Extraordinary Stories

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

The "You Need A Strong Stomach" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was recovering from my ordeal. Just sitting down relaxing and thinking if I did everything right. I'll start this whole story by saying that I don't like to see blood! It makes me pass out!! OK, here goes. I'm in my graphics shop teaching during 6thperiod when a student from the wood shop next door opens my door and says, "Mr. Mc needs your help right now!" I walk to the door and see Jeff, who teaches wood shop at MT High School standing next to a student who is in a chair, with a grip on his forearm and holding it in the air. There seems to be something wrong with this scene I thought. Then I saw what was wrong. The boy was missing a few of his fingers. I ran out of the room and headed toward the two of them. Then I saw the blood. Not good! I was scared. The class had just finished working and the table saw had just been turned off, but the boy who was injured had started to clean it with a dust brush too soon and ran his hand across the blade which was still extended and not totally stopped. I asked Jeff what he wanted me to do. He calmly told me he sent someone for the nurse and asked if I could find the fingers that were somewhere near the saw. Sure I could! Gulp! I instantly remembered a few things from my first aid course we were required to take in college and told another student to run to the cafeteria and get a bag of ice. Then I forgot about the blood. Not long after I found the three pieces of finger and the boy was back with the ice. I packed them in the ice and gave then to the nurse. The fingers had an eerie look and color to them, but then they weren't attached. I started to clean up what I could. Shortly after this an ambulance arrived and took the boy with the bag to the hospital. We did everything right we were told. Sad ending to the story though. His fingers were so badly damaged they couldn't be re-attached. To this day I can still see the scene when I think about it. Funny how you can remember all the details to something as bad as that. All but the blood. Luckily!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The "Canal Days" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just finished our breakfast at our hotel in Vicenza, Italy. The "We" is a group of 31 tourists who are led by Mary Lou Broucht who is a retired minister from our church. Most of the group are members of St. James Episcopal where she was a minister. We are getting ready to board a bus and travel to Venice for the day. Yep, that VENICE! Can hardly wait. After arriving at the waterfront we board a ferry for our trip to the island. I strike up a conversation with our tour guide for the day who is a resident of Venice. One thing I still remember is her concern about the rising waters and how every year the city of Venice drops lower into the sea. Some parts of the island are under water during high tide. The island grows larger as we get nearer and the anticipation of stepping foot on such a historical place is great. Upon landing we make our way from the water front to Doge's Palace where we begin our tours for the day. Doge's Palace is Venice's "White House". We exit the Palace and walk across the Bridge of Sighs to the prison. This bridge is the last view of land that most prisoners had before heading to the dark, walled prisons. We then take a tour of the Basilica Di San Marco which is thecathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. It is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture. One of my favorite stops on the island is St. Marks Square where all the local people gather. It is the only urban space called a piazza in Venice. Hundreds of pigeons are also part of the scene. Truly a fun experience and very Italian. Naturally, we had to board a gondola for a ride through the canals. I was the only male of the six people on the romantic tour. Truly romantic tour of Venice, but Carol wants to return someday and ride just with me. Now that's ROMANTIC! The gondolier gave us a history lesson as we maneuvered through the canals. And, he was thoroughly entertaining. The canals are a maximum 15 feet deep. A police boat, an ambulance boat and a variety of personal water craft (non-motorized) passed us on the trip. No swimmers and NO CARS! It was fantastic. For lunch Carol and I had a panini and gelato. How Italian can you get? Purchased a beautiful bracelet made with Murano glass beads. The island of Murano is off the coast of Venice. For years glass was made in Rome, but the Romans, fearing that the glass furnaces would cause fires and burn theirwooden bridges, ordered the glass makers 1n 1291 to move to the nearby island of Murano. We spent the afternoon walking the pathways lined with art galleries, pubs and neat houses with wash hanging from outside wash lines. We also spent time walking the streets which circumvented the island. Street vendors, magicians and entertainers as well as hundreds of tourists shared the walkways. An incredible day in one of the most beautiful cities I have every seen. I certainly could live there!! If only I could speak Italian! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Photos are top to bottom: Basilica Di San Marco, St. Mark's Square, our gongolier, a street (waterway), and Carol and I walking the streets

