Flags of my Father, a New Daughter, and a Big, Burning Jesus

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Flag Day has always represented a weird little holiday for me. As the son of a World War II veteran, my childhood was filled with images of my dad literally marching to the front of the house in the early morning hours of June 14th, cigarette dangling from his mouth, to hoist the American flag up on pole dangling from the side of our house. He’d pause for a moment, and then retire to the back deck, where, the night before, he had left an empty 2-liter soda bottle. Reaching behind one of my mother’s many potted plants, he would produce several old, waterlogged bottle rockets he’d bought from “Da Guy” (fireworks being illegal in New York). He’d jam a couple of the rockets into the 2-liter bottle, letting the fuse hang off the outside, and then use the tip of another freshly-lit cigarette to light them all at once.  The bottle rockets would all sputter and smoke as they hopped around in a pathetic attempt to escape the bottle. Most simply flopped onto the deck and burst into flames or else fizzled out. Once in a while, a lucky one would escape and fly into the bright morning sun, exploding in a cloudy grey mass. That was the extent of my dad’s Flag Day celebration. And every year, I would watch him, if only to hope that none of them escaped the bottle and instead caught the deck on fire. Those were the ones that seemed to make my dad the happiest.

As my father grew older, he stopped hanging his flag out. But he taught me to respect it. There were numerous occasions, funny now but not at the time, when my 80-year-old father was inches away from, in his words, “kick da s**t outta some horse’s a**” who had refused to stand up or take his hat off during the Star-Spangled Banner at sporting events. During those years, I’d have to say that it was hard for me to see an American flag anywhere and not smile. That was because those stars and stripes immediately conjured up images of my dad, fists raised old-school style like the Notre Dame leprechaun, challenging some disrespectful guy to a fight over Old Glory.

My dad, who golfed well into his 70s. Note his "USS Missouri" hat.

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Strange & Spooky Blog: The Return

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I don’t know about you, but one of my biggest pet peeves about subscribing to someone’s blog is when they can’t be bothered to keep it somewhat updated. Can get kind of depressing when you continually pop over to read a blog only to find the same ol’ stuff there. It’s kind of like you just start dating someone and then they stop returning your phone calls. So you keep checking your voicemail for a message. You never find one, though.

What in God’s name am I rambling on about? Well, put it this way; I feel that since I haven’t updated this blog in a while, I have let some of you down who have taken the time to subscribe to it. So I just wanted to let you all know that I’ve been in your shoes and I know what it feels like to have a blog abandon you. But I’m back now…and I’m not going away any time soon!

Truth be told, while I was still plugging away on my labor of love (and inspiration for this blog), The Ghosts of Ohio book, I was also writing another book, Haunted Indiana. That book ended up having to be in the editor’s hands on May 31st. So I spent a lot of sleepless nights making sure I had everything wrapped up by then. Of course, being a new dad put a new wrinkle into my usual MO of “stay up for 72 hours straight and polish it off.” But I plodded on and the editor is now happily reviewing my manuscript. And I’ve come away from the experience with a brand-new appreciation for the fine art of Fatherhood, as well as a modified way of going about writing my books.

What does this all mean for you, my devoted readers? Well, thanks to the fact that I use of reams of paper during my research (yes, I still put actual pen to paper when I write), so all of my escapades have been well documented. Which means I just need to get back in gear and do some catching up with my blog!

In other words, there’s going to be a lot more updates and new stuff popping up here more often, even if it means keeping my rambling down to a minimum until I get a bit more caught up. But no worries; there will be plenty of stuff to read and look at, especially since the Strange & Spooky Museum got a lot bigger in the past few months, too! And as crazy as it may seem, my October is already fully booked with presentations and appearances across the state, all of which I will be chronicling right on this very blog.

So hang in there! And if you haven’t yet subscribed to my blog, why don’t you go ahead and do it now? It will let you know when new stuff pops up on here and it’s as simply as clicking the “sign me up” button near the bottom left of this page. New posts get announced on Facebook and Twitter, too, so feel free to stalk me there, too.