Extraordinary Stories

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

The "Reefers Make A Visit to LDub's House" Story

It was an ordinary day.  And NO …. I didn't go to the Jimmy Buffett concert held last night at Hershey Park stadium.  The ride is only about 25 minutes from my house, but the walk from the parking lot and the standing in place for three to four hours for the concert would have been a killer. Carol was so disappointed, and I even told her to go with someone else, but we did get to see the concert live anyway.  
She sent me an email during the week from her workplace telling me she found out we can watch the concert live on TV by accessing Margaritaville and streaming it onto our big screen TV.  Went to the local Apple store to find out what I needed and … Viola!  Well, it's showtime and our daughter and granddaughters are here to watch the concert with us.  Actually they came for a Labor Day picnic and are stuck watching the concert with us.  
Granddaughter Courtney took a photo of me and my harmonica
performing with Jimmy and the Coral Reefers. 
They all either fell asleep or spent the evening on their Smart- phones while the concert played loudly on the TV next to them.  Can't believe that don't appreciate a 70 year old musician singing about getting drunk and ………  As for me, I gathered up my musical instrument and played along the best I could to some of the songs.  That was until my wife told me to knock it off, since I was ruining the concert for her for the second time.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.   PS - the photos for this story are from my TV.  Evidently they didn't broadcast the concert in HD and the results show it.

Jimmy performing
Most of the 12 musicians on the stage at Hershey Park, PA 
Neat cheeseburger background with band in the foreground playing "Cheeseburgers In Paradise." 
His lead guitarist Mac McAnally.
Getting the crowd ready for "Fins".
Fins to the left and fins to the right.
Jimmy and his Coral Reefers on stage as they perform "Fins" and the TV screen is filled with sharks.
Meeting the band. Shows Mac, Tina, Jimmy, Nadirah and of course Mr. Utley.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The "Passing of a Wonderful Woman" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Just opened my Travel-TalkOnline (TTOL) website and found that a member's daughter had died.  I got to know Barbara, the TTOL member, this past winter when I communicated with her about making a stop at her husband Dee's store on Front Street in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten.  We emailed back and forth and I felt I got to know her and was hoping to meet her and her husband when Carol and I traveled to St. Martin this past May.  Well, we never got to visit with Barbara and Dee, but I emailed her and told her we would love to see her garden and meet the "gardener" (found out it was Dee) on our trip next spring.  She told me that would be great and I was to notify her when we were ready to return to the island.  Then I opened TTOL and found that her daughter, Erika, had died.  I can't imagine how one could survive the death of a child.  Tough enough going through the death of my dad and mom, but a child?  Evidently Erika had gone through a long battle with cervical cancer before her death.  
Erika's fundraiser for cancer research.
Seems that Erika had established an online advocacy website to help fund cancer research and awareness.  She titled it "Be The Change" and it was sub-titled "Together we fight - Together we win."  She stated that cervical cancer affects over 30,000 women in Latin America/Caribbean this year alone.  Carol and I sent an online message to Bar
bara and Dee expressing our sorrow at the lost of their child, but decided to go one step farther and opened the link to the "Be The Change" website and made a donation in Erika's memory.  If anyone reading this story would care to do the same, you can do so by accessing Barbara's story about her daughter at http://barcann.livejournal.com and clicking on the link to donate.  Barbara and Dee's life will never be the same, but they may be able to weather the storm knowing that others may be saved through the campaign and funds that their lovely daughter established before her death.  God bless them all!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The "Gathering around 'The Witness Tree': Part II" Story

This is an Artist's Proof of "Donegal Springs".  The artist's name
I cannot decipher.  It is a beautiful etching and perhaps my
favorite of all the work on display.  Others can be seen below.
It was an ordinary day.  My grandson Caden and I are halfway through our tour of the Donegal Presby- terian Church in Mount Joy, PA.  After visiting with Mr. Brian and learning about the main church, he escorted us to the newer part of the church where we got to see the Education Building.  Throughout the halls are artist's paintings and etching which depict the church and "The Witness Tree".    
This is the very large painting of the church with "The
Witness Tree" in front of it.  You can judge the size of
it by viewing the 4x8 foot tables in front of it on the floor.
I have posted some at the end of my story to give you an idea how others view this historic church.  We did see and photograph one very unusual painting that we were told is for sale.  It is about 8 feet wide and 4 feet tall and was at one time hanging on the wall in the Green's 5&10 Department Store in downtown Lancaster, PA.  I was tempted to make an offer, but had no idea where I could hang it in my home.  
This is the beautiful area where the spring (small circular area
in the mid-left side of photo) and waterway are located.
Eventually we exited the church and asked if we could walk to the nearby spring to take some photos.  Mr. Brian told us that the natural spring pumps million of gallons of water an hour.  Pretty impressive amount of water!  As we walked along the path to the spring and waterway, we saw a pair of white ducks who I assume were the homeowners of the waterway.  Caden and I both snapped photos as we looked at the water.  He pointed out quite a few very large rainbow and brown trout that were swimming in the water.  We were told that the water had been stocked with trout and one day a year the youth of the area are allowed to fish the waterway.  As we walked the ducks escorted us with a constant barrage of quacks letting us know that it was their territory.  
The red brick building on the right side of the photo is
known as the Kerr Study House which was built in 1810.
On our return we headed past the Kerr Study House which is a small brick home that is next to the church.  It was built in 1810 when the Rev. William Kerr was the pastor.  The house is used by the pastor and the church secretary.  
Nearby entrance into the Cemetery
The final stop today was at the Donegal Cemetery that was said to have been laid out when the original church was built, but didn't have any gravesides until 1732.  The stone wall and iron gates that enclose it were built in 1790.  
One of the gravesides marked with a War 1776 plaque.
As we walked through the graveyard we saw quite a few unmarked tombstones.  There were also small metal plaques that told who fought in our country's wars since the beginning of the cemetery.   As we headed back to the car we noticed quite a few very large trees that had been cut into pieces for firewood.  A recent twister had passed through the area and downed half a dozen trees, one which damaged the spouting on the main church and another that knocked over the large sign that announced to visitors the name of the church.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

I believe this to be a pen and ink drawing of the church and tree.  Artist's names on the three paintings I have pictured here I could not identify.
This is said to be one of the very few wintertime paintings of the spring and church that exist.  It is a watercolor.
Another beautiful painting of the church and "The Witness Tree".
A panorama of the cemetery.
Damage from a recent twister in the Mt. Joy area is witnessed here.
This is one-half of the entrance into the grounds of the Donegal Presbyterian Church.
Many of the photos for this story were taken by my grandson Caden.  This one is a "selfie" that he took in the car as we headed home.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The "A Blazing Sawmill" Story

