Beanery Online Literary Magazine

January 31, 2013

Modern Ruins of a Museum

BEANERY ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE.

MODERN RUINS OF A MUSEUM

by Mark Sliwa

As a kid, I loved to blow stuff up. Gunpowder bombs to destroy my plastic model car collection or a Polish cannon that could shoot a hundred yards.  For those who may not remember, a Polish cannon was five or six Pepsi cans that had the ends cut out. Construction was possible as soda cans were made of metal with a reinforced steel ring at each end. All were duct-taped together to resemble a small bazooka.

The base can was left partially vented at the drinking end and had a pinhole punched in its bottom.  Ammunition was a tennis ball and propellant was lighter fluid.  To operate, we stuffed the ball down the tube with a stick, squirted fluid in the pinhole, lit a match to the hole, and boom! The kick felt like a 12 gauge shotgun as you watched the ball sail across the neighborhood.  I had the most powerful one in the neighborhood until my mother captured it and proceeded to crush it with dad’s workbench vise.

It is no surprise then that a place called Forbes Road Gun Museum held great interest for me as an early teen.  Located in Ligonier Township, Pennsylvania, at the top of Gravel Hill Road, it was a small brick two story Smithsonian of guns, some dating over 500 years. A field artillery cannon sat on the front lawn, commanding respect before one entered. The first floor served as a gunsmith shop and the second as the museum.  An elderly man named Russell Payne was the owner and seemed to know (more…)

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July 13, 2011

Pinto Man

BEANERY ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE

PINTO MAN

Mark Sliwa

     The television and VCR were on the blink. I’m a firm believer of selling things while they still work or move. A newspaper ad and I was $700 richer. 

     Three newspaper days later my brother, Brian, said, “Hey, look at this. A 1977 Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV. And it’s only $700.” 

     God forbid keeping that money in my pocket. At the time, my brother and I shared an apartment in Raleigh, North Carolina and the vehicle for sale was only one town away. Being a mechanic, he convinced me to take a look.

     One should always be wary of vintage Italian cars. Remember what Fiat stands for: (more…)

July 6, 2011

A Beanery Writers Group Homage to Bob Sanzi

BEANERY ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE

A BEANERY WRITERS GROUP HOMAGE TO BOB SANZI

Beanery Writers Group

I looked for your car when I arrived at the June 24, 2010, Beanery Writers Meeting.

            I hadn’t heard…You were gone.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

     Bob, you left too soon. Some of us needed to learn more from you. It’s hard to believe that you only joined us on June 12, 2010. At your last meeting, June 10, 2011, you were so excited about the new car Nancy bought and allowed you to drive to the meeting.

      We all heard your gruff, commanding, voice, and experienced your unique bombastic manner, at the first Beanery Writers Group meetings you attended. Some of us questioned whether we could tolerate you. You were opinionated, certain you were right, and felt you had to talk and talk and talk to push your point, even after everyone had “gotten it.” You were so certain you were right.

     Your identity was enmeshed in cars—you were quite animated and willing to share a multitude of car stories. After all, you were a car guy who even amused us by turning a prompt on the Kentucky Derby into a car piece. You didn’t seem to understand that (more…)

July 4, 2011

Red, White and Blue Dreams

BEANERY ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE

RED, WHITE AND BLUE DREAMS

Diana Reh Hunt

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Red, white and blue dreams

born in sandbox games,

rocked to stars ‘n stripes lullabies

in cradles of freedoms to come.

Young hopes fly high on tire swings

when the dreamers’ smiles outshine the sun.

 

Red, white and blue dreams

come from family farm to (more…)

July 2, 2011

Tourism in Brownsville, Pennsylvania

BEANERY ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE

TOURISM IN BROWNSVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA

Mark Sliwa

NOTE: This event occurred in 2000.

     The plain white flyer came in the mail, folded twice and secured by a staple. It was an invitation to the Western Pennsylvania Machine Gun Association’s spring shoot. $5.00 admission and they’d have hotdogs and Pepsi too. Reservations required. I made the phone call and signed up for two thinking this would be a great lunch date for my girlfriend.

     Brownsville, Pennsylvania, was the site for this festival. Sadly, it is a city that has long been in the dire straits of a poor economy. Getting off the highway and into downtown, plywood panels cover many windows on Main Street’s business district. Destitute figures lean in shady doorways. The architecture itself still inspires. Before the collapse of the steel industry this must have been a vibrant place. Time does march on though and some places don’t keep step.

     The flyer’s directions said go south down Main Street, then at the edge of town go three clicks further, and make a left on an unmarked dirt road. It looked like we were headed straight into a DMZ. The dirt road was there and pulling out of the entrance was rural America’s staff car of choice: the ratty old pickup truck. Two sketchy looking occupants were in the cab; local security I assumed. A metal tag adorned the truck’s grill: Western Pennsylvania Machine Gun Association. They must be (more…)

June 15, 2011

What Happened To Old-Fashioned Love?

BEANERY ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE

WHAT HAPPENED TO OLD-FASHIONED LOVE?

Fran Welts

     I’m reminded of the song by that title when having a conversation with a woman I’ll call Jane. We met at a cancer center in Pittsburgh. Our situations made both of us tired, just going along, but still enjoying the good times wherever we find them.
     As we waited in a very crowded room, she asked me why I was there. She told me how she had remarried at age seventy-three years old, just six months ago, after a long forty-five year marriage to her first husband. Joe, her husband now, had also had a long first marriage. They believed in marriage so after a short courtship, they wed.
     At this point there were several heads turning in our direction, many of them young—or young to us!! They had laptops, I-phones, I-pads, and whatever else is new and modern, and were busy typing or texting. But they paused long enough to listen. Like all of us, it’s human nature to listen when someone is telling a story.
     Jane explained that sixty-three days after they married Joe was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw and throat. He underwent removal of his lower jaw, and needed a trachea to breathe and a feeding tube to eat. He cannot close his mouth and he cannot speak.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

     Around the waiting room you could see (more…)

June 8, 2011

The Sunshine State

BEANERY ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE

THE SUNSHINE STATE

Mark

     Through the dark night, cement highway strips marked time with a rhythmic clump-clump. Stuffed near the back of the bus in an odorous sea of musty upholstery and unwashed humanity came one thought: Go Greyhound! I made the mental note of the $15 remaining in my wallet as we crossed the Florida state line as I curled up in my seat. For further comfort, a small portable radio pressed closer to the ear.

     Two months earlier, in snow-bound Pennsylvania, I had attended a college job fair. Recruiters from Disney World Orlando were there and a paid gig in sunny Florida didn’t sound like a bad idea. They promised an intern sales host position plus lodging for a six month term.

     My new home was Snow White Village. We new-hires got to reside in a park of fourty-eight trailers, fenced into a tidy rectangle. Each trailer’s walls were (more…)

May 21, 2011

Let’s Get Dirty

BEANERY ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE

LET’S GET DIRTY

Sally Martin

     In our long years of competitions, Chas and I have amassed bushels of tee shirts. The most prized of these trophies is the pair that extols the virtues of playing in the mud. 

     We had run in cross country meets at Schenley Park in Pittsburgh, a lovely run. Cross country has ambiance. You run through fields and forests, it can be a jog in the woods.  We found one in Ebensburg and at that very simple run through fields and forests we found an ad for Lets Get Dirty at Slippery Rock State College (now University). When we arrived at the college, there was a trek through parking lots to a small ski hut building on the edge of a creek. Not Slippery Rock Creek, thank goodness.

        The participants were mostly a few of us sane adults and many wildly enthusiastic students. There were about six hundred who showed up to either laugh or compete. There were clowns, a group in kilts, and other groups in unusual but matching outfits that defied description.  

     Runners have things called “Fun Runs” but running is rarely fun.  Well, the one in Regent Square through Frick Park is pretty and tries hard with jazz bands and champagne.  But  Let’s Get Dirty was truly a producer of whoops, cheers, giggles, guffaws, and more cheers.

     But first, there was a run for the serious: it showed really good runners competing over the quite questionable course so we could see where they went and therefore opt in or out of the madness. The winners got precious few cheers. The crowd was waiting for us “Fun Run” types.

      The experienced participants had special preparation: duct tape.  

     Their shoes, not necessarily running shoes, were duct taped to (more…)

May 18, 2011

Vernal Full Moon Rising

BEANERY ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE

VERNAL FULL MOON RISING

Kathie Buchanan

March 19th, 2011, was a very special holiday. 

The moon rose to break night into day in equal proportions.

The evening was celebrated with like-minded loved ones.

Some consider a holiday such as this “Pagan”, but the Vernal Equinox has been celebrated for thousands of years by millions of people worldwide.

We give thanks as we usher in Spring. 

We pray for the new beginnings that Spring promises.

We reflect on our own pre-birth, and development in our mother’s womb,

and our journey…Where we are right now. 

We use corn, fire, tobacco, water, a crystal, a sacred pipe, song, dance, drums.

We use the symbols of the Four Directions, each with a color that represents the

Spiritual Paths. Red in the East, Yellow in the South, Black in (more…)

May 11, 2011

The Ghostly Hoosac Tunnel

BEANERY ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE

THE GHOSTLY HOOSAC TUNNEL

Kathleen Clark

“This ride into the tunnel is far from being a cheerful one. The fitful glare of the lamps upon the walls of the dripping cavern – the frightful noises that echo from the low roof, and the ghoul-like voices of the miners coming out of the gloom ahead, are not what would be called enlivening.” —The Hoosac Tunnel, Scribner’s, December 1870

     The ridges of the Berkshire Mountains, located in the Deerfield Valley, stretch across western Massachusetts. The Hoosac Tunnel located in North Adams and known as “the Bloody Pit,” winds through the mountain base. I was fascinated by the many first-hand accounts of ghostly hauntings that surround the tunnel‘s construction. It provided a difficult and troubled challenge to the men who worked it.     
     Almost every tunnel bored through the mountains during the early 19th century posed problems particular to its location. Starting at the East Portal side, barely ten feet into the proposed Hoosac route, the specially made seventy-ton steam-driven boring machine cut a perfect hole . . . then stopped forever. The workers resorted to hand-drills and gunpowder, but couldn’t exceed sixty feet a month on either end of the tunnel. Boring on the West Portal side, drills hit soft rock, mica schist and water resulting in a soupy mixture referred to as “porridge” and prevented further penetration.    
     Thus a second tunnel was begun immediately to the right of the abandoned tunnel, using the new compressed-air Burleigh Drill invented by Charles Burleigh of Fitchburg, Massachusetts. This four drill contraption that could be pulled along the tracks as the men worked, in tandem with the introduction of Nitroglycerine explosives, finally resulted in the tunnel’s completion in 1875. Although only 4.82 miles long, the Hoosac took an unprecedented (more…)

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