Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

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

-- Larry E.
Time II

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Kid Stuff

Dog days of August. We did some car trips. On the 2, mom came with us up route 340 to the Gast Classic Car Museum in Strasburg and had dinner at Joe Myers Restaurant out on the Lincoln Highway. Like a lot of places from my past, both are gone now. Joe Myers Restaurant changed hands at some point and it is now Lapps Restaurant. Gast Classic Motorcars Museum is simply gone the way of the Stanley Steamer.
Seems as if we escaped to Dutch Country a lot in my life. My grandparents would take me there as a child. Back then it was mostly farms, windmills and Amish. You couldn’t go on many a road without being slowed to one horse power speed by a Amish buggy. The tourist business gradually seeped in exploiting these strange Plain and Fancy folks. The tourist spots grew and grew and the simple life the tourist came to see dwindled and dwindled. It used to be a quite ride, then a pleasant diversion. Lois and I were up a week ago and it has become a nightmare. Man can’t be trusted in any Garden of Eden; he eventually ruins it.

On the 23 we were at Dorney Park, a large amusement park near Allentown, Pennsylvania. It has been in existence all my life. My folks use to take me there as a child. Of course, it predates me by a bit. Solomon Dorney began converting his trout hatchery over to a public attraction way back in 1860. When I was a kid there was no waterpark added yet and the central attraction was a rickety wooden roller coaster, which I have never ridden. 
My fondest memory, however, is of the park's envy arcade. They had these machines that dispensed old cowboy movie scene on postcard sized cardboard. They were a penny a picture. Except for old coots like myself most people probably wouldn't recognize guys who were once big stars, Hoot Gibson, Bob Steel, Tim McCoy, Johnny Mack Brown, Ken Maynard, Lash Larue, Whip Wilson and others.
The yearly Wilson Family Reunion came on August 26 in 1990. It always fell on the last Sunday in August.
A big elm tree fell over against my neighbor’s house on August 30. It didn’t do much damage, thank goodness. It basically just leaned up against the rain gutter on the side of their house.
This was the year Laurel went to her first slumber party at a friend’s house. Several other girls were invited. Laurel is the girl on the far left of the top row.
She had a great time; however, the next week she was sent home from school. She had lice. For someone of my generation that is a statement of out and out horror. When I was a boy in Downingtown having lice was a disgrace. I was told to stay away from certain kids because they had lice, which meant they came from a dirty home. I remember kids with shaved heads because they had lice. Last thing I ever wanted to hear was my girl had lice.
It didn’t seem to be as big a deal as when I was Laurel’s age, at least, it didn’t carry as much
stigma. We were told to get this stuff from the drugstore called Rid. We had to shampoo her hair and use a very fine tooth comb to scrap out the nits. It was a lot of work and Laurel cried a bit.  We had to wash everything in sight, too. The school sent a paper home announcing lice had been discovered on a student and everyone should check their child for the bugs. I don’t know who had the lice, but I hope the girl was cured. Of course, maybe the infestation was in the home of the party host.
The remainder of the year was typical. We dropped the kids at my parents while we celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary. My mother gave a large dinner party (13 people) on October 30. People attending included Lois, the kids and I, George and Ethel Garnett, friends of my parents, Dot and Elmer Lentz, long time buddies of my father, and one of my oldest and original friends from Downingtown, Iva Darlington and her husband, Olin Seivers. On the 29th, my parents came to Laurel’s horseshow. Laurel won a second, two thirds, a fourth and two fifth places. Thanksgiving was at my parents. They came on the 3oth to see Darryl take a karate test. On December 9 we celebrated Noelle’s birthday. (Despite the tree in the background, this photo was of Noelle’s birthday.) My parents were there as was Evelyn Weinmann, whom my mother kept spelling as Wineberg. Christmas was at our home and then…
Just like that it was 1991.
Noelle came home one day and told us the Bonavita’s cat had kittens. “Can I have one?”
What can you say? We had allowed Linda to give Laurel a cat a couple years earlier. You need be careful not appearing to slight one child over another. Yes, Noelle could have one of the kittens. She brought home this little gray Tabby and named him Tigger.
