Saturday, January 19, 2013


I have been thinking the term 'Love" is overused and often out of place. I began thinking about this while reading a relatively poor Christmas letter received from a fellow who was a friend, once upon a time. I haven't seen him in about eight years and back prior to this, if I did see him by accident, he would always say,"We'll have to have you over for dinner some night". I long ago gave up on that invitation (?)  knowing it was a gesture meaning absolutely nothing. I guess he meant well. Louise had passed away, but it would have been better left unsaid--just like the term "Love". That was how he signed his annual Christmas letter. Why? He doesn't love me. If he had not written an additional note on the back of the letter, it may well have been that I happened to still be on the list of his friends but, why would he sign it "Love"? I doubt that he even remembers who I am! However he is not alone in that incorrect manner of any farewell. Many people say it when they part from an enjoyable dinner party or possibly a movie. Are they serious? I don't think so.
     People hang up their phones with "love ya". Again I ask, are they serious? I have a new friend that is from my high school years and we have just re-connected. I am delighted to know her and to Email her or such but I don't sign my Emails "Love", nor does she, nor should we. We don't love each other no matter how happy we are discover each other after these many years. I will continue our correspondence, may they be by phone, letter or Email but I guarantee, it will take me a long time to sign off with "Love".   
      To me, that term should be used by actual family members or close friends of many years. It is not to be thrown out as though people can't think of another word to indicate there is a parting of two or more persons. While I might be able to accept this parting expression from one woman to another provided I know they have been good friends for a long time, I would be hard pressed to think a man would say it to another. And yet the person mentioned above said it me. Balderdash!!!
     There are other words to be used as a substitute. How about Fondly? Affectionately?  "See you"  Yours!There are many ways of saying farewell without verbal posturing. Maybe you are the type that says love without any meaning except as a good by. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings but you are short in your vocabulary  if you can't find other ways to leave a friend. I never hear my sons say "Love" to a brother and don't think I ever will except possibly (God forbid) a funeral. Think about it and lets hear a new phrase, like, well, so long!

Sunday, January 6, 2013



It was a bright day in my life that day I first met Annie. My friend Nick and I were at our club after playing tennis and decided we would walk the track for a while. A couple of ladies were already walking, one slower than the other and as we would catch up to one or the other, we would exchange greetings or comments. One thing led to the other and Nick being the most friendly would get the names of these two who turned out to be sisters. Nick, always the jokester would have them laughing as we passed by. We found out that the slower one was Ruth and shorter one was Annie. Her pace, walking the track was at least twice the speed that Nick and I maintained. She was possibly five foot tall, if that, with foot speed to match a wide receiver. She could really pick them up and lay them down. As weeks passed, this friendship grew and we would go to breakfast together on occasion or possibly go to their home for lunch. It turned out they lived together and set a table of corned beef or pastrami for Nick and me and it was a nice friendship.

Then Ruth was rushed home from Palm Springs with a illness that shortly thereafter, took her life. Annie was terribly distraught and Nick and I wanted to lend our support as best we could and went to the Shiva held at Annie's home. I let her grieve for a few weeks before contacting her and invited her to go out for coffee so she, in some way, could, at least, get out of the house. I'm sure she felt depressed at the loss of her best friend and I hoped to lend some consolation and lift her spirits. She accepted my invitation and before long I asked if she would like to go out to a movie or to dinner and one night she confided in me that she had not gone out on a date in the 18 years since her husband died. Some may have stated we were a strange couple, -a Mormon and a Jew, but we enjoyed each other and our friendship became warm and close. I think Anne was about 75 when all this took place but for those 20 years I considered her one of my best friends.

It was a sad day when I made my decision to move to Arizona. I was going to miss many friends but my affection for Nick and Annie topped them all. I went back to see her last summer and she still was strong and warm but age was beginning to take its toll. She greeted me at the door of her home with the help of a 'walker' still smiling with a welcoming handshake. I miss Annie now. She was always one in whom I could find a smile and bright eyes. Life does not offer us many friendships and those that I have garnered I have treasured. Of those treasures Annie stands as one of the brightest. In my mind I can still her short legs churning around the track faster than a speeding bullet  with a smile to match. I look forward to my summer  visit to once again be charmed by her warmth and friendliness. And as a famous comedian used to say Annie, "You are the greatest!"

