Extraordinary Stories

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

The "Bloggin' A Story" Story

It was an ordinary day. Talking with a friend who reads my blog and he asked where I get my stories to write every day and how long does it take to write them. Told him it's kind of like the one episode on the Seifeld show when Jerry says, "What'd you do today," and when the reply was, 'I got up and went to work,' Jerry replied, "That's a story."  Kinda like what I do.  Head to the Chesapeake Bay for lunch and ...... well, that's a story.  Take a day excursion with one of my grandkids,  that's another story.  Well, first of all I enjoy typing stories more than I enjoy watching TV, except when the Phillies or Dancing With The Stars is on.  Some days I type a few stories and keep them 'on ice' until I need one on a day I don't feel like typing. As far as how long it takes to type one, it all depends on what I am typing. When I get items from friends as emails that are interesting and entertaining, I sometimes just turn them right around and use them for a story. They may take a half hour to complete. Then there are some stories that I may take a few days to write. Couple of years ago I did a story on baseball in the Dominican Republic. Took some time to research articles and stats online for that one. Then the one I wrote on Oyster Pond Yacht Club in Sint Maarten a few years ago took several weeks to complete. I made numerous phone calls, sent numerous emails and even wrote a few snail mail letters to people who had some first hand knowledge about the place and had no email address. When our family gets together for a picnic or a party, I usually have my camera ready and take notes when the stories start to fly about ...."do you remember when we did ...". Then I have to go through boxes of old photos to see if I have any that would help tell the story better. I once had someone tell me that they like my blog stories so much better when I put photos in them. I now have a story 'on ice' that I wrote in March of 2011. At the time I was running out of ideas and wrote a farewell story to end the blog. Luckily didn't have to use it yet. As of this moment, I have maybe two dozen stories typed with photos 'on ice', ready for publication. So I could go on vacation for close to a month and not have to do any typing except for adding a new "old" story daily. I do have to make sure that the stories that have a specific date for them are published in a timely manner, or they make no sense at all. So, if I question you from time to time in person about .... "do you remember when" .... I'm probably going to write a story about that, so watch what you say! I also bought a small digital tape recorder that fits in my pocket so I don't have to take notes or try to remember what people mention to me.  So, hang on, since I haven't run out of ideas and stories yet!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - this story took 12 minutes to write, and I have no photos to put with it.  Sorry!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The "Real Garage Sale Find" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Just finished posting Ansel Adams photos to a story which more than likely you have already read.  While looking for photos to post to my Pinterest page on Ansel Adams, I came across a very unusual story about this really great garage sale find.  Seems this antique hunting fellow from California was rummaging through cardboard boxes at a garage sale in 2000 when he came across a box of 65 glass negatives that had been carefully wrapped in newspaper pages that were dated from 1942 and 1943.  Talked the seller down from $70 to $45 and took them home with him.  Found out pretty quick that the glass negatives were from no other than Ansel Adams and were the negatives that were allegedly lost in a darkroom fire in 1937.  It had been assumed that  about 5,000 glass negatives had perished.  Well, the guy hired a lawyer and a group of experts to examine the glass negatives and after six months of investigating, they claimed they were the real thing and perhaps worth $200 million.  What a bummer for the guy who sold them to him.  The way I read the stories I found online, he began to sell prints of the negatives, but then Adam's own grandson became skeptical.  Matthew Adams, president of the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite National Park, California, said that  the writing on the sleeves of the negatives, which is supposed to be Ansel's wife's writing, is inconsistent with other samples of her handwriting and contains a number of misspellings of places in Yosemite that she knew how to spell.  Also, the edges of the negatives have marks on them that don't seem to match what marks should be on them if they were taken with Ansel's camera which he used during that time period.  
This is from a story that showed both the original and the
one from the garage sale.  Notice the poor quality that I obtained
when I tried to copy it.  This is the original Ansel Adams made
from his negative before it was lost in the fire.
Each side now has lawyers who will eventually eat up so much money that it may not be worth it on either side.  Matthew also said that you can't print from them since anything you make would have to say it is an interpretation of something that may be Ansel's.  Ansel Adams died in 1984 at the age of 82.  The Ansel Adam's Gallery is still producing prints made by a printer who was trained by Adams before he died.  The two original prints that I have were purchased for me by my wife from the gallery.  So now the guy who bought the negatives says he will no longer use Ansel Adams name or trademark in anything he sells.  But, wait!  Another new twist was added when Marion Walton, niece of Earl Brooks, said the photos produced from the garage sale negatives are from her uncle Earl.  
This is my copy from the article that is made using
the negative from the garage sale.  Notice any differences?
Very obvious, isn't it.  You may care to click on the photos,
but it won't make either photo too much better.
She noticed, while watching TV in her den, that the photo on TV of one of the negatives matched perfectly the "Jeffrey pine on Yosemite's Sentinel Dome" that was on the wall in front of her.  She called the TV station and soon a reporter was examining some of the 17 images that were posted for sale from the garage sale negatives.  They matched the photos that he had received from Marion.  Well, I hate to tell you this, but I couldn't find out what really happened, yet.  I'm still reading, but thought you should know that what you find at a garage sale may or may not be what you think it is and until you pay a ton of money to find out one way or another, you might as well enjoy the item yourself and forget about becoming a millionaire.  Just my opinion you realize.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The "Ansel Adams" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Just finished hanging up my Ansel Adams prints in the family room.  When Carol decorated for Christmas she removed the two Ansel Adams prints and replaced them with needlepoint work that she had done that reflected the holiday season, but now that Christmas has long passed and the decorations are once again stored safely in plastic tubs, the Adams prints are once again hanging for all to see.  Back in 2011 I wrote about Ansel Adams and how Carol had purchased two prints from a special reprint of Ansel Adams works.  
Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico taken in 1941 by Ansel Adams.
Love both of them, but my favorite Adams print is one called Moonrise taken in Hernandez, New Mexico.  It is Adams most popular single image and a copy of it sold in 1981 for a record $71,500.  Guess you understand why I don't own one of those prints.  Over the years that I taught high school photography I grew to understand and appreciate Ansel Adams and what he did for the art of black and white photography.  He is perhaps my most favorite photographer.  For those who have never heard of Ansel Adams, or may have had a brief brush with the photographer, I have taken photos from my Pinterest page to share with you which will show his life through his portraitures.  You will see how others pictured him throughout his life.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