Friday, January 29, 2010

The "Neighborhood Concert" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was out mowing my lawn on my Craftsman riding mower. Mower is fairly loud so sometimes I sing along to the beat of the mower noise. Sometimes I sing an oldie. Sometimes I sing Jimmy Buffett. Sometimes I sing opera. Sometimes I sing awful. I always sing loud, but I don’t think the neighbors can hear me. As I was rounding the bend out front it sounded as if there really was music in the background of my singing. I stopped and turned the mower down. I must be going crazy. You know, crazier than I really am. OK, keep on mowing Larry. After a few minutes I hear it as I head up the hill along the side of my house. This time the music is way off key to the song I’m singing. I know it's not me!! Turn the mower down. Still music......so I turn the mower off. Still there. That’s when I remembered that today is the day of the Fall Fest. The day of Country music in the park near my house. Country radio station WIOV-FM, who sponsors the free concert, moved it after 16 years from Longs Park near Park City to Overlook Park which is right next to me. I sort of like country music since Jimmy Buffett has close to the same genre of songs. I take a stroll to the top of the hill overlooking the park and see that they are setting up the sound system. Great view from where I am. The concert starts tomorrow at 2:00 PM and will run till dark. I will only get home tomorrow from a trip to the Chesapeake at 4:00 so I can hear some of the concert. Headlining the concert is Darryl Worley who had 3 number one hits, Little Big Town who is a quartet of two guys and two girls, Chris Young and Sarah Buxton. I really don’t know any of the performers, but my daughter, who loves country, knows the songs they sing. Saturday rolls around and Carol and I take our daily walk through the park early in the morning. They expect to have about 30 to 40 THOUSAND people today. Where do they all come from? Judging by the amount of port-a-potties they have, they can accommodate more than that. The place is starting to fill up already. Vendors are setting up with T-shirts, souvenirs and a vast array of food and drink. We head back home. Later in the day, after I return from my trip, I head to the top of the hill to see what's going on. It is certainly loud. I get to hear a few of the artists and the huge crowd was very well behaved. The only thing that I am disappointed about is they have closed my neighborhood to traffic. I could easily have parked 30 or more cars on my property at $10 a shot. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The "House of Memories" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were getting ready to move. Move from our old homestead. 925 Janet Ave. We lived there 27 years. All our kids were born there. My parent's lived right down at the end of the block. Carol's dad lived two blocks away in an apartment unit. We moved there from an apartment unit in Manor House Apartments. That was a neat place, but not ours. 925 was a three story, semi-detached English Tudor style house with a beautiful working fireplace on a tree lined street in one of the nicest areas in Lancaster, Grandview Heights. An elementary school was a block away. Perfect! 2nd floor had 3 bedrooms and a bathroom, but we had 3 kids. I eventually made the third floor into a bedroom and added a bath for our 2 boys. Now that was a neat bedroom. Big! Size of our whole house. Built a big desk with shelving between their beds. Original hardwood floors! There was an access door into the craw space above. Climbed up there to put more insulation into the ceiling. A few times I had to use a 40 ft. ladder from the outside to get up to the roof for repairs. You could see all over Grandview Heights from up there. Scary, also! On the second floor we had a laundry chute that went to the basement. At times we would have to used yardsticks taped together to open it when someone would stuff too much in it. I also had to remodel the bathroom because of a leak in the plumbing I couldn't find. Had to take the old ceramic tile up and when I did there was buckets of cinders under them. I was told that was to help with condensation. This all took place when Carol was THREE WEEKS overdue with our first child. Did the basement over by raising the floor and inch to get it off the concrete and put carpet on the floor and paneling on the walls. Also, eventually remodeled the kitchen with the help from my friend Buzz. New cabinets, appliances, walls, ceiling, lighting and flooring. The whole works. Loved it! We did have a few problems with the house: there was a small hole in the basement wall that we shared with our neighbor that would shoot water about a foot into our basement when we had heavy rains; we constantly got bats in the house (another story to come soon); the sewer would stop up from time to time and I would have to borrow the Roto-rooter from school to open it; our pets sometimes would get out of cages and get lost in the walls of the house (one did return and go back in the cage); had a fire in the electrical box in the basement which filled the house with smoke (that's why you always keep the door on your electrical box closed); and one winter day a water main burst in the next block and flooded our street and we were unable to move our cars because the wheels were frozen into the ice which resulted. The kids all finally graduated from high school and we decided to buy a house at the Chesapeake Bay. Price was too high so we bought another house in Lancaster that looks like a house at the bay. Not many like that in good old Lancaster. Wooden sidewalks, contemporary design and water off our deck. The water is actually a pond, but that's OK. Today we're packing a U-Haul with boxes and boxes of stuff for the move. Stuff we accumulated in 27 years at 925. Way too much stuff!! "Carol, call and order another truck!" It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The "Operation #2" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was heading to the hospital for another operation. Seems I was either lifting something too heavy or squeezing something out to hard and developed a hernia in my lower left abdomen. Stuck out pretty good. Sometimes you could push it back in. The doctor said it needed to be corrected, because if it became entangled, it would cut off blood supply and require emergency surgery. OK, let's get it over with. In 1966 I had one corrected which was on my right side. This time it's on the left side. After arrival at the hospital, I go through admissions and head to the surgery department. I am given a shave to prep for the operation. Then I am given a magic marker! "What's this for?" I ask. "Mark the location with a circle and then draw a big arrow to the spot where the hernia is located," the doctor tells me. Wow, can't they see it? Left side. I can no longer see the scar from the first hernia and there are no records to tell the doctor exactly where it was, but he assures me that is OK, since I knew it was on the right side. They wheel me into the operating room and give me the final dose of meds to knock me out. It worked! I wake up in recovery, sick in my stomach. Why does that happen? Eventually I go back to my room and is greeted by my wife, Carol. Well, the next day I'm struggling to walk or even sit up. They decide I will be better at home. Carol disagrees with them, but takes me home anyway. The next day she REALLY disagrees with them when I'm sick and yelling in pain! "It can't hurt that much," she advises me. "If you ever have another operation, I'm going to make sure that you stay in at least a week. Maybe two weeks!" Well she heads to the store for more pain medication. Lots more. After a few days I start to feel better and talk to the doctor on the phone. He asks about my recovery and then tells me that the first operation was also on the left side. What? Can't be. But it was. He hit quite a bit of scar tissue and in cutting through the scar tissue he happened to cut some nerves which were in the way. He said the result will probably be no feeling in the lower left abdomen. NO FEELING!! Down there! I told Carol what he said and asked her to feel around the area to see if I had any feeling nearby. "Yeah, right!! Feel it yourself!" was the response. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The "Road To Hana" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were on our way to world famous Hana. Jerry, Just Sue, Carol and I had decided we wanted to take "The Incredible Journey-The Road to Hana" in our rental car. Hana is on the island of Maui in the Pacific. We knew it was a challenging trip so we left at 6:30 AM. We had a list of rules with us that stated: Don't trespass, leave early, research your trip before you go, bring a towel, check the weather, pay attention to yield signs, do not litter, treat everyone with respect, drive safely and slowly (may be hard for me), get back before dark, and don't swim at the top of a waterfall. Duh!! Told we should have a full tank of gas because there are no gas stations along the way. There have been many fatalities over the years because of the winding roads and cliffs. We were in a Chevy Trailblazer with 4 wheel drive so we knew we shouldn't get stuck anywhere. Jerry and I shared the driving for the day. We started our trek at the town of Kailua which is the true beginning of the road to Hana. To reach Hana, if we drive straight through without stopping, will take about two and a half hours. There are approximately 600 curves and 54 bridges. We decided the girls would count the bridges and the guys would watch the curves. Logical, isn't it? We were told to make sure we had bug spray with us because Hana is packed with mosquitoes as well as tourists. I imagine if I were a mosquito, a tourist trap would be my place of destination also. Our first stop was at the Puahokamoa Falls which were beautiful, but not as full as they are at times because of a dry spell in Maui. Most of the falls we stopped to visit had minimal amounts of water flowing over them. We made a stop at Waianapanapa Beach which is located in a State Park. The beach is set among lava cliffs and the sand is small, smooth, lava pebbles. Small sea arches and lava tubes lead to the beach. The beach is black! Beautiful!! We really enjoyed this stop. Finally reached Hana were we had lunch at a small restaurant on the beach. We finished lunch, hit the rest rooms and hopped in the car for more entertainment. Our next stop was the Ohe'o Gulch which ended with the Waimoku Falls and the Seven Sacred Pools. The freshwater pools are one of the most striking natural wonders in all of Maui and are considered sacred in Hawaii because freshwater is the connection to life. The pools vary in elevation and are connected by rushing waterfalls. Today, the pools are very low and the water isn't rushing because of the lack of rain. Jerry ventures towards the pools to take a dip while Just Sue, Carol and I walk toward the entrance to the ocean. At this point we had to decide if we wanted to continue on in the direction we were going or head back. The roads in the same direction were mostly unpaved and dirt and our auto insurance would not cover us if something happened, so we opted to head back the way we came and make a few more stops. On one extremely high and winding section we witnessed a minivan which had gone over the edge of the cliff. Pretty scary! We made our way back to our resort by 5:30 PM; tired, hot and sweaty, but with a lot of great photos and memories. The Road to Hana is referred to as "The Land That Time Forgot" and by traveling on it you will be drawn a little closer to heaven. In more ways than one!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Top right is Carol in the lava tube leading to the black sand beach, next is the Seven Sacred Pools and bottom right is Carol and I at the end of the pools and waterfalls where they enter the Pacific.

The "Larry" Story

It was another ordinary day. We had just had breakfast at Calico Jack's for the third day in a row. Great food and fantastic waitresses. Calico Jack's is located in Providenciales on the island of Caicos. Perfect vacation spot. The "we" is Jerry, Just Sue, Carol and I. We have decided that we need a car. Too many things to see and do on the island so we really need a car. We get to talking to one of the waitresses and ask her who would be the best person to rent from. It's always nice to rent from locals when you have the chance. She tells us that she will call her boyfriend who is in construction and ask him. A short time later she tells us her boyfriend will be here in a minute and take us to a place to rent a car. OK! Well, I guess we just have to trust her. Sure enough, he arrives and Jerry and I hop in and he takes off for the rental agency. Five minutes later he pulls into a small, local place and takes us to the office. He tells the manager to give us his contractor's price and takes off. OK! The manager gives us a really great price and shows us to our car. All cars have names at his rental place and this car is named "Claude". Car is white, steering wheel on the left and name painted on the hood of the car. OK! He goes over the car with us and circles on the contract all the marks and dents. Takes several minutes, since this is a really used car. Good service to go with the great price. We're ready to go. We start to exit the rental place when all of a sudden I slam on the brakes and put the car in reverse. Jerry looks at me like I'm crazy. He is always saying I drive like a maniac. "What are you doing?" he asks me. "Let's change cars," I tell him. "Why? What's the matter with this one?" he responds. I point to a shiny blue one and say, "cause that one has "Larry" painted on the hood. It's not everywhere you can get a car named after you." It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The "Roiling Down The River" Story

It was an ordinary day. Saturday. We have just finished breakfast at the Bayside Restaurant at Sandals Grande Ocho Rios in Jamaica. In about an hour we will head west towards MontegoBay on a small bus to the Martha Brae River. We're going on a rafting trip down the Martha Brae. Jerry, Just Sue, Carol and I empty the bus near Trelawny and head to the Rafter's Rest where we will board the rafts. Along the way we are offered a rum punch to help get us in the liming mood for our trip. Works! Our raft "Captain" is Donovan. He has built his own 30 foot raft from bamboo which is grown in the forests of Jamiaca. The poles are extremely straight and about 4" in diameter. They are sewn together with twine made from the trees. The raft will last about six to seven months before the bamboo will start to split. We are led to the banks of the river and board the raft. Life vests are behind us as we sit in the only seat on the raft. Extremely comfortable padded seat. As we start our 90 minute trip we see children fishing along the shores and cows feeding in the fields. No buildings in sight. A big variety of native trees and flowers line the banks of the river. The water reaches eight feet in depth at some points, but mostly in the 3-5 foot range. You can imagine the size of the pole Donovan uses to steer the raft. We travel around curves and some small rapids. Jerry and Sue are about 100 yards ahead of us and we can see no one behind us. Donovan tells us about his family and the history of the river. Seems a local river witch was tortured by invading Spanish until she agreed to take them to an island gold mine. She led them to a cave along the river bank and once inside summoned the river to rise, drowning all her tormentors. Much more interesting with him telling it. We did see some vendors along the banks calling to us to buy their wares. The only one which interested us was the guy selling Red Stripe beer, the island beer, but we decided to pass. As we drifted along, Donovan carved a coconut shell with a small pocket knife. I guess I should have been smart enough to see what was coming. Yep, at the end of the trip we were given the opportunity to buy his creation, which I must admit was really neat. Think we bought it? Of Course we did! Asouvenir from the witch's river! Kinda scary, huh? It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The "Impala" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was out riding around in my 1958 Chevy. Not any Chevy, but an Impala convertible. I've had many cars in my life and this one is close to the top of the list for being the neatest! It was a three speed with a 348 cubic inch engine. Generated 315 horsepower. The 1958 Chevy Impala was considered the first muscle car made. I just loved the car. I was 20 years old at the time and had plans for the customization of the car. At the time I was taking a design class at Millersville University and used the car as my project for the course. I found a 1951 DeSoto bullet grill at Angelini and Groff junk yard and figured a way to use it to replace the stock grill. I removed the tail light lenses and found some red Plexiglas in the school's shop area and made new lenses. Flat instead of the bullet style. I removed all the hood, trunk and side chrome and filled all the holes and sanded them. My Uncle Bud owned Stiffel's Body Shop and repainted the car for me. He talked me into keeping it the same color so it would be less expensive to paint. In metal shop I designed a shifter post that was extremely short; made it look like I was reaching down on the floor to shift the car. Why? I don't really know, but I thought it was cool. Put spun aluminium moon hubcaps on and colored lights in the front wheel wells. I took the car to Landis Garage and they removed the four barrel carburetor and made changes so it now had 2 four barrel carburetors. The car could just about fly. Added a tachometer and other gauges which I used more for show than anything else. I also removed the Continental Kit from the rear. It just didn't fit with the design I had decided upon. Final touch was to have a full tonneau cover which covered from the trunk to the dash. Had a zipper down the middle so I could unzip the driver's compartment and leave the rest of the car covered. Also added the necessary dice from the mirror. Nice touch. Pretty neat car! No, REALLY neat car!! It really drew the stares. I still can't believe I sold it to buy a Pontiac Tempest!!! What was I thinking? Today the '58 Chevy Convertibles are bringing over $100,000 at auction. The Tempest? They are at rest in the junk yard! Oh well, at least I was cool for a few years while I had it. Did get an "A" in my course! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - The photo is what car looked like before I started the customization. I'm sorry I don't have the "After" photo.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The "Roman Holiday" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were leaving Assisi, Italy and heading to Rome. The "We" is retired Rev. Mary Lou Broucht and her group of 32 tourists in a bus, mostly from our church. She made all the arrangements, since she had been to Italy many times. As a matter of fact, she had two of our kids on a tour when they were in high school. Arrived at 4:00 PM and checked into Hotel Pace Elvezia. Really an elegant old place. Of course, what place in Rome wouldn't be old! We had a quick supper at a corner cafe and headed back to the hotel to hop in bed. Had an early breakfast at the hotel then off to visit Rome. Melissa, Roselyn, Neil and wife Barbara and Carol and I headed toward the Coliseum. The streets are mostly stone as we travel. After several blocks, we make a final turn and there it is! I have read about the ancient world, but until you see something like the Coliseum in person, you can't believe your eyes. I was awestruck!! Brought tears to my eyes. Magnificent!! As I walked toward theColiseum I felt like I was going back in time. We toured the structure and the Palatino which is next to the Coliseum. I felt like I should be wearing armor and carrying a sword. Street vendors had them for sale. At noon we headed toward the Pantheon. Melissa's husband John couldn't make the trip so we promised to wave to him on the webcam which is on the roof of the Albergo del Senato Hotel located across from the Pantheon. I made a big sign to hold up and we wore bright clothing. Melissa got him on the phone and he saw us. TECHNOLOGY in ancient Rome! At 2:00 PM we traveled with our group by bus to St. Paul's outside the Walls Church and then to the Di San Callisto Catacombs. Again, sights I had read about and seen photos of in history books. After we returned we walked a few blocks to visit the Trevi Fountain before dark. Two days before a person threw packets of red dye in the fountain and all the water turned red. By the time we had arrived, it had all been filtered out. It certainly put Rome in the spotlight for a few days. Supper of pasta and gelato and another trip to the Coliseum to see it at night. So glad digital cameras had been invented. I took a gadzillion photos today. The following day we continued with our sightseeing visiting the "Spanish Steps" which are the longest and widest staircase in Europe. It was built to connect the Bourbon Spanish Embassy to the Holy See. We also toured the markets and walked to the Circo Massimo which is where they raced the chariots. Our last evening meal in Rome was fantastic, but after our meal we all boarded the wrong tour bus and were taken to the wrong hotel. Boy, was that driver po'ed. After finally returning to the hotel we walked one more time to the Trevi Fountain to see it and photograph it at night. Just a beautiful sight. Extremely romantic!! We will return, since we threw the mandatory three coins in the fountain (over our shoulder). The next day was a really bad day in the history of Rome. We headed home!!! It was an EXTRAORDINARY day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos from top to bottom: Coliseum is the distance; Coliseum and entrance to the Palatino; part of the Palatino; holding up sign for Melissa's husband at the Pantheon; throwing our "3 coins in the fountain"; The Trevi Fountain; The Spanish Steps

