Sunday, August 31, 2014

Photo-of-the-Week #174 Home #5, John Alden Street, Clifton, New Jersey, June 2013

This is the fifth home my parents owned (and the 7th place that I know of that I lived in since my birth). We moved to this house during the summer of 1960. I was 15 years old and about to begin my sophomore year at Clifton High School. It was a corner lot and had almost no back yard, but ample property on the sides and front of the house.

Now to be more precise, as I recall the actual house, it was, I believe, green (I'm sure I have an old photo of the original house somewhere) and I believe the shutters were black. Also, not only was it not a Tudor styled house, but it did not have a second floor. In fact. of the six homes my parents owned, this is the only home to have been substantially modified from the original. This house is the house directly across the street and, although it has new windows and a few cosmetic treatments to the front of the house, it is essentially the identical house to what ours originally looked like except our garage was on the left side of the house.

There was one room over the garage that was intended to be the master bedroom and had its own bathroom. My father assigned that room to me so I could have my amateur radio station in my room instead of in a separate room in the basement as it was in Home #4 (that my father built especially to be my radio shack). So, next to the window and extending vertically above the roof was my all band vertical antenna. On the left side of the house, covered by tree foliage in this photo is where my 15 meter beam and my 2 meter beam, stacked one over the other, were mounted.

The garage housed my first car for the first three months I owned it, since I couldn't drive it without the drivers license I was about three months away from until I turned 17 and took the necessary driving tests. Once it had tags on it and I had a drivers license my 1956, bronze and cream, Plymouth Savoy, hardtop convertible was prominently parked in front of the house where the gray car is parked in the photo. My father still had my grandmother's 1952 Chevy coupe with the $29.95 Earl Scheib paint job.  It was named "The Ruptured Duck" and usually was parked right behind my car.

As always, my father had a porch added to the back of the house that he finished off and he added an ornamental rock wall in the living room, a beautiful recreation room, laundry room and workshop in the basement. On the right side of the house where you can see some ornamental shrubbery, was the location of our above ground swimming pool that provided many enjoyable summer events, family picnics and gatherings of friends. We lived in this house more years than any other house. I completed my three final years of high school and my first three years of college here, for a total of six years. We were here so long we actually got used to it and began calling it home.  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Photo-of-the-Week #173 Padre Island On An Overcast Day, Near Corpus Christi, Texas, September 2003

Just another day at the beach. This is a somewhat lonely section of the Padre Island National Seashore near Corpus Christi, Texas. There is something about an overcast day on the beach - with a lonely seagull. The weathered pilings just add to the starkness of this setting.

Padre Island is a beautiful beach on the Gulf coast of Texas. Campers can camp on the beach. It's a really nice place. I like the starkness of this photo. It's different from most seashore photos you see, though.

If you ever get down to the southern part of Texas, be sure to drive out on Padre Island. I find it a great place to hang out.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Photo-of-the-Week #172 The Great Hotdog Caper: Heid's of Liverpool, Liverpool, New York, June 2014

I know there are some readers out there who are saying - "Does he know how unhealthy hotdogs are?" Yep! I do. I have a long time friend who is a retired dietician. She practiced her profession for some 30 or 40 years. She never let an opportunity pass when we were gathered at a group picnic to make her pronouncement that hotdogs were "tubes of death." We respected her and loved her, but on this issue we humored her and went right ahead and scarfed down those "tubes of death" slathered in mustard, catsup, pickle relish, sauerkraut, minced onions, chili and melted cheese. Nary a one of us gave it a second thought - other than, perhaps, indulging in this delicacy might shorten our individual life spans by a minute or five. It was worth the sacrifice.

So, here we have a place appropriately named, Heid's of Liverpool in Liverpool, New York, a suburb of Syracuse, across from Onondaga Lake. Now, it's always been my belief that when you see people lined up outside the door of an eating establishment the food was either so bad the proprietors were giving away free money OR the food was so good, people came from miles around (in my case untold miles at any given time) to wait their turn to enjoy the tantalizing treats awaiting inside. I can't, honestly, say I've ever run into a place like this giving away free money.

Fortunately, I arrived a bit earlier and didn't have to wait in the outdoor line, but wait in a line, I did. The hotdogs are locally manufactured in Syracuse by a company that went by the name of Hofmann. It didn't matter what supermarket I went into, there were always huge display cases full of Hofmann's hotdogs. I like that. It really gives whatever the food is a localized "flavor," no pun intended. I was not disappointed. My friends, John and Pat, recommended I try Heid's. John and I attended grad school together at Syracuse U and he's an ordained minister, too, so I know they wouldn't steer me wrong. They didn't.

