Sunday, December 20, 2009

Springerle Christmas Cookies

One fond memory of living at Sandy Pond was of my Mom, Ruthy Kappesser, making Springerles at Christmastime.
Anybody visiting our family would get Springerles, which were thought to bring luck and cheer.

They are German christmas cookies, flavored with anise seed, which is licorice-like in taste. Mom's recipe came from Dad's family - his Grandma I think. Springerles need to be dried for a couple of weeks so they are rock-hard, but us kids would sneak them out of the jar ahead of their day because we liked them soft. I still prefer them soft. (I'm eating one now!)

They are formed with a special hardwood rolling pin or press that is carved with different designs to imprint on the dough. Barb has 2 of the rolling pins and 1 press...

Springerles. Barb made these with whole wheat flour she milled herself from some wheat we bought from the Amish in Lancaster County PA.

Barbs collection of Springerle tools...

A press.

This is an old pin.

Barb's been doing that Christmas cookie thing all week. The house smells great when I get home from work. The Springerle German cookies are almost ready to eat (drying for 10 days now). We have cookie exchange at Cobham (work) tomorrow and so I have plenty to bring to the table. I might make a batch of traditional Bavarian Cookie Wreaths. (Kappessers emigrated from Bavaria in 1803). Some of my fellow coworkers have no baking resources so they bring their cookies in from fancy upscale bakeries (or BJ's Warehouse)...they aren't bad either...

Of course we use a lot of cookie canisters!

The first one on the left is a fruitcake cookie, also new this year...visitors will be forced to eat cookies.

Here are all the different kinds Barb made this year. The front row is the German Springerles - my favorite. My Mom gave her the recipe from my Dad's Grandma (as I recall), originating in the old country (Bavaria, Germany), but I think she's researched and developed a better one...

These are new. A marshmallow covered with melted caramel and rolled in rice krispies.

Barb has been baking cookies every Christmas since we were married in 1982...and I have been eating them!

Friday, December 18, 2009

SCCS Football 1970 Part II...


Once I have these digitally transferred, I'll post again - the fidelity will be better then...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

SCCS Football 1970

Just a short video...clips my Dad, Ed Kappesser, shot at a SCCS football game in the fall of 1970. This video has not been digitally transferred from 8mm to MPEG yet, hence the "flicker"...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

SCCS Cheerleaders

My Sandy Pond Memories will always include the high school culture at Sandy Creek Central school.
A big part of life at SCCS was SPORTS and CHEERLEADERS. Now, I was no athlete in those days, but I enjoyed going to the games once in a while and watching the teams play and Cheerleaders do their stuff. Now the Cheerleaders had talent that I could appreciate. They would practice for hours and choreograph clever cheers and routines. I think they worked hard at what they did and never really got the credit they deserved. In any case, as a teenage boy with raging hormones, I would rather watch the cheerleaders (in their short pleated skirts) than the guys playing their games any day.

I went steady with a cute, bright, freshman girl for a while who made it on to the cheerleading squad. She was jumpin' up and down squealing happy when she made the team - it was a big deal. After that, I even got to ride on the bus with them for a few games (boyfriends of cheerleaders were allowed).
After one particularly hard fought basketball game against Belleville for the local Championship in which SCCS lost by one point, we filed out on the bus to go home, a little subdued and sullen. A couple of psuedo-juvenile delinquents snuck over and let the air out of Belleville’s bus tires. Our bus driver pretended to be mad and yelled at all of us like we were all guilty, but I saw his face in the mirror after he sat down in the driver's seat and I swear he smirked.
Belleville's basketball team got home late that night, but I'm sure they didn't care.

High school was full of great moments like that, and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

Here is a short video of a football game at SCCS in the fall of ’71. I have more footage but haven't transferred it from 8mm to MPEG yet. I'll post that another time.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

February Visitors

Almost every year, by February, winter's accumulated snow would be piled at least 5 or 6 feet high along the roads and around driveways from the incessant plowing and snowblowing and shoveling. At Sandy Pond, sometimes it would snow every day for 4 or 5 days. Blizzards with their strong winds and horizontal snow with sporadic "whiteouts", would hit maybe 2 or 3 times a month.

And, every February, our old and dear friends from Pittsburgh would brave the elements and visit for my Dad's birthday celebration on the 15th. The party usually included Dr. Rex Newton, his wife Alice, son Bobby, and Alice's brother Bob Hopkins and wife Peggy, and Regis and Jean Cannon. Oh my gosh we had some great times - ice-fishin', playing cards, tellin' stories, Back In The Day.

