Forever loved by all

September 26th, 2014

The day we said goodbye to Glenn started as a sunny day like the day before, but slowly turned into a complete washout. The family was drained from Glenns impoverishment and his goodbye was limited to a small memorial service and a rent-a-priest in the funeral home. I don’t believe his cremation even took place so there was an empty urn at the front of the room. Does any of this really matter when you pass away? Glenn had not been “the same” in many years, yet we were there to say goodbye to the spirit of Glenn that we loved and remembered. So on this rainy day two sisters cleaned out Glenns small space where he lived. Fifty one years of living had come down to a few bags of “stuff” Mostly his state supplied medication, some hand made notes and phone numbers, his cloths and razor blades. That’s it. Fifty one years and it took an hour to put away his physical presence on this planet. Like I said in an earlier post Glenn wrote many letters. He was a very talented self-taught artist. During the clean up of his meager worldly possessions, sister Bonnie found a letter from him to her. The last letter/poem that brother Glenn wrote can be viewed below.

Click here

Click here

Glenn left behind more important things, some great memories, two beautiful children, a granddaughter and another on the way. The journey to Brendas grave was started as just an idea as something to do before the service. Traveling to Ohio was a good enough reason to take advantage of going to her grave. Brenda had passed away six years earlier and her body was in an unmarked grave in Middletown Ohio. What we thought would be a forty minuet drive turned into a much longer long twisting journey in the pouring rain hills and back roads of southern Ohio. I had missed Brendas funeral so it became special for me that I get there. Thank you Bonnie and Paul for making that possible. Also the girls persistence that a marker be put on Brendas grave after six lonely years is a blessing.
So after all that driving by Paul we only stood there in the poring rain for a few minutes but there it was. A beautiful and humble stone in honor of our wonderful sister Brenda. It was so powerful for me to see it. I am grateful to all the sisters that pushed it and for the entire family for making this happen. The angel on her stone is even a reference to her favorite song by Sarah Mclachlan’s “Angel” and the sunflower is her favorite flower.
Located in Woodside Cemetery, Middletown Ohio.

Located in Woodside Cemetery, Middletown Ohio.

Bread, the Primary Colors and a Raven

September 24th, 2014

"The Travelers" Digital Art composition. PS CS5 - 20"x26" Mixer brush experiment.

“The Travelers” Digital Art composition. PS CS5 – 20″x26″ Mixer brush experiment.


I can count on one hand how many times I have found a real feather in my life. It is such a rare occasion. I always pick them up and find them so fascinating.
Each time you pick up a feather it is a reminder that you are on the right path and that your life is sacred again. This is a part of the symbolism I put in this digital painting. I love digital art. I love the tools available to cut, paste, move and color. Kyrsia is an old school artist. She is not a fan of digital art. She works with real paint, paper and canvas. She only uses the primary colors to create her art. This is the way she teaches. Red, yellow, and blue are primary colors. They are the three pigment colors that cannot be made by mixing any other colors. These three colors are mixed to create all other colors and can be combined with white or black to create tints (lighter tones) and shades (darker hues) of these colors. If Kryha is teaching, you can’t ask for an “aqua blue sky” in a tube. You have to create it with the primary colors.
The bird is generally thought to be a symbol of freedom. They can walk on the earth and swim in the sea as humans do but they also have the ability to soar into the sky. Birds are free to roam to earth and the sky. Many cultures believe that they are a symbol of eternal life; the link between heaven and earth. The Raven is generally thought to be a symbol of sadness, loss and death. The ancient Greeks believed that the raven was a messenger bird of the god Apollo.
In this digital work the green pasture speaks for itself and the group of lilies at Brenda’s feet represent Mathew 6:28, “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing” Pretty much tells us that God will take care of us. I don’t think much about where Bev, Brenda and Glenn are. I consider myself more spiritual than religious but I recently read a book by Anita Moorjani called Dying To Be Me. A great read but it really confused me about all my conclusions that I had about the afterlife. If anything, it did give me great hope that there is AT LEAST something there and it’s not just a dark voided end.
My spirituality coveys great sadness that Glenns second grandchild was born just a few days after his death. This is the same sadness I felt when Brenda left behind two beautiful daughters. One of them so young, that she would never truly “know” who her mother really was in this physical world.

