Extraordinary Stories

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

The "Jerry and Me" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just got done with my weekly talk with my friend Jerry who lives in State College, PA. If you have been following my blog for some time, you probably know that Jerry and I have been life-time friends, growing up together in the same neighborhood, going to Elementary, Jr. High, and High School together, teaching together at our high school almamater, retiring from Manheim Township School District the same year, and spending the past 12 years traveling together. Jerry and I have so many things in common, but we are so different. Enjoy different hobbies, collect different things and luckily, have different wives. Jerry most times is somewhat serious in what he does in life, while I seem to be the opposite. Carol and I get together with Jerry and his wife Sue quite often and we have such a good time picking on each other and making fun of each other. Just the needling type of making fun. We all have a common interest in ...... THE BEACH. But, we do enjoy "other things". One of the "other things" we enjoy is visiting antique shops where we find many of the items that we or our parents threw out years ago. Some of the items I swear were actually mine. Well,sometimes I get carried away and make Jerry try on someunusual headwear. In a store in Havre de Grace, MD. a few years ago I found two blond wigs that had our names written all over them and I just had to have Jerry try one on with me so Sue could get our photo. On a trip to Hershey, PA I had him try on some fancy schmancy shiney hats. Another antique shop in St Michael's, MD yielded some old time top hats for us to try on. In Jamaica I made him try on a Bob Marleyheadpiece. This time we were by ourselves so I had to take a photo of him while he took one of me. I do believe one of my favorite shots though was of the four of us with our snorkeling costumes on. We actually did go snorkeling after taking the photo. Oh, the things you expect one of your best friends to do for you. And .... he does it! Called true friendship. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The "For the Beach Lover: Baie Orientale - Part II" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just made calls to the newspaper to cancel the paper, to Capital One to report dates when I'll be out of the country, and to the security company to tell them who will be house and cat sitting while we are away. Checking the camera equipment and laptop to make sure everything is in working order and all batteries are charged. Orient Beach in St. Martin is calling again! Yesterday I entered a story about the history of Orient Beach and today's story continues with the
beach in the 21st century. Orient Beach is located naturally on the shores of Orient Bay, on the French side of St. Martin. Known as the "Saint Tropez of St. Martin" and with good reason. The Bay actually consists of five main beaches, called the "5 stars of Orient Bay"; Kontiki, Kakao, Bikini Beach, Waikiki and Coco Beach, named after their respective beach bars and each next to another. Burgandy colored chairs from one beach bar line up with blue colored chairs from another beach bar and the chairs go on and on. Orient Bay has numerous restaurants and bars along the beach, a variety of water sport activities, boutiques and shops, as well asa hotel or two and resorts. At the northern end of the beach was the Mont Vernon Beach Resort which fell into disrepair a few years ago and is now being sold to individual buyers and turned into condo units. On the southern end of the beach is the world famous Club Orient, the island's only naturist resort located directly on a beach. Club Orient has 137 units, The Papagayo Restaurant, the Perch Bar, tennis courts and mini-market so you don't need to wear a stitch of clothing your entire vacation. A few short steps to the north of Club Orient is Pedro's as well as Andy and Cheryl's Baywatch Restaurant. Baywatch is our favorite beach eatery with "Mussels ala Andy" our choice for a meal. Andy even has one of our license plate hammered to one of the rafters of Baywatch. A few shops follow to the north with beachwear and souvenirs. Then comes Luis' custom made bathing suits. He does a fantastic business, measuring you one day and having your suit ready by the next day. The "5 stars of Orient Bay", follow. Kontiki, one of the stars, was voted in the Jan./Feb. issue of Caribbean Travel and Life Magazine as the second best restaurant in the Caribbean. Further down the beach is Palm Beach with their beach bar and restaurant followed by BooBoo Jams, a truly Caribbean themed beach bar. Small brightly colored huts sell clothing and trinkets and weekly music festivals are held at this island gathering place. Then comes the Mont Vernon. The major attraction of Orient Beach for Carol and me is the two mile long stretch of pure, soft white sand, cool to the touch. The the multi-colored turquoise and aqua colored water ranges from a pleasant 77 degrees in winter to 90 degrees in summer with about 60-100 feet visibility. A leisurely stroll the length of the beach reveals many sights and sounds. Orient is not only a clothing optional beach, but a place with non-stop action. Whether you're into para-sailing, snorkeling, jet-skiing, people watching or just laying under an umbrella on a lounge chair with a beer or a tropical drink and a good book, the "Saint Tropez of St. Martin" is waiting for you. Can hardly wait!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - pixs from the top are: map of Sint Maarten (Dutch) and St. Martin (French) showing an orange star where Orient Beach is located (French side of island), southern end of the beach featuring the naturist resort Club Orient, sign that separates Club Orient from the rest of Orient Beach, Andy and Cheryl's Baywatch beach restaurant, view looking north from Kakao beach, beach bar at Kon Tiki, and the beach bar and shops of BooBoo Jams. The final part of my story, Part III, takes place in real time. Just as soon as we get there!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The "For the Beach Lover: Baie Orientale - Part I" Story

