Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Ebensburg, PA

On this day, my husband had some brake work on his Chevy Impala scheduled to be done by his childhood buddy back home. This meant that we'd be making a trip to Ebensburg. When we go there, we often try to fit in a nice lunch at Off the Rak, but we noticed a new breakfast special at Eat 'n Park, and as Altoona was on our way, we decided to start our day with that, instead of waiting for lunch.

And thank God for breakfast, for the day, as it turned out, threw us more adventures than we expected. The breakfast in question is called the Super Senior Griddle Smile (see a photo in the extras), and it features eggs however you like them, your choice of meat, choice of toast, choice of potato, and choice of side (we picked the grilled stickies, which are little cinnamon rolls fried in butter and topped with dipping sauce - and in the end, saved those for later). Yum!

Our plan was that my husband would drop me off somewhere in town and pick me up at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument a few hours later. Meanwhile, I would do another little walking tour of Ebensburg, just as I did last spring. I had several destinations in mind: I wanted to visit the Old Holy Name Cemetery again; I planned to go back to that cool, four-story antique shop and BUY the fancy antique Christmas balls I'd been coveting since last spring; and I hoped to locate the Old Welsh Cemetery.

Rain was in the forecast, and I had my daysack with my camera and tiger and umbrella and an extra shirt and bottled water. He dropped me off at Old Holy Name Cemetery and I wandered around, taking more photos of a rather large, cool cemetery. After that, I looked at my map and pretty easily located the Old Welsh Cemetery, where the graves were so old that most of them had no words on anymore.

I thought I might want to buy some things at the antique shop, so I saved that destination for last, so that whatever I bought, I wouldn't have to carry around for long! And so, with high hopes, I approached the antique shop on High Street. But wait - it looked dark inside. Actually - nobody was there! I looked at the hours posted on the door. The antique shop is open six days a week. Want to guess which day it is NOT open? You got it: MONDAYS!!! Thwarted!

Well, I was pretty disappointed at that, but I was still not daunted. I looked at my map and I picked out the name of a church that sounded cool; maybe they would have some nice statues? So I hoofed it on over, several blocks, only to discover that either the church no longer exists, or it exists inside a regular looking HOUSE that has no religious accoutrements about it at all! No statues, no crosses, no nothing. Several blocks - there and back again - for nothing.

My husband and I don't have cell phones. We said we'd get a set once I retired but we somehow have not gotten around to it. So we had set 2 pm as a time that I'd check in at the monument, and then every half-hour after that. But by that time, I'd done everything I'd set out to do and I was tired of walking. So I went to the monument and took a bunch of pictures, then settled into a bench nearby with my book.

The 63-foot monument itself is pretty impressive, as you can see. It features a Civil War "armed sentinel" against a gray obelisk. Beneath the soldier and obelisk are bronze tablets featuring the names of Cambria County's war dead, from the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War.

A news story from around the time the monument was erected (1915) said this:  "We want the children of our schools, as they pass by the monument, to know that this county gave their best men, volunteers at that, to defend our country." In front of the monument is a circle of six flags, the U.S. flag flanked by those of the five branches of our military.

My own best memory of this monument is of my husband's father, a World War II veteran, giving a speech at this location as a featured veteran on one of the last Memorial Days that he was alive. He was a Navy man who served on a ship in the Pacific and the Mediterranean, just as the war ended. (My father-in-law's brother, delivering the eulogy at his funeral, said that the Germans, after receiving word that my father-in-law had signed up, immediately surrendered!)

But take a look at this picture, and see the huge, dark clouds looming, and you will be able to guess exactly what happened next: it had been drizzling off and on, but the skies opened up and it began to rain. And so I got out my umbrella, huddled against the front corner of the monument where the wet wasn't as bad, and sat with my tiger, reading my book in the rain.

And then the rain stopped, but everywhere else besides where I'd been sitting was soaked. So I went back to my little dry spot and there I sat, reading my book, as it rained off and on, but never really a complete downpour, like we got later, after we arrived home.

Around 3:15, I saw my husband's car pull up, and I heard brake noise. Oh no! I knew before I even got in the car that We Had Big Trouble. Yes, they'd replaced all parts of the front brakes, but in doing so, the brake hose, old and worn down, had given up the ghost! And apparently, there was not a single 2010 Impala brake hose available ANYWHERE in Cambria County.

The very sad news was this: after having the brake work done, we now had even WORSE brakes than we started out with. In fact, we had pretty much NO BRAKES for the entire drive home. Yee-haw! Oh, and of course, there was no way we could stop now for additional meals, such as steak salads.

So my husband babied the car home, the drive itself being an hour to an hour and a half, without using the brakes. It was a hairy trip, but he's done this sort of thing before, and it was with a great sigh of relief that we pulled into our own driveway and parked the car.

Even better, the timing of the rain worked out: about five minutes after we'd gotten everything OUT of the car, the downpours began in earnest! I was glad it waited. Oh, and did I mention: I was REALLY, REALLY glad I'd had a marvelous breakfast! :-)

The soundtrack song for this day of unexpected adventures is this song, which fortuitously came on my iPod as I was sitting at the monument in the rain: the Dixie Chicks, with Traveling Soldier.

Bonus link: another story in which the day is saved by breakfast!

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