YouTube, The New Frontier



I touched on the coming age of television in my last posting about wanting to be a  young boy again.  It was an exciting time for the visual medium.   The future for television was wide open.  The first monumental task, at least in its technological development, was to master turning the pictures from black and white to color.  That really didn’t happen on a mass production basis until the 1960s.  And, just as it did in the 50’s when TV was replacing the popularity of radio, there was a whole new surge in sales as people purchased color sets to replace their old B&W ones.  Then, if we stay in the technology end of the business, the next huge leap came with high-def flatscreens.  What’s next?  Who knows!

And what about all the stuff people were watching on television?  That too went through an incredible evolution that was highlighted by endless benchmarks along the way, such as Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation (one of the first things I remember watching on TV), to baseball games and other sporting events, to live drama, to the Kennedy’s and King assignations, to Lee Harvey Oswald being shot, to Roots, to Nasa rocket launches and moon landings, to the Olympics and I am sure tons of other events I can’t begin to list.  The medium of television has been pretty remarkable and as Marshall McLuhan wrote, it itself became the message.

And now we have social media, which I think has stolen more audience hours from television than anything to date.  And while it’s taken me three paragraphs to get to where I’m going with all this, I cannot help but think that YouTube has become a dominant player in the field of visual mass media.

Now, I admit I am a bad example because I do not watch very much television anymore.  I spend most of my time looking into my computer’s monitor and, lately, a lot of that time has been spent watching YouTube.

YouTube is as fascinating to me as television was when the box with the little 11” picture tube first took up space in our livingroom.  What is special–and different–about YouTube is its access.  Anyone can participate, from oddball weirdos to professional brainiacs, to amateur and seasoned performers.  They are all here and in abundance.

I have repaired three major appliances in my house simply by watching how-to videos on YouTube.  I’ve torn half of my 22-year-old refrigerator apart while following step-by-step instructions presented by repairmen who volunteered sharing their knowledge on YouTube.  In fact, if they weren’t available for free, I would have probably replaced my beast of a coldbox by now.  But hey, it still works great!

Meanwhile, if you want to be entertained, YouTube has it all, from individual wannabe’s to well-established stars.  If you like music you can pick your genre and watch an endless variety of performances. If you want to watch everyday people doing everyday things, or things extradinary—it’s all there on YouTube.  I could not believe I spent over an hour the other night watching self-made videos of boyfriends executing their plans to pop the question on their unsuspecting girlfriends.  And if you like tears of happiness, there’s a string of homecomings of Amerian soldiers and sailors showing up unexpectedly at a child’s school or a mother’s workplace.  If you’re into sports you can watch some of the greatest, most hilarious, most outrageous plays in baseball, soccer, football and probably even ping pong. Wait, I just checked…yep, plenty of table tennis videos to watch.

collageIf you like tradition, there’s plenty of  that on YouTube. You can watch traditional ceremmonies, tradtional speeches, traditional people.  If you like a twist or turn, there are videos for that too. Example, I watched a great interview with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Lawrence.  No, there was no entertainment reporter hosting the interview.  It was just Adam sitting across from Jennifer as they asked each other about their careers, movies they made, criticism they’ve taken and the entire challenge of acting.  It was better than any “movie star” interview I’ve ever watched.

adamJenI could go on and on, there is so much variety of experiences on YouTube that so accurately represent who we (us humans) are and how we function and what we mean to each other. YouTube is a whole new universe to explore and if you venture through its cyberspace you will be taken places and feel things you’ve rarely, or even ever, have experienced before.  And that is a key word:  experience.  YouTube is indeed all about experience.  But be careful, it can be addictive….though not to worry too much, you’ll find plenty of addition videos on YouTube to help you cope.



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MKKIDI want to be a boy again when I felt secure and taken care of and all I had to worry about was doing what I was told, trying my best at school and trying not to break anything.

I want to be a boy again when I spent hours playing outside.  I would pretend I was a cowboy or a soldier or just about anything I wanted to be. I want to ride my sled down the back alley that sloped enough to get you going so fast you worried about a car coming in at the very end.

I want to be a boy again when I was dropped off at the Saturday matinee and there was a Duncan Yo-yo contest before the  movie got started.  Sometimes the winner got a Schwinn bike which was a pretty  big deal.  Then we watched Looney Tune cartoons and a feature movie like a space adventure with Flash Gordon. And then we had to wait a whole week to find out if Flash escaped from the Martians.

I want to be a boy again when TV was a wonder and only a few families on the block actually had one. The hour before dinner they showed the Howdy Doody Show and Clarabell the Clown always soaked somebody with a seltzer bottle. And after that was Stagecoach Theater and you hoped dinner wasn’t ready early or else you’d never find out if the bank robbers got away and what about the rancher who had all his cattle stolen and rebranded so he couldn’t prove they were his.  But then, you knew Hopalong Cassidy would figure it all out and the bad guys would be hauled off to jail.

I want be a boy again when things weren’t already built up, but being built.  It was when we’d get our wagon out of the garage and go up and down the blocks above us where the new houses were being built.  All the workers had gone home so we could go through the wood framed rooms and look for empty soda bottles. Each one was worth two cents.  If we were lucky, we’d find a quart bottle.  Those were good for a nickle.  We’d take the bottles to the Acme supermarket and rake in our haul, then spend it on candy before we left.

I want to be a boy again when I came down stairs on my birthday and there was always something colossal like a new bike or a trip to New York.  One year among the presents was a white shirt with all the airlines’ logos on it.  I wanted to be an airline pilot and this shirt was the first article of clothing I ever gave a hoot about and when I wore it I was an airline pilot.

I want to be a boy again and go to summer camp and ride a horse, sail a boat and learn to swim. On Friday night we’d watch a movie while sitting on a blanket in a grassy area and have a Hershey bar with almonds.  We watched an old movie projected on a stretched out bed sheet.  When the movie was over, we marched back to our cabin in single file holding a flashlight to light the path.

I want to be a boy again and look at the big pictures in Life Magazine when it arrived each week. I also watched the mail slot in the front door for whatever prize I got for sending in the box tops from breakfast cereals.  At Christmas time there were a half dozen toy catalogs that came in he mail and you’d spend hours going through them, circling the toys you wanted. Then every August, Popular Science Magazine would have the coolest of the new cars on its cover and the car was always loaded with the latest technology.  The mail came in the morning and during Christmas it came twice a day to keep up with the greeting cards everyone sent to each other.

I want to be a boy again when we always did something on the weekends as a family, whether it was a road trip to some farmer’s market or shopping at the new and only enclosed mall where every fall we got new clothes for school. Or we’d go to a museum and I was bored or to the zoo where I wasn’t.

And I want to be a boy again so I can be with my parents once more, in their prime when I thought they were the smartest people on earth. Just about everything they did was for the benefit of my brother and me, although we had no idea at the time. They made sure we got the basics and more and when we didn’t appreciate it and acted out they taught us about guilt and discipline.  We learned to balanced the two.  I remember rare occasions being spanked when I really did something major, like dropping the F-bomb when I was eleven. I had no idea what the word meant except the older boys playing basketball in the schoolyard said it a lot so I wanted to be cool like them…but not after I said it once to my Dad.  But mostly, I want to be a boy again so I can tell my parents how much I loved them, how much I miss them and just once more could we have dinner together.

I want to be a boy again so I have no responsibilities except to follow a few rules, share, and don’t hit anybody. It was when I didn’t have to worry about money or my children or my wife and a bunch of other grownup stuff.  It was when peace of mind was more present than it would ever be for the rest of my life and I had no idea at the time how cherished that would be.

I want to be a boy again so in a few years I can fall in love with my Rosemarie all over again. Young love is a stage of life like no other in that it consumes your whole being and your emotions will be at a level of sensitivity never to be experienced again.

I want to be a boy again when life was simple, life was easy, life was happy and thoughts of it all being over were somewhere else far, far off in the future.



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A Yellow Crowned Night Heron stopped by the house.

Certainly more welcomed than a live-in mouse.

My wife told me there were two of them yesterday.

I guess one has flown off and gone some other way.

This one was looking a little lonely standing in the rain.

I ran to get my camera hoping there he’d remain.

He must have known I wanted a picture, I suppose.

Once I had my camera there he stood, striking a pose.

He let me get off a few shots and then got bored

He spread his wings, took flight and off he soared.

Now, why a night heron was out in the day, I surmise

Is because I could not have gotten a picture otherwise.

