Extraordinary Stories

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The "Doc, Heal Thyself!" Story

It was an ordinary day. Sitting in Miracle Ear getting my hearing aides adjusted. A few months ago I started getting really bad headaches on the left side of my head. Almost mad me sick in the stomach. Only way to get rid of the headaches was to fall asleep. When I would wake up, they would be gone. One weekend we traveled to State College, Pennsylvania to visit with our traveling friends Jerry and Just Sue. I had my hearing aides in my ears as I usually did and after about an hour I had such a bad headache that I had to pull the car over and have Carol drive. Took a Tylenol and closed my eyes. Must have dozed for 10 to 15 minutes and when I woke up I was fine. On the return trip I had no problems, but when I reached home it hit me. Same spot above my left ear and radiating out from there. Another pill and a nap. Half an hour later I was fine. Went to the doctor shortly after those episodes to see what he said it might be. "New glasses?" he asked. Nope. Then I asked if my hearing aides may have any thing to do with the headaches. He told me he doubted it, but you do have many many nerve endings on the side of your head, around your ear. So I jumped to my own conclusions and stopped wearing the hearing aides. After a few months being pain free, but getting tired of hearing everyone complain that I wasn't paying attention to what they said, I decided to call Patrick at Miracle Ear, where I bought the aides, and ask him. He set up an appointment for today and we talked. He had others that experienced the same thing, but it was never proven that it was the hearing aides that were to blame. He did make the air opening in the aides bigger to help relieve pressure in my ear and reduced the volume in each aide. Then he told me he was going to remove some of the mold so it wouldn't be as tight in my left ear. I took off my glasses to relax and he left the room with the aide. About five minutes passed and he came back with the aide and had me try it in my ear. Better, but still a little tight. As he was leaving the room to take more off the aide, he grabbed my glasses that were on his work table and walked next door where he was working on the hearing aide. About 30 seconds later I heard him call loudly for his assistant, Maureen. I heard some commotion and then a few laughs and then "LDub, you're not going to believe this," he said. OK, what! maybe something radically wrong with the aide that would give me the headaches. Nope, when he went back to work on the aide he put on MY glasses thinking they were his, which by the way looked exactly like his, and when he looked at the aide everything was blurry. He looked around the room and everything was blurry. That's when he called for Maureen. He thought he was having a stroke!! She said she walked in and he was white, probably from fright. I need my glasses for long distance while all he had were powerful reading glasses. At least he was able to solve his problem. Now we'll see if he solved mine. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The "Big Shake" Story

It was an ordinary day. Sitting in front of my computer, reading other blogs and searching the travel forums to see what is going on in the Caribbean. Reading again the posts about the earthquake that just took place yesterday on the island of St. Martin. Then, as I was just about finished with the article, my computer moved slightly on my desk. Then the calendar on the bulletin board above my computer started to sway. And, the chair that I'm sitting in, that has rollers on it, started to move across the plastic carpet protector I have it on. With me in it! Right away I knew I was doing more than reading about an earthquake. I WAS EXPERIENCING ONE! Hopped out of the chair, ran to the family room, scooped up up the cat, and headed out the back door. After leaving the house I hurried to the end of my driveway. I could still feel some slight movement. I looked up and down the street. No one in sight. Aren't you supposed to get out of buildings when an earthquake strikes, I thought to myself. Where was everyone else? The building across from my drive is a dentist's office and there are maybe 20 cars in the parking lot, but not a single person standing outside. Did I really feel something, or was I imagining it after reading so much about the one on my computer screen. Went back in the house and called my wife; she felt it at the PRC where she works. Just then I heard a strange noise in the living room. It was our old mantle clock that had a quarter-hour chime to it. I had stopped the pendulum years ago, since it woke Carol in the middle of the night most nights. It was chiming on the half-hour. The quake was strong enough to shake the clock and start the pendulum again after all that time. That's when I turned on the weather channel and saw the "Breaking News" across the screen. The 6.9 magnitude quake was centered northwest of Richmond, VA. Shook Washington DC and was felt in quite a few states. Luckily, no major damage in my area, but some occurred in the DC area as well as in Virginia. Jumped back in front of my computer and added a thread on a travel forum about the earthquake, and within 10 minutes it had over 30 comments about others feeling the same thing I did. One person from Canada replied he felt the ground shake. Been a busy couple of days for the Weather Channel with the hurricane approaching the US and now with the earthquake. And, instead of reading about it, I am typing my own experiences about MY earthquake. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The "Good Luck Omen" Story

It was an ordinary day. Watching the Phils beat the Diamondbacks while I'm doing my exercises on my wife's AeroPilates machine in the basement. The 13" screen makes everyone look about 1" tall. But the players still perform the same. They showed the new Harry Kalas statue in the outfield area that had just been unveiled the night before. Harry was the Phils longtime broadcaster who made the saying "It's Outta Here" famous. The statue is a very good likeness of Harry and was crafted by a former Philadelphia native living in Florida. I can still here him make the final call of the 2008 World Series when the Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays in the 5th game to become World Champions of baseball. The Phils had beaten Milwaukee and Los Angeles to make it to the World Series that year. The only problem I have with this story so far is that I was in Barbados during the whole World Series. We arrived back in the states to here parts of the fifth game, which had been suspended from the night before because of bad weather. Watched a few innings in Miami airport before we boarded the plane for Philadelphia. Lucky that the pilot was from Phila. and passed on a play by play account of the game from his pilot's seat in the plane over the intercom. Boy, the energy of the passenger's was enough to get us back to Phila. that night. And the cheer that went up when he announced the result was fantastic. So, I didn't get to here Harry's final call until later that evening. Now, the reason for my story. My wife, Carol, and I, along with our traveling friends Jerry and Just Sue will be heading back to Barbados for a visit again this year during the time the World Series will be held. I fear I will miss my Phils playing in the Series one more time, but if I do, it will be the reason they win. I need to take trips in order for them to play and win the World Series. If this is truly the case, a letter to the owner of the Phils should guarantee me passage to Barbados for the rest of my life during the World Series. GO PHILS!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - pix show Phils Logos as well as a photo of LDub in the Philadelphia airport after landing and heading through the airport after the Phillies had won the 2008 World Series. Check out Harry's call of the final out!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The "Scarab" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just returned from a boat ride on the Chesapeake. Every year we were invited to spend a week at my Aunt Doris' summer house along the Elk River in Maryland. My aunt married late and gained a family when she did marry. I instantly got an uncle as well as three cousins. Two of my new cousins were older than me, while Robert was younger. Robert loved the water and was great at water-skiing. He even went to Florida to a school that taught slalom water-skiing. He would take us for rides on the river and the Chesapeake Bay when we would visit. Great fun. Then my aunt and uncle sold the home and purchased a newer one which was right on the C & D Canal. Another fun vacation followed at the new house. Actually we made vacation visits for quite a few years. Then my uncle passed, but aunt Doris would still have us visit for a week in the summer. By now I was married and had children of my own. Another cousin, Judy, and her family often spent the same week at the new place. Her mom, my Aunt Lillian, as well as my parents would also spend the week. Had so much fun! Like a family reunion every summer for an entire week. Robert by now had purchased a beautiful boat. A "Scarab" which had twin V-8 engines in it. It was the style and size of boat that drug runners would use, since it could outrun almost any other boat. Robert decided he would load most of us in the boat for a ride up and down the canal. Must have been about 7 or 8 of us in the speedy boat as we headed toward Chesapeake City on the canal. The breeze cooled us on the hot day as we sped along at an extremely fast pace. After a stop for gas (boy, did it eat gas), we started back to the house. Along the Chesapeake City borders of the canal you could only go 15 MPH. Robert drove while my dad sat in the seat next to him. Carol, Judy and I sat in the rear, on either side of the large padded cushion that covered the twin motors. Brynn, our daughter, and Nicky, cousin Judy's daughter, sat on the padded cushion. Now, I should tell you that Robert was kind of a show-off. He liked to impress people. As we passed the 15 MPH sign, he pushed the speed control quickly forward, to gain speed. And, boy did the twin motors pick up speed. The girls sitting on the padded cushion immediately started to slide back toward the rear of the boat. Since we were sitting in the seats on either side of the cushion, we were able to grab the girls before they flew into the water. We certainly weren't impressed with Robert's display of poor judgment. And he knew it!! It was our last ride in his "Scarab." It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The "Mingling with the Hillbillies" Story

