I Love Dirt Track Stock Car Racing – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

Marks Dirt Track RacingJameston Speedway – Source: Marks Dirt Track Racing

Growing Up In Jamestown North Dakota in the 60s and 70s allowed you to look forward to certain events much like the seasons.

The calendar was marked specifically in order of occurrence through the year.

  • Boy Scout Fair at the Civic Center occurred in mid-March and was an indoor competition between local scout troops. My Troop won the scout fair with Finger Printing.
  • Last snowfall of the year which normally followed the first melt. This event would normally occur in late March to the middle of April.
  • Fishing season (non-ice) which started on or about April 1st. You could fish off the shores or in boats for perch, walleye, northern pike, etc.
  • Lawn mowing season would normally start about the same time as the fishing season.
  • Stock car racing season which started in early May and ended in late September or early October. This was the greatest late model and street car racing in the upper midwest.
  • School ended for summer which normally occurred on Memorial Day weekend unless there were too many snow days.
  • The Stutsman County Fair surrounding the 4th of July where the Murphy Brothers Exposition came to town. There was a midway, concerts, Joey Chitwood, tractor pulls, demolition derbies, and stock car racing.
  • School started during the Labor Day weekend and it was also the start of leave raking season and Indian summer.
  • Stock car racing ended in late September or early October and the Stock Car Stampede was the final event of the year.
  • Hunting seasons for upland game, waterfowl, deer, etc, would occur throughout the fall. My favorite was working the potholes for ducks and geese.
  • Christmas school break and ice fishing season normally started around the third week of December. School started up in early January and ice fishing continued until the ice was no longer safe to walk on.

My favorite event when growing up was stock car racing since our entire family was not only involved in it but truly attached to it.

Stock Car Racing happened every Wednesday night from early May to late September unless the races were rained out.

  • On Wednesday nights, time was short between my parents getting off work and us heading to the races so we normally had burgers from the American Legion which were delicious.
  • We would chow down the burgers while watching the Sonny and Cher show on CBS and once complete would head to the races so we could get our normal seats in front of the announcer’s booth.
  • Once at the races, we enjoyed rooting for our favorite drivers for three (3) to four (4) hours and we cursed those we did not like. Many of our favorite drivers included:
    • Mike and Rich Swangler (#10 and #12).
    • Ernie Brookings (#41)
    • Bobby Zimmerman (#13)
    • Dick Miller (#76)
  • This was our weekly family event and I would never trade it for a million dollars. I can still remember my ears ringing from the noise, dirt caked on my face, and mosquito bites everywhere. It was great.

Marks Dirt Track Racing 2

 

 

 

 

Source: Marks Dirt Track Racing

 

 

 

 

When vacation season rolled around in July, we would follow the Northern Racing Circuit for a week of racing. Jim Corcoran promoted not only the Jamestown ND tracks but also the tracks below that we visited.

  • Grand Forks ND on Friday Night.
  • Kittson County, Hallock MN on Saturday Night.
  • Riverside Speedway, Crookston MN on Sunday Afternoon.

During our vacation week, we round stay in motels, eat out, and enjoy our favorite racers at new tracks. It was so much fun.

When fall would hit, we had the Stock Car Stampede to attend which occurred over the weekend in late September or early October.

  • This was the last event of the year before the snows and was scheduled for Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
  • More than 100 cars would come to compete for the large purses that were awarded to the winners.
  • Nobody held back since it was the last race of the year and I remember one year where it snowed during the races.

When the last checkered flag waved, it was clear that winter would arrive soon and another joyful season had come to an end.

Dreams were forged at the Jamestown Speedway and although as a teenager I pitted for a friend and ran a wrecker, I never drove a stock car during a race.

Marks #3Source: Marks Dirt Track Racing

  • What memories do you have of family activities or vacations that you will never forget?
  • Did you have similar dreams based on family activities or vacation?

Thanks for stopping by and I wish you health, safety, and success. It is great being fifty plus going on fifteen.

Jay Patterson

Christmas Past – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

barn in winterBarn In The Winter

2017 will be the first Christmas without my mother so it is fitting that I blog about how it was possible to have a perfect Christmas with family and few gifts.

Every Christmas, we would go to my grand parent’s farm eight miles north of Jamestown North Dakota on Highway 20. This was not a forced event as many would think but you looked forward to it.

