Presidents

image

November 22, 1963, Dallas, Texas.  Fifty- two years ago.  I was a Junior in high school,  in the HGP field house, planning for a dance.  Someone was listening to a car radio, “The President has been shot.”  Within the hour, we were in the Cornwells chapel, community prayer, disbelief, speechless.  President John F Kennedy had been assassinated.

November 22, 2015, I read through the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Times. I don’t see one article related to that day in Dallas.  I see no mention of John Kennedy.  Like Pearl Harbor, September 11,  those “of age” in November, 1963 will never forget.

My first real exposure to Kennedy was a rally at the Levittown Shopping Center.  Andy Romano and I rode our bikes up through Tullytown to the crowded shopping center.  A motorcade arrived on Route 13; Kennedy addressed the crowd.  I don’t remember what he said; I remember the excitement of hearing him. I was committed. Andy and I were already collecting buttons and bumper stickers.  I remember a campaign headquarters in a storefront at Otter and Bath Streets in Bristol.

Kennedy was young.  He was Catholic. He was educated.  He had class.  He had, we learned a new word, charisma.    He was our candidate and would be our President.

For the past few weeks, I have been watching The Presidents series,  PBS American Experience.  I started with Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Lyndon Johnson, and last night was finishing up John Kennedy.  Harry Truman and Franklin Roosevelt are also part of the series.

The programs are all over 2 hours.  Some close to 4.  It’s interesting how time puts  A Presidents legacy in  a historical perspective.  Reagan was more than the smooth talking, conservative, B grade actor, I remember. Johnson was more than the evil architect of the Vietnam Nam war.  Nixon (hard to admit) more than the paranoid, sneaky, father of Watergate.  Carter more than the fumbling, well meaning failure.  Bush more than the aristocratic friend of wealth and big business.   My recollections, based on my experiences and biases are limited.

And then there is the current Presidential campaign. It’s not too hard to see a President Hillary Clinton, first woman, typical political background, experience in government.  That not to discount those that have a very strong dislike for her.  Bernie Sanders may do well with liberals who haven’t had a champion in recent years but it’s hard to see him winning nationally.  And then there are the Republicans (should I refrain from saying circus).  Bush, Rubio, even Christie seem normal political types.  But then we have the far right wing and the outsiders.  It’s hard to see any of the in a future segment of American Experience, Presidents.

Stay tuned.

Despite his mistakes.  Despite his  hawkish approach to Vietnam and his foot dragging on Civil RIghts.  And  despite his  limited time in office, Kennedy remains my favorite President. Someone in the American Experience documentary said, Kennedy realized the power of words.  “Ask not what your country can do for you . . . ”  how many inaugural speeches can you quote. “Let us never negotiate out of fear . . . ”   And quoting Shaw, “Some people see things as they are and say why . . .”  If you don’t automatically finish these quotes, take some time and look them up.

Kennedy offered hope to a young generation that wanted to believe they could change the world.  He offered the promise of a new dynamic American culture.  Obama’s offered a similar flag of hope and renewal but was consistently blocked by his opposition.  Kennedy took command and his message was heard.  It’s almost ironic that he  inspired many who would fight for Civil Rights and an end the Vietnam war.

He left a legacy of we can.

 

 

Standard

On Collecting

image

I guess I have always been a collector.  In fourth grade I had a stamp and a coin collection.  Not sure how I started.  I remember my father taking me to visit a friend of his who collected coins.  I was amazed as he brought out binder after binder filled with silver dollars, Indian head pennies, Washington quarters, Liberty coins.  The visit may have reinforced the hobby but I was already a collector when I visited.

There was a coin and stamp shop on Pond street toward the Mill Street parking lot.  Although I frequented the shop, I didn’t buy much.  In the 1950s it was still possible to find collectable coins in change.  One of my fourth grade “jobs” at school was taking money to the bank in the early afternoon.  Joe Crosson went with me.  Joe was a pretty big guy; I joke that he was my body guard.  Before going to the bank (First Federal on Mill)  I stopped  at our house and quickly went through the coins, exchanging anything I thought worth collecting.  I actually ran a small business selling coins to fellow students.  John Mundy was doing the same thing.  We must have started a lot of kids collecting coins.