The raven flying off the canvas tells us that life is fleeting.  That is Ardea Raven, Glenn Jrs newborn baby!

The raven flying off the canvas tells us that life is fleeting. That is Ardea Raven, Glenn Jrs newborn baby!

Still hot!

Still hot!

When you go to the market do you buy bread OR do you buy REAL bread? Can you take home an unsliced loaf of bread baked right out of oven? The American market is flooded with mass produced, preservative filled sponges that they fool people and call it “bread”. I’m in love with a woman that loves bread and this is a big reason why I love her. This is my girl. Complex in so many ways yet loving so many simple things. She would take a hot fresh loaf of bread and a glass of milk over a fancy restaurant and a glass of champagne. This is a path in the journey, I have found. Cutting thru weeds and dirt trails instead of taking the Cadillac on the newly paved road. Go ahead and build your mansions in isolated woods, surrounded by rich white people. Go ahead and find your perfect schools, your unblemished politics, your English speaking neighborhoods. Take your perfect vacations while the sun sets on your bank account. This is NOT what life is all about. Tell me you are happier than the scavenger dancing for food on a rain washed sidewalk and I will tell you that you are full of shit.
FINAL_SHEBELONGStoMeI hope everyone finds happiness in their own special way and I would never condemn you for whatever it is that makes you happy. Find magic in every moment in life because it is fleeting. Death is inescapable lately. It is everywhere I turn. Personally, old friends are becoming memorial pages on their social network. The news is beheading peace and understanding in the world. Danger lurks everywhere. On the highways, seas and skies. Drugs take to the streets like a terrorism this country has never seen before.
One time when I was boiling inside myself with pride-filled anger towards my girl and I found myself on the verge of ugliness. I put away my pride and came to you. I was able to make this heroic step by being sober. By looking at a reflection of myself in a stainless steel pool of self pity. Why do we divide our homes with walls? Eskimos live as an entire family in a one-roomed igloo. Well, anyway, you were there in that room and I was there, boiling up inside in the other room. I came to you. I came to you past these divided walls and rooms. I came to you, thinking you were bitter and ignorant of my needs. I came to you expecting anger and shouting.
When you opened up to me you were crying within seconds. You were not the explosive witch I was expecting. You told me a story of your aunt when you were a child. How you were so grateful to her for bringing you art supplies on Christmas. It was such a simple heartfelt story. A simple long ago Christmas gift that you remembered and here I was expected an ugly showdown.
That moment, as simple as it seems now, was when I just fell deeper in love with you. How you became such a real person thru your tears and compassion. I love you for who you are. From deep in your past to this moment. From this I had learned a great lesson about pride and anger. No matter how hard it can be reach out and communicate!

Art fills Krysias soul. When you lost your job that you loved so much to a layoff, the school children cried when you were gone. No time to mope in negativity. You used the spare time to get your Masters degree and you kept getting interviews but there were no offers at first. So you went out and created your OWN Art school. You created your own web site, your own marketing, your own classroom and you built it up with your love of teaching art. Much like when you were a child and used anything you could find to make art and you hung it from the trees.
Yes, there were art teaching jobs that finally came to you but these were jobs that nobody else wanted. Tough teaching jobs, embedded in the troubled inner cities of North Jersey, you went with dedication and faith. So now you teach color, texture and composition to troubled kids, just hoping to plant an art seed in their mind. Maybe change someone. You wait in the empty rooms of Parent/Teacher nights, hoping that maybe one parent will show up and express that they care. You stand in the empty hallways of students art shows thinking that maybe the parents got the memorandum. Maybe they will show up to see all your students hard work hanging on the walls in display.
You see first hand what is absolutely wrong with this country. You witness and hear the destruction of the family core. The parents that are no-shows in a kids life. The administration that turns the simple truth of teaching children art into a big damn lie. You weave your way through political bullshit, labor unions, angry teachers and a mountain of “I dont give a fucks”.
I have had bad teachers and good teachers in my life. And then I had a few great teachers in my life. Teachers you remember forever. When I meet a teacher I always tell them, “I always wanted to be a teacher.” Most times the reaction to that is “Are you freaking kidding me?” Sometimes it can be a thankless job. Todays teacher is blamed for the students failures. Todays teacher has more homework time than most students and they do not get paid for it. In art there can be a ton of prep and cleanup. The job never ends.

