Extraordinary Stories

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Friday, October 31, 2014

The "With A Little Help From My Friends in Room 4922" Story

It was an ordniary day.  Just walked in through the garage, opened the door and sat on my favorite lounge chair.  Hurt, but I'll get over it.  For the last 4 1/2 days I have been visiting in room 4922 of the Lancaster General Hospital in Lancaster, PA.
The hospital board on the wall at the foot of my bed.
Entered this past Monday to have Spinal Fusion surgery done by Dr. Kuhlengel who is part of the Lancaster Neuroscience and Spine Specialists.  He is one great guy who is not only personable, but one of the 100 best spine and brain surgeons in the country.  Since this was my third back surgery I wanted to make sure it was done correctly.  Well, not only was I happy with the results of the surgery, I was extremely happy with the girls and guys who took care of me during my stay.  Everyone from the nice young girl who brought me my meals and took my orders for the next day to the Nurses and Nurses' Assistants who tended to my needs during my stay. I must say that I wasn't that demanding, but when I did ask for help with something, they were closeby to help me.  Two of the girls just happened to be my nurses in September of 2011 when I had my last back surgery.  But Robyn, one of those two nurses from the past was a real sweetie.  Her pretty face brightened up my day just when the pain was returning after lunch when her shift started.  But my favorite memory from my hospital stay (if one could possibly have a favorite moment from being in the hospital) had to be Wednesday evening.  
Robyn, my second shift nurse and friend.
I had just returned from physical therapy where they made sure I could bathe in a shower, climb steps, enter and exit a car as well as lay in bed without bending or twisting my back.  I was just about exhausted and ready to turn off the TV and lights and call it a night when Robyn walked into the room.  She came to my bedside and asked, "Would you like to take a walk with me up and down the halls of 7 West? I saw you were cleared by physical therapy and thought you may like to walk."  I'm sure she saw my face brighten when I replied, "You know, it's been years and years since a pretty young girl asked me to take a walk with her.  I'm ready right now!"  No matter how tired I may have been, my energy level was on high.  The halls were empty and my walker squeeked on the shiny floor.  Our walk may have only been 10 minutes long, but I knew just then that I was going to make it through my time in the hospital.  So, my thanks go out to all who helped me during my stay.  Now it will be my wife's turn to lend me some aide.  She always was that pretty girl who took walks with me and will continue to be that girl once again.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy


PS - My apologies go out to my wife who had to give up her big day to play second fiddle to me on her birthday.  And thanks to all of you who have continued to check in every day to see when I would be retunring home.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The "Under The Knife, Again!" Story

It was an ordinary day.  5:30 AM and Carol and I are heading out the door on our way to Lancaster General Hospital in downtown Lancaster, PA.  Today is the day that I hopefully will get relief from all my back problems once and for all.  Two previous operations worked, but they seemed to be only temporary solutions for my stenosis.  This time I will have a Lumbar Fusion that perhaps should have been part of my last operation, but never happened.  I searched for the best surgeon I could find and have one of the 100 best neuro surgeons in the United States.  He told me he can help me and I believe him.  Got a call two days ago from the hospital anesthesiology department questioning me about the meds I take and asking if I am allergic to anything.  We talked about what will happen and what I can expect.  When we were done the nurse asked if I had any more questions that she could answer for me. "I have just one question.  Do you have WiFi?" I asked her.  Didn't hear anything from her for a few seconds, then she said, "I really meant questions such as how much will it hurt and how long will I be in the hospital.  They're the types of questions people usually ask.  You're the first one to every ask if there is WiFi.  And, we don't have WiFi in the rooms.  You can use a commons area, but we would rather not have you in those areas, since you may pick up something from someone in those areas."  I responded, "That's OK.  I just won't be able to publish my blog stories until I get home from the hospital."  So, if you check in over the next couple of days you may not see any new stories.  Not that I don't have any, but I don't want to get germs from visitors to the hospital.  I'll be back soon!  I promise!!"  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The "Tree Trimming Hawaiian Style" Story

The two tree trimmers can be seen in this photo.
It was an ordinary day.  Watching the tree trimmers mount the trees at the bottom and climb to the top in what seems like record speed.  The spikes on their shoes dig into the bark of the coconut palms that line the courtyard of the Kaanapali Beach Hotel in Maui, Hawaii.  I was standing next to one of the employees of the hotel who was telling me about the crew that was going from tree to tree trimming the seeds and the lower branches off the palm trees.  The palm trees were brought to the island years ago from Tahiti and Samoa.  The tall coconut palms where brought to Hawaii from Tahiti while the shorter ones came from Samoa.  None of the palm trees on the islands of Hawaii were native to the islands.  The two-man crew climb to the top of the Tahitian palms and chop away with their machetes.  
Here you can see how the trimmer is
held in place with a rope.
I asked the hotel worker what they make for risking their lives climbing the more than 80 foot high trees.  "They make $35 dollars a tree for the taller ones and $30 for the shorter palms," the worker said.  Also asked if most of the trimmers were native Hawaiians and were told native Hawaiians weren't dumb enough to climb the palms.  All the tree trimmers were from Tonga
.  I watched and photographed the trimmers for about an hour and during that time they both trimmed about seven or eight trees.  Remarkable workers that seem to fear nothing.  After the trimmers were finished another independent work crew came behind them to clean all the branches and seed pods from the area.  All crews are union labor and each has just one job to do.  After the group had piled all the trimmings in small piles around the courtyard they left the premises and the hotel grounds crew gathered the remains on their carts and took them to a recycle pile where they would be picked up and make into mulch.  Interesting procedure made very entertaining by the daredevil tree trimmers.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.


This photo and the following one shows the trimmer using his machete to trim the Tahitian palm trees.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The "Faces of Strangers: #24" Story

Raymond
It was an ordinary day. Just got out of the pool and was searching for my beach chair.  Walked towards a fellow who began telling me about the dark spot on the grass I was just about to walk across.  Told me that there must be a broken water pipe under the ground since the area was muddy.  I moved my chair slightly and listened as he told me about the irrigation lines that run about six inches under the surface of the grass.  I introduced myself with a handshake and he told me his name was Raymond.  He possessed a wealth of knowledge about the island of Hawaii and was more than willing to share it with me.  He was one quarter native Hawaiian with German, Portegese and English in his bloodline.  Told me that there are very few true native Hawaiians left anymore in Hawaii.  He was in charge of the grounds crew for the Kaanapali Beach Hotel with half a dozen workers under him.  Used to have close to twice that many workers a few years ago, but management decided to outsource many of the jobs his crew used to do.  Reasoning was that all the workers at the hotel belong to unions and the hotel could hire outside businesses for less money.  "They're only going to lose the native flair that the locals who work here possess and can pass on to the visitors at the hotel," he told me.  My wife and traveling friends Jerry and Just Sue started asking question after question and he was more than willing to answer everything we asked him.  Raymond was in his late 40s to early 50s and loved his job.  One of two that he held, since he also worked for the state grounds crew.  This fine gentleman who took his time to answer questions about the many types of trees and flowers as well as his personal life was a true ambassador for the Kaanapali Beach Hotel.  He eventually got the water leak repaired and was off to his next assignment with very happy and well informed travelers left in his wake.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

The "Faces of Strangers: #23" Story

Raymond quizzing us during the
Forrest Gump trivia contest.
Foreword - At times you meet strangers who just brighten your day.  While on vacation in Hawaii I met a few extraordinary strangers who made my vacation a bit more memorable.  Two of them happened to  share the same name: Raymond.  One was a server at a restaurant in downtown Lahina while the other was a groundskeeper at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel.  My story today will tell you about Raymond the server.  Tomorrow's story will deal with Raymond the groundskeeper.

It was an ordinary day.  Calling out answers to the trivia questions that Raymond is quizzing the 20 or so patrons sitting along the water at the Bubba Gump Restaurant in Lahina, Maui.  Carol and I, along with traveling friends Jerry and just Sue were searching for a place to have our evening meal and finally decided on Bubba Gumps along the north end of the waterfront shopping haven known as the town of Lahina.  We were seated quickly with an ocean view table and shortly this exuberant young man visited our table and began what would be one of the most interesting meals we would have on the inland during our visit.  The tall, thin young man with the bushy hair and diamond stud in his left ear was a true character in all the good ways.  We got to talking with him and found he was born on the mainland, moved when he was in his early 20's to a few different locations and ended up in Maui.  Has been here for almost four years and just loves it.  Took our drink orders and returned in a minute with two large glasses of ice water, each with two straws in them.  Placed them on either side of the table for the four of us and told us the story about a young couple who he had waited on who asked for one glass of water with two straws.  He saw how much in love they were and decided he would do the same for all his patrons seeing how romantic it was for the two lovers.  He was a constant blur as he waited on the tables around us.  Made sure our meal was enjoyable as well as entertaining.  Then, as we were talking together, we heard his voice above the din of the restaurant.  He was announcing a trivia game for his patrons geared toward the movie "Forrest Gump."  Question after question he gave with clues until he shouted "Yes" to correct answers.  20 questions later he declared we all did a great job and thanks for participating in his game.  I enjoyed my dining experience with Raymond probably more than the food I was served.  He arrived at our table with the checks and questioned Sue if she wanted him to wash her Bubba Gump special glass she had received with her drink.  Suggested she give it to a friend or grandkid.  Sue told him she had two grandchildren so she probably didn't want to take it with her.  Just as quick as that he produced another drink glass, washed the used one and packed them in a bag.  Most all our dining experiences from our vacation will be soon forgotten, but I will NEVER forget the dining experience I had that night with Raymond as our server.  A truly great young man who illustrated flair, charm and the knack to entertain while doing his job.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The "All Blocks Covered" Story

