My New Title … Band Chaperon

Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge, fitter to bruise than polish.  ~Anne Bradstreet

Close up Kyle Kiski Marching Band 10-23-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Close up of Kyle playing his sousaphone during their show (Origins) 10/23/15

I’ve always been involved with Kyle in some fashion or another, on all aspects of his life.  Was this a requirement for being Kyle’s Aunt Heather?  Well, no, but in good conscience, yes.  That was my choice made the day Kyle was born. (Honestly, I probably made that decision before then, when I saw the joy in Ryan’s eyes upon the anticipation of his son.)  Regardless, some of my influences and involvement have been necessary.  I always wanted to support Kyle in his interests, activities and friends, as well as his scholastic goals, his physical fitness, and most importantly his spiritual well-being.  For no other reason than for him, not for my own pride, my personal gain or anything of the such.  Being directly involved was the way I knew how to make this happen.

A few weeks ago, I received an email asking me to chaperon a Friday night football game for the band, and a Saturday night band competition.  Apparently, there was a last minute cancellation from a chaperon due to an injury.  Would I accept the challenge?  Of course!  Actually, I was beyond excited.  Okay, perhaps I do have a little bit of personal gain in volunteering.  What do I get out it?  I not only get to assist, but I also receive the opportunity to see Kyle grow as a young man, and experience his happiness while doing something he loves and he’s proud of.  That’s what makes it worth it.

Did Kyle know I was chaperoning?  Nope.  On my defense, neither did I until two days prior.  I would have called Kyle to give him a heads up, but he was still going through this phase of not answering my text messages or my calls, so I thought the heck with him, he’ll see me when he does.

Kyle & his tube line Kiski 10-23-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle with his sousaphone line. Their show is called Origins 10/23/15

Was Kyle happy?  Not in the slightest.  It was a quick reminder those days of volunteering for the PTA, and participating in Santa’s workshop were over.  Those were the good old days when Kyle would see me way down the hall in school, and he’d wave in desperation to get my attention.  The days he actually would tell parents, students, teachers, everyone, I was his Aunt Heather, and was proud of it.  The days he wanted to hang with me, and loved my involvement.  Yep, while lining up to get ready for the parade prior to the game, I was reminded those days are long gone.

While the kids were arriving and putting the final touches on their uniforms, they retreated into smaller groups to practice.  I was geared in my own Band Chaperon embroidered shirt.  On a side note, this is how much I love Kyle.  The shirts are canary yellow.  Yellow!  Anyone who knows me, is aware of my aversion, actually my revulsion for yellow.  The school colors are blue and yellow, and I get why they chose the less desirable color because we stand out for the students, but yuck!  Anyway, I never saw Kyle during all the confusion, that is until he was sporting his sousaphone.  How could anyone miss that instrument?

Kyle Kiski Marching Band 10-23-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle’s Marching Band performance – Origins 10/23/15

Surprisingly, I knew one of the band parents from the PTA.  In fact, she brought Kyle along with her son and another student.  She told me she asked Kyle if I was chaperoning on Saturday, seeing my name on the list.  Kyle’s response?  “I don’t know.”  That’s my little man.

Did I talk to Kyle?  Of course, who couldn’t resist?  Not wanting to make the night miserable for my sousaphone player, I kept my distance, but I had to acknowledge him at least once.  Upon setting up in formation for the parade, (the band marched through town to the football stadium), I nudged his arm to say hello.  Naturally, I was sporting a huge stupid grin.  Kyle on the other hand looked confused and almost disgusted.  Whatever.  I was there not only to support him, but his fellow band members.  I had a job to do!

I kept my promise to myself, and never called Kyle out, nor did I infringe on his personal space.  Although, while we (the band parents) were passing out water to the students, Kyle tried to dodge past me.  He literally ducked and weaved.  I never saw such fancy footwork from that kid!  Okay, now my maturity surfaced.  I instantly leaned in his direction, to get his attention and said, “Kyle, don’t you need water?  Kyle! KYLE!”  That brought a huge smile to my face, as well as to a few students witnessing such a strange exchange.  Kyle wouldn’t look up, he only shook his head and darted past me.  Am I that repulsive?

Kyle during Kiski Marching Band performance 10-23-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle’s kneeling in position during the Kiski Marching Band show (Origins) 10/23/15

Throughout the night, some of the other parents commented, that they couldn’t believe what a cold shoulder Kyle was giving me.  I just shrugged and laughed it off.

The Saturday band competition was much of the same.  The only difference, I was preoccupied helping out and Kyle, as well as the other students, were feeling the stress and anxiety of competition.  It was a horribly rainy day and night.  While standing in our rain gear, getting organized, I turned around to find I was in close proximity to Kyle the entire time!  I had no idea, and I know he didn’t either, since my rain hood was up and I was wearing a YELLOW band raincoat.  I wanted to say “Hi'” and leave it at that, but Kyle’s evasive demeanor pushed me to be a stinker.  Again, I couldn’t help myself.  I suddenly felt a desire to be irritating.

What did I do?  Nothing terrible, at least not in my eyes.  Standing beside Kyle was his fellow tuba player.  I simply said hello to him, and he responded with a very polite hello back, albeit a little confused.  I continued, “I’m Kyle’s Aunt Heather.”  Kyle’s face was priceless.  He started to laugh and look away, trying to escape the situation he knew was going to happen.  I continued, “I’m Kyle’s really cool Aunt, even though he doesn’t know it and won’t admit to it.”  Now the boy was flashing looks between Kyle and myself, wearing the biggest grin, mimicking my facial expression.  He was such a nice kid, he only said, “Yeah, everyone has a cool Aunt.”  Taking that as my cue, I replied, “Yeah!  That’s me!”  We laughed for a few seconds before moving along.  I figured my job was complete.  Kyle kept his face turned away from us, probably rolling his eyes.

Kyle playing Marching Band 10-23-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Kiski Marching Band Show – Origins. Kyle playing during the show 10/23/15

Did Kyle ever mention that exchange to me again?  Nope.  And I don’t care, I wanted to be there with Kyle, and that’s that.  I want to help celebrate his wins and support him with his losses.  That’s what family does.

