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With a 531 mile drive from Toledo, Ohio to suburban Philadelphia, there wasn't much to do business-wise, other than catch-up on phone calls.
Thanks to traffic and construction in Ohio and western Pennsylvania our scheduled evening meeting in Philadelphia had to be moved to Monday morning, but there was some good in the delay. With no need to rush to Philadelphia, we took a detour off the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Manheim.
First, great high school football!
The Manheim Central Barons won the 2003 PIAA Class 3A state title, plus finished runner-up in the same class in 2009.
Second, and most important, Manheim is the hometown of my mentor Richard "Dick" Hammer, who at 77-years old is still "the voice" of Lafayette College football and basketball.
Dick, and it's still hard not to call him Mr. Hammer, is the gentleman that played a HUGE role in my development during my teenage years.
Dick and his wife Millie of 50+ years met in Manheim, a community of 4,700 residents. Both Dick and Millie are like a second set of parents to me. I truly mean it when I say that these two may be the kindest and calmest couple I've ever met!!
While it wasn't planned, I decided that during our meal and drinks at JoBoy's Brew Pub, I'd call Dick to let him know that we landed our high school sports talk show on KLAC 570 AM in Los Angeles. Even, though we made the announcement on June 28th, I hadn't called the man that made it all possible, by believing in me enough to give me my first on-air gig.
Because the universe works in mysterious ways, both Dick and Millie answered my call at the same time on different phone extensions, I was able to share the LA news at the same time.
To say it was an emotional call would be an understatement. I truly believe that Dick Hammer is the one that installed my confidence to achieve in journalism. After 15 minutes of chatting, I hung-up with tears of joy in my eyes.
Of course, some of the tears may have been accentuated by the fact that I had just downed two of JoBoy's Smoked ABT's. ABT stands for Atomic Buffalo Turds, a name that Trish was flabbergasted by and I just that was so cool.
The ABT are jalapenos that aren't de-seeded or de-veined. They are stuffed with cream cheese and topped with bacon. These are not poppers and they are hot as hell!
I'm also mad that I didn't snap a picture of the ABT.
I'm also happy to say that they were the best "turbs" I've ever eaten!
BTW...thank god that the restaurant had many of its own handcrafted beers, because otherwise, I may not have been able to cool down from the ABTs. They had nine of their brews on tap this night and I enjoyed three of them: Manheim Red (of course), German Wheat and 44 Magnum. I also taste-tested Hopitude and Scottish Ale. All of the beers that I tasted were awesome and well-balanced.
Note: JoBoy's only serves its beer. There's no liquor served, but they do have some nice wines from two local wineries.
Manheim is smack-dab in the in the middle of Pennsylvania Dutch country, which is my heritage. I LOVE the way my family and the area residents cook. You CAN'T get a bad meal around here. It's cooked the old school way with love.
JoBoy's, however, isn't about PA Dutch cooking...it's southern style and that made my southern girl Trish very happy. Restaurant is run by the husband/wife team Maria Jo and Jeff "Boy" Harless.
Aside from the ABTs, we tried their okra, collard greens, southern chips and salsa, plus Jo's chicken corn that stood-up to the test of high quality southern food. The real treat was when Jeff served us a taste of Thursday night's special...a smoked NY Strip. Yes, it was Friday, but this cut of meet was delicious and actually had the texture of prime rib. This is a MUST have, if you are nearby on a Thursday.
As we left to take some pictures around town, Trish thanked the Jeff and company for giving her a little bit of the south in the north.
We then headed to the high school for those football field pics that I love so much, plus an awesome picture of a covered bridge that literally sits at the end of the school property. Shearer's Bridge, which was moved to this location in 1971, was built in 1847, rebuilt in 1855.
The back story on Manheim is it was founded in 1762 by Henry "Baron" William Stiegel. The high school still carries Henry's nickname the Barons.
As we headed back to the turnpike to Philly, we were treated to an incredible sunset and I treated myself to a cherry Tastykake.
Tastykakes are pure Philly, and the only thing else I need to enjoy is a cheesesteak.