Honolulu ABC Store.
It was an ordinary day.  Swimming in the waters of the Pacific at the Kaanapali Beach Resort in Maui, Hawaii.  Water is crystal clear and the fish seem to be my constant friends as I paddle around in the surf.  Visiting the island with friends Jerry and Just Sue.  Jerry looked at me and said, "Did you ever try to snorkel before?"  "Never!" I said.  "Let's go back to the ABC Store and get a couple of snorkels and well snorkel together," was his reply.  Well, that was back in 1999 on our first trip to Hawaii and it opened an entire new dimension to vacation for Carol and me.  Ever since that trip the snorkel gear is part of our luggage when we travel to any place that has clear warm water.  But, my story isn't only about travel and snorkeling today.  It has to do with the store where I purchased my first snorkel.  Store known by the three letters of ABC.  
ABC Store in Kauai.
At the time I had no idea what the letters stood for, but it didn't take me long.  The ABC stores are a chain of convenience stores that are based in Honolulu, Hawaii.  The majority of the stores in Hawaii, but there are several locations in Guam, Saipan and Las Vegas where you can purchase just about anything needed for your vacation.  The company was started by Sidney Kosasa who opened his first store in Waikiki in 1964 under the name of "Mister K."  He later changed the name to make it easier to remember, thus the "ABC Store."  Mr. K, as he was known, was born in Palolo Valley, Hawaii and his first taste of retail began when he worked at his parent's grocery store in Palolo.  In 1949 he opened a pharmacy/conveniene store in Kaimuki, Hawaii known as  Thrifty Drugs.  The store was popular and lead to more stores with the same name.  While attending a business convention in Miami Beach, FL he noticed all the tourists that were visiting Miami Beach and realized he could open a chain of stores in Hawaii geared toward the tourists.  

ABC Store in Maui.
Didn't take long before his first store on Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki opened.  His son now runs the stores, taking over for his father.  There are close to 40 stores now in Waikiki within a one-mile radius of each other.  The intersection of Kalakaua and Seaside Avenue has four of those stores.  There are also stores in Oahu, Maui, the island known as Hawaii and Kauai as well as the stores in Las Vegas, Guam and Saipan.  During our trip this year we shopped in ABC Stores on Honolulu as well as in Kauai and Maui.  Great place to buy snacks for the beach and hotel room as well as souvenirs for the family.  Oh yeah, my friend Jerry told me that the ABC stands for All Blocks Covered.  Whether that is true or not doesn't really matter, but it does seem to be the basis for the stores.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The "A Shop Called 'Newt'"Story