My mother had eleven (11) siblings of which ten (10) survived past childhood. At Christmas, all that lived within the four (4) state region would drive to the farm for the annual get together for all the siblings and in-laws. Sometimes we would even have outlaws attend.

Mom As A Toddler

When I speak about inlaws and outlaws, I am referencing spouses and the current spouses were in-laws and the divorced spouses were outlaws. The kids like me were just part of the general herd.

With eleven (11) total siblings that were adults plus spouses and children, you had a significant gathering that occurred at a farmhouse with three (3) bedrooms upstairs and a partially finished basement with a pool table.

The temperatures were normally sub zero by this time of the year so most everyone was in the house or barn to keep warm and if you did go outside, your time was limited due to wind chill.

I have set the stage to allow you to understand the stock I came from and they were an interesting stock of Polish, English, and Danish ancestry.

The house had ground rules that involved the adults being upstairs unless downstairs playing pool. The grandchildren (40 plus) including myself were downstairs or outside.

Christmas lunch and dinner were served upstairs but you took your food downstairs and ate it if you were a kid and if you complained, you went without.

Lunch was normally something easy like sandwiches or pizza and I still remember thinking the mushrooms on the pizza were mouse butts.

Dinner was turkey and ham plus potluck from the siblings so you had a wide variety of food to chose from and it was normally worth the wait after being active all day.

There were plenty of activities to participate in and few involved sitting around. Common activities included:

  • Dodging the bull named Royal who would chase you as you played matador. My uncles would do this after drinking and would sometimes get the horn.
  • Snowball fights with your cousins when the snow was damp and when not manure fights were fun. It was imperative that you kept your mouth shut during either type of fight.
  • Jumping on the milk cows from the hayloft and attempting to ride them. We were not very successful at this.
  • Feeding the barn cats direct from the cow nipple during milking and did they love warm milk directly from the cow.
  • Riding a flipped over hood from a car behind the tractor through the snowy fields. You felt every rock, bump, and hole.

This is but a short list of activities us kids participated in during the day and early evening prior to opening gifts and I would not trade it for all the tea in China.

Once the meal was complete and dishes hand-washed by the older kids, Grandma and Grandpa gave each one of the grandchildren a gift specifically picked out for them.

Even though there were probably thirty (30) plus grandchildren at this time, not one grandchild received a duplicate gift and you felt so special. This would later grow to nearly fifty (50) grandchildren.

Once the gifts were opened, the older kids would return downstairs or outside until it was time to go and the younger children would normally nap.

While the kids were doing their thing, the adults were upstairs playing cards, drinking wine and beer, and bonding until somebody started a fight.

Yes, with siblings even though they were adults, the proverbial crap would sooner or later hit the fan and some member of the family would be a black sheep normally until the family summer picnic.

I can still remember watching one of the three (3) channels we received on antenna TV as the lava lamp did its thing on top of the TV while in the background there was screaming and shouting.

 

 

TVs With CRTs – Oh Yea

 

 

This part of my life was priceless and I will always cherish that I had a childhood where I was able to get barb wire cuts, a black eye from a thrown rubber milker insert, and a special gift picked just for me.

My grandparents, many of my aunts and uncles, my mother, and some cousins are no longer with us but they will always be part of my memories and heart.

 

Mom Third From Left & Siblings

 

  • What special memories do you have about your grandparents, aunts, and uncles?
  • Did you have similar family functions with the drama that was part of being a family?

Wishing you health, safety, and success. It is great being fifty plus going on fifteen but I wish I could be a kid back on the farm.

Jay Patterson

Love My Beta VCR But Lived With The VHS VCR – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

TapeNearly forty (40) years have passed since I purchased my first VCR after much research and consideration. The VCR first hit the market during the infancy of national cable television.

We did not have hundreds of channels to watch or video streaming. The only option prior to VCRs was to watch antenna TV which gave you up to four channels (4) or cable TV which gave you twenty (20) channels.

Without the internet to research, you had to use newspapers,  magazines, limited television coverage, or visit the local appliance store to determine which VCR was best.

There were two (2) primary players in the VCR war during the late 70s and early 80s. The companies and formats were Sony Beta and RCA VHS and the technology was expensive.

