Extraordinary Stories

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The "Holy Trinity Lutheran: Another Lancaster Church Rich In History" Story

The bell tower and steeple with weathervane
can be seen from all over the city. Notice

the statues at the top of the brick part.
It was an ordinary day.  Standing on the 4th floor of the Mifflin Street Parking Garage in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania taking a photo of Holy Trinity's magnificent church steeple.  For over 60 years I have been a member of St. James Episcopal Church on the corner of North Duke and East Orange Streets, but I have never ventured the block and a half to the corner of South Duke and East Mifflin until today.  Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity, with a street address of 32 S. Duke is Lancaster's only surviving house of worship erected during the colonial period.  It was in 1730 that sermons were read from books brought from Germany in peoples' homes in the town known as Hickory Town and thus, Holy Trinity was formally organized.  It was also in 1730 that missionary John Caspar Stoever began to baptize infants and three years later recorded their baptisms in the Holy Trinity's first record book.  
The front door on Mifflin Street.
At the time, about two thirds of the residents of Lancaster were German-speaking with many of them being members of Holy Trinity.  Most of the services and records of Holy Trinity were therefore in German until about 1825.  It was in 1734 that Lancaster, part of Penn's Woods Charter of William Penn, was laid out by James Hamilton.  It was incorporated as a borough in 1742 and as a city in 1818.  The congregation of Holy Trinity began to worship in a small stone church on the corner of what was known as the Duke of Cumberland Street; on the south side of Mifflin Street.  The church had a steeple and a bell, a raised pulpit with a sand clock to time sermons and a stone altar behind a walnut railing.  John Caspar Stoever was called to be the first pastor in 1736.  
Historical marker tells the history of
The Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
Eventually, in 1761 a new brick church at that location was started.  It was finally dedicated in 1766 with Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America, officiating.  The 195 foot tall church tower and steeple that I took a photograph of today was begun in 1785.  It's foundation is seven feet thick and seventeen feet deep.  The tower features statues of the four apostles: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, on the corners.  The original statues were made of wood, but were replaced with a more permanent material in 1948 and the original statues were placed inside the front door of the church.  By 1794 the steeple was completed and held a beautiful weathervane which incorporated the first commercial use of ball bearings in America.  In 1853 a chime of eight bells was added.  
The bells can be seen through the openings
in the brick windows.  On the corners of
the platform above the bricks are the
four apostles on the corners.
At the time the steeple was the second tallest structure in the United States.  The front door was originally on Duke Street, but was moved to the Mifflin Street side in 1853.  Well, I pushed open the Mifflin Street door and walked into a deserted church.  As I closed the door behind me, I wondered who might have have placed their hand on  that same doorknob in the past.  The soft lighting coming through the stained glass windows mixed with the ambient lighting created by the interior lights of the church and gave the church a mystical or spiritual feeling.  Totally quiet!  As I walked toward the altar and pulpit, listening to my own footsteps on the brick passageway, I passed row after row of enclosed wooden pews, much like those in my home church of St. James.  Each pew bore a number which at one time were rented to parishioners.  
The interior door knob is a lesson
in history all to itself.  Would love
to know the names of some who have
turned it as they left the church.
I found my way to the stained glass window that features "The Return from the Cross" which was made in 1913 by Louis C. Tiffany.  I stood in front of the pulpit which has a winding staircase around it that leads up into the apse.  As I turned around I was greeted by the unbelievable  view of the original Tannenberg organ case on the second level.  It was built in 1774 by the most accomplished organ builder in colonial America in the German baroque style.  The case now holds a four-manual Moller organ.  My visit today to one of the oldest churches in Lancaster was long overdue, but at least I can now say I had the chance to see the remarkable Holy Trinity Church.  And, now you too have had the chance see a part of history from America's storied past.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - click on photographs to enlarge them.

The original entrance that was changed in 1853. 
The case that held the original Tannenberg Organ.
Another view from the balcony.
A mystical entrance into the church.
The altar and apse as seen from the organ area.
The pews bear the original numbers from the 1700s when the pews were rented to the churchgoers.
This is the wooden sculpture that at one time was on the corner of the bell tower along with the other three wooden sculptures that represent the four apostles.  This is St. Luke the Evangelist.  It now stands inside the front door.
The 1913 Tiffany stained glass window titled "The Return from the Cross."