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The "Statesman Arnold" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just made a family purchase. At the SPCA. The cutest little guy. He was part dachshund and part beagle. As soon as our daughter saw him she said, “He looks just like Arnold on Different Strokes.” OK, his name was Arnold. He was being lifted from the trunk of a car in the parking lot. We followed the person taking him into the SPCA where we told them we wanted him. Quick turnaround time! It wasn’t quite that easy. He had to be examined, given his shots and bathed before we could take him home. We were told to come back the next day to pick him up. No one, including myself, could wait to bring him home. He was adorable, and he grew to be our most favorite friend. He wasn’t always that much of a favorite. For a while he was a chewer. Chewed a hole in the basement paneling, chewed a portion of the basement carpet and chewed the corner off of our love seat. He was smart though. When he heard it was called a love seat, he started humping the arm of it. That he never stopped until we got rid of the loveseat. He also had a hard time controling himself. When anyone would come to visit he would get so excited he would bark, greet them, roll over and hit them with a stream of pee. That he did throughout his life! He went everywhere with us. Really enjoy the Chesapeake Bay. Loved swimming and enjoyed riding the intertube with you. His all-time favorite doggie friend was Casey. Casey, a mixed breed, was my friend Wayne’s dog. They would walk up and down the back alley to visit and see who had the best bones laying in the yard. His favorite all-time Christmas present was an “Ultimate Warrior” sleeping bag. He slept in that sleeping bag on the floor every night next to Carol. I he got up to stretch, he would whine until Carol reached down and helped him get back in the bag. He was very good at whining, but we kind of made him that way. We fed him off the table when he was a puppy and he would beg and whine whenever we would have a meal. After the meal he would hop on the door of the dishwasher and give the dishes a pre-cleaning. He was also our maildog. When the mail was delivered he expected a treat from Gary, our mailman. If he didn’t get one or Gary wasn’t on the route that day, he would tear into our mail. When we went on some trips, Arn would have to stay with my parents. Grandma and Grandpa lived right down the street, so all we had to do was cross him and he knew exactly where to go. Always got the right house. One time he was staying with Mom and Dad and they left him out to do his business and when they went to let him back in, he was gone. Boy, were they worried. Then it hit them. Up the street they went and there was Arn sitting on our front door step. He was homesick. He moved to Harrington Drive in the late 90s with us and found all new surroundings. Strange, but he always stayed right by my side when I was outside. By now he was in his later years and having some problems hearing and seeing. The only time he strayed was one day we heard a terrible screeching noise along the street. Out we went and there was Arn in the middle of the street looking over some roadkill. A car was about a foot from him, but he was oblivious to his surroundings. Last time he was outside by himself! ADub lived to be 15 years old and was my true friend. He loved watching me pull weeds and rake leaves. He was always forgiving and never held a grudge. I only hope I am like him! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Top pix is with our kids, next is at the Chesapeake, next he greets his friend Casey and bottom is Statesman Arnold