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My First Bivouac

First off, I am not sure of the spelling of my title word; Bivouac. I didn't know what it was back then in 1943 and I don't know now. O.K. Spelling used to be one of my strong points but maybe not now. I was being educated and subjected to all forms of exercise. It was in one of the great schools and one of the most beautiful sites in America and I was there courtesy of Uncle Sam. I was a Naval Cadet at Chapel Hill N.C. Part of the exercise program was to rise at 6:00 A.M., dash to the exercise field, grunt and groan for an hour and at 7:30, dash to the breakfast building hurry to an 8:00 class. My education included, Navigation, Stars and Constellations, Math and Recognition (planes and ships) and the Morse code. I still remember SOS. All of this is just an introduction to what I want to tell you about.

For some unknown reason I was told I had been chosen, along with 49 other Cadets to go on the above. And the time arrived and the 50 of us were boarded into busses and were driven about 30 miles from the school. We unloaded and each of us was given a compass and told we were to head 120 degrees East and there we would find our main camp where food and sleeping bags would be given us. We all started by pairing up with a buddy and then beginning our trek to the camp. You can imagine it is now about 5:30 and hunger pangs have already set in. Adding to our discomfort, it begins to rain; not a downpour but a steady light rain and it wasn't long before we were very wet. Most of this was from fording creeks and tall, wet grasses. Oh yes, the temperature had also plummeted to about 38 degrees. It took about 2 hours of this adventure and we arrived, staggered might be a better word, into camp. I can't speak for the other men, but I was wet and tired. Food was not that important. I got my sleeping bag, dropped my wet clothing on the ground and crawled into the bag. After shivering for at least an hour, I finally fell asleep and awoke to a grey dawn and found my clothes had all frozen during the night. Forcing my legs into my pants, ice chips falling to the ground, my clothing gradually began to thaw. Of course there was no hot water to either wash or shave but we did what we could to become somewhat presentable, finished eating and were now off on another hike although by this time the temperature was beginning to get into the 40s, and life was almost liveable. As we hiked we were showed roots that were edible, mushrooms that weren't, along with ways we might be able to sustain life if that ever were to be necessary, The days were quite nice but the next 3 nights were miserable. It was darned cold for the Carolinas and our leaders kept telling us that. Sure! I had paired up with a fellow who was about 6'2 and at night he and I would take turns throwing our legs over the other to try to stay warm. Yes, we were in separate sleeping bags. That's about the end of my story except after a day following our return (in the same busses) we, who had remained alive were told we could have a 30 day leave to go home for Christmas. See, the Navy has a heart after all and I spent those 30 days with Louise and then Louise and oh yes, my parents. It was a great reward for my misery. I think I'd do it again if the reward was the same.

A Buyer of Boyswear

Many, many years ago I had been talked into leaving the University of Buffalo and was immediately signed as an assistant in the Menswear department--but that's a story already told and is no longer news to any except new readers and they will have to suffer for missing my ramblings of the past. However, maybe they can catch a glimpse of my retail past by reading what follows.While busy in the men's department I received a call to go and see Craig Larkin, then the Merchandise Manager of the 3rd floor; made up mostly of Infants clothing, some young women's wear and the Boys Department. I wondered what he wanted? Anyway being a dutiful young man, who was also curious, I hurried to his office and was asked to sit down. He then proceeded to tell me he would like to employ me as the Buyer of the Boys department? This was quite a surprise. I had only served in the Men's operation for 6 months and was still learning that area. However, this offer included a $10.00 raise to the munificent sum total of $55.00--WOW!! How could I resist? So on the morning of June 2nd of 1947 I entered the Department early and greeted each of the employees as they arrived. I introduced myself and as they all gathered, I went on to have a meeting. I don't remember what I said except I was well received as the previous buyer, Mr J, turned out to have a problem with strong spirits and was often absent, causing an ongoing concern for the others who were trying to run things.

And so my retailing really began! I bought not only the normal things which I had previously become accustomed to, with the exception that the customers were all much smaller. This would be my first experience buying suits for Boys sizes went up to size 20 which in Men's sizing was a size 39. I could wear a 39 in those days --a lot has changed since then, and my wardrobe improved substantially at Boys prices, plus a special price from the manufacturers who were trying to stay in my good graces.