  • The Beta VCR cost approximately $1,000 in 1978. In today’s dollars, the Beta VCR would cost $3,750.
    • Minimum wage in 1978 was $2.65 per hour so you would need to work 1,415 hours to purchase, nearly nine (9) months.
  • The VHS VCR cost approximately $700 in 1978. In today’s dollars, the VHS VCR would cost $2,628.
    • Minimum wage in 1978 was $2.65 per hour so you would need to work 991 hours to purchase, nearly six (6) months.
  • As a comparison, the average new car cost in 1978 was $6,380 and the same car would cost $23,180 today.
  • The Beta and VHS VCRs were both a small fortune.

Owners argued about which VCR was better much like today with game consoles and smartphones.  In the end, it was not quality that won the battle but price and the limited differences between the two units.

  • At low speed, the Beta was superior to the VHS when recording but with a limited recording time on Beta, VHS was superior.
  • The Beta had a smaller tape footprint so the Beta unit normally took up less space.
  • The movies you purchased on Beta could be judged as better but the quality was not worth a price tag of 30% more.

When Beta and VHS both came out, you had to order movies using the mail and they would cost anywhere from $60 when on sale to more than $100.

  • There were no video rental stores established so your options were to purchase the movies or record the movies on television so you would capture commercials.
  • The early VCRs also did not have timers to set recording times and if it took more than one tape to record, you had to put in a new tape when the original rewound and popped out with a clunk.

Based on price and other subtle reasons, the VHS VCR won the battle by the mid-80s so many of us were stuck with worthless Beta videotapes once our Beta VCRs broke down.

I thought I would never see a Beta VCR again until I reported to the USS Newport News (SSN-750) in 1994 and found four (4) Beta VCRs onboard.

  • The funny thing is the US Navy discontinued reel to reel movies and moved to Beta VCRs on submarines instead of VHS VCRs so nobody would pilfer the movies.
  • So, in a roundabout way, I am sure Beta recovered its investment after all since the Navy had purchased $10 hammers for $300 so each Beta VCR probably cost the Navy $30,000 each.
    • Think about it, there were 400 ships in 1994 with a minimum of four (4) Beta VCRs per ship for a total of 1,600 Beta VCRs.
    • The Navy’s invested value would probably be $48 million.
    • It looks like I should have invested in Beta VCRs after all.

Unluckily, VHS and Beta only paved the road for Video DVDs that came along not ten (10) years later. Since that time, technology has just marched on.

  • Beta and VHS VCRs may be obsolete but I still miss the first time I popped the Great Escape in and watched a movie on my schedule without commercials. What a feeling of freedom in the late 70s.
  • There are many other long-lived and short-lived formats that were utilized to watch movies at home but the VCR tape and DVD format were the leaders.

Although this was a quick overview about Beta and VHS, I must ask:

  • What did you first watch movies at home on? 
  • Did you prefer Beta or VHS?

Wishing you health, safety, and success. Isn’t it great being fifty plus going on fifteen.

Jay Patterson

Belated Honeymoon To The Black Hills – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

When my bride and I were married in 1987, we immediately left for New London Connecticut after the wedding since I was on military orders from San Diego. Renee’s brother traveled with us since he could not find a well-paying job in North Dakota had just graduated high school, so the trip was not very romantic.

It was our plan to go on a honeymoon after we arrived in Connecticut but between pets, kids, submarines, tenders, retirement, civilian careers, etc, we never enjoyed a honeymoon. We went on vacations, weekend trips, day trips, and dates but never punched that ticket.

Our 25th anniversary occurred in 2012 and we planned to enjoy a belated honeymoon. Unluckily, I was advanced to SVP of Field Service during this same timeframe, so we held off on a honeymoon again.

After I left my job in 2016, we decided we were going to enjoy our belated honeymoon, but our budget would not allow us to travel to St. Thomas or Hawaii, so we decided to go tent camping and UTVing in the South Dakota Black Hills.

Renee planned the trip and licensed the UTV, so we could travel on the trails, logging roads, and highways legally. We took off without the kids and dogs for a week-long adventure in God’s country.

We arrived in Deadwood South Dakota and located the campground we were staying at. We unloaded the UTV from the trailer, set up the tent, and inflated the air mattresses.

There were a few hours before dusk, so we started running the logging roads and trails towards Mount Custer. We passed open fields, pastures, abandoned farms, and forest areas that were cut long ago.

Traveling around a corner at about 20 miles per hour (MPH) with the afternoon sun in our eyes, we hit a large rut in the road and I heard a loud scream from Renee.

We stopped immediately, and it was obvious that the seat belt dislocated Renee’s shoulder. I walked over to her side of the UTV and popped it back into the socket. Renee can be a tough old bird at times.

BH TrailsRenee Next To UTV All Good As New

We traveled on a skinny trail that wound around Mount Washington that started out about ten (10) feet wide at the bottom and ended up no more than five (5) feet wide at the top. The UTV is 50 inches wide and the drop off was 100 plus feet so we took our time until we arrived at the summit.

The view at the top of Mount Custer was inspiring and after taking in the beginning of dusk, we crept back down the trail and returned to camp to eat supper (dinner), finish setting up camp and start a fire to keep us warm.

Mt CusterMount Custer Half Way Up

Early the next morning, we were awakened to the sound of cows mooing. We slowly climbed out of the tent realizing that tent camping was much harder when you are fifty plus going on fifteen, but we would tough it out.

The sun was just breaking the eastern horizon and to our surprise, there was a herd of cattle in campground grazing on the campground grass and leaving organic landmines for unsuspecting patrons to enjoy.

As if that was not enough, cowboys’ road into the campground to herd the cattle back into the pasture they had escaped from. The trip had started out interesting.

CowThe Leader Of The Pack

We cleaned up, ate a light breakfast, and verified Renee’s shoulder was okay before we took off to ride trails and logging roads in the national forest.

During the next eight (8) hours, we put on roughly 100 hard miles climbing mountains, traveling through canyons, sitting by high mountain lakes, hiking stream beds, and enjoying a cold lunch that was perfect for God’s country.

Mounain LakeMountain Lake

That evening, we returned to camp and treated ourselves to supper at the small café at the lodge with a cold Coors. I would not travel twelve (12) hours to eat at the café again but I would enjoy the backroads of the Black Hills.

The next morning, we rolled off the air mattresses again (a little slower on day 2) and we were not greeted by a herd of cattle but instead by a few deer.

We ate breakfast and broke up the camp loading the UTV and all camping gear on the trailer. We were on the road by 8 AM to our next honeymoon destination, Medora, North Dakota.

It took us nearly thirty (30) years to enjoy our long overdue honeymoon. Although we were a little long in the tooth to tent camp for a week, we had a great week and fond memories.

It would be great to hear if you have experienced similar trips.

  • Are you overdue for a trip and what/where is the reason/destination?
  • Have you taken an overdue trip? Share details if you want.

Wishing you health, safety, and success. Tent camping is a little tougher when you are fifty plus going on fifteen.

Jay Patterson

Sometimes The Best Decision You Can Make Is Saying “Your Fired” – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

Never Stop

It is tough as a manager or as an employee to decide to fire an employee that works for you, the company you work for, and/or a company you do business with.

Sure, you can always figure out a reason to not fire but in most situations, if the thought passed your mind, it is probably the right decision.

I have been in this position during my military and civilian careers and I want to again state that if you have thought it, firing is probably the right decision.

In the military, it was extremely difficult to fire someone even when you had the proper documentation and historical issues.

During my time in the military, one situation is still painful since I tried to get the sailor removed from submarine service and was unsuccessful.

  • The reason why the sailor needed to be fired from submarine duty was mental instability. Mental health experts nixed my request and sadly, the kid committed suicide a few months after he was stationed on a submarine.

While in the military, there were many situations where personnel needed to be fired and may or not have been for many reasons.

  • The primary reason personnel was not fired was that the goal fleet size was 500 ships, so all sailors were critical.
  • Firing sailors normally involved transferring an individual from an operational vessel to a vessel in the shipyards of similar.
  • Some sailors were fired but if they were it was normally due to drugs, alternate lifestyles, or similar situations.

Late in my military career, it became much easier to fire people when the Navy was being downsized after the end of the cold war but that is not to say the best people were maintained.

Twenty (20) plus years ago I joined the civilian workforce after retiring from Navy and I quickly learned it was just as difficult to fire someone on the outside as in the military. I also learned that you could fire the company you worked for an experienced customer/vendor firing.

  • My first civilian job was a computer monitor repair facility In South Dakota whose primary customer was Gateway Computers. I worked as the assistant plant manager and quickly realized that it was difficult to terminate crackheads that damaged thousands of dollars of inventory so after six (6) months decided to fire the company.
  • I next worked for an international sales and service company as a remote technician in Iowa and once again it became clear that firing technicians that did not want to work were nearly impossible. Later I was advanced to a district management position and the management team goal was to overwork those that worked and live with those that did not work After Y2K, I fired this company.
  •    For the next sixteen (16) plus years, I worked for a sales and service company that had a goal to cover the entire US market. I started my career as a technician and ended it as the Senior Vice President Of Operations. We did a pretty good job of keeping our workforce cleaned up through firing and hiring until the company was placed on the market for sale in 2014. We were purchased in 2015 and challenges with new ownership and lack of scruples resulted in my firing them in early 2016.
  • In 2016, I started consulting for businesses and worked short term W2 jobs trying to find the right place for my third long-term career. I have fired several customers, vendors, employers, and employees during this timeframe and I still believe sometimes you need to say, “Your Fired”.

Saying “Your Fired” should be a two-way street between employers and employees much like between customers and businesses.

  • Perhaps that sounds harsh, but I have realized since leaving my second-long term career in 2016 is that if the relationship is not right in the first three (3) months, staying longer is not a recipe for success.
  • Furthermore, there have been many situations where I have run into individuals I have had to let go for various reasons and they thanked me because it helped them find a career that fits better.

Please leave comments and thoughts regarding this subject and specifically what are your thoughts on the following questions.

  • Have you ever fired an employer and was it best for you and the employer?
  • Have you ever been fired as an employee and was it best for you and the employer?

Appreciate your visiting my blog and wish you health, safety, and success. It is great being fifty plus going on fifteen.

Jay Patterson

Why Do I Write An Editorial Blog – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

Jay on ATVRiding My ATV At Cloud 9
You may ask why someone would write an editorial blog and if anyone would read it when written since there are so many editorials out there. I cannot tell you why others do this but I can tell you why I do this.

The reason I blog is that I need a way to release my thoughts, concerns, etc., for personal, professional, and other reasons. How did I get here?

In 2015, my life went through a number of twists and turns that were unexpected but who can really anticipate twists and turns since they just happen. Some of these twists included:

  • My mother experienced a serious stroke during the Superbowl that resulted in her residing in a nursing home for the remainder of her life.
    • Weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly trips between North Dakota and Missouri the norm through all of 2015.
  • The company I worked for was sold to an investment company in March and with that sale, my position was significantly impacted even though I was asked to stay on for twelve (12) months.
    • Much travel was required for work between our Missouri and Illinois offices.
  • All other senior staff at the company I worked at were terminated by the end of 2017 except for myself.
    • I was the source of information for corporate history, information, and blame.

2016 ended up being a year of transition for me since the downhill trend continued from 2015.

  • The new management team and I disagreed on reporting accuracy.
    • Accurate reporting without massaging, tweaking, etc. was a must.
  • Decisions were made by the new management team with limited input from knowledgeable employees.
    • Changes impacting key competencies were made without being vetted.
  • I decided to move on and work as a consultant for other companies.
    • Increased flexibility to travel home to see my parents.

2017 rolled around and I decided to work as a full-time employee since I was not able to invest the time to develop a customer base for consulting so I had breaks between jobs.

  • I was hired by a local sales and service company to transition them from shrink mode to grow mode.
    • The company decided they did not want to go through the pain of transitioning so we parted ways.
  • After forty (40) years of working without a significant break, I decided to take some time to figure out what I wanted to do.
    • This is when I initially started to blog and research other options including franchises, full-time employment, sales, etc.
  • Being offered an opportunity to help develop sales and support for a small company that has a national presence, I decided to accept the offer.

Unluckily, in May 2017, my mother’s health continued to decline and she passed away after a long fight. I was devastated by her death even though I had years to prepare for it.

During this time, I also realized that I had not emotionally dealt with my professional life either and had to get right both personally and professionally.

I started writing a journal but over time that was not enough to deal with the issues listed above so I decided to write an editorial blog to:

  • Get right personally since I do not have my mom to talk to.
  • Share professionally since I do not have my long-established circle of employees, peers, etc.
  • Deal with issues, challenges, etc. regarding being fifty plus going on fifteen.
  • Provide a boost to those that are fifty plus since it is not a death sentence.
  • Vent as required.
  • What do you do to help maintain personal and professional stability?

