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  • Skeletons in the family closet: The Demented Loiterer

    Posted on July 15th, 2013 admin 2 comments

    Every family probably has them.  Black sheep.  Disgraced cousins.  Uncles that nobody talks about.  Skeletons in the family closet.  Here’s one of ours:   Ova Surfus, the demented loiterer.

    Orva J. Surfus was born about 1847, son of Calphenus Surfus (what a wonderful name!) and Catherine Eliza Gray.  Catherine was eldest daughter of Thomas Gray and Sarah (Houser) Gray and grand-daughter of Gray patriarch William Penn Gray.  The family farmed in Noble Country, Indiana, where according to the 1880 US Census Calphenus worked for his father-in-law as a farm laborer.

    Orva, youngest son of four little Surfuses, gained brief notoriety in 1921 at about age 47.  Old Ova was arrested for loitering… while carrying a package of 10 sticks of dynamite tucked casually under his arm!

    As described in The Fort Wayne News and Sentinel (Friday, Feb. 25, 1921, page 23, col. 2):

    Rode Around on Street Cars With Enough Explosive to Blow Them to Bits.

    Judge J. Frank Mungovan, in the city court this morning, Ordered Orva Surfus. giving Columbia City as his home, held until Monday morning for investigation. The man, who is believed to be demented, was picked up Thursday by Detective Donald Wood, of the Pennsylvania [Railroad Company] special police department, who found that a package which he carried under his arms contained 10 sticks of 40 percent dynamite, weighing five pounds.
    Many Fort Wayne people who calmly rode city street cars yesterday would have lost considerable of their complacency had they known that a man thought to be mentally unbalanced, was riding with them armed with enough dynamite to blow the car to atoms.
    The authorities learned that Surfus had ridden on many city street cars yesterday and that he had also spent considerable time hanging around the plants of the S. F. Bowser & Co., and the Western Gas Construction company, always carrying the mysterious package under his arm. Surfus, according to the police, was unable to explain where he had gotten the dynamite or what he intended to do with it.
    The state law makes it unlawful to carry dynamite on any conveyance which carries passengers.  The railroads even refuse to transport 60 percent dynamite, according to a member of the Pennsylvania special police department.

    Poor confused Orva, wandering around town with his package while back on the farm the home folks are grubbing stumps and wondering where he’s got to with that dynamite?

    Stop by the family tree to check out the Surfus family and find their relation to the Grays.  Anyone with further information about this incident, and about the family, is welcome to comment on this article.

  • Selling Silver Coins at the Great Canadian Roadshow

    Posted on April 21st, 2011 admin No comments

    Took a day off  to drive my folks (in their 90s) to the Great Canadian Roadshow in Stony Plain.  They have a bunch of old coins and silver dollars collected, and they had seen a huge full-page color ad from this show saying that they would pay up to $20,000 for certain old coins.

    “My son Neil said to watch them closely, they’re real crooks,” said my step-mom as we drove up.

    “So why do you want to go?”

    “Well, we have all these old coins and we’d like to see what they’re worth.”

    Okay, we’re selling silver coins and we know we’re dealing with “crooks” doing heavy roadshow marketing

    Mom and Dad are okay financially, they don’t really need the money.  These roadshow things are widely recognized as giving only a fraction of what the items are worth, but I think for the folks it was just a chance for a fun outing, something different.

    At the hotel where the show was, we registered, then had a pleasant enough 90 minute wait.  We chatted with the others (mostly oldsters) waiting in the hallway.  I chatted with a young mom who was there for a chance to get away from the kids (hubby had ‘em).  I found a couple of other RVers, snowbirds, and talked about where they’d spent winters past.

    Once we got into the show, an efficient young man spread our coins out on a table and swiftly weeded out the pennies, nickles, and coins newer than 1967.  He then offered $4 for each silver dollar and $1 for each quarter and dime.   Mom hung on to the silver dollars, but we turned in the quarters, a stack of dimes,  and an old worn gold ring for about $25.

    “Just enough to buy us lunch at McDonalds,” joked Dad.   So that’s where we went.


  • Good Sam Membership Benefits

    Posted on April 19th, 2011 admin No comments

    According to Good Sam, there are a dozen benefits to membership.

