Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pittsburgh Math

The NFL season is about to get underway and my Steelers are looking to defend their 6th world championship. So, in the spirit of good fun...and a whole lot of bias I offer this simple mathematical equation.

What it is...

What it was...

What it shall be!

Where did I get the numbers? Training camp...where else.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Been A Long Week

Three days after getting home from our Tennessee vacation my step-father passed away. Bill had been sick for quite sometime, and while his passing was expected, it was still a shock.

He and my mother were married for almost twenty years and until this past February he'd never had anything worse than a cold.

He was a great guy, a christian gentleman, and he was good to Mom. He was also a grandfather to my kids when most men wouldn't have wanted to fool with them. We miss him already.

His obituary from the Times-News

RIDGELEY, W.Va.— William F. “Bill” Morgan, of Ridgeley, W.Va., went to be with his Lord and deceased family members on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2009, at the age of 90, at his home with family members by his side.

Born on Dec. 5, 1918, in Cumberland, he was the son of the late Merten Isaac Morgan and Julia Pleasant (Hymes) Morgan. He was also preceded in death by his first wife, Elizabeth (Stewart) in 1988; one sister, Mary Rice, and three brothers Melvin, Harold and Homer Morgan. He was the last member of his immediate family.

After Bill attended Allegany High School, he worked as a charge hand at the Cumberland Celanese Fibers Plant, before joining the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. He graduated from radar school at Boca Raton, Fla., and served in Europe as a radar technician with the 306th Bomb Group. He was always ready to talk about how he was on the cutting edge of the new radar technology, and had many war stories to tell. He finished his service to his country as a sergeant in 1946.

Returning to Cumberland after the war, Bill graduated from Catherman’s Business School. He began working at Super Concrete (on Henderson Avenue, now Cumberland Concrete in LaVale), and retired from there in 1981 as the President and part owner of the company. He also was a bookkeeper and tax preparer for a number of contractors and business individuals over the years.

Bill belonged to a variety of business, community, and church organiza?tions over his lifetime, including the LaVale Methodist Church, LaVale Fire Department, Cumberland Chamber of Commerce and Western Maryland Contractor’s Association. Bill was very active for a number of years at Holy Cross UM Church in Carpendale, and became a Certified Lay Speaker in 1990. He was treasurer of the Union Grove Camp Meeting Association, and member of the September Singers. Recently, he had been attending Grace Brethren Church, Cumberland. Bill’s love of playing the guitar and singing gave him and others pleasure throughout his life. He played at many worship events and local nursing homes. He could play by note or “ear” on the banjo, violin, mandolin and harmonica. In his younger years, Bill enjoyed hunting, especially turkey.

Bill was very blessed to have two special women in his life, Elizabeth and Marian, and he enjoyed 90 years of good health.

Survivors include his second wife, Marian (Smith) Hutter; a daughter, JoAnn Brotemarkle and husband David, of Bel Air; a grandson, Aaron Morgan Brotemarkle and wife Natalie, of Bel Air; great-granddaughters, Kayla Elizabeth and Megan Rose Brotemarkle; a granddaughter, Kristi Lyn Perkins and husband Kip, of Nashville, Tenn.; stepgreat-grandsons Jacob Hartman, USAF, Texas, Jesse Hartman, of Keyser, and Chris and Chase Perkins, of Nashville, Tenn.; stepgreat-granddaughter Lacey Hartman, of Keyser; one stepson, Paul Hutter and wife Ann, of Cumberland; stepgrandson John Hutter, of Clarksville, Tenn; stepgranddaughters Lori Hutter and Sara Hutter and fiance Aaron Clark; stepgreat-grandson Jackson Clark, of Cumberland; sister-in-law Gerda Morgan, of Victorville, Calif., and a number of nieces and nephews.

Friends will be received at the Scarpelli Funeral Home, P.A., 108 Virginia Ave., Cumberland, on Monday from 4 to 7 p.m.

Funeral services will be conducted in the funeral home on Tuesday at 2 p.m. with the Rev. Fred Iser officiating.

Interment will be in Sunset Memorial Park.

Military honors will be accorded by the Post 13 Veterans Honor Guard.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations may be made to Hospice of Potomac Valley Hospital, 167 S. Mineral St., Keyser, WV 26726.

The family would like to especially thank the Hospice workers from Potomac Valley Hospital for the loving care and support given to Bill and his family, and for his caring sitters, Ethel Durst, Matilda Wilhelm, Doris Tomlinson, and Kathy Friend.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vacation's Over

Where to begin? Well, first of all, we never got to see Cheap Trick. The concert was cancelled. Seems one of the guys from Def Leppard had a death in the family. While I'm sorry for his loss, I wish Cheap Trick and Poison would have still played. I guess the old saying, "The show must go on," doesn't apply anymore. And while visiting with our son was the most important thing, we still paid out a lot of money for hotel rooms and food and gas and other things.

The other down note from our trip was that whoever inspected our new(er) vehicle before we signed the papers and drove it home, didn't get all the lug nuts tight on the right rear wheel. We felt the vibration and heard the 'whump, whump, whump sound and got stopped before any real damage had been done. Here, you can see the results for yourself.

One lug nut was gone and it's stem was sheared off. All four remaining lug nuts were so loose I could turn them with my fingers. If something like this doesn't take the wind from your sails, nothing will.

Other than that we had a good time. Ate at a lot of nice places, went to Nashville and spent the day just poking around. Since the concert was cancelled we ended up with more time to visit with our son and Goody Two Shoes brother and his family.
Down on Broadway. Legends with the Ryman behind it.

Tootsie's Orchid Lounge

A street performer down at the corner of Second and Broadway.

The latest fashion trend?

Goody Two Shoes, the Camera Totin' Idiot, and Deputy Dawg down by the Cumberland River.

Skippy and his girlfriend.

Custom Harley's

Hot country music at Legends

Ran into the Fab Four in Legends.

Ever see a toilet seat guitar?

Jonesboro, Tennessee, on the way home.

A B&B in Jonesboro.

Main Street in Erwin, Tennessee.

In the Beatles booth at the Fuddruckers in Johnson City, Tennessee.

Bristol Motor Speedway....or Thunder Valley, as they call it.

Last stop on the way home. Thurmond, West Virginia. Had to drive over this bridge.

The Thurmond Depot. The whole town is now run by the National Park Service.

What's left of Thurmond's business district. The movie Matewan was filmed here.

The window of the National Bank.

Miner's homes on the hillside.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Training Camp

Goody Two Shoes & me drove over to Latrobe to watch the World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers practice. At the moment they have 82 players on the roster, which will have to be weeded down to 52 or 53 by the end of camp in three weeks. Here's a few snaps of yesterday's fun.

Big Ben and the 1st unit offense

Big Ben, Matt Spaeth, and Hines Ward.

Pitch and catch.

Big Ben

Coach Mike Tomlin

A.Q. Shipley from Penn State

#1 draft choice Ziggy Hood

The back of my shirt kinda says it all.

It's gonna be a fun year!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I'm Quoted!

Someone actually reads my blog and used something I said in an article. Back on July 13 I wrote a post titled 'Old Faithful' about the lost of the Helmstetter barn along the tracks of the scenic railroad. Two days ago, the Cumberland Times News published an article on the loss of the barn and a number of efforts underway to help the owner. The article is posted below and the opening lines (in yellow)are from my original post. I happily, but humbly say thank you to Mr. Spradlin and the Times-News for using my words.

Train ride to aid Helmstetter, a farmer and railroad friend

Kevin Spradlin
Cumberland Times-News

LAVALE — “It’s very sad, as a landmark I’ve known since I was a boy is now gone,” wrote a man lamenting on the devastating July 9 barn fire on the property of a well-known farmer.

But as the writer later pointed out, “life goes on,” and now members of the community are gathering to aid John Helmstetter, of Helmstetter’s Curve along what is now Western Maryland Scenic Railroad’s path from Cumberland to Frostburg. Helmstetter, 67, lost a dozen cattle, some equipment and his best friend and employee, a border collie named Teddy.

“He was an extremely good working dog,” said friend turned fundraiser Carl Franz, who formed the John Helmstetter Farm Fund Committee with Bill Larduskey and Steve Barry, of Railfan and Railroad Magazine.

“He helped John take cows out to pasture in the morning and helped bring them in at night.”

Helmstetter was injured in the blaze while trying to save some of his animals. The barn, of classic Mid-Atlantic design, featured a bank in front and a cantilever overhang in the back with a silo.

Farming, Franz said, “is John’s life. Frankly, I don’t know how he supports himself. Today, you need a big farm and be highly automated. Still, 10 good years can be wiped out in a single (bad) year. He doesn’t know anything else. He doesn’t want to know anything else.”

And at his age, Helmstetter’s friends don’t think he should have to. So railroad fans who stop along Helmstetter’s Curve along the Great Allegheny Passage trail — railroad fans from across the country — are organizing a Western Maryland Scenic Railroad train ride Nov. 9. The benefit ride will feature a stop at Helmstetter’s Curve, where camera-toting passengers can get off and photograph a freight train blowing smoke followed by vintage freight cars rounding the famously scenic point. With multiple passes, photographers will have several opportunities to capture on camera what the scene looked like more than 60 years ago.

The area was made famous by former Times-News photographer William P. Price, who began taking train photographs in the 1930s. Price died in 2002 but his photos of the area continue to be widely circulated.

Efforts to aid Helmstetter also include selling limited-edition prints of a 10-inch by 14-inch photo of Helmstetter waving to a passing train. The prints will be signed by Helmstetter. A local running group also is coordinating a benefit run and walk for Nov. 8. Proceeds from the event, to be run partially along the trail and on the Helmstetter farm, will benefit Helmstetter directly.

Supporters also can make a separate donation or purchase a copy of the video “Photo Freight,” featuring Western Maryland 734.

The curve is one of the most famous pieces of railroad in the eastern United States, according to a Web site established for the John Helmstetter Farm Fund at And Helmstetter has been a friend to rail fans, friends and strangers alike, for decades. He’s allowed access to his land and buildings for photography and allowed the removal of large trees and brush from his hillside near the tracks for better viewing opportunities and to return the scene to how it looked in the 1940s. Helmstetter also has used his time to mow and brush-hog the railroad’s right of way and adjacent fields.

“There are so many people who have rallied around John,” Franz said. “People from all over the U.S. are contributing to this fund. John is a true gentleman farmer.”

A John Helmstetter Farm Fund has been established at M&T Bank in Cumberland. Donations can be dropped off there or donors can go online to Funds raised will not be used to rebuild the big red barn, nearly 110 years old at the time of the fire. Instead, it’s to help Helmstetter maintain what many feel is his rightful and deserved place along the scenic route.

“He wants to wake up every morning and see that sun rise on Cash Valley Road,” Franz said.