Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A World War II British Sweetheart


A few days ago I was listening to the “BBC America” broadcast and was surprised when I heard the lilting strains of “The White Cliffs of Dover”. I closed my eyes and traveled back in memory to the late 1940's. I couldn't remember the name of the singer but I remembered every word of that song.
Some of you long-time blogger friends may remember that my family and I lived just outside of Boston and during those final years of WWII we entertained British sailors who came in to the Boston Naval Yard for repairs on their boats. They would come out for the weekends and some of them became like family and we've stayed in touch. Here are a few pictures of the many that we hosted … including one of me at age 10 !
As I continued to listen to the broadcast I found that the BBC was honoring the 100th birthday of Vera Lynn. She was the singer who gave the troops hope for a better world and they called her “The Forces Sweetheart”.
Now she is Dame Vera Lynn and, besides living to the ripe old age of 100, she is also releasing a new compilation album, “Vera Lynn 100”. It makes her the first singer to ever do that as a centenarian.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Aesop's Viper …

There are many variations on the Aesop fable “The Farmer and the Viper” but, basically it is the story of the kindly old farmer who feels sorry for a snake who appears to be freezing to death. He picks it up and cuddles it under his warm jacket only to be repaid by a lethal snake bite as soon as the reptile recovers. As the farmer lays dying the last words he hears are these: “Don't blame me,” says the snake, "You knew what I was when you picked me up." 

The reason I was interested in this fable had to do with an article that I read in today's “Time” magazine. It was about Trumps reaction to the FBI director Comey's statement that no evidence backed up his tweet about Obama tapping his phones. Here is the paragraph as written by Michael Scherer: “The statement was concise, direct and damning. The President of the United States had been marked as a fabulist by one of the top officials in government charged with finding the truth. And yet, for the man being called out, the rebuke was nothing of the sort.”

Of course I had to look up the definition of fabulist and this is what it says in the Oxford Dictionary.
1.  A liar, especially one who invents elaborately dishonest stories. 'a born fabulist with an imagination unfettered by the laws of logic and probability'.

Need I say more?  


Saturday, March 18, 2017

What a fiasco…

Here is a picture of my little house (circa 1902) and, if you look closely you can see the unattractive but necessary wires that the electric company stretches from pole to pole above and in front of my house.
I tell you this as a lead in to the fiasco that has struck me since Wednesday of this week. Periodically Duke Energy hires a tree cutting company to cut back the limbs of trees that get too close to their wires and they were at it this week. Here is a picture of my front yard as they were working and before the clean-up:

So far, so good. The only problem was that when I went to use my computer it wouldn't come on. Then, when I picked up my phone to call the tech people I realized that the phone was dead too. Yep, you guessed it … the tree crew had cut my phone line. 

I tracked down the boss man Vince and, with his help, we contacted Century Link and they assured us they would have a repair man out by no later than 6 pm. Once again, I'll bet you guessed it ...by noon the next day they were still a no-show. Luckily Vince was able to re-connect the wire and I was back in business except, as he was the first to explain, it was definitely just a stop gap and the phone company men would need to re-connect me to their standards. 
It is now 9 am Saturday morning as I write this and. after many phone calls and a blistering letter to the company, I am still waiting …



Monday, March 13, 2017

Who will be “our” Joseph Welch ?

The year is 1954. I was in my senior year at Boston University and TV was in it's infancy. I remember so clearly being glued to the little black and white screen as Senator Joseph McCarthy and his hatchet man Roy Cohn proceeded to “rid our country of Communism”.

On the 30th day of the Army–McCarthy hearings, Joseph Welch, Chief Counsel for the Army, challenged Roy Cohn to provide U.S. Attorney General Herbert Brownell Jr. with McCarthy's list of 130 Communists or subversives in defense plants. McCarthy counters the request by accusing a young lawyer in Welch's own Boston law office as belonging to the National Lawyers Guild which he claimed was “the legal mouthpiece of the Communist Party.”

It was a turning point in the proceedings and I still get chills as I remember Mr. Welch holding his head in dismay and then (thanks to Wikipedia) quietly voicing these words:

“Until this moment, Senator, I think I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Fred Fisher is a young man who went to the Harvard Law School and came into my firm and is starting what looks to be a brilliant career with us....Little did I dream you could be so reckless and so cruel as to do an injury to that lad. It is true he is still with Hale and Dorr. It is true that he will continue to be with Hale and Dorr. It is, I regret to say, equally true that I fear he shall always bear a scar needlessly inflicted by you. If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty I would do so. I like to think I am a gentleman, but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me.”

When McCarthy tried to renew his attack, Welch interrupted him and uttered these words

“Senator, may we not drop this? ... Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You've done enough.  Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” 

It is this trial that gave rise to the term “McCarthyism”… defined as “the practice of publicizing accusations of political disloyalty or subversion with insufficient regard to evidence”.   I find it interesting that in a March 4th tweet our current president, with no facts to back up his accusation, wrote: ""Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!"    

I can't help but wonder if there will be anyone out there courageous enough to be our modern day Joseph Welch?

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

If only we all could see out of the eyes of babes …

Isn't this about the sweetest picture you've ever seen? It's a great follow-up to my last post where I bemoaned the fact that we seemed to be heading back into the old white supremacy mode.
The little boy on the left is Jax, son of Lydia Rosebush of Louisville, Kentucky. She took this picture after her son and his best buddy Reddy got identical hair cuts. “He wanted it buzzed down to his scalp so he would look like Reddy,” his mom explained.

It was all part of a plan the boys hatched to fool their pre-school teacher. They are such close friends that they figured she wouldn't be able to tell them apart if they only had the same hair cut !

Friday, March 03, 2017

Diversity ...

I wish I could say that this is a photo of three happy friends in the United States but no, this is Denmark.
Actually it is a celebratory photo taken at the Michelin award winning Danish restaurant Noma. Ali Sonko (on the right) a dishwasher and long time employee has now been made a co-partner of the restaurant along with the two other new partners. You can see how much they enjoy working together and isn't that how it should be?

It seems to be getting harder and harder to find this type of simple happiness now in our country. We seem to be heading back in the direction of the old white supremacy days and I find it very disheartening. Do we forget that we are a nation of immigrants? Do we close our hearts as well as our borders?

“My” United States is not one built on greed and polarization and I hope I live long enough to see it change back.