for gas and pick up my Mom and head to a surprise 60th birthday party for my brother Steve tonight. Just Sue and Jerry will hopefully arrive soon after that from State College where they live. It seems they had a snow storm yesterday. When the arrive we will relax for a few hours before heading to the airport. Plane takes off at 6:00 AM and it takes about 1 1/2 to reach the airport. You're supposed to be there 2 hours before flight time. When will I will sleep? Probably on the plane. Oh, yeah! I have to take my Bonine pill 2 hours before we board the plane so I don't get sick like I did last year. AND......... I must stop typing and pack up this laptop so I can share a few more stories with you while I sit on the beach, soaking up the sun and relaxing in the 85 degree water. Are we ready yet!!? It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The "America's Sport Car" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were headed to Ocean City, MD with the Lancaster County Corvette Club. There were about a dozen vettes traveling in this caravan. Carol and I have a 1987 red on red, 5 speed coupe which has a rather stiff suspension system. That means it hurts to drive it too far, like three and a half hours to the shore. The lead Corvette, Tony and his wife have a walkie-talkie and the tail Corvette, Rick and his wife have the other one. This allows the caravan to attempt to stay together for the entire trip. Works sometimes! I’m not sure what route we took, but then it doesn’t matter since we are following the car in front of us. Then, all of a sudden the cars in front of us start to swerve. What’s up? It seems they have repainted the lines in the center of the road and have place cones every 25-30 feet apart on the line to warn you of the wet paint. With no cars coming the other way and the urge to drive the obstacle course, Tony starts to weave in and out of the cones. Now in a caravan, you do what the car in front of you does so we all start to weave in and out. Lucky the paint was dry. We finally make our way to OC and head to the motel which will be out headquarters for the next two days. We have come to drive in a Corvette Rally which features a trip down the boardwalk. We arrive at our destination and are glad for the chance to stretch and move about after the hours in the car. It is just getting dark when we arrive at the restaurant for dinner. Fun to travel with friends who enjoy the same hobby, Corvettes. We pull into the parking lot and into a space next to another vette. Into the restaurant for a good meal. It is now dark when we head back to the car. We get back in and see the vette in front of us has just pulled out so we realize was there and couldn’t see in the dark, since we are sitting only about a foot off the ground. Now what? I put it in reverse. No luck. Our back wheels are off the ground. I get out and check for damage and to see if any fluid is coming from the bottom of the car. I find the only fluid is coming from my eyes at the moment. Our club members see what has happened and after they stopped laughing they help lift the car off the barrier. Nice to have a car made of fiberglass. Enough fun for one day. Next morning we tidy up the car so there is no dirt or spots on it and head to the convention center where we will meet everyone and follow them to the south end of the boardwalk. As we start up the ramp to the boardwalk, we see the crowd which lines both sides for a chance to view the 300 or more vettes from all over the east coast. A few cars don’t make it. Some engines overheat, some manual trans overheat, and one runs out of gas. Guess he needs to fix his gas gauge. As we pass a point on the boardwalk, the snap our photo. REALLY NEAT! After the ride we head back to the motel, passing vettes which have not even had the chance drive the boards yet. We pack the car and head home without the caravan. A more leisurely drive without having to stay in line. What a fantastic experience while driving America’s Sport Car. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "Balloon Ride" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was ready for my hot air balloon ride which my wife gave me for Father’s day. For years I said it would be really neat to take a ride in a hot air balloon. Well, figuring I really meant it, she got me a gift certificate for one ride. Today is the day. I travel to Ephrata which is to the north of Lancaster. After parking the car, I walked to the field where the balloon will launch. I have my camera ready for the fantastic day ahead and I start to take photos of the inflation of the balloon. There are 2 balloons and both are very colorful. The basket will hold about 6-8 people, but for this trip there are only 4 paying customers and the pilot. The basket is a square wicker-type material and I immediately notice that the sides of the basket dip down in the middle to about 4 feet while at the corners they are about 5 feet tall. As I stand in the middle I realize that if I lean over too far to take a photo, I may not be a member of the basket anymore. We lift off first and the thrill of drifting slowly and noiselessly across the farmland is surreal. The owner’s assistant follows the balloon in his van in case there is any problem. Occasionally the flame heats more air to keep up adrift. I’m not sure what height we are, but I would guess about 1000 feet. As we travel across the terrain, people look up and wave or call out to us. It is so different from land travel or even flying in an airplane. I have taken at least 2 rolls of film by now. All are taken from one of the corners of the basket, since I don’t trust the low sides of the basket in the middle. I prefer to return in the same manner that I started. We are now about to do a touchdown and liftoff which should be interesting. Somewhere in a deserted farming area, along a narrow paved road, we start our descent. The wind is now starting to pick up, but doesn’t seem to concern the pilot. We are just about touching the road, which takes a tremendous amount of skill on the part of the pilot, when an Amish buggy comes down the road. The pilot touches down and just as he fires up the flame to start the liftoff, the horse gets spooked and gallops next to us. Because of the increasing wind, the basket of the balloon scrapes along the side of the road catches on some brush and starts to tip over. It tips directly over onto the side where the pilot was standing. We all fall onto him and roll out of the basket. The basket continues to be pulled across the field by the half-inflated balloon until the assistant can control it. The pilot lays injured on the side of the road. We help attend to the pilot until the assistant can get the balloon and the basket loaded onto his trailer and then we help the pilot into the van for a return to our starting location. It sure was a fun time and I can hardly wait to do it again! NOT!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "Life's Passion" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was 12 years old and I was trying to convince my Dad that I should play midget-midget baseball. This is baseball for kids 9-12 years of age. A couple of my friends from the neighborhood were going to play for the Salvation Army team and I wanted to give it a try. I had played baseball all my life and was great at "off the wall" in the parking lot behind my house. Dad wasn't so sure I should be playing with some of the undesirables from the neighborhood. "I'll think about it, but don't count on it," he said. Later that evening after the Lancaster New Era was delivered and he had finished reading it, he told me there were tryouts for the team sponsored by Schick. This is a company that made electric razors in Lancaster. He told me he would take me tomorrow and see if I could make the team. Now, we lived in the north end of the city and Schick practiced at the far south end of the city at a city park. The area was a primarily black neighborhood, but Dad's friend Mr. Hawkins was the coach of the team. Tomorrow couldn't come quick enough! I arose early and got my baseball cap and my first baseman's mitt and put them in the car. The mitt was a gift from my Aunt Doris the previous year and I'm sure she didn't realize it was meant primarily to be used to play first base. After breakfast we headed to the practice field. Wow! It seemed like the entire southern end of the city was there for tryouts. My chances of making the team looked slim. That was until I realized the coach noticed I was the only one with a first baseman's mitt. Best move my Aunt ever made. Needless to say, I wouldn't be telling this story if I hadn't made the team. I was one of 5 white athletes who made the team. I later came to realize Schick was the only team in the league that had any black athletes. My life centered around baseball and I just loved it. My suit seemed to be a permanent part of me. My Dad bought me baseball shoes which had real metal spikes on the bottom of them. I was the first baseman for the team. We came in second to the Slaymaker Lock Company team which was from the center part of the city. They beat us twice during the season by one run each time. One game during the season was against the Salvation Army team. My friend from the neighborhood, Larry S. pitched and I hit my only homer of the year off him. I still believe to this day that he gave me the best pitch he could so I could hit the homer. He smiled at me as I rounded the bases. After the season we entered the "New Era Tournament" which was sponsored by the local newspaper and was for the best teams from the city and the county. We made it to the quarter-finals where we played Terre Hill. The newspaper reported that Tommy R. from Schick pitched a great game fanning 7, Johnny T. had a homer and triple, Butch C. belted a three-bagger and both Bob B. and LDub made terrific catches for the local club. We won 4-1 in the 5 inning game. The semi-finals were against a big Tri-Town team. The paper reported that Johnny T. fanned 8 batters, Tommy R. pounded out a homer, and LDub swatted the ball for a three-bagger with three on board. They didn't mention that Mr. Hawkins, who was coaching third base, was waving me home as I rounded third. He wanted so bad for me to get the grand-slam. Oh, I didn't mention anywhere in this story that I run like I have two left feet. Well, I was out at home, but we won 20-3 so the run didn't matter anyway. The finals were against, yep, you guessed it, Slaymaker. Tommy R. did his best, but we couldn't touch Tony M. We lost by one run again in the finals. Well, I had the best summer of my life and I still have the same passion for baseball that I did that year! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The "Wishbone" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were going horseback riding on the beach. Sounds neat and it is if you can ride a horse. It seems my legs don't wrap around the horse like they are supposed to. I can sit many different ways, but on a horse is not one of them. I thought I would give it one more try. I came up with a great idea to help cushion the ride. I packed a piece of foam 6 inches thick and 2 foot square in my suitcase with the intent of using it to ride the horse. I planned to stuff it in the back of my pants. I cut a "V" in the one side of the foam so it could fit into the legs of my jeans a little better. We arrived at the Provo Pony Stables and met Tammy who would be our guide. She knew she was in for a long trip when she saw me with a big piece of foam in my hand. I explained what I had in mind and asked where I could change into my padding. After she was done laughing, she said this was a very novel idea and wanted to see how it would work. She directed me to the restroom and I stuffed and stuffed and finally got the padding in my pants. Off we went. We walked the beaches along Grace Bay in Providenciales which is on the Caicos Islands in the Caribbean. Who wouldn't enjoy this setting on a beautiful day. Me! I'm sure I looked pretty neat on my big white steed, but my hips and legs felt like someone pulling apart the wishbone on Thanksgiving. I did survive, the padding being useless. A good time was had by most. It would be my last time to ride horses! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. .

