Friday, August 26, 2016


One of the best ways to wake up.
Full disclosure: I've never really owned a dog.

That's largely true. My mom briefly owned one after my dad died. My niece, Laura, brought two dogs when she moved in with me for a stretch in 2009-10. She brought Grim (fairly bratty little thing that still freaks out Sean at the mention of his name) and Roxy.

Roxy. In my lifetime, I can think of two dogs who have ever had such an impact. Not to say there aren't other dogs I adore (cousin Kris and wife Lori have Bailey, who is super cool, for instance), but Roxy and my dearly-departed friend Scrappy (he of the Harold/Tracy/Cameron/Katie household) are the two.

I wrote about Scrappy once. We (and I'm not part of their family, but I feel comfortable saying "we" when it comes to Scrappitydoo) lost the sweetest corgi in 2011. Hard to explain, since I was just a visitor, but man we had a friendship. That dog was always thrilled to see me, and vice versa. I'd think "nah, just a coincidence," but I realized I had to give myself a little credit. He always had to show me the toys and then play with me, and god forbid if I didn't. The barking would commence. He'd flop right down on his side for me to pet him every time.

Roxy, as she lived with me, is a whole different story. Sean and I have a running gag, that when we go to Fayetteville to visit her (oh yeah, and our human family also), she'll bark furiously at us, the realize who she's barking at.

"Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! Oh, it's you."
"America's Dog," Roxy
Roxy has visited us for sleepovers and hogged the bed and faithfully snuggled, and laid on my feet as I worked, and walked and peed and pooped and barked and played and done a whole lot of dog activities.

We once made up a breed for her when someone asked: A Red Heeler Hippadooda. OK, Red Heeler's are real. Hippadooda's aren't.

Then there's Harry The Wonder Dog (The Wonder Dog part is mine, trademark circa 2014) who died (we're journalists, so passed away is a short story in our world) late last year. He's still very much missed by his family.

I only knew him by his bark, but he was a faithful, adorable dog.

So whether it's Mason, Max, Diggy, Daisy, Elmo, Gracie, or some other four-legged canine pal, Happy National Dog Day. A little extra Chuck Wagon is yours tonight.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Moment of Bliss

North on I-95, preparing to cross the James into Richmond (My photo)
The photo above likely means nothing to you, unless you're a road nut.

To me, it represents sheer joy.

Let me explain.

We began the rather arduous drive home at the back end of another fun and fabulous time in Fayetteville (and Raleigh), North Carolina on Sunday. We left Raleigh at 7:30 that morning, with the stated goal of trying to reach Fishkill, NY by 6:00 to drop Sean off. My son, rising freshman, needed to be at Orientation at John Jay High School the following morning.

We coasted over to a Sheetz in Rocky Mount, NC for a break before hitting I-95. I promised Sean that this would be a long stretch without a break, though I tend to stick to breaking after approximately three hours. Yet I got on a roll, and had every intention of steamrolling past Washington, DC.

I did. We didn't stop until we hit Gettysburg, PA* on US 15 roughly four and a half hours later. Only the need for food and gasoline stopped me.

* Incidentally, we also stopped at Sheetz in Gettysburg for sandwiches. Don't get me wrong -- Sheetz is just fine and dandy -- but Wawa wins by a landslide.

North of Gettysburg (I took US 15 to get away from the coast and the beach bums heading home on Sunday), the ride became a quagmire of rain and slow cars. What looked like a possible 9.5 hour drive became 12.5 hours. I got Sean home just before 7:30 that night.

But back to the picture. My affection for Richmond, Virginia is quite obvious if you've read Exit 55 since the beginning. One of my closest friends, the great Jon (and Rebecca and their amazing daughters) live there, as do a few other friends. It's why I've long-considered it a place I would move to if the chance arose. It's comfortable.
Getting closer to the James River Bridge, with RVA in the background (My photo)
So now take that and add in the view beyond that sign. Crossing the James into downtown Richmond is truly one of my favorite entrances into any city. While it doesn't beat the WOW moment of emerging from the Fort Pitt Tunnel in Pittsburgh, there is something magnificent about how the city of Richmond just sits right in front of you.

Now cue the music. I still enjoy turning the dial to hear what local radio plays, and was doing just that when I found one of RVA's classic rock channels. While a lot of the usual stuff played, it was the sounds of "Come Together" by The Beatles that made this moment complete. It was the right groove for my 70 MPH drive through a favorite city, thinking about the friends I have there.

It was bliss.

That's rare.

(One last note: my road photos were used on a web page. Go here to see the work that Robert Malme put into making my pics of the Fayetteville Outer Loop look good.)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Fayetteville Market House - Then and Now

My thirst for history got me looking around he interwebs this morning, since it's only nephew-in-law Hector and I sitting at the kitchen table in Fayetteville while everyone else sleeps.