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The "Celebration" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were getting ready for a birthday party. Not just any, but a party to celebrate 87 years of life for my Mom. She was born in 1922 and has been celebrating birthdays ever since. I can remember a few of the big birthdays in my life, but not many. I really don't remember my 16th or my 21st. How about you? Long term memory is fading! I do remember my 50th that was held on my parents back porch on Janet Avenue. My wife did a great job of keeping it a secret. But, she did an even better job of keeping my 60th a secret. A day before my birthday, we were sitting, watching TV and she took a phone call. She hung up and told me that our son Tad was having problems with his plumbing and wanted to know if I could run up now and help him with it. Duh! I had no clue. Even when we got there and there were cars up and down his street. I walked through the door and bammmmm. SURPRISE! Really neat party with all my friends and relatives. Back to Mom, now. She knew we were celebrating with a party on our back deck. All the family was there and a few of her friends. She didn't know that we were about to set the deck on fire. She sat at our Tiki Bar and we arrived with the cake....and 87 candles. Her three great-great grandkids gathered on stools next to her as we sang Happy Birthday and then helped her blow them out. She was in heaven for some time that day. My Dad celebrated his 87 much the same way, only inside since his Birthday is in February. Now that flame set off the smoke detector and scarred the crap out of everyone. Dad is no longer with us, but Mom is getting ready to celebrate with another big cake and huge flame. We'll have the extinguisher ready. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The "Frampton Factor" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was getting ready for Peter Frampton to arrive at the High School. Yes, the real Peter Frampton. The musician. I have been in charge of the “Neff-Vue”, which is the HS yearbook, for eight years now. Jim G., an art teacher with a room next to mine, helps me with the book. This year the staff has chosen “Concerts” as a theme for the book. Quite a few of the students have been to concerts and have taken some great photos of their favorite bands. Our yearbook photographer, Ken L., also has quite a current variety of great photos of bands in concert. We have laid out the theme section of the book which will be the first 16 pages. They will all be in color and will be primarily concert photos. A few of the photos will be bands that are currently members of the high school student body. Should be great and sales this year should be fantastic. The cover is a collage of photos that will appear in the first 16 pages. That too will be interesting. My staff came up with the idea that they will create a Ticket Master replica that will appear on the cover with the name of the publication and the year. The price of the book will also be included as part of the ticket. Could be a prize winning yearbook! Just as we were about to submit the cover idea, the assistant principal, Paul L., came to me and asked if I have ever heard of Peter Frampton. “Yeah, he is one of the biggest names in pop music. He was Rolling Stone Artist of the Year in ’76,” I tell him. “Well, he is going to be practicing for his upcoming show in New York in our auditorium,” he replies. Seems that Peter Frampton and his band use Clair Brothers Audio from Lititz as their sound technicians. Clair brothers is in the process of building a new studio and it will not be ready by next week when Peter arrives, so Paul, who is a neighbor of Roy Clair, offered our auditorium to them. WOW!! Roy is also a friend of mine who went through Millersville State College with me. We partnered in our wood shop class and both built stereo cabinets with all the components for our project in our Junior year. Roy went into business with his brother and I began teaching after graduation. I gave Roy a call to confirm that Peter’s arrival was true and if we could shoot a photo for our yearbook cover. Roy would take care of everything for me he said. I quickly called our photographer Ken and told him we would need him the next night to do the shot in our auditorium. The next morning two tractor trailers appeared very early in our parking lot. They were here! The school shut off the auditorium to students and Clair Brothers began to set up the sound system. Late that afternoon I took my yearbook staff to the auditorium to meet Peter and see what time they would practice. All arrangements were made. My staff got to stand in the front row for the shot and Ken snapped away. After a half hour of shooting, Ken left to return to his studio. We had to have the photo back by the next night, since that would be the final practice session before Peter and his band left for NY. Peter autographed our cover and signed a release form so we could publish it on our yearbook. And to top that off, he bought and paid for copies for himself and all his band members of our 1977 “Neff Vue.” It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Cover of the yearbook as well as Peter Frampton as he appears in concert in ’09. In memory of Ken L. and Paul L.

The "Near Perfect" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were headed to the Eden Resort right off Rt. 272. Today is the final LCCC Show of the season. Beautiful sunny day should bring out a large showing. Cars from our club, The Lancaster County Corvette Club, and from other local clubs will be judged for prizes and trophies. Trophies will be given for several categories and money will be awarded for Best Paint, Best Interior, Best Engine and Best Undercarriage. My son Tad and I have spent quite a few hours getting Big Red ready for the event. We took the seats out so we could vacuum and clean under them, cleaned the leather with ArmorAll leather polish, cleaned and polished the wheels and put ArmorAll on the tires to make them look new and finished by using Meguiar's polish on the red paint and then Meguair's Show Car Glaze to get a high shine. The car looks great! My car is considered a C-4 car which includes cars made from 1983-1996. It is based on the body style. Everyone pays their entrance fee and finds a spot in the parking lot. At 1:00 PM the judging begins. Cars are rated on 60% cleanliness and 40% condition. The judges will check the glass, wheel wells, exhaust tips, interior and exterior. Everyone must remove and seat covers and floor mats. Any speck of dust or streaks will deduct points from you total. There are move cars in my category then in any other category. I have entered many car shows and have never placed higher than 3rd place. I often thought that if I ever won 1st place, I'd stop competing, since it takes hours of preparation for competition. Two judges are now looking at my car. They are not allowed to touch the car or lean against it. They can ask me to open the door so they can examine the inside, but may not do it themselves. I have decided to enter the class that does not show the engine. I don't need to spend another 8-10 hours working on the engine!! They're now looking at the wheels and tires. After discussing matters between them, they ask me to sign my judging sheet. I don't know what they have given me for a score at this point. After all judging is complete, everyone gathers for the results. It is about 4:00 PM and everyone will be leaving after the results are announced. They reach the C-4 category and start with the 3rd place winner. There are 12 entries in this category. Not me. Next is the 2nd place winner. Again, not me! OK, either I won or I didn't even place. I can't believe they found that much wrong. The car was immaculate! And the first place winner is........with a score of 97.5 out of 100, LDub. NEAR PERFECT!!! I hustled up to the platform for the presentation. Applause! I shared it with my son for helping with the cleanup. And......I never entered another competition again!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - trophy on right is for the 1st place win while the larger one on left is one of many that I got from other competition. I discarded most, but kept the big one.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The "Wilt the Stilt" Story

