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Author Topic: Hi, I'm Todd. Welcome to my world . . .  (Read 35020 times)
Oldcarsarecool
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« on: November 24, 2011, 12:36:38 PM »

Most of you probably know that I am not exactly a "New Member."  Over the last couple of years here at TAL, I've made a couple of comments, posted a few pictures, and penned some of my more interesting exploits.  I have also hinted previously that I have a bunch of stuff I waiting in the wings.  But, I seem to FAIL miserably at putting fingers to keyboard in a timely manner.  I am trying, however.  So, I ask for patience from everyone while I attempt to make some progress.  This thread is the first step in that process.

As the title implies, contained herein is a glimpse into my exceptionally nondescript life.  My master plan for this thread involves presenting a tidbit from my past here and there along with an accompanying story.  For example, with my Mom's passing this past April, I now have all of her old photos and assorted memorabilia.  Her massive collection of pictures covers several generations of relatives.  I’ve got some pretty interesting stuff.  

The Christmas portrait of my grandmother and her siblings from 1910 is pretty cool, as are the couple of pics of my great-grandmother as a child in the late 1800s.  In the early 1960s, my Dad was involved in local politics in Blair County, Pennsylvania.  I have a bunch of pics, campaign stuff, and other assorted goodies from that time period.  I have my Mom's and Dad's high school yearbooks from 1948 (Dad), and 1955 (Mom), and my grandmother's yearbook from 1922.  Dad kept a couple of photos of some of the cars he owned over the years.  And, there are also the requisite "family vacation" photos from days of old.  

One of my favorite items is the collection of newspapers.  Mom kept clippings, photos, or sometimes the whole paper from whatever was significant for the times.  But, the news, itself, isn't what I am excited about.  I like looking at things like the store advertisements, classified ads, car dealership ads, and other local happenings.

So for now, I'm going to start off small and go from there.  As I go through/scan stuff, I'll update this thread as appropriate .  .  .
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Oldcarsarecool
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« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2011, 12:37:32 PM »

“Did you hear something ?”
December 10, 1998





In 1998, my almost-wife and I lived in the small village of Lakemont.  From a legal standpoint, Lakemont is an area within Logan Township, Blair County in Pennsylvania, and not part of the City of Altoona.  But everyone in Lakemont has an Altoona mailing address making it just another neighborhood at the southern end of the city.  

Not a lot happened in Lakemont in those days.  Lakemont Park, (an amusement park that is home to the Leap-The-Dips, the world's oldest operating roller coaster), had been a fixture since 1894, but was beginning to recover from the hard times of the previous few decades.  The Altoona Curve baseball team, (the double-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates), had not arrived yet, (we would have to wait one more year).  And all the shopping was either in the City of Altoona, or in other areas of Logan Township.  

This lack of activity translates into inexpensive housing and not much in the way of traffic.  It also means that Lakemont isn't what you would call a "desirable" neighborhood.  Think of it as a neighborhood that “exists” rather than expands or grows.

I don’t remember anything about my day at work on Wednesday, December 9, 1998.  If I had to guess, I would speculate that my day went something like:  Get up, go to work, come home from work, and go to sleep  -  nothing new, nothing exciting, nothing different.  It was after the “go to sleep” step, however, where the fun began.

That “fun” began around 3 AM on Thursday December 10, 1998.  The unbelievably loud KABOOM that woke us up quite suddenly from a sound sleep resulted in some semi-coherent thoughts along the lines of "what happened" and is this real or a dream.”  The digital clock was blank which lead me to believe the power was out, and thereby swaying me toward “real.”  The expected conversation between us began:  “What was that ?”  “I don’t know.”  “Sounded like something blew up.”  “I think the power is out.”

The mind begins to resume something that passes for normal operation after a minute or so which allowed me to decipher that the power was, indeed, out.  I also came to the conclusion that we heard something blow up somewhere in the neighborhood, probably a power transformer atop one of the poles nearby.  But why am I thinking that this noise didn’t just go “boom” and stop ?  It seemed to linger for quite a while.  

Hmmmmm.

The middle of the night silence was then interrupted by the fire siren from nearby Lakemont Volunteer Fire Company.  This is a signal to all the local volunteers to get to the station.  After another minute or two, emergency vehicle sirens could be heard in the distance, A LOT of them.  I put on my robe and walked outside to find my next door neighbor, John, also outside along with the neighbor across the street.  

Hmmmmm.  

Looking north toward the park and “Lakemont Hill,” (PA Route 36), I could see flashing lights.  Now I’m thinking that we are dealing with a car accident that took out an electrical pole.  But the image of a car hitting a utility pole down by the park did not match the kaboom I heard.  

Hmmmmm.  

Oh well, standing outside in my robe in the middle of December in central Pennsylvania re-focused my priorities pretty quick.  Whatever happened, we’ll hear about it on the news in the morning.

And, what was “the news ?”  At roughly 3 AM on Thursday morning, December 10, 1998, the now closed Boardwalk Restaurant exploded, and I mean EXPLODED  !  !  !





In the photo above, you are looking northbound on PA Route 36 as it passes through the village of Lakemont.  Logan Blvd., as it is known, is the main thoroughfare from Hollidaysburg to Altoona.  Lakemont Park would be at the very top of the photo toward the right.  From where the photo was taken, my home would be one block behind and 5 blocks to the right.  Out of view to the right in this picture is a bunch of debris hanging from the electric lines that cross the roads in the area.





The destroyed building on the left is the former Boardwalk Restaurant, which had been closed for a while.  Recent news from the time suggested someone was planning to renovate and open a business there.  I don’t remember any more how finalized the potential tenant’s plans were, or what the timeline for the renovations was.  But, I do remember that earlier in the week, the local natural gas company had turned the previously shut off service back on.  Unfortunately, whoever turned the gas on didn’t check inside the building.  Otherwise, the uncapped line would have been found.

Well, we found it, alright.

The home next to the Boardwalk, (with the green-ish roof next to the big pine tree), was blown a full foot off its foundation.  However, the guy sleeping on the couch at the time only suffered minor injuries.  Every building in the immediate vicinity had its windows blown out.  Some of homes near me sustained more damage than you would think being more than 5 blocks away.  And, I want to say that the newspaper reported that the explosion was heard in Tyrone, PA about ½ hour to the north.

So, what did I do on Thursday morning ?  I grabbed my video camera and headed down to the scene.  And, as soon as I figure out how to get from “HDMI out” on my DVD player to “Firewire in” on my computer to convert the VOB files, I’ll post my vid .  .  .
« Last Edit: March 09, 2016, 01:20:02 PM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2011, 07:21:22 PM »

Still working on the vid for the Boardwalk explosion.  There is no direct conversion from HDMI to Firewire.  So at this point, I have two choices.  I can take the DVDs of my home movies, copy the VOB file, then convert it to something Windows Movie Maker can use, like AVI.  However, I need to find a VOB file converter that actually produces a good quality conversion.  And, the VOB files on the DVD are quite large, up to 1 Gig.  My poor Toshiba laptop is struggling to process everything, and WMM keeps freezing with a file that large. 

Or, I could head to Ebay and look for a used Hi8 movie camera that has a Firewire digital output.  That way, I could use the original footage from the Hi8 tape I made in 1998 and copy what I need right to my computer, which would be a lot happier with the file size. 

I'm currently trying another file converter.  So, we'll see what happens .  .  .
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Oldcarsarecool
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« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2011, 07:37:39 PM »

What's happening around town .  .  .
November 6, 1963





Just a reminder to everyone  -  If you have any "Explosive Wartime Souvenirs," DO NOT dispose of them in the local landfill .  .  .





I need to get a few long-sleeve shirts for the winter.  Murphy's in Hollidaysburg is having a sale.  While I'm there, I'll get some Christmas Cards .  .  .





After that, I'll stop at the grocery store on the way home.  Quaker has Porterhouse and T-Bone steaks on sale for $0.89 per pound !





Over the weekend, I'll check out the new Volkswagens that are hitting dealer's showrooms right now .  .  .


« Last Edit: March 09, 2016, 01:20:37 PM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2011, 09:59:57 PM »

Boardwalk Restaurant update !
December 10, 1998





After much experimentation, I finally managed to get a video uploaded of the Boardwalk Restaurant explosion.  It's not the best quality video I've ever seen, (especially compared to the DVD it came from).  But, you get the general idea.


<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVRQGoYUG1w" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVRQGoYUG1w</a>


The building was in the process of being sold.  Since it was vacant, the natural gas was turned off.  In preparation for renovations, it was turned back on during the day on Tuesday, Dec 8.  That's fine, except nobody checked inside the building.  Otherwise, the uncapped line would have been found.  The Altoona Mirror reported that natural gas poured into the building unobstructed for 35 hours.

This photo is of the inside of the house (I think) 2 doors north of the building, (toward the park) .  .  .