However, there remains one item that’s still a blur.

I really don’t know if this heron was a him or a her.




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Well, it’s election time around these parts. We have a ballot full of judges coming up for election at the end of August. I already got my mail-in ballot this week. And along with it there’s been a load of oversized campaign advertisements stuffed in my mailbox every day.  How timely that they should all arrive right when my ballot does!

I have never given Judges much thought—I haven’t had to hang around in a courtroom very much in my lifetime—but I have to think they must hate having to campaign.  It’s so un-judge-like.   I think of them like some meds I have to take. I really want a pill that works hard in my favor when I have something gone wrong.  But don’t ask me to spend any time reading about medicines to any extent unless I’m in need of one.  Judges must be like a pill you have to swallow when you’re sick (in court) and need help. Otherwise you couldn’t care less.

So here are all these stereotypically stuffy black-robed people running around the neighborhood posting signs on walls, banging them into roadside patches of dirt and rushing off to the post office with stacks of 8-and-a-half by eleven post-cards touting what a gift they are to the great American judicial system.

Speaking of direct-mail, the stuff these guys and gals send out, they are ridiculous. They all must have watched the same How to Make a Direct-Mail Ad for Your Election Campaign video on YouTube because they all sent out virtually the same card. These clones even have the same “Vote by Mail, Early or on August 28th” line prominently appearing somewhere on their post card.   They all have a meaningful pitch line like “Deep Roots in Our Community,” or “Endorsed by the Sun-Sentinel & Our Community Organizations.” Of course there are always pictures of them appearing judgmental in their traditional robe and then a few with the family, including the dog. I wonder if the dog is really theirs or if they rent one from the photographer’s studio.

The pity of all this is that the voter more than likely takes these cards and tosses them into the trash, hardly taking a glance at them unless there’s nothing else on the table to read while they’re eating a bowl of puffed wheat.  No one wants to take the time to read all this stuff just so they can decide which judge to vote for. Most people are simply apathetic about voting for a judge and don’t want to take the time to study whom they should vote for. Our democracy not at work, at least when it comes to judges.

I don’t know how to remedy the situation.  Most folks have never heard of these people. Most don’t want to spend time learning about them unless, of course, it’s Judge Judy.   Now Judge Judy has to run a totally different kind of campaign. She just has to keep her ratings up and she’ll keep winning every year. Maybe more judges have to get their own TV shows if they want people to vote for them. There could maybe even be a channel with nothing but judge shows 24/7, all judges all the time. Attorneys would spend a fortune buying time to run their commercials. Hey, I may be on to something there. Yeah, I know, go tell it to the judge!


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DARE I SAY IT? …Ice Cream

frenchhornSMI was thinking about ice cream the other day….well actually, I think about ice cream just about every day. I realize that may sound a little weird, but those who know me know that ice cream is my favorite food. I haven’t talked about ice cream in a long time.  Soooo….it’s time, right?  Right??  By the way, the French Horn is my favorite ice cream picture.  It’s a real toot!

There was one place I worked for a few years that had nothing decent for lunch nearby. I usually didn’t get lunch anyway because the job was demanding and haagendazstaking time to get in the car and drive someplace was just too time consuming. I got in the habit of walking across the street where there was a small, poorly stocked convenience store that had at least one thing I’d eat: Häagen-Dazs ice cream. So I’d buy a pint and take it back to the office and eat it while I got back to work. That was lunch…often! I wonder what my cholesterol levels were back then.

When I was a kid, ice cream was sold in several ways that don’t exist anymore. Loose was one way. By that I mean, you’d go to the corner “Luncheonette” that sold ice cream cones.  There, you could order a loose pint of whatever flavor you wanted. It would then be spooned out of a five gallon round cardboard tub much like ice cream is sold at traycone stores today.  The clerk would use a wide, flat spade to spoon the ice cream into a paper tray like the one pictured and then weigh it on a scale. Then a piece of light wax paper was smooshed on top of the ice cream and the whole thing then went into a brown paper bag and off you went—fast—so you’d get home before it melted.

