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

By Roy Hodge

Out of nowhere a couple of weeks ago, I thought of an old song that my mother sang to me over 50 years ago. It was a new song then, sung by Bing Crosby, and probably on the hit parade.

I clearly remember the song’s title: “Swinging on a Star,” and many of the words. When I remembered that song, I started singing it and I still am.

“Would you like to swing on a star, carry moonbeams home in a jar and be better off than you are … ?”

The lyrics go on, asking if I would rather be a mule — an animal with long, funny ears; a pig — an animal with dirt on his face, whose shoes are a terrible disgrace; a fish — who won’t do anything but swim in a brook; or a monkey — they’re not all in the zoo — every day you see quite a few.

I think I remember my mother and myself singing that song during much of a trip to Ohio to visit relatives when I was about 6. I discovered that it’s one of those songs that all of a sudden you remember, and then you have a hard time getting it out of your mind.

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Hodgepodge

I found out last week that it would be hard to find a better way to spend three days than with a 2-year-old great-grandson. (It was nice to see his parents and grandparents, too). I had met Colton only once before — when he was a month old — so we had some catching-up to do.

It was a cute little blond-haired toddler holding on to his mommy’s hand and wanting to ride on the “alligator” (I wasn’t sure whether that was the escalator or elevator in Colton-speak) that met us at the Raleigh/Durham Airport in North Carolina.

I don’t know if he had been primed or not, but when he was told by Mama that these strangers were indeed Great Papa and Great Sue, there were smiles and hugs for both of us.

It occurred to me after we went to a nearby amusement park with Colton, rode on a train a couple of times around the park and fed ducks in a pond, that I had observed that same kind of occasion with three generations of small children, starting with my three sons, the oldest of which is Craig, better known to Colton as “Pops,” his grandpa.

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Hodgepodge

A couple of days ago I celebrated what seems to be known as a “milestone” birthday. I’m not sure what that means but to me it means that I’m glad that I am still celebrating birthdays – but it also means that I’m at a number of years that I hate to say out loud.

The last time that I celebrated one of these “milestone” birthdays was 25 years ago, and I thought I was old then.  Back then I said that I was only slightly offended by some of the messages sent to us “over the hill” folks via birthday cards.

One of my cards 25 years ago asked, “How many 50 year olds does it take to change a light bulb?” The answer:  “None. They prefer it dark. Better for napping.” Another card said, “If people say you’re getting old, don’t argue or complain, ‘cause you don’t have to take that stuff…just hit them with your cane.”

A couple of cards advised me to “party ‘til it hurts” and then added that it will be a short party. Another of my cards made it very clear that I knew all there was to know about hula hoops, saddle shoes and bobby sox.

I said that if I wrote messages on cards for 50 year olds for a living I would be much kinder: “Roses are red, violets are blue. You may be fifty, but you’re still smart, and sexy too.”

It seems that birthday cards my friends and I exchange have gotten kinder over the years.  Now that we’re getting older, the cards don’t contain as many insults. One of this year’s cards stretches out over two feet long; it contains only the traditional “Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday!” message. Other cards include greetings from an exuberant squirrel and a friendly looking bear.

Other thoughts about getting older:

“Later than you think, sooner than you expected.”

“The time of your life when you are thick and tired of it all.”

“When you feel on Saturday night the way you used to feel on Monday morning.”

“The time when you get sacks under the bags under your eyes.”

“When you know all the answers but nobody asks the questions.”

“When you sit in a rocking chair and can’t get it going.”

“When you feel like the night before and you haven’t been anywhere.”

“When the gleam in your eyes is from the sun hitting your bifocals.”

“When your back goes out more than you do.”

Amen.

Mom’s birthday message

From Sept. 5, 1995:

I went to see my mother a couple of weeks ago. It was Aug. 21, and I almost always visit or call my mother on Aug. 21. I celebrate my birthday on that day and I discovered several years ago that my mother celebrates too; she enjoys reminding me each year of the important part she played in that event.

She always tells me how many years ago it was and that she remembers where she was and what she was doing on that day all those many years ago before my father rushed her off to the hospital.

She also tells me how old it makes her feel to have a son as old as I am. At my age, the comforting thing about that statement is that she has been saying the same thing for as long as I can remember, and that she is still able to say it.

“You were born on a Sunday…4 o’clock in the afternoon…up in St. Joseph’s…it was a hot day…it was a real hot summer.”  And then she adds, “A lot hotter than this year…we don’t get hot weather like that anymore.”

I told her I thought it was pretty hot on Aug. 21 this year.  “Nothing like that year,” she said.

Guess I’ll have to take her word for it.

“The usual suspects”

Even though I am celebrating a birthday with a significantly high number attached to it, among my close friends — most of them octogenarians — I am considered a youngster. I belong to a group of friends who have known each other at least 30 years, see each other often and have great times together.

We’re known to each other as “the usual suspects,” as in, when we’re going to do something together, “Call the usual suspects.”

English language mysteries

There is no egg in eggplant or ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine are in pineapple.

English muffins weren’t invented in England, or French fries in France.

Quicksand works slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

Why do we ship by car and send cargo by ship?  Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

Don’t ask me.

…Roy Hodge

Hodgepodge: A Tribute to Muriel Allerton

Muriel Allerton, 93, one of Fulton’s most popular and respected citizens, died July 25 following an extended illness. She was a community icon, one of its most active and enthusiastic residents.

In 2010, she was welcomed to Albany by then Senator Darrel Aubertine and honored as a New York State Senate Woman of Distinction for years of exemplary service to her community. Sen. Aubertine said, “Muriel came to Central New York close to 50 years ago and over that time has certainly made her presence known. She truly is a woman of distinction and a pioneer in this community as the first woman mayor of Fulton. She is the type of person who makes friends for life shopping at the corner store and can convey a wealth of experience in the advice she gives.”

For the rest of the story, read the Valley News Saturday edition.

Favorite TV shows

by Roy Hodge

I have been thinking about my two favorite television shows from years ago – Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In and The Muppets Show.

One hundred and forty episodes of “Laugh-In” ran from Jan. 12, 1968 to March 12, 1973. The show was originally aired as a one-time special Sept. 9, 1967. When it was brought back as a series it replaced “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”

“Laugh-In” was hosted by comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. Rowan was the straight man of the Rowan and Martin duo. He was a decorated Army Air Force fighter pilot in World War II. He was auditioned for the original version of “The Hollywood Squares,” but lost out to Peter Marshall. Rowan was the former father-in-law of actor Peter Lawford. His first wife was Miss California in 1945, who placed first runner-up to Bess Myerson, Miss America, 1945.

Dick Martin was the comic relief of the Rowan and Martin duo. After Rowan retired, Martin was a frequent panelist on game shows, and established himself as an efficient comedy director. About his association with Rowan, Martin commented, “We were raw, but we looked good together and we were funny.”

The talented and hilarious cast included Arte Johnson, Ruth Buzzi, Lily Tomlin, Goldie Hawn, Judy Carne, Alan Sues, Henry Gibson, JoAnne Worley, and announcer Gary Owens.

Many popular characters evolved from that group. Well-known Arte Johnson characters included Wolfgang the German soldier who would comment on happenings by saying, “Verrry interesting…but shtupid.” Johnson was also “the dirty old man,” who came on to Ruth Buzzi, who as Gladys Ormphby, seated on a park bench clobbered him with her pocketbook.

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Summer columns

by Roy Hodge

I recently jotted down dates of some of the columns I have written about summer.

July, 1979: “When the phone rang before 6 a.m. one day last week it was a sure sign that summer vacation had started. It was Adam’s friend Peter on the phone.

“‘Is Adam there?’ Peter asked. ‘Not at six o’clock in the morning,’ Adam’s mother answered. ‘We’re going fishing,’ Peter said. ‘Not at six o’clock in the morning,’ Adam’s mother repeated.

“‘Call back at nine and you can go fishing then.’ He did and they did. Summer vacation was officially underway.”

Later that month I wrote, “If you’ve been bothered by the recent 90-degree weather you might derive some pleasure by thinking back on the ten feet of snow that covered your yard and the rest of Fulton a mere four or five months ago.”

In July, 1980 I was reviewing some “hot weather words.”

“When it’s hot for more than one day it ceases to be hot. It’s a scorcher, a sizzler, watch out for the blazing heat, and it might even get torrid. Sultry is another favorite; it almost always reaches sultry levels after a couple of days of high temperatures.

“Then the heat becomes tropical. Culinary terms are also big. Every July we cook, bake, broil, boil, roast and simmer. Soon the just plain heat of a few days ago becomes searing heat, blistering heat, and parching heat. By then it’s hotter than blazes, and we’re all smoldering.”

July 23, 1981: “Beware midnight snackers – that bowl in the front of the refrigerator isn’t chocolate pudding. It’s a nice fresh batch of night crawlers ready for tomorrow’s fishing trip.”

June 29, 1982: “’Twas the first day of summer vacation, there was a feeling of gloom;

“For the first time in weeks I was alone in the bathroom.”

And, in August, 1988, I was “playing games with the weather:”

“We do strange things. We don’t particularly like the weather when it gets too hot or too cold. But we don’t want anyone else to be able to say that they get hotter or colder weather than we do.

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Hot summers

by Roy Hodge

I have always enjoyed this time of the year. Summer is my favorite time of the year, and until a few years ago, when I began considering myself as “older” and less heat-resistant, I guess I adapted readily to July and its heat.

Thinking about hot summers, I am usually quick to think about the summer mornings when my mother would greet us in the morning with the statement, “It’s going to be a ‘scorcher’ today.” It didn’t take us long to figure out her interpretation of “scorcher.”

But I can’t remember not loving and enjoying the hot days – to me that was summer and the reason why we didn’t have to go to school.

My mother also used to say, when relating my summer day’s activities to my father when he returned home from work, “He (that would be me) lives at that pool. That was probably almost true.

“That pool” was the swimming pool at McKinley Park, two blocks from our house.

Along with my friends, the Fero boys, I would spend the morning at the pool, run home at lunch time for a sandwich and return to the pool to spend the afternoon.

My mother didn’t worry about me because she said I was “born swimming” and as far as I knew that was the truth. I loved the water whether it was in the pool at McKinley Park, or later in the summer, at Oneida Lake where our family always spent a couple of hot August weeks.

My mother was probably exaggerating a little about the “born swimming” thing. The only lessons might have been just a few years after that — standing in the water with hands on the edge of McKinley Pool kicking and splashing.

Neither mom or dad had a history of swimming. My father only wore a bathing suit one time in front of us, and my mother was proud that she could float on her back and had mastered (she thought) the doggie paddle.

Our little house on Wiman Ave. was probably a little more than comfortably warm on those hot summer growing up days. Our bedrooms were all upstairs and were very hot when it came time to go to bed.

Back then, air conditioning was meant for some of downtown’s movie theaters, but not much of the air in our world was “conditioned” – it was hot. On the hottest days we slept on our “much cooler” back porch or in our little pup tent under the big pine trees in our front yard.

Swimming, running and chasing with the other neighborhood kids, or riding my bicycle – all a part of those (hot) summer time memories.

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Fulton Hoboes

by Roy Hodge

Do you remember the Fulton Hoboes? I do, and if not for any other reason, every once in a while when I come across a photo of the group when son Jeff was a member.

In my memory, the Hoboes were an important part of the Cracker Barrel Fair, which was a fixture in Fulton for many years, and were still strutting their stuff during Riverfest celebrations in the late 80s and 90s.

From Hodgepodge, August 15, 1989:

Wasn’t Riverfest wonderful?

“On Saturday I sat on the front porch of The Fulton Patriot building for three hours and along with many other Festival goers soaked in the soothing Dixieland strains of the Hanover Squares, a talented six-some of musicians from the Syracuse area.

“The afternoon’s musical program had been underway 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 man to scout the premises and as soon as the announcement was made that there was food and drink inside the Hoboes trooped in, en masse.

“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.

“If my recollection of Fulton clowning history is coming back to me properly as I type this, I can tell you that the Fulton Hoboes were formed somewhere around 25 years ago. They originally got together as part of the programs at the First Methodist Church annual talent show. The group became well known to the public after Fulton’s Cracker Barrel Fairs were started in 1966.

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

“Among my fondest memories, I recall the first years of the Cracker Barrel Fair when a certain little kid, who happened to share my last name among other things, fell in love with the Hoboes and tagged them relentlessly around the fairgrounds all during the fair. After about three years of that one of the Hoboes finally said, ’Listen kid, if you’re going to hang around with us you’re going to have to wear a funny hat and a red nose.’

“That little kid grew up to be Hobo Jeff, the tall skinny member of today’s version of the Fulton Hoboes.

 

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