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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Tamaqua Commencement - First Day of School

It seems that my life has been ruled by the school calendar. The first day of school brings back memories of good friends and good times. When we were kids - Labor Day was a holiday that honored workers. In our little coal town - miners were organized into unions. Usually school started on the Wednesday after Labor Day. We did not have fall or spring breaks. We had the week off between Christmas and New Year - and the school year ended early in June if we did not have off too many snow days. Since most of us walked to school - snow did not stop us often. A school year was 180 days.
Dorset School

For my first 6 years - I lived in a farm house without plumbing on the side of the Appalachian Mountains. So the first school I attended was Dorset School. It is near the little town of Snyders PA. A school bus picked me up at my front door and drove the 2 miles to the school. It was a one room school with a coal stove and no indoor plumbing. I only spent a month there before we moved to the big city of Tamaqua. Mrs Leah Wertman Fritz was my teacher. This was September - 1954.

North Ward School


I remember my dad taking me to the North Ward School - class was already in session. My Mrs. Whetstone seated me behind Gary Miller - who would become a lifetime friend. While the  teacher was not looking - Gary put a piece of candy in the pencil trough of my desk for me. The teacher admonished me with "Where did this come from?" I was there 5 minutes and already in trouble. "No candy."

I loved the 6 years from 1954 to 1960 in that school. There were 8 classrooms then - we did not use the basement. The grades were 1 - 2 -3 - 4 - 5 - 5 - 6 - 6. The extra 5th and 6th grades were for kids from South Ward.

My teachers were -
1 - Mrs. Whetstone
2 - Helen Folk (I later bought our building lot at 221 Catawissa St from her Mom for $3000)
3 - Jane Edwards
4 - Phyllis Wynn
5 - Dorothy Leiser
6 - Mary Kovalesky
The other two rooms were Jane Rieman and Veronica Haggerty.

During a leaky gas pipe incident - we shared the school with kids for Pine Street - going half days until the repairs were over. This school was across the street from St Jerome Church - now a parking lot.

Tamaqua Junior High School


From 1960 to 1963 - I attended 7th - 8th - 9th grade at this building on Broad Street on the banks of the Schuylkill River. We used to enjoy our sewage running in the river and people in Philadelphia drinking the same water after it passed through Reading and Valley Forge. What history.

This was the first time I went from classroom to classroom for lessons. We had gym - shop - art - music. Girls had home economics. I can still name all the teachers.

In 1962 - when Tamaqua had their famous undefeated football team - I was on the JV Team. I remember having a card saying I could attend games as a "participant" for free.

Tamaqua High School

In the fall of 1963 - I went to 10th grade in Tamaqua High School. In that fall - my English and Latin teacher - Paul Jewells died. A week later John Kennedy was assassinated. The Beatles became popular in America a few months later. I turned 16 in February of 1964 - got my driver's license - and sneaked my dad's car to school a few days. By the time I graduated in June of 1966 - the war in Vietnam was getting into full swing. I received a draft card that said 1-S - deferment for being in high school. At that time I chose to become a school teacher. I enrolled at Kutztown State Teachers College in the fall of 1966.

During the summer of 1969 - I got a job at the Bungalow Pool asa life guard - and met my future wife. In August of 1969 - I spent a day driving my new VW to Woodstock for a music festival. Lulu had to stay behind because her Mom would not let her go. 

Ever since then - my years have started in September and ended in June. I graduated from Kutztown in June of 1970 - and took my one and only real job as a teacher at the Panther Valley School District.   33 years later I retired from that same job. 

I experience my sons going away to college at Duke and Georgetown - every September and June I hauled their stuff to college and back in a trailer attached to my car. When I retired form teaching - Lulu was hired as professor at Florida State University and she just continued her commencement this year - teaching her new class yesterday. 

I have a theory called September Shock. My idea is that the whole purpose of life is to never experience a September where you are not going back to school to enjoy learning - sporting events - parties - dances - lectures - concerts - etc - all the fun of starting over. Everyone gets new clothes - fresh notebooks and pens - maybe a new ride - new friends - and new experiences. 

I am 70 now - and September commences. FSU has a new football coach that is 42 - as old as my son. He is instilling a hurry up offense and fresh defense. 

Ironically - only one of my four schools is still standing. 

Commencement - everything seems to be moving along as planned. 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Fall In Tallahassee - Lulu Is Off To Work At FSU

The best three things about living in Florida are - fall- winter - and spring. Today Lulu is off to her 15th year as a professor at Florida State University. It has been a wonderful run. It is about 2 miles from our home to her campus office. She usually takes the electric car to campus - but during the first few weeks the parking on campus is terrible. With the scooter - she can park right by her door.

Lulu has just finished a sabbatical where she spent time in Greece - Germany - France - Denmark - Belgium - Netherlands - Switzerland - Lichtenstein - Spain - Italy - Sicily - Malta - Scotland - and Hawaii. Living with her is an adventure. My question is - what does she do for an encore?

The Seminoles are lined up with a new coach and a difficult schedule. No one knows for sure what is going to happen. It has created a euphoric feeling in town - that could turn ugly easily. They play Virginia Tech - Clemson - Miami - Florida - Notre Dame - NC State - Louisville. I see at least 3 losses in there.

In the video above -  you see the home we built 4 years ago - our Roadtrek motor home - and Lulu riding a 2007 Vespa 150 scooter that we bought new. It is the vehicle that we have owned the longest of the 72 cars - trucks - buses - vans - campers - trailers - golf carts - scooters we have purchased.