We went downtown yesterday to have a look at their Transportation and Local History Museum (the potential for road geeking -- and train geeking for Sean) was too much to pass up.

Well it wasn't entirely that, but it is still a museum that it is worth your time and effort (it's a quick visit). The people are wonderful and full of information, and the price is...well...perfect: free.

As we walked, I kept reading references to the Market House, and came to understand that the building -- where Hay, Gillespie, Person and Green Streets come together -- also played a little role in road lore.

Indeed, this was once the intersection of US 15A (since deleted) and US 301 (since moved). So I trolled around online and came up with this image from NCSU Libraries:

Business-bannered US 301 shield at right (NCSU Library)
They're marking that picture as "circa 1955," but I don't think I agree, given the US 301 sign and some of the cars in the picture, but I suppose it's possible. I'll leave that to those smarter than I.

Anyway, it seemed nobody else in my traveling party took note of the references to the Market House, so after we left, I decided to drive around downtown Fayetteville. Sure enough -- and it didn't take long -- I found it.

Fayetteville Market House, 2016 (My photo)
Before we wrap up, here are a few other nuggets from our visit to the Transportation Museum. I found an old white North Carolina guide sign hanging in a window.

I turned the camera so it would look right on in the picture.

An old street sign blade.
Incidentally, the kind man in the museum couldn't answer Hector's question about when stop signs switched from yellow to red. I didn't have the exact answer (the gentleman mumbled something about "local laws" or something), but Richard C. Moeur's Manual of Traffic Signs has the answer (1954).
Pretty cool yellow STOP sign, pre-1954.
And a license plate with "55" in it. Just. Because.

Anyway, give Fayetteville some love, for a variety of reasons. Cool downtown museums (with minor league baseball on the way as early as next year, so I hear, per the Fayetteville Observer), Fort Bragg, some shopping, restaurants, and more. I've come to really like it here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Exit 55 at 10

This is my place in Blogland, but this sign is from Robbie's in North Carolina.

So here we are. We've done 2241 posts over 10 years, with this being number 2242. It seems like just yesterday we began with a post about the beginning of the long goodbye to Yankee Stadium.

That was 10 years ago today: August 17, 2006.

We've talked about rubber bands, Paul McCartney (even if we weren't really talking about Macca), an ode to baseball, and had a drink at the Yankees Saloon.

We've talked about love. Life. Football. Politics. Roads. Music. Movies. Broadcasting. Vin (just Vin).

We've done a lot, yet I never felt like I've done enough. But I'm glad I've continued doing it.

It didn't make me famous. It never had a huge readership. But we made friends (Hi, Tim! Hi, Paul!) and enhanced other friendships.

We also ticked a few people off.

My life has changed immeasurably from that day. I'd love to go smack my 37 year-old self in the head but we can't change things, so why think about it?

Only one post hasn't been published, and still sits in my "draft" folder. A few others -- maybe 10 -- got deleted before I ever published them.

Too many stories. Too many memories.

I hope I'm a better writer than I was 10 years ago. I hope I'm a better person than I was 10 years ago.

I hope I'm a better father, friend, son, brother, uncle, and more.

I, like this blog, will always be a work in progress.

We've done this for 10 years, and I've mostly loved it.

I've wanted to open doors to conversations. Debates were always welcome, and still are.

I've felt nearly every emotion imaginable over the past decade. I pondered hanging the going out of business banner when I reached today. But there are still stories to tell and, as I type this from my nieces' house in North Carolina, I feel reenergized.

Thank you for reading and supporting. It's truly an honor.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Blog Best: Oniontown and the Big "Hit"-ters

It's right off NY Route 22, and they're content to be left alone.
It's the most-read post in the history of this effort. Posted on July 5, 2008, I examined a small enclave of Dover, NY called Oniontown. Sadly, a few idiots from my own hometown decided to go for a joyride in there and folks weren't too pleased.

I've long been content to let the town (and their residents simply be), but I did write the post, and indeed, Google "Oniontown" and there it is, just a few notes from the top. It continues to get hits everyday.

So there's that.

Incidentally, this piece from Vice referred to Mahopac as "wealthy." Huh. If that's the case, I've really been doing this wrong for a long time. A little research goes a long way.

Anyway, local radio station WRKI, "I-95" (no, Interstate 95 goes nowhere near it) did a bit on it, and there's a video embedded in there, so have at it. I'm sure they'll like the clicks.

Other posts that got the most hits were...

