Extraordinary Stories

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The "Who's got the Poison Pooh?" Story

It was an ordinary day. The kids were in the water having a good time. They always have a good time when we go on vacation with the Howrys. Have been doing it for a few years now. The Howrys live up the street from us and we go to the same church. We have 3 kids, they have 3 kids. Mostly the same ages. This year we have traveled to the Elk River which is close to Locust Point. The Elk is one of the rivers that empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Just around the corner is the Bay. The water is cloudy. Can see maybe, on a good day, six inches under water. The bottom is sandy with a few pebbles from the shore to maybe 15 feet from shore. After that it is muck. Really slimy muck. Probably made that way from all the fish taking dumps in the water. Well, the kids have made up a game called "Who's got the poison pooh?" Once they reach the end of the sandy area they reach down, or dive down if the tide is in, and scoop up a handful of the the muck. Pretty gross. After they surface with the stuff, they proceed to rub it on someone else or they throw it at the closest person. They play this every day until some one cries. Usually is Tad, our youngest. He doesn't enjoy having the poison pooh all over him. You know, some places we travel to in the Caribbean charge you big bucks to have your body covered in poison pooh. They call it a mud bath. Probably isn't the exact same stuff, but sure looks like it. The game goes on sometimes for hours. You get the poison pooh on you and you either wipe it off or get more from the bottom and sling it at someone else. Every now and then my wife will get in the game. Count me out, though. Then there is the other game where they pick out a person and see how much they can stack on their head. Tad usually gets the worst of that also. And then he cries. It's been years now since we have been to the bay with the Howrys. Gary H. died on April 9 quite a few years ago. Trips haven't been the same since. But, the kids STILL talk about "Who's got the poison pooh?" every summer when we head to the shore. Tad's older now and doesn't cry anymore when they joke about it with him! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Top pix shows the kids having fun on the "dock of the bay" while the bottom has from left oldest Derek, Brynn in the middle and Tad on the right playing "Who's got the poison pooh?" In memory of Gary H.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The "GG Tour" Story

It was an ordinary day. We are getting in GG's white taxi for a tour of Antigua. Antigua lies in the Lesser Antilles, 17 degrees north of the equator, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Antigua declared their independence from England in 1981. The island has about 108 square miles of land and 85,632 residents with a democratic government. And ..... GG knows every inch of every square mile every resident on the island!! I met GG the first day at our resort. I went looking for a rental place to get a car for a week and came upon a group of guys playing "Warri", an island board game. GG saw me and responded first with, "What can I do for you?" I said, "Who's in charge?" He looked at me and with a smile said, "We all look the same to you, don't we?" Wow, how do you respond to that? Then he started to laugh, came over to me and put his hand on my shoulder. He looked to be close to my age and the most outspoken of the group. "Didn't mean to offend you," he said. "No offense taken," I said as I returned the smile. Then I asked him about the rental. "You don't want a car. I can take you anywhere you want for less money." And after seeing the rates for rentals on the side of the building next to us, he was right. "How about a tour of your island tomorrow? Four people," I asked. "I'll meet you in front of the resort at 8:00 AM. Make a list of what you want to see and I'll add it to what I'm going to show you. It'll cost you $120 for the four of you. Bring a towel and your swim suit and money for lunch. I'll have you back in time for supper." We shook hands and I headed back to our room. Now we're getting in the taxi for the trip. The trip was probably the best island tour we have ever had. We started with a visit to a lot where they build portable houses for residents. Saw houses in all stages of construction. All wood, bright Caribbean colors and VERY SMALL! From there we traveled to Jolly Harbor which is a premier sailing harbor in the Caribbean. Million dollar ships anchored and docked all around the harbor. Off to the beaches. Passed a few old sugar mills on our way to Ffryes Beach which is a favorite of the locals. Beautiful fine white sand. We walked the beach for a short time then headed to a resort on Coco beach. Made our resort look like a dump. As we drove I noticed new street lights going up along the road. I questioned GG and he told us that the Chinese are installing them for the island at no charge. Yeah, right! They also built a monstrous cricket stadium for the island. GG explained that China wants the Antigua's vote in the UN so they can whale hunt. Whale hunting must be profitable if they are willing to do all this for a vote. It has the island divided politically and morally on this issue. On our way to Darkwood beach we passed the black pineapple farm. Not really black, but darker than regular pineapples. Darkwood beach was beautiful so we stopped for a photo shoot. Next was Carlisle Bay resort. $1,500 a night!!! Gorgeous place. GG knew someone that worked there and he took us for a tour. Would love to stay there, but... From the beach you could see the island Montserrat in the distance which has an active volcano. Big ash cloud over the island. Time to eat. We stopped at a "local stand" for take out. Carol had the fish with rice and salad while Jerry and I had to try the goat water, baked potato and salad. Sue was brave enough to try the beef hoof stew. We headed to Shirley Heights lookout to eat our meal. Shirley Heights is located about Falmouth Harbor and has the best view of any place on the island. But, we weren't able to eat there, since we didn't buy our meal there. GG was annoyed. So we headed to Nelson's Dockyard below Shirley Heights. The dockyard was used for the British ships during operations in the 18th and 19th centuries and was named for Adm. Horatio Nelson,who was said to have hated the island. Great place for lunch and GG got a free tour for all of us. We then conitnued to Half Moon Bay which is said to be one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Maybe years ago, but not now! On to Devil's Bridge which is known as the location where local slaves, years ago, would go to end their life. Next, on to Long Bay Beach for a relaxing swim while GG napped for half an hour in his taxi. Calmest waters on the island. Trip continued with a tour of one of the oldest churches on the island, St. Peters, and then to Betty's Hope which was a restored sugar mill. We got to watch the sunset as we headed home. It was a tremendous day with a very gracious host and driver. We look forward to using GG for our driver for the rest of vacation. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Tour pixs from top: GG with his taxi, visiting portable housing site, Ffryes beach, black pineapple plantation, Carlisle Bay resort with Montserrat erupting in background, dishing out the goat soup, Shirley Heights lookout, Nelson's Dockyard, Halfmoon Bay beach, GG posing with us at Devil's Bridge and Betty's Hope sugar plantation.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The "Dancing With My Star" Story


