Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Pre 1950s Life in Cleveland

Pre 1950s Life in Cleveland

There aren't too many people who remember the paper and rag man. He would sit on the bench of his wagon, yelling "Paper rags " usually in the poor neighborhoods. It sounded like paypa dape to me. I was only five or six back then.
People would come out with bundled paper, rags, pots and pans, bottles and anything else he might buy. He would pay a few pennies for these remnants, then probably took them to some junkyard where he made a few pennies profit.
He was a small, elderly, wrinkled old man and the strength and range of his voice was surprising as he yelled out, "Paper rags." His wagon was pulled by a wrinkled old horse as it slowly and with difficulty made its way down our street.
We boys in the neighborhood had never seen a live horse. Our only acquaintance with horses was seeing our favorite cowboy heroes in the movies. Although hard to believe, this was before TV.
The paper and rag man was a kindly soul and he allowed us to pet the horse when he stopped to pick some paper or rags. I'm a little ashamed to remember that we often followed the wagon, taunting him by mimicking his voice and shouting "Paper rags." But he didn't mind. I think he liked the children and the attention he and the horse were getting from us. Whenever our parents could spare it, we were allowed to take a carrot or apple to the seemingly always hungry horse and it nuzzled us in gratitude.

Back then, we also had a guy who walked the streets with a small cart not unlike a golf bag cart who sharpened knives. Another guy fixed things, mainly umbrellas.

We, like everyone else, had a milk man. Our milk man would put his deliveries in our milk chute which was on the side of our house on the drive way. The other milk man actually had a horse and wagon. This was in the nineteen forties.
We also had an ice man who brought our ice right into the house and placed the block in the icebox.

There was an ice cream truck or motor scooter with a big box in front that sold ice cream bars and sandwiches. They used jingle bells like on Santa's sleigh to announce their presence. 

There was a waffle truck much like the ice cream truck. They made the waffles fresh to order and dusted them with powdered sugar.

Some houses had phones with no dials. You picked up the phone and didn't get a dial tone. An operator would come on the line and you would tell her what number that you wanted to call.

Of course, back then, there were no television sets. The first one that I saw had about a 5 inch screen and mostly showed a test pattern. The big entertainment device was the radio. We had a Zenith console that had a record player on the right side which only played 78 RPM records. Back then 45 PM records hadn't been available and 33 1/3s were science fiction.

Going downtown to shop meant going to Higbee's May's. In Ohio, it wasn't May Company or Higbee Company it was May's or Hugbee's. The frosted malteds in the basements were a special treats as there were no McDonalds or Wendie's back then. Going downtown meant taking a streetcar and later a bus.


I am a US Navy veteran and accordingly act like the sailor that I am.
This has included, in no particular order, chasing women, drinking a lot of rum, drinking even more beer and eating almost anything I happened across. 
Well I had a big eye-opener two weeks ago. I had my third stroke. It was a miner stroke if there is such a thing. A TSA or Transient Ischemic Attack. 
The docs at the VA Hospital grilled me with a bunch of questions concerning my life style. Do you smoke? Me, I smoke about ten cigars a year. Do you drink? Me, not like I used to. Why did you cut back? Me, I got old. How much do you drink? Me, I have a mixed drink, a beer, or a glass of wine with dinner about five times a week. Do you have a healthy diet? Me, it depends who you ask. I feel that I do. I have mostly chicken breast, fish and lean pork regularly. I don't get junk food like double cheese burgers hardly ever and I eat red meat, IE beef less than once a week. 
That's good what about vegetables? Me, I could do better in that department. What does that mean? Is more than half of your plate veggies? Me, no. A quarter? Me, sometimes. You need to do better. Do want to die tomorrow? Me, of course not.
My take on this is as follows.
The cigars are not good but not all that bad. Same for the alcohol. Part of the diet is OK but the veggie and fiber part needs improving.
Sunday we went to the Fish Camp. I had grilled sand dabs and instead of ordering fries and mac & cheese as my two sides, I had rice and grilled veggies. This is a quantum leap for this old sailor but entirely necessary. Last evening I bought a no-salt rotisserie chicken. I really couldn't really perceive any difference. 
My next big step is to have several meatless days each week.
It isn't the end of the world but you can see it from here.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