Here is my tasty treat laid out before me. Now, I should mention that the decor, was bright and cheery, not unlike a 50's or 60's style drive-in hot dog joint. It was clean and almost filled to capacity, however there was another large outdoor eating area just beyond where I was sitting and there were lots of families there. Like Rutt's Hut and Hiram's in New Jersey, both outdating Heid's by decades from what I could tell, part of the charm of Heid's was maintaining that vintage ambiance.

But, as the saying goes, "The proof is in the pudding," or in this case in the hot dogs. So, here they are in their glory. 

One is a chili-cheese dog with some chopped onions and the other is a mustard-sauerkraut dog with some chopped onions. The buns were different than in most hotdog places I've been to. They appeared to be white bread, sliced for the hotdog to be inserted. The hotdogs, of course, were from Hofmann. And, to top it off, we indulged in some French fries and a soft drink. This is NOT my normal kind of menu. I don't eat white bread, French fries are not health food by any stretch of the imagination and I don't indulge in soft drinks, preferring water or unsweet iced tea. But, THIS meal was part of my Great American Hotdog Caper and this is what's on the menu.

Let me just say, this meal, like the old Campbell Soup slogan, was "Mmm, Mmm Good!" It along with my other hotdog caper meals may cost me one final post to this blog since I won't live long enough to write it, but like I said, it was well worth it. So, anytime you happen to be in the Syracuse, New York area, make a little time to drive over to Liverpool and enjoy a trip back to the 50's/60's and indulge in some of the great food of Americana, Hofmann hot dogs from Heid's of Liverpool.    

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Photo-of-the-Week #171 Home Sweet Home, 123 Polk Street, Syracuse, New York, June 2014

Once before, in an earlier post, I mentioned a song we recorded in our Washington, DC studio in the mid '70's entitled, "Stranger in My Home Town." Well, even though I had only resided in Syracuse, New York for two years, from 1967-1969, it still felt, in a way, like a hometown to me. But, as I visited it in June of this year, I was that "stranger" from the song title.

The building in this photo is a studio apartment complex located at 123 Polk Street in the town of Dewitt, New York. Dewitt is a suburb bordering the Syracuse city limit. This very building, on the first floor, was one of the places I called "home, sweet home" for the last month or so I lived in Syracuse. It would be 45 years this month, August, since the last time I saw this building. This shocking relic is what remains.

Yes, it's a burned out, gutted and boarded up ruin. Actually, the entire street has deteriorated from the upscale, middle class community it was 45 years ago to an area looking more like a slum. Unfortunately, other than Syracuse University and a few other notable exceptions, this seems to be, in general, the direction much of Syracuse has gone over those 45 years. 

It's not unlike many, if not most, of the older industrial cities throughout the east, south and mid-west. The world has changed, the economy has evolved with the world changes and old established industries and businesses close up, turn to dust and blow away, leaving behind a lot of crumbling ruins and infrastructure.

So, this and so much else about my return to Syracuse left me feeling bittersweet, again, about a place that had been important and pivotal in the course of my life. My high school class motto was Tennyson's quote, "The old order changeth, yielding place to the new." I didn't have a clue back then just how accurate and impacting his words would ultimately be in my life. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Photo-of-the-Week #170 - Little Sodus Bay, Fair Haven, New York, June 2014

As I stopped My McVansion and took this picture I could visualize a scrawny, pimply-faced, 15 year old boy enjoying one of the thrills of his life. That thrill was skimming across the surface of this bay at about 30 miles per hours on water skis, towed behind a sleek tow boat. That scrawny 15 year old boy was, yours truly, ME!

This is Little Sodus Bay a small bay off Lake Ontario, one of the Great Lakes, protected by sandbars and man-made rock jetties. It would have been the summer of 1960.

The bay, with an average depth of 30 feet, is surrounded by the small village of Fair Haven, New York, permanent population, about 750 souls. At one time it was a small shipping harbor serving north central New York state with trade going across the lake to Canada. After the shipping trade waned, Fair Haven became mainly a resort area serving Syracuse, Auburn and other areas in the central New York region and provides for great swimming, boating, fishing and other water based activities.

As you can see, Main Street of the small village is one street and about two blocks of hodge-podge buildings mostly from the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. There are no traffic lights and a minimum of Stop signs. Main Street is also the main "blue" highway carrying commerce and tourists to and from the village. The other homes in the village surround the bay and appear mainly to be summer homes and rental properties for tourists. There is only one small hotel with eight rooms and no significant motels within a reasonable distance.

Yes! This was a wonderful stopping point where I was able to enjoy reliving some wonderful memories of my youth, my family and some family friends from our church back in Clifton, New Jersey who owned a summer home in Fair Haven.