Extraordinary Stories

Act of kindness (2) Acting (2) Adoption (3) Adventure (762) Advertisement (5) Aging (9) Agriculture (41) Airplanes (6) Alphabet (4) Americana (84) Amish (20) Ancestry (2) Ancesty (2) Animals (28) Antiques (5) Architecture (23) Art (149) Art? (5) Arts and Crafts (66) Athletics (4) Automobiles (28) Awards (1) Banking (2) Barn raising (1) Baseball (68) Basketball (2) Beaches (85) Bed & Breakfast (1) Bee Keeping (4) Beer & Breweries (1) Bikes (1) Birds (2) Birthdays (30) Bookbinding (4) Books (7) Boxing (1) Brother Steve (7) Buisiness (1) Business (3) Canals (1) Cancer (11) Candy (24) Caribbean Islands (2) Caribbean Villas (15) Cats (1) Chesapeake Bay (59) Children (20) Chocolate (2) Christmas (40) Church Adventures (113) Cigars (1) Circus (2) Civil Rights (4) Civil War (4) Classic Cars (6) Climate Change (3) Coin club (2) Coins (1) Collections (67) Comedy (2) Comic Books (2) Commercials (1) Comnservation (2) Conservation (33) Craftsmanship (9) Creamsicle the Cat (11) Crime (10) Crisis (277) Cruise Travel (6) Crying (1) Danger (12) Daughter Brynn (50) Daughter-In-Law Barb (7) Death (4) Death and Dying (39) Downsizing (2) Dunking (2) Easter (2) Education (35) Energy (13) Entertainment (156) Entrepreneurial (61) Etchings (1) Eternal Life (4) Facebook (5) Factories (3) Fads (6) Family (243) Farming (26) Father (40) Father Time (65) Favorites (59) Firefighting (1) Flora and Fauna (24) Fond Memories (457) Food and Cooking (148) Food and Drink (80) Football (10) Forgetfullness (3) Former Students (5) Framing (16) Friends (328) Fun (2) Fundraiser (6) Games (1) Gingerbread houses (1) Giving (5) Golf (3) Grandkids (121) Grandparents (2) Grandview Heights (28) Great service (2) Growing Old (5) Growing Up (176) Guns (1) Handwriting (3) Hat Making (2) Hawaii (45) Health and Well Being (18) Health Care (1) Health Hazards (83) Heartbreak (4) Heroes (13) High School (128) History (546) Hockey (1) Holidays (111) Home construction (7) Horses (2) Humorous (68) Hurricanes (1) Ice Cream (3) Inventions (27) Islands (3) Italy (12) Jewelry (3) Job Related (60) Just Bloggin' (54) Just Wondering (11) Juvenile Diabetes (5) Labor (3) Lancaster County (414) Law Breakers (3) LDubs In-Laws (3) Lefties (1) Life's Lessons (156) Lists (69) Lititz (16) Love (4) Magazines (1) Magic (1) Maps (1) Marching (1) Market (3) Medical (140) Memories (5) Middle School (3) Mother (49) Movies (3) Music (93) My Brother (16) My Wife (255) Neighbors (6) New Year's Day (2) Nuisance (3) Obsolescence (4) Occupations (1) Old Age (1) Pain and Suffering (8) Panama Canal Cruise (13) Parish Resource Center (14) Patriotism (2) Penmanship (1) Pets and Animals (97) Photography (198) Playing Trains (2) Poetry (2) Politics (27) Polution (1) Postal Service (2) Presidents (7) Pride (3) Printing (65) Protesting (2) Public Service (63) Questionnaire (1) Race relations (3) Reading (3) Religion (1) Revolutionary War (3) Rock & Roll (1) Rodents (2) Saints (1) Sand (1) Scouting (2) Shakespeare (1) Shelling (1) Shopping (20) Simple Pleasures (118) Slavery (4) Small Towns (3) Snow (1) Son Derek (26) Son Tad (30) Son-In-Law Dave (24) Soup (1) Sports (132) St. Martin/Sint Maarten (253) Stained Glass (1) Story-Telling (21) Stragers (2) Strangers (1) Stress (3) Stuff (3) Surfing (1) Tattoos (1) Teaching (43) Technology (79) The Arts (3) The Beach House (62) The Flag (1) The Future (4) The Shore (78) This and That (15) Timekeeping (3) Tools and Machines (23) Toys and Games (30) Track & Field (1) Tragedy (2) Trains (11) Transportation (10) Travel (3) Trending (2) TV Favorites (18) Underground Railroad (3) USA (1) Vacation and Travel (537) Vehicles (80) War (7) Watches and Watchmaking (4) Weather (47) Weddings (1) Wisdom (3) Yearbooks (9) York County (1)

