THE END

It’s been about four years that I started this blog. I never had any intention of going this long. I began with some stories about my family, my aunt and uncle, mother, grandmother, etc. That’s all that it was meant to be. I went off into many different directions, even writing a novella.
Not that I have nothing more to say, but I am not sure that a blog is the best place to say them. I leave you with no regrets about anything that I have written and I have had fun doing it. I appreciated all of your comments, critiques, and jokes about what I was doing. I bid you farewell and the best to you and your families.

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FATHER’S DAY

Father’s Day has never really meant much to me over the years. It was not something that I grew up with. As the Father’s Day industry became more of a set of advertisements and a push to buy presents, my interest waned even further. Since my own dad died when I was four, it became increasingly difficult to develop a feeling of admiration and love for someone who has not really existed in my lifetime.
My memories of my father are not ones that inspire any kind of positive feelings. I have memories of going to retrieve him from the pool hall on December 7, 1941 and seeing him lying on the floor in our kitchen on February 12, 1943. That’s about it. Kind of hard to fashion a feeling of camaraderie from those two events.
Each year, we get together with my children, their families and my daughter-in-law’s mother and father We give each other cards, have a wonderful meal and celebrate a couple of birthdays that happen at about the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I do love my children and grandchildren. However, this is not the kind of holiday that I really enjoy celebrating.
I just read a Father’s Day article by Jason Whitlock, a sports writer. It is about his father, who died at age 77 just a few months ago. He described a rocky relationship that he had with has dad for almost his entire life. It is a story that he tells with a great deal of feeling. He and his dad argued about most things other than Tiger Woods and the Indiana Pacers. His dad wanted the best for him and his brother, but did not really understand their accomplishments.
For some reason, the article struck a chord within me. Not sure that my own father would have understood my accomplishments either. He was not the kind of guy who concerned himself with the everyday life of a husband and father. That is, at least, what I have gleaned from my mom, my sister and my older cousins.
I am left to ponder how I should react to my own children and grandchildren’s view of me. It is all so different from my own view of myself and my view of a distant father, who really does not exist in my memory. I have spoken to a number of my friends whose dads passed away at an early age. They also have trouble with putting their dads into perspective.
My son has a picture of my dad on a wall in his home. That’s kind of a comfort to me. His grandchildren will at least have some small understanding of who that person was. My daughter’s children have a setoff pictures that I made for them with all of the male members of our family going back to my father’s father. Until now, they have some idea of their other set of great grandparents, some of whom were alive when they were born.
You see, I have nothing to tell them about my dad. I have no items to show them, no clothes, no baseball mitts or balls, few pictures and mostly, no stories to tell and no feelings to convey. I can only hope that when they have their own children, there will be some sort of feeling, some item that they can show, some picture and some shared experience to tell.

IN A QUANDRY

I don’t normally approach my blogging with problems. However, this is one that really has me befuddled. About three weeks ago, I was trawling the net and came across a job that had me written all over it. I know what you are thinking. It has happened to everyone else in the world- bright, articulate, strong leadership skills, able to leap tall buildings with a single bound. Yes, all of those things. I guess I am not as suave as I thought I was.
At the end of the advertisement, there were instructions about how to apply for the job. Now, you must understand that I have not worked for anyone, except my wife, since 1991. So, it was a strange feeling to write to the search company and tell them that I was interested and sent them my resume.
I am still, to this moment, wondering, why I did it. Yes, I am really a competitive person with a huge ego. Who would it be that would not choose me, the champion of champions, for this job?
A few days later, I got a call from the headhunters, asking me if I would agree to a phone interview the next day. “Why certainly, “I said. The next day at 11:00 a.m. I had a 30 minute interview with a young man, who felt that I had the experience to turn this organization around. He asked me what my last salary was. I told him that was 22 years ago and that it was $75,000. He responded by saying that the range for this position was between $200, 000 and $250,000. Would I still be interested? I kind of harrumphed a bit to quell the coughing spell that I was going to have.
He told me that I was one of the best candidates, according to the resumes, that he had seen and would I be able to meet with their search staff in Philly the next week. Funny, Carol and I were going to spend 4 days in Philly the next week. I agreed to a time and place.
I was to be interviewed by two people, a man and a woman. When I got to the offices, I was trundled into a conference room that overlooked the entire city. I was in real classyland. The woman who was to interview me apologized that the man would not be there and could she call her doctor and get a prescription filled. I would certainly not be averse to waiting for a bit.
She came back in a while later and peppered me with bunches of questions about my background, why I had not been involved in local politics since I moved to Harrisburg, what was the most negative thing that had happened to me in my work life and suchlike. They were all pretty standard questions that I had heard before. I was sure that the answers that she got from me were not.
I told her that I was not a planner and referred her to a book by Nassim Taleb, called Black Swan. I told her that I used to eat at the President Pro Tem of the Senate’s restaurant in Brockway long before he was a state senator. I also told her that I had known the Speaker of the House since 1982 and that I almost hired his wife (decided to have a child instead).
I guess I can’t help but brag a bit during an interview. I was startled to learn that if I proceeded any further in the process, that I would have to present a six month entry plan. I am still not sure how I would know enough about the organization to be able to do something like that. I could do something generic, or a template, but not a real plan.
The interviewer laid out the plan for the next step in the process. She told me that she would be calling back in two days. That was three weeks ago. In some ways, my ego is deflated by not hearing from them. In other ways I am really happy that I did not go any further. If I get a call tomorrow for another interview, I am not sure what I will do. Stay tuned for the next exciting adventure of Mr. Know it All gets his comeuppance.