It was an ordinary day. 10:00 PM. "Dancing with the Stars" had just ended. First show of the season. One of my favorite shows. If I have to watch a reality show, this is going to be the one. Hey, you guys reading this who have never watched it, you should start. The girls on this show try to see who can wear the least amount of clothing. And the guys throw them around while grabbing almost every part of their body. All in the name of dance! The professional dancers are assigned to a "Star" who may or may not be someone you have heard of. Usually are a few athletes, an actor or actress or two, sportscasters, an astronaut, an ex-senator, reality show stars and musical performers. The hosts of the show this year are comedian Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke. There are also three judges: Carrie Ann, Len and Bruno who are professional dancers who assign a score after the contestants complete their dance. And ...... the viewers vote for their favorites. I actually did this one time!! The votes are tallied weekly and they eliminate a "Star" every week. She was a professional wrestler and came in second in an earlier competition. The set, lighting and band are really great. After watching it about 5 years ago, I was hooked. I would constantly go in to the framing gallery where I work the next morning after the show had aired and talk to Keith, my boss and former student, about who did what. Keith doesn't have cable TV so he never watched it. I always told him I wish I could dance like that. My mom and dad were great dancers and every wedding we would attend with them, they always won the competition for best dancers at the wedding reception. They could do the foxtrot, waltz, jitterbug and anything else that they did on the show. Not fair though, since they belonged to a dance club. My mom watches it all the time. I have two left feet it seems and Carol doesn't know which one to follow when we dance. We slow dance by rocking back and forth in the same spot. Well, two years ago at Christmas I gave Kieth and his wife Cindy a big basket from Hickory Farms and they gave me a ....... (ready for this?) ..... a gift certificate for dance lessons!! Two hour long lessons and two half hour lessons with the professionals at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio. I'm in my sixties and I'm going to take dance lessons. I put it off and off and finally we had to go or the expiration date on the gift certificate would pass. I called and made arrangements for Monday of the next week at 7:00 PM. Time arrived and we entered the door. Uh, oh! More couples. And they were dressed for dancing with dancing shoes. Didn't know you needed special clothing and shoes. Turns out they were in a special group class and Carol and I were by ourselves. Whew!! Our instructor asked us what type of dance we wanted to learn and we told her something slow. After an hour of practicing one ... two ... three ... four, she wanted us to make our next appointment. And .... sign up for a few more months of lessons, since she could see we weren't going to be pros after a couple. We told her we had to check our date book and would call soon. Luckily, I couldn't locate the date book. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The "Italian Big 50th" Story


touristic and artistic resort. It has a total area of 53 square miles, an elevation of 1,063 feet and a population of 7,105. As we walk through the main entrance you feel like you are stepping back in time. No motorized vehicles are allowed within the walls of the city. Pathways are stone from eras past and the architecture is amazing. The frescoes which cover the walls depict the renaissance lifestyle. I find it hard to believe that I am walking on the same stones that saints walked on thousands of years before. We walk to the heart of the town that contains four squares, Piazza della Cisterna, Piazza Pecori, Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza Duomo where the Collegiata is located. We tour The Collegiata which is a church that was once a cathedral. Boy, is this Italian!! The view from inside the city of the surrounding countryside with the olive trees and vineyards is breathtaking. After our tour we leave the walled city and head to the Fattoria San Donato, a nearby winery, where we will have lunch and celebrate the "Big 50th" birthday of one of our fellow travelers, Rob Broucht, with a song, a toast and a roast. Wild boar, to be exact.
The wine flows freely in this area of the world. The songs and the toasting gets louder as the wine tasting continued. Rob had been a friend for many years and his mother, Mary Lou is our tour guide and former minister of our church, St. James Episcopal. It seems the barrel dried up so we head back to Florence for a rest, th
en supper. Oh yeah, can't forget the late night trip for gelato!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Pixs from the top: Carol and I at the entrance to the city San Gimignano, frescoes on the walls of the city, two of the remaining towers of the city, a view of the olive trees and vineyards and a birthday photo

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The "Teacher's Helper" Story

It was an ordinary day. My final student teacher had just finished his term with me. Freedom at last I thought. This is not always the case with my student teachers. I have had many that did a fantastic job and are now teaching across the state and also in neighboring states. But, I had a few duds. Really bad! During my 33 years of teaching high school Industrial Arts, I had 36 student teachers. All came from Millersville University, formerly Millersville State Teachers College. You may not have a student teacher, until you have taught for several years. After 5 years of teaching, I was approached by Millersville about taking a student teacher for a semester. Fun experience. It is quite a bit of work and a tremendous responsibility. But, you are paid for your efforts and expertise. $300. Comes to about $1 an hour for all the time you must spend with the student teacher and the forms you must fill out. I did enjoy it and felt I owed Millersville for putting up with me for over 4 years. Some years I was asked to take a student teacher for both semesters and two years I had four, each staying with me for 9 weeks. Eventually Manheim Township School District put a limit on having a student teacher of one per year. OK by me. Now I had an excuse if I didn't want one. Some student teachers I had knew very little about the subject. How they reached this point in their career was a mystery to me. So, they became an extra student in my room. I had one named John who was balding and had a hair transplant. Neat rows of a few strands of hair in each hole. Students didn't take too well to him. He also, after finding out my father was a jeweler, leaned on me to help him in his love life and get a cheap engagement ring. Nice enough guy, but didn't get a high rating from me. Then there was Ryan who did a fantastic job. He was very tech savvy and taught not only the students, but me, how to design and construct a web page. I'm not sure he stayed in education with the knowledge he had of computers. Another, Jim, was a very dedicated student teacher and eventually was hired by MTSD to replace me, but he was not well liked by the students. Only stayed two years. And lastly, there was Ruth. She was one of two student teachers I had that were female. One was a young girl and then there was Ruth. I had both of her sons in class before she decided she wanted to be an industrial arts instructor. She entered Millersville and eventually ended up in my classroom as my student teacher. Not your traditional student teacher by any means. And she wasn't suited to the course. Her knowledge level was non-existent, but she did end up teaching metal shop in an inner city school district. I will always remember her for her student profile she filled out before student teaching. It was given to me, her cooperating teacher, as she entered student teaching. As I read it I was amazed at what she found important to tell me. Under physical limitations, she wrote that she had ......... a hysterectomy!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The "Tryouts For The Team" Story

It was an ordinary day. Time again for baseball tryouts. For many years I had coached little league baseball as well as girl's softball. Usually in connection with my kids, but I did coach baseball for a few years when I graduated from college. Also played and coached men's league softball, from slow pitch to fast pitch. But, the tryouts are always the most interesting. I remember when I wanted to start coaching little league age kids and searched for a sponsor that would pay the fee for the team and pay for some equipment. Finally found Hamilton Watch Company. They had a team a few years before and had disbanded because they lacked a coach. We were in business again. Did have to use the old equipment, but that didn't matter. We were going to play baseball! My passion!! My cousin's husband, Lance, volunteered to help. I wanted the BEST team in Lancaster so I held tryouts in the south end of the city so the minority kids would have a chance to tryout. Had over 50 kids tryout for a team that I planned to keep at 15. More on that team in another story. Most of my fun memories of tryouts deal with the Manheim Township Youth League. I was asked to coach a travel team and my first tryout was in the SNOW. Freezing cold and the snow was heavy enough at times that I almost lost the little guys in the outfield. But, we survived and had a very successful season. The following season we had tryouts for the travel team and this young fellow showed up with his tennis racket. Richard F. thought his mom had signed him up for tennis. He agreed to try the baseball bat, but it was clear he was afraid to stand in the batter's box. So Wayne, my all the time assistant, got a bat and put it behind him and told him he couldn't step back or he would fall over the bat. Thought it would make him stand in the box. Maybe best if he had fallen over the bat, because with the next pitch I threw, I hit him in the helmet. Never showed up again! Then there are the kids whose parents call and say their son can't make it because....of this or that....and when is the next tryout. I usually reply, "Next year, same time." Then there was the guy in an older age bracket who was trying out and during bunting exercises, I hit in the.....groin area. Not intentionally! After he got over the pain, he walked back to the bench and when he returned he had stuffed a towel in his pants for protection. Had everyone laughing. He made the team right there! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The "It Wasn't Your Textbook Proposal" Story

It was an ordinary day. My daughter is getting married. She met this guy in her Children's Literature class at Millersville University two years ago. Second semester they shared all their classes together. Just a scheduling quirk. But, Brynn and Dave seemed to really enjoy each others company. Before long Brynn was bringing Dave for supper at our house. Naturally Carol and I needed to quiz Dave to see if he was worthy of our daughter. Made a written test that he had to take. Questions such as: Who is the most important woman in your life? and, What has to be served with every meal? were two of the many questions on the quiz. He passed it with flying colors. Whew! A little over a year later Dave talked to me about his plans for a proposal. At the time they both were living with us since they both had jobs in this area and Dave is from Maryland. He was teaching at Quarryville Elementary School in southern Lancaster county and he told Brynn to stop and they would have dinner. Seems the dinner party was coordinated by his 5th grade class who turned the gym into a restaurant, with pizza, salad, fruit cups and cheesecake for dessert. It was on that evening, April 11th, that Dave proposed to his sweetheart, my daughter. A little over a year later on May 9th they got married. Leading up to the wedding was the planning. Invitations were picked and were neat with a small bow on each one. Not wanting them damaged in the mail, I personally took them to the post office and talked to the postmaster and he assured me they would be hand canceled. NOT!! We found a few were totally smashed while others had track marks on them as if run over by a tractor, so I headed to the PO. "And, how did this happen?" I asked postmaster Dave. "I ran out of time and just ran them through the meter," he told me. A nice letter to the US Postal Service with a complaint lead to a very unhappy employee. Won't speak to me anymore when I go in to mail a letter. Brynn and Dave met with Rev. Peter E. from our church, St. James Episcopal, to plan the wedding and the music. Brynn and Dave had a huge wedding party so they decided to rent an RV to transport everyone. I picked it up a day before the wedding and brought it to our house. Wedding Day arrived!! After getting her hair done, Brynn and a few of the girls got dressed at our house and the rest of the girls arrived shortly after noon. Dave S., one of Dave's friends drove the RV to the church at 1:00 PM for the 2:00 PM service. They stayed at the Chapel which is connected to the church and had a few pre-wedding photos taken. The guys also had arrived at the church and were having photos taken. Showtime!! The bridesmaids walked slowly down the aisle to soft music as Brynn and I waited in the bell tower. She had picked out the traditional "Here Comes the Bride" to enter the church. The organist, John, wasn't in favor because he said everyone will say - here comes the bride, big, fat and wide. Right, John! What a yo-yo. He eventually agreed to Brynn's request. But then, after all the girls had entered, the music was to get louder and head into the "Here ..... the bride." Didn't. The music got louder, but stayed the same piece. Well, I looked at Brynn and shrugged my shoulders, we started down the isle. At least people weren't thinking she was big, fat and wide. We weren't going to let the organist ruin the day. Really beautiful wedding and now our daughter is a Mrs. After photos, the wedding party hopped into the RV and off they went.......to Brewer's Outlet. All were so thirsty they needed a few cases of beer before the reception. Must have been a sight when they arrived at the outlet. Reception was held at Olde Hickory Inn in the Grand Ballroom. One side of the room was a huge wooden bar. About 200 guests packed the place and we celebrated, and celebrated, and... Marie, one of Brynn's friends caught the bouquet and Nate, one of Dave's friends caught the garter. Naturally, Nate had to put the garter on Marie and what a production he made of it. So much that the DJ company that did the wedding, hired Nate to work for them. About the only thing that didn't go well was ..... everyone wanted to dance so bad that they started immediately after the meal and didn't take time to eat the huge wedding cake when it was served. Most was thrown out. Well, it's been almost 12 years now, two granddaughters later, and lots of visits to Maryland. Brynn is teaching as is Dave and he is also coach of the QO football team. About the only thing that didn't survive the wedding was the Olde Hickory Inn.It was recently demolished to make way for a convenience store. Couldn't have been something we did, you think? It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Pixs from top are: wedding proposal story as it appeared on the front page of the newspaper, the Bride in our living room before the wedding, Brynn and Dave at St. James Church, Wedding party and the Bride and Groom with their parents Carol and Larry and Joe and Linda. And ....... most important women was "his mother", while "applesauce" must be served with every meal.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The "Return to the Movies" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just returned from the movies. Saw "It's Complicated" with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. Movie was about Jane (Meryl), mother of three grown kids, who owns a thriving bakery, and has an amicable relationship with ex-husband (Alec). And then ..... it's complicated. Just loved the movie. Kind of a chick flick. Not more than a dozen guys in the theatre. But hey, the movies are fun for Carol and I. When we were first married over 43 years ago we used to go to the drive-in as well as the "regular" movies often. Then came kids and loss of revenue for any extras. To show you how long ago that was, the last movie we saw for many years was "10" with Bo Derek. That was in 1979. Movie about a guy named George Webber (Moore) who spots Jenny (Derek) at a bar while on vacation with wife Samantha (Julie Andrews) and ends up having an affair with her. Can still visualize Bo Derek jogging down the beach in Mexico, her beaded and plaited cornrow hair flying in the wind. In the end George and Sam get back together and make love to Ravel's "Bolero." Actually our first venture back to the movies was in 2006 when we went with our friends Jerry and Sue to see Daniel Craig as James Bond in "Casino Royale." Really surprised how theatres had changed. My own recliner chair with nice arm rests, cup holder and plenty of leg room. Seats were elevated so nobody was in front of you. And the sound ........ when the movie started, the action shots made you feel you were in the action. Loved it!! We recently went to see "When in Rome" which was about an NY art curator who goes to Rome to attend her sister's wedding and fall in love. Another chick flick. We went because we wanted to see Rome again. Went a few years ago to Italy and enjoyed it so much that we wanted to relive our adventure. Big disappointment! Most of the movie was NY scenes. BOO!! Did enjoy "Blind Side" with Sandra Bullock who won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Movie about Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) who was known as "Big Mike" and came from impoverished beginnings to be adopted by Sean (Tim McGraw) and Leigh (Bullock) Tuohy and eventually play football for Ole Miss. Pretty neat true story. Oher now plays for the Baltimore Ravens. Actually, the same thing happened in Lancaster. Conestoga Valley football coach Gerad Novak and his wife Gina became guardians for high school freshman, Kevin Kelley, whose mother had to move from the area. Kevin wanted a more stable life and agreed to stay with the Novaks, where he fit right in. He, also, is a star football player and will be playing college football at Div. III Bridgewater, VA. They recently went to see the movie together and saw a re-run of their last 4 years. But, my most favorite recent movie has to be Julie and Julia. Meryl Streep plays chef Julia Child and Amy Adams plays Julie Powell who aspires to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child's cookbook. She plans to do this in one year and describes the challenge in her blog. The movie inspired me so much that on the way out of the theatre I told my wife that I'm going to write a blog about my life stories. I'm more than halfway through the year and still have many more stories to share. Hope you are enjoying them as much as I am writing them. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Girl on top left is Bo Derek with cornrows while bottom left is Gerad and Gina Novak Kevin Kelley.

The "Cat That Lites Up" Story

It was an ordinary day. I had my old eMac computer at school to see if the tech guys could do anything with it. I has been giving me trouble for a few months. Freezes up more often and I have trouble restarting it. Randy is a whiz with Mac computers. I have taken in the power cord, keyboard and mouse. "You didn't have to bring in any of those items," he tells me. "We have plenty of them here." Oh, well. He puts the computer on his work desk and for some reason looks at MY power cord. "Who's been chewing on this?" he asks. "On what?" I reply. Then he holds up my power cord and I see all the teeth marks on it. "Must be my cat Otis," I tell him. Randy then says, "Is he still alive?" he responds. "That's a full 110v going through that line. He must have gotten a charge out of that!" he tells me. "I can't believe it didn't kill him." Otis likes to chew on wires of all sorts. Has enjoyed it for most of his 16 years. Many a problem with our appliances were solved by looking at the power cords. Too numerous a list to tell you here. But, one of the most recent is pretty funny. We were getting ready to put our Christmas Tree up for the season. A few years ago we bought a 12 foot artificial tree. Swore we would never buy an artificial tree, but we did. Then had to by air fresheners that smelled like evergreen. Getting back to the story..... I brought the tree, in 4 sections, into the dining room, with intentions of putting the tree up the next day. Plugged each section into the socket to make sure they all worked. Left the top section plugged in, but turned off, when I was done. The next day rolled around and Carol and I put the bottom three sections together and when we attached the top section and plugged it in, the top section wouldn't light. "Now what?" I yelled. "Now don't get all upset," Carol said. I took the top section off, plugged it in and starting to look for the answer to our problem. "Otis, what did you do to the tree?" I said. "What do you mean?" was Carols response. I held up the two wires that he had chewed through. After a quick repair, the tree looked great again. And....Otis will live to see another cord. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - pix of Otis, "The Chewer"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The "Baywatch" Story

It was an ordinary day. Carol and I are sitting in "Andy & Cheryl's World Famous Baywatch
Bar & American Grill" eating our lunch. This is the neatest place. Open air dining on wooden benches that are bright blue and yellow beside wooden tables painted the same colors. On the right side of the entrance is a sign proclaiming "Garden State Parkway" while on the left is a "Handicapped Parking Only" sign. A small sign standing in the sand says "Naked Egg Diner." The USA, US Marine Corps and Canadian flags fly above the restaurant. Oldies are playing in the background. A short distance away the waves gently lap at the pure white sand. Beach chairs and umbrellas line the edge of the sand. Sound relaxing? It truly is vacation. People of all brands sit with us. Some are bright red from the sun while others are tanned bronze. Some have shorts and T-shirts on while others are topless. Pretty tough eating a burger with the girl across from me dropping ketchup on her boobs from her burger. And...it's not Carol. She's sitting next to me. Another couple came in and needed a spot so Carol and I shared one side of the table and they sat on the other side. You've never experienced true beach freedom until you been to Orient Beach in the Caribbean. Andy (NJ) and Cheryl (NY) are the owners of the restaurant. Really great people. Both moved to St. Martin in the 80s, met and married. Cheryl walks around and greets you with a big smile and a bigger hug. Seems to know everyone. Andy always has his muscle shirt, shorts, hat and apron on. What is so unique about the place are all the license plates from all over North America which adorn the bar and restaurant. One from NY says "SMILFIXR", one from Wisconsin says "1 MOR TME", another from Missouri says "CHCKEN", one from New Hampshire says "I SPY 4 U", a Florida plate says "SND TRTL", one from PA says "XCUUZME", a Maine one says "THIRSTY", "EXMAYOR" is one from New Jersey, another NY one says "O2BNSMX" and on and on and on. Places like this are what makes the Caribbean so special to Carol and I. Today Carol is having the special, "Mussels a la Andy" and a Carib with a slice of lime. The garlic sauce on the mussels is to kill for. I'm having a "You're in Paradise Cheeseburger" which is a 1/3 lb. with lettuce, tomato and sometimes a kiss. Always ask for grilled onions on it and never miss the kiss. We also will share an order of fries. You could order anything in this place and it would be really good. I'm not sure what our new table neighbors ordered, but it was something that she put ketchup on. Next time I'm having "The Furgitabou'tit Italian Dawg." As we finish and bid farewell I notice a poem hanging on the post as we leave and two lines in it say it all, "My comrades are trying to tear me away....as I cling to the steps of this jewel by the bay." It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The "Amish Horse Hero" Story

It was an ordinary day. Sunday. We are on our way home from Chesapeake City where we had a great lunch at the Bayard House while watching the large freighters and barges going up and down the C & D Canal. This canal is the third busiest canal for boat traffic in the world. Panama and Suez are the only two that top it. Chesapeake is a small town with a few good restaurants, a dozen or so interesting shops and the neatest historical houses. Only an hour and a quarter from our house so it makes for a nice day trip with friends. Pat and Dale K. went with us today. To get home we must pass across the Octorara Reservoir. This is a beautiful lake that is owned by the Chester Water Authority to supply drinking water to the surrounding areas. As we drive on the road crossing the reservoir we see a horse and buggy in front of the car that is in front of us. "Services must be over for the day," I say to everyone. The Amish meet every other week for Sunday Services. They travel from farm to farm within the church district for their services. Services start at 8:00 AM so they must arrive early. Someone is in charge of the horses and buggies as they arrive. After a three hour service they celebrate with a meal and then socialize. They must have just started to leave the farm as we approached this area. Always makes for slower traffic. But wait! That horse is galloping. They never do that. They always trot. Then we realize that there is no one in the buggy. You can see through the back window and the buggy is empty. Probably the horse escaped from the barnyard while the service was winding down. He's moving pretty fast. He's probably heading home! The guys in the car in front of us have their windows down and are pointing at the buggy. Amazing how the horse knows to stay on the right side of the road.We are almost across the lake now and he must soon head up a fairly steep incline. No way can that horse keep up the pace for long. We start up the hill and start to slow as the horse begins to tire. The car in front of us is almost touching the buggy as they travel up the hill. Then ...... about 25 yards from the top, the passenger in the car in front of us jumps out of the car, slams the door shut and takes off for the buggy. Man, can that guy motor! He hops in the buggy door and grabs the reins. As we reach the top of the hill he pulls the horse and buggy off the road onto the grassy berm. As we pass we can see he has control of the scared horse. Wow, he saved the day. Just like in the movies. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The "Bloody Handkerchief" Story

It was an ordinary day. I just got back from the emergency room at the hospital. Here's the story..... I coach baseball in the summer and this year am coaching the MT midget team. Ages 15-16. This weekend we are in a tournament with 15 other teams. Lose one game and you're out. Win four in a row and you win the tournament. We have a game tonight at Landisville at 6:00 so I have the guys show up at Manheim Township High School at 4:30 for practice. You're not allowed to have the field during the tournament for any practice sessions so we practice on our own field ahead of time. We have a batting cage next to the field so Wayne P., who helps me coach, gives some of the guys fielding practice while I start to throw batting practice. I have a net in front of me in the cage, since some of these guys are bigger than me and can really hit the ball. All's going smooth and we are almost finished practice when my son, Tad steps into the batting cage for his swings. He's making good contact and has a level swing so I tell him, "Five more swings." He hits the first two and I throw him another and just as he is swinging at it I lean over to pick up another ball from the basket of balls. Pop! He hits another one and then I feel it. Seems the basket of balls I'm using is sort of outside the screen that I was standing behind, and he hit me right in the head with a line drive. Wow, did that sting! Then I reach up and feel the side of my head. Kind of numb already. Caught me right on the left ear. Inch front further and I might not be typing this story. I pulled my hand away from my ear and naturally look at it to see if there is any blood. OH, YEAH! There is BLOOD. I grab my handkerchief out of my pocket and use it to put pressure on my ear. Then I head for the bench to sit down. My poor son is extremely upset! Wayne and Tom M., father of one of the guys on the team, head over to see what happened. So does the entire team. The bleeding is subsiding and I wipe most of it away. Wayne, who is a policeman, tells me that the blood is coming from inside the ear canal and I need to head to the hospital. Tom helps me in his car while Wayne starts to head to the game with the team. Some of the guys drive so there is plenty of transportation to the game. I enter the emergency room and they take me right to a cubicle. Hey, they don't want blood all over their waiting room! Doctor examines me and after a few tests determines that I only have a cut in the ear and that I'll survive. Knew I would! Tom drops me off at home and I wait for Tad to get home with the results of the game. This year's team is really good so I knew I'd have another shot at throw batting practice tomorrow. And I did! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The "Roasting Ear Husking Party" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just come back from the beach. Carol and I are at Ocean City, NJ with our kids and grandkids. We have been doing this every year for the past couple of years. We rent a condo in the block right off the boardwalk so no one has to cross a street to get to the beach or boardwalk. Easy to carry the tons of stuff to the beach. Good day today. Everyone had a good time building sand castles and jumping the waves. Shower time for most. Carol and I are responsible for the meal tonight. We take two nights, our one son takes two nights, our daughter takes two nights and our youngest son, who only visits for a few days, takes one night. He usually treats to pizza on his night. Tonight we are having milky chicken casserole. Called that because one time my wife forgot and put too much milk in the recipe and ever since it is called milky chicken casserole. We all like applesauce so we have two big jars of cinnamon applesauce. Then I remembered that we were supposed to have roasting ears with the meal. For those who don't know what roasting ears are, they are also called corn on the cob. After a quick shower, I take off on foot to find a supermarket. I must have walked a mile and a half before I find one that has fresh corn. Sign by the corn says no husking corn in the store. Oh, well. Buy three dozen and start for home. Now that's a bunch of corn to carry for that distance. Then I remember one more thing. The grandkids will be nice and clean, but they also like to husk corn. If I show up with 36 ears of corn to be husked, they won't be nice and clean anymore. So......on my way back I find a city trash receptacle and pull it over to an unoccupied house porch. I dump out all the corn on the porch and start to husk the corn. Before long I have help. Other kids who also enjoy husking happen by and ask if they can help. No problem! Before long the corn is husked and back in the bags. A lot lighter that when I started. Made it back in time to pop it in the boiling water for the meal. Carol asked if all the corn in the store was already husked and I replied, "No, I wasn't allowed to do it in the store. A bunch of kids helped me husk it on someones porch." She looked at me and said, "Yea, right!" It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The "Chick Magnet Fairlane" Story

