Extraordinary Stories

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Saturday, July 31, 2010

The "A Shot In Time" Story

It was an ordinary day. I had just finished writing another entry into my blog and realized it is almost a year from when I started and I haven't shared too many photos of Carol and me. Well, now is the time to correct that oversight. I went back over all the shots I have on my computer from when I first starting taking photos digitally and found I must have close to 500 shots of the two of us. Many were taken by me while holding the camera at arm's length from the two of us. Some really stupid shots! Many were taken by our friend Sue while on vacation with her and husband Jerry. I figured if I put too many on all at once you'd stop looking and go to something else. So, here are 8 of perhaps my top 50 of the two of us with a brief explanation of what we were doing in the shot.

This photo I took while going what seemed like 100 MPH. Were on what was called a Rhino Boat which was a small raft with a seat in the middle and a huge engine on the rear. Waves were rough and I was hitting all the waves just right to make us fly around in the water. I held the camera with one hand and pointed it behind me to get this photo of Carol and part of my head.
This photo was taken in Jamaica on a warm fall evening after we had finished our evening meal. Just Sue took it while we were relaxing on a neat swing on the grounds of Sandals Resort.
This photo was taken this past October by our waiter at "the beach" Restaurant in Antigua before we celebrated Carol's 29th birthday. Had a great time and all the patrons joined in with the singing of "Happy Birthday."

This photo of Carol and me all decked out was taken by Just Sue on the stairs of the cruise ship as we waited to enter the dining room for the Captain's Dinner.

This is a photo I took of the two of us as we were sitting on a bus in Miami waiting to be transported to our cruise ship for a cruise to the western Caribbean. Carol can hardly wait!

This photo was taken at Shirley Heights in Antigua by Just Sue as we were having a great time making fun of all the tourists and the way they looked and ate their food.

This photo was taken in Barbados by Just Sue. We are celebrating Carol's 29th birthday for the umpteenth time at an Italian Restaurant in St. Lawrence Gap. The ID photo for my blog was taken from this shot. Don't you just love Carol's hair. And....how about mine?

This photo was taken by my grandson, Caden, this past June while on vacation in Ocean City with the family. Carol and I sat for a few photos from everyone and I kept telling her how to sit and smile. She kinda got sick of my instructions and ...........
Shots are some of my favorites because they have meaning that I may not be able to describe to you. I can remember where almost every one of the 500 shots I have of the two of us was taken, and I'll share a few more with you in a later blog. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The "Imaginary Assault on MTHS" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was at school working in the print shop with my friend Mike Z. We have been working together for MT school district for about 40 years doing the in-house printing. During the summer months we can work at any time of the day since there are no classes in the shop. The only thing different today was when I arrived at about 7:30 AM there were 6 or 7 police cruisers parked at various spots in front of the main entrance. I really didn't think too much about it until I realized that one of the cruisers had the driver's door open and was parked on the grass near the front door. Now, that got my attention. Not much parking space, so I parked right in front by the curb. The front of the school has three sets of double doors so I headed to the one on the left where I could use my entrance card if it wasn't open. As soon as I swiped my card to open it, all three sets of doors opened and about 8 to 10 policemen charged through. Wow, now they really had my attention! Maybe I should hit the ground since all officers had either a pistol or semi-automatic rifle in their hand. I quickly went inside and saw the head of security, Dale M., in the lobby. Hurried over to him. He saw my concern and told me the MT Police Department was having a training exercise that would last for the entire morning. I would have to find an alternative route to the print shop, since they had part of the building roped off for the training. No problem. About two hours later Mike and I pushed a cart full of printed materials through the same doors to load into my car. "Here they come!" I yelled to Mike. Outside they came running from all directions to the front of the school. It's over 90 degrees and they are in full uniform with vests, running with their weapons drawn. One officer is near my car yelling directions into a speaker. "Take cover behind the blue car by the curb," he yelled. "Suspect is in the upstairs window." And, I'm standing by my blue car which is now surrounded by police. Should I take cover also, I wonder. Then he yells, "Suspect is no longer in the window, hit the front doors and proceed upstairs." These guys are really pumped up and sweating like crazy. Then, as they run from behind my car with their weapons pointed at the window, one of them drops his car keys behind my car. After a few more steps he realizes what he had done and stops, turns around, calls "time-out," runs back to retrieve them, and then continues into the school. My guess is that if it was a real incident there would be no "time-out" and the keys would still be in the street. I ask Dale when we returned into the school if they will be back tomorrow. He tells me they have three more days of training at different parts of the school. "How about I bring in a camera and take some photos for my blog?" I said to him. He looks me in the eye and says, "I don't think they would appreciate that." So folks, sorry, but there are no really neat photos of the imaginary assault on MTHS. It was really scary, but did make me feel safer. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The "LDubisms" Story

It was another ordinary day. My daughter had called and recommended we put another LDubism on my list. LDubisms are bits of wisdom or unusual things that I do that I bestow on my family. Every family has things that a family member is known for and I am no exception. Just seems that my things are "different" than most. I tend to hear what is said differently or say things out loud that are interpreted differently than what I had planned for them to be. Makes for some funny bits of wisdom, but they are MY bits of wisdom and they are WISE thoughts, at least to me! So far my kids and wife have thought of 15 that are worth mentioning. WORTH MENTIONING!! I should say that they are 15 that make fun of LDub. The list follows:

Bits of Wisdom . . . .
1. When parking your car, if you run up over the curb, you can get closer to it.
2. You can get a great lunch at Costco.
3. Don't pack up the bats before the game is over.
4. Don't get your bowels in an updrawer.
5. Too many people in the kitchen.
6. Always scrape the bowl clean.
7. If you screw the Christmas tree to the floor, it won't fall down.
8. Don't leave the garage door open. Someone will come off the bypass and steal my tools.
9. Best jeans come from Costco.

What LDub likes to do . . . .
1. Read the newspaper out loud to everyone and at times read it with his eyes closed.
2. Announce out loud what I'm going to do.
3. Chew my ice cream.
4. Cut my corn off the cob when we're having roasting ears. You do know what roasting ears are, don't you?
5. Tuck my shirt into my underpants.
6. And their favorite . . Dad makes everything FUN!

Now, I also have the same bits of wisdom as others like: Do your best, Try your hardest, Never give up, Respect other people's property, and Always tell the truth, but the ones that they remember the most are the ones listed above. But, then again, how many bits and unusual items do your kids, wife and family remember about you? It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.


I had a comment from Annette Renee White from California about my "Bucket List" story. Seems she has 212 items on her Bucket List. She commends me for only having 6 on mine. Well, after rethinking it, I have added one more item to the list.

7. Have my photo on a jar of Smuckers Jam when I turn 100 and be able to recognize it and realize that it is there. I'm sure that Willard Scott will not be announcing my name, but I always admired those people who have reached the century mark and had the chance to be memorialized on a jar of jelly.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The "Gummy Arnold" Story

It was an ordinary day. Arnold was feeling well again. Arnold is our dog who is part dachshund and part beagle. We got him at the SPCA a few years ago and named him after Gary Coleman's character on Different Strokes. Great dog! Just a really great dog!! Except for sometimes. Two days ago was one of those sometimes. I had taken Derek, our oldest son, to a small candy store in Neffsville on our way home from school. He had accumulated some money and wanted to buy himself a pound of Gummy Bears. He ate a few and put the rest in his backpack to take to school to share with his friends. Put the backpack behind the sofa in our living room, next to the coat closet. Yep, you guessed it. Sometime during the night Arnold, who also evidently loves Gummy Bears, managed to open the zipper on the backpack and take the bag of Gummy Bears out and eat most of the pound that Derek had purchased. Next morning, Derek wasn't a happy camper and Arnold wasn't feeling very well. His stomach was extended and hard and he was drinking quite a bit of water. Carol kept an eye on Arnold during the day to make sure he was able to urinate. His stomach was still a massive rock from the candy so Carol called the vet and explained the problem. Dr. George enjoyed the story and told her that we need not worry as long as he was drinking and urinating. On our way home from school we made another stop at the candy store for another pound of Gummy Bears. "Did you eat all of the other ones you bought yesterday?" the clerk wanted to know. "No, Arnold ate most of them," Derek told her. "That's nice that you shared them," she responded, not knowing who Arnold was. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The "LDub's 'Bucket List'" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was checking out my "Bucket List" again to see if any of the remaining items which are on it are still attainable. The "Bucket List" contains things I want to do before I kick the bucket and is limited to the items which I fear I may never get to do. Items that I count on doing from year to year like going on vacation with the entire family at Ocean City, NJ, heading back to the Caribbean with my wife, and enjoying my grand children are not on the list because they are all attainable. My "Bucket List" is not large, since I have already done most everything which I had on the list at one time or another. I'll give you a glance at the "Bucket List" which still remains and you'll get an idea which I might be able to do and those which I have no chance at doing.

"Bucket List" of LDub's top 6 Items:
#6 - Ride the "Comet" at Hershey Park with my daughter (not real good for someone who has a bad back) Last time I rode it with her was in 1978 when she was 4 years old - 32 years ago.
#5 - Get a tattoo on my arm of two orange beach chairs and a yellow umbrella. My youngest son keeps pushing for me to do this.
#4 - Publish a book with all the stories from my blog.
#3 - Buy another Corvette to replace the one I had and sold to my neighbor. The one in the picture is my choice, but in either bright red or yellow

#2 - Meet Jimmy Buffet and sing a song with him. I could even play the harmonica.
#1 - Buy a villa in St. Martin and move to a place where there is always warm weather. Watch House Hunters all the time and love the Caribbean style of homes they show.

