Mr. & Mrs. Piper Add Another Year – Happy 44th Anniversary!

The secret of a happy marriage is finding the right person. You know they’re right if you love to be with them all the time.  ~ Julia Child
I’d like to give a big shout out to mom and dad, a.k.a. Gigi and pappy.  Today marks their forty-fourth wedding anniversary!  They were married in 1969 at Sacred Heart Church in Youngstown, Pennsylvania.

Mom & dad in Germany in the early 1970s. The caption read at Carol & Lynn’s Party … looked like they had a good time!

Besides my parents getting married, which six years later became my birthday, what else was going on in 1969?  According to Google, Wikipedia and all other “reliable” internet sources, 1969 was a full year.
  • Richard Nixon was our 37th president
  • 1st man landed on the moon on the Apollo 11 mission by the United States – Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin – 1st humans to set foot on the moon
  • In August, more than a half a million people gathered in the small town of Bethel, in upstate New York better known as Woodstock
  • 250,000 marched on Washington in protest against the Vietnam War
  • The US institutes the draft lottery to determine draft into US Forces for Vietnam War (dad just signed up for the Army)
  • The very 1st United States troop, withdrawals are made from Vietnam
  • The FCC banned all cigarette advertising on television and radio (good thing!)
  • Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) established
  • Top movies included Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Wild Bunch and Easy Rider
  • One of the top books was Mario Puzo’s Godfather
  • On August 9th, members of a cult led by Charles Manson murder 5 people (I read the book Helter Skelter a couple of times, scary interesting)
  • Hurricane Camille hits the Mississippi coast killing 248 people
  • Militant black students at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York use force to take over Willard Straight Hall demanding a black studies program
  • Cost of new house $15,550.00
  • Average income per year $8,550.00
  • Average monthly rent $135.00
  • Average cost new car $3,270.00
  • Gas per gallon $.35  (That’s a huge change at about $3.45 per gallon now)

Me (4 yrs old) in my cute little Christmas outfit. Check out the plastic clip on earrings! Dad was holding Ryan (3yrs old) & Nicole (6 yrs old), like usual was cut off from the picture. We were at gram & paps house on the ridge. 1979


Yes, on the exact same day only six years later on December 12th, in 1975 I was born.  I guess it’s no surprise that I really enjoy winter and the snow, after all I came into this world with that as my backdrop.  At this point mom and dad moved back to the United States after living in Germany for two years while dad was in the Army.  They lived in the same house that my grandpap Chester built, the same one they live in, to this very day.  What else was going on in 1975?

  • Vietnam War ends as Communist forces take Saigon and South Vietnam surrenders unconditionally
  • The United States carries out Vietnam “Operation Babylift” bringing Vietnamese orphans to the US
  • The United States pulls out of Cambodia
  • New York City avoids bankruptcy when President Gerald R. Ford signed a $2.3 billion loan
  • The unemployment rate in the US reaches 9.2% and recession is recognized by President Ford
  • Jimmy Hoffa (ex teamsters boss) disappears never to be seen again
  • Patti Hearst becomes most wanted and is arrested for armed robbery
  • Margaret Thatcher defeats Edward Heath for the leadership of the opposition UK Conservative Party (Thatcher was 49 and Britain’s 1st female leader of any political party)
  • Average cost of new house $39,300.00
  • Average income per year $14,100.00
  • Average monthly rent $200.00
  • Average cost new car $4,250.00
  • Cost of a gallon of gas $.44 (an so the spiking gas prices begins)
  • The UK implements the Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Act
  • Construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System begins
  • Bill Gates and Paul Allen develop a BASIC program for the Altair 8800
  • Motorolla obtains patent for the first portable mobile phone
  • The name “Micro-soft” (for microcomputer software) and Microsoft becomes a registered trademark
  • Sony introduces Betamax videotapes and Matsushita / JVC introduce VHS
  • Cray-1, the first commercially developed supercomputer, invented by Seymour Cray
  • Volkswagen introduces the Golf
  • Wal-Mart incorporates as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc
  • Charlie Chaplin is knighted by Elizabeth II
  • The Rocky Horror Show opens on Broadway in New York City
posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,News,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

Loyal Traveling Television

When I got my first television set, I stopped caring so much about having close relationships.  ~Andy Warhol

With Christmas behind us, many people are putting their new gifts to use, especially the electronics.  This year, my sister got me the iPad3 with retina Display.  Boy was I surprised!  I didn’t expect that at all, and a really gracious gift it was.

