Uncle Bill, Aunt Barb, and the Kids were staying at our house for the day or so. In a day or two, we’d all be piling into the cars and heading down to a Jersey Shore beach house in Lavalette. As far as I was concerned, life couldn’t get any better. Aunt Alice and Aunt Colette came along too and, so did Grandma. It was going to be a little slice of Heaven on earth. A couple of weeks of pizzas, swimming, coffee cake for breakfast, the boardwalk, and fishing loomed before me like a giant sheet of Sunday funnies.

With vacation coming, I wanted to do a bit of work on my coin collection. I had just come from the bank downtown with a few rolls of pennies and nickels. Every few days I’d hit the bank up for some rolled coins and then take the coins home to see if there were any rare coins in the lot. Like many kids, I liked looking for rare coins. I had these blue coin folders. Say, I found a 1923-S penny in the pile of coins from the bank. I’d look in the folder to see if I already had that coin in the book. If I didn’t, or if the new coin was in better shape, I’d carefully place it into the designated hole in the folder. I guess most of my friends were into coin collecting. It was a kind of poor kids treasure hunt.

So, I’m squatting at the living room coffee table sorting through my fresh pile of pennies and nickels when Uncle Bill walked by. He couldn’t help but stop in his tracks and soon, he grabbed a chair and started digging though the coins too. It turned out that he kind of liked coin collecting too. Together, we found a few new additions for my penny book. There was a 1943 gray penny that was in better shape than the one I had so, we switched it out. Uncle Bill said how it would really be great if the coin was copper. I agreed. Copper 1943 pennies don’t seem to exist. During 1943, copper was needed for the war effort and so the mint changed to using steel for the pennies. There was a rumor that maybe a handful of copper 1943’s squeeked through but who knows. I don’t know if any were ever found. It would be worth a fortune to whoever found one. I guess it was a rumor that gave all coin collectors something to dream about as we collectively sifted through millions of pennies and nickels spread out on coffee tables across the world each day.

Uncle Bill noticed my Buffalo Nickel folder and picked it up. He noticed that I had quite a few placed in the book. He was right, I did have quite a few. For some reason, my nickel rolls from the bank, yielded pay dirt more times than once. There were just a few empty slots in my folder. Uncle Bill saw that the spot for the 1926-S buffalo nickel was still vacant. He and I both knew that it was the rarest of buffalo nickels. In fact, the coin folder left the spot filled in with a coined shaped cardboard disc. On the disc were the discouraging words, “EXTREMELY RARE.” I told Uncle Bill that I figured I’d find all the rest of the nickels sooner or later but, that 26-S, man, I don’t know. We both agreed that it sure would be cool to find one.

Uncle Bill looked at his watch. I figured that he was looking to see if it was time for a beer but, I was wrong. He said it was still a couple of hours to supper time. Then he asked me if there was a coin shop anywhere nearby. He said he needed to pick up a coin folder.

We wound up driving out to Rockaway Sales out near Dover. Back then, this store was more of a flea market than a store. There was something for everyone and it was cheap too. I knew they had a coin department. In fact, I bought a coin folder or two there not that long ago. Uncle Bill was tickled to learn that they sold fishing gear too. He wanted to get a new crab trap for the shore. Soon we were pulling out of the driveway and turning in the right direction. Uncle Bill hit the gas pedal, and we burned a strip

Down Main Street.

We got to Rockaway Sales in record time and went right in. The Coin Shop was downstairs right next to the tackle department. Things were looking up. I went straight for the penny section. I needed a 1929-D penny. I saw that they had one for a quarter. It looked pretty good to me and, I whipped out a dollar that grandma gave me before I left. Uncle Bill was talking with the other clerk. I walked over and they stopped talking. I wanted to show Uncle Bill my new penny. Uncle Bill thought it looked pretty good and then he asked me to go over to the tackle department and see if there were any crab traps on sale. He said he’d be right over.

I found a few pretty good crab traps in the bay fishing section. I kind of liked the one that wouldn’t let the crab run off with the fish head you used for bait. There wasn’t much worse than losing your bait on the first drop. I’ve seen it happen where the crabs steal the fish head so fast that you wind up having to pull the bologna out of your sandwich and use it for bait. I mean it was that or row home. Uncle Bill came by liked that one too. He bought three of them. It was buy two get one free. Rockaway Sales had great bargains.

We went past the coin shop on the way out. I asked Uncle Bill to wait up while I checked the nickel section. I wanted to see if they had a 26-S. They didn’t. I went back to Uncle Bill and said how they had one about a month ago but now, it’s gone. Uncle Bill said how he guessed that rare as it was someone must have bought it. Soon, we were peeling out of the parking lot and heading home.

Back home my father and Uncle Bill were drinking a beer and tying crab lines to the crab traps. I helped a bit. When we were done, I said how I was going to go back and fool around with my coin collection. Uncle Bill said he wanted to take a closer look at that penny I bought. He went upstairs with me. My kid brother Ed and the cousins were all out shopping with Grandma and my Mom that afternoon. I knew that, so I left my coin collection on the coffee table. I figured it would still be there when I got home. I was right. It was still there. The pennies and nickels were all mixed up in a pile on the coffee table.

