About Me

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Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, United States

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!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Maine Coast

Follow the photos at:


The genesis of our drive up the Maine Coast was Hurricane Irene in 2011,
which blew our cruise ship out to sea, preventing a call to Bar Harbor.
We decided to begin the drive in Portland, staying with Deloris, a great
friend of Barbara, who had moved there from the Cape.  Then we would
go on to Camden, Bar Harbor, and Waterville where granddaughter Emily
is a coach of track and field at Colby College.

You see, first, scenes of the waterfront in Portland, which is about all that
we were able to do, as a downtown celebration would take over the next
day.  The buildings along the waterfront once functioned as chandlers,
coopers, victualers, and rope walks for the many sailing ships of earlier
centuries.  Good dinner there, too, at the Farmer's Table.

After church on Sunday at St. Mary's in Falmouth, Maine, to Freeport for
the obligatory pilgrimage to the L.L. Bean campus.  In addition, Beane
had a weekend exhibition of water sports, to try out and perhaps buy
kayaks and paddle boards.  B and Deloris had to be outfitted with PFDs,
although they had no intention of getting their feet wet.  I scoped out the
kayaks, which would be good for launching from our place on the Cape.

On to Camden, a picture perfect coastal village, just in time to miss the
hordes who descend upon it in the summer.  Stayed at the Whitehall Inn,
old and historical.  Up Mt. Battie, a hill in a state park, overlooking the
harbor and coastline.  Splendid views.  On the next day, the deluge started
that lasted for almost three days.  Undaunted, we drove south to Rockland
to tour the Farnsworth Museum, then turned around for a difficult trek on
old Route 1 to Bar Harbor.

We had planned and reserved a carriage ride in Acadia National Park,
that we should have done from the cruise ship.  Alas, the rain forced us
to cancel, but we were able to do a long tour around the park in a bus in
the afternoon.  That morning, I drove all around the southern tip of the
park, in heavy rain, to see an establishment in Northeast Harbor called
The Kimball House.

That was a welcome surprise.  Sitting opposite Kimball Lane, and down
from Kimball Road, it is a large, well-staffed emporium containing all
manner of "home" items, designed to appeal to a discriminating clientele.
The propietor, Nancy Kimball, was not present, so I was unable to question
the local history of a Kimball family.  Our branch left Topsham, Maine,
in the 1850s, for better lumbering prospects in Wisconsin.

My camera went kaput, so the photos of the Kimball House, and succeeding
shots are from Barbara's collection.  I missed filming the Great Maine
Breakfast on Cottage Street in Bar Harbor.  Over one hundred stops by
cruise ships are made in Bar Harbor each year, so the downtown area
is awash in souvenir stores.  Even found gelato at an ice cream parlor.

On to Waterville, where Emily gave us a comprehensive tour of the
athletic facilities from her professional viewpoint.  She said she doesn't
do pickup sports anymore, thank heavens, after tearing her Achlles tendon.
My dining room table and chairs sit in tight quarters that she and Derek
occupy.  They are both into outdoor sports, hiking and canoeing.  Took
them to a very fine dinner at 18 Below in Waterville.

Back home, after three trips in three months.  No immediate plans, although
a short stay in NYC might materialize in the Fall.  We have looked into
a Collette tour of London and Paris, including riding the train through the
Chunnel.  Then my 65th reunion at West Point in May, 2014, God willing.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Frances Ha

Is a recently filmed black and white saga
Of the travails of a single twenty something
Who ricochets from place to place, attempting
To pursue her dream vocation in Manhattan.

In the early scenes, she appears to be a flake,
Engaging in mindless conversation with her peers.
Her actions are erratic, her intents unfathomable,
Until we see some unfolding of her past.

She spends Christmas with her parents
Who must have paid her fare to Sacramento.
She works during a summer at Vassar College,
Wherefrom she must have graduated.

Then things begin to fall into order,
Which you will have to see yourself.
Suffice to say that she may always be broke,
But her college expenses must have been paid.

She is, then, from a good family
Who support her in all her doings.
They welcome her brief return to the nest,
And bid her an affectionate goodbye.

This then, is a realistic portrayal of the
Recent college graduates who are just getting by.
Avenue Q painted the same picture in 2002,
Won the Toni award and played for seven years.

