Friday, January 30, 2015

He got his mother’s eyes

eyes pete

Pete, our first Aussie who died shortly after his seventh birthday, had beautiful, expressive brown eyes that helped make his innate sweetness all the more endearing.

I was reviewing images stored on a solid state hard drive and found the photos we shot the day we visited the farm east of Crawfordsville where Pete and his littermates awaited adoption in November, 2005.

Pete’s dad was a miniature Aussie and his mom was a full-size Aussie. We had a few photos of his mother and it immediately became obvious where he got his soulful eyes.

Here’s Pete’s mom:

eyes pete mom

Me and Jeff

john jeff clayton72

The caches of old photos keep turning up and continue to yield surprising images and memories.

Like this one of me and my pal Jeff Clayton around 1949 or 1950.

Jeff’s father, Bernard Clayton, grew up in Zionsville where his father owned The Zionsville Times. Bernard was a newspaper guy too and worked at The Indianapolis News and ran bureaus in Chicago and San Francisco Time and Life magazines. He was a military correspondent in World War II and was lucky enough to be on the USS Missouri when the Japanese signed the surrender documents in Tokyo Bay in August, 1945, and witnessed the proceedings. After the war, he settled in San Mateo, Calif. and handled public relations for Matson steamship lines, which did a booming post-war business carrying passengers to and from Hawaii.

I’m a little fuzzy on when he married Marjorie Roach, but it had to be before or during WWII. Marjorie was a daughter of Harry and Minnie Roach of Delphi, Ind., and Jeff spent a few weeks some summers at their house, which is how I came to know him. That’s the Roach house and yard in the photo. Their yard and ours were separated by a long line of peony bushes.

The last time I saw Jeff was sometime in the 1980s when he traveled from California to spend Christmas with his parents who, by that time, were living in Bloomington, Ind.

Dropping out of the corporate world in 1964, Bernard and Marjorie traveled the U.S. and Europe for a couple of years before he was recruited by Indiana University for a special project. In the course of their travels, Bernard took up cooking and wrote cookbooks, the most successful of which were “Bernard Clayton’s Complete Book of Small Breads” (1998) and “The Complete Book of Soups and Stews,” first published in 1984 and reissued in a revised edition in 2006. Bernard died in Bloomington in 2011 at the age of 94.

He is one of a handful of my acquaintances to rate an obituary in The New York Times.

I’ve lost track of Jeff. There are a lot of Jeffrey Claytons in the U.S., but I suspect he’s the one who lives in Twin Peaks, Calif.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

I fell, but I got right up

I misjudged the curb at the post office where it tapers down to a wheelchair ramp Tuesday morning and found myself on the pavement.

It startled the hell out of a young guy just opening the door to the building.

I remember saying, “Shit!” as I landed on my right side, abrading two knuckles  and getting a couple of abrasions on my right leg and knee.

Fortunately, I was wearing my German Polizei leather jacket, which spared me more abrasions on my arm and shoulder.

“Thank God for leather,” I said, embarrassedly as I scrambled to my feet and regained my composure, quietly cursing my inattention.

Thinking about it later, it occurred to me that the CDC and other medical authorities have made a big deal about falls and senior citizens.

I still have trouble thinking of myself as a senior citizen, even though I’ll be 70 in July, so I figured those warnings didn’t apply to me.

Then I recalled it was a slip and fall on ice that put my dad in a downward spiral. As a consequence of the dreaded broken hip, he spent most of his remaining years in a nursing home.

Granted, he was in his 80s when he fell, but the point is worth noting.

I guess I have a couple of choices – either wear my motorcycle gear all the time or get my head out of my ass and pay attention to where I put my feet.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tesla P85D Insane Mode Launch Reactions Compilation - Explicit Version

My son Steve and his wife Nicky bought a Tesla late last year.

The original Flora Music Man

irvin m flora72

I’ve been clearing out boxes from our garage that have been there since we move here from Indiana more than seven years ago and finding several old family photos that are worth preserving.