Friday, September 30, 2011

The "Oyster Pond Yacht Club - Past Memories" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just got an email from Kathy from Northeast, Maryland. Kathy runs Kathy's Corner Shop in the city. Her store is full of art and crafts from artists and craftsmen who live in Maryland as well as the states that border it. I found her store a few years ago and now sell my altered Polaroid prints as well as some stained glass panels in her store. Kathy is about the same age as my wife Carol and me and we enjoy our visits to her store when we drop off photos. Her husband died years ago, but she still has stories to tell about their trips to the Caribbean when he was a salesman and had to made stops in different exotic locations. We often share stories about our time in St. Martin as well as the US Virgin Islands. She told me she had a post card from Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of St. Martin, and when she found it, would email it to me. Just opened it! Pretty neat post card. Must be at least 50 years old!! OK, how can I figure out how old the card is and some history about the Oyster Pond Yacht Club, Hotel and Marina that is pictured on the card? Oyster Pond is located on the east side of the island, directly south of the border between the French and Dutch sides of the island and north of Dawn Beach. Well, my first choice was "Google" it. Surprisingly I found very little telling me about the building pictured on the card. What's next, I thought. Ah, the perfect place to find out about the card would be the two travel forums that I frequent. Pulled up "TravelTalkOnline" (TTOL) and "SXM Travel Forum" and typed in a message or thread about my find. Even included the same picture thatKathy had sent to me. Within the hour I started to get responses. Norm, who lives in St. Louis and frequents both the boards, told me he knew the perfect person who lives on Sint Maartenand would forward the card to her. By the end of the day his source, Barb, had emailed Norm and he forwarded her message. Barb said it is probably from the 60s. She believes that the Oyster Pond Yacht Club opened in the early to mid-60s. The Oyster Pond Yacht Club was the original hotel on the peninsula which was built by a wealthy gentleman from Chicago who also developed the hillside above the peninsula. The Yacht Club consisted of the 20 room hotel with a private restaurant and tennis courts. In the post card photo there is a boat going through the entrance of the pond which was owned by the manager of the club, Jean-Carolo Rossini. The rear of the post card shows that it was printed by International Graphics from Florida so I "Googled" that and had no luck finding a company that still exists with that name. I did have another response from a TTOL member by the name of sxmmartini who sent me the photo that was taken in 1995 after hurricane Luis devastated the island. After the hurricane, the resort was rebuilt and re-opened as the Oyster Bay Beach Resort. The tale of that resort will follow tomorrow. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The "Dessert for Dinner" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just got back from Stauffers of Kissel Hill Grocery Store and put my lunch in the microwave. Having an apple dumpling for lunch. Yep, dessert for lunch. Why not? I got a package of two and hid the other one in the back of the fridge for tomorrow. Felt so guilty not sharing one with my wife that when she came home from work I told her what I did and that if she would like the other one, it was in the fridge. "Funny you bought that today," she said. "I was just talking to Brynn (our daughter) last night and she was telling me about writing something on Facebook about apple dumplings. Call her tonight and ask her what it was," she continued. I gave Brynn a call and she said Jennifer wrote on her page, "Let's skip dinner and just eat apple dumplings!!!!" Jennifer is my cousin Judy's daughter. She works at the dentist's office that is directly across the street from our house. The next response, from Deb, said, "Ok. Sounds good to me! Can we have ice cream with it too?" And the next response, from my daughter was, "Carol Woods used to serve us apple dumplings FOR dinner. Go with that. Shortly after that Jennifer wrote, "Brynn, I TOTALLY remember my mom doing the same thing every fall....I would feel so guilty doing that now. Well, l remember back in the 60s, 70s and 80s when my wife would make apple dumplings, often, and we would have them as our evening meal. Not as a treat, but as a cheap meal. We struggled, having three children and me being a teacher. Teachers didn't make much during that time and with the price of flour, sugar and apples, it was a cheap meal. And it was a nutritious meal, wasn't it. Had most of the major food groups in it. Fruit in the apples, dairy (always poured milk over them), carbohydrates in the dough and we did get some proteins in the milk. I guess you can justify anything if you have to. In 1980 Carol and I made a cookbook which we sold to the public that had her famous recipe in it for apple dumplings. She still get comments about how good they are. My only question to her after our apple dumpling reminiscing was, "So when are we having them again?" It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - original page from the cookbook follows.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The "Lady and the Mennonite" Story

It was an ordinary day. Reading in the local paper that Lady Gaga made a visit to Lancaster. You know who I mean? The outrageous superstar who dresses .... well certainly not like conservative Lancaster County. Her real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. She came to prominence following the release of her debut album "The Fame" which was released in 2008. I'm sure you must have heard about it and know a few songs from it. Maybe even bought it. NOT ME!! I really believe I could pass her on the street and not know who she was. Probably why almost everyone around this area didn't recognize her when she visited here with her boyfriend. You know, I'm starting to see how my parents felt when Elvis and the like came on the music scene in the 50s and 60s. Well, she was sighted at the Log Cabin Restaurant and the Bulls Head Pub during her visit with Lancaster Mennonite grad and boyfriend Taylor Kinney. What? She's dating a Mennonite! Wonder if she knows that he Mennonite. Wonder if he does. Taylor was in town due to the death of his grandmother and she made the trip with him. She is beloved by her fans that she calls her "little monsters" and is well know for her outlandish clothes she wears. Actually had a dress made from meat. She and her boyfriend and four others dined at the Log Cabin near Akron, PA in a private upstairs room in the restaurant. Most of the staff of the restaurant didn't know who she was until after they had left the restaurant. No bodyguard, no entourage, just a few friends enjoying dinner together. She was dressed in black and had long, blond hair. Oh yeah, she did have the very high heeled shoes on and told the restaurant owner that they made her feet hurt. Her server said she thanked him for being "cool". After dinner the group traveled a few miles to the Bulls Head Pub in Lititz, PA where they sat unrecognized by fellow pubgoers. Stefani met Taylor while filming her latest music video "You and I". Kinney was a star athlete while attending Lancaster Mennonnite. All his friends think it's pretty cool that he is dating a superstar. This morning the Lancaster newspaper had a editorial cartoon geared toward her visit. Two comments on the Lancaster newspaper's website read: "I think it's earth shattering. Lady Gaga dating a Mennonite? Wow!" and another read "Dating a graduate of Lancaster Mennonite HS. There's nothing in the story to conclude whether of not he is a practicing Mennonite." My guess ......... duh! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The "Never Forget" Story