Kiski won first place at the Gateway competition.  Right after the announcement, I searched the crowd for my little man.  Surprisingly, I spotted Kyle among all those similarly dressed students instantly.  He was hugging other students and celebrating their win.  That’s a memory I filed away, for he was truly happy and I was proud of him.

I wanted someone to get a picture of the two of us, Kyle in his band uniform and I in my chaperon shirt, but I didn’t want to push the situation.  Perhaps another time.

I hope I’m called upon to chaperon down the road.  Some of the parents already asked if I could join them for Grand Nationals in Indianapolis.  But alas, I’ll be goose hunting with dad and a few of his friends near Erie.  I was thinking about heading out to Indiana after we were done hunting, but Kiski was scheduled to perform on Friday, the day of the hunt.  Next time.

Kiski Marching Band 10-23-15 Aunt Heather Piper

2015 Kiski Marching Band – Origins 10/23/15

On another side note, I finally was formally introduced to Kyle’s band director.  He sat behind me on the Gold bus.  During our little bit of chitchat, I asked why he moved Kyle from the trumpet to the sousaphone.  He said, “Honestly, Kyle was having a hard time hitting the high notes, but he’s a natural sousaphone player.”  Good to know.  Then, I shared with him, Kyle’s ability to play the piano and somewhat the guitar.  He was surprised, not knowing this information.  I’m not sure why Kyle refuses to admit to his talents, but I took care of that one too.

Kiski Marching Band is pretty stellar.  They also have a great support team, which is so good for the kids.  It’s also nice to see such family involvement.  After the competition on Saturday night, we actually had a police escort all the way back to the school.  Once the buses rounded the bend to the loading dock, the parents were lined up in their cars waiting for our champions.  Illuminating the night, they held up these light spinners, and hoked their horns cheering on the band.  Great support!

Good luck Kiski during Grand Nationals!  You guys are truly talented!

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

Who’s Behind That Sousaphone? – Marching Band

Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.  ~Henry Adams

Kyle with Pap and Scooby 9-20-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Mom got Kyle to pose with his Pap for a picture with Kyle’s Marching Band Metal from Bands of America on 9/19/15, 1st Place! Scooby made his appearance too… 9/20/15

Yes, this isn’t another quote chosen by happenstance.  I thought it only fitting since Kyle loves math and he’s my little teenager trying to be unique.  It’s also a reminder that life is delicate, simple, and yet complex, especially when dealing with a teenager.  I know I’ll never truly know Kyle’s outcome in life, but I do know what I’m desperately trying to teach him, and how I’m leading by example.

It’s no secret Kyle’s always loved music, hence why I started him young, at the age of six to be exact, with piano lessons.  Now as a fiery fourteen-year-old he’s in the marching band.  Honestly, this decision, which was solely his, which rings music to my ears.  I love Kyle’s involvement in the band!  It’s wonderful discipline, a structured social activity, good competition and great cultural exposure with their travels, just to name a few benefits.

Unbeknownst to some, I too was involved in the Greater Latrobe Marching Band for four years.  Granted, I never played an instrument, I was in the Colorguard, but I was apart of a great group of people and I had the best years of my life.  The marching band was my gateway to Winterguard, and in my senior year, I was apart of the Indoor Drumline.

Did I influence Kyle at all?  I’m really not sure.  I know I never pushed him into marching band, but I’ve made comments, mostly about my experiences in the band and how much fun I had.  Perhaps something resonated with Kyle, or he’s more like me than I realize, and we have the same type of interests and enjoy the same activities.  Who knows?  Personally I don’t care.  I’m happy he found something he enjoys.

As you may have guessed, Kyle plays the sousaphone.  What is that?  It’s a form of tuba.  Does he like it?  When asked, he kind of shakes his head and nonchalantly smiles.  I’ve learned in teenage terms, that’s a great big YES.

He’s already gone through band camp, which in everyone’s experience is dreaded, yet favorable in lifelong memories.  It’s hard work but the payoff and benefits are well worth it.

About two Saturday’s ago, September 12th, Mom and I were able to attend Kyle’s home band competition at Kiski.  Sadly, it rained off and on throughout the competition.  Add the bitter cold and it made for a less than favorable evening of band watching.  Did I care?  Not one bit!  It brought back memories of marching through the mud, and being soaked to the bones along with everyone else.  Those are the times that bond a group, believe it or not.  The hard times reveals everyone’s true attitude and nature, and can be the glue that unites a large group.  From what I’ve been told, it’s very similar to being in the armed forces, same basic principle.

Kyle in Kiski Marching Band 9-12-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Our little man, middle sousaphone (tube). Kiski Marching Band home competition. 9/12/15

Competitions were always my favorite.  Football games, I didn’t really care much about, and parades were okay, but what I lived for, besides the travel, were the Saturday night competitions.

Naturally, mom and I arrived early.  We wanted to get a good seat and make sure we didn’t miss anything Kyle was involved in.  We didn’t!  In fact, when entering the football field, we came in on the wrong side and had to cross the field, literally in the grass to get to the other side.  While doing so, Kyle and his group of blue were lined up practicing before us.  What luck!  Boy did that make my day!  Naturally, I stood in front of everyone, yelling, “Kyle!  Kyle!”  Of course, he was in the back and didn’t hear me at first.  Getting the attention of a young lady, I was on a mission to make eye contact with Kyle.  Finally, Kyle looked up and tried not to give me that typical grin.  Was I flailing my arms around and waving them in his direction?  You bet I was!  Subtly, he brought his hand up to give me a little wave, trying to appease me so I’d leave.  My night was complete!  I got to see Kyle and he looked good!

It was great watching the bands again.  I truly enjoyed it.  Some braved the rough terrain and kept to their routines, while others stood and performed for the audience.  Kiski stood and played.  They were the last high school on the field, so I didn’t blame them.  As a whole, they looked and sounded great.

