Saturday, June 30, 2012

I Love A Parade

"I Love A Parade"

Late morning, long after sunrise lights the east,
Necks craning, the gathered peer up High street,
"Must have started, when will we see the lights?"
Every year brings a similar anticipation treat.

Police cars, lights actively rotating, lead
As spectator's expectation comes into view.
Slowly the cars carrying Chiefs and Captains
Roll at their lead pace. Parade's started true.

Patriotism and flowers with flags and music, 
Join the deep rhythm of heel/toe marching
In straight lines, as our service men and women 
Parade down High Street, uniformed backs arching.

Waiting, bands and pipers, military vehicles pass
To hands clapping in gratitude for their service,
Then a bevy of classic cars, there's yellow bikes,
And a grouping of motorcycles. Promoter's purpose

To satisfy all people by expressing their interests.
Beautiful as ever the Queen and her lovely court,
Bathed in sunshine, are perched high in convertibles.
Their's is the future accompanied by a male escort.

Like ants scurrying for a meal, volunteers work 
The crowd for donations to fill collection buckets.
Vehicles, Fire Engines, shinning and grand, drivers
And volunteers are a Town's invaluable nuggets.

Year after year organizers give of their time
To bring smiles to faces both of young and old.
Curb lines filled with overflowing happy crowds,
Tell how good parades of old were. Stories told.

"I Love A Parade", the excitement of a crowd,
The music, the colors, the hubbub, the pageantry,
Humans becoming alive by expressing themselves.
I need a hat, where's that bucket for my ante ?

Independence Day, July 4, 1776 , Declaration Of
Independence signed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
We observe with parades, picnics, and fireworks
But we must never forget the breadth of Sylvania. 

"I Love A Parade !"

Ronald C. Downie

Dedicated to daughter, Heather Downie Kurtz, born on July 4.

Monday, June 25, 2012

To War As Boys -WW2-

To War As Boys -WW2-

Broadly speaking, the story teller sighs,
Before laying out his theme's apt reply.
In a small town it's tough not knowing guys
Who'll make a difference with their goodbye.

Off in swarms on trains, they to war so soon.
Hardly roughed on chin, their pompadours wait
Floating to the cutting floor, shave by noon.
Marching, left-right, straighten the lines, eyes right.

To war as boys, their return home as men
Knowing unthinkable things, mums the word,
Until authors seek them out, use their pen.
Some relate, some not, some true, some absurd.

Effecting maturity, a war's theme,
Discounts beauty found in "The Golden Mean".

Ronald C. Downie
Set in English Sonnet form

Friday, June 22, 2012

Air Conditioning 101

Air Conditioning 101

Increasingly, if I am any indicator,
Us " Oldsters " anymore look backward 
Rather than forward, to find out that 
The past mollifies stress and pain
Through the passage of time and
Puts a pleasurable gilding on memories :
Real or imagined, artful or drab,
Even long forgotten wry old wishes .
Up on the three storied roof of Barker's barn,
Formerly known to us as the Wade Farm,
I cut my teeth high up, a twelve year old's fright.
No prior experience, did Mom and Dad know ?
A bucket of barn red paint, a four inch wide brush,
A simple cloths line safety tie off rope, and
The the rickety, rung missing, extension ladder.

You've seen raised seam barn roofs many times,
But have you felt the sun's unrelenting 
Reflection of vapored, scorching, oppressive
Heat that burns through leather gloves ?
Tin roofs have a cruel way of accepting paint.
How much paint was on me, on the roof ?

The Barkers were Mennonites , in dress at least.
They gave me my first lesson in air conditioning.
I came to work there while staying with my 
Father's parents, Wee Annie and Gran'Pa Downie,
As were fondly known by Houck Road neighbors.
As usual, mine a working vacation, no complaints.
I didn't wear a hat, I didn't know I'd be on a roof.
My employer, Barker, gave me an old used straw hat
To keep the harsh sun rays directly off my head.
After lunch we all realized how hot it really was
Mr.Barker took me to the garden patch. There he 
Pulled off a large, thick outer leaf of a cabbage 
And handed it to me."Stuff this leaf inside your 
Hat, let me know if this doesn't help the heat."

Air Conditioning 101 was a huge success. Try it.
     Ronald C . Downie 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Wanted :

Boarder collies, not docile sheep,
Herders, not the herded ;

Posses, not the hotly pursued, 
Runners after, rather than runners from ;

Leaders, not meek followers,
Out front, instead of holders back ;

Lookers in the box, not lookers out,
Progressives, not status quo duds ;

Thinkers, not dull song hummers,
Eureka makers, rather than iTuners ;

Winners, not sap faced losers,
Blue ribbon receivers, instead of also rans ;

You, not the guy behind the tree,
A reader of this stuff, not comic book fanatics.

