Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Back In The Not So Friendly Skies

It's Tuesday morning and after a nice long weekend where - gasp -I was HOME for four solid days ( you would not believe what I got accomplished ), I'm back on a plane.

I'm boarding right now at 5:30 a.m. and it's already a delight! I'm headed out to Conneticut, but I'm flying into Laguardia (as in New York). My first pleasurable experience was when I checked in last night and, because I had booked so last minute, all the seats were taken and the only one open was 22E, as in 22Eeeek! A delightful middle seat at the back of the plane. I suppose it's good for me as 1K to experience this every once in a while so I'm able to stay in touch with my roots where I came from. When I got to the gate, the upgrade board listed me as number 10 in a line of 86 people waiting for an upgrade!

Everyone at the gate was in business attire and talking business mumbo jumbo. They board first class and 1k at the same time and everyone had crammed into the queue, piled on top of each other. And then, in case I wondered where I was headed, that lovely east coast disposition began to flow like love through the snaking, unidentifiable line... "excuse me - where do you think you're going?". "I'm 1k so I'm trying to board" "well get in line buddy, we're all 1 k!".(that conversation was not me as I like to just stand back when it gets like that and watch in amusement.)

Oh- and in case you wonder, there's nothing like being snug in a seat between Indian guy and the smell of old Yiddish coffee breath guy at 6am! It screams - NEW YORK - talk about melting pot.

Sigh - I can't wait to breath the clean ocean air in Waterbury, after I fight through wonderful morning traffic in NYC.

It doesn't get any better than this! Ok - think all the happy thoughts about the last four days!:).

Hope everyone at a happy happy thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Speaking Of Mines....

I know that I mentioned I was cleaning up some stuff on my hard drive on other places and I came upon some forgotten pictures and video clips.

Then, I happened to go through that mining town in PA and it linked some stuff back with me that I figured it was about time to share.

Its all MINE RELATION :) Get the double entendre :) Well, at least you will in a few minutes...

So, a few years back, mom, dad, Aunt June and I crossed the pond to jolly old England where we had the great fortune to be re-related with some of our relations.

Some of the really interesting ones that we were able to meet up with were the Askews in Bolton-Upon-Dearne in Yorkshire, England.

Bolton is an old mining community ... old being the operative word as it is no longer a mining community. All of the family worked in the mines there, including our cousin (I supposed he would be like my third cousin) Terence.

This is Terence, his wife Gillian, and myself. This picture is actually from a few years after the first visit when I was able to go back with a friend and we stopped over to see them again. Much of the Askew family still lives in and around Bolton-On-Dearne.

Let's see if I can get the family relations right...

This is Terence....
This was my (our) great-great grandpa and grandma... Sarah and Joseph Askew
Sarah and Joseph had 13 children....

They had John.....

...who was Terence's grandpa...

They also had Joseph -- who was my/our great-grandpa...

Joseph married Fanny - our great-grandma

Joseph and Fanny Askew ... I suppose I could say that I never got to kiss our Fanny :)

Great-Grandpa and Grandma had 6 children -- Grandpa Charles being the only boy.

GG Joseph worked in the mines and they lived in Bolton-Upon-Dearne in this cute little row house -- all 6 of them....

Grandpa and all the sisters went to this school right down the road....

One day there was an accident in the mine and Great Grandpa got severely hurt. They brough him home, barely alive, and laid him on the kitchen table where he passed away.....

Grandpa Charles was about 11 when great grandpa died. After this, gg Fanny took up laundry and such in their house for a while and then they ended up moving over to Rochdale, Lancashire so Grandpa Charles could work in the cotton mills.

I'll put a list of family at the bottom - Terence sent it over our way...

First, a few pictures of the old family stomping grounds....

As I mentioned before, there are no more mines in Bolton-On-Dearne. They were all turned into the lovely landscape you see below.

They do have paths around the area and you can go up and still see some of the caps that are over the old air shafts from the mines.

This is the cemetary that all the family is buried in....

Our first visit over when Terence brough us around and showed us the town.

Abraham was another brother of Great Grandpa Joseph. He was gassed in the trenches in WWI -- was never married.

I have to check who this Askew is -- he was one of the nephews of Great Grandpa as the dates would indicate.
One of Great Grandpa Askew's sisters - Elizabeth Clarkson

Another one of his sisters - Sarah Ann

Our Great Grandpa's headstone....

Incidentally - if you'll look at the before and after - when mom and all of us were there back in 2007, they were dingy looking. When Kim and I were back in 2008, some of the family had had some of the headstones cleaned off including Joseph's and Great Great Grandma's (look at the headstone at the top of the blog and then the one below for Sarah).

One more aside - another member of the family who lives in Bristol that we had visited was Doreen. Doreen is the daughter of Grandpa Charles' sister, Hetty. Its creepy how much mom and she not only look alike, but even their actions were very very similar.... Genetic????
Here's a little family table that Terence was kind enough to share.... As you can see - we have family in Australia too :)!

Children of Joseph and Sarah Askew.

William Never Married

John Married Catherine Hayes. My Grandparents

Joseph Married Fanny Heeson Your Great Grandparents. Children: Charles, Lucy, Hetty, Bertha, Doris, Ann

Abraham Never Married

George Married Elsie Pocklington. Emigrated to U.S.A Children: Lawrence, Betty.

Sarah Ann Married James Whitworth

Elizabeth Married Jack Clarkson

Polly Married Martin Swidells

Lucy Married Albert Cooper Emigrated to U.S.A.

Emma Married Herbert Swift Emigrated To Australia 1920s

Agnes Married William Burton Their son Billy went to Australia with his Aunt Emma.

Florence Married Jack Stephenson

Susan Married William Grainger

And last, but not least - here's a little clip (albeit sideways :)) of Terence talking about working in the mines -- it reminded me so much of grandpa when he talked, it was kind of eerie....

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Its Another Family Wedding!

Another family wedding! It was actually really lovely and we all had a great time. Andy and Liz looked great - the reception was fun and just classy.

Overall - two thumbs up....
And you can't beat our "hot" cousin, Debbie -- she cleans up good!

Do You Like Football?

"Do you like football?"

That was the question that was put to us in a low, muted voice as our waitress stooped to deliver our coffees.

Kim had picked me up at the airport and, in turn, I took her to dinner at Wildfire on Willow Road. We sat and had a wonderful meal and then went for dessert as a group of men filed in and seated themselves at the table directly behind us.

As the waitress came to bring our coffees, she casually asked us this question and then cocked her head towards the group seated behind us and lowly informed us that there was a group of Bears players at the table directly behind us.

Of course, Kim and I looked at her blankly but then, once we knew they were Bears, I immediately became the gawker as I figured that SOMEONE in my life would be impressed if I could discretely snap a shot of them.... unfortunately, this is all I got (sorry Kim....).

If you actually recognize anyone - let us know - I wouldn't know any of those players from proverbial Adam....

Thursday, November 11, 2010


ItalicThis is a little YouTube thing that they showed in Budapest before the University meeting. I fell in love with it -- pretty cool... Enjoy!

And here's another version from my cuz...:). The funny one...

The Town That Used To Be - A Town

So here's a little Thursday story that will work your mind...

Pennsylvania is a big mining state. It was also one of the leading producers of anthracite. One the biggest mines for anthracite was in a town called Centralia, which was founded in the 1800s. There were a lot of open pit and closed mines (in and out of the ground). If you drive around the area, the towns are almost nonexistent and so Centralia was actually a "bustling" city with a main downtown filled with banks, a post office, grocery store, gas station and other stores.

In 1962, there was a garbage dump right on the outskirts of town that was getting a little excessive and so the town sent some workers out to get rid of some of the trash. After gathering piles of it together they promptly lit it on fire. However, not thinking, the dump was located in an old open pit mine which had some open veins running into an underground anthracite mine. You guessed it - poof - the well-doers indirectly sparked a fire which lept into the closed mine. The thing about anthracite is that its a great fuel - which is extremely hard to light. But - once its lit - its near impossible to put out. Unbeknownst to these garabage men walked away from a spark that lit one of the underground mines on fire.

The fire department poured tons of water and thought that the fire was out, but - poof - it just lit up again. Pits were dug, other methods were used to try to extinguish the fire, but the ground continued to smoke.

In 1979, a gas station owner in the town went to check his tanks and found them to be hot. After checking his underground tanks and finding they were showing a temperatire of 172F, the government came in and put sensors in the ground, discovering that the temperature under the tanks was registering almost over 1000F!

There were smoke and toxic fumes always in the city and finally in 1981, a 12 year old boy was playing out in his grandma's yard and a sink hole popped open under him. He grabbed onto tree roots and was pulled out by a friend. He just missed death as if he had fallen just a few inches farther he would have fallen into temperatures over 300F. The sinkhole measure 80 feet deep.

At this point there were continually sink holes appearing around the town as the fire underground continued to catch and burn. There was sickness, there was continual danger. The federal government now stepped in and, with 42 million dollars bought the town of Centralia.... All of the homes were taken by eminent domain and homeowners were given money to leave their homes - and as they left, the town was bulldozed behind them leaving empty streets, driveways and vacant stores and lots. Within time, most of the remaining stores, churches, post office and other buildings either caught fire and burned or fell down in sinkholes.

Today, the town of Centralia has no more post code, has been bulldozed and now is merely an occassional name on a town marker, with a grid of streets that go nowhere except leading into wisps of smoke coming out of the ground as the anthracite continues to burn under the ground. With the amount of anthracite that is below the surface, experts estimate that it could still burn for another 1000 years.

Here's a video of some of the smoke coming up from the ground. If you didn't know any better, it could just be a forest fire slowly extinguishing itself. They say that there are some days that the smoke is so bad that you can't even see.

Enjoy some other pictures from the town that used to be Centralia, PA.

This is right on the outskirts - a time capsule and a veterans memorial (incidentally - Happy Veterans Day!). There are still 3 cemeteries that are full and are visited by locals on occassion.

A drive way that leads to - no house....

There are pipes sunk into the ground all around the town which are supposed to vent the fumes.
Another road that leads nowhere with a church in the far distance.
Vacant yards
One of the few houses that remain.
There are sink holes that appear all over the town. This is one of them that has been patched. One of the latest ones measure about 20 feet across - and it appeared about 8 feet in front of one of the remaining house on the Main street.
The Anthracite Museum in Ashland about 2 miles from Centralia.
The city of Ashland - sleeping soundly mere miles from the fires of Centralia.
Driving towards Buffalo through the hills of Pennsylvania. There was mist rising off the mountains as the sun set and the landscape frequently looked like the mountain in Tennessee.

If you want it -- here's a link to more info on Centralia....