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Posts Tagged ‘Mechanicsburg’

Three more days…

There were really no cars out. I took this in the center of Simpson Street, a "major" road in Mechanicsburg.

Today’s blog post is from Day 346 which was Thanksgiving.  I was in Mechanicsburg with my father.  Dad cooked a delicious turkey and I handled some of the sides.  My favorite is the stuffing.  In fact I made two stuffings.  Dad prefers cornbread stuffing, but I’m more of a bread stuffing guy.  I make sure to add a little sausage and plenty of sage like my mother used to do.  I also added pine nuts which I don’t think she did.

After the tasty spread was consumed along with a blurry amount of wine, I decided that I should try to go and find my recipient of the day.  I decided to walk, note the reference to wine above, and headed out toward downtown Mechanicsburg.  I was going to head to the CVS at 30 East Simpson Street.  It’s probably less than a mile from the house although I bet people rarely walk there from my father’s neighborhood.  Most people here drive everywhere.  Dad decided to stay behind because of his knee – at least that’s what he said, maybe it was because there was still some wine left!  “I don’t think CVS will be open,” he shouted down to me as I opened the front door.

The town looked abandoned.  The streets were empty and rather dark with a hint of precipitation making everything glisten ever so slightly.  I could peek through the windows of several homes and see families sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner.  Several houses already had their Christmas lights on.  

I got to the CVS and saw that it was in fact open.  There were two cars in the parking lot, one of which had just arrived.  A couple with a small child got out and disappeared into the store.  “Maybe I’ll give it to them,” I thought.  They ended up eluding me and I shifted my focus to my cashier: Kristen.

Kristen is a shift supervisor at CVS.

The 19-year-old is originally from a place called Troy, Missouri, “about 45 miles north of St. Louis.”  She’s the shift supervisor and had been there since 4:00pm – it was about 7:00pm. 

“Can I donate the $10?” she asked.

After explaining that she could do anything she wanted to with it she grabbed a piece of paper near the register that said, “St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.”  Each card is worth a $2 donation.  She swiped it five times.  I looked at the card more closely and it said, “Help fight childhood cancer.”

Children are probably on her mind these days.  Kristen, who lives with her boyfriend, is expecting a baby in May.  “We don’t know if it is a boy or girl yet,” she started, “and I am not sure I want to know.”  She has an appointment December 30th and they will know then if they choose to.  

We were joined then by a co-worker, Atle, who coincidentally has a sister named Reed!  Wow…I almost never find someone named Reed – although I did give my $10 to a guy named Read on Day 280 – much less a woman.  The store was dead and they looked bored.  They had another two hours before they could go home to their families.

Atle (left) poses with Kristen in front of the a shelf of "Light Up Santa Clauses." Thanksgiving isn't even over yet!

As we chatted Kristen’s boyfriend’s family was probably just finishing up the big meal.  “They had dinner at 6:00pm,” she said looking down slightly.  “But this was really special – I’ll remember this Thanksgiving because of this – otherwise I’d just remember coming to work and going home and eating leftovers.”   

Kristen and her boyfriend live in a one bedroom apartment and live on a modest income.  If you would like to help them through this financially difficult time, please drop me a note.  “We could use pretty much anything for our baby.”

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Barb in front of the laundromat in downtown Mechanicsburg, PA. (photo: Reed)

Day 266 was Labor Day. 

I spent all day here at my dad’s house.  I needed to go out and find someone to give my $10 to and he offered to join me.  We were going to walk down to the downtown area of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, but his knee and back have been bothering him and he was not sure that walking down there would be a good idea.  So we hopped in the car and drove over there and then walked around. 

We parked in front of Dieners, a breakfast institution in this town. We walked east down Main Street, past Jo Jo’s Pizzeria, which incidentally has possibly the world’s best Italian sub, when I spotted a laundromat just past the Gingerbread Man.  There were two women talking and my dad and I decided to walk up a little further to see who we find.  We past the main square where Main and Market Streets come together and walked another block past Myer’s funeral home, where my mother’s funeral was held, until we arrived at Eckels Drug Store (trivia: this is where a scene from Girl Interrupted was filmed.)

Dad and I headed back toward the laundromat to give the $10 to someone there.  When we got there Barb was coming out with her dog Diva.

Barb's pooch (photo: Reed)

Barb was born in Harrisburg and then moved to Shiremanstown before moving to Mechanicsburg some 45 years ago where she graduated from Mechanicsburg High School.  She has three children and two step-children, 15 grandkids and one great-grandson who will be two soon.  We spent a lot of time talking about her kids.  In fact, she had just returned earlier that day from visiting her son down in Bel Air, Maryland.

She couldn’t decide what she was going to do with the ten dollars, but she did give me her address so I can follow up with her later and see what she decides on.  When I told her that I find one person every day and I chose her for this day she said, “Wow…that is really great.  It is really nice of you that you do this – not too many people would do it.”

