Monday, March 28, 2011


It had to be while I was in mid school age that I became inerested in rockets. I first read a large book from the library on how to make your rocket.  It was comlicated and dangerous.  You used metal tubing and for the solid rocket types made a caremel candy mixture. Basic rocket chemicak(gun powder) mixed with caremel and gradually heated on a stove. When it was all melted, you poured it into the bottom part of the rocket-the "engine," then let it cool.  This typef mixtore does not explode unless you have a gap or crack in the middleof the fuel(it is now solid, Any cracks causing air  space causes the explosion.  It is the air pockets that make the rocket blow up.  Just like an m-80 firecracker has some gun powder inside and the rest is air-this air makes it goes boom. The book, "Amatuer Rocketry," was very complicated and the more I read the more dangeous I saw building one from scratch and mixing your own fuel-it could even ignite on the stove, this author's ideas and homemade rockets wee dangeous.  He talked of one leaving the launch pad and then trun vertical, going 300 miles/hour(about how fast Amanda drives) and igniting all the brush as it whized by.

Then I saw an ad for Estes Industries. They made engine and rocket tubes from laminated cardboar, balsa wood fins and nose cone and platic bag-like material or silk, for parachutes, so the rocket would float back to earth and a new engine inserted for another flight. The engines were no longer than a finger and were size aa,a,b,c, and,d-small power to greater power. the a-b-c-engines were about the width of a dime while the d, about a nickle.  A small soda sraw was glued to the side of the rocket(usually by a fin). The engine was insurted(tight fit) and above the engine was a wad of insulation material and the parachute-attached to the rocket and nose cone with a rubber band or shock cord,  The very end of the engine fuel had an explsive charge that blew the top of so the parachute would come out and the shock cord held the rocket body ad nos cone in place. Some rockets dodnot have parachutes, but had other means of gently falling back down. Any rocket with a parachute, even set off in a dessert, would find a tree or roof top to land on!
These small rockets, usually 6"-12"(some were 24" and had 3 engines in a cluster and some were 2 stage. Instead of a bang in the first, to release a parachute, it sent up burning sparks and lit the second stage.  To launch, the rocket's straw ran on a straigt wire-about as thinck as a metal coat hanger(many times we would cut a metal hanger, hammer it straigh and stick one end in a piece of wood. A piece of nicrome wire, diped in a minute amount of gun powder and looked like an inverted "V" was shove up the nozzle of the engine, with a small piece of kleenix wedged in to hold it in place, to the ends of the wire two flat teeth micro clips were attached and these had about 20' of wire on the othe end.  they went to a 4 "D" size batter pack, inside a case which had a safety switch and a push button to light the nicrome up, which then lit the engine.  Woosh! A cloud of smoke and within seconds, it was 700-1000' in the air.  Wr had designed intruments and math to measure the heigh and at least 3 spotters trying to follow the rocket since thet usualy went out of sight and then you tried to see the chute open. There was always a "rush" of adreniline," as the rocket ignited and took off.  And Estes was big on safety.  Most common injury: as a kid got his straw through the metal launch wire and then guide it to the botom, he would poke his eye or some where on the face with the wire.
Next: some fun and creative things to do with "rockets"-send a mouse up in one, a rocket pistol for people you didn't like and a right and left rocket bazooka, mounted underneath my 1964, 39 hp vw and set off with push buttons in the floor shifter handle(wired in series to the car battery.  As the girl I was dating around 1964 was taking a slow ride along the back roads of Pymatuning Lake(39 horse power could only go slow)-some smart a** in a muscle car with his girl would pass me up leaving us choking on the dust.  He had to be punished. And next, how I did in his trunk lid!

Friday, March 25, 2011

home births our 5

our first son, tom, jr was the old school of having a baby in the hospital: dads stay in the waiting room, having a cigarette and reading mags, tilll his wife comes over the intercom, like mine did,"Tom, you have a son. Ultra sound was not invented yet. Then we had a bad experience with the birth of our second son, Aaron, which info I didn't find out till much later. I was allowed in the delivery room, sitting at Sharon head and looking at a convex mirror positioned to where the view of the baby being born could be seen.  The type of mirror you see on a car:"objects in mirror appear closer than they really are".  Dr. Peterson was the doc to "catch the baby". First he made a large cut so the baby would come out faster, and easier for him.  Aaron;s head would start to crown, then he would slip back in as if to say,"I am not ready for the world!" During this time, Person's daughter came over the delivery room intercom, "I'm going to Mc Donald;s, do you want anything?"  Here I am, thinking this is a sacred event, and he's ordering a cheesburger, fries, and a shake; evil s.o.b. and that is not "swell ol' buddy!"  Then he started screaming at my wife, "Give me that damn baby, already!" His exact words.  Probably had to get to a golf game.  Finially, he took a pair of head forceps to pull Aaron out. Like he did with Tom. Both of them had a reddish "V" mark on their heads for quite sometime, made by the ends of the forceps. Finially Aaron was born @ 1:11 in the afternoon.  He was quickly dried off, burning silver nitrate put in his eyes(in case my wife had a sexually transmitted disease(bastard).  He was shown to his mom, wraped in a blanket and a little hat on his head to keep him warm, and then put in an incubator, which is just a clear view oven. But the biggest thing I learned later, was what the labor room nurse said to my wife(I was not in there all the time-like when they would check to see how far(dialaterd) she was.  I  suppose that was to much of a dirty scene for the husband to be around!  But my wife told her, "Be sure to give me the baby right away as I plan to nurse him."  They claimed Aaron was a premie and wa coming two months early(wrong!). The labor nurse gave a huff and said "No, you will be lucky if the baby lives"what a jerk! What a thing to say to a women in labor.  Aaron was not a 2 month premie.  He came into this world just exactly when the Lord felt it was his time and he weighed five and a half pounds.  Not real heavy, but certaintly not a 2 lb. premie.  The next day, we went home.  Both of them were born in PA.
I was a student at Palmer College of Chiropactic when we were expecting Abram.  I seen a notice on one of the bullitin boards offering home birth classes.  The first one was free and the midwive/student explained the pros and cons of home vs hospital births.  I got home and mentioned the clases to Sharon. Her first reaction was, "No way!"  I convinced her we should at least go and hear what the instructor had to say and she agreed that we should go.  After the class, she was , "sold," on the idea of a home birth. As was I. Sold, because of our terrible hopital esperiences with Aaron. So we went to the other 10 or so classes and also learned the lamaze breathing technics to have a baby without resorting to pain killing blocks, like a spinal or "saddle block," where the mom feels nothing from the waist down.  I think she had one with Aaron and when they told her to "push," she said how? "I can't feel anything to know I am pushing or not pushing.  We had another student couple attend the classes and Lynette was Sharon's Labor coach.  Her husband Jim thought he would witness the birth but Sharon felt uncomfortable about him being present.
We had a small room at the top of the steps in our house.  I painted it an it  turned out to be cantalope in color. There was a small be(smaler thana twin) so I could easity be on either side to deliver or "catch" the baby being born.  Still didn't know if it was going to be a girl or a boy.
We prepared by lining the bed with newspaper, which had an antiseptic nature in the ink.  Then a sheet on top. the only other "equipment was a pair of white shou laces in alcohol to keep them sterile, my stethoscope, and a large plastic bowl which was to be used when mom delivered the "afterbirth," following the baby delivery.  The afterbirth looked like liver(sorry, if I am grossing you out) and was round and made up of section, put together like a puzzle.  It was important to examine it so all the "pieces" were delivered.  If a section wa still in the womb, it would become infecteded, which would be dangerous to the mother's health.The "afterbirth "was connected to the baby by the umbilical cord and this was how the preborn child got it's nurishment.  There is no rush (as opposed to the hospital births) to tie the cord tightly with two pieces of shoe string(they us cord clamps otherwise) since a series of tests at intervals was performed on the newborn. As long as he/she was connected, they still had a life line, so to speak.  Tesst were things like reflexes, heart rate,(which gradually slowed down from around 150 beats in the womb) skin color changes,(baby should start turning a warm pink color) etc.Then I used sterile scissors and cut the cord-the part left on the baby would eventually dry up, fall off and a bellly button was left!.  Most babies have the cord wrapped around their neck: Abram was no exception-just slip it over the head.  As soon as the baby was born, he was covered with a soft blanket and put at mom's breast as their "sucking" helpes the womb tocontract and expel the afterbirth.  The baby also is cover with a cream like substance (vernix casanovix).  Hospitals usually wipe this off right away,  wrong! One, it protects the baby's skin in the womb-ever see what your hands look like if in water to much? Then when he is out into the world, this lotion like substance should be graduallly and gentle rubbed into the skin-it is vitamin enriched and helps prevent skin disease, later in life. neat. the mom does not produce milk right away, but colustrum-which is also full of vitamins and natural antibodies.  If you don't want to nurse at least try for a few days so the child gets the colostrum(probably spelling all this wrong!). then everything is cleaned up and mom and baby have time to love and bond with each other.
My big job was to keep the baby from coming to soon and tear mom.  Two other pieces of "equipment: an ear syringe to remove mucus from thr newborn's mouth and nose and the best book on child birth is a little paperback, spiral bound booklet, about a quarter ofan inch thick.  It is standard in al police cars, etc. and is called, "emergency chuldbirth."  which uses the KISS formula-keep it simple, sweetie."  A few weeks later, I went to the county courthouse, and paid two dollars to register the birth-hand writen!  And thats it.  We did take all our babies to a pediatrcian for a neborn checkup. Side note: my biggest surprise wa how slipery the newborn is-one hand under the neck to support the head and the other to hold onto the rest.  It was like someone coated them in butter or baby oil.  That was the hardest part-holding on to the baby while doing the tests which is called agpar score, 1 to 10-the higher the total number the healthier the baby is.
Dad helping to delver his wife (or, I supose another emergency from another mother: there is no thoughts of the woman's anatomy or sex, as some might suppose. It is a very intense, total concentration ordeal as two lives are at stake.  After each home birth, I was elated and full of joy and called family members and close friends.  Only after I wa sure all was OK did I crash from exaustion because of the intense, total concenration thing..  The next 4 we had at home with amanda being the last.  when we found out we were going to have Ariana, Sharon opted for a home birth; but the Spirit whispered to me and I said "No."  That was the right decision because as she was"coming" out, the cord was so tight around her neck she started to turn blue.  Sharon asked why and dr. overcash said it was just the lighting of the birthing room-he lied to calm her fears but he could barely get two fingers under the cord to clamp and cut righ away-or the baby wouldno be able to come out and would strangle.  I couldn't handle that fast enough so thank God for the gift of the Holy Ghost and listening to His promptings that she neeo be born in thehospital.  Besides, it was 9 years since I delivered a baby and I was feeling a litle rusty!
Anyway, some of youhave ben asking me about our home births, so this is a little history of hoLater, I might mention a unique experience with each one; but for now, this is how and why  we got started.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

