Extraordinary Stories

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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The "… but, I don't want to be a Pirate!" Story

The Pirates of Nassau Museum.
It was an ordinary day.  Carol and I are walking the streets of Nassau, the Bahamas.  We had just parked our car on Bay Street and our traveling friends Jerry and Just Sue set a time with us as to when we would meet back at the car.  We decided upon a two hour time limit and coordinated our watches.  Only problem was neither Carol nor I had a watch, so Just Sue loaned her watch to Carol.  OK, now were off to steal and plunder whatever we can find for two hours.  Carol and I walked toward the west side of the city and as we made a turn onto Duke Street, there in front of us was the "Pirates of Nassau" museum.  Something we had on our wish list to do, so we decided it was time to see what the life of a pirate may have been in the early 1700s.  We purchased our tickets at the gift store and headed into the museum.  As we entered we were greeted with a sign that read: The year was 1716 and the Golden Age of Piracy is at it's height.  The ship "Revenge" is moored alongside a Caribbean dock while her pirate crew celebrate a successful cruise.  The French Corvette is 130 feet long with 16 guns and a Pirate crew of 200.  Naturally there is a skull and crossed swords under the wording.  Before we began, a guide told us some of the reasons for being a pirate.  Merchant ships operated year round and spent months crossing the north Atlantic or navigating the shores of North America or Britian.  Most Merchant ships had a small crew of about 35 men which meant long hours and little rest in order to keep the ship moving.  Owners of the ships expected the captain to demand much of his crew and inflict cruel punishment if their job was not accomplished.  Because of that, it was a lot easier to be a sailor aboard a pirate ship where there were more sailors and an easier workload.  Therefore, many Merchant shipmen were tempted to become a pirate.  As we entered we read the sign that told us the dock that we were about to walk on had the Revenge moored to it.  Wow, pretty neat and authentic looking nighttime scene.  The ship is to our right and the rooming houses and taverns are to the left.  Carol saw a young man sitting on the dock and slowly walked up to him as I was taking a photo.  Manequin, but really looked real.  We walked to the end of the ship and entered onto the lower deck of this pirate ship.  To make my story easier to tell, I'll do it with the photos I took.  Hope you can get the feel for what a pirate ship would be like in 1716 in the city of Nassau, the Bahamas:

The dock in Nassau.  Ship is moored to the right with the shops to the left.
Life on board the pirate ship consisted of long periods of drunken idleness and brief periods of violent action.  The pirates were expected to carry out repairs and sail the ship.  Most of the time was spent gambling, drinking and manning the guns when another ship approached..  
The bow of the ship is where one of the most valuable man on the ship is located.  He is the ship's carpenter and is responsible for the constant repairs. 
The center of the ship.  Food and drink was stored here and was dependent on what they could rob from captured ships.   In the Caribbean the pirates ate turtles and fish.  At times chickens and a few live animals such as goats, cows and pigs could be killed for food.  A favorite dish was salmagundi and was a highly seasoned stew made from anything available.  I'm sure it had plenty of alcohol in the pot. The handrail was added for the display.  I'm certain that it wouldn't be there on a real pirate ship.
In the stern of the ship was locate the infirmary.  The carpenter usually was the surgeon on a pirate ship operating in a crude and primitive manner.  Many limbs were amputated to prevent gangrene and was done with a saw.  Mercury was used for syphilis and many lives were lost due to scurvy, yellow fever, malaria and cholera. Here the carpenter, on the left with arm lifted and holding a tool, prepares to cut the patient. 
This display was titled "Marooned" and the following was posted with it.
Click on it to enlarge it.
In 1718 King George I appointed captain Woodes Rogers, a former pirate, as the first Royal Governor of the Bahamas.  His main job was to dispense of the pirates and he arrived in Nassau with a Royal Pardon for any pirate who surrendered.  By 1729 he had succeeded in his mission.  Here he is interviewing ex-pirate Ben Hornigold and asking him to help him restore order to the colony by capturing the defiant pirate Captain Charles Vane.  The date is September 15, 1718.
After an uncooperative pirate was captured he was hung and the corpse was covered with tar to help prevent decomposition.  It was suspended in chains as seen here so other pirates would see the punishment they would get if they didn't cooperate.