“I love people,” the 62-year-old told me.  She lit a cigarette, exhaled and went on, “I don’t have a lot of money to do things for others, but I am always volunteering my services.”  She told me about a friend of hers who was going through a difficult time.  Her friend, who is battling cancer, has a son in prison out near Pittsburgh who got extremely ill and is now in a coma.  “I do what I can for her, sometimes just making some phone calls to let others know how she is doing.” 

Barb didn't make it to Jo Jo's before they closed because she took time to talk to me. (photo: Reed)

Main Street was quite dark now and I checked my watch.  It was 9pm.  She was going to try to get some food at Jo Jo’s so we walked toward the restaurant that is housed in an old fire station.  Unfortunately by the time we got there they had just locked the door.  “I guess I will head up toward the Chinese place,” Barb said.  I felt bad, had I not stopped to talk with her she would have made it in time to get her dinner at Jo Jo’s.  Well, at least she had a few extra dollars for her dinner.

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Every Labor Day they hold the Granger's Fair.

I decided to drive up to my father’s house and spend the Labor Day weekend with him.  On Saturday I made the two-hour drive from Washington, DC to Mechanicsburg, PA.  Having grown up there and returned home countless times, I am very familiar with the route.  I made my way through Dillsburg and then turned left onto York Rd. and drove about a mile.  Then a right onto Williams Grove Rd.  It’s only about 5 miles from there to my dad’s house.  I hadn’t gone even a half mile when I saw a sea of farm equipment sprawled out over a field to my left.  A little further I saw a sign that said “Welcome to Steam Engine Hill.”  I decided to pull in and see what was going on.

“Dad, I’m going to be a little late for dinner, I’ve stopped up here at William’s Grove Park at a tractor exhibition or something,” I told my father on the phone.  I paid $3 to park and got out of my car and started to walk around.

photo: Reed

There were hundreds of tractors.  Sometimes you would look down an aisle and not see the end.  There were all kinds too: large, small, new, old, shiny, rusty, diesel, gas, kerosene, etc.  They had a parade at sunset and all the tractors were lining up getting ready to do a lap around the fairgrounds.  I came across a guy atop a tractor that was waiting to get into the parade and I decided to introduce myself.  We talked for a little while but he was reluctant to accept my $10.  “I’m actually not the owner of this tractor,” he told me.  That didn’t really matter to me, but he said he would rather pass on the opportunity.  I walked a short distance away and saw a large old tractor that was inching its way forward in the parade.  

Dave's parents paid $75 for the tractor in 1972. (photo: Reed)

Dave was at the wheel of a 1928 Farmall Regular, a four thousand pound American made tractor.  I yelled up to him and asked if he had a few minutes to talk and he said, “Sure come on up.”  I climbed up onto the tractor and tried to find a secure place to stand.  Dave recommended that I sit down on the side of the tractor to ensure that I didn’t fall off.  Probably a wise call.

 “Hang on,” he hollered over at me.  “I’ve got it floored.”  Thankfully maximum speed on one of these guys is only three or four miles an hour. 

photo: Reed

A mechanical engineer, Dave works as a project manager for a firm near his home in Millersburg, PA.  “As a mechanical engineer this stuff really impresses me,” Dave says looking over at dozens of parked tractors.  

I asked the 51-year-old how old he was and smiled and said, “Old enough to know better, too young to resist.”  He is married and has three grown daughters.  His passion for these vintage tractors and interest in engineering was not been passed on to his girls it seems.  “I thought my oldest was going to be an engineer, but she turned out to be mathematically challenged,” Dave tells me with a grin.  Although his daughters weren’t at the fair, his parents, wife and brother were all there.  In fact I saw his father and brother driving some of the other tractors they own.  That’s right, Dave owns several tractors, but I get the feeling that this Farmall is special.

He said he would probably put the $10 toward parts and supplies for his tractor.  “It’s getting harder and harder to find parts for it.”

Dave allowed me to go through the parade with him.  It was a great honor.  I got literally a front row seat to the entire parade!  We drove by main part of the parade and they announced Dave’s name and the tractor’s make, model and year.  “There’s no judges, no prizes,” Dave says.  “We do this because we love it.”

We made our way to the end of the parade and dismounted the classic row farming tractor.  He points out that the original wheels were steel and although it runs on gasoline now it originally ran on kerosene.  

Dave's brother Justin gives him a ride on a Wheel Horse tractor. "That was the first thing with a steering wheel that I ever drove." -Dave (photo: Reed)

Dave’s brother Justin came over and said hello.  I took some more photographs of them and their tractors.  They drove away on a small Wheel Horse tractor.  Justin drove while Dave hitched a ride in trailer that it was pulling.  I waved goodbye and headed on my way to my dad’s house.

I was really late by this time…thankfully he wasn’t upset.  He was just happy to see me.  Gotta love my dad!

Here is great video of me talking with Dave as we rode in the parade.

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Welcome to Mechanicsburg, PA, a suburb of the state capital of Harrisburg and a stone’s throw away form the Three Mile Island – the nuclear facility that suffered a partial core meltdown in a pressurized water reactor almost 31 years ago to the day.

