Archive for February, 2008

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Support The Brian Epstein Campaign!

February 28, 2008

 

 

I’m not much of a fan of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame anymore, what with their wacked out bizarre selections of recent years but there is a website run by a group of people actively trying to get a special person finally inducted and this particular person more than proves the point that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is crazed and losing credibility: Brian Epstein. 

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Over the past 40-some years I have read and heard a multitude of people say, “Where would rock & roll be without the Beatles?” True. But where would the Beatles have been without Brian Epstein? As has been the case very single year since the start of the Hall of Fame – his name has never been included on the list of non-performers selected by the Hall’s Nominating Committee to be considered for induction.

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The Campaign To Have Mister Brian Epstein Inducted Into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has an online petition going and if you have any love of rock & roll and/or the Beatles take one minute and stop by and sign it! Go to BrianEpstein.com – the Official Website dedicated to celebrating the life and achievements of Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Go now!

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KISS Meets Paul Lynde

February 24, 2008

 

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Being a fan of KISS and Paul Lynde I was jolted into flashback mode a few months ago when I first heard about the DVD release of the Paul Lynde Halloween Special, a TV special produced in 1976. I saw it in ’76 (although a fan of Paul Lynde, it was KISS that made me find a TV and tune in the night it aired) and had forgotten all about it until this release. It’s the epitome of 1970’s television, so bad it’s good. So embarrassing in places that it’s captivating. (Think Brady Bunch Variety Hour or Donny & Marie.)

 

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It was also KISS’ first-ever prime time TV network appearance.

 

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Among Paul Lynde’s guests that night (and on the DVD) in addition to KISS are Florence Henderson (Carol Brady), Margaret Hamilton (Wicked Witch of the West), Donny & Marie Osmond, Tim Conway, Roz Kelly (Pinky Tuscadero) & Billie Hayes (Witchiepoo). Members of KISS, particularly Paul Stanley, participated in skits and performed Detroit Rock City and Beth

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This is pure, unadulterated 70’s kitsch in its purest form. If you’re a Paul Lynde fan you’ll love it, if you’re a hardcore KISS Army inductee you just may be embarrassed (KISS appeared that way, maybe it was boredom, in several scenes) but the curiosity level, like slowing down to scope out a car wreck, will tempt you.

 Ken Begg over at JABOOTU The Bad Movie Dimension has a detailed killer (and insightful) review. Check it out!

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Chippewa Lake: A Baby Boomer’s Paradise

February 23, 2008

 

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Back in the 1960s and 1970s when I was growing up there was a spring/summer tradition that brought a gathering of the tribes, if you will, to a place called Chippewa Lake Amusement Park located in Chippewa Lake, Ohio. A well known and impressive amusement park that began life in 1878, by the time the swinging 60’s arrived there was an annual ‘Fan Appreciation Day’ that was at first hosted and sponsored by the famed WIXY 1260 AM radio station and then later hosted by WHLO 640 AM radio and each station brought in some of the biggest names in rock n roll for performances.

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My first visit there was in the mid-1960’s sometime when I was staying with an aunt and uncle for several weeks. One day we went to Chippewa Lake Amusement Park to drop my cousin and her friend off and decided to stay awhile. While I was fairly young I remember having a lot of fun on the rides, eating the good food and checking out the lake and then I heard the music! I know that song! From the spacious ballroom came the thundering and melodic sounds of Tommy James & The Shondells!

 

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 Throughout the 60’s annually top bands would come in to Chippewa Lake when that appreciation day was first known as the Galaxy of Stars Teen Fair. During the 60’s those lucky enough to attend could see, among the top local and regional bands, such national acts as the aforementioned Tommy James and The Shondells, the Outsiders, Music Explosion, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Neil Diamond, Left Banke, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Chylds and many, many others. Cost? Anywhere from 50 cents to a buck and a half would get you in for a full day of music and fun.

