Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Bigfoot
At the monthly meeting of the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society, the speaker was Frank Saluga, an investigator for Bigfoot sightings from West Virginia. He shared information from the annals of Bigfoot sightings and the suggested explanations for the phenomenon. He shared the history of sightings from Native Americans, early explorers, and those interested with more recent sightings.
Bigfoots are found in every state in the United States and every continent has their version of this hairy, elusive creature. Some cultures believe it to be an actual flesh and blood animal, some believe it is a spirit, others believe it an inter-dimensional traveler or even an alien that is transported by flying saucers. There are theories that Bigfoot is the descendants of Cain or Neanderthal people that are the link between ape and man.
Frank showed a map of the being’s sightings and the highest concentration was on the east coast of the United States, from Maine through Florida. He went on to explain that quite a few Bigfoot reports are from Westmoreland and Fayette County. He also shared that many of the Bigfoot sightings corresponded with UFO sightings, giving credence to those who hold to the theory that they are alien beings.
He had several photographs on crude structures that were supposedly Bigfoot homes or nests. He also shared pictures of teepees of large logs or log X’s that were too heavy for several men to lift.
He shared times when he and fellow explores had rocks thrown at them, noises, and had found tracks. He had two plaster castings of Bigfoot prints.
Driving home, I was being cautious, not that I was afraid of seeing a Bigfoot, but the deer are often active at that time of night and at this time of year. It was a good thing that I was, because a beautiful 8 point buck was standing in the field beside the road and I was blessed to see it without having to hit my brakes to keep from hitting it.

Monday, October 16, 2017


Feeding Thousands
That is exactly what I helped to do, this past Friday and Saturday. It wasn’t like Jesus did on the shore of Galilee by blessing the two fish and five loaves where He performed the miracle of feeding five thousand plus women and children. It was nothing as dramatic as that. I worked at the Ohiopyle Volunteer Fire Department for their Buckwheat, pancake, and sausage festival.
I’ve been volunteering since 1966 when I started to date my wife Cynthia Morrison. Her dad Bud, her mother Retha, and Cindy worked there, so it was only natural for me to start. I began washing dishes and slowly moved up the ranks, frying the pancakes, buckwheat cakes, and hash brown potatoes until I was commandeered to fry sausage.
I imagine I have been marching the seasoned piggies across those grills for almost forty years. Each grill is 20 inches by 30 inches. There are 12 grills, 6 in a row almost touching each other. Fryers are often responsible to watch the sausage on two of the griddles. The finished product is place into roasters to stay warm until they are carried to the serving areas.
We began to fry continuously from 830 am until 530 pm, stopping only to eat and to grab some fresh air. But we weren’t finished. We had to scrape and clean the grills so they were ready for the next day. I was blessed to have my family come out and join me for the evening meal.
Saturday, our church helped the Seedline Ministry located in Ohio. They print Bibles and books of the Gospel in foreign languages that are then sent to missionaries in the countries where they serve. The copies we assembled, stapled, and cut to size were in the Korean language. By the time we finished, we had completed 8,386 copies of John and Romans to be shipped to a missionary in South Korea. Our copies will be joining others designed with a special cover just for the Korean winter Olympics. We were told that 7 people will read each copy and 1 of them will receive Christ as their Savior. Hopefully, some will find their way into North Korea to feed lost souls there as well.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


 Safe at Home
On Tuesday, we were expecting my son Andrew, his wife Renee, and their two children Celine and Moriah to be transferring their home from Amarillo, Texas to a location in southwest Pennsylvania. He with the help of Renee decided to accept an employment position closer to me and his two sisters.
We knew they planned to leave Sunday. I was sure that they would go to church services first to say goodbye to their friends and fellow church goers. They got a late start and didn’t cover as much ground as they expected. The 16 foot box truck lumbered along, bringing them closer, but we became anxious, wanting them back home and safe. They didn’t call to share their progress until they hit Indiana and probably wouldn’t have said anything without the constant prodding of his sisters.
It was the last leg of their journey to the new beginning of their life. We knew that they would be home sometime Tuesday, but we weren’t sure just when. By reckoning the miles that remained between us and them, we imagined that it would be later in the evening when they arrived. We gathered at my older daughter Amanda’s to wait. Amanda and Eric graciously allowed them to stay with them until they could finish the inspection and sign the contract on their home.
The evening grew darker and a text said they were in West Virginia. Tension grew. They were much closer now. Every sound drew someone to the window or door, thinking maybe they were nearer and planned to surprise us, but no and the time dragged. Eight, nine, ten, the hands on the clock never seemed to move so slowly.
Finally, I could not stand the confines of the room and walked out onto the back porch for the fresh air. We’d been talking in whispers to allow my granddaughter Hannah to sleep. My daughters joined me. We could talk and not fear waking Hannah.
Each traffic sound called to us, but it wasn’t the answer that we sought. Finally the roar of a large truck called to us. It was them. The caravan had finally arrived, my son in the box truck, towing the family car. Following close behind was Renee driving their Suburban with another trailer behind. Anna, saw what was on the second trailer and began to cry. It was the Chevy pick-up truck that belonged to my father-in-law, Bud Morrison. It had been taken to Texas on their first move and now, it now returned with the family, reunited.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Life in an Uproar
Last week was out of kilter because of the revival meetings. The confusion of an altered schedule continues into this week. Last week I visited a local flooring and carpeting company for an estimate to do my living room and dining room. At the store, I looked at samples and selected the colors and styles that I wanted. After giving an approximate size and things I would need, the owner’s partner and I went over approximate costs. I left her with my card and phone number.
The owner came out and measured both rooms. As he was measuring with an electronic laser, I was talking and said, “I did an approximation of the size of the rooms by counting the ceiling tile.” I gave him my measurements in feet. I expected a telephone call and after several days had passed and hadn’t heard anything, I was scrolling through my email accounts, where I found their proposal. I’d overlooked it before, thinking it was a bleed-through from my spam emails. After I reviewed it, I sent an email back saying it looked good.
The co-owner had forgotten to keep the styles and colors of the carpet and floor covering. I took the information that she’d given me back to the store on my way to a doctor’s appointment. It was early and the man who’d measured was still in the store. I gave them the information that I had, but when I mentioned that he could bring the carpeting in through the window instead of trying to wrangle it around several sharp turns, he looked as though I’d hit him between the eyes with a pole ax.
He had measured the rooms and estimated both rooms for the numbers of boxes of flooring needed. He hadn’t done the square yards of carpeting, but figured on both rooms having the boxes of tile. Now, we have been hit and miss on getting the measurements done. I guess prayers needed for last week’s revivals are continued into this week for my son and his family’s return from Texas and for the installation of my carpeting.

 

Monday, October 9, 2017


The Last Night
The last night of the revival services was Friday evening. I was able to finally convince two of my friends to attend one of the meetings to hear Brother Samuel Mills speak. One of which is a Facebook friend who brought her husband. The other is a fellow writer and friend. Her car is in the shop, so I picked her up and taxied her to the church. It was a two-for night. Not only did they get to hear a great message, but there was a dessert social afterwards.
Brother Mills was his normal animated self as he delivered his message, moving out from behind the pulpit and bouncing from place to place on the dais. My friend leaned over and asked, “I wonder what his blood pressure is?”
I said, “He’s a youth pastor and I’m sure that he keeps up with the kids.”
His message could have had three titles: Living in Perilous Times, God is Still Able, but he chose, What’s in a Name. In biblical times, a name was chosen that carries a meaning as to the characteristics or the meaning of the name for the child. Later, names were chosen for their memories, naming children after loved ones or friends.
Then he went on to describe the name of Jesus Christ, a name to be exalted above all others. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: Philippians 2:9. At that name every knee should bow. Philippians 2:10. Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Philippians 2: 11. That name still has the power to save. Romans 10:13.
Christ is our refuge and strength our protection Proverbs 18:10. The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth to it, and is safe. This was the main course of the message and he talked about a city’s defense was the walls that encircled it. Those walls were the protection of those within from the enemy, but the towers were the safest most fortified part of the citadel. Here the wealth of the city and the people who were more heavily guarded were kept during an attack. The tower was set high above the walls so the enemy would not be able to reach it.
Brother Mills shared a series of names that Jesus had, speaking so fast that I couldn’t take notes. My recollection of his Scripture is faulty and I couldn’t share all that he said, but please accept my flawed sharing of his message.