That musical is great fun to watch, but like
All good comedy, has a touch of heartbreak.
A critical element for examining the situation
Of young graduates is the yoke of student loans.

I have never written about my grandchildren
But their individual circumstances are representative
Of those fortunate graduates who have had their
College tuition, room, and board paid by their parents.

The oldest is a teacher in a private school in New York.
She has a master's degree in teaching ESL.
Her brother has spent four years in a seminary, is
Now looking for a non-profit position in NYC.

Both live at home, with no marital impediments.
The older child of another of my children's families
Is an assistant coach of track and field at a college in Maine,
Following pursuit of a master's in sports psychology.

Both she and her brother have ongoing relationships.
Whether and when that will become permanent is undetermined.
He attended a prestigious university to study business,
But is now an IT manager for a software firm in Chicago.

Their younger sister was Phi Beta Kappa,
At a large state university in the South.
Studying foreign relations led her to Washington
And to a succession of jobs for the government.

There are two other grandchildren in California.
One is a year from college, and will begin looking soon.
His sister has been accepted at a high school for the arts,
Being a devoted apprentice to American Musical Theater.

One wonders how life will turn out for these youngsters.
I will have to keep an eye on them from another venue.
Chances are that they will wind up in situations no one
Could possibly identify at this juncture.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cruise to Bermuda

(See photos in two albums at:



The ship got there in a hurry, in order to claim a docking space.  As it was, we were only
able to walk off on the first day.  The first two photos are of the Norwegian Dawn, at
dockside.  From there, we walked around the Royal Naval Dockyard, now strictly a
pleasure boat marina.  Shopped at the Clock Tower Mall.  All the stone.buildings were
built in the early nineteenth century, to house sailors and marines.

The scene then changes abruptly to pictures we were able to take the next day as we were
driven around the entire island.  Stops were infrequent, so some shots are from inside the
bus.  Too brief a time in Hamilton.  St. George looked inviting; I remember that we
explored it on the 1970 trip with the girls.  The pink cottage colony that we stayed in then
is long gone, replaced by new homes situated closely on every inch of space.

On the third day, we explored the new National Museum, situated in the dockyard forti-
fications.  The exhibits in one of the old buildings gave a fascinating history of the island
from 1609 to the present.  Many artifacts recovered on land and sea illustrate that the
principal industry was salvaging shipwrecks!   Bermuda is simply the rim of a volcano
surrounded and protected by coral reefs, thus inviting many crashes through the years.
You also see photos of a small beach, which is as close as we got to tourist heaven.

The final two days of the cruise were at a leisurely speed, interrupted by a small storm,
and a halt to stand by for rescue of a lone sailor.  You see a lot of pictures of the Art
Deco interior, some a little fuzzy, and the close quarters of our cabin.  Naturally, we
got out of the cabin as much as possible to enjoy whatever amusements the ship had
to offer.  It was a mixed blessing.  Obviously, the objective was to appeal to what
might be termed contemporary tastes.

This seemed to require very loud music, either live or canned, played in every venue
on board except the library.  The lounge, the central atrium. all the bars and restaurants,
and the pool deck were entertained nonstop.  No dance band, no string quartet, no soft
piano.  We are still recovering our hearing.  The theater featured a comedian who made
members of the audience do silly stunts. a stunning acrobatic duo, a transplanted Irishman,
a Second City troupe, and an imitation Bollywood musical.

Speaking of the Irishman, he told a tasteless joke about an 85 year old couple who had
to share a set of false teeth to eat at McDonald's.  The joke earned only a snigger from
the audience.  I caught up with him after another gig, and said:  "O'Malley! (not his real
name). I'm 85, my name is Patrick, and I have my own teeth.  That was not a good joke!"
Startled, he shook my hand, and said "Thank you."

We were overwhelmed by the people.  Unlike other cruises we have been on, there was
always a sea of people moving from one place to another.  Most were entirely
undistinguished by attire.  They paid a lot to go on the cruise, but they didn't look like
they could afford it.  We plead guilty to snobbery, but it was dismaying to see the
obesity epidemic writ large. Apparently, many came just to eat, others to gamble
at all hours the casino was open.   The staff, mostly Filipinos, were unfailingly gracious.

But we did accomplish our objective.  We saw the entire island of Bermuda and learned
its history and place in the world.  Bermuda is the insurance capital of the world, home
to three thousand insurance companies.  It is also a tourist destination, sort of like a
compressed Cape Cod.  We are very glad we live on Cape Cod.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Florida Sojourn

See photos at:


First, a few shots from our back deck in Yarmouth Port, looking east to Crab Creek,
Follins Pond, and Bass River, which goes south to Nantucket Sound.

MacArthur Park is on Singer Island in Palm Beach Shores.  There is a parking fee.
A tram takes you out to a splendid beach.

Mount Botanical Gardens are on Military Trail, west of the Palm Beach airport.
Features native and cultivated tropical plants.

1873 Ascott Road is the little villa we rented in Juno Beach.  It was an addition our
landlady, a realtor, had built for her parents.  No pets, no guests, very quiet setting
in a residential neighborhood.

Pelican Lake is a manmade pond just south of the town offices in Juno Beach.  The
birds with long beaks are ibises.  They stand in the water and peck for food.  They
also surrounded us, looking for handouts.  The town beach is only a 100 yard walk
from the pond.

Butterfly World, in Coconut Creek, near Fort Lauderdale, is a fascinating exhibit.
The pictures do not adequately portray it.  The butterflies are in constant motion
around the flowers, making the scene a live 3D movie.  In a separate building
tropical birds fly loose, including the little fellow who liked landing on B's head!

B's brother and his wife have a large home in Wellington that we visited twice
for outdoor collations.  They took us to The Breakers for lunch, in palatial
surroundings.  We took them to Ta-boo restaurant in Palm Beach, where people
come to see and be seen.  Size zero young ladies paraded offerings from local

Our list of pleasant eateries:

The Waterway Cafe at the Intracoastal Waterway on PGA Blvd.
Paris in Town Cafe at Route 1 on PGA Blvd.
Il Bellagio at the City Center in West Palm Beach.
The Norton Museum Cafe in West Palm Beach.
By Word of Mouth restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.
Cucina Dell'Arte in Palm Beach, on Royal Poinciana Blvd.

Attended the Church of Bethesda-By-The-Sea in Palm Beach on one Sunday.
It is one of the few remaining country club Episcopal Churches in the U.S.
Four ushers were on duty, clad in blue blazers and white pants, or skirts.

On the following Sunday, to St. David's in the Pines in Wellington.  Although
nominally Episcopalian, it is really an Anglican Church from the islands,
transplanted with its affluent black retirees to Florida.

Driving in Florida is an adventure.  Last year we coped pretty well with the
roads on the west coast.  More difficult on the east coast where you use
the interstate or turnpike to flit from one town to another, at 70 mph.  The
boulevards are fairly easy to manage, once you learn how to make a Uie.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Our deck is about thirty feet above sea level.
From it, we look east to Follins Pond
Then to Bass River, which runs south to
Nantucket Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.

Crab Creek runs around our property
From Mill Pond to Follins Pond
Giving us views of water in
All directions of the compass.

An inlet from Crab Creek goes south
To a marsh, ending at North Dennis Road.
On the bank is the annual nesting site
Of a swan couple we keep track of.

Last year, they produced six cygnets.
In a few weeks we observed
The whole family right out back
On and around the nearest point.

Those six fuzzy little brown creatures
Grew quickly, but alas, somehow
Two were missing one morning,
Probably due to predators.

There are coyotes all over Cape Cod
Who could have carried them off.
Or perhaps the huge snapping turtles
Who are denizens of the marshes.

We have also heard that town agents
May cull a flock of swans because
They feed on the vegetation on the banks,
Causing erosion of the marshes.

The four remaining did grow to maturity,
Their feathers gradually turning to white.
The kids were absent for a while, until
All turned up for a Thanksgiving reunion.

Then we did not see any during our
Terrible winter this year, experiencing
Three serious Noreasters in a month.
No one knows where the swans were.

Just this week, a remarkable sight!
Seven swans a'swimming right out back.
All white, all grown, collecting in
Fishing expeditions by twos and threes.

Our guess is that the addition to the flock
Is an outsider who has mated with one of ours.
But, of course, you can't tell the sexes,
They all look alike from a distance.

