Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hall over town

Just another weekend around Salt City for the Halls. Friday night called for something a little different, so the Halls swung 'round the Valley Inn in Marcellus, run by their good friends the Nuttings. The Valley Inn recently enjoyed a facelift; Andrew Nutting, apparently of the opinion that his fine establishment was being overlooked, painted the outside of the restaurant the most incredible shade of candy apple red imaginable. Traffic has indeed picked up, and the Halls joined fellow diners there for Andrew's famous fried shrimp. (Not exactly on Mr. H's diet; but moderation in all things....) The Valley Inn is presently displaying Mrs. Hall's posters of beautiful Marcellus for sale. Saturday evening, the Halls made an appearance at the Sacred Heart School's Heart's Reunion dinner in the city. Many of Mr. Hall's business acquaintances are alumni in this group, so they were eager to sponsor this happy event. Site of this bustling affair: the warm and beckoning bar at the Polish Home on Park Ave. Now there are a lot of places in Syracuse to get decent pierogies, kraut, kelbasi and galumpkis, (Eva's European Diner springs to mind) but by far, the best are at the Polish Home. A short walk down the stairs, slide your membership card through the reader to unlock the door, and you are transported to another era. Restoration on the 60 year old bowling lanes is still in progress, but the atmosphere of good will is non-stop. It's always a pleasure to join this crowd, even if your Polish is a little rusty.
Sunday morning the Halls entertained Miss Katie (and a young admirer) at Doc's Little Gem for breakfast after church. The fare was as topnotch as always, but this time, Doc himself came over and joined the merry band. Discussions with Doc have covered the gamut of current events in the past (Doc is well read and keeps up with local politics) but Sunday's panel discussion was regarding another dining establishment in the area. During Doc's recent repairs, he had been recommending MaMa Nancy's down the street to his regulars, which kindness had been repaid by MaMa Nancy posting a billboard directly in view of his customers, particularly pointing out her being open when he was not. (MaMa Nancy's caters to a slightly different crowd than Doc's; evidence of which is notable by the pay TVs in every booth. For a pocket full of quarters, one can enjoy 15 minutes of black and white entertainment with their red flannel hash.) Various gentlemanly-like tactics were considered in the booth (such as advising his customers to pay no attention to the recent board of health inquiries at MaMa Nancy's; he was sure they were just ugly rumors...) but any action was tabled for another date. Doc, ever the gracious host, kissed Mrs. H's hand and wished them all a fine day. Katie and Jason raced off to find tickets to the Syracuse Orange basketball game and Mr. and Mrs. H took advantage of the sunshine to spruce up the Cadillac. Next week: Digger's Superbowl Party! Stay tuned!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Colleen trods the boards

Mistress Colleen has had a fun winter so far. Last month, she practically stole the show when Marcellus High School staged "Romancing Roxanne", the Steve Martin stage adaptation based on the story of Cyrano De Bergerac. Her good friend Sarah Constable had the title role and was enchanting as the desirable Roxanne, but it was Colleen, whose surprize comic performance in a minor role that rocked the house. Artfully utilizing the oversize fireman equipment and uniform against her diminutive stature to great effect, Colleen took a small part and made it her own. Additionally, on top of her school work and part time job, Colleen put in considerable effort on her artwork. Scholastic Art awards were announced last week and Colleen's charcoal drawing won an honorable mention. Her work is currently being displayed at Onondage Community College for another month, with the rest of the scholastic winners. Cheers and a tip of the hat to Colleen! Keep up the good work!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

High Winds and Guardian Angels (an interesting, if somewhat longish story)

Standing at the corner of Park and Genesee Streets, the heart of the Syracuse Polish Community, is the proud and stately anchor of the neighborhood. The twin grey towers of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus rise to the sky, the carved stone and stained glass sternly watching over the Polish Home, Harrison’s (Famous) Bakery and Giminski-Wysocki’s Funeral Home. The local avian population was practicing their crosswind landings in the parking lot. High wind advisories had been broadcast incessantly, but it was hardly necessary; most of the grounds were strewn with the debris from three neighborhoods over. But no earth bound force of nature could blow away the angels watching over the funeral home that morning.
The morning crew had arrived early. Mr. and Mrs. H. opened the doors before 8:00 am, and warmed up the building. Dorothy, the cleaning lady, spot-checked the windows out front and the glass doors. The crystal chandeliers shone and danced in the morning light, and Mr. Hall’s dapper hired crew, held on to their hats and clutched their long black coats around themselves as they lined up hearse and limo, and the countless cars of family and friends. Presently, Jenny Wysocki arrived in state, and began presiding over the foyer, discussing in Polish and English the upcoming schedule with the priests.
Boutonnieres were affixed to the pallbearers, and it was a good thing they were a hearty bunch; caskets are rarely known for their aerodynamic properties, and so the procession out the large foyer entrance and to the hearse was a tough one. They were leaving fifteen minutes earlier than their usual time, as the service was to be held at Our Lady of Peace Church across town. Flowers disappeared into the trucks, families dissolved into their vehicles. Dorothy wiped the last fingerprints off the front door and said, “Don’t go out the front door, Jenny- I’ve already locked it”, as Jenny reached for the handle. “Go out the back; it’s closer to your car anyway.” Not two minutes later, Mrs. H. heard Dorothy yell, “Come quickly, come quickly! There’s been trouble!” No sooner than Jenny had gone out the back door, then the huge metal and glass chandelier out front, ripped from its moorings by the morning’s high wind, had plummeted 30 or so feet from the overhang and smashed to bits on the ground. Dorothy was trembling; she was so shook up. “I was just out there.” “Five minutes earlier,” she kept saying, “it would have killed someone.” The debris was cleared away as quickly as possible, and the crumpled remains stashed in the garage. “Go home and have a cup of tea, Dorothy”, said Mrs. H. “And on your way home, you might stop and buy a lottery ticket or two. It just might be your lucky day.”

2008 The year in review.....already

Bitter cold, then record warmth
Last Monday in Marcellus, as Mr. H. eased the Cadillac out of the hanger, the thermometer in the cockpit read –15 degrees, and there was considerable discussion within the Hall as to whether the younger members should brave the cold for the sake of school. Never mind that they had just been braving it earlier that morning to blow bubbles out the back door and watch them freeze in mid-air, then drop and roll on the patio out back. Mrs. H. had vetoed the motion, and the kids were dully dispatched.
So it was particularly strange when, less than 72 hours later, Syracuse was smashing records left and right with freakishly warm weather. It topped 63 on Wednesday, (record high had been 62 in 1932) and then went on to 70 the next day. Syracuse had been on top in the Race for the Golden Snowball Award, but if this kept up, it would end up being the On Golden Pond Award.

Nice and Warm, then bitter cold…
So Thursday, Penguin Hall was toasty and warm, all sunlit corridors and lazy cats in the halls and on the Persian rugs. But as evening fell upon the little valley, the Hall grew increasingly chilly. It was Mr. H. who first recognized the problem. The furnace men were called to task, but repairs could not be effected ‘til the following morning. Luckily, the Hall is furnished with electric heat on the upper level, but it was mighty frosty the next morning in the kitchen. Mr. H’s breath could be seen as he ushered in the new day, which was just as well, because the words did not warrant repeating. All is back to normal now- cats bask in the kitchen and children play on the carpets and all’s right with the world again at Penguin Hall.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Welcome 2008!

Although throughout most of central New York it was a black tie and tails sort of night, at Penguin Hall the residents ushered in the new year in flannel and fuzzy slippers. Fred Astaire movies on the old Dumont and lots of bubbly libation was poured (some hard, some not; for the younger crowd...), as well as finishing off all the leftover Christmas cookies and stocking stuffers. Basking in the warm glow of the cathode ray tube, the Halls watched the ball drop in Times Square, then let out hearty cheers and lots of hugs all around. Much merriment and hilarity then ensued, until Mrs. H. managed to subdue the group enough to settle in for bed.
There had been a brief spurt of activity at the funeral home over the holiday, but New Year's Day was quiet enough to fulfill the requisite fourteen hours of non-stop football and snack consumption. Katie Hall stopped by for a short visit, bearing gifts and good cheer in the afternoon, before dashing off to another lively evening about town. Katie had been in Syracuse earlier in the week; the Halls are avid believers in the theory that you can never really have enough good steak, and to that happy end, had made a pilgrimage to that great bastion of beef, the Scotch and Sirloin, in DeWitt on Thursday last. Resolved for the new year: on Katie's next visit, the Hall's will descend on Ichibon's Japanese Steak House. Now there's a resolution that will undoubtably be kept!

Tell your friends!