Friday, July 31, 2009

Battlefield Detectives

So, Patty and I DID the 3-hour battlefield auto tour and it DID take us about six hours. Of course one of those hours could be divided into Patty’s cigarette breaks, leaving us with a total casualty count for the day of 20 Marlboros at roughly 3 minutes each. The WAS some excitement at the Virginia Monument, as Ken, not wanting to pee on hallowed ground under the gaze of Robert E. Lee, vaulted into the woods in a kind of reverse Pickett’s Charge (although MINE was successful!) It was hot, there was sweat and thirst, but in spite of anything I’ve written that MIGHT be amusing (perhaps), we were both moved by the scope of the battlefield and the sacrifice of both sides which in the end, comes down to the willingness of men to do what they think they must in spite of every shred of self-preservation that tells them not to. Patty remarked on the ultimate pity of the “gamesmanship” of war, and we talked about the (almost) two long years that remained of it, of the battles yet to be fought, ground to be attacked, held and given up as the armies maneuvered to end the war on very different terms. Mercifully, I confined my explanations to Patty’s specific questions, which is probably where we saved the extra hour-and-a-half the tour took with Erin! The tour Cds Bob lent us were REALLY good and what had seemed to Patty like an overwhelming number of facts from the museum tour gradually organized themselves into corps, armies, divisions, brigades and regiments, giving her locations and times to “place” the personal stories she liked so much. And now, (just for Bob), on the way out of town, Patty and I confirmed the presence of General John Reynolds on McPherson’s Ridge, ON HORSEBACK! Now, I hope that doesn’t lower me further on his “Pease-o-meter”, but little brothers get to be right SOME of the time! (There are actually three monuments… one equestrian, one standing, and one marking where he was shot, so we BOTH get to be right!) It was a grand day out, and the trips there and back really allowed us to re-connect with our old homefront.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Deadly Sofa

Well, Gettysburg has been quite an experience! The museum was wonderful and quite emotional for me. All those young men giving their lives... Today we are doing the battlefield tour and I'm looking forward to that. We stayed at a lovely place called the Brafferton Inn last night. Built in 17 something, and the sofa I slept on last night (my choice) probably came from that era also. Rocket scientists that we are, I guess we didn't realize that it only had one queen bed and a sitting room with a sofa. It was the dip in the middle that really got me. So we are sitting in the sitting room waiting for our breakfast, drinking coffee and just enjoying. My vacation has been wonderful and I'm looking forward to taking another one in about five or six years.
Love ya all,

Fourscore and 20 minutes ago…

Gettysburg! I love it here. History is around every corner and so is the kitsch. The good news is the history moves you and the kitsch is at least well-intentioned, so easier to take. An example: a statue of a rather animated and smiling Abe Lincoln doffing his hat and pulling a man who looks rather disturbingly like Perry Como (including the sweater) to consider… what? The house he stayed in while writing the Gettysburg Address. Otherwise, there’s a lot of the sentimental/political type of monuments erected in the 19th century. But you know, it all doesn’t matter. NOTHING can take away from the men, young and old who gave their lives for their cause here, whatever “side” they represented. The new Visitors’ Center is spectacular, from its museum of artifacts to its “History Channel” overview to its newly restored Cyclorama. Both Patty and I felt some tightness in our throats and tears in our eyes. It was truly a moving experience. Tomorrow we will do the 3-hour Battlefield Tour (although Erin and I took 7.5 hours to do it!)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm still screaming...

Patty speaks! (See below) I thought you might like to see the ride I refused to go on with her. It travels at about 85 mph and drops about a quarter mile. She's quite a man, my sister is. I, on the other hand managed EVERY ride in Kiddieland without so much as a whimper! Really, it was very touching to hear Patty's adventure... she sat with a 13-year-old girl and gave her the support she needed to get ON the ride in spite of her fear. Patty said that when they were done, the girl said that her mom would be proud of her! I'm really glad that Patty was there to do such a nice turn for such a nice young girl. I'd have done it myself of course, but I had to be sedated after riding the Jackrabbit and the Racer. Bob and Naomi had fun too. Do you know when we asked for a half-price "Senior Fun Day" ticket, they didn't even ASK to see our ID's!

Patty chimes in (at last!)

Well, Ken insists that I get on here and write something, so I guess I will. Let me start off by saying that Bob & Naomi have been fabulous hosts and we have had a really great time with them. Of course they gave me the best bedroom and fed me the best food, while poor Kenny has to sleep on a straw filled mat and eat what is left over after we are done eating.

Today we went to Kennywood which brought back such fond memories of my childhood. There were a few rides that no one would go on but me so I went ahead and rode them myself. Yesterday we went to Wilkinsburg and Monroeville and took quite a trip down memory lane. Grandma’s house was quite shocking—well, we’ll show you some pictures.

I will write more later, I promise. I am having a wonderful time thanks to my brothers and Naomi.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Seems like old times

We spent perhaps four hours wandering the run down streets of this one-time charming? No... Scenic? No. But, yes... comfortable and authentic small town. We spent several more in Monroeville. We saw homes (Montier St., Lindsay Road, Dahlia Drive and Harvard Road), schools (Turner, where Mom, Bob, Patty and I all attended, Horner, Wilkinsburg High, Evergreen, Monroeville Junior High and Gateway High) and "all the old familiar places". We visited Grandma and Grandpa Inghram's and Aunt Florence's graves; we tried for Uncle Norman's, but no luck. The grave was obviously the most touching experience, but the greatest shock was the condition of 1817 Montier, the house that lies at the heart of our Pittsburgh experiences. I'm sad to report that is has devolved into a crack house, complete with boarded-up windows and sprayed-on graffiti. It was an amazing transition from the house our grandparents cared for for so long and that we all experienced in so many different ways. Even nine years ago, it was run down a bit, but still functioning as SOMEBODY'S home. Endless cross-currents of competing, complementary and contradictory running commentaries from three different voices. Oh, wait, make that four... add Bob's equally endless parody of a GPS guidance system. Nevertheless, he DOES know the way and his instructions were flawless. We survived, in spite of my apparently high-speed and reckless driving, or so I've been told. A really, really fine day, and JUST what Patty hoped for. We even witnessed a high-speed police pursuit with approximately 15 cars racing with sirens blaring down Montier Street. Patty was VERY excited.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Something is better than nothing

We don’t want to disappoint anyone, but after the ride to BART, the BART to SFO, waiting AT SFO, the flight to Pittsburgh, retrieving the rental car, learning how to use the GPS, getting breakfast, arriving at Bob and Naomi’s, a FANTASTIC meal followed by a FANTASTIC dessert and a three hour trip to Bob’s Fantasyland Adventure (the Trolley Museum) (cool rides and warm, humid narration) (ask me about trollies… I KNOW now!) and planning the week in general and tomorrow in particular, WE’RE EXHAUSTED! So, so far, so good! Tomorrow, our childhood in schools, homes and nefarious adventures. Tuesday, KENNYWOOD! Wednesday/Thursday, GETTYBURG and FALLINGWATER. Friday, THE DUCK TOUR of downtown Pittsburgh and the three rivers. So, patience my friends… more reports to follow!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Feel the love!

Patty and I really hope that you will enjoy our posts in the manner that we HOPE you will enjoy them... the love we have in our hearts versus the snarky, sarcastic and ironic commentary that emerges from our posts. Have fun... I know WE will!

Butterflies and pretty things

Oh joy! Susan (Bob's daughter) has informed me that "Dad has been instructed to play nice." This is a great relief, particularly as it comes from her. In my limited opportunities to get to know her (through my new toy, Facebook) it is nevertheless clear that Susan is one of those very special women so numerous in our family, "she who must be obeyed." Well then, as long as he understands on which side of the bread his butter is, then all will be, as I titled this post, "butterflies and pretty things."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Anticipating Armageddon

OK, we all know that when matter and anti-matter collide... well it's not pretty. Where I am right in all matters, political, ethical and aesthetic, my dear mother's Number One Son takes the opposite point of view. So my goal in this imminent adventure is to provide Patty, my dear older/younger sister, and Mom's Number Two Daughter with a good time. Now many have tried and few have succeeded, but my approach (as her brother) will obviously be different. But it will start with my pledge to be a good boy and not to constantly point out the rightness of my ways and views, either to Patty or Bob (he IS Number One, and – oh my God, I wish I didn't have to say this! – I AM Number Two.) So, with a clear conscience and the best of wills, I am embarking on what I hope will be the best-ever contradiction to Thomas Wolfe. It should be filled with fun, excitement, and if anything goes wrong, heavy drinking on my part. I look forward to uncovering all my sister's dirty little secrets, shaking out a few skeletons of my own and sitting on some very severe furniture while Bob explains the ways of the world to us. Sound like fun? Maybe YOU should try it? But if you've only got one sibling, don't. After all, if things go south and I lose these two, I've still got Donna!