Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bears, Kindness, and the Good Old Days

Bears Football and other stuff

Irony in the Semi-finals: Clairton met Farrell for the third time in high school playoff history. CHS won the other two games by a handful of points and Farrell Coach Jarrett Samuels entered the game with an overall coaching record of 40-8. Could he have imagines that would be the final score of the game? The Bears were so dominant that the entire second half was played under the “Mercy Rule” in which the clock does not stop thus helping the game come to a merciful end. Clairton had another shutout until the final minute or so when Farrell scored their lone points against the Bears second and third stringers. Running tally for the season: Bears 702 Opponents: 34. Next stop will be the final state playoff game in Hershey on 12/17.

Senior Josh Page helped assure that his final game would be played in Hershey by catching two touchdown passes, scoring on a punt return, and snatching up two fumbles. That sparked a 32-point second quarter against the Steelers, causing some to speculate that the Bears (Clairton, not Chicago) would look respectable against the Steelers (Pittsburgh, not Farrell). We have said in this space before that the football team has represented our hometown with grace and humility off the field. Nothing brings a community together like a winning sports team. Here’s hoping that coach Nola and his Bears have begun the healing of a fractured community. Thank you and congratulations. We wish you success and a Hershey Bar next week.

Email chain letters drive me nuts: I enjoy hearing from old classmates, current and former Clairtonians, and other blog readers. Many send me updates on the games (thanks Jay, Cal, and others), jokes, (thanks Bernie and others) and other news or just keeping up (thanks Vinnie, Carol, Lawrence and many, many others). But I get so many chain letters. They fall into well intentioned warnings (SENT THIS ON IMMEDIATELY!!!) or political crap, or heart tugging stories. But they all share the same urgency: “SEND THIS TO EVERYBODY IN YOUR ADDRESS BOOK!” which of course I refuse to do. Instead I research the emails, discover it is pure garbage, and reply to the sender with the results of my research. It amazes me that people will send on anything that tells them to do so. I was therefore equally skeptical when I received the following email:

Cleaning for a Reason

If you know any woman currently undergoing chemotherapy, please pass the
word to her that there is a cleaning service that provides FREE
housecleaning - once per month for 4 months while she is in treatment.
All she has to do is sign up and have her doctor fax a note confirming
the treatment. Cleaning for a Reason will have a participating maid
service in her zip code area arrange for the service. This organization
serves the entire USA and currently has 547 partners to help these women.
It's our job to pass the word and let them know that there are people out
there that care. Be a blessing to someone and pass this information

As is my skeptical modus operandi, I researched the email, worrying that it was a cruel joke to be perpetuated on folks who were ill. But to my joy and amazement I discovered it was real. I take my hat off to the organization and share this information with my readers in the event that you or a loved one could benefit from their services. Bravo and kudos to this not-for-profit organization.

Those were the days: Finally, since it is the holiday season I wanted to share a recent conversation I had with my grandchildren about cars and the good old days:

“Yup, in the REAL old days, when my father was a kid, car engines were started by throwing a switch inside the car then turning a crank that attached to the front of it. Speaking of cranks, even in my day, car windows had to be cranked up and down by hand and if you wanted to see better at night, you pushed the headlight dimmer button with your foot.

“There were no automatic door locks either. You had to go around the car and push each lock button down by hand. But some cars required the all doors to be locked from the INSIDE, except for the driver’s door.

“The coolest cars had four headlights and two different colors of paint. If you were able to afford a new car the first thing you did was have seat-covers put on so the kids did not stain the seats. The seat-covers could be clear plastic or multi colored. There was no air conditioning in the cars and heaters and radios were optional. And if you did get a radio it was AM only. If you drove a Buick the antenna (or aerial as it was sometimes called) was in the top center of the windshield with a knob inside the car to twist it down when the radio was not playing.

“In the 1950s FM was added to the radios and Chrysler actually offered a record player as an option in 1956. Bumpy roads ended that one in a hurry. However, 4-track tape players were able to fit inside a car, then an inventor out in Reno, Nevada name of Bill Lear who had built jet airplanes invented an 8-track tape player in the early 60s. Then came the smaller, more compact cassette tape and finally the Compact Disc. Apple was still a fruit and not an iPod.

“There were no Hondas, Toyotas, Nissans, Lexus, Infinity, or Acuras. The luxury cars were Cadillac, Lincoln, and Imperial, and the “low priced three” were Chevy, Plymouth, and Ford. In between were the Desoto, Edsel, Pontiac, DeLorean, Nash, American, Rambler, Packard, Studebaker, Willys, and hundreds (that’s right, HUNDREDS) of others.

“There was no such thing as power steering so young men often attached a knob to the steering wheel to drive one handed with the other hand around their favorite girl. How did they reach her? Well seats were called “bench” seats and two people could snuggle together on the front seat. What about the gear shifter? Oh that was on the steering column. Gears had to be changed manually, first, second, third. No, there was no fourth gear.

“Brakes sometimes had to be pushed with both feet with your back braced against the seatback in order to stop the car. The side view mirror had to be adjusted by cranking down the window and moving it by hand.

“Tires lasted 10,000 miles if you were lucky, and then they were often recapped. What? Recap? Oh, that was when a used, bald tire was put into a machine and more rubber was sealed to it. With recaps, you nearly had to use an inner tube. Inner tube? That was a soft rubber circle, like the one in your swimming pool that went inside the tire to keep air from leaking out.”

They were rapt as I told them about cars getting 10 miles to a gallon average, gas at less than a quarter per gallon, how engines overheated especially when crossing mountains, and how burlap sacks of water were a must have, hanging over the outside mirror, whenever taking a long trip.

“What did we do in the summer if there was no air conditioning? Well, cars had 4-50 air conditioning. Four windows down; 50 miles per hour.”

When I finally finished with historical accuracy my granddaughter summed it all up, “Oh, Grandpa, you tell such big fibs.”

A little blogging music Maestro… “Dreams to Remember,” by Otis Redding..

Dr. Forgot

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