Yesterday’s scans included this wonderful image of my grandfather, Irvin Monroe Flora on a piano bench in the parlor of the farm house where he and his wife, Bertha LaDora Long Flora, raised nine children.

The Flora family farmed 80 acres in southern Carroll County, Indiana. Irvin Flora served as Trustee of Democrat Township and later as Carroll County Treasurer. During the 1920s, my Dad tells me, Irvin had the distinction of being the only farmer on his road who refused to join the Ku Klux Klan.

This photo dates from the late 1930s or early ‘40s and is a remarkable environmental portrait. Given the limitations of consumer-grade cameras and film of the era, it’s an real triumph of available light photography. The lighting is very nearly perfect, coming from two windows. If you couldn’t see the windows, you might think it was a studio shot, so perfect is the light on his face.

My grandfather died on June 21, 1945 at the age of 72. My Dad said he was sitting in an easy chair in the parlor when he suffered a fatal heart attack. I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t the chair on the right of the photo.

It’s also significant that Grandpa Flora was sitting on a piano bench, because he was a natural self-taught musician who, my Dad said, could play the trumpet, cornet, baritone, violin, and flute.

The only recording I have of my father’s voice was made in the early 1980s when my son Steve had just finished playing a song on his trumpet for my parents.

“My dad was just nuts over music,” my father said. “He had stacks of music that high. He used to buy music for the Delphi Band. He was so good that a talent scout, when he was about 16 or 17 years old, wanted to take him east to some eastern band that played county fairs. My grandparents were Dunkards and wouldn't let him do it.”

Grandpa Flora would be proud of his musical descendants:

  • I was in every vocal and instrumental group that existed at Delphi High School in the 1960s.
  • My older son Sean is a musician, recording engineer and record producer with a studio on Sauvie Island near Portland, Ore.
  • My younger son Steve is a cum laude graduate of the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and is a successful bass player in Las Vegas.
  • My cousin Eric was a high school music teacher.
  • Eric’s son Jamie is an operatic tenor, having sung with the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York.

If there is such a thing as a musical gene, we all have this man to thank for it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A belated birthday note


Yesterday was the 21st birthday of our 1994 BMW K75S. It was born on Jan. 27, 1994 in Berlin.

I bought it used from Revard BMW Motorcycles on Oct. 31, 2000 with 2,417 miles on the odometer and a ridiculous looking too-tall windscreen.

I bought it for Maria to ride but she never felt really comfortable on it and a car accident a few years later in which a woman with macular degeneration totaled the Buick Maria was driving undermined her confidence.

So it has fallen to me to ride it regularly and keep it in good condition, which has turned out to be a pleasure.

I’ve never toured on it, mainly because it lacks a luggage rack. The longest trip I’ve taken on it was Sept. 28, 2007, when I rode from our home in Thorntown to Jonesboro in preparation to buying a house and moving to Arkansas.

The Sargent seat isn't as nice as the BMW Comfort Seat on my K1200GT, but it wasn't awful,either.

Aside from the chilly start, the weather for the ride down was perfect. It was a warm, but not oppressive, 82 degrees when I rode down through southeastern Missouri and into Arkansas.

The bike performed flawlessly and delivered something like 44 or 45 miles/gallon. I stopped at Boomland for my final fill-up and savored the last 110 or so miles to Jonesboro.

I left the bike with Charlie and Deb Parsons, who were already storing my GT, and caught a ride home the next day with Indianapolis News compadre Skip Hess.

The bike has about 14,780 miles on the odometer as it sits in my garage this afternoon. It continues to be a joy to ride.

Here’s a video I made with it in May, 2011.

Monday, January 26, 2015

I started on a Kawasaki

john kawasaki

My motorcycling career began in the summer of 1980 when I bought a used 1977 Kawasaki KE175 from Keystone Kawasaki in Indianapolis.

I survived somehow for a few months before Divine Providence steered me to the Motorcycle Safety Foundations beginning rider course. I can’t count the number of times the skills I learned in that class saved my life.

I put both of my sons through the course, but they weren’t really interested in riding and neither has ever owned a bike.