It is Boxing Day and we are still on the lam in Palm Springs. Palm Springs to this old Cleveland boy is like SoCal on steroids. It is this worthless expanse of sand and scrub trees that some swindler seventy five, or so, years ago sold some poor hapless soul that this is just the place to grow golf courses. The land was cheap and there was an inexhaustible supply of it. We came out here last year to have a family Christmas at my second wife's home on, guess what, a golf course. The concept was great but the reality was straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. 
This year we have decided to utilise the hard learned lesson of staying at an ex wife's home and securing lodgings at a timeshare. This is more like it. We are in our own little world for a few days. We have several bedrooms in the event some friend(s) need a place to crash. There is a gas grill on a patio and several pools complete with Jacuzzis within walking distance. There is a Von's a block away as well as several movie theaters. There are two HD TVs in the place with DVD players so things are really self-contained. 
We had a brunch at the club house at the golf club and the watched the frenzy of grandchildren opening brightly wrapped Christmas presents. A little nap was in order after the orgy and then it was off to a very nice restaurant at the hotel that the kids were staying at. A little wine, OK a lot of wine, and a little prime rib, OK a lot of prime rib and the day was a complete success.
OK, I seem to have skipped the January through November part. In reality, 2017 was a fairly undramatic year compared to previous years. We didn't take any cruises through the Panama Canal or motoring trips across the country. 
Much of our time was devoted to the SLBYC, IE Seal Beach Yacht Club. Jamie was asked to become the club's treasurer. It was billed as a "two to four hour a week undertaking". That was a load of horse manure, She is at that stinking club all day, every day. I was nominated to the club's board of directors and when asked what the first thing I would do is, I replied "fire Jamie. I didn't get elected and feel that I have dodged a very large bullet.
I on the other hand have been named Food Manager for the club. I will, among other things, be selecting the menu for friday night dinners at the club. I also will either cook or help cook sometimes.
We have made many new friends at the club. We sailed to Cat Harbor on a Catalina 42.
 Somehow some people said that I could drive and navigate a boat off shore. So we ended up going to Avalon on a beautiful 48 foot Californian and a few weeks later went on it to Marina Del Rey. We also went to Two Harbors, IE The Isthmus, on a 42 Hunter so life hasn't been too bad.
In March, we motored up to The Cliff House at Mussel Shoals. I ended coming down with the Flu so I don't remember too much as I was delirious with a fever. We continued on up to The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo and stayed the first night in the flintstone room which is literally made out of real stone boulders. I didn't sleep all night. In my feverish condition all I could think of was if we had an earthquake I would end up squashed like a piece of roadkill. The next day Jamie moved us to a much safer room. Staying at the Madonna had been one of my bucket list items but I don't remember much. Three weeks when I was better, we drove up to Cambria and spent two nights there. While in the Paso Robles/Templeton AVA we visited a lot of wineries and bought A LOT of wine. Clever marketers these wineries, get the visitor shitfaced and they will buy a lot.

Sunday, July 30, 2017


I was requested by upper management today to BBQ a beer can chicken.
I thought that I have written about the wondrous beer can chicken before but I can't seem to find it in my highly sophisticated files. So here goes.
The technique goes thusly.   
First steal a chicken. Whoops wrong recipe. That's how the recipe for authentic Hungarian Chicken Poprikash starts out. You clean out said chicken by pretending that you are a poultry proctologist and reach way up the south end of the bird and pull out anything that you're not planning on eating. Such as paper bags full of offal and the like. If there happens to be a neck stuffed in the other end, get rid of it.
Next, dry the bird with a paper towel inside and out. Salt and pepper the inside cavity.
Then get a can of beer out of the beer locker and drink half of the can of beer. Good God, don't use light beer or kumquat flavored ale. Use real beer because when the bird is cooking steam from the can of beer will wisp up and help the inside get done in a deat heat with the exterior. Just as wine in a fancy shmancy French casserole. You would use a wine that you would actually drink.
Enough about the virtues of using the proper beer for cooking.
Now light off the grill, gas or charcoal and let it get warmed up to temp.
Use the beer can as a suppository just as you would with a know-it-all. Once the bird bird is properly situated with it's can be sure it is balanced properly so it doesn't topple while cooking. Then give the bird a massage with unsalted butter and sprinkle the herbs of your choice over the outside along with salt and pepper.
Pop the little guy on the grill and give him his sauna. 

Cook to your liking which should be about 170 Deg. F. in the breast.
Stand by for the onslaught of compliments. 
You can use one of those stainless steel chingausos  but then it now longer is a BEER CAN chicken.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Who am I? What am I doing here?

