Extraordinary Stories

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

The "Traveling Companions" Story

It was an ordinary day. Getting ready to head on a trip through the Panama Canal. Flying to San Diego, heading down the Pacific Coast with a few stops and then through the Canal. We then will stop at 2 islands in the Caribbean with a final destination of San Juan. The "We" is Carol and me and our traveling companions Jerry and Just Sue. I think it is our 8th trip together. We had one other cruise in the Western Caribbean and this will be our second. We have been traveling togethe rsince 1999 when Jerry and I both retired from Manheim Township School District. We grew up together having attended elementary, junior high and high school together. Jerry entered the Navy while I entered college immediately after high school. We both ended up teaching together at our Alma mater before Jerry became the head of grounds and maintenance for the school district. I was in the high school office in 1998 when I heard Jerry talking to one of the secretaries about planning another trip to Hawaii. He and Sue had been there two times before. I asked him if he had any more room open for the trip and that's how it all started. A week after we retired from MT we were headed to Hawaii with Jerry and Sue as well as Sue's sister Pat and Barb and Harry. We knew Barb and Harry from church so we had a great time traveling to three different islands. Two years later we started our Caribbean journeys with trips to St. Thomas and St. Martin. It's been many years since that first trip together, but we still find we enjoy traveling with the two of them. We usually share a year's laughter together in the 2 weeks we travel. We never take anything personal that we say to each other. Seems to work better that way. I've been called numerous names and I have reciprocated with name calling of my own. Sue and Carol have been told they look like sisters and at times even dress that way. Jerry and I have never been picked as brothers since I am the good looking one. After a day or two our stomachs usually ache from all the belly laughs we have shared. Not sure what people think sometimes, but what the h*#l, we're companions on vacation. It was another extraordinary day in life of an ordinary guy.

PS - Sorry to my readers who thought I got lost. I'm on a feeding spree, known as a cruise. I found out they make their money by selling booze, getting you to gamble, and selling you expensive packages for their internet access. Will send more stories, but maybe not every day.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The "Don't Dare Drop That Hammer" Story

It was an ordinary day. Lance and I were finishing up a job for Carol's Uncle Albert and Aunt Bea Greenly. Lance and I had a small part-time business installing siding in the evenings and over the weekend. Lance was my cousin Judy's husband at the time and he worked for a siding contractor. One day I asked him if he would be interested in helping me put siding on my mom and dad's house. Well, one thing led to another and we ended up doing three other houses on the block where mom and dad lived. Lance supplied the tools, materials, and know-how and I supplied the customers and labor. We worked well together. It was extra income that was needed for my growing family. Only problem was it did take time away from being with the family, but they could come anytime and watch us since I lived on the same street as my parents. Then other people started calling and asking if we could do their house. Before long we were busy most weekends. We first started with aluminium. Fun to work with and I learned quickly all the ins and outs of putting siding on a house. You start at the bottom and work you way up the house. If you were almost finished and dropped your hammer and dented the siding below you, you learned quickly how to repair it without removing any of the siding that was already in place. And ... it happened more times than I care to remember. Eventually we switched to vinyl when that became popular. Much easier to work with and you didn't have to worry about scratching it or denting it. Today we are finishing at the Greenly's house and I'm sorry to say it will be our last job together. We have spent the past four years working together, but Lance and Judy were having some problems and would be separating. Carol and I thought it was best to discontinue our working together to keep peace in the family. Today Lance and his new wife live in a house between my two sons in the west end of the county. He and my cousin are still friends and Carol and I see them at family birthday parties. Funny, but I never missed the siding business after I quit. It was just an extra income and I replaced it with something else. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The "Down on the Amish Farm" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just heading to pickup a printing job that I had taken to a bindery to have holes punched for plastic binders. The company is located in Amish Country. Now, that can be just about anywhere in Lancaster County. For those of you who don't live with the Amish, it is like a tourist thing for you, isn't it? A novelty! They are my neighbors and you get used to seeing buggies and long black pants and straw hats. As I passed the many farms without electricity, I could see the farmers harvesting their crops they had planted in the spring. All the wagons and farm equipment is being pulled by horses or mules. No tractors are allowed. They are too worldly. Wash hangs from lines across the property. They wear very plain clothing styles, thus the name "Plain People". There are about 20,000 Amish living in Lancaster County. 51 church districts accommodate all those people. Church is held every other Sunday at one of the farms in the district. The minister is usually chosen by lot from among the members of the parish. Pretty neat to see a farm on a Sunday with 40 or 50 buggies in the yard. The Amish are very devout in their faith.They believe in the literal interpretation and application of Scripture as the Word of God. They take seriously the Biblical commands to separate themselves from the things of the world. They believe worldliness can keep them from being close to God, and can introduce influences that could be destructive to their communities and to their way of life. By the way, the buggies cost about $5,000 each and have options like our cars, only in a non-worldly manner. There are 10 carriage shops in Lancaster and they used to make the buggies entirely out of wood. Today they use fiberglass for quite a bit of the buggy. The horses that pull them are mostly thoroughbreds that are bought at auction in New Holland, PA. Two events in the past few years brought the Amish of Lancaster County to the forefront in the evening news. The murder of the Amish school children at the Nickle Mines School and the release of the movie "Witness". Contrary to popular belief, the Amish do not live the same way they did 300 years ago. They have adopted many things to make life easier, but are careful not to accept new technology without considering its effects on their community lifestyle. At the end of quite a few farm lanes will be a shed that houses a phone. Their connection to the rest of the world. As far as taking a photo of the Amish, it's not against their religion to be photographed, but it is against their religion to be asked to pose for a photograph. Today I have my camera with me since I was taking photos for the middle school
yearbook and have it in the car as I travel to the bindery. Great chance to share some of the daily events of the farming community with you. The scenes shown here are commonplace for me living in Lancaster County. Hope you enjoy a few of the photos. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos from the tops are: country road in Lancaster Co., traditional Amish farm with no power lines in sight, scooters in front of a one room schoolhouse, farmer harvesting, Amish farm I stopped at to purchase some tomatoes and a jar of homemade pickles from a little Amish girl who looked to be about 7 or 8, and a selection of goods at the farm.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The "Walking Art Gallery" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just brought child #3 home from the hospital. This one weighed 10 pounds! Keeps getting bigger!! We named him after my father. Paul Thadeus Woods was born on April 9, 1976. Since he was a Bi-Centennial baby we gave him the "Thadeus" name for Thadeus Stevens who was a well known member of our community. Stevens was a member of the House of Representatives and had a law office in Lancaster in the early 1980s. I had a student in class whose name was Tad and I always liked it, so when we named our third child, I started to call him by his middle name and shortened it to Tad. Still call him Tad. And .... I still think it's a really neat name. Tad stayed in the baby's room for a few years then moved to the third floor bedroom of the house with his big brother Derek. They had the entire re-modeled third floor to themselves. I can still see the front wall of his room. He painted every NHL hockey team's logo on the wall when he was in high school. That was one of the many reasons it was hard to move from the old house on Janet Ave. Since Tad was the youngest, he was picked on by his brother and sister. Not much, but just enough to make him cry. I often wondered if he cried for our attention or because they actually hurt him. His older brother and sister still tease him about his crying when he was younger. Tad LOVED our family vacations at the Chesapeake Bay. He was a fantastic water skier. He also had another board that was a mini surfboard that he was proficient with. Many hours were spent towing him up and down the Elk and Sassafras Rivers when he was younger. At one time he wanted to become a professional water-skier. When he entered middle school he asked if he could play ice hockey. I was amazed at the athlete he was on a pair of skates. Especially, since I couldn't ice skate at all. His stick handling and speed on skates made him a perfect member of the front line on the hockey team. He played for the Lancaster Firebirds for many years. He traveled around the Eastern US on weekends for his games and even got to travel to Canada for a few days for a hockey exchange. In high school he had to travel about 30 miles each way twice a week, plus weekends for games, since there were not enough boys his age for a team. He played on the north side of Reading, PA. Many, many miles on the car during the years in middle and high school. He developed his hockey skills over the years and eventually was captain of the teams he played on. Tad also developed an interest in photography as he was growing up. Watching the prints develop in the chemicals in our basement darkroom got him hooked. He won numerous awards in the Scholastic Art and Photography Contest during his school years. He eventually decided upon Antonelli's School of Photography in Norristown, PA so he could major in photography and attempt to land a job in the photo business. After graduation he started to work with Jerry Driendl, a former student of mine, who traveled around the world taking panoramic photos of cities. Tad got to see numerous major cities in the US as well as a few Caribbean stops during his time with Jerry. He eventually ended up working for Intel Printing Company and advanced to pressman in a few years. A much more stable job. Has worked the night shift since he began there. He owns a home a few doors from his brother as well as a '72Chevelle. While at Antonellis' he began a quest to cover every part of his body with artwork. Yep, tattoos. Some of the neatest and most colorful artwork you can find. Mostly things that he has designed, but carried out by a fantastic artist and friend of his. His most recent one is a large scene on his stomach of an NHL goalie making a stop in goal. Still loves ice hockey. Plays ice, street, and roller hockey year round with quite a few of his friends from high school. He covered his right arm from the elbow to his hand with a memorial to his grandfather after whom he was named. A large photo of his grandfather, Paul H., in his military uniform with planes firing missiles, boats dropping depth charges and explosions in the sky illuminate his arm in a large array of colors. Has his granddad's name and date of birth and death right under the photo. A true piece of art. And now he wants me to go visit the tattoo studio with him so I can start my collection! We'll see!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Pixs from the top are: Young Paul T. celebrating with birthday with his grandfather Paul H., one of his favorite summer activities on the Chesapeake, family photo with his sister Brynn and older brother Derek, high school graduation photo, college graduation photo, photo taken in some city as Tad prepares to take a night photo of the city skyline, and Tad proclaiming the "Mom Likes Me Best"

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The "Allergic Nuts" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was finally feeling better. No more scratching and the swelling had gone down. Big time swelling! My daughter had bought me a really big jar of cashews for my birthday. She got them at Costco. I love cashews! I found out I like them a little too much. I had a few that night after my party was over. I had a few the next morning after breakfast and some with my lunch. Great snack in the afternoon and then again in the evening as another snack. Just a handful or two, or three, mind you, every time, but in three days the whole plastic jar was empty. And then the scratching started. Skin was getting red spots and welts at different spots on my body. Carol said it looks like I may be allergic to something. What could it be I wondered. I had mowed the lawn a few days ago, but I never have this trouble after mowing. She said she hadn't change laundry detergent. "Did you eat anything different in the past few days?" she asked me. I said, "Nothing other than the jar of cashews that Brynn got me." She looked at me and said, "You ate that whole jar of cashews already?" Wow, I was really getting red in different spots and two very sensitive things on me were starting to swell. Really swell. I was having a hard time walking. Went to the doctor the next day and he couldn't believe I ate a whole big jar of cashews in that amount of time either. He asked me if I was still able to go to the bathroom. No trouble there, just the swelling of most parts of my body by now. He gave me shot and a prescription and gave me some samples so I could get started on it immediately. Before long I was back to normal again. It's been a few years since that happened, but I am very reluctant to eat cashews again. Don't want the nuts to cause me any more problems. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The "Another Bag of Goodies" Story