It was an ordinary day. I had just traded my 1955 Ford Fairlane for a 1987 Chevy Impala. The Chevy was really neat. Convertible, V8, stick shift, chick magnet. But, my old '55 was a great car also. It was 8 years old when I bought it. Pretty neat colors. Pink (actually called Tropical Rose) and snowshoe white. Really classy. It had fender skirts, lots of chrome, bench seat so your girlfriend could sit next to you, classy hubcaps and fins in the back. I loved the car, but I loved every car I bought when I was young. I did make some alterations when I bought the car. Added a Holley 4 barrel carburetor and glass packs which made the car sound throaty and much faster than it was. It was pretty fast with the 8 cylinder automatic with a 4 barrel carb. I drove it for about a year and so many guys told me it looked sissy. Pink they would say! Why don't you buy a man's car. Something red, blue or even black. OK! I had to do it. I walked a block to Mohn Brother's Buick and inquired if they could paint the car for me. I could see the door of the body shop from my house and knew they painted cars in it. They said they could and told me if I did all the prep work they would charge me only for the paint. Wouldn't even charge for the labor, since I was a neighbor. We picked a time and I started sanding. A lot of hard hand work, but I got it done in plenty of time. Had to keep it in a neighbor's garage when I wasn't working on it so it wouldn't rust or get marked as I sanded it. The big day came and I drove it to the body shop. They primered the car first and then started with the color I picked. I watched the next day as they pulled it from the big double doors into the early morning sunlight. It was beautiful. Called her "Black Beauty." Shortly thereafter I added teardrop spot lights (the kind that were only for looks), a tachometer, tailpipe extensions and some furry dice for the mirror. Now I was set. Except! Now my friends started in on me with ............. the inside is still the sissy pink and white. Now that wasn't something that I was going to have fixed. So, I sold it and bought the Chevy. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - neither pixs are my car. I found them on the internet, but they both look EXACTLY like my car did before and after the paint job (except for the add-ons I made to "Black Beauty." Bottom black car is a collector's car while the car on top is for sale for $19,995.00. If only I hadn't painted it and kept it til now.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The "Autographs with Meaning" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was working on our scrapbook from our latest trip to St. Martin. This year we took a day trip to Anguilla to see a few places that we had missed on our last trip. Anguilla is a short 15 minute trip by ferry from Marigot, the capital of French St. Martin. In 2007 Jimmy Buffett played a benefit concert on Anguilla at Bankie Banx's Dune Preserve. Every March Bankie sponsors "Moonsplash" to help with preservation of beachfront on Anguilla. For years Bankie has been fighting development in Anguilla, but with limited success. The massive Cuisinart Resort sits directly next to him on Rendezvous Bay Beach. His Dune Preserve is visible from the ferry as you approach Blowing Point, the landing area for the ferries. We wanted to travel to the Dune Preserve to see where Jimmy played the benefit concert, since we enjoyed watching the "Live in Anguilla" CD. After arrival on Anguilla, we rented a car for the day. Driving on the left used to be a challenge, but I have done it somany times that it is easier as long as Carol is yelling instructions to me as we go. Took only about 15 minutes to locate the Dune Preserve. As you approach you first see the main gate with a lifeboat turned upside down on top of it. Whimsical decorations are throughout the grounds. Seems we got there too early. This is a beach bar and arriving at 10:30 AM isn't the best thing to do. We are greeted by one of Bankie'semployees and he tells us that Bankie will arrive soon. He invites us to walk around the grounds and I take tons of photos. We find the bandstand and can't believe that thousands crowded into this small area to see Jimmy play. Shortly we are greeted by Bankie and he takes us on a short tour of his place. I ask if he would autograph a page from the Caribbean Travel and Life Magazine that I have with me. He graciously agrees and then also agrees to stand for a photo with Carol and I. After we talk some more he invites us back after they are ready to serve lunch so we can eat and a drink. We thank him for the hospitality and head to our next location. We take a short tour of the island and make our way to Shoal Bay for a few hours. Around 2:00 PM we head for our next destination. A few years ago I purchased, through Amazon, a copy of "A Trip to the Beach" - Living on Island Time by Melinda and Robert Blanchard. The book is a true story about how a husband and wife escape civilization to build a small restaurant on an island paradise-and discover that even paradise has its pitfalls. Reading about their joys and struggles and the disaster that comes with Hurricane Luis is riveting. After I read it I gave it to Carol and she enjoyed as much as I did. We agreed at that point that we just had to meet these people and see their restaurant. Here was a couple our age who had the courage to live their dream and finally succeed. Just had to meet them. We found our way to the other end of Anguilla and as soon as we approached, knew it was the restaurant before we saw the sign. Just like it was described in the book. Anxiously parked the car and walked to the front door. Locked! Not open yet. We didn't come all this way for disappointment. I walked around to the other side and into the kitchen. I was greeted by Clinton Davis who I immediately knew from the book. Wow, Mel really did a good job describing her employees. Clinton gave me the disappointing news that the Blanchards returned to the states for a visit and he was in charge. He so kindly gave Carol and I a tour of the grounds and invited us back for supper. We needed to catch the return ferry so I asked if he could do the honor of autographing our book. His eyes brightened with the request and he wrote his name on the cover for us. The journey for us was a success. Off to Blowing Point to return the car, hop on the ferry and return to our island. I'm now adding the stories and autographs to our scrapbook. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Pix from top are: stage at dune preserve where Jimmy Buffett played benefit concert, Bankie Banx with Carol and LDub, autograph from Bankie, Cover of Blanchard"s book, Bob and Mel Blanchard and front entrance to quaint Blanchard's Restaurant, Anguilla.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The "Have you ever laughed so hard you had to ....." Story

