Celebrating a half century of true love

As appearing in the Niagara Gazette and the Lockport Union Sun and Journal

8/11/2019

Last Friday, my wife Donna and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary.

A half-century ago, we were a pair of young, clueless kids. We went out into the world with everything we owned in the back of a Volkswagon “beetle” and drove 500 miles from home to establish a life of our own in Newport, Rhode Island. If it weren’t for wedding presents, we wouldn’t have had enough money for gas to get to Newport, which was my ship’s home port while I was in the Navy.

We first moved into a fleabag motel. Living there depleted our funds quickly so we scoured want ads in the local papers, looking for a cheap apartment. We didn’t have much money but we had our love to keep us going.

Then a shipboard buddy told us about some inexpensive apartments in Fall River, Massachusetts, just across the state line. We moved into this welfare development where your rent was based on your income. I was earning $64 a month back then. Our rent was $32 a month. Fortunately our rent included the heat and electricity. After I paid the rent, I had $8 a week left over for our phone bill, food, gasoline and auto insurance. Heaven forbid my car would break down. All the money we had left from our wedding went into cheap, pressed wood furniture. We still have some of that furniture today.

We were living without the benefit of family nearby so we had no safety net and we had to do whatever it took on our own to survive. We learned more about self-dependence than we had ever known. It made us reliant on each other.

I was proud of Donna the first time I went to sea. She didn’t go home to her parents. The apartment we shared was now home to her, and with the help of a few friends who were close to us, she was able to stay in our place. I am thankful to our next door neighbors, Millie and her family, for helping Donna out. Tony, Millie’s youngest, would spend more time at our house than his own keeping Donna company.

One of my friends, Cole, a bosun’s mate and mountain of a man, would check in on her to see if she was OK during my absences and if she needed anything.

The neighbors would share their food with us and showed us how to apply for a monthly allotment of surplus food that the state gave to low income people. Every month we would have a food exchange in the common area of the complex. We would meet up with whatever free food we didn’t want and swap it for food we did.

It was during this time we had two of our children. How crazy were we to do this? I don’t know. We figured, “How expensive would it be to have children?” Of course, this was in the days of cloth diapers, rubber pants and diaper pails.

As I look back on those times, I have to wonder just how we made it. Foolish as we were, we managed to survive. We were from the generation that believed when you made a promise, you kept it.

I think often about how much in love we were. How our marriage was made stronger by having to make it on our own in the early years. How we couldn’t run home to our parents when we had differences of opinion. How I learned the four phrases that helped keep us together: “Yes dear,” “You are right,” “I understand,” and most importantly, “I love you.”

Now, 50 years later, I think about all the problems we overcame together, standing back to back with our guns drawn, ready to take on whatever came at us.

I now send my wife a cheesy text every morning, professing my love for her to make her smile and to let her know that I am thinking about her. I also try to keep fresh flowers in the house just because. She is the best thing that ever happened to me and I love her with all my soul.

The first time I saw her, my heart whispered “That’s the one.” Imagining my life without her is impossible and I am so lucky to be able to spend my life with her.

Norb Rug is a writer from Lockport. His email is nrug@juno.com where he welcomes comments

Advertisements

Bear Ridge Solar

Cypress Creek Renewables is proposing to construct a project called “Bear Ridge Solar” to install solar panels in Cambria and Pendleton. I have no problem with people using their property for legal reasons.

Solar energy gives us clean power from the sun and it’s use is growing in both the United States and globally. The cost to put in solar energy has decreased by over 70 percent since 2010. In the past decade, solar power has had an average annual growth rate of over 60 percent. Many businesses and households that switch to solar energy save money.

While without a doubt solar energy might be a very important solution for a lot of the world’s energy problems, it’s not a cure all without problems. Studies have shown that solar energy has a significant environmental disadvantage.

The effect that solar farms may possibly have on plants and animals be capable of sending ripples through the entire ecosystem. The environment could become less livable for plants and wildlife that thrive in local conditions.

Utility size solar panels can take up a lot of space. I understand the Bear Ridge Solar project will take up 900 acres and I think it might result in environmental degradation. Solar farms could also obstruct local vegetation growth. Think about all those farms that let their land go fallow so the naturally occurring plant life can be harvested for hay.

However, a deeper perception of the environmental effect of solar installation could educate farmers on microclimate changes and how they could make better use of the land under panels. Farmers may need to think about selecting crops that can survive in the lower ground temperatures and shade created by the solar panels.

Solar farms that blanket a large volume of land are apt to impact the local fauna and flora, particularly birds. The loss of habit for birds include nesting sites, nest building materials, food sources like bugs and places to hide due to habitat loss. Solar panels aren’t able to share the land they occupy for other uses like wind energy does.

Solar panels for domestic use usually don’t require very much land. In fact many of these installations are on roof tops and don’t use any land whatsoever. However, at the industrial level, the large amount of space required for the installation of panels needed to produce energy is a challenge.

 Also, a great many people feel that utility scale solar panels will create a visual disruption for the local communities. I believe the song goes “Oh beautiful for spacious skies and amber waves of grain” not “the glint of solar panels.”

