IN WHICH I GO INTO THE ARMY-PART THREE

If you have ever been to Columbus, Georgia in the early spring, you will know what I am talking about. It is really cold in the mornings and very warm in the afternoons. It’s something that you have to get used to. Since we arrived of an afternoon, we were not prepared to fall out in our fatigues at 5 in the morning. It was blasted cold.

I remember that morning well. Our company Sergeant Barnwell called us to attention. It was really hard to understand what he was saying. He had a large chaw of tobacco in his cheek and spoke with the worst southern drawl that I have ever heard. Just remember, we were all from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We were not fellas from rural areas or from farm country. So, we thought we were doing what we were told when the sergeant gave us an order. You can imagine the silliness of each person’s hearing different commands at the same time.

Sergeant Barnwell also had a habit of wiggling his hands when he wanted something to be done. This always preceded his commands. We were mesmerized by these motions and most often got confused about what he wanted us to do.

As I look back at those nine weeks (there was a zero week), I now understand that we were involved in a clash of cultures. Remember, segregation was still rampant in the south. Schools were not yet integrated, even 3 years after Brown v. Board of Education. For the minorities in our outfit, this was not a pleasant place. I should issue a rejoinder; it was not a pleasant place for any of us.

All of the non-coms were from the south, as were our officers. I have seen enough movies portraying how tough it was for marines in their boot camp. I am not sure that ours was any easier. We were ordered around in typical army commands, but we knew from the outset that the people who were leading us were intentionally making it difficult for us. What they did not understand was that we could make it difficult for them.

It is true that a couple of the recruits were singled out for a section 8 discharge- not fit for military duty. They gave us rakes to rake the sand and gravel in front of the barracks, for hours at a time and mostly under the sun in the afternoon. As payback, the Puerto Rican guys went to the PX and purchased general’s stars and fell out with them on their fatigues at roll call in the morning. Sergeant Barnwell threw a seven right there in front of the barracks. You could tell he was very angry because his fingers moved very quickly and the sounds coming out of his mouth were accompanied by large bits of chewing tobacco.

It couldn’t be all bad. We did have some off time on post and a few weeks later everyone got a weekend pass to go into town except for yours truly. Sometimes I wonder. Each Saturday morning we had an inspection by our battalion commander. Sometimes he would bring the base commander, and look us up and down. Sometimes they would stop in front of a soldier and ask him a question. In most cases, the correct answer was given. That Saturday morning, the Battalion Commander stopped within an inch from my nose. Remember, those were the days of horned rim glasses. I could feel my knees quaking when the Major asked me to recite the chain of command. I started with my squad leader and ended with President Dwight David Eisenhower. I was not sure that I had gotten it all correct until the major said to Sergeant Barnwell, give this man 10 merits. They moved along and finished their inspection.

It appeared to be a really good inspection and everyone was happy with their weekend pass. As the guys got into civilian clothes and were leaving the barracks, the squad leaders handed them their passes. I looked longingly at my squad leader for my pass and he just shrugged his shoulders. I went over to Sergeant Barnwell and asked him where my weekend pass was. He said, “Asswipe, you ain’t getting’ nuthin.” I asked him why and he said, “You ain’t gettin’ no 10 merits either, you are a suckup and an asskisser.” From now until you leave here, you ain’t getting’ no weekend passes.”

Well, I stood there in astonishment. I could not imagine that this had turned out this way. I guess that I was too smart for my own britches. I guess my glasses and my demeanor bothered the sarge. He saw me as the quintessential northern wiseass and he was going to show me. I have also suspected over the  years that he knew that I was Jewish. What else could it have been?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN WHICH I GO INTO THE ARMY-PART TWO

The bus ride to Fort Dix landed me at the repo-depot (don’t ask) in the early evening. I was so out of my element that I almost tried to get back on the bus. However, a kindly non-com escorted me into a room filled with other dazed young men, all looking around for some comfort and solace from anyone.

