Summer 2020 will be very different.  And it is so hard to predict.  Will cases of Coronavirus stay low or will we have new outbreaks? Will states continue to “open up” or will there be renewed restrictions.  We are cancelling our two week August rental in Cape Cod.  We can get a deposit returned if we cancel by June.  Currently short term rentals are prohibited although that may change in the next few weeks.  Our grand kids were just notified that their Pocono summer camp is cancelled.  A summer unlike summers past.

For more than 40 years I taught in schools.  My school year usually ended in May.  If I was still working, I would soon be on my summer schedule.  Most summers were a mix of some work and extended vacation/travel.  For several years in the early 70s while teaching elementary school, I worked in construction.  My uncle helped me get a job with Roy Butterworth.  I moved from sheetrock to minor carpentry in house construction under the guidance of Bristol’s Gene Cordisco. It was a good experience.  One year I operated a “summer camp” out of our Yardley house.  The students had special needs and were part of my class.  Mornings were devoted to academics; afternoons were canoeing in the canal and field trips.  I dreamed of opening my own school.

Then we moved to New Hope and rented with the Pagliones.  The first summer, John and I drove around in one of our VW bugs looking for farm work.  In the Pineville post office we met Doris Daniels who suggested we contact her husband Paul.  The next day we were on the farm shoveling mud into cow stalls, driving a tractor, bailing hay, and a variety of other farm chores.  Paul had a dairy farm and adjacent his brother Ed had egg laying chickens.  For several years we worked for both. We were “green.” Paul told us he didn’t think we’d be back after the first day.

After 4 years in New Hope, Pagliones moved to Ann Arbor, graduate school.  We moved to Bristol until we found a house to buy in Yardley.  The summer of 75, we lived with friends, the Bonnema’s had moved their pottery studio to Bethel, Maine.  We lived with them and helped a bit around the studio and at craft fairs but also spent a lot of time hiking in the White Mountains.  A great summer.

I got a full time job at Holy Ghost Prep in 1974.  For a few years, I didn’t get paid but hung out a lot at school doing work in the library.  Later as Assistant Headmaster I worked year round with a generous vacation time.  In addition to scheduling, book ordering and other administrative tasks, I started a summer program.  This lasted about 10 years.  In about 1987,  I took a sabbatical and spent the next two summers working on my dissertation.  I did a little construction work on the side.

By 1990 with my doctorate in hand, I began teaching evenings and summers at LaSalle and Holy Family.  Some summers I’d sometimes have 3 courses.  I was still a full time librarian at HGP and would teach one or two evening college courses.  That continued until Rob Buscaglia asked me to join Auyandica, a service project to Nicaragua for high school students that he had started. For ten years I stopped teaching college in the summer.  Instead I went to Nicaragua and took other summer vacations.  When the Nicaragua project stopped in early 2000, I resumed summer teaching until a few years before I retired in 2014.


Vacation and travel have always been an important of this teacher’s summer.  In the 1970s we usually spent time at my Aunt and Uncle’s ocean front house in Harvey Cedars, Long Beach Island.  The year before Jenny was born we spent a lot of  time there into September and early October.  I commuted to work.  I have already mentioned the summer in Maine and several years we took camping trips to New England.  One year we rented a house in Searsport, Maine.  For several years in the 1980s we our get-away was anywhere from four days to two weeks sailing with Jerry and Susan Taylor on the Chesapeake Bay.  We rented a sailboat out of Rockport, Maryland.  Jerry was the accomplished sailor.

During to 1970-80s we took several trips to Europe.  The first was in 1976.  We went to England and Scotland.  Another year Ireland; and then Denmark and other Scandinavia countries. On these trips we combined some nights of camping with some in Bed and Breakfasts.  All these trips lasted about 5 weeks.  One year I went to Germany with Barbara Cavanaugh who hosted German trips for her Holy Ghost students.  I went to Munich before the group arrived and Diane came near the end of the trip.  Barbara and the kids went home; we traveled through Austria, Italy, France, Switzerland and I stayed for a few extra days in Amsterdam.

In the 1990s we discovered Nantucket.  An ad in a local Bucks County paper led us to a fantastic isolated cottage on Polpis Road outside of town.  For the next ten years, Nantucket was our two week summer destination.  It fit perfectly my idea of vacation travel.  A mix of the known and unknown; a mix of quiet isolation and serendipitous exploration. The familiar; the new.   We had hiking, bicycling, historic sites, museums, beaches, on the sound and ocean, restaurants and classic shops, bird watching, house tours, concerts and plays.  Always plenty of time for cooking and reading. Unfortunately we got a call from the owner in early 2000.  He was selling.  We looked but could never find a similar property for the price.

During three of the Nantucket years I went to Germany for three weeks on an HGP exchange program. The students lived with German families. Sandy, the German teacher organizer and I lived in the school rectory.  Most of our time was free except for a side trip when we took the kids to Munich or Berlin.  One year Diane met me in Germany and we spent several weeks in Italy.  It was my first trip to Roccavivara my grandfather’s hometown.  I retuned one Christmas with my father and in May 2015 spent two weeks there with my cousin Joey.

