Wondering about wild grapes

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wondering About a Strange Excuse

The other day when I was going through some old pictures, I found an “EXCUSE FOR ABSENCE OR TARDINESS” from the East Brady Public Schools. Now I am sure teaches have heard some real zingers and far fetched excuses, but this one takes the prize. Read this one carefully and think if you have ever heard of this excuse before or even thought that it may have been used by someone sometime:

Now, what do you think of that excuse? Have you ever heard of one like that? Marion was my Uncle and lived in Phillipston, PA and went to public school in East Brady, just a couple of miles up the RR tracks that ran beside the river.

Did you ever wonder what happens to all that ice that was on the river during a warm spell? Well, sometimes (hopefully) it just melts, breaks up into little chunks and floats on down the river. But the chunks are not always little and float down the river. A curve or other obstruction causes them to jam up, or create an “ice gorge”, as they were locally referred to. Some times it piles up quite high.

Do you still feel skeptical about the excuse? Here are some old pictures taken back about that time period. Since there are no dates on the photos, I can not pin point a date. This first photo shows a fellow in a canoe beside a small pile of ice:

This second picture gives a different perspective to the same ice pile:

Now this one with the three guys standing on the lower part shows a larger pile of ice:

Seen enough? No? OK, here is a house that had been sitting across the river from my Grandparents’ home:

Notice the river ice piled up all around it. Now, when that ice melts a little and starts to move back down the river, what do you suppose happened to this house?

As you can see, it looks like the house was already moved from its original position. Moving river ice has wiped out small villages and random river front homes for years, and will continue to do so if you place your home too close to the river.

Bet you believe the excuse now, right?

Back when my Grandparents were alive, my Mom, Dad, and I would visit them every weekend. I remember one year the ice jammed up so high at East Brady that it took out the only bridge across the river for miles. That bridge was at least three or four stories higher than the river. Instead of taking an hour to get to my Grandparents home, it then took twice as long. Now do you have a new respect for river ice?

For all you people who live in a warm climate, this excuse would seem ridicules, but it didn’t to me. I have seen ice jams. Thought that you all would get a kick out of it. Hope I was right. . .


  1. It wasn't until I saw it in person on the Yakaima river in washington state that I really understood about ice jams as they called them. In person you can hear a lot of creaking and groaning and other noises the ice is making. Actually pretty awsome.

  2. NOW you know why I will never live any farther north than I am right now! I DON'T DO COLD!!

  3. Hey Barney, yes the noise is loud. I have been out on the frozen river and heard a crack coming. It sounds almost like thunder. It is scary, but they were only expansion cracks. We used to skate on the river and sled ride down the hill and out onto the river ice. It ain't all bad.

    Hey ben, I don't like the cold anymore so that is why I moved away from your area and came down here (grin).

  4. Both of ya'll are so far north you might be Yankees.

  5. You got a good one in there, Barney.

  6. Stumbled across your blog today and the Railroad and the Allegheny sure brought back some memories. I grew up in Meadville, just north of you by 80 miles, or so. Spent many hours along the river and French Creek, as well. Fun times. My paternal grandfather and my uncle both retired from the railroad (Bessemer & Lake Erie RR and the Erie Lackawanna RR). I got lots of free rides with them. My maternal grandparents were farmers and I learned hunting and fishing along the Allegheny.

    I am in Arizona now. Can't stand the cold anymore, nor the humidity in the summer.

    Thanks for the memories.

  7. I too stumbled across your blog. My family (father and grandparents) are originally from Phillipston. My grandfather worked on the railroad for many years and they live "up the hill" and across from the spring that drained from hillside.