Friday, October 6, 2017


There is a Place
There is a literal place where we will spend eternity. One place is Heaven and the other is Hell. We can’t be in both places, but decisions that we make while still alive and on earth will cause us to reside in one place or the other. Last evening Brother Samuel Mills explained that the Bible tells us of Heaven and Hell, spending twice as much time warning us of the dire consequences of an eternity in the pits of Hell and the lake of fire. It is a place of torment, of pain, of a burning darkness. It a place void of any comfort, void of God, and void of light. It is a place where Satan himself shall writhe in pain, calling on God to deliver him from the intense suffering.
Satan will call on the Creator that he rebelled against to give him relief and he will find none. It will be too late for those that the Devil has seduced to follow him. There in the utter darkness of Hell, the lost souls will have remembrance. They will recall each evil deed or thought that they ever had, and each chance they had to accept Christ as Savior and Deliverer will taunt them in the darkness.
God doesn’t want that any should perish and go to this place of punishment. 2 Peter 3:19. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
God looked down on this sinful world and still felt love. He sent His only begotten Son to take on a body of flesh, live here for 30 years, and be tempted like we are. He allowed Jesus to bear the pain of the crown of thorns, the scourging like no other person, to hang on a cross in agony to atone for our sins. Christ carried the sins of the entire world in His body and shed his blood that He might cleanse us and provide a way to avoid the punishment for our sins.
Hell is forever. There is no second chance. How many times will you reject God’s precious gift of eternal life? God says in Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
There may be no tomorrow. There may be no other call to accept Christ. The time is now. Will you accept Him as your Savior to have life in Heaven or as your holy judge and be cast into the fires of Hell for eternity?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

I usually only post every other day, but I can not wait to share last night's revival message. There are too many of my friends that may need this message.Too many may be facing temptation of one sort or another. There may be some that temptation has almost worn them down,soI will post today and not wait.
So Tempting
We all face temptations in life, sometimes daily and sometimes it arrives unexpectedly, but they do come. It can be described as enticements, troubles, or trials. That was what Brother Mills talked about at last evening’s revival service. Satan doesn’t walk up to you, throw you over his shoulder, and carry you to the sin, he entices, woos you, a little at a time. Just like the fisherman with a lure. It isn’t the real thing, but a copy of something tasty, something good, something pleasant, but hidden there is the hook: the thing that is the trap, the thing that bites, the thing that has consequences.
Temptation is the thing that is often a testing to see if we will keep our integrity. “Who will it hurt? Who will see?” Satan asks as he whispers in our ears. “No one is looking.” It could be the lust of the flesh, greed for something that isn’t ours, or to try the taste of drugs or alcohol. Sometimes it causes us to move one step closer to sin’s trap.
Temptation is sometimes constant. It becomes an always present trial, hovering like a lion, waiting for an opening, waiting for the smallest weakening in our resolve. It can become persistent, seemingly growing stronger the more we resist it. Sin’s allure often seems pleasant with nothing to fear, but Satan doesn’t play fair. He plays for keeps.
But we have a companion that is faithfully at our side. We will never have to fight the battle on our own. God will give us everything that we need. He will enable us to have the victory. 1 Corinthians 15:57, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
God gives us an example of how to handle temptation when Potiphar’s wife attempted Joseph to sin. First he refused. She still persisted. Joseph recalled all that he had been taught about a holy, righteous God and ran from the temptation. He was falsely jailed for his resisting sin, but God restored Joseph and rewarded him by raising him up to a higher position.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


Rejuvenating the Heart and Soul
Three nights of good Gospel preaching behind and three more nights ahead; what a blessing it has been to hear Brother Samuel Mills sharing his insights on the Bible and challenging our church members to come alive and really pray for revival and to pray for loved ones and friends specifically and specifically pray that our own hearts be cleansed and readied to carry the fire of true worship.
Monday evening he shared that the power of God is undiminished, and it hasn’t lessened from the time God created the universe until today. God is still in control. He can change hearts, change lives, and He is able to save the vilest of sinners, make them whole, and clean.
Last evening he took his text from Ezekiel 16:1-14, comparing this abandoned baby girl to the sinner. Just like the man who saw this cast off, uncared for child, God saw us and came to our side.  The infant was nearly dead and the man said to the child, live. He gathered the baby into his cloak, then claimed the abandoned infant as His own.
The man carried the infant to his home, washed it clean, then covered it with oil. Just as God does with those He saves. God, through the blood of Jesus Christ thoroughly cleanses us from our sins and claims us as one of His own children.
Brother Mills said is there anything that smells better than a fresh washed infant, slathered in baby oil. I would imagine that God has the same feeling when a sinner is saved and cleansed, fresh and new.
Once the infant was clean, the man clothed the child in the finest raiment, then bedecked in bracelets, chain, ear rings, and jewels. I imagine that is what we are clothed in righteousness.
The change in this infant was so great, that the world noticed and the change in the baby made the heathen take notice of the beauty which the man put upon her. When we are saved, the world around us should notice the change and see the goodness of God in us.

Monday, October 2, 2017


The Challenge
The challenge started Saturday, when my cousin Robin Beck challenged me to post Scripture on my Facebook page for seven days. I knew that I would accept almost immediately, but because I am often an odd duck, I wanted to put a twist on it. As I sat trying to decide how to do it, thoughts of my usual daily sharing of my vast array of postcards popped into my head. I knew that several of them had Scripture as part of their appeal, so I started Sunday morning with my first card.
Sunday morning church service was the first message in a week long revival meetings. Evangelist Samuel Mills was the speaker and began to challenge our hearts with a stirring message about the sufficiency of God. He shared that the LORD is supreme, the Lord of lords and God of gods. There is none above Him.
The word LORD is the personal name of God. Jehovah and it was so holy that the scribes would wash before they would transcribe His name, only us the consonants, and would throw away the pen after writing the name of God. He is that holy. Today, society and even Christians use His name all too casually, cheapening this Creator of the universe.
Mr. Mills spoke at the Sunday school hour about the revival services at his home church. The services were to last 3 days and continued for 14 weeks. He shared how the church prepared for the revival and how the power of a mighty and wonderful God took over and more than 300 men, women, and children walked the aisle and accepted Jesus Christ as Savior.
Sunday evening service he shared how Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abraham followed God’s directions and did all that was asked of him when he was called to worship. He shared the meaning of preparation and the fire that Abraham carried in his hand. Mr. Mills compared the carrying of fire to the church carrying the fire in our hearts to the church, ready to worship. He challenged the adults to be rejuvenated by that fire of revival and to be examples that the youth want to follow, to be lights in their own schools and in the community.
The challenge isn’t finished. Evangelist Mills is speaking all week. Seven pm, Mt. Zion church, 159 Kreinbrook Hill Road, Acme PA 15610. If you’re able to attend, please visit and listen to this man of God share God’s word.

Friday, September 29, 2017


Sometimes It’s a Small Thing
Joanne McGough is a very good friend of mine. She is a fellow writer and although we differ politically, I agree with her on one idea that she has. Sometimes, something seems to be only a small thing, but when we look back at our lives, that moment means so much. That seemingly small something can change the direction of our lives.
Many times, Joanne writes vignettes; a snapshot of something that has occurred in her life. Something hardly noticed at that time she experienced it and yet it reappears at a later date with power and clarity. It will replay itself intensely in her mind. The recollection surfaces and she tries to share these moments with her readers.
She is a retired nurse and sometimes those remembrances are of the people that she has cared for as a hospice nurse. Sometimes the moment is of a bird singing while on vacation in Ireland or trying to find a place to stay for the night as a stranger in a small Irish town.
There are things in our own lives that pass as a part of our daily living, but then we age, and we recognize just how precious that moment was. We can recognize how we changed from that moment on. We will understand the significance of that brief, flickering moment and it becomes a bright, unwavering spot in the history of our character. Most of us don’t take the time to write about it like my friend does, but if we look those moments are there none-the-less.
As I was making breakfast this morning, contemplating how I should write this blog, I began to make my usual rye toast and heated the skillet to fry an egg. I was pleasantly surprised when two yolks appeared as the shell parted and the egg plopped into the skillet.
Will this be one of those “sometimes small moments” or will it just be on file with all of the day to day occurrences in my life? I cannot see anything earth-shattering about the incident being so close to it, but someday, who knows.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


One More Time
Even though Labor Day has passed and it is gauche to wear white now, I would venture to wear white one more time before tucking it away. This year I’ve worn my white outfit to PNC Park while attending a Pirates game as I have done in the past. I wore the white clothing to church to prove that I indeed wear white on occasion. I also wore white when I manned the booth for the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society, guarding a donated hand knotted quilt that was donated and being raffled. I also passed out copies of 1862 maps of Stahlstown and Donegal Township with the monthly newsletter for the Society.
I choose to wear white on occasion because with my white Vandyke beard and mustache. I’ve been told that I resemble the great entrepreneur, Col. Harlan Sanders and he wore always a white outfit. I use my lab coat that is a leftover from my nursing career, then cover the embroidered logo with a handmade Kentucky Fried Chicken name tag. I have a short-sleeved white shirt that I adorn with a black ribbon tie. I can still fit into my white trousers from my earlier days of nursing. To finish the ensemble, I picked up a white fedora hat at a party store.
Col. Sanders will once again ride the range today. I plan to attend the Pirates game with a couple of friends. One time I visited PNC Park in my garb, I made guest appearances on Root Sports television and had my visage posted on the Jumbo-tron inside of the park. Not bad for a hick from the sticks. The most wonderful part of the day: I was stopped many times for folks to take Selfies with me: men, women, but no kids. I guess they were afraid.
The only disappointment expressed by those who stopped me  for photos was that I was unable to pass out samples or coupons for KFC like the Chick-filet cow occasionally does. That was one of my disappointments too. I really wanted to get a photo shot Selfie with the black and white Chick-filet cow. I guess I need a sign that says, “Where’s the beef.”  Oh, that’s right. That was another company’s logo all together.

Monday, September 25, 2017


Thankfulness
With all of the disrespect for America and the office of the President presently being displayed, it makes my heart sick. It saddens my soul that so many people hate Donald Trump so much that they are willing to destroy America in the process of expressing their dissatisfaction. We should be thankful that we live in America. I don’t want this to be a political post, but a patriotic one that supports the United States and ALL of her citizens.
Donald Trump was put into office according to the rules of the election process, as was Obama, and all the others before him. I know that there are those who are still licking their wounds at Hillary Clinton’s loss and are angry. They are grasping at straws, trying to wrangle a way for her to gain the Presidency. They fail to recognize that the Democratic National Committee unfairly wrested the possibility of a win from Bernie Sanders and allowing Hillary Clinton to run her flawed campaign. Hillary, in her bid for the Presidency insulted a large number of hard-working, tax-paying, Bible-clutching, gun-toting American middle class people by calling them Deplorables. It was to strengthen her support of her followers. The “Deplorables” responded by voting for the only other alternative, Donald Trump.
It is hard for me to understand how this lingering anger at her loss has caused so much resentment. There are people who are rioting under the guise of protest and wearing masks like the criminals that they are.
It is nearly impossible for me to understand how state governors and city mayors can tell the police force to “stand down” in confrontational situations like this. These officials were elected to protect and serve all of their constituents and not these criminals that are organized elsewhere, then bussed into their states and cities to riot and put their citizenry’s lives and property in peril.
I use the word riot and not the word protest, because that is what they have become. Martin Luther King Jr. protested, Rosa Parks protested, and neither of one of them assaulted another person. Neither one of them set a fire or looted a single business, but both stood up for what was right and demanded equality.
I am thankful that America gives us the freedom of speech so we can discuss our concerns and problems; without violence, without suppression of voices, without “safe places or sanctuaries.” If there is something that you don’t like, do something positive to change it without destroying America, her values, or her freedoms.

Friday, September 22, 2017


Thoughts of My Father
Nothing specific, but general thoughts of the man I know as my father. Some stories from him he took to the grave: stories from his parents, of his life working to make a family, and tales of his time in World War Two. He did share a few things near the end of his life about his enlistment in the Army, but very little. As kids, we knew he spent time in the Philippines, drove truck, and was hit by a piece of shrapnel from a bomb, but little else. Later, he shared that he had visited Hiroshima. He never described what he’d seen, but it had to be after the bombing, because he wouldn’t have had the means as a teenager before the war.
He had a small cache of black and white photographs, most of which were of the people, his mates, and the land. Somewhere in the intervening years, they have become lost and are no longer a part of the family’s heritage.
He was never one to show much affection, his gruff appearance would occasionally part into a smile. He only rarely said the word love, even to my mother, but worked in the coal mines, then a factory to provide food, clothing, and a home for our family. Money was always tight, but he would often surprise us with something special. Sundays were the best. After our return from church and Sunday school, he would drive to a nearby store to buy the Sunday newspaper, a large bag of Snyder’s potato chips, and a circle chunk of longhorn cheese. He always liked it and especially liked it when it was fresh and “gummy.”
Buying a newer car every few years and washing the vehicles every week stand out as memories of him. Fords seemed to be his passion, although he did buy a Chevy as a second car for my mom once.
His horny, calloused hands were like asbestos and I would see him pick up and move hot things without seemingly feeling the pain. I remember him swinging a double-bitted axe and hitting the same spot time after time as he split fire wood.
Digging clay from beneath our home place to create a full basement instead of a crawl space is another memory, load after load wheeled out in a rickety wheelbarrow.
Coming back on a Saturday morning with several squirrels he’d shot, skinning them in the basement, then mom would fry them and make squirrel gravy and pancakes for breakfast. Even though he would sop hotcakes in the sausage grease, he lived until he was ninety years old. I love you, Dad.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Caught in the Vortex of Time
With the recent storms that have battered the coasts of the United States and the fiery maelstroms of the west, my mind has been thinking of the multiple tragedies being played out all across this great country of ours. My heart breaks as these fellow Americans return to their homes to try and gather the pieces and return to some saneness and normalcy in their lives. Perhaps we all need to take the time to thank God for what we have. This isn’t what I planned to write about, but I think it needed to be shared.
I want to explain the time that has sped by over the past week or so. I’ve already shared Friday and Saturday evening celebrating my 50th high school reunion. Sunday morning was church. I skipped Sunday school because I inadvertently agreed to cover in the booth for the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society. I said my afternoon was free. After I agreed, I noticed that I had to be there before Sunday school adjourned. Coming home, I climbed into my Col. Harlan Sanders costume and headed out. I didn’t have to sell tickets for the patchwork quilt that I made. They were all sold out, but I passed out the monthly newsletter and copies of the map of Donegal Township and Stahlstown.
Monday, I worked on drawings for my co-editor’s books. She is doing a series of kid friendly color books and an accompanying reading book. Later, I picked up my granddaughter after school and did grocery shopping before heading home.
Mowing seems to take up a good bit of time. I try to help my elderly neighbor by mowing his lawn as well. All totaled I mow about 1.75 acres.
Tuesday, I took the drawings to my friend’s house for her to review. She needed 28 drawings for book about Diana the Diaphanous Dragonfly. Diaphanous is a large word for kids, but the accompanying book is for adults to read to the children. I still have a few more pictures to make for her.
Tuesday evening, I attended the monthly meeting of the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society. I met the woman who won the quilt. She was quite happy with the colors, saying she may use it in her living room. The speaker for the evening Alex Heidi presenting his Eagle Scout project and his mentor, sharing the Native American attire and dance.

Monday, September 18, 2017


In Another Fifty Years
This past weekend, I celebrated with the remaining graduating classmates my fiftieth high school reunion. I can remember when my mother Sybil Miner Beck celebrated hers and thought, “Wow, is she getting old.” I feel the same about me. Many of us gathered at Bud Murphy’s in Connellsville, Pennsylvania for a mixer and get-reacquainted meeting on Friday evening. The group quickly outgrew the allotted space and we were moved to another room, which was again filled to over-flowing.
The senior class of 1967, Connellsville Area, High School was gathering for another time. Not a prom, not the graduation ceremony, but a chance to reconnect with friends and to start new ones. 1967 was the first to graduate when Connellsville and Dunbar school systems merged, throwing together young men and women from both. We had less than one year to sort out who we were and who they were to create lasting friendships. Some of those quickly formed bonds will never be broken.
Some of those ties have already been broken by illness and accidents. Those faces will forever remain youthful as we once remembered them. Then I look around and see what time has accomplished in our lives, placing roadmaps of where we have been in the intervening years.
It is remarkable that so many remain and how many gathered to celebrate this monumental milestone in our lives. It stirred my heart to see how kind the years have been to many of my classmates and to see the harsh reality of time on others.
The actual reunion dinner was held at the Pleasant Valley Country Club where hugs, kisses, and hearty handshakes were exchanged from people with wide smiles on their faces; gestures to reassure ourselves that we were the fortunate ones that are still here to bridge the distance the years have widened.
I have the class reunion photograph which will rest among the pages of The Falcon my high school yearbook until a later generation finds it and wonders who these people might be. Some insight of our journey will be gained when reviewed with the pictures of our senior class yearbook. Thank you Class of 1967. I love you all.

Friday, September 15, 2017


No-ing
It is something that most people understand, but have a difficult time with it. I get a call from family, friends, church, or even a club or organization that I belong and they ask a favor. It usually isn’t that big of an imposition, but they slowly add up until I feel almost overwhelmed, sometimes cutting one project short to accommodate another. The difficulty I have is with the little two letter word, NO.
Each week my calendar always manages to get crowded with things I need to do or that I am asked to do. They accumulate like cat hairs on a dark pair of slacks. Every month I have six writers meetings to attend. Each has a special importance with critiques, advice, or suggestions to make my writing better. There is at least one luncheon for the retired nurses from Frick Hospital. I call them the Grande dames from my past. Many were work mates or mentors.
I have been invited to attend a small group of high school friends for a monthly meeting to gossip and get reacquainted.
This month is extra special because of the men’s retreat at the Servant’s Heart Camp in Ramey Pennsylvania and this month is my 50th high school reunion from Connellsville Senior High School. When my mom went to hers, I though WOW, she’s old, and now I am about to step across the very same threshold.
I just attended a picnic for the writers of The Loyalhanna Review. I promised to attend PNC Park with a friend later in the month and attend a craft show to peddle my books.
The last activity that I didn’t say, “NO” was responding to a call from the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society. In one of my earlier blogs, I mentioned that I donated a homemade, knotted quilt for the society to raffle off. The phone call asked me to cover an empty spot in the booth to sell tickets. How could I say “NO?” I created the need to have someone there to handle the money and to guard the blanket until it could be claimed by the new owner.
I was caught off guard and I said that I could. After I hung up the phone, it dawned on me I would have to skip Sunday school to get to the Flax Scutcheon in Stahlstown, Pennsylvania on time. It was another time of robbing Peter to pay Paul instead of saying “NO.”

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Public Broadcasting
It is creeping closer to the time of the Buckwheat and Sausage Festival for the Volunteer Fire Department held in Ohiopyle. Pennsylvania. It is always the second full Friday and Saturday of October when the air is cool and crisp and the trees don their bright coats of multicolored cloaks of leaves, a time when the days are punctuated by the poignant and lonesome calls of geese flying overhead, a time of saying goodbye to summer and looking ahead to the chill of winter.
Almost every year for forty plus years, I have worked at this festival, starting out as a dishwasher, frying the pancakes and buckwheat cakes or potatoes, then finally I was ensconced at the huge griddles where I am frying the whole hog, wonderfully seasoned pork sausage. It is a step up from frying in cast iron skillets over a double, gas ring flame.
Chris Fennimore usually comes to visit this volunteer organization to sample the hotcakes and sausage. Once, WQED came out to film our crew when they were documenting the many hands of volunteers in and around Pittsburgh. The sausage fryers weren’t the only stars, but the cake fryers, potato fryers, the batter makers, and the servers. They also visited the cider makers and many booths that lined the streets of Ohiopyle. If you know the town of Ohiopyle, you know it is little more than a crossroad near the beautiful state park and waterfalls.
The bike trails and the roar of the falls are a magnet for visitors. There are other local attractions as well. There are two homes built by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright: Falling Waters and Kentuck Knob. I have had the blessing of visits to both. My great uncle was care taker at Falling Waters and as a child I was able to gambol on the property surrounding the famous Edgar Kaufman home. I was also given a private tour of the Kentuck Knob home by Mrs. I. N. Hagan when I helped to deliver some artwork to her. Both are unusual in design. Falling Waters is a cantilevered structure hovering over a mountain stream and the copper roofed Kentuck Knob has not square rooms and a wood slab as a dining room table. Tours are available to see the other unusual and beautiful aspects of these sites.

Monday, September 11, 2017


Retreat
This past Friday and Saturday with 12 other men from our church, I was able to attend the annual fall men retreat at the Servant’s Heart Camp in Ramey, Pennsylvania. There were 61 men total who joined together at the event. SCHM offers weekend retreats for men, women, older single people, couples, pastors, and several weeks of children camps throughout the year. The campers’ cabins cluster around a large lake nestled in the wooded hills of Pennsylvania.
Each of the camp’s programmed events center around the idea of having great Christian speakers offering food for the soul and the culinary geniuses preparing nutritious and delicious meals. Those two items alone are worth the effort to attend, but then there are the activities.
All throughout the campers’ stay there are scheduled events and ones that are open to attend throughout the time there. A huge white tent holds a variety of games that are open for the free, in-between times of scheduled programs. The free time events include fishing, canoeing, hiking on the miles of wooded trails, and weather permitting, swimming.
Things that are supervised and scheduled are skeet shooting, pistol and 0.22 caliber range shooting, archery, spear throwing from a “chariot,” blow guns, target shooting with a muzzle loader, laser target practice, and shooting the air cannon called “Blamzooka.”
Other activities include the exciting nine-square” game, horse shoes, bocce ball, “Hillbilly horse shoe,” “Octoball," the obstacle course, and the bungee run. I have listed most of them, but there are so many, I am sure I have forgotten some.
I’ve already mentioned the great tasting meals, but now I would like to share that the sermons were wonderful. The entire weekend event was called a retreat, but the challenge of the messages was not for men to retreat, but for men to step forward and to charge into God’s expected role for them in our families, churches, and in our country. Thank you to the wonderful staff at the Servant’s Heart Camp. You all are such blessings.

Friday, September 8, 2017

 
Wildly Wonderful Wednesday
It was just another fully packed Wednesday in my life. I had an appointment with my urology Physicians Assistant for 9:40 am. I left about ten minutes earlier than I normally did and it was good that I had. With construction and slow drivers, I hit the doctor’s office with 10 minutes to spare. My dad was a stickler at being early and it has become my habit as well.
I believe that I mentioned my P.A. is a female. I am grateful that she has small hands. I made her smile when I presented her with a gift. It was a framed copy of a pun I wrote. It read, “If you don’t believe in the trickledown theory, talk to a man with BPH.” (Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy= enlarged prostate gland.)
My next stop was to visit a friend and fellow workmate in the Scottdale Manor. It was her birthday. She’s an avid reader of my books. It was her birthday. I gave her a copy of my last novel. She’s recuperating and gaining strrength for her surgery on September 14th.
My next stop was at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in New Stanton, Pennsylvania. It was the monthly luncheon of the Grande Dames of Frick nurses. I was the only guy there and felt like the rooster in a hen house. There were about 24 nurses gathered for our get-together.
Wal-mart beckoned me next and I pick up a few groceries to replenish a few waning items in my pantry. Finally, I was home, able to put away my purchases in the cupboards. I found my newly written novel in my mailbox. It was waiting for me to proofread it, get it back to the publisher for their review, then get it ready to sell and buy some for myself.
Shortly after I arrived home, a contractor arrived to reattach several pieces of siding that came loose in the wind. I had just enough time time to make supper before my next meeting.
I was off again to church for the Wednesday evening Prayer Meeting. Our Pastor spoke about God directing whirlwinds, storms, wildfires, and even the lightning and how God sometimes uses them to get our attention and draw us back to repentance.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


Ghostly Memories
All hospitals have ghost stories and our hospital was no exception. It was rumored, although didn’t actually see it myself, that there was a pale, white apparition that would walk from one side of a patient’s room to the other in our coronary care unit. The appearances would occur without any type of regularity and it only happened when the room was empty, either late on the evening shift or early into the night shift. No lights would be on and the gauzy white form would slowly glide across the floor. At first the nurses would investigate, thinking that someone was there, but after several times, no one wanted to go into the room saying, “Did you see that?” or “I just saw our friend.”
The next story occurred on one of our medical/surgical areas and this time I was a witness to this frequent phenomenon. We would hear footsteps at the back end of the unit’s hallway. There was no way to gain access to that area without walking past the nursing station or entering through a thick metal fire door that made a loud noise when it was opened or closed, we would have heard it if someone came or left through the door.
The footsteps always started on the right side of the hallway and walked to the opposite side. The sound that we heard was the steps of thick soled shoes or boots and not the shuffling sound made by patient in slippers.
We would check both hallways and patient rooms at that end of the unit each time we heard the steps, but we never found anyone who was up walking or even awake.
Another ghost story occurred on the same med/surg. floor. It involved the bathroom of one patient room. The call light would go on, but when we checked, everyone in the room would be asleep or the room would be empty. We had maintenance check the call switch for a short. Nothing. They even changed the switch and the light still came on randomly.
Several years later, the administration changed the floor to a pediatric area. When the kids came, the “ghost” left and the call light didn’t come on unless it was actually pulled to summon a nurse. I guess the ghost didn’t like kids.

Monday, September 4, 2017


Camp Wildwood
I recently read a story about someone else’s experience with Camp Wildwood located near my home in Normalville Pennsylvania. It stirred my own memories of the abandoned area. As youngsters, my brother Ken and I would ride our bikes up Coal Bank Hill Road and then to Camp Wildwood. It was a quiet place where we could pedal safely away from traffic. Occasionally, people would pull their campers into the secluded area to escape their homes for a week.
Early one morning while the low-lying fog was still clinging to the earth, we decided to ride in the coolness before the heat of the summer sun cooked the moisture and made the day humid and miserable.
In an area alongside the path, was a small camper trailer. Standing in the open doorway was a sky-clad woman who seemed almost as surprised to see us as we were to see her. Imagine a modern day rendition of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus standing on a clam shell appearing before our youthful eyes. The mist swirled around her feet and I instantly became aware that she was truly a redhead.
Other than times of swimming, another memory that stands out to me occurred just after a rain storm. Our neighbor was always working on cars. He was about 5 years older and could drive the cars he repaired. Once when I visited him, he said, “Just finished wiring the car. Let’s take it for a spin.” I quickly jumped in and we headed for his test run track, Camp Wildwood. By now the roadways were overgrown and little more than deep ruts cut by passing tires. That day, in places they were long troughs of water.
Driving along, we spotted a troop of Boy Scouts walking along the edge, staying on the edge of the elongated puddle. My neighbor said, “Watch this.” and pushed the accelerator to the floor. The engine roared and we sped into that puddle with a rooster tail of water fanning out behind us on both sides of the car. I watched as Boy Scouts frantically dove for the weeds. About halfway through the troop, the hood of the car flew open covering most of the windshield. “Aren’t you going to stop,” I asked. But he kept driving and said, “Not in the middle of a bunch of angry guys.”
A little farther along, we pulled over. He lowered the hood and securely wired it shut. After a short rest we headed back home and thankfully, no Boy Scouts were waiting to ambush us.

Friday, September 1, 2017


Come Blow Your Horn
I am not usually a person who blows my own horn, but as a writer and author, I do need to sell myself to sell my finished product. I’ve written for a long time, well over forty years, but because of a challenge to write a detective story and sharing it at another writers group, I wouldn’t have been published. A woman who was just starting a publishing company heard my story and suggested that I write some more tales about the retired homicide detective, Tommy Two Shoes. Because of her insistence, I now have four books with Thomas Minerd, retired Pittsburgh Police Department detective mystery books, each book is a compilation of short stories which makes it easy to pick up and put back down as it’s read.
My last book, The Walls Came Tumbling Down is a full length novel about Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute, how she met, fell in love with, and married a devout Jewish man, Salmon. Their union is mentioned in later pages of the Bible.
Mary Kaufman, the new librarian for the Mt. Pleasant Public Library suggested to a couple of reporters that it might make a good story to interview Fred Adams and myself as local authors. Well, I did an interview on this last day of August. I was able to share some of my writing history and my nursing career. I was also able to introduce the newest novel to be out soon, Addie.
She seemed genuinely intrigued that I had no specific genre or subject that I liked to write about. I told her, “Whatever project I was working on was my favorite at that time:” poetry, Haiku, children’s books, love stories, and of course mysteries. She asked if I planned to write more Tommy Two Shoes stories. I was truthful and said I was burned out, but had several stories started. Tommy isn’t dead yet.
I explained that I haven’t made much money, but it pleases me when people read what I write. I told her most people say the mysteries are page turners. I did have one complaint about The Walls. They said it was too slow. Compared to the multiple short stories, it would be. The short stories have the entire tale shared within 20 pages or so, versus 200.
I have several readers who read the books before I have them published to look for weak areas, misspellings, or things that aren’t clear. One reader of Addie said, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming.” I think it is one of my better writings. Now, all I need is an agent to promote my books so I won’t have to blow my own horn.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


September Challenge
Last Sunday, our Pastor challenged the congregation to hand out one Gospel tract per day during the entire month of September. There are several reasons for that. The most obvious is that it is a way to reach others with the Good News of salvation offered by a loving God, the gift of eternal home in heaven, and a way to escape an eternity of punishment in the flames of Hell. It is an easy way to expand our testimony to others, especially if we are shy or less than confident in our ability to speak clearly and concisely sharing the Word of God.
Another reason is that it takes about thirty days to develop a habit, whether it is a good habit or a bad habit. Thirty days of handing out Gospel tracts allows us to be more comfortable sharing these paper missionaries with others and causes it to be second nature when we meet someone on the street, in a store, or even at work or school.
I chose to write on this subject for two reasons. One is many people ask what inspires me to write. Sometimes it is a view of nature, seeing an unusual character, or an incident that has happened in my life. The second is if I hear a word or phrase that sparks in my brain.
I began to think about this short writing when I heard the phrase, “paper missionaries” describing the Gospel tracts. And that is what they are. These pieces of stationery that have the roadmaps to salvation are just that, paper missionaries. Often these little slips of paper travel to places that we are unable to go and talk to people we may never meet. They reach into all levels of society, all genders, and all ages, The Gospel doesn’t discriminate for any reason. It can soften the hardest heart and no sin is too great for it to reach and cleanse.
So, September is the month for paper missionaries. This is one way that each of us can change the world around us. If you should like to join the challenge, I’m sure that your church or your pastor has them available for you. You too can become an emissary for God and an ambassador for Christ.

