Extraordinary Stories

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The "Life is all about the Ride: Part 1" Story

It was an ordinary day. Talking with the owner of a 1956 DeSoto Fireflight Sportsman hardtop. The original owner of the car was his father who purchased it in Scotia, New York on February 14, 1956. The DeSoto was named after the Spanish explorer, Hernando De Soto, and was manufactured and marketed by the non-defunct DeSoto Division of the Chrysler Corporation. It was manufactured from 1928 to 1961 with over two million vehicles built during that time. The 1956 model,
which was the pace car for the "Indy 500," gave the DeSoto soaring
tailfins fitted with triple taillights and people loved them. Bought the '56 version of the car in record numbers. The car I'm looking at is pink with some white accentsand a gray top. Really classy car. The owner was telling me that his mother wanted to get rid of the car and asked her children if anyone was interested in the car. It was at that time that he became the new owner. It has stayed in the family since that time, but he told me that neither of his daughters is interested in the car and he may consider selling it in the future to allow someone else to enjoy the car. Really is in fantastic shape. Some of the features, besides the triple-light tail fins, are the chrome side-mirrors mounted on the fenders near the windshield, the neat hood ornament, and the "DeS" round ornament on the roof panel behind the rear window. A few years ago I might have been interested in purchasing the car, but since I got rid of my Corvette a few years ago, I am satisfied to just look and photograph some of my favorites. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Pixs from the top are: showing the original DeSoto owner's certificate, grill of the 1956, classic tailfins of the car, and the logo on the roof.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The "Motor Mouths" Story

It was an ordinary day. Kinda overcast, but still really humid. Perfect day for a car show! I saw an ad in the local newspaper last week about "Crusin' Cuisine", a car show featuring more than 200 cars in Mount Joy, PA. Perfect, I thought. I love watching all the auto auction shows on Velocity TV and thought it was time to visit some of the cars in person. Was hoping that I would see some classic cars, hot rods, and current models as well as some that had been restored. And boy, I certainly wasn't disappointed. I arrived at 11:00 AM and the sun was just starting to make an appearance. Gonna be hot, I thought. Both sides of Main Street were lined with cars and trucks for as far as I could see. Since I parked at one end of the street, I figured I could go down one side and back the other. Didn't work that way. It ended up being so hot and humid that I made it about halfway and knew it was time to turn around or I would never make it back. In the hour and a half that I spent brousin' along Main Street, I saw some of the most remarkable cars that I had ever seen. Cars from all over the USA. What a show! Well, I must have snapped more than 500 photos and I thought everyone who enjoys automobiles and trucks would enjoy a sampling. But this is more of a quiz than anything else. I have pictured 13 grills of cars and trucks (I call them motor mouths) to see if you can identify them. Good luck, and don't look at the answers at the end until you write down your guesses. Toughest one for you may be the last one, since it has some customized chrome on it. Oh yea, a few more stories with photos will appear soon. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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Answers: (1) '56 DeSoto, (2) '50 Ford F-1 Truck, (3) '56 Chevy Truck, (4) '49 Dodge Truck, (5) '38 Chevy Coupe, (6) '29 Ford Phaeton, (7) '37 Ford Roadster, (8) '50 Mercury, (9) '51 Ford (10) '34 Plymouth Coupe, (11) '40 Chevy Coupe, (12) '69 Chevy Camaro, (13) '40 Ford Coupe (14) '56 Ford Victoria

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The "My Take on Happy Valley" Story

It was an ordinary day. Reading one of many stories that are in the local newspaper this morning about the NCAA dishing out some big-time penalties to the Penn State football program. I have written a few stories already about how I feel about the entire debacle that has happened and now I thought it was time for hopefully one final story. At first I thought some of the blame for JoePa getting fired was his own doing, but then I started to soften and felt like maybe he really didn't know what was going on. Well, I have changed back to my original thoughts and think that JoePa really blew it by not disclosing what he knew about the incidents of sexual abuse that his coach Jerry Sandusky was part of. It finally came out through the emails and hand-written letters that Joe didn't want the information about the abuse reported. So now his legacy has been tarnished forever, his statute and wall have been removed and his all-time game winning record has been destroyed. But, the punishment that was dished out to the proud Penn State players and new coaches was certainly not called for. They had no idea what was going on in the late 90s and should not pay the price for Joe and the other administrators that could have stopped it years ago. But, I can't stop here. I am placing quite a bit of the blame for all of this coming to light as late as it did on Tom Corbett. You know, the Governor of Pennsylvania who was the Attorney General while quite a bit of the abuse was occurring. He sat on this case for years until he finally was elected Governor. How much abuse occurred during this time? Would the punishment handed out by the NCAA been less if he had brought the case to light when he first knew about it? He didn't want to get the Penn State base riled while they still had big money to give him for his campaign and certainly didn't want to get on the wrong side of the Second Mile Charity, a significant donor to his run for Governor. Seems he is getting rather upset now when people bring this information to his attention. I just hope Mr. Governor gets his just due in the next election as the players and coaches did at Penn State. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The "Barney Wuz Robbed!" Story

It was an ordinary day. Watched some of the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics which are being held in London. This is the third time that the Olympics have been held in London, with 1908 and 1948 being the other two years. London and the Olympics hold many memories for those who were members of the Lancaster community in the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s for it was in 1948, at the age of 30, that Lancaster resident Barney Ewell won medals in the 100 and 200 yard dashes as well as the 400 relay. Most acknowledge that Barney would have won more medals in the 1940 and 1944 Olympics, when he would have been in his prime, but WWII canceled those games. To win medals in the events that he did are remarkable considering his age. Barney graduated from JP McCaskey High School in 1938 with my dad who often told stories to me about Barney. In high school Barney was a standout sprinter and to this day still has some of the best times in PIAA history. The 2012 PIAA record for the 100-meter dash is 10.44 seconds and 72 years ago Ewell ran a 9.6 100-yard dash which converts to a 10.38 100-meter dash. Pretty impressive!! After high school Barney entered and ran track for Penn State University. His college career was interrupted in 1942 when he was drafted into the Army. After being discharged from the Army, Barney returned to Penn State and completed his degree in Physical Education. He held or shared records in the 50, 60, 100, and 200-yard dashes, won 12 NCAA championships, 11 national AAU titles, 16 victories in world-class meets, and five golds in the Millrose Games, then the nation's top indoor meet. In the 1948 Olympics, Barney captured the 100-meter race, or so he thought. After running the race, Ewell, thinking he had won the race, raised his arms in triumph, but his teammate, Harrison Dillard, running in another lane on the other side of the track had edged him out. In the 200-meter race, Ewell won another Silver medal, losing to Mel Patton. In the 400-meter relay the American team, with Ewell as a member, won handily and Barney finally got his Gold medal. After the Olympics, Barney returned to Lancaster and worked in production jobs at Armstrong Cork Co. and later at Warner-Lambert in Lititz, PA. as he raised his family on Green Street in Lancaster city. Months after the Olympics were held, a rematch between Ewell and Dillard was held at Lancaster's minor league baseball field, Stumpf Field, in front of approximately 12,000 people, with Barney winning this time. Naturally! When Barney died in 1996 at the age of 78, the well respected Philadelphia Inquirer sports columnist Bill Lyon wrote: "He probably would have been the most decorated Olympian in the history of the games," meaning if WWII hadn't robbed him of his prime years as a runner. In 1989, JP McCaskey named its sports complex for Ewell. Special note: As I was doing research for this story I came upon the obituary for Henry N. "Barney" Ewell, Jr. who died June 4, 2012 at the age of 65. He was Barney's son. PS - photos follow with two YouTube videos showing Barney's races in the 100 and 200 in 1948.

Barney Ewell with his awards from high school years when he ran for JP McCaskey High School in Lancaster, PA

The start and finish of the 100-meter race in the 1948 Olympics held in London. In the top photo Barneyis the second from the right and in the second photo he is the second from the top.

Barney (second from left) in London with other Penn Staters during the 1948 games.

Barney Ewell Jr. (center) standing with officials of JP McCaskey High School as they dedicated the stadium in honor of his dad.


Friday, July 27, 2012

The "Makin' It To The Bigs" Story

It was an ordinary day. 7:00 PM and turning on the TV in the living room to watch the Phillies. Most every night that they have a 7:00 game I do the same. I would rather watch it on the HDTV in the family room, but Carol and I have an agreement that I will watch baseball in the living room while she watches in the family room. At least that is her agreement. So, I turn on the game and they are talking about Jeff Bianchi who plays for the Milwaukee Brewers. Nothing unusual about that except he is from Lancaster and I taught school with with his dad in the Manheim Township School District. Tim taught woodshop in the middle school while I taught Photography and Graphic Arts in the high school. Jeff was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2005 Major League draft by the Kansas City Royals and went to the Chicago Cubs before landing up with the Brewers this year. The announcers were talking about Jeff being called up recently from the Brewers Nashville minor league team where he was playing shortstop and batting .305. His promotion couldn't have come at a better time, since he was having a very stressful year. His sister had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and his mother had recently undergone surgery. He got the call on July 10th and three days later made his Major League debut as a pinch-hitter against Pittsburgh. Two days later he got his first start for the Brewers. Heading into the Phils game he was hitless in 11 at-bats. But hey, he's playing in the big leagues!! In an interview with a sports reporter for the Lancaster newspaper, he said that the biggest difference between playing in the majors and the minors is the speed of the game and the savvy of the pitchers. Some of the pitchers in the minors throw just as hard as the pitchers in the majors, but the major leaguers know what they want to do with each pitch and can execute better. He wasn't starting the Phils game tonight, but I was hoping he would get in sometime during the game. Well, the Phils fell behind by a bunch and I turned off the game and went to sit with Carol and read. About an hour later I made a visit to the bathroom and decided to check out the final score so I turned on the game again. There was #14 playing shortstop for the Brewers and the Phils had just taken a lead. I was hoping they could add to the lead, since the bases were loaded, but Pence hit a sharp ground ball ..... directly to Bianchi who made the play at second for the final out of the inning. Jeff was scheduled to lead off the inning for the Brewers, but he was lifted for a pinch hitter. I guess the Brewers coach was a little leery of the 11 ABs without a hit and didn't want him to have to face the Phils #1 reliever so he opted for a more experienced hitter. Sometime in the future Jeff might be the one who will pinch-hit for some rookie in a pressure situation. Here's wishing him the best in his major league career. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photo was from the AP and was shown in the Lancaster Newspaper. It shows Jeff celebrating a win with the Brewers a few days ago.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The "Trap and Release" Story

It was an ordinary day. Crawled out from under the covers and looked out the back window. Something wasn't the same as last night when I went to bed. Then I realized that my animal trap had been sprung. I have been setting it for the last few weeks to try to catch the possum, the raccoon and the family of skunks that seem to enjoy visiting with us on a regular basis. One night last week as we watched TV directly inside the back door in our family room, we heard some rather loud noises on the rear deck. Turned toward the door and there was the raccoon looking at the TV screen. Sitting on its rear legs staring in the back door. Grabbed the camera and snapped a few shots before it took off. Photos were just OK, since I had to shoot through the screen and it kinda distorted the photos. Well, this morning I brushed the teeth, showered, shaved and after getting dressed headed downstairs to find out what might be in the trap. The last couple of times that it was sprung, nothing was in it. Either the varmints are getting good at reaching through the side of it and springing it, or I'm just not setting it correctly. As I started up the steps on the rear of the deck I saw the tree next to the trap moving. Something was grabbing at the tree through the trap. Finally I got something, I thought to myself. Then I saw a little nose sticking out from under the trap door. It almost didn't close and there was about a quarter inch of open space. It was at this time I realized I had a skunk. Now what do I do. I have a yearly urologists appointment in an hour and can't be late. Went in the garage and found a blanket and carefully placed it over the cage. Was hoping the entire time that I wouldn't get on the wrong end of the critter and feel the spray. Yelled up the steps to Carol that I was going to wait until after I went to the doctors to find a place for the skunk. I sat in front of the TV for maybe 5 minutes and changed my mind. I can't leave that animal in a cage with a blanket over it for another couple of hours so I backed the car out of the garage, turned it toward the street and opened the trunk. Didn't want to chance having the inside of my garage sprayed. Carefully lifted the covered trap and placed it in the trunk, closing the trunk ever so carefully. Headed out the drive and north on the Fruitville Pike, the main street that runs parallel with my street. After driving a few miles I picked a spot along a country road for the release. Took a photo of the trap in my car and had plans to take a photo of the release, but plans sometimes go sour as you know. Opened the end of the trap and waited with the camera for the skunk to take off. Nothing. Lifted the rear end of the trap about a foot to hopefully give it a push. Nothing. Then I turned around and looked in the trunk. Could it have gotten out? Nothing. OK, I not going to miss my appointment so I just about dumped it out of the trap. Now it hustled out and under the closest shrub as I was turning on my camera. Oh well. I guess I could have been taking a photo of my wet clothes after it had sprayed me. Now I need to re-set the trap for another round again tonight. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - raccoon in the top photo has it's tongue out like it is laughing at something on TV. Bottom pix shows the covered trap in the trunk of the car.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The "Give 'Em A Chance To Vote" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just got my driver's license renewal in the mail yesterday and found that I have to have another photo taken by September 8th in order to make it current. Not only that, I have to make it current in order to vote this year. What a crock of s#@t that is as far as I'm concerned. You know, for years and years I was a registered Republican. Not sure I should tell anyone that, since I was a public school teacher and the Republican Party is definitely the anti-education party. Heck, this year the new Governor of Pennsylvania made deep cuts into how much aid was given to public school and Universities in the state, and he is a Republican. At the high school where I taught Industrial Arts for 33 years, salaries have been frozen for two years, teachers and aides have been cut, and the salaries of coaches and extra-curricular activities were cut in half. To me it looks like the Republican Party is trying to lower the educational standards of its citizens. And this morning in the Sunday News I read yet another story about the new voter ID law that was passed by the Republican State lawmakers who hold a majority in PA. They passed the law to stop voter fraud, but our current Governor, who held the office of attorney general in PA before he became Governor, didn't prosecute a single case of voter fraud in the state during the 7 years he held the office. I think the law has nothing to do with voter fraud and everything to do with suppressing the vote in the next general election in November. Since PA has more Democratic voters, the only way to beat President Obama in November is to keep the Democrats from voting. Last month the state House Majority Leader Mike Turzai told a Republican gathering that the law would "allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania." Wow, they don't mind bragging about why they passed the new law. Even the District Attorney of Lancaster said that there haven't been any voter fraud prosecutions since he has been in office. Pretty rotten!! My mom has voted in every election since she was 21 and this year she will not have that right. She has no valid driver's ID, since she stopped driving about 10 years ago. We can't find her birth certificate and she no longer can find her Social Security Card. She has no other form of ID and certainly doesn't have a Passport. So, as of now she, and I suspect many others who live with her at Moravian Manor Retirement Home, will not have the right to vote this election. Kinda sad that the older generation who have helped make our country strong and have fought to keep it strong won't be able to vote because the Republican Party thought of a great way to suppress the vote for this coming election. Approximately 9% of the citizens who voted in the last general election will not be able to vote unless they can somehow get a voter ID card before November. And, the Democratic Philadelphia area has 18% of voters who will not be able to vote. I know many of you who are in favor or the law say there are so many ways to get an ID, and I say to you, "Pick my mom up and take her and her friends somewhere to get the ID without any documentation." And, good luck! Not only her, but the thousands of seniors who live in Pennsylvania and will feel even more neglected than they already are. You know, "The Greatest Generation." Here's hoping that by the end of this week the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania will have struck down the new law. As for me, am I still registered Republican and vote that way? Come on people, get real!! I'm for public education, as you should be also. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The "Statins: The Good and the Bad" Story