I can even recall some of the faces and names of those guys. There was Robert Fudd, a tall and lanky black guy, whose great skill was his ability to sleep standing up. The other name, and I know I am not spelling it correctly was the manager of the Glen Cove movie theater, Ozzie Kulamanian. All of the gents had a certain category to be in. R.A.’s were those whose serial number began with those letters and were volunteers for a three year tour of duty. The U.S. serial number was the draftee. The NG’s were the National Guard and the ER’s were the enlisted reserve.

After the sort of all of these groups, there was only one group left and that was me. My serial number was FR 532166 (or something like that). No one who was in charge had ever heard of such a thing. I told them that FR stood for Federal Reserve. Of course they did not believe me and stuck me with the ER’s.

I believe that they marched us into barracks to secure a bed and we certainly were tired enough to go to sleep. However, that was not to be. The Sergeant in charge took that time to bark out a long series of do’s and don’ts and told us that we would be getting up at five o’clock in the morning to begin our day of quartermastering (whatever that was) and get divided into jobs that would hold us until we began basic training.

Although that seemed reasonable enough, somehow I got the idea that all would not go smoothly. Sarge was right, except for a few things. We did get up at five, marched to the mess hall, with even larger groups than ours, already uniformed and picked up our metal trays (more on that later) and had food dumped into them- runny eggs, dry throat clearing toast, burnt potatoes and something that was labeled coffee.

Because we had not eaten for a day, everything slid down our gullets to be met by the dry toast. It was our first experience with the Army way of doing things. Later that morning, we appears in a supply building, run by the quartermaster, something like S-4 or G-4 or some sort of 4, to get our uniforms, fatigues, boots, belts, underwear and suchlike. It all fit into a duffle bag that we slipped, or in my skinny case, thrown over by someone next to me in line, over my shoulder.

We were expected to go back to our barracks, get into our fatigues, dump our civilian clothes into the duffle bag and fall out front (looking smartly of course). We were ragged at best. Many of the guys had the wrong sized fatigues, the wrong sized boots, the wrong hats and suchlike. Actually, from my jaundiced perspective, it was kind of funny.

You must understand that when a non-com spoke to you it was not normal speech, it was barking. Some of the guys did not understand any of what was being said. So, if the sergeant said something like about face, it sounded for the entire world like buttfay. Some of the inner city guys, whose own language was a patois of another sort, had the most trouble with those barked orders. Luckily for them, they could always ask, “What the **** did he say?”

When we came outside in all of our splendor, the sergeant had a roster of names from which he read off with a job attached to them. At first, he asked if there were any there who had graduated from college with a degree in engineering. That sounded like I should have raised my hand to get a good desk job. A number of the guys raised their hands and were taken away by a ¾ ton truck to dig ditches. Was there some sort of anti-intellectual bent to these divisions? You be there was and it continued during my tour of duty.

The rest of us were divided into other jobs. I was fortunate enough to get a job in the mess hall. This mess hall served meals for 5,000 soldiers a day. My job was twofold- potato peeler and tray washer. The potato peeling was kind of fun. There was a large round machine with short spikes on the inside of the globe. You put the potatoes in the machine and it twirled and twirled, finally dispensing glorious white (slightly yellow) potatoes into a large vat. I and some others would carry the vat to another station for slicing and cooking.

My true job was washing the metal trays. I wish I had scarfed up one of those trays and sent them home to be put into a trophy case. Can you imagine washing thousands of trays by hand? I believe that I lost most of my feeling for heat and cold in my fingers from those days in the mess hall. We were on 12 hour shifts and were dead tired by the time we were finished.

Yes, they did allow us time to eat. There were also down times between meals to kind of cavort and learn about the army from some of the cooks and non-coms who came in for a cup of that detestable coffee.

I believe that we spent about a week or so at Fort Dix. We were all expecting that in a short period of time we were to be placed in other barracks to begin our 9 week stint of basic training. That was never to be. That never happened. One morning the sergeant entered our barracks and told us to fill up our duffle bags, we were going somewhere else for basic training. Evidently Fort Dix was filled to the brim with recruits and we were not able to train there.

So, along with about 600 others, we were taken to McGuire Air Force base and loaded into  DC-3s (I believe, I am not a good plane observer), which had no seats. Yes, most of us had never been on an airplane before and yes there was retching. I believe there were bags given out to prevent us from drowning in vomit.

I am not sure how long it took us to get to our destination, but it seemed interminable. We still did not know where we were going. When you are sitting on the floor in a large plane wondering when you would start feeling queasy, you are not concerned about where the plane would land. In fact, we landed in a place called Columbus, Georgia home of Fort Benning and the paratroopers.

We were soon to learn all of the army stuff and a bunch about paratroopers. We were load onto buses and driven around the town toward Fort Benning. We were really happy to see a billboard welcoming us to KKK country with a hooded rider on a white horse. The black and Puerto Rican guys were really happy to be welcomed. It was the South in 1957. Our adventures were just beginning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN WHICH I GO INTO THE ARMY

This may sound like fake news, or alternative reality, but it is not. I will try not to exaggerate, or be hyperbolic. I will be as straight as I can be with the facts as I remember them. There is no one around to dispute anything that I say, but you must trust that I will do my dandiest to tell the truth.

I was 16 years old when I graduated from Forest Hills High School in New York City. The year was 1955. My mom and her new husband and I and later on a new sister, moved there on December 30, 1949. I had spent August to October in Willard Parker Hospital in lower Manhattan suffering from poliomyelitis. The disease left me with a weakness in my left foot. It did not hamper me throughout my life. I played all kinds of sports. My idol then was Johnny Weissmuller, who had been an Olympic swimmer, played Tarzan in the movies and had polio when he was a child. If you remember, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had polio and was still the most prolific President that we ever had.

My mom and stepdad knew nothing about college. They hardly knew anything about high school. Neither of them got that far in school. Mom left school in the 3rd grade to work in a shirt factory. My stepdad told me that he never finished high school. It was with these two people that I certainly could not discuss going to college.

In August of 1955, having watched my baby sister (born in 1950), and needed a break that I visited my older sister’s home. She had been to college for a year and one half and had then married her husband. She went back many years later and actually got two masters’ degrees.

She asked me how things were going and where I would be going to college. I told her that none of them had called me yet. The look on her face all those years ago still appears before me as I tell this story. She said, “What are you an idiot?” The colleges don’t call you; you have to apply to them. “Now go over to Queens College and ask for an application.

Since my sister lived about two or three miles from the city school by bus, I hopped on the Q14 and made it to Q.C. I had never been on campus and knew nothing about how colleges worked. I asked a passing person where I can find out about applying to the school. I was told that the admissions office was straight ahead on the quadrangle (whatever that was).

At that point in my development, I was somewhat shy about not knowing what I was doing. I entered the rather old building (Queens College used to be a women’s detention center and was converted into a college in 1937). I spied a sign that said admission’s office. I was fortunate that the women behind the counter were very kind. The saw the sign of stupidity on my face and must have taken pity.

I asked to apply to Queens College. They asked me a myriad of questions to which I had only a few answers. They told me that I could apply, but there was little chance that I could get in. To be entered, or enrolled, you had to have a 94% average from your high school if you were a girl and a 90% if you were a boy. Yes, I know that was discrimination, but those were the rules. Guess what, I did not qualify. I was about to leave when one of the helpful ladies said. Sometimes we have people who apply, get in and don’t enroll.

I did not understand that then, but I do know it now. That is a common feature of college enrollment. Lots of students apply for a number of schools and only choose one and do not show up to the other for which they were granted admission. I could fill out an application and leave it with them. They would call me to take an entrance exam, since my grades were not sufficient to get in the regular way. It was there way of testing to see if I could really be a college student.

A week later, I was sitting in a large unairconditioned lecture lab taking an entrance exam. I do not remember anything about the exam. As with times in the future, I always did well on those sorts of things. I probably would have done o.k. on the SAT’s. But no one told me to take them.