It was an ordinary day. Spending the evening with the hillbillies of Philipsburg, Pennsylvania. Philipsburg is about a half hour from State College by way of great new concrete highways that carry very few people through the rolling hills of North-central PA. Visiting with Jerry and Just Sue for the weekend so we could go hear one of our favorite oldies bands, "The Fabulous Flashbacks". Used to hear them play at the annual spring art show in State College and even got to hear them play one time at the Mt. Hope Winery near Lancaster. Sue called about two months ago and told us about the show near their place, so we marked it on the calendar. The band drew huge crowds at the art show as well as the winery so we didn't know what to expect. They are playing at The Wagon Wheel Music Park on Sleepy Hollow Road right outside of Philipsburg. Nice warm day with temperatures in the low 80s so we should have a great time. Got there early for the car show they traditionally have with the concert and when we arrived we were the second car in the lot. Uh Oh! We decided to drive around the hills and explore and come back in an hour or so. When we arrived back there were ........ maybe 30 cars in the lot, and the show was due to start in 10 minutes. Where are the big crowds we expected? We grabbed our chairs and headed to the bandstand. The "Florence Jean Stage" might have been 30 feet across, and "The Fabulous Flashbacks" were tuning their instruments and checking the sound system. We put our chairs right in front of the stage, second row. And ..... we were in the back row. Wow, almost as many cars in the car show as people watching the concert. Looks like the car show was the main event. After visiting and voting for our favorite cars we took our seats. Kind of felt a little out of place. Jerry and I were two of a few males who had shorts on. Most had on jeans and quite a few sported long sleeve shirts and leather jackets. And everyone seemed to know each other. Almost like a family reunion! I suspect this traditional weekly event in the backwoods of PA is their weekly entertainment. As the band started, so did the dancing. One guy, his age undeterminable, was dancing with his girl on the blacktop dance floor in front of the the stage. He had a long-sleeved leather jacket with some logos on the back, leather brimmed hat, heavy-duty chain attached to his belt and connected to his wallet, knife in a sheath on his belt next to his cellphone, pointed black cowboy boots and black nail polish. Sounds like a description from a J. Peterman catalogue, doesn't it. Boy, was he enjoying himself, though. And, so was I, sitting in my lawn chair. The band had lost some of it's luster from when we had heard they a few year's before. The "Fabulous Flashbacks" are from Altoona and are in their 21st year. We heard them when they had two fantastic vocalists. One male could sing the old Frankie Valli songs with his high voice while the female had a deep throaty voice that captured many of the girlie tunes of the 50s and 60s that I remember. We recognized the keyboard player, drummer, and bass guitarist from the group we had seen previously. Still enjoyed reliving our past with their performance. Then, as the sun went down, the night air got a very brisk chill to it. Rather cool. No, make that cold. And here I am with my shorts and short-sleeve shirt. So that's why most are wearing long sleeves and jeans, and many have sweaters, jackets and blankets. During the band's break they held a 50/50 drawing and had a hula-hoop contest. After the break, we talked it over, and decided to head home. But, the experience, in the deep back woods of Centre County, PA was enjoyable and truly Americana. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos from the top are: 1955 Ford which was the same color as my second car, being shown off by LDub and his wife, car show at the park, current members of "The Fabulous Flashbacks", Florence Jean Stage at the Wagon Wheel Music Park, and the performance of "The Fabulous Flashbacks" PPS - Thanks for the pixs, Sue

Friday, August 26, 2011

The "See What You Did!" Story

It was an ordinary day. My wife was saying to me, "See what you did! You scheduled a fall vacation to our favorite destination and what happens, they have a hurricane AND an earthquake a week before we are leaving!" What can I say. We have never traveled to St. Martin in September before this year. And the reason is ....... IT'S HURRICANE SEASON! But no one told me it was earthquake season, also. On Monday of this week I was reading TravelTalkOnline (TTOL), a web forum from the Caribbean, and BillandElaine started a thread titled "Earthquake". Got my attention immediately. They reported: Building took a good shake. Bill and Elaine live on St. Martin. They were US citizens who move a few years ago to St. Martin. Bill teaches science at the local University. Before I had a chance to click on the link, a few more people added comments. Takeus2sxm said: I felt it too, about 3 seconds. Barbara said: I think the whole island felt that one. It was heavy but short. Mother Nature is messin' with us! Then Bill, the scientist, posted more:

F-E Region:Leeward Islands
Time:2011-08-22 17:18:09.2 UTC
Magnitude:4.7
Epicenter:63.05°W 17.81°N
Depth:93 km

Then nutmeg added: I felt it here on St Thomas, but just barely. And on and on it went. Seems the epicenter was in the ocean between St. Martin and St. Bart. This happened a day after tropical storm Irene passed by the island. Luckily Irene was just forming and was a
tropical storm and not a hurricane as it passed by the island. I don't know if I jinxed the island by making plans for a week there soon, or if it was meant to be. Anyway, I called and added trip cancelation insurance to my already purchased medical evac. insurance. Might as well be covered in case we have to cancel the week. Most of the Caribbean islands are used to the weather they are burdened with during
the fall. They have good preparation and know how to handle an emergency. Much like the the northern states know how to handle a major snowstorm much better that states in the center and south of the US. I'm not sure I care to find out how prepared they are, but it certainly would be a unique experience. Hope I don't have to write about it, though. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.




Thursday, August 25, 2011

The "Cousin Judy" Story

It was an ordinary day. Carol and I are enjoying supper with my cousin Judy, husband Buzz and friend Sharon. Sharon was a neighbor of ours when we lived in Grandview Heights for 29 years, while Sharon was also a classmate of my cousin Judy in high school. Invited them over for a picnic supper on our back deck. I have 10 cousins, but only correspond with one of them Sue, on a regular basis. My cousin Judy is closest in age to me, but I haven't seen her for the better part of four years. Why? I have no excuses. We both lead busy lives and only ever got together for picnics and family gatherings. The last family gathering we saw each other was when my father died over 4 years ago. Judy's one daughter works at a dentist's office across the street from our house and I wave to her and occasionally stop in to see her, but never talk to her mother. Well, about three weeks ago I told Carol I was going to call Judy and invite her and Buzz for supper. About time one of us makes the call, and since I am the oldest, it should be me. Sounded the same on the phone and I guess I did also, since she recognized my voice immediately. After talking for a short time about the last 4 years, she accepted our invitation for supper. Judy is my father's sister's daughter. Aunt Lillian died a few years before my father and dad's other sister, Aunt Doris, died a few years before that. They both were older than my dad. Judy was born to Aunt Lillian and her first husband while Judy's brother, and another cousin of mine, George, was born to Aunt Lillian's second husband. I think! Aunt Lillian and her second husband, uncle Bud, lived along the Conestoga Creek with Judy and George. I have many fond memories of going on vacation with Judy and her family, minus Uncle Bud. He always had to work for some strange reason. We would visit Crystal Beach along the Chesapeake Bay and have the best times. Spent some time reminiscing about our time at the beach and some of the rides and games we played in the small arcade that was located by the beach. Then, after my Aunt Doris, my dad's other sister, married into a family that had a cottage on the Elk River, we switched to this location for our family summer vacations. More fond memories. And finally, after my Aunt Doris sold the cottage and bought a larger house along the C&D canal, we move the vacations one more time. Eventually we both married, but continued our vacations with our own children at the house along the canal. Wow, the evening was full of memories that I have documented in past stories. But finally I got to reminisce with my cousin Judy in person. The evening was fun and we said we will have to do it again soon. Hope soon doesn't mean another 4 years. We'll see. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photo at top shows Judy and me digging in the garden, riding on my tricycle, and recently on the deck behind my house.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The "What you need is a good slap on the back" Story

It was an ordinary day. Swimming in the murky water of the Chesapeake and playing in the sand with my brother Steve, Aunt Lois (only a year older than me), and cousins Judy and George. We are all within maybe 6 years of each other and have a great time together. We have vacationed every summer for the past few years at Crystal Beach along the Chesapeake Bay. Great place for young kids to have a good time. About an hour and a half from our home in Lancaster. The sand is yellow in color and at times very hot. You can see maybe three inches deep in the water before the it clouds over. Doesn't matter what the sand color or the water clarity is, it's summer vacation and time for fun. We have rented a house with maybe three bedrooms in it and an attached porch on the front of the house. Sleeping quarters are tight for the 9 of us. The adults usually get the bedrooms while the kids get the porch and pull-out sleeper in the living room. No TV most of the years and in one of the places we stayed we had no toilet facilities. Traveled to the rear of the backyard to use the outdoor toilet. One place we stayed had no fridge and we had to have ice delivered daily for the icebox. The kids never minded it, since we didn't know any better. I suspect my parents and my grandmother had been used to the same conditions for years before. My mom and dad, aunt Lillian (Judy and George's mom), and Nannan (my grandmother) were the usual adults that took us to the bay. My story is not so much about our experiences at the water's edge or the house as it is about a trip we took one rainy afternoon. Adults couldn't take the noise by lunch one day when it poured most of the morning. Decided to take us into Cecilton, the nearby town, and go to the movies. Can't remember what was playing and it really doesn't matter. The theatre was crowded that day, being it was a matinee and a rainy day. I sat with Nannan along one side of the theatre. She had purchased lifesavers for me as a treat. Part way through the movie I popped one in my mouth and started sucking on it. Then, for some reason, I swallowed it. Got stuck in my throat and I coughed a few times. Nannan saw what was happening and started slapping me on the back. HARD! After what seemed like forever, the lifesaver went flying out my mouth, across the aisle. Wow, was I scared. To this day I can picture the inside of the theatre and the seats we sat in. Still remember the slapping on the back and the feeling I got when the lifesaver became dislodged. Nannan was the real life saver that day! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The "Toe-Tappin' Hand Clappin' Good Time" Story

