Extraordinary Stories

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Friday, June 30, 2017

The "Some Things Still Taste Best Made The Old-Fashioned Way" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Sitting with Carol in the market area along the water's edge in the city of Marigot sharing a mango sorbet which we had just purchased at the sorbet Maison, a few steps from our bench.  The stand, located in the outdoor market on the French side of St. Martin, makes home-made ice cream, as well as sorbet, as you watch.  
A young girl churns the passion-fruit sorbet.
Getting us our mango sorbet.

 The owner of the stand, Liliane Hyman, hails from Guadeloupe where she acquired her ice cream making skills.  Sitting on the table in the stand are three wooden churns that are filled with ice then layered with rock salt which keeps the ice from melting too fast. In the center of the wooden churns are metal drums that hold the ingredients needed to create their treats.  The lid is placed on top and locked in place and the churning begins.  Takes about half an hour before the sorbet or ice cream is ready to eat.  I can remember years ago churning ice cream with my brother in the backyard of my childhood home on North Queen Street in Lancaster.  Began as something fun to do until your arm got sore from the turning.  I can only imagine how tough it must be for Liliane and her family to hand-churn buckets of ice cream and sorbet all day long in the intense heat of the outdoor Marigot market.  
 The flavors being made today were coconut ice cream, mango and passion-fruit sorbet.  We were told that the coconut ice cream is a favorite, but we opted for the mango sorbet since it sounded more Caribbean.  The coarse rock salt is imported from Guadeloupe and is called "ice cream salt."  Usually the guys in her family do the churning, but when we arrived today, a young girl was churning away on the passion-fruit sorbet.  They offered four sizes which cost $3 to $6 and were based on size of container.  We ordered the smallest size since they had just enough mango sorbet remaining in the metal tub to make that size.  It was actually just enough for the two of us on the hot day.  If you ever visit the island of Sint Maarten/St. Martin, stop in Marigot and visit the truly old-fashioned ice cream/sorbet making stand a try.  Neat to see it made as I remember from my youth. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.
A refreshing treat on a hot day.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The "Let The Band Play On! - Part II" Story

Barbara the organ grinder.  The crank organ
is an Original Raffin Uberlingen
It was an ordinary day.  The lady organ grinder had just stopped her song when the gentleman next to her shouted angrily at her, "You can't stop in the middle of a song like that!"  Barbara looked at him and said, "But, I told this nice gentleman that he could finish the song for me!"  I hated to be in the middle of the argument, but I happened to be that nice gentleman that Barbara was talking about.  Seems I was watching a half dozen or so organ grinders turning their crank organs when one of them looked at me and asked if I would like to try it.  Why not!  Not sure of the name of the melody that she was playing, but it looked like fun so I answered, "Why yes, thank you."  
LDub giving it a try.
And that's when the shouting began.  Barbara told me that some organ grinders think it unheard of to not finish the song you have begun on your hand-operated crank organ.  But she thought I might like to try it ... and she was right.  After all the shouting, I thought it good to stay and crank the organ until the song was finished.  Today I'm at Shupp's Grove which is in the little town of Reinholds to the northeast of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  This weekend, music boxes, crank organs, carousel organs and calliopes from mainly the east coast of the US have descended on the outdoor antiques and collectibles market to provide entertainment for its customers as well as help to draw a larger crowd to the week-end shopping venue.  
Sign indicating where Shupp's Grove is located.
Had to be at least half a dozen or more large carousel organs spread throughout shady Shupp's Grove which is known as "The Picker's market where REAL DEALS still happen." The majority of the crank organs had been gathered in a central space where at 2:00 PM today one of the grinders talked about crank organs.  
Marc cranks his crank organ.  This
too is a Orgelbau J. Raffin Uberlingen.
A bit of a history was told and then songs were played on a few of the crank organs for the enjoyment of those who gathered to hear them.  I waited until the presentation was finished to walk closer to the crank organs to get a better view of how they actually worked.  Most seemed to have multiple-tune cylinders with a comb-like piece that worked much like a player piano.  The notes for the songs are on a heavy-duty paper strip which has small holes that tell the instrument what note is to be played.  I found if I turned the handle at different speeds the song would naturally be played faster or slower.  I could change the tempo with the speed of my hand.  Pretty neat!  After the song came to an end, I thanked Barbara and began a tour of the larger carousel organs that were spaced around the edges of the grove so as not to have the music of the one overlap the music of another.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - I'm sorry to say that I have no video to show you, but I have added a YouTube video that is very similar to the type of crank organ I had the opportunity to play today.
This young man has just placed a paper song roll in his crank organ.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The "Let The Band Play On! - Part I" Story

Beautiful Shupp's Grove in Reinholds, PA
It was an ordinary day.  Walking the perimeter of Shupp's Grove in Reinholds, Pennsyl- vania, listening to the music coming from the many carousel organs that line the grounds.  The multi-acre, wooded area is a beautiful outdoor antiques and collectibles market which is known as "The Picker's market where REAL DEALS still happen.  Yesterday I wrote about the hand-cranked organs while today I will give you a glimpse at the very large carousel organs that once provided music for many of the carousel rides throughout the United States.  
Sign along the road to Shupp's
The organs at Shupp's Grove today belong to members of the Carousel Organ Association of America.  The elaborately carved and embellished instruments on display today imitate an entire marching band from horns to drums to cymbals.  I was amazed at the beauty of the organs as well as the electronics that are part of today's carousel organs. When I first entered the main gate at Shupp's I encountered my first carousel organ which belonged to a gentleman by the name of John Ravert.  As I was admiring his bright red trailer with his carousel organ visible inside it, he stepped next to me and began a conversation.  
John can be seen in his carousel organ
John is from Watsontown, Pennsylvania and this is his first visit to Lancaster County.  The Dewitte organ that he is exhibiting is one of two that were built in London, England in 1989 by John Paige and Judith Howard. It is based on a ninety key Carl Frei scale and has three hundred and thirty-seven pipes as well as eight bass pipes that have just recently been added.  The melody division contains twenty-three notes with two ranks of bourdon pipes, two ranks of violin pipes, two ranks of celeste pipes and one rank of piccolo pipes and tremulant.  Now, as you might have assumed, I copied this information from a paper John gave to me and it really means nothing to me, yet he did point out all the different pipes to me on the instrument.  He also told me that the word "DeWitte" means "The White One."  Easy to see due to the color of his street, or carousel, organ.  John has spent many hours with restoration and renovation of the DeWitte, and it shows.  Just a beautiful instrument that sounds as if I was riding the carousel on the boardwalk in Ocean City.  After half an hour, I thanked John for his time and headed to my nest carousel organ.  
Mr. and Mrs. Burl F. Updyke stand in front of their carousel organ
This one belonged to Mr. Burl F. Updyke.  I found Burl sitting about ten yards in front of it watching all the people admire his handiwork.  I say that, since Burl built this magnificent piece of musical machinery 19 years ago.  It is what is known as a Wurlitzer 105 and it is obvious that he takes great pride in his handiwork.  He was kind enough to show me his notebook filled with page after page of documentation as to the construction of the carousel organ.  He has shown the carousel organ up and down the east coast.  The sound of this instrument was amazing with a magnitude of instruments being played to the carousel melodies that he has picked.  Burl and his wife show the carousel organ in fairs, festivals, parades and events such as today.  Burl and his wife were kind enough to pose for me next to his organ.  You know, you meet the greatest people at events such as this and I have stopped at two instruments and have already been blessed with "welcomes" and conversation from both show participants. I checked my watch and found I needed to look more and talk less if I was to return home for my evening meal.  So, the next couple of carousel organs that I viewed will be shown to you by photographs instead of part of my story.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - Follow my story tomorrow to get a look at the many crank organs that were also part of the display.