”]I was walking in the downtown area of Mechanicsburg when I walked by Mike sitting on his front porch using his computer.  It was chilly out but he was enjoying the crisp air.  Mike is 50 years old, father of two girls, and the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority.   They are an independent state agency charged with taking steps to reduce and eliminate medical errors by identifying problems and recommending solutions that promote patient safety.

When I asked Mike what he was going to do with the money, he originally said he didn’t know but that it wouldn’t be used for anything for him.  He later got a great idea that no one has mentioned to me yet.  He said he was going to involve his two daughters in the decision and discuss with them what would be appropriate to do with the $10.  I love this idea.  This is an excellent opportunity for Mike to talk with his children about giving.  What do they think about what I am doing?  What do they think they should do with the $10?  Do they do things for others in their daily lives?

Mike agreed to get back to me after he had a chance to discuss this with his girls.  In the meantime, check out some footage of Mike that I shot while we spoke.

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Merry Christmas everyone.

Today was wonderful.  We got up early to exchange gifts since my brother and his fiancée Mandy had to get on the road to visit her family in New Jersey.  After exchanging gifts and hugs we had some breakfast and even managed to squeeze in a game or two of bridge before Ryan and Mandy had to leave. 

My father and I worked on straightening up the house some and decided to catch a movie.  We went over to the Camp Hill Theaters on Simpson Ferry Road to see Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.  Inspiring movie, although I think director Clint Eastwood’s other recent works are a notch above this one.  My dad really enjoyed it.  As we exited the theater I looked for someone to give the $10 to.

I found 26-year-old Mike from Mechanicsburg.  He was standing alone next to a bucket of popcorn and two large drinks.  Mike had just finished seeing Sherlock Holmes, which he gave a thumbs up for.  He was waiting for Avatar, the new film out by James Cameron.  As he seemed to be a bit of a movie fan, I asked him what his favorite all time movie was.  He settled on the 1995 hit The Usual Suspects.  Fine choice I might add.

Mike was not sure what he was going to do with the money.  Said he would probably spend it on himself in some way or another…something to eat or something he needs to pick up here or there.  I reckon there is a chance he stays for a third film today :).

So, counting today, I have completed 11 days of giving…353 more to go!  I find it interesting that none of the recipients have commented on the website or sent me a comment.  I think that hearing their point of view would enrich the project tremendously and I encourage any and all of the recipients who might wander back to the site to check in.  Let us know if you ended up spending the money the way you thought or if you changed your mind.  What type of reaction have you received from those with whom you have shared your story? 

By the way, I followed up with an email to our Scottish mate David, who we were introduced to on Day 5, however, I have not heard back from him either.  I was hoping to meet up once more with him before he heads off to Afghanistan.

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It’s Christmas Eve. (Actually, its 1:30am on Christmas Day now, so Merry Christmas.)

I am in Mechanicsburg, PA. 

It is about 15 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

I am at my father’s house with my brother and his fiancée.  We spent the day talking, playing cards, watching Star Wars (it’s been on all day), doing last minute shopping, wrapping gifts, listening to Christmas music, and eating lots of food.  My dad was a real hero today too.  He insisted on getting the grill out tonight to cook the steaks he had bought.  Yes, outside.  He does make some of the best steaks I have ever had, but when the grill has ice sickles on it, that’s a sign that we should use the indoor oven.

Anyway, my brother and I decided to go out and see how the central Pennsylvanians would react to my project.  Frankly, it was not as easy as you would think to give away $10 here.  We went to a pharmacy and approached three people.  All of whom said no to participating in the Year of Giving.  One didn’t even want to talk to me.  Another took the web address and said he would check out the website.  The store manager declined saying that there were others more deserving of the money than he.

So we left and headed across the street to a video rental store.  Since they were open we thought we would try to find someone who was working on Christmas Eve and give them the $10.  We walked in the store and immediately found Matt behind the counter.

A white 27 year old physics grad student at Penn State, Matt is originally from Boston.  He said he plans to concentrate his studies on Newtonian physics and would really be happy if someone would recommend him for the MacArthur Fellowship – aka the Genius Award which is given out each year to 20-40 people in the US of any age and working in any field who “show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work.”  While you are at it, you can recommend me too!  Aside from the recognition, you get a cool $500,000.

Matt said he didn’t have much planned for the end of the year.  As a Buddhist he said he would not be celebrating much except for New Year’s Eve, which he planned to have a few drinks.  St. Patrick’s Day, he said, was really his favorite holiday.

So the big question.  What is he going to do with his $10?  Matt plans to buy some Marlboro Menthol Lights in the short 72mm hard packs.  I had no idea that there were so many options with cigarettes.  Now, I can honestly tell you that this is the first time in my life that I have ever given money to someone to buy cigarettes.  I am vehemently opposed to smoking.  Just a note to those who do smoke this type…check out this review of them on rateitall.com.  I don’t know if the info there is true or not, but there is a claim there that those specific cigarettes have “a ‘salt’ (not like the kind you eat) in them that allows the nicotine to be absorbed by the very sensitive skin in you tongue, cheeks, throat, etc.”  Matt, I have a great suggestion for a New Year’s resolution for you :).  You can do it!  BTW, congrats to my friend Aimee who just celebrated one month without smoking.

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