Well, what ever happened to all the pirates.  By 1720 pirate attacks along the shores of North America had become so frequent that colonial governors and merchants persuaded the Admiralty to send out warships to track down the pirates.  They were captured and their crews put on trial.  Some were hanged as stated above.  With most of the ringleaders dead or in hiding, the great age of piracy came to an end.  But what about in today's society?  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The "Rossmere Sanatorium" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Looking through a book for which I did the layout and design titled "From the Beginning: A History of Manheim Township."  The book was authored by C. Nat Netscher and printed by Jostens which at the time was located in State College, PA.  Nat did a fantastic job of researching information that was included in the book.  Spent years with his research before he approached me and asked for my help with the layout and design of the book.  The 264 page book gives a thorough and accurate history of the township in Lancaster County, PA called Manheim Township.  
Photo of the Rossmere Hotel from 1898 when it opened.
I can still remember, while doing the layout and reading Nat's manuscript, looking at the couple of photos that featured The Rossmere Hotel.  The hotel opened in 1898 and was a showplace for travelers as well as locals.  It was bounded by Juliette, Janet and Francis Avenue as well as Marshall Street.  On page 8 of the book is a photo that was given to us by Ted Ardinger.  The hotel eventually enlarged in size and was known to host many an elegant dance for the wealthy families of Lancaster, but in 1925 the building became a tuberculosis (TB) sanatorium and the ballroom was converted into a ward for female tubercular patients.  In the early 20th century, TB was a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease in the United States caused by various strains of mycobacteria. Sanatoriums became common to help care for the sufferers of the disease.  It wasn't until 1943 when Albert Schatz discovered streptomycin, an antibiotic, that a cure was developed for TB. 
Shortly after that the  
Photo from 1957 shows patients on the porch of the
sanatorium in their beds.
sanatoriums began to close.  By the 50s TB was no longer a major threat.  The sanatorium that was housed in the old Rossmere Hotel closed in 1957 and eventually was demolished.  Just before the demolition a new Health and Welfare Center was  built ohm the same property.  But, to my mom, it was still a forbidden area of Manheim Township to visit.  We would often drive through the neighborhood while heading to my baseball games or visiting with friends  and had to turn the windows up in the car to prevent the TB virus from entering the car.  She was sure that the virus had invaded the area from when the sanatorium was in the neighborhood.  I was born in 1944, a year after the cure was discovered, and eventually received the vaccine, but mom still wasn't sold on it.  What surprised me the most was in the early 1960s when mom and dad bought a home on Janet Avenue, a few blocks from the Health and Welfare Center.  
A 1961 photo showing a snowscape that included both the
new one story flat roof Health and Welfare Center and the
about to be demolished Rossmere Sanatorium to the upper left.
The dreaded disease wasn't only my mom's worry I'm sure.  I have no proof of it, but my guess was that most people avoided the area that was close to the sanatorium.  I even found a photo dated 1957 that shows TB patients at the sanatorium laying in their hospital beds on the front porch of the place.  How scary that might have been for my mom had she seen that photo.  I'm not sure at what point in her life she accepted the fact that TB had been eradicated in the US and it was safe to frequent the neighborhood where her and dad eventually bought their home.  I would have loved to have talked to mom about her reasoning for her fear, but that will never happen.  I only have the memories of her fear of TB that must have haunted her.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The "Graycliff: From Chocolate To Cigars" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Trying to remember who told us about the place called Graycliff which is on West Hill Street in Nassau, the Bahamas.  Told us not to miss it before we headed home from our vacation and they sure knew what they were talking about.  Easy to find as we take Shirley Street until it makes a sharp turn to the right, but we take the slight turn to the left at that intersection.  Graycliff is situated next door to Government House and a few blocks from the beautiful crystal-clear water of the Caribbean Sea.  The hotel is kind of tucked away from all the touristy type places along the waterfront on Bay Street.  It resembles an old fort or castle and houses twenty elegant guest chambers and cottage suites.  
Dressed for action!
The rooms feature the charm and romance of the tropics as well as sporting a gourmet chocolatier factory and cigar company which is the reason for our visit.  As we drive along West Hill Street we enter through a gate that features a massive wall around it.  Find a parking space and follow the signs toward the Chocalatier Boutique.  
Our guide showing us the molds that are
hand-filled and leveled for cooling.
The smell is heavenly as we enter the store that fronts the chocolate factory.  Dark, milk and white chocolate pieces are available in solid bars or bits, filled bonbons, truffles, barks and cocktail pops.  Carol and I inquire about a tour and we are met by a young man who offers us hair nets and a full body hygienic coverall.  The tour starts by showing us the grinding and roasting of the cacao beans, mixing the liquid chocolate and filling the chocolate molds.  All procedures are in small scale and all done by hand in this factory.  The tour is short and interesting, and the best part is the free bonbon at the end of it.  I selected a chocolate and peanut butter bonbon while Carol picked the chocolate and bacon bonbon.  
The Boutique with bonbons on display in the case.  All hand-made.
We naturally had to buy a few of their candy bars and our choices included the Milk Chocolate and Milk Chocolate with Rose.  That went along with the bottle of chocolate pills we bought.  As we exited the factory we found that we were within walking distance of the Graycliff Cigar Company.  We entered and immediately smelled the tobacco leaves used in the cigar making procedure.  
One of the torcedores finishing the Double Robustos.
The company's original blend - The Graycliff - was blended by Master Torcedore Avelino Lara.  He once held the title of personal roller for Fidel Castro.  Since his retirement he has been part of the staff at Graycliff where he has created the Graycliff Professionale as well as the G2 blend and the Bahiba which is available only in the Bahamas.  His blends run from the buttery to the smooth and silky.  
Another torcedore checking the ring gauge.
As we stood behind the window watching the torcedores rolling the cigars, I asked if I might enter the room for some photos.  They told me to help myself and I had the chance to photograph the craftsmen as they were finishing they work for the day.  Most rollers I could not understand, but one woman was more than willing to answer my questions.  I did ask if they purchased tobacco from Lancaster County, PA where the Amish grow acre after acre of tobacco.  
Samples of the labels that are used on the cigars.
Not sure if she understood my question, since she just shook her hear and smiled.   Their blends are labeled with different colored bands with the black label being the most potent.  I'm sorry to say I didn't purchase one, but can still appreciate the skill it takes to roll one.  We exited Graycliff Hotel through their restaurant area where I saw a sign stating the Humidor Churras
caria was Bahamas' Best Steak House.  That will have to wait until our next trip to the Bahamas.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 
The entire line of cigars that are made by Graycliff.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The "Juicin' Up For The Future" Story