I want to thank each of you for visiting this blog and wish you health, safety, and success. It is great being fifty plus going on fifteen.

Jay Patterson

 

37 Years Ago – The Journey – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

RTC

Each of us has major dates that we remember including birthdays, wedding anniversaries, etc.

Every year I have the pleasure of not only noting the anniversary of Pearl Harbor and the birth of the Greatest Generation but also my enlistment anniversary into the United States Navy.

This year marks the 37th year since I swore the oath to “Protect and Defend” and left my childhood home of North Dakota for the big bad world I so desired to enter.

The night before I left was memorable since it was my last day of not having a care beyond my own selfish desires as an adolescent that knew everything but was dumb as a rock.

What was memorable about the day before I left for Fargo North Dakota and flew to Great Lakes Illinois for my first long-term career?

  • It was a cold day for December with the temperatures not passing twenty (20) degrees, the wind blowing from ten (10) to twenty (20) miles per hour (MPH), and it was snowing.
    • I remember it being a humid day with a bitter wind from the northwest.
  • I did not work the day prior to leaving since I had resigned from Dale’s Mobil since this was a planned transition.
    • The owner, Dale, is one of my special mentors.
  • My parents, sister and I went to Wagon Masters for the last meal before I ate boot camp chow hall food.
    • I worked for Wagon Masters as a cook as a teenager and loved the food.
  • Our dinner (supper) was interrupted by news that my friend’s (Mike) farmhouse was on fire.
    • Mike was my best man a few days later and passed to another realm at a young age.
  • Mike and his dog needed a ride back to town to stay with his parents and this was the last time I saw him until we hooked up a few years later.
    • The dog ate something that did not agree with him so we had to drive with the windows down in the bitter cold.

Winter Farmhouse

The next morning was an early morning for myself and I used my ticket to get on the bus with one (1) set of clothes, a few pictures and long hair to my name.

Being my first commercial bus ride, I quickly decided this was not a preferred method of transportation based on the odors emanating from the restroom.

I was thankful the ride lasted only two (2) hours on Interstate 94 and my first stop was Fargo North Dakota.

Bus
Once I arrived in Fargo, I was transported to the Fargo Airport and hopped on my first airplane flight to Ohara in Chicago Illinois. Flying was much better than taking a bus, but I still felt trapped.

The flight was uneventful, and I had to make my way to the bus that would transport me to Great Lakes Recruit Training Center after arriving at Ohara.

I quickly realized I was no longer in Kansas (North Dakota) anymore when I observed the skinheads, Hare Krishna, and other oddities (to me) roaming the airport.

The bus ride from Ohara to Great Lakes Recruit Training Center did not change my opinion about buses since this bus had the same odor the bus in North Dakota had.

I daydreamed as the bus bounced up Interstate 94 and finally the bus came to an abrupt stop and I was told this was my stop.

  • This made me think of the movie “Bus Stop” with Marilyn Monroe and that was a classic.
  • What events in your life do you clearly remember as a defining point in your life?

Stepping off the bus, I observed the gates and guardhouses at Great Lakes Recruit Training Center and had never felt so alone in my life.

Walking to the gate, I handed over my orders and it became very clear to me that I was a piece of meat from this point on.

I have always had great first impressions and guess what, I was a piece of meat for many weeks to come as I participated in boot camp.

Pearl Harbor Day will always be special to me for not only the obvious reasons but also because this is the day I became a sailor even though it was 39 years later.

Thanks for stopping by and may you have health, safety, and success. It is wonderful being fifty plus going on fifteen (50 plus going on 15).

Jay Patterson

I Would Love A Cheeseburger From A Local Diner – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

Come In We're OpenWho doesn’t love a cheeseburger from a local diner with melted cheese, a toasted bun, and fresh, crisp onions.

There was a time when you had a choice of many local diners, cafes, and restaurants where you could get cheeseburgers named the bull wacker, the lumberjack, the conductor and each one of them had its own little twist.

Menu selections appeared endless and each location had its own twist. One thing for certain was that you could get a great cup of coffee and a piece of pie with ice cream.

The city I currently live in with 15,000 people, has less than ten (10) local places to eat that are not owned by regional or national chains. This is crazy in my opinion.

