Prof. Patrick Kimball

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Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, United States

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Reincarnation

Christians do not believe in reincarnation
whereby the Hindus keep coming back
in new bodies with the same soul
or some sort of life essence therein.

The backbone of Christian belief,
is that the person of Jesus Christ is an
incarnation of the Almighty God who dies
and is resurrected, i.e. comes to life again.

N.T. Wright would have us believe that
our notions of a heaven or celestial sphere
are completely erroneous, that in fact
we will all come to bodily life again.

Leaving that theological conundrum aside,
our life experiences sometimes bring up
the feeling that we have received events
of another's life in our subconscious.

For reasons entirely unknown, the demise
of a confederate general at Gettysburg has
affixed my memory as something I can
visualize and describe in detail.

I have recited my ballad of Lewis Armistead
to many who were willing to listen and
perhaps to some who wish they hadn't,
but his saga still lives on with me.

My earthly companion believes rather more
strongly than I in reincarnation, whereas I
always say that I hope it's not true because I
certainly don't want to repeat high school.

We do share the certainty that two young
college students on an art tour to Rome many
years hence will feel that they have fulfilled
a return of their forebears to Trevi fountain.

Then there was a dream of mine last night
wherein a group of teachers piled into cars
to visit a ramshackle building in a rundown
section of some unknown city.

On the way, I was immediately attracted to
an adjacent young woman I did not know.
She spoke very little but seemed to sense
something between the two of us.

On the way back, we were put in separate cars,
but she smiled as if to say, "We'll meet again!"
When I woke up the next morning, I realized
that her beautiful face was right next to me!

Where is Freud when you need him?
What put us in adjacent seats at the
Cape Cod Symphony six years ago?
Was it all part of God's eternal plan?


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Children's Names

As a follow-up to my screed on "My First Name," I thought I should broadcast what I
remember about how we chose names for our four children.  It is certainly true that
parents can damage their offspring for life by poor choices.  I learned later how to
deflect the stage-Irish image of my name by saying that I was an English Patrick.
Whether anyone believed me or not, it stopped conversation dead on March 17th.

In effect, your mother named the first two, with practically no input from me.  I don't
remember how she came up with David, but it does reflect the Welsh origin of the
Kimball name.  The Stuart middle name comes directly from Grandmom's mother, who
was from that clan in Scotland.  We were told they were the royal Stuarts, of course.
The tie that I gave Devin is a Stuart plaid from the Wee Scot's House at Rockefeller
Center.

Now the next in line was expected to be a girl, for no other reason than that's what Mom
wanted.  When I saw her after she came out of the anesthetic, she wailed, "It's another
boy!"  "That's wonderful, I said."  And it was, and it is.  She decided on Steven as a
first name.  She didn't like Stephen, for some reason.  The Scott reflects both her
Scottish heritage, and the maiden name of Ursula Scott, the wife of Richard Kimball
who brought us to the New World.  We expected to call him Scott, but somehow that
never materialized, so he has always been "Steven, with a V".

You have already heard the genesis of Jean Darcy, which was supposed to be my name
if I had been born a girl.  My mother was greatly assuaged for that loss by our girl.
My mother had been christened Eugenie Marie, for the empress of France, and for Eugene
and Mary, her parents.  As soon as she could walk and talk, she became Jean.  Darcy
was her grandmother's last name.  Ellen Darcy married Patrick Costello.  She was
called "Nellie" and had six children, only one of whom married.  I know absolutely
nothing about the Irish families, except that they came from County Mayo.

You also know that Amy was no accident.  Mom and other women in Winnetka wanted
another child at age 34, before they had to fly up to the Senior Women's Club.  No
kidding, that's a fact.  The baby boom was still in full swing, and a whole lot of fourth,
fifth, and sixth children were added to families.  I was for calling our baby, Caroline
Howe, after my indomitable grandmother from Maine, who was the first principal of
the high school in Oshkosh.  Unfortunately, Caroline Kennedy was in the White House,
so we didn't want people to think our child would be named for her.  That's the kind of
tortured reasoning parents face in naming a child.  We liked the name, Amy, meaning
beloved, but for no good reason, kept the Howe as her middle name.  Amy liked the
name, except she couldn't stand the song, "Once in Love With Amy."

Now I have four grandchildren:  Hilary Ann, Devin Stuart, Emily Suzanne, Timothy
John, Jr., Lydia Dean, Charles Morton, and Nancy Howe.  If, as, and when I ever see
great-grandchildren, I wonder what their names will be!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Hub Visit

We needed a little break from winter gloom,
so we hied up to The Hub for a weekend.
Unfortunately, it was mostly bitter cold
and windy, but we persevered in our outings.

About half the aim of the trip was to
eat our way through the fine restaurants,
and that succeeded inestimably, for most
were within walking distance of the hotel.

Which was the Boston Park Place Plaza,
a great old barn just a short block south
of the Public Gardens and the soul
of the city at the Boston Common.

The establishments were Legal Sea Food,
well-known throughout the commonwealth,
Maggiano's Little Italy, thus saving us from
having to make an expedition to the North End.

Fleming's Steakhouse features fifty dollar
steaks, but they are so big that it is wise
to share; one father we saw meted out
slices to members of his family.

Smith and Wollensky now occupies a
stone triangular former armory
completely refurbished on the inside,
also requiring sharing pricey items.

Being members of the Museum of Fine Arts,
we had to visit again, this time concentrating
on small exhibitions of jewelry and costumes.
Lunch in the vast new atrium in the wing.

Walked over to the Gardner Museum
at the edge of The Fens to see their addition
and tour again Isabella's collection and
admire the Italian courtyard in bloom.

