Thursday, January 31, 2008

This Day in Rock History

Today is the anniversary of the famous concert on the roof of the Apple building by the Beatles. (no, not Apple computers)

Here's to the greatest Rock 'n Roll band of all time!
Hail, hail, Rock 'n Roll.

I love my country music, but I also love the Beatles.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Got Oreos?

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Hometown Boy

Years ago, during my first attempt at college, I was sitting in the library one snowy Friday, killing time before my next class. (For those of you interested in dates, it was 1977.) Being a history nerd I made a bee-line for the U.S. history shelf, where I quickly found a book to my liking. Flopping down in one of the library's comfy chairs I settled in to pass the next hour.
(No, I didn't steal the library's book...I ran out and bought my own copy.)

I had read other accounts of the Battle of the Bulge before, I had even spoken with several men who fought in the Bulge, but there was something about Toland's account that held my attention firmly. Half an hour into my reading I had an apostrophy, or is that an epihany? All humor aside, I had come to one of the photo sections. Scanning pictures I locked on the image of a bearded dogface, staring blankly at God knows what. Just then I looked down and read the caption and almost screamed. It read: "A 35th Division infantryman, Sergeant Joseph Holmes (Cumberland, MD.), battle-worn from the savage struggle near Bastogne in the early days of 1945."

I gasped when I read the name of my hometown. It can't be, I told myself as I read it again. Sure enough, there it was, good ol' Cumber-bumber-land. At that point I hurried to the desk to check out the book, then hustled over to the Humanities building for my next class. But something strange happened as I was walking through the lobby...I passed the payphone. It was one of those things that makes you go, hmmmm....

Grabbing the phone book I flipped to 'H' and started scanning. As I looked I kept telling myself that it couldn't be. After all it had been more than thirty years. But lady luck was riding with me, I guess, because there he was, Holmes, J. Dropping a dime in the phone I dialed the number, all the time wondering what I would say.

To make a long story short his widow answered the phone. She was pleasant and very polite, and she perked up when I told her why I was calling. Half an hour later I was sitting at her kitchen table while she showed me post cards, photos and other memorabilia that he'd sent home. Somewhere in the middle of the conversation I inquired about her husband and she told me that he died from cancer several years earlier. Going back to the postcards, she told me a few stories, most of which are lost to time, but I remember something about him spending a night in the cellar of a bombed out building wither several of his buddies drinking cognac.

Next, she moved on to the Battle of the Bulge and the photo that had led me to her in the first place. She related a story he'd told her regarding the picture. He said that, at the time...early January, 1945...he was suffering from trenchfoot and exposure. He also told her that it wasn't until sometime, much later, that he realized that someone had even taken his picture. After that, I thanked her for her time and went on my way.

Walking out of her home, my mind swirled. There were other questions I should have asked, and I kick myself today for not turning around and going back. But I had a feeling that it was time to go, a feeling that she'd revealed as much as she cared to. She was probably lying on her bed looking at his picture and having a good cry as I drove off, for all I knew. I hope that wasn't the case.

Needless to say I skipped class that day (it wasn't the only time) I also blew off a lunch date with a very young, and very gullable Goody Two Shoes.

It took me years to locate and secure a copy of that photo, but I finally did. Anyway, here he is, Sergeant Joseph Holmes from my a time when everything we held dear was on the line and courage wasn't in short supply.

And when he gets to Heaven, to St. Peter he will tell. "Another Dogface reporting, Sir. I've served my time in hell."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

One More Reason To Love Football

Yes, the Packers lost to the Giants, and I now have no reason to watch the Super Bowl...except for the commercials and the halftime show. But I came away from the Green Bay-New York game with yet another reason to love the game of football.

Ya gotta love the game to go for a stunt like this. And these gals do this at all the Packer home games.

Can't wait for next season!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Gadzooks...its Snowing!

For the first time in almost a month we have snow. Grabbing Goody Two Shoes digital camera I took a little drive this morning to capture a little of our little winter wonderland before the sun comes out tomorrow and melts it all.

A pine tree in Restlawn Cemetery

An apartment building on Piedmont Avenue

Helmstetter's Curve...minus the steam train

The Helmstetter farm

A rambling old house up off Piedmont Avenue. I wish I could say I lived here...sniff, sniff, I don't.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Watchful Eyes

The G-Men came through yesterday by beating America's Team in that stadium with the hole in the roof. How bout them apples, huh? Now the road to the Super Bowl leads through Green Bay...or by it's other name...T I T L E T O W N, U.S.A.

So, Sunday when the Packers take the field to play the Giants, they'll do so, not only in front of the entire screaming Packer Nation, but anyone out there with a television...and a few legends. One legend comes to mind real quick. Just take a look at the photo below.

Do you believe?

Saturday, January 12, 2008



Yes, first and foremost I AM a Steelers fan. I believe I've made that abundantly clear in several earlier posts. But, I also said that the Green Bay Packers are my sentimental favorite. I also said you have to love a 37 year old teenager who plays for the love of the game first, and money and all that other stuff second.

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Que up Heart's Magic Man. I swear, Favre never ceases to amaze.

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

For the love of the game...and hopefully another Lombardi Trophy.

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Love that Lambeau is Greg Jennings!

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Next stop...the NFC championship game. Now, if the Giants can beat America's Team (cough, cough, gag, weeze), the championship game will be played in Green Bay...on the frozen tundra.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Walking in the Shadow of Greatness

Ever since I picked up a camera I've been influenced by the work(s) of those who came before me as well as my contemporaries. Most of my early influence came from guys who made photographing trains an art. My favorite was William P. Price, but to those of us who knew him he was simply, Bill.

Bill was my favorite because he was from my hometown and he did his part to put the Baltimore & Ohio and the Western Maryland Railway on the railfan map. Confused? Let me explain. I noticed early on that many of the railroad magazines of the time were in love with the west: Union Pacific on Sherman Hill, the Santa Fe on Cajon Pass, the Southern Pacific climbing through the Sierra Nevada's, the Rio Grande on Soldier Summit, and so on.

Back here in the east Bill was out there, in the hills of my native western Maryland, as well as the hills of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. And he wasn't alone, some of the greatest railroad photographers of their time were there as well. Guys like O. Winston Link, Ross Grenard, John Krausse, Deanne Mellander, Bob Collins, Jim Shaughnessy, Herb Harwood, John G. King, Dwight Jones, and Don Ball brought back timeless images of the golden age of railroads here in the east: the Pennsylvania's struggle to haul trains over the Alleghenies at Horseshoe Curve, the B&O's assaults on Sand Patch and Seventeen Mile Grades, the Western Maryland's climb up the Alleghenies, the Southern climbing up Saluda grade, and the N&W storming up Christansburg Grade. Shots guaranteed to make any western photographer drool.

Time passed and I came along. I was young, uneducated in many aspects of photography, and had only the vaguest clue of what I wanted to do with a camera. Bill taught me much over the years. The funny part was that he knew what he was passing on but I didn't recognize his stories as these little pearls of wisdom. I thought he was just having fun talking about the good old days. But as time passed I learned, oh I did learn.

As long as I live I'll remember two things he said to me. The first was an answer to a question I had asked back around 1984-85. Bill gave up photographing trains by the mid-sixties and I asked why. He said, 'I looked around one day and realized everything looked the same. There was very little difference between a B&O GP-40 and a Western Maryland GP-40. But steam engines looked and sounded different. A B&O pacific type was different from a Western Maryland pacific, the B&O Mountain types were different from the C&O Berkshires and so on.'

At the time I thought that was about the dumbest thing I'd ever heard. He was the right guy, in the right place, at the right time. But then I woke up one day and it was 1995 and I looked around and found out how right Bill was. All the diesel locomotives that I had photographed over the years had changed. The B&O, Western Maryland, C&O, and the Chessie System names and colors were gone, replaced by mega-railroad CSX. What was even worse, cabooses were gone, replaced by battery operated flashing lights. Also gone were the interlocking towers and their human operators. Bill was right, oh Lord, was he ever right. Part of me curled up in a ball that day.

The second thing Bill said that I'll never forget came in 1985. I'd taken a drive with him up to Hyndman. On the way back down we stopped at Corriganville (my old hometown). Anyway we get out and walk up to the B&O bridge over Jennings Run. He had just released a video on the B&O and we were at the spot where he filmed a passenger train doing a 'roll-over,' meaning the train rolled over top of him. I asked how he did it. He said he mounted his camera on a board, went under the bridge and stuck it up between the ties and waited for the train to come along. No sooner had he said that, when he turns to me, with a twinkle in his eye and says, 'you know what I always wanted to do? I always tinkered with the idea of standing where we are now (right beside the eastbound mainline, at the east end of the bridge) and laying a sleeping bag on the ground behind me.' What for? I asked, taking a keen interest. 'Well,' he continued, 'the first eastbound that comes along, I'd zoom in real tight, fill the viewfinder, you know. And as he passed, I'd fall back on the sleeping bag, and roll, trying to keep the train in the viewfinder. It'd look like the train ran over me. Don't you see?'he asked with a slight chuckle. I've done some pretty zany things in the name of getting a photo, but Bill was crazier than I ever was.

I suppose the Camera Totin' Idiot was born that day.

Two of my teachers, and friends, Bill Price and John King, in 1989.

After his retirement, Bill moved to North Carolina and I saw him less and less. However, we did exchange Christmas cards, and we always include a snapshot in our cards. Here's a shot by Bill that came in a card in 1996. B&O EM-1 7619 on Sand Patch grade at Williams, Pennsylvania in October of 1953.

Bill is gone now, but he left a huge shadow, not to mention a huge pair of shoes to fill.

And now a few by me.

Well, Bill, how am I doin' so far?"

Not bad, kid, not bad. But I would've used a sleeping bag on that last one.

That's your shtick not mine. Besides I'm not that crazy.

Thought you were the Camera Totin' Idiot?

S'cuse me while I get my bag.

Now you're learning. Say, can I ask you a question for a change?


What's digital?

You have been gone a while. Come on. It's time I took you for a drive...

Friday, January 4, 2008

At It Again

Here we go; time for another round of bedtime banter between Goody Two Shoes and myself. I've no idea what triggered it. I can't even remember what we were tormenting each other about. All I do remember was that at some point she got the upper hand and quickly proclaimed her own special way. It went something like this....

Her:(in a hoidy-toidy voice) I'm perfect.

Me:(sarcastically)Yeah...then what are you doing hanging out with me?

Her:(matter-of-factly) Perfection needs a little imperfection.

Me:(hysterical laughter)

Her:(exhasperated) Go to sleep. (ticked off) And stop laughing at me!

Me: (stifled hysterical laughter)

I may not have gotten the last word in, but I got the last laugh.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

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