Friday, April 27, 2012

1947...Patriots Day and the Boston Marathon

A recent “Jeopardy” question about the Boston Marathon jolted this memory.

I grew up in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts and each year we looked forward to Patriot’s Day, held in April. It was basically in commemoration of the anniversary of Paul Revere’s famous ride but my favorite part of the day’s festivities was always the marathon.

We were lucky in that the race course ran directly through our town on rte. 9, almost halfway through the 26 miles from Hopkinton to Boston's historic Back Bay. We would line up on the main street of the town and cheer on the runners of our choice who were all men, of course. It would be 25 years before women were allowed to join in !

I was 14 in 1947 and I remember that year in particular because Clarence DeMar (1888-1958) was still alive and running. (That is he in the picture) He was the legendary figure who won 7 Boston Marathons, (1911, '22, '23, '24, '27, '28 & 1930) and he was still running strong at the age of 59. (It’s interesting to note that in 1947 the “late 50’s” was considered old.)

Today the Marathon is host to over 20,000 runners and, although considered one of the premier foot races of the world, it still retains the route that was plotted out in 1897.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Anyone who has read my profile knows that I’ve been a proud member of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous for more than 22 years and (although I realize there are other ways to get sober) this is the one that’s worked for me … as it has for millions of others worldwide.

So I am excited about a new program that our AA community is promoting called “Adopt a Pro”. We are providing our members with folders containing basic information about AA and we are asking them to share this with their own personal professional, be it a doctor, lawyer, clergyman or employer.

Conveying this information to the professional can be as simple as “As you may know, I’m a member of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. It has helped me turn my life around. Here’s some basic information about AA, with meeting schedules and contact information. In the event that you treat someone who needs help please feel free to call me.”

The majority of professionals have little knowledge how to treat an alcoholic in crisis or the part that AA can play in restoring him or her to a meaningful life, so this personal contact could be the critical component that makes all the difference . It will be exciting to watch how it enfolds.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Recently I was reminded of the famous exchange that took place after World War II between prison psychologist G. M. Gilbert and the leading member of the Nazi party Hermann Goering during the Nuremberg trials.

It epitomizes for me the frustration and sadness that I feel when the subject of war is broached. Why is it that we, who detest war and speak out against it, are so often berated for being “unpatriotic”? Why can’t I hate it when our young men and women are led to slaughter without being told that I don’t have the best interests of our country at heart ? Our leaders have so much power and Goering’s words, spoken in 1945, ring eerily true today.

When asked if the people want war he said, “Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.”

When Gilbert mentioned that in a democracy the people have some say in the matter and that in the United States only Congress can declare war, Goering answered: “Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

Sound familiar??

(Goering was sentenced to die but committed suicide by cyanide poisoning before that could be carried out.)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

CAINE’s Cardboard Arcade

I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you already know the story of this 9 year boy from Los Angeles … but it makes me feel so good that I want to share it with everyone.

Caine Monroy is a precocious little boy who spent his summer vacation at his dad’s used auto parts shop in LA. Caine has a love for arcades and, to pass the time, he built his own arcade out of cardboard boxes. He has a basketball game with a little plastic hoop, a soccer game with plastic army men as goalies and he even created a claw machine with an S-hook and yarn.

These were just three of the many games that he devised and his “arcade” slowly increased until it nearly took over the shop. His charging system was simple, $1 for four turns at the arcade or for $2 you get a handmade fun pass that allows you 500 turns for an entire month! The only problem was that Caine didn’t get many customers...until,

One day a filmmaker named Nirvan Mullick stopped in to the store looking for a car part. He was intrigued with Caine and his arcade and went on Facebook to tell the public and to see if there were others who would be fascinated by this young boy and his imaginative cardboard creation. It turns out that there were droves of them and, as they say … the rest is history.

Mullick’s 11 minute film has gone viral and be sure to watch it if you can. Not only is this a real live “feel good” story but it’s not over with this one film. Mullick has set up a college scholarship for Caine and, at last count, more than $130,000 has been raised.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Some “SMILEY” words to live by …

* Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

* Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

* If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

* The second mouse gets the cheese.

* When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

* Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

* Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.

* Save the earth..... It's the only planet with chocolate !

* Accept the fact that some days you're the pigeon, & some days you're the statue!

* Drive carefully... It's not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

NORMAN ROCKWELL …an American Treasure

No one of my age can forget the covers of “Life” magazine that were so lovingly illustrated by Norman Rockwell from the years 1916 through 1942. There were over 321 of them.

In 2007 I visited the Norman Rockwell Museum in his home town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts and what a treat it was to see the originals. The picture above is a self portrait of the artist faced with the dilemma of a deadline and no idea what to paint. As Rockwell himself explained, “It was in agony of soul that this cover was done.” (I’m sure that many of you bloggers can relate …time to post an entry and your mind goes blank !)

The other picture is the April 24th, 1926 cover. The poor little dog is being ignored by his master and seems very sad about the whole affair. Just another of his paintings that will tug at your heartstrings.

Rockwell started his career at the age of 18 when he became art editor of “Boy’s Life”, the official magazine of the Boy Scouts of America. When he was 22 one of his paintings appeared on the cover of “The Saturday Evening Post” and his career was launched.

There are those who will argue that Norman Rockwell paintings are not “great art” but I contend that his popularity is well deserved. He was a painter for, and of, the commonplace and his works could be seen across America in books, advertisements, calendars and on the covers of popular magazines such as the “Saturday Evening Post”, “Look”, and “Ladies’ Home Journal”.

He loved the ordinary people and he was very concerned with the big issues such as racism, poverty and social injustice and he put his paint brush where his interests lay.

Sadly the Norman Rockwell lifestyle may be gone, if it ever really existed, (??), but his paintings will be with us forever.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

“Stones from the River” continued …

“Stones from the River” is a 1994 novel by Ursula Hegi. I read it then and was enthralled with the scope of her book. It is about a German village before, during and after World War II and chronicles the life of a dwarf named Trudi Montag and her relationships with the towns many characters and intrigues.

Recently I found a copy of the book at a yard sale and decided to re-read it. I enjoyed it just as much as I had the first time, almost 18 years ago! So, imagine my pleasure when I came across “Children and Fire” recently at my library and realized that (although written in 2011) it encompasses the same village and the same people as in Ms. Hegi’s 1994 book.

“Children and Fire” may be set in the same place but it is definitely not a sequel to “Stones from the River”. The entire novel centers around just one pivotal day, Tuesday, February 27th, 1934 in the small village of Burgdorf, Germany and one teacher, Thekla Jansen, whose ten year old students are being seduced by the pomp and promises of the early Hitler regime.

We read in amazement as Thekla, against her every instinct, is also lured into believing that book burnings and ethnic cleansing may have merit. It is only by the clever inclusion of 7 chapters dating back to 1899 and ending with 1933 that Ms. Hegi reveals the actual facts that Thekla herself does not know and which, in the last chapter, will shake her to the core.

Although not an easy book to read I, literally, could not put it down and (having been born in 1933 and remembering the WWII years vividly) I’m glad to see that the horror of those years is still alive in our current literature. I truly believe that if “we forget our past we are destined to relive it” !