It was an ordinary day. I had just finished working at the Acme Supermarket on North Queen St. in Lancaster. Nothing out of the ordinary I guess, except tonight I am taking another bag of goodies home for my mom, dad and brother. I started working at the Acme about 6 months after I turned 16. After another 6 months they put me in charge of the bakery section of the store. Now, this is before grocery stores had in-house bakeries. All we had was a couple of shelves that had bread, rolls, muffins, Tasty-Cakes, pies, cakes and pastries on them. My job was to make sure that everything was lined up nice and neat before I went home so it would look nice for the following morning. I also was responsible for making sure that anything that was outdated was removed from the shelf and discarded. Ah .... right into a grocery bag that I would take home with me. Hey, they said that was OK! As long as I did a good job, no one cared that I took the stuff with me. And, since I worked four evenings every week I got to take quite a bit of stuff home. So much that mom never had to buy bread or pastries for the few years that I worked there. Boy did she hate it when I quit! Relatives heard about it and told mom and dad to call when we had too much. They would stop by to take the leftovers that we didn't want. I still remember the lemon and raspberry filled pastries that I would bring home every week. They were my favorites. Still are today. I think the store saw this stuff flying off the shelf so fast and assumed it was all being sold so they continued to order it. The lemon and raspberry pastries weren't big sellers, just big giveaway items. And bread! Some nights I would bring home two grocery bags of outdated bread. Relatives were always visiting. They knew my work schedule as well as I did. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights were shopping nights at the bakery counter. I did my job well and the next morning the trucks would arrive and place the new products behind my nicely stacked shelves. Whenever I go past the bakery counter today in a store, I wonder what store employee has the fantastic job of removing the outdated items and taking them home. Funny how you remember the jobs you had that you didn't mind doing. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The "To Stain, or Not To Stain" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was staining the house. I was using an opaque stain which is fairly thick. Stained the house twice since we have lived here and it was due for another coat. This time I decided that maybe we should put siding on the house so I wouldn't have to worry about it ever again. Carol said that would be fine with her so I had four estimates for the job. Wanted to keep the integrity of the house the same, so I wanted all the different angles that we now have with the cedar siding. That was going to be hard to do I was told four different times. OK, I know, but give me your best price for the way that I want it done. Couldn't use horizontal siding anywhere on the house. Had to use all soffit pieces. Well, the prices were all over the place with $14,000 the cheapest. Yep, the cheapest. Holy Cow! Maybe we could do just half this year and half next year Carol said to me. OK. I called Century Siding, the least expensive, and asked if he could come back and give me a price for just two sides. When he arrived we walked around the house and I gave him my idea about what I wanted to do. "Why don't you just stain it again?" he said to me. "I know that I'm here to sell you siding, but this house was meant to have cedar siding on it, not vinyl siding. Won't look halve as nice if you put it on. Think how many times you can have it stained for the price you'll have to pay me for the vinyl. I don't think you'll be here that long." Gee, thanks a lot. Yep, he talked me into it. Stain the house. Carol nixed the idea of me doing it myself because of the heights and my age. I did get an estimate and had scheduled a time for the staining to take place, and then while talking about it with my son, Tad, he suggested he could help do the high spots for me. So here I am, for the third time since we moved here, applying stain to the house. Two coats will help it last longer. Taking my time, but will have it done before the cold weather sets in. Already have gone through 8 gallons and I'm only half way there. And, it's only costing me for the stain and the labor for my son. Looks great again! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - I'm in top photo and Tad is in the bottom

Monday, September 20, 2010

The "Wow, That's a Pretty Picture" Story

It was an ordinary day. I had just sold one of my Wallace Nutting photographs from my collection. It was titled "On the Slope" and was taken in 1912. It measured, with the frame, 12" x 18" and was the largest Nutting photography in my collection. I started collecting Wallace Nutting photos in 1995 when Carol and I were making a trip to Norristown, PA to visit our son Tad who had just started Antonelli's School of Photography. We stopped at a antique store for a visit and I saw this beautiful print that had been hand-tinted. I taught hand-tinting in my photography class at high school and really appreciated the photo. Then I saw that it was a Nutting print. Had talked about him it in my class many times. Wallace Nutting was born in 1861 and became a minister after graduating from Hartford Theological Seminary. He started taking photos in 1899 and in 1904 opened the Wallace Nutting Art Prints Studio in New York. He eventually moved the gallery to Connecticut, then to Massachusetts. In the peak of his business he employed about 200 colorists. He claims to have sold ten million pictures. The colorists painted the photos which he took and sometimes signed his name on them for him which is why the signatures vary. I have a book showing all the different signatures so I can check to see if any print I may want is actually an original Nutting. He was more prolific with pastoral scenes, consequently his interiors are more valuable. He was also famous for his Windsor chairs which he produced in the early 20th century. He died in 1941. The photo I bought that day inNorristown was called "The Coming Out of Rosa" which is his most popular photo ever. Since that time I have collected a dozen of his works. My favorites are "The Beckoning Road" taken in Vermont, "Maine Coast Sky", "The Golden Wish", "A Little River in Mt. Washington", and a print that my wife bought for me from an antique store in State College, PA called "The Maple Sugar Cupboard." This print is probably my most valuable since it is an interior scene. It was taken in 1935. The photo that I just sold today I had purchased on eBay and was my least favorite. I sold it to the guy that was doing the drywall for our bathroom remodel. He wasfascinated with the technique. Went home and read about Wallace Nutting and how he did the prints and asked if I had one he could buy. Gave it to him for the price I paid for it. Nice to see someone who has the same appreciation for hand-tinted photos that I do. Told him I would call him if I decided to sell anymore. Not going to happen!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Photos from the top are: "The Coming Out of Rosa", "The Beckoning Road", "Maine Coast Sky", "The Golden Wish", and "A Little River in Mt. Washington", and "The Maple Sugar Cupboard"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The "Ah, the Aromatic Smell of Ink!" Story

