Of Mooncursers and other Spun Yarns

Of Mooncursers and other Spun Yarns
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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Saturday, October 28, 2017

                                                The Thingy


                                              Douglas G. Pollard Sr.

There is this thing invented by early man and handed down over the centuries by virtue of it's usefulness, service and beauty. A thing that gave comfort to millions, from new mothers, young warriors home from the wars to the elderly and infirm. It's an instrument of health, and an exercise machine for the muscles, vascular, nervous system and mind. It is a harbinger of good thought and serene imaginings. I defy anyone when using the instrument to conjure up a troubled thought. There is no better place in the world to think, rest, or read. It is an escape from the rigors of worldly pressures that rivals the use of deadly opiate anesthesia.

It's the perfect place to study, think, pray, or read the Bible. A place to contemplate the universe or delve into some book of demanding study! There is on better place to suspend staunch and rigid realism or except the flights of fancy of some printed word.

What is this, this instrument? By now you are likely to have guessed. Of course it's the now lowly and often overlooked rocking chair. We have to wonder why its place today is a distant second and relegated to the porch! A nice rocker is a thing of curves, lines and surfaces that satisfy not only the user but the casual observer.

In early America and Europe and all over the world where our ancestors grew up and lived, a young newly married man was soon to learn from his young wife that there was to be a child. He was likely over come with awe and great tenderness toward his lovely bride. He felt a desire to shelter and protect her. He wanted to give her a gift that was fitting, luxurious and flattering to her now swelling figure. It must be useful and practical, in those days there was little use for the many foolish things we cherish today. This gift of a rocking chair if he had the skill was made by his own hand. The wood was chosen, lovingly planed shaped, and fitted together with care. It would after all be a practical token of his affection for her. It would no less be a meaningful gift for a soon to arrive child.

As the "would-be" mother sat in the rocker during her free time and practiced the age old therapy of motion, the sinew, muscle and her skeletal frame gently massaged the unborn infant in a rhythm that will for all it's life be comforting. NO living person can fail to enjoy the comfort and motion of a well made rocker that is suited to them.

We in our misguided wisdom after sitting in a stationary wood seat for a time find our bottoms getting tired so we head off for a pillow to sit on. Worse than that, we likely went off to a store and purchased stuffed furniture made to fit everyone and no one. Over time manufactures began to use the newly invented foam for cushions. Soft? Yes they are, and they feel luxurious as well. For a while! Most of us today rest on our back sides several hours a day or more and watch television or read. Sit a while and you will soon have to move your fanny or you will feel a tiredness or even pain in your lower back or butt. It requires another move to get comfortable. If you fail to move or squirm it is possible that blood may clot in the legs and in extreme cases, even move to the lungs. This in a rare case has been known to happen. Man was never built for long idleness while sitting. Your elderly mother or father may sit many hours more than younger people and there is danger there. They can suffer hip and back pain. Their discomfort may well turn into a chronic condition that is caused by soft cushions, I believe. The back side of our hip joints press down into that soft foam. These bones that carry our weight on a hard chair no longer do. I believe the flesh and muscle of our derriere now carry the load. That flesh and muscle press on the sciatic nerve and squeeze it where it runs through the pelvis. I am not a doctor and there is no reason for anyone to take my word for this, unless you see some logic in what I am suggesting. Everyone should suit themselves and believe what they will.

I have found on a couple of occasions in my life that the use of a rocker relieves this hip suffering.

If you take this advice, don't buy a rocker with cushions on it and don't put one on it. The hard seat will be slightly uncomfortable for a time but rocking will relieve that in short order. Sitting on a hard stationary chair puts pressure on specific spots on those hip bones and you have to keep moving around to relieve the pressure on the flesh between the seat and the bone. In a rocking chair, because you weight is constantly moving and are actually massaging you back sides.

While rocking can never replace the good use of aerobic exercise like walking or working out, it can be much more than an unconscious supplement during those relaxed hours in front of the television set and will never damage you knees as running might. You can burn some no so small amount of calories per minute for hours on end while rocking and it is nearly effortless.

If you think about what is going on while rocking you may have to agree with me that it is far better for you and I than us moderns might think. As you rock too and fro gravity is pulling on different parts of your body the whole time in a slow rhythmic massage. There again is that word massage, the two things do have a lot in common.,

I have wondered some what is the sense of well bing that comes to us all, as we rock. It is narcotic like and it can and will likely be addictive. It is relaxing and can be great fun when done with a child like intensity. In my opinion, one of life's greatest pleasure's is rocking while listening to fine music. Oh, so nice!

My prescription for depression is a good rocking chair. Can one be depressed in a rocker? I doubt it.

I think gravity plays a part in the relaxation of the mind. With a comfortable back and forth motion the mind can travel unfettered to wonder to far off paces and see imagined sights and think unthinkable thoughts. I think of it as, motion induced mind ease and travel. Is it the pull of gravity back and forth across our gray matter, and the gentle engagement of our brains against the forehead and back of the skull? Does the gentle motion of our brains while rocking contribute to a perceived sense of well being? Does it sooth our minds? I doubt a man ever contemplated murder while rocking gently in a rocker. Would the world be a better place if we were all rockaholics? I bet it would!

There are a few men and maybe women, I don't know about the later, that make hand made rocking chairs in a quality that rivals the master violin makers of the past as well as the many other old world and new world artisans. They build rocking chairs of exquisite beauty. Each is built to suit its intended owner in size and rocking cycle to deliver comfort and rocking pleasure. These are more than utility and intended longevity. These pieces are built of fine woods, swirling grains, knots and highlighted by natural discolorations, and are the handy work of mother nature, time and man. They are covered by beautiful finishes that serve to protect and bring out wood colors and natural patterns that one can never tire of.

One of these fellows is also a teacher on line of the craft and at what I would consider a reasonable fee, a person could go to him and learn both hobby and craft that might be enjoyed for a lifetime. So there may be more enjoyment in rocking chairs than just rocking. This, for someone who would like to achieve huge satisfaction with his or her hands and learn to build a highly useful work of art for gift, sale, or self, family or friends. These family and friend folks, better be highly prized relatives and closely held others because these are rockers of consequence. They sell for a Lot. For you fortunate fellows out there that have somehow found themselves by way of a bewildering set of events a bridegroom and soon to be husband of an expectant mother, the perfect gift of a lifetime is a rocking chair. If you are one who may not have the where with all, at a very expensive time in your lives, to buy a pricey work of art and lack the ability to build your own, there are really nice rockers out there for purchase at reasonable prices.

I just bought a second hand one for $79. at a used furniture store, and absolute bargain I thought. I have a desire to build a really fine rocking chair to replace it in the near future, and likely will.

If a buyer you are, a few hundred dollars will buy an exceptional one, but not the perfect rocker which must be built to the user's measurements. An individual should really try out different rockers for sitting and rocking comfort. A rocker may be comfortable but that is only one aspect of your rocker. It must rock at the right speed, distance and cycle time. Try before you buy.

At the risk of using a well worn phrase here, I would like to offer the idea that: A family that rocks together stays together. Have a rocker for everyone, and rock on folks.

