Showing posts with label INNER. Show all posts
Showing posts with label INNER. Show all posts


A Game Of Golf With My Dad

I woke this morning to several inches of snow on the ground. One of my first thoughts was about my father who passed away four years ago today. My next thought was the time Dad challenged me to a round of golf at Mill Creek Park golf course. Dad was an avid golfer who's skill was at a level of a scratch. (A scratch golfer always shoots around par or better) My level was, well, let's just say that I get my moneys worth.

In an attempt to lesson my beating I accepted his challenge but changed the terms of the game. Instead of playing the long hole course which was close to professional level play, I suggested the Mill Creek park short hole course. My long ball is horrendous and unpredictable. Once one shot went awry and targeted the parking lot. Another time I drove it deep into the park woods. Even another time my ball smacked into a tree and came careening back towards me. I instinctively put my hand out and caught the ball, dropped it back on the grass and took another swing. Yes, my long ball was that bad.

My Dad agreed to the terms and we got in the car and went to the park. I parked the car and opened the trunk for Dad to get his clubs. i didn't have clubs, I just rented the clubs at the sign up area. For short holes, you only needed a putter, a nine iron, and 7 iron. My Dad only selected his putter from his golf bag. I asked why only the putter. he replied that was all he needed to beat me.

We paid for 18 holes and I selected my clubs and the cashier asked my Dad if he needed any clubs. My Dad replied, nope, my putter will do. The cashier looked at him quite peculiar like and replied thank you back to him.

On the first hole Dad allowed me to go first. I used my 9 iron for the 90 yard or so hole. My swing was true and the ball stopped rolling about 20-25 feet from the pin. I smugly looked at Dad and said to beat that. Dad slowly walked to the tee, placed the ball on the grass, looked over at me and back to the back and swung away. The ball whizzed down the fairway barely traveling more than an inch or two above the grass. (I think I actually heard the whizzing of the ball) Several seconds later, the ball stopped about two feet from the pin. Dad just looked my way and began walking toward the pin.

It took me three putts to get the ball to drop while Dad tapped his in with one putt. Score for the first hole, Me a four, one over par, and Dad a two, one under par. For the rest of the game, Dad beat me at every hole. With. Only. His. Putter.

That was a long time ago but I still remember Dads smile, his laugh, his feel for the game, his zest for life. Dad said the key to golf was to have fun but play within your abilities. He also said that about life as well. I listened.

Rest In Peace Dad.




Boots Bell - Video Killed The Radio Star

And now we meet in an abandoned studio.
We hear the playback and it seems so long ago.
And you remember how the jingles used to go.
Video killed the radio star.

The Buggles had the pleasure of being the first rock band with the very first MTV music video airing August 1st, 1981. (30 years ago today) With that video, it ushered in a new culture of music, a new British invasion, and FM radio was on it’s last legs. Today, in 2011, just try to view a music video on MTV. They don’t show them anymore. The technology and viewing pattern has again changed. MTV has become reality TV. Sad, very sad.

Nowadays, with the CD player, MP3 player, On-board MyGig systems, Jump drives, streaming audio and video, and Youtube, is it any wonder that the FM radio disc jockey is almost extinct. Does anyone really listen to the radio anymore? To Kasy Kassems weekly top 40 hits? Does anyone out there know what I'm talking about?

In the 1960′s and 70′s, in my home town of Boardman, Ohio, the cool music was played on W.H.O.T. 1330 AM radio and later switched to FM in the 1970′s. Boots Bell was one of the highest profile disc jockeys in the area. He was one of the "Good Guys" on the air at W.H.O.T. The rest of the good guys were, George Barry, Smoochie Causey, Johnny Kay, Dick Thompson, and Jerry Starr.

Each DJ, (Disc jockey) had their own style and tag lines and we would tune in to not only listen to the records they would spin, but also the one liners and jargon from the DJ's. One of Boots Bells tag lines were, "Yes indeedy doody daddy."

Every week at the record store, Yes, back then people would actually go to a record store and buy their favorite 45's and albums. At the check out counter would be the W.H.O.T. Fabulous 50 Tunedex hits of the week. The only complete, accurate, and official music survey in the Youngstown, Ohio area. The list on the left is for the week of July 26th, 1965.

As only befitting, thirty years ago today, video killed the radio star. Five years ago, Youtube and Reality TV killed the video star.
You can click on the picture on the left to enlarge so you can read the top 50 tunes, or just keep reading below if your browser doesn't re-size or if you are to numbed from watching all the Teen Mom and Jersey Shore reality programs.

Top 50 From July 26, 1965
1. I’m Henry The 8th I Am – Herman’s Hermits
2. What’s New Pussycat – Tom Jones
3. Hold Me Thrill Me – Mel Carter
4. I Like It Like That – Dave Clark Five
5. Marie – The Bachelors
6. Satisfaction – Rolling Stones
7. Cara Mia – Jay & The Americans
8. Easy Question – Elvis Presley
9. All I Want To Do – The Byrds/Cher
10. Theme From A “Summer Place” – Lettermen
11. Sunshine Lollipops & Rainbows – Leslie Gore
12. Around The Corner – The Duprees
13. Seventh Son – Johnny Rivers
14. Don’t Just Stand There – Patty Duke
15. Save Your Heart For Me – Gary Lewis
16. Baby I’m Yours – Barbara Lewis
17. World Needs Love – Jackie De Shannon
18. I Want Candy – The Strangeloves
19. Sittin’ In The Park – Billy Stewart
20. You Turn Me On – Ian Whitcomb
21. Down In The Boondocks – Billy Joe Royal
22. Take Me Back – Little Anthony
23. Yes I’m Ready – Barbara Mason
24. Too Many Rivers – Brenda Lee
25. Unchained Melody – Righteous Brothers
26. Ride Your Pony – Lee Dorsey
27. Pretty Little Baby – Marvin Gaye
28. One Dyin’/It Happened That Way – Roger Miller
29. To Know You Is To Love You – Peter & Gordon
30. Moon Over Naples – Bert Kaempfert
31. Poppa’s Got A Brand New Bag – James Brown
32. You’re My Girl – Roy Orbison
33. You Better Come Home – Petula Clark
34. I’ll Always Love You – The Spinners
35. California Girls – Beach Boys
36. The Tracker – Sir Douglas Quintet
37. Same Old Song – Four Tops
38. You Tell Me Why – Beau Brummels
39. Gonna Take A Miracle – Royalettes
40. He’s Got No Love – The Searchers
41. Tracks Of My Tears – The Miracles
42. I’m A Fool – Dino, Desi & Billy
43. I Got You Babe – Sonny & Cher
44. The Loser – The Skyliners
45. Here I Am – Dionne Warwick
46. A Little You – Freddie & Dreamers
47. Ju Ju Hand – Sam The Sham
48. You’re My Baby – The Vacels
49. A Little Lovin’ – Dwain Story
50. Thru The Eyes Of Love – Gene Pitney



Shot Of Vodka At Age 6

Way back in the 1960's when I was a lad, my parents used to bring all the kids, (There were 7 of us, me being the youngest) to grandma's house for a visit. Actually, it was more of a drop-off now, Mom and Dad would stay for a minute and then off to go shopping or some other important business matters. (Like go and make more kids) (Not a lot of private time in a house full of 7 kids)

Anyway, my grandmother Veronica was from Ireland, (Both sets of grandparents were from Ireland but that's not the point here) and every Saturday she would prepare us traditional Irish meals for dinner. Now I'm sure grandma was an excellent cook, however, I was not accustomed to such cuisine. I was more of a meat and potatoes kind of kid. Blood pie (Yes, sounds exactly as terrible as you think) was not my cup of tea. Even her dog, Chrissy, wouldn't eat the food I attempted to sneak to him from the table without grandma looking. Forced, I would eat as much as I could and move on to playing in the basement of grandma Veronica's house.