It was an ordinary day. I had just returned with a negative from Parke Duing's place. Parke was a former student of mine who has a lithography business in Lancaster. He makes negatives and plates for printing firms that don't have the capability to do it themselves. In my case, I no longer can make negatives so I have him shoot my copy and give me a usable negative that I can use to burn a plate to run on the school's printing press. Parke is always accommodating and at times will have me wait while he pushes his other jobs aside and makes my negatives. Over the years I have grown to appreciate the many students who I had in my graphic arts classes who have entered the business themselves and give me the special treatment when I go to them. At least that is how I feel they treat me. A few days ago I called Bindery Associates where one of my former students is one of the managers. Asked the girl who answered the phone about having eight reams of paper punched with holes for inserting comb binders. She gave me a price of $80 and I told her I would try to do the job myself, since I was doing a class reunion job and was donating most of my time and couldn't afford the $80 price tag. As we hung up I told her, "Tell Tipton that Mr. Woods said Hi!" She told me she would tell him as we disconnected. A few minutes later I got a call from him and he told me to bring the paper over and they would do the job for free. See what I mean! I have been ordering paper from Lindenmeyr Paper Company for a few years now. The salesman is Joe Brody who was a student in my class. He always gets me the best price he can. Back in August I called and asked if the company could donate paper for the football program I was printing and they didn't even hesitate. 12 cases of paper arrived the next day. Wow! Two brothers who I have had in my class, Mike and Greg Steif, work at Intel Printing Company. Mike is the President. Marty Lind works at Graphic Crafts in Willow Street and when I needed something from his company, I always felt I was being treated special. Former student Scott Reighard has been the President of Acorn Press for years. I got many donations of inks and supplies from them for the classroom over the years. One of my student teachers, Dave Weaver, went to work for Scott instead of going into teaching. I still have Doug Zellem, who was a former student and is now the owner of White Oak Printing, make photos for me. Best price in town! See what I mean!! Now in this case, I found out that Doug has felt an obligation and a little guilt from high school because he took a book of hall passes out of my drawer one day and used them to travel around the school. A good friend of his told me that story. My two favorite former students, Derek and Tad, my sons, have stayed in the trade and both are pressmen for their respective businesses. I'm not sure when I will totally retire from the aromatic smell of ink. Maybe when I can no longer lift a case of paper or make the adjustments on the press. But then again, maybe I can get a former student to do that for me. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The "My Little Sweetheart!" Story

It was an ordinary day. Fourth of July and we are getting ready for some fireworks. And ... boy did we get them. In the form of a daughter. Our daughter, Brynn Ann, was born at 5:54 AM. A "Firecracker." Weighed 9 lbs, 9 ozs. Born at the Lancaster General Hospital and I saw her arrive in the world. What an experience for all of us. Later that day I brought Carol a bowl of homemade ice cream that we made at the evening picnic at mom and dad's house. She was an active little girl. She fell into one of our chairs in the dining room at age two and got a pretty nice shiner. Carol and I were sure people would think that we abused her. Broke her arm at age four when she fell off of the new activity set in the back yard. Was going across the monkey bars and lost her hold and fell to the ground. She shared a bedroom with her older brother Derek for a few years until her younger brother Tad arrived, then she got the second floor rear bedroom to herself as the boys moved to the third floor. I built her a bed with a desk and shelves below and the sleeping quarters on the top. She loved the bed. In elementary school she got in trouble one day when she took a hammer and nails to school to try to get into the boy's locker room from the girl's locker room. Got caught, naturally! Had to walk around for a week with a block of wood with nails in it as her punishment. In ninth grade she was cleaning one of her display cabinets that held her spoon collection and after taking the glass front off and sitting it on the floor, forgot about the glass and walked right into it. Cut off the top of her second toe. In her junior year she was opening the front door in her bare feet and got it stuck under the door and ended up having her toe nail cut off at the doctors. Also, during her junior year she started dating one of the best athletes on the baseball team. They dated a few times and then Andy was tragically killed in an automobile accident. Life's lessons are sometimes learned the hard way. With the help of her family and friends, she worked her way through her grief. During her high school career she visited Italy with her church youth group, was Mary in the Christmas Pageant at church, was the editor of the yearbook in her senior year, won numerous national awards in the Scholastic Arts and Photography Contest, was the goalie and captain of the field hockey team, played basketball, and was named a Lancaster County All-Star in softball. She had decided that she wanted to be a textile designer and was planning on the Univ. of Delaware until she found that she would have to travel out of the country quite a bit in an occupation like that. At this point in my story I should clue you in that Brynn got homesick easily. REAL EASILY!! She decided on Elementary Education and entered Millersville and roomed with a longtime friend ...... for two weeks. Decided she missed her mother too much and talked us into letting her come home and commute. She did try again in her sophomore year and rented an apartment with another friend. Her junior and senior years she stayed on campus in an old farmhouse with three other friends. It was during this time that she met her husband, Dave. They were married two years after college and moved to Maryland. Dave was a teacher and football coach and Brynn taught elementary school. Then Courtney and Camille arrived. She became a stay-at-homemom for the kids for a few years and is now back in education as an early childhood teacher. She is world famous for her Chocolate Chip Cookies. Just ask anyone who knows her. Brynn has been everything a father could want in a daughter. A sensitive, caring person who is a real charmer. I could go on and on and on. And ..... she learned excellent mothering skills from her mother. Her daughters will someday realize just how lucky they have been to have had her as their mother. Most girls don't realize how good a mother they had until they have children of their own. My daughter may be all grown up now, but to me she will always be "My Little Sweetheart! Luv you, Brynn, Dad. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - pixs fromtop are: Brynn with her brothers Derek and Tad, elementary school photo, holding one of her many pets she had, starting to perfect her cookie skills (notice the long blond hair to her waist), photo of her with her husband Dave, and celebrating her 5th birthday on the 4th of July with daughters Camille and Courtney.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The "Woman in the Little Black Box" Story

