Tuesday, May 29, 2012

If that table could talk......

     In my parents home on  Fort Hill Avenue, in Canandaigua, for as long as I can remember, the kitchen was mostly filled by a long, rectangular, wooden table with open backed benches on the long sides and captain's chairs on both ends.  This blog is about that table.  

     With no one sitting at it, the table was impressive, but when it was full of people it was more so.   How long was it?  6 Yarger asses long, that's how long.  We could all fit on the benches that sat along the side.  I'm having trouble picturing the benches, but I'm pretty sure that at some point Dad had wrapped them in a brown carpet of some kind to save us splinters.  We didn't have much padding on our asses in those days, so it was appreciated (we really can't say the same now).  Dad took his spot, at the head of the table, closest to the door, but with his
Circa 1970, before we got "The Table"
back to it (he obviously was never in the mafia), and Mom took the other captain's chair at the foot of the table, facing the door (she had lived in Boston and had a "checkered" past, so she liked to see them coming).  The kids sat on each side and for a lot of my childhood I sat at the right hand of my father.  There was a small kids table that sat 2, but this blog is not about that table, it's about the big one.

     The table's day would start each morning by hosting just my Dad, shirtless, or wearing a white T-shirt, a lot of times just in his underwear, sitting at the end, and drinking his coffee.  It was the first thing you'd see if you got up that early (or in that late), and all seemed right in the world when he occupied that position, and maybe it was, because I feel like things got worse since he stopped occupying it.  He wasn't chatty in the am, but if you did sit with him for a spell, sometimes he'd ask you about your week, or he'd tell a quick story about his.  One morning he
"The Table" , it was probably just Tuesday
asked me to help him with some math on a bid that he was working on, and my head had trouble fitting through the door that morning (be nice now), as I left for school, thinking that I had been able to help my Dad with something.  Some mornings you'd come down for school and find Dad engaged in conversation with a VA patient at the table.  I never knew how they came to be there, so early in the am, I assumed that Dad had found them sleeping on the front lawn glider and had invited them in.  That table hosted hundreds of guests in it's lifetime, and I still hear stories of people that had dinner with us, as a family, and remember it to this day.  As Dad left for work each am, the parade of kids would start using the table, piling their bowls of Buckwheats along it's length and the stillness of the morning that had existed just scant minutes before, would now be gone.  Last to appear each morning, was my Mother, and she would sit on Dad's end of the table and start the day with a Chesterfield cigarette and a cup of coffee.  If she ate, it
Notice Ace giving a Peace sign, later he'd move to a thumbs up
would generally be a piece of chocolate from a gift box, or sometimes raisin toast.  Like her mother before her, Mom didn't feel it necessary to dress up for house-guests and spent a good deal of the day in her housecoat, sitting at that spot at the table.  Her friends from church, or Mother's Circle or Birthright would pop in all day and have coffee with her.  My mom was a great listener, and one can only imagine the issues that she helped solve each day at that spot.  To say that my Mom never worked, is to have not known my Mom at all. 

     In the afternoon the table would fill again with a passel of kids doing their homework and projects.  You see, back in the day, we did our homework right after school, and before we were allowed to play Xbox (just kidding, we had Pong, not Xbox).  The table would then be prepared of the biggest workload of it's day, hosting the family's dinner each night.  We ate, as a family, at the table each night.  You knew when dinner was and it started on time, with or without you.  I've visited a few military academys and
seen the choreographed precision that is their mealtime, but that was not ours.  We had a mass of 28 hands criss-crossing over that table passing dishes and butter and narrowly avoiding the full glasses of Kool-Aid littered about.  We weren't very good at the last part, so one evening Dad made a rule that we get serve our drinks after our dinners and with our desserts.  My guess is that he got tired of the cherry mashed potatoes that he had to eat when the Kool-Aid inevitably got spilled into them.  To this day, most evenings, I finish my dinner and then realize that I have full drink in front of me.  Once again, we'd rarely just have the family at the table, there would always be a friend of someones joining us, and I don't remember anyone being turned away, ever.  We'd go around the table and share a quick blurb about your day (You do the math, it had to be quick or we'd run into breakfast) One of my favorite memories involved me, educating my Father about the olfactory sense.  After "catching" me smelling my food one night, I was chastised for it. I tried to explain
We did not allow babies on the table, Char didn't know better
to him how I had just learned that smell and taste were connected, so in essence, I was pre-tasting my food, but Dad wasn't buying what I was selling.  He quickly and definitively banned the practice of pre-tasting food at his table.    Two nights later, he took a big gulp of his milk, which he quickly spat back into the glass and bellowed "Louise,  This milk is spoiled !"  You can imagine what I was thinking and my egregious error was to let my face betray my thought and allow the beginning of a smirk to creep unto one corner of my mouth.  I never saw the hand that came and knocked me ass over teakettle unto my back on the floor behind the open-backed bench.  I landed hard, but laughing and exclaimed "But, I never even said it!"  Dad quietly said back, "But you were thinking it", and he was right, I was.  You see at that table, you could get punished, even for things that you were just thinking, and as I learned that night, it didn't always pay to be within an arms reach of your father. 

     After dinner that table would be cleared and over the course of the next few hours before bed, it would randomly be filled with the occasional nighttime visitor, and a few of the family playing board games. The table saw a lot of Euchre games and the worst thing you could be, in my father's eyes, was a "dirty Sandbagger".   The last person to sit at the table some evenings was Mom or Dad waiting to have a conversation with a child who may have tried to stretch his/her curfew a little.  It was never a good thing to sneak in and find that chair occupied.   I'll close the blog by just mentioning the Holiday dinners that were hosted by that table over the years.  I'm going to have to let you imagine them, as the blog is already lengthy, so just substitute Cherry flavored stuffing for the potatoes, and you'll get the idea.  I'll finish as I started, that table was impressive when it was empty, but even more so when it was full. The stories it could tell......
The table had to suffer through P.D.A's and bad fashion too.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When I was 8.....

     When I was 8, I looked at the world in a different way.  I thought everyone had parents who were married, and stayed that way, well, because all of my friends did.  My world was safe and I didn't have constant reminders of the evils in the world, presented to me, streaming live at all times, I had a playground.  It was down the street and I was allowed to go alone to and from it.  With 11 siblings, I rarely did, but I was allowed. When I
was 8, I didn't have to worry about what was in the meals that I ate, admittedly, I was suspicious of the liver, but I didn't have to read the labels to see what I was actually ingesting, but on those few occasions that I did, the labels were shorter, for instance, ground beef read "Ground Beef".  When I was 8, I thought it was cool that my hair grew naturally like Eddie Munster. That was when  I was 8, but not so much now.

     When I was 8, we wore uniforms in Catholic school and we were proud to support our Parrish.  We were taught by nuns and they were allowed to punish us, and it wasn't always by calling us "dumb bunnies".  We went to church on Sundays, and the church would be full.  My dad was a member of the Knights of Columbus and they had a group of a couple of hundred men, when I was 8. That same group now numbers in the handful and meets in the church basement.   People went to Confession when I was 8, but I wonder how many do now?  When I was 8, people went and worked for one company and sometimes for life.  For their loyalty, they were rewarded with a pension.  By the time I entered the workforce this benefit had all but disappeared and people started to job-jump, myself included.  401k's you see, are transportable.  We had a TV when I was 8, but it remained off for most of the day (except for Saturday morning cartoons, when our chores were finished). We may have gotten 5 channels, that was until we got cable and all of us promised Mom and Dad that we would pitch in for that.  I don't recall that any of us ever did.  After church each week we'd visit my Dad's relatives that lived nearby.  Sometimes nearby meant Buffalo, but back then it was important to keep up with family, is it still?  In summer, I had a lake to swim in, a park to play in, and an amusement park that was located at the south end of my town.  The park still exists but with fewer summer programs, the lake has much less access to it, and the amusement park has been gone for 20 years, but it was all there when I was 8. 

     It's a short blog this week, but maybe you'll fill it up with some comments of  things that you know have changed since you were 8.  I suspect my kids wouldn't know how to communicate if the satellites for their cell phones went down. It's amazing how dependent we become on things we didn't even imagine a decade or two ago.  When I was 8, we didn't have a computer in the house.  When my youngest was 8, we had 3, not counting all the ones embedded in our appliances.  I'm sentimental today, missing the simplicity of the life I had at 8, care-free and with broad boundaries.  I wonder what this generation will remember of the time when they were 8?  Probably not Eddie Munster. 