A self portraiture taken in 1930 at the age of 28.  The crook in his nose is the result of the 1906
San Francisco earthquake.
1932 photo taken by Villiard Van Dyke.
The photographer of this photo taken in 1936 is unknown. It features Adams with his camera. 
If you thought "Selfies" are something new, here is one taken by Adams in 1936.
A 1947 photo taken by Nancy Newhall.  He is standing with his  tripod so my guess is Nancy is using his camera.
A 1950 photo show Adams with a much smaller camera.  The photographer is unknown.
1953 photo taken by Imogen Cunningham.
This 1958 self-portraiture of his shadow was taken in Monument Valley, Colorado. 
This Arnold Newman photograph of Ansel Adams was taken outside Adam's home in Carmel, California.  You can see he must have been working in his darkroom since he is wearing his apron.
A 1975 photograph taken by John Sexton.
A very interesting photograph taken of Ansel by Judy Dater in 1977.
My last photograph is of Ansel Adams at work with Georgia O'Keeffe in the background.   This photograph was taken in 1976.   I hope you noticed that all the photographs I have posted were in black and white.  Of the 500 or so photographs taken by or of Ansel Adams that I have posted on my Pinterest page, very few are in color.  Ansel Adams died in 1984, eight years after this photograph was taken.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The "Thanks, Mr. Long" Story