It was an ordinary day. Spending time at the Mt. Gretna Cicada Festival. This is the time of the year when the cicadas arrive and make all kind of noises. You knew that, didn't you? A cicada is almost the same thing as a locust. Shed their shells on almost anything and who know what happens to them. They are supposed to arrive every 7 years, but at Mt. Gretna, they arrive every year, allegedly. Well, the festival is a series of films, readings and concerts that are held in the first two weeks of August, when the cicadas arrive. For the past few years we have traveled the 20 minutes North to hear "Phil Dirt and the Dozers". Great R&R Band that has a fabulous keyboard/sax/clarinet/vocals member who is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Once you hear him, you know why! This year we were not able to get tickets. "Sold Out" the first day they went on sale. Too many people have found out about them. Looked over the remaining concerts and chose a group called "The Bronx Wanderers". Write-up on the Gretna website says this about them: Being a teenager on an avenue in the Bronx back in the 50’s and early 60’s was unlike being a kid anywhere else in the universe. There was a magic in the air that blended right in with the sweet aroma of Mama’s cooking. It was the liberating sound of doo-wop and rock and roll. This music had heart, soul, purity and a sound... oh the sound...tunes that made you want to dance...harmonies that made you high...lyrics that once in a while, even made you cry. Well let me tell you .... it did all of the above for me. They were fabulous. The band specialized in music of Dion as well as The Four Seasons. Vinnie, the leader of the group (sounds like someone from the Bronx, doesn't it?) was a neighbor of Dion's from Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Vinnie Adinolfi was born to be a musician. He worked as a performer, mostly as a backup to many different groups, and a record executive with Lifesong. When he retired 10 years ago he decided to live his dream as a band singer so recruited a combo that included his sons Vinnie III (keyboard and guitar) and Nick (drums). Think they are Italian? Also included James Fracasse from the Bronx on lead guitar and John Tutino of Florida (grew up with Vinnie in the Bronx) on sax. Vinnie III was 14 and Nick was 11 at the time. And, as Vinnie says, "It worked!" They played their first gig under the name "The Wanderers" and got 10 letters threatening to sue them. So, Vinnie called the group "The Bronx Wanderers". Let me tell you, they had some of the best harmony I've ever heard. And, charisma. Vinnie's story telling had the audience laughing most of the night. The kids are 24 and 21 now and are seasoned performers. Vinnie III just graduated from college and is one handsome guy. The energy, both in the band and in the audience, was electrifying. People dancing in the rear of the theatre. Never saw that before at Mt. Gretna. Most of the people in the audience, and I mean most, were toe-tapping, hand-clapping and singing along with the performers. The night passed fast. As they were just about to end the show, Vinnie asked about the group that has been invited back many times to Mt. Gretna (Phil Dirt and the Dozers). "I'm sure you have them back every year ..... but that's because you never heard us before. Hope to see you next year!" And with that they played Neil Diamond's song, "Coming to America." It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - pixs show tickets, the Mt. Gretna Playhouse and The Bronx Wanderers: clockwise from the top are Vinnie, James, Nick, John and Vinnie III. Check out the great YouTube clip I found of them before they added the sax player.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The "Journey To The Center Of The Earth" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just spent an hour riding in a twelve to fifteen foot flat bottom boat with about 20 other people through America's only all water cavern which was formed in limestone by rivers millions of centuries ago. I feel like I'm in the center of the earth! Penn's Cave, near Centre Hall, PA, was discovered by the Seneca Indians centuries ago. The legend goes that the Indian maiden, Nitanee, from whom the famous Penn State Nittany Lion is named, and her French trapper lover, Malachi Boyer were unable to marry because of Indian custom so they ran away together, but were later captured and Malachi was thrown into Penn's Cave to die. Didn't see him during our trip today. In 1885 the cavern was opened to the public and today is on the National Register of Historic places. Our tour guide today was Paul who recently graduated from Penn State with an electrical engineering degree. His hobby is spelunking and after graduation he took a job giving tours of Penn's Cave. Great guy with a fantastic sense of humor. The mile long trip through the year-round 52 degree cavern showed the many rooms of the cave and was both interesting and amazing. Lights illuminated many of the stalactites (from the ceiling of the cave) and stalagmites (from the floor of the cave) that looked like familiar forms. Paul had names for most of the formations, and I must admit I thought he was making them up until I saw a brochure that had the same names. Water dripped on us for most of the trip from the ceiling of the cave and it was the dripping water that formed the amazing scenes that we saw throughout the tour. We exited at the other end of the cave into the man-made lake Nitanee, and returned through the cave to the cavern entrance dock which was made by forming 48 steep steps from the water filled cave below to the visitor's center above. As I made my journey today I couldn't help but wonder, what if there was an earthquake at this very minute and I was under tons and tons of limestone. But, I'm typing right now, so I did survive for yet another story! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos from the top are: entrance into Penn's Cave down 48 steps, boat about to enter into the cave, next two pixs show the interior of the cave, and exit from the cave after a journey of one mile. The YouTube video will take you on a tour similar to the tour I had.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The "Peeping Gangster Car" Story

