Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Patrick Flynn and Ronald Tipton, 2016.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Nice Quiet Country Christmas Morning

We all know Christmas can get hectic. So what better than a nice quiet walk in the country to escape all the voice of our more urban environment?

Thus this December 25, 2011 about 8:00 you found me ambling along the Brandywine enjoying the silence of the forest.

Yeah, right, anyone who believes it is quiet in the woods must have grown up and lived all their life in the city.

In the city you might have honking car horns; in nature you have geese.

(I suggest you scroll down and turn off my music player before viewing the video.)


The Great Blue Christmas Heron Takes Flight

There are Great Blue Herons living in our vicinity. Very large birds that are quite graceful in flight. There is one standing on the downed branches in this photo to the left, although a bit hard to see.

Below is a video shot early this Christmas morning 2011 of one taking flight.










Merry Christmas to All: Second Greatest Event


I wish you all a very Merry Christmas 2011.


I suggest you scroll down and turn off my music player.

Now if Christmas is the Second Greatest event, what must be the first?

No, not my birthday, although that's in the Top Ten somewhere.

I'll give a hint. We wouldn't have had the first, if we hadn't had the second, so the second came before the first.



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lonely Months: A film

I would suggest scrolling down and turning off my music player before viewing the video.



All photographs were taken by the author on December 11, 2011 in Brandywine Creek State Park.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Streets that Bind -- Washington Avenue

From the time I was born until I married there were seven addresses in five townships; from my marriage to the present, eleven in eight places. These 18 addresses may be even more remarkable considering I've been in this house for the last 30 years and here is where I think of as home.

But if one asked about my boyhood home, I think of  Washington Avenue. I moved there three times, twice to the same address. I lived on that street for 13 of my first 15 years.

It wasn't the longest street in the world, although it seemed so when, as a child, I walked it. It ran probably less than a half-mile end to end. It ran one block east of my own block, but I seldom had reason to go that way. It ran two long blocks to the west of mine and at the end of these, just before the creek, were my church and the movie theater. A half block off Brandywine Avenue also called Creek Road, at 120 Washington, was an apartment building where my life-long best friend lived when I first met him.  (I've told the story of our meeting in "The Kid Met Him in the Funny Pages".)


On the left is 120 Washington as it looks today (actually not much different from then) and my not quite yet best friend sitting in the window of his apartment there.

Gee, he was kind of cute back in those days.

I knew someone else that lived in those apartments during those early years, a blond girl. Her name was Mary Jane and I had a crush on her through most of my elementary grades right into junior high school, although I never acted on my feeling for her and asked her out. I was friends with her and she came to my birthday parties.

We were eight years old in this photo and you won't find any other pictures of me getting quite so chummy with a girl that early on in my life. Now it is true I kissed a girl named Michele around this same time period (and got in a bit of trouble because of it) but I never had any true feelings for Michele as I secretly did for Mary Jane.

I suppose I should explain how I came to be a Washington Avenuer.

The first time we moved there I was six months old and it was to be my third home. My first had been in Modena and my second at Whitford. I've never really known why we moved to 424 Washington in town that Christmas season. We moved there with my maternal grandparents, who were the actual renters of the house (they never owned it). My parents had moved in with them at Whitford earlier in the year from Modena, my father's boyhood hometown. (Photo left: my mom holding me before the porch of 424.)

I know why my parents moved from the Modena apartment (bedbug infestation combined with financial need) to Whitford; but why the move shortly after to town I don't know. The "big house", as they called it, in Whitford appears to be large enough to accommodate two families, in fact, was probably larger than 424 Washington Avenue.

The Whitford house was where my mother grew up, so it had been my grandparents long time abode and was near to my grandfather's own family roots.

They didn't own that place either. It was actually part of the George Thomas III estate. The Thomas family was one of the original settlers of the area and one of its most prominent families. I do not know if George Thomas choose to end the renting of this property or if the move was somehow related to the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Perhaps the beginning of the war in which my father would serve for several years prompted changes. (Photo right: my mom as a child at Whitford.)

We all lived in that house throughout the war years. I made two close friends on the block, Iva  and Bill. Iva was to remain a friend for always, but Bill moved away about the time I moved to 424 the second time and eventually we lost contact.

Why a second time? Why did we even move away from 424 a first time? Easy to explain, the war ended.

My dad had been in the South Pacific most of those first years at that 424 address. He got his discharge a couple years after the war ended and returned home in 1947. He got his first job as a long distance truck driver that fall, driving milk tankers for a man named Hines. A friend of his had told dad the company was hiring, but not to tell Old Man Hines he knew mechanics or he would never get outside the garage. Dad got the driver job instead at $100 a month and the house in the swamp.

There was this old home, half brick and half stucco, with scaffolding along one side, owned by the trucking company. It sat back from the highway, surrounded on two sides by a marsh, with a cornfield up the hill behind and a cow pasture to the East. Hines let dad live rent free because he was a returning vet, and thus we packed up our meager belongings and moved from 424 Washington for the next two years. (Photo right: me at the house in the swamp, 1948)

That house in the swamp was to have a great impact on my life and personality, but that is a different story. This one is about Washington Avenue.

So how did I get back there for the next five and half years of my boyhood?

Easy, my dad changed jobs for more money. In late 1949 he began driving for Atkinson Trucking; goodbye Hines, goodbye house in the swamp.

My folks moved back in with my grandparents at 424 Washington.  At some point a bit later, a house up the street became available for rent and my parents moved there. 417 Washington was a double house next to a Quonset hut of a garage, a business selling farm equipment. (And yes, during evenings or Sundays when this store was closed and empty, I did sneak next door to play on the tractors in the lot.)

That is a picture of 417 Washington taken several years after I lived there as a child.


I think Washington Avenue sticks with me so much in my memories because I lived there in those growing years. All the adventures of my boyhood are centered on that street, both good and bad. My best friend, Ronald Tipton, lived on that street when I met him. Our grade school was across the street from my home. 424 also means more to me than 417, probably because on weekends, when my dad came home from his trucking runs that kept him away from Monday through Friday, my parents sent me down the street to stay with my grandparents so they had alone time. (Photo right: 424 Washington.)

Eventually I will tell more tales of life on Washington Avenue.









Monday, December 5, 2011

Eagle

On Sunday morning I went to bellevue State Park to take my regular walk. As I got out of my car and started across the parking lot something flew across the sky ahead into a grove of trees to my right.

It looked fairly large, but I only caught it out of the corner of my eye, so I thought it might be a hawk. We have had Peregrine Falcons land in our backyard a couple times this year and you sometimes see hawks standing atop the lamp post alongside I-95.

I turned on my camera as I walked off the lot onto the road starting my walk. As I rounded the first trees I saw a large bird perched on a branch and still thought it was a hawk, but as my route brought me nearer I realized it was much to large for a hawk.

I stopped at the wood edge and thought, "That's got to be an eagle."

I stood there filming and the bird either didn't notice me or wasn't concerned about me if it did. A car went past, which you can hear in the background of the video, and I stepped a little further off the road. At this point the eagle flew up to a high limb on another tree.

I didn't want to bother it, so I went on my walk. I walked, round trip, about three and a half miles. As I retuned along this stretch back to my car I didn't see the eagle anymore. I assumed it had flown off to where ever these eagles go while I was on my little jaunt.  I got in my car, but as I left I saw the eagle was still in these trees. It had just moved a bit further back into the trees and was sitting happily on another branch.

I am not sure what kind of eagle it was. I know Bald Eagles lived in this area. This one did not have the white head associated with that breed, but it could have been a young one. They don't develop those distinctive white heads until more mature, around five years old or so. What ever it was it was majestic. When it flew it was like watching a cargo plane take off, large and slow, although it was probably faster than it appeared. I repeated the portion where it flew in slow motion so you can see the motion of the wings and their span.

Last fall the family and I went out to dinner one night and an eagle flew out of the woods directly in front of my car. This was on I-95 not far from home, which is this same region. The bird came so low and sudden I feared I was going to hit it, but it pulled up enough to just clear the car roof. My kids kidded how it would look if I had killed the national symbol.

I wondered if this was that same eagle.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

With the Speed of Now Impossible to Play

I'm feeling my age this week. Angry Assassin Arthritis did a hit job on my right foot. The problem with Mr. Arthritis is he doesn't come by once to stick a knife in. He hangs about and keeps twisting the blade. I haven't had an attack for a while. This one was very vicious, I guess to make up for Arthritis long neglect. It began on Tuesday evening in my arch and it was scream-out-loud painful by bedtime.

At 11:30 I hobbled, with grimace and groan, out to the kitchen to pop some pills, in this case Ibuprofen, not the pill of my choice, but the ones available. The fix of my choice would have been Tylenol Arthritis, but you can't get it. It was the only stuff that really worked for me. The Ibuprofen eased the pain some, long enough for me to get to sleep, but it was back full-bore in the morning and I have been popping pills all week, alternating between the Ibuprofen and Aspirin with one hit of Motrin thrown in by the mercy of a co-worker. (Yeah, I have been working this week at my on-my-feet-all-day job.)(

The two days I was off I managed my walks, too, because you can't give in to the Assassin  or next thing you know you give up the walking; you find this excuse or that.

