Extraordinary Stories

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Monday, August 31, 2015

The "Horsing Around At The Grange Fair" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Walking from one stall to another in the equine facility at the Grange Fair in Centre County, PA.  For years we have enjoyed the majestic and beautiful horses that are entered in competition at the fair.  Competitions in areas such as Draft Horse Farm Team Pull, Draft Horse Show and 6-Horse Draft Hitch Show are just a few of the many that can be seen during the nine day fair.  This year we were able to walk through a new horse barn that sports 150 stalls and is connected by a covered walkway to the arena where the indoor judging takes place.  One event that we missed this year is the draft horse team pull.  Really neat to see the mammoth horses such as the Percherons, Belgians or Clydesdales pulling beautiful coaches with a driver, helper and perhaps a dalmation sitting on the seat of the wagon.  The rumble that is created when they pass closby is thrilling.  As we walked from stall to stall we got to talk with a few of the owners and got to see them braiding the manes of their horses as well as brushing and washing them.  I have learned to appreciate horses over the years since my wife owned a horse when she was in high school.  I snapped a few photographs as we walked through the stalls and then sat and watched competitors practice for events later in the fair.  I never get tired of these beautiful animals and am starting to be able to identify the different breeds.  Check out some of the photos that feature horses and horse related items.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

This is the indoor competition facility. 
Beautiful horse waiting for a command.
This little eight year-old girl with pink cowgirl boots practices for competition.
While in college I learned how to tool leather.  This photo and the following are samples of the fantastic tooling that can be accomplished on saddles.
Silver inlays can be added to the tooling.
Bridles line the wall in one of the stalls.
A lone rider prepares her horse for a practice ride.
This horse had a sign next to it that warned "Nibbles on Everything."
Saddle marks can be seen on the horse's body after competition.
The intricate designs of braiding on the horse's mane. 
This beautiful "Paint" is ready for a walk after being in it's stall.
A closeup of the mane of the "Paint" and the neat markings between the white and brown colors of it's body.
Footwear of both the rider with spurs and the horse with protection for it's front hooves.
This horse is being prepared for riding in the outdoor competition ring.

Read more here: http://www.centredaily.com/2015/08/16/4874270/grange-fair-preview-welcome-to.html#storylink=cpy

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The "Red Sea: A Dream Almost Realized" Story

Fans from Red Land create a Red Sea of supporters for the team.
It was an ordinary day.  Watching the Little League World Series on TV and cheering for the Red Land team who is from nearby Lewisberry, Pennsylvania.  Lewisberry is a borough in York County, PA with a population of 385.  Yep, you read that correctly.  One of the best Little League Teams in the entire world comes from a small town on the back roads of York County.  But, boy do they know how to play baseball.  
Chayton Krauss is mobbed after winning the game with
a single to right field.  Photo taken from ABC TV.
Yesterday they became the first Pennsyl- vania team in 30 years to win the United States titile and if they can possibly beat Japan in the Little League World Series Championship game at 3:00 PM today, they will become the first Pennsylvania team to be champs since Levittown won the title in 1960.  The U.S. Championship game was won by Red Land 3-2 when they beat Pearland, Texas in the 6th inning when 12-year-old Chayton Krauss drove a single to right field and Branden Kolmansberger, who had walked to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a one-out single by Jaden Henline, scored the winning run.  
Traffic was terrible outside the stadium in Williamsport.
Bedlam broke out amonst the record crowd of 45,716 fans who were mostly from Lewisberry.  The "Red Sea" of shirts was a constant reminder to the team that they were backed to the hilt by their fan base.  Red Land scored a remarkable 276 runs during their tournament travels while giving up only 23.  The Little League World Series is an annual event held in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania which is exactly 99.3 miles from Lewisberry.  
When I traveled to Lamade Stadium I managed to take
a photo of the sign in front of the complex.
Traffic was expected to be so heavy yesterday with people from south-eastern Pennsyl- vania traveling to Williams- port that we saw a traffic notice on a portable sign on Route 222 a mile from our home in Lancaster.  I'm sure traffic will be even worse today with the fans known as the Red Sea coming from all over Pennsylvania.  
Photo taken from the press box in the stadium.
I hope they do well today against Japan and can realize their dream of winning the champion- ship.  You can watch the game on USA TV on the ABC network.  It was back in the mid-1950s that I had my dream of playing in the Little League World Series, but never had the chance to follow that dream.  About a year and a half ago I finally had the chance to visit South Williamsport and walk through the totally empty Howard J. Lamade Stadium on a cold March day.  
 Standing in right field listening to the crowd cheer for me!
I could almost hear the crowd noise as I jumped the fence in right field and ran onto the field.  As I stood in right field looking toward home plate I envisioned a fly ball coming my way, catching it and firing to home plate to gun down the runner trying to score from third to win the game.  I know my dream will never be realized, so I'm pulling for the 13 boys from Red Land and their Red Sea fans to win it for me and give me the thrill of a lifetime.  I can almost smell the popcorn!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an oridnary guy.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The "Blue Shoe Birthday Greeting" Story