It was an ordinary day. Reading the editorial page of the local newspaper and came across an article by Andy Rooney. Always enjoyed Andy when he gave commentaries on "60 Minutes." Read the article and realized it had nothing to do with any thing current. Then at the end of the article I realized that he had written it almost 20 years ago. Article was about the cars of yesteryear. He starts by saying that the auto industry always makes changes in its new models, but you don't realize the difference until about 10 years later. Says that the tail fins of the 60s didn't disappear overnight. He goes on to tell about the cars in the 30s and talks about the metal bar that was in front of the rear seats that held a blanket, since the rear seat never got any of the heat given off by the car's engine. Blanket was used to keep you warm on the cold winter days. He told about the windshield wipers that the driver had to twist with their hand to clear the rain. Also had to step onto a running board to enter the car and the trunk was so small that it held very little. The spare tire was on the running board. For years the radiator was exposed to sight and the ornament on the radiator was a distinguishing feature of the car. During the 30s the cars starting to have hoods that covered the radiator. Cars came with a crank that at times were needed to start the car. Wow! Then I remembered the '38 Plymouth that my next door neighbor on Queen Street had. I was maybe 13 or 14 at the time and he must have been in his 50s. Bob B. and his wife Deb lived in the other half of our semi-detached house. I still remember Bob for all the weights and dumbells he had in his basement. He was a weight lifter. They had no children or pets, but Bob took an interest in the guinea pigs that I raised in the back yard. Mom and dad said that seemed strange, but he seemed to be a nice guy. Today you would really worry about that if you had kids living next to a guy like that. Well, he had this neatest old car. He kept it parked in his garage at the rear of his house. Looked like a gangster car. Dark brown in color, it had headlights that stood up along the side of the large chrome grill. Running boards on both side of the car, but the spare tire was housed in the trunk. One of the first models to do that. Windshield wipers hung from the top of the window, but did have a small motor inside to power the blade. It was a four door with huge doors. Rear door handle was next to the front door handle and opened opposite as cars do today. Inside was immense with a lot of leg space in the rear of the car. No space in the trunk, since the spare was in there. How do I know so much about the car? Well, Bob eventually started raising guinea pigs and kept them in his garage! Mom and dad really thought that was strange!! He and I would drive in his car to the Lancaster Stock Yards which was about a 1/4 mile from our houses. We would take large burlap bags with us and collect the hay and straw from the floors of the barns into the bags to use as feed and bedding for the guinea pigs we raised. I can still remember the trips to the get hay and straw. NO ONE today would let their child get into a car with a weird neighbor!! Back in the 40s and 50s people just trusted each other more. Bags were so big that we filled his back seat and rear compartment with bag after bag. Stuffed them in. He filled his garage with cages and eventually had to keep his car outside his garage. Often wish I would have bought his car. I can still picture gangsters hanging onto the car, standing on the running boards, shooting it out with the law. Well, mom and dad were right. Bob was strange and weird. One night mom caught him staring in the windows in our living room. He was a peeping tom! They reported him, but never had him prosecuted. Our business kind of died after that. And shortly, so did Bob. Don't remember what killed him, but it wasn't mom and dad. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - car shown is how I remember Bob's car, except his car had 4 doors.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The "My Favorite was Bingo" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just got back from Springettsbury Park near York, PA. After spending an enjoyable day with our family, Carol and I headed to the park with our daughter, daughter-in-law, and our three grandkids. Wanted to hear the concert by "Beatlemania Now". Every Wednesday and Sunday evening during the summer, the Park holds free concerts. Some are well attended while others are not. Most people who attend are older, like me, so the bands are geared to the over 50, or maybe I should say, over 60 crowd. Knowing it would be crowded, Caden, my grandson, and I headed over to the park in the morning to place half a dozen chairs on the grassy slope in front of the bandshell. About 10 years ago we went to a concert held in Lancaster that featured "Beatlemania Now" and really enjoyed it. All songs featuring or written by John, Paul, George and Ringo, The Beatles. My wife grew up up with The Beatles and we have a few of the original LP albums framed in our house. The show was based on thesmash Broadway hit,"Beatlemania" which opened in 1977. As the show drew to a close, members of the cast formed their own touring companies to continue playing and performing Beatle songs. "Beatlemania Now" began its first tour in 1983 and is still going strong. We decided to take the kids and grandkids to the concert with us to expose them to the music that we grew up with. And ...... they loved it. Loved the atmosphere probably more than the band. Dancers of all ages lined the front of the outdoor bandshell as they danced to the songs of the Beatles. Young kids played Frisbee on the grass next to the stage, one small child was running his John Deere tractor across the front of the stage, and the food vendors on the other side of the stage were busy all night. But, the band was fabulous. Didn't seem to be the same band that we had heard before, but that was quite a few years ago and I realize that people do age and change their appearance. My two granddaughters talked their mom into heading to the front area and dancing while our grandson enjoy watching with us, from a safe distance away. What a festive time everyone was having, as we joined in with the band for a few of the songs. After an hour and a half, and with a few changes of costume, the band introduced the members and played their last song (I'm sorry to say I don't remember their names, only who they were supposed to be). After that last song, everyone in the audience, led by LDub, kept yelling for "One More Song." They re-entered, I suppose as they usually do, and played not only one, but three more songs. What I time we, or at least Carol and me, had tonight. On the ride home, Courtney, our oldest granddaughter, was listening as Carol and I were sitting in the front seat and talking about how the band sounded and looked like John, Paul, George and Ringo, when she interrupted and said, "My favorite was Bingo!" It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos from the top are: The band "Beatlemania Now", Paul (sorry I don't remember his real name), George, John, Ringo, and bandshell as the moon rose overhead.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The "Posters have gone by the wayside" Story

