Habitat Home – Part One

Back in the day.(can you guess what my favorite TV Police show is? Just asking!).

In one of the years after I became a Master Gardener we had a Continuing Education Class given by Carol Heiser who at that time was Habitat Education Coordinator , DGIF, VA .She talked about turning our backyards into certified Wildlife Habitats Homes. There were strict guidelines and requirements to meet. After several weeks I forwarded my application and photos to Carol and in 2005 I was awarded Certificate #7 has having a Habitat Home. In 2007 I became a VA Master Naturalist (Cohort 1, HRC) . I decided it would be fun to use my training to identify and list all the flora and fauna living in my Habitat Home.

Habitat award (2)

My suburban home sits on a 0.31 acre lot in the Denbigh section of Newport News. The house is a two story Dutch Colonial with an attached two car garage, a 12ft x12 ft deck and a 10’x12’x10′ storage building.

We had the front yard landscaped with Gardenia bushes , dwarf Nindidas, dwarf English Holly and two female American Holly trees. Some years later I planted a Japanese Red Maple and a dwarf Crepe Myrtle in the front yard.

My beautiful picture
Gardenias, dwarf English Holly, Dwarf Nindidas, Spireas
My beautiful picture
another view of front
My beautiful picture
Japanese Red Maple & Dwarf Crepe Myrtle

The rest of the flora resides in the backyard. There are 14 canopy trees 40-60 ft, 18 Understory tree 10-30 ft, 33 shrubs, 8 vines. The largest trees are a Willow Oak, Red Oak, 2 Maples, 3 Sweet Gums, 7 Loblolly Pines,and a Magnolia.

My beautiful picture
Canopy Trees above house

Understory trees include Crepe Myrtle, Sourwood, Camellias, Pear, Rose of Sharon, a Snowball tree, a Golden tipped Cedar tree , Yaupon hollies and two female American Hollies

My beautiful picture
female American Holly ( bears berries in the fall)

.The shrubs are comprised of Azaleas, Privet, Nandida, Blueberry bushes, Fetter Bushes, Beauty Berry. The vines consist of Wisteria, Trumpet, Virgin’s Bower Vine, English Ivy, Clematis, Vinca, Dead Nettles,, and Cat Briar.

My beautiful picture
Virgin’s Bower Vine – Clematis virginiiensis

The flowers showcased (excluding the Fish pond and Butterfly Garden) are Roses, Spireas, Hostas, Iris, Day Lilies, Hydrangeas, Sweet Spice, Carolina All Spice, two patches of Milkweed., various annuals in containers , flower boxes and hanging baskets.

My beautiful picture
Carolina All Spice  –  Calycanthus floridus

In 2011 I found a pretty wild flower growing along the road to our airport and transplanted a few of them in the back yard. Over the years they taught me  an important word in my gardening lexicon- INVASIVE.

It is the Carolina Wild Petunia- Ruellia caroliniensis – a native wild flower.

wild petunia

Carolina Wild Petunia

In my ignorance I lucked out by planting a bed of Iris and Day lilies along the south side of our house and a large bed of Hostas on the north side. Both plantings took to their locations like a drunk drinking Ripple. I gave up on establishing grass in the backyard (too many trees) and grew moss instead. It solved the problem and I don’t have to mow it!

My beautiful picture
Fish pond
My beautiful picture
Butterfly Garden

There are several odd plants that enjoy the yard and over winter in the garage;

An Orchid Cactus, a Carrion Plant and a Pregnant Onion, they also come with stories.

My beautiful picture
Orchid Cactus

The Orchid Cactus

Epiphyllum

My Uncle Mike Nieznay immigrated to the USA from Poland in the early 30s. In order to expedite his citizenship he enlisted in the Army (he was stationed at Ft Story as a member of the Coast Artillery on December 7, 1941-( A day that did live in Infamy). He served in Europe until 1945 and then was sent to the Pacific area in preparation for the invasion of Japan. He was mustered out in Honolulu later that year. On his way stateside he “smuggled” a stem of the orchid cactus growing next to his barracks as a reminder of the time he spent in Hawaii. He and my Aunt Mary bought a country store in the Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania where I spent my boyhood days hunting , fishing and prowling the woods. As Paul Harvey said, “The rest is history”. I always admired the gorgeous flowers of the plant and took some home to Bethlehem , Pa. When I settled here in 1979 I brought a scion of the plant to Newport News. The final part of the story is that Uncle Mike always wanted to take Aunt Mary to visit Hawaii but his heart gave out and I promised myself I would take Miss Ellie there in honor of the two most beautiful people I ever knew. In 2000 we made it to Honolulu and on an excursion to the Punch Bowl National Cemetery we found the Orchid Cactus blooming. We bowed our heads and said a prayer to my Uncle Mike and Aunt Mary.

 

 

My beautiful picture
Carrion Flower

Stapelia hirsuta

I bought the Carrion Plant at a yard sale in Aurora , Colorado in the late 70s and it moved with us to Newport News in 1979. It winters over in our garage until May and spends it’s summer on the deck. It is a native to the deserts of South Africa. It uses flies and carrion beetles as pollinators by attracting them to the large hairy starfish shaped flower that exudes the smell of rotten meat. It blooms during the summer and fall. Great conversation piece but guests seem to lose their appetites. Interestingly this plant is in the milkweed Family.

 

pregnant onion

Pregnant Onion

Ornithogalum caudatum

The Pregnant Onion is not an onion and can not be eaten. It’s home are the deserts of South Africa.

It reproduces both sexually via a flower stalk and seeds and asexually by budding off complete “baby” plants that burst through the skin of the “pregnant” mother plant. This occurs all year long. The flower stalk usually forms in late summer. This plant is virtually indestructible. Miss Ellie admits to the fact she hasn’t met a plant she can not kill except for the Onion. I bought the plant ( they are all mothers) in 1985 at a local plant sale. I filled numerous containers with the her offspring to give to my friends. I finally couldn’t keep up with her progeny ( and also ran out of friends to give the babies away as gifts)

Because of the length of the article & photos I will divide it into four parts: Flora, Birds, Mammals, Amphibians & Reptiles.

Oh about the TV Police show- It is Blue Bloods on CBS

Ramblin Clyde

Another OMG Bird Encounter

Sharp-Shinned-Hawk

Sharp Shinned Hawk – Google

Miss Ellie’s encounter with a new OMG Bird

Yesterday warm temperatures induced me to open my garage door to give sunlight to my sub-tropical plants that are stored there for over wintering. A couple of hours later Miss Ellie opened the door to the garage from the Family Room to get something out of the freezer. She shrieked and slammed the door and screamed “ There is a huge bird in the garage “!

I carefully opened the door and an adult Sharp Shinned Hawk flew over my head. I grabbed my butterfly net to make an attempt to capture it. Fortunately it swooped down and flew out the opened garage door. I then noticed a big pile of feathers on the floor. I recognized them as Dove feathers. It appeared the hawk had chased the dove into the garage. I swept the feathers up but didn’t find the dove. I was afraid it was wounded and had crawled into my plants. When I looked over to my work bench near the door I discovered the the dove’s carcass in two sections, plucked clean and partially eaten. I took a couple of photos and disposed the body parts on my composite pile.

My beautiful picture
Plucked Dove breast & leg parts
My beautiful picture
As the song says,”The hip bone is connected to the leg bone”

I checked the yard and found the Sharpie had been a busy bird. There was a pile of Tufted Titmouse feathers under one of my feeders. I took another photo and showed them to Miss Ellie.

My beautiful picture

Tit Mouse feathers

Tufted Tit Mouse

Tufted Tit Mouse – Google

She wanted to know if I could shoot the predator when it came back. I explained they are protected and I would end up in jail for shooting it plus a big fine and also arrested for discharging a firearm in the city. She uttered something about the damned government and that we can shoot one another but not OMG birds and snakes.

Needless to say she probably will never become a “Birder” nor a herpotologist .

Ramblin Clyde

The Northern Forests Call” Come To Me”

Hello Gentle Readers,

Habitat Home’s winter birds have packed their little satchels and are preparing to leave for their northern nesting grounds.

They are singing “Canada, My Canada”. The White Throated Sparrows are singing alto, the Juncos are singing soprano, the Butter Buts are chiming in as tenors and the local Sap Sucker is singing bass.

White Throated Sparrow

White Throated Sparrow – Google

Junco

Junco – Google

My beautiful picture
Butter Butt (Yellow Rumped Warbler) on Feeder log

yellow-rumped-warbler

Yellow Rumped Warbler- Google

My beautiful picture
Sap Sucker Woodpecker on Peanut butter log feeder

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpCt8-vBgrM

They are filling up with crunchy peanut butter from the log feeder. I had a count of 16 Butter Butts (Yellow Rumped Warblers) during the GBBC on the log at one time.

 

Good bye little ones, I shall miss all of you.

 

I also wanted to share this story with you. I have a very good Lion friend who was my dentist and recently retired. I told him I wish he would  had continued for a few more years. He said he didn’t miss the long hours of work but he and his wife missed their “Blue Birds”. He saw my confusion and related this story. He had a friend who was an outstanding dentist and was suffering from health problems. He called his staff together and told them his physician  told him he had to stop working. He said, “I guess I will have to give up my practice”. His staff asked him to cut his schedule to 4 days a week. They said they would divide their patients into Crows and Bluebirds. They explained the Crows were the difficult patients to work with  but the Bluebirds were a delight to work with. So they told their patients the Dentist had to cut back on hours and notified the Crows that because of the boss’s health problems they would have to find another dentist. They kept the Bluebirds and life was good. Unfortunately the good Bluebirds brought other Bluebirds and soon he was as busy as he been, so he sold his practice and fully retired.

May your life be filled with Bluebirds

Ramblin Clyde

 

A Dubious Discourse about Arachnids

My beautiful picture

A giant Wood Orb Web Spider  — Nuctenea

 I found this video while I was studying Spiderology with a good friend and mentor  Dr A. from Hampton University.

Her only comment was that Grad Students have entirely too much time on their hands !

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK-g8YKyOkk

Snippets From Spinnerets

Exerts from An Annual Christmas Poem and  Slugs,Spider Tales,and a Fish Called Bitterling from my “A Born Naturalist ” series.

Wolf Spiders:My beautiful picture

Shelob with her babies

Lobo and Shelob have their eggs in a silken globe.

When their young come in hatches

The toys will  surely  come in batches

 Black Widow Spider:

Black Widow is accused of eating her mates

But her silken letter simply states:

To be guilty of Husbandcide is a bunch of lies”

And proceeds to ask for Blue Bottle Flies.

critters-162

The following exert is by Ms Kelsey Abbott, MS, Marine Biology, it is taken from her blog: https://maukamakai.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/word- of- the- day-apopohallation/

The term apopolallation seems to refer to slugs specifically, but they’re not the only animals to deliberately amputate the male sexual organs. Orb-web Spiders (Nephilengys malabarensis) also dabble in a little Bobbitism-and in their case, it is a life saving maneuver.

Orb Web Spider - Nephilengys malabarensis

Orb Web Spider – Nephilengys malabarensis

Male Orb-web spiders, much like most males in the animal kingdom, want to produce as many offspring as possible. To do this, the male will have to mate with a female ord-web spider – and that’s not as pleasant as it sounds (for the male). The mating is short and when the female wants to end the copulatory event, she will start to eat her mate. BUT if the male detaches himself from his palp( the spider equivalent of a penis), he can dash out of the female’s reach while his palp remains in his mate’s genital opening. By turning himself into an enuch, the dude not only saves himself, but maximizes his paternity.

You’d think that once he ditched his palp the mating would be over, but it’s not. The palp continues depositing sperm while he is running away. In fact this process (known as remote copulation)results in greater sperm transfer and therefore greater offspring production.

Eunuch-izing himself gives the male some other advantages as well. The abandoned palp plugs the female’s genital opening, thus discouraging other males from mating and minimizing sperm competition.The female can remove the palp,however, making this roadblock technique only about 75% successful. Of course to attempt to mate with the female, an intact male would need to get to her- and with an eunuch guarding her web (from a safe distance), this is difficult task. In lopping off his palp the wimpy( but crafty) male transforms himself into an aggressive equivalent of the “Hulk” who attacks any male who dares step into his Lady’s web.He may be palp-less but he is alive and those babies will be all his.

Another Orb Spider- Golden Garden Spider – Argiope aurantia sitting on its stabilimentum

golden-garden-spider

clyde & spider

Yours in Spiderology,

Dubious Ramblin Clyde

Candle Light Wedding February 1961

willow park home

2016 Willow Park Road – After Flash Flood of 2006

In the winter of 1961 two young Innocents were married. Our wedding took place at a Candle Light service at 7 pm at Trinity E&R Church in Freemansbug with the Reverend Marshall Riu officiating. The weather was frightful with a blinding snowstorm dumping at least 12 inches of snow on the roads.

One of my best friends Joseph Posh had a construction company and had one of his trucks bulldoze the road from my family’s home on Willow Park Road to the church and cleaned out parking spaces for the guests. Miss Ellie arrived in a new pink Cadillac ( courtesy of Joe’s mother). The Applegate Gang were my Groomsmen, Ushers , my brother Floyd was Best Man.

The wedding went off without further ado and we spent our honeymoon night at a local Holiday Inn. Ellie & I worked the night shift at St Luke’s Hospital where we met. About 2 am the hotel phone rang and the one of the orderly’s , another Moravian College student ( Al Applegate one of the patrons of the infamous Applegate Gang) asked me what was I doing. Unbeknownst to me the hospital operator had put the conversation on the nursing stations ( 9 floors) intercoms. I told him in very graphic terms what I was doing. We never quite lived down our night of infamy.

Wedding Photos

Weddind photo 1

From left to right

Lucille Snyder (Mrs Joseph Posh)

Barbara Stralo (Mrs Floyd Marsteller)

Maid of Honor – Shirley Miller (Mrs Michael Kutchi) – deceased

Eleanor & Clyde

Flower Girl – Bonnie Marsteller ( Mrs Daniel Pancoast)

Best Man – Floyd Marsteller

Thomas Dobyan

Joseph Venanzi – deceased

Wedding Photo 2

Left to right

Lucille Snyder, Barbara Stralo, Eleanor, Shirley Miller, Bonnie Marsteller

 

 

Wedding Photo 3

From Left to right

Mother – In – Law     Catherine Garze  – deceased

Eleanor & Clyde

Mother Vera Marsteller – deceased

Father Floyd Marsteller deceased

 

How did we get to this point. I was working my way through Moravian College on a work scholarship and Miss Ellie was a Graduate Nurse on the pediatric floor-she hadn’t taken her State Boards at that time. I meet her in October , we had our first date for our Home Coming game in November, I proposed to her in December and we were married in February.

We spent a three day Honeymoon in New York as I had final exams the following week.

We flew out of ABE Airport on Sunday but couldn’t afford a plane ride back so we came home Tuesday on a Grey Hound bus .

When we arrived home on Tuesday night I attempted to carry Ellie over the threshold of my parent’s home. I slipped on the snow and fell with her in my arms. So I guess you could say I  fell for her in a big way.

ellie(garze) & clyde marsteller 1961
ellie(garze) & clyde marsteller 1961

With God’s blessings the years have been good to us. At church this morning our Episcopal Priest asked us if we had any advice to give our Parish Family for such a long and loving marriage. I said,” Never go to bed mad at each other” and Ellie said teach your husband to answer “Yes Dear”!.

Clyde&Ellie-3

 

One last anecdote . My Blessed Father told me at the celebration of their 50th Anniversary that when a man celebrates 50 yrs of marriage , you congratulate the husband & wife but in ensuing anniversaries you congratulate the husband and give condolences to the wife.

Clyde

A Habitat Home Happening – A visit from an OMG Bird

 

My beautiful picture
Habitat Home

The other day I had to throw away two sandwich sized slices of ham that had turned rancid. I decided to throw them on Habitat Home’s compost pile in the corner of the yard thinking either our resident raccoon or opossum would clean them up during the night.  happened to glance up and saw one of our Windsor Great Park turkey vultures soaring overhead about a 100 feet up.

My beautiful picture

Vulture soaring overhead

When I came inside, Miss Ellie told me to sit down at the kitchen table for a light lunch.  As we sat down Miss Ellie screamed, “OMG  what is that thing”? I looked up and saw a huge bird with the largest wing span I had ever seen. It flew past the kitchen window and crash landed in a Sweet Gun growing next to the compost pile. It was the turkey vulture! I grabbed my camera and ran outside to get a picture. The OMG bird saw me and took off soaring over my neighbor’s house across the alley. He never returned and the ham slices disappeared during the night.

Gaia’s clean up crews are awesome.

My beautiful picture

Ham Slices on compost pile

My beautiful picture

Sweet Gum next to compost pile

My beautiful picture

Turkey Vulture in Sweet Gum

My beautiful picture

Up, Up and Away

Ramblin Clyde

The Silence Of The Bugs

( a bit of a read but worth it)

This article about the disappearance of large numbers of insects brings to mind the mass migrations I have personally experienced. The first occurred in the fifties when I was around 12 years old. We had the appearance of what my Dad identified as 17 Year Locusts. I now know of course that they were Periodical 17 Year Cicadas. It was a treat to me because when I went fishing along the old Lehigh Canal next to the Lehigh River I didn’t have to dig worms or seine caddis larva. I just pulled the critters off the shrubbery as I fished and used them as bait. I could “roll cast” them and as they landed on the surface of the canal they bobbed around beating their wings. They were irresistible to the resident Large Mouth Bass, large Sunfish and Pickerel. Dad said I wouldn’t see them again until I was finished with High School. I really didn’t believe him. Of course come 1957 there they were hanging all over the landscape. Around our summer home Tawalfen their “singing” was so loud you had to shout to anyone you wanted to talk to. During my military career I didn’t come across them until I retired here in Tidewater. My next experience with them was in 2012 when the subset of Cicadas – the 13 Year Cicadas made their appearance. I may see them one more time if I am lucky.

17 year cicadia

17 year Cicada –  Magicicada periodical cicada

I was fortunate(?) to see four other mass insect explosions. Three in San Antonio , Texas and one in Georgia. The first of the Texas insects was a mass migration of Snout Nose Butterflies that occurred in September of the 1964. The news reported that a mass of the butterflies extended along a front from San Antonio to Floresville a distance of 30 miles and estimated to be at least 12 miles in depth were migrating. Miss Ellie and I drove along Rte 181 and drove into a living blizzard. It was estimated that there were several million butterflies on the move. Our car quickly overheated and we could not see out the windows. I stopped and pulled handfuls of butterflies from the car radiator . After turning around we crept slowly home absolutely awed by our experience.

Snout Butterfly

Libytheana carinenta

Snout Nose Butterfly

The second experience with a living mass of insects happened in San Antonio in late 1967. There was an insect explosion of Palmetto Beetles in the San Antonio area. They look like giant cockroaches but DNA test have recently showed they are not related to roaches. The sides of the buildings down town were covered with them and the loop around the city was actually shut down because of accidents and car sliding into each other and guardrails. Miss Ellie locked herself in our apartment and refused to go outside until the “bugs” left.

Palmetto-bug Eurycotis floridana
Palmetto-bug Eurycotis floridana

The third episode happened outside of San Antonio along the Guadeloupe River at a little fishing camp/marina. I had the good fortune to make the acquittance of a South Carolina fisherman George Cole serving in the Army with me. He suggested that we go cat fishing at a nearby fishing camp at night under the lights of the boat dock. Once we got there he produced a number of nylon baggies ( cut from nylon stockings). He pointed to the dock lights which were covered with masses of Mayflies. He and I stuffed handfuls of the insects into the nylon “baggies”, mashed up the insects and baited our fishing lines with them. The lines were weighed with lead sinkers and the baits settled on the bottom of the river . It didn’t take long before we were hooked into nice catfish up to 3 to 6 lbs in weight. We filleted them at the dock and had a great fish fry the next day with all the “fixings”). George said the mashed up mayflies were catfish “magnets” but you had to catch the May Flies at the peak of their “hatch”. How he figured out when that was happening was a secret I never did find out.

mayfly

May Fly – Leptophlebia marginata

The fourth incident of an overwhelming mass of insects occurred in the summer of 1972. I had taken a two week vacation and intended to drive from Ft Myer, Va to Key Largo ,go across “Alley Gator Alley to the west coast and drive up to Tampa and cross over to visit Disney World ( newly opened). We would stop at Daytona and head back home.

Starting out on the trip I wanted to stop along the way down to see the Okefenokee Swamp at Waycross, Georgia. Upon entering Georgia we hit an explosion of Love Bugs that caused us to stop at every gas station along the way and get the radiator and windows washed off. Baby Tara ( 22 mos old) thought the bugs were the greatest treat ever. Miss Ellie had other thoughts.

Love Bugs

Love Bugs –  Plecia nearctica

The Silence Of The Bugs article hits home and really brings to attention to what we are doing to our environment.

Ramblin Clyde

Memories Of Willow Park Movies Under The Stars

willow park home

# 2061 Willow Park Road – Family Home

I have been honored to be allowed to be part of the Memories Of Willow Park Pool in Bethlehem Township group started by Max Fabry. They number 781 members who are either my contemporaries (small number) or our children or grandchildren (very large number). I am enjoying traveling back in time ( who says there isn’t time travel) and adding my contribution to their mix.

Here is my latest article I call Memories of Willow Park Movies Under The Stars

The other day as I was listening to my favorite Oldies Radio Station on Sirius they played “ My Baby Loves A Western Movie” and I started to think about the “Cowboy Movies” we watched as kids at Willow Park movie night at their outdoor movies on weekends.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxontg0irEQ            My Baby loves A Western Movie

I wonder how they made that ricochet sound?

I can picture in my mind’s eye walking with my best Buds down to the Park along Willow Park Road along the back of the pool’s dressing buildings. You turned into the front entrance and went past the ticket gate and past the Refreshment building. You crossed the Nancy Run over a small foot bridge and then over the miniature railroad train tracks. You would pass by sculpted ground Cedars and Cedar trees. Their heavy perfume will always memories of the Park. I often wondered why Mr Shelbo didn’t name the park Cedar Park? You walk around the Carousel and went pass the Penny Arcade. There were steps next to it that you could walk up to the top of a small hill that ran the length of the park. As you approached a large Black Willow you came to the entrance of the outdoor movie theater . Kids were charged 10 cents to get in, I think they charged adults a quarter. The theater consisted of two rows of benches (no backs) facing a large movie screen. I am not sure if you could buy any refreshments there.

Now come along with me “Those thrilling days of Yesteryear”.  I have taken advantage of You Tube’s old time clips that are in the Public Domain .
I guess the most iconic Cowboy Hero has to be the “Lone Ranger”, I will forever think of him every time I hear the William Tell Overture .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpb0d61yEv4 The Lone Ranger

Clayton Moore played the title role accompanied by his faithful companion Tonto played by Jay Silverheels ( an actual native Mohawk American Indian). Their horses names were Silver and Scout.

Together they fought for justice, defeated the bad guys and rode away usually leaving a silver bullet and calling out Hi Yo Silver !  Another favorite was Roy Rogers and his wife Dale Evans. They were accompanied by their side kicks either Pat Brady or Gabby Hayes and the singing group “Sons of the Pioneers”. Roy was played by Leonard Slye and was billed as the King of the Cowboys. His golden palomino horse was named Trigger. Roy’s theme songs were Happy Trails and Tumbling Tumble Weeds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgw_yprN_-wHappy trails to You

https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=_UiSMyyj-Ac Tumbling Weeds

Here is a wonderful clip of Roy & Trigger:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLoYFvbR0XY

A third favorite of mine was Hop-A-Long Cassidy played by William Boyd . His horse was named Topper. Gabby Hayes also played his sidekick. I think Hoppy was the only “Good Guy” to wear black to include a Tall Black cowboy hat. With his silver hair he was an awesome figure.

Rounding out my top four was Gene Autry the “Singing Cowboy”. He starred with his horse “Champion” and had either sidekicks Pat Buttram or our old favorite Gabby Hayes along with him. Of course he made ‘ Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” one of the most popular Christmas songs ever written. As owner of the Los Angles Angels baseball team he often referred to their home Angel Stadium as the “House that Rudolph built”.His theme song was “Back In The Saddle Again”.

This is also a montage of my heroes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSqcxFGFVas Back In The saddle Again

Some of other cowboy actors I remember seeing on Willow Park’s silver screen were:  Rocky Lane astride “Black Jack”

Tex Ritter

The Cisco Kid & Pancho

Bob Steele

Hoot Gibson

Tom Mix

Lash Le Rue- Trivia- He was so proficient with his bull whip that in later years he was hired to teach Harrison Ford to use one for his role as Indiana Jones.  Last but not least another favorite was Buster Crabbe who also starred as Tarzan , Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. He was a two time Olympic swimming champion.

I’m sure I missed a bunch but at 80 years old I can plead memory loss. If I erred in my reminiscing please correct me or chalk it up to Poetic License ( the Applegate Gang actually sent me one after reading the Big Fizzle).

Ramblin Clyde

Memories of Willow Park Movies Under The Stars

willow park home

2061 Willow Park Road

I have been honored to be allowed to be part of the Memories Of Willow Park Pool in Bethlehem Township group started by MAx Fabry.

They number 781 members who are either my contemporaries (small number) or our children or grandchildren (very large number). I am enjoying traveling back in time (who says there isn’t time travel) and adding my contribution to their mix.

Here is my latest article I call Memories of Willow Park Movies Under The Stars

The other day as I was listening to my favorite Oldies Radio Station on Sirius they played “ My Baby Loves A Western Movie” and I started to think about the “Cowboy Movies” we watched as kids at Willow Park movie night at their outdoor movies on weekends.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxontg0irEQ         My Baby loves A Western Movie

I wonder how they made that ricochet sound?

I can picture in my mind’s eye walking with my best Buds down to the Park along Willow Park Road along the back of the pool’s dressing buildings. You turned into the front entrance and went past the ticket gate and past the Refreshment building. Then you crossed the Nancy Run over a small foot bridge and  over the miniature railroad train tracks. You would pass by sculpted ground Cedars and Cedar trees. Their heavy perfume will always memories of the Park. I often wondered why Mr Shelbo didn’t name the park Cedar Park? You walk around the Carousel and went pass the Penny Arcade. There were steps next to it that you could walk up to the top pf a small hill that ran the length of the park. As you approached a large Black Willow you came to the entrance of the outdoor movie theater . Kids were charged 10 cents to get in, I think they charged adults a quarter. The theater consisted of two rows of benches (no backs) facing a large movie screen. I am not sure if you could any refreshments there.

Now come along with me “Those thrilling days of Yesteryear”.

I have taken advantage of You Tube’s old time clips that are in the Public Domain .

I guess the most iconic Cowboy Hero has to be the “Lone Ranger”, I will forever think of him every time I hear the William Tell Overture .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpb0d61yEv4               The Lone Ranger

Clayton Moore played the title role accompanied by his faithful companion Tonto played by Jay Silverheels ( an actual native Mohawk American Indian). Their horses names were Silver and Scout.

Together they fought for justice, defeated the bad guys and rode away usually leaving a silver bullet and calling out Hi Yo Silver !

Another favorite was Roy Rogers and his wife Dale Evans. They were accompanied by their side kicks either Pat Brady or Gabby Hayes and the singing group “Sons of the Pioneers”. Roy was played by Leonard Slye and was billed as the King of the Cowboys. His golden palomino horse was named Trigger. Roy’s theme songs were Happy Trails and Tumbling Tumble Weeds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgw_yprN_-w                     Happy trails to You

https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=_UiSMyyj-Ac Tumbling Weeds

Here is a wonderful clip of Roy & Trigger:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLoYFvbR0XY

A third favorite of mine was Hop-A-Long Cassidy played by William Boyd . His horse was named Topper. Gabby Hayes also played his sidekick. I think Hoppy was the only “Good Guy” to wear black to include a Tall Black cowboy hat. With his silver hair he was an awesome figure.

Rounding out my top four was Gene Autry the “Singing Cowboy”. He starred with his horse “Champion” and had either sidekicks Pat Buttram or our old favorite Gabby Hayes along with him.

Of course he made ‘ Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” one of the most popular Christmas songs ever written. As owner of the Los Angles Angels baseball team he often referred to their home Angel Stadium as the “House that Rudolph built”.His theme song was “Back In The Saddle Again”.

This is also a montage of my heroes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSqcxFGFVas              Back In The saddle Again

Some of other cowboy actors I remember seeing on Willow Park’s silver screen were:

Rocky Lane astride “Black Jack”

Tex Ritter

The Cisco Kid & Pancho

Bob Steele

Hoot Gibson

Tom Mix

Lash Le Rue- Trivia- He was so proficient with his bull whip that in later years he was hired to teach Harrison Ford to use one for his role as Indiana Jones.

Last but not least another favorite was Buster Crabbe who also starred as Tarzan , Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. He was a two time Olympic swimming champion.

I’m sure I missed a bunch but at 80 years old I can plead memory loss. If I erred in my reminiscing please correct me or chalk it up to Poetic License ( the Applegate Gang actually sent me one after reading the Big Fizzle).

Ramblin Clyde

 

 

An Interesting Week at Habitat Home

My beautiful picture
Habitat Home

This week at Habitat Home has been interesting. About two years ago I had small iris looking plants “volunteer” in the Butterfly Garden. The leaves were 6-8 inches long and tended to lean horizontally. The plant had roots, no rhizomes. This year they finally bloomed.

My beautiful picture

The flower stalk is about 6-8 inches tall with multiple blooms each about the size of a 50 cent piece. The flower is flat and looks like a Beardless Iris.

My Heritage flower bush, a Carolina All Spice is in full bloom. The flowers look like they have been carved from wood. The Carolina Allspice is a “Volunteer” from my neighbor’s yard. He brought back a scion from his grandmother’s farm in North Carolina about 15 years ago. At the time his Granny was 92 years old and the shrub was growing at the homestead before she was born. It showed up on my side of the fence about 10 years ago. It has been remarkably well behaved and has stayed in an area about 10 feet by 3 feet next to the fence. The first colonizer is 6 foot tall and flowers in May. It is listed as a native Heritage plant.

My beautiful picture

Here is a story of mine that has a nice article of the flower:

https://clydeccedm.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/

Two days ago I saw a pair of Brown Thrashers (Toxastoma rufum) having a tug of war with something long and wormy looking they uncovered from the leaf mold. Later I walked out and discovered it was a Smooth Earth Snake (Virginia valeriae).

My beautiful picture
Smooth Earth Snake

One of our Green Tree frogs (Hyla cinerea) on the front storm door. In the AM it is comatose and I can pick it up and put it in the Gardenia bush for safe keeping.

My beautiful picture
Green Tree Frog on Gardenia bush

I pruned my Azaleas last week and I was sitting on the lawn glider with the branches in my hands. It must have had a camouflage effect because a male Brown headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) flew down at my feet and proceded to put on a mating display. He bobbed his head, puffed up his head and neck feather , held his wings straight out and gave out a loud squeaky gargle and a loud burp. He looked like a Polynesian Bird of Paradise refugee. The female was over by the seed feeder. He repeated his display several time and then flew over to her and continued his dance. Finally he chased her in the red oak tree and I lost sight of them. I wished him success.

My beautiful picture
Male Brown headed Cowbird
My beautiful picture
female brown headed cowbird by feeder

The Juncos( Junco hymalis) left town two weeks ago, last week the White Throated Sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis) left singing “North to Alsaka”. My Butter Butts (Dendroica coronata) have dwindled from a dozen to four diehards . I think they have become addicted to the suet/peanut butter log.

 

 

My beautiful picture

Robins are also addicted and have learned to hover.

My beautiful picture

 

I just had a Catbird join them (Dumetella carolinenus). He is early this year. Another early bird for Habitat Home is a Ruby Throated Hummingbird ( Archilochus colubris) that came into the feeder. They usually don’t show up here until early June.

Another rare visitor for us just showed up , a female Rufus sided Towhee (Piplo erytho phtalmus) .

My beautiful picture
Female Rufus Sided Towhee

My Niger stocking also has been busy with several Gold Finches(Carduelis tristis) feeding. The males have turned a bright yellow and black color.

Our House Wren has showed up and is busy building nests in three of the bird houses. The female will choose the one she wants. Watch out guys, this could set a bad precedence!

I had the first buttetfly of the season visit- a Cloudless Sulfur ( Phoebis sennae). Evidently they migrate like the Monarch. Here is a great website about the them:

http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/bfly/bfly2/cloudless_sulphur.htm

The male Carpenter Bees have just emergered (Xylocopa virginica). The males fight for territory and come close to people. Remember the males are harmless as they do not have stingers. You can impress your Grand children by hand capturing one. Just remember the females have a painful sting and who knows if there is a early lady among the crowd?

Ramblin Clyde

Memories

Featured photo: Lehigh Valley by Bonnie  Pancoast

Memories are part of our lives and the lives of our families. The earliest Marsteller Family memories start in the 17th century. Our Great Grandfather Nicholas and Great Grandmother Elizabeth ( 5 times removed) were born in Pfungstadt and Darmstadt, Hesse Germany . They were married on January 17, 1685. Their  son Johan Georg married Anna Margretha Erlebach. Because of the religious upheavals at that time Johan’s family immigrated to Pennsylvania arriving in Philadelphia in 1727. They and their families settled in the new frontier of Lancaster, Blue Church in Upper Saucon Township (near the Moravian settlement of Bethlehem) and the wilds of the Poconos in the town of Stroudsburg. Our Great Grandfather (3x)  Frederick Wilhelm (William) met and married Mary Magdalena Shafer and settled in Stroudsburg  Their son Great Grandfather Simpson Marsteller  met and married  Great Grandmother Julia (Weiss) there in 1855. They left and traveled along the Blue Mountains to the Broadheadville area .He bought a goodly parcel of property and commenced to farm it. Along with farming he and Julia raised the largest family in our history . They sired 21 children to include three sets of twins of which my Grandfather Calvin Floyd was in the last set. Great Grandmother Julia died giving birth to her last child on November 12, 1882 . Simpson died on November 21, 1882. He was 50 years old and they had been married for 27 years.

1832 1882 Simpson Marsteller

Several interesting memories about Great Grandfather Simpson survived . He was known to enjoy his liquor and on Saturday night it was the responsibility of the sons and cousins to go to Broadheadsville to bring him home in the farm wagon. My Grandfather Calvin being one of the youngest sons had to make sure he grabbed Simpson’s skinning knife from the old man’s boot as he was usually reluctant to leave his merry making.

As Simpson grew old and lost his teeth he had the boys chew his meat as he would not spend money to buy false teeth. He also used a magnifying glass to read his bible and local papers as he deemed eyeglasses an unnecessary expense.

My Grand Uncle Franklin Marsteller was one of Grandfather Calvin older brothers. He was very wealthy and one time owned both Saylor’s Lake and Lake Mineola. He was a very foreboding man who walked with a cane and wore a goatee and mustache. He sold Saylor’s Lake to a Judge from Bethlehem for several thousand dollars saying, ” I don’t believe people will ever pay to sit and look at water”! It is now a multi- million dollar resort development area.

Grand Dad & Uncle Frank

Grandfather Calvin Marsteller & Granduncle Franklin by our home at Willow Park Rd, Pa.

The only memory of Grandfather Calvin that my father passed on was was that Grandfather was a voracious reader. When he got hold of a new book he would read the first chapter, a middle chapter and the last chapter, if it held his attention he would then read the entire volume.

Earliest Memory – 1940- 2 years old

clyde at Asbury Park- 1940

Dad & Clyde at Asbury Park Beach

Playing on the beach at Asbury Park, New Jersey and watching the surf wash up the beach and covering my feet. It scared me to bad I refused to the beach again.

 

Dad & Clyde Asbury-1941

memory-1940- 2 yrs old

I remember riding a trolley with me Grandfather Joe Prem and standing in front of a 5 & 10 store at the corner of 3rd and New Streets on the South side of Bethlehem. There was a hot dog vendor at the corner hawking his “dogs” for 5 cents. I remember holding Grand Pop’s hand and yelling Hot Dogs 5 cents. I was two at the time.

Grandfather Joe Prem & Clyde  3rd St Miller Heights, Bethlehem township

Grandpop Prem & Clyde- 1941

 

 

Memory- 1943 -5 years old

We were on a Family vacation in spring of 1943 at Grand Uncle Clayton Marsteller’s farm near Brodheadsville . Brother Floyd was 2 years old. I remember sleeping in a large feather tick and listening to the sound of bees. There was a large hive in the bedroom wall . It was later removed by a local and many quarts of honey were recovered.

I saw my first skunk cabbages and Jack-In-The Pulpits along the lane where a small creek ran into a swampy area. They remain my favorite wildflowers.

The creek sprang from a spring in front of the house. Grand Uncle Clayton had built a Spring House over it and stored the milk from his cows in large containers in its cold waters. I went along with him to get a milk bucket of fresh milk and he showed me a large native Brook Trout that lived the the water there.

Later I stole down to Spring House and with a stick I chased the trout around. Of course I knocked one of the milk containers over and turned the water white. I started to cry. The family ran down to see why I was bawling. I expected to be punished but Clayton’s wife- Aunt Carrie picked me up and said the “Junge” was just being a little boy.

I think my passion for fishing started that day.

Memory -1950 – 12 years old

Grand uncle Clayton died on my 12th birthday April 12, 1950. He was 71. ( Note: Grandfather Calvin had passed away on April 9, 1950 , he was 72). The families met at the farm house for a combined wake and spent the day with Grand Aunt Carrie. I was allowed to take my fishing pole along and after the dinner meal I was given permission to fish the little creek that was fed by the Spring House. I spent a couple of hours catching my limit of the most beautiful native brook trout I had ever seen. They were not very large averaging about 7-8 inches long . I felt like I had wandered into a magical place, I will never forget the experience.

War years memories 1941 – 1945

Aunts,Mom, Dad, me - 1939

Aunt Mary, Dad & Clyde, Mother, Aunt Helen Miller Heights, Pa.

I was a WWII baby as I was three years old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Some of the memories of those times include having to use coupons on special week days to buy food. Butter was non existent and we used an oleo margarine instead. It came in a plastic packet and had a button containing yellow food coloring. You broke the button and kneaded the packet until it looked like butter.

We picked milkweed pods for the War effort . We were told the “government” used them to stuff life jackets . Later on we also collected lighting bugs that were used to make “cold light” sticks for the military.

Later on during the war we had to practice air raid drills and at night you had to cover your windows with blankets so no light showed. There were Wardens who checked the homes at night and told you if any light was shining out. There were very few cars on the roads  and an airplane was a thing on wonder. As the war progressed they would bring captured enemy equipment into town on railroad cars to boost morale and sell Liberty Bonds. I remember Floyd and I seeing a miniature sub with life like mannikins of Japanese sailors in uniform . They were very short and yellow colored and all had “buck teeth”. Brother and I also saw a captured German tank. It was very scary. Little did we know that our war was only 20 years in our future in a place called Viet Nam!

Sgts Clyde & Floyd of the Silent Generation with our Uncles -Sgts Mike Nieznay and Leonard Sadowski of the Greatest Generation

Clyde, Floyd Sr, Uncle Mike__ Nieznay , Unlce Leonard Sadowski 1962

Captured Tank – Clyde in Fore ground

captured Tank & Clyde 1942

Uncle Mike  would periodically sent us a “Care” package containing jars of peanut butter marshmallow and other goodies you could not buy.

Uncle Mike - 1945

Uncle Mike- MSG US Army

In 1942 my mother took me on a train trip to Arlington, Va. to visit her sister my Aunt Mary who was married to Uncle Mike Nieznay. He had spent the early part of the war fighting the Germans in Europe was home on leave before being shipped out to the Pacific theater in preparation for the invasion of Japan and Aunt Mary was coming home with us.  Fortunately the Atomic bomb ended the war and there was no armed invasion.   During the train trip I ate a warm meat loaf sandwich smeared with catsup Grandmother Prem packed for us, To this day a warm meatloaf sandwich with catsup is one of my favorite foods.

Aunt Mary & Uncle Mike- home for good

Aunt Mary & Uncle Mike -1945I remember being taken to downtown D.C. And seeing the White House. President’s Roosevelt’s grand children were playing on the front lawn and they were chasing white colored squirrels. We had lunch at a nearby diner and I had my first milkshake. As we were leaving I promptly brought it up.

Later in the week the three of us walked from the temporary housing area to watch the construction of one of the wonders of the world -The Pentagon.

Note: Colonel Leslie Groves headed up the project and as a Lt General he would be responsible for directing the Manhattan Project and the development of the Atomic Bomb.

Other memories

On Saturday mornings Mother would make us Cream Of Wheat with big pats of butter and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon .I loved to listen to the radio as there were several programs for kids, My favorite was called “Lets Pretend” and they usually told fairy tales. They were sponsored by Nabisco and I can still hear their jingle:

Cream O’ Wheat is so good to eat

So we have it everyday.

It makes us strong and makes us long

and makes us shout HURRAH1

It’s good for growing babies and grown-ups too to eat.

So for all the family’s breakfast

You can’t beat Cream O’ Wheat!

There were two programs, one about a magical fish called “Red Lantern”and one about Buster Brown and Froggie” . Now don’t forget TV was many years in the future so we had to use our imaginations.

At home the Hungarian Grandmothers raised us as our parents were either in the service or working in war related jobs. The Hungarian community came together and planted enormous “Victory Gardens” the produce was either canned or stored in Root Cellars. We all had apple, peach, apricot, plum and pear trees around our home. They were white washed with lime to prevent insects from boring into wood and caterpillars from climbing them. We all had chicken yards with hens and one or two roosters along with a couple ducks and usually a fat goose. Grammy Prem would hand feed the goose corn. She would hold it between her legs and stuff kernels of corn down its throat. By the time thanksgiving arrive the goose;s liver was enormous. After chopping its head off she would extract the oviduct and squeeze out the immature eggs. Next she made a pate’ with them and then it stuffed into the neck . The stuffed neck, heart and gizzard was roasted and became the Piece De Resistance of the Holiday meal. The men of the family  (to include the only Grandson) shared it.

Grandmother Vera Prem & Grandfather Joseph Prem ,  Mt Alto Sanatorium, Pa.

where he was being treated for lung disease.

Grammy & Grandpop PremNote: the geese & ducks that were eaten were cleaned of their down and were stuffed into great “feather ticks”. The blood was collected and made into a jellied Aspic usually containing some of the boiled meat of the fowl. Nothing was wasted.

In the fall of the year my Granduncle Steve Szalay killed one of his pigs that he raised and brought the carcass up to Grammy Perm’s home. The families made a great fire and the hog was butchered. The intestines were washed and cleaned .A mixture of rice, pig’s blood and chopped pork and spices were boiled and the intestines were stuffed to make blood sausage known as Hurka or Hudka. Chunks of pig fat were cut and put sticks and given to the children to roast and let them drip on chunks of home made bread. It was a small boy’s taste of heaven.

Note; The only other time I ate Blood Sausage was in Puerto Rico. In 1970 I was a medical member of an IG inspection of the Puerto Rico National Guard medical facilities. I was assigned a Staff Sargent and car for the week. SSG Gonzales invited me to his home outside of San Juan for supper. His wife served us Blood Sausage and fried Plantains. My short time in that beautiful Island and the wonderful people I met is something I will never forget.
.

My Pennsylvania German side of the Family went one better. After the hog was butchered all the parts left were boiled and made into an epicurean delight called Scrapple or Pan Haas( pan rabbit). The only part of the pig that wasn’t used was the “oink” and if you listened closely as the Scrapple was frying you could hear that too in the crackling. Truly nothing was wasted.

Grandmother Carrie Marsteller & Grandfather Calvin Marsteller – Freemansburg, Pa.

Grandmother & grandfather Marsteller

Here is an extract from Wikipedia:

Scrapple is typically made of hog offal, such as the head, heart, liver, and other trimmings, which are boiled with any bones attached (often the entire head), to make a broth. Once cooked, bones and fat are removed, the meat is reserved, and (dry) cornmeal is boiled in the broth to make a mush. The meat, finely minced, is returned to the pot and seasonings, typically sagethymesavory, black pepper, and others are added.[3][4] The mush is formed into loaves and allowed to cool thoroughly until set. 

Because I was raised in a Hungarian community I learned to speak Magyar. My Pennsylvania German however was limited to two phases;

Gott verdammt Sie -God Damn you- which I was forbidden to repeat and Snicklefritz that I could say when I was angry.

Here is another Wikipedia extract:

Snicklefrtiz was originally used in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, where Snicklefritz is an affectionate name for a mischievous or overly talkative child.

It is hard to believe that during elementary school we had corporal punishment .The individual teachers had wooden paddles and the miscreant was forced to lean over a desk at the front of the room and given a paddling. If you were sent to the Principal’s office , he used a strap and you got whacked across the back of the legs. To add insult to injury you were sent home with a note describing your misconduct. The note had to be signed and sent back with you the next day. This guaranteed a second punishment meted out by you parent.

We started each school day by reciting the Lord’s prayer and the teacher read a bible verse. On Fridays we had a general assembly of the classes(1-6). We also recited the Lord’s Prayer and sang the National Anthem. We then sang several hymns, my favorite was “The Little Brown Church In The Dale”.

First Family Portrait 1941

Front Row: Aunt Mary, Mother, Clyde,Floyd, Aunt Helen

Back Row Grand Pop Prem, Grammy Prem, Grammy Martseller, Grand Pop Marsteller

Marsteller & Prem family parents__ - Grammy & Pop Prem, Grammy & Pop Marsteller, sisters - Mary, Vera &__ Helen, Clyde & Floyd 1941

Family Portrait 2001

Family Portrait 2001  taken at Tara & Roger’s home in Poquoson , Va.

Front Row: Fred Clark , Kayla Marie Covert, Grandmother Vera (Marsteller) Clark

2nd row: Tara(Marsteller) Covert, Ellie(Garze) Marsteller, Clyde Marsteller, Barbara (Stralo)Marsteller, Christine Marsteller, Stephanie Marsteller , Bethany Pancoast

3rd row: Roger Covert, Floyd Marsteller, Floyd  Marsteller, Jr, Sandra(Profitt) Marsteller, Bonnie(Marsteller) Pancoast &  Dan Pancoast

A High School classmate Dale Stewart wrote to me after reading “Memories.”

She writes:

First, thank you so much for your trip down memory lane. You realize of course that since we are the same age and grew up in the same general area many of the places and events you mentioned were very familiar to me. Re the air raids, my Dad was an air raid Warden so when the siren went off my Dad grabbed his sleeve band and hard hat and headed out the door. And it was dead silence and black-black until the all safe siren blew, I grew up Bridge Street, just a block away the Laros Silk Mill where the parachutes were made and two blocks away from the Minsi Trail Bridge which crossed the Lehigh River to the Steel Company. I’m sure the Bethlehem Steel was a prime bomb target since all the steel manufactured there for the ships and planes. Very scary! I definitely remember scrapple. I loved scrapple! I haven’t had it for many decades.Remember Miss Kelchner and how we hung out at biology lab after school/ those high school days were great.

Thank you Dale for sharing those memories

Those were the Days my Friends!

Grandpa
Tell me ’bout the good old days
Sometimes it feels like
This world’s gone crazy
Grandpa, take me back to yesterday
Where the line between right and wrong
Didn’t seem so hazy

Did lovers really fall in love to stay
Stand beside each other come what may
Was a promise really something people kept
Not just something they would say
Did families really bow their heads to pray
Did daddies really never go away
Whoa oh Grandpa
Tell me ’bout the good old days

[musical interlude]

Grandpa
Everything is changing fast
We call it progress
But I just don’t know
And Grandpa, let’s wander back into the past
And paint me a picture of long ago

Did lovers really fall in love to stay
Stand beside each other come what may
Was a promise really something people kept
Not just something they would say and then forget
Did families really bow their heads to pray
Did daddies really never go away
Whoa oh Grandpa
Tell me ’bout the good old days

Whoa oh Grandpa
Tell me ’bout the good ole days