Extraordinary Stories

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

The "From Hotel to 5&10 Market" Story

The Cecil Hotel in North East, Maryland sometime in the 1920's.
It was an ordinary day.  Looking at the small display case in Cramer's Antique Market on Main Street in North East, Maryland.  Had lunch with our friends Jerry and Just Sue in Chesapeake City and decided to take the 15 minute drive to explore the shops that line both sides of Main Street in the small town.  It was in the late 1600's that the first Europeans found and established a village for fishing, trade and farming along the Northeast River.  
The old Hotel Cecil sign that hangs in the 5&10 Antique Mall.
Before then, the Susque- hannock Indians lived off the land and river that is a feeder into the great Chesapeake Bay.  In the 1920's, The Cecil Hotel stood on the west side of Main St. welcoming visitors and guests to the town.  The building eventually became "Cramer's 5 & 10" where the residents of the town could do their Christmas shopping.  
The hotel then became Cramer's 5 & 10 store.
Cramer's Christmas Catalog featured a Buck Rogers Sonic Ray Gun for $2.29 as well as a Saucy Walker doll for $15.95, prices which I'm sure were fairly expensive for that time period.  All items were made in the U.S.A. it was stated in the catalog.  Then, a Mr. Dave McDaniel, the retired chairman of the 1st National Bank of North East, purchased the building and renovated it to house 60 antique dealers and named it the 5 & 10 Antique Market.  
The inside of the antique mall as it appears today.  The
candy counter still remains as in years gone by.  
The photos I am looking at in the display case show the history of the building with cars and dress from earlier periods.  The two story mall still features the candy cases that once housed the penny candy as well as gourmet chocolates.  Glass jars filled with peanuts Swedish fish and jawbreakers still bring back memories of past times for those who grew up in North East.  I've purchase a few items over the years in the market such as a Wallace Nutting photograph and a Phillies baseball bobble head.  Neat looking through all the old stuff, wondering if some of the items of mine that my mom threw out over the years might be sitting on the shelves or display cases of the store.  
As I left the musty smell of the store, I snapped a photo to share to show you what the store looks like today.  Much the same as it did when it first opened to the public as a hotel in the 1920's.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.
The 5 & 10 Antique Market on Main St. in North East, MD.

Friday, January 30, 2015

The "The House were President Buchanan slept" Story

The Stockyard Inn viewed from the west side of the building.
The "Lookout" still remains on the roof of the old farmhouse.
It was an ordinary day.  Talking with Athena at the entrance to the Stockyard Inn in Lancaster, PA.  She and her husband Tom and son Jim are the owners of perhaps the oldest continuously operating steakhouse in the United States.  Carol commented to her that when we got home she must write a positive review on the website about our evening experience.  Seems there are a few negative comments about the service and food at the restaurant, but we found just the opposite to be true.  We have frequented the restaurant many times during our marriage and have never had a bad meal or experienced anything but prompt courteous service at the upscale restaurant.  My Crabmeat Au Gratin and Carol's and our son Tad's melt-in-your-mouth Filet Mignon done medium rare were fabulous.  The waitstaff was extremely attentive and courteous and the white linen tablecloths and napkins as well as the soft table lighting in the beautiful dining room made for an extremely memorable evening.  The reason for our trip to this beautiful building is to celebrate the recent birthdays of Carol and myself.  Our son Tad was kind enough to treat us to an evening of fine dining.  The building is the original farmhouse that was built in 1750 on the northeastern border of colonial Lancaster.  The lookout tower on the top of the farmhouse, which still remains, was an important feature to help scout hostile Indian attacks.  
The charm of hand-fashioned custom woodwork and elegant
table settings is the tradition of the Stockyard Inn. 
The original owner of the property remains unknown.  Samuel Stambaugh is the first recorded owner of the property when he purchased the property in 1835 for $2,500.  My childhood home is less than a quarter mile from this historic property on what is now State Route 501. Used to walk past it everyday while heading to Brecht Elementary School.  The most famous owner of the Stockyard Inn is perhaps James Buchanan who purchased the property in 1856 while he was President of the United States. In 1864 the Pennsylvania Railroad purchased the Inn as well as the 23 acres surrounding it with the intent of developing a stockyard along the railroad's main line.  In 1895 the stockyards was founded along the boundary of the city of Lancaster and Manheim Township.  Cattle, hogs, sheep and horses were sold and traded for the next hundred years until it's demise in the mid-1990s.  
This is one of my altered Polaroid prints that I did of the
Lancaster Stockyards before they were demolished.
More than one time as a child was I called into the house because cattle were running in the streets in front of our house.  The Lancaster Stockyards was the largest stockyards east of Chicago and the cattlemen found the Stockyard Inn to be a great place to find food and shelter.  On auction days you knew you could find the cattlemen in the barroom with their horses tied to the railing along the Inn's porch. That porch as well as the beautiful woodworking throughout the Inn still remain.  In 1952 the Stockyard Inn was sold to the Fournaris family who still are owners today.  The stockyards have disappeared, but the Inn still flourishes with their steaks being the centerpiece of the restaurant. Their steaks are hand-cut and trimmed in their own butcher shop.  Carol and Tad talked about having a filet for months.  Seems that every time Tad called to make reservations for the evening, they were filled.  Finally found an opening and we got to enjoy a fabulous meal in the old farmhouse.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.