It was an ordinary day. Walking past the auditorium in the high school where I taught for 32 years. The building was renovated a few years ago, but the auditorium is pretty much the same as it was in 1962 when I graduated from the same high school. Remember having my baccalaureate and graduation services in the auditorium that year. In the lobby, on the walls that comprise the rear of the auditorium, are 11"x17" black leather frames that I made for them at the gallery where I now work part-time. The frames had posters for all the plays and musicals that have been held from 1987 to 2011, while Mark W. was director. Mark teaches vocal music and took over directing the plays and musicals shortly after he arrived at the school. Most of the posters are posters that I have printed in the school print shop during the years I taught here, as well as since I have been hired to do the in-house printing after my retirement from teaching. I actually printed the posters and programs from 1967 until 2009. In 2010 I had scheduled a vacation at the same time of the school play and I told Mark I could do them earlier in the year or that he would have to find someone else to do the program and posters. Mark chose the latter. When I returned, I asked Mark how he made out and he said the cost was slightly more, but they were fine and he can have them if full color. I asked him if he would mind having the same company do the printing in the future. I was ready to give up some of the jobs that I had taken on since retirement. He understood and thanked me for the effort for all the other years. Well, as I walk past all the posters I try to remember what the play was about and the amount of trouble I may have had in printing the poster and program. The posters with more than one color always gave me trouble, since the presses kept getting older (same ones I had when I started in 1967) and keeping the colors in register (lined-up) was a challenge. But, boy did they look neat! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos from the top are: hallway in front of the auditorium at Manheim Township High School, a few colorful posters that I had done over the last couple of centuries, very first one I did for Mark W., and the final poster I printed which has a gold ink on the left along with green and black inks.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The "Talk about a Taxi Ride!" Story

It was an ordinary day. Needed a ride to Oistens. Oistens is a small fishing village on the south-eastern side of Barbados and every Friday they have their famous fish fry. And, we have free tickets for the meal. Locals as well as tourists gather at Oistens for a meal of flying fish, macaroni pie, plantains, green salad, rice and beans, and slaw. We actually saw the fish flying out over the ocean as we sat on different beaches on the island. But, how do we get there. We have no car rental. The clerk at the front desk at the Divi where Carol and I are staying, along with our friends Jerry and Just Sue, told us to head out the entrance and wait along the street for a taxi. The taxis are minivans which were made to hold maybe 8 or 9 people, but if you squeeze a little, will hold a dozen plus the driver and the conductor. The conductor sits by the sliding door and when the driver stops, no make that slows down, he slams open the door to discharge or take on customers. As soon as he is sure people will not get caught in the door, he slams it shut, takes your money and starts up a conversation. You may be able to hear it over the noise of the radio which is blasting out either rap or reggae music. With in 15 minutes we see a taxi. It slows down, we hop in and the door slams shut. "Where're you going?" the conductor asks. "Oistens!" And off we go. Another occasion we decided to go into Bridgetown, the capital of the island. Another short ride. It was a Sunday and Carol is seated between the driver, who never talks, and a customer who has his Bible open and is reading it for anyone who wants to listen. Arrive a short time later to the slamming of the door and the conductor yelling, Bridgetown. Funny, some of the experiences you will never forget, and can never forget! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos from the top are: wondering how we will all fit into this tiny space, Just Sue and Jerry with back row friends, and Carol on our Sunday taxi ride.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The "It's Always Better Going In Than Coming Out" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just got back from one of our stops we like to make along the Chesapeake. Today we went to Havre de Grace, Maryland for the day. It is considered the mouth of the Susquehanna River on the Chesapeake Bay. It is about an hour of travel time from our house, and an easy drive through farmland and river towns. Used to make the trip more often when I had photos for sale in the town, but since the Gallery closed that sold my work, we only get back a few times a year. And, we almost always eat at the Tidewater Grillwhich is located right on the waterfront in town. And what's funny, Carol or I always seem to get ill from eating there. Why do we return? Because the food is so good. I know it makes no sense, but we like the place. A couple of years ago we ate there for the first time. Had the cream of crab soup and a sandwich. The soup was fantastic and the sandwich OK. After the meal we walked through one of the many antique shops in the town and all of a sudden it hit me. Asked the owner if they had a restroom and lucky they did. The runs hit me all of a sudden. On another occasion I thought that maybe it was the water so I had a soda with the cream of crab and sandwich. An hour later the same results, only in a different antique shop. Maybe once out of half a dozen lunches have I been lucky enough to avoid the restroom. Well, today I had my usual, avoiding the water again. And, I was fine. But, this time it hit Carol. She had the soup, sandwich and iced tea. Later, as we were visiting some of the shops along the main street she asked where the nearest restroom was located. Found it at the end of the block in another restaurant. Same result. She then said to me, "I think it's the crab soup. It is so rich that it upsets the stomach." Oh no! It can't be. One of the best cream of crab soups! Now the decision will be whether to avoid the soup and see what happens or to stay close to the stores we know have public restrooms when we eat at the Tidewater Grill. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The "Adding Some Color to Your World" Story

