Tag Archives: Roy Hodge

Hodgepodge: September 8, 2012

by Roy Hodge

I went to the State Fair a couple of times this year because I grew up with the Fair in Syracuse and have been going since I could walk. I’ve only missed a couple of times since then, the latest two years ago when I couldn’t walk after I fell and injured my knee.

I don’t think my Fair agenda has changed throughout the years since the times I went each year with my father. When I visit the Fair I walk, I see what’s going on in many of the buildings, I watch the people, and I eat…and eat…and eat. When I am with my wife, I visit every animal in every barn.

In the early years of my Fair adventures, I’m sure that my father kept me happy with some cotton candy, maybe an ice cream cone, a cookie or two and a box of popcorn.

Through the years, I have had my favorite Fair foods. I’m sure that I was driven by the wonderful aroma wafting over the Fairgrounds to try my first Italian sausage sandwich with peppers and onions many years before Bill and Hillary discovered them – and haven’t gone to the Fair without having one since.

Before food at the Fair meant everything you could think of deep-fried, I loved deep-fried “apple flips” (or fritters) and enjoyed them from the horticultural building every year.

There were years when I looked forward to very special French fried potatoes served in paper cones from Orange trucks on the midway. Twin Trees pizza is a must for me every year, usually within minutes inside the gate.

Pizza Frittes and Sugar Waffles are favorites, and after years of eating at the Fair, I tried something new this year – chocolate covered bacon on a stick. Bacon and chocolate are two of my favorite tastes, but…together on a stick, not unlike a popsicle…that may take some getting used to.

Other new-to-me food items include a beef sundae and a pork parfait, featuring mashed potatoes and gravy or barbecue sauce along with the meat, topped with a cherry tomato – in a sundae dish.

It might be hard to think that hunks of alligator meat, deep-fried and put on a skewer, will become a Fair favorite, but that choice, along with shark and kangaroo, has been added to the Fair menu.

It’s good to have choices.  Variety is the spice of life — especially at the State Fair — but one of my favorite summer and Fair  foods, and usually the first thing I have to eat at the Fair, is a hot dog, tucked in a bun and slathered with mustard.  One bite and I know I’m at the Fair.

I guess I may have said it all in the first column I wrote about my Fair adventures back in 1979: “I have been anticipating my annual visit to the New York State Fair for several weeks now. The primary attraction for me doesn’t lie in the star-studded grandstand shows, or the ride-packed midway, or the animal barns, or the horticultural displays, or ‘Black Jack,’ billed as ‘10,000 hamburgers on the hoof’, or the peddlers pushing their wares in the Center of Progress building. My Fair-time weakness can be summed up in one word – Food.”

As you can imagine, I have written about the State Fair (and its food) more than a few times.

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of the Valley News at our office or at one of several locations throughout the City. For Subscriptions call 598-6397.


Hodgepodge: September 1, 2012

by Roy Hodge

I’m trying to figure out if I am becoming some kind of a “weather nut.”

I wake up in the morning to the guy on the radio telling me, almost hour by hour, what the day’s weather might be like: “It’s going to be sunny and quite warm for a while, then less sun but still warm, a chance for rain later in the day, maybe thunderstorms, but possibly just continued cloudiness, then clearing during the early evening hours, cloudy and cooler overnight.

In other words, take your choice.

Then I go downstairs and open the paper to the weather page. There I get some of the words the radio guy had told me, but in case I don’t feel like reading I also get pictures. This week the words and pictures tell us that it’s going to be “mostly sunny and comfortable,”  “mostly sunny and beautiful” the next day, then “mostly sunny and very warm.”

I guess it might be a personal choice between whether you want to feel “comfortable” or “very warm,” because only a five degree temperature difference is predicted for those days. I need help from those weather guys on the radio and in the newspaper because I never have figured out the difference between “partly cloudy” and “partly sunny.”

Maybe the guy who drew the weather pictures in the newspaper had been listening to the radio, too, because pictures for later in the week include lightning bolts, and the predictions are for possible thunderstorms and temperatures of 79 to 89. Or, those predictions might be based on the fact that lightning bolts are fun to draw.

All day after I listen to the radio and read the newspaper, I wait for the predicted weather pattern to develop. The thing that makes me a “nut” is that it really doesn’t matter to me. It isn’t important that I should know, even though it is bright and sunny in the morning, that it might be raining or snowing hard enough later in the day that I would need my rubbers or overshoes. It really doesn’t matter because I don’t wear rubbers or overshoes

I had early training as far as worrying about the weather is concerned. Some of that preparation, at least, must have come from my grandfather. If it was a couple of hours before school would be recessed and there was a knock on the door of our fourth grade room while we were looking out the window watching it rain or snow, I knew exactly who it was.

It was my grandfather bringing my rain coat and rubbers or my boots and hat for my walk home.  Grandpa had realized he was going to be busy at his grocery store when I got out of school so he wanted to make sure the several long blocks of the trip home from school for me were kept as dry and comfortable as possible.

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of the Valley News at our office or at one of several locations throughout the City. For Subscriptions call 598-6397.


Hodgepodge: August 25, 2012

by Roy Hodge

It is weeks like this when this space seems to be correctly titled – a true Hodgepodge.

We recently got the supper dishes out of the way early and went to watch our friend Eddie Fagan and accordionist Bruce Gerow while they entertained the residents of an adult living facility near our home.

I always enjoy watching Eddie pursue his particular brand of entertainment and Bruce Gerow is a very talented accordionist.

In the days a few years ago (at least ten) that we used to catch Eddie and his fellow musician friends in action often, the group was advertised as the “Eddie Fagan Trio and the World’s Greatest Collection of Spoon Players.” And, back then, they weren’t kidding.

There were always at least a couple, often many more, of Eddie’s followers who were able to produce a rhythmic accompaniment to the band by whacking a couple of spoons together. As I wrote in 1991, after I saw Eddie and his entourage in action, “An amazing talent, you have to admit.”

It was a very appreciative audience when we dropped in on Eddie, but they weren’t banging on spoons. There was, however, one lady who wasn’t a resident who added to the group’s rhythm section by thumping, banging, hitting, whacking and shaking a tambourine (what exactly is it that one is supposed to do with a tambourine?)

In the other hand. she had a couple of those round things that look like coconuts with handles that Xavier Cugat was always shaking.

*  *  *  *  *

The computer’s spell checker was doing its job recently when it detected the word “yardening” in the article that I reprinted from my friend Joygerm Joan’s most recent “Infectionately Yours” newsletter.

Joan’s version of the sentence in question started: He was within earshot of my sister, who was doing a bit of outdoor yardening…”

Knowing very well of Joan’s talent for using puns and other clever ways to get her ideas across, I never doubted that readers would know that she was discovering a new word to describe the scene – her sister doing some gardening in the yard – or “yardening.”

I have come up with a new definition out of this yardening/gardening thing – “The error that isn’t wrong; it just isn’t right” – which is to be better known by its acronym – “te-ti-wi’-jir”. That’s te (pronounce as in ten), ti (pronounce as in tin), wi (pronounce as in with, with primary emphasis on this syllable), and jir (pronounced as rhyming with her or stir).

Making up new words isn’t easy.

*  *  *  *  *

Since I have been retired I’ve been trying to help out and be useful by doing things around the house – even things that I have never done before.

Friday is laundry day, which I never got much involved with while I was working – except the help I offered by throwing dirty clothes into the dirty clothes basket.

Now I have responsibilities. My wife starts the laundry before she leaves for work in the morning.

To read the rest of the column, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397


Hodgepodge: August 18, 2012

by Roy Hodge

I guess you never know what you’re going to see. Last week, when I was backing into a parking spot on the street in Skaneateles and watching traffic through the rear view mirror, I saw a motorcycle approaching.

The cycle had a side car and as it passed by, we realized that the passenger was a very contented looking pooch wearing goggles – or as we were told later by a very dedicated dog fancier – the happy passenger was wearing its Doggles.

Looking up “Doggles on Google” — say that one fast five times — I discovered that Doggles — said to be protecting the world…one dog at a time — are a commercial brand of sunglasses for dogs, in the form of tinted goggles designed to fit the shape of a dog’s head.

The Doggles Co. in North Carolina is the home of “the world’s best and only” eyewear made just for dogs. It was invented by a young couple after they noticed their dog squinting in the sunlight. Doggles have been sent to Army dogs working in Iraq and Afghanistan for protection from sun and desert sand storms.

Despite once being listed as one of the “most useless inventions ever,” Doggles were ranked number six in a list of “Eleven ideas that shouldn’t have worked – but made millions” by MSN Money.

So there, now you know something about Doggles, and at least one dog — the one I saw in Skaneateles — might feel a little better about riding around in his owner’s motorcycle side car.

Sheena, our much-loved canine companion, never wore Doggles or anything like them. I never noticed her squinting in the sun. If she did, I probably thought she was winking at me.

Sheena never rode in a motorcycle side car, but she did enjoy having the window in the car down a little sometimes. Who knows, maybe a pair of custom fitted Doggles would have been just the thing.

But the leather jacket with zippered “paw-kets” to share treats? That would have been a stretch.

*  *  *  *  *

My little neighbor friend, Andrew, came out of his house a couple of days ago wearing — not his Spiderman costume, which is one of his favorite selections of clothing  these days — but a Boston Celtics sweatshirt.

Immediately, my mind flashed back to the days when I, a little older than Andrew is now, was an avid fan of an NBA basketball team – but it wasn’t the Boston Celtics.

My favorite NBA team at the time I’m thinking about — in the early 1950s — was the Syracuse Nationals. The Syracuse Nats were an original member of the National Basketball Association and, of course, a hometown favorite.

The NBA was a small league at the beginning. I think I remember all of the teams – the Nats, the Celtics, the New York Knicks, the Philadelphia Warriors (Wilt Chamberlain’s first pro team), the St. Louis Hawks, the Minneapolis Lakers, the Rochester Royals and the Fort Wayne Pistons.

To read the rest of the column, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397


Hodgepodge: August 11, 2012

by Roy Hodge

Another Andrew update: For the un- initiated or those who don’t remember, Andrew is one of my youngest and busiest neighbors. Since the first summer he was walking, as soon as he spots me out in the garage, yard or garden Andrew is ready to “help.”

Andrew loves coming inside our house to check things out; one of his great joys this summer is walking unannounced in our back door, always enjoying the mock surprise that I offer.

He’s not as interested in touring the garden this year as he was the past two summers.  He doesn’t walk up the garden path and twirl the flying chicken (our name for the metal chicken that spins around with the wind in our garden).  Andrew insists that it is “The spinning chicken,” and, of course, he’s right.

He doesn’t pick up and check out all of the garden ornaments; he doesn’t even stop to greet Joe, our garden gnome, who Andrew named.  I haven’t seen him check out the bird bath, rinsing his fingers on a regular basis, and then rubbing the water on his face.

But don’t get me wrong.  It’s not that any of Andrew’s yard-checking procedures of past years are being neglected. Andrew is currently in the process of training his successor to take all of those duties over, and his almost one-and-a-half year old brother, Nathan, is catching on fast.

Nathan must have been watching Andrew regularly, or he has had some special coaching, because he seems to know exactly what is expected of him.  Since early summer, when he comes into our yard to visit, Nathan heads right for the bird bath. In go the fingers, and then it’s straight to the facial rubdown.

Andrew is growing up. He was four earlier this summer. However, he still likes visiting our house, and you know what, we still look forward to his visits, and are anxiously waiting for the days that Nathan will tag along.

One thing we have noticed this summer is Andrew’s fondness for – not sweets, but vegetables – from his mom’s garden. When I thought he was munching on a piece of candy a couple of days ago it turned out that it was a tomato from the garden. Used to regular sized tomatoes, he was fascinated by the small tomatoes that my wife grows next to our house. When I told him he could try one he savored it.

Earlier he brought over a zucchini from his mother’s garden. When he presented it to us there were two small bites missing from one end.

Last year Andrew’s mom made pickles using dill from our garden. In appreciation, Andrew was dispatched to bring us a jar.  He proudly showed off the jar of newly canned pickles, but it became obvious that he never really expected to part with them.

Note: From the first time Andrew called me anything, up until earlier this year, he was the first to pronounce the name I am commonly called with two syllables. I was “Ro-ee,” and he wanted to come over to “Ro-ee’s” yard, go in “Ro-ee’s” house, and make it up the stairs to “Ro-ee’s” toys.)

To read the rest of the column, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397


Hodgepodge: August 4, 2012

by Roy Hodge

I have often wondered about the little person or persons who seem to live somewhere inside my computer’s keyboard.

Here’s the scenario: I sit down at the keyboard with a pretty good idea of what I am going to do for my next column. I have a plan in my head and I often also have two or three sheets of scribbled notes to supplement the plan I have in my head.

I wrote the above paragraph a few days ago and looking at it now I’m not sure where I was trying to get with it. Let me think about it. I guess where the little “gremlins” at work inside my keyboard might come into play is when a perfectly reasonable word which makes sense in the sentence in which it is used, turns into anything but – affectionately known to us who make them as “typos.”

It is very difficult after writing “Hodgepodge” for 33-1/2 years not to have at least mentioned many subjects that I think about in another column sometime along the way. It is also convenient at times to repeat a portion of a column, or even an entire column from another time.

Continue reading


Hodgepodge: July 28, 2012

by Roy Hodge

A column I wrote during the summer of 1980 reminded me of a difficult period of my life as a responsible, but maybe a bit overly cautious, even cowardly, parent as I guided my youngest son through area amusement parks and carnivals.

Adam was nine, almost ten, and the two older boys were old enough that summer trips to amusement parks with their parents weren’t on their “must do” lists anymore.

Adam was old enough to want to go on the most exciting rides, and I — who was elected by a committee of one to go with him — was old enough to want to stand by and watch others go on those exciting rides.

I wrote back then:

“C’mon Dad, you’re being a chicken.”

I had just lost my annual amusement park argument. It’s been happening for years. I don’t care for the words “chicken,” or “coward.” I prefer to look at it as a cautious intelligence.

I have never been able to convince my companions through the years that bravado at the amusement park does not make a man, and I have found myself hammered by The Hammer, torpedoed by the Torpedo, tornadoed by The Tornado, scrambled by The Scrambler, and whipped by The Whip.

The rides always seem to have nerve-calming names like those.

This summer it was an iron monstrosity affectionately known as The Wild Mouse, and the next thing I knew I was helplessly strapped in with a nine-year-old at my side.

“This is gonna be fun, Dad.”

“Dad, what are you doing down there? Sit up straight.”

“Open your eyes Dad, we haven’t even started yet.”

“You don’t have to hold on that tight, Dad. Your knuckles are all white.”

“You better take off your glasses so you don’t lose them when we go upside down.”

“Get back in, Dad, I was only kidding about the upside down part.”

“No, Dad, that wasn’t the worse part; we’re still on the way up.”

“There’s no emergency brake.”

“Didn’t I tell you that was going to be fun?”

“Dad, why are you walking funny like that?”

“I don’t think he’s smiling Mom, I think his teeth are like that so he won’t scream.”

We went to the Valley Field Days this week. That particular five days of fun is named for the Valley section of Syracuse, where I lived when I was born and for the first 21 years or so of my life. I live very close to that area again.

The Valley Field Days was an annual summer event for me and the kids I grew up with. We rode the rides, played the games, and ate the food every year and had a great time.

The Valley Field Days are held each year in mid-July at the same place they were then – at Meacham Field, which is around the corner from Valley – my high school.

When my wife and I went to the field days this week, we watched others ride the rides and play the games, but we joined them for the eating part.

Part way through my slice of pepperoni pizza I noticed that my wife seemed to be writing; she was scribbling on what looked to me to be a used, greasy napkin.  I had forgotten that I had taught her to keep track of what the other people were doing at events such as this one, in case I needed the information later on.

Using the information that I rescued from between the greasy spots on my wife’s napkin I can tell you:

People were eating most of the favorites from years ago. Pizza seemed to be a top choice now as it was back then.  There were hamburgers, hotdogs, and French fries, of course – all of the fifties’ favorites.

To read the rest of the column, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397


Hodgepodge: July 21, 2012

by Roy Hodge

My mother-in-law is always looking out for me — sending me stuff she thinks I would enjoy, but might also want to use in a column; or perhaps she is trying to help me out because she has read some of what I have written.

The latest missive she has sent is an article by university professor James Courter relating some of the student writing errors he has encountered.

One student said he had trouble getting into “the proper frame of mime” for class. Two members of the class said they were in trouble with the law. One’s e-mail said that he had been charged with a “mister meaner;” the other with a “misdeminor.”

One student admitted to doing “half-hazard” work. Another said he wasn’t smart enough to go to an “Ivory League school.”  While one student complained that his roommate was “from another dementian,” another was upset that a roommate was using his “toilet trees.”

More than one student alluded to “a doggy-dog world,” one girl thought she was “being taken for granite,” and another student worried that education reform might result in school being in “secession” all year long.

One freshman wrote, “Life has too much realism,” and another said he gets away from it all by spending the day “sitting on a peer.”

I’ve borrowed before from author Richard Lederer’s “Anguished English,” which he has subtitled “An Anthology of Accidental Assaults Upon Our Language.”

Lederer is a high school English teacher and students also provide him with a lot of material for his book. In the book’s first pages, he reports that students “have given bizarre twists to history.”

It has been asserted that Wyatt Burp and Wild Bill Hiccup were two great western marshals, and that the inhabitants of Moscow are called Mosquitoes.

He noted that sometimes the humor is the result of confusion between two words. Students have written, “Having one wife is called monotony,” “A man who marries twice commits bigotry,” and “Acrimony is what a man gives his divorced wife.”

Lederer culled the following from the efforts of his students:

“A virgin forest is a place where the hand of man has never set foot.”

“Although the patient had never been fatally ill before, he woke up dead.”

“I expected to enjoy the film, but that was before I saw it.”

“Arabs wear turbines on their heads.”

“It is bad manners to break your bread and roll in your soup.”

Lederer notes that students have put their own interesting touches on American history. The author compiled this account from genuine student bloopers collected by teachers throughout the United States, from eighth grade through college level:

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