I pulled out my new old penny and was ready to stick it in the folder. Uncle Bill wanted to look at it first. As he was looking it over, he stopped and looked around the floor. He was looking for his beer. He couldn’t figure where it went. I helped him look. I finally said how I figured he left it downstairs near the crab traps. Uncle Bill guessed that might be right. I volunteered to go down and get it. It was the least I could do after he drove me to Rockaway Sales. Sure enough, the beer can was sitting right on top of the crab trap. I grabbed it and took a swig. Then, I turned and ran upstairs with it before it got warm.

I gave the beer back to Uncle Bill. I told him that I checked for flies in the can and didn’t find any. He laughed and took a big sip as I got back to my coins. It was time to put everything away. The little kids would be home soon. I was putting my nickels into a shoe box, when I noticed a Buffalo Nickel in the pile. My eyes were pretty well trained to notice them. Instinctively, I grabbed it and was amazed that it was from 1926. I flipped the coin over to the reverse side and there right under the buffalo was a tiny “S”. I couldn’t believe it. I had a 26-S buffalo nickel!!!! It must have been in the rolls I got from the bank. I thought I had looked over the whole bunch from the bank earlier today. How could I miss this?

My hands just shook as I handed the treasure over to Uncle Bill. He held it in his hand and just whistled. Like me, he could only just whistle. I can’t begin to tell you how good it felt to pull the cardboard spacer that said, “EXTREMELY RARE” out of my nickel book. We both made sure the new arrival was positioned just right into its new home. God, but I felt so great and, it wasn’t the beer talking. No sir!   Dinner was called and I ate like a pig. It was meatloaf night.

I felt so good that I offered to do the dishes. I got them done in due time whistling a happy tune. I still couldn’t believe how I almost missed that nickel. Why didn’t I see it sooner, when I first opened the roll? The garbage was getting a bit out of control and was also a bit ripe. I gathered up the kitchen trash bag and was about to tie it off. I saw a slip of paper sitting next to a beer can right on top of the garbage in the bag. It made me smile. It was a receipt from Rockaway Sales.



As I look back and think about some of my most favorite jobs, I have to say that I really enjoyed working around boilers. I’m talking about the big industrial boilers that provide massive amounts of steam for heat and work. Some of these boilers were as big as semi’s. Heck, some were as big as ten story buildings. New and welded or, old and riveted, if they made a good head of steam, they fascinated me. I just loved being in or around them. A day lugging boiler tubes down into a dusty basement and getting covered in soot and sweat was just a fine day to me. A round or two of ice cold beers afterwards was just icing on a wonderful cake.

I was afraid of boilers as a kid. The asbestos covered boiler in my grandparents dimly lit basement looked kind of like a giant white octopus to me. The fire glow shining through the fire box door seemed to be more like a mouth that led to a belly full of fire. A fire just waiting for an unsuspecting morsel like me. I know one day I had to go down to the basement to get a can of beans. The boiler was off and I figured it was safe to sneak past it. I tip toed by the firebox door and got to the can cupboard. I turned around and was almost past the sleeping monster when all of a sudden its burner motor came on. Grandma had probably turned on the hot water spigot in the kitchen. I stood frozen in terror right in front of the firebox door as the motor awakened and growled. I couldn’t move. The fire ignited inside the firebox and a downdraft from the chimney blew smoke out of the fire door vents. There was this whoosh thump as the fire inside ignited and more smoke belched out the vent holes. For me it was feet do your stuff time as I turned and ran up the rickety steps. I ran up pretty darn fast for a five year old. I think I did the stairway in two steps as I screamed that the boiler was going to blow up.

As usual, no one paid me any mind. It seems that every time I went into the basement, I always came up the steps screaming the same thing. After about twenty trips well, let’s just say that I know how the boy who cried wolf felt. By the way, Grandma got me the kids book version of that story and insisted I read it a few times. She handed me the book again this particular day and told me to go read it in the sunroom. Then, she went down to the basement to get the can of beans I dropped.

The years passed and believe it or not I learned about boilers. I was a custodian at a school and they offered me free tuition and a bit of pay to go take a boiler operators license course. Passing the course would get me a New Jersey Black Seal License and a bit of a raise. Heck, why wouldn’t I go?

There was this great teacher for the course and he taught us quite a bit. I think his name was Mr. Buhot.   He taught us what to watch out for and what to do when the boiler was in a jam. Darned but he made it fun somehow. Our school boiler was just a teakettle compared to some of the boiler on line elsewhere. Mr Buhot spoke of boilers that were the size of houses and even bigger. He warned of the dangers that a boiler could face but, he also spoke of the great work they could do all over this great big wonderful world. I don’t know but, I guess I joined the boiler lovers club. I guess it pays to keep in mind that if there is something you’re uneasy about, it wouldn’t hurt to study on it. I guess that just makes sense.

