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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How About This Beautiful Country Home Just Outside Tamaqua in New England Valley for $42,000

Beautiful single home for $42,000

living room

I lived in Tamaqua PA for 55 years. We raised the kids there - Lulu and I taught school there for 30 years. Every chance we got - we would hop into the car - bus - or camper - and head to Florida for vacations. Even short 5 day weekends - Thanksgiving - Christmas - Presidents Day - Easter - were often were spent after a 15 hour drive down I-95 - usually to Orlando and Disney World. In 1980 - we spent a year in Orlando where Lulu earned her Masters. In 1988 - it was another year in Tallahassee where she was awarded her Doctorate. 

Lulu's sister lived in this New England Valley home. Her mother and younger brother lived nearby. 15 years ago - Lori was raising her small family in this beautiful small home. When she moved she sold the home. The buyer must have gotten in over his head - because he abandoned it a few years ago. The house sat fallow. Now the bank has placed a price tag on it of $42,000 - free and clear. The house has really nice bones - but it needs - plumbing and heat. I toured the home and the roof seems to be pretty good. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Coaldale Number 8 Mine This Morning

Entrance to Number 8 Deep Anthracite
 Mine in Coaldale PA
My Dad - Harry (Happy)  Everhart - spent 25 years working in this mine in Coaldale PA. The entrance is remarkably close to Route 209 - the highway I commuted to work for 33 years. Today it is off limits to the public. They are still taking Anthracite out of that area - but they use big machinery to just remove the overburden.

Bob Ciavaglia heard that I wanted a picture of the old mine entrance so he got this beauty today.

My father lived in the company town of Seek as a boy. He did graduate from Coaldale High School in 1934 - and went right into the mine to work. He stayed there until it closed in 1959. He took a job at an assembly plant near Philly for 15 years. He died of Black Lung in 1982 at age 66.

Dad also played the piccolo in the Coaldale High School Band and the Coaldale Victory Band. Although Dad lived many years in Tamaqua - he always listed his hometown as "Seek - the capital of Coaldale PA."

In 1952 - he paraded in Harry Truman's Inaugural Parade with the Victory Band.

Thanks Bob for the great picture!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Barbara and Tom Versailles Wedding Cake Train Yard

Barb and Tom Versailles - South Tamaqua PA

Last week Lulu and I visiting Richmond - Washington - Hegins - Tamaqua. We like to see as many people as we can. We were only there for 48 hours - and saw so many people. But one that I was looking forward to the most was the home of Barb and Tom Versailles - and their fabulous train yard.

When I was a kid - Tamaqua was a big railroad town. Not only were millions of tons of coal taken out of the area - but many trains passed through town on the way to New York City and Philadelphia. On Christmas - every kid had a train yard. Usually it was just a 4x8 sheet of plywood up on two saw horses - with brick colored paper around the bottom. Others were more ornate - some kids had enough room to leave it up all year. To me - the joy was setting it up and building it. I remember the boxes smelling like an odor one can only replicate today at Harbor Freight. It was intoxicating.

When I heard that Tom and Barb set up a yard for the grandkids - I had to see it. While Lulu was visiting with the Cousins 4 - I sneaked down to South Tamaqua by Leiby's to enjoy a couple hours of friendship. Barbara graduated at THS with me. I recently saw her at the 50th class reunion - a yearly event that she helps plan and manage.

We call it a Florida Room down here in  Florida - but up North it is a closed-in porch. Tom had limited room - so he designed the most clever "wedding cake" layout. It is a series of 5 train yards stacked on top of each other - held together by gravity. Each layer has a different motif. Some are O gauge - others are HO. When Tom fires them all up - it is a roar one never forgets. Everything stays on the track - it is just a Coal Region work of art.

We sat at the kitchen table - had tea and cookies - and just gabbed about our parallel universes. We all love being with the kids and grandkids. We talked about jobs - schools - travels - hobbies.

Tom is a little older than me. He graduated from Marian in 1962. Funny how he looks so much younger. Barbara was always this tiny young lady with the latest and nicest wardrobe one could imagine. Not flirting Tom  - she still has the prettiest blue eyes - and carries herself well - how is that?  I did not know that when Tom was a boy he lived about 10 houses up the Lehigh Street - where the Hotsko Family lives today. Next to the Tamaqua Tulip House.

We visited many more people on this  trip up - but they are separate stories

Five layers of trains
A couple of teenagers in their Florida room

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Christmas Holidays for the Everharts - Together

Liz is a city planner - but everyone got into planning
Plasticville Tamaqua 
Hot dogs and a camp fire - nothing better on the mild
December night
Down on the farm - Green Acres is the place for me

I have had a writer's block trying to figure out how to describe Christmas 2016. When you are old and senile - the last one is always the best one. I am afraid if I put my feelings about this Christmas down on paper - it will somehow evaporate. It was just oh so good. 