finding truth at last

About 1976-77, I applied for a night cleaning job so with both of us working we could pay the bills. We already moved from the ghetto place to a big house-803 Farnum st.  the other side of Palmer but still in walking distance.  There was an ad posted at school and I went at night to. O. Cecil Wright's upstairs appartment and filled out the standard office max type of employment application.  Strange thing:  he wrote in pencil at the top two sententences. 1. Do you partake of alcoholic beverages; and 2. Do you partake of tobacco?  Must be importantant to him and I checked, "no."  It wasn't till several months later he called me and asked if I wanted the job.  Seems one of his workers, D. Craig Campbell bought a foaming, commercial rug shampooer and was getting so many business accounts, that he decided to go on his own.  He was to train me for a few nights as his replacement. There were about 7 employees and almost all the cleaning work started around 10-11 PM to 4 AM. Mostly restaurants.  Strange:  I discovered that they were all "Mormons."
 I was trained at Jumer's Castle Lodge-the food part-the kitchen was so dirty I would not let my dog eat there-a chef spilled some greese by a fryer and instead of cleaning it, just poured 2 lbs of salt on it.  The inside of the fryer door was green from old fats.  Hard to believe.  Even today, if we go out to eat, I peak inside the kitchen and check out the bathroom.  If they are filthy, we leave.  Years before this time, in PA., I stopped in Isialy's- a restaurant chain that also serve ice cream like Baskin Robbin's. I ordered a club sandwich and could also see into the kitchen,  The cook was scraping the grill, and to see if it was hot enough, spit on it to see if it would sizzle. I got up and left.
Anyway, the 2nd, and last day of my traing, Glen dropped me off at 4AM in front of our house-never expecting to see me again.  He was a student and his way was being paid by his uncle and dad, who were chiropractor in Utah. Having a family member or a military loan was about the only way to have enough money to pay for school.
Befire I got out of his van, I looked at him and said,"Glen would you come over and explain the Book of Mormon to me."  He about had a stroke and said, "yes."  When I awoke, I asked Sharon if it was OK. She readily agreed.  Being around 3 little kids 24/7, she welcomed adult company.  That night, Glen and Kathy(his wife) came over and our discussion ended with whether or not we would like the missionaries to come over.  Yes. A couple of "funnies:"  I was drinking a cup of coffee and had a cigarette lit. I politely asked if it bothered them and he said,It's your house," to which I replied, " Yes, but you are my guests."  And promply got rid of both. A year or so before, Glen, a newly returned missionary, was trying to get an Institote(of religion) program started at Palmer and also was talking about the church to other students.  Got nothing but, "no's."  So he made up his mind not to talk about the church to anyone anymore.  THEN I CAME ALONG, AND asked HIM!  Rarely happens and it renewed his determination and probably he asked forgiveness.
We had the Elders come and teach us everyweek for 3 months.  Now they got it down to about 3 weeks!
We stunned them because at one point, we told THEM that when we are baptized...  The normal way is for the missionaries to challenge investigators to set a date.  In any case, on June 25, 1977. we were baptised, then confirmed and recieved the gift of the Holy Ghost the folowing Sunday.  On the day of our baptism, Sharon said that this was it-no more looking for the truth,  We found it. And we promised one another we would never quit or become inactive.
One of the misionaries was brand new: O. Glen Taylor(what's with all these middle name guys?) he had a number of companions, but remained as one of our instructors the entire three months. About 20 years later and now married with kids, he gave me a surprise visit here in washington, IL.  He wanted to show his family where he served in Davenport and then "The Valencic's.  It was a sweet visit.. Then a number of years after than, having our missionaries over for dinner(a regular custom of memebers is to feed them) I asked them where home was and one said,"Snowflake, AZ."  This is where Glen was from and I asked if he knew him.  The elder got all excited and said Glen was his Bishop and Scoutmaster and now was the Stake president.  It choked me up. I said,"Elder, 25 years ago, Glen was sitting here as a misioary, teaching us the Gosple of Jesus Christ."  Small world. Side Note:  everyone wears white when they are baptised by imerssion. The males, white shirt/pants or a white "jump suit."  Ladies wear a long white dress.  But Sharon was very much pregnant with Abram and a white dress just wasn't enough-her belly made it rise up. So, besides the dress, she also wore a pair of slacks-kinda maternity style, because, just a dress would float up on top of the water. Abram was born August 21, 1977, to give you an idea of how close she was to delivery-our first home delivery of five. Tom & Aaron and Ariana, our last, were delivered in a hospital, It was our bad hospital experience with Aaron that swayed us to have a home birth: Mom,me, and a Labor Coach..

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

more church

aftre my near fatal car accident in 1969, and not getting much answers from traditional medicine, I starrt seeing a chiropractor in Erie.  After awhile he thought I would make a good doctor of chiropractic. I was accepted at Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport, IA.  Which is how we wound up in the Midwest.  The school was started by the founders and considered the best; I had enough precollege credits to be accepted and started in 1974.  Our first getto apartment made Sharon cry.  Only one bedroom and a pull out couch.  But it was within walking distance which was good as we no longer had a car.  Sharon found work as a waaitress and tom, jr., and Aaron were not much more than babies.  College was extremely hard since studing the body was an exact science with no generalities like in business.  The apartment was actually a small house with another student couple living upstairs.One day he came down, all excited.  He bought 2 paperback ccopies of the Book of Mormon and gave one to us(only $1.00 at the bookstore)  He said it said terrible things about the Catholic church(He was a lay Methodist minister-part time) The book never mentions the Catholic church. I thumbed through it, looking at the painting prints and I just new there was something magical, so to speak, about this book, although I did not read it until 2 years later.
I came to realize we would never have enough money to finish school, as there were no fed loans or grants available.  Chiropractic, back then was not recognized as a legit healing art.
I discovered beer in Iowa was dirt cheap and available everywhere, unlike PA. Drinking to ease the pain from the car wreck, instead of meds, was a mistake.  And after the drinking career and lack of college funds and we were expectin Abram, I quit.  I use to be a restaurant mgr., and was cooking at Ponderosa Steak House.  Pete, the manager saw how good I was and that I was with the co., before talked me into going back into management and was kind enough to sell me one of his cars dirt cheap.  Eventually, I was transfered to Peoria, IL.  But in between was the wierd story of the cleaning business and how we found the church. That will be the next topic. Side note: Abram was born in August of 77 @803 Farnum Street- He was our first baby we had at home.  We took home birth classes, I delivered him after Sharon did all the work.  Interesting thing about his hair: it had a perfect part!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

the search begins

Aftet Sharon and I were married, we spent about seven years looking for a church that was true-set up like Jesus set up the His church while on earth 20000+ years ago. He had the Authority and was the sole owner of His priesthood.  He called 12 apostles and three were also set apart as the first presidency: Peter as the the President-prophet, seer,and revelator;  with James and John as his two counscellors. and with the twelve, it was done with the laying on of hands-His, on each of their heads.  When the prophet dies, all the priesthood keys to administer the gospel fall back on the twelve and a new president is called; by custom, the senior apostle. Then another is called to keep the quorum at twelve.  As I looked at the Catholic church and compared it to the time He was on earth, there was no comparison betwen the two.  The Lord did not walk around in costly vestments, have a cathedral with marble statues and cut marble altars.  Rome claims keys of authority from Peter, who they claim was the first pope. Wrong. Peter was dead hundreds of years when the catholic church was organized.  And he did not speak orwrite in Latin, which only a few of the upper crust could do.  Nor did he drink wine from a gold, jewel lined chalace. The church of Rome formed the doctrine of transubstaniation, which claims the sacrement of bread and wine literally become Hid body and blood, That is cannabalism.  When, at the Last Supper he gave that sacrement it was thus.  He broke bread to show his body would be torn and given up; and said do this in REMEMBRANCE OF THAT ATONEMENT.  Same with the wine; drink it in REMEMBRANCE OF MY BLOOD THAT WAS ABOUT TO BE SHEED, NOT, HERE, DRINK MY BLOOD. hOW ABSURD!  tHIS IS JUST A LITLE lesson in history.  The Jewish leaders(who were usually apointed and change at the whim of the Roman caapturers followed the Mosiac laws-except they added to them, making them unbeliably complicated for the average person to follow.  Example: no work on the sabbath, which could be punishable by death.  One of their additions was that you were not allowed to walk on grass on the sabbath.  Reason: it could be in seed, and walking on it was considered thrashing it or working.  They literally believed an eye for an eye and did not know what the word fogiveness meant.  And they also walked around in costly attire so everyone could see how important they were. Then Christ starts His minisry of love-180 degree turn around.  If someone steals your coat, give him also your cloak. If someone strikes you on the cheek, turn your head and let them hit you again.  When he taught, the crowds were enourmous-20-30 thousand at one time-which is why he got in a boat and preached from it.  He was a real threat to the Jewish rulers and they found an illigal way to put him to death.
After Jesus ascended to heaven, His church was ruled by His apostles. One by one they died or were put to death, and the Jewish leaders took over again mixing His simple, pure, authoritative gosple with their own brand of philosophy. Centuries later His church was unreconizable and wielded enormous power.  Along comes Constitine who, instead of continuing the fight with Rome, made it his state religion and ordered ALL to join.  He also took the luxury of apointing church officials-no more calling a man through inspiration of the HolyGhost and the laying on of hands with Christ priesthood authority.  I t was a mess. The common man could only believe what the bogus priests tod them-no mass production of the Bible nor in a languge they could read.  The Gutenburg press changed that; along with Luther(a former catholic priest in germany) who wrote the bible in german and made it possible for all to read. of course, he was kicked out of the catholic church.  others followeded, like Calvin, etc.
So now in the 1800's. the prophecy of Isiah came true;  everything was so screwed up, there was only one thing left to do: wipe the slate clean, and start over.  And that's where the Church of Jesus Christ came into existance; set up with priesthood authority and organized just like Christ organized His church while he was on earth. Sacred records were hid up, written by American continent prophets, the last being Mormom and his son, Moroni.  The Book ofMormon contained the pure and true gospel of Jesus, translated by the power of God by the prophet Joseph Smith. Once again, priesthood authority and the Lord's gospel were on the earht, in this, the last dispensation, called the fullness of times-and it has remained true and cosistant till today.