It was an ordinary day. Or at least I think it was. Sometimes when I prepare to write a story I have trouble remembering some of the facts that I plan to include, so I have to do some research. That usually includes talking with my wife or maybe calling one of the kids to help me remember better all the facts that I need to tell the story and tell it truthfully. Sometimes even have to quiz my 89 year old mom about something. My mom is someone who will call me at 6:00 PM to talk and at 8:00 PM will call back again, not remembering she had called 2 hours earlier, but when I ask her about something that happened 50 years ago, she remembers every detail as if she is reliving it as she speaks. Bet some of you are the same way. Do you write notes to yourself all the time as I do. I have a tablet in each of our cars just in case I remember something I forgot or have to do and know I will not remember it if I don't write it down. 95% of the stories I have written are stories that came to me on the spur of the moment and I wrote them down so I didn't forget them. Probably many more I could tell that I haven't, but because I didn't have a tablet with me, I forgot them. If only my memory were better, but it never was that good. I taught school for almost 35 years and had probably over 6,000 students in that time. I may remember maybe 50 names from that time. I can always remember a face, but the name sometimes escapes me. Hey, even when I was teaching I hoped to know all the names of my students by the end of the school year. Recently I read about a social media specialist who has started a new service called "4SquareAnd7Years Ago". After you join, every day or night you must make notes about your day such as where you ate, drank or socialized and send them to his service. Each morning the service will find what you did precisely one year earlier and email you a summary. Naturally, you must belong at least a year before you will get any summaries. I assume the longer the service operates they would give you updates from the previous year as well as two or three years before on the date. Something like memory engineering. Would be pretty neat to send photos, interesting facts, emails you receive, friends that visited with you, important conversations, books and magazines you read, and even stupid stuff you did. Then, a year later they would send you a diary of your life from the past. But, then again, there are some days that maybe I would rather forget. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The "Gem of the Caribbean Sea" Story

It was an ordinary day. Looking through my file folder marked Barbados. My wife and I are going to head there soon for a vacation with our traveling companions Jerry and Just Sue. My surgeon promised my wife when I scheduled my back surgery that I would be good to go by the time we had scheduled to leave. Now, the rest is up to me. As I am going through the folder I find our Passports as well as our travel itinerary for the two weeks. I was going to put both my wife's photo and mine on this story, but she would croak if I put her picture on here. Hey, I have on my favorite shirt again. Recognize it? Found the car rental information and the travel/medical insurance I purchased for this trip. Found the info for the condo we rented from a couple in England and a few emails from Henderson Reese who lives in Barbados and has become a good email and Facebook friend since we last traveled to Barbados. Plan to have a Banks Beer with him when we get there. Now if I can only like the taste of beer by then ...... or maybe he would go for rum! Last but not least, I found a few maps of Barbados and a CD from "The Merrymen" who are song writers and performers from Barbados. Popped it in the CD player and started reminiscing. Lead song, Beautiful Barbados, started with the Oooooooo, Ooooooooo , etc. After the first verse of the song played, the chorus started and asked me toPlease come back when the north winds are blowing, please come back to the surf and the sea, I'll find rest in Barbados, come back to my island and me. Won't be long before I head back to the gem of the Caribbean sea. I can hardly wait. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. Listen to the song and see if it doesn't make you want to sing along and head back with me.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The "2011 Flooding Horror" Story

It was an ordinary day. Had just gotten off the phone with Hal, a friend who I taught school with years ago. He was telling me about a trip he had to take a few days before, immediately after the rain had stopped and the flooding had started. He was delivering teeth to the area around Hershey, PA. Same area where the Hershey Chocolate Factory and Hershey Park are located. He described to me how it took him hours to get home because of all the roads closed due to the flooding in the area. He told me that Hershey Medical Center was surrounded by water and the ambulances could not reach the hospital. Swatara Creek came out of its banks and flooded acres and acres of Hershey proper as well as the Hershey Golf Course, Hersheypark, and the ZooAmerica located next to the Park. Yesterday, my friend Bill from Arizona emailed me photos of the devastation. Hersheypark looks terrible. The entrance to the park, with all the small souvenir shops was under water. Many of the rides were covered with water. Much of ZooAmerica was covered. Unbelievable devastation. I heard a new report saying Hersheypark was bringing in a corp of engineers to check on the safety of the grounds under the amusement rides as well as workmen to check on all the mechanical parts of all the rides to make sure they hadn't been compromised. Can't be cheap to do that. I have included some of the photos that Bill sent to me. The first few are from Hershey Medical Center, one from the Golf Course, a few from the zoo, and the rest from Hersheypark. So sad! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The "I Never Give Up!" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just getting back from Giant Supermarket. Trying to peddle my store list tablets that I had made. Seems Carol and I have tried for years to find a "get rich, quick" item that we could make and sell. We tried making a cookbook with original recipes from our families and that didn't sell. Carol tried making smocked dresses and it took so long to make them that no one would pay the price that we had to charge. I tired working on weekends and vacations with a friend putting siding on homes and I ran out of steam. The list goes on and on. And then, I finally came up with the idea that I would make tablets that had a shopping list on them geared for each individual grocery store. I figured I would start with the Giant in the Lancaster Shopping Center, since that is the store where I did the shopping. Spent time going through the store writing down, aisle by aisle, what was on the shelves. Then I typeset a grocery list for every aisle. On the rear of the shopping list I made a space for daily meals and one for coupons. Pretty neat. Tried it out for a few weeks and then printed a case of paper with the list on, padded and trimmed them and headed to the Giant to show them what they might want to sell. They were impressed that it was tailored to their store. But, it had to be approved by their headquarters. And, they weren't interested. My guess was that it would be the same with every store, so I stopped before I went any further. All I had to do now was shop at the Giant for the rest of my life to use up the case of tablets I had. Wouldn't you know it, they closed the store to renovate it and when it re-opened a few months ago, it didn't look the same. Oh well, put the thinking cap back on again!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Sorry the shopping list is hard to read, but you can see the quantity of tablets I still have left under my desk.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The "Plantation Mont Vernon" Story

