My Grandfather…oh, the stories he could tell!

My Grandfather, my Mom’s Dad, William McKenzie Sim, was born in Aberdeen, Scotland on March 12th, 1892. He married my Grandmother (Jean McRobbie Robertson) on November 14th, 1914, when he was 22 years old. My Mom (Lilias) showed up 2 years later, her brother (Bill) 2 years after that, and their youngest child, (Jack) 2 years after that. As a young father, my Granddad worked in the ship building industry (more about that later) in and around Aberdeen, but when that work dried up, like so many others, he looked to America for better opportunities. He arrived in the United States via Canada in April of 1923, and settled in Chicago, Illinois, and sent for his family. They arrived in August of 1923, and started the life of American emigrants, even though they were better off than most, as they spoke English well, with a definite Scottish accent.

Sim Family

My Mom between my Grandparents on the top step and my Uncle Jack and Uncle Bill below

When I was born in 1950, my Grandpa was 58 years old, and because my Dad’s father had died in 1936, he was the only Grandfather I knew. As they still lived in Chicago, and I grew up in New York, we didn’t get to see them but a time or two a year, but whenever we were together, we were hard to separate. My Grandpa was an inveterate storyteller, and I was a more than a willing listener. If we were at their house on the South Side of Chicago, he and I would spend hours at their kitchen table, him drinking coffee, smoking Camels, and filling my head with story after story. I don’t know if they were true, based on truth with some embellishment, or if they were total fabrication, and I didn’t care then, and don’t now. All I know is that this is what my Grandpa and I did, and I was a more than willing audience. In fact, if he didn’t start telling me a story, I’d ask for one. I even remember making requests for him to tell me certain stories over and over. He died in 1975, when I was 25, and right up to the day he died, if we were together, he was telling me a story abut something! He was a kind, warm, wonderful man, and he died peacefully in his sleep one night. I think that was a fitting way for him to go, and even though he was 83 at the time, it was too early in my opinion. I’m sure he had more stories for me!

So, let’s get to some of his stories…at least some of the ones I remember. It was Susie’s idea for me to write this blog, and re-tell some of my Grandpa’s stories. I guess over the almost 40 years we’ve been together, I’ve told more than a few of my Grandpa’s stories to her, and when we were looking at some old family pictures the other day, she said I should write a blog about him and his stories, so here are some of the ones I remember.

My Grandfather always had what we called, “hot hands”, meaning he could grab a pot off the stove or even something out of the oven without a pot holder. As I mentioned early on, when he was young in Scotland, he’d worked in the ship building industry. His story explaining how he could handle hot things without any apparent effect on him, went back to his early days in ship yards, when he worked as a riveter’s apprentice. The way he told me the story, the rivets would be heated on the dock in a big fire, and the way they got to the riveter working on the ship was to be thrown from one apprentice to another, till they got to the needed location. He claimed that although it was hot and dangerous work, it didn’t take long to become immune to the heat, and that’s why he was able to grab anything hot…he was immune!

Dad Sim in Mason OutfitAs with many immigrant groups, there was a desire to stick together with new and old friends from the “old country”. My Grandfather was very active in the Masons, and my Grandmother was very active in the Daughters of Scotia, the ladies version. As such, many of their friends were Scottish, and even when I was a kid, they had Scottish friends all across the country, that we’d often visit when I was with them. This story has to do with a Scottish friend of theirs who happened to be an engineer at the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan.

The way my Grandpa told the story, one day this engineer friend of his was in the passenger seat of a new Ford automobile, as a test driver drove around the Ford test track. In the back seat was Henry Ford, and his good friend Harvey Firestone, of the Firestone Tire Company. At one point they hit a huge bump, causing all the occupants to get bounced around. According to the story, Henry Ford said, “My God…what was that?”, to which my Grandpa’s friend retorted (without skipping a beat or thinking), “What do you expect…..Its only a Ford.”. The way my Grandpa told the story, his friend would have been collecting his last Ford paycheck that day, but for the fact that Harvey Firestone got hysterical, laughing so hard that eventually Henry Ford started laughing too. His friend did, however, keep a low provide around Mr. Ford for the near future, but eventually retired from the Ford Motor Company, so I guess the old man forgot about it.

