Friday, May 30, 2014

Flashback Friday - Cold Case

Going through the folk's archives I came across a couple of pictures that intrigued me.  First, let me say, that we were a baseball family.  Herb was fairly non-committal about his favorite team, but it seemed to dance around whoever was winning that particular year.  Phil and Mark were Cub's fans, but I don't really hold that against them.  Marj?  Well, she rooted for whoever would make rest of us happy.  And me, I was a Met's fan, only because the majority of family member's liked the Cubs.  Let me explain. 
I recall a Sunday afternoon and for some reason I got totally disgusted with something about the Cubs, a path I was surely supposed to follow.  I don't know if it was the constant losing, or the constant winning, or the "all things Chicago", but I grabbed the newspaper and walked calmly to my room.  It was also the Wombie's room, but he must have been in the den watching the game.    

I looked at the standings and with my finger followed down to the last team.  This was back when they only had 10 teams in each league and I wanted to stay in the National League.  Following that finger down to the last place team (rooting for the underdog?), I saw that there was this misfit outfit called the Met's.  It didn't hurt that I liked Yogi Berra and he was ending his career with them at this time.

So, the birth of a Met fan.  It has been tough.  But not as tough as a Cub's fan.   

So finding these pictures and having just been to a Ray's game last week, I was hoping to glean some information from the picture itself as to when my folks would have attend this game.  Sadly, nothing was on the back except an "August 7, 1947" stamp from Merrill's Photo Shop.   

Could I find anything on the back that would help?  Toward the upper middle is a sign that says "Star Of Last Game".  I tried seeing the name but it was fairly blurry.  It looked like the last two letters were "H or LEY".  Finding the Baseball Almanac online I was happy to discover a Ron Northey played for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1947.     

Assuming Marj took this picture, and assuming also that she would have taken it in to get processed as soon as possible, since that what i would shave done,  I deduced a few things:
  •  "The Star Of Last Game" was a a feature of Sportsman's Park in St. Louis and was home to both the Cardinals and Browns.  
  • Looking at both rosters, the only team that had a "L or HEY" player was Ron Northey of the Cardinals.  
  • Since I think people were anxious to get their pictures, and since these were processed on August 7, 1947, then this trip to St. Louis would have occurred shortly before that processing date.  
  • Looking at the St. Louis Cardinals schedule for August they had a home stand from July 19th through August 3rd.  Northey didn't play on July 22nd, 23rd, 28th, 31st or Aug 1st.     

  • Northey did nothing at the bat on the 24th, 25th, 27th or 29th. 

Now it gets interesting.   On July 26th,  Northey went to bat three times and had two hits scored a run and had 3 RBI's.  Of those two hits, one was a double, and the other was a triple.  Other players, too had good games, too: 

On August 2nd, Northey came up as a pinch-hitter in the ninth and hit a home run to win the game for the cards.  

So, now what do we do?  There are no more indicators on the pictures or in the box score to determine when this picture was taken.  How about the weather?  According to the weather almanac, the 27th of July was warm (88) and with possibility of light showers around 2 or 3 o'clock.  

On August 3rd, the day was a real scorcher, over a 100 and clear skies.  

Adding all this up, I have concluded that these pictures were taken by Marj on August 3rd, a clear hot day in St. Louis, at Sportsman Park, the day after Ron Northey clearly was the star of the last game.  

Every picture has the answer, if only we go searching.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Florida Highwaymen

In the mid 50's down by Fort Pierce, Florida, an amazing thing happened.  A group of unemployed black men got together and started painting pictures and selling them from their cars along the side of the road.

They were self taught, and self-mentoring.  We have heard of enterprising people forming mowing groups, itinerants moving from farm to farm to help pick produce, and many other entrepreneurial endeavors.  But art?   

They started as nine original artists and their ranks swelled to 26 at one point.  The only reason I learned about this group was because one of the originals died a month or so ago.  His obituary was plastered all over the place down here and I was intrigued by the notion of these guys sitting around and deciding to form an art club of sorts.  

Imagine the initial conversation.  These guys are sitting around one day, no money, no prospects, no skills, and bleak futures in a South that was hard on blacks to start with, and out of that came guys who decided to buy whatever materials they could and paint Florida landscapes.

They would end up making about 200,000 paintings that are heavily sought after today.  Their work hangs in corporate offices, banks and museums all over the US.  

