Born of Scottish parents, who in the 1920's immigrated to America to start their young life anew. Dad from Glasgow, Mom from Dundee who bore two sons four and a half years apart: brother Andrew, the elder, and me, six months, arrived in Pottstown the summer of 1935 when Dad took a job with Bethlehem Steel as a draftsman. Brother Andrew joined the Navy leaving Pottstown during Korea and never really returned. I've stayed 80 years living out my story.
Life begins with a quality education: a graduate of Pottstown Junior and Senior High Schools, then matriculated to Penn State, State College, for three semesters garnering 50 credits, came home and enrolled in Ursinus College, night school for 50 more credits, still 28 credits short of a degree. Even so, I was elected into Pottstown High School Alumni Honor Roll Society, one of only three of my 1953 graduating class.
The field of sports engaged much of my younger years: here at home I received recognition becoming co- captain of the football team, was on the golf team, threw weights on the track team. Later, was on the championship adult men's industrial basketball team, Tony Zee's. At Penn State, even though I was the 52nd freshman to receive a uniform, my play brought me recognition and got me a new uniform as I was elevated to first team freshman and received the game ball for play against arch rival, Pitt. At Penn State I scrimmaged against the likes of : Redskins, Lenny Moore and Dan Radakovich ; all pro, Rosey Grier ; Jesse Arnelle ; Richie Lucas and Sam Valentine, All Americans. But, but now only a dream of what could have been.
When not at ball playing, I worked. At the age of nine I began caddying at Brookside Country Club which I did off and on until I graduated high school. Worked at Ringing Hill Orchard at harvest time then at fourteen began mowing lawns for Henry Fox staying with him for some fifteen years as he built his business into a three state landscape contracting firm. After a five year hiatus I got reinstated at Penn State for football, got busted up pretty badly, and dropped our for good. Acquired a salaried position at Firestone and began night school at Ursinus.
Left Firestone in 1969. I got remarried : first marriage lasted five years, fathered two: Bonnie and Sherri ; divorced five years ; now remarried 51 years, fathered three : Heather, a teacher; Lia, a Critical Care Nurse ; Ronald, a technician. I returned to landscaping joining with Fisher Hughes. We purchased and operated Pine Forge Ski Area and developed The Foundry Lounge along with expanding our growing landscape company. Citing conflicts, I left the organization, got my insurance a real estate licenses until unhappiness crept in and back to the land I went.
Developed Pottstown Nursery, a Garden Center and a fully functioning landscape construction company. Operated this way for ten years, then leased the Garden Center and moved the landscape company to Douglassvile on 57 acres of open land we'd purchased. Bob Smoyer and I formed Downie Smoyer Landscape as our business name in a seamless changeover. Smoyer's untimely death as my physical vitality diminished required me to settle the business's books. As in all businesses assets hopefully balance out with obligations and debts as ours barely did. My health: a prostate operation, foot complications from a deep cyst both landed me in the hospital. More debilitating has been my ongoing losing battle with type two diabetes. Now I only move with help of a walker and have not driven an automobile in five years.
All the while during my years in business I keep a close contact with the functions of this town, Pottstown, I call home. Early on, Jaycees then Ambucs, becoming president, also BIE, president again, Schuylkill River Greenway Association, yes president. School Board, four years; Parks and Rec, next ; eight years on Borough Council and finally eight years on Borough Authority, last four as chairman. An Elk, I've been named Elk of the year, I've earned a fifty year pin at being a member of the local Masonic Lodge, same with Reading Shrine and Consistory. I am past president of CAP, Carousel At Pottstown, and have an Ampitheater at the Schuylkill River named by the Borough in my name since I was instrumental in its construction. When this project was finished, I donated the machine I used to build the Ampitheater to the Parks Dept. who use it to this day.
Now 80 years old, when looking back, I would have had to live a long time to do as much as I did. In the last year I was named Pottstown's Poet Laureate in a book "Legendary Locals of Pottstown" written by Sue Repko. Poetry has been my advocation for the last half of my life. The bonding of thoughts onto paper that others may independently involve with the writer is an art dating back by man deep into antiquity. Whether good or bad, I pride myself in being able to live in real time by blocking out the past and not relive yesterdays. Only through an exercise like this am I able to bring the past into my preview. I hope this answers some questions.
Ronald C. Downie