Friday, October 30, 2009

Summer nights at a hometown ballpark

It was opening day at McKechnie Field last spring training and a man gazed at the lineups on the large eraser board above the main stairway.

He talked about how cool it was to see the names of several young Pittsburgh Pirates up there, kids who had played Double-A in Altoona, Pa., his home, and how he looked forward to another season when he returned at spring training’s end.

Summer nights at a hometown ballpark.

I was envious.

But not anymore.

Not after hearing the Pirates plan to buy Sarasota’s Florida State League affiliate.

For more, see Mannix About Mannix on Sunday.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Perils of Halloween candy leftovers

What kind of candy does one buy for Halloween trick or treaters?

Or do you even bother?

Decisions. Decisions.

It's an annual dilemma for some, especially those of us who fear having our houses egged or rolled with toilet paper if we don't come up with the goodies.

A nice neighborhood can get tough just like that.

But it's a pip when you do go all out and nobody shows up.

I remember one year I bought a couple of big bags of Hershey's chocolate kisses.

Figured I'd have a few myself to enjoy, too.

Well, that night I heard trick or treaters cavorting in other parts of the neighborhood, but not mine.

Even went out in the street to wave them down.

A few kids came by and loaded up, but I still had plenty of candy left over when the trick or treating was done.

Don't ask how long it took to finish eating all that chocolate.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Impressive arrivals for SRQ onlookers

One of life's small pleasures is watching jets come and go at SRQ.

The best spot is the gravel lay by just down from 15th Street on the east side of the airport, a stop I usually make after Sunday morning Mass.

If you're lucky, you get a couple of commercial flights out, maybe a couple of executive jets landing.

Monday we got a real thrill, thanks to the White House military support team.

Two huge C-17 Galaxy transports, the largest planes in America's arsenal, landed at SRQ with such a roar it gave you goosebumps.

They were like winged sentinels, alerting the citizenry President Barack Obama would be arriving Tuesday.

A gathering was on hand and one of the numerous onlookers were Jake Kyser and his grandfather, Robert Kyser.

A flying enthusiast, the teen-ager had heard the support team's Marine CH-53 Sea Stallions fly over his neighborhood last weekend.

School was out Monday.

"So we figured we'd take a ride down and see what was going on," the lad said.

"Then all this took place." said his grandfather, a World War II corpsman.

It was quite a show.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Social Security right around corner

True story.

Went to Ed Smith Stadium for a minor league game last year, and noticed a sign at the ticket booth.

Anyone over 55 gets in for $2.

Had that beat by four years.

So I paid my $2 and took the ticket.

Don’t you want to see my ID, I asked the young woman working the ticket booth.

No, she said.


I laugh when I think about it.

Especially today.

It’s the Big 6-0 for yours truly.

Read more in Mannix About Manatee on Sunday.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Days of waiting for the repairman

Awoke Monday morning to what sounded like somebody using an out-of-whack weed whacker.

Geez, at 7:15 a.m.?

Then I realized the noise wasn't coming from a neighbor, but from inside my own kitchen.

The freezer to be exact.

It sounded like fan blades drumming against metal and was about to drive me out of my mind.

Warranty in hand, I called the manufacturer, then punched in all the prompts and numbers before finally getting a live person.

Who asked me how loud was this noise?

Lady, I said, it's so loud I am standing outside my home so I can carry on this conversation.

Then she said, sorry, but the earliest our repairman can get by is Tuesday.


So I stayed with my fiancee Monday night and when I returned Tuesday morning, the noise was still there.

Alas, about 9: 15 a.m., I got one of those robotic phone calls informing me I was next on the list for a visit by the repairman.

Not two minutes later the noise stopped.

Thank you, God.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Woman, weapon, words make point

Don’t depend on the government to protect you, the woman said Tuesday, offering a glimpse inside her purse.

She had a 38 revolver.

A permit, too.

Her reaction to the arrest of Delmer Smith III was emphatic and her words resonated later.

That’s when we learned the FBI possessed the rape and home invasion suspect’s DNA since his 2008 imprisonment and never entered it in their national database because of a backlog at the FBI lab.

A backlog of more than 250,000 cases!

Good grief.

Read more in Mannix About Manatee on Sunday.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fond memory at Dunkin' Donuts

Word that the Dunkin' Donuts on Manatee Avenue West has closed, albeit over a legal dispute, brings back memories.

Good memories.

When I came to Bradenton in 1998, Ken Vogler had the franchise on First Street, not far from the Herald, and then he moved to the present location, 5605 Manatee Ave. W.

He later added the store at 5635 14th Street West.

It was Ken's store on Manatee Avenue West store that was a regular stop for me on the way to work when I lived on Anna Maria Island and later northwest Bradenton.

Coffee. Donuts. Good conversation.

Ken wasn't just a donut shop owner, but a swell friend.

I miss him.

He sold the business a few years ago and, along with his wife, moved to the beautiful northwest, where he made crazy money working on the dismantling of the decommissioned nuclear production complex in Hanford, Wash.

The Dunkin' Donuts corporation said it hopes to reopen both stores under new management.

It's too bad Ken Vogler isn't part of the conversation, picking up where he left off.

That'd be like old times.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bradenton's virtues music to our ears

That Bradenton finished first in a recent Knight Foundation poll, surveying which communities felt most attached to their city, was music to Jane Tjornhom's ears.

A couple of years ago she penned, "Lovely Bradenton," extolling its virtues.

"Every city should have a song and we have one!" Tjornhom wrote. "It's a lovely melody, very singable and needs to be used at many occasions."

Here are the lyrics:

"You can travel East or West or North or South, but the place that's best is friendly lovely Bradenton.

"It's great to be in lovely Bradenton where it's so beautiful the whole year through.

"Beaches and sun --- community fun are here for you.

"It's great to be in lovely Bradenton where there is art and culture all year 'round.

"Come for a day and you'll want to stay in our fine town.

"Restaurants and shows where everyone goes are everywhere.

"Concerts and jazz relax you and take each care away.

"It's great to be in lovely Bradenton whre you make friends with nice folks just like you.

"Where's No. 1? Right here in lovely Bradenton."

Friday, October 2, 2009

YouTube fight hardly entertainment

Standing up to a bully is never easy.

We’ve all been there as kids and taken our lumps.

They were just never broadcast over the Internet.

Which is what happened the night of Sept. 25 to a local 13-year-old boy.

He’d been bullied and had enough, he told Manatee County Sheriff’s deputies.

So he went to fight one boy in a parking lot at the Lakewood Ranch YMCA.

Only it turned out to be an ambush, authorities said.

Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Campaign fliers can't feed hunger

When I got home Wednesday evening, I found two Bradenton city council campaign fliers in my mail box.

As I put my key in the front door, there was a door hanger for pizza delivery.

Maybe it's just me, but I found it an amusing coincidence.

I eventually sat down and glanced at the fliers.

The first extolled the incumbent's accomplishments on dealing with crime, taxes and rejuvenating Bradenton.

The second extolled the other incumbent's volunteerism and commitment to his neighborhood and the community's infrastructure.

Neither swayed me, or told me anything I hadn't heard before.

So I tossed them aside and picked up the door hanger.

Now that connected with me.

I was hungry, there was a ballgame coming on, and pizza sounded real nice.

Hello, Papa John's?