Later, packaged ice cream came in square (pint) or large rectangular (half-gallon)
bricks wrapped in thin cardboard. The ends had locking “tongues” like a bakery box. In college a friend and I would buy one of these big bricks of ice cream, take it back home, open all the sides and lay them flat on the desk. Then we’d sit there with spoon in hand and work our way through the brick until it was finished. It was basically two pints each. You didn’t want much after you polished that off…at least for an hour.

carvelThose Carvel cakes (the ones that cost more than the birthday present your bought) used to originate from drive-in type stores or those in strip shopping centers. The cakes were not the main item then. Like Dairy Queen, cones of soft ice cream were the attraction at Carvel back then. They also had an incredible chocolate “log” in the display freezer. This was a foot-long round concoction of cake and ice cream made to look like a log. Three big maraschino cherries on top if I remember right. Forget about the “whale” Carvel sold…the log was to die for

bryersBreyers, when I was young, was the favorite brand and it may still be yours. Not mine. The company was sold years ago. I think Sealtest first bought it. Despite the company saying the ice cream would never change, that concept melted away faster than some of the Breyers flavors do. That’s because there is more air left in the ice cream, plus the amount of butterfat in some flavors no longer qualifies the product to be called “ice cream.”  Note the label on many Breyers packages now reads “frozen dairy dessert.”

One of the biggest developments in the ice cream business over the past 50 years was the introduction of Ben & Jerry’s. This is a high-end, high-quality ice cream like none before. The company gave their flavors quirky names and overstocked them with big chunks of fruits, nuts, chocolate pieces, etc.  Then  it had the audacity to become socially (human) and cow (animal) conscious. They share their wealth with those who need it and don’t use cream from deprived, manipulated, substance infiltrated cows CHUNKY2or corrupt and mismanaged dairy farms. Ben and Jerry took an ice cream making course at Penn State and then opened a store in a deserted gas station.   The rest, as they say…is history, although Ben & Jerry’s was sold a bunch of years ago and, so far, there haven’t been any notable changes in concept or quality. If you’ve never had Chunky Monkey, I suggest you need to run out right now and get some.

Lately there has been an explosion of new brands showing up in the freezer display at the supermarket, all competing for your attention and your stomach. Ice cream is much like pizza. Everyone has their own particular flavor and brand that they favor. Me? I’m not fussy. Even bad ice cream will most times beat rice pudding or tapioca…does anybody even make that stuff anymore?




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So here’s something you may not know about me: I almost flunked woodshop? Yep, back in junior high (what they call “middle school” these days). I was excited when I first walked into woodshop. Instead of a desk, everyone got to sit at a little workbench. Cool! And then you got to play with real tools—saws, hammers, screwdrivers and manly things like that. I was going to have a great time…until I got the “practice piece.”

The practice piece was a rectangular block of wood about six inches long, three inches wide and an inch thick. Everyone in the class had to complete an initial exercise with their practice piece before they could actually begin working on a real project. For me, things went downhill from there.

Everyone got their block of wood and a set of instructions. You had to plane and sand the block to very very very specific measurements. Then you had to put a bevel edge all around the top. When you completed the task, the teacher checked your finished product with a micrometer so he could see if your measurements were correct all the way around every edge…down to the millimeter!

This is the time I first began learning certain things about myself that my mother and father never told me.  They weren’t even mentioned in the operating manual they gave me when I was born. It seems I lacked certain mechanical skills. Odd! My father was an engineer, a draftsman who drew up blueprints in very very very specific detail. Wouldn’t you think I would have inherited some of those skills?

Anyway, I got to work on my practice piece and the first thing I noticed was how difficult it was to achieve the proper measurements consistently all around the block of wood. I’d get one side right, then screw up the other. To make a long story short, I went through at least a dozen or more practice pieces trying to get it right. I never did. Week after week I’d plane and sand, sand and plane; take a little off here, then oops, too much there.

Meanwhile all the other kids were busy working away at building birdhouses and bookcases and cool stuff like that. I kept planing and sanding, sanding and planing. The teacher finally passed one of my pieces with a “D” which was probably for “dimwitted.” But as far as I was concerned there was no doubt about it, the entire episode was child abuse, right out of the child abuse manual that my parents didn’t give me at birth.

I told you this story because it kind of explains how the kitchen got flooded last night.  I was attempting to remove the broken icemaker from the refrigerator and install a new one. Boy, you should have seen all the water.  It was like a firehose had opened up full blast.  Water was everywhere before we finally got to turn off the water main outside.  Then it took forever to sop it all up. Lucky thing I had a Wet Vac.  That sure helped.

