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67 articles in category Non-fiction / Subscribe

It was remarkably quiet on the beach the other day. The quiet time was logical because most of the tourists had gone home, so the ocean’s shore clearly demonstrated the beautiful place I call home.

I was not alone on this particular morning. All around me were men and women enjoying the same serenity I was enjoying. Having benches along the beach at York, Maine makes it especially special this time of year. Since I’ve been living here the past four decades a memory popped into my mind. Years before I remember sitting next to an elderly gentleman whose white ashen skin probably hasn’t seen the sun in a long time.

He looked frail and after I sat down next to him he appeared anxious. After a few moments it was obvious I did make him feel uncomfortable because he leaned toward his side of the bench as far away from me as possible. Maybe he was afraid of me. I decided to talk with this gentleman, so I could at least try to calm him down. He wouldn’t even look at me. He just stared straight ahead and in his mind’s eye I am sure I didn’t even exist. Or did he believe he didn’t exist.

I remember asking myself why won’t the old talk to us. Why is it so hard for them to explain their years of experience to those of us who try not to make the mistakes of those who lived before? Why is it so difficult for them to look into our eyes and explain how they got to become so old? To paraphrase Harry Truman, “There is nothing new in this world. Only the time that is not remembered.”
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Another Harvestfest is over and here I sit on a Saturday evening stuffed to the gills from eating sausage subs, baked beans, oxen sandwiches (that tasted a lot like roast beef), home cooked pies, ice cream, and freshly popped kettle corn.

One year they ran out of sausage sandwiches at which time I was actually upset because those sausages were the best I ever had. At least this is where I sat in 2002. The beauty of Harvestfest had nothing to do with the food or the crafts even though I miss them. It had everything to do with the people.

The population at the Harvestfest was filled with people I knew, I thought I knew, and that I had no idea who they were. The primary bond between them was they were all enjoying a time in a place they called home. Many images come to mind.

I watched lovely young ladies in remarkably beautiful costumes dance to what I think was Irish music, I observed beautiful women in colonial garb show off their crafts inside an historic church I assumed had always been there.

York Village was filled with costumed young men and women demonstrating we all had a heritage we should be proud of. I especially liked the man who sat by the Emerson Wilcox House caning chairs. I never talked to him and to this day I’m sorry for this fact. Continue Reading →

The leaves are finally off the trees and the clocks have been set back so we all now drive home in the dark. As to why we continually do this is above and beyond my comprehension but then again most things are.

The end of day light savings time does remind us all the winter is not far off and it is time to evolve from our summer systems to the winter ones. One of these changes includes taking out the winter wardrobe to replace the summer clothes of our closets and drawers.

Usually around this time of year my summer wardrobe consists of cut off jeans that are more strings than cloth, t-shirts that have been washed a bit too many times because they have now become translucent, and white socks that have more holes in them than white. A basic problem is the winter clothes take up more room than the summer ones did.

This makes it necessary to squeeze heavy jeans and sweatshirts into an area originally made for less bulky items. This also makes it impossible to open the drawer without tearing off the front panel. At least the price of dresser drawers has not increased over the years.
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George Santayana stated on December 16, 1863, that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. It seems this is a truth our children are not being taught. A few days ago was the anniversary of a day in our history that changed all of our futures.
Many of my students weren’t even born yet but what surprised me most was they knew little about what had happened on that date of September 11, 2001. What shocked me most was how many of our schools remembered this date by degrading its definition into a short mostly ignored moment of silence.

I want to take this time to remind those of us who were part of this time and those of us who must remember in order to have it never repeated. I just couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t express what I was feeling in words. I knew everyone of those people who were condemned to die. I didn’t know their faces or their names but I knew them all. They were husbands and wives of families working to make the people they were responsible for safe and comfortable. They were the children of families whose hard work and perseverance made their families proud. They were the grandparents who were almost ready to live out their lives doing something they had dreamed they could do.

They were also the young and tough men and women who decided that their lives would not be equated by the dollar bill. They had decided in their lives that their legacy would represent the best of the human spirit. They were the first to respond to people needing help. They will be last ones we will find.
There are certain days in our lives that define who we are and the path we will take in life. Mine occurred on November 22, 1963. I remember what I was doing and where I was. Hell, I even remember what I was wearing. I look at my students and realize that their day will be one filled with unspeakable horror. Their defining moment will include hate, fear, and disbelief. Continue Reading →

That little bastard!

The outside is so much larger than inside anyone’s house. I don’t understand why anything would want to intrude into an area that was not meant for them. There is more food outside and the air is fresher so what makes any life form want to go someplace they are not wanted.

I know the buzzing little creature will drive both my wife and I nuts. This is also the reason why I now sit in a chair in my living room waiting for the flying S.O.B. to land in a place so I can remove it from the face of the Earth. So, what does one think about as the fly travels at a speed that far surpasses any chance of catching him in the air?

I start to wonder why I am beginning to hate the heat. A few months ago I was struggling to push my snow blower through my driveway in order to be able to free myself from my home. It was so damn cold. I was also convinced that there would be snow piles left through the month of July. It is now July and all I can think about is how damn hot it is.

I begin to remember how old I am. Years earlier I would be chasing the little black intruder through my house determined to not let anything invade my living quarters. I remember swishing my old reliable fly swatter in the air in the hopes the little black speck would be a little bit stupider than I and forget to get out of the way of the mesh on the end of a stick.
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A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to sit on my deck and simply observe my surroundings. Smiling, I remember when my wife and I first moved into the neighborhood. It wasn’t much of a neighborhood back then because there were few trees or houses. In fact, it was the second house to be built on my street.

The area used to be a field used by farmers to grow hay for their farms. The area was full of clay so near the river was once a brickyard that to this day still has multiple broken bricks surrounding a dock that was probably used to transport the bricks from Portland to Boston. The brickyard is no longer but the dock still stands.

My neighborhood grew one house at a time with the inhabitants planting the tiniest of trees and bushes. I had little money back then so I pulled out some saplings from a friend’s land in New Hampshire with the knowledge the baby-trees had little hope of survival. Continue Reading →

There comes a time in every teacher’s life when they should stop teaching and start learning from their students. I’ve been teaching for over three decades and just complete a conversation with one of my students that made me do just that. It concerned how technical education was taking over pubic education in both substance and quality. He also questions the attitude and readiness of students entering college.

This student, who wishes to remain anonymous, is a Top Ten ranked senior who is not going to college. He decided that he wanted to help people learn about the Bible by going into the full time ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

I don’t pretend to know how to do such a thing, but I do know how adamant this student is to accomplish this. This decision will prevent him from accumulating debt that could define a good portion of his life. How could I possibly argue with this reality that too many of our children will have to face before they are allowed to enter their future.

This student discussed how the Seacoast School of Technology (SST) was interested in changing their image. The image of technical schools is, presently, as follows: a means by which students who do not do well in a classroom setting could achieve their degrees by studying subjects such as Automotive, Computer Design, Biotechnology, Culinary, Early Childhood Education, Nursing, or Farming. Continue Reading →