Our granddaughter petting the llama
It was an ordinary day.  Looking through a small photo album that my daughter gave to my wife and me about ten years ago with photos of her first daughter and our first grandchild.  At the end of the album was a small plastic pouch where she had placed a few photos that wouldn't fit on the album pages.  Two of them were photos taken during a trip to the petting zoo located at Long's Park on Lancaster's west side.  The park holds many fond memories for Carol an me during the years that we were raising our three children. Summer walks in the park with the stroller, trips to feed stale bread crumbs to the fish in the lake, picnic lunches in one of the pavilions or afternoons of climbing the jungle gym and sliding down the sliding board are memories that will never fade.  
Hugging the donkey!
The two photos taken of our grand- daughter at the petting zoo brought back memories once again of the park at the edge of town.  Long's Park was formerly the farm of Henry G. Long.  It was a seventy-four acre estate that was eventually willed to the City of Lancaster by Henry's daughter Miss Catherine H. Long in 1900.  
Entrance to Long's Park with the amphitheater in the background.
Miss Long dictated that a park commission be established to supervise the use of the land that was supposed to be a delightful place of resort for the people of Lancaster.  The commission is still in existence today and the park looks great.  Carol and I made a drive-thru today to take a few photos to share with you to show what a nice gesture the Long Family did when they presented the land to the city to be used as the park for the enjoyment of all.  
Old postcard showing the bridge at the lake that takes
you across to a small island which now houses a gazebo.
Some of the many events that are held yearly at the park include: (1) the World's largest chicken barbecue sponsored by the Lancaster Sertoma Club who is the main sponsor of the park, (2) a nationally acclaimed fine art and craft show over the Labor Day weekend, (3) a free summer music series held at the park's amphitheater and (4) the annual US Army Band, Cannon Brigade and Fireworks display held on July 4th.  The park also boasts many picnic pavilions, children's playgrounds, a three-acre spring-fed lake, tennis courts and naturally the petting zoo where the photos were taken that I have been admiring once again.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

This is what the bridge looks like today.
The petting zoo
A playground area
One of many pavilions with another playground behind it

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The "Buying Up The Block" Story

The historic Fulton Opera House in downtown Lancaster, PA.
It was an ordinary day.  Just made another delivery to the Fulton Opera House in downtown Lancaster, PA.  Every year I have been making altered Polaroid prints of the Fulton for the retiring members of their board of directors.  Aaron Young, the managing director, contacted me recently with the five names for the photos for this year.  I have brass plaques made with name and years of service for the retiring members and place the plaque under the photo which I mat and frame.  I called early today to tell them I was ready to deliver the five finished photos.  I was told to drive to the north side of the Fulton, park along the alley and ring the bell.  Someone would buzz me in and I could ride the elevator to the third floor to deliver the photos.  The Fulton Opera House is amazing.  I have done a series of stories on the history of the place, but it never ceases to amaze me when I enter the building and step back into history.  The 1852 building is still beautiful, even the elevator.  The elevator is huge, since it was built to move sets from the lower levels to the stage.  Brass railings line the sides of the elevator and maroon velvet covers parts of the sides.  The Fulton is considered to be the nation's oldest continuously operating theatre and is a National Historic Landmark.  And now, there will be a few more changes to the Fulton.  
The Fulton can be seen as the light colored building on the
right side of this photo.  The Fulton is attempting to buy
the remaining buildings pictured here so they can preserve
the historic corner in downtown Lancaster, PA.
In a short time the main stage will be geared for musicals while a new theatre, known as the Black Box Theatre is being built on the fourth floor of the building.  It will be used for more intimate and smaller shows.  Mostly plays will be performed in the Black Box Theatre since fewer theatergoers come to the Fulton to see plays than to see musicals.  Early September will see the first play to reach the stage in the new theatre.  But, not only is there going to be a new stage, there are more changes in store for the Fulton.  Between the Fulton, which is located in the first block of North Prince Street, and West King Street, are located several buildings which the Fulton has been buying since the early 2000's.  Several board members have bought some buildings and donated them to the Fulton while other board members have donated to the purchase of buildings.  The buildings being purchased are bounded by North Prince, West King, North Water and West Grant Streets.  Within that area there is only one building, at 6 N. Prince, that doesn't belong to the Fulton.  The expansion will allow the Fulton to add more amenities for the guests who visit.  More restrooms is a top priority.  An expanded backstage area and storage area are other priorities.  The Fulton would also like to be able to provide housing for traveling programs which they book for their stage.  The Fulton does own other locations around the city to accommodate performers, but would like to keep everyone in one central location.  I'm anxious to see what is in store for the south-east corner of the block where the Fulton is located.  I'm sure it will be as impressive as the elevator I rode to deliver my photos today.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The "Almshouse" Story