Note:  The following story is my recollection of what I was told.  I did take notes of my time spent during my interview, but whether I understood what was said is another assumption you may not care to make.  Therefore, what this story conveys is as accurate an account as I can remember it to be.  Read on ......

It was an ordinary day.  Talking with Sol about the solar panels that are on the roof of the high school where I used to teach.  Yeah, I know a name like Sol sounds like I made it up, but it really is his name, and what a perfect name to have to be in charge of the solar units of the school.  When the new addition was completed a few years ago, large solar panels were installed on the roof of the cafeteria to heat the water that is used for domestic purposes in the vicinity of the cafeteria. 
Borosilicate glass tubes filled with Glycol line
the roof of the Manheim Township HIgh School.
The heated water is used in the cafeteria for washing dishes, in the bathrooms and in the locker room for showers and for washing sports uniforms.  For years I wanted to walk up to the roof and see the solar panels and learn how they operate.  Well, I found the perfect person to take me on a tour and explain the unit to me, since Sol had worked for over 20 years at the various nuclear power plants in the northeast of the U.S.  He finally decided he wanted a different and safer job so he applied and was hired as an electrician for the Manheim Township School District.  Solar units and panels have been popular since the late 1970s as a way to cut the cost of electricity and heating for homes, businesses, schools, and even farming.  Solar radiation can be converted into electricity through the use of solar cells and you can reduce the need to burn fossil fuel as in the past.  And, the federal and state governments (actually all of us) reward you for installing these units.  The solar panels can be expensive and may take years before you will see any gain money wise, but you are helping to cut the carbon emissions into the air that are creating global warming.  Found out that a sunny winter day can create more energy than on a summer day, since summer haze can block the suns rays.  In the case of most solar panels which are found on roofs, solar cells generate the electricity.  At the high school, a different type of solar unit is on the roof.  In this case there are rows and rows of long tubes that connect together and have glycol flowing through them.  Glycol is similar to alcohol in that it doesn’t freeze.  In the second floor room of the high school, under the panels which are on the roof, is a 1000 gallon insulated tank that holds water.  Winding through the tank is the same tube that carries the glycol. 
Excessive heated water is sent to this
radiator-like unit to dissipate the heat.
The Glycol is heated as it passes through the borosilicate glass tubes and then passes through the water which in turn is heated to 140 degrees.  The unit can produce 60 gallons of hot water a minute.  The amount of heat produced when the temperature is 0 degrees Fahrenheit outside is 39,000 BTU.  Pretty impressive!  If it is too hot outside or the school is not actively using enough of the hot water, the unit can overheat.  In that case a valve opens and the hot water is sent back to the roof through a series of radiators where the heat dissipates into the air.  The unit is self-sufficient in that no electricity is needed to keep it operating and therefore no electricity is being used to heat all the water that is needed.  As for me, I have a series of different level roofs on my house that all face southeast.  Perfect for having solar cell panels to produce my electricity.  Maybe I wouldn’t have to be dependent on the electric company’s power grid for my electricity.  But, what would happen if ..... say 50% of the people in Lancaster County did this?  The other 50% of the people would still need the electric company to supply them with power and it would still cost the power company the same amount of money to create that power, so the cost per kilowatt hour for their power is going to increase tremendously.  What is going to happen in the future as far as solar energy is concerned?  I’m not sure anyone knows.  Sounds like it’s going to be expensive, though!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The "…. fins to the left ……. fins to the right!" Story