The home of Lancaster County's Robert Fulton.
It was an ordinary day.  Carol and I are headed once again to have lunch at Chesapeake City, MD.  We decided to take another route today, heading first to Quarryville, PA then picking up Rt. 222S which would put us eventually on Rt. 272S towards the town of Northeast, MD.  Not our final destination, but that's OK since I needed to drop off some of my altered Polaroid prints at Kathy's Corner first.  
This is a hand-colored lithograph from 1856 showing Robert
Fulton birthplace done by John H. Sherwin.  The image shows
two a couple in a carriage drawn by a team of four white horses.
As we headed south on 222 I noticed quite a few street signs calling the highway Robert Fulton Highway.  Just about every place in the USA has someone famous that was born there and this little area where we are now traveling is no different.  We passed into Little Britain Township, so named because the mother country of most of the Scotch-Irish farmer immigrants was England.  
Robert Fulton
As we rounded a turn in the country road we came upon a blue state marker stating that it was Robert Fulton's birthplace.  Really neat little house that was at one time home to one of our country's most famous inventors and painters.  On November 14, 1765 Robert Fulton was born in the house.  Seven years later the family lost the farm and his family moved to Lancaster where his father worked as a tailor.  As a teenager, Robert worked as an apprentice jeweler in Philadelphia painting small portraits for brooches and lockets.  
Another view I took of his birthplace.
It was in Philadelphia that he was exposed to science and inventions.  In 1787 he traveled to England to study painting and his creativity and engineering skills led him to make many inventions.  He is most famous for steam-powered boats, but he also drew plans for a horse-drawn canal-digging machine, prefabricated iron bridges and aqueducts, explosive underwater mines and the "Nautilus", a submarine that could be armed with torpedoes or mines.  He eventually went into business with Robert Livingston, an American Chancellor to France, to make a steamboat that lead to the history making demonstration on the Hudson River.  It was on August 20, 1807 that Fulton took on paying passengers and freight on the "Clermont".  
An artists drawing of the "Clermont" steamboat.  It was said
that a farmer witnessing the maiden voyage ran to is home
along the Hudson yelling, "Lock the doors, the devil is coming
up the river in a blazing sawmill!"
Then in 1810 he and his new partner, Nicholas Roosevelt, built the steamship "New Orleans" in Pittsburgh.  It was launched a year later and traveled to its namesake.  Well, I hoped out of the car and took photos of the really neat stone house that has been restored to it's original condition.  Just had to have something to show when I wrote about one of the most famous of citizens who was born near my hometown of Lancaster, PA.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The "Gathering Round 'The Witness Tree': Part I" Story

The historic Donegal Presbyterian Church in Mt. Joy, PA.
It was an ordinary day.  Sitting on a small bench in the sun and if I close my eyes real tight I may be able to envision the group of parishioners and their English minister from the Donegal Presbyterian Church along Donegal Springs Road In Mount Joy, PA joining hands around the large white oak tree in front of the church,
This plaque appears on the wall outside the main door.
vowing allegiance to the cause of the patriots for, you see, on June 16 The Reverend Colin McFarquhar was preaching from the pulpit when a horse rider arrived from Philadelphia to inform parishioner Col. Alexander Lowry that he was being called to gather his battalion and march to the Delaware River.  
The remains of the "Witness Tree".  
The entire congregation immediately walked outside to the large tree in front of their church, joining hands for their vow.  Tough to do for their minister who had prayed every week for the King of England and now was joining forces with his congregation against the British who had invaded Pennsylvania that September in 1777.  The tree they had gathered around was known as "The Witness Tree."  It stood at the entrance of the church for over 260 years until in 1991 it succumbed to drought and old age.  The very base of the tree still stands in the courtyard in front of the church while the "great grandson" of the tree stands nearby as a reminder of the history of the tree.  
The plaque that appears near the tree.
Click on any photo to enlarge it.
Inside the church is a framed piece of one of the branches of the tree that has a brass plaque that simply says: Witness Tree - Donegal Presbyterian Church.  For years I had wanted to make a trip to the church to see the tree and the historical church, but never made it.  Today my nine-year old grandson Caden is tagging along with me as we pulled into the parking lot and parked the car.  I handed him the camera and told him to document our trip to this church.  After explaining what that meant, he put the strap around his neck and turned on the camera as we headed to the front door of the church.  The church was founded prior to 1721 by settlers from the North of Ireland who built the first church from logs.  
Close to the "Witness Tree" stands this
monument that lists the names of the
original families that were part of the
church during the time when the
congregation gathered around the tree.
Clicking on the photo will enlarge, but I'm
to say you still won't be able to read them.
May have to return again and take a better
While looking at a list of original members I noticed one familiar name ….. my own.  A family of Woods' were parishioners of the original church.  My Nannan (grandmother) always told me I was Scotch-Irish, and now I know for sure.  The church we are standing in front of was built before 1740 on 200 acres of land that was deeded to the congregation by the sons of William Penn.  The original deed hangs inside the building.  Originally itinerant ministers preached in the church until 1727 when the Rev. James Anderson moved from New York to be installed as the first full-time pastor.  At the front door we are met by Mr. Brian who asked if he could help us and soon we were standing inside the neat old church with walls over a dozen inches thick.  He told us that the original pulpit stood in the middle of the church along a side wall and during a remodeling in the 1800s was moved to the front.  
The interior of the church with member pews.
On the far right were a few benches for their choir with a piano in the front left.  On the right side of the church stood an old wooden organ.  He told us that during remodeling they moved the church pews around, making them all the same distance apart.  To do that they just cut up the old benches and re-used them so some pews stand higher than others and have raised panels on the ends of the aisles of varying sizes.  
The pipe organ that stands along the
side of the church.
Also during that remodeling the earthen floor and brick aisles were replaced with wood.  During another renovation in 1958, central heating was being installed in the church when a skull of a horse was found under the pulpit.  It was surmised that the horse had carried stone to build the church and after a sudden death, was honored by burial beneath the pulpit.  It was an old Irish custom that such burials brought good luck.  It was in 1960 that the Christian Education Building was added with the same style architecture as the original church.  Well, Caden and I walked from the back of the church with Mr. Brian toward the Education Building for another history lesson, but that will have to wait until tomorrow's story. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - many of the photos for this story were taken by my grandson while others I snapped.