Monday, August 28, 2017


Are You Questioning Me
Friday and Saturday, I had the rare opportunity to spend time with my daughter Anna Elizabeth Prinkey. She wanted to attend the Foothills Writers group with me and we decided to ride together. She had some errands to run and wanted to drive. Our first stop was a diner on Route 30 just outside of Ligonier, Pennsylvania called Ruthie’s. The next stop was at a small shop called The Junk Monkey Paint Company in Ligonier to pick up paint supplies. I was talking to one of the owners, Sonia and of course, I handed her one of my business cards. She invited me to do an interview about my writing, my books, and where I get my inspirations to write for a segment on a local cable company.
We moved on to the meeting where Anna shared an idea she had for an inspirational story that she is writing and listening to other items that the writers that attended had written. Then we finally came home for me to finish the laundry.
Saturday was another day I shared with Anna. It was the LHTC Broadband customer appreciation day held at the Flax Scutching Grounds on Route 711 in Stahlstown. We were meeting my other daughter Amanda, her husband Eric, and their daughter Hannah Yoder. I met several old neighbors and friends there as we sampled the foods and visited the various booths. One booth was for the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society. They were selling their cook books, giving away replicas maps of Donegal and Stahlstown, and selling raffle tickets on a knotted quilt bed cover that I made and donated to them.
While I was making my round, I (not in my Col. Sander’s garb) got to meet and shake hands with the Chick Filet cow, the curled top, Dairy Queen cone, and talked with a representative for the radio stations of LHTC. I gave him my card and he said that he would pass it along to the person who deals and handles interviews and things like this.
My New Year’s resolution of not leaving home grumpy is paying off, because, no one wante to deal with a grumpy old man.

Friday, August 25, 2017


Weeds, Beautiful Weeds
Looking about this morning, I noticed the vibrant golden hue of the golden rod bloom nodding gently on its leafy verdant stalk. The contrasts of colors made me stop and think of the various plants that we call weeds. Many of the plants that we buy and propagate were once weeds somewhere else in the world. One of my wife Cindy’s favorite was a yellow thistle-like bloom that is a weed in the country of Turkey. She picked it up quite by accident, but because of her Scottish lineage, it quickly became a plant that she loved. Her all time favorite was the daisy. It grows wild, here in the state of Pennsylvania. Its white petals hold hands to encircle a bright yellow center.
I am often amazed at the shades and variety of colors. A brilliant orange bloom, very much in the same shape of the golden rod is a plant, my father-in-law Bud, called a butterfly plant. It often blooms in fields along the highways. I don’t know what the weed is called, but its tall stalk is capped with an intense purple crown. Sometimes it grows alongside of the golden rod and the contrast is almost breathtaking.
The periwinkle colored flower buttons of the chicory scatter along the stems of pale green. It is a plant that our forefathers collected and roasted its roots to brew as a substitute for coffee. The white frilly Queen Anne’s lace is so dainty in its appearance and yet has an edible root and is called the wild carrot.
The dandelion has a fuzzy bright yellow flower that is very prolific and the bane of the homeowner’s yard. Its leaves are edible as wilted green gravy. The rue of fried bacon, onion, and vinegar welcomes the bitter green leaves. Served over mashed potatoes is a childhood memory for me. The yellow blossoms can be collected, cooked, and make into a pale golden jelly that tastes so very much like the honey created by honey bees.
Take time to looks around. Even weeds are useful and beautiful.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Songster Memories
I just heard Momma Cass Elliot singing Dream a Little Dream of Me and I wondered how she would have fared on America’s Got Talent. Would she have even gotten on stage to perform? I wonder what the judges would have said about her. Would she have moved on the finals? And how about the gravel voices of Joe Cocker or Janice Joplin, surely, these songsters who brought my generation much enjoyment would have been tossed by the judges.
What other people with beautiful and unusual styles of singing have been overlooked or cast aside because their talent doesn’t follow the norms and the mainstream? I can’t say that I am a big fan of rap, but that is mostly because I can’t understand the words and because much of it that I can understand seems derogatory and degrading.
How about the great jazz and blues singers, Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Brown? Would they have had good fortune singing today? The unusual voices of Tiny Tim or the great scratchy pipes and trumpet of Satchmo, Louis Armstrong, would they have found a place on stage?
I am just recalling a few of the singers that have made an impression on my life, but haven’t forgotten the many rock groups that competed for air time on the radio. There are too many to list and none really stand out, I guess if I had to choose one group, it would be the Righteous Brothers and Unchained Melody. It seems to soothe the heart and soul as they croon.
One singer that made an even greater impression on me was my mom, Sybil Beck. She had the uncanny, unfailing habit of singing a chorus or a line from another song that paralleled what one of us kids said. It didn’t matter what it was that we were talking about, she had a song stored away to sing.
I do something very similar, except not all my remarks are a song. Sometimes I share a joke or a story that fits into the ongoing conversation. Jokes and tales join my repertoire of responses. Anyone who knows me knows that I am likely to share some small tale or joke with them before we go our separate ways. So I say, sing on my friends. No one may enjoy it but you, but it is your song,share it.

Monday, August 21, 2017


Back to School
This is the time of year that kid’s and parent’s thoughts turn to getting ready for the new school year. Most of the children with some reluctance and most of the parents with mixed feelings of relief and anxiety. The first day of school may be the first ride on a school bus, meeting a new teacher, or wearing the new school clothing.
Late in the summer, I would hear the cicadas rasping their songs in the heat. There was nothing to dread from these small creatures, but I developed an unsettled feeling when they began their concert. I knew my summer freedoms were over and the routine of schooldays would soon begin. Days of reading, math, and spelling, months of history, science, and geography, and nearly a full year of penmanship, hard seated desks, and other not-too-polite other kids lay ahead. It also meant recess, lunches, and making new friends.
Going back to school always meant going to Gabriel’s with Mom to shop for clothing. My first recollection of the store was that it was located in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, where built-in walkway conjoined two houses. Bins and tables were jumbles of pants and shirts that had to be sorted through to find seconds that were still in wearable shape. Several years later, the store moved to a larger roomier building, but the need to examine the clothing was real: checking for missing buttons, working zippers, tears, and that there were no major flaws.
Then came the role reversal, I got married to my wife Cindy and we had three children of our own. School days meant something completely different, but then again, my wife was a school teacher and taught in the private Christian school where our children were enrolled. School days meant visiting stores for school supplies and new clothing. The entire family would make the traditional pilgrimage to Gabriel Brothers to shop for school clothes.
Gabriel’s has now expanded to have multiple stores. Growing up, people called the original two stores Gabe’s. Apparently, the owners of the stores heard the public’s nickname for them and have recently changed the signage and renamed the stores Gabe’s.
Even now, when I hear the cicadas and the days for the start of school draw near, it always stirs thoughts of the old conjoined houses and shopping for school clothes.

Friday, August 18, 2017


An Elephant in Tap Shoes
It could be an elephant in tap shoes dancing above my head or a thundering herd of wild mustangs galloping across the upstairs bedrooms and bath, but no it is a single, neutered female cat, Willow. A cat left behind in my care when my younger daughter Anna married. The loud pounding of her feet almost echoes through the downstairs as she rushes from room to room on some secret mission. But changes into a stealthy mode when I make the trek upstairs to use the computer or to go to bed. She lies in wait at one of the other open doorways for me to come near, then in a flurry of fast moving paws, she scurries away from me, the invader of her domain.
I have to be careful where I step in the middle of the night when I don’t turn on a light. Many times her favorite resting place is in the middle of the top stair landing or on the stair’s treads. She is a black and white, medium haired creature with an intrinsic passion for getting underfoot.
Sometimes in the middle of the night, I will hear the jingle of the bell on her neck collar just before the pounding of her feet and the leap onto the bed. It is always on the side opposite from where my inert form has decided to sleep for the night. Then I feel her walk across my body only to stand on my mattress waiting to have her ears scratched, then she will leap onto the floor to hide for awhile. Sometimes, I sleep sitting in my lounge chair. She does something similar and leaps into my lap. If I don’t stroke her and scratch her head quickly enough, she will nudge me with her chin until I do. Then she will curl up in my lap for her nap.
I’ve thought about getting a playmate for her, but she is so very territorial, I wouldn’t dare try. A stray, very young kitten came onto my porch and Willow went wild. She would hiss and jump against the storm door until the kitten would leave. Each time the wee cat returned, Willow would bound against the door, trying to get out and chase away the interloper.
Sometimes I would like to contact Barnum and Bailey, but I know they’ve done away with their pachyderms.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Not Again
It started yesterday and it is still here this morning. My right elbow may have the beginnings of cellulitis. My first bout started while I was in high school. It was in my left knee The original injury to my knee happened when I was standing on a wooden well cover and one of the boards broke. My leg slid through until the narrow opening pinched my knee; scraping the skin off and making my knee swell from the trauma. It scabbed over and healed without any problems.
Several years later I was shinnying up an apple tree and my aunt Violet’s place, with my legs pressed tightly to make the climb. The next day, the spot of the old injury began to swell, get hot, and turn red. It eventually got as large as half of a softball. I was taken to visit a doctor and was immediately sent to Connellsville hospital to be admitted for care and treatment.
The range of antibiotics was much more limited in my youth. There were few if any effective oral antibiotics and the intravenous ones were even rarer. That meant injectable penicillin. The nurses gave to me injections twice a day. As a young person, the daily looming presence of those fat large-bore needles necessary to push the thick, white liquid into a butt cheek was torture. The thick viscosity of the penicillin was increased because it was stored in a refrigerator until it was needed.
I wasn’t allowed out of bed during the entire stay, except for the trips to the necessary room. Youthful energy trapped in a bed filled chamber of horrors is what my young creative mind thought. Soon the pain in my derriere overcame the pain in my knee and the edema and redness began to disappear. As I began to feel better and the days of incarceration grew longer, I was ready for the pardon. It couldn’t come too soon. My restlessness increased.
Feeling more and more like an imprisoned pincushion, I sent a note on my empty breakfast tray, “I’m being held prisoner in room…” I’ve forgotten the room number, but you get the idea. I don’t know if it helped, but I was discharged later that day.

Monday, August 14, 2017


Walworth Valve Company
During the first few years of my life, my father Edson Carl Beck worked in the coal mines located in Melcroft, Pennsylvania. The coal veins underground in this area were low, thin seams and the miners worked bent over to gig with pick and shovel to extract the black mineral, then to haul it to the surface. Because of the low ceiling, he had a dark tattoo on his forehead earned by bumping his head on a low overhang and it wasn’t properly washed out at the time.
He next worked at a factory called The Walworth Valve Company in South Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The company made valves from casting to shaping and selling. There was a foundry where the men poured the hot molten metal into molds shaping the bodies of the valves, the wedge gates, and the ball stoppers. The metals used were brass, iron, and stainless steel. The choice of the different metals was determined by the type of valve requested for the valves. I believe the smallest valves were brass with a 2.5 inch diameter opening and the largest valves were steel or stainless steel and were 3.5 feet in diameter.
Walworth was an old, wood-block floored factory. It was started in 1888. The machines were powered by a belt/ pulley system. A second floor line of pulleys on a long shaft spun leather belts that reached down to the machines on the first floor transferring the motion to each individual machine.
My father’s job was to run a large overhead drill press. His expertise on the machine often caused him to actually earn less money than those less qualified. Let me explain. Other men were assigned smaller, multiple pieces in a run. Once they were set up, they could drill out the valves in a short time, earning piece work. That meant if they finished more pieces that the average, they got higher wages.
However, my dad would have to set up his machine to do only one, two, or maybe three valves. The set up time for the drill between orders was lost of productivity and he only earned a straight salary compared to many of the other men doing piecework. His knowledge hindered his wages instead of helping him.
I worked there for a nearly a year before joining the United States Navy in 1968, but my father continued to work there until 1975 when management decided to fold up their tents and move the entire operation to Mexico. One of the original buildings from the factory is still standing. It is the white, stucco-looking medical building situated behind Hoss’s Restaurant in South Greensburg just off Rt. 119.

Friday, August 11, 2017


The Aftermath (Classes)
I was asked to give a brief summary of my life after nursing school, my uniform, hat, and place that I worked.. The following is what I wrote and I wili use it today as my post. After I graduated from Connellsville Senior High School in 1967, I worked at a valve-making factory in Greensburg, Pennsylvania called Walworth until I joined the Navy in 1068. Basic training, corps school, stationed in Orlando, Florida, then in Keflavik, Iceland before discharge. I Got “early outs” to attend Pennsylvania State University in the nursing program, knocking off the four year BSN degree in three years, graduating in 1976.
The uniforms for the men were navy blue slacks and a white uniform top with the initials PSU embroidered on the pocket. Men didn’t have a cap to wear, but the women’s cap looked like a Melita coffee filter with a navy blue ribbon band, however that did not stop the females from harassing me. One day in clinical, they women revolted, went to the kitchen and attached an industrial sized coffee filter to my head with bobby pins. (I actually had thick hair then.) Our clinical was in an elderly care home, the old people loved it, so I wore it the rest of the day. When I returned for the next clinical, I wasn’t wearing “my cap” and the women asked where it was until I said it was dirty. I washed it and it fell apart. They laughed and it was smooth sailing after that.
I received my degree in 1976 and was married shortly after that. My first job was at Monsour Hospital in Jeanette, but soon after found employment at H. C. Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania. It was much closer to home and seemed to have a more friendly atmosphere.
The first three years at Frick, I worked the 11-7 shift, where people go grump in the night. The next five years I was blessed with working in the emergency department with some wonderful physicians and other nurses. The rest of my career there before retiring after thirty-four years, I was blessed/ cursed with the position of a nursing supervisor and responsible for the entire hospital on the off shifts and weekends.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


An Ethiopian Princess
While at my friend’s granddaughter’s wedding this past Sunday, We were able to relax after the wedding ceremony in the reception area of the nearby clubhouse and banquet area. There were buffet trays of fruits, vegetables, and meats and cheeses: including what I think might have been smoked herring steaks. Another area had trays of cookies, candies, and homemade fudge. Nestled nearby was a chocolate fountain surrounded by fruit and other dainties waiting to be dipped and sampled.
While we were teasing our taste buds with the various flavors, several servers began to circulate with trays of hot hors D’ouevres of fried mozzarella sticks and balls of chicken cordon bleu. I managed to sample several items more than once, before I was forced to pace myself, knowing that a meal was to be served at a later time.
Among the wait staff of several lovely young women was an exceptional beauty. Her dark skin, regal face and bearing allowed my creative mind to explore the possibility that she might have been a princess or consort in the court of Candace, the Queen of Ethiopia. Candace was the queen that visited Solomon in Jerusalem traveling from her distant home in Africa. Solomon introduced her to the God of Israel.
I was fascinated with this young, lithe ebon beauty that gracefully filled water goblets, removed empty dishes, and was intent on completing her other duties. Her smooth skin and well-proportioned body was a wonderful asset to her poised nature. Her hair was coiffed to the back of her head in a tight bun allowing her face and slender neck to seem even more regal in appearance.
For me to say that I was impressed by her appearance isn’t quite right. Even at my age, I am able to appreciate the beauty in nature, music, art, written words, and yes, in human beings. I sometimes choose to comment on them with words that do not always convey the full intent of what my eyes can see. This is not to debase this young woman, nor is it to in any way to be construed as the thoughts of a lustful man, it is only to say I was surprised and enamored with this other human being.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Wedding Belle Blues
Yesterday I attended a wedding. I was the chauffer/ escort for a good friend. She doesn’t like to drive due to health issues and it was her granddaughter’s wedding day. It made a busy day for me, but what are friends for if they can’t help? She told me that the ceremony was to start at 1:00 in the afternoon, so I didn’t go to Sunday school after the morning services to be sure we made it on time. According to Google, it should take 45 minutes, but with construction and Sunday drivers, I wanted to be sure that we had plenty of time.
I had never been there before and she brought her GPS for guidance. It took all of the 45 minutes to get there. Google had us driving through twisting roads and unnecessary “shortcuts.” We arrived. It was an outdoor wedding in a pavilion. We walked from the car to an empty pavilion, soon to be joined by one other couple. It was about then two women began to set up the podium. It was about 5 minutes before 1:00 and I mentioned to my friend, “I thought they would have this set up before this.”
As we waited, we were joined by another couple and I found that the wedding was at 1:30. Other people began to gather in the pavilion and we waited. Several messages were sent to the guests advising of the delays. “The hairdresser was late,” “They couldn’t find the veil,” and the kicker, “The groom was missing.”
When he arrived almost an hour late, the ceremony proceeded with a female officiating with a long and flowery speech added to the actual marriage vows. The bride’s colors were blue and gold/ yellow. I was in style. Unknowingly, I was wearing a bright yellow shirt and a blue tie.
We went indoors for the hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, and a buffet meal. The food was good, although some items were slightly overcooked due to the delays. The wait-staff were great, but as soon as the dances, cutting of the cake, and more photos, it was time to leave. My back was sore and my friend ‘s back was in spasms.
Knowing how to get back, the drive time was less and I just had time to make the Sunday evening services before going home. Something I ate at the reception was salty and my mouth was dry the rest of the evening.

Friday, August 4, 2017


It’s Your Funeral
Well, not quite, but at last evening’s writers meeting at the Mt. Pleasant Library, Fred Adams led the gathering by sharing many humorous carvings and famous people’s epitaphs taken from their headstones. For example, “Here lies Johnny Yeast Pardon me For not rising” or from a tombstone in Georgia, “I told you I was sick.” There was the reading of a man, “Here lies Ezekial Alkie Age 102 The good die young.”
Then he asked that we try our hands at it. I must say that mine were more in line with those that rhyme, but there were quite a few that had snappy end lines. Perhaps one like “Thomas Edison, Lights out.” Or Kathy Griffin, “I tried to get ahead and got cut off.” For a deceased teacher, I wrote, “Just Passing Through.” “Napoleon, Generally coming up short.”
And you know what is coming next to try to write your own epitaph. I wrote, “Here lies Tom at your Beck and call.” It was an interesting evening.
Just before I left the house yesterday, the UOS man delivered my updated and corrected novel, The Walls Came Tumbling Down. I was able to trade Fred Adams one of mine for his new release, The Eye of Quang Chi. It is one that he had been describing and I wanted to read. Set in San Francisco near the time of their earthquake, wealthy conjoined brothers are raised and educated to become famous in their own right. Mingling among the high society elite, they still become involved in solving mysteries caused by the dregs of the city.
After I got home, I began to review my newest novel, Addiie. I believe in is my best so far. My co-editor wrote, “Wow” and I didn’t see that coming.” When I can elicit comments like that, it makes me happy. Another friend who read the manuscript said similar things. I hope to have it ready by the end of the month.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


The Best Laid Plans...
Yesterday, I had ambitious plans with a time crunch involved. I had to pick up my granddaughter Hannah Yoder to babysit her. After a quick breakfast, we started out to complete our first chore. It was to pick up my books that were for sale at The Twisted Vine. It is a consignment/antique shop just outside the town of Ligonier, Pennsylvania on Route 30. Several other writers placed our books to sell and after a few months with minimal to no sales at all, we decided to remove them. The rent for the space was more than our sales.
I checked the posting for hours of operation the night before. Once I picked up Hannah, we drove to the shop. As usual, I arrived early and as we waited, caring for an active six year old, became interesting. The wait was longer than usual. Several other customers arrived and left when they found the store wasn’t opened yet. Their sign read, “M-F: Store hours 10 to 5ish.”
Finally, at 11:00 am, one of the owners arrived. I told her that we’d been waiting and that several others had come to shop and the store wasn’t opened.
She replied, “Well, we posted on the site that we’d be in late this morning. I just got back from New York.”
I said, “Maybe you should change your starting time to an -ish.” All I can say is if you plan to shop there, you may want to check their site every 15 minutes.
The rest of my plans for the day were shot. I was supposed to be in Connellsville for a luncheon at 11:30 and I was an hour away. I was a little more than upset, but I had promised my granddaughter a lunch with Pappy, so we stopped at Brady’s, a restaurant on Route 31. She had her favorite, macaroni and cheese and I had a grilled chicken salad with celery seed dressing and that part of my day wasn’t ruined.

 

Monday, July 31, 2017


So Much to Think About
Yesterday in Sunday school, our teacher was talking about fiscal responsibility and what the Bible says about finances. The claim for Socialism that some say is found in the Bible is much different to the actual meaning of Christ’s followers giving money into a communal collection for other persecuted and poverty-stricken believers. This act of voluntary kindness was done out of charity and not a forced confiscation and distribution of wealth by the government. The early Christians earned money, gave from their bounty, and yet were allowed to keep what they earned if they chose to do so.
The second thing we talked about was quality. When a person buys something that wears well and lasts a long time, it instills the notion of brand loyalty. Most often the travelling salesman selling snake-oil or other high-promise and low-quality products will not be welcome should he make a second round of the area.
When the subject wandered into long-lasting items, our teacher mentioned that the Hebrew children wandered in the wilderness for 40 years and their clothing and shoes didn’t wear out. Now, that’s quality. Then he said his wife still had clothing in the closet that has been there almost that long.
This leads me to say, I still have several articles of clothing that I bought as a sophomore in high school. I worked on a dairy farm one summer to earn money for school clothes. The one sweater that I bought has a zigzag design of charcoal, red, burgundy and grey that runs across the entire sweater. Because it is so soft and warm, I’ve kept it although it is worn through at the elbows. I only wear it under my hunting clothes for warmth. The fluffiness makes an excellent insulating layer.
I kidded my son that I was going to will it to him when I died. I gave it to him when he visited and immediately forgot that I had. It took two seasons of hunting and me complaining that I couldn’t find it when my son reminded me that I had given it to him. I was embarrassed when he returned it on a trip from his home in Amarillo, Texas. Sorry Andrew.