Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Thought I might as well send some photos of today’s Memorial Day parade here in Downtown Pottsville. It was more or less the same as the two previous years with the Veterans of course, the college bands, the Winter Beauty Queen and we mustn’t forget the fire trucks must we!

It was a perfect day, not humid and around 83F with brilliant sunshine, there were a lot more people then previous years and after the parade there was the memorial part of the ceremonies where the names of Pottsville residents who died in all wars was read out. This included casualties of the Civil War, 150 years ago right up to Iraq and Afghanistan. Last night there was a most impressive Memorial concert from Washington, yes here they recognise the Veterans to a far greater extent then in the UK.

Anyway, it’s back to normal tomorrow, I’m not to clear as to when the next holiday weekend will be, but it can’t be too long as there are far more of them over here

Until next time,

Henry Dallimore

Friday, May 22, 2009


Just a short one this time, I wanted to send you this photo of a school ‘bus showing the hinged “STOP” sign. It was parked opposite this morning as Memorial Weekend is coming up, and, just like last year, four of the big ‘buses arrived at the cemetery with around two hundred school kids who replaced all the flags left last year on the graves of the Veterans. I went over and spoke to the Veterans who were supervising, I reflected that I was just a youngster to them despite getting to 73 next week, but they were interested in my tales of living in London during the blitz, especially an ex-USAAF gunner who said he had often wondered what it was like to be on the ground!

Well that’s all for now, hope you all have a good holiday weekend without too much of the wet stuff, we are forecast to have temperatures in the eighties but with a chance of late afternoon thunderstorms.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Well at last the wind chimes are chiming away and the colorful windsocks flying in the wind on the porch. Of course they were in the largest box in the cellar at the bottom of a pile of similarly sized boxes containing the Halloween and Christmas decorations, yet another example of the Law of Common Perversity!

In this letter I’m going to discuss some rather mundane subjects such as rubbish collection and school ‘buses. Here the binmen are not nearly so fussy over what they have to collect. Each Monday evening I put the week’s trash out kerbside, we do not have any seagulls or similar creatures to investigate the contents of the bags. And they can be any sort as well as black, anything gets collected even to the extent that the Christmas trees went with that week’s collection. There is no sorting at source here, rather disappointing I think, all the week’s newspapers go in the bags along with glass and tin cans. I gather that this is done at the tip. Still it is a reliable, efficient service which the City offers It’s taxpayers.

I expect everyone is familiar with the big yellow school buses which operate here, they have been seen in films and comic books. But there are some aspects of which I was not aware. When the ‘bus stops to either collect or set down the hazard lights are on and a “STOP” sign hinged out from the offside (left of course). So long as this is displayed all traffic in both directions is obliged to stop; in addition an horizontal post swings out in front and along the axis of the ‘bus. This is about three feet in length and the idea is to prevent anyone crossing in front where, due to the bonnet length, they could be hidden from the view of the driver. The ‘bus drops the kids off at fixed points where there is a school crossing patrol to ensure safety and where parents can park up and collect their offspring. The crossing patrols have short handled hexagonal “STOP” signs unlike UK “Lollipops”. So there is a little more to the ubiquitous yellow ‘buses than first meets the eye.

Next weekend is the first holiday weekend here - Memorial Day during which the veterans are honored. There is a parade down the road at Garfield Square of practically any organization in the City, as well as the old soldiers there are school marching bands, boy and girl scouts, cadets and of course pretty much all the local fire trucks (well, it wouldn’t be the same without them would it?). It is a family tradition that we go to Bobby’s on the Saturday for a cookout. The weather forecast is good with temperatures upper 70’s/lower 80’s (average temperature for late May is 74). So, unless we catch a rogue thunderstorm, it should be a good day out. Bobby lives around an hour away to the west and has a lovely bungalow set in what I would call a mini-ranch.

Apart from that nothing much happening, we have had to abandon the trip to NYC and my old school annual dinner due to expense which came, as usual, in threes - car, water heater and washing machine! Still there is always next year.

Talking about language differences, I was going to go shopping the other day and Joanie told me to add “Soap Dish” to the list. I replied that we had about four up in the bathroom. After a somewhat lengthy discussion it transpired that what was wanted was washing up liquid! Yes it is true to say that England and America are friends divided by a common language!

Until next time,



Tuesday, May 5, 2009


There are one or two things that I don’t think have I mentioned which may surprise you.

Funerals are treated with far greater respect that in Britain. When you arrive at the church, a member of the Funeral Director’s staff (called Morticians here) places a magmount flag on your car. This means that the car is not contravening any parking regulations whilst you are in the church, and when the party leaves, the resulting convoy has priority at all junctions, including red lights so long as the hazard flashers are on. Round here the usual procedure is for a service in the city church followed by a drive outside city limits to the appropriate cemetery where a short farewell service is held. It is not customary to stand at the graveside whilst the new occupant is lowered in. The coffin is left in the cemetery chapel to be interred later while the mourners go off for a meal together.

On Sundays certain streets in the City have temporary one-way regulations so as to facilitate parking for churchgoers. There are about three very large churches here and you have to be alert if out and about on Sunday mornings. As you can imagine, as America’s founding was based, among other things, on freedom of worship, there is a very high church/population ratio. Churches are exempt from property taxes; recently the Catholic Diocese closed quite a number of churches in order to save money, now the local authorities are demanding property taxes on the buildings as they are no longer exempt! That caused quite a major upset which hasn’t yet been resolved!

Another big difference is in the appointing of public officers, except here they are not appointed but voted for. Take for instance the post of coroner, in the UK the post is advertised, interviews held and the successful candidate appointed. Over here the coroner is appointed by a ballot of the citizens as are other posts such as chief of police, fire chief, judge, sheriff, mayor etc etc. The polling day for this mass of dignitaries is due around the middle of this month.

I still think Obama is doing a good job, but as I have already said I am the only member of the family who thinks so - so I keep stum!!

This time last week the temperature was 93F, today it is 54 and has been raining almost non stop for two days. Still we need it as we are about four inches short so far this year, not quite as May should be, but we hope for better times. Anyway, the flags are flying out front, the carpet is back down in the porch, the cushions are on the seats and the wind chimes are merrily chiming away (that is they will be as soon as one of us can remember in which box in the basement they were put last autumn!)

By the way, I have just remembered another little oddity here in Pennsylvania. On the open road if a vehicle is traveling at less than 40mph they are obliged to turn on the hazard flashers. This is not a federal law, just peculiar to Pa. Usually you would see this on a truck on an uphill grade.

Until next time