Extraordinary Stories

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Saturday, March 31, 2012

The "Torching Of History" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just pulled over to take a photo of the Nazarene Campgrounds near North East, Maryland. Every time we travel down Rt. 272 South, towards North East, we pass the campgrounds. The Nazarene Campgrounds were built on 60 acres of land right off Rt. 272 in the early 1900s. It was a very popular location for church-affiliated summer camps, family vacations and related gatherings since that time. Rev. Pick from the local Nazerene District Council was instrumental in getting the boys and girls camp started. For years and years it flourished, primarily during the summer months. My wife would often tell me that a woman who works with her, Betty, would tell her stories about camping during the summer at the campgrounds. Every now and then we would stop to take a photo so Carol could show Betty what the campgrounds still looked like. Then a few years ago, during a summer trip to drop off my photos at Kathy's Corner store in North East, we noticed that the place looked vacant. I read in the local "Cecil Whig" newspaper that the campgrounds were having financial troubles and were for sale. Financial constraints and demands upon the Philadelphia Nazarene District to maintain a campground which featured 60 acres that had about 200 boxy white cabins along dirt roads, a large Tabernacle and the surrounding grounds must be extremely expensive. In 2006 the campground was sold to a developer, Rhine Proterties LLC. Then, in 2009, the burnings started. Since that time, six arsons have taken place. The small cabins are being torched; sometimes multiple cabins are enveloped inflames at one time. Finally, today, as we stopped to take a photo, all we saw were piles and piles of debris that are the remains of the once popular campgrounds. I'm sure Betty will be upset when she sees the photos. Another piece of history is being destroyed. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Photos from the top are Tabernacle at the Nazerene Campgrounds, cottage torched in 2009, and photo take recently of the remains of the campground.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The "We'll Get There Fast And Then We'll Take It Slow" Story

It was an ordinary day. Heading to the bank to make a deposit, money of course. Listening to the oldies on our 6-stack CD player in the Merc. Got two Jimmy Buffett CDs (one a Christmas CD, but just can't put it away, yet), a Beach Boys CD, an Elvis CD, a Beatles CD and a CD that features marches by all the greats like John Philip Sousa. My wife played in the band in high school and marched in some parades and still likes to listen to the marches. Our grand-daughters, when they travel in the Merc, love to listen to the marches as well. Matter of fact, we made copies of the marches for both of them, much to the chagrin of our daughter. Well, today I have the Beach Boys blasting me along the road to the bank. I haven't touched the volume control, my wife is the one who loves to drown out the outdoor noise with loud music and she normally drives the Merc to work. Anyway, "Kokomo" is playing right now."Kokomo" is a song written by John Philips, Scott McKenzie, Mike Love and Terry Melcher and recorded by the Beach Boys in spring 1988. Its lyrics describe two lovers taking a trip to a relaxing Caribbean island called Kokomo. It was released as a single in July 1988 by Elektra Records by and became a No. 1 Hit in the United States, Japan and Australia (where it topped for about two months). The single was released to coincide with the release of the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail, and its subsequent soundtrack. "Kokomo" is a fictional place, but we swear we will find it if we keep traveling around the Caribbean in our retirement. There is a Sandals resort in Jamaica named "Kokomo", but they named it that after the song came out. Same for a place off the Florida Keys. In the song there are quite a few places in the Caribbean mentioned such as Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda, Bahamas, Key Largo, Montego, Martinique, Montserrat and Port-au-Prince. Song makes good use of the Beach boy's melodic harmony as well as the use of steel drums, slide guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, sax, and even an accordion. Probably why I like the song. Vocals on the original record (yep, you read that right) were sung by Carol Wilson, Mike Love, Bruce Johnston and Al Jardine. The record was backed by the single "Tutti Frutti" by Little Richard. Wow, what a great record. It made it to the top of the charts in July of 1988. I like it because it reminds me of the lovers, Carol and LDub, as we take our trips to relaxing Caribbean island spots. We even got to hear Mike Love and "The Beach Boys" sing the song in downtown Lancaster, PA on Saturday, August 26, 2000. Right in the middle of town they blocked off the street for the concert. Really neat and something I will never forget. The sounds of those steel drums and the harmony of the voices reverberating off the concrete walls of Lancaster Square were so neat. If you have never heard the song, which I find that hard to believe, or would like to hear it again, Check out the YouTube presentation at the end of my story. Mike Love and the current edition of the Beach Boys performs "Kokomo," but I don't see the steel drums like in the original recording. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take you
To Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego baby why don't we go
Down to Kokomo
We'll get there fast
And then we'll take it slow
That's where we wanna go
Way down to Kokomo

To Martinique, that Monserrat mystique

We'll put out to sea
And we'll perfect our chemistry
By and by we'll defy a little bit of gravity

Afternoon delight
cocktails and moonlit nights
That dreamy look in your eye
Give me a tropical contact high
Way down in Kokomo

Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take you
To Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego baby why don't we go
Down to Kokomo
We'll get there fast
And then we'll take it slow
That's where we wanna go
Way down to Kokomo

Port Au Prince I wanna catch a glimpse

Everybody knows
A little place like Kokomo
Now if you wanna go
And get away from it all
Go down to Kokomo

Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take you
To Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego baby why don't we go
Down to Kokomo
We'll get there fast
And then we'll take it slow
That's where we wanna go
Way down to Kokomo

Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take you
To Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego baby why don't we go
Down to Kokomo
We'll get there fast
And then we'll take it slow
That's where we wanna go
Way down to Kokomo

Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take you
To Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego baby why don't we go
Down to Kokomo
We'll get there fast and then we'll take
it slow That's where we wanna go
Way down to Kokomo

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The "Most Unusual Beaches" Story

It was an ordinary day. Checking the countdown for the next vacation to the beach. I have written many articles about beach trips and I hope you haven't been bored too much with my obsession for the sun, sand, and water; otherwise known as the beach. Carol and I have decorated our house with beach items and with it's wooden walkways and wooden back deck, the house looks as if you may be at the beach. Well, I recently saw something published about the most unusual beaches in the world. There were nine on the list and remarkably we have been to several of them. I have picked a few off the list and would like to make some comments about them just in case you may also want to visit one of them. The list is:

Glass Beach is located in Ft. Bragg, California. At one time this beach was the town's dump, but is now a treasure that sparkles in the late afternoon sunsets. In the 60s, Ft. Bragg residents would throw their garbage over the nearby cliffs into the sea. Decades of wave action have tumbled the old car taillights, perfume bottles, beer bottles and other debris into tiny, smooth-edged pebbles of every imaginable color and shape. It should be a sea glass lover's haven, but collecting is off-limits since the beach lies within the protected MacKerricher State Park.
Maho Beach is on the island of Sint Maarten in the Caribbean. Many of you have seen this photo since I have posted it a few other times. At the end of the Princess Juliana International Airport runway you will find this narrow white sandy beach. It is used more by sightseers that beach goers to take photos of the jumbo jets as they land seemingly within arm's reach. The heat from the jet blast and the winds of up to 100 mph whipping the sand during takeoff attract many thrill-seekers as they see if they can withstand the blast. I have been visiting the beach for over 10 years now as I take photo after photo of the landings and those who seek to destroy their body by defying the blasts of the take-offs.
Hot Water Beach is found on the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand. Beachgoers bring shovels and dig their own soaking holes that geothermal mineral waters bubble into and fill. People can be seen lying in their pools of water while the sea is just steps away. When the tide comes back in, the pools are dissolved and wiped clear.
Venice Beach is near Sarasota, Florida. Here you will find hundreds of fossilized shark teeth that wash ashore each year and are a constant reminder that these waters were full of sharks in prehistoric days. Find your way to the beach and you'll probably find a handful of teeth in an hour or two. Known as the Shark's Teeth Capital of the World.
Papakolea Beach is located where else with a name like that, but on the Big Island of Hawaii. The green color is not caused by moss or algae, but instead by an olivine mineral created by volcanic activity. Rich in iron and magnesium, olivine is one of the first crystals to form as magma cools. It is difficult to reach and is about three miles east of Ka Lae.
Bird Island Beach is an uninhabited island in North Carolina's Brunswick Islands. A 30 minute walk and you'll find the little black mailbox that was planted by a local resident in 1981, when land-development proposals surfaced. Inside the mailbox you will find a notebook and pencil so you can leave a note to help save the 1,300 acre barrier island. Old-fashioned handwritten letters helped secure Bird Island's state reserve status. The notes are still there and are joined yearly by more sharing memories of this very private place. A pair of reading glasses suddenly showed up one year, for those who have passed this way more than once.
Bowling Ball Beach can be found in California near the town of Mendocino. It is a coastal feature called Schooner Gulch where you can see thousands of rocks that appear gathered together to defy the tides like an army of small boulders. Strange thing is that they are all of uniform size and shape and kind of resemble bowling balls. Millions of years of erosion has formed these concretions.

What do you think. Can you find one that maybe might interest you enough to visit? Carol and I will be on Maho Beach watching the planes land soon. I have discovered so many beautiful beaches during my lifetime and hope to continue to find many more. And .... you know I'll share them with you when I find them. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The "Death-Defying Adventure" Story

It was an ordinary day. Making a list of what Carol and I want to do when we travel back to St. Martin in the near future. Over the years we have tried most all the adventures and tours that they have on the island. Many were very relaxing, but some were pretty stressful. About a month ago I was reading an Arthur Frommer column in our local newspaper about the two activities that you should avoid. For those who don't know Arthur, he is a travel writer, publisher and consumer advocate, and the founder of the Frommer's series of travel guides and Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel magazine. He has published many books for budget-conscious travelers and has been one of America's foremost budget travel authorities since the 1950s. And, Carol and I are definitely budget conscious travelers. One of the things to avoid is zip-lining or bungee-jumping. Uh-Oh! We shouldn't have done that, I guess. In 2008 Carol and I went zip-lining in St. Martin. One of the most strenuous things I have ever done, and we were both in our 60s. He writes that when you do these things in the US, they have probably been inspected on a regular basis and are safe, but when you travel to a tropical island, who's doing the inspecting. No one! Lucky for us we survived. Not only that, on the same trip we rode in a rubber raft with a powerful engine in the rear call a Rhino boat. Boy did that fly over the water. And the year before we climbed a waterfall in Jamaica which was also tough to do. I guess we were risking our lives in countries where there probably are no regulations for such adventures. I do remember reading about a young woman who went bungee jumping in Zambia recently who plunged into a ravine when the cord broke, incurring critical injuries. Lucky she was jumping above a river and not over land. She did survive, but still had series injuries. I guess we could have had that happen to us on any of the things we participated in on those islands. I also read about a young couple who were riding on ATVs in Costa Rica earlier this year and the woman, while trying to avoid a motorbike, went off the edge of a cliff, breaking both her arms and one leg. If she had not been stopped by an overhanging tree branch as she fell, she would have died. The hospital in Costa Rica requested $5,000 to treat her and then another $10,000 to cover the surgery. After the initial surgery, the doctor at the hospital told them she would need additional surgery that would cost an additional $20,000. The husband was able to get a medical flight to return them to the US so his insurance would cover the additional operation, but he was not allowed to leave until he had paid the bill for their services. Kinda scary when you think that if we would have fallen while zip-lining and needed hospital aid, what would we have done. Is the aid available in most island nations? Well, I do know that my medical insurance doesn't cover us outside the US so for the past few years have purchased International Medical Insurance through IMG. I usually buy $1,000 deductable, but the insurance covers everything including air medical evacuation. I do want to be able to experience adventures on the different tropical islands that we visit, but don't want to ever again place our lives in the hands of individuals desperate to make a living by providing death-defying adventures to tourists. Life's already too short! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The "Rating The Lotions" Story