Ryan & Aunt Heather Piper with old TV

Me & Ryan with Ryan’s “new” TV- not my sister’s.  He eventually blew it up when he decided to take it apart to see how it worked, he forgot to unplug it.  1980’s

While I was online reviewing accessories for my new toy, I got into talking to my friend Kelly.  She was helping me pick out the perfect messenger bag for toting my iPad.  I have no idea what made me think of it, but the memory of my sister’s dedicated television set just shot in my mind, no doubt due to the sheer humor of it.  Perhaps this walk down memory lane is so amazing because of the world of disposable goods we live in, but regardless it’s a tale worth sharing.

On the previous thought, let me rant for a few.  Everyone is used to getting rid of what they have for the desire of something new.  Personally, I think that’s a shame in most cases.  What really cracks me up, are those individuals who purchase the items that are old because they are retro and now the trendy thing to have again, when in fact, they probably had the same thing years prior and paid a lot less for it originally.  I will admit I have fallen into this trap a time or two, but for the most part I’m pretty content with what I have and I never feel the need for the newest, or something perceived as better or bigger or flashier or whatever.  I’m a pretty practical person and I love items that will be of use.

As with everything there are exceptions to the rule.  If I had serious loot, I mean Mark Zucherburg moola or Warren Buffett’s checkbook, I would have the grandest of all art collections.  Even though I am simple, I do appreciate the finer things and especially those that represent beauty and history.  A Caspar David Friedrich would certainly be at the top of my list since he is one of my favorite artists.  Admittingly, one of my biggest indulgence wishes would be to own a piece of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelery collection.  I do love jewelery!  Did I mention it’s an investment piece that has longevity?  So in my mind a practical one.  Perhaps that’s the secret formula to my justification of purchases, will it have longevity?  Maybe, but what about items that are not suppose to last for decades, literally?  Again that’s why God made us all different, so we have to rely on one another to survive.  Plus I think it makes the world more interesting.

Now I’m back on track to outline my sister’s loyal TV story.  Way long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, Nicole and I received a color television set for Christmas.  Who’s TV set it really was, I have no idea, but we did get it sometime in elementary school, mid 1980’s.  Back then, it was a special thing to have a color television in our room, at least in our family.  We loved it!  The screen was probably a foot square and maybe 18 inches long with rabbit ears and no remote control.  Believe it or not, it was fresh off of the store shelves and represented a new shiny toy for us.  It meant more than something new, it mean TV freedom!

We only had the one large television set, which resembled a piece of furniture in the house.  It resided in the living-room.  The actual TV set was color, encompassed in a fake wooden box with rabbit ears sticking out of the top.  Only having a single TV unit in the house made watching our choice of shows far and few between.  Not that there was a lot to watch on TV back then, but the evenings were owned by dad.  The shows included the news and I’ve seen every episode of National Geographic and Marty Stouffer!  Reflecting back on it now, I really did enjoy those shows.  I am a big fan of the NATGEO channel, Animal Planet and the History Channel, as is Kyle.  But being young and not having an option, I didn’t welcome such shows into my list of favorites and put my nose up to them.  To not make it sound like we were always chained to undesirable shows, I must give a shout out to Saturday morning cartoons.  That was our time to watch whatever we wanted, up until noon.


