Cumberland Times-News

Jim Goldsworthy - Anything and Everything

May 12, 2012

Forget ‘air guitar’; try ‘air cannon’ instead

— Imagine that you and your best buddy are 12 years old, and your mom has dropped the two of you off at PNC Park in Pittsburgh to see your first Major League Baseball game.

You’re wandering around, wearing your brand-new Pirates ballcaps and jerseys that are too big for you (but you’re going to keep them and will grow into them), taking in everything there is to see and hear.

Suddenly, what you see is Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones and Neil Walker walking up to you in their real uniforms. (Back in my day, it would have been Maz, Roberto and The Deacon at Forbes Field.)

“Hey, guys!” one of them says. “Ya wanna come and sit in the dugout and watch the game with us?”

Once in a while, something like that really happens.


The visitors Capt. Gary and 1Sgt. Goldy have when we’re at Little Round Top in our Union uniforms sometimes have more than two legs.

Four or five greyhounds and their handlers stopped to socialize, and I asked if the dogs were rescues. They were, and their human companions said they like to go out with them now and then to show folks what they’re missing and how easy it is to find.

Rescued dogs can be the most loving of pets. These were spared from whatever lamentable fate awaits greyhounds who’ve grown too slow to chase mechanical rabbits.

For as high-strung as you might think such animals would be, these were some of the sweetest, most laid-back critters you’ve ever seen. They drew a crowd and loved every bit of the fuss that was made over them.

There were a couple of stubby-legged Pembroke Welsh Corgis, (the ones with huge ears and no apparent tail), a hybrid that resembled a gigantic woolly worm and a little black Cocker Spaniel named Fred, who reminded Gary of his late beloved Buffy ... and me of my childhood pal Rusty.

A human tour guide deputized several of his charges to act out the different roles played by the gun crew of a 10-pounder Parrot Rifle like the one Capt. Gary and I lean against. (Try standing unsupported for five hours at a time.)

He was energetic and animated, calling out orders and hustling people around to pretend they were swabbing the barrel, shoving powder and shell down the muzzle, priming the weapon and firing it. They were laughing and having a ball.

After the “air cannon” demonstration was over, I told him it was one of the neatest things I’d ever seen.

“The biggest problem I had,” he said with a smile, “was that not many of them speak English — and I don’t speak Norwegian!”

We met Harry and Cathy at our cannon a few years ago. They came back the next day, and the day after that, then met us for lunch and asked when Gary and I would be returning to Gettysburg.

Cathy told us, “We have a date!” They kept it, too. Now, we stay in touch and see when we can get together.

Harry is as relaxed as those greyhounds. Cathy is not.

Last year, I reported to you that she had gotten on the cell phone and ordered her daughter to “Just walk your 13-year-old diva princess (beast of burden) over there right now!”

When they showed up for this year’s date, Cathy told me, “My daughter said I should inform Mr. Goldsworthy that she is now 14 years old.”

Information noted and forwarded to readers: The Diva Princess is now 14.

In the evenings, the four of us like to sit outside at their motel (which is within walking distance of ours) to drink beer and chat with anybody who happens by.

It was raining one night, but we were snug and dry under the porch roof. A young male motel employee came along, hurriedly pushing an industrial-sized cart full of towels and linen, and we gangwayed to let him through. He said he’d be back that way in a few minutes.

A few moments later, Harry looked up to the second floor of the motel, saw what he saw in one of the windows and started to chuckle.

“I have a feeling he’s going to be longer than just a few minutes,” he said.

It was almost half an hour before the kid came back, and by then he wasn’t in any particular hurry.

Shortly after arriving at the cannon on our first day, a substantial group of people walked past. Some of them stopped to talk, including a couple of young Army captains in uniform — a man and a woman.

They walked on, and somebody else told us, “Those two captains are about to get promoted to major down by the statue of Gouverneur Warren.”

Directly, another man came hustling up to tell us, “They’d like you to come and watch.”

The matter was handled by Brig. Gen. Thomas Ayres, whose great-great-great-grandfather was Union Army Gen. Romeyn Beck Ayres — who was at Gettysburg, and for whom a road is named.

Gen. Ayres and the two new majors (I wish I knew their names) took turns talking about duty, tradition, pride in service and country, love of family, gratitude for all of the above, and so on.