It was an ordinary day. Going through the box of sun-tan lotions that we have left over from last year. I count 9 bottles that are either half full or half empty, depending how you view it. I was reading an article in a magazine about the magnitude of sunscreens and which are the best. One magazine polled their social media communities and asked which lotions are the most popular and most used lotions. Seems that the #1 lotion is Hawaiian Tropic. People love the sheer coverage and tropical smell. I must admit that it does smell like coconut, but it costs a pretty penny. Well I do have a bottle of Hawaiian Tropic with an SPF of 30. And, I guess you do know that SPF stands for sun protection factor. A sunscreen with an SPF of 15 will delay the onset of a sunburn in a person who would otherwise burn in 10 minutes to burn in 150 minutes. The SPF 15 sunscreen allows a person to stay out in the sun 15 times longer. Now, you do have to realize that everyone burns differently. Someone with a dark complexion will probably take longer to burn than someone who is ghostly white. As my doctor said to me after I told him on my yearly visit that I used a 60 SPF sunscreen that he had recommended, "Looks like it didn't work!" So I went out and bought the 80 SPF. I probably got in the water too soon after applying the sunscreen and it all washed off. There are just so many factors to consider. Anyway, I also have 3 bottles of the #5 most favorite sunscreen, Coppertone Sport. This also got good reviews because it smells good. I have bottles of 80, 50 and 15 SPF. I do have 4 bottles of the lotion that Carol and I use the most, #6 NO-AD. Called No Ad because they don't advertise it and therefore can sell larger quantities for lower prices. And it works since it is #6 on the list. I have been using the higher numbered SPF because of the trouble I have with skin cancer. Use it many times during the day and end up using a bottle or more of it during a week. I have one other type of sunscreen that didn't make the list and that is the Vanicreme 60 which is recommended by my dermatologist. Sells in tubes in a drugstore and isn't cheap. And, according to my dermatologist, it doesn't work that well. It doesn't have a good smell, is so thick you need a putty knife to put it on and is hard to rub in to your skin. After the one tube I have purchased runs out, I will probably not buy anymore of it. Well, I will need to head to the store sometime in the near future and pick up another supply of NO-AD for our upcoming spring and summer trips. Lather myself and head to the beach. Maybe I'll see you there. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The "Mr. Miller - Teacher and Friend" Story

It was an ordinary day. Working at the Gallery in Neffsville, PA. I like to start early in the morning, so my boss and former high school student of mine, Keith, leaves me a list of customers jobs to work on when I get there. Today, after finishing a few of the framing jobs, I picked up these two ancient pieces of 1/4" plywood that had oil paintings on them and looked at my directions for this job. Remove the one from the frame and when the delivery comes, put the two new frames together and place the two oil painting in them. Easy enough, I thought. Then I look at the oil paintings. One is titled "Sunrise Magic" and the other is titled "Mill in the Moonlight." OK, then I study them some more and check the signatures on the paintings. Oh my gosh! Were these painted by Mr. Miller? Mr. Miller was one of my favorite high school teachers. I had him for art class for a few years. Just loved him. And, I believe he liked me, also. How would I know that? Well, one morning before school, another teacher asked if I could go to the art room and cut some paper on Mr. Miller's paper cutter. Sure, so off I went. Mr. Miller was not in the classroom, but the door was open so I went in, turned on the lights, and started cutting the paper ..... as well as part of my finger! Luckily, the school nurse's office was right next door to the art room so I ran to the nurse to show her what I had done on Mr. Miller's paper cutter. A trip to the hospital for a few stitches and a bandage fixed it right back up for me. When I returned I was taken down to the art room by the Principal to talk to Mr. Miller about the accident. Mr. Miller told the Principal that it was an accident and won't happen again. After the Principal left the room, Mr. Miller looked me in the eye and told me not to use anything in the room again unless he is in the room. Didn't talk nasty or yell, like he should have. But, I think I got him in trouble with the principal. See why he was one of my favorites. Seven years later I returned to the same High School as a teacher and my classroom eventually was next to Mr. Miller's classroom. For years and years we talked about the times I had him as a teacher. One day his wife, a high school secretary, died. Mr. Miller was heart-broken and never the same after that. He died within a couple of years. As I worked on the paintings today I talked to Mr. Miller again, reminding him again about me cutting my finger as well as all the good times we spent teaching next to each other. Now, you're probably wondering how I knew these two paintings were from the same Richard "Dick" Miller that I had as a teacher. Well, on the rear of each painting was a printed form from the Scholastic Arts and Photograph Contest. Dick had entered these two paintings in the contest when he was 16 years old and in 11th grade at East Lampeter High School. Way back then the contest had been sponsored by Gimbel Brothers in Philadelphia. I 'Googled' the contest and Gimbel Brothers and found that Scholastics' were started in 1923 and were sponsored by the Philadelphia department store for many years. The same time that Dick would have been in high school in Lancaster. But the real give-away was his printing and signature. Hey, I worked next to him for at least 15 years and can tell his writing as if it is my own. So today, I got to reminisce a little with my old teacher as I worked on hispaintings. Hey, thanks again Mr. Miller for not ratting on me to the Principal when I cut my finger in you room in 1959. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos from the top are: preparing to frame the two oil paintings, rear of one of the oils with the Scholastic form still intact, my teacher and friend Mr. Miller. You know, even when I taught with Mr. Miller, I never called him Dick; too much respect for him, I guess.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The "Oyster Pond Yacht Club - Where Gentle Manner Still Prevails: Part 2" Story