Monday, January 30, 2017

The "The Creative Arts: Part II - My Granddaughters" Story

Granddaughter Camille
It was an ordinary day.  My grand- daughter Camille is showing me the online version of her report card.  She has six classes with an 89% in one of them and 90% or over in the other five.  One of them she even had a 100%.  Course was listed as Creative Arts 47 and lasted the entire first semester of this school year.  Naturally I wondered how anyone could maintain a perfect average in anything so I had to ask. I was amazed when I learned the course was about music, specifically "Rock and Roll."  Wow!  For the next half hour we talked about my favorite type of music as well as what could be Camille's favorite also.  What a course to teach!  I would have loved teaching a class where we talked about musicians and their music from the early1950s to the 1970s.  
Buddy Holly and The Crickets
Camille and I talked about the artists as well as the songs of the "Rock and Roll" era and pulled "Rock and Roll" up on her phone to learn: In the early 1950s, a new form of music exploded onto the scene, exciting a growing teenage audience while startling many others who preferred the music of Bing Crosby and Patti Page.  The term "rock and roll" came to be used to describe a new form of music, steeped in the blues, country, and gospel.  Teenagers fell in love with this new sound, listening to it on transistor radios and buying it in record stores.  
The Beatles
Well, what a great topic to talk about with my granddaughter who is one year shy of being a teenager.  I told her of my first job at a department store and being in charge of the 45 records which were the same songs that she had just finished studying.  I asked her what musicians and songs they listened to and studied and she pulled up a chart on her phone that listed: (1) Band/Artist, (2) Time Period/Era of Rock Music, (3) Instruments, (4) Dynamics, (5) Tempo, (6) Tone Color/Mood, (7) Subject Matter (what it's about). Their teacher talked about the band or person, gave some background history, played a few songs from the artists and gave them incidentals such as the year it was produced and what country the group or person came form.  I told her I would have loved to have had a course when I was in school like the one she had.  I questioned her as to her favorite "Rock and Roll" band or artist and she told me, "I really liked the Beatles and Buddy Holly."  
A few of my wife's albums she
collected in her early years.
I told her Buddy was one of my favorites and that we also had the Beatles first album framed and hanging on our wall in the living room.  Happened to be my wife's favorite group.  Told her she can have it we ever decide to get rid of it.  Then she said, "The teacher gave us a pdf file with most of the lyrics on it from the different songs and artists we studied.  Would you like me to email it to you?"  Within a few minutes I had the file on my desktop, reading some of the lyrics with Camille.  We spent some time reading the lyrics and talking about what the artist might have meant that wrote the lyrics. She looked at me and said, "This is exactly what we did in class.  How did you know all this stuff?"  Well, I told her, "I lived all this stuff.  These were all written when I was a boy about your age or a few years older.  Neat to live in the "Rock and Roll" era."  She agreed with me.  It's neat to be able to spend time talking with your grandkids about life and when it hits home, it's rather easy to do.  They have a hard time seeing you as a kid, since it was in another time zone to them. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Pages from the PDF files that Camille's teacher used for her class.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The "The Creative Arts: Part I - My Granddaughters" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Sitting with my two granddaughters around their kitchen table talking about the creative arts.  These two girls have grown so fast that I can still remember sitting at this same table playing Old Maids and Uno, coloring with crayons and working on the Washington Post picture puzzle.  Courtney started high school this year while Camille is in 7th grade.  I have my camera sitting next to me, sharing the photos I took earlier in the day while watching Camille play basketball with her Middle School team.  Both girls have loved the creative arts since they were born, following their mother's lead in everything from painting to photography.  Courtney asked if she could take my photo so I passed my DSLR camera to her to see what she could do with a face that is almost five times her age.  She told me what she wanted me to do and I was amazed at what she was able to create using me as her subject. Then it was Camille's turn to try her hand at creativity.  After a short time they turned their talents on their dog Rocco.  I then tried a few of the two of them so we could talk about all of them and tell what they liked and what they disliked with all the photographs.  Interesting to listen to what two young women think about posing, photography techniques and the creativity that the camera and computer offer to the photographer.  I have included a few results so you can see our photo shoot. I plan to use a few as portraiture when needed.  Neat way to get to know my granddaughters as they are maturing so fast that it's scary.  Tomorrow I will present the creative arts through music as I take you into the world of Middle School curriculum and my youngest granddaughter. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

My granddaughter Camille.  I used the Antique #1 in iPhoto to add to the result.
My granddaughter Courtney done in black and white.
Courtney's portraiture of me in color.
Another of Courtney's photos of me done in black and white.
Camille's portraiture of her grandfather done in sepia.
And, another done in the Antique mode.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Lancaster's Civil War Hero" Story

John Carpenter holds onto the flagpole he erected at the Lititz "Square".
It was an ordinary day.  Scanning through the website "The Lancast- rian" when I came upon a photo that I wasn't sure where it was taken.  Photo- graph featured what looked to be a US Veteran soldier who was standing in a triangle of grass, holding onto what appears to be a flagpole and is surrounded with a brass cannon and a few piles of cannonballs which are stacked neatly in place around the cannon.  Found the photo was taken in the nearby city of Lititz, Pennsylvania and features the "Square".  It is the same square, or piece of ground, that I have written about before on which the ACLU tried to get the town to remove their Christmas creche since it violated the use of public space for religious purposes.  
1915 photo at the "Square" decorated for Christmas.
Seemed that this little piece of ground is not owned by the town, but by the Moravian Church which was, and still is, a very vital part of the town.  So, the creche remains on the same spot each Christmas season where this cannon and piles of cannonballs is shown in this black and white photograph.  The photo was taken in 1918 and features John Carpenter, a veteran and member of the G.A.R. who is holding onto the American flagpole.  The flag meant a lot to John, since he enthusiastically enlisted, at the age of 16, in the Union Army in 1863 and filled the gaps, along with his comrades, of Colonel Hambright's regiment at Chancellorville.  
This photo of the "Square" was taken in 1994 at Christmas.
He was also with Sherman's Army during its famous march to the sea and escaped unhurt until the Battle of Bentonville in March of 1865, when a bullet passed through his shoulder. Later that same day he had a finger shot off.  He loss quite a bit of blood and couldn't escape and was captured and sent to Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia.  After being released and returning to Lancaster County, he noticed one day, while visiting the display at the "Square" in Lititz, that there was no flag to accompany the cannons.  So he decided to add an eighteen foot flagpole over the two brass cannons.  Yearly, on the anniversary of the Battle of Bentonville, he put out the flag and when it wasn't on display would have it hanging above his bed so he could always sleep under the stars and stripes.  A true patriot who survived the Civil War and who happened to be fighting for the Union.  The "Square" has changed somewhat over the years, but the memories of that special spot in Lititz will never be forgotten.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

The "Living In A Black & White World" Story

Entrance into the darkroom is through
this revolving door.  Another exit door
into an outside hallway was also in the room.
It was an ordinary day.  Stopped for a visit in the classroom where I used to teach graphic arts and photography at Manheim Township High School in Neffsville; a small town to the north of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Just had to make a visit to the darkroom that I designed when the school was built and made sure I took my camera with me to document the occasion.  I taught photography years before digital cameras were available to the consumer which was late in the 1990s.  The students loved loading their own film into cassettes, taking photos with their SLR (single lens reflex) camera, developing the film in the darkroom and watching as the photo appeared on their photo paper in the tray filled with developing chemicals.  Talk about learning!  
Some of the old cameras that the new teacher loans to
the students for the class.  Not many people still have
SLR cameras that use film to take photographs.
And, I enjoyed teaching them how to do it as well as watch their faces as they saw the image magically appear in the tray.  As I stood in the darkroom today, aglow from the yellow-orange colored safelights, it brought back so many fond memories.  I looked around the room and noticed all the enlargers where the students made their black and white prints as well as the developing sinks in the one end of the room where they developed their film and prints.  
A bulk loader in a box with film cassettes.
Place looked almost the same as it did when I retired in 1999, but slightly updated with new plumbing and new safelights.  The darkroom which I designed was one of the best public high school darkrooms in Lancaster County and the prizes that my students earned in the National Scholastic Art and Photography Contest were unequalled.  The darkroom was actually a room off the graphic arts room, but large enough that I could hold classes in the room while there was another teacher teaching in the graphics room.  We had some of the best times in that little room.  Many a time I invited professional photographers from the community to talk to my classes about anything from portraiture photography to aerial photography to agricultural photography.  
The developing tanks sit, ready to develop the black and
white film that the students will use to make their own prints.
That little darkroom was a special haven at times for students who were unsuccess- ful in other classes, but ended up being successful professional photo- graphers in real life.  I have a few books and photographs at home from some of those students.  Then digital cameras arrived and I retired, but that darkroom is still very much alive with students, and a new instructor, who love to explore the almost forgotten art of black and white photography as it used to be.  Don't you just love it!!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Under safelight conditions, I took a few photos.  This is of one wall that holds enlargers used to make prints.
Sitting on a print holder is a test wheel used to select the perfect exposure time to make your print.
One of the three safelights in the room helps light the room without destroying the print paper.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The "The End Of A Sad, Sad Story" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Little did I know when I designed the entire 2005 Manheim Township Middle School Yearbook to look as if it were a newspaper did I realize that one of the 8th graders in that class would make the newspaper in cities all over the nation in 2007 when, as a sophomore in high school, he brutally murdered his best friend and that boy's parents in their home because he wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone.  
The cover of the 2005 yearbook
I have written two stories since I began my blog in 2009 telling about the young man who turned his thoughts into reality that early May 12th morning and eventually told his father what he did about a month later.  His father turned his son into the police after a few soul-searching days and eventually the boy, Alec Kreider, was sentenced to 3 consecutive life sentences.  The murders happened less than a mile from my home in Manheim Township and for that following month the neighborhoods nearby all felt uneasy, wondering if it could happen again.  Then, a year or so ago, the federal government said that juveniles could not be sentenced to life for murders they did as a youth.  And, they made it so that those who had committed murders in the past so many years could seek a resentencing hearing.  Alec Kreider was one of 13 juvenile lifers from Lancaster County that was eligible for that hearing, but those hearings have been delayed as Lancaster County is waiting on an upcoming state Supreme Court decision before re-evaluating the life without parole sentences.  So Alec has been sitting in the prison at Camp Hill waiting.  His last hope being put on hold must have gotten to him and on January 20 he killed himself by hanging himself in his cell.  
Photo of Alec Kreider appears on the right hand page of
the yearbook.  He is on the far right, second row.
Click on photo to enlarge it.
He was 25 years old and had been at Camp Hill since March 25, 2015.  He was pronounced dead at 4:31 pm at nearby Holy Spirit Hospital.  It ended the sad, sad story of a very bright young man who happened to have very evil thoughts and couldn't stop himself from carrying them out.  Lancaster County District Attorney said there is some relief that the victim's family members, who believed the life sentence was final, will not have to endure additional legal proceedings and will no longer have the sickening feeling that he might have someday walked free.  I'm not sure exactly how I feel about this situation.  Was Alec too young to really know what he was doing, as is the case with many juveniles who commit crimes, or was he just evil?  And how and whom can decide that?  A judge?  What makes a judge capable of determining if a prisoner who commits a murder, as a juvenile, can be released once again into society as an adult?  Should that judge be held liable if that prisoner is released and kills once again?  And, what was on the mind of Alec when he decided to take his life?  The families of the three who were murdered as well as the family of Alec will never get to know if he might have been released and perhaps lived a normal life.  Such a sad ending to a sad story.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The "Spell It With An 'A' Or An 'O', But He Was Still A Champ" Story

