Extraordinary Stories

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

The "Lancaster's Barnstormer's Turn 10" Story

This was the original entrance to the ball field in 1938.  Still
remains today, but without the old ball field behind it.
It was an ordinary day.  Taking in a game at Clipper Magazine Stadium on Prince St. in Lancaster, PA.  I have written before about the stadium and the Barnstormers, but I never get tired of writing about baseball in Lancaster, past and present.  It was in 1938 that fuel oil dealer, Ed Stumpf, built a baseball stadium behind his service station along the Fruitville Pike in Manheim Township.  Not just any stadium, but one that could seat 4,000 people with a fence around the outfield and a big scoreboard in centerfield that someone would operate and hang the score on the board after every half-inning.  
Old black and white photo taken at the old Stumpf's Field
off of Fruitville Pike.  Spent many summer nights in the stands.
During the construction of the field it was determined that part of the infield, as well as part of the outfield, was very soft and mushy.  The area had at one time been a swamp before it was filled in and it seems that the fill had not totally taken care of the swamp.  So, 22 junk cars were placed in the large hole that was cleared to help make the area firm again.  It also seems that whomever layed out the field didn't do their homework since batters standing in the batter's box were looking right into the sun.  Even I could have been a great pitcher on a field like that.  I can remember many games that I attended as a young boy having to be stopped in the early innings to allow the sun to set so the batters could once again see the ball when it was pitched.  The field had lights for night games and Lancaster eventually captured a team in the Eastern League.  
This is what the field looks like today.  Used for adult leagues.
Our professional ball team was known as the Lancaster Red Roses while neighboring York, PA had a team known as the York White Roses.  This all went back to England's War of the Roses.  The field was also used in the early 50's as Manheim Township High School's football field in the fall of the year.  I was only in elementary school at the time, but I remember my dad taking me to watch a few games during those years.  Other events that were held in the ballpark were professional wrestling matches, soccer games, midget football games, high school baseball, home of the Lancaster New Era (Lancaster's evening newspaper) Tournament in little league baseball, Softball games featuring The King and his Court and even had a race between Olympic medal winner and Lancaster native, Barney Ewell, against Harrison Dillard.  
The outside of the new Clipper Magazine Stadium.
In 1961 the team was dropped and the stadium changed hands several times.  Today it has been converted into several fields that are used by adult leagues for recreation.  Well, this year the Lancaster Barnstormers, Lancaster's new team in the Independent League, celebrates it's 10th season at their stadium.  My son, Tad, managed to get tickets for the family from the company where he works.  They have a upper level enclosed field box that we used for the game.  Neat seats with indoor or outdoor seating and food to munch on during the game.  I naturally took a walk around the field during the game to snap a few photos.  The home team won in extra innings 4-3.  Check out a few more photos from the Clipper Magazine Stadium.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Getting ready to throw out the first pitch.
Singing of the National Anthem. 
Barnstormer's manager Butch Hobson.  He used to play for the Boston Redsox.
First pitch in the bottom of the 1st inning went for a homerun.  I managed to catch the hit off the bat of the Lancaster player.  
Lancaster pitcher firing the ball.
View from right field bleachers. 
Barnstormers Logo as seen of chairs.
Centerfield view towards homeplate.
Mid-5th inning dragging of the infield dirt.
Sparce crowd came to see the game today.  Here is one fan.
Scoreboard cameraman.
Neat giftshop with just about anything needed for the fan. 
Lancaster had a "Submariner" throwing in relief.  His hand just about touched the ground during his delivery of the ball. 
Team mascot "Cylo"
Neat view of the stadium.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The "Faces of Strangers: #21" Story

It was an ordinary day.  That was until the lady popped from between two cars on Cross Street and said "Take my photo!"  I pointed the camera at her and took a shot.  Then another one.  She was dressed in a beautiful orange dress, had a black leather purse over her shoulder, three strands of pearls around her neck, black glasses and an infectious smile across her face.  "And, who might you be?" I asked her.  She walked over to me, extending her hand, and said, "My name's Bonita . . . . . and what is your name?"  I shook her hand and told her my name.  We were both smiling at one another as Carol, my wife, looked on.  "Do you live in Chestertown (Maryland)?" I asked her.  She replied with, "I live in Baltimore now, but I grew up in this town.  I come back often to visit with my family.  I come back to go to church right down the street on the corner."  Carol and I have visited Chestertown many times and on several occasions we have had the chance to walk past the Janes United Methodist Church at 120 South Cross Street when a Sunday service was in session and the windows of the church have been open.  The flavor of the music emanating from within the church was nothing short of amazing.  CHURCH MUSIC WITH A BEAT!  AND, IT WAS LOUD!!  We could see dancing and arms uplifted, swinging in unison to the music and singing.  We had observed mostly African Americans entering the front door.  Often wanted to take a look inside, but never ventured into the church for fear we might not be welcomed.  I told Bonita, "Some time we would love to make a visit during a service."  She got a big smile on her face and said, "We really get the place rocking!!  You got to come and visit sometime.  Everyone would love to have you.  But, you have to rock with us!"  With that she continued on her way as we stared in her direction.  We just might have to take her up on her offer the next trip to Chestertown, MD.  It was another extraordinary day in the life if an ordinary guy. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The "A Trip Through Carol's Garden" Story