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The "That's Entertainment" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were on the beach for a few hours and decided to head to the Sunset Bar and Grill for lunch and the entertainment they had. The Sunset Bar and Grill used to be called the Sunset Beach Bar and was featured on the Travel Channel as one of the 21 Sexiest Beach Bars in the world. They still offer free drinks to women who decide to eat and drink topless, but we have seen very few take them up on their offer. My wife Carol and I arrived about noon and checked out the menu and also the large surfboard they had in front of the bar which listed the entertainment. You see, the entertainment is the arrival of the jet planes which land on the runway immediately next to the beach bar. The runway is just long enough for the large planes and they must touchdown as soon as they clear Maho Beach. People stand on the beach and watch as the jets fly maybe 30-40 feet above their heads. Makes for some great photos. We checked the surfboard and realized an Air France jumbo jet coming from France was due to land in about 30 minutes. Just enough time to order and get our lunch. Hot dog, fries and a Coke for me while Carol had a salad and a Carib. All at once the speakers in the bar announced the arrival of the plane and tuned into the cabin of the plane so you could hear the directions for landing. You will only understand the directions for the landing of this jet if you can speak French. We spotted the plane off in the distance and the excitement in the bar started to grow. Now these are big planes and when they fly right next to you, 30-40 feet above the sand, they tend to make some noise. I'll tell you, THIS IS ENTERTAINMENT! All cameras ready, panning with the motion, shoot, voila! I will never tire of watching and photographing this. After the landing they taxi to the terminal and shortly after a US Air jet prepares for takeoff. It taxis to the end of the runway right next to the beach and turns facing away from the beach, preparing to takeoff. At the end of the runway facing the beach are signs telling you that the jet blast during takeoff could cause you bodily harm. Doesn't seem to matter, since there are always a few crazy fools who defy science and stand behind the planes. Most are blown into the water and I have seen a few who have lost their clothing. You see what I mean by entertainment!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - These photos are not doctored or changed in any way. Just entertaining!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The "Ageless" Story

It was an ordinary day. I had just returned from breakfast with the retired teachers with whom I worked. We numbered about 35 for our monthly breakfast together where we can pass along the latest about our families and news about what we are now doing, or in some cases not doing. My experiences in the MTSD go way back. I went to elementary school, junior high, and high school in the district. After graduation I went to school to become a teacher and ended up teaching at the same high school from which I graduated. I taught with many of the same people who I had as teachers just 4 years before. I never felt uncomfortable or intimidated by them, but I did feel much younger than them. Well today, a few of those teachers sat with me as we discussed a variety of topics over baked oatmeal, eggs, pancakes and scrapple. You know, I still have never tried scrapple. It looks gross and I can only imagine what is in it and what it would do to my body. Across from me was Jake H. who I swear still looks the same as he did when I had him for 12th grade history. Full head of hair, good looks with no wrinkles and the same young smile and temperament. He had the scrapple. Maybe I should eat some. At the other end of the table was Joe R. who I had for English in 11th grade. I thought he was old then! He now walks with a cane and can't drive, but he sure can eat. Next to me was Mr. H. He was the principal for most of my 35 years I taught and he also taught math when I was a student at MTHS. He was a fantastic athlete in college and still works for the PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Asso.) I could never call him by his first name when I was a teacher and still find it impossible to call him anything but Mr. H. Needless to say I can't say anything bad about him in this story. As I look around the room I realize how little hair some have, how many are excessively overweight, how many have hearing aids and how many wrinkles there are as compared to last month. Tough getting older, but it sure beats the other result. I remember when we were all younger. Those were the good old times. For some, aging has been gentle, but for others, it has not treated them very nicely. For me, when I look in the mirror I still see the same person I did all my life and I'm happy with that. At least I can still look in the mirror! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The "Fast Red" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was sitting at my desk at school in room 308 and a few of my students were leaning over to see what I was doing. Then, something caught their eye under the glass panel I kept on the top of my desk. "I can't believe that's his car!" "Maybe that's not really him in the picture or he photoshopped himself into the picture." "It can't be his." A few of the comments I heard when they saw the copy of "Vette Magazine" under the glass. My bright red-on-red car was featured in the September 1998 issue of the magazine. No teacher would own a red sports car. That's not allowed. My wife Carol and I always loved red sports cars, especially Corvettes. We had the faux-type cars - she a red '65 Austin Healey Sprite and me a '68 Impala convertible, but never THE REAL THING! Well the story goes like this......We were shopping for flowers for our house and outside the nursery sat this bright red Corvette with a "For Sale" sign in the window. We parked and I told her, "you check out the flowers, I'm going to take a look at the car out by the highway." I copied the phone number down and put it in my pocket. A few days later when I put those pants on again I found the piece of paper and called the number. The guy that owned the car, Mike, worked at the airstrip next to the nursery. He gave me the price and it seemed reasonable, but with 2 kids in college and one more to go to school, it was not an option at the moment. The following fall I was having some health issues that turned out not to be life threatening and Carol suggested we might want to find out if we could finance the purchase that we had always talked about. Boy, I hopped on that idea real quick. I dialed the number again. Seems Mike had a change of heart and decided to keep it. Had low mileage and was in great shape so why not keep it. I pleaded my case and he had a soft heart. Carol and I went to the hangar where he had the car for a look. There it was! I looked at her and she quietly said, "I think this is the one". Everyone who owns a Vette feels that their car is the ultimate, and we felt the same about the car sitting in front of us. "Want to take a test drive?" Mike said. He works at an airstrip remember. Before long we "taxied" to the end of the runway. "Remember, this is a Corvette" Mike said. I tramped on the pedal and started shifting. We were halfway down the runway and I looked at the speedometer. Wow, almost 100! And I only had the pedal halfway down. Agreed on a price and made arrangements for delivery. That night it was raining. Can you drive a car like this in the rain? I made it home and it barely fit into our 1929 home's semi-detached garage. Our youngest son was now in college and he found out about the car. He was home immediately. A few years passed and I wrote the article for the magazine and was lucky to have it published. Now I had new admirers viewing my bright red Vette that was on my desktop. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The "No Soup For You!" Story

It was an ordinary day. Carol and I were traveling to the world famous "Naughty Goose" restaurant in Northeast, MD for lunch with our friends Pat and Dale K. The "Naughty Goose" is on a cove which enters into the Northeast River and is world famous because they say it is. It is a marina which has indoor and outdoor seating. We chose the outdoor so we could see and hear the boat traffic. It is starting to head into fall so the weather is cooler and the activity at the marina is decreasing, but still an enjoyable place to eat lunch. For lunch the girls had salads and the guys had crab cake sandwiches with a bowl of seafood bisque. Now, I need to take a break in the story to tell you about our travels with Pat and Dale. This past summer Dale invited us to a Phillies game. His business has 4 box seats behind the 3rd base dugout so we made the trip to see the Phils win a game. We left early and after parking, entered and ate at McFaddens which is an on site restaurant at the stadium. We were seated immediately and all ordered sandwiches, fries and drinks. A short time later our food arrived and we all began eating. All of a sudden Dale stopped eating his sandwich and pulled a 1/2" piece of green plastic out of his mouth. Our plates were green plastic, but none of them were missing a piece. A piece from another plate must have broken off and went into his meal. Luckily he did no damage to his mouth. He called the waiter and was given another sandwich and was told there would be no charge for his meal. A few weeks later Pat and Dale were getting ready to go on vacation and we were heading to the shore so we arranged to eat supper with them so we could talk about our trips. We went to Isaac's and ordered the 1/2 cup of soup and 1/2 a sandwich special plus drinks. The food arrived and ........... yep! Dale bit into his sandwich, stop chewing and excused himself. He headed to the bathroom. Upon his return he told us he bit into something hard, but after examining what was in his mouth he found nothing that was hard. Again, he had no damage and finished his sandwich. Now, back to the "Naughty Goose." The soup arrived first. Carol wanted to try my seafood bisque and did so, but Pat doesn't like seafood (can you believe that?) so Dale started in on his soup. Big chunks of fish, crab, etc. I reclaimed my soup and joined Dale. I saw him pick up his knife and start to try to cut something. Now, I had nothing in my soup that would have required a knife, but maybe he had a big piece of fish or something. You bet he did. It was the something I mentioned. It was a big chunk of Saran Wrap they had dropped in his soup. I looked at him and said, "Dale, no soup for you!" It was an extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The "Sir Speedy" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was in my backyard at 929 N. Queen St. I was sitting in my pup tent that my Aunt Doris had bought for me. I had an old carpet, small chair and desk and plenty of snacks. I started my own company. I loved to play with the small printing set that my parents had bought for me. It included a small block printing press with water soluable ink and a roller. You could set rubber letters on the bed of the printing press, ink them and print them on paper. I started my own newspaper in that pup tent. I did stories about my family and the neighborhood. I only had so many rubber pieces of type and had to keep the stories short. What I needed was more letters. 929 N. Queen was next door to Science Press which was a printing company. They used the linotype method of printing where a compositor would type stories into the machine and metal letters in reverse form would fall into place. The lines were usually 3-4 inches long which would accommodate about 6-8 words. Molten metal was poured into the form to produce the lines of type. After the lines of type were printed they could be remelted and used over again. At the rear of our yard was an alley which stopped at Science Press. There was a double door at this point so they could receive supplies. Since the press room was extremely hot during the summer months due to the lack of airconditioning, they always kept the doors open for ventilation. They also threw their used lines of type into a bin by the door until they were needed for remelting. Can you guess where I found the perfect place for a supply of letters? My only problem was that my stories now had to have the same words in order as the lines of type I found inside the door. Hey, no problem for a struggling reporter and printer! Made for unusual reading. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The "Yer Out!" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were preparing to play the big game at Schaeffer Elementary School for the championship of the "B" league. I was coaching my son Derek's team with Lanny A. who's son Dave was also on the team. We were playing against a team coached by Dallas L. who's son Andy played for him. Both Derek and Andy were leftys and both were very successful that year. Now, you have to realize that these boys are 10 years old and if you can throw the ball across the plate with any speed at all you will be successful. The sidelines were packed with family and friends from both teams to help cheer the boys on to victory. I was responsible for putting the lines on the field to register the area in play. I used a lime machine to make lines that were semi-straight, then hammered the bases in place. We were ready to go. Wait! We needed umpires. "Who wants to umpire," I asked the sidelines. I found a volunteer for the bases and Stan M. told me he would umpire behind home plate. We dug out the mask and chest protector for Stan and it was game time. The game was very close for the entire game with Derek and Andy pitching very well. Since we were home team we batted last. Going into the last inning we were ahead by one run. The opposing team came to bat and managed to get runners to 2nd and 3rd. There were now 2 outs and Andy L. came to the plate. He not only was a good pitcher, but a good batter. Derek threw a strike on the first pitch and Andy disagreed with umpire Stan. He told him. Remember he is 10 years old and umpire Stan is ........older. "Get back in the batter's box" Stan told him. Pitch number 2 was also a strike. Andy REALLY was upset with umpire Stan now. If Andy got a hit it could win the game. "Young man, you better swing at the next pitch, because I don't care where it is, it will be a strike," umpire Stan told Andy. Derek looked over at me and I signaled to throw the ball at eye level. That's where the pitch was and Andy swung at it. "Yer Out," cried the Umpire. Game over. We Win! It was and extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The "It's Hereditary" Story

It was an ordinary day. All of a sudden, my cell phone made this funny noise. My daughter Brynn had sent me a pix. I knew right away what it was. Didn't know whose arm it was or what was wrong with it, but I knew it wasn't good. Tried calling her immediately, no answer. Oh no! What's wrong. I gave it a few minutes and tried again. "Courtney (my grand daughter) broke her arm!" she told me. Fell off the monkey bars at school and landed on her right arm. She made her way to the school nurse who called Brynn and told her she might want to come pick Courtney up since her arm was swelling and starting to discolor. Two good clues that it was broken. After a trip to the doctor and Xrays, Courtney was given the bad news. BROKEN RIGHT ARM! She had a soft cast put on her arm and was told to return the next day for a permanent hard cast. The arm needed time for the swelling to go down. She was a real trooper through all of this and didn't complain much of any pain, but everyone knew it had to hurt. She was given her choice of color for the cast and picked red, since her Daddy's football team, the Quince Orchard Cougars (2007 Maryland State Champs), has red and black as their colors. Has to wait at least a month for the healing to take place before the cast can come off. Now the story begins........it seems that her Tampah (Me) broke his right arm when he tried to lasso a pigeon from a garage roof and fell off when he was about 12 years old (the "Wounded Pigeon" story). I never got to choose what color cast I had. Didn't matter anyway, since it was dirt color in no time. And, it seems that her mother Brynn broke her arm when she was 4 years old. How? Yep! Climbing on the monkey bars that we had just constructed in our backyard. She REALLY broke her right arm! My wife Carol and I both heard her fall and scream at the same time. I rushed to her and saw right away it was broken. When she tried to hold it up it would bend at a right angle in the middle of her forearm. We put a support under her arm and rushed her to the hospital right away. Didn't need Xrays for a diagnosis here. Both bones broken. No color choice for her either. After six weeks she was as good as new. We have already warned Courtney, "if you ever have chldren, keep an eye on them because one of them will probably break their right arm." It's hereditary!! It was an extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The "The Record" Story

It was an ordinary day. My Mom, Dad, brother Stevie, Aunt Lillian, cousins Judy and George, my Aunt Doris and my friend Bill H. were on vacation. We were spending a week at Aunt Doris' cottage along the Elk River in Maryland. We always had so much fun together as a family. I loved to swim, but my favorite passion was fishing. Bill enjoyed fishing also, at least I think he did. I guess he had no choice! From sunrise to sunset, we were on the boat dock with our fishing rods, worms, can of corn and chairs trying to catch the BIG ONE! This particular year I told my Dad I was going for "The Record." I'm not sure what record I was going to break, but break it I would. Anything counted in my quest. Channel catfish, sunnies, slimy eels, crappies and the extra big carp. The only breaks we would take was for swimming and rowing the boat. Oh yes, we had to take time out for food. I don't remember taking any showers, but I guess my Mom made sure I took one every now and then. I truly don't remember ever wearing suntan lotion when I was a kid at the bay. Might be the reason for the need to see the skin doctor yearly now. One thing I still remember