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Once More
With Feeling
Selected Writings by
Tom McCollough

Front cover: the farmhouse and barn, 1975; Tom painting, 1975; the new
house, winter 1978. Back cover: Tom and Marian, Avesbury, U.K., 1985;
The Peoples Bank of Glenford, the McColloughs home until 2005.
If you would like to download a free copy of this book as a PDF, please go to:
ISBN: 978-0-692-76783-2


In 2005, Marian and I moved to a retirement community in Saratoga,
California. The writers group here encouraged me to try my hand at
composing short biographical vignettes that could be read aloud to
the group. Ten years later, I had cobbled together five books of these
reflections that I happily shared with family and friends.
From time to time, Ive reread these volumes. Surprisinglyto me,
at leastmuch of the material continued to delight: here was a perspective Id forgotten, and there, a brightened moment that had faded.
At eighty-seven, I figure that Ive told all of my life stories. Moreover, I dont have the will or the energy to begin writing and collecting
vignettes for a new book. So it occurred to me to gather those pieces
that still trigger memories and still invite further reflection into a single volumethe one youre holding in your hands.
Several friends encouraged the idea, so I engaged my friend
Michael J. Rosen, the former literary director of the Thurber House
in Columbus, Ohio, to guide me through the process.
Admittedly, Michael shares more than just the editorial work on
this book. We share mutual friends, passions, and most of all, the very
farm that Marian and I bought in 1961. Yes, Michael bought the property when we moved. For some 25 years, he has lived in the house
where we lived. He has hiked the trails our family walked. He has
watched the same grass carp in the farm pond we dug (They can live
for decades). He has fed the distant relations of the resident birds that
come to the same decks feeders. His suggestions, friendship, and enthusiasm have been a godsend.
And he enlisted others expertise, for which Im grateful. Tanya
Anderson served as insightful copy editor. John Margeson provided
both the books design and its witty drawings. Phil Behn, the son of
our friends Grace and Fred Behn who shared many summers in the
old farmhouse, scoured his collections for images that could illustrate
my vignettes. Likewise, our children, Elizabeth and Janice, cheered on
this good enterprise with their memories and enthusiasm. My thanks
to each and every one for making this finished book such a beautifully
illuminated autobiography.

For Marian Brown McCollough

August 6, 1928 to May 20, 2015

Marian died peacefully on May 20, 2015, in the healthcare center, attended by hospice workers, both daughters, and me by her side. She had
been in the center for sixteen months, unable to walk and living with
severe short-term memory loss.
For many years, Marian had endured
chronic cellulitis in her right leg that
flared up from time to time, sometimes seriously enough to require hospitalization.
She began to fall frequently; eventually
this led to the decision in 2014 to move her
to the healthcare center, where she would
be safer.
She slowly descended into critical-patient status, despite physical therapy, enhanced nutrition, and more nursing care. She was always hopeful
she would recover and resume normal life. Our family knew otherwise.
The months ground on, but the inevitable happened. We were sad, but
relieved that her worst days were over.

The pieces in this book were written over many years. At the start, I
was still in my 70s and sharing every day with Marian. Wed recently
moved from rural Ohio to a retirement center in Saratoga, California.
Collecting the work for this selection, lifting and adapting pieces from
five previous collections of my vin yets, Im mindful that these pages
leap across time. In one essay, I am 80; in another, Ive turned 86. Here,
Marian and I are traveling together; there, Im mourning her life, even
as I sit at her bedside wondering how long she will hold onto her physical
being. I trust youll indulge such inconsistencies as Ive organized the


book into sections that are oriented more by theme than by chronology.
I also trust that youll enjoy this collectionnot simply as a way to
share in a remarkable, unpredictable, and fortunate life, but in a way
that will bring back memories of your own.
Once more, with feeling.
Summer 2016


Table of Contents
Bucket Lists...................................................................................................1
The Start of Something Unexpected
Early Years: Philadelphia.............................................................................6
My Father......................................................................................................9
My Mother...................................................................................................13
My Older Siblings, The Twins...................................................................17
No Particular Destination..........................................................................20
Door-to-Door Salesmen..............................................................................22
A Teenager During World War II..............................................................26
Youthful Summer Jobs................................................................................29
Youthful Naivet: Stationed in Bad Nauheim, Germany.........................33
We Bought the Farm: The (SMALL) World of Glenford, Ohio
Ninety-three Acres......................................................................................43
Coon Hunting with Dick Bare...................................................................51
Vernon Macks Lake...................................................................................54
Louie the Black Snake................................................................................58
Fish Fries.....................................................................................................60
My Life As a Crime Fighter.......................................................................62
Just Call Me Takumi...................................................................................66
Roadside Ditch in a Blizzard......................................................................69
The Glenford Bank.....................................................................................74


PleasuresGuilty and Not-So

Gardens Past and Present Tense..............................................................87
Money, Money, Money...............................................................................91
Interlude: A Suite in Time, Spring.............................................................94
Interlude: A Suite in Time, Summer.........................................................96
Beagles and Bo............................................................................................98
Interlude: A Suite in Time, Autumn........................................................101
Exercise: I Hate It.....................................................................................102
The Good Life............................................................................................104
Interlude: A Suite in Time, Winter..........................................................107
Speaking in Tongues................................................................................109
A Parental Moment...................................................................................112
Waiting for the Sunset
IQ and Life.................................................................................................115
An Open Letter to My Vital Organs........................................................118
Is Tai Chi Illegal?.......................................................................................120
Five Ways To Achieve Immortality.........................................................123
Sana Mente, Sanum Corpore...................................................................125
A True, Oft-Told Tale of Harrison Sayre................................................127
A Tasteful Biography
Food: An Autobiography..........................................................................130
When Foods Are First Revealed .............................................................134
With Just a Hint of Black Currant...........................................................137
Learning to Eat..........................................................................................139
What in Heavens Name?.........................................................................143
What a Penny Will Buy............................................................................145
A Night on the Town in Frisco................................................................148

The Unlikeliest Businessman

The Golden Infant-Formula Era: All Things Change............................152
The Betsy Committee...............................................................................156
A Bump in the Career Path......................................................................160
Another Skill for Which I Was Unsuited................................................164
Successful Failures...................................................................................168
My Kind of Town, Geneva Is...................................................................171
Haiti Is Back in the News.........................................................................174
The End of the World: Lagos, Nigeria....................................................177
Out of Africa: Back Home in the United States.....................................187
New Years Eve in San Salvador..............................................................188
Tripoli: At Sea in a Foreign Land ...........................................................191
A Memorable Venison Dinner in Geneva...............................................195
Art: The Sweet Stuff of Life
Opera Is an Acquired Taste.....................................................................199
Xavier Cugat Didnt Like My Beguine....................................................205
The Good Stuff..........................................................................................208
Artists We Have Known...........................................................................212
Paintings and Sculptures Beyond My Means........................................215
My Life on Stage and Around It .............................................................218
The Most Beautiful Thighs on Earth......................................................221
The Brahms Requiem and the Verdi Requiem (Twice).......................224
Music, Music, Music................................................................................227
Building a Love for Books........................................................................231
Lincoln Portrait.........................................................................................235


Have Ticket, Will Travel

Flying High................................................................................................240
An American in Paris................................................................................245
Flirting With the Big Apple.....................................................................250
The Sweater from the Isle of Iona...........................................................253
Two Women at Puccinis Summer Home...............................................256
Cuddly Danger in Manitoba....................................................................258
Georgie on My Mind................................................................................261
Saint Katarina............................................................................................264
Scotland: Fiddling Around on May Fourth............................................267
Alaska: On the Briny Deep......................................................................270
Sanibel Island: Marian Goes Shelling.....................................................274
Brussels: Exactly How Much Are One Wife

and Two Daughters Worth?..............................................................278

Still Waiting for the Sunset

Aging Is Like Eating an Artichoke..........................................................282
Finding That Right Place to Retire..........................................................286
The Leftovers.............................................................................................290
Coping with the Finale.............................................................................292
A 2016 Election Campaign Aided by a Senile Retiree...........................294
RIP: The Grim Reaper, an Inconvenient Guest......................................297
In Closing
To Was, or Not to Was, That Is the Question.........................................300


Once More With Feeling


Once More With Feeling

Bucket Lists
Old folks are expected to make a bucket list: the things they want
to do before they kick the bucket. At eighty-seven, I have thought
about my list. Meals at fancy restaurantsIve done that! Trips to exotic
landsIve done that! Buy a drawing by MatisseI cant afford that!
If I had my druthers, I would relive some wonderful moments Ive already
had. This reverse bucket list would include a walk in the Appalachian
woods of Ohio in May when the wildflowers are in bloom; a juicy gourmet
hamburger in Geneva; a quiet, trans-Atlantic cruise with Marian with
no ports of call to distract from the reverie; a month-long stay at our
timeshare in Sanibel Island, watching the osprey fly overhead and the
dolphins swimming past.

This extensive bucket list of memoriesspecial times, places, and

friendsis what Ive written about for the past ten years. Although some
say you cant go back again, I say you can. And I have done it every day.

The spring-fed pond below the old farmhouse. Note the swimming float built
by friend Fred Behn and the rope with floats near the shore, a shallow, sandybottom wading area for our small children.

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On the other hand, I have a list of things that Ive never wanted to do. Call
this my anti-bucket list, if you will.
I have never parachuted from an airplane. (I note this because the elder
George Bush did that on his 80th birthday. The dare never occurred to
me. Am I cowardly? Yes.)
I have never eaten an octopus. Once on a business trip to Lebanon, our
sales force took me out for a three-hour lunch of delicacies that they
favored. The tiny, whole octopi in an oily marinade were only several
inches long. Am I cowardly? Yes.
I have never owned a boat. Well, thats not exactly true. For Marians
birthday, Grace and Fred Behn bought her a metal rowboat for our farm
pond, and we dubbed it Maid Marian. In some states, including Ohio,
the spouse owns half of the estate, so technically I owned half of an aluminum rowboat. But I was never tempted to make that expensive leap to
a sailboat or a motorboat.
I have never been to Australia or New Zealand. While it is true that I circumnavigated the Earth by going to a pediatric convention in New Delhi,
I never had the occasion to go Down Under. Neither on a vacation nor
on business did I get to see the opera house in Sydney, the Great Barrier
Reef, or Ayers Rock. But Ive seen them all in National Geographic. Cross
Australia off the list.
I have never scuba dived. Basically, I have always had a fear of water, or
more precisely, of being thrown into water before I could swim. Then,
too, swimming water always seems too cold to me. We went to plenty
of places that had scuba diving available, but nothing attracted me to it.
I have never owned a ruby. Garnets, yes; rubies, no. Once, when visiting

Once More With Feeling

the Dominican Republic, I bought Marian a pear-shaped piece of amber

as large as a real pear. We had it set in a silver setting that mimicked a
clinging vine. The stone had many insect inclusions, and Marian wore it
when we went to formal events. Later, we suffered a jewelry heist, and it
was stolen. I bought another large piece of amber to replace the loss, but
Marian never liked to wear the substitute.
I have never worked on an archaeological dig. We visited many digs,
however. Our trips to Turkey and Israel let us check out active digs
dirty, hot, boring. The magazine Biblical Archaeology offers an annual
summary of open digs-for-hire that anyone with the airfare and a budget
can go to for a month or so when the professors are there. The photos
typically show young people sifting dirt or brushing away dust with a
small brush. It sounds glamorous; Im guessing it is not.
I have never cheated on my wife. And I suspect that she never cheated
on me. Ive had opportunities. Many of my hosts in foreign countries
(Lebanon and the Philippines, for example) asked if I would like them
to arrange for a hooker for the night. I guess they thought that all redblooded American men would appreciate the service. I could only think
of the possible complications. It was no big deal.
I have never worn contact lenses. My daughter Elizabeth could not wait
until she was twelve and her eyes had matured. Then she could have
contact lenses and get rid of her thick glasses, which she was certain
scared off beaus. I thought she looked cute in glasses, but she insisted
that only contacts would make her attractive to the boys. Millions of
people wear contact lenses, but the thought of putting plastic disks on my
eyeballs every day is repulsive. At about age 35, I noticed that the type
on the telephone pages was blurry. I went to Woolworths and bought

Once More With Feeling

reading spectacles. I started with the weakest magnification and ended

up, some years later, with the most powerful glasses you can buyfor
$12 each.
I dont begrudge all the nevers when I consider just how many wonderful dids and hads we experienced. At this age, I dont plan ahead with
much enthusiasm. I might reminisce about the polar bears in Churchill,
Manitoba, or the rafting trip down the Grand Canyon. But I know my
eventual destination.

Once More With Feeling


The Start


Once More With Feeling

Early Years: Philadelphia

I lived my first 21 years in P hiladelphia . My earliest recollection of a home is 6433 Lebanon Avenue, a rented, narrow, row house.
The house had a sun porch, living room, dining room, and a kitchen on
the first floor, and three bedrooms and a bathroom on the second. The
banister was suitable for sliding. The small basement had a place to
wash clothes by hand, but Mother sent out our dirty clothes. They were
returned the following day as wet wash, and she hung those items out
to dry. Dads shirts came back ironed and folded.
The block we lived on was convenient to many essentials. A tailor shop
and a small grocery store were on one end; a dentist was on the other.
A delicatessen, a barber shop, two more grocery stores were only
one block away. A few blocks down, we could jump on the trolley that
headed downtown.

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On New Years Day, we sometimes took the trolley to midtown to view the
Mummers parade: dozens of south Philly social clubs that had prepared
all year to strut up Broad Street dressed in opulent, garish costumes or
play in string bands. Dad had a friend who worked in city hall who
arranged to let us view the famous parade from a warm second-story
office overlooking the parade route. The outside temperature was often
below freezing, so participants were usually fortified with generous
amounts of antifreeze (whiskey). Marching bands were limited to
playing banjos, accordions, saxophones, glockenspiels, violins, and
they had a distinctive screechy sound. The bandsdressed in fanciful,
elaborate costumesplayed familiar tunes, such as Oh, Dem Golden
During elementary school in Overbrook, we were occasionally taken on
field trips. We were bussed to the aquarium, the Franklin Institute, the
Commercial Museum adjacent to Convention Hall, and the zoo. I was
terrified by the electric eel at the aquarium, but delighted by the panda
and harbor seals at the zoo. It was not until I was a college student at the
University of Pennsylvania that I visited the famous art museums: the
Rodin Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, made famous by
the film Rocky.
Downtown had a glut of entertainment, especially the Earle Theater,
which featured shows and big bands. We saw the magician Howard
Thurston, Benny Goodman, Kay Kaiser, Phil Harris, the Dorsey
Brothers, andbest of allSpike Jones. The Trocadero was the one
burlesque house, attracting teenage boys and old men.
We lived in our rented row house in West Philly until 1939 when we
moved to 7 Wiltshire Road in Lower Merion. The new house was grand in

Once More With Feeling

comparison. It included a guest room, a walk-in cedar closet, a breakfast

nook, and a basement rec room. The new neighborhood also introduced
us to a suburban lifestyle: two cars, neighborhood potluck picnics, and
out-of-town visitors. I lived in the maids quarters over the garage.

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My Father
I never knew that Dad was somebody special he was just Dad,
the political editor of the Philadelphia Public Ledger, and, after it folded,
worked at the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. He covered the state legislature and local politics.
Dad died when he was 41. His parents lived into old age, so it wasnt
genetics. Later, I realized that he had embodied the hard-drinking,
chain-smoking, fedora-wearing role of the 1930s newspaper reporter
depicted in novels and in the theater. I never saw him drunk, but at home
he drank warm gin from a jelly glass. He paced. He chain-smoked and
rolled tobacco from the ends of his cigarettes so that when he lit them,
they flared with fire. He liked a hot smoke. He loved to have people
around him, and often someone was visiting for a drink or staying overnight. He was an enthusiastic host and had a devilish, twinkling sense of
humor. He was a classic Type-A personality.
Dad was away often, particularly when the state legislature was in session
in Harrisburg. He drove there on Sunday afternoons and returned home
on Friday nights. He always drove too fast and was often stopped for
speeding. Aus Meehan, the elected sheriff in Philadelphia, gave him an
honorary sheriffs badge. Dad pinned the impressive badge to his wallet
and flashed it whenever he was pulled over.
I can imagine him playing poker and drinking with his cronies throughout the week. He loved to gamble and play the horses. If he ever cheated

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on Mother, I will never know, but it wouldnt surprise me if he had.

Dad typed furiously with two fingers. Our family was seated in the
balcony of the Pennsylvania Convention Center when Wendell Willkie
was nominated for the presidency in 1940. I remember looking down at
the press box to see Dad, fedora cocked on his head, typing his story as
fast as his two fingers could manage. He went on the Willkie campaign
trail and returned with all his metal pin-on credentials for us to wear and
play with. On election night, we sat by the big Philco radio in the living
room to record the election returns.
As a father, he was perfect, loving, and interested in doing things with
my brothers and me. He called me Horsefeathers, probably a reflection
of the Marx Brothers film. It might sound derogatory, but it really was a
term of endearment. The twins were five years older, and he was proud
of their accomplishments, but I had a special place in his world. When
I was five or six, he bought me a little gift on his way home from work
every day. Sometimes it was just two Chiclets bought from a penny gum
machine. On payday, he stopped at the toy store at the station and bought
something a little more substantial. At home, he loved to take naps on
the living room couch. When he did, I usually curled up next to him, and
he told me stories or read to me. He took me deep-sea fishing and taught
me to fly cast before taking me to fish for trout.
He was so proud of the twins, Jack and Jim, and never missed a highschool football game when they played.
In 1939, he and Mother bought a lovely fieldstone home in the suburbs,
where he planted roses, his favorite flower, in the deep shade in the backyard. He over-fertilized the grass in the front yard, and we had ugly dead
spots for a season. Domesticated he was not.


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He loved to hunt with his brothers in the fall. He was especially proud
of his double-barreled shotgun. He and his brothers hunted pheasants
and rabbits. Mother had no interest in cooking the kill, so Dad brought
home rabbit tails and beautiful feathers for us to examine and display in
our bedrooms.
One late afternoon, we were on the couch together, and I felt him lurch.
His mouth dropped noticeably, and he pushed past me and limped to the
powder room to take two aspirin. He had had a severe stroke. He was 41
years old. The details are fuzzy to me, but he was hospitalized and then
came home to 24-hour nursing care for a while. Eventually he was able
to go back to work, but he had a severe limp, and much of his joie de vivre
was gone.
A sense of angst permeated the house, particularly as Mother tried
to hold things together. The newspaper continued to pay his salary,
and I can recall my parents huddled over the pay envelope each week,
counting the cash: $65 a week. He couldnt drive, but the bus line was
a block away, so, walking with a cane, he went downtown every day on
public transportation.
It was only a matter of months before he had a second stroke. He was
in the office of Harry Davis, the executive assistant to Joe Pew, who
owned the Sun Oil Company (Sunoco). Dad died that night at Jefferson
Hospital in downtown Philadelphia. Later that night, our house was filled
with relatives. I knew I was supposed to be sad, but I didnt know how
to express that sadness. Someone eventually took me upstairs and put
me to bed. I didnt see Mother until the next morning. She was on the
phone. When she saw me, she hugged me tightly and didnt say a word.
Dads funeral was held at the Oliver Blair Funeral Home, an institution


Once More With Feeling

known for burying important citizens in downtown Philadelphia. When

our family arrived at the funeral home for the viewing, we were astounded
to find three large rooms filled with flowers from floor to ceiling and
dozens of strangers milling around and hovering over the casket. Mother
and my brothers and I were seated off to the side, and a flow of people,
one after another, stopped by to tell Mother that Dad had done him or
her a favorhelped to find a new job, gave a ten-dollar loan when broke,
helped to get a kid into college. What a wonderful person he had been,
they reported. That night he was exalted. And it came as a surprise. We
never knew these things.
After Dads death, Mother never remarried or even thought about it. She
told me that she could never find a husband as wonderful as Dad had
been. He died when I was eleven. He would have been an interesting guy
to know when I became an adult, not just as my father, but this man so
many others knew in so many different ways.


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My Mother
Mother married and bore three boys, the twins and me. Dad died
when she was 42, and she raised us boys as a widow. She worked at various
jobs until she was 78, the longest as a dress saleslady at Strawbridge and
Clothier, where she was able to buy clothes at a discount. She was always
well dressed. Her personality was gentle, kind, and charming. She graduated from high school but never went to college. She read best sellers,
did crossword puzzles every day, and loved Bette Davis movies. She sang
with a sweet soprano voice.
When I was a child, she smoked Sir Walter Raleigh cigarettes, because
they had a coupon on the back that she redeemed for glassware. While
Dad was alive, she was a typical 1930s housewife: cooking, doing
laundry by hand, ironing, and cleaning, especially in spring and fall,
when the woodwork was scrubbed and curtains taken down and washed.
Rugs were vacuumed with an Electrolux and later an upright Hoover,
bought on time. She rarely raised her voice to correct errant children.
She made many of my clothes.
When I went to elementary school, I came home for lunch at noon, and
she had Campbells tomato soup and a sandwich ready. Her cooking
skills were marginal, but she made a delicious pot roast and breaded veal
cutlets. She never baked pies, but baked a cake several times a week.
At the end of World War II, my brothers volunteered for the Army Air
Corps. I was in junior-high school when I became the man of the house.
Mother and I developed a new relationship. I became her escort and


Once More With Feeling

friend. I called her pal. We spent our lives together all the time. We
played canasta and pinochle with neighbors, went to movies together,
shopped together, went on vacations together, and went to church
together. I was her best friend and protector. When the neighborhood
had robberies, I piled glass milk bottles at the doors so we would be
warned about an intruder.
As a teenager seeking maturity and freedom, I began to feel uneasy
that we were too close, and later asked a psychiatrist whether I had any
serious Oedipal issues. He told me no; rather, he explained that Mother
had taught me how to love women.
I lived at home until I was drafted. Jack and Jim were discharged from the
Army Air Corps and started college, living at home. When they married,
Mother was alone again. When discharged, I moved to Columbus, Ohio.
A friend of the family had built an apartment building in Ardmore,
Pennsylvania, and he provided Mother a small studio apartment at a low
monthly rent. Her assets were primarily the proceeds from the sale of
the fieldstone house she and Dad bought in 1939.
Her first grandchild, Libby, could not say grandmother and called
her Ginga. Eventually, all thirteen grandchildren called her Ginga.
Mother had a charm bracelet made with the name of each grandchild
inscribed on it.
We flew her out to Ohio at least once a year and once flew her to Europe
to share a trip we had taken to Israel. Her sister, Arlene, took her as a
companion to Cocoa Beach, Florida, every winter. She also once went to
Bermuda with her sister. After my brother Jim passed away, his widow,
Minnie, picked Mother up on Sunday nights for dinner. Mothers older
brother also went to Ardmore once a year to do her taxes for her.


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One July when she was visiting, we noticed personality changes. She was
critical of my sisters-in-law and was irritated at a friend of Marians who
visited us on the Fourth of July. It was unlike her to complain about anything. On one occasion, she called me at the office five times in one day,
unaware we had talked earlier. Minnie reported that Mom was spending a lot of time sitting alone in the lobby of her apartment. Mothers
brother, Bob, who did her taxes, also noted the changes. He and Minnie
contacted me and said, You have to do something about Edythe.
I flew to Philadelphia to see her and drove her to her doctor. He confirmed that her personality had changed radically, and he wanted to send
her for a medical assessment. An MRI was done. Her brain is a mass of
tangles. She is operating on half a brain, her doctor explained. It was a
case of advanced Alzheimers.
Mother knew something was wrong. She once said, I am going crazy
and asked, You wont put me away, will you? Her total assets were about
$50,000. I was a salaried employee living paycheck to paycheck. We contacted Westminster Terrace, a Presbyterian-based senior-living facility
in downtown Columbus. They suggested we fly her in for a weekend trial
to determine the level of care she would need. We did, and they recommended she go into an assisted-living apartment.
She continued to deteriorate, half there and half not. I closed up her place
in Ardmore. It was weird going through her things. She had hidden a
little money, her jewelry, and a few other valuables in nooks and crannies all over the apartment, wrapped in stockings, paper, or underwear.
She hated Westminster Terrace. I stopped by to see her most nights after
work. I cant stand all these old people, she complained (though she
was now in her 80s). Eventually, she didnt recognize me, or she thought


Once More With Feeling

I was her husband. When I brought Marian along, she would scowl and
say, I hate that woman. She became agitated if we left her room. Marian
and I felt helpless.
She loved ice cream, and for a long time, we would take her for a drive and
stop for an ice-cream cone. Then, suddenly, any attempts to take her out
set her into a fury. We stopped taking her out. After she stopped reacting
to me at all, I visited less frequently.
When Mother ran out of money, a social worker helped us apply for
Medicaid. It amused me that we were finally getting some of our tax
money back.
Mom fell and broke her hip one day when she was out of bed. I thought
she would never walk again. In two weeks, after returning from the hospital, she was walking up and down the hallway, holding onto the railing.
She had weathered grim storms and had some happiness and a lot of
loneliness and sorrow, especially when the twins died in their 40s. Before
her dementia, she was a charming companion, particularly when Dad
was alive and she was rearing her three little boys.
She died a few months before her 90th birthday. The gerontologist
who cared for her told me, She was a proud, tough lady. But I already
knew that.


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My Older Siblings,
The Twins
My older brothers, the twins, were born in 1924. I was born five
years later. This created a nearly lifelong separation of our worlds. When
I was five, they were ten. When I was ten, they were fifteen. When I was
fifteen, they were twenty.
We had other differences. They were short, stocky, genial, and hearty.
I was skinny, taller, serious, and often sickly with frequent bouts of tonsillitis. They loved to roughhouse. I didnt. We were a cohesive family,
but they lived in one world, and I lived in another. When they became
teenagers, they became interested in sports: football, wrestling, and
track. When I went to high school, I weighed 125 pounds and became
the football team manager, not a player.

My identical twin brothers, Jack and Jim, were born on January 6, 1924. They
died of cardiac complications in their forties, as Dad did.


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Their paternal grandmother could not tell them apart, they were that
identical. When the twins were babies, Mother dressed them identically.
Among the kin they were known as the twinnies.
They were identical in many ways. I noticed that they often slept in identical positions, even though they were in separate twin beds. However,
they had different personalities. Jack was more placid and friendly. Jim
was more intense, more inside himself. You might expect that the twins
would be competitive, but that never seemed evident. They were two
peas in a pod, doing things together, almost as one. They had a devilish streak, but when they got into trouble, never blamed the other. (We
will never know which one put his foot through the bedroom wall when
roughhousing in their bedroom.)
When they reached sixteen, Dad bought them a used car. They called it
The Green Hornet, a green Pontiac sedan with a governor set at thirtyfive miles per hour. Their favorite pastime was finding the steepest hill
they could to see how fast they could make the car go downhill.
They played opposite guard positions in football and were good enough
to play on the first team in high school. In track, they threw the shot
put. They practiced in the front and back yards, both of which became
pocked with divots. Jack was the better wrestler and competed in the
high-school state finals. To earn money as teenagers, they caddied at
local golf courses.
They had huge appetites. After finishing supper, they might eat a quart
can of applesauce. Occasionally, at the dinner table, they hollered, Look
at the submarine! When I looked up, one would snatch my pork chop.
Inevitably Mother would make the perpetrator give it back.


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Health issues plagued them from their teenage years. Jack had highblood-pressure issues before he was twenty. Jim suffered from eczema
for years. Dad bought an ultraviolet lamp, and Jim had ten minutes
exposure every day for a decade.
When they went into the Army Air Corps, the militarys policy was to
keep twins together. They served together throughout their years of
service. Upon their return, they went to and graduated from the Wharton
School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and soon married
lovely women.
Jack went to work for A. O. Smith, selling glass-fused silos. Jim, on the
other hand, had larger plans. After working for Mothers sisters family
as a salesman, he started his own operation selling chemical mega-supplies to clients. For example, he sold carloads of salt to the Pennsylvania
Highway Department.
Then both the twins died in their early 40s, as Dad had. Jack died first of
a massive stroke, even though he was under the medical care of a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
Jack was my favorite; he played the role of my protector. When I sought
comfort, he let me crawl in bed beside him. We were good friends. He
looked out for me.
As adults, the twins and I interacted infrequently. I feel guilty that we
were not closer. They were good-natured, with a twinkling sense of
humor, but they were always on the go. And I was always the little brother.


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No Particular Destination
dad was late cOmIng hOme for dinner one evening in the summer of
1937. A shiny, new black Chevrolet sedan pulled up at the curbour familys first car. Dad was very proud, and after dinner we went for a ride. So
began an entertainment that lasted decades: taking rides into the countryside with no particular destination, just the ride as entertainment.
Ours was a family of five, so Mother and Dad sat in the front seat of the
car. All three brothers fought to be the one selected to sit between my
parents. Because I was the youngest and smallest, I was elected to sit in
the middle. However, if the twins became too rowdy in the back seat, I
was displaced by the perpetrator.
The car had no heater, so in the winter everyone but the driver spread
a heavy blanket over our laps and legs. The car was not only a mode of
transportation, but also our primary form of entertainment in those days.
Over time, we accumulated destinations and stops along the way. One
was a ride to a favorite fruit stand in the countryside near West Chester,
Pennsylvania. We bought watermelons and sweet corn in summer, cider
and half bushels of apples in the fall.


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The stand also sold homemade ice cream. The most delicious was the
rich purple-black raspberry ice cream served in a cup cone. Like the
fruit, that ice cream was seasonal, available only during summer months.
The town of Swarthmore lay in a different direction. A ten-acre lake
was located near the college. We would rent a rowboat for an hour
and slowly row around the lake. It was there that I first learned to row,
although facing the stern always seemed peculiar to me. Didnt it make
more sense to face in the direction you rowed? But physics and tradition
topped reason.
After we bought a car, we often traveled to Lancaster to visit my
parents parents. This, too, became an excuse for treats. Halfway from
Philadelphia to Lancaster, a small cow town, Exton, had a dairy where
they sold homemade caramels. The most unusual was a toffee caramel
with black walnuts. My parents considered it a delicacy. I preferred the
plain caramel.
Nearer Lancaster lay Coatesville, a nondescript town with the Lukens
steel mill and a YMCA that served Sunday dinners in a cafeteria. The
family trooped up to the second-floor restaurant and selected homemade
chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes and gravy, and sweet corn,
with apple pie for dessert. Many years later, the Pennsylvania turnpike
bypassed Coatesville, and the steel mill closed; it is unlikely that the
chicken dinners are served anymore.


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Door-to-Door Salesmen
For the first ten years of my life, we lived in a rented row house
in West Philadelphia. In the rear of the house was a cemented alley, an
essential part of our lifestyle during a time when we had no car to drive
to a store. The alley was a trade route for itinerant salesmen. Through
the day, in good weather, a parade of men and their merchandise flowed
through the alley. Sometimes the man rang a bell to announce his arrival.
Sometimes he shouted the name of his products.
In those days before malls, supermarkets, and two cars per family, we
could sustain ourselves because the world came to us. Here are the visitors I can remember:
The Horseradish Man. He carried a small wooden stand with a grinder
attached to its top. To fill each order, he ground a half-cup of fresh horseradish that had to be stored in an ice chest.
The Ice Man. Bob came about every other day. Mother placed a card
in the window specifying how many pounds of ice we needed: 20, 40,
60, or 100. Bob had huge blocks of ice in his truck. With an ice pick, he
deftly chopped off a piece, heaved it to his shoulder, and put it in our
ice chest. We followed him back to the truck, and he let us grab a few
ice chips to suck on.
When we finally had enough money to buy a Frigidaire, I remember the
sadness when we told Bob we no longer needed his services.
The Vegetable Man. The vegetable truck carried a limited assortment


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of vegetables: tomatoes, carrots, onions, and cabbage. He featured

the veggies in season, such as corn on the cob or string beans in the
summer. He also carried some fruit in season: berries, peaches, and
pears. Exotic vegetables (e.g., Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus)
were unknown to us.
The Knife Sharpener Man. For twenty-five cents, he sharpened all
of the knives that required sharpening. He had a small stand with a
grinder wheel attached to the top. The stand was just a few boards nailed
together that he could haul on his back. He walked by about once a week.
The Milkman. The first horse-drawn milk wagon I remember had
wooden wheels. The second wagon had pneumatic tires, and I thought
that was spiffy. The unhomogenized milk was delivered to the front
door in glass bottles with cardboard caps. In winter the cream froze and
pushed the cap up an inch. The milkman also delivered butter when
Mother ordered it.

In the 1930s, we had door-to-door salesmen knocking nearly every day, selling
everything from vacuum cleaners to encyclopedias.


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The Ice-Cream Men. In the summer months, we were visited by

two ice-cream menone in a truck and one on a bicycle. The bicycle
man had only one product, frozen cups of orange sherbet for a dime.
The truck dispensed ice-cream cones, and the cost depended on how
many scoops you ordered. Fads came and went. For a while, Popsicles
were our favorites.
The Shaved-Ice Man. For one or two cents, we bought a snow cone
in a paper cup. The fellow shaved ice chips from a block of ice that was
covered with a towel to prevent rapid melting. The block of ice was surrounded by an array of bottles containing flavored syrups; cherry, lime,
grape, root beer, orange, vanilla, and even chocolate. After shaving the
ice, he poured a generous portion of the syrup over the ice. We slurped
them slowly, making them last as long as possible.
The Notions Man. The notions man carried a large black suitcase.
He sat in the kitchen or the living room and popped open his suitcase.
The contents were colorful and shiny: can openers, buttons, needles,
thread, clothespins, and common household objects. Mother invariably
bought some little thing.
The Fuller Brush Man. When the Fuller Brush man rang the doorbell,
he had a small brush and a catalogue of all of the available brushes in his
hand. His pitch was always the same. The little brush was a free gift. Read
through the catalogue. I will return in about half an hour to take your order.
He returned in a while with his order pad. Somehow we always needed a
radiator brush, clothes brush, or some other exotic never-used brush.
The Broom Men. We had two types of broom men. One came down
the back alley carrying six or seven brooms over his shoulder. The other
came to the front door accompanied by a blind man to illustrate the point


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that the brooms were made by blind men in a local cottage industry. If
you bought a broom, you were supporting the blind community. The
pitch never failed to make a sale.
The Insurance Man. Mom and Dad had some life insurance policies.
So every Thursday the insurance man stopped by to collect the premium
due: ten cents a week. (I suspect the policies were not very large.) Short,
obese, and bald, he wore a coat and tie and carried a customer book that
was three or four inches thick. Mother handed over the dime, and he
flipped through the pages until he found our account. Then, with a flourish, he marked off the payment.
The Rag Man. I honestly do not know whether the rag man sold rags or
collected them, but I think he collected them. Heres why: Mother always
had a rag bag in the bottom of the living-room closet. When something
wore out, she tore it into sections, washed and folded the pieces, and put
them in the rag bag. Whenever we needed a dust rag, we took one from
the rag bag. The remaining rags were donated to the rag man.
All those other guys. Other salesmen came to the door from time to
timethe encyclopedia salesmen, for example. Most came during daylight hours, but a few came at night when Dad was home, most notably
the vacuum-cleaner man. The salesman would turn over the corner of
the living room rug and run a vacuum cleaner over the other side. We
watched the dirt pour off. Mother was horrified at the dirt in the rug.
Soon enough, we had a Hoover vacuum in the living-room closet.
Our family doctor, who practiced in his office a few blocks away, had
afternoon hours at home, but made house calls in the morning. I think
he charged two dollars per visit.


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A Teenager During
World War II
When the Japanese bombed P earl H arbor , I was 12 years old. The
news came that Sunday afternoon, December 7, 1941, and our juniorhigh-school choir was boarding a bus to go to downtown Philadelphia
to record a concert. The teachers huddled together to discuss our
safety and decided to go ahead anyway, because it was unlikely that the
Japanese would blow up the radio station, even though Philly had a large
naval shipyard. We went and sang and returned home safely. My older
brothers, the twins, were 17 and a tad too young to be drafted. Dad, who
thought he might be called on to become a war correspondent, died
about 18 months later.
The next few days after the attack were days of confusion, patriotism,
and declarations of war against Japan, Germany, and Italy. Until the war
ended in 1945, my family never experienced danger of any kind, but our
lives were altered. Every neighborhood was mobilized for the war effort,
with civilian captains selected to monitor the blackouts and convey information to the neighbors.
We had moved into a nice fieldstone house in the suburbs. It had a recreation room in the basement that was quickly converted into a safe haven
in case of attack. The room had two windows in window wells, and they
were blacked out with heavy curtains so we could burn an electric light
at night. Soon food and gas rationing were introduced. Our home was


Once More With Feeling

only several hundred yards from a bus stop, and Dad started using public
transportation to go to work.
Meat was in short supply, except for a Hormel product called Spam,
a very salty, shaped, ground-pork product in a can two inches by four
inches. Mother learned to bake it like a smoked ham, crisscrossing it
with knife scars, with whole cloves inserted into the sections. Spam
with sauted apples was a weekly staple. Many nights menus consisted
of a baked potato with some cheese and onion, even though cheese was
rationed. Neighbors gossiped about black markets where meat could
be bought without ration stamps, but Mother was too conscientious to
go to them.
For the next four years, our
lives were dominated by war
news, war activities, and war
anxiety. We saved the silver
foil from chewing gum and
cigarette wrappers, bought
war bonds and stamps, built
small models of enemy war
planes that were hung in
classrooms so we would instantly identify an invader, and wrote to soldiers, known and unknown, so that every soldier would have mail at mail
call. Mother knitted socks and scarves for the troops.
Two of Mothers brothers were in the service. Uncle Dick Johns was
eventually stationed in India, and I wrote to him every day for several
years. Uncle Bob Johns was the executive officer on a mine-sweeper in
the Navy.


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We hated and feared Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito, but nearly all war
activities were idealized and glorious. Hollywood produced films that
glamorized war and entertained the troops.
My twin brothers, when they came of draft age, decided to join the Army
Air Corpsnot to fly, but to remain together in administrative roles.
They were stationed in Yuma, Arizona, at an air base. When the war was
over, they were still in the service and were shipped to Germany. Mother
and I said goodbye to them at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Mother was in tears,
fearing that her boys were going into battle.


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Youthful Summer Jobs

When a teenager enters high school, he and his family begin to think
it is time for him (or her) to get a job during the summer months. It is
a rite of passagelike getting a Social Security number, like having a
little of your own money in your pocket. Of course, you planned to save
all the earnings for the following school year, but it was too temping not
to buy something immediately with the first checkand the second
check, and the third.
The dog hospital. I worked in the office of veterinarian Doctor Otto
Stader. I had the exciting job of cleaning the soiled dog cages in the
morning, mixing and baking the next days food, combing and bathing
those dogs that needed grooming, and watching Dr. Stader do dozens
of spaying and neutering operations. After two months, I loathed cocker
spaniels that bit me regularly. I decided that cleaning soiled dog cages
was not an occupation I coveted.
The golf driving range. One summer, my brothers, Jack and Jim, with
two of their buddies, took over the management of a golf driving range
in King of Prussia, PA. The range had a small food stand by the parking
lot where golfers could buy cold drinks, hot dogs, hamburgers, and ice
cream. My summer job was to man the stand while my brothers retrieved
the balls from the range.
It was a small operation, and we did not have one of those tractors that
ran back and forth collecting balls. Instead, we jerry-built a large piece of


Once MOre With Feeling

plywood with some shoulder straps so we could do the pick-up while the
golfers were practicing their drives. Golfers took great pleasure in aiming
for the plywood, screaming Got One when the plywood was struck.
The only trouble was that the driving range did not produce any income.
The reason? We ate all the profits. Jack and Jim loved milk shakes
and made dozens of them. When their friends stopped by, they would
provide a round of hamburgers, potato chips, and a Coke for every one.
Profits those days: nil.
I think my salary was $10 per week, and all the food I could eat.
Fair enough!
Selling Christmas trees. Although not a summer job, at Christmas
time we sold Christmas trees in front of a local grocery store. The twins
and their friends, Bud Jackson and Jack Muntz, drove down to the
Philadelphia railroad yards and selected bundlesbetween one and
six treesfor $10. The one-tree bundle contained one tree, ten feet tall,
whereas the six-tree bundle had six four-feet-tall trees.


Once More With Feeling

A bundle sometimes contained a misshapen tree. That was okay. We

carefully explained to the customer that the tree was specially grown
to fit in a corner, or against a wall. (It was surprising how many buyers
bought into the scam and left happy with a god-awful looking tree.)
When a tree sold, I sawed off the tree-trunk bottom flush, and nailed on a
green wooden stand, hoping that it would stand straight when set upright.
The operation was profitable. We couldnt eat trees, so each partner
made a stunning $100 during the season.
The road gang. Perhaps the most unlikely summer job I ever had was
the summer I worked on a road gang. I was awarded the job through a
political connection where we lived. Each morning the boss picked up
the gang in an open-bed truck and took us to the work site. We installed
a guardrail along the narrow road adjacent to the Schuylkill River. My
work tools were a long-handled shovel and an eight-feet-long pointed
steel bar for wedging out rocks. The postholes we dug were to be six feet
deep. At the time I weighed 125 poundsa 125-pound weakling. The
holes I dug usually had a boulder at the five-feet level, and I struggled to
extract rocks out of the hole.
The remote road was famous for having a rock outcropping at ten feet
above and slightly over the pavement. The boss decided we had to cut
back the rock so big trucks could drive by safely. He ordered jackhammers for the task. Joe was the only person who had the strength to lift
the hammer up to work on the stone. During a break, they asked me if
I would like to see what a jackhammer felt like in action. I had trouble
lifting the heavy tool to the upright position. When I squeezed the trigger,
it jumped all over the place, and my toe hollered, Look out, you fool!


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Bussing tables at a hotel near Boston. In the summer of 1949, a fraternity brother and I sent resumes to resort hotels all over the East Coast.
We chose the Hotel Preston in Swampscott, Massachusetts, because the
job offered free lodging, a decent salary, and a scenic, cliff-side setting
on the Atlantic. The Preston catered to a wealthy clientele from Boston.
Many of the guests came year after year, and the atmosphere was casual
and friendly. The help was encouraged to mingle with the guests. At the
Thursday night dances, the young male employees asked the dressedto-kill old ladies for a dance.
Fred and I worked in the dining room, bussing tables. Most of the waitresses were part of the permanent staff who traveled to West Palm Beach
in the winter and to Swampscott in the summer. They didnt fraternize
with the college kids. They, not we, received all tips.
Dinner was served in one sitting. At 7 pm, the dining-room doors were
opened, and all of the diners came in at once. The three-course meal was
served efficiently while a house band played dinner music.
Life was sereneexcept for one problem. We were housed in a barracks, four to a room. One of our roommates, Bob, a medical student
from Toronto, hated to get up in the morning. When we tried to wake
him up, he snarled and swung his arms like a boxer. He was dangerous,
even though he had a gentle temperament when fully awake. We had to
be up and dressed early to serve breakfast. So we set up a schedule to
wake Bob up so each roommate had only two days a week to put his life
in danger.


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Youthful Naivet:
Stationed in Bad
Nauheim, Germany
Camp Cooke was located 9.2 miles north of Lompoc, California.
It is now Vandenberg Air Force Base. The troop train that transported
us from Maryland to California traveled west in the dead of winter. The
windows were frosted, and we couldnt see out as we traversed the icy
country. It was during the Korean War, and I was being shipped to basic
training after being drafted in 1951.
Camp Cooke was a wilderness with acres of sandy soil, scrub brush,
and intense blue skies. My platoon of recruits was comprised of several
men who had graduated from college and were caught in the Korean
draft. Several of us quickly bonded, and when we began having weekend
passes, we went out together to dinner or thumbed rides to San Francisco.
Other than being trucked to remote firing ranges, we did not appreciate
the beauty of where we were stationed.
We knew the ocean was nearby, but had never seen it. After lunch one
weekend, Roy McLeese and I decided to walk across acres of firing
ranges, sand dunes, and brush up to our waists to the ocean. We made
it, and when we saw the water, we felt like great explorers seeing the
Pacific for the first time.
Say no to authority figures. I was eventually sent to Infantry Officers


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Training School in Fort Benning, Georgia. I studied hard, had good

grades in map reading, could march a company hither and yon, and
could make a tight bunk that always passed inspection. Consequently, I
finished the ordeal in the top ten of the candidates.
That meant that if I passed an examination by a panel of officers, I
would be offered a regular Army commissiona big deal. My shoes
were never shined so shiny. My pants were so creased they would cut
butter. I was ready.
After a few casual questions, the commanding officer asked, Would you
like to make the army your career?
No, sir.
Why not?
I am eager to return to civilian life, and besides, I dont like to take orders.
You could have heard a pin drop. Lieutenant Wysong, my unit officer,
scowled at me, and the interview was over. Later he asked me, Why did
you say that? Apparently an RA commission was not something to be
sneezed at.
Because its true, I answered.
Instead of being sent to Korea where several of my buddies were killed,
I was made a Medical Service Corps officer and sent to Germany to run
a small clinic in Germany.
Recollections of Bad Nauheim, Germany. After several months of
training at Ft. Sam Houston in Texas, my next assignment in 1952 was
to Bad Nauheim, Germany, to run a small health clinic for an infantry
battalion in Butzbach, north of Frankfurt.


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When we were on base in the kaserne (German for barracks), my

platoon managed sick call every morning. Our physicians were German.
All the others in the platoon were American soldiers. When we went
into the field, we set up a battalion aide station. Officers were billeted
in a massive turn-of-the-century residential hotel, the Kaiserhof. The
battalion was billeted in an old castle in Butzbach, north of Frankfurt.
The clinic was a two-story, modern building adjacent to the castle. The
medics occupied the first floor, and the dental facility was located on the
second floor.

Bad Nauheim, Germany, is a spa town 25 miles north of Frankfurt. The

postcard shows the art nouveau bath complex looking up the hill toward the
railway station. As an officer, I was billeted in the Kaiserhof Hotel on that street.

My room on the third floor of the Kaiserhof had a small balcony

overlooking the railroad station nearby. The bed was more than comfortable, with a feather mattress and comforters to match. The wash


Once More With Feeling

basin was surrounded with elaborately carved marble. A maid straightened up each day and did my laundry weekly. The only thing missing
was a piano and a radio. So I rented an upright piano, had it carried up
three flights of stairs, and bought a huge Grundig radio, for which I
bartered several months of rationed cigarettes.
Bad Nauheim was a resort town featuring a spa of delightful art nouveau
buildings in the center of the old town. A well-known heart clinic was
located just beyond the spa, and the major streets featured small clinics
where people could recuperate in hotel settings. Nearby was a park
where mineral waters sprayed down over towers of twigs. There, people
with lung problems could rest, breathing in the moist, beneficial air. A
few streets near the Lutheran church featured modern shops that sold
goods for the tourists, natives, patients, and Army soldiers.
My platoon of medics lived in a centuries-old stone castle in Butzbach,
a medieval town about five miles north of Bad Nauheim. Our clinic
was located in a building adjacent to the castle. We held sick call every
morning. Two German doctors treated the soldiers who were legitimately
ill. (Most were not.) One of the doctors, Hans Sieman, was married and
lived near the campus. The other doctor was single and was trying desperately to seduce one of the USO girls into marrying him so he could
come to America and become a U.S. citizen.
Several times a year, we were rousted out of bed in the middle of the
night to go to the field to take part in an exercise to protect the Fulda
Gap where the dastardly Russians were expected to invade. We set
up a battalion aid station to care for the wounded. The Russians never
invaded, and dying soldiers never arrived. But for the first time in my life,
I camped out in a foot of snow, drinking hot coffee to stay warm. Most of


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the time in the field was spent socializing with friends.

I was assigned a driver, a nice young fellow driving an open medic jeep.
He picked me up each morning at seven, and I ate breakfast and lunch
at the mess in the castle.
After work, I ate dinner at a restaurant in Bad Nauheim. The war had
been over for six years, and the restaurants were well stocked with
meat, fresh vegetables, and German wines. My culinary education
was underway. Most meals began with a small tossed salad with vinaigrette, followed by a plate-sized schnitzel served with fried potatoes
and two veggies slathered in butter and kept warm on a searing-hot
metal plate. The waiter kept my plate stocked until I hollered, Stop!
(Did you know that Schnitzel a la Holstein is a schnitzel with a fried
egg on it?)
I learned to drink wine with my food. The three dominant wines of the
area were Rheingau, Rheinhessen, and Mosel. All were white, slightly
sweet, and perfect for long hours of sipping. Like the natives, I brought
a book or newspaper to the restaurant and sat sipping wine late into the
evening before returning to the Kaiserhof.
To keep from becoming bored, I took up photography. I bought an Argus
C3 at the PX and started shooting in the neighborhood. I learned to
develop and print the pictures and sent them home.
USO tours took me to Paris and Italy. I loved classical music and attended
the reopening of the restored Frankfurt Opera House that had been
destroyed by Allied bombs. On two occasions, I traveled to Bayreuth
for the Wagner Festival that had just reopened after the war to hear Der
Meistersinger and Parsifal. I visited the Goethe House in Frankfurt and


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read Faust and The Sorrows of Young Werther, which introduced me to an

entirely new literary category.
My first commander of the battalion was Colonel Wayne Winder. He was
bright, handsome, and a West Point graduate. After a year in Butzbach,
he was transferred as special liaison to the Russians in East Berlin. He
invited me to visit his wife and him in Berlin, where he drove me into
the East Sector. The Berlin Wall had not yet been built, and daily visits
to the sector were normal. I admit I became uncomfortable when we
encountered a flag-waving Communist youth group marching nearby.
When Winder left, he was replaced with an overweight, dull colonel who
bragged that he was last in his class at West Point.
My crowning achievement in Bad Nauheim was to start a wedding chest.
I went to a fancy hardware store and bought twelve settings of Rosenthal
china. Down the street, I bought a set of delicate stemware, the glass
so thin and fragile that every time we used and washed it, something
shattered. Nearby on the Czech border, I ordered a custom set of crimson-and-gold espresso cups that we used until we left our farm home in
1987, when they went to auction.

The small, happy rabbita piece of Rosenthal

ceramicswas purchased in Bad Nauheim, Germany,
in the early 1950s as a souvenir. The larger one was
bought on eBay in 2014.

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The mayor of Butzbach wanted the German citizens to use our American
tennis courts, and he called a meeting of a team of officers from the
base to discuss the matter. The meeting in the medieval city hall
began with coffee and cake, and then a citizen described the history of
Butzbach during the previous five hundred years. Their long history,
they explained, recommended that they be permitted to play tennis on
our courts. We turned down their request.
A Gallon of Pain Killers. When I arrived for my assignment, I was
given the combination to a large safe in which controlled substances
were stored. The largest item in the safe was a huge pickle jar of codeine
tablets to be used in case the Russians attacked us. Casualties required
painkillers. When we went to the field on bivouac, the jar was taken along
and closely guarded.
Official procedures required that twice a year I was to count the pills and
submit a written report to regimental headquarters.
Youve seen those big glass jars in delicatessens: gallon jars in which dill
pickles are sold. The codeine pills were white and dusty and a bit smaller
Living in Bad Nauheim was an amazing, eye-opening experience for an
inexperienced twenty-one-year-old. Many years later, Marian and I took
our friends Steve and Barbara Borik back to relive old times. The town had
become surrounded by new construction, which confused me. But once
I arrived at the center of town, it all came back. The Kaiserhof had been
turned into an apartment building and the Army had abandoned Butzbach,
but a few of the old restaurants where I ate each night were still serving
crispy wiener schnitzels.
An adage states that all things change, but in this case, not much. My memories have flooded back.


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than a normal aspirin. The jar held hundreds and hundreds of pills.
The counting procedure took me at least a day. I was a conscientious
rascal, and I accepted the task with great seriousness. In fact, I was
fearful that if I didnt do it correctly, I might be court-martialed for
mishandling a controlled substance. I worried that I would lose count
halfway through and have to start over again. Then, too, was the fear of
theft or chicanery by someone on my staff, although I never shared the
combination to the safe with anyone.
I had a serious problem. The weight of the pills on top of the heap crushed
a few pills at the bottom of the pile. Every time I counted, a lower count
resulted. So, every time I counted the pills, I carefully brushed up the
dust and shattered pills and put the powder in an envelope. I forwarded
my report with the envelope stapled to the report. After sending my
biannual findings, I waited anxiously for some sort of reaction from
Regimental Headquarters. None ever came in two years. I have no evidence that anyone ever read my paperwork.
The strange part of the story is that no one ever told me how to prescribe
the drug. Should I offer one pill? Two pills? Or a handful of pills? And
what would happen if the patient couldnt swallow? I hope that todays
medics are better equipped and trained than I was.
I stocked one other codeine-containing medicine: elixir of terpin hydrate
with codeine for coughs. The mixture also contained a little alcohol with
a touch of chloroform. The ranks loved the stuff and came into sick call
coughing and hacking, explaining that they needed a bottle of the tasty
stuff right away. We never had any instructions about its use, so we liberally prescribed the elixir.


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I am sure it soothed those sore throats successfully. At least that is what

the same soldiers told me over, over, and over again.
Sexual Matters. In basic training, the surest way to get an immediate
discharge was to be caught in bed with another soldier when the sergeant came through in the morning. The offending couple may or may
not have done anything, but the two men would be gone by noon. (This
was a well-known ploy to get out of the service in a hurry.)
The Army had a different view regarding the interest of the troops in
shady ladies. During the First World War, the Italian army ran government brothels for the soldiers. Seventeen-year-old Ernest Hemingway,
serving the Red Cross as an ambulance driver, is said to have had his
first bisexual experience in one of the officials houses.
While I served as a medical officer in Butzbach, Germany, the chaplain
and I visited all the gasthauses in town once a month to talk informally
with the troops and their girlfriends. The girls were registered with the
town council as prostitutes and were automatically sent to a camp every
two months for shots of antibiotic to help stamp out gonorrhea. (Syphilis
was rare.)
When I had sick call, every morning I inevitably had one kid with the
clap, as it was affectionately called.
I will spare you the details other than to say that I learned quickly how
to administer penicillin shots in the gluteus maximus. On the troop ship
coming home from Germany, I pulled a memorable assignmentto
check the five hundred men in the hold for venereal disease. The Army
didnt want soldiers coming home to infect their wives or girlfriends. If
any of my readers were enlisted men in the services, you know the drill.
It wasnt pretty.


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We Bought
the Farm:
The (Small) World

Glenford, Ohio


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Ninety-three Acres
T his adventure began on a dark and stormy Thursday nightat
choir practice. The day at the office had been stressful, and the choir
director, Dick Johnston, also seemed out of sorts. When practice was
over, I told him, Today was really a lousy day. I wish I had a place to
escape to.
Dick replied that he knew of a hill farm for sale near his hometown
of Glenford, Ohio. Why dont we buy it together and alternate using
it on weekends?
However, when Dicks wife heard about the possibility, she demurred. Her
dad had been the Lutheran pastor in the village, and according to her, he
was underpaid and harassed. She would never go back to Glenford.
My wife, Marian, and I decided we might as well look at the place anyway.
The next Sunday we put the kids in the car and headed out to Perry County,
30 miles east of Columbus, where we lived. George Ice Road headed north
off Route 204. About a mile up, we found the gravel lane that headed to
the house. The lane started with a steep hill and flattened out for about a
quarter of a mile, then led to a white, 100-year-old, wood-frame farmhouse.
We parked and trotted up the steps to the front door and I knocked. Mrs.
Torbert, all of 5 feet tall and about 70 years old, seemed confused when
we inquired about buying the property.
No, the place is not for sale. Who told you that? she asked.
Her voice was hesitant, as if she had never thought about such a


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possibility. She told us that her husband had recently suffered a stroke,
and she was completely responsible for maintaining the house and
grounds that included nearly an acre of grass that needed mowing nine
months of the year.

Top: The farm was 92 acres, mostly wooded except for around the house.
Bottom: We added a pond, a new room facing the water, and a sun porch onto
the hundred-year-old farmhouse.


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The 93-acre farm was L-shaped and nearly all wooded. The frame
farmhouse was nestled between two hills. The southern slope showed
remnants of an old apple orchard. The property held a 100-year-old bank
barn, a smoke house, and a weaving shed. Natural gas from the oil well
hooked into a jerry-built gas furnace that provided heat for the house.
The propertys three oil wells provided a source of income for the
Torberts, enabling them to stay on the property. They had stopped
farming years earlier after oil was discovered.
We fell in love with the place and decided to be persistent.
Every few months, we dropped in to see how the Torberts were getting
along. When it snowed and the lane was impassable, we parked the car
at the road and pulled the kids in on a sled loaded with bags of bread and
fresh vegetables. The Torberts enjoyed having the children visit, and
after a year, they said they would sell us the house, barn, 93 acres, and
revenue oil wells for $16,000.
Marian and I ran the numbers and decided that we couldnt afford two
mortgages, so we started looking for less expensive properties in the
vicinity. After two more years of looking, we came up with a plan. Marian
and I went to Mrs. Torbert with a proposal: We would buy the farm
directly from her and give her 6 percent interest; wed pay her $75 a
month, and, in time, she would realize her asking price of $16,000.
If we can finish the sale before the lilacs bloom, its a deal, she replied.
We came to this property as outsiders and the community was always
very chilly toward us, so we want to sell it to outsiders.
We moved into The Farm on April 1, 1961. We had asked our friends
to save old furniture they were discarding, and we had a garage full by


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April. I rented a U-Haul for the occasion, loaded it up, and backed the
truck down over the lawn to the houses side door. The truck immediately
sunk up to the hubcaps in the soft, spring mud. I panicked. I had rented
the truck by the hour.
The only person I knew in Glenford was Dick Johnstons dad. So I
called him.
Sit tight. Ill send help, he said.
Within an hour, a young boy of twelve or thirteen years drove a huge
tractor up the lane. He attached a heavy chain to the truck and hauled it
out of the mud with ease. That was my first experience learning about
the myriad skills that most farmers possess in this part of the country.
So began a new adventure for the whole family: bee stings, broken arms
and legs, morel hunting in the spring, blackberries and black raspberries, playhouses in the smokehouse and the barn loft, grilling inch-thick
pork chops and T-bones from the general store, country auctions, snakes
and other country critters, the always-breaking-down tractors and lawn
mowers. We also got to enjoy neighbors sugaring off maple syrup in
February, ice storms and power outages, truckloads of limestone to keep
the driveway passable, house projects like laying kitchen linoleum and
tiles and painting the exterior while standing on tall, unwieldy wooden
ladders, bird watching, learning the names of our forests trees, and visits
to Vernon Macks to watch the cow milking.
Nearly a century old, the farmhouse was built of oak with poplar siding. It
had a parlor and a living room, a dining room with a potbellied, gas-converted stove, a kitchen, three bedrooms upstairs, and a dirt basement. It
needed serious work and additions.


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We put an enclosed, heated porch on the front of the house, where we had
an antique chest where the kids toys were stored and an electric organ
and a piano. Then we added a three-quarter-acre pond with a shallow
swimming shelf.

After the pond was filled, we bought some ducks. When the pond froze, the foxes
ate them. So we bought two geese. Bad mistakethey bred eight goslings and
the flock became a total messdirty, feisty, and intrusive. We enlisted our
friend Donn Vickers to help transport them to a farmer who wanted them as
noisy watch birds.

Then came the new room on the back of the house facing the lake. It
was designed by Dick Eiselt, a Columbus architect who designed driveins. He convinced me that it would be dishonest to try to match the
old house, so a large, square box on steel piers gave the adults a place to
converse while the kids played on the front porch.
We happily lived there almost every weekend for nearly ten years until
I was called to Palo Alto, California, to work in the school system. We
rented the farm to Fred and Grace Behn while we were gone. Fred,
an engineer, seemed delighted when the machinery broke down. He
soldered the broken frozen pipes; he leveled the weaving shed when we
decided to place a picnic table inside. It worked out very well.


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Then, in 1976, my previous boss at Ross asked me to return to

Ohio to troubleshoot some international social issues. We returned
to the old farmhouse, but realized that it was not safe enough for
winter living. The farmhouse was not insulated and sometimes lost
gas pressure from the gas well. Plus, the cars had to be parked a
hundred feet away near the barn. So I designed a new house to be
built on the northern slope.

When the children left home, we decided to live full time on the farm and
commute to work in Columbus. We built a new house on the side of a hill
overlooking the pond. We lived there happily for nearly ten years.

Jazz for a Dance, an homage to Matisse by painter Keith Boyle, a professor at

Stanford University.


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The new house was to be high enough on the hill to see the pond. We
build a 40-foot by 40-foot box with two stories to accommodate a guest
suite on the lower level and our quarters on the second floor. The roof
sloped so that the living room ceilings would be sixteen feet tall, the back
wall of the living room twelve feet, and the back wall of our bedroom
eight feet. The slope of the hill made it possible to walk out the back of the
house and into the garden. We parked the four-wheel-drive car under the
front deck. In the dead of winter, we plugged the engine into a Michigan
heater so the car would start.
It was a year-round treat to live in the woods. Every change of season
renewed the novelty of this experience. We added three quarters of
an acre of professional landscaping, mostly to the rear of the house.
Twenty-foot-tall dogwoods near the pond bloomed in the spring when
wildflowers blanketed the woods. Pileated woodpeckers drummed and
laughed their wuk-wuk-wuks all year, and white-tailed deer occasionally passed by our bedroom window. A mother raccoon discovered the
cat food we kept outside on the deck, and she introduced her babies to
the cache. Our friend Gil put out bluebird boxes, and they fledged three
broods a yearas long as, every two weeks, Gil cleaned out the nests
that sparrows built to claim squatters rights in the boxes. Another
friend put out beehives, and the berry bushes thrived.
Local workmen built the place. I had no idea how to draw blueprints, so I hired the teenage son of the contractor to do that for
me. Fortunately, he was competent enough that the contractor could
proceed. We worked closely on the thousands of details: what brand
of windows to select, what kitchen and bathroom fixtures to install,
where to place the septic tank.


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A prominent architect in Columbus, Novarre Musson, told me that

designing your own house was like do-it-yourself brain surgery. Soon
enough, my design flaws became apparent. I forgot to locate a proper
front door, so guests would have had to enter the house facing a steep
flight of steps on the west side or through the basement. And we really
needed a garage for the harsh Ohio winters. I swallowed my pride and
hired an architect to correct my mistakes. Whit Tussing, a neighbor who
was an architect practicing in Newark, Ohio, redesigned the house with a
front door, a sitting room adjacent to the living room, a storage room, and
a detached three-car garage (for two cars and the riding lawn mower). I
added a koi pond and nearly three-quarters of an acre of perennials that
required constant attention in the growing season.
We moved into the new house fulltime in 1978. The farm was my retreat
from the stressful world. It was my hobby and my real life. I could tell
a thousand stories of our time there. This book hardly riffles the pages.


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Coon Hunting with

Dick Bare
dIck bare Is the mOst cOmpetent r accOOn hunter in Perry
County. Almost every night he takes to the woods after dark. In the
summer (the off-season), he runs his coon dogs, training them for the
coming fall. In November, when the season comes in, he hunts in earnest,
rarely returning home before 2:00 or 3:00 am.
Hunting raccoons with dogs is an art. You go to the woods, release the
dogs, and sit down and wait. The dogs roam in mile-wide circles and start
to bark a low, guttural bark as they seek a fresh scent. When the scent
is found, the bark rises to mid-pitch. The raccoon, sensing danger, will
flee and eventually climb a tree. The dogs find the tree, stand up against
it, and start to howl with an ungodly high scream.
Finally its the hunters move. He walks through the woods until he finds
himself at the base of the dogs tree.


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A hunter carries a huge flashlight and shines it on the treed raccoon.

Then he aims his .22 rifle, shoots, gathers the dead varmint, and takes
it back to his truck. Then the dogs are off again.
Several breeds of dogs are especially gifted at hunting raccoons. The
best known are the bluetick and the black-and-tan coonhounds. A good
dog is worth thousands. They are big-boned and very muscular.
Dick often gathered a group of friends for night hunting. For several
years, I was asked to participate the night before Thanksgiving.
They knew I was an urban man, a hunting neophyte, and they loved
playing country tricks on me. For example, in the pitch-black they would
holler, Look out for the fence! One by one they would approach the
fence, put one leg over the other, and move on. When I got there, I
would try to feel the fence, but, of course, no fence existed.
One night, after riding around dark country roads for a while, we
parked the car, let the dogs out, and sat down to wait for the sound
that they had located a raccoon. After a while, I said to Dick, Where
the hell are we?
My question was followed by loud hoots of laughter. We are on your
Another time, I joined them on a hunt, and we had to walk through a cow
pasture in the darkness. The guys kept warning me to stay away from
the bulls. (Yeah, there were no bulls.)
So picture me in a beat-up old Chevy with tattered upholstery, two people
in the front seat, one dog in the trunk, and three people plus one very
stinky black-and-tan in the backseat. Our breath fogged the windows,
and the stench was memorable.


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When we got to the first treed raccoon, I was handed the rifle and told to
try to shoot the critter out of the tree. They all figured I was also a novice
with a gun. But during my tour of duty in Germany, I taught M1 and
carbine in my Company and shot skeet on weekends. I became an expert
marksman in the Army as a MSC officer. Consequently, I hit the coon
with my carbine on the very first try, my only achievement of the night.
I mean, other than gaining instant street credser, woods credswith
my neighbors.


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Vernon Macks Lake

In truth, it was never a lake. It was a farm pond.
The original farmhouse sat on the side of a hill. A magnificent white oak
grew below in a ravine where a runoff from a spring ran hard all year.
After moving in, we began talking about whether it might be a site for a
farm pond. We called Vernon Mack, a farmer who also had a bulldozing
business, and his assessment was that the job could be done.
The first task was to fell the oak tree. Vernon set dynamite under the
tree, and we watched as it blew two feet into the air and fell back down
in one piece. Vernon bulldozed the tree over and started cutting it up.
Eventually he set a fire using old tires to burn the remains. I remember
the fire smoldering for a week before Vernon wedged the huge root
mass into a position that would be known as the filter dam opposite
what would become the main dam. The pond would contain the surface
drainage of 54 acres, and the filter dam was necessary to contain the
silt from those acres.
Then the scraping began. The dredging. The pond would be 19 feet deep
at its deepest point. The big dam took shape. It was about 150 feet across
at the top, with a one-foot corrugated overflow pipe 6 feet below the top
of the dam. All in all, the pond covered nearly an acre when filled.
A feature we wanted was a sanded swimming shelf so the kids could
wade in, play, and learn to swim. Everywhere else, Vernon seeded the
surrounding raw dirt with rye grass, and we waited for winter and the
pond to fill. By February, it was full but very muddy.


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In the spring, we began to learn about pond management. We used

copper sulfate to kill the algae, and later, chemicals to kill the grassy
undergrowth. Then we went to the Buckeye Lake fish hatchery for largemouth bass and bluegills. They were an inch long when we put them in.
How great could life get?
By the second spring, we were ready for full use of the pond, mostly for
swimming. The spring-fed pond was too cold for me to enjoy, except
in July when it finally warmed up. Our friends, the Behns, bought us
an aluminum rowboat that we christened Maid Marian. I searched the
shores and found all manner of beasts: frogs of all sizes, snapping turtles,
muskrats, and even a beaver, once.
We had a dedication ceremony and invited the neighbors.

Vernon Mack was a dairy farmer who also had a bulldozer business. He dug our
pond. On this day we had a party to celebrate its completion.

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The pond area was too large to fence in, and I was afraid of legal problems
that can come from having an attractive nuisance on the property. But,
eventually, we allowed neighborhood farmers and kids to fish, even as I
remained wary.
After three years of spending $700 each year on chemicals that bothered
all of my sensibilities, I knew this had to stop. Were the chemicals doing
any harm to the children? Was the runoff affecting the stream below? We
heard about weed-eating, sterile triploid carp from the county farm agent,
and we ordered a few little fish, placed them in the pond, and waited for
results. We saw no signs of the fish or the good they were supposed to bring
about, so Marian concluded that they must have exited through the pipe.
We found a new source of these carp at a private hatchery about 20 miles
north of Newark. This time the fish were more than a foot in length. They
started eating the weeds and grew to an enormous size. They liked to
sun themselves near the surface and looked like a fleet of submarines.

Clockwise from top left: Fred Behn, my wife Marian, me, Grace Behn, and Elsa
Behn. When Marian and I moved to California in the early 70s, the Behns
rented the farm from us until we returned. We then built a new house; the Behns
continued living in the old farmhouse on weekends.

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Best of all, the pond was almost free of weeds.

I calculated that the cost of the pond was about that of a Volkswagen
something like $700. It gave us years of pleasure, including the night we
decided to picnic by candlelight in the center of the pond on a float Fred
Behn built, a night when our friend Bob Dutton moved suddenly and our
good brass candlesticks sunk to the bottom, never to be retrieved. Or
the night we all decided to go skinny-dipping after a wine-happy dinner
party. (It was pitch blackuntil someone turned on the floodlights,
causing a mad run for towels.) And then the winters, when the surface
froze, and we could ice skate or sled.
It was only a farm pond, but what wonderful memories it holds among its
cattails, bullfrogs, and fishes.


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Louie the Black Snake

Most of my life I had been a city boy. That all changed when we
bought our Glenford farm.
I hastened to nearby Newark to buy a used tractor with a brush-hog
attachment (some farmers call them bush hogs) to clear the fields and
restore the paths. With a good bit of anxiety, I learned to drive that used
gray-and-red 1950 Ford tractor.
On my very first day of mowing, deep in concentration, I looked down at
the ground just ahead and saw a huge black snake, probably two inches
in diameter and perhaps six or seven feet long. I jammed on the brakes,
stalled the engine, and came to a halt two feet from the fearsome creature. My heart was pounding. Was the snake poisonous? Would it bite?
If I died alone in the woods, how long would it be before someone found
me? What had I gotten my family into?

The McCollough and Behn children examining the black snake they perennially
named Louie. For several years, they captured a snake to take to school
for sharing.


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I am a city boy, and this huge snake was a first. I had touched a live garter
snake once, but this enormous thing sparked terror. Thankfully, before I
had the chance to make any decisions, the snake slithered into the weeds
beside the path. I was safe.
I soon found out that black snakes are nonpoisonous, relatively harmless
beasts that are highly favored by farmers because they help keep down
the mouse and rat populations around their barns. In the spring, when
the earth begins to warm, the snakes crawl out of their winter lairs, sun
themselves, and become active.
Unlike their father, our children were unafraid, and they rushed home
from play to ask for the old gerbil cage so they could capture a black
snake for show-and-tell the next school week. They named all captured
black snakes Louie. For years on end, we had a Louie in a cage on the
side porch all summer. It seemed like harmless fun. A nearby farmer,
Vernon Mack, sometimes called and asked if we had any black snakes
he could borrow to put under his pig house.
It all seemed benign enough. Then, one day, I was in the basement of
the old farmhouse. I looked down, and a black snake was curling tightly
around my ankle. I felt the terror of my first encounter on the tractor.
With the snake wrapped around my leg, I ran toward the cellar door
where I kept shovels and other tools. I grabbed a shovel and started
beating on the snake. After what seemed to be eight hours of thrashing,
he let go, rolled into a ball, and faced me head on.
Any experienced farmer would have lifted him up with the shovel,
carried him outside, and set him in the grass. But, city boy that I was, I
chopped his head off and threw the parts into the weeds.
Sorry, animal lovers.


Once MOre With Feeling

Fish Fries
I n Its heyday, the semiannual Glenford Fish Fry attracted 2,000
peoplenot bad for a town of 200 people. For three dollars, you would
get all the Lake Erie perch you could eat, coleslaw, lemonade, and homemade pie. The townspeople made everything from scratch.
The day before the fry, a few men would drive to Lake Erie, buy the fish,
drive back, and bread the filets with a beer batter. They then deep-fried
the perch in the school kitchen as the guests arrived. Most came from
nearby farms, but plenty of city dwellers who once lived in Glenford came
back to gossip with childhood friends and former neighbors.
An important feature of the fry was the tartar sauce. Invented by one
of the local ladies, her secret recipe was not to be shared with anyone.
Everyone loved the delicious tartar sauce, and everyone wanted the
recipebut it was not available. Indeed, some people started attending
the fry just to sample the famous tartar sauce.


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At that time, we only used our farm as a weekend retreat, so we didnt

interact with the townspeople often. However, whenever we had a plumbing or heating problem, needed a babysitter, or searched for a boy to cut
the lawn, we asked in town who might help. In time, the townspeople
discovered that we had an electric organ and a piano in the front room
of the old farmhouse and that we frequently held impromptu concerts.
Grace Behn played the piano by ear amazingly well, and I liked to play
show tunes and old standards. Before long, we were asked to play at the
Fish Fry.
A music store near Buckeye Lake loaned an electric organ for the occasion, and the school had a piano somewhat closely tuned to the organ.
Grace and I went to the gymnasium in the afternoon of the supper and
practiced on the unfamiliar instruments. Later, when the doors opened,
we were in the middle of a favorite show score: West Side Story, South
Pacific, Camelot, or my favorite, Brigadoon.
People started loitering at the tables, socializing and listening to the
music rather than giving their seats to the new diners coming through
the door. So someone pulled out the bleacher seats, and they began
to fill. Like the tartar sauce, Gracie and I became one of the Fish Fry
extrasand all for three dollars.
It escapes me now how many times we performed at those dinners, but
I do remember the price of perch kept increasing. And then came the
mercury-poisoning scare in Lake Erieand finally the decision to cancel
the biannual event until a new plan could be hatched.
To this day, people talk about the famous Glenford Fish Fries and the
wonderful tartar sauce. But to this day, no one knows the recipe.
(I think it was a hint of homemade sweet pickle relish!)


My Life As a Crime Fighter

We felt safe. Our narrow lane off the main road was nearly a quartermile long. If you were to meet a car coming in while another car was
trying to get out, there was simply no room to pass. So any burglar who
wanted to leave the place would have to know the household routine and
when a car wouldnt be pulling into the long driveway.
While we were in California, the old farmhouse was burglarized, apparently by someone setting up housekeeping. The thief stole a bed, sheets,
towels, and other household items, including a framed reproduction of a
Chagall print and an old Jerome mantel clock.
Later, we had dinner at a restaurant several miles to the north. The
restaurant had a small antique shop in a separate building. We enjoyed
scanning their offerings after dinner. And that night we discovered
our stolen Jerome clock among the merchandise. We knew it was
our clock because a small piece of veneer had fallen off, and I had
amateurishly pasted it back on. The repair job definitely identified
the clock. I informed the shopkeeper, only to be told that the clock
was on consignment from someone living at Buckeye Lake, several
miles to the south. I notified the police, but they informed me that
there was nothing they could do because the shop was located in a
different jurisdiction.
Once the new house was built in 1978 and the children were off to
college, Marian and I commuted five days each week to Columbus. And
then my mother died. While we were at the funeral in Philadelphia, the


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new house was ransackedthis time by professionals. They took all

of Marians good jewelry. Through the years, Id had a number of fine
pieces custom-designed for her. Gone. Even the pearls that she wore at
our weddinggone. I had acquired some fine garnet jewelry in Germany
when I was stationed theregone. I had a silver box of watches and cufflinks in my dresser. My Rolexgonethe Timex, tossed to the floor.
Nothing was ever recovered. We settled with the insurance company for
about $8,000, but we never again bought valuable jewelry.
At the same time that we built our new house, I sold an acre of land to
a close friend who built a weekend home and a tennis court up the hill,
about three hundred yards from our house.
This was when the architect began remedying the design troubles of our
new house. Construction began with all manner of subcontractors, most
of whom were strangers and potential burglars. We were stupid enough
to provide many of them with keys to the house and instructions on how
to shut off the security system.
About six months later, we came home one night to find the front door
open. This time the burglary was of a different ilk. Sliding glass doors
were kicked in, and the house trashed. Clearly not a professional break
in. It probably was a gang of young people doing damage for the hell of
it. Not much of value was taken. Liquor was missing. Drawers had been
pulled out and dumped on the floor. Footprints were stamped on walls
and doors where they had been kicked. Even the toilet seats had been
ripped off.
I called the sheriff immediately, and one policeman arrived in about ten
minutes. We started examining the damage, and I suddenly thought of


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my friends house up the hill. I said to the sheriff, Wed better go check
Gils place, and we walked up the hill. The sliding glass door at the rear
of his house had been smashed in. Broken glass had spattered everywhere. The sheriff entered the house and then suddenly rushed out.
Oh my God, I forgot my gun, and they might still be in there, he told
me. He reached in a pocket, pulled out a can of mace, and handed it to me.
If they come out, spray them. And then he disappeared down the hill.
My world seemed suddenly empty. What if they were armed? Gil had at
least one gun I knew of, which he kept hanging in the entryway. I froze
in place. The sheriff returned with gun drawn, entered the house, and
came back to say that the intruders had left. He looked down and saw a
footprint on the ground in front of the window.
I need to make an impression of that for evidence, he said. He went
back to his squad car for a footprint kit. He carefully squeezed some
gook into the footprint, waited until it set, pulled the set gel up, and put
it in a plastic bag.
The only problem with the evidence was that the footprint was mine.
Several weeks later we received a call from the sheriff in Newark, Ohio.
They had stopped a car for a traffic violation, and in the trunk found a
roll of pennies that Marian had made. She had put our name and address
on the roll. The stolen tennis rackets from Gils house were there as well,
along with some of the missing liquor.
We never were told anything about burglarstheir ages, the outcome
of the arrest. But, I suspect that they were teenagers looking for liquor,
who found it, got drunk, and the burglary got out of hand.
Unlike the jewelry burglars who had a specific M.O., the youth who


Once MOre With Feeling

trashed our houses were probably liquored-up kids proving themselves

with a double-dare.
I could only hope thatone dayour farmhouse robbers would be
happy and raise a trailer full of kids.

Marian and I were having dinner with Patricia Santelli and David Hamilton
in their Broad Street apartment when I noticed a small maquette on their
mantelpiece. David told us he had designed itfrom nothing less than a
cat-food tin (the body, minus the lid and the bottom)and I asked him if
hed permit me to have it fabricated in metal for the farm. He agreed. About
a mile from our farm, there was a large workshop with the massive bending
and welding machines needed to forge the oil storage tanks that dotted the
surrounding landscape. When I presented the owner with Davids maquette, he
was truly baffled; sculpture was hardly in his repertoire. So he viewed the project
as an industrial commission, sans artistry. We agreed upon a span of 15 feet.
For safetys sake, he attached a derelict car motor at each end to be buried in
concrete, ensuring that the sculpture could never topple. With a coat of rustpreventing primer, a finish coat of Calder-red, and new lighting to illuminate
the piece at night, the sculpture became a sublime presence in the meadow
between the house and the farm pond.


Once More With Feeling

Just Call Me Takumi

For a brief year or so, I was responsible for finding new products for
the Ross Division of Abbott Laboratories. The assignment took me on
some wonderful trips abroad where products might be foundFrance,
Switzerland, Germany, and England. Most of my efforts were unsuccessful, because companies with successful pediatric products wanted
products to trade in return, but our fort was innovative marketing strategies based mostly on the studies of Ernest Dichter, father of motivation
research. People will favor your products (assuming they are needed)
over similar competitors if you are seen as partners, i.e., helpful allies.
One trip took me to New York to meet a representative of the largest
Japanese pharmaceutical company. His name was Takumi Hasagawa.
We met in the lobby of his hotel on a Thursday afternoon. He spoke
English well enough that our conversation was not impeded. He was softspoken with a pleasant smile. His assignment, like mine, was to discover
new products for licensing or purchase.

We often invited friends and groups to share our retreat for visits, picnics,
and parties.

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In the course of the conversation, I asked him how long he had been on
the road, and he told me six months. Once I had been away six weeks on
a business trip to Africa, and I came home a basket case. This poor fellow
had been living out of a suitcase without a home-cooked meal for half a
year, and he had a wife and little boy waiting at home.
Without thinking, I asked, What are you doing this weekend? He had
nothing planned. Fly home with me tomorrow, spend the weekend at
home with my family, and we will put you back on the plane to New York
on Monday morning.
Takumi lit up like a Christmas tree. Ive never been in an American
home, and it would thrill me to accept. Are you sure? We made the
arrangements, and he joined us for the weekend.
Our one-hundred-year-old farmhouse had four bedrooms, and weekend
guests were frequent. This weekend would be a little different, though.
On Sunday, we were expecting the Columbus YMCA Hiking Club to use
the farm as a rallying point. They would be taking a hike, swimming in
the pond, and having a picnic supper on the lawn. We were told to expect
at least 30 men and women.
On arrival in Columbus, I said to Takumi, I know it is not your custom
to call strangers by their first names, but we rarely use a persons last
name. Would it be all right if we used first names, just for the weekend?
He smiled and said, Yes, I would like to try that for the weekend.
My daughters were socially aggressive tykes, and they never hesitated
to include Takumi in conversations and play. Marian was friendly and
talkative as we introduced him to our way of life. It was midsummer, and
I recall we barbecued pork chops and had sweet corn on the cob, baked
potatoes, and some cheap wine.