Where as I am now seventy five years old, I thought that it is about time for a new assesment.
There are certain givens, such as I am a father and a grandfather. I am involved with the nicest and best woman I have ever met and I am a transplanted Clevelander living in SoCal. 
But what about the less obvious.
I have always been the the kid, the upstart. The guy who dives into things and makes them right without expecting as much as a thank you. 
I am a sailor in every sense of the word. I spent eight plus years in the US Navy. I had everything go my way while in the Navy. I went to Guidedmissileman A School at Virginia Beach as an E3 a Seaman First Class. We weren't allowed to take the E4 Third Class Petty Officer while in A School. Our class graduated on a Friday. The semiannual E4 exam was held on the following Monday. The next day we flew to Pomona, CA for Terrier BT3 C School. One week before we graduated from C School, I was informed that I had passed the E4 exam and would be promoted on May first. 
When I reported for duty at my first duty station at NAD Crane Indiana on May third, I was a pettyofficer. One year later, I was a second class PO. 
I reported to Missile Technician B School as a second class PO. Nine months later, I reported for duty on my first ship, an aircraft carrier where I took the First Class exam. Six months later I was transferred to new construction at Todd Shipyard in Seattle where I promptly sewed on my First Class crow. At the time I was the youngest First Class PO in the entire US Navy at the ripe age of twenty one. Three years later I turned down Chief Petty Officer. I didn't want to be a twenty four year old CPO. Chiefs lived in the chief's quarters, AKA The Goat Locker, and I didn't want to live with these lifers. I had already decided the I wanted out of  the Navy and wanted to go to college.
In 1968, I got out. We shot a bird, missile, the day before at the pacific Missile Range and pulled into the Ammunition Depot at Seal Beach to rearm. Being I was a Plank Owner, I had them pipe me over the side and became a civilian.
Life was good as a civilian.  I had marketable skills and had no problem finding employment. I had good jobs, finished college and  traveled the world on an expense account. I became a real estate agent selling apartment buildings in Lon Beach and made lots of money. I had Norton Commandos, Porches, Mercedes and Cadillacs. I sold industrial instrumentation and had sailboats which I lived aboard. I ended up starting a company that built plastics forming machinery and made quite a good name for myself.
The bad news is in 2013, I had a stroke. T the time, I had a schooner which I lived aboard for thirty five years.  I could no longer handle the five sails that we ran around on.
I now find myself as a codger. Seventy five is an old man by anyone's criteria. I now live on a forty foot trawler power boat and take a nap most every day.
I'm not complaining. I have a wonderful relationship with a girl who is my intellectual double. I drive a BMW 325ci convertible I have two grandchildren and I do the occasional machine upgrade with no heavy lifting. We have taken cruises to Alaska and through the Panama Canal.
I guess that I really don't have anything to bitch about but I am a bit uncomfortable being 75.
Like Micky Mantle said "If I knew that I was going to live this long, I probably would have taken better of myself."   

Sunday, June 18, 2017


I don't want to come across as a know-it-all but I have been sailing for over fifty five years and have picked up a few things along the way.
I first started out at my first Navy duty station. I joined the Navy to see the world and after attending various guided missile schools I was finally dispatched to Southern Indiana, NAD Crane. Crane is 110 sq. miles of high explosives quietly tucked  away in Indiana farm country. Most all of the sailors at Crane hated the place. We were a small bunch of young, horny sailors and there just wasn't much to do there. The was Lake Greenwood on the base and there was a 17 foot Rebel sailboat for recreational use. We would take the boat out in the afternoons without lessons or experience. For better or worse, we were self-taught. Two years later, while stationed for new construction at Todd Shipyard in Seattle I used to rent a 22 footer and sail it in Lake Washington. 
Later on while home ported in Long Beach I used to rent Sabots at Naples. When we went aground at Midway Island I checked out an 18 footer from special services and circumnavigated Midway Island.
After getting out of the Navy in 1972 I bought a brand new Venture 222, a 22 foot trailerable sloop with a Mercury outboard motor. I named her Tumwater.

We sailed that little craft to Catalina Island many times and towed the boat all over SoCal, Arizona and  Nevada and sailed in the many lakes, mostly manmade. In 1975 I graduated up to a used Columbia 28 that I lived aboard at Port Royal marina in Redondo Beach. Due to my lack of imagination, I named her Tumwater 2.

Tumwater 2 had an inboard engine, wheel steering, a real galley and a private stateroom for the owner. With two quarter berths, a convertible dining table and the stateroom, she would sleep six people.
By now I viewed myself as an old sailing hand. It was easy peasy. Hoist the mainsail and motor into the wind. When clear of very hard objects such as rocks and oil tankers hoist the jib and kill the engine.
In 1977 we bought a brand new 41 foot Taiwan built Garden ketch which we christened Bianco, which means white in Italian.

 Bianco was beyond big, she was huge. She had a diesel engine and a separate shower in the head. She even had a crew's quarters up in the forecastle with a separate  hatch to gain access.

