Thursday, June 30, 2011

Footsteps Of A Thousand Generations

Footsteps Of A Thousand Generations 

Foot steps of a thousand generations
Formed my path's early morning walk
Along the river among the fowl ,
Between leafing fauna, seeking sight of 
Critters , different not that much from
Those seen by our ancestors, who
In their own good time, communed 
With our same Schuylkill River Mother.

Today's steps, increasingly halting and measured,
Drew me, while slowly shuffling along,
To observe a large family of geese
Soldering their goslings, skirting
Both swift waters and hidden shoals,
Those the acts of teaching an 
Awareness of potential dangers .

Nature repeats, repeats, repeats,
Always repeating, which forms
The waves of the living tide .

Ronald C. Downie 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Front Porch Punditry

Front Porch Punditry

While writing " It's My Town, Too " I developed thoughts about some of the necessary changes needed in order to turn Pottstown around and allow her to become grand again. Most needed changes are huge and beyond our easy reach; such as, stemming the decline in property values, ridding the use of property taxes to fund our schools, attracting industry here which offers many good paying jobs, and changing back to owner occupied houses rather than ones of landlord/tenant, to list a few. These changes are big and obvious and all of us must press government to continue working on them to bring them about. 

Not obvious, beyond the radar, are changes which could improve life here in Pottstown that I would classify as "out of the box" thinking. One thing sorely needed in town is a composting facility sufficient in size to accommodate the composting of not only yard waste but also our sewage sludge. Our sludge is generated by the three Pottsgrove's as well as the Borough of Pottstown. Yard waste would be expected to be received from the four adjoining municipalities and accepted from other other areas and from private contractors. Residential yard waste is defined as leaves, grass, shrubbery clippings, tree trimmings, and Christmas trees. 

Large in volume this waste provides bulk that will become decayed by adding sewage sludge as an accelerator for decaying which results in a compost for universal use. Compost is Nature's life force that puts the elements required for plant growth back into the soil. A good quality compost, which may be used on urban gardens and lawns, as well as, utilized in bulk by farmers for their field crops, is the desired result.

I can hear the grumblings now, more toys to spend our taxes on so some tree huggers can play games with gardens. 

Not so ! Composting is an economic development tool which when used to compost sewage sludge will save sewer customers- Pottstown and the three POttsgroves- over a million dollars a year. Processing sewage is an expensive operation and getting rid of the end product, sludge either wet or dried, is where costs could be really be saved benefiting all of us. A by product of this operation would be the benefit of having a place to take lawn wastes and other tree trimmings most properties accumulate. This operation would be self sufficient by paying for itself either through cost savings or by tipping fees.

The next question to be answered is where should it be placed ? If you have an opinion about - if or when or where - let me know.

Ronald C. Downie

Sunday, June 26, 2011

It's My Town, Too

It's My Town, Too

I'm afraid Pottstown is caught up in the classic American attitude of superficiality by pegging the emphasis of borough revitalization to glitzing up a few blocks of High Street. Though unique, purple lights on High Street's tree trunks don't seem to have drawn shoppers downtown. Somehow shoppers need stores to shop in before they'll flock there. Lighted tree trunks no matter the color are sort of like Christmas lights, seeing them once is like seeing them enough. 

I compliment The Borough for utilizing the transit fund to plant with beautiful flowers the baskets hanging on our light poles and placing the planted flower pots in The Town Center Park, at Borough Hall's entrance, and along the length of the new transit waiting area. Flowers create an atmosphere of vibrant life which is continually growing in size and vitality those attributes our town sorely needs.

High Street may be the face of the town but it's not the heart nor the pocket book of our community. The heart of the borough is to be found in its people who continue to plow ahead in spite of the visible deterioration taking place around them. Boarded up and overgrown properties, once very few, are now commonplace crying for attention. Businesses, where activity was once taken for granted, are now cold, quiet, and dark while loudly shouting out for action. 

