Extraordinary Stories

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

The "65 and Still Driving" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Checking out the story in the newspaper about how many people 65 and older are on the road.  Record high right now and it will only be more in the future.  So what's wrong with that I ask myself.  I'm in that age group and I feel that I'm as good a driver as anyone.  Not sure what everyone else thinks of my driving, but then again, I don't care.  One of my friends tells me I drive like a maniac, but he's used to sight-seeing as he drives.  Story I was reading said that some people over 65 find it harder to maneuver their car, check the car's blind spots, and anticipate other traffic.  When I drive I use all my mirrors all the time.  I try to make sure I know where every car is that is close to me, whether it is in front, along the side or behind me.  I like to look for colors as I drive.  If a red car was in back of me and I would like to pass someone and can't see red behind me, it either turned off or is passing me.  Awareness of your surroundings really helps when you drive.  Thirty states have some sort of older-age requirement for drivers over the age of 65.  To me I feel that may be discriminatory.  It's not age that kills, it's health conditions.  Someone 30 years old with an heart problem is more apt to have an accident than someone like me who only has back problems, shingles, migraine headaches, osteoarthritis, and wears glasses to drive.  Yeah, I know it sounds like I have a lot of problems, but the heart problem will cause an accident sooner than the arthritis.  I have cut back on my night-time driving as have about 60% of people over the age of 65, but that is because I go to bed earlier and am not on the road past 7:00 PM.  Now, when I hit 85 I will reconsider, since those over 85 have the highest rate of deadly crashes per mile.  Even more than teens.  Right now there are 34 million drivers over 65 on the road and by 2030 there will be 57 million.  That's unless the teens kill off all the older drivers by then.  In Washington DC, starting at age 70, drivers must bring a doctor's certificate stating that they are still OK to drive.  How many drivers over the age of 70 have doctors who may be older than them?  Maybe the doctor's reflexes and vision are waning and they really can't be a good judge of another person who wants to drive.  In Pennsylvania, 1,900 drivers over the age of 45 are chosen each month for retesting.  Each selected driver is required to undergo vision and physical examinations.  If warranted, those selected may also be required to successfully complete a driver's examination and a driver's knowledge test.  I must admit that when my father died, when both he and my mom were in the same nursing home, I sold their car.  No way was mom going to be able to ever drive again.  At least I realized that and didn't want anyone hurt because of her careless driving.  It would be nice if people would realize when they can't safely drive a vehicle.  That's never going to happen, so I guess we have to hope we are not the unfortunate ones who are hurt or killed by a driver like that.  What else can you do but drive defensively!  As for me, well, I hope I know when to quit.  Maybe my wife or one of my kids will be thoughtful or harsh enough to suggest it to me and I will be smart enough to listen.  Hear that LDub!!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The "The New Grebinger Gallery and Custom Frame Shop" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Grand opening and ribbon cutting day!  A little over 13 years ago I retired from public school teaching and went to work part-time for one of my students that I had in my photography class.  I was ready for a change and Keith was willing to give me a try in his gallery and frame shop which he had opened six years before in the Village of Fiddler's Green in Neffsville, PA.  For years we matted and framed 2 and 3D art and memories and stretched some of the neatest canvas paintings.  We worked out of two, but close-by, locations in Neffsville.  And, finally Keith had the chance to move the gallery and frame shop and the workshop together.  A few months ago he purchased a building at 2618 Rear Lititz Pike, Neffsville and after 19 years in the same location has moved.  The past few months have been hectic with the move, but the last three nights the new Gallery and Custom Frame Shop was on display for former and new customers.  The first night's festivities featured a ribbon cutting and a visit from Scoops and Cookie of Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt.  All evenings featured food and gifts as well as demonstrations on the computerized mat cutter Keith purchased about seven years ago.  The open house was well attended and I enjoyed participating in it.  Keith and Cindy, his wife, are proud of their new building and hope it will bring in more work and customers to Grebinger's Gallery and Custom Frame Shop.  As for me, I am proud to be a part of one of my former high school student's career and life.  Pretty neat and rewarding.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - check out the photos from the open house.