though was the big bug zapper that hung above the dinner table. It would make the neatest noise when a bug would hit it. Big collection of bugs always filled the table in the morning. If we had to take a trip to the store or market for more worms and corn, I would always bait the line and tie the rod to the dock in case a big one would hook itself. It became apparent after a few days that catching 100 fish during the week may be "The Record" I was going after. The end of the week rolled around and I was getting close. Saturday arrived and packing and cleaning were the chores of everyone except Bill and I. I was going to make 100 fish. The car was packed and everyone was sitting in the car while I kept fishing. Dad blew the horn and I yelled, "just one more!" The horn again. Finally Dad got out of the car. "OK, we'll be there in a minute." "Just one more" I told Bill. "Take your stuff up and put it in the car and I'll pretend I'm putting my stuff away." "I know I can do it!" Well, Dad wasn't going to wait any longer. As he headed down the steps toward the dock, I had the bite. #100. It only counted if I got the fish onto the dock. Didn't have to keep him hooked as long as he made it onto the dock. Those were the rules for "The Record". A crappie. These are little buggers to catch and he got off just before I got him on the dock. Well, "The Record" still stands at 99. Still haven't beaten it. It was an extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The "Tattoo Man" Story

It was an ordinary day. My wife and I had just found out that our youngest son, Tad, had a tattoo. One of his own designs on his arm. We weren't too happy about it. "How long have you had that?" I questioned him. "Not long" was the response. Now Tad was 18 at the time and a fantastic son. Loved sports, did good in school, and was planning to go to Antonelli School of Photography. "Where did you get it done?" I wanted to know. "Dad, Steve L. did it at his place, Transcending Flesh" he said. Steve was a student of mine 5 or 6 years prior in photography and graphic arts. A very good student of the arts and extremely talented. "Well, no more while you're living here!" I warned him. "OK," he told me. A few months later we found out he had done it again. We were on summer vacation with friends and he took his shirt off to go water skiing and there it was on his back. Some kind of oriental symbol. I have no idea what it was. As a matter of fact, that week we visited our minister from church who had a cottage at the bay and her husband, after seeing the tattoo, told him he thought it meant "dumb s**t". Here we go again. "No more of those or you can't drive the car anymore!" "OK,Dad." Well, it was off to photography school in the fall and we only got to see him about once a month. He started to wear long sleeved shirts and no shorts whenever we would visit him at school. At Thanksgiving it struck again. His leg! Most of it! OK, anymore and you pay for your own schooling," I warned him this time. Now, he still had a room at our house and was still driving my car. Do YOU think I really meant it? It wasn't long before another one appeared. I didn't say a word. No sense wasting my breath. I was starting to realize he was expressing himself differently that I did. Hey, he was a good kid and we loved him anyway. As the years went by he had more elaborate and intricate tattoos. Steve was getting more skilled also with his talents. Tad never got a tattoo that couldn't be covered with his clothing. It did make it harder for him to vacation with us since he could no longer be out in the sun, because the sun would fade and discolor his palette (his body). His only problem is that he enjoys hockey, whether it be street, roller or ice, and at times he loses a layer or so of his skin due to falls and collisions. This tends to ruin his artwork, but it usually can be repaired. He even has me convinced I need a tattoo. As soon as I find a neat beach umbrella with a lounge chair under it by a palm tree, I may make a visit with him. A little over a year ago my Father died. Tad carries his name (Paul) and was extremely close to him. I made a collage of photos for display at the funeral and one of the photos featured Dad in his army uniform. Dad was a WWII veteran. Tad asked for a copy of the picture. I should have put 2 and 2 together, but I wasn't a math teacher. One day he showed us his arm. From wrist to elbow on the inside of his arm was a spectacular image of Dad in his uniform with initials and date of birth and death. Other war images added to the design. Very touching! Remember, this isn't something that comes off. My wife and I admired it and then my wife said, "where will you put Dad and I when we die?" Tad said "Oh, I'm saving a spot for both of you." "Hey Tad, make sure it isn't on your butt!" It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The "Dutch Connection" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were waiting for our friends Jeff and Nancy L. and their daughter Meredith to arrive on "Explorer of the Seas". Jeff and I had taught together for many years and Nancy also worked for the same school district, working in the district office. Meredith had just graduated from nursing school and wanted to take a cruise with her parents. Carol and I were staying in a villa in St. Martin and made arrangements to meet them at the cruise terminal in Philipsburg which is the Dutch capital of St. Martin. We were going to take them to Orient Beach on the side of St. Martin so Meredith could experience a truly beautiful French beach. St. Martin/Sint Maarten is the largest island shared by 2 countries. They were to call us on their cell phone at 9:00 AM and we would pick them up outside the terminal. It was raining heavy as we waited for the call. At about 9:15 I thought I would try his cell number. My cell register "no signal". Now what? Well, we hopped in the car and headed to the terminal. Upon arriving we turned into the gate and were met by security. "What business do you have here?" they asked. We told them that cell phone service was out and we needed to try find our friends. I was given a