Signs of Christmas

Joe Snell Christmas Ornaments 12-07-2013There are several things that indicate that Christmas is here : eggnog, a box of chocolate-covered cherries (better than a trip to the dentist to see if you have any cavities) and a card from Joe Snell with a handmade ornament in it.

I don’t know how many years Joe has been making these things, but I could lay my hands on five of them in the top of the ornament box.

Photos of Joe and his Dad

Joe Snell CHS c 1964Joe and I went to school together, worked on the Central High School photo staffs and were members of Trinity Lutheran School’s Scout Troop 8. I got to know him and his parents well. Here are some other stories with Joe in them.

 

Wrapping Up 2012

Stenciled Happy New Year sign in Steinhoff front windowI ran this photo back in May with some basketball tournament photos, so I hope that either everybody is so hung over they won’t bother to read the page on New Year’s Day or that they have gotten to the age where their short-term memory has gone blank.The Happy New Year sign was on our living room window.

I never was fond on New Year’s Eve

I don’t have a lot of fond memories of New Year’s Eve. I never cared much for parties and particularly didn’t like to be out on “amateur night,” when the streets had drunk drivers roaming around. One night in particular, and I remember it as New Year’s Eve, but I can’t swear to it, I was on my way home when I rolled up on a fresh wreck. Car vs. utility pole with the vehicle on its side and the wires sparking all over the place.

STAY IN THE CAR

Somehow or another, I managed to convince the people in the car to STAY THERE. As long as the car isn’t on fire or about to explode, you’re a lot safer inside. The metal body works like a Faraday Cage, with the electrical charge riding the surface of the vehicle. If the occupant gets out and gives the power a chance to use his body as a path to ground, things get ugly. If you can’t jump completely clear of the vehicle, then you are better off waiting until the power is cut off.

I don’t know if I had to load my camera in the dark and in the excitement, but I didn’t get the end of the roll of film engaged in the takeup spool and it slipped off when I hit the advance lever. I was clicking away like mad, but there was no film being pulled through to be exposed. After the power had been shut off and the victims transported, I left. I’m not sure how long it was before I checked the camera and discovered my mistake, but by the time I got back, all I was able to shoot was a mugshot of a car with a power pole on top of it.

I never loaded a camera again without reaching for the rewind knob and making sure there was resistance, indicating that the end of the film was firmly on the takeup spool.

Let’s put another myth of rest: your rubber tires won’t keep you safe. I worked a cherrypicker that tangled with a power line. The voltage was high enough that the charge arched from the steel rims of the huge truck tires to ground, melting the rubber. One of the workers had the good sense to stay on the truck. The other panicked and tried to get down. He evidently had one hand on the truck when his feet hit the ground because all that electricity found him a more convenient path than having to arc through the air. THAT was an object lesson you don’t forget.

Tornado time

Lightning storm c 1966We had an elderly woman, Helen, living across the street from us who enjoyed Southern Comfort and shrimp cocktail. We invited her over to ring in the New Year with us. I had just poured the first drink and reached for the first shrimp when I got a call from the office: a rare winter tornado had swept though an RV park on an island in Lake Okeechobee near Belle Glade. There were reports of injuries and power lines down. It was late, but could I get somebody out there and back in time to make deadline?

I knew where the park was and I knew I was sober, so I saddled up and drove 50 miles through driving rain, dodged arcing power lines, shot off enough frames to show that SOMETHING had happened and jetted back. I made deadline with some not-so-memorable photos, but sometimes that’s all you can hope for.

So, I am going to be as happy to be sitting here at home on New Year’s Eve, hoping all that ammo our neighbors are shooting up into the sky will come down on them and not rain down on our house.

 

 

 

Graham and the Christmas Lights

Adam - Carly - Graham Steinhoff Christmas lights FL 12-21-2012_0252There’s a neighborhood around Gabriel Lane, just down the road from us that has been known for its holiday decorations for decades. Wife Lila wanted to walk Grandson Graham through it in his stroller like she had done with our boys.

Unfortunately, she picked the first night of the winter when we were under a Wind Chill Advisory. Temps in the low 50s don’t sound cold to you folks who experience wind chills in the negative 50 range, but this is FLORIDA.

Traffic is usually heavy in the neighborhood, so the game plan was for me to drive to a side road where Lila, Adam, Carly, Graham and all the paraphernalia a nearly-two-year-old needs would be off-loaded. When they were through walking around, I’d swing by and load up the survivors.

As it turned out, we found a parking spot close enough that we could all go. That’s when I realized that I had dressed to sit in a nice, warm car, not face Arctic blasts. It’s hard to hold your camera steady when you’re shivering.

Photo gallery of Christmas walk

I shot everything available light (available dark?). From time to time, I’d try to time my shot for when a car headlight would throw some fill onto Graham, but it generally made for an ugly effect. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the photo to move through the gallery.

We’re getting into a few days when folks are going to be busy with family activities, so I’ll probably post some light-weight topics until after the holiday. Since the Mayans didn’t get us, our family wishes your family a Merry and a Happy.