By Bob Gray
I guess I have always had a hobby of one sort or another.
The picture below was taken when I was about 11 years old. It is my bedroom
when we lived at 420 West Seventh Street, Erie, Pennsylvania. We moved from
this house in the summer before I started junior high at Gridley. As you can
see from the photo, I had a collection of models that included:
World War I bi-planes hanging from the ceiling (my favorite),
Air and space craft, such as the ill-fated Vanguard rocket and
early space station,
The United Nations Building,
Medieval knights in armor,
Dinosaur skeletons, and
Military vehicles (tanks, trucks, cannons).
On the work bench next to me is a balsa wood airplane with
gas powered engine that was one of my major modeling disappointments as I could
never get the engine to run long enough to actually fly it. It met its end
about the time we moved out of the house when I put an M80 firecracker in it
and through it out my bedroom window. Given the volume of models present in my
room, I must have doing models for several years at that time.
Me at work on one
of my early hobbies, c 1958.
My other hobbies from this period included building, pushing
and driving a soap box racer (I won’t refer to it as a derby racer as we never
entered the official contest) and archery. My friends, Bummy Dudenheffer and
John Kelly, and I built the racer from a set of wheels that my mother must have
obtained at a house sale and old crates from the nearby A&P Grocery store.
Our favorite destination was the hill at the foot of Myrtle or Sassafras
streets which ended at the fish hatchery after going over some railroad
tracks. This activity usually ended with a broken racer and subsequent
repairs. The Bayfront Parkway now resides where the railroad tracks used to
be, so now it isn’t possible to do what we did back in the 1950s.
Hobbies I have had later in life, in addition to my
genealogy and family history endeavors, include:
- Magic – I never did much reading for school when I was
young but when I was about 12 years old I was so fascinated by magic
tricks that I checked out and read every magic book in the Erie Public
Library. Harry Houdini was a favorite. There was a novelty shop on State
Street, I think near 10th Street. I used to ride my bike there
to shop for magic tricks I could afford. The shop owner was a very large
man who never said much, but he kept a plastic throw-up on the counter
next to the register. It was probably the third or fourth visit before I
realized it wasn’t real. Most of the tricks I bought were not very good.
The best ones were a set of red balls and a marked stripper deck of
cards. I did have one card trick that completely fooled my father. It
started with a special sorting of the cards that made them appear random
to the audience. After cutting the cards, the person would be told to
take the top card.
- Bridge and other card games – My father was always playing
cards when I was young. His favorite most likely was Bridge Cribbage had
to be a close second. If we had more than two people but not four Bridge
players, then we usually played Pitch which is Bridge like. When I first
met my wife, Mary-Alice, she decided to take Bridge lessons. At one
point, we were playing Bridge every Friday night at the local pool we
belonged to. We still play, only not as often.
- Ham radio – I was K3YNA when I was in High School and
College. I was never very good but my friends were. Actually, I was much
better at building ham equipment that using it. I built a receiver from a
Hallicrafters kit, a 100 watt transmitter, and a
variable frequency oscillator. These were all tube electronics as
transistors were just coming into use. I was secretary of the local
amateur radio club for a couple of years. Probably the most fun was
spending a night in the field contacting as many other hams as possible.
One of the other benefits was that the late-night engineer for the local
radio station, WJET, was a ham so we used to go sit with him and take
- Tennis – I started playing in college when my friend,
Rafael Castro, got me interested. I wasn’t very good but I had fun and
continued playing after college for a couple of years. There were public
tennis courts across the street from my apartment in Alexandria and I used
to play on Saturday and Sunday mornings with my roommate, Tom Noon or
co-worker Jim Loftus.
– A longtime favorite.
– A last in, first out coverage of my travel over the years
- Hobbies to be included in future updates of this page
- House projects
Indications are that I have passed on the hobby gene as the
picture of my grandson below demonstrates his interest in building models which
is where I started.
My grandson hard
at work building a Lego model, July 2017.
Site Search) | Bob
Gray Consulting | Lynch Gray family history |
Copyright 2016, 2017, Robert F Gray