The DeWitte carousel organ.  
A good look at the workings of a carousel organ.  Interesting to watch it while it is playing.
This is a Stinson Carousel Organ. 
As you can see, the above organ is owned by Ed and Bernice Evarts from New York.
A closer view of a miniature carousel that is part of the larger organ.
The carousel organ made and owned by Burl F. Updyke and his wife.
The band director can be seen in this photograph. 
A page from Burl's scrapbook showing the carving of the head of the band director.
The internal workings of the band director.
This circuit board which runs the band director is dated 2010.
Another photo shows the many electro magnets that control the musical part of the carousel organ.
This is a Johnson Style 157 Band Organ that sports 54 keys.  It too is a Wurlitzer style 150.
On the side door of the trailer that holds the carousel organ is a display of the many places the owner has traveled with his carousel organ.
This shows the music score that is used in the organ.
"The Dutch Canadian" is the name of this carousel organ.
The artistry and ornamentation of this carousel organ was perhaps the best in the display today.
Another Wurlitzer Military Band Organ, Style No. 164.  The organ was built in 1928 by the Rudolph Wurlitzer Co. of North Tonawanda, NY.  Only three of this model were ever built and this is the last one known to exist.
The horns are seen under the name of the organ, "The General". 
Uncle Sam can be seen in this photograph.  He serves as the band master for the carousel organ.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The "Saving A Piece Of History By Relocation" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Standing in front of what is known as the historic Leib House in Warwick Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with my granddaughter Camille.  Talked her into trying to help me find the house in return for going to Central Market in nearby downtown Lancaster and buying half a dozen of cream-filled Long Johns which are a baked treat never to be missed if you ever find your way to Lancaster County.  
Our destination today was 322 West Woods Dr.  A friend
told me not to let the close to 30 "No Trespassing", "Keep
Out", and "Private Property" signs from getting a few photos.   
Ever since I began writing my blog over 7 years ago, I have found the history of Lancaster County to be amazing.  The Leib House is a 205-year-old farmhouse that happened to be on a tract of land that was purchased by a company that has been building houses for people over the age of 55.  
The front of the home is to the left.  Beautiful brick work
with a great wrap-around porch.  Building is in great shape.
They claim that the old house happens to be in the way of progress and had plans to demolish it. Then along came members of the family that at one time lived in the old homestead and decided that the house deserved a better fate than the wrecking ball.  
The front of the house which features two date tablets
which bear the name of the building family as well as date.
Two members of the Buckwalter family, a father and son who were relatives of the family that had lived in the home for over 40 years, approached the developers of the housing property and said they would like to move the house to their nearby property, so as to keep the house in the family.  
One of the two tablets that hold the family name
and date of construction. The stone says: Built by John Leib
in the Year of our Lord 1812.  
They obtained a price of $150,000 to move it, but that doesn't include the preparation of the new site and the building of the foundation.  The house will be given to the Buckwalters free of charge if they care to move it.  The local Preservation Trust is thrilled that the house will be saved and will continue to part of the history of Lancaster County. Well, Camille and I found the location of the old farmhouse and drove back the lane to the house.  Along the way were a few "No Trespassing" signs, but I explained to Camille that a good friend of mine who lives nearby told me it was OK to travel back the road to take a photograph.  Wasn't long before we had walked around the house, taking photographs to share, and were back in the car headed to Central Market in downtown Lancaster for our long johns.  All is good today!   It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.   

Monday, June 26, 2017

The "Enter The Cone Zone" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Visiting one of my favorite new places, the LancasterHistory.org campus, at the corner of Marietta Avenue and North President Ave. in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  My wife bought me a year's membership to the campus as a Christmas gift and I have made quite a few trips to both the museum and President James Buchanan's home known as Wheatland.  Well, when I entered the museum lobby today and talked with the clerk she told me I may want to visit the Conifer and Dwarf Conifer garden in front of the building.  It is one of a dozen or so Conifer and Dwarf Conifer gardens in the United States.  With my camera in hand I walked across the parking area to find a beautiful landscaped garden with a very large array of trees.  I found a brochure in a holder nearby that told of the American Conifer Society which was asking me to join the society.  The not-for-profit American Conifer Society was founded in 1983 to promote the use and appreciation of conifers in the garden and landscape and to educate the public about the care and preservation of them.  I spent the next half-hour looking at the variety of conifers and dwarf conifers before returning to the museum and taking a few photos of the beautiful planters that stand in front of the museum.  Hope you enjoy my photographs of the wonderful conifers and flowers that make the exterior of the museum a welcoming place.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - Remember to click on photos to enlarge them.

Dwarf Korean Fir
The cone of the Dwarf Korean Fir.
The Miniature Japanese White Pine
The Miniature Japanese Umbrella Pine
The Miniature Himalayan Juniper
The Miniature Norway Spruce
The Cones of the Miniature Norway Spruce.
The Miniature Western Red Cedar
The Miniature Eastern White Pine

Shasta Daisy
Bleeding Heart
The entrance to LancasterHistory.org