Now we shall see who continues
To reside in the home marsh.
There may be more than one nesting pair,
Bringing a swan explosion to the neighborhood!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Driver's License

I just renewed my driver's license,
Saying to the examiner as I left,
"Now I'm good until I'm ninety!"
A look of horror crossed her face.

Actually, renewing a license
In Massachusetts is a piece of cake.
With a clean record, you can
Renew online until you are 75.

After that, a visit to the office
To read the eye chart is required,
And, I suppose, to convince them
That you can walk and talk as well.

Every once in a while
An accident occurs due to
Faulty driving by an oldster,
Which prompts demands for reform.

After a bill to require
Stiffer examination of older people
Bounces around the state legislature,
It dies when the costs are estimated.

Massachusetts is a lenient state.
Often people with suspended licenses
Are pulled over for minor infractions,
Ticketed, then allowed to go on their way.

Anecdotal evidence has been offered
That teenagers are increasingly driving
Without permit or license, thus foregoing
The time-honored rite of passage.

I certainly plan to continue driving
Until I'm ninety (children, take notice).
With both lenses replaced in eye surgery,
I don't even need glasses to drive anymore!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ain't Gonna Study War No More

Though the Pentagon derailed
My ambition to teach military history,
I kept up with the field for many years,
Finding parallels in business planning.

I did actually teach one section
Of "Military History" in the summer.
It was well-received by students,
But not by the History Department.

They said I lacked academic credentials,
But they really didn't like the subject.
I didn't mind because I was busy that fall
Introducing a new major in Entrepreneurship.

After retiring, I gave up military history,
Answering questions from friends
With words from that great spiritual:
"Ain't Gonna Study War No More!"

Still, current events do capture my attention
When they concern the decisions that
Governments make as to whether they will
Use military force in certain situations.

The French intervention in Mali is most recent.
M. Hollande, le president, aims for a quick war.
History is against that, given the vast area
In which the rebels operate, with unlimited resources.

And as in Libya and Syria, the question arises
If it is a just or unjust war, which is the subject
Of a notable 1977 book by Michael Walzer
That I used in that summer course long ago.

The February 2013 issue of First Things
Takes up that argument in a lengthy series
Of articles concerning U.S. obligations to
"Afghanistan, Justice, and War."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How to Destroy the Middle Class

Let's define the middle class
As people who have steady jobs,
Pay their bills on time, and
Don't depend on government assistance.

That excludes the favored class:
Retirees who own their homes,
Get social security and medicare, and
Have adequate income for living.

First, depreciate the value of money
By an inflation rate currently over two percent,
While wage and salary income remain flat,
Or decline absolutely for new employees.

Next, manipulate the health care system
So that health insurance premiums
Go through the roof, in order to cover
Any calamity which may occur.

Pay for exploding government
By instituting a value-added tax,
Thus hitting the purchase of autos
Or any assets needed for work or living.

Perhaps most insidious, increase the
Taxes paid directly by businesses
Who thereupon pass the cost
In higher prices to consumers.

Add to the regulations that
Well-meaning bureaucrats impose
Upon the players in the private sector,
Thus increasing their administrative costs.

(Full disclosure from the old professor:
My master's thesis was on product costing.
It is an art that belongs to industrial engineers,
Not to accountants, who do it badly.)

Finally, discourage and derogate
Growth and innovation, and those
Who create the opportunities for
Economic advancement by individuals.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Corps Has

Let us be mindful that
No one cares what
Ancient alumni think
About the state of their alma mater.

The wishes of major donors
To hallowed institutions
Are often ignored by
The management of same.

West Point, being a
Taxpayer-supported college
Is even more immune
To protests from the ranks.

Someone once said that
West Point does change,
Just later and more slowly
Than the exogenous culture.

Change brought women cadets
Who edge ever closer to harm's way.
Change expanded the size of the Corps
To achieve parity with the other academies.

The American culture promotes self-esteem
For young people in all their activities.
West Point now makes all first classmen
Cadet lieutenants, carrying sabers.

Summer training now emphasizes
Contact with real soldiers
Through practice command situations
At Army posts across the U.S.A.

The curriculum has exploded,
Creating a plethora of majors.
One can even be graduated
As an English major!

Whether these changes add up
To a better experience,
Hence, better prepared officers
Is a question yet to be answered.

If I were admitted today,
Which may be somewhat doubtful,
I might have found my niche in the Army
And served my country at length.