Springtime For Frantzens – 1973

No, not Springtime For Hitler, that’s been done, but about me and my loved ones.

I took a business trip to Oklahoma at the end of April.  A local vendor of construction equipment was having a show in Oklahoma City and I and one of my engineers went.  the purpose, of course was to drum up business for a new line in products they had taken on.   The company paid for our expenses  so we went.  Their equipment looked suited to the needs of PPP&L and I wrote up a positive trip report.  The company catered a  dinner and the different guys went out on the town after.  At least going to some stripper bars, and maybe more.  That was not my thing, so I joined a few of the reminding guys and we swapped stories.  All in all, a pleasant trip, though I had no desire to return to Oklahoma myself.  Nothing specific, the area was not appealing to me.

April showers came in May, as they did the year we married.  We even had tornado warnings and the land a few miles to the West had some serious damage. Just wind and rain for us. Heavy and continued rain would saturate the ground and our sump pump would kick into action.  When this happened in the night, I immediately awoke and went into the cellar to check on possible damage.  Marge wouldn’t hear this, but when one of the girls cried in the night, I would sleep through it and she would jump up.  I guess the subconscious would arouse us to act out our  family roles.   We enjoyed a pleasant visit with Mom Sutherland, though the weather prevented us having any real outdoor activities.

The weather cleared up in June so we went to the Jersey shore in our trailer.

Cape May NJ from the sea

Cape May NJ from the sea

 We learned travel skills  from out trip to Myrtle Beach and, with some difficulty we found a good campsite.  We stretched our legs at Cape May where we parked the trailer.  Then we all went to Ocean City for a seafood dinner.  It was a real treat having fresh fish to eat, with somebody else doing the cooking.  Marge doesn’t eat fish, though she likes lobster, shrimp and related seafood.  We drove 360 miles, but it was a worthwhile, enjoyable trip, enjoyed by all.

Summer came next with a let up in the rain and hot temperatures in the 80s and occasionally in the 90s.  This heat was often accompanied by high humidity and I was SO glad that our house had central air conditioning, a true blessing. I still remember going outside and the hot humid air was almost a physical entity that I had to fight my way through. 

Marge and I had gone to an informal bible study led by a professor at Muhlenberg college in Allentown. An older man than Marge and I then, maybe in late 50s.  Surprisingly for me I enjoyed this, even looked forward to it. It was not church related and there were many viewpoints expressed at any session. The study was not doctrinaire and we welcomed constructive questioning and critique.  

The study was held at the home of an older couple who owned a big farm nearby. It was a beautiful place with large oak and locust shade trees. The farm also featured a pool stocked with Bass and Bluegill. I don’t have a personal photo, but the one below is typical of a PA farm pond.  

PA farm pond

PA farm pond

 Nothing beats a dinner of freshly caught fish, far better than frozen ones in the market.  The farm also had a large indoor swimming pool, the first one I ever saw.  We all enjoyed time in the pool, especially the children. Marge and I were in our mid 30s then.  It took me by surprise at how good some of the gray-haired women looked in bathing suits.  Not that I was personally interested, of course, Marge and I were getting along pretty well then,  though I did hope that we could age as gracefully.

It was a pleasant old-fashioned day with an outdoor picnic on a hot Sunday afternoon which I did enjoy.  Doesn’t sound very sophisticated, and it wasn’t. So what!  I still fondly remember images of that day 40+ years later.

The third week in June we took the trailer down to Lancaster county to a site owned by PP&L on  property about a mile in from the Susquehanna river.  The river is dammed for the Holtwood Hydro plant. We packed up early and left on Friday after I returned from work.

Susquehanna river at Holtwood Pinnacle

Susquehanna river at Holtwood Pinnacle

 I don’t have a personal photo, but here is one showing the river from the Holtwood pinnacle in the fall.  Beautiful area, I miss the water and the green.

The sites had electricity, but no water so I filled the trailer water tank before leaving and checked the pump.  Somewhere, somehow the fuse  between my car battery and the trailer blew out and the trailer battery was low, so we couldn’t use the pump.  We do learn from experience and brought two emergency “Jerry” cans for water.

Park City Mall Lancaster PA

Park City Mall Lancaster PA

While there the rain came so we went to a beautiful mall in Lancaster and did some shopping, and between showers did some sightseeing.

Returning home the cable between car and trailer loosened, dragged on the road and I lost half the connections in the wiring.  Fortune did smile on us since the brakes still worked, and when I got home I spliced the breaks, everything good as new now. We were all grateful these incidents didn’t happen on our first big trip.

The weekend of June 23 was a quiet one. We missed the PP&L picnic since we went to a movie on Friday and slept in Saturday. Marge did not feel well and slept most of Saturday. It was good we didn’t go to the PP&L picnic, she would not want being left home alone, and would be miserable if she went.

Sunday was a nice day, Marge felt better and we did go to a picnic sponsored by the “house church” group she belonged to.  I, of course, made my prize-winning potato salad which I learned preparing, while working at the Lake Placid Club in NY. Things will come out all right in the end, and if they don’t, it isn’t the end.  The weekend did end very nicely.

Marge and I soon after had some long discussions about family size planning. At that time Marge was taking “the pill” and worried  about possible long-term effects from taking it continuously.  She was still having the doctor I mentioned previously inject some form of slurry into her spine. I mentioned that she continued this rather invasive procedure and what about its long-term effect. I recently asked my neurologist if he ever heard of this procedure and he didn’t, so I think I had reason to worry. Marge decided to quit both.   The upshot of this was Marge’s decision to have a Tubal Ligation.

Allentown Hospital

Allentown Hospital

The doctor told us this was minor outpatient surgery, so we elected to go that route.  This took place on a Wednesday and I picked her up after work.  She had the procedure in Allentown Hospital. It is  minor surgery for some women, but Marge’s health has never been too good so it took her some time to fully recover. 

The girls went to a YMCA day camp for a week and got a big kick out of it, figuratively, not literally.  Marge still not feeling well so I went to Parents Night with Louise.  I did my duty, but Marge is closer to the girls at school than I.

We did go take our trailer to the mountains for a week in July and the shore for two weeks in August, but that is getting ahead of myself as the last days of June were upon us.

Susquehanna river flooding

Susquehanna river flooding

 We did experience more rain on June 29 and a few rivers and streams  flooded. there were some deaths, at least half due to people rafting or boating in flooded water, a very dangerous activity.  The papers and news stations advised residents not to use the flood for recreational purposes.  Some people believe they are invincible, but sadly not true.

The flooding was very bad to the north of us, particularly the city of Wilkes Barre.

Wilkes Barre flood on Main Street

Wilkes Barre flood on Main Street

 One of the churches borrowed a school bus and asked for volunteers to aid in the cleanup.  I went with the group and it was something that had to be seen and smelled to be believed. I was glad that I helped a bit. Later on, Marge took our 70 Ford wagon up with food for residents.  With the back seat folded down, there was quite a bit of room to put cooked food it to help out.  We did what we could.

So, summer began with some changes and minor adventures with yet more to come.


About R. F.

I am a retired Professional Engineer who spent my working life in the electric utility industry. I am now a volunteer instructor at the University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).
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4 Responses to Springtime For Frantzens – 1973

  1. Allan T says:

    Interesting, sounds like it was fun, except for the problems of the pump and stuff. I know we were in Florida in August, and well NEVER, EVERY AGAIN sums it up nicely!

    • R. Johann says:

      Yeah we did have a good time, I have been to Florida a few times, once in January at Miami beach which was nice. I lived in Syracuse at the time and nobody felt sorry that I came back with a sunburn. I was there in May I think to do some sailing with a friend and that was good. We took the trailer to Jacksonville once during the spring school vacation time and enjoyed that. I think we went to the Disney park on the same trip. I didn’t like Philadelphia in August, almost impossible to think of what it must be like that time of year in Florida.

  2. Louise says:

    How do you remember all this stuff like when Mom was sick or what the weather was like from some week in the summer over 40 years ago?? I truly am wondering.

    As an aside, I wonder if I somehow internalized the Susquehanna river flooding and that’s what contributed to my deathly fear of rain when I was a little kid. I guess I would have been six when this happened, and although I do not remember hearing about this, I may have subconsciously equated rain with flooding and death if I picked up hearing someone talking about it. You never know.

    And re: Florida in August, our family went to the Disney resorts and Universal Studios in August of 2013 and people thought we were crazy, but that was the time we had available so that’s when we went. Fortunately a lot of the lines had misters or portions that were indoors, but still, it was pretty muggy. But if that’s when you can go, that’s when you can go! It was still pretty fun. Somehow the atmosphere just made it part of the adventure.

    • R. Johann says:

      Now you’ve caught me. I do have a lot of family letters I wrote long ago. When I read them, I remember more than the narrative I am reading and I particularly remember when your mother was ill. I was very concerned about her getting those spinal shots and I don’t know how she got involved with this Dr., probably from a friend, but it sounded bogus to me, but I kept my mouth shut until we got discussing the pill and her concerns for that.
      I can sort of see the pea green paint on the hospital walls of 40+ years ago. So the posts are a combination of the narrative of the letter and my attempt to recall details, especially emotions, feelings, stuff like that. I recall that you were afraid that our house would slide down the hill in those days when we had severe rain all day. Even the Lehigh River was flooded to a degree, but not like up around Scranton and Wilkes Barre. I volunteered to be part of a work party cleaning up one day.

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