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu.
It was an ordinary day.  Trying to kill some time before we head to the island of Kauai.  We are staying in a hotel in downtown Honolulu, Hawaii so we decided to head down the street to the pink colored place we could see from our 11th floor room at the Aqua Waikiki Wave.  Took the elevator to the lobby and headed toward the beach and the pink place.  
The window of Newt.
Wasn't long before we were on the grounds of The Royal Hawaiian Hotel situated on world famous Waikiki Beach.  The Royal Hawaiian is known as "The Pink Palace of the Pacific" and was built in 1927.  It was upgraded four years ago and now offers a new era of redefined luxury in 2014.  
"Newt" owner, Jim.
Walked the grounds and thought we would take a look at the lobby when we discovered a row of stores at ground level along the side of the hotel.  As Carol was visiting a jewelry store, I wondered past a few of the other stores. There, in one of the windows, was this beautiful "Aloha Shirt" staring back at me.   As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it.  Grabbed Carol and entered the shop known only by one word: "Newt."  Standing inside was this finely dressed gentleman wearing the neatest Aloha Shirt.  "I love that shirt," I said to him.  He replied, "I've had it for 7 years and it's not for sale."
Display showing the "classic" Hawaiian Shirts.
Well, we got to talking and before long I had selected a new "Hawaiian Shirt" for my collection.  The design is one of a kind and can only be found at the store called Newt.  Jim, the store owner, bought the store from Mr. Newton years ago.  The popularity of the Hawaiian Shirt or Aloha Shirt can be dated from July of 1939 when Ellery J. Chun began selling new Aloha Shirts in the King-Smith Clothiers shop in Honolulu.  
Another view of the inside of the store.
Mr. Chun's sister, Ether Chun Lum, created the designs on the rayon shirts.  They were so popular with the tourist trade that they quickly sold out.   "Newt" Tropical Sports Wear has remained true to the original designs of the Hawaiian Shirt in both pattern and cut.  The shirts date back to the original patterns of the 1940's and 1950's.  The shirts feature material that is fabric washed before cutting to eliminate shrinking.  Also has 12 stitches to the inch, real coconut or mother of pearl buttons, pockets that match the pattern of the shirt and vents for comfort and fit.  I had a hard time deciding between about six patterns, but finally chose the "Ti Leaf" design which features plants.  
Pattern on my new shirt.
The plant is considered sacred to the Hawaiian god Lono and to the goddess of Hula, Laka.  As Carol and I stood and talked with Jim, we quickly realized that we needed to return to our hotel to catch our flight to Kauai.  My visit was fruitful with a new shirt and a new friend.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The "Aloha Shirt" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Going through my closet trying to pick a few of my Hawaiian shirts to take along on our vacation to ..... Hawaii.  Didn’t buy most of the shirts in Hawaii, but ....... matter of fact, I don’t think I bought any of my Hawaiian shirts in Hawaii.  So, why do I call them Hawaiian shirts? 
My rather subdued print designs for vacation shirts this year.
I guess it’s because I always associate bright colored shirts with surfboards splattered across them or shirts with large brightly colored flowers and big green leaves as coming from Hawaii.  Well, I did some investigating and found that the shirts that should be  called Aloha Shirts.  All began back in 1820 when missioniaries from New England arrived in Hawaii and the missionary women devised the holoku for the larger woman of the island.  The long-sleeved, loose dress was meant to be worn in formal situations.  Under it was devised a chemise mu’umu’u that wasn’t meant to be visible until the 1940s when Hawaiian prints were designed.  The Aloha Shirt was born in the 1935 when shirtmaker Musa-Shiya used the term in one of his advertisements. He didn’t get the credit for the name though, since the following year Ellery Chun garnered the trademark “Aloha Shirt” as tourism began to grow in the islands known as Hawaii.  After WWII brighter images with bolder patterns arrived.  From 1945-55 Rayon shirts known as “Silkies” reigned. In 1962 Hawaii legislators approved wearing the Aloha Shirt during the summer months with “Aloha Friday” becoming a tradition for shirt attire on Fridays.  Then in the late 1970s designs from a new Hawaiian culture came about.  The designs became more subdued and became more acceptable for office attire.  Today’s shirts feature a more cosmopolitan feel to them.  My closet features a few with big bold prints, some that are silk with almost “Japanese” type designs on them and some subdued floral patterns.  I told Carol that I would like to add one more shirt to my collection, but it had to be something very different before I would buy it.  Well, I found just the shirt, but you’ll have to read about it tomorrow when I take you to the downtown Honolulu store called “Newt.”  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