For sure, it was an experience I will never forget…just like my practice piece in woodshop. I don’t need to bore you with the details of the great flood and how it all happened.  But it proved once more that by the time you reach my age one should accept what one is capable of doing…and not.  Nuff said.




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Well, here I go again looking at the door.

I know I’ve been down this road before.

Like the glass of water question posed

Is the door half open or half closed?

I have said most of what I have to say.

True, there’s always more another day.

But the words grow weary and unfulfilled.

The blog is stagnant, not what it was billed.

Write it and they will come is what I heard,

A premise I’ve found artificial and absurd.

Yet I’ve kept it going, though slowed its pace.

It’s not the elixir it was when I joined the race.

So what to do with it is what I’m wondering.

Taking a sabbatical may be worth pondering.

Or I could just walk away, actually call it quits?

Cut it outright or fade it out in little bits.

I just don’t know; I have such mixed emotion.

I never anticipated it causing me such commotion.

If I end it, should I take the time to say goodbye?

I don’t want some swan song sung if I let it die.

Maybe this is just some kind of passing phase

I’ll get over it, just give me a few more days.

I hate going through all this yin and yanging,

But for now I’ll just have to leave things hanging.


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Annap1So let me take this space to tell you briefly about my Annapolis, Maryland. Its famous, picturesque habor is displayed on a large lithograph that hangs on one of the walls in my house. Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay are my most favorite places on earth; have been since the 1970s when I first visited Maryland’s historic capital. I lived and worked in Washington, D.C. at the time, which is only an hour’s drive from the little colonial
seaport that is home to the United States Naval Academy. It has its main street, like all small towns. The one is Annapolis is called Fleet Street.   It is narrow and climbs a steep hill line with the usual shops and sights.


There are a good number of restaurants. As you can imagine, they all feature fresh fish and blue crab specialties usually plucked the same day from the almost curbside Chesapeake Bay. Oysters are not to be forgotten either….hamburgers are. There are a collection of eclectic coffee shops and book stores, along with spaces filled with gift shops, hardware and boat supplies, homemade ice cream and handmade jewelry.

Most everyone, both native and visitor, eventually hangs around, at least for a while, at the city dock. “Quaint” and “charming” come to mind when I think of Annapolis. It’s a good feeling being there. Goods things happen there. Bad things don’t.

City Dock is a narrow slit made of concrete walls that cuts in from the inner harbor and slowly narrows to an abrupt end just short of a brick walkway and the landmark general marketplace. If you’ve come by boat and are a little lucky, you can find an empty slip to park your tug, but good luck on a summer weekend.


Annapolis is a boater’s town, make no mistake about it, from the slave ships that arrived regularly up until the the Civil War, to today’s luxorious so-called raghaulers and stinkpotters that compete for their 30-to-40 feet of bay water and dock spaces that line the shorelines of hundreds of meandering tributaries and inlets. The annual fall boat show in October is so massive it’s divided into two weekends, one for powerboats and one for sail. When we lived in Washington the sailboat show was a major date that my wife and I held open each year, making sure we had it locked in with our employers as a vacation day as early as January.Maryland State Capitol is seen at dusk above Main Street Annapolis, Maryland

The Maryland State House, where the State’s legislature meets, was built in the 1700s. It’s white dome pokes up from the treetops, well above most everything else in sight. When I covered news events, I sat outside the State House one bitter cold winter morning waiting for newly re-elected governor Marvin Mandel to make his inaugural speech. He was inside being sworn in, which, as I remember it, took about three days—or at least it seemed that long because I was the coldest I’d ever been. At one point I picked up the recently poured cup of coffee that had been sitting on the table with my recording equipment and when it got to my lips I discovered the coffee was rock-solid frozen…just like I was.

I was to have much more exciting days in Annapolis a few years later when we owned a small sailboat. That’s when I fell in love with the Chesapeake Bay, its beauty and incredible pirate-infested history. It defies change and development, much of its panorama appearing as it must have hundreds of years ago.

There is a certain romance Old Sailboat On The Sea 3D Illustrationand exhilerating euphoria when one is on a sailboat motoring its way out of crowded Annapolis harbor until there is enough room to turn off the engine and raise the sail. The boat begins silently slicing through the water and one’s childhood imagination takes over as you embark on a day’s sailing, heading off to Maryland’s famed Eastern Shore in search of buried treasure once left there by none other than Blackbeard himself.

And now, I suppose it is difficult to exit Route 50 as you follow the signs to Annapolis, no longer sensing this same kind of excitement and fantasy in mind. No, that is all lost for now, and perhaps forever, thanks to the sad times in which we live. Times when the intentional mass murdering of innocent people is becoming far far far too familiar an occurrence.  Our beautiful country has become petty and politically divided,  Its infrastructure is decaying before our very eyes and the wonderment of anticipating the life it once promised for most of us–especially the respect for life–has all but vanished. It is difficult to set sail for the adventures to come…I sense more troubled waters ahead for all of us.







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I have been away for over ten days. This trip was particularly challenging because of something I noticed shortly before I left. It would worry me endlessly even though my son was home to keep an eye on it. What it was, was this puddle outside my house. It was right where two water-related fixtures were located. One was the humity drain pipe from the air conditioner handler inside the house. The other was where the main waterline from the curb joins the main water line from the house. Both of these plumbing fixtures are located on the front side of the house in a row of hedges, the surface of which is covered with river rocks about the size of ping-pong balls.

A day or so before I left, I noticed the water level was not receding down under the rocks in a two-foot area. Having had a front lawn float away at one house and the water pressure drop to a drip at another, I was familiar with underground water leaks and what a surprise they can be. Meanwhile, the drip, drip, drip of the AC discharge pipe was supplying a good amount of water where the water table was suspiciously high.  That’s because we had a daily monsoon for the past six days. One thing that was consistent was the puddle. It rose to just before the point where it would spill out over the bed of river rock and then onto the driveway.

So, what could be the proper diagnosis, Dr. Plumber?

(A) a water table too high to absorb the discharge from the AC…or

(B) a slow leak underground were the main line came into the house.

I had a plane to catch so it was too late for any further study and too early for calling the shot, let alone calling the plumber who I knew would be chomping at the bit if he had to grab a shovel and start digging. I could hear the cha-ching ringing in my ears.

Consequently, all the while I was away, I had visions—and, oh yeah, an actual dream—of the house sinking into a big sinkhole, the roof barely peeking out over the edge of the driveway. The car, of course, was still in the garage, Bill The Dog was still in the kitchen and my cherished collection of antique tabletop radios were crumbled and crunched in the corner of my office.

“Science,” as they say, was the answer. I experimented when I got home. I put a bucket under the AC drainpipe to isolate its water supply. If the water level dropped beneath the rocks, then I could assume the water table was simply too high from all the rain and the constant dripping from the AC was enough to sustained the puddle in the rocks. If the puddle remained, then it was time to grab a shovel and start looking for the underground leak

I suppose I could let you hang and not disclose the answer, but if you’ve made it this far, then you deserve to know. It was the butler in the library with the–no, just kidding. It was a too high water table. Once I isolated the AC water the rocks surfaced and the puddle disappeared. I attached a four-foot tube to the AC drainpipe and “redistributed” its outflow to a more absorbent location. Lucky me, it only cost me few bucks for the tube and a clamp…plus ten days of fretting about the whole ordeal that made me, as Gabby Hayes used to say… plumb-tuckered out. Hmm, do many of you even know who Gabby Hayes was?


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Road Trip


I am on the road, up north again in the state of Pennsylvania. We are attending a niece’s wedding. On Sunday we head for the town of Margate on the New Jersey shore. But for right now we are far, far away from the swaying palm trees and turquoise waters of South Florida.  We are in the small rural town of Carlisle, in lower central Pennsylvania, about twenty miles southwest of Pennsylvania’s capital of Harrisburg.

This is territory rich in American history, especially the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.  And, yes, this is yet another location where Washington slept and it was a stop on the underground railroad that shuttled Southern Negros north to escape slavery.  Carlisle itself is a beautiful, quaint mini-metropolis plopped in the middle of farmlands, much of which are cultivated by Pennsylvania’s famous Amish population. The town features endless rows of business operations and residential properties.  There is little that is new here, except what has been renewed and updated.  Many of the buildings date back as long ago as the 1700s.  Some pictures…


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