It was an ordinary day. And, I just heard an alert! Heard the news that one of my daily medications may cause memory loss, forgetfulness, confusion, muscle pain as well as diabetes and elevated blood sugar. I have been taking statins for many years, after my cholesterol level had reached about 200. And they really work, at least for me. Cut my cholesterol almost in half. Just what they were designed to do. Exactly what is cholesterol?Cholesterol is made by your body in the liver. It’s a waxy, fat-like substance found in the walls of cells in all parts of your body, from the nervous system to the liver. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs in order to work the right way. It uses cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods. Cholesterol is also found in foods with a large percentage of saturated fats, such as egg yolks, whole-milk dairy products, and high-fat meats. Cholesterol travels in the bloodstream in small packages called lipoproteins. Two main kinds of lipoproteins carry cholesterol in the blood. It’s important to have healthy levels of both. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or HDL-C, is called “good” cholesterol because it takes cholesterol from tissues to the liver, which removes it from the body. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or LDL-C, is called “bad” cholesterol because it carries cholesterol to tissues, including the arteries. Most of the cholesterol in the blood is the LDL-C form. When the level of LDL “bad” cholesterol in your blood is high, the condition can be serious. By itself, high cholesterol does not cause any symptoms, so many people are unaware of it. And that is why you need to have you cholesterol checked regularly. Statinsare a class of drugs used to lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which plays a central role in the production of cholesterol in the liver. Last year, nearly 21 million patients in the US were on statins. Whether to take statins or not involves a complex mix of factors like age, family history and blood pressure. So, recently Federal officials and medical experts said the new alerts should not scare people away from statins. The value of statins in preventing heart disease has been clearly established. Their benefit is indisputable, but they need to be taken with care and knowledge of their side effects. And as of this morning, scaring the crap out of you must be one of those side effects. The excess blood sugar side effect, which can lead to diabetes, seems to be in a minority of the statin users, but with millions on the drug, the number that are affected with diabetes seems high. As for the ah ......ah..... forgetfulness part of it, reports have been revealed that show that some patients on statins felt unfocused or "fuzzy" in their thinking after taking the drug. I probably wouldn't know it was affecting me that way since I feel warm and "fuzzy" all the time. As for the muscle pain part of the warning, there have been well over 100 studies demonstrating the muscle-harming effects of these drugs. And since the heart is such a vital muscle, healthcare providers are starting to wonder if the side effects are worse that the benefits they provide. I guess more research is needed to truly determine that and in the meantime we have to decide whether we want to risk taking statins or not. For me, I get a yearly checkup with blood tests that help my doctor tell if all my vital levels are OK what they supposed to be. What else can you do. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The "Saving A Dime - plus a PS" Story

It was an ordinary day. Reading some more old people material. Seems that's all that ever comes to me in the mail. Used to get Playboy then The Sporting News, but now all I get is the AARP Bulletin. I guess I've seen enough of naked women and baseball players so now I'm learning how to keep from getting scammed, how to take a safe bath, and how to use the Vacurect. About the only thing they sell that is really neat in the AARP Bulletin is the Bose System. Not sure why they advertise in this publication since quite a few who get the Bulletin are hard of hearing or can't afford it. Did find an article today that I could have helped them write. Story titled "99 Great Ways to Save! 2012." They broke the story down into 11 categories and told you how to save money in categories such as health, cars, shopping, pets, etc. Found a few that were pretty neat that I had never thought about before. First one was in Health where they tell you to join a clinical trial. May get free medical care and often at the top facilities in the country. There is some risk involved, but I guess that if you made it far enough to get the AARP Bulletin, what can you lose. Another neat way to save is one I hadn't really thought about. Did you know that most new cars that are made today use synthetic oil and don't need to have the oil changed until every 7,500 miles. In the Finance category they told about donating your body for medical research and when you do, the research facility will probably pay for your cremation. Pretty neat, huh! That's one I won't share with my wife, though. In the Food category they suggest you shop at the grocery store only one time a week instead of multiple visits. More likely to save because of impulse buying on every trip you take. I can remember when my mom and dad would go to Giant Supermarket on Monday, Central Market in downtown Lancaster on Tuesday, Oregon Dairy on Wednesday ............ Something pretty neat in the Home category was taking a piece of aluminum foil, rolling it up and using it to reduce static in the dryer. Much cheaper than the dryer sheets and you can use the foil over and over again. And, I never thought that if you put a rubber band over the end of both sides of a clothes hanger, it will keep the clothes from falling off. Tip #63 I have very little use for. Told me to Google "cut your own hair" so you don't have to use a barber. I've been saving money on that one for almost 10 years now. One I never knew was the tip in the Utilities category that said that when TVs come from the factory they are shipped at "retail mode" which means the brightness is on full force. If you reduce the brightness on the TV you can save on your electric bill. Just go to your TVs setup menu and look for "home mode" and tune down the brightness. If you plan on getting a dog, in the Pet category they suggest getting a small one and you will save a bundle over a year's time. One that I did know, but may help you is the tip in the Travel category. Fly on Tuesdays or Wednesdays as well as in January or February to save on your airfare. Well, I hope you can save a few bucks so you can take a nice vacation. You know you really deserve it. I tell myself that all the time. Actually take my own advice often. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

PS - A few days ago I published a story titled "May The Force Be With You." Told about heading to Doan's Bones for BBQ for a late afternoon meal. While there we sat at a table along the outside wall of the restuarant. Two days later a large SUV ran into the restaurant and destroyed that wall, pinning the waitress against the rear wall of the building. Luckily she wasn't hurt, but where we were sitting was destroyed. Still have a few of my lives left, I guess.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The "#1 Truly Unique Beach in the World" Story

It was an ordinary day. Was searching for a room near the airport in Philadelphia where Carol and I and our traveling buddies Jerry and Just Sue could stay for the evening before we leave for Provo which is in the Turks and Caicos chain of islands in the Caribbean. Our flight out of Phila. is at 6:00 AM and it is less stressful for me if I don't have to get up at 2:00 AM, drive to Phila., find a place to park and get to the airport terminal in time for the flight. So, we stay nearby and leave the car at the motel for the vacation. Sue gave me the name of the place we stayed last year when we traveled to Barbados, but I thought I would see what else is available close to the airport and maybe give us a better price. I found the site Tripadvisor.com and started looking for a place. When I clicked on the site I noticed they had just listed their "Truly Unique Beaches in the World." Those of you who know me know I couldn't pass on checking out the list so I clicked on the link to find out what beaches were listed. And those of you who read my blog and know where Carol and I travel to in the Caribbean will realize that when I found that Sint Maarten has the #1 beach, I just had to read the article. The #1 beach in the world is Maho Beach and was picked as #1 because of the beach's close proximity to the Princess Juliana Airport. The location is one of the few places in the world where planes can be viewed in their flight path as they cross the beach, just outside the end of the runway. And since Princess Julianna is an International Airport, the planes that cross the beach are extremely large ones. It is this unique attraction that made Maho Beach the #1 beach. On either side of the small white sand beach are beach bars that are perfect for watching the planes land. On one side is the Driftwood Inn while on the other side is the Sunset Bar and Grill (SSB&G) formerly called the Sunset Beach Bar. We have visited the Driftwood Inn a few times, but love the SSB&G because they broadcast the radio transmissions between the pilots and the airport's control tower to its patrons. They also have a surfboard that stands on end and lists the times of the arriving aircraft for the day. With its unique location, friendly staff and great food, the SSB&G does its best to capture the true meaning of "Sea, sand, sun, fun ....... and airplanes!" I have published a few airplane shots in the past, but have to hit you with a few more. Are you ready for some excitement? It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

An American Airlines twin-engine jet flying across Maho Beach. The runway is directly to the right in the photo. This photo and the next five were taken from the SSB&G.

Taken while standing on Maho Beach, almost under the plane. I have a few photos where you can see the pilot in the window.

A twin-engine Delta plane probably arriving.

One of the largest planes to land is the 4-engine Air France plane from France.

Sign that appears on the edge of Maho Beach warning you that jet blast of the departing aircraft can cause severe physical harm resulting in extreme bodily harm and/or death. The end of the airport runway is on the right behind the chain-link fence. People disregard the sign and stand directly behind the jet blast. Some do get injured!

This was taken from the SSB&G and shows the Driftwood Inn in the background. The sand is blowing and knocking people down because of jet engine blast from a plane that has just taken off on the runway to the right, out of sight.

You can see the SSB&G in the background at the other end of Maho Beach. This photo was taken from the Driftwood Inn.

Taken from the Driftwood Inn as a plane approaches the island.

Taken from the Driftwood Inn as the plane is about to land. You can just see the edge ofMaho Beach. Check out the shadow of the plane on the still waters below it.