                          A very young me in my Grandpa’s Milk Truck

It wasn’t too long after they got to this country, that my Grandfather started as a milkman. I don’t know if this was the norm at that time, or an exception to the rule, but my Grandfather didn’t work for a dairy. He was an independent contractor, owning his route and clients, and when I was a kid, his milk truck! Their house on the South Side of Chicago had a big three car garage on the alley behind the house, and in one of the stalls, was his late 40s Divco Milk Truck. In those days, a milkman got up in the middle of the night, loaded his milk at the dairy, made deliveries way before folks were up for breakfast, and was home, finished for the day before lunchtime. As a young kid, when I visited Chicago, having my Grandfather home early in the day, and a real milk truck in the garage, was huge! Of course, he had not always delivered milk with a truck. When he started, he had a horse and a wagon, and there were some great stories from those days too.


My Grandparents with my Grandpa in his standard milkman outfit

He had one horse that he claimed knew the route better than he did. Jock was his name, and my Grandfather said he was the smartest horse he’d ever seen, and made his route so easy! As he told the story, he’d load his milk bottle carrier with orders for the next couple of houses, walk down the street or alley making his deliveries, and when he needed more milk, there was Jock waiting at the next house for my Grandpa. He even claimed that the horse knew who was and who wasn’t a customer, as he’d walk right past the non-customer’s houses, right up to their next customer. That was in stark comparison to another one of the horses I heard about. This guy had been a Chicago Fire Department horse in the days before the CFD was using motorized rigs. The stories I was told about this horse had to do with how he still thought he was a fire horse, and if a fire engine happened to pass my Grandpa’s route with the siren blaring, this horse would take off, milk wagon and all, and follow the fire engine! On several occasions, before my Grandpa got rid of him, my Grandmother would get woken up by calls at home about where somebody had found my Grandfather’s loaded milk wagon and his horse. Often times, it was the firemen who’d try and bring the horse and wagon back to where they’d seen him, so that my Grandpa could continue his route. I wouldn’t be surprised if that horse was his inspiration to go from horse to motorized truck!

Another story had to do with the “drunk” my Grandpa stumbled over, early one morning on his route. It was dark, and he was walking up the back alleyway of a house when he tripped over something, fell, and broke two milk bottles. He got back to his feet, saw a prostrate sleeping drunk lying on the path, kicked him as hard as he could in the ass, and muttered, “Goddamn drunk.” He went back to the wagon, got a couple of more bottles of milk, made his delivery, and thought nothing more of it. Later that morning, when he got back to the dairy to return bottles, the manager called him to his office. “Scotty, these two gentlemen are from the Chicago Police Department, and they’d like to ask you a couple of questions”. They gave him an address and said that they’d found broken milk bottles there, and they wondered what had happened. He told them that he’d tripped over a dunk sleeping in the alleyway, and when he got up he’d kicked the guy in the ass, gotten replacement bottles, and gone on his way. “Is the guy complaining about something?”, he asked. The police then informed him that the guy wasn’t drunk, but was dead, having been shot a couple of blocks away, and stubbled to where my Grandpa found him. Well, it was Chicago in the 20s!

Another story he told me about was having a very nice customer who’s name was Capone. He never thought anything about it, till one day he went around collecting, and when Mrs. Capone opened the door, and invited my Grandfather into the kitchen, he found Al Capone sitting there. According to my Grandpa, Al peeled a couple of bills off a wad in his pocket, gave them to my Grandpa, and told him to “take good care of my Mom”. True or not, it was a great story to have your Grandfather tell you when you’re 10!


The Sim Family at my Mom and Dad’s Wedding in 1947.  My Uncle Jack, my Grandfather, my Dad, and my Uncle Bill.  My Cousin Billy, my Grandma, my Mom, and my Aunt Ann

Early one winter morning, when my Grandpa went down to take the truck out of the garage, he discovered that the cold had frozen the newly fallen snow in the alley to solid ice. This ice was right up against the two big swing doors that opened from the garage into the alley. Try as he might, he could do nothing to free the doors from the ice, and the clock was ticking and he really needed to be on the road to the dairy to load up. Absent any other solution he could see, he got in the truck, dropped it into gear, and proceeded to drive right through the garage doors to freedom. I can imagine that at 2 AM or so, on a quiet winter’s night, that noise did not go unnoticed in the neighborhood, but he had deliveries to make. On the way home, he stopped off at the lumber yard, and picked up the supplies he needed to re-build the doors.