The basement was my haven. Grandma had it decorated like an old-time Western saloon. Veronica called it a Pub, but I thought it was a saloon. Irish, American, Pub, Saloon, same thing. It had swinging doors, a full bar, counter, bar stools, and just about every kind of bottle of alcohol you could imagine. (Grandma Veronica was a heavy drinker and smoker)

The basement was also the place grandma read her magazines and made her phone calls to the local radio talk show host to set them right in their opinions. Veronica would always have a glass of something by her side all the time.

That one afternoon, after playing hard, I was sweaty and thirsty. I saw grandma's mini glasses (Shot glasses) on the bar counter filled and asked her if I could have some for I had a powerful thirst going on. I assumed the liquid was 7-Up or some other clear soda pop. Grandma looked up and sternly told me that I could not, that the drink was for adults, not children.

I pressed harder. (Pretty please grandma thirty times in a row usually did the trick) After the 30th time, Veronica acquiesced and told me I could have one with one condition. Being thirsty I immediately agreed. Veronica poured me a drink from a clear bottle and then told me to drink it all as fast as I could, all in one gulp. (That's how the grown up people drink it)

I grabbed the double shot glass and in one quick motion, gulped the drink down. Damn! It tasted like gasoline. Approximately three seconds later my tongue was on fire. The flames quickly spread to my mouth, teeth, throat, and then to my stomach. If it were possible, my ears would have been letting off steam from the heat my body was producing. I started running around in circles screaming and yelling hoping that somehow the flames would subside. They did not. (I seriously felt like my hair was on fire)

Veronica calmly walked over to where I was doing my little Indian dance and gave me a cookie and told me to eat it. I was skeptical of the cookie for the last thing grandma gave me set me on fire. However, Veronica insisted. I ate the cookie. Grandma then told me to get a drink from the water faucet. I think I had two gallons.

After I calmed down, Veronica told me about alcohol, and that only adults were allowed to drink it. She also told me that from that day forward, any time I had the urge to drink alcohol again, I would remember this day and how it tasted.

And grandma was right. I still recall that taste. That is one of the main reasons why I do not drink at all. There, you have now met an Irishman that doesn't drink.
Alas, if only Veronica would have taught me the same lesson with blood pie.



Breakfast Of Champions

I was talking to my friend Dave the other day and the topic of eating ants came up. (Dave is a former Special Black Ops Officer so many a bizarre topics come up in discussion) He said that on one of his missions he had no food provisions and he needed to look for alternative sources. He found an ant hill, stuck his finger in the hole and swirled it around until the ants attached themselves to his finger. He then quickly pulled his finger out and ate them. He said he would still be hungry but the protein in the ants kept him going.

Now I'm no Special Ops soldier but I did eat bugs once. A while back I was having breakfast at our old house. I found a box of Mini Wheats and broke out the bowl, spoon, and milk. I poured the milk and went to town on the Mini Wheats. I was very hungry.

About halfway through the bowl, I noticed that my cereal was moving ever so slightly. Upon further inspection, there were hundreds of tiny black bugs infested in the Mini wheats. And I just ate half of them. Did I mention there were hundreds of bugs.

Faster than any Olympic sprinter (Or Michael Phelps swimming towards a Ding Dong) I raced to the bathroom to puke up the nasty bugs. I barely made it throwing up my breakfast of Mini Wheats and hundreds of little black bugs into the toilet. I felt better straight away.

After a few minutes of dry heaving, I came out of the bathroom and immediately took the box of cereal outside and freed the rest of the black bugs left in the cereal box in the back yard. (I should have set the bastards on fire for ruining my breakfast)

Back inside, I called my sister Nancy who is a nurse and told her that I just ate a big box of bugs. She said why on earth would I do that. I told her I didn't eat them intentionally, they were in a bad box of cereal. I asked if the bugs would make me sick and if I should have my stomach pumped or anything.

Nancy told me, "Whatever you do, don't throw up! The bugs will latch themselves to your throat and pinch at your flesh." GOD DAMMIT! Now I was in a panic. I told Nancy it was to late, I already threw up most of the cereal, milk, and bugs. What was I supposed to do now?

Nancy told me to calm down. Eating bugs wasn't going to hurt me one single bit. Not even the large amount I ate. She said as soon as the bugs hit the digestive acids in my stomach they were dead and merely became food. Albeit not good tasting food, but food nonetheless. (I could hear in Nancy's voice her holding back her laughter) I thanked Nancy for the advice and hung up.

For a brief moment, I laughed at what I had just done, and what my sister told me not to do. Growing up with four older sisters and two older brothers should have prepared me for Nancy's advice. I was caught off guard. This time! In the future I will be set to Def Con 1.

BTW, I haven't eaten Mini Wheats since.



Like Pulling Teeth

I hate going to the dentist, but some times it is quite necessary. Like the time awhile back that my wisdom teeth were breaking through and i needed them removed. I made the appointment and went in for an exam to determine how the dentist was going to proceed. Dr. Frank, my dentist, after looking at my X-Ray reassured me that the procedure would be fairly simple. He prescribed some antibiotics to relieve the swelling and told me to come back on Saturday morning. So far so good.

Well, Saturday came and off I went. Actually my wife Patty drove me because Dr. Frank said I wouldn't be able to drive home that day. I walked in and the dental assistant came out and took me back to the office room almost immediately. Very good service.

Dr. Frank came in and told me that he was going to give me novacaine to deaden the pain and also laughing gas. He said he didn't want to put me under so I could communicate with him during the procedure if I felt to much pressure. He said that would lesson the swelling and pain during the recovery period. He injected the novacaine and said he would be back in a few minutes to allow the medicine to kick in. So far so good.

Dr. Frank returned, and began. The big bright light was turned on and he bent over and told me to open my mouth. He tested a few teeth asking me if it hurt. When I said it didn't, he proceeded. I felt some scraping and a little pressure and in about a minute, he showed me the first wisdom tooth extracted from my mouth. I thought this was going to be easy. A minute or so later, the second tooth was out. Halfway done in about five minutes. And then....

Dr. Frank then told me the first too teeth were the easy ones. The next two, however, were impacted. One on the top was coming in sideways and the one on the bottom was leaning forward. He said these two would be more difficult as he would have to do some cutting.

The next thing I heard was a loud "SNAP" inside my mouth. I could feel it shooting through my ears. I knew that was going to hurt later. Dr. Frank was breaking the tooth in pieces and extracting it piece by piece. He would cut a little and then "SNAP" and another piece would come out. He asked how I was doing and I gave him the thumbs up sign.

A half hour later and about twenty "SNAPS" Dr. Frank was stitching up my mouth and inserting gauze to stop the bleeding. He announced that I was done and for me to just lay back and rest and he would be back in a few minutes.

This wasn't so bad. I could feel pressure but no pain. Dr. Frank returned with his assistant and they helped me get up and I walked to a chair. I was a little woozy, but not bad. I heard him giving Patty and me instructions, plenty of rest, a painkiller prescription, no solid food, maybe some Jello or chicken soup, do not use a straw, no rinsing when brushing my teeth, just sort of let the water fall out. Standard procedure for recovery.

I made it the car and we went home. I made it upstairs and was very tired. Patty went to the drug store for my prescription while I laid down in bed. When she returned, she asked how I was feeling. I responded that I was feeling pretty good all things considered. She asked if I was hungry for the prescription said I should have something in my stomach before taking it. I said sure.