Monument to Leo Hauck in Buchanan Park.
It was an ordinary day.  Walking through Buchanan Park near Lancaster's Franklin & Marshall College when I came upon a small monument dedicated to "The Lancaster Thunderbolt", Leo Houck.  Read the plaque on the monument which brought back stories my dad would tell me about listening to Friday night boxing matches on the radio.  Boxing matches that were held at nearby Rocky Springs Park to the south of Lancaster. One of the greatest boxers of all time grew up in Lancaster.  Guy by the name of Leo Hauck who lived on Second Street in the city.  Leo was born November 4, 1888 and by the age of 14 was boxing flyweight.  Over the years he fought successfully in every weight division up to heavyweight.  In 2012 he was enshrined posthumously into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.  Well, reading the information on the plaque got my attention so I had to "Google" him and found him to be one heck of a great boxer as well as coach.  It was said in one newspaper article I read that "No other fighter who ever came out of this city, and few who ever fought anywhere, mastered the art of self-defense so thoroughly."  
Leo Hauck, the Lancaster Thunderbolt
His size of 5'8" never seemed to be a big disadvantage for the extremely strong and durable fighter whose career spanned 22 years.  During that time he fought 207 fights in every weight division from flyweight to heavyweight  He was at his peak at middleweight and fought for the World titles at middleweight and light-heavyweight, but never won them.  He fought one 6 round fight against World Champ George Chip, but the bout ended in a no decision which means Chip retained the title.  During his career he fought titleholders such as Frank Klaus, Joe Thomas, Johnny Wilson, Harry Greb as well as Chip.  He was born Leo Florian Hauck, but went by Leo Houck after a promoter misspelled his name on a poster.  
Leo  Houck, America's Premier Middleweight.
He used Houck the remainder of his life.  He was known for his lithe defense and devastating left triple-jab.  He approached each fight more as a chess match that as a street fight and considered boxing more about the sport than the violence. After retiring from boxing in 1923 he began another career as the boxing coach at Penn State spending the next 27 years helping the Nittany Lions become a collegiate powerhouse and guiding 48 boxers to college championships with one boxer, Billy Soose, eventually becoming middleweight champion.  "The Lancaster Thunderbolt" died January 12, 1950 at the age 0f 61.  I also found another interesting story that was reported in the Lancaster newspaper.  Story about Leo and his two younger brothers.  It was around 1910 that they moved to the Second Street home, but the year after Leo got married and moved out of the house.  
Drawing made on the 3rd floor bedroom wall on Second St.
By then he was an established boxer and his brothers used the many scrapbook stories and photos to create drawings on the third-floor bedroom walls of their Second Street home.  Those pictures have lasted thorughtout all those years and were recently viewed by Joe Hauck, one of Leo's children.  Even though the home on Second Street has changed owners numerous times since the 1910s, the drawings have never been destroyed, giving Lancaster and the boxing world a piece of history to remember one of their greatest members.  One last note about Leo Houck would have to be that in 1921 he was scheduled to fight then Heavyweight Champion Jack Dempsey at the Fulton Hall, now known as the Fulton Opera House, in downtown Lancaster, but Jack never showed up for the fight.  Just lucky for Mr. Dempsey he didn't or history may have have been changed that night.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Middleweight Champion
Tough looking boxer.
Another pose from Leo Houck.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The "Education At It's Best In Lititz, PA" Story

