Archive | July 2012

Sam Singer Wreaks Havoc on the House

SAM SINGER WREAKS HAVOC ON THE HOUSE

 Around 1975, while living in their home on Crestwood Drive in Winston-Salem, Martha took a trip to Smithfield to visit family for a few weeks.

Meanwhile, Sam was alone in their house and having to fend for himself.

It was an unusual situation because Marcia had rarely spent any time with her father, just the two of them, but this time offered her that opportunity. They met and ate out for dinner a few times and had good visits. Marcia was now grown and not afraid of her father like when she was little. Sam had also mellowed out when he moved South and no longer had the stressful job of working in the Store. He was truly a different person and fun to be around.

However, some things don’t change. Sam was still messy.

Just a short time before this was a very sad time. In 1974, Martha’s mother, known to all as Mama Rose, became deathly sick with cancer. The family was trying their best to keep her at home and so the siblings were taking turns caring for her. Martha went to Smithfield to do her part and be near her beloved mother. A few weeks passed with Martha holding vigil by her mother’s bedside, but she was finally ready to come home. Surely it was a tiring task.

Marcia decided to go to the house to make sure it was in decent enough shape for her mother’s arrival. It wasn’t. There was much cleaning up that had to get done and so she did it.

During this time when Martha was away, Phil and Marcia became engaged and decided to share it with Sam and then they called Martha to tell her also. They were both thrilled and happy for them. This was in April around Easter time.

Mama Rose Gordon Sugg died June 6 of that year. It was a sad day for the whole family.

Marcia and Phil were married on August 4, 1974.

So this time around, Marcia had a pretty good idea what she might be up against with her mother gone for so long. She knew her dad well enough to know he wasn’t the neatest guy around. However, she was not quite prepared for what she found!

She walked through the house and each room was worse than the one before. The kitchen was a total disaster. Dried out flowers in a vase had curled up, died and fallen on the table. Newspapers were piled up. The countertop was adorned with egg shells and was crusted with dried egg that had dripped on it. Toasted bread crumbs were scattered around. One look in the fridge told her that food in there had rotted and turned moldy. Ugh! An assortment of dishes was piled up in the sink, unwashed.

The den where Sam watched TV had remnants of peeled oranges lying on the table and general messiness. His bed had obviously not been made and the coverlet was all over the floor along with various items of clothing. The bathroom had not been cleaned and was just plain nasty looking.

Marcia just about fainted, but realized that if her mother came home the next day to this disaster, she would probably want to walk back out the door! She couldn’t let that happen so she got to work.

Marcia worked harder that day than she ever had in her own home! She picked up everything that needed it, made the bed, cleaned and scrubbed the kitchen and bathroom, threw out the flowers and papers and even tackled the fridge. Most of that stuff went right into the trash, container and all! The contents were beyond putrid and she wouldn’t even open them up. Out they went. When all that was done, she dragged out the vacuum cleaner and was sucking up the dirt when Sam came home.

“I was going to clean up,” he calmly told Marcia.

Yeah, right, she thought. He let it go this bad for weeks! His idea of cleaning up wouldn’t have been too great either. At least this way, her mother would not come home to a complete mess. She was exhausted, but knew she’s done the right thing.

“I know. I just thought I’d help out,” she told him so as to not hurt his feelings. “Why don’t you finish the vacuuming?”

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Sam, Sam the Not-So-Handy Man

SAM, SAM THE NOT-SO-HANDY MAN

Sam and his brother Al, could not have been more different in many ways. Al was the diplomat and good at fixing things. Sam, on the other hand, was blunt and even outrageous in his actions and quite pathetic at anything that required fixing or putting together, with cooking being the exception because he was good at that (albeit quite messy). Al came across as somewhat distant and unfriendly while Sam was actually well liked and respected. Al could not cook well at all, not even short orders on the grill. Sam’s food always tasted better although exactly why was a mystery.

Sam relaxing

Sam relaxing

So when there was any kind of issue in the Store that required a cool head and some tact, Al was the guy to get because he could diffuse the situation without bloodshed. Sam was definitely not the guy to go to for this.

Case in point: a long-time and frequent customer had a knack for complaining about everything, especially the food. Some people are just that way: chronic whiners whether justified or not. However, the one thing you shouldn’t do is constantly complain to Sam about his food and/or the quality because he prided himself on always buying the best.

So one day Customer was once again saying something negative and Sam lost his cool and proceeded to grab the guy by his collar and pants, jerked him off the stool and pushed him through the Store and out the front door while yelling, “Get the hell out of my store and never come back!” It was quite a scene as you can imagine.

Customer stayed away for a very long time and frequented other eating establishments in the area, none of which matched the food at Singer’s Luncheonette, so one day he came slinking back in and quietly ordered something. He ate it without saying a word.

Al was also fairly handy and could fix things that needed it. He must have gotten some of Pop’s carpenter gene, as the family calls it, and enjoying puttering around. He and his wife, Jean, had a second home in Patchogue, New York, and liked to spend time there. As with all homes, there are always jobs to be done.

Sam, however, missed out on this particular gene and was, without a doubt, one of the most un-handy people on the earth, largely due to his impatience.

Sam & Martha's first house

Sam & Martha’s first house

One time in the 1960’s when vinyl records were still in existence, he had a Do-It-Yourself kit for a record keeper that was a basic box with doors on the front that slid or moved somehow. It was his job to put it together.

Naturally, he didn’t believe in reading the instructions. One can only assume he at least looked at the pictures in the brochure provided and we all know how indecipherable they can be.

There was much cussing and slamming of tools before the job was eventually done and the piece was together and actually worked! So maybe there were a few screws leftover, so what? It was finished. He persevered and was too stubborn to ask for help, but the job was done.

Another time, they ordered two metal covers for some radiators. [For those who don’t remember these, they are rectangular coils in each room used for heating. The boiler in the basement below the apartment would originally burn coal and create steam which was sent up to the radiators and also a pipe that went all the way to the sixth floor. Usually, since the Singers were on the first floor, the heat that was put out was often too hot and so the radiator valve was often turned off and the room would get cold. Meanwhile, the people on the sixth floor were cold because the steam pooped out by the time it got that high up. It was not an efficient system, but all that was available. The coils were ugly and dangerous to touch when hot, so covers were the answer.]

They arrived (unassembled, of course) one day while Sam was at work. Marcia decided to put one together herself because it was going in her room. She carefully looked at the directions, spread all the parts around on the floor, found the necessary tools and was able to get the cover all nicely constructed in a decent amount of time with no problem.

Sam’s job was to do the same with the other one. However, this proved to be much more difficult. Marcia would try to help and suggest he do it like the instructions, but no….Sam “knew” what he was doing and did it his way even if it was wrong. He attacked it like he did a lot of things: like a house on fire! She finally gave up and walked away and left him to figure it out.

As you can imagine, there was a lot of cussing going on and it took him much longer than it had Marcia, but eventually it was done. It was something the family would remember and laugh about.

Front Porch with Martha, Sam & Phil

Front Porch with Martha, Sam & Phil

Another funny incident came much later after Sam and Martha had moved to North Carolina and bought a cute little house, their first real house. It was a small, blue ranch style home with a front porch on which they would spend a lot of time sitting and talking in the pleasant evenings.

Naturally, the inside needed painting and Sam was up for the job. He spread some drop cloths on the wood floor, although quite carelessly and paint ended up on it anyway. The correct way to apply paint from a roller is a slow, even up and down movement.  Apparently Sam had no clue how to use a paint roller and when Marcia and her husband Phil stopped by to visit, there was Sam putting the roller into the paint and without carefully removing any excess, was slathering it onto the walls as fast as possible using an up/down/across/any which way motion that was so outrageous to see. Meanwhile, due to the overabundance of paint on the brush, it was splattering everywhere. The muted yellow color was on the floor, on Sam’s clothes, all in his hair, all over his glasses and okay, some actually made it to the wall. It was such a mess, eerily reminiscent of the Thanksgiving Gravy Fiasco.

Sam in Living Room he painted

Sam in Living Room he painted

Martha was hiding out in another room and had seen enough to know she couldn’t watch anymore. She kept mumbling something about how the floor was never going to nice again and if thoughts could kill…you get the picture. Marcia and Phil wisely made a quick exit.

The painting did get finished and as long as you didn’t look closely you would never notice the odd brush marks of paint being rolled in many directions or the spots on the wood floor that were never cleaned off. Another job done, even if not so well.

Sam Singer and the Pea Incident

SAM SINGER AND THE PEA INCIDENT

 The evening meal, whether you call it dinner or supper, was one of two entirely different scenarios in the Singer family. If Sam was home that evening, which was usually about every other night off from the Store, then Martha cooked a home style meal which usually included a meat, a vegetable or two, salad and biscuits. She often made corned beef and cabbage, blintzes, a special macaroni and cottage/cheese/sour cream dish, chicken dumplings, Spanish rice and chicken and matzo ball soup and other delicious meals. Pizza was never eaten as Sam didn’t like cheese. The family usually went out to eat on Sundays which was a special treat and most of the time it was for Chinese food, but occasionally Italian or something else for a change of pace.

On the nights that Sam worked the evening shift, the family ate at the Store which meant you could just go whenever you wanted and ate whatever you wanted. For Marcia, this was always a hamburger, fries and Coke with chocolate ice cream for dessert.

She was quite a picky eater though and one day two very stubborn people butted heads over peas.

It was a Sunday, Sam’s only day off and the family had planned a trip out to Long Island after lunch which Martha had cooked. Marcia had eaten whatever she wanted of the lunch, but balked at the peas as she didn’t much like them. She loved lima beans, but not these and they were left on her plate and getting colder by the minute.

She was probably only about 5 years old and was sitting at a small red table set up in the hallway because the kitchen eating area was so small. There she sat waiting patiently to be excused from the table.

For some reason, Sam was not pleased and demanded that Marcia eat the dreaded peas and declared an ultimatum that weren’t going anywhere until the plate was clean.

Marcia was afraid of her daddy’s anger and knew he could erupt at any time, but she stood firm in her resolve that those nasty peas were NOT going to end up in her mouth and he couldn’t make her. So there she sat, not budging.

Sam got angrier and angrier and the time got later and later. Neither one was going to give in. No one else in the household dared to interfere.

Eventually, though, with the situation at a total impasse, the peas were taken away and the trip did not happen because of the late hour. Sam learned the hard way that trying to force Marcia to eat anything she didn’t want was a waste of his time. He did, however, resort to bribery!

Every once in a while, in an effort to expand her palette of foods, Sam would actually bribe Marcia with a toy or comic book in exchange for ordering something different at the Store. He would suggest mashed potatoes instead of fries or roast beef instead of the burger. Because she liked those things anyway, Marcia would agree and thus be the proud new owner of said bribery item. Everyone won!

There was another time when Martha served country style steak and Marcia took a taste, but didn’t like the gravy much, so wouldn’t eat anymore. Sam got angry and ordered her to bed without any more dinner! She went to her room, secretly glad because she didn’t want any more food anyway. She was, frankly, relieved! However, Martha must have felt badly about this and wasn’t going to let her baby go hungry so later that evening, she snuck some bread into Marcia’s bedroom for her to eat. Marcia appreciated the gesture and even though she wasn’t exactly starving, she ate the bread pleased that her mother had brought it.

When grown, Marcia would recount this incident and Martha didn’t even remember doing this.

Sam and Christmas Tree Chaos

SAM AND CHRISTMAS TREE CHAOS

(click on photos to enlarge)

Sam at Christmas

Sam at Christmas

In spite of the fact that Sam came from a Jewish family, he was not particularly religious and his wife, Martha, came from a Presbyterian family so they celebrated Christmas every year. The big thrill for the kids was that they would wake up in the middle of the night and race to the living room to find what Santa had brought! It wasn’t hard for them to figure who got what and Jeff and Marcia especially would stay up until the wee hours of the morning playing with their new toys until, exhausted, they would go back to sleep. Then, Sam and Martha would get up and have a nice, quiet breakfast before the kids got up again and Christmas day would begin.

Sam in Santa Hat

Sam in Santa Hat

Most of the time, especially in later years when the kids were grown, the family would open the wrapped presents under the tree on Christmas Eve. Sam would “play Santa” and dole them out to each person. They called him “Sammy Claus” because he would don a Santa hat while doing this.

Tree with Star

Sometimes, they called the tree a Hanukah Bush and Marcia drew a Jewish Star one year which adorned the top of their trees for a while instead of the usual angel.

Fern that would be decorated

Fern that would be decorated

One year, when they didn’t want to have a live tree, the fern which was perched on a tall pedestal, became the Christmas tree and it was decorated with small Christmas balls and some tinsel.

In the late 60’s, there was an incident that was truly a tale that has to be remembered. This took place in their apartment in New York. Christmas was over and the lights and ornaments were taken off the tree and it stood there, naked and forlorn. They tried to keep the tree watered, but once presents were placed underneath, that became difficult and so no one bothered. “Needles” to say, the pine needles became dry and brittle. Just a mere whisper of a touch would send them flying everywhere.

So the task at hand was to take the tree out of the living room, through the living room door, out the apartment door and down to the street for pickup by the sanitation department. Normally this would not be a big deal. This year, however, it did become quite an ordeal.

Sam, obviously not thinking clearly about the results (or not caring), pulled the dry tree out through the doorway with the top first. Now the bottom branches were much wider than the doorway so when being pulled through the narrower space, they were bent backwards and once through the door, they instantly sprung back into place.

Imagine what this meant. All of those brittle pine needles were now airborne, each a tiny sharp, sticky missile flying into the air until gravity brought them back down and they plummeted to the floor and covered it in a huge mass of green. By the time Sam was done dragging this poor tree through two doorways, most of it lay on the floor and not more than the trunk was taken to the curb.

If you have had the misfortune of feeling pine needles in this condition, you know that it is like trying to pick up sharp, biting objects covered in a sticky residue of pine tar. It is painful. Very painful.

Tree in playpen

When the kids were little, Martha put the tree in the playpen to protect it

For some unknown reason, Martha was not in the house at this time. She must have had a premonition that the taking down of the tree was going to be a disaster and made herself scarce on some errand. Smart lady.

Marcia was the only one left to clean up the mess as Sam had made it clear his job was done once the tree was out of the house. So, resigned to this nasty task, she began to try to gather up the needles. Ouch! This was NOT going to work. Her hands stung from the sharpness of the needles.

Being very creative and good at thinking up solutions to dilemmas, she had the bright idea to simply get out the vacuum cleaner and suck them up! Easy as pie, right?

First, she had to drag the heavy canister style Electrolux vacuum apparatus out of the closet and assemble the hoses. Then she turned it on and aimed the pipe at a pile of needles and whoosh! Up they went. This was going to be easy, she thought. But suddenly the whooshing sound changed to a funny, strangling noise that didn’t sound right. Oops! The needles, so abundant, were clogging up the hose and so the vacuum was trying to suck its little heart out, but nothing was moving.

Crap!  Now she had to unhook the hoses and try to unstick the clog. What a mess! When this chore was finally done and all the needles were extracted from the vacuum hose, she realized this process wasn’t going to work after all. History would just repeat itself. Another solution had to be found.

She rummaged around in the closet where their tools were kept and found a large pair of workman type gloves that were extremely too large, but better than nothing.

She tried scooping up the needles with the gloves and while it was clumsy, tedious and seemingly an unending task, it had to be done. She eventually got all the pine needles off the floor and in the trash, but she was exhausted.

She swore that was the last live tree she would ever clean up again.

The next year, she personally bought a four-foot fake tree which didn’t dry out and shed and so they continued to have a tree for Christmas. It just wasn’t a live one anymore. Some traditions just were not practical.

One Christmas somewhat later, when Sam and Martha lived in North Carolina, Marcia was at their house helping them put up their tree. Sam brought out the box of lights. Many of you will remember when the lights used to be a good size and if one burned out, they all went out. Then there was the annual struggle to untangle the strings because last year whoever put them away would just throw them in a box. This time, the lights they had were a newer kind: tiny little bulbs with delicate plastic petals surrounding each so they looked like a pretty flower all lit up. Pretty, yes; sturdy, not so much.

Marcia was untangling the strands so Sam could put them on the tree. As he was stringing the top part of the tree, the strand would hang down to the floor. As he walked around the tree, he would carelessly step on the strand and they heard the little crunch as he stepped on the delicate lights, crushing them into oblivion. Sam was like the proverbial bull in the china shop when he did things and this was no different. Anyway, finally the lights were on, the rest of the decoration was easier and once again, Christmas was held in the Singer family with “Sammy Claus”.

Sam in Hat

Sam in Hat

Christmas was never quite the same for the family after Sam died. They all missed him in the funny hat and his jokes.

Carolina Mudcats vs. Dash Experience

CAROLINA MUDCATS EXPERIENCE

(click on photos for larger view)

 Our home team, the Winston-Salem Dash, were playing the Carolina Mudcats in Zebulon, NC and we decided to take a road trip and watch them play on July 18, 2012. It was clear but hot when we gassed up my Toyota for the 2-hour trip to Five County Stadium which is east of Raleigh. It was a day game starting at noon so we left about 9:00 a.m. and arrived just a little past 11:00 a.m. Perfect timing! We were both dressed in Dash gear and I had on my bright red Bolt shirt and Bolt Hat and Phil had on his purple Dash shirt and hat signed by all the Carolina League All Stars. No doubt who we were rooting for!

Water Tower

Water Tower

The first thing you see as you near the stadium from the highway is the Mudcats’ water tower which looks like a huge baseball with the Mudcats logo. Very cute! We pulled into the vast parking lot which was not paved and paid our $5.00 which gets you a free playbill. Whoopee!

We had a nice chat with the ticket ladies while trying to figure out what seats we wanted – the most important feature being in the shade. Apparently, there isn’t much, but the first 5 rows were under the upper section and so afforded a place out of the direct sun. When our lady found out we were Dash fans, she jokingly almost didn’t sell us tickets! Yeah, right.

Entrance to Five County Stadium

They needed all the sales they could get on this weekday day game. Let’s just say the crowd was sparse, as most games at this time would be. There were a bunch of kids’ groups there and they seemed to enjoy cheering on the Mudcats even if they didn’t really know the game.

Stadium outside

We spoke with another employee about the stadium and learned it was about 20 years old, but had undergone a ton of renovation and updating in the late 90’s and beyond so now it was quite a nice stadium seemingly in the middle of nowhere. However, one of their sponsors’ signs boasted that a Wal-Mart was only one mile down the road and so civilization is nearby.

Stadium seats

Stadium seats

As you can see from the photos, the seats are a bright orange like their logo which has a catfish in it, an unusual choice of a mascot, but minor leagues are known for some strange mascots! They did have a guy in a Mudcat suit who was known as Muddy, of course. He played in some of the games and tossed out T-shirts once. In the fifth inning he signs autographs and after the game you can get photos with him (as I did). Our first stop inside was the Team Store where I purchased a Mudcats pin for my hat.

Marcia with Muddy

Marcia with Muddy

Cafe

Cafe

The theme in the ballpark concession area was fishing. I guess no surprise there. Bait Shop was the name we saw a lot among others. I was scoping out the food places and noticed that “Catfish Sandwich” was on the menu. Yes, they assured me it was really catfish too. I declined. I found another stand that sold BBQ, more to my liking.

I spoke with Bev White, a wonderful lady at the Info Booth and she saw the many baseball pins on my hat and said she and her husband, one of the ushers, traveled around to many of the stadiums also. I soon found out they will be at the Dash game next week and so hopefully she will find us to say hello.

Scoreboard & ads

Scoreboard & ads

We had some conversations with our usher, Frank, also, so I would have to say the employees we spoke with were quite friendly. Our seats were great: in the shade and the concourse apparently acts like a wind tunnel and we had a boisterous breeze cool us off. We were so close to the Dash players on deck, we could see just how big or small they really were. I said Hi to a few including pitching coach Gary Ward. I hope they appreciate that there were some fans there for them.

Scoreboard #2

There were two scoreboards, one of which posted the pitch velocity, but no pitch count or strikeout tally. However, that was not a big deal although we do enjoy those new amenities at the Dash ballpark. The entertainment though was definitely not as quite as enthusiastic and enjoyable as the Dash and some other places. They did have a few games, but much of the between inning stuff was advertisements and announcements on their Jumbotron which was more a Mini-tron. (It was quite small compared to most. Perhaps it shows up better at night.) It was okay, but maybe a little boring. No dancing girls or even dogs. I guess there’s not much you can do with a catfish.

The game was exciting and included errors, great plays, lousy plays, pitching both good and bad, lots of runs and even homers. For a short time, the mother of a Dash pitcher sat behind us and was cheering on her son. Unfortunately, he was not having a good day on the mound. She was visiting him and following the team around the area. Another Dash groupie like us.

Field

Field

Apparently, for the home team, a siren sounds with a home run and they shoot off fireworks for multiple runs with a homer. Unfortunately, we heard those a lot. Going into the last inning, the Dash were down 11-4. They did make a great offensive rally in the top of the 9th inning with 5 runs, but still fell short and lost 11-9. Ah well. This is baseball and you have to learn to accept disappointment. Can’t win ‘em all!

Speed Pitch area

Speed Pitch area

We headed home about 3:20 p.m. and hit some hard rain for a short time, but then it cleared off and it was smooth sailing the rest of the way home. I give this experience 4 ½ stars.

Our Greensboro Grasshoppers Baseball Experience

Our Greensboro Grasshoppers Baseball Experience

Newbridge Bank Park

Newbridge Bank Park

The sky was overcast, but no chance of rain loomed over the Newbridge Bank Park in Greensboro, North Carolina on this Thursday evening of July 12, 2012. The temperature was perfect: no more heat and humidity like the week before and not even a little chilly when the sun went down. The crowd at the stadium was surprisingly good for a weekday night (5,153 attendees), but perhaps the Thirsty Thursday cheap beer was a factor. In any case, it was a great night for minor league Low A baseball. As the Grasshoppers play magazine describes it: It’s Hoppin’ Fun Fever – Catch the Bug!

My husband Phil and I parked across the street as there is no stadium parking per se, just various lots around it. Still, it was close and of course, the usual $5 fee. We picked out our seat tickets at the box office (only $8 each) and entered. Our first stop was the team store because I always try to get a pin souvenir and picked one out. Our seats in Row J were just the right height up for a good all over view and I do believe they were more ample in width than at BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem which was actually modeled somewhat after this park. Newbridge does have more rows and has a larger seating capacity which seems strange considering they are a lower ranked team.

Jumbotron

Jumbotron

Park2

Park view of downtown

I was very impressed with it overall: two lawn areas, nice Jumbotron, view of downtown buildings, beer area off to the left side if you want it, plenty of food choices and clean bathrooms. (I didn’t see a kids’ fun place, but maybe I just missed it.)

Park1

Park1

I was surprised their announcer gave out all the starting team names very early (before 6:30), but then he announced the Grasshopper players as they ran onto the field going through a large McDonalds “M”. During the national anthem, a few fireworks went off as the lady sang about the bombs bursting: a nice touch!

I had heard about the black lab that the owner of the Hoppers has trained, so I was looking forward to seeing this. At the beginning of one of the early innings, the dog (one of two actually) came out with a bucket of baseballs in her mouth and took them to the umpire! Very cute. That was only the beginning.

Miss Babe Ruth

Miss Babe Ruth

During two of the innings when the Hoppers were at bat and got a hit, the dog, Miss Babe Ruth, waiting patiently at the side of the dugout with the owner, would race out onto the field and retrieve the player’s bat that he had flung down on his way to first base (or more). She was rewarded with a treat when she brought the bat back to the owner. What a sight! And tonight was a good hit night so we saw this repeated a number of times.

Also, during a time between innings, Yogi, another black lab, would chase a baseball thrown far out into centerfield and brought it back. They had some kids lined up and whoever the dog gave the ball to got some sort of prize. This was so entertaining and different that it is definitely a big plus for this venue.

Guilford the Grasshopper

Guilford the Grasshopper

Of course, like all the teams nowadays, they have a mascot: Guilford the Grasshopper, a large, green grasshopper in a baseball shirt and funky shoes. He looks eerily similar in size and shape as Bolt, the mascot for the Dash. On the website www.aminorleagueseason.com there is a story about the factory that actually makes these mascot costumes. Check it out sometime.

So, Guilford (named after the county in which Greensboro lies) goes around mugging for the fans and also dances on the dugout at times. I was able to get my photo taken with him. He doesn’t speak (like Bolt) and one of their guys follows him around and helps with photos and such. Kids of all ages just love him!

Spaz, No. 24-7

Spaz, No. 24-7

They do have something else though that was different: Spaz, Number 24-7. Who is Spaz? He’s this local guy in a baseball shirt and court jester hat whose job title (as he put it) is the “Crowd Motivator” which sounded better than what I thought he was: “Audience Warmer Upper”. He worked the crowd all night, working them up into noisy frenzies to spur on the players, sang Happy Birthday to a fan, danced on the Dugout, helped with the games and did an all-around bang up job.

I spoke with Spaz for a few minutes and found out he has been doing this type of thing for quite a while including at Greensboro College where he went. Talking to him was a good friend who was a basketball player and I spoke more with him and found out that he used to live very close to where I did in Kernersville. It’s a small world!

Let’s talk about the food, always a favorite topic. The names of the food vendors were creative and paid homage to Greensboro’s history. There was one called “Cornwallis’ Last Stand”, another “O’Henry’s Corner” and “General Greene’s Grille”. Of course, the hot dog place was “The Dog Pound”. We had BBQ which was a nice change from hamburgers or hot dogs. Unfortunately, the fries came in a cup swimming with ketchup which I didn’t much like, but I ate them anyway. I also saw someone with a full-sized helmet full of popcorn! Wow. There were also other vendors with ice cream and other goodies so no one will starve while there, but as with all venues of this type, your wallet will shrink considerably.

Be warned also: they actually checked my bag upon entering and I was chastised for having bottles of water I had brought, but the man let me go with a warning. I was surprised they went that far to ensure you didn’t bring any food or drink inside and not particularly happy about the personal invasion.

Robert

Robert

I noticed that at the end of each inning, the ushers (in their neon orange shirts-you can’t miss’em) would come forward and stand near the playing field and then return upstairs when play began. I asked our guy, Robert, what that was all about it. They do it for a variety of reasons, but mainly safety: to keep fans from getting on the field or the dugouts, keep the aisles clear and to hopefully be a presence to deter fans from throwing items down from the upstairs seats or smoking which is not allowed. This seems like a good practice.

Now to the game and what a game it was! It had it all that night. There were 6 total errors, flubs and good plays by both teams. The Hagerstown Suns got an early 2 run lead, but the Hoppers tied it up in the 7th Inning which is where they were going into the 9th. No one scored so it went into an extra inning where the Suns got a one-run lead so we went to the bottom of the 10th with the Hoppers behind. Not good!

One man got on first due to a Sun error, 1 of 5 for the game. Two outs and up to bat came Ryan Rieger. The count was no balls, two strikes (a great pitcher’s count) but then the pitcher let the count run up full to 3 balls and 2 strikes. At this point, Phil said that pitcher had just messed up and was going to make a big mistake.  On the next pitch which right down the middle of the strike zone, we all heard the THWACK of leather meeting wood and we knew it was gone, gone gone! Up high and deep over the fence for a walk-off home run and a much needed win for the Grasshoppers. The crowd, including us, went wild with cheering! A few fireworks went off to commemorate the win. While the Hoppers were all out on the field congratulating Ryan, the owner let loose Miss Babe Ruth and Yogi who chased balls thrown into the outfield. One dog retrieved the balls while the other pooped on the grass (twice). No doubt the grounds crew here have a pooper scooper in their arsenal of tools.

It was an enjoyable and memorable night. I give it Five Stars.

Phil did remark that they didn’t have “honeys” cavorting and dancing like the Dash Pack. Typical guy. Personally, I think the dogs out-trumped dancing girls.

Sam Singer and his Russian Roots

SAM SINGER AND HIS RUSSIAN ROOTS

 [Author’s Note: These stories about my family are being written so that our generation and those that follow will get to know these people as more than just names on a family tree; so that they will be remembered for both their good traits and deeds and their bad. They were people who lived, loved, worked and died, but these memories of them will live on.]

Meyer and Esther Wedding Photo

Meyer and Esther Wedding Photo

Sam Singer’s parents, Meyer Singer and Esther Shpeen, met, married and had a family in America. However, their story truly begins back many years ago in Russia.

In the mid 1800’s in different small towns in Russia, two families worked and lived.

The Singer family’s records begin with Seymour Singer and his wife, Miriam. They had two known children: Anna

Etta Bella Singer and daughters

Etta Bella Singer and daughters

Singer and Louis Singer. Louis met and married Etta Bella Levine and they had three children: Meyer and two sisters whose names are not known.

Schlemel Speendock grew up and married a local girl, Rifka. They had 6 children: Louis, Isaac, Yonkel, Herschel, Gussie and another girl whose name is not known.

Louis Shpeendock became Sam’s grandfather on his mother’s side. Meanwhile, his brother Isaac shortened his last name to Spen and married Anna Singer, sister to Louis Singer who was Sam’s grandfather on his father’s side. This was no doubt how the two families became acquainted.

Both families lived in the outskirts of Kiev, a larger city in Russia, in what we would call a ghetto today and was comprised of Jews who were not allowed to live in the city of Kiev.  Louis Shpeendock, however, was such a fine cabinet maker that the Russian government needed his services and allowed him to live in Kiev as a boarder in a rented room.

Louis & wife Rose Shpeen

Louis & wife Rose Shpeen

Louis Shpeendock married Rose Chizik (her Jewish name was Shana Raisel Chizik) who was born about 1872 in Zhinkov, Russia. Their first baby girl was brought into the world on June 11, 1890. She was named Esther and would become Sam’s mother.

Louis spent the next five years in the Russian army, so their next child, Morris, wasn’t born until Oct. 17, 1895. Two more children eventually followed: Isaac Milton in 1896 and Sara in 1899.

In 1903, Louis decided that life in Russia was so hard and that he could do better for his family in America, the Land of Opportunity. He made his way there and began to find work in the city of Philadelphia as a builder and carpenter. There he  shortened his last name to Shpeen.

Louis and daughter Esther Shpeen 1904

Louis and daughter Esther Shpeen 1904

A year later, 1904, he was able to secure passage for his daughter, Esther, to join him. She was only 14 years old, but found work in one of the infamous “sweat shops” sewing dresses. They worked hard every day and saved enough money to bring the rest of the family over later.

Meanwhile, back in Russia, young Meyer Singer was conscripted into the Russian Army and was sickened by the deplorable conditions soldiers were forced to endure. Even in his home, which was likely a wooden cabin structure, the north wall on the inside would be covered in ice due to the extreme cold weather of the area.

“Meyer”, his mother, Etta Bella, said to him, “You should leave here. Go to America. You have cousins there. There is work too. You are a fine carpenter and Louis Shpeen needs help.”

“But what about you and my two sisters?” Meyer asked.

“We’ll manage. Perhaps your sisters will be able to leave this place too someday. But you must go and have a better life than the Russian Army has to offer. You are only 18 and have your whole life ahead of you.”

While reluctant to leave his family, Meyer knew his destiny was somewhere else and so he followed his dream of a better life. Packing a suitcase with a few clothes and possessions including some of his best tools, he deserted the Army and began a 1300 mile trek across Russia all the way through Europe until he reached England. There he boarded a ship that took him and many more refugees across the Atlantic and deposited them at Ellis Island, the gateway to the New World.

(Meyer’s sisters did also make their way out of Russia, but they ended up in South America somewhere and the family lost touch with them.)

Meyer was exhausted and dirty from his long, arduous journey from his homeland to this frightening new land where he didn’t know the language and couldn’t read any of the signs. He spoke and could read only Yiddish and Hebrew. Suddenly, he was thrust into this huge building, full of other people much like himself, all disoriented and scared for themselves and their future.

His cousins were supposed to meet him here and so he had to wait for them as he knew not another soul. He had to use the bathroom very badly, but here was a big dilemma! He didn’t see one nearby and couldn’t even ask anyone as the people here spoke English and he didn’t.

“If I walk away to hunt for a bathroom, my cousins could come for me and not find me. They’ll leave, never to return and I have no way to contact anyone! I’ll be stuck here all by myself. I have all of my possessions in this suitcase. Surely, if I leave it, someone will steal it and I will have nothing. But if I take it and am gone from this spot, my cousins won’t find me. Oy vey!” Meyer said to himself.

So, in spite of his mounting discomfort, Meyer sat with his suitcase in his spot and waited. And waited. The cousins did not come for him that day. Perhaps there was a mix-up about the date Meyer was to be at Ellis Island. Perhaps the ship docked a day early. At any rate, they did arrive the following day and located Meyer with his suitcase. Deeply relieved, Meyer’s first question in his new life was probably, “Nu, where’s the closest bathroom!”

Meyer worked with Louis Shpeen as a carpenter and so met his daughter, Esther. They were married on June 11, 1911 when she was 21 years old and he was 25. They had 4 children: Adolph (called Al), Sam, Ruth and Adele. Meyer received his citizenship papers Dec. 10, 1917 at 31 years old.

Blanket Chest made by Pop for Marcia

Blanket Chest made by Pop for Marcia

Esther died July 10, 1955 at the age of 65. After this, Meyer went to live with his daughter, Ruth, and her family which included her husband Eddie Pascal, and sons Richard and Phillip. Meyer was no longer working full time as a carpenter, but worked at the Store taking cash and was known to everyone, including the customers, as “Pop”.  He still occasionally made items out of wood such a large blanket chest for Sam’s wife Martha, a smaller one for granddaughter Marcia and a desk top for grandson Jeff. Marcia still has the last two items in her possession.

When Marcia was in her senior year of high school, 1967 to 1968, she got out of school in the early afternoon and was paid to go to the Store to relieve Pop from taking cash so he could eat lunch. He ate breakfast at the Store everyday also. It was an easy task and Marcia got to eat a good lunch herself as she didn’t like what the school served up.

At some point around this time, Ruth and her husband moved to Florida. Sam and Martha went to visit later, but the heat and bugs convinced them this was not going to be where they retired!

Pop then lived in a small apartment on his own and while he wasn’t very religious, he did leave work early on Fridays as was the Jewish custom. However, he did have to work on Saturday because the Store was open.

About 1971, Sam and his brother Al decided it was time to sell the Store and move on. When that happened, Al and his wife moved out to their home in Patchogue, Long Island, Sam got another job and Pop moved to Florida to live once again with Ruth. He stayed with her until he began to have more problems than she could handle and he was put in a secure facility for his own good.

Ruth told of us of some of the problems and one is especially funny in a gross way. Pop became something of a pill addict at this time and took something to help him sleep, then wanted another pill to help him get through the day. It got to the point where he would take any type of pill or medicine he could find and Ruth had to keep them locked up away from him.

One day while Ruth was out, Pop found a bottle of laxative and not even knowing what it was, drank it all down. Well, you can easily guess that the result was…overflowing. Ruth came home to a huge stinking mess of feces just about everywhere! He would also leave the house and wander off and not be able to find his way back until someone found him. She didn’t have it easy, but she took the best care of him that she could. Still, he was safer in a place where professionals could keep an eye on him.

While Pop was physically fairly sound for a man his age, his mind wavered in and out of reality and it seemed like just one day he decided he’d had enough of life.

Meyer “Pop” Singer lived until March 29, 1977 when he passed away at 91 years old. Ironically, Sam Singer died only two months after his father, at the young age of 63, on May 27, 1977 due to a heart attack caused by diabetes and emphysema.

Q