Sunday, August 12, 2007

Margie (that would be my wife) and I are ever so sadly wrapping up one of the very best vacations that we've ever had. I'm saying that even though this vacation was the same year as our Hawaiian vacation earlier this past March.

On this vacation we my brother (Jim) and His wife (Nanette) drove up from Texas and arrived early on a Saturday evening. We had dinner at a favorite Mexican joint (no illegals there!) and hit the rack shortly thereafter.

Sunday was rest and relaxation. Steaks (2 inch think filets) grilled on the b-b-q grill out back, shared by the 4 of us plus Johnny (my stepson) and his soon to be mother of Scarlet, Katie.

Monday we arose relatively early and after filling up on both gas and breakfast at a local BP attached to a Mickey D's we were on the road and headed to visit our (me and Jim's) roots in Pennsylvania. We drove from Indianapolis through Ohio, a particularily boring state, and on to Pittsburgh PA. Pittsburgh was awesome, Jim and I had forgotten how beautiful the countryside was in and immediately around Pittsburgh. Our old home was in North Braddock, and both North Braddock and Braddock had really gone down hill in the last 46 years. When we moved to texas it was 1961 and the area was starting to go down hill way back then and while Pittrsburgh proper felt healthy, our old area did not.

It is pretty interesting how your memory plays tricks on you. I had remembered our town being a healthy distance away from Pittsburgh but it was virtually next door.

Talk about change, we stopped by and visited the projects where I lived from ages 1 - 10. What had been concrete block projects was now condos. The concrete block appearance was changed to field stone and a rough hewn wood facing of some sort. They had even added central air, quite a shock.

A bigger shock was the neighborhood we had moved to when we left the projects. I had remembered a really big two story home with insul-brick (an asphalt siding, sometimes called ghetto brick), a slate roof that my dad, unaware that I was deathly afraid of heights, used to make me patch with hot tar. Height was an issue since the ground was maybe 30 feet or morre below. The home was still there, now with vinyl siding, an asphaalt shingle roof and central air conditioning. The back porch was no longer there, I wonder what they did with the door that led to that porch - hope the closed it up because the porch was 20 feet off the ground.

Jim and I walked up and down the street remembering stuff. We talked to a few oldtimers but they had all moved to the street afe=ter we had already moved to Texas.

We then drove to South Greensburg where our grandparents had owned a small farm, they bought this and moved to it after my grandfather retired from the coal mines. This was a sad sight. Whoever bought it from my grandfather was one of those families that share their home with 20 cats and 10 dogs. It was abandoned and sad. Even though it was posted, "no tresspassing, no hunting, no fishing" I walked through the weeds and undergowth to see if some of my memories were correct. Sure enough, I found the 2 x 4s that supported the roof over the basement exit. This was important because I remembered my grandfather doing chin ups while holding on to the 2 x 4s with just his index fnger and thunb. He was one strong guy, this was when he was in his 60s. The old concrete block garage was still there. I would have loved to be able to go in the house, but ......

That was the end of Monday so we found a Days Inn and a place to eat and called it a night. The next day we (shock) found a recently opened up racino and played for a few hours, then headed back home. The drive took the rest of that Tuesday.

On Wednesday we woke before the crack of dawn so we could hit opening day at the Indiana State Fair. Jim, Nanette, Margie and I were at the fair by 6:00 AM. We did the early thing because on the opening day there is a hot air balloon race and we were there in time to watch them fill the things with heated air then take off. An inspiring sight. After that we spent an hour in line for breakfast then spent the better part of the day schlepping through exhibits and eating stick food. By exibhits I mean a whole building full of arsty stuff, a lot of needle work that Nanette and Margie really enjoyed. Jim and I were thrilled too.

Thursday was a Caesar's Casino day, our favorite casino a 1oo miles south and across the river from Louisville KY. We're desperately trying to avoid leaving an estate. Well, I am anyway. Everyone besides me actually came out okay.

On Friday Jim and I spent the day at the track, did I mention I'm trying to avoid leaving an estate? Margie and Nanette trucked up north a ways an visited a quilt shop.

On Staurday Jim and Nanette slunk away before the crack of dawn and arrived home in record time.

All in all, this is one of the best vacations I have ever had. Revisiting memories with Margie, my Bro and his lovely bride. One for the books.

Now here are some pictures: