Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Buddy Charlie

Back in the mid 90's I was at a convention and lurking around a hospitality suite where the Rum and Bourbon were of good quality and generous pour. I was talking with some colleagues when I overheard a tall older gent in another cluster of drinkers talking about a recent fight involving boxer Arturo Gatti. I was fairly lubricated at the time so I felt no compunction about injecting myself into the conversation to advise the fellow aficianado, Charlie, that I had been at the fight he was discussing.
A two hour conversation ensued and from that evening on, Charlie and I have been friends, colleagues and hunting buddies. Charlie and I learned during that conversation that we both liked boxing, hunting, fishing and horse racing.Charlie is a member of Lost Creek Rod & Gun Club, a renowned hunting camp in upstate PA, and I was lucky enough to be invited by him on several trips to hunt deer and upland game. Pictured above are Charlie and I with my hunting dog sitting by the woodstove having beers and talking long into the night. The next photo is this writer schooling Charlie on the finer points of Poker.
Charlie had previously enjoyed a successful career in banking and after retirement got into marketing, which is what led him to be at the convention where we met. Charlie is an accomplished and semi-famous Turkey caller, a serious and highly skilled fly-fisherman, an excellent shot with a shotgun, a great friend and simply one of the most decent and affable humans I have ever had the pleasure and honor of hunting with and calling my friend.He loves a good cigar and a good joke, dotes on his Grandsons shamelessly,and has matched me beer for beer sitting on the tailgate of my pick-up out in a field after a hunt when we felt it our duty to attack a icy cold case of Yeungling Lager. We have hunted Upland game, waterfowl and deer together over the years and shared many a fine meal, poker game and the occasiional horse race. Charlie is getting up there in years now and slowing down a bit but we still take to the field and the goose pit whenever we can. I still look back on that fortuitous meeting and am thankful our paths crossed.

Friday, February 25, 2011

More Old Photos

This is my Uncle Tom. I never met him. He was my Dad's baby brother. Sadly, 1st Lieutenant Thomas G. Touchstone was killed during WWII in the Pacific theatre.
Lt. Touchstone was a navigator on a Bomber flying out of a base on Neomfoor Island and pounding the Japanese mission after mission.
Neomfoor Island had been a Japanese stronghold and they had 3 air bases hosting fighters and bombers. These bases were constructed by Tiawanese and Javanese slaves who were treated horribly, starved, denied medical treatment and supplies and executed summarily for slight offenses.
Neomfoor was invaded by U.S. troops in July 1944 to capture the airfields and to continue the campaign to drive the enemy from Western New Guinea. Once the airfields were captured and improved, the Army Air Forces quickly moved in and based P-40 fighters there. By September 1944 there were B24 Bombers operating out of Kornasoren airfield on the Island. Uncle Tom was a navigator on one of these B-24's. His plane flew numerous missions, including bombing the Japanese gasoline refineries in Borneo.
By November, Tom was due for a scheduled R&R. On November 24th,he hopped a ride on a plane to Sydney, Australia to partake of same.
The plane was shot down either by enemy fighters or by anti-aircraft fire...the Army Air Force never determined which. The wreckage was never found despite several searches and the crew and all on board were eventually declared KIA.
Tom was a gifted athlete and was going to go to West Point...but he decided to go right into the Officers training program for the Army Air Force shortly after Pearl Harbour.
Tom's death hit my Dad and his family very hard.It was particularly painful because of the drawn out process of being MIA and then KIA and the family not knowing and holding out some hope. Some years later my Dad found this photo and recently my Mom re-discovered it and gave it to me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vintage Deep Sea Fishing

More gems have been made available through my Mother's efforts in the attic. I promised JMW, the sweet Kentucky lass from " A Place to Dwell", that there would be more old photographs and here is one.
In this pose, my Grandfather (mentioned in the recent post), is shown with his posse of anglers after a successful deep sea fishing excursion. This trip was probably in early Summer of 1931 or 32. Grandad is kneeling 3rd from the right. Grandad loved fishing for Tuna and this was a great trip as the catch hanging behind confirms.
I love this photo for several details. One is the fact that the Capt. and one of the fisherman are wearing ties. These days down at the Jersey shore you are lucky if guys are wearing pants...let alone a tie. I also love the Pith helmet held by one guy...nothing keeps the harsh Summer sun off one's neck like a Safari lid.
My Grandfather loved to do I. He always said there was nothing like eating Tuna steaks that you had reeled in yourself just a few hours before.
If you have never spent an afternoon at Sea with your buddies catching Tuna and drinking ice cold beer..then you are missing a lot.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Recently, The Trad discussed Vuarnet sunglasses in a post. He stated, in his Tradistic view, that these particular Vuarnets looked best on women. I must concur and as evidence offer this picture of my lovely wife sporting a pair of said Vuarnets.
This picture was taken in the base lodge at the Middlebury Snowbowl. We had taken the kids to Vermont over president's day weekend a few years back and after dealing with the crowds and lift-lines at Killington we elected to head over to Middlebury. This mountain is owned and operated by the College and is low-key and less crowded. We all thoroughly enjoyed the day at the Snowbowl and looking at this photo brings back great memories of skiing with the family.
Coincidentally, The Daily Prep did a post on sunglasses and I chimed in with my comment about quality sunglasses and the superior UV protection afforded by same.Turning from the clinical to the asthetic brought this photo to mind.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Vintage Gridiron Boys

My Mom gave me this photo several months ago. This is the Varsity Football team from Stroudsburg High School in Stroudsburg PA,circa 1923. The tall lanky Gent in the back row center is my maternal Grandfather.
Grandad used to tell me stories about High School football in those days: No face masks, padded leather helmets,flimsy shoulder pads,and guys playing both offense and defense the whole game. This was hard-nosed, bloody knuckle and cracked rib football. When Grandad and I would watch a game in the mid-70's he would almost always make a comment that these modern players were candy-asses given the amount of protection they enjoyed from the modern equipment.
Grandad was a tough old bastard who suffered thru the loss of his Father at an early age and was just out of College when the Depression hit. He made spare money as a teenager by trapping muskrat and beaver in the marshes and ponds of the Poconos and selling the pelts, he hunted deer and grouse to supplement the food for the table and still managed to finish Penn State. He liked Bourbon, shooting craps and Lucky Strikes. He listened to baseball on the radio and read voraciously, he liked hiking and woodcraft and collecting American Indian artifacts.
Grandad passed some of these traditions and skills down to me I suppose. He taught me gun safety and the lore of Field and Stream. I consider myself lucky to have had such a mentor....particularly glad that he lived through 4 seasons of Football clad only in the stuff we see in this picture.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sportsmen's Answer to Fashion Week

Too many Blogs to mention have posted too many posts to list about Fashion Week in Manhattan. Those of us who lean more toward outdoor pursuits have our own version. To wit: The Sporting Show. This weekend featured The Greater Philadelphia Outdoor Sportshow. Yesterday we attended the event. This is a madhouse stuffed to the ceiling with everything from Bass Boats to Guide Service offering trips to hunt Elk in Manitoba or fish for Steelhead in Ontario. There was a great fly fishing demo by Lefty Kreh (See my earlier post on this master of the fly-rod) and a grizzly bear on display.. There were taxidermists and gear purveyors and discount equipment booths.
I picked up a new goose call, a snow goose call and some other odds and ends. We ate some aligator jerky and some delicious crabcakes. Dealers had campers and ATV's, duck hunting boats and fishing gear, waders and boots and binoculars. It was all there. The show runs thru this evening.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

More Vintage Lacrosse

Several nights ago I was over at my Mom's house delivering some Beef Stew. Since my Father's passing, Mom lives alone and cooking for one can be a hassle. My Wife and I enjoy cooking and often make extra in order to do a little "Meals on Wheels" action for my Mom. She still lives in the house I grew up in about 3 1/2 miles from where I live now.
After stowing the stew in the Fridge, I hung around to chat and watch an old movie on AMC. During our conversation my Mom said she was going thru some boxes of photos and found some Lacrosse pictures from my High School career.
The pictures above are from a Tournament my High School played against 2 teams from Long Island: Northport and East Islip. The Long Island kids stayed at our teams homes and we played the Tournament at Penn's Franklin Field. This is circa 1980, my Junior Year. The bottom photo is me during warm-ups behind the bench.
The "turf" at Franklin Filed was like outdoor carpet stretched over concrete and it was hard as rock. The ball bounced like mad on this surface and if you took a spill you lost flesh and bruised bone. It was a cold day...but now a very warm memory of a great day of Lacrosse. We Harriton "Rams" beat the NY teams in both games and we were proud as Hell to prevail over teams from Long Island..well known as a hot bed of Lacrosse ( Along with Baltimore and the Main Line.)
In these photos I am wearing # 12...not my usual number in those days but it was so early in the Season we did not have our fresh Jerseys yet so we wore varsity jerseys as the year before. One of the photos show me laying out an attackman from our opponent and the others show some fairly good Man-Down and man to man coverage. Some of the other guys in the photos are still in the area and I see them once in a while...I cannot wait to show them these pictures.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Wealth of Knowledge and Experience

Marty is a waterfowler's waterfowler. He has, as they say, forgotten more than most of us know about hunting ducks and geese in the Delaware-Maryland region. Marty is a member of our Hunting Club but did not have much chance to get out this season. His wife is battling a fairly serious illness and his attentions are thus required on the homefront.
Marty is always ready to share the knowledge he has amassed hunting waterfowl for over 40 years. He can tell you what length of line to rig on your decoys for various water depths at various blinds. He can suggest where to place decoys, how many and what type. He knows what types of vegetation different species of ducks prefer and will tell you what to plant to bolster habitat in your hunting area. He will give you tips on the best boat ramps and what public blinds to try and get in the lottery and tips on what special gear to have in your boat. He will offer use of his extensive collection of decoys and even lend you his trailer to haul them.
If all that is not enough, he is a top-flight dog trainer. He participates in hunt tests and field trials and train Labs for hunting. Like everything else, he is quick to offer welcome advice when guys are training their dogs.
Marty's hunting buddies join in good thoughts and wishes for his wife's speedy recovery and hope we can share more time hunting with him next season.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Cold Day in Vermont

Pitchers and Catcher's have reported for the Phillies in Clearwater Fla. The Volkswagen size mound of plowed snow in my driveway is starting to diminish. Nevertheless, here are shots of my 3 kids from our snowmobile trip in Vermont during our Christmas trip. It was in the single digits that afternoon, the day after Christmas, or Boxing Day for you Angliophiles. We rented snowmobiles and had a great 2 hour jaunt in a nearby State Park. The photos were snapped at the break at the 1/2 way point. Hot cider and rum for the adults and hot chocolate for the kids. It was a great afternoon and the kids really enjoyed the excursion. The woods and mountains were truly beautiful enrobed in snow. The snowmobiles had heated handles...a most welcome feature.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Intrepid Adventurer

Today I must laud and recognize the recent accomplishment of my particular friend Bill R. Bill and his son Billy are pictured above at the Summit of Mount Kilamanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. We all know people who prattle on about trips they would like to take or feats they would like to attempt. Bill is the type of guy who quietly goes about doing it.
Bill is an intrepid sailor who participates in Races such as Newport to Bermuda and other "blue water" sailing events. In addition,he is as a licensed yacht surveyor, an avid skiier, a good father and husband and an all-around gentleman. I have hunted with Bill, sailed with him, shot trap with him, played many nights of poker with him and we shared a memorable trip when we took our Families to the Winter Olympics together in 2002 in Salt Lake City.
Candidly, I am in awe of a this consumate Sportsman who conquered a feat like climbing Kilamanjaro. He conceived the plan and executed like a true Adventurer. He was accompanied by his son Billy who just graduated from Penn State. The "Riverbend" banner they unfurled at the summit is representative of a local conservation group which has a preserve near his home and for which he raised money on this trip.Well done Gentlemen, well done!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pennsylvania Hunt Cup Races 2010