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, June 18, 2012

Chicken and Egg

Chicken and Egg

Three score years plus seventeen I've been a father on this planet even though I had no planning nor training for this august assignment. Rutting early in life's calendar pays large dividends to the planets population but does little for the resulting offspring's secure emotional introduction into life's pageantry. In spite of immature parents, children, by in large, make it successfully into adulthood and become parents in their own right. Yes, the Earth's limited resources will be further depleted as more and more population arrives to demand their God given slice of terra firma.

Here now, children must be wondering, what's going on in this place I've been born into ? I did good in school, but, there are no jobs for me to get so I can get started on my own. My parents told me, in our family, every generation did better than the last one. What's wrong with me ? What did I do to break the tradition ? 

Both contender and sitting president lament the lack of good jobs as they travel the country seeking voter's acceptance. Each has a plan, Romney wants private companies to hire more workers ; Obama wants congress to implement an infrastructure bill which will not only put people to work but in doing so will refurbish the countries crumbling roads and bridges, railroads and canals, our airports and ports, and the country's aged sewer and water systems.

I know the country is "going to hell in a hand basket" as the old Duchies would say. I just look at the decay festering in our towns and in our cities and I imagine this extent magnified in places less fortunate than we are experiencing. It is hard to ride out into the country and not come upon a road closed sign telling of a century old bridge needing replacement. The sad fact is they are not being replaced because of financial restraints on counties. A passed infrastructure bill could remedy this.

Mitt Romney's plan seems reasonable on the surface until inspected more closely. Ask yourself, why would a company hire more workers to make more goods to sell at what price to customers who have no extra money to spend ? It's the old "Chicken and Egg" conundrum, which comes first ? Excess demand has always been the driver behind increased production.
Would Mitt have government stimulate production so new workers could be hired even though newly manufactured products wouldn't be immediately sold and would just flow into inventory. Lag time, the time necessary to balance a marketable inventory with continued production, is endemic to the successful operation of the manufacturing industry. 

Under financial duress newly hired workers, I doubt, would have deposable income to buy "widgets" for some time after they get a job. Paying off overdue bills seems a more urgent use of new found monies.
Somehow the pump must get primed, if not by government, maybe then from Mitt's 1%'s showing off their newly found patriotism. 

 "We The People" are caught in the cross hairs of history dammed if politicians don't, damned if they do. A few decades ago Derek Mahon wrote in his poem, America Deserta, an image of our possible future :

"Not long from barbarism to decadence, not far
from liberal republic to defoliant empire
and thence to entropy ; not long before
the great money scam begins its long decline
to pot-holed roads and unfinished construction sites,
as in the dark ages a few scattered lights -"

This question begs : Under which presidential contender is this vision more likely to come to fruition ? 

Ronald C. Downie

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Past Is Knowledge ; Future, Wisdom

Past Is Knowledge ; Future, Wisdom

Water, like thought, calms when slowed
Into deep pools at cool quiet depths
Where mud and murk bottom settles
To clear the liquid for it's final trip .

Thought, if not allowed to calm
And settle out busy nonessential 
Clutter that keeps the mental stream
Clean, finds no clear ideas will surface .

As water makes it's long journey 
To the sea, it encounters swiftly
Moving rapids and falls that roar
Before it again pools and calms .

So too, the mind's mental travel path
Must shoot the turbulences of doubt,
Navigate trouble, and evil, and fear,
Each cascading down until calm calms.

Ever since the early dawning of time
When water appeared on the earth,
It adapted to Earth's Natural Laws :
Repeat, repeat, over and over, repeat.

In his time, upright man found a force
Far beyond his physical prowess, when
The vast utter strength of his mental
Ability raised him above common beasts.

The sun, the moon, stars, earth, water,
The air, the eagle, fire, wind, and rain - 
Man would experience and then worship.
But, as with water, strong storms disturb,

Alters flows, and interrupts water's calm;
Quite common with Nature's Earthly way.
But thinking man dreams about the future
Thus he soon becomes uncertainty's victim.

The past is knowledge, the future, wisdom.
And through time knowledge accumulates,
But wisdom is fickle, and the needed spark
Not timely, so wisdom has to be nurtured.

Water flows everywhere to the very
Same Laws Of Gravity, while thought,
Not contained within our physical world,
Flows in a stream we all seek to posses.

Ronald C . Downie   

Friday, June 15, 2012

When I Tremble

When I Tremble

When I tremble under weight of reason
Built on strong earth pillars sunk hard rock deep.
I see a ship under sail in season,
Charting tight courses, me rocking to sleep.