Another week passed of me babysitting for my sister, when I got a note in the mail telling me that I was admitted to Queens College and that I should decide on a major and show up to choose my courses. Since my brother-in-law had majored in accounting, that’s what I chose.

I arrived at the gymnasium, pen in hand to register for courses. I had no idea what any of that meant. I selected five three credit courses. I can remember some of them, Accounting 101, Calculus, English 101, Classical Civilization (gave those books to my grandson recently), and art. Hey, I remembered them all.

My schedule was all screwed up. I would show up for my 8:00 am. Accounting class on Monday morning and not have another class till three. That would give me 5 hours to study and do my accounting homework. The trouble was that I understood nothing of my homework. It was a practice set of books from a mythical company. I could not remember any of the terminology.

So, I general spent the next five hours playing basketball or eating lunch. After my three o’clock class, I would go to freshman soccer practice. I would get home at about 7:00 taking a bus to Jewel Avenue and then walking home. I had no intention of doing any of my homework. I might have read a science fiction story, or watch wrestling with my stepfather. When he started working the nightshift, I watched alone. I also had some time to watch my sister.

I flunked calculus. I have never been a great math student, but not someone who flunks. I liked my other courses other than accounting. There was something about accounting that did not have a reality to it. I do not guess I was never near a real accountant, nor was I familiar with taxes and tax returns. I did pass the course, but started to realize that I was heading in the wrong direction.

My second semester was a bit better. I actually passed calculus with a C. However, the most important thing that semester was me catching for the freshman baseball team. I caught a freshman named Lou DeBole, who eventually went pro with the Phillie organization. I think I remember him having an incredible year with the Reading Phillies sometime later at 13-1. I then heard he hurt his arm and could not continue.

The second most important thing that happened is that my second attempt at passing calculus saw me sitting next to Butterfly McQueen of Gone with the Wind Fame. She was beginning college the same time I was. I think that she may have been 45 or so. Yes, she did have kind of a squeaky voice. She was a really nice person and made no fuss about who she was. I looked her up a few years ago and found out that she really got her degree from Queens College.

My grades in my second semester were influenced by my basketball playing and varsity soccer playing. I played center forward and wound up playing more defense than offense. Offense was taken care of by Peter Myer, who had played on the Dutch National Soccer team. I have very little memory of most of the games, but I do know that we beat Hofstra 8-0 and I think Pete scored most of the goals. It was getting the ball and give it to Pete.

The spring of 1956 was significant because I became a pledge for a local fraternity called Phi Lambda Delta. It was a city fraternity and existed in the city schools, Queens, City College and Hunter College. I don’t believe that it existed in Brooklyn College. The group was more interested in helping others, even though it was not a service frat. It also did lots of unusual things, like inviting Sherman Wu, a student at either Wisconsin or Minnesota, who was denied entry into a fraternity there for ethnic reasons. We inducted him by long range. Those were the kind of things we did.

We also loved to go out and have pizza. Some of the older guys had licenses and cars. In New York City, you could not get a license until you were 18. We would pile into a car and travel up Union Turnpike to eat at a pizza place of our choosing.

Courses were getting to be annoying. I took French, a higher level accounting course, Classical Civilization 11, Biology and the next English class. I flunked none of them. I was happy with the c’s that I got.

Fall of 1956 and I was a full-fledged member of Phi Lambda Delta. We had lots of parties and soirees. I don’t remember too much about it, except for the girls. Since I was always two years younger than any of the girls in my class, I resorted to going out with seniors in high school. I did a number of those and had a reasonable good time.

I also worked Saturdays and Sundays at a local Pharmacy. I took care of the lunch counter and was not only the short order cook, but the server and the clean-up man. I am not sure what my hourly rate was, but I did bring home a bunch of tips.

By the spring of 1957, I had this feeling that I was not long for college life. It was not just the classes and the grades. I was more interested in outside things. I had been appointed to be the sports editor of one of the school newspapers. That meant that I had to attend lots of sporting events including my fall jaunt with the soccer team. I reported on basketball and baseball and did not much else.