Doug Pollard

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


    I Posted this video here in Memory of the Charles and Ruby Pollard family once at home at 1917 Robinwood road in Dundalk Farms. I was born in 1934 and raised there though the Pollard family moved to Dundalk in 1928. I was teased as being the only Baltimorian in the family.  The oldest son Charles F. Pollard Jr., my older Brother, served during WW2 IN Europe aboard the old Honeymoon Steam boat that ran Between Baltimore and Norfolk.  She was taken by the Government in 1942 and loaned to England  as they were in dire need of ships.  As a boy My dad and I used to row out into the Potapsico river off Sparrows Point and drift with the tide down the bay on Friday Night and return on Sunday evening. We had no motor or sails only a 16ft rowboat  with a set three oars in case we lost one overboard.  My father would tell the time by when the USS President Warfield passed us by.  The time of passing was published and all who fished the bay new what time she would pass a given point. Remeber few people had watches. She was the queen of the old bay fleet and felt like a friend
to me. He passing was a reminder that there was order in the world and all was not chaotic. I started making this video about the little ship from Baltimore to the Mull of Kinyre where she landed in Scotland  During the war. I am making the third edition that goes  from there and Beach Omaha France shorty after the D-Day landing by Allied forces. Version four picks up with her being renamed the Exodus that took part in the founding of the Nation  of Isreal. I felt she should be homered by a video of the duties she performed and her very important part in History, I hope she will take her place of honor for her part in World History.                  Douglas G Pollard Sr.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ever want to make a nail?  This is the way they were made for centuries. A lot of heat a pounding and a quench in water.  This is one of the nearly lost arts that is enthralling those of us who love such things. Heating hammering and forging bathed in heat an flame. Hot metal slowly cooling as hammering hardens the surface the metal is compacted, hardened and strengthened.   The world doesn't know it but it misses these disappearing arts. Never fear the day will come when they will be needed again.           Doug     Visit "The Mooncursers and other Spun Yarns"

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sailing Ships and Sailing Men

As a boy in the 1930's, I knew sailors. Most came home and swore off sailing ships for ever.
Drawn to a wild Baltimore waterfront life, they blew their wages on booze, women and gambling. They were shanghaied or signed onto a ship just to have a home for a time. It was not the sea they were drawn to, but instead, family.
A man, known to do his share high up on the yard arms, had respect.
On land, they were lowly and even tramps. Upon the sea, each a respected seamen! To stand his watch, furl canvas in rain and sleet then lend a hand on the bitter end of a sheet a new boy on board rose to man and mate.
Good people these, though not in a way most of us would recognise.
Among us modern sailboat sailors we may swagger and tell of hanging on with one hand and reefing a flogging sail with the other.
You could with effort, drag the same story from these square rig sailors, though they wouldn't say they were high in the air above mountainous waves reefing and tying as they rounded the notorious capes, driven by snowy squalls. To be 200 ft in the air in gale winds with a sails snapping and booming making every attempt to throw the watch to deck. Cut from heavy cloth, these men who worked, lived and died at sea.
A seaman I knew and was influenced by, was a Mr. Outabridge who fell from the main yard cracking his skull. He supervise the repair of it and inspired the character Doc in the Novel, Of Mooncursers and Other Spun Yarns By Douglas G. Pollard Sr. on sale @ Lulu.com .
My mothers brother Talmage Williams right after World War One was shanghaied aboard a sailing ship in to the far east. After a two year stint when his ship had not made a U.S. Port. He signed aboard a steam ship to Baltimore. Left in port at Tripoli where he had  gotten drunk and spent a couple weeks in jail for getting into a bar room brawl. That was his last duty under sail. Arriving home he lost his seaman's papers for a year for jumping ship. During world war two he stayed at sea almost constantly. He made the one and only Mermaske run through the North Sea hauling gasoline. They were close on the German coast and suffered bombings for several days. Talmage said they watch ships burning in the distance every night and all hands fully expected to die on that trip. IT was by luck that they were not attacked by German dive Bombers.
To find men like these today you have to look to our men fighting on the sands of the middle east. So, every Generation has it's men.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Last of the Pufferbellies in Dundalk

WE were at war! The Japanese had bombed Perl Harbor and Germany declared war. It was 1942! We were loosing the war in North Africa and we were being Driven back in the Pacific. We were melting down everything metal we could find. We kids collected aluminum pots and pans and turned them over to the fire department to be used in building airplanes.

The Baltimore News Post put a story on the front page that Steam locomotives would be towed to the steel mills to be melted down to build guns and ships. On that day hundreds of people walked down the streets to the railroad crossings to watch the locomotives being pulled through town.

America was well attached to it's steam locomotives. Lionel and American Flier toy trains were the most popular toys around every Christmas. Engineers were our heroes. We looked on steam railroads in aw.

There was more, we were watching the end of an era and everyone sensed it. It was also the approaching end of a way of life but we didn't sense that and it didn't come for may years. Our American love of machinery would one day become a love of cheap electronic toys. The highly skilled American craftsman was soon to be equated to the low level white collar worker.  The caftsman's skill and years of education and training was lost in a single generation.

Only thirty years later another long line of machinist, mill wrights, tool makers and die makers all tramped there way to big box stores to greet customers.

The pride of a nation, the machinery that provisioned a war on two fronts and overcame odds that the whole world thought America would succumb to was sold to the Chinese for pennies. We have been reduced to making electronic toys and calling this failure, progress.

Today we send our children to get a degree and become nothing more than specialized word smiths. Few thus educated have the ability to think outside the narrow area of their study.

It is the experienced mechanical Engineer that has gone with the machinery. The kids come out of college knowing nothing of real know how and there is no factory to gain the needed experience to become a truly qualified engineers. They don't even know they are lacking.

The Locomotives were only the first to go. Our lessor Gods, the production line would follow.

Our Children are educated to look back on those years of the assembly line worker as the dirty industrial years. Of course they were the years where America earned it's wealth to give our youth their educations. God Bless mass production.

I am sometimes accused of thinking outside the box. I reply, "It is not so.  I just have a bigger box than they."


Monday, March 14, 2011

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Oil On Troubled Waters

There is oil on the water in the Gulf of Mexico and it is not hard to get rid of a huge amount of it. As a kid I played on a creek near Baltimore that had an almost continual sheen of oil on it's surface coming from Nearby Industry. The creek had become barren of fish, crabs and sea weed. Natures way of cleaning the water was for dust and pollen to land on the water and roll with the wavelets. As these particles roll in the water they keep adding a thin layer of oil that is the sheen on the water. The particle grows in size and continues to increase in size, from then on. These we called grease balls. They were a kind of emulsion formed by a combination of water and oil. I have seen these balls as big as 6" in diameter with many more in smaller sizes. Any dust that will float will roll up into these balls cleaning the surface of the water.
A powder could be spread on the Gulf. It might be saw dust, or wood sanding dust. It might be micro balloons. Any round particulate that can roll freely will pick up oil. Maybe a few tractor trailer loads of the material would be a good test. There is likely a best size and shape for this and a little research would certainly determine that.
These grease balls will roll up into marsh grass and on beaches. They will not kill birds or fish as they harden on the surface in sunlight. They need not get to shore as they can be dredged up in nets and sent to refineries for processing. Because oil floats these balls will float no matter how big they get These nodules will be working day and night at cleaning the waters surface and the operating cost is zero, zilch, nothing. The value of the crude will not be lost when refined. I would think a shrimper might make a pretty good days wages by dredging up grease balls and selling them to the refineries. Everybody wins. Doug Pollard

Gulf oil spill may not lastas long as we think

Bear Creek east Of Baltimore Md. always had a layer of oil on it. It leaked from settling ponds of local industry. The creek was basically dead. A few crabs lived at the mouths of drainage ditches as did small fish but that was about all the life there was. All the beds of sea Grass had died. It was a dead little sea. In the late 1940's a major polluter found itself in a labor dispute and on strike and shut down. The creek came alive with amazing speed. In three weeks there was some fish in the creek. In six weeks there where a lot of fish as well as crabs. The had moved in from the bay and though not exactly thriving they were living in the creek. Local residents of the area were amazed to be catching rock-fish, croaker, white perch and spot. Taylor blues were breaking the water feeding on plentiful alewives. You could drag up a net with enough grass shrimp for a days fishing. Waterman who had them, put their shedding pots back in the water and sold soft crabs again. To the mixed feelings of all who were glad to be going back to work the fishing was not to last. As the manufacturing started up anew and the water was ever more streaked with oil, fish floated on their sides.And lined the banks.
I think this shows that a body of water can repair itself pretty quick when the pollution stops. This true of oil pollution but some things are longer lasting. I think the Gulf will recover quickly as soon as the oil can be removed from the water. My solution of rolling particles on the water will not likely remove the heavy oil but it will take that long lasting sheen that lingers after a spill. This sheen damages the coast line for a long time after

