Thursday, June 23, 2011


    Entertaining three grandsons for the day was a delightful time.   We hiked nature trails, played miniature golf and of course ate a lot both for dessert and for lunch.   Carson is 14, Cole is 12 but almost 13 and Turner the youngest of the three is 9 soon to be ten.  These youths have a mega amount of energy and set a pace on the trail far faster than their geezer grandpa.   At least I got my exercise today just trying to keep up with them.
    Playing with the grandsons for the day gave me a chance to explore things in the area that I might not otherwise have visited.   The Lime Hollow Nature Center has many interesting trails and exhibits almost in my backyard.   Our visits today will inspire me to go back to explore more of the trails.   We are fortunate to live in a glaciated area where one can find bogs, ponds, eskers and other geological features.   In addition there are a multitude of unique flora and fauna to observe.   One of the pictures below illustrates a pond full of Canada Geese raising their young.   The discovery of wild strawberries along the trail added to the pleasures of the day.
The Pond and Geese
The  Observers
Happy Conclusion

    I don't know if they appreciated my stories of when I was a boy but it is a geezer's prerogative to reminisce.   They were shocked by my stories of 25 cent milkshakes and 10 cent ice cream cones.     I grew up with no phone in the house and they have their personal cell phones and electronic games.   In spite of the technological changes the bonding of the generations remains the same.   We are family.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jello and Plows

   We have a number of day vacations planned for the summer.   Exploration of interesting museums, sites and attractions within a day's drive is on our agenda.   Yesterday we were off to the Jello Museum in LeRoy, New York.    It was beautiful day to drive through rural central New York of the Fingerlakes area.   I enjoyed observing the newly planted fields and the rural scenery of lakes, hay fields and pastures.
   We had a tasty lunch at the Depot Restaurant which was housed in the old LeRoy railroad station.   Train destinations were posted in German as part of the decor and a round model train track was fastened to the ceiling.   All in all  a striking ambiance with excellent food and service.
The Deport Restaurant
   After lunch we were off to the LeRoy House and the Jello Museum on the main street of the village.  The LeRoy house had been built by one of the founders of the village and purchaser of the triangle tract of land of 96,000 acres stretching from LeRoy village up to Lake Ontario.   The point of triangular tract was near LeRoy.   It is a magnificent period home that had grown as the family grew to 10 children.   We exited from the LeRoy house to the rear gardens and on to the adjacent Jello Museum.
Entrance to the Jello Museum
   I can't imagine anyone that doesn't like Jello!   The story of the invention of Jello and the fate of it becoming a ubiquitous dessert was well illustrated in the museum.   The details slip my mind now but it is fascinating that this product has become a world wide icon.    Several giants of entertainers have been spokespersons for this product.   Many geezers will remember Jack Benny introducing his radio show with the opening phrase, "Jello everybody".   And Bill Cosby has been a commercial representative for Jello for over 32 years.   Apparently Cosby's run is the longest in history.   Jello ads have graced numerous major magazines and the art in these ads is known worldwide and even includes illustrations by Norman Rockwell.
   Perhaps the greatest surprise of the day for me was visit to the transportation history display in the basement of the Jello Museum.    As I entered the display I was stunned to see a plow display for the Leroy Plow Company.   Since I recently have been lecturing on the evolution of the plow and working with antique plow models I am tuned into the role of the plow in the development of our nation.   It was an amazing find to view the LeRoy Plow Company history and learn that this LeRoy, New York company had manufactured as many a 25,000 plows a year and remained in business even through World War II.  
   I expect that I will be delighted to find more interesting things in the remainder of our day vacations.  It is nice to know that we can discover wonderful things near to our home.

LeRoy PLow Company Shovel Plow


Friday, June 10, 2011

Geezer Tennis

   Yesterday I participated in the 2011 New York State Senior Games held in Cortland.   For many years I have played both in the men's singles and men's doubles tennis competition in my age bracket.   It is a fun time and winning a medal adds some satisfaction to the activity.   Yesterday was a blistering hot day.   Unfortunately I melted in the heat and had to retire from my singles match after one set.   Early in the set I had it all going for me and was leading 5-2 when I began to lose my energy and my edge.  I ended up losing the first set 7-5.   Rather than extending my agony and perhaps damaging my health,  retiring was the wise thing to do.  Walt Schoonaker played well and certainly had the stamina to stick with it.   Congratulations to Walt for winning the gold medal in his final match with Viktor.    It was a thin field in our age group this year and my nemesis over the years, Dave Shannon withdrew for some unknown reason so by default I did get the bronze medal.
     Seth Burgess and I played in the men's doubles in the afternoon and we were soundly beaten at 6-2 and 6-0 in that match against Fred and Al.   Our bracket spanned ages 70 to 87 so the pairings often had more senior people matched against younger opponents.   Seth and I out aged our opponents by about 5 years.   No excuse though.  Fred and Al had played together for many years to their advantage in our contest.   This was the first year for Seth and me so we are on a learning curve.   We look forward to another year after we have developed our team skills.
    The Senior Games is a wonderful activity and we are grateful that Cortland stepped up to support the games after the State of New York exited due to budget difficulties.    No matter what our age many of us still enjoy competing with our peers in athletic endeavors.   Win or lose,  the participation in itself is sufficient reward.   I feel so fortunate to have learned tennis  when I was 9 years old.   Tennis can be a life long activity that can be cross-generational fun.   In our family children and grandchildren can be on the courts with us.   And we all have a great time.

Gerry With Medal and Other Geezers

Walt- Gold Medal : Viktor - Silver Medal

Warm Up Time


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Plow Boy

    Lately I have been immersed in plow history and dealing with models of plows.   Over the past two years I have refurbished a historic collection of model plows acquired by the first president of Cornell University Andrew D. White in 1868 at the direction of Ezra Cornell.   Along with the refurbishing of the physical models  I have translated from German into English an annotated original model plow directory.   At the invitation of the Cornell Association of Professors Emeriti I presented an illustrated lecture on this collection along with a discussion of a more than 5000 year evolution of the plow at their April meeting.   This lecture was videotaped and now is available on line on YouTube as well as through Cornell.   This has been an interesting interlude in my geezerhood activities.   At this point my colleague J. Robert Cooke assisted by others is finalizing the plow project which will be published on Cornell's eCommons.   Anyone interested in this activity can view this project through the following links.  These are early versions so you may want to go to the eCommons library for the latest version.   The manuscript and supporting materials are reaching their final edit and we look forward to the completion of the project.

 Youtube - <>
CornellCast - <>
eCommons – <

    During this project I was reminded that Jethro Wood of Scipio Center, New York in Cayuga County was the inventor of the interchangeable parts cast iron plow.   This past Monday on a Memorial Day outing I visited the site of Wood's invention and his home.   It was gratifying to see the historical markers erected by the State of New York and also to see his very well preserved home.   Although I left the farm I grew up on nearly 60 years ago and have had a long academic career in engineering, there certainly are strong agrarian roots remaining in my life.   Maybe I am still a plow boy at heart.
Jethro Wood the Storekeeper Inventor

Jethro Wood Home Site Marker

Jethro Wood's Well Preserved House