This post is certainly late in terms of time lapse since the event: The running of the Penna. Hunt Cup Steeplechase Races in late October. We had our traditional tailgate space along the homestretch near the finish line. We used my Ford F-150 Pick-Up to stage the tailgate food offerings and had the bar set up along the rail.
It was a fairly cold but sunny Fall day in Southern Chester County: a perfect day for Steeplechase racing, wagering and consuming cocktails in a field.You can tell by my friend Suzanne's bundled up presentation that some of the ladies present felt it to be a little too cold for outdoor socializing. Suzanne was a trooper and indeed brought along a thermos of hot buttered rum to compliment our bar.(Note the vintage Rolls behind her in that shot.)
The PA Hunt cup is a rigorous course set up to approximate what a rider would experience in a day's fox-hunting in Chester County. The rail fences are unforgiving and it is not a race for untested mounts or jockeys.
Of course our crew offered the requisite betting pool and pictured above is my friends 4 year old daughter getting an early schooling in the finer points of betting timber jumpers. Personally, I bet with our Pool and slipped in a few wagers with the "Punters"...private bookmakers who set up along the course with an easel depicting their offered odds who take bets on a more parimutuel basis. The Pa Hunt Cup closes the Steeplechase season and we will now wait until the Maryland races start in April and the Radnor Hunt Races in May.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hockey Fights/Jody Shelley vs Shawn Thornton Jan 13, 2011

Many people decry professional hockey for the fighting that is inherent in the sport. I have debated this topic countless times with people who range from Far-Left Vegan Hacky-Sackers to an Army Ranger who felt the Euro-brand of Hockey without fighting was superior. Regardless of your particular opinion of fighting in the N.H.L. or whether you even like Hockey, the attached Phila. Daily News interview from Jody Shelley of the Phila. Flyers is very interesting and a cogent analysis on this topic. In the opinion of this Sportsman, protecting teammates is the primary utility of on-ice fisticuffs. With a bit more protection,perhaps Eric Lindros would have had a longer career here in Philly and helped etch the Flyer's names on Lord Stanley's Cup.

Re-printed from Phila. Daily News, Wed. 2/9/2011

POSTED: February 9, 2011 Flyers' Shelley lays out five rules of fighting
Philadelphia Daily News

THE FIRST RULE of Fight Club is that you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is that you DO NOT talk about Fight Club.

Yes, those were Brad Pitt's unforgettable rules from "Fight Club," the 1999 cult classic about an underground club where newcomers would join to pound the snot out of each other. Fighting in the NHL isn't much different, as players don't often divulge the details from their on-ice brawls.

Fighting in hockey, believe it or not, is a science. It's not just for the physically gifted or the intimidating. If so, the toughest knuckles from your local watering hole would be drafted. And NHL teams would save a whole lot of money on the salary cap with a neighborhood goon.

This season, there will be close to 700 fights in the NHL. More than 40 percent of games will have at least one fight. Some say fighting - illegal in every other professional sport except boxing and mixed martial arts - makes the NHL savage.

But to carve out a career as an enforcer in today's NHL, you have to not only win, but you need to know when, how, and with whom to dance. Like "Fight Club," and dueling, there are rules of engagement.

Flyers forward Jody Shelley has dropped the gloves 184 times in less than 10 years of service in the NHL, most of it spent with Columbus and San Jose. He signed a 3-year, $3.3 million contract with the Flyers in the offseason. Shelley, one of the most respected players in the league, opened up about the NHL's unwritten and unspoken "man code" in a recent interview.

Here are Shelley's 5 rules for fighting:


"You've just got to be a man about it," Shelley said. "There's a code - and it's respect. You treat each other like men and when the battle is over, say it's over. Have respect before, during and after the fight."

Surprisingly, Shelley said there isn't always a lot of trash talk before a fight. Not that trash talking doesn't happen, but Shelley said it's often a more sophisticated and businesslike approach. And if you pull a cheap move, Shelley said word spreads among players to not fight you.

"If you're going to fight someone, you're not going to kick them in the groin," Shelley said. "It has to be a straight-up fight, not just to see who's tougher, but it's just going to be a fight. I'll know when I've [beaten] you. You know when you've gotten me. It's just little things, like when you have a guy down, you don't punch."


For those who think fighting is savage, in hockey, it's a way for players to police themselves and keep the game safe without the use of a referee. It's not a wise move to attack a finesse player who doesn't fight. And players know they'll have to answer to Shelley for a questionable hit.

"When he comes out of the lineup, other teams at times feel like maybe they can take some liberties," coach Peter Laviolette said. "With him in the lineup, maybe not so much."

Shelley gives his teammates peace of mind.

"I almost compare it to a basketball team, when you're going into a gym and you know someone is going to push you around and they're going to take advantage of your small and skilled players. That's a bad feeling," Shelley said. "But it's a nice feeling for a team to have a guy that you know is going to settle all of those guys down and make sure that no one gets taken advantage of. It's nice to be on a team like that where everyone has your back.

"Sometimes a fight is just a fight to prove you're tough, or to show where you're at, or you needed a fight just to stay sharp. But when it's a reaction fight, say when Claude [Giroux] got run over [against Ottawa on Jan. 20], you want to send a message.

"You want to say, 'What you did is wrong. You expect me to come and I'm coming.' That's a different mentality. That's a big part of your job. You just want your teammates to know that certain players aren't going to [try to hurt them]. There will be a reaction. That's how it works."


Shelley said keeping an eye on the scoreboard and your team's energy level are a big part of fighting. Fighters want to spark their teammates, but Shelley also knows momentum can swing the other way if you allow yourself to fight - and lose - when your team is ahead.

"That's something you should learn, especially now with each point being so valuable," Shelley said. "It's not just to go out and fight whenever you want. There's a momentum thing. You have to know when and when not to go. If you're on the road, and your team scores two or three quick goals, if a guy just goes after you, you need to brush him off. You don't engage him just to get the crowd going.

"But if we start a game at home and we're down a goal, you try to get it going with momentum."

Some have criticized Shelley's role on the Flyers, but they've been ahead in so many games this season that he hasn't needed to mix it up too often. Shelley and Dan Carcillo are tied for the team lead with nine fighting majors apiece.


Just because it appears that the Rangers' Sean Avery suckered an unwilling Flyer isn't a green light for Shelley to fight him. Just as it is in the real world, it isn't exactly ethical for a heavyweight to drop the gloves with a lightweight. Or an inexperienced rookie. Or an injured player.

"When a guy is injured or hurt, or his face is looking mangled, maybe you don't pursue him as hard as when he is healthy and ready to go," Shelley said. "It's just little things like that."

Shelley has twice been suspended for punching too early in a fight.

"It's hard," he said. "But after you get suspended two times in a row, it's not as hard. It's not the slap on the wallet so much, it's about perception, too. You don't want to be marked as a total goon of a personality type, as someone who is a waste of space. You know you're on probation."


Going toe-to-toe against some of the toughest players a couple hundred times, you're going to lose a few fights. Shelley has fought George Parros eight times, Derek Boogaard and Georges Laraque each six times, Bob Probert four times, and even Riley Cote (twice) and Flyers assistant coach Craig Berube (three times) in his career. He has had more stitches, broken noses, broken fingers and blood loss than most could count.

"You're not going to win every fight," Shelley said. "Sometimes you just have to live to fight another day."

Having lost in front of 20,000 screaming fans sometimes leaves you with a bruised ego. And considering he plays just 6 minutes per game and 60 percent of games go without a fight, he has a lot of time to think about the losses - and the wins. But he wouldn't trade his job for anything.

"It's such a fast game, it's a high-impact game where there's a lot of frustration," Shelley said. "There's a lot going on that fans see, that the players see, that the TV cameras don't always pick up on. It's just situations that come up that sometimes just have to be addressed."

Find this article at:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Barnes Follow-Up

After posting yesterday, I received this cordial communique' from Friends of the Barnes. It is always fascinating to see who is reading.