Our boat, "Zambizi"
It was an ordinary day.  Waiting for the bus to take us back to the RIU Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.  Carol and I, along with our friends Jerry and Just Sue, just returned from a snorkeling trip with Snorkel Bahamas in the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea.  We left from Stuart's Cove which is about 45 minutes from our resort.  
Captain Wendell and LDub
The Stuart's Cove diving center is a state-of-the-art watersports facility that features snorkeling as well as scuba and

SUB and was the movie set used for the 1996 feature film "Flipper" Starring Paul Hogan and Elijah Wood.  We boarded our boat named "Zambizi" which is a Newton 46 foot dive special.  The small marina where we are leaving from has a dock with about half a dozen dive boats tied to it and a series of wooden weathered buildings which house the dive shop, restrooms, boutique and a small restaurant.  
The girls getting their life vest in place.
Truly Caribbean through and through!  Our boat has about thirty snorkelers and a crew of three as we head through a small waterway towards the sea.  Open water allows us to pick up speed with Captain Wendell at the helm.  Our first stop is a reef at an island where a James Bond movie was filmed years ago.  After the boat is secured Carol, Just Sue and I put on our flippers, inflatable vest and snorkel gear and lower ourselves into the clear warm water.  
Members of the snorkel party on both levels of the boat.
The reef is covered with a variety of coral and sea plants, but the stars of the dive are the multitude of marine life.  I look towards the bottom, which is about 30 feet away, and immediately see a

stingray gracefully flying across the sandy bottom.  I turn in a different direction and see a variety of fish such as the Yellowtail Snapper, French Angelfish, Nassau Grouper, Redband Parrotfish and Yellowtail Damselfish.  As more divers enter the water the fish head towards us hoping that some of us will have food to feed to them.  I'm sure it is a morning ritual to them.  I make throwing motions with my hands and in no time have about 30 or more fish swimming in front of me looking for food.  This is perhaps one of the best dive experiences I have ever had because of the quality of water, calm movement of the sea and quantity and variety of fish that are on the reef.  
Divers holding to the rope during our shark adventure.
I'm the one with the red suit to the left.
After 20 minutes we head back to the boat.  When all are on board we head towards our second stop.  Another reef off the western coast of the island is our next stop which yields about the same view and variety of fish as our first.  Then, after all are back on board again, Captain Wendell addresses the divers and tells us about our final stop for the morning.  We will be diving in about 30 feet of water with ……. SHARKS.  The sharks are reef sharks and are allegedly not interested in making us part of their daily menu.  Those who choose to take advantage of this experience must follow the strict rules he is about to give us.  
The sharks have arrived!  Some are as large as 15 feet!!
One of the boat's experienced helpers will enter the water and place a buoy about 30 feet off the rear of the boat where we enter.  Everyone must wear their flippers to prevent any lost toes.  All will enter the water and grasp the rope with both hands and keeping their fingers tucked in, working their way towards the buoy with very little movement.  I am the only one of our group of four who is nuts enough to don my snorkel gear for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.  But, being smart as I am, I wait until almost all are in the water before I enter.  I want to be close enough to the boat to make a daring rush to get back onboard in case of a shark attack.  
Then, the chum bucket is placed in the water and drops to the bottom.  Instantly, as we all are looking toward the 30 foot patch of sand below us, the sharks appear.  
Fins to the left ….. fins to the right!
One, then two, then 10 and then more!!  The larger sharks are the females that are the most aggressive and the ones that have the biggest teeth.  After 10 minutes of watching the feeding frenzy below us, we all work our way back to the boat and board.  Then the chum bucket is slowly lifted from the bottom.  My camera is ready as I sit at the rear of the boat.  STRIKE!  One shark about 15 feet long hits the bucket that is still in the water.  
Returning to Stuart Cove.
Then another hits the side of the boat.  Holy crap are they big.  Their dorsal and tail fins are above the surface of the water.  "I think we need a bigger boat," I say to Carol as I picture "Jaws" all over again.  The sharks are sleek with large smooth heads and as they grab for the dead fish coming out of the chum bucket you can see their bright white teeth as they grasp the food and tear it apart.  Amazing …… as well as scary!!  I snap photo after photo.  Then I slip slightly and almost have a heart attack as I grab the railing.  Finally the chum bucket is on board and the fish begin to leave.  What an experience.  We head back to the watersports center after a fantastic morning of snorkeling.  After we dock we thanked the crew and captain and head towards our bus for boarding.  Well worth the $70 I had to pay for the once-in-a-lifetime experience.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - Click on any photo to enlarge it.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The "Faces of Strangers: #14" Story