This next story really has to do with me more than my Grandpa, but since his being a milkman was central to it, I think it fits here. In 1956, I was in Mrs. Arnold’s second grade class, at Garden School in Jackson Heights, NY. We must have been talking about various occupations, when I raised my hand and told the class that my Grandfather was a milkman with his own milk truck. The discussion must have continued for some time, and I guess I neglected to mention that my Grandfather, his truck, and the dairy they delivered from were all in Chicago. I know that, because later that day, Mrs. Arnold called our house and spoke to my Mom. After the preliminaries, Mrs. Arnold told my Mom what we’d been talking about in class, and wondered if we might be able to arrange a class field trip to visit my Grandfather’s dairy. My embarrassed Mom then had to explain to Mrs. Arnold, that her father lived and worked in Chicago, and that a field trip wouldn’t be possible! Hey, I was 6!

Unlike some people, my Grandpa was someone who really lucked out in the Social Security lottery. As a self-employed person, he had only recently become eligible to join Social Security, and after a very short time in the system, he retired before he was 65. He collected for the next 20 years plus, and my Grandma, who lived to be 93 collected after that, so a very good investment!

This last story has to do with his retirement, and getting out of the milk business. As he was a self-employed milkman, there was no pension to fall back on, just the value of his route and customers. When he was ready to sleep through the night, like a normal human being, he put his route and his truck up for sale. A young man bought the route and the truck, and my Grandpa bid farewell to the milk business. Unlike my Grandpa, this young man was not fortunate enough to have a garage that the truck would fit in, so he arranged with the dairy to park the truck in the same lot they used for their own milk trucks. About 4 months after he started the route, there was a big fire one night at the dairy, that damaged or destroyed many of the trucks in the yard. Unfortunately, my Grandfather’s former truck was one of them. Imagine his surprise when a couple of days later, the wife of the young man who bought the route and the truck called and said to my Grandfather, “Mr. Sim, can you tell me who carries the insurance on your truck, as it was destroyed and we have to make a claim.” I guess these folks really didn’t have a head for business, and I’m sure weren’t happy when my Grandpa told her that as soon as the transfer was complete, he’d canceled his insurance.


On a trip with us to Washington DC

In the early 70s, my Mom had my Grandparents move to New York to be closer to us. They were getting older, and their neighborhood was going downhill, so it was time for them to make a move. My Grandparents put the great old house on the South Side up for sale, and when it was finalized, I flew out to Chicago, and drove my Grandparents and their possessions to New York in their 1964 Ford Galaxie 500. It was 800 miles on the road, I drove and my Grandpa sat in the shotgun seat, and we talked for the 2 days we were on the road (much, I’m sure, to the consternation of my Grandmother, who was in the back seat). Once they were in NY, they had an apartment just around the corner from my folk’s house in Bayside, and we were all together a lot. The story telling continued whenever I was with him.

He was a great Grandpa to have and now, more than 40 years after he died, I still think back fondly on our sessions together, and the great stories he always had for me, and that I continue to tell! I only knew one grandfather growing up, but he was a peach, and I always considered myself very lucky to have that kind of Grandpa!

1964/65 New York World’s Fair

I opened up the May Issue of Hemmings Classic Car the other day, and it had a story about all the auto exhibits at the 1964/65, New York World’s Fair! Immediately I was taken back to the exciting summer days in 1964 and 1965, when for three young Queens boys, the fair was our playground! I remembered writing a blog piece about the fair, and started going through my archives looking for it. Reading that piece brought back many great memories of those two summers. If you’re interested in my memories, here’s a slightly updated version of the piece that I wrote in 2010.