Basketball on TV (which was about my joining Tom Prizeman to call some hoops on local TV in Pleasantville, NY)

Red Barber and Harry Caray in the Same Post! (which, in my opinion, shouldn't happen)

Linda Cohn Plays Captain Obvious For Us (for the record, I like Linda a lot. We watched hockey together at Yankee Stadium)

Diane Schuler: The Continued Outrage (a story that still confounds and outrages. A story that grew into something national, and a spot that pass quite often on the Taconic State Parkway. A story that didn't need to be)

Yet these aren't the posts that a few (very few, mind you) people told me were the best of the best. We'll try to get to that tomorrow. Perhaps.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Thinking About 10 Years

I could have used Phil Rizzuto or Rick Cerone or Celerino Sanchez or Tony Kubek or Jim Zorn...
Next Wednesday, I will likely write from North Carolina to recognize the 10th anniversary of this little place in blog land. Here we are, still on Blogger (I work in WordPress a lot, but it seems like too much work to migrate the whole thing over to there - right or wrong?), and many (OK, all) of those who started blogs around the same time have stopped. They, however, were the ones who inspired me to start doing this.

So thanks to Sean Kilkelly, Matt Hamilton, even Mick the Great, and the others who gave me the drive to start Exit 55 (yes, that rhymed, but I'm hardly a poet).

Incidentally, want to know the back story of the name "Exit 55?" Go back in time, and forgive the MySpace reference! (Short version: I like to drive and my number is 55.)

Anyway, it got me wondering if there's a favorite post (or I guess even a least-favorite post). I guess what I'm saying is: what are your thoughts on the past 10 years? It could be about the blog, your life, our friendship, whatever.

A lot has changed in 10 years. Some things have stayed the same. I wish I could tell you every story, but I just can't. There are things that I truly chomp at the bit to write about. Some happy. Some not. Some infuriating.

For as much as I've revealed, you can bet there is plenty that I haven't.

When thinking about the posts, I recall Yankees Heaven, McCartney, the Taconic Parkway and a lot more.

I also found myself thinking today about a segment of the TV show Modern Family, in which Gloria, played by Sofia Vergara (must be said with the proper accent) tells her husband Jay (Ed O'Neill), essentially, that she's a bit of a fiery wildcard, and to suck it up (more or less) because they can work through anything. It made me smile. I'm a bit of wildcard myself.

I'm babbling. It feels good to write.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Scent of a Neighbohood

Just a boy in Christmas pajamas and a Santa hate with a white reindeer. In Florida. Move along. (1970)

It's a bright, sunny, still somewhat humid morning here in the 845.

I stepped outside just now, getting ready to do some stuff on this Sunday, and to stroll to the end of the driveway to pick up the newspaper.

Yes, some people still get a newspaper. Yes, some people still get a newspaper delivered to them.

And I'm really glad they do -- for myself and my friends. For people who still respect print, newspapers, and journalism.

I digress.

The reason I stopped at the computer to write before I go back out is that, as I got back near the garage door, a smell jumped into my nose. I can't describe it - maybe slightly floral, a combination of the humidity and who know? But it took me back to a long-ago address in a long-ago life.

It was the smell of my grandparents' house in Florida.

I can tell you the address -- 1611 Forest Hills Drive, Holiday, Florida -- but they don't live there anymore. In fact, the house isn't even at that address anymore. The town renamed the side streets and gave out new addresses years ago.

But I can tell you this: in that brief nanosecond, where I could smell their yard, and their house, and see them sitting in the Florida room, with my parents and my siblings, and maybe a cousin or two, life was pretty great.

The scent quickly disappeared, and that was that.

But it was sweet.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Son of Sam and #Journalism

Depending on who you talk to, I'm a journalist.

Anyway, that's what Paul Silverfarb and Susan Shultz and a few others tell me.

Regardless, it's not a secret that I'm passionate about media - not just radio. I love TV and newspapers and journalism, and how we cover big events. I've said - openly - that how we handle breaking news is shameful in today's world. The use of a breaking news slate (that static image you see on your TV screen that said "NBC News SPECIAL REPORT") and the dramatic music was jarring to your senses. It spoke to something BIG.

Now we use it if a Kardashian has liposuction.

Anyway, I read a story by Cady Drell in Rolling Stone this morning. The story: "How Son of Sam Changed America" - highlighted the crazy tabloid journalism that exploded in the summer of 1977. But it further suggested that, perhaps, it was the beginning of the movement to evolve towards something none of us knew in 1977: clickbait.

I remember that summer quite clearly. I remember the fear that the story struck around New York City. I read the papers - my father brought the New York Daily News and the Peekskill Evening Star home every night. I was a radio and TV nut. Even then, I was the budding media historian.

Plus the Yankees won a title that October. So there was that.

We were just a few years beyond the incredible work of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Yet here we were, giving a whole new meaning to "ink-stained wretch." Because of my naive world view of an eight-year-old in 1977, I wasn't quite aware just how low the media went that summer.

This story highlights it.

Incidentally, #journalism (yes, that hashtag is there for a reason) still really matters, and there are great journalists doing remarkable work, on a local, national, and international basis. I've mentioned a few who deserve respect  (hello, Susan). Scott Pelley on CBS gives me reason to believe that the story is still the thing.

I digress.

The Rolling Stone piece is a worthy read. Worth a click for sure.