 It was an ordinary day.  Riding on a Majestic Tours bus toward the airport in Nassau, the Bahamas.  Starting my trek home after two weeks of visiting paradise with my wife Carol and our friends and traveling companions Jerry and Just Sue.  Driving the bus is Tony who is a native of the island and has a wonderful sense of humor and a great personality.  A truly great ambassador for the islands of the Bahamas.  Jerry is sitting in the front seat to the right of Tony and I am sitting about half a dozen seats behind them both, along with Carol and Just Sue.  As we pass from the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, where we stopped for a few more travelers, into the city of Nassau I decide to move closer to the front to share the conversation with Tony and Jerry.  Tony tells me his name is really Anthony and he has been driving tour buses for 12 years.  We ask him if he has ever been to the States (USA) and he tells us about his aunt and uncle who live in Florida as well as an uncle who resides in Queens, NY.  Tony's friendly and infectious smile make it easy to converse with him.  We share a few stories and jokes as he maneuvers through the busy streets of Nassau driving the large bus.  He talks about his driving experiences and the lack of courtesy shown by many of the drivers on the island.  "Might as well just take the turn signal off the steering column and throw it away since most people don't use it," he tells us as another motorist cuts in front of him without any warning.  He stops to allow pedestrians to cross in front of him and tells us it is common courtesy as well as the law on the island.  You can see he has driven these roads many times as he maneuvers past the pot holes and raised sewer caps.  As we draw near the airport he gives us instructions telling us what to expect after he has dropped us off.  
Tony, our bus driver
"After you get your airline tickets you'll pass through US Customs and Immigration and then through security.  One of the few islands in the Caribbean where you go through customs and immigration before you leave the island," he tells us.  We depart the bus as he fetches our luggage for us, all the while with a big smile on his face.  I give him a tip and ask if I can take a photo of him.  "Sure," he tells me as he stands next to the bus with a big smile.  Thanks Tony for a great ending to our journey.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of ordinary guy.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The "Christ Church Cathedral of Nassau: Part II" Story