Kyle did not disappoint.  When Kyle wants to, he’ll give his all to being the best that he can possibly be given the task at hand.  I’ve seen in when he was a server (alter boy) in church.  The same precision and intent was portrayed while Kyle was on the field.  I mean he carried himself well, and had the attitude of an competitor.  I was very proud!

This past Saturday was Bands of America in Monroeville.  I was unable to attend since I was administering to a scavenger hunt in Arlington, Virginia for Thrill of the Hunt.  When I got back on Sunday, after I picked Kyle up at the tutor’s, I asked about the event.  Proudly, Kyle told me they took first place and he had a metal to show for it.  I could tell he was very pleased, as he should be.

Good job buddy!  I wish I could have been there to watch and support you!  Next time.  I couldn’t be more proud, and I hope your experiences are rewarding and fun.  Congratulations!

 

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments

Pittsburgh – Night Out in the Big City! Vol. 4

They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.  ~Tom Bodett

Maggie-Aunt-Heather-Piper-Marching-Band-Latrobe-1992-93

Maggie McNeely & me at a football game in Latrobe Stadium, Marching Band. 1992-93

If you’ve been following along with my single most memorable and scary night, in Pittsburgh, as a teenager, you might be saying to yourself, ReallyPittsburgh – A Night Out in the Big City!  Vol. 1, Pittsburgh- Night Out in the Big City! Vol. 2, Pittsburgh – Night Out in the Big City! Vol. 3  All true!  To recap, I took my car into Pittsburgh when I wasn’t allowed, it broke down, I accepted a ride from a homeless man living in his car, who hit a transvestite.  Then, I accepted a ride from a drunk man before the police showed up.  Eventually, with a little help from my metal beret, we got the car working and headed east, back home.  Now the car just died again alongside a very dark highway.  The reason?  The possibility of running out of gas was mentioned.  Can you believe all this happened in one night?

Now a group of teenagers were sitting alongside a highway, in the dark, without a clue to the closest gas station, if that indeed was the reasoning for the most recent issue.  Again, everyone got out of Black Beauty to get some fresh night air.  Plus, I think it made everyone feel like they were helping.  Would you believe during this entire ordeal, no one was mad at me, or seemed upset in the slightest?  Nope, everyone rolled with it and tired to help when possible.  Granted at this point, we’re all a bit tied and frustrated, but no one pointed fingers and blamed me. Now that’s a group of friends!

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Me & Jay Boring hanging out at the Derry band show. c. 1992

Just then, headlights approached us and parked directly behind my car.  What now?  Believe it or not, I remember thinking to myself something along the lines of, Let me guess, an axe murderer, or a serial killer to polish off the night?  I knew once we found our way, and got the car in forward motion, I was tempting fate too much.

Again, not knowing what lurked behind those headlights and not wanting anyone to get hurt, I approached our third stranger of the night.  However, this one didn’t seem to have any issues.  I can’t even remember if it was a guy or a gal, but my vote is with the earlier.  Our nice stranger was a single person that didn’t appear to be drinking, drove a modern car, no beater, dressed casually, and seemed, well, normal!  Can you say Ted Bundy?  Yikes!  I thought we were all dead meat.

And yes, on a side note, I knew exactly who Ted Bundy was and what he did.  For some reason, I was fascinated by that crazy man and followed his case on television, even staying home from school (it was a Tuesday) to watch his execution.  No joke! I still remember watching the spokesperson announce his death.  Personally, I thought I was going to be able to literally watch him die.  I was wrong, and I’m glad for it.

Jeremiah-Tom-at-Eat-n-Park-Marching-Band-1993-94-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Jeremiah, me & Tom at Eat n’ Park after a Marching Band competition or game. 1993-94

Admittedly, my newest stranger was very nice, and offered assistance, without monetary compensation.  For a second time, our group pushed this huge and very heavy car.  My guardian angel must have been still hanging by my side, because the car died at the top of a ramp, leading to a gas station, according to our stranger.  That’s double convenient, near a gas station and it was downhill!  As soon as we moved the car in a little downward motion, we piled back in and was able to coast it, right into the gas station by the pump!  Can you believe our luck?  My car was so old, it was before the days of anti-lock breaks.  I was able to steer it, while the engine was off.  Honestly, it seemed too easy of a solution.  Keep in mind, we really didn’t know if our problem was due to a low fuel tank.

Assuming we were out of gas, I pumped fuel while the nice stranger remained in his vehicle waiting for us.  He never hovered, and made sure he kept his distance.  I paid no mind and felt at ease with this guy, who was probably in his late thirties, early forties.  It also helped, that we were in a very well lit gas station, with a few people coming and going, on a familiar road.  Once I put plenty of gas in the car, it was the moment of truth.  Would it start?

I got in, turned over the ignition and it roared to life!  Can you believe we ran out of gas?  I can!

Marching-Band-Senior-Night-Pirates-of-Penzance-1993-94-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Senior night at Latrobe Stadium. The Marching Band theme… Pirates of Penzance. 1993

Our nice stranger checked in one last time to make sure we were okay.  After our small celebration, we ensured our stranger we’d be fine.  Without accepting my monetary compensation, or my offer to fuel up his car, and without haste, he disappeared into the night, as quietly and stealthy as he appeared.  Literally, it was like he just appeared, and disappeared as quickly.  That was a very odd experience, and that’s saying something considering everything that happened, including seeing a transvestite and hitting him/her with the car.

A little gas did the trick, and the engine was purring.  We continued on our path, increasing the distance from us and our awful night.  The further from Pittsburgh we drove, the closer to Latrobe we came.  Unfortunately, the closer to home, the more frequently the cord would break, forcing us to get out and adjust it again, and again, and again.

Finally, by sunrise, we made it to Vanessa’s house!  No one was happier than I!  Believe it or not, as I pulled into her driveway, the car died one last time.  I left it exactly where it stopped, right in the middle.  No one cared.  We were exhausted.  Slowly, filing out of Black Beauty, everyone swarmed into her living room to feel the comforts of a true safe haven.  Without much conversation and teenage behavior, we crashed, hard.