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My imaginary house-guests

     We don't have any imaginary house-guests currently, but there were times in our lives that the house seemed chock full of them. All of my children created imaginary playmates when they were younger and these guests varied in age, occupations, and their lengths of stay on our premises.  

     I never had imaginary friends when I was a kid (except for imaginary girlfriends in high school, but those don't count), but my daughter Molly had 3; Iggy, Map and Sally.  They appeared when she was 3 or 4 and a lot of the details on them have been lost to the ages, but some things I do remember, like with Map.  He had a map for a face.  You remember that kind of thing about people, even imaginary ones.  I never did know what
the map was of, and it seemed rude to ask, cuz when your kids have imaginary friends you just have to play along.  Be warned, this leads to a loss of space in your house when, inevitably, the imaginary friends sit in your favorite spot at the table, or in front of the TV or on the front porch.  By the way, that's where Iggy, Map and Sally lived, on our front porch.  As house-guests go, imaginary or not, that's a great place for them to stay.  I've had family stay here a few times over the years and never once did any of them offer to stay on the front porch.  I miss Iggy, Map and Sally.  I don't remember any of their adventures, but I do remember Molly going out to the front porch to talk with them. They were allowed into the house, but they preferred to stay on the porch a lot.  When Molly got real friends, this never happened, nor did it with Danny or Nolan's friends either.  I miss Iggy, Map and Sally.  They didn't eat much, especially Map.  They would be satisfied with the fallen
Map, is that you?
berries from a weeping cherry in our backyard, sometimes soaked in water like a good herbal tea.  It was during one of those backyard outings that Molly likely met the neighbor girl looking through our hedge in the yard and quickly thereafter the appearances by Iggy, Map or Sally got less frequent and were replaced by the appearances of Stacy, the neighbor girl.  I think they disappeared one at a time with Sally going last, and Stacy was probably introduced to Sally at one point or another.  As said previously, as imaginary friends go, Iggy, Map and Sally were the best.  I think of them often, especially Map, especially while driving.

     It was a few years later before we got our next imaginary house-guest when Danny mentioned his friend Sam, from Alabama.  We had never been to Alabama, so that's how we knew Danny's friend was imaginary.  The first time that he was mentioned we were driving somewhere and I was asked to slow down so that Sam (from Alabama) could catch up. I complied for a little while but eventually we had to teach Sam to keep up.   That might have been when Sam (from Alabama) got a zebra to ride on.  He kept pace after that.  If you wondered why he rode a zebra instead of a horse, I never asked.  I just figured it was what you did,
when you were from Alabama.  I'll never know where Danny got the inspiration for Sam (from Alabama) from, but for the Alabama part, I blame Map.  Sam appeared almost every time that we were driving but I don't actually remember seeing him around the house that much (Well, of course I didn't see him, he was IMAGINARY).  I suspect that because Danny had an older sister at home, he had less of a need for imaginary friends there,as was the case when I grew up.  I never remember having imaginary friends.  I had 11 siblings and a dog, and that seemed to be enough. Dan had Molly except when we were in the car.  The specific details on Sam were sparse. To this day I don't know whether Sam was a boy or girl.  I only know that her/his state of origin, and the fact that he/she owned or leased a zebra. 
     It was 6 years or so before our next visit by an imaginary friend, and coincidentally Nolan's friend was named Sam.  He wasn't from Alabama, we know because we asked.  Even though he was the most recent imaginary friend I don't remember a lot about this Sam (not from Alabama) except for the fire.  I could never forget the fire.  Sam had been visiting with us for a few months by then, and I had started traveling for work.  I came home one day, from a trip, to hear of the tragedy.  Sam's family had lost their house in a fire and had come to live with us.  No imaginary friends had perished in the blaze but there was simply no saving the imaginary house.   I don't blame the imaginary firemen, some times they do
Sam's new home, we couldn't compete with this
their best, but their best isn't enough.  I'll leave it to the imaginary lawyers and imaginary judges to sort it out.  I will frankly admit that imaginary insurance companies are no faster at compensating for home loss than the real ones, because that family was with us for months.  They ate at our crowded table, they slept in our crowded house, and we had to fill extra imaginary grocery carts up just for them.  The imaginary Red Cross could do nothing for us, so one day while traveling, I took matters into my own hands.  I was traveling with my boss and told him of my predicament.  He, coincidentally, knew an imaginary real estate agent who had just gotten an imaginary listing on a beautiful new imaginary house.  He was kind enough to call and talk with Nolan a few days later and share the good news with him.  After the imaginary closing date, Sam's family moved out and shortly thereafter Sam stopped appearing at the house too.  To my knowledge, that Sam (not from Alabama) was the last imaginary house-guest that we had.  As said previously, I miss them all, especially Map, especially while driving. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