You’ll like this.   One day, many years after my first day in Mr Buhots course, I found myself checking out the water treatment system in the biggest boiler I had ever known. This one was at least eighty feet high and sat in a building the size of half a football field. This was a far cry from my grandparents basement. This boiler provided steam for tobacco curing and the cigarette manufacturing process. When it ran, the ground vibrated but it wasn’t that noisy. Massive pumps provided water and fuel. They made most of the racket. Air blowers provided a hurricane of air for the firebox. The fire box alone was the size of a house. You don’t even want to know what the fuel bill was. Trust me, it was a heart stopper. When the bill arrived in the mail, paramedics were put on standby right outside the accounts payable office. They were often needed stat.

This boilers water to steam assembly consisted of huge drums at various levels and locations. Hundreds of curved boiler tubes ran between and into the various massive drums. Some drums held water. Some drums held steam. Some collected mud and sludge. There were so many pipes and drums that I’m sure no one knew just where they all were or what they all did. It was that complicated a device.

The day I chose to visit this boiler room, the production line was down so the boiler was running just to stay hot. It’s usual out flow of steam wasn’t needed. I stood at the front of this eighth wonder of the world with the chief operator. We were both just admiring the view. I asked the chief if he ever had any scary moments with this baby of his. He said, “Nope, nothings ever happened. We keep our fingers crossed real tight. So far so good. But, if something did go wrong it sure wouldn’t be pretty. We’d probably take out the town. Of course, we wouldn’t know about it. You can’t outrun steam.”

The boiler just hummed along as we stood there. I knew they were down but hot till the production line came back on. Still, I had to ask.   “So chief, are you using the steam for anything just now?” The chief said yes they were and, if I wanted to see what they were doing with all this power, I should just go take a look at the rear lower mud drum around the back.

I took the walk and passed whirling fuel pumps, water pumps, hissing fuel lines, and could feel the floor vibrating under my feet. When I got to the rear mud drum, I smiled. The mud drum sticks out about six inches to a foot. It gets pretty hot. There on the drum, one of the crew was heating a vented can of beans. They smelled pretty good.







Yesterday was just one of those days at the Chatterbox Drive In when the place went to the dogs. No, it actually went to the hounds. It was such a pretty September day that folks just couldn’t leave the pups at home. There’s just too many wonderful old rail trails in the area and dogs and the humans who love them just got to go for a walk. I sure can’t blame them for the inclination.

Sooner or later, man and beast get a bit hungry and it’s time to set the compass for Ross’s Corners and the Chatterbox patio. Dogs and their well behaved humans are always welcome out on the deck.

I love playing songs out under the overhang roof on a good dog day and yesterday was a good one indeed. Now that I’m older if a pretty girl comes by with a dog, I tend to look at the dog first and then at the girl. The afternoon was ripe with one dog after another. There were two German Short Hair Pointers that came by with their humans. They were dining on these old looking real tough bones that were wrapped with some kind of skin type food. One of the two was ripping that skin off the bone and reliving the thrilling days of yesteryear when his ancestors would have chomped down on an alligator leg for an afternoons snack. The other pointer was eating like a refined lady of means. She was taking just little nips at the skin coating but enjoying herself in the shade of the table. Both dogs drank Perrier. Their humans liked hearing that sometimes at the Chatterbox a German Short Hair Pointer and Beagle Rescue group do a motorcycle run to raise money for their specific rescue efforts. I think that the humans mentioned how they rescued their two dogs who were now knocking down a cheeseburger and ignoring the skin bones.

Dogs also come to the cruise night. This evening was no exception. As the sun started to set, I found myself entertaining Redd and his human. Let’s call the human Bob. Redd is named after comedian Redd Foxx. Redd looks like a fox actually. I’m thinking that way back Redd’s great great great grandfather might have been a real fox. Sure looked that way to me. Bob and Redd are bikers. Bob operates the motorcycle and Redd who is too young to get a license, rides shotgun on the back of the bike. No really, he rides just fine in a special box seat set up behind Bob. Redd wears dog goggles I think, and once secured in his seat box, off they go in search of adventure. Bob tells me that Redd just loves riding and is perfectly serene as they cruise the north Jersey roads and trails.

Bob and Redd were sitting near me as I was broadcasting from the Chatterbox-Wanderers Cruise Night. Bob sat in a nearby chair. Redd had his chin on my left foot and was trying a nap on for size. I came out of a song and started to do my usual talk up for 11th Hour Rescue. As I went through my routine, I looked over at Bob who was waving at me and pointing at Redd. At first I thought maybe Redd was about to mistake my shin for a fire hydrant but no. It turned out that Bob wanted to say that he got Redd at an 11th Hour Rescue Pet Adoption Center. As I’m trying to speak I could hear Bob saying how it was such a great way to get a new pet and how they made it so easy. The commercial kind of fell apart and got better as I mentioned with Bob’s agreement that the pets you get from 11th Hour were basically on death row at some kill shelter when 11th Hour came and got them to safety. Bob kept asking how anyone could kill such a sweet dog as Redd. I went on to say how I doubted anyone in such a shelter enjoyed the killing day but, they had no choice. Bob kept saying how he felt someone would have picked up Redd at that shelter but, he was so glad that 11th Hour saved the day.


Bob was Redd are pretty much a team. Bob was telling me how he had a dog before Redd that was getting old. Bob thought that it might be a good idea to get a second dog into the home before the older dog went to that big kennel in the sky. That way the older dog could teach the house routine to the younger dog. I don’t know much about dog training but, that sounded like a great idea to me.

Bob said how on a whim and for no real reason, he decided to ride his motorcycle off to a nearby mall one Saturday morning. It’s funny, but he parked by chance right near an 11th Hour adopt-a-thon. He decided to look the dogs over and Redd somehow ran over to him from down one of the aisles. That was it. Since that time, they’ve been riding motorcycles together and taking daily walks at a nearby reservoir every morning. When the older dog passed away peacefully, Redd was there ready to take over.

Redd and Bob came to the Chatterbox in a Thunderbird Convertible last night. They looked pretty cool as they headed home with a bag of burgers. They left a bit early. I guess they had to get up with the sun to make it to the Resevoir trail by sun up.




I had spent most if not all of my morning at Operation Chillouts Summer Vets Fest and it was time to hit the road. I had to get to the Chatterbox for the Wanderers Cruise night. It was a beautiful day so far and it was going to be busy up there in an hour or two.   It was time to get up the road.

As I went through the exit gate, a motorcycle run was arriving. It kind of looked like Vikings had somehow invented motorcycles and discarded their tall ships. Tough as they looked coming in, they were all pretty much a good crowd. From the Rolling Thunder and Blue Knights patches on their leather vests, I figured all was well. It was almost like seeing Jeb Stuarts cavalry coming up to lead your lines advance. Their tough frowns aside, I would imagine mostly that beer sales in the festival were about to climb to record heights. Mostly these guys were going to just add to the diversity and fun. It wasn’t long before the engines were shut off and smiles started to pop up as they talked with each other about the big ride they just enjoyed.

I walked past the motorcycles that were parked and did my best to stay out of the way of the ones that were still maneuvering into a slot. The lot was getting quieter. Only a rumble or two remained by the time I got to the far end of the lot near the road. And then, I saw it.

It stopped me in my tracks. Right in front of me and out on the road was this huge fire truck. I think you call it a tower pumper. It had this massive telescoping ladder tower combination with a huge pipe running through it. At the top end, there’s a pretty big basket with one murderous water cannon mounted and ready to boogie. This thing would put a real damper on your barbeque. Although it could probably fill your swimming pool in a second or two.   Wow! What a truck was all I could say under my breath. It belonged to the Flanders, NJ Fire Company and they had it polished up and shinning in the sun.

They had the tower extended out and past the cab about thirty feet. From the nozzle basket, a huge American Flag hung over the road. I’d say the flag was about twenty feet wide by thirty feet long. They had it hanging over the entire road much like a curtain with its bottom standing about fifteen feet above the road surface. It was a heck of a sight. One of the firemen, a young fellow and kind of thin, was standing in front of the trucks cab. I think he was eating a buttered roll.

I told him that he had one heck of a battering ram there. He laughed and said he figured I was right. We both guessed that ladder top wouldn’t leave much standing of any wall if you reached warp speed before you rammed and then the hose would rinse the remaining fragments down the drain.

I found out from asking that the ladder could extend to the point that the guys in the basket could easily give King Kong a shampoo without breaking a sweat. I asked the young crew member if they even had any buildings that tall in Flanders. He said that there weren’t that many. Only a few here and there around the town. I wondered why they even needed such a behemoth in a relatively small town like Flanders. The young man must have read my mind. Before I could say that much, he asked me if I recalled a recent warehouse fire down near New Brunswick.

I did recall that fire. That was one fire that would have been hard to not notice. It happened about a week and a half ago. A huge warehouse caught fire and it all went up. I think it took a week or more to extinguish. The building took up a few city blocks and just wouldn’t go out. The young fireman told me how they were called to that inferno to provide mutual aide. They were gone a few days and, pumped tons of water on it. He said since they’ve had this truck, it’s been one mutual aide callout after another. He was pretty proud of that. He should have been.

I’d forgotten about mutual aide calls. When some situation gets crazy and out of hand, the call goes out. Some if not all of these call outs are for serious situations. Guys like this young fellow get to it as fast as they can. While others are running away, they are running to it.   Things can go wrong in a heartbeat. That ware house for instance, could have had something explosive or poisonous just waiting for the flames to hit it and then, WHAM!!!   You could say firemen are nuts and, you’d be right. But, thank Heaven for them. They’re made of the same stuff as our best soldiers. They just fight a different enemy.   Bless them.




After living a long and I think pleasant life out in New Castle Pennsylvania, my Aunt Alice passed away after a short illness. She lived a very long life and was lucky to spend it with wonderful family members. I was busy with my records and messing with my web station when I got the news of her passing.  I stopped whatever it was I was doing and just sat there thinking and remembering. I decided that one of my blurps was in order and that it should be about how Alice in her own way contributed to where I am now.

Alice was Moms youngest sister. Mom was the oldest and there were two sisters Colette and Barb that came along in between.   Mom’s Dad died pretty young leaving Grandma to rule the four girls with an iron fist. I shouldn’t give you that impression. Grandma was a sweetheart. Still, she was in charge.