The pain almost went away on Friday and in fact, it left my arch entirely by Friday evening, only to sneak into my big toe and ramp up again. So I took my two Ibuprofens a half hour ago and the pain has lightened and I expect to take my morning amble, but man I am feeling all of my years physically right now.

But last week I was feeling age in a different way. Now I am going to start off sounding like an Old Foggy rambling on about the "Good ol' days of yesteryear," except my yesteryear is more like yesterday.

I've got about 200 CDs stacked up on racks next to my desk. I used to listen to my music all the time as I wrote. For some reason I got out of that habit earlier this year, but last week I decided I wanted to hear my music again. I plopped on my earphones, selected a CD and placed it in my CD player. Silence and the message on the player said, "No Disc".

No disc?  This silvery round thing with the hole in the center looked a lot like a disc to me. I understand sometimes a smudge upon the surface can wreak havoc. I pull the disc out and examine it. There does seem to be a something maybe perhaps there. I wipe it across my sweater and plop it back in the machine.

"No disc."

Okay, I'll try a different singer and a different song. I put this new choice in and close the lid. Whirl, whirl, and the number 01 shows in the window and then, "No disc".  Hmmm. I pull out this disc that apparently doesn't exist and look it over. Ah, yes, definitely something stuck along one edge.  I take it to the kitchen sink and wash it, dry it and return it to the player all pristine and clean, and assumable presentable.

"No disc."

I go to a higher authority, my wife. "Hon," I ask, "have you been having trouble with the CD player?"

She has her own cache of CDs, especially Bon Jovi and The Who, which she does exercising to. She uses the player much more lately than I have.

"Yes," she says.

Tat settles it. She wants her exercise beat and I really do wish to listen to my music. I grab my hat and head out to purchase a new CD Player. Yes, the current one has some years on it now and obviously it has worn itself to a frazzle and cannot perform its duties up to snuff anymore.

First stop, fully expecting it to be my only stop, is Target. I'm looking for cheap, truth be told. I go straight to the electronics department, you known that place one dominated by TV sets, but now a vast warehouse of cell phones. I go up and down aisles, over and over as if some stock clerk might have hurried out to restock, but no CD Players anywhere. There are iPod Docks and MP3 gizmos and for some reason a lot of alarm clocks, but no CD Players.

Now it is down the highway to a Best Buy.

I figure the most logical place to start is the section selling CDs. Wouldn't you put CD players near what they play? I wander about. They have a bunch of karaoke machines (why for heaven's sake!) but I do not see a CD player. Finally I do see a sales clerk, so I ask.

"Sure," she says and leads me off.

We wind our way across the store. "They keep moving things around," she says.  "I think they are over this way."

We have moved over to the far flung sections of the store, over to the desert where once computer software ranged. This is the land of the endangered species and sure enough at the end of an aisle are CD Players.

I thank the clerk and wander into the aisle expecting an array of various CD players to pick from. Ha, there are no CD players down the aisle. No, what there is is only on those shelves on the very end of the displays. I have my choice of ... of... one!

One, and there aren't many of that one left either. I buy the one, an Insignia. It's compact. It has a CD player. It has an AM/FM Radio receiver. It has...well, that is what it has. There is no tape player as my old player had.

Let that be a warning, I think. The tape cassette is gone, gone the way of the 8-Track or the record (vinyl) of the wax cylinder. Soon the CD will also be gone and so will the means to play them.

It is speeding up. Their use to be some manufactures slogan (they are probably gone now too) that said, "Tomorrows Technology Today!" I think the new slogan must be, "Today's Technology Yesterday!"

When I was a little boy my parents had these records. They where about ten inches in diameter with a little hole in the center. They were called 78 RPM records. When I got a little older I got my own record player for Christmas. It played these things about six inches in diameter with a large hole in the middle called 45 RPM Records. Next came the 33 1/3s, which were about twelve inches across and back to a small hole in the middle. I built a large collection of these various records over the years. When I got married we bought this nice Fisher Hi-Fi Stereo

That Fisher lasted a long time, but we had lightening strike one night and it blew out that stereo. I bought a new record player and noticed something. It no longer had a 78 RPM speed. Those old records could not be played.