IMG_2471When the New York World’s Fair opened in April of 1964, I was a 14 year old boy who lived in Queens just 5 subway stops away on the #7 train. The brand new Fair Subway Special subway cars were our gateway to a place that we would know like the back of our hands by the closing day in October of 1965. The “we” I refer to were my best friends Richard, David and myself, and over the next two fair seasons we spent over 100 days at the fair’s Flushing Meadow Park site. Richard and I took the #7 train to the fair, but got on at different stops. In the days before cell phones, we’d try to hook up on the subway, but if we missed each other, we’d meet up at the fair stop. (Take a look at the commercial from NYC Transit, advertising the Subway Special to the World’s Fair…you even get a peek at the brand new Shea Stadium as the #7 train pulls into Willets Point, the World’s Fair stop! The third member of our group, David, lived on the other side of the park and would come in the Rodman Street entrance, and then the three us would meet up at the Unisphere.

The first act of this story happened years before any of us were born. I’m speaking of the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair at Flushing Meadow Park in Queens. The purpose of that fair was to help lift the city and the country out of the great depression, and it was the first fair to look to the future with it’s slogan, “Dawn of a New Day”. It took place on 1,216 acres of a former ash dump, that after the fair would be turned into a city park (This was the same ash dump that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s characters passed through on the train ride from West Egg to Manhattan). As a kid growing up in Queens, I knew the park (in fact I’d even skated at the ice rink in one of the surviving buildings from the ’39 fair, the New York City Pavilion), and had heard stories of the fair from my father.

Turn the clock ahead to the late 50s and a group of businessmen, who had fond memories of the 1939 Fair, and wanted the same kinds of experiences for their children and grandchildren. The result was the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair. If you read the history of this fair today, you will discover that there were all kinds of problems associated with it right from the beginning. Money was, of course, a huge problem, as was sanctioning from the Bureau of International Expositions. But to a group of teens who lived literally down the street from the fair, all that we cared about was that for two summers we’d be blocks away from a huge playground of the future! Even better was the fact that Walt Disney had signed on to design exhibits in a number of pavilions, so this would indeed be our East Coast Disneyland.

IMG_2480The fair, with the slogan Peace through Understanding, had lots of incredible cultural happenings during it’s two years, such as the ability to view Michelangelo’s Pieta at the Vatican Pavilion, but the favorites of the three of us were the pavilions of the Industrial area. We knew the song from the Pepsi Pavilion (“It’s a Small World After all”…come on, sing along), enjoyed GE’s Carousel of Progress (which we just visited again last month in Florida’s Disney World as Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress), and had even seen Mr. Lincoln talking to us at the Illinois Pavilion (well, when Mr. Lincoln worked!). Thanks to Mr. Disney and others, the 1964/65 World’s Fair was a real showcase of new ideas, new products and new ways of doing things! The perfect playground for three teenage boys! Our days started early and didn’t end till we’d watch the fountain-and-fireworks show every night at 9 p.m. at the Pool of Industry, just outside the Kimberly-Clark Pavilion.


IMG_2465At the Bell System Pavilion, we got to see and use touch tone phones for the first time. At the IBM Pavilion, we loved the way the theater slid up into the huge egg, and we learned about the future of computing. We signed up for pen pals at the Parker Pen Pavilion, and looked at the contents of a new time capsule at the Westinghouse Pavilion – a match to the one Westinghouse had sunk in the ground at the same spot at the 1939 Fair. We enjoyed the chemical magic show at the Dupont Pavilion, got to use a microwave oven for the first time, and even got to taste Belgian Waffles and have chicken chow mein in bowls made of fried noodles! But, as full-fledged car nuts already, many of our days were spent across the Grand Central Parkway from the main fair in the Transportation area.


IMG_2481I remember the Chrysler Pavilion, and getting our first up close look at the Chrysler Turbine Car in its incredible copper color with decidedly Thunderbird design influences. I remember seeing the automotive near future at the General Motors Futurama Pavilion – although I am still waiting for the roadways they claimed we’d have by the year 2000 that would have imbedded control strips in the pavement that would allow drivers to sit back and relax with their passengers while the road controlled the cars! As a died in the wool Ford Fan, I especially remember the Ford Rotunda!