fig1Why Has This Blog Post Turned Into a Rambling Mess?
The answer lies within my drug of choice which just so happened to be a doppio espresso right before hitting the keyboard. We had our best year ever for tomatoes and one plant in particular must be responsible for 10 to 15 pounds! Barb told me at our brother Glenns funeral that we all mourn in different ways. I found this so true after I found myself in a rage. Like I mentioned earlier, so many people are dying way too young. Some of these early deaths are just bad choices and that angers me. When you think you have reached a level of sobriety and maturity, God takes his mighty hand and crashes it all down looks you straight in the eyes and says “What are YOU KIDDING ME GEORGE?!” and yes, I don’t know shit about nothing. Live and let live. Hey people that don’t drink alcohol, eat good, quit smoking and don’t do drugs….guess what? We’re all gonna die anyway!
Why does the United States of America always have a target on it’s back? It is the most hated country in the world. All things in life can be derived from NFL football and thus begins my story. There once was (still is) a team that was very successful and won over many fans by winning championships and having fancy cheerleaders and uniforms. Eventually this teams success was so incredible that they garnished the nickname “Americas Team” So now all the other teams and fans began a growing animosity towards this team that had singled itself out of everyone else. Indeed, who are YOU to call yourself “Americas Team”? And thus the hatred and jealousy brewed over time and eventually even “Americas Team” felt pressured to deliver. They knew they were hated by their own pompous ego and struggled to become the great team it once was.
I’m a fan of being patriotic. I’m proud of my country in many ways. It isn’t always a great country but it does lead the world in helping others. I don’t fly an American flag in my yard nor do I carry anything patriotic on my car or person. But I am proud of our countries ability to help other countries in need. Period. We need leave it at that. The thing is this. We aren’t humble anymore. “God bless the US” “We are the greatest country in the WORLD” “Don’t mess with the US!” “We are number one!” ….shutup! Just shutup. Being humble goes a long way.
The fact that America has become the worlds police is also extremely troubling. Nobody wants that title.
After the horrific tragedy of Malaysia MH17 plane crash over the Ukraine a Dutch father was on CNN discussing his loss of a family member that was on the plane. His final words: “I hope Obama finds the people that did this and punishes them.” Really? What about YOUR leader Mark Rutte? The plane was filled with Dutch Nationals so send America out to get the bad guys! Can’t we all just get along? Or as the Beetles said so many years ago; All You Need Is Love.FIN

May strong arms hold you,
caring hearts tend you,
and may love await you at every step.

Happy birthday Raven!

Happy birthday Raven!

A Glenn Hartman Salute

September 4th, 2014

MAINglennBLOG
REMEMBERING A BROTHER
Middle Child Syndrome
Everyone has their own favorite personal stories of Glenn. The fifth born, third son of George and Joan Hartman. Everyone remembers his mischievous smile, his happy laugh, his love of life, his beautiful children and his flirtations with the law and his health. He was born into a home already buzzing with four young children. During his early childhood, five more siblings appeared after him. Each needing attention and care. To say his life wasn’t hectic from day one is quite an understatement. As all young kids crave attention and love, maybe there wasn’t enough to go around some days. Sometimes you can get lost in a crowd. Sometimes your crying isn’t heard. So you trudge on to survive and always find a way. We were a big family getting bigger but we never failed each other. Our older brothers and especially sisters took care of things. We were never told or taught to do this, we just did it instinctively.
As the third boy in the loud home he followed Greg and I with droopy diaper everywhere. Pacifier stuck in his face, his big brown curious eyes searching for leadership. Early in life Glenn caught the blame for all the little things that went array in the crowded household. Thus the famous cry of “Glenn did it! Glenn did it” appeared and remained with him for the rest of his life. Somebody drank all the pickle juice out of the pickle jar? Glenn did it! Someone took my teddy bear and threw it out of the top bedroom window? Glenn did it! Somebody drew magic marker all over the wall? Glenn did it! It had gotten so that almost all the awkward accusations in a home filled with accusations could safely disappear with the magic phrase “Glenn did it!”
Glenn Did do it
Many years down the road after we all had moved out and mom sold the house in 1985, I still took solace in this verbal escape. If I woke up with a hangover, or dropped a full glass of milk, the Giants losing an important (or any) game, a car accident, my divorce-were all met with outcries of “Glenn did it!”
Personally for me, I was very close to Glenn early in his life but “lost” him after I got sober and he moved to Florida to be with his two younger brothers. Glenn took me to my very first AA meeting at Perth Amboy hospital. This was during one of his early stints of attempting to clean up his act. I just remember sitting there next to him scared, but listening. Glenn was always way more open and sociable then me. He was shaking hands and introducing me to other recovering drunks. When the meeting was over, or so I thought, the entire room stood up. I was attempting to leave when my brother Glenn grabbed my hand. The strange man on the other side of me grabbed my other hand. The leader of the meeting called out: “Who’s Father?” and everyone recited the prayer .. “Our Father, who art in heaven…” And it was in that one powerful moment. in a room full of sick people…powerless people…all calling to a higher power together…that I knew this was where I belonged. Glenn took me to a great place and although it took me years after that to finally “get it” ..to finally get sober, I never forgot my first meeting with my brother Glenn.

