Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sanatoga Speedway

Sanatoga Speedway

Always the showman, George Marshman, in1954 began the spectacle called Demolition Derby which was not a race but it was truly a survival of  attrition through luck. When the field of cars starting the event got down to only one still functioning, that one was declared the winner. 

Though run inside the fence dividing spectator from the oval action, this was not an oval race. The infield as well as the oval track was in use by the driver contestants. Their instructions were to begin racing in a figure eight pattern crisscrossing the infield in a manner to excite the crowd with near misses at first, then later cause crashes targeted to disable a car while keeping your own going. It was immaterial whether you ran in reverse or forward. Those who were adept at driving in reverse seemed to be the better survivors of the spectacle.

The crowds just loved the garish nature of Demolition Derby. Race fans were used to getting some what dirty from dust but this event which used the clay infield churned hardened clay into fine particles blanketing everything. George Marshman saw this problem early and turned to chemistry to solve it.

This is where I entered the picture. I was a young infrequent spectator working for a landscape contractor operating from a Sanatoga location. George found out this firm had a hydro seeder normally used in spraying grass seed and fertilizer on  disturbed ground along newly built highways. He contracted us each race day to spray a tank load of water spiked with a chemical that made water wetter on the infield which penetrated the clay and reduced the amount of dust occurring. I was the operator perched up on the pump platform spraying away. 

The Speedway's endurance seemed to be fading away around then and George, it seems to me, lost some interest in the Sanatoga operation. Remember, this was the coming of his son's heyday in the big arena. Sadly Bobby Marshman, after leaving his mark on racing, left this life. The images of both George and his son Bobby Marshman along with the Sanatoga Speedway fade into history as all things etched in memory eventually do.

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Writing's My Play

Writing's My Play

When I'm caught up in national political chatter,
I retreat to my front porch, weather permitting.
There, enjoy brown leaves dropping without clatter,
While squirrels chase and birds wing, rarely resting.

Then, comfortable on my rocker, I turn on the radio
To NPR or, if they're rehashing gotcha's of the day,
I dial in a classical music station. Walkers say, Hello!
My universe expands from this rocker, gone is play.

And then, birds catch my eye, with swop and flit
As they move from tree to tree, kind of like chase
When I was young. A large hawk glides in to sit
Tippy top of the steeple pointing to heaven's place.

The older we get, memory enlarges to fill our day,
Now I can't physically engage, so writing's my play.

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Shaman Speaks

A Shaman Speaks

High up in a mountain top cave sits an old
Man crossed legged, grey bearded, robed.
Embers wisps a sharp herbal fragrance
Up on the breeze fanning the wood fire.
I have come here to seek out Wisdom
From this revered Shaman in his temple.
How else does one get great new ideas
If not from minds of learned old men ?

" Oh, Great Seer, how shall I best live 
My life ? I feel I'm just a lowly life 
Since all around me I sadly see myself
In other people who themselves need help."

   The Shaman speaks :

"Be clean and neat, be orderly,
So little cost, so great a reward.
Satisfy these basic human needs :
Be content, controlled, simple, clean."

"Be honest, especially with yourself,
If truly in your own mind you're a cad,
Tell yourself you are, don't lie about it.
You must lead your own self to freedom."

"Reward comes from effort through work.
Expect none if you don't freely give
Of yourself. If you are lazy, suffer.
A hand up always trumps a hand out."

"Seek strength from external forces.
Always choose your own beliefs wisely.
Question yourself, be ready to change.
Make wonderment your personal temple."

"Gather facts to develop knowledge,
From this Wisdom may suddenly emerge.
Through Wisdom comes original thought
Which has a chance to change our World."

I asked,"Anything else, Great One ?"

"I'm tired, but : seek out beauty,
Need very little and want even less,
Balance desires, promote life's needs,
Heed the message of your inner voice."

I sensed the story of Moses carrying 
The Ten Commandments down from
The mountain. Scripture or Shaman Speak ?
Chose the message to live your own life by.

   Ronald C. Downie    

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Win-Win For Pottstown

A Win-Win For Pottstown

If you had an investment of mega-millions in a property would you be satisfied in it just sitting there hardly generating any income beyond the cost to keep it mowed. If the property were on the tax rolls it would carry a negative balance sheet, taxes being more than income generated.