Hello, Mr. Sportsman.

My son forwarded a link to your post about your visit to The Barnes, which I found very refreshing. I just wanted to let you know that information about the on-going controversy is available on the Friends of the Barnes Foundation website . I also thought you might not be aware (because almost no one is) that The Barnes in Merion is eligible for National Historic Landmark status, but only if it remains intact – with the art collection. A PDF of an Assessment of the site commissioned by Friends of the Barnes Foundation is attached.

With kind regards,

Friends of the Barnes Foundation

Monday, February 7, 2011

Barnes Tour

Lest you assume it is nothing but guns,dead animals and booze around here, I offer a report on a recent cultural afternoon. The Barnes Foundation is arguably the most incredible private art collection on the planet. My wife and I and 2 guests were treated to a private Docent-led tour last weekend. We had toured the Barnes years ago but felt a renewed urgency to see the collection before it moves from it's home in Wynnewood Penna. to the new museum facility in Philadelphia.
That the Collection is moving at all is something of a scandal and a tragedy...if you are interested in the history and background, just view the documentary "Art of the Steal" and see how the Trust and donative intent of a genius and visionary art collector is pissed on from a great height by moneyed interests and some jealous pricks in the Art world.
Our guests were the parent's of my best friend from college. They are art patrons and afficianados and were thrilled to have a chance to see the exhibit again. They live in Manhattan so we picked them up at 30th st. Station. After brunch at Germantown Cricket Club we arived at the Foundation and cleared security.
The collection is beyond description and if you like Impressionist and Post Impressionist masters, this joint is Nirvana. The pieces are hung according to Dr. Barnes' personal recipe in order to enhance the experience. It is interesting to see the paintings paired with furniture and decorative metal works and the like.
Frankly, some of the Renoirs are lost on me; I mean, how many plump buttocks do we have to look at. However, some of the Degas, like the race horses and jockeys, or Cezane's card game, are right up the Sportsman's alley. Indeed, some of the Winslow Homers pieces are really breathtaking and the collection of hinges and chests is quite astounding.
If you have a chance, visit the Barnes Foundation in it's last months in the orignal home.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Open For Business and the Rise of the Junior Sportsman

In my last post I expressed concern that the heavy snow last week would interfere with our last day of waterfowl season. Luckily, the report from our fellow Club Members was a green light. Teddy and a few guys went down Friday morning and reported that there was less snow and access to the pit blinds in the fields was no problem.
My son had a wrestling match Friday afternoon so we could not head to the Club until evening. Plus, Friday was my son's 14th Birthday.
We got to the Clubhouse after a fine dinner in town. It was then time for Poker. My 14 year old son busted me in a Tournament format....beating my Queen high flush with a King high flush. He then smoked my Jack high straight with an Ace high straight. I was proud of his skills but had to swallow my pride and spend the rest of the game as permanent dealer. He went on to win the pot.After the card game, we went to the racks for some sleep before the next day's goose hunt.
I am thrilled to report that the following day my boy shot his first goose from a pit blind in our field. The geese were moving all morning and with my calling and some lucky decoy placement, we had birds locked up and flying in. I shot 2 for the day and my buddy Hutch bagged 3.
I was levitating off the ground with pride and excitement as my son brought his Browning 20 bear on a bird and dropped him nicely. We had a splendid father son moment as we climbed from the blind to pick up his bird. He was a proud hunter and I informed him he was now an official "Waterfowler." Posted above is a picture of my son and I after the hunt.
Meanwhile, several hundred yards across the field our fellow hunters were slamming the geese from one of our other pits. It seems the snow and ice in the northern regions has driven many hungry geese to the Delaware Bay region and these birds were dropping in like mad on our decoy spreads. Randall, Teddy, Jim and D.J. all bagged geese.
After the hunt we all retired to a local Diner for a huge breakfast and then the "Picking House" to have our birds cleaned for the ride home.
Except for Snow Geese, the Season is now over so we will turn our attentions elsewhere and get the guns cleaned and the Clubhouse battened down.