Female Frog announcing the Open House
Keith and Cindy with male frog in front of the Gallery
Excitement at the ribbon cutting
Customer station inside the Gallery
 A few of the many choices of frames that are available
Part of the lower level gallery and workroom
Work area at Grebinger Gallery and Custom Framing
LDub preparing the mat cutter for a demonstration
Customer watching the mat cutter in action

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The "Commissioned by 'Gussie'" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Just finished taking a photo of a house on West Liberty Street where my friend Bill used to live when he was very young.  Turned left on North Queen Street and headed toward the Lancaster Train Station.  Then I saw it sitting on the left in the parking lot of Michael's Motor Cars.  Didn't know what it was, but just knew I had to stop and find out. Pulled into the lot, parked my car, grabbed my camera and headed into the building.  As I entered through the garage door I was greeted by a beautiful Rolls Royce and a neat David Brown Aston Martin.  Now, these cars would be neat to photograph also, but not today.  Today I was interested in the one out front.  Jason walked up to me and introduced himself.  We talked some about the cars which sat inside.  One was from a collection of 27 vehicles that they had purchased from this area and the other was from a collection of 31 that had come from Virginia.  Pretty impressive.  Then I asked about the vehicle sitting in the parking lot.  "Oh, that's a '31 Buick," Jason said.  "Pretty neat.  We don't own that car.  We store it and lease it to people who would like to use it for maybe a party or reception.  Something like that."  Found out that the car had been made by GM's Buick division for August "Gussie" Anheuser Busch. Gussie was an American brewing magnate who built the Anheuser-Busch Companies into the largest brewery in the world and who was the owner of the St. Louis Cardinals.  Gussie had the car made so when his visitors came to visit, he would have a vehicle that could pick them up at the airport and transport them to his estate.  Something really neat that no one else would have.  The Buick is one of a kind.  And, boy was it neat.  Jason told me to take a look.  Told me to sit in it, take photos of it, but don't try to start it.  Spent the next 30 minutes admiring the Buick from just about every angle.  Can't imagine how much it must be worth, but is really is priceless.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Rolls that greeted me when I entered Michael's
1931 Buick
Sparce interior of the car
Steering wheel showing "Park", "Off", and "Hi-Bean - Low"
Passenger compartment showing the seating for guests
Passenger compartment from the rear of the car
View of the excellent wood-grain panels that cover the vehicle
Rear of the 1931 Buick

The "Can Bill come out and play?" Story

My childhood friend - Bill Heckel
It was an ordinary day.  My longtime friend Bill just left to head back to Arizona.  I knew Bill from elementary school.  We lived less than a block away from one another, but only got to know each other after we entered elementary school.  See, my mom didn't really want me to play with too many kids when I was growing up, so she kind of limited me to the kids in my block so I wouldn't have to cross the street.  Well, Bill lived with his twin sister, younger sister, mom and grandmother on Liberty St. in Lancaster.  Liberty was across the street from me, so I never knew Bill until we had to walk to school together.  I found out I could see his house from my front porch, but until my mom got to know him during first grade, I wasn't able to play with him.  Bill and his family were rather poor.  They lived on the second floor above a garage.  All five of them in a rather small area.  Below their home, in the first floor of the garage, was a store where they made and sold chocolate candy.  During the summer between 1st and 2nd grade, Bill and I were best of friends.  Bill loved visiting on Saturday mornings for breakfast and then the special treat; watching "Covered Wagon Theatre" on our black and white TV.  His family didn't have a TV so we spent all Saturday morning, after breakfast, watching westerns on our little screen TV.  Boy, those were the days.  Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger; they were our heroes.  During the rest of the week we would visit with one another and play cowboys and Indians.  I remember many times when I would knock on his door and ask his mom, "Can Bill come out and play?"  We even took Bill on vacation to the Chesapeake Bay with us one year.  Bill and I were reminiscing about our childhood today before he left for the airport.  "Remember the time when you came over and we got really wound up, opened the window of our second floor place, and started to throw toys out onto the pavement below.  Boy was my grandmother mad.  Never saw her mad at you like that.  Made you go home and called your mom," Bill recalled.  "Yeah, I had to spend a few days in my room for that," I replied.  Bill's mom moved her family to Manheim, PA after Bill finished 3rd grade and I lost one of my best friends.  In my junior year of college, Bill surfaced once again in my life.  He was also a student at Millersville State Teacher's College.  I managed to get him a job at the Acme Supermarket where I was employed.  Shortly afterward, Bill joined the Navy, but never forgot me.  We still keep in touch and get to see each other every year or so.  And, we still enjoy playing together as we did when we were elementary school friends.  But the excitement of throwing items has waned.  Now we only talk and laugh about the old days when cowboys and Indians were the only thing we had to worry about.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Bill's childhood home on Liberty Street.  Second floor; door to the second floor used to be on the far right.
Mrs. Good's 1st grade class.  I am in the rear left, Bill is 3rd from the right in the first row, and my other childhood friend and traveling companion, Jerry, is in the first row on the far right.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The "Feeling Savvy" Story