It was an ordinary day. My friend, Terry D. and I are headed to Hershey Park Arena to see the Philadelphia Warriors play the New York Knicks. The Warriors come to Hershey a few times a year to play a home game to try and get the local people interested in pro basketball. We have great seats about halfway up and in the middle of the arena. The day is March 2, 1962. This date mean anything to you? Maybe you'll remember! We get there about an hour early so we don't have to park way in the back of the parking lot. Find our seats and are ready for the game. Our team, the Warriors, features players such as Paul Arizin, Guy Rodgers and Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain. Wilt, who is 7'1" tall and about 300 pounds, grew up in Philadelphia and played at Overbrook High School. Went to the University of Kansas and played in the NCAA Championship game which they lost to North Carolina in triple overtime. He left Kansas after his junior year and played for the Harlem Globetrotters for a year before signing with the Warriors in 1959. He was "Rookie of the Year" and "Most Valuable Player" his first year in the league. WOW!! In 1961-1962 he AVERAGED 50.4 points a game, breaking his own record of 38.4 PPG from the previous year. He later led the 76ers to a NBA Championship in 1967. Tonight Terry and I have come to watch "Wilt the Stilt." He seems to stand about a foot higher than all the other players. By halftime he had scored 41, but that wasn't unusual for him. Terry and I were talking about how the entire Knicks team was guarding him and fouling him, but they weren't getting called for the fouls. At halftime we found out that Coach McGuire ordered his guys to feed Wilt. The second half was great. The announcer really got the crowd going. At the end of the third quarter, Wilt had 69 points. The Knicks couldn't stop him. He was dunking the ball almost every time he had the ball and boy were we yelling. After about eight minutes into the final quarter, the announcer said that Wilt had broken his own single-game record of 78 points. Man did we go nuts! It was a packed house and all 4,000 or more of us started to scream "Give it to Wilt! Give it to Wilt! And they did!! They kept feeding him every time they had the ball. The Knicks started getting mad and started fouling everyone except Wilt, so he couldn't score. So, Coach McGuire put in his subs and had them foul the Knicks so the Warriors would get the ball right back. It was fun to watch, but not real good basketball. There were 57 fouls that night. With a minute to play Wilt had 98 points. About 15 seconds later he got free from the five Knicks and slammed an alley-oop dunk shot for 100 points. I couldn't even hear myself yelling it was so noisy. A whole bunch of people in front of us jumped over the railing and tried to touch Wilt. After about ten minutes the game restarted and all Wilt did was stand in the center circle and watch. Final score was Warriors 169, Knicks 147. We stayed for about a half-hour after the game, but didn't get to see Wilt again. What a night. Wilt retired in 1973 and was inducted into the "Hall of Fame" in 1978 and still holds records for best points per game average (50.1), most rebounds per game average (27.2) and most rebounds in a career (23,924). He's also known for allegedly sleeping with 20,000 women in his lifetime. On October 12, 1999 he died. I'm surprised he lasted that long!!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The "Wildcat" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was just about finished working my shift at the Acme Supermarket. I ate my supper during my 15 minute break. I was a union member even though I was only part-time. I was required to be a union member, but while my friends were making $1.00 or $1.25 an hour, I was taking home $2.32 an hour. Of course, I have to pay union dues of $12.00 a month. On Fridays I usually work 4:00 to 10:00 PM. I come directly to work from Millersville University where I am a junior majoring in Industrial Arts Education. Going to be a shop teacher. Today is a really nice fall day and the temperature is in the high 70s. Weather should be great after work tonight. I am working tonight with my friends Terry D., Granville T., Jim B. and Jere S. We have plans for after work tonight. Jere has a Grandfather who works at Rocky Springs Amusement Park in southeast Lancaster. He runs the "Wildcat." The "Wildcat" is a wooden roller coaster. Not any coaster, but one that has two straight drops that are almost 75 degree drops. You first start out by going through a long wooden tunnel that at night is a little creepy, almost scary. Then the chain pulls you to the top of the first hill and you drop. FAST!! Another chain to the second hill and you drop. FASTER!! You can feel the movement of the wood as you move through the curves and straightaways. OK, back to the story. 10:00 PM and checkout time. We all punch the clock and hop in my 1968 Chevy convertible. Really neat car.......more about it in another story. Off to Rocky Springs. It is only a ten minute trip and I park the car in the lot and head to the "Wildcat." The park closes at midnight so we have a good hour and a half to ride. No one in line on the entrance platform. Great! We say Hi! to Jere's Grandfather and Jere and I hop in the front car and Gran and Jim take the back car. We fasten the belt across the both of us. The belt is a leather belt much like the one you wear around your waist. It fits across both of us. It hooks the same way. At any time we could take it off if we want. In the past couple of years that has happened and resulted in serious injuries. One time on one of the hills and another time the person stood before going through the tunnel. Through the tunnel and up the hill. Hands in the air!! Trip around seems like it takes forever, but probably isn't more than a minute or two. Heading back into the entrance platform we see Jere's Grandfather sitting on his chair waving us through again. Most times at this time of night we are able to ride multiple times or until one of us would start to feel sick and had to signal him to stop us. That's when it was always best to be in the front car. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary

Friday, January 15, 2010

The "Operation V" Story

It was an ordinary day. That is if having a life changing event is ordinary. I have one of those every so often. How about you? Carol and I have three children. She maybe would like to have one more. I’m positive I don’t. We talk and decide it best that I make sure we don’t. I’m off to the surgeon today to take care of it. I enter the office and am ushered into a waiting room where they play a video for me which explains what will happen today and to make sure I really want this to happen. Just get it over with, I think to myself. It is 11:00 AM and time for my appointment. A nurse takes me into the room where I see a long padded table with a light above it. The kind of light they have in dentist's offices and you know how much you like the dentist. “Take off you clothes and put this on, making sure you tie it in the front,” the nurse tells me. After dong this I am told to sit on the table and wait for the doctor. It was so long ago I don’t even remember his name. “Are you ready?” the doctor asks me. I respond, “You bet!” I lay down with my legs over the end of the table and the nurse next to me. The doctor starts to describe what he is going to do today. I start to feel sick in the stomach. The nurse senses this and asks if I’m feeling sick. I say to the doctor, “I don’t really need to know what your every move will be. Just let me know when you are done.” IT’S QUIET. 15-20 minutes later the doctor tells me that he has finished, but, “Why don’t you just lie here for a while until you are feeling better. We’ll give you instructions when you are ready to leave." They cover me with a warm blanket and I’m asleep in no time. About a half hour later I open my eyes. It is quiet. REALLY QUIET! Where am I? I start to worry. I remember I was going somewhere for an operation. Did it not work out? I start to look around and then recognize I'm in the operating room. There's that big light above me. I call, "Nurse. Nurse!" After a few minutes I call again. No nurse. Or doctor. Or anyone. I take off the blankets and search for my clothes. No clothes. I still have this paper whatchamacallit around me so I tie it in the front and walk toward the other end of the office, looking for anyone I can find. Ah! The receptionist is sitting at her desk. Boy did I scare her! "Who are you?" she asks. "I'm LDub and I just had a life altering operation!! (I really didn't say life altering) "Can you tell me what to do? I'm ready to leave." I say to her. "Well, you can't leave like that. Everyone is out to lunch." she responds. She does help me find my clothes and instructs me to call back in an hour to get instructions. I head home to rest. I'm still tired from the experience. Once home I sit in my favorite lounge chair with some food and turn on the TV. Can you imagine what might have happened at that time if I had seen one of those lawyer commercials on TV saying "if you have ever had an operation and the doctors and nurses left you while they went to lunch call this #." It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The "APBA Frenzy" Story