1964 World's Fair Ford Exhibit 1965 Mustang

I remember walking up and seeing the Mustangs (which were introduced to the world at that fair) on the carousels outside the pavilion as we waited to get on the ride. As “World’s Fair Experts”, we were partial to pavilions that had continually moving rides as the line went faster than did those with theater style exhibits. This was how the folks at Disney had constructed the Magic Skyway, so Ford was one of our favorites, and it was one we went to almost every time we were at the fair! The ride started you out in the past – as far back as the dinosaurs (which look to me to now have a home in Ellen’s Universe of Energy pavilion in Disney World’s Epcot) – giving you a look at the history of transportation, starting with the invention of the wheel, and then moving you through the present into the future. Of course, the best part of the ride was that, unlike the GM pavilion where you sat in a moving chair, at Ford, you took your ride through time in a Ford Motor Company convertible!


There were lots of family groups going to the fair, so they were often put in one of the big Ford convertibles such as the full size Ford, Mercury or Lincoln cars. As three teenage boys, more often then not, we got one of the smaller cars, like a Falcon or Comet convertible, or one of the Mustangs. I have to honestly say that from what I remember, the ride was good in a typical Disney way, but it was the ride in a new Ford convertible that kept us coming back! Once you were finished with the ride, there were still lots of Ford cars to see, and even sit in, and of course, the Ford Rotunda state pin to take home as a souvenir!


IMG_2470One of our saddest days was our visit to the fair the day it closed for good, October 17, 1965. It, of course, included a visit to our favorite pavilion, the Ford Rotunda. For three young teenage boys from Queens, the two years since the April 1964 opening had been magical. We always had a destination, and a way to have fun and explore, and at a $2 entrance fee, for not a lot of money. I remember that last day that folks all over the park were taking souvenirs, and that many of the knobs were missing from the Ford cars on the Magic Skyway. Over 50 years later, the memories I have of those two summers spent with my two best friends are some of the best souvenirs I could have. It may also be why my candy apple red Mustang convertible is my pride and joy, and my own Magic Skyway vehicle!

If you’re interested, there are pages and pages of videos from the New York World’s Fair on YouTube!  As I write this, we are less than 2 weeks away from the 53rd anniversary of the fair’s opening date, April 22nd, 1964…..A lifetime ago!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

In case you are wondering, yes, we did make it home safely from North Carolina and our great Family Weekend! We left the Hampton Inn, Wake Forest about 10 AM on Monday, and backed into our driveway in Ocean City, NJ at about 5:30 that afternoon. Clear sailing with good weather, and only a few slight slow downs as we went around Washington, DC. In fact, after a brief 2 night stay in Ocean City, today we headed back to Long Island, where we will stay for about a week and continue dealing with sorting stuff to take or leave, and getting closer to making the move to NJ official!

Since leaving Long Island last Thursday morning, we have driven over 1,000 miles, and spending that much time in the car has given us time to think and talk about our travels. One thing that we were talking about is the stupid stuff that mars an otherwise pleasant trip. For me, that usually entails being stuck in traffic. This then, is a look at some of the reasons we have been stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, crawling along at 5 miles an hour, or even stopped dead!


I guess one of the ones that really ticks me off, is when there are road issues because of an accident. If you are like Susie, you are probably sick and tired of me complaining about the way people drive today, so if you fall into that category, you might want to skip the rest of this paragraph! Here goes….what the hell is the matter with people today??? Have they no clue that they are hurtling through traffic in a 2 ton implement of death, and that this is real life, not Grand Theft Auto??? Oh my God, the stupid, careless, selfish stuff we have seen people do in a car! From driving at 90 miles an hour when everyone else is at 60, to cutting in and out of lanes when there is no room, to driving off the road, into an entrance lane to pass someone on the right, we have seen this and so much more! And what’s with everyones refusal to use their directional signals??? I mean, if you are going to drive like an asshole, at least give the rest of us a clue as to where you might be going!!


The results of another accident!