It was an ordinary day. Adding the photos from the story that I published yesterday about the history of the Oyster Pond Yacht Club in Sint Maarten. I used a few photos yesterday, but I have so many that I needed to break the story in two parts and show the remaining photos today. So, I hope you enjoy the following photos as much as I did when Elizabeth Stultz's son Rick sent them to me a week ago. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Aerial view of Oyster Pond Yacht Club with cars at the entrance. Midge Bodine's little red VW Bug can be seen to the left. The building to the left was the chef's quarters as well as storage. The road in the immediate front, along the water, was the dirt road leading to the Dutch capital of Philipsburg. It took 45 minutes to reach the town. The pathway to the right led to Dawn Beach.
The rear of the inn showing the man-made beach with chairs and ladder leading into the water.
This is the center courtyard with Elizabeth and Willie the Chef in the center.

Elizabeth and Ray Stultz standing outside the entrance to Oyster Pond Yacht Club.
Photo of the beautifully decorated dining room of the Oyster Pond Yacht Club.
This shows the rear of the inn where the man-made beach was located. Chairs and a ladder for entrance into the water were located here.
Vertical photo showing the two stories of the inn with the courtyard in the center. Tables for breakfast and lunch.
This photo shows Midge Bodine (co-owner) on the left with Nancy Hoff in the center and Rae Rossini (Gian Carlo's first wife) on the right.
This is the entrance into the courtyard where breakfast and lunch were served.
This is the rear of Oyster Pond Yacht Club.
Plantings that surrounded the Yacht Club.
The only photo I can find that shows the destruction caused in 1995 by Hurricane Luis. Much was destroyed, but OPYC did survive the destruction.
Oyster Bay Beach Resort as it appears today, years after Hurricane Luis destroyed many of the surrounding buildings.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The "Oyster Pond Yacht Club - Where Gentle Manner Still Prevails: Part 1" Story

It was an ordinary day. Reviewing information that Elizabeth and her son Rick have been emailing to me for the past few weeks. On September 30 of last year I published a story titled "Oyster Pond Yacht Club - Past Memories" and followed it on September 1 with "Oyster Pond Yacht Club - Present Memories." The information that I used to write the stories was obtained from a friend in Northeast, Maryland who gave me a post card with a photo of the original Oyster Pond Yacht Club (OPYC) on the face and from readers of the travel forum TravelTalkOnline. I also found some information on SXM Heritage which is a historical site that I have as a friend on Facebook. There was very little info that I could use from "Googling" the topic on the Internet. At the beginning of March of this year, I got a very interesting email from Elizabeth Stultz who told me she came upon my stories when she "Googled" OPYC. Told me she enjoyed reading them and that she could provide information that was first hand. Jumped at that offer and after a few weeks of back and forth emails, and "Googling" some sources that she suggested, I have been able to trace, with Elizabeth and her son Rick's help, the OPYC back to the beginning. Then ...... Elizabeth sent me another email telling me to call Rae Rossini who was probably the only other living person who could give me answers to my questions about OPYC. So, I called Rae, a very lovely woman who helped fill in a few facts and who also gave me the phone number of Marilyn Bodine who was the second wife of Earl Bodine, owner and founder of the OPYC. Marilyn shared more stories about OPYC, then gave me the name and number of her step-son, Paul Bodine. Well, he gave me enough information to write a book. I gave up taking notes and just listened to Paul tell story after story about the OPYC. I was amazed that he could remember everyone's name and how they fit into the story of the OPYC. After a half-hour of conversation with Paul, I told him how inadequate my story would be if I attempted to publish one. He encouraged me to write one anyway, even if some of the facts may not be perfect, because he knew that it would still tell a small part of his life and the life of OPYC. And so, to all who spent time with me, either through email, snail mail or on the phone, giving me first hand information and photos, as well as encouragement to give it a try, here goes ......