    1. Highways Magazine – online or in print
    2. Discount (10%) at RV Parks and Service Centers as well as some tourist attractions
    3. Free RV Trip Routing online.
    4. Discounts at some stores & services
    5. Free product giveaways (If you win the draw.  Good luck.)
    6. Web Site  (I can’t see that members get any exclusive access; it appears that you can sign in as a guest and still get to everything)
    7. Member eNewsletter (Don’t know that I’ve ever received one.  Better check my spam filter)
    8. A chance to be a Good Sam Product Tester (I applied, never heard back.  Probably another lottery)
    9. Standby Sams Program (If there’s a volunteer in your area, and he’s free, he might help.  Or not)
    10. RV Advocacy (This one seems to work, from the anecdotes in Highways Mag)
    11. Good Sam Events & Travel — Tours, caravans, cruises, state/provincial/local Samborees
    12. Member discounts on other Good Sam services such as Emergency Roadside Service, Extended Service Plan, RV Insurance, etc.

    Frankly, many of these are “air bumps”  (things that sound good and bump up the price, but don’t really add value), such as

    • Monthly product giveaways
    • Product testing.
    • Web site access.

    What are my chances of getting in on either of those product things, one in a million?  Are Canadians even allowed to participate?  The web site is listed as a member benefit but it seems that anybody can join without shelling out $$ for a membership.   These “benefits” don’t appear to be worth much to the average member.

    So far, campground discounts have paid back almost $10 of my membership.  Camping for another twenty nights will cover it all.  I guess that’s doable, but mostly I’m boondocking or staying in provincial and municipal parks.

    Any Good Sam members out there, care to chime in with a yea or nay? Am I wrong or misinformed on any count?   If so, speak up!

  • Bad Credit RV Loans Tops February Articles

    Posted on March 15th, 2011 admin 1 comment

    My top ten articles for last month had some continuing favorites — it’s amazing how certain articles remain top performers month after month — but included a couple of newcomers:

    1. Bad Credit RV Loan
    2. NADA Guides – Used RV Prices on
    3. Canada’s Ultralight RV Travel Trailers
    4. Types of RV Replacement Windows
    5. Pop-Up Trailers for Motorcycles & Subcompacts
    6. Efflorescence and Basement Water Damage (New for February)
    7. Canadian Teardrop Trailer Manufacturers
    8. Best Home-Built Teardrop Trailer (Caravan) Plans
    9. Popular Brands of Teardrop Travel Trailers
    10. Interstate Battery Tips for 12V Battery Charging (New For February)

    The list suggests that as spring approaches, readers are charging up the coach batteries, checking for window leaks, and watching for melt water in the basements of their homes.  Ah, spring!

  • Used RV Prices on NADA Guides Leads January List

    Posted on February 15th, 2011 admin No comments

    People looking for information on how to use (the NADA Guides) to price out used RVs made that the top article for January, 2011.

    1. NADA Guides – Used RV Prices on
    2. Bad Credit RV Loan
    3. Canada’s Ultralight RV Travel Trailers
    4. Types of RV Replacement Windows
    5. Pop-Up Trailers for Motorcycles & Subcompacts
    6. Popular Brands of Teardrop Travel Trailers
    7. Best Home-Built Teardrop Trailer (Caravan) Plans
    8. Canadian Teardrop Trailer Manufacturers
    9. How to Buy, Store, and Eat a Pomegranate
    10. Lodge on Wheels – RV or Mobile Home?

    The pomegranate articles are always popular during pomegranate season (October through January) no matter where you’re RVing; and mid-winter is a common time to be building a Teardrop trailer or dreaming about RVing come spring and summer.

    However, the article about RV Replacement Windows is a bit of a surprise!

  • Top Articles for Christmas 2010

    Posted on December 20th, 2010 admin No comments

    Recently got a report of my top ten articles  for November.  It’s an odd mixture of Christmas articles and RV-related articles.

    1. Walmart Picks Best Toys for Girls
    2. Bad Credit RV Loan
    3. NADA Guides – Used RV Prices on
    4. Canada’s Ultralight RV Travel Trailers
    5. Types of RV Replacement Windows
    6. Walmart Picks Best Toys for Boys
    7. Pop-Up Trailers for Motorcycles & Subcompacts
    8. Popular Brands of Teardrop Travel Trailers
    9. Best Home-Built Teardrop Trailer (Caravan) Plans
    10. Best RC Flying Toys at Walmart for Christmas

    The Christmas articles are no surprise; it’s time to shop toys, and stores like Target and Walmart are popular places to shop, especially for Air Hogs flying toys.

    But the RV articles ARE a surprise. I had expected the RV articles to fade away for the winter, so it’s great to find that readers are still checking them out .

    You will continue to find them helpful and relevant at any time of year, as the  RV articles are “evergreen” and will not “age out”.

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