This past Saturday, while heading down I-95 just before Washington, the interstate almost stopped dead. We were a couple of miles from the I-495 bypass around Washington, that we were planning on taking, when we came up to a flashing digital sign that said, “ACCIDENT. Two Left Lanes Closed on I-495 Before Exit 28”. Well this accident not only impacted on I-495, but every other road surrounding Washington, as people in the know looked for alternate routes. Thousands of people were delayed and inconvenienced because one or two yahoos had the misfortune of not finding someone who would avoid hitting them. Their luck ran out, and so did the rest of ours! Back in October, when we were leaving Atlanta on I-85, we stopped dead, and sat without moving for 25 minutes, again because of an accident. That was the second time in 2 days we’d had something like that happen! No telling how much time we lose as a nation, just because folks drive like shit!

Oh, and then there’s construction. You know things like “roving pothole” repairs, which can turn a road like the Belt Parkway into a parking lot. Or one that we seem to have a lot of experience with lately, “guard rail replacement”. Yeah, I know, one of the crappy drivers probably had an accident, which took out the original guard rail, necessitating delay of thousands so it could be repaired! Then there’s the “phantom” repairs…..miles and miles of closed lanes, with nobody working! That was the case Monday in North Carolina, when we drove about 40 miles on I-85 with one lane closed for the entire stretch, and we only saw about a 1/2 mile of active construction! Of course, the selfish even get into the act when there’s construction. You see a sign that says “right lane closed 2 miles”, so you get out of the right lane, but does everybody else? Nope, some manage to stick in that lane till the barriers are at their front bumper, causing a slow down as they must now push their way in front of you. Sure, you may have done the right thing, and gotten out of the closed lane in a timely fashion, but let’s face it, they’re more important than you!!

Then there’s the road that is in such bad shape, that there is no way traffic can maintain the posted speed limit, without inflicting damage on your vehicle. There was an area like this on the eastbound Long Island Expressway, just at the fairgrounds, for many years. About a mile of the LIE was a pot-holed, moon-cratered roadway, that predictably stopped traffic, night and day. Our tax dollars at work! Oh, and how about the way we no longer seem to bother doing repairs on roadways at night, when there’d be a lot less traffic? Hey, it works for them!

But today, we saw one that I don’t think we’ve ever seen before. Coming home from Ocean City, we came across the Verrazano Bridge, and exited onto the eastbound Belt Parkway. With all the major construction that’s been ongoing on the Belt for years, we expect that this will often be a major source of delays when we are going to or from Ocean City, but today was special. We seemed good at first, and the Belt was fine as we exited the bridge, but then the road slammed to a stop, and we crawled for probably 5 miles. Crawling along for close to 25 minutes, Susie found on a phone app, that it looked like it got a little better just after Knapp Street. We got to Knapp Street, but we were still crawling. We were wondering if the backup had to do with ongoing construction, when as we drove up one of the new bridges, we saw an NYPD car in the right lane, with it’s elevated warning lights blinking. We wondered if it was an accident, but as we got closer, we realized there were no cars in front of the police car, and the lane was open. WTF??? As we passed, Susie looked to the right and saw directly in front of the police car a huge swan with a bandage wrapped around it’s body! Well, that was a new one for us! Traffic delayed due to injured bird!

As they used to say on TV, “There are 8 Million Stories in the Naked City, this is just one of them!”

Sunday, April 2, 2017

There is a reason that young people are the ones who have kids…just saying!

Today was our Granddaughter Layla’s 3rd Birthday, and during the course of a great day, Susie and I, along with our Daughter-in-Law’s Mom Kathy, spent the day with multiple kids, ages 10 to 1, and even the young parents looked pooped when the day was over!

IMG_7050The day started at 11 AM, when we gathered at City Barbecue, a new Carolina barbecue place that has just opened. If the food we had today, and the crowds that were there were any indication, this place is going to be a big success! Susie and I had delicious Pulled Pork sandwiches, and so much of the other food people had looked great! Lots of typical sides, but the hush puppies and the various barbecue sauces they had were to die for! This is apparently a small chain, and if today was any indication, it should be a much bigger chain!!

