Thursday, November 18, 2010

Last part of Chapter 9.

*Ok, this wasn't really a sprint portion... I just kinda took off with it, figure, about a 30 minute run.*

"This one here, is our forward view.  It shows the road ahead, nothing too crazy.  Kind of a where  we're going, versus where we've been." Mike pointed to another eyeball on the back window, near the brake light.  "This one is on only intermittently.  We really don't need it but you never know when it'll come in handy."
    "That's pretty interesting.  I was always fascinated by cameras and movie equipment. Somewhere in the house I have an old 35 millimeter camera.  It was Martha's, see, if you handed her a camera, the pictures looked like a pro did them. Now, if you handed me the camera, it'd be a miracle if the heads weren't chopped off, or the picture would be crooked, or out of focus." He shrugged, as he dug in his pocket, pulling out a relatively new model point and shoot camera. "My kids got this for me last year- it has all these features, I plug it into the computer, and it spits out pictures.  It's a good thing, but its just not the same. Anyway, I promised the kids I'd take pictures along the way." He paused as he turned the camera on. "That's ok, right? I know I forgot to ask earlier."
    "Yeah, we don't mind, just one thing though." said Sukie
    "What's that?" asked the old man.
    "Just send us the pictures too? It'll be great, alongside the B roll.  I bet it could be a lot like that Feasting on Asphalt series the they did on the food channel."
    "Oh, I loved that show! The host, he was great!"
    They continued chatting along, pointing out features until they hit the main highway.  They swiftly picked up speed. "Wow," remarked the old man as he glanced at the speedometer. "Maria Andretti in action!" Sukie laughed and continued down the road. "We're only going as fast as everyone else." He had to nod in agreement, she was keeping time with the trucks.  After about an hour and a half or so in the car, they pulled off into what looked like a shopping center, with a giant converted grain silo sticking up out of the middle of it.
    "Be still my heart!" said the old man as he read the sign next to the driveway. In big white letters, it read: The Worlds Largest Kaleidoscope.  "You know, I really wasn't paying attention to the road on the way down, I thought we were just heading roundabout to the thruway! I'm so excited, if I was my granddaughter, oh, what does she say." He paused for a second, looking for the perfect word. "If I were her, I'd squee!" He took his camera and snapped a photo of the signage.
    Sukie pulled into a spot while laughing at the old man's choice of words.  "Ok, Jim, we're here." Mike climbed out of the car, portable camera in hand. He set himself up to watch the old man get out of the car.  As he filmed, the old man got out of the car and stretched. After a moment, he flashed a thumbs up at Mike and said, "Ok, lets get this show on the road! I can't wait another minute!" before he turned and began walking up to the doors.
    As Sukie went ahead and bought the tickets, The old man wandered around with Mike in tow. After a few moments of looking around, he found a pamphlet with all the interesting details of the Kaleidoscope. He read to him the specifics of the kaleidoscope from the paper after clearing his throat. "The Kaatskill Kaleidoscope is the worlds largest kaleidoscope, measuring 60 feet in height. It is located in Mount Tremper, New York. It is housed in a converted grain silo. It was designed by '60s psychedelic artist Isaac Abrams and his son Raphael. It cost $250,000 to build and opened in 1996. The idea for its construction belongs to Catskills developer Dean Gitter, a local P.T. Barnum. You know what? This sounds positively Groovy." The old man giggled, and before long Mike was giggling alongside him.
    "Okay, guys, the show starts in about twenty minutes, you all want to check out the museum portion of the building" Sukie asked, while pointing to a gift shop area.
    "Sure thing Boss" said the old man, as he and Mike walked off to see the smaller kaleidoscopes.  He played with a few of them, oohing and ahhing at the views.  Mike walked to a huge model in the center of the room.  He focused the lens of his camera at the eyepiece and filmed the ever changing images. A few minutes later, Sukie came back and herded the men towards the large converted silo.  Mike filmed the old man entering the silo, then started to follow. 
    "You, there!" called an old security guard, who was hustling over as fast as he could. "No videos! But if you want, you can get the DVD in the gift shop." Mike shrugged, and took the camera off his shoulder before following the two inside. They were directed to lay down on the floor and look up at the ceiling.  A rather psychedelic display lit up the inside for the show.  Snippets of songs and freedom speeches filled the air. The trio laid there transfixed by the images on the ceiling.  All too soon, the show was over.  They sat up and headed back out of the kaleidoscope.
    "Well, that certainly was groovy." said the old man to Mike after he had gotten his camera set back up.  "Time for the gift shop!" he said, as he walked into the museum section once again.  He looked at the toy models, playing with a few as Mike continued to film.  After a few more moments, he picked a small key chain model, and brought it to the cashier's counter. He paid, then declined a bag.  Right there in the store, he attached the key chain to an empty keyring on his keys. He then had Sukie snap a picture of him with the smiling clerk. "I love pictures." he said as he retrieved his camera from her.  They left the worlds largest kaleidoscope, and continued south down the road.
    "We're a little behind schedule, but I think you'll like the next stop. It's not too far down the road."
    "Near here? There's only one thing near here!" exclaimed the old man as he got his bearings as to where he was.  "We're near the Spaceship!" Sukie laughed.
    "Yep, Jim, we're only a few miles away from there, and it's on the way."
    "Hoody Hoo!" he exclaimed, as excited as a young boy.  "I drive past this every other now and then.  I never got to stop by. It's so fun looking!"