Some Saturdays I would go to the bank and get $50 in quarters (or dimes, or nickels).  I would go through them looking for anything to add to my collection. Then I’d go back and get another $50 in quarters.  Some days I would go through the change in the cash register at Profy’s appliance store.  And then a friend of my Uncle Frank’s  collected tolls for the bridge commission.  Bill N. Would bring me buffalo nickels for my collection.  For several years coins was probably my most serious collecting.

image

Every year I bought proof coins and a few  years saved rolls of uncirculated pennies.  I probably got the collecting bug from my mother.  She was buying proof coins at the same time and actually continued it much longer than I did.  She also had many “collections.” Unfortunately proof coins did not make a good investment.  Although they only cost a few dollars in the 1950s and 1960s, by 2000, they were over $15.  If I sell them I won’t even get back the cost price.  The exception is pre-1965 sets which are silver. I am hoping to get a better price for them.  In addition to the proof sets, we bought some commemorative coins — some are silver and a few are gold.

My coin collecting habit faded but did continue minimally in more recent years.  As well as buying proof sets, I would occasionally go through my change bank adding recent dates to the collection. I was particularly interested in Washington quarters since I almost had a complete collection. The state series was a challenge.  Don’t have all of them.   Even today I’d be tempted to buy any quarters missing from the Washington quarters book.

Although Eli will inherit my main coin collection if interested.  I don’t think he needs several hundred proof sets and commemorative coins.  I just finished an inventory and plan on going to a coin shop in Doylestown to sell them.

I was a stamp collector and post card collector the same years I was doing my heavy coin collecting.  My Aunt Lucy fed both the stamp and post card interest.  She had a small stamp collection which she eventually gave to me and would frequently bring me postcards from trips that she made to Philadelphia.  Another Aunt Annie (the 3rd Ward hairdresser) also gave me many old postcards that had been sent to her and family in the early 1900s. Maybe it’s the Irish that are collectors?

Stamps came from a variety of sources.  Regularly I raided the Bell Telephone trash cans for envelopes that yielded a lot of current commemoratives.  I had collector friends and so there was a lot of trading.  Relatives saved and bought stamps when they traveled. And I took advantage of stamp companies “free” offers.  I subscribed to some first day covers and sometimes bought entire sheets of commemorative stamps.

Like coins, up through the early 2000s, I added to these collections.  Some years I bought the collection of commemorative stamps for the year.  I began to buy Bucks County postcards on eBay due to my interest in local history. And that spread to cards of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, even Nantucket.  For a year or so I sold some unwanted post cards on eBay.

Coins, stamps, postcards aren’t my only collections.  Books obviously.  Then there are buttons, original paints, crafts. Should I consider all the LPs in the basement a collection?  Or the cameras, lenses, and other photographic equipment I have saved.

Time for sorting, organizing, and some selling.

image

 

Standard

No Place Like Home

image
It’s late afternoon. The sun streams into our family room. I decide to read another chapter in “Factory Man,” the best seller about the VA furniture making family, Bassett, who take on Asian competition and save their company and it’s town. It’s been almost 2 months since my surgery on September 16. On the 23 I will have been home a month. The days seem to slip by in a slow routine.

I am rarely ready to get up before 8. But before I can move around, catheters need attention, then a shower. Still have a surgical wound that needs cleaning and dressing. I am still far from self-sufficient and depend on Diane’s help. My clothes have been reduced to a shelf of tee shirts, socks, new athletic pants — long for the day and shorts at night. A few shirts. My rubber Dansks slip ones. Haven’t been near my bedroom bureau or clothes closet.