It was an ordinary day.  And, most of Carol's garden is in full bloom.  Every year since moving into our "Beach House", Carol has planted an assortment of flowers.  Not always the same each year, but still a large variety of colors and specimens.  I'll take you on a visual journey today to show you the color and variety that she has added this year.  This is only a sampling of the flowers in the garden, but will give you an idea of the extent of the flowers we have to enjoy. Hope you too enjoy them!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Miniature Rose
Black Berry Lillies
Gerber Daisy
Another Petunia
Variety of Elephant Ears
Day Lillies
Night-blooming Lilly.  Had to get up early to take this before it closed for the day.
The pink Hibiscus.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The "A Day In Chestertown, Maryland: Part III" Story

It was an ordinary day. Today"s collection of photographs were taken throughout the town of Chestertown and feature a selection of historic structures with a brief explanation of the historical importance it played in the founding of our nation. Chestertown is an interesting place to visit if you enjoy American history or architecture.  Many of our founding fathers made visits to this town which is located along the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay.  The sidewalks are lined with brick pavers, many of which were the original bricks that were put in place centuries ago.  As you walk along the streets, under the magnificent trees, you can almost hear the sounds of the drummer keeping the beat as the band marches along the street playing patriotic songs.  The American as well as Maryland flags fly proudly from many homes and businesses lending to the colonial atmosphere that is part of this town.  Make a visit and see if you don't agree. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

This is the Hynson-Ringgold House located at 106 S. Water Street.  This home hosted George Washington as an overnight guest in 1733.  Yes, George Washington actually slept here!  Other guests to the home were Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and James Madison.  This home was constructed in two stages with the front section, that is pictured here, being built in 1743.  In 1772 renowned architect and wood carver installed a paneled parlor and grand antler staircase.  In the 1920's the paneling was removed and installed at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Since 1944, the presidents of nearby Washington College have resided in this residence that features Flemish bond brick walls, hipped roof and Greek Revival style portico.  I just love the immense white birch trees that stand in the front of the home.

Standing at 103 North Cross Street is one of the most important buildings in Chestertown.  The Courthouse was  provided for in the establishment of the town.  This Courthouse was built in 1860 using a T-shaped plan with the main axis facing High Street.  Directly behind the courthouse stood a jailhouse. The Courthouse housed County records, land deeds, wills and court decisions.  It also hosted public meetings and in 1774 patriots met to protest the importation of tea from Britain.  James A. Garfield delivered a pro-Union speech in the original Courthouse during the Civil War and was pelted with eggs and rotten vegetables.  Slaves were also auctioned off on the granite steps of the Courthouse.  In 1892 a black man by the name of James Taylor was dragged from his jail cell and hung in a nearby tree.  In 1969 an addition was added to the rear of the Courthouse.

The top photo shows the eastern side of the Custom House while the bottom photo shows the northern side.  The Custom House is located at the corner of High and Water Streets and was the official Port of Entry into Chestertown, MD.  The original Custom House no longer stands, having been replaced by this beautiful Flemish bond brick building.  The large building was constructed in 1746 and was the home of Thomas Ringgold.  Mr. Ringgold was a lawyer, merchant and advocate of American liberty. The building was a three story house.  The first floor was used as a warehouse with living quarters on the upper two floors.   It was near this site that on May 23, 1774 a band of citizens, incensed by the closing of the Port of Boston following it's "Tea Party", allegedly boarded the British William Geddes' brigantine and threw it's cargo of tea into the Chester River.  It was also well known that defender of America's liberty, Mr. Ringgold, was also a large-scale slave trader whose ships brought hundreds of captive Africans to shore to work on the plantations of the surrounding Chesapeake area.  Following is one of the slave sale advertisements dated 1760.

This is Emmanuel Episcopal Church which stands at the corner of Cross Street and Park Row.   In 1772 the church was built on a lot deeded from Courthouse land.  Chester Parish Church made religious history in 1780 when clergymen renounced the term "Church of England" in favor of "Protestant Episcopal Church.  This church, under the leadership of the Rev. Doctor William Smith, was the center of Episcopal affairs in Maryland until 1793.  A little over a century later the church was remodeled and consecrated Emmanuel Church.  During the remodeling the sanctuary was moved to the southeast corner, the entrance moved to the northeast, the box pews were removed and the clear glass panes were replaced with stained glass.  Below is a plaque which is on the outside wall facing west.