« Last Edit: March 09, 2016, 01:20:59 PM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2011, 11:15:37 PM »

Can't wait to read this thread. Such good entertainment.  butt rock
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« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2011, 12:17:27 PM »

What's happening around town .  .  .
November 6, 1963





Just a reminder to everyone  -  If you have any "Explosive Wartime Souvenirs," DO NOT dispose of them in the local landfill .  .  .




Weston looks like he is constipated. Grenades will do that to you.


I need to get a few long-sleeve shirts for the winter.  Murphy's in Hollidaysburg is having a sale.  While I'm there, I'll get some Christmas Cards .  .  .




I agree. Christmas cards bargains, FTW.

Those broad cloth bras. I wonder if they come in DD size (Not for me .. Nancy).

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Oldcarsarecool
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« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2011, 01:16:39 PM »

If they do, I wonder if they will cost more than $0.77.  You may want to prepare Nancy for this .  .  .
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Oldcarsarecool
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« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2011, 12:54:54 PM »

Let's go shopping .  .  .
October 21, 1954





It looks like Paul's Market on 7th Avenue has Rib Roast on sale for $0.39 per pound, which is cheaper   than Sirloin Steak, $0.59 per pound.  Rib-Eyes cheaper than Sirloins ?  The exact opposite is true today.

Does anyone have a Beer Distributing Business they want to sell ?  

I think I'll go check out the new 1955 Dodge line-up .  .  .





Death had some strange ways of occurring.  The woman on the top right "Expires at Home," which I liken to what a gallon of milk does when you leave it in the 'fridge too long.  The woman on the bottom center was "Called by Death."  I wonder how Death got her number .  .  .





Since I always keep my eyes open for a bargain, I think I'll check out the local dealers this weekend .  .  .





There's a lot of cool stuff on this page.  Notice that a majority of the cars for sale at the local dealers cost less than $1,000, with most being only a few model years old.  However, considering the average income at that time was less than $4,000 annually, I don't know if I would call these cars "cheap."

As for who's who .  .  .

~  Good Chevrolet (bottom right), changed hands several times and is now Dean Patterson Chevrolet.
~  Mierley Motor Company (bottom left) was a fixture in the Altoona community for a long time.  It started as a Nash/Hudson dealership in 1949.  As Nash, Hudson, and Rambler evolved into American Motors, so did Mierley Motor Company.  Mierley sold Ramblers, then AMCs, then Jeeps and Eagles, then Renaults.  When AMC went away, Mierley acquired the local Lincoln Mercury franchise.  Later on, Swope Lincoln Mercury operated out of that same address.





I grew up 2 blocks away from this place.  My Mom bought her new 1993 Lincoln Town Car from Mierley.  This building is in use today, and looks almost exactly the same way as in the above photo.
~  Beasley Motor Company (top center of the newspaper ad), evolved into what is now Courtesy Ford Lincoln Mercury.  Over the years, the dealership changed hands a few times  -  Jack Beasley Ford L-M, Beasley-Rothrauff Ford L-M, and Rothrauff Ford L-M.  When my Uncle got out of the business, I want to say the franchises were split into Altoona Ford and Mierley Lincoln Mercury, (from above).  But, I'm not 100 percent sure of this.  Altoona Ford became Courtesy Ford, then Courtesy Ford Kia, then Courtesy Ford L-M Kia as it operates today.  I worked at Courtesy Dodge Nissan, which is owned by the same people .  .  .
« Last Edit: March 09, 2016, 01:21:30 PM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2011, 10:40:59 PM »

I love reading stuff like that, so interesting (and quite shocking as well when compared to what we see today).
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Oldcarsarecool
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« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2011, 01:22:33 AM »

You and me both !  True story .  .  .

My first wife has three sisters, one of whom used to be married to a contractor.  Rick did a lot of work to my home right after my first wife and I got married.  He also did a lot of side work with his brother.  One of these side jobs was on a home in an older section of Altoona.  Now, 50-60 years ago, it was common practice for newspapers  to be used under flooring and behind walls as a vapor barrier.  Rick was taking up a really old floor and found a bunch of newspapers from that time period.  He saved as many random pages as he could and, knowing I love stuff like that, gave them to me.  After I looked through them, I gave them to Mom and Dad.

My Mom and her next door neighbor, Deborah, were the best of friends, (Deborah served as my eyes and ears with regard to Mom's cancer illness and passing).  Knowing that Deborah liked old newspapers, Mom and Dad gave them to her after they finished reading through them.

The next day, Deborah called Mom on the phone crying.  In one of the random newspaper pages from many years ago, Deborah found her own birth announcement !   

That has to be the weirdest, out-of-nowhere coincidence I have ever seen .  .  .
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« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2011, 12:54:16 PM »

Thats some cool stuff! Oh to go back with a pocket full of cash.
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Oldcarsarecool
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« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2011, 11:48:59 PM »

One of history's darker days .  .  .
April 5, 1968





Dr. Martin Luther King's murder on April 4, 1968 made newspaper headlines all over the world on April 5.  Johnstown, Pennsylvania's Tribune Democrat was no exception.


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« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2011, 01:19:39 AM »

An Altoona, PA landmark burns .  .  .
December 17, 1994





The morning of Friday, December 16, 1994 began in a normal manner, that is, until my first wife and I turned on the TV to check out the morning news before we left for work.  All the local programs were being interrupted to present "Breaking News."  The Logan Valley Mall, an Altoona, PA landmark since 1960, had caught fire during the early morning hours, and was still on fire as we left the house.  As the day progressed, the story hit the newswires statewide, and media coverage became quite prominent.  The Saturday, December 17 1994 edition of the Altoona Mirror published photos of the event.





The above front page photo is actually of the back of the mall.  The fire started in Murphy's department store, which was located where the fire truck at the bottom of the photo is spraying water.  The garage bay doors on the bottom left, next to what was Murphy's, were from the former Miller's Auto Center, (think of Miller's as an older version of a Pep Boys).  The old J.C. Penney logo can be seen on the brick building on the bottom right.  The building at the top center of the photo, (with the 4 large rooftop a/c units), was the Logan Valley Mall Cinemas movie theater.  The white-ish building on the extreme top left is the edge of Sears.  

As the photo shows, the fire damage was contained to the center part of the building, from Murphy's to Penney's to the movie theater.  However, the smoke and water damage spread all the way through Penney's and the other direction to Sears, (although not as much).  This part of the building is what was referred to as "the old mall," or the original structure from 1960.  In 1978, a large addition was added out of view to the right.  "The new mall" was, for the most part, untouched by the chain of events.

The pile of debris n between the movie theater, (white-ish building, top center), and the brick wall of Penney's was where my Dad's travel agency used to stand.  However, by this time, the agency had already changed hands twice, and moved twice.  So, we weren't affected by any of this.  

This photo is of the front of the mall.





From this angle, Penney's is on the left, the movie theater with the 4 rooftop a/c units is in the center, and Mall Food Court is the white building on the right.  This photo appears to have been taken much earlier than the front page photo.  Here, the Mall Barber Shop, (the brick structure immediately to the left of the movie theater), is still standing.  Immediately behind the barber shop was where the travel agency used to sit.  If I remember right, there was some sort of sports memorabilia store in that location at the time of the fire.

In this case, I give Penney's the "Best Use of What You Have" award.  After things calmed down, Penney's was left with an entire store full of smoke and water damaged merchandise.  When the "What do we do with all this stuff" question came up, Penney's management said "SELL IT !".  So, in the weeks following the mall fire, Penney's held a giant, "Fire Sale."  If it wasn't tied down, it was sold for pennies on the dollar, no pun intended.  And, if it was tied down, it was cut free and then sold.  Do you need a metal clothing rack, or a 10+ foot tall shelving unit, or a glass display case ?  Penney's had it and would sell it to you dirt cheap.  EVERYTHING IN THE BUILDING was sold.  The old saying that people will buy anything if it's cheap enough was definitely verified here.

It is at this point where I give the "You're Kidding Me, Right .  .  ." award to Walmart.  The story goes like this:  All the Fire Sale clothing from Penney's was marked in some way, (I can't remember how any more, but a big "x" on the tag comes to mind).  People were taking the stuff they bought dirt cheap at Penney's and trying to return it to Walmart for a full-price refund.    Ok, scammers will try anything once.  However, according to my first wife who worked there at the time, Walmart was so fixated on their customer satisfaction policy that they initially accepted the stuff !  I don't remember how long this went on before the light bulb came on.  But, I want to say that this "free money" promotion actually lasted a couple of weeks before someone questioned the idea .  .  .
« Last Edit: March 09, 2016, 01:23:57 PM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2011, 11:07:29 AM »

Man, that gas explosion reminds me of San Bruno, a town south of San Francisco that had 50 houses completely explode or incinerate:
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JS4cxNFQT0I" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JS4cxNFQT0I</a>
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