However, it is not just plant them and hook them up. There are emissions associated with different stages of the solar cell lifecycle. It is very important to know the solar panel production process. It begins with the mining and subsequent processing of the raw materials. Quartz, copper, silver and aluminum ores are mined from the earth utilizing trucks, tools and heavy equipment. These ores are then transported by trucks or rail to processing facilities.

All of this requires fossil fuels or electricity. Quartz for instance undergoes processing with hazardous chemicals in high-temperature furnaces to produce electronic grade silicon. Creating solar photovoltaic panels is a very water intensive process. Even though the solar cells themselves don’t use water to generate electricity, the manufacturing process requires a quite a bit of water.

Off-grid Photo Voltaic systems frequently have throwaway batteries that can store energy when the sun shines so people can use it at night. These batteries will damage the environment if they aren’t disposed of properly because they might leak toxins such as lead and sulfuric acid.

Furthermore, quite a few solar cells contain small quantities of the toxic metal cadmium. The batteries that are required to store the electricity generated by photo cells can contain a myriad of other dangerous substances like heavy metals and other dangerous substances. If the manufacturers don’t strictly adhere to the laws and regulations regarding these chemicals, they can create significant health risks, especially to the workers.

As solar technology improves, manufacturers may be able to move away from these potentially dangerous substances, but for now, they mar the otherwise impressive ecological benefits solar power offers.

Solar energy has some other problems. First, no matter how clear the skies, a solar panel won’t produce electricity at night, so a solar energy system needs to have some method of storing energy. And if there is bad weather for an extended time, a solar energy system will provide little output, which means you need to have backup energy generation alternatives available. 

Moreover, when solar panels aren’t disposed of as they should be, these chemicals can be an environmental threat. Often, panels end up in e-waste dumps in developing countries such as India, China and Ghana where these toxic chemicals might create devastating health effects for residents of nearby communities. Solar panels are said to create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than nuclear power plants do and we all know how nuclear power works out. Just think about Chernobyl or The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan.

Sure Solar may be the way to go but I think we need to find this out from someone that ISN’T going to benefit from this.

Norb is a freelance journalist from Lockport.

LOVIN SPOONFUL: Dee’s Sugar Shack

stainless steel spoon
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Donna and I had a day off so we took a ride to Sugar Shack, 460 West Ave, Lockport, for breakfast.

This is another one of the diners located in Lockport. Dee’s is open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch only with the exception of Thursday and Friday when they also serve dinner. We hadn’t been there in years and for the life of me I don’t know why.

First thing I noticed was the cleanliness of the place, very, very clean. It looked like they had just done a deep clean minutes before we walked in the door. I was impressed. It looked like we could eat off the floor. The specials were written on a chalkboard that you could see as soon as you came in. Also listed were the “Pies made to order” that they sell and they all sounded delicious. We grabbed a booth and our server was right there with menus and to take our drink order. I felt sorry for her as she seemed to be the only server but fortunately for her there weren’t many patrons in the place.

I had a Pepsi (2.19) and Donna ordered water with lemon. When the server came back with our drinks, Donna ordered a bowl of soup of the day, beef vegetable (3.75) and I asked for 2 eggs over easy, home fries, no salt and white toast (4.50). I also ordered grape jelly, my favorite.  The server came back and said the home fries are preseasoned and that I could substitute the hash browns if I wanted to limit my salt. This was refreshing, never has a server offered me a reduced salt option to me. I said sure, even though I don’t usually like hash browns, but I did have to watch my diet.

I was surprised at how fast the meals arrived. Our food was at our table in record time. When she delivered our meals asked for hot sauce which she promptly got for me. Donna’s soup was delicious. It had a beef bouillon taste to the broth and plenty of noodles and vegetables. The beef was a ground beef and that indicated to me the soup was probably homemade. A bit salty for my liking but tasty nevertheless. I’ve been on a reduced salt diet for a few weeks now and I can taste it in foods where I couldn’t previously.

My breakfast eggs were cooked perfectly. The eggs had a smooth flowing yolk with a nice firm white. The hash browns were very flavorful for a salt reduced product. They were hash brown patties rather than a pile of loose grated potatoes. Obviously these weren’t home made. The toast was nicely toasted and came with one serving of the requested grape jelly and one serving of mixed fruit jelly. I figured this was going to happen because when she was taking our order, she skipped writing this down.

Other than that, the service was flawless and I appreciated the fact the server took the time to help me with my special request. We left the place quite satisfied and decided we would put Dee’s back into the breakfast rotation. Neither one of us needed lunch that day as we were still full from our breakfast.

460 West Ave
Lockport , New York
(716) 433-9538

Hours:
Monday – Wednesday 6 AM to 2 PM
Thursday 6 AM to 7 PM
Friday 6 AM to 8 PM
Saturday and Sunday 7 AM to 2 PM

I give them nine of ten spoons but only because I didn’t get all grape jelly, like I had asked and the soup was a bit salty.

Norb is a restaurant reviewer for the Niagara Gazette and the Union Sun and Journal, Night and Day supplement.