For many years it was the three Hartman boys together in Florida.

For many years it was the three Hartman boys together in Florida.

Glenn also extracted me from a 8 year hiatus in a warehouse job painfully going nowhere. He enticed me with the Teamsters Union and really good health benefits. In those days of being twenty-something year olds, I was petrified of people and change, but the thought of finally fixing my chipped front teeth was worth a “risky” job change. My two front teeth were severely chipped when I was 7 while playing a game called Hot Potato, Glenn, yes Glenn actually did do it, threw the bright red clicking-timer hot potato into my mouth.
Right in the kisser

Right in the kisser

Dad promised he would have them fixed “when your teeth fully grow in” but he died. Mom never even considered it when getting food on the table was a more important matter. So my adolescents was a living hell. Afraid to smile. Petrified to talk. I learned to speak with my upper lip closed or my hand in front of my face. But Glenn did it! He got me a great job with more money, overtime and immediate health benefits. I wasn’t at this job for one week before I was sitting unconscious in a dentist chair having my front two teeth grinded down for caps! The thousands of dollars it cost were picked up by the Teamsters. I was a totally new person after that and I owed it all to Glenn.
On The Beach
I have so many wonderful memories of my little brother Glenn. Going to Great Adventure to see Southside Jonny And The Asbury Jukes. The crowd exploding when they sang “On The Beach” and how years and years later, we still sang that song to each other. There were so many times it was just him and I. In Washington Square Park in the village singing along to “Ripple” with a street musician. New York City. A rented room in a boarding house at Belmar beach.
A Hard Worker
Glenn was also responsible for getting me a side job at Min Goldblatt catering company. It was there that I witnessed his true strong Hartman work ethic and dependability. He had also got some of our friends jobs here. It was here that Glenn began to blossom into an excellent cook. Everyone remembers his favorite dishes. Mine was his seafood gumbo. He catered his own wedding.
Lost
Glenns later years became so struggled that it hurt to talk with him. His long bouts in jails and hospitals, what could we do? His letters from jail were filled with colorful sometimes religious art.
We will always miss you

We will always miss you

During one stay at a Kentucky prison, I remember he was in endless physical pain. He kept complaining how it hurt all the time to do anything and the people at the jail did NOTHING. Carol Dooley became engrossed with this and called the prison several times. Consoled Glenn on the phone. Only by Carols constant nagging did Glenn finally get the attention he needed. It had gotten so bad that he was actually taken from the jail admitted to the hospital.
As time went on, Glenns health grew worse. His addictions never dimmed. He had created a hell on earth. But in his daily struggles he was a loving dad and grandfather. He paid back child support. He was blessed with random visits with his children. The running family joke with Glenn was that he would out-live us all. He had nine lives like a cat. But finally one hot Summer day in our sisters Bonnies basement where she cared for him, he never woke up. He didn’t die in a hospital, nursing home, prison or on the street. I salute Bonnie and Paul for that. For, as hard as it was, when nobody else wanted him, or could afford him, they took him in. He was needy and difficult but we thank them for giving him the dignity of passing on to a world far away from this hell he lived in with some respect.
I salute you my brother Glenn