Mom was the first to get married so, I was the first kid to come along after the war. You can just imagine the treatment I got whenever my Dad and Mom made the trip from New Jersey to New Castle with me. Grandma and Moms sisters all lived together and would plan my reception ceremony for weeks.  For me, it was like going to heaven without the bother of dying. It seemed that I’d just have to walk in the door and stand in Grandma’s kitchen and wait for the shower of penny candy from the five and dime followed by hugs and kisses. Soon the new shirts, ball gloves, water rockets, meatballs, comic books, and tins of potato chips would be laid at my feet. Sometimes it would be an hour or two before I would even touch the floor. I’d be covered in lipstick. God, but I loved walking thru the door and into Grandmas place.

One day during a visit, I was in Grandma’s living room walking off a three bowl meal of spaghetti and meatballs. I noticed a strange and large device standing in the corner. It looked like a big wooden cabinet with doors and a lid. It also had all these knobs and dials on it along with a dark window running along the top of the front panel. The front panel had columns running up and down and, there was cloth between the columns. The whole thing was taller than I was and the wood was shinny. I just stood there in front of it looking it over.

“That’s our record player,” I heard someone say. I turned to see Aunt Alice sitting on the sofa. Just like me, I think she was kind of letting Grandmas feast settle in too. Alice continued, “It’s a radio too. Do you want to hear it? I shook my head yes and, that was the start of my love affair with radio and records.

Alice stood there with me and went over the instructions.  She let me hit the power button. I can still see the yellow green glow that filled the dim living room with light to all of its corners. She was there when I hit my first selector button. She guided my hand when I tuned into my very first station. She pointed out how the guy on the air talked so perfectly.  That was great stuff for me but, Alice went even further and sealed my fate.

She lifted the lid on top of the cabinet and picked me up to look inside. There in the dim light of Grandmas living room I got my first glimpse of a state of the art automatic stacking multispeed turntable.   I remember seeing all these brass colored metal arms and a cloth covered record platform. There were dials and switches and the whole thing balanced itself on springs. It shook as I touched it. I shook as I touched it. Oh, I was so hooked. Alice got me a chair and showed me how everything worked. I almost fell into the record player pit but, she caught me.

To be fair, my Mom and Dad had shown me how to work the kitchen radio back home. To their credit, they got me a nice kids turntable too. They showed me how it all worked. I had more than my share of Bugs Bunny records back home but they had nothing like this giant state of the art polished wood cabinet model the size of a small building at our home back in Mine Hill, New Jersey.

The other incentive I had to start my lifelong love affair with records and talking was that back in New Castle, in Grandmas kitchen, I had my first audience. I’d pick out a record and then another, and maybe another and place them on the spindle. I’d be careful to handle them only by the edges. I’d then run into the kitchen and holler for everyone to stop whatever they were doing and listen to the songs I found. Sometimes I’d know exactly who the singers were or, I’d know the title of the song. I’d holler it all out into the kitchen from the living room. It was my first gig and I had the highest ratings in Grandmas house.   At four years old, I was at number one in my market.   Alice would sometimes give me a nickel to play a special song just for her. I guess that was my first paying gig. Gosh, Alice was my first sponsor.

You know, I had a pretty good teacher in my Aunt Alice.  I hope that old radio of theirs made it to heaven and that Grandma has some meatballs waiting just for her. God Bless Her.




Yesterday a fellow came up to me at The Chatterbox just before I was getting ready to go into the web with my show from the Wanderers Cruise Night. I like talking with folks and, this guy seemed to share my gift of gab. I’ve heard and told most of my stories so, I was very happy to listen to his. He had a good supply. I believe he was retired from the New York City police force. We talked for a while about the recent shooting attacks on officers throughout the country. We didn’t come up with any real solutions. We just agreed that shootings stink no matter what and, that it just seemed to be a shame that folks are doing that kind of thing to one another.

I noticed that the guy had a bit of a rasp to his voice and a slight cough. That was a kind of tip that he was once at the 9/11 world trade center attacks. I’m not sure if he was there on the actual day it happened. He might have been but, he didn’t talk about it. But, he was there for a good part of the cleanup. In fact, he may have been there for the entire cleanup.   It was tough on him.

If I understood him right, his task was to do an investigation each and every time a body was found in the debris. He and others with him would do all they could to identify the victims and come up with some idea of how they died. When he was done with that task, the bodies would be removed and given to their families. He knew many of the police, fire, and rescue personnel that were being uncovered. He knew them by name and at one time or another served with them. Some of the victims had coffee and maybe a doughnut with him a week earlier. Now, he was pulling what was left of them out of the pile and recording all the circumstances he could find. I know he wasn’t enjoying himself but, he felt that he owed these folks his best efforts so, he stayed at it.

He told me how one day, he was called to a mass uncovering. I may have the circumstances a bit wrong as I tell you what he went through. I’ll do the best I can to tell this right but, I may have some facts wrong. I apologize in advance for any unintended errors.