Foreword - They did it to me again!  Blogger made a change some time ago to a new format.  Hated it, but had no choice if I wanted to continue to use them for my stories.  Then one day a few months ago they changed back to the old format.  Loved it!  Maybe they had some vocal complaints as well as all of my eletronic complaints.  Today, yep, they did it again.  Now I can only place one photo in my story.  All others have to be at the end or beginning.  Oh well, maybe they will return again to the old one.  Just complaining!

It was an ordinary day.  Trying to delete the many emails that I don't want.  I get emails from HGTV, HomeAway, Barnes & Noble, Catalog Spree, MyLife Search, AuthorsDen, Zagat, ADT, etc.  How about you?  I'm sure you probably get as much unsolicited mail as I do.  I even send them messages to take me off their mailing list, but it does no good.  But, I do get quite a bit of mail that I enjoy reading. Some of the magazines that I subscribe to send me their web versions of the mag.  Some of the stories are the same as in the print edition while some are new.  And, many times they prove helpful to me.  I got one the other day from Conde Nast Traveler magazine telling me the top 5 secrets to savvy travel.  Thought I would share them with you, since I found them pretty interesting and informative.  Also, may save me a few bucks when I travel the next time.  First three secrets had to do with the right timing, as they called it.  They said to fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday since these are the off-peak days and it means lower fares and less crowding in the cabins.  Another tip was to buy airline tickets midday on Tuesdays.  That I didn't know.  Seems that airlines tend to announce fare sales on Monday nights, and other airlines match those sales on Tuesday mornings.  I'll have to remember that.  The final timing it right tip is to stay over Sunday.  Many hotels get Friday and Saturday night bookings from leisure travelers and Monday through Friday traffic from business travelers, so there's a void on Sunday night which increases your chances of an upgrade.  So, since it is cheaper to travel on Tuesday, I'm going to stay Monday night also.  An extra day certainly would be welcome.  Another secret concerns hidden deals.  They suggest that you have an airline credit card and a hotel credit card and use them when appropriate so you can build up perks and special rates.  For me, that sounds like too much trouble for the small perk you may get.  And the last secret is to find the right human beings!  Means that you should book using a travel agent who sends a large quantity of travelers to the same place you may want to go.  With large quantities the agent probably will get room upgrades or maybe an extra bar of soap or drinking glasses that are real glass instead of plastic.  Get the idea.  Hey, my travel agent, Karen, always gets me the extra soap and even some extra shampoo when I travel.  Of course the shampoo does me no good, but I do leave it for the next traveler so they feel special.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The "Only Time Will Tell" Story