Plaque along East King Street which tells of the Hospital,
now known as Conestoga View, and the Almshouse.  The
Almshouse is to the right behind the sign and Conestoga
View is to the left in the distance.
It was an ordinary day.  Just finished taking a photo of one of the most enduring buildings in Lancaster County, Pennsyl- vania.  Building was called the Lancaster County Almshouse and was built primarily for the social control of the poor in the county.  I assume that most medium to large cities have houses such as the one in Lancaster, but most probably have not survived as the almshouse in Lancaster has.  Matter of fact, an easement guarantees the remaining part of the original building can never be demolished and its exterior can never be altered.  The building of the house began in 1799 and opened the following year.  
A post card shows what at one time this building filled
 the property along East King Street.  Much of the building
was removed to make way for Conestoga View.
At first delinquent and dependent children were housed in the almshouse, but records do not show if they were admitted to the house with their families due to poverty.  County taxes provided the primary funds for the operation of the almshouse.  The almshouse included a working farm and stone quarry as well as a manufacturing unit so that the residents of the almshouse could help reduce the amount the county would have to pay for their stay.  The house was run by a steward with his wife who served as the matron of the hospital.  Other workers at the almshouse included attendants, nurses and a storekeeper.  
Conestoga View.
The documentation of the Lancaster County Almshouse and Hospital came about because of a gift from the Edward Hand Medical Heritage Foundation in 1989 and was carried out by the Delaware Valley Threatened Buildings Survey at the University of Delaware.  At some point in history some of the building was demolished to make room for what is known as Conestoga View which is a skilled nursing facility and rehabilitation center for Lancaster County members.  In 2000, what remained of the Lancaster County Almshouse and Hospital was listed as the second oldest continuously operating hospital in the nation with the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia being the oldest.  
The Almshouse which still remains.
Lancaster County Commis- sioners voted in 2005 to sell the almshouse and the neighboring Conestoga View.  The sale was loudly critized by county residents who feared the almshouse may be demolished.  The house was purchased by Complete HealthCare Resources and housed the county's Children & Youth Services.  The county's lease with Complete HealthCare expires this year.  The easement that will not allow demolition or alteration of the building may cause the building to be turned into a museum.  Lancaster residents may have what they wanted in the first place.  I have always admired the house and grounds and also hope that it becomes a museum in the near future.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The "Sweet or Dill?" Story

Interior of Overlook Roller Rink in Lancaster, PA
It was an ordinary day.  Standing along the far side of the Overlook Roller Rink watching about a dozen or so people playing Pickleball.  Pretty neat sport that I believe I could play and have a good time in the process.  Somewhat physical, but without the constant pounding of the legs on the tennis court that was hard on my back.  About six months ago Carol and I started walking in the mornings at the Overlook Roller Rink for exercise.  The weather was too cold for walking outdoors and when we found the rink was open for public walking on weekdays from 7:00 to 11:00 we decided to give it a try.  Takes about three minutes from our garage to the rink which is located in Overlook Park, a community park that we can see from our front porch that has golf-driving ranges, an 18-hole golf course, walking paths, frisbee golf, ball fields, playground, a miniature golf course and a roller skating rink.  One day, while walking, we noticed a worker setting up these nets in the center of the rink.  Asked and was told it was for Pickleball.  Found out when it takes place and made a visit today to see exactly how it was played and if it was something I could do while I was recuperating from back surgery.  
Returning the ball during a game of Pickleball.
The game of Pickleball started during the summer of 1965 in the state of Washing- ton.  State Represen- tative Joel Pritchard had returned from a round of golf with two friends and found they and their families soon became bored.  They set up a badminton court, but no one could find a shuttlecock so they lowered the net, used a Wiffle ball, made paddles from plywood and the game of Pickleball was born.  The name of the game is in reference to the last boat to return with it's catch at the end of the day.  The pickle boat is a boat made up of leftover oarsmen from other boats that fish the waterways in the state of Washington.  
Ball and paddle used in Pickleball.
Something like being the last person remaining when picking up sides to play a game of ball.  At first some thought the name came from the name of the Pritchard's dog, Pickles, but the dog wasn't born until two years after Pickleball was invented.  The court is similar to a doubles badminton court with the actual size 20x44 feet.  
Size and markings on a Pickleball court.
The court is lined as a tennis court without the outer alleys.  The zones next to the net on either side are called non-volley zones and are 7 feet wide.  The ball is served underhand so that the ball lands in the opposite diagonal side rear court, as in tennis.  There are various other rules that are better understood by watching a game than by reading them in my story.  Games are usually 15 or 21 points, depending on how old and tired you are.  Players rotate sides at 8 or 11 points and are allowed to take a break for the bathroom and a drink.  
Another four-some playing Pickleball.
That last rule I just added to the official rules.  As I was watching this afternoon, Chuck approached me and asked if I wanted to play.  Told him I'd love to try, but thought I should check with my doctor first.  He is the resident instructor and seller of balls and racquets.  
Serving is done underhand.
Costs $4 for a two-hour  afternoon of play.  He was nice enough to give me his phone number and told me to call him when I could return to play.  The skill level was easy to see amongst the players on the courts today.  Eight players, four on each court, on my far right were very experienced and it was fun to watch them play.  Quite a bit of energy was exerted, but mostly while moving around a 10x15 foot area.  Much easier than on a tennis court.  I talked to my wife about it when I returned home and she agreed it might be something we can try when we are both physically able to do so.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The "One of My Heroes" Story