The "International Market Place" Story

International Market Place as it used to appear.
It was ordinary day.  Talking with Jerry and Just Sue about some of the things we wanted to do while on vacation in Hawaii.  A few of the things that Jerry wanted to do were: visit the International Market Place, watch the changing of the guard and take in the breakfast buffet that we did on our last couple of trips.  Carol Googled the market place and said, "It doesn't exist anymore!"  "What!" Jerry exclaimed.  
Banyan tree at the market place.
Then she Googled the changing of the guard and ......  well, the same result.  And so with the third item we wanted to do.  Guess we were going to have to find new memories to explore.  When we arrived in Honolulu we checked in at the Aqua Wave Waikiki.  As Jerry was sitting on his balcony, five floors above ground level, he noticed a large area with construction taking place.  This was directly next to our hotel. Shortly, as we began a walk towards Waikiki Beach, we passed the construction site and lo and behold, it was the site of what used to be Waikiki's International Market Place.  The old market place seemed to be such a tropical oasis in the middle of Honolulu's 574 high-rises.  
Fence lining the International Market Place.
Shops selling trinkets and souriviners lined the half-block area which featured Banyan trees as well as Monkey Pod trees.  Tough to see it disappear.  And for what?  Well, another shopping mall.  It is said that some influential people decided that the tourists needed another shopping mall.  
One of the vendors.
Has to be difficult for the vendors, business owners and musicians who used to occupied spots in the market.  No more strolls under the huge canopies of trees or listening to the many musicians as they played Hawaaian songs from the past.  At the end of this past January, the market was enclosed in plywood walls and was demolished starting in April.  
Construction area.
Today as Carol and I walked past the construction entrance, I stopped to take a few photos.  Stepped acorss the yellow line at the entrance and was immediately approached by security.  Told me to step back across the line.  As I did, I asked if I could talk with him about the construction.  
Moving of one of the large trees.
He told me about moving of some of the old trees that will have new spots in the new International Market Place.  Then he told me about footers that were sunk for the new Saks Fifth Avenue.  Had to go down over 200 feet to bedrock.  Seems the water level where we were standing was about five feet, so quite a bit of pumping was needed to get to the the 200 foot level.  Target date for opening is sometime in 2016.  The new market will feature, besides the Saks, 75 retailers and 7 restaurants.  The construction company is located in the continental states, but only 5 bosses from the states are on site.  All the rest of the 1,000 construction workers are from the island.  And when the place is completed it will provide jobs for 2,500 locals.  Good or Bad?  Only time will tell.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an oridnary guy.

Projected new International Market Place.
  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The "It Missed Us!" Story

It was an ordinary day. The blinking red light on the phone in room 372 gave us the news.  Hurricane Ana has bypassed the island of Maui.  This morning I awoke at 7:05 and decided to take a look outside and see what had happened to the grounds of the Kaanapali Beach Hotel which has been our home for the past three days.  
Slowly pulled the curtains aside and stared at the  Tahitian palms that stood about 50 feet from our balcony.  No movement!  They were perfectly still.  Something must have happened since the phone message last night before we went to bed which said a state of emergency had been declared by the Governor of Hawaii.  Not only were the trees totally still, but a light mist was all the precipitation that fell on the manicured lawns below me.  Could we be in the eye of the hurricane where I always heard there was total stillness?  But, that couldn't have been the case or there would have been tremendous damage to the vegetation outside the window.  That's when the red light on the phone began to blink.  The hurricane made a turn to the south and would miss the islands of Hawaii.  Not sure if there was any damage to the island known as the "Big Island," which sits to the east of Maui, but we are safe.  Carol and I showered, dressed and met our traveling friends for breakfast to discuss what our day's schedule would be since we no longer had to worry about weathering a hurricane.  Just glad that our vacation only had a slight blip in it instead of a huge storm as we had feared.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The "State Of Emergency Declared!!" Story

Commons area on the 3rd floor of the Kaui'i building.
Notice the plywood covering the windows across from the elevator.
It was an ordinary day.  Listening to the message on our phone from the main desk at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel where we are visitors for the next few days.. Message was to tell us not to panic when we see the lobby windows boarded up.  Carol and I, along with our traveling friends Jerry and Just Sue, just returned from a day trip to a few small towns on the island of Maui and after exiting the elevator started to worry for the first time when we saw the windows on the 3rd floor commons area covered with plywood.  
Small store front in Makawao with
sandbags ready for flooding.
The weather today has slowly deteriorated with windy conditions and a heavy overcast sky.  At times the rain would begin, but then cease with sun showing through the clouds.  We ran between raindrops on our visit to both Pi'ia and Makawao on the north side of Maui. A few of the stores did have sandbags ready to position at their entrances upon closing. On our return to the Kaanapali we decided on a lower level and central parking spot in the parking garage in hopes of keeping the rental car safe from flying objects. The Governor of Hawaii, Neil Abercrombie declared a state of emergency to "allow us to respond quickly to any potential impacts."  Ana could cause dangerous surf conditions, coastal flooding and mudslides as it moves across the region.  
Another store in the town has an unusual name to it!
Some areas are expected to get between 8-10 inches of rain with a possible 12 inches in isolated spots.  As of noon today Ana was upgraded from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 75 miles per hour.  Hurricanes are a rare occurrence in Hawaii with the last one hitting Hawaii in September of 1992.  Iniki was a Category 4 storm that killed six people and caused $2.4 billion in damages.  
Latest National Weather Service scan showing Hurricana Ana.
The Hawaiian Islands are small specks in gray at about 11:00.
As I sit here on Friday on our 3rd floor balcony at 6:00 PM Hawaii time, the wind is beginning to sound eerie and the skies are gathering very dark storm clouds.  I can feel a slight drizzle, but not a constant heavy rain ........ yet!  I am posting this story very early on what I believe will be Saturday on the east coast of the USA, just in case we lose power and Internet service.  My camera is ready with 3 fully charged batteries, the cell phones are fully charged and my Kindle also has a full charge awaiting a day of bad weather.  And ....... yes, in the distance the Hula Show has just begun.  Nothing can keep these lovely Hawaiian beauties from swinging and swaying with their grass skirts and coconut bras.  May have to take a look, since my camera is waiting and fully charged!  The storm can wait until the show is over!!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The "Tracking Ana" Story


