Friday, July 25, 2014

Baseball, summer, cars, family, and social media friends

I wrote two of my favorite online articles about timeless moments and the meaningful memories that were developed through those experiences. Kind social media responses during the past three years have helped these two stories to grow exponentially.

Loyal 'Insight' readers, or newcomers to this digital space, will understand the importance of each piece as the words in each feature flow...

Could One Baseball Shatter the Summer?

One summer, in the early 1980s, my family and I traveled to the shore. The home my Mom, two Aunts, cousin Chris and I rented annually was two blocks from the ocean in New Jersey.
The alley
Generally, Chris and I would spend some idle time playing catch in an alley that was cemented between our house and another.
There was a window located a number of feet above where Chris crouched to assume the role of Philadelphia Phillies catcher Bob Boone. I was, of course, the right-handed Steve Carlton.
My fastball was good for a boy my size, but it did occasionally get away from me. Like Lefty, I should have used my slider more.
That historic day one of my heaters left my hand and sailed far above my cousin's mitt. He never had a chance to catch it.
Shiny evidence
The ball missed the wood and crashed right through that window. It made such a loud noise that people from a number of surrounding homes came out to see what had happened.
With gloves in hand and shiny evidence on the ground, there was no wiggle room for creative explanation.
My Mom came out and quickly eased the tension by simply saying that the glass could easily be repaired. The next day it was and only cost a few weeks of our combined allowances.
Positive example 

Her example often taught me how to respond to life's unexpected situations and to other people's overreactions.
Vacations often create good memories. Because of my Mom's personality, the image and sound of that window breaking actually became one of ours.

My First Car was an All-time Classic

My dad and I bought a car for $75 on a bitterly cold December day in 1985. The 4-door, hard top, is still the best investment that we ever made.

A few years later, we transplanted the engine of our 1966 Plymouth Valiant into the body of the 1966 Dodge Dart that we had purchased. That action set me up with a reliable, very inexpensive, set of wheels for many years to come.
I drove the Dart to high school, on dates and took it with me to my first job out of college when I worked for the Philadelphia Phillies minor league team in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

This dandy of a car had a Slant Six, 101 horsepower, engine. It ran for 253,000 smooth miles between 1966 and 2001, averaging approximately 16 miles per gallon.
Despite having rear-wheel drive, this warrior would make it through snow storms due to its weight and sheer inner determination.
In its later years it also started to burn some oil, but always kept chugging along.
Air conditioning and AM radio
The car came standard with the four-fifty-five air-conditioning that many vehicles of that era had. When you were on highway and were going fifty-five miles an hour with the windows down, the outside air cooled the inside of the car excellently.
It had an AM, push-button, radio that worked for many years. One day, some neighborhood kids were playing by the car and broke the antenna off. No problem, my Dad and I just ran the wire inside the vehicle and attached the antenna to the top of the dash. It continued to play like a charm.
The front and back seats were both in bench style. They wore out over time and we had them reupholstered.
We had shoulder belts installed, as only lap belts were included during the era when that car was assembled.
Some parts, like the radiator and master cylinder lasted for decades. But, eventually they had to be replaced.
Local junkyards served as good sources of inexpensive parts that lasted for the life of the car after they were installed.
One night I backed into a short, dark brown metal pole that was in a restaurant's parking lot. The minor bump slightly dented my rear fender. That incident spurred a re-paint process which transformed the Dart from a period color of blue to a classic white.
My dad's thought process was exactly on the mark, as that shade was always cool to the touch during every hot summer. The change, along with the installation of a tinted front windshield, noticeably reduced the inside temperature of the car.
To the end
The Dart's basic components remained fine throughout it's life. Eventually, body rust caused the suspension weaken.
The cost of repairing the suspension spelled the end of this beloved vehicle. So, the car was retired in May, 2001.
Having come off the assembly line in the fall of 1965, our old friend lived for nearly thirty-six solid years.
Logic verses emotion
This car served as modest transportation for a younger person like myself. Inexpensive possessions of any type are generally ideal for people of any means.
My 1966 Dodge Dart was obviously no show piece and it wasn't meant to be. I found that people who shared a grounded view of the world responded favorably to it. Those who were shallow often exhibited opposite reactions.
People's comments about your car, or about any possession that you own, are always reflective of their inner egos.
I loved the Dart because of its connection to my dad. It represented one element of our always good relationship. That 1966 Dodge Dart was real, just like us.


Let's connect on Twitter @SeanyOB, through Facebook, or on LinkedInVisit my Examiner Contributor Page.


My illustrated children's book: Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile officially became a Top 10 Amazon best-seller as of January 29, 2014. The print and ebook editions were initially released in August, 2014.

Children's Alopecia Project

50% of all proceeds from the sale of our book (in both print and ebook forms) are being donated to the Children's Alopecia Project (CAP).

What a ride

This incredible and unexpected ride began in the spring of 2011. By August 2013, the book was published by the Children's Alopecia Project in print form. We have been very pleased with sales of that edition. Use, or share, this link --->>Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile to purchase the printed book directly from CAP.

I published a special ebook edition within weeks of the print book release. After starting in the tens of thousands (in terms of Amazon's children's book rankings), Maddie broke into the Top 50 just prior to Christmas. It climbed through the 30s and settled in the upper 20s before breaking into the Top 10.  

Use, or share, this link --->>Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile to see a 'free-view' of the special ebook edition. I've included extra bonus features in this version that provide background information, extra photos, and illustrations. Each item helps to tell the complete story of this book's birth. 

Here's a link to this great (print and online) article that the Reading Eagle recently published about our story Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile: Book chronicles Wyomissing teen's journey since being diagnosed with alopecia

Thank you to Stacey Stauffer (Fox 29 Philadelphia). She interviewed Madison Woytovich, her parents (Jeff and Betsy Woytovich) and me about the latest chapter in this inspiring story. Here's a video link to Stacey's wonderful feature. 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------- is the number 1 online publishing platform in the world. That's why I used it to publish my first ebookFast Fiction and Other Stuff.
This mini-tome is a collection of stories and poems for readers who don't take themselves too seriously. I hope that you enjoy it and am always interested in your feedback. 

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