It was an ordinary day.  August 27, 2015 and I just opened an email from my cousin Susan who lives in Amishland, as she calls it.  Sent me a greeting and wanted to remind me that today was my Mother's, her Aunt Dottie's, birthday as well as the birthday of her husband Gary whom she refers to as Gman.  My mom died a few years ago, but is still thought about all the time for all the neat little things she did for everyone.  Susan said in her letter …. I think of Aunt Dottie everyday because I have her paintings here and there all over the house and one is on the kitchen counter so I can't miss it.  I love her style of water coloring.  I have a birthday card she and U. Paul sent me I think when I turned 50.  Have a great day now onct!  Ciao for how!  CousinS.  Mom loved to paint and she would buy boxes of blank greeting cards and paint a watercolor of just about any item and send to friends and relatives for special occasions.  I wrote a story a few years ago about my Mother and referred to her as "The Grandma Moses of Janet Ave."  Here is the link if you care to read it ….  http://www.lifewithldub.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-grandma-moses-of-janet-avenue-story_14.html  Well, Susan sent me a copy of the card and I thought I would share it with you so you can see how upbeat and full of fun my mother was.  We miss her a lot and all the love and happy times she brought to all she knew.  Happy Birthday Mom …. and Gman!!  It was another extraordinary day in the life an ordinary guy. 

The front of Susan's birthday card.
First part of the greeting ….
Second half of the greeting.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The "Living In A Miniature World" Story

Elephants help erect the circus tent.
It was an ordinary day.  Watching the elephants help erect the circus tent while a worker hammers in the stakes to keep it in place.  Another crew of workers is setting up the electrical lines from the huge generator truck to most of the tents and light posts around the circus grounds.  And …. it's all in miniature!  My childhood friend Jerry has finally finished his circus in HO scale which is 3.5 mm equals a foot.  He began his train yard shortly after moving to State College, PA in 1999 and just about every time Carol and I pay a visit to he and his wife, Just Sue, he has something new to show me.  We talked about his new display and then he gave me some of the history of circus life as it relates to his HO train layout.  
Jerry's circus train with Pennsylvania Railroad engines on top.
It was in 1956 that the last tent circus was hauled by train.  His circus that he has built from scratch is meant to be one such circus.  His circus train is displayed in a cabinet nearby and shows a variety of cars that used to be used in the circus train from the car that carries the large animals to the car that carries the tent and poles.  
An overall view of the tent circus in HO scale.
The engines that were used for the circus train were either steam, diesel or electric powered and were not owned by the circus, but by the railroad company that was in that part of the country.  In the case of a circus in our local area of Lancaster, Pennsylvania or even State College, Railroad engines from the Pennsylvania Railroad would pull the train.  
The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus arrives
by rail in State College in 2008 for a performance at
the Bryce Jordan Center. 
The only circus still traveling by train today is the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus; all others travel by truck.  Ringling Bros. sets up in arenas or other large venues.  A truck circus usually sets up in tents in large fields or parking lots.  Jerry's circus, known as the Herr Bros. Circus, since his last name is Herr, can be set up as either a truck circus or a train circus.  
A Roustabout can be seen using a sledge
hammer to pound a stake into the ground.
Displayed on his layout at present is a truck circus featuring a main tent for the three rings, a smaller tent for sideshows, another canvas covered area for sheltering the animals, a tent where the performers and workers eat and a variety of other structures.  Also included are the generator truck, performer's bus, crew sleeper, a truck that hauls tent canvas, one that hauls tent poles, a truck for elephants, one for the other animals such as the tigers and lions, and other equipment for helping prepare the grounds.  If this were a train circus, these vehicles would be carried on the train.  Jerry's circus train is removed from it's display case when a train circus comes to his miniature town.  Pretty realistic!  
A truck with electrical generator can be seen in the center
with a worker on the right securing a tent line.  In the
background is the neighborhood where Jerry grew up.
In 2008 Carol and I made a visit to State College and went with Jerry and Just Sue to the Bryce Jordan Center on the campus of Penn State Universirty to see the Ringling Bros. and 
Barnum & Bailey Circus.  Just loved the day and all the acts.  During the time before the circus began they allowed people onto the main floor to interact with the circus performers and I had a great time.  
The refrigeration truck and the trailer used to house
the Rouseabouts in the circus.
The people who travel with the circus live a nomadic type of life from the performers to the animal handlers to the workers who are known as roustabouts.  There are many of them spread throughout Jerry's layout.  My photographs today will give you a taste of what Jerry's layout looks like, but photos don't show you all the intricate detail that he has recreated or what it is might be like to live in a miniature world in HO scale.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - remember to click on photos to enlarge them.

Circus cars and equipment can be seen on the photo at the top and the one below.

The main circus tent that would have the three performing rings in it.
The bus that would be used for the performers.
Trucks used to haul the tent poles, stakes and the canvas tent.
Movie poster showing Elvis Presley as a Roustabout.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The "Faces of Strangers: #34" Story

Katlyn with her pride and joy, Oscar.
It was an ordinary day.  Watching Katlyn removing the braids from the mane of her beautiful Appaloosa horse named Oscar.  She used a tool known as a seam ripper which is used in sewing.  Oscar stood motionless as if he knew exactly what was expected of him.  The two worked together in unison until Katlyn noticed me watching her.  She looked toward me and smiled and I smiled back.  She was close to my daughter's age with a beautiful face and a fondness for animals, just as my daughter.  I found out she had just shown her 13 year-old horse in competition at the 143rd Centre County, Pennsylvania Grange Fair.  He did well and now it was time to undo his mane and head braids and let him eat the hay that sat at his feet.  She showed me the bridle she had for Oscar which bore his real name of "Eyes a Special."  He carried the names of both his parents with the name on his bridle.  I called to my wife to come look at the 15.2 hands horse standing in front of me in his stall.  I told Katlyn that Carol had a horse for many years while growing up and she asked Carol a few questions about her horse.  I was amazed at how well the horse allowed his owner to cut the waxed string that held his mane.  I asked Katyln if she would mind if I took a few photos as she worked and she maneuvered Oscar into place so I could see better what she was doing.  I took my final shots and thanked her for allowing Carol and me to talk with her as she spent time doing a chore that I'm sure she has done many times before.  She in return thanked me for taking an interest in her horse and herself and told me she hopes we enjoy our day at the fair.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The "Something Bout A Boat - JB" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Having supper on our back deck with my granddaughters and daughter Brynn.  Talking about how many years Brynn lived with us at our "Beach House" in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Carol and I moved to our new home in the mid-1990's.  Brynn graduated from high school in 1992 and entered Millersville University, my Alma mater, the following year.  She lived at home the first year, but lived on campus after that.  While a student at Millersville she met her husband Dave and when they both graduated they both stayed with us at our home for a year before moving to Maryland where they both taught school.  
Mr. Eliphalet Oram Lyte
I began asking her some questions about Millersville when she was a student and eventually I asked her if there was still a Lyte Auditorium when she was a student.  She looked at me, questioning why I asked her that, before she said she remembered Lyte Auditorium and even took classes in the building.  Funny question I suppose, but I had just read about the man, Eliphalet Oram Lyte, and some of the contributions he had made to education and the field of music.  
One of the books that Mr. Lyte wrote.
It can still be found for sale.
Seems that Mr. Lyte was born in Lancaster County in 1842, entered what was then Millersville Normal School in 1866 after serving in the Civil War and teaching for two years.  He eventually became a professor of rhetoric and bookkeeping in 1868 and then a professor of pedagogy and grammar before being named principal (similar to President).  After 44 years at Millersville he resigned due to poor health.  He was given credit for the construction of a new Science Building, the Library and the Gymnasium.  The Science Building has since been demolished,  the library has been named Biemesderfer Executive Center and the Gym is now Dutcher Hall.  Mr. Lyte was also responsible for the construction of the Model School which was an innovative school where a student could concentrate on subjects for two years and receive a teaching degree.  
The Millersville Normal School which was still known by that
name when I attended Millersville State Teachers College.
This school eventually became Myers Hall and now is the Charles and Mary Hash Building.  I too remember Lyte Auditorium and taking a few music classes in the building.  Then, in 2009 it was closed for a $26 million construction and renovation project and eventually was renamed the Charles R. and Anita B. Winter Visual and Performing Arts Center (VPAC) with the 650-seat Lyte Auditorium incorporated into the VPAC.  But, the real story about Mr. Lyte goes like this …… He was  a well respected teacher who was the author of grammar and composition textbooks as well as being a musician who was the composer of the tune we all sang at one time as a child, and maybe still sing, "Row, Row, Row Your Boat".  This song was in the publication The Franklin Square Song Collection that he authored in 1881.  He adapted the lyrics which were previously  published to a different melody. But, I'll bet you don't know all the words in the verses of the song which I can remember singing over and over again as a "round."  So, just in case you don't remember, I have them for you …

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream,
If you see an alligator,
Don't forget to scream.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Throw your teacher overboard
And listen to her scream.

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream.
Ha ha, fooled ya,
I'm a submarine.

Bet'cha didn't know those three verses!  Actually the song was … Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily - Life is but a dream in his original version, but many other verses where added to the song over the years.  Good ole Mr. Eliphalet Oram Lyte, a Lancaster County native, died in 1913.  His legacy still lives on at Millersville University and I will always remember him as having a building named after him and for giving me a favorite childhood "round."  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The "The Doobie Brothers At The Bottom" Story

My 8-Track RCA unit with speakers sitting on top of it.
It was an ordinary day.  Just loaded the photos of my old RCA 8-Track player that I had purchased in the early to mid-1970's onto my computer.  I purchased the 8-Track that would hold five cartridges from the RCA family store when my brother and sister-in-law both worked for the electronic giant.  They were able to buy products that RCA made at a discounted price and my brother told me to meet him in the store, show him what I might want to buy and he would make the purchase and drop it off at the house for me.  Pretty neat electronic piece of equipment and a top-of-the-line player at the time that still works great.  
Early RCA logo.
A few years ago a young woman, whom I printed flyers for her business, saw it in my garage on the shelf and wanted to buy it from me.  At the time I was still using it and turned her down.  Bad move on my part, since it now resides in the shelfs above my garage and has been collecting dust for the last few years.  My sister-in-law worked on one of the production lines while my brother was the head of inspections on the color TV tubes that RCA produced at its plant on New Holland Avenue in Lancaster, PA.  We recently talked about his years at RCA where he landed a job after serving in the Marine Corps.  
RCA facility in Lancaster, PA is seen in the center of
this aerial view.  In the foreground is the area known
as Grandview Heights which I recently wrote about.
RCA was founded in 1919 in New York City by David Sarnoff and produced electric phono- graphs, RCA Photo- phones, Videodiscs, RCA Televisions and RCA Studio II for NBC.  RCA, founded as the Radio Corporation of America, was in business from 1919 until General Electric took over the company in 1985 and then closed the next year.  
The RCA-Victor model used as a logo for the company.
In 1919 General Electric used RCA as its retail arm for radio sales until 1930.  In 1929 RCA purchased the Victor Talking Machine Company and became RCA-Victor.  They began to sell the first electronic turntable in 1930 and the following year RCA Victor began selling 33 1/3 rpm records.  In 1933 RCA moved into 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York in what became known as the RCA building.  In April of 1939 RCA began broadcasting on television.  
The familiar test pattern seen on TV.
They were known for creating the television "test pattern" that year.  That year, at the New York World's Fair, they demon- strated an all-electronic TV system and began broad- casting from NBC studios.  Their televisions were equipped with vacuum tubes until 1975 when the company had switched from tubes to solid-state devices in their television sets except for the main cathode ray tube.  The factory in Lancaster, Pennyslvania, which made the color TV tubes, was opened in 1940 and finally closed in June of 1986.  The testing of those tube was the job of the unit that was overseen by my brother.  He told me that they often had tours through the laboratories and many of the tourists were Japanese who would take photos of all the equipment that was used to make the tubes.  They even had guides who explained how the tubes were made and tested.  According to my brother, this led to the eventual demise of the company in the mid-1980s.  
An early RCA table-model tube television.
All secrets as to how the technology worked were on display for all the see, photograph and take with them as they left the factory.  At the time RCA was the indisputable leader in television technology.  It was in 1965 that RCA became a major proponent of the eight-track tape cartridge.  Sales of the 8-track peaked shortly after with the compact cassette tape taking over.  In 1980 RCA moved the manufacture of its TV sets to Mexico.  
Closer look at some of the 8-tracks cartridges I still
have in my 8-track player by RCA.
Eventually RCA was taken over by GE in 1986 and shortly GE sold the rights to make RCA-brand TVs to the French Thomson Consumer Electronics.  The only thing that is still connected to the RCA brand is the unit known as Government Services.  I read online that RCA antique radios and early color TVs are collector's items.  Can't imagine what my 8-track player might be worth.  I mentioned this to my brother and he told me to take photos of the device and he will sell it for me on eBay.  Here's hoping someone will love it enough to want it for their collection and I can recoup my money I spent on it ages ago.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