It was an ordinary day. Checking my phone to see what time it was. Now that is usually a pretty easy job being that I keep my phone in my left front pants pocket, but if I forget to take it out of my pocket before I put my seat belt on it, it creates somewhat of a hassle getting it out of my pocket without hitting one of the buttons and having it make all kinds of funny noises. I stopped wearing a wristwatch about four months ago because I had lost some weight with the various diseases I have accumulated and my wrist seems to be smaller than it used to be. When I tried to check the time on my wrist, my watch was always upside down and pointed the wrong way. So I put it on my dresser and that's were it remains until I gain the weight back. My watch was a pretty neat watch. My wife got it for me a few years ago for Christmas. A Citizen Eco-Drive, whatever that means. Silver with a gray dial and a slot that gave me the day and date. Anyway, quite a few people stopped wearing wristwatches since they can check the time on their phone which is usually a pocket or purse away. For years experts predicted the demise of the wristwatch which was said to have been invented in Naples in the early 19th century when Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet made a wristwatch for the queen. Some said they would go the way of the vinyl record, cassette cartridge, even the Sony Walkman. So, I thought I would be fashionable and leave the watch on the dresser. Heck, a week of so ago Carol and I had lunch with our two sons, daughter-in-law and grandson and not a single one of them had a wristwatch on their arm. Pull out the phone if you need the time. But then I was reading in the paper that wristwatches are experiencing a renaissance. Big bulky ones! Retro style ones. And, watch companies seem to be coming out with real bright colors and high tech varieties. Even middle and high school kids are getting in on the purchase of wristwatches. Fossil, a popular brand for teens, said their sales had jumped 31% in one day a month ago after reporting a 12% jump in the last fiscal quarter. Seems that many consumers are slowly climbing out of the recession and rather than get an entire new wardrobe, they jazz up themselves with some new accessories. Matter-of-fact, some companies are planning their products and advertising to draw in the teen buyer. Stores are putting their watch displays close to the front door. I noticed more and more people stopped wearing watches about five or so years ago. None of the kids in the high school where I do the school printing had watches on their wrists, but they all had cellphones. Now I guess I will start to see more and more watches. Kids probably will think it is something new and will be the first to buy one and impress their peers. For me, I probably will put my watch back on when my wrist grows bigger. My guess is that by that time I'll need to replace the battery in it. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The "Crayfish and Ting" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Checked the answering machine and listened to a call from one of Carol's best friends.  I would say one of her oldest friends, but she may take that the wrong way.  Marg and her husband are getting back from New England after a vacation to take in some of the sights and food of the northeast.  Carol told me they were so excited about their trip because they were going to have lobster tail ....... for the very first time.  Yep, they are both on Social Security and have never had lobster.   Can't believe they just didn't have some in Lancaster and save themselves the cost of a trip.  Well, the call is about the meal when they had the lobster.  Didn't like it at all.  No flavor and dry.  What??  I've often wondered about the two of them, but now I know what the problem is.  They have no taste buds!  How can you not like lobster.  As Carol listened to the message a second time to make sure she had heard correctly, I opened my new issue of Caribbean Travel and Life to read an article about .... what else but lobster.  Writer was saying how much she loved lobster.  Nothing can compare with the juicy and sweet taste of the Atlantic lobster.  I agree and I also agree with her that the spiny Caribbean lobster doesn't have the same succulent flavor as the Atlantic.  But, then she goes on to talk about the Anguillan crayfish, also known as the Anguillan lobster.  You can find it in the waters off Anguilla which is a British West Indies isle.  The crayfish is a cousin to the Caribbean lobster, but much sweeter and tender.  Carol and I have made a few day trips to Anguilla while staying in St. Martin, but never had the chance to taste Anguillan crayfish.  Can you guess what we will have for lunch this year when we take a day and ferry to Anguilla in the spring.  The writer tells of having crayfish on a small islet called Sandy Island which is a shuttle ride from Sandy Ground Beach.  Beach bar makes them on grills that are powered with car batteries.  Slap on a little sea salt, black pepper, olive oil and lemon juice and all you need to go with it is a Ting.  Wow, I can taste it just by reading the story in the magazine.  As for the Ting, it's similar to Sprite, but with a citrusy flavor.  Made from the Jamaican grapefruit with just a hint of carbonation.  Sweetened with real sugar to take the tart taste away.  I love the soda, but I am told not to drink too many since it takes away the benefit of my cholesterol medicine.   For years I couldn't fine the drink around the northeast, but now the Pepsi Company has started to distribute it through my local Giant Supermarket.  Hey, I'm sure Marg never had a Ting either.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The "Provo on My Mind" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Starting to go through my cardboard box for the umpteen time to make sure I have everything I need for our soon to be trip to Providenciales (Provo) which is one of the islands in the Turks and Caicos chain.  The Turks and Caicos lie at the far southeast corner of the Bahamas Archipelago, approximately 575 miles from Miami, FL.  The Turks and Caicos Islands are comprised of over 40 islands and uninhabited cays including 8 major islands: Grand Turk, Salt Cay, West Caicos, Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, East Caicos and South Caicos. We have been there one other time and found it to be a perfect place to relax and do nothing.  As we did the last time, we will be traveling with our friends from State College, Jerry and Just Sue.  My cardboard box I'm looking through holds all the electronic items, passports, books, etc. that we will need during our stay. Provo is located on Grace Bay which is maybe the most beautiful beach in the Caribbean.  Sand is so soft and cool to the touch as well as feeling like baby powder. The average water temperature in the summer and fall is 82 to 84 degrees. Cockburn town is the capital of the islands that speak English and use the US Dollar.  Our last trip, almost 10 years ago, found the island at the start of a building explosion.  Seems tourists, such as us, found the islands to be so beautiful and inviting that they saw the need to grow and expand in hopes of attracting more tourists.  I'm anxious to see what they have done over the last 10 years.  Hope they haven't gone overboard like many other islands in the Caribbean. I've included a few photos from our last trip so you can see why we have chosen to return. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.   