Occasionally, I travel back to my home town of Jamestown North Dakota. You can count local establishments on a hands and the population is 15,000 people. When I was a kid, there were more than 25 family owned locations. Some places that no longer exist include:

  • Big Jims Steakhouse
  • Ebertz Cafe
  • Wagon Masters Restaurant
  • Northwest Y
  • Lakeway Drive Inn
  • Blue Jay Inn
  • Randy’s
  • Pizza Palace
  • Continental Inn
  • Chuck Wagon

I travel the nation for work and it has become increasingly difficult to find local eateries and this is a real shame. When I travel into a new area, I look for new and interesting places to each and it can be tough to find.

At one time, you could estimate the quality of the diner, cafe, or restaurant by the number of calendars near the cash register.

  • If there was one calendar, you probably would not like the food.
  • Three (3) or more calendars identified great food.

The new local eatery trend has been food trucks. Although food trucks have existed since the invention of the automobile, the quality and variety has changed.

  • In the past, food trucks were known as few roach coaches and food quality was poor and variety was limited.
  • Today, food trucks are becoming the new place to eat that are clean and have excellent food with variety.

It is great that food trucks are meeting the needs of consumers that do not want to eat at chain restaurants.


Although there are locally owned diners, cafes and restaurants that you can enjoy, the majority of places you can eat are part of local, regional or national chains.

Branding is critical to chains, you will find limited variety and personality when a visit different locations but quality can vary.

When traveling for work, the primary place they would choose to meet was Applebees. Overall not a bad chain restaurant but you can only eat at Applebees so many times.

  • Recent news reports indicate that the company that owns Applebees also owns IHOP and they are closing 100 plus locations in 2017. This is sad for the employees.
Another chain restaurant that technicians enjoy eating at is Ruby Tuesdays. Great salad bar and decent food but again, you can only eat at Ruby Tuesdays so many times.

 

  • Ruby Tuesdays has also been struggling recently and has closed locations nationwide. They were sold to an investment group in 2017 so we shall see what happens.

It seems like chain restaurants are similar to food and both have a shelf life since so many local, regional and national chains have closed down. A short list includes:

  • Happy Joes
  • Howard Johnsons
  • Country Kitchen
  • Chi-Chi’s
  • Steak & Ale

I have discussed full-service chain restaurants but have not touched on fast food restaurants because there have been a few that are always there and many that come and go.

This takes me back to I want a greasy cheeseburger from a local non-chain establishment and it is not going to happen unless I drive ten (10) miles into Springfield Missouri and that is not right.

  • Do you prefer chain restaurants or local restaurants?

 

  • What is your favorite chain restaurant that went out of business?

Wishing you health, safety, and success. It’s great being fifty plus going of fifteen (50 plus going on 15)

Thanks for visiting and please comment. 

Jay Patterson

 

Tribute To Submarines On Eternal Patrol – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

I write this blog as a tribute to all submarines on eternal patrol and for the ARA San Juan which has been missing and presumed lost in the south Atlantic since the middle of November 2017.

Submarines are a mystery to many but home for a small population of sailors worldwide. I was lucky enough to be an active submariner in the 1980s and 1990s and will always value this experience.

The probable loss of the ARA San Juan has emotionally impacted me over the past couple weeks because the sailors on this vessel were brothers and sisters of mine since we are a small community.

My heart goes out to the families of the ARA San Juan crew members since it is doubtful they will ever have closure since the reasons why the vessel disappeared will probably never be fully understood.

Although the United States has deployed hundreds of submarines since the end of World War II, we have lost four (4) submarines that are identified below.

  • USS Cochino – SS-345 – Lost 1949 in the Norwegian Sea.
  • USS Stickleback – SS-415 – Lost 1958 in the Pacific Ocean.
  • USS Thresher – SSN-593 – Lost 1963 in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • USS Scorpion – SSN-589 – Lost 1968 in the Atlantic Ocean.

It is believed that the US Navy Subsafe program which was implemented after the loss of the USS Thresher is responsible for the improved safety record since the 1960s.

What is known about the ARA San Juan last messages on November 15th.