Workmen had just lifted a large chunk of debris. It may have been a heavy section of wall or, maybe, a floor ceiling assembly.   There were victims underneath the slab.   He hurried over to find three bodies. The workmen were standing over the small pit. Their faces were grim as they hoisted the slab from over the victims to a safer loading spot. My new friend said how he just stopped at the edge and took in the awful scene. The bodies were badly damaged by the crushing blow of that slab hitting them. One was a woman and the other two were men wearing uniforms. One may have been a paramedic. The other was a cop. The woman was apparently a worker at the trade center.

The investigator climbed down to them and squatted down next to the victims. The cop and the paramedic both had either badges or identification. My friend knew the cop. He didn’t know the paramedic.   The woman didn’t seem to have any apparent identification. Still, dental records and the clothes she was wearing might be all that was needed. It appeared that the trio died instantly. They were very flat. My friend was grateful that they didn’t appear to have suffered for any more than an instant. It looked to him like they were in maybe a dusty, smoky, and, blocked hallway. Perhaps they heard the rumble of the collapse above them and then pow, they were gone and on their way to heaven.

The floor of the scene was heavy with dust and junk. The investigator casually moved some of it aside and discovered that the woman was lying on something. It was a stretcher. She must have been injured somehow when the cop and the paramedic came upon her in the confusion. They must have been carrying a stretcher that day as they went into the trade center over and over again to get injured victims outside and away from the danger and off to hospitals. They may have made dozens of trips or maybe this was their first time inside. Who knows?

The investigator moved some more of the dust on the floor and, then he moved some more. He was on a mission. There was something he wanted to see and confirm. Soon he had the whole stretcher clear. Sure as heck he found what he was looking for. There at each end of the stretcher were the mangled and now decomposing hands of the cop and the paramedic. With all that was going on that day. With all that fear and danger to face. There in the face of hell on earth, my friend noted that the cop and the paramedic never let go of the stretcher.

He hoped that in a much better place the trio was drinking good coffee and munching really really great jelly donuts and licking their brand new fingers.




My father flew Corsairs during WW II. They were a pretty hot item back then. They went about as fast as you could ever want to go. A novice riding in one as it went through its paces would be barfing in a matter of seconds. Luckily for most folks, there was only room in a Corsair for just the pilot.

The old man loved telling and retelling the tales of his days up in the sky. One of his favorites was about one day in dive bombing class. The student pilots, affectionately referred to by the instructor as you @#%&X%&*** idiots, were having a rough day. They went up multiple times and took turns diving for and dropping dummy bombs on a giant bulls eye made of chalk dust on the ground. One bomb almost got the instructor standing a quarter mile away. He said he’d be safer standing on the target. Another bomb kind of just missed the control tower. You get the idea. It wasn’t going well at all but, the instructor had a plan.

The class was refitted with more dummy bombs and, they were ready to go aloft for a third try. The instructor lined them up and took off his hat. He went from man to man and ordered each student to put five dollars into the kitty. At the end of the line, he had $45.00. He took five of his own hard earned cash to make it $50! He then announced that the pilot who came closest to the bulls eye would get the whole Kit and Kaboodle. If they all totally missed the target again, he would get the pot. It was every man for himself and all against the instructor. With that in mind, they went back up.

No one on God’s green earth loves to win a bet more than my father. To make a long story short, the others went first and missed pretty bad. One guy got the target at least and that put the instructor out of the running. Though he did have to run from one of the bombs but, just a little.

Years later, my father would tell the tale of how he came out of his circle pattern and winged over into his dive. My kid brother Ed and I used to love seeing him use his hands to describe how the Corsair banked and turned into a screaming dive.   Then, he’d put his hands out in front of himself as if he had the control stick in his hands. You could see his thumb or forefinger was on the machine gun button. He spoke through gritted teeth of how the target just kept getting nearer and nearer as his speed increased to a zillion miles an hour. My brother and I would be running in circles screaming as he let the bomb go and pulled out of the dive just in time to miss hitting the ground by just a foot or two and then off back into the sky.

The bomb hit dead center. In fact, it broke the center pole they used each day to re chalk the target. When he came back and landed you’d have thought he had just stuck one down the main stack of the Battleship Yamamoto and blew it all to kingdom come.   Instead of a brass band and an admiral sticking a medal on his chest, he had the untold sum of fifty bucks in his pocket and soon, the night would be young and his to enjoy.

Now just this past weekend I was talking to an old high school friend. He’s a retired airline pilot who used to serve in the National Guard. He was helping out at Operation Chillout’s annual Vets Summer Fest. We were talking for a while.   It was kind of hard to hear him as we were right in front of the band stage but, I think I got the gist of what he had to say. It’s funny how pilots for the most part don’t care if it’s too loud to hear them talk. It might be that they really communicate telepathically. Who knows?

I remember Ken back in the 60’s flying his fighter jet low and fast over the Chester Firemans Fair. He was pretty low. People on the top of the Ferris wheel were about to abandon ship when he buzzed them at top speed.   His next run came in even lower and faster. Right over the fair at tree top level, he pulled back on the stick and gave it all the engine had.   He went straight up as this wild blast shook the fairground. Oh my God but, you could see right through the tailpipe into the sky above.   At least it looked like you could see through the craft. It was like a ball of pure glowing energy surrounded by a metal skin. Poof, he was into the clouds and gone. Ken’s younger brother Dave was standing with us. He said something like how Ken had mentioned that he might drop by the fair for a second or two to say hello. I guess he did.