It was an ordinary day. Heading towards Grand Case for supper at one of the many fine restaurants along the culinary strip that winds through the town. While driving along the road, Carol mentioned that we must stop some time at the Plantation Mont Vernon and visit. After a little more discussion, we decided to make a stop the following morning, before the sun got too hot. The La Plantation Mont Vernon is one of the few places that actually remind you of the rich history of the island of St. Martin. The plantation was established in 1786 for growing sugar, cotton, coffee, manioc (reminds you of a sweet potato), tobacco, corn and spices for Europe and was close to Orient Bay so it was easy to transport these products to the docks for shipping to Europe. The Plantation Mont Vernon is located on more than five acres of land and has a beautifully restored master's house called the "Maison de maitre" situated in the middle of tropical fruit trees. After paying for our tour we were given a small tape player that we used to give ourselves a self-guided tour of the grounds. We stopped at a small out-building where someone explained the roasting of coffee and then to another out-building where we were told about the making of rum. Free samples were given at this stop. We had just finished our breakfast, but the rum still had a great taste to it. Starting to feel more line a native islander all the time. The paths that were winding throughout the plantation had a variety of native plants growing and with our self-guided tape player, we were able to visualize what it must have been like in the 18th century living on this plantation. One of our favorite stops on the tour was the gift shop. Probably had more authentic island crafts than anywhere on the island. The Plantation was opened in 2005 for tourists, but last year on our annual trip to St. Martin, we noticed that it had closed. Hoping it is only temporary, since we did enjoy the travel through history. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos from our trip through the Plantation Mont
Vernon. YouTube video shows a better view of the place.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The "Gall Bladder Shaped Pool" Story

It was an ordinary day. Visiting with my brother and is family in Ephrata, PA. Ephrata is located about 25 minutes north of Lancaster. Take Rt. 272N to Rt. 322W, travel a few miles, and you will find his house on a new street covered with single homes as well as small condo units. Steve, my brother, lives right next to my niece and his daughter, Kelly and her husband Shawn and their three young children. Steve and his wife, Kathy, moved there about two years ago and recently decided to build a pool in the back yard. We are there today to celebrate the opening of the pool to family, friends and neighbors. And ..... the pool is BEAUTIFUL! He really knows how to do it right! Concrete in-ground pool with beautiful tile lining the inside of the 3-8 foot pool. But what makes his pool so neat is the landscaping that he did all around the pool. A little bit of grass for the dog, some large white beach stones on some parts, shrubs surrounded by mulch on other parts and an American flag flying on a tall pole in the corner of the fenced in pool. Many pool chairs, tables and umbrellas fill the walk around the pool. Now we get to talking about the landscaping and he tells me he decided to do all of it by himself. Did get some help from daughter Kelly, but he hauled ton after ton of rock, shrubs, mulch and 90 pound pavers for a path to the gate. I'm getting old, and I know he is five years younger, but there is no way anyone can do that without killing themself. Yep, just about what he did. Kathy told me that just as he finished, he looked at her and said he didn't fell well. She told me he looked terrible and suggested she call 911. Steve resisted so she told him she was taking him to the hospital. That he didn't resist and after examination was found that he needed to have his gallbladder removed. The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ that rests beneath the right side of the liver. Its main purpose is to collect and concentrate a digestive liquid (bile) produced by the liver. Bile is released from the gallbladder after eating, aiding digestion. Bile travels through narrow tubular channels (bile ducts) into the small intestine. Steve's was not working properly, so he needed it removed. Immediately! He went through Laparoscopic gallbladder removal where they made three one inch long incisions and removed it. Unblieivable! His only regret about having to have it done immediately was that he never got to jump in the pool as soon as he finished all the work. But, today he will celebrate the opening of his pool. After Carol and I arrived, Steve and I compared our scars from our recent operations and then began the celebration. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos from the top are: overall view of Steve and Kathy's new in-ground pool, Shawn using the slide, my grandson Caden shooting a basket, and me celebrating with my little brother. I made him sit so I don't look like a midget.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The "Tastes of Anesthesia" Story

It was an ordinary day. Eating a bowl of potato soup that my wife made for me to help with my recovery. Have been home from the hospital for a few days and my appetite is non-existent. I called the doctor today to see if I can get any medicine to help make me eat, but the nurse explained that the anesthesia is what is causing that. It just has to work its way out of my system. Wow, anesthesia can cause so many side effects. Seems that on my first day home, Carol sliced a fresh peach for me, hoping I would be able to eat it. I tried a bite and it was soooo sweet that I just couldn't eat it. Same with the soup. It was sooooo salty that I struggled to finish more than a few spoon fulls. The anesthesia! Then I read about some research that the Monell Chemical Senses Center did that has shown that many of the taste receptors on your tongue are also present in your guts. And when the anesthesia is affecting most parts of my body, no wonder my taste buds are also being affected. The study was pretty interesting. Taste cells that specialize to detect sweetness live on the tip, back, and sides of the tongue. When you taste sugar, that activates the taste cells which send a signal to a nearby nerve that transmits a message to the brain. As you digest that same sugar, enzymes break it down into glucose and fructose as they enter the small intestine. In the intestines are some of the same taste cells that are on the tongue, so your brain gets a double dose of the message of sweetness. Then, eventually, the glucose and fructose reach your pancreas. And, even your pancreas has taste cells that send messages to your brain indicating something sweet. Wonder what else in my body the anesthesia is messing with. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The "Meal in a Dish" Story