Nicole graduates from Penn State with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering 1997

Nicole and I set the TV up on our desk and pointed it toward our twin beds, which ran parallel to the room.  We made sure we both had full access to the small screen while stretching out.  In our minds, this was the life!  We struck gold!  Now in the evenings or anytime mom and dad were watching something we didn’t want to view, we could retreat to our room and change the channel.  The TV was not beneficial when Nicole and I couldn’t agree on anything, but again lucky for us there weren’t a lot of choices.

That TV brought whole new worlds to our small corner of the globe.   Nicole introduced me to Saturday Night Live, she was always a night owl in the summer, perfect timing for the show.  To this day I remember watching Love Connection hosted by Chuck Woolery over our summer vacations.  We loved that show and would take most of the afternoon to plan for it, preparing snacks and making sure the TV was on the channel so we wouldn’t miss a beat.  Before MTV came to fruition, we would watch a music video show that was on late at night, can’t remember the name.  This was as hip as we could get, still about a decade behind everyone else, but we didn’t care.  Sometimes, Ryan would accompany us, pick a bed, and join in on the fun.  That was the perfect rainy day, lazy day, sick day, avoiding work day, gift.

As time passed, the TV would be moved around in our bedroom, but always positioned in plain sight.  That is until we reached senior high school.  Nicole was involved in her activities and I had colorguard, winterguard and my Friday Night Bonkers’ plans.  So no one had time for the now outdated and too small TV, but we always kept it.

Once Nicole went to college, she decided to take the TV with her.  This rejected but once loved piece of electronic, accompanied Nicole for two years at Penn State McKeesport before lugging it all the way up to main campus.  Come to think of it, I believe I was the one who physically moved it.  Then, while at Penn State main, the TV followed her to her different apartments before she graduated in 1997.

After that, Nicole moved home for a brief period, getting a job in her field locally.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when she brought the TV back!  It made a full circle over the course of five years.  I wanted her to get rid of it but she refused and that trusty TV was still working.  At this point that television set was roughly 15 years old!  What name brand?  I have no idea, but I was sincerely impressed.


Mom & Jake… check out the old TV & VCR behind

Then, within a months time, or so, Nicole got a job in Maryland.  Yep, you guessed it, the TV set traveled with her!  Being in shock, that first of all the TV still worked was one thing, but that my sister wanted to haul this outdated television set with her, was another baffling thought all together.  She did, with pride!  Having your first apartment outside of college and your first real job, I get it.  After all she really didn’t have anything, she was basically just starting out her life.

Then Nicole moved to Tucson, Arizona, where she remained for around five years.  Did I mentioned she moved there on a job promotion?  Staying with the same company all that time and making her way up the corporate ladder, Nicole kept her roots.  Let’s take inventory.  TV set still working and with Nicole?  YES!

Now I’m going to fast forward a few years, when Nicole lived and worked in West Virginia before landing to present day Virginia in the D.C. Metro Area.

First Nicole live in a townhouse, where her TV set had a place to call home.  By this time, we’ve all gotten used to this television set, so when visiting Nicole, wherever she resided, we started to look for the TV.  It’s funny but once when mom was talking to Nicole, dad yell out, “Ask her how her TV is doing?”  I cracked up over that comment.  Good one dad!

In recent years, now that we’ve hit the twenty first century and Nicole bought a house, one would think she would have dropped all dead weight, especially since her purchase of a brand new flat screen TV was welcomed in her living-room.  Nope!  Nicole kept that TV around.  But I’m not talking about putting it in storage.  It always had a shelf and was still used!

On my first trip to stay at Nicole’s, after moving into her house, I must say I was completely dumbstruck, as were mom and dad who were with me.  Kyle didn’t seem to think anything of this TV or our confusion.  Nicole seriously had this television set sitting on a shelf in her bedroom.  I was dying!  We all stood around and gazed at it as if we were in a museum and weren’t allowed to touch it.  I swear I saw the TV give us a defiant grin.  If you would have seen me, mom and dad standing there staring at this ancient piece of electronic, which projected entertainment from the eighties, you would have thought we just witnessed a miracle.  Dad even rolled his eyes!  Too funny!  Nicole laughed and showed us how it still worked, although the on/off switch was no longer there so she had to plug it in and unplug it to power off.  It still had the rabbit ears!  Now, that was dedication on my sister’s behalf for keeping this old TV around.