So, when we left the Catholic church, there was no sense joining any Protasent churh; they broke away from rome and were just as false.  So what do we do? Search. For the truth. We looked into everything from psychic phenonomen, Unity Village, but always had the feeling something was missing. Next: how we became members of the true Church. And rememer: God is always the same-yesterday, today, and tomorrow; or He would cease to be God. So it follows if He is always the same, then ALL churches would teach exactly the same thing. They don't.  So a restoration had to be-time to start over fresh, organizing the churhc just as Christ did while He was on earth, No exceprtions, no adding philosophies and unreadable languages.  Think about it and you will know I speak the truth. So, Coming up: how we found it or it found us.Side note: Christ says in the New Testament,"Let no man be called father, except your Father who art in Heaven." The word, "Pope," is from the Italian, "Papa," which means father,  And Catholic priest are referd to as "father so and so.  What a slap in the face to God and His Son.

Monday, March 21, 2011

the church and why-part one of?

hi everyone
  about my junior year of high school, I started to question the pracices of the Roman Catholic church.  And I was a faithful member, singing in the boys choir through grade school and contemplating of becoming a catholic priest;  i figured i would get the collections on christmas for my vacation somewhere warm, free house, dicounts from just about everyone, and i would, of course have a housekeeper, as all priest's residences had.  most were old Polish women, etc., and that was out!  She would have to be drop dead gorgeous, etc., etc. Hey, there was always death bed repentence and I surely could forgive myself!

Seriously, I had my application filled out for the seminary-where guys go to learn latin and how to do priest stuff and I had an inteviev with father houtt, at st. Phillips in Linesville. As he asked me questions, he became full of rage and yelled at me because I didn't say the word "father" at the end of each answer i gave.  I left and told myself i would never want to become like that.

Since I worked 24/7 in my parents little ice cream stand, I took an hour Sunday morning to go to mass.  I quit going, and, not wanting to offend my folks or be lectured, I would just go and park and rest for an hour or go to the drug store and read Popular Mechanics or Photography mags.  then go home.

My senior year it dawned on me I should apply to a college. I did. only one. Gannon college(now a university), in Erie, Pa. And yes it was a catholic school.  Far enough from home but close enough to visit during the holidays.  In college, the only church service i ever attended was one at St. Peter's Cathedral-a folk mass, in which I played my guitar and sang with margie and her younger brother. I guess they were after the college crowd.  I picked the music and songs, etc.  the good thing: during communion we were first in line to sip the wine  from the gold chalice after the catholic priest.  And they spared no expense in getting the best wine;  and the three of us spared no time in gulping down a goodly portion of the wine.  Naturally, we sung and played better afterwords.  More later; 7 years of searching for the true church.

Monday, February 21, 2011

the war years part 2

most students, especially most of the males had this feeling of, "for what?" In other words, as soon as I graduate, I am no longer a full time student and my "number" is up.  Most college kids today start pumping out the resumes looking to be hired after their senior year.  Not so back then.  Unless you had some sort of disability, you were not going to work; you were going to war.  Yes, there are a lot of differences between Viet Nam and Iraq.  Iraq was a volunteer army and we went to Iraq to win, even though the Iraqi who reported WMD's said he lied.  We were allowed to win, none of this "you can only engage the enemy so far.
During my college years, no one my age trusted anyone over thirty-and I can see why as I look back today-they had complete control over our futures. As I look back at all the peace movements, I tend to agree with them.  Sure, you had those in it just for the sex and drugs, but most students really wanted peace and for the war to end.  It was an amazing sight to see the 100's of thousands at the Washington Monument.
When you come down to the bottom line, we just wanted control over our own destinies and not the politicians in Washington determining who was to live or die.  Kids I went to high school and college who I never saw again.  Again, you had to be there and live it to understand it; and the few "adults" who were for peace-the Kennedy's, King, eliminated.  Being the college photographer, I was privy to hear all the lectures and musical groups.  The biggest fruit cake was Timothy Leary, the lsd guru-better living through chemistry.  I intentionally made his photo with large all white eyes.  Some of the students were in it for the excitement; others wanted to go to war; but most just wanted to live and be a college student-and the majority who protested were sincere as they had candle light vigils at night in front of the draft board, reading off the names of the dead that day or from the town.  It was a terrible feeling not knowing if you were going to have a tomorrow or be dead in 3 months.  You had to be there and feel it otherwise you just cannot comprehend the atmosphere.  Side note: the second semester of my freshman year (before I really started feeling the futility of everything controlled by the war, I signed up for Army R.O.T.C.  I figured if I had to go, I would go as an officer-second lieutenant.  When I called my dad and told him(he was a gunner's mate in the Navy) he said,"You dummy! They shoot them (officer's ) first!-aim for those metal officer bars on the hat and uniform.  I guess the enemy felt if they they got rid of the platoon leader the whole group would fall apart.  In any case, after one semester of playing soldier boy, I had enough and quit before I had to make a commitment. It just wasn't the life for me. There were those who REALLY gun-ho and looked forward to the day they were shipped out.  Besides, with my short arm, none of my uniforms fit and I could not hold a rifle correctly since the stock was to long for me. But as the college photographer, I was asked by the student Army and the regular Army leaders, to go with them to Painesville, OH.  This was the nuke center that was to guard Cleveland and Pittsburgh, etc.  All the radar and tracking was in trucks-in case they were about to be bombed, they could move out of the way and still counter attack. And it was neat how they opened the underground silo's and raise the rocket's with nuclear warheads.  I took a lot of pics.  Which were all ruined-when you walk through the gate your entire body is x-rayed for an I.D. since every skeleton is different.(They didn't tell me this as I would have lined my case with lead.  Also, our "tour" guide never left my side that had my camera case.  Bottom line: radiation destroys camera film! I suppose today in the digital age, camera or picture taking stuff stays outside the gate.

the college years

I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a truck that belonged to a Vietnam Vet that said, "If you were not here, shut up!" Going to college during the 1960's and part of the 70's was unlike any other time period in the history of our country. Everyone had a feeling of hopelessness, futility, anger, and even rage.  My wife and I, while we were dating, would always stay together to at least midnight, so we could say we started the day together. The Vietnam War was going full blast and the draft was put into force. On your 18th birthday, every young man was required by law to "sign up." Then they instituted a numerical system: every draft age person was given a number.  Supposedly, the higher the number, the less like ly you were going to get that infamous letter in the mail from our local draft board, to report for a physical exam.  The other thing, supposedly, was if you were a full time college student(15.5 credit hours/semester) and your college sent a letter to your draft board, you were exempt.  Supposedly. I made the mistake of carrying over 20 credit hours one semester, which about fried me, so I only took 9 credit hours the following semester. You guessed it, within a week I was called to report for a physical and a school bus load of us young men were driven to Buffalo, N.Y. which was the induction center.  As I said before, the only thing that kept me from coming back from 'Nam in a flag draped box was my short arm gave me an exemption.  Gee, I wonder who won the contract for American flags back then-over 58,000?  And the idea that we had to go into a swamp and kill the country's citizens and destroy their home's to stop the progression of Communism is really stretching it.  Here we are, the richest, most powerful country in the world, who could obliterate any country in the world at the push of a button, sending foot solder's into a swamp-whose shoes fell apart and rifles jammed, was just nuts.  Viet Nam was a political war. Period. "Limited engagement."  In other words, we were NOT allowed to win.  Ask any Army general and he will tell you that the Viet Nam War could have been won in two weeks.  More on the college years later.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

put on the boxing gloves

A disclaimer: do I take my own advice?  Usually. Not. But I feel that when two people are in a relationship, like a marriage, there is bound to be differences, some of which push our emotional "buttons" to where we want the issue resolved NOW.  usually not a good idea-a hot head can't make cool decisions.  So here are some things I picked up over the years for your consideration:
1. When you want to settle an issue, do it latter-both pick an agreeable time.  You are not ignoring the problem; just "shelving" it to a better time. Like when you both are not at the boiling point and set aside a time for the TWO of you to talk. No kids or friends or duties to interupt.
2. It's time.  Sounds corny, but sit down, hold hands and have a prayer with both of you offering up something to the God of your understanding.  I would suggest thanking Him for each other.
3 Identify the problem and stick to it, and nothing else. This is not the time to bring in everything else that irritates you about your partner's habits or their extended family.  Example:"While were at it, I want to talk about your mother meddling in our lives, etc., etc."
4. Have a safe phrase and a separate safe place to go to for at least 15 minutes. If either one says, "Time Out," The conversation immediately stops-not another word is allowed to be spoken, and each person leaves the room and goes to a predesignated place: the dinning room, den, wherever.  As long as it is not the bedroom or the same place! And remember, when someone says time out, that's exactly what it means-I need a break and I need it now. AND NOT ANOTHER WORD IS ALLOWED. SILENCE. GET UP AND GO TO YOUR PLACE.
5. 15 minutes is up, time to get back together and try it again-and usually this time, it doesn't seem as bad as it was before.
6.  Always start each sentence or paragraph with the word "I".  Such as, "I feel that the way you sit there and pick your nose during diner really bothers me."  If you start with the word, "You," it comes across as an attack of the other person, such as, You are such a slob, picking your nose during dinner!" See the difference?
Anyway, just a few ideas that might help you at home or even where you work. And remember: you are not going to change your mate-so work on changing you to be a better person-when you do that, you will be surprised at how much better your mate has become!  And if you have not done so, everyone work to make a Mission Statement for your home. Frame it and hang it where everyone in the family(plus guests) can easily read it often.  Just as a suggestion, read "Family. A proclamation to the World," for some ideas.  You can find it at or just do a Google to find it. kismif: keep it simple, make it fun.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

fighting to stay married

there must be a 100 books written on how to have a happy marriage and raise your children.  And they are all wrong because the only worthwhile knowledge is for the person who wrote the book-for himself(her) and one child.  Children don't come with an owner's manual, so we do the best we can, hopefully adding improvements from the way you were raise;   or, sometimes it is best just to wipe the slate clean and start fresh, especially if you came from an abusive household. I know that some of my ancestors were big on capital punishment; a childhood friend's dad was a barber and the belt was not used just to sharpen his straight razor; so it would be wrong of him to find ways of improving the belt's use.  As I said, sometimes better to just start fresh and a good way is to have a family proclamation, one that is based on gospel principles.  If you recall, Jesus drove the Jewish ruling class nuts because they followed a strict Moses's Law of an eye for an eye.  Next:  what every relationship needs to know how to do: and that is how to fight. Fairly. All couples are going to have disagreements and some can make or break a marriage.  But if both of you agree 100% of the time on %100 of everything, it would really take all the flavor of bringing two people living together.  Don't take this the wrong way: men and women are not equal, they are different-so they can complement each other and grow in equality.Who of us want to marry ourselves? Boring.  More, later.