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Takumi received all of this with what seemed to be pleasure and curiosity, but he was a bit shy at times.
Sunday was quite an affair. Soon after lunch, the members of the hiking
club began arrivingmen, women, young, old, some in shorts, some in
jeans, some in very tight shorts and bras. Because they were going on a
hike, they all had big, ugly hiking boots. They left at two and straggled
back at four. Most immediately changed into bathing suits and plunged
into our spring-fed pond. Then the beer and wine appeared, followed by
laughing, smoking, singing, and general hilarity. Lawn darts and soccer
balls began flying, and general horseplay ensued among people in all
manner of dress and undress. The club had responsibility for all of their
food, planning, and so on. Takumi and our family sat in our new room
addition and watched the party.
The next morning when I was driving Takumi to the airport, I asked what
his impressions of the experience were. He answered without hesitation:
1. I couldnt get over how forward your children were. Japanese children are much more reserved around adults.
2. I was startled how aggressive the women were. Marian was always
part of the conversation.
3. Every time I called you Tom, I almost choked.
We corresponded for years, and he claimed that because of the weekend
hed spent in an American home, he had become a more competent
company representative.
Years later our two pharmaceutical companies formed a joint venture.


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Roadside Ditch
in a Blizzard
Blizzards are not uncommon in central Ohio. In 1978, we had
a real blizzard: four feet of snow, wind gusts of 50 miles an hour, and
impenetrable drifts up to ten feet high.
We lived in the 100-year-old farmhouse that had no insulation. Heat came
from the natural gas provided by an oil well and electricity that snaked
in over the wooded hill that frequently went out in storms. In short, our
house was not a safe place to be in a blizzard.
The night before the storm, the weather had been warm, above freezing. We could feel the temperature dropping and the wind coming up,
and then we saw the snow turning from big, juicy clumps to dry flakes
that the wind drove sideways. Before dawn, Marian and I agreed that
wed better leave the house promptly before the lane and country roads
became impassable. The two girls were safely situated at their respective
colleges. So we put extra cat food in the basement and left.
At that time, we were driving an International Harvester 4-wheel-drive
Scout. By the time we got to our little village, we were in a whiteout. I
asked Marian to roll down her window and guide me along the berm, but,
by then, she could barely see the berm. Alarmed, I decided that we would
take County Line Road West instead of Route 204, which had many twists
and turns. We turned right at the Frizzell farm to drive north to County
Line Roadwith zero visibility.


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In half a mile, I drove off the road into a ditch, the Scout leaning perilously to the right. The car stalled. Trying again and again, I could not
restart the car. We were stuck. Soon we would have no heat, no food, and
no adequate clothing. So we agreed that we should abandon the car and
walk to the Frizzells, half a mile away. We could barely see the house in
the distance, but we started walking. When my cap blew off, I wrapped
a scarf around my head. Oh, and it should be said: We were dressed for
work. I was wearing oxfords.
We pushed ahead. A few minutes later, Marian called to me, I cant make
it. At that moment, something serious was needed. I put on my deepest,
most severe voice and screamed, Get going! She got going. And soon
we arrived at the back door of the Frizzell house.
Henry and Jetty still had electricity, and they were sitting at the kitchen
table. In light of our approach, its worth knowing that the Frizzells had
recently been robbed. A stranger had knocked at the back door, and
while they were talking, another robber had entered the front door, and
helped himself. So Jetty cautiously opened the door and stared at us.

The house where we were marooned during the blizzard. Today the house and
farm are being turned into a winery by the Frizzells great-great-grandson.


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Our car went off the road, and wont start. We live on the old Torbert
property, and the weather is too bad to try to go back.
Jetty unlocked the screen door and let us in. Henry looked appalled.
The Frizzells were probably in their late sixties and lived modestly in a
red brick farmhouse dating from the mid 19th century. The kitchen was
large. The center hall had a living room to the left, and a parlor to the
right. Behind the kitchen was a summer kitchen with a second stove for
canning and baking. Henry had a reputation as being a gruff non-talker.
Jetty was the sweet prayer lady at the Christian radio station a few miles
to the north. She would take calls on the air and pray with you or for you,
whatever was needed.
Within a few moments, she became affable, went to a drawer, and
returned with a blue knitted cap with a large pom-pom on top to replace
my cap that had blown off. I knit these for people who need them.
A few hours later, just before daybreak, the topic of food came up, and
Jetty disappeared. Dour Henry sat in his parlor chair without saying a
word. In fifteen minutes, she called us to the kitchen and had the table
spread with a complete hot meal: canned roast beef, mashed potatoes,
green beans, rolls and butter. After a passionate grace, we ate heartily.
After we finished the entre, she emerged from the summer kitchen
with a two-tiered coconut cake with thick butter-cream icing. About then
the electricity failed. The storm had worsened, and we knew we couldnt
leave, but we were safe in the arms of a fundamentalist evangelical couple.
Then the house began to cool. Henry knew the pipes and radiators
would soon freeze. For the first time, Henry spoke directly to me: I
need to shut the furnace down and drain the pipes. Come to the basement with me.


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He found flashlights and we inched down the rickety wooden cellar steps.
The huge, old coal furnace had been converted to gas. Henry asked me
to hold a valve open while he did something on the other side of the
chamber. (Frankly, I hoped he wasnt finding an axe to chop my head
off. He was not then nor was he ever friendly.)
By midday, we had settled into a routine. Every hour or two, we made a
prayer circle, held hands, and asked that the wind and snow would stop
and that we would be safe.
The Frizzells had a grown son named Joe who had a bulldozing business.
He arrived on a bright yellow bulldozer and hooked up two gas links from
a nearby well. He lit a small gas heater in the parlor. Meanwhile, Henry
erected blankets over all the interior doors to stop the drafts. Evidently,
we were not to have cocktails before meals, and the Frizzells thought
coffee was the devils soft drink. But Joe had brought some coffee so
Marian and I could have a cup at breakfast.
That first day passed slowly, the wind still howling, and the snow steadily
deepened into high drifts. We looked out the frosted windows, but saw
no traffic on the road. The phone still worked, and each hour we called
the Glenford firehouse to get a status report, along with the gossip about
who was sick and who refused to leave their homes. The National Guard
was trying to clear the roads to the west. The state highway patrol was
trying to get to us from the east and south. But we were truly marooned.
The first night, Jetty announced that we would sleep upstairs in her bed.
Henry planned to sit up all night in the parlor. I supposed that she would
sleep on a couch because no heat reached the second floor. Marian and
I slept fitfully under four or five blankets and a comforter. As soon as
the dawn broke, we got up, dressed, and went to the kitchen. Jetty was


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already up. Bless her heart, she had made coffee for us.
By the end of the second day, the storm had passed, and we began to
wonder how we could leave and where we could go. Snowplows were
now passing the house, piling ten-foot-tall drifts by the side of the road. I
agonized: How could we get the Scout out of the ditch? But the following
morning, another neighbor, Bob Palmer, knocked at the door and said
he had just pulled our car out of the ditch. Did we want to find out if it
would start?
It did, and we returned to Jetty and Henry to thank them and say goodbye.
I tried to pay them for the lodging and food, but they refused. (Clearly,
Henry was glad to be rid of us.)
Jetty said we should have one more prayer. We had prayed hourly that
the snow would stop and that the winds would subside. Her last words
to us were, See? Our prayers were answered. I didnt have the heart to
say a word about storm patterns.


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A Magnificent Obsession:
The Glenford Bank
Once upon a time, the rural village of Glenford, Ohio, was a thriving
community. It had two railroad lines running through town, a lumber
mill, a hotel for traveling salesmen, various stores, a barbershop, and a
pool hall. The populace of 200 was primarily Lutheran. (The Catholics
went down the road seven miles to Somerset to worship.)
Farmers borrowed money in the spring to buy seed and fertilizer, and
they paid back their loans after the fall harvests were sold. Somerset
had a bank. Thornville had a bank. New Lexington had a bank. The
local farmers reasoned that Glenford should have a bank, as well, and
it should be owned by the citizenry. A bank business was certified,
shareholders were solicited, and plans were made for a bank building

A bank built in 1920, later abandoned, was the most prominent building in
the small village of Glenford, OH. (On the right, opposite Swineharts General
Store.) Thinking about retirement, we bought it and took seven years and a small
fortune to restore it. It was a glorious showpiece. We lived there until we moved
to California in 2005.


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in the center of town at the corner of Broad and High streets. The cost
was $36,000 in 1920.
The architect? No one knows. Its possible the construction crew followed the will of the local power structure and built what its bosses
thought the people wanted (as with the great cathedrals in Europe). Or
it might have been architect Frank Ball from Newark, who designed the
new church in Thornville, ten miles north of Glenford.
The old wooden hotel was torn down to make room on a plot of ground
about 60 x 60 feet. Although a lack of funds once stopped construction,
eventually the building was completed. By all standards, the finished
product was a gem. The exterior was red brick and neoclassical; the
interior, pure Arts-and-Crafts designthe epitome of 1920 aesthetics.
The bank opened in 1921 and operated for eleven years before it closed
forever in 1932, during FDRs bank holiday. It sat derelict in the center
of the little farm town for the next 70 years.
(We later learned that teenage boys in the village loved to climb into
the attic where they could sneak a smoke, tell off-color jokes, talk
sex, hide from prying parents, and generally revel in this local, notso-secret hideaway.)
For twenty years, we passed the abandoned bank on our way to and from
the farm. Occasionally, we explored the building. The side door was
almost always unlocked. Its main features included a soaring, 30-foot
rotunda, huge pocket doors between the rooms, 10 feet x 20 feet ceiling-to-floor arched Palladian windows, two working fireplaces, and a
large community room on the lower level. (The banks style reflected
architect Louis Sullivans philosophy that banks should be community
centers, more like a home than like a Greek temple.)


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The first time the vacant bank was put up for sale on the market, the
asking price was $2,000. The next time: $4,000. Finally: $25,000.
By then, my wife and I had built a new, comfortable house on the farm.
One cold November night as we drove past the bank, I asked Marian, If
anything happened to me, would you want to live alone in the country?
She said no. I responded that I, too, would not like to live alone out there
if anything happened to her.
The next day, I called real-estate agent Marjorie Ream and asked for
an official tour of the building. At that point, the bank was owned by a
wildcat oil drilling company that had purchased the bank as an office
building, and then abandoned the plan. The structure had electricity but
no running water or bathrooms, a failed gas hot-water heating system
that replaced the original coal furnace, and a leaky roof. But we were
blinded by the beauty of the architecture and offered $19,000 for the
building as is.
A week later, we owned the Peoples Bank of Glenford.
So began a seven-year pilgrimage to bring this derelict old structure
back to life after 70 years of decay and abuse.
The first weekend, I prepared a bucket of hot, soapy water at the farm and
took it to the building to wash the rotunda floor. The little, white, hexagonal tiles so popular in bars and barber shops at the time was blackened
with grime. This was February. I had a scrub brush, some Comet, and
a supply of rags.
I slopped soapy water on the floor, and before I could wipe it up, it had
frozen solid. Within ten minutes, I abandoned my first chore.
The next weekend I took a radio, paint thinner, more rags, and a small


Once More With Feeling

electric heater. I figured Id start wiping down the white oak woodwork in
the rotunda. I doused the rags and selected a spot to start. I rubbed and
rubbed and rubbed. Absolutely nothing happened. The wood stayed as
stained with gray dirt as when I started. It was about then, that I realized
I was in deep trouble. If the project were ever to be finished, I would never
ever be able to do all the work myself.
It costs a great deal more to restore a building than to build a new one. I
made a realistic assessment of the cost of doing it right. The figure was
somewhere between $250,000 and $400,000. Both Marian and I were
salaried and did not have much of a bank account. I had been granted
stock options by my company every year, and they had matured. Yet
every stock option I cashed required one-third to buy the stock and onethird to pay the taxes, leaving only one-third for the bank project. But
we took the plunge.
A neighbor stopped by one day and asked if I knew that a young architect lived a few miles down the road. He had graduated from Miami
University, had studied the beautiful old homes in Lancaster, Ohio, and
was working for an architectural firm in Newark. The neighbor later
brought Whit Tussing by the place, and I realized that, in him, I had
found the design help I needed. He agreed to moonlight.
Jim Sturgeon worked for a local contractor as a carpenter. I hired him at
ten dollars an hour to take out the old putty and re-glaze every window
in the building. There were hundreds.
The rotunda ceiling was thirty feet from floor, and we needed to work up
there. I bought some used scaffolding and assembled the sections. The
first time I climbed to the top I thought I would faintthe tower wiggled
and swayed with my every movement.


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Whit and I decided that while we planned the interior configuration, we

would concentrate on finishing the exterior first so the community could
visualize what might become of this derelict treasure.
We needed to tuck-point some brick on the exterior, so I took a sample of the
original exterior grout to the Ohio State Historical Society; they analyzed
grout free of charge. We learned that the sand in the grout was creek-bed
sand, undoubtedly taken from the creek running through Glenford.
Slowly at first, people stopped by and told stories about the bank when
it was operational. The bank had a rich history. I hired Kathy Mast
Kane, a building historian living in Columbus, to write the history of the
structure. She searched county records and newspapers of the era and
interviewed every person we could identify who had been connected to
the bank in any way. She even tracked down the white oak tree used for
the bank construction. The cost for her work was about $700.
When she finished the history, we ascertained that the bank merited the
distinction of being on the National Register of Historic Places. Kathy
completed the application and made the presentation before its board.
The building was accepted. Cost: another $700.
We tackled the lack of running water. When the bank was constructed,
a well had been dug in the basement. The problem was that the well was
bone-dry in the summer. Later, someone had drilled a pipe into the water
table below the basement floor, but we could barely suck a cup of water
from that source. We realized we had to drill a well outside the building.
Regulations required that wells be a minimum of ten feet from the building, but our lot was not big enough to accommodate that. In the far corner
of our lot, we could get as far as nine feet away, but to get there with
trucks and the big drilling rig, we would have to cross a neighbors lawn.


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I called Mrs. Shrider and asked if we could arrange for an easement.

She said yes, but wanted to consult her son, Skeeterwho said no. We
hired a lawyer to write a document to guarantee the repair of any damage
we might do to her property. After signing the agreement, the drilling
proceeded, and we found water at 120 feet.
Then we located Don Fulkerson, from Zanesville, who restored church
sanctuaries. We hired him and his crew to restore the rotunda. Then the
rest of the rotunda work was completed$64,000 later.
Next came a sewer system. Whit and I had resolved that we would have
two bathrooms: one in the bank vault and one in the lower level. The
village had no sewer system, so the project required a commercial-grade
tank with aerators. It arrived, and we sunk it under the front sidewalk.
Just as we completed setting it, the mayor came along and asked if we
had applied for a permit for the system. Well, we had not. But the beauty
of a small town is that everybody knows everybody, and the plumbing
contractor happened to be a member of our Lions Club, as was the mayor.
The matter was quietly dropped.

This rendering of the bank and loft is by Jonathan Kaufman, the British artist
who visited every four years during presidential elections. He now lives in
Shrewsbury, U.K.

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Because the basement bathroom was below grade, we needed to have

what is known as a riser, a pump that carries toilet water up to the street
level. That system came from Germany and included earsplitting alarms
if the pump failed.
In the late winter of the second year of restoration, we had a sudden thaw
and torrential rain. I came into the bank alone one day and looked down
the basement steps to find three inches of standing water on the lower
level. I was overcome with panic. We were so far into the project that I
knew we couldnt turn back. I started calling everyone I knew who might
deal with this new problem. Fulkerson had big pumps to pump out the
water. Tri-County Plumbing determined that a downspout had clogged,
and all the water from a clogged downspout on the roof had been directed
to the basement floor. Whit said he would design a commercial-grade
sump pump system so this would never happen again.
When we got to it, we dug a series of deep trenches in the basement
floor that we filled with gravel. These channels emptied into the old
well into which two pump systems were installed: one large sump pump
operated by electricity, and two battery-operated sump pumps for when
electricity failed.
The side-door hallway also presented several problems. The plaster was
badly cracked in places and water-damaged in others. The steps leading
down started at the open door, so someone entering the building could
easily misstep and fall down the stairs; in addition, the steps leading up
were abnormally steep. So we ordered the steps and landing torn out.
And we redesigned them so that the down steps had more foot room at
the top, and the stairs going up had more normal risers. After calling
around, we located an elderly man who still did old-fashioned plastering.


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He said he could do walls but no longer had the strength to plaster overhead. We tore out all of the old plaster down to the lathe, and he went to
work: two rough coats and a finish coat.
Jim Sturgeon by now was working full-time at the bank, often repairing missing molding or woodwork that had been damaged through the
years. We opted to have the moldings replicatedabout twelve different
kinds at $75 a knife to cut new molding from white oak.
Every contractor knows that if you have a leaky roof, it should be fixed
before any other interior work is done. Not doing so invites further
damage. We finally got to the roof. When the bank was built in 1920, it
ran out of money. Instead of a more expensive pitched roof, the owners
threw a flat roof on the backside of the building. And that part of the roof
failed. Whit envisioned how the roof was supposed to be pitched, and we
hired Bob and Darryl Gutridge, local contractors, to build the new roof.
The old roof was a green slate from Vermont. We located the quarry
where the original slate came from, but we reasoned that a comparablecolored synthetic slate would not only be more immediately available but
also more durable in the long run.
As soon as the new roof was finished, we had the oak floors sanded and
refinished. That operation went very quickly, and within a week, the
whole main floor shone with that wonderful, golden patina of aged oak.
We could almost see the end of the project.
Meanwhile, Whit designed all of the new cabinetry for the building,
most of which was custom-made in Lancaster, Ohio, by Rod Buchanan.
Whit also discovered that something peculiar occurred in the middle of
the rotunda floor. It bulged slightly. We started digging into the ceiling
below, and found that, at one time, a four-foot octagonal hole in the floor


Once More With Feeling

brought natural light into the basement level. We had the floor reopened
and a two-inch-thick layer of glass made to cover the hole, over which we
placed a glass-topped table.
For several years Marian, Whit, and I studied the Arts-and-Crafts movement: the architecture, the pottery, the fabrics, the furniture, the art, and
even the jewelry. Twice we went to the annual meeting (held in Asheville,
North Carolina) of scholars, antique dealers, and patrons of this period
(from 1905 to 1925).
We asked a local Ohio antique dealer in Glenford to look out for authentic
1920s furniture. We were late getting into the craze. Still, he did find a
few pieces for us. Furniture that was once discarded was now commanding thousands of dollars. I would low-bid every piece of Gustav Stickley
furniture I saw up for bid at national auctions. We won a few, although a
few pieces had been refinisheda no-no in the school of authenticity. For
example, I saw a picture of a gorgeous L. and J. G. Stickley sofa called
a prairie settle. I located a high-end dealer in New York and inquired
about the piece. Oh, you are in luck. I know where two of them are, and
I believe they are for sale.
Wonderful. Do you know about how much they are asking?
I think in the range of sixty-five thousand. Out of the question!
On a trip to New York, I stopped by that gallery to look at the Arts-andCrafts inventory. I spotted a chair I recognized immediately. It was a
well-known design by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Is that what I think it is? I asked the owner.
Yes, it is a Frank Lloyd Wright.
How much are you asking?


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Seventy-five thousand per chair. We have the entire suite of six chairs,
and they must be sold together, but you get the original fabric that was
on the upholstered seats.
Hmm, six times $75,000champagne taste and a beer pocketbook.
In time, we did amass a household of Arts-and-Crafts stuff.
Throughout the seven-year construction period, Whit Tussing and I
became almost like father and son. We never argued, but we did have
differences of opinion. For example, I told him that I hated to fumble
with a door key when it was pitch black. I asked if he would please
choose a light fixture to be mounted on the outside wall near the side
door. Two days later, he came back and said he would not recommend
such a light. He felt we should not gentrify the exterior in any way.
My reply: Then we have to put up streetlights. We discovered that
the streetlight poles at West Point were hexagonal, and we bought
five cast-iron streetlights. The luminaires we chose were those 1920s
lamps that were on every Main Street in America. To make life easier,
we had those streetlights wired with electric eyes so they would go on
automatically at dusk.
But we were not done. The bank had no garage, no garden, and only
two bedrooms, making it difficult to have the whole family together at
any one time. The next-door neighbor, Ralph Smith, had died, and his
son Jim maintained that property as well as his own. He inherited the
little house next to the bank where his father had lived, a barn stuffed
full with the accumulated junk of a lifetime, and another lot beyond. Jim
was of retirement age and was getting tired of mowing his deceased
fathers grass every week, so he offered me the entire village block,
including the small cottage and the barn, for $32,000.


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The property was a perfect solution. We hired an Amish family to raze

the dilapidated cottage and then commissioned a landscape architect to
design a garden in its place.
Whit and I figured how we could rip out the interior of the barn to construct a two-car garage, a guest/party house with a kitchenette, a full
bath, and an office space for me to hide in during the day. That took
another two years.
Marian and I sold our farm and moved into our wonderful bank. We lived
there for ten happy years before moving to Saratoga, CA. But we were
not very wise with our money. Including the new guesthouse, we had
invested something close to $750,000 in the bank, barn, and gardens.
Thats not much money in Saratoga, but its a fortune in rural Ohio.
When we decided to move to Saratoga, we put the bank on the market
for $725,000. I saw that as a price reduction. We slowly reduced the price
but never had an offer of any kind. Ever.

The bank design features a classic style on the exterior, but the interior is
entirely inspired by the Arts-and-Crafts Movement, popular in 1920 when the
bank was built.

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We moved to California with the bank unsold. A year later: still no offers.
And so we put the property up for auction, and it sold for $183,000.
What did I learn from this? Nothing. Would I start it all over again
tomorrow if I could? Yes. Happiness was lavishing care on a beautiful old building, a singular structure that was out of context in an old
farm village, a place filled with ghosts of the interesting folks who
built it and worked there.
The joy is in the doing.


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Guilty and

Once MOre With Feeling

Gardens Past and Present

my maternal grandparents lived in a two-story, red-brick home
on Lancaster Pike at the south city line of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The
house had a narrow, long, backyard acre that sloped sharply downhill.
Granddad was an enthusiastic gardener. He terraced the property in
order to grow flowers and vegetables. Halfway down the south edge,
he built a tool shed. As small children, we spent hours wandering the
garden, admiring the plants, and exploring the musty tool shed.

My childhood home at 6433 Lebanon Avenue in Philadelphia had no
garden, only a small dirt plot about two feet by four, adjacent to the steps
leading to the front door. Every spring, a very old man named Amos
arrived and planted a bed of pansies for Mother. Otherwise, Mother and
Dad had no interest in flowers or gardening.


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When we moved to 7 Wiltshire Road in 1939, the new house was already
tastefully landscaped. A row of red azaleas flanked a small wall in the
front yard. Several free-form beds contained ornamental shrubs, irises,
and large, rounded boulders for interest.
My father loved roses. He bought a dozen and planted them against a
six-foot wall at the back of the house in the shade. Even though they
never grew very well, we nurtured their spindly growth. Dad was not
a gardener.

Fast-forward to the 1960s and the first house my wife and I bought in
Columbus, Ohio. It had a small front yard and an ample backyard. I
planted a row of Lombardy poplars along the back fence, not understanding that they dont live very long. The poplars grew to twenty feet or so
and promptly started dying. A small bed at the front of the house contained zinnias or another common annuals we grew from seeds.

In 1961, we acquired the 93-acre farm, and my life as a gardener
emerged. The old farmhouse needed foundation plantings to supplement
the old lilacs, forsythias, and flowering quince in the lawn. I bought holly,
fir, and ivyand planted them too close to the house. In too few years, I
was radically pruning everything.

In 1978, we built a modern home on the side of a north-facing hill. The
garden surrounding the house was planned to have nearly three-quarters of an acre of perennials, flowers, and shrubs, all shaded by the woods


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to the south. We hired Steve, who taught landscape architecture at The

Ohio State University and talked a good game. He thought we have
unlimited funds. He built a three-dimensional topographical depiction
of the entire farm before conceptualizing the garden. I soon learned
that he may have known design, but he knew nothing about plant stock.
I asked for plantings of old-fashioned forest bluebells. The bulbs he
planted came up in spring: They were Spanish Scilla. We had lovely
varieties of hostas and ferns mixed with flowers like coneflowers that
bloomed most of the summer.
(Tip: Dont ever plant a garden that large unless you have a professional gardener to care for it. Flowers must be deadheaded constantly,
weeds invade whatever you plant, and in a year or so vigorous thinning
becomes a necessity. I looked forward to frost and a fallow garden for
the winter months.)
Landscaper Steve disappeared when he received a commission for a
major floral show in downtown Columbus. I did not miss him. At fifty
dollars an hour, I couldnt really afford him.

In the Eighties, we bought the 1920s bank in the center of Glenford. The
sidewalks were cracked beyond repair, and there were no curbs nor any
beds for planting flowers. I hired another landscape architect who promised me he was experienced enough to construct a sidewalk of pavers,
to build curbs, and to plan a bed of day lilies where the septic tank was
embedded. It was a disaster. He misjudged the slope of the lot, and the
curb he planned was too tall at one end. The concrete he ordered was
too wet; the curbs started to disintegrate the day they were laid. Every


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finish date he gave me was delayed. I was a demanding client. He disliked

me. I fired him.

A few years later, we bought three lots adjacent to the old bank. We
could finally plan a nice garden, as well as a lawn and shrubs beyond the
guesthouse down the street. I selected yet another landscape architect.
We liked his modest and tasteful design portfolio.

Several years later, I had an idea to protect the setting of the bank. What
Glenford needed was a small park in the center of town. My most recent
landscape architect responded promptly, but with an elaborate plan
that looked like Disneylandwalkways everywhere, high-maintenance
flower beds, and other inappropriate features. We had a heart-to-heart
conversation about his budgetit was three times higher than I had
specified. We drastically simplified things. And the result was about
right for the rural setting, including flowering cherry trees to delight us
every spring.

The great gardens of Europe required an army of workers. I was a gardener of one, with the occasional hired hand.


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Money, Money, Money

In the 1930s, Granddad went to the bank a few days before Christmas
to obtain new one-dollar bills to give to his grandchildren. His annual gift
made us feel rich. We could buy a lot of things with one dollar: a penny
could buy two spearmint leaves, two Mary Janes, or a licorice stick. A
nickel would buy a Baby Ruth candy bar.
Money was an important part of our education, and we were encouraged
to save it. Small banks graced our bedrooms, some with keys and some
with slots. (When you needed money, you inserted a knife into the slot,
shook vigorously, and hoped a nickel or dime would slip out. I never
considered this action immoral! It was my money.)

Elementary school teachers opened saving accounts for you at a real
bank. Parents provided ten cents a week, submitted by the school. You
checked your growing balance each week in your personal bankbook.
Savings encouraged thrift and represented the future, some expenditure to come. Unfortunately, the saved money always disappeared
somehow, somewhere.


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As a teenager, I received my first employment check from the veterinary
clinic where I cleaned cages. The check for $15 had my name typed on it,
confirming my existence and my labor. For the first time, I had enough
money to buy a game or go to a movie that I could pay for. Inflation was
not a concern.

When we married in 1955, our first house cost $17,000. The hospital bill
when our girls were born was $200 eacha bargain. My first job as an
adult paid $175 a month. Inflation was two or three percent a year, but
it compounded each year, raising prices. Todays prices leave me dumbfounded. I believe that a twenty-dollar bill should buy Nevada.

I worked a total of 43 years for a division of Abbott Laboratories. We lived
from paycheck to paycheck. Marian worked as a teacher, except when
our girls were very little. That second income enabled us to have some
luxuries in life, to own a timeshare condominium in Florida, to have two
cars, etc. The company rewarded me with yearly stock options. That
stock has become the core my estate.
In 1971, we bought a very large house in Palo Alto, California, for
$65,000. We sold it three years later for $127,000. That house eventually came on the market for $3,400,000. I am amazed at what inflation
has done to prices. A nickel candy bar now costs 80 cents or more. A
cup of fancy coffee at Starbucks costs six dollars. A 2,000-square-foothouse in Saratoga, California, costs a million dollars or more. Inflation


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has left me in disbelief. My inner child of the past still believes that five
dollars is a lot of money. The word trillion is beyond my comprehension.


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Interlude: A Suite in
Time, Spring
Spring meant Easter : new clothes, Easter baskets with jelly beans
and yellow marshmallow Peeps, trips to see grandparents in Lancaster,
and the old man Amos stopping by to plant pansies by the front walk.

Winter lingers in Ohio. Then, one morning, the floor of the woods is
spread with spring beauty wildflowers. They look white, but upon closer
inspection are a delicate pink.
Our long gravel lane traversed the woods before reaching the road. The
land fell off sharply toward the stream. Thats where the yellow dogtoothed violets bloomed on the steep hill, alternating in patches with
the Dutchmans breeches. At the northern edge of the farm, in deeper,
older woods, the trillium bloomed, brilliant white with a rare variety here
and there. Nearby I searched for purple wild ginger, their small bulbous
blooms tucked under last falls leaves. What else did I find? Bloodroot,
Jack-in-the-Pulpit, cinquefoil, rue anemonehappiness in the woods.

In California, the first signs of spring include the spectacular acacia
trees blooming brilliant yellow, spewing pollen. The peach orchard is
a white wonderland.


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Every spring, wildflowers bloomed profusely. Above: Dutchmans Breeches.

Below: Dog Tooth Violet (also known as Trout Lily)


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Interlude: A Suite
in Time, Summer
Muggy, humid P hiladelphia childhood summers. I was raised long
before air-conditioning was common, but my family did own one little
ten-inch electric fan. At bedtime, each child was put to bed, one after the
other, with the fan. Later Dad bought a rotating fan, and that was considered a modern marvel. On very hot nights, Dad took us downtown to
the air-conditioned movie theatera double treat: coolness and a movie.
When you exited the theater, the heat and humidity blasted you again.
Summer heat brought fireflies. After dark, Mother prepared a mayonnaise jar with holes in the lid and sent us out into the alley. After
capturing a dozen or so lightning bugs, we went to bed with the jar
glowing intermittently. But in the middle of the night, we watched pulsating fireflies climbing the bedroom walls. I never understood how they
escaped those tiny holes in the lid.

Summer at the farm meant work. The fields needed mowing every few
weeks. The garden needed weeding and deadheading flowers when they
faded. Work was best completed in the cool of the morning.
Summer meant weekend visits with friends. T-bone steaks or inch-thick
pork chops on the grill with sweet corn on the cob. Or a huge pot of beef
stew with potatoes, carrots, and onions, baked for hours in the oven.
Grace Behn made the best potato salad when we had hamburgers from


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the beef Luke Swinehart ground for us that morning at the general store.
Summer thunderstorms with torrential rain, lightning, and roaring
winds came and went within an hour. Sun on both sides of the downpour.

I mowed about five acres of grass with a used, 1950 Ford tractor with an
attached brush hog. Oddly, those noisy hours of mowing were a quiet respite
from our busy lives.


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Beagles and Bo
L ast week a beagle was declared the finest dog in America at the
Westminster Dog Show in New York. (Editors note: Tom is referring
to 2008, but the beagle won again in 2015.) The selection was surprising, because beagles are not usually considered the cream of the crop,
a status typically reserved for poodles, setters, spaniels, and terriers.
Beagles are charming, a bit flaky, and very lovable. They are natural
hunters, and when they chase a rabbit, their bark sounds like a bugle.
They are childlike. They are hard to toilet train. We owned two of them.
We had an animal research program where I worked. Dr. Jack Filer
studied the safety of the food additive carrageenan, a milk thickener
derived from seaweed used in liquid Similac, a milk product for infants.
His test animals were cute little beagle puppies. After months of feeding
them the substance, the experiment ended, and the beagles, unharmed,
needed to find homes.
We were granted permission to keep one. From the time it was a tiny
puppy, this dog had never been out of a four-feet-wide cage. NEVER. On
our way home with the pup, we stopped by the main library in downtown
Columbus. Marian, who was cuddling the six-month-old beagle, set
him down in the driveway and coaxed him onto the grass. The as-yetunnamed dog looked at the curb and froze. He had never stepped up
onto anything like curbs or stairs, and he was utterly confused. Marian
lifted him onto the grass, but for naught. He was not toilet trained. Not
then. (And not ever.) Because he had been a lab animal, we decided to
call him Pavlov.

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This was roughly 1958. While details have dimmed, I do remember that
both my infant daughter and the new beagle needed diapers. Pavlov was
lovable, nave, and innocent of intentional dog devilment. His long, floppy
ears and wistful eyes compensated for a lot of special care. We endured.
Hot Shot was a different case. One weekend in the 1970s, as we drove
up our long lane to the weekend farmhouse, I looked into the rearview
mirror and saw a bedraggled beagle, dragging a muskrat trap on his
paw. We stopped, picked him up, and began a new family saga. Fully
grown and emaciated, the dog had been caught in the trap by the creek
for many days.
As soon as we arrived at the house, he ate and drank ravenously. The
trap was hanging onto a raw bone. Marian simply cut off the trap and his
toe with a scissors. He didnt seem to mind. Soon after arrival, he peed
on the new gold-colored carpet by the dining room table, a spot I never
could remove using every cleaner ever invented. And his house-training
barely improved in the nearly 10 years he was a member of our family.
Our children believed Hot Shot was stupid. He was simply slow-witted
and cautious. He was all beagle: charming, friendly, livelyand smelly.
Charles Shultz, the cartoonist of the Peanuts strip, loved beagles,
as well. His Snoopy had a joie de vivre that was doomed to misunderstand how bad things could become. Just so was Hot Shot, who loved
to chase skunks with the inevitable catastrophic results. All that mattered to him was a bowl of dog food delivered by a loving hand and a
romp in the woods.
Five years after Hot Shot joined the family, a friend gave us an AKCregistered yellow Labrador that had eaten a couch and ruined a yard.


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Bo and Hot Shot became a team: Mutt and Jeff. Hot Shot was the leader
in crime, Bo the accomplice. My lasting impression was of the two of
them standing by dense blackberry brambles, Hot Shot plunging in to
chase a rabbit, and Bo standing at the edge with a dopey look: Um, Im
not going in there. Too many briars.
Being a beagle lover may cause others to question my sanity, and they
are right. But who said I was sane?


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Interlude: A Suite in
Time, Autumn
S aturday af ternoon meant football . As a teenager at Lower
Merion High School, I was the football manager, taping ankles, changing
cleats when it rained, and moping in a corner if we lost a game. As adults
we went to watch Ohio State play, where Coach Woody Hayess teams
demonstrated power football with a cloud of dust. But the OSU band
was the best part of the afternoon. If you went early enough, the band
played a concert in the fieldhouse before going to the stadium.

Different varieties of maple trees on the farm turned yellow, red, or
mottled gold. Oaks turned brown. A few weeks later, a high wind came
up, and a beautiful, colorful shower of leaves blew through the woods.
In California, summer became fall quietly, imperceptibly. Deciduous
tree leaves turned red, yellow, or brown and fell when the wind blew.
Pansies were bedded for the winter, an occasional confused rose or
azalea bloomed, and the temperature fell to the mid-fifties.


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Exercise: I Hate it
E xercise is one thing I a m sur e a bout. I hate it. It is nothing
more than another form of cultural puritanism: if I exercise, sweat
profusely, and pant liberally, I will live forever! Everyone I know
who exercised vigorously in his or her youth has hips and knees
that are destroyed, and elbows and wrists that ache interminably.
Does exercise keep you from getting cancer? No. Having atrial
fibrillation? No. Prevent Parkinsons disease? No. Ill bet on genes
every time.
If you want to exercise properly, walk a little each daybut not too much.
I rode my bike as a youth, walked dozens of miles in the Army, windowshopped by the hour when on business trips. And here I am, in my
eighties, with an arthritic back and a bent spine.
And I did try. In the early 1970s, I started learning tai chi when we lived
in Palo Alto. One of the elementary school staffs practiced yoga once a
week as a type of team building. I joined the class. We had a wonderful
instructor who was patient and supportive.
Before I had learned the complete form of tai chi, we moved back to
There, I sought out a yoga instructor at an ashram near OSU. He was
a dopey twenty-year-old with a big, white turban and absolutely no
instinct for the discipline. One evening after working us very hard, he
said, Work hard. This will help you when you get old, forty years old.
I was forty, and I never returned to his class.


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However, I was still interested enough to find a good tai chi instructor,
Dr. Wu, who was a professor of engineering at the Ohio State University.
He had been raised in China and had a large following of martial-arts
students in Ohio.
Our lessons were from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm every Tuesday night. Wu
taught the lengthy sixty-four-step form.
Even with lots of nightly practice, it took me three years to master the
movements. For twenty years I played the form every night of my
life, usually taking about twenty-five minutes of intense concentration.
While not necessary, I acquired a collection of medieval chants, authentic Chinese music, and the lush choral music of John Rutter. I entered our
darkened living room, turned on some quiet, relaxing music, and practiced tai chi. Ive done tai chi in the hallways of the Plaza Hotel in New
York, in the swimming-pool room of a hotel in Birmingham, England,
and on the docks of Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, where somebody sent the
police to see what I was doing.
I practiced tai chi faithfully until I had a stroke and my left side was
paralyzed. Dr Wu insisted that we do both the right and the left forms to
achieve perfect body balance. Therefore, I had to stop tai chi because my
body was completely out of balance.
For a while, my internist pooh-poohed my tai chi because it wasnt
aerobic. Later she saw the light and asked me during every visit if I was
keeping it up.
Six-pack abs I will never have. My biceps are a bit wee. But what the hell?
Im alive.


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The Good Life

I learned very early in life that if I were a Catholic, I would have
to eat fish on Fridays. As a born Presbyterian, I never was required to
eat fish on any day of the week. Furthermore, a cute little eight-year-old
Catholic girl lived up the alley, but neither her parents nor mine were
interested in a long-term relationship between this sweetie and myself.
Then I took up with a classmate who lived a few blocks away. He was
Jewish, and his family didnt celebrate Christmas. (He said he received
a week of gifts.) Occasionally I stayed at his house for lunch, and he
introduced me to matzo crackers. I couldnt understand why he didnt eat
saltines like the rest of us. Underlying my 80 years of church life, these
and other incongruities never made sense.
Sunday school was a given as a lad. What I remember most, however, was
the ritual every Sunday morning of opening a little square box to get a
dated envelope, into which a dime was inserted on the left side, which
read: To Support the Local Church. The right side of the envelope was
for a donation To Support our Mission Overseas. Apparently we didnt
support an overseas mission, because we never put any money in the
right side. Or so it seemed.
At age 11 or 12, I was enrolled in the catechism class, where I learned
to repeat rules like Thou shall have no other gods before Me. I guess
I passed the final exam, because, at a service in the big sanctuary, I was
handed my own King James Bible after I made a promise to be a faithful
church member.


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Moving ahead: Over the next 50 years, I became a deacon; an elder; the
clerk of session; a member of the young-adult group, the Keys (from
which I extracted a lovely young woman to whom I have been married for
fi fty-three years); a Sunday-school teacher of junior-high kids; a Sundayschool teacher of adults; a choir member; president of the choir; head
of the annual fund drive once; and chair of both the Religion and Race
Committee of Broad Street Presbyterian Church and the Presbytery
Committee on Religion and Race. And plenty more. I read Tolstoys The
Kingdom of God Is Within and Schweitzers The Quest for the Historical
Jesus. As each theologian became a cultural fad, I was thereTillich,
Harvey Cox, Barth, Bonhoeffer, and so on.
I was also a chaplains assistant in the Army, because I played the
organ. I was quickly recruited to play the organ for prayer services
during the week and for both the Protestant and the Catholic services
on Sunday.

In my 80 years of devotion to the Church and attention to my spiritual

needs, I have had only one authentic religious experience. I was stationed


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at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, being trained as a Medical Service Corps

officer. Like most mid-twenty-year-olds, I spent many hours thinking
about what I wanted to be when I grew up. Back to business? Back to
graduate school? If so, in what discipline?
In that frame of mind I went to chapel one Sunday morning. The sermon
was based on Romans 12:2:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the
renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God
is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
After that morning, I never had any doubts whatsoever that I was in
Gods will. Consequences proceeded from that revelation. I was freed
from denominationalism, for example. Its the seeking that counts. Its
the waiting that counts.
Zen Buddhism taught me to look to the unity, the oneness of all things.
I learned that we must be inner-directed, taking responsibility for our
actions and ourselves and then making room for others and their needs.
It all fits together, doesnt it?


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Interlude: A Suite in
Time, Winter
A s a child in P hiladelphia , milk was delivered at dawn to the front
door. The cream froze, and the cap on the bottle was nearly an inch above
the lip. Mother scooped off the frozen cream and let the milk thaw so she
could make cocoa and toast for breakfast.
What a joyous event whenever the first snow fell each year in Philadelphia.
It meant that Christmas was coming, that we could make snowballs and,
if it snowed hard enough, construct a snow fort or a snowman. We wore
high galoshes with metal buckles, gloves sewn with a long cord passed
through our coats sleeves so one glove couldnt be lost, and woolen caps
with ridiculous pompoms on top. Flexible Flyer sleds came out of the
basement, and we trudged to the hilly golf course nearby for an afternoon of up-and-down-the-hills, specializing in belly flops.

In a science class I taught at Cubberley High School in Palo Alto,
California, the pupils noticed a rare snowfall. They raced to the windows
to watch. Some of them had never seen snow before.

In Sanibel, Florida, in January, its sometimes 70 degrees, often accompanied by rain and blustery winds. In Ohio, we once had a dangerous,
frightening ice storm on April 10. The electricity failed and we were
marooned for two days.

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Midwinter in Saratoga, California, the temperature is 50 degrees, the sky
is blue, flowers are bloomingbut it feels chilly, and my mind wanders
to winters in my other homes.


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Speaking in Tongues
When I was eight years old, I had two skills that I was very proud of. I
could bend my thumb back to touch my wrist, and I could rub my tummy
and pat my head at the same time.
Throughout my K12 education, I hoped I would be able to become fluent
in a second language. Teachers discussed which languages might be
most important in the future: French, the language of the Russian court
and international ambassadors; Spanish, the language of our neighbors
to the south; Chinese, the official language of the largest nation on
Earth; and so on. Nobody proposed learning German or Japanese, our
dreaded enemies of the Second World War.
In eighth grade, my foreign-languages training began. I had half a year
of French and half a year of Spanish. The year before, I had had a year of
Latin. No one ever suggested that it was worth learning to speak Latin.
None of us ever expected to be Pope, and I thought he was the only
person in the world who spoke Latin. (Priests dont count, because they
learn the Latin mass by rote, and the trend was to say the mass in the
vernacular of the country where the mass was performed.)
Attempts to Become Fluent in Spanish. Apparently my brain is not
wired to acquire language skills. Instead of blaming my brain, I prefer
to blame my hearing. In high school, I signed up for Spanish and took
two years of it. The classes were taught by teachers whose first language
was Spanish. My recollections of those two years include the boredom


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of daily attempts to master a list of vocabulary words. Spanish class

was right after lunch. I rushed through a sandwich and tried to master
that days 15 new words. We began each day with a quiz, and I usually
mustered a B or C. The highlight of the year was when we took a school
bus downtown to see a movie in Spanish. Think of thata whole movie
without a word of English.
When I enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, I signed up for Spanish
again. The professor was Spanish, but the course was primarily about
reading and translating the written word. The highlight of the year was
when I translated a short story into English and received a good grade.
The final exam was another short story to be translated. I passed, but I
remember nothing except the face of the professor.
Many years later, my work assignment required international travel.
I received permission to hire a language teacher from Ohio State
University to come to the office once a week and conduct a Spanish class
for those on my staff who wanted to participate with me. Those classes
lasted a year or so. All I remember about that attempt was the fatigue of
trying to learn more vocabulary lists.
Today I turn on Spanish-speaking TV once a month. The people speak
much too fast. The words run together. I make out an occasional word,
but they mostly blur together.
German and French. When I was sent to Germany to run a small
medical clinic during the Korean War, the place where I was billeted
was also the home of the University of Maryland Extension Program
for soldiers and their families. I signed up for German, and in two years
learned to ask where the train station or the mens room was. I could


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order a wiener schnitzel with ease, but not much more.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, I traveled several times a year to Geneva
to the World Health Organization. Geneva is in the French-speaking
section of Switzerland. Translated into French, WHO is Organisation
Mondiale de la Sante. One of the highlights of my life was to grab a cab
in downtown Geneva and say to the driver, OOOO-MMM-ESS, sil voo
play. I could also order a mixed-green salad in restaurants.
English Is Hard Enough. Ive circled the globe and always returned
home safely. I marvel at multilingual people.
I am told that if you want to work in the home office of Nestl, in Vevey,
Switzerland, you must be fluent in French, German, and English. I guess
Im stuck in English-speaking countries.


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A Parental Moment
On one particular night our daughter Janice was going to a friends
house for a party. We set the time for arrival home. At the appointed hour,
she called and opined that the party was just getting going and wanted
to stay longer. Knowing that I would not sleep until she got home, we set
a new target time, several hours hence.
At the appointed time, no Janice. Two hours later, no Janice. My anger
changed to genuine worry as we fidgeted and thought about the coming
confrontation when she would arrive. Threats? Grounding? Withdrawal
of telephone rights? Then the idea struck. Let us call all her friends

This is my favorite photo of daughters Janice and Elizabeth, taken the weekend
John F. Kennedy was shot in 1963. We had house guests, but anxiously watched
TV all weekend.


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parents and ask whether they had seen Janice. Of course, the parents
were asleep and answered that no, they had not seen Janice. I trust some
of them checked if their own child was in bed.
Janice came home safe and sound, and our confrontation was rather
mild. We did not mention the telephone calls.
After school on Monday, Janice burst into the house screaming, What
did you do?
We roused all your friends parents out of bed to ask if they knew where
you were.
Dont ever do that again!
Dont ever come home late again.
And she never did.


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or the


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IQ and Life
Some think that having a high IQ is a blessing. Some think it is a
curse. I think it is both.
On three occasions I have learned that I have a high IQ. When I went
into the service, I was tested. I cheated and found my score. It revealed
that I had a high IQ. When I went to work at the Ross home office after
the Army, they tested me with the Wonderlic test, and all they would tell
me was that I matched the others with a good IQ. I finished the test
so rapidly that I was able to go through it a second time before the time
was up.
When I joined the National Program for Educational Leadership, they
assigned a psychologist, Tom Milburn, to follow me around for two years
observing my behavior. After many tests for IQ, Tom kept sending me
applications for MENSA, the group for people who score in the ninetyeighth percentile on supervised IQ tests.
Slowly, when I was about 40, things began to become clear. Why was I
such a good student until the seventh grade and only a mediocre student
thereafter? Why was it that I hated long business meetings? (I got the
point in a few minutes and couldnt understand why everyone else didnt
get it as quickly.) Why did I avoid socializing with some business associates? Why did I enjoy being alone? Why did I exhibit so much ascendant
behavior (ending up in charge of things)? Why was I irritable a lot of the
time? Why did some people think I was stuck-up? Why did Marian say
that she hung on while I moved from pillar to post?


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The answer: I had been dealt a three no-trump hand and had to live
with it. I also learned that IQ is only one small part of personality. It says
nothing about knowledge, experience, judgment, social skills, and, most
of all, wisdom.
Consider the role of knowledge in problem-solving. More often than not,
a layman may have no knowledge of a technical problem but is expected
to contribute to a solution. The bright person does best to remain silent
and wait for that aha moment when enough technical information has
been absorbed and understood and solutions begin to appear.
People with high IQs often have a wide range of interests.
Our friend Jonathan Kaufman is a very bright person with a varied set
of interests. He can authentically talk jazz, Bach inventions, art, poetry,
architecture, politics, trees, and cloud formations. But his knowledge
is often expressed as opinion, and his ire rises quickly if you disagree
with him.
Experience is the best teacher. If you go to a restaurant and eat something
that you dont like, you dont select the item again. If youve had a meal
you love, you are likely to order it again. Likewise with museums. By the
third visit, you bypass the paintings that leave you cold and go directly to
the Vermeers, which are so wonderful and so rare.
Judgment is a funny duck. For years I championed a milk supplement for
pregnant mothers. Feed the Fetus was to be the slogan. I wrote position papers, argued for research funds, harassed our nutritional staff,
and made a pest of myself. Finally one day our sales manager, Don Doty,
came by and said, Tom, you are wasting your time on this one. A slice of
peanut-butter bread at noon would do the same thing for five cents. He


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was right; my judgment was in error. For years I championed an infant

formula that would enhance the immune system, as breast milk does.
Don Doty stopped by again. He said, Tom, doctors dont care. Relax.
And what is wisdom? Wisdom is the characteristic that enables you to
make the correct decision or respond with an appropriate behavior at
the right time.
When is it best to say nothing? And when must you act? The wise person
may be educated or not, rich or poor, male or female, young or old, a king
or serf. Anyone can be wise or stupid.
Have I convinced you? IQ is nice, but it is only a small part of living in the
real world decision-making, personal interaction, and problem-solving.


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An Open Letter to My
Vital Organs
HEART: Ive just provided you with a brand-new pacemaker, your third.
The surgeon tells us that it ought to provide another ten years or 100,000
miles of use, whichever comes first. Many years ago they stripped a vein
out of my leg so that you could have a good blood supply, so I expect a
good performance for years to come. The blood pressure last week was
126/65, so I am doing my best not to make life too hard for you. Keep it up.
KIDNEYS: I reckon that I have sent 7.5 tank cars of fluid through your
globules over the years, but none too destructive, I hope. The liquids
have been varied: breast milk, whole milk, 2% milk, skimmed milk,
chocolate milk, orange juice, orangeade, lemonade, sweetened iced tea,
gallons of soft drinks. (Do you remember when I went on a cream-soda
binge? Hope that didnt hurt anything.) Now I am sending you unsweetened iced tea, an occasional glass of wine, diet Pepsi, and water.
They shouldnt be too hard to handle. I do apologize for using so much
acetaminophen and ibuprofen that you are required to process. They do
help my achy back, and I have avoided Naprosyn and Vicodin. Be good!
LUNGS: I cant lie to you. You already know that I smoked twelve cigars
a day but stopped cold turkey when I was forty. I didnt inhale, so if I were
to have a problem, it would be tongue cancer, not lung cancer. Every
doctor Ive ever met asks if I have any shortness of breath. The answer
is yes, when I exercise, so I avoid exercise at all costs. I never smoked


Once MOre With Feeling

cigarettes, although I smoked a pipe for a while when I was in college,

until my mother made me stop. I still love the smell of bread baking and
the odor of onions caramelizing in butter. But I try not to inhale.

lIver: You are the lucky one. Ive only been stupid drunk once or twice
in my life, at the fraternity house, and that was so long ago. Since then, its
been a little gin, a little vodka, a few cordials, a little wine. We did get on
that single malt whiskey kick for a few years, but that was a small snifter
at a time. I only drink beer when I have a ham and cheese sandwich, and
the alcohol is absorbed by the potato chips. I confess that a beer goes well
with a spaghetti and meatball dinner. But one glass cant hurt too much.
BRAIN: Now this is a problem. Think of all those esoteric ideas Ive
stuffed into you: Kant, Karl Barth, Kafka, Freud. Its a wonder that you
can think at all. Do you remember that course in the philosophy of
science in college? You didnt understand a word of what the professor
was talking about for four months, but you sure pretended you did.
And reciting Middle-English Chaucer? Its a wonder you can be coherent
about anything. And politicsnow theres a mindboggling dilemma.
tO all Of yOu: Sooner or later one of you will get tired of the grind
and want to retire. Retirement isnt all that bad; you dont have to shave
and dress at 7:00 am. But, for now, be happy. And wait a while.


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Is Tai Chi Illegal?

Part of the mystique of the 1960s was the interest in things oriental. The Beatles traveled to India to be tutored by Maharishi Mahesh
Yogi. Zen Buddhism became a source of contentment for San Franciscos
flower children. Martial-arts centers opened in large and small cities.
Little children were dressed up in karate uniforms and taught to be
passive while they tried to overcome their peers. Ravi Shankar and his
sitar were regulars on Ed Sullivans TV variety show. Teachers practiced
yoga after hours to give them calm for the classroom. Tai chi was deemed
a way to perfect the body, simultaneously perfecting the mind.
While living in Palo Alto, Marian and I started taking weekly group tai
chi lessons from a Chinese man and his wife. They taught the sixteenmovement form (a low-level form.) We did not take the training very
seriously. In time, we moved back to Columbus, Ohio, and decided to
find a new tai chi teacher.
Dr. Wu, an engineering professor at Ohio State University, who was
born in China, moonlighted evenings teaching a variety of martial arts.
He taught the 64-movement form of tai chi, an advanced form requiring
rigorous study and practice, practice, practice. Dr. Wu had a young girlfriend, Sandy, who was his assistant. Dr. Wu paid attention to me and
my progress, but he virtually ignored Marian, letting Sandy handle the
women in the class.
Marian and I got up every morning at 5:00 am, left the house at 7:00,
and arrived at work in Columbus at about 8:00. Our tai chi lessons were


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from 7:00 to 9:00 one night a week. I was able to remain involved in the
training, but Marian sat down during the lessons and fell asleep. Soon
it was clear that I might make it through the form, but Marian wouldnt.
It took three years to become passably competent. To maintain the
skill, I did the 25-minute routine in our living room every night before
I went to bed. When we traveled, I found a quiet spot to practice early
in the morning. In each new location, I scouted the best quiet place I
could find.
On a vacation in Nova Scotia, we visited Lunenburg on the west coast,
where we were scheduled to board the steamer to the Canadian mainland. Lunenburg had been an active port for sailing ships, and the town
had retained its old-fashioned Victorian ambiance. Large wharfs lined
the seaside and featured a maritime museum enjoyed by tourists. The
wharfs had huge open spacesa fine place to do my morning tai chi.
I arose at 5:00 am at our bed-and-breakfast, put on a sweatsuit, and
walked down to the docks. The morning was foggy and serene. I positioned myself looking out to sea and began the first movement. Before I
was a fourth of the way through, I heard a noise to my left, turned, and
saw a police car inching toward me. The car stopped 20 feet away.
A voice called, What are you doing?
I thought a minute, not knowing whether the cops would know what tai
chi was all about. I answered, I am doing my morning exercises.
No one responded. I turned toward the sea again and resumed where I
had stopped. The police car sat there, idling for a few moments and very
slowly started to move away. The wharfs were at the foot of a tall bluff.
Someone on the top must have seen me doing a slow ballet and called


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police to look after the suspicious person below.

Returning to the B&B for breakfast, I asked the hostess if she knew what
tai chi was. Yes, of course, she answered. Then I told her of the incident.
She seemed genuinely embarrassed. I will call the sheriff this morning
and explain what you were doing. We apologize for their stupidity.
Tai chi is designed to bring physical calm and a sense of oneness with
the universe, unless you are being harassed by the police.


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Five Ways to Achieve

l ate In the 1960s, my business associates and I were having dinner
at the weekend home of Helen and Phil Haberman in Chappaqua,
Connecticut. Phil was a well-connected businessman who served on the
board of the Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. He was responsible
for fi nding fi nancial donors for the hospital. He regaled us with what
happens when people seek immortality through gift-giving.
How much does it cost to dedicate a room and get a brass plaque on the
door? How much does it cost to dedicate a wing? How much would it
cost to get a clinic named after us? What is required to have our names
carved in stone over the door? Etched in stone. Now theres immortality.
(Think graveyards.)

Churches and museums are always strapped for funds, but these days
new churches rarely put plaques on the pews where the families sit week
after week, as they did in the Victorian era. Rather, the conventional technique is to have a wallboard where small, etched nameplates are attached.


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Charitable organizations do the same. Even when wonderful old movie

houses are restored, the plaques are always displayed in the lobby, listing
the names of the generous donors. The symphony program has a section
for the donors. (Our measly donation would be near the end of the list
under a category called Other friends of the percussion section.)
Think about it. Wall plaques of donors are located all over the globe. Does
anyone read the plaques except the donors when the plaque is first posted?
Even when a donation reaches universal statusMemorial Sloan
Kettering Cancer Institute, for exampleit is no guarantee of anything,
including immortality. Who was Sloan, and where is the Kettering
family now?
Become president of the United States. That should do it. Fame forever.
Heres the test. Where was Millard Fillmore born? What state did he
represent? Was he the bachelor president, or was that Buchanan? Fifteen
historians may know the answer. Most citizens dont.
Invent something important. Did the Wright brothers invent the airplane? No, I thought Leonardo did. Did Dolley Madison invent ice cream?
No, Martha Washington served it to important guests. How about the
computer chip? (I draw a blank in the computer-chip department.)
Have a ship, a highway, or a town named after you. Do something incredible. How many of our children will remember the name of the pilot who
landed the plane on the Hudson River recently?
No. The only hope for immortality is to hope that you havent messed up
your life too badly, and that your sins are all venial and not mortaland
then, perhaps.


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Sana Mente,
Sanum Corpore
T he L atin slogan carved into the lintel of my high school is translated
in English to Sound Mind in a Sound Body. Teachers and administrators were expected to produce educated kids who were healthy in
mind and body.
However, one or the other quality always seemed to dominatethe
athletes versus the bright kids. Very few had both qualities, but some
did. For example, Jim Billington. He was the captain of our soccer team
and our valedictorianand the villain in our senior play. Jim was also
valedictorian at Princeton and earned a doctorate at Oxford, then headed
the Woodrow Wilson Institute at Princeton. Advisor to Ronald Reagan on
Russian affairs, he became Librarian of the Congress in 1987. Jim obviously had a sound mind in a sound body. He is now eighty-six.
I am eighty-five, and things have changed. The mind has become a bit
forgetful, and the body is complaining. As I watch people age, I wonder
whicha sound mind or a sound bodyis preferable. Either one has
liabilities and advantages. Of course, we all desire both a sound mind
in a sound body. Unfortunately, age brings problems with both. Sorry!
Wracked with Alzheimers disease, Mother died a week before her ninetieth birthday, completely non compos mentis. Her former diseases, such
as high blood pressure, had remitted, a common benefit in the demented.
Sound mind or sound body? If you were required to select one, which


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would it be? Would you prefer a clear mind or a healthy body? Dont
answer too fast. I have asked many residents in our retirement community, and they usually answer Sound mind. They believe being
clearheaded is preferable to having a debilitating and perhaps painful
disease. Sounds logical, doesnt it? Think again. Many demented folks
dont realize they have lost their memory and reasoning power.
However, in the long run none of us has a choice. In lifes crapshoot, we
have to cope with whatever happens.


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A True, Oft-Told Tale,

Harrison Sayre
H arrison Sayre was a pillar of the Columbus, Ohio, community. A
noted publisher and a prominent churchman, he founded the Columbus
Foundation and raised millions of dollars to give seed funds to individuals who had ideas and programs that enhanced life and culture for all
people in Columbus. He strongly believed in volunteerism and the power
of individuals. I got to know him as an elder on the session of a large
downtown church.
His daughter, Dixie Miller, was married to Tony Miller, the president
of Central Ohio Paper Company. They lived in a fine house designed
by Navarre Musson, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Tony and Dixie
bought a large hunting lodge in Keiss, Scotland, on the edge of the North
Sea, and invited my family to visit them there, which we did in 1968.
Dixie was one of those down-to-earth society women, involved in just
about every important cultural and political activity in Columbus. She
was one of the early investors in the magazine, The Columbus Monthly.
Harrison Sayres wife died of Alzheimers, and Harrison slowly began to
have his own set of physical problems. He moved from a large house in
Bexley to a small apartment nearby, but he visited Dixie, or vice versa,
almost every day. As he approached his dotage, he decided to donate
his body to The Ohio State University College of Medicinea final act
of charity.


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One afternoon, he stopped by Dixies house and said he was not feeling
well. He went into the living room to lie down on the couch. Around 6:00
P.M., Dixie went into the kitchen to prepare a meal. When she returned
to the living room, he was still on the couch, dead.
Dixie is not the type of person to become flustered. She thought a moment
and decided to call the medical school before she called an undertaker,
in case some special procedures needed to be followed. When she asked
the OSU telephone operator for the morgue, she was told that the entire
morgue staff went home at 5:00 P.M. Dixie explained that her father had
just died, and that hed wanted to donate his body to the medical school.
OPERATOR: You should have called before five.
DIXIE: He wasnt dead yet.
This is a true story, and I have repeated it perhaps a hundred times. And
I still enjoy telling it.


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Food: An Autobiography
If you but make a list of your favorite foods or meals you have never
forgotten, you will have written an autobiography.
Carrot Soup in London. On a blustery, chilly day in London, we walked
aimlessly with friends, looking at the architecture. A pub ahead. It was
lunch time. We gathered at a small table and looked at the chalkboard
for the days special: carrot soup. When it arrived, it had the distinct
fragrance of oranges, but also of pured carrots and cream.
At home in Ohio, we tried to reproduce the soup on many occasions, sometimes with disastrous results. If we put the orange juice in at the wrong
time, the whole mess curdled. Sometimes, the taste of our carrot soup was
close to the taste we enjoyed in London, but it was never quite the same.
Roasted Vegetables in Tuscany. Our landlady in Tuscany, Italy, told us
that the best nearby restaurant was at the top of a mountainous road ten
miles away. It was the time of year when the fields of pale blue wild irises
were blooming. The narrow one-lane road passed several small villages
where the houses abutted the road.
The restaurant was modern with a spectacular view of the valley. Wonder
of wonders, our young waitress spoke perfect English; she was an
American college student who had spent several summers working there.
With the main course, we ordered the roasted vegetablesonions, tomatoes, red and green pepper wedges, eggplant, and squash, drizzled with


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olive oil and roasted in a wood-fired oven. No one in our party of seven
had ever eaten anything better.
Tiramisu on My Birthday. Our small hotel in Milan, Italy, was three
blocks from Cathedral Square. Instead of eating in the cafeteria near
the hotel, we decided to celebrate my birthday by eating in the famous
arcade at one of the restaurants. The waiter recommended the tiramisu
for dessert. Id never had it, but had heard it was good. Good is an
understatement. Coffee flavor, chocolate, moist cake, whipped cream.
God made the world in six days. I bet she made tiramisu on Tuesday.
A Brik in Tunisia. After an interesting day of touring with the Minister
of Maternal and Child Health of Tunisia, we were driven to a seaside
restaurant. The car was parked high on a bluff, and we walked down a
long flight of stairs to the restaurant at waters edge. The meal had been
ordered in advance, comprised of local dishes. The first course was brik,
a mixture of seafood in a cream sauce wrapped in a pastry shell and
deep-fried. My first and last brik. By the time I returned to the hotel, my
stomach started to ache, and ache, and really ache. This had to be the
definition of food poisoning. In two days, I was supposed to meet my wife
in Barcelona for our 25th wedding anniversary. I met her at the airport,
returned to the hotel, opened a split of champagne for her, and fell back
into bed. I was sick for two weeks.
Fried Chicken, Family-Style. Zagat food reviews eventually reached
into rural Ohio. The claim had been made that the best fried chicken
in Ohio is served at Clarks Restaurant at the crossroads of old Route
40 and Route 13at least until 2012. This had been my advice to any
visiting diner:


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They serve three entres: ham, steak, and fried chicken, but youre
nuts if you dont have the chicken. The fixed-price meal is ten dollars,
for which you get a small salad, a huge pile of fried chicken, mashed
potatoes, pan gravy, your choice of peas, string beans, or corn, and
rolls and butter. Dessertincludedis a piece of homemade pie from
a selection of nine or ten types. The chicken comes out crisp but moist
inside, and not greasy. And your check is delivered with a doggy bag
to take home filled with enough fried chicken for an entire meal the
next day.
Dont plan on rushing. Your dinner isnt fried until your order is in. When
it comes to the table, it is so hot that you must let it cool a few minutes
before you can pick it up.
Marinara Sauce at El Piccolo Mondo. Located three blocks off the
Via Veneto in Rome is the restaurant El Piccolo Mondo, which has been
serving traditional Italian food for more than 40 years. We walked down
a few steps, passed a tempting display of antipasti, and found ourselves
seated in a crowded dining room of animated diners. We ordered a primo
of pasta and marinara sauce and wolfed it down before the waiter stopped
by to ask us what we wanted for our secondo. Marian said, I want another
bowl of the pasta and marinara sauce. It was so good.
Marian, this is Rome. You are expected to order a secondo now.
No, I want another primo! Ive never tasted better marinara sauce in
my life.
It was a good sauce. Thick, slightly sweet, and laced with fresh basil.
With a distressed look from the waiter and her husband, Marian ordered
her first coursetwice.


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Sheeps Eye in Haifa. At a tiny restaurant on top of the hill above Haifa,
Israel, my friend Moshe wanted us to try a typical Middle Eastern feast.
My wife and 11-year-old daughter Janice sampled the fare with reasonable acceptance until a waiter produced a sheeps eye and put it down
in front of Janice.
For the guest of honor, said the waiter.
Janice took one look, declared that she was going to vomit, and rushed
off to the bathroom.
I cant remember the end of the story.

Scallops at Shaws. Every time we went to Shaws in Lancaster, Ohio,

Marian ordered their scallops: four or five plump muscles placed in
a deep pool of melted butter, sprinkled with a few bread crumbs, and
placed under the broiler until they were just done. She oohed and aahed
every time, but thats not all. She always ordered a hot-fudge sundae with
thick, chewy hot fudgenot unlike Schrafts famous hot fudge in New
Yorkfor dessert.
I knew how to make my wife happy.


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When Foods Are

First Revealed
Wisdom dictates that the more exotic the food, the more competent
the chef should be, guaranteeing a good first experience. Otherwise,
theres little likelihood youll ever reorder something you didnt enjoy
the first time.
I was served at least four first-time foodssnails, foie gras, rouget, and
wild strawberrieswhile in Switzerland at Lion dOr, a fine restaurant
in the village of Cologny, a short cab ride across the lake from downtown Geneva.
The snails were swimming in a ramekin of cream sauce: garlic, butter,
and a dash of nutmeg. The first impression: They are gray. No need to
order these again.
Foie gras was a specialty of the house. The goose liver was sliced, thrown
briefly into a searing-hot skillet until the fat started to ooze, flipped over
for less than a minute, and served hot on a few greens accompanied by
crusty bread. The pan juice with a dollop of port was poured on top. An
unforgettable experience. The liver tasted more like butter than butter.
The appetizer: delicate rouget (also known as red mullet, a small and
delicate red fish), sauced with an orange glaze.
The entre: roast lamb enhanced with fresh herbs picked from the
garden on the hill below.


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The dessert: As we entered the restaurant, we noticed a large bowl of tiny

wild strawberries, each no larger than the tip of your little finger. These
were served with chilled heavy cream, not whipped, but thick and rich.
The strawberry taste burst in my mouth.
Forget the costthis was a peek of heaven.

After a particularly hard day in Washington, D.C., I decided to treat
myself by going to one of those overpriced destination restaurants where
the elite meet to eat. When the waiter handed me the menu, I waved it
aside and said, You order for me.
Do you like lamb? It looks good tonight.
Fine, I leave the rest up to you.
When the soup arrived, the waiter announced, Crawfish. Childhood
memories of turning over rocks in a nearby creek and taking the crawdaddies home in a Mason jar.
Think of them as little lobsters, I told myself, but I was disappointed:
tasteless and chewy like the snails.

It is criminal to serve a fine, expensive wine to a novice, but it happened.
Artie Sackler was the president of the companys New York ad agency
William Douglas McAdams. He is the Sackler, after whom the Sackler
Museum of Asian Art on the Washington Mall is named. After dinner
one night at a restaurant near Rockefeller Center, he ordered a bottle of
Sauternes labeled Chateau dYquem. Today a bottle costs between $250
and $350 for newer vintages. The cost is great because the grapes are


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picked one at a time, and only after they have ripened and a famous rot
has set in, concentrating the sugar.
The wine was sweet, viscous, and unlike any wine I had ever tasted.
Palatable and a little weird.
As a thank-you for some community service, I was once given a bottle of
Chateau dYquem. We saved the wine for ten years, until the night of our
50th wedding anniversary dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite.
The wine was sweet, viscous, and unlike any wine I had ever tasted
(except once before). Palatable and a little weird.


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With Just a Hint

of Black Currant
Drinking wine is a phase we all go through. We must master
the rules, and there are many rules: how to swirl and examine the legs,
how to sniff, how to sip, how to examine the cork, how to match the
wine to the food, how to pick among the myriad of choices (Californian,
Australian, French, Chilean, South African), how much to pay. You also
have to learn wine-speak. Zinfandels are zins, cabernets are cabs,
chardonnays are chards.
Percent of alcohol is no small matter. Too much (17%) and the wine loses
its mellowness. Too little (10%) and you might as well drink warm water.
Mastering the vocabulary of the nose takes years of practice. This
is wine in which the grape is forward, but with aroma of strawberry,
heather, and with just a hint of black currant. (As if we knew what a hint
of black currant smelled like.) And never forget the tannins. Needs
more time to age. Should be laid down for another five years.
You also need to understand terroir, the ground in which the vine is grown.
Once aboard the Radisson Diamond, we had a port call in Bordeaux.
The featured day trip was an excursion to Sauterne country, a small
region about twenty miles by twenty miles where the famous French
grapes are grown. The most famous of the vineyards, Chateau Yquem,
was closed that day. But the bus driver drove into the winery anyway
so we could genuflect at the place where one of the most famous (and


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expensive) wines in the world was created. We drove to the next vineyard
down the road and had a tasting. The Sauternes was similar to the more
famous wine and nearly as expensive. We bought three half-bottles. We
were startled when the short, pink-cheeked, beret-covered winemaker
whipped out a portable phone, and swiped our credit card.
That night we were invited to a hyped 600-dollar dinner at a famous
Bordeaux winery. We were asked to wear formal wear with sneakers
to be explained later. Arriving at dusk, we were served champagne in
the gravel courtyard (explaining the sneakers.) Following the hors
douevres, we were ushered into a nearby dining room. We were seated
elbow-to-elbow in a cramped space that was 100 degrees. We waited and
waited. Someone came in to open the windows to let in the humidity. And
we waited. The men took off their tux jackets, and we waited.
Eventually a first course of a catered dinner arrived. It was of no account.
The dinner was a complete bust. The four courses were at least an hour
apart, and completely forgettable. The wines were mediocre. Marian and
I had been given a freebie because we were such good customers of the
cruise line. The people who had paid $600 were apoplectic and close to
rioting. The next day, the cruise line apologized and removed all charges
for the dinner.
And sowhat about Two-Buck Chuck? There are no legs. It is a blending
of leftover wines from many wineries, and it pleases many faithful wine
drinkers. It does contain enough alcohol so that you can truthfully admit
to your doctor that you drink two glasses of wine a day.
But only God knows what terroir it came from or how to describe its nose.


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Learning to Eat
E ver since 1949, I have always enjoyed cooking meals for friends. That
summer I bused trays at the Hotel Preston in Swampscott, Massachusetts,
was the first time in my life I was exposed to a professional kitchen staff
and a sophisticated dinner of four courses for the patrons.
My mother was a lousy cook, and, by lousy, I mean reprehensible.
Her interpretation of beef stew was to put some raw beef cubes in a pot
of water and add a chopped onion and potato chunks. She boiled that
for several hours, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and served it in a
soup bowl. Steak in our house was a slice of bottom round about a halfinch thick, fried in a cast-iron skillet for about fifteen minutes on each
side. Rare was a dirty word. I never knew that something called herbs
existed. (Though we did have cinnamon for baking, and she did make
good cake, but a pienever!)
When I returned home at the end of that summer of busing trays in
Swampscott, I startled Mother by introducing her to boiling-hot beef
consomm, into which a raw egg was stirred. I tricked her into buying
some dried herbs to flavor things: thyme, oregano for spaghetti. (Do you
remember those kits with the pasta and a small can of tomato sauce?)
It never occurred to her that you could make your own tomato sauce. If
ground hamburger was added to the canned red sauce, the meat was
fried in a cast-iron fry pan, period. No onion, no herbs, just gray meat.
Vegetables at our table were cannedwith few exceptions. When sweet
corn came in season in July, we made a meal of just corn on the cob. I


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remember shelling peas and lima beans occasionally. But most of the
year, we had canned peas, canned corn (creamed or whole kernel),
canned string beans, and canned baked beans.
Mother knew about onions, but she didnt know anything about shallots,
garlic, leeks, or chives. I think she knew about green (spring) onions,
although she never bought any. The only bread we ever ate was white
bread with the red, blue, and yellow dots on the wrapper that Helps build
strong bodies 12 ways.

I never remember seeing a bottle of table wine in our house. My parents

drank gin-and-tonics in the summer and a blended whiskey (such as
Four Roses) and ginger ale in the winter when friends came over.
Every Sunday, Mother rotated the meat menu: roast chicken one Sunday,
leg of lamb the next, pot roast the week after, and finally, pork loin. That
was the order, and then it went back to chicken. Desserts were nearly
always canned. Among her favorites were fruit cocktail, pears, peaches,


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and applesauce. (My brothers and I fought over the little pieces of maraschino cherries in the fruit cup.) The epitome of elegance was when she
stirred fruit cocktail into unset raspberry Jell-O.
Fish was served at home in only two forms: a baked salmon casserole,
made from canned salmon, and tuna salad for sandwiches. The odor of the
salmon baking was a nightmare. When either tuna or salmon was served, I
always asked for peanut butter and a slice of white bread as an alternative.
Food served in the Army was a substantial cut above what I had eaten at
home. The menu was far more varied, and I was able to try some things
that would never be found on our plates at homeliver and onions, for
example. Ugh!
Army food varied according to the skill of the cook. Each one received
the same rations, but some Army cooks made banquets out of the stuff,
while others made slop.
When I was sent to Germany in 1952,1 was billeted in a residential hotel
in Bad Nauheim about fifteen miles from the base. Every night for almost
two years, I went out to a restaurant for dinner. What a revelation! Weiner
schnitzel, rosti potatoes, salads I had never imagined, and wine for the
first time in my life. I relished the process of learning about Rhinegau,
Rhinehessen, and Mosel wines as if I had been initiated into a mysterious
secret society. The waiters would open a bottle of white wine and discuss
with me how the wine changed taste as it warmed (or, if preferred, how
storing the opened bottle in an ice bucket kept the temperature and
taste consistent). There seemed to be no end to the delicious food and
the varied flavors: incredible crusty bread and butter in Paris, gelato in
Italy, onion quiche in Strasbourg, venison with loganberries (with crpes


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Suzette for dessert) in Frankfurt, cordials, brandy, and cognac. New

tastes abounded!
Back to the States as a civilian, I traveled to New York every month to
visit our companys ad agency, William Douglas McAdams. Apparently,
plying clients with expensive food was part of their responsibility. For
the first time in my life, I had an artichoke, veal piccata that was tender
as butter, crme brle, light-as-air omelets with truffles, and an array
of wonderful French wines, including the outrageous Chateau dYquem.
Later, when international travel was added to my business assignment,
another layer of fascinating foods was added, some great and others
questionable, such as water buffalo steak in the Philippines.


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What in Heavens Name?

a nIce cOuple, George and Marilyn, moved into the house next door.
They had just returned from a tour of duty in Germany and were trying
to settle into a normal American lifestyle. They found our neighborhood
Catholic church for their spiritual needs. (They were a devout Catholic
family.) Next came a new dog, a large apricot French poodle that had the
brain of a newt. Finally, George joined the local barbershop quartet club,
his favorite pastime.
In the spring, the barbershop quartet club planned its annual banquet.
The menu was distributed, and the members asked to call in their choices
so the chef could order the food. Enter the dilemma.
One entree included frogs legs, and the banquet was to be held on a
Friday night. George and his wife loved frogs legs. But, are frogs legs
meat or fish? If they are meat, they could not be eaten on a Friday. If they
are fish, the dish could be approved.
The phone rang. Marian, you are a science teacher. Are frogs legs meat
or fish?


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Marian said she rightly didnt know, but suggested that a call to the
diocesan office might provide the correct answer.
An hour later, the matter had been clarified: If the frog is caught on land,
it is meat. If it is caught in the water, it is fish.
Holy mother of God! That didnt help at all. Even if we called the frog-leg
supplier, would they know how the frogs were caught? And mightnt a
dozen legs contain both pond-caught and land-caught legs?
Our neighbors made a decision. They ordered the frogs-leg dinner
believing to the core of their existential being that all the frogs were
caught in the water.
What do I think? People tell me that frogs legs taste like chicken. That
settles it they are meat.


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What a Penny Will Buy

In the funny papers in the 1930s, one of the Sunday cartoons featured a small replica of a fake paper bill said to be redeemable for a penny.
At six or seven years of age, I thought the money was real. I cut it out,
and, after school, carried it to a grocery store on Sixty-second Street to
buy a penny candy. The owner actually let me have a sour ball or some
other candy. The ruse lasted several weeks.
I didnt take the play money to my regular candy store, because they had
already turned me down. That store was closer to home. It was a grocery
store with a penny-candy corner in the rear. My mother shopped there
almost every day, and I accompanied her. When we entered the store,
I headed to the rear while mother shopped. She usually let me buy a
penny candy.
Some of the candy had brand names; others were known to me by their
description. For example, the ten-inch licorice twists were housed in a
column of glass. One twist was blacklicoriceand the other was maroon
with a nondescript flavor; I never bought the red one. Another favorite was
a white strip of paper with rows of colored sugar dots. (We called them
Dots.) I bought those because I thought I got more for my money.
Some of the candies were loose. I loved the spearmint leaves, but not the
orange slices. A penny could buy two chocolate-covered malt balls or
two small Mary Janes, the toffee with a peanut-butter filling. I felt very
grown-up when I bought a candy cigarette. I remember two kinds. One
was white with a little red on the tip. The other was chocolate wrapped in


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paper and foil, which you took off before eating. Bubble gum also came
in two pink forms. Fleers was a small block, double packaged, first in a
cartoon, and then in an outer wrapper. The other form was a flat, threeinch square and included a baseball card.
The seasonal candies were treats. Halloween brought candy corn;
Christmas brought small, striped candy canes; and Valentines Day
brought those little hearts with a saying printed on one side. Easter
brought Easter eggs, marshmallow Peeps, and jelly beans. I couldnt
afford one myself, but every Easter, Mother bought us a chocolate-covered coconut Easter egg the size of a grapefruit. For a week or so after
Easter, she sliced off a piece for my brothers and me after school.
Meanwhile, we always had two candies at home. A small dish of silverfoil-wrapped Hersheys Kisses that sat next to Mothers chair. Hidden
away was a Whitmans Sampler. (When I was very young, the sampler
came in a metal box. Later it was a cardboard box.) I always reached
for those colorfully coated Jordan almonds. Taking a chocolate-covered
piece was dangerous, because it could hide some unexpected interior
flavor not in my larder of acceptable flavors.
The movie theater also presented a candy-selection challenge. The
trick was to buy some candy that would last a long time. The best
choice for longevity was Jujubes, those small, dense jelly lozenges
that stuck to your teeth but lasted forever. At the candy store next to
the Hamilton Theater, you could by a little box of them. You could also
buy some loose in a paper bag if you didnt have a dime to buy a box.
Another movie candy choice was Good & Plenty, the little hotdogshaped coated licorice.


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In time, we were given a nickel to buy candy. That opened up the whole
world of candy barsBaby Ruth, Butterfinger, Three Musketeers, Milky
Way, Almond Joy. However, the coup de grce was a frozen Snickers bar.
This treat became so popular in our neighborhood that the drugstore
kept a case of them in the ice-cream chest.
Nutritionists report that the British consume more sugar than anyone
else on Earth. Closer inspection reveals that their sugar is consumed
primarily in jellies and jams.
Ill take candy every time.


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A Night on the Town

in Frisco
A few years after the merger with Abbott Laboratories in 1964,
we began searching for new products or market segments to grow
the business. Someone suggested looking into the allergy market and
allergy testing for pediatric patients. None of us had much knowledge
of the how-to, so we signed up for a week-long course given by the San
Francisco State Medical School, designed for general practitioners.
Our group included Don Elsass, our training director, Mel Kauru, a
product manager, and me, then the vice president of advertising and
sales promotion.
We were billeted at the Clift House on Geary Street in downtown San
Francisco. About the third night out, we decided to go to the Blue Fox
restaurant for dinner.


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The Blue Fox had a reputation as one of the finest restaurants in the city,
and being on an expense account, it seemed like a reasonable thing to do.
We started to walk toward the address, when we passed a topless bar.
Mel said, Lets drop in and have a beer.
Topless bars were completely unknown in Ohio; the thought was
The bar was small, dark, and completely empty, except for two waitresses sitting at the bar, demurely clothed in sweaters.
We picked a table. One of the waitresses took off her sweater and came
over to take our order. She was as flat-chested as an eleven-year-old boy.
It was embarrassing. We ordered three beers. The other waitress took
off her sweater and delivered the beer. She was as full-breasted as Dolly
Parton and had obviously been enhanced. When she left, Don Elsass
whispered, Just like the cow we once owned when I was boy.
The whole episode was becoming sillier by the minute. We finished the
beer and left promptly.
Upon arriving at the Blue Fox, we were handed the extensive menu. It
escaped all of us that no prices were shown. My eye spotted the word
pheasant. The menu said something about pheasant en something or
other. All three of us decided we should have pheasant en something
or other. We ordered a cocktail, a salad, and the pheasant.
After the salad, a group of three waiters arrived pushing a cart on which
were three plates with big, brown lumps. With great flourish they started
breaking into the lumps. We had ordered pheasant baked in mud. After
stripping away the mud, they arranged the small bird on a plate with a
few steamed potatoes and miniature veggies.


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We enjoyed the meal and ordered a dessert and coffee. Then the bill
camenearly $400.
Remember that this was in the late 1960s. Our company expected us to
have ten-dollar meals, fifteen if we were entertaining.
We could never submit this dinner bill. We decided that we would only
eat sandwiches for the rest of the week, so we found a deli near the Clift
House where we could buy a sandwich for a dollar or so. When we got
home, the three of us coordinated our expense account submissions. As
I recall, we all lost about twenty-five dollars on the deal.
Caution: Beware of restaurants with menus without pricesand of ridiculous topless bars.


Once More With Feeling

The Unlikeliest


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The Golden
Infant-Formula Era:
All Things Change
A n unpleasant, paranoid milk chemist living in a New-York milk
shed had a brilliant idea in the 1920s. Too many infants were dying from
diarrhea and poor nutrition. Milk was unpasteurized. Breastfed babies
did better. His idea was to modify cows milk to make it similar to breast
milk. Alfred Bosworth took his idea to the Boston Floating Hospital, an
excursion boat that took infants out into Boston Harbor for the fresh air.
He persuaded the chief to provide a small lab where he could experiment with differing formulations. Eventually he concocted a powdered
formula with the approximate nutritional profile of breast milk.
Bosworth was afraid that someone would steal his idea, so he kept his
secret lab notes on his person at all times. I interviewed him in 1956
for an article in Pediatrics detailing the history of the Boston Floating
Hospital, including a description of his product.
He was a bitter and sullen old man. For a while he worked for the Moores
& Ross (M & R) Dietetic Laboratories, a small milk-processing company
in Columbus, Ohio, where a more refined formula eventually became the
popular baby formula, Similac. He was so unpleasant and difficult that
the company founders bought him out and sent him into retirement in
Circleville, Ohio.


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M & R struggled until the Second World War, when the company produced a gooey ice-cream mix using butterfat that was not needed for
infant formula. The Navy bought the product to make off-shore ice cream
on warships. Unused war profits piled up.
When the war was over, M & R owners decided to expand the business by
building a plant in Sturgis, Michigan, to make Similac powder. A second
generation of family members took over, and a major marketing expansion
began in the early 1950s. (I was in the first sales-training class.)
At that time, most infants were fed diluted evaporated milk mixed with
sugar (Dextri-Maltose) that was then terminally sterilized. Breastfeeding
was out of favor. The times were ripe for a complete, nutritious infant
formula to which only water need be added and the liquid then sterilized.
The idea fit the times. Pediatricians, general practitioners, obstetricians,
and hospitals began to respond to our advertising and sales-force promotion. Before long, we were feeding more than half the infants in the
United States.
Other products were introduced: a liquid form of infant formula, a
soy product, and several specialized products for sick or premature
babies. The products were promoted only to physicians, never directly
to mothers. We adamantly avoided direct consumer promotion, believing
that it might interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.
Profits rolled in, and, in 1964, we were acquired by the pharmaceutical
firm Abbott Laboratories, which was then doing $136 million in sales
annually. We became Abbotts cash cow, providing more than 50 percent
of its profits for many years.
A decision was made to expand into adult nutrition. Not wanting to


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confuse adult nutrition with the infant business, a distinct separation

was made at the staff level. Two of the important products for adults
introduced were Ensure, an adult nutritional supplement, and Glucerna,
a slow-metabolizing supplement for diabetics. A product to compete with
the sports drink Gatorade never got off the ground because promotional
costs were so high, and the research required to prove product advantages was lacking.
Meanwhile, a new government program emerged that would change
the momentum of the infant-formula industry. In 1972, Senators Hubert
Humphrey, Robert Dole, and George McGovern drafted a bill that provided indigent mothers with free infant formula for a year if they chose
not to breastfeed. It was entitled the Woman, Infants, and Children
(WIC) program. The government bought formula at regular prices.
Because we had more than half the market, our profits soared. Then a
group of social activists proposed the idea that the companies selling
infant formula should bid for the governments business and offer rebates
per can. Those rebates escalated until, in some cases, it was not profitable to bidthe price per can would have been at or lower than our
manufacturing cost.
The glory days of infant formula were over. Social activists belittled
artificial feeding. Breastfeeding became avant-garde again, and evaporated milk formula no longer existed as a source of new business. Profits
lagged, although division sales were up to a billion dollars annually.
After my retirement in 1993, I wondered if Abbott would sell off the Ross
Division, since it was no longer the cash cow that it once was. The business measures I missed in my calculations were the rapid aging of the
U.S. population and overseas world markets for all nutritional products.


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The adult nutritional market was an enigma to me, because I never

worked on that side of the business. Several imaginative people (such as
Sue Finn and Jim McCall) wooed nursing homes and the dietetic profession to prescribe Ensure for their patients. The sales grew, but television
promotion was never considered. It was too expensive and possibly in
conflict with the pediatric business.
Now we frequently see television ads for Ensure and Glucerna, with a
brief mention of Abbott, but not of the Ross Division. Recently the corporation announced they were building a new plant in Ohio to produce
adult-nutritional products.
And it all started with an unhappy, paranoid milk chemist who was afraid
someone would steal his ideas.


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The Betsy Committee

T he most important event in my business career occurred in the
early 60s when I worked at M & R. After a brief stint in the field as a
salesman, I was brought into the home office to write and prepare sales
materials. In 1951, the company sales were $12 million dollars. Ten
years later, they were $30 million. The company was managed entirely
by the Ross family, and their fortunes were dependent on the success
of the company.
Mel Ross was president, and his brother, Dick, was general manager. Mel
was the money man, and Dick was the people person. Mel saw two
problems. The company was growing fast, and it needed large infusions
of cash to fund growth. He also realized that the Ross family wealth was
not diversified, so he asked Dick to seek merger possibilities.
Our products were sold to doctors, but the business had originally grown
through the milk and ice-cream business. Dick started making contacts
with both food and pharmaceutical companies. Contacts were made
with Smuckers and Beechnut. On the pharmaceutical side, he contacted
Pfizer. Our ROI (return-on-investment) was very high, so the brothers
felt they might receive some good offers. Pfizer was very interested and
made the first bid. Mel liked the offer very much, but Dick was hesitant.
Mr. Keen, head of Pfizer, intended to dissolve the Ohio business and
move the staff to New York. Dick did not want to move to New York, and
the bid was put on hold.
Because I was creating sales material, I was occasionally brought along


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to presentations to describe that part of the business. The day we were

to make a presentation to Beechnut, our sales manager, Dave Cox, had
a back spasm, and we left him on the floor with a pot to pee in at the
companys New York apartment, with the door cracked open so that a
messenger could deliver some Miltown, one of the first muscle relaxants
and tranquilizers. Dick Ross and I made a presentation, but we felt that
the Beechnut management was not representing their financial status
honestly. We backed away.
A few months later, Abbott Laboratories, headquartered in north Chicago,
showed interest. Ross formed the Betsy Committee as our merger team.
Betsy Ross contained the name Ross, so Betsy became the code name for
the activity. Those included were Dave Cox (representing sales and management), Gil Martinez (marketing research), Dr. Jack Filer (medical),
myself (sales promotion and advertising), and perhaps one other.
The Abbott team was headed by Ted Ledder, president of Abbott
Pharmaceuticals, and a handful of others whose names I cannot remember. From the beginning, the merger looked like a fit. Our ad agency
in New York, William Douglas McAdams, serviced drug companies
only, and our approach was scientific. Our sales were then $32 million,
and Abbotts were $136 million, four times our sales. Abbott had an
excellent reputation, and Mr. Cain, their CEO, was best described as
classy and upscale.
One day Mr. Cain played golf with another pharmaceutical CEO on the
North Shore of Chicago. He suggested that the two of them merge their
companies. The Ross negotiations came to a screeching halt, much to
our disappointment. In time, though, the two men argued about which
one would be the CEO of the merged company, and that merger fell


Once MOre With Feeling

apart. A few months later, Abbott reopened our talks. Our merger was
consummated in 1964.
In one of our meetings, I made an I have a dream speech. I said we
could envision Ross as the pediatric arm of Abbott, because we had great
rapport with pediatricians. Little did we know that Abbott would never
give us their best drugs with pediatric doses. Instead, they foisted their
languishing vitamin brand on us, Vi-Daylin, and a very old penicillin
product we renamed Pediamycin.

Ross prospered significantly, and for at least a decade, we provided 51

percent of Abbotts profit. This was critical, because Abbotts intravenous solutions ran into a cracked glass problem and had serious, serious
financial problems. We were raking in cash so fast that Mr. Cain once
said to Dick Ross, I know you are making more money than you have
reported. I knew. I had just prepaid a four-million-dollar advance purchase of printing for the following year. Ross did have some leverage,
because Dick Ross was the largest stockholder of the merged companies
and a member of the Abbott board of directors. Generally, we were left
to run the business without interference.


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However, we always felt we were treated as the country cousins. We had

a Twin Beechcraft airplane, but they insisted the plane be kept in North
Chicago rather than Columbus. When money got tight, they insisted on
Ross price increases to bring in more cash.
When I retired, our division sales were at about a billion dollars.
Not bad for the hicks in the hinterland.


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A Bump in the Career Path

At the time of Rosss Merger with A bbott, I was vice president
of sales promotion and advertising and had a staff of about 35 people
writers, artists, administrators, production supervisors, and so on.
Two other important things happened after the merger: Abbott wanted
us to reorganize our product management system so that each product
manager would have a self-contained and independent marketing unit,
including his own advertising manager, accountant, and so on, and have
complete responsibility for profit management. To do that required
hiring a group of new executives in a hurry. My boss, Dave Cox, hired
the three Bobs in a months time: Bob Hoyt, Bob Dutton, and Bob Pike.
All three knew one another. They had been door-to-door encyclopedia
salesmen before separating to join unrelated companies. Dave didnt
realize it, but the three of them soon plotted to take over the divisiona
cabal in our midst.
Bob Hoyt: The ringleader. Charming, bright, handsome, cunning, sly.
He got himself made assistant to the president and then was promoted
to vice president of Ross Division.
Bob Dutton: The good old boy. Funny, glib, an iron fist in a velvet glove.
He was assigned the Similac product group, the most profitable unit in
the new organization.
Bob Pike: You know him. He was the bad boy in high school. Always
in trouble and trying to avoid being punished. He was given the job of


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finding new products. His recommendations were always bizarre and out
of touch with our interests and skills. His explanation: He was trying to
think outside the box.
Within three months of their arrival, they and others had decimated
my staff, and I was left stranded without influence. I still had the title
of vice president of sales promotion and advertising, but had no home
in the organization.
That was enough to disturb me, but it was not the worst. Before they
arrived, we were an integrated and happy family. Now they were loose
cannons. They went to the Christopher Inn at noon each day and drank
their lunchthree martinis. Within six months, they were sleeping with
their secretaries. I was too nave to squeal on them. The president would
have been horrified if hed known the facts.
About that time, the dean of the School of Education at The Ohio State
University, Vern Cunningham, came to me to describe a school reform
experiment funded by the federal Department of Education. A consortium of four colleges and the Department of Education of North Carolina
would each sponsor about ten fellows in the National Program for
Educational Leadership. The experiment concerned taking successful
but uncredentialed persons from outside education to see if they could
transfer their skills into school systems to improve the schools, notably
urban school systems.
Tom, we modeled this program with you in mind. We will pay you what
you are now making for two years. You will develop your own curriculum.
You can go anywhere and do anything to learn about school systems,
and we will pay your expenses. After two years, you promise to find a
job somewhere in a school system, and we will see how you are accepted


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and what changes you are able to make. We would like to have you as
our first Fellow.
Unhappy at work, and at that magic, midlife-crisis age, I accepted the offer
after discussing this major life change with Marian. When I resigned at
Ross, the president was very angry. But off I went into a new life and a
multitude of fascinating experiences in the states, Europe, and Israel.
Meanwhile, the conspirators were hatching a plan to destroy the president. They carefully documented every time Dave acted up. He was, in
fact, a tough boss: demanding, petulant, sometimes illogical (he would
not take no as an answer), and threatening. The cabal missed the fact
that Ross was providing 51 percent of Abbotts annual profits.
When the Bobs had gathered what they thought were sufficient examples of Daves peculiar leadership and management style, Bob Hoyt
navely drafted and sent a letter to the chairman of the board of Abbott
detailing Daves faults and asking for relief, implying that he was prepared to take over. Within twenty-four hours all three Bobs were fired
and their offices vacated.
Bob Hoyt went to an advertising agency in New York. Bob Dutton was
transferred to the international division (he was not considered the ring
leader), and Bob Pike just disappeared.
After failing at assignments in Italy and Spain, Bob Dutton was fired and
took a sales management job with Marion Laboratories. He was found
dead in his hotel room while attending a convention. Hoyt had a successful stint at the advertising agency. He had high-blood-pressure, though,
and he had a stroke and died in his forties.
After several years, Pike showed up at the company and pleaded for a


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chance to prove he could find new products. He worked for about eight
months, and then one day, just disappeared again.
Meanwhile, I was hired by the Palo Alto Unified School District (California)
to write a long-range plan. After four years, that project came to a close,
and I started to write applications to small school districts that were
looking for a new superintendent. I had stayed in touch with some friends
at Ross, and when I mentioned to them that I was looking around for my
next job, Gil Martinez went to Dave and told him I was available. Dave
called immediately and said he had a trouble-shooting job involving
international travel and wanted me to return.
He said, You left because of the Bobs, didnt you?
Yes, I said. That whole episode left a very sour taste in my mouth.
He didnt apologize but left me to understand that he understood. After
all, he had been the target.
So began my second happy career with Ross. For the next twenty-three
years, I had many interesting assignments. I retired in 1993, richer for
my six years away.
My final title was director of business practices. I was the house ethicist.
Can you believe that?


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Another Skill
for Which I Was Unsuited
During the years that I worked, I was responsible for making four
films: two training films for our salesmen, one film about education in
Israel, and one film about women and infant care in Guatemala.
During the 1970s, we made a decision that Ross should make films
to show sales trainees how to make sales calls. First, we took an old
basement cafeteria and turned it into a film studio. I hired a young man
named Cliff to supervise the selection of needed equipment and facilities
and then to actually make films. From the beginning, I noticed that Cliff
had a characteristic that I didnt havepatience.
Filmmaking requires incredible patience. It is a horrendously ponderous
process, requiring details, details, details, plus elaborate planning and a
willingness to do something over and over again until it is right. Those
traits are the opposite of my personality.
Our first film was a training film shot at the Riverside Methodist Hospital
in Columbus. It showed a salesman calling on the newborn nursery
where our product, Similac, was used to feed newborns. The film was to
be narrated, so the salesmen we selected would not have to talk, saving
hours of audio set up. However, I soon learned that hours of camera
set-up were required for every shot: lights, cables, and camera angles
rehearsed over and over, and then takes, retakes, and more retakes, until
Cliff was satisfied he had suitable footage.


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I had promised the hospital that we would not be intrusive or require

much staff time, but I was very wrong. Some shots required hours, and
I was helpless to speed things up.
Shooting a film is only the first step in the process. The film has to be
edited, titles designed, script written, narrator and music selected,
preliminary showings arranged with company executives, changes
made, etc. It was unbearable. I felt I was living in a pit of dangerous
snakes. That first film took many months to complete, but the end
result was acceptable.
The next film we made was about manufacturing infant formula in our
plant in Sturgis, Michigan. Our star was Dr. Jack Filer, our medical director. We had large flow charts designed by a convention display company
in Cincinnati, in front of which Jack described each step in manufacturing. We then inserted a clip of that actual process from the plant.
Milk-processing plants have tile floors that are usually hosed daily for
cleanliness. Yards of electrical cords on those water-soaked floors was
our first problem. Secondly, our powder product was dried in a huge
room with three dryers several stories tall. Cliff set up every light we
owned, opened the camera to maximum f-stop, but found he had nothing
but dull, grim-looking footage. As a result, we cut in some colorful still
photographs of those dryers.
During the time I was a fellow in the National Program for Educational
Leadership, I was given a grant to make a film about the imaginative educational programs in Israel. What was planned to be a two-week shooting
schedule turned into a three-day shoot with a surly camera crew. The
films title, Israels Second Line of Defense, was meant to imply that
after its war machine, education was highly valued and innovative. After


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viewing the completed film, a friend told me, Interesting, if I only knew
what it was about.
Returning to Ross after NPEL, I decided to make a film in a ThirdWorld countryGuatemalathat demonstrated women everywhere
do the best they can to care for their babies, regardless of poverty or
squalid conditions. I selected a Chicago firm to make the film and hired
a well-connected Spanish-speaking liaison to interview poor mothers on
camera. I visited the shoot in Guatemala twice during the filming and
was distressed at how intrusive we had become. However, the finished
product served us well with social critics and others trying to understand
infant care in the Third World.
Back home, we realized that many business executives are not naturals
in front of a camera. They often freeze, look uncomfortable, and resent
being told that another take is necessary. It didnt matter. Film-making
was soon replaced by TV cameras with built-in sound. The results could
be easily edited and cheaply made.

We closed the studio, let Cliff go, and returned to live training and offcampus plant visits for new salesmen.


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I learned that film-making does not fit any part of my neurotic personality. I never want any more experience making movies.
Quiet on the set! Action! Phooey!


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Successful Failures
T he Quarterly Journal of P ediatrics was edited by Irving
Wolman, MD. The magazine was rated third behind Pediatrics and
the Journal of Pediatrics. Dr. Wolman and the sales manager of Ross,
Dave Cox, met from time to time to talk about topics of mutual interest. Not much was known then about mothers baby-feeding practices
once solid foods were introduced into a babys diet. Dave said that he
would be pleased to sponsor a national questionnaire to seek out some
authentic data. Dr. Wolman agreed, and Dave called me to tell me I was
in charge of the project. My skill was in writing, not in statistics or in
questionnaire development.
I wrote a questionnaire and selected the sample, and we mailed it
to hundreds of mothers throughout the United States. Data poured
in, and my secretary and I counted responses. A fter the returns
tapered off, I flew to Philadelphia, where Wolman lived, to discuss
the findings. He was very pleased, and the data were published. My
boss, Dave, was also pleased and decided that we needed to do more
studies in maternal behavior, competitive intelligence, and business
responses to our promotion.
The trouble was that I was not qualified in market research techniques,
so he hired Gil Martinez, who had the necessary skills. He served successfully as director of marketing research for decades. I went back to
sales promotion full time.
A few years later, Dave became enamored with a personnel-testing device


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called Activities Vector Analysis (AVA). (Ross used the Wonderlic Test
to evaluate brainpower and AVA to evaluate personality traits.) The AVA
was a self-administered test wherein job applicants selected words to
describe themselves. These in turn were used to define basic characteristics, such as sociability, aggressiveness, dependency, and basic energy.
The author, Walter V. Clarke, required a trained analyst to administer
and evaluate the findings.
Guess who that was? Dave selected me for the two-week training course
in Florida. Considering this a vacation, Marian and I packed, and we
headed to Ft. Lauderdale. I did not expect two weeks of intensive dayand-night meetings in a completely blackened room with the thermostat
set at 65 degrees. Clarke was an ogrebrilliant and opinionated. He
berated students for minor infractions and made us feel stupid. One
morning Marian knocked at the classroom door to retrieve our car keys.
Walter became apoplectic with her and me.
By the end of the two weeks, he was satisfied that I was knowledgeable
enough, and I was certified as an AVA analyst.
When I returned to Columbus, I was the person designated to analyze
all of the tests. I wrote dozens and dozens of reports used in hiring all
new personnel nationwide. The company was growing, and eventually
a human resources department was founded. Once again I returned to
sales promotion and advertising full time.
Why I was selected as the company guinea pig, Ill never know. When
sensitivity training became a popular fad, I was the first person sent to
the course at Oberlin, Ohio. Dave thought I was much too insensitive
(neurotic?); it turned out that I was overly sensitive and could sense emotions before the trainers could. Oh well. I returned to sales promotion and
advertising full time.

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Every once in a while, Dave had an insight. He decided that we should

enter the medical food business, and he called me in to see if I could
do anything with his idea. This time it was low-salt, low-fat cheddar
cheese. After a little exploration, I found a processed-cheese company
in Wapakoneta, Ohio, home of Neil Armstrong, who had walked on
the moon. The Fisher Cheese Company was delighted to cooperate
with this new venture. I wrote the promotional materials, selected the
mailing lists of doctors, and started a small mail-order business. The
experiment was a complete flop. We never sold enough cheese to cover
costs, and I was once again able to go back to sales promotion and
advertising full time.
I was not always successful in sales promotion, either. One sales
cycle, I invented a sales aid I called a
cube-octahedron. Imagine a colorful sixinch-square box with every corner clipped
off. The fl at sides were used to describe
basic ingredients: lactose, protein, and
vegetable oils. The clipped corners featured other product preference features. The theme was integrated
nutrition. The only trouble was that the salesmen were too embarrassed to show it to pediatricians. One of my peers, Jim McCall, was
so amused that he had one imbedded in an eight-inch Plexiglas plastic
cube to remind me that my good ideas were not always wonderful.
Some things did go right. The business grew from 12 million to 1 billion
annual dollars. My peers and managers kept me in checkusually.


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My Kind of Town,
Geneva Is
During the early 1980s, I was assigned twice a year to fly to Geneva: in
May to attend the annual World Health Organization General Assembly
and in the fall to attend another meeting. The sessions were a week long.
All in all, I traveled to Geneva about eight times. After two or three trips,
I began to feel at home and especially enjoyed the old town, its shops,
restaurants, art museums, and other tourist attractions.
If I was accompanied by a business compatriot, we stayed at the Noga
Hilton or the Beau Rivage on the north side of the lake. Both are overpriced predictable places. The Noga is a post-war spacious hotel with all
of the expected amenities. The Beau Rivage was prewarluxurious and
snooty. I usually took a long walk after dinner and began to look for a
smaller, more personal boutique hotel with some real character.
I found onethe Hotel de Armures, deep in the old town, next to the
armory and across the street from the city hall. It was a 17th-century
building that had been converted after the war. It offered thick walls,
beamed ceilings, an attached restaurant, and a fantastic continental
breakfast of fresh-squeezed orange juice, rich coffee and four kinds of
breada croissant, a hard roll, a sweet roll, and some solid multi-grained
sliced bread with mountains of butter. The tray also included several
cheeses, some fruit, crackers, and a small silver vase with a rose in it.
The food in Geneva was to die for, as New Yorkers say. The high-end


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restaurants served memorable continental food, but so did the chains

like Movenpick. A hamburger ordered there comes rare with a generous serving of sour cream on top, with delicious caramelized onions
topping the sour cream. The fondues at the Armures restaurant caused
me serious problems, because I always overate, and I felt stuffed and
slightly nauseated for two days afterward.
Even the cafeterias at the World Health Organization served notable
food, including an agreeable wine list. If you took a guest to lunch
there, you would reserve a table at the sit-down restaurant (on the top
floor overlooking Lake Geneva) with linens, fine china, and waiters in
tuxedos. Even the simplest lettuce salads seemed to have the perfect
vinaigrette dressing.

I so enjoyed staying at the Hotel Les Armures, located in the old town of
Geneva near the armory and the City Hall. It was perfect for evening strolls, fine
restaurants, and window shopping.


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Those trips to Geneva twice a year were not much more than paid vacations in a heavenly place. In time, I learned every inch of the city center.
However, my French was lousy, a definite liability, as I came to learn.
The first time I had reservations at the Hotel de Armures (the hotel of the
Armory), I deplaned, found my bags and a taxi, and announced plainly
that I would like to be transported to the Hotel de Amores. The taxi
driver turned around and started laughing. I repeated the instruction,
but he seemed confused. I pulled the reservation from my billfoldthe
Hotel de Armures. I quickly learned to pronounce the name of the hotel
properly, with the accent on the first syllable.
Hmmmm. What if he had followed my instructions?


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Haiti Is Back in the News

T his sad country, Haiti, has suffered tyranny for decades under the
likes of Papa Doc Duvalier, Baby Doc, and others.
After World War II, some avant-garde artists and folks from the States
discovered the folk artists in Haiti, and an industry sprang up. Art
schools and galleries were opened, and Haiti became fashionable. But
that was long ago. Rumors of voodoo practices and oppressive government control gave the country an air of mystery. It was not a place for
the faint of heart.
My staff and I were searching for a place to make a film about pediatric
nutrition in Third-World countries, and I was to meet with the Haitian
Minister of Maternal and Child Health to explore possibilities. Interaction
with Americans was not uncommon. An industrial zone had been established near the airport, and many American companies had manufacturing
operations there to take advantage of the pitiful labor rates. My cab ride
from the airport in Port-au-Prince was uneventful. On the way through
town, we passed the famous covered shopping pavilion, a building out of
the 18th century that was jammed with shoppers. My secretary had made
the hotel arrangements, and when we arrived, I was startled to unload in
front of two huge World War II Quonset huts with two motel-like wings,
one to the right and another to the left. How quaint, I thought.
My room was in one of the wings, and all the plumbing leaked. The
spigots, toilet, and shower dripped and could not be turned off. After
unpacking, I decided to take a walk. As I left the hotel, a group of six


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children started following me, begging for money. A small inlet with a
marina was a short distance away. As I stood on the docks looking down
at the water, I saw raw sewage floating there. Paradise this was not.
When I returned to the hotel, the clerk said that I should not go out the
next morning. Because Baby Doc knew the people were so happy, he had
declared a national happiness holiday, and the streets would be crowded
with rural peasants coming to town to celebrate. I called the office of the
health ministry and was told that the office would be closed, that perhaps
we could meet the day after tomorrow.
In the morning, I was too curious to sit in the lobby all day, so I walked
out to the road in front of the hotel. Caravans of open army trucks were
passing by, each one packed solid with people being trucked in for the
day. It was the better part of wisdom to stay in.
I was reading a book when a very attractive white woman of about 25, with
blond hair to her shoulders, sat down near me. She was an American,
also staying in for the day.
What brought you to Haiti? I asked.
I work for USAID, she answered. I manage a road gang.
I was stupefied at the ignorance of our government. Who would assign
this stunning white lady to supervise a crew of black men in a country
where women were often considered chattel.
What is this national holiday all about? I asked.
When the government runs out of cash, they declare a holiday so they
dont have to pay the workers. It happens all the time.
The next morning, I dressed to go to my appointment. At the desk, they


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said Baby Doc perceived that the people were so happy, that he declared
a second day of happiness. Now I was becoming alarmed. I was due to
leave the following morning, and I had nothing so far to show for my trip.
I called the health department and pleaded with the minister to see me.
Okay, he said. Get a cab and be here at ten am.
The minister was dressed casually and was enthusiastic when I explained
that my mission was to look for a location where we might make a film
about Third-World pediatric nutrition. He said he would cooperate. I
asked about costs and if Port-au-Prince had any film-making support.
Oh yes, he said. I own the only film company in the country. Why
dont you send a check for ten thousand dollars directly to me to get the
project started?
That ended forever my official contact with Haiti. That afternoon, I hired
a cab to take me to several of the art galleries so I could buy a piece of art
as a memento of my visit. The driver drove out of town. At the edge of the
city, the paved road turned to rutted dirt. We bumped along for the long
climb to the top of the mountain overlooking Port-au-Prince. The small
galleries there did have some nice paintings by noted Haitian artists. I
bought one for 75 dollars that would fit in my luggage.
I still fret about USAID spending our tax money sending blondes to help
repair Haitian roads.


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The End of the World:

Lagos, Nigeria
T hose who know L agos, Nigeria , use the phrase WAWA to explain
it to others: West Africa wins again. After years of tribal warfare,
corrupt governments, lack of civilized infrastructure, horrible poverty,
and a culture of rampant bribery, Nigeria and its people have garnered
a reputation as having a heart of larceny and the behavior to match it.
Today, Lagos is the thriving center of email scams for the entire world.
Seven million people live in a constricted area that would barely accommodate 500,000 people. Methods of handling sewage are lacking, potable
water is hard to come by, and wealthier people require armed guards for
their houses.
My experience there dates to 1976, and Im told that not much has changed.
The Ross Division of Abbott Laboratories manufactured and marketed
the infant formula Similac. But our charter did not include international
sales. The international division of Abbott did.
The Nestl Company had been criticized for their marketing practices in
developing countries, and we were in the same line of fire. The management of Ross wondered if we shouldnt have overseas responsibility for
marketing, and I was asked to look into the matter and gather information that would help us deal with our critics. I wrote a position paper to
the best of my ability, but I added that I was inexperienced in marketing
practices outside the United States and should perhaps go and get some
first-hand information.

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In two weeks, I had a passport and airline tickets to Lagos for a threeweek exploratory visit and then to Kenya for three additional weeks.
Traveling with me would be a market-research expert and a pediatrician
from Abbotts Paris office. We were to be met at the Lagos airport by
an Abbott manager and housed in a rented house with a houseman on
an island adjacent to downtown. The local manager would help us with
appointments and provide a car and driver.
Our plane touched down at 10:00 pm, and the first task was to get
through passport control. The room was in chaos. The scowling passport
employees sat on high desks with their girlfriends beside them. They
went over and over our documents before finally passing us on to the
luggage people, who tore into our luggage with abandon. They looked
at everything and then told us they needed ten dollars each to pass us
throughclearly a bribe.
While passing through customs, I began looking for the Abbott employee,
who was nowhere to be seen. He didnt show up because he had been
fired for moonlighting by opening an ice-cream business on the side.
The market-research expert, the pediatrician, and I were surrounded
by a dozen taxi drivers pleading with us to drive us into town, but we
had no destination. I said, Take us to a hotel. We piled into a cab and
started the disturbing trip downtown. The roads were jammed, and
people were living in the open along the streets, all with small fires,
presumably for cooking. The stench was distressing. The hazy smoke
had the odor of rotting garbage and human filth.
After 45 minutes, the cab pulled into a construction site. The hotel was
under construction, and one floor had been completed. A man sat at the
front desk with a bare light bulb over his head. Yes, he could put us up for


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the night, but we had to understand that there were no facilities for eating
or anything else. I asked the price, and it was outrageous. But we had
no choice. I started peeling off travelers checks and laying them on the
counter. Later I discovered that I was missing several hundred dollars
worth and presumed that they had been palmed.

Driving in Lagos was a nightmare. Pedestrians selling goods crowded around

stalled cars and begged you to buy everything from cigarettes to washcloths.
Unthinking authorities built a ring road around the city with ramps leading into
totally clogged streets.

I slept like a baby but woke early wondering what our next move would
be. The hot water did work, so I was able to get clean and shave.
I wandered out the front door at daylight to discover that it was a construction site with the workmen and their wives and children living in
shanties scattered around. The little fires were creating a haze. The first
family I passed taught me everything I needed to know. A mother was
feeding her baby pap with her fingersno spoon, just her dirty fingers.
I knew then that we were in for an unforgettable experience.
I found a phone and called Dr. Ransome Kuti, the director of the childrens

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hospital in Lagos, whom I had met at a convention in the States. I pleaded

that we were desperate for accommodations. Come to the hospital. I
think the head of the x-ray department has a place with some rooms that
are not rented right now. For the next two nights, we stayed in these
rooms in a house along a busy highway with no streetlights. We walked
for miles along the road in the dark to find someplace to buy food. We
were terrified.
After some frantic calls, the Abbott employee found us and laughingly
said he had been looking high and low for us for two days. He took us
to the two-story Abbott house, where we each had our own bedroom.
Young soldiers with machine guns were stationed on each street corner
in the residential neighborhood. Albert, the houseman, explained that
we would have an armed guard in the driveway every night and that
we needed to lock our bedroom doors against intruders. He had some
bread and eggs to make breakfast, but nothing else. We would have to
grocery shop the next day in order to provide food for him to cook while
we were in Lagos. He lived with his daughter and her baby in a shack in
the backyard.
Toward dawn of our first night at the Abbott house, I was awakened by the
high-pitched voice of a mullah calling the Muslims to prayer. Nigeria has
a large Christian population but is primarily a Muslim country. Within a
week, our driver asked me one day if I liked him. I am Muslim. You are
a Christian. Do you like me?
Yes, I like you. Ours is a faith that believes in the value of all people and
tells us to love your neighbor as yourself.
I asked, Do you like me? The answer did not reassure.


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I am thinking about it, he answered. He was an imposing black man

whose round cheeks were scarred with tribal scars. He was the least of
our problems.
The pediatrician who joined us from Paris was a snobbish woman, an
elitist, and an obsessive-compulsive. She had packed two evening gowns
for the trip, and on arrival, she asked the houseman to help her unpack
and to iron the gowns. Within hours she informed me that I had no right
to talk with physicians because I was not a doctor and that she alone was
qualified to do that.
By a peculiar circumstance, a noted anthropologist from Westport,
Connecticut, was doing fieldwork in Lagos, accompanied by her son, a
ballet dancer who fancied himself a photographer. She knew we would
be in town, and a few days after we arrived, she showed up at the front
door. She was having difficulty coping with the complexities of Lagos
and asked to join us. Dana had written widely on maternal and child-care
practices, and her insights would be useful, so I reluctantly agreed.
A very bad mistake! Within hours, the pediatrician and the anthropologist were at each others throats. They were as different as apple pie and
iodine. Dana, with her see-through blouses and no bra, was as liberal as
liberal can be, and Francoise was all picky, picky nonsense. Francoise
came to me and said, She is a vulgar, despicable person. Dana came to
me and said, Do you realize how hung up that woman is? At meals they
did not talk to one another but asked me to say something to the other.
It was so bad that I called them both into the living room (which had
salamanders crawling up the walls) and said, Things are hard enough
without you two fighting all the time. We are going to be together for a few
weeks, and I expect you both to be civil to one another while we are here.


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Francoise lasted for another two days, and then announced she was
returning to Paris to rest. She would join us later in Nairobi when we went
to Kenya. We had to stay home the day she left because she needed the
car to drive her to the airport.
The following day we were scheduled to visit a well-baby clinic in the
downtown area. Traffic was bumper to bumper. As we inched along,
persons selling everything from cigarettes to washcloths banged on the
windows of the un-air-conditioned car. If we opened the windows, sellers
threw items in and demand payment. We drove with the doors locked
and the windows up.
When we arrived at the clinic, we sat in the rear of the room and watched
a nurse teach mothers proper sanitation techniques. Powdered milk had
been sold in Nigeria since the 1930s. Borden sold a product called KLIM
(milk spelled backward). Not knowing any better, uneducated mothers
bought cheap starch, mixed it with water, and fed their malnourished
babies the white fluid, believing it was as nutritious as milk.
Suddenly we became aware of a commotion outdoors, and our driver
screamed, Come quick! Danas ballet dancer/photographer son had
taken pictures of some nude children, an absolutely forbidden practice
in a Muslim country, the belief being that the camera steals the subjects
soul. A large, hostile crowd was screaming insults, and the police were
trying to get Danas son into the squad car. (People in Nigeria disappear
for far lesser offenses.) I was helpless.
Our driver started to take over, aggressively speaking in native dialect.
The debate went on for twenty minutes. Dana tried to explain that her
son was innocent of bad intent and uninformed of what he was doing.
Please let him go, she pleaded.


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The crowd was shouting, Take him! Take him! After what seemed an
eternity, things began to quiet down, and eventually they let him go. I
was shaken at how quickly things went badly.
Nothing was easy in Nigeria. For example, our rented house had no
phone, and I needed one to make appointments and travel plans, so I
contacted the Abbott manager and asked him to see what he could do.
Heres how it works in Lagos. There are no new phones available, so you
bribe an installer, who steals one from someones house and installs it
in yours. And then the installer waits for the person whose phone was
stolen to bribe him to steal someone elses phoneand around and
around it goes.
With a phone in the house, I decided I wanted to call home to tell Marian
that I was all right. I placed the call early one morning. The operator said
to stand by and she would call me back when my turn came. I waited all
day and into the evening without leaving the house. I was napping on the
floor by the phone when the call came through. Marian and I exchanged
a few pleasantries and then she told me that our dog was in the dog hospital at the OSU Veterinary Clinic with some sort of tumor. She went on
to say that she had already spent three hundred and fifty dollars on his
care. I was calling from a country where the average annual income was
$75. The absurdity of the situation hit me.
When I needed a cab, I walked about ten blocks to where they were
parked, announced my destination, and asked the price. The driver
answered, Ten dollars.
No, no, I said, Ill pay you two dollars.
The driver had a fit, hollering and shaking his head.


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Then it was be nine dollars, and I offered three.

More cursing and moaning. An impasse ensued, and I turned as if angry
and walked away. Within seconds, the driver tooted his horn, laughed
vigorously, and waved me into the cab.
We planned a trip to the medical school at Ibadan. I called the only hotel
there and asked for two rooms for two nights. We are sorry, sir, but we
are completely booked. I called the American embassy in Lagos and
talked with an economist, explaining that I needed two double rooms.
He said he knew of a motel, the Congressional. I called, and they said
they could take us. When we arrived after a harrowing two-hour trip, I
went inside to see the rooms. The place was dirty, smelly, slimy, poorly
lit, and uninhabitable. I went back to the car and announced that we could
not stay there.
Dana had heard that Ibadan had a monastery that took in travelers. After
making several inquiries for directions, we found the place and banged
on the door. A nun in habit said they had both mens and womens dormitories and would welcome us. It would cost two dollars per night per
person. That night, I slept under mosquito netting in a large room with
several dozen strangers. The monastery had no hot water, so the next
morning I showered (very briefly) and shaved in the chilly communal
bathroom. For breakfast, I had cornflakes and irradiated milk.
Later in the morning, the professor of pediatrics asked us to do rounds
with him. As we passed each sick child, he ordered only one antibiotic,
tetracycline. Back in his office, I asked if he had any hesitation about
using the drug. It was known to cause anemia and to permanently stain
teeth. Tom, when it is a matter of life and death, you use what you know
will work.


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Many of the doctors and nurses we met were well qualified, most having
trained in the States or in England. But they were practicing in a resourcepoor environment that required imagination and a strong stomach.
We decided to go to Kano, an even more remote part of northern Nigeria.
It required an hour-long flight. When we got to the airport, hundreds of
people were standing in long lines to check in. A young man approached
us. For ten dollars, he said he would get us checked in and deliver our
boarding passes. The lines were unruly, so we agreed. He disappeared
with our tickets. Thirty minutes later he returned with the boarding
passes and said that he now needed our luggage. As we stood there, he
literally threw our bags over the heads of the mob. Hands reached up and
helped pass the luggage toward the counter.
He returned again with the baggage claim checks and said that he had
arranged for us to board our plane early. Getting through the boarding
gate required another bribe. (I must have looked tense because the agent
at the gate said, Relax, mister. Everything is all right.) We walked out
on the tarmac and saw that the plane next to ours was surrounded by
hundreds of people who were screaming and running in a frenzy around
the plane. They were pilgrims on their way to Mecca on a hajj, and they
were in a state of frenetic ecstasy. We were in a state of fear.
When we got on our plane, we noticed that our pilot was a very blond
white man. I asked if he was Nigerian. No, no, he answered. All the
pilots are from New Zealand. The Nigerian pilots are incompetent, so
Nigerian Airlines hires only foreign pilots.
In Kano, we were accommodated by a physician whose family was
away on holiday. On our first night, we ate with him in a small, dark
restaurant adjacent to the polo field. The menu consisted of chicken


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and rice, a dish we ate again and again, except when Albert made us
groundnut stew, a national Nigerian dish made with ground peanuts
and some form of meat.


