Archive for June 2010
This week I promised a more upbeat topic than last week’s – Man Made Mayhem. Since we are fully engaged in summer mode let’s talk about Man Made Magnificence. Summertime makes me think of amusement parks and aren’t they all magnificent?
Let’s start with the biggies in no particular order:
- Disney World/Land
- Universal Studios (all locations)
- Six Flags (all locations)
- Cedar Point
- Busch Gardens
- Kings Island/Dominion
- Sea World
- Knott’s Berry Farm
These are all very exciting and wonderful, but there is another level of amusement park that seems to be a little more endearing due to their old fashioned charm. I am speaking of smaller, regional parks without the national advertising budget. Some of the smaller ones I am thinking about are no longer in operation due to bankruptcy, fires or other reasons. Some still are alive and kicking. Below is a short list of some I can remember.
- Geauga Lake
- Conneaut Lake Park, PA
- Kennywood Park- near Pittsburgh
- Idora Park – Youngstown
- Euclid Beach Park
- Madison-on-the Lake
I am sure there are many more that you can list. I suppose I liked the smaller parks because they were closer to home and more affordable therefore I went to them more often than the big parks.
I was never much of a roller coaster fanatic so when I go to Cedar Point, the Corkscrew or Iron Dragon is all I can handle. My favorite rides at Cedar Point are Witches Wheel, Scrambler, Matterhorn and Chaos. I can take the spinning but I’ll pass on the roller coasters or drops from high above terra firma. Power Tower? No thanks.
I hope I have stirred some fond memories this week. Enjoy your summer and I will see you next week
The Deep water Horizon Gulf Oil Spill has been in the news for over 2 months now and it had me thinking today about some other disasters caused by man or human error. In no particular order I have randomly listed some that quickly came to mind. I purposely left out terrorist events except for the Tylenol tampering. At least some good came from that tragedy. It led to improved tamper resistant packaging that is now used for all types of consumer products. To this day that crime has never been solved nor has a suspect been charged.
- Tylenol Tampering -1982
- 3 mile island -1979
- Exxon Valdez – 1989
- Minneapolis I-35 Bridge collapse - 8/1/07
- Chernobyl – 1986
- Johnstown, Pa Dam failure - 1889
- Chicago Fire – 1871
- Kansas City, Mo. Hyatt Regency Walkway Collapse - 1981
- New York City Blackout - 1977 ( baby boomlet ensues)
- Blackout in Northeast, 55 million affected - 8/14/2003
- Tacoma Narrows bridge collapse -1940
- Titanic sinks (“unsinkable”)– 1912
- Bhopal, India poisonous gas leak – 1984
I promise that next week I will have a more positive topic. Happy first day of summer.
Now that Memorial Day has come and gone and school is out in most areas, it is time to think about the summer vacation. What was your best vacation or best memory from a vacation? What is your favorite type of vacation? There are many types of vacations including one that has been popularized recently during the recession – the “staycation”.
To get you thinking here is a brief list of vacations I could think of:
- The Cruise
- The all inclusive resort
- See the USA in your Chevrolet
- Visit the relatives
- Park at the beach
- RV Camping
- “Roughing it” camping
- The golfing vacation
- The National Parks vacation
- The largest ball of string in West Texas vacation
- The Contrarian Vacation
I have been on many of the above but my best vacation memories were the ones I had spending about a month in 1976 going West while everyone else was going East. This is what I call the Contrarian vacation. 1976 was the year of America’s bicentennial celebration. Obviously, most of the “action” was going to take place in the East where the country began all those years ago. My Dad decided he was going to avoid the crowds and take us to see the West.
The story begins on June 6th, 1976 at 6 A.M. in a Winnebago filled with my Mom and Dad, my 2 brother’s, my 2 sister’s, a cool Aunt and 1974 Chevy Nova in tow for good measure. That’s 8 humans in a camper for 30 days. My Dad, the Contrarian, was behind the wheel and he put the hammer down and didn’t stop until about 8 PM in a campground in Vandalia, Illinois. My Mom was co-pilot and was mission historian recording all the relevant data such as every stop made, fuel cost and miles per gallon in a spiral notebook that I am sure is still archived at the family “compound”.