Church tower and clock
It was an ordinary day.  Walking the aisles of the historical 1841 Christ Church Cathedral in Nassau, the Bahamas which is Anglican/Episcopal.  As I near the right front of the church, I enter a dark mahogany pew, put the kneeler down and kneel for a prayer.  I give thanks for the opportunity to visit in this place of worship and kneel where many a famous person as well as commoner has knelt before me.  
The pipe organ of Christ Church Cathedral
 The history of this beautiful place was part of my story yesterday and will continue today with some of the interior  features of the church.  
The pipe organ has it's own history to tell.  In 1864 the original pipe organ was installed in the church which was manually operated until 1920 when an electric pump was installed.  
The non functioning pipes above the keyboard
 In 1935 the pipes were moved to the balcony or the west gallery at the rear of the church, but non functioning pipes remained above the organ in the front of the church, primarily for appearance.  Then, after nearly a century of service that included weathering a hurricane as well as a fire in the church, the organ was retired and replaced by a new one in 1954.  Again, in 1986 another new organ was installed which was featured in the American Guild of Organists Journal in 1987.  It has 3 manuals, 64 ranks and 3,200 pipes.  What caught my attention are the black keys with white keys for the sharp and flat notes.  Looks incredibly different than the traditional keyboard.  
Pipes were moved to the rear balcony of the church
 The organ is arguably the finest in the Caribbean.  The 1830 tower gained a clock in 1865 which was three feet lower than the clock that was placed on the tower in 1926.  The 1926 clock was made by Thwaites and Reed of London who are still in business today.  It is described as a flat bed turret clock which has a cast iron frame that sits on a horse of solid oak.  The wheels and bushes are brass with steel pinions and arbors.  
This photo shows the altar, candlesticks and cross
 The clock face is 48" in diameter of convex copper painted black.  The hands, minute markers and numerals are also copper with gold leaf decorations.  The altar, lectern, candlesticks and cross as well as other statues and paintings were all donated in memory of loved ones.  The Lady's Chapel, which was constructed in 1997, was made possible by a generous donation.  
Stained glass window above the altar
 The St. Martin's Chapel, dedicated to honor St. Martin of Tours is to the left of the main altar in which is kept the consecrated bread and wine in a veiled tabernacle.  The choir stalls which are on both sided of the main aisle in front of the altar have red cushions with embroidery on the rear seat cushions.  The main stained glass window behind the alter brings back memories of the window above the alter in my home church of St. James Episcopal in Lancaster, PA.  As I wander around the rear of the church I am met by a woman who introduces herself as the church administrator.  We talk about the church and I share some information about St. James which is slightly older that Christ Church Cathedral.  
Seating for the church choir
 She invites me to share in mass on Sunday with "The Dean of Nassau" who is the Reverend Patrick L. Adderley.  As I leave I get a chance to talk with the sexton of the church who shares a few stories of the church and church yard.  
Rev. Patrick L. Adderley blessing the wine
 I'm impressed with the friendly nature of the church workers, but guess I shouldn't be, since it is the same genuine interest that is shared by those at St. James in Lancaster.  I didn't make it back for mass, but my thoughts were with the church during that time.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The "Christ Church Cathedral of Nassau: Part I" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Standing in the back of Christ Church Cathedral at the corner of King and George Streets in Nassau, The Bahamas.  Beautiful Episcopal Church that was built in 1841.  This church has a storied past that rivals the history of most churches in the world today.  Christ Church Cathedral was established in 1723 and is the "Mother Church" of the Anglican/Episcopal Diocese of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.  The word 'Anglican' denotes that the church was originally the Church of England which came to the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands during colonial expansion.  Both countries were at one time British colonies.  The first church building for the Parish of Christ Church was built between 1670 and 1684 after King Charles II instructed the colony of the Bahamas to "build churches and chapels in futherance of the Christian Religion."
The original church was built to the west of the current church, but was destroyed by the Spaniards in 1684.  The second church, built to the east of the current church was completed in 1695, but was destroyed once again by the Spaniards in 1703.  The parishioners didn't give up and built a third church that was completed in 1724 at the site of the current church.  All three of these churches were built from wood.  In 1754 a fourth building was made at the current site using locally quarried cut limestone.  Twenty years later a steeple was added, but was taken down shortly afterward because of poor construction.  A new tower, the existing one, was added in 1830 and four years later the church structure was enlarged, leaving the 1830 tower intact.  This final structure and tower were opened for services in 1841.  It too was expanded twenty years later to make it the size that it is today.  It was at that time, 1861, that Christ Church became a Cathedral and Nassau became a city.  It is said that the Gothic style limestone block church is held together by size and weight, rather than cement.  It is a massive structure with extremely thick walls, but I'm sure it has other means of support beyond gravity.  
The interior of the church features beautiful mahogany pews completed in 1995, made by local craftsman Lloyd M. Toppin, to replicate the original pews.  The floor, also completed in 1995, is granite which was imported from Italy.  The gorgeous windows on the east side of the church were donated by Charles A. Munroe in honor of his son Lt. Logan Munroe, U.S. Navy who died in 1945 during WWII in the South Pacific while on active duty.  
One of the windows on the east side.
The remaining church windows were designed and hand-crafted in North Carolina and installed as part of the renovation that occurred in 1995.  St. James Episcopal Church in Lancaster, PA, my own church which was was built in 1744, has a rather large graveyard to the east of it's church which is the burial site for many famous Americans, but Christ Church in Nassau has only markers and plaques which dot the interior walls memorializing historical citizens and officials who were members of that church.  They do have, much like St. James, a Garden of Remembrance on the south side of the church which is for the interment of ashes of departed members from the past as well as the present.  
Cross erected by officers and crew of H.M.S. Peterel
On the interior rear wall of the church is a stone in the shape of a cross that reads, "Erected by the Officers & Crew of H.M.S. Peterel, to the memory of their Shipmates who died at Nassau, of Yellow Fever AUG. 1862."  The names of seven males and their ages follow.  Then at the bottom of the cross it says, "At sea of the same Fever" with three more names.  As I roamed the interior of the church I can "feel" the history and visualize the past of the church.  Many features remind me of St. James and the great history that is a part of that church.  Check out my story tomorrow for more facts and features of this historical and beautiful church.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