I salute you my brother Glenn


You were a good man that fought an unrelenting attack of demons. I salute you. I look forward to mingling with you on the other side and being connected together in the tapestry. I salute you. I love you. To Bonnie and Paul for most recently taking him under their wing and taking care of him, I salute you.
To everyone in the family that tried to help him. that put up with him, that felt like they had lost him but never gave up hope, I salute you.
All Together Now!
To Grant, for taking care of Greg after his stroke and most recently to Ann and Gary for taking care of Greg every single damn day. For making sure he takes his meds, for bathing and feeding him, I salute you. To Barb, Bernadette and Belinda I salute you for driving halfway across the eastern USA to meet in the middle so that our younger cousins can spend a week or so together. For sharing your resources and sitting down at every single school play and event…for swimming and field trips, stories, love and care..I salute you! For everyone trying to be the glue of the family..for keeping us together with social media, photos, and blogs and text messages and phone calls. I salute all the prayers we offer each other in sickness and in health. In death and new life. In addiction and cure. Thank you for huddling together as The Mighty Ten always and remembering where we all came from and where we are going.
I salute the Hartmans.

Envelope Art

September 3rd, 2014

Click on above art for full view then hit back to go back to gallery.
Glenn was just like his mom. He was a letter writer. Our brother spent more than half his life in jail. He spent a lot of that time drawing with pencil, crayon, pen or anything he could get his hands on. Sometimes they wouldn’t give them paper or pencils. Glenn told me he would make “ink” with water and different colored M&N’s. His letters were filled with a lot of raw emotion and sometimes hope. Most times he knew he didn’t belong where he was. He was typically sorry and frustrated at his actions yet he always ended up in the same place. These are just a few of the many envelopes he drew and colored on before he sent one of his letters. Glenn was very talented with a pencil or magic marker. He was 100% self taught. Although a lot of his work is serious and very spiritual, Glenn had an outright wicked sense of humor. He could laugh at himself and the predicaments that he got into. He met a lot of people in jail and hospitals that were in despair yet he always maintained a pretty positive attitude. Glenn also had a great memory. He was filled with detailed family memories. Many times he surprised me with his outlook and keen story telling.

Glenn Hartman 10-26-62 to 8-17-14

August 26th, 2014

BLGglennCollage

photos found on my phone

May 23rd, 2014

Gill-go-round

April 1st, 2014

headerForGillBlog
In this months PTMYT (April 2014) another old mysterious Gill photo taken on Austin street in Westfield NJ. (probably). This photo had the same kind of look and feel of another old Gill photo mentioned in a previous BLOG POST.

This was taken much earlier than the above photo based on the height of Joan alone.

This was taken much earlier than the above photo based on the height of Joan alone.

Definitely not from the same day at all. Maybe some of the same people but several years earlier. Our grandmother May Gill was born in 1915 to John Coleman Rosecrans and Maude L. Rosecrans. May died at a very young age of only 44. She died suddenly and shockingly of a heart attack at home. There have been rumors flung about about her death being suspicious based on several “things told to me”.
1. The fiery relationship she had with her husband Fredrick, a Westfield NJ cop.
2. The decision by husband to have NO autopsy and a quick burial.
3. A suddenly new relationship by husband with a new woman only a few weeks after funeral.
So yeah, ha ha, secret family scandal. May Gill was poisoned by her cop husband. None of this has ever been proven. Nor will it ever be. I’m not exhuming the grave of the grandmother I never saw and I certainly don’t want to see what she looks like now. Rest in peace everyone involved.

One thing I really ponder on now, was that May had THREE brothers and SIX sisters! So that big family thing isn’t just a Hartman trend? So there were NINE aunts and uncles that we also never really met or saw. I might have been too young to remember even if I did meet them. Her three children, Joan, Fred and Carol told me Grandma Gill was a nice woman. That’s all I remember. Another story was that when she pooped, her kids would all go in the bathroom with her and she would tell stories. She was known as a very kind woman in her job at Westfield High School where she was a cook for nine years. Her death at 44 was so early that she only had two grandchildren when she passed away, Barb and Beverly. She would have been surprised if she hung around.