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Out of Africa: Back

Home in the States
A fter another three weeks in K enya , I returned to the States and
went back to work after a day of rest. By then the market-research fellow
had acquired infectious hepatitis and was hospitalized. The president
of our company, who had sent me to Nigeria, called me in and asked for
a full report. I started babbling and blathering, and he said, What is
wrong with you? I mumbled something about jet lag. He told me to go
home for a few days until I got my bearings and then come back to tell
him my story.
What I was having trouble explaining was that in Nigeria we wasted
most of every day just trying to survive, stay safe, find food, pay bribes,
and search for a clean restroom with toilet paper. Why would he care
that as you walked down the crowded streets in Lagos you felt the pickpockets with their hands in your pants? You sometimes even turned
around and saw the fellow, who just laughed heartily and disappeared
into the crowd.
I learned to put my wallet in my right front pocket and keep my hand on
it at all times.
In time I calmed down, made my report, and recommended that we
wanted absolutely nothing to do with marketing infant formula in underdeveloped countries.


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New Years Eve in

San Salvador
T he professor of educational administration at San Jose State
spoke perfect colloquial Spanish. In addition to his duties at San Jose
State, he supervised several USAID (US Agency for International
Development) education-related projects in Central America.
One project was coming to an end, and he hired me to spend the week
between Christmas and New Years Day in San Salvador writing the final
report. The field reports were in English, so it was a matter of analyzing
and editing the material. He arranged for me to live in a rooming house
about a mile from the USAID office, and he would pay me $750 for the
weeks work.
I was given a small office on the third floor of a U.S.-owned office building
that stood across from the American embassy. The field manager of the
project was a twenty-something young man named Paolo.
The project was an experiment in the use of television to reach very
remote areas of the country where competent teachers were scarce. The
Ministry of Education thought that by televising lessons using skilled
teachers, they could upgrade basic skills, interest students in completing
their schooling, and show rural teachers how to improve their teaching
skills. The experiment failed miserably, probably because it was not
interactive. When the television went on, the teachers left the room for a
break, and the kids slept at their desks.


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Every morning, I walked from my rooming house to the office, past some
slums and some new hotels. Paolo was very gracious and solicitous of my
needs. He insisted that I spend New Years Eve and New Years Day with
his family. New Years Eve with his friends included drinks, food, and
lots of talk. A few minutes before midnight, we all went outdoors. At the
stroke of midnight, the neighborhood was loud with fireworks, mostly
firecrackers and a few sparklers.
The next morning Paolo picked me up at about 8:00 am and drove
to his house for breakfast. His wife had prepared tamaleschicken,
I thinkfor the neighbors. I am not fond of cumin, and these were
loaded with it. But with cups of black coffee to wash them down, I didnt
embarrass anyone.
At about 9:00 am, we formed a caravan of four or five cars and headed to
the coast for a day at the beach. After driving for several hours, we turned
off a highway onto a dirt road and arrived at a secluded spot with two
open-sided sheds with picnic tables in them. The men took one and the
ladies the other, and they busily started laying out lunch. The children
scattered about.
While lunch was being prepared, I took a walk down the beach. To my
amazement, the sand was pure black and rockyobviously volcanic.
Many of the rocks had rolled around in the surf for thousands of years
and were egg-shaped. I selected a handful to take home as souvenirs.
After a fine lunch of grilled meats, fruit, and salads, the men went to their
shelter house and insisted that I join them in a game of poker.
My poker skills were limited, my Spanish was marginal, and I didnt
know anything about local rules. (For example, I had no idea how to say


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hit me in Spanish.) Paolo sat next to me and interpreted as necessary.

The stakes were not high. I may have lost a few dollars, and no one complained about my play.
About 4:00 pm, we started home. When I was dropped off at the rooming
house that evening, I walked a few blocks to the McDonalds that had
opened that week. It was jammed, but it felt like home. You can skip the
tamales, but McDonalds French fries will live forever.
When my $750 check arrived, I promptly went to the studio of Keith
Boyle, a painting professor at Stanford, and bought a large, bright yellow
painting as another memento of the San Salvador experience.
I forgot to mention that San Salvador has an average of 20 earthquakes
a day, though none serious when I was there. My desk shimmied a
bit all day. Twice I looked out my window and saw radical protesters throwing paint on the American Embassy fence, but they never
breached the grounds.


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Tripoli : At Sea
in a Foreign Land
At the peak of political tensions , someone in my home office
thought it might be a good idea if I visited the Minister of Maternal
and Child Health in Libya. I knew something of the repressive Gaddafi
regime but did not question the wisdom of going there. His government
had forbidden all American operations, so our Tripoli office was closed
and the entire staff fired.
We were curious to evaluate the countrys Maternal and Child Health
operation where absolutely no marketing or commerce was permitted
(although we knew that they were buying large quantities of our products through surrogate countries).
I did not speak a word of Arabic, so it was arranged that our Athens
manager, who was Arabic-speaking, would precede me by two weeks to
arrange transportation, hotels, and appointments with government officials, and then stay on to serve as my translator. Because I had recently
been in Israel, it was necessary that I be issued a new passport.
I flew to Tripoli from Rome on Alitalia. Before landing, the flight crew
passed out the arrival documents, but they were entirely in Arabic. I
asked the hostess to help me, and she said, Dont worry, they will not
be needed. On arrival, I walked out of the passageway and saw a young
soldier pointing a machine gun at me and waving me back into the passageway. The other passengers were passing me by, and I hollered,


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What does he want? Someone hollered back, Your landing documentation. I reached for my landing form, all in Arabic. I screamed, What
does the first line say?
Your name. Little by little I was able to fill out the form. I handed it to
the soldier, who smiled and waved me on. I could see my business associate on the other side of passport control, and in a few minutes, I almost
fell into his arms.
The drive to the hotel was eventful, too. We encountered a blinding
sandstorm. By then it was nightfall, and we rolled up the car windows
and inched along in the dark. When we reached the derelict old hotel,
the lobby teemed with a horde of shouting men trying to reach the front
desk. My friend told me to wait, and I watched him walk behind the desk,
take a key from the rack, and return to escort me to my room. The temperature was at least 90F, and I was wet through and through.
The small bedroom had a single bed with some sheets, an open window
without screens, and a tiny bathroom. The showerhead was in the
middle of the bathroom ceiling between the toilet and the sink. There
was no tub or shower stall, and the floor drain was slimy with mold. No
I took my coat and tie off and lay down in a pool of perspiration. In 15
minutes I decided it was too hot to try to sleep, so I went to the lobby to
see if I could get a cold drink. I knew that no alcohol was permitted, but
I hoped for an ice-cold something. The lobby was filled with men of all
descriptions: Japanese, Chinese, blond men (Germans or Scandinavians,
I presumed), and assorted swarthy Middle Easternersall businessmen
who were in Libyas favor. A TV set was blaring, and the show was about
squirrels bouncing around among Western-looking trees. A small bar


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was serving orangeade, warm without ice.

My translator had explained that in this culture it was impolite for
strangers to ask direct questions, and he advised me to be circuitous in
conversation. (Try holding a conversation sometime without asking a
question.) Through the entire first day of appointments, I struggled with
speech formulations. I began with, I am interested in nutritional practices here in Libya, particularly pediatric practices. That was usually
enough to start a conversation.
But I soon noted a pattern. As soon as we left an appointment in the health
ministry or a hospital, a second group of two or three people appeared
and wanted to know what we had just discussed. These were the political
authorities checking on the government employees. Needless to say, I
was never able to relax. The minister, doctors, and nurses we met were
knowledgeable and competent, and most of them had trained in England
or the States. (When Gaddafi took over, many professionals fled to Italy.
He told them to return or he would arrest their families. They returned.)
The facilities and equipment I saw were third-rate.
My visit lasted three days. On the last day, I was taken to see the warehouses where government pharmaceuticals were stored. The outside
temperature was about 100F, so inside must have been 150F. The
drugs were stored in corrugated sheds with dirt floors and no air-conditioning. I held my tongue but knew that they must be having serious
problems with storage. (Insulin, for example, must be refrigerated and
never over 72F.)
On my last day in Libya, I thanked all of them for their hospitality and
information. Then I boldly asked, Is there any way I might help you?


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The response was, Yes, you can see that our storage facilities are
outdated and need to be improved. Could you send information about
modern storage systems? I agreed to send all I could gather.
On the way to the airport, we picked up a stranger and parked at a small,
empty storefront with the blinds drawn. We entered the building, and the
door was locked behind us. The stranger handed me a large box. This
is for you, to remind you of your visit here.
I opened the box and inside was a beautiful,
gray, floor-length Arab gown with elaborate
embroidery. But you cannot tell anyone you
got it here or bought it here. Pack it with your
dirty clothes, and say you brought it with you
if anyone asks.
The stranger left the vacant store alone, and I asked, What was that
all about?
He was a former employee who wanted to do you a favor so that you are
beholden to him. If he ever needs a favor, you are obliged to respond.
The translator and I flew back to Athens without further incident. I was
mush from the three tense days. We went directly to Piraeus, on the
coast, for dinner. I asked my friend to order for me, and I slugged down
two martinis on the rocks. The first course arrived. It was a plate of tiny
oysters on the half shell surrounded by lemon wedges. I squeezed lemon
juice on the oysters, and they all squirted juice back at me and shriveled
as if to avoid the dousing.
Thank God for cold gin.


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A Memorable Venison
Dinner in Geneva
E very M ay in the early 1980s, I was assigned to attend the General
Assembly of the World Health Organization in Geneva as an observer. I
loved the yearly assignment because it meant a week in a beautiful city
with great food and interesting stores and little work pressure except to
send reports home about conversations with participants and interesting
policy developments.
Our company was building a turnkey infant-formula plant for the
Russians in Moldavia; therefore, we had a close relationship with the
Russian delegation. In 1980, the Russian Minister of Maternal and Child
Health, Madame Novakova, attended the WHO Assembly, and we invited
her to have dinner with us. She accepted. She had one colleague with her.
The colleague was purportedly a doctor, stationed permanently at WHO,
but it was well-known that he was a KGB agent assigned to Madame
Novakova to see that she didnt defect to the West. He also served as her
interpreter because she didnt speak any English.
Our dinner group gathered in a small rural village outside Geneva where
the director of Abbott Switzerland had a summer home. The old farmhouse had been elaborately upgraded and was magnificently decorated
with a stunning art collection and elegant antiques. Drinks were served,
and everyone settled into polite conversation. The KGB agent slugged
down three drinks quickly and complained that he hated Geneva because


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it was so dreary and damp in the winter. He said he would almost become
suicidal in the cold months.
In less than an hour, we piled into cars to drive to the restaurant, a
secluded auberge in the countryside. The auberge was in a beautiful, old,
restored stone house, complete with a tiled courtyard and a cold-water
fish tank with live trout. Our dinner had been ordered in advance, and
venison was to be the centerpiece.
It is a Swiss tradition that at fine meals the main entre is served twice
the same food but in two different guises. For example, the first entre
plate was a small venison filet with red-currant sauce, roasted potatoes,
and buttered haricot verts. The second time around, the plate had a chop,
chestnut paste, rosti, and creamed green beans. The wines were Swiss,
from the hills above Geneva. (The Swiss are a bit snooty about their local
wines. They are too fragile to travel, so we dont try to distribute them
outside of this area. The dry white was delicate and refreshing.)
I was seated to the left of Madame Novakova, and her chaperone was to
her right. We didnt have much small talk as we ate, but I did manage
to ask, What is the major health concern in Russia now? Through the
interpreter, she said, Oh, Tom, there are so many Russias, so many
different cultural groups and languages, such a large country. It isnt
possible to make only one solution to any problem.
Larry Lee, the corporate counsel of Abbott Laboratories, was seated
directly opposite me. As the evening wore on, Larry conversed in English
with my American colleagues. Once, Novakova turned to me and said in
perfect English, Hes very bright, isnt he?
After a sweet, a waiter arrived at the door carrying a round of cheese


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fourteen inches across and about two inches deep. This is the first of
this springs local cheese, just ripe, especially selected for you. The
cheese was slightly harder than a ripe brie and of about the same musky
flavor. The cheese was served with some hard, crusty bread, butter, and
some tasteless unsalted crackers. The fruit bowl was also passed around.
Finally, a huge box of chocolates was offered. We all took two or three
pieces. On a whim, I passed my candies to Madame Novakova, and so did
the others. Oh, thank you so much, she said in English. I will save these
for my son at home. We
cant get chocolates like
these in Russia.
When Chernobyl blew
up near Moldavia, the
nearby fields became contaminated with radioactivity, and the cows
milk was too tainted to use. The infant-formula plant we built lays fallow,
and is today a rusting, unusable hulk.


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The Sweet Stuff
o Life


Once More With Feeling

Opera Is
an Acquired Taste
Cartoons depict bored old rich men asleep in their theater seats
listening to a five-and-a-half-hour Wagnerian opera. A German organist
who preferred Bach said, This is not musicbelieve me. This is chaos!
This is demagogy, blasphemy, insanity, madness! It is a perfumed fog.
I assume he didnt enjoy Tristan und Isolde. Like beer and snails, Wagner
is an acquired taste, and Ive tasted gallons.
My first experience occurred when I was in the Army in 1950 and stationed at Camp Cooke, now Vandenberg Air Force Base. I went to San
Francisco on a weekend pass. The opera house there sold a few tickets
for a few dollars to soldiers in uniform. The opera was Parsifal, about
which I knew nothing. The first act seemed to drone on and on until the
Grail was unveiled in front of the dying, bleeding Amfortas. Suddenly the
dark auditorium turned bright scarlet, reflecting light from the ceiling
chandelier. I was impressed.
At the first intermission, I was wandering in the vestibule when a short,
balding man turned to me and commented how wonderful the production was. The man was Cecil B. DeMille. I reasoned that perhaps I
was missing something. The second act was normal, with the flower
maidens, the collapse of Klingsors castle, and some tuneful, accessible
music. The last act was boring, until the Grail was revealed again and
the chandelier turned red.


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The opera house in Bayreuth, Germany, was built and dedicated solely to
Wagnerian opera. Available tickets are by lottery only. We applied for seven years
before being granted two tickets for two nights performances. It was thrilling.

A year later, I was stationed in Bad Nauheim, Germany. The USO recommended that we might be interested in tickets to an opera house in
Bayreuth that had just reopened after the waran opera house built
exclusively to play Wagners operas. I went with no preparation to see Der
Meistersinger. The seats in the Festspielhaus were wooden and not very
comfortable. The opera was very long. Some of the music was familiar,
and the last scene contained some rousing, wonderful choral singing.


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In the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, my wife and I listened to Saturday afternoon
Metropolitan Opera on radio, and slowly I learned more about Wagners
music, his familys controversial flirtation with Hitler, his anti-Semitism, the full meaning of Bayreuth for Wagnerian opera, and the famous
singers who undertook to sing the many difficult marathon roles.
My wife tells me that we saw the San Francisco Operas production of
Parsifal in the 70s when we lived in Palo Alto.
I was determined to return to Bayreuth as an informed adult, but that
proved to be more difficult than I expected. The few seats that are available are allotted by a lottery. The lottery is open one day a year, and you
must submit a written request including the date, the opera(s) you want
to see, and the exact seats in the auditorium you want. We were rejected
seven years in a row. Then came the good news. We had been granted
two tickets for a Saturday night performance of Tannhauser and two
tickets for a Sunday night performance of Tristan und Isolde, at $200
dollars per seat each night. The only trouble was, I had used up all my
vacation time.
Anxiously, I went to the president of my company and said, John, I have
received tickets for Bayreuth next August. Bayreuth is the Super Bowl
of opera, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Might I leave on a Friday
and return late on Monday, and make up the time? He knew nothing
about Bayreuth or opera but said mine was a dumb plan. You would
have terrible jet lag and wouldnt enjoy the music. Take all the time you
want, and enjoy. Marian and I immediately made plans to spend a week
in Prague before going to Bayreuth.
This time we prepared. We bought videotapes of the operas, studied the
story lines, and played the CDs over and over.


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The experience didnt disappoint. We arrived at the opera house at 4:00

pm in evening dress. The doors opened exactly at 4:00, and all 2,000

people entered the house together. Also exactly at 4:00, brass players go
onto the balcony of the theater and play a few passages from the first act
of that nights opera. Then the doors are shut tight. (No one can enter
after the music has started.) Soon the lights are dimmed until the theater
is black. After several minutes of silence and darkness, the music begins,
but you cant see any musicians. They are under the stage. Between acts,
everyone departs the hall for a meal, one hour long. First act appetizer,
second act entre, third act dessert, etc. After eating, if there is any time
remaining, attendees stroll in the gardens.
Tannhauser was portrayed in realistic style with glorious choral work.
Tristan was a new production, and the singers were dressed in floorlength black robes with strange, stainless-steel, protruding epaulets on
their shoulders. The settings were abstract but not off-putting, except for
the last act, in which Tristan dies in a tilted, tattered stuffed armchair in
the midst of a stage filled with boulders.
(Side note: When Marian and I visited Bayreuth to see Tristan und Isolde
and Tannhauser, we visited Wagners home, Wahnfried. As I walked up
the stairs and stood on the landing, I was reminded of the story about
the Christmas morning when Wagner hired a string orchestra to play
Siegfrieds Idyll that he had written for his wife, Cosima, as she woke
that day in 1869, honoring the birth of their son, Siegfried. That memory
reminded me of another memory, Glenn Goulds incredibly slow piano
rendition of the piece that I often listened to at our home in Glenford,
Until hearing Wagner, I thought of opera as entertainment, a nice night


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out. Wagner is not opera but drama, philosophic exploration, and questions about the meaning of life. We read that the overarching theme of
the entire Wagnerian output is redemption though destruction. Most
stories usually do not end happily. (Think that over for a while.)
Not only was Wagners music controversial, but so was the man. He lived
in a revolutionary period, and he was a revolutionary, a radical German
nationalist, and an anti-Semite who believed in the superiority of a pure
German culture. The nihilist Nietzsche was an admirer. Wagner was a
philanderer, and he was a debtor, a rampant egotist, and sometimes a
political exile.
None of that matters.
Wagner was an extraordinary musician, a gifted poet and writer, a
serious student of myth and history, a brilliant creative artist. His works
changed the definition of music. He created evocative music that touched
the brain and heart, generating deep feelings and memories that linger.
His work leaves me with the feeling that there is even more special
meaning to it than meets the eye and ear.
The San Francisco Opera produced Wagners Ring about five years
ago after a 25-year hiatus. Wagners Ring Cycle consists of four operas,
normally played over five nights. In preparation for the Ring I watched
videotapes, read librettos and listened to recordings by famous singers.
We flew from Ohio for a week to attend.
To sit through 15 hours of the Ring is enough for me, although I can
understand the effort made by Wagnerian groupies, who go every year
wherever the Cycle is being played. I love Wagnerian opera now.
Here is my advice to first timers:


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LISTEN. The singers accompany the orchestra; the orchestra does not
accompany the singers.
RELAX. Dont be in a hurry to see progress in the story; it unfolds VERY
STUDY. Read the libretto or a precis. Watch a video recording so when
you watch live you will know what is happening.
P.S. I was prompted to write this piece after reading Martin Geeks book,
Richard Wagner: a Life in Music. Something strange happened. While
reading sections on particular operas, I literally heard familiar passages
from those operas in my head. (Seriously.) I heard the pedal point E
flat that opens Das Rheingold, a note that lasts almost four minutes; the
opening music of Tristan und Isolde that sounds like yearning, the
mood that underlines that entire opera; the fire music that surrounds
Brunhildas punishment; the Dresden Amen in Parsifal. Each of the
operas has left a deep impression.


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Xavier Cugat Didnt Like

My Beguine
Some college students earn extra money by working in restaurants, writing term papers for fellow students, or babysitting. I did all of
those things.
One summer, I bused trays at an upscale hotel restaurant in Swampscott,
Massachusetts, and danced with the old ladies who had no escorts. But
my best source of income came from playing the Hammond organ in
roller-skating rinks and bars.
In the summer of 1946, I took organ lessons from Melody Mac, the
organist at the mighty pipe organ in Wanamakers department store.
He also had a daily 15-minute radio show. Listeners called in the titles
of songs, and if Melody Mac could not remember the tune, the listener
won a prize. That summer I worked on a road gang during the day, went
home for supper, and then headed downtown for one or two hours to
practice that weeks lesson.
I was a poor sight-reader, but Melody Mac didnt care. He sat at the
piano, and I at the Hammond organ, and he played standards up to
speed while I struggled along. In time, I learned enough tunes to get a
job by knowing chord structure and reading fake cards. (Fake cards
are 3-inch x 5-inch cards that came in the mail each month with melody
lines, chord changes, and the words to the latest songs. I think I paid $12
a year for 15 or 20 new tunes each month.)


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My income for playing in a bar on Wednesday and Friday nights and

at a roller rink on Saturday afternoons was $7 per hour. That was huge
money in the late 40s. I usually had more cash in my wallet than any of
my fraternity brothers, and I always had enough money for meals.
But I had limitations. The only Latin tempo I mastered was the beguine,
and I was far enough along in my skills that I could adapt almost any tune
to a beguine beat.
Then, one fall, the fraternity association at Penn decided to hold a charity
event in Irvine Auditorium, the massive medieval chapel in the center of
the campus. The building had a wonderful theater organ, and I was asked
to play after the doors opened, and then again after the show. I agreed
and started practicing on the monster; four ranks, hundreds of voices,
percussion, and all the bells and whistles of those wonderful, juicy,
romantic theater organs of the 1930s. After weeks of practice, I made
the instrument sound presentable and was ready for my performance.
The guest of honor that night was Xavier Cugat, whose orchestra
was playing at one of the downtown hotels. He was to stop by midway
through the event, make a few remarks, and leave. When he came on
stage, I was sitting at the organ in the pit. In front of a thousand people,
he looked down at me and said, Lets have a little rhumba music. I
didnt know any rhumba music or how to construct the beat. So I broke
into my favorite beguine.
He looked down at me with the meanest stare you have ever seen. No!
he shouted. A rhumba, please. I flashed back my dumb look and continued my rendition of Begin the Beguine.
He turned to the audience and made the sign of circling his ear with his


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finger, meaning, Hes loco.

Cugat realized he had lost the audience and me, so he went on with a few
inane remarks. I was irritated and mad that I had been made to look so
inept. I decided that I would end the evening with my flashiest number,
the song Lover, played first as a beautiful waltz and then in a raucous,
jazzy two-beat with all the bells and whistles.
Years later, I was still fuming. At least, he should have brought his discovery, the inimitable Charo: Flamenco guitarist, comedienne, dancershe
of umpteen The Love Boat episodes and Johnny Carson appearances.

One of the leading bandleaders to spread Latin music in the US, Xavier Cugat,
and his spouse, the talented and inimitable Charo.


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The Good Stuff?

Our senior-high- school trip in 1946 was to Washington, D.C. One
morning was spent at the new National Gallery, then only five years old.
One room was devoted to the Dutch artist, Vermeer. So began a lifetime
of trying to see all 34 of his paintings. In fact, that trip began a lifetime
of collecting, studying, and appreciating art. It set into motion visits to
many important museums, haunting sales galleries in New York, and
buying local or regional artists wherever we lived.
Marian and I both worked, but buying big-name artists was out of the
question, although it was exciting to visit Madison Avenue galleries and
look at works by Picasso, Gauguin, and Matisse that were for sale.
My quest to see every work by Vermeer took a downward turn when the
National Gallery in D.C. started removing their trove, relabeling them
as in the school of or in the manner of. Even so, the Rijksmuseum in
Amsterdam has several, and the Frick in New York has three Vermeer

424. The Milkmaid

425. The Lacemaker

25. The Astronomer

Not that I actually had a checklist with all the Vermeers in the world to see.
A favorite of mine, Mistress and Maid, particularly amazed me. Up close:
smudges. Stand back: brilliant clarity.


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beauties, including Mistress and Maid.

People often ask, What is good art? I have a foolproof answer. Art
is good if you want to steal it. I saw a Van Gogh drawing of an almond
orchard and literally imagined I could take it off the museum wall and
run with it under my coat.
Good paintings have several characteristics: They usually contain
something that is surprising or unexpected. Also, they must have staying
power. Even after ten years a good painting will still please you. You
might even find something new that you had not noticed before.
The only way to acquire an experienced eye is to look, look, look at
art wherever you are: London, New York, Los Gatos, Amsterdam, San
Francisco, Manila, et al.
Some ways of learning about art are dead ends, however. We subscribed
to Artforum, Art in America, and Art News, but most of the articles in
magazines are puff pieces about current shows and are rarely critical
looks at the work. Look at art. Reading about it doesnt help much.
You should also talk with people who love and collect art. Columbus
arts patron Babs Sirak had the means to acquire museum-quality
works, multimillion-dollar paintings by Degas, Monet, Nolde, Klee,
and dozens of others. But I also credit her for telling us about a rural
museum in Holland off the main path that contains one of the largest
collections of Van Goghs in the world272 paintings and drawings.
At the Krller Mller Museum, a wooded, quiet setting near Arnheim,
you can see his early masterpieces, The Potato Eaters and Terrace
of a Caf at Night.
Accumulating art is an obsession, usually said to be an ego support, and
it is. We took it very seriously because it enriched our lives and provided

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access to a world completely separate from our usual lives. But the artist
teaches you to seecolor and all its subtleties, light, shapes, perspective, dissonance, ambiance, relationships. The authentic artist will take
chances. His art will go beyond decoration. Good art may not be pretty.
Art, to be worthwhile, must pack a punch; it must provide surprises and
delight after ten years of hanging on your wall.
Artists have little tricks. Leslie Cope says, All blue skies need a little
pink mixed in. I put a single dot of bright color wherever I want the viewer
to first focus on the painting.
Art is a mystery. How much is art worth? Answer: Whatever someone is
willing to pay. Art fads come and go. Yesterdays hot painter may disappear in a flash, while an unknown is suddenly discovered, and collectors
line up with salivating dealers. Is art merely decorative? Or is some of
it of deep cultural significance? Think of the cave paintings in Lascaux,
France, said to be 17.000 years oldor the paintings in Pompeii, both
erotic and fanciful.
Art is fleeting. Our collection has been through two downsizings, donations to museums, and gifts to our children. We miss some pieces that
have gone, a recumbent nude by Bellows, for example. But we are fleeting, too, and I am told that you cant take it with you.
Too bad.
Side Note: Keith Boyle, a retired art professor at Stanford, studied the
physics of color and used those theories in his color selections. (We
agreed that the wavelengths of color provided the viewer with energy.)
When he and his wife separated, each wrote asking me to take his or her
side in the family arguments. Well, Uncle Tom advised them that their


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problem was their lifestyle: both were too busy doing things instead of
spending quality time with one another. Within a year she ended her law
practice, he retired from Stanford, and they bought a farm in Oregon. He
painted and she raised dogs.
Art collection can get complicated.


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Artists We Have Known

Our first purchase coincided with the birth of our first daughter,
Elizabeth, in the 1950s. We hired Anna Schreiber as housekeeper when
Marian and Tish returned from the hospital. One evening when I drove
her home, Anna said that she wanted to show me something in her apartment: a closet full of paintings by Leslie Cope, an Englishman working
as a designer at the McCoy Pottery and a competent regional artist who
lived in Roseville, Ohio. His realistic paintings were of rural countrysides,
many with horses.
Within a year, I earned my first
bonus. I rushed home from work
to discuss with my wife how
we might use the money. We
decided to pay our bills. When
that was done, I had $40 unaccounted for. That money started
our art collection. I went to an art
gallery in downtown Columbus
and bought our first painting,
Copes Frosty Morn, a depiction of a farmer feeding his cows
in a shed, for forty dollars. We
were off and running.
We wanted to do more than

Artist Leslie Cope became a good friend.

From time to time we went sketching
or painting. I always had trouble with
perspective. As needed, he leaned over
my easel and corrected the angles with a
quick flourish. He and his wife, Velma,
honeymooned at the farm.


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acquire fine art. We had some ideas. The Bryson Building at the corner
of Columbuss Parsons and Bryden roads devoted two office spaces as a
public art gallery. The buildings owner paid Frances Piper, the art critic
for the Columbus Dispatch, to arrange monthly shows. In time, I asked
Frances if she would be interested in arranging a show for Leslie Cope,
and she said yes. Marian and I offered to provide sherry and a lute player
for the opening, and we would also send out postcard invitations. I called
Leslie and asked him to make a drawing for the invitation, which he drew
in our living room.
The show was successful. So began a lifelong relationship with Leslie
and Frances. (Leslie later honeymooned at our farm.)
Frances later told me that her artist son, John (who went by Jack),
was looking for a house in the country to rent. I happened to know of a
place about five miles from our farm, and he was soon embedded there.
(I played the organ at his wedding.)
Jack Piper and his new wife took a trip to Greece, where they met
Jonathan Kaufman, a woodcut artist from London. They invited him to
visit them when he returned to Ohio. When he arrived, Jack called to
ask if we could house Jonathan while he was here. We agreed, Jonathan
unpacked, and another lifelong relationship was born.
Sometimes artists become friends who will let you see their work in
progress. Jonathan Kaufman came to the States every four years, usually
during the presidential elections. He rented a car and toured the United
States with his folding stool and a watercolor set. As he traveled, he sat
in small towns and painted local scenes that people bought, thus financing his trip. He stayed with us before and after his road trips, painting
or drawing every day. We watched his images emerge. We have visited


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Jonathan in London and in Shrewsbury, England. Even today, we stay in

touch weekly by e-mail.
As we acquired more art, we befriended other artists: Bill Kortlander,
Keith Boyle, Barbara Chavous, and others. We learned that unless an
artist has a day job, he or she usually lives on the edge of poverty without
health insurance or a bank account. Those who try to make a career of
art alone often fail, even though they may be talented. Struggling artists
welcome a patron who will buy their work and pay monthly. Before long,
we had a house full of art.
Side Note: The artistic temperament is fascinating. It is often opinionated, sometimes deficient in normal social skills, and perhaps even shy,
but it is also street-smart and self-sufficient. Jack Piper was penniless
most of the time and had bad teeth, but he drove a classic Jaguar convertible as his only sign of wealth.

When Leslie Cope was younger, he made many etchings, such as this blackcapped chickadee. When I asked him why he didnt do more, he told me his
eyesight was not as good as it had been.


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Paintings and Sculptures

Beyond My Means
T he Pace Gallery was a first-rate gallery in New York that opened
in 1960. It was managed by one of the Glimcher brothers. Another of
the Glimcher brothers moved to Columbus, Ohio, to build and manage
shopping malls.
Their mother also moved to Columbus. She opened a satellite Pace
Gallery, which offered many of the same artists featured in New York.
She acquired a big, old mansion on Broad Street not far from East High
School. During my lunch hour, I left work to visit the gallery on a monthly
basis. On my first visit, I noticed a five-foot-tall Giacometti Walking
Man bronze by the stairway. An old adage mentions a champagne taste
and a beer pocketbook. That was my predicament. Mrs. Glimcher was
asking $21,000 dollars for the bronze. I couldnt imagine spending that
much money on art, even for something I coveted.
I became a regular visitor, and Mrs. Glimcher recognized my intense
interest. She advised, I would suggest that you start buying great art
by beginning small. I will let you pay on time. I have a nice collection of
Picasso pottery, and that would be within your means.
After doing some homework, I learned that the pottery came in multiples
and that Picasso probably never touched the pieces, so I passed.
A few months later, the gallery had an opening featuring Louise Nevelson,
with the great lady in attendance. Marian and I went to the opening.


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Nevelson was a tall, exotic woman with long, long fake eyelashes, wonderful silver jewelry, and a swirling black gown that was more costume
than dress. Again, her art for sale consisted of floor-to-ceiling wall pieces
starting at $10,000.
If you are an art buff, you are now beginning to understand what a horrible mistake it was not to rush to a bank and borrow the money by selling
your children and the pussycat. The Giacometti and the Nevelson are
worth millions today.
But my story shows more bad judgment.
The Columbus branch of the Pace Gallery closed. Mrs. Glimcher publicly
opined that the town was not yet ready for such important art. Charles
Foley, her assistant and framer, opened a gallery down the street and
acquired some of her inventory. If you wanted to buy a name in the art
world, the Foley Gallery was the only place in town.
Later, during a visit to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., I was
delighted by a show of floor screens by prominent artists. One in particular attracted me: a depiction of a swimming pool by David Hockney.
The screen consisted of nine panels of handmade paper, on which, while
wet, Hockney had applied powdered color. The edition was number
twelve. The only feature was a bright yellow diving board jutting into
the frame from the bottom. The screen was stunning. When I returned
to Columbus, I inquired if multiples existed and, if so, what they would
cost. I waited two weeks.
The phone rang in my office. The gallery was calling. The man said, I
have good and bad news for you. Yes, one of the nine-paneled swimming
pools is available, but the problem is, you cant afford it. Its $101,000.


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Foiled again! As a consolation, he said he had several Henry Moore

bronzes in the $8,000 range. I went to see them. They were about three
inches tall. And I passed.
Thereafter, I changed my philosophy of art collecting. Dozens of gifted,
competent artists are doing work without benefit of expensive, overpriced New York galleries. In fact, I have heard too many stories of
regional artists who were horribly disappointed when a New York
gallery accepted their work for a three-week stint during which nothing
happenseven when given a one-inch mention by a noted newspapers
art critic.
But I do think of my lost millions from time to time.


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My Life on Stage
and Around It
During my college years at the University of Pennsylvania, extra
hands were often needed to help with traveling productions when they
came to Philadelphia. The pay was miniscule, but every dollar helped to
buy a ham-and-cheese sandwich at lunch each day.
Martha Graham and her troupe were scheduled to appear at the university. The call went out for help with lighting and other stage chores.
I signed up for lighting. I arrived at the stage door at Irvine Auditorium
and walked out on the stage. About 20 members of the troupe were lying
flat on their backs, stretching and rolling around on the floor. I had no
idea who Martha Graham was or how she danced. Her performance was
a puzzle.
The first section was called Circus, and it began with some ribbons
hanging to the floor from above. As the music started, the ribbons parted
and formed a tent shape. Graham and her dancers cavorted in dance
forms I had never seen beforeangular, a lot of writhing on the floor,
the choreography somewhat incoherent.
I was stationed in the balcony behind a spotlight that was supposed to be
kept on Martha. My performance was adequate. Her solo performance in
the next piece greatly amused everyone. She wore a huge body stocking,
so large that she was entirely wrapped in the cloth, with arms and legs
pushing out of the material like sails.


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A few months later, a call went out for extras for a pageant written by
Ben Hecht, with music by Kurt Weill, entitled A Flag Is Born. The play
was about the birth of Israel, the Holocaust, and the history of the Jewish
people. I played a diplomat in the UN scene and wore a tuxedo with a
red sash. Stella and Luther Adler played principle roles. (Stella was the
queen of New York drama coaches. She and her brother were regulars in
Yiddish theater.) In one scene concerning death, she had to cry. Before
the curtain went up on that scene, she sat quietly on stage, alone and still.
As the curtain when up, tears gushed down her face, night after night.
It was a marvel.
The next summer, I was a busboy at the Preston Hotel in Swampscott,
Massachusetts. The hotel was the place where the stars of summer
theater stayed when they played in nearby Swampscott. Paul Muni was
the first to arrive, then the Marx brothers, and then Lucille Ball. Groucho
didnt look like Groucho because he didnt have that big lampblack mustache, and the other brothers were not in costume. Lucille Ball arrived
alone driving a huge, blue Cadillac convertible. As a teenager, I was starstruck by all of them, but didnt have the courage to ask for autographs
or talk to them. However, I did bus their dirty dishes.
My life on the boards has been more derivative than real, but Ive had my
share. In junior high, I was the town crier in the Christmas pageant, and
in the high-school senior play, I was the husband to our ingnue, Nancy
Sparks. Wow!
In the 1970s, in Palo Alto, a music teacher wrote a musical about school
life, and the teaching staff decided to put the play on for the community
as a fundraiser. They wanted someone from the administration to participate, and I got the job. My role was to play the school janitor who had


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a love affair with the principal. I had one solo song and two duets, as well
as some ensemble singing. (I had sung in a church choir for many years.)
At the first piano rehearsal, the musical director screamed, No! You are
singing through your nose! After some instruction, I learned how to
breathe properly. The pianist recorded my songs, and every night before
I went to bed, I paced up and down our living room singing my lyrics.
After a brief piano overture, the janitor parted the curtains and sang the
Janitors Song. On opening night, I parted the curtains, saw the audience, and said to myself, What the hell are you doing here? Fortunately,
janitors are not supposed to have great singing voices, so it didnt make
any difference. My love duet with the principal went a little better. She
had a wonderful firm soprano, and I could add a little soft harmonybut
not as an equal. We earned respectful applause.


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The Most Beautiful

Thighs on Earth
It was a Sunday afternoon. I was on a weekend pass in San Francisco,
and I had several hours to kill before thumbing a ride back to Camp Cooke.
I was walking down Market Street when I spotted a handsome 1920s
movie theater. The marquis announced an afternoon performance by
Josephine Baker, the Paris-based American chanteuse. Not knowing what
to expect, I bought a ticket and took my seat to await the performance.
Josephine Baker was as famous as Edith Piaf, but for different
reasons. Yes, she could sing those lively French love songs, but she
was best known as a dancer,
dancing nude, wearing only
a skirt of fake bananas. She
was a world-famous star of the
Folies Bergre and Gay Paree
jazz clubs. During World War
II, she was a member of the
French underground, sending
coded messages in her music
to the Allies. She was honored
with the Croix de Guerre, and
made a Chevalier in the French
Legion of Honour. In later years,


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she started an orphanage and adopted dozens of children.

The theater was nearly full with a typical Sunday afternoon audience:
mostly families and many children. After a movie, the stage show began.
Baker sang, danced, and chatted with the audience and received a wonderful ovation. The backup band was excellent, playing its jazz with
energy and strong syncopation.
As the show was coming to a close, Baker invited all of the children in
the audience to join her on the stage. Twenty or thirty kids went up, and
Josephine started dancing and asked the children to do the same. One by
one, she sent the kids back to their seats until she was down to one who
was mimicking her movements with uncanny accuracy. Then a second
show began. She sang and danced encore after encore, with the little
girl shadowing every move. It was magic, and the audience roared with
approval. This was the definition of pure entertainment. We cheered and
clapped, until finally it ended.
And those thighs. I had never seen such wonderful thighs.
During the 1920s, many Parisian artists drew posters for Bakers shows,
nearly all in the art deco style. Her long legs were always exaggerated.
Small pointed toes swelled to a smooth gastrocnemius, and then flowed
to a nude, voluptuous thigh.
In the early 70s, Baker returned to the States to raise money for her
orphanage. When the dates for her San Francisco appearances were
announced, I immediately bought tickets for the show. I wanted Marian
to see the great lady, and I wanted to see those memorable thighs again.
Sadly, the show was an enormous disappointment. The voice was gone,
and Baker could not remember the lyrics. Little 3 x 5 cards were posted


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all over the set with her words and cues. She included several of her
orphan charges in the show, and their talent was minimal, compared to
the little girl on that Sunday afternoon. Baker danced, but not with great
vigor. Her costumes exaggerated her long legs.
But at 60 years of age or more, she still had those stunning thighs.


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The Brahms Requiem and

the Verdi Requiem (Twice)
T he first time I heard Br ahms s R equiem (the Latin word for
funeral mass) I was stationed in Bad Nauheim, 25 miles north of
Frankfurt, Germany. A large Lutheran church was located in the center
of this quaint spa town. Signs around town announced the concert as the
first time the Requiem would be performed in Germany since the end of
World War II. The orchestra was the Frankfurt Philharmonic.
We rarely consider that 6.5 million Germans died in the war, including
the German Jews murdered in the Holocausta total nearly one tenth
of the entire German population at the time. The countrys young men
were decimated. In 1953, a pall hung over the population.
On the night of the concert, I took my seat in the balcony of the church
transept. The audience entered, nearly all dressed in black. The scene was
somber, and the air of sadness palpable. The Church was jammed, with no
room allotted to separate the orchestra and chorus from the listeners. Not
an inch of floor space was seen. After a glorious concert and a smattering
of applause, the people left without speaking, too moved to talk.
How can I tell you about Verdis Requiem? Words are not enough.
Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi wrote Aida, La Traviata, Otello,
Rigoletto, Falstaff and about 25 more operas in the mid-1800s. He is
Italian opera.