It was an ordinary day.  Watching Hawaii News and wondering if we will be trapped in our hotel room on Maui, Hawaii.  Started a few days ago when we were visiting Kauai and heard that Tropical Storm Ana had formed in the Pacific and was going to strengthen to hurricane force by the end of the week.  It was moving toward Hawaii’s Big Island which was just hit two months ago by another destructive tropical storm.  Ana was expected to become a Category 1 hurricane this morning as it headed toward Hawaii.  Winds were expected to be between 74 to 95 mph when it hit the Big Island on Saturday morning. Today we traveled from Kauai to Maui which put us on the island that is directly to the west of the Big Island.  The storm could possibly hit the island head on or maybe just clip the southern end of the island, but either way the storm’s effects would be felt up to 100 miles outside its center.  The storm that struck this past August knocked down power lines and trees and has everyone worrying that Ana will do more damage.  The approaching storm carries an Hawaiian name since it originated in the central North Pacific.  Carol and I have been traveling to the Caribbean as well as three trips to Hawaii since 1999 and have never been involved in a weather emergency, but it looks like our luck may have run out.  Our home until the middle of next week is a hotel on the west side of Maui and we are hoping the storm will pass us, but just in case we are in the middle of the storm, the hotel is well built and our sliders on our 3rd floor room look as if they may be hurricane proof.  I don’t want any harm to come to the island or any of the hotels in the area, but I must admit I am getting excited about what it may be like to be caught in the middle of a hurricane.  I’ll keep you informed, but if I miss a day or two of posts, you’ll understand why.  The wait is now on and the TV and newspapers continue to update the island’s population about the event.  Cancellations are already being announced as the government is preparing it’s residents for the worst. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The "Dr. Beach's Favorite" Story

Duke Kahanamoku Beach with
Diamond Head in the background.

It was an ordinary day.  Just got back from a tour on the island of Oahu which featured stops at Pearl Harbor, the Punch Bowl and a tour of the city of Honolulu.  After Carol and I departed the tour van a our hotel we decided to take a stroll to nearby Waikiki Beach.  
Looking toward the opposite end of the beach.
 Couldn't make a visit to Oahu without a trip to what has been dubbed by Dr. Beach as the best public beach in the United States.  The beach is known as Duke Kahanamoku Beach and was covered from one end of the crescent beach to the other with swimsuit clad patrons.  Beach towels of one color or another were spread along the white sand.  
Looking through the double line
of surfboards toward the beach.
 Surfers, body- boarders and paddle- boarders roamed the water from shoreline to an area off shore where the waves began to show white swells and foam.  Palm trees dot the edge of the beach where it meets the elegant hotels.  
The beach as the sun is about to set.  Photos galore.
 After a few photos and watching a surfing class, we headed back to our hotel.  After our evening meal we made another visit to the beach with our traveling friends Jerry and Just Sue to watch the sun set off to the right of the beach.  
Sunset is inevitable!  Silhouettes abound!!
 The beach was packed!!  People of all ages covered the beach as well as four to five deep along the edge of the beach. Cameras and phones were all pointed in one direction; towards the impending sunset.  I saw a group of three young woman dressed in kimonos posing for photos so I got in line.  The only disappointing event of the entire Waikiki beach experience was the sunset.  Not as impressive as many of the sunsets we have experienced in the Caribbean, but in all fairness to Hawaiian sunsets, the cloud cover wasn't helpful.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.



