Sunday, July 26, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week #221 A "Sign" of the Times . . . or at least of A Time, Boca Grande, Florida, January 2014

Simple photo this week. I found this sign at Whidden's Marina in Boca Grande, Florida on Gasparilla Island off the southwest coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. It's near Port Charlotte.

Is the sign for real or just a hoax? I don't know. It caught my eye and gave me a feeling of a much earlier time in this laid back island community. Whidden's Marina is on the National Register of Historic Places.

According to this other sign near where we parked our car (my friend, Tommy Head, from Port Charlotte brought me out to the island to visit this quaint little town), the marina has been in operation since 1925. That's 90 years and counting.

I have to say, the structure appears to be the original 1925 building and may have actually been the 'Sity Hall' back then. They've done a great job of maintaining the appearance of a building that's been around and actively used since 1925. A coat of paint would definitely destroy its state of senescence.

There is also a beautiful, stately, old resort hotel on the island, The Gasparilla Inn, but that will be the subject of another Photo-of-the-Week article some time in the future.  

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Photos-of-the-Week #220 The Past in the Present, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, June 2014

June of 2014 found me revisiting an important and a pivotal location from my past. I was back in Syracuse, New York visiting my dear friends, John and Pat Hottenstein and our alma mater, Syracuse University. John was (and still is, of course) an ordained minister and Pat was a nurse. John and I met as students. We were in the Masters in Television & Radio program at the Newhouse School of Public Communications. I don't remember if it was Sequence 20 or 21, the years have made that blurry. There were 52 of us in the program as I recall.

The building pictured above is Carnegie Library. It was the main library for the university at that time (1967 & 1968). It was also the headquarters for the Television & Radio Department. The very old, black & white TV studio was housed there with a selection of 1950's equipment. This door, to the left of the steps leading to the main library entrance, took us into the basement where we spent a portion of our time in the studio.

Across the street from the main, original campus was the new portion of the expanding campus including this building, then called the Newhouse Building and now referred to as Newhouse I since Newhouse II and Newhouse III have been added to the complex. We spent much of our classroom time in this building. Actually, the building was primarily for the Journalism part of the Newhouse School, but we TV-R types tended to refer to it as the Mausoleum to the Dead Medium (except it still hasn't died)

This room was in the basement of the Newhouse building. We seemed to be relegated to the basement a lot. I hadn't thought about that before. As Rodney Dangerfield would say, "I don't get no respect." This is where I remember we all met in one room for the first time. We went around the room that first day, introducing ourselves, where we came from our undergraduate alma maters and, I believe, our undergraduate majors. 

An interesting side note is that one of the people in that room that day transferred out of our Sequence to another masters program. I never got to know Bill until about 23 or 24 years later when Bill and I both became members of the National Speakers Association. It always interests me how these connections work. Unfortunately, Bill passed away about 8 years ago or renal cancer, way to young. It was interesting standing in this room 47 years later and thinking about how much of my life changed, the people I met and the loss of my friend that all had connection through this one room.

This final picture takes us back up to Carnegie Library. This is looking at a construction area on the left side of the library. The large, modern building in the background did not exist in 1967. Actually, what was in that building was an old WWII Quonset hut type building that housed the campus FM station, WAER. Obviously, that old building is long gone and replaced. I couldn't go back there to visit the site, but I understand there is a large boulder there with a plaque on it commemorating the location of the original WAER building.

I had an office and radio studio in that building where I executed my graduate assistantship duties of producing and making sure the daily programs of the Empire State FM School of the Air were broadcast to a 17 station network throughout New York State. My understanding is that the School of the Air went off the air permanently a year or two after I was there. And, WAER, well, it's now a high power, public radio station with a new building a few blocks from the main campus.

One other interesting note is that (and I forgot to grab a photo) the Carrier Dome where Syracuse played it's football games and other events was built just about two buildings away from Carnegie Library. The Dome wasn't there before I left Syracuse and I understand that it's about to be demolished and replaced by a new stadium near downtown Syracuse. Thankfully, I'm not as easy to build up and then demolish. I'm still around for a while.

This location and these buildings and the people I met there were all a very important and pivotal part of my future. Of course, I wouldn't know how much so until decades later. This was also the place where I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. And that was, yet, another pivotal event. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week #219 Alone . . . in a Large Group, Barton, Maryland, July 2015

How many times have you found yourself in some kind of large group and yet, felt completely alone? I imagine just about everyone has been in this uncomfortable situation at least once and probably more than once. I usually don't post a Photo-of-the-Week the same day I took the photo, but this just seemed like a good theme. This is the situation I found myself in today.

