This year, 2011, is the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 race and Southport resident Jerry Graybill has shared the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for a full two-thirds of those 100 years. The first race he attended was in 1946 at the age of 8. “I haven’t missed one since,” Graybill said.
His 66-year attendance at the Indianapolis 500 race on Memorial Day weekend is more than just a routine, it grew from a passion about the racing life.
“Speedway was like 30 days of Christmas during May,” Graybill explains. “I wanted to be a race car driver when I was a kid so bad I couldn’t sleep at night,” he admits. “To a great degree, nearly every activity that we were involved with or attended in May centered on the 500-mile race.”
How did it all start? Graybill was born in 1938, the day his family moved into the Speedway house he would call home until 1958. And, as Realtors always say, location, location, location. “I lived on 13th Street in the center of Speedway and everything around was racing,” Graybill remarked.
Before being interested in the 500, Graybill’s parents were good friends with the parents of Leroy Warriner. A prolific racer here and in Australia, Warriner raced mostly midgets and they followed his career. The 1988 inductee into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame’s list of accomplishments includes winning the first “Night Before the 500” Midget Race in 1946 and then again in 1950. He also won the AAA National Midget Championship in 1953 and the Indiana Indoor Championship in 1959.
“When I was a kid, they didn’t put racecar drivers up in motels,” Graybill said. “They went door-to-door looking for a sleeping room. We rented rooms to the Parsons family, Johnnie was the 1950 500 winner, Jack McGrath, who was a top qualifier and Dwayne Carter and his family. Carter was the national sprint car champ in 1950.”
Sharing your home with racers is exciting, but has it’s heartbreaks as well. “Our enthusiasm for racing continued up to 1955 when Jack McGrath was killed in Phoenix,” Graybill recalled. “He had become like part of our family and my parents decided they didn’t want to go through the hurt and pain again. They didn’t rent any more rooms out to drivers after that.”
Even though he no longer would share his home with his racing heroes, the experiences and memories of the years spent mingling with the racing community are still fresh and precious for Graybill.
He said drivers and their families would come early in May and stay until the end of the season. Their children would attend Speedway schools. The families would become neighbors with the residents and just part of the community – sharing cookouts in the evenings and their lives.
“Speedway was so small. It was very common to see race drivers, their families and other celebrities in the restaurants, at the barbershop and buying toothpaste in the drugstores,” Graybill remembers.
In Graybill’s youth, the drivers worked on their own cars as their own chief mechanics. “Jack McGrath, who lived with us, was an accomplished wrench-turner,” he said. “There used to be a garage behind Main Street called Kepler’s Garage and that’s where many of the drivers kept their race cars – midgets, sprint cars and stock cars – to work on them. That was a hub for drivers to congregate.”
Lives intermingled and Graybill would child-sit the driver’s children, like Joanie Parsons, Johnny Parsons, Jr. and Pancho Carter in the in-field. He would also go with the families when they would go to other tracks around the state to race.
“Sometimes playing basketball in the driveway, Billy Vuckovich would walk by on the alleys to the track,” Graybill said, “He was a very shy man and wouldn’t walk the sidewalks or streets going to the track.”
“I went to practice prior to qualifications nearly every day and I went to all four qualifications,” Graybill said, “We’d ride our bikes and crawl over the fence to eat wild strawberries – until the guards would chase us out.”
“Jimmy Jackson, Jr. (son of Jimmy Jackson, second place in the 1946 500 race) and I used to play tag in the pagoda and many times the only other people in the pagoda were the timing people in the top floor,” Graybill shared. “It was a very relaxed atmosphere. It was easy to go anyplace you wanted to at the track with pit passes and it wasn’t as difficult to obtain them as it is now.”
Graybill’s home was a hub for racing wives and his mother would go to the track during practice and qualifying with them. When To Please a Lady with Barbara Stanwick and Clark Gable was being filmed at the track in 1950, the group of wives, including Mrs. Graybill, were paid $5 and a box lunch to be the crowd behind the fence when Clark Gable zoomed into the pitbox.
Through the years the number of people attending grew and in order to control the crowds, the restrictions at the track became necessary opines Graybill. He said he thinks that generated even more enthusiasm.