Patty made me some chicken soup. Not to hot, not to cold. Just perfect. I made my way to the kitchen table, sat down, took my spoon in my hand, smiled at Patty, and then passed out. My face fell right into the bowl of soup. Patty came rushing over and picked up my face asking if I was OK. I nodded yes, and Patty let go of my head. A second later, my face was back in the soup bowl. I was out cold.

Patty again picked my head out of th soup but this time I just hunched over and fell to the floor. Patty freaked out asking me if I was OK. I was totally incoherent. She said I was talking jibberish and couldn't get off the floor. She dragged me into the living room onto the carpet and got me a pillow for my head. She then called the doctor. Dr. Frank said this was normal, a reaction to the laughing gas and if she could get me in bed to rest.

Patty then got me a blanket, covered me, and sat with me for an hour watching me to make sure I was OK. In an hour, I was coherent enough to help her get me in bed. I slept the rest of the day and woke up Sunday afternoon. I was starving. This time, the chicken soup was pretty good.



General George Patton Photo-Op

My Dad was a World War II veteran serving as a Corporal in General George Patton’s 3rd Army, 249th Combat Engineers. Dad passed away one year ago today. R.I. P. Dad.

One of the pictures in Dad’s files was the one above. My Dad did not snap the picture, however he was there and saw almost this exact viewing angle. He wrote on the back of the photo the following…

March 25th, 1945. Nierstein, Germany, on the Rhine River. General George Patton stopped to inspect the Treadway bridge constructed by the 249th Combat Engineers. Patton is on the left raising the level of the Rhine River a little. (Patton is relieving himself over the side of the river)



Half A Century Old Today

Yes, that's me, just a couple of days ago, sitting on a tomb in the cemetery enjoying the uncharacteristically beautiful warm November weather. On my 50th birthday, I came to the realization that I have had gray hair for half of my life. Yes, I have been gray since I turned 25. (For those of you not doing the math) I also realized that I have been married for half of my life.

To be honest, I am the luckiest guy in the world. (I know that sounds cliché, but in my case, it's totally accurate) My wife Patty is my soul mate and the most wonderful and beautiful woman I could ever imagine. (And I had a thing for super model Christy Brinkley!)

My son Patrick and I were talking just the other day and the topic moved to what life was like back when I was a child. (You know, in the Dark ages!) (Patrick is a hell of a son. He has his grandfather Jacks work ethic. He has a big heart and I am very proud of him.)

I replied: Before I was gray, I jumped roof to roof from neighborhood houses. I climbed flag poles just to reach the top. I hitched rides on trains just to see where they were going. I would play baseball, football, and basketball all day and capture the flag and flashlight tag at night. I would ride my bike to Idora Park and ride the Wild Cat roller coaster.

Before I was gray, telephones had rotary dials. And were connected to a phone cable. Entering area codes were only necessary when dialing long distance. Prefix numbers, (The first three digits of your phone number) didn't need to be dialed either, you merely told the operator that was on the line that you wanted Riverside and the last four digits of the number and the operator would connect you. Cell phones were only worn by Dick Tracy.

Before I was gray, Television pictures were black and white. Only the rich had color pictures. Televisions only had three channels. ABC, CBS, and NBC. Those were the only letters you needed to know. Televisions had names like Admiral, Curtis-Mathis, Motorola, Philco, Zenith, Sylvania, Westinghouse, and RCA. The remote control was the youngest child. VCR's were science fiction. Imagine being able to watch Gun Smoke any time you wanted to. Television broadcasts usually signed off the air after the 11 O'clock news with a somber rendition of God Bless America. Johnny Carson was the king of late night. Nothing better than Ed Ames and the Tomahawk incident. Google it.

Before I was gray, the Internet was a misspelling for Interstate. Computers were as big as houses. Floppies were girls not wearing their bra's. Surfing involved water, waves, and a flat board resembling an ironing board. You had to go to the public library for research. Porn came in magazines, from seedy side stores and sold by a cigar smoking man in a ripped dirty t-shirt. National Geographic magazine was always the fall back source for porn. You were grateful to see a glimpse of Playmates nether regions, but only from afar.

Before I was gray, the British invaded the United States and Americans loved it. The Beatles stormed the country rising to the top of Billboards top 40 chart. We bought single 45 records and rarely listened to the "B" side. The record covers were pieces of art work. With lyrics enclosed. The 8-Track player was all the rage. We knew when playing certain Beatle songs backwards special messages and clues could be heard. "I'm buried" was one of them.

I was born in 1959, right before the Kennedy administration came into power. The population of the world has more than doubled since I was born. Minimum wage was $1 dollar an hour. Nixon was Vice President. There were only 48 states. Alaska and Hawaii joined later in the year. Stamps cost 4 cents.

On the tube, Bonanza debuted, in living color. Rod Serlings science fiction series, The Twilight Zone scared the Hell out of viewers.

Pornography entered the mainstream of society as Playboy was first published with blond bombshell actress Marilyn Monroe as the first centerfold.

Speaking of porn, the Barbie doll was introduced in 1959. And remember the Frisbee? Introduced in 1959 by Wham-O. (Wake me up before you go go!!!)

Turning to sports, The Dodgers won the World Series and the Baltimore Colts the National Football Championship.

At the movies, Gigi won best picture of 1959. Tony Curtis won best actor.

February 2nd, 1959, was the day the music died. Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper, died in a plane crash after a concert.

Famous people born in 1959, other than me of course:

Linda Blair, The Exorcist star.

Keith Olbermann, broadcaster, They're not gonna get him.

Cris Collinsworth, Bengals receiver and broadcaster.

Lawrence taylor, linebacker from the Giants.

John McEnroe, Tennis ace.

Danny Bonaduce, Danny Partridge, from the TV series.

Jessica Hahn, political sex scandal queen.

Magic Johnson, NBA star for the Lakers.

Simon Cowell, American Idol judge.

Marie Osmond, half of Utah's first couple.

Royalty Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.

weird Al Yankovic. Musical artist mastering in parodies.

Mackenzie Phillips, famous for sleeping with her father.

Val Kilmer, Ice and Batman.

They say 50 is the new 40. I received my application for my AARP card in the mail the other day. WTF! However, I am 50 years old. Fifty years! It seems like only yesterday Patty and I were walking over the bridge in Mill Creek Park, the day I proposed to her, and she said yes. I am looking forward to the next 50 years. Please come back and visit me then and read my centennial post.

I'll leave you with a song written and performed by Robert Lamm from the band Chicago. Its titled, Beginnings. And that is what being 50 means to me. Only the beginning....

When I'm with you,
It doesn't matter where we are.
Or what we're doing,
I'm with you, that's all that matters.

Time passes much too quickly,
When we're together laughing.
I wish I could sing it to you, oh no,
I wish I could sing it to you.

Mostly I'm silent, mm-hm-hm-hm.. Silent,
Never think of the right words to say.
When I kiss you, I feel a thousand different feelings,
The color of chills all over my body, hey, hey, hey.

And when I feel them,
I quickly try to decide which one,
I should try to put into words,
Oh no, try to put into words.

Mostly I'm silent, Silent.

Only the beginning of what I want to feel forever,
Yeah, oh, oh, whoa,
Yes, only the beginning of what I want to feel forever,
Only the beginning, only just the start, yeah.
I've got to get you into my life mama,
I've got to get you next to me.
Only the beginning, only just the start,
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah...Mmm-hmmm...

Only the beginning...Only the beginning...



Release The Kracken

The Stink Bomb!
This particular brand of stink bomb doesn't do the word "Stink" justice. When you break the vial an unbearable stench fills the air in a matter of seconds and lingers for 20-30 minutes. To flee the vicinity is the only recourse to save yourself. Hence, the stink bomb is strictly forbidden at the secret lair of the Grassy Knoll Institute.