In February of 1957, I decided that I was going to leave school and go into the Army. The draft was still on and I was able to push up my number and be drafted for a two year term. My mother was pretty upset with me. She thought that it was a rotten idea. For some reason she thought that by getting my father’s side of the family together, they would persuade me not to enter the service.

The funny thing was that we had little communication with my father’s family. To this day, I am not sure why she did not invite her siblings and children to try and convince me. The most disheartened person of all was my baby sister. I had kind of raised her. At seven years old, she could not fathom what was going on. They were all not successful. So, on March 7, 1957. I took a bus to Fort Dix and began my Army career.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW TO HELP RURAL COMMUNITIES

“I’m from the North and I can tell you what’s wrong with your schools and I can tell you how to fix them.” What are the implications of those words when folks from rural schools and communities hear that? The first thing they do is turn you off. It’s not a North/South thing it’s just the imperiousness of the tone and the know it all look that these interlopers (maybe even carpetbaggers) are giving you.

Having spent a good part of my life in rural areas, I can tell you the first set of words that come to rural people’s minds when they hear you are from another place, not their town-SUSPICION. There are no more apprehensive people than rural people when you approach them with a great desire to tell them, “the right way of doing things.”

Even when we were running scholarship programs in N.Y. West Va. and PA. And were doling out bunches of money, people were suspicious. In one small town in rural N.Y., we offered a scholarship of $50,000 over four years to a young lady. Her self-ordained minister told her that this was a gift from the devil and that she should not take it. We spoke to the guidance counselor and he told us that this self-ordained minister had impregnated his girlfriend at the senior prom.

We are both of the opinion that to be of some help to rural communities, you should spend a bunch of time learning the community. Your job is not to tell, but to listen and ask questions. People will be more than happy to help you with that the older folks will be able to tell you the history of the place. If you make yourself available to community events, just showing up, that will tell people that you really are interested in them.

It will take time and a great deal of patience. In some places it may be more closed off than others. There are so many roadblocks to a successful volunteer experience. Some people are not actually suited to a volunteer situation.

A school or school district has its own personality. The variables include such things as their history, geography, staff interest (you might be a threat), administrative interest, economics (don’t ever go into a rural school with excessive jewelry, expensive clothing and shoes, outward symbols of wealth), and traditions.

The community has to see that you will love their children. It’s easier to love the younger ones in the elementary school. It is more difficult to love the middle schoolers and the high school students. As it turns out, most volunteers wind up working with the younger children. The sad thing is that one does what one is comfortable doing. That is o.k. in a number of situations.

As you spend more time in the schools, you will realize that there are things that have to get done that you are not comfortable with. I am not speaking about subject matter, but such ancillary things as helping students apply to a college, technical school, or just listening to what they have to say.

Like any school or school district, they have their own priorities. The school district for which I was superintendent had three priorities, music, basketball and science. For a school district of 2400 students and 3 state basketball championships, many bands (and many choruses in churches and community bands) and a number of prominent science graduates were the pride of the community.

These are some of the things that a volunteer should take a look at. It might even be a good idea to go to a couple of school board meetings. Seems like a lot to do just to read to first graders. Maybe it is, but I can tell you that you will understand your children a bit more when they tell you of their problems.

WHEN THE FEDERAL MARSHALS COME

There were a number of times over the last few months I have been tempted to write political diatribes about what is going on in Washington and in our country. I have restrained myself and have concentrated on doing some writing about education in the Palmetto state. This is the first time that Carol (my wife) and I have tried to write something together.

However, when I arose this morning, done my morning ablutions and exercises, I turned on the news (probably the wrong thing to do) and saw our 45th President standing in front of a large group police folks and saying something that placed me in a state of animalistic frenzy. At that moment I was ready to reach through the television set to do something violent.

Our president told the gathered police that they should be rough when they throw people to the back of the paddy wagon. They should also, when putting these people in the back of squad cars, remove their hands from the tops of these people’s heads presumably so that they would bask their skulls on the door frames.