i would often joke with people that age seems to bring some stability and "wisdom" into our lives, but it would be nice to have that 20 year old, or so, body, at the same time!  But, I guess the Lord has other plans, and we can't have both at the same time!
Just some info of some of the "specialists" I have been to see, so far, the last being a neuro-ophthalmologist, is most of these conditions that seem to being coming out of nowhere, I've had most of my life-its just that now, it's time for them to get in the way! One of the problems the eye doctor (I am not going to write out that big title again) said I am seeing manifest, is convergence. You can look at the tip of your nose-I no longer can, which is why I have to type with my right eye closed.  That's the close-up part of wearing bifocals.  Long distance wise I have to be careful as I see double out of my right eye.  Naturally, if I close it, I lose depth perception.since  I have been driving since I was 16, I am not sure how to judge not having it and it is causing me problems trying to adjust. 

Still no answers yet about hand tremors or losing feeling in my right leg.  Well, little by little, I will get this figured out-but right now, not being able to see, write, and sometimes I have to move my leg with my hand-like while driving, picking up my foot from the gas to the brake pedal, is a little scary.
 I just want things to work well enough to go back to work. But, like one guy said to me, it's a good day if you wake up without dirt on your face!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Just Ducky

Tom, Jr., was our 1st to get accepted to a college and it was BYU.  Things fell in place;  someone down the street had a used blue 12 passenger van that we could afford and got us there and back.  We decided to pitch our tents along the green river in Provo.  This was unlike any park we were familiar with in Pa. or IL.The camping season was over and there was only one other family camping out.  The grass was 3" thick and a lush green with auto sprinklers to keep it that way.  The bathrooms were not the "pits," but were modern with flush toilets, ceramic walls, and hot showers.  During the night, I could here the sounds of fish splashing all night, and envisioned large bass, just waiting for me.  They were large carp, and while we did not eat them, they gave up a heck of a fight-one even broke a fishing pole in two!
for breakfast, we had bacon, eggs, toast, and milk or OJ to drink. Realizing they were carp, i would take a piece of bread after breakfast, and dip it in the cooled bacon grease, working it into a ball on the hook. A carp will run with it, drop it, and come back to get it.  Time to set the hook.  one chance. Crapy to eat, but a good battle, landing it.
Amanda, who was a tot, said, "Daddy, you said you would teach me how to fish."  So we got everything ready(as above), and with both of us holding the pole, made the cast. No sooner did the bait hit the water, a duck flew down like a bullet and grabbed it, swallowed it, hook and all and began flying away.  We reeled the poor bird to shore and i held it down with a shoe while using a pair of pliers to cut the line, hoping its gastric juices would eventually dissolve the hook.  Looking back it was quite comical seeing the scared duck flapping to escape!  End of story-Amanda's first fish was a duck!  What a story.  More about our first experiences in Provo, UT. later.

fiah stories

since i am awake, some fish facts. NO ONE in Brackenridge would even think of eating carp or catfish, except those living on 4th avenue, the "colored," street.  Just about everyone considered them garbage food since they ate garbage from a polluted river.  When we moved to the Midwest, I was amazed how many restaurants served breaded catfish and that social clubs advertised catfish dinners on a Friday night basis. Here, catfish was THE fish to eat!  The "finer" restaurants would stress their catfish was "pond raised." Lise Dixon's Fish Shop in East Peoria.  When I worked for Ruth Industries, selling maintenance chemicals, one of my accounts was the park district in El Paso-and there were 50 lb bags of Purina Catfish chow.  So it was not a lie after all
Carp is another story. There are 2 rows of red bitter flesh, that, if removed, make it edible. Suppository.Carp is considered a white fish and I have a story to tell of Amanda.s first fish-a duck caught on the green river in Provo.  To me, if you can throw a stone across the other side it is a creek, not a river. The green river emptied into Utah Lake and I asked the Park Ranger what the big boats were throwing out nets to catch-he said carp to be sold in New York as a Jewish delicacy and they are also made into fish sandwiches  for Hardee's and other fast food places.  So the next time you order a fish sandwich, it  is not some cold water fish from the north.  It is carp.  And what ever you do, don't buy fish or chicken from Wal-Mart.  The fish are very polluted and the chickens have been dead for some time and after skinning them,(the workers usually throw up), they are put in a pool of yellow-orange colored water to look fresh. And then sent from China, Side note:  all fish have small, live worms, living just under the scales-even trout!  So just get a good variety of Omega 3 for your vitamin, and when you fish, catch and release.  Good night:)

Friday, February 11, 2011


Today, Pymatuning Lake is financially dead-The largest lake(part in Ohio) is a ghost town.Even though it has over 35 miles of shoreline and has the largest fish hatchery in the state of PA., no one, meaning tourists, visit, let alone fish the lake.  In the 60's  and 70's is was a booming area whose postcard's boast"where the ducks walk on the fish." The area known as the Spillway, where a circular dam let water from one side of the road (game and fishing a no-no), spill under to the other side-fishing and fowl hunting allowed-the carp were so large and thick trying to eat a slice of bread thrown in by the tourists,, the ducks could literally walk on the carps backs and grab some bread.  a concession stand, rented by the State. besides selling "made in China" souvenirs, sold, on average, 4000 loafs of "day old" bread a week for the carp to eat-besides other places that sold the bread.  The carp were over 2 and a half feet long and had to weigh about 25-30ilb each.  When their population became to much(the carp also fed on trophy fish eggs,) the stat state would net them up then grind them up for the farmers to use as fertilizer.
Today, even game fishing is a rarity, and it is not uncommon to hear of a 40"+ Musky being caught on a hook and worm-no one fishes the lake anymore.  My parents home on the lake would easily go for over a half million 10 years ago: now they would be lucky to get 90,000 for it.
The other main road is the Causeway,which separates that part of the lake from PA. to OH.-the road is a dam in itself. The Lake is shallow: one could walk across the causeway in the water, and not go over their head.
The demise:  closer lakes and tourist attractions near the big cities such as Pittsburgh, Youngstown & Cleveland, OH.,  The big "killer" was the new Moraine Lake, outside of butler, PA. It offered so much that the boy scouts used it for one of their national jamborees.  My parent's biggest mistake was building a brand new drive restaurant, "the Duck Inn."  They should have gotten out of the business years before.  But I still feel the reason we moved to Pymatuning Lake was my dad's love of Musky fishing. Side Note: Before Fishing/ depth finders, dad would order a set of maps showing the depths and terrain of all the lakes he fished from the Army Corp of Engineers-he new that large fish, like Musky's, preferred deep and/or hiding places in the water-so that is where he would fish!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

2 then 3

before i get to st. mike's, i i want my family to know they raised ti different families. Me an Bill work for our folk-free- from the time we were six or seven through high school and times beyond.  Our folks felt we misses out on a lot and felt they had to make it up with the three following three, beginning with Tim, 8 yrs my junior. kind of s guilt complex,  Bill seems to remember more of the nasty things than me as i kept myself absorbed with science and photography and music.
Mom and dad thought it important to continue our catholic upbringing or should i say upbeat-by this time, mostly vocal. It was bigger that St. Joe's with a  high school and a newer grade(1-8th) building down the road.  Still small as our graduating class was 44- it was 45, but one of the girls became pregnant and the nuns made her disappear, never to be seen again.  Now, you just take your baby to your classes  I remember 2 years: sophomore and senior. the sophomore nun's favorite phrase(i assume she is still alive today at 200 years old) was"mightily wrong with you people.  She would start teaching a class and all of a sudden go off on a tangent using that phrase.  She like coulius (sic) the colored leaf plants and had them in pots on every window shelf.  We had a rolling science cart and we would take the chemicals and boiling waters from experiments and instead of dumping them down the sink drain, we would pour them on each of her plants, for saying there was something mightily wrong with us and spend the rest of the class telling us how we were all going to burn for our sins. In any case, the plants would not die, in fact, they grew stronger and healthier.  So God watches out for those of "the cloth" even when the religion was not true.  More about St. Mike's later.