It was an ordinary day. Having a banana with my cereal for breakfast. You did know that the banana is America's second most popular fruit. Great source of potassium. Got the banana at the grocery store, since the bananas growing in my bedroom aren't ready to eat yet. Yep, have a banana tree in the bedroom. Matter of fact, we have 9 banana plants growing in our house. They are primarily ornamental, but they at times produce bananas. Indoor plants reduce components of indoor air pollution as well as remove carbon dioxide from the air. Plants are also known to reduce airborne microbes and increase humidity. This will be the second bunch of bananas that we have had in the last 10 years. The first bunch did not grow large enough to eat, and I fear that may be the case again. After a banana stem produces a flower, which turns into the actual bananas, it slowly dies, even if the flower is cut away or no fruits are produced. The leaves begin to yellow and the stem itself rots, eventually falling away from the clump to the ground. That is what happened the last time and I'm sure it will happen again. But, the banana plant is continually renewing itself by sending up new stems. The stem that has produced the latest flower and bunch of bananas is a shoot from the previous plant that bore fruit and died. Pretty neat to watch how the plant can perpetuate for generations. As our banana trees grow, they all have shoots that can separated from the mother stem and replanted. We now have 9 plants that are in full growth that we have started from other plants. No carbon dioxide in our house! My one wish with our last batch of bananas is that it will supply me with a source to keep a few scoops of ice cream aligned in a dish. Oh yeah, I'll also need the chocolate, caramel, and pineapple syrups as well as the whipped cream and cherries. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.PS - the photos that follow are the banana plants that are growing in our house. The first 2 photos are the plant that is going to bear the fruit.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The "Lumbar Laminectomy" Story

It was an ordinary day. Starting to recover. A few months ago I started having pain in my right leg. Radiated from my back down to my calf. At first it appeared for a short time and then disappeared. Then it became more regular. At that point I went to my family doctor for an appointment. He ordered an MRI and the results showed severe spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is narrowing of the spinal column that causes pressure on the spinal cord, or narrowing of the openings (called neural foramina) where spinal nerves leave the spinal column. My family doctor made an appointment for me at the Lancaster NeuroScience & Spine Center where Dr. Gastaldo met with me. By now my pain was becoming more severe. He reviewed my MRI with me and arranged for 5 physical therapy sessions with their in-house therapist. Didn't help! I was then scheduled to have a shot of steroids directly into my spine. When I showed up for the appointment my doctor reviewed my MRI and told me it probably would be a waste of my time since it would not correct my problem, so I was referred back to Dr. Gastaldo. My wife and I met with him and he went over my options which were pain management with drugs or surgery. Reviewed all the possible things that can happen with surgery and I made the choice to have the surgery. By this point I had to crawl up and down the stairs in our house because of the intense pain in my right leg as well as walk bent over to help relieve the pain. The following week I entered the Lancaster General Hospital for Lumbar Laminectomy of the L4 and L5 vertebrae. A laminectomy removes the entire lamina which is the rounded bone at
the back of the spinal canal. This helps relieve pressure when a disk bulges into a nerve. After the procedure, the new opening in the spine is protected by the thick back muscles. The procedure went well and I returned to my room. Since I am on Medicare, I was required to stay overnight. Believe it or not, what I had done can be considered day surgery. Well the surgery went well, but my recovery took a downward turn when the anesthesia I was given affected my urinary organs and I needed a catheter to help me void liquids. On the FORTH try, and finally with the help of a urologist, the catheter was inserted. I remained an extra day and finally went home with the catheter still inserted. NO FUN AT ALL! After three more days the bladder muscles were starting to reject the catheter which caused painful spasms. I was told to go to my urologist's office immediately and the catheter was removed. Instant relief! It was at that moment that I began my recovery. That was 5 days ago, and I am now walking without the intense pain and my back is only slightly sore. But, considering what I had done, I'm very satisfied with my progress. I have a month to recover before I vacation in the warm sun of the Caribbean. My doctor told me I was on schedule for vacation, as long as I don't do something stupid. Hear that LDUB! DON'T DO SOMETHING STUPID!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The "Ba ba ding a dong ding Blue Moon" Story

It was an ordinary day. Opening my emails to see what I should save and what is Junk Mail. Got an email from my friend Bill who lives in Arizona. We correspond quite often and he will stop for a visit when he returns to the area to visit with old friends. Bill sent me the "Doo-Wop Test." Now, for those who are reading that have no idea what that is, I feel sorry for you. You never had the chance to experience some of the best music ever created. The name "Doo-Wop" is given to a style of vocal-based rhythm and blues music that developed in African America communities in the 1940s and achieved mainstream popularity in the 1950s and early 1960s. Philadelphia is known as the home to many of the great "Doo-Wop" artists of that time. Built upon vocal harmony, "Doo-Wop" was one of the most mainstream, pop-oriented R&B styles of the 1950s and 1960s. During this time, singers would gather on street corners and in subways, generally in groups of three to six, and break into a Capella arrangements that would mimic instruments. The bass singing "bom-bom-bom, a guitar rendered as "shang-a-lang and brass sounds as doooo-wop-wop. I can still remember songs such as Earth Angel by The Penguins, Only You and The Great Pretender by The Platters, Why Do Fools Fall in Love by Frankie Lymon, Book of Love by the Monotones, Blue Moon by the Marcels, and Who put the Bomp? by Barry Mann. Some of these artists were featured on American Bandstand when it started in 1952 in Philadelphia, hosted first by Bob Horn and eventually by Dick Clark. Show went national in 1957. Well, I took the test that Bill sent to me and had 23 of the 30 questions correct. But, you have to remember I had a part-time job at Grants Department Store at the Lancaster Shopping Center. Worked in the record department, so I got a chance for a few years to listen to all the "Doo-Wop" music. Take the test and see how you do. After the test is a song you may remember and while watching the video you will see a white 1958 chevy that looks exactly like the one I had in the early 60s and close to the end at Mel's Diner, you will see a pink and white '55 Ford just like I had before the Chevy. Click on "Watch on YouTube" to hear the song. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Doo-Wop Test