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 Somewhere around 1970 I returned with my pals and made it an annual trek during the 70’s. In fact, it often seemed the entire town of Orrville would show up among the thousands of others from the neighboring towns and cities. My first time back there as a teenager was to see Alice Cooper and in the ensuing years bands and performers such as Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, Glass Harp and many others made their way to Chippewa Lake Park. 

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One of my fondest memories attending WHLO Fan Appreciation Day came in 1973 when a large caravan of cars left Orrville and headed about 20 minutes north to Chippewa Lake Amusement Park. It was a hot, sunny day, perfect weather, probably a dozen cars and vans from Orrville packed with people parked together and I had a very special young lady with me that day named Lauren, a beautiful, beautiful, classy young lady who made the day special. She was better than I deserved.

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The radio station also had several promotions going and the one I remember each year was when they would drop probably hundreds of ping pong balls with prizes on them, usually a 45 record of which I won several. Each time I attended, with a sweltering mass of thousands of people, was a positive experience. How could a teenager go wrong with beautiful weather, a first class amusement park, terrific food, a friendly staff, some of the best rock n roll music and thousands of pretty girls everywhere you looked?  

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Alas, Chippewa Lake Amusement Park is no longer in existence. After 100 years the park shut down in 1978 and has been idle since then. Unfortunately, the ornate ballroom was victimized on June 13, 2002 when vandals set fire to it. But when it was alive and well, it was booming and thriving and a wonderful place for baby-boomers to create memories. And I have plenty! 

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For more on Chippewa Lake Amusement Park visit: Chippewa Lake There is also an active & passionate Yahoo Group devoted to Chippewa Lake Amusement Park: Chippewa Lake Yahoo Group

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Contact Doc at: DocLehman99@gmail.com

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Wanted: Time Machine

February 19, 2008
 
 
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When I first saw the photo of the newstand above my first thought was, “Man, wish I had a time machine and a $100.00 bill from 1938!” Notice at the bottom towards the right hand side the three copies of ACTION COMICS #1 that featured the debut of Superman. So this photo was taken in the spring of 1938. Actually if I could go back to the spring of 1938 I’d take more than a hundred bucks. I’d take enough to buy Harry Donenfeld dinner and drinks and buy the original art! Have no idea what year the photo below was taken but the same principles apply (hope that kid saved some of them!). Give me a time machine and some cash!
 
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Contact Doc Lehman at: DocLehman@sssnet.com
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I Need A New Wallet

February 18, 2008

        

 

I need a wallet. Again.

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It’s not that I abuse them or have them stuffed full of greenbacks, it’s just that I rarely buy one and only then when the one I have is so ragged, worn, torn and basically falling apart, which is the condition my current wallet is in. Is it in bad shape? The threads are hanging!

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For twenty-five or more years whenever I needed a new wallet, whether I thought so or the wife did, I only had to wait until Father’s Day, my birthday or Christmas and invariably I would get a new one from one of my kids. Basic black, with a section to hold photos and don’t spend over $10.00. Five bucks would be better (those were always my requirements).
 

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But with my kids grown and out of the house and no such holiday in sight it appears I’ll have to find a new one on my own. I need a new one anyway as the plastic photo holder is about worn out and of course filled with grandkids pictures but I got some new ones that need put in. Somewhere I have a stack of old plastic wallet photo holders that go back to before my own kids were in school. That’s where my collection of their school photos are, still wedged into an old wallet photo holder. 

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The pics of the two wallets you see here are the first two wallets I ever owned. My Mom bought the Batman wallet at Buckeye Mart in Wooster, OH circa 1966. The Green Hornet wallet came in 1967 when my Aunt Margie bought it for me at some store in the Summit Mall when I was spending a long weekend with her. 

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 Nothing has changed. I have about the same amount of money now as I did back then!

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With A Name Like Smucker’s The Beatles Have To Be Good!