It was an ordinary day. Monday, February 3, 1986 and the new APBA cards are coming out today. And what exactly is that, you wonder. APBA is a board game developed by J. Richard Seitz from Lancaster, PA. He was a master statistician who enjoyed baseball tremendously and used the stats from his favorite baseball players and teams to make a game that he played in his garage with his neighborhood friends. They told him that he ought to develop it more and market it. He did and it became a best selling product. He called it APBA or American Professional Baseball Association. The cards are about the size of playing cards and contain numbers from 11 to 66. They relate to the rolling of two dice, hence these numbers. Each player in the major leagues receives a card based on his stats from the previous year. They were quite accurate. If you played a 162 game schedule like they do in the major leagues, the results from your rolling would just about match what the player actually did. Except if you were a terrible dice roller or a pro at rolling the dice. This time of year people from all over the East coast travel to 1001 Millersville Road in Millersville, PA to get their new card set. My wife bought me a set for Christmas in 1976 and I was hooked. Of course, baseball is a passion of mine. I played the game for a year then decided to start a league of APBA fans. I asked my cousin's husband Lance, who also played APBA, and he said he would be interested. I invited one of my students, Tim, to join. A fellow teacher, Mike and a guy from church, Jack. Before long I had eight members. We held a draft of the cards at my house and began play the following week. We had a schedule of 42 games. You played everyone in the league twice with each meeting featuring three games. In 1977 "The Red Rose APBA League" was born. The league grew to 12 members the following year and we increased the amount of games we played to 96 games. We naturally had the playoffs and APBA World Series. Ages of our players ranged from 17 to 58. Shortly thereafter I found there was a national publication called "The APBA Journal" which was devoted exclusively to the APBA fan. I subscribed and shortly was asked to write articles for it since I lived close to the game store. Since I am teaching today, my wife has volunteered to travel to Millersville for the introduction of the 1987 set of cards. Could have called in sick, but probably would have been caught at the game store. She will purchase a set for me and write a story for the Journal in my absence. On her arrival and the APBA Game Co., she encounters the following: a guy from Ephrata, PA and his mother who both enjoy the game; a minister on his way to work from Lancaster who originally purchased the cards directly from Mr. Seitz's garage; two fellows from New Jersey who have been on the road since 6:00 AM and who bought 22 sets of cards - they play in the North-East League in NJ; a father from Mountville who is trying to get his five-year old son interested in the game; two young fellows from Nashville, Tennessee who play in the eight team "Out of their League" and have always wanted to drive to Lancaster to see where they were made; from Philadelphia came two guys who have played since 1957. The APBA Game Company closes it's doors from noon to 1:00 PM for lunch and by the time they re-open a TV crew from Philadelphia was on hand to interview game buyers. The mayor of Philadelphia and David Eisenhower as well as many other celebrities either make their way to Lancaster or order by mail. My wife couldn't believe what happened that day at the APBA Game Company. All these people purchasing their cards that would give them a "high" that nothing else could match. And she thought I was nuts!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The "102 Degree Wedding" Story

It was an ordinary day. Not really! I was getting married today!! June 17, 1967. It was about 10:00 AM and I'm sitting on the front step of 944 Janet Ave. That is where I live with my Mom, Dad and brother Steve. I met Carol about a year ago and hey, did I mention I'm getting married today? Yep, love at first sight. "You meet the nicest people on a Honda" was the ad on TV and they were right. I took her for a ride on my Honda 90 for our first date. A blind date. Sometimes they really do work out. In four hours I'll be married. I think about what Carol is doing at this moment. Hope she hasn't changed her mind. Nah, her Mom likes me too much. She's the one who made sure Carol went out on a date with me. She also used to cook venison for me and tell me it was beef to make sure I would eat it. Just loved the stuff. 11:00 AM and time to go in and start to get ready. My brother Steve, who will be my best man, and I will head down about 1:00 PM. Carol and I are getting married at St. James Episcopal Church in Lancaster. I have been a member there since I was a small boy. Carol is in the process of becoming a member. The Rev. Robert B. will marry us today. We have been through all the necessary appointments with him and have been pronounced fit to get married. For the last three weeks during the Sunday church service Rev. B published the bands of marriage by announcing our intent to the congregation. 1:00 PM now and Steve and I have our tuxedos with white jacket and black bow ties on and head to the church. Carol is getting dressed at the church in the choir room. I'm sure Millie B., her Maid of Honor and Mary S., her Matron of honor are helping her get ready. She's probably been there since noon. Our wedding party is large. She has four bridesmaids and I have five ushers. The flowers are beautiful. Cost us a fortune at $124.43. The reception will be in the church parish house. The Women of St. James helped prepare the light buffet. Five till 2:00 and Steve and I enter the church and take our places at the altar railing. Carol's Mom is seated and my Mom and Dad are in their pew. At 2:00 PM the bells ring and Mr. Mac starts the music. IT IS 102 DEGREES! The humidity is unbearable. No air conditioning. And here they come.......down the isle. The ushers are all next to Steve by now. When all have made it to the front, Mr. Mac starts the "Wedding March." I see her!! She didn't change her mind! She's beautiful! Her wedding gown touches the ground and has.....long sleeves! 102 degrees! Her Dad Charlie escorts her down the aisle and stands to the left of Carol and I at the alter rail. The service starts. Still 102! We do the vows, rings and proclamation. "You may kiss the Bride," Rev. B says. You betcha! He then says, "May I introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Larry Woods, " and Mr. Mac breaks into the "Toccata and Fugue in d minor" by Bach. He is unbelievable on the organ. His hands and feet are flying as we walk back the aisle. Still 102. We welcome everyone, have our photos taken, sign the papers and head out of the church. OMG, they are throwing the square punchings from the old mainframe computer punch cards and we are totally soaked from the 102 degrees. As we head to the car we get covered in white paper. We take my Pontiac Tempest and head to the hospital to visit Carol's sick Grandmother. Back to the Parish House and the cake cutting, bouquet throwing, garter throwing and greeting our friends. Many have left because of the heat. We thank our parents and wedding party then head to Manor House Apts. to get ready for our Honeymoon. Where else but Niagara Falls. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. And I've had over 15,000 of those days since our wedding!!! Love you Carol, LDub PS - The top group pix is with our parents while the bottom group pix is the entire wedding party. Bottom is the confetti onslaught!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The "DUI Accident" Story