carp+bread = money

Pymatuning is the largest man made lake in PA., with part in Ohio,  The good ol' Army Corps of Engineers did it again:  find a small steam or creek, damn it up and make a Lake, This they did by making a dirt damn on the Shenago  creek in Jamestown = the Lake one one side ans a trickle of a creek on the other.  It's just their think: make lake out of trickles of water some times for flood control but usually just for some they can prove it can be done. The Lake has over 35 miles of shore line and just two main roads: the Causeway which goes from PA. to OH(there is a marker showing state boundaries. it is about 2 lanes wide plus parallel parking and acts as a damn itself. The lake is shallow: you could literally walk in the water along side the causeway without going over your head  Each side has a beach and campgrounds. The other road is the Spillway that goes from the country(desolate) area's of Espyville  to Linesville-a town, but desolate in itself.  It has one main street of "shopping stores."  This road separates the lake into two main sections:  on one side you can fish, hunt, etc.; the other is protected waterways where no fishing or hunting  is allowed.  The Spillway is just that-a semi circle about 30 ' in diameter where the water spills from one side, under the road/ bridge to the other side.  there is a concession stand plus room for about 100 cars.  The big item it sell, besides stuff made in China with "Pymatuning Lake" stamped on it, is day old bread-so the tourist can throw slices to the carp-that are so thick that the ducks and other birds can walk on top of them to get bread before the carp get it.  These are BIG carp atleast30' long and weighing just as much.Why? this particular stand(there are others) sell to the tourist, on average, about 4000 loafs of bread a week. I was always fearful if me or anyone fell in past the guard rail, they would be gummed to death. It was always fun to ask someone to throw their still lite cigarette butt in the mass of carp, especially near the shore.  The stupid carp would immediately suck it in and just as quick spit it out!  Interesting fact: the spillway was made of concrete with 2 steel bands about three feet a part. When there was just to many of them, the water "cops" would raise the water level almost to the top. and the two steel bands would then have electricity poured through, killing most of them.  They would be "scooped" out and taken away in a big truck to a place where they would be ground up and given to the local farmers for fertilizer. Pymatuning boast the largest fish hatchery in the state, where the would "milk" the eggs from full size female Musky's, fertilize them, and, when the "babies wee about 18" long, put them in the lake.  They would give demo's all through the day plus the had a museum.
But the Lake's big fame was feeding the carp.  It was a great fishing lake, but that was kept quiet and boats could only have a 6 horsepower motor to prevent pollution from water skiers.  Bigger motor sprayed a lot of oil on the surface of waterways.
People came from Cleveland and Youngstown, Oh. plus all the way from Pittsburgh, PA.-Now, with so many new recreation spots, Pymatuning Lake is deserted. Rarely does anyone fish the lake anymore and the carp thing has lost it's appeal. Five or more years ago, a house on the lake, like my parents, would sell for over half million: today it would probably fetch around 80 to 100 grand. Maybe. The big tourist days are gone.I remember when we went to the catholic church in Linesville "father" Hout would always announce a second collection-necessary to help pay off the new, bigger, church, that had to be erected to accommodate the tourist crowds. Right.  Everywhere else, the second collection, at least at Christmas time, was for the catholic priest-his 'present' for a new car or more likely, a vacation at some exotic beach, since his home, car, cook and housekeeper came out of regular collection funds. But Hout was a priest to the core, which is why, after being interviewed by him, I decided I would never be a catholic priest, besides the appeal of that exotic vacation and keeping the second collection-and a cute cook and housekeeper:) Hey, you got to make up for that stupid vow of celibacy. Next(maybe) St. Michael school, Greenville, Pa. and 17 mi. from where we lived. Looking back, dumb: to do all that driving just to continue the sadistic ways of the nuns.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


well, we got about a foot of snow the last 24 hours but what is worse is that it will be minus ten tonight. I remember being a little kid and the side walk from our house to grandma's was at least two feet high.  Actually, i think it seemed so high was that I was not very high!
This winter in Washington has had more snow than I can recall in the past 20 some years.  We did have a time, back in late 70's where around New Year's, the temperature did not rise above 0 degree's.  A trickle charger didn't seem to work outside, so every evening I would bring the car battery inside the house and leave the charger clamped on.  That only gave us one shot at starting the car since the engine parts were frozen.  The only way the local gas station seemed to be able to start a car, if jumping didn't work, was to tow the car and leave it in their warm garage till everything warmed up.
That always reminded me that service stations repaired more flat tires after a big rain storm than any other time. Reason: the rains would wash loose roofing nails from people's houses out into the streets where they would find a tire as a next victim.  True story.  Winds would loosen nails and then the rains would wash them down the gutters into the streets.  Of course, a smart owner would also check under the hood for a worn belt-which he would show the car owner who would agree to buy not just one, but two-just to have a spare on hand. Every notice when you go and buy a light bulb or turn siginal bulb to replace one that was burned out, that they now package them in two's-just so you have a spare. Of course, when you need the spare, you can't remember where to stashed it!
Next blog story: 3' long carp that tourist feed an average of 4000 loafs of bread/ week-so what if there are people going hungry!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


We moved from Brackenridge after my freshman year at St. Joseph HS.  I don't know why as there was never any discussion.  As a matter of fact, I cannot recall any family talks, etc.  There was no weekly family counsel and calendering of events; no family prayers morning or night and never a blessing asked before a meal, though the Catholic Church had a "standardized" one to use. What My dad earned working in three different factories is  a mystery as any sales/profits earned from 'Frank's Boat Work's," or the "stand"-which is what the little drive up food place was always referred to. When we moved to Espyville Station, PA., I have no idea of how the address was located. When it was purchased the house stood close to a 'T" in the road, with the wrap around sun porch the existing eatery.  The lady?/owner was quite a liar saying she made $150.00 alone, just on selling french fries on a Sunday. Of course it was a lie, since her crappy parking lot could only hold 3 cars at a time.  After we "modernized" by tearing out the bushes and putting in draining pipes to fill in the ditches, we could hold about 15 cars.  I think the first week day we were opened, we made $7.20 in sales.  Pymatuning Lake was a must come and visit tourist area and only really busy during the summer months. Today, it is a ghost town and no one even fishes the Lake anymore.  As I said before, we painted the brown sun porch white and put in 4 'x4' windows, replacing the old panes.  The entire house was brown wood shingles.  We found out that when a section started to fade, Mrs Early "Re stained it," with used motor oil-just hand me a match, please!  Away from the house was a two story barn-cement block on the bottom and vertical wood boards on top.The first time we went up (with Mrs Early), the floor was about 6" deep-with bat droppings-she"kept meaning to clean it out"  At night, 100's and 100's of bats flew out of their perches which were spaces in the wood boards. We tried everything to kill or get rid of them: shooting them with 22 buckshot, sulfur candles, and all kinds of sprays. It is a wonder that none of us ever got bitten and had to get a rabies shot. About 1972, my dad decided to move the house and stand and have a normal looking small sit down eatery built. called the "Duck Inn."  Mistake, as in a very expensive error. I remember an 80 year old man came and jacked up the house and put roller logs underneath so it could be pushed to it's present location.  The nearby Amish community came and completely removed the barn for the price of keeping all the wood and blocks.  They didn't let the bats bother them one bit.  The other pests: mosquitoes. Attracted by the stands lights at night.  We had two electric units with black lights and it would attract and zap them-about 5 lbs/night.  we should have just let the bats alone to eat them. The house and barn stood on 5 acre's of land, mostly overgrown, with a section of a creek passing through where we would spear suckers in the spring spawning season.  Total cost for it all:$15,000 or 150/ month.  The dinning room had wall paper-turquoise background with giant sea shells They say that Mr. Early(I think they were divorced or separated) drank a lot. I would too, looking either at Mrs Early(bath water? What's that) or go in the dinning room, which is where he slept when around.  A banker in Pittsburgh told my dad to have enough cash to live on for 3 years and my great uncle Balash(grocer), said 5 years.  They were right; he didn't. We about starved the first winter and the house had no insulation and it was heated by oil, which we went through like water-even with hanging blankets on the windows to keep out the cold winds The inside of the house was like living in a ghetto.  When dad finally got a steady job, in a couple of years, he, Bill, and me completely gutted the inside of the house smashing down the walls with sledge hammers, iron bars, and keeping a rag over our mouth and nose so as not to breath in the 75 year old plaster.  Then it was insulated, rewired and plastered with new thermal windows.  Guess how much Bill and I got paid? That's right, nothing-and we worked till the blisters on our hands bled and we constantly blew the plaster dust from our noses.  I worked in the stand-for free.  When the new one was built, Bill, who was now an electrician, completely wired the place-material and labor?  Free.  It annoys me as I look back at those first3-5 years because my parents were going to lose the house several times for non payment of the mortgage.  They didn't, because grandparents came to the rescue-paid the mortgage and drove the 135 mile trip loaded down with food..I only bring this up because I asked my parents for money-once.  I lost my job and needed $40.00 to make the rent payment. No kids yet. So I called home. Mom answered and when I asked, she gave me a lecture and then hung up on me, not even saying good-bye.  We lived in our car that week until friends gave us shelter and I landed a new job. After that phone call, I NEVER AGAIN asked my parents for anything, despite the 1000's of hours I worked for free for them from the time I was 7 years old-first the boat works and then the "stand." That incident always hurt me to the core, because without my granddad's money and grandma's help, my folks would have never been able to build or buy three houses-that, and my granddad hacked down almost all the weeds and tall grass at the Espyville property for free and by hand-he used a cy-cycle(sic) just like he learned to do in the "old country" of Europe. Then a push mower.  Side Note: From my great grandparents and on,(and probably way before that) it was the pattern that the previous generation help by working hard and saving what they could to help the next(their kids) when they married, to buy a house and some land.  That custom ended with my parents, who refused to help out their children even with a loaf of bread.  And I can prove it.  Because, if I needed something to eat, I would ask grandma, not call home. Their choice: A 600,000 house (worth about 90 now), on the lake, a Lincoln in the garage, thousands spent on fur coats and the best woman's clothing and shoe's, their championship bred cats and dogs-so I guess it is no wonder they were to broke to help their children out if needed.  Bitter? No, just reality and we decided if OUR children needed some help-if we had it, we gave it.  Like the lady who gave me a ride home as I stood helpless on I-74 with braces and holding a cane, in the bitter cold wind, 2 days ago, with a flat van tire), said: "it's what I do and I won't take any money"-just "pass it  on."(YOUR turn to help someone if they are in need.)  In closing, always remember the number "5" What(1) would(2) the(3) Master(4) do?(5)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