February 18, 2008

   

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Last night I had my annual viewing of The Beatles’ debut film, A HARD DAY”S NIGHT. For 20 years or so it has become a tradition at my home that at least once every winter I watch A HARD DAY”S NIGHT, my all-time favorite film. I’ve seen it countless times over the years on television and have had it on video since sometime in the 80’s. My wife bought the new deluxe DVD edition when it came out for me. 

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The film was originally released on July 6, 1964 and served as an added rocket booster to Beatlemania, a force that was sweeping the world as this film was released, a film that has been credited with motivating young men (and women) all over the world to grow their hair long and start a band (just ask someone like Paul Stanley of KISS, to name one of hundreds, perhaps thousands).

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When it came out way back in 1964 I can remember seeing it with my older sister, Cheryl, and cousin, Sue, at the Orr Theatre in Orrville, OH. The reason I was there to see it was in all likely hood my parents’ doing. My sister was a teenybopper and I think I may have been utilized during much of the 60’s to ‘spy’ on Cheryl in case she was with a boy at the movies. I can only recall her being with a guy maybe once or twice but I’d never tell! And didn’t! 

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As far as what memories I have of attending A HARD DAY’S NIGHT that summer afternoon was seeing the Beatles on screen, the music but most of my memories that remain are the tremendous amount of teen age girls who were there (it was packed!) and VERY vocal! They were loud! And yes, it was Beatle-screaming. Kinda freaked this young kid out, you know? 

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The magazine you see here was released during 1964 to help promote the movie and I guess act as a souvenir of sorts. I have a very hazy memory of seeing this magazine at my cousin Sue’s home (she bought all the music and teen magazines) and spending time going through all the pages more than once. 

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Jump ahead 12 years and I am helping out a relative who was a painting contractor and one job we had was a Smucker home in Orrville. The home belonged to Mrs. Welker (Helen) Smucker on High Street. It was probably only five or six years since her husband, Welker, one of the sons of the founder of the J.M. Smucker Company, had passed on. Having never met Welker Smucker I nonetheless knew who he was by name and reputation.

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In addition to his corporate work and ownership with his brothers and family in the Smucker’s jam & jelly company, Welker, like the rest of his family, was generous to a fault. The city and schools, among other entities (like Boys Village, the Orrville Boys & Girls Club, etcetera), have had tremendous benevolence bestowed to them by the entire Smucker family for generations now (it continues), and Welker was a leader in civic responsibility, especially when it came to children. His wife, Helen, was also one to show acts of kindness and I had first hand experience in that.

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As we were preparing the basement, if you can call it that, as I was taken aback by the size and luxuriousness of it. It had been completely remodeled and consisted of several rooms, mainly as an activity and social room that their children, then grown, had used to entertain friends. Mrs. Smucker told me they used to hold dances and parties down there. 

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The second day as we were taking a lunch break Mrs. Smucker came downstairs to check on our progress and to prepare some boxes, with items taken from a large cabinet, to be moved upstairs. When she asked me to carry the boxes upstairs I noticed on the top of one box laid a copy of the magazine you see here! I couldn’t believe it! I asked her if she minded if I took a look at it over lunch downstairs and she said that I could have it! She informed that all the items she removed from the cabinet downstairs and boxed up were going to the trash! 

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I thanked her profusely! She couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about but I tried to explain it was a blast from the past for me, something that even in 1976 held nostalgia for me. To her it was just an old magazine and in the way. A couple years later I met her son Larry and related the tale about his mother, who had since passed. He just smiled and said, ‘That sounds like her!’ 

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No, it doesn’t compare to the untold thousands, likely millions, of dollars the Smucker family has given, many times if not most times without seeking, asking or wanting any fanfare or glory. But it’s just a small, random act of kindness that I haven’t forgotten in over 30 years.

 

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Contact Doc Lehman at: DocLehman@sssnet.com

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Contemporary Pictorial Literature (CPL): A Look Back

February 14, 2008

Back in the 1960’s when I was an avid comic book collector I started to receive fanzines. Fanzines are for the most part ‘amateur’ publications devoted to a genre of some sorts and comic book fanzines had a tremendous appeal to me, to the point where in the 70’s, as my interest in collecting waned to the point I no longer purchased comic books, I still ordered fanzines for several years thereafter.

