Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gas For The Trail

"Get It Yourself Randy"

Way back when I was a reporter in North Adams, Massachusetts, I often worked with Speed Graphic photographer Randy Trabold, of whom you've read before in this blog.

Unlike much news these days, our news stories got on the spot personal coverage, and were not just reports issued as "press releases" from police or fire departments and other official agencies.

Oftentimes now in my sunset years, memories pop into my head at the most unusual times, mainly while I'm in a deep sleep about 3 in the morning.

It happened once again this week. From some dark recess came up the name "Steve Patryn." Then the story behind the name filtered through the
murky ancient files of my brain.

Patryn was a younger man who ran a gasoline and service station in North Adams. His place was a daytime and evening business, probably a 7 to 7 o'clock operation, where Steve worked hard and fast with little time for lunch breaks.

Randy was one of his customers with his trusty Jeep always needing gasoline, oil, and other servicing. Steve appreciated that business because Randy was a guy who traveled around day and night taking photos for the NORTH ADAMS TRANSCRIPT and THE ASSOCIATED PRESS .

For years Steve put up with Randy's procrastination at the end of Steve's business day - Randy's failure to stop by before closing time to fill up the Jeep's tank for his inevitable nocturnal treks around Berkshire County.

I often was companion to Randy on his nighttime moves to accidents and fires. I'd get a phone call from him which tersely reported "fire, Savoy, meet me on 116" or "accident, Dead Man's Curve, I'll be waiting at the office," meaning "get the heck up here fast."

Well, came this one night Randy happened to be in Adams when the police up north radioed him of a tanker truck that had overturned and rolled down the mountainside at Dead Man's Curce.

That's on the famous Mohawk Trail leading east out of North Adams toward Greenfield over a mountainous road.

(Maybe in the distant past you've seen his Wintertime photos from the trail - published nationwide by the AP but particularly in Florida - of snowdrifts around the roadside sign FLORIDA, the mountaintop town next to North Adams.)

Randy picked me up at my Adams home and we headed out. But just before hitting the trail I glanced at his dashboard and said "you're almost out of gas."

It was nearly midnight. The accident was nine miles out of town. All the gas stations were closed.

Randy radioed the city police, asked them to call Steve to come down and open his station and fill the Jeep's tank. Steve came, as was his usual late night response a few times every week.

This time Steve was teed off, real mad, muttering something like "this can't go on" - but maybe not in the nicest language, as he pumped the gas.

Tank all filled, Randy's gunning the motor, ready to fly off when Steve hollers "hey you hold on!" and handing Randy a key he shouts "I close at 7. From now on use the key and pump your own d---- gas."

Glad Randy had that key. There were a few nights I also was heading for the trail and needed gas. Steve's place was a lifesaver. We were honest -always left Steve a note on what we pumped and paid him at the end of the week.

Being that it was some 30 years ago, I guess Steve has retired by now.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Milk Jug Ice

While washing the dishes the other morning I noticed an expired gallon milk jug among the soiled dishes, filled with water.

For some reason my intelligence went out the window about that time after asking Lady B what was the jug of water for and learning she was going to make ice for a Fourth of July batch of ice cream.

"Why not just use ice cubes from our freezer?" I inquired getting the answer "I'm going to freeze the gallon bottle for the ice cream freezer and have all the ice I need."

"Well, how will you get the ice out of the jug through that little neck?" was the next thing out of my mouth.

The minute I uttered that, I knew I'd blown the conversation sky high as I got "the stare" over the top of Lady B's glasses.

After a few seconds she calmy informed me "I'm going to use that razor blade and cut off the top of the jug and make a square of ice."

I guess I'd better not try to expand this blog - it sounds stupid enough as it is.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Something Unexpected

Flag Respect

Just in time for Flag Day a week ago, I got up a second flagpole on our corner property.

For several years the United States flag has flown in front of the house but I felt it would be nice to have one flying at the side of the house, actually on a very busy street. The other flag flies on a side street.

So on Flag Day, my new flag unfurled in the breeze for all who passed to see. It flew five days until something unusual happened, an event which I felt was an expression of patriotism.

As I stood at the kitchen window I saw a young man with a backpack sauntering down the street. I thought at first he was a student going to the junior high down the road but then realized school is out for the Summer.

As the man saw the flag he doffed his ball cap and momentarily held it at his chest. He did not see me in the window. In that brief moment I felt a tear forming at the man's brief action - one I took as a salute to the flag.

This passerby did not appear old enough to have already been in the service but in thinking later about his salute and telling of it to Lady B, it came to our minds this young man was . . . .

Possibly remembering a father who may have been a serviceman, or a bigger brother who at this moment is a fighting soldier somewhere beyond our country's shores.

But wait - this young man may just be saluting his country's flag because he respects his country and its flag. I like to think his gesture was for any one - or all - of those reasons. As a veteran his action made me feel proud of his support.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010



A tenant in one of our former rental properties, now an Easterner, popped in on our e-mail page a couple days ago and noted she'd been following Old Newsie's blog but hadn't seen an entry for a while.

Sure enough, I found it's been since early April that I last wrote. You can blame this on a number of things: a bit of laziness; a lack of time due to doctor visits; traveling here and there; eye trouble again; busy helping a son fixing a few things; computer problems; and honey-dos.

That former tenant, once a professor of English at one of our local colleges, moved over to Georgia and then to Tennessee and in the process of preparing for a doctorate, apparently got just too tangled in studies that she dropped out of the blog and e-mail circuit as well - for a few years!

We'll be welcoming her back in this area this Summer perhaps as she visits old friends and does some sight-seeing.

That said, now we'll try to get back into the blogging act again, depending on how much we find to chat about. Today, it's been a day of good news -
the temperature cooled down to 100 degrees after about 10 days in which the thermometer, in the shade on the patio, got up as high as 111 degrees.

So what's the latest news? Old Newsie and Lady B, despite failing eyes at reading the little print on the motor vehicle department's eye-testing machine, DID get licenses renewed for another year.

An optimistic note: For years the MVD renewed my handicapped parking permit a year at a time. This year as I became 87, the MVD made it official - I MUST LIVE at least another FOUR years because this time, the permit is a four-year privilege.

Classy Broad, my younger daughter up in Washington state returned a couple days ago from Walter Reed Army Hospital after this year's testing of her new kidney.

She needs a few prayers for correction of a low blood flow to that kidney and for a good report on a biopsy taken for a possible melanoma outbreak.

Appleman, my California son, has taken up a new residence in San Jose after a spell in Saratoga.

Yarntangler, who is Workcamping in Kanab, Utah, is busy with her husband Geezerguy, and traveling friend, Chris, transforming a bit of red dirt desert into a lush green garden, complete with all sort of junque picked up at yard sales and planted for the next campers who'll occupy their spots.

Back here in Lea County, my other son whom I'll call Highwayman, is busy spending his days with the county road department, in this hundred degree weather, chip- sealing some of the rural roads - and do you know how HOT chipsealing with boiling tar can be? Better he than me!

Well, that's enough yakking for a blog comeback for now; maybe I'll be back another day soon.

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