Tuesday, December 25, 2012

One Solitary Life

I have a section on holidays and their meaning in my book 5 Words and Then Some. Here is what I wrote about Christmas. When we lived in Danbury, Ct. this ran in our local paper every Christmas.  The source is unknown. Whatever you believe, whatever you think, something special happened over there.

                                                     ONE SOLITARY LIFE

"He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in still another village, where he worked in a carpentry shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a house. He didn't go to college. He never visited a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place he was born. He did none of the things one usually associates with greatness.

"He had no credentials but himself. He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind's progress.

"All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earthy as much as that ONE SOLITARY LIFE."

Pretty amazing and powerful stuff. Merry Christmas everyone. FRAN

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tip O'Neill's 100th Birthday

Today ( December 9)  is the 100th birthday of former Speaker of the  House Tip O'Neill. I think he was one of the great politicians in our history and was someone I admired tremendously. And although I never met him, we do have a  few,small connections. He had a house in Harwichport, on Woodland Road. I grew up in Harwich and when I was in junior high and high school, I used to mow lawns and take care of the yards and do landscaping for several houses on that street, although closer to the Bank St end.  Tip didn't live there back then so I never got a chance to meet him.

And for my mother's surprise 70th birthday party at what was the Country Inn back in 1990, I called Tip's office and asked them if he could come to Mom's party and say a few words to a life long democrat and stay around for a drink and some snacks. His office said he would love to but he was going to be in Ireland that week getting an honorary degree. He sent a personal note to Mom and an autographed copy of his book Man of the House, with a note in that as well. Mom greatly admired him too and would often see him at Mass at Holy Trintity Church in West Harwich but never wanted to bother him.

Tip tells the story in his book about how he was ill prepared to give a talk one night and former Mayor, the legendary Jim Curley who was in the audience, came up to him afterwards and invited him to his house and told Tip he was going to give him several poems that he could memorize and use on any occasion and would always be prepared. One of them was "Around the Corner" by Charles Hanson Towne. Its about friendship and staying in touch with old friends. And Tip would recite this each year when he got the old gang together from Barry's Corner. I was so moved and touched by it that I used it at one my luncheons at IBM. At the end of it, there was not a dry eye at the table! And I included it in my book 5 Words And Then Some. I have a section in it on quotes to use on any occasion. I wonder where I got that idea from?

And every time I walk the Great Beach on Cape Cod I think of Tip and his efforts to bring the National Seashore Park to the Cape. If  it hadn't been for him, it probably would not have happened. I am just about finished my memoir of growing on the Cape and in the United States in the 50's and 60's and the first chapter is about Tip's efforts to get the National Seashore in place. By the way, the book's title is Cape Cod Forever.

Tip was an avid golfer and played a lot at Eastward Ho in Chatham. My Uncle Bob Larkin was the golf pro there and one day after Tip had finished a round he was in the pro shop and was talking on the phone. My Uncle Bob was over in the corner arranging some golf equipment when Tip said, "Bob, get over here. There is someone on the phone who wants to say hi to you." My uncle Bob picks up the phone, and the voice says 'Hi Bob. This is President Carter. How are things on the Cape?"

For years my mother lived in Country Meadows which is on Forest Street in Harwich.  When I was visiting her I would always go out for a run and one of the routes I took was through the cemetery in Harwichport where Tip and his wife Millie are buried. Its a beautiful spot, right next to the Harwichport Golf Course,  and there is a marble bench there with "I"ll see you at apple blossom time" engraved on it. I always stopped and paid my respects to this great man.

One of my favorite tv shows is Hardball with Chris Mathews. Chris used to work for Tip O'Neill. I would love to meet Chris someday for lunch and listen to his stories about Tip. Another great biography about Tip is Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century by John Farrell. Read these two books when you get a chance. Not only are they about Tip, but they cover most of the major events and presidents of the last century.

As I write this, I have a glass of Baileys Irish Cream on the rocks, beside me. I am toasting this great American and all the wonderful things he did. Thanks for everything Tip. Ave atque vale.

Thanking you for your time, this time, until next time. FRAN