Attended Morning Prayer at Trinity Church,
a throwback to the glorious days of clergy
and choir in full kit, psalms and canticles,
processional led up the aisle by the verger.

At the Huntington Theater, a play entitled
"Venus in Fur," two people in the
Battle of the Sexes for an hour and a half.
James Thurber did that much better.

Beware of a small room on the air shaft,
facing a circular fan vent that howled.
We complained, were moved to a
better room, and received a free breakfast.

We wanted to make a pilgrimage to the
finish line of the Boston Marathon, but
the icy wind was too much to resist,
so we will come back in better weather.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

On Not Being a Veteran

My son, the lawyer sent me a salute for Veterans' Day, enclosing
Kipling's famous poem about Tommy Atkins, the British regular.
Herewith, my reply:

"For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;"

That is a refrain that I memorized a long time ago.  Funny, I don't consider
myself a real veteran.  I was never in combat, serving on border duty in
Germany during the Korean War.  Twenty-nine of my classmates died in
Korea.  And one who was a BG had a mortar round fall on him in Viet Nam.
Four others died in the air in that war.

Otherwise, the rest of us had our harrowing experiences in training.  Quite
a few hot pilots were lost in training accidents, including our top scholar.  I
survived a jeep rollover, which I never told your mother about.  Once
a rolling artillery barrage fell short.  I shouted, "Hit the deck!" only to see
that I was the only one still standing.

An incident that I will never forget is when I had to pull a tank out of a
stream with my tank retriever. I had everyone button up while we slowly
winched the tank up the bank.  I stood outside guiding the operation.  If
the cable had snapped, which sometimes happens, I wouldn't be here.
Thereafter, I was afraid of nothing, and scaled mountains hand over hand
with reckless abandon!  If your number is up; it's up.  If not, carry on.

Every now and then, I find myself treated with respect, which I don't
deserve.  "Thank you for your service," I have heard.  Still, I salute when
Taps is played, indoors or out.  And at ball games, I leave my cap on and
salute during the national anthem.  No one says a word.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ode to Joy

Gloom pervades the nation.
The health care plan is failing.
NSA is reading our email.
Congress faces another impasse.

Lack of employment continues.
Cities and states go broke.
Roads and bridges collapse.
Innocent people are gunned down.

Is there no end to this madness?
Are we doomed to a dour destiny?
Shall calumny and ignominy
Be the country's zeitgeist?

Ah, but somewhere in
This besieged nation,
Joy reigns supreme.
Citizens are happy!

For on the sainted sod
Of Fenway Park, the Red Sox
Became champions again for
The third time in this dismal century.

People came to work today
With goofy grins on their faces,
Wishing, "Have a nice day!"
And really meaning it.

A million New Englanders
Crowded Boston streets
To photograph their heroes,
While they took pictures of us.

We celebrate the fact that
Our ballplayers act like
Working people, not
Whiny, sullen, prima donnas.

There was no "I" on the Boston team,
Just a bunch from everywhere
Who wanted to win for us.
They did; we can too.

Like them, we can solve our problems,
Manage successfully, get the job done,
Be a credit to ourselves and our country,
And never give up!

Monday, July 8, 2013

George Arthur Lincoln

The curriculum at West Point
Is almost unrecognizable to its old grads.
See the article in the current issue
Of "West Point," a publication for graduates.

Entitled "Interdisciplinary Curriculum =
Intellectual Capital," projects are described
That require research and innovation by
Cadets toward solving defense related issues.

Whereas the academy was once the first
And for a time the only U.S. engineering school;
A plethora of majors in diverse fields at West Point
Now resembles the traditional liberal arts college.

The difference, of course, is that cadets
Graduate to service with a single employer,
Therefore everything has to be aimed at
The utility of their education to the U.S. Army.

How did this radical change in academics occur?
One clue is the career of George A. Lincoln.
If you search his name on the internet,
Two references bring up a lengthy description.

The first is "The Lincoln Brigade --
One Story of the Faculty of the
USMA Department of Social Sciences"
By CPT Martha S. H. VanDriel

The second is Chapter One of the book:
"The Insurgents: David Petraeus and
The Plot to Change the American Way of War"
 By Fred Kaplan, Simon & Schuster, 2013.

Judging from what these authors state,
Colonel Lincoln was the primary mover in
The change of emphasis in the curriculum
At the U.S. Military Academy.

Colonel Lincoln was an impressive individual.
I remember that he gave some lectures to
Our classes in Military History, although
I don't recall the specific subject.

There is a parallel in what he did at West Point
And my much more modest accomplishments
In starting a new academic department and
Curriculum in Management at Pace University.

Monday, July 1, 2013

1949 Class Notes

Members of the Class of 1949
At the West Point Military Academy
(Formerly known as the U.S.Military Academy)
Will be between 85 and 90 this year, 2013.

That is quite a spread in age,
Entirely due to wartime conditions in 1945.
Many were already in the army,
Looking for a college education.

When the West Shore train stopped
At West Point that July, those who
Trooped up the hill looked like a mixture
Of draftees and those already enlisted.

Many of the World War Two veterans
In the crowd departed the first week.
They did not expect nor would they countenance
The juvenile hazing that greeted new cadets.

They went on to the G.I. bill for education
Leaving a depleted collection of plebes at West Point
Consisting largely of sons of graduates
And youngsters not yet drafted, like me.

Often when we get together for a reunion,
We marvel that such a disparate group
Came together as a class and were able to
Maintain that spirit down through the years.

Some of us drifted  away from military careers
After we had served the requisite period of service.
But we all agree that the privilege of attending
West Point was a singular preparation for life.

So here's to those who turn ninety this year
From your young comrades of eighty-five.
May you all be present at next year's
65th celebration of our graduation!