parking place next to the security house and they confiscated my driver's license. My wife wasn't as lucky. Since she did not have any ID with her, they kept her in the security house. I guess they wanted to make sure I would return! There were 2 ships in this day with about 6,000 passengers expected to disembark and explore the island. What were my chances of finding them? I started at one end of the taxi/bus stand and headed towards the other end. Half-way through I heard my name. Nancy was standing right next to me. They were preparing to get in a taxi, but quickly got out and followed me back to car. At the security house we picked up Carol and my license. Back to the villa to wait out the rain. By 11:00 AM we were on our way to Orient. We rented chairs and umbrellas and started with our sand gravity. After a late lunch at "Baywatch" and another dip in Orient Bay, we headed back to Philipsburg. We dropped them off for some shopping before they returned to their ship. Meredith really enjoyed her day, since Orient Beach is clothing optional! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The "Headless Person" Story

It was an ordinary day. I had just finished working at Grebinger Gallery where I have been declared the master framer (not quite sure if this is good or bad). You see I am the only employee besides the owners Keith and Cindy so I guess I am the "master" since I am the OLDEST employee. Back to the story. As I round the turn in the road heading home I immediately see a person with long hair fall off the roof of a porch on my right. They did a flip in mid-air and landed on a metal fence which is in the front yard of the house. Whoooopppp! Their head was separated from their body by the sharp metal fence! Boy, was I stunned and scared!! I immediately swerved to my right as the messy head rolled across the highway in front of me. A car coming the opposite direction jammed on his brakes to avoid hitting the head as it crossed in front of him. It ended up on the berm of the road across from me as I passed by. I was ready to pull over and get my cell phone out when I saw the mess it created was the orange guts and seeds from a pumpkin. It will be Halloween in a few weeks and someone had not securely fastened their extremely lifelike decorations to their house. It really did work though. I WAS SCARED S**TLESS! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "The Generous" Story

It was an ordinary day. My granddaughter Camille M. had called to tell me about her day. She loves to share her stories with her Tampah and Amah. Some days you have to encourage her to tell you the details about her life while other days she tends to do on and on...........Really fun to listen to her. I can't believe a 5 year old has this many life experiences which she can remember. Wow, if I could only remember half of what happened to me when I was 5. This particular day she was describing her experiences with her new adventure, lacrosse. This is followed by stories about a boy in her class that seems to get in trouble all the time, followed by stories about her friend Casey B. "And Tampah, my mom says you should email Ellen "The Generous" who has a show on TV." She went on to tell me that her mom says this lady likes stories from the Internet. From a 5 year old. Pretty neat isn't it? At least I think so. Well my daughter finally did get on the phone and mention that Ellen might enjoy some of the stories I have published on this blog, since they carry the same subtle humor that she expresses. Sure, why not try. Hey, I'll let you know what she says. People have been telling me for years that I should write a book about my life experiences and after seeing "Julie and Julia" a short time ago, I thought a blog would be fun to try. After all, I do have an unlimited supply of stories, since I am ancient, at least to the grand kids. And as for those of you that enjoy reading about the adventures in my life, I have finally figured out how to allow you to add a comment. Try one, please. At least it will let me know that when I push "Publish" that someone else besides me can see them. I have a SS mentality towards computers (semi-savvy or maybe semi-stupid), but am learning all the time. Hard too believe I allegedly taught desktop publishing courses in high school for a few years before I retired. Oh well, it was an extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The "Chocolate Kiss" Story

It was an ordinary day. My wife Carol and I were going to exchange our Valentine's Day cards and gifts after work today. I thought all day what I would get from my wife for Valentine's Day. I'm not sure anymore what I got for her, but that's not part of the story anyway. She beat me home that day and put my card and gift on the dining room table. About and hour or two later she discovered the bad news. You'll see! I probably was not going to get my present. Well, I arrived home and handed her the card and gift I had for her. She handed me my card and something rather unusual. I must tell you at this time in the story that we had a part-Beagle, part Dachshund dog that we had claimed years ago from the SPCA. He was truly our family's best friend, but he did enjoy eating. Well, my gift for this holiday was a 1 pound chocolate "Hershey Kiss" with teeth marks in it, dog hair all over it, and wrapped in a mangled piece of red foil. Just what I wanted! I'm sure by now that you figured out what happened to my gift. The only part I couldn't figure out was how he managed to get up on the dining room table. We never did figure it out. It was an extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "Pepper Meatballs" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were having our daughter Brynn and her boyfriend Dave for supper that evening. I was making spaghetti and my famous meatballs for supper. I went shopping for all the ingredients and was ready to prepare the meatballs. We wanted to make a good impression for Brynn since she seemed to really like this guy. She was a senior at Millersville University and my wife Carol and I were helping her search for a "nice guy." It seems we already