After Nantucket we rented in Cape May, Long Beach Island, and Cape Cod.  Then for two years we did Bed and Breakfasts for 2 or 3 nights from spring through the fall.  We stayed in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New Jersey.  Maybe 5 or more trips a year.  During the time there was a company selling B and B gift cards with a 20 or 30% discount.  I’d stock up.  Unfortunately their offers eventually stopped.


We finally decided on Orleans on Cape Cod as our regular vacation destination. In the past six or seven years we’ve rented two different houses.  The first was on Pilgrim Lake and the second on Ayres Pond.  We rented with my daughter and family which gave us a nice time with our grand kids.  The Cape was similar to Nantucket.  We like to return to familiar, favorite places but also like to explore and find something new.  There are the beaches on the bay and ocean and the kettle ponds, the National Seashore is exceptionally nice. We usually participate in several guided activities, including a boat explore.   We use various hiking trails, kayak or canoe. Restaurants, cooking seafood, galleries and shops in Wellfleet and Provincetown.  We enjoy historic and craft explores along Route 6A.  There are always games and reading at the house.

But this year I feel pretty certain we will not go to our Orleans rental on the Cape. What will we do?   It will depend on how the virus declines or increases as we get into June and July. Maybe we will feel safe to travel— multiple nights get-aways or a lucky rental.  Of course we might end up staying home, doing local walks, some day trips, gardening, cooking and take out food, in house movies, sitting and reading on the deck.  Whatever it is I will try for a mix, some familiar favorites, traditions if you will, but also find new explores, whether they be planned or serendipitous.  The best summers have alway had that mix.



Ayudanica — around Nicaragua: people and places


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.



Ayudanica — the village of Monte Rosa


Ayudanica was started as a service project at Holy Ghost Prep by Rob Buscaglia in the late 1990s.  I got involved in year two.  Eventually we established a nonprofit returning to the village of Monte Rosa with its sugar cane refinery.  We established a library and computer center, trained American and Nicaraguan teens in running a variety of programs in the center — reading, photography, crafts, sports, intercultural activities.  We also enjoyed meeting families and exploring the village and countryside.  This is one of several photo essays I have published about the program.  Here are some shots of the center we established and around the village.


Ayudanica — the Nicaraguan teens


In the late 90s, the HS service project Ayudanica established a library, computer center — a community center in the village of Monte Rosa in Nicaragua.  For ten years teams of American HS students traveled to Monte Rosa for 10 days, working in the  center.  They were joined by a team of Nicaraguan teens who maintained the center year round.  I’ve been in touch with a few vis FB but often wonder how they are doing — working, married, children?   It would be fantastic to see them again.


Children of Monte Rosa, Nicaragua


For about ten years I participated in a service trip to Nicaragua.  Led by Rob Buscaglia, we formed a nonprofit, Ayudanica.  Each year we took about a dozen HS students to a small sugar cane village, Monte Rosa.  Since my Spanish was extremely limited, I communicated with my camera.  Going back year after year we saw the kids grow from young children to early teens.  Here a few of my photographs of the children of Monte Rosa.

See my previous blog: Ayudanica — some of the team


Ayudanica – some of the team

imageIn the late 90s, Rob Buscaglia was a new Spanish teacher at HGP.  He had served in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua but always felt that “words” couldn’t convey his experience. He would have to take people in country to help them understand.  And so was born Ayudanica.  Rob ( a charismatic teacher) recruited about a dozen students to take to Nicaragua for about 10 days in the summer.  The first year, he invited me to join the program but I was already committed to teaching at Holy Family University.  In year two, I didn’t teach at HFU, and became part of the Ayudanica team.  Rob and I began to “train” kids during the school year modeled on out Peace Corps experience.  Rob led language, culture and history; I did a lot with team building and a bit of teacher training.

For ten  years we took about a dozen students to Nicaragua.  Each year we worked in the same sugar cane village, Monte Rosa, not far from the city of Chinandega where we stayed in a small hotel.  Our project involved establishing a library and computer center in a complex of buildings and courtyard owned by the Sandanista political party.  Over the years, we brought books, computers, set up a library, gave computer classes, engaged the village kids in story hours, craft classes, photography classes, sports.  All the time our American students worked with and passed on their training to a group of Nicaraguan teens.  The concept was that the Nica teens would run the center throughout the year.  We hired a director to run the program.

After about five years Rob left teaching at HGP.  Although the school liked the program, they had never made a financial commitment.  Students paid and were required to fundraise.  And our fundraising efforts were pretty successful.  The school administration wanted us to scale back the program.  Basically we said no.  Rob went on to his new teaching position; we formed the non-profit, Ayudanica, and expanded our recruitment beyond HGP.   We also went co-ed.  I think the first year all the girls were sisters of male participants.  Usually three adults went with the kids; female teachers joined the team.

Despite going to Nicaragra for about 10 years and trying to learn Spanish during the school year; my linguistic abilities were minimal.  So I communicated with my camera. I took literally thousands of slides; similarily thousands of  color prints; and the last few years digital photographs. I’m sorting through the prints and will create a  photo albulm of the Ayudanica experience.  I will also share some pictures online.  Here are some pictures of team members from the latter years.

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