The "Not Just Amish And Whoopie Pies" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Standing in front of a 1924 Oldsmobile that was partially made in Lancaster, PA.  Lancaster is better known for its Lancaster rifles, Conestoga wagons, Hamilton watches and Armstrong cork production, but at one time in history Lancaster manufactured fine automobiles.  
A magazine photograph showing the Duesenberg made by Schutte.
It was in 1910 that the Charles Shutte Body Company was founded, but little is known about the early years of the company.  In 1918 Schutte began building a roadster body Argonne automobile.  In 1920 they were known as "Coach Builders Specializing in Open Type Bodywork for Any Chassis" as they advertised in the 1920 New York Auto Salon catalog.  They also made and distributed their own line of disc wheels and most of their coachwork was pictured with these wheels.  
The beautiful disc wheels for which Schutte was known.  
They were known to be manufac- tures of the Duesenberg body, the Pierce-Arrow body, the Rolls-Royce Phantom II body, the Bently body and a number of Cadaillac, Franklin, Marmon, Packard and Oldsmobile bodies.  Then in 1926 Charles Shutte entered into negotiations to merge with the Blue Ribbon Body Company of Bridgeport, CT whose business was declining after Locomobile went bankrupt.  
Plaque on the body of the Oldsmobile telling who made the body.
When it was found out that Schutte would probably close the Lancaster plant, his investors when to court to stop the merger which eventually caused the company to declare bankruptcy and close.  Well, one of the cars that had been made in Lancaster is in front of me right now at the Lancaster Historical Society, directly next to President James Buchanan's house known as Wheatland.  
Interior of the Oldsmobile.  Notice the
pocket watch placed in the steering wheel.
A Texas man owns the car and loaned it to the historical society so those living in the area can visit and admire the work that was done in Lancaster close to 100 years ago.  The 1924 Olds convertible has a red-painted aluminum skin, wood disc Schutte wheels, 6-cylinder engine which is immense, "fat-boy" steering wheel that rotates to the side to allow large people to get behind the wheel, a recess to fit a lit cigar and a place on the steering wheel for a pocket watch.  The body resembles the flying machines of the era.  There are very few cars in existence today that were made by the Charles Schutte Body Company from Lancaster, PA.  
The 1924 Oldsmobile has a plaque attached with model, serial and engine #.
The company employed about 35 crafts- men and mecha- nics that pro- duced the car bodies, gas tanks, fenders, hoods, disc wheels, bumpers, tire carriers and various other items for the automobile.  Pretty neat to know that Lancaster is famous for more than the Amish and Whoopie Pies!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The rear of the car illustrates airplane lines.
The front emblem of the 1924 Oldsmobile.