It was an ordinary day. After supper, my wife Carol, six month old daughter Brynn and Carol's friend Sharon are off to a La Leche League meeting and won't return until later tonight. Sharon is a long time neighbor who lives next to my Mom and Dad, down the street from us. Carol is driving to the meeting in our new 1974 Pinto which we bought about six months ago. Our first new car in many years. We traded in a 1972 Ford Station Wagon for the Pinto. The Ford was a car used by Hamilton Bank as a courier vehicle. When we first bought it from the bank, we searched all through it to see if they might have misplaced some money in it. No luck! The sub-compact Pinto is a station wagon with a 4 cylinder engine, bucket seats, automatic trans and a neat Robin's egg blue color. Perfect for a family of four. My son Derek and I are heading down the street to visit with my Mom and Dad. They moved to the 900 block of Janet Ave. in 1963 while Carol and I moved to the other end of the block in 1969. After a short visit we return and I start to get Derek ready for bed. Doesn't take long for him to get to sleep and I settle down to watch a little TV before Carol and Brynn return. I start to doze and........the phone startles me. "We've been in an accident, but everyone is OK!" Carol tells me. I'm wide awake by now!! "What about Brynn and Sharon?" I reply. "They're both fine. Some guy came over into my lane and hit us head-on. He got our of his car and took off. I saw it coming and I yelled to Sharon to to hang onto Brynn. Sharon cupped Brynn's head and cradled her against her chest. We both had our seat belts on, luckily." Back in the early to mid 1970s they didn't have the laws about children being in seats in the back seat. See why they made them!!! "Where are you now?" I asked. Carol tells me, "It happened on President Ave. and neighbors, Allen and Nancy T. have us in their house. He says he's on the school board at your school." "OK, give me the address and I'll be there as soon as I can," I tell her. I get the address, call Mom to come up to stay with Derek and head to President Ave. Hey, it's hard to believe that they weren't injured after seeing the car. The police told me they found the driver a few blocks away. After making arrangements for the towing, we head home. The driver was charged with driving under the influence of drugs. The car was totaled! We needed a new car, again! "How about something real big," Carol said. Ditto!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The "You Can't Miss It" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just moved into our dream house a few days earlier. For years we lived in Grandview Heights which is a beautiful neighborhood in Manheim Township, Lancaster, PA. We had a three story house on a shaded street. Behind us was another row of similar houses. Between the houses was a shared alleyway. Many, many times I walked down the alley to visit my friend Wayne P. Many, many times Wayne walked up the alley to visit me. I'm not sure about the up and down of the alley, we just said that. We were friends and coached baseball together for many, many years. When I walked down the alley to tell Wayne about our move out of the neighborhood, I knew it would be hard. And it was! But, we had found the house of our dreams. Actually the house of our dreams would have been along the Chesapeake Bay, but we couldn't afford that dream, so we moved into a house that looked the same, but was in Lancaster. Wayne and I talked about the advantages and disadvantages of moving. The biggest advantage was that we were moving away from our duplex neighbors who collected flammable materials and stored them next to their oil burner in their basement. One of their close friends told me one day, "You better move before they burn your house down." To get ready for the move I started to build some new furniture. A really neat coffee table with two display drawers and a sofa table with a display drawer which was the height of the back of the new sofa we were getting. When Wayne saw them, he asked if I could help him make a coffee table just like my new one. We used the same plans and bought the wood. Arranged to get together for the construction. The week-end after we moved, he came over REAL early on Saturday morning to go up to school where I taught, to make the table. It was still dark when he arrived and I left through my garage and hopped in his car. He backed out of my drive and all of a sudden, CRASH! "What the h**l was that?" he said. I turned around and looked out the window and said, "I don't know." We got out and....."Geez, you knocked my mailbox into the middle of the street! I guess I should put lights on it." This is not any mailbox, but the one that is a wooden unit that sits, or sat until a few seconds ago, almost five feet high and is about two feet square. Made from the same wood as my house. It housed a regular sized US Mail box. We picked it up and put it back in the foot deep hole that was now under the car. "No damage done," I said. "Let's get out of here before the neighbors call the cops!" I said, half laughing. You see, Wayne is a cop! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The "Secret Beach" Story

It was an ordinary day. It was winter. It was freezing! Oh how we wish we were on a sunny, warm beach somewhere in the Caribbean. We will be traveling in a few months to our favorite island of St. Martin/Sint Maarten. This is an island that has two governments which share the ownership. France and the Netherlands. One of the beaches, Orient Beach, which is located on the French side of the island is listed in my story "In Search for the #1 Beach" from November of 2009. I'm sure we will spend quite a bit of time on that beach when we arrive. But, we have a "secret beach" which we discovered in 2006. It really isn't "secret", but hard to access and therefore very few people ever use it. You must follow a very narrow path over a small mountain which takes you through rough brush and around rocks to the beach. The beach is about a half mile long and has a backdrop of beautiful palm trees. the sand is pure white and the water is........well gorgeous. Shades of jade,sapphire, emerald and turquoise and as clear as can be. Naturally, since it is in the Caribbean, it is almost always around 85 degrees warm. One end of the beach has rock formations which are interesting to explore while the other ends at a mountain. On both ends are sea grape trees which are fantastic for shade. And also, being that it is a French beach, it is clothing optional! You don't need a suit!! Great for packing when leaving on vacation. On our first visit to Happy Bay (Yep! that's what it's called) we sighted four other people spread along the entire length of the beach. They were there, but hard to see. The umbrellas gave them away. We got our first taste of skinny dipping at Happy Bay. NO TAN LINES! No sand in the suit. We parked ourselves at the end of the beach with the sea grape trees and totally enjoyed our day. Close to the end of the day we had just gotten out of the water and were lounging at water's edge when all of a sudden someone appeared from behind the rocks to the left of us. "What do we do," Carol said. "Just sit here and relax," was my reply. "But, we don't have our suits on," she said. "So what." Wouldn't you just know it, he walks by and stops, and SITS DOWN next to us. His name is Danny. He is a native of the island and walks this beach everyday he tells us, while waiting to transport people back to the cruise ships. He is a tour bus driver and....he is clothed. We have a nice conversation for about 15-20 minutes and then he leaves. Pretty traumatic experience. I tell Carol, "We'll never, ever see him again." Well, last year on our visit to Happy Bay we notice someone had built a small hut to sell drinks and food. I walk up to inquire about the cost. OMG, it's DANNY! And he remembers me!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The "Le Piment" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just arrived today and made a quick visit to the beach. We are on our favorite island of St. Martin. Back to get a shower and off for our first meal. Our first
meal will be at one of our favorite little restaurants on the island , Le Piment. We discovered this restaurant in 2004 when we made our first lengthy visit to the island. Le Piment is located in the village called Orient. Orient Village is about 100 yards back from Orient Beach, which is on the French side of St. Martin. Not really a French restaurant since they sell pizza, lasagna, calzone and other Italian menu items. But, they speak French at the restaurant and charge you in Euros. Lucky for us that our favorite waitress can speak English. She is a real sweetheart! Makes you feel like you are the only one in the restaurant. We have made it a tradition to eat at Le Piment on our first night and our last night. Sometimes in between, also. Our favorite pizza is the "Hawaiian" which has a very thin crust. One can feed both of us. Our favorite meal is their fantastic lasagna which is made in the brick oven and served steamin' hot. Also, big enough for two. We also like to share a gigantic green salad made with prosciutto, kalamata olives, red onions and a great house dressing. With all the wines they have available, our favorite drink is the peach tea that comes in a can. But what makes this restaurant so special is that it opens onto a courtyard where children play and ride their tricycles and the adult men play boccie ball every evening. A festival atmosphere. Five other restaurants, a realtor and a few stores surroundthe courtyard. Some nights they have craft stands set up and some night music. Our salad and lasagna are gone and we need to decide if we want dessert. Carol says, "I'm stuffed." So am I. Just then our waitress arrives at our table. "All done? Do you wish dessert?" After telling her our verdict, she leaves. Shortly she arrives with the Ma Doudou. And what is that, you say. It is the flavored rum that is made on the island. Tonight they have Guavaberry, Ti Punch and Banana as choices. The banana is our favorite. At least mine. They pour two hearty glasses full with the rum. I down my in two tries. Carol is still sitting with her glass in front of her. She points out something in the courtyard, and I turn to look. When I turn back she says, "You better finish your rum." She has poured over half of her glassful into my glass. We pay our check and thank them for the rum. They tell us they save it for their favorite customers. How nice! "We'll be back," we both tell them. On our way out of the restaurant, I notice quite a few tables drinking the rum!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.