I think my first suit cost me $18.00 and I remember it as a brown plaid which I thought was quite handsome. There were other items I could purchase such as sox, ties, shirts and so on and my prices were all substantially less than I had been paying in the Men's department. At $28,00 annually, things were looking up. At 24 I was the youngest buyer in the store and here I must brag a bit. From a close friend, Walter, who was the assistant to the stores president, Albin Holder, and who was in a position to know and called me into his office one day and congratulated me on being # 1 in all of Associated stores. Our store, JN Adams, was 1 of about 11 other retail department stores scattered across the U.S. and I had completed my first full year buying for the Boys Department and this was quite exciting to know I had managed to top the other Boyswear Buyers in our parent organization. I went on for 4 more years and then was given the job of buying the Men's department and my salary over the years was now $9,000 annually and while that was much more than my first job at $45.00 a week and although I never reached the salary that I should have had, I had, in affect, risen through the ranks and I didn't argue the point. I had achieved a reputation of having the best Menswear operation in the city. The challenges of buying any department are many and I was successful in each that I had been responsible for. The store closed in January 1959. I had been working there for 13 years and starting from a part time employee I was now ready to take a new job and continue in the retail business. I had loved my jobs there and new opportunities were opening up and I was ready!! Subsequently, I interviewed at several major stores across the country including Lord and Taylor, Stewarts of Baltimore and other stores in Cleveland, Rochester, Omaha and was offered a job in all of the above. I was a retail buyer and proud of my name and reputation in the menswear industry.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bull Durham

It seems rediculous to have a need for a dentist inasmuch as I sport dentures top and bottom, nevertheless thats where I was one Saturday morning seeking relief from the rubbing that was taking place as a result of some repair work. Usually they take me right in and I'm out of there quickly. For some reason there was a delay and I picked up a Sports Illustrated . I was going through the pages looking for anyting that looked readable and suddenly there was a review on one of my favorite movies  I had seen 6 or 7 times in the past. Now I am a baseball nut and while I deny ever going to a R rated movie I must admit that I weaken my resolve if its about baseball. Bull Durham, a movie from 1988 caught my eye. I loved that movie and was now reading about the characters; Kevin Costner,  playing the part of Crash Davis, a, somewhat over the hill, catcher, while the love interest was played by Susan Sarandon. The comic character was played by Tim Robbins, a gangling young pitcher who was also trying to make out with the above. I won't go into the story as it played out because the unique part of this tale is that I swiped the book and took it home with me. I finished reading the various bios, where they were and what their life has been since the movie and turned on the TV which is rare for me on any afternoon. I don't watch TV during the day. The first thing to catch my eye was, yes, you guessed it, Bull Durham and yes, I began watching for the 8th time. I loved it! I loved the interaction between Crash and the Tim Robbins role-the wisdom of the catcher trying to teach the wild young pitcher, with all the humor that was a part of their relationship. Now why would I take such an interest in something of this nature when I had seen it several times and could now almost say the dialogue. Call it memories of my youth and my enjoyment of playing the game-nostalga, humor, I don't know but it was about baseball and  while it violated my decision about what kind of movies I go to, I was trapped for all of the above reasons. The  language was bad, although part of the baseball scene. The sex was almost invisible but also part of relationships, and I was weak. I noted in new coming attractions there is a baseball movie coming out soon and it looks interesting. Will I go to see it? Will I again, break my resolve? Probably! Bad habits are difficult to break.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My Golf Life