“When we started attending the 500 mile race in 1946,” Graybill said, “the demand for seating was not so great that you could not get a ticket for a seat where you wanted to sit for the race.” He said his father ordered tickets for seats from different vantage points around the track until they settled on seats in Stand B right across from the pit exit, four rows from the top when he was about 18-years-old. They decided that would be where they wanted to see every 500 mile race from then on and that’s where he still sits on race day every year.
“Many of the people that sit around us also continue to show up every year,” Graybill said.”I usually take the order blank and check with me to the race for the next year and drop it off then.”
“I don’t personally know more than just a few in the racing community anymore, so I am now strictly a fan instead of part of the racing community,” Graybill said. “There are new generations in the pit and paddock.”
This year, 2011, is the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 race and Southport resident Jerry Graybill has shared the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for a full two-thirds of those 100 years. The first race he attended was in 1946 at the age of 8. “I haven’t missed one since,” Graybill said.
10. I have a home, a wife, family and friends. I never made it as a movie star, astronaut or cowboy. I’m still hoping for that professional wrestling career.
9. I was just across the street when they knocked down Greenwood’s old Isom Elementary School building. I remember feeling the ground shake when the east wall was toppled. I never attended school there but the memory has always haunted me … somedays I still feel its echoing rumble.
8. My children hate watching remakes of old TV shows with me because I point out the mistakes.
7. My grandfather and great-grandfather smoked a pipe. They could sit for hours just puffing away. I finally figured out why: Nobody is going to ask you to move around a lot when you have a wooden bowl full of burning embers balanced between your teeth.
6. I’ve grown to like broccoli and spinach. Brussel sprouts are still yucky.
5. My children are grown and capable of buying their own hair products but my genes are still to be blamed for hair that is too thick, too dark, too curly, too straight …
4. I can spell the word “brilliantine” because of Southport’s Mark Ogle and the 1975 National Spelling Bee Championships. It’s one of those bits of trivia I keep tucked away.
3. Mrs. Dyer was my first grade teacher at Break O’ Day School. She never paddled kids. She would instead grab them by the shoulders and shake them. I got shaken a lot. That might explain a few of my stranger thoughts.
2. When I was born I was very sick and the folks at Johnson County Hospital bundled me up, laid me on the seat of my father’s Rambler and had him drive me to St. Vincent’s Hospital. Now they helicopter the babies in. Somebody owes me a helicopter ride.
1. I have been paying in to my Social Security for over 40 years. I have to pay another 30-some years to get my full benefits. I think Spiderman comic books would have been a better investment.
When we were kids, my brother and sister and I had a pet squirrel named “Filbert.” Well, “pet” is a bit of an overstatement. He lived in the tree behind our house and came to the back door to get the nuts we left for him.
While he may not have been a pet, it was my first positive interaction with a squirrel. It was also my last positive interaction with a squirrel. (I’m not counting squirrel hunting, which I used to do a lot of.
Although it might have been a positive interaction for me – I love fried squirrel – I am pretty sure the squirrels did not see it that way.)
Anyway, I haven’t buddied up to Sciurus niger since Filbert, and this year is no exception. Once again, I find myself at odds with the neighborhood squirrels over a long standing dispute over who REALLY owns the bird feeder.
First, you should understand that this is strictly between me and the squirrels. The birds have long since been cut out of the deal.
Second, you should understand that anyone who says he has a squirrel-proof bird feeder is a lying sack of sunflower seeds. The squirrel-proof bird feeder is a fraud, like El Dorado or the Fountain of Youth or, to use a more recent example, that May 21 Rapture. In fact, the last one double qualifies because it was not only a fraud, but the people who fell for it all seemed a bit squirrelly.
But back to the feeder. Over the years I have bought every squirrel-proof bird feeder on the market, and over the years the squirrels have gotten fat at my expense.
Out of necessity, I have even taken to “improving” the feeders. For example, I bought a feeder that had a locking door on the top of the bin and a feeder bar that would close the trough if touched by anything heavier than a chickadee. It took one day for the squirrels to figure out how to get seed without touching the bar, two to open the top.
I wrapped the lid down tight with not one, not two, but three bungee cords. Two days later the squirrels were bungee jumping off the top of the garage.
