Saturday, May 3, 2008

I'm back

Now that I have awakened from my long siesta I will try to get back on track with "The World According To Papa." On my last blog we were in Eagle Rock and about ready to move to Plummer but before we go I have a couple more memories to share. The first I can't honestly say I remember but it's more of a shared memory that I spoke of early on. The kids were across the track by the river in our vegetable garden digging potatoes when my oldest brother came across a nest of white eggs buried in the soft river bottom soil. Wow! what a find! He collected them and decided to take them to Grandpa's house sorta like a show and tell. Grandpa was very up set when he brought them into the house. You see, they were rattlesnake eggs. Had they hatched they are poisonous from the very beginning of their life. Needless to say they were quickly destroyed.

There was a man of the Jewish faith that came through Eagle Rock about ever 6-8 weeks with an old rattle trap of a truck and he carried every thing you can imagine for the kitchen and for house cleaning supplies. He always stopped at Grandma's house to see if she needed any thing. She would always buy something, maybe cleanser or canning supplies or maybe a vegetable brush, etc. She would always invite him to have a sandwich, bowl of soup or some other lunch item. I remember he asked her, "Mrs. Stephens, do you brush your bread from the oven with butter or with lard?" Grandma said always with butter. He said, "Mrs. Stephens, I trust you. Some people would try to fool me as the Jewish people could eat no pork products and lard is made from pork." Grandma had a reputation through the hill country as being a strong Christian and very honest in all things.

In the early 40's life for a kid was pretty good. We were very poor but didn't know it as we were never hungry, we always had warm clothes on our back and not a worry in the world. Of course as we look back from the lofty perch of old age we just shake our heads in wonder at how they did it. But worry was for parents not for kids. As we travel down this road we will spend a lot more time with my Mother, Grandma Orr. She was the most amazing person I have ever known as she worked so hard to provide for the family. As I mentioned we had no electricity or running water which meant that all that we ate was canned or cured for the Winter months. In my minds eye I can still see those rows and rows of canned tomatoes, beans, peaches, pears, beef, jams and jellies and all the other goodies prepared for Winter. She canned literally 100"s of jars of food on an old wood stove in that small house with no running water and four kids hanging on her apron. There was a small cave on the side of the hill by the house that served as a food pantry year around. In the Summer months it never really got too hot and in the Winter it didn't get cold enough to freeze. It worked pretty well but of course you never knew what kind of critter might decide to make a home there. Through it all Momma as we all very lovingly called her always had a great sense of humor and always a strong faith in God. We were truly blessed to have a family foundation that was laid so deep and so strong.

Now maybe next blog we will be loaded and ready to move to Plummer.

Friday, April 18, 2008

More Eagle Rock

I think all of my brothers and sisters would agree that Eagle Rock held a special place in our hearts. The sound of Eagle Rock goes down as a favorite memory for me. It was located in the hills of the Allegheny river valley and sounds seemed to be amplified by the mountains. As I mentioned Grandpa had collie dogs and when they barked there voices would literally ring off the hills and seemed to carry forever. I can still hear that excited bark every time someone would pull in on the road up above.

Of course it was a different time and a different world then we live in now. There were very few cars and any time you heard an old Model "T" or a Model"A" echoing through the hills we would run out to see who was going by. There were only 3 or 4 cars go past on a normal day. On the hill above Grandpa's house there was a natural spring that ran continuous and still runs to this day. Many folks would come just to get that ice cold, delicious spring water from the pipe that came out of the ground. There was nothing like it on a hot summer day.

I mentioned grandpa's collies. The first one that I remembered was Laddie. Laddie was getting pretty old by the time I was old enough to remember him but he sure was smart. He could do all the routine tricks like sitting, rolling over, playing dead and such. He could speak when asked and he could also whisper. Grandpa would ask him if he wanted something and he would whisper, "uh huh" very plainly. He could also put his paws on the door knob and let himself out or in to the house. Grandpa had cows and he could turn them out in the meadow with no fence, Laddie would lay on the front porch and if a cow began to stray a little Laddie would go over and bring them back with out being told. At milking time Laddie would go bring the cows to the barn on time with out being directed. A very sad day for all of us came as a result of Laddies age. He became nearly blind and deaf and one day ran in front of a car and was killed. This was an early lesson for us about life and death. We sure missed a wonderful friend. Laddie was replaced with Lassie who in short order was doing all the amazing things that Laddie did.

We have not gone back to Eagle Rock much since Grandma and Grandpa left there. We did go back several years ago and it was a disappointment because Grandma and Grandpa's house was vacant and falling down. The entire area has really fallen apart and nearly deserted. The old spring by the road is still there and running but is now marked condemned. The wonderful hills that we roamed in have been logged and are covered with the new oil wells and its just not the same and I guess it never is. But we do have the wonderful gift of memory and Wow, our lives are filled to overflowing with them. We are thankful for the opportunity to have lived in such an enchanted place as that.

We moved from Eagle Rock to a little community called Plumer, just a few miles away and that's where my real vivid memories begin. With now 2 brothers and 2 sisters there was nothing we couldn't think of and usually if we thought it we did it. Next blog we will begin to explore Plumer, Pennsylvania, the first community to be truly blessed by "those Orr boys."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

One of the best parts of living in Eagle Rock was being so close to grandma and grandpa's house. They were very special people in our lives. Grandma stood all of 5 feet nothing on her tip toes but what a giant in our lives. She and our mother played an immeasurable role in our lives as we grew. They were the ones that set us on the solid rock of faith and belief in God and Jesus. As we go through this life there will be more about this and other important events thanks to grandma and grandpa. Grandma's kitchen brings back so many good memories of the delicious fried chicken, home made apple pies, ginger snaps and loads of other wonderful goodies. You will get to know much more about these two wonderful people before I'm finished.

