Tag Archives: Roy Hodge

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.

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe by calling 598-6397


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.


To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News or call 598-6397 to subscribe


TV Westerns

RoyHodge_WEBby Roy Hodge

Maybe you were watching television in the late 1950s and early 1960s, or perhaps you have been told by someone who was, how much “Western” viewing was available on TV back then.

It was a peak year for Westerns on television in 1959 with 26 different programs airing in one week. During one week in March, 1959, eight of the top ten shows were Westerns.

The “Hopalong Cassidy Show” was the first television Western.  The show was compiled for television from the 66 films made by William Boyd.

“The Lone Ranger,” played by actor Clayton Moore, with his horse, “Silver,” and Jay Silverheels as Tonto followed closely.

The 1959 Western program lineup included “Gunsmoke,” “The Rifleman,” “Wanted: Dead or Alive,” “Laramie,” “Have Gun, Will Travel,” “Bonanza,” “The Virginian,” “Wagon Train,” “The Big Valley,” “Maverick,” and others.

“Gunsmoke,” with James Arness as Marshal Matt Dillon and a stellar cast including Dennis Weaver as Chester, Milburn Stone as “Doc” Adams, and Amanda Blake as Miss Kitty, posted 20 years on Saturday nights as TV’s longest running Western.

Another deputy/sidekick to Marshal Dillon was Festus, portrayed by Ken Curtis. Burt Reynolds was added to the cast in 1962 for a stint as a blacksmith. A radio version of “Gunsmoke” aired from April 1952 to June 1961. It starred William Conrad as Marshal Dillon.

“Bonanza,” which ran for 14 seasons, starred Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright, the patriarch of the Cartwright family, who was widowed by three wives, each of which mothered a son. The oldest son, Adam, was portrayed by Pernell Roberts; Dan Blocker was “Hoss” and “Little Joe,” the youngest son, was played by Michael Landon. The Cartwright family lived at the Ponderosa Ranch.

(In case you’re interested, and you might not have known if I hadn’t run across this fact while I was seeking information on the stars of “Bonanza” – Blocker, Roberts and Greene all wore hairpieces throughout the series).

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News. You can subscribe by calling 598-6397 or click on the link on our home page.

All things Christmas

Roy Hodge
Roy Hodge

by Roy Hodge

It has turned out that one of my jobs around the house is keeping everything neat during the day.

My duties usually consist of doing a few dishes a couple of times a day and keeping clutter to a minimum, which I usually interpret as being able to walk around the house without every object I pass falling on the floor.

I am finding that my job gets a lot more difficult at this holiday time of the year.

We have had Christmas cookies in the house for a few weeks now. I know my wife has made some, but I am sure others have made their way into our house courtesy of baking friends.

They seem to come into our house in neat plastic bags, on plates or in attractive containers, but after a few days they were piling up and creating a messy situation. My solution to that problem – eat them.

Our home’s neatness during the holiday season time of the year is also challenged by several large cartons which find their way down from the attic. They are the containers which hold the hundreds of Christmas ornaments we have accumulated through the years.

Then, of course, there are the greetings we send and receive during the season. A couple of weeks ago we hauled all of the cards, envelopes and stamps out of the drawers and closets, wrote messages of Christmas time endearment inside the cards, put addresses and stuck stamps on the envelopes before licking and sealing them and sending the whole pile on its way.

We no sooner got all of those greetings into the mailbox when we started receiving several cards a day which are scattered all over the house.

And there is wrapping paper — boxes and bags of wrapping paper — some still fresh in its own wrapper, and some wrinkled and crinkled in expected and unexpected places.

A big part of the Christmas season, of course, are the gifts we buy, give and receive at this time of the year.

For the past couple of weeks Christmas gifts, coming in and going out, have been all over the place during different stages of the gift buying and giving process.  All that once beautiful wrapping paper and ribbon was turned into torn and shredded trash.

That brings us to where we are now — a few days after Christmas — with the shredded trash, all those empty cartons in the garage, basement or attic, all the stuff that belongs inside them, the cookie crumbs, the hundreds of needles which have fallen from the Christmas tree, all those greeting cards, the used gift wrapping, and don’t forget — all of that new stuff.

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe today by calling 598-6397


Hodgepodge: October 6, 2012

by Roy Hodge

National Punctuation Day, a celebration of punctuation, occurs each year during September. The special day was founded in 2004 by Jeff Rubin of MTV’s “College Humor Show” to promote the correct use of punctuation.

The value of punctuation: An English teacher wrote these words on the board: woman without her man is nothing. The teacher then asked the students to punctuate the words correctly. The men wrote: “Woman, without her man, is nothing.” The women wrote: “Woman! Without her, man is nothing.”

Most sources list 13 major punctuation marks: apostrophe, brackets, colon, comma, dash, ellipsis, exclamation point, hyphen, parentheses, period, question mark, quotation marks and semicolon. (Did you think an ellipsis is when the moon moves in front of the sun?)

Other sources include slashes, back- slashes, round brackets as well as square brackets, and underlines.

Janice Witherspoon Neulib, professor emeritus in the English department at Illinois State University, tells us that her least favorite punctuation is the dash. “I try never, ever to put dashes in my writing. It’s equivalent to putting a heart (instead of a dot) over the i.

Oh, Oh, I think I’m in trouble. Here I am, writing a column about punctuation, and trying my best to punctuate correctly.

Right away I run into a college professor, a college professor emeritus no less, who is telling us that she tries to “never, ever” put dashes in her writing.

Do you think that I ever wrote anything without using at least one dash (okay, probably two dashes)? I respect Ms. Neulib’s opinion — but — I think using the dash — in writing — can be very appropriate — or perhaps — a bit overused — but maybe not.

The importance of punctuation (From Wikipedia):

Dear John,

I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy – will you let me be yours?  Gloria. Or…

Dear John,

I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior.  You have ruined me. For other men I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?  Yours, Gloria.

From the book jacket of the best seller, “Eats, Shoots & Leaves,” by Lynn Truss:

A Panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich eats it, draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.”

Why?” asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

“I’m a panda,” he says, at the door. “Look it up.”

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

“Panda: Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China.. Eats, shoots and leaves.”

So, punctuation does matter, even if it is only occasionally a matter of life and death.

To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

Hodgepodge: September 29, 2012

by Roy Hodge

Following a visit with grandson Marcus a week ago (his mom and dad were there, too) I noticed that I wasn’t too frisky for a few days during the following week.

Marcus likes to run, to chase and be chased. When we are walking, it is great fun for him to get a few steps ahead of me, wait until he hears me catching up to him, then run way in front again, laughing all the way.

Marcus likes anything on wheels, but right now it is trucks that he really likes. He loves trucks of all sizes, including the little ones he pushes around on the floor, and the big construction vehicles that Daddy takes him up the road to see.

Adam said Marcus was especially fascinated recently by a huge Harvester that even a fully grown climber would need two step ladders to get into the cab.

I think Marcus leans towards red as his favorite color, not just for trucks, but for everything – but he pronounces the word purple as well as any of us adults present could have while he was playing with his newest toys.

He kept himself busy for a long time pushing his little trucks back and forth while making some very impressive “brmm-brmm” motor sounds – and for added excitement he happily discovered that his slide made a perfect mountain for his little trucks to maneuver.

We received a picture recently of Marcus proudly helping Daddy show off the large bass that he had caught.

Being two is sure exciting.

*  *  *  *  *

Over the weekend I picked up the little book of some of Muriel Allerton’s writings put together in the 90s by her son, Paul.

There is humor, of course:

“I don’t know about others of my gender, but I must have at least 20 pocketbooks ranging in age from one to at least 33 years.  They are stowed in a big box in my closet, and occasionally nostalgia will move me to explore their contents and use them again.

“All of the scraps of life – chewing gum, Tums wrappers, notes on the back of supermarket receipts, plus passages from books that I wanted to remember, were still in many of them.

“There was the scribbled joke about the man who was sick of life and went into a monastery where he took vows of poverty and silence. His assignment was to work in the fields without a word for a year after which he was told that he was entitled to two words. His first year’s utterance was ‘Food bad.’ At the end of the second year he said, ‘Bed bad.’  The following year, after his stint in the fields, he said, ‘I quit.’  The priest in charge then replied, ‘Good. All you’ve done is complain since you got here.’”

There’s information:

“October reminds us that it is time to hunker down. According to a wonderful book, ‘All About Months,’ by Mamie R. Krythe that I picked up at a garage sale years ago, October means ‘eighth’ in Latin, but then the Romans changed their calendar to make it the tenth month. The Romans liked it and refused to change it to conform to accuracy, no matter what.

“In northern European countries, October was known as wine month because that is when the grapes were harvested and the liquid confection made. There were rains and some snow in early New England Octobers called ‘squaw winter’ followed by ‘Indian summer.’ It was then that the natives could hunt and lay in more food for the winter.”

 To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

Hodgepodge: September 22, 2012

by Roy Hodge

Looking through old issues of The Fulton Patriot this week, I came across a column I wrote that brought back memories. It told of my grandparents spending the evening with their friends and neighbors, the Cranes, on Halloween. It seemed to be a tradition.

The good friends would get together at one of their homes, which were across the street from each other. After asking us grandchildren and neighborhood friends to “come early” to get our treats, they would turn the lights down low, and share door answering duties while fitting in some conversation and some treats of their own.

Living across the street from each other wasn’t their only connection. My grandfather and Mr. Crane worked together for many years at the Lasher Hardware Co. in downtown Syracuse.

The Cranes were quite a few years older than my grandparents, and fittingly, their car was much older than the jaunty 1940-something bright blue Pontiac that my grandfather drove. But I thought Mr. Crane’s old car was “neat.” It seemed to be a couple of feet taller than my grandfather’s car; it had “running boards”, and an “ooga-ooga” horn.

I also remember for some reason that the Crane’s telephone had to be cranked to get an operator to place a call for them. Boy, they must have been old.

The Cranes’ home was different than the other houses on Kenmore Ave. My grandfather told me that it was the oldest house on the street, and at one time was part of a busy farm.  The barn was still standing and was used by Mr. Crane as a garage.

When my grandparents lived across the street their home and the other houses on the street were much newer than the Crane house – but not new.

*  *  *  *  *

I told you last week about a law that I thought might still be in the books in Gary, Indiana: “It is illegal to take a street car or go to the theater within four hours of eating garlic.”

I first came up with that information several years ago when I was reading “The Book of Garlic,” the garlic lovers’ bible. That very useful book also offers the following advice: “For an earache: Place a peeled but uncut clove of garlic in the ear. Let it sit in the ear through the day.

“If it’s a headache that’s bothering you, apply garlic to the temples in a poultice. For whooping cough place a poultice of chopped garlic on the feet.  If acne is your problem, rub the pimples with a cut clove of garlic several times a day.”

Garlic is also described as just the thing to cure poison ivy, athlete’s foot, insomnia, and as a perfect aphrodisiac.

To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397


Hodgepodge: Sept. 15, 2012

by Roy Hodge

On a recent morning, I drove past a local school just in time to see a line of young children being taken outside by their teachers for a recess (or maybe a fire drill). They were dressed for school and were neat and clean, but also ready for the playground.

The boys were wearing jeans, sweat pants, or casual pants, and T-shirts, many of them with clever sayings or business names and logos. Most of the boys wore sneakers.

Some of the girls also wore jeans, but they looked nice – no ripped away knees. Some of them were wearing shorter pants, but I didn’t notice any short-shorts.  There may have been a few dresses among them. The girls that weren’t wearing sneakers had sandals.

Of course, my mind traveled quickly back to when I was in elementary school. When I returned home that day I immediately looked for and found a photo that was taken when I was in fourth or fifth grade at McKinley school. We were posing for a class photo so we were maybe even a little neater than the group of kids that I saw, but we were definitely wearing our school clothes.

Back then, kids wore “nicer” clothes to school, and changed into “play” clothes when we got home.

The first thing I noticed in my fourth grade photo was that every girl in that photo was wearing a dress – a cute little lady-like dress and loafers or more fancy strap-on shoes.

To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397