As we left the church I just had to snap a photo of the door knob which I just used.  Can't imagine how many generations of patriots must have touched this door knob over the lifetime of the church.  I can now say I touched it also.
This is the original deed granting 200 acres of land.  It is deeded from the sons of William Penn. 
An old postcard featuring the church and nearby graveyard.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The "Pearl of the Chesapeake" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Found myself sitting on the rear deck of Waterman's Crab House in Rock Hall, MD having a crabcake sandwich, fries and a bowl of cream of crab soup.  Our friends from State College, PA, Jerry and Just Sue, made a weekend visit to our home in Lancaster and we all decided that we hadn't made a trip to Rock Hall for quite a few years so today would be a great time to take that trip.  Rock Hall is known as the "Pearl of the Chesapeake."  
This moment is located along the waterfront in Rock Hall.
The water- front town was founded in 1707 and at first was a tobacco port which was visited many times by George Washington as he traveled from Virginia to points in the north.  Today the town is best known for it's fishing and seafood industry with Maryland blue crabs, oysters and rockfish as some of it's major offerings.  
Deck at Waterman's Crab House.
We made our way from Lancaster, south on MD Rt. 213 to Rt. 20 which we picked up to the north of Chester- town, MD.  As we approached Rock Hall we noticed cars parked along the sides of the road.  Something big was happening in the town today.  Happened to be the annual Pirates and Wenches Fantasy Weekend which featured the Grand Buccaneer's Ball as well as live entertainment throughout the town.  
A Pirate made a visit to our table to make
sure that we were behaving ourselves.
The Ball just happened to be at Waterman's Crab House later in the evening.  We were treated to not only water views of the Chesapeake Bay and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge off in the distance from our table at the restaurant, but sightings of many a pirate as well as many wenches dresses in their ..... well barely dressed in their rather revealing tops and wrap-around whatevers.  Our neighbors, a group of six guys at the table next to us, were celebrating the birthday of one of their group and eating dozen after dozen of blue crabs.  Have been celebrating the gentleman's birthday at Rock Hall since 1998 with crabs and beer.  
A friend at the table next to us displays his blue crab.
They were nice enough to share some conver- sation and crab eating tips with use during the course of the hour we spent with them.  After a walk around the dock area to admire all the fabulous marine craft, we found our way out of Rock Hall and headed back home.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 
Removing the plate on the bottom of the crab.
Cleaning the lungs and the innards from the crab.
The results you can eat.  I find it so much easier to order my crabs as a sandwich so I don't have to go through all of this. 
As they finish another dozen arrive at their table.  
This one seems to be trying to escape.