It was an ordinary day. Thinking about our next trip to one of our favorite beaches in the coming months. Orient Beach, which is located on Orient Bay in French St. Martin, is located at 18 degrees 5' 14" N latitude by 63 degrees 1' 11'' W longitude. Orient Bay, or in French "Baie Orientale", sweeps around a blue cove, facing east, as the name suggests. The two mile long, white powdered sand beach is protected from the Atlantic waves by a reef, and the bottom has a very gradual slope. Located along the edge of the bay is Orient Beach which is the most developed, the most popular, the busiest beach on the island, and probably the most famous beach in the entire Caribbean. The beach is reputed as much for its natural beauty and setting as it is for being the island's foremost swimsuit optional beach. A major attraction of the bay and the beach is of course the nude beach and the world's famous Club Orient, the island's only naturist resort at the southern end of the beach. Orient Beach is a truly majestic setting with the mountains rising up all around. Lined with tiki huts, colorful beach chairs and restaurants, the sands of Orient are always full of action. Many refer to Orient Bay as the "Saint Tropez of the Caribbean." The first part of my story will deal with the beach as it developed into what it is today. Orient Bay, having a relatively deep entrance of fifty feet, and a protected anchorage easily reached by sailing ships in the prevailing winds, was a natural port for the shipping of the salt which was being produced on the island at the start of the last century. The major destination for the cargo of salt was Guadaloupe and Martinique. The Orient Salt Pond was fairly close to the bay and the salt produced there was first transported to the southern end of Orient Beach by bull carts, then by trucks, after the invention of the gasoline engine. The 50 lb. bags of salt were loaded into flat bottom dinghies and rowed to sloops anchored in the harbor. When a ship arrived in Orient Bay, a blast on it's horn was a signal to the French Quarter that workers were required for loading. They would walk from their homes to the salt pond looking for work. Today you can still see physical evidence of salt production in the old salt pond. Eventually the resource became too uneconomical to produce and the sands of Orient Beach, located next door, proved to be a magnet for a new resource, "beach lovers". Today, charter yachts now replicate the movements of the working schooners and sloops. Tourism began on Orient Beach in the early 70s when guests staying at the Le Galleon Hotel, located on Baie de l'Embouchure, around the corner from Orient Beach, would wander over to the nearly deserted beach for a nude swim. Their only company would have probably been a few local conch fishermen. This all changed in the late 70s when a Dutchman, Reint Brink, flew over St. Martin in a light airplane looking for a location to start a naturist resort. Seems he hit gold when he flew over the nearly deserted southern end of Orient Beach. Not only did he find the perfect location for his resort, but his future customers were already there, nude on the beach. He named his resort Club Orient. Club Orient opened for business in 1977. For those who can remember "skinny dippin" in their youth, you now have a perfect reason to head to Orient Beach. Here you're invited to rid yourself of those tell-tale tan lines. You can swim and sunbathe unencumbered, but remember to wear plenty of sunscreen. And ...... let me tell you ..... it's a real experience! The next part of my story deals with Orient Beach as it appears today. Check in tomorrow. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Top photo shows the deserted Orient Beach in the early 70s, second photo show the beach in June of '79, third photo is of the water sports shop in 2001, and the bottom photo is from the early 2000s showing the Mont Vernon Beach Resort in the background.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The "I Just Can't Do That Anymore!" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just finished working on the deck behind out house. Spent a few hours cutting all the grasses to the ground and using my push power mower to cut the ornamental grass so it will grow better in the spring. Also have a weeping miniature red maple tree that I trimmed back since it was getting too big for the space where we have it. After 3 hours of all the manual labor I was tired. My back started to hurt and my right hand was starting to swell. Wow, I just can't do that anymore! Age has set in. That would be old age, I guess! I still have the pond to clean out and hook up the pump so the one surviving goldfish can enjoy the waterfall again. Then I need to start on other parts of our property. The acre of grass and shrubs needs raked before the grass starts to grow. I was going to trim the arborvitaetrees to a more manageable height, since they took a beating this winter with the snow and ice, but decided against that and am getting quotes to have someone do that for me. I'm starting to gain more wisdom as I age. I don't need to move a ladder around and climb to the top and stretch to cut the tops off and shape them. Let someone else do the hard stuff and Ican do more of what I enjoy. I do need to finish staining the exterior of the house. My son Tad and I did two sides last year and I plan to finish the other two sides this summer. That is something I can do myself since it doesn't require a tremendous amount of lifting and bending. Also need to power wash the deck and fences around the deck, but again, this is something that doesn't require lifting or straining. And, it's fun to do! Spring is here and summer isn't far behind. Time for the outdoor chores. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The "Word Mat Video" Story