I was just watching a movie of the golf life of Bobby Jones possibly the greatest golfer that ever lived. I say that knowing that anyone that knows anything about golf is going to snicker. However the golfers of today are amazing but maybe not. When you think that in most of Jones' tournaments, he played with mashies and niblicks and ancient clubs of that long ago time frame and I defy any of todays golfers, as great as they are,  using much, much better clubs and even tremendously better balls to do what he did back in the twenties.To bring to a close my talking about Bobby Jones, I want to talk about me. I just love talking about me. Ahem!
Continuing, my Syracuse family which consisted of John Dodd and Kitty North Dodd had moved into the country, living on Thompson Road on a one acre plot with a small creek that formed the typical old fashioned farm swimming hole. I was 12 or 13 at the time. But enough of that; back to my golf. About a quarter of a mile up the road from our house was a golf course and I thought maybe I could earn a dollar or two by becoming a caddy. Uncle Chuck, in the times I went with him to a golf course, had taught me a little of the nicieties of the game and so I faked my way into the good graces of the owner  and  became one of, maybe, two other caddies. This was a public course and most people, during those depressed years, couldn't afford to pay for a caddie. So there was limited number of players willing to pay me the .75 it cost for me to caddie. Yes I said .75 for that was the going rate I earned, although every once in a while some magnaminous player gave me a "Buck" saying "keep the change, son" Wow a buck?! That was a lot in those days. However, the main reason I caddied was they let all caddies play on Mondays for free and me and the Thornton brothers  played 54 holes every Monday carrying 3 clubs and a putter in our hands and several broken tees in our pocket along with a few marred and cut golf balls. We played from 6:00A.M. until supper time when we would run home so as not to miss dinner. That was the beginning of my golf life. From that point I acquired some real clubs (Gift from Louise) and began to play in earnest. Back in Buffalo N.Y. I used to rise at 4:30 on Saturday mornings to get to the course by 5:30 and there, many times we teed off in the dark, guessing how well we had hit our ball and watching the sun begin to rise as we reached the first green. I have played, literally, all over these United States because working the last half of my career, I worked for a golf clothing manufacturer and did a lot of traveling, which resulted in many games somewhere in those travels. I played in Japan, and Taipan when travelling abroad. Did I ever become good? No, I rose to the height of mediocrity but the love of the game kept me going. My three sons all play and all can beat me, although that's not saying much. However, I have a lot of good memories of good places along with those of the "Dawn Patrol". I'm happy that I could make many friends, see many lovely courses and enjoy the many days of happiness I found there. My life as a golfer was a good one and I'm happy that was one of an my enduring hobbies.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Uncle Chuck

This is not the first time I have written about my Uncle Chuck but I want to delineate a larger picture of what he represented in my life. First of all let me say he was the ultimate example of what a young boy wants as an uncle. He was an outdoorsman and spent every Sunday doing something relating to an out door activity: fishing, golfing, digging potatoes, picking peaches. You get the idea. He would find something to do in the wide open spaces of nearby Syracuse, N.Y. And in those weeks or months that I was not in school. I was living in Syracuse at the home of my Grandparents and Aunt and Uncle. It was here where I grew to love all those things that Chuck was wont to do and every Sunday morning I was awakened to the words "C'mon Jim, lets go!"A quick breakfast and off we would go to pick those early morning mushrooms. Anybody who knows anything about mushrooms knows that the morning is when they are freshest and most delicious. Of course I knew that because my Uncle Chuck told me so. I also didn't really care for them but when my Aunt Alice cooked them, they were the best!! I also would go golfing with Charlie--I wouldn't play except he would allow me an occasional swing  at the ball just to keep me, his caddie, interested. I later became an average golfer who grew to love the  game. I recall  one day Charlie took a monstrous swing at the ball only to find himself on his butt  and the ball not far off. I spoke quickly "Hurry and get up Chuck, no one is looking". He laughed for many years about that. I guess I was the only one embarrassed by his fall. I could go on a long time about my years  as a young boy but time kept moving and I was soon involved with a couple of the other gender and was in High School and didn't get back to be with my Uncle Chuck any more; times change and so do our  priorities. However before I get to far ahead of my self I must tell you of the magic of his under ground garage. In it dwelled about a billion earth worms. There was a coffin-like box in which the worms continued to breed and multiply and were always available for our sorties off on a lake somewhere.  I had a mixture of fear and forboding in that darkened room, mixed with the excitement of pulling up a  hand full of worms. Remember I was still a boy and a hand full of night crawlers was exciting.  I also must tell you of the injustice of the military. Chuck was drafted at age 39, but when  in France  became the cook of his group and would scrounge the earth, the woods, the fields for food to cook. He could always improve the food and his group of men loved him. It was the later years where I am now a Father and Husband that I was able to, once again, make contact with my Uncle Chuck. He was living in a trailer  near one of Great Lakes of New York State and I had taken a job  in New York about 150 miles from where Charlie was living. I used to drive up on various week-ends to visit with him. We didn't do much except talk about those experiences in which we were both involved, go to dinner and retire for the night. As much as I wanted to, it was at those partings that I wanted to tell him what he had meant to the little boy of long ago. The words would never come out but I recall  one time he whispered so softly I could just barely hear the words. The last thing he said as I drove away and it was the last time I would see him, he said "You are the greatest nephew a guy could ever have". I was in tears for the next many miles, all the time thinking "No Chuck, it was you who made my boyhood one of wonder, excitement and an unspoken love". I'm really looking forward to the time in the next chapter, when my tongue will be unleashed and I can sit down and tell Charlie how much he meant to me in those earlier years and who knows maybe we can go fishing again.