For the first time - the Everhart 9 - got to all meet and celebrate on Christmas Day. Of course - since Max (Number 9) is only 6 months old - it was his very first Christmas. And he did not disappoint. 

Lulu loves Christmas. She loves to buy presents and decorate. She loves to cook for everyone. These are the same things her Mom and Grandmothers did. Lulu's tree is laden with ornaments that she has collected through the years on her travels. One day - I am going to do a story with pictures of each ornament - an OCD guys dream :-)  We have a 9 foot tree that we can take up the attic and store standing up - without decorations of course. 

My favorite and coolest present of all - will be a separate story. It is the best present I ever got. I cried and cried over it. Watch for that. Another neat present - going along on the OCD motif - is my energy monitor. Liz and Keith got "us" a device that you put in your circuit box. It constantly monitors your electricity use - and sends the data to your iPhone. I loved watching the power consumption go down when turning off appliances. It drives Lulu wacky.

I build a train platform. When I told the kids about it - they asked if I would not do the train layout or village until they got here Christmas Day. What more could a grandpa ask for - having all the kids and grandkids enjoy a tradition my Dad started when I was born in 1948. I even have some original plastic houses that are 68 years old. 

We had 6 full days together - traveling around in the van - visiting the Tallahassee Museum - eating at Sonny's - baking cookies with Mum Mum - emptying stockings - playing with trains and slot cars - going to FSU games - kids doing the zip lines - adults out alone - meals together - playing in the yard -  having a hot dog roast - and picking everyone up at the airport in the van. It all just buzzed by.

We just loved being all together. You hate when they must all pack up and go home - back to work - back to school - back to up North - back to the routines.

Although one feels that the problems we have are singular to us - millions of Americans have the same problems. When we were kids - everyone lived and worked close by. When I was a kid - my grandmother was down the street - and she cooked a hot meal for me for 12 years when I came home  from school for lunch. My one sister was just across town my whole adult life. My other sister was about 90 miles away. Lulu's grandparents lived behind her childhood home. Her cousins were all within an hour. 

We moved to Florida 13 years ago when FSU recruited Lulu to be a professor. The kids went to college at Duke and Georgetown - got jobs and families and stayed away. They now own homes in Richmond and Washington DC. It is much easier for us to go see them than for them to all fly down on holidays breaks. I feel guilty for whining about stuff like that - but we all have our problems. The minute you solve one - another one crops up. When Lulu eventually retires - we will have some big decisions to make. 

We were honored they all chose to give us so much time this Christmas.

You think of your family and friends that passed on during this season. Although you know it is the most natural of all things - you miss them - but Christmas trains - trees - decorations - remind you of everything they did. It was such good feeling - seeing my sons as such good parents. I like to think they learned by example from us - but they probably learned in spite of us. They are two really good men - who hit the jackpot when it came to getting the best wives - Robin and Liz. 

We loved sharing a little Christmas cheer with Cousin Georgeann and husband Jim - and best buddies Dick and Jan Davis. Even though it was only video chats with Dick - he can light up a room from 3000 miles away with his smile and silly quips. Both Dick and Georgeann are facing tough battles right now - and if you pray - these guys are on the top of the list. 

Like I said - I am luckier than I deserve. My friends and family made me laugh and cry over the holidays. All we have is the future. We want to make it as good as we can. We do not wish for much. We want for nothing material. We are lucky. 

Lulu's travel tree
Lulu's tree and my train yard. I build three 4x5 platforms.
We only used two this year. I made them that size
so they could go up the attic steps.
This mysterious Christmas train arrived full of goodies -
we found out later Sandi Jimmerson sent it.
The Everhart 9 stockings were filled by Santa.
Lulu made lots of cookies
Christmas morning - our presents before the kids

Ehen the kids arrived - more presents to open
The youngest - Number 9 - played the game
Lulu and I both worked for Heislers Dairy
Everybody got some great gifts. I will
have a separate story about my best gift ever. 
Lots of playing on the floor 
Lulu passes on her family musical skills

Neighbor Joel with our new one

Two American Girls in the tree
4 Everhart Girls have green martinis

Neighbor George sets up the slots cars every year
Racing against Uncle Keith

This was our English Christmas Breakfast
Assembling some of the 68 year old houses 
How many times have these houses been
built and torn down? 
80 degrees on the front porch -
picking camellias and azaleas

Way down upon the Suwanee River
Head librarian in charge reads to her grandson 
Zip lines and tree top hikes

Courage building
The Everharts from Richmond
Mum Mum makes the pancakes
Picking lemons - oranges - tangerines
Planting Mum Mum's kumquat tree
The first batch of cookies was one in 2 days -
so we made another batch

Jumparoo with Uncle Drew
Cutting out the sugar cookies

Let's add more sugar to the sugar cookies

The finished products
Checking out the ornaments - the youngest and the oldest
LED lights in all the houses. We never got a chance to put the streets.