I pointed out to Billy, that even though they’ve just moved to North Carolina, he was exposed to North Carolina Barbecue in his formative years. Back probably in the summer of 1984, when Billy was not quite 3, we loaded up the car, and drove down to Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, and visited Susie’s Great Aunt Evie and her Great Uncle Carl. Evie was Susie’s Grandmother’s sister, so she was Billy’s Great Great Aunt, and she ran the most delicious barbecue place called Midgett’s Barbecue! From her pork sandwiches, to her baked beans, to her cole slaw, to her barbecued pork, it was all wonderful! It was a great couple of days we spent down there as Evie and Carl were great people, and that was young Billy’s first exposure to real Carolina Barbecue, so in reality, it’s in his genes!

IMG_7055After an hour and a half at the barbecue place, Kathy, Billy and Lori, Henry and Layla, as well as Susie and I, Lori’s sister Kristen and her husband Billy, along with their 9 year old son Parker and 7 year old daughter Riley, journeyed to the bowling alley for some bumper bowling! The kids were all excited, as I think the two Dads were too! The 4 kids were set up on one lane, while the two Dads bowled right next door. That is, they bowled between holding little ones, and helping them get the ball down the alley! The bumpers were up, and the track used by the little ones to launch the ball was ready, and bowling shoes in the smallest sizes were in place! It was time for some serious Birthday Bowling! The 4 kids ranged in age from Henry at about a year and a half, to Parker, 9 going on 10. And what happens? Well, Henry William D’Elia, in his first game of bowling ever, comes out on top with a 103, thanks to a lot of help from Dad and Uncle Billy! The kid’s a natural!

Then we were scheduled for a little break, while Billy and Lori took the kids home to see if they could get them to nap for a bit! We were scheduled to reconvene at their house a little after 4 for more birthday and pizza! Gramma and Grampa were happy to go back to the Hampton Inn, and put our feet up for a few minutes, and when we got back to Billy and Lori’s at about 4:15, it turned out the kids had no interest in napping, as it was Layla’s Birthday!!! This time we were joined by Lori’s other sister Kerri and her husband Bill, along with their daughter Molly (6) and son Max (3), along with the D’Elia Family Dog, Beatrice (almost 3).

Now, let’s see if you were paying attention. Lori is one of 3 girls in the Bruno Family. Her sisters’ names are Kristen and Kerri. What are the names of the 3 sisters husbands? Ding…Ding…Ding! Times up. If you said Bill, Billy, and Bill, you’d be correct! Yes, as improbable as it may seem, all three girls married men who’s first name is William, so now there are two Bills and one Billy! We still call ours Bump, as we’ve done since he was born!

IMG_7061After some more birthday fun, including presents, the kids played while the Grandparents held down the fort (well, it really was the couch), played with the kids from time to time, and were Beatrice’s companions! Pizza was delivered and eaten, and the sun started to go down, so it was time for Kerri and Bill to head home, and for Layla and Henry to head to bed!

It was a great family day, filled with fun and much love, but the Grandparents were tired too (can’t even begin to imagine how tired the parents were), and time for us to say our good-byes, get our Grandkid hugs, and head back to the Hampton Inn! We will get up in the morning, partake of the “free” breakfast, and get back on the road and head home to Ocean City! It’s been a great weekend, seeing our kids new home, celebrating a birthday with our first Grandchild, and being amazed at how fast our littlest one has become more and more a little person! A great weekend, and we’re sorry to go, but we will be back in two weeks for Easter, and more Family Fun in North Carolina!

Thanks kids for a great weekend, and glad you had those two when you were young enough!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Happy April Fool’s Day to you all, and welcome to my first blog post in about 3 weeks! I trust you haven’t had any “pranks” played on you today, and you are all still diligently watching April the Giraffe, as she moves closer and closer to Motherhood for the fourth time! I know that Susie has been watching on and off for the past month or so, and with much more regularity the last 48 hours. Things look like they’re moving along slowly, and it doesn’t look like April and Oliver (her “husband”) will be having an April Fool’s Baby!