Gulf Oil Spill

There is oil on the water in the Gulf of Mexico and it is not hard to get rid of a huge amount of it. As a kid I played on a creek near Baltimore that had an almost continual sheen of oil on it's surface coming from Nearby Industry. The creek had become barren of fish, crabs and sea weed. Natures way of cleaning the water was for dust and pollen to land on the water and roll with the wavelets. As these particles roll in the water they keep adding a thin layer of oil that is the sheen on the water. The particle grows in size and continues to increase in size, from then on. These we called grease balls. They were a kind of emulsion formed by a combination of water and oil. I have seen these balls as big as 6" in diameter with many more in smaller sizes. Any dust that will float will roll up into these balls cleaning the surface of the water.
A powder could be spread on the Gulf. It might be saw dust, or wood sanding dust. It might be micro balloons. Any round particulate that can roll freely will pick up oil. Maybe a few tractor trailer loads of the material would be a good test. There is likely a best size and shape for this and a little research would certainly determine that.
These grease balls will roll up into marsh grass and on beaches. They will not kill birds or fish as they harden on the surface in sunlight. They need not get to shore as they can be dredged up in nets and sent to refineries for processing. Because oil floats these balls will float no matter how big they get These nodules will be working day and night at cleaning the waters surface and the operating cost is zero, zilch, nothing. The value of the crude will not be lost when refined. I would think a shrimper might make a pretyy good days wages by dredging up grease balls and selling them to the refineries. Everybody wins. Doug Pollard

Posted by Doug at 11:13 AM 0 comments Links to this post
Labels: clean that oil sheen, income for Gulf States waterman, oil on the water, oil sheen, oil spill. save the marshes from oil, rolling up oil, saving crude oil off the water, turn spilled crude to money
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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

There will be no new posts untill Tue. Feb. 17

Hi Folks,
I am going to be away a few days and I am having computer problems that need to be fixed. I'll be back on Tue. Feb. 17. Thanks for joining me here. Below is a little info on my Book Of mooncursers and other spun yarns.
"Mooncursers" takes place near "Baltimore Maryland," during the early part of WWII. A story of two boys, each battling his own devils. Both are strengthened through adventure and the overcoming of self imposed guilt. They decipher a cryptic note and right an old wrong. All this in order to give new meaning to the life of an elderly lady living in an old Baltimore slum and to return to her what is rightfully hers. This is a story of boys who find young manhood and lifelong confidence through adversity, adventure and intrigue. Between these covers are other short stories for old boys and young men. Some will delight, drawing a chuckle and others to inspire thought. A few will leave an introspective question or two to ponder. One story is pure piffle. See if you recognize which one. Doug

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

To Buy or not to Buy

My father, Charles Fredrick Pollard, known to all as Fred, had in the late fall of 1947gone down to the Local Chrysler- Plymouth dealer to find out why he had not received his new Plymouth. He had placed his name on a list for a new car, which was what had to be done at the time. After waiting almost a year for a car that was to be delivered with temporary wooden bumpers, as there was no chrome anywhere to be had, he had grown tired of seeing other names move ahead of his on the list.
We stood admiring the brand new Plymouth that set in the middle of the show room floor.

Sure is shiny,” I said.
This was the second year that they built automobiles after World War Two. The previous year they were the same as the 1942 models which were the last ones built at the start of the war. These new models were radical in design and seen by all as the way of the future and they really were shiny.

When, after a lot of laughing back patting and two handed hand shaking a very happy customer left the sales desk, my father and I walked over and sat down across the desk from the dealerships owner.
“Hello, Mr. Eiler,” my father said somewhat stiffly.
“Hi, Fred. Still working on the house?” he asked as the two men shook hands.
“No, it’s about finished unless Ruby comes up with something she wants to change. But I’m not here to talk about my house, or my wife. I’m here about that new car I ordered nearly a year ago now.”
Mr. Eiler, owner of the dealership and friend of many years, sat across his desk with a white handkerchief clenched between his teeth. The man suffered from hay fever and used the handkerchief as a filter to breath through. With watery eyes, he studied my father intently.
Finally he said, almost under his breath, “Fred, I know that you don’t work in the automobile industry so I’m sure you don’t know. It’s not good enough to just put your name on a list and put up a little money. That’s just not the way automobiles are bought today. With the war over and everyone wanting a new car there aren’t enough to go around. The government sets the price on the new cars, as I’m sure you know. The trouble is, the price is so low it’s hard to make any money. So everybody in the business is taking a few hundred dollars as incentive to expedite your new vehicle’s delivery. For three hundred dollars I can get your name to the head of the list.”
I sat in awe, studying the glistening highlights on that shiny showroom model between myself and the huge front window.
My father stood up silently, with a look of complete disbelief.

Are you telling me, Chris, that the good faith money I put up and the order I placed only entitles me to stand at the back of the line indefinitely? I shove three hundred dollars under the table you’ll move my name up on the list and then order a car for me? I’ll then have the privilege of waiting for it to come in? Seems kind of like paying ten cents to stand in line at a nickel crapper house. Now I see why you breath through that handkerchief. The air you do business in could leave a bad taste in your mouth. Couldn’t it?”

I suppose the sun went behind a cloud because I was sure the glistening highlights had disappeared off that new Plymouth’s sheen.
Well, Fred, I’m sorry you feel that way, but that’s just the way things are done now that the war’s over,” he said shaking his head side to side as though denying his own words.
“Ok, Chris. The war’s over all right and that’s not all that’s over. I’ve bought near about all my gas from you and you’ve done all my automobile work that I didn’t do myself from the day you opened your doors here. Don’t ever expect to see me come through those doors again,” he said, holding his hand out for the return of his money.
“Fred, wait a minute. Don’t be that way. This is the only way I can make any money on these cars. Set your self down and lets talk about this,” he said. He was visibly shaken, he surly did not want to make an enemy of a man so well thought of in the community.
“My money,” Fred Pollard demanded, his eyes steady on the other man unblinking. The two men, now standing, glared at each other as though each expected the other to back down.
I sure hoped it would be my father.
I knew him as a man who was kind and considerate of others feelings and whole-heartedly lived his life by the golden rule. I had never seen this hard angry side of him.
I wondered if paint had chrome in it. Maybe that’s why that new showroom model didn’t have any shine they probably didn’t have any chromium to put in the paint.
In a moment Mr.Eiler took his handkerchief out of his mouth as he returned with my dad’s money and said, “Fred, I feel bad about all this and I want to make it right. Tell you what I’ll do, I’ll let you have my show room model , that gray one right there. It has a couple things on it you didn’t order but I’ll throw them in anyway. It won’t cost you a cent more just so there won’t be any hard feelings. Now how’s that.”
Suddenly that car glistened like a diamond star in the black of night.. I started for our new car but was grabbed by the shoulder and and held still.

Chris,” Fred said, ”I would sorely hate to see you loose money by selling me that car. Besides that it wouldn’t hardly be fair to move my name to the front of the list after all those folks paid three hundred dollars to be first. With fifty people all first, you shouldn’t have any problem finding someone to buy that pretty new car. I’ll take my money now.”
Will a check be all right?” Mr. Eiler asked.
Did I give you a Check?” Fred asked. “No,” he said answering his own question
Cash will be fine.”
I sat slouched in my seat staring past the automobile at the rivulets of rain running down the showroom window. Surly so close after the war they didn’t have any paint either; because that new rattletrap was coated in the dullest of gray primer. Who would want such an ugly thing?
Fred Pollard never owned a new car that I remember, although my mother said he had a new model T Ford when they were young.