A STRANGE REUNION

There were some of my old colleagues there. Some of those who did not come had passed away, or were not available. Some chose not to come for their own reasons. I picked up my old buddy and guidance counselor, John. When I was the junior high school principal in Kutztown from 1973 to 1977, he was my friend, my confidante and the best guidance counselor I have ever seen.
Now things were not going too well for this octogenarian. He had a brutal accident which left him pinned under his car for five hours and resulted in his left arm beneath the elbow removed, as well as some of his memories. He is now confined to his home with daily care from family. This was the first time that I had been out with him alone in over thirty years.
We still had time to kid around and tell some jokes, as we always did. Some of the palaver was in Pennsylvania Dutch, but mostly in English. We arrived at the Kutztown Park at about three. We had been told to bring some snacks and utensils. I brought the snacks and John the utensils.
We were greeted by Jeff, the new librarian (new to me) and one of my former students, Hallie. I could not believe that Hallie was approaching 50 and that she had a 20 year old child. As I remember her, she was a skinny blonde 8th grade girl. She was always a favorite of mine.
Al, the science teacher was there wearing a safari hat and some sort of with it shirt. He was always involved in local politics. He spoke to me as if I was still living in town and aware of the goings on. I was not.
Bill, another science teacher and one of god’s good guys, and his wife Jane spent time with me giving me the lowdown on what has been happening. Bill sometimes helps out at a tree farm run by Tom’s son. Tom passed away a number of years ago and Bill helps out. It is a massive operation.
Dennis, the math teacher, retired in 1994, also works at the tree farm. He has not really been involved in regular work since his retirement. He was a tax collector for a while and now helps out at the tree farm. He has always been close with his daughter. We used to kid him about her name Ressica and shout it out in the street focusing on the first syllable. He always thought that was really funny and still does.
Bill was out tech person for a while and then became the high school librarian. I had sold my 1967 Chevy II to him a long time ago. He still was talking about how it had a corvette engine in it, which he had to tamp down. Bill is truly retired and seems to be happy.
My son Marc’s favorite teacher was Marie, who taught 7th grade history. He was in her class when she took a sabbatical and traveled to Egypt and brought back all kinds of goodies and stories. She still looks the same, though I am not sure that she is mentally where she was.
Barbara taught my children about the Egyptian, Greek and Roman Myths in English class. She was, and still is, a sprightly, upbeat person with an infectious smile. She was indeed happy to see me, as I was her.
Larry, Mr. Smooth, Square and Flat, our shop teacher was there with his wife. He is as thin as ever and still has his rather dour sense of humor. My son loved his kind of Pennsylvania Dutch humor
I missed many of those who could not be there= Lou, George, Terry, Dorothy, Laila, Lucy, Jim, John T., Doug, Betty, Paul, Eleanor, Mary, Jean, Fern, Tom, Jake, Richard, Dave, Ellen,Lucinda, Nancy, Judy, Larry, Audrey and Art.
Those were a special four years for me, and, I am told, for the staff also. When I left to become superintendent, they gave me a going away present- a normal picture of them and one where they were all looking crazy. God bless them all.