Here is a video of (the late) Bobby Newton snowmobiling in the winter wonderland of Sandy Pond...Bobby sure loved to ride!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Photo taken a few years ago.

When I went off to Navy boot camp on March 11, 1980, my mind sort of “photographed” Sandy Pond the way it was that day.
I have been living far away from there since so that photograph is tainted but vivid. The Wigwam Hotel is part of that old picture.

Growing up at Sandy Pond we took the Wigwam for granted as a run down local business who‘s hey-dey had come and gone many years ago. Mom and Dad took us there once in a while for a Friday fish dinner and Dad would take the opportunity to chew the fat at the Bar with the former owner old Nick Kendradt. I have forgotten who owned the Wigwam before old Nick - after all, I was a small child then.
Mr. Kendradt lived on a pension and chose not to sink much money into his hotel, content to let it coast down a slope while he made a meager living off the regulars - mostly card-playin, stogie-smokin’ beer drinkin buddies and “fish-heads“.


There always seemed to be a lot more activity at the old Wigwam in the winter. Fishermen would descend on Sandy Pond every weekend to try their luck through The Ice. There were hundreds of them on the ice on the weekends, many of them relying on the Wigwam, The Comfort Hotel (burned down from “faulty wiring” in the early 70’s), Sandy Lodge (which later changed hands and became “The Lodge“), Eddie’s Cove (or, as we used to call it Eddie’s “Cave”), and the Bayview Hotel (also burned in the 70‘s, from a lit ciggy-butt in the ladies room trash).
Seems like the Wigwam got the most customers, looking for chili, burgers, and beer for lunch - then back out on The Ice. Mr. Kendradt also sold bait and a very basic assortment of tackle available in the basement.

Living in my own teen world, I never knew who arranged or sponsored them, but there used to be stock car races on the ice in front of the Wigwam. Once or twice a winter, on a typically cold winter-cloudy-gray Saturday afternoon, huge crowds of people would watch dozens of cars compete in several classes, including “powder-puff” for the ladies. A few days before, a crew would plow the snow in the ice to form a big flat oval track with snow banks for walls. Tires and hay-bales were piled around the curves for extra protection. The cars were typically back-yard budget creations, right down to the tires outfitted with spikes. The spikes helped, but ice is still ice and the lack of friction provided the crowd with plenty of crashes (more like slow-motion fender-benders). Top speed, if a driver was skillful, was probably a brief 40 MPH, and none of the cars had mufflers, so you could hear the roar no matter where you were within a 3 mile radius. Beer flowed freely among the race-fans, and there were plenty of tailgate gatherings. If it snowed it just made the races MUCH more interesting…
I also remember a demolition derby in front of the Wigwam one or two years, with similar noise and crowds.

In the late 70’s, the Sandy Creek Town Board passed and ordnance that prohibited automobiles on the ice of any body of water in Sandy Creek township, which includes Sandy Pond. My Dad was one of Sandy Creek’s Town Justices in those days (Maurice Hurd being the other). He attended the Board meetings that debated and finally voted yes to the new ordnance. Despite the loss of revenue for local businesses, the town wanted to prevent any more drownings. Over the years too many cars had broken through the ice and fisherman drowned. In those days, once in a while, springtime yielded a body or two on the shore after the ice went out. Grisly...

Some photos from the mid-1970s. The horse and dog belonged to Nancy Warner,
(Photos courtesy Charlene Cole, Sandy Creek Town Historian)

Monday, September 14, 2009


Growing up at Sandy Pond I never paid any attention to this park and I rergret that. It's beautiful. We have camped here several times in the past 20 years.

If I lived in the area I would take advantage of this park several times a year.

The beach is immaculate...the bottom of the water in swimming area is all soft sand, the staff doesn't harass you, and they even allow you to body surf / boogie-board when the waves are high.
These photos were taken just after sunrise.
Wish you were there...

Friday, August 21, 2009


Aug 22 - Aug 29 we are staying at Southwick Beach State Park, north of Sandy Pond. That'll be fun. Campsites 47 and 48 - stop by...say hello...
I hope to be showing the 30th Anniversary Edition of The Rat Pack Movie Uncut (Blu-ray disc) someplace during this time frame. Maybe at Brewsters, maybe at Eddie's Cove...maybe at somebody's home...not sure yet.

I don't know if I'll be updating this BLOG during that time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bus #34

I remember waiting for the school bus during the long cold, grey, winters at Sandy Pond – how could anyone forget freezing like a popsicle? Most of the time there was at least a breeze coming in off the Pond and when it was more than a breeze the wind chill factor would plummet exponentially deep into the minus numbers of Fahrenheit. There have been many times in my life that I have experienced being “cold to the bone” so to speak – and the majority of those times were either waiting for that stupid school bus or ice-fishing with my Dad.

The bus did not pick us kids up in front of our home. We had to catch the bus down on the lower road, which meant walking down Ontario Avenue and over in front of Meyer’s camp (which used to be the “Jappyland” skating rink / dance-hall / hang-out) under a big oak tree. Fortunately that tree offered some protection during bad weather. The bus we rode was (I’ll never forget) #34, a 60 passenger ’61 GMC custom made by Superior Bus Co, driven by Mr. Fahnestock. Mr. Jim Fahnestock had more than one job at SCCS. He also taught MATH and coached basketball. He was a short, fearless man with a crew cut and a macho attitude. Everybody liked him, but you did not want him mad at you.

I remember Mr. Fahnestock using the school bus full of kids as a tow truck, yanking cars out of the snow banks and ditches when these situatiuons presented themselves. Amazing.

Every Friday Mr. Fahnestock would reverse the bus route so the kids who normally get off last got off first to start their weekend. Those kids were always elated on Fridays, and there was always an air of excitement.

Several things happened on the bus that are remarkable and worth mentioning here. In order to keep a close reign on Mike Richter, who was a mischievous boy in his mid-teens, Mr. Fahnestock appointed him to be the official door opener and Mike took it seriously - doing a good job at it. Unfortunately Mike had the worst beer farts west of Route 3. He was under-age but that did not stop him from indulging himself and from time to time he would let her rip and we would all suffer, windows flying open and sleeves over noses... Mr. Fahnestock thought it was funny…

One morning we arrived at school and before he opened the door to let everybody out Mr. F said only the girls could get off – he needed to talk to the boys. After they were all off Mr. F said that he heard a boy saying the "F word" and wanted him to ‘fess up' and we would ALL be staying on the bus until the perpetrator confessed. There was a long pause and we all looked at one another, shrugging our shoulders. Then a hand went up and Mr. F told the rest of us to leave. As I got off the bus I glanced at the bad boy and was surprised that it was my brother Kip! I not surprised he was using bad language because that was certainly nothing new…I was surprised that he confessed… that had never happened before. Mr. Fahnestock could intimidate somebody twice his size…

One time the bus accidentally ran over a dog. That was sad. We had just picked up the Mc Williams Kids and we all felt a little bump as the bus started off. Mr. F slammed on the brakes and sent Mike back to see what it was. Mike came back shaking his head and muttered something to Mr. F. He bounded out the door and knocked on the McWilliams' porch door to tell them the bad news. They wrapped the dead dog in a blanket and took it out back. The Mc Williams kids got off the bus and stayed home…

Another time while making a turn onto another road off the Ouderkirk Road, the bus slid off the road on some ice into a deep snowbank and we were stuck. Mr. F radioed for another bus to come get us. While waiting, he tried rocking it back and forth – gunning the old engine and grinding the gears…that was a ride as good as at any theme park - but he could not get it back on the road. We were all laughing and the girls screaming etc.

When I was a senior I started driving my van to school and got away from riding the bus. I missed it a little but driving to school was cooler. Once in a while I’d take the bus when I had no money for gas or the van was broke down.

Lots of good memories on that bus. Every Spring would bring squirt-gun battles and every winter the snowballs would fly (while Mr. F wasn’t looking). But if he caught you he would yell and glare at you in his giant 2 foot rear-view mirror, and deal with you harshly once we got to school. The popular punishment was to sweep and mop the bus…it was a very clean bus indeed!

I never thought I'd fondly remember the stupid bus...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

SO LONG "WILD BILL" We'll Miss Ye...

I first met Bill Stedman at the Redfield Hotel one thirsty night in the late ‘70s.
He was mouthing off about our President suffering from “rectal-cranial” inversion. I lost my beer out through my nose I was laughing so hard. We were shootin’ pool and he was pretty good (for an Army puke)…

We called him “Wild Bill” Stedman in those days.

He had been in a tough outfit during his service in the Army and I honor him for his service. The special training he endured in the Army is physically and mentally grueling, and any man who makes it through that deserves recognition and respect.

He was a good shot and one heckuva deer hunter and knew the Tug Hill well of course. I suppose I can say this now that he’s gone off to the great hunting ground…but Wild Bill told me he liked smoked salmon BETTER than venison sometimes. Well, I like venison a LOT more than salmon, so we agreed to swap venison for salmon pound for pound. He always gave me a tenderloin or sirloin – only the best cuts. We continued with this arrangement until I enlisted in the Navy and went away in 1980.

I haven’t seen Bill since and now I am sorry to have read his obituary. Now that he’s gone I regret I didn’t look him up when I was home on leave. He had a quick wit and a long list of jokes. He was a dependable sort and willing to help you out if you were broke. I probably still owe him like 20 bucks for beating me in 8-ball so much. Once in a while I’d beat him but I think he let me.

One time some friends and I were on the way home to Sandy Pond at zero-dark-thirty after an evening of revelry and mischief at the Redfield Hotel. Some local band had played that night and we all had a real good time. It was December and a light rain was icing up the roads so I had to drive like a Grandma. Coming around a long curve on a down slope somewhere between Redfield and Greenboro, we suddenly saw a dark figure with a flashlight in the middle of the road waving it around at an alarming rate and holding his other hand up, screaming over and over STOP! STOP! STOP! I started pumping my brakes but the tires were not experiencing any road friction on the wet ice so it took forever to get her stopped, just missing the guy with the flashlight. Then we saw the accident about a tenth of a mile down further. Looked like about 4 cars in a serious pileup in the middle of the road.

The guy with the flashlight was Wild Bill.

He was standing in the middle of the road forcing cars to stop before more cars piled up. He stood there waving that flashlight and screaming at cars until the cops and ambulances got there. Some of the cars he was stopping got a little out of control so he had to dodge them as they slid by. The man was fearless and agile. I don’t think anybody in the pile-up got hurt, but if it hadn’t been for Wild Bill stopping all those cars who knows how horrible it could have become. After he was done he just got in his vehicle and drove away.

He never mentioned it again – didn’t think anything of it I guess. The people involved in the crash don’t know it, but they owed Bill a lot after that night, maybe their very lives. Wild Bill was one of the good guys and I was fortunate to have known him only for a couple of years…we’ll miss him.

Monday, July 27, 2009

















Thursday, July 9, 2009

Greenboro - Almost Heaven

Road through Greenboro at sunrise.

Back in the day this road through Greenboro was narrow with no lines, a long quiet walk...

Littlejohn - I didn't have time to see if the old fire tower is still back there.

Nice to see a restaurant in the area these days.

This is some kind of tavern that exists near Greenboro now.

Close up of the restaurant.

The memorial near Ode's old homestead.

This old church still stands.

This is looking west, the beginning of Route 15 that goes all the way down to Sandy Pond.

I caught the sunrise here from Sandy Island Beach. Needed coffee bad when this was taken.

Sunrise is absolutely the best time to shoot photos in my book. Lately I have been catching the sunrise at Tydings Park in Havre De Grace where the Susquehanna River meets the Chesapeake Bay - lots of sailboats and yachts to capture there. Seems like Saturday mornings are best for this activity - few people are about before 6am. I love the solitude - helps me recharge...

During my recent visit to Sandy Pond, I awoke at zero-dark-thirty Sunday morning (June 28th) and headed to the small hamlet of Greenboro on the Tug Hill Plateau, about 40 minutes due east from Sandy Pond. If you have never visited Greenboro then perhaps you might consider it - it is a lot more "almost Heaven" than West Virginia (and everybody still has their TEETH there -just kidding!) It's much different now than it was about 40 years ago - - the trees are MUCH bigger now and I noticed there is a tavern and restaurant in the area.

I was first introduced to Greenboro by a bright young girl I used to be sweet on.

Greenboro was so different from Sandy Pond I became fascinated. The people living there seemed to be much closer and neighborly, ready to lend a hand in a heartbeat (well, many of them were related).