The final two photos are of the White Swan Tavern located at 231 High Street.  The bottom photo is a Polaroid I took about 20 years ago and then altered it with wooden tools to make it look as if it were an oil painting.  It pictures the White Swan's entrance.  The tavern was a watering hole of sorts for General George Washington on one of his visits to Chestertown.  It was built in 1733 as a residence by Joseph Nicholson and the former owner's frame home is still at the rear of the building.  It was in the 1790's that the residence was enlarged into a tavern.  It eventually became a general store until it began to deteriorate.  In the 1970's it was restored and during the restoration over 70,000 objects were discovered from years past.  In 1981, about the time that Carol and I first discovered Chestertown, the tavern was brought back to life as a Bed and Breakfast as well as a tavern.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The "A Day In Chestertown, Maryland: Part II" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Roaming Water Street in the town of Chestertown, MD.  This part of town is known as the Chestertown Historic District and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970.  Chestertown is located on the Chester River on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and was the chief port for tobacco and wheat between 1750 and 1790.  In 1910 a devastating fire ravaged much of Chestertown, but most of the 18th-century homes survived the fire.  After having lunch at the Fish Whistle, which is located at the edge of the Chester River, Carol and I walked a quarter block to the north and began our self-guided tour of the Georgian style town houses. Today I will feature photographs I took along Water Street while tomorrow will feature photos taken throughout the town with some explanation as to the historical implications that the structure held.  If you ever get a chance to visit Chestertown, please do so and examine the buildings I have pictured here.  They are certainly more impressive than what a photo can achieve.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

( 3 photos) This home is know as Widehall and is located at 101 N. Water Street.  It was built in 1770 by Thomas Smythe who was a shipbuilder and merchant and perhaps the wealthiest person in Chestertown.  He was head of the Maryland Revolutionary Provisional Government from 1774 until 1776.  The mansion is of Georgian design with a five-bay (5 windows across) facade.  The house's name comes from the large space allotted for the entrance hall and staircase along Water Street.  The house was restored after the Hubbard's purchased it in 1905.  The tall two-story porch on the side of the home yields views of the Chester River.  The top photo is taken from the Chester River side of the house.
(4 photos) 103 North Water Street was built in 1796.  The house was originally five bays and 2 1/2 stories tall, until it later was enlarged to suit the Italianate style and the third story was added.  On the left side of the home is a two-story service wing while on the right side is a two-story oriel, or bay window, that is of the Queen Anne style.  If you look closely at the bottom photo taken of the upper floor, you will see the bricks from the original roofline and how the bricks were added to make it a true 3 story house.  The photo above the bottom one shows what appears to be black nails sticking out from the brick. (click on photos to enlarge)  The house originally had stucco on the surface of the brick.  The black extensions held the stucco in place.  Later the stucco was removed, but the nails remained.
(3 Photos) This home is known as the River House and is located at 107 North Water Street.  It was first owned by Thomas Smythe and is a National Register Landmark dating to 1780.  It is said to be one of the best, if not the best, post-Revolutionary homes in town.  It was built in the Federal Style with Flemish bond brick on the street side and American bond on the sides.  It has a three-story facade above an English basement.  Take a close look at the photos and you will see what is known as a keystone in the center top of all the windows from the basement to the second floor.  The posts in the front of the home are to tie a horse to them.  The bottom photo showing the side yard shows the access to the Chester River immediately behind the home.  There are no windows on either side except for the attic which are characteristics of homes built in Philadelphia.  The paneling and woodwork from a second floor parlor were removed in 1926 and taken to Winterthur Museum in was is now called the "Chestertown Room."
(3 photos) 109 North Water Street is known as the Watkins-Bryan House and was built in 1739 by Esau Watkins.  Mr. Watkins received the land as a wedding gift from his Ringgold inlaws and this home is thought to be perhaps the oldest surviving home on Water Street.  It runs perpendicular to the street and is of Flemish bond brickwork with alternating glazed headers.  Notice the brick pavement which runs the length of  Water Street.
(3 photos) The Perkins House is located at 115 North Water Street and features an all-header-bond-facade with glazed header pattern which can easily be seen in the bottom photo of the home.  The home was more than likely built for Simon Wickes sometime in the late 1700s.  There is a small porch with benches on the front of the home which was known to have existed in the 18th century Chestertown.  The middle photo shows the side yard with a dock along the Chester River.
(2 photos) The Frisby House is located on the town side of Water Street facing the water.  It was located at 110 North Water Street.  For generations it was the only home on that side of the street.  Most of the other land on that side of the street was reserved for gardens.  This house was built in 1770 for the Frisby family and is notable for its wide chimneys which are hard to see in my photos.   The house also features a brick belt between the first and second floors.
(3 photos) These are two views of 201 North Water Street which was built in 1780.  This house stands on the other side of Maple Avenue which is the street that crosses over the Chester River.  It was in 1805 that a wooden bridge was built across the river at the foot of Maple Avenue and this added greater importance to this home.  At the edge of the property once stood a small toll house that collected fees for passage over the bridge until it was made a free passage in 1890 and the toll house was removed. The middle photo shows Maple Avenue that travels between the 100 and 200 blocks of Water Street and is the passageway across the Chester River.  The photo that stood atop my story from yesterday features the bridge.