    They continued along for a few minutes before they pulled off the highway and drove up to the building.  Just outside the building stood a futuristic 1950's spaceship, which looked as if it was ready to blast off.  The old man handed off his camera to Sukie, and insisted that she take a picture of him with the space ship.  Mike filmed as the old man posed with the giant sculpture.  After a few more moments, they continued walking around, marveling at the statues of a dinosaur made of auto parts. They eventually made their way into the fabulous furniture shop owned by the sculptor.  The quality of the pieces was impressive.  The old man walked through the shop touching nearly everything in the store. After a few minutes, a bearded man made his way out to the trio and introduced himself.
    "Hi guys! I'm Steve, and welcome to my shop! Is there anything I can help you all with?" Sukie introduced them, and explained what they were doing there.  "Wow," said Steve, "Thanks for coming on in, I don't mind you all here. Feel free to look around, and please ask me if you have questions about anything." Sukie talked to Steve for a few minutes as Mike and the old man continued to wander around. 
    "Hey Mike!" called Sukie. "Can you come here for a minute? Mr. Heller here has agreed to a short interview." Mike hustled over to Sukie, and promptly set up the camera.  "Ok, Mr. Heller, tell us a little about this yourself and this shop."
    Steve put his hands into his pockets and shrugged. "Ok. Well, This is my shop, and, I could have never imagined the fabulous life I've had. I am a self taught artist, woodworker, sculptor and car builder, who can go from one medium to another without a break. I have been blessed by having great family and friends, and everyone has always encouraged my insanity. For someone like me, that's a dream come true. Fabulous Furniture is both my place of business and my refuge. I get to do all kinds of things here, and people stop by and love it. What a treat!"
    Sukie smiled at Steve. "So, What's your secret formula that makes it work?"
He looked at her, and thought a minute. "Combining all my passions has been the secret of my happiness. I love that some people know me because they've lived with one of my dining tables for decades, while others look out their front windows to one of my life size dinosaurs, and still others drive the cars that Mike and I design and fabricate here."
    "So, any reviews, accomplishments or accolades you want to tell us about?"
    "This is my favorite topic, I think.  I have been written up in all kinds of magazines and newspapers, including Architectural Digest, Hot Rod Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and we are featured prominently in the book Weird New York."
    "In the last few years I've had some incredibly great things happen--- I was part of the Ed "Big Daddy" Roth retrospective at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles; was asked to bring some of my creations to the Art-Car exhibit at the New York International Auto Show; my guitar, The Stratocrusier, was the hit of the 2000 Guitar Festival in Woodstock, NY--- and then my custom car "The Marquis De Soto" won the NY Times Collectible Car of the Year Award! A year later, it won first in class at both the 2010 Grand National Roadster Show and the Sacramento AutoRama. Pinch me now." He laughed as he shrugged again.  "And, that's it in a nutshell, I guess." A dog came out from the back, and walked around Steve's legs.  "Meet Rocket Boy, the best dog ever." The dog looked up at the old man who was making his way back to Sukie.  He bent down to pet the dog.
    "Nice dog you got here, Steve!" said the old man.  Steve thanked him, and stood still for a moment when the old man handed his camera off to Sukie, and took their picture together.  They all shook hands, and the trio started to make their way out of the store as Steve excused himself to the back of the store.
    "Hey! Wait! I want to give you guys something, a souvenir." called Steve as he hurried back to the front of the store. He smiled and jogged up to the old man, handing him a small plastic piece that was attached to a key chain.  The old man took a good look at him, and his jaw dropped. "This is the little decoration that was on the front of the old Packards. I had one of these cars years ago! Thank you so much!" The old man shook Steve's hand heartily. 
    "Any time man, I figured you'd get a kick out of it, and this way you can keep it with you, to remember the shop." The old man attached the Packard emblem next to the kaleidoscope. They bid each other their farewells, and left the shop.  In the parking lot, the old man admired the emblem. He turned to Mike and said, "You know, I really haven't seen one of these in a very long time. My first car was a Packard- I bought it myself, used, you know? And, you know, it really was an awesome piece of machinery."
    They all climbed back into the car.  As they pulled away Mike filmed the large sculptures in the front of the store.  "It's better than having you guys pull away again," he said to the old man. "Here, its the highway, so, it'd take forever to catch up." Continuing down the highway, they wound their way to the New York Thruway.  As they sped down the road the old man pulled the list out of his pocket and placed check marks next to the completed items. "Two down, ninety something to go." he said, as he refolded the list and returned it to its resting place in his pocket."
    He turned to Sukie.  "Odd question.  Lets say, I was to rest my head back a bit, and take a little snooze. Would that be okay with all these cameras on me?"   
    "Sure, we'll wake you up when we get to anything interesting. We've got about three hours on this road, we'll probably stop for coffee two hours or so in, if you don't mind."
    "That's a more than welcome stop." said the old man as he snuggled into the seat.  He watched the world pass by as he got comfortable.  A few minutes later, he was quietly taking a nap as they continued along the road.

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