Now, what happened next may or may not be true. It’s quite possible I was hallucinating at the time.
Frustration will do that to you.
I bought six feet of stainless steel chain, wrapped it around the bird feeder and secured it with a combination padlock. Three hours later I went out on the deck with a cup of tea and saw a squirrel twirling the knob with a look of intense concentration on his face and a tiny stethoscope in his ears.
Hallucination or not, that’s when I decided to just give up. The squirrels weren’t too happy about it but they haven’t lost any weight, so I don’t think they’re suffering.
Which, in a way, gets me back to Filbert. Oh, he didn’t suffer. But when Dad got cute and tried to hand feed him, Filbert bit him right on the index finger. He had to get stitches and a shot. He suffered. It was anything but a positive interaction.
And I think that’s why he never said no when I asked to go squirrel hunting.
Hearing “Welcome to McDonald’s. May I take your order?” may soon become a thing of the past.
Last week it was announced that McDonald’s is installing thousands of self-service kiosks in some of its European restaurants. The company is testing these machines, which have been in the works for years and have the capability to take orders and payments.
Nearly everything this corporation does has been golden, like its arches. It continually makes right move after right move, but having spent a few years managing at multiple McDonald’s, the move in this direction left me scratching my head.
Clearly, the decision was made by McExecutives who haven’t spent much – if any – time in the company’s drive-thrus taking orders.
The transition from 16-year-old cashiers to touch-screen monitors would save millions in labor costs. That’s a given. But the kiosks also are expected to make the ordering process simpler, quicker and more accurate.
That’s the part that makes me think Grimace concocted this idea.
I was hired at McDonald’s when I was 16 years old, was made a manager after six months and ran shifts at two different restaurants until my sophomore year of college. It’s safe to say, that I took thousands of orders during that time span, and from that experience, I feel pretty comfortable saying that fast food patrons are not ready to submit their own orders.
I’m not saying they are unable to do it, that there is some sort of special skill involved in entering in an order for a “Number 2 without mustard.” Punching in an order is not difficult in itself, but letting customers do it on their own is not a move that will boost efficiency.
McDonald’s has perhaps the best-known menu in the world. It rarely, if ever, makes changes to its core items and heavily advertises its new ones. On top of that, most of the restaurant’s patrons are repeat customers, meaning they know what they like and what to expect. You’d think all of that should result in speedy order taking. You’d be wrong.
For every customer who orders the same thing every time, I would take orders from just as many, or more, whose indecisiveness would hold up a line 15 people deep. It was often as if some of them had never seen nor heard of a McDonald’s, because they needed a full two or three minutes to inspect the menu of this apparent start-up restaurant. They’d put no thought into their orders until it was their turn to tell me, and some would even wait until this time to make a phone call and ask his or her entire family for its selections.
In many cases, if we weren’t moving as quickly as usual, it was a customer or two who was holding us up. They didn’t know what they wanted, didn’t know how they wanted it and didn’t have payment handy, either.
McDonald’s system is nearly flawless and most are always adequately staffed and trained. People often like to blame the young adults working there when things don’t go smoothly. Sometimes they deserve it, but customers can – and do – cause hiccups just as often.
Now, the company may take that common occurrence and add to it the delays that will inevitably occur from customers learning ordering systems on the fly. If your order has ever been taken by a cashier who’s clearly new to the job, you know what I mean.
Given my experiences both working at fast food restaurants and standing in their lines, I have trouble seeing this as a good idea. Speed and simplicity is the name of the game, and while unmanned kiosks may save a lot of dollars, I doubt they will save time.
But what do I know? I’m just a lowly columnist. These are high-paid, proven executives making these decisions, and they’ve been right so many times before. I just hope that, for the sake of my previous employer and its customers, these execs actually spent some time behind the counter before making this move.
When Sophie and I got on the airplane yesterday, it didn’t take long for me to discover that my two-hour flight would actually feel like a couple of months.
Usually, she is the best girl on the airplane. She flops around for a minute in the carrier, chews on the well-loved Barbie that always accompanies her on trips, and then settles in for a snooze. When the plane lands; she is perky, happy and ready to roll.
