Extraordinary Stories

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Sunday, July 31, 2016

The "Visiting The Schooner American" Story

The Lobster House on the left is alongside the Schooner American.
It was an ordinary day.  Sitting inside The Lobster House Restaurant looking out the window at the Schooner American which sits adjacent to the restaurant on the waterfront in Cape May, New Jersey.  Had it not been for the thermometer hitting the mid-90s today, Carol and I more than likely would be sitting on the schooner having lunch instead of inside in the air-conditioned restaurant.  It was years ago that we shared our first meal on the schooner with my mom and dad while visiting my mother's cousin who owns a home in nearby Stone Harbor, NJ.  The Schooner American has a history rich in maritime background.  It was back in 1954 that the Laudeman family opened The Marine Bar, a small burger and seafood restaurant, along the waterfront in Cape May.  Ten years later a catastrophic fire hit Cape May's waterfront and the Laudeman's ended up expanding into what is now The Lobster House Restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf.  
The Schooner American can be seen on the left in front of
The Lobster House in this photo showing the waterfront.
It was at that time that Mr. Laude- man (Wally) decided to find a schooner to dock next to the restau- rant which could serve as a bar to compliment the restaurant.  The schooner "Roy M", a 125-foot fishing schooner, was located and delivered to Cape May from Nova Scotia.  The schooner was renamed Schooner American and began serving drinks as well as burgers which were made in the restaurant and taken to the lower deck of the schooner.  The wooden schooner eventually saw its best years and 20 years later a second Nova Scotia schooner arrived on the waterfront at Cape May.  
The second schooner to be known as Schooner American.
This schooner was first known in its early existence as the EF Zwicker when it was built in 1934, then as The Captain James Cook when used as a fishing trawler.  This schooner was purchased and renamed Schooner American by Wally to replace the exhausted first Schooner American.  It was a white, wooden hulled, 140 footlong schooner. It eventually became too costly to maintain and the Laudemans decided to make the next Schooner American a steel one.  The Schooner American which sits outside our waterfront view window today was built in Dorchester, MD on the Tuckahoe River by Yank Marine.  
Another view of the Schooner American
which is right outside The Lobster House.
It took a year and a half to build and in the spring of 2001 it was delivered to The Lobster House.  At that time the second schooner was
 scuttled offshore and the new one was placed next to The Lobster House.  This schooner offers both a bar and restaurant seating topside and features the hatch, fittings, and captain's wheel from the original Roy M and Captain James Cook Schooners.  The masts stand high above the deck without any sails, but the ship is definitely seaworthy.  I recently read that Lancaster artist C.X. Carlson, who I have featured in a few stories in the past, had painted an oil of The Lobster House and the Schooner American which was purchased years ago by a family which featured a young daughter named Susan.  Eventually Susan met Wally and they married and now that Carlson painting has become part of the Laudeman family and part of the story of the Schooner America.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The "Make-A-Wish Trip To Disney World" Story

It was an ordinary day. Checking out the photos that Donya has sent to me of her family's recent trip to Disney World in Florida.  Donya is the remarkable mother of a newly turned five-year-old, Kennedy, who I have written about a few times on this site.  If you might remember, Kennedy was diagnosed at the age of 3 with a metabolic disease so rare that only eight other people in the world have ever been known to have it; and it is usually deadly.  
Kennedy on the left with sister Mia.
After months of searching, Donya was able to locate a doctor who examined Kennedy and recom- mended a liver transplant which was done and cured her of the disease known as S-adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase deficiency.  During the past year much has been written about this beautiful child and her medical problems and finally someone at the Make-A-Wish organization found out about it and made a call to Donya to offer her and her family a trip to Disney.  If you are not familiar with Make-A-Wish, it is a non-profit organization founded in the USA that arranges experiences described as "wishes" to children with life-threatening medical conditions.  
Logo for "Make-A-Wish"
The child's physician is the one who ultimately decides if the child is eligible.  Well, Kennedy's doctor approved of her receiving the "wish" so Kennedy, accompanied by her step-sister and mom Donya and step-dad Josh made a week-long trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  It turned out to be not only a trip, but a full-scale lifestyle adventure for the family.  They were picked up at their home in a limo and driven to the airport where Kennedy had the chance to sit in the cockpit of the plane and talk and touch the controls.  They had first-class seats and were introduced to the passengers on the plane just before take-off.  At the resort they were given a week-long room in the Make-A-Wish resort with all meals, tickets to Disney with a chance to go to the front of every line of every ride and have free photos taken whenever they wished.  They had the chance to meet every Disney character and a Princess arrived at their room at night to read a story to Kennedy as she went to sleep.  Amazing!  I have posted a few of the photos that Donya has sent to me, with her permission, so you can go along with the family as they had their "Make-A-Wish" trip of a lifetime.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Mia and Kennedy get to ride in the limo to the airport ...
… along with step-day Josh and mom Donya.
Waiting for the airplane to arrive!
The airplane pilot watches as Kennedy prepares to depart.
The family at Magic Kingdom. 
Kennedy on the Magic Kingdom carousel.
Hi, Mickey!
Kennedy getting dolled up at the Village Spa.
Sisters looking at the stars in the Castle of Miracles.
Hey SpongeBob!!
Got some fancy Mickey Ears!
Kennedy and Mia are Snow White and Elsa at the Bippidy Boppity Boutique.
Kennedy enjoying a horseback ride at the Village. 
Hello Pocahontas!  You're so beautiful in person!!
The final photo shows the sky in the Castle of Miracles.  Close to the center of the photo you can see a white dot.  That dot is directly under the star that was placed on the ceiling in the Castle of Miracles for Kennedy.  Disney and Make-A-Wish sure know how to create a once in a lifetime memory for young children.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The "Gun Control - LDub Speaks Out!" Story

It was an ordinary day. Hitting the keys on my MacBook Air while thinking exactly what I want to say without being too offensive or too defensive towards many of my readers.
The gun is a fake six-shooter.  Not too
many parents chance buying guns like
this for their children today for fear
they might be mistaken for a real gun
with terrible results.
Guess I should tell you that while a young boy I enjoyed playing with my six-shooter cap gun. Also went hunting with a 12-gauge shotgun a few times until I actually shot a rabbit and felt so bad that I had killed a defenseless animal that I gave up small-game hunting. Went deer hunting once, pulled out my white handkerchief to blow my nose and was shot at by another hunter. That was the end of that! Also coached the Manheim Township High School rifle team to a state championship before retiring due to hearing loss. Actually have a .22 caliber single-shot rifle and bullets in the cedar chest of my bedroom closet. Was a member of the NRA for quite a few years. So you see, I'm not against guns ... but, I never hunted with a automatic weapon or coached a shooter who used an automatic weapon that had a clip with multiple bullets or a magazine with 100 rounds.  And, when our Second Amendment was written, our politicians were using muzzleloaders that held a single bullet and more than likely didn't realize that at one time in history there would be automatic weapons such as those that could hold 30 to 100 rounds. When John Browning developed the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) he did so for the military in WWI.
The 1972 Manheim Township HIgh School State Champs
The rifles are single-shot .22 gauge bolt action rifles.  No
schools in Lancaster County allow live ammunition in the
schools anymore.  There are still rifle teams, but they all
use Air Rifles.
The FG 42 was a selective fire automatic rifle produced in Germany during WWII. The Germans were also the first to pioneer the assault rifle concept during WWII. The U.S. Army developed the semi-auto weapon M1 during WWII.  The first confrontations between the AK-47 and the M14 came in the early part of the Vietnam War. No where did I find that lethal assault weapons were developed for hunting animals or target shooting. And, I can't believe that our founding fathers had in mind that we needed to be armed with an assault weapon when they wrote the Second Amendment which said: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." In the past few years, Lancaster, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh passed city gun laws that stated a gun owner who has a gun stolen or lost must report that loss to the police within so many hours. The NRA sued the cities stating they couldn't pass a law that infringed on a gun owner's rights like they did.  Seems the State Supreme Court disagreed with the NRA.  We'll see what happens. My last approach goes like this ... a duck hunter is limited by law to three shots before he or she must reload their gun. If we can protect ducks in this manner without complaints from gun owners, why can't civilized humans not make this a law for all civilian-owned weapons? Just saying! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - Hope I didn't offend too many, but just wondering why we, as caring human beings, can't stop the carnage that has taken so many innocent lives in the past few years.  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The "Macaroni Street In Ocean City, NJ" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Just entered the seashore town of Ocean City, NJ on 9th Street and made the first right.  Instantly realized I had taken the wrong turn and looked to see how I could turn around.  Then I saw it, in front on this beautiful little one-story beach home with the beautifully manicured lawn.  There stood a green cast metal sign telling the story of the street that I had mistakenly entered; street known as Simpson Ave.  It was in the late 1800s that people from all walks of life made their way to this island, a stretch of dunes and swamps that run for seven miles and was used by Native Americans who were drawn to the island by the abundance of fish during the summer months.  The island had at one time been known as Peck's Beach, named after whaler John Peck who had a camp on the island where he used to store freshly caught whales.  
Looking toward 9th Street on Simpson Ave.
Ocean City also was used for cattle grazing and eventually as a boating and picnic area for main- 

landers.  Eventually in 1883 a bridge was built to the island and soon the railroad followed.  It is said that a few English Methodist ministers founded the island, but many others soon came, including a large contingency of Italians who had fled their native land due to severe droughts.  It seems that many settled immediately across the bridge on what eventually was known as Simpson Ave.  The street, between 9th and 14th Streets, garnered the name "Macaroni Street."  It was a neighborhood of large Italian families and boarders who were hard laborers who worked long hours and weeks to help their families survive.  It is said that they not only help build Ocean City, but fed her; and they still do with many of the eateries tracing their origins back to the late 1800s.  
Looking west from 9th Street on Simpson Ave.
The aromas that floated in the air around "Macaroni Street" came from the homemade meatballs and freshly baked bread.  Chicken coups and rabbit pens were frequently seen in the neighborhood and the nearby beaches would provide the crabs, clams and conch needed for stews and soups.  Sunday was a day of rest when families gathered to celebrate their heritage.  Names such as Mario, Luigi and Manco, still occupy signs that hang from eating establishments in Ocean City as they continue to make their presence felt in this beautiful seaside town.  What a neat and enduring legacy. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The "Day Two Of Vacation Photos" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Finishing loading my photos to share with you from our recent visit to Ocean City, New Jersey.  My family has been traveling together for perhaps 10 years now to share a week of fun in the sun and surf along the Jersey Shore.  Here are a few of my  memories from this year's trip.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Another day, another beautiful flower at the shore.
The moon rises over the Atlantic Ocean.
One evening there was a Mummer's Band on the boardwalk.  This fellow reminded me of myself, had I continued to play the accordion from when I was younger.  Maybe I could have been in a band marching down the boardwalk. 
The ferriswheel at the Wonderland Pier.
Flowers abound at Ocean City.
A view up the side of the ferriswheel as I was standing in line to ride it.
My wife says these are Petunias.  Just beautiful!
One day we took a ride to Cape May, NJ for a day of walking on Washington Street Mall and lunch at the Lobster House Restaurant.  This guy was my lunch.
Jewels of the Ocean.
One of the birds you could have your photo taken with on the OC boardwalk.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The "Day One Of Vacation Photos" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Just finishing loading my week's vacation photos into iPhoto.  Only had about  600 this year since my camera had a few days of malfunctions which made me have to go to my iPhone which takes so much longer to use.  Our trip to Ocean City, New Jersey has become a family tradition with my two sons, daughter, three grandkids, one guest, and Carol and I staying in the same location on 9th Street once again.  Upper level condo with over 30 steps is becoming a tough climb, but the half-block to the beach and boardwalk do make up for it.  I have pulled out my favorite photos and will share half with you today and the rest tomorrow.  Hope you enjoy a visit to the Jersey Shore through my photos as much as we enjoyed it this year.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

We begin our first full day with a trip at breakfast for cake donuts at Browns.  We are on vacation and you are allowed to eat just donuts for breakfast if you want! 
Flowers are in full bloom at the Jersey shore.

Early morning trip with my son Tad to watch him surf on the 7th Street beach yielded this photo.
One of our favorite stores had this display. 
Ferriswheel lights up the evening sky.
Managed to pick out my granddaughter Courtney as she was riding the ferriswheel.
This fellow was waiting his turn to have his photo taken with tourists.
The "Big Swing" is fun to watch, but not to ride.
Bikes are everywhere along the boardwalk.  This one caught my eye.
Flower that I hadn't seen before.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The "Trying To Catch A Wave" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Close to 7:00 am and my son Tad and I are walking the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey.  Heading the couple of blocks from 9th St. to the 7th St. beach which is known in Ocean City as Surfer's Beach.  

Tad is clad in his wet suit, walking barefoot and carrying his surfboard as we head down the deserted boardwalk.  There is no one in sight except a single fisherman on the jetty between the 6th and 7th St. beaches as we walk down the steps and head to the water.  Tad began surfing a year or so ago when his best friend, Josh, invited him to join him on a surfing trip to the Jersey Shore.  Tad's balance is near-perfect which I first noticed when he began skating in Middle School and joined a local ice hockey team.  His foot skills were remarkable and I marveled at how easy he made skating look as he maneuvered past other players on the ice rink.  Then it was his skate-boarding, boogie-boarding, body boarding and water-skimming which also amazed me.  
Looking toward the east and the sun rising in the sky.
But surfing, according to my son, is slightly harder than most other athletic sports that require exceptional balance.  He waxed his board to help him from slipping on the board and then grabbed the board and headed into the waves.  The waves today were very gentle, not the type for a good surfing day.  The tide was out and very shallow for the first 50 yards or more into the ocean.  He spent the next half-hour attempting to catch a good wave, but finally gave up and exited the water.  I had my camera along and tried to take a few photos of his experience, but wasn't too successful.  You'll see why todays adventure wasn't the success that you hope for when trying to find that perfect wave for surfing.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.   

Waxing the board
Heading into the ocean
Catching a wave
Riding the board
One more try
Maybe tomorrow!