Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday Afternoon at the Madison Theater

Probably once a month or so my wife and I will see a Saturday or Sunday afternoon movie at the Muvico Theater on Airport Road. Being seniors, we pay the same as our youngest grandchildren - $6.50. Such a deal!  But I remember the Saturday afternoon movies in Rochester when I was growing up.  The Madison Theater on Genesee Street.  The building is still there at 300 Genesee Street but it is no longer a theater. 

The Saturday matinee at the Madison was a real bargain, although I'm not sure that I realized that at the time.  Admission was $.16 - that's right, sixteen cents!  And for that you got two feature films, cartoons, coming attractions, news and a serial.  That was a bargain.  In addition, there may be something like a yoyo contest.  Can you imagine a line-up like that today?  I don't think so.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


The United States has been carrying on a war in Iraq since 2003 and at the least the promoters of that war should pronounce the name of that country correctly.  It is not 'Eye-rack' with the emphasis on the second syllable but it is "I-rak' with a short 'I' and the emphasis is on the first syllable.  The same is true of Iran.  It is not 'Eye-ran.'  It is 'I-ran' and and the emphasis is on the first syllable.

Along the same lines, don't confuse the people of Afghanistan with their currency.  This morning on the news I heard Secretary of Defense Gates refer to the people of Afghanistan as the "Afghanis."  The people of Afghanistan are Afghans and the currency of that country is the afghani.

Now I feel better!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hazel's Sweet Shop (a/k/a Mike's)

On Genesee Street in Rochester and right across the street from West High School was a soda shop.  Even the name on the fron of the building was Hazel's Sweet Shop, everybody called it Mike's.  In that same block was (moving south from Hawley Street) was Connor's Drug Store, Red & White Food Store, Decker's Card Shop, a Dry Cleaner Shop and Mikes. Looking at the 1929/1930 City Directory I find: Ballagh, John, druggist (probably preceded Connor's); Flickinger Stores, Inc., grocers (when I worked at the Red & White Flickinger delivered the goods for the store); Spector, Charles, tailor (probably preceded the dry clean shop); Poulis, Michael, confectionery.

So, after all these years I finally know Mike's last name.  On page 1205 of the same City Directory is listed the following:

Poulis, Michael (Hazel), confectionery, 488 Genesee, h[ouse] 352 do

So Mike and Hazel lives just up the street on Genesee St.  In addition, Mike probably had a brother named George (with a wife Helen) that also had a sweet shop on Monroe Ave.  It is amazing what you can find from old City Directories!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Train Travels

Last week I was reading the Rochester Subway blog about the New York Central station on Central Avenue.  The station was demolished in the late 1960's and has been replaced by a 'modern' Amtrak station.   The original was a classic building and listed by the Infrastructurist blog as one of the most beautiful rail stations to hit the wrecking block. 

 I remember the station and can recall my first acquaintance with it.  It was probably in 1948 or 1949 when my Aunt Mae (Mary Eagan O'Brien) took me on my first train ride.  We rode to either Buffalo or Syracuse and then back to Rochester. The high point of the ride - after just being in that huge station - was lunch in the Dining Car.  I don't recall anything about the ride itself but I do recall that lunch.  Imagine eating on a train!

After that inaugural ride from the Central Avenue station there are a few rides that I do remember.  There was a ride to Cleveland when I was in the Little League to see a double header between the Indians and the Yankees.  This was probably in 1951.  Another was a trip from Rochester to Erie, PA to see an Aquinas football game.  (In those days Aquinas did not play any of the Rochester public high schools.)  I seem to recall that the game was called after we were in Erie because of the weather.

My most memorable ride happened in the late 1960's when I was working for IBM in the Rochester branch office.  In addition to programming support I gave to local IBM customers, I also provided area support for customers in western New York with specialized computers (IBM 1800 data acquisition and control system).  The specialist for the eastern portion of the state was in Syracuse but was away at the time.  The customer with the problem was IBM in Poughkeepsie and the weather was terrible.  It was snowing, windy and portion of the NY Thruway was closed so I decided to take the train to Poughkeepsie.  The ride to Poughkeepsie and back was uneventful until we were nearing Rochester late at night.  The conductor talked to me and let me know that the train was late and they would sure like to make up the time before the train reached Buffalo.  He also noted that I was the only passenger scheduled to get off in Rochester.  Then he asked me, "Do you mind when we reach the Rochester station if the train just slows down rather that stop?"  At the time I was in my late 20's so I said, "Sure, I can handle that."  I don't know how slow the train was going when I jumped off but I do recall that I kept running when I hit the platform before I could slow down.

When I enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1961 (I already knew that I was going to be drafted but did not want to go in the Army) my trip to Boot Camp in Parris Island, SC and when Boot Camp finished I took the train from Jacksonville, NC to New York City.  I was with a Boot Camp friend from Kingston, NY and his folks picked us up in NYC and I spent the night at his home in Kingston and then went on to Rochester.  I'm not sure how I got to Rochester.  I may have hitchhiked.  After my leave in Rochester I had to go to San Diego for electronics school so I took the train cross-country to California.  Six days if I recall.  Six days of boredom and beer.  Not an enjoyable trip.

Since those trips I have not taken a train ride (with the exception of the south Florida Tri-Rail) in the US.  My lovely wife and I have had a number of train rides in Europe. In Europe you can go anywhere, at any time and at a reasonable price. Not at all like the States.  Maybe one of these days we will catch up with the Europeans when it comes to transportation systems.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

On the Way Home

Today is the last day of the cruise from Los Angeles through the Panama Canal to Fort Lauderdale.  We expect to arrive in Port Everglades at approximately 8:00 AM.  One thing that I am looking forward to is the cold.  The weather forecast calls for an overnight low of 38 degree.  This means it will be cold in the morning.

Today we played two sessions of Bingo; one in the morning for a cruise in the Caribbean and the other big jackpot game in the afternoon.  The jackpot game was for $4831 - a nice piece of change.  Unfortunately, we did not come even close on either game.  Maybe we'll be luckier on out May cruise to Amsterdam.

We did pretty good in the Casino last night.  We came away winning $157!  Not as much as we lost overall but not bad.  That's it for now.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Cartagena - Part Two

Apparently the low-frequency noise blasters on the deck yesterday worked the trick.  Not a single pirate approached the m/s Amsterdam.  Good job, mates!

We spent most of the day yesterday (in addition to keeping a close watch on pirates) we took a four your tour of the city of Cartegena.  We started by troopsing up a mount to probably the highest point in the city to the La Popa Monestary.  Pictures from there and other sites will be posted on my Flickr site when we get back home on Wednesdat.  From the monestary we traveled to the San Felipe Fortress where the photo above was taken.  It is a huge place with myriad of tunnels and secret places.

From the fortress we traveled to the city's old dungeons.  These were incorporated in the city's wall.  No longer the dungeons they are a series of craft shops.  From there we visited to the Church of San Pedro Clavel where the remains of Peter Clavel, a 17th or 18th century Spanish monk, is in a glass coffin in the high altar.

After visiting these sites we had the mandatory shopping period at a shopping plaza.  Big deal!

Today is a very laid back day.  Not very much going on with the exception of two (count them two) Bingo sessions.  Maybe today is the big day!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Cartagena, Colombia

This morning we are approaching the port of Cartagena in Colombia and as everyone knows Colombia is not the safest country in the world.  So as not to take any chances, the Captain has had low-frequency noise blasters set up on both the port and starboard side of the ship on the outside deck.  Take that uou pirates!

This is not the first time that extra safety precautions have been taken place on our cruises.  While cruising dwon the west coast of Africa a couple of years ago, officers walked the deck all night long.

We are taking a tour in the city of Cartagena and we shall see how things are there.  The unfortunate thing about taking a tour of the city is that we will miss Bingo.  Such is life.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Panama Canal - Part Two

We have finished transiting the Panama Canal and are now in the Caribbean Sea.  Also finished Bingo and no winner again.  (Did I mention yesterday that I won $66?  Well, I did.)

I sat down in our cabin to compose this post and found that now about a half-dozen keys on my netbook are dead!  What a pain in the arse!!!  Right now I am in the library composing this on one of the ship's computers.  Luckily (maybe) I made a mistake and signed for a 500 minute plan for Internet rather a 100 minute plan so I have plenty of on-line time left.  First thing after we get home is to take my brand new netbook to BestBuy!  (After moving the photos to my other laptop.)

Panama Canal

This morning we have just entered the first of the two Miaflores Locks
in the canal. I am in our cabin on deck one and out the window all I
see is the stone wall of the lock. After the ship is completely in the
lock water will fill the lock and we will rise to the next level. To
completely transit the canal takes about eight hours.
We have risen to the next level and now I can see out the window. It is
quite different from the locks that we went through this past summer on
the Rhine River. On the Rhine we could go through a lock in 10 minutes
or so. Because these locks are so much bigger it takes quite a bit longer.

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Years Eve

Last night was New Years Eve on the m/s Amsterdam and again we had one
of the ship's officers at our table for dinner. The beauty of having a
ship's officer at dinner is that he (or she) signs the check for wine
after dinner. Last night's officer was Mark from Mumbai, the ship's
Security Officer.

After dinner, we (as in Pat finally won something at the Roulette
table. It was only $50 but better than nothing. Who knows maybe this
is the start. This afternoon's Bingo session will tell.
At around 4.00 PM we will reach Amador on Flamenco Island where we will
stay until 1.00 AM on Saturday morning. Later in the morning we will
begin our transit of the Panama Canal. As we have seen in the past,
there will be close to a hundred freighter waiting to be let into the
canal. It is necessary to pay the transit fee prior to entering the
canal. Cruise ship companies pay the fee well before arriving at the
entrance. Freighter companies generally wait until the ship arrives and
pays the fee based on its weight.