The Garden of Remembrance

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The "Scary, To Say The Least" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Showered, dressed, put my wallet and phone in my pocket and headed down the stairs to feed Creamsicle, the cat.  As Creamsicle was busy eating his prime filets of Ocean Whitefish and Tuna in sauce, I hustled out the back door to get the morning newspaper.  As I was scanning the front page of the "Local" section, I noticed an article titled A cellphone, a diagnosis, and a call for research that grabbed my attention. There was Dr. Oz staring back at me as well as a pretty young girl with the initials of TF from the neighboring town of Strasburg, PA.  As I began to read the story I reached for my cell phone and took it out of my left front pants pocket.  Wow, seems this poor girl had carried her cell phone in her bra for several years and at the age of 21 was diagnosed with breast cancer.  What made it eerie was that it was at the exact spot where she had carried her cell phone.  Just a coincidence?  Maybe, but then again, maybe not.  Showed it to Carol who had just come into the TV room where I was reading.  Her comment was, "That can't be from her phone."  This girl will have her story told on "Dr. Oz" this fall because, you see, she isn't the only one to have this happen!  There are other women and girls who have also had the same thing happen to them and Dr. Oz feels like it show be publicized to show there are chances that cell phones may cause cancer.  There was a study done stating that cell phones are not associated with brain cancer, but that's because the brain is protected by your skull.  As for the breast cancer ........ well only your skin can help to protect from any harm associated with cancer.  TF had to have her breast removed and went through radiation treatment.  Then, 11 months later, the cancer showed up in her hip as well as lesions on her skull, ribs, pelvic bone and spine.  She underwent radiation again and regularity takes a pill as well as undergoes an intravenous bone-building treatment to help cure it.  She looks and says she feels normal at this point.  Further research is now being done, but until the time that the research proves that it isn't associated with the cell phone, I'm not sure I'd want to carry my phone in my bra if I were a woman.  As for me, I'm really considering not carrying my phone in my front pocket.  TF's local oncologist said he no longer carries his cellphone in his pants pocket.  Not taking any chances.  TF and four other woman were part of a report in "Case Reports in Medicine", which is a medical journal.  Keep checking your newspaper to see when TF and perhaps some other women may appear on TV with Dr. Oz.  Anxious to hear if being part of the social media is really worth the harm it seems to do to people, both medically and emotionally.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The "An Applesauce A Day" Story

It was an ordinary day.  The smell from the kitchen is intox- icating.  Carol just finished making her famous applesauce which she eats all by herself.  Now, I love applesauce and I have it with just about every meal, but the apple sauce she makes has some little ingredient in it that signals my taste buds to bypass it.  Not sure why, but I'll stick to the store brand cinnamon applesauce that I buy every week.  One of the main reasons I eat applesauce with every meal is to get my daily dose of apples which allegedly has health benefits.  Matter of fact I read recently about the benefits as well as risks associated with eating apples. Apples are great for gum health since it prompts an increase in the flow of saliva which helps prevent tooth decay by lowering the level of bacteria in the mouth.  Apples also help stabilize blood sugar by slowing digestion of food and the entry of glucose into the bloodstream which helps in the prevention of diabetes.  Apples are rich in flavonoids that help prevent heart disease, provided you eat the skin of the apple.  They also fight high cholesterol since they are low in calories and high in the soluble fiber pectin.  But, I guess for me, the main reason I eat applesauce all the time is the fact that it helps prevent colon cancer because the natural fiber in the applesauce ferments in the colon, thus producing chemicals that help fight the formation of cancer cells as well as triggering cell signals that kill cancer cells.  Applesauce also contains quercetin which has been proven to protect brain cells from degeneration.  Now, I must tell you that it was tested in rats when it was found to protect brain cells, but I've been accused of being a rat at least once in my life, so I'm hoping that counts.  On the bad side, and I try not to think of this when I'm shoveling in my daily dose of applesauce, apples could contain pesticides since worms and other insects love apples so the growers spray to eliminate the pests.  My hope is that the applesauce makers wash them thoroughly before making my applesauce.  There you have it.  Six reasons to eat apples and applesauce and only one reason against it.  If I were a gambling man I'd love those odds.  Now, if I could only find the reason I don't like my wife's applesauce I'd ...........  but then maybe she does that so I won't eat it!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The "Faces of Strangers: #13" Story

