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Friday, December 02, 2016

Christmas in Tamaqua PA



Our good friend - Don Serfass - posted this picture of the Tamaqua Train Station. The train station was vandalized and set on fire in the 19880s. There were calls to tear it down. But a group of Citizens led by Ken Smulligan - made an effort to collect money and get state grants to restore it. Now it is a beauty mark in town and the pride of the community. Every time we return to town - we have supper in the station.

Tamaqua and the Station are at the intersection of Route 309 and 209 in Schuylkill County - Pennsylvania. Tamaqua was the center of the railroading and Anthracite coal industry. The Florida Coal Cracker grew up and spent the first 55 years of his life here. Lulu was also raised one mile from here.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Dick Davis Roots For The Seminoles at Grand Truckee Nevada



Our great buddy Dick Davis was here for the first Seminole game of the year in September. As you can see - he is a convert. His family was meeting for Thanksgiving in Nevada - and he surprised "niece-granddaughter-aunt" Jessica who likes the other team. I love the picture and obviously Dick does too. They look like a typical half-breed brother/sister family here in Tallahassee. The Seminoles pounded the Gators 31-13 - and have now beaten them 4 times in a row. But the Gators have the last laugh - they get to play Alabama next week in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta. We can hardly wait and will be cheering for the Gators :-)

Florida State 31 - Florida 13 - The results bring up a few neat possibilities


BEFORE


DURING


AFTER

Back in the old days - the Florida at Florida State game usually decided who was going to be in the national championship game. Things have changed a bit - but it still is exciting for the people in Florida. Florida State has now beaten their two biggest opponents - Miami and Florida - 4 of the last 4 years straight. That has never happened before. Yes - the Noles are 8-0 against these two in-state rivals. They can retire the state trophy after 4 years!

But with a season record of 9-3 - the Seminoles are not even in the playoff picture of the ACC championship. That belongs to Clemson and Virginia Tech. FSU is also not even considered for the 4 NCAA playoff births.

The Florida Gators are 8-3 - and ironically after this 31-13 pasting - they will play Alabama for the SEC championship next week.

Our day was an effort of pacing ourselves for the big game. You know I am old when we turn down a pre-game dinner at the Dawsons - to catch some rest for the 8 PM start. At 5 PM - we had a light supper in front of the TV - watching Penn State and others on big rival Saturday.

At 6:30 PM - with no tickets - we drove across the street to pick up George and Joel Dawson - and off we went with our parkas and blankets. We have a new way to our special parking place - we travel through Florida A&M University campus - bypassing all the traffic on Gaines Street. At 6:40 PM - just 10 minutes from home - Joe was guiding us into our reserved slot - a bargain at $30. Last time - Joe had given us free parking and 2 free great tickets - so it was about time we paid the freight.

By 6:50 PM - we were at our favorite ticket begging spot - right outside the 50 yard line. I was really surprised at how many tickets were available and at reasonable prices. The face value was $125 - which I think is obscene for a college football game. But one nice fella came to me and had 4 tickets together on the 20 yard line - row 13. One was on the aisle - but I kinda like that. He wanted $80 each for them - but with a little talking - and me playing the old age card - he settled for $40 each. George was just about to buy another pair about 40 feet away - and I yelled - George stop! We arrived at our seats at 7 PM - a full hour before kickoff.

Doak Campbell Stadium holds 81,000. They announced a crowd of 78,000. They play it loose with attendance figures. I would say there were easily 5000 empty seats. I wish they would honestly announced attendance - as people in the seats - or people that paid and stayed home. The fact that in Florida you can legally sell tickets for any price - has kept prices low. People are not afraid to sell extra seats. It drives the prices down for me.

Temperature was already down to 59 - we enjoyed the festivities - but were very happy we brought the wool blankets. Lulu wanted a seat back - a $10 premium. So I got one. George and Joel carry their own.

I had 4 cokes tucked in various pockets. They search kids for booze going into the stadium - but let us old folks breeze by. Little did I know that Lulu had snacks stashed for everyone.