Personally, I don't care too much for their stuff.  It is a little florid for me, but it is certainly Florida.  It is too reminiscent of what is called California art:  warehouses of people doing a fast painting of one scene all day.  These then are sold in various venues, often cut-rate but honest in that it is an original oil. 

So here's to the Florida Highwaymen, who broke with their down-and-out brethren and did something truly fantastic.  Not only did they inspire with their paint brushes, but they also serve as a reminder that entrepreneurial spirit is something that begins with a single, simple idea.  

Imagine, a group of unemployed black men in Jim Crow South purchasing boards and oil paints and making a living doing something they had never dreamed of doing.  These guys in their own way did something truly heroic.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Early Morning on April 27th, just before sunrise, barely visible in the Eastern sky was an Old Moon.  This name is given to a moon whose cycle is about over.  In a day or so it will no longer be seen and then give way for a new one.  
It was a nice morning here so I went down to Vinoy to take some pictures, but discovered the place was packed with runners convening in the area for the St. Anthony's Triathlon.

Easily fixed:  I went over to Demen's Landing which was much quieter, but was the place where St. Pete police met to take their Ski-doos out to patrol the Bay for the runners.  They weren't worried about an old guy with a camera, I discovered.   Anyway here are the shots I took.  It was a quick shoot (see? I even talk like a photographer!); I didn't want stranded downtown.  

Ever the detail guy, I have forgotten which planet this was to the right of the moon on this morning.  Of course I could have said any one of them and gotten by with it, but my journalistic integrity got int he way.

There is one guy who reads this blog and his name is Tony Hutson who would know exactly how to take these shots far more superbly that I.  Tony worked with me at the Mary and now is a postal supervisor down in Springfield.  Check out his page on my links and look at the wonderful pictures he takes.  They are for sale, too.  They would look great in any area of your home or office.  Sales pitch over.    

By the way, on some of these shots you can see the crescent and visible in a lighter shade is the rest of the moon.  This area is visible due to reflection of light from the earth and is called Earthshine.   

The camera, again, is the real star of this blog, certainly not the slamming, drooling, maniacal idiot behind the viewfinder.     

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tidbit Tuesday

1.  I found this video of a 2010 putting match here between Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller.  I don't know what the event was or why they were doing this with live mic's but it is nevertheless quite priceless.    

2.  We are all refreshed from a week off and the staff is ready to start work again.  Vacation pics will be coming in the next few weeks.   

3.  Would someone please tell me why people lower their drawers below their ass cheeks.  Please!

This guy had just left Wal-Mart and was rearranging his bags.  His shorts were well below his boxers.  Now, I have no problem with the young challenging the establishment.  Hell, I did it myself.  But why the sagging?  

4.  In a Tuesday Tidbit a couple weeks or so ago I took a couple pictures of a guy dumpster-diving and enjoying someone's old soda and finding shoes at a Beall's store.  It wasn't more than a week later I was at McDonalds and a guy walked in, went to the trash can, found a cup and proceeded to fill it with soda at the fountain area.  

While I was there, no fewer than three guys came into a McDonald's who were obviously of the homeless, or at the least street variety, gentlemen.  They walked in and went to the various waste receptacles and once they found a throw-away cup, would then go and full them up at the fountain.  

This guy needs to find his fellow diver from Beall's - his shoes are too small so the heel sticks out.  Now, I am aware that you can't feed every starving Indian that wanders into camp, it is a little unsettling to this small-town Illinois kid to see such abject poverty. 

5.  Good luck to the Wombie, who has a tough day tomorrow.

6.  I'm old enough to remember when horns were on cars to honk at other drivers, not as a door-lock confirmation.  In fact, in high school I even had one of those moo horns I got from JC Whitney on my car.  Hmmm.  Wonder if one of those would work on my cycle?  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Painting done after the Civil War

Memorial Day began in various places in the U.S. following the Civil War to commemorate the fallen of that war.  Since that time it has widened to include all war dead, and then to all veterans.  After that, it has seemed to include all those who we have lost in our lives.  Before she died a couple years ago my cousin Jan told me she made a day-long trip before Memorial Day weekend to all of the Blythe ancestral cemeteries in the state to place flowers on family member graves.  I sure hope someone has placed a flower on her's this year.  Her mother, my aunt Gladys, used to do it, then they did it together when Gladys became too frail to do it herself.  Now there is no one left, I suppose.  Some have a problem with Memorial Day now the official day to honor soldiers who died in battle as well as an all-inclusive day to remember everyone passed away.  I'm not sure it dilutes our respect for fallen soldiers all that much, but I see the argument. 