Mrs. Fredrick Gill Obituary. CLICK to READ

Mrs. Fredrick Gill Obituary.
CLICK to READ

So my curiosity remains at who is who in the top photo. At this point I’m going out on a limb to assume that most or all of them are her siblings.
Starting from left, John Rosecrans Jr, May Gill, sister, another brother (maybe Fredrick Rosecrans with wife OR another sister. Fred Gill Sr is next and he is holding a little baby Caroline our aunt. At the end the only thing I can say here is “Get a freaking room.”
Of course in the first row is Joan Gill (our mother) and Fred Gill Jr our uncle. He is wearing an official cap of some sort. This stirred up even more curiosity in me. I do know that we have a great uncle that was lost in a submarine during WWII. I am assuming this photo was taken around 1940-2. So there was a war going on when this was taken. That man in the middle appears to be wearing dress military uniform. So I am assuming that the cap our uncle Fred is playing with is actually from that guy in the center of the photo. I did a google image search on Navy caps used during World War 2. Not surprisingly something very similar came up. It might be an officers cap from Navy.
So is this the guy that was never found on a sunken submarine in WWII??? Sure enough I found a web site that listed every submarine and their crew member LOST during WWII. I actually clicked on every submarine and checked for the sir name Gill. I did find one- on January 24, 1942 the submarine USS S-26 went down BUT three men survived. The mans name TMC Joseph Mathew Gill was goggled and as it turns out he is from Alabama and not New Jersey.

The only other things I think of is that great uncle from the Navy was actually a Rosecrans and not a Gill. This is not the way I remember it being told to me. This WWII hero was definitely named GILL. OR maybe that is a fireman or policemen uniform. It is a fact that Mays father was indeed the Cheif of the Westfield NJ police force which is exactly how our grandfather Fredrick Gill got the job.

Yet another Rosecrans search, I found in the Westfield Leader newspaper (bottom left middle article) that Mays brother, Windsor was promoted to a Lieut. in the National Guard. But this was July 1927. (yet still possible, that might be a captains cap after 13+ years!)

So this is how it goes with web research on the amazing and still growing world wide web. I was just trying to find out some names. People that have long passed on. People that were “somehow” related to our mothers and fathers. This spark of a connection in life that electrifies our existence. Like I said, if I had this interest even before Carol or Joan died, I would have had all the answers and names and probably a few cool stories too.

May sandwiched by brother and sister. Big family love.

May sandwiched by brother and sister. Big family love.


Dad and baby daughter. Caroline.

Dad and baby daughter. Caroline.


Sister and brother. Joan and Fred.

Sister and brother. Joan and Fred.


lovers

writers BLOck

January 8th, 2014

vigil by the deep lagoons
cRazy Indian colors:
glops
of paint/
freshDripping
o
n
her
scratched canvas
rich browns. If
landscapes could dream and poetry
could walk
the earth woul>dn’t be crippled with
leafy green disappointment. Gracious
shadows slowly unroll across the floor
the artist drinks a quart of fear
chanGes the oil
grows a salaD
builds a lego castle. Mops
the Kitchen floor with gasoline
lights a cigarette
calls the boss and gives
a ten year notice
oF retirement

neonduskjanuary820139:51am

have a haPPy ChristMAS and a bRAVE new YEAR !

December 24th, 2013

splitTONE
I recently wrote about lack of a total family photo together but this comes close. From Photos That Make You Think December 2006 a photo probably taken by Mom in the early eighties or closer to the last year in Whitman street.
I am grateful that our Christmas’s were magical. Mom and Dad made sure of that. I am sure that we too, as adults and parents have also made sure that we provided magical holidays for our children too. I know personally for me, there was no bigger day, no bigger anticipation then waking up Christmas morning. For most of my childhood I shared a bunk bed with my brother Gregory. I always slept on the top and he on the bottom. Although we couldn’t see each other, we talked, laughed and even sang songs long into the dark night.

1976 SEARS Wish Book

1976 SEARS Wish Book

There were many times we were visited by Mom or Dad with a stern warning to “Shut up and go to sleep!” and this warning usually required several revisits. We never took Mom seriously, she was a lightweight with discipline. But if the heavy footsteps of dad started coming up the stairs we were under the covers and pretending to sleep in seconds.
Christmas time was the Sears “Wish Book” which made the rounds to everyone with a clean sheet of loose leaf paper and a pen. We would scribble our “wishes” and pass the book on. We were generously entitled to “One BIG thing and two SMALL things” and besides that, there were always extras thrown about under the tree. Dad and mom would be up all night Christmas eve assembling, arranging and trying their best to be quiet. I remember one Christmas arriving at the top of the stairs at probably 5AM and the sight below was absolutely amazing. There was not one open space. The entire living room was just covered with toys and games. It is one of those childhood visions that remain embedded in my memory.
In true holiday spirit, Mom carried on the expensive Christmas tradition after Dad died and we never really lost the “magic” A tip of the hat to Gene Kaufmann and Danny Braza for helping out in the hard work on Christmas eve’s long nights.
So looking back, I wonder about this “magic”. Was it pure materialism? Was it the TV shows, music and decorations (we always had a real tree) that smothered us for a month? Was it just being part of a huge family filled with hope and love? Was it all of the above? Did we lose focus, like most of the world on what the birth of Jesus Christ really means? As we get older we change. We become a little less selfish when we become parents. Always a source for inspiration, I read something on Facebook that many people agree with today: “I think that as you get older your Christmas list gets smaller and the things you really want for the holidays can’t be bought.”
On the left side of the tree in the above photo: Brenda and Bev.

On the left side of the tree in the above photo: Brenda and Bev.

Gettysburg 1970

December 6th, 2013
July 1970 11 months before his death, Dad "pulls" and Brenda resists.

July 1970 11 months before his death, Dad “pulls” and Brenda resists.

two score and three years ago our father, full of determination and
curiosity gathered his young family into a green Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser
and journeyed 200 miles southwest into the belly of American history,
the fields of Civil War death, the tourist traps the land of hotels and

cyan colored swimming pools. The fierce fighting for the window seats
as mom chain-smoked Viceroys with windows up, AC on, seatbelt s off,
FM radio tuned to rock classics of the day “Which Way Ya Going Billy?”
Poppy Family,”In the Summertime”by Mungo Jerry,”Hey There Lonely Girl”

by Eddie Holman, The Hollies with “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”
this station wagon featured speakers in the back seat panels, and
this was modern day coolness unheard of in the day. We breezed thru
Interstate 76 pass the Esso billboards and Roadside America invitations

Bushkill Falls, Crystal Cave, the Amish in Lancaster, covered bridges, and
the Hershey Factory. So it was, we as a family took our one and only
vacation and not everyone was invited and some invited guests didn’t
want to come! If you were clad in diapers than you stayed home

with Mrs. Askew. Beverly was lost in teenage phone world and requested
to be left alone forever. Against her will she was dragged into the
overcrowded station wagon and we endured the three hour struggle
into the sweet beauty of Pennsylvania’s mountains with our mighty V8

spectacular blue skies, puffy white clouds, fields of lazy cows and
a dreary mundane depression that forever lurks in these small towns.
Their shops, schools and slow walking slow talking locals with accents.
We stopped once for 36 cents a gallon gas as Apollo nine flew hundreds

!969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser Wagon

!969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser Wagon


of miles overhead and the Vietnam War raged on overseas.Just being in a
hotel is the vacation.Soda and candy vending machines.Running down
hallways screaming and taking the elevator up and then down, over and
over Dad sitting in the chair smoking a cigar, planning our days with

maps and brochures the TV blaring,nobody watching Jumping on the bed
suddenly,how many glass displays of dug up bullets, marble statues of
men on horses, riffles hanging on walls, hundreds of B&W photos
of dead men can one person view? This was an endless history class in

the hot Summer sun.It wasn’t my fault I was a kid with different ideas of
adventure and that by the third day of endless hundred year old history
I had enough and made it my point to say so. Somewhere in between
Little Round Top and Devils Den, my whining had warranted a beating

I was sent to the car crying On the way home this hungry family did
breakfast and dad ordered pancakes for all which finally came stacked
bigger than anything we had ever seen. Psychology won and just vision
had made us full. Dad paid the bill shaking his head at the biggest waste

of money and food and Brenda picked up her “underbrella” and we left
The longer drive home hypnotized sleep. Dad the accountant adds
expenses in his head. It wasn’t a vacation it was an education he later
said. And as we finally pulled into the concrete driveway I knew that

if I became a dad, my kids would be riding roller coasters on our
vacations.We would take luxury ships and planes to get there. Never
long lines, hot sun, ‘education’ or hours to get there but then if I did
would my future son ever write a memory poem such as this?

Because she is missing, Bev probably took this photo. Lost tourist.

Because she is missing, Bev probably took this photo. Lost tourist.