It was an ordinary day. Actually it's 1:30 AM and we're lost in the parking lot. The story begins when we got a GPS system for the car. Always thought it would be great to have access to directions if I didn't know where I was going. I usually went to AAA before trips to have them map out the directions to where we were going. Heading to Annapolis? Get the directions from AAA and a map and I'm set. Same with trips to Alexandria, VA and St. Michaels, MD. Right after I got the directions and a map to St. Michaels I got a GPS system for the car. Easy to work. Type in the starting point and the ending point and hit "GO." Couldn't be any easier. Only thing I needed was help understanding the woman's voice. Too high a pitch for my hearing (this story takes place before I got my hearing aides). Well, we decided to use it to go to St. Michaels and see how it compared with the directions I had just received from AAA. Got as far as Galena, MD when the GPS told me to stay on Rt. 213S while the map from AAA told me to head to the east to pick up another highway. I chose the map's directions, and Carol said, "How can that be right when the GPS said the other way?" Shortly the GPS told me to turn around since I missed the correct turn. I knew I was on the right road since we had traveled it before, so I did the only thing I could do. I turned off the GPS! "Why'd you buy it if you didn't want to listen to it?" Carol said. I had no answer. Silence for a few minutes as I drove on. We reached St. Michaels and had a great time and I tried the GPS on the way home. Traffic was terrible and when I got to the route I had taken on the way down I turned even though the GPS told me otherwise. Silence again. Well, it was time to travel to the Baltimore airport for a trip to the Caribbean. We usually leave from Philadelphia and I'm not familiar with the Baltimore route so I got out the GPS and "Viola," it got us right to the parking lot where we had made reservations. Carol did the listening and repeating and I did the driving. Had a great trip and arrived back in Baltimore a little after midnight. After getting our luggage we found the shuttle to the parking lot. Loaded the luggage in the car, set the GPS and headed for the exit. After paying the fee we started to follow the directions to get us back on the beltway around Washington. Carol was relaying the turns and route numbers to me from the female voice on the GPS. Then Tad, our son called on the cell phone. He works the night shift and was calling to make sure we got back safely. And then ..... I started to make a few wrong turns and ended up in a large parking lot. Couldn't figure out how to get out of it. I stopped the car, told Carol to finish the call, and help me with the GPS. Took a few more turns and we were back in business. I need to figure out how to get a male with a lower pitched voice to give me the directions on the GPS. Haven't used it since our parking lot experience, but I'm sure we will have many more interesting driving memories with the use of the Global Positioning System. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The "A Visit to Grandpap's Cellar" Story