It was a good game. FSU's freshman quarterback was spectacular. Dalvin Cook - the junior running back broke all FSU running back records for yards gained and touchdowns scored. Floridas daunting highly ranked defense could not stop the Seminoles.

The temperature dropped to 48 - there was no wind - but a clear sky can suck the heat out of you.

We got home by 12:20 AM.

Winning this games sets up an interesting situation. Florida State will probably end up in the Orange Bowl which is played Dec 30th in Miami. Penn State could possibly be our opponent. It would be so much fun seeing all our old Pennsylvania buddies on a warm evening in Miami. Lulu has already booked 3 hotel rooms just in case.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Josh's Antique 1980 Jeep CJ7 Goes From a Barn in Alabama - To A Full Frame Off Restoration


Dr Josh Gross - car builder

1980 Jeep CJ7 - 304 V8 - 4 speed - dual exhaust
New Jeep license and title


I meet Josh at a party about 10 years ago. We had a lot in common. Our wives are library science professors at FSU - we are trailing spice. We love rhythm and blues music - weird cars - and gadgets. Josh's real job at Florida State is a psychologist. He serves students every day. 

Josh has always talked about getting a Jeep CJ some day. He scans the Craigslist pages constantly. One day he listed a tractor for sale. No one wanted to buy it - but one guy offered a trade. So Josh ended up with a Polaris ATV - sort of a Jeep but not legal on Florida roads. After playing around with that - and trying to sell it - he tried a different angle. He offered the Polaris as a trade for a Jeep CJ. 

A guy in Alabama said he had a running Jeep sitting in his barn that came with the property - it did not have paper work. Of course I warned Josh many times about getting stuck with an un-registerable vehicle. I warned him that he might be buying stolen property. But Josh took the risk. 

This 1980 CJ7 Jeep is a rare bird. It has the stock 304 V8 engine in it. It also has the 4 speed transmission and stock dual exhaust. It has a little bit of rust - but nothing that can't be repaired. The frame is rock solid. The Jeep spent most of its years in Louisiana and then later Alabama. Now it is a Florida car.

Josh got a bill of sale and an old registration card in the glove box. He called to Montgomery and found a nice lady in the DMV who did a little computer search. The Jeep was legit and registered recently. He had the local police examine it and take the numbers. Josh took the letter from the police and the letter from the Alabama DMV to the Florida Tag Office. Wednesday - I got a single solitary picture from Josh of the new license plate and title. Mission Accomplished.

A company called JeepRehab.com in St Augustine specializes in frame off restoration of Jeeps. If I heard correctly - it is going to cost about $7000 for a complete makeover. All new seats - dashboard - body work - paint - tires - wheels - belts - hoses - wires - etc. Josh is going round and round about what color it will be. He has a chart of the original paint colors for 1980. I liked tan. 

In Florida - if a car it 30 years old - it can be registered as an antique. 

Josh and Melissa live on a private lake just 20 miles north of Tallahassee. I am guessing this Jeep will have a spot under their carport for a long time. 

This antique CJ7 is going to JeepRehab.com in St Augustine
and will receive a frame off restoration -
these are the "before" pictures
The barn find - has the stock 304 V8 engine - 4 speed -
and all numbers match - body - engine - transmission
It will get news seats - new dashboard - new paint -
new wheels - new tires
AMC 304 V8 engine - 125 horsepower
Jeep currently sits in Josh's car port - but soon
JeepRehab.com will haul it to St Augustine
for a full frame off restoration

6 ½ Members of the Gross Family Have So Much To Be Thankful For


Max - Cassie - Zack - Rachel - Melissa - Josh GROSS
and The Pies

Lulu loves holidays. I am sure her favorite is Christmas - as I type she is out there slugging it out on Black Friday. My favorite was yesterday - Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for - and there is no pressure to buy gifts to prove it.

Josh and Melissa Gross are special friends. Melissa is a professor with Lulu at FSU. Josh also is a psychologist at FSU - but he is my partner in crime with craigslist and trading cars. Add to his skills - in spring he tests for his black belt in karate  - and 50 years of Blues guitar playing. He may truly be the "most interesting man" from the TV commercials. 