Soon after I found my seat and stuffed Sophie under the seat in front of me, she started some soft, manageable whimpering. I unzipped the carrier, stuck my hand inside and tried to comfort her.
I kept telling myself that she would eventually stop whining. But Sophie went for the pathetic howl.
Soon after that, their looks got clouded with disgust. Some of them slammed their newspapers and magazines shut.
“I was hoping to take a nap,” a grumpy guy said with a loud sigh. “But your… your animal… is too disturbing.”
My face was hot with embarrassment. The more I tried to soothe her, the louder Sophie got. So I did it- out of absolute desperation, I broke the rule. I sneaked her out of the carrier and hid her under my sweater. She happily snuggled against me and was immediately quiet … until the monster man who wanted a nap so bad suddenly ratted me out to the flight attendant.
I was mildly scolded and told to return Sophie to the dungeon under the seat. When I did, the howling went a couple of octaves higher. I bent over the carrier, talking to her and jiggling the carrier, reminded of the times nearly 29 years ago when my colicky baby- the human siren- also drove people to hate my guts.
Once my baby boy got a belly ache, all bets were off. He did not care how many eardrums he ruptured. He squalled and puked over my shoulder. He made me cry. Sophie was making me relive those haunting months of new motherhood.
As it turned out, the lady three seats away worked as a veterinary technician. When I showed her the medicine Sophie is taking for allergies, she diagnosed the problem. Sophie’s medicine had made her slightly nuts.
Because Sophie is now an old lady with a heart condition, I sneaked her out of the carrier and stuck her under my shirt. I was afraid she might have a heart attack. I offered monster man my most hateful glare, daring him with my eyes to just tell the flight attendant again.
As the flight attendant headed back down the aisle, the woman beside me sat forward and opened her newspaper to help me hide the spoiled ball of fluff under my shirt. The woman across the aisle made conversation with the flight attendant, to take the focus off my lap.
Yes … it takes a village, to raise children and to also get beloved canines to their tropical destinations.
My peonies are once again in bloom, reminding me of my childhood. All I knew of “pennies” back then was that they grew in a flower bed on the garage side of our house.
As soon as the peonies had flower buds, my Dad taught us to pinch out the side buds and leave the main bud so the blooms would be bigger. Once the peonies were in bloom, he would cut bouquets of peony blooms to enjoy inside and for us to take to our teachers.
Sometimes, if Memorial Day coincided with the peak peony bloom season, he would cut the peonies and place them in jars of water to take with us on a visit to my grandparents. Then we’d spend hours driving from one little country cemetery to another, leaving a few peonies on the graves of great, great-great, and even great-great-great grandparents, learning our family history along the way.
Peonies are easy to grow. A long-lived perennial, they will last for decades with very little care. If you decide to plant peonies in your garden, find a place for them where they can be a highlight in the spring when they are in full bloom and then fade into the background as a foliage plant for the rest of the season.
They prefer a sunny location with well-drained soil and good air circulation around them. The air circulation helps prevent them from getting the plant disease called botrytis, which causes buds and stems to blacken. If you see signs of botrytis, cut off those parts and throw them out in the trash, not into the compost bin. In the fall, cut all the foliage back to ground level and throw it in the trash, too, which also helps prevent the spread of disease.
Peonies are also easy to dig and divide in the fall. Cut off the foliage and carefully lift the plant out of the ground. Cut the roots into several sections, leaving three or four eyes, or growing points, on each section. Re-plant in a new location making sure the growing points are no more than two inches deep. If planted too deeply, the peonies will produce lots of nice foliage but very few blooms.
Following these simple steps will ensure you have peonies that can be shared with others and will last for generations.
The economy’s in the commode, healthcare a disaster, unemployment is high, prisons are overflowing, public education is deteriorating, yet another generation of children and the general populace seem to be getting more diseased, overweight and brain dead. As surely as we are not on this earthly plane to worship and idolize money, this scenario is not the design of our loving Creator.
Attention Wall-Mart shoppers, if we don’t make immediate, sweeping changes to the god-awful available food supply and the deceptive marketing of dead foods to gullible children and nutritionally illiterate grown-ups, we won’t survive much longer as the strong, vibrant nation we hold dear. America will fall, brought down by the inevitable consequences of a malnourished, chronically diseased, bullying population.
