Posts Tagged With: Henry J


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I flew to Boston, arrived about peak commute time which is why we decided to get a hotel instead of crawling our way to our destination. As it was, it took over an hour to drive the seven miles from the airport to our hotel.

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That last-minute decision landed us in the “Motel From Hell” from a supposedly decent chain, Econo Lodge. We had a great laugh about how horrible it was, the front door to the lobby handle came off in Jim’s hand when he opened the door and the problems piled up after that. A friend of mine once got drunk and slept all night in a hotel in Vegas with a dead body under his mattress. That was in the 1960’s.  I was reminded of that incident because of the smell. Well, we survived. I was tired and slept well even so.

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In the morning, we met Jim’s high school friends, Bill and Loretta Gallagher. Bill and Jim like to tour their old neighborhood and remind themselves of all their teenage exploits.

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Jim is pointing at Bill and telling Loretta how he had the hot date with Perry Como’s niece so Bill was tailgating Jim and following him so they couldn’t get to the favorite necking spot without witnesses. So Jim tries to shake him with a quick  U turn in the middle of the road and Bill T boned his car.

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And then there was the time they got stopped by the DMV guys, who always hung out on this one corner and stopped cars to check for their licenses and registration. Bill was driving his Henry J.  Out piled 13 kids before Bill could get his registration out of the glove box.

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And then, another time, they were headed for a “rumble” with their chains and chocks when the clutch burned out in the old Henry J and probably saved their lives.  Oh, yeah. These guys lived the life of Fonzie.

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We cruised the old neighborhood, with the guys marveling that the old trailer park where Jim lived was still there. Jim lived in a 12 foot trailer from age 10 to 14 with his parents and younger brother.

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When he was in Jr. High, he crawled under the fence to Suffolk Downs, lied his age, and got a job grooming horses.

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We visited the track but the place was empty. The track was being groomed and no horses in sight.

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We stopped at the oldest Cemetery in the area. Bill pointed out where there was a building from the 1600’s on this site, an old house.  The City of Revere didn’t have the money to fix it up, a fact that still annoys him that they would tear down this historic building instead of finding a way to preserve it through alternative financing.

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The gates were closed and we couldn’t enter.

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Then we met Dolly and Arthur at Demaino’s restaurant, where everyone went for Pizza in the 1950’s.  Arthur is 85 and didn’t attend high school with the rest of them.

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Amazingly, Loretta and Dolly have known each other since they were three years old.

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The only one missing is their other partner in crime, Al Penta who lives in the state of Washington. But, they always hoist a glass and remember him when they get together.

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Our time was short and sweet and then we drove to Dartmouth to Jim’s cousin’s house, Donna and Bob Parker.  Donna and I are both foodies and she immediately brought us some home-made Portuguese cookies and zucchini bread.

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Then we had dinner at one of their favorite restaurants, Antonio’s. There was a sign on the wall, Martha Stewart was here, with her picture. I guess they took over the whole restaurant with their entourage. Anyway, the food is well-known to everyone in the area. Jim and I shared what is supposed to be a single entree, the Chicken Algarvia with chicken breast, shrimp and little neck clams.

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Bob and Donna shared their entree of Pork Ribatejana, with pork, shrimp, little neck clams in a broth with fried potatoes.

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And, like the entrees, the beers are huge. Bob chugs down the last swallow.  We’ll be staying here for five days. I dieted before arriving. You can guess why.

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From my computer I got this story of a man ahead of his time.

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Freddy Heineken, like Henry J Kaiser,  was  ahead of his time. (Remember the Henry J?) He decided to make a bottle for his beer that could be recycled into a brick. Notice the neck fits into a dimple in the bottom of the bottle, a perfect fit like a brick.

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There were buildings made with Heineken beer bottles, but not the wave that Freddy envisioned.

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Freddy thought a square bottle would be more desirable and easier to build with.


He also designed a cube, to help the building process by smoothing corners and giving some variance to length. But, in the end, people just didn’t like square bottles. A round bottle fits the hand better. And, that is the end of the story. Don’t I wish I had a couple of those bottles for my decorative bottle fence?

Henry J’s failed to attract buyers and were sold off quickly. My father bought a second-hand one and we were teased by neighbor kids about our weird car, most likely imitating their parents talk at the dinner table.

Recycling has reached new heights and if Freddy is still around, I hope he knows he was a man ahead of his time.

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I received an email about creative recycling and I could really put this to work in my yard.

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I wouldn’t mind an herb garden reachable from my kitchen window.

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I’ve used plastic bottles for a number of projects, but these are better ideas than mine.

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This is a great way to use an old shoe,  but I would worry about a predator bird getting to these vulnerable babies where I live.

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I’d prefer to use old shoes for plants. I have several candidates in my garage.

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With a long, squirrel proof wire, this would work very well, if hung far enough from the ground with no access from a table or other device.  I got my first crop of crab grass from the scattered seed on the ground. Now you can buy bird seed without noxious weed seed.

After yesterdays pouring rain and chill, we are expecting 86 degree weather today. We are in Allentown, PA. where Jim once lived many years ago. We’ll go to a huge fine arts  museum so I can get my art fix.

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How many people can you fit into a Henry J?  Fourteen, if you are a teenager from the 1950’s. Jim and his school chum Al Penta spent time reminiscing about their high school antics for an hour over lunch. Al, in the biking costume, brought along his friend, Ed.  As we parted, Al told us about the Vaux’s (rhymes  with foxes) migration going on.

At dusk, we drove back to town and situated ourselves at the Frank Wagner Elementary School to watch thousands of Vaux’s Swifts get ready for bed. The second largest congregation of Swifts in North America have chosen this four foot square chimney to spend their nights.

Before the birds began their nighttime action, people gathered on the school lawn with their cameras and chairs. Peak time was Sept 2nd when 3455 swifts settled  into the chimney. The school has a camera mounted on the chimney and a monitor in a window where you can watch them snuggling in.

Swifts do not perch. They dig their claws into rough surfaces and cling. In a chosen chimney or hollow tree, they pack in like shingles,overlapping each other for warmth.

The school and Pilchuck Audubon Society supplied brochures, a story board  and docents to answer questions from watchers.

They began gathering near the chimney before dark, still darting about snapping up mosquitoes. The swifts  are leading their young from north-western Canada and Washington, to Central America and Venezuela.

Soon thousands of them were performing aerial maneuvers, mostly darting and circling, and re-circling. It makes you wonder how they can recognize their mates and young.

Vaux’s forage, eat, drink mate, court, and collect nesting materials while in flight. The picture showing a drinking swift gives you a clue why they like this area with its river and swampy mosquito breeding areas.

No one knows what signal begins their actual plunge into their chosen roosting spot. They move so swiftly, hence the name, you can barely see them enter, just a flutter of wings, then another circling as a new batch gathers for the plunge.

The numbers begin to thin. Sometimes they circle in one direction, then switch to another direction. They enter head first, then tail first. It seems peculiar, but they obviously know how to get into a small space. The birds are 4 to 5 inches long. At night they slow their metabolism to a near dormant state to conserve energy while sleeping.

We didn’t stay until the last swift disappeared down the chimney, but the docent told us that one night 3 single birds circled and circled as though they couldn’t find room at the inn. When they finally flew into the chimney, the crowd applauded. By the time we left, there were about fifty people watching.  The cumulative  count, as of Sept. 10th, was 33,546 .  Nature always provides a fascinating spectacle.

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