I was only 15 and awkward, oddly uncomfortable that there was no waterfront, no swimming, no water skiing. In those days my young psyche associated a sense of security and comfort from being able to watch the sunset over the water, not over a bunch of stupid trees. Strange how my immature mind worked at that age (Iwas pretty much a clueless pup then).

I was impressed at the amount of snowfall there during the winter months - about 3 times as much as we got at the Pond, maybe 200+ inches per season. I took that kind of snowfall for granted many years ago, but today I admit I have trouble wrapping my head around is truly beautiful there after a 2 foot snowfall and the sun peeking back out, casting long shadows after supper.

Snowmobiling in this area was incredible. There was a million trails going everywhere. The snow was so deep it was like gliding on soft thick clouds. I never experienced complete silence before I had a chance to drive the old orange '69 Moto-Ski back deep into those woods and stop and turn off the engine. The deep snow would soak up all the sounds and you only heard the gentle breeze whispering in the tree-tops, with an occasional squeak or groan of branches rubbing against each other. At Sandy Pond you always heard other sleds or music or airplanes...there was only complete silence there a couple hours after the BARS closed and the revelers passed out, just before the sun popped up. (Chuckle)

A couple of friends and classmates- - Chris Ouderkirk (aka "Ode") and Greg Yerdon (aka "Bronson"), lived in Greenboro. Today Chris is the Facilities Boss at SCCS, but I have no idea what Bronson is up to.

I remember Ode's Mom Shirley was a skillful deer hunter - much different than my Mom.

I remember there was a horrible accident right in front of Bronson's house one time - a head-on collision. There was death. Sorrow permeated the neighborhood for months afterward - a very young girl had died. If my memory serves me right her name was Gay Giddings. I still get a chill thinking about that...everybody was trying whatever they could do to save them just after it happened. It is a remote area and it took forever for the ambulance to arrive. Enough about that.

I also remember Bronson's baby brother was attacked and mauled by their family dog, a St. Bernard. His face got chewed up pretty bad. Very bizarre.

I learned some important life lessons in Greenboro:

  • Watching the old "HEE HAW" comedy show with good country folks is better than watching American Idol, CSI, and Andy Griffith simultaneously.

  • If anybody EVER puts you up to shooting a skunk with a deer rifle, make absolutely sure you miss it. If you hit it with a 30 caliber bullet it will explode stinky skunk juice all over the area and gag everybody for days afterward...I still don't know why it was to be shot. I aimed low and shrugged my shoulders while it fled. After that incident I had a reputation in Greenboro of being a poor shot. So what. Not sure how I could be a good shot anyway with a strange gun I had never fired before in a strange place aiming at something I would never eat...

  • I never want to witness a bull becoming a steer again. I was asked to help castrate a young bull being raised for beef, but ended up only watching the grisly procedure. I never went back THERE again - THAT guy deliberately scared the Bejesus out of me for his own reasons...which was uncalled for but funny when you think about it. I was just a young impressionable kid that was probably begging to be scared anyway.

  • NEVER agree to sleep in an unheated room during the winter months if you staying at a friend's house in Greenboro. You WILL freeze your frigging butt off - and you BETTER not complain the following morning, or you will be labeled as a PUPPY from Sandy Pond (which actually was pretty damn accurate in those days.)

I suppose I could ramble on but it would be interesting to only a very few people. I am surprised by the vivid nature of my memories there.

The Littlejohn Wildlife Management Area is in that area too. There was (is?) a tall fire-tower at Littlejohn to use to spot forest fires. Lightning tends to spark fires in the woods once in a while. I and some of my buddies used to go there back in the day and climb that tower for fun - I have old-school 8mm movies of that.

I hunted deer in the Greenboro area a few times with my Springfield 30-06, but all I ever could get in my sights was a disappearing white tail bounding away at an alarming rate. I'll admit I was a novice in these woods and I had a great deal of respect for the guys (and gals) who were successful in their deer hunting there. I prefer hunting ducks at Sandy Pond - - I was truly in my element there. Ducks are small targets traveling 60 mph - a tad bit more plentiful and challenging (and not as gross to gut and dress).
I noticed some kind of memorial stone posted in Greenboro just up the road from the old church. Perhaps that's relatively new. Amazingly, that old church across from Ode's old homestead is still standing. I wonder who takes care of it?

Some things never change and that's a good thing.

The light of the sunrise was incredible when I took the photos. The angles of the shadows enhanced the peacefulness of this place that I'll never... forget. Wish You were there...