Category Archives: Hodgepodge

Roy Hodge, Columnist - Roy began his career at The Fulton Patriot in February of 1959 as a linotype operator.  During his long career, he performed every newspaper job — from paper delivery to editor and publisher. He has entertained readers with tales of his family’s antics and many interesting Fulton residents in his long-running “Hodgepodge” column. Roy retired from The Fulton Patriot in June of 2010.

Hodgepodge: Road trippin’ part two, a spot of tea, and squiggly lines

Trip Leftovers

When we left home for our trip to Virginia, we had a box of Hostas from our garden to take to son Craig.

Craig and Penny have many beautiful gardens all around their home in Roanoke, and have sent me home from past visits with many plants from their gardens.

When I gave the Hostas to Craig, he said he was going to share them with his friend, Byron (Bubba to me), for the gardens at his home.  Craig reminded me he is pretty sure that I have some beautiful orchid Irises from Bubba’s mother’s garden growing in my garden.

One last note: I’m not sure how some of those Hostas ended up in my garden in the first place. Is it possible that some of them came from Virginia? Continue reading

Hodgepodge: Road trippin’

As we drove to Roanoke, Virginia last weekend to attend grandson Camden’s college graduation at Radford University in Radford, Va., I was reminded of other trips.

I did some checking when we got home.

Captive in a Car

In December 1984, my column reviewed a trip to Roanoke to spend Thanksgiving. That trip made me realize that spending 10 hours in a car together could possibly be one of life’s worse fates for four people. Continue reading

Hodgepodge: Congratulations, Camden Hodge!

A Little Hodgepodge

As a testimony to how swiftly time escapes us, the following was part of this column on October 18, 1992:

There’s a new little Hodgepodge in our lives these days. Courtney is a proud big sister. The new little brother arrived almost on schedule last month in Roanoke, Va.

His name is Camden Stephen Hodge, our first grandson. Camden weighed in at 9 pounds, 11 ounces.

A hefty, healthy kid, he was able to play two quarters with the local football team the next day. (Just kidding, it was really only a couple of plays.) Continue reading

Hodgepodge: Sixth-grade memories

Remembering

It’s true: when you start remembering and thinking about things that happened in years past, it is hard to stop. And that’s what I found myself doing one day this past week.

I was thinking about my teachers when I went to McKinley Elementary School, and the organized thinker that I am (insert muffled chuckle here), I started at the beginning and kept going, from my first teacher on.

My kindergarten teacher was Mrs. Salmon (that sounds fishy – maybe it was Mrs. Sammons – that sounds better).  I remember Mrs. Tierney, Mrs. Hart, Miss Colbert, Miss (or was it Mrs.) Carrigan, and a few others.

One thing I am sure of – all of my teachers in elementary school were women.

One of the few men on the McKinley School staff was Mr. George. (Not Mr. George Something, but Mr. Something George). Mr. George was our principal.

Mr. George was a pleasant, friendly man and I liked him most of the time. The one time that I didn’t like him so much was the afternoon that I was introduced to his paddle.

That afternoon Mr. George took his paddle off the nail on his office wall and used it for a couple of whacks on my behind. Those were the days when corporal punishment was allowed in the principal’s office.

I had been turned in after I threw a snowball at one of the little girl crossing guards on the way back to school after lunch.

That episode aside, Mr. George was an interesting principal and I liked him. He raised bees and brought some of them to school. He showed them to us at assemblies, along with little jars of their product, which we could buy.

Mr. George was also a talented film maker. He directed and filmed a cinematic masterpiece called “The Haunted Schoolhouse,” which featured our school building and its janitors in a Halloween tale shown every year to classroom after classroom of McKinley students.

There were a couple of other men at McKinley School. They included two janitors and also a gym teacher who came to our school once or twice a week.

He guided us through an hour of running around the gym, trying to climb a huge rope suspended from the ceiling and tossing wooden “Indian pins” around.

One of the janitors was Mr. Kenyon. I remember the janitors’ little office. It was tucked in between the furnace and the boys’ lavatory in the school’s cavernous basement.

Vintage Hodgepodge

(These paragraphs are from the Hodge-podge column of January 26, 2002.)