It was an ordinary day. Watching some of the background photos appear on my computer and then being replaced with new ones every so often. Photos that I have taken with my digital camera for the last 10 years or more. Have about 40 or more that my computer rotates through and then displays them again for me to admire. Ah, there's one of a Hawaiian Protea flower. The stunning Hawaiian Protea plant is unlike any tropical flower you've ever seen. So exotic and unusual, it was named after a Greek god, Proteus, who could change his physical appearance on a whim. I have two of those plants on the screen saver as well as quite a few more. With a little help from Carol I was able to ID all of the Hawaiian flowers and share them with you. With the hot weather and no rain, most of the flowers in our neighborhood, as maybe your's, have dried up and wilted, and you may be in the mood for some color in your day. Enjoy. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The very large and colorful Protea Flower

And, another variety

Gingers are one of the most beautiful and colorful flowers in the world of flowers

The Hibiscus has five leaves and comes in more than a dozen dazzling colors

Another one of the many colors

And yet another one

The Bird of Paradise is one of my favorites

Another variety of the Bird of Paradise

Really fragrant scent comes from this Plumeria flower

The very bright colored Bougainvillea Plant

Monday, August 15, 2011

The "Go Tell It On The Mountain" Story

It was an ordinary day. Heading up Pic Paradis in St. Martin. Pic Paradis is between the cities of Marigot, the capital of the French side of the island, and Grand Case, the culinary capital of the Caribbean. Paradise Peak, at 1,492 feet, is the island's highest point. The road is paved going up, but extremely steep. Wide enough for one car, but we did have to pass a large truck on our way to the top. Kind of scary! It is best if you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, but we thought we could make it with our front wheel drive Corolla. After reaching the top we parked the rental along the road and walked along a short trail to an overlook. Fantastic views of the island and most of the neighboring islands. Could see Anguilla, St. Barts, Saba and many smaller islands and outcroppings which don't have any special names. It is a beautiful day and the water is filled with beautiful colors. The green vegetation is filled with a variety of colors from the many types of flowering bushes and trees that grow in the tropics. Breathtaking would be an appropriate word. The camera was snapping shot after shot. I had just purchased my first digital camera and was having a ball snapping the photos. Carol and I were the only people at the top of the island. After a short stay, we hopped back in the car and headed down. A day or two later I was reading the St. Martin issue of the Miami Herald and saw an article about a couple that were robbed and assaulted at the top of Pic Paradis. People were warned not to travel to the top unless you were with a tour guide. Wow, did that scare us after reading that. We were lucky! This story took place 7 years ago. Since then we have been back the same road that takes you to Pic Paradis, but only to go to the Loterie Farm which is home to the islands only zip line adventure as well as a 150 acre nature preserve. The zip line is one of the longest journeys through the forest in the Western Hemisphere. The Hidden Forest Cafe is also part of the Loterie Farm and a great place to have lunch after your trip through the trees. I have posted a story about our adventures on the zip line. We have never again ventured to the top of the mountain. And, never will. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos from the top are: road sign leading to Pic Paradis, photo I took by resting the camera on a rock and setting to 10 second timer, looking toward the east side of the island and St. Barts and Saba, photo looking toward Marigot, the road you travel to reach Pic Paradis at 1,492 feet.