I am very fortunate to have access to a large collection of old time slides. Some years ago, my wife inherited the collection from the estate of Joseph LaClair.
Joe and his wife Aggie lived in Altoona in a house located behind my wife’s grand parents. While they were not truly related, my wife and her siblings spent a great deal of time with them. They went on vacations to the shore together and shared trips to the cottage. Joe and Aggie came to treat my wife, her sister and brother as their own grandchildren.
There are hundreds if not thousands of old time slides in the collection. I have not had an opportunity to view all of them yet, but I have seen some that were taken at the cottage. Here are a few from the early 1970’s.
This is the story of the destruction of the “Old Metal Shed” and the construction of the “New Shed”.
Way back in August of 1994 there was a tropical depression named Beryl. In Pennsylvania, specifically Lewistown, it caused some heavy rains and tropical depression winds. For those readers who may not know, the name of the man who built the Cot-Taj-Mahal was Vryl. As you will note, Vryl rhymes with Beryl and both names are rather uncommon. More on that later.
As the story goes, Dorthy Liebegott, a.k.a. Grammy was present at the Cot-Taj-Mahal when the storm hit. As she described it to me, “It sounded like a freight train was coming and then a tornado touched down in the back yard and knocked over a bunch of trees that fell on the old metal shed.”
Well, since the Cot-Taj-Mahal is literally a stones throw away from the railroad tracks, I have no doubt that Grammy may have heard a fright train. It was probably coming down the tracks “draggin a wheel!”
Since Vryl rhymes with Beryl could it have been Pap Liebegott was reaching back from the other side to try and tell someone to get rid of the hunk a junk old metal shed and do an upgrade? Are the rhyming names just coincidence or did he Wizard of Oz the old metal shed? I guess we will never know.
What we do know is the fact that a bunch of trees did fall on the “Old Metal Shed” and some handsome young dude did in fact build a “New Shed”. Here are some images from the vault straight outta the Land Before Time.
Old Metal Shed Destruction
New Shed Construction
The following images and text appeared in my daughter’s Tyler School of Art, Bachelor of Fine Art Thesis Exhibition circa 2005. It’s a tribute to Dorthy and Bonnie Liebegott, may they rest in piece.
My Dad told me that the women on my Mother’s side of the family are crazy and that I will be like them one day too.
But I don’t think that when I am older I will worry constantly like my Mom or send my family gifts with notes written in broken English like Fanny did.
And I don’t think that I will sit in one of the blue chairs at the cottage and drink a coffee cup full of Budweiser before bedtime like Gram used to do either…
I called my grandmother Fanny and my great grandmother Gram.
When I was two or three years old, I overheard my parents yelling for my grandmother, whose name is Bonnie… I thought they were saying “Fanny”. The name somehow stuck because everyone thought it was funny.
The camouflage curtains at the cottage used to give me nightmares as a kid because I imagined seeing monsters in the pattern.
Apparently Gram spent a lot of time in her sewing room making the curtains, which is very unfortunate because they have haunted at least two generations of children since she made them…
I guess that’s why we keep the cottage the way she had it before she passed.
My dad calls it “The Land Before Time”.
Fanny insisted on driving a classic Ford Wagoneer instead of her brand new Jeep.
She also had a cell phone that she is afraid of “wracking up” the bill on.
In fact, she didn’t even use the cell phone one Christmas when she got majorly lost on her way home from our house. She drove two hours in the wrong direction on the turnpike before getting off at the Valley Forge exit to use a pay phone.
I absolutely despise the plastic owl that sits on the porch steps at the cottage.
It is a movement-triggered lawn novelty that makes this wailing hooting death noise at you if you walk in front of it.
“It’s my watch owl”. She told us once. “Warns me if anyone is coming.”
At the end of the summer my parents used to take trips to the cottage to help Fanny rake leaves.
This always involved lugging those crappy old baby pools out of the shed and dragging them around the lawn all day.
Fanny used to say; “Boy…He must be whipped”instead of; “He’s tired”.
It was really annoying.
So was Fanny’s friend Walter.
One time Walter tried to convince us that the football player on his match book was his son.
We miss you Grammy and Fanny!