Sep 28, 2008


My father was no fool.  When I turned 16, he knew I wanted a car in the worst way.  My brother and I had worked in a service station for several years and had rebuilt several engines.  My dad knew I was a gearhead and wanted a car.  He offered me a deal.  I could get any car I wanted and he would pay for half of it.  I would have to pay for insurance, gas, and upkeep.  Pretty simple terms.

He knew that I had saved up some money from my newspaper route, working in the gas station, mowing lawns and washing windows, but he also knew I'd find the absolute best deal to be had in a car, knowing that I was still on the hook for insurance and gas.  I started searching for the "right" car.  It didn't take long.

A friend of the family was Judge LeRoy (Roy) Walbridge of Saratoga County, north of my home county of Schenectady.  Roy's Aunt Margaret had a 1936 DeSoto 4-door sedan with 15,682 miles on it.  This was in 1956.  The car had averaged a little over 500 miles per year!  Aunt Margaret was in her 90's and had to relinquish her driver's license.  I was the beneficiary.  I negotiated a price of $100.00.  My brother had to drive the car home from Saratoga since I didn't have my license yet.  And my father was only out $50.00.

For the next couple of months I waxed the car every weekend and drove it up and down our driveway.  It's a wonder I didn't destroy the clutch.  I named the car Alice after my high school history teacher, Alice Holmes.  The car wasn't terribly attractive, was old, kind of dumpy -- well, you get the picture.

I commuted to my high school for the next two years and then drove the car all through college.  When I sold it (her?), her odometer showed over 120,000 miles.  Now that's economical transportation!

The Flavor of Reggae...

In the 1970's, while I worked in southern Mississippi, I had a black roommate named Charlie Carter.  He introduced me to a whole lot of American culture that I probably would have missed, including the delight of barbequed goat.  Today, for reasons unknown, I had a craving for Caribbean food, so I went on a goat quest.

I'm staying in Farmingdale, New York and remembered seeing a couple of Caribbean restaurants a couple of miles south of here in Amityville, so I headed in that direction.  The first one I spotted was the Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery and Grill at 777 N. Broadway in Amityville.  There was no turning back; I smelled the sweet fragrance of Jamaican cooking!

I was welcomed by the heavy beat of a Reggae band played way too loud on a Wal Mart stereo system.  Soon, Jimmy Cliff was wailing "Many Rivers to Cross."  It brought back recollections of a rare (1973) but wonderful film, "The Harder They Come."  The Golden Krust was decorated in early spartan with three tables surrounded by chairs.  The menu was a plastic illuminated affair like you'd see in any fast food establishment.  It seemed evident that a lot of their business is carry out.  There was one customer, a young dreadlocked fellow in a hooded sweatshirt who had already eaten and was apparently smitten by the attractive young lady who asked me what I would like to order.

It only took a second to see the magic words -- CURRIED GOAT.  I ordered my entree.  Would I care for fried plantains?  Rice and beans?  Steamed vegetables?  I answered, "Yes, yes, and yes."  The total cost, including a soft drink, was under $10.  I got my drink and proceeded to a table.

The amount of food was overwhelming.  And, the goat was fabulous, as was the rest of the meal.  As I ate, several dozen customers came and went, all with carry out orders.  Charlie Carter would be proud.  As when he used to take me out, I was the only white face in the crowd.  I shall return.

Sep 18, 2008

One Man, Amazing Music...

I have started learning to play guitar. My fingers don't go where I try to put them. The tips of my left fingers feel like raw meat. I feel totally uncoordinated. Then I run across Adam Fulara, a young Polish guitarist. I can't believe what I'm seeing!!!

Sep 13, 2008

Thwarted Plan...

My great-grandfather George Neddo built canal boats in his Whitehall, New York, boatyard.  The history of these commercial vessels is celebrated at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, Vermont.   I had planned to visit there this weekend, but when I heard that hurricane Ike might be causing gasoline shortages, I decided not to go.

One attraction of going to Vergennes is to go aboard the Lois McClure.  The Lois McClure is an accurate reproduction of the kind of canal boats George Neddo built.  She combines the size and shape of an 1860's canal boat (88 feet by 13 feet) with a schooner sailing rig that was used to cross open water.

The boat was named after Lois McClure, the widow of the late J. Warren McClure, newspaper owner and well-known Vermont philanthropist.   The McClures are legendary in Vermont for the  millions they have contributed to charities in their state and beyond.

The canal boat has been used as a traveling museum, recently touring a number of ports in Canada (Fitting, I might add, since the Neddos were really the Nadeaus, who had moved from Canada after George Neddo's father was charged with treason as a member of Papineau's Army in the 1830's. But that's a story for another time, eh?).

Sep 8, 2008

Highly Recommended!!!

I stayed home last week. A few months ago Mary Ann had given me DVDs of the HBO miniseries John Adams. We watched the whole series over the course of three nights. This is a fabulous work of art based on David McCullough's Pulitzer-prize-winning biography of our second president. I recommend it to all.