They are the first family of culinary artistry. Food to them is a way of life. Max and Cassandra graduated from the Culinary School of the Arts in Hyde Park NY. Melissa truly wears the crown as the best cook I have ever met - Lulu will heartily agree. Everything is made from scratch right down the the salad dressing and the catsup. So when you get an invitation to their place for dinner - it is better than going to the President's Box in Doak Campbell Stadium. 

Their home sits on a lake about 20 miles north of town. It is an eco-friendly lake - no gasoline powered boats - no hunting. Our dining table was maybe 40 feet from the shore. One of Lulu's favorite TV shows was the Waltons. The setting for our dinner was a long table - in front of a stone fireplace - with the lake view out thru the Florida room. The kitchen and living room form one homey setting. Good night John Boy. 

Two big news items - in 3 weeks Max and Cassie are opening up a restaurant in Quincy FL. The restaurant is on the Town Square directly opposite the County Courthouse. They will specialize in Farm to Table food. We are excited to tell everyone to take the short drive to Quincy over US90 West - and try their wonderful food. The other big news is that it looks like there will be a 7th Gross at the table next year. Rachel and Zack are expecting. 

Dinner was at 5 PM - the sun was setting over the lake - the pies were arranged in the Florida room. Of course - we wished we were up north with our Everhart 9 - but they are coming south for Christmas. We were honored to be in the Gross Family for a day. 


Two special friends of ours - Dr Josh and Dr Melissa
8 Different Scratch Pies
Turkey - Ham - Even Lulu's Potato Filling

The Gross Specialty - 8 different scratch pies

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sandi Jimmerson MLS - Returns To FSU - First Time Since She Got Her Masters - Celebrates Her New Job

Ruby Diamond Auditorium
Last weekend Sandi Jimmerson drove the 5 hours to Tallahassee after teaching a full day of classes at her new library at Citrus Ridge: A Civics Academy.  In 2009 - Sandi earned her Master of Library Science degree at Florida State. She was selected to participate in Project LEAD from a long list of applicants. The committee was selecting exemp
lary teachers that showed high leadership qualities. The Federal IMLS program was designed to take these proven leaders - and turn them into school library media specialists that are school leaders. It was a full scholarship.

Read Sandi's Words on Scholarship Here

Sandi was a geography teacher for 15 years. She was very popular with students and her fellow teachers. When the Project LEAD opportunity knocked - Sandi answered. Most of the graduate level courses were taught online - although some classes were offered in the summer on campus in Tallahassee.

This fall Sandi took a new job opening up a brand new library in a brand new school. She can see the Disney EPCOT ball from her school. 

We have been pestering Sandi to come visit campus and go to a football game. She chose the Boston  College game weekend because it had an extra day due to Veterans Day. 

It was a full weekend. She stayed 3 nights in our guest room. Thursday FSU won  a girls basketball game for her. Friday night was the FSU v Boston College football game - another blowout. We were lucky - someone gave us 5 FREE tickets to the game - just 5 rows behind the BC  bench. Next was a special screening of "Citizen Soldiers" in ruby Diamond Auditorium. Finally - FSU boys basketball defeated Jacksonville State. 

Girls Basketball
Neighbors George and Joel Dawson came along
The Governors Mansion
Library Girl with the kids
Chief Osceola from our seats
Our seats at the game
The jackets are not replicas - they
belonged to our kids in 1988 -
the year Lulu went to FSU
A visit to the Tallahassee Museum
Making butter at the museum
Tallahassee Museum is a historic park and zoo
Our seats for boys basketball
Checking out the Library Concession Stand

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Our Visit to Jimmy Carter in Plains - Americus - and Callaway Gardens

Lulu - Roslyn - Jimmy - Harry - Mount Rushmore


Lulu and I decided we would make a holiday visit to Plains to see President Jimmy Carter teach Sunday School. He no longer teaches in his boyhood church in downtown Plains. About ½ mile north of town is a small country church where he regularly teaches the Sunday School lesson. 