Taken from the Driftwood Inn as a plane had just taken off on the left from the head of the runway.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The "Double Celebration" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just left our daughter's house in Maryland after returning our granddaughters who had spent the last few days with us in Pennsylvania. My daughter and her family have a big day planned today with a neighborhood picnic and a competition between the neighborhood children as to who can decorate their bike to look the most patriotic on this day, July 4th. Courtney and Camille, our granddaughters, had accumulated ribbon, tape, scissors, and all the necessary sparkles and bangles to make their bikes look great. As soon as we left they were going to begin the decorating, so we hustled to the car and took off to make it easier on them. Court is 10 years old and going into 5th grade next year while Mille is 8 years old and entering 3rd grade. They have tons of friends so we expected they would have a fantastic 4th of July celebration. There's the bike decorating, but also the celebration of their mom's birthday, Brynn, who was born on the 4th of July a few years ago. She always wondered when she was young why everyone would celebrate her birthday with sparklers and fireworks. Still has a good time on her birthday with the many celebrations that take place. Well, the other day, Brynn emailed me photos of both of the bikes so we could see what a nice job the girls did with their bikes. Camille used the traditional red, white and blue colors while Courtney added a few more colors to her decorations. Didn't really matter who did the best, because they both had a great time on celebrating our nation's and their mom's birthday. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - bike at the top belongs to Courtney while Camille's bike is at the bottom in the foreground.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The "Retirement Home Gossip" Story

It was an ordinary day. Having lunch with my mom at Moravian Manor in Lititz, PA. I try to visit once at least once a week and take her lunch at the Cafe that is in the center of the retirement home. Never a day goes by that something unusual doesn't happen. Take today for instance. Now, from here on I will not use real names to protect myself! Mom and I run through the cafeteria line, she ordering a hamburger on a soft pretzel roll with a small salad and a half-cup of soup and me with a half a sandwich of ham salad, lettuce and tomato with a few onions and a bowl of corn chowder. We both had a small bag of chips and a coke. The chowder is great since I have had it before, but mom never eats much, yet she ordered enough for two people. I tried to talk her into sharing the burger, but she said she was hungry. At least it won't cost her anymore that her regular lunch. Her burger wasn't ready when we checked out, but then it never is and they always bring it to the table. By the time I have paid for my lunch, mom had found us a table with another resident, Ms. Gossip. I arrived and gave mom her soup and salad along with a few napkins to put under her food as a placemat. She looks at me and says, "Is this my salad?" "Yep, you made it yourself," I told her. I didn't say, 'don't you remember', because I already knew the answer to that. In a minute or two, I felt to sizable hands on my shoulders. Mr. J appeared and pulled out the remaining chair at our table. He immediately started to open his mail that he had just retrieved. Mr. J is 78 years old while Ms Gossip is in her mid-80s. Mom will be 90 soon and myself, well you're only as old as you feel and I feel half their ages right now. After opening all but one envelope, Mr. J stares at the final one then opens it. "Oh, an invitation to the wedding celebration in Steinman Hall for Mr. Rich and Ms. Small. He tells me that they are both residents and have been friends since Mr. Rich's wife died a year or so ago and now are getting married. Ms. Gossip speaks next, "Well, I'm not going to say what I heard about them." "Now why would you say that if you didn't want us to know," says Mr. J. Ms. Gossip looks at us in a disgusted face and says nothing. "Come on, you know you want to tell us," I said to her. Then mom chimes in, "I wonder where my hamburger on the pretzel roll is. I'm going to look for it." "Mom, just wait. It will be here after they have made it. Eat the other stuff you have in front of you." Ms. Gossip begins, "Well you know that she lives across the hall from me in an apartment. And, you know that she's been married three times already and she's so small. Heavens, he's so big! Now how will that ever work? And, my cleaning lady told me that they are buying one of those new condos and moving in together. Boy, people around here aren't going to like that. And, my cleaning lady told me that he was a lawyer and has lots of money. Can't see how that's going to work out with her being so small and him being so tall." "You think they are going to do something together?" Mom asked her. "Heavens, I don't know!" Ms. Gossip says. "You'll have to ask your cleaning lady," I tell Ms. Gossip. Then Mr. J starts, "Did you hear the one about the tall guy and the short girl, they ................" "Oh, Mr. J," Mom says. "You're naughty. I'm going to go get my hamburger on a pretzel roll," Mom tells us and off she hustles. "You know, my cleaning lady said she got an invitation and the guy who fixes the plumbing got one, too," Ms. Gossip says. "I don't know how they will get all those people in Steinman Hall," she continues. Mr. J said, "It holds a couple of hundred people, you know." Mom arrives back at the table and a second later the hamburger on a pretzel roll arrives. "Here, eat half of this. I'm not hungry anymore." It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - .....and this happens every time I visit!! Keeps permanent laugh-lines on my face at least.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The "I Love Your Hair" Story