Is there any doubt in your mind, having followed this megalomaniac for the past few years that he is not a stable human being? As with all people of this kind, he can never face the people he is berating face to face. I was struck by the words of a 20 year marine, who is transgender, saying to the president that he wants him to go face to face with him and have the president tell her that she is “not worthy.”

There is some evidence that during his tenure in business, he never faced anyone that he was going to fire. It appears that he is doing the same thing as president. He is the quintessential bully. He appears to put other people between him and the people he want to get rid of. Follow his act with Jeff Sessions, Jim Comey, Michael Flynn, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Sally Yates, and Preet Bharara among others.

Luckily, none of these people were taken away by the police or the palace guards. They left in a non-dignified manner, but were not manhandled.

However, this is now my most fervent dream. When the president is removed from office for obstruction of justice, or impeachment, or some other legal way, I hope that the police, the secret service or the federal marshals, do not put their hands on his head when he is shoved into the back of a police car.

AN HOMAGE TO DECENT PEOPLE

The word “decent” isn’t used much these days. Somehow, it has receded into the past as so much of our vocabulary has. I want to clarify its usage by eliminating other words that have come to replace it and not come close enough to be a synonym. Let me say that the following words are not what I mean- good, kind, charitable, religious, pious, benevolent, hardworking, etc. The closest word is mensch, a Yiddish word that literally translates into “person.”

I believe that I can only clarify the word “decent” by description. Here are a few. Lester was my maintenance supervisor when I was a school superintendent in Pennsylvania. He was an obvious Pennsylvania Dutchman with a really great accent. When the time came for speaking in Dutch, he put it on as thick as peanut butter. I do speak some Dutch and he even surprised me when was speaking to some of his friends or community residents.

Lester did not lie, nor tell stories, nor did he offer up his services for other people. He did all of the work that he had to do and did it well. He never complained and never bragged about any of his accomplishments either as a civilian or a 4 year navy veteran. He was plain spoken, a clear eyed father to his children and a wonderful husband to his wife Anna.

You always knew you could count on him in a pinch. My children loved him. We had a teacher strike during my tenure as superintendent and I worried about them being in town. I called Lester and asked if they could stay with him and Anna. He told me that he would be right over. Lester was the consummate decent man.

Tom was my attorney when we sued the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on behalf of 214 rural school districts. Tom worked for an upscale law firm that took the case on a fee for service and eventually, when we ran out of money, pro-bono. Tom was the lawyer for most of that time.

To speak with Tom, even now, is a treat to my ears. In his expansive role at this high class firm, in which he is now of counsel, he always answers my calls and seems to be happy to speak with me. We have gone through some tough times together.

Tom spent lots of time keeping me at an even keel. He taught me whatever I have learned about forbearance. His quiet and thoughtful ways enabled me to see clearly how we might proceed with our pleadings. In some ways, he would caution me about going out on a limb. It was never a direct statement, but some kind words in my ears.

Eventually, our Supreme Court said that our case was none of their business, even though the constitution was clear about how the state should proceed with funding. Tom had warned us that might occur, so even at the beginning of the case; he created a 501C4 corporation that cold lobby the legislature.

He was correct, our lobbying was successful and we were able to increase the state’s share of school funding to rural schools. I don’t remember Tom ever raising his voice to direct us. As a matter of fact, in the 27 years that I have known him, I have never heard him raise his voice beyond a conversational tone. He is a truly decent man.

When I came to be the executive director of a regional education service agency in western Pennsylvania, I found the financial part of the organization in a shambles. By Buck Day (hunting) in November, I fired the business manager. We then proceeded to go through the process of hiring someone to fill that position

There was something about Andy (Andrea) that struck us all in the interview. She was a plain spoken person who came from the area and had worked in the accounting department of a large company. Even though she was not familiar with public school finance, we hired her.

What we did not know at the time was that this wonderful salt of the earth person would help us make the organization a vibrant and expansive entity. I don’t believe that I can tell you the extent of her improvements, not only in the business department, but in our relations with the seventeen school districts we serviced.