Eventually, the inevitable happened.  We got a call informing us the loyal television set, fired up for the last time and then turned off forever!  Wow, I must say mom and dad got their money’s worth.  That happened a few years ago, so I would have to guess the TV set was about 28 years old when it retired.  Not too shabby!  Maybe we should have given it a proper burial, but at least we always have the memories!

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Patience,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

Remembering 911

Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.  ~ President George W. Bush.

Today marks the 10th Anniversary of 911.  The entire week, leading up to today, was a lot of reminiscing, which I’ve always felt is a great way to keep those who have passed alive in our minds and our hearts.  Everyone seems to remember what they were doing when they heard the United States was under attack.  I was at Seton Hill University (was the college at the time) working on my undergrad.  Informed of the tragedy by a classmate, who was from Bangladesh, I didn’t believe one word of it until I saw the news.  I remember the conversation very clearly.  He said, in broken English, “Did you hear we are under attack from terrorists?”  My response was, “Who is under attack?”  He said, “The United States. They crashed into buildings in New York City, the Pentagon, and somewhere locally.”  In disbelief I said, “I highly doubt terrorists could get close enough to the Pentagon, maybe it was an accident?”  Well, sadly, I was wrong.  I missed the events because I was in an early class while America was blatantly being assaulted and human life was disrespected and discarded.

Made in the United States of America Aunt Heather Piper Seton Hill played the news all throughout the classrooms and hallways, then they promptly dismissed school.  We could have gone to the chapel to pray, however I went straight to my parents house.  You see, my family didn’t live far from Shanksville, especially my brother and my nephew who wasn’t even two months old.  I remember sitting with my mom watching the news.  While we watched the news, I said, “All those poor families. I feel so bad for them!”  My heart didn’t reach out to those who died, not that I didn’t say a prayer for them, but my sorrow rested with the survivors of the deceased.  And when I read that some people lost several family members, I thought, “How horrible!”  I couldn’t imagine losing a close family member so suddenly.

Of course, I reached out to my brother and my sister- dad was at work.  It was a little bit harder getting a hold of my sister.  At the time, she lived in Tucson, Arizona and she worked for Raytheon.  She designs surface to air missiles.  She has worked on the Stealth and who knows what other type of weaponry.  Upon that realization,  I must say, my mind switched gears and became concerned for her.  She was in complete lock down and the security was at full throttle.  I remember telling a friend that if the terrorists decide to mess with my sister, I will personally go overseas and show the terrorists you don’t mess with the Piper’s!

Kyle has asked questions about 911 but of course he doesn’t really grasp the magnitude of what happened and he never will.  I continue to try my best to explain what seemed like a recent event, now a history book entry, to him.  It’s hard to explain just pure hatred for innocent lives.

Everyone has their own tale to tell of that earth shattering day.  I read Karl Rove’s, Laura Bush’s, and George W. Bush’s accounts of 911 in their books.  Very powerful!  I remember how sad of a time it was, yet there was a sense of hope and pride.  I remember driving and really taking notice of all the American flags displayed on vehicles, houses, flying high on flag polls and along buildings.  That was a good safe feeling!  I am very proud of our country.  We are not perfect but, when it counts, we are like family standing up for one another and reaching out to help when we can.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this sadness was a prelude to what was about to happen to my family less than a month later.  That’s when I completely sympathized with the loss of the 911 families.

Student Project Portrays 9/11 Testimony of American Airlines Pilot

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,News,Observation & Imagination,Reminiscing and have No Comments
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