The Trotterbury Tale

First let me say in this brief introduction,

That I’m listening to a BBC production,

Of the Canterbury Tales, by Chaucer, Geoffrey,

Who wrote in Middle English, which is all Greek to me.

 

This poem in High School, I surely did dread,

Because I couldn’t understand a word that he said.

But now this story gives me great inspiration,

Thanks to Burton Raffel and his fine translation.

 

Now I can follow this ancient old song,

And understand why it’s lasted so long

I’m enjoying the story and so I will show it,

By writing this blog in the way of a poet.

 

The Harness Racing Fan’s Story

 

Last week, three friends they had a notion,

To visit the upstate town of Goshen.

A place that bears a biblical name,

And is home to the Harness Hall of Fame.

 

The trip was my idea, as I am a big fan,

Brother X and friend John went along with the plan.

It was my birthday, which is why they agreed,

They’d rather watch Yankees than any old steed.

 

Please do not poke the driver

So we packed up the car, and were on our way soon.

We reached the museum a little past noon.

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On the walls I saw pictures of drivers so mighty,

They only recognized a guy they called Whitey.

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We toured every exhibit and every space,

And inside of cutouts our heads we did place.

2017 Humbletonian

Our favorite spot was a place where we could act,

Like we were driving a Trotter on the main track.

 

Johnny went first and just like he oughta,

He took to racing like a duck takes to water.

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I mentioned Ducks, because on the previous night,

We saw The Long Island Ducks really put up a fight.

They beat my poor Stormers on a night filled with rain,

But it was still nice to see some old friends again.

 

Linda and Jimmy from the old Sutter crowd,

Were cheering for Ducks and rooting quite loud.

Brother X and Christine, the home team were backing.

And nephew DJ and wife Stacy were all busy quacking.

Ducks vs Stormers

Now back to my story about our Goshen trip.

It was my turn in the sulky but with my bum hip

I needed some help to climb in with my pain.

If truth be told, I needed a crane.

20170819_151125Then, finally, I got it right,

But to get me out, it took all night.

I didn’t care; I was having my fun,

And in the picture, it looks like I won.

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At the end of the day, we were ready to eat,

My friend Sally told me a place that couldn’t be beat.

So, we took her advice, and it couldn’t be finer,

We all enjoyed the food at the Goshen Diner.

 

Goshen DinerBefore we left I took a picture of the track,

And we agreed that someday we’d all go back.

But there is one sad note about this town.

Two days later this old barn burned down.

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But when they saw the flames and smoke,

This sleepy little town really awoke.

The people came from everywhere

To save the horses that were there.

Goshen Fire

An historic barn is now gone,

But, thankfully, the horses all live on,

Thanks to the people with courage true.

Oh, Land of Goshen, how I love you.

 

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl

 

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I Was A Teenage Nazi

When I was a teenager, my family bought a summer bungalow in Yaphank, Long Island. The place where we lived was part of the German-American Settlement League, a private club exclusively for people of German extraction. They had 50 bungalows, a ballfield, a clubhouse, and a private beach on the Carmen’s River. Our house was right on the river. As nice as that sounds, there were still problems for me living there as a teenager. For one, I was a big fan of screaming guitars and Rock N Roll, while the neighbors all preferred accordions and polkas. When there was a dance at the clubhouse, it seemed that all they played were polkas and waltzes. There was no twisting, nor frugging, nor mashing of potatoes – and those were the only dances I knew at the time.

German American Settlement League Clubhouse

There was a bigger problem than the music selection at the dances, though. Most of the people were ancient, and there weren’t any girls my age there. I had a few male friends – Fritz, Freddie, Edgar, and Charlie, but there weren’t any Brunhildas, Annegrets, or Margaretes around. The only girls were Linda Zeltman and Carol Ann Schultz and they were only 12 years old. Lillian Lyons was the only eligible female in the entire neighborhood, but she was a college girl, so she was way out of my league. There were no potential girlfriends in the entire community, and that can be a real bummer for a teenager.

There were a few real Nazis among the resident there, but they weren’t really a problem. They came in two varieties – old Nazis or very old Nazis. They were the ones who had founded the place back in the 30’s. There weren’t very many of them left alive by the time our family moved in. The club’s rules stated that you had to be at least part German to be a member, but some of the newer families who lived there, like us, had only a few drops of German blood. My Dad had none. He was Irish and Swedish, but my parents got in because my Mom had a little German blood in her lineage. Years later, after he retired from the Telephone Company, my Dad, who had pounded the Nazis commanding a U.S. tank during World War II, actually became the President of the German-American Settlement League. The times they certainly were a changing.

The newer families moving in were more interested in a cheap summer getaway than preserving the proud tradition of Oom Pah bands. You had to be a member to buy a bungalow there, and you had to be part German to be a member, so the limited market kept bungalow prices way down. When I got married, Ginny and I bought our first house there, simply because the price was cheap, $12,000. That was less than half of what equivalent homes were going for just outside the community.

The German-American Settlement League came a long way from their Nazi beginnings, and, by the time my family moved there, it had become more of a retirement village. As the old guard died off, however, a few of us newcomers wondered aloud if, when it was time to sell our homes, the by-laws of the community might change and allow us to list the house on an open market, where it might sell for 2 or 3 times more than we would get selling it to a club member only.

Well, I read recently that it finally happened. Philip Kneer and his wife, Patricia Flynn-Kneer sued the G.A.S.L. for the right to list their home on the open market.

To win their case, all they had to do to was go to the newspapers with pictures of the community back in the 1930’s.

Camp Siegfried

An undated photo at Camp Siegfried in Yaphank shows the swastika and the salute, familiar Nazi symbols, on display. In a federal lawsuit on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, a Yaphank couple said that discriminatory covenant restrictions of the German-American Settlement League, which owns the former camp site, have prevented them from selling their home. Photo Credit: UPI

 

Once their lawyers played the Ole Nazi card, it was impossible to get public opinion behind keeping the by-laws of the all-German community intact. Besides, like I said, many of the club’s members also hoped to be able to sell their homes on the open market when the time came, so the G.A.S.L. settled the lawsuit quickly.

 

Noe, with the German American Settlement League opening their doors to people of all kinds, who will still be around on Long Island to dance the polkas and remind the world of Germany’s many proud traditions, like Oktoberfest, lederhosen, Bratwurst, and beer? The answer, I recently found out, is Nephew X. He’s a teacher on Long Island, and he actually wore this outfit to school one day. I think it was National Pretzel Day, or something like that.  At least I hope it was.

Mr. Germany

Peace and Love, and all of the above,

Earl

Storm Troopers

CyloStorm Trooper

It was Star Wars night at Clipper Magazine Stadium and the first 1,000 attendees got free bobblehead dolls of the Barnstormers Mascot, Cylo, dressed in Darth Vader attire. I got there an hour before game time, but that wasn’t early enough to be among the first 1,000. Almost 7,000 people showed up for the game.  So the night started with a little disappointment for me. Then the Lancaster starter gave up 5 runs in the first inning and the disappointment mounted.

One of the mottos of the Barnstormers, however, is “Keep Calm and Storm on.” They did just that. The Barnstormers fought back and scored one run in their half of the first inning. They held the Sugarland Skeeters scoreless in top of the second, and scored 2 more runs in the bottom of the inning. So, with the score now 5-3, hope was returning. The Skeeters were blanked in the third and the Stormers stormed on to tie the game in the bottom of the third.  The Force is strong in this team.

In between innings the Star Wars characters staged mock light saber duels on the field, and fireworks were also planned for after the game, so the thousands of children in attendance were kept entertained. While they were enjoying themselves with hot dogs and cotton candy, I was enjoying the seesaw game. The Skeeters retook the lead and the Stormers fought back. Then the pesky Skeeters would score again and the Barnstormers would respond with enough runs to keep the game close. Then the Stormers actually got their big break, when one of their guys struck out. The Skeeter catcher wasn’t able to catch the outside pitch and it went all the way to the backstop. The batter darted for first and got there well before the throw. Safe at first. The next batter took advantage of the opening and hit a two-run homer.

Both teams kept piling up runs but the Skeeters never relinquished the lead. Then in the 7th innings, another Stormer struck out on a pitch way outside that the Skeeter catcher again couldn’t reach, and he, too, reached first safely. I crossed my fingers hoping for lightning to strike twice. A homerun would tie the game. The next batter only singled, though.

The Skeeters still had an 11 to 9 lead, but the Stormers now had the tying runs on base and with two out centerfielder Beau Amaral stepped to the plate. He hit a looping fly ball down the left field line that the leftfielder raced after and dove for at the last second, but he came up empty, and the ball rolled all the way to the wall. The two men on base scored easily and as Beau chugged into third the coach frantically waved him home. The relay throw got to the plate before Beau, but not soon enough for the catcher to secure it, and a sliding Beau scored what eventually was the winning run as the ball bounced away from the hapless catcher.

I’ve seen inside-the-park homeruns in some of the huge Major-League parks, but I never before saw one in a small Minor-League park. The last time a Barnstormer hit an inside-the-park homerun, was 6 years ago, playing against the Ducks in Commack, Long Island.  It was a sight to behold, and even more exciting than the post-game fireworks. The force was definitely with the Lancaster Barnstormers that night, and they increased their league lead. It looks like they’re headed to another Championship season. Storm on, Stormers.20170805_215526.jpg

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl