Monday, June 29, 2009

MY FAVORITE FATHER'S DAY - 1998

I might do many things well but what gives me the greatest satisfaction is fatherhood.

The anticipation and waiting to become a dad was long and harrowing. Perhaps that uncertainty fueled my eventual appreciation and drove me to be a better dad. I could rant on about every golden moment of fatherhood...but for the sake of brevity, let's concentrate on two things: motion and the Philadelphia Zoo.

At a young age, we discovered that our son Andrew was not too keen on motion. An infant swing has universal appeal. The motion lulls the baby to sleep and enables its caregiver to leave them alone to tend to other matters. Unfortunately, the universality of this phenomena did NOT happen at my house! My son's screaming while in the swing was so acute that even the least ingenious person could see he had a big problem with motion.

For his second birthday, we bought a rocking horse. It was already assembled when we led him into the dining room. Andrew ran up to it, hugged the head and clearly said, "Greatest!" It didn't take him long to figure out how to get in the saddle...but the springs on that horse NEVER were tested...he logged about an eighth of a mile actually riding it...ever.

He was about three when the Downtown Absecon Business Association threw a block party on New Jersey Avenue. The Post Office participated and provided a pony ride in their parking lot. The single loop...with me on one side and a pony handler on the other...was at the break-neck speed of a half-inch per hour. Still, it was so torturous to my guy that the few agonized and tearful photos we got, weren't keepers.

In front of our supermarket they had a mechanical rocking horse. He liked to climb on it...but the mere mention of putting in a quarter would instinctively bring out his famous terror-filled line, "No-no, no quarter!"
HIS RELUCTANCE TO "RIDE" SAVE US THOUSANDS !

He was about four when I stupidly suggested taking him on the miniature dragon-shaped roller-coaster on the Ocean City NJ boardwalk. The kids get five laps around the little circuit. Interestingly, the procedure to unload the old passengers and get new ones buckled in takes longer than the ride itself.
Under my watchful eye, we sat side-by-side for the two-minutes of fun and exhilaration. We got off to a great start...Andrew was calm and conversational. Then during lap-two, like a man possessed, my panic-stricken lad stood-up and tried to, "leave the building." He squirmed, cried and screamed. It took all I had to restrain him from jumping out!

The beginning of the end to his motion difficulties happened on Father's Day 1998...Andrew was four and a half. While mom pumped cards in Atlantic City, he and I had a father-son excursion to the Philadelphia Zoo.
That day was 96 degrees and humid. Like a pack-mule, I was weighed down with a bag full of his stuff, a lunch cooler and camera bag. The endless block-long walk from the car to the main entrance was an adventure in itself. Inside the zoo, I took him straight to the restroom. In addition to doing our business, I splashed cold water on his face. Ten steps after leaving the facilities, even before seeing our first animal Andrew said, "Pick me up."
THE PHILLY ZOO IS BEAUTIFUL WITH MANY SPECIAL FEATURES

I picked Andrew up but this definitely wasn't going to work. I must have looked like the guy on the "ED SULLIVAN SHOW" trying to balance the plates.
CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO HEAR THE MUSIC TO; ARAM KHACHATURIAN'S, "SABRE DANCE." ITS THE ONLY PIECE I EVER HEARD PLAYED DURING THIS ACT.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmVkSEhVcuo&feature=related

I knew I couldn't carry Andrew for long. Full of doubt, I considered going home. I searched my melting mind and came up with a temporary solution...we had lunch. Luckily, he was re-vitalized and walked on his own the rest of the day. I managed our load, kept an eye on him and had a memorable day.

Besides his appreciation to see live penguins, wart hogs and 20 kinds of monkeys, he held a giant cockroach in his hand, warmed-up nicely to the petting zoo, patiently listened to a zoo keeper's lecture on armadillos and did a craft to take home.

ANDREW WAS FASCINATED AS WE LOOKED DOWN AT OUR ARMADILLO AS HE TRIED TO EXCAVATE A TUNNEL FROM HIS PEN TO FREEDOM.

The highlight of the day came at the camel ride. Knowing Andrew as I did, I was completely facetious when I led him to the railing and said, "You wanna ride that camel with me?" I almost fainted when the boy who wouldn't ride the mechanical horsey in front of Shop-Rite casually said, "Yeah."

Anyone can take their kid to the zoo and SAY that they rode the camel. I wanted proof to chronicle forever...good or bad...this amazing development. I surveyed the crowd and selected a grandfatherly-type man with his family. I hoped that I could trust him with my $800.00 palm-corder while we were helplessly strapped in. This gentleman not only undertook this responsibility but made our victory lap into a cherished high-quality video. Even better, Andrew loved the experience and promised to go on the elephant ride on our next visit.

When we got back into our area, to complete the day, I had one more ace up my sleeve. We went to BEST BUY. But got there at 6:01PM...they had just closed. I lied to get in by saying my scion just needed the toilet. Once inside, I bought my first computer...I had no idea it would take an hour. Amid the harsh stares of the workers who were held-up, I accomplished my mission...to the surprise of my wife. Thus completing my favorite Father's Day. The only thing that got in the way of perfection was Andrew's new Mets cap not making it back home.

Beyond the camel ride, the whole videotape of that day is a treasure and I invite you all to come by and watch it...assuming that someone remembers how to use a VCR.
*EDITOR'S NOTE - Andrew with the help of Dramamine is now a roller-coaster junkie...as long as they don't go backwards or have loops. You may recall that previous blogs have been filled with his pre-Dramamine roller-coaster adventures.

Monday, June 22, 2009

TRUTH, JUSTICE AND THE AMERICAN WAY !

June 16, 2009 was the 50th anniversary of George Reeves' death. For the uninitiated, Reeves was a movie and television actor...who whether he liked it or not, was typecast...or in his eyes, forever branded, as perhaps the greatest icon in TV history...SUPERMAN.

Unfortunately, at the height of his popularity, Reeves shot himself in the head with a Luger. The police were satisfied with their findings and closed the case as a suicide. Nevertheless there was enough circumstantial evidence to place a lingering doubt that it might have been murder. Despite several such theories...the suicide verdict has never been seriously challenged.

The 2006 movie, "HOLLYWOODLAND," starring Ben Affleck dealt with the "Superman" show's production and Reeves' death. A catchphrase from it was; living in Hollywood can make you famous...dying in Hollywood can make you a legend. The film examines the murder controversy and identifies two separate scenarios, and two different suspects, (his wife's ex-husband or his new girlfriend). In the end, even the movie leans towards suicide.

George Reeves was born George Keefer Brewer in Woolstock Iowa on January 5, 1914. His early film career was highlighted by a small role as one of Scarlet O'Hara's suitors in 1939's, "GONE WITH THE WIND."

Reeves continued getting positive notices but his career was put on hold when he entered the service in World War II. During his stint, Reeves starred in many military training films. After the war, he was earmarked as "leading man" material but his army connections into Hollywood died suddenly.

In civilian life, Reeves was able to scratch-out a living in acting but he aspired for greatness. Out of frustration, he moved to New York City and began a relatively successful career on Broadway. In 1951, DC Comics was adapting one of its characters, Superman, for a TV series.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0B1ufyXOds
CLICK ON THIS LINK FOR THE SHOW'S FAMOUS OPENING CREDITS SEQUENCE

In the early 50's, television was in its infancy. Many actors, unable to project TV's eventual impact, refused the Superman role because of television's perceived limitations, (few people had TVs). When the role was offered to Reeves, he was skeptical but took the chance. He achieved great notoriety but the contract he signed wasn't lucrative. Even worse, several clauses restricted him from working simultaneously on other projects.

The low wage and inability to get much outside work gradually embittered Reeves during the show's 104 episode run, (September 19, 1952 through April 28, 1958). Still, his mother, close friends and co-workers were shocked by his suicide.
THE NEW YORK POST HEADLINE...BY TODAY'S STANDARDS THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN THE JUICIEST TABLOID STORY OF ALL TIME.

We "baby-boomers" were over-saturated by TV.  I liked so many other shows but I watched the same Superman episodes ad nauseam. I can still recall the disappointed tone in my dad's voice as he said to me, "I bet you've seen that crap (Superman) a million times."  I hate to admit it but he was right...but directly he (most parents) created the problem. 

Although I was an outdoor kid, the TV was an inexpensive baby-sitter. Kids from my generation were conditoned to stay out of their parent's hair (trouble), by watching television. So while the indoor portion of my mis-spent youth may have been better served, reading, studying or learning an instrument...I was glued to re-runs of cowboy adventures, puppet show high-jinx and cartoon frolics.
AMAZINGLY, AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, I REMEMBER, WORD FOR WORD, THE NARRATION DURING THE OPENING CREDITS, (see it by clicking on the link near the top of the page). TO ME, EVEN AFTER COUNTLESS VIEWINGS, THEY WERE (AND STILL ARE), QUITE EXCITING.

Without delving deeply into what I watched...I would have to say, "THE LONE RANGER," "LITTLE RASCALS," "THE THREE STOOGES" and "BEANIE AND CECIL" were my favorite TV shows. But dad was right about was Superman, I watched it a gazillion times.  Oddly, I still want to see them the show and rue the fact that I haven't been able to share that joy with my son Andrew. Because as chintzy as their plots and production qualities were, they were fun...over and over again. You'd think that whatever cable station has the rights would show them all the time or at least have observed the 50th anniversary by airing, "THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN."
THE OBVIOUSLY LOW PRODUCTION STANDARDS WERE SECONDARY...THE SHOW GENERATED IMAGINATION AND MADE KIDS LIKE ME THINK THAT ANYTHING WAS POSSIBLE.

Set in a big city, (Metropolis), the TV show's writers may have missed their mark by not including Superman's famous adversaries from the comic book series like; Lex Luther, Brainiac and Mr. Mxyzptlk. However the TV show did have a similar villain, a miniature Martian named Mr. Zero. On the other hand, the writers did get a lot of use out of the unearthly element Kyrptonite. As the story goes (the Superman character was created in 1938), Kryptonite was his Achilles Heel...any exposure to it was debilitating and could cause death !

THE ULTIMATE HOOLIGAN, MR. MXYZPTLK WAS A CHALLENGING NEMESIS WITH AN EQUALLY DIFFICULT NAME TO PRONOUNCE, (my friends and I pronounced it...MITZLE-PLICK).

The only natural substance that Superman was vulnerable to was Kryptonite.  This metal was native to his defunct home-planet, Krypton.  You may recall that his father (Jorel) flew baby Superman safely to Earth in a tiny one-passenger rocket ship before Krypton exploded.  However, remnants of this lethal element splattered throughout the universe and always seemed to find its way into the hands of Superman's enemies.

In the end, bad contracts and the pressure to succeed WAS George Reeves' Kryptonite.
STIPULATIONS IN REEVES' CONTRACT REDUCED HIM TO SHORT PUBLIC APPEARANCES, A RARE FILM ROLE AND GUEST STAR OPPORTUNITIES ON OTHER TV PROGRAMS LIKE, "THE LUCY SHOW."

Most kids at the time couldn't conceive of Reeves internal angst but the adult public soon understood.
THE GREATEST TRIBUTE TO REEVES, ALBEIT POSTHUMOUS, IS THAT KIDS STILL ADORE HIS CHARACTER AND ALWAYS WILL.

Lost was one of entertainment's greatest figures...along with the careers of his fellow actors who played; Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen Perry White and Professor Pepperwinkle.
MAYBE GEORGE REEVES WASN'T A POSITIVE ROLE-MODEL BUT SUPERMAN AND HIS EQUALLY FICTIONAL ALTER-EGO CLARK KENT WERE.

Also, don't believe the urban legend that George Reeves' suicide occurred after he went crazy. That nonsense suggested that he really thought he was the man-of-steel and that he jumped out of a skyscraper in the expectation that he could fly.

In life, George Reeves will be remembered as a kind and charitable gentleman who internalized his unhappiness. In death, he was the one guy who needed: TRUTH, JUSTICE AND THE AMERICAN WAY...and didn't get it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

EDELBLUM MYSTERY THEATER: I TOAD YOU SO

The "ART BELL SHOW" is a late night program on AM radio. It discusses a wide range of paranormal topics and sometimes includes mainstream science. On my twenty minute commute home from work at 4:AM, I am sometimes entertained by the crackpot theorists who advertise their outlandish books, documentaries etc.

On a recent edition, Art Bell's guest talked-up his book on the "shadow people." The shadow people are apparently negative little imps that hide in the dark recesses of our lives and among other things...inflict trivial chaos.

When the level of nonsense is this high, I usually zone-out or switch to another station. So here's the gist of what I remember from this gentleman's example of shadow people and their antics: Did you ever lose something in your house?...like car keys. You know where they should be, but they aren't there. Soon, your search begins to expand to less likely places. After a while, in frustration, you eventually go back to the original spot...and there they are!

I prefer to think of myself as a realist...there JUST aren't little pixies in our homes moving our remote-controller or dog's leash...if that translates to me being a boring guy...so be it, because the concept of shadow people is nothing but ridiculous to me. Like I always tell my son...rather than call someone a liar...just say: there are somethings I have to see for myself. I can't help but feel that way about the shadow people...until last week.

We have all seen photos and watched nature shows with incredible images of animals. Sometimes you have to pause and wonder if these pictures were staged? Because if those pictures weren't staged...how in the world could they possibly have the patience, time, energy, money and LUCK to be there at that precise once-in-a-lifetime Kodak moment to capture the shot. DO FILM CREWS SET OUT INTO THE JUNGLE AMONGST WILD PREDATORS, PESTILENCE AND UNKNOWN PHYSICAL DANGER IN THE HOPE OF FINDING A MOUSE RIDING A FROG?

Nature photographers climb the highest mountains, dive deep into oceans and search every corner of earth to bring the viewer (us) weird, incredible and funny pictures. Of course every now and then, we see animals in the wild doing oddball things ourselves. I saw one example at Birch Grove Park, in nearby Northfield.
In the lake, I saw a turtle who had balanced itself on a tree branch that jutted-out over the water. Even if the tide went down, it seemed unlikely that a turtle would be sharp enough to perfectly straddle the branch before the water subsided. Because if it didn't...then the awkward moving turtle would have had to have walked (and balanced) itself...tightrope-style across to the end of the branch.

I would love to watch a turtle do that. But I would never have the patience to sit there for hours or over night. If I did, what if the turtle did it somewhere else or not at all. This puzzle is only perplexing if you DON'T believe in shadow people. If Art Bell's overly commercialised guest was right, then the turtle is not merely sunning itself on that branch...it was placed there by little elfin men against his will and is probably scared out of its terrapin wits.

Today's edition of "EDELBLUM MYSTERY THEATER: I toad you so" incorporates the unexplainable and the obvious conclusion that shadow people are real !
I don't know, I just don't know how this is possible, but I am certain that the shadow people have invaded me...not in my house...not my yard, garage, attic or shed. I say, the shadow people have invaded my mini-van !

HOW HIGH CAN A COMMON, AVERAGE-SIZED TOAD JUMP?

*YES THIS PHOTO IS OF FROGS NOT TOADS, (FROGS LIVE IN WATER AND HAVE A SHINY SKIN. TOADS LIVE IN SOIL AND HAVE DRY SKIN). SO USE YOUR IMAGINATION AND BEAR WITH ME, THIS STORY IS ABOUT TOADS...BUT ALL THE COOL CYBER-PHOTOS ARE OF FROGS.

We understand that some species of frogs are great distance and height leapers. There are even famous events like California's, "FROG JUMPING CONTEST OF CALAVERAS COUNTY." However, to my knowledge, there are no "Toad Olympics"...especially for the normal, far less talented toads...like the one in question today...he was only slightly bigger than a quarter. A CHAMPIONSHIP-CALIBER JUMPING FROG AT THE CREST OF HIS LEAP.

The past six weeks South Jersey has been especially wet. Since we had three 90 degree days in April, we have been inundated with rain. Still, I don't see a correlation between rain and an increased toad population or more importantly an increase in toad athleticism. Therefore, there are not millions of them hopping all over the place. Of the few that I do see, they seem to jump in the one-to-two inch range and at a modest trajectory. So with those in-born deficiencies for flight, how did one get itself in my mini-van?
The weather has been bad so I haven't left the van's windows or doors open. I lock my cars up at night, so I doubt a pranking passerby dropped the toad in...and...I have interviewed all family members and they claim to be averse to handling such vermin and TOTALLY deny any knowledge of a toad in my van.
My discovery occurred on a rainy night when I stopped for gas on my way home from work. I got out to squeegee my windshield and paid the attendant as he removed the gas hose. When I turned to get into the open door, I was startled by the little sentry standing guard at the edge of my door. I called over the attendant and we had a good a laugh when I said, "Where's the National Geographic photographer when you need one?"
Who knows how long that little bugger was hopping around inside my van? I cupped him in my hands and set it in the grassy landscaping and wondered how? Now when I reflect back...I have more evidence for The Art Bell Show because the only culpable culprits capable of such chicanery would have to be shadow people.

Monday, June 8, 2009

GOOGLE ALERT vs THE WORLDWIDE APPEAL OF MY BLOG

In last week's "MORE GLIB ThAN PROFOUND," entitled, "THERE'S TWO MICHIGANS?" I casually mentioned seeing a passerby who reminded me of character actor Woody Strode. Three hours after that blog was published, I received a nice E-Mail and web-page comment from Kalai Strode, who is Woody's daughter.

I was not only happy that she took the time to write a note of encouragement and thanks, but I was also impressed at how quickly...through word of mouth, that she got word that someone (me) had written about her dad, Woody Strode.

My bubble was slightly burst when HJ informed me that there is a computer application commonly used by lawyers, called "GOOGLE-ALERT." Like its name suggests, google-alert will E-Mail its subscriber to identify whenever a specific name, place, social security number etc., is used on the worldwide-web.

If indeed Kalai used google-alert to find me I'm happy with the results. But if she found out that I mentioned her dad by word-of-mouth, then the global reach of "MORE GLIB ThAN PROFOUND" humbles me to the core.

If you missed her exact comment, please use my blog's archives and find her statement at the bottom of the May 25, 2009 edition. While you are there, click on all five of the links she provided at:

www.youtube.com/watch?V=YwWqwVA

Check-out her impressive set of clips that exhibit Woody Strode's accomplishments as well as his (and other African-Americans) struggles as pioneers breaking the color-barrier in Hollywood, sports and other forms of entertainment. Those links are called:

"FOOTBALL HEROES"
"LEST WE FORGET"
"JUNGLE STEREOTYPES"
"JUNGLE FILM DECLINES"
"AN ACTOR IS BORN."

Woody Strode was born on July 25, 1914 in Los Angeles, California. He died of lung cancer on December 31, 1994.

His first major impact was in collegiate sports. At a time when few black athletes were playing major college football, Woody starred on UCLA along side Jackie Robinson and All-American Kenny Washington. Together, they made up the backfield that helped develop UCLA into a perennial powerhouse.

Together with Kenny Washington, Strode went on to become one of the first blacks in the NFL. He played for the Los Angeles Rams in 1946.

AUGUST 1946 WITH THE LOS ANGELES RAMS: WOODY STRODE #34, KENNY WASHINGTON #13, NFL HALL-OF-FAMER BOB WATERFIELD #10.
Later in 1948 and 1949, he played two seasons in the Canadian Football League with the Calgary Stampeders. Also, because of his buff, six-foot four 210 pound physique, when he stopped playing football, he became a pro-wrestler.
PRACTICING WITH THE STAMPEDERS

When I mentioned Strode last week, I only remembered him from these films:
"THE TEN COMMANDMENTS" as the Ethiopian King (1956) "PORK CHOP HILL" as Private Franklin (1959) "SPARTACUS" as Draba (1960)
"SERGEANT RUTLEDGE" as 1st Sgt Braxton Rutledge (1960)
"THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE" as Pompey (1962)
FAMOUS GLADIATOR SCENE WITH KIRK DOUGLAS IN SPARTACUS

MY FAVORITE WOODY STRODE ROLE, AS SERGEANT RUTLEDGE.

IN, "THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE," IT IS A MYSTERY WHO ACTUALLY KILLED THE VILLIAN. JAMES STEWART WAS OVER-MATCHED IN HIS DUEL WITH LEE MARVIN (LIBERTY VALANCE). THEREFORE MOST PEOPLE BELIEVE HE WAS GUNNED-DOWN (OFF-CAMERA) BY NEUTRALIST JOHN WAYNE. HOWEVER IT IS ENTIRELY POSSIBLE THAT WOODY STRODE AS POMPEY PULLED THE TRIGGER TO SAVE STEWART.

The reality is, Woody Strode was a veteran of 89 movies. His first film appearance was in 1941's, "SUNDOWN." But his Hollywood prominence started in the late 50's. Nationally, at a time when the civil rights movement was gaining momentum, Strode bravely stood in the forefront by accepting controversial roles for a black man. While its true he also portrayed stereotypical characters...I remember him best as being soulful and intuitive while bringing forth a profound, intelligent leadership quality to the screen.

Anyone with more information on "Google-Alerts" or anything else that might clear-up the situation is encouraged to contact me.
I thank Kalai for motivating me to research more deeply into her father's multi-level career and I hope you take the time to do the same.

Monday, June 1, 2009

THERE'S TWO MICHIGANS ?

A sports-illiterate friend of mine once got into betting college football games as a way to supplement his income. He was aided by his gambling savvy brother-in-law who was only slightly more aware of the subtleties of the sport.

Apparently beginners luck shined on my friend. He got off to a fast start and bragged about the reliability of his "inside information." The rest of the story is predictable...after his luck ran dry, he hit hard times. His winnings were soon gone and in an attempt to recreate the "rush," the ensuing losing bets got bigger. Then through his brother-in-law's inside tips, he got the "lock" of the century...Michigan State. My friend over-extended himself in order to get "out" and back into the black with plenty to spare. He made his call and confidently bet on Michigan. The inside information was RIGHT! Michigan State clouted their opponent to my friend's delight. However when he wanted to collect, he learned (the hard way) that he accidentally bet on Michigan not Michigan State...and Michigan wasn't as lucky. Upon telling me this news he said, "How was I supposed to know there's two Michigans."

Similar things, confused as the same often cause problems. My family visited Ocean City, Maryland thirteen times. The redundancy, repetition and re-run of vacations never bothered me but some friends were critical. They'd say its the exact same thing as Ocean City, New Jersey but farther away. The truth is, deep down other than sharing the same name, the towns are not alike. Besides, I've always felt that its what you do, rather than where...that marks the significance of time well spent. To me, it was their loss to have never discovered such a great place for themselves.

It is true that over the years Ocean City Maryland lost some of its luster. When my son Andrew became old enough for amusement parks, we began spending the bulk of our vacations in Virginia with the idea of breaking up the trip home, by stopping overnight in Ocean City.

On one of the earlier trips, (Andrew was still in a car seat), we were driving south on highway-13, on Maryland's eastern shore. It was around noon and 95 degrees in late June as we crossed into Virginia. Almost immediately, on the desolate country road, I had a tire blow-out. Luckily, I was able to control the car. Unfortunately these were the pre-cell phone days and before I joined AAA. We were stuck in the middle of nowhere and because of my bad back , the weather and being dressed SO well, I had no intention of changing a tire.

Surrounded by farmlands with no hint of civilization, I did the only thing a real man would do...I rode the rim. Around the first bend, I found a restaurant. They weren't opened but an employee inside told me that there was a junkyard just ahead in Temperanceville that sold used tires.

Naming a town Temperanceville is like the little girl in my son Andrew's second grade class. The students were asked to cut out a star and write their name and strongest personality traits. These stars were put on a bulletin board and most of the kids filled in the whole star with lurid examples of self-pride. The one exception was that girl who only wrote: mild. Now I knew that girl and although her assessment was accurate, you'd still hope that she saw something a little more exciting in herself.

Its kind of the same thing with Temperanceville. The word temperance loosely means; self-restraint or moderation of appetites or abstinence from liquor. So this town, perhaps with a religious overtone was dedicated to the idea of being a mild place.
WE DIDN'T SEE MUCH OF TEMPERANCEVILLE BUT MY RESEARCHED PHOTOS WERE PICTURESQUE.

A pall of negativity came over me as my car limped into McGuire's Junkyard. The harsh stares for a stranger in town, brought-out the primal New Yorker in me. I became edgier when I realized that our New Jersey license plates sent up a red-flag that further identified us as easy targets. At that point, I even flashed-back to the opening of the "TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE" and figured that getting screwed (financially) by these guys was better than being the main entree at their next barbecue.

I caught eye-contact with a shirt-less and sweaty Adonis operating a forklift. If this head-shaved man didn't have such a threatening scowl on his face, he would have looked like character actor Woody Strode.
WOODY STRODE (1914-1994) APPEARED IN OVER 60 MOVIES, (1941-1994). HE IS MOST KNOWN FOR STARRING AS "SERGEANT RUTLEDGE," IN 1960. BUT BECAUSE OF ATHLETICISM AND GREAT PHYSIQUE, (HE ALSO PLAYED FOOTBALL FOR UCLA ALONG SIDE JACKIE ROBINSON AND PROFESSIONALLY IN THE CANADIAN LEAGUE), STRODE FREQUENTLY WON ROLES IN JUNGLE MOVIES, ON CHAIN-GANGS OR AS A GLADIATOR OR SLAVE...OR...ANY OTHER EXCUSE TO SHOW HIM SHIRTLESS AND SWEATY.

A grinning man with clean clothes in mirrored sunglasses approached the car. He introduced himself politely as the owner Mark McGuire and added, "Looks like you can use another tire." I decided he was being too nice and I was reminded of an old "MAD MAGAZINE" article in which TV/movie villains are portrayed as being pleasant and urbane...while their intended victim or the lawman going after them is unsophisticated in his crudeness, (try watching the verbal exchange between Sherlock Holmes and his nemesis Professor Moriarty). Plus, this gentleman had the audacity to use his full name as an obvious infringement on baseball's heroic homerun king Mark McGwire.

I tried to avoid coming-off as defensive and grunted, "Yeah." "I have a tire that'll get y'all back on the road but it'll be a few minutes before my people can get to it." I said, "Okay." When we remained in the car McGuire came back and said, ""Y'all'll be more comfortable in my office." "That's okay, we'll just stretch our legs." After about twenty minutes McGuire came by and asked, "I'm sending a kid out for lunch...what can I get for you?" We were so uptight, we feigned sincerity and said, "Thanks, no." The Woody Strode look-alike was taking our lug nuts off when McGuire added, "Y'all sure you don't want to get out of the sun?" When I shrugged he asked, "How about a Mr. Pibb or a Pepsi for your little man?" I smiled and said, "No."

Our shredded tire was removed and a beat-up replacement with a red patch in the side-wall was rolled out. Woody Strode disappeared for a minute and returned with a small version of a sledge hammer. He started wailing away at the rim of my bad tire's wheel. If I thought he looked like Woody Strode before...now as his skin glistened in the sunlight, I was convinced.

McGuire motioned me into his office. He was using an old-fashion adding machine as he mumbled items and prices. I was hoping to get out for fifty but as he kept including more things, I was afraid a hundred was more likely. He sighed, "Thomas-Henry (the Woody Strode look-alike) took ten minutes to bang-out your rim." Then in a lower voice, he said isolated words like; city tax, state tax, tire disposal, new valve and labor. Without speaking, he pulled the old calculator's lever one more time and started to hand write the receipt. He then garbled, "That'll be___dollars and eighty-three cents." I said, "What?" In an appeasing way McGuire said, "You're right, this is no time to quibble over pennies...let's just round it off to an even twenty-six dollars."

After the pleasant shock wore-off, I paid and found Thomas-Henry outside to tip him. As we got back in our car, McGuire asked me to wait and said, "If y'all can do me one favor." I was thinking; here we go as he added, "I'd appreciate it, if you come back this way..." I was guessing that he was going to ask us to bring back the tire so he could re-sell it. Instead he said, "I'd appreciate it if when you drove by...even if I'm not opened or if you don't see me, I'd consider it an honor if you honked...that way I'll know a friend went by.

On our way back to Ocean City Maryland, McGuire's junkyard was closed. I stopped and left his tire next to the office door. While I paused to get back onto highway-13, I even honked.

At Christmas, I found his address on the bill of sale. I wrote him a note in a holiday card. In addition to re-thanking him for his hospitality...I compliented him and his staff for being a refreshing change from the "dog-eat-dog" environment that I'm used to.

A week later, I got a card from him with a calendar advertising his place plus an invitation to his 4th of July pig roast...see I was right about him luring me to a barbecue...but I was wrong about him and the other Mark McGwire. In a classic example of role-reversal...the junkyard Mark McGuire became the eternal hero and the homerun king, disgraced by performance enhancing drugs has now been reduced to being a punchline.

So always get your facts straight before you say or do anything stupid...Temperanceville was mild and it was good...and be careful which Ocean City you go to and most importantly...please remember when wagering, there's more than one Michigan.