We arrived at our Americus Hotel at 3 PM Saturday - just in time to watch Florida State Seminoles beat Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. After that - we went to The Rylander Theatre just down the street - to see "Miracle on 34th Street." We got 4 row middle seats for $10 each. The Rylander is a really nice old theatre. The town of 17,000 is lucky to have it. After the show - we went right to bed - we had an early show on Sunday morning.

We woke up in our Americus hotel called the Windsor. It was building 1892 and was completely restored in 2009. The rooms are authentic with modern conveniences. The rooms still have high ceilings - oak doors - shutters - period piece oak furnishings. We got up at 5:30 AM - even though the church was only about 10 miles away. We stopped at a McDonalds for "to go" breakfasts. We wanted to get to the church first and get a low number. As we pulled into the parking lot - we were given number 31. Then we sat in our van until 8 AM when the doors opened. We had to line up like grade school kids - the Secret Service searched us - and we were inside and seated by 8:30. People continued to arrived right up until Sunday School at 10:00 AM. Everybody got seats in the main sanctuary. 

During the time we were seated - there were several helpers that reviewed protocol with the crowd. We were told what we could do and not do. Cameras were allow up until Jimmy started his lesson. The President asked crowd where they were from - there were many states and countries represented - after that - cameras away.

Carter delivered a very positive and humorous lesson. The crowd was spellbound including me. It was like history playing out before me. The former president talked about the installed array of solar panels on his property - 1.3 megawatts - more than enough to power Plains. It is not a big town. His degree is in nuclear science. He talked about how they removed his solar panels from the White House when he left. 

Lulu and I were lucky. Two seats in the front row became available and we quickly jumped to them. Jimmy entered through a side door - and I was not aware he was there until he stood up. 

Sunday School started at 10AM - then the regular church service was at 11 AM. For the church service - we were in the front pew directly in front of the pulpit. Jimmy and Roslyn sat one row behind us and to our right. If you wanted a picture taken with the couple - you had to stay for both services. Most did. 

It has been a long time since I went to Sunday School - about 50 years. Things have not changed much. I knew all 4 hymns they sang. They collected money during both services - God must need lots of money. It was very comforting seeing the many traditions of my youth still going on. The church is very plain - no pictures - very generic stained glass windows. It had a piano and an organ - each in opposite front corners - sometimes they played together. 

President Carter asked many questions of the crowd to keep the people involved. Generally they were leading simple questions. He talked about being on a ship in the Pacific in 1945 - and tuning in to listen to San Francisco radio. He asked the crowd what was the main topic that interested him on that radio. After the longest pregnant pause - no one answered - I had to blurt out "United Nations." He said "correct." The United Nations was founded in San Francisco in 1945. Jimmy was always interested in World Peace. That was the extent of my conversation with him.

President Carter is now 92. He looked trim - had a little of a hearing problem - he stood unsupported for 45 minutes. He still works with Habitat for Humanities which has its headquarters in Americus GA - right by our hotel. 

Tonight - we are in Callaway Gardens. They have a light show and trolleys to take you on a tour. We had a late lunch in downtown Pine Mountain - across the highway from the gardens. 

Windsor Hotel - Americus GA

Notice the slanted steps going up to our room

At one time - it was the only phone

Lobby fireplace

Soda fountain off lobby

Our room 329 - it reminds me of
staying at Mom's

Picture of hotel taken from Hylander Theatre

Lulu found the Christmas tree

Our hall in the hotel

Get me  to the church on time - 6:30

Portapotties in the church parking lot at sunrise

Lulu was number 31 in line as the sun rose 

That is my Sunday School seat. A full house.
The church only has 30 active members.
The rest were from all over the globe. 

Jimmy carved the collection plates

I thought the "JC" stood for Jesus Christ



Sunday School with Jimmy is a must see.
Will a president ever do something like this again?
It is 40 years since he was elected. 

President Carter

He was 3 feet away from me. I could smell his peanut breath :-)
How was just as gracious as one could be.
If Jesus would return to earth - he would be like this man.
Secret Service was not very secret