in my humble opinion

On the road again, again

By JONATHAN CHARLES FOX
Posted 7/8/20

Why “again, again” you ask? I’ll tell you. I’ve been writing this In My Humble Opinion thing for a while now. About 20 years, in fact, and for 12 of them, it’s been …

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in my humble opinion

On the road again, again

Posted

Why “again, again” you ask? I’ll tell you. I’ve been writing this In My Humble Opinion thing for a while now. About 20 years, in fact, and for 12 of them, it’s been right here in the pages of the award-winning River Reporter. That’s a lot of column titles (more than a thousand all told) and a lot (don’t ask me to count) of words. In point of fact, according to the Oxford English dictionary (aka my bible), there are approximately 170,000 commonly used English language words in play at any given time and another 200,000 or so that are bandied about, but many of those are considered arcane. In addition, new words are added to dictionaries yearly, including dumb (IMHO) ones like deepfake, truthiness and duckface. Uh huh.

One of the pitfalls of typing incessantly (I mean being clever, witty and urbane) for decades is the risk of being repetitive, and I’m pretty sure that I’ve used my share of 170,000 words, sprinkled with more than a few of the arcane (look it up!) over the years.

 For the first time in months, Dharma and I actually attended a few events last week, employing safety protocols wherever we roamed. We both had the opportunity to interact with others (from a distance, of course) and I drove over the river and through the woods in search of human contact as the Wonder Dog stuck her head out the window (no letters, please—she’s fine) thrilled to be (you guessed it) on the road again.

Our first destination was the Kauneonga Lake Farmers’ Market (held Saturdays through September 5) where we ran into some old friends, and actually made some new ones, all the while remaining more than six feet apart, wearing masks. Each of the farmers’ markets in both New York and Pennsylvania have ties that bind, but also retain a unique flavor, often featuring farms I would otherwise be oblivious to. Last Saturday, I discovered Buff Meadows Farms (offering seasonal vegetables, herbs and plants) and met Eugene and LeeAnna from Sprouting Dreams Farm, who cultivate organic vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. “Remind me to look up the words shishito and chard when we get home,” I whispered to the dog when no one was looking. “And microgreens,” I added, seeing it on the farm’s menu of items. “Is that one of them newfangled words?” I wondered, thinking myself incredibly witty. I snapped a photo of the aforementioned menu, fearing that Dharma would neglect to remind me, and bid adieu to our newfound friends and farmers.

With images of classic cars swimming through my head, I let Dharma take the wheel, because… well, my dog loves to drive. She headed south towards Barryville and got us safely across the Delaware before scooting aside for me to take over, whining that her “arms were tired.” Personally, I suspect she didn’t know where we were going until I pulled up to the Artists’ Market Community Center (AMCC) in Shohola, PA, which is sponsored by the Barryville Arts Association and dedicated to offering art exhibits, special events, classes and concerts.

AMCC host Nick Roes was outside directing traffic as folks arrived in socially-distanced droves for the center’s “Fourth of July Celebration of Vintage Vehicles,” featuring classic car buff and guest speaker David “Scotty” Greenberg, slated to host a Q&A later that day. Greenberg’s pride and joy, a stunning 1955 Sunbeam Alpine MKIII, is “only one of 21 in the entire world.” While I snapped photos, he told me that he’s had it since 1959. “It was four years old when I got it. And that one,” he said as he nodded at his magnificent 1957 Cadillac parked nearby, “took 17 years to restore. Each one is a slice of history,” he said beaming. “Personal history and national history.”

Greenberg’s cars (and several other really keen vehicles) were gorgeous, but the auto that really caught my eye was Craig Smith’s 1966 Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe, which looked like it had been around the block a few times. “I bought it on eBay,” Smith told me, “from a ranch in Bismarck, North Dakota.” The car had no engine or transmission when Smith acquired it, and like most vintage auto enthusiasts, Craig did all of the restorations himself. “Tell him about the glove compartment,” artist Susan Miiller chimed in. “This car has a story to tell.”

Nodding enthusiastically, Smith informed me that there was “no key for the glovebox” when he got the car that had not been on the road since 1976. The contents “are like a time capsule” he said, showing me a commemorative Bicentennial pen, some old “funny pages” from the newspaper of its day, tattered matchbooks and a (clearly used) napkin from the 1975 wedding of a couple named Lisa and Gerald.

“Oh, there’s definitely a story here,” I said, thinking myself clever at the prospect of searching online for the happy couple, who might be surprised to learn that Smith has one of their 45-year-old napkins that may or may not have Lisa’s lipstick on it. It could be marinara sauce—it’s sorta hard to tell.

“There are several other things that were in the Impala,” Susan chimed in. “You’ll have to come over and check it out. And I can show you some of my work (www.susanmiillerart.com) while our dogs all get acquainted.” Urging the two to “remind me, I’ll forget,” I took my leave, anxious to take off the darned mask, while pleased that everyone had followed the center’s guidelines for the event.

Dharma looked sleepy after all of the excitement, so I opted to drive home with column titles percolating in my brain. Once there, I sat down at the computer and typed the words “On the road again” together with the “River Reporter,” and sure enough, a column with my name attached popped up. Apparently I wrote one with the same title in 2012, and another as recently as 2019. Thinking myself quite urbane, I began typing once more.“On the road again, again,” I wrote. And here we are.

Fun Fact: Standard historical license plates begin or end with the letters “HX” (for cars and trucks), or “HM” (for motorcycles). However, both types of plates can be personalized for an additional fee. All standard and personalized historical plates have the word “HISTORICAL” printed at the bottom of the plate.

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