Foreword:  "My university has been the book, the newspaper, the play, the concert, the opera, the lecture, the sermon, the church, the world of nature, the world of art, the printing office, the dictionary, the cyclopedia, the poem, the restraining influence of the school, the blessed association of friends."  This was penned by John Piersol McCaskey years ago. If his name is a mystery to you, it's because you are not a citizen of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  My story today will tell you about this outstanding educator, musician, song writer, politician and human being who called Lancaster home.

My Polaroid print of J.P. McCaskey HIgh School
It was an ordinary day.  Just finished making an 8"x8" print of my McCaskey High School altered Polaroid which I sell from time to time at a small store in downtown Lancaster.  The John Piersol McCaskey High School was completed and dedicated on May 3, 1938 on the east side of the city of Lancaster.  The high school bore the name of one of the finest citizens Lancaster has ever known.  Dr. McCaskey was born October 9, 1837 to Scottish immigrants on a farm near Gordonville, PA.  He attended the Zook school house where he was required to read daily from the Bible.  At the age of ten he left home to study at the Oak Hill Academy in Virginia until his family moved to nearby Lancaster and he enrolled at a secondary school on Duke Street.  He eventually graduated from Boys High School in 1855.  He then began teaching at the high school the same year and taught the next ten years there except for one year when he studied printing at the Evening Express printing office.  While teaching he met and fell in love with Ellen Chase, another teacher at the school.  She then took a job at a school in Bath, NY and accepted his marriage proposal by mail.  They were married in 1860 and had seven children. The same year he got married he introduced a vocal music course into the school curriculum at Boys High and soon after organized a high school orchestra.  
Dr. John Piersol McCaskey, hero
He became principal of the high school from 1865 to 1906.  He was also the co-editor of the Pennsylvania School Journal from 1866-1921 while using his printing skills he learned earlier.  J.P., as he was known, was an accomplished musician, having written the famous Christmas song "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" in 1867.  It is said that the "Johnny" who wanted a pair of skates was his son who died in childhood.  He eventually earned a Master of Arts degree from nearby Franklin and Marshall College and was granted a Doctor of Philosophy degree from F&M in 1887.  One of his remarkable feats was the introduction of Arbor Day in Lancaster County while his friend Dr. E.E. Higbee, State Superintendent of Public Instruction eventually made it a state holiday.  In 1907, after leaving education, he became the 23rd Mayor of Lancaster for one four-year term.  But, with all of the tremendous educational and political accomplishments he achieved, I was most impressed with the fact that he was a Vestryman for 68 (you read that right) years and a warden for 24 of those years at St. James Episcopal Church in downtown Lancaster where I am now a member.  Makes the 4 years that I was a Vestryman look like nothing.  Dr. John Piersol McCaskey died at the age of 97 while arrangements were being made for his 98th birthday party.  In 2013 his great-great grandson, Patrick McCaskey, whose family owns the NFL Chicago Bears, had a family friend, Richard Smith of Gordonville, PA, submit a memorial story to the Lancaster Newspaper to celebrate his great-great grandfather.  It was a great tribute and an interesting read.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The "Barons Beat the Phils" Story