A tax base drawn from home owners, landlords, commercial property owners, and industries is declining. With this decline, tax income to pay for the Town's operation and the operation of the school system becomes less sufficient each year so taxes must be raised. Is it any wonder we don't attract upwardly mobile young families here, or businesses for High Street, or light industries ? Attract we do : Section 8 housing, and non-profits servicing their wards, and Churches doing their thing, and the homeless living off their wits, so to say.

I'm sure we're not alone in those perils I describe. I, after 76 years of living in Pottstown, haven't seen a decline in our town so dire ever before. My memory vividly goes back to WW2 and the years after for three decades when industry hummed and everyone had a job, a house, a club, and finally an automobile. School was fun and anyone who wanted could go off to college knowing there was always a job back home if they needed one. 

I anxiously await the task force that was put together and is aggressively at work to stem the Town's decline. They'll need all the support that each of us can give them, in fact, I believe they'll need something closer to Devine intervention so, to everyone, pray for them too.

Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, June 25, 2011



We were young bright faced back then
Yet lived through each hard war year. 
Seated far too long we were fidgety
Shifting again and again in our chair,
Adolescently tuned in for ring , ring ,
Recess, up and out, gulping in fresh air.

Loudly spilling out past heavy metal doors
We chose sides for macadam ball games,
High-low jumping preceded double Dutch .
Pupil pods were sprouting lifelong nicknames .
We chalked for hop Scotch, loved dodge ball,
Made fast friends long before our adult aims .

How high could a metal chain swing be pumped ?
How fast could the rickety old merry-go-round turn ?
How much climber time did we spend up side down ?
How was hard round steel hand polished smooth as an urn ?
How far out were the fields where the big kids played ?
How do we remember Miss Neiman who urged us all to learn ?

She joins with memories of cool chilling breezes sent yet 
From western blue skies, mauve at late sunset, still .
She is present in our thoughts about classrooms, those of
The playground, even, out picking milkweed pods, at a fire drill .
Mrs. Francis Neiman Buchert, here today with us, is our 
Connection to Lower Pottsgrove Elementary School, built upon a hill .

   Ronald C . Downie 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sheer Church Steeples

         Sheer Church Steeples 

Sheer church steeples spire to prick the sky,
Breach through which archangels fly
Down gathering in souls , their earthly try
To populate heaven for the man on high.

Celestial maypoles heaved up by man
Anchored earth mud mired to land.
Escaped the cave, down from the tree,
This two legged being in want of just be.

Just be, quite difficult alone by the sea,
Span of the Universe,"Immortality.?" asks he.
By chance or was Homo-Sapiens planned?
Heinous horrors logged under his command.

Pinioned in amber preserved through time
Cenozoic bee perfect pre-pre-mankind.
Pollen's magi while sperm still slime
Never dreamt Gods imaged in kind.

Eternally fanning frenzied on wings
Pungent waif sweet nectar brings
Worker collectors with death they atone
There universe ,Queen Bee, almighty on throne.

From your garden gently lift an open rose
Bring it within the scent stream of your nose,
Petal vapor? Bee scripture ? I suppose .
Neither crucifixion nor armageddon myths they chose.

               Ronald C. Downie.     

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Haiku 22

Haiku 22

Unproductive time,
Damned by the vile Gods -
No work, so no eat.

A good steady rain,
Corn knee high Forth of July -
Parades / fire works.

Summer Solstice here,
Days will become much longer -
Equinox awaits.

Pottstown's improving,
Flower pots quite impressive -
Hanging baskets, Wow !

Crack down on dead beats,
Clean house, move them out, be strong -
Attract worker bees.



I can attest to being a creature of habit. I go to bed about the same time each night, 10 O'clock, I get awake about 5:30 each morning but don't climb out of bed until an hour or so later because I watch 
"Way To Early" with Willie Geist on MSNBC then follow with "Morning Joe" at 6 AM.

Not only do I get the breaking news of the day, I have the day's weather, the sport's headlines, and, especially, "News You Can't Use", a feature spun by Willie to get your day off with a smile.