Then we came to a time we could't find nettles. Then we couldn't even find record players.  I am not talking some long ago, I'm talking less than 20 years here. Cassettes were ruling. (8-tracks kind of come and went quickly.) Now the tape players have disappeared and the CD players are becoming rare.

I am not against progress and new technology, but I have a lot invested in my music collection. I have about 2,000 33 1/3 Album representing a broad spectrum of American music as well as hundreds of 45s and 78s. I had dozens of tape cassettes and as mentioned, 200 CDs. I don't ask time to stop, I simply ask they keep the old technologies around my lifetime so I can still enjoy the media I have.




Friday, December 2, 2011

Roger in the Hospital (really Ronald)


When we graduated from high school, my best friend, Ronald decided to join the Armed Forces, but discovered he had a double hernia. Before he could be accepted he had to have this repaired and went into Chester County Hospital for the operation.  There were complications, incisions coming open and he caught a contagious infection that placed him in the isolation ward for a period of time.  He was a very sick puppy. The contagious ward was in the basement of the hospital and to visit him you spoke through a window too the outside.  It was very surreal to be kneeling on the ground talking to my friend through this wire barrier over the windows. He complained to me there were two babies in the contagious ward and they took turns crying.  I wrote this piece at that time. (The photo is a more recent of my friend on another hospital visit, not from those dear dead days so many decades ago.)  [This story also appears in my All the Monsters in My Mind blog of short fiction as part of the book, Wilmillar and Other Towns.]

ROGER IN THE HOSPITAL

by
Larry Eugene Meredith



I am behooved to tell the sad tale of my good friend, Roger Walters. I must say it sent a pang of deep regret to see him lying on a hospital bed (of course also a great deal of jubilation that it was he and not me). His face was pale, not at all its normal wallpaper paste white (it was encouraging to see some color in his complexion.) Then, a-sudden, he stared from his bloodshot optics to the ceiling in fright, something that sent terror through me as well, for he was lying on his stomach at the time.
A look of unparalleled fear contoured his face. He stopped in mid-breath, froze in this position. And then the sheet was pulled over his head and face.
He was hiding from the spider on the ceiling. Oh, the sufferings my friend has suffered since he went to the hospital for a routine operation.
He went into the operating room that day back in June with the fear of having a sponge left in his lower regions. He was assured doctors are careful and keep a specific count of the equipment they insert. His confidence was indeed shaken when a dreaded discovery was made after surgery. They took out one more sponge than they had put in.
This was indeed strange for Roger had one other operation in his whole life. He had his tonsils removed when a boy by Doctor Hiram Hickle, better known as Old Doc Butterfingers.
One afternoon the floor nurse walked in while Roger was hanging the doctor (in effigy). She was rather angry about this. Roger was not supposed to be out of bed that soon. She told him to ring her if he wanted to hang any more doctors. The nurses would be delighted to help. In fact, they would even supply the doctor.
Roger’s new doctor was extremely gentle. He claimed to have magic fingers. This made Roger quite happy, but he still didn’t want his back rubbed daily.
Roger was in and out of the hospital three times since the initial Herniatum neresursum gapduplicisum (which is Latin for double hernia operation, I think, but what do I know, I flunked Latin – curse you, Miss Horner), a total of thirty-two days, four rooms and two floors. He was becoming quite annoyed at receiving recall notices in the mail, especially when one came with an infectious infection.
He spent more than a week in the contagious ward, stuck between two babies who worked separate shifts. Such crying...and have you ever seen a grown man cry? It’s terribly embarrassing. For gosh sake’s, Roger, pull yourself together.
The nurses in the hospital are against him for no good reason other than he attempted to push the head nurse out the window. The other patients are mad at him because he didn’t succeed. That was when he was on a higher floor. The contagious ward was in the basement (closer to the morgue for convenience). It’d be kind of silly and fruitless to push someone out a basement window. What are they going to do, fall up? Besides those windows had wire cages around them so no germs could escape.
They discovered he was allergic to penicillin, but this wasn’t what needled him. His main complaint was they kept giving him blood tests.
“ Blood tests?" He said. “They took so much blood one time that I lost ten pounds.” If you saw Roger in those days and he lost ten pounds; then you wouldn’t see Roger.
They let him play the radio, but drew the line when he wanted to practice his Sousaphone.
He almost got drowned right after his third operation. During the procedure there was a call claiming a bomb was hidden in the hospital. When they noticed that Roger was ticking they threw him in a tank of water. Roger probably would have drowned if his surgeon hadn’t asked if anybody had seen his wristwatch.
After his fourth operation, he was told to go home. And that is the end of Roger...in the hospital, that is.

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