The year was 1965. Midge and Earl (Bud) Bodine, who lived in Northbrook, IL, purchased property in Sint Maarten (a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands) as well as property on Saba (a special municipality of the Kingdom of the Netherlands). I have never been able to trace the entirety of the properties, but it was sizeable, especially on Sint Maarten. The property on Saba (say•ba) was used to erect the Captain's Quarters while the property on Sint Maarten, which was located in the hills above as well as the shores of Oyster Pond, was used to erect The Oyster Pond Yacht Club. Bud and Midge were owners, designers, and operators of both inns and both inns became important gathering places for celebrities and developers in the late 60s and 70s. Through mutual friends, Elizabeth Stultz and her husband Ray were introduced to Bud and Midge. When Elizabeth and Ray found that their friends were looking for a manager to run the the inn on Sint Maarten, they took a hiatus from the advertising company where Ray worked in Chicago, and headed to the Caribbean. OPYC was scheduled to open in late 1970. Elizabeth and Ray arrived late in 1970 to fine the inn wasn't completed. It eventually opened in early 1971. Through word of mouth the place prospered. The inn was built to draw clients that would hopefully buy the villas and lots that were in the hills above which Bud and Midge had purchased a few years before and were not developing. Oyster Pond Yacht Club was a gem! Midge was very ceative and artistic in
designing the rooms and surrounding areas of the inn. There were 20 rooms and two tower rooms on two levels. The OPYC had rooms decorated in the West Indies motif with oriental rugs and artifacts from around the world enhancing the rooms, and were built around a courtyard where breakfast and lunch were served daily. Inside the inn was a beautiful dining room where dinner was served daily. Elizabeth remembered the bar in the dining room as having a brass top which needed polishing every day, if not more. Lawton, the bartender took care of that when he wasn't concocting his marvelous rum punch. A secondary building housed the chef as well as was used for storage. There was a lot of open area with sea grape trees, hibiscus and bougainvillea plants. At the back of the inn was a man-made beach with chairs and a ladder leading to the water. On the other side of the hotel was a very narrow hazardous path that took travelers to Dawn Beach were Elizabeth says there was never a soul to be found. Paul Bodine, son of Bud and Midge, reported that Dawn Beach was named after his sister by his parents. In the summer of 1971, Rex Reed, a NY film critic, who is still alive, visited OPYC as well as Ray and Elizabeth's newly married daughter and her husband. The daughter and spouse stayed the summer in one of the two turret houses. The dirt road to Philisburg started in the front of the inn and took 45 minutes to reach town. In September of 1971, Elizabeth and her husband returned to the states. Roman-born and internationally-known athlete and Olympic skiier, Gian Carlo Rossini took over as manager with his wife Rae. The following year the Rossinis were divorced and Rae moved to Saba to manage the Captain's Quarters. On April 17 of 1974, Murray Brown, a travel writer for the Lexington Dispatch in North Carolina visited Sint Maaten with other travel writers to do a travel report for his paper and he described the two nation status (Sint Maarten being Dutch and St. Martin being French), the beaches, lush hills and 12,000 islanders. His story was titled "Island in the sun has dual personality." The writers lunched at the OPYC which he described in his article as dramatically situated on a secluded promontory on the Atlantic side. Guests are lodged in 20 large rooms, each individually decorated in imaginative style by co-owner Midge Bodine of Chicago in an unusual six-sided, two-story inn around an open courtyard. In addition to privacy, it offers a half-mile long beach, two tennis courts, all water sports, and a marina with separate facilities for about 30 yachts. I have uncovered very little to report from 1972 until this article in 1974. It sounds as if Dawn Beach had been made more accessible to the patrons of the inn and the tennis and water sports had been added during these two years. In 1976 Bud and Midge divorced. Elizabeth writes that Midge got OPYC after the divorce, and continued to run the inn with Gian Carlo. In 1977 Gian Carlo and Midge left Sint Maarten and eventually the property was purchased by Jan Kamlay and OPYC was then managed by Paul and Keirsten Tedlow. In 1979 Gian Carlo married Midge. Elizabeth reported that in September of 1980, while in the
clubhouse of a golf course on Cape Cod, she heard that Gian Carlo had committed suicide the night before. It was reported that he was heavily in debt. After Gian Carlo's death, Midge relocated to Manhattan. In 1995 Hurricane Luis stuck Sint Maarten and heavily damaged the area where the OPYC was located, but the inn survived. In 1998 Huricane Georges destroyed the Captain's Quarters in Saba which was eventually demolished in 2007. I am not sure who held ownership of both or either place at the time of the hurricanes. Midge died June 20, 2005 at the age of 82 in Chicago and five of her children scattered her ashes in the waters between Sint Maarten and Saba. A sad ending for one of the finest inns that ever graced the shores of Saba. Eventually OPYC was sold by Jan Kamlay to three gentlemen in 1980 and they started building condos around the OPYC. It now is known as Oyster Bay Beach Resort, but still, to this day, as reported to me by Paul Bodine, has OPYC as a central part of the resort. In many of the articles I read about OPYC it was said that the inn was: "Where Gentle Manner Still Prevails." It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Photos are from the top: post card from my friend Kathy in Maryland, Ocean side of OPYC, and Elizabeth with her husband Ray. PPS - Oyster Bay Beach Resort recently was voted as one of the top 5 hotels in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and Bahamas by Travel and Leisure 500. I hope my facts are accurate as to the story of OPYC. I did not intend to mislead any readers and apologise if I have done so. Please check tomorrow for a photo collection from Elizabeth showing OPYC in the early 70s.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The "Incredible Water Rescue!" Story

It was an ordinary day. My cousin Susan just sent me a really neat email that will brighten your day. The video clip that you are abput to see happened on a beach in Brazil. As the beachgoers were walking the shoreline, an entire school of dolphins beached themselves directly in front of them. After a few seconds, young men quickly ran into the water, grabbed the dolphins, mostly by the tails, and ushered them back into the ocean, thus avoiding a mass kill of the dolphins. Remarkable feat by remarkable Brazilians. Hopefully I would have enough strength left in my aging body to be able to participate in a water rescue such as this should it ever occur in front of me. If you haven't viewed the video, please click on the link below to see it. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "Disturbing the Harmony" Story

It was an ordinary day. Now for many of you, this story may not sound ordinary, but for LDub's household, take it from me, it's ordinary. Now, a little bit of background info is needed before I give you the punchline, so here goes ..... Ever since we moved to the "Beach House" 15 years ago we have been greeted weekly, sometimes daily, by uninvited guests that show up at our back door. Four-legged guests. We have the usual squirrels and chipmunks as well as having the usual stray cat, even a dog now and again, but we also have had a variety of more "wildlife" visitors. A groundhog shows up a few times a month. I believe he lives under my neighbors porch, since that is where I have often seen him while mowing the grass in the summer. It appears to be different sizes from year to year which makes me think it is more than one. Often wondered what they did holed up for the entire winter in that hole. Year-round we have a few possums that visit after dark. They make quite a bit of noise as they try to eat out of the glass bowls on the back deck. Have a hard time getting their nose to the bottom, so they dish it out of the bowl with their nose onto the wood planks, then eat it. Wondering what we are doing with glass bowls on our deck? Well, Carol and I are both animal lovers and we don't have the heart to let them go hungry so I buy big bags of the cheapest cat food I can find and we fill the bowls with that. At least it keeps them away from the neighbors' houses, but not from meeting their death on the streets when some drivers won't swerve to miss them. We also have a raccoon or two that will stare in the rear door and watch what we are doing while eating. If we walk to the door and turn the rear light on, they still just look at us as they chew the food. And lastly, we have the skunk family. We have noticed them off and on for the last few years, but last summer mom skunk brought her three young ones to eat one evening. What a racket they made. We were sitting, watching TV, when Carol said, "Must be the possum." It was a moonlit evening and as we snuck to the door Carol said, "It's a baby skunk! And there's another! Wait, there's another one, also. And .... here comes the mom." Yep, 3 of the cutest furry balls you have ever seen. Each one differently marked. White stripes on black, black stripes on white and almost all black with a white bob on the tail and a white head. They ate for maybe two or three minutes then started jumping on each other, falling off the steps and jumping back up again to jump on the back of another one. As soon as mom saw us she hustled them off. Now, I think I have given you all the background info you need. Here's where the story begins: Went to bed last night about 11:00 PM. Tired from a full day at work and knew I would be able to sleep well. Took about a minute or two and I was unconscious. Was having a really great dream and at the end (maybe might not have ended if not for the following) I was overcome with this strange odor. I awoke in my dream, no that should be I awoke from my dream finding it hard to breath. Looked at the clock; it read 6:07 AM. Geez, the smell was terrible!! Just then Carol started to stir. "You smell that?" I asked her. "Are you kidding?" was the response. I actually looked around the room to see where the skunk was. I have never been sprayed, but this was about as close to getting it as you can without the actual moisture on you. I asked her if I should get the masks out of the closet to wear. Negative response. I just had to get up and turn on the overhead fan which seemed to help, but now was spreading it all through the house. My guess was that we had a visitor about 10 to 15 minutes ago who was spooked by another guest and left it fly. Right outside our bedroom window which is directly above the bowl of cat food. Now this has happened at least 3 or 4 times before, getting kind of ordinary, but not as bad as this. I drove to work at the gallery today knowing that I must smell terrible, but not to worry, because my boss doesn't have the scent of smell. After work, entering the car, it hit me full force. See, the garage is right next to the family room which is right next to the door where the bowl of cat food sits. Oh, well. Suburban living at it's finest. As I sit here typing, I have the air sanitizer running full force in the family room with 4 Glade plug-in air fresheners going and the exhaust fan on in the kitchen. Was going to open the back door, but it's already 65 degrees in here and my hands will freeze if it's any colder. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The" Dog Whisperer" Story

It was an ordinary day. Started the same as usual with what my 11th grade Chemistry teacher, Mr. Livingood, once said to a student who had spent too much time in the lavatory, "Young man, you spent enough time in there to sh*t, shower and shave." Then off to the kitchen to feed the cats. Have been feeding animals daily for as long as I can remember. Growing up I had everything from dogs to rabbits to white mice to white rats to pigeons to a couple hundred guinea pigs. My wife, Carol grew up with a horse, Blackie, that her parents gave her in high school as well as a dog, Buddy. So when we married it was only natural that we would have dogs, cats and whatever else came down the road. What came along, besides our 3 children, were hamsters, fish, guinea pigs, a chinchilla, a ferret and more dogs and cats. Our children loved animals as much as we did. So when they married, the love of animals followed with them. Our oldest son and his family has raised dogs, cats and many fish. Our daughter and her family has raised hamsters, hermit crabs, fish, guinea pigs along with Abraham, her Himalayan cat she grew up with, and Ruby, her rescue cat that fears no one and loves only her. Never had a dog though. She always wanted one, but her husband told her that he was allergic to dogs. Said his parents told him that all his life. After reasoning with him that if he isn't allergic to all the other pets, why dogs. Sounded like maybe a faux allergy. So Rocco was injected into the family. Same thing suddenly happened as happened with Ruby and every other animal she ever owned. He loved her and gravitated to her. Recently she took a job working in the office of an apartment complex. Helped the residents with problems they might have. And ...... she loved greeting the many dogs the residents brought with them when they came to see here. She has a drawer full of treats that the dogs all know about. They look forward every trip to the office as they greet her with a wagging tail and a slurpy kiss. Residents have started to call her the Dog Whisperer, since she seems to have control over all the pets. Hey, I could have told you that was going to happen. After all, it's hereditary! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The "DR - Roundin' Third And Comin' Home: Part 2" Story

Prelude: Before you read today's story, I thought I should add something from to yesterday's story which is part 1 of this second part. Seems that the Phillies second-baseman, Chase Utley, is injured again and may never be the same player he once was years ago. The Phils have now inserted 22 year-old Dominician born Freddy Galvis into the spsot vacated by Utley. He is said to be a better defensive player than Utley but certainly not as good offensively. Only time will tell. Now, for today's story:

It was an ordinary day. Just finished watching the Phillies first broadcast of the year from Clearwater, Florida. My friend Dale and his wife Pat left last week to travel to Florida to take in a few of the Phil's games during their vacation. Checked out the stands, but didn't see him anywhere. Should have had his cell phone number and I may have been able to locate him in the stands. I wrote yesterday about the influence that the Caribbean islands has on Major League Baseball. Quite a few of the players come from the islands with the Dominican Republic (DR) having the most with 139 players last year. Have to wait until the teams head north and make all their cuts before we can get an accurate count for this year. Anyway, I was reading about baseball in the DR and found some interesting stories about how they get started in baseball. Saw a photo of a young boy with a corrugated cardboard baseball glove. They slice the cardboard open so the children can get their hand inside the cardboard, cut the shape of a baseball glove out of the cardboard and they're ready to go. Their bats are made from the branches of the cabilma tree. Their ball is an almond pod. They don't have to have a stadium to play in, a pasture will do. The people of the DR just love baseball. This is starting to sound like my childhood neighborhood more and more. Read some more and found a story about a 76-year-old-man named Fiallo. He says that, "Baseball," as he taps his heart, "for us, it is here." Fiallo was an island baseball legend. During his prime as a second baseman in the early 50s, he was one of the DR's best players. But there was no such thing as a major-league dream. The Country's dictator, Rafael Trujillo, didn't allow baseball scouts onto the island or homegrown players to leave it. Fiallo says, "We are not like Cuba, though. There they have to play. Here, we want to play." It wasn't until 1956 when one of Fiallo's peers, Ozzie Virgil Sr. made it to the major leagues. Heck, Ozzie was so popular that they named an airport after him. Ozzie, who I remember from my younger years, played different; fun and free like my friends and I did in the parking lot behind my house on North Queen Street. Since that time more than 500 Dominicans have played in the big leagues, twice the number of any country besides the US. Then Fiallo tells another story tells of a boy named Piyoyo. Piyoyo's mother would throw rice kernels for him to hit with a broomstick at night; good for focus. Piyoyo also would put corn kernels in his mouth, spit them out one at a time and hit them with a broomstick. Wow, now that's something I should have done when I was little. Maybe still have to give that a try sometime. Or at least I should have my grandson, Caden, give it a try. In the DR there is a resort (used very loosely here) called the Golden Dolphin Villa. They have built a baseball stadium as part of the villa so that the guest can play baseball with the town's players. Boy would I have loved to had visited the Golden Dolphin when I could still swing a bat, throw a ball without pain and run without every muscle hurting. The field at the Golden Dolphin isn't exactly shaped like a baseball diamond. It's shape is more like a heart. How appropriate for a country who loves baseball as much as I do. Following are a few photos I found that show the passion that the people in the DR have for the sport of baseball which is known as "America's Sport." It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Baseball is everywhere on the island. This little boy is using a palm branch as a bat and almond pods as balls.
Fellow from my story, Piyoyo, age 17 uses creative techniques to improve his swing. His mother, a former softball player, taught him how to hit.
Teenagers practice baseball up to eight hours a day. By the age of 18 they are considered "old" as a pro prospect.
This is the stadium that was built alongside the Golden Dolphin Villa. Players from the village of Cabrera play for, or with, guests of the villa. The villa and ballfield were bult in 2000.
Dominicans use the most plentiful resources to satisfy their passion for baseball. Here, a cabilma tree branch from the jungle is being shaved into a baseball bat.
Players who make it to the major Leagues often return in the off-season to play in the Dominican leagues. The stadiums like this one in Santiago are much smaller, but still have the excitement of a Major League game.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The "DR - Roundin' Third and Comin' Home: Part 1" Story

It was ordinary day. Checking cable channel HD847 to see what the latest news on the Phillies may be. Found they have a Grapefruit League game against the Yanks this afternoon. First broadcast of the year, so I have to make sure I tune them in. Their slugger, Ryan Howard, was interviewed about his foot and another story talked about the majors and the connection they have with the countries in the Caribbean, especially the Dominican Republic (DR). I have never been to the DR, but if I did go I know I would have to find the Phillies facility and make a visit. A year or two ago we took a cruise through the Panama Canal and after passing through from the Pacific to the Caribbean, we stopped at the islands Aruba and Curacao. As soon as the ship started to pull into the cruise terminal in Curacao you could see the baseball fields that dotted the landscape. Wow, I knew I liked this place immediately. Well, the Phils have three players on their roster from the DR; pitcher Antonio Bastardo from Hato Mayor, utility player Michael Martinez from Santo Domingo and third baseman Placido Polanco, also from Santo Domingo. Last year there were 139 players in the major leagues. Many big name players in the past, such as Juan Marichal, Sammy Sosa, and Vladimir Guerrero starred for their teams and in 1963, the Alou brothers, Felipe, Manny and Jesus, all played in the outfield at the same time for the San Francisco Giants. Today the names have changed to Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano, Jose Bautista, Hanley Ramirez, David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez and Jose Reyes, to name a few. Supposedly the first player from the DR was Ozzie Virgil from Monte Cristi who played for the New York Giants in 1956. Since that time Major League Baseball (MLB) has invested close to $76 million in the DR, of which $15 million is used in the operation of local, official MLB baseball academies, which are usually "training facilities." 28 of 30 teams have facilities in the DR and will allow boys as young as 14 years old to enter the academies. Wow, If I would have had the chance to play baseball all day, every day when I turned 14, I may have been a star! Not! The Phillies have a "training facility" in Boca Chica South where the outfielder, 17 year old Andres Corporan and the pitcher, 17 year old Eudy Seybo are the top prospects. But, will they ever make it to the majors when less than 1% of the 800,000 kids who play baseball in the DR ever sign a major league contract. What are the reasons for the success of baseball in the DR as compared to the USA; (1) the boys have dynamic joint range of motion and their frame is lean and long, (2) their muscles work with each other, not independently, (3) the emphasis is on speed, not muscle mass, (4) coachability, most of these guys have nothing else, and (5) the desire to succeed. I naturally had to "Google" the Phils and baseball in the DR in particular and found a tremendous amount of material that talks about baseball and the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region, which is occupied by the nation of Haiti on the western one third and the Dominican Republic on the eastern two thirds. I have a few interesting photos that I found and a pretty neat story to tell tomorrow about my passion, baseball, and the DR. It was another extraordinary day in the life of ordinary guy. PS - photos from the top are: Curacao from the cruise ship upon arrival showing one of the many baseball stadiums, Antonio Bastardo, Michael Martinez, and Placido Polanco