This sign tells the story of Linden Hall.
It sits in front of Mary Dixon Chapel.
It was an ordinary day.  Driving through the little town of Lititz, PA, a few miles to the north of Lancaster, and decided to stop and take a few photos of Linden Hall.  In the past I have written about Linden Hall being United States' oldest and longest continuous operating independent boarding school for girls.  I wrote a story when the Vienna Boys Choir made a visit to the school while in Lancaster to sing at a fundraiser for The Parish Resource Center when my wife worked there.  But, I never really walked the campus and had the chance to see how beautiful the Linden Hall campus really is.  The historical marker that stands in front of the Mary Dixon Chapel that was built in 1885 says the school was founded in 1746, but I have heard that may not be the case.  
Looking west toward the chapel.  The building in the
foreground is part of the performing arts wing.
It seems that the Moravians, who had established a settlement in the Lititz area, broke ground for the Moravian Gemein- haus, a combined chapel, schoolhouse and parsonage, in 1746 so I assume this is why they give that date as the founding date of their school.  The School actually opened two years later with four males and three females.  Eighteen years later the boys and girls were separated and educated in different buildings.  
The main entrance into Linden Hall.
Then in 1794 the first non-Moravian student, Peggy Marvel, was admitted to the school. The founding date can be said to have started at that time, since the Moravian school would have had students from the surrounding settlement.  But then records were found that state the first boarder may have arrived in 1747 from nearby Lancaster.  One way or another, the sign says 1746 and that's good enough for me.  
Some of the dormitories which sit next to the chapel.
And, the sign also states that it was a girls school so I assume somewhere along the line the boys departed.  Today the school has girls from 28 countries and 14 states.  The academically rigorous curriculum is well known throughout the world and draws top notch students who value the excellent education they gain at Linden Hall.  I can remember when I taught photography at nearby Manheim Township High School and competed against the photographic students from Linden Hall.  
Another view of the beautiful campus.
It was a fierce competition to see which school could win the most awards in the National Scholastic Art and Photo- graphy competi- tion.  The campus encompasses 49 acres in the middle of the town of Lititz.  There are approximately 200 students in grades 6-12 at the school which has a faculty ratio of 1 teacher to every 6 girls. 100% of the graduates enter a 4-year college after graduation.  
A beautiful fountain with statues of Dante and Tasso. 
As I walked the campus on this cold January morning, I was impressed with the condition of the campus as well as the buildings on the campus.  The school has a rather large performing arts building, newly renovated educational buildings, an impressive physical arts building with athletic fields and tennis courts, the oldest indoor pool in the county and an excellent horse stable, indoor riding rink as well as an outdoor riding rink and grazing areas.  All that to go along with their beautiful dormitories.  So, how about a few photos to give you a look at one of the best private girls schools in the United States if not the world. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Visitors are greeted to the campus and the chapel with this sign and street name.
I assume this is the mascot of the school.
One of many streetlights which carry banners.
This is the physical education building.
The indoor stable.
Outdoor stable and grazing area.
This 1996 medal was struck to recognize the country's oldest college preparatory school for girls which is located in Lititz, PA.  This medal is part of the Lancaster Coin Club's Collection.
Oh, the tales this door knob on the chapel could tell!  Can you imagine who might have turned it since 1746 to enter into the chapel.