A little while ago one rocket scientist (Joe) had a pack of stink bombs on his desk. He was playfully threatening the other employees saying he was going to break one of those puppies open and throw it at random workers passing by unless someone went to get lunch for him for a change. (No one went for him)

After about 20 minutes of this, (Yes, we were all working really hard at the secret lair of the Grassy Knoll Institute that day) a very high level executive walked into Joe's office and grabbed one of the stink bombs and smashed it on Joe's desk and ran out laughing. Seconds later the stench wafted through the office and everyone was covering their nose and screaming. Big industrial fans were positioned to slowly pull the stench out of the office. (Joe decided to go to lunch. "Hey Joe, can you pick me up something since you're going to be out!")

A memo came out the next day banning stink bombs from the office forever. However, just the other day a certain Curator strategically placed a stink bomb under the toilet seat in the Men's room and then gingerly put the seat down. I then exited and waited for an unlucky victim.

Within minutes the Kracken (The stink bomb glass was broken releasing the vile liquid) was released and the bathroom filled up with the unbearable stench. Like a scene from the science fiction 1950's movie, "The Blob," people were running away from the bathroom and hallway seeking safety.

The next day yet another memo was issued stating, "We really mean it this time, no more stink bombs permitted at the secret lair of the Grassy Knoll Institute.

Business as usual. :D



M-80 And The Dare Devils Club

With the Fourth of July rapidly approaching, it is time to examine the uses of an illegal explosive commonly mistaken as a firework device. This device has several names but is widely known as the M-80. (M-80'a are also known as, Silver Salutes, Cherry Bombs, Pine Apples, Quarter sticks, M-100, M-1000, and blockbusters.)

Disclaimer: M-80's and other like items are dangerous illegal explosives that have been outlawed since 1966 for obvious safety reasons. M-80's and like items are very dangerous and should not be handled or used for any purpose. Especially like the ones listed below.

* Never, ever, ever, ever, light quarter sticks while driving your convertible at night in Mill Creek park casually tossing them up in the air. One can never really judge the wind resistance and velocity of the car and the gravity of said item. The results are an incessant ringing in your ear and a burned up and blown up back seat. (Try explaining that to your Father the next day)

* Never attempt this scenario: Pound a 3 inch PVC tube into the ground in the middle of the playground. Upon placing said tube, it is not wise to toss a lit M-80 into planted tube followed up quickly with a tennis ball. The results are always the same. Tennis ball in orbit.

* Something not to try at home or anywhere else for that matter is to hollow out a Cloud Penetrating missile and insert an M-80 into the payload section. The results are inconclusive, but with the displacement of the payload and the added extra weight, the missile never flies correctly leaving uncertainty where it will land. (Usually right on the roof of your convertible)

* FYI: A plate glass picture window cannot survive a blast from an M-80 taped to the center of said glass. Results can vary. The glass always smashes, but sometimes neighbors with shotguns begin pursuit.
(Sidenote: Shotgun blast noise ratio is equivalent to M-80 blast.)

* One thing you should never do is use a high powered slingshot to shoot M-80's at the local police station. Especially after calling in a bomb threat. However, it is rather comical seeing the heat (The cops) scramble out of the building after a perfect shot to said police building roof. (Sometimes, the slingshot misfires leaving the M-80 mere inches from your face and body that can cause severe damage)

* For Halloween, pumpkins and M-80's do not mix. Trust me. Stick to soaping windows and toilet papering houses instead. It doesn't matter how fast you can run, you cannot out run the debris of pumpkin guts.

* It is a well known fact that the percussion of an under water M-80 explosion will kill fish making them rise to the top of a lake. There used to be a little lake where the alleged Dare Devil's Club hideout was located. It was back in the woods off to the side of Forest Lawn Cemetery. At the weekly secret meetings M-80's would be lobbed into the lake. A muffled explosion would be heard as a spray of water would shoot up. Moments later, fish would rise to the top. (Sidenote: Said fish were sometimes cooked. The taste was utterly horrendous.) (Or so I'm told!)

M-80's are loud enough on their own. They do not need any assistance to boost their sound. With that in mind, one should not drop an M-80 into school yard pits, (The pits were located behind the school, attached to the school wall itself, and were 8-10 feet in depth and approximately 15 feet wide by 20 feet long.) If one were actually in said pit at time of detonation, they would be deaf for a minimum of three days.

WARNING: Smoking is hazardous to your health. Combining M-80's can be lethal. Although it sounds like a James Bond type maneuver, using a lit cigarette as a time delayed fuse doesn't always go as planned. (No Mister Bond, I expect you to die!) The rationale is shaky at best, but an M-80 wick would be inserted into a lit cigarette and then gingerly placed in the designated blast zone. Several minutes later, while everyone got to a safe distance, BOOM!, the M-80 would detonate. However, sometimes, police cars and other vehicles would stop over the blast zone.

None of what you just read should ever be copied or attempted. Serious injury or death can and may occur. The members of the Dare Devils Club were / are insane nut jobs. The Dare Devil's club may have been the prototype of the popular MTV program Jackass. Just more dumbass than jackass.

With that being said, my advice is to stay away from all illegal explosives. Shop at reputable fireworks outlets that have been serving the community for years. Do a search on Google for fireworks in your area. Make sure you read the warning labels on all fireworks items. Never mix alcohol and fireworks. Never let children light fireworks. Never carry fireworks around with you. Always have water handy in case of a fire. And for God's sake, please, never do any of the stupid ass things mentioned above.

May The Fourth Be With You!!!!



Battle With Satan

As a child, I had several recurring nightmares. One of them involved me coming face to face with the Devil. (Satan, Lucifer, Fallen Angel, Prince Of Darkness, Beelzebub, Mephistopheles) For years, I would have this same two dreams almost nightly.

The dream would always start the same way. I would be sleeping in bed, the lights are out, my other two brothers sleeping across the room. Suddenly, I would be awoken by a strange noise. In the dream, I would open my eyes and scan the dark room and not see anything except a faint red glowing in the corner by the window. I would let my eyes adjust to the darkness and then pull the covers off and get out of bed to investigate.

As I approached the window, I could smell brimstone. (Not sure how I knew what brimstone smelled like, but I did nonetheless) The red glowing became more intense. I glanced back at my two brothers and they were asleep. At that moment I knew something bad was going to happen, (My spider senses were tingling) (This was the late 1960's folks, Spiderman was popular back then) but for some reason, I kept going.

A few more feet and instantly a tall figure came into immediate focus. It was the classic depiction of the Devil himself. All in red, with horns coming out of his head, yellow glowing eyes, a goatee, animal hoofs for legs, a menacing face, sharp fangs for teeth, and a red cape. I was frozen, not in fear, but on what to do. I wouldn't have to wait long.

The Devil lunged at me, grabbed me in his arms and announced in a loud theatrical roar, "I have you now, and I'm taking you to hell with me!" A moment later, my brothers Jack and George were holding me and yelling at me to wake up. I had climbed up into the window and was apparently ready to jump out. George yanked me down and a minute or so later my senses came back to me and I knew where I was.

Mom and Dad came hustling up the stairs to see what all the commotion was about. Jack said I was gonna jump out the window. I really didn't want to tell Dad that the Devil was after me and wanted to take me to hell. A few minutes of questions and it was "Everyone back in bed" time.