Ive been having a 1/2 cup of wake-up coffee. Usually a full breakfast, sourdough pancakes today, other days, homemade yogurt and a scoop of apple butter, eggs, sausage, buttermilk biscuits, sweets HGP staff sent. E-mail and newspaper (Inquirer online during the week; Inquirer and New York Times delivered on weekends — my preference but expensive).

Trying to get into a routine of doing my leg and arm exercises after breakfast. Never one for organized exercise, this is a struggle, but I need to do them daily. Good time to walk downstairs or upstairs (more exercise). Although my blood pressure is good (have stopped high blood pressure medication), my heart rate gets high with exercise, even getting up from a chair and moving quickly. In fact overall, I am amazed at how weak I still feel. Two months.

Some time might be devoted to paying bills, returning calls or other regular tasks. We’ve had someone out to clean the wood stove and chimney, Joe Kriven finished several outside painting projects I had started, Diane ordered a new shower head (detachable) and grab bars — waiting for someone to install. We’ve taken the car (due for inspection) to mechanic and it would be sold but neither buyer could drive a manual transmission.

A home nurse is still coming several days a week. She takes my vitals, changes the wound dressing, orders supplies. For several weeks there were also physical therapy nurses but the’ve given me the exercise routine.

I’ve spent a lot of time with photographs. Severely edited my Nicaragua prints from 9 to 2 albums. Filling the empty albums with family photographs. The huge blue/green leather albulm I made at the Boston bindery was emptied — many photographs had been removed or had falling out. Those and many loose ones were grouped in Peace Corps, Elementary and High School, Old Profy Family, Smith Family albums. I’m down to several trays (probably 3000 photographs) of loose photographs from 2009-2014.

I’ve also started to organize digital photographs. Since retirement I’ve loaded camera, phone and I-pad photos onto the new Apple laptop. By default they went into I-Photo. Not a very easy to navigate photo storage system. Events currently are mixed together and in more than one file. Sorting them slowly. In addition there are several large files that were down loaded from my Dell computer. These are not in I-Photo. I ordered another back up drive for photographs and also got Lightroom on the advice of Yardley Photographers. Now to decide what goes on the backup drive, Lighroom and do I use I-Photo at all.

None of this photo organizing touches my slides. I have about 100 trays and 20 or more binders with slide sleeves. Thousands and thousands of slides. Will start edited them in a few weeks. I’ve kept the Dell computer and scanner — maybe I will scan some.

Another big organizing project is books. Last January I sold about 20 boxes for $450 and hope to do the same very soon. Waiting for some paper boxes from HGP. I plan on delisting all the books I have for sale on Amazon and selling in bulk to a bookstore. We’ve also gotten together some flatware — some is silver. And I have all my proof coins. Both are ready to sell.

There have been other cleaning organizing projects. Diane spent several days giving our now unused bedroom a cleaning. I purged a basket of travel brochures and got rid of about 15 cans of paint. Just the beginning. All these projects were scheduled for retirement. Only now we are pretty confined to the house, so we are finally doing them.

Lunch is is frequently left overs. My appetite is very sensitive. I feel I can eat certain things but in small quantities. Recommended is five small meals a day and I make some attempt — after breakfast, a protein shake is common and maybe an afternoon snack. Once I’ve had lunch, however, I feel sleepy. Some days I can lay down for an hour and be up by 2. Other days I fall asleep and it’s 3 before I drag myself up.

I try to listen to some music each day. I use Pandora a bit (new for me) and I play from our CD collection. Will eventually bring up some LPs from the basement to play, keep or sell.

Although I’ve been able to write a number of blogs and in my daily journal, I have done limited reading. Some magazines. The only book I’ve completed is “Living at the End of Time: two years in a small house,” by John Hansen Mitchell. He builds a small cottage and lives there simply (sometimes watching the grass grow) reflecting, reading journals, including Thoreau’s — the cottage is a few miles from Walden. The story seemed rather appropriate given my circumstances and I’ve enjoyed several other books by Mitchell. (See my blog “On Seeing, Looking, Observing and Sensing.”)

We’ve taken several walks in the neighborhood (not enough) and a few Bucks County drives — again not enough. We need to get out more and expand what we do.

I have two places where I sit– at the kitchen table and a big chair in the family room. But I can only sit so long. So I frequently walk the house, stare out the back door at the fall colors, step out on the deck. I’ve done some cooking, making biscuits, yogurt. Cooking kumbacha squash for soup. More could be done. Need more standing activity.

Late afternoon as the sun goes down I’ll walk around the house some more, sometimes sit, stare, reflect. This is my new life. Some days I’m satisfied, it was a good day. But I also get the blues. Not strong depression. Just tired, is this it? I tell myself it’s my life during this period of recovery. Make the best of it. Another two months maybe.

About 5:30 we turn on the news and begin cooking dinner. As before surgery. Diane usually cooks and I clean up the dishes. I get ready for bed about 7:30 or eight o’ clock. Again I still need Diane’s help. I have my I-Pad and watch some movie for an hour or more. The past two weeks it’s been American Experience, The Presidents. I’ve watched Reagan, Carter, Nixon, LBJ, quite a few more in the series. Another PBS series was “Indian Summers” — about the British in India. Excellent.

Most nights I’m bothered by bladder spasms (sometimes very painful) and/or acid reflux. Both force me to get up and walk around. Don’t know why the spasms come after I’ve been sleeping but it’s fairly consistent.

Otherwise I sleep (waking up briefly) until early morning, getting up to empty my appliances. Then back to a sound morning sleep. Around 7:30 the sun shines over the river into my new bedroom window. Another day.

Standard

Veteran’s Day

image

At 11am on 11 November 1918, World War I ended.  President Wilson set aside November 11 as a national holiday, Armistice Day.  In 1954, it was changed to Veteran’s Day to honor all who have served in the American military.

My father, Vincent Profy was a veteran of WWII.  Today, Veterans Day 2015, I realize how very little I know about his time in the service.

He was at a soda fountain in a Mill Street Drug store ( I think Pall Mall but maybe Levinson’s) on December 7, 1941 when he heard the news about  Pearl Harbor.  He was 20 years old.  I’m not sure but he may have been working for Rohm Haas at this time before going into business with his father.
imageHe enlisted in Navy in New York on July 31, 1942.  In early March he was aboard the USS Nelson (DD-623).  On the 31st he was transferred to the USNH in Brooklyn for treatment.  The Nelson was a destroyer.  In January 1943 after a shakedown cruise, she reported to the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.  The Nelson took part in the invasion of Sicily (1943) and the Invasion of Normandy (1944).   If Father had remained on the Nelson , he would have had a totally different wartime experience. He would not have been happy.

image

On March 24, 1943 he reported to Norfolk, VA for duty on the USS Rapidan.  His service number was 706-20 15.  On the crew list above his name was Leonard Palmer from Boston. He mentioned Palmer quite a few times; the only other name I remember was “Weymouth?” The Rapidan sailed on April 28.  His rating was MM2c (Machinist Mate 2nd class).  He was also identified as V-6 (General Services and Specialist.)

Vincent Profy appears on Rapidan Musters 1943, 1944 and early 1945.  Beginning in March 23, 1945 to July 3, 1945, he is listed in foreign service.  I’m assuming this is time the Rapidan was in the North Pacific.  On August 1, 1945, Father was assigned duty on a Motor Torpedo Boat detail out of Bremerton, WA.  He is reported in foreign service again from September 1, 1945 to his discharge on December 9, 1945 in Bainbridge, MD.  His discharge paper shows he was owed $400 for 40 days.

Much of the above is from Ancestry.com  rather than something I heard from father.  He never gave much detail about his service time and sadly I didn’t ask questions.

The USS Rapidan (AO-18) was built in 1919 in Newport News, VA.  She was an oil transport.  She was decommissioned in 1922 after the end of WWI and until January 1940 when she was called back into service.  In the early part of the war, the Rapidan moved oil along the Atlantic coast.  In April 1943, she headed to the Meditterranean, arriving at Gibraltar 24 May. She discharged her cargo in Oran and then returned to the United States.  It would seem that Father was aboard for this run.

He told told us that he worked in the engine room — specifically desalinating water.  It was hot and dirty.  The Rapidan continued to operate in the Atlantic until March, 1944 when she was ordered to the Pacific.  Through the Panama Canal on March 19, she steamed up to Seattle. The Pacific and Seattle intrigued my father.  When he spoke about being aboard ship, it was always in the Pacific.  Shore leave in Seattle separated the beer guys from the ice cream boys.  My father was one of the latter. In the Pacific, the  Rapidan carried oil to Alaska, Kodiak, Cold Harbor, Dutch Harbor and Aleutians ports.  I remember his mentioning the Alaska and the Aleutians.

He wasn’t very fond of his years in the Navy and that may have contributed to his reluctance to talk about it.  My mother wanted to go to Alaska but he would have nothing to do with the trip.  He’d seen enough during the war. She went with friends.

After father was discharged on December 9, 1945, the Rapidan remained in the Pacific until June 1946, decommissioned September 1946.  In 1947 she was sold for scrap.

There are several pictures of my father’s service time.  On line you can find pictures of the Nelson and Rapidan.  Although there is mention of crew reunions online, there isn’t a lot of names or information.  For his 90 birthday, Vicky tracked down a Rapidan club and got a few shipmates to sent him a birthday card.  He was unimpressed, “Don’t they have anything better to do?” Wish we knew more.

Standard

Driving Vince

imageIn 1974, Diane and I spent the summer with the Bonnemas in Bethel, ME.  We loved the ME coast and the White Mountains that were so close.  In short, we thought Maine was beautiful, rural, rugged, forests you could (and I did) get lost in.

But I remember on our return to Bucks County saying to Diane, “Bucks County is beautiful.”  Certainly different from ME, but with rollinghills,  back roads, hidden streams, the Delaware River, old bridges — arched stone and covered.  The many working farms with field stone houses, barns, and other out building, colonial era villages, and classic rural post offices.  We really liked Bucks County.

Even before my recent surgery, a drive, an explore in the county was a favorite activity.  Diane usually drives and I navigate.  Some trips are photographic.  Stop. Take a picture.  In years past I was the photographer but since retirement Diane has been shooting with me.

Many trips are food related.  We have dozens of farms and markets where we buy local.  Sometimes stopping for a late breakfast or lunch.

Trips can also have a historic or cultural twist.  The Mercer Museum, Mitchener, Washington Crossing, walk around New Hope or Lambertville (in recent years, trips across the river in NJ become part of our Bucks County explores).  Maybe there is a craft fair in Tinicum Park, Newtown or Fallsington Days, a movie at the County Theatre, a Frenchtown (NJ again) street fair.

Since surgery, drives through Bucks have taken on a special importance.  Yesterday, Sunday, we left the house about 11, headed west on River Road.  A classic drive follows the Delaware to Easton and beyond, the Delaware Water Gap is a beautiful ride.  Washington Crossing Park, New Hope, Centre Bridge, Lumberville, Point Pleasant, Tinicum.  Winding along the river valley is the canal — various places to stop for a walk on the towpath.

But this trip we turn off River Road and take Taylorsville,  make a left on Woodhill.  We pass Ely’s Farm, known for its pork products.  I shouldn’t have bacon but maybe i could have a nice chop.  They also make cheese.  A mile up thebroad we turn and stop at the Milk House. A small farm store that started with eggs and now has a variety of produce and local products.  Some years the’ve  had several varieties of heirloom cooking pumpkins.  None yet this year.  In the Sping they also have some wild plants like ramps for sale.

We continue on to Pineville.  I discovered the Pineville Tavern in the 1970s when John Paglione and I worked up the road on the Paul and Ed Daniel’s farms.  Paul had a dairy farm and started to sell raw milk the years we worked for him. Ed’s Fairview Farm (still family owned) was primarily egg laying chickens.  Today Fairview raises lambs — I haven’t bought any yet but it’s on my list.

Back in the 1970s, the Pineville Tavern was a local bar.  John and I would stop for a draft ( no craft been back then). Now it is run by the Abruzzese family and is a destination restaurant.  Recently expanded with lots of outdoor seating and a creative Italian menu.  Interesting the original  tavern dates to 1742 — the front porch a gathering place for local.

Diane and I continue through Wycomb, a time has forgotten village, with its restored railroad station, Histand’s Supply, and the Public House.  Beyond Wycombe on the way to Doylestown, we are in rural Bucks County — the Wycombe and Rushland Wineries,  the church and Post Office village of Forest Grove, several large farms ( fields of pumpkins, this time of year),  Comly’s Turf Farm.  Several decades ago we stopped at a farm auction off of Forest Grove Road.  Everything was for sale, household goods, farm equipment, livestock.  It was sad.  A large suburban development fills the north side of the road.

We drive through Doylestown, stopping to take down the phone number of CR Notoris, Clocks and Coins.  I have proof coins and silverware I want to sell.  And clocks that need repair.  I’ve tried the Newtown Clock Shop but not happy with his work.

Diane has worked in this area and knows some back roads.  Sooner than expected we are in Peace Valley Park.  We take walks here and had plans to bring our kayak.  Not sure when, if, I will be kyacking.  We head to Tabora Farm and Orchard. The porch is lined with large wooden boxes filled with apples — Fugi, Delicious, Cartland, Gala, Granny Smith. There was also a box full of Butternut Squash.  Scattered on tables were decorative pumpkins and gourds and I identified several Long Island Cheese pumpkins.  These are a variety good for pies.  I get one for $4.

image

Tabora is known for its fantastic bakery.  We can’t resist a loaf of sour dough bread and 1/2 dozen cookies.  It was like they were giving away the pastries, pies, cakes and cookies.  At the Deli we ordered a turkey and brie panini and a mushroom quiche for dinner.  Panini in hand we drove to Lake Galena and had our lunch.  Half a cookie satisfied our sweet tooth.  Nice watching people walking around the lake, kids, dogs.

For the rest of our Sunday explore we wandered.  I ignore the GPS and we follow a road, Callowhill            ( wonder about the Philadelphia name).  We end up in Perkasie.  Although we drive around town, not much catches our attention.  One interesting looking Cafe.  We discover Lake Tohee County Park.  Finally back to Route 611. Ottsville has a number of possible stops — Kimberton Whole Foods, WowCow ice cream, Linden Hill Nursery, we have a gift certificate to the Ottsville Inn. And we pass Vera’s Country Cafe — a place on my check it out list, rated as one of the best breakfast spots in Bucks.

It’s getting late, approaching 3 o’ clock.  I’m ready to head home but Diane can’t resist a side road headed toward the river.  We get a bit lost — still no GPS.  Follow a dirt road and eventually emerge on River Road just below Tinicum.  There is a lot of rocky, forested landscape.  Reminds us more of the Carmel-Kent, NY area than rolling hills Bucks County.

We are in familiar territory now and head down River Road.  It was a good explore — over 4 hours.  The day had it’s mix of the familiar and the new.  Despite the massive suburban development in Bucks since the 1950s, there is still significant rural landscape, farms, hidden roads, places to revisit, places to discover.

Standard

Ayudanica — around Nicaragua: people and places

image

Although the Ayudanica team spent most of their time in Monte Rosa. We always took some field trips and explores to other places in Nicaragua.  Markets, craft centers, refugee camps, volcanos, and cities like Granada, Chinengega, and Leon. As in Monte Rosa, my camera was my means of meeting people and communicating.  Here are a few photographs.  Most are slides awaiting a digital conversion.

 

Standard