I’ll beat your brown if that isn’t a shame. He wants one, too,” my mother said, "and he ought to have it.”
I sure can’t understand any of this. Dad wants a car, Mr. Eiler wants him to have one, that’s for sure, and mom wants him to have one too. And there’s nobody wants him to have one more’n me. Shoot, I’ll bet everybody in the family wants him to have one. Why not?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Of Chainsaws and little women: read the oldest posts first

Needed a little break from Dundalkers so here's a little story to reveal my weakness where the manly power of noise gasoline and smoke are concerned

    In my yard stands a majestic old pecan tree. She , and I say she
because she bears pecans and I'm told the male tree doesn't, spreads out
over a large part of our yard. Much taller than our two story house her
branches a foot in diameter extend 50 feet, each weighing a least ton when
laden with leaves and even more when bearing nuts.
The other night a storm came through and one of those branches
broke at the trunk and hung there right over top my pickup truck.
I moved the truck holding my breath and then made a trip to Walmart
to buy a chainsaw figuring this will not be the last branch to come
down and the wood needs to be cut up and the mess cleared away.
I was standing in the store studying the different chainsaws.
A little old lady with a blue vest on walked over and said,
"That's the one you ought to have," pointing to an electric chainsaw.
"My husband has one and he loves it," she said. "Starts every time,
doesn't stink, its quiet and so light you can attach it to a pole and reach
way up in the tree to prune it, and Cheap too!" Thinking all this
certainly sounded reasonable. I picked up the little electric chainsaw
and put it in my shopping cart.
Just then a manager type walked up and said, "This sir is what you need,big,
engine long blade anti kick back feature. Now that saw will do a mans
work." I looked at the little lady she turned her head to side and winked
at me.
Then I drew myself up to the full length of my suspenders and said,
“I think not sir," my heart sinking, as I shook the little plastic saw
with my hand. "This one will do just fine. It's quiet, starts every time
and it won't smell up the place."
The man studied me a few seconds and said, "OK but when you chamge
your mind just bring it back and get this one." He looked at me, made a
face and his glasses slid down his nose. Looking over them he turned and
walked away.
I had been dismissed.
I couldn't help feeling a little remorse as I looked longingly at a the
18 inch gasoline saw all painted in camouflage. I would never hear its
angry roar as it tore into the white virgin pecan wood ripping it into pieces
The little old lady, very pretty by the way, Stood watching me and asked, "
You going home and work on that tree young man?"
Young man being the magic word here, at age seventy it does the trick
every time.
"Yes mam”, I answered, perhaps a little dejected and still eyeing the saw
with its powerful gasoline engine.
"I know something about you," she said softly.
" What's that mam?" I questioned, studying this tiny figure standing
squarely in front of me, with increasing dread.
You've got confidence.
"I do?" I asked , now beginning to recognize the true
wisdom confronting me.
"Any man that is willing to use an electric chainsaw in broad
daylight is truly a big man.
I took my saw home and whacked the branches up into fire wood and
the little saw was truly a magical thing. It quietly and efficiently made
short work of the job at hand.
This morning I got up and made my morning walk to the local
restaurant for coffee. I dreaded the howls of laughter and jokes that were
soon to be hurled at me from the somewhat red necky sorts that are my
friends and neighbors I could already hear it.
I Walked in and sat down. The waitress had brought my coffee as I
came in the door. "Good morning honey', " she cooed as she did to
"Been running," someone asked me.
"Nope! why?"
"Your face is red."
We sat pretty much in silence, as is our way. Only an occasional
comment and short answer here and there.
Slowly having finished their coffee each got up and left me setting
alone. I was feeling a little disappointed now. The saw is so quiet
no one had even heard it running. They didn't even know I had a chainsaw.
Then immortal big box words echoed in my ears "If not satisfied
with your purchase for any reason return it for an exchange or your money
I cleaned up and returned the wonderfully quiet and efficient little
saw and bought the heavy, noisy, clumsy and foul smelling, gasoline saw.
I walked proudly toward the cash registers then I saw her, standing in
the isle, that formidable little old sales lady. I slipped down a side isle.
In the most cowardly manner I slinked through ladies longerie and past
the lunch counter heading for the check out counter. All this while
looking over my shoulder half expecting to see a smidgen of a woman come
charging out from behind some display. She would surely
drag me and my beloved prize back to the tool department.
After paying what was due at the check out I emerged
from the swinging doors to safty, freedom and glee at having escaped.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

A Funeral in Dundalk Of Sorts

I was planning on starting a story here but realized I had not told these little pieces of history so I'll get these out of the way first. Picture this as you read it.

Don't know the years for sure but I think it was 1942. There was an article in The Baltimore news post that there would be a train coming through Baltimore to Sparrows point. There would be a brand new diesel locomotive pulling a line of old steam engines to be scrapped for the war effort. They were to be cut apart and melted down. The implication was that it was the end of the era of steam. There was a lot of sentiment attached to these old engines. The numbers of each was listed in the article and one of them was an engine that had run down Dundalk avenue early on an had run the line through Fort Holabird, Dundalk ,across Sollers Point Road and down across the Railroad bridge on Bear creek to Bethlehem Steel Co. for many years.

My father said, “That must be old number 404 (I think that was the number) You could tell her apart from the other engines from the sound of her driving rods clanking. That's a shame she has been running these lines for 30 years. they only built a few of those engines so she is almost one of a kind. We have to go and watch tomorrow. When those old engines all are gone there won't be any more because they will never build them again.

The Next day we went to the rail crossing at Sollers point road to wait.. Almost everyone in our neighborhood was there. A hundred more stood on the other side of the tracks. Most lived along Dunmanway, Yorkway and Admiral boulevard I suspect . We all stood and waited and in about an hour we saw the trains headlight way off in the distance coming slowly about 15 miles per hour as befitted a funeral prepossession. By the time it got to the intersection there was probably 500 people standing and watching. Cars were backed up in all directions and people got out and walked to the tracks.

When the procession got close, it was plain to see the numbers , bells and all the brass gear had been removed and the windows, number boards and across the cow catchers was covered with Black crepe.. The driving rods had been removed so the engines rolled along in complete silence except for the noisy clatter of the diesel Engine.

The whole crowd stood in silence, and no one and I mean no one speaking at all. There was very few dry eyes in the bunch. At the time it all seemed quite natural that people would feel that way. Today it seems strange, we are now in a time when the only thing we have that lasts long enough to become attached to is buildings and Aircraft carriers. Maybe a little bit the family car.

The newspapers said that, “Thousands had gathered along the route to watch the procession.”

I guess for years after I heard and said myself, “I sure do miss the sound of those old steam locomotives.” I also remember some women saying, “Well I don't miss'em with all that soot they belched out all over my clean cloths.”

About two years later there was a similar kind of thing on the number twenty six street car line up on Dundalk Ave.. It again, was in the newspapers that the Black Maria would be coming through Dundalk The Black Maria was a black streetcar that belonged to Bethlehem Steel co. I was a funeral streetcar that hadn't been used in a lot of years. It was a funeral hearse used by Sparrows Point residents to carry the funeral with coffin and corpse to the grave yard. Way back the family rode with the coffin and then returned to Sparrows point after the funeral. I guess there was no Graveyard in Sparrows Point. The old streetcar had been sold to the Baltimore Transit co and was on it's way to the cow barn as it was called in Highland town. The cow barn was where they worked on the cars when they broke down.

My sister and I and a lot of other people who had the same morbid curiosity had, stood waiting for the streetcar. When it came up the tracks there was a sudden murmur among the crowd. My sister broke out crying. One lady screamed out,”Oh My god Jesus,” spun on one heel and ran away. The black car was again dressed in black crepe. I don't remember being frightened of it and I sure did think it was neat.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Billy Mitchell: Read oldest posts first

Hey folks here's a twist, I got an e-mail from a fellow that says that the picture of the guy standing beside the By Plane is the World War I Hero and father of the air force, Billy Mitchell. That's the picture on the post " Goin' over Dundalk posted December 5th. He said Mitchell landed at Logan field in Dundalk back in the 30's. I went to the web site below where there is a picture and I guess It could be the same Person. I doubt though the timing and the age of the guy in the picture is right to have been Billy Mitchell. Who Knows? Go take a look.


Monday, January 1, 2007

Some Dundalk Happenings

There were some things that occurred around Dundalk and east Baltimore when I was growing up. I'll talk about them a little and then Tuesday or Wednesday we will start a book. I have about one Paragraph written and we'll make up the rest from there. I have no Idea what I'll write after that paragraph. Thats the way I usually write. Some say it takes courage to do that well maybe but all thats lost is a little time if nothing comes of it. Besides I have put away the start of a story and the story came to me a year later, funny thing is these are some of the better things I've written.