For the next few years, this nightmare would replay three to four times a week. My parents, fearing that I would hurt myself, (Jump out the window) re-arranged the beds making mine farthest away from the window and Jack and George's in front of the window. (I would have to climb over George's bed to get to the window.
My sleepwalking and nightmare days had begun. It would last into my early teen years. Not just this particular nightmare, but a set of two that seemed to rotate like a bad movie of the week series. Columbo and McCloud. (I'm getting to that in a second)

I did notice something strange about this nightmare. After about a month of the exact same dream, somehow I understood that I was dreaming, and I knew what was going to happen next. I knew that I would see the Devil and that he would grab me and try to take me to hell. For quite some time, I played out this scenario in my sleep until one night, things changed.

Again, a noise woke me up and I saw the red glowing light. I got out of bed and walked over to the window. Again I saw the Devil but right before he grabbed me, I ducked and he missed. I then turned and ran. Out of the room and down the hallway. Then down the steps, across the landing, and down the rest of the steps with the Devil in hot pursuit. I made it to the front door and headed for open space, the playground behind my house.

Looking back, the Devil was in hot pursuit. Apparently having hoofs feet was an extreme advantage for him. A moment later, I spied my advantage. The jungle gym. The Devil was so big he wouldn't be able to fit inside but i could jump right in and keep the Devil at bay. I turned on the jets and made my way to the jungle gym.

The Devil was very close to me now, only a few feet away. He was just ready to grab me when I dove through the bars of the jungle gym. I made it! Safety! Or so I thought. As if by magic, the Devil squeezed himself inside the jungle gym. He came towards me and I began to run around the circle of the gym. Luckily there were four fireman's polls in the center that acted as a border against me and the fiery pits of Hell.

As stated earlier, the Devil was light on his hoofs, and he was gaining on me. He was so close I could feel his hot snotty breath on the back of my neck, the smell of his sweaty brimstone odor, and I could hear low guttural snarling.

I was getting tired at this time and every trip around the circle the Devil was gaining. It was inevitable, he was going to catch me. I didn't want to look back but like a bad movie, I had to. As I glanced back, The Devil was reached his arms out and grabbed me and shouted he was taking me to Hell.

And SNAP! I was awake. My brothers found me in the dining room running around the table. This new scenario would continue for months until one one night, I had had enough. While running from the devil once again, and knowing the results, I decided to stop. The dream started the same as always. Hearing a noise, seeing the glowing red light, seeing the Devil, ducking, running, him giving chase, the playground, the jungle gym, the running. But this time, instead of running in circles in the jungle gym, I stopped and turned around to face the Devil.

The Devil continued to run toward me snarling and growling but I stood my ground. A second later, right before he was going to grab me and take me to Hell, the Devil vanished into thin air. I had won. I faced my fear and I had won. I would have this nightmare only a few more times with the same results. Me winning the battle. The last time I had the nightmare, I stopped it right from the beginning. Instead of getting out of bed, I just rolled over and went back to sleep.

Now I had to work on my other nightmares.



Hey Donkey

Being a veteran of trade shows, I am quite familiar with the setup and mechanics of the ones I attend. Except for one show I was asked to attend and fill in for a colleague of mine.

Usually, I know what hall the show is located in and the name of the company I will be assisting, the personnel in the booth, and the booth row and booth number. That wasn't the case for this show.

All I knew is the that it was located in the Nashville convention center and I was to be there Friday and Saturday. I asked my colleague how was I going to find where I needed to go.

He said he knew the first name of the contact, (Mike) but not the company name he was exhibiting under because they went under several names. However, he said I wouldn't have any problem finding the booth. He said to walk into the show and listen for a man that sounded like Shrek!

Shrek! WTF? I asked, "That's it! That's how I'm supposed to find the booth? By listening for a man that sounded like the Disney cartoon character Shrek?" He assured me that I would have no problem.

My flight to Nashville was uneventful and I checked into my hotel and went to find Shrek in the convention center. Thankfully, this trade show was a small one, only about 300 vendors and about 600 booths lined up in 10 rows. (Some shows have thousands of vendors and thousands of booths)

I decided to start at the first row and work my way around the show. I walked up the aisle slowly listening to the people talking hoping to hone in on the Shrek voice. No luck in row one. None in row two or three either. As I turned the corner of row four, I heard a man talking very loud. With an accent. A Scottish accent. I heard him say, "Hey donkey, that's not where that goes." A few seconds later I came face to face with Shrek. He was talking up a storm and he sounded exactly like Shrek. And looked a lot like him as well. A blockhead, big ogre type shoulders, tall, round stick out ears, just sans the green coloring. Give him a club and he could double as Shrek.

I started laughing out loud. Shrek, (Mike) turned around and stopped what he was doing for a moment and sized me up. He then said, "Oh, look at the funny man. Who are you supposed to be?" I told him I was Patrick and was here to help him. He said, "Oh, that's just great!" I told him, "Just don't call me donkey there Shrek!"

My colleague forgot to tell me that Mike (Shrek) didn't like to be compared to the cartoon character. Mike clammed up for a moment, gave me one of those upset looks that Shrek did and folded his arms and just stared at me. I couldn't help it. I said, "Hey look, it's Cameron Diaz!" (Princess Fiona, Shrek's love interest) All weekend long I called him Shrek. After a while, he got used to it.



R.I.P. Dad - 1923-2008 - Press On

My Father passed away Monday, December 22nd, 2008 from a massive heart attack. Dad was 85 years old. Mere words cannot describe the man he was or how he influenced me, our family, and the many he helped along the way.

Dad was the youngest of 7 children. (Just like me) Dad was preceded in death by his son George, his sisters, Sadie, Helen, Mary, Libbs, Aida, and his brother George.

He leaves behind his wife (Delores) of almost 60 years. Next month is Dad and Mom's 60th wedding anniversary. Also, two sons, Jack, and Patrick, (Me) four daughters, Carol, Marilyn, Nancy, and Sally.

Dad was a World War II veteran serving in General George Patton's 3rd Army, 249th Combat Engineers. Dad saw action IN the Battle Of The Bulge, perhaps the bloodiest battle in the European Theater, the Rhine Crossing, and liberated several concentration camps.

Dad once told me that he and his unit would draw straws to see who drew first round to sweep for mines before the tanks would roll into new territory. That day it was Dad's turn to be first out. It was also a day that Patton was touring the unit which was very rare. When Patton learned what the men were doing, (Drawing straws) he immediately donned the mine sweeping gear and took first sweep.

Dad and Mom made sure the children were well traveled. By the time I was 15, I had visited all 48 continental states. Most of the vacations we went on was via the car. Nine people (Yes, 9, Mom, Dad, and the 7 children) in a station wagon driving from coast to coast. On one trip out West to California, we had been driving over 600 miles in one day already. Our destination was Flagstaff, Arizona for the evening. About ten minutes later, we saw a sign that said, FLAGSTAFF, 180 MILES.

All the kids moaned knowing we had another 3 hours in the car and pleaded for Dad to stop. But we all knew Dad's motto was to "Press On!" And press on we did. We made Flagstaff in under three hours. The next day, California.

Growing up, I butted heads with my father on plenty of occasions. We argued a lot. I felt I was right in my thoughts. Dad would always remind me to look at the big picture of life. Not just one moment in time. He explained that sometimes what may seem right and correct right now might not be the prudent course for the future. Dad was always right. It took many years to understand that his advice was always to benefit me in the long run. I find myself passing along the exact same advice and logic to my son. And at the age of 21, I believe he realizes my experience and advice benefits him.

Dad taught me to have faith, but not blindly believe. In both religion and politics. To love your family unconditionally, without exception. To help and offer charity, even when not asked. To respect the brave men and women in the military who have served and protected our country. To work hard, to know your job better than anyone else in the company. To listen what others have to say. To be a Vikings fan. To love God, pray hard. And to laugh out loud.