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Verdi was a declared atheist; his wife a staunch Catholic. Verdis mass
that followed the Roman Catholic text was a great success from its first
performance. It is scored for a huge orchestra, double chorus, and four
soloists. It begins with a whispered choral entry: Rest in peace. Then
it soars to a gigantic, thunderous rolling climax in the Dies Irae (Day
of Wrath), and ends with a quiet plea for forgiveness. It is not an opera,
but is operatic.
One year in Columbus, Ohio, our church choir scheduled the Verdi
Requiem as one of our annual concert performances. Our choir had 85
voices. The director, Dick Johnston, had studied conducting with Pierre
Monteux. Looking back, it is amazing that we were able to do it. Dick
hired a brass ensemble, bass and kettle drums, and an organ for the
string passages. The four soloists were professionals living in Columbus.
The Sanctus is comprised of a double choir singing against one another
at top speed with a crashing finale. It took weeks to sort that section out,
but it was finally mastered. We gave two performances to a packed sanctuary of 2,000. Our organ had 32-foot-tall bombards, and the vibration
when they were sounded pierced ones body.
Years later, we were in London after the civil war in Nigeria. When Biafra
seceded from Nigeria, the Nigerians launched a bloody police action to
reclaim the territory from 1967 to 1970. Two million people died from
the fighting and starvation. Public sympathy was with the Biafrins, and
money was raised around the world to provide needed aid.
The Verdi Requiem was performed in St. Pauls Cathedral as a fundraiser. We took our two daughters and sat in the balcony. The church was
packed. Full orchestra, huge chorus and four excellent soloists.


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St. Pauls is massive, and famous for its weddings (Diana) and funerals
(Churchill). But it has a quirk. It is so large that the echo is said to last
11 secondsnot a place to enjoy the Verdi Requiem with its complicated
choruses, frequent sotto voce passages, and thunderous fortissimo highlights. In short, the Requiem was mushy, but beautiful, nonetheless.


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Music, Music, Music

Once a week in elementary school, the teacher rolled in a phonograph
and played some program music under the rubric, Music Appreciation.
We listened to Night on Bald Mountain, The Sorcerers Apprentice,
or Till Eulenspiegels Merry Pranks. The teacher related the story, and
we were to imagine the events as they occurred, including Tills hanging.

My family thought I might have some musical aptitude. After family
Sunday dinners at the paternal grandparents house, I sneaked out after
dessert and pounded on the living room piano until Aunt Velma rescued
every one with a song or two. As a consequence, Mother and Dad bought
me a spinet piano when I was eleven. Dad talked about sending me to the
Curtis Institute for serious lessons, but instead they hired a woman who
played piano in a bar.
Her approach was to have her pupils play real tunessimplified, yet
recognizable, melodies. She never introduced scales, exercises, or any
of the basics. I loved it, and practiced three or four hours a day. After a
while, she introduced me to stride piano and sheet music with the tunes
of the day. Mother had a sweet soprano voice and sang along when I
played a song she liked. I sang, too. One day she was standing behind me
listening, and she blurted, Your father couldnt sing, either.


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Nonetheless, I joined the junior-high-school choir, and was selected to

sing in an octet. Our big number was When Day Is Done, which we
sang during concerts. My music lessons continued with Mr. Arnold, the
junior-high-choir director. Before too long, I could play a passable Clair
de Lune and Golliwogs Cakewalk. My secret: practice, practice, practice each phrase, but never sight-read the music as I played. Everything
by memory.

The next major step was learning to play a Hammond organ. One
summer, I worked on a road gang during the day and took music lessons
with radio personality Melody Mac on the Hammond organ at night.
Lessons were mostly comprised of playing modern and show tunes up
to speed as he played piano and I struggled along at the console. In time,
I could play well enough to obtain a job in a small bar on Wednesday
and Friday nights, and at a roller skating rink on Saturday and Sunday.
My gimmick at the bar was to have a spinet next to the organ. I played
a melody on the piano with my right hand, and the organ with my left
hand and feet. Frankly, by legitimate musical standards, I was faking it,
but at seven dollars an hour I was making a fortune for a college student.


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When I was drafted, the chaplain at Camp Cooke in California had me
play the organ for Wednesday-night prayer service, and Sunday church
services. I insisted on having hours and hours of practice, because I
still didnt sight-read: how convenient in a basic training-barracks

After being discharged, I moved to a bachelor pad in Columbus, Ohio,
and began a record collection, primarily classical. I met an attractive
young lady who sang in the Broad Street Presbyterian choir. Under the
guise that I came to drive her home, I soon became a member of the
baritone section. The choir was a large one: 85 voices. The director, Dick
Johnston, who had trained in conducting with Pierre Monteux, was a
voice professor at Capital University. The choir sang the great liturgical
literature: Bach, Handel, Brahms, Mozart, etc. We performed Verdis
Requiem with an orchestra and organ, and, of course, Messiah every
Christmas and the Faure Requiem at Easter. I still didnt sight-read very
well, sat next to someone who could, and sang along enthusiastically.

Marian and I bought season tickets to the Columbus Symphony and the
Columbus Opera. The symphony wasnt very good, but they had firstrate soloists: Isaac Stern, Eileen Farrell, Yehudi Menuhin, etc. After our
daughters went off to college, we installed a decent audio system at our
new house on our weekend farm and had music on whenever we were
home. I bought all the symphonies of Mahler and Sibelius and played
them pretty much ad nauseum.


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When we moved to the Saratoga Retirement Community, I wondered if
I might have any of my keyboard skills remaining. We bought an electric piano with bells and whistlesrhythm section, 37 voicings, and
earphones so I could practice without disturbing anyone. It has been a
disappointment. I have had a stroke, and the previous paralysis of my
left hand restricts movement. I practice a little, and mostly enjoy the
memories the practice evokes.
And, I still cant sight-read. Damn!


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Building a Love for Books

When I was growing up, our neighborhood drugstore had a lending
library. Mother read best sellers, and she went to the drugstore to put her
name on the waiting list for a hot book. Dad worked at the Philadelphia
Evening Ledger. The newspaper received books as review copies. Dad
brought them home if the paper did not plan to review them. I remember
one was Native Son by Richard Wright, among others.
The first book I ever received as my own was a Christmas gift from Aunt
Helen and Aunt Tootie. It was a story about a ten-year-old in a circus
environment. I was befuddled. Id never had a book of my own that wasnt
a schoolbook. I tried to read the book again and again. Id get to page
twenty and balk. What was I supposed to expect? Why read a book? Who
were these people? Why were there so many pages? I treasured the book
as a gift, and kept it in my bedroom, but never finished it.
In high school, we were given book-reading assignments, such as Silas
Marner, among others. Some students devoured them and seemed so
smart when we discussed them in class. The people never seemed real
to me. They were fictitious and distant. Reading was work, intrusively so.
Then it was off to college. Most universities have several professors
who are favorites of the students. This is often because the lectures are
stimulating, even entertaining, and because it is usually easy to get a
good grade without too much work. At the University of Pennsylvania in
the late 1940s, that professor was Dr. Harbison. He was in the English
department, and his classes were always oversubscribed.


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Harbison believed that in every major historical era, a relationship

existed between architecture, literature, music, and art. His lectures
were lavishly illustrated to prove the point and included recordings of
the music of the era. During the first day of his cultural survey class, he
passed out an extensive reading list. The students were expected to read
massive amounts of text between lectures.
For whatever reason, I never got around to finishing his reading assignments, probably because I was struggling to keep up with calculus and a
tough organic chemistry class. I was hopelessly behind, but I passed the
course easily because the final was an essay question that didnt require
much specific feedback on the readings.
I was not disinterested in literature; its just that it took too much time.
Even after graduation, I was despondent that I had not read through
Harbisons reading list.
So when did I discover books and invest myself in them?
Soon after college, I was drafted into the Army during the Korean War.
Following basic training, I was granted a two-week leave before my next
assignment. I decided to visit Dr. Harbison and ask if I might have one of
his reading lists. His office was located in the old administration building
on the second floor. I knocked, but no one answered.
The door was ajar, and, on instinct, I entered, thinking that perhaps he
was nearby and would return soon. I went in, sat down, and waited for 30
minutes. His desk was one of those old, square, heavy, oak things. The
top was clear of papers, paper clips, pencils, or anything else.
Then the imp in me asked, If you were a reading list, where would you
be? In a drawer, of course. I meditated briefly on the nature of theft and


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then opened the top right drawer of the desk. A pile of the reading lists
sat there. Like a private eye on assignment, I lifted one quickly and stole
out of the room, leaving the door ajar.
I stopped at a bookstore and bought a Modern Library copy of War and
Peace, the first book on the list. For several months, I carried the heavy
book under my Army tunic and read a few pages during each hours tenminute break. For the first time in my life, a book transported me. I was
there at the Battle of Waterloo. I practiced saying out loud the names of
the Russian characters. The pronunciations were probably incorrect, but
I knew who they were.
Then I read Madame Bovary, Crime and Punishment, and 20 other masterpieces. The great writing captured me. I was hooked. During my
three years in the army, I read every word of every book on that 25-book
list, beginning with War and Peace.
Harbison never knew it, but I may have been his most devoted student.
And from that time in 1951, I have read a book or so a month. I prefer
non-fiction to books of fiction, for reasons I do not entirely understand.
Some books are read to entertain, to kill time, or to edify. For me, an
Agatha Christie mystery lasts exactly as long as the flight between New
York and London. I do not generally enjoy what might be called a book
club book. There are exceptions. After starting The Help, I couldnt put
it down, and often read when I should have been sleeping.
Occasionally a book has such an impact on me that I vow to read it every
five years until I die, and I have. One such book is only 83 pages long: Zen
in the Art of Archery by German philosopher, Eugen Herrigel.
Since retirement, my reading rate has increased to a book a week. I read


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classics and best sellers, such as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I read
books I should have read years ago, such as The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Last year I found a book entitled, 1,000 Books You Should Read Before You
Die. Goodness gracious, its not possible!
Last week I read Cleopatra by Pulitzer-winning historian Stacy Schiff
and Volume I of Mark Twains posthumous autobiography, published 100
years after he died. Twains writing is flecked with genius and captivates.
Reacting to a good book is very personal. I hope you have had that
wonderful feeling that comes when you become completely absorbed
in great literature.
It aint sex, but it is very, very good.


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Lincolns Portrait
F ifty years ago, I woke in the middle of the night with an urge to paint
Lincolns portrait. For over 50 years, I have read biographies of Lincoln
particularly, Robert Frosts. I located my oil paints and a piece of artists
board about three feet tall and one foot wide. I sat down to start. For some
unknown reason, I decided not to use brushes, but to do the portrait from
memory using my fingers, some Kleenex, and only red, white, and blue
paint. In an hour I was done. After letting the painting dry, I built a frame
from some old molding that was lying around and hung it in the house.
My daughter has it now.


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Have Ticket,
Will Travel


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One summer we drOve tO f lOrIda . Mother bought a purple chenille
bedspread from a roadside stand in Georgia. It was my bedspread for
years. When the family drove to Maine the next summer and visited the
Desert of Maine, we bought a small display of colored sand in a glass
tube. I also remember a 10inch-tall totem pole from an Indian site somewhere. These small gifts remained in our bedrooms over the summer
and usually disappeared during the school year.
When I started to travel as an adult, I still had a desire to buy a small
token of the trip to savor when I got home, like the small bronze head
of Buddha that I bought in Geneva. It sits on a small table next to my
computer. It is obviously a reproduction, but it pleases me to remember the rainy night when I spotted it in a darkened shop. (I know it
is a fake, because I saw another just
like it in a nearby shop.) Sitting on the
same small table is a small ceramic
oil lamp I bought in Amsterdam on a
very cold, rainy Sunday afternoon as I
wandered the streets. The small golden
round lamp has a word incised in the
clay, Om, the Hindu word for god.
At home in Ohio, I lit the lamp when
guests came, as symbol of welcome.
Nostalgia has its roots in ego. Our little


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souvenirs, carefully packed in dirty laundry in our return-home luggage,

remind us of an experience someplace we have been or of a pleasant
experience on a vacation. To my left, I note a larger-than-life, blue plastic
frog from Sanibel, Florida. The frog reminds me that it is from a store
next to the restaurant, The Timbers, where one night we ordered a vodka
martini with a twist. The drink was gigantic, served in a water glass.
When it came, Marian didnt touch hers. She thought it was her ice water.
In an antique shop in Tel Aviv, we bought a group of Luristan knives and
a small axe said to be 3,000 years old. Later, I found one matching ours
in the Persian display at the British Museum, and I began to believe that
ours might be real, even though I know that they are more likely reproductions, based on the bargain price we paid. Craftsmen have learned to
bury newly made objects for a year or so, giving them that ancient look.
We want to be fooled.
One dreary winter we spent six weeks at Sea Ranch on the Mendicino
(California) coast wondering if we should retire there. Route One washed
out north and south of our site, requiring us to get back to civilization by
driving up to the top of the mountain and taking the ridge road south.
Half way, we passed a glass blowers shop in a remote no-mans-land.
We stopped and bought a lovely orange and blue bowl. The next year we
bought a small vase. Both glass objects have survived three downsizings. The glass blower incised our names on the bottom of the bowl, but
he spelled Marians name incorrectlynot a terrible crime, nor does it
decrease our enjoyment of the colorful bowl.
Fifty years ago, people sent postcards from remote spots. After returning home, they were often arrayed in scrapbooks as reminders of the trip.
(Whatever happened to scrapbooks?)


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When wealthy young Europeans were sent on the grand tour, it was
usually intended to be an educational tour to learn about art, as well as
a shopping trip to bring home tapestries, cameos, sculpture, and paintings. Venice was always on their tour, and Murano chandeliers grace
many an English estate.
When Ohioans drive to Florida, they always return with oranges and
marmalade from roadside stands.
Returning from a tour of duty in Germany, my brothers bought me a
fine multifunction wristwatch with self-winding mechanics, the date,
moon phases, a timer, and other do-dads I cant remember. I was 15. The
watch was a wonderful souvenir, and I could not resist prying off the back
cover to examine and tinker with the works. The watch lasted one month
before it was frozen and worthless.
Sometimes souvenirs lose their identities. On that little table next to
my current computer is a tasteful little ceramic bowl in which I keep a
heap of Hersheys Kisses. We have had several of these bowls around
the house for years, but I have no idea when and where we bought them.
They have lost their identity as a souvenir. Now I can enjoy them without
any memoryand enjoy them for the chocolate and their tasteful form
and color.
As Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.


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Flying High
T hings that fly astound me : hummingbirds, bees, ducks, and especially airplanes. No matter how many times I take a trip and fly, I am
amazed. All that deadweight zooming down a runway and suddenly
becoming airborne. I still dont understand how a plane can get into
the air. Colleague and psychiatrist Hugh Missildine told me that if man
were meant to fly, he would have a huge breastbone. The Wright brothers invented a machine we can sit in and fly around the world at thirty
thousand feet. Its eerie and miraculous.
As a young man, I dreamed of the first flight I would take. It happened
in June 1950. A company in Columbus wanted to interview me for a job.
The plane was a DC3. Passengers entered through a stairway in the
tail and then walked forward to their seats, up a steep incline when the
plane was on the ground. I recall both the noise of the engines and the
vibration during takeoff and in the air. I suppose I was frightened, but I
was offered the job.
The Korean War intervened, and I was transported to Europe by troopship and railroad.
After being discharged, I was asked to move to Ohio for a staff job preparing promotional materials and teaching them to the companys salesmen.
The job required flights to sales meetings every quarter for many years
and to New York, to our ad agency, at least once a month. Almost all of
those flights were taken in the TWA Constellation, that beautiful dolphinlike split-tail workhorse. Travel by air still had an aura of luxury, but I
began to regard flying as a routine activity.

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In the late 1950s, jet airplanes were introduced into the commercial
sector. I dont know the date or the kind of plane, but I remember my first
jet flight vividly. Our group flew to Chicago by prop plane and then was
transferred to a jet bound for Los Angeles. In those days, a folding table
was located just behind the first bulkhead, and we sat thereDave Cox,
Jim Jeffries, Herb Smith, Dr. Jack Filer, and me. (I list these names for
memorys sake, and because they are all dead but me.) When we reached
altitude, someone pulled out a quarter and balanced it on edge on the
table. Compared to prop flight, the passage was smooth as ice.
Flights from New York to Ohio took off from LaGuardia, Kennedy, or
Newark. In the late afternoon, the traffic to Newark was fierce, so I
sometimes took the helicopter that flew off the roof of the Pam Am
building located just south of Grand Central Station. Those flights were
chilling. After lifting off, I looked straight down the side of the buildings
into the chasm below. The throbbing vibrations of the helicopter were
not comforting.
Eventually my work required overseas travel, including trips to ThirdWorld countries. The huge Boeing 747 was introduced, and air travel
started to become more impersonal. Flocks of passengers were herded
onto those huge monsters, and flight attendants delivered food and
drinks with boring efficiency. The further you got from major hubs, the
less elaborate the service became. Sometimes you were handed a paper
bag with a sandwich, an apple, and a cookie. The Third-World flights were
crammed with families lugging huge suitcases and packages and even
television sets into the cabins, creating an obstacle course in the aisles.
The most pleasant way to fly was in the company planes. Ross built a
plant in Sturgis, Michigan, in 1949. Sturgis had no commercial aviation,


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but there was a small airport for private planes. The first company plane
to carry people to Sturgis was a single-engine Beechcraft. Fred Snell
was the only pilot. By the time I joined the staff in 1953, we owned a
twin-engine Beech. There was still only one pilot (Fred) and room for six
passengers. We all took turns sitting in the copilots seat. Fred let us hold
our hands on the steering wheel and fly the plane from time to time.
After the merger with Abbott in 1964, the plane became an issue. Abbott
had two planes in Milwaukee and wanted to consolidate the fleet. They
also insisted on hiring a copilot for the twin Beech, so the fun, informal
days were over. Abbott was soon buying jets, including two Gulf Steams.
Fred retired.
Now our travel became slick: movies, catered food, limos to and from
the airports, fully stocked bars, a bathroom aboard. Occasionally an
overseas flight was scheduled, but we usually traveled commercial
outside the U.S.
Fear of flying? Yes, once or twice. Returning from Chicago in the companys twin Beechcraft, we once encountered violent wind over Indiana.
I suppose we were on autopilot as the plane tried to compensate for the
buffeting. The plane started to twist aggressively. In a few moments the
turbulence died down, but we were shaken.
Another time, on a flight from New York, we encountered a thunderstorm, with lightning and hailstones pummelling the swaying plane. I
was traveling with a nurse on my staff. She leaned over to me and said,
May I hold your hand? I am terrified. For the next five minutes, she
gripped my hand like a vice.
During the 1970s and 1980s, I traveled overseas regularly. I discovered


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that an Agatha Christie novel exactly filled in the flight time between
New York and London. Attempts to drink my way across the Atlantic
were failures, because they required a full day of recuperation. Finally, I
learned to go to the hotel after an overseas flight, shower and shave, rest
for an hour, and go out for a long sightseeing walk.
One of my business trips required me to circumnavigate the globe. That
was exhausting and ruined my desire to fly anywhere.
As the airline industry matured, airports became larger and larger.
Some airports erected buildings for individual airlines. At Heathrow in
England, a bus was sometimes required and took thirty minutes to get
to a different gate. In Atlanta, an automated subway moves you hither
and yon. As my back became more distorted, I needed an electric cart
to whisk me to a new gate, or occasionally I needed a wheelchair to push
me where I needed to go.
During fifty years of travel, the food service became worse and worse.
After short-hop meals were discontinued altogether, I once paid eight
dollars for a dry and inedible ham and cheese sandwich. Earlier, commercial flying was a treat. A first-class meal was served with linen, fine
china, crystal, and roasts carved in the galley. Airline chicken became
a national joke. Warm, moist hand towels after meals degenerated into
paper towelettes.
Flying is both intriguing and boring. Fly from Columbus, Ohio, to
Tokyo, and you will wonder why you bothered. I did that once on the
way to the Philippines. (I never longed to fly to Australia because of the
excessive distance.)
I never longed to learn to fly. Some of my friends owned private planes.


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Steve Borik, our human relations vice president, had a summer home
on a lake in Michigan. Each weekend, weather permitting, he flew his
Cessna to the lake. His wife, Barbara, drove there the day before with
supplies and prepared dinner for Steve when he arrived on Friday night.
He buzzed their home, landed nearby, and found his drink waiting for
him on arrival.
He invited us to share a weekend with them, and I flew with Steve. The
cockpit was sun-filled, heading northwest, and the temperature in the
cockpit neared eighty degrees. I could barely stay awake. The drone of
the motor was soporific, and I couldnt wait for some cool, fresh air. Pilots
tell you that flying is 95 percent boredom with a few minutes of terror
every once in a while.
After retirement, most of Marians and my flights took us to cruise ships
sailing from distant ports. Those flights became the low points of the
vacation. Like our aging bodies, the airline industry has been steadily
disintegrating. Too badit was once a treat to buckle up and fly.
But, as Hugh Missledine told me, our breastbones are too small to wave
our arms and fly off to Chicago. Evolution works too slowly to wait for
wings to sprout.
In the meantime, I will stay home and watch travel shows.


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An American in Paris
Paris is an iconic city. A high-school chum had lived there for many
years, and he entertained us boys with the story of how his father took
him to a prostitute to teach him about sex. So, in my feverish teenage
years, I imagined a city where everyone was naked.
While I was stationed in Germany in the early 1950s, the USO planned a
weekend trip to Paris. When we pulled into the city, I noticed that everyone was fully clothed. Our tour bus was loaded with 50 GIs, but I was
traveling with two other young lieutenants. Since that first trip, I have
been back four or five times, and the city never fails to create memories.
The First Trip. My buddies and I were having breakfast in the hotel
coffee shop. We were seated at a window directly adjacent to the sidewalk,
separated from it by a sheet of glass. Along came two men dressed in
work clothes, and they stopped right outside our window. They had two
paper bags. They reached into the first, pulled out two small glasses, and
set them on the ledge at our window. Out came a bottle of red wine. Then
they pulled out a 20-inch-long baguette from the second bag, poured the
wine, tore away chunks of the bread, and had their breakfast, oblivious
to our attention. How Parisian can you get?
Champagne and Girls. We were walking the streets about 5:00 pm
and decided to have a drink before dinner. We walked into a bar and
were shown to a table for six. Immediately three girls appeared, sat down
at our table, and lit cigarettes. As they were getting settled, the waiter


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brought three open bottles of champagne that we had not ordered. I had
spent almost all of my money on the
cost of the trip and had only $40 in
my wallet. I asked the waiter how
much the champagne was, and he
said $10 per bottle. The three of us
realized we had already been duped,
so we coughed up $30 and walked
out. How Parisian can you get?
Les Folies Bergre. We had tickets for the Folies after supper. To
reach our seats, we tramped through a large bar crowded with people.
It reminded me of some famous French paintings by Toulouse Lautrec
and others.
The revue was very well produced, with excellent singers, magicians,
exotic costumes, and, of course, dozens of bare-breasted girls.
However, I was really impressed when, in the final act, a swimming pool
appeared on stage as people were singing, dancing, and diving from
cages above the pool. It was probably the most elaborate production
number I had ever seen. How Parisian can you get?
A Night Not to Remember. On a business trip many years later, I
stayed at the George V, the famous, outrageously expensive five-star
hotel steps from the Champs-lyses. At 6:00 pm, I went downstairs to
have dinner and found the dining room dark. It did not open until 8:00
pm. Okay, I thought, I will go across the street and have a drink and come

back later.


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I crossed the street, found a bar, and ordered a vodka martini. Did you
ever have Russian vodka? the bartender asked. I said I had not. Let
me make your martini with a good Russian vodka to see if you like it.
It was good, so I ordered a second. My watch said 7:00 pm, still an hour
before dinner. Then I made the fatal mistake: I ordered a third martini.
All consciousness ceased.
I woke up in a box seat on the second tier of the Comdie-Franaise. It
was not a play that night, but an orchestral concert. I was still woozy. I sat
quietly until the concert was over, walked out into the night air, grabbed
a cab back to the hotel, and went right to bed and slept like a happy baby.
Outdoor Opera at Versailles. In 1989, Marian and I attended the
International Pediatric Association meeting in Paris. The gala night
sounded wonderful. We were to wear formal evening dress, take a bus to
Versailles, have dinner, and then attend an outdoor opera on the grounds.
The buses pulled into Versailles and right to a building. A guide said that
the first treat would be a display of the famous fountains. We soon hit
the gravel; the women were in high heels. You could hear the grumbling
begin. Expensive shoes, ruined. We arrived at the fountain side of the
palace, but the fountains werent running. So we milled around making
small talk until the fountains were turned on, nearly an hour later.
The sun was still up, but there was a chill in the air, and some of the
ladies gowns were flimsy. The fountains started, and we stood there
another hour as the breeze came up.
Dinner was to be served in the Muse de lOrangerie. So, all 300 people
walked another quarter-mile over gravel to the famous building. The
room was long and narrow. Tables along one wall provided hors doeuvres


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and bartenders. Some tables to sit around were arranged here and there.
Three hundred people had been standing for two hours, and perhaps 50
chairs were available. But we had a drink and something to eat. I didnt
see any dinner tables set.
After another hour of standing around making small talk, we asked when
dinner would be served. We were surprised to find out that no dinner
had been planned. We rushed with plates to the hors doeuvres table and
piled them three inches high. At least we would not starve.
As darkness fell, we were ushered to a grandstand. The breeze was now
bone-chilling. (I estimated it to be about sixty degrees out.) I took off half
my tuxedo jacket. Marian put one arm in, and I cuddled into the other
arm. We still shivered.
The opera was Andrea Chnier, about the French Revolution. But who
cared? We couldnt leave because the buses wouldnt leave until nearly
midnight, and no cabs were standing by. And the worst was yet to come.
As soon as the opera was over, it was announced that our buses had been
moved to a remote parking lot nearly half a mile away, and a guide would
lead us there in the dark over rough terrain. I pitied any persons hobbling
with canes or in wheelchairs. It became a serious ordeal.
When we finally reached the buses, their destinations were confused,
and nobody knew which bus to get on. Finally, someone said to get on and
the driver would do a round-robin of the hotels where the conventioneers
were staying.
It was a horrible adventure.
But Paris isnt all bad. The ham sandwiches on a buttered baguette at the
Louvre were terrific. The Picasso Museum was a marvel. We watched


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Lance Armstrong win the Tour de France. (However, when the French
riders cycled by, the crowds cheered. When Lance Armstrong came by,
only silence.)
The last time we were in Paris, we had a wonderful time with friends,
Donn, Sharon, and Diedre, and nothing but positive experiences.
Merci, Paris!


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Flirting with the Big Apple

Soon after being discharged from the A rmy, I was offered a job
in the home office of M & R Dietetic Laboratories to write and teach
promotional materials. In time I was included in the planning sessions at
our New York advertising agency, William Douglas McAdams. Traveling
to New York was a big deal for a nave young executive.
Mr. McAdams had died, and the president of the agency was Arthur M.
Sackler. Artie was a psychiatrist who had supposedly isolated chemicals that caused some kinds of mental illness. He was the epitome of
the wheeler-dealer, but he spouted endless brilliant ideas that made
his meetings wonderful and mind-boggling. His major accounts were
Pfizer and Upjohn. He created The Medical Tribune, a daily newspaper
for doctors into which all of his clients placed their advertising at 17.65
per cent commission. He had fingers in other drug magazines and
companies. He reportedly brought Valium, the tranquilizer, into the
American market.
Artie was a noted art collector, whose method was to pick an obscure
niche and then buy everything in that field until he cornered the market.
Artie spent money lavishly, and he introduced us bumpkins from Ohio to
the finest New York had to offer: restaurants, theater, nightclubs, opera.
Christmas gifts were lavish and imaginativea Rolex Oyster watch or a
rare, illustrated page from an ancient breviary are just two examples. His
legacy is well known: the Sackler Gallery of Asian Art at the Smithsonian
in Washington, D.C.; the Sackler Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum


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in New York, featuring the Egyptian Temple of Dendur; and an art

museum at Harvard in a building commissioned by British architect
James Stirling.
Theater seats were always in the first or second row center. We were
chaperoned by the current account executive. One AE was John Kallir,
who had access to Rudolph Bings box when Bing, the general manager,
was not using it at the Metropolitan Opera.
After the theater, we visited a nightclub with the hottest acts: dith Piaf,
Erroll Garner, Hildegarde, etc. At the time, I did not appreciate what
we were being treated to. I believed that we were being treated as all ad
clients were.
Instead of returning home on the five oclock plane to Columbus, I normally booked an the seven oclock flight so I could visit a museum or two
after work or visit an art gallery to consider works by Matisse, Picasso,
Jackson Pollock, and Van Gogh available for sale. All were out of my price
range as a salaried husband with a mortgage, a wife, and two daughters.


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New York City presented me with a different vision of life. From time to
time, I took the helicopter from the skyscraper adjacent to Grand Central
Terminal. Lifting off from the roof and looking down over the edge of the
building created chills that I still remember.
Conversely, flying into New York at night over Manhattan was beautiful. In time, the company rented an apartment at 55th and Lexington
Avenues so we didnt have to bother checking into various hotels. My
boss at the time, Jim Jeffries, and I were given 4,000 dollars and told
to furnish the studio apartment. We went to Bloomingdales and met a
decorator in the furniture department who guided our choices. The place
was tiny, but I always felt that I had my own pied--terre in the Big Apple.
How excitable and impressionable youth can be.


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The Sweater
from the Isle of Iona
I n my mid - eighties , I am still riddled with impulses. I recently
bought a sweater that I dont need. Yes, you may assume that I am
now officially senile.
On a quiet afternoon in the mid-1960s, an elderly friend brought one of his
friends to our home in Columbus. The guest was Sir George MacLeod,
a noted liberal theologian from Scotland. MacLeod was known as the
founder of the Iona Community, a religious retreat and study center on
the Isle of Iona, a tiny island off the west coast of Scotland. The medieval
abbey there had fallen into disrepair and was restored as a project of the
community. The history of the island dates to AD 586. The current abbey
was originally constructed about AD 1200.
Iona is a wild, remote place, the burial place of 45 Scandinavian kings,
including Macbeth. Saint Columba, who lived there in the 6th century,
is believed to have Christianized Britain from this wee, isolated island.
MacLeod invited me to visit the community on Iona at a future date,
but he explained that only one bed and breakfast was available, and we
needed to make reservations a year in advance. A year later my family
and I made the trip.
A steamer ferry left Oban on the west coast of Scotland and sailed for the
Isle of Mull. When the boat docked in Mull, a bus was waiting to take us
to the port where we could be transported to Iona. We bumped along for


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35 miles to Fionnphort at the other end of Mull, where we transferred to

an open, motorized dinghy for the trip across the Sound of Iona.
The tiny village of Iona has only one lane along the beach and about 30
stone houses and stores. Off in the distance stood the imposing restored
abbey and Iona Community Center.
After breakfast, we toured the abbey and the adjacent graveyard that
featured elaborately carved Celtic crosses. The abbey, dating from the
1200s, is mostly unadorned and more famous for its illustrious history
than for its bleak Romanesque architecture.
Iona is three miles long and half-a-mile wide, mostly undeveloped. The
few shops featured local crafts. We shopped to buy something to remind
us of the visit. One store featured hand-knit Aran fishermens sweaters,
made with handmade yarn in its natural color. I bought a sweater that
fit me well. I wore it for years, but then I started to gain weight, and the
sweater became too tight. It disappeared, but the memory lingered. I
wanted another one.


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The Internet reaches into eternity. Aran sweaters? Many websites and
dozens of sweaters to buy. I could feel the impulses tugging in my brain.
Buy, buy, buy! The best hand-knit sweaters cost nearly $300. Too indulgent. But a machine-made sweater was one-third of the price. Do it!
Happiness was only a click away.
Remember my sizing problem and the weight gain, I hit upon a solution:
Buy a cardigan. It would fit, no matter my size.
Aran sweaters provide great warmth, but I live in California where the
weather is mild. Why buy a heavy sweater? Because winter is here and
chilly days call for a heavy sweater. Rationalize, rationalize. Click, the
deed is done, the sweater is bought, and my memory transported back
to Iona.


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Italy: Two Women at

Puccinis Summer Home
T he tour bus pulled up about a block away from the edge of Torre
del Lago at the Villa Museo Puccini. As we disembarked, the tour guide
said, Pay particular attention to the two ladies at the museum. I will tell
you a secret about them later in the day.
We gathered at the locked gate in front of the house. At exactly 11:00 am,
a woman about fifty years old came to the gate. Behind her was a woman
much older, maybe seventy or eighty.
Welcome to the Puccini Museum, she said solemnly. This is also
the place where Puccini is buried, so we hope you will be respectful.
The older woman behind her appeared to be scowling, clearly not very
happy to see us. We entered quietly. The first thing I noticed was the
piano inside the front door. It was the piano where Puccini wrote La
Bohme, Tosca, and about eight other successful operas. The keyboard
was covered with a plastic cover so we couldnt play it, and it held a sign
that read: Do not touch.
If nothing else, seeing that piano was enough to justify the trip. But there
was more to come. The piano sat against a wall. On the other side of the
wall was a small chapel where Puccini was entombed in the wall, literally
inches from that piano on the other side. Weird, but fitting.
As I recall, only the first floor was open for sightseeing. Here and
there were costumes worn by famous sopranos in leading roles and


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photographs of Puccini at work and at play. (He was a handsome devil,

usually with a cigarette dangling from his lips.) Frames held pictures
of Caruso and Toscanini. As our group wandered about, the two ladies
hovered, checking to see that we didnt touch or disturb anything. It felt
a bit eerie.
At the appointed hour, we gathered outside the gate again. The younger
of the two ladies locked the gate as if she was glad to see us go. We all
marched to the edge of the lake and boarded a rickety old tour boat for a
ride on the lake with a glass of very bad white wine. A scratchy audiotape
played Puccini arias. The ride was a letdown and a waste of time.
When we returned to the bus, we wondered if the guide would reveal
something that would explain the two ladies at the villa. We did not have
to wait long.
The older woman was Puccinis mistress, and the younger, Puccinis
sons mistress. They have been living in the villa ever since Puccini died,
and they refuse to leave. The Italian government and the Puccini family
have tried over and over to make some sort of settlement with them, but
they are intractable. They say the house and all its contents are theirs
alone. They have good lawyers, and so far they have won every court case
against them. They are very protective of the house and dont really like
having visitors, but they allow one small group a day.
Now we knew something new about Puccini. In addition to being a
master musician, he and his son were very randy.


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Cuddly Danger in
A dventure is usually associated with big-game hunting, bungee
jumping, snake-infested jungles, or trips to remote places. Occasionally
my wife and I had an adventure. We rafted down the Colorado River
through the Grand Canyon, for example.
But one adventure had a softer, gentler feel about it. We flew to Churchill,
Manitoba, to see the polar bears before they went out on a frozen Hudson
Bay for the winter.
The perfect time to go to Churchill is on Halloween. Thats when the
bears are migrating through the town on their way to the tundra to wait
for the coming freeze. We arrived on October 29 to temperatures below
freezing and sharp winds blowing light snow sideways.
Churchill has one main street that is dominated by a few motels, restaurants, and apartment buildings. Side streets lead to some houses,
churches, schools, a post office, a community center, and a few stores.
Most wooden-frame buildings are not more than one or two stories tall.
The airport is located out of town, but a heliport and the railroad station
are located in the downtown area.
On the afternoon we arrived, we were bused to a staging center several
miles out of town at the edge of the tundra. Groups of 15 people were
transferred to tundra buggies, contraptions that look like small buses
with a deck on the back and huge five-feet-tall tires. The bus rumbled


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across the tundra for half an hour before arriving in the dark at a train
of five buggies joined together. Here sightseers could live for a few days
among the bears. The train had a dormitory, a kitchen, a dining room,
and a classroom/living room where passengers stayed during the daylight hours.
We are sure to see bears tonight, said the guide. They tend to hang
around this spot, because they like the odor of the food and antifreeze.
When the spotlights were turned on, eight polar bears were lounging
around, looking benign and cute. The light didnt bother the animals,
and they provided us with an amusing display of bear behavior. Two
bears stood up, sparred, and seemed to be serious about fighting. Others
pushed snow around with their noses, rolled over in the snow, or stood up
against one of those huge tires as if begging for a handout.
We went to bed that first night in Churchill satisfied that our trip had
already been successfuland with the mistaken notion that polar bears
were cute, cuddly, and benign.
The next two days were spent out on the tundra looking for and finding
bears. During those two days, we saw 50 or more. Lunch was served in
the heated buses. When a group of bears was located, the driver radioed
the other buses, and soon a group of buses was gathered on the spot until
the bears wandered away. Little thrills were common. The bears liked to
come to the buggies, stand up on their hind legs, and look directly at the
caged humans, inches away, nose to nose. They did not seem ferocious,
but we were warned repeatedly not to put our arms out of the bus.
On our second night in Churchill, we were bused to a nearby wood-frame
church for a lecture about the history of the town. After the talk, we put
on our coats and gathered in the vestibule to return to the motel.


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Sorry, you cant leave. There is a bear on the front steps of the church.
Weve called the animal control people, someone told us. In a few
minutes, we heard a pickup truck arrive and several firecrackers explode.
Thats all it took. The bear left promptly. The best way to shoo a polar
bear is to make unpleasant noises, such as setting off firecrackers, firing
a gun, or banging on pots.
I stupidly still think that polar bears are not dangerous. But, then again,
when it is Halloween in Churchill, the little children go trick-or-treating
with fathers who carry shotguns. Hmmm. If you were a hungry polar
bear, what would you think of seeing a tot carrying a big bag of candy?

One of our most memorable trips was to admire the polar bears in Churchill,
Manitoba. In late October, the bears wander through town waiting for the
Hudson Bay to freeze over. They appear benign, but the tour guides often
reminded us to keep our arms inside the tundra bus.


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Georgie on My Mind
Georgie Clark was a living legend in the Grand Canyon until she
died of cancer at the age of 81 in 1992. Georgie was a well-known river
rat dedicated to organizing raft trips down the canyon. At eighty, she was
still wearing leopard-print swimsuits. She loved the river so much that
her goal in life was to take as many people as she could down the rapids
as cheaply as possible. She was in business for 45 years. Her trips were
the original no frills excursions. Instead of making fresh salads on the
river, she brought a huge garbage bag of mixed greens and doled them
out day-by-day for six days.
But there is a dark side to this tale. Georgie Clark may have been Bessie
Hyde, who some say murdered her abusive husband while rafting down
the river in 1928. About that time, Georgie Clark appeared and led the
fight to let people use the river for recreational purposes. She was not
liked by the other river outfitters because she was so egotistical, independent, and powerful. (If the water in the river was too low for rafting, she
called the dam people, and they released more water for her.)
She never let anyone into her trailer in Las Vegas. When she died, friends
found a pistol of the correct caliber and some Bessie Hyde documents in
there. The mystery continues. Maybe it was all a hoax.
A business associate who had rafted down the river with Georgie told
us a trip with her was a mustno frills, Georgie center-stage, and
significantly cheaper than other outfitters, including Western River
Expeditions. My wife and I planned a six-day vacation in the canyon with


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her in the summer of 1992.

The previous summer, Georgie discovered she had inoperable cervical
cancer and was going to die. She sold her business to Western River
Expeditions with the proviso that the customers who had signed on for
her 1992 season would not be charged higher rates. So we got to raft
down the Grand Canyon with the premier outfitter at cut rates.
The Western River rafts have often appeared on television. They are
four twenty-feet-long, blue, inflatable bananas lashed together with
a small outboard engine on the back. The advantage of the configuration is that they are flexible in all directions. When they hit rapids, they
bounce and bend.
Most Grand Canyon promotional brochures and television shows
feature the famous churning white water, but that is a distortion of the
experience. Nearly all of the trip is spent floating calmly on smooth
water, with heart- pounding rapids lasting thirty or forty seconds every
once in a while. The real attractions are the astounding views everywhere you look.
The outfitters pulled onto shore at 4:00 pm each day and prepared
insanely complete mealsappetizers, steak, shrimp, even champagne
and cherries jubilee on the last night. As the sun went down, it cast fascinating shadows on the orange, brown, and red rock layers. Sleeping
in a sleeping bag under the comet-filled, starry skies was breathtaking.
Toward the end of Ferde Grofs Grand Canyon Suite. a storm arose.
The music crescendoed and then slowly faded to a new theme once the
storm passed over. We were at a place in the canyon where black, shiny
obsidian walls arose several thousand feet on both sides of the river,


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which had narrowed to about sixty feet. A violent thunderstorm passed

through, sending torrents of rain cascading down the canyon walls. In
ten minutes, the storm was over, and the sun came out. The wet black
rock glistened.
On the sixth day, a helicopter landed on a sand spit and took our group of
fifteen raft passengers out, four at a time. The helicopter flew upriver to
pick up speed and then lifted three thousand feet straight up the sidewall
of the canyon. That flight rivaled anything that happened on the river.
When we came out of the canyon, we were billeted at the Steamboat
Hotel before catching our flight home the next morning. I was in the
bathroom shaving, and Marian was at the bed packing. We were on
the seventeenth floor. Suddenly the room started to sway violently, and
I knew it was an earthquake. The 6.9 quakes epicenter was halfway
between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. I hollered to Marian to meet me at
the bathroom doorway. She almost crawled because walking was so difficult. The serious rocking lasted about thirty seconds and subsided. We
heard loud talking in the hallway. My fear was that the elevators would
fail, and we would have to walk down 17 stories with luggage. But the
elevators remained in operation, and we left for the airport.
The flight was delayed while safety officials examined the runways to
be sure they were intact. We were sitting in the waiting room when an
aftershock hit, and the table I was sitting on vibrated significantly.
Not only had we gotten a cheaper rate on the river because of Georgies
death, but someone also threw in an earthquake at no additional cost.
However, we did lose 80 dollars in the casino the night before.


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Egypt: Saint Katarina

Our destination was S t. K atarina , the ancient monastery in the
desert at the foot of Mount Sinai, where Moses descended with the Ten
Commandments and heard God speak to him from the burning bush.
We flew from Tel Aviv to Sharm el-Sheikh, at the northern tip of the Red
Sea. In the early 1970s, no welcoming hotels had yet been constructed
and the so-called airport was a shack of corrugated tin.
We loaded onto a desert bus along with an armed guard, a doctor, food
for a week, and the guide who mostly spoke French. After spending one
night in an oil-field barracks, we bumped through the hot, dusty Sinai
Desert on dry wadis and old camel trails until we arrived at the monastery late in the afternoon. Hurry, said the guide, the sun is going down
and I want you to see the burning bush before it is too dark.
The stone monastery walls are thirty feet high and surround a group of
ancient buildings: two churches, a dormitory gallery, and the famous
library housing a world-class collection of religious icons, mosaics,
books, and silver. Ten Benedictine monks in tennis shoes live and die
there as the guardians of the priceless treasure. (When a monk dies, he
is buried, but later his bones are dug up, dismantled, and placed in the
ossuary outside the main walls.)
We crowded through the front gate and came to a short flight of steps.
Next to it was a sign showing a finger pointing down. It read To the
burning bush.


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Most tourist groups have someone who is the bane of the excursion, a
person who annoys with a loud mouth, inappropriate remarks, thoughtless actions, and rude manners. Our pariah was a twenty-year-old young
man from Brooklyn who irritated us hourly.
We huddled together on a patio at the foot of the stairs looking at an urn
with a plant in it. From the back of the crowd, we heard his sarcastic
voice, My God, its a raspberry bush. Later, when my daughter lost a
contact lens on the floor of her dormitory, our friend started jumping
all over the area shouting, Where, where?
The next morning, in the cold and dark at about 4:00 am, we awoke and
washed with cold water, then dressed, ate, and joined a camel train to
trek up Mount Sinai to visit the small chapel there and watch the sun

rise over the desert from the peak. I had a toothache and decided to
remain below until my wife and our two daughters returned at midday.
My daughter Elizabeth was a shapely teenager and a knockout beauty.
On the ascent, she offered her camel guide a cigarette. The Bedouin


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immediately went to our tour guide and offered eighteen camels to buy
her. We didnt sell.
If it had been 21 camels, maybebut thats another story.


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Scotland: Fiddling
Around on May Fourth
A re you sit ting down ? How would you like to add a wedding to
the trip?
Donn and Sharon were planning their marriage, and they thought
getting married in Scotland would be something special. Donn knew a
pastor in Moffat, Scotland, who had been a guest preacher at our church
in Columbus, Ohio. Marian would be the matron of honor, and I would
be best man.
A trip around England had been the goal, and now we had a serious
purpose. We traveled up the east side of Britain, through York and
Edinburgh, and up to Inverness in Scotland. The next day we drove that
glorious road from Inverness to Fort Williams, passing Loch Ness and
Loch Lochy.
The night before the wedding, we stopped at a farmhouse bed-and-breakfast on the shore of Loch Lomond. The B&B owners told us about a
nice restaurant on a small island in the middle of the lake. We called for
reservations, and the restaurant sent a small launch to pick us up. The
restaurant was pub-like, and we had a fine meal with lots of wine and
single-malt whiskey. It was well after nightfall when it was time to return
to the farm, but the launch driver was very drunk by now. We piled into
the boat in complete darkness and roared off in a southerly direction at
full throttle.


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Shaken but intact, we reached the dock safely and made our way back to
the farmhouse. We got up early and dressed for the wedding. We drove
all morning, arriving at Moffat about noon. The pastor had arranged a
luncheon for us at the local hotel.
Sharon had a serious aversion to seafood, and the first course was smoked
salmon. Everyone ate heartily, but Sharon passed. The champagne added
to the festive atmosphere and conversation. Our luncheon went off with
no further problems and included a wedding cake as dessert.
A group of boisterous young men sat at a nearby table. Someone told
them that Donn and Sharon were about to be married, and they came
over and crowded around. They were the Liverpool football (soccer)
team. They insisted on signing menus and presented us with a team flag.
At 2:00 pm, it was time to go to the church to see Donn and Sharon get
I had expected a small country church. Instead, Moffat was the seat of
the presbytery, and the small church was a large cathedral. Marian and
Sharon were in light spring clothes, and the church was not heated; we
were all cold. The wedding proceeded with the four of us, a preacher, and
an organist high in an organ loft at the back. The ceremony was over by
3:00 pm. We werent hungry, and it was much too early for supper, so we
went shopping for woolens.
Donn saw a poster announcing a fiddle festival that night in the local
school gymnasium. We decided to go.
We took seats in the middle of a packed audience, and the festival began.
The entertainment included a small band, some dancers, and a few
Scottish comedians telling jokes in a thick dialect.


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The jokes were so Scottish that I couldnt get the gist. So I turned to the
person sitting next to me and asked, Whats the story? After telling me
what the joke meant, the lady said, You are Yanks. What are you doing
in Moffat? I answered that our friends had just been married that day.
Within minutes, the master of ceremonies announced that two Americans
were in the audience and had gotten married a few hours before. They
asked Donn and Sharon to come forward for a solo dance around the
floor. The band started playing American war songs, Dont Sit Under
the Apple Tree with Anyone But Me and others. Others joined Donn and
Sharon on the dance floor, and soon we were having a wedding reception
instead of a fiddle festival. What unplanned fun!
Our hotel was a grand old manor house converted into a hotel. When
we drove away the next morning toward the Lake District, the road displayed a host of golden daffodils. Thanks, Wordsworth.

When Donn Vickers and Sharon Sachs were married we stayed in this beautiful
hotel. It was May, and the daffodils were in bloom.


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On the Briny Deep

A fter our kids were out of college and gone from home, Marian
and I began to think about taking a cruise somewhere. My daughters
in-laws had raved about a cruise through the Inside Passage in Alaska.
On the recommendation of a business associate, we signed onto a Cruise
West trip on a small ship leaving from Ketchikan. We loved it.
Then, on the recommendation of another friend, we discovered the
Radisson Diamond, the largest catamaran in the world. It carried only
400 passengers and a staff of nearly the same number. Over the next ten
years, we took a cruise on the boat nearly every two years. When we got
aboard, it was like going home.
So began a series of incidents well remembered. Most were the result of
small talk aboard ship with strangers. Standing at the rail admiring the
scenery in Alaska, I asked the fellow standing next to me what he did for
a living. I am a tree farmer, he answered.
Thats interesting, so am I. I have an old hill farm in Ohio, and we
planted 40 acres of pines on the hillsides and on top of the hills. How
many acres do you have planted?
Forty thousand. We are one of the largest Christmas tree growers in
America. Much of the land is in Wisconsin, but we also have property
in Montana and Washington. We live in Hawaii, and I work one month a
year. My children operate the business for me.
Incredibly, the same thing happened again on a different boat. What do


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you do? I asked.

I am a tree farmer.
Interesting, so am I. How many acres do you have planted?
Four thousand acres. We live near the top of Mount Hamilton, south of
San Francisco, on ground leased from the government.

Thereafter, I was always hesitant to ask anyone again what he or she did.
But small talk provided another surprise.
We met an interesting couple on the Diamond. The wife was English and
a bit wacky. The first time I saw her, she was in the middle of the swimming pool holding an umbrella to keep the sun off. It was Thanksgiving,
and we invited the couple to have turkey dinner with us. The husband
was a heavy-set, quiet man who rarely spoke unless asked a direct question. The spirited, wacky wife kept conversations alive. She was from the
Isle of Jersey, in the English Channel, and his accent revealed New York


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or Brooklyn. They were in their sixties.

Half way through dinner, they asked me what I did for a living. After a
brief discussion of my work, I turned to him and asked the same.
I am the attorney for Idi Amin.
While he was in power in Uganda?
And now, when he has been deposed and has fled the country?
I didnt want to know more. I changed the subject and never brought it
up again. They lived in Miami. For several years they called and invited
us to visit them when we went to Sanibel in January. It never worked out.
If you spend enough money on cruising, you build a file that results in
invitations to the captains table and to other private affairs. We had such
an invitation on the Diamond. It was to be a cocktail party sponsored
by a travel association in honor of valued travelers. We arrived with
perhaps twenty other valued cruisers. After a few inane speeches of gratitude and appreciation, I was handed a box wrapped in that famous pale
blue wrapping paper from Tiffany. Inside was a silver ballpoint penat
least I thought it was silver. It never tarnished, though, so I presume it is
stainless steel. I figure it is the most expensive ballpoint pen on Earth.
I estimate it cost me $121,000. Today it sits among about a dozen other
ballpointsaverage cost, 45 cents.
On several occasions, we were invited to dine at the captains table. Twice
I had the joy of being seated next to the captains wife. The small talk was
very small. When you are not sailing, where is home? Do you have


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children? We had the same captain on a different cruise, and once again
I had the pleasure of being seated next to the same captains wife. Not
one word of our conversation can be recalled. But I do remember that she
was wearing the same dress on both occasions. Do you think her closet
has one dress marked, For Small Talk?
On another cruise, the captains invitation came, and we dutifully arrived
to find that all the other guests invited that night were men and their
wives who owned franchises of McDonalds drive-ins. The ladies were
all gussied up, most wearing large diamond-studded arch pins. Marian
and I hardly said a word that night. It seemed silly to me to ask what the
ratio was between cheeseburgers and burgers without cheese or how
many customers ordered their burgers without pickle.
We even took a Barefoot Sailing cruise in the Caribbean. It was a phony.
We were rarely under sail. We booked the captains stateroom, which
turned out to be a disaster. The bed was atop a five-feet-tall cabinet,
requiring us to climb up from a bench. The water was rough, and Marian
had a bad GI upset that led to her sleeping on the floor in front of the
Our favorite cruises were two transatlantic passages we bookedseven
days of nothing to sightsee. Up at 7:00 am, breakfast in the stateroom,
nap, lecture at 10:00 am, nap, lunch at 1:00 pm, nap, lecture at 3:00 pm,
nap, dinner in the dining room, and then off to bed.
Can cruising be any more pleasant?


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Sanibel Island: Marian

Goes Shelling
destIny Or chance ? Probably chance.
The director of market research where I worked, Gil Martinez, had been
invited by a friend to share a vacation on Sanibel, the small barrier island
off the coast of Ft. Myers, Florida. Gil liked the place and bought a twoweek timeshare condo on the Gulf of Mexico near the lighthouse on the
quiet end of the island.
A year or so later, he did the same for us, inviting Marian and me to visit
this place famous for its shelling and low-key ambience. It was wonderful, and we decided to buy a
timeshare at the same location. After we signed the
papers, the seller backed
out, and I was storming mad.
We walked across the road to the Lighthouse Resort and Club, asking if
they had anything for sale. They did. Unit 304 was occupied by a family
who had aged out and was selling. The unit was the third-floor corner
condo directly on the bay, with views of the ocean on the right, and
far away, the causeway separating the mainland from the island. We
bought it immediately and were eventually able to buy the entire month
of January in the same unit. And so began nearly two decades of vacations. I had a two-week vacation, but we thought our children and friends
might enjoy vacationing there.

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The well-maintained unit had three bedrooms, a washer and dryer,

dining room, and three balconies, one screened ina total of 2,800
square feet. We felt blessed.
Because of a combination of prevailing winds, tides, and location,
Sanibel is best known as a shelling mecca. Most travel brochures
feature the Sanibel stoop, people bending over searching for a new
find in the sand. In the first year of looking, most people search for
big, colorful, and recognizable shells. Thereafter, the pros look for a
myriad of small shells, many the size of your little fingernail.
Marian enjoyed getting up early before the beaches were picked
over. If she was not in the apartment when I awoke, I might spot her
in a yellow windbreaker combing the beach in front of the condo.
(Raymond Burr, who portrayed Perry Mason, funded a shell museum
on the island.)
Five thousand marshy acres on Sanibel are dedicated to the Ding
Darling National Wildlife Preserve, home in the winter to flocks of
white pelicans, roseate spoonbills, and other exotic waterfowl. At least
once a week, we drove the one-way dike road through the marshes
searching for new birds.
Alligators are everywhere on the island, but one lone crocodile swam
into Ding Darling and became one of the most famous tourist attractions in the preserve.
A naturalist, Bird Westall, who later became mayor of Sanibel,
introduced dozens of tall breeding platforms to the island to attract
ospreys. Most mornings you can watch an osprey (sometimes called
a sea hawk) hunting for fish, swirling overhead, and diving from one


Once More With Feeling

hundred feet in the air to grab a fish in its talons.

Dolphins swam by in late afternoon with a slow undulating stride that
intrigued and pleased us.
While we ate most meals at home, we frequented many of the cafs
and restaurants dotting the island. Our luncheon favorite was the
Mucky Duck on the adjoining island of Captiva. An ersatz British pub,
the trick was to get a table by the windows. If you were disappointed,
the matre d rolled over a window frame on a dolly, thus giving you a
table by the window. The nearby Bubble Room served outrageously
large food portions presented by waiters in Boy Scout uniforms.
Sanibel adheres to a strict building code. No buildings are permitted to be more than three stories, so there are no high-rises. The
main road up and down the island has no red lights. Before a hurricane destroyed them, Australian pines covered Periwinkle Drive.
Driving felt as if you were going through a green tunnel. However, the
winds blew over many of these shallow-rooted trees, and now sunlight
covers the road.
The library provided the computer facilities we needed to check and
send email and to borrow books or videotapes. In this setting, we were
never bored and always were sorry to leave to go back to the dreaded
Ohio winter.
After my stroke in Ohio, a neighbor, Norm McCray, drove us to and
from Sanibel, making the trip in two days. What a treat to leave frosty
Ohio and feel the air change to tropical as we entered Florida.
After we moved to California, we went back to Sanibel once. Norm
drove us home across that unending Interstate 10 across Texas. Weve


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now sold weeks one and four but retain weeks two and three in case
family or friends might like to use the condo.
Do we miss Sanibel? Yes, very much.


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Brussels: Exactly How

Much Are One Wife and
Two Daughters Worth?
If you are a conspiracy theorist, you would be very suspicious of
the Union of International Organizations, founded in 1907, and headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. Its purpose is to enable communication
among all international organizations. It sounds ominous, but its major
contribution is to publish a yearbook of worldwide associationsfrom
the Boy Scouts to labor unions.
Through the years, the UIO has researched techniques for enabling
interagency communication. I was in Brussels to speak with the
director general on the latest theories for meta-communication in my
specific area of interest, worldwide school-reform movements and how
they share information.
My wife, a junior-high-school science teacher, and my two daughters,
ages 12 and 14, accompanied me on the trip. With the childrens school
principals permission, we took the girls out of school for several months.
Marian provided instruction as the weeks rolled by.
We unpacked at the Brussels Hilton late one afternoon. The girls, who
were now getting a little travel weary and grumpy, said, Lets have a
hamburger for dinner tonight. The request seemed reasonable, so at
six oclock we headed across the busy thoroughfare to a plain-looking


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restaurant near the hotel. We checked the menu in the window and
saw nothing that might be a hamburger. I recommended that we keep
walking until we found a hamburger restaurant.
Several blocks away we found another restaurant with a nice courtyard
and attractive decor. We headed in. The eating rooms were on the
second floor.
I quickly realized we had made a serious mistake. The courtyard had a
lovely fish tank with speckled trout swimming around. The matre d wore
a tuxedo, as did all the other waiters. We were the only guests in the place.
I explained that the girls would like a hamburger, and that Marian and I
would eat from the menu.
I am sorry, sir. We dont serve hamburgers here. May I suggest the
chateaubriand for four. I am sure that the girls had never heard the word
chateaubriand before. They looked at me for an explanation.
Sort of like a fine steak.
There was never a sign of agreement among the children. They were
tired and hungry, and I was a bit embarrassed to leave. I said, OK,
medium rare.
We sat there eating bread and butter for what seemed a decade before
dinner was served. The plates were placed with great care; an army of
waiters delivered the meat and petite veggies with flourish. A silver gravy
boat contained a luscious demi-glace.
The food was wonderful; everything was done to perfection. But the girls
ate with a sullen air of disgust. Their hamburger dinner had turned into
a trial.


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My trial was just beginning. When the check came, it was for an amount
between 200 and 250 dollars. I had about 80 dollars in my wallet. My
watch would not be sufficient collateral; it was a cheap Timex. I explained
to the matre d that I had travelers checks at the hotel, but that I would
leave my wife and daughters behind until I returned. I figured that they
were worth at least 250 bucks.
I ran both ways to and from the hotel. The bill was settled with much
calculation of exchange rates, size of the tip, and change from the travelers checks that I provided.
Meanwhile the girls just sat and stared at me like I was some sort of
idiot. It was idiotic. I should have known what was in store when I saw
the trout tank.


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Still Waiting
or the



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Aging Is Like Eating

an Artichoke
t he fIrst tIme I ate an artIchOke I was bewildered. My friend,
Jim Jeffries, explained that you peeled off the leaves one by one, dipped
each into the dipping sauce of melted butter and lemon juice, and then
scraped the flesh off with your teeth until you got to the middle of the
artichoke. There you would fi nd a delicious mouthful of flesh called the
heart. But beware. The heart has a choke attached to it. That part is
inedible, and must be torn off and discarded. Only then could you enjoy
the unadulterated heart.
Now as an old man, I have decided that eating an artichoke is a metaphor
for aging. After 70, we begin to strip off a lifetime of things, activities and
events that made life rich and interesting. Eventually, if you strip enough
things away you are left with the succulent heartyourself.
What do you mean strip away?


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Old folks no longer covet things that we once thought were important,
like clothes, for example. For years, I wore the classic grey flannel suit,
button-down collars, and rep tieat work, to weddings, to church, to
funerals, to parties. I wore garters to hold up my stockings, and for a
while I wore suspenders. All gone. Now I wear an old pair of khakis,
a polo shirt or T-shirt, and a sweater if it is chilly. No more ties, dress
shirts, or knee-high stockings.
Most household activities have disappeared. Someone takes out our
trash. A certified nurse assistant makes our bed. So many things stripped
away. Our meals are provided, so no more weekly shopping trips to buy
food to feed the family. No cooking, no doing the dishesjust a handful
of foods in the apartment to snack on. Shopping is reduced to a minimum.
No house to care for. No lawn mowers or yearly weed killers to spray.
No gas to buy for the tractor. No tractor. What serious shopping we do is
done on the Internet, mostly books and a few essentials like underwear,
socks, and slacks. If something doesnt fit, we toss it or take it to the store
where a nice tailor shortens the pants legs.
Tangible things have lost their allure. We have stripped away going to
auctions to look for things, to the theater to see the hottest new play,
to the art galleries to buy something for the walls or a piece of art glass.
If people rave about a new play, we buy it on Amazon and read it. No new
trinkets have graced our rooms in years. (Well not quite. My new Kindle
gives me pleasure and lets me pretend that I am still in the game.)
Regretfully, too many old friends are also stripped away. Every one of the
original office staff I worked with is dead. Relatives are stripped away,
too. Nearly every usher I had when we got married is dead, including
my brothers and college roommate, Greer Heindel. The flip side of the


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coin is that we make new friends, a network of names on my email list

with whom I exchange regular messages, mostly jokes and occasionally
a meaningful inquiry or observation.
Eating requires a lot of constraint. At lunch, soup and half a sandwich will
do, with a ball of ice cream for dessert. At supper, a baked potato with
some form of meat and gravy is enough. I will have a sip or two of wine if
offered, but a whole glass leaves me woozy and uncomfortable.
We no longer yearn for travel to exotic places. The airports and airplanes
(or even cruise ships) no longer excite or beckon.
Travel is too damn much bother, and it takes too much energy, including
going through two weeks of mail when you return from afar. Instead, we
watch Rick Stevess travelogues. We can enjoy watching him take the
tram to the top of the mountain or eat in a tavern enjoying the local brew
or dessert. Been there, done that.
Routine is our best new friend. Beauty is defined as following a regular
routine through the day. Get up, watch some morning TV news, have
a light breakfast, dress casually, go to lunch, do a crossword puzzle,
have a nap. Read a while. Watch the evening news, eat dinner, followed
by The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, read, fiddle with a computer
game, and off to bed. Day after day, I seek simplicity. Of course, we
are still too busy: volunteer assignments, writing one of these memory
essays, doctor and dental appointments. But none creates much tension
or worry. Just the essentials. Back to the artichoke heart.
Now the $64-dollar question. Have I reached the real me yet, the essential heart of me? Has enough stuff been stripped away to qualify as the
authentic Tom? Has the choke been chucked?


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My ego is still strong, centered, and content. No outrageous schemes

lurk as must do or must have. I feel like the frisky elderly lady on
the first floor who had a sign on her door: l et me a lOne. I a m busy
l IvIng e ver a fter .


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Finding That Right

Place to Retire
We had been living well in a 1920s, arts-and-crafts-style, restored
bank building, to which we added a two-story garage, a guesthouse,
and retreat and entertainment center a hundred feet down the street.
The village was small, cozy, friendly, and idyllic. But the winters could
be fierce with snow, ice, and occasional power outages. All shopping
required driving to a store by car. Our doctors and dentists were in
Columbus, just under an hour away. Both daughters lived hundreds
of miles away. Sooner or later we would have to move. Both buildings
required going up and down stairs, and our knees were 75 years old.
We were determined to make plans to save both daughters the trouble
of having to make a decision about our whereabouts when we could no
longer function on our own.
In the early 1970s, we had lived in Palo Alto and knew about a retirement
community in Portola Valley called The Sequoias. We had driven past
it many times and loved its rural location and subtle Asian design and
They offered the requisite life-care facilities, so we sent for an application.
The application requirements didnt surprise us: financial records, health
records, letters of recommendation, and so on. The cost for two to submit
an application was $3,000, half of which would be returned if rejected.
It took about six weeks to gather everything required. The day we


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mailed the application, we also made an appointment for an on-site

visit to work out details. I navely hoped they would accept stock certificates for the entrance fee. On hearing that request, they planned
a simultaneous visit with the director of the Bay Area Presbyterian
The on-site visit was pleasant enough. The foundation director said that
they wouldnt take stock. We would have to sell enough stock for the
entrance fee. That was not a small matter, because it would trigger the
dreaded capital gains taxes that I hated. The foundation manager began
to drool when he learned the amount of stock I had available. He began
to lay out three or four donation opportunities. He lost me.
We toured the attractive grounds, and we visited a two-bedroom unit and
a one-bedroom unit. (We had already decided on a two-bedroom unit,
so there could be a den where I could hide.) When we toured the dining
room, I noted that they were having roast pork with apricot chutney for
dinner. I missed the fact that it was served cafeteria-style.
My health was iffy: I had had a stroke and open-heart surgery, my heart
required a pacemaker, I was an insulin-dependent diabetic, and I used
a cane for stability when walking. But we were living independently,
taking a cruise or two yearly and spending January in Sanibel, Florida,
and neither of us had any acute health problems.
Then we waitedfour weeks, five weeks, six weeks. The letter that
finally arrived was a form letter, brief and cold. They were sorry, but we
would not be accepted as residents. No reason given.
The letter hurt, as if someone had punched us in the stomach. We had
already contacted real-estate agents and an auction house to sell off most
of our household furniture.


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The next letter we received was from the Bay Area Presbyterian
Foundation. The gist was that since we had shown such a high interest
in The Sequoias, he was sure we would want to make a contribution
to the foundation. The director added a handwritten note that he had
enjoyed meeting us and hoped that we would visit again soon.
Red flags!
One morning, I woke suddenly and wondered why our application money
had not been returned. I called and was told that The Sequoias didnt
write those refund checks. They originated in San Francisco. Apparently
we no longer existed in Portola Valley.
Again we waiteda month, five weeks, six weeks. Finally I wrote an
email to The Sequoias stating that our patience had run out, that this
was a scam, and if not, it certainly showed a high level of incompetence.
I planned to contact the California retirement home authorities and the
Better Business Bureau if I didnt get my money back immediately. It was
delivered by Federal Express within 24 hours.
Our San Mateo daughter was as disappointed as we were with the whole
affair. She felt some responsibility and began examining other options. In
about a month, she called and said that she thought she had found a new
solution, the Saratoga Retirement Community, still under construction.
I told her that I didnt want to go through another Sequoias. She went
to the marketing department, explained my feelings, and was reassured
that all people our age have some health issues.
We flew to Saratoga for a personal visit and were greeted warmly and
reassuringly. We picked an apartment and specified color of floors, tile,
rugs, and so on. Our visit was on a very rainy day. The sales agent drove


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us into the basement garage in a golf cart, and we climbed three flights
of construction stairs to see an apartment whose walls had not yet been
dry-walled. Across the street was a utility building still under construction. None of the larger corner apartments were available, but we told the
sales manager that we would like one if one became available.
The first letter was our letter of acceptance. Then a call came that
the corner apartment of our floor had become available. We agreed
Kismet. It was our fortunate fate that the Sequoias turned us down, and a
good thing it was. That community was nearly fifty years old, the apartments were much smaller, and the eating facilities a cafeteriaa serious
liability if you walk with a cane. And if we had been approved, I would
still be nursing a grudge.


Once More With Feeling

The Leftovers
T he average life expectancy in the United States was 77.58 years
in 2010. Marian and I live in an assisted-living facility where nearly
everyone is in his or her 80s, and many are in their 90s. That makes us
among those who have beaten the system. Does it mean we have lived
lives during which we have eaten only broccoli, exercised twice a day,
never smoked or drank to excess, led a stress-free life, or never argued?
No, it meant that we inherited longevity genes from some remote but
long-lived ancestor.
We are the societal leftovers who hang around behaving as if our lives
are before us. Some among us will still get out on the dance floor to shake
a leg, assuming that our knees will still hold us up. Others still have
enough energy left to initiate new things, take trips, complain about the
food, and lead discussions. But I have noticed that while most of us are
pleasant and passive, we easily become aggravated and grumpy if things
dont go our way.
Some of us cant remember how old we are. When asked, Ernie raises
fingers, first nine fingers and then four fingers94. Marie says she
doesnt know how old she is, but remembers she was born in 1922, as was
George. When told by her aging children that they were planning a big
birthday party in July when Marie turns 90, she asked, Am I ninety?
After repeating the same story for the sixth time, leftovers will note,
I may have told you that. Repetition really doesnt matter. A repeated


Once MOre With Feeling

story has the comfort of a third martini. The punch line is like meeting
an old friend.
Bodies become frail, but some still go to the 9:00 am chair-exercise class
to retain their muscle tone. Many go to the class on their electric scooters
or walkers. When the dining room doors open, the parade is mechanized. Staff members remove the walkers during meals and return them
during dessert, all in the name of decorum.
This is not to disparage us elderly. Weve made it to a glorious age, even
though glorious is hardly an appropriate adjectiverusty is more
like it. We awaken achy and stiff, gobble pills to keep the pharmaceutical
industry profitable, and seek the comfort of pleasant memories.
Because short-term memory fades fi rst, we talk about our youth and
childhood. A resident told me that his Methodist upbringing was so strict
that he was not allowed to dance, smoke, drink, or have much fun. Even
having a pack of cards in the house was a sin. As he repeated the history
of his innocent youth, someone reported that he was watching X-rated
movies in his room. Okay, we grow up and can change our ways.
Leftovers are considered better the next day: soup, meatloaf, and other
comfort foods. Old seniors do have a charming way of approaching
things. My way or no way. We dont have time to stand around and argue.


Once More With Feeling

Coping with the Finale

L ast F riday, Marians cough worsened. The cough came from deep in
her chest. This had happened before, and it had developed into pneumonia. Her sputum was gooky, and that meant that a bacterial infection had
begun. So we decided to go to urgent care to check it out at the Palo Alto
Medical Foundation. Her lungs were clear, which meant no pneumonia.
At times like these, one inevitably thinks of what my daughter calls the
old mans friend (pneumonia), which more often than not takes out
80-year-olds. We will all leave this life, but most of us believe that would
be inconvenient and ill-timed this year. We have appointments next week,
and today we made plans for a birthday celebration in May. And I have a
bit more writing to do before I finish volume three of my memoirs. But
the Grim Reaper could arrive at any time. Lets face ityouth has fled.
Middle age has past, and we are stuck in gimpy, geriatric bodies.
Several years ago we looked down from our second-floor apartment and
saw a man lying flat on the pavement with a 911-crew applying CPR. Too
late. He was dead. Then the police arrived, then the coroner, then the
undertaker. It took several hours before the body was removed.
It prompts the thought as to whether a sudden or a slow demise is preferable. The widow was surely in shock as she sat there watching the
minions evaluating the corpse. A sudden death seems preferable to a
long, drawn-out illness, as hard as that might be on the next of kin.
Are we ever ready? Some say theyve had enough living and are ready to
go peacefully. And in some cases death is merciful.


Once More With Feeling

Death might be complicated. Coping with heavenly hosts might be

a problem. Mothers, fathers, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, friends, great-grandparents whom I have never methow
many generations will there be? Will Dad still be a chain-smoker? Will
Mother still have Alzheimers, or will everyone be healthy 27-year-olds?
Will everyone just be a benign blithe spirit and mind his or her own
business? Marian will attest that I am rather solitary at home, dont
talk much, prefer to listen to some classical music, work quietly at the
computer, and think of things to write. Will small talk after death be
necessary? I hope not.
And if hell is my fate, will I recognize anyone? It is not possible to relive
life again and do everything right, never to err or sin. I did cheat on a
Spanish test in high school once, but I think that would qualify as a minor
infraction. Whats done is done.
Many tombstones are inscribed with RIP, rest in peace. Eternal rest has
a nice feel about it.
But today I have things to do.


Once More With Feeling

A 2016 Election Campaign

Aided by a Senile Retiree
R etirement is okay, but maybe I ought to go back to work. A fancy
title might add luster to my reputation among my peers, many of whom
are in their nineties. Also, the election for President in 2016 will be the
topic du jour for months.
Do you think Hillary would hire me for her campaign staff? My advice
could be very valuable. I worked in marketing and advertising for 43
years. Alas, that was before the digital age so I may not qualify for todays
fast-paced, digital modes of communication. (I dont own a smart phone.)
Instead, I will write an old-fashioned position paper for Hillary offering
my suggestions. Here it is:
Background and Situation
The U.S. census in 2008 reported that 1.8 million seniors are over ninety.
Hillary Clinton is dedicated to an inclusive campaign. The very elderly
offer her campaign a unique opportunity to communicate her platform
especially tailored to the special interests and needs of the cohort. Most
ninety-year-olds are living in nursing homes, continuing care communities, or in the basements of their aging childrens houses. They watch
television all day, but dont pay attention. They nap during short bursts
of ennui. They live month-to-month on a meager Social Security check.


Once More With Feeling

They are, therefore, ready recipients of the liberal message of hopelessness, in need of a helping hand.
Special Considerations
Hearing: Most ninety year olds cant hear a thing. Their hearing aids
dont work very well, often fall out of their ears, and require frequent
changes of expensive batteries that are always in the wrong place.
Policy recommendation: Offer free hearing-aid batteries delivered
weekly. Also, dont bother with radio or TV advertising. The elderly
cant hear the ads, even with hearing aids.
Vision: Those who wear glasses often misplace them. Those who dont,
require magnification.
Policy Recommendation: Supply a magnifying glass delivered by a
friendly, talkative Democratic mailman.
Locomotion: Most ninety-year-olds often fall and cant locomote without
a walker.
Policy recommendation: Provide free electric scooters to all seniors.
Wait! Medicare already provides free scooters if approved by a doctor,
so significant upgrades are recommendedchoice of vibrant colors,
a GPS, radio, larger fenders, and memory-foam cushions.
Food Preferences: Meals are the highlights of the day. Old folks are
EXTREMELY picky. Gravy on the side. Asparagus well done. No
ice in the water. Lots of ice, please.
Policy recommendation: Upgrade Meals-on-Wheels to meals delivered
by drones accompanied by a robot who will schmooze with seniors
for at least 15 minutes about why the children dont call and about the
lousy weather.

Once MOre With Feeling

Voting Preferences: Ninety-year-olds will never change their lifelong voter

affiliation, but they do review their mail every day, including every directmail advertisement they receive. They linger over each mailing as if
it were personally addressed to them by a nice lady down at the post
office. Old people who voted Republican or Democratic all their lives
wont change, so messages should be addressed to elderly Independents,
Libertarians, and those with senile dementia who have forgotten what
party they belong to.
Policy recommendation: Communication with this group should be
by direct mail, including sample ballots. If they mail in the sample
ballot instead of their absentee ballot, consider it valid.
The cohort of voters over ninety is growing rapidly, soon to be over 2
million nationally. Over-nineties have many unique needs, especially
health and social needs. They are, therefore, especially susceptible to
messages suggesting FREE anything, including service dogs, Cheerios,
and parakeets. A perfect fit for the Democratic agenda.


Once More With Feeling

RIP: The Grim Reaper,

an Inconvenient Guest
T he first time I met my podiatrist in 2005, he asked me why I had
moved to Saratoga.
To die.
Its true. We moved to a retirement community that could care for us
in our dotage. We also completed all the legal stuffwills, powers of
attorney, living wills. We recently signed up with the Trident Society to
take charge of our cremation at our demise. But, whoa, we aint ready
yet! We made it to 80, meaning we have already beaten the odds, but we
still have things to do.
Six months ago, I stumbled onto a book entitled 1001 Books You Must
Read Before You Die. Heavens, I have read fewer than 10 percent of the
books listed. That means that, if I read one book each week, I must
make it to age 100 or more. Every once in a while, I might want to read
a book not on the list. Or, even more probable, I might want to read a
listed book for the second time, screwing up the timetable again. If I
read a recommended author on the list, might I not want to read further
into the writers opus?
Then theres the matter of crepe myrtle. We have quite a bit of it in our
neighborhood, and it pleases me greatly. I love the shades of purple and the
deep red and the contrast with the white. The tree blooms in early August,
and I am not yet done admiring the blooms that remind me of lilacs. I


Once More With Feeling

could live for at least ten more years just to see the crepe myrtle bloom.
Ah, and sightseeing! Marian wants to go to Baja to see the whale calves
in the spring. I insist that a cruise boat leave from San Francisco and
return to San Francisco so I dont have to suffer the indignities of those
horrible airports. Take off your shoes. Take off your belt. Next thing
you know, they will want to examine my belly button just in case I am
hiding a pilfered diamond or two. Look at me. I am bald, losing height by
the year, am 80 years old, and using either a walker or a wheelchair. Do
I look like a terrorist? (Answer: Only when I get mad.)
Weve put a down-payment on a cruise to Alaska. We didnt want to lose
that payment. We bought trip insurance just in case we couldnt go. And
Marian fell ill and we did not go.
Next, I must consider all the unsolved problems that need attending to.
The SRC library is running out of space; the Manor dining room is too
noisy; we cant seem to get the maintenance man to come to replace a
burned-out light bulb in the hallway in front of the washer and dryer.
We dont want to leave this place with a burned-out bulb, do we?
Most important is the experiment. My surgeon says I need back surgery,
but my son-in-law, who has been an intensive-care nurse for 25 years,
and my nurse anesthetist daughter say that I am a bad risk for extensive
surgery. So we have set in motion a plan of pain management. By using
non-addicting opiates, plus occasional OTC analgesics, I am doing quite
well leading a sedentary life. But, will I become addicted eventually? Will
I need stronger drugs eventually?
I have to live long enough to find out.
The Grim Reaper would be an inconvenient guest right now. Later,

Once More With Feeling

In Closing


Once More With Feeling

To Was, or Not to Was,

That Is the Question
To be, or not to be is not the question. Things have changed, and
we ponder the past, what we once were and are no longer. We are still the
persons we were, but not quite.
For example, I was once a son. Now both of my parents are dead, and I no
longer worry about whether Mother is eating enough. Or that Dad will
be home in time to go for a ride after dinner. As Mothers Alzheimers
progressed, I became a parent to my parent and arranged for her transfer
to assisted living.
I was once a businessman, but I retired in 1993, years ago. I no longer
know anyone who works for the company. Most businessmen worry
about the sales gains, the budget, the personnel, and the long-range
plans. I never worried about any of that. In fact, they sent me to a course
at Harvard to learn how to read fiscal reports. The only thing I remember about the course was that one night after dinner, we were watching
television, and Barry Goldwater made his famous retort, Extremism
in defense of liberty is no vice. At the time I wondered whether I really
heard him properly.
In preparation for the trip to the Harvard Business School I bought a
new sport coat, a night watch tartan plaid. That coat has long since disappeared, like so many of the other artifacts of a previous business life:
briefcases, passports, luggage, knick knacks from my deskall gone.


Once MOre With Feeling

I was once a father, and still am, but things have changed. The children
are now 50 years old, and our relationships have changed. They have
become parents to their parents. The telephone calls are more about how
we are getting along and how our health has improved or worsened. And
whether or not their mother is eating enough.
One of the only serious arguments I have ever had with my younger
daughter, Janice, concerned the keys to my car, and the suggestion that
I was not competent to drive. We started to argue, and then shout, and I
grabbed my car keys back. How dare she! It was so bad that her husband
called the next day to tell me, She really loves you and was expressing her concern. He explained that she is not well (the guilt trip thing
thrown into the discussion) and that I had been too thoughtless. But she
was out of control, I argued.
That argument is all behind us with almost no scars, but it does reveal
that things are not as they once were; my was has changed. Janice still
frets when I drive at night or in the rain. And, of course, at some point I
will have to give her my car keys, but not now.
We are seamlessly bound to our past, but some days it doesnt feel that
way. The responsibility is gone, the daily obligations are gone, even the
coat and tie are gone. Its wonderful.


Tom McCollough was born

May 5, 1929, in Lancaster,



Philadelphia, he graduated




Pennsylvania with a degree

in zoology. He then worked
as a salesman for a small



Ohio, that would eventually

become a part of Abbott
Laboratories. Drafted into
the Korean War, he served
as a medical administrator in Bad Nauheim, Germany. After service, he
married Marian Brown, with whom he had two daughters, Elizabeth and Janice,
and assumed the role of Vice President of Sales Promotion and Advertising at
Ross. After a three-year hiatus, working in the public sector as an educational
planner in Palo Alto, California, Tom returned to Ross as Director of Business
Practices, where he handled the social and ethical issues surrounding the
companys products. This provided Tom experiences in international travel,
crisis management, video-documentary production, as well as a definite reason
to move full time to their weekend retreat near the rural town of Glenford, Ohio.
Having renovated the propertys farmhouse, he designed a new home, and later
restored a 1920s bank in the center of the small town. Retiring in 1993, Tom and
Marian lived in the restored bank until 2005, and then moved to a retirement
community in Saratoga, California.