It was an ordinary day.  The 2015 major league baseball season has begun and my beloved Philadelphia Phillies are not picked to win the National League East Division.  I realized that was a possibility since they have lost quite a few of their best players to age and trades.  They have a few good prospects, but expecting them to win the division is rather unrealistic for this year.  A few weeks ago there was a photo in the Sunday News in Lancaster, PA that showed a local amateur team from nearby Manheim, PA that played an exhibition game against the Phillies on a warm July evening at Stumpf Field on the Fruitville Pike in 1939.  I wasn't born at the time, believe it or not, but did get to see many Lancaster Red Roses minor league games at Stumpf Field which was about a half-mile walk from my childhood home on North Queen Street.  
The 1939 Manheim Barons amateur baseball team.
Click on photo to enlarge.
At the time, Manheim played in what was known as the Lebanon Valley Baseball League.  It was an amateur league when it began in 1931, but did start to pay players in 1935 and eventually folded at the end of the year after Manheim played the Phillies.  At the time of the game it was reported that Manheim's record in league play was 13-15 while the Phillies record in the National League was 45-106.  Not sure how they could have played 151 games by the end of July, but that doesn't impact the story except to show you they were probably as bad as this year's team is going to be.  Well, the game saw 3,400 fans in the stadium who came to see the Phil's All-Star Morrie Arnovich who was batting .378 at the time.  Manheim pitched Glenn Horst who only gave up five hits to the Phillies that night as they beat the Phillies 1-0.  I hope that isn't what is going to happen this year with an amateur team being able to beat my Phillies.  Time will tell, and with 162 games scheduled until they finish in September, I'll probably have many frustrating evenings in front of my TV set.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The "Going Out On A Rope" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Just dropped my grandson off at home after spending a morning taking photos with him of Lancaster County, PA scenes.  He lives in West Hempfield Township about 20 minutes from my house in Manheim Township.  On the way home I passed through some of the most beautiful farmland in what is known throughout the country as the "Garden Spot of America." And, many of the people who live on the farms in Lancaster County are pushing the Pennsylvania State legislature to allow them to begin raising hemp.  Between 1718 and 1870 there were more than 100 water-powered hemp mills in Lancaster and nearby York counties.  
Farmland in Hempfield, Lancaster County, PA
The farmland that supplied the mills were farmed by Scotch-Irish and German pioneers who settled in Lancaster County.  Shortly after 1870 hemp farming waned, but had a resurgence in the early 1900s as hundreds of farmers grew hemp for Hanover Cordage Company.  Hemp was used not only for cordage products such as rope and twine, but also for concrete, motor vehicle parts, food, clothing and environmentally friendly fuel.  Legalizing the growing of hemp would bring more jobs to Lancaster County creating economic growth and agricultural sustainability.  The area where my grandson lives used to be rich in hemp farms, thus the names of East and West Hempfield.  In nearby Columbia, PA, pretzel baker Shawn House runs Hempzels Pretzels.  He uses hemp seeds in his pretzels, but he must buy those seeds from Canada.  Hemp seeds provide omega-3 fatty acid, vitamin B and proteins.  The owner of the company said that he would love to buy his hemp products from nearby Lancaster.  But there are some roadblocks that will have to be resolved before farmers in Lancaster will be able to grow hemp once more.  Seems that hemp is a member of the cannabis species and contains extremely low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive agent of the plant that gets users high.  While the THC of hemp is less than 1%, it still causes people to associate it with marijuana and it's 7% to 20% THC content.  For Lancaster County and all the different religions that dominate the population, getting hemp legalized will be a real task.  Doesn't matter that hemp growing dates back to colonial America when Presidents Washington and Jefferson grew hemp and the fields of Lancaster were ripe with the crop. Also doesn't matter that the crop could double the income per acre of the products that are now grown. The 1937 act that forbade growing of hemp in the country is the reason that so many are up in arms against reinstating the growing of the cash crop. Many are treating hemp as if it were a drug issue.   The United States is the world's largest hemp importer, so there's no reason why Lancaster County farmers shouldn't begin to grow it again and return the product to US soil.  Two state Senators, Mike Folmer and Judith Schwank have introduced legislation to permit the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp in Pennsylvania.  
Lancaster Newspaper photo of Shawn House selling his
hemp products at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg,PA.
Every year in January the state holds it's Farm Show in nearby Harrisburg, PA and Shawn House sells his hemp products at a stand in the show.  One of his most popular sellers, besides his pretzels, is a wild cherry cough syrup that contains hemp.  Popular Mechanics labeled hemp a "billion dollar crop" since fuel and some car parts are made with it.  Law makers may be more favorable to passing a law to allow hemp to be grown if they were made aware that the Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper.  I believe it is only a matter of time before hemp will once again fills the fields of East and West Hempfield and gives my grandson and me another crop to photograph as they harvest it.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.    