And he taught me to Press On.

An Irish Prayer
May those who love us, love us;
And those who don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
But if God doesn't turn their hearts,
May God turn their ankles.
So we'll know them by their limping.

Rest In Peace Father
Your Loving Son - Patrick



The Stove Was The Next To Go

In my last appliance update, our refrigerator went on the blink and we had it replaced after a bizarre install. I mentioned that the stove would probably be the next appliance to go on the blink.  Turns out I was right. The stove was the next appliance to die. Using my flawed logic that since Sheely's Appliance and Furniture did a good job with the fridge, they would also do the same with a stove. I was wrong!

The stove had died and would no longer be the hiding place for my wife's birthday and Christmas gifts. Patty always asked me where I hid her presents and I told her in a place she would never think to look. (SMACK! That was Patty giving me a love tap) We went to Sheely's the next day.

We walked straight to the oven section and browsed around a bit. A very pleasant saleswoman asked if we needed any assistance. We answered yes and asked her several questions. Being satisfied with the oven and the price, we bought it and made arrangements for delivery.

Sheely's was on time for the delivery and the set up began all right. The delivery men unhooked the old stove and took it out to the truck and wheeled in the new one. I noticed there was a big scratch and a dent on the top left side of the stove. Since it wouldn't be seen once installed, I let the installation continue after pointing it out.

In a few minutes the stove was in place. The new gas line connected and everything was ready to go. The delivery man told me he was going to run some tests to make sure everything was working properly. He turned on the right side burners and they clicked on and fired up. He then turned on the left side burners on. In a second, the burner blew up sending the top part of the burner into the air. Flames came out that reached the ceiling of my kitchen. The flames almost caught the delivery man on fire.

He quickly turned the burner off. He then said that it was normal for the stove to do that after installation. I asked if perhaps the dent had something to do with it, maybe damaging the burner. Coincidence that the right side worked but the left side blew up where the dent was.

He said no and began packing up getting ready to leave. I stopped him and told him I didn't want the stove. It was clearly defective, and a fire hazard. He said I had to take it up with the sales department. He said they would have a service technician out in a couple of days to adjust the burners.

WTF, its broke and a fire hazard, and they want me to keep it in my kitchen for a few more days, possibly with gas buildup or leaks and wait for a technician to tell me the obvious that it is broken. Perhaps they were going to wait until my kitchen launched into space.

After several minutes of heated exchange, he disconnected the stove and brought my old one back in and reconnected it back up.

I called customer service and told them to shove it up their ass and to cancel my credit card payment. Sheeley's really dropped the ball here. The customer service agent sounded like a mindless automaton repeating her well rehearsed line. "I'm sorry sir that you were not satisfied with your purchase at Sheely's. Is there anything else I can do for you?"

That same day I went to Best Buy. They had the exact same stove and as a bonus, it was $100 less than Sheely's. They even had free delivery and set up. They came out the next day, removed the old one, brought in the new one, set it up, (This one had no scratches or dents) connected the gas line, lined it up, and tested it. All the burners worked perfectly. The delivery men were very friendly, very professional, and installed the stove in no time.

I do not think I will be shopping Sheeley's anytime soon.



Idora Park Wildcat Roller Coaster

Idora Park - Wild Cat - Back Seat View

My family loves riding roller coasters. We have been on hundreds of them. From the modern steel coasters to the old fashioned rickety chain clanking wooden ones, we ride them all. However, Youngstown's Idora Park, home of the Wildcat, was one of my particular favorites.

Idora Park is now closed, a casualty of an arson fire back in 1984 that burned the Wildcat and a good portion of the midway. The park lay in disarray for years before it was completely bulldozed and now just a vacant field stands there. Here is a video I took of the park back in 1988, four years after it burned. Idora Park - 1988

My loving wife Patty and I frequented the park while we were dating and loved riding the Wildcat. (She also insisted on me riding the Ferris Wheel which I have a fear of, but it was love, and she asked me in a way I could not say no. Patty asked, "If you love me you would get on the Ferris Wheel with me." Needless to say, I was sicker than a dog when I got off and had to lay on a park bench for an hour before I felt better. BTW, that was the last time I was ever, or ever will be, on a Ferris wheel.) The Ferris Wheel spins in the wrong direction, but that is another story.

Back then, in the 70's and early 80's, the Wildcat was ranked as one of the best roller coasters in the world. In 1984, it was still ranked in the top ten. And for good reason. The Wildcat had killer hills, blinding speed, wicked curves, and a few dips that would lift you right out of the seat.

The Wildcat began like most coasters. Passengers loaded from a wooden platform. We would slide into the car, (Of course the back and front seats were coveted) strap on the leather seat belt, (Nowadays, coasters have restraints that snap down on your body so you cannot get out of the car but not the Wildcat, you could stand up and get out of the seat if you wanted. But who would be crazy enough to even think about getting out while the ride was in motion?) and wait for the operator to release the big wooden brake lever sending us off on a thrilling ride.

The coaster train would quickly move forward and dip down a slight hill into a dark tunnel. The wind rushing inside the tunnel was deafening along with all the girls screaming. The tunnel lasted about 15 seconds or so and when daylight appeared, we were at the foot of the first hill of the Wildcat.

Being a wooden coaster, the train glided up the hill just a tad and then locked itself onto the chain drive in the middle of the tracks. You could hear the chain attach itself to the train as it tugged and jerked us slowly up the hill smacking against the wood underneath. The chain would make clackity clack sounds and sometimes rise up and slam down in it's slot making it seem like the chain would snap. (It never did)

Once we peaked at about 85 feet at the top, the chain disengaged and the train would slowly coast around a large bend heading for the first hill. Everyone would look out over the park and point out where they parked their car and other places. The front seat was the best view while the back seat was the fastest ride. At this time, everyone who was fearless raised their hands over their heads preparing for the deep plunge.

In a heartbeat, the train plunged down the first hill with steel wheels screeching against uneven tracks smacking against its wooden frame. People screamed, yelled, swore, and laughed just to get them through the dip. The coaster would reach speeds of 65-70 miles per hour on this first hill. (Urban legend had it that the coaster would exceed 80 miles per hour at night time after it had just rained. Something about the water and cool night air making the wheels slide faster)

At the bottom of the hill was a little dip that would lift you right out of your seat. You would have a split second of the feeling of weightlessness. (When I was much younger, a friend of mine, Guy, and I rode the Wildcat. At the bottom of the hill, after the dip, he was so light, that the force was pushing him out of the car. I grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him back down.) I figured he owed me a sno-cone for saving his life.

Instantly, we were rushing up the second hill and then the wild fall down. Then the third hill. Then a wicked bend in the tracks forcing everyone to one side. Then a few dips lifting the riders off their asses and into the air. Then a vicious covered curve that would bring us speeding into the station for a safe landing.

The brake man would pull his levers and the coaster would stop. The people would jump out laughing and high fiving each other. (High Fiving - It was a 70's thing) The people in line would then take their turn and jump into their seats.

Getting back to who would be crazy enough to even think of standing up while the Wildcat was in motion. Well, let me tell you about my loving Dare Devil wife Patty. (You thought it would be me didn't you?) Patty used to work for Idora Park and the employee's would have a contest on who could start from the back of the coaster and make their way to the front seat of the coaster before it went down the first hill. Patty won the contest.

Patty was in the back seat, the coaster would start, and when it came out of the tunnel, she was three cars ahead. Going up the hill, she would jump another car ahead. At the top of the hill and rounding the bend, she made her way to the very front car just in time for it to plummet down the hill.

From that moment on, Patty was a bona fide member of the Dare Devils Club.



Fantasy Football League (GPFL)

The NFL regular season kicks off tonight as the Washington Redskins play the Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Millions of Fantasy Football leagues also kick off Thursday. For those that don't know what Fantasy Football is, in a nutshell, a group of friends get together, and by using the rosters of each NFL team, draft players at certain positions that they think will score the most points for the season. each week, the fantasy coaches submit a starting lineup and plays another coach. High score wins the game.

Sounds simple right? Well, actually, it was. I say was for many years back, around 1975, my brother George and I dreamed up our own type of fantasy football. No, our lineups weren't online, (The Internet wasn't around yet) nor did we have complete team lineups with stats from weeks and years past, nor backup or practice squad players. Hell, at the time, we only had access to two games on Sunday.

A Sunday ritual was George and me watching NFL football all day. He was a Browns fan, (I didn't hold that against him) and I of course a Viking fan. We were both very competitive brothers. We made wagers on many things, especially football. Parlay pick four and pick ten teams were played weekly. But we found something a little different. A little more personal. Something we could have bragging rights about.

We would not just bet on the game being played, but on the players individual performances and how many points each would score. The GPFL (George & Pat) Football League was formed.

We quickly came up with some easy rules to avoid any stats wars anomalies. The rules were as follows:
* A coin toss before each game determined who got to pick first.
* 8 positions would be selected.
* You had to pick one, and only one Quarterback, one Kicker, one Tight End, two running backs, two wide receivers, and one defense.
* A $2.50 wager per game was the fee to play. No mercy.
* A TD pass equaled 6 points.
* A TD run equaled 6 points.
* An interception, blocked kick or punt, or fumble return for a TD equaled 6 points.
* A safety equaled 2 points.
* A field goal equaled 3 points.
* An extra point equaled 1 point.
* This stands for all players. Example, if a running back throws a TD pass he is awarded 6 points. If your QB throws a TD pass to your receiver, you will 12 points, 6 points for the pass, and 6 points for the reception.
* After both games are played, (The 1pm and 4pm game) the coach with the highest combined score was declared the winner.
* In case of a tie, the coin flip at the beginning of the day determines the winner.

George and I would play weekly keeping a running win / loss record as well as stats for each game. Everything would be recorded in a spiral notebook pad.

As the weeks turned into years, George and I became very good at our game. We understood each other tendencies, who we would likely pick, stay away from, but most of all, we became Mel Kiper like experts. Not just for our own teams, but for every player in the NFL. We knew the best receivers on each team, what running back came in for goal line plays, what defense was the best, how quarterbacks reacted to other teams defenses, and how a team played in bad weather.

We weren't in it for the money. Remember, we were very competitive. If I won that week, I would always send my brother a letter. Inside the letter would be a picture cut out from the newspaper or magazine of one or more of his team members with either an arm or leg missing and I would add a funny caption or two. I loved to gloat and rub it in. And so did George. He would put signs in the front yard displaying his victory. Other times, he would have his friends call me on the phone claiming to be players on his team. They would say, "Truly the night of the Cardinals." (The Cardinals was the name of his team) At the most unsuspecting time, there would be a note hanging in the closet, taped to my steering wheel, in a cupboard door. You never knew where or when he would pull his prank.

As technology caught up in the 1980's, we added a third and then a fourth game to our mix. ESPN was our third game and Monday Night Football became our fourth game. Strategy became more intense, scores became higher, and the rivalry more intense. The rules remained the same however.

The 1990's saw real change to our league and the rules. We added more coaches, 10 of us in total, and we drafted like the NFL did. We had 15 rounds and after week one, we were able to add three more players to our roster. That would be determined by league record. Worst record picks first. If they deferred, second worse selected, and so on. The players we drafted before the season began were ours for keeps. The next year we would start with those same players making the draft an actual rookie draft and other players cut or waived from our coaches. The USA Today paper became our bible. Whatever the stats said we went with. If there was a typo, it was to bad, the bible was the final say. (Born again Christians must love fantasy football )

The Internet changed things once again. We noticed that many of our rules were the same rules as AOL's fantasy football and Yahoo and CBS sports line. Everything was automated. Scores would magically populate and wins and losses would tally each week. (Electronically they keep the baseball score - Sonny & Cher - The Beat Goes On) Even the gloating became electronic. We would now email our victory smack talk with the push of a few buttons.

My brother George passed away November 20th, 1997. I haven't played our game since. My heart just isn't in it. However, several times over the course of the last 10 years when the New York Yankee's (George's favorite baseball team) or his high school football team, (The Mooney Cardinals) won the World Series or State football Championship, I would stick a yard sign with the newspaper headlines of his teams success on his grave to remind me of the fun we had and that I still miss the hell out of him.

Truly, the night of the Cardinals.
R.I.P. Big George



Tale Of The Tape

In the 1970's and 80's, my brother George had a complete weight lifting gym in our basement. When I say complete, I mean all the machines and thousands of pounds of weights. There was even a name for the gym.
Geo's Gym.

The gym was open to all of our friends who wanted to lift weights. There were approximately 20 members who frequently came over several times per week. Most were just regular lifters, but a few were serious body builders.

One of the members was Phil, a school mate and friend for many years. He wanted to be the next Mr. Universe and started his training with a vengeance. Phil was dedicated and had a complete plan mapped out. He had wall graphs charting his weight gain and also his vital body measurements. Biceps, chest, waist, legs, and about 25 other body measurements.

George took notice of this and also of the tape measure Phil used and the frequency he measured. (Once a week, every Monday) George, being the prankster, had an idea and brought me and Hoover (Geo's Gym member) into the plan.

On Sunday, George took Phil's measuring tape and soaked it in hot water for an hour. Then he hung it over one of the pull up bars in the ceiling and tied several weight plates to it which would stretch the tape by about a half inch.

On Monday before Phil would arrive, George placed the tape back where Phil kept it. He and Hoover would then wait for Phil to measure his progress.

Phil began with his biceps and stopped and measured it again. In fact, he measured it three times. He had lost a half inch on his biceps. He then went to each body part measurement checking each several times.

When he was finished charting all the results, George asked how he did. Phil said he couldn't figure it out but he lost almost a half inch. George played along and asked to borrow Phil's tape to check his own measurements. He took the tape, flexed his arms and measured his bicep. Lying, He said he gained an 1/8th of an inch from last week. Hoover also said the same.

For about a month, George repeated the routine and Phil couldn't figure out what he was doing wrong. And then George changed directions. Instead of soaking the tape in hot water and hanging weights on it, George would soak the tape in cold water and then toss it in the clothes dryer for 20 minutes creating a shorter tape measure. About a half an inch. George then put the tape back and waited for Phil.

Come Monday, Phil began his measurement ritual. After the first measurement, he got all excited as he noticed a big jump in his bicep. When he was finished he told George that he had a break through in his training and that the results were significant. George continued this sequence for about a month.

George kept this up for more than six months, changing the tape making it shorter or longer on a whim all awhile Phil was oblivious to what was really happening.

Alas, all good gags come to an end. One Monday, Phil brought a new measuring tape and tossed out the old one. After he completed his measurements, Phil knew something was wrong. His chart zigzagged up and down each month and now his measurements were again completely different from last weeks. George decided to inform Phil what was happening and that he was being pranked.

George, Hoover, and myself were laughing hysterically as George explained how he would stretch the tape one week and shorten it the next and how Phil would get mad when the measurements were short and excited when they would get big. Phil took the news pretty good. Of course he had to. George was a beast and it was his gym.

Good times, good times.

R.I.P. Big G.