Thursday, January 29, 2015

The "Searching for a Read: Part VII - Mercer Tiles" Story

Foreword:  My stories on St. James Episcopal Church are slowly coming to an end.  Over the course of my posts I have taken the text and photos written by Franklin & Marshall professor H.M. J. Klein and long time church and vestry member, William F. Diller and  tried to make it more manageable to read.  I'm sure I have inadvertently deleted some important features or may have misinterpreted the text and changed history somewhat, for which I am sorry.  I have thoroughly enjoyed writing these stories about my church as I recuperated from back surgery and hope you enjoyed reading my interpretation of the history of St. James.
  

St. James Church altar surrounded with Mercer tiles.
It was an ordinary day.  Standing in front of the altar of St. James Episcopal Church in downtown Lancaster, Pennsyl- vania taking photographs of the biblical tiles that were installed in 1916.  The three-dimensional, hand-painted clay tiles tell the stories of the Bible in remarkable artistic renderings that are fashioned from clay.  
Henry Mercer - 1856-1930
The artist of these tiles is archaeologist Henry Chapman Mercer who founded the Moravian Pottery & Tile Works in 1898 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.  The name of his business came from the Moravian cast-iron stove plates from which he eventually obtained his tile designs.  The Salem United Church of Christ (a short distance from his tile works), the Fonthill Museum (formerly Mercer's estate), the Mercer Museum, a church in Baltimore, MD, and the Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, PA are thought to be the only other places besides St. James  that feature biblical tiles, since the designs were never duplicated after these installations.  
The Moravian Pottery & Tile Works in Doylestown, PA
The designs for Mercer's tiles were inspired by stove plates that date back to the 16th century, primarily from Germany.  German immigrants in the 18th century tried to replicate the stove plates, but were not the craftsmen that their forefathers were.  The stove plates would line the inside of a stove on all sides and many of them featured biblical stories.  
A stove plate is part of the fireplace design at the Deitz
Refectory at the Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, PA.
Eventually stove plates fell out of favor leading to their near extinction until the early 1900's when they became collector's items.  Henry Mercer acquired a large collection of the intricately designed stove plates and eventually made plaster casts of the designs so he could use them as molds to make his tiles.
One of the tiles in St. James titled "Wedding at Cana,
Changing of water to wine."  This is from St. John 2:1-11.
Notice the colors and glazes on the tiles.
He imprinted the designs on the clay with a hand-operated tile press and applied glaze with a method capable of producing a large range of colors and different effects.  Mercer later wrote a book called The Bible In Iron to tell the tale of his bible tiles.  
This tile is titled "Miracle of the oil." On the left - Widow
approaches the prophet; center - Widow pours oil from
  miraculous jug; right - Man pours oil.  From II Kings 4:1-7.