One year Standard Oil company burned down. There was a huge column of smoke and it headed to Dundalk. Every one sat out on their porches, people wondered all over town and watched. There were some who stayed out most of the night. We were all to far away from the fire for there to be but so much excitement, but every now and then one of those huge storage tanks would go off and flames would shoot high in the sky and you could hear and feel the explosion. One fellow in Dundalk decided to drive in town to see the fire. That was a mistake the because fire department for one reason or another commandeered his car. They used it for whatever purpose and parked it on Conklin Street in Highland town.. He couldn't find it for several days and the fire department didn't know anything about it. Boy O Boy did he take a kidding.

My Brother took a young lady out on a date and they were riding along when they started listening to War of the Worlds on the radio. It Scared the daylights out of both of them and he headed for her house. When they got there he shoved her through the front door and took off for home. He had run his model A ford coupe so hard the engine wouldn't shut off and it set in the driveway with the exhaust pipe glowing the engine popping and crackling but running.. We were listening to Charlie Mc Carthy on the radio and my brother burst through the front door and started telling my father about it. Dad said to my mother grab us some cloths where going to new Jersey to see this. Charlie and my father headed for the car and my mother caught them as they were getting ready to pull out of the Driveway and told them there was announcement on the radio that it was a fiction story. Well the story got out around Dundalk and my brother was Nick named Buck Rodgers and was forever after called Buck.

Wally Stevens beat up five Scottish seamen one night in the middle of the streetcar tracks on Dundalk avenue and the Red rocket had to wait until he finished.

Otts Mc Clelland built a 42 ft cabin cruiser in his back yard and hauled it to Owens yacht company and they put it in the water for him.

My father built an Air breathing jet engine in 1940 when there weren't any, he hung it under the floor timbers of the house aimed it out an open basement window and fired it up. It made such a racket the neighbors all came running and they had to stamp the burning grass out. They liked it so much they asked him to do it again and he did. They all walked away shaking their heads and one said that Fred Pollard is crazy, What the heck good is a thing like that? Fred took his drawings to Washington to show to the Government. They told him what he was messing with was a secret. They took his drawings and his working model and then investigated him. The neighbors probably told them he was a crackpot.

At the End of the war Otts Mc Clelland got a set of plans out of a popular Mechanics magazined, built a little camping trailer and the whole family went to Alaska by way of the Alcan highway. Otts said it was a terrible trip most of the road was gravel and they blew up the engine in their 1939 Hudson and nine tires in all..

Owens yacht company built landing Barges.

Some of us boys went to shoot sparrows with our BB rifles behind the brewery in the poplar trees growing next to it. We shot out a window by accident and then sucked some liqueur out of a keg. Some how we wound up at Jimmy Marks Bowling Alley and I made a pass or a crack, not sure which, at a pretty good sized Italian boys girlfriend. Well I got beat all around the lobby and the front side walk the only thing after that I remember was walking down Dunmanway. Learned a thing or two about getting drunk and being mouthy. Never did find the BB gun.

Caught a good friend sneaking down a half dark alley one night with the ugliest girl I ever saw. I teased him regularly until he threatened to beat the tar out of me.

We'll start a story tomorrow.


Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Nation Of Trees: read the older posts first

This speech was given in the park in front of the school about 1949 This fellow was a card carrying communist. He was supported by a number of Dundalk and Highland town people.
I knew several people who thought he would save the country by the fact that he was a communist. He would end hostility between the United States and Russia. He claimed he would would run for President and be elected by the end of the 1960's. The following are many of his words, though I don't remember all he said so what is written below is not his exact words but but close and very much the flavor of what he said.

Beside every shinning river, along highways, across vast plains and meadows a forest of trees will stand proud and tall. Lit in the glory of crisp clean sunlight shining through pristine oxygen rich air will sooth the eye of the traveler. Majestic conifers, oak, birch and all the other trees of the forest to provide cover and sustenance to a myriad of wildlife, birds and buzzing insects. A place where things may live in natural safety was intended. Free from death by gun, bulldozer and the staccato rattle of chain saws.
A garden of Eden you say? Yes my friends! That is what our nation will be in the eyes of all mankind. Free from the need to manufacture, Free from the need to devastate our forests and lands for metals and fuels, Free from the pillaging industrialists greed and need to pollute.
We will be the first nation on earth that will have no need to import raw materials. Impossible will say pillaging conservatives of the opposition party, nay sayers of the negative republican and Democratic party that has held our nation in the dark past for so many years.
Let me tell you it is possible and not only is it possible but a sure thing that some western country will follow this path if we prove to weak to take this step into the future.

That was the gist of the thing and now days I wonder how in the heck anyone could have been taken in by anything so silly.
This guy was well educated and was an excellent speaker and he had attracted a lot of listeners. He spoke for nearly an hour according to some, but I left in the middle, being a kid I was not all that interested in what he was saying. I remember thinking it sure sounded nice. But then I was fifteen or sixteen years old.
About a week later my mother was asked to sign a ban the bomb partition that a neighbor lady was passing around. She claimed it was promoted by her church. My mother refused to sign as she did not believe that was the thing to do considering what was going on the world.

A couple days later it came out in the Baltimore News post that it was the Communist Party that was passing those papers around. My mother was mad as a wet setting hen as was her way of describing her anger. She called the FBI and the next day they were at our house. My mother told them her story.
The FBI agents very gently questioned me about anything I might know and of course I told them everything I knew and some I probably didn't.
The woman who passed the paper around was the wife of a man my father worked with and who was also a union organizer. His brother was arrested a few months later for being involved in a plot to Sabatoge Bethlehem Steel Co.
Dundalk people were very patriotic and they were mad as they could be when the word got around. What had happened and that communists had been speaking right there in Dundalk really angered many. What was unbelievable to many, was that some local people were involved. I remember hearing, that there could be a lynching right here in Dundalk if that fellow with all that Lot of of mouth, came back

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sailboats Fair and Fine: Read the oldest blogs first.

For all you folks out there that have found themselves married to a sailboat I have to feel sorry for you and at the same time feel a certain amount of envy for the joy she must certainly bring to you. The hours spent in hard but pleasurable labor keeping her in a state of repair and polish are without a doubt worth it. Now there's a labor of love known mostly to sailboat sailors, kayakers, and canoe paddlers and everybody else that has a thing they care for. Unless maybe it's a rock. These kinds of people by way of their disdain for motors and most things technical plus their love of misery and beauty that nears that of falling in love, do somehow find happiness. By sailing or peddling or paddling in a cold rain with a strong sharp wind trying to cut into face, fingers and slipping up your sleeves to create a shiver that drives you to a quiet anchorage or maybe a tent on shore. It's to me the sip of hot coffee, warm food and the smell of fresh salt air that adds to the delight of a radio broadcast of a warm and breezy tomorrow.

After a cold and challenging day, a day to appreciate the eighty degree day when there is a light breeze a warm sun over cool waters. A day when the tiller or paddle seems to rest in and and just go along with the water, silent and soothing. This day that will be tomorrow. Hmm, seems I like anchoring and drinking coffee more than sailing. Maybe I like house boats?

On the Blog, Sailboats Fair and Fine, we talk and write of boat stuff. I'll show some pictures, at times a video. I hope I can be of help to some who may need a little help with boats of all kinds. With over sixty years of playing with boats both big and small I ought to be of at least some help to any who feel they need it.. If not, I'm sure I can send you to someone that can help you.
If you care a whit about sailboats or messing around in the Bahamas, Chesapeake bay, Florida keys, Inland waterway or even building boats Join me by clicking the, Sailboats fair and fine, URL on the left side of this blog.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Thinking back I have been remembering a few happenings that I thought I had forgotten. I think there kind of neat and I hope you will too.

In, I believe the year was 1939 and I think it may have been summer or a really warm day in the spring or fall. Otts Mc Clelland came running to our back door and pounded on it yelling “Fred, Fred.”
. We had just pulled up in the driveway in our newly bought used 1937 Chevrolet. Dad hearing the ruckus and thinking something terrible had happened, ran around to the back of the house. “What's the matter Otts whats the wrong.”

“Oh nothing” he said. We just heard on the radio that the German Zeppelin will fly over Dundalk It left Washington and is headed this way.

We had been shopping so we all set our packages down on the ground and Mrs,. Mc Clelland came and joined the crowd. Otts and Fred stood talking about the coming of the Zeppelin. They thought the name of it was the Graff Zeppelin. I didn't know what they were talking about( didn't know what a Zeppelin was) but I was soon to learn. Kimmels mountain though having had it's top removed was till fairly high in front of the house and blocked some of the horizon. We herd it before we saw it. It was loud with it's three or four engines unlike airplanes of the time that seldom had more than two engines. The engines got louder, then we saw the front end of it coming over the edge of our roof with the rest of it hidden by our house. It was flying very low. We often saw big airplanes flying low taking off and landing at Logan's filed, coming over the house often, but they were small. This thing was huge overpoweringly big. It took up a giant section of the sky. There was a kind of threatening beauty about and at the same time an over powering ugliness. It was a passenger vessel supposedly but there was a military look about it. She was like a thing from another world. The square windows and shape of her fins the huge black crosses on her. I think her main purpose was to intimidate. She could have been beautiful just as easy. There was nothing about her that reminded a person of the streamlined look that was popular in every product we were used to using at the time. I would like to call it a her as is proper for any kind of a ship which is what Hindenburg was supposed to be. Her is not the correct term it was strictly masculine if any gender him, conquerer, warrior the destroyer would have been more apt. My sister cried out of fear and maybe hopelessness. Bombs dropping out of her would have been no surprise. The more of it that was viable the bigger it got and the flowerer he seemed to be. It was so low that it seemed it invaded the safety and privacy of our home. There was arrogance in flying that low as if to dare someone to shoot at it. All of a sudden there was an outburst of cursing from my father and followed by Otts curse words I had not heard before. I was accustomed to the usual hell, or damn. My father shook his fist at the thing. My mother said “Fred don't,” they can see you from that thing. I hope to hell they do he shouted. Otts said “I'd go get my gun but buy the time I get it they'll be gone.” He had to shout to be heard. I hope someone shoots it down. My father shouted back , you can bet they are taking pictures of Bethlehem steel and every other factory along the East coast.

When we heard that the Hindenburg had exploded my father's only reply was good they didn't get the pictures back to Germany and all they got for there money was to make Americans mad. We don't intimidate that easy. They brought their attempt at fright to the wrong country. I for one are ready to go to war any time President Roosevelt says sick'em boys. My father as long as he lived never acknowledged that the Hindenburg was a passenger plane. The most he ever said was, there may have been a few passengers on board but they weren't smart enough to know they were being used. I feel sorry for them but good ridence. The whole thing was a military show of force to let us know we weren't free of danger from the German Air force.

If we had attacked Germany right then when England wanted to, the war would have been over in two years, saving millions of lives. Pacifism causes and looses wars. We were only six months from loosing the war. They almost had the bomb. Had we attacked in 1939 they would not have even gotten a start on the bomb.

Just for Me-Mooncursers

Of Mooncursers and other spun yarns, is a book like few others or maybe none other. I didn't write this book for you . I didn't write it to be marketable, not to sell and not to set on a bookstore shelf.

I didn't write it for my children, friends or relatives. I wrote it for, and too myself. For a long time it never occurred to me that anyone else would care about it. Like a dog on a hill barking just for the joy of being alive, I wrote, and wrote and continue to write. Like this blog which I write and send out from my computer for any or none to see I wrote a book to myself.

No matter what you or I like there is in someplace another who will enjoy as we do, our thoughts. If we build a boat , a car or a house, somewhere there is another who will like the product of our labor, I am sure. There is not one person on earth that is unlike every other person sharing this planet.

Why then, should I have thoughts, experiences, the joys of an exciting life to be enjoyed only in my own mind. Surely out there somewhere is a kindred spirit that will get the same kick as I from what I have thought and done. It could be you... Doug

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Look at my Latest Book

Of Mooncursers and other SpunYarns
"Mooncursers" takes place near "Baltimore Maryland," during the early part of WWII. A story of two boys, each battling his own devils. Both are strengthened through adventure and the overcoming of self imposed guilt. They decipher a cryptic note and right an old wrong. All this in order to give new meaning to the life of an elderly lady living in an old Baltimore slum and to return to her what is rightfully hers. This is a story of boys who find young manhood and lifelong confidence through adversity. Between these covers are other short stories for old boys and young men. Some will delight, drawing a chuckle and others to inspire thought. A few will leave an introspective question or two to ponder. One story is pure piffle. See if you recognise which one.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dundalk 1950's

In 1949 I went to the draft board in (I believe it was the Dunlear building) and told a bald face lie. I was fifteen years old and I told them I was seventeen. The next year I quite school and went to Bethlehem Steel co. and then told another one, saying I was eighteen. They wanted to see my birth certificate. In the best southern hillbilly accent I could muster out of my combination Georgia and Baltimore eze"I told them I was from so far back in the hills there was no record of when I was born. There weren't no doctor and there sure weren't no postman to bring it even if they know'd I was born. I said, “ there ain't gonna be no certificate never. But I got my draft card and you can't get one of them less ya'll is eighteen. I got the job. I don't think I fooled anybody because the guys in the mill knew right away I was too young to be in there.

Some job it was I worked in the 42 inch cold strip in the washers where they cleaned the rolls of sheet metal before heat treating it in the ovens. You worked in caustic fumes for eight hours a day, on a swing shift. There was a month lay of and afterward I was sent to the 56 inch rolling mill and galvanize department. There was so much acid in the air all the old timers had black teeth. What a place for a kid to be.

As a young teenager I had worked for two weeks over two summers at Fisher Body so I knew the ropes there a little. They would pretend they believed you were eighteen for two weeks and let you work. That was just before the model year change when the lines were running faster. All of us kids in the galvanize and the washers would leave early on the graveyard shift and pay someone to do our job and punch us out. Then we all went to Fisher body and worked all day. I was moved back to the washers at Sparrows Point one night where I couldn't catch any sleep. I had only had about 15 hours sleep the whole week so I fell asleep on the job. My job that night was to test the tanks and keep the caustic and soap levels correct. The tanks got out of balance and about a thousand tons of of, paper thin, steel stuck together and had to be rewashed. Why they didn't fire me I wonder to this day..

During those years I hung around the Stansbury shopping center with a bunch of other boys. Some worked there in the grocery store. Mr. Eiler that owned the Eiler Crysler Plymouth dealer ship usually found some work for all of us, anything from digging ditches to taring the roof. All of us boys had dropped out of school. Not for the reasons kids drop out today but because you could get a job that required a high school diploma just by saying you had one. Factories were so busy they would hire any one at any age and with any degree of education and they were pretty good jobs.

The late 40's and fifties were the blue bus years. We who lived in the eastern part of Dundalk rode the blue bus and those in St Helina road the Red Rocket to work So you could ask someone how they got to work and kind of new where they lived.

All of us boys worked part time at Eilers pumping gas. He had a glass enclosed island for the pumps and stayed open 24 hours a day. We gassed up the Dundalk Cabs and the Veterns cabs and I think something like Bartons cab's maybe. You filled them and then rocked the cabs back and forth to let the air out of the tank so they would fill all the way to the top. Each driver was required to pass on a cab to the next shift driver with a full tank.

We sold white lightning to any and all that wanted to buy it. I don't remember for sure whether I knew it was illegal or not. We got half for selling it. Either Mr Eyler didn't know we were selling it or didn't care. There were some locals that were going to Virginia to get it and they sold it out of their home as well I think.

All those folks except us kids have passed on so I don't think I am embarrassing any one.

