Grandma’s Old Fry Pan

My Great Grandmother was born in Quebec, Canada in 1880.  She had seen a lot in her lifetime.  Born only 15 years after the Civil War, she witnessed two World Wars, Korea and Vietnam, the onset of the automobile and the beginnings of space travel before her passing in 1967.  Home was a houseboat on the Hudson River between New Jersey and Manhattan during the 1920s where she lived with her husband, daughter and granddaughters (my mother and her sister), along with an assortment of other family members.  Later, they bought a farm in East Postenkill where they would raise a very, very extended family.  Moving from there once the house was free of kids and sundry guests, her and Grandpa...

Get Off My Bus

It was a typical Upstate New York day in early spring for most people getting out of bed that March morning, .  The sun poked through my bedroom window on the second floor of my parents cozy little cape out on Spring Avenue.  I stumbled my way downstairs to the familiar smell of bacon frying as my dad was cooking his usual breakfast for him and me.  Dad did not take sick-days during his career at Behr Manning in Watervliet.  Nor, did he take “personal time”.  In fact, he did not take any time off, other than his scheduled vacations.  Two weeks during the shutdown in July and August and another week or two over Thanksgiving to hunt deer.  That day would be the only...

Is That Uncle Fred?

We arrived a few hours before the ceremony to be sure everything was in place.  I scattered a few bottles of water along the front pew for the bridal party.  Our son Jim and his soon-to-be bride Paula, were preparing to tie the knot on what seemed like the hottest July day in the history of the world.  We were sweating through our three-piece tuxedos as we jammed ourselves into the sanctuary.  The place was packed out as we felt the excitement that only a wedding can bring. The music began as the guests entered and, after the usual preliminaries, the wedding attendees began to do some singing as a prelude the main event.  The hymnals began their leafy noises as the congregation coughed...

The Magic Pot

You know the kitchen gadget as a Pressure Cooker. My wife and I call it the Magic Pot. We buy cheap cuts of meat that would normally take hours to cook, put them in the Magic Pot, apply heat and pressure, then magically we have a wonderfully tender entree.  We both prefer the long stewing method but sometimes we want to get dinner on the table without all the wait.  Remember, you can’t tenderize meat in a microwave.  That radar-emitting piece of machinery is one appliance we’ve both grown to dislike, but that another story. My mother feared the Pressure Cooker, as she would a hand grenade, and my father loved the fact that she did.  He enjoyed tormenting her with the pot as...

Nice Day For A Swim

You could feel the low-hanging sky as the dew clung to the grass on that July morning, as soon as you walked outside.  I like to walk the yard soon after sunup, inspecting the flowers and our little vegetable garden.  This particular morning, I noticed an animal taking an early-morning swim in our pool.  A close look revealed a little black and white creature that looked more like a wet kitty than a skunk.  Unfortunately, it was the latter.  He had somehow managed to get down the stairs into the pool, no doubt drawn by the cool water.  I’m used to fishing out chipmunks, squirrels, frogs and the occasional snake but this one caused me to hesitate.  Anyway, this guy was pretty...

What’s in a Name?

There are times when we are called by different names.  I’m not referring to name-calling but rather nicknames and titles.  When our receptionist would get a phone call for me and the caller would ask for me as “Ricky”, she would tell me that one of my cousins or aunts must be on the line. She knew that they were the only ones who used that particular nickname. Titles, however, are a bit different.  We all have them.  I’ve had a few, as well.  Mister, Airman, Sarge, Boss, and even the occasional Sir.  Plus, a few more that are business and community-related.  Some are earned, others not. When our generation of baby boomers were growing up, it was unimaginable...

I’ll Go

The Virginia heat and humidity were a little strange to us, having grown up in Upstate NY.  Our tiny bedroom in the apartment had no air conditioning and precious little breeze in the tightly packed complex that we called home.  The summer months began to drag a little with the onset of ordinary life in the Military.  Temperatures caused us to rise slowly most mornings and dress into clothes that were damp from the night air that had been pressed unwillingly through the window screens.  My fatigue uniform wouldn’t hold a decent press, even with starch, frustrating my new bride as she adjusted to married life.  So you don’t think poorly of me leaving that task to Olga, I had...

All They Have Are “Things”

A friend of mine recently attended a conference and told me of a man who lives in Africa and had spoken at the event.  He quoted him as saying, “I feel sorry for America. All they have are things”. When that statement was made, I looked around the group I was with and saw many of the heads nodding in agreement. I knew that statement had to be challenged. America does have lots of “things”.  Some of those “things” are the stone gardens of places like Arlington and Saratoga, where the graves of brave men and women are marked.  They gave all they had to liberate peoples and nations around the world. America is a noble nation who has shown herself time and time again willing to...

D-Day

The enemy was hunkered down at Normandy as the fog began to clear.  Appearing on the horizon, were the Allies who had summoned the greatest invasion force in the history of warfare.  They were determined that the tyranny of the Nazi’s would not be allowed to stand.  While the Fuhrer was focusing on Pas de Calais, more than 160,000 troops landed further south on that fateful morning along the French coastline.  Names of those beaches would be seared into the memory of every soldier, airman and sailor that struck the field of battle.  Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword would live as a testimony to the Allies strength that would turn the tide of the War on June 6, 1944. Among the...

The Honeymoon

The plane touched down in DC after a seemingly short flight from Albany.  Sunday afternoon had arrived and we had been married for a whole day.  The days were little more than a blur since I’d left Ft. Lee on Friday night. The hustle and lack of sleep had taken its toll and I was beginning to feel a bit feverish.  I decided to ignore it and chalked it up to the post-wedding jitters. The only way to get to Petersburg on a Sunday evening from the Capitol, was to take a Greyhound, so we made our way to the downtown bus station in a taxi. The combination of the ratty terminal and the smell of diesel fumes was not making me feel any better.  We arrived in Petersburg and then another...