They were articulate and intelligent, and I remember thinking that “Here are some of the reasons I sleep well at night.”

The insignia badges bearing the captain’s bars were attached to the front of their uniforms with velcro, and the general made a show of flamboyantly ripping them off, tossing them away and replacing them with a major’s oak leaves.

Having finished the ceremony, the general came straight over to where the captain and I were standing. We exchanged salutes, shook hands and talked for a few minutes. He seemed to be as pleased about it as Gary and I were.

Presently, someone else told the captain and me, “The new majors would like to have their pictures taken with the old soldiers!”

First time I’ve ever been hugged by a major ... the lady major, that is; her male counterpart returned our salutes and shook our hands.

And you know what else they did?

They thanked us for being there.

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Jim Goldsworthy - Anything and Everything
  • He was here long before Duck Dynasty

    July 27, 2014

  • He means well, and this time they spared his life

    Our pal Phil is the only re-enactor certified in writing by both the Lee and Custis families to portray Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (whose wife was Mary Anna Custis Lee). When he’s in uniform, he generally stops at the bottom of the path that leads to the summit of Little Round Top, salutes Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy and asks permission to join us. (Get it? Generally ... General Lee?) We always return his salute and grant him permission, in part because he’s our friend and also because the real Lee never got to see what it really looks like from up there. (Get it? Grant ... Grant? U.S. Grant? Real Lee ... really? OK. I hear you. That’s enough. Seriouslee.) Phil gets a kick out of being able to sneak up on us while we’re distracted by tourists.

    July 20, 2014

  • They’d have fallen like Autumn leaves

    So there we were, minding our own business (at least momentarily), leaning against the cannon at Little Round Top.

    July 13, 2014

  • Better read that french fry before you eat it

    People give me otherwise-insignificant items they hope will amuse or inspire me. I appreciate this. I’m always glad for free entertainment, which as Goldy’s Rule 33 says is everywhere. All you have to do is wait and it will come to you. Also, I have been writing columns for 37 years and embrace inspiration anywhere I can find it.

    July 6, 2014

  • The moose is loose, and it’s coming for you

    So how would you like to look out your kitchen door window onto your porch and see a moose looking back at you from close range?

    June 28, 2014

  • There are some debts you can never repay

    Today’s column will be relatively short, as my columns go, for reasons that should become apparent, and I thought long and hard before writing it.

    June 21, 2014

  • It could have saved the county a lot of money

    Random thoughts sometimes occur to me when I least expect it, usually when my brain has become tired.
    When I voice these thoughts at work or in other places, people may tell me, “Goldy? It’s time for you to go home.” Yes, ma’am.
    Here are two random thoughts of recent vintage:
    • If Bugs Bunny were an Emergency Medical Technician, would that make him a MedicHare?
    • If Daisy Duck got a job driving for United Parcel Service, would she be an UPS-a-Daisy?
    I wouldn’t blame you if you think that sounds Goofy — or Daffy.

    June 15, 2014

  • These two were part of the Not Top Ten

    Occasionally, at this time of year, I see reference to a “class orator” or a “class speaker.”

    Nothing wrong with that — people can call such things whatever they want, as far as I’m concerned — but it makes me wonder. Have “valedictorian” and “salutatorian” become politically incorrect, and I didn’t notice? It may come as a surprise to you, but I really have not kept up with what is politically correct or incorrect. That’s what people tell me, anyway. With some of them, it actually seems to be a compliment.

    June 8, 2014

  • Coming soon to a highway near you?

    People say to me, “Goldy? Can I ask you a stupid question?”

    In theory — and theory only — the correct response is: “The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.” Not so much. There ARE stupid questions, some of them so stupid that to call them stupid is to damn them with faint praise. Other questions are — on the face of it — legitimate questions, but shouldn’t be treated as such ... not if you subscribe to the same philosophy that I do: Free entertainment is everywhere; all you have to do is wait, and it will come to you.

    June 1, 2014

  • This was a skill that proved very useful

    The Belmont Park stewards have decided to let California Chrome wear his nasal strip during the Run for the Carnations. Nasal strips usually are worn by people who snore and may have saved numerous marriages. It helps the Triple Crown hopeful to breathe, and some twolegged athletes wear nasal strips for the same reason. In this case, Chrome’s nasal strip may keep him from (wait for it) ... losing by a nose.

    May 25, 2014

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