The tiles in St. James came about during the Arts and Crafts Movement in America which was from 1875-1920. I took photos of many of the biblical tiles and then found that our church secretary, Karen, had designed a small pamphlet titled "Chancel Tiles" telling what verses of the Bible are associated with the different tiles in the church's apse.  
A tile titled "Peace" which is represented by Mennonites.
I should mention that at the time I was reading about the Mercer tiles as described in my Foreword, there was an article  published in our local newspaper telling about the Mercer tiles at the Lancaster Theological Seminary.  I gave the Seminary a call and made a visit to view their tiles which I must say are less colorful and dramatic than the tiles I am standing in front of at the moment.  
The beautiful and glowing Mercer tiles line the
main aisle of St. James Episcopal Church.
The St. James tiles were installed, as stated before, in 1916 and then in 1927 the weathered carpet on the church's floor was replaced with Mercer floor tiles.  Then again, a few years ago, during another renovation, more Mercer tiles were added in our new Narthex.  I know a two-dimensional photo cannot duplicate the beauty of the three-dimensional colorful tiles, but you can still get an idea of Mercer's artistry and what the parishioners of St. James get to see all the time when they attend church services at the historical church in downtown Lancaster.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  
PS - remember to click on the photos to enlarge them.


Here you can see the Mercer floor tiles leading to the altar.
Another photograph showing the apse with the Mercer Chancel tiles.
Looking towards the west side of the church.  Tiles line the floor from front to back.
One of many individual tiles that add artistic balance to the Chancel tiles. 
"Garden of Eden" scene from Genesis 2
Corner tile titled "Miracle of the widow's oil" from II Kings 4:1-7
This is part of the new construction that was recently finished.  The tiles are new Mercer tiles and are part of the Narthex.  Directly through the windows can be seen our new fountain to the left and the windows of the Chapel hallway to the right.
This photograph is from the St. James website and shows the church steeple in the center with the Narthex to the left.
This is a photograph I took years ago from the church steeple.  It shows the original courtyard which is the same area in the above photo where the fountain is located.   In my younger years I was not fazed by climbing the winding and narrow steeple stairs to exit onto the landing where the church bell was located.  The cross in the courtyard was made from a large tree that had died.  The Chapel is the building at the top of the photo.  
And finally, the inside of the brochure that was designed and printed by our church secretary, Karen.  Click on the photo and you can see all the tiles that are part of our Henry Mercer Chancel Tiles.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The "A Momento For A Football Great" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Recently finished framing four football jerseys and one basketball jersey for a customer at Grebinger Gallery and Lancaster Picture Framing in Lancaster, PA.  Took some time since I am still not allowed to work more than an hour or so a day due to my back surgery in late October.  The customer who had us do the jerseys also brought in 22 District III football medals which included three that were state championship game medals.  They were medals that the coach of the Manheim Central High School head football coach, Mike Williams, had earned during his tenure as head football coach at MCHS which is located in Lancaster County, PA.  
Lancaster Newspaper photo taken in 2003 of Mike and his
team after winning the State Championship.  Game was
played with a constant snow falling throughout the game.
Mike coached for over three decades at the rural school in Lancaster County and amassed an impressive record of 348 wins, 75 losses and 3 ties.  This past season was his last as head coach.  His teams had won 20 Lancaster-Lebanon League section titles, 16 District III titles and a State Championship (2003).  There are about 16,000 high school football programs in the United States and Mike has to have one of the most impressive records of any coach that every coached in any of those schools.  My son-in-law Dave, who coached at Quince Orchard High School in Maryland and now coaches at Urbana High School, has coached for 11 years now and has over 100 wins already and may someday be able to have the same thing said about his programs.  Our customer wanted us to frame the 22 medals so that they could be presented to Mike as a memento of his accomplishments as head coach.  The final result that I came up with looked rather impressive and I thought I would take you through the steps I used to complete the job.  Easier to show you rather than try to explain it, so the following photos will give you an idea what is involved in creating a memory box worthy of one of the greatest football coaches in the history of high school sports.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