Happy New Year!  No September Shock for this girl.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Campers and Electric Scooters

ZEV scooter - assembled in West Virginia. 

It looks like a hitch platform.

In 2015 - I visited ZEV Scooters in Morgantown WV. I got to drive several of their scooters and enjoyed seeing where they assemble them. They are constantly coming up with new models.

I recently saw the above pictures on the Internet of a new 3 wheel electric scooter.  I was surprised and happy that it was made by ZEV. ZEVis own by Darus Zerback.

It appears in this picture that it is on a hitch platform on the back of a Class C Coachmen motor home. These scooters are not light - they are full of batteries. I can't imagine a normal hitch receiver being able to take this much weight. Still it is an interesting idea.

I have a Roadtrek Class B and a Nissan Leaf electric car. Golf Carts are a fun way to run around campgrounds - quiet - no local exhaust.

Here is my story from visiting ZEV in 2015 -

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Starting My Roadtrek After Being Away 75 Days

2004 Dodge Roadtrek - starting after a long summer nap.

We just returned from 75 days in Europe to our home in Florida. I covered the camper in a 20 year old blue tarp. In Florida - we had a lot of heat - sun - rain - and wind. I was happy to see the tarp intact after all that time. I bought the tarp to use as a party tent for his high school graduation in 1995. It has been rolled up in the attic since then.

The camper started right up. It remained relatively clean. The Onan Generator started right up too - as did the air conditioner and the water heater. I just gave it a quick washing - and now it is ready for the road. Lulu has beach written all over her face.

It is a 2004 Dodge Roadtrek Popular 190. It has 18,000 miles on it. It is in excellent like new condition. It is not for sale - I am just showing off a bit. It has all new batteries - all new tires - a new flat screen TV - and a new inverter. Everything works. I have owned it one year. The previous owner kept it garaged the whole time. I paid way too much for it - $32,000 - I knew that gong in - I did not care. It is hard finding a Roadtrek in this nice shape.

While in Europe - we visited Hymer World - Hymer recently bought the Roadtrek factory in Canada.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Off The Coast Of Nova Scotia

We are having a nice flight home. Three hours to Atlanta. Lulu and I got upgraded but no bumps. We will be home by 10 pm. We have free email and texts on the Delta A330.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

A Tour Of 12A Bedford Place - London - Our Apartment

We stay here one month every summer. My wife teaches a course for Florida State University at the FSU Study Center nearby. This apartment is one block from the British Museum. We rent it for the month - usually July. This was our 10th year. I do nothing - I am retired.

I did this video today - August 1st - 2018.

PS -  August 2 - 2018 - we had 2 nice flights and got home at 11 PM.

I did this video almost 10 years ago. You may notice I have the same clothing on. :-)

Day 72 Reflection - Last Full Day in Europe (London) Tomorrow We Fly Home

Sandi and Robyn were excited to see Caldecott's home

The Tower of London - William the Conqueror built it in 1078

Biking by Buckingham Palace - Queen Victoria lived here in 1837.

All our guests have gone home - all Lulu's classes are over. It is hard to believe that all the time has come and gone. A week in Greece - a month in Germany - a week in Denmark - and a month in London. Throw in a wild weekend in Nancy - France.

The best part is all of our family and friends that gave their time to come to see us. There is nothing better than traveling with people you love. I am really appreciative of Lulu's work providing these opportunities. It is not bragging to say that we go home richer than when we came. Not just money - but shared experiences. I doubt that we could afford this - if I had to pay the bills. An old school marm's pension wasn't meant to travel the world.

Tomorrow at 10 AM - FSU sends a limo over to take us to Heathrow Airport. We leave London at 2 pm - go to Atlanta - then arrive home in Tallahassee around 10 PM.

Hopefully - all of the above paragraph is wrong - our plane is booked solid and we are hoping to be bumped.

The best part of the EuroFest is easy to say - tooling around with Max in the taxis - buses and tubes. The second best part was getting the $4000 bump from Delta on the trip over. Just sitting at a table on the main plaza in Nancy-France with my bride on our anniversary was special. Finally - frowning and crying in Nuremberg at the Nazi parade grounds and court. We have been excited - happy - melancholy - sad - pensive - and content. We really enjoyed this place - but we are eager to get home and get on with life.

Autogyro at air show - not a helicopter - safer

Honda 3 wheel - neat scooter

No screen time for these kids

I like these pay toilets - pee for 40 p

Supper in our courtyard with Lulu's class

Enjoying tea in the Shard

The Tower Bridge - once powered by steam engine

HMS Belfast in Thames - take a tour

St Pauls Cathedral.

My favorite bathroom

High tea at the Shard

Restaurant up on the Shard. Observation deck is 25 pounds a person. This restaurant is free when you buy drinks. We enjoyed an hour there with drinks - 18 pounds total for 4

Food Tour with JP and Wanda - also Brooks - Claire - Meg - Lulu

Neat deejay jeep. Top cranks up for deejay stand

It is fun to go in a museum and see your Tallahassee neighbor - George Clinton - King of Funk. 

Hula hoop show at the Somerset House

Lion King in background along The Strand

Bike Saturday in London - carless main streets

St James Gardens

Wind Relief Medication

To me - this Victoria House reminded me of my old school - The Panther Valley Middle School

The Beatles played Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall is so big - it had a cloud forming inside

The Proms at Royal Albert Hall

Symphony and Choir

Robyn and Sandi - Nancy - Royal Albert Hall

The Tube was crowded because bikes closed the main streets