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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Jim Fogarty and Paul Gimbel - A Visit With My Two High School And College Buddies

Two Tamaqua deejays spun a few tunes for me.
Note the custom mechanical jukebox.
Two Coal Cracker Corvette owners.
One time Jim said to me -
Can your imagine me in a van?
I drive a Honda van.
I was sitting in the Tamaqua Train Station with Lulu and her aunt Dolores. Suddenly I got a message from Paul Gimbel. He said he would pick me up and we would go to lunch. Perfect. When he arrived - he announced we were going to Jim Fogarty's house for lunch. Jim's wife Mary Beth offered up a great lunch and we accepted.

Paul and Jim are legends in Tamaqua. The 50s - 60s - and 70s - belonged to them. They were some of the brilliant people that chose to live and die in the Tamaqua Area. They paid their dues.

Jim Fogarty sat behind me in many of my high school classes. Paul Gimbel took over that role at Kutztown State Teachers College. They were a big part of my life. Some of you may re-call - they also entertained Tamaqua on weekend as DJ's at WSVB-FM in Dutch Hill. They were full time colleges students but came home to Tamaqua on weekends to provide 12 hours of live programming every Saturday and Sunday. The skills they gained served them both well as educators. Paul was an Communications teacher at Lehighton. Jim was a principal at Schuylkill Haven and eventually the director of the Schuylkill County School System.

Jim has a beautiful home. We sat in his basement man cave for a few hours and just relived the past. We played records - talked cars - and reviewed our lives. Everything picked up right where we left off almost 50 years ago. We talked about our kids - and even some grandkids. There was no agenda - just stream of consciousness - from three 70ish old school marms.

Everyone has a success icon. To Lulu - it is a cement pond in the back yard. To coal cracker guys - it is a Corvette in the garage. Jim has a beautiful 1966 Corvette roadster in his basement. It is in better than showroom condition. Not be outdone - Paul showed me a phone picture of his 1964 red Corvette. Jim graduated from THS in 1966 - Paul in 1964.

Jim and Mary Beth's home is beautiful. But things that impress me would not get a second look from others. What impressed me most was Jim's heating system. He has a tiny furnace that runs on propane gas. The are 10 pumps and copper manifolds that send hot water to different places. Each room has a 3 inch concrete floor with copper tubes in it. Each room has its own thermostat. But the best part is zones running under the outside sidewalks and driveways. The heat melts the snow and ice of a Pennsylvania winter. No need to break your back shoveling snow or falling on an icy sidewalk. Jim always did/does a thorough job.

At our ages - you never know which visit is your last one. But you know - this one was a perfect ending. I love seeing these guys and hearing how things turned out.

Paul - my chair - Jim
He who has the most toys wins.
Can you imagine me in a Corvette?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Another Gary Shiver Well-Built Home

My old crew - Joe Shiver - Gary Wayne Shiver -
Gary Shiver - home owner Brian
Large plantation porch - metal roof
It has been 3 years since Gary Shiver built our home. He only builds 3 or 4 a year. He never advertises - he gets jobs by word of mouth. He has been doing it this way for 40 years. What a business model!

This home is being built in northeast Tallahassee. Brian - the owner - is a computer technology specialist. He came to Tallahassee from Seattle. He found out about Gary Shiver from other customers. He checked out our web page at -

Gary's homes are all custom homes. The owners do the planning - Bill Richardson puts it down on paper - and Gary and his crew builds on a handshake. After 3 years - we are amazed at how well thought out our construction is. We discover neat little details all the time. 

Brian's home is one story with spacious high ceilings. It is built on a tall concrete slab. It has a giant separate garage and its own well. The garage holds 4 cars. 

The house has a metal roof with SucraSeal foam insulation. It will not have gutters and has wide eaves for runoff. 
4 car garage 
The Side of the house facing the garage - note
the private double deck -
indoor and outdoor

The garage has a side door for yard tools
They plan a pool
Joe Shiver is a saw expert. He does most
of the cutting - down to 1/32nd of an inch
A nice big glass door to the big open living room
Look at this living room
The master bedroom has a wood ceiling -
also glass door outside
Note the skylights
Note the overlapping metal roof

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Country Home in Tamaqua's New England Valley Sold For $38,000

House sold for $38,000

Original Story read by over 6000 people

Harry Note - My friend and former student Ben Turrano is a Realtor. He showed this house to us in January when we visited family in Tamaqua. I wrote a story about it - the story that became my top read story on my web page - over 6000 hits. I have been writing on this web page since 2005 - 12 years of active publishing.

Here are the results - the house sold from a person reading about it on my web page.

Ben wrote this to me. I asked him if I could publish his letter. He said okay - but do not publish the buyer's name. Here is the letter -

Good morning! 
I was just waking up as I heard you and Lulu hop in the car and begin your trek homeward. I peeked out the window as you hopped in the rental car.

I was sorry to have missed you this trip but hope to connect again in the near future.

Wanted to thank you for the Blog article on Lori's old house, it connected me with a buyer from the Valley who ended up buying the house for $38,000 cash and plans to rehab it for his son, daughter and new grandson. He is in construction and estimates the home needs between $20,000 to 30,000 in repairs and upgrades - materials costs only as he is doing his own labor where possible. He seems pleased with the house. XXXXXXX from midway between us and Heislers on Valley Road. His son XXXXXXX saw the facebook share of your blog and called me setting things into motion. I asked if he knew you as a student, and he did not - the information simply came to him through social connections. Amazing media. I should have offered to take you to lunch as a thank you. Next trip perhaps. 

Real Estate is picking up as it typically does this season, but prices in the Tamaqua area continue to be depressed - even disappointing. Soon to be known initiatives should help stem the tide of economic decay. At times I don't know whether Tamaqua is a patient on life support or has been zapped back from death... I do know the heart is good and that's the key. 

Lots of spring and summer projects ahead of me. Want to plant a garden and begin demolishing that shed in back of the house for the replacement. Know that if we make it a studio guest house, you and Nancy will always have a place to stay during your visits. Perhaps a close alternative to her old bedroom a few points of GPS data removed.

I'd like to make some headway on the 65 Beetle this year as well as get my dads 37 Buick running. He has it so close, I think only a carb and master cylinder are needed. Sadly he never drove it in the 4 years he owned it before he died.

Melanie has some ideas for outside which include a firepit, new bilco door for the basement and man door on the garage. I may have to put windows in the garage too. At 90 years old - those things look as if they'll fall apart if we get a good storm.

Best as always to you both. Safe journey today and always.
- Ben

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Melissa Johnston - Receives Top Research Award

Melissa Johnston - left - one of Lulu's top doctoral students is now a professor at the University of West Georgia. She recently got the award for top research at her university. Melissa is an expert on school libraries. She previously taught at the Universities of Kentucky and Alabama.

Friday, May 12, 2017

David Funeral Home - Tamaqua PA

Our buddies Dick and Jan Davis used to run this funeral home. It is on the banks of the Schuylkill River in Tamaqua PA. The last time we visited town - we considered buying it interning into a Bed and Breakfast. It is a very nice building with lots of promise.