The day started the way a spring Dad-with-13-year-old motorcycling day should start: sunny but not too much heat. It was a post-Navy-retirement run from Norfolk, Virginia where I had spent the previous eight years to Maine, where I was raised.
Night One was Locust Lake State Park, near Mahanoy City, PA. We filled out tummies at a Main Street diner named, Angela’s, populated mostly by old men who enthralled my eldest offspring with tales of the glory days of anthracite coal. It was they who pointed us to the Blaschak coal breaker at the west end of town.
Continue reading A dark and stormy night
“Here we go again,” Granddaughter Kass said one Thanksgiving mealtime as I prepared to “say Grace.” She knew I don’t normally subscribe to the pre-formatted version of my childhood:
“Bless us Oh Lord and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ Our Lord, amen.”
Continue reading On being thankful
One thing I’ve learned about dogs is, “don’t buy one.”
The first dog to occupy my life was my mom’s, an English Setter named Devil, short for JAM’s Devil Dog (a story that is a dog for another bone.)
I was about 12 when Devil came into my life. We romped and swam and on hot summer days, he was a great pillow for a youngster taking a break from sweating chores.
Continue reading Dogs who have owned me
Most of us think of things like water and electricity as just something that’s there. Something we can, and do, depend upon.
Continue reading Ten-amp service
Super Bowl Sunday is less than two weeks away. I’m looking forward to the annual get-together in front of the electronic moving-picture machine, all in bright sounds and colors, instant replays and live explanations from the refs.
It was not always thus.
Continue reading The magic of television
The evening news reports Republicans in the state Assembly want Gov. Wolf to sign a bill into law that allows school districts to decide how many people, if any, to allow in the stands to watch football games. On screen, a legislator declares the individual schools “are in the best position to know” what is best for the players and the fans.
Continue reading Memories of ball games past
Snow was falling in giant flakes when the Wednesday Morning Breakfast and Philosophical Society left the diner this week. Huge flakes left wet dents in the concrete where they splattered against the planet. Continue reading When winter was, uh, WINTER!
A dark-skinned angel with golden wings and a billowing white gown looks down on our living room from atop the fir. She Who Must Be Loved elevated the angel in honor of her – our – granddaughters, hers because they were here when I got here, ours because, well, they’re ours now.
Christmas is like that – a time for traditions. Continue reading Christmas memories
Getting old is like keeping an antique car running. It’s a
constant effort to replace worn parts, some of which are no longer available,
and tinker with the parts you can’t replace, and put up with the creaking and
inflexibility of the parts you can’t reach. Someone told me this week ankles
are now included in the list of parts that can be replaced. I don’t need one,
but its nice to know, along with shock absorbers (knees) and oil pumps
(hearts), we now can buy new u-joints (ankles).
Continue reading Antiques and New-tech
A few decades ago, when I was in the U.S. Navy, I was a crewmember in a P-3 Orion patrol plane. One of my jobs, it turned out, was to talk with Santa via radio. Let me explain.
Continue reading Wendy Sue and Santa
Mother often said if you really want to compliment the cook, clean your plate. Don’t just say it was good, then eat only one helping. I am clear proof that I took my filial duties seriously, and complimented her sincerely at every opportunity. Especially at Thanksgiving.
Continue reading “Here he goes again.”
“Every couple of weeks, I get to write about a performance at the playhouse. Plays such as “Driving Miss Daisy” and, this week, “Mamma Mia.”
Continue reading Playing with memories
Classmates wrote in my high school yearbook I was most likely to become a social worker. I don’t why they thought that.
Continue reading The finest kind of gift
It used to be if the phone rang, which wasn’t often, we answered. That was before Caller ID and telemarketers.
Now the phone rings constantly, especially during dinner and those evening television shows I like to watch. And the only thing Caller ID does is tell me whether to answer the phone or just let it keep ringing. Some calls display numbers beginning with “800-“ while others report titles like “Friendswood, TX” and “Platinum Reward.” One day this week, the phone rang and the display reported “Adams County.” We answered because we live here – to hear a recorded pitch about interest rates.
There was a time when I could go through my detailed phone bill and look up each number I called to find out who I tried to talk with. All I needed was an Internet connection to my phone company, enter the number, and get back the name of the person who owned it. Not anymore.
Now I search the number and get pages of advertisements for companies who report knowing the information, and offering to charge $10 or more to share it.
Continue reading Phone technology has run amok
I wonder where Johnny Tracy is today. He came to mind Sunday when, at the Totem Pole Playhouse production of “I Love a Piano,” there stood an antique upright at the front of the stage, just like the one – or close enough – Johnny Tracy used to play at Roosevelt Grammar School.
That was the two-room schoolhouse where I spent my early years of more or less formal education, from Fourth through Eighth Grade. It was where Emma Hargreaves made hot lunch every day, where I fell in fourth-grade love with a cute red-haired girl who gave no sign she was aware of my existence, smoked my first cigarette (which didn’t work out nearly as well as when other guys did it) and learned to love Rock-and-Roll music, the latter thanks mostly to Johnny Tracy.
Continue reading Where is Johnny Tracy?
The eldest granddaughter graduated from college Saturday, first in her familial generation to be so accomplished. Even the gods were joyful, judging from the graduation eve celebration and fireworks. The rain started Friday evening as the celestial band tuned up, beginning with a soft breeze and a few drops, growing rapidly progressively windier and wetter with each hour. Then suddenly, amid the cloud-to-cloud arcing, the lights went out, as though one of the young gods, overcome with his own revelry, had stumbled into the switch.
Continue reading Springtime celebrations
Nearly fifty years ago, my son entered our world – screaming, probably because he was not holding a glass of Knob Creek in his fist. He and we survived his growing up, though there were times we wondered whether he or we actually would pull it off.
Continue reading It’s official
The thing I remember most about Christmas was Dad waking us kids up with his shooting at Santa:
“Wait! Stop! DON’T GO! My kids want to meet you.”
Continue reading Wendy Sue and Santa
We met Grady at a doctor’s office in February 2007. He was homeless, effusively friendly, and eager to see us. We invited him home. It doesn’t seem that long ago.
The day we met, the doctor took the stitches out from having surgically removed the collar that had grown into his neck. It was most of a year before he’d not make a puddle on the floor when someone new came to the door.
Continue reading So long, old friend
“The sky is falling!” That’s the cry around my home whenever the rain or snow comes down upon us. Tuesday afternoon, the sky was falling in a great white cloud of snow. Fifteen minutes after it began, it was over, leaving white patches on the still-green grass where the ground was a little colder than other places.
The mini-blizzard lasted long enough for a little girl whose home I passed on the way home to put on her coat with the hood and dash outside. She jumped off the porch to the sidewalk and, tilting her head up with her tongue out as far as it would stretch, started catching snowflakes.
Continue reading Bats’ and fairies’ return awaited