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The Lee Park Honor Roll

By M Davies   /     May 29, 2017  /     Family, Hobby-ish, Into the Void  /     2 Comments

Some of my favorite memories from childhood go back to spending time with my Grandparents. Whether it was taking walks, shopping trips or simply spending time together, we always seemed to have a good time. At least early on in my childhood, my Grandparents would usually have us over for Memorial Day for a sleepover and somewhat of a cookout. This was probably about 20 years ago, so I don’t remember all of the details clearly, but I do remember very vividly that my Grandfather would walk us down to the end of their road to watch an annual ceremony that would take place each “Decoration Day” at the site of a memorial wall. After the ceremony ended, there was normally a short parade. Later in the morning, my cousins always found it a trip to look for the spent bullet shells in the gun salute that happened during the earlier ceremony.

To give you a little background, Memorial Day was initially called “Decoration Day” because it is customary to decorate a soldier’s grave with flowers – dating back to ancient times. I won’t get too preachy about the background of the holiday, but there is a lot of good information about it on the Wikipedia page with sources cited. One thing that seems to be a pet peeve among my media friends is the confusion between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. To clear it up, Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans. I think it’s always a good idea to honor the memories who served or died for our freedoms regardless of the day of the year, but especially on those two days. I’m going to write a bit about the memorial wall where we would observe the annual ceremony each year with my grandfather. His name, as well of a few of his brothers appear on the wall and I always wanted to know more about it. Thanks to newspapers.com, I found a WEALTH of information. I definitely recommend getting a subscription if you are trying to research any genealogy or history topics. You won’t be disappointed.

Here’s a look at the “wall” which is called The Lee Park Honor Roll on a bright day in 2012:

There are a few other memorials setup on the site.

The area where the memorial sits is in Hanover Township on Lee Park Avenue. It is directly next to the old Lee Park Hose Company #4 (which will eventually close, if it hasn’t already, when the fire stations consolidate into their new building on the Sans Souci Parkway), it is across the street from Grace Assembly International Church and the Lee Park Elementary building, and caddy corner in either direction from the Lee Park Towers (High Rise) and Regina Street. It overlooks a recreational park below. The land that the memorial and the park sit on used to be owned by the Glen Alden Coal Company and bordered land owned by the Jersey Central Railroad. Allegedly, this area was named “American Legion Park” after the Lee Park American Legion Post 609-320, according to old newspapers, but I cannot find any other source to back this up as Hanover Township removed the section of their website regarding the area parks. If you happen to know the details, shoot me an email or leave me a message in the comments and I will add it in.

The memorial movement was just starting to gain traction in early 1943 as a committee was formed and meetings were held to raise funds for the granite statue. Women were urged to take an active role in the fundraising and many of them went door to door collecting goods and monetary donations.

By April 1943, the funds raised by the community exceeded 1,000 dollars. 1k doesn’t seem like it would go far these days, but of course this prior to a buttload of inflation that happened over the years. A quick check of the US Inflation Calculator shows that 1k would equal roughly $14,000 now. If you consider that most of the people in this community were the working poor — housewives and general laborers (most coal miners) that is pretty impressive.

Lists were posted in local businesses to collect the names of men and women who served in the various ranks of the military. Initially, around 500 names of men and women who served were collected in the districts that represent “Lee Park Proper.” After later meetings of the committees, it was agreed that the Marion Terrace, Carey Terrace and Inman Park sections of Hanover Twp. would also be included. You could just guess that there was going to be some hurt feelings and controversy over people who may have been left off the memorial. The committee agreed to make it right, but not until 1944 as noted below.

Reverse the clock to 1943 for a moment. A ground breaking celebration was held in July followed by a 10 day Bazaar to raise funds for the sandblasting of names to go on the granite memorial.

As a comparison, here’s the same angle the above photo was taken, present day (albeit slightly further back from the original spot…I wanted to get the entire church and school in the shot)…

The plan was to have the wall unveiling ceremony/dedication in time for Labor Day, but the Lee Park Honor Roll Association ran into some snags with the vendors providing the granite. The initial company that the Association entered into a contract with – Summit Hill Marble and Granite Company – wasn’t the one that they ended up going with in the end (July 1943).  Summit Hill grossly under-estimated their price quote and withdrew the bid. Later in July, the Association took bids from another organizations and decided upon the Green Valley Marble Company located in Vermont.

While having a vendor back out was controversial enough, It turns out the the Green Valley Marble Company had some issues of their own. The dedication ceremony of the wall was pushed back yet again due to issues with cutting the granite to the specification provided by the Association. The article below was posted to a local paper in November of 1943.

 

FINALLY at long last, on December 12, 1943, the wall was dedicated at approximately 1:30 in the afternoon. There was a parade around Lee Park comprised of 5 divisions before heading back over to the park for the dedication service. The local school’s band and chorus played music and sang before the wall was dedicated. Initially 500 names were placed on the wall, but there were room for an additional 200 or so to be sandblasted on after the fact.

If you compare the above photo to the one I originally posted of the wall, you’ll notice that it is missing a few sections. They were added after the fact. My grandfather’s name appears in one of the add-on sections (spelled wrong, because of course)…”Russel Hrevnack.” The truth is that my Grandfather’s family came to America speaking no English, so whoever was taking their paper work at the port they came in on or the census workers probably had NO IDEA how to spell it properly, nor did my ancestors know how to communicate with them to spell it correctly.

My Grandfather’s two brothers appeared in the original sections of the wall – John and Peter.

As of 2001, there are now over 850 names on the wall. If you look closely at some of the names on the wall, you may notice a star or an O before their name. The O signifies that they were a prisoner of war, the star indicates that they were killed in the line of duty. Here are a few of the panels of the wall showing examples of each. Source

One particularly interesting story, is that of Margaret A. Nash. I specifically came to the wall this afternoon looking for her name because I believed she was the only woman on the wall that was held as a prisoner of war – I was right. There are very few names of women on the wall, but she’s the only POW that I was able to see. I’ve visited this wall probably a zillion times and I never knew or noticed the markers before the name. Of course when I found this little nugget, I was down another Google wormhole and researched all about Margaret A. Nash. Without getting too far off topic, Margaret was a Navy nurse. She was captured and held as a prisoner of war by the Japanese during World War II, she neglected her own health to nurse hundreds of her fellow prisoners suffering from disease and near-starvation in the Philippine Islands. She was still struggling to survive when the camp was finally liberated by US forces three years later. This woman came from your backyard NEPA…how truly incredible.

Below is a quick article snippet from when she was well enough to come back home in 1945. Margaret has since passed away, but not before moving to California and teaching an entire new generation of nurses at the University of California in Berkley.

After the wall was built, the Lee Park Honor Roll Association continued to raise funds through community picnics, bingos, dances, and other events to build the park and pavilion that exists between the Hose Company and the Lee Park Towers. I know they eventually turned their attention to creating recreational parks in other areas of Hanover Township. It continued to remain a civic minded organization throughout the years.

So what now?

Well the last time I visited the wall, It wasn’t in the best of shape landscaping-wise, but to be fair, it was a fall day when most lawn care equipment has been packed up and stored for the season in preparation of the cold weather.

As I mentioned earlier, the Lee Park Honor Roll Association still seems to exist and may be headed up by members of the Lee Park Hose Company or the American Legion. The caretakers are probably getting up there in age – and the younger folks will likely be moving away when the Fire Departments consolidate. Some of the things in the memorial park have been removed, such as a memorial bench. I am unable to find any reasons why this may have happened, but can only imagine that it was because of decay and age. I know that the wall has been hit by graffiti vandals at least once, but I’m sure it’s probably happened more than just that one occasion and that hurts my heart. Why would you destroy a piece of history?

The parades and memorial services that would be held at the site (the ones that I remembered from my childhood) no longer happen. I do know there are neighboring communities (such as Ashley for example) that observe the holiday. Still in all, I wish that even if for just one more time, the site could be honored in some kind of way because it is truly special and the history behind it is fascinating. Maybe I will send this blog post along to some local community leaders to see what can be done, but I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Just based on the Margaret Nash story, I believe it should be fair came for a PA historical marker, but I’m not sure what the application process would be for something like that.

At any rate, whatever your plans are today, take the time to remember the men and women that sacrificed so much for your freedoms.

Have a safe and healthy Memorial Day weekend.

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PMS Pickles

By M Davies   /     Mar 19, 2017  /     Mommyhood  /     4 Comments

Parenting has been a challenge as of late with my daughter. It’s really hard coming to terms with having a pre-pubescent/pre-teen on my hands, and one with my attitude to boot. It’s like dealing with a shorter smarter-assed (is that a word?) version of myself. Allow me to lay these three short stories on you so that can see where I am coming from. And as you read, just imagine, from afar my mother is sitting back and smirking knowing that she’s finally gotten her revenge on me.

 

Story 1:

I had off from work on March 8th because I was managing an assembly at Owen’s school. My husband happened to travel to Allentown for work that day. Owen had stayed home sick from school because he was running a fever. I left the house for an hour to head to Ross. When I got back home, it was around dismissal time. Owen and I waited for Gabby, but she was late. We thought that maybe her bus had some trouble, but after a short while, I started to panic. I texted my husband and asked if he had signed any permission slips for her to go anywhere, or if he knew of any trips she may have been going on. He didn’t respond. I tried to call the school, but no one was answering. Then I called the transportation department at the school – no answer. At this point, I was ready to call out the FBI, National Guard, have helicopters swooping with search lights and an amber alert called. I tried to remain as calm as humanly possible which wasn’t going well. I flew over to the school and flagged down the first adult I could find in the building (which was essentially a ghost town except for some kind sports practice going on inside of the gym). I really don’t even remember what kind of sport was being practiced, that is how upset I was at the time. The coach somehow managed to determine that my daughter was one of the children who participated in the Science Olympiad which was being held at Penn State Wilkes-Barre. He then called the instructor that was over at the school with the kids and confirmed that Gabby was indeed there. My heart attack turned into rage. I drove over to PSU WB where I found my daughter sitting in the bleachers with the rest of her class.

I mean, what’s my angle here for this parenting disaster? Do I scream at her in front of her friends for making me have a damn near panic attack? Do I ground her for the rest of her life and turn her off from participating in any extra-curricular activities? Do I just hug her and be grateful she’s somewhere safe? How do I handle this?

And to make matters worse (for me, not her) she won a damn medal! I am proud of her, yet SEETHING with rage.

She came in 4th place for one of the activities they participated in – I believe it had something to do with a hoverboard or hovercraft.

And the little shit was on TV for a few seconds.

I had a discussion with her teacher after I managed to find her in the crowd. Gabby was supposed to bring home a paper giving us all of the details of what was happening the day of this event (what to wear, when to be picked up, how much money to bring for lunch, etc) but, she never brought it home to show us, so neither my husband or I had any idea it was going on. I was perfectly fine with her participating, it was just a shitty way of finding out. It would have been nice to actually see her at the awards ceremony! Fricking kid.

 

Story 2:

We were just recovering from the fallout of story number 1, when THIS happened: My daughter decided to crawl out of her window.  Let me set up the story for you first before I tell you WHY she decided to do this. The Friday after story number 1 happened, 3/10, we got 6″ of snow. School canceled classes and both kids were home for the day. I was off and my husband was working from home. Owen decided to hang out in the basement and play video games, Rich was also working in the basement, I was watching TV in the living room and Gabby was in her room most of the day drawing and playing on her tablet. At some point, she decided that she wanted to go outside and play in the snow….which is fine. Except, rather than going through the people sized hole in the house (otherwise known as a door), she decided she wanted to go through the cubby sized hole in the house (otherwise known as the window in her bedroom). I am not sure the logic of leading up to this decision. She told me that she didn’t think we’d allow her to go out and play, so she took it upon herself to crawl out of her window. Her cunning plan had one huge flaw. She underestimated the height of the window from the ground and couldn’t get back inside. Another flaw: Instead of walking up to the people sized hole in the house and knocking on the door to be let back in the house, she decides to carry a huge outdoor chair across the yard and places it up against the side of the house and uses it as a ladder to crawl back inside. Now mind you, this all happened while she was wearing no coat or shoes and in broad daylight. I can only imagine what my neighbors were thinking.

And to top it off, rather than tell your parent about what stupidity you just have gotten yourself into face-to-face, you send it via text message, because of course.

I used to call her Houdini because she would manage to find a way to take off her poopie diapers without taking off her footie pajamas in her crib. It seems she’s graduated into houdining out of houses.  Ugh. I could literally just kill her. Not to mention that we don’t have health insurance for two months because of Rich changing jobs. Now is not the time to start working on scaling the facades of houses, kid.

 

Story 3:

This one is more of a icky girl problem thing and I’m sorry in advance of the TMI nature of the topic. BUT ANYWAY, last year, Gabby got a visit from the monthly crimson fairy for the first time. Now even at my age – 36 – I still hate and have issues with my monthly visitor. You’d think that over the years, handling it would become easier or second nature. YEAH NOT SO MUCH. I am barely able to deal with my menses, now I have a mini me walking around that I have to deal with as well. Needless to say, it hasn’t been a fun year for me.

Ooooh and does she get ever so moody every month. Slamming doors, back talking, correcting grammar, and fighting her brother. Although I can’t tell if it’s the PMS, the teenagerhood onset or the fact that SHE HAS ALWAYS BEEN THIS WAY SINCE SHE COULD TALK. But, I digress….

I noticed recently that we are going through jars of pickles like water. I usually buy the large jar of mini gherkins by Mt. Olive from the supermarket. Before kids, we could have that jar of pickles for weeks before finally killing it. Now, it’s like we could go through it in 3 days (maybe less). I know we all love the pickles, but really? As an experiment, I bought two of the large jars during a recent supermarket run. That lasted about a week. Finally at dinner one night I asked, where are all of these pickles going? I really wasn’t expecting to get an answer, but the sass queen volunteered that she was eating them all. Owen chimed in and said “YEAH SHE DOES EAT A LOT OF THEM WHEN SHE GETS HOME FROM SCHOOL!” After Rich yelled at her to stop eating so many of them because it would ruin her dinner, she informed us that her friends told her that eating pickles during your time of the month works better than chocolate because you won’t get zits. Who is perpetuating this rumor!? No chocolate!?! Whaaaaaat? I think I laughed so hard that I snorted. Is this something that they read in Seventeen or Cosmo?

Hence the title of this blog entry – PMS Pickles.

Period.


 

At this point, I think the warranty is up on this child and I lost the receipt to return her. I guess I’ll just have to float her up the river like Moses.

This parenting thing is for the birds.

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Cutting the Cord (Part 1)

By M Davies   /     Aug 13, 2016  /     Technology Hates Me  /     3 Comments

To quickly catch you up with what’s been going on in my life:  I have a child entering High School, I have another one entering 5th grade, I have a husband now working out of the house (he had been working from home since 2008) and I’m barely ever here.

 

That being the premise, I no longer have the need for a physical landline phone.  We held onto our Frontier phone service since moving from Lee Park (CLEC territory), although, we did not port our 570-270 number when we moved and opted for a new number entirely.  I’ve had the 570-477 number (ILEC territory) since 2008 and I don’t want to part with it.  Utility companies have it, the school has it, and many family members have it.  I would have started looking into VOIP solutions to port the number sooner, but we still needed the physical phone line for my husband to test dial-up modem shelves at his last job.  Yes, believe it or not, people in 2016 still have dial-up 56k v92 modem service.  Let’s all take a moment of silence to acknowledge their pain.

 

We good?  Ok.

 

Here’s a snapshot of my last phone bill (undoctored except to remove my personal information):

 

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54 dollars.  You read that right.  54 dollars for a phone that carries no features or long distance besides call forwarding to my cell phone and the unpublished number fee.  If you’ll notice, half of the cost of the actual service charges is paid to taxes and other miscellaneous service charges.  This line is connected to a telephone in the basement, that no one uses.  Once in a while, we move the RJ-11 cable to fax stuff.  That’s about the extent of our usage.

 

Every month, I may as well burn 54 dollars in my driveway.  I’m paying for something that I’m not using.  It’s actually the stupidest bill that I have.

 

I decided I would take a whack at Frontier’s customer service “churn buster” line to see if there was any promotions or credits I could earn for being a loyal customer.  I was told the only way to reduce the cost of this bill would be:  A) Bundle it with another service.  B) Drop the service level down to a “Lifeline.”  C) Sign a contract for 2 years.  Let’s explore these options…shall we?

 

A)  The bundling they are talking about would be including Internet or TV of some sort into my already outrageously sky-high telephone bill.  We already have Internet service through Blue Ridge Communications and are (for the most part) quite happy with it.  At the time when we moved in, it was the fastest and cheapest option available to us.  We tried the Frontier DSL, or I’m sorry, “HSI” for the allotted 30 days.  The speeds were appalling and similar to that of ISDN BRI.  It was unusable, so we had no choice, but to drop it.  The “TV” portion of the service that Frontier offered at the time was DISH network.  I previously had Directv.  I know it isn’t the same, but it kind of is….they always lock you in to a 2 year contract and its super expensive to get out of it should you choose to cut the cable.  We looked into Blue Ridge at that point and with the cable and fast Internet service bundled together, it was a no brainer.  Blue Ridge did offer us phone service, but after Irene happened and learning that their remote/head end did not have a DC battery back-up, it was not a feasible option for our needs.

B)  “Lifeline” is a telephone assistance program provided through the “Universal Service Fund” you pay in your monthly bill.  Families in need can receive a $10 stipend each month which is applied to their landline or cell phone bill.  There are income requirements, and you need proof of income to qualify for this program.  I am well without of the qualifications for this program.

C)  There is no way in hell I’m signing a contract for 2 years for a service I barely use now.  Period.  End of story.

 

The phone call ended with a courtesy credit of one month applied to my bill with a “thank you for not cancelling” line of bullshit.  I received my next bill with only a half month credit applied.  I don’t have the energy to wait on hold to argue with these people again, so I’ll just eat the other half of the credit, I guess.

 

I took to Facebook and talked with my network.  Most of my friends fell into one of these buckets:  ported the number to another service, got rid of the land line entirely, or bundled with another service.  I seriously considered trying to port the number to my already established Google Voice account, but it would require more work than I was willing to do.  Here’s the gist of it…Google Voice (which used to be called GrandCentral) won’t port landlines. Basically you would have to port the number to a burner phone and then once that is complete, port the phone number on the burner phone to Google Voice.  A lot of friends recommended magicJack.  I saw the commercials…I looks kinda chintzy.  Not that I’m opposed to cheap, but it seems like it needs a dedicated machine to always be plugged into to work…I am always carrying my laptop back and forth with me to places, so it’s just not a viable option.  There is Vonage, which we did try a long while ago while living in Lee Park, but it got expensive over the years.  They are now nickel and diming you to death like any other phone company would.

 

photo

 

After talking with a co-worker and reading for several hours, I discovered Ooma.  Ooma is another VOIP service similar to Vonage, but way cheaper.  My phone bill would end up being $4.99 (roughly) a month based on their savings calculator.  Basically you’re only paying the taxes on the number after some initial fees to purchase the equipment and port the number to the service.  Based on a cost analysis that I preformed on Frontier bill vs. Ooma, it would take 3 months for the service to “pay for itself.”  It was another no-brainer.

 

The equipment I ordered came with in 3-5 days of my phone order:

 

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Admittedly, I kinda dropped the ball getting everything installed at first because I was super busy with NEPA BlogCon stuff, but when I had a few minutes to actually sit and think, I was able to get it going with little to no effort.  The network device they had sent to us required a bit of IP address reconfiguring and NAPT to get it going.  It’s up and running as I write this blog post.  My request to move my 570-477 to this service is still pending, but should be complete shortly.  Once that happens, I can cancel Frontier completely out of my life for good.

 

So far, I’m happy with the service.  There’s nothing to complain about because as I said, I really don’t use my landline.  I rely on my cell phone for everything, but its a nice thing to have as peace of mind for my kids who may need to use it in an emergency situation.  That’s another thing to mention:  everyone freaks out about VOIP and 911 service and keeping your address on file up-to-date.  Ooma takes care of that for you.  If per chance, you move and forget to update your address, they forward your call to a centralized 911 center and then they can forward your call to the appropriate call center.  I’ll be honest with you though, there were a few times that I witnessed bad accidents and called our local 911 only to get a busy signal.  You’re only as strong as your weakest link in an emergency situation….this isn’t a dig, it just is what it is.  I understand 911 operators are overtaxed with overly asinine phone calls and make next to no money, so spare me the lecture.

 

Here’s a review of the service from CNET.

 

I think I’ll circle back around to this post in a few months to revisit whether or not I really think it is still worth it, but for now, it’s a great service and I’d recommend it as an option for anyone looking to cut the cord.  I could have really went more deeply with this post about the features that the service offers in the cost, but I have been up since about 2am, and I am exhausted.  That will have to wait for another time.

 

One final thought that came to my mind while writing this post and discussing cord cutting with friends:  It’s ironic that my husband had to go back and work for the company for me to realize we no longer need it’s services.  It just goes to show you how much the industry has changed in a measly 9 years.

 

The times.  They are a’changin’.

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Nightmare

By M Davies   /     Feb 11, 2016  /     Annoyances  /     11 Comments

Anyone who is a regular reader of my blog knows that I have the actual worst luck with vehicles.  The engines blow up, the interiors fall apart, or they just make noises that they shouldn’t.  This blog post isn’t about any of those things….at least this time.  This time, I want to spend some time talking about my windshield.

 

Rewind the clock to the end of January.  My husband’s car just stopped working.  It just turned off in the middle of driving.  It turns out some kind of pump failed in it.  Until it could be replaced, it was undriveable.  (Sidebar:  Is undriveable a word?  It is now!)  We shared my vehicle for the entire last week of January until the new pump part thingee arrived and could be installed.  I forget the reason, but he took my car to his dealership to check on something (or perhaps order the part)?  That’s when he noticed this:

 

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A crack had formed in my windshield on the driver side.  The crack was exactly at eye level (at least for me, a short person).  My husband texted me with the bad news.  SIGH.  More money into the money pit.  Two weeks prior to this, I had to get a new tire due to a pothole.  Prior to that, I had to get two new tires because my back tires were bald.  I started to call around for quotes.  It turns out my comprehensive deductible on my insurance is 500 dollars.  A new window costs 500 dollars.  Why bother using insurance at that point?

 

As I called around for quotes, I kept getting asked the same question:  Do you have a rain sensor?  I’ll be the first person to admit that I know next to nothing about cars, engines and vehicle stuff.  I would have to assume that I do not have a rain sensor because my wipers do not kick on when it rains.  To me, that’s what I would think a rain sensor would be.  Just to be sure, I wanted to call my dealer and double check.  If anyone would know, it should be them, right?  Wrong.  They have no idea what they sold me.  I then asked if they could look it up by VIN or if I could find it in my manual.  NOPE.  “Because the manual is generic” The only solution is to put 90 miles round trip on my car to go to the dealership for a 5 second inspection. Like, AYFKM?  I left a nasty voicemail for Chrysler. Yep, that’s right…Chrysler in Michigan. I already have an open case. We’re on a first name fuckin’ basis.  But that’s another story for another time.

 

Feeling helpless, I was left with no other choice to call my insurance agent and open a claim.  My hopes were that the crack could be repaired without the windshield needing total replacement since I was getting the runaround.  It seems a windshield repair is completely covered with my current insurance policy.  Replacement is not.  My insurance company contacted Safelite to come out and look at the windshield.  Safelite is their preferred window replacement provider.

 

The next day, Safelite came out and with one look determined a repair was out of the question.  The reason for this is that the crack went the entire way to the end of the windshield.  Once that happens, the windshield is unsafe and not repairable.  Fantastic.  A new windshield had to be ordered and they set up a follow-up appointment to install it.  The story doesn’t end here folks….it is just beginning.  Buckle up, because this ride is about to get bumpy.

 

Two days later, Safelite shows up to install my brand new $500 windshield.  Except there’s a problem.  It’s the wrong windshield.  Let me repeat that.  The wrong windshield.  It turns out the first guy that came out to attempt a repair wrote down the wrong type of windshield on the work order.  Guy #2 calls the office and explains the situation.  A new (correct) windshield is ordered, but it “has to come from the factory” and will take “2-12 days to arrive” because “my car is super rare.”  Fine.  Whatever.  Just tell me, Guy #2, is the windshield going to fall apart and smash on me when I’m driving?  Allegedly, it won’t because it’s made of multiple layers.  Fine….do what you need to do.  Blood pressure slightly elevated.

 

February 5th was the day that my $500 new-new windshield was supposed to be installed.  That is to say the correctly ordered one.  Guy #3 and Guy #4 show up.  They can’t install the windshield outside because it’s lightly flurrying so we allow them to use the garage.  Luckily it was cleaned out and organized due to the husband’s car pump installation.  The appointment was set for between 8am-12pm.  They called to say they couldn’t make it until 12-2pm.  I’m slightly annoyed because I had work early Saturday morning and needed to sleep to get back on schedule.  I ended up falling asleep and napping through their arrival and the installation.  I had no choice.  The work gets done and the bill is paid.  If I didn’t know any better, my car is in better shape now then it was when they first got there.  I had a new windshield, the glass was clean, the car was vacuumed.  I was impressed, though poorer.

 

I drove around with the new windshield on Saturday and Sunday.  I didn’t go anywhere on Monday and most of Tuesday.  When I left the house for work on Tuesday, it was lightly snowing, but at that point it wasn’t sticking to the roads.  It was clinging and melting to the grass, cars and surfaces.  I open my door to my car to drive to work around 2:45pmish and this is what I see:

 

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I had to do a double take because I didn’t believe what I was seeing.  All of the snow that was melting was dripping down directly from above my rear view mirror, into my light fixture, then down into my dashboard, down the front of my stereo and temperature controls and into my cupholder and cigarette lighter.  I don’t smoke, so I use it for a car phone charger as you can see.  Plugged into my stereo was my 6th gen iPod nano and it was sitting in nearly a half inch of dirty melted snow car water.  I just about lost my mind.  I quickly alerted my husband to what happened.  We stood there and watched water drip from my windshield down into my car in amazement.  Drip.  Drip.  Drip.  I rescued my iPod, the cables and a USB power inverter from the water, but it was too late.  It was already drenched.  The car charger cable still works, luckily.  I didn’t test the USB power inverter thing yet, but I bought it at Five Below so it’s really not a big deal.  The iPod doesn’t turn on.  I’m not sure about the old style apple cable that was connected.  That was the last type of cable I had like that and I shared it between that iPod and my iPad.  I put the iPod in a bag of rice, but I’m not holding much hope for that.

 

I called Safelite again to complain about the shoddy installation of the windshield.  Except this time I am yelling and cursing.  My cars circuitry is working for the moment, but how do I know this water damage doesn’t screw up something months from now?  My iPod doesn’t turn on.  WHAT.  ARE.  YOU.  GOING.  TO.  DO.  ABOUT.  IT.  The answer was hang up.  They hung up on me.  It’s not bad enough that they ordered the wrong windshield, broke an appointment and now ruined my car’s interior and my personal effects, now they’ve hung up on me to boot.  I call back AGAIN get a different rep on the phone and get transferred to the executive team who makes a follow-up appointment for yesterday.

 

Yesterday, Guy #3 from Friday and his boss show up.  I opened up the car and showed them where the water was leaking.  They take the windshield apart again and lo and behold, there’s a big section of glue missing from where the water was leaking.  They fixed everything and re-vacuumed my car.  I was told by the boss that I needed to produce a receipt from my iPod.  The iPod is years and years old.  Apple doesn’t make that model any more.  I’ve moved and reorganized and I do not have the receipt.  I don’t know if I threw it away or what, but I do not have it.  Once again, I call Safelite and explain the situation.  They talked with corporate and they are paying to get my car detailed as well as a new iPod.  I am just going to have to keep an eye on the circuitry.  I don’t know what to say or do about that until something breaks.

 

What bothers me the most about the iPod is not that it’s just an expensive piece of Apple gear that was ruined.  It’s the songs loaded on it that meant a lot to me.  I know it’s probably worth not more than 50 bucks today and it was probably a $199 device in it’s heyday at best.  The songs that are loaded on it were from a specific time period in my life when I was dealing with specific struggles, worries, fears and had specific goals and dreams.  The way that I felt when I listened to the music loaded on it cannot be replaced.  My hard drive has died at least twice since the last time it was synced.  I cannot re-sync it without iTunes wanting to format it and I don’t want to format it.  I have since upgraded to an SSD and travel less, so hard drive failure is longer an issue for me, but it’s still upsetting.  Lesson learned I guess.

 

Music to me is like photographs, poetry or art to other people.  It makes you feel a certain way, it triggers memories.  You cannot replace a piece of personalized property such as an iPod loaded with specific music from 3 hard drives ago.  I can’t just walk into Best Buy and say, can you please sell me the same exact iPod loaded with the same exact music?  Sigh.  I realize I probably sound like a child having a temper tantrum over this, but I don’t ask for many things.  Music is one of the few things that motivates me to do anything that I don’t want to do.  I listen to music when I clean, when I drive, when I’m getting ready in the morning, and throughout the day.  Literally, any other device I own could have been in that center console and I wouldn’t have cared.  My iPod hits where it hurts.  Look.  I admit it, I hate driving.  Listening to music was the one thing that made the experience somewhat enjoyable.  It also keeps me awake when I’m driving exceptionally early or ridiculously late.  Just ugh.  Starting over sucks.

 

I really do not want anything from this company.  I am happy they agreed to try to make things right, but it’s more of a principle thing at this point.  I kind of just want my car to go back to the way it was before this mess started, but unfortunately life does not come with a rewind button.  As if that all wasn’t bad enough, I get this in my e-mail:

 

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Salt in an open wound much, Safelite?  So, I’m going to fill out the survey and send them a link to this blog post.  Would I recommend this company to friends and family?  Hell no.  I think it would even be cruel to recommend them to my worst enemy.

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Who says you can’t go home?

By M Davies   /     Feb 07, 2016  /     Into the Void, Misc/Crap  /     2 Comments

*Cue that terrible Bon Jovi song*

 

In my travels recently, I found that the house where I spent most of my childhood went up for sale.  We moved from the place in Hanover Township in 1989 to the Poconos where I lived until 2000.  Out of sheer curiosity and sick fascination, I decided that I was going to pretend in being interested in buying the house just so I could take a tour of it and hash out some old memories (with regrets to the realtors and the seller).

 

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The outside of the house pretty much looks the same way I remember it.  It’s kind of an oddly shaped a-frameish house.  Standing on the porch is the realtor who was kind enough to show me the inside even though I had no intentions of buying.  The small box area with the rectangular window is where my playroom used to be.  Before that it was a porch.  My parents had it enclosed to add square footage (for my toys).  I knew this, but the realtor didn’t.  Before the yellow siding was installed, it had the ugliest mutli-colored asbestos siding.

 

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My Mom and I standing somewhere near the rock wall on Easter.

 

Facing the opposite direction is a hill with a lot of brush that looks into the yards of people that are a street (Strand Street) over.  Notice the neatly stacked rocks and bricks?  My grandfather ALWAYS did this.  Every house that my parents have lived in, he stacked rocks like this.  This area was used to store garbage cans, lawn tools and also had a dog pen.  Say hello to my Dad’s dogs Barney (the bloodhound) and Penny (the beagle).  They’re dead about three times over now and the dog pen is long gone.  I didn’t mean that to sound as morbid as it did.  I remember Barney to be a good dog.  Penny was a little psychotic.  She escaped several times and I think eventually was found and kept by a paper boy.

 

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Ahhhhh yes.  The mirrors.  Essentially the entire left most wall in the living room is one large mirror.  My Dad was a glazier, my grandfather was a glazier and my uncle was a glazier so this house is full of mirrors.  I was always fascinated with the design of the living room mirror.  It would catch the afternoon sun and reflect tiny rainbows on the floor.  While fascinating, it was obviously impossible to keep clean because of tiny fingers.  Mirrors are supposed to give the illusion of a room being larger than it is.  The room was a lot smaller than I remember it, but I am a lot bigger than the last time I stood in this spot.

 

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The 80s were a confusing time for interior decorating, apparently.  Here’s a look at the opposite side of the room then and now.

 

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The first photo is a little blurry, but it was me in my She-Ra: Princess of Power costume.  My parents weren’t the best photographers.  The wrought iron railing on the stairs has since been replaced with wooden railing and banisters.

 

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Here’s my old bedroom.  I thought it would be more exciting, but this is it.  See those two brackets on the wall near the window?  Two shelves used to be there.  They held ceramics that my grandmother made for me.  I also had two large clowns hanging on my wall.  I was terrified of them.  I am still terrified of clowns to this day because of those damn ceramic clowns.  It is said that if you don’t control your fears they control you.  I’ve since been to the circus with my children and have been ok.  I don’t like clowns, but I can deal.  Bees on the other hand.  No way in hell.  I will still scream bloody murder if one of those winged hell beasts comes near me.  The door leads to the old enclosed porch/converted playroom I talked about earlier.  It’s just a small room that has nothing more than a window and panelling.

 

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There are 3ish bathrooms inside the house.  One on each level.  I had to laugh at the upstairs bathroom though.  I specifically remember the purple sink and toilet from my childhood.  Good lord, it looks like they haven’t been updated since then (if not longer).  I don’t understand the appeal of bathroom fixtures that are any other color than white.  It’s just bizarre.  As I said before, the 80s must have been a confusing time for interior decorating.

 

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Remember what I said about the mirrors?  We’ve now headed down to the front room of the current-day basement.  There’s a mirror on the back wall and a mirror on the ceiling.  And, before you start filling your head with perverted thoughts, this is the spot where the pool table was.  There was a kick-ass chandelier hanging where the normal light fixture is now, but my parents took that with them to the new house.  There’s also mirrors along the staircase downstairs.  Mirrors obviously don’t photograph real well, so I’ll spare you.  For anyone who has ever wondered why it pains me to look at myself in a mirror can now know the true horror of walking around a house where you constantly are in a mirror somewhere.  Sometimes I don’t want to look at myself, thankyouverymuch.  Especially after I’ve just woken up.  No one needs to see that.

 

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And now we’re back upstairs in the dine-in kitchen.  I remember that my parents installed the chair rail right around the time we sold the house, but I have no recollection of this wallpaper (which is hideous).  I also have no recollection of the panelling that was there before that (bottom photo).  Panelling irks me in ways that cannot be described with words.  The only solution is to grab a sledge and take it out stud by stud to put it out of its misery.

 

That’s the end of the tour.  The house was rather small, as most city houses are.  The house met our needs for a specific period in time and then we outgrew it.  From my understanding by reading the info sheet, the same person that purchased the house from my parents still owns it to this day.  I am not sure of the reason for the sale.

 

It was a fun trip down memory lane and I’d have to say if you ever have the opportunity to see the house that you grew up in (assuming it isn’t the one you live in now) go and do it!  You never know what kind of memories it will trigger.  You may not be able to go home, but you can certainly remember it fondly.  Here are a few last minute photos that didn’t fit anywhere else…

 

Thanks for the memories 979 South Main!

 

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What happened to Jennie Monica?

By M Davies   /     Aug 20, 2015  /     Into the Void  /     14 Comments

I will preface this blog post with the following statement:  It may seem morbid.  My apologies.

 

A good part of my childhood summer vacations were spent at my Grandparent’s house.  After my Grandmother had triple bi-pass surgery in the early 90s, she was required to start walking more frequently.  It was supposed to help reduce the swelling of the surgery done to her leg to harvest the veins inside.  Ew, am I right?  Anyway, in order to add more steps to her exercise routine, my Grandfather would drive her up to St. Mary’s cemetery in Hanover Township, drop her off where the road started and pick her up close to where my Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather were buried.  I would go with her.  It’s always better to take walks with company because there is someone to talk to.  We’d take a variety of paths in the cemetery on our walks, but we’d always end up in the same place – by my Great Grandparents’ graves.

 

Every once in a while, we would walk by a particular grave and my Grandmother would purposely point it out.

 

“That’s the lady that was murdered” she would say.

 

I never really thought about it much, until recently when I was making a visit to the cemetery for some genealogical research.  I stopped at the grave and looked it and remembered what my Grandmother had told me.  Here’s a photo of said grave:

 

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And a close-up:

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The tombstone reads “She died rather than sacrifice her honor.  May she rest in peace.”  It seems to indicate something bad had happened to her prior to the murder, perhaps an assault or rape.  I had a sick fascination to find out what happened to Jennie who was taken away from her family at the young age of 20, so I turned to Google and Ancestry.com.  I didn’t think I’d find anything, but was shocked when I found a bunch of interesting information about what happened!  First, the death certificate:

 

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It’s kind of small, but the cause of death was listed as “From Gunshot wounds in the head.  One bullet entering the brain from the right cheek, and one entering and leaving the skull and lodging in the scalp.”  So my Grandmother was indeed right about the murder.  I did the math, my Grandmother would only have been 7 at the time this happened.  My Grandfather would have been 8.  It must have been a big news story at the time for her to remember something about it.  I decided to do a simple Google search to see what came back…

 

I found a listing in a page called “The Wilkes-Barre Almanac“:

 

One of the most horrible murders in the history of Luzerne County in a lonely spot near Pittston; two Wilkes-
Barre girls, Edith Fonzo and Jennie Monica found along the road shot and stabbed, with signs the girls had 
struggled fiercely.

 

I also found an old Times Leader article from 2007:

 

When the bodies of Wilkes-Barre residents Jennie Monica and Edith Fonzo were found along a road in Jenkins Township on June 2, 1927, no one could have known that 80 years later the case would remain a mystery. The two young women had gone on a double date the night before, The Times Leader reported. The slayings remain among Luzerne County’s few unsolved murders.

 

And then I hit the jackpot when I stumbled across the American Mafia Yahoo Group page:

 

The bodies of Genevieve (Jennie) Monica, 19, and Edith Fonzo (or
Fonza), 20, were found at an abandoned mine near Pittston on the
morning of June 2, 1927. Police believed the women, who were cousins,
had been sexually assaulted. One of the women was shot to death. The
other was beaten with a club.

A Chrysler sedan reportedly used by the girls’ attacker(s) was found
abandoned in a “mine cave hole.” The car belonged to a 33-year-old
Pittston man named Carmel Marranca. Carmel said he lent the car to
his brother Samuel (married with two children) the previous evening.
Carmel reported the car stolen early on June 2.

Samuel could not be found immediately, and he became the prime
suspect. A few men, who said they were with him on June 1, told
authorities they saw Samuel and another man pick up the two women.
Those men said they left Samuel at about midnight, while he and the
other man were still in the car with the women. Edith Fonzo’s sister,
Vera, informed police that the women had a date to meet two men at an
amusement park at Rocky Glen that evening. State police combed
through the local Italian neighborhoods looking for the suspect.

Police records indicated that Samuel Marranca had also been a suspect
in a somewhat similar murder in November, 1926. Another 19-year-old
woman, Jennie Visato, was killed at that time.

By June 4, the newspapers reported that two men had been arrested in
Buffalo in connection with the murders. One of them was Samuel
Marranca. Police continued to search for a man named John Falcone.
Police also arrested 24-year-old Carmine Melletti on June 6, and
charged him with being an accessory.

 

Hold up…first let’s go back to Ancestry.com and look up Edith Fonzo, Jennie’s cousin…

 

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It appears that Jennie’s mother and Edith’s mother’s were sisters which makes the cousin statement in the American Mafia board’s post true.  The cause of death for Edith is listed as “Fracture of the Skull, caused by a blunt instrument.  And gunshot wound.  The bullet entering the left side of the neck and passing thru the neck to the surface of the right side.  Murder.”  That also matches up with the cause of death in the American Mafia’s board.  I would have to say that post is accurate and take it to be fact.

 

My next stop was the Osterhout Library News Archive.  You can search their database of several local newspaper online from anywhere.  All you need is a library card number!  The Times Leader article from 2007 says that the murders were still unsolved.  Why would that be if people were charged (as stated in the American Mafia Board post)?  Well first let’s start with the days immediately following the murder.  The men did flee the area.  An article from the Sunday Independent says that there was a man hunt that stretched across two states – PA and NY.

 

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Of the three men wanted by authorities, Merletti seemed to be the dumb one of the group.  He returned to Wilkes-Barre a few days after the murders took place.  I would love to know why he thought that returning to the area would be a good idea after the brutal nature of this crime, but I digress… not the sharpest tool in the shed, apparently.  The next part of my research was done at Newspapers.com.

 

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Here’s a sensationalist article from the Scranton Republican at the beginning of the Merletti trial:

 

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I found an article in the The Wilkes-Barre Record from September 17, 1927 that said that Merletti (spelled Merletto in this article) was acquitted of being an accessory after the fact, and Falcone and Marranca were never found.

 

Merletto

 

I can’t imagine where John Falcone and Sam Marranca could have ended up.  There was hardly a mention of them after this trial was over.  Did the police give up and stop looking?  It’s all so sad.  Two young girls dead and no real justice for it.  I will give pause every time I pass Jennie’s tombstone when I visit my Grandparents in St. Mary’s cemetery.  I wonder if my Grandmother ever thought that I’d sit and research this much into a thing she said to me in passing.  I never thought I would, but it was an interesting journey nonetheless.

 

Rest in peace Jennie and Edith.

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