So, tonight’s blog post finds us on the road again! As I write this, Susie and I are sitting in room 352 at the Hampton Inn, in Wake Forest, North Carolina! You may remember one of my blog posts back in February, when I talked about big changes ahead in the D’Elia Family. Well, Susie and I find ourselves in Wake Forest tonight because of one of those changes. About a month ago, oldest son Billy, his wife Lori, and our two Grandkids Layla and Henry, moved from Long Island to Raleigh, North Carolina. Tomorrow is Layla’s 3rd birthday, and Gramma and Grampa are here for the celebration!

Susie and I left Ocean City about 7:30 this morning, and the GPS estimated a little over 7 hours for us to get from there to here. The real time was closer to 8 hours, when you factor in stopping for breakfast, the bathroom, to change drivers, to ffed the car, and some traffic we ran into, but all in all, not a bad drive. Of course, after 12 years of making the three hour drive to and from Ocean City a couple of times a month, 9 weeks and 9700+ miles on the road last fall, and 3 weeks and close to 4,000 miles of traveling just about a month ago, the front seat of our Hyundai Sonata is both familiar and comfortable! Honestly, when we figured out the time it would take us to drive from Ocean City to the Philly Airport, to park the car, go through security, wait at the gate, board the plane, fly to Raleigh, get off the plane, get a rental car, and then drive to our hotel, we probably invested perhaps 2 more hours today by driving, and did it on one $30 tank of gas rather than $500 in airplane tickets! Plus, we didn’t have to take our shoes off!! As we all agreed tonight, flying just isn’t fun anymore!

So after some issues checking into the Hampton Inn (more on that later), we were off to Billy and Lori’s new home. It’s about 15 minutes from the hotel, and is a beautiful 4 bedroom townhouse in a planned community. The space is marvelous, they have already done a wonderful job decorating it, and it really has already turned into a home! Nice work on Lori and Billy’s part! Lori’s Mom came over, and we had a very nice dinner where Layla enjoyed her favorite food, French Fries!! Layla and Henry are adorable, have totally made themselves at home, and are enjoying their new lives. I marvel at the adaptability of my son and his wife, but perhaps it’s not so much adaptability, as the nerve to take a chance and make a major change in your life! I really envy their courage and positive attitude, and look for nothing but great things to come out of this new home! They had the strength to make a major change in their lives, for the good of the entire family, and I applaud them for it!

So tomorrow at 11:15, we will join the rest of the family (virtually all of Lori’s Family lives in the area) to celebrate Layla’s 3rd Birthday, with some real Carolina Bar-B-Que! I for one, am bringing a back up shirt!!

So, before I leave, let me get back to the Hampton Inn. We have stayed at Hamptons across the country, and because we like the Hilton standards they uphold, and are willing to pay a few dollars extra for them. Because we were going to be here two days, I decided to spend a few more dollars and reserve a suite. I walked into the lobby about 3:20, and it was a mad house. Apparently, they had a busy week, many checkouts this morning, and little idea which rooms were cleaned and which were not! Top it off, there was one experienced girl working the desk, and one newbie, who kept double swiping people’s credit cards and charging them twice! So un-Hampton Inn like! I got the experienced girl, but it sounded like they didn’t have enough cleaning staff, and were way behind schedule! The girl who was helping me was very nice, and tried her best, but I stood at the desk for close to a half hour! She was very sorry, reduced our room rate, and eventually asked if I’d mind moving to another room. As we’d been waiting close to 35 minutes by this time, and really wanted to get to the kids, I said fine. Well, we got to the room, discovered it wasn’t a suite, but honestly didn’t care at that point! We hit the bathroom, changed clothes, and headed out.

Tonight, when we returned about 8 PM, Lani was still at the desk, and I thanked her for the rate reduction, but told her that the room I got was NOT the suite I reserved, so did I really get anything for nothing. She was very sorry, said that she thought the two rooms were identical, realized we were less than pleased, and said the since Hilton has a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, and she knew we weren’t satisfied, she was going to call her manager and get our room comped for both nights! She also gave us a choice to pick one of 5 $25 gift cards. we chose the Olive Garden! I told her that mistakes and problems happen, and it’s what happens after the problem that counts, and that if she was able to do that, we’d be more than satisfied! Let’s hope this does work out, because we will definitely be back to Raleigh multiple times per year!

So that’s how our April Fool’s Day went. How was yours????