I'm an unapologetic thief today.  I thought last year's guest commentary (did I steal that one, too?) was so exceptional I decided to repost it for today. So, thanks, Jeff, for telling us all how to appreciate this day and those we love.

So to those who are no longer with us, and to those who served to help preserve our freedoms, this weekend is a time for us to pause and remember.


Yesterday Carol and I went to Knoxville Cemetery to place flowers on the graves of her father and a very dear friend of mine. Gerald Dugan Strom died in 1996 of a massive heart attack. It was an appropriate way for him to go if there is such a thing. He did everything in a massive way. He worked with those we called at the time "mentally retarded"I know the term has fallen out of favor. Dugan didn't care what you called his clients, he cared about how they were treated. He was their tireless advocate. He loved them and respected them and they loved him back. Dugan and I spent two years riding in a car together from Galesburg to Macomb as commuter students attending Western Illinois University and graduated together in 1976. We took our own career paths but always stayed in touch. He moved to Glen Falls, New York in 1996 to be the CEO of a large residential program for developmentally disadvantaged adults. Sounded more politically correct didn't it? Our oldest son Jeremy was going to attend college in Providence, Rhode Island and Dugan asked us to stop by on the way. It was several hours out of the way and during the drive I wondered more than once if we should just skip it and head to Jeremy's school. We made that side trip in early September and I got to see my friend's new office, meet some of his staff and hear all the things he wanted to update and change. In early November he was dead. I'd come so close to not making that trip a few hours out of my way to see him. It taught me one valuable life lesson. If you love someone, tell them. If they are your friend and they need help, do what needs to be done. Don't think you will see them or talk to them later, it may not happen. We try to do as much as we can for our children and grandchildren. Why hoard money now so they can have it when we die? Why not share it with them now so we can enjoy it with them? Live in the moment and embrace whatever it gives you. Be the friend, neighbor, lover that you would want them to be toward you. Dugan's death could have made me bitter. I could have spent all these years complaining how unfair it was. His death changed my life. He made me a better person, a better man, gave me a push to live now, love now, be kind now.

                                                                       Jeff Sutor - Author Bodine-DILLIGAF
      Reprinted from May 28, 2012 - Existing In BFE

I'd like to take a moment and thank the people in my life who have sacrificed.  
Glen Blythe, Jason Blythe, Brendan Blythe, Drew Shepherd, Tim Stage, Marvin Thirtyacre,  Daryl Mitchell, Randy Mitchell, Ron Harn, Dave Hipkins, Dave Meece, Ed Johnson.

Brendan Blythe

Glen Blythe

Monday, May 19, 2014

Taking This Week Off



Friday, May 16, 2014

Flashback Friday

Growing up we heard some of the exploits, legal or otherwise, of Herb and his college fraternity buddies.   His college career was interrupted by World War II and his service in the Navy and the Greatest generation.  So when he returned certain excesses could be excused.   

One of his stories was the fraternity needed a Christmas tree and he remembered there was one in the city park in Seaton, so he and his friends drove over, hooked it with a chain, and drove it out of town.  He liked to tell of the commotion it caused when he came back for a weekend shortly after this stunt.

Another time he told of hopping on a train around Monmouth and it travelled through Seaton, back when they had trains going through town.  The tracks went right by the grain elevator his Dad owned and as the train rolled by, his dad came out of the weigh house looked up and saw Herb.  I guess the story went that his Dad went back in and in a shocked voice said to the farmers and staff inside, "I think that was my son on top of the train."  

That train would end up somewhere in Iowa, and I would have liked to have been privy to that conversation on the way home, since it was Dad who had to go over and pick him up.

This is a stunt that I'm almost certain I heard about growing up.  Apparently Herb and his frat brothers placed this car on the Wallace Hall building steps shortly before graduation.

Here is Herb with another college friend and likely fellow felon.  Herb, as if taunting the local authorities wears his fraternity T-shirt, the Alpha Tau Omegas, which, as I understand it, were the Hellraisers of Monmouth College.  What that means, is they were not likely to have to worry too much about valedictorian speeches or invited over to the President's house for lemonade on Sunday afternoon.

A student or more likely fellow fraternity brother posing next to the old junker they picked up and placed in front of the building's front door.

I have no idea what Wallace Hall was in 1947, but I am assuming it was the, or one of the main, buildings on campus.  Again, I fond it interesting the lives or our parents before they became our parents.  It is the stuff of family stories, passed down from generation to generation, and now passed along to you.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Blood Moon

When I worked with Uncle Ed on the farm he could always tell which cow was which.  To me they all looked alike.  Today we have the Blood Moon pictures, a couple of which I posted on Facebook, also.  They may all look alike, but they are all different. Some have clouds around or in front, some are clear, some are right at the center of the eclipse, and some are coming out of it.  This was the lunar eclipse which turned the Moon into a rusty sphere, caused scientifically by the sunsets and sunrises of the earth reflecting back onto he moon.  

I almost missed the alarm going off at 3:20 ET and had to do a little scrambling to get the shot at around 3:30 which was the approximate center of the eclipse.  I didn't have to go far, just right outside my back door.   

I'm not going to expand on any of these: I simply wish for you to imagine the majesty of the heavens and the mystery of the universe.  

I still struggle with aperture, f-stops, ISO and white balance settings.   The camera is the real star here, not the idiot looking through the viewfinder.

And then, an hour or so later, the Moon returned to its usual color  in the sky.  It wasn't hard to imagine the Aztecs or whoever had limited scientific knowledge believing something apocalyptic was happening or going to happen.  It was fun to watch and imagine all the ancient tribulations of such an event.  

I understand we have three more of these in the next year and a half.  I will be out there, in the middle of the night snapping away, like a crazed monkey with a keyboard attempting to create for you a photographic masterpiece.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

On The Kindle Now

"So that is the situation.  I'm stranded on Mars.  I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth.  Everyone thinks I'm dead.  I'm in a Hab that is designed to last thirty-one days.

If the oxygenator breaks down, I'll suffocate.  If the water reclaimer breaks down, I'll die of thirst.  If the Hab breaches, I'll kind of explode.  If none of those things happen, I'll eventually run out of food and starve to death.  

So, yea. I'm fucked."

I ran across this book somehow (maybe CSM weekly book review) and found it intriguing enough to give it a go.  And it's not bad.  After an accident the team of American astronauts leave poor Mark Watney by himself on Mars, thinking he has died.   It is a lot like Macguyver in that this guy has to fend for himself with whatever is at hand.  It is a clever story with perhaps too much technical jargon but when you get past those passages it revs up with plenty of suspense and ingenious plotting.  

I'll leave it for you guys to find out if Mark makes it, but you could do a lot worse than this Robinson Crusoe story that is believable and will have you rooting for manned space flights from NASA again.  By the way, what the Hell has happened to our space program?  We are now catching flights from the Russians up to the Space Station?  And the Chinese are landing a guy on the Moon this year?  OK, so they're almost 50 years late, but dammit, they are flying, aren't they.  More than I can say about us. 

Anyway, The Martian is a pretty decent summer beach read - I guess that means you won't have to do too much heavy thinking.  There are no aliens, no UFO's, no intergalactic space battles.  There is, however, one man's fight for survival in a hostile environment, by means of human ingenuity, and, yes, duct tape.

The good part is is it fairly riveting.  The downside is there are long passages where Mark is narrating his daily chores and myriad projects to stay alive.  I must admit I fast-forwarded a couple of times, and I imagine in writing parlance, that's not encouraged.  But for the most part it is a nice diverting little book that isn't trying to be Atlas Shrugged, or anything more than just a good old-fashioned stay-alive-until-we-rescue-you yarn.   If nothing else it is a cautionary tale for future missions to Mars, to not be careless and leave your engineer behind.  Think of it as a kind of planetary Home Alone.

If you enjoy a little science with your fiction, then try The Martian.   And don't forget the sunscreen and the duct tape.    

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tidbit Tuesday

1.  Hope you enjoy this week's worth of posts, because I have it on good authority that this place is shutting down next week for Safe Boating Week as well as Dementia Awareness Week.  We'll only be gone for a few days so in that period of time I want everyone to play nice or heads will roll when I return.  But this doesn't mean that you are without your homework assignments.  While I'm gone I have a couple projects for you and we will share when I get back.  More on that later.

(You sage long-time readers already know this, but for the newbies, I'm letting you in on a secret:  whenever we close down for a week, that usually means we are running out of material.  I must break the chains that bind me to Shawshank and find "stuff" to post.)

2.  While accompanying everyone to some shopping on Sunday,  I was at a place called Beall's (pronounced Bell's, oddly enough) and they have these chairs up toward the doors for the guys to sit if they aren't into the shopping experience.  I noticed this obviously homeless/vagrant guy checking out the waste container outside.  He lifted the lid and reached down and grabbed an old container of some liquid,  probably soda, and took some gulps of it and then splashed some on his face to cool himself, I suppose.  

He then reached down and grabbed one tennis shoe and then another.  I suppose in his circle, this is quite a good haul.  These pictures are of him on the ground trying on his new sneakers.  

There is real poverty in the country.  Many of the sidewalk beggars down here actually make a decent living, many making in the mid-5 figures.  Not every bum hawking alongside the road or standing at the ready besides businesses are scamming.  This guy wasn't begging and he wasn't preying on people walking around.  This guy was truly scavenging.  It made me thankful for being in the percentage of folks that don't have to open public waste receptacles for a drink. 

2.  Time apparently doesn’t heal all wounds, as evidenced by this iconic feud between these two greats (Bette Davis and Joan Crawford). These legendary actresses had a feud between them that dated all the way back to 1935.  Joan Crawford got on Bette Davis’ bad side when she married Davis’ co-star in Dangerous, Franchot Tone. Davis had fallen in love with Tone and felt Crawford stole him away from her. When the two were paired up for the movie What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, it was reported that Davis had a Coca Cola machine installed inside of her dressing room, in order to make a dig at Crawford since her husband at the time was the CEO for Pepsi. These two fought till the end, Crawford passed away first with Davis stating “you should never say bad things about the dead, only good…Joan Crawford is dead…good.”

3.  Happy Belated Mother's Day to all those who qualify.  

4.  Here is your weekly wildlife picture, spotted at the Egg Platter restaurant this past Saturday.

5.  Saw a quote this week from somewhere that life isn't measured in years - it is measured in stories.  I like that.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Lippinzaners - Part 2

We continue this morning with the second part of our journey to Myakka City to Hermann's Lippinzan Farm.  These guys, or at least the European branch, were saved by George Patton's 3rd Army during World War II.  The Nazi's were retreating and the Russians were advancing; history tells us they were saved from both the Germans and Soviets.

Operation Cowboy was really more the work of a Colonel reed rather than Patton himself.  Although an equestrian and lover of horses, Patton commented in his autobiography, after seeing a Lippinzan show on the day Hitler committed suicide, 

 "It struck me as rather strange," he wrote, "that, in the midst of a world at war, some 20 young and middle-aged men in great physical condition...had spent their entire time teaching a group of horses to wiggle their butts and raise their feet.... Much as I like horses, this seemed to me wasted energy."

"Still, Patton was a horseman—he had competed, after all, in the 1912 Olympic modern pentathlon—and he did find some merit in the display. "It is probably wrong to permit any highly developed art, no matter how fatuous, to perish from the earth," he wrote. "To me, the high schooling of horses is certainly more interesting than either painting or music."

Since the horses had been at Spanish riding school in Vienna for over 200 years,  and there was genuine fear the Russians would kill and eat them, Patton approved Operation Cowboy and saved hundreds of Lippinzaners, which was documented in the Disney film,  Miracle of the White Stallions.

Regardless of Old George's personal thoughts about horse butt wiggling, the horses were saved, and the War Horses continue to perform today.  These particular Lippinzan's from the Spanish Riding School of Vienna were brought to the US in 1962 by Old Man Hermann and continues to train here by his family.  

The above pictures show some of the training and the skill of not only the horses themselves but the trainers.  As I write this on Sunday, the farm has closed its training for another winter and are presently in St. Petersburg to put on 2 shows before they head out for a summer of touring, which will take them to the Northeast and a trip overseas.  That last picture is a bow to the audience.  
I may be able to put together one more post of the trip to see these guys and maybe a video or two with them.  Thanks for joining me today.