I don't know if I can make the broad generalization that most families have regular (or semi-regular) family reunion (often picnic) gatherings. I'm sure I'm safe to say many families do this. When I was growing up, my own nuclear family had occasional gatherings of, primarily, family members, though they weren't actually organized and structured events. Perhaps, like many families, birthdays, anniversaries and specific holidays were the typical motivators for such gatherings. There are no more family gatherings (or informal reunions) in my family. There are too few of us left, we're scattered around the U.S., I don't know where most of them are and no one has kept in contact, to my knowledge, for more than 30 or 40 years.

My "outlaws" (formally my in-laws when I was married into the family) do have semi-regular family reunions and they are normally focused around the matriarch's birthday (the only surviving parent/grandparent/great grandparent). Even though the family (6 brothers and 2 sisters and a plethora of spouses, grandchildren and great grandchildren) is spread out over at least five states that I know of, they travel to some pre-determined location for these reunions. Of course, there are a few people who, like me, remain part of the clan even though I'm no longer married into it. Plus, there are the "strays," who have been adopted into the family, who also attend. I'm entirely at home in this large group gathering.

Today, I attended a family reunion where I literally felt all alone with people all around me. The group probably numbered about a hundred, though I didn't even attempt a head count. My friend's mother likes to attend because she is distantly related to this family and one or a couple people usually show up for her to visit with. Other than that, my friend and her adult son (who also attended), knew almost no one there.

My description of this event and my time attending has nothing to do with the people who organized it or attended. I don't judge people. I observed a group of regular Americans having a great time. I'm sure they are all nice people. The folks were all having a wonderful family time visiting and their conversations were lively. I just wasn't one of them. I was an intruder. So, here I was, a normally friendly, gregarious, outgoing, participating individual feeling like a wallflower, or maybe more accurately, feeling invisible.

There was, of course, a great feed (and somewhat organized feeding frenzy). I sat on the sidelines and waited out the lines until everyone else had filled their plates to overflowing. Frankly, I did my waiting in chow lines when I was in the Air Force and prefer not to stand in a line, as an invisible entity, awaiting my turn to fill my plate to overflowing. It's been my experience over a lifetime of attending such events to know there was going to be ample food remaining after the foraging hordes worked their way down the "potluck" tables. I was right.

So, this is the scene in the photo. It was at a park with a reasonably sized shelter in Barton, Maryland, a small, old, rural town in the western panhandle of the state. It was somewhat overcast as attested to by the photo. Fortunately, the humidity was at a reasonable percentage and the temperature at mid-afternoon was in a comfortable mid 80's range. The food was good, ample and fattening. Total time involved in the entire affair was about four hours. It certainly wasn't torture, but ultimately, at my age, four hours is four hours. I hope to avoid any similar events in the future.   

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week #218 Petroglyphs In The Desert, near Quartzsite, Arizona, March 2015

There is so much to see, learn and experience in our world. It's a pity life is so short. And, it's more a pity that so many of us don't realize and accept the reality that life is so short until we're on the "back nine" of the 18 hole golf course of life. Thus, we don't take advantage of all it has to offer when we're young, full of energy and adventure.

This week's Photo-of-the-Week is one of several photos I took of ancient petroglyphs carved in rock formations in the Sonoran Desert outside Quartzsite, Arizona this past March. I had hoped to reach this location by the second week of January at the latest. Due to the untimely demise of My McVansion's heart (engine), I was delayed until the second week of March. I spent a week camping with four women and another guy on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land outside Quartzsite. It was a very enjoyable week getting to know several new people and learning more lessons about the "lifestyle." I make it a habit of learning from everyone I meet. I hope they gain something from me, too.

Swankie Wheels, aka Charlene Swankie, and Lois Middleton planned to venture a short distance from our campsite to view some petroglyphs. A petroglyph is an ancient etching in stone depicting animals, events and other parts of the lives of prehistoric people who lived in the region where petroglyphs are found. It's worth noting petroglyphs are found around the world as remnants of other prehistoric societies. The rest of our camping group were invited to join the short expedition. We readily joined in and became a small band of explorers.

I didn't, personally, do any research this time, regarding the estimated age of the petroglyphs we viewed nor who the authors of these ancient carvings were. On my next venture into that area I'm going to look into the history and its significance.

It's obvious from looking at these ancient carvings they've been there a very long time. The wear of weather and water has taken its toll on these remnants of a time and society long, long since passed on by many millennia. Would I have thought to look for these myself? Not likely.

So, for this I tip my hat and say thanks to Charlene and Lois for inviting me along and introducing me to another fascinating facet of nomadic travel and vandwelling. As the great philosopher, Baseball Hall of Famer, New York Yankee catcher, Yogi Berra, said, "You can observe a lot just by watching." I observed these petroglyphs.