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January 26 2001

Another tribute to Fr. John Hacala
New class page online: Vintondale '55
 NGHS Class of '50 reunion photo added
New membership categories for Museum/Historical Society

More creativity: Stamp collecting and 4-H

One of my strangest fund raising gambits during the less-than-great depression of the 1950's was stamp collecting. Being a very cerebral child who'd been dissuaded from pursuing sports, I thought for a long time about getting a hobby. Stamp collecting was touted as the most popular hobby going, so I investigated it and started a small collection by buying some stamp packets, albums, stamp hinges and other paraphrenalia at the five and ten.

Though I could appreciate stamps as art objects to some extent, collecting them never captivated my imagination or satisfied any need. I thought the albums would never be complete and, if one were to be full, there would be sure to be a new stamp that hadn't found a place on the right page and you'd have to start all over with a new, more exhaustive, album (the better albums have photos of the stamps on the page they're intended to occupy).

I did see possibilities in collector stamps for raising money and perhaps establishing friendships, however, and for six months or so while in junior high, I tried to get a stamp club going (I remember only one member besides myself—Billy McQuay). I'd provide the supplies to the members, making a little profit for being the retailer. But I was never meant to be a salesman, being more inclined to give things away than sell them, so I soon lost interest. The stamps still sit in a box in my closet, however, and every desk main drawer I've had over all the years since have had growing piles of torn off "collectable" stamps waiting to be cashed in. Maybe my grandchildren....

The most practical way to make money in a rural setting like the Redmill Road, where I grew up, was a 4-H project, and I joined 4-H for precisely the same reasons I tried the stamp club...making dough and friends. There were only about a half dozen of us who met once a month in the Belsano school as members of the agricultural club for kids. Walter Parish's family were the organizers and his offspring the bulk of the membership, with Ann, Louise, Tommy and I think one or two younger members. Also there regularly besides me was Bill Tobin, who lived at Bethel and whom I was acquainted with, like the Parishes, from school, and Bill and his mother also were known from the EUB Church that Mom and I attended.

The big money was, and still is, raising "baby beefs." I forgot the economics of them in those days, but I think a calf could be bought for the low hundreds and sold for over $1000, big money in the 1950s economy. Of course, there was expense in feeding and keeping the animal, and lots of work, too, which is why (on both counts) I didn't consider anything so ambitious. Instead, I grew tomatoes one year, and pine seedlings the next. The tomatoes made me famous, sort of, though I didn't make a penny for growing them. Andy Rogalski, the editor of the Journal, before we were acquainted as mentor and understudy (as editor and teen columnist) came to the farm to photograph me with my tomatoes as a feature in a pre-County Fair edition. They photographed well because in those black-and-white days, readers couldn't tell (for sure, at least) how green they were, and they were large. But they ripened well after the fair, and there was no market, to speak of, for a bushel of tomatoes in that area, where everyone grows their own at that season.

The pine seedlings were another matter. For a few pennies' worth of seeds, you could grow a whole seedbed (or multiples thereof) in a season, and sell them to a tree nursery at the end of that season for, give or take a few dollars, $25. That's what I did, in the fall of my junior year of high school, the time to apply to college. The $25, that I obtained from my uncle, who bought the seedlings and grew them to maturity, was used to pay for my application fees at Johnstown College, University of Pittsburgh (known now as UPJ). I can't say I wouldn't have made it to college without that help...but in those days, that was a significant contribution to the process.

If the following item of the day is a joke, it will be indicated by happy face icons ; if an inspirational item. by book icons .

Thrown any darts?
A young lady named Sally relates an experience she had in a religion class whose teacher was a Dr. Smith. Sally says Dr. Smith was known for his elaborate object lessons.

One day, Sally walked into the class and knew they were in for a fun day. On the wall was a big target and on a nearby table were many darts. Dr. Smith told the students to draw a picture of someone that they disliked or someone who had made them angry, and he would allow them to throw darts at the person's picture. Sally's girlfriend drew a picture of a girl who had stolen her boyfriend. Another friend drew a picture of his little brother. Sally drew a picture of a former friend, putting a great deal of detail into her drawing, even drawing pimples on the face.

Sally was pleased at the overall effect she had achieved. The class lined up and began throwing darts, with much hilarity. Some of the students threw their darts with such force that their targets were ripping apart. Sally looked forward to her turn, and was disappointed when Dr. Smith, because of time limits, asked the students to return to their seats.

As Sally sat thinking about how angry she was because she didn't have a chance to throw any darts at her target, Dr. Smith began removing the target from the wall. Underneath the target was a picture of Jesus. A hush fell over the room as each student viewed the mangled picture of Jesus; holes and jagged marks covered His face and His eyes were pierced.

Dr. Smith then said only, "In as much as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto Me." No other words were necessary; the tear-filled eyes of each student focused only on the picture of Jesus Christ.

Author Unknown
submitted by Zan

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