It was an ordinary day. Our friends from State College, Jerry and Sue had just left. We had a great time this weekend. Sometimes we visit with them and sometimes they visit with us. We always have a great time when we get together. We also share a vacation together every year. They came this weekend so we could talk about our next vacation. A cruise through the Panama Canal. We looked at all the side trips you can take at the ports we will be stopping at and talked about what we want to do as we go through the Canal. Naturally we shared quite of bit of laughter. We seem to be able to do that with the two of them. I have know Jerry and Sue since high school. We were all in the same HS class together. In 1999 after Jerry and I retired from teaching at the same HS, the four of us traveled together to Hawaii. People thought that Carol and Sue were sisters. They do resemble each other. Carol really got to know Jerry and Sue while we traveled all over Hawaii. We ;have continued going on vacations with them ever since that time. We learned we can laugh together, both with each other and at each other. Everything is fair game when making fun of one another. In 2001 we traveled to the Chesapeake for dinner one Saturday and stopped at Cecilton, MD at an antique shop. Right past the square, behind a house are a series of small buildings or sheds that house the antiques. Well, I was in one of the sheds looking at something when I passed some gas. Sue came around the corner and turned up her nose. "Do you smell that?" she asked me. I just had to start laughing. You know it's contagious. Before long we were both laughing so hard we both were farting. Old people can't help doing that you know. Weak valves of some sort in the anal canal. Carol and Jerry grabbed us and got us out of there. That was the first of many times that has happened with the four of us. When we play board games, we make fun of each other and laugh so hard we can hardly catch our breath. Before I got my hearing aides (another story about that coming) I didn't hear everything the three of them said, therefore I said many things that didn't have anything to do with the conversation. Most times they laughed so hard at me and with me that sure enough, someone would pee themselves. Then we would laugh again. A few years ago we traveled to State College for a visit and they took us to the Johnstown Flood Museum. We sat in on a 3D movie about the flood. Started out very interesting, then I happened to look behind us at all the people sitting there with their 3D glasses on and started to laugh. I hit Carol on the arm and pointed backwards. She turned and we both started to laugh. Before long all four of us were laughing. This is a tragic, solemn movie and we are laughing. We tried to laugh as solemnly as possible. Laughter is supposed to be good for you! We sure get a good dose of it when we get together with them. Last night Carol and I were watching a few episodes of Seinfeld and the one in with Jerry's friend dated Elaine and "took it out" was on. In the end, Jerry went to the hospital to cheer up his friend with some jokes and got him laughing so hard he croaked. Now that is something we have to be aware of when we get together with them the next time. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - top pix has Jerry and Sue on the left with Carol and I on the right, Carol and Sue in bottom pix (sistas)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The "It Isn't Our House!" Story

It was an ordinary day. Dave Hessen had just delivered the miniature model of our Beach House we had ordered from him. Dave is the son of John, who was a classmate of mine from MTHS. John and I were both members of the Lancaster County Corvette Club and during one of our club meetings we got to talking about miniature models much like the Cat's Meow buildings. Thought we could have someone make different year Corvette models. John said his son could probably do something like this since he was an artist. I then asked him if his son does consignment work, since Carol and I wanted to have a small model of our new house made. "I'll have him get in touch with you," John said. Gave him my phone number and a few days later Dave called me. I told him we would like a miniature replica of our house. He said he did quite a few of these and would be glad to do it. He said all he would need would be my address and a brief description of what the house looked like and he would come and take a photo of it. I gave him the address and we waited for the results. A few weeks later he called and said it was finished and asked for a time to deliver it. He has just arrived with the piece of art. Fantastic except for one small thing ........ it wasn't our house! Seems he took a photo of my neighbor's house which is also modern architecture and the same color. He apologized and said he would take another photo and have it to us soon. I offered to take the one he had just finished and see if my neighbor, Hank, would be interested in buying it. Hank loved the detail and craftsmanship and bought it. A week later he brought his new miniature house and it was beautiful. Looked EXACTLY like our house, driftwood and all. Paid him for both pieces of artwork and asked if he could make one of our old house. I gave him a photo and we again waited. This was done just as well as the other one. I then had him make a few trees to go with the houses. When he returned with them I inquired if he was up to doing a painting on a chest-of-drawers. You bet! It was more than beautiful!! More than we could have hoped for. A few years later we wanted to hire Dave to do more work for us, but found he had given up his art business. He found it to hard to survive on the income of an artist. Such a shame to waste so much talent. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Photos from top are: Beach House, old house on Janet Ave. and chest of drawers Dave painted for us.