As the bands guitars screamed even louder, Ken continued with a neat story. I hope that I have this right. It was pretty loud at the Vets Fest but, I think I’ve got it pretty close to right.   Ken and his squadron were ordered to fly to Norway to participate in joint NATO exercises. I guess the Russians were acting up a bit and the powers that be figured a show of strength might be a good idea. Ken and his fellow pilots packed a few things and flew east.

When they arrived Ken and his guys realized that the squadrons mission was to win at soccer and attempt to outdrink the Norwegians. Ken and his guys were up to the challenge. The commies had their spies everywhere so, the men had to do their best. After a week or so of soccer games by day and pubbing it at night, some idiot at NATO HQ decided a war game out over the North Sea would be just the ticket to put the Russkies in their place once and for all.

I may have this next bit wrong. The band was really wailing as Ken told me how he and his guys suited up and headed off to run a mock attack of a Dutch battle fleet. If I understand it correctly, the jets carry dummy bombs and try to hit the ships as the ships dodge and fire back without hitting the incoming planes.   Maybe, if they holler bang at just the right moment, it’s considered a hit. The fake bombs that the planes are dropping are harmless. As long as no one is on deck, they won’t hurt anything I guess. Judges, I think, decide the outcome.

Much like at the Chester Fair, Ken and his guys come in fast and low to attack. But, I guess it didn’t go well. Either the bombs missed or the judges didn’t see them hit. I guess the first round went to the Dutch Battle Frigate. Ken’s calls of foul fell on deaf ears.   The guys were pretty sore as they headed back to the field in Norway.

It’s times like this that the tough get going. Back at the field, a plan was hatched and put into play. A new weapon was devised on the spot and secretly loaded into the bomb bays of the waiting avengers. This time there would be no mistake and no misjudging.   This time it was real.

The American jets came in lower than low. Sardines and anchovies in the cold waters between Norway and Denmark had to duck or be steamed. The Dutch ships appeared on the cockpit radar screens. The run commenced.   With proper altitude, proper speed, and, proper grit the four jets struck with a vengeance. At just the right moment, they released their payload. Bang, right on target. This time there would be no mistake.   Mock destruction was assured.   The Americans banked and returned to see the carnage as scores of Dutch damage control crews ran out on deck to remove something like five hundred rolls of toilet paper strung out like Halloween from bow to stern. God Bess America!!!!

Side note…..This historical event actually did have the effect of cooling Russian and NATO tensions. The Dutch Navy carefully rolled up the toilet paper and gave it to the Russians as a token of good will between our peoples.






The other day I was poking around Operation Chillout’s annual Fund Raiser. They call it Vets Summer Fest. It’s a pretty good sized festival. There’s a whole bunch of live bands, vendors, lots of great food, and pretty good beer I’m told. There’s a car show in the shade and, a pretty big motorcycle run ends there too. You couldn’t really ask for a better day.

I was invited to come by and take a look. I figured that I could poke around a bit and maybe come up with a blurp or two. I packed a couple of outdated three by five inch sale signs from my A&P. At an event this ripe with stories, I figured it best to bring three pens from my banks lobby. I got there pretty early. They were still setting up.

I wanted to check in with Major Tony just to let him know I was there. He plays guitar so, I went to the music stage. It was still being set up. Sound men and musicians were climbing all over it messing with wires and computers. There were guys sticking stage lights on overhead girders. A few musicians were hollering “check, test, check, check!” I think one guy slipped with a screw driver and pinched his finger pretty bad. He was hollering something else. It was the typical stage set up scene and Tony was in the middle of it.

He saw me and waved. I walked over and reported in with a bit of small talk. Tony had plenty of small talk to return. I asked a few questions about how the event was going. Tony figured that it was going just fine. Another taller fellow joined our group. I’m a professional blabbermouth so, we were having fun telling tall and small tales back and forth.

It wasn’t long before a guy came by and asked if he could put his stuff up onto the stage. He said he’d be playing in the second or third set.   I think he thought we were musicians or stage hands. Tony took over and said sure. He just told the guy to place it all to one side or another out of the way and it would be safe.   The guy asked if anyone could help him lug the stuff. It turns out that he had a sore or injured back.

Now, here’s the interesting thing. Tony and that other tall fellow didn’t even think twice. They just asked the guy to point out his vehicle and tell them what was supposed to go. There was no complaining, no saying to do it yourself, no hesitation, and definitely, no hollering for someone else to do it. They just headed for the guys car and started grabbing stuff. I helped too. I would have felt pretty dumb to just stand there. It took about two trips each and some of the stuff was heavy but, I didn’t hear one complaint or gripe. Actually, it was kind of fun. It felt right. The musician thanked us with a smile and said how worried he was, during his drive to the gig, that he’d pull his back out. He was very relieved. We wished him well and did a bit more talking about nothing.