Vanessa-Vedas-at-Derry-Show-Aunt-Heather-Piper-c.-1992

Vanessa Vadas at a Derry show. c. 1992

Once semi-rested, I called my dad to let him know the car died in Vanessa’s driveway.  He came out, did what I did all night only with electrical tape, and followed me home, where I pulled Black Beauty directly in the garage.  Evidently, it was the ground cord connected to the alternator that was old and rotted.  Dad changed it without haste, and I was back in business within an hour.  That easy?  Yes!

On a side note, dad asked me why there was wax throughout the engine.  I explained we didn’t have a flashlight, but we had candles.  He accepted my explaination without asking anymore questions.  My guess?  He didn’t want to know.  The car was fine, I was home, life was good.

Did I make very stupid decisions?  Yes I did, but we also tried to be the safest with our stupid decisions.  After that night, I realized I have a guardian angel, or a flock of them.  They were definitely working in overtime.  My prayers were answered and no one got hurt or in trouble.  Trouble?  Yes, I was worried about getting in trouble, instead about being abducted or killed or both.  Don’t get me wrong, I worried about those things, but remember, I was a teenager with a strict dad.  So yes, getting busted equaled kidnapping or death.  Did that adventure open my eyes to a world I never knew existed?  Yes, but one I wasn’t ready to accept or experience ever again.

The-Hitchhiker-by-William-DeBernardi-1994-Latrobe-art-collection-Aunt-Heather-Piper

This artwork was purchased my senior year of high school… How ironic it’s called The Hitchhiker by William DeBernardi. It displays a long dark highway… perhaps I associated with the painting. I know it got my vote! 1994

Was my night over?  Not really.  By Monday, I had to return to band camp.  I was in the colorguard.  Did I mention, I left halfway through the day that Friday for the concert, without permission, and without telling anyone.  Why?  I thought no one would notice I was gone.  Well, they did.  When I came back, and I made eye contact with my band director, Mr. Hamill, I knew my agony wasn’t over.  He requested my presence in his office, with the door shut.  That’s never a good sign!  I got an earful.  I didn’t say much, knowing I was clearly in the wrong.  If he actually had a clue of what I went through that night, he would’ve realized that was punishment enough.  I didn’t care, I was happy to be back in safe old Latrobe, doing my thing.

I hope Kyle makes better decisions than I’ve done, especially during his teenage years.  Although, he tends to favor my sister, and not live on the edge.  He’s certainly no risk taker, and still continues to play by the rules, at least at this point in his life, very unlike myself.  He’s a smart kid, and I believe in the foundation I was apart of building.

Was the stress of the night and potential danger worth the story?  You tell me…

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

Sweet Sounds of Music

Where words leave off, music begins.  ~Heinrich Heine

Kyle's-7th-grade-band-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2013

Kyle’s 7th grade band recital. My little trumpet player (yes when he stood up, that clip on tie came to the middle of his chest!) Yikes! 2013

On Sunday Kyle had his youth group Christmas play.  His role?  The light man of course.  Yep!  He stood at the light switch and turned it off and on.  Remember there are no small parts and everyone has a role to play, just like life.  Everyone can’t be the star and in Kyle’s case, over the years he played a shepherd and one of the kings.  He had his fill and wanted to participate backstage.  Nothing wrong with that!  He did a great job!  Even with his not-so-center-0f-stage-role, Kyle attended all the practices and always gave his best.  That’s my buddy, if he’s going to do something, he will give it his all.

As I was sitting there, watching the kids get situated and ready to perform for their parents, a family friend, who was also Kyle’s second grade Sunday school teacher, Mrs. DePalma (Kyle loved her to death!) came over to me to chit chat.  On a side note, Mrs. DePalma is such a sincere, friendly, warmhearted person!  The kind who instantly spreads joy and good cheer to everyone around her.  Knowing her is a true blessing.  Her one daughter Angie, married one of my cousins.  So I guess we are related!

Sacred-Heart-Saint-Cecilia-Youth-Group-Christmas-Play-1-5-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Sacred Heart/Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group Christmas play. Kyle was the lighting technician. 1/5/13

Anyway, as we sat there talking, she informed me that she just talked to Kyle, admitting she drew a blank with his name, as he did with hers.  Too cute!  I’m sure Kyle was thrown off his game, since he always did like and respected Mrs. DePalma, and she gave him the little extra attention he craved.  She asked me what role Kyle was playing and we both giggled a little at our lighting technician.

As we sat there, I noticed they had a keyboard set up to play music throughout the play.  I commented that Kyle could have played a few songs.  Mrs. DePalma was intrigued asking me about his piano playing.  Naturally, like a proud mama (aunt) I told her, “He’s been playing the piano since he was six years old.”  Her eyes perked up and she was really impressed.  So I continued, “Yep, he’s really pretty good.  He doesn’t have the drive to practice at home, but he loves playing with is instructor and in front of family.”  Then, I informed her that he briefly took up the guitar and he plays the trumpet in school.  Of course, I couldn’t stop.  Normally, I don’t like bragging, well that’s not true when it comes to Kyle, but I couldn’t help myself.  Informing Mrs. DePalma that Kyle is in band class at his school, and he tried out and made it for jazz band.  Her face lit up!  And you know what?  It was in all sincerity and pride.  She loves to see kids doing well, not to mention she new Ryan and she knows what Kyle means to us.  (Her daughter Angie, the one I just referred to, was in Ryan’s class all the way from Sacred Heart Elementary School to Greater Latrobe High School graduation).

Kyle-playing-trumpet-7th-grade-jazz-band-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2013

Kyle playing the trumpet for his 7th grade jazz band. (look how short that clip on tie is? YIKES!) 2013

Kyle is musically talented, there is no denying it.  Now, I’m not saying he is a musical genius or a child prodigy, because he’s not.   But he does enjoy music, always has, and he seems to enjoy playing (except when I make him practice).