By 9 O'clock I've read The Mercury, had my two cups of coffee, ate my breakfast, and I'm filled up to my neck with news and opinion, so seeking relief, I switch the TV from MSNBC to either "Easy Listening" or "Light Classical"on Music Choice in the 400 channels. Now I can pick up my iPad and review emails and Facebook postings while the music plays in the background soothing my thoughts. On this iPad I write down those thoughts developed through the night and early morning which, by reading this, you can experience some of those thoughts of mine.

When distanced from daily need to work at a job or a career by the perils of aging, time once so revered drifts away from urgency, as a leaf does when dropping into the current of a slow moving stream. Down stream the leaf will eventually lodge in its final resting place, not too differently than we, when we finally arrive at ours.

Writing has been very therapeutic for me, but for you who read this, my writing may seem gibberish at best and I apologize for this. I am trying to get you to write also since writing has been the backbone of discourse for longer than we wish to acknowledge. I hope you allow yourself time, the limited time on Earth that you have, to try your hand at writing for no other than for yourself.

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, June 20, 2011



Simplistic as a mark by a pencil on a piece of paper is the subject of this effort. We all are familiar with lines since pre-school when teachers insisted we stay within the lines when coloring. Lines invade our daily lives, just drive down a road and think what keeps us on one side of road and an opposing car on the opposite side, isn't it the line painted in the middle of the road that, by enlarge, keeps the two vehicles from running into each other.

Pin a map of North America on the wall and look toward the top half you'll observe a line running east and west separating the USA from Canada then look down and see a similar line separating us from Mexico. How powerful is a simple line marked by printer's ink on a paper's surface universally understood by most who view it as defining individual countries.

Pick any game or sport and try to play it without lines, impossible. An accountant draws a line across the end of a list of numbers, you've heard the statement, " a line drawn in the sand ", or heard "take an 8 by11 lined sheet of paper". 

I bet you can think of numerous other examples of lines since lines are a fact of daily life for everyone.
I'm not necessarily fixated on lines but I am amazed at the raw power of a line painted on a roadway in this the age of the automobile. Hey, keep in the lines.

Ronald C. Downie

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Song Tune

Song Tune

         The song
     The song of life
The song of life is played in the key of time :

Seconds tick minutes into hours for days to find,
As weeks couple bearing months that years combine
Into passing decades etched forever on the mind.
Friends, in chorus, help harmonize the melody Devine,

            But the tune,
        The tune is ours,
    The tune is ours alone,
But the tune is ours, ours, all alone to find.

Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Westward Ho !

    Westward  Ho !

Way, way back then, in the earliest days,
The dream of a river walk's out of the haze.
A full fashion boardroom caught onto the craze,
Surveyed the Schuylkill, watched its flooding ways.

Seventy-two, " Water, water everywhere
And not a drop to drink", pure and clear.
Blue Marsh is built to tame flood's rage
The Schuylkill is calmed, she's come of age.

Berks County men and their women too
Began planning to build their dream come true
But the river is longer then a Penn Street view
Up and down stream needed work from a crew.

The Silver Fox and her Nordic Man,
From western plains in hand a plan,
Strode arm in arm into Pretzel Town,
Saw the Schuylkill flowing easterly down.

No matter there's no Apostle Keith
Nor a Dixie Angel to ward off grief,
They set their compass, surveyed the land,
Wrote the guidelines, finished their plan.

Now, into the sunset with our wishes of love
West goes the Silver Fox and her Turtle Dove,
A debt of gratitude and much more we owe you,
We will honor your work, your foundations are true. 

    Ronald C. Downie

The Swenson's : Dixie, Executive Director ; Keith, Planning Director assumed leadership of The Schuylkill River Greenway Association ( SRGA) from Victor Yarnell and moved the office from Berks County to Montgomery County at Pottstown .When they left to return out west, Kurt Zwikl replaced Dixie as Executive Director.   



Long in years-            
   when passions pout

Old's seen change-   
heard hymn and shout     

Wondering still-             
      what life's about

Fire in the belly-         
   long turned to gout

Thin's in-                 
 so we shun the stout

The long haired poet-           
          termed a lout

His poetic wish-                 
         to shout it out

Wisdom through thought-     
          to live without

We are the lesser-          
        left yet in doubt

Deep in years-       
time when passions pout.

Ronald C.Downie.   

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

To See Vast Waters/ Grasses

To See Vast Waters, Grasses

To see vast oceans pillow a red balled western
Sun at close of dying day, hearts our thoughts.
Ship anchorages dot our jagged shores while seas
Are pleasured by watered life old as age itself.

Great green seas, endless to the human eye, watch 
Waves of high tasseled grasses strong wind blown
Gathering in antiquity's rhythms of Earth's songs.
Feared of fire, though necessary, life force cycles.

We close each day a little wiser, dumber ?
How do we unravel the crimes of ignorance ?
Is death final or only a prelude of really living ?
Do questions come too easy, answers not easy ?

Never standing still time steps to a silent drummer,
Wearing down muscle and sinew, thought and will,
As a grind stone mashes kernels into eatable flour
To sustain life which lasts until it ultimately ceases.

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sorry I Asked

Sorry I Asked

Have you ever thought, "sorry I asked", when in a conversation especially when you're talking to your doctor? That was my feeling recently during my last doctor's visit. He calls himself, my health supervisor, who monitors regular blood test information and reports from other health professionals I sometimes have appointments with. A visit with Doc always starts with," How are you feeling?" Of course my reply is, " Ok, I guess. " really though I rarely feel ok, rarely feel good.

During my latest visit when I told Doc I was tired of going to doctors, since I had just gone through multiple visits to a dermatologist who operated on three skin cancers, he looked irritated with my response. Then came my question, "Don't most elderly get these feelings?" 

My doctor, my health supervisor came out with it. He said, "The elderly are just living too long !" Yes, he hit the nail on the head, yes, oldsters like me should have expired years ago. Medicare and social security would then be saved and our country's books put back in balance.

I've outlived my parents by over a decade, my brother a decade and a half. Neither of us is living our older age comfortably, both have age related nonreversible physical problems. Our doctors are unable to help us live in a degree of comfort without pain which debilitates us and essentially imprisons us to limited surroundings. We're among many millions who are much worse off than we. We still have our mental faculties, at least, I hope so, but, there is a real bummer lurking out there when many elderly with pain free physical health have lost their cognitive mental health to Alzheimer's. 

Now, I don't know who I should apologize to : my wife, my family, my friends, or to the whole world for staying alive mentally though my body is fully spent. Sadly modern medicine has few real answers to give you unsuspecting young other than quit smoking, eat better but less, drink herbal tea rather than any form of alcohol, exercise daily for the rest of your active life. Good luck future oldsters !

"The elderly are just living too long" is an undeniable truth unthinkable to the young of our World who will realize in years to come this harsh fact of life. 

Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mrs. Francis Neiman Buchert

Noted today the passing of Mrs. Francis Neiman Buchert, widower of Kenny Buchert, former teacher- a beloved teacher - Who in 1997 was honored with a luncheon on her behalf on the occasion of 50 years having transpired since her students last attended her classrooms at The Lower POttsgrove Elementary School on Pleasantview Road in Sanatoga. The poem, Connections, was written for her, for her students,and for the time of WWII.


We were young bright faced back then
Yet lived through each hard war year. 
Seated far too long we were fidgety
Shifting again and again in our chair,
Adolescently tuned in for ring , ring ,
Recess, up and out, gulping in fresh air.

Loudly spilling out past heavy metal doors
We chose sides for macadam ball games,
High-low jumping preceded double Dutch .
Pupil pods were sprouting lifelong nicknames .
We chalked for hop Scotch, loved dodge ball,
Made fast friends long before our adult aims .

How high could a metal chain swing be pumped ?
How fast could the rickety old merry-go-round turn ?
How much climber time did we spend up side down ?
How was hard round steel hand polished smooth as an urn ?
How far out were the fields where the big kids played ?
How do we remember Miss Neiman who urged us all to learn ?

She joins with memories of cool chilling breezes sent yet 
From western blue skies, mauve at late sunset, still .
She is present in our thoughts about classrooms, those of
The playground, even, out picking milkweed pods, at a fire drill .
Mrs. Francis Neiman Buchert, here today with us, is our 
Connection to Lower Pottsgrove Elementary School, built upon a hill .

