Saturday, July 31, 2010


   At one time, I was actually a pretty rugged young man. Somewhat lacking in 'altitude', but endowed with an overabundance of 'attitude'. In those days, when I was freshly moved off the farms, I was up for just about anything, especially so if monetary gain was involved. At that time, in the little city near my hometown, every Friday & Saturday night had entertainment in the form of boxing matches in the National Guard Armory.
   The participants in these bouts were a pairing of local talent versus guys from the 'Job Training Center' in the big city 100 miles away. Most of these guys were street smart, brawling, very fit city fellows, some of who were actually semi-pro boxers at one time. There was a 'promoter' who would rent the armory and pay a group of these 'job trainees' to engage in fisticuffs with the local challengers.
   For the challengers, the motivation was simple. Last 3 two-minute rounds and take home $50, a princely sum in those days. If you went out earlier than 3 rounds you still got $10 for trying. To a young pup like me, more endowed with solid muscle than brain, this was too good to pass up.
   The first few times I tried I lasted easily and even tried a couple times in one night on occasion. Finally came a day when I was paired with the 'trainee' light-heavyweight champion. I was way short on reach and height, but weighed solidly into this class. As fate would have it, the guy was very susceptible to an opponent who could get 'inside' his reach and pummel him with short, hard body blows.
   As this fit my style perfectly, I easily lasted the three rounds. At that time the 'promoter' came to my corner and told me I'd get $25 for each additional round. Whoa! Christmas in the summer! I gladly accepted and lasted 15 full rounds and lost on points. Still, I was ecstatic, and $350 richer for the effort.
   Well, this went on with different opponents for a few weeks, with me lasting the entire 15 rounds at times. To make it even better, the 'bonus' money was raised to $40 per round. Of course, unbeknown to my dumb young self, that was a mere pittance compared to the dough the 'promoter' was making by running illegal betting action on the side.
   After a lucrative summer, it all came crashing down one night when my opponent turned out to be a tall, extremely well muscled, young black man with incredibly long arms. Oh well, I'd faced worse, or so I thought. The bell rang and we were off, until he sent his first punch my way. Damn that hurt. It was soon followed by a seemingly leisurely string of similar punches, each as painful as the first. I'd yet to land a single punch as he continually danced away, coming in only to land another painful assault on my battered face.
   Finally, after one and a half rounds of him pounding on me at will, my brain kicked in and when the next solid hit arrived I went down like a lead balloon. I lay there listening to the world around me and doing my best NOT to revive, even when smelling salts were tried. I merely snorted, turned away, and continued to be 'out'. 
  This went on to the roaring of the crowd until a friend and another man came with a stretcher and orders to 'take him to the hospital'. As they were loading my 'unconscious' body, I foolishly opened one eye a bit to look around, an action caught by my pal who immediately and loudly declared, "He's not out!"; to which I responded, "Shut up and get me out of here!" in as loud a voice as I dared.
   Sadly for me, it wasn't quiet enough and the 'promoter' heard me. This made him VERY irate for some reason. He not only refused to pay me the consolation money, he banned me from future participation. Seems he was rather confident my hard head and stubborn streak would last at least the three rounds and had bet heavily on me at long odds. Apparently this was detrimental to his bankroll, and him thinking I took a 'dive' didn't help. I didn't really take a 'dive', he actually knocked me down. I merely declined to get up and face his 'fists of death' any longer. Thus ended my short, but lucrative, boxing career. 
   Until next we meet, take care & be safe.

Friday, July 16, 2010

'Herbie' the Yarmouth Elm (Maine)

Some old trees don't disappear, they get transformed.

Yarmouth was home to New England’s largest American Elm tree – affectionately known since the 1950s as “Herbie” – that used to reign over the corner of Yankee Drive and East Main Street. Like so many American Elms, Herbie finally succumbing to Dutch Elm Disease, an introduced fungus that is spread by bark beetles. After decades of diligent effort by Yarmouth’s volunteer Tree Wardens Frank Knight and Debbie Hopkins and 217 years of life, Herbie was removed in January of 2010. Yarmouth has lost nearly 800 American Elms to this disease in the past fifty years, although none as grand as Herbie. In honor of Herbie’s legacy, the Town of Yarmouth seeks to replace this majestic tree and others lost in previous years with new, disease-resistant elms and other types of trees. In order to do this, Yarmouth is creating a Tree Trust.
What is a Tree Trust?

A Tree Trust is an investment in Yarmouth’s quality of place. The large, broad-leaved trees lining the streets of Yarmouth need care and eventual replacement. The cost associated with these activities is considerable, but the benefits of street trees more than justify the expense.

The Town of Yarmouth is asking for donations from citizens, businesses and friends of Herbie to help fund Herbie’s removal and replacement but especially to create a Yarmouth Tree Trust. Your contribution will ensure our town will remain green and beautiful for our children and grandchildren’s future.