This past fall, Kyle had a band assembly at his school and mom and I attended.  One another side note, Kyle just expects us to be there at a moments notice.  He called us the day of the event, two hours before hand to be exact, and informed us of the activity.  On Kyle’s defense I guess he told my dad, but that’s like telling Kyle.   No fear, mom and I were there!  It was held in the school’s gym and the seventh and eighth grade students performed as well as their high school marching band.  You know what?  I was quite impressed!

Kyle's-Youth-Group-Christmas-Play-1-5-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Sacred Heart/Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group Christmas play. Kyle handled the lights! 1/5/13

First of all, Kyle had on a nice pressed white button down shirt (sleeves rolled to the elbows), nice dress slacks, black socks, black dress shoes and a black tie.  Mom and I were floored!  He looked so grown up!  The only comment we both made was his tie.  It stopped at the middle of his chest.  Yikes!  It looked ridiculous.  So I made my way down to the horn section to offer assistance with the tie tying, thinking it just needs retied.  Low and behold, it was a clip-on tie!  What?  Ok, no point in making it into a bid deal, especially since the rest of him looked spot on.  As to not break the positive comments toward Kyle, I will not get into our shopping experience during Christmas for a real tie, not a clip-on.  I’ll save that one for a rainy day.

As we left, mom mentioned about buying the kid a nice tie.  Good idea mom!  However, we forgot until his next assembly right before Christmas.  Now it was too late!  This assembly was held in their auditorium and the kids were on stage.  While mom and I got settled in, we read over the program book.  Funny thing.  Kyle’s name had an asterisk by it.   We both looked at each other and at the same time said, “What did he do?” half joking.

Kyl's-7th-grade-jazz-band-2013-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle playing trumpet for his 7th grade jazz band. Look’in good! 2013

Mom and I were front and center, focused on Kyle.  As the program began and we started intently watching the kid.  He did something too comical, not intentionally.  As he started to play, that little man dropped his sheet music and he began to scramble to retrieve it.  Mom and I gave a bit of a chuckle since it was too cute.  Plus, let’s not forget his lack of flexibility reaching for the pieces of paper while sitting and trying not to disturb his neighbors, all while trying to continue to play.   Yep!  He’s definitely my nephew!

After the kids in his grade played a few tunes, they gathered the jazz band to the side of the stage.  Incidentally, the same side mom and I were residing.  Boy we know how to pick our seats!

Kyle completely ignored us the entire way through, which is fine because besides being too cool to have an aunt and a grandmother (Gigi) I know he gets nervous.

Both assemblies were very impressive, especially the marching band for the earlier musical assembly.  It’s funny, we never knew Kyle was in the jazz band.  Now don’t get me wrong, he did a great job!  I could also tell he seemed to enjoy it.  It wasn’t till after his second assembly, did we find out that he had to audition for said activity.  Wow!  That’s great buddy!  Good job!

Kyle-playing-trumpet-jazz-band-7th-grade-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2013

7th grade – Kyle playing the trumpet … looking good, staying focused!   Also looks like that kid is holding onto the sheet music!  2013

Kyle, that kid never ceases to amaze and impress me.  He is also surprising, in all good ways.  Apparently, he is planning on joining the marching band when he’s older.  Being very ecstatic over this comment, I told him I’ll be a band parent (aunt)!  Ya, Kyle just rolled his eyes and was like ‘O boy’.   I ensured him it would be a great time and I’d make it really fun.  Plus, if they don’t do band trips, I’ll help to get those kids traveling.  That didn’t entice him, at ALL!  We’ll see.

I am really happy he found his interest, and that it’s in music!  I hope it’s very rewarding for him!

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

Random Fun Facts: Latrobe, Pennsylvania

Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.  ~Fred Rogers

Aunt-Heather-Piper-Latrobe-Winterguard-c.1990

Me during a Winterguard performance at Latrobe High School. We were wearing yellow ribbons in support of our troops during Desert Storm.  c.1990

Being a Latrobe native, I have a special place in my heart for the city of Latrobe. Actually, let’s face it, I can’t just say I’m from Latrobe, I exude of Latrobe pride. Yep, I am a Latrobean through and through. Some may know Latrobe for the originator of Rolling Rock Beer or being the home of the Steeler Training Camp. But there is so much more to Latrobe, unbeknownst to many, including myself until I started digging.  Since I just recently brought a Thrill of the Hunt Doggie in Disguise? Scavenger Hunt? to Latrobe, here are some fun facts about my hometown.  On a side note, if you get a moment, check out the pictures from the Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt.  They are hilarious!

First let’s start with the pronunciation of Latrobe.  It is correctly pronounced (leɪˈtroʊb), with the “LA”, in front of TROVB.  However, if you are a native to Latrobe you pronounce it (lay-trobe) with a long “A” sound.  Subtle, but a huge noticeable difference.

 Random Fun Facts: Latrobe, Pennsylvania

United States Census Bureau

  • Population was 8,235 (2012)
  • 2.16 persons per household (2007-2011)
  • Land area in square miles – 2.23 (2010)
  • Persons per square mile – 3,600.2 (2010)
  • Situated in the eastern part of Westmoreland County, in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands region

Founding

  • In 1750, recorded of first white man
  • Christopher Gist (surveyor for the Ohio Company) passed through Latrobe
  • In 1765, many owned land in Latrobe including first Congressman to represent Westmoreland County,William Findley
  • In 1851, official founding of Latrobe began when Oliver Barnes (civil engineer for the Pennsylvania Railroad) purchased Thomas Kirk’s 140-acre farm
  • Latrobe was named after Barnes college roommate, Benjamin Latrobe
  • Benjamin Latrobe never set foot in the town
  • 1852 founded by Oliver Barnes, a civil engineer for the Pennsylvania Railroad
  • In May of 1854, Latrobe was officially incorporated
  • In June of 1854, a borough government was established (at a meeting in the home of David Williams, contractor for the Pennsylvania Railroad)
  • Latrobe is named after Barnes best friend & college classmate, Benjamin Latrobe
  • Benjamin Latrobe was a civil engineer for the B&O Railroad
  • Benjamin’s father, Benjamin Henry Latrobe was the architect who rebuilt the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. after the War of 1812
  • Youngstown, Pa. was established more than 50 years before Latrobe (George Washington stayed in the Youngstown Hotel)
  • About 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh
  • Early residents included Delaware, Shawnee, Seneca and Mingoe Indians (fished in the Loyalhanna River)
  • In 1999, declared a city
Latrobe-Pa-Marching-Band-1993-1994-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Greater Latrobe Marching Band (part of) senior night. Yes, the Colorguard were pirates! c. 1993

Originators

  • One of the first in the nation to use Pay-per-Parking app
  • Home of golf legend Arnold Palmer – born & raised
  • Home of Mr. Fred Rogers – born, raised & died
  • Home of the Steelers Training Camp at Saint Vincent College
  • In 1770s, the Unity Chapel was built (Presbyterian)
  • In 1780s, the first Catholic parish was formed
  • In the 1840s, The Benedictine Monks were established in Latrobe
  • In 1852, the Pennsylvania Car Works began building railroad cars
  • In 1900, first Jewish congregation, the Beth Israel was established
  • In 1904, pharmacist David Strickler created the banana split
  • In 1910, Latrobe Area Hospital began with the School of Nursing
  • In 1927, Latrobe Public Library started  (2,500 volumes – 500 books issued first day opened)
  • George Hamilton Adams (freight agent for the Pennsylvania Railroad) left in his will for a new building for the library
  • In 1954, the new library opened named Adams’ Memorial Library in his honor
  • In 1938, Kennametal, global leader of mining and construction tooling, and national leader of metalworking products was established

Even More

  • Latrobe Art Center offers classes for budding artists and exhibits local artists’ work
  • Built in 1903, the Latrobe Train Station (DiSalvo’s Station) functioned as a railroad station up to 1970
  • In the 1980s, the train station was restored and in 1986 was registered as a national historic landmark
  • The DiSalvo family purchased the train station in 1989 – added Italian restaurant
  • Amtrak service is available in the historic landmark train station (houses DiSalvo’s Station- fine Italian restaurant)
  • Westmoreland Scenic Railroad offers a train ride through the Laurel Highlands
  • Today Latrobe Area encompasses the city of Latrobe, Derry and Unity Townships, and the boroughs of Derry, New Alexandria and Youngstown
Christy-Andrea-Aunt-Heather-Piper-Latrobe-Pa-Colorguard-Captains-1993-1994

Christy Queer, Andrea Shafran & Me the Captains of Colorguard/Winterguard our senior year. 1993-1994

Greater Latrobe Schools

  • Students who take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or American College Test (ACT) consistently score above state and national averages
  • Over 80% of graduates go on to post-secondary education (either 2 or 4 year college or trade school)
  • Computer instruction begins in kindergarten
  • All 3 elementary schools are lined into the district-wide network
  • All middle and high school students and faculty members have their own laptops computers lined to building-wide networks by wireless connections (NETSchools)
  • GLSD was the 1st school in Pennsylvania to implement a program of NETSchools initiative – all students have immediate access
  • In 1936, the Special Collection was started by 2 teachers to develop the students’ appreciation for the arts
  • Greater Latrobe Senior High School has the Center for the Student Creativity – designed to integration the arts into education
  • Greater Latrobe Senior High School houses the Special Collection of Greater Latrobe School District (about 200 works of original regional art)

 

As I was holding the Dog Gone!  Scavenger Hunt in New Hope, Kyle and I met up with my cousins Dr. John Olczak and his wife Sherry.  While we were catching up during lunch, John was reliving his undergrad days at Saint Vincent with Kyle.  He also mentioned that his dad, my Uncle Frank and my grandpap Chester, along with all the other brothers, Uncle Tex, Uncle Walter they used to caddy at the Latrobe Country Club.  Now that he said that, I kind of remember hearing about it,  However, what I didn’t know was my grandpap and his brothers were taught to golf by the same man who taught Arnold Palmer.  True story!

Arnold Palmer

  • His childhood home was close to the 6th hole at the Latrobe Country Club
  • His father was the club’s course superintendent & golf professional
  • At 11 years old started caddying
  • By 17 years old won his first 5 West Penn Amateur Championships
  • Attended Wake Forest University then joined the Coast Guard for 3 years
  • Married Winifred (Wini) Waltzer
  • In the fall of 1954 turned golf professional
  • Won 92 championships in professional competitions starting in the 1955 Canadian Open
  • During the 1960s, National Associated Press poll named him the “Athlete of the Decade”
  • Won the Masters Tournament 4 times
  • Won the British Open 2 times
  • Won the U.S. Open once
Marching-in-Latrobe-Parade-c.1991

Marching in the Latrobe Parade… the Colorguard wasn’t so lucky to wear T-shirts & shorts.  Sequins in heat is not pretty!  c. 1991

Mr. Fred Rogers

  • Born in Latrobe in 1928
  • Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was inspired by the streets of Latrobe
  • In 1953, he joined the staff of WQED Pittsburgh (nation’s first community-sponsored educational television station)
  • In 1955, won the Sylvania Award for best locally-produced children’s program “The Children’s Corner” (featured music & puppets)
  • In 1963, ordained as a Presbyterian minister
  • In 1966, debut of “MisteRogers”, became national in 1968
  • Show was renamed Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood so began the famous trolley and “Land of Make Believe” populated by Lady Elaine, Fairchilde, Kind Friday XIII and Henrietta Pussycat
  • Recipient of 2 George Foster Peabody Awards and “Lifetime Achievement” Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the TV Critics Association
  • In 2002, President George W. Bush presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom (nation’s highest civilian honor)
  • Died in February 2003

 

Arnold Palmer Regional Airport

  • Charles B. Carroll, a Scottdale resident would use Saint Vincent Aviation field as a landing (meadow of clover on a hilltop at Saint Vincent College)
  • In 1919, 2 Army Pathfinders made an emergency landing
  • Carroll leased the pasture at the junction of Lincoln Highway and Manito Road (now US Rt. 30 & Rt. 981)
  • In 1924,  Longview Flying Field was open for business
  • Built hangers to house the military army surplus planes
  • The pilots were soon called “Longview Boys” or “Carroll’s Hooligans”
  • In 1926, Longview Flying Field held 4 aricraft – 4th highest in Pennsylvania
  • Longview Flying Field ranked 4th highest in number of flights and 3rd in number of passengers
  • Carroll renamed the field J.D. Hill Airport, 4 years after opening (in honor of his friend who was killed in 1927 during an attempt to cross the Atlantic to Italy
  • In 1935, christened Latrobe Airport after Carroll and Latrobe joined forces to expand runways
  • May 12, 1939, the Latrobe Airport (now Arnold Palmer Regional Airport) hosted the country’s first scheduled airmail pickup
  •  In 1950, the former farmland was formally purchased from the Kerr family by Latrobe Borough
  • Next few years the Tri-County Municipal Authority was formed
  • In 1958, Bruno Ferrari took over management, then became known as the Westmoreland-Latrobe Airport (officially a commercial facility)
  • 20 years later became known as Westmoreland County Airport
  • In 1999, renamed in celebration of Arnold Palmer
  • Today handles about 50,000 aircraft departures and landings each year
  • Runway can accommodate aircraft up to a 727
  • 125 planes are based there (half are for business use and half for recreational use)
  • Amenities include: free parking, flight training (Westmoreland Aviation), aircraft maintenance, car rental, charter service, restaurant (DeNunzio’s), travel agency and gift shop
  • US International Airways maintains a terminal
  • A study by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation found that the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport contributes to $51 million annually to the economics of the surrounding area
Latrobe-Football-Game-Marching-Band-Aunt-Heather-Piper

During a Latrobe football game.. I could never sit there that long without moving around…c. 1993

Football

  • In 1895, John Brallier was one of the earliest football players to openly turn pro
  • Brallier’s compensation was $10 plus expenses when agreed to play for the Latrobe YMCA against Jeannette Athletic Club
  • In 1897, Latrobe Athletic Association was the 1st to field a team made up entirely of paid professional players that played a full season
  • Home of the Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp at Saint Vincent College since 1969 – 3rd longest continuously running site in the National Football League

Rolling Rock Beer

  • In 1939, Rolling Rock began brewing beer by the Latrobe Brewing Company in downtown Latrobe
  • 4.6% abv (alcohol by volume) pale lager
  • Mid 2006 sold to Anheuser-Bush (Moved to Newark, NJ)
  • 7 oz. bottle of beer that became known as a “pony”
  • Number 33 is printed prominently on all bottles of Rolling Rock
  • Many speculation about the number 33
    • The “33” refers to the founding year of the Pittsburgh Steelers
    • 33 degrees is the proper temperature to keep beer
    • Latrobe test-brewed 33 batches of beer before coming up with the final formula for Rolling Rock (which I thought was a recipe from the Saint Vincent Monks)
    • There were exactly 33 stair steps from the brewmaster’s office to the brewing floor in the original Latrobe brewery
    • The PA fish & game commission at the turn of the century numbered the streams within the commonwealth and the water that was used to brew this beer was taken from the stream numbered 33
    • Marked the repeal of prohibition in 1933
    • “33” signifies the 33 words in the beer’s original pledge of quality, which is still printed on every bottle
    • An executive wrote “33” at the end of the slogan, indicating the number of words, to be used as a guide for the bottle printers. Assuming it was part of the text and incorporated it into the label graphics
  • The current pledge is on the 12 oz. bottles, while the “little nip” pledge is from the 7 oz. bottle version

Rolling Rock – From the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe, we tender this premium beer for your enjoyment as a tribute to your good taste. It comes from the mountain springs to you.

—Current pledge written on the Rolling Rock bottle

A little nip from the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe. We tender this package as a premium beer for your delight and economical use. It comes from the mountain springs to you.

—Original pledge written on the Rolling Rock bottle
posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts and have No Comments

Fort Ligonier Days Parade – Marching Down Memory Lane

I look forward to this every year. … It’s always exciting for me. All my family is involved, and we love the bag pipes and parades.  ~Jim McKenzie

Kyle-playing-with-Thomas-the-Tank-Fort-Ligonier-Days-Aunt-Heather-Piper-10-11

Kyle playing with Thomas the Tank at Fort Ligonier Days, Ligonier, Pa. 10/11

Who doesn’t love a good parade?  I certainly do, well maybe without some of the side effects such as traffic congestion, parking issues and herds of people milling around in a small area.  Although it’s always fun to sit and watch the different floats, banners, bands and groups passing by in somewhat of a rhythm.  To be honest, I love seeing what bands are attending the parade and I like checking out their fashion flares, music choices and the quality of the Colorguard.  My old area of expertise!

On Saturday, we went to the annual Fort Ligonier Days Parade.  We’ve been attending this event for as long as I can remember, not ritually every year, but more than not.  I’ve also been taking Kyle since he was a little man sitting in my lap.  Now he requires his own seat, but seems to enjoy the parade the same.

Some years Fort Ligonier Days Weekend was so cold we needed blankets, hats, gloves and long underwear when sitting there watching the parade.  While, other years, it rained and yet some have been perfect fall days.  This past weekend God blessed us with such superb  weather!  It was sunny, mild temperature, blue skies with white fluffy clouds.  That made it more enjoyable.  I guess I wasn’t the only one who thought so, because people came out in the masses.

Anyone who has attended the parade knows, you have to place your chairs out the night before, which we always do.  Usually they are covered with trash bags to keep the rain off of them, as we did on Friday night.  Leading up to the weekend, it rained and was cold and dreary, so it was a nice surprise when the sun made its way out to greet the weekend participants.  Even when we were setting up our chairs, I believe go time was at 6:00 pm, it was drizzling.  You see there’s a specific time chairs are permitted to stake claim to small areas of the sidewalk in Ligonier, in preparation for the next day’s parade.  They don’t mess around and they mean it too!

It’s no secret I marched in the Fort Ligonier Days Parade for four years in a row during my high school days.  I was never a big fan of participating in parades, probably because most of them were hot and boring, but I will admit I loved the Fort Ligonier Days parade.  It was never really too warm or sunny.  To be honest, I didn’t mind the cold and being in the Laurel Mountains in the fall is such a pretty time of the year.  The trees show such vibrant colors everywhere, it’s like being Mary Poppins and entering your very own painting, not to mention Ligonier is so quaint and nostalgic.  Who wouldn’t love spending a day in those parts of the woods?

Kyle-eating-his-caramel-apple-at-Fort-Ligonier-Days-Aunt-Heather-Piper-10-12-13

Kyle finally got his caramel apple at Fort Ligonier Days. He was happy! Ligonier, Pa. 10/12/13

As the parade passed us along, mom and I would make comments to Kyle like, “There goes Kyle!” as the trumpet section passed.  Kyle is starting to show interest in participating in the marching band, just like I did.  Well, I was part of the Colorguard and Kyle plays the trumpet, among the piano and guitar (kinda), but regardless, I have been encouraging this interest.  Participating in the Colorguard, Winterguard and the Indoor Drumline gave me my fondest memories and adventures of my high school years.  I really truly mean that!

Kyle’s reaction to our said comments and encouragement?  He started saying, “Ya that’s hard twirling a stick!”  He is such a little stinker!  Razzing me like that!  I made him eat his words when some of the Colorguard showed off their skills right in front of us by doing tosses, spins and such.  Thank you ladies!  Your timing was perfect!  He was certainly amazed over West Virginia University’s Colorguard, as was I!  Nice job!

I didn’t take Kyle down to the Fort this year because it was so terribly crowded and I can only handle crowds for so long, before my complete claustrophobia settles in and my patience runs low.  Kyle went on a field trip to the Fort a few years ago for school, so it’s not like he was missing out on anything.  I’ve been in the Fort a few times, mostly when I was a youngster with my family.  I remembered me and Ryan really getting a kick out of the whole place, including those dressed up like Native Americans.

True story, dad and my cousin Merle cut down and hauled in the logs whenever they renovated the Fort years ago, long before I was around.  So in a way dad helped out with rebuilding history in our very own backyard.  Too cool!  We’ve told Kyle that story a couple of times over the years.  He loves hearing it and I know he feels the same pride as I do.

As we were sitting there watching the parade pass, it dawned on me, Hempfield Marching Band was probably among the mix.  Why was that so important?  Kyle’s piano teacher was student teaching at the high school and he was assisting with their marching band.  As my revelation occurred to me, I mentioned it to Kyle and his face lit up!  He couldn’t wait to see his teacher.  And sure enough, as Hempfield passed, I looked up the street to the endless line of marching band members and I saw his teacher in full suit marching along side his students.  He was on the same side as us too!  What luck!  I pointed him out and Kyle began waving like a little manic trying to catch his attention.  Did he?  You bet!  David flashed Kyle an ‘I know you’ smile, which made Kyle’s day even more complete!

Kyle-at-Fort-Ligonier-Days-Idaho-Potato-Tour-Aunt-Heather-Piper-10-12-13

Kyle in front of the Idaho Potato truck. Yep, that’s a sculpture of a really large potato on the back of the truck! Fort Ligonier Days, Ligonier, Pa. 10/12/13

Obviously, there is more to Fort Ligonier Day’s besides the parade.  A few years ago when we were walking around another perfect day at the Fort Ligonier festivities, Kyle and I stumbled upon a huge, almost life size chess set, set-up outside one of the toy stores in town.  At that point, Kyle had already fell in love with the thought provoking and strategic game.  Naturally, he kicked my butt.

As I’ve always said, Kyle remembers EVERYTHING.  On Kyle’s agenda this year?  Yes you guessed it, the giant chess set!  He even did a little recon mission while using the restroom facilities during the parade to find exactly where the chess set was located.  That kid cracks me up!  Did we play a mean game of chess?  Nope!  There were others playing at the time of our arrival, not having any patience, I didn’t want to wait for the girls to complete their game.  Kyle was miffed.  It brought on the whines and the pouting.  I guess I really moved his cheese, but mom was waiting for us and I didn’t want her sitting there all day.  How did I make up for this disappointment?  I promised to play him chess at home.  He told me, “I can’t wait to tell you checkmate!”  Told you, he’s such a stinker!  And he did!

The only part of the tradition that did not make it into the day was the kettle corn.  Yes, we always manage to get a large bag of homemade kettle corn for the road.  This year, we truly couldn’t find the kettle corn stand among the crowds of warm bodies.  I also really didn’t feel like squeezing through people with a whinny disappointed kid.  So no kettle corn, but we certainly survived.

While hauling around our stuff, I couldn’t help but reflect on Kyle’s book.  Yes, Kyle made haste and was using his time wisely before the parade with a good book, as was I.  His chosen reading material?  The second book in the Divergent series, Insurgent by Veronica Roth.  Mine?  Lord of the Rings The Two Towers.  I already read both of the Divergent books and on another side note, I seriously can’t wait for the third and final installment, Allegiant.  Same goes for Kyle!

I remember years ago, when I was completely addicted to the Twilight books I was reading New Moon and I truly didn’t want to put it down, not even for the parade.  While sitting there some lady turned to me and said, “Wow, you are really into that book!  It must be really good?”  It was!  I could have continued with my face in the pages until completion if I didn’t have a little man sitting in my lap telling me different.  Now he was in the same boat I was in, totally addicted to the words on the pages.  That’s the chip off the old block!

Yep, it’s funny how one parade has such great memories and continues to build upon those year after year.  I do enjoy walking around and seeing all the crafts and art and such.  I mean Kyle even chose to go to the Fort Ligonier Days Parade instead of waiting for Game Stop to open to get his pre-ordered Pokemon video game.  Good choice buddy!

Can’t wait for next year!

On a side note, I totally forgot my trusty phone during the parade.  Yep, therefore I got no pics or video.  Total bummer!  Kind of out of my nature, yet, totally something I would do, and did!

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing and have No Comments
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