All us boys by 1950 or 51 had nice automobiles and and all the really neat places to go were in Baltimore. We used to go to Baltimore street though it wasn't neat, or cool, but the Burlesque was fun it wasn't just strippers it was Vaudeville as well IT was cheap. And a trip to Harley's about one in the morning was wonderful. We never took the girls there, and if we didn't have to work the next day we would sit in the ally and talk till 3 am.

It is surprising to me that all of us kids that were running the streets and portrayed as hoodlums stayed pretty much out of trouble. My mother worked at O' Donnels Bakery. A little white headed Lady who was another who knew everyone, would chew some of the boys out until they squirmed. Those boys always said, “Yes mam, Mzzz. Pollard no mam. Mzzz Pollard.” One fellow told me, “My God, Doug, your mother's mean.” She liked all of us boys.

Some better than me I think.

We boys were doing what all gangs of boys do. We were falling in love with girls from all over the county. It has always amazed me how boys will go twenty miles or a thousand to find a girl, with a beautiful and sweet girl living right across the street that they are prone to ignore.

By 1955 we were all about gone from Dundalk The town was changing. Many people moved away as their homes brought good prices and People from Baltimore moved into the suburbs. A lot of people by then who had come from Virginia the Carolina's and all over the south began going home. Many were middle aged when they came to Dundalk during the War and they went home with good retirement checks in their pockets.

Boy the 1950's were a time to remember for us who lived them everyone made plenty of money and was almost never out of work. Except when they got huffy with the company, and went on strike.

As any who have read all this can see, I am an old man still thinking of my self as a kid in 1950.

Child hood is when you define yourself. Your failings are so horrible you can never live them down in your own mind. But it's also when you find out what you respect in others. I have often thought that casual friends are people you like and lifelong friends are the ones you would also trust with your life.

To fail is regrettable and forgettable. To fail a friend is regrettable.

This is the end of this portion of blogging here. I would like to say that there were many in Dundalk that I didn't talk about, they were my closest friends in many cases. To talk about them would be even more about myself and this has turned into much more about me than was intendid. I have gone back and added in a little note on an event in 1939 that was left out. It's really cool to be able to publish and go back in and add something.

After Christmas I will try to start a story to live on these pages. I don't know what about for sure, but knowing me, it will be fiction, it will be about Dundalk people and it will be about messing around on the Chesapeake bay from Dundalk and an occasional adventure in Baltimore. It will be about, young to older teenage Boys. I concider the teen years the big years of ones life. A persons whole life is built on top of them. Later years are great too, but life becomes more about the lives of children, great grand children and wives . It's about duty to country and mankind. About where we come from and what we'll leave behind and how we will be judged.

A saying by a good online friend of mine( though he may deny he knows me) is: One wise man once said, "If you seek to gain your life by being selfish you loose it but if you loose it by sharing it you gain it." This a quote from Chief Redelk of Many Nations.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

After the War

The war ended with two explosions of Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From time to time some people talk about what a terrible thing it was. Well back then we were all some kind of glad of it. Our brothers, older teenage friends and some of our playmates fathers came home from Europe instead of having to go to the Pacific to fight. We all thought they would fight on Japanese soil. All of us were glade it was over no matter who had to die to get it behind us.

While I'm at it here is what I think about Irac. If we don't win there and the middle east builds an arsenal of A- bombs we will have to, God forbid, use our weapons on them to save ourselves. As one who has lived through four wars I can guarantee we will do it if we have to. If we don't we will all be carrying our prayer rugs with us and facing Mecca every day. It is either win now or win later the question is how many are we going to have kill to win? A few now or many later.

Every family had money at the end of the war. People had worked long hours all through the war and there was nothing to spend the money on. You couldn't but appliances, cars or hardly anything else. Butter was rationed , gasoline , coal, chocolate and nylon hose.

When the boys got home they married the girls they had been writing to for four years. Their parents had money in the bank to help them build a house. The GI bill loaned them cheap money so Dundalk kept growing at the same war time pace. There was no feared depression at the end of the war.

A lot of those fellows went to college on the GI bill a thing they never dreamed they would be able to do.

Not long after the war I was canoing. I had bought and old canoe and was using it. All us boys were in the boy scouts. We could buy army surplus gear for almost nothing it was everywhere. We had all the first class camping gear anyone could want. I paid $2.00 for a one man inflatable life raft. We all had one and we all rafted down the Potapsico in Patapsico state forest. We were kids that grew up with tools, house building and fathers that worked on their own cars. We knew how to fix things, build our own bikes and rebuild a canoe. My best friend and I recked in a cable car we built to run between two trees. We built boats, duck boats as we called them and we built canvas covered kayaks. Girls had begun to come into our lives at about age twelve in a minor way. At age thirteen we were going to dances at the school and YMCA. We who had older sisters were lucky, they taught us to dance. At age thirteen there is nothing better than being one of the few boys that could dance.

While in the seventh grade a young lady that I was sweet on said Doug, ( and I can't remember the girls name) will you take my friend to the senior prom. Her boy friend has come down with measles and she already has her prom dress and she won't be able to go. I first said no. But on going home my sisters talked me into going. I didn't have a suit but my older brother loaned me one of his. My father instructed me on how to treat a lady at a dance. My job was entirely to show her a good time. A task that I took to heart. I was about four inches shorter than her but we were both good sports. We danced and both had a good time. It turned out that I danced with many of the senior girls and they all got a kick out of dancing with me. The whole affair was one of the highlights of my life. But the real high light was the goodnight kiss she gave me.

In the late 1940's there were a few characters around Dundalk that stick in my mind. One was named Roy. He was a captain on an old yacht that never left the dock. It was kept in Turners Station at the old ferry dock there. Roy was a big fellow that looked a little like the cartoon charecter Wimpy. Roy wore a full captains uniform in dark blue with all the appropriate gold braid and his world war two metals. He also wore a captains hat. I never saw him dressed different. He drove a 1941 Crossly Automobile. It looked a little like a small version of a VW beetle. It was tiny. It was also a bright green convertible. It had a little two cylinder air cooled engine that sounded like a lawn mower. He always had his girlfriend with him who was drop dead gorgeous. Roy never had a battery that was any good and her being the good sport she was would get out and push. Roy would set in the car and wave her on. Roy always had an old boat to play with and some times went with him at my own peril. He had a lot to do with my messing with boats all my life. Every body in Dundalk knew Roy and he knew them. Roy I think liked me because I could fix anything.

Another older friend of mine was about forty years old when I was still in my early teens. Sam I think was Native American. He was tall and robust in figure with some belly. He had an old Navy boat that he was rebuilding and he lived aboard it at Corinthian Yacht club next to Owens Yacht company. Sam was the most strinking looking fellow I ever saw. He had jet black hair with a jar head haircut. His handlebar mustache was three inches long on each side and coal black. Sam's skin was dark but colored strongly with red. I don't know were he got his cloths but I suspect he had them made. He often wore a blue and white striped Jersey type shirt with stripes three inches wide going around him and around his arms. He wore a red bandanna on his head and a red sash about six inches wide around his waste. Dark blue pants torn off below the knee. Sam wore canvas strapped sandals. In the winter the shirt was covered by a blue P coat. Sam walked everywhere around Dundalk but road the street car into Baltimore every night. Every one recognized him though he was to odd to have but a few friends. At the age of about twenty I saw him on Baltimore street with two really good looking gals one on each arm.

The name of his boat was the Three Wise Men, and he carved the three figures and mounted them under the bow sprit.. They were blue, red and gold leaf.

Then there was Blimp. Seems like most I new were over weight. Blimp as we called him was named Norman. He always had a truck that he delivered groceries to the mostly elderly ladies around town with. Norman though older hung around with us teenagers when we in our mid teens. The first I remember of him was that he had a car that had been wrecked. He took all four of the doors off and all the seats and upholstery out. Then he sat on a milk crate to drive it. You might see him anywhere in Baltimore. It's a wonder the police didn't stop him. I guess they figured it was his business and he wasn't hurting any one. We kids pitched in and bailed him out of jail in Glenburnie Md. where they arrested for driving that car. He was charged with driving without a windshield I guess it was alright that there were no doors.