This property I describe is our own Pottstown Airport. With something like 70 Acres of open land much of it surrounded by industrial properties, the under performance of this commercial land is a drag on Pottstown's lagging economy. 

One way of addressing this situation would be by selling the property but, federal grants which would need to be repaid, scuttle this tact. About two years, or so ago, I wrote a letter to council and to the administration suggesting a method to create at the airport an income generating operation.

Create a solar farm on the roofs of the buildings and on the open space grass areas in a magnitude maximizing all available space. The very nature of an airport requiring that there be no vertical obstructions is perfect for a solar energy generation. I would suggest a minimum of 20 acres could be used for such a venture. In fact, Pottstown could become the templet for these types of operations across the state, if not, the nation.

Well, nothing's happened. With this Year's shortfall of $600,000.00 looming and property values into the future figured to be falling even further, I doubt we can assess fees up each year to balance the budget. What we need is an income generator, a solar farm. 

The future requires futuristic thinking, out of the box thinking. I would hope some would give this thought some consideration. A solar farm could easily coexist with the airport in full operation. Income generation would go on for ever and when investments were paid off income would rise accordingly. A win-win in my eyes.

Ronald C. Downie

Gain Mastery

Gain Mastery

When in a crush of many misled men
Our World shutters of horrible deeds,
A counter is born by all strong women
Who bear our children, sow new seeds :

Then, fresh generations gain the wheel,
Trim the sails, set the compass to steer
Vessel into clear waters. They then feel
Gaining mastery is something not to fear :

And then, we of a lesser state find comfort 
In understanding life on Earth gains in merit
From vitality pent up with genes of the sort,
Wishing for a more perfect union, to inherit.

Be these the dreams to set aside our own misery
Of discontent, discarded woes, or gain its mastery. 

Ronald C. Downie
A sonnet

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Neighbor Talkers

Neighbor Talkers

When our bright golden sphere arcs an azure sky
It causes sparkling reflections from all that's sheen.
Just like today, when frost filmed all caught by eye
Those surfaces until sun warmed reflections seen.

Then, with arc low in the sky the sun brightly shines
Illuminating all in a golden hue but heating up lags.
Winter's near, spring's far off, late fall now finds
Leafless trees, flowerless gardens, fluttering flags.

Then, from out my window I only see few walkers,
Healthy brave ones, warmly bundled against cold,
Earlier in summer these were my neighbors, talkers.
Many years I've seen seasons change, now I'm old.

The sun shifts its altering arc, the Earth accepts
Seasons as normal, and always, life's force adapts.

Ronald C. Downie 

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Value Of Meaningful Work

        The Value Of Meaningful Work

For nine years during the decade of the '60's I worked at Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, Lower Pottsgrove .While working there I met so many self made men that I wondered what was the key to their character ? When I engaged them in conversations I pressed them to explain how their former years were spent. Most were veterans of WW11 and attributed their character to the regiment of being in the military, the act of leaving home when still young, and their realization that there is value in a chain of command system .

War was not all that formed character . The older ones, some too old to serve in the war, told a similar tale of early development . These fellows were from families caught up in the Depression with little or no family income and no jobs in sight. They also left home at an early age and entered into a paramilitary style organization, the CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps, a works program for young men
aged 18 to 25 .

Their tales about life in the CCC were compelling . Newly away from home and family they bunked in log type cabins erected by earlier crews of Corps workers led by men trained in carpentry and construction . The newly arrived came with few skills, though at that time in our country most young men came from a stable family whose need was a livable income . It was the mandate of the Corps to take untrained young men and give them a job needing little prior experience.These jobs were mostly involved in work at public parks, in our public land's forests, and along our meagerly developed highway system .

Three square meals a day, a regiment of sleep time, work time, break time, all in a semi-relaxed supervisory atmosphere that gave these men structure in their daily life. They each received a small allowance with the rest of their wages being sent home to the struggling families there . Each to a man felt their work while in the CCC was spent for a greater good, for the good of the country, as sort of, for a noble cause. Each expressed a feeling that their lives turned out much better for them having spent time in the CCC and had no regrets for their service time .

Today the young, both males and females, need similar structure in their lives which their fathers and grandfathers lived two generations prior which dramatically changed their lives for the better. Of course the question remains : Could the government today create a 21'st Century equivalent to the CCC of earlier times? After that question is answered, a larger question begs an answer, should our government reinstitute the CCC today ?

If you answer, Yes, to these questions you join me in my way of thinking . It seems we must move away from a cowboy mentality of : arrogant independence, gun on hip, open range to ride, dumb heifers (people) to herd, deserving mine and taking it, the Hell with you, I  got mine . 

Let's press Washington to institute a 21'st Century CCC that will give the young adults among us an alternative to a wasted start without meaningful work at home, without a personal structure governing daily activities, without some sense of order and supervision, and without a goal of common interest, namely, for the good of the whole, for the good of the country, for the good of the planet, and mainly for the good of the self .

    Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Day

          Turkey Day

High School Football season ends officially
In towns about noon on Thanksgiving Day,
Not on Ringing Hill or down Sanatoga way .
The grunt's game began at 2 PM traditionally .

In the 1950's about 1 o'clock Turkey Day 
Fellows began arriving out behind *LPE School :
Young and old, in shape or not, wise or fool,
Rag tag or football wise, kick off to come soon .

Ringing Hill :Jack, Bill Bechtel ;Sanatoga :the Burns's,
Eddie Albert, Jack Babel, Tassy, and the Schott's
Ringing Hill : the Spohn's, Lin Bieler, the Mitch's,
And me . I played in this game for many years .

Fifty years later, memory slipping, who'd I forget ?
The Koren's for Ringing Hill ;Earnie, George for them. Age presses up against the reality of fleeting 
Time to rob the picture of faces, bodies, and play.

Rules, who worried for rules, kick off the damn ball. No one wore pads, some wore a hat if it was windy, But it wasn't until the shoes or sneakers came off That a true earnestness surfaced, in barefoot, speed accelerated . 

Since August some of us had practiced in full gear,
Played a full schedule of High School Football games,
Prided ourselves in wins and discounted our losses
With less fanfare, then was anticipation for this "real" game. 

Up and down the wind blown field from sideline to sideline
Men and boys played at blocking and tackling,
Running and throwing, in an earnest effort, or, just to have some fun. 
The yearly game of random intent came to forgotten conclusions.

Gone, but for memories, some still living others long dead.
The Prize, bragging rights for a short while, the true worth, 
As always, individuals banding together at some sort of play 
Where the journey far outweighed the outcome of the contest.

   Ronald C. Downie

*LPE- Lower Pottsgrove Elementary School on Pleasantview Road, Sanatoga,
Dedicated to many friends, lifelong closest, Jack Bechtel and Linwood Bieler.     

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It Is What It Is

"It Is What It Is"

When, the real cast of actors leaves us down
Acting out their personal part in life's schemes,
Will we seek what we wish to see come around
Finding the play's truthful to all Man's dreams :

Then, as a slap across the face would bring a welt
We pause, feeling hurt, we reach out for answers.
"It is what it is." The plays are similar, actors melt
Into history, but in life only seven scenes, my sirs :

And then, accepting that which only we can control,
We look, listen, interpret, we respond with an action.
Finding our bearings, speaking out, always on patrol
Each day surveying The Field Of Dreams for traction.

Accepting early enough in a lifespan your limitations
Makes time pass more easily bypassing complications.

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An Eary Snow

An Early Snow

Frozen whiteness piles up thick on leaves
From the late October northeaster storm.
Bending comes to supple branches at ease,
Unaccustomed to snow, too far from norm.

Bending before braking serves all life well,
Sort of like thinking before actually acting.
All stories are pent up in us ready to tell,
They are time massaged awaiting the saying.

Weather has ways of tempering our actions
Into pauses and interruptions as we all react
Unscripted. Final outcomes move to reactions
Brought about through tough bending is a fact.

Planning may get the snow shovel waxed ready,
Or the lawn mower tuned, sharpened, cleaned.
Anticipation's good as long as thought's steady
On track, free of falling back on ideas dreamed.

But, dreams inspire what we want our World to be.
A future, free of dreams, would be a sterile place :
Void of bright colors, lush plants, clear water free
To drink from, A Fountain Of Youth, a lovely space.

A misplaced October snow prompted this poem
Which challenges us to think alternative thought.
Should we act or react or just let our minds roam
Through time, sifting comfortable dreams, sought? 

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, November 21, 2011

Haiku 62

Haiku 62

Super Committee,
A tragic joke on people -
"Stupor" Committee.

Occupy your mind !
Occupy your emotions !
Occupy your heart !

Each generation
Marches to dirge drums pounding -
Some will leave their mark.

A thought - Occupy !
Reality     - Occupy !
For hope   - Occupy !

I point my finger 
Directly at inaction -
Congress is inept.

Where's the Jesus gene ?
He fed the poor, healed the sick -
He spoke to masses.

Ronald C. Downie

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Into The Lamp Of History

Into The Lamp Of History

When, onto the streets the massed disavowed march
From their "Occupy" camps into the lamp of history,
Their's is of every walk of life found under the arch,
Who make daily toil tribute to their work's mastery:

Then, they join in an echoing voice the massive choir
Assembled Worldwide putting sound to the footsteps.
Unscripted, leaderless, message driven, forgiving prior
Allegiances to Madison Avenue's lusty driven preps :

And then, cracks within the cloistered Wall Street
Conclaves who hire blue coats for their protection.
Big money needs big results, billions verses speech ; 
Words tug at heart and mind gaining true affection.

"The die is cast", an overwhelming thought adopted 
By multitudes, succinct simplicity, never's co-opted.

Ronald C. Downie
A sonnet

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Art Of Listening

The Art Of Listening

When we lean on the cluttered din of the day
Few sounds can escape chatter's deafening wake.
Sharp piercing sounds squeal loud, so far away,
The rest, cloud like, low muffled sounds make :

Then in conversation which guides this very day,
From clouds back to Earth, beckons our own reply.
Uptempo, finding why's and wherefores, we may
State truths and falsehoods out loud to the sky :

And then, do we really wait for an answer returned,
Or, have we retreated back into the heavens cloudy,
Not hearing the din nor if the responder's concerned,
Which has bearing living silently, if not, then loudly? 

Lost is the "Art Of Listening" basic to Earth as sod,
But, grown so close, we are just as "Pees In A Pod".
Ronald C. Downie
A sonnet

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tents For Sale

Tents For Sale

Grab your hats ! Six million dollars lost in borough assessment value this year up to Nov.9 requiring a borough tax increase. What will the assessed value be 7 month from now when the Pottstown School District figures our new tax levy ? Remember, the exact same properties that are taxed for the borough are the same which are taxed for the school district. For every $5 of yearly taxation paid by we tax payers, $4 dollars goes to the school district. Better start saving now or learn to live in a tent as  "Occupiers" choose to do.

Forget federal taxes, it is the crush of local taxes that will impoverish you and change the way you'll have to live. How in the world can those citizens like me on fixed incomes pay the increases in taxes along with every other price increase levied ? Does a 1%'r ever have to worry about where they will live to live out their days ? 

Tell me that I didn't put forth an effort, tell me I didn't work enough for me to enjoy the fruits of The Great American Dream, tell me I need less so a small few who have everything can amass more, tell me this and I'll spit in your face. Yes, I am angry, yes, I am discouraged with our country's governance, yes, I am in fear of a complete World financial collapse. No, I won't break, but I may have to buy a tent and get out of this rat race. Hey, is that you in line to buy a tent too !

Ronald C. Downie

Rebirth Of Pottstown, A College Town*

Rebirth Of Pottstown, A College Town*

John, John Potts, what was it like,
When first to this place you came?
You conceived a form, a town was born,
That forevermore carries your name .

You pledged your trust to a westward bluff,
Meandering east a lovely creek ran clean   
To a river so pure that it had in store
The demand for that black rock's glean .

The Schuylkill tamed, from Holland named,
She's a marriage of creeks, many a stream.
But the scourge of time the discharge of slime
Was in ignorance of man's best drempt dream.

So, John, again we'll look to her use,
To draw life for your town worn down .
Will the river forgive past utter abuse
And revive the rebirth of our Pottstown ?

*Our college town, Pottstown, long in history is poised for a rebirth, especially, if we associate our town with the positive image of The Montgomery County Community College. Please do your part.

Ronald C . Downie   

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Messenger Ancestor

The Messenger Ancestor

Dog-eared thoughts crease corners of my cerebral pages
Ancestrally bound by hardened covers of earlier ages.
Universal questions chapter this book that engages 
Me to write at this point in time. Please listen, my reply.

I have lived well beyond my half-life years.
Warm thoughts furrow happy acres, but, tears
Embedded deeply erode forgotten ancient fears
Wondering : "Why am I here?" and "Who am I ?"

Uranium encased rods are organized to squeeze heat
Into electric current, when spent, active life's complete.
But, until sealed to sleep decades of ten thousand years, feat
Required of our heirs, no stirring allowed nor restless cry.

Do atoms compressed into stiff rods differ that greatly
From DNA atoms strung like a pearl neckless neatly
To imprint fibers of the human body still physically
Evolving ? Atoms from the same early primal stew ply

Their way for eons until there present purpose found : one ,
Heat to electric; two, human imprint, a mental sun,
Brain waves at the center of a thought universe which run 
Not only backward but forward toward a cosmic try

To create a Supreme Being in our own image. Earth rendered
Subservient. Desired omnipotent, God was engendered 
Male by decree. With impunity, oppressors remembered
As cruel and debasing, unjust and inhumane, which flies

In the face of humanity. I'm here only by chance,
To do no harm so offspring of my DNA may dance
To the natural rhythms of Mother Earth. They will remember
Me, The Messenger Ancestor, not forced into sleep am I.

Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An OBX Night

Most people vacation at North Carolina's Outer Banks for the sun, sand ,and surf but not me. I enjoyed the starry nights deep jet black with stars so much brighter than found anywhere around the northeast. Even more impressive was the moon rising above the eastern horizon peeking up to then silhouette on the water off in the distance bringing thoughts with its rise. From this experience flowed the following.

  An O. B. X. Night

Way out there, where 
The inky ocean meets
The eastern night sky,
A red sphere silvers
As it lifts from the waves to
Begin its nightly grand arc
Across the heavens 
Bringing moon light
To a sleeping dark planet .

When full, the silvery moon
Gathers up to swell the tide high by
Raising lapping waves above normal .
Does this same moon cycle draw fluids
Up in life forms as it does with water?

Can abnormalities in beasts and humans
Be traced to full moon cycles ?
Are stories bordering on the macabre
A certainty of a full moon's power ?

Do you, as I do, look up on a clear moon lit night and wonder,
While viewing visible craters that depicts a bright faced full moon,
What is this force that causes changes here on Earth ?

A clear night at the Outer Banks allows keen sight .
That, which is keen, is not always a big picture's answer.
Insight that moves beyond the senses, beyond the obvious,
Has more of a chance to capture what we call Spirit sense,
A sixth sense getting us beyond the visible into the great unknown.

When sky is sky, and ocean is what the sky rests on.

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Haiku 61

Haiku 61

A Happy Valley ?
No longer smiles, laughter -
Sad ! "Are We Penn State" ?

An image tarnished,
How many years to clean up ?
Never be the same.

No one person can :
Build a University -
Nor tear good one down !

Nittany Mountain,
Still rises above valley -
Learning must go on.

Man enacts the law,
Man abides or ignores them -
"Wheels Of Justice" act.

Jo'Pa Paterno,
Not bigger than life, we find -
His memory fades.

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, November 14, 2011

Short Of The Mark

Short Of The Mark

Any observer of sports today, since it's so easy to engulf oneself in viewing a sports show on television any day at any time, has to have had similar feelings to mine. I've come to the conclusion that any ball, except maybe a baseball, left short of its sought  distance when launched has little chance to fulfill its intended purpose of a successful advance or creating a score. A basketball shot short of the rim, a golf putt short of the hole, a field goal attempt short of the goal post cross bar; you get the idea, you can think of many more illustrations.

Realizing this fact - efforts left short of their mark have zero chance of success - a perceptive coach, you would think, should urge his players to always err on the side of long when practicing.  A golfer putting would always practice perceiving the ball reaching the cup but if off line passing the cup just a short distance. A basketball coach would press his players to always shoot over the front of the rim of the basket. Long being not wrong, if long, it at least has a chance to succeed, if short, none at all.

Effort works in similar ways. When little extended, chance is success stymied, but when extra effort is given out, success has a real chance to succeed. Intention doesn't cut it, action does. Our World moves ahead because some people are not short on effort. They reach beyond, they pull up from inside themselves an extra measure of effort which, because it does not come up short, gains the results desired.

Ronald C. Downie

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Policy Over Personality

Policy Over Personality

A forgotten lesson in organization surfaced last week at Penn State University. That principal which is often ignored is that all businesses, governmental agencies, all organizations must conduct their affairs based on stated policy rather than on personalities. Too often policy is pushed aside when an individual of commanding authority rises above an adherence to a well thought out policy. Similar to the too big to fail syndrome is this idea of the man being greater than the organization he works for even if, in fact, he started and built the organization. 

When policy is either ignored or bent because of a particular person's importance or power position the very structure of the organization weakens and, in Penn State's case, broke down completely. If the University had a policy of zero tolerance for disclosure which was abridged by the school and the athletic department because Coach Paterno was involved, personality trumped policy. If the school took into account the the Division 1 football wins record looked at by fans and pundits for the last few years and put off disclosure because of it that certainly would be personality trumping policy.

Policy must always come out ahead of personally if the wheels of society are to continue turning properly. Constancy is rooted in policy which is the stated procedure independent of who is directing it and transcends particular individuals as they pass through the organization. Policy is timeless if it was well thought out and universal in its construct. Policy becomes the very backbone of any desirable organization that is worth its weight. A great university should have adhered to its stated policy and, if it had, Penn State would still be looking to advance a winning record beyond catching.

Ronald C. Downie


Saturday, November 12, 2011



"About mid-calf ," the Doctor said ,
"That's if the foot won't heal properly."
I said, "Let's give it some more time, Doc."
When reality sets in , it gets one thinking .

Who were those boys: shorts, but no shirts,
Barefooted, one deep olive bronze with 
Jet black hair, and an ever youthful smile .
The other, thin, blond, fair, somewhat older ?

Jack, Bill, and me - A Band Of Brothers-
Later joined by Linwood and Bruce . We
Enjoyed barefoot summers climbing trees
And rocks in East Park, wetting in the dam.

A half mile down we caught the school bus
For Lower Pottsgrove Elementary School .
Swings, merry go round, base ball fields,
There education began it's life long roll .

Walked everywhere, caddied, played every
Game known, flopped badly at baseball,
Captained football, put the shot, threw the discus,
Was Penn State's freshman starting right guard .

Now I have a wheelchair, walker, a cane,
A hospital bed and bedside commode .
"Non-weight bearing," the Doctor warned .
Once so strong, what for? It's all gone .

Swamp Hogs, then basketball champs, Tony Z's,
Two games a night, I jumped and I ran,
I worked all day, played all night . I walked,
Knew no pain, an obstacle never stopped me . 

Business and work- work and business, no end,
No doctor, no diet, no checks, no balances .
My life style embraced no moderation .
It is today, stupid ! Just plod on and let 

Tomorrow care for it's own damed self .
Wrong ! I was wrong ! Independence
May be wonderful, but may not be wise .
Walk ? Well, my life has caught up with me .

    Ronald C . Downie 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Joe Jo'Pa Paterno

Joe Jo'Pa Paterno

Of the few dozen or so other local residents who have had direct contact with Coach Paterno my contact goes back to 1953, the year I graduated Pottstown High School. I entered Penn State College (it was not a University yet ) in September of '53 and tried out for freshman football as a walk-on making the squad. Joe was young looking - seven plus years my senior, me 18, he, 25/26 years old- the quarterback coach under head coach, Rip Engle. 

The quite young looking Paterno was a force on the practice field and players sensed the close relationship between Rip Engle and his trusted assistant. Paterno knew each and every player as if he recruited them all. Many times he even addressed lowly me, a lineman pulling guard, because the freshman ran plays of the opposing team against the first team at the beginning of the week which was part of the practice session Joe oversaw.

I last spoke to Joe Paterno in the early 1970's at a Boosters Club picnic in Reading, Pa. I have been an ardent Penn State fan all my life even though my personal football experience predated Jo'Pa's ascendence to head coach. His extremely long tenure as head coach seems to have allowed the creep of absolutism into the power thread of authority blurring the lines between University and football. This blurring of authority may truly reflect the mood of the general public where our once heralded Halls Of Higher Education have taken a back seat to vaunted university sports programs.

By gaining a larger than life image on a national scene, I do not think, served Joe well. He, as most authoritarians in history, chose an image over reality. Joe's was, that an image of a sport being greater than the lives of young adolescents who were reported being abused. Coverup always seems to trip up people who chose this path because their vision is blurred from some element similar to that of zealotry. 

Joe Jo'Pa Paterno will not outlive his demise as he descends from his throne. I would hope to think the Paterno I knew would have acted differently. Maybe higher education will come out of this a winner, although the price paid by human sacrifice can not be calculated, the university system may start a critical evaluation to put sports in its proper place.

Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lia Alexandra Downie

Lia Alexandra Downie

Her toes wiggled deep down in Gulf's fine sand,
Wet is her salted blond hair, oiled skin tanned;
She faces west at the nod of day, sun's scanned
Far off, ribboning horizon's west rim, so, so grand.

Half under-half out, off shore of tides strong pull,
Dolphins dip and rise in rhythm to ways of waves,
Not dependent on prevailing shore winds that saves
Seaman who tack north and south, billowed sails full.

Birds aloft flocking, they swoop catching the ground,
Running, pecking, scouring, ahead of retiring waves.
Walkers, joggers pass review, each their own ways,
Some know a perfect shell's there, their head's down.

Returning home, rounding the bend, house bright,
Comfort is always from seeing fruits of one's sight.
Flowers, their petals burst with color, bedded right,
Groomed, trimmed, organized for every day's light.

You, Daughter Lia, are that person we think about
Twelve hundred miles away, due south. Independent,
A can doer, resolved in your own ability, so resilient
That you are looked on with admiration, speak out.

All of lesser ability need a person to look up to :
Someone who can hold the ship steady in a storm,
Who can listen, cut out the chaff, return to norm.
Whether you accept it or not, the anointed is you.

With Love ,
Mom and Dad

Happy Birthday poem from Dad

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Haiku 60

Haiku 60

Eagles double down,
Join in baseball Phillies woes -
Neither win big games.

Returning - the foot
Is back in college football -
LSU Tigers.

Weather's wonderful,
Sun breaks the cold, bleak, drawn days -
Indian Summer.

Front porch beckons me,
Hanging baskets down, pots in -
Rocker in motion.

Oaks retain their leaves,
Some may hold until Spring time -
Makes a nice contrast.

I long for Spring bulbs,
Tulips, daffodils, crocus -
Beauty can not hide.

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Stone, The Stone

The Stone - The Stone*

Hone yourself a sharp mental edge
Lest politicians ply their wares.
Silent with skill they drive a wedge
Dividing life into cares and fears.

"Care, yes care, I care for you."
Tongue cheeked message driven,
Script weak, thin, seen clear through.
Be self driven, fall not to speeches given.

"Fear, not me , fear the other guy."
"Believe me , I am not conceited."
Through lips drawn tight of teethe sly,
Bravado loud, dishonest call repeated.

Stone, the stone apply it often
When mind at rest in dullness creeps.
In apathy's folly the robber's hidden,
Citizens engaged, informed, America seeks.

The stone, the stone apply it often,
Hone yourself a sharp mental edge. 

         Ronald C . Downie 

*One of the more important tools of early America was a unique looking device, a household need and especially a farmstead requirement, that was the scythe. The scythe was the premier grass, weed,  grain, and hay cutting tool with about a three foot long curved metal cutting blade about three inches wide with a sharpened leading edge. Keeping the edge sharp was accomplished by a stone, a graphite like abrasive six inch long stone stick, held in one hand at an angle to the cutting edge and vigorously run back and forth to sharpen the blade's cutting edge. Scythes were very efficient when properly used and craftily sharpened. The stone was the key to making the scythe work so well and it allowed early America's life to be more livable.

Monday, November 7, 2011

On A Long Night's Activity

On A long Night's Activity

When, in the wake of dreams unfulfilled,
Looking back, reaching for mind's set then,
Stirring hidden hollows, hiding strong willed
Thoughts usually left for deep night's, amen :

Then, with tossing and turning, sweat arrives
From body heat captured by layers of covers,
Deepened sleep slacks as the mind's eye drives
Piercing nerve endings toward thoughts of others :

And then, over and over we relive day's events,
Real or are they derived of fiction or of facts ? 
A deep night's sleep would have provided vents
For the escape from rewind or rewrite of acts.

Into this netherworld of super active long days
Take deep breaths, relax, mellow, chill out plays.

Ronald C. Downie
A Sonnet

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mark Twain

Mark Twain

The occupying 99%errs sorely need a modern day Mark Twain to vocalize their message in a way Twain did in his time which ignited the complacent masses into action. The United States in the late eighteen hundreds was in a financial debacle not unlike ours of today. Writer, lecturer, humorist, and the Common Man's philosopher, Mark Twain, delivered a universal message still on target for today's time.

He remarked rhetorically about the ethos of the age people were then living through, " What is the chief end of Man ?  It was to get rich.  In what way ? Dishonestly if we can;  honestly if we must."   

Mark Twain saw through the frailties of us human beings in a time what was then called "The Gilded Age". Periods of time get tagged by descriptive names, the actors of the times fade and die off, but the theater of life stages only so many themes the human animal will experience which gets expressed in the plays it produces. 

I'd love to be a 1%err but I wasn't dealt the proper hand just as about anyone reading this did not catch a Royal Flush either. As a society we owe those activists among us, the 99%errs of "Occupy Wall Street", who bring attention to the inequalities of how money is distributed in, not only in our country, but in the whole World. These "Occupiers" do for me what I'm incapable of doing for myself at this stage of my life. Whether you like it or not, neither of us are Mark Twain's; but both Twain and the 99%errs will be subjects of history, again neither you nor I will be so honored.

Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Haiku 59

Haiku 59

David and Charles Koch,
Cain's brothers - other mother -
Herman sings clearly.

Herman be Herman,
Cain mutiny resurrects -
Iowa not sea.

Herman be Herman,
Self inflicted wounds no sweat -
Strange dude, a quick draw.

Drip, drip, drip, no stop,
Each day Herman swings in wind -
Blood letting goes slow.

Money writes music,
Big bucks grab batons and lead -
Tune often sour.

Disgust comes slowly,
Congress despised by many,
Old bulls must go home !

Ronald C. Downie

Friday, November 4, 2011

History Is Always With Us

History Is Always With Us

Having lately become enamored with World History, I am amazed on how life's themes remain essentially the same, even though, the characters change just as their generations faded away. What is that saying often quoted ? Something like, if we refuse to learn from the past, we are prone to repeat it.

The sad irony of the worst characters who governed huge portions of the ancient world is that we can imagine many debaters on today's stages are just as inept as those fallen characters of old. Can you imagine some of these debaters being "The Leader Of The Free World" or giving a coherent policy speech to the nation which has whole world implications. I shutter ! 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What We Don't Know, Yes, Can Hurt Us

What we don't know, yes, can hurt us.

If we picture a country that has : universal health care for its citizens, many paid holidays for workers, many paid weeks of vacation for those workers, and, above all that, the average worker's hourly rate of pay was $49.00 an hour, where on the World's scale of fiscal responsibility would you expect this country to fall ?

Most likely you, like me, would be wrong if we thought a country so described would be a basket case.

Germany, that dynamic industrial and financial engine powering The European Union, is the country pictured above. Yes, Germany, is the country being asked to bale out the economic wasteland which surrounds her and is a country which continues to build a middle class of upwardly mobile happy citizens.

Many of our Nation's Legislators fall into the abyss carved deep by those to the right and, especially, the far right who claim that beating down labor while enriching the effluent is in our country's best interest. To these, ignorance is bliss. The World needs more Germany's rather than, say, Greece or Italy or Spain's.

Put that stake, once and for all, through the heart of "trickle down economics" that worn out doctrine discredited by real examples of fiscal sanity. Learn to understand that the vastly increasing disparity between average worker's pay and CEO's pay can not continue to broaden. 

We can only capture tomorrow by understanding yesterday and working today with the knowledge we have acquired which allows wisdom to surface. It is through the use of wisdom that ordinary people can make extraordinary advances. 

Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Eyes To Heaven

     Eyes To Heaven 

Long an observer of Berks County skies
From west wondered what ruckus implies .
Could children's chatter, playground's gleeful cries,
Be so close to hear though not seen by my eyes ?

Goose and gander, Canadians, across the pond
Shallow water succulent greens they are fond.
Muskrats pull grasses in spring as they respond.
These ponds come alive as my private neutron.

Quickly I turned to the sounds from the west,
An angled V gaggle with song from their chest.
Lost count at thirty, do they circle for rest ?
No, not today, they won't land here to nest.

But why do they sound so different from norm ?
Snow Geese who were off course by a storm.
Surely I've seen a lone Snow Goose forlorn,
But a pure white gaggle's sharp V was their form.

That surprised me in both sight and sounds.
Around us - Nature - in awe she abounds.
Gone are the Snow Geese, still Blue Birds around.
My eyes to the heavens, my heart's in the ground.

   Ronald C .Downie  

Tuesday, November 1, 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