We don’t cook, we assemble precooked, bar-coded, industrially packaged faux- food. Dostoevsky hit the nail on the head saying humans are a malleable species: lemmings. For decades, Americans have been effectively programmed to ‘super-size’ their food. No wonder the rest of the world hates us; we have TV shows dedicated to gluttony while others starve. How pathetic, considering science proves less is more when it comes to the food we place into the holy temple. Eating massive quantities of dead food or any food for that matter is akin to buying a new car and holding the pedal to the metal continuously. Eventually you’ll throw a rod. As we grew up we were told the temple could handle anything we threw at it, however, this is a fairytale. You can only abuse the temple for so long till it gets angry, exhausted and DNA begins to alter itself.
Americans don’t need to eat more; they need to eat less; especially the toxic twaddle oozing from the empty souls of greed-obsessed Big Food executives insanely out of touch with Middle American reality. This has taught me intelligence and having heaps of money are not connected. Rich folks think inside their tiny, antiseptically wrapped delusional minds that they are superior. And it doesn’t help that the official government definition of a bad diet is non-existent owing to money exchanged between corruptible food producers and myopic decision makers who deliberately sully the waters of our collective health; terrorists to our national security.
The destructive landscape of our American diet is boundless. We eat dead, over-cooked, microwaved foods that generally consist of processed, milled, heated, extruded, and bleached foods. The Vegaphobic American diet lacks large quantities of fresh, living fruits and vegetables. Ever notice how apples don’t rust anymore and when cutting onions you no longer weep? That’s because they are altered from their original heavenly form and contain 40 percent less vitamins than organic locally grown. Smell what I’m cookin’?
We find water, the source of all life, boring, avoid it and focus on silly manufactured beverages. The Western diet is high in processed sugars, carbohydrates, genetically altered works of creation (God doesn’t need help), and processed, pasteurized dairy products and scores of reprehensible chemical food additives from MSG and aspartame to chemical preservatives such as carcinogenic sodium nitrite in cherished bacon, bologna, jerky and the iconic all-American hot dog. Packaged steaks and ground beef, tuna steaks, salmon, sushi are preserved with, of all things, delicious carbon monoxide and succulent chemical dyes renowned for worsening ADD, ADHD, and aggressive social behavior.
We have all sorts of plastic water bottles, baby bottles, and the internal lining of canned foods infused with cancerous BPA. The diet also contains large quantities of insalubrious oils like corn, soy, canola, cottonseed, and commercial vegetable oils. Pretty nuts, eh?
Ninety percent of Americans eat a diet of this description and its crystal clear how meager nutrition destroys any nation and good nutrition saves it. The foundation of a healthy, strong society is good health springing forth from an open mind and mouth. Give me an ‘amen’ and stop the insanity.
May 26, 2011 in What's It Worth? by Larry D. Cruse - Weichert, Realtors®- Tralee Properties
My Opinion: $114,000
Type of Home: Three bedroom ranch style home with one-and-a-half bathrooms and a full basement.
Age: Built in 1955.
Location: This home is located in the Marquis Manor Subdivision.
Square Footage: There is 1,118 S.F. on the main level and another 1,118 S.F. in the partially finished basement.
Rooms: On the main level of the home are the three bedrooms, the formal living room, the kitchen and the dining room. There is additional space in the basement with the huge finished family room.
Strengths: This property is located in a beautiful, well established older neighborhood that is surrounded by well maintained and stylish homes. The owners have recently completed a number of updates that help to accent the comfort of this home’s design and the unique fashion of the horizontal windows. The backyard has a concrete patio and multi-tier lot that leads to a water-filled and flowing creek.
Under a colander of stars, moonlit waters mirror heaven, revealing the intimacy between heaven and earth. Man is privileged to live on what planetary astrobiology considers one of the Cosmo’s rare, blue water planets. Nevertheless, man knows and cares more about the moon than he does the sanctity of our planet’s waters, the life blood of Earth.
Clearly man only sees what concerns him. Thoreau wrote instead of looking to the sky, look into the placid reflecting salubrious waters for signs and promises of the morrow, referring to water as earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.