On Lobster

     While it's true that my Mother's love of lobster was legendary, I'd like to point out that my Dad was no slacker when it came to lobster either, and this blog starts with some of his adventures.....

     I strongly suspect that my Mom introduced my Dad to lobster.  He was from an Upstate NY hamlet and worked on a farm, that did not plant lobsters, and she was from the East Coast and had relatives that were in the business, so it's likely that she taught Dad about lobsters.  She loved them so much that my Dad became somewhat of an expert over the years on cooking them and carting them back to NY.  A good husband will do
The lobster that was as big as Danny
that, you know, try and learn about the things that your wife loves, it's good for the soul and your marriage and my Dad jumped in feet first.  Every trip that we took as kids to Boston to visit Mom's urban relatives always included a side trip up to rural Maine for a quick visit to that side of the family and of course for a lobster fix.  It started small with us staying in tents or campers on my cousin's property and having some lobster with them, but it grew after that, with pre-arranged orders and traveling back with them, the lobsters, not the relatives.  They made some money (the relatives, not the lobsters) and we got wholesale pricing on lobster, so it was a win-win.  The first time I remember doing a lobster run, we were actually camping in Vermont.

     We had found a small family run campground near Crystal Lake State Park and were settled in there for the week.  A few days into the vacation my Dad arranged an overnight trip up and back to Maine to get some lobster.  You would have thought that providing lobster for his family of 12 would have been enough, but you probably didn't know my Dad then, as he tested the limits of "the more the merrier" on countless occasions.  He walked around the campground for the better part of a day, introducing himself to complete strangers and taking orders for their lobsters, as if they were kin.  If they were uncomfortable cooking them, he offered to show them how, and at least in one case, cooked the lobsters for some folks.  He hadn't planned on buying so many, so he cleaned out a large rectangular box that we kept pots and pans in, and used that to transport the 60 or so lobsters back from Maine.  On later trips, he lined it with a hard foam and made it more watertight. The evening that he returned, the sounds of crackling campfires
Lobster fisherman
and the smell of boiling and steaming fresh lobsters abounded in that small campground, thanks to my Dad.  There was a large contingent of Canadians at this particular campground that were seasonal campers and they jumped in with the others and tried their hands at cooking live lobsters.  I've often wondered if the lobster run at that campground became an annual tradition with those folks, and I wouldn't be surprised if it did, my Dad could do that sort of thing, and that was just the first time I remember traveling with them.  We used that blue camping box numerous times over the years after that, gradually stretching the limits of how many it could hold, and when we got over a 100, we had to adapt.  That's when we built the lobster trailer.

     A lobster trailer, you say?  Well, kind of.  Dad had modified an existing camping trailer to hold 12 people and we had stenciled it "The Dirty Dozen".  It had 3 pull out bunks and 3 lowers, so that we could sleep a dozen people in it.  We used it for many a family camping trip, but coincidentally when the need for that number of
My niece Adriana showing Molly a lobster while camping
people decreased, our need to transport more lobsters grew (and the trailer bunks had seen their share of wear and tear) inevitably the points collided and my Dad hollowed out the trailer, lined it with foam and started to haul lobsters in it.  I don't remember the early trips, but I remember Dad talking to his Knights of Columbus buddies and taking orders, and I'm blatantly making it up that they announced it in church one Sunday, but it must have been close to the truth, because how else could we have sold 800 lobsters on a sunny Sunday morning?  That's right 8 hundred lobsters.  If memory holds true, we sold them out of our driveway one Sunday morning at $3.50 a lb, so a $5.00 bill would get you a nice lobster.  It was around 1981.  We sold out in a few short hours.  Like I said before, Dad could do that sort of thing, but he did pass on some of his mad lobster skills.

    I actually had the opportunity to go out on the lobster boat with my cousins once.  The only instruction was to not touch the smokestack that came up the middle of the boat, as it was red hot.  I made it out and almost all the way back into the harbor through pitching seas without touching it, that was, until I got bored on the last
stretch and actually leaned against it with the tender underside of my arm.  The scar healed and it was a lesson that I didn't have to learn twice, and it did nothing to temper my lobster enthusiasm.  I did my share of lobster cooking at camp outs and at home but the most memorable lobster story I have came after a successful night at poker.  I had a good (some say lucky) night at poker and the next day I was looking for a way to splurge with my winnings.  I'm a firm believer in frivolously spending found money, so I soon was standing at the lobster tank at Wegmans.  I like a 2lb or better for myself and that's what I had asked for, but they had mostly small lobsters, that is, except for "Ol George", or at least that's what the fish guy said to me.  When I inquired what an "Ol George" was, he directed me to look into the back of the tank and hunkered down in the corner of the tank was an 8lb lobster with claws that looked like Popeye's arms.  It cost me all of my winnings but soon "Ol George" was headed home to have dinner with the Yargers.  Buying only one deprived my kids of the lobster races that we normally had, but I'll never forget the look on the kids faces, well the picture that follows, helps.  When we stretched it out, it was as tall as my son Dan and he was probably 4 or so at the time.  We had to borrow a large pot from the fire company and even then one of the giant claws stuck out of the pot until "Ol George" softened enough to tuck it in.  You would think that a lobster that old would have

Is it any wonder that Molly became a vegetarian?
been tough, but you would be wrong.  It was delicious.  I'll finish this lobster blog now, and before anyone else says it, I'll freely admit that my lobster exploits pale in comparison to those of my Father, buy hey, there's still time and plenty of lobster left to trap.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A story worth repeating, please share this one.....

     It's not often that I repeat my blogs, repeat myself, yes, but repeat my blogs, no.  This morning's blog is not only a repeat, but it comes with a plea for everyone to share it, Tweet it, e-mail it, or tell others about it and to ask them to share it too.   We are creating a Facebook page today, so feel free to "like" it.   The
nerve.  We hold the 15th Yarger Memorial Scramble on June 9th at Victor Hills and we can use some golfers and sponsors.  It's a great value at $110 per golfer, $100 to sponsor or $500 for a foursome and sponsorship.  Golfers get 18 holes with cart, unlimited lunch, tee gift, all beverages and cigars free on the course delivered by our smiling beer wenches, steak dinner and Meyer and McGuire concert.  The family has voted to end the tournament at year 20, so there are only 6 years left to be part of this awesome event.  It was our wish to end strong, so please help if you can.  We are fortunate to get enough volunteers to more than cover this event, but you can help by spreading the word.  See the details below, and not much has changed since I posted this a year ago. 

It's hard to argue that this blog, on a regular basis, is not self-promoting, because after all, it is all about me, my life experiences and travels, and my family, but this is the first time I'll admit it right 
off the bat. This blog is a shameless self promotion about my family's charity golf tournament, but tell you what, at least I'll give you a little history and story with it to make it more entertaining....

     Not all my family's ideas start by conversing around a beer keg, but some of the best ones do. This was the case 15 years ago at the end of our family reunion at Ontario County Park. I had made my rounds talking with the relatives that I don't interact with regularly and had circled back to hang with some of the fun ones that I do.  For some reason, in my recollection of it, I put a keg in there, though we don't normally have a keg at the reunions, but you can be sure of one thing, that there was beer involved.
The Kays at an early tournament.
  I was having a conversation with my cousin George Kay (Grumpy), and he mentioned that he had just started golfing.  (George's dad was my uncle and a step-brother to my father.  That family never separated themselves with the word step, they just were brothers and sisters.  Since my grandfather took them in, they all considered themselves to be Yargers.  My cousin George felt the same way, and when we launched the first tournament he insisted that it simply be named the Yarger Memorial, not the Kay-Yarger Memorial, and this tradition has been carried on since.  I think it is fitting since the tournament honors that generation that considered themselves one family.  To this day, the Kay side of our family continues to have an impressive turnout at the Yarger Family reunion, as was the case the year the tournament was founded.  I had just started golfing as well, and George and I suggested we should golf the next year before the reunion.  As the beer flowed, we expanded the idea to include more people, then to have a tournament, and then to have a charity tournament.  George had just been through the Cardiac Rehab Department at Thompson Health and he thought a donation there could do a lot of good.  I readily agreed as I had lost many Aunts and Uncles to cardiac disease, and my father had passed at 58 due to it too.  Thus the Yarger Memorial Scramble benefiting the Cardiac Rehab Center at Thompson Health in Cdga, was born.

     The following spring we formed a family committee and approached the hospital with our idea.  They were excited to have a tournament benefit them and pledged all of their support.  The original tournament was held at Parkview Fairways and the date was the second Saturday in August, the day before our family reunion. 

Year 1, dinner under the pavilion
We had 50 golfers participate the first year, and although it didn't run entirely smoothly, we all had fun and we were able to make $5,000 for the C.R.D.  We ate big steaks and roasted corn that we had cooked, and the raffles ran so late that we need flashlights to read the numbers at the end.  It's amazing that we get so many of those original golfers back each year, and yet we do.  That evening, some of us had to go from the tournament, to Ontario County Park to cook the pig for the following day's reunion.  We were exhausted by the end of the 2nd day, so we decided to move the date away from the reunion after that. A smart idea.

     This blog could run too long if I don't start talking about the specifics of the tournament, so let me break it down, starting with the sponsors and golfers. Our major underwriter to the tournament has been Pactiv in Cdga since year 3.  They approached us, looking for a way to support the hospital, and an event that their employees could participate in. Each year we have 6-10 teams made up of current and former Pactiv employees. They had been a great partner, and we hope, even with the changes there this year, that they will be able to continue as our major sponsor. 
Pactiv Group, early on
Our tournament has been a blue collar or hacker's tournament since it's inception.  Some of our players get out just a few times a year to golf, and we are happy that they choose our tournament to do it. That being said we do attract a few good golfers and more professional folk. I suspect that they come for the fun.  The majority of the rest of our sponsors are all small businesses in the surrounding area, that pay $100 to post a sign on the course that day.  About 30-40 % of our sponsors have teams that play in the tournament each year.  The remaining sponsors are special sponsors that pay for the banquet and music.  Just a few years ago, we added a Meyer and McGuire concert at the banquet as part of the tournament, and that was one of the best decisions that we have ever made.  For the last several years, Crosman Corporation and HEP Sales/North Main Lumber have sponsored these and their investment is appreciated by the golfers, and the family. 

     When the golfers check in, they run a gauntlet of sorts, to make it through registration.  We first give them their tee gift and assign them carts.  Each year we logo an item and each golfer receives one.  We have done shirts, hats, umbrellas, coolers, camp stools, blankets, water bottles, and even pullover jackets.
Registration year 2 or 3?
If you want to see what we have given out for the last 13 years, you need only to attend, to see the players, wearing the shirts and jackets, tucking umbrellas in their bags (unused, we have never been rained out in the history of the tournament), donning the hats on their heads, and placing the coolers on their carts. 
     The next stop is where we sell Mulligans.  Each golfer can purchase 2 for $5 each and take a do-over when needed.  Even with the hackers we attract, and in a tournament that doesn't have a Skins competition, most golfers buy 2.  This contributes about $1,000 to the total each year.
     The last stop is the merchandise raffle.  We aim to collect $20 from each golfer for this station.  It may seem like a lot, but in actuality it is a bargain for the golfers. My family spends many months approaching local businesses and collecting merchandise donations.  We are so grateful for the hundreds of donors that choose to contribute to this raffle each year. 
Our first wenches
We raffle over $5,000 worth of merchandise each time, so on average, a $20 donation nets you a $35 prize. That's not to say everyone is a winner though, I have a friend who golfs each year and swears he had never won, and I have a nephew who golfed and brought home big ticket gifts in consecutive years.  The merchandise raffle nets around $2,500 each year, the second biggest fundraiser of the tournament.

      Now for the math majors out there, you've noticed that we are short about $1,500 for our $10,000 goal.  The last part of the tournament is a Cash Raffle. The tickets are distributed amongst family members months before the tournament and pre-sold to friends and acquaintances for $5 each.  We finish the selling on the day of the tournament to the golfers and draw the winners at the end of the tournament.  This generally makes up the last $1,500 of our $10,000 goal each year.  In it's 13 year history the tournament has been able to donate over $120,000 to the CRD at Thompson Health, no small feat, but all due to the amazing loyalty of our golfers, donors, sponsors and workers.

     I have to brag up on our workers a little. Since early on, the tournament has run pretty self sufficient from the hospital.  They help with the initial mailings and some PR, but the tournament itself is staffed fully by family and friends.  I'm proud that all of my family contributes in some way to the tournament, so I've taken care not to single out any individuals, in this blog.  My siblings staff the registration tables, write the program, sell cash raffle tickets, golf, serve on the committee, collect merchandise, attract sponsors, babysit the day of the event for family members, take pictures of the teams each year, and even served as Beer Wenches. Non family members contribute too, we have a family friend who custom designs and carves the trophies each year, and that is one more unique thing about the tournament.

Wenches, maybe year 7 or 8?
 I'm proud that each and every one of them chooses to contribute each year.  My nieces, nephews and cousins have continued to step up as well, selling tickets, golfing or attending the dinner.  Our tournament gets a lot of praise for it's organization and for how much fun it is.  These are both attributable to the volunteers that give so much of their time.  On the subject of beer wenches, (one of my favorite subjects), I think they add a dimension to the tournament that is unlike any other.  We have 8 volunteers, in teams of 2, run each side of the course back to front, and then front to back.  Their job is not only to help deliver the beverages, but to hand out free cigars and to interact playfully with the golf teams (If you don't take the golf too seriously, you can do this.) Each team makes this job their own, and it all the years we have run, I don't recall a bad team.  There are 2 stories, that I love to tell about our beer wenches, the first is one of our girls met her future husband the night of the tournament, and the second is, we had a girl accidentally break her hand one year at the tournament, and even though it cost her weeks of actual work, she was the first to volunteer again the next year.  I told you we have the best volunteers.  We actually don't have enough spots for the volunteers we get each year. It sounds like a good position to be in, but I have trouble saying no to people that want to be a part of the tournament so badly.

     A blog about the tournament wouldn't be complete without a mention of our new permanent location, Victor Hills Golf course.  While the first course had it's charm, the folks are Victor Hills have been great partners for this fundraiser since year 2.
Crowd at Victor Hills
 The date has changed a few times in the past, but now is always the 2nd Saturday in June.  Victor Hills makes sure the course is in shape, the food is hot and plentiful, and that everything they are responsible for runs smoothly, and they fire on all cylinders each year.  We get a lot of compliments on the hard work they do, and I'd like to acknowledge Jay Dianetti, his family, and his staff for all of their efforts.  The tournament wouldn't be nearly as successful without them. 

Grumpy and I with the staff at the CRD.
      As I close out this blog, it is only fitting that I finish by talking about our charity, the Cardiac Rehab Department at Thompson Health.  From the very first year, they have been good stewards of the funds we provide to them.
 They have expanded their space 2 times, purchased exercise and monitoring equipment for the center, given training to their staff and most importantly, given scholarships to use the facility to those who could not have afforded to attend their programs otherwise.  The work they do is incredible and if you live or work in Canandaigua NY, you likely have contact with someone that they have helped.  I know, I certainly have.  Well after we started the tournament I found out that my Uncle Charlie was the longest surviving patient that they had of the original people to go through the program, "The Magnificent Seven".  I cannot think of a more deserving charity for our family's tournament.

     So if you see this blog and have an interest in participating in any of the aspects of the Yarger Memorial, please feel free to contact us.  We can be reached at PO Box 23 Hall NY 14463 or e-mailed at wyarger@rochester.rr.com  We are continually looking for sponsors, donors, raffle ticket buyers, and golfers.  I personally keep my eyes open for good beer wenches in my travels, although I am not longer allowed to interview them.  When we started the tournament we had 3 goals.  They were, to have fun, to make some money for the CRD, and to honor the memory of our relatives that had passed due to heart disease.  I think in the 14 year run, we have kept our promise on  all 3. Fore.