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As an aspiring writer I had hoped to eventually have the opportunity to be published and fanzines were the perfect vehicle to hone ones skills, so to speak. In 1971, in the throes of junior high school my pal and fellow collector Mike ‘Buck’ Humrichouser and I produced two issues of our fanzine, Informative On Comics (more on this at a later time).

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We dutifully rented a post office box, put together an advertisement using my Dad’s typewriter and some horrible sketches I drew (Cyclops is one I remember) and purchased an ad in The Buyer’s Guide For Comics Fandom. I have no idea how many we sold, possibly 25 or 30 maybe out of a print run of 100. We probably mailed out another 30 or more for free (and for reviews) and gave the rest away to our friends. We also made sure our principal and selected teachers received one.) 

 

 

 

My interest for all things in writing, publishing and editing skyrocketed at that point.

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Soon after I began submitting articles to a number of fanzines and wouldn’t you know it, some of them actually published them. Some of the names escape me but I recall being published in ‘zines like The Media and Blast among others and soon had regular articles and a review column for a Canadian tabloid called The Journal that was published by Paul Kowtiuk and his Maple Leaf Publishing.

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Some of my favorite fanzines were ones I never wrote for, like The Collector, Rocket’s Blast Comic Collector, the aforementioned The Buyer’s Guide For Comic Fandom, The Comic Reader, Eclipse, Epoch, Inside Comics, Wonderful World of Comics, Mirkwood Times, Fantastic Fanzine, Etcetera, Comixscene, and a slew of others whose names now escape me.

 

 

 

One of my must-have’s was CPL, produced in Indianapolis titled CPL, short for Contemporary Pictorial Literature. Sometime circa 1972 or early ’73 probably I ordered a comic book sales catalogue from Bob Layton and received the first CPL. Within a couple issues it had evolved into a full-blown fanzine being produced by Layton along with Roger Stern and their ‘Gang’, mainly young then-unknowns like John Byrne, Roger Slifer, Tony Isabella, Don Maitz, Michael Uslan, Larry Brnicky, Duffy Vohland, Steven Grant and others.

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Most, if not all, continued in the field and eventually rose to the forefront of the comics industry.

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I had a couple letters printed in CPL and, I haven’t heard back from Bob on this yet, but I vaguely recall having some material published in CPL, but I may be confusing that with various letters submitted for publication.

 

 

 

 

I have fond memories of CPL and the excitement it generated in fandom.

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I was basically done with comics for the most part around ’76 but checked in from time to time and was thrilled to find out that former CPLers like Bob Layton, John Byrne, Roger Stern, Tony Isabella, Steven Grant and so many others achieved ‘star’ status in the comic book industry with Bob being, to this day, closely associated with Ironman, John Byrne with X-Men and Superman, Roger Stern with Spider-Man and Superman, Tony Isabella created Black Lightning, Michael Uslan goes on to produce the Batman movies, the list goes on.

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The funny thing is I eventually married and had three children I couldn’t get any of my kids to read a comic book or have any interest in superheroes or comics at all as they grew up. No matter what! Buying them comic books was a waste of time, they had zero interest and I couldn’t sell the kids on them.

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Now a couple decades later I presently have four grandsons. The two oldest (7, 4) can quote chapter and verse superheroes, their secret identifies, their archenemies, supporting characters…very impressive! I think the oldest one could be an artist! They have comics, coloring books, action figures, DVDs, etc… We are using comic books to help teach them to read (it worked for me!) I am sure once they are older Brenden (2) and Kaden (6 months) will follow suit.

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It must skip a generation.

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During most of the lifespan of CPL, which incidentally had a very entertaining mix of articles, interviews, columns, art, strips and more, I maintained correspondence with Bob Layton writing back and forth semi-regularly and I recall several telephone calls from Orrville, OH to Indianapolis. Bob, just a couple years older than I, always took the time to write back and offering encouragement and advice.

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Several years later when I was publishing my two music magazines, Boxoffice Rock and Bangagong, and still later in the 80’s when I published an auto racing magazine, Dirt Track Report, to say nothing of the STARS sanctioning body magazine I produced and countless auto racing souvenir programs for various race tracks and sanctioning bodies, I would always recall my fanzine experiences and in particular the motivation he gave me and what I was able to learn ‘back in the day’ from Bob Layton.

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With having extra time recently after ‘retiring’ from motorsports and recuperating from three heart attacks and open heart surgery, call it a mid-life crisis if you will, but I have gotten nostalgic for the old days of fanzines, comic books and rock ‘n roll. To the point I am beginning to search out such items as old CPLs, etc… to replace the ones I once had that are now long gone (an interesting story I will share at a later time). For some reason a copy of CPL 12 survived all these years.

 

 

 

 

Recently while surfing the net I discovered Bob Layton’s website and dropped him an email asking how he was doing and what his memories were from his CPL days. He responded promptly with the following (the full response is on his website):

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“Doc, you can’t imagine how surprised I was to hear from you after all these years! Since you were there, more or less, I’m sure you knew that we were all incredibly enthusiastic about comics in general and about launching our careers as cartoonists individually.”

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“Publishing fanzines in the early 70’s was an exciting time for me. This was before the internet and before the ability for fans to congregate online or at conventions. CPL was my first experience with meeting other people who were interested in comics and comic art. So, as you can imagine, my memories of that time are fond, indeed. I am still amazed, to this day, that there are so many people who remember that small digest fanzine.” 

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“I think we can attribute that to the number of contributors who went on to have notable careers in the comic book industry. Not just myself, but fan folks like John Byrne, Roger Stern, Don Maitz, Bob Hall, Michael Uslan, Tony Isabella, Roger Slifer, Steven Grant and Duffy Vohland all went on to work in the comic industry in one capacity or another.  Add to that, the number of contributors to CPL who were already-established professionals like Gil Kane, Alex Toth, Paul Gulacy, Mike Vosburg, Dan Adkins, P. Craig Russell and Joe Sinnott and I think you have a formula for a milestone in fan-publishing.”

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“So–yes, I look back to those days quite fondly. Not only did we carve a nifty little niche into the infancy of comic fandom, but we also created a few memorable characters like the lovable letter hack Rog-2000 (who went on to his own series at Charlton Comics).  And just to show you that I remember you from your letter writing days, I’m attaching a scan of the actual page from CPL 8.” 

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Below is the CPL letter page from CPL 8 Bob so graciously scanned that had a letter from me somewhat pissed off that someone unfairly (to me) attacked the talent of John Byrne. After discovering all that John Byrne had went on and achieved in the industry (and seeing artwork of his on Time magazine many years ago) after CPL I think its safe to say I called that one right (as did many others).

 

 

 

 

I have nothing but very good and fond memories of that time and how exciting it was in comic book fandom back then. I’m extremely impressed that Bob Layton, John Byrne, Roger Stern and the rest have accomplished so much. Their talent is amazing. They have much to be proud of and my grandsons have tons of exciting reading material and artwork to read and enjoy over the years thanks to all the archive editions of old comic books now being published.

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And I still have lots of good memories of the kindness, time, advice and consideration Bob Layton showed me so many years ago that served me well later on in my career, albeit not in comics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interesting Links:

 

Bob Layton: www.boblayton.com

John Byrne: www.byrnerobotics.com

Roger Stern: http://p081.ezboard.com/fsterntalkfrm2

Tony Isabella: http://www.worldfamouscomics.com/tony

Steven Grant: http://www.comicbookresources.com/columns/?column=10

 

Note: All images copyright © respective copyright holders.

 

Contact Doc Lehman at: DocLehman@sssnet.com

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