Of course we can't leave Eagle Rock with out special mention of Grandpa's collie dogs. They were extraordinary in their ability. Grandpa had a special talent for teaching them and we always marveled at what they could do. More on this later.
We are still in Eagle Rock and remembering some of the fun things that all became a part of my life. One of the funniest was the watermelon tree. My oldest sister and brother went to a one room school in Eagle Rock for their first 2 years of school. There were 6 grades in one room with one teacher. 1st grade sat in the row on the teachers right then 2nd grade in the next row and so on. Well, on their way home from school one day they found a large watermelon in the creek by the road. They didn’t know that our Dad had put it there to get nice and cold for after supper. They were so excited about finding a "watermelon tree" that they got it up out of the creek, being to heavy for them to carry they rolled it down the gravel road to home. What a sorry sight, there were stones stuck in it all over, cuts and bruises and it just looked a mess. I don’t remember our Dad's reaction but I have to believe all he could do was look and laugh. As I recall the inside was still red, ripe, juicy and delicious. It was a rare treat for us back then.

I remember the little church in Eagle Rock where we began our foundation in the Christian life, a foundation that has served us well even to this day. It was a small one room building and was used as a "Union Sunday School." The Pastor Rev Blacksley was a circuit rider which meant he only came through every 6 weeks. He would preach, do any baptisms and communion as appropriate. Following church he and his wife would go to grandma's house for the traditional chicken dinner. The pastor drove a nice touring car with side curtains on the window. One Sunday following dinner as the pastor prepared to leave he opened the car and a chicken jumped out. Of course grandpa gave him a lot of good natured ribbing about taking a chicken home with him. The next time through Eagle Rock Ms. Blacksley let grandpa know the joke was on him as the chicken had laid an egg, so they did get a free egg out of the deal.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hello again. This is just a short note after a long and busy week end away. Wanted to post this picture of our home in Eagle Rock. Picture are my Mom and Dad, my oldest sister 2 older brothers and my mother is holding me. Please take not of how well behaved I am.

Friday, April 11, 2008

In the Beginning

This blog is dedicated to our four children and their spouses, our six grandchildren and our four grand puppies. I feel a little like Charlie Brown's dog Snoopy sitting on his dog house, typewriter in front of him and beginning his book. "It was a dark and stormy night..." and can't think of where to go from there. I would guess the best place to start is in the beginning. If this is to be "The World According to Papa" I better invite you into my world. But first the important preliminaries. As I stated in my first post I have turned 68 as of April 10Th. I have had the good fortune of being married to my best friend Donna for going on 45 years and have four marvelous children, two beautiful young women and two handsome young men. Our children have each selected the most awesome life mates who we love as our own children. We have been blessed with six beautiful grandchildren, two grandson's and four granddaughters. (If you think your grandchildren are special, well just ask me about ours.) Not to be forgotten we also have two American Eskimo grand dogs Sammy and Pi pi, a beagle Sassy and a Chihuahua Pedro. All combined this makes us the wealthiest folks in the world.

I am a retired United Methodist Pastor which was my second career following 33 years in industry. There is much more but we will get into that later as my world unfolds before us.

To begin at the beginning it may surprise you that I was born at a very early age, I wasn't always old you know, sometimes it just seems like it. I am the middle of nine children and the first four of us were born in a little known place called Eagle Rock, Pennsylvania. Our home which was a very small cottage had no running water, no electricity, no telephone and no indoor facilities. Can you imagine, no computer and no television? They weren't even invented yet. Our house was about a stones throw from the banks of the Allegheny River. We didn't live there very long so my memories are very few and probably most I received as shared memories told by my older sister and brothers and Mom and Dad. I do remember that we were taught at a very early age to beware of rattlesnakes those hills were alive with not the sound of music but of the rattle of diamondback rattlesnakes. There was a time on one of those cool March days that Momma stepped out the door and on the way back she saw a large rattlesnake stretched out under the door sill. She had stepped over it on the way out but thankfully it was to cold to do anything. As there was only one door in the house she went to the window and had my brother get her rifle and she shot it. We all learned a lesson in vigilance that day.

My most vivid memory was our walks through the woods up to our grandparents house. I guess even at that age I was destined to step into every puddle of water that came in front of me. We followed this path through the woods and had to cross a small foot bridge over the creek. Well, I had to go through the water, it was just calling me, and there was a large slate moss covered rock. That rock was just perfect for skating on so I did, of course I fell down and got soaked which was OK by me but the bloody nose that came with it sent me crying for home, one of the many bumps to follow in my life. Eagle Rock had a life time of wonderful memories for us as that was where grandma and grandpa lived. I'll share some of those memories with you all later because they are such an important part of my world and who I have become.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The World According To Papa

At the request of my 13 year old grandson I have taken the challange to begin a blog titled, "The World According to Papa." This is a little intimitating I must admit as my computer skills are somewhat limited or I should say, "I am computer challanged." I will do my very best to keep it short and some what interesting.

I am about to enjoy my 68th Birthday on april 10th and have all the pleasure of feeling all my parts that are still with me each morning when I get out of bed. I know all the aches and just where they belong so I can tell all is well. I have a close association with Ben Gay and sports cream is my favorite athletic activity these days. But I thank God every day of my life for the new and wonderous blessings He gives me.

So tonight I'm just trying this to see if it will really work and if so we will learn from this and begin to grow.