A few weeks before Christmas I was with my wife at one of those perfect kind of places that have a lot of stuff to look at.

Some new stuff, but a lot of old stuff – things that still smell like the attic or cellar where they’ve been since they fell into the “not particularly useful, but way too good to throw away” category – probably many years ago.

When we go to those kinds of places we tend to wander off in different directions. She gravitates toward the sewing stuff – spools of thread, thimbles, buttons, old lace, or swatches of material.

That day I wandered around the store, looking at everything, stopping to investigate a few things. I stopped to browse through a couple of old books, but I didn’t buy anything.

My wife did better, finding a whole carton of old sewing stuff. She bought it, we put it in the car and headed home.

“Harold Kenyon,” I said excitedly after we had driven a couple of blocks from the store.

“Where?” she asked, looking in both directions.

I quickly returned to West Genesee Street from my vision from more than 50 years ago of Mr. Kenyon standing in the boiler room at McKinley School.

Mr. Kenyon wasn’t just a janitor at the elementary school that I attended. He was an important part of the lives of every kid that spent kindergarten through sixth grades at the school.

We saw him every day as we passed his “office” while taking the shortcut through the basement from one side of the school to the other.

I had thought of Mr. Kenyon a few times in the 50-plus years since the big furnace in the basement of the school was a highlight of my life, but I hadn’t thought of him for years.

Until that day at the old stuff shop: While browsing through the old books I noticed that a couple had Harold Kenyon, West Pleasant Avenue, written in a boyish scrawl on the first page.  And that was that until I was driving home on West Genesee Street.

“Where the heck did he come from?” my wife asked.

“I think he lived right across from the school,” I said.

“No, I mean why did you think about him all of a sudden?”

I told her, and said I’d have to look at the books again the next time we went to that store.

My mother always told me that magical things happened at Christmas time. And it’s true. Christmas morning, Mr. Kenyon’s books were under our Christmas tree. I will probably think of him a lot more often now.

Sixth-Grade Memories

My sixth-grade class at McKinley had to leave the school and go on to Roosevelt Junior High School a year early so construction on an addition to the school could get underway.

At Roosevelt, students moved from room to room between classes, but not us interlopers from McKinley.

We were in the junior high school building, but we were sixth-graders. Our teacher, Mrs. Finnegan, was new to the school too. I remember her sing-songing her name to us – “F-i, double n-e,” she sang,  “g-a-n spells Finnegan.”

It wasn’t quite as polished as Dennis Day’s version of the St. Pat’s Day favorite, “Harrigan,” but it was a welcome introduction to our new school.

… Roy Hodge 

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

Sweaty Cities

I want to assure you that I was looking for something else one day last week when I came across this bit of information.

According to the annual rankings of America’s “sweatiest cities,” sponsored by Proctor and Gamble’s Old Spice Deodorant, Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester and Albany are traditionally among the top 100.

According to the most recent rankings available, Syracuse was ranked in 77th place; Albany, 80th; Buffalo, 81st; and Rochester, 85th.

As I continued to read the article I wasn’t surprised to learn that New Orleans, my favorite vacation destination, is just outside the top 10 at number 12.  I have done a lot of sweating in the Big Easy, but I have enjoyed at least most of it.

You may be interested to know the cities of Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., Las Vegas, Tallahassee, Miami and Tampa, Fla. and Houston and El Paso in Texas, work up top 10 sweats every year.

The temperature in Phoenix averages 94 degrees in June, July and August – causing the average Phoenix resident to produce 27.7 ounces of sweat per hour.

Old Spice points out, “that’s more than two cans of soda.”

Florida’s combined sweat would fill Shamu the Whale’s Sea World tank in about 3.25 hours – that’s 6.5 million gallons of sweat. Seven of the top 10 sweatiest cities are in Texas.  San Francisco, with an average summer temperature of just 63.5 degrees, is the nation’s least sweaty city, coming in at 100 on the list.

How do you finish up an article about sweating? There must be something good to say about sweat. How about — “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”                          –Colin Powell

“Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things”.       –George Carlin

“I’m not out there sweating for three hours every day just to find out what it feels like to sweat.”         –Michael Jordan

“Nobody ever drowned in his own sweat.”                                –Ann Landers

“It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get us where we are today, but we have just begun. Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave to our children is just a little better than the one we inhabit today.”

–Barack Obama

 Losing a Friend   

I was saddened this week by the death of my friend, Jan Peacock, following a lengthy illness.

We had been friends since my early days in Fulton. When we met we lived in the northwest area of Fulton, and the Peacocks were neighbors from around the corner.

The Peacock daughters, Sheila and Marcia, were babysitters for our boys.

Several years later, Jan joined others in the Patriot’s “shop” once a week to put the finishing touches on that week’s newspaper for publication the next day.

Jan was the last surviving original member of the Fulton Hoboes clown group.  If you read Jan’s obituary which has appeared in area newspapers this week, you will know the real Jan.

She was fun-loving; she considered herself one of the “ink-stained wretches in the back room” at The Fulton Patriot. Jan didn’t invent that role, but she certainly did play it to perfection.

She was compassionate, having served as a foster mother to 57 children. Jan could have taught the course on love of family, as evidenced by the long list of surviving family members in her obituary – including children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, brothers-in-law, nieces, great nieces and nephews, and a cousin.

Jan Peacock will be sorely missed.

Vintage Hodgepodge

From Hodgepodge, Aug. 15, 1989:

On Saturday I sat on the front porch of The Patriot building for three hours, soaking in the soothing Dixieland strains of the Hanover Squares, a talented six-some of musicians from the Syracuse area.

I was joined by many other Fultonians and visitors who were enjoying the Riverfest activities.

The afternoon’s musical program had been underway for a few minutes when the city’s esteemed group of fanatical funsters, The Fulton Hoboes, showed up to partake of the entertainment.

I guess the Hoboes had sent an advance clown to scout the premises and as soon as the announcement was made that there was food and drink inside, the Hoboes trooped in enmasse.

Hanover Squares drummer Dick Jones, who is always quick with appropriate commentary, noted: “That must be the paper’s staff.”

Funny?  Yes, but . . . two of the hoboes actually are (in real life, as they say), members of The Patriot’s staff.

The Fulton Hoboes were formed in the early ‘60s as part of the program at the First Methodist Church annual talent show. The group became well known publicly after Fulton’s Cracker Barrel Fairs were started in 1966.

Original members of that troop of clowners included Chubby Scaringi, Jan Peacock, Barbara Phelps, and Betty McGraw, with Shirley Collins and Norma Owens also logging plenty of duty in the early years.

. . . Today’s contingent of Hoboes includes veteran (not old) Hobo Jan, who also spends time in the city’s Civil Service office and does part-time duty as a layout artist at the Patriot; Jeff Hodge, whose byline appears every week in The Patriot; Hobo Sheila (Peacock), Project Architect for Dalpos, currently working on the Carousel Mall project; and the two youngest Hoboes, the two little Kings, Mike and Adam.

The Fulton Hoboes have been an important part of almost every Fulton celebration for almost a quarter of a century.

That’s Funny!

I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.

I asked God for a bike, but I know it doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

Knowledge is to know that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

 

  . . . Roy Hodge

Hodgepodge

Bands Were Big!

I have enjoyed the music from the “Big Band” era for many years.

The “Big Band” era and the musical sound called “swing” began in the late 1930s. There were hundreds of popular big bands during that period in the 30s and 40s, and your parents and grandparents may have danced to some of them.

Some of the most popular bands included Ray Anthony and his orchestra, Louis Armstrong’s orchestra, Louie’s wife, Lil Hardin Armstrong and her orchestra, the bands of Charlie Barnett, Count Basie, Tex Beneke, Bunny Berrigan and Les Brown.

Bob Crosby’s Bob Cats and the Dorsey Brothers, Jimmy and Tommy and their orchestras, Ray Eberle’s band, the Roy Elbridge, Duke Ellington and the Les and Larry Elgart orchestras were also active.

Also included were Ziggy Elman, Maynard Ferguson, Ella Fitzgerald’s orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie, the Benny Goodman and Jackie Gleason bands (yes, that Jackie Gleason), Lionel Hampton, Erskine Hawkins, Fletcher Henderson and Woody Herman.

Ina Rae Hutton was the leader of an “all-girl orchestra” and dancers and listeners were enjoying the bands led by Harry James, Louis Jordan, Sammy Kaye, Hal Kemp, Stan Kenton, Andy Kirk, Kay Kyser and drummer Gene Krupa.

Also on the road were Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians, Jimmy Lunceford, Wingy Manone, Billy May, Glenn Miller and Ozzie Nelson (Ricky’s father), as well as the Tony Pastor, Don Redman and Luis Russell orchestras.

Artie Shaw and his Big Band, singer Maxine Sullivan and her all-stars, the Jack Teagarden orchestra, as well as his other smaller groups, were traveling from city to city as were Tommy Tucker, Fats Waller, Chick Webb, Teddy Wilson, Paul Whiteman and Sy Zentner with their bands.

Whew, and that’s only part of the 30s and 40s big band lineup. During World War II, the Big Bands boosted morale throughout the world.

Ish Kabibble

The Kay Kyser Big Band was one of the Big Band era’s most successful groups.  The band had 11 number one records, 35 top 10 hits, a top-rated radio show for 11 years, starred in seven feature films, and outdrew the Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman orchestras.

Ish Kabibble was one of the band’s feature characters, created by Merwyn Bogue, who played cornet in the Kyser band.

The name came from Bogue’s comedy version of an old Yiddish song, “Isch Ga Bibble.” Loosely translated it means “I Should Worry?” which he performed with the Kyser orchestra.

The public and the band started calling him “Ish” and the name stuck.

Michael (Mike) Douglas (not the actor who is Kirk’s son), a name you might recognize – Mike was the lead voice on many Kyser hits (Ol’ Buttermilk Sky, “The Old Lamplighter”).  He was best known to American television viewers as a singing variety/talk show host.

“All or Nothing at All”

One of the world’s most popular singers emerged during the 30s after singing “All or Nothing at All” on a Major Bowes amateur radio broadcast, fronting a quartet known as “the Hoboken Four.”

Frank Sinatra (“Ol’ Blue Eyes”, “The Voice”, “Chairman of the Board”, “Swoonatra” and “Sultan of Swoon”) sang during the Big Band era with the bands of Harry James and Tommy Dorsey.

He went solo at the Paramount Theater in New York in 1942. His first of hundreds of record hits was “All or Nothing at All.”

Sinatra was indeed “Chairman of the Board” of the company he founded, Reprise Records, in 1960. Along with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, Sinatra was a member of “The Rat Pack.”

The Market

One of our favorite Saturday morning activities is to visit the Regional Market.  Admittedly, the market isn’t as exciting this time of year as it is in mid-summer through late fall when it is busting out with the fresh home-grown produce of those seasons.

But even on a Saturday in late March there are treasures to be found.

My wife was happy with the sack of yellow potatoes, which she says are hard to find in supermarkets – and make the most delicious mashed potatoes and French fries.

My market tastes are more likely to lean away from carrying a 10-pound sack of potatoes around to standing in line for free samples of everything from chocolate chip cookies to pretzels covered with   “maple-flavored crème” to hunks of bread dipped in “politely spicy” hot tomato sauce.

(Question: “How much spice makes something to be impolite?”)

Also free for the taking and perfect as part of my late Saturday morning breakfast were hunks of cheese and sausages and hands full of tasty crackers slathered with all kinds of dips and spreads.

I think the top attention-grabber of the day on our recent visit to the market might have been a bright green “Spinachburger.”

The market seems to be a popular social hub on Saturday visits. Recently, we have met up with friends from Syracuse, from Fulton as well as from our own neighborhood.

There is a lot of everything at the Regional Market. Sometimes the only thing that you might have some difficulty finding is a good parking spot.

 

. . . Roy Hodge

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

Born in a Grocery Store?

When I was born, my parents lived in the house attached to the family’s Red & White Grocery Store in Syracuse’s Valley section, which is why I suppose, that during my early years I may have thought that I was born in a grocery store.

I lived there with my parents until I was almost 2.

Valley Drive is a long residential street, which was intersected one block from our store and the house where we lived, by the busy Seneca Turnpike corner.

I remember, while I was growing up, staying overnight with my grandparents at that house and being fascinated by the bright neon lights of “Club Candee,” the busy nightclub which was located a block from the family store.

When I was a little older, I earned my allowance by helping Grandpa keep the empty cardboard cartons in an orderly fashion, and by delivering small orders and advertising flyers to the neighbors.

Through the years, I got to know many of the store’s regular customers. My grandmother always insisted that even though I considered many of those customers my friends, I should always address them by Mr., Mrs. or Miss.

One of the exceptions was Fanny Chapman, who was a daily visitor to the store, and also worked there part-time through the years. I guess I thought it was OK to call her by her first name, because it made me giggle every time she walked into the store.

In a column I wrote several years ago, I was remembering those grocery store years:

“One of the stories I heard told over and over by my grandmother all the time I was growing up and much longer was that I learned to walk by picking up two glass milk bottles from the back hall of our house and carrying them into the store.

“My grandmother was also fond of sharing pictures of me when I was about six or seven wearing one of my father’s store aprons which hung down to the floor.

“One of my favorite toys from the store was a long pole with a pair of ‘grabbers’ on the end, which was used to pull items from the store’s high shelves.  Using those grabbers to knock things off the shelves and all over the store was probably how I got revenge for having to parade around in that silly looking apron.”

“Do You Have Prince Albert in a Can?

From Hodgepodge, Dec. 24, 2005:

“For several years during the time my family owned a grocery store in the Valley section of Syracuse, I was able to leave a special gift for Santa Claus each Christmas Eve.

“Every year my father brought home a tin of Prince Albert Tobacco from the store, and my brother, sister and I left the special gift for Santa along with a plate of cookies, under the Christmas tree.”

(I can still picture that special Christmas time can with Santa enjoying a pipe full of his favorite tobacco.)

“Every Christmas morning there was a plate of cookie crumbs, a note from Santa, and Prince Albert was nowhere in sight.”

Do you have Prince Albert in a can?  Well, let him out! My father said he heard that comment many times during his years at the store.

Thinking a lot about the store this week, I have recalled that the store had a “gum ball” machine. I remember it sitting on the counter at the front of the store where customers “checked out.” As you might imagine, the gum balls were small balls of gum with a thin candy coating.

I often went with my father to the store when he visited on Sunday mornings. While he went about his business, I was putting pennies in the gum ball machine.

There were one or two special gum balls in the machine; I don’t know if they were even gum. They were very colorful, which made it easy to distinguish them from the other gum balls.

Looking for a “Winner”

Those gum balls were “special” – they were known as “winners” because if one of them came out of the machine when your penny was inserted that penny would “win” five more pennies – which of course would immediately be put back into the machine.

It wasn’t long before I learned to try to outsmart that gum ball machine. I knew that the “winner” wouldn’t come out if I could still see it in the machine’s glass globe.  So I shook and I jiggled until the coveted “winner” was out of sight, hopefully ready to come out when my penny went into the slot.

I soon discovered that all the shaking and jiggling was an exercise of futility.  All I had to do was to ask my father for more pennies. But I am sure that it would have added a little more excitement to my young life if a “winner” had come out of the gum ball machine.

Those days spent long ago at the family store with my father and grandparents are among the fondest of many memories.

A Couple More Things

No matter how much you push the envelope it will still be stationery.

I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.

I read a book about anti-gravity. I just can’t put it down.

And, here’s one from Henny Youngman:

“A drunk goes up to a parking meter, puts in a dime. The dial goes to 60. The drunk says, “Huh I lost a hundred pounds.”

                                        . . . Roy Hodge

HODGEPODGE: Mom’s ‘Club,’ Squirrelympics, Vintage Hodgepodge

Mom’s “Club”

“I fixed you some sandwiches. You’ll have to go upstairs early and play quietly until bedtime.”

We knew that if that was my mother’s message to us, it meant that the “club ladies” were coming.

We could have guessed that though, because since we arrived home from school we had been dusting and vacuuming and picking up all our “stuff” and putting it “where it belongs.”

We had to be reminded that the living room floor wasn’t “where it belongs.”

My father observed the same strictly outlined rules as us kids on “club night.”  He usually spent a couple of hours each evening at the dining room table doing his “homework,” which consisted of filling out orders for his bakery route.

On club nights he scrunched himself up to sit in the small chair at the small desk in our bedroom.

Our house was small and one of the problems that fact presented was that there wasn’t room for the ladies’ coats downstairs, so during gatherings when coats were necessary they were neatly spread out on my parents’ bed, so my accommodating father had to lay down with my brother or me in one of our small bunk-size beds until the ladies went home.

Most of the club members lived on Kenmore Avenue, one block from our house. At one time five club ladies lived in three houses next to each other.

To observers, it didn’t seem that the club ladies, most of whom saw each other on a daily basis, had an exciting agenda at their meetings. The ladies would entertain themselves when they got together by talking; some of them sewed while they talked.

The club’s custom was the hostess would serve “lunch” sometime around nine o’clock. The appetizing aromas of that late evening meal often caused a problem for the upstairs campers whose gulped down supper of sandwiches was a long ago memory.

There were leftovers the next day, but they didn’t seem the same without the club ladies’ lively chatter.

Not only did the club members have their evening get-togethers at each other’s homes, they gathered many times in the summer at picnics when they brought their children along.

Kids’ birthday parties were also a frequent event. So all the kids saw each other often and were, more or less, members of their own club.

The club ladies were visiting each other’s homes and enjoying their frequent parties long after their children had grown up.

As the years went by, there was a new era for the club ladies when some of the members were joined by their daughters for their social evenings.

Sometimes the memories from many years ago come back to me and I return to a living room full of my mother’s friends; to the enjoyment that those ladies received from each other and to the enduring friendships which were nurtured during those evenings with the “Club Ladies.”

Squirrelympics?

I entertain myself quite often by watching some of our neighborhood’s many squirrels flying from tree to tree around our backyard.

In an article that I wrote in 2012, I called them “The Flying Squirrellendas” (do you remember Ringling’s Flying Wallendas?) as they performed in our backyard every day:

“I am happy to say that their performance arena is right here in our backyard … One problem is that you never know when the show might begin. … As I sit here one of the performers has appeared … I can’t tell what color his performance tights might be … He is being very cautious, this is obviously just a warm-up session … and then he disappears … no show for now.”

Two years later, they are still at it, and there are times when I am at the kitchen table just in time for show time. A couple of days ago I got so excited watching the tree tops activity that I spilled my coffee all over the table.

I’m sure our neighborhood squirrels belong to some kind of a social/athletic club. Often times one or two squirrels will be chasing each other from branch to branch and soon I can count 10 or more participating in the games.

There is another large group of squirrels across the street in the park and still another smaller one further up the road. Who knows? Maybe they are participating in their own Winter “Squirrelympics”.

Squirrel watching and counting has become a winter afternoon fun activity. Squirrelympics — summer or winter, it doesn’t matter.

These athletic, bushy-tailed rodents compete during all seasons and they excite the audience (me and my coffee cup) and score points.

As I watch the neighborhood squirrels these days I wonder if they are trying to tell us something.  When they’re not chasing each other around our yards the squirrels seem to be busy storing more winter provisions.

Maybe we should be paying more attention. Perhaps the squirrels know more than the groundhogs, and even more than the television prognosticators.

And, they’re having a great time.

Vintage Hodgepodge

From The Fulton Patriot, Feb. 23, 1993:

I have been asked a lot of questions during the past couple of weeks. I have run out of answers. I am beginning to dread these questions.

  • When are you going to shovel the snow?
  • Enough snow for you?
  • Do you think it will ever stop snowing?
  • Is it going to snow tonight?
  • Is it going to snow this afternoon?
  • When are you going to shovel the snow?
  • Where are you going to put all this snow?
  • Have we got more snow than Oswego?
  • Is there school today?
  • Is there going to be school tomorrow?
  • When are you going to shovel the snow?
  • Why do you live in Fulton in the winter time?
  • Where is the car?
  • What is that huge pile of snow doing in the driveway where the car used to be?
  • When are you going to shovel the snow?

… Roy Hodge