Ardent defenders of the First Amendment and the Separation of Church and State


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

First of all, thanks to all of you who toil in the name of humanity.

I have been very fortunate to have worked with and communicated with some great people over the years, some far more dedicated than I. But most of all it is the great and positive attitude of those who look at life as a challenge to make a positive effect on family, friends and their contributions to our society that inspire me. Have a great weekend!

The kids go back to school on Tuesday and that is the official end of summer up here. Yesterday we had our last outdoor gathering at the "Boat Club," "Swanie" and I barbecued one hundred chicken halves and a good time was had by all. This part of the Allegheny River is quite pristine and there were quite a few folks kayaking, swimming skiing, fishing etc, and we ate at 6 PM.
That first pic is the North end of the club.

I got "smoked" along with the chicken (basted with a couple brewskies) and was home by nine o'clock. There was a day when I would have been the last one there!

If you enlarge this pic, you can see my eyes are slits due to the "smoke."

The Corn Huskers, wife on the left.
The other two are natives of this area. One is a retired first grade teacher and the other teaches in a multi-cultural school in Harrisburgh. Her son flies "Stealth" aircraft.
BTW, the retired gal has some very, very funny stories about her adventures as a first grade teacher!
If you enlarge this one you can see what I used to ply the efforts of them to husk all the corn. hehehe

Our youngest son, a senior in H.S., and girlfriend.
His social schedule is quite demanding so we were surprised that he came in for dinner (only slight sarcasm.)

And here's my favorite eddy in the river in this area. The river stays very clean due to the fact that it is the longest gravel and sand bottomed river in the world.

Growing up on the Allegheny, it has been one of our most important sources of fun and all types of entertainment.
My ashes shall be interred right here.

And I hope my kids will come back to the club, sit here, look across the scene in that last pic, relax and say, "the ol' man is part of all that now, as he was in life."

I know they will have plenty of my misadventures to laugh about!

Take care, all,

Peace, and, out for now,

Friday, August 29, 2008

Why The Bushy Tree?

Due to the overwhelming number of requests from commentators on my previous post, I'll try to get back on topic and explain why this blog is rather like that Bushy Tree of 47 years ago.

First off, pronunciation is crucial to the vernacular context of the story. When saying Bushy Tree, the emphasis is on Bushy, IE, BUSHY-tree, not Bushy-TREE. BUSHY-tree, got it? OK.

I was raised on the edge of the Allegheny National Forest up here in northwestern PA. Our home was about four miles from the edge of the closest town. That side of town was known as the "Southside." As a kid I roamed the hills and spent many days taking advantage of the offerings of the beautiful Allegheny River. The reason I did that is because I was stuck out there with no transportation and I had to learn how to entertain myself. I remain very happy for that experience.
When I was eleven, I had saved up eleven dollars and change and my grandmother chipped in twenty bucks so I was able to buy my first brand new bicycle. She was a Western Flyer, purchased at the local Western Auto store. She was a thing of sheer beauty and delight and now I had transportation. The known world was mine to travel.

So, that summer I'd jump on the Flyer and ride down the four miles of dirt roads to the Southside where most of my cronies lived. That loosely defined group was a rather inquisitive bunch, scientifically speaking, and we were always dissecting something or other, and tinkering with whatever types of chemicals/ ingredients that we could get our hands on, including the famous Black Powder Experiment where four of us lost our eyebrows and the front half of the hair on our heads simultaneously while proving that black powder is, in fact, quite explosive in nature.

We were also masters at attaching rope swings to the tallest trees we could find. In those days there was a market or confectionery store on every other corner, and our preferred hangout was Johnny's Market where we could buy a double Cola for a nickel and we'd sit on the stoop out front and drink our soda and spit and stuff. One day, Timmy "Tink" Albaugh, "Fuzzy" McMillan, his brother, "Mickey," and I were sitting there spitting and stuff when Johnny barges out with a bucket of water, and in one deft move, rinsed the spit and us right off that stoop. He said something along the lines of, "Go somewhere else and spit." Since we could take a hint, we were just getting ready to leave for a more hospitable environment when, as if by divine intervention, Denny "Duppa" Rogers (The U is long and he didn't actually have the nickname "Duppa" yet but I'm getting to that part) came riding up and announced that we should put up a rope swing on that big Sycamore tree over by the railroad tracks. "What Sycamore tree?" says we, since there were more than one over that way, "the one by that "BUSHY- tree," said he.

So we did. Attaching a one inch dia. Sisal rope to the limb of a one hundred and twenty foot tall Sycamore tree is relatively easy. Take a fishing pole with a lead sinker the size of a golf ball tied to the end of it and cast it up over the highest limb it could reach, sometimes eighty to ninety feet. Then tie the fishing line to the rope, reel 'er up over the limb, tie a loop in the rope, tag end through the loop and cinch it up. Presto- instant adventure.

Then we cut out all the brush around the Bushy Tree and made benches, brought in old car seats, an old coffee table from Mickey's grandmother's garage, and etc, and it became our official meeting place with no restrictions on spitting and with our handy dandy rope swing right next door. Many a devious plot were hatched out in that place.

Then there were "the accidents," most note worthy of which was the one where I had just rode the "Flyer" up the path to the Bushy Tree and Denny Rogers was just getting ready to launch from the take off point, which was the limb of a tree behind the Sycamore.. He launched, but lost his grip and hit the ground like a ton of shit and we all knew that had to really really hurt...bad. Before we got to him he was yelling, "my duppa, my duppa!" What had happened was that he landed on his butt right on a little stick that was a sapling we had cut down and it went up his butt, which is quite an egregious and painful injury as we were soon to find out.

"Duppa" spent about four days in the hospital having his rectum repaired, but he got over it and if he ever reads this he will know exactly and precisely who I am referring to, as will all of the other characters I mentioned. They're real, and it would be great if one of them would see this and respond. But that would be a lot to ask.
So there you have it.

I'll meet you at the Bushy Tree!