It was an ordinary day. Carol and I were visiting my Grandpap who lived at 617 S. Prince Street. This is the same Grandpap that took me to Root's Sale many times when I was young and always brought me back with a new box of animals. Learned a lot about life from the animals as well as responsibility and budgeting time. Grandpap is my mother's father. The whole family was showing up today for chicken corn soup, his speciality. He always used yellow corn with small kernels. Went to market to buy the chicken and always purchased extra chicken fat to make the broth extra tasty. Any worms in the corn added, if nothing else, something to talk about. But, the best part of our visit to Grandpaps' was the trip to his wine cellar. Down the open wooden steps in the kitchen to the dirt floor in the cellar. He had two rooms in the cellar, separated with a thick cement wall with a big wooden door. There was one window in the one room, none in the other. Dark as can be in the one side of the cellar. That is where all the wine jugs were located. Wooden shelves supported with wooden braces. Grandpap made wine from peaches, wild cherries, dandelion, and rose petals. And he usually did it while wearing a tie. His entire backyard was covered with rose bushes. I often thought he loved flowers, but it seems he raised the roses for the wine. Always enjoyed catching Japanese beetles in his yard as a kid. He had huge crocks in the cellar that he would fill with the fruit or petals, add tons of sugar and water, put the cork on the crock, label it with the date and contents and wait. Sometimes for years. After time, he would siphon the clear liquid from the crocks into 5 gal. bottles. All this was in a small room in his cellar. It was packed! And tasty. Carol and I loved his taste testing sessions in his cellar. He would open a jug, put a small rubber hose in the jug, suck on one end until the wine entered his mouth and then fill the glass for us. They all had a delicious sweet flavor to them. Best part of our visits to Grandpap's house. One time we heard a pop in the cellar and discovered that one of the crocks had exploded. After he died, all the wine was poured down the drain in the kitchen. Everyone was afraid of what might happen if you drank the stuff, not knowing what was in all the crocks and jugs. I always loved my visits to 617 S. Prince. I lived there with my mom for the first year of my life while my dad was in the service and never outgrew my love of Grandpap and his house. And his chicken corn soup was fabulous. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photo shows my Grandpap, William Cochran in the front row, far left. His mother is the 3rd from the left and all the rest are his brothers and sisters. I carry his name as my middle name. Some say I have a resemblance to him and his brothers.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The "What Ever Happened to the Drive-In Theater?" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was looking at the Sunday News and saw an ad for Movie Night at "DJ's - Taste of the 50's" on the Old Phila. Pike. An outdoor movie. Rain or shine. September 26th from 6:45 to 9:00 PM. Now how were they going to do this? There haven't been any drive-in theaters in Lancaster County since the Columbia Drive-in closed in 2005. There are only 62 drive-in theaters left in the state of PA. Used to be three in the area, and I went to all three of them, many times. Mom and dad used to take my brother and I along with my Aunt Lillian and cousins Judy and George to see movies "outdoors." The Skyview was located on Lincoln Hwy. East and could hold 800 cars. The back of the screen faced the highway and you would park on an incline in front of the screen. Used to put the speaker on your window so you could hear the movie. That theater was made into outlet stores many years ago. Then there was the Comet Drive-In on the Rt. 230 Bypass heading to Mt. Joy. That one only held 600 cars. Same deal there with the screen facing away from the highway so no one could see the movie unless you paid to get in. When I started dating Carol, we would go to the Columbia Drive-In on the Columbia Pike. This theater opened in 1956 and also had the speakers that you hooked to your car window. Used to run movies that had already beenin the downtown theaters for half a year. Uaually had a double-feature. Sometimes they were the horror type and then later they switched to the R-rated. That was when R-rated was really risque. But, who watched the movies anyway? On one date we placed the audio box on the window and by the end of the evening it was cold outside and we had rolled the windows up. Went to leave and forgot to take the box off. Ripped it right out of the pole next to us. I'm sure we weren't the first ones to do that. They eventually provided AM & FM radio broadcasts for the movie audio. Pretty neat! Now the Columbia Drive-In had its' screen facing away from the Columbia Pike, but it could be seen from the new Route 30 Bypass which ran parallel to Columbia Ave. The screen was huge, so you had no trouble seeing it from the bypass and cars would line the edge of the bypass to watch the movie. Didn't have sound, but didn't seem to matter to them. They eventually put up "No Parking" signs along that stretch to keep the traffic flowing better. Now all the drive-in theaters are closed in the area. Either made into shopping malls or used for farm land. I'm interested to see how the restaurant DJ's is going to show their movie outdoors. Guess I'll find out soon. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - pixs from the top are: Ad for DJ's Taste of the 50's, highway sign from The Comet Drive-In, highway sign from the Columbia Drive-In, and the Google map of the Columbia Drive-In. The Columbia Pike is on the bottom while the parallel Route 30 is not seen in the top of the photo.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The "Stars are Out of Alignment" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just traded in our second Ford Aerostar for a Mazda MPV. We loved our Aerostars during the time we had them. Just seemed that they always had something wrong with then. Our first Aerostar was a new 1987 model with dark blue color top and bottom with a silver band around the middle. Really cool looking car. Had a sliding door on the passengers' side and a rear door that opened. Just like all the mini-vans that followed it. It was huge. A 7 passenger mini-van. I could remove the seats ina few minutes which left plenty of space for moving items or for storage when going on vacation. The van was a 6 cylinder automatic with rear-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes. It had a great sound system in it and even featured a cassette player. It was great for a large family and transporting lots of kids. Also was a treat to take on vacation. Then, Carol heard this "ting" in the engine. I couldn't hear it, but I couldn't hear lots of things. Van had less than 10K miles on it at the time. And the "ting" was getting louder by the week. Finally took it to the dealer where we bought it and the mechanic also heard the noise. They did some tests on it and it was determined that they put the wrong size pistons in the car when it was made. They gave usa loaner and spent the best part of a week taking the engine out and replacing the pistons. When we got it back it sounded great to Carol for ....... about a month and then the "ting" started again. Back again for more tests and analysis. They were stumped, but they recalled the car and gave us another loaner while they put an entire new engine in the car. This time it actually worked. With all the hassle, we still loved the van. After our three year warranty ran out, we decided to buy another car. So, we traded for a new ..... 1990 Ford Aerostar. When my friend Hal, who I taught with, saw it for the first time, asked "Why on earth would you buy another one of those after all the trouble you had with the first one?" Because we loved it. And the new one had an extended body with a gray to and bottom and burgandy stripe around it. Couldn't be unlucky two times in a row. It served us well for three years and then we didn't want to push our luck, so we purchased the MPV. Still see a few of the Aerostars on the road and wonder what ever happened to the two that we once owned. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The "We Lost.....but yet, We Won" Story

It was an ordinary day. We just lost the game. The big one. The game against our biggest rival. But, in the long run we really won! Here's how this goes. Carol and I picked up our son Derek, daughter-in-law Barbara, and grandson Caden and headed to Urbana, Maryland where our daughter Brynn, son-in-law Dave, and grand daughters Courtney and Camille live. We went to the big football game tonight against Damascus. Dave is the head coach at Quince Orchard High School in Montgomery County, Maryland and Damascus has been one of his biggest rivals for years. One of Dave's best friends coaches Damascus which makes for even more competition. But, tonight is extra special, since the two teams have been raising money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation all week in what has been called "The Battle For A Cure." The two rival teams are using their rivalry for a good cause. Our grand daughter Courtney has Juvenile Diabetes (Type 1 diabetes) and we are hoping that someday, with the help of science and scientists, and money raised through this foundation, her disease will be cured. They sold t-shirts with the helmets of the two teams on the front along with the date of the game and on the back was the wording "two rivals fighting to find a cure for Diabetes." Quite a few people in the stadium had these shirts on tonight. And the place was packed. The game was played at Quince Orchard and people lined the field. Standing room only! Before the game, Courtney was escorted by Pop, her other grandfather and one of her dad's assistants to the center of the field where she got to participate in the coin toss. Wasn't sure she could do it, but the head official of the game told her he would help her toss the coin into the air. She got to meet the captains of the teams and toss the coin into the air. Damascus won the toss and the game began. One of the most exciting high school games I have ever attended. Quince Orchard lost the game 27-23 after the pass for a touchdown on the final play of the game went incomplete. After the game, we all went onto the field to talk with Dave. His team may have lost the game, but he realized that his daughter will someday benefit from the over $2000 that was collected to help in the "Battle for the Cure." It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Pixs of Courtney and the game from the top: Courtney and her mom wearing their "Battle for a Cure" shirts, Courtney waiting for the game to begin, Courtney with her sister Camille and mom and dad sharing a moment before the game, the Quince Orchard "THE RED" cheering section, the coin toss before the game at mid-field, and friday night lites at the Quince Orchard vs. Damascus football game.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The "Birthday Greeting for Just Sue" Story

It was an ordinary day. I am a year older. Not a pretty sight. But, I have no other alternative. I just picked up a card at the store for my friend Just Sue, since her birthday is in nine days. I think she's older than me, maybe. Now she's been "Over the Hill" for a few years, but I found a neat card that tells you 50 ways that you can tell when you're over the hill. Naturally, I'm going to tell you a few of them. So here's some of my favorites. You can tell when you're over the hill when: You think "Libido" is an Italian Pasta; People always begin compliments with the phrase "For your age....."; You wonder why they started printing everything is smaller type; You notice that joggers are passing you while you are driving (that's for Sue's husband); You keep repeating yourself; Your pharmacist calls you by your first name; Your car battery goes dead because your turn signal has been on for the past three weeks; Your new easy chair has more options than you car; You keep repeating yourself; You start beating everyone at trivia games; You refer to your audio system as your Hi-Fi; Your childhood toys are now in a museum; and, You drive a Buick. Now, I added that last one! But, you know, "Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans." Hey Sue, if you read this story before you get your birthday card, I'm sure you'll forget most of what I have written anyway. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The "From The Beginning" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was cleaning off my desk and realized I still hadn't finished my story about the other publication that C. Nat Netscher had written. The BIG publication. I recently published "The First 100 Years" which is a story by Nat of the Manheim Township school system. While helping him with this job he asked if I could help him with his new venture, a history of the entire Township. He told me he had been researching it for a few years and wanted to try the smaller publication first to see how it went. Since his first publication was such a hit, he decided it was time for his second history book. "Would you be able to layout, type the copy, and add the photos as you did for the last book? You'll get paid for this venture, much unlike the last book," he told me. "OK," was all I could say. I proceeded to get prices from a few publishers and printing companies and found that Jostens Yearbook Company in State College, PA was the best choice for Nat and his story. I had worked with the company for over 30 years while the yearbook adviser for the high school and middle school yearbooks and knew they would produce a great book at a fair price. The township formed a book committee which had a grant to help pay some of the pre-publication costs. Namely my fees!! Pre-sale of the book was fabulous. People had seen Nat's first book and knew this would be a winner also. The final work is an 8 1/2" x 11" "Coffee table book" that is almost an inch thick. Plenty of history packed into the pages. The book features 14 chapters which include: a run through history, land, government, transportation, education, religion, businesses, sports and recreation, people, dwellings, health and safety, neighborhoods, good times, and bad times. We decided on having the pages as 2 column with a tool line in the middle for easy reading. Type was 12 point Times Roman with captions in 10 point. Almost every page has a photo on it, some have numerous photos. The timeline started in 1917 and carried through to publication date of 2003. The book is more than a history book, with personal stories from many, many contributors. I contributed my two cents to a few stories as well as a few photos. I actually read every single word in the book. Matter of fact, I typed every single word in the book as well as the numbers and the many sizes of tool lines on the pages and around the photos. And .... it was fun working with Nat. Never saw him without a smile on his face. He was living and writing his dream. The final result was a total success. Sold out and went to a second printing. I have used my autographed copy many times over the last 7 years. Only thing I never found out during my time working with Nat was ..... what the "C" stands for in C. Nat Netscher. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The "Let the Good Ole Times Roll" Story

It was an ordinary day. Was looking at my high school yearbook. Soon time for my 50th reunion. I got an email from Dotty a few days ago about a meeting of some of the members of the class of '62. We were going to meet to make the plans for the reunion. Our last one was '07. I pulled out my "Neff-Vue", my yearbook, and started looking through it to see some of the old faces again. Found a large class photo taken in the high school gym in the back of the yearbook that I had forgotten about. Started to look at it also to see who I still recognized. A few of my classmates have died since we graduated almost half a century ago. I'm sure there are more than I know about, but tough to tell when many don't live in the area anymore. Oh, there is Norm Billipp. He died in a copter crash during the Vietnam War. And, Artie Wetzler. Never found out what happened to him. John Turnbull., George Healey, and Joe Cass were all twins who died. When you reach 50 years, there's bound to be a few that have died. Then I found a few faces that I have seen recently staring at me. There is Ed Groff and John Hessen who were in the Lancaster Co. Corvette Club with me a few years ago. Still remember Marilyn Kopp whom I had a crush on in elementary school. John "Bones" Huber was a fantastic bombardment player since no one could hit him. He was soooo skinnny. And Jody Glass who was the star football player. Once hit me so hard during a practice when I tried to tackle him that I didn't think I could get up. I quit shortly after that!! And is that Leon Sample? Yep, that's him. Everyone called him "Bugsy" and picked on him. Not sure why. I lived half a block from him and always got along with him. He now is a regional director for Homeland Security. How ironic. Bob Halpin was easy to pick out. He had the long hair like in "Grease" and wore a white tshirt all the time. Rick Ashby ended up being the President of Fulton Bank in Lancaster. There's Bob Sydansk who worked for Marathon Oil Co. and has 60 US and 137 foreign patents. And there sits my friend Martha Winters. We were in homeroom together every year and in most classes together. Always sat next to or in front of each other since our last names both started with "W." I recently saw that she was just named Vice President of RCSA (Research Corporation for Science Advancement). Last I knew Dr. Martha Gilliland (Winters) was the Chancellor of the Univ. of Missouri. Before that she was Provost of Tulane, Vice President of Univ. of Arizona, and director of the College of Engineering at University Nebraska. Never knew she was that smart. She always looked over my shoulder in class for the answers. No wait, she sat in front of me. That's why I was able to pass my science classes. Thanks, Marty! And the final two who really stick out in the photo are Sue Bingham and Jerry Herr. They were high school sweet-hearts who married after school and are still happily married (allegedly). They have become the traveling companions for Carol and I as well as good friends. Neat to think that we graduated together. Heck, Jerry and I have been friends for over 60 years now. Can't wait until 2012 to see everyone again. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The "09-09-09" Story

It was an ordinary day. Wednesday. Not doing anything special. Didn't matter that it was a special day for me. We're headed to the Chesapeake on Saturday for a birthday celebration for me. Just Carol and me. I've had so many of these celebrations that, even though I enjoy reaching them, I also don't enjoy all the hoopla that tend to come with them. A quiet day in one of my favorite restaurants along the C & D Canal in Maryland is more then enough celebration for me. And ... you never tell anyone that it is your birthday when you head out to eat or you'll get, "How old are you?" I usually tell them, "Age is a number, and mine is unlisted." I have been looking forward to this particular birthday because of the numbers that are associated with it. "09-09-09." I assume you get what that means. You can only have a celebration with numbers like this if you were born in one of the first 12 days of the month, and then only if you are lucky enough to be living at the beginning of a century. December 12th, 2012 will be the last time a celebration like this can occur until we reach the year 3001. I think I'm right on that! But then again, does that nonsense mean anything special? Our daughter was 4 years old on July fourth and got her picture in the paper with a birthday cake my wife had baked for her. This only happened because I knew the photographer at the newspaper and told him it would be a neat idea. Would have been neater if she was 4 on the 4th in 2004. Didn't happen that way though. I often thought we should have planned the birth of our children so all three would have been born on one of the first 12 days of the month, so they would have had a special day like me. And for me, it would have been better if I had been 9 years old on 09-09-09. I'm sure I would have had my photo in the paper. But then again, "my number is unlisted!" It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - The meal was great!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The "Lefty" Story

It was an ordinary day. And then Carol nudged me. Early morning, and it was time. Our first child was on the way. He was 26 days late. Not quite sure how that happened, but it happened. And he was big, 8 lbs, 15 oz. Will always remember the time and date without having to ask my wife. Derek Charles Woods came into the world at 3:28 PM on March 28 (3/28). Carried Carol's dad's name as his middle name. Deliverd at St. Joe's Hospital in Lancaster with Carol's dad waiting with me. Wasn't allowed in the delivery room back then so I had to wait in the waiting room. Then I saw them wheeling Carol and Derek down the hall. Carol was radiant and Derek was the neatest kid I had ever seen. For months he suffered with colic and I would walk him constantly around our dining room table to help ease his stomach pains. You could see the path on the carpet from the hundreds of trips around the table. He grew up on Janet Ave. He started in the "baby's room" and was moved to the 2nd bedroom when our daughter Brynn was born, and finally moved to the 3rd floor when his brother Tad was born. He and Tad eventually shared the large bedroom on the third floor. Since my passion is baseball, Derek had a ball in his hands when he was in his infant's seat. Could really throw, also. He threw everything when he was younger; balls, rocks, cherry bombs, eggs, get the idea. He always seemed to be in trouble because of one of his two best traits: his ability to throw things and his honesty. Always told the truth. When Derek was about 12 he came home with a brand new softball. "Where did you get that," Carol asked him. "Oh, Mr. Bianci our neighbor gave it to me. Told me to use this instead of throwing rocks over our roof," he replied. Seems some of the rocks may have found a home in his yard. Other stories will go untold! Derek loved vacations with the family. Yearly trips to the bay were some of his favorites. He had very good mechanical ability and was learning to enjoy photography. But, like me, his passion was baseball. We would spend endless hours in the back yard throwing the ball and perfecting his delivery. A "lefty" with sneaky speed. By the time he started Little League he was dominating on the pitching mound. By high school he was the pitcher the coach would put in when he needed a win. Still holds many of his high school records. Villanova University awarded him a full-paid scholarship to play Division I baseball. In his freshman year he came down with mono during Christmas break and spent a few days in the hospital, but still managed to have the 3rd best ERA in Division I when he returned. He did fall three innings short of the required minimum innings pitched to qualify for any award. In his sophomore year he led the Wildcats to the Big East Title, beating St. John's in the championship game. Arm injuries in his senior year cut his playing time and career short. He managed to get his degree in Psychology with a minor in criminal justice from Villanova in 1993. A proud moment for Derek and his family. The family was there to watch him receive his degree. He worked a variety of jobs after graduation and is currently a pressman in charge of running a web press for Donnelly Printing in Lancaster. In 2003 Derek met a girl by the name of Barbara who worked with him at Donnelly. Not long before they fell in love and were married. He found a real sweetheart in his new wife. Five years ago they had a son, my grandson, Caden C. Woods. He is the love of their life, as well as ours. They do everything with him just as Derek's family did everything with him when he was a child. And Derek still loves the times we get together now to travel to the Jersey shore for vacation. Must be hereditary. And .... we couldn't be more proud of him. Love U. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Pixs from the top are a young Derek at the beach, Derek with his brother Tad and sister Brynn at the shore, pitching for Villanova, in the center of the photo holding his diploma after graduation at Villanova, Derek with Barb and Caden and Uncle Derek being one of the kids during vacation at the Jersey shore.