Tigger was very much Noelle’s companion. He looked for her and he slept in her bed at night. For some reason Darryl didn’t pester us for a cat. I had no reason to suspect what was coming later in the year, how the flood gates would open or should I say the cat gates.
On January 16, the United States declared war against a brutal, thug dictator Saddam Hussein of Iraq over his invasion of Kuwait ( or is it Quwait, and why in the world did they start calling it Cutter). This little to-do in the Middle Eastern desert would have ramifications for us in the near future as well. The ground war began on February 23.
Back on February 23 my Uncle Ben was taken to the hospital. He had fell and now had a broken collar bone and cracked pelvis. When visited at the hospital his arms were wrapped because he had skinned them and they were badly bruised. He remained in the hospital until February 17.
It was also in the chill of February that Darryl went to tryouts for Little League. He was 7 years old, but since he would be eight before September he was allowed to try and make a team. Our first barrier was his birth certificate. It was required to produce his certificate to prove his age and I duly showed up with it, except it wasn’t his birth certificate. I always thought it was, but it was a certificate given by the hospital, not his official document. I would later discover I had the same problem. I thought it would be difficult, especially since Darryl had been born in Pennsylvania. I anticipated driving to some government bureau in Harrisburg and getting bogged down in red tape. Amazingly, it was relatively easy. I made a phone call, got a form sent to me, paid $10 and within a week had the proof I needed. It would become even easier years later when I needed to obtain my own. The internet existed by then.
Darryl went to tryouts and he was drafted onto a team in what was called the instructional league. His team was the Orioles. This was certainly a step up from T-ball, but still a training ground for first time ball players. Darryl was a catcher, exactly the position I had when I first started playing ball as a child. It was kind of ironic. Usually you saw heavy kids in the catcher position at this age. You might have expected to see the kid to Darryl’s left, the only kid taller than he on the team, in that position. I believe that boy broke in at first base, a position Darryl would star in a few years later. (Despite his height, Darryl was one of the youngest kids on the team.)
It wasn’t a great challenge being a catcher in the instructional league. He didn’t have to signal pitches to the pitcher, because there really wasn’t a kid pitcher. One of the three coaches lobbed the ball in and all Darryl really had to do was keep it in front of him when the batter missed, which at this age usually was the case . There was also no base stealing at this level.
Actually, there was a kid placed in the pitcher position and a few times that was Darryl. The photo on the left was taken of him looking like a fierce pitcher. Like I said, he didn’t pitch any balls toward the plate. He mainly stood over to the side and a bit behind the Coach, who was lobbing the pitches, and try to field any chance hits that came up the middle of the infield. At this level these were few and far between, but that was good, because at this level fielding was also close to nonexistent.
But Darryl was enthusiastic about playing, while all I could think was “one more thing I got to get him to”.  It was getting jumbled. Three kids in karate three times a week, Laurel taking weekly horseback lessons, Darryl in Cub Scouts and now also Little League Baseball. Oh, Noelle, beside Karate, she had joined a Brownie Troop. (Noelle would turn 11 in December 1991, then she would graduate up from Brownie to Girl Guide, that’s my little blond bombshell on the right.)
Let me get this off my chest while we’re on this particular subject. As mentioned a bit earlier, I was Treasurer for the Cub Scout pack. You can toss in my mix of getting kids around the pack meeting, the den meeting and planning meetings for the officers. One of the things that came along was fund raising. I’m not a big fan of fund raisers as a parent. There was always something to peddle and parents with children would tote a lot of this stuff into work to sell. Usually it came down to, “You buy my kids offerings and I’ll buy yours”, which meant we parents were actually doing the buying. We already were doing much of that, of course, shelling out a good bit so our kid didn’t look too bad. In m childhood there were very few of these. There were some, like selling seeds in Grade School, but nothing like in the 1990s. We had fund raisers for Cub Scouts, Karate, Horseback Riding, School, Chorus. Little League and the one which took the cake, or should we say, the cookie, for me was the Girl Scouts.
