Enough Said

Enough Said
A sampling of my columns and why the hell is my picture SO big?

Sunday, May 29, 2016

There was a day when politics included common sense

Published May 27. 2016 4:17PM | Updated May 27. 2016 4:20PM
We got to leave school early, the vice president was coming to Roselle Park. He was not coming to stay or make a speech, he was driving through. We were allowed to join the crowd at the head of Chestnut and Westfield Avenue to see his motorcade pass by.

For an 11 year old to see the man a heartbeat from the White House was a big deal. For anyone, it was a big deal. This was before television tracked and assigned negative meanings to every move, word and gesture. This was before politics became a four letter word.

Businesses emptied, schools closed, the crowd was huge. That I got to stand on a car bumper, a hundred or so feet back, had me a head above the crowd. Filled with a sea of parents, teachers, shop owners, store clerks and kids, Chestnut Street was packed almost its entire length of three blocks. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life.

Like a sound wave rolling over the crowd, “He’s coming, he’s coming” flowed to the back. And there, where the roads came together, flashing lights and a convertible with the top down. Sitting on the trunk, feet on the back seat, Richard and Pat Nixon. Mr. Nixon looked energized, Pat looked terrified.

They were only to drive by but by the grace of a traffic jam and more people up on the avenue, the convertible stopped. Mr. Nixon stood, steadied himself on the backseat, and spoke. With no microphone his voice was lost beyond the first few rows but we didn’t care, it was the vice president and his wife. It was the man running for president.

After a few minutes, Mr. Nixon sat, the motorcade moved on and we dispersed. That was the year a sweaty lip and gleaming forehead lost to a cool candidate with a face covered in make-up.

Years later when my youngest daughter was a little older than I was when Nixon came to town, Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey was running against Al Gore for the democratic presidential primary. He was coming to the Diner in Old Saybrook. Because I remembered the importance of my little-girl encounter with politics years before, my little girl and I had to go.

We were early, I picked my daughter up from school. He was late.
Among the few hundred who showed up we got a spot in front by the entrance stairs. Not an overly popular candidate at the time, I was surprised by how many people showed up.
Sen. Bradley stepped off his bus. Basketball Hall of Famer, he was easy to spot, a head above the crowd. As he approached us, I reached out my hand, we shook and then he reached for my daughter’s hand. They shook
“Hi honey,” he said as he climbed stairs and disappeared into the diner.

“He shook my hand, he called me honey,” she said beaming with pride.

For the rest of the day she said that phrase over and over again.

Bill Bradley lost the primary that year. Richard Nixon lost the year I saw him. But winning or losing or getting caught up in a hail of dirty tricks isn’t my point. Regardless of one’s opinions, and whether our perceptions of them were correct, it was a time when our leaders were either good or bad.

Back then “tricky” was a pretty awful way to describe a president or candidate, but now, evasive, divisive, heartless and clueless seem to be the new political adjectives. I’m not touting the value of the “good old days”, (there was a lot not good then too), and I’m not proselytizing any candidate, I’m pushing for common sense in a climate of political madness.




Friday, May 6, 2016

Without food and water, the little bird’s fate was inevitable

Published May 02. 2016 9:22AM
I was the first to hear him chirping high up in the rafters at work. His outside peeping sounds, mixing inside with canned music and business announcements, were nice. At first we didn’t see the little guy, we just heard him. Then I spotted him flying from I-beam to I-beam. Intermittently he’d land on fixtures and pause motionless, just long enough to look as if he were part of a display and for sale. It’s common to see a bird inside a big building like Home Depot and BJs, but in our store, unusual.
A couple of years ago we did have a baby seagull walk through the in-door, and after a stroll up and down a couple of aisles, he calmly walked right out the out-door. But on the day I discovered our little bird, trapped inside and chirping at us to help him, it was heartbreaking. I knew, without food and water he was going to die. I kept telling myself he’d find his way out somehow, even though I knew it was unlikely. The store got busy and after a long day, I went home for a three day weekend and forgot about the bird.

The following Monday I went to work with nothing but the tasks at hand on my mind and there in my department, perching proud on top of a sign, was the little bird. Astounded that he was still alive and appalled and feeling guilty that I had forgotten about him, I got a bowl of water and a bag of wheat-chips from the vending machine in the employee lounge. Placing them at the top of the highest empty fixture, I hoped he’d find them before the store opened in two hours and I’d have to put them away. The little guy was skittish, he never found the food and water.

Years ago, in an East Lyme apartment, when my husband and I removed the fire screen from our woodstove to clean out cold ashes, a bird flew into the room. Because the stove pipe vented directly to the outside it wasn’t unusual during warmer months for a bird to flutter down the pipe and end up staring at us from inside the screen.

We spent over an hour trying to catch the terrified bird. We tried everything from using a broom to shoo him toward the door, to scooping with a long handled fish net. Finally I found a piece of decorative netting and tossed it like a Third World fishermen casting a net. Got ‘em.

The terrified little bird’s heart raced against my palms as I took him to the open slider by the deck. Triumphantly I opened my hands while gently tossing the scared little guy to freedom. He flapped up against the overhang of the deck and flew right back into the apartment. It took us another 15 minutes, and few more casts, to catch him again.

There would be no net casting for our little friend high in the rafters of the store. If he didn’t eat and drink we all knew he’d die. Once the store opened I removed the food and water. With a handful of crumbled chips I made a Hansel and Gretel crumb trail leading out the automatic in-and-out doors which we paused open. Customers were coming and going so for our little bird to find the food, and be lured outside by our cleverness, we figured it was pretty unlikely.

Ten minutes later I announced over the loud speakers to concerned customers and staff, “Elvis has left the building.”
Cheers echoed in the rafters.