Now a few of those I may be able to do while others I'm not to sure of. What are some of the items on your "Bucket List"? Don't wait forever to get some of them done. As you see I only have 6. I don't want for much. Can you help me? It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The "Styles and Tastes are Forever Changing" Story

It was an ordinary day. Carol and I were looking back at some of the old photos from our first house. We remodeled the kitchen two times as styles changed. First time we had dark cabinets that I made and had harvest gold appliances and Formica counter tops. Carpet tiles on the floor finished the remodel. Second time we still put Formica on the counter top, but changed the cabinets to a light oak and laid ceramic tile on the floor. Put brand new white appliances in to replace the yellow ones. We redid the second floor bathroom and added a bathroom on the third floor where our two boys had their bedroom. Third floor bathroom only had a shower. We remodeled the basement so we could have a TV room. Shag carpet, ceiling tiles and dark wooden paneling did the job. And ..... we replaced the wall paper in the dining room a few times. As times change, so do your taste in decorating. When we first moved into 925 Janet Ave. the walls in the dining room were white in color. We had some wild ideas about how we should decorate the dining room. The rear wall of the house was covered with a really bright vinyl flowered wall paper. We laugh when we look at photos of the wall. Did we actually buy that wallpaper? I made a special light with plastic and wood to hang over our dining room table and Carol and I hooked our own rug for the floor. Rug had the male and female symbols on it. Really different!! What were we thinking when we decorated the dining room like that? Certainly not what other people would think of our decorating. We thought it was neat. Makes we wonder what people think of what we do in our house today. We love the beach and our house reflects that. Paintings and sculptures on the wall and tables. Tables with seashells in the center of them. Seaside furniture in most rooms. Bathroom sinks that came from the Caribbean. Tall grasses in our gardens and flowerbeds and a big artificial palm tree that glows for the neighborhood after dark. Wow, our taste and styles really change!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - top photo shows the first remodel with the harvest gold appliances and dark wood cabinets, middle photo shows the really neat wall paper and the ceiling light I made while the bottom photo shows the hand-hooked rug that Carol and I made.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The "Most Unlucky, Luckiest Guy in the World" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were leaving the ballgame between Williamsport and State College. The State College Spikes are a minor league "A" team that plays in the New York-Penn League. The Spikes name is for the young white-tailed deer. They were originally associated with the St. Louis Cardinals when the baseball stadium in State College first opened, but eventually became associated with the Pittsburgh Pirates. I love baseball and when I heard they were building a new stadium in Stage College, I told our friends Jerry and Sue, who moved to State College in 1999, that when they opened, I wanted to go to a game. The stadium is called Medlar Field at Lubrano Park and is a 5,406 seat stadium that is shared by the Spikes and the Penn State Nittany Lions college baseball team. The field is beautiful with real turf and features an unobstructed view of Mount Nittany in the outfield. An alumni and former baseball player at Penn State, Anthony Lubrano, donated $2.5 million to the University to upgrade the baseball facilities and in 2005 they broke ground on the ballpark. There was quite a bit of controversy about the ballpark, since it was built next to the football stadium and took up quite a bit of stadium parking. The tailgaters weren't happy with losing all the parking. It is called Medlar Field in honor of "Chuck" Medlar who was an athletic trainer at Penn State for 35 years and was the head baseball coach for 18 years. Today's game is a give-away. All women entering get a baseball cap in pink with the Spikes Logo on it. Pretty neat hat, if you're a girl. I bought a program as we entered and as I looked through it saw that tonight they are giving away a trip for two to the Bahamas. Travel agency in town donated the prize. Wow, would I love to win it! Then as the game was about to start, the announcer gave the starting line-up for the Spikes as they took the field. As each player ran onto the field, he threw a ball into the crowd. I grabbed the ball the firstbaseman threw and after all players were on the field, the announcer said that all guests who had caught a ball should report to the field office to see if they won the trip. Wow again!! I hurried from my seat, telling Carol to start packing. When I got to the office I saw several others there already. They were picking from a hat. By the time I got to pick, no one had won. I drew a piece of paper, opened it slowly as all watched and found I had won ....... a hat. Yep, just a hat! I went to claim the hat and it wasn't even a Spikes hat. It was from a heating and cooling company in State College. Gave it to the first kid I passed on my way back to my seat. Never did find out who won the trip, but it wasn't me. Did enjoy my hot dog, drink, soft pretzel and ice cream cone. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The "Arrow in the Forehead" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was sitting in church with Carol and the kids on Sunday morning. Carol and I turned around in our seat to greet the Remleys who were in the pew behind us. Edie asked Carol what was the matter with my forehead and she explained that yesterday I was playing with the kids and a new bow and arrow we had just bought for them. The arrows had suction cups on them and you shot them at a metal target that we had fastened to a tree in the back yard. I started to clown around with them and stuck the suction cup in my mouth to get moisture on it and then pushed it hard on the middle of my forehead. Left it there for about 10 minutes while we were shooting at the target, then tried to pull it off. Really stuck! The suction cup was over one inch around and it really stuck!! Pulled harder and finally got it off. Well, it seemed to have done something to some of the blood vessels in my forehead and the spot stayed a bright red. And, by bedtime the spot was still bright red. And, Sunday morning the spot was still red. Good I didn't try that on the middle of my head. Wait, that's just what I did and it looked terrible! Carol put some makeup on it, but you could still see this big round spot. Edie burst out laughing as did others when they found out the dumb thing I did. I'm sure the rest of my face blended in with the red of the mark with all the laughter. Took a few days for it to go away, but to this day, and I mean as of this story, whenever I see Edie Remley, she holds her hand to her forehead and pulls like she is pulling an arrow off her head. Really funny, Edie!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The "Art and Artists of the Caribbean" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just hung our latest artwork on the wall above our fireplace. When we went to St. Martin this year for vacation, we purchased an original acrylic canvas painting from Lisa who is a local artist who paints palm fronds as well as acrylic and oil paintings. A few years ago we purchased a frond from her and enjoyed the vibrant colors she used. We went again this year to visit her stand in the Marigot market and in the entrance she had a very large acrylic painting across the front of her store. Just what we wanted, we told her, with the exception that it was three times the size we wanted. She agreed to paint a smaller print with a similar scene. We wanted a pair of orange beachchairs and a yellow umbrella added to the scene. We agreed on a price, gave her a deposit and after a few days returned for the painting. Was beautiful! After returning to our villa we realized that the chairs and umbrella were missing. Called her cell number and returned a few days later and she added them as we wandered the market. The 38"x26" canvas with the Caribbean scene fits perfectly in our home. One of many we have purchased from Caribbean artists over the years. A few years ago we bought a Batik print from Henderson Reece who has a studio in Barbados. A batik is a wax resist dying technique done on fabric. Interesting to watch how it's done. Time consuming procedure. The print is about 24"x30" and hangs in our family room. Another of our favorite Caribbean artists is Antoine Chapon. Antoine has a very elusive and unusual personality. When I got to meet him at his home gallery, he had just enough time to sign a print and have a photo taken. I turned to look at something else and he was gone. His watercolors of the sea and beach scenes all share the same aqua pastel colors. We have two of his watercolors hanging in our house. One of Carol's favorite Caribbean artists is Patricia Ramsami. Her work is very thick oil on canvas. She displays her work in her husband Dany's Le Saint-Geran Art Gallery in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten. We have two of her small paintings in our house. Our favorite Caribbean artist is Paul Elliott Thuleau who paints with oil on canvas. Paul is a landscape painter who paints the sea, tropical light and mostly facades of creole houses. We purchased a 20"x28" giclee print from his gallery in Grand Case, St. Martin. When we went to pay for the print we used our Master Card. It wouldn't go through so we tried our American Express card. Same thing. Found out we charged our car rental on the MC and they were questioning if the charge was legitimate and wouldn't allow any more charges on it until I gave then the OK. The Am. Xpress company I forgot to call and they wouldn't allow any foreign charges. Luckily Paul was patient and we got our print. I must admit our house is full of prints and sculptures from many islands, but it seems every time we go to visit, we come home with another "favorite." It was another extraordinary day inthe life of anordinary guy. PS - Photos from the top are : Lisa and a photo of the acrylic she painted for us, Henderson Reece holding the batik that we purchased from him, Antoine Chapon and me with one of the watercolors we have, Carol and Dany in his Gallery where we purchased a few of his wife's oils and Paul Thuleau holding his giclee print with Carol and me.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The "50 or over? What are you waiting for?" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just got finished at the urologist. About 20 years ago during a routine physical at my family physician, the doctor thought he felt a small lump on my prostate. He had ordered a blood test ahead of time and a PSA test was one of the tests done with the blood samples. PSA is a substance made by your prostate and too much PSA in your blood could mean there is something wrong with your prostate. A number from 0-4 is recommended and I had a number below 4, but he wanted me to see a urologist. Had to make an appointment with Dr. Paul Sieber. Dr. Sieber came to Lancaster after practicing at Hershey Medical Center and is the author of over 15 medical publications. He is in charge of clinical studies at Urological Associates of Lancaster. After he examined me and also felt the small lump, I was scheduled for a biopsy. During the biopsy I had to lay on my side and the doctor inserted a probe which had a needle attached to it into my rectum. The probe was connected to a monitor and the doctor could see where my prostate was located. He inserted the needle through my rectum into the prostate and took several tissue samples for lab examination to see if cancer was present. I waited and waited for the results. And waited some more. Couldn't eat for almost a week. Great way to lose weight. And then the call! I was fine and the doctor would like to see me in a year. What a relief and I took to eating again. Well, I have been going every year and sometimes more than once a year to Dr. Seiber. My PSA is very erratic. Today it was 3.72 which is the lowest it has been in years. I have had one other biopsy and a few ultrasounds which are used to see if your prostate is a normal size. In 2006 my PSA was 2.6 which was great, but the following year it was 65.00. You read that right! 65.00!! He didn't seem alarmed, but I was scared to death. He prescribed an antibiotic and told me I had to return in a month for another test and exam. When I did it was 6.50. He explained that if it was truly 65.00, there wasn't anything he could do at that point to save me so he didn't want to scare me by over-reacting. He said he knew it was an infection and he was right. Lucky for me!! The following few exams were readings of 4.4, 4.0, 5.6, and 5.6. After the second 5.6 in a row he put me on Avodart to help reduce the size of my prostate. He is always concerned with the PSA numbers , but knows my history after all these years and treats me accordingly. The digital exam is always part of the procedure. He is considered one of the best urologists on the east coast of the US and I thoroughly trust him. Today he looked happy as he entered. Always a good sign. He examined my International Prostate Symptom Score sheet first and gave me the news. The I-PSS is a sheet of paper you fill out every visit. Asks about urgency, straining, frequency, etc. You must rate yourself from 0 to 5 in 7 categories. He adds the numbers and compares them against my numbers from the past. Today he gave me my PSA and said he would see me in a year. Great news!! For my male readers who are close to 50 years old and have never had a PSA blood test done, what are you waiting for? Could save your life. Prostate cancer is treatable if caught early. 1 out of every 6 men in the USA will develop prostate cancer. Second leading cancer next to skin cancer in men. If diagnosed early, the survival rate is nearly 100%. Pretty good odds, so you have no excuses. Dr. Sieber is waiting for you!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - top pix is Dr. Sieber and bottom is him demonstrating the laser he uses for Vaporization of the Prostrate procedures. First class guy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The "Endless Yearbook Adviser" Story

It was an ordinary day. I had just finished handing out the last of the yearbooks for this year. I taught high school for 32 years and I was the yearbook adviser for 30 of those years. The principal, Mr. Hower, knew who to go to when he needed someone to take an extracurricular position. I had a young and growing family and the extra money was always welcome. At one point I was the yearbook adviser, equipment manager and did the sports laundry, rifle coach and did all the in-house printing for the district. I enjoyed all the positions, but the one that gave me the most exposure to some of the best students in the school was the yearbook job. The art teacher and next door neighbor to my classroom, Jim G., worked with me for most of the 30 years. He handled the layouts and art design and I handled the photography and scheduling. We had a staff of about 12 students each year who produced the book. Usually about 300 pages and in the early years it was in black and white. As prices dropped we started to add color to the book. We had some of the neatest covers over the years. Silk screened designs, lithographs, photographs and embossing were used on the covers. Some of my favorites were the cover that featured Peter Frampton on stage in our auditorium and the 50th Anniversary Edition with the foil embossed cover from a design that we made. What made it more special was my daughter, Brynn, was the Editor of the yearbook that year. Hey, I picked the people!! Both my sons were photographers for the yearbook when they were in high school. I retired in 1999 and with it all the extracurricular positions. I asked the principal at the time, Mr. Hanna, if he wanted me to stay on as the yearbook adviser, since it was hard to find teachers to do some of the big jobs in the school. He preferred to have a current teacher do the job. I could understand the reasoning and I was OK with the decision. The next day I got a call from Dr. R., the principal of the middle school. He had heard that I was no longer going to do the high school yearbook and wanted to know if I was interested in doing the 88 page middle school book. He told me to name my price and if it fit in his budget, I had the job. I picked out a fair price and got the job. My first book was in 2000 and I just finished my 11th middle school book. I do the job myself since the book is mostly class photos. The yearbook publisher, Jostens, has a program called Yearbook Avenue and I take the photos with a digital camera, upload them to the website, and do all the designing on their website. Don't need to store anything on my computer and can access the program from anywhere with my password. I sponsor a cover design contest every year now with the winner getting a photo of themself right inside the cover and a free book. Pretty popular and I get some fantastic designs from kids who are 12 and 13 years old. I'm preparing for next school year already and plan to do the book until they tell me I'm not wanted anymore. Which I'm hoping will be never!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.T

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The "Why did he stop in front of me so fast?" Story

It was an ordinary day. Carol and I are headed home from Sea Isle City, NJ after a great two weeks at the shore with our 3 kids and my parents. Mom and Dad always enjoyed going along and we loved having them because they became instant baby sitters. We are driving our Buick station wagon which is built like a boat while Mom and Dad are in their 1965 Mercury Convertible. Their car has a neat history behind it. I purchased it shortly after I sold my 1958 Chevy Impala. The Merc was bright red with a black top and had great power. Extremely smooth ride. Had it for maybe 6 months and the insurance and gas were taking their toll, along with the fact that Carol and I wanted to get married, so I sold it to Mom and Dad so I could buy a smaller, more economical car. They loved it. I don't ever remember them putting the top down and going for a ride in it, but then again, I didn't keep that close an eye on them. In 1968, in our second year of marriage, we borrowed the Merc and drove it to Florida for a vacation. Great trip in a comfortable car. We did have one minor mishap while driving it. We drove for about 8 straight hours in brutal heat and the right rear tire became so hot that it lost the retread. Stopped at the next town and replaced it. No big deal. Well today Mom and Dad are in front of me while we drive home. Dad knows the way so its just as easy to follow him and I don't have to worry about driving too fast for him. We have just gone over the Delaware Memorial Bridge and were going through Newport, PA when a caravan of military vehicles approached coming towards us. The kids were excited to see all the jeeps and covered trucks and I naturally had to sneak a peek also when all of a sudden I looked ahead and Dad had stopped. I jammed on the brakes. BAM!! I ran right into the back of Dad who had stopped for slow traffic. "Holy S#*t!" I yelled. "Why did he stop so fast?" I said. "Maybe because the car in front of him stopped, also," Carol said. Well, we both pulled over and I saw I had broken a taillight on the left side of the Merc. I had minor damage also, but everyone was fine, so we continued home. I told Dad when we got home I would take care of the damage for both cars and we didn't have to call the insurance company. Fine with Dad. In a few weeks everything was back to normal again. And ....... the next year when we went to Sea Isle City, I paid better attention!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The "Floating Ford Focus" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were getting antsy sitting in our room. The rain just won't stop. This is our second trip to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. We are staying at Crystal Cove Villas at Sapphire Bay West. Places were built many years ago and are starting to show their age, but they are also right on the beach at Sapphire Bay and the beach is beautiful. Sportssome of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean. The reef, which is about 50 yards offshore and easy to get to, has some of the most colorful fish and coral I have ever seen. Everything from large grouper and barracuda to the small colorful parrot fish. But, today we aren't interested in the beach. We just want to escape our rooms and head into Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the island, to do some shopping and have lunch. It seems like the parking lot has flooded in the middle of the lot and we are parked on the side opposite the entrance. Jerry and Just Sue head over to our room to talk about our plans. Jerry says we should just try to drive through the water and hope we make it out. Carol and I are not so sure, since it is not our car, but we are willing to try anything. We have a three year old rental car and it may be able to get through the water. Jerry volunteers to go out into the deepest part to show us how deep the water really is. He takes off his sandals and wades out into the water. It is at least 12" deep and still raining. Well, Carol and Just Sue hop in the back seat and I get behind the wheel and we start. Should I go fast or slow. I opt for the later and we inch our way into the water. Then from the back seat comes, "It's coming in the back door. Now it's up to our ankles." I stop and put it into reverse. The floor of the car in the back has a couple of inches of water in it by now. Jerry said, "Don't worry, we can punch a few holes in the floor to let the water out." But, I back up and the girls get out. Our next plan of attack is to drive along the building at the edge of the parking lot where we can see the grass. OK, that's what I try next. We remove a parking barrier and I head over the grass to where the water is the most shallow and viola! We are past the flooded part of the lot. Don't think I sunk in too much. Everyone hops back in the car and off we go to town to find lunch and pick up a hammer and something sharp to empty the water out of the back seat wells. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The "Saga of the Superjocks" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just played for the championship of the Manheim Township Rec League Summer Softball League and lost. And disbanded. A few years after I started to teach at MTHS I was approached about printing stationery, envelopes and a variety of other needs for the new director of the MT Parks and Rec Department. The Township had just formed the department and hired a director. I obliged and the following year Gary, the director, formed an adult slow pitch softball league. I naturally had to enter a team in the league. I talked with a few other teachers who I knew had some athletic ability and asked a few former students who were great at baseball and we had a team. I silk-screened the t-shirts which we wore for our games. Light blue in color and across the front read "Superjocks." Looked really neat in red and dark blue inks. On the back I printed a big number starting with number 1. The first year we had 12 team members and since I started the team I was coach and pitcher. That way I had to run the least. Most of our games were played at Neffsville Community Park. By the fourth year MT Parks and Rec had made a baseball stadium in Stauffer Park. Stauffer Park had a large mansion and grounds that was willed to the township and was to be used for recreation. Great place and the ball park was really neat. Dirt infield, outfield fences, scoreboard, and lights. Concession stand and restrooms were close by. Carol and the kids were regular attendees at the games and sat on the metal bleachers. During that fourth year we had lost some of the marginal players and added some great new additions. Our shortstop was a former HS player who still holds some of the hitting records for the HS team. We had another HS player who played centerfield for us and could really run. We were a great team and I was still doing the pitching. There were a few other good teams also, but our biggest rival was a team call the "Choo Choo Barn." We managed to meet in the best of three finals. Naturally we each won one game and had to go to the final and deciding game. I don't remember the score anymore, but I still can remember we lost. Before the end of the season, team members started talking and many said it would be their last year. Time commitments and age were taking a toll on the players. So, after we played our last game, we not only bid farewell to each other, we never played together again. The Superjocks were to be no more. But, it sure was fun while it lasted. It was another extraordinary day in the life of ordinary guy. PS - photo shows my kids modeling their Superjocks shirts.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The "Bloody Trip to Pompeii" Story

It was an ordinary day. Monday, and we are headed to Pompeii. Yep, the same Pompeii that was covered with lava from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Now, I already entered a story about our day in Pompeii, but this is about what happened on our way to the city buried by ash. We left Rome after breakfast when we boarded a large bus for the two hour plus ride. There are 31 of us who have been traveling together for the past week or so on this remarkable journey throughout Italy. Part way to Pompeii we stop at a rest stop for snacks and to use the bathrooms. Bathroom stops are important, since most passengers are senior citizens! Takes quite a bit of time for everyone to exit the bus, find their way through the rest stop, buy a bottle of water or wine and re-board. I usually wait at the rear door to the bus to help some of the other travelers who have trouble boarding. Today I did the same thing. After helping everyone onto the bus, I start to enter and when I get to the top step, for some reason I stand up to soon and hit my head on the cross bar at the top of the bus. Really hit it! Knocks me backwards onto the ground below. I recover, stand back up and head back up the steps. By now a few are standing at the entrance to see what has happened to me. When I look at them I realize that something must have really happened to me. Then I feel the fluid coming down the side of my head. Since I have no hair on my head, it is easy to see the gash that I got when I hit the metal bar across the door. Immediately someone hands me a towel to put on my head to stop the bleeding. They then help me onto the bus and have me sit in the first seat inside the back door. One of my traveling companions, Joan, used to be a school nurse and a member of St. James Choir with me. She finds her way to me and examines the gash. "Not sure, but you may need stitches," she tells me. Someone else goes to the front to tell our tour leader, Mary Lou, our former minister at St. James, and she grabs Hilary B. by the arm and they both start towards the back of the bus. Hilary is a doctor and was our pediatrician when our children were younger. She examines me and says it is not as serious as it looks. Just a lot of blood. Since I have no hair, I had nothing to cushion the blow to the head and the skin on the scalp is stretched so tight that the gash is large, but not in need of stitches. She certainly should know since I'm sure she has handled many wounds in her career as a doctor. So, off we go in the bus. Someone brings me a baggie with ice wrapped in a cloth to put on my head to help with the sting. Before long the bleeding has totally stopped and we are dropped off at the entrance to the city. To this day, whenever I see one of my traveling companions, they always reminisce about the day I cut my head open trying to be a good Samaritan. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The "Bodies are Baked in Mud" Story

It was an ordinary day. Carol and I are headed to the southwest side of St. Martin for the day. We stop first at the Sunset Bar and Grill to have lunch and watch the airplanes land. Always a favorite of ours. The runway to the airport starts immediately after the beach and the jets come within 30 or 40 feet of hitting all the people on the beach as they approach the end of the runway. Sunset Bar and Grill used to be the Sunset Beach Bar and is #3 on the list of "Sexiest Beach Bars in the World." Maybe because woman who are topless get to drink for free. Saw only one such woman at lunch today and she is sitting at the far end of the bar. We strike up a conversation with the people who share the picnic table with us as we eat and wait for the next plane to land. Here it comes! Everyone grabs their camera and runs to the beach for a shot. I must have taken thousands of photos of the planes, but never tire of doing it. Afterwards we decide to cool off with a trip to Mullet Beach which is a five minute trip to the west of us. Park near the only golf course on the island and grab our beach chairs and beach bag. This is only the second time we have ever been to this beach. The water is beautiful and very calm. Can't wait to get in the water so we park our chairs and bag under a sea grape tree and hit the water. The beach is lined with red, white and blue umbrellas and the vendors are hawking their goods. At one end of the beach we see a large group of people rubbing themselves with something they are taking from a large bucket. Having a good time and seems to be going on forever. We finally get out of the water and start to relax in our chairs. I tell Carol I'm going to walk around and snap a few photos. She knows by now that she can't talk me out of it. It is my hobby. I start at one end of the beach and end up at the end of the beach where the group is finishing rubbing "mud" on themselves. As I pass along water's edge, one of the girls in the group yells to me to take a photo of them. She hands me a piece of paper with her email address and asks if I can email her a copy of the photo so she can show her mom what she did on vacation. OK, I can do that. They gather for me and I snap away. They don't seem to mind that they are half naked and I, a stranger who they don't know, is snapping photos of them. And, I really did email copies to her and everyone else who gave me their email addresses. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - hope you're not offended by the bodies covered with the half baked mud!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The "A Trip with Tampah" Story

It was an ordinary day. My Grandson Caden and I are off to Roots Market in East Petersburg, PA. It is a farmers market and open every Tuesday year round. Caden and I start talking about his cousins Courtney and Camille and he asks if sometime he can write a story for my blog like they did. He has mentioned this before, but he isn't in school yet and can't compose a story like his two cousins. I told him when we return from Roots, he and I will sit at the computer and I will type while he tells the story of our trip today. The following is "A trip with Tampah" as told by five year old Caden.

Tampah and me went to Roots Market. We looked at animals and took pictures of them. And then we went to buy donuts. We got one chocolate and two peanut butter long johns. And then we went to get Gyros. I got a Gyro and Tampah got a cheesesteak. We each had a small Pepsi. We went outside to find a place to eat. And then we went to get tomatoes. And then we went to get watermelon. And then we were walking back to the car and we saw a train. We waited and it was moving and it was loud and they beeped the horn and blowed the whistle. And then we got in the car and drove toTampah’s school. Then we got a cart in the room and brought the packages outside and we put it in the back seat with me and then we delivered it. Then we took a picture downtown that we gave to Tampah’s friend. And we went to the car wash and then we drove home toTampah’s house. OK, my story is done.

The photos that are part of the story were all taken by Caden except for the one I took of him while we ate. He just loves to take photos and he carries his Sony point and shoot digital with him. And, he takes some great photos! All from a five year old. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The "Vacation that ended Early" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were packing for our trip home from Ocean City, NJ. This year we made the trip with friends from our neighborhood, the Schmids. Denny and Sharon live right next to my Mom and Dad and across and down the street from Carol and I. They have three kids about the same ages as our three kids so we thought it would be a fun to spend a week together in OC. And it was! We stayed at the place that the Schmid's rent every year. It is big enough for both our families and then some. The entire second floor is one big bedroom and all the kids either slept on mattresses or in sleeping bags on the floor; 4 boys and 2 girls. Bathroom time had to be kept to a minimum because of the 10 people who had to share the 2 bathrooms. The place was on Stenton and was about two blocks to the beach. Had a really nice front porch with awning that we used every day for relaxing and reading. Made a few trips to the boardwalk, but ride time can be expensive. The weather cooperated for the first part of the vacation, but then Thursday came and the so did the rains. And Friday, also. By now the adults are going nuts. Tough to entertain six kids. And remember, there were no walkmans, video games, etc. in the early 80s. We did have fun until the rains came though. Denny was an English teacher at JP McCaskey HS in the city of Lancaster and therefore loved to read. Early in the week I found the novel he was reading and carefully removed the last page of the book. The next to last page ended in a paragraph with a period so it looked like it was the end. What was funny was that he never mentioned that the story seemed to have an unusual ending. Maybe he was really sleeping when we thought he was reading. One day on the beach we gathered a bunch of the small crustaceans which bury in the sand when the waves go out. Not more than a quarter of an inch in size. That evening at supper everyone went through the supper line and filled their plates with spaghetti and meatballs. Denny didn't realize that his sauce had a few of the crustaceans in it until he had the first forkfull up to his mouth. The boys distracted him after he had filled his plate and placed a few on the top. Well, it is Friday and we have just about finished packing for our return trip. Our vacation doesn't end until tomorrow, but the adults can't take another night of the kids, so we have decided to end the trip a day early. I was ready yesterday!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Pix is of Denny holding our youngest, Tad. Denny retired in the mid-90s while in his mid-50s and died in the middle of that summer. He was a great guy and is missed by all. This story is in his memory.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The "Colors of the Caribbean" Story

It was an ordinary day. I had just written a few stories on my blog about the color of the architecture, the sunsets and the beaches in the Caribbean and as I was going through the many, many images I have stored on my computer, I realized how very colorful the islands of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean really are. Just everyday things and items which you see everywhere. I had tons of choices to chose from, but have limited it to 11 photos which give you some insight into the many colors of the islands. Hope you enjoy the images.

The first photo was taken in Barbados of a young boy dreaming under a palm tree. 2nd was taken on St. Martin (SXM) at Boo Boo Jams on Orient Beach. 3rd was on Pinel Island of a sugar bird inside a boutique. 4th was at a pottery factory on the island of Barbados. 5th was on Orient Beach in SXM. 6th was of a store window on the French island of St. Barts. 7th was at Ma DouDou rum store on SXM. 8th was taken while relaxing during happy hour on Barbados. Thought I had to have one of each color. 9th was taken at the butterfly farm on SXM. One of about 100 I took that day. 10th was taken on Jamaica at the Sandals Resort in Ocho Rios. And the last one was taken at the market in Marigot on SXM. Some are more colorful than others, but all reflect the many colors of the islands. Thanks goodness for digital photography and the realistic colors you can achieve in photography. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.