Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hey! Guess what?

Don't tell me what I should or should not put in my blog! The key words are the last two in the previous sentence, "my blog." You put what you want to in your blog, and I'll do the same in mine.

I got two e-mails today telling me that there is no place for the Steelers, tailgating, or even the city of Pittsburgh in blog. To their credit, both were respectfully written and signed, but give me a break! "On a blog that is supposed to be about Gettysburg, why do you find it ok to post insignificant things about meaningless sporting events in a city that no one really cares about? Boring!" John, sorry you feel that way, buddy, but let's correct a few things here.

First, it's not a blog about Gettysburg. It's about my everyday life and the things I do. Guess what? On a recent day of my life, one of the things I did was go to the game. I enjoy it!

Two, not everyone is a Steeler fan, not even maybe a football fan, and maybe not everyone cares. Good for you if that is true! It's your right. I care. As to being insignificant, I don't think the NFL qualifies under that title. How much advertising revenue is generated from the Super Bowl alone, and how many people actually watch it? How much tax is collected, how many jobs are created,and how much money is spent at the games? Look at the photo of everyone leaving the game. That's about 1/10th of those who were there (of course, the game was a sell-out. In the 'Burgh, they always are). Think of 68,000 people each spending at least $150 in a single day. That's a lot of $!

You do what you do, and I'll do what I do. Sally, as to a blog promoting drinking, like you say mine does, walking around the Gettysburg square, down Baltimore Street, and across Steinwehr Ave. promotes more drinking than my blog does.

GETTYSBURG <~~~~~~~~Lots of bars!

More than just a tradition...

...but a way of life. The T-shirt in the above photo says it all! Tailgating, Steelers-style! Where the fun starts before most people are even awake, and sometimes doesn't end until well after dark.

So, what are the essential elements for a good tailgate party?

First, the hardware...a cooler with lots of ice, a grill, barbeque tools, a few comfortable chairs, and a large vehicle to get everything there and back!

Second, the software...beverage of choice (usually, a local beer, in this case, Iron City, or IC Light), grillable meat of some kind (hot dogs and hamburgers usually work best, but wings, ribs, chickens, even steaks, work quite well), potato chips and so forth, and anything else you can bring along.

Not required, but often used,...a tent or umbrella, a stereo system of some sort, a beer-pong table (yep, they play beer pong in the parking lots!), and some cash to buy goodies from the street vendors (you can get good deals from some of these guys!), and maybe a tv or radio.

Put it all together, and you're almost there! "What's the missing ingredient now?" you might ask. "Sounds like you've got it all covered!"...the love of a team, the love of a city, and the carrying on of tradition. All teams have fans, lots of these fans like to party, and tailgating is big in many cities, but in no place is it done like it is in the 'Burgh! (or in many of the away games, because the Steeler Nation is everywhere, and they travel well!)

Guess you have to be there, to see it, feel it, hear it, and smell it, in order to really appreciate it! Pictures and words don't do it justice. It's an atmosphere like no other, and I love it! It's even better when the team is good, but the parties go on, whether it's a win or a loss, a good season or a bad one!

One heckuva' way to spend a Sunday!

So, for a 1 o'clock game, what time does the party start? We got there at 7:30am, and I opened my first beverage at 7:45, and guess what? There were a lot of people already there! Turned in to an awesome party, and we all had fun!

Not everyday that you can watch the greatest football team in the league play in front of the best fans in the history of sports in the shadow of the greatest city in the world!

"Here We Go, Steelers! Here We Go!" Life is good!

A few more of the changes at the 'Den!

I took a few more, and everyone wants to see them, so here we go!

Friday, September 21, 2007

The changing piece of ground that is the Gettysburg battlefield

Change is constant. Change is good. Nowhere are these concepts more evident than on the Gettysburg battlefield. It has been happening since 2000, when the tower came down, and 'the 5 year plan' started. 7 years later, it's still going strong!

Like a lot of folks, I had my doubts. Will they follow it through to completion? How far will they go? Will they keep up with it, or merely allow the underbrush take over? All legitimate questions.

Tree-huggers aside, the clearing of trees continues. Please note that though I do believe in conservation, and all sorts of other environmental issues, Gettysburg is not the place for such things. It is a National Military Park, not your basic national park, where people go to see trees, and wildlife, and so forth, though they are in abundance here. Gettysburg is where you go to remember struggle, honor sacrifice, and respect heroism. Making it look like it did at the time of the battle is the thing to do, and this endeavor should continue.

Very rarely do I get blown away by such things. I'm here almost everyday, and I do try to get out on the field quite often. But, I've been away from it for a few weeks, so I decided to make the trek to the Devil's Den area. Boy, was I blown away! I knew trees were being removed, and the area had changed. I wasn't quite ready for the sights I was now seeing, however.

You can see the Emmitsburg Road from the Triangular Field? You can see the Devil's Den from the Emmitsburg Rd. ? Incredible, to say the least! The words and photos don't do it the justice it deserves. It clearly is a view that must be seen to be appreciated, a view of a landscape that hasn't looked this way in, most likely, well over 100 years! I can only imagine what it will be like when completed!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Siskey family picnic!

Most likely, the last one! It used to be a 'pumpkin picking picnic', where all the friends and relatives came out early, we went out to the fields and did all the picking, and then had a big party. But, it got too hard to coordinate the picking, and sometimes the weather didn't cooperate (ever tried to free a Dodge pickup loaded with 1500 lbs of pumpkins from being stuck in the mud?). So, a few years ago, we decided to do the picking in advance, and have all the party-goers get together and help us wash them. We wash them in bleach and water. It helps kill any mold or fungus, and also hardens up the skin so they last longer before rotting (who would've known?). Everyone still had way too much fun, and all the work got done.

Due to a number of reasons, this is most likely the last year for pumpkin picking, and the last picnic of this size, so it was a major event. At one point, I counted 76 people at the picnic. Best guess for total attendance was between 95 and 100. Lotsa family members, and many awesome friends, some of whom go back to when my Dad was just a kid. I got to see my aunt and uncle from Hollywood, FL, and my cousin Dennis, his wife Lori, and son Anthony from Ft. Lauderdale (well, Weston, actually, but close enough!). My brother even made it home for a brief, but fun visit!

In true form, my mother had enough food for a small army, and leftovers, the best part of any picnic, made there way back to Gettysburg! It was fun. Great having the family and friends together. If you came and didn't have a good time, or left hungry, it was your own fault! Thanks to everyone who came, and even moreso to everyone who helped make it happen! It was greatly appreciated by all!

Picking pumpkins!

So, northern PA has grapes, Adams County is the apple capital of the world, and the entire state has a big corn and soybean crop. Name one other big PA cash crop?...Pumpkins!

This is the 13th year in a row we've picked and sold them (and, unfortunately, probably the last. Too much work for Dad to do himself, and too hard for me to commit to getting back home enough to help out!). It's fun! The first year, we figured we'd do all the sales roadside...and guess what?...Roadside sales were horrible! I averaged about 1 pumpkin per hour on a good day. Flea market selling didn't work, either.

Well, that year, we had over 500 pumpkins. How to sell them? I made some signs and put them along the roads near my parent's home. My dad thought I was nuts "No one will drive out here to buy pumpkins!" he said. Well, fortunately, he was wrong!

People came from everywhere, and we sold them all, even the pair I had put away for myself. Every year, we got a little bigger. A few years, we got stuck with some, but most times, it was a complete sell-out!

Picking them is difficult! Some of them buggers are heavy! Selling them, though, is fun! We have repeat customers who come out year after year looking for them. People bring their kids along to take pictures, and it is awesome.

Fall harvest time is my favorite time of the year! I just hate what comes next!...Winter, and the retail Christmas season!

By the way, a big thanks goes out to my cousins Ronnie and Guy. They both were a very big help with the picking this year. We couldn't have done it without them!

Monday, September 3, 2007

When does humor become offensive?

I guess that can be a tough question? Some modern comedians truly put that question to the test at times. Political satirists, political commentary, a few off color jokes, and profanity do not bother me. Ethnic jokes at times do, especially if they imply racism.

I guess the difference is that it is aimed at an individual or group in an effort to belittle them, or to imply superiority. Jokes directed at the president, et al, can be funny because, even though they are directed at a particular individual, most of us see that he can be funny at times through his words and actions. Also, he can defend himself if need be.

What am I getting at here? I recently was in a Gettysburg tourist-trap gift shop. The kind of place (and there are many) that cares little about the history and sacrifice, but who's only concern is to milk the visitors and make as much money as possible (SHAMEFUL! to say the least). I saw a set of caricature style birthday cards. A few are shown at the top. I don't know, I can see the humor, but I think they are tasteless and highly offensive. Those on the cards saw more hardship, felt more loss and suffered more than any of us can possibly imagine. They were involved in some of the most brutal days in American history. Their hardships and sacrifice should not be made into a joke for a good laugh on a birthday. Once again, I think we owe them and their memory more.

By the way, there is no caption on the Sherman card. The Grant card says, "time for you to surrender another year...unconditionally." Of course, he has a flask and a cigar. Pickett's card says, "Sorry I didn't get you a present. I couldn't charge it." I can't even think of what to say about that one!