Monday, April 20, 2015

The "The Frugal Birthday Club Members" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Carol was telling me about a conversation she had with her friend Marg about the days when both our families had to lead a remarkably frugal existence due to our families having to live on a teacher's salary for quite a few years.  Carol met Marg while taking a LaMaze class with her when they were both pregnant with their first child.  Marg's husband, as well as myself, had been teaching for perhaps four or five years at the time and making a very basic salary while starting a family.  Carol and I had just purchased a home and a new car a few years before and were both working at the time when Carol became pregnant.  When our first son arrived, we made the decision that she should be a stay-at-home mother and live on my teacher's salary.  Tough to do with car and house payments and a new child to support, but .......  Well, we did get to celebrate on paydays by going out to eat.  After our other two children arrived we continued the same "going out to eat Friday evenings" and our children loved it.  We had two places that we tended to use, one each month.  One was at a Burger King located on the Manheim Pike north of Lancaster, PA, but south of East Petersburg, PA.  We could treat the family to a fast-food meal, complete with dessert, for a reasonable amount of money.  
Pappy's was a chain pizza place, so if you
are reading this flyer, you will see that
this one was for a store in York, PA.
I know it was fast food, but it was only one time a month!  The other place we visited once a month was a place called Pappy's Pizza which was located directly off the Manheim Pike on the road that led to the Park City Shopping Center, directly across from the Fulton Bank.  Pappy's Pizza had great pizza, a neat atmosphere for kids, with some arcade games to occupy a few minutes while mom and dad ate our meal and a window where we could watch the pizzas being made.  Our three children loved watching the bakers hold the dough to make a circular form and then throw the dough in the air.  We always requested a table so they could view the pizza being made.  
Our children were birthday club members.
And ...... we celebrated many of their early birthdays at Pappy's with straw hats and bow ties as well as a special certificate for all party-goers.  Great place to take the kids and the friends of the birthday boy or girl without breaking the bank.  Those memories will always be with us as well as our kids.  Pappy's eventually closed and a variety of other businesses tried the spot, but with little success.  As of today, the place remains at the same spot, but siting vacant.  If it's any consolation to all those businesses, the bank across the street couldn't make a go it either.   It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The "A Sad Happening In Lancaster County" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just found Indian Marker Road in Conestoga Township.  Exactly where MapQuest said it would be.  Only problem I encountered was I turned right, just as my directions said to do, when I should have turned left.  A couple of hundred yards before I made my right turn I encountered the farm where the 50 or so Native Americans, Mennonites and natural gas pipeline protestors camped yesterday and last evening.  They were not at the farm to protest anything, but to mourn the desecration of an area known as "Chief's Hill" which can be seen off in the distance, across the road from the farm where they are encamped.  The pipeline that was supposed to go through this south-western part of Lancaster County will no longer pass through here, but the farmer who owns the land where "Chief's Hill" is located has now decided to farm the site on his farm that was covered with shrub trees for ages.  
Piles of wood can be seen if his photo I took of the land
known as "Chief's Hill" along Indian Marker Road.
Indian Chief Carlos Whitewolf believes that the farmer is doing it out of spite since he's no longer being offered money for the rocky land since the protesters have changed the minds of the natural gas company about proceeding with the pipeline through this part of Lancaster County.  The chief said that the gathering yesterday was not a protest and he believes the farmer has the right to do what he wants on his land ..... but the land that he just bulldozed to knock down all the trees was a Native American burial mound and therefore sacred ground to the Native Americans.  
At the end of the road is a historical site plaque telling
the history of this area of Lancaster County.
The group that met yesterday met to offer a sign of peace to the spirits of the dead.  The farmer and his family have farmed the land around the hill for generations and allegedly never heard that the hill was a burial ground.  He has never encountered any bones or other signs that the land contained human remains.  About a half-mile down Indian Marker Road was an actual Indian Marker that was erected by the State and Local Historical Societies.  
A larger view.  Click on it to enlarge.
On it it states that this area was given to Native Americans by none other than William Penn in 1701 and that the land, primarily to the west of the marker, was the home of the Conestoga Indians.  Happens to be exactly right were the mound of earth called "Chief's Hill" is located.  Many in Lancaster County believe the farmer is doing irreplaceable damage to history and heritage just to grow a small area of hay or even worst, to get even.  Historians claim there is pretty strong evidence that the hill was a burial mound, since records from 1714 show that Conestoga Indian Chief Togodhessah claimed that their Queen Conguegos was buried on "Chief's Hill." In 1972 archaeologists found 90 graves and the remains of three houses in the immediate area.  You would think that there must be someway to legally stop the farmer and his bulldozer, but the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act shows that  private land is not protected under the act.  Here's hoping the farmer will stop his childish tirade and stop the desecration of the Native American gravesite.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.   