Stunning colors
Carol and LDub riding with Provo Ponies
My chair is waiting
Lucky couple; Carol and LDub
Pathway to the beach
Carol in the surf
Amazing colors

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The "I'm Selling A Piece Of History" Story

It was an ordinary day. Getting some photos ready to take to Kathy’s Corner in North East, Maryland. Kathy sells quite a few of my Polaroid manipulated prints. Some of the most unlikely prints. I am taking a 14”x14” frame filled with 4 - 4”x4” prints of Penn State University. One features Old Main, one is the Nittany Lion statute, one is the old Creamery and the last one is the Joe Pa Statute that was taken down. Another print that I prepared was of the Hans Herr House in Southern Lancaster County. One of my favorite and most colorful prints that I sell. The print features the 1719 meetinghouse that is near Willow Street, PA. Hans Herr was born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1639. He was a descendant of the Knight, Hugo Herr. He joined the Swiss Brethren (later called the Mennonites) and became a bishop. He was the first Mennonite bishop to emigrate to America. When religious persecution became too great, he and many of his congregation emigrated to Germany. While in Germany, Herr and a number of his parishioners visited with William Penn in London and arranged to colonize a portion of what is now Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. They bought 10,000 acres of land on the south side of Pequea creek. This all took place in 1710. The Hans Herr House was built by his son Christian Herr in 1719 and is the oldest Pennsylvania German settlement still in existence today. It now is listed on the National Register of historic Places and is a museum which includes the 1719 house, the Georgian-style 1835 Shaub House, the Victorian-style 1890s Huber house, several barns and outbuildings with animals, exhibit buildings, blacksmith shop, bake-oven, smoke house, and a collection of farm equipment. The Hans Herr House is made of sandstone and with its irregular placement of windows, it is quite a contrast with the types of houses from new England. It measures 37 feet, 9 inches by 30 feet, 10 inches and is 1 1/2 stories. I haven’t been there is some time, but it is a remarkable journey back in time when you visit. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - the first two photos are how it looks today and the last two are some of my Polaroid manipulations that I sell.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The "Pumper '1'" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Saw a story in the local paper about a collection of vintage cars that had recently been purchased by Michael's Motor Cars.  They were located at 922 N. Queen St. in Lancaster.  Then I read the story again; 922 N. Queen St.  Hum ........ Hey, that's right across from where lived in the late 50s and all of the 60s.  Same building that my dad rented a space to keep his car out of the bad weather.  Dad used to give me the car keys and I would move the car from his spot to the wash bay so I could wash the car so it would look great for church.  Can't believe he did that not that I look back on it.  I was only 15 at the time, no driver's license, and there were many other cars in the garage.  Wow, he must have trusted me.  Anyway, I saw that one of the vehicles in the collection that had been purchased was a fire engine.  Not just any fire engine, but Lancaster city's first fire engine.  It was a 1830 pumper; Pumper "1".  Engine had been built by Lancaster native Martin Shreiner who was a clock maker until 1829 when he began manufacturing engines.  Engine was painted by Jacob Eichholtz who also was a native of Lancaster.  Jacob began his career as a coppersmith and in 1809 began painting portraiture painting.  He had a studio in Lancaster that in 1822 became too small so he moved to Philadelphia.  In 1833 he returned to Lancaster and was commissioned to paint the fire engine.  Well, after work I headed to 922 N. Queen St.  Pulled in next to a fantastic Packard, parked and headed into the garage.  Memories flooded back as I saw a fellow washing a car in the bay to the left.  Looked around the garage at all the classic and vintage cars and didn't see the engine.  Then a guy asked if he could help me.  After explaining about living across the street and all the rest of the story, he told me the engine is in another building next to Armstrong World Industries on Liberty Street.  Told me he was headed down there and if I wanted, I could follow him to the building.  Jumped back in the car and headed through the old alleys towards Liberty St.  In 5 minutes I was standing in front of the 1930 pumper.  Wow; Double Wow!!  Bright red and yellow with a big #1 painted on the side of it.  The detail work that Shreiner did on the engine was amazing.  Directly under the #1 was an outlet for the hoses to be attached for water supply.  The pumping was done by the firemen who grabbed hold of the metal handles on either side and pumped up and down.  On the front of the engine was a connection for a long wooden handle that had metal loops for the firemen to grab hold so they could pull the pumper.  The plaque on the front decried built by Martin Shreiner 1830 Lancaster Pa.; Rebuilt by Samuel Cox 1856. On either side of the ornamented plaque were two hand-carved birds.  On the rear was another plaque which stated "When Duty Calls It Is Ours To Obey,"  This plaque is also surrounded with elaborate colorful carvings.  The large wooden spoked wheels with metal runners completed the pumper.  Found out that the engine is going to be auctioned October 8th at Bonhams Auction House in Philadelphia.  What a historical day that will be.  Would be nice to see the engine return to it's native city, but I'd have to re-mortgage the house to make that happen.  it was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Overall view of the 1830 Pumper
Side of the Pumper showing ornamental woodworking and hose connection
Fire Bucket
Connection to attach the pole to pull the engine
Wooden pole standing on end with handles for the firemen to grab hold

Front of engine with names and dates of builders
Rear of engine with caption "When Duty Calls It Is Ours To Obey"

The "A Lifetime of Grief" Story

It was an ordinary day. Talking with my mom and sharing some photos with her from years ago. Not long ago I shared a story about my great-grandfather and his tour of duty working for Hubley Toy Company in Lancaster, PA. Well, a few more of the photos that my mom and I talked about were of my grandfather Joseph and my uncle Clair. They were members of my dad's side of the family. Both died before I had a chance to know them as did my great-grandfather Maris. My mom told me the story of how my grandfather died in 1926 at the age of 42. Seems he was working for the United States Postal Department at the local post office on Chestnut Street in the city. Had worked there for many years. While working in the handling room, a large parcel of mail struck him, causing injuries. The newspaper clipping that I shared with mom said that he died from complications of diseases after a brief illness. Not quite sure what transpired, but in today's society, more would have been done to insure justice for my dad's family because of the death. My mom could give me very little additional information about what happened. I do remember my Nannan (grandmother) telling me stories about what a great guy he was and how good a father he was. Had to be a tremendous tragedy for her as well as my dad and my aunts. But then, several years later, another tragedy struck my Nannan and her family. Her son and my dad's brother Clair died in an automobile accident. How can anyone endure two tragedies such as this in a lifetime? Clair was the manager for the football team at Lancaster High and was traveling to York for a game when the driver of the car he was riding in collided with another car on the Lincoln Highway near Mountville. Clair was riding in the rumble seat of the car and was catapulted from the car by the force of the impact. He died of a fractured skull. He was a member of the St. James Episcopal Church Boys Choir as was my father and myself. My dad's family suffered a lifetime of grief in a matter of years. It is a real tribute to my Nannan, my two aunts and my dad that they have overcome the adversity given to them in their life. Strong people!!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Top photo is my grandfather Joseph and bottom photo shows my dad on the left and his brother and my uncle Clair.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The "Politics: Fertile Ground for The Capitol Steps" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just leaving the American Music Theatre on Rt. 30E, about 5 miles from Lancaster. Performers tonight were the "Capitol Steps." The performers are a musical-parody group the gets their inspiration from the antics of politics and politicians. As you can see, there is a never ending source of material they can work with. And boy did they ever. "The Capitol Steps" began in 1981, with co-founders Bill Strauss, Jim Aidala and Elaina Newport, at a Christmas party in the office of former Senator Charles Percy. Like most things in Congress, they didn't know quite when to stop. Over the last 30 years they have recorded 31 albums and appeared on TV many, many times. Many of the performers have worked on Capitol Hill, some for Republicans, some for Democrats and some for members who can sit on either side of the aisle. Seems that the performers do their job so well that some of the politicians who they have poked fun at have since been defeated or have been placed under investigation. When they hear of a scandal, they don't think if it's good or bad for the country, but whether it's funny and what does it rhymes with. Tonight there were five members who performed with musical accompaniment from a fantastic keyboardist. They list 26 members in their troupe with many more musicians. Tonight, Corey Harris was a perfect match for President Obama and he had a few great routines. Tough to tell if they are right-wing or left-wing in the way they present the topics and songs. But, that's what make it so funny. You can interpret it in your own way. All topics aren't necessarily political. The TSA made for a great skit and song. But, Anthony Weiner and Chick-fil-A filled the place with many laughs. Some songs and parodies were rather spicy and suggestive and didn't fit in well with the extreme right-wing members of the audience. Easy to see who they were. No laughing, clapping or even looking at the performers when a off-color joke happened. And I will add that almost half the stuff was off-color. Carol and I came with one of her co-workers who have quite a few of their albums and have seen them several times. Will I buy an album? Nah, funnier in person. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The "Treat on a Stick" Story

It was an ordinary day. Passing the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania located in Strasburg, PA when I noticed something really unusual. There parked in front of the museum was an old white Ford truck. Not just any truck, but a Good Humor truck. The 1967 truck belongs to Mike who parks his truck in front of the museum on most weekends to sell novelty ice cream products just as the original Good Humor Man did back in the early 20s. The Good Humor company started in Youngstown, Ohio and became a fixture in American pop-culture and at its peak in the 1950s had about 2,000 trucks such as the one I was looking at today. After I parked the car and headed to the truck I noticed the traditional uniform that was worn by all Good Humor salesmen. The hat with the Good Humor badge, the black bow-tie with white dots and the belt money-changer. On the front of the truck, above the windshield, is the traditional row of four bells that he can ring as he makes his rounds around the neighborhood. Mike totally restored his truck to the condition that it was in 1967. Not only did he restore this Ford, but a few others that he sold to other "salesmen" such as himself. In 1976 the Good Humor company decided to sell their fleet of trucks and some people bought a truck to go into business for themselves. There are supposedly less than 100 Good Humor trucks still in existence today. Mike told me he knows of about 20 of them, some of which he restored himself. Mike sells 22 varieties of treats, most of which are on a stick. He does sell Klondike Bars, Sundae Cones and Chocolate and Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches, but the rest of the treats are of the popsicle variety. I bought my favorite, an Orange Creamsicle and after giving me my change, Mike did the traditional Good Humor salute. While I was there Mike sold a few other treats, but posedfor twice as many photos as he sold treats. Neat guy who brings back memories to the older crowd such as me. Mike takes great pride in representing the history of the Good Humor salesman and donates a portion of his sales to the railroad museum. As to what is Mike's favorite treat, the original Good Humor ice cream bar on a stick. What else could it be? It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos from the top are: Mike showing off his white uniform with the Good Humor badge on his hat and his black bow-tie with white dots, Mike's money changer, the bells on the top of the Good Humor truck, Mike with his selections of treats and Mike getting my Orange Creamsicle from the back of his truck.