1. When did ''Little Suzie'' finally wake up?
(a) The movie's over, it's 2 o'clock
(b) The movie's over, it's 3 o'clock
(c) The movie's over, it's 4 o'clock

2. ''Rock Around The Clock'' was used in what movie?
(a) Rebel Without A Cause
(b) Blackboard Jungle
(c) The Wild Ones

3. What's missing from a Rock & Roll standpoint? Earth _____
(a) Angel
(b) Mother
(c) Worm

4. ''I found my thrill . . .'' where?
(a) Kansas City
(b) Heartbreak Hotel
(c) Blueberry Hill

5. ''Please turn on your magic beam, _____ _____ bring me a dream,'':
(a) Mr. Sandman
(b) Earth Angel
(c) Dream Lover

6. For which label did Elvis Presley first record?
(a) Atlantic
(b) RCA
(c) Sun

7. He asked, ''Why's everybody always pickin' on me?'' Who was he?
(a) Bad, Bad Leroy Brown
(b) Charlie Brown
(c) Buster Brown

8. In Bobby Darin's ''Mack The Knife,'' the one with the knife, was named:
(a) MacHeath
(b) MacCloud
(c) MacNamara

9. Name the song with ''A-wop bop a-loo bop a-lop bam boom.''
(a) Good Golly, Miss Molly
(b) Be-Bop-A-Lula
(c) Tutti Fruitti

10. Who is generally given credit for originating the term ''Rock And Roll''?
(a) Dick Clark
(b) Wolfman Jack
(c) Alan Freed

11. In 1957, he left the music business to become a preacher:
(a) Little Richard
(b) Frankie Lymon
(c) Tony Orlando

12. Paul Anka's ''Puppy Love'' is written to what star?
(a) Susan Gibbs
(b) Connie Francis
(c) Annette Funicello

13. The Everly Brothers were ........
(a) Pete and Dick
(b) Don and Phil
(c) Bob and Bill

14. The Big Bopper's real name was:
(a) Jiles P. Richardson
(b) Roy Iddings Jr.
(c) Marion Michael Morrison

15. In 1959, Berry Gordy, Jr. started a small record company called...
(a) Decca
(b) Cameo
(c) Motown

16. Edd Brynes had a hit with ''Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb''. What TV show was he on?
(a) 77 Sunset Strip
(b) Hawaiian Eye
(c) Surfside Six

17. In 1960 Bobby Darin married:
(a) Carol Lynley
(b) Sandra Dee
(c) Natalie Wood

18. They were a one hit wonder with ''Book Of Love'':
(a) The Penguins
(b) The Monotones
(c) The Moonglows

19. The Everly Brothers sang a song called ''Till I ______ You.''
(a) Loved
(b) Kissed
(c) Met

20. Chuck Berry sang ''Oh, ___________, why can't you be true?''
(a) Suzie Q
(b) Peggy Sue
(c) Maybelline

21. ''Wooly _______''
(a) Mammouth
(b) Bully
(c) Pully

22. ''I'm like a one-eyed cat . . . ."
(a) can't go into town no more
(b) sleepin' on a cold hard floor
(c) peepin' in a seafood store

23. ''Sometimes I wonder what I'm gonna do . . . . .....''
(a) cause there ain't no answer for a life without booze
(b) cause there ain't no cure for the summertime blues
(c) cause my car's gassed up and I'm ready to cruise

24. ''They often call me Speedo, but my real name is ..... . . .''
(a) Mr. Earl
(b) Jackie Pearl
(c) Milton Berle

25. ''You're my Fanny and nobody else's ......''
(a) girl
(b) butt
(c) love

26. ''I want you to play with my . . . ''
(a) heart
(b) dreams
(c) ding a ling

27. ''Be Bop A Lula .......''
(a) she's got the rabies
(b) she's my baby.
(c) she loves me, maybe

28. ''Fine Love, Fine Kissing ...''
(a) right here
(b) fifty cents
(c) just for you

29. ''He wore black denim trousers and . . .''
(a) a pink carnation
(b) pink leotards
(c) motorcycle boots

30. ''I got a gal named . ... .''
(a) Jenny Zamboni
(b) Gerri Mahoney
(c) Boney Maroney


Scroll Down so you aren't tempted to cheat (
as if cheating were needed here).
* * * * * * * * * * * *

1. (c) The movie's over, it's 4 o'clock
2. (b) Blackboard Jungle
3. (a) Angel
4. (c) Blueberry Hill
5. (a) Mr. Sandman
6. (c) Sun
7. (b) Charlie Brown
8. (a) Mac Heath
9. (c) Tutti Fruitti
10. (c) Alan Freed
11. (a) Little Richard
12. (c) Annette Funicello
13. (b) Don and Phil
14. (a) Jiles P. Richardson
15. (c) Motown
16. (a) 77 Sunset Strip
17. (b) Sandra Dee
18. (b) The Monotones
19. (b) Kissed
20. (c) Maybelline
21. (b) Bully
22. (c) peepin' in a sea food store
23. (b) cause there ain't no cure for the summertime blues

24. (a) Mr. Earl
25. (b) butt
26. (c) ding a ling
27. (b) she's my baby
28. (a) right here
29. (c) motorcycle boots
30. (c) Boney Maroney

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The "Someone's Watching You!" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just got a call from my oldest son. Seems he is in trouble with the law. And, he pleads guilty. My grandson is in first grade this year in a school a few blocks from their home. He has been after his dad to come visit him during recess and watch him playing in the schoolyard. So, about two weeks ago my son hopped on his scooter and headed down to the playground. Must not have been the correct time, since he couldn't find him on the playground. But ....... someone saw him "loitering" around the playground while he was there. After a few minutes he returned home. Then again yesterday he thought he would ride down and try to find him. He did! Watched him play for a short time and waved to him. Shortly he was confronted by a school security guard wondering what he was doing. He explained he was there to visit and watch his son. Then the school principal arrived and confronted him. Same explanation. Never gave his name, and was never asked for it. The principal told him he was not allowed to visit unless they had previous notice of the visit. So my son returned home on the scooter. Feeling bad about what happened, he called the principal and gave her his name and exactly what he was there for. She was very courteous, but told him that security of the students is a prime priority in the school. As he hung up, he looked out the window and saw 2 police cruisers arriving in front of his house. Must have gotten the license number of his scooter while he was there. He walked out and had a conversation with them about what had just happened and they understood, but told him to make arrangements with the school before he tries to visit again. A long day, but it made my son realize that his son, my grandson, is being protected as he would want him to be while away from home. How many readers had that kind of protection when they were in elementary school? We have come a long way ..... and it's so sad it has to be that way! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The "Lost Memories - The Flood of 2011" Story

It was an ordinary day. Raining! Heavy! And, I need to leave about 11:30 AM to head to the Lancaster General Hospital for back surgery. Woke about 6:30 AM, showered with a special solution to help prevent infections in the hospital. Dressed in freshly laundered clothes and headed down the stairs. My wife and I knew that the sump pump had been running all night, but I feared what I would find when I headed to the basement. "OK so far!" I yelled up to her from the basement after looking in the french drain we have in our basement. We had moved almost everything to higher ground last night, just in case (or so I thought!). We have had flooding twice in our basement since moving to our house. First time was almost 2 feet and flooded because I didn't realize we were supposed to have a sump pump in the french drain. We evidently have an underground stream that travels through the neighborhood, and it makes a stop in our basement. Second time it was only about 6 inches because the pump kept working and emptied the water shortly after it stopped coming into the basement. Found I needed a bigger pump, so I bought a BIG one and left the other one next to it hoping that they will stop the water this time. Kept checking the water level in the drain every half hour and at 11:00 AM, when I walked into the basement, it was just starting to get the carpet wet. I turned off our gas heating system in my power panel to avoid any problems with the gas burner and headed up the steps to make a few calls. Had to leave in 30 minutes for the hospital. Little did I remember that I had plugged my smaller pump into a receptacle on the burner and not it how no power. Called the carpet company and burner company and got my name on their list. Called my insurance company to tell them I will need an adjuster in the next week of so. OK, not much else I can do but watch the water level rise. We left for the hospital with about 4 inches of water in the basement. My wife had called out oldest son, Derek, and asked him to stop at noon on his way home from work and check on the basement. Great move! He found the smaller pump not working and realized what had happened. Found an extension cord and plugged it in another outlet and it started to lower the water which was now close to a foot. By the time my wife returned to the house about 9:00 PM that evening, the water was gone. The following day she had to handle the chore of calling the carpet and burner companies and arranging for times for them to arrive. Two days later I returned home to recover from the surgery and witnesses all the labor she had done to help in our flood recovery. We had saved most items, but a few irreplaceable items didn't make it. A box of my mother's "memories" was under water and looks as if it may not be able to be saved. High School Diplomas and yearbooks from my mom and dad, a collection of antique fans, and a case of cassette tapes that had my dad's Barbershop solo recordings as well as duets that my dad and I did while members of our church choir were soaked in water. Items that are irreplaceable! Have placed tapes in an area to try and dry them, but not giving it much hope. The books and diplomas as well as the fans also cannot be salvaged. Keeping them until the insurance adjuster arrives to see what value he can assign to them. No matter what price he assigns, the memories can never be recaptured. They will be part of the lost memories of the flood of 2011. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos from the top are: basement at 11:00 AM, water rushing from the sump pump on the side of our house, stairs in garage holding the cassette tapes for drying, my mom's photo in her yearbook (Dorothea Elizabeth Cochran on the bottom right), dad's photo from his yearbook (Paul Henry Woods), and a few of the antique fans that were damaged in the flood.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The "Release from the Stress" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just getting back from the Urologist's office. Still in the recovery stage from back surgery and I needed to pick up a prescription at Walmart. Still not allowed to drive so Carol is my chauffeur this morning. "Just stop and I'll sit in the car and wait for you while you run in and get my prescription," I told her. Parking lot was full for a weekday morning and only a few handicapped spots left near the main door. I grabbed the handicapped placard from the dash and put it on the rear view mirror. I got the placard over 5 years ago for my dad when he was having difficulties getting around. He died shortly after and I still have the placard. Never used it until two weeks ago when I had such pain in my right leg I could hardly get out of the car. Haven't used it since then. Today was a borderlinedecision on my part to use it again so my dear wife wouldn't have to walk too far to get mymeds. Have no intention of using it again and it expires in a month or so. Always thought people who parked in handicapped spots and got out of their car and ran in to a store should have their car stolen. So, today I remain in the car, not to make sure my car isn't stolen, but out of necessity. I was amazed at what happens in a large parking lot such as the one we parked in today. Shortly after Carol parked, put the windows down for me, and headed into the store, a car pulled in directly in front of me. Girl told the guy in the passenger's seat to watch the kid in the back and she hustled into the store. The guy, in his 30s, got out, put a cigar in his mouth, lit it, made a call on his cell and placed the phone on the roof of his car. Had it on "speakerphone" mode I found out. He proceeded to tell this woman on the other end where he was and that he had to get home and take the engine out of the old car he had in the garage. "You know, the one that I bought to re-sell but beat it to death and now have to replace the engine." He told her he would have to get help to put the new one in, but that wouldn't be for a couple of days. After another call I shared with him he got back in, his driver arrived and they left. In that spot pulled a red SUV. My dentist appeared from behind the wheel. "Hi Doc," I yelled to him as he got out. He waved, but I don't think he recognized me. Shortly he returned with a few fans and put them in the back. I stuck my head out the window and asked him if he had water in his basement. Then he knew who I was and stopped to talk for a short time. The space remained open, but a young pregnant girl came fromWalmart and jumped into a Jeep next to the open space. Sat there for a few minutes then stuck her head out the window and started to apply makeup using her outside rear viewmirror. To my right was another car with a handicapped sign and a gentleman now arrived to get back in his Lincoln. Had to be at least 80 and close to 300 pounds. He really struggled to get in and after quite a bit of straining and spitting, finally closed the door. And ..... drove away. Here is someone that shouldn't be on the road I thought to myself. Geeze, where is my wife. Couldn't call her on my cell since it is in her pocketbook. Gave it to her when they took me back for my appointment this morning. Into the Lincoln space pulls a car that I didn't hear. No engine noise at all! Must be electric I thought. Lady in her late 70s or early 80s. She also deserved the placard! She opened the door, sat in her car for a short time thinking, swiveled her feet to the pavement, opened a tissue container and blew her nose. I guess she was ready now for shopping. Got out, closed the door and noticed I was watching her. "Hello!" I said to her. She returned the greeting and struggled into the store. Ah ha! Carol has returned, finally. Told me they had just received the prescription from the doctor and had to fill it while she waited. "That's OK. I had an entertaining 20 minutes," I told her. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - And a chance to actually sit in front of my computer and have some fun writing after a long and stressful week.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The "Memories of Stan" Story