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The "A Piece of Architectural History Still Remains" Story

Color postcard of the original Lancaster Country Club
It was an ordinary day.  Just joined a Facebook group titled Lancaster, PA in photos, Video. … and found some photos from my old neighborhood when I was living in Grandview Heights from the late 1960's to the late 1990's.  One neat photo was actually a color postcard of the Lancaster Country Club when it was located in Rossmere which was a stone's throw from my home on Janet Ave.  
Another view from the early 1900's of the LCC.
The Lancaster Country Club was chartered in 1900 when they built the original building along Juliette Ave. in Manheim Township.  In 1913 the club purchased sixty acres of farmland along New Holland Pike that had trolley tracks from Lancaster passing right by it.  Well, the new site is still home to the Lancaster Country and will soon see the LPGA play a major tournament on its beautifully landscaped golf course, but my interest is in the older home of the Lancaster Country Club along Juliette Ave.  
How the property appears today with Mr. David Kuhn
as the owner of the historic home.
Sometime in the late 90's to early 2000's I found that the R&S Glass Company had purchased the building and was selling commercial glass from the garage behind the home.  The R&S stood for Ron and Steve who were both friends of mine when I was growing up on the north end of Lancaster, just over the border of Lancaster City in Manheim Township.  Steve and Ron lived in the city, but we were friends and played together.  They later became business partners and I bought glass from them at the same site that was once home to the Lancaster Country Club.  The house was in need of major repairs and R&S eventually sold the house and garage to Mr. David Kuhn who owned a painting business.  
The home from the rear along Stadium Road.  The garage
was at one time home to R&S Glass Company and is now
home to David Kuhn Painting Company.
I happened to have his son in class at Manheim Township High School.  After seeing the photo of the original Lancaster Country Club I grabbed my camera and headed to the old site to see what it looked like today.  David has the place looking fantastic.  The large lawn, curved driveway and house look as  they did in the old color post card from the past.  David has refurbished the old Lancaster Country Club to the condition it was in the early 1900's.  He can be proud of this piece of history that makes Lancaster the historical destination that it is.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

This photo was taken from the Lancaster Country Club website showing what the Country Club looks like today along the New Holland Pike, about a half mile from it's old location.