I have cut the mat (32" x 40") with the 22 openings and spaces for the years that the medal was won.  This shows the back side of the mat along with the gray mat board where I will place the medals.
These are the patterns that I have created to do the job.  The large mat is an exact duplicate of the top mat while the small blue rectangles with a hole cut in them will help me center the medals in the openings that have been cut.
With the use of the patterns, I can hot glue the medals in place.  After gluing I can remove the pattern to be used on the next medal.
After gluing a row of medals to the bottom mat board I cut openings in the mat board so I can force the ribbons through them.
This shows you what the medals look like after being attached and the ribbon placed through the mat board.
On the rear of the mat board I staple the ribbons to the foam board which is attached to the rear of the mat board.
The pattern is still used to position all the remaining ribbons and metals to the bottom mat board.
I have placed the final gray and maroon (school colors) mat board on top to see if everything looks fine.
On the rear of the top mat I attach the pieces of paper that hold the year that the medal was won.
On the rear of the mat board I place a double layer of 3/8" foam, over the pieces of paper I just taped in place, so the board will be raised 3/4" above the medals.
This shows the final job, medals and dates in place, next to the frame whichs hold the glass.
The final result.  Turned out fantastic and worthy of hanging on the wall of one of the best high school coaches that every coached football in the country.
Photo of Mike Williams after receiving his gift of the framed medals!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The "LDub's Suggestions for a Memorable Vacation Experience" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Checking my emails and found a link that took me to The Huffington Post travel section.  Funny how these things just pop up when you hit one of the icons or photos. Well, the story in the travel section this particular day was titled "How to Travel Like a Local in Barbados."  No problem for us, since we have been there a couple of times with our friends Jerry and Just Sue.  Could have written the article myself. Some of the suggestions that were given to travel like a local seems vaguely familiar, so I decided to rewrite the entire article myself using my ideas and photos to make you feel more at home if you ever travel to Barbados, one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean that we have been lucky enough to visit.




Taste Everything.  A trip to the Oistens Fish Fry is a must on any trip to Barbados.  We had such a great time on our trips to Oistens.  Small shacks line the area along the water which sell the fish that Barbados is famous for, the flying fish.  Yep, they really do fly across the water and kind of freak you out when you see them coming towards you.  To go along with the fried flying fish is mac and cheese, coleslaw, peas and beans, baked beans, potato salad and naturally a Carib or Ting.  The top photo shows the town at dusk, just before it comes alive along the waterfront.  Middle one shows one of the small stands and their array of treats for the travelers as well as locals.  Bottom shows the sun setting over the beach at Oistens.

Think outside the car and cab.  Some of the best means, and most exciting and entertaining, of travel on the island are the privately owned van-sized buses.  Meant to hold perhaps 10 passengers, but usually hold double that.  Wait at the bus stop until a van pulls up and the door flies open.  The conductor, the guy that flings the door open, will take your money and point to a place to sit in the jam-packed bus.  Really a fun time.   Photo shows Carol jammed into the front seat next to the driver.  Just Sue is sitting in front of me to the right.  Reminds me of an amusement ride with jamming on the brakes and fast accelerations, at least as fast as a cab carrying upwards of 20 people can accelerate.
  
Have a Lime.  Not the fruit, but the party type.  Head to St. Lawrence Gap strip where the locals hang out at a variety of rum shops and bars. Plenty of eating and drinking establishments to put you in a lim'in mood.


Get "off-the-beaten path" souvenirs.  A piece of pottery at the Earthworks, a CD of island music or an original batik from Henderson Reece's Batik Studio and Gallery.  We have made all of those purchases which you will never find on any other island.  Top photo shows Henderson displaying our Batik print we purchased at his studio.  
Bottom photo show the Merrymen, an island vocal group popular with all ages.


Try one of the public beaches.  Take advantage of them as the locals do.  Some of the best beaches in the world are found on this island that has more than 60 choices.  Two of our favorites were Crane Beach with it's pink sand (top) and Bottom Bay Beach which is totally surrounded with breathtaking cliffs.

Take in a game of football (soccer) or cricket.  You'll feel as if you belong on the island.  Photo above was taken near St. Lawrence Gap one afternoon.  I was sitting in the bleachers when an island gentleman my age sat down, introduced himself and began to explain how the game was played.  I must have looked lost at the time, at least to him.  Wow, we must have talked for an hour.  I felt I was a part of the island scene by the time I left.
Snap away.  One of my favorite photos I took on one of the visits.  It features a young fisherman plying his trade as the sun sets over Beautiful Barbados (one of the songs in the Merrymen album we purchased).

The list of seven suggestions I have made may make you feel more like a local, not only on the island of Barbados, but on any island in the Caribbean.  Give it a try sometime and see how your vacation will be the most memorable one you have every taken.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.