It was an ordinary day. Sitting with my wife, Carol, in our recliners in front of the big-screen TV on the wall talking about our days. Trying to top the other as to who had the best and worst day. Today Carol won for the best and I won for the worst. No need to tell you about mine, but you won't believe what happened to Carol today. Not only today, but many times when we go out to eat, go grocery shopping or to the mall to walk or shop. Carol works at the Parish Resource Center (PRC) in Lancaster, PA. She is the secretary to the boss, but does almost every duty in the non-denominational, non-profit ministry for religious organizations of all faiths. Today, the one consultant (person who helps people who wonder into the PRC) asked her if she would watch the desk while she prepared something in the arts and crafts room. Within a few minutes someone entered and Carol walked to the consultant's desk to offer help. Carol said the woman looked and looked at her and then said, "I love your hair. I'm heading to the hairdressers today and would like to get my hair done like your hair." She then walked the entire way around Carol, touching and feeling her hair as she went. "Who does your hair?" Carol responded with, "Mary Jane at MJ Studio on Chestnut Street in downtown Lancaster." Now this may seem strange to you but not to me. One day Carol had on some non-descript clothes and I was dressed
really neat with white shorts and a fancy Hawaiian shirt in bright colors. We were at Park City Center, a large shopping mall nearby, when someone stopped her and told her she loved her hair. One time we were at Woody's Crab House in Northeast, MD and a woman in the booth behind Carol did the same thing. Happens all the time. I told her she should talk to MJ and tell her she will give people MJ's business card with Carol written on the back and when the person arrives at the beauty parlor, Carol will get her next haircut for free. She'd probably get free haircuts for life. Now, what is different about Carol's hair? It is gray, kinda silver color, short and spikey. She uses some type of gel on it to make certain parts stick up in the air. I agree with all these women who stop and tell her her hair is great, but I'm not sure I would stop and tell someone I like their hair. No one ever stops me and tells me that. Come to think about it, quite a few people will stop her and tell her they like her earrings or some other piece of jewelry she may have on that day. Think maybe she should try to find a modeling agency that likes her hair and jewelry. Could stop working for good. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - check out Carol's hair in the photo.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The "A True Grease-Monkey" Story

It was an ordinary day. Riding around in a '51 Ford pickup truck. Not just any pickup, but a bright red one with white-walled tires and shiny black running boards. I was visiting with my childhood friend Jerry recently and told him I have to take a few photos and write a story about his truck sometime. Opened the garage door and pulled the truck out and said "Let's go for a ride." Ended the ride on a street behind his house where he pulled the truck to the side of the cul-de-sac and we hopped out. The sky was cloudy, perfect for showing off the rich, bright red paint. Jerry bought the truck from our mutual friend, Ken, on October 5, 1972. Three days later he towed the truck to the farm of another friend of ours, Dean, and cut a hole in the side of his barn to get the truck into the barn. About a month later he removed the engine in order to totally rebuild it. Little at a time, Jerry removed the fenders, running boards, nose piece, cab, door panels and bed. Eventually everything was removed from the frame and Jerry sandblasted the frame at the Strasburg Railroad where he worked part-time. It was time now to start the reconstruction. By 1980 Jerry had totally rebuilt the engine, installed a new truck bed, had the interior professionally re-upholstered and on May 9th of 1980 drove the truck out of the barn and through the neighboring park where he lived. A week later he received his tags and took a drive to Willow Street, PA. Early in July he prepped the truck for the exterior paint and on July 9th his friend Dan painted the truck for him. On July 20th of 1980, Jerry drove his "new" truck to the former owner Ken's house. Ken naturally offered to buy the truck back from him. The truck was complete except for three pieces of chrome and the mirrors. What an accomplishment! And, it looks great. Jerry showed me the book he kept throughout the restoration which tells what he did on what dates. Pretty comprehensive and detailed account of the restoration of the 1951 Ford. He still logs his oil changes and any other repairs he has to make to the truck in his book. Latest entry in the book is from May 11, 2012. Oil change, 10-30 Valvolene; changed the master cylinder. Miles to date on the "new" truck = 249. Not only does it look good, but it is a major accomplishment for anyone. And, when he talks about it you can see how proud he is of what he has done. Heck, I'm proud of him for doing it! And, the ride was great. Thought I'd share the results with you. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Side view of the 1951 Ford 1/2 Ton Pickup Truck.

Interior of the truck showing the headliner, bench seat and sparse dash. Seat belts weren't needed in 1951.

Side of hood ornamentation with the turn signal lamp.

Front wheel-well showing the wide white-wall tires and small Ford hubcap.

Oak bed of the '51 pick-up.

Window sticker showing when he had it last inspected. Notice that it is an Antique & Classic sticker, good for the life of the truck, with some limitations.

Rear of the truck showing the tailgate with Ford logo and Antique plate.

Jerry driving his truck along Clearview Ave. in State College, PA.

Jerry's log book with latest entries in it.