   Ronald C . Downie 

Friday, June 10, 2011



  Wooly sheep penned outside a sheering house are unaware shortly of loosing their fleece as they enter the chute leading into the building. I suggest, there is an analogy between these sheep and the voting public, both are going to be fleeced : sheep lose theirs, the voters have it pulled over their eyes.
  This primary election cycle chose candidates to be on the ballot in November. Local school boards after that election will have to reorganize and, if the past is any indicator, new boards will undo many of the initiatives the old boards started.
  This happens often. Often, because if education was war, school boards would only be involved in local skirmishes when the need for victory rests with major battles. Major battles must be waged in Harrisburg. For years skirmishes have been won by affluent districts garnering favors from their state senators and representatives. Districts that are affluent are populated by richer constituents who make their desires known. Money is power in a state where "money talks and bull s--- walks".
  These elected state officials love an easily led herd moving along quietly, unconcerned. If you are uncomfortable about this, you may be a member of that herd. Or, if you're agitated, you may be just the right person to set up a battle plan that takes local school districts into war. A war that must be won. A war that must be waged in Harrisburg. 
  The spoils of this war is the guarantee of equity in paying for education. Once relatively equal, taxes on property provided an acceptable method to fund schools on a local basis. Over the last five decades the dynamics of property values has changed dramatically in Pennsylvania as the affluent moved from urban areas out into the suburbs. As with them heavy industry moved too, but they left the state for other states or left the country all together.
  State legislators, if not challenged, do not hear the individual school district's plight."Divide and concur" is their old trick which keeps local districts off balance. Each district figures and refigures the ever changing amounts of moneys coming from Harrisburg while they wait to the end to raise taxes. Just because it has always been done this way, doesn't mean, it has to continue to be done this way. 
  Your voice heard in Harrisburg is the best and only way to get state legislators acting on solutions to bringing equity into our education system's funding.

Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Schuykill Flow On

   Schuylkill Flow On 

Rain droplets drumming echo the beat
That lilting , white snowflakes repeat :
" Drink as you may , waters flow on ."
Wherever ripples heard -" Earth's Song ."

" Drink as you may , waters flow on ."

High upland grow hemlock and oak ,
Maple and pine grey clouds they stroke .
Rhododendron , fern , laurel , moss 
Drink they may , Nature's use no loss .

Pools and puddles , crevice and nook ,
Trickle to rivulet , stream from brook ,
Etched valleys cut through hill and farm .
" Drink as you may , waters flow on ."

Barons despoiled rivers for smoke ,
Vast green forests turned into coke .
Black hard coal silt mud washed on down ,
Schuylkill's high, clogged, floods river town .

Miller , tanner , iron tender's strong arm
Flushed acid wastes so terrible their harm .
Now corrected they're returned to the flow ,
The Schuylkill's cleaner , still hidden she'll go .

White birchbark canoes were clean in the past ,
Early American native life sad never to last .
Strong mules pulled barges , now motors push boat ,
Long past remembered through sojourns and floats .

" Drink as you may , waters flow on ."
Hear her , see her , do her no harm ,
Dream , redeem , unhide her each day ,
Schuylkill's a jewel at work or at play .

Flow on ,flow on , Schuylkill flow on ,
Flow on , flow on , forever flow on .

      Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Haiku 21

Haiku 21

Evan's made his mark,
His wise words make people think -
Bet Anthony's proud.

Memorial Day,
Honors the dead sent to war -
Old men send young men !

Education lost
When left to mere amateurs -
Children are losers.

Walkable Pottstown,
Cars everywhere, streets are full -
Who are we kidding ?

Tired of cliches,
"Everything on the table" -
Balance the damn books.

Sojourn paddling on,
Reaching Pottstown this Tuesday -
Wet from sweat, I bet.

Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Not So Funny This Limerick

  Not So Funny This Limerick

"May West" twin towers
Duce my eastern sky
And harangue dawn sun's
Awakening smile.

Concrete slip formed heavenward
Now plume gaseous 
Vapors steamed hot to
Cool the bowels of
Domed chain reaction.

So long familiar
Just formed white -grey clouds
Join with crossing winds
Whose path's direction
Unknown until trailed.

East the other day
I looked in dismay,
No vapors to veil 
The violet sky. Why?

"Three Mile Island" chill 
Raised my neck hairs to stand.
What monsters eons 
Past collage synapse 
To recoil this theme?

Gone is familiar so
Instinct rules the day.

"Shut down" they called it,
"Inadvertent though",
The official line.

  Ronald C. Downie
Why so many " inadvertent " shutdowns ? Best we ask today, tomorrow, and each day .

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cry From Mid-Space

    Cry From Mid-Space 

God damned you, Dreams, whore no more to me, release me
To covet grayness bleating from a sullen sky .
Don't show me violets pure nor roses gay that cry
My inter soul awake . No !  I must not think free .

Chain my mind, please stem that emotion swell
Within this hide so I do not hope in vain .
In image of his maker man can train
As oxen yoked to circle round the well .

I can not define mid- space where dreamers dwell ,
Far sight a scene then slowly squint it into
Mental pictures , like a frosted pane looked through ,
Is it real ? Is it heaven ? Is it, well is it, hell ?

Theater must be a hell for a lost dreamer's soul :
Not in dance around soothing flames and crackling sounds
That flow the senses' veins ; but of grey ash mounds 
Staged of choking soot waiting to fill a dreamer's hole .

Accept the young, they have not traversed the gorge 
Left by dreamers old whose torrent thoughts erode .
Fill the young with placid manna lest they explode
With alien notions thinking they're their own Saint George . 

Dreams - damn you !  Lay not your head on my breast this day .
Free me, so I may see what our Nation antes up :
Those dull, brow bent cast of actors who hold the cup,
Which keeps America hostage and wastes a dreamer's play .

   Ronald C . Downie    

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hippocratic Oath

Hippocratic Oath
   "First do no harm", as I understand it, is an oath administered to graduating medical school students to guide them forever in their profession. We all hope they follow this oath. 
   Legislators, both state and federal, take an oath to uphold the Constitution of their State, if a state official, and The Constitution of The United States if federal. We all hope that they follow this oath also.
   I wish legislators had to take the Hippocratic Oath too since their decisions can really cause wholesale harm to a society. Much of this harm seems to come about when a legislator legislates in a way to keep themselves in office. A vote on a bill not to upset the voters may seem prudent at the time and for future reelection, but in the long run may be the worst thing for the future and generations yet to follow.
   Our Country's Framers had little idea legislators would become full-time professionals at their occupations. Most envisioned farmers or millers would serve a term or two then go back home to live out their lives there. Times have changed and the minds of legislators have changed along with time. Eating from the public trough must be enticing. The easy move from legislating to lobbing must be so very inviting too.
   Today, our Country needs a redirecting of basic priorities starting with the limiting of terms of service for legislators. We always hear," lame duck session "and how much progress is to be made during that session. Why ? Because legislators including presidents are not running for reelection; therefore, they can vote their conscious instead of pandering for votes.
   Churchill said of The United States, " You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else." Maybe that's where we are now, having tried everything else and now we 'll do the right thing. The impending World financial crises with us as a prime player makes Congress look like babbling fools in there pre-positioning stance about the debt ceiling and cuts to entitlements and raising revenues. All these talking heads blathering talking points only to gather in potential votes can't have you and me in their heart of hearts. 
   We are better than this I was always taught.  
   "Of the people, by the people, for the people", that is us : when young sent to War, when healthy asked to build a nation for the future, now when old asked to sacrifice gains worked for so the effluent few can get more. This, my friends, is not a representative democracy but it is a plutocracy. The rule over us by the rich is one of the harshest governments of them all. To them : money is power and power is money. We are merely pawns, numbers to be crunched, throwaways.
   My time is running out so someone has to pick up the baton and run with it. I only hope one of you who reads this bends over, picks up the baton, and runs like "hell". 

Ronald C. Downie