It was an ordinary day. At my part-time job at the frame shop in Neffsville, PA. Last night I got my new video camera charged and ready to go. The camera is a Kodak mini HD camcorder which Carol got me for Christmas. I plan to use it when I snorkel, since it is good up to 10 feet underwater. Should be fun to use. Thought I had to try a video to see how well I can use it so I took it to work with me today to make a video of how our mat cutter can make a word mat. Keith, the owner of Grebinger Gallery, and a former student of mine, helped make the video of the mat cutter, called "Mattie", cutting a word mat that could be used to put photos behind. My first experience with making a movie was maybe a "C+". We had to film it in segments and then I tried to edit the movie. I'm sure I'll get better as time goes on. I thought I would share the results of my very first movie with you. After seeing it, I'm sure you'll agree I better keep my part-time job at the Gallery. Can't wait to try the camera underwater on our next adventure in the Caribbean. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The "925 Memories" Story

It was an ordinary day. We've been in our new house for about a week. The year is 1969 and we had just moved to 925 Janet Ave. last weekend from our apartment at Manor House Apartments off the Millersville Pike. Really like Manor House. We had a second floor apartment that had a living room at the top of the steps that led into a small dining room. There were sliding glass doors at the back of the living room that opened onto a balcony that over looked the complex's swimming pool. Pretty neat, and the place was brand new. No one had lived in our apartment before we did. I enjoyed sitting on the balcony and reading the paper and watching the activity in the pool area. off the dining room was a small kitchen. Really small! At the other end of the living room there was a hall that led to the two bedrooms and the bathroom. Just enough space for a newly-wed couple with next to nothing to furnish it with. We did have a modern design sofa that felt like fur and a round black fur chair with a matching hassock. I had made the coffee and end tables at the shop in Eastern York High School in Wrightsville, PA where I taught wood shop. It was my first in teaching. We had a very modern light that stood about 6 feet tall and had 8 100 watt bulbs in it. Really lit up the room. In the basement of the apartment unit was a washer and dryer as well as storage for all the units. Kept my nearly brand new Lawn Boy in it, waiting for the chance touse it on my own lawn someday. About a year after we moved into our apartment, we were visiting with my parents at 944 Janet Ave. and they told us about this semi-detached house at the other end of the block that was going to be up for sale. We took a walk up the street and saw the Tudor style three story brick place. Had a garage in the back that opened onto a common alleyway. Would make a great "Starter" home we thought. We inquired about the place with the owners and got to look through the house. They knew we were interested and decided to wait until we gave them our decision before they put it up for sale. My dad had his lawyer, Mr. Fred C., Esquire, look into the place and he reported to us that it would make a great investment for us if we would decide to buy the house. Hey, we would be closeto both my parents and Carol's parents who live a block and a half in the other direction. We agreed on a price of $15,200.00 and bought the house. We were moving from a place that was a little over a year old to a home that was a little over 50 years old. The kitchen had a white enameled sink with washboard that was open underneath that you could see the plumbing and the radiator. Had an old electric range and fridge that were left behind. The bathroom had 1" square tiles on the floor with a pedestal sink with with white enameled fixtures. The plaster ceilings in most of the rooms were cracked. The hardwood floor was stained very dark and was dirty. The basement had a heating system that looked like it came with the house, but we knew it didn't since it was an oil unit. But, it was ours! And, the first few nights we both would lay in bed thinking we had made a terrible mistake by leaving our new apartment and buying this old, old house. How could we let anyone talk us intothis ugly, ugly mess! A lot of tears were shed the first weekat 925 Janet. Eventually we redid the kitchen, cleaned the floors, painted the walls, fixed the ceilings, put storm windows everywhere and put in a new heating unit. The one really neat feature that that we had to nothing with was the laundry shoot that ran directly into the basement from the second floor hallway with an access door in the kitchen. What was supposed to be a "Starter" home ended up being our residence for 29 years. We brought three children home from the hospital to be raised at 925 Janet. We had countless pets that lived with us at 925 Janet. We had a great mailman, Gary at 925 Janet. We laughed a lot at 925 Janet. We had neighbors to our rear, sides and across the street who became good friends. Our oldest son had a best friend who lived next door to my parents. Our daughters best friends lived right down the back alley and our youngest son's best friend played Star Wars with him in the back alley. I eventually did the 3rd floor over as a bedroom and bath for the boys, redid the kitchen two times, made a TV room in the basement and fenced in the back yard to avoid the shock of seeing our next door neighbor's yard all the time. Must have painted the house at least 10 times and opened the sewer line from the basement to the otherside of Janet once or more a year. Oh, the memories! We still drive past the old "Starter" from time to time and say, "Remember when we ..........." Our "Beach House" is our home now, and I wouldn't trade it for anything (maybe a house in the Caribbean), but we still have fond memories of our house at 925 Janet. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos from the top are: exterior of 925 Janet Ave showing our half of the semi-detached house with screened-in porch, living room fireplace with tile in front and hardwood floors, old kitchen as it was when we moved in, and our first remodel that we did the first year in the home.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The "Budget Plan" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just got off the phone with PP&L. Really made me mad when they changed their name to PPL when PP&L worked just fine for me. What's wrong with the "and"; did the & sign on their computers stop functioning? Well, the reason I called PP&L was to inquire about how they can screw up their billing when I'm on their budget plan. They called and asked if I would like to be on the budget plan to help with paying in the winter months when my heat pump would run all the time and my electricity usage was very high. Sounded good so I agreed to the budget plan. They said they would look at my last 2 years of bills and average them all together and that would be my monthly charge. If I had overpaid or not paid enough at the end of the billing year, they would refund or charge me the difference. "When can I start?" I asked. They told me with the next billing cycle. So after the next bill came, I thought the $78 would be the amount that I would pay every month for the next year. Isn't that how a budget plan works? Not so! The next month I got the bill and it was $46.11 more than the previous month. Called them to question what was going on. They told me that I really needed to pay them more than the $124.11, but since I was on the budget plan, that would be the charge. "How did you come up with that number?" I asked. They told me they have a formula they use to determine the amount. "Can you share that with me so I can get an idea how your budget plan works?" No they couldn't! "So every month my bill will be different, much like it was before I went on the budget plan?" I said. "That's correct, and it's based on the amount of electricity you use," they replied. "Well, how about with the next billing cycle, you take me off the budget plan and I'll pay the exact amount for the electricity I use." "Are you sure you want to do that since you just started it?" they said. "Then I won't be surprised by some number from your formula," was my response. They couldn't understand why I didn't understand how I was being billed. "Well, since you can't tell me your formula, I want off the budget plan." And the next month I paid exactly what I should have, as I did for the previous 20 some years. No surprises!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - As I was doing my spellcheck on my entry, the only word that showed up as being misspelled was PPL. How about that PP&L.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The "LDub Through the Ages" Story