the ugly brown coat and Viet Nam

Mom hated the color and material of my photographer's jacket. To me, it was a part of my skin. March, 1969, I bought a new VW bug, white with red interior. I think the total "new" price was about $1500.00  I was working 3 jobs while in college.  On March 13, 1969 a teacher didn't show and I left early to go to work-the company made the plastic holders for milk, each one holding four one gallon jugs.  12th and Pittsburgh avenue.  4 lanes.  At the light, I was in the inside lane to make a left turn,  As I did, a lady driving a Fleetwood Cadillac, hit me broadside.  She was going 80 in a 40 mph zone.Left 200' of tire marks on the road, trying to stop.  MY HEAD HIT THE DRIVER SIDE WINDOW, AND TO THIS DAY MY LEFT SIDE IS FLAT, NOT ROUNDED LIKE THE RIGHT SIDE.(DA** CAPS KEYS LOCK. She spun me around and put a 4' "V" in the back where the engine was located.  Then she hit and spun me around again-I whip lashed so hard, I yanked the seat from it's rails.  I came to rest in a  ditch, which had an old metal sign pole sticking out of the ground. It kept me from flipping over.  The only thing that was left of the car was a rear side window, which blew out on impact(smart German engineers).  I called my foreman and friend from the hospital to go and pick it up. I still have it today.  The shoulder belt smashed 3 of my ribs. The car she was driving belonged to her brother, the owner of a Cadillac firm. No problem with me wanting to sue: one obstacle-back then you had to be totoally responsible for a wreck.  She wasn't. Why?  She had the "right of way."
My good Jewish boss of the motel got me an attorney.  We could not have a case.  And He was smart: ended up a PA. Supreme Court judge.
When I met with the State Farm Agent, the first thing he asked: "Well, do you want to get it fixed?"(Bent frame, cracked motor, besides all the visible damage.)  My reply: "write me out a check for the full price as the car was 9 weeks old. And press hard-third copy is yours.  What next to do? I bought another and this was a promotional bug with a lightning symbol followed by the word"bug," on the trunk.  It was light blue with black racing stripes, a solid walnut steering wheel, wood dash, and Bosh chrome horns mounted on the front bumper. Black seats.  And this car made heads turn because the first "Herbie, the Love Bug," movie just came out.  This was a one in a million production car that drove like blazes and handle right angle turns with ease on its Michelin tires It was my third, out of owning four VW's.  I called my mother to tell her I was in a very bad car wreck: she started to cry over the phone. I told her to bake a cake and put black icing on it. It was her birthday.
OK, the jacket. It was the color of new baby poop and had about the same feel, and it was about to take a long trip in the VW with 4 others: we were going to Washington, D.C. for the huge Viet Nam War protest. I was going to photograph the events as I still tried to keep a neutral stance about the war. Until President Johnson, who, as commander-in-chief, said it was a "limited engagement."  In other words, we could "almost" be allowed to win, but when the enemy ran to hide in China, we had to turn back and quit fighting them. Reason. Johnson "feared a world war with china. Right. We are the richest, most powerful nation on earth.  Real translation: it was a political war. Period.  When I seen pixs of the coca-cola and Pepsi machines and the U.S. selling Minute Rice to the Vietnamese, I realized then it was not a war to save anyone or thing, just let the politicians make some American companies richer. Afterall, we could have bought the country for $4/acre.  Over 58,00 kids dead and more than 300,000 brain or mentally screw up for life. A girl who worked in our little drive in had a brother come back.  And almost every night they would go out and find him crawling on his belly, crying and screaming out of his mind through the corn fields.  Those who were not mental usually became heroin addicts. Johnson was a master politician and one of the most evil men I came to know. When VP Hubert Humphrey came to lecture at Gannon College, I had a clearance badge I had to wear from the secret service. If it was Johnson instead, I toyed with the idea of using my large Graflex camera, which had bellows, long enough to conceal, well use your imagination.  It was a terrible time for us to be alive at our ages because we never knew if we would have a tomorrow.  When mom and I were dating, we always tried to stay together until midnight, so we could say we had a new day together.
Once we arrived in D.C., we found a place to crash with some "hippies."  I went into the kitchen to see if there was any food for our dinner.  The counters were brown.  Then I saw them moving; they were covered with cockroaches.  Some of us found a supermarket where we got bleach, bug killer sprays and enough food to make a 5 gallon pot of beef stew.  There was a big pot and once we got things clean and the food cooking, the da** roaches couldn't crawl up the side or under the lid. The Army (illegal) was bombing DuPont Circle where a lot a kids were protesting against DuPont, the seller to the government of napalm, which is a gelled gasoline product used to burn people alive and wipe out their entire villages.  They were bombing us with tear gas canisters and the night city lights revealed the dense tear gas fog.  I grabbed my camera stuff and jumped on the back of someone's motorcycle to flee from the chocking gas.  The next day, 100,000's gathered around the Washington Monument for peaceful demonstrations.  I have no idea where all my film ended up-probably taken and classified as top secret and buried in a filing cabinet somewhere.   Interesting side note.  There was an American flag which someone completely covered with "protest pins" or buttons-about the size of a merit badge.This was just plain wrong to me and I removed all of them and pinned them to my photographer's jacket-not enough room in the pockets.  It was time to go back to Erie, Pa. It was November and I was hired to work the Christmas season in Grant's department store-their photo center.  So I put on my nice Eagle brand trench coat, over my coat with all the pins.  I saw my future wife sitting in one of the restaurant booths and sat down across from her, Opened my trench coat and her jaw dropped.  The only pin she saw for sure and which I gave her, said, "Frodo Lives." She was a die hard Lord of the Rings fan.  Never knew what happened to that pin, but about 40 years or more later, I hand made a duplicate-same colors, style.  Put it in a jewelry box, wrapped it up for a Christmas present.  She opened it, not knowing what to expect. Then she cried. I always have been a sentimental fool, just most don't know it or recognize it in me. Oh well, such is life-it is the small, important treasures that give life to the person we cherish and love.

time to leave

it's time to leave Brackenridge and move to Espyville Station, Pa. on Pymatuning lake. Pop. 220.  The gone post office was someone's sun porch. The word station was added because it was by railroad tracks.  Otherwise, we just called it Espyville.  Today, it is a part of Linesville, another pimple on the map.
But before leaving the "Valley," I had three friends that I would consider to be "close.  Terry Huet and his family moved into their grandfather's old framed house while they built a country home on 10 acre's.  I spent a couple overnight's in their new home; once in the summer and then to sled ride in the winter. I was absolutely amazed how many stars are visible minus city lights. Allen had a moth collection and they would turn a spotlight on out back at night to attract them.  I just could not believe how BIG a lunar moth is-about a 6" wing span with the ends shaped like comma's. Mr. Huet was a big brass for his company and weighed at least 280 lbs., compared to his 90 lb. wife.  When they (and we) moved, I never saw or spoke with Terry again.One quirk about the family: NO TV was allowed in the house or rock and roll music played.  Classical music was turned on at 6 Am and played non stop till bed time.  They moved out of state because his dad died in his 40's:( Our favorite activity was playing next door at the Thompson cement block company.  We would rearrange the blocks to make forts and also stack them behind the Legion as steps so we could go on the roof.  Why? to throw water balloons at the Bingo players as they left the building every Tuesday night. Then we would race to hide in our club house and no one thought to look inside because, after all, it was an old chicken coop.  Naturally, the cement company did not appreciate us rearranging their stacks of cement blocks and would put them back-which made us mad cause we would have to redo everything again and again.
Second friend-Oddie(sic) Meyers.  Never new his real first name. His dad was police chief and the second floor of his garage was a complete darkroom set up. His dad also died suddenly while in his prime and Oddie showed me how a darkroom works.  His mom became a barber, setup in the basement-also in the basement, in a 3' steel tub was a 3', 3 leg alligator which belonged to his younger brother, who could easily be on Animal Planet. The tub was covered with a sheet and if you lifted it up, the 'gator would loudly hiss at you, with breath that could wilt a flower.  It would always escape, nstinctively finding the river.  Some one would always bring it back because it was the only 3 legged alligator in town.  When he ordered a small monkey(ads were in all the comic books-19.95, mom had enough when it tore up the house Back then, there were no government programs to help single mom''s.  After the money collected during the funeral, she had to find a way to feed her kids. Back to the darkroom. When I saw my first photographs coming to life, I was hooked, and photography was a way of life for me. In college, I always wore a faded camel color sports-like jacket, and my 35mm camera was ALWAYS HUNG OVER MY LEFT SHOULDER.  I became the college photographer for public relations, the school newspaper and the yearbook.  I was the highest paid student employee.  The college provided everything, including the darkroom, and I was paid 1.00/picture, even if they only used 2 and I printed 50.  My second year, at Christmas break, I went home with more than 400 dollars-which in 1966, was a lot of money.  Of course it had other perks: I just showed my press pass and got into everything free-lectures, concerts, ball games And I did spend a lot of time beforehand learning my skill: I took a photography course from NYI-New York Institute of Photography, and my school gold and blue pin was always on my lapel. I built my own dark room at my parents house in the basement and subscribed to "Popular Photography" magazine since it had tons of ads of where to buy supplies.  Mom never liked the mag because at times it had photo's of girls who could be wearing more.  When I would come home from HS class and it arrived in the mail, she would inform me that my "slut' magazine came today.Back in the 60's/70's everything was done in black and white and the film had to go through a lengthy process, compared with the point and shoot camera's of today: take the picture, put the SD card in your computer, photo shop if necessary, and hit the "print" button.  I think I spent more time in the school's darkroom than the classrooms. I had several favorite photo's that I will relate later and also my last of three friends, Stephie Bednariak.  He lived about a half a block from St. Joe's, above the family grocery store.  He always smiled and made "shrines" of the Virgin Mary, putting the statue inside a decorated shoe box. The nuns had contests. He had a mental birth defect and 3 days after we moved to Pymatuning Lake, my mother came into the drive-in and said Aunt Margie just called and said Stevie died. Her next statement hurt me: "You don't want to go back for the funeral. do you?"  In other words. she needed me more to work and didn't want to be inconvenienced.  Yes, I did want to go back and say, "good-bye.' But I said nothing.  Years later his older sister would see me and I know she wondered why I was not there at the service. A quick side note: Granddad smoked non filtered, Camel brand cigarettes, which I mentioned before. He kept his carton of them in a metal drawer beneath the kitchen sink.  It was almost impossible to open that drawer without it's loud screech, waking the neighborhood.  But on a warm, dark evening, when granddad and grandma were in the living room, I would sneak in by opening the back, kitchen,  screen door.  With all the will at my command, I would manage to get the drawer open and "borrow" a pack of 20 cigarettes.  After accomplishing our sinful deed, we would run to the Tarentum stadium.  Terry would stand at one end and I the other, beneath the metal seats it total darkness.  WE WOULD THEN EACH SMOKE ten cigarettes each, one after the other, keeping far away from one another as not to have our clothes smell of smoke.  It's a wonder we didn't die of nicotine poison right then.  Next thing: chew a big wad of double-bubble chewing gum to freshen our breath.  Then, when it was soft enough(the stuff was always hard as a brick, we would rub it all over our face to eliminate any last trace of sin. Across the street was Sam Curusso's Pizza Shop.  Sam had a day job and sold pizza by the slice or by the pie in the evening's. His pizza sucked, but it did the job we wanted it to do Cost" 10 cents/ slice. We would both eat two slices and sprinkle hot peppers on top as an added assurance our folks could not tell what we just did. Burned like blazes, but it worked.  Sam was also a great chess player and would always set up a game as we ate-we never won. Sad ending-he died in his thirties. Probably from drinking Allegheny River water. Coming soon: the Master's of making candy, especially at Easter-a closely guarded skill they brought from Europe.  There is not a brand of candy made today that would equal it's texture, variety, and flavors.
PS-IT WAS NOT MY INTENTION TO OFFEND ANYONE WITH YESTERDAY'S ENTRY.  JUST FEELING "DOWN' AT NOT BEING ABLE TO SEE, WRITE, AND WORK. the BIGGEST PROBLEM, ACCORDING TO TO NEURO OPTHOMOLOGIST TODAY, IS I CAN'T GET MY EYES TO CONVERGE(WORK IN HARMONY. He said I probably had it all my life, but now it is getting worse.I want some new "genes." And the seconded biggest problem was a flat tire coming home on I-74 in the Van.  There goes $218.00 in a heartbeat.  A good Samaritan gave me a ride home as I stood there in braces, holding a cane.  She refused compensation and said, "just pass it on."-help someone I see who needs help.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