  • 12:30 a.m. – The San Juan Captain contacted the local land-based commander via satellite phone informing them of flooding through the snorkel mast. The flooding short-circuited the bow battery system causing a fire that was extinguished. The Captain identified that the short was bypassed and the San Juan would continue to travel towards the base.
  • 6:00 a.m. – The San Juan transmitted the same message from 12:30 am as transmitted radio traffic.
  • 7:30 a.m. – The San Juan Captain contacted the local land-based commander indicating the San Juan was transiting, submerged, as planned, without additional issues.
  • 10:30 a.m. – An explosion and/or implosion was detected near the ships last location. The explosion/implosion was not identified as occurring through recorded acoustic data.

There was hope that the 44 crew members of the ARA San Juan would have enough air to last seven (7) to twelve (12) days if the submarine was submerged but disabled. Unluckily, we have exceeded this timeline so the current mission is probably a recovery mission.

A multi-national team continues to search a 40,000 square mile area for the ARA San Juan although results are doubtful.

Indications are that the casualty was a combination of flooding and fire.

  • Experiencing one (1) of these casualties is a major challenge that submarine crews constantly drill for.
  • Experiencing two (2) of these casualties and additional catastrophic failures related to the battery compartment would likely cause loss of the submarine.

We may never know what occurred with the ARA San Juan but our thoughts and prayers will be with the crew and families forever.

Wishing you health, safety, and success. I am Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen (50 Plus Going On 15) and I hope for a miracle.

Jay Patterson

 

Expanding Your Horizons – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

I have always believed you can teach an old dog new tricks and sometimes you learn by choice and sometimes you ask what is going on when you run into something new.

Building websites, blogging, and writing articles is new to me but in 2017 my family and I have been expanding our horizons.

2017 has been a transitional year for me since it was my first full year not working for my long-term after leaving in 2016. During the last twenty (20) months I have learned what I don’t want to do for a living during my third long-term career and what I may want to do.

During the fall of 2017, I selected a mode of self-agony I never thought I would choose. That choice transitioned me from being an NFL football fan to becoming an NHL hockey fan.

  • I will not get into details since I have discussed in earlier articles but I will state I have not watched an NFL football game this year for the first time since 1969. This is very painful since my Vikings are doing well but I am not budging.
  • My family and I have been Predator fans for years but I was not the fan my wife and daughter is. I wanted to follow the expansion Las Vegas Golden Nights since I had followed the expansion draft and was impressed.

So, we are 25% through the hockey season and we watch NHL hockey most nights on center ice and have pretty much written off NFL football which is nearly 70% complete.

Yesterday, I was helping my bride of thirty (30) plus years clean before company arrived for our Thanksgiving feast and I went to mop the kitchen floor and became frantic because I could not find a mop.

  • Normally, I would get on the floor with a bucket of soap and water taking me back to my submarine days but I am a bit stiff from all the driving I did in November so I asked why we don’t have a mop and bucket.
  • My bride informed me that we use something called a Swiffer now and I thought she was depraved.

So, I learned how to use a Swiffer and although it was not my preferred method of cleaning, I used the Swiffer and it worked pretty well. I guess my bride of thirty (30) plus years is pretty smart but I still cannot figure out what she sees in me.

Being in professional transition since early 2016, I decided to concentrate on sales during the summer of 2017. Sales were not new to me since it had always been part of my job which was multifaceted.

  • Jump-starting my professional path excites me since I am now able to provide solutions to devoted customers that I have total confidence in.
  • My bride of thirty (30) plus years shown courage and support in this decision.

So, all have not worked out as planned since I have been tied up in operations since I started my present position but you must crawl before you walk and I am still excited about moving in this direction.

My bride of thirty (30) plus years has also adjusted to our change in life and has been amazing. She could have fired me but instead has shown grit as we have rolled through our challenges. Renee has stepped up to the plate and has shown much heart working part-time and learning a craft to turn into a small business.

  • Renee returned to work part-time at the local school system which she loves. I believe working in the school system shows much bravery.
  • In addition to working part-time, Renee has been developing her para cord skills and we will be starting a small business and a website soon. She is addicted to para cording I believe.

This is a work in progress and I have examples of her work below. She also manufactures dog collars and leashes that are stunning. Wish her luck.

As you can see, we are in transition and there is truth to “You Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks”. In fact, both of us are learning new tricks.

I am grateful that I have the ability to be fifty plus going on fifteen (50 plus going on 15) and it is uplifting that my bride has the courage to continue to be my partner through these changes.

How are you expanding your horizons?

Thanks for visiting this site and feel free to comment and make recommendations.

Wishing you health, safety, and success.

Jay Patterson