Being a Ketch, she also had a second, mizzen, mast. You could actually trim up on a point of sail, lock the wheel and use the mizzen sail as a sort  of autopilot. She would track for hours if trimmed up properly.
Back in 1974, when sailing back from Catalina on Tumwater, a vision of beauty  sailed by us. She was an old wooden schooner and her name was Diosa Del Mar, Goddess Of The Sea. 
Since that very day, I was smitten by schooners. In 1979, we sold Bianco for very personal reasons and I started shopping for a schooner. All we could find was old, pre 1920, wooden boats. I had neither the time or inclination to make the care and feeding of a geriatric wooden boat my life's work. We finally found a boat that fit all of our parameters.  She was a Downeaster 38 Schooner.
This is Merrymaid under "normal" sail.  Normal sail consisted of five sails. From fore to aft: Yankee Jib, Fore Staysail, Main Stailsail, above it is the Fisherman and lastly is the Mainsail.
To say that I loved this boat would be an extreme understatement. I owned her for thirty five years. Lived aboard her for thirty two of those years and went through three of my four wives with her. 
Not only is she pretty, note above right, but a joy to sail. Keeping all of those sails trimmed up. 
This is the old girl showing off her Gollywobbler, the big Red White and Blue sail. 
Next time I'll talk about how to sail a schooner in Sailing 102.


Sunday, June 11, 2017


Yesterday, over a “few” beers I told my friend Dennis about one of my stays in Japan.
In the mid seventies, I was working at Kawasaki Steel in Kobe Japan. I was installing a Zenzamer rolling mill that would be making transformer steel. The mill itself was built by Waterbury Ferrel in Waterbury Connecticut. A zenzamer mill is a complicated machine that rolls extremely precise cold roll steel. I worked for LFE Corp who built the control system. It was a non-contact guage that used a radioactive Americium isotope gamma source that could penetrate steel. The gauge also automatically controlled the gauge, thickness, of the steel in real time.
Working in Japan was a real adventure. I stayed at the Hotel Newport, what would be called a boutique hotel nowadays. It was a real Japanese hotel, not at all like a Holiday Inn, with tatami mats and in the evening after dinner your little Japanese bed was laid out on the floor. I met a sweet young girl in Kobe and we would take the Bullet Train to Kyoto which is one of the top places in the world to visit. We attended a Moody Blues concert one Friday at the civic auditorium. We were running late when we arrived and little honey san said that we wouldn't be let in. I scoffed and replied that this is a rock concert, everybody's late. She countered that this is Japan and things are different here. Sure enough, when we arrived, we were barred at the door. The good news was when the warmup act was through, they let us late comers in for the big show. Needless to say, it was a far cry from SoCal concerts. 
But I digress.
I and the guy from Waterbury worked all day in the extremely clean mill. Japanese factories are much different than most other plants. Not only are they clean but if a Japanese foreman tells a worker to pick up a hose, or something, the worker doesn’t say not my job, he bows and then runs over to the hose, or whatever and coils it and hangs it up.
My Waterbury cohort was actually a pilot in the Luftwaffe in WWII. It was in the waning days of the war and he was only sixteen years old. He received about a weeks worth of flight training and then he got a pat on the ass and stuck in a Messerschmidt. He only flew three or four missions and then the war was over. He was a happy guy just to be still alive.
When we were done at the job, I called our trading company in Tokyo and they rightfully  advised me to buy my ticket and call the office back so they could have someone pick me up at the train station because if you get lost at the Tokyo train station, you might as well be lost in the desert, the station is like an iceberg. Ninety percent of it is below the surface.  They needed the train and seat number, the Shinkangsen, bullet train, is as all things Japanese, very prompt. Not one minute late or one minute early.  If they know the seat number I'll be sitting in, they will know the car number. On the platform, there are colored squares with numbers painted in them. At the precise time the train is due to arrive, the door to your car number will be aligned with the square and my driver will be waiting with his sign.
OK, I bought my ticket and I walked over to the telephones. All of a sudden, it hit me. I had no idea how to make a long distance phone call in Japan. In Japan on side of a business card is in English horizontally. On the reverse side it is in Japanese charictors and is vertical. I was standing by the phones with a handful of yen in my left paw and the trading company's vertically held card in my right hand. A well dressed Japanese gentleman approaches me and as he takes the card out of my hand asks in unaccented English "What's the matter, don't you know how to make a long distance phone call in Japan." He reads the English side and makes my call for me chatting in Japanese on the phone. When he is done, I am flabbergasted  and ask him where he is from. He replies Chicago. He tells me how he owns a Japanese restaurant in Chicago and the price of the disposable  wooden chopsticks is skyrocketing being the wood has to be imported into Japan. He tells me that he asked fellow Asian Restaurant owners that if he bought a chopstick machine and set it up in Chicago, would they buy chopsticks from him at greatly reduced prices. Of course they all said yes. 
He then flew to Japan and visited relatives and had a great time. Finally, he had to justify his trip and went to some large plant that made chopstick machines. He told me that they were beautiful machines but they all made bamboo chopsticks. He inquired as to where he could get a wooden chopstick machine and they replied, Chicago.  
By now, if you don't know the difference between a fairy tale and a sea story, I'll tell you. A fairy tale starts out once upon a time. The sea story starts out this is no shit.
And this is no shit.