this is a departure from my normal memory trips that \\i hope will turn into some kind of family history.  I always wanted to go back with a video camera and mike and record everything; that didn't happen and now it won't.  I type with my right eye closed so I can see the keyboard and am grateful for spell check for sensing half of my mistakes,then I go back to find the one's I missed.  I am glad Alex has agreed to correct anything I missed, which seems to be a lot
It is my desire that ALL my family read this: it is important to me and I hope of some value to you.
I think every man wants to leave his 'mark' on the world or a legacy as not to be forgotten in a few weeks or a year after he departs this mortal existence.  I guess something where people would say, "let's erect a statute of him," so we always remember what he did for us.  I know that will not happen.  I have been thinking of my dad, and mom.  So many billions of us do the few simple things before we "leave.: We are born; mate live, trying to raise our children on the go, since they don't come with an owner's manual.  Then we die.  Worse: then in a little while, we are forgotten, except, maybe when it is time to check the grave for weeds and put out some plastic flowers, throwing the faded ones away. Dad was a robust man who thought nothing of cutting down and stacking 3-4 cords of firewood.  He had ONE joy in life: fishing for musky's.  I think that is the real reason for moving to Pymatuning Lake-the largest in the state, shaped like Africa, with an ear in Ohio.  When mom became helplessly sick, he became her caretaker: counting out her meds, taking her to the bathroom, fixing her meals and feeding her.  Several years ago, he told me he was afraid to go outside and cut the grass: she might fall and get hurt while he was doing so.  It was then that I realized that his fishing days were over, probably for at least 20 years or more.  He spent 64 days without ever leaving a hospital bed.  Rita, Tim's wife was his angel always making sure he was shaved and looking his best when they started radiation on his brain-which I knew that he would never again go home alive. He waited until everyone left the room before he departed. Just before, Rita kissed his cheek and said I love you Dad.  He briefly opened his eyes and uttered his final words: "I want to die!" This from a man who always said he would live to be a 100.
As I look over my own life, I thought I would always do something great or big.  At one time, during my college years I wanted to be a country music  entertainer and would visualize myself on stage.  I traded that for mom and you.  Even now, I have been playing my 42 year old guitar in the bedroom, composing music.  while in college, mom and others would sit around the living room of our apartment and listen and sometimes sing along; I loved to do, the TV doesn't even get turned off, so quietly I strum and hum the words in my mind in the bedroom for as long as my fingers can take it. Thanks grandma valencic for genetic arthritis!
Church:  Here is another place where I thought I could be considered worthy enough to be a Bishop or so, and use my organizational skills along with my speaking abilities and gift of discernment, to heal the ward, bring us ALL back into fellowship and then preach, not teach, this generation how critical it is to prepare our children and grandchildren to PREPARE.  That the coming devastation's will not slowly creep up on us but be there all at once-and we have to be ready and to know our brothers and sisters well enough to work together with them as a team to save our neighborhood's.  But I realize that my past sins, shortcoming's and sometimes the necessity to ask for church help put me out of the running. I guess I felt the Lord wasn't going to call on someone to manage  a ward if he couldn't manage his own home.  Just my believe.  Then again, it is almost a miracle for me to last through all three meetings. Right now, I am bracing myself up to see Adam and Meredeth's new baby and wondering how I will get to Utah when Amanda's child is born.  And although Kansas City is closer than Amarillo, it was a trip I just couldn't handle and I knew since Tom asked mom, in her stubbornness, she would do it alone, even if it did cost us $270.00 and she tends to fall asleep on long drives.. I wish my children would ask ME first instead of mom-so I could tell them what we are up against.  I was thinking tonight if Christ knows what it is like to be old since He left this world in His prime. Sure, He died for our sins and pains, but does He really know what it feels like to be old and hurt 24/7?  Or, since He is a God, He can imagine it. Right?
I guess when it is my time to leave, I want my grave marker to say more than: He was born; married and had children, then got weak and old and died.
Funny.  We seem to see things differently at 63 than 33 or so-when we were invincible and could do anything.
If I had a magic lamp with just one wish, it would be that all of our children come to church.  Just think of the simple logic: God is always the same. Has to be.  Since He is, then all church's would teach exactly the same thing about Him and the Lord's church and pure gospel would be just like He set it up when he was on earth.  Well, we know all church's teach all different things.  Therefore, they can't be true.  To paraphrase Isaiah, the great Old Testament prophet, he said it would get so bad in the last days(now) that the church would have to be restored, or in other words, start all over, fresh. Build and organize it just as Jesus Christ did.  And that is where we come in: the Church with the keys of priesthood authority, were restored through the Prophet, Joseph Smith.  Don't take my word for it but the challenge of the Book of Mormon(Moroni 10,3-4) Read the book-YOU. then you get on your knees and pray to God IN THE NAME OF HIS SON, JESUS CHRIST, IF IT IS TRUE OR NOT.  And the truthfulness will be made know unto you. It's just that simple and you just need the courage to do it and not listen to anybody's opinions. Forgive me for speaking boldly and with plainness; no matter what your choices, we'll always love you. Just because.It's getting late. time for some more pills and a few hours of sleep.  I see a neurophthalmologist in the morning so he can tell me why I am loosing my ability to see.I hope.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Kennywood is an amusement park located in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. The park first opened in 1898 as a "trolley park" at the end of the Monogahela Street Railway. The park was purchased in 1906 by F.W. Henninger and Andrew McSwigan and thus began the Kennywood Entertainment company that has remained a closely held family business for over 100 years. This traditional amusement park still has structures and rides dating back to its opening and the early 1900s. Along with Rye Playland Park, it is one of only two amusement parks listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
I tok this first part off the internet to show just how old kennywood is -PPG glass Co would hold a yearly company picnic there and supposedly our family went but I remember it not, just the trips by the school crossing guard kids and sometimes the boy scouts.  Then as a dad, I took my own family there except Ariana, who wasn't with us yet.  As a kid, all the roller coasters were made of wood framing and it was not till the 1990's that steel rail coasters appeared(now 3).  They still have the original merry go round and Noah's Ark which perched up high with mechanical animal heads bobbing from windows.  The ride sucked, but it still was a landmark,  Another neat thing was the placement of the Ferris wheel: as you got to the top you could see a giant clock with the day and date above-made entirely out of flowers except the clock hands.  The flowers were re dug everyday to change the date and day.
There was no easy way to get there from Brackenridge, but to go through a bunch of small towns and crossing 2 of Pittsburgh;s 3 rivers.  But, all along the way through the small towns were yellow arrows with black "Kenneywood Park" written on them, pointing the way.  Now, as you began crossing the Monongahela river, you first view is the steep incline and almost vertical descent of the park's first steely, the Phantom.  First drop over 85mph! I have never been on a steely-I love the creaking noises of the wooden coasters.  Besides, on a steely, you cannot see the tract either in front or on your sides.  On one trip to the Park, a lady was so scared, when the Phantom ride ended they had to break her fingers to get them off the holding bar.
One ride looked almost like a Ferris wheel on it''s side.  Everyone took their place inside the big circle ride.  It had a loose leather belt going across your midriff, which really offered no safety.  As it started going around, it went faster and gradually you were almost going around vertically. Centrifugal force was what held you in place.  Right before one of the patrol boys got on, he had 2 hot dogs and a bottle of chocolate soda pop.  I remember because he got sick on the ride and threw up.  his big problem: centrifugal force made his vomit come right back to his face-until the ride lowered and went slower, it ran down the front of him. It was really gross, but still kind of funny.
Anyway, the entire park has a family slow life to it, making it a relaxing fun day.The worst moment: taking Alex with me on the Thunderbolt, a woody. I told him it wasn't that bad.  well it was a lot faster and shakier than I remembered and Alex screamed at me from the first drop until the end.  Don't blame him.  At least it wasn't the Jackrabbit which has a double dip hill and you fly out of your seat about a foot.  real good idea to use the seat belt. The park has a center lake and a scaled down train that goes completely around the park, along with picnic shelters-bring your own lunch because even an empty glass for water cost the same as if it was a drink of lemonade-cups are counted and employees are accountable for their numbers.  Bottom line-i would never go to the Pittsburgh area and not visit Kennywood Park(during the season).  Next: Pig Island in the middle of the Allegheny River, about 7 miles from downtown Pittsburgh and home of Irish Brand Hams and bacon.  Along with Iron City Beer, Irish Brand is no more.

almost time

it's about time to leave the hills of Breckenridge and move on-but many things of our youth affect us for life.Grandma's house- to the right, the Messo's, Italian family moved in, just an ordinary blue collar gang, and of course, that big old house where I first lived up on the third floor and don't remember-except the cute 4 year old girl down below , who I had a crush on.
Mrs. Messso and a ladies group went to Kennywood park one day and they have a mechanical gypsy  woman in a glass booth, who, for a quarter would spit out card with your  fortune. Her card came out saying something  bad would happen today. She had a son, about 14 and a greaser, who went swimming with bunch  of his "tough" buddies above the dam. Johnny could not swim and when mom came home from Kennywood, she was informed he was dead-he drowned,  She went nuts with grief and swore never use that gypsy lady again. They dragged for his body by throwing a long rope with tri-hooks and caught him by his swim trunks below the dam. A very sad experience.  But the saddest was that the American Legion bought all the houses,  destroyed them all and made more parking paces for the members- to go in and booze it up since private clubs were exempt from the State's alcohol serving times.  Everything I cherished went-the homes, gardens and flower beds. Gotta make room for more drinkers, altho my dad and mom were members of the American Legion  all of their lives, yet neither drank alcoholic drinks.  The Legion was for fishing shows and to get ice in the ice chest when we went up north to fish.
Side Note" if your ever around Pittsburgh, two MUST VISIT places are Kennywood Park and the Carnegie-Melon Museum. They have the largest Real collection of dinosaur bones of any place. It will blow you away.  And so will Kennywood, the wooden roller coaster capital of the world, spotlessly clean and at least 60 years old.More about Kennywood later.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

the boat

I wish i could have this down in cronilogical order, but that is for someone else to do, if they wish.  I gave Alex permission to correct grammer since i have to type with my right eye closed.  I see a neoropthalmologist this week. I feel I am losing my vision
WHEN bILL AND i STARTRTED 7TH AND 8TH GRADE(darn caps key! dad said if we got good grades* he would give us our own row boat for the river; which he did and it not only opened up a new world, but made it easier to get to the other side of the river, instead of walking the 4 or more miles across the Tarentum bridge and down the cliffs.  I think we also had use of a small outboard motor for the boat to speed things up and we would go all the way to Brauburn beach by the dam where the water was fresh enough to swim in.  When we were younger, Uncle Lou would drive us down Brauburn Road and we would walk the tracks as he ran his hunting dog, "Voda," which means water in Slovak.  Stupid mutt would tear butt after a rabbit up the hillside, throught the sulfer sreams and come out smelling worse that a Beagle usually smells. Besides, now being orange and black.  And, of course Lou had his 22 pistol straped in his holster-snakes and snapping turtles. The only good thing a turle was useful was to make turtle soup because they ate tropthy fish eggs, like bass and musky's. We "disposed" of one snapper which was at least a 1' across. The top if their mouth was like a beak and they could bite your finger in two before knew it.  Sometimes we carried my dad's old 16 gauge shot gun for the same reason or just for target practice.  Lou didn't marry untill in his 30's so when we were yonger he kinda adopted us and bougth us things and took us places.  Once he married, we were s.o.l since his attention went to where it rightly belonged-his wife
Did you ever put your finger under a upside down glass and lower it in sink water? comes out dry becuse the cup/glass forms an air pocket.  well some of us got the bright idea that if we cut out the bottom of a 5 gal. metal can, cut out and glued on a swim face mask, we could lower it over our head and walk on the river bottom. a gargden hose, attached to a hand pump in the boat would maintain pressue, whie giving us "fresh" air to breath.  We were not stupid: just inventive and crazy as could be.  I never went under because I almost drowned when I was about 9 years old at crooked creek state park beach.  It had crystal clear water until someone walked into the water-which had a layer of brown silt on the bottom.  There was probaably499 people in the water at the same time-and another 1000 on the sandy beach..  One time, mom had on a full size white swimsuit-she walked into the water, turned around and walked out wih a brown swim suit. Bill and I would smim out to our necks and throw a foot long stick about ten feet further(over our head), grab it, and swim back to where we  coud touch the river botom with our toes. Safe-I did not know how to swim.  I threw out my stick, not realizing that as I padled out, the stick went futher out.  Grabbbed it and swam back to safety. Wrong.  Bill couldn't help me and my parents kinda "froze" on their beach blanket with tim, who was a baby at the time.  I was screaming for help and i went under the third and I was sure, the last time.  Out of nowher, a man grabbed me, tucked me under his arm and knew exactly where my parents blanket was at on the beach. I NEVER SAW HIS FACE AND HE JUST VANISHED IN THE THRONGS OF PEOPLE ON THE BEACH, NEVER SAYING A WORD.
I thought of this incident after joining the true church of Jesus Christ,  and I swear it must have been one of the Three Nephites-or at least my Guardian Angel.  To this very day, I am afraid to go in water over my head, unless I have the the security of some kind of personal floatation device.  A pool is not so bad because the depths are marked.  So don't laugh at me if we are swiming in a river or lake and egg me to go in over my head. I won't. *"A's" were next to impossible to get from one of the mean old nuns, most of who died when they reached the age of 100, but refused to fall down, so they just kept teaching and beating us when approapriate-which to them. was all the time, but i found all twelve of my mother 's report cards(She also went to St.Joseph and raising her sister and taking care of the house when her mother died when she was Ten. Her lowest grade was an "A" and I say lowest because most were "A+" Oh well, she could just out run them, right?
FYI: the "Bear" who was principal was actualy Sister Mary Dennis.  There goes that "Mary" thing again. She had to be 6'3" and weigh atleast 425 lbs-and a 150 lbs of that was just her chest-which her starched white bib convenietly covered. And a 100lbs for each bicep. She probably lifted weights and worked out by hitting a stuffed dummy swinging from a rope, with a steel pipe! Think I am aggerating?Just ask my brother Bill.  She could have won the Viet Nam War all by herself: when the Viet Cong saw her a coming, they would run like hell into China to hide. And surrender.

rich and smelly

First, my parent's BR. on the 2nd floor, faced the river and there was a place to sit and look out, almost like a bay window. I was about 5-b.s.(before school, anyway) and would go in their room during the day because they had a clock radio about 8" x 12" and it just amazed me the sounds that came from it; I pretended their were "little people" inside giving the news and making the music, were inside.  Quite a few for a full piece orchestra!  Then one day, and I don't know what  it was about, my folks had quite a violent or heated argument. My dad yanked the radio from the wall, smashed it to pieces, then threw it in the trash.  There was NO music from the outside world coming into our house until about 1966, when we were living @ Pymatuning Lake.  They bought one of those 6' long combo's-TV(color never worked quite right), with a 78 RPM record player on the top left and an AM/FM radio in the right;speakers(stereo) were underneath.  Anyway, "Puff," the over priced Persian cat came in the room.  Previously, my dad bough mom a bottle of expensive perfume-about$25.00/half ounce.  I thought Puff could smell better and i shook the entire bottle out on him NO ONE was happy with me, especially the cat.  To Bad.  We had one other Persian cat named Chi Chi (don't ask), that was a pig, never cleaning itself off or any other kind of grooming.  He disappeared to somewhere. Side Note: the cats were purchased from a breeder in Blanox(along route 28 towards Pittsburgh. Besides her house, she had a large heated garage with about 75 cages with cats in them. The place smelled worse than a pit style outhouse at a State Park, with about 150 championship bloodline cats all total.  The first cat she showed my dad was her pride and joy: a Manx cat which was multi-shades of brown and they have no tail!
My dad, not one for words, told her it looked like a rat(it did, just a little bigger-and the "Butcher's Wife," got it besides the three blind mice!

Friday, January 21, 2011

"R" rated fish

Cherry street seems to be the dividing line between Brackenridge and Tarentum-it end at River Road and then there is the parks.  If you keep on walking past the park, you will fall down a small mud/hill that meets  the Allegheny River.  There is also a concrete faced drain for "rain" runoff water from the streets.  The drain hole is about 4' in diameter and it goes to the river with sloping cement sides set at an angle.  Usually the water is only about 6" deep and 2' wide-unless there is a good rain, then all the street water is channeled to the drain-and they didn't make it 4' in diameter for a reason!  And that reason is for us kids to straddle the water and see how far we can walk up the drain-about 8-9 blocks was my limit.  You could hear traffic above as you passed under a manhole cover.  Yes, we had flashlights, and sometimes a kerosene or Coleman gas lantern: which was insane, because there was more than rain water, that is, of course, if no one lifted off a manhole cover and took a dump. And the stuff dumps are made off produce methane gas as a byproduct-which means a light producing a flame could have sent us into the next world, or at least through a manhole cover, if we were lucky. Scene: the funeral home.  "And just how did your boy die?  A turd got him while the jerk used fire to crawl through the sewer system.  Ka-boom!.  Which is why we yell at our kids when they do something dangerous: like use the stairs or get into a car, sit down or go to sleep:)  Anyway, the town's home's had to be connected as a relief when the sewer plant couldn't handle the load, and those turds would float between our old sneaker's as we straddled the sewer.  Told you this was going to be adult rated.  Below the Lock and dam, there were no game fish and the bottom feeders like carp and low level scavenger's-opp! I was thinking of lawyer's when I meant catfish, were so toxic from industrial waste being dumped in the water, they were poison. I don't know how the folks on "4th Avenue" ate them unless the hot grease absorbed the pollutants. There was a third kind of fish, which usually stayed on top of the water, and occasionally, we would snag one with our fishing line-which meant we had to cut it off and loose a hook, because we were not about to touch them.  We called them, "Allegheny Whitefish."  They floated out of the sewers and they were discarded, used, condoms.  When some yelled out they caught a "White Fish," no explaining was needed:  everyone of us kids new the meaning.  We just couldn't figure out how they got in a rain water sewer! Side Note:  when you got so far up in the 4' sewer pipe you could not hear if it was raining outside:  until all of a sudden you seen this wall of water come at you and and you ran like h*** to outrun it before you got washed into the river!  Did our parents know what we were doing? Of course not, just like we did not know most of the time what our kids were doing growing up.  At least they didn't live on the river and go into sewer pipes! Another, "why are we still alive?":  Bill and I were in our grandparents basement, filling a kerosene lantern, probably to go sewering, when granddad came down the steps-he probably wanted to know where the smell of gasoline was coming from-that's right, Bill filled the KEROSENE lantern with gasoline and was trying to light the wick.  He(Frana-Slovene for Frank), was not a happy camper,or use bad word's like, "gosh," darn," as not only would we blow ourselves up but probably burn down his house.  If anyone says there is no such thing as Guardian Angels, we proved time and time again that there existence is real with the stupid a** things we did as kids.  Hey! How else to learn, but to kill yourselves a few times? Next the clock radio and the $100/oz smelling "Puff," and the 1921 Silver dollar rip-off for a quart of perfume for mom when she was in the hospital after giving birth to Tim. The hospital staff probably haz-med it by pouring it in the sewer lines to kill the "Allegheny White Fish."  Some of them even had "noses," so you know they were alive at one time, before they drowned-the only fish of record to drown in water! My families always taqxidermed their record fish by mounting them on a nicely cut board, with the the stats on a gold plate under it. I should have done that to one of our record breaking catches of Allegheny White Fish!I suppose that woulde be stretching the truth somewhat......