Andy never pushed people to do their jobs. Her calm and plain spoken words came through to people, including school superintendents. She set up a health program for our organization and the seventeen school districts. She helped the business offices in many of our districts. It appeared that she could just about do anything.

There was something that occurred on a regular basis that made all of us understand how she dealt with problems. Our executive staff, five of us, exclusive of Andy, had all been in education. Our once a week staff meetings were education oriented. It became obvious to me that we were speaking in a language that Andy was not conversant with. One day, a few weeks into her tenure, Andy came to see me.

She looked at me and said, “Arnold, I have no idea sometimes what we are talking about at staff meetings.” She suggested that we go out for dinner once in a while, drink a glass of wine, and answer her questions. I was both flabbergasted and delighted.

We did go out for dinner a number of times at the beginning of our working relationship. After a while, Andy knew what we were talking about. That symbolized Andy. She was bright enough to understand that she needed to solve that problem. Her demeanor was one of quietude and Western Pennsylvania speech.

Of all the folks that I worked with at that time, I miss her the most. Unfortunately, the year that I left, a stroke felled her. She was unconscious for 3 months. When she awoke, she was unable to speak, read or write or do anything computational. At that point, she and her boyfriend of many years married. He took care of Andy and still does to his very day.

I think of her often these days. She was the quintessential decent person.

NEAL MADE ME DO IT

NEAL MADE ME DO IT !!!

The other day, my good friend Neal, reminded me that I had not written a blog in a while. I looked back at the dates and he was correct. For some reason I was paying attention to home life more than my obligations to Jean Jacques Crawb. So, you can blame Neal for this blog and any mistakes that I might make in it.

Since this is Neal’s idea, it will also be his blog. Carol and I met Neal and his wife Mary when we moved to Harrisburg and joined a temple there. I believe that we hit it off right away because of our senses of humor. At that point Neal and Mary had a little boy Ben, who was about two and Mary was ready to give birth to twins. I can still see them lying on the floor of their living room cooing and laughing.

Neal and I both got onto the Temple Board at about the same time. He eventually became the treasurer. However, that’s not the highlight of his career. He and I used to fool around at board meetings and probably drove some people crazy. It’s not as if we were fooling around, but we each had views that were at variance with the majority of the board.

Now you must understand that Neal and I do not share political views. He is a real conservative (not like the common term used today). He is for smaller government, individual enterprise, and fairness to those who need help. I am more to the left of center (you probably knew that) and we would actually discuss these topics before, during and after the board meetings.

Neal used to drive Carol crazy when she spent 3 years as president of the synagogue. He would make her laugh and lose track of what she was trying to do. Neal is not just a talker. He is a doer of the highest order. He was able to computerize our synagogue, put our budget on it, create a homepage, and organize painting the entire downstairs (social room) of the synagogue. Help his son Ben and Friends to build a handicap ramp on the side of the building. He honchoed so many things that made our temple a better place.

Lately, during the summer, the entire clan comes to Myrtle Beach, SC and meets us in Charleston. Neal used to complain that he could not get Whoopie Pies in Harrisburg. So, we sent him a couple of boxes. When we meet in Charleston, there is a Whoopie Pie General Store. He buys a bunch.

The twin girls, Rachel and Nancy have graduated from college. Cannot believe that they are as old as they are. Nancy works at a local hospital in Harrisburg. Rachel does her thing with a marketing company and in her spare time she does a website for South Carolina Organization of Rural Schools (SCORS). They are both delightful young women. Yes, they do have that twin thing and are so close to each other. Rachel just purchased a house and Nancy lives there too.

All of this does not explain Neal and his family. Mary, his wife, is a one of a kind person. There are no limits to her ability to keep track of her family, which also includes her mom. There is much of her in the twins and in her son Ben, who will be married soon.

We keep in touch with everyone including Mary’s mom Mary. They are a delight to be around. Maybe we can con them into moving to Charleston.