It was am ordinary day.  Cloudless sky and the sun’s rays are starting to sizzle my tanning lotion so I grab my beach towel and Kindle and pull my complimentary lounge chair into the shade.  Jerry is already sleeping by the time I turn the chair around and spread the towel over it’s scratchy surface.  Jerry is my lifelong friend who came with his wife Just Sue to the Bahamas with Carol and me this year for our annual vacation together.  Had settled into the chair on Cabbage Beach and began reading my James Patterson novel when I notice a woman to my left also relaxing in the shade.  She’s sitting in the sand, leaning against the stone wall right behind us.  Spread around her on the sand are the wraps, coverups, bracelets and a variety of other wares that she peddles on the beach every day.  She has a pretty face, but most of the rest of her is covered in light colors to try to stop the intense heat from the Bahamian sun.  I watch her for some time then decide to walk over and sit next to her and ask her about her job.  She is reluctant at first to talk with me, but then realizes I’m not as threatening as she initially suspected.  As she speaks, I find her Bahamian English accent extremely interesting.  Most English speaking islands have their own peculiar dialect, but her words are easy to understand.  We talk about her two sons, aged 12 years and 23 months.  “They both are in school while I work.  My 12 year old is in public school while my younger boy is in nursery school” she tells me.  She starts her day walking the beach around 9:00 AM and covers the beach in front of the Atlantis Resort to the end of the beach in front of the RIU Resort where we now sit.  The sand is very soft and hard to walk, especially for one who is weighted down with all the items that she carries.  She is a life long resident of this island and only ventured off the island one time when she went to nearby Exuma to see the pink sand beaches that dot the coast of that island.  She doesn’t offer any information about a husband so I don’t approach the topic.  Her shirts and scarfs that she sells are purchased at a nearby warehouse, but the beads, bracelets, and the like are all made by her in the evenings.  Her day ends depending on the season.  In the off-season, such as the hurricane season, she usually quits around 2:00 PM, but when the beach is busy, she may stay until most are off the beach at 6:00 PM.  Can’t imagine having to carry the array of merchandise she does for that many hours and walking in the hot sun on the porous Cabbage Beach.  As I look at her I have a hard time trying to guess her age, but I know I dare not ask.  She looks older than she probably is, because of the environment in which she works.  Well, she decides it is time to get back to work, so she places a heavy cotton towel over her shoulder and begins to arrange her items over it.  I hold out my hand and tell her my name.  She shakes it with a strong hand and tell me her name is Marilyn.  “Oh, the name of my first love in elementary school,” I tell her.  She smiles as I snap a photo of her and give her a small donation for her two boys.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The "Walnut Heaven" Story

The walnut trees that sit on the hill
next to our drive.
It was an ordinary day. Need to sit down.  I just finished collecting 22 big buckets of walnuts from my lawn under the six English Walnut trees we have in our side yard.  Make that from my lawn, the street, the driveway and the neighbor's yard.  I tried to mow the grass right over top of them, but the mower was bouncing all around and the walnuts were flying across the street when I hit them with the mower blade.  Also, certainly not too good on the blade.  This is only the third time since we have lived in our "Shore House", as Carol and I like to call it, that I had to collect walnuts.  Normally the squirrels start to bury them in late summer as they start to fall or they sit on our fence and eat them and leave the shells behind, but this year there aren't many squirrels around the house.  
Lugging the walnuts to their home.
Probably due to the three stray cats that frequent our back porch looking for handouts.  Some summers there are very few walnuts on the trees.  I heard that when that occurs, it will be a mild winter because the animals won't need a large collection of nuts to eat.  Well, if that's the case, it will be a bitter winter this year.
Making the dump.
 I can't remember this many walnuts dropping from the trees.  What to do with them!  Some of the 22 buckets of walnuts went in the trash cans, but the weight of all will put me way over the 40 pound limit per can that the trash company asks of their customers.  So, I dumped them behind the fence along my driveway.  Thousands of them sit about a foot deep along the fence that slopes from the hill where the trees sit to the lawn on the other side of the fence.  At first I just started throwing them towards the fence, but after I discovered I missed with quite a few and had to pick them off the lawn on the other side of the fence, I went and grabbed the big buckets.  
Final resting place.
The sun was hot, the walnuts were smelly and the weight started getting to me as I finished.  But, the job is done and when the remaining squirrels that are still brave enough to frequent our property find the stash, they will be in walnut heaven.  I'm hoping the walnuts will decay over the winter and will act as mulch on the grasses that grow in the area where I deposited them.  Time will tell.  When my wife came home from work and saw me sitting on my favorite chair, she asked what on earth I was doing.  Seems that my hands were a dark shade of brown and the color of my blue shirt was also the same color.  "Hope that's not one of your favorite shirts, because you just ruined it!"  But, it is!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy