Boys ‘n’ Toys

dashcam-atlanta-traffic-12-22-2016I figured I’d better get this posted before another Christmas rolls around. (It was supposed to go up before 2016 went to sleep, but the software didn’t want to upload the pix). I normally take two to 2-1/2 days to make it from Cape to West Palm Beach, a distance of 1,110 miles, no matter which route I take. I had the traffic day from hell going through Chattanooga and Nashville. I spent almost all day making less than 200 miles. Even Atlanta, caught at rush hour in the dashcam photo above, only took an hour to clear.

That put me at Son Matt’s house just in time to chow down on Christmas Eve with Sarah, Malcolm and Wife Lila. I was too tired and too busy eating to take pictures of the festivities there.

Christmas at Kid II

Christmas at Adam Steinhoff's 12-25-2016Christmas Day found us out at Son Adam and Carly’s watching Grandsons Graham, Elliot and Finn playing with Santa’s leavings. Wife Lila had made each of the boys a unique Christmas ornament out of palm fronds from the yard, and she wanted to get a shot of the three of them holding them.

Since she had that angle covered, I shot what it was like to herd mischievous cats.

Boys can make blasters

Christmas at Adam Steinhoff's 12-25-2016This goes to prove that boys can make blasters out of anything, not exactly the Christmas spirit image Gran had in mind.

True confession time

Christmas at Adam Steinhoff's 12-25-2016I make a tiny percentage when you shop on Amazon after pressing the Big Red Button at the top of the page. I try to shop locally, but I find myself hitting the Red Button on a regular basis. Since I rely on reviews to make purchasing decisions, I feel it only fair to review stuff I’ve bought.

Have you ever read a review where somebody confesses that they received the item for free or at a discount? Well, I must have written enough reviews that vendors are starting to send me discount and free offers to review their stuff. One of the items was a set of Maggift 30 Pcs Magnetic building blocks.

That sounded like a great stocking stuffer, particularly for free. The older boys were too into their battery-powered toys to be excited by this, and Finn was initially more interested in destroying things his mother made with the blocks than making things himself.

Hey, these things go together

Christmas at Adam Steinhoff's 12-25-2016It didn’t take him long to discover the magnets made it easy to stack the pieces together by shape. The box says ages 3+ but Finn, who is half that, found them fascinating. They look too big to be a choking hazard, and the magnets are affixed well enough that I don’t think they would break off.

A quiet moment

Christmas at Adam Steinhoff's 12-25-2016Any toy that will keep an active toddler occupied and quiet is a good toy. I’ll end up filing a 4 out of 5 star rating for it. A four because the product arrived on time and was as described. Something has to really knock my socks off to get five stars, something I point out to vendors before I agree to review it.

Y’all have a happy and prosperous 2017.


Hutson’s 2015 Window

Hutson's Furniture Store Christmas Display 11-26-2015You know it’s Christmas season when crowds show up in front of the Hutson Furniture Store’s window on Thanksgiving night. It was a great mix of people: old folks in wheelchairs, teenagers on dates, young parents whose kids pressed their noses and hands against the glass.

I remember the display as being bigger when I was a kid, but EVERYTHING was bigger back when I was a kid. It was a perfect night to stand out on Main Street. The temps were in the low 60s, the winds were calm, and the flash flood watch doesn’t kick in until Friday night.

Here’s what the display looked like in 2011.

Hutson’s Window photo gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move around.

It’s that time of year again

Buy From to Support Ken SteinhoffEverybody is getting all excited about Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Overspend Wednesday (I made that one up), so I’m going to join the din.

If you are going to shop Amazon anyway, please go to my blog and click on the big red ‘Click Here’ button at the top left of the page (or, this one). That’ll take you directly to Amazon with a code embedded. If you buy something, I’ll make from four to seven percent of your purchase price without it costing you anything.

Think of it as being your painless Christmas present to me.

OK, It’s REALLY Christmas

Chocolate covered cherries 12-22-2014_5259
This has been a strange Christmas season. Even Mother, when I called her Sunday night, said she’s having a heard time getting into the spirit of the times despite having her Christmas decorations up.

Maybe we’ve all been traveling so much lately that we’re needing recharging more than celebrating.

Still, Wife Lila came home from shopping today with something that convinced me that it really IS Christmas. She gave me two boxes of chocolate-covered cherries. I’ve associated those with Christmas ever since I was a kid.

One thing for sure: a chocolate-covered cherry can find a cavity faster than a dentist with a fresh x-ray. After I finished off the cherry that sacrificed its life for art, I was glad to report that I am cavity-free.

You can click on the photo to make it large enough to make your teeth hurt.

Archie Smiley’s Family Christmas

Archie Smiley family at Christmas 12-24-1966The Christmas Eve Missourian caption reads¬† “It’s Great to be Home! ‘Especially for Christmas’ was the comment of Archie T. Smiley, 49, of 903 South Pacific, who recently won his battle for life following open heart surgery in Barnes Hospital in St. Louis. Here, Mr. Smiley decorates the Christmas tree in his home with the help of his wife and children. From left, standing, they are Thomas Wayne (Butch), Beverly Ann, Mrs. Smiley, Mr. Smiley and Theresa Lynn. Sheila Kay is seated on the floor.” (You can click on the photo to make it larger.)

I had heard of Mr. Smiley before, but didn’t remember shooting his photo or much about his story except that he had lost his hands and that he ran a bicycle repair shop. The 1966 story, which unfortunately has big chunks of type missing in key places, said that his hands were injured in a fireworks accident. Gunpowder entered his bloodstream after the explosion and caused blood poisoning. He was in the hospital on his graduation day, the story said, and the Chaffee High School principal “took him his diploma early for fear the lad might not live” to accept it later.

Stories mentioned that he played football in high school, repaired bicycles in a shop located in his home, drove a car and “managed handwriting better than most persons do with two hands.”

Lots of news for a nickel on July 5, 1928

While looking for the original account of the 4th of July accident, I stumbled across these stories in the July 5, 1928, Missourian. You sure got your nickel’s worth THAT day.

Community rallies for Smiley

Archie Smiley family at Christmas 12-24-1966

When Smiley needed heart surgery and family resources ran low, friends and strangers from all over the world started sending money. By Christmas Eve, the family had received about $2,200. His operation was to install a heart valve in a plastic cage inside his chest, said the story by Skeets Sonderman.

“Not only will this help pay my expenses, but now my family can have a nice Christmas. The children, however, will get mostly clothes and useful items. There will be toys for the younger ones, too,” he said.