When the Great Spirit christened earth, the first morning sun rose, nestled within a soft yellow and raspberry sky; the atmosphere, land, water, plants and microbes were pure. If not for H2O on earth 4.5 billion years ago, all life would simply not exist. It seems anomalous calling our beautiful planet ‘earth’, when it’s clearly an ocean star as man and earth’s surface are made up of 85 percent water.
Envisioning water as clean, humans shower, wash clothing and cars, and over-soak manicured ego lawns and gardens with fresh water, yet most earthlings rehydrate their most holy possession, the human temple, with rivers of frou-frou coffees, artificial fruit drinks, and fizzy colas. Assuredly, Earthlings wouldn’t ever shower in Diet Coke nor swim in a rippling stream of Mountain Dew. But then again, nothing surprises me anymore.
Of the thin veneer, very little of earth’s water is pristine. Earth’s water is increasingly unusable; befouled by man-made contaminants. Thoreau would be distressed, sobbing at the willy-nilly use of earth-poisoning herbicides to rid vanity lawns of highly nourishing dandelions, tiptoeing purslane, and constellations of flora and fauna.
Slow progress in protecting water’s integrity is not acceptable, as more than three million people die every year from avoidable water-related disease and more bodies of water such as the Gulf of Mexico are dying. If man rises to meet this challenge, he must altruistically foster respectful approaches that are people-centered and earth-friendly.
Complex life is uncommon in our enigmatic universe. Earth needs loving stewardship and prudent, conscious conservation for future generations to survive. Clean water should not be a luxury, but it could possibly become one. Water is constantly recycled, and we all live downstream from some power plant, manufacturing facility or industrial agriculture complex. But healthy families, communities, environments and economies rely on clean, safe water. To ensure our water resources for the future, we must protect them today. The tragedy in Fukushima illuminates society’s agony of inconvenience when potable water is scarce or tainted.
Remember we are merely guests here; caretakers. Dominion is subjective and abused.
Most of us enjoy a nice, sunny day. The warmth and light seem to boost our spirits. Unfortunately, it can be very damaging to our skin and increase our risk for skin cancer. So, with the arrival of sunny weather, May is National Melenoma/Skin Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a good time to review some important points for sun safety and protecting the body’s largest organ: the skin.
Sunscreen is one of the best options for protection. Who isn’t perplexed by the variety of sunscreens on the market? Focus on the label. The Skin Cancer Foundation is in the process of putting in place new standards for sunscreen and by next spring will have a new label on bottles declaring if a product meets their standards for daily or active use. Daily use products are intended for incidental sun exposure during short periods of time that we encounter during daily activities such as walking to and from our cars, going to work, and running errands. Active products are intended for more prolonged exposures, particularly during outdoor recreational activities.
What kind and strength of sunscreen is appropriate? Broad spectrum sunscreens are recommended for protection against UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreens come in various strengths of SPF, or sun protection factor. Daily use of SPF 15 or higher is recommended for everyone. Newborns should be kept out of the sun and babies over 6 months of age should be protected with sunscreen. Extended outdoor exposure for outdoor activities warrants using SPF 30 or higher.
How much should be used and how often should it be reapplied? Two tablespoons (one ounce) should be applied about 30 minutes before sun exposure. Regardless of strength, it should be reapplied every two hours and after swimming. Studies have shown that most adults use less than half the recommended amount.
What else can be done to lower your risk for skin cancer? Seek the shade, particularly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Do not burn. Cover up with clothing, broad-brimmed hat, and protective sunglasses.
Recognize the common myths about sun safety. Contrary to popular belief, you do not get the majority of your sun exposure before age 18. So, it’s never too late to start practicing sun safety.
The American Academy of Dermatology also recommends self skin exams on a regular basis. Changes noted should be discussed with your health care provider. When performing the self exam, recall the ABCDEs: Asymmetry (one half doesn’t look like the other half), Border (an irregular, scalloped, or poorly-defined border), Color (is it varied from one part to another? Shades of tan, brown or black? Is it sometimes white, red or blue?), Diameter (melanomas are most often larger than 6mm—the size of a pencil eraser—but can be smaller), Evolving (a mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color). Discuss with your health care provider if any of your moles or pigmented spots exhibit any of the worrisome symptoms of the ABCDEs.