It was an ordinary day. Searching through the old photo albums for a photo of my Nannan's house on Pine Street in Lancaster. Then, I came upon an envelope that was in with my mom's documents that I keep in a filing cabinet in my office. Wow, neat stuff! Old photos of the family. Photos of LDub when he was an infant. And more photos of him as he was growing up. These are photos of me if you haven't figured that out yet. Dare I share them with you? Hey, you know my history by now so why not. Just a few though, since too many would have to be dreadfully boring. Don't want to stop you from coming back for more stories. Here they are with a little bit of info on each one; a history lesson of sorts:

Photo of my Grandpap and me in 1944 at his home at 617 S. Prince St. Mom and I lived there for a few years while dad finished his Army time.

Photo taken in 1945 in the back yard at 617 S. Prince St. My Aunt Lois, my mom's sister (yes, she was a surprise), is on the right, in the playpen with me.

Photo of my Nannan, Grace Woods, and me on the couch of her living room at 145 N. Pine St. Photo of my dad, her son, and my mom is on the piano behind her. Date on the rear of the photo is 1945.

Photo taken at Watt and Shand Department Store, downtown Lancaster. Dated on the rear 1946.

Taken in the rear of 145 N. Pine St. I was 2 years and three months old. Bet the weather was 70 degrees, since my mom dressed me like this year round.

This is when I was still living at my Nannan's house on Pine Street. I was between 2 and 3 years of age. My dad was shoveling snow from the walk. Circa 1947.

My mom encouraging me to get into the pool at the rear of 145 N. Pine Street!

Another pool shot. This time at the local YWCA where my mom took me for lessons. I look like a child from a third world country! And .... the hat!!

Standing on the steps at 145 N. Pine. Check out the short pants and the black socks. And, how about the nice hat!

Standing in the corner of the yard at 145 N. Pine St. Looks like my Sunday Best! Hope so, since it looks like I have no pants on! My mom loved those fancy hats though.

Pix of me at the beach in Atlantic City, NJ. I the girl holding hands with me is Bonnie P., the daughter of my mom's friend Dot. My mom is on the left in the semi-bikini!

One of my first Christmas mornings at 929 N. Queen St. Have those shorts on that have suspenders to hold them up.

Pretty neat with my bow tie! Anyone dress their kids like this today?

Five years old at the time. People loved to dress their kids in black socks and black shoes.

I was in MJ Brecht Elementary School when this photo was taken
As you can see, I was a shy boy. Not many exciting memories from my childhood to share. My teenage years weren't much better as far as shyness goes, but I have more memories from those years since I have more photos to examine and remember the good times. I was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The "Ripple Effect - See the Return" Story

It was an ordinary day. Day after the big "Phonathon" at the PRC. The PRC is the Parish Resource Center in Lancaster, PA where my wife Carol works. Every year during March, the PRC conducts its annual "Phonathon", giving supporters the chance to help make a difference in area churches. The theme for giving this year is "The Ripple Effect - See The Return." The following is from their website: Throughout the years, The Parish Resource Center has been blessed by the generosity of many individuals, businesses, foundations, and organizations. We are humbled and grateful for the various ways our good friends have honored the work we do by contributing financial support. If you received a letter asking you to participate in our "Phonathon", please consider supporting us in building strong congregations, which in turn, will enhance our community’s quality of life.Well, those people that received a letter a few weeks ago, and didn't return an envelope with a pledge, are getting a call to make sure they got the mailing. My wife has been busy for weeks, no, make that months, preparing for this annual event. The "Phonathon" lasts two evenings, with volunteers making the calls to people who have used the center or have given in the past to the center. Hundreds of calls have to be made. Dave L., the President of the PRC,which is located on Community Way, addressed the volunteers about the theme and their mission and goal for the evening and then led them in prayer. Hey, they need all the prayers they can get, since it is a tough job asking people for money in a depressed economy. The goal for the "Phonathon" this year was set at $13,000. The volunteers are usually Board Members of the PRC or friends and employees of the center. Carol asked me if I wanted to help again this year,and I became a volunteer. I made calls for a few years, but I'm not one who's good at asking people for money, so this year I was chief photographer and in charge of making sure that the buffet table was filled with goodies. That is certainly something I can handle. The second evening I did pitch in and address envelopes and put postage on the envelopes. Well, tonight I am sitting at home, helping Carol put the finishing touches on the letters that are to be mailed to the people that weren't home during the "Phonathon" or who have Caller ID on their phone and chose not to answer the phone. We always plan our vacations around the "Phonathon", since it is one of the biggest income producing events of the year for the PRC and Carol is a needed part of the event. The goals they set are realistic goals and are usually met or almost met. The letters we are finishing will be a big part of the final amount. Visit the PRC's website or maybe you are interested in their free Church Building Expo on April 9, 2011 at Hempfield UMC, 3050 Marietta Ave., Lancaster. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Photos from the top are: preparing for the "Phonathon" 2011, Parish Resource Center at 633 Community Way, poster of the theme for the 2011 "Phonathon", Betty F. who is a resource worker at the PRC making calls, my wife Carol and her boss Dave L., and LDub stuffing envelopes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The "Manheim Township Class of 1962" Story

It was an ordinary day. Had a meeting last night at Marilyn's house. Marilyn G. was one of my classmates when I graduated from high school. Dated her one time. Must not have made a very good impression, since it was once and done. Visiting tonight because it's time again for our class reunion, and I'm on the reunion committee. In attendance tonight were: Carole E. who still works for the city of Lancaster and at one time worked with my mom, Dottie L. who ran a printing company with her husband for years and had me do most of their type composition, John H. who was a member of the Lancaster County Corvette Club with me, Rick A. who sings in the Barbershoppers and was a member with my dad for years, and Susan T. who I hadn't seen for a few years since we had both attended a meal at my neighbor's house with our spouses. Our last reunion was in 2007 and it was our 45th. The big 50 is next in 2012. Now, I know this makes me sound really old, but remember that I started elementary school at age 4 and graduated from high school when I was 11 years old. My classmates are all quite a bit older than me. But, funny how they don't look it. We all look pretty good. I did forget and leave my glasses in the car though. Since it is going to be our 50th class reunion, we are hoping fora big turnout. We had about 120 for our 45th so we're hoping for at least that many again. In '07 we held our reunion at the Bent Creek Country Club. Had a good time, but the cost was steep for some class members, so this time we're having it at a Manheim Township facility; The Barn at Overlook. The Barn at Overlook is a restored, 250 year-old barn with beautiful hardwood floors, columns and beams and a 35 foot ceiling. Renovated to boast a banquet room that can accommodate 160 guests. Marilyn has been our organizer for yearsand we all voted to head to the barn when she suggested it. Our next order of business is to select a date. We suggested several dates to Marilyn for early in the school year of 2012. She called today and found that our two choices were both filled already. FOR OVER A YEAR FROM NOW! Popular place!! She quickly emailed all of us and an alternate date we quickly suggested was also taken. Finally, we were able to get Saturday, September 8, 2012 for our reunion. My job now is to find out if there will be a home high school football game or a home professional baseball game in Lancaster the night before our meal in case classmates would like to attend another function together. On Saturday morning I will try to lead a group of interested classmates through the new Manheim Township High School. I figured I should be able to do it, since I still work in the building doing the in-school printing. The majority of the building we graduated from in 1962 was torn down two years ago, so the school will not bring back memories like it used to as we travel through it. Still will be fun since the gym, pool and auditorium are still the same. Our next reunion committee meeting will be at the end of the summer. Time will past quickly, always does as we age. Haven't seen some of my classmates since we graduated. Will be fun, as usual. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos are: cover of our Manheim Township High School yearbook in 1962, the Barn at Overlook where we will hold our reunion, and LDub as a high school senior and now, as the author of Extraordinary Stories From An ordinary Guy!