had 3 strikes against us in the match hunt. The first fellow who took her out on a date worked with my wife and we were told he spent the whole evening talking about his life insurance. The second date was a juvenile parole officer who my mother lined her up with and for dinner he ordered them catfish and after returning to his place offered her beer. She was 19 and he was a JUVENILE PAROLE OFFICER! The third party was a boring 7 foot basketball player who picked her up in his compact car and had to drive with his knees scrunched up against his body. They went out for Chinese food and all the people in the restaurant were about 4 1/2 feet tall. So you see why we wanted to make a good impression! Now back to the story. I took a pound of 70-30 ground beef (the good stuff) and placed it in a mixing bowl and added a cup of chopped onions. Next I put 2 eggs and a 1/2 cup of milk in to help hold it together. The final ingredients were a 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, a tablespoon each of sugar, salt, and pepper. Whoops!!! The lid fell off the pepper container as I was pouring it into the measuring spoon, and it was a new container. Overdid the spicy part LDub, didn't you. Well I tried to scoop out as much as I could because it was too late to start over. In to sauce to cook. Evening was going fine and then it was time to eat. We dished out the spaghetti and meatballs and I waited for the approval. We were eating them and someone said, "boy, these meatballs are really spicy." Seems everyone agreed they were the "make your mouth burn and your eyes water" meatballs. I did fess up and the meatball boyfriend is still with us after 11 years. He must have liked them! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The "Locket" Story

It was an ordinary day. It was my wife's birthday! Dinner and a present. I'm not quite sure were or what we had for dinner, because that's not the important part of the story. You see the present was the best part. I gave her a gold locket that I had engraved with her name and her birth date. It opened and had a spot for a photo on one side and the engraving on the other side. Pretty neat I thought! I was so excited to give her the gift. She opened it slowly and was very impressed with the gift. That was until she read the engraved words! Another bit of information is needed right now.......my brother also has a birthday the same month as my wife, but not the same day. Any guesses what I did? You got it. I had the wrong date engraved. I said, "well at least I got the name right!" I did promise that it would never happen again, but promises are hard to keep though, you know. It was an extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "Dead Fish" Story

It was an ordinary day. My wife and I were on our way to North East, MD to deliver photographs which I sell at Kathy's Corner. On this trip we have our grandson Caden W. with us. He is a super little boy who we love dearly and who always has a question or two to challenge us. It would prove to be no different this beautiful day. The sun was warm and the sky was without a cloud as we drove to the south end of the city to eat at the world famous "The Naughty Goose." How do I know it is world famous? They say so on their shirts they sell, so there. We ask for a seat on the deck so that we can see and hear the boats at the pier. We are given a seat in the second row back from the rail which doesn't have the best view and I can tell this will not work with the inquisitive mind we have brought with us. "Look there" I say and point as someone is preparing to leave from a table right by the water. Caden and I quickly jump up and move while my wife realizes that she will have to eat by herself if she doesn't move also. GREAT SEATS! Right by the edge. Now we can really see all the action. So many new things to see and explain. We give our order of crab cake sandwiches and mac & cheese (I know you can figure out who gets what) in between looking at the big forklift picking the boats off the top row of the storage unit and placing them in the water and watching the boats which are entering the harbor. We wanted some engine noise and boy did we get it. The twin engine Scarab speed boats which pass gas through them twice as fast as I have a tendency do have a decibel level that makes talking impossible. I enjoy watching them as much as Caden does. Nothing to explain here since noise and speed can be understood by both of us. The food arrives and is consumed with one eye on the plate and one eye on the water. After finishing our meal we head down the steps to the dock to get a closer look at the boats. "What are those things floating in the water Tampah?" (That's what I am called by all my grand kids) as Caden points to the large dead carp in the water. I tell him that they are fish that died from maybe being hit by a boat or because they were old. Can you think of something else to tell him? No response from Caden, but you know something else will come up later. We watched for a few more minutes and headed back to the car. After delivering my photos we headed back to Lancaster. A short time later as we traveled home we were discussing small farm animals and I told Caden that my Grandpap would take me to Roots Sale (a local farmers market and auction) and sometimes buy me an animal. "Where is your Grandpap?" Here we go. "Well, he is in Heaven.," I answer. "When will you see him again?" I replied, "when I die and go to Heaven." "NOOOOO!" Caden says half jokingly and half serious. Then silence. Well, we travel more and I see a sign advertising puppies for sale. I tell Caden that I had a dog named Arnold. "Where is he?" My reply was "in Heaven with Grandpap." SILENCE again as he stared out the window of the car. A short time later he was sound asleep. My wife and I tried to think of what we would tell him after he woke. Lucky for us he slept all the way home. Later that night we were talking to our daughter-in-law Barb and we asked her what Caden thought of his trip. She said he was extremely impressed with the dead fish! Another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.