I don’t think Tony or that other tall guy thought much about what they just did. I’m betting that the tall guy was a veteran somehow. He had to be. That trait of just taking care of it, whatever it might be, is so ingrained into a serving persons basic being. They’re just that way. “Taking care of it!” is squished into their basic DNA. Today, it was a few amps, a guitar, and a box or two of wires. Decades ago, it might have been a hill with a lot of unfriendly enemy soldiers holding it or, it might have been an injured fellow soldier out in the open who needed saving and, they took care of it.

Operation Chillout is made up of dedicated veterans dedicated to locating and aiding homeless vets. They’re taking care of it. Who’d expect anything else?




Let me run this idea by you.

I think most of you know that I operate my own oldies web station. You can hear it at www.dosouth.net   There, I try my best to be a friend in the night for anyone who cares to listen to any of my many shows. I feel it’s my calling to try and cheer up any and all who might log on looking to be entertained.   In fairness to sponsors, and because my listenership is scattered all over the world, I have stopped taking money for advertising. It didn’t seem fair to me to charge for advertising that wouldn’t be much help to hard working local business owners.

Instead of advertising, I’ve decided to ask for the support of my listeners. It seems to be the best thing to do. Of course, if a fan of the station can’t donate, I never hold that against them.

I also play oldies at events. Some of these events are for charity and, in some cases, I do the shows for free or for very little money. Yes, some gigs pay very well. But, lately, I’ve been trying to help at no charge or, for very little charge, the smaller charities that can be found in any community. I offer interviews, announcements, and talk ups at no charge. I’ve often played music or have done live web casts at their events. At many of these events, I have worked for free.

One other thing you may not know is that I have also written a book dedicated to the search for the little but, very important nice things in life. Its title is, The Book of Doc, Blurps the Starter Set.  People have told me they’ve enjoyed reading it. Some, I notice are now on their own path of searching for the good things in life that surround us all.

Unfortunately, I’m not made of money. Operating expenses, debt, and day to day personal bills are always banging on the door. It wouldn’t take much of a downturn to end my present efforts to make the world a better place. True, there’s always something positive to do in life and, I can find other ways to improve the world if I have to leave my broadcasting and writing behind. It’s just that the writing and broadcasting is what I do best. It would be great to do more of it, not less.

Here’s what I’m proposing to solve the problem.  If you donate at least $25.00 to my station fund through gofundme, I will send you an autographed copy of my first book. That’s easy enough but, here’s the kicker. For every $25.00 above the first $25.00 donated, I will send you an extra copy. If you send $100.00, you get four books. Now, if you send $100.00 but, only want one book for yourself, I will see to it that someone less fortunate, or a deserving charity or help group, gets the three copies you didn’t need. Those extra books could go to a church group, library, hospital book store, senior care center, or you name it. Heck, I’d be happy to send the books to you and you can donate them yourself wherever you might see a need.  It’s a Johnny Appleseed kind of thing.  Books get sent on their way to cheer up more folks, my station will continue to bring some happiness to others, and eventually, more books will be created. I’ll be busier than ever and Sandy, Millie the Hound, and I won’t starve.

Just  click on the big blue banner ad at the top of this page to respond friends or email me at docsouthshow@yahoo.com





I sometimes get perfectly good Blurps from messing around on facebook. Today I got a doozy. On one of my friends pages there’s a photo of a bare foot with this awful looking straight line abrasion running from left to right about two inches behind the base of the toes. That would be about right where the penny would be on a pair of penny loafers. Of course, with inflation, penny loafers would be more like fifty cent loafers. My guess from the look of the claw mark, is that the fellow won’t be wearing any shoes for a while. That’s one sore looking abrasion. Tap dancing and, kick boxing is out of the question for a day or two at least.

What happened you ask? If I understood it right, the man was power washing a deck and had the power washer set on kill not stun. It was so hot that he decided to do the job bare foot. Well, somehow the power washer, running at full blast, played the stream across his foot. Funny, but I’m about sixty miles from the Jersey Shore and I think I heard agonizing screams coming from that direction. I figured something was up. Boy, that had to hurt. Especially if there was some kind of caustic or acidic cleaning solution in the line. That would make a fellow want to do the Highland Fling for sure. Of course, it would be the first time the human voice ever out hollered bagpipes.

To make my friend feel better about the whole thing, and with the idea that misery loves company, I immediately sent him this posting of sympathy and consolation. I shared it with him and, since we all get nailed one time or another, I’m sharing it with you as a post. Maybe you’d like to share something similar for all to see. Just keep it clean. No cussing please. Perhaps, I’ll use the postings in my next blurp book.   The following is what I wrote.

Don’t fret, something like this happens to all of us sooner or later. I remember helping a baker make doughnuts. You boil them in hot oil and flip them with chopsticks to cook the other side. While I was flipping a batch, someone hollered a question to me and I turned to answer them. My advice is to never take your attention off of a hot vat of oil. My fingers went in right up to the second knuckles. The chop sticks are still stuck in the ceiling boards. With a little powdered sugar on ‘em, my fingers my fingers looked so swollen that they looked like crullers.