There was an aspect to fund raising I didn’t care for besides turning small children into door-to-door salespeople. Let’s call it, “Who gets the benefit.” In the presentations the kids did, but in reality they got very little of the take. Most went elsewhere with a good chunk to the manufacturer of the product. We Cub Scouts sold popcorn and believe me I did not think our share of the proceeds was very satisfactory. I looked at our budget and figured out we could charge each Cub $10 a year and cover our expenses. I did not think $10 a year was a great handicap on anyone. Most were spending more on the popcorn anyway.
My feelings were intensified when I became the Cookie Mother for Noelle’s Girl Guides troop. Yeah, you heard right. I had a little saying about our family:
My son was in the Girls’ Club, my one daughter was in the Boy Scouts, my wife was a Road Runner, I was a Cookie Mother and my other daughter wore combat boots. We were one mixed-up family.
Let me explain. When both my wife and I were working during Darryl’s younger years. We had to put him in an after school program at the Community Center. The after school program was run by the Girls’ Clubs, so Darryl spent a couple years in the Girls’ Club. Laurel as a teenager got interested in the justice system. The Boy Scouts ran a program for teens on jurisprudence. Laurel had to join the Explorer Scouts to enter the program, which she did. They had speakers and lessons on the law and court system, even taking the Explorers to Wilmington’s Court House to attend some trials. I already told about my wife being the Road Runner mascot for the kid’s grammar school, so that just leaves me to become a Cookie Mother.  That is Cookie Mother, not Monster.
Somebody had to do. None of the moms stepped up and Lois was tied up with her job, so I volunteered. Seemed simple enough. Sent in the cookie orders. Receive cookies. Distribute cookies as sold. Record each Brownie’s sales. Collect Brownie’s customer money. Send receipts in. Okay, here is the reality and how it worked.
The Troop decided how many cookies they believed we could sell. Once they determined this I sent the order to the Girl Scout Councel cookie liaison. In about a week our stock of cookies was delivered. We were a small troop, but it was still a lot of cookies. We stored them in one mom's garage.
When you ordered you had to put down a quantity of cartons. Thus you received cartons
filled with individual boxes of cookies. Each carton contained a certain type, like Thin Mints in one carton, Trefoils in another carton and so on. We as a troop had to pay the council for every carton we ordered and opened, whether we sold all the individual boxes or not. If a carton was unopened it could be sent back, but if we had to remove one box from a carton to fulfil an order, then we had to pay for the whole carton. When you see Scouts standing at a table outside your favorite supermarket, they are selling off their left over stock, which they had to pay for. If they can’t sell it, then their troop probably loses money. The local troops get very little of the proceeds anyway, so pretty much have to sell every box to make anything for themselves. The biggest chunk of the monies for sales flows to the Girl Scout Council confers, out of which the cookie maker gets a good slice.
Our goal was to get enough profit that our girls could go to camp. We had two girls in our troup, sisters, although their last names were different. Their mother had a different last name from the girls as well and all had different names than the man their mother was then living with. These two girls sold the most cookies of any in the troop. Each girl alone outdid every other girl. However, all the other girls collected from their customers and brought the money in. These two girls collected the money, but didn’t bring it in. Their “parents” spend the money of drugs.
Well, there went the troops camping trip money. We were in debt to the Girl Scout council for those cookies. The Council Liaison was coming to me for the payment. I wasn’t going to pay it. The two girls and their “parents” disappeared. Last I heard the Girl Scouts were pursuing them. The Girl Scouts don’t let people get away with such things. They want their money. I believe these people were caught.

I didn’t volunteer to be Cookie Mother next time. Too much drama for me. If I want this stuff I’ll watch “Cops”.

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