It was an ordinary day. Googling a few things on my computer when I came across this article. Titled: "Does anyone remember Stan Lipman?" He did metal sculptures (junk metal) back in the mid sixties and into the seventies. He made the huge metal sculptures that were placed in the center of Park City when it was first built. It looks like we may now have another Artist working in his place. I would hope this one is favored and accepted better than Stan was among the community. Stan was a big singer and pounder when he was creating. He could be heard throughout the neighborhood. Good luck to the new artist. Yep, I remember Stan Lipman! Good friend. He created quite a bit of his artwork in the metal shop at Manheim Township High School. He was the Special Ed. teacher at the high school. I know it's not called Special Ed. now, but back in the 60s, 70s and 80s that was what it was called. And, his "kids" loved him. He would help get the students in his high school class jobs in the community that they could handle and keep for years. I coached rifle at the time and the rifle range was right next to his classroom in the high school. Many days I would be in the range during the day and stick my head into his room to say "Hi". Always invited in to see what they were doing for the day. Many times I was invited to have lunch with them. Stan set up a kitchen in his room and would go out and buy food so that he would teach his class how to cook. Always paid for it with his own money. And, boy was it great food. Often I would chip in a few bucks so he could get more food for another lesson for his class. And, naturally another invitation to dinner. He was teaching life skills to his students. Funny how one of his boys, Brian, ended up working as a cook and dishwasher for years after graduation from high school at the retirement facility where my wife worked for years. During his classes in the shop, he would melt aluminum in the kiln and pour it on sand he had spread over the floor. Showed the students how to pour it into shapes they would recognize. After cooling they would polish the metal and place hangers on it for their homes. He ended up selling some of them. Then he went to local junk yards where he would talk them out of scrap metal punchings and show the students how to weld. He was becoming quite a metal artist. So accomplished that some of his work was purchased by his friends in the entertainment business. Stan was commissioned to build the centerpiece for the newly finished Park City Shopping Center in Lancaster, PA. He made it out of copper and brass tubing and titled it "The Phoenix." And, another item I came across on Google while trying to find a photo of it:Question: Anyone have a photo of the old Park City Mall fountain? Comment: the fountain in the center of Park City Mall in the 70's? You know, the one that was lit with orange lights and kind of looked like a gateway to Hell? Obviously, it would have to be a scam. Guess everyone didn't like Stan's work. Wonder if they liked his pounding and singing as he made it. I still have and display a small garden sculpture that Stan made for me. Stan died almost 40 years ago of colon cancer. Spent time with him during his illness. An upbeat guy! He was a great friend and an even greater teacher to the children who had him for class. Matter of fact, he was their HERO! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The "Woman with the Green Thumb" Story

It was an ordinary day. Finished my shower and was on my way down the stairs to feed the cat and water the plants. The cat job is easy, time wise, compared to watering the plants. At the beginning of the summer we take all the plants that have been placed indoors from the previous summer and move them outside onto our back deck. Every year it takes longer to accomplish that job since our banana trees sprout new shoots all the time and the plumeria plants multiply like crazy. Every day, unless it rains overnight or we are expecting rain during the day, someone has to water the plants on the deck. And ..... since I am the first person down in the morning, it is me. The deck and surrounding garden is a wonderland of gorgeous flowers and shrubs. When we first moved to the house almost 20 years ago, the bank behind the deck was filled with weeds. We had a florist help design and plant growth that would resemble an area that would remind us of the beach. Over the years they have grown and we have added to the theme. I have expanded the small pond that was installed and have two years ago added a small feeder stream and waterfall to help add more to garden. Our evening meals and parties remind us of gatherings at the beach, so the chore of watering isn't that bad a deal. And, all of this is overlooked by the gardener, my wife Carol. She knows the name of almost every plant and flower found in the Caribbean as well as local flora. We have so many comments on how lovely the garden and pond area looks. As fall arrives, I think of all the work it will be to cut the grasses and perennials and move the tropical plants into the house for the winter. But, I guess we will have more time to spend with the plants as they inhabit our house for the winter season before they will once again move to the garden next year. I have included a sampling of of the flowers and an overview of the pond with the grasses and flowers for you to see some of the gardener's labors. Enjoy, as we get to do every day! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.