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Excerpt for Those Were the Days by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


Those Were the Days


by

Edwin Croyle


Copyright 2018


Cover Design by Edwin Croyle


Smashwords Edition



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Table of Contents

Remembrances


Magical Time--Magical Place

Pappy's New Car

Kantner E.U.B. Church

Fishing with Daddy

Boy Scouts

Potter County

Games We Played

Winter Games We Played

Red Skelton and Walt Disney

Baseball

Running from the Bulls

Those Who Served

Stoystown Pioneers

Pittsburgh Pirates

Baseball Cards

Bicycles

Lionel, American Flyer, or Marx

Christmas Memories

Doing the Dishes

1950s Cars

Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas Dinner, and Grandma's Coal Stove

Lohr Feed and Implement

Newberry's

2-18

Our School

Rock and Roll

Three Friends

Silly Rhymes

Do You Remember?

And Now, Many Years Later

End Notes

Magical Time -- Magical Place


The time was the 1950s, and the place was small town, USA. Actually, the small town was Kantner, PA, with a population of 200. I know the population was 200 because I counted everybody several times during the decade of the 1950s. There was a little fluctuation, but not much. A one-mile bike ride from Kantner was Stoystown, population about 450. Hooversville was only five miles away and had about 1200 people. I once had a friend in junior high school who, trying to impress me, said, "You can't get me lost in Hooversville." Being from Kantner, I was impressed. You see I wasn't sure I could find my way around Stoystown.


A trip outside the immediate area, certainly not a bicycle trip, was a ten mile ride to Somerset. Now we were getting into the big time. Somerset had a courthouse, an armory, a hospital, and several shopping stores grouped around the "diamond." The diamond was the biggest intersection I had ever seen. It actually had four traffic lights. The center of the diamond between the four traffic lights always seemed to be a sort of free for-all demolition derby to me, but by the time I was sixteen, I had learned how to negotiate it in my father's car.


At Christmas time at least one of the stores would have a window featuring electric trains, particularly Lionel electric trains. The kids from the movie, A Christmas Story had nothing over on us as we slobbered all over those store windows. Somerset, with its population of about 6000, was big time, but even more impressive was Johnstown, a twenty-mile drive away. We seldom went to Johnstown; Somerset met our needs, but the sophisticated kids from Hooversville preferred Johnstown with its population of about 60,000. That was beyond our comprehension, but every so often a journey was made to Johnstown for "school shopping." Johnstown didn't have a "diamond." It had a square park in the center of downtown with the streets and four stoplights around the square. Most of the stores faced on the square, but I think I remember going down some side streets to get to additional stores.


One memorable trip to Johnstown involved one of the traffic signals and a neighbor lady who drove my mother and me to Johnstown. One of the lights turned yellow as we entered the intersection, and our driver obediently stopped. Unfortunately, she had stopped too late, and we were in the middle of the intersection. A policeman walked over, and with a smile (grin) on his face, said, "It's okay you can go on through." After we got through that intersection, we stayed clear of the square for the rest of the day.


In our magical town of Kantner, everybody knew everybody. We didn't necessarily like everybody, but we did know everybody. The central place to play in town was Wirbick's yard. At least we called it Wirbick's yard. It was a fairly large flat open space beside the Wirbick's house, with grass that somebody mowed. Most days found anywhere from three to eight kids gathered there playing some sort of game from baseball to tag to strawberry drop to hide and go seek.



Just outside Kantner were several junk yards with acres and mounds of wrecked and worn-out cars. It was, and still is, a big business in the area. I can tell you that the stories about nasty junk yard dogs are true. Fortunately, the dogs were most often kept chained, but they did keep a watch on anyone who entered their domain. The clanking of the chain was enough to frighten most people. I'm sure the bark, the look, and the charge to

have an inexpensive choice for the various parts my 1951 Chevy needed. I was a good enough customer that the dog got to know me, and just gave me a "Yeah, I know you" look, but He still didn't completely trust me.


Unlike the movie A River Runs Through it, Kantner didn't have a river, but we did have an awkwardly named stream, "Stoneycreek River." A major national highway, the Lincoln Highway, and the railroad both ran through town, and we were surrounded by strip mines. The strip mines became good places to pick berries and a good place for us young boys to start mini landslides and to throw rocks to our hearts' content.


I've heard that those of us who grew up in the 1950s were "repressed." Repressed we may have been, but we did have fun, and I think we grew up pretty normal, whatever "normal" is.


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Pappys New Car


Okay, this didn't really happen in the 1950s, but it's a treasured childhood memory. I remember Pappy's new car. Pappy was my mother's father. I don't know how we came to call him Pappy, but it fit. Pappy bought a brand new 1949 Chevy. Long and black, the style was called Fleetline, and it had four doors. Sitting in the showroom of the Windber Chevy dealership while Pappy was settling the details wasn't all that boring for an eight year old. I looked at all the cars wondering which one was Pappy's. Well, it wasn't any of those. It was in the back being prepared for him. It looked new and it smelled new. I sat on the front seat beside Pappy on the way home, feeling really proud to be riding in a brand new car. I could sit anywhere on the front seat I wanted. I could sit up at the edge of the seat or I could sit back against the back of the seat. There was no seat belt to force me into the proper seating position.


I also remember Pappy letting me sit on his lap and steer the car. Grandma and Pappy lived next door to us along a one and a half lane road that ran out of macadam just at Pappy's house where the surface became “red dog.” The “red dog”, mentioned elsewhere in these pages, was a type of rock (red) that kept the road from becoming muddy when it rained. One day Pappy sat me on his lap and let me steer the car on the road to his house. I did keep it out of the ditch on one side and out of people's yards on the other side, but if the tires had been paint brushes, they would have left some pretty squiggly lines going up the road. Fortunately, no one was coming the other way while we wound our way to Pappy's house.


I remember one other ride in Pappy's new car. One day he said, “Let's go for a ride.” I was always ready for that, so I got in. He told me to look at the odometer. It showed 5999.0. It was about to turn over to six thousand! I had missed all the other thousand mile turn-overs. We drove, or rather Pappy drove over town and back. (It was a small town.) Just before we pulled into his driveway, the odometer showed 6000.0. I don't think my eyes moved from the odometer the whole time it went from 5999.9 to 6000.0. It may not sound very exciting now, but I was thrilled at the time. I couldn't wait to tell my mother and daddy and sister about it.


One day Pappy and I were coming back from a trip to Somerset. Route 53, the road between Stoystown and Somerset was a well used two lane macadam road. As we were driving, several young guys flew by us, swerved back into the right lane and disappeared around a turn. Several miles later we saw them sitting beside the road with their hood up. Pappy stopped behind them, and we got out and walked up to them. I thought he was going to offer to help them. Instead, he let them have "what for" concerning their fast driving that endangered others on the road. Maybe it was because Pappy was tall. Maybe it was because he looked like he would not accept any back-talk, but they just stood there and took it. We got back in Pappy's car and drove off. Yes, it was a different time and a different place.


Pappy was very protective of his new car. When he and Grandma got home from anywhere, he would turn off the engine and say, “Grace, is it off.”

Grandma would answer, “Yes, Charles, it is off.”

He would ask again, Grace, is it off?”

She would answer again, “Yes, Charles, it is off.”

Then Pappy would pull on the emergency brake, be sure the car was in first gear, get out, and put a wooden block behind each of the rear wheels because the driveway was on a slight hill. Then, and only then, would he go into the house. At night time, before he went to bed, rain, snow, or shine, Pappy went outside, looked at the headlights and tail lights to be sure they were off, looked inside to see that the interior lights and dashboard lights were off, and then looked to be sure the blocks were behind the wheels. We always said Pappy was putting the car to bed. It might sound silly now, but it was comforting to see Pappy checking his new car before he went to bed.


Maybe I'd better go check my car. Are the headlights off? Are the taillights off? Is it in Park? No, I do NOT put wooden blocks behind my car’s rear wheels (anymore).


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Kantner E. U. B. Church


During the 1950s we were members of the Kantner E.U.B. Church. At the time I didn't know that E.U.B. stood for Evangelical United Brethren. The Kantner E.U.B. Chruch was one of four churches in the "Hooversville Charge," whose pastor spoke in each of the churches every Sunday: Hooversville, Kantner, Wilbur, and Jenner Crossroads. Besides being the pastor for the four churches, our pastor was, at one point, an English teacher at the local junior high school. He was a busy man, but because he had children near my age, we got to know him and his family. It was important to us that we were an E.U.B. Church and not a Lutheran, Reformed, Brethren, or Pentacostal Church. I didn't know any of the differences, but I was proud to belong to the E.U.B. Church. Since my childhood, the "Hooversville Charge" has broken up, the E.U.B. Church has become the United Methodist Church, and the Lutheran, Reformed, Brethren, and Pentacostal Churches still exist in my home town area. Maybe we didn't know as much as we thought we did. Even though we were a small (175 member) church, we were very active and seemed to be the center of the Christian and social activity of Kantner. Our church bells did ring every Sunday morning, calling us to worship and lining the street with cars clear down to the local tavern and up the ramp leading to the entrance to the barn of the local farmer. He couldn't have gotten his Farmall tractor out if he had wanted to, but since he was usually in the church service, it wasn't a problem.


In my early teen years, the "Hooversville Charge" had a Men's Chorus that sang at various churches throughout Somerset County. We may not have been greatly talented musically, but we did sing out. I got to visit many churches during that time and experience many different speakers including one that made me think of the "Little Brown Church in the Vale." One of the more unusual experiences occurred when the speaker was a woman, unusual not because she was a woman, but because her husband was the pastor of the church. Her husband, being the pastor, prepared the congregation for the offering. In his remarks he said, and I quote, "Let's make this a soft offering for Mrs. ____," soft offering meaning no change, just bills.


Of course everybody knew everybody in our church, and there were no unspoken prayer requests that were really unknown. Twice a year revival services were held with an outside traveling evangelist invited to speak every night for two weeks. The speaker's descriptions of hell were graphic as were his descriptions of God's love for each of us. Hellfire may be hot, but the love of Jesus preached promised escape from the eternal damnation and the security of a home in heaven. These services were well attended and discussed in and after church services for many weeks. The messages were scary for a young boy, but the assurance given by the preacher and my mother and grandmother made me thankful for God's love and Jesus' sacrifice.


The church building periodically underwent needed repairs and renovations, so building funds had to be raised. One fund-raising effort involved the call for "One mile of dollar bills" ($5000) to pay for the changes. One member even wrote to President Eisenhower requesting a contribution. We did get an answer from a member of his staff explaining that even though the President did appreciate our need, he received numerous similar requests and simply could not respond to them all. Even without President Eisenhower's participation, the "Mile of Dollars" was raised, and the addition was built. As always, construction costs were kept low because the men of the church did the labor during evenings and weekends with the women bringing dinner or Saturday lunch.


Sunday School was a vital part of Kantner E.U. B., to a youngster, actually the most important part. Sunday school classes were interesting and we learned much about living a Christian life. My interest may have been enhanced because my earliest memories are of having my mother as the teacher. When I graduated from her class, I moved into my grandmother's class. Had I stayed in the church, the logical progression would have been to the class taught by my dad, and finally to the one taught by my grandfather. later, my sister and I also taught Sunday School classes here.

We experienced in Sunday School, the Flannelgraph, a word sure to bring wistful looks to the eyes of some, and blank stares to the eyes of many others. If you were ever in a Sunday School class taught by one of the“Masters of the Flannelgraph,” you haven't forgotten it. Long before dvds, even long before video tapes had been dreamed of, Sunday School teachers were using cut-out flannel figures and a black flannel background to illustrate scenes from the Bible. Perhaps it was the black background, perhaps it was the wonder of the biblical stories, perhaps it was the bright colors used on the figures, perhaps it was just the imagination of a young boy, but those scenes still play across my mind at times.

As the teacher told the story, she or he, but mostly she, placed figures on the flannelboard. She usually began with a light blue strip across the top to represent the sky, sometimes with white puffy clouds. Many times a light brown or tan strip was placed across the bottom to show the ground, accompanied by small patches of grass, bushes, and trees. While setting the scene, the teacher would begin the story, keeping us wondering what would come next. As cast members entered the story, they were placed on the background. The conversations of these biblical characters seemed real, and their movements across the scene, while not appearing lifelike, did capture our attention.

A real “Flannelgraph Master” could change scenes, completely removing the figures and background down to the black background, while retaining the interest of the class. The story of Joseph, from the coat of many colors, through imprisonment, to the second in command of Egypt kept the “Flannelgraph Master” busy and the class enthralled. For the entire class time. I still remember the vividness of the colors of Joseph's coat. I still remember the concern I felt when Joseph was sold and imprisoned. I still remember Joseph's faithfulness to the truth and to his God, and I still remember God's faithfulness to Joseph. AND, those memories still help me to be patient today when I feel God isn't doing what I think He should be doing when I think He should be doing it.

The birth of Jesus, Daniel in the Lion's Den, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Noah's Ark, David and Goliath are all stories brought to life by one of my favorite “Flannelgraph Masters,” my mother. She transported us years and miles away to the times and lands of the Bible.

Somehow the “Flannelgraph Master” kept our vision focused on the message from God's Word. The flannel figures enhanced the message rather than detracting from it. Perhaps today's video technicians could learn some lessons from the “Flannelgraph Masters.” Flannelgraph lives on! I just checked on line and found many sources for flannelgraph supplies. If you are interested, check out www.christiansupply.com, www.amazon.com, and www.ebay.com. I just hope there are still some “Flannelgraph Masters” to tell the stories.

Once I arrived in my grandmother's class, we had assigned lessons to read and study each week. During class time, we read the Scripture and discussed the teaching in the Scriptures. Most of all, we learned from one of the great Christian ladies of the church how to live the Christian life. Sword drills were frequent and tightly contested. You see, Grandma had us in the Word every Sunday.


Vacation Bible School, usually in early June, often drew students who weren't usually there on Sunday mornings. It was an opportunity for mothers in the community to get school age kids out of the house for an additional two weeks. While the lessons were Bible-centered, they often focused on outdoor activities and the beauty of God's creation. Perhaps that's where my strong appreciation of the work of God in creation began. At the end of the two-week program, we always had an evening program and a party/picnic, almost like a small Sunday School picnic.


Sunday School picnics were much anticipated events. The date was emblazoned on my mind's calendar from the day it was announced. Two BIG things would definitely happen, and one BIG thing might happen. The most important BIG thing was that I would get to play baseball or softball for hours. The second BIG thing was that I would get to eat many, many different foods on and off all day. My mother always took plenty of food, but this was my chance to sample all the different foods other mothers made, too. There was something about Sunday School Picnics that seemed to engender some sort of competition among the women who did the cooking. Each one seemed to have her specialty, and nobody else had better make anything like it except for potato salad. Several women had favorite potato salad recipes. Sunday School Picnics always began with lunch, but there was always enough food for dinner as well as enough for intermittent snacking during the afternoon. Grazing off the various foods on the tables seemed to be an activity that involved most of the attendees. The third BIG thing, and it didn't always happen, was that I would get to play horseshoes with the men. Of course, I didn't throw them the correct way, spinning them; I threw them end over end, but they let my points count even though the horseshoe was almost always upside down. It wasn't often that I got to play horseshoes because the men seemed to take it pretty seriously.


Baseball or softball, on the other hand, seemed to be available practically all day. There was usually room for one more player. It didn't seem to matter if there were four outfielders and five infielders; they weren't all-star caliber anyway. If you hit the ball on the ground, there was a pretty good chance of getting on base. No one ever struck out, and no one ever got a base on balls. You had to hit the ball; probably why I don't enjoy pitchers' duels today. Even a fly ball could be a good deal if too many fielders tried to camp under it. I loved every minute of it, in the field or at bat. There were, obviously, some good ball players, but they made sure that the rest of us enjoyed the game too. Baseball was always a big part of my life as a child, and Sunday School Picnic baseball games were extra special because I got to show my skills, such as they were, to the older guys who I thought were pretty close to big leaguers.


In western Pennsylvania, it wasn't always certain that the weather would be good for the Sunday School Picnic. Weather forecasts became very important that week. More than once I prayed for God to stop the rain that began on Friday. A rain-out of the Sunday School Picnic was a serious problem because the place we rented for the picnic wasn't always available the following weekend.


I loved our Sunday School Picnics because of the three BIG things I mentioned above, but there was a Sunday School Picnic at another church that could also raise my level of excitement, the Pokey Picnic! It was held by the Wilbur Church in our charge of four churches. They had their own picnic ground across the street from their church in the small town of Wilbur. It was extra intriguing because, even though it was only about four miles from our church, it was in a different school district, and I didn't know most of the kids there.


The Pokey Picnic was a local event that involved more than the church. People from all over the area came to enjoy the day. The Wilbur Church used it as a fund raiser. They sold submarine sandwiches, sodas, ice cream, and even whole meals out of buildings that faced the picnic grounds. Behind the buildings was a small stream, always a place of interest to small boys. I usually managed to get partially soaked at least once during the day. Across the stream was a small hill with untamed, or at least, lesser-trained grass and plants. When I was a small boy, the hill wasn't a small hill, but it became smaller as I got older. The picnic grounds also had a band shell that was raised off the ground and was fronted by plank benches. During the afternoon and evening, various entertainments were presented from the stage. I've been back to the grounds of the Pokey Picnic recently, and I discovered that the spacious picnic grounds of my childhood don't seem nearly as spacious today. Even though I looked forward to the Pokey Picnic, it never held my interest for the entire day. You see, there was no baseball field.


You can't play baseball in the winter in western Pennsylvania, but you can play Dartball Baseball. The local churches had a winter dartball baseball league with scheduled games and league standings were known and even printed. With my love for baseball, this was a natural, but it was a men's league, not a young teenager's league. I attended and watched enough games that they let me play sometimes, to my great joy. I'm not sure I was much help because I always wanted to be the hero, trying for doubles and triples instead of the easier singles. The board was set up as a baseball diamond with circles at each base except home plate. The single circle at first was rather large while the second base-double, and the third base-triple were successively smaller. Home run was a small square in the center surrounded by a large "out" section. I did know enough to limit my tries for home runs, but extra base hits were tempting. Today I am surprised how patient the men were with me when I killed many rallies by making the third out trying for a double or triple. Competition among the various church teams was spirited if not fierce, teasing being the preferred activity.


Interesting enough, I remember a sermon I heard when I was a young teenager. I remember it not just because of the content, but because of the masterful delivery of the preacher, Dr. Bungard. I had never before heard a pastor, or any speaker for that matter, who spoke so confidently that he needed no repetition. He spoke straight to the point, and each point followed the preceding one in a quite logical manner. I had never heard, and have never heard the message of salvation given in such a straight forward manner. I have heard many good speakers since then, but none has held my attention the way this man did.


Sometimes I miss the closeness of that small town, close-knit congregation. I'm glad I grew up in the Kantner E.U.B. Church. I met Jesus there, and I was surrounded by Christ- loving people, young and old.


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Fishing with Daddy


April 15 was always an exciting time for me. My birthday had just passed, Easter vacation had usually just happened, baseball season had begun, and April 15 was the first day of trout season. My father was an avid trout fisherman. I don't recall him ever fishing for anything else. His type of trout fishing was always mysterious to me. Worms were never his bait, he didn't use flies, and he didn't use lures. He used minnows or minnies as we called them. Since minnies were very small live fish, they had to be caught before you could actually go fishing. A seine or "minnie net" was the minnow- catching tool. I often went along with my dad to catch minnies, although I don't think I ever got to catch any myself. It was interesting to watch him take the minnie net stretched between two long sticks and walk upstream in a small, less then three-feet-wide, stream, hold it in front of him and slowly push it through the water. When he finally took it out of the water minnies magically appeared in it. Then we caught the minnies with our hands and put them in the minnie bucket, a small oval shaped bucket with a lid with holes in it. We filled it with water from the same stream the minnies came from. I've lost my dad's minne net, but I still have his minnie bucket.


So far so good, but then the mystery started. We had to go fishing that day or the minnies might not last unless we put the minnie bucket in our neighbor's spring which always got a fresh trout put in it early in trout season. It seems the trout kept the spring water clean. I fished with my dad for many years, but I never learned how he put the minnie on his line. A sewing needle with the eye cut partly away was used in some manner to put the minie on the hook with the twin hooks near the tail. The minnie could swim, and just pulling him through the water made his motions very fish-like, at least enough to fool a hungry trout. Minnie fishing was an active sport. The line was constantly in motion--cast out, and then pulled back in, only to be cast again. It worked well for my dad. He often caught his limit and was sometimes able to coax the big lunker that lived back under the rock ledge to bite. Occasionally, I would be allowed to reel the fish in, but I don't remember reeling in any big ones. It was fun to watch my dad "play" the big fish. Since the line was light-weight, you couldn't just reel the big fish in. The fish had to be allowed to fight against the pull of the line until he tired, and then he could be coaxed to shore and landed. I never learned the process, at least not with minnies.


Meantime, I would be casting my earthworm-baited line into the stream. Then came the exciting/boring part. Yes, it was both exciting and boring--exciting because a fish could bite at any time--boring because a fish may not bite for a long time, a very long time. If a fish did bite, I had to wait until he had taken the hook, and then I could jerk the line to "set the hook." Unfortunately, I usually jerked the line either too hard or too soon, and the hook was not caught in the fish's mouth. Sometimes I brought in a bare hook, and sometimes the hook was covered, but the rest of the worm was gone. One of the main differences between minnie and worm fishing was "If the fish got the minnie, the fish got the hook." But, the fish could easily get part of the worm and leave the hook behind. The number of fish I caught while fishing with my dad can, I'm sure, be counted on one hand; frustrating when my dad often caught his limit. I once even used bubblegum for bait (Daddy never knew.), and that didn't work either.


Once, fishing with my granddad (my dad's dad), I caught fifteen or twenty fish. Bluegills, they were. Bluegills love worms, and they bite the whole worm, so they are easier to catch, but they are much smaller than trout. Grandpa seemed to be really enjoying himself that day. I remember the sideways look my mother gave my dad when I brought that bucket of bluegills home. Those small spine-backed fish never got cleaned, so they didn't get close to a skillet.


One favorite place my dad and I fished was New Baltimore near Bedford County, Pa. We actually fished in a stream called Breastwork Run, the kind you read about that tumbles over and around rocks with trees and their trunks stretching out over it. In some places it is only a few feet across, but occasionally it flattens out into a pool twenty feet wide and three or four feet deep. Walking along the shore for more than fifty feet at the most, and usually twenty feet, took some maneuvering that often resulted in wet feet. It was, and still is, a beautiful stream in a deep woods. I know it still is because I almost always drive down to New Baltimore whenever I get to western Pennsylvania. The one-and-a-half lane wide road that goes from US Route 30 to New Baltimore is less than ten miles long, but it winds along and across Breastwork Run through the trees the entire length. Catching fish was never the most important thing for me when along this stream, even as a youngster. Hearing and watching the stream tumble its way were enjoyment enough in itself.


Potter County, the fishing haven (or is it heaven) for the men of Kantner and Stoystown, was also a much-desired fishing place of mine. Even though Daddy and I planned to go to Potter several times to fish, I think it happened only once, and I didn't catch anything even though our dinner each night was fresh-caught trout. (More about Potter County later.)


Grandpa, my dad's dad, was a great outdoorsman. Fishing and hunting were what he did. I never knew my dad's mom since she died before I was born. Grandpa never remarried, so when he wasn't on his porch in good weather he was hunting or fishing or visiting the farm of one of his kids. He knew all the local game wardens, and he often said about them, "They won't pinch (arrest) me." His regard for the hunting and fishing regulations was less than high. He had been hunting and fishing for years and felt he knew "what was right." Creel and bag limits didn't bother him very much. I don't know if there was a creel limit for bluegills the day he and I caught so many, but he never mentioned it. I'm told that he once visited a local fish hatchery with a fishing line strung down his pants leg. He dropped the line in the water along one of the pools of large trout, hooked one, pulled it up his pants leg and walked to his car. I wasn't there for that one, but I was there the one day I saw my dad get angry with him and actually bawl him out. My uncle, my dad, grandpa, and I were deer hunting. We were doing what is known as "road hunting," driving back roads and keeping watch in fields and edges of woods for deer. We got out of the car at a likely spot and walked into the woods a short distance. When nothing developed we got back in the car. Grandpa was tired of loading his gun when he got out of the car and unloading it when we got back in, so this time he left it loaded and signaled me not to say anything. Once we got close to town, Grandpa asked my uncle to pull over so he could unload his gun. Since driving with a loaded gun in the car was a serious infraction, my dad let his father know that he didn't appreciate his breaking of the law in that manner. When we got back in the car Grandpa had a sheepish grin on his face as he winked at me.


Grandpa had a Chevy pickup truck, the green color they all were. To me it seemed a glorious vehicle with the gear shift on the floor and just room for two of us, grandpa and me. I didn't know enough at the time to be concerned when he normally drove in the middle of a three lane road, in the lane provided for passing only. Grandpa also had a barn right along PA state route 53, and, yes, the barn had a Mail Pouch Tobacco advertisement painted on one side.


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Boy Scouts


There was no Cub Scouts troop in our area, but I joined the Boy Scouts as soon as I could. The nearest scout troop was in Stoystown, a mile away, but my dad was glad to take me to the weekly meetings and the various activities. Just beyond the city limits, just beyond the last house that is, (Stoystown and Kantner were both too small to have official city limits) the fields and woods began, so most scouting activities were immediately available, at least in terms of location.


Somerset County was the home of many coal strip mines that left the land scarred, and that's where our Boy Scout troop got funding for our various activities. I don't know who paid for it, but our troop often went to various former strip mines to plant trees where the overburden had been bulldozed back in order to level the ground, The trees were about a foot long including root and stem. "Large step forward, swing the mattock, pull the ground back, remove the mattock after the tree has been planted, and step forward again." That was the fun job. "Stoop down, put tree root in the hole, step on the ground to cover the root, and move to the next one." Part of this job was to make sure the tree was upright and not just tramped into the ground. I've been by some of the planting sites fairly recently, and there are good stands of pine forest covering the ground, so I guess we did a good job. We each brought lunch, but milk, usually chocolate milk, was provided--and as much as we could drink. Once we planted an area on a local doctor's property, and he provided sub sandwiches as well as chocolate milk. We really liked that day. The transportation provided to these planting sites would get the scoutmaster and anyone else who drove arrested today. We rode on benches put inside the covered beds of pickup trucks. That's right--no seat belts. We may have bounced around (part of the fun), but because the bed was covered, no one fell out.


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