My three young friends. 
The Final Result!  Sunset on Waikiki.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The "Swimming At Martic Forge" Story

The original Martic Forge
It was an ordinary day.  Just finished with my story about my wife's childhood home in an area known as Martic Forge and while leaving the stone lane where she spent most of her young life, we passed a beautiful complex of stone buildings that Carol told me used to be the forge that gave Martic Forge it's name.  
Martic Forge as it appears today.
Just had to stop and walk up the road to take a few photos of the buildings.  Closeby was another very old stone building that had a plastic sliding board in front of it.  Carol told me that at one time the Jewish Community Center owned all the buildings that comprised the forge as a campground and the campers stayed in the row of buildings to the left with a swimming pool that was nearby by one of the old forge buildings.
What an early forge would have looked like.
Tried to "Google" the old Martic Forge, but found very little about it.  Did find that the oldest industry in Martic township was the iron industry which began at Martic Forge prior to the Revolutionary War.  Lancaster was rich in iron ore which led to the establishment of many forges in the county.  Forging is one of the oldest known metalworking processes.  
This looks like it may be the residence at the end of the
row of old forge buildings.
It was tradi- tionally performed by a blacksmith using an anvil and hammer, but then, in the 12th century, water power was introduced into the procedure and the forge evolved to meet the demands of the industry.  Records of when the Martic Forge was established don't exist and the first date I could find was the sale of the forge on March 17, 1737 to Abram, James and Thomas Smith.  
Another out-building of the original forge.
Also found the sale of parts of it from 1769 to 1883 when the Sheriff of Lancaster sold Martic Forge to the firm of Davis & Potts.  Robert S. Potts, who was the owner in 1883 was a relative of Issac Potts who was mentioned in Weems' "Biography of Washington" as being a man of note during the struggle of the colonies for independence.  During many of these years the forge was run mainly by slave labor and the burial ground of many of these slaves still exists on a road that leads from Marticville to Mount Nebo. I have found two ads taken out in The Pennsylvania Gazette that lists rewards for the return of slaves from the forge.  Interesting ads which follow:


September 25, 1760         The Pennsylvania Gazette 
THREE POUNDS REWARD,
RUN away from the Subscribers, living at Martick Furnace, in Lancaster County, an English Servant Man, named Samuel Jackson, about 25 Years of Age, has short black Hair: had on when he went away, a blue Cloth Jacket, old Leather Breeches, an old Shirt, and old Shoes, wears his Hat cocked, and is a confident looking Fellow; he is about five Feet six Inches high, well set, was in Lancaster Goal, and sold out for his Charges; he says he has a Wife living with one Bettey, in Conestogoe Manor; it is probable he may go that Way, and they go off together. Whoever takes up and secures said Servant, so that the Owner may have him again, shall have Three Pounds Reward, and reasonable Charges, paid by WILLIAM BENNETT.

December 2, 1762         The Pennsylvania Gazette 
RUN away from the Subscriber, living at Martick Furnace, in Lancaster County, an Irish Servant Woman, named Catherine Smith, of a middling Size, thick and lusty, brownish Complexion, betwixt 20 and 30 Years of Age, is pitted with the Small Pox, out mouth, and is of a bold Countenance, came from Dublin last Fall, and has the Brogue on her Tongue: Had on and took with her, an old Check Linen Gown, blue Cloth Cloak, blue Stockings, new Shoes, black Silk Hat, and Check Apron; it is thought she will make for Philadelphia. Whoever takes up and secures said Servant, so as her Master may have her again, shall have Forty Shillings Reward, and reasonable Charges, paid by THOMAS SMITH.
So, slave labor existed in Pennsylvania in the mid-1700s.  I have no knowledge of who may presently own or reside at the Martic Forge, but the beautiful building complex certainly has quite an interesting history that many in Lancaster County probably do not know.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The "Airline Emergency" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Standing in the back of the Airbus talking to Steve, the flight attendant for the first leg of our trip from Baltimore to Hawaii.  Carol and I, along with traveling friends Jerry and Just Sue, left from BWI Airport at 7:02 AM, heading to Phoenix, Arizona.  Part way through the flight an announcement was made asking if there were any medical personnel on board our flight.  Then I noticed a commotion about half a dozen rows of seats in front of me.  I could see the foot of a woman projecting into the aisle with a few passengers offering aide to her.  Another announcement was given asking if anyone had a glucose monitor.  Didn’t take more than a few seconds for someone to respond with the monitor.  Then Steve hustled past me with a bag of fluid which before long was hanging from someone’s suitcase in the overhead bin above the woman’s seat.  The cabin was still and quiet as the medical aide was administered.  Eventually things calmed down and the woman was placed across three seats to rest.  I headed to the rear of the plane to stand for a few minutes to relieve the pain in my back and leg.  While there, Steve returned to the rear compartment and I had a chance to talk with him about what had occurred.  He wasn’t sure exactly what was wrong, but said she had felt dizzy and faint and had a fever.  I questioned him as to whether this happens very often in flight.  “More often than you can imagine.  And, it never fails that there is a doctor or nurse available to help.  We have quite a bit of basic medical equipment and supplies in the plane, but they need to be administered by professionals.  People are always willing to help, since the law passed relieving doctors and nurses of any liability while in flight.  It is considered a emergency condition and they are not held liable if they attend to whoever may be ill.”  We talked about his role as well as his home base as an attendant for US Airways.  Then he asked if I needed help and I assured him I just needed to stand and stretch to relieve the pain.  He told me they don’t normally allow anyone to visit the rear compartment for any length of time, but didn’t seem to care if I remained for a short time longer.  Nice to know that the planes are medically equipped as well as having caring passengers who are more than willing to help in the case of an emergency.  On landing in Phoenix, medical personnel assisted the woman off the plane and we saw them taking BP and checking her vitals as we left the exit ramp.  Hoping the final leg of our journey is less exiting.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - The second leg from Phoenix to Honolulu was much the same with all passengers asked to wait until medical personnel can take the ill passenger off before we attempt to get out bags.  Twice during the same trip is a first for me. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

The "Lancaster's Hero and Patriot George Ross" Story

This engraving was done by Ole Erekson in 1876.
It was an ordinary day.  Driving in the car looking for the home of George Ross, famous Lancastrian and signer of the Declaration of Independence.  My grandson and I decided to spend a morning together and roam the streets of Lancaster looking for some neat photos to take.  We both are equipped with our cameras; me with my Sony DSLR and Caden with his iPod 5th Generation.  Told me that the camera in his iPod was just as good as my camera and who am I to argue with someone who grew up with iPods, iPads and iPhones.  
Monument telling were the home of
George Ross was located.
I had an idea that if we started with the George Ross Elementary School in the 800 block of North Queen St. and head east on Ross St. we might come to his home.
 I knew it was situated next to the Ross St. Methodist Church so we headed in the direction of the large steeple that we saw in the distance.  Sure enough, there it was at what was known as 312 East Ross Street, not far from where my dad lived as a child.  George Ross' home no longer stands, but is symbolized by a monument in the location where it had once been.  George was at one time one of Lancaster, PA's prominent men during the Revolutionary War along with Edward Shippen, Jasper Yeates and Adam Reigart.  
Closeup of the plaque.
Edward Shippen was the father-in-law of Benedict Arnold.  On May 10, 1730 George was born to Catherine Gezel and the Rev. George Ross in New Castle, DE.  He was home-schooled until the age of 18 when he left for Philadelphia to study law at his brother John's law office.  
Plaque on the Orange St. side of St. James
Episcopal Church showing those who
were parishioners during the Revolution.
Click on photos to enlarge.
Two years later he was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar and in 1751 began his own practice in Lancaster.  That same year he married Ann Lawler who was one of his clients and they eventually had three children.  Five years after that he was chosen to represent the crown of England as the King's prosecutor in Pennsylvania.  He was at one time a strong supporter of the King of England, but began to change his opinions and became a colonial sympathizer and patriot.  In 1774 he was elected to the First Continental Congress, receiving one less vote than Benjamin Franklin.  When tensions between England and the colonies heated up he became a Colonel in the Continental Army.  
The plaque in the church's graveyard
telling about the tree in memory of
George Ross.
On August 2, 1776 he became an American hero when he signed Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence.    He also introduced his niece, Betsy, to George Washington who eventually created our nation's first flag.  In 1777 he was forced to resign from the Continental Congress because of health problems.  He died two years later as the result on gout due to his fondness for rich food and wine.  Well, Caden and I took lots of photos of the monument in the 300 block of Ross Street and then headed to downtown Lancaster for a few more shots on George Ross.  Seems that Mr. Ross was a member of my church, St. James Episcopal, on the corner of Duke and Orange Streets.  After taking photos of a plaque beneath a large tree in the churchyard dedicated in Ross' honor, Caden and I  left the church and headed east on King Street to take photos in a local park of another plaque in front of a  sculpture made by Blanche Nevin. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.


On a monument in one of Lancaster's parks is this metal plate showing the signature of George Ross.    Pretty interesting to know the extent that Lancaster has gone to preserve our local heroes and patriots.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.



This was the home of George Ross in the "rural" section of northwest Lancaster, City.  The site of the monument now stands where this property used to be and the church is part of the site.