But shortly after Sean completed the course, probably around 1982, he and I would take the bike to some then-undeveloped land along the east bank of the White River where it flows under I-465 and ride the trails.

sean  kawasaki

The trails are gone and the land, being close to the Castleton Shopping Mall, has been developed as apartments.

A dead language

john apollo 8-72

I did a new scan of this image over the weekend. It’s me being a makeup editor at The Indianapolis News, standing next to the front page of the Blue Streak edition of Dec. 21, 1968 – the day the Apollo 8 mission was launched for the first orbits of the moon.

It occurred to me that much of the language of journeymen printers has been lost with the advent of electronic typography.

So here is a glossary of terms I learned working as a makeup editor at The News (that I can recall) before the paper transitioned to computers and offset printing.

Art – a picture, either a drawing of a photoengraving.

Artline – the caption for a piece of art.

Chase – a metal frame within which the type, headlines and photoengravings are assembled to create a newspaper page. The chase had bolts on two sides that made it possible to compress the type from the bottom and one side using a chase key.

Column rule – a type element typically extending from the top of a story to the bottom of the page of whatever other element is below the story that makes a vertical line separating the columns.

Dingbat – a design element such as the title of a continuing feature that was saved and used over and over from one edition to another.

Etaoin shrdlu – the sequence of letters in the first two columns of letters on a Linotype or Intertype machine keyboard. Typesetters would occasionally sweep a finger down the first and second columns to make a test line of type reading “etaoin shrdlu.”

Galley – a metal tray that typically held a newspaper story in lead type form.

Galley proof – a proof made from one individual galley to let proof readers check for typographical and other errors.

Hell box – a box into which no-longer-needed lead type is dumped before it is melted down into lead ingots for reuse in typesetting machines.

Intertype machine – a mechanical typesetting machine that created individual lines of type on lead slugs.

Line gauge – a metal ruler used by printers to measure a story or design element. Line gauges were typically 12 inches long and measured in inches, agate lines, picas and points.

Linotype machine – a mechanical typesetting machine that created individual lines of type on lead slugs.

Ludlow – a machine used to cast large type for headlines.

Mat – short for matrix, the individual brass mold for a letter or character that dropped into place to create a line of type on a Linotype or Intertype machine.

Pica – a unit of printer’s measure. There are six picas to an inch.

Point – a unit of printer’s measure, used to measure the height of a line of type or a headline. There are 72 points to an inch.

Proof press – a small printing press designed to print the contents of one galley at a time for proof readers to edit.

Squirt – a malfunction of the Ludlow machine in which a stream of molten lead is ejected.

Turtle – a metal-topped table with wheels on its four feet upon which a page is assembled. That’s what is holding the front page of The News in the photo above.

Type lice – the subject of a prank pulled on novice printers and editors. Experience printers tell the victim that a special kind of louse lives in type and it can be flushed out by pouring water into a 1”-2”-inch gap in a column of type. When the victim leans over to peer closely into the gap, the printer thrusts the bottom of the column of type forward sharply, slamming the gap shut and squirting the water up and into the victim’s face. Hilarity ensures.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Deflated: the Statistically Impossible Patriots Fumble Record

Deflated: the Statistically Impossible Patriots Fumble Record

Happy Birthday, Nicky!

nicky portrait

Today is my daughter-in-law Dr. Nicole Flora’s birthday.

Nicky is Chief Medical Officer at Nevada Health Co-op in Las Vegas and we are immeasurably proud of her and Steve and their daughter Lisa.

I shot this portrait when I visited them in 2013. We hope to see them soon.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Still puzzling


I’m still studying the images on Phil Kroon’s long lost roll of negatives from around 1952.

Here is a closer view of the church/cathedral that was featured in yesterday’s blogpost.

I can’t help but think it’s in France, rather than French Canada, largely because of the cars, particularly the two 1930s Citroens. I could be wrong, but I don’t think they were ever common in Canada.

I’m also intrigued to notice what appear to be two gargoyles projecting from the upper left side of the building. And the streetlight says “Europe” to me, too.