Day 2 took us to Tulsa Oklahoma if my memory is correct and day 3 we arrived at Tucumcari, New Mexico. By day 4 we hit the southern rim of the Grand Canyon and spent a day or two there seeing the sites. On day 5 we made it as far as Needles California. I believe that day’s progress was stalled by the need to change the Universal Joint on the Winnebago somewhere on the way. The U-Joint breakdown was not a problem. My Dad pulled into a gas station, ordered the parts from the owner and changed it himself with the help of my older brother. (Think of the tire changing scene in the movie A Christmas Story minus F-word.)
In Needles we went to dinner at a Denny’s or some restaurant that I had never heard of except for hearing it on the Tonight show with Johnny Carson. The next day, I believe we headed to Riverside, California and then to San Bernardino to visit with some friends of my Parents. I remember we went to a Shakey’s Pizza and thinking that they had nothing on my hometown favorite – Luigi’s. See Previous Blog “What is your Luigi’s Pizza” for more information on Luigi’s.
To finish things up we went to Yosemite, Sequoia, Yellowstone, and Mount Rushmore picking up a cousin in Rapid City, South Dakota before heading home. I made it to about 30 states on that trip, blew one hundred dollars, 25 cents at a time, on pinball machines and vending machine snacks. The huge redwoods were magnificent; Old Faithful remained true to form and performed right on schedule. We also left Yellowstone at about 10 O’clock at night on June 26th when snow bean to fall. That was unacceptable for my Dad so off we went in the night on winding roads through the mountains descending to a more reasonable elevation and stopping in Cody, Wyoming where the temperature was 56 degrees with no snow was in sight. (At some point in the trip we went to Jackson Hole Wyoming but I can’t remember the sequence.)
The memories of the trip are still etched in my mind and always will be. I think the strongest lingering memory of the entire trip was my Dad at the helm of the Winnebago, knocking down mile after mile to get to the destination. In some ways, that trip had a fantasy quality to it. We went to exotic destinations and my Dad gave us a most excellent adventure many years before Bill and Ted had their excellent adventure. The best part of my excellent adventure was that it was real and not a Keanu Reeves movie.
I hope you all have a good Father’s Day this weekend. I know I will. I will be spending it with my Dad.
Last Wednesday, June 2nd the Detroit Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians 3-0. In front of 17,738 in attendance, Armando Galarraga pitched the 21st perfect game in Major League baseball history – almost. It was not in the cards that night for Galarraga. As has been well documented, the umpire calling safe or out at first base for the potential 27th out called safe and missed the call.
I don’t want to talk about instant replay, poor umpiring or a plea to Bud Selig to reverse the blown call. I want to talk about the lesson learned from the aftermath. The pitcher who was involved in the fateful play responded with dignity and grace. He was disappointed and upset with the call but took his lumps and shook it off. He could have joined the most elite club in baseball – the perfect game club. I say that with the passage of time he will transcend the perfect game club and will join a club of his own. Not only will he be remembered as throwing the perfect game whether by an asterisk or by some other means, he will forever be remembered as a man who actually embodied the qualities, true or romanticized, that have been associated with the national pastime. What kind of man is Armando Galarraga? I don’t know and I suppose he has many faults that most rich athletes have but in the worst conditions when a temper tantrum would have been considered acceptable he paused, took it in and completed the game without even getting credit for a no hitter. He passed a test the most of us would have failed.
There are two other personalities in this matter that I would like to mention, the umpire who made the call and Tigers manager Jim Leyland. Umpire Jim Joyce made the call that he thought was right and resisted the temptation to “give” a call to the pitcher. We all know he was wrong but in his error he showed integrity and afterwards displayed humility by acknowledging his error and without making excuses. I suppose he will continue umpiring without many repercussions as he is generally considered to be a good umpire. I believe that he will gain respect as a man who believed in his judgment and who was willing to admit he was wrong afterwards. Finally, I would like to tip my cap to Jim Leyland. He was visibly upset at the play and after the game he was seen yelling at Umpire Joyce. When interviewed shortly after the game in the clubhouse he was still very upset and his voice was unsteady but he took the time to consider everything and began to display restraint and made conciliatory comments about events that unfolded that night. He also helped calm the city and shape public opinion knowing there was a game to be played about 14 hours later the next day. The final touch that helped put baseball back on track was to let Galarraga take the lineup card out to the home plate umpire the next day. That Umpire was Jim Joyce and the shaking of hands and show of respect sealed the wound between all parties in the world of baseball.
Yes, it is just a game but it is my game of choice and our national pastime.
Have a good week.