Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vandal desecrated tombstones litter the Mt. Olive Cemetery near Lucas, OH which contains the gravesite of Mary Jane Hendrickson from which have been launched some unbelievable tales of the paranormal.

...Some haunting Halloween folklore

Deep in the heavily wooded bowels of Monroe Township down near Malabar Farm lies the origin of some of the county’s most enduring folklore. Or, could these many stories possibly be true?

Somewhere in desolate Mt. Olive Cemetery are the interred remains of Mary Jane Hendrickson. Legend has it Mary was buried there in 1898 after she was burned at the stake for practicing witchcraft.

Or, was it 1793 as one history has it, when she was hanged then buried for the same offense.

A large pine tree near her grave has been known to bleed; many times, according to oft repeated tales.

One version of her story holds she was not a witch as often alleged and did not die by being burned at the stake—or hanged. She was the servant of a man who owned a large quantity of area property and after she had served him many years he gave her a piece of land near the cemetery where she lived the reclusive and simple life of an herbalist.

Another story adds, all unusual sightings near the grave are the result of a nearby Indian burial ground from which spirits are dismayed by the noisy visitors.

Then there is this story: Supposedly one night four guys went down there and three of them had been drinking. The drinkers peed on the big pine tree behind her grave. On their way home the three guys that peed on her tree died in a car accident, but the one guy who didn’t pee on her tree lived.

Then there is this: In 1992 a visitor to the cemetery was driving a new Camaro down the road to the cemetery when he saw what he thought was a ghost, and, his car died. After the ghost disappeared in the woods, his car restarted.

Who knows; creepy hocus pocus or truly unexplainable phenomena? I’m inclined to believe the former, but, each time I chuckle with indifference to this silliness, the hair on my arms stands up and the lights dim.


Ed. Note: Perhaps a fitting, final chapter to this lore would be documented stories of Mary Jane paying personal visits to the miscreants who have vandalized her final resting place.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

...a disgusting habit

With my new satellite TV service I have watched the baseball playoffs and the World Series.

In fact, I’ve seen more games in the past month than I’ve see in my entire adult life.

I’ve also been repulsed by many player's absolutely uncivilized habit of spitting, everywhere—even more often than I’ve noted them scratching their crotches.

They say baseball is our “national pastime”? I hope the rest of the world does not reach any conclusions about our civility if they have noticed this shameful conduct.

Makes me wish for a return to my old, TV antenna reception.

That picture was usually so snowy this deplorable conduct was not visible.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The season’s first veneer of snow coats my rhododendron plant today.


Egad. I looked out the window this morning and it was, well, snowing! Egad. Yup, happens every year about this time. In fact, today’s disgusting surprise has already been preceded by several frosty mornings.

Actually, I don’t really mind the white stuff—up until about New Year’s Day. Then, I begin to have severe visions of palm trees dancing gently in tropical breezes.

For those of you who live in such sub-tropical grandeur, especially the ones with a tendency to laugh at our seasonal shivers; I hope the ice cubes in your beverages melt prematurely.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mansfield Style with...

Tom Croghan and Friends

Carlton-CJ-Jenkins, vocals
Mark Ellis, trumpet

Adena Williams, vocals

Dave Kana, sax

Rollie Harper, drums

Brandon Enderby, 15, and Wilbur Kress, bass

And tunes such as:

Mr. Bo Jangles


Hey Good Lookin'

Time After Time, and

Stormy Weather... an afternoon of soul soothing music at the library.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mark Ellis above and Rollie Harper join Tom Croghan and more Friends at the Mansfield Library Saturday for an afternoon of marvelous jazz music.

We would be pleased to have you come along and enjoy a delightful, musical--visual--ride.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

...A piece of cake in Ohio

Before you can cast a fraudulent ballot in Ohio you must become registered with your county’s board of elections. To do that you can simply walk into your local library or post office, for examples, and ask for a voter registration card, fill it out and mail it to the local elections office in a timely manner.

On that card simply check “yes” where it asks if you are a US citizen. To prove your citizenship the card asks for your Ohio driver’s license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number. Do as they say and provide one or the other.

Here’s where the fraud gets easy. Any legal alien can acquire a driver’s license and a social security number. The very documents asked for to prove your citizenship are not proof of that whatsoever.

If you are registering by mail and do not have a driver’s license or Social Security number to divulge they simply ask you to provide something like a copy of a utility bill or a paycheck.

How either of those proves citizenship is beyond me.

Regardless, that will get you plugged into the voting system.

Then, the final insult to our voting process; when you go to the polls to vote that same utility bill will satisfy election workers of your identity. You will be asked to sign the poll book. Simply, sign it like you signed your registration form and BINGO, you may then cast your fraudulent ballot.

No one likely will be the wiser and once your ballot is cast it loses its identity so the secrecy of your vote is protected and can never be discounted in the election.

Your vote, fraudulent or otherwise, certainly does count.

Now, add the millions of illegal immigrants nationally into this equation with boundless forms of phony citizenship documentation and the potential for fraud grows exponentially.

Ironically, as I was doing the research for this piece the clerical lady with whom I was discussing this procedure was very aware of the ramifications of my questions. She was herself, a legal alien.

She was just fine but this sloppy procedure needs fixed!

BREAKING NEWS on this issue: An Ohio state appellate court recently ruled the secretary of state must make more stringent rules for evaluating the legitimacy of the more than 600,000 new voter registrants in Ohio.

The US Supreme Court refused to hear the merits of the case, stating only; plaintiff, the Ohio GOP, did not have legal standing in the case.

It has routinely been alleged that over 200,000 of those registrants are in error or bogus.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Muscular draft horses clip-clop-pounded a circular route (above) around Malabar farm to the delight of a constant stream of festival visitors who enjoyed mini-hay rides in this form of 19th century mass transit.


The thundering roar of Civil War Artillery canons periodically reverberated across the hollows of Malabar Farm during its recent two day, 32nd annual Heritage Festival while in an adjacent meadow pioneers emulated colonial life with an encampment fiercely true to accurate artifacts.

More than 75 crafts people demonstrated a wide range of period skills in the main barn, outbuildings and a sprinkling of canvas covered venues around the farm.

Two young ladies were entranced by the skill of a potter’s hands (above) as he demonstrated an age of craft work that was older than the girl’s great grandparents.

Old friend from my flying days, Phil Johnson of Mansfield (left) delighted visitors with his magic creations on a tiny lathe while his wife in silhouette and long skirt (below) greeted visitors in the farm’s huge barn.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Please tune in Saturday for a peek at one of Malabar Farm’s most popular annual events; Heritage Days.

Editor’s note: If you click on this photo, like most others in the blog, a larger image should appear on your screen. In this case it will make the type a tad easier to read.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Brilliant crimson screams at the viewer's eyes from this dogwood tree deep in the colorful season’s grip. Nearly four months ago already, the sun did a U-turn at the Tropic of Cancer and headed back toward its winter digs far below the Equator.

Already, Ole Sol’s shiny disc has dipped lower in our morning sky and tugs the curtain ever tighter on the length of our daylight.

Already, 10/12th of this year is nearly history.

I think I am glad about that.

But wait.

Where would we be without the pleasantly pungent assault of burning leaf smoke, or the crunch of fresh snow under our winter step, or the delightful smile of a daffodil as it scoffs at residual frost, or the sounds of a trout rising in the summer stream, or, the pleasantly pungent assault of....

Maybe I’ll just continue to find enjoyment whenever it arrives.

And, in whatever form it takes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

--Second Grade Style

Grandson Eli (above on left) is a second grader in an academically high octane school in Jacksonville Beach, FL. Recently his teacher said this on the class blog:

"Today we were able to see the state of matter change from a liquid into a solid. We did this by making ice cream. First, the children measured the milk, vanilla, and sugar into their baggie. Then, they put their baggie into a bigger bag filled with ice and rock salt. Next, it was shake, shake, shake...."

Then she had the children write a letter to a cow explaining what had happened.

Here's Eli's take on the matter:

Dear Cow,

Today at school the children rudely changed me from a liquid to a solid. I made a lot of new friends. For example: rock salt, vanilla extract, ice, and sugar. I had one foe. His name was "plastic baggie." He was so mean! He kept me from seeing my friends ice and rock salt. It was long and bad!

Milk (Eli)

Grand parents are allowed to be proud of such stuff.

here for the entire story!

Monday, October 13, 2008


When you vote early by absentee ballot you will receive your "I have voted today" button. You should then be able to go home and wave your button in front of your radio and TV which would then cancel the reception of all future political ads for this election at your address.

Will someone please go to work on this technology. Please!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Surprisingly similar in size to Mansfield, Altoona rests in an Allegheny Mountain valley 1,206 feet above sea level midway between Pittsburg and Harrisburg, PA—the state capital. In the above photo taken from the top of Wopsy Mountain, the city is dwarfed by Brush Mountain to the east.

These mountains rise about 750 feet above the valley floor while Cresson Mountain just to the west has a peak elevation near 2,500 feet above sea level. These mountains were a huge barrier to transportation westward in the early 1800s.

Consequently a series of inclined planes were used to haul canal boats over the mountains between Hollidaysburg (near Altoona) and Johnstown (of flood fame) where they rejoined the canal westward to Pittsburg.

In the mid 1800s railroads were replacing the canals and the Horseshoe Curve—an engineering marvel of its time—was constructed to help the heavy trains climb the mountain near Altoona at a reasonable grade.

By 1858 travel time between Philadelphia and Pittsburg had been reduced to 15 hours as opposed to the three days required by canal.

The Funicular cable car system at today’s Horseshoe Curve visitor center is pictured in the top two photos on the right. The top photo shows the car and elevated track used to transport visitors up to the railroad track grade level. The lower photo is the opposite view and shows the companion cable car ascending the hill while its partner descends in unison toward the visitor center.

The third photo shows a diesel engine on static display at the curve viewing elevation while the blue engine in the background follows its companion back down the mountain toward Altoona’s railroad yard.

The blue engines had just an hour or so ago assisted with the chore of pulling a heavy train up the mountain and would soon be used to repeat that process with another westbound train. The angle of the grade is visible if you carefully view the degree of the blue engine’s tilt.

Another curious sight in this area is of people collecting drinking water from free flowing mountain springs. Sometimes they simply flow through a pipe extending across a moss covered concrete structure along a mountain road.

In the photo published Thursday Cousin Bob Wolf demonstrates the collection process at a huge spring in the town of Roaring Spring, PA. Visible behind him is but a small portion of the 8 million gallon-per-day flow of the spring; much of which has been diverted through a system of pipes for local use and the commercial bottling of water.

Geologists believe a subterranean lake is the source of this water flow, the roar of which was said to be audible for miles around before most was diverted—thus giving the city (known as a borough) its appropriate name.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Saturday we wrap up our recent Altoona, PA and area visit with a peek at the mountains, the Horseshoe Curve and at local springs which, to this day, produce clear, clean drinking water.

The above picture was taken in a town with the appropriate name of Roaring Spring!

Please join us for the story.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

...It’s no bargain

My recent excursion through a week-long, storm-caused power failure was simply one more episode that proves generating your own electricity is very expensive. Here’s why.

I live in an all-electric home; furnace, hot water heater, washer, dryer, air conditioner, the whole shebang! My year-round budget is $129 a month or, say, $4.25 a day. I try not to waste electricity but I do live comfortably with the thermostat set at 70 during the heating season and 75 during air conditioning months.

That $4.25 buys me 200 amp service with enough wattage to run everything I own—all at once; I think. Actually, I’ve never tried that but I’ve also never blown any significant circuit breaker.

My generator is a Honda 3500 with a total, rated ampere draw of 25 amps and a rated output of 3,000 watts of continuous load. It will run about four hours on its 1.6 gallon fuel tank.

So, to run it 24 hours it would consume 6 tanks of fuel x 1.6 gallons each for a total of 9.6 gallons of gasoline at, say, $3.75 per gallon for a total fuel cost of $36 per day.

That’s $36 per day for fuel only versus $4.25 daily total cost on the electric company budget.

And, for that $36 I am getting a maximum amperage of 25 versus 200 amps from the power company, or, about 1/8 the power at about 8 times the cost.

And, on top of that I had the capital cost of $1,000 to buy the generator.

About the only thing I do with the generator during power outages is run my refrigerator/freezer and a light just above it. I’ve found I can do that about 3 times a day and keep my stuff fairly cold and the frozen stuff frozen.

That keeps me in ice cubes for the occasional adult beverage necessary in such circumstances. It also gives me electric to charge my cell phone or my laptop computer, which with some creative use of extension cords can get me online from time to time.

The generator does improve the quality of life just a tad, but I sure could replace a lot of spoiled food with the money spent on its operation.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Cousins Bob and Janet Wolf (above) ponder their dinner selections from the generous and reasonable menu of the exceedingly historic Jean Bonnet Tavern of Bedford, PA where we recently celebrated the last night of my annual visit.

Dinner guests enjoy eating on the balcony of the tavern on a recent and warm summer evening while the cabin gift shop is pictured on the right of the smaller picture. This cabin was built in a nearby county in the late 1700s, reconstructed at the tavern and opened as the gift shop in 2006.

In the lower photos, the year of original construction, 1762, is celebrated in stained glass and the tavern’s original rules remain on display.

...of Bedford, PA

History just oozes from the 2 foot thick, sandstone walls of this historic tavern and inn.

While recently savoring a scrumptious dinner of prime rib there, a chill ran up my spine as I pondered what this place must have been like back then in 1762—the year of its construction, 14 years before the US declared our independence.

I could hear the imagined sounds of a horse whinnying as a weary travel dismounted and clomped his way through a thick wooden door, content to have whatever was on the menu that cold night and happy for a place to rest his weary soul.

The charm of candlelight bounced shadows across the massive, wall stones and was barely bright enough to reveal tool marks in the hand-hewn wood beams supporting the ceiling. I knew those marks were there, but, wondered what other secrets those beams could reveal if they could just tell me about conversations in this very room 246 years ago when travelers surely would have been worried about the red-coats on the Boston Common.

In an adjoining dining room I touched the soot blackened iron work of the fireplace that likely served as both the kitchen and the furnace back then. I could visualize a crackling fire bubbling the huge, cast kettle of stew while patrons pondered the looming war of independence, or, the more close at hand challenge of migrating westward across the rugged mountains.

In October 1794 troops of then President George Washington camped at the tavern on their way to Western PA to quell the Whisky Rebellion. The tavern was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. I wondered why that honor was so long in coming.

In an upstairs hallway I found the sign (pictured right) which had the rule, “No Razor Grinders or Tinkers taken in.” I emailed co-owner Melissa Jacobs for an explanation and in her friendly response, she described “Tinkers” as “...traveling persons of questionable reputation”, and, Razor Grinders “...would come and sharpen knives and blades. I assume they were a rather unsavory bunch as well.” Thanks Melissa!

Today the tavern has a menu as delectable as its history and still offers four rooms to travelers; two singles at $85 per night and a couple of suites at just over $100. My prime rib dinner was hot, juicy, tender and cooked to perfection. I wish I could go back again tomorrow.

Still curious, click here.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Bedford, PA: Sitting on the Lincoln Highway—itself an historic treasure as the first paved, transcontinental highway in the US—is the Jean Bonnet Tavern which traces its history to 1762. We enjoyed a dinner visit there during my recent stay in nearby Altoona and we’ll tell you about it Saturday; a marvelous dining experience except for my coleslaw which tasted like shredded rubber bands basted in liquefied plaster. Please tune in.