I guess back then to be known all over Dundalk you needed to be big and over weight and wear funny cloths?

Growing up in Dundalk During the War

In 1940 I started to school and hated it. I went to School at Dundalk Elementary School on Playfield Street. George Schlutaburg was Principal and my first Grade teacher was Mrs Merritt I'm not sure But I would think she was one of the Merritt Family that farmed the land along Merritt Boulevard. Mrs. Tinley taught me in the second and third grade. I had a Mrs Riley in the fourth and again a second time in the fourth. Mrs Tinley taught her class and the second grade with the help of a substitute teacher. She sent me home in the fourth grade for breaking wind and blaming it on the girl setting across the isle from me. Actually I think I must have been sweet on the girl. She was so cute I can't imagine I wasn't. When the class looked around to see who did it I pointed to that girl and all eyes fell on her. She was embarrassed and she cried. Big tears that streamed down her cheeks and I felt sorry for her. God only knows why but I did it again and this time the teacher was standing behind me. She said I was naughty and I said don't call me that I'm bad. Why in the world would a boy say that.

Mrs Couch taught me the fifth and sixth grades and she was my favorite, She was tough and fair and she liked boys and especially if they were a little honery. The boys all liked her as well..

There was a Mr. Bozley that had lost a leg in WWI he used a cane and everyone was afraid of him but his students . None of the rest of us could figure it out. If you ran in the hall he would hook you around the neck with the cane. Oddly it didn't hurt I guess he let the cane slide through his hand so that it didn't jerk you up short.

Old Mr Foust was the Janitor and what a job that was The building was heated with steam heat and the furnaces were hand fired with coal. He had to shovel the coal in and the ashes out. He collected the trash and burned what he could and carried out the rest. He kept the whole building clean and I think there was 32 class rooms. I think there was an older lady that cleaned the windows and there was a jillion of them. When th war started we had air raid drills where we all sat on the floor. The principal who was German and spoke broken English would tell us stories about WW!. He spared us the gory details so it was pretty interesting for us boys and girls alike.

In the winter of early1942 they fenced off the now flat top of Kemmels mountain and stored Army trucks and tanks there. The place was fascinating as a flat sandy plateau where they flew model airplanes and we boys hated to see that go, but the adults did to. Many people in town walked up there on Sundays to watch the models fly.

For us boys the place was even more exciting filled up with tanks, jeeps and trucks. We would go up there and talk to the army guards that patrolled the place. And later we talked to the German prisoners that were repairing fences and doing other jobs around the motor pool. Many were in there mid teens and were very likable. It was hard to remember they had been trying to kill our older brothers and fathers.

We knew the Germans were locking up the Jewish people in Europe. We thought that was a terrible thing for the Jews but we just assumed that was what was done when you had enemies in your country during a war. Nobody was surprised. I don't think anyone new they were gassing the people. We kids played Army. We had wooden guns and odds and ends of military uniforms. Metal toys were hard to come by but kids could get metal BB rifles all through the war. I guess the Government thought it was a good thing for kids to learn how to shoot.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Building a House the Hard Way Part 2

In Colgate Creek at St, Helena was a sailing ship’s graveyard. The rotted hulls are now under the Shipping terminal. Mr Pollard and his oldest son Charlie who was now old enough to work as a young teenager, went out onto those ships and removed planks and beams from them and carried them a shore in a row boat. The two of them loaded timbers and tongue and grove siding onto a push wagon and then hauled them by hand two miles to the building site. Huge beams were removed from under the decks to be used as framing for the house. Fred, a little later bought a car and often put a circle saw onto the back axle of the family model A Ford and he sawed them into usable sizes. No house was ever built out of better materials. The ships had been built of heart Georgia pine, cypress and oak. All the nails had to be removed and then straightened to be used again. The sheathing for the house was four inch wide tongue and groove cypress. The wood had paint on it one eighth of an inch thick. Before the lumber could be used the paint had to be scraped out of the tongue and groves. Mr Pollard made a metal scraper, nailed it to the frame of the house and pulled the wood through it to remove the hardened paint.

The family moved in the house with only sub floors and enough sheet rock walls installed for privacy. The house had four rooms a pot bellied stove and an outhouse. Living in saw dust was a way of life for them..

There was a shallow hand driven well.

This was the year I was born, 1934 the first of about 3 very bad winters. By the end of that year I had come down with Asthma and must have been a real worry for my parents. I saw the old Doctor Toland Whose office was in Edgemere. when I was about thirty years old and he said he remembered trudging up our road to see me with a couple of foot of snow on the ground. I thanked him, and he asked me if I was worth it. I told him, I, arguably, was. He chuckled and said “I’m glad I did it then”.

Charlie worked hard during his teenage years. And became an accomplished carpenter capable of doing fine finishing work as well as pure mule labor. He was very smart and carried excellent grades in school. They added two more rooms and a bathroom onto the house and Charlie began making cement blocks for basement walls. Dad bought two wooden block molds from Sears& Roebuck. My brother spent the summer mixing concrete with a hoe in a mortar box and pouring it into the molds he let them set a while and took the blocks out and stacked them to cure. It had to be back breaking work because while the blocks were hardening in the molds he went under the house to dig the basement with Ruby's brother, Talmage. They dug with pick and shovel and brought the dirt out in a wheelbarrow. My father worked evenings and weekends as well, but he was now working four days a week at his job. Somehow Fred managed to raise a garden every year and the summer diet was speckled butter beans on rice with Green fried tomatoes and all the corn on the cob you could eat. There was pork chops and chicken some meals but steak dinners was few and far between.

Fred liked to pick berries and across the Robinwood road in front of the house and on up across Otto Walters field was Kimmel's Mountain though it defiantly was not a mountain. At most it was 200 hundred feet high The whole family often went onto would go up the hill to pick berries. It was an all day trip and we were all expected to pick blackberries. Later in the after noon Ruby would take a bucket of berries, her boys and girls and head home. Fred usually stayed as long as he could see. By the time he got home there was a big summer dinner cooked and a blackberry cake. These three layer yellow cakes had the blackberries stirred in before baking. Some of the juice would migrate through the cake turning it purple and then the family ate it with milk on it like a pudding. As a matter of fact Ruby called them a blackberry pudding sometimes.

On Pollard's little acre were fruit trees, apples, pears, peaches and cherries. Good sized beds of blackberries and strawberries. were harvested A long arbor of sweet yellow grapes were turned into wine some years and sometimes mixed with a neighbors purple ones for a really good red wine.

When the hill was cut away and the trees gone off the top there was nothing to hold water and stop it from running off when it rained. The neighbors wells began drying up all over the area.

Otts Mc McClellan the Pollard's next door neighbor was building a house at the same time. Otts's father George was getting up in years and had little use for his old chain drive Ford Stake body truck. Otts and Fred more or less took turns working on it to keep it running. There was money coming in now from them having worked a longer week. With a truck they could buy used building materials in Baltimore and haul them to the houses. They could also afford new materials like finish flooring hand rails for stairways and appliances. At some point a gas stove and refrigerator showed up at the houses.

It finally happened the shallow well dried up, so Mr Pollard built a derrick at the back of the house Charlie climbed on top of it and began driving a pipe into the ground with a maul and then pulling it out with a block and tackle. Fred beat the dirt out of it with a hammer. They took turns at driving and hauling untill the well was sixty feet deep. One of the neighbors standing alongside the rig yelled up and asked in typical Balimereze “Hey Fred what’ll yous do if yous strikes a rock?” Without hesitation Fred replied, “I’ll move over six feet and start over.”

I have no doubt that he would have done just that.

Recently when I considered driving a well I was informed that you cannot drive a well more than 25 ft. I just looked at the man and smiled.

Fred and Ruby had water about five more years . Their well must have been in an underground stream. The county put city water in and the well was still working but there was no telling for how long. We all in the neighborhood, hated the new city water. Some called it man made water. Well when a man makes water we all know what he is doing.