— 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.
—————— I’ve ridden streetcars a few times, and so did Grandfather James E. Goldsworthy. I probably had more fun than he did, although we did it a few times together when he went along for pure enjoyment. Time was, he had no other choice.
The first Major League Baseball game I attended was in Pittsburgh, when my parents and I went to see the Pirates take a double-header from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
I was 10 years old. We rode an old-fashioned streetcar from the William Penn Hotel to Forbes Field, and Roberto Clemente hit an inside-the-park home run.
My family also rode streetcars when we visited my aunt and uncle and two little girl cousins in Philadelphia. The trolleys were powered by electricity from overhead lines, and I was fascinated by the way the connecting rods made a spark each time they crossed a junction between the wires.
The local historian Andrew Sparber is researching the history of streetcars in Allegany County (April 29 Times-News, Page 1A), and it reminded me that Granddad took the trolley at least part of the way to work.
He began his working life in the coal mines near Frostburg with his father (also named James — no middle initial— but called “Pap” by most people) and brother Vance.
My grandfather hated it and decided he wanted no more of it. So he got himself fired by means of leaving his wheelbarrow on the railroad tracks and watching a train run over it.
He then decided to try the barber business, and in March 1910 opened the Goldsworthy Barber Shop that operated until 1977, when Uncle Abe closed it. (Abe went into semiretirement and continued to cut his friends’ hair at his home. He was at one time the oldest practicing barber in the state of West Virginia and proud of it.) For a time, I’m not sure how long, Granddad commuted from Frostburg to Keyser — not a big deal today, but this was in the early part of the 20th century.
He never told me about it that I remember, but Grandmother said he rode the streetcar and sometimes half froze to death.
However, the streetcar went only from Frostburg to Westernport, which is five miles from Keyser. He may have gotten on a train at Piedmont and ridden it the rest of the way.
Grandmother grew up in LaVale, not far from the Narrows and a place that was called Seiss’ Picnic Grove. She told me there was a full-fledged amusement park of considerable size and that people from all over creation rode the streetcars to get there.
She told me how much fun it was and showed me pictures of it, some of which could be viewed in 3-D in a stereo viewer.
There were several volumes of these pictures, showing scenes from all across America and around the world. They found safekeeping with my cousin Craig, who had three sons, and will be preserved within the family.
According to a letter my father (he was James W.; I’m James N.) wrote to one of his cousins, my grandparents moved in 1922 to what would be their third and final home, on Main Street in Keyser, where the Keyser House retirement and assisted living center is now.
It was a nice-sized house and Granddad paid $5,000 for it, using a Liberty Sedan automobile worth $1,250 as a down payment.
Dad said it took him 248 months to pay off the rest. The Depression set in, and there were 78 months my grandfather could make no payments at all; 70 months he paid $5, and 13 months he paid $10. Sometimes, he just paid $1 or $2 on the interest.
That’s how people did it back then. If you owned a market or some other business, you told your faithful clientele to “Pay me when you can,” and they always did.
My grandparents were married in 1912, and we still have their first grocery bill and a list of their first housekeeping furniture.
They went to J.W. Wolford’s Grocery and bought bread (25 cents), butter (35 cents), lard (17 cents), eggs (35 cents), coffee (30 cents) and potatoes (20 cents). Their furniture included 24 items that cost $289.68, including $65 for a seven-piece bedroom suite.
Eight people lived in my grandparents’ house on Main Street: Grandmother, Grandfather, my dad, Aunt Penny, Uncle Abe, Great-Grandfather James, Great-Uncle Paul and a “hired girl,” who did chores in exchange for room and board.
In later years, I overheard Dad and Penny say they couldn’t understand how eight people lived in one house that had only one bathroom, but there were no problems because of that.
Finally, I told them “You’re forgetting something. This was Mother Goldsworthy’s house. There weren’t going to BE any problems.”
They accepted that without question. I also knew those eight people all operated on different time schedules.
My grandfather cut hair throughout the The Depression, when he got a quarter for a haircut and a dime for a shave — if the customer had it to pay him.
But he managed to pay off his house, he always had a nice car, and he supported a good-sized family in proper fashion. He also found a way to send his three children to college (Abe hated it and dropped out to cut hair with his father; Penny and my dad graduated and went on to successful careers).
Not bad for a man who never learned to read or write. Grandmother taught him to sign his name and helped him to write his will.
But he had faith in God and his family and friends, and this was America, at a time when people figured out a way to do what they had to do — not just to survive, but to thrive.
Besides ... as Abe said, Granddad couldn’t read — but he knew how to count money.