The School Yard

Over the past several years, I received numerous requests to post photo's of where I grew up. The pictures below are from my old neighborhood, the school yard, the birth of the Dare Devil's Club, many a fires, explosions, and other riotously funny antics. I grew up in the 60's and 70's and the lay of the land has changed over the past 40 years, but the key elements are still there. Enjoy the pictures. Make sure to click the thumb nail for a much larger picture.

01 The school yard. The old neighborhood. This is the drive way that led to the school. Plenty of black top for skate boards, bike riding, baskekball, tennis. This was a well traveled road as all the neighborhood kids knew this was the meeting place.

02 The hill. Way back when, the hill and the rest of the grass area was jungle like. Weeds and tree's 8-10 feet high with brush enough to hide. We had at least several forts at any given time. A perfect setting for kick the can, capture the flag, and cowboys and indians.

03 The school yard. As you can see, the school yard was huge. It housed 5 full sized baseball fields, a football field,  and plenty of open space. It was also advantageous when running from the police. We knew they wouldn't chase us. All we had to do was run into the field. We never got caught.

04 This is the playground  field right after it was cut by the tractor. It would only be cut several times a year. If you pile the dead dry grass into a huge pile, and light it on fire, airplanes can see it from the air. Not that I know this as first hand knowledge.

05 The black top walkway that went  fence to playground. I used to ride my mini-bike like a bat out of hell down that path into the playground to let it wind out on a long straight away. I can still feel the wind in my hair. (Which wasn't gray at that time contrary to popular belief)

06 This three sided enclosed porch was the place we we used to climb onto the roof. It was one of the easier access points to the roof. Once on the roof, there wasn't much to really do but to climb higher onto the gym roof. But it was there, so we did it.

07 One of the ditches behind the school. We used to climb down the three ditches and then light Sound Colorful Birds and wait for them to fly. (Sound Colorful Birds were small projectile firework items.) They hurt when they hit you and there was no escape.

08 The second ditch. This one had a window and a gas or water pipe running through it. The pipe made this ditch the easiest to climb in and out of. We used to walk across the red pipe as a test. We were not allowed to use our hands to steady ourselves. We fell in a lot.

09 The third ditch. This ditch had a side wall and window ledge that we used to climb in and out of. It's amazing that we never broke a single pane of glass while climbing in or out. We never knew what the ditches were actually used for. Still don't to this day.

10 These steps lead to the basement of the school. There were about forty steps. We used to ride our bikes down them to see if we could hang on and get to the bottom. Sometimes we didn't. And when we did, we would smash into the blue door at the bottom.

11 The back of the school showing the porch, the three ditches, and the basement steps. This was a well secluded area visible to very few. Only one access road that was off to the side. There was also a basketball court with a spotlight for night games.

12 Right up against the fence was where the Dare Devils Club apple tree stood. To be a member, you had to climb to the first branch, which was about 10 feet in the air, and jump. It was simple. Jump and you were in. Break a leg and you became the leader for the month.

13 The playground. These rides are more than 50 years old. We used to wax the sliding boards and watch unsuspecting kids smack their heads unprepared at the speed of the waxed up slide. You would actually hear the sound (Zing!) as the kids went down the slide.

14 Home Plate. There were 5 baseball fields complete with dirt infields and lined bases and several were always in use. I'm talking lined fields, clay infields, back stops, and a couple fields had home run fences. This beat up buried home plate is all that's left.

15 Long range view of the playground. At any given summer day, there would be at least 10-15 kids doing something at the playground. usually we were up to no good, but we were there. Nowadays, the playground is almost always empty.

16 The jungle gym. I had a dream once that the devil was chasing me around the jungle gym. He never caught me thank God.

17 My best friend Mark's old house. It's the one with the American flag painted on the garage.

18 Another view of the garage. Rocketeers forever Mark.

19 Meadowbrook Avenue entrance. There were several entrances to the school. This one was from the back and not visible from the main highway, Market street. So of course it was the most used entrance when we were up to no good.

20 Full view of the back of the school. This is the view from Meadowbrook street. The back of the school. Out of sight from the neighbors and Market street.

21 Raised blocks we used to climb on and try to knock the other kids off. We had some strong hands back in those days. We could hang on for a long time.

22 The school side view from a distance. Market street, the main road is in the distance. When I was a young lad, the grass area was covered with a thick brush of weeds, tree's, and jungle like greenery. Perfect for hiding.

23 The backside of the school. one complete lap was 3 tenths of a mile. We used to race our bikes around three times, or one mile. Sometimes we would have 30-40 bikes in the race. A lot of accidents on the corners, but that's racing. Admit it, you only watch NASCAR to see the crashes.

24 The many hiding places for bike ditch. The school provided many nooks and crannies, (Just like an English muffin) to hide in. There were plenty around the school.

25 Another view of the school yard. Again, all the grass land was covered in weeds back in the day. A jungle in our own back yard.

26 The race track. We used this strech of black top for bike racing. We would start at the top and pedal our bikes for all we we worth. We had speedometers on our bikes back then, and we exceeded 40 miles per hour. That was cooking.

27 Kindergarten class. This was my Kindergarten class. Mrs. Fisher was my teacher. The next year I was shipped off to Catholic school for eight years of mean old nuns hurling erasers at my head. Catholic education my ass!

28 The flag pole. I can still hear the sound the rope made as it swung in the way hitting against the side of the pole. Just last week they replaced the flag pole that was standing for over 50 years.

29 The grate. This was another ditch in the front of the school that had a covering. A loose flimsy covering. When you walked on it, it would creak and shake and shimmy. We used the grate as a test to show allegiance to the Dare Devil's club. Sort of like walking the plank to swear your loyalty. No one fell in, but it did cave in once when we tossed a building block in the center.

30 Side view of the school. This is the ledge we used to walk from one end to the next just to see if we could. Sometimes we made it, sometimes not. It would take an hour or two to complete the task.

31 Another view of the window ledge we walked as kids. In walking the ledge, we tried to knock each other off. It took a long time, but hell, we were kids, and we had nothing but time in the summer.

32 Basketball courts. There used to be two back boards and a lined court. There was almost always a game going on at one of the courts. Now, not even a back board remains.

33 The view to the street. Back in the day, the entire area was covered with heavy brush, almost jungle like where forts and numerous hiding places were made.

34 The black top. This is where we played kick ball and a form of soccer. This was also the site of many a bot made bike ramps and broken bones.

35 This is the school drive entrance. When we were little kids, when it rained really hard, the street would flood from water running down the drive. The water was running so fast, we were able to surf. We got our winter sleds, the round metal spinning plate ones, and used them as surf boards. We would start at the black sewer and surf as far as we could down the drive. Being from Ohio, none of us were very good at surfing so we rarely made it to the bottom but it was fun as hell.

This post dedicated to my best friend, Hippy Mark. Rocketeers for life my friend.



Today We Celebrate Our Independence

As the twilight of Independence Day rapidly approaches, it is our solemn duty and privilege to pay homage to all men and women who have given their lives paying the ultimate sacrifice defending our country and our freedom.

Tonight as we celebrate the Fourth of July remember the words so elegantly penned by Francis Scott Key during the defense of Fort Henry September 20th, 1814 .

“And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”

Before you begin to illuminate the skies this evening by launching volley after volley of pyrotechnic patriotism, pause a moment and reflect on the sacrifices incurred by our forefathers 228 years ago. Gaze upon the heavens in wonder as fireworks brilliantly and brashly shout out loud and clear that we the people stand united as a nation declaring in unison that America is the best damn nation the world has known.

Hug you wife, husband, son, and daughter. Yell out a hearty hello to your neighbors that have come forth from their homes this evening to watch the fireworks shows and to celebrate as an entire nation.

“O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”

God Bless America .