A land lubber, I'm anchored to the Earth,
Have realized value of both sea and land
Beyond dreamt horizons cloaked in rough surf.
I envision Man's purpose as he planned.

Captains sail seas, generals rule the soil,
But, whose money's bet on the lost teachers
Who taught boarding also "Blood, Sweat, and Toil"?
Man's demons follow after lust's seekers.

Since, painting on cave wall days, Man's dark pasts
Are bathed in horror, Almighty's death masks.

Ronald C. Downie
In English sonnet form

Thursday, June 14, 2012

When Are We Going To Get There

When Are We Going To Get There ?   

Friends circle around the camp fire :

Lengths of downed trees flame within
The blackened iron fire ring where
Aged wood burns, wafting smoke 
To chimney up through the high
Canopy of tall pines .

Burning wood's cave ageless aroma
Escapes flames of carbon as hues 
Of white and blue, also shades
Of orange and red, that join crackling ,
Popping gases released finally from
Spent embers to seek again the 
Chemistry of union .

Before molecules, pre- atom, both ash and gas 
Were big banged into primordial birth
As quarks - positive and negative - then
Chaining over and over, again and again ,
Linking for how many times, maybe into ,
Even my own DNA .

A child sees a journey as a destination, as an ending,
" When are we going to get there ? "

But force and matter, not knowing beginning 
Or able to see an end, journey to connect 
Into granite, or possibly, into you and either by
Magma or by fire, they are released as
Ooze or as ash to again travel .

Stalking silently within me, multiplying 
And dividing, oblivious to the demands
For long life and old age, stealth cells , 
The aggressive minority demanding their
Pound of flesh cheat in line, as they become
The new order .

Downed trees or me makes no difference
To fire's finality of form .

I am, as is a child, as is ash to " there",
Release is to my continued journey .

Giving up their colors embers cool and
Die away, on the breeze ash drifts ,
There into darkness, depart friends .

   Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, June 13, 2012



Plundering for energy
Greed extracts with lust
Earth's horrid demons,
Let loose...extinction ?

Faint from emissions,
Clear skies polluted
From gross bunker bile
Belched aloft as vapor :
Raising Planet's temperature,
Clouding Earth's atmosphere,
Melting every ancient ice cap,
Deserts form from fertile lands.

Forests wilt and whither 
Back they must retreat
To once much colder zones,
If unable, be forever gone.
Rising waters lap over top
Engineered built higher dykes
To tame rising, angry seas
Enraged by awful, wrecking storms.

Dreamer's fond lost memories:
Azure colored embracing skies,
Soft green slopes covered of moss,
Rainbow colors pastel in flowers,
Winter's whiteness, Spring's rebirth,
Summer's warmth, Autumn's harvest.

But,"We Pledge Allegiance...",
Sing,"America The Beautiful",
Love high performance automobiles 
Which speed beyond set limits,
Desire every darn device devised,
We worship the arrogance of excess:
With 4% of World's population
We consume 20% of World's energy.

Is our future very pretty ? Or,
Are we to be like lowly Frogs
Placed in pot of cold water
Brought up to a rolling boil ?
Will we stew slowly, swimming
Happily in the warming water
Until voiceless, then croak ?
What will be our cooking time ?
Just how long can we last ?
Frogs, Frogs, you and me, Frogs.

Jump! Jump! Get out of that pot !
Holler! Holler! Don't, no, do not croak!
Honor a basic, primary oath -
  "First - Do No Harm -"
Be a doctor to the Earth
     "Do No Harm !"

     Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pox On Our Town

Pox On Our Town

A plague has descended on Pottstown. Its symptoms can be tracked by "For Sale" signs whose lettering is fading from being posted so very long. This type of a malady take a long time to become a full blown plague which has or will touch all property owners in the town.

For example : Up my street an elderly widow recently passed away and her estate just put her house up for sale. They listed the well appointed house with a new roof, a large rear sunroom, three bedrooms, on a pleasant lot in the North End for $129,900.00. I imagine that's close to the appraised value. But, when the sales agent was asked by me, "What would this house be listed for if it were situated in Limerick or Collegeville ?" His reply was, 
"Up to, maybe, $100,000.00 more." " Why ?" I asked.

He gave me that puzzled look while telling me about the ills of properties with Pottstown addresses. School tax was the biggest factor, then the reputation of the town, on and he went with negatives even though he is an investor in rental properties here himself. The only way to make out owning a property in Pottstown, he advised, was to be a landlord. 

We have lived in our home since 1974 which is 38 years. We've raised three children here. I had hoped to die while still living here. One time our house was worth upwards to $200,000.00 but is now less than three quarters that, probably much less. It's not the weight of the bales of straw which broke the camel's back but it was the weight of the final strand