1951 Ford 1/2 Ton Pickup Truck with 1951 PA license plate.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The "Placed by the Gideons" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just loaded another James Patterson novel in the library of my Kindle. I say "my" Kindle because I'm the one that uses it. I bought it for my wife, Carol, as a Christmas gift two years ago, but find that she would rather hold a paperback novel in her hands than the really neat electronic device I got for her. So, I have claimed it for myself. Kind of like being an Indian-giver, if I'm allowed to say that. Nothing bad meant against the Indians on my part, but why did that term ever surface. I never knew an Indian who took something back from me, then again I never knew an Indian. Anyway, I love the Kindle, even the girlie red cover. There are still half a dozen books that Carol loaded into the Kindle that she needs to read, but she keeps buying new paperbacks and reading paperbacks that her friend Just Sue has given to her. Couple of boxes full of paperbacks line the wall in my office. Me, after I read a book, I will delete it from the Kindle library, so I don't read it again. I have done that before, re-reading the same book a year or so after reading it the first time and thinking it is one I never read. Carol claims that I only need about a dozen books in the Kindle and just re-read them forever, since I don't remember what I read after a few months. Would save money! I have a friend that told me that the Hotel Indigo in England now has loaded the Bible onto Kindles and has placed them in drawers in all their 148 rooms. Neat idea! Now you can't complain that the
printing is too small, since the Kindle can enlarge the type to about an inch in height. Their guests can read the Bible or download free books from the 1,500 title lending library they have. After you check-out they will delete anything you may have downloaded, much like I do. And, they remind their patrons that they should remember the 8th commandment and if they don't, they will receive a replacement charge added onto their bill. Pretty neat idea if you ask me. Now if only all the resorts in the Caribbean would do the same thing, it would make my suitcase about a pound lighter. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The "May The Force Be With You!" Story

It was an ordinary day. Ordinary, but packed full of really neat things I did. Carol and I recently visited our traveling friends, Jerry and Just Sue, who live in State College, PA. We had every intention of going to the State College Art Show during our visit, but ended doing just about everything except that. We arose Saturday morning and had a great breakfast waiting for us, prepared by our hostess Sue. Hey, wait a minute, I'll make this easy for you to visualize by showing you photos as I tell you about our day. Ready? Just follow along ...................

Well, this is Sue's breakfast that she prepared for us. One of my all-time favorite breakfast meals. Finnish pancakes! Sorry I didn't take the photo when she first put the plate on the table, but I was afraid if I took time to take the photo then, the pancakes would be gone before I got any. As it was, as soon as I snapped this shot, Sue ate the last Finnish pancake on the plate.

Mid-morning Jerry, Sue, Carol and I made a decision to visit "The Peoples Choice Festival" instead of walking around the streets of State College looking at all the artwork that is presented there. "The Peoples Choice Festival" is held at the same time as the show in State College, but is located on the Pennsylvania Military Museum ground in Boalsburg, about a 15 minute drive from State College. The grounds were covered with 185 artisans' tents and wares.

An extremely large variety of art work is found in the many tents that line the edge of the art show. The following photos show just a few of the large variety. Miniature carved wooden santas are always one of my favorites.

Ceramic miniature carrots, bananas and pea pods.

Decorated Ukrainain eggs.

One of the working artists at the show, Roy, is finishing a porcelain piece.

Located in the center of the art show are a few tents where they hold concerts and special events during the day. As we finished viewing the artwork we sat in one of the tents to cool off and found we were soon entertained by The Black Cat Belly Dance Troupe from State College. Girls and women of all ages, as well as one young guy, entertained us with Egyptian style dances for about an hour. My eyes were entirely exhausted when they were finished.

Naturally, one of the dancers searched for me after the event so she could have her photo taken with me. Pretty neat top, huh? And her's isn't too bad either!

For an early supper we visited Doan's Bones for barbecued ribs and pulled pork sandwiches. This place is located next to Whipple's Dam State Park where we at times head to sit on the sandy beach and swim in the freezing cold water.

Early evening we traveled to the ball field which is directly next to Penn State's football stadium. Went to watch a single "A" game between the Spikes from Penn State and the Cyclones from Brooklyn, NY. The Spikes are affiliated with the Pirates while the Cyclones are affliated with the Mets. Medlar Field at Lubrano Stadium is a great place to watch a summer baseball game with the mountains in the distance behind the outfield fence.

Part way through the game I caught a foul ball. Gave it to my wife and told her to put it in her pocketbook so I could take it home. As the game progressed, I noticed this young boy with his glove sitting in the empty chairs to my right just waiting for another foul ball. I remembered how neat it was to get a ball when I was a young boy, so I told Carol to give me the ball from her purse. Got the boy's attention and held up the ball, motioning for him to come over to me. He wasn't sure, but he came over and I handed the ball to him. He looked at me and went back to his seat. Half an hour later I felt a tap on my shoulder and here was the young boy, smiling at me. "Thanks, for the ball mister," he said. "Can I take a photo of you with the ball?" I asked him. I know he was excited to get the ball after seeing the big smile on his face. I know I would have quickly forgotten the ball, but I'm sure I will never forget the big smile I got with my camera.

Tonight's game was "Star Wars Night" with special appearances from most of the Star Wars characters. During the inning breaks the characters battled it out on the field in front of us. Here a few of the young boys wait to have their photo taken with a Storm Trooper. When they were done, I naturally had to have my photo taken with the trooper as well as 5 other characters. This was alledgely for my grandson. Check out the next couple of photos.

The "Good Guy", Luke Skywalker. After Carol took the photo, Luke said, "Tell your grandson that I said, 'May The Force Be With You'."

And, naturally Luke's arch-enemy, Darth Vader. Do I look scared?

Finished the day with a visit to DQ. I had the peanut-butter Sundae on the left and my wife had the Blizzard.

Busy day, huh? I was pooped! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.