If you're interested in 'Herbie' products, please click here to visit project site home page.

Below is a video clip from the 'Herbie' site. To see more click here

Until next we meet, stay safe and be well.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Thoughts on the 5th of July

"...she's a Grand Old Rag Flag..."

  And with that simple line and a little more, a wonderfully insightful and very special friend broke through my writer's blogger's block and inspired these post July 4th musings; and here's some of the stuff I discovered, some new, some known, all neat to know. I hope you like reading it as much as I liked posting it.
   To start, a well known and respected polling group of 4 polling agencies recently conducted a collaborative poll of native born U.S. citizens, both genders, voters who DO vote, high school grads or better, ALL races in proportion to the population, fully employed, aged 30-45; and found that an amazing 26% total didn't know we won our independence from Great Britain!
   Thankfully, those dolts are not likely to read this, so if I insult their lack of interest in the country of their birth, that offered them an education (if they bothered taking it seems doubtful), provided work opportunities to feed & care for their families, and protects them from the various boogymen we're warned of incessantly, WHO CARES! For those who will read this, again, I hope you enjoy it.
  The United States is about more than just the founding fathers. Here are some of the lesser known women who made their mark in making the United States an independent nation.

1)For many, the Boston Tea Party is synonymous with the uprising leading to the war. But Boston wasn't the first tea party, Penelope Barker's Edenton Tea Party was:

Months before any active independence movement, Penelope Barker led the Edenton Tea Party. Unlike the better known Boston Tea Party, Penelope and more than 50 women did not dress up in costumes to show the British how they felt. Penelope wrote up a declaration against the use of tea, and clothes made from British cloth. All the women at the meeting signed. The British, naturally, laughed at women protesting. Women's opinions at the time were not considered important. The British took notice as more women joined the boycott of British goods. But, without firing a shot, these women let Britain know where the power lies -in the hands of those who rock the cradle. Women joined their men in showing the British that they, too, would not stand for taxation without representation.

2) Everyone learns in school of the midnight ride of minuteman Paul Revere, but no one ever studies the even longer ride of Sybil Ludington:

Sybil's ride became necessary because the British had ransacked Danbury, Connecticut. DanburyFredricksburg, New York. A young soldier arrived at Sybil's father's house. Colonel Ludington was in charge of the local volunteers. Needing someone to go at once to gather the troops, Sybil jumped at the chance. She rode to the many villages, informing everyone what was happening. Thanks to her bravery, the Patriots were able to force the British back to Long Island Sound. From there, they sailed away.

3) And Sybil wasn't the only woman to assist on the line. There was also Minutewoman Prudence Wright:

With their men out looking for British soldiers, Prudence Wright gathered the women of Groton, Massachusetts. They would defend the bridge leading into town. Putting on their husbands clothes, they looked a sight. The armed themselves with whatever they could get their hands on, some using pitchforks. They hid in the reeds until a British officer came by, given away by his horse's hooves on the bridge. The women removed the secret messages he was carrying, passing them on to the local Patriot Committee of Safety. Back home, the women laughed at the surprise of the British officer when he found out that he had been had by women.

4)Many people know of General George Washington and his role in leading the troops during the Revolution. But few know of the woman who may have single-handedly assisted in turning the war around. Meet Catherine Moore Berry:

It was l781. The British, under command of General Cornwallis was out to crush a group of Patriots commanded by a General Morgan. General Morgan, realizing how out-manned he was, appealed to Catherine Moore Barry for help. She knew every inch of the land she lived in. She knew all the short cuts, the trail, where Patriots lived, and how to contact them. Single-handedly, Catherine rounded up the necessary local Patriots to join General Morgan's troops. With Catherine's help, General Morgan laid a trap for General Corwallis and his men. The plan worked. General Cornwallis was defeated, retreating into the hands of General Washington... at Yorktown, Virginia. With his surrender there, the colonies won their independence from Britain.

    And now, back to the story behind the 'sub-title' of this post, as sent by my friend:

The original lyric for this perennial George M. Cohan favorite came, as Cohan later explained, from an encounter he had with a Civil War veteran who fought at Gettysburg. The two men found themselves next to each other and Cohan noticed the vet held a carefully folded but ragged old flag. The man reportedly then turned to Cohan and said, "She's a grand old rag." Cohan thought it was a great line and originally named his tune "You're a Grand Old Rag." So many groups and individuals objected to calling the flag a "rag," however, that he "gave 'em what they wanted" and switched words, renaming the song "You're a Grand Old Flag."
(Courtesy Library of Congress)

"Add now", as long-lived radio commentator Paul Harvey would say, "you know....the rest.....of the story!"
Until next time, stay well and stay safe.