Extraordinary Stories

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Monday, October 31, 2016

The "Faces Of Strangers: #42" Story

Sally Ward
It was an ordinary day.  Standing in the parking lot of the Grace Bay Supermarket talking to Sally who is a slim, energetic and extremely personable woman.  My wife had just finished telling be some of the story of Sally's life which Sally shared with Carol while standing in line at the grocery store in Providenciales (Provo), Turks & Caicos.  Since her car was parked directly across from our car, I thought it would be interesting to also talk with her, so I offered to take her shopping cart back to the store with me and began my own conversation.  Sally had grown up in the state of Connecticut and her father was the dean of a private school in the state and a few of his students were members of the famous and wealthy Dupont family that had originally started the Dupont Company.  The Duponts had plans to visit Providenciales and mentioned to Sally's father that they were looking for a babysitter for their children.  Her dad said his daughter, Sally, could be their babysitter for the visit and it seems, 46 years later, that she loved Provo so much during her trip with the Duponts, that she eventually stayed.   She told me that the Duponts were mainly responsible for the development of Providenciales after they had arrived.  The island is amazing and we can see its growth since we first visited in 2007.  Asked Sally if I could take her photo and she was happy to oblige.  I wish I would of had more time to talk to this interesting woman about her life in Provo with the Duponts, but we both had other matters to attend to.  I guess you never know who you may find yourself in front of when visiting the grocery store.  Could yield an interesting story to say the least.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The "Vacation Safety" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Checking my emails and found one with a listing from Oyster.com.  The email contained copy and photos with an article titled "8 safest travel destinations" and referred to the islands in the Caribbean.  Carol and I have been traveling to the Caribbean since the early 2000s, sometimes with friends and other times by ourselves.  There have been very few times that we didn't feel safe no matter what island we may have been touring.  
A few places we did find unnerving, with one being an island and the other a location within a country.  In Acapulco, Mexico there were armed guards located at every tourist stop we made as well as the cruise dock where the boat docked.  Automatic weapons were held in ready position throughout the day we spent in that location. During a trip to Jamaica we felt safe while staying at our resort, as well as on side trips we took through the concierge at the resort, but while going and coming from a few of the side trips we took, armed guards were visible on many street corners in the towns we passes through or visited.  Every other island we visited felt safe to us, provided we stayed aware of our surroundings at all times.  But, we also do that in Lancaster as we work, shop and visit with friends and relatives.  The article on Oyster.com listed eight islands in the Caribbean and said that crime is more prevalent that some realize, and even though violence rarely touches the nearly 26 million tourists who go there every year, incidents (mostly petty crimes) can happen anywhere and at anytime. A few websites I frequent tell of island crime from time to time, but crime seems to make news, no matter where the locale.  Here are the eight islands and a brief account listed on the island we have been lucky enough to visit.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales
  1. Turks and Caicos - We have visited Providenciales twice and will step on their shores again very soon.  T&C is a British territory which includes 40 islands and cays with only 12 of them inhabited.  Crime is minimal so T&C is considered one of the safest places to live and visit in the Caribbean.  We found that to be true on our previous visits.
    Shoal Beach in Anguilla
  2. Anguilla - This British territory depends on tourism for their livelihood, as so many islands do, so this is another fairly safe location to visit.  As an example: the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime listed Anguilla among the safest Caribbean islands.
    Cayman Island
  3. Cayman Islands - Yet another British territory, the Cayman Islands consist of three islands which have some of the best scuba diving in the Caribbean.  It is suggested by the US Department of State that you keep your doors and windows locked due to petty crime.  We were on this island during a cruise stop one year and didn't feel threatened at any time during our visit.
    Long Bay Beach in BVI
  4. British Virgin Islands - I'm beginning to think the British are doing something right to deter crime.  There are more than 60 islands which are part of the BVI.  We spent a bit over a week on Tortola with two visits to Virgin Gorda during that time.  We visited the waterfront as well as took taxi trips through the back streets of Tortola at night and never felt unsafe.  Again, we never put ourselves in a compromising position and kept our wits about us at all times.
  5. Martinique - Ah, a French territory that is a secret gem as stated in this article.  A cosmopolitan destination with luxury resorts, stylish hotels and luxury villas.  Carol and I have never been to this island so I have very little knowledge of the island.  It does state in the article that there may be those who prey on tourists and to not leave your valuables unattended on the beach.
  6. Guadeloupe - Another French territory that has five islands as part of it.  It is rare to see crime, but island-wide strikes can disrupt travel and visitors are urged to avoid the shady side of Point-a-Pitre.  Another island we have never had the chance to visit.
    Orient Beach in St. Martin
  7. St. Martin/Sint Maarten - This dual island is French and Dutch.  I have written many times about our visits to this island.  We have witnessed a few crimes, such as a robbery at a hotel where we were staying and someone breaking into our rental car.  But, with the Dutch Police and the French Gendarmes, crime is kept to the petty variety.  My biggest complaint are the numerous motorcycles and dirt bikes that hug the center line and scare the crap out of you while speeding past you on the roads.
    Flamands Beach in St. Barts
  8. St. Barts - The final listing is a French territory.  Carol and I made a day visit to the island while visiting in St. Martin for vacation.  The island is amazing with many beautiful beaches and great shopping.  But, it is an island for the rich and famous.  The island is considered extremely safe since the government wants to keep their wealthy visitors making return trips.  But, it is still suggested you keep your room and car locked. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The "Faces Of Strangers: #41" Story

Effem "Egghead" Stubbs
It was an ordinary day.  Walking into the Grace Bay Supermarket on Leeward Highway in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, when this fellow who was sitting close to the entrance smiled at me and said, "You look a spry 35 years old today, Sir." I smiled at him and continued to follow my wife into the supermarket.  Once inside I decided I needed to call the car rental company and tell them I had just run over a curb in the parking lot of the supermarket and that the tire was now flat and I had damaged the hubcap.  Talked to Amos, who had rented me the car about 15 minutes ago, and walked back outside to wait for him to arrive.  As I exited the supermarket I saw the fellow who had talked to me before and walked his direction.  Introduced myself and started a conversation with him to kill some time until Amos arrived.  Guy's name was Effem Stubbs and he had been born on the island 37 years ago.  Very likeable fellow and I immediately knew I was in for a real treat.  Effem had been in a severe automobile accident in his late teens and had been severely injured.  "My own fault since I wasn't wearing a seat belt.  I spent quite a bit of time in the hospital and then spent the next couple of years on my back with what they thought was a spinal injury.  Then they realized it was a brain injury that affected motion in my back and after some time I was able to walk again.  Eventually traveled to the States to study Architecture in college.  Was back on the island for a visit when I was in another accident and injured again."  The entire time Effem was telling me his story he was commenting to customers entering the store.  "Sweetheart, you look fabulous today," he said to one young woman.  To another woman he said, "You don't look a day over 20 today."  Effem is now 37 years old and this personable guy still has some physical problems that prevents him from working.  His main reason for being at the store is to ask for financial help.  I said to him, "Allow me to take your photo and I'll donate to your rehab."  Gave me a good pose just as Amos arrived in his pickup truck.  Amos and Effem were good friend I found out and after showing Amos where I was parked, he followed me in his truck to my rental car.  "You know Effem?" I asked Amos.  "Sure, but I call him "Egghead".  We've been good friends for years.  Nice guy who's had plenty of bad luck during his life."  Well, the tire only needed air and the hubcap had already been damaged.  Lucky me.  I thanked Amos and told him I was sorry to bother him and made my way back toward Effem.  "He told me your name's Egghead," I said to him.  Brought a big laugh as he called out to another young woman.  I thanked him for his conversation and headed back into the store to see what my wife had in the shopping cart by then.  My day had been a success already having gained a new friend in Effem.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The "The Correct Way To Make Tomato Soup" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Pulled out a can of Campbell's Tomato soup from the pantry, grabbed the tab on the top to remove it, scrapped the contents into a sauce pan and added a can of milk.  Sound like what you would do when making a bowl of tomato soup for lunch.  There have been many times when I just used water instead of milk, but when I wanted a bowl of tomato soup that was creamy and with more body, I used the milk.  
Campbell's soup wagons getting ready to make deliveries.
Last couple of years the milk has become no-fat milk, but the soup still seems to have more body than when made with water.  Now, I realize that you can buy Campbell's Tomato soup with other items in the soup such as tomato pieces or even rice.  Still doesn't matter to me.  As long as it is a creamy red color, it is going to be good.  Mom made Campbell's soup for me when I was a kid and I still love the stuff.  Grab a few Keebler Original Club Crackers, snap them in half and drop them in the soup and your meal is complete.  
One of the Campbell Soup Kids.
I recently got an email from The Brickerville Diner and Silver Spring Diner that featured a story titled "From Soup To Nuts."  Story was about the Campbell Company and how it all began.  Started in 1869 by Joseph A. Campbell, a fruit merchant and Abraham Anderson, a box manufacturer.  They sold vegetables, jellies, minced meats, condiments and canned soup in New Jersey.  Anderson left the partnership in 1876 and in 1897 John T. Torrance, nephew of the company's general manager, Arthur, began working  for the company. John was a chemist who was responsible for developing a viable method for condensing soup by halving soups heaviest ingredient: water.  John eventually became the company President from 1914 to 1930 and buying out the Campbell family.  
Another Campbell Soup Kid.
In 1898, Herberton Williams, a company executive, had the company adopt the carnelian red and bright white color scheme that still graces their cans.  Since the company began advertising, they have marketed the product to appeal to children.  It was in 1905 that the Campbell Soup Kids first appeared.  Grace Drayton, staff artist for the Philadelphia Press and Evening Journal, was the illustrator for the Campbell artwork.  
1964 Andy Warhol artwork.
Over the years there were approximately 16 different kids who were depicted.  Their pictures were everywhere from the sides of streetcars to magazine ads.  The faces of the kids also were found on children's dolls, on clocks and cookbooks as well as on mugs, napkins, playing cards, toys, watches, t-shirts and the list goes on and on.  Perhaps you might have seen a product with a Campbell's kid on it if you travel to antique markets.  Campbell's Soup has also been featured in artwork, specifically work done by Andy Warhol. As for me, I still enjoy a nice hot bowl of Campbell's tomato soup with a few Club crackers in it.  Doesn't matter what time of the year, it still reminds me of good times from the past.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The "Marigot Through The Ages" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Pulled up a series of websites that post photos of different parts of the island of St. Martin/Sint Maarten.  If you have been reading this site over the past eight years, you probably realize by now that my wife and I have a little spot in our hearts for this beautiful dual-country Caribbean island.  One half of the island is Dutch while the other is French.  They each have their own capital which has the government buildings needed to carry out the administration of their side of the island.  My story today deals with the French town of Marigot which happens to be the capital of the French side.  Carol and I have made many visits to Marigot over the past fifteen years and enjoy the architecture, shops, waterfront market, restaurants as well as the people who call the city home.  I have posted photographs today that date back to 1902, about 50 years after photography began.  Follow the photographs as I take you through the 20th century and into the 21st century with most photos showing you the waterfront of the capital of the French side of St. Martin.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary day.

Downtown street in 1902.
Margot waterfront boat races in 1920.
Marigot from above the city taken in 1936.
Waterfront in 1940.
Heading toward the waterfront in 1950.
The waterfront sometime between 1956 and 1963.
A boat race in 1960.
Heading toward the waterfront in the early 60s.
Another view of the waterfront from the 1960s.
The town is beginning to resemble what it looks like today.  This also is from the 1960s.
Waterfront photo from the 1970s.
Market along the waterfront taken in the 1980s.
Another photo from the 1980s taken along the waterfront.
1985 waterfront photo.
Waterfront photograph taken after Hurricane Luis in 1995.
GoogleEarth photo taken of the waterfront in 2011.
Photo I took in 2006 of the waterfront from the Fort Louis which overlooks the harbor.
And ... the final photograph I took this past spring at the marketplace in Marigot.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The "Storied History Of St. Paul's In Stone Harbor" Story

The original St. Paul's Church in 1911.
It was an ordinary day.  Just walked out of St. Paul's Catholic Church in Stone Harbor after snapping a few photos of the beautiful interior of the church that sits along Third Avenue in this beach town located in New Jersey.  The church is part of the Saint Brendan the Navigator Parish and recently celebrated 100 years as a parish in 2013.
Parishioners enjoy a service in the 1930s.
Back in the early 1900s there were about fifty families that lived on the sparsely populated southern end of Seven Mile Beach which was home at the time to herds of livestock, windswept beaches and salt marshes.  With the influx of families, churches soon followed, with St. Mary's Episcopal Church being the first built.  Then in the summer of 1910, Catholic services began in an abandoned house at the foot of 83rd Street with Father Maroney of St. Ann's Church in nearby Wildwood visiting to officiate.  
Preparing for the blessing or the original church.
In 1911 plans were made to construct the first Roman Catholic Church in Stone Harbor.  By the Fourth of July of that year the church was completed and finally dedicated as a parish on June 19, 1913. As the parish grew it became apparent that a new church was needed and in 1952 ground was broken for the current St. Paul's Church at the corner of Third Avenue and 99th Street. The church cost $250,000 with another $50,000 spent on furnishings.  This church was dedicated on July 5th, 1953. Today St. Paul's is part of the Saint Brendan the Navigator parish which was created in 2010.  
This is St. Paul's Hall which eventually held the school.
It was built in 1942 and demolished in the 1970s. 
A few firsts for St. Paul's when it was first built were: (1) the first baptism on July 6, 1913, (2) the first Catholic child born in Stone Harbor to Michael Lennon and Anna Kelly, (3) the first funeral on August 27, 1914 when parishioner Julien Van Thuyne died at the age of 82, (4) the first marriage on November 4, 1914 uniting William Reynolds and Ada Tear.
The current St. Paul's Church.
In 1958 the church opened a grammar school which educated children from first through eighth grades which eventually closed in 1969.  Recently Father Mark Cavagnaro was installed as the Pastor of St. Brendan the Navigator Parish and preaches and offers Mass at the historical St. Paul's Catholic Church in Stone Harbor, New Jersey.  As I walked around the beautiful church today I loved the uniqueness that it offered.  There wasn't a soul in the church but myself, yet I felt as if someone was watching over me as I snapped a few photos to share.  I was especially moved by the drapped photo of Mother Teressa of Calcutta who was recently Caononized.  Neat experience!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The interior  of St. Paul's.
Portraiture of Mother Teressa of Calcutta on display near the altar.
Sculpture of Saint Paul which sits next to the church.  The plaque attached to it proclaims: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith and now the prize - Eternal Life."  2 Timothy 4:7
One of my favorite photos I took.  Features the Virgin Mary holding The Christ Child.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The "Nanny Lou And Her Stories" Story

The Lancaster Marionette Theatre, formerly
known as "The Hole In The Wall Puppet Theatre"
It was an ordinary day.  Standing inside the front door of Lancaster Marionette Theatre on Water Street in downtown Lancaster talking to Mary Lou Broucht.  Mrs. Broucht, as I always called her, was for many years the assistant minister at St. James Episcopal Church which is located a hop, skip and jump from the home in which she lives above the theatre.  One of Mrs. Broucht's responsibilities at the historical church on North Duke Street was coordinating the Sunday School as well as working with the church's high school youth group.  All three of my children had the chance to get to know Mrs. Broucht during their high school years at St. James.  
Mary Lou Broucht and her son Rob.
She in turn enjoyed my kids, but seemed to favor our youngest, Paul, or as we call him Tad, since he was born in our nation's Bi-Centennial year and carried the middle name of one of Lancaster's Patriots, Thaddeus Stevens.  Recently Mrs. Broucht wrote a book dealing with her time as Sunday School teacher and director titled "Pizza & Post Cards - Revelations of a Church School Teacher."
Mrs. Broucht's newest book.
The 60-page softbound cover book tells the exploits that filled her life during the years she served the church as a teacher, director and coordinator of the youth of the church as well as the many trips she coordinated and took with the youth to such exotic locations as Great Britian, Japan and Italy.  To finance the trips, Mrs. Broucht introduced her traveling troupe of Sunday School students during Chapter 5 in her book.  Chapter was titled "Show Biz" and told how the St. James students were "giving back" by way of performing in order to raise the funds to travel.  The first big production for the church group was a take-off of the stage show called "Cats" which the St. James youth performers called "Episcocats".  After hours and hours of practice the group took the show on the road to local retirement and nursing homes with  fantastic applause.  
A photo taken in Japan of the parish who sponsored the
group that Mrs. Broucht took there to perform and tour.
Reading her book and looking at all the photos brought back so many memories from the times when my three children participated in the perfor- mances.  Mrs. Broucht then tells, in Chapter 7 (titled "Sayonara"), of our sister Episcopal church in the diocese of Kito Kanto offering to  host the youth group at St. Paul's boarding school.  My son Derek was so excited and even missing a week of high school baseball didn't stop him from being part of "Side By Side," the Noah's Ark show they performed.  A few days of the trip were spent with a host family which in Derek's case was spent with a family that spoke only Japanese and ate only fish.  Being that Derek didn't like fish or couldn't speak anything but English made for a rather long couple of days.  Came home weighing a few pounds less.  Our daughter Brynn had the chance to travel to Italy with Mrs. Broucht as did our youngest son, Tad.  
Photo from the book shows Rob Howry (left) with my son
Tad and another member of the group that went to Italy.
On page 42 of her book, in the chapter titled "Pizza", she tells of this one young boy who was traveling with the group that wanted to have MLB, Mrs. Broucht's initials, carved in his hair on the back of his head.  "It took a lot of pointing and hand language to convey this to the Barber of Assisi ......."  That young boy was my son Tad!  She also tells a few touching stories in her book, one being about Rob Howry, the youngest son of friends who traveled every summer with my family on vacation to the Chesapeake Bay.  At the time the troupe was practicing for The Passion Play and on Palm Sunday, Rob happened to be at home with his father when he suffered a fatal heart attack. Rob felt it better to go to practice that Sunday afternoon to be with his friends to help him with his grief.  
Interior lighting at the Lancaster Marionette Theatre.
I talked with Mrs. Broucht for a few more minutes and than asked if she would autograph my copy of "Pizza & Post Cards - Revelations of a Church School Teacher." I told her it would be a gift for Tad for Christmas and she smiled as she wrote: For Tad, One of my very favorite church school students.  Love and God Bless.  Mary Lou Broucht.  Finally, it was time for me to depart, since Rob, her son and owner of Lancaster Marionette Theatre, was opening the front door to those who were going to enter for the evening's puppet show and be listening to "Nanny Lou", Mrs. Broucht stage name, introduce the show and tell the children and their parents about the puppets, that were all made by her son, and how they worked.  Fantastic place to visit and if you are ever in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, visit the Theatre and see one of Rob's original productions.  You will be amazed and will thoroughly enjoy your visit and get a chance to purchase your own copy of Mrs. Broucht's new book. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

The "A Real Or Fake Hoar House In Lancaster" Story

It was an ordinary day. Searching the Internet for something and I just came across an old list of restaurants with funny names.  What's even more unusual is one of them was a restaurant that used to be in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Place called The Hoar House on South Prince Street in downtown Lancaster.  I'm not sure if I ever ate there, but it eventually was renamed McFly's Pub and then in 1993 changed to The Center City Grille.  The name of the restaurant is rather funny, but the story behind how it got it's name, if that story is true or not, is just as interesting.  Allegedly in 1873 the good people of Lancaster decided that the city needed a first class hotel.
An old postcard of The Stevens House in downtown Lancaster.
It was to be built in the first block of South Prince Street and named after Thaddeus Stevens, the prominent Lancaster resident who was a member of the United States House of Representatives and who helped lead the way to abolishing slavery.  Mr. Stevens had died five years earlier.  The only problem was that the panic of 1873 took over and selling the stock to help build it became a chore.  
A later view of the Stevens House.
So, someone came up with the idea that the hotel would be named after the person who had bought the most stock.  Well, the prestige of having a first-class hotel named after you really boosted sales.  Finally the day arrived and ... yep, you guessed it.  Guy by the name of Jacob Hoar had purchased the most stock.  Can't imagine what everyone thought when they announced what the place was to be called.  But, those in command decided it was to be the Stevens House after all.  So eventually someone got the idea that Mr. Hoar had waited long enough and decided that the restaurant at the hotel would be called The Hoar House.  
A Hoar House matchbook cover.
But wait! While doing some online research for my story I found on a site about old time Lancaster that one poster stated, "The story is an awesome total fabrication made up in 1975 or so by a part owner of the restaurant.  His name was Dickie Doo (actually Gerry Granahan) from the local rock group Dickie Doo and the Don'ts.  He had his office along the King Street side of the hotel."  Then I found on another website that The Hoar House Restaurant is a Pennsylvania Fictitious Name. There was a filing in Lancaster County Courthouse to that effect and the file was dated February 21, 1979.  So, what should I believe?  It was reported in another posting that in 1990 The Hoar House was picked as one of the best places you used to be able to go for Happy Hour. So, did The Hoar House ever exist?  Just happened to be looking on eBay and found of all things, a matchbook cover for The Hoar House in Lancaster. Said, The Hoar House and Mame's Lounge, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Jeez, now I have to start to try and find information about Mame's.  Maybe she was the Madame of the Hoar House.  That's enough for now!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.