Monday, March 19, 2012

The "Perfect Storm" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just finished watching Restaurant: Impossible on the Food Network where a restaurant in nearby Quarryville, PA was featured. If you have never watched the show, that is rated as one of their most watched, Chef Robert Irvine attemps to save America's most desperate restaurants from impending failure in just two days with only $10,000. Over the course of each mission, Chef Robert assesses all of the restaurant's facets and then overhauls its weakest spots with updates to menus, retraining staff and implementing aesthetic changes with the help of his design team. Chef Robert is certainly the man for the job. He is a native of England who joined the British Royal Navy at the age of 15 where his kitchen skills soon came to the attention of his superiors. He worked on board the Royal Yacht Britannia, where the royal family dined. He also trained U.S. Navy chefs and worked in the White house where his culinary creations were served to high-ranking government officials. Well, as my wife, Carol, and I watched, we recognized the restaurant on Rt. 272S, the Valley View, since we pass it on our trips to the Chesapeake on weekends when we travel to the bay area for lunch. Pretty neat watching the show and realizing that Chef Robert was in the area trying to save this restaurant. The more we watched, the more we knew he wasn't going to help at all. The family that ran the restaurant featured three generations of woman: the grandmother, mother and daughter. The grandmother evidently started the restaurant years ago, the mother then took over the restaurant and seems to be the major obstacle, and the daughter seems to be trying to turn around what her mother has done in the last so many years; running it into the ground. As we watched we saw what the place looked like inside. Ceiling tiles discolored and falling down, floor that was coming apart, tables and benches that had tears and cuts in the upholestry and a menu that featured almost everything that had come from the freezer. Not the place you would want to eat! They had an 18-year-old cook who the mother had trained and thought he knew everything there was to know about food preparation. Chef Robert and he went a few rounds with each other throughout the show. Eventually, the place was re-modeled inside and looked presentable and the young cook finally agreed with Chef Robert that fresh was not only better than frozen, but less expensive. When Chef Robert called a meeting of all the employees and declared to them that the daughter, Kelly was now in charge and not the mother, I looked at my wife and said, "That's not going to work. They don't operate like that in Southern Lancaster County. She's probably the youngest one in the place and not a single one of them will listen to her. As soon as Chef Robert leaves, it will go back to how it used to be before he arrived a few days ago." If you have ever been in Southern Lancaster County you will learn quickly that things don't change. People are stubborn. My God, some folks still fly the Confederate Flag! Chef Robert left shortly after the show was filmed, hoping, I"m sure, that what he taught them would help them make the place a success again. But, this morning, the day after we watched the show, I picked up a newspaper from yesterday and saw on the front page of the paper that the restaurant was "For Sale." Place had closed! Mind you, I knew it would, but not three months after Chef Robert was here. I went online to the Food Channel website to see if they knew what had happened. They posted an "Update" that said the mother had decided to close the doors. Ah, ha! Knew it! Mother was still trying to run the place. Then I found a few comments listed and the most intersting was from Chef Matt, who was hired immediately after Chef Robert left to help organize the food preparation. A synopsis of the comment is: Hi, folks. I am Chef Matt that was hired to help with the place. I've been cooking for 20 years and am no way kidding you when I say that Valley View was the most unorganized, unsanitary place that I have ever worked. The episode didn't cover HALF of the MAJOR problems in that place. The freezer was filled from top to bottom with food that was 4 to 5 years old. I found steaks that were 7 years old. The people cooking the food used no sanitary measures! Robert had that meeting to tell that kelly was the boss ...... Kelly wasn't the boss. No one was the boss. Too many hands in the pot. The menu I designed when I came cut costs 45-50%. I found local vendors. Kelly, the daughter, and I did all the work. But I found that fighting the rest was the problem. If you have ever been or live in Southern Lancaster County ....... OK. You get the idea without any more of his comment. Matt eventually quit saying he didn't want to be associated with a restaurant that was circling the drain. Chef Robert has remade more than 38 restaurants over the past two years and 35 are doing very well. Chef Robert told the newspaper that he met "The Perfect Storm" at the Valley View. And the Southern belles did him in! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos from the top are: Valley View Restaurant with Amish buggy passing, Chef Robert Irvine, Chef Robert works with daughter Kelly and mother Kim in the restaurant's office, For Sale sign in front of the restaurant.