Winter Drive in the Coal Regions

Andrew Leibensguth is an artist. He is a local leader in using cutting edge technology.

This morning I enjoyed a video he recorded - driving from Tamaqua through Mahanoy City to Shenandoah. It is time lapsed so he compressed the 30 minute drive down to 4 minutes. He recorded this yesterday.

The Coal Regions are part of the Rust Belt in Pennsylvania - the major industry - hard coal mining - is still performed here. But since America's consumption of coal dwindled - and was replaced by oil - and now natural gas - the industry is a ghost of what it once was in the middle 1900's.

The company homes which were designed to be used about 20 years - have survived through scores of renovations. Completely renovated homes with 3 bedrooms and 1 bath can be purchased for $20,000. The 1860's home I grew up in recently sold for $40,000.

Andrew captures the Coal Regions as it is. His pictures and writings are simple - unvarnished. Mainly - Andrews produces and publishes so much material - it is hard for him to attempt to slant it all one way or the other.

Recently Andrew drove to the Palma Maria Restaurant to meet up with us. We drove from Tallahassee to Casselbery FL. Andrew drove his rental van (unlimited miles) from Tamaqua to LosAngeles then across I-10 through Arizona - New Mexico - Texas - Louisiana - Mississippi - Alabama - and finally Florida to get to dinner just a few minutes late.

Andrew's web page is

Monday, January 23, 2017

Lulu Has Her Eye On This Camper

Aftermath - 16 Hours After The Storm

Morning after the storm. We have power back after about 8 hours. Most of the 30000 customers are back on line. Our comcast internet is still off. Trees are down all over - knocking down power lines and cable lines. Does anyone still use land line phones? There were tornadoes north of us but we only got gusts of 55 mph. We had tons of rain making our sandy soil mush. Pine trees have shallow roots - and over they go. People here worship these 100 foot pine trees like India worships cows. Then they are mystified when the trees crush their houses and pull down power lines. This is not an act of God - it is an act of stupidity. Now excuse me why I go out and OCD my yard :-)

Power Back At Midnight

The city worked very hard to restore power to 30000. We had power at midnight. We ran our generator until 10 pm. Then pulled the plug and went to bed.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Tornado Like Winds Just Pounded Our Tallahassee Neighborhood - We Lost A 100 Foot Pine Tree - House Is Fine

It has been a funny day. We were getting a lot of rain - there were news reports of 11 people dead across the border in Georgia when a tornado ripped thru a trailer park. We were having flashes of rain - then sun - then strange skies. All of a sudden - we were on the phone doing a video chat with our grandson - when the power in the house went off. We glanced out the back window to see a giant 100 pine tree heading toward our window. Luckily it stopped a few feet short of the house.

This all occurred about 2 hours ago. After taking a tour of the neighborhood on my scooter - I realized it was much more serious than we first thought. There are dozens of giant pine trees knocked across the streets. Power lines - phone lines - cable TV lines - are down all over. Branches litter the yards.

The pine tree that fell in our yard was 100 feet tall - it is about 2 feet thick. It broke off about 40 feet up from the ground. The 60 foot piece came directly toward our house - coming up just short. Ironically this tree was on the property border with our neighbor and they insisted it stay. I wonder if they will insist on paying to clean it up  :-)

We got a text message from the city saying essentially - this is going to take a while. I went to the garage to get our Honda 2000 generator out and fired it up. I ran extension cords to the TV - the satellite dish - the refrigerator - the water heater and some lights. It was so much easier setting up this time - after the practice run this summer during the hurricane. We lost power for 48 hours during that storm - I hope it is just a few hours this time.

We will be offering free services to friends and neighbors.

Note the 40 foot high stump
That tree came just short of our house
Note the pressure on the power lines
More wires trapped by the tree
Limbo Lane blocked by a tree - how low can you go?

Some pulled out by the roots
These pine trees are like weeds

Sandy soils get soaked and down go the trees
Down goes Frazier!
Two trees back to back block Old Fort Drive

A giant tree - probably the one that trapped my drone last year
This one broked off about 30 feet up - an oak
This house is getting a complete renovation

No one lives here - it is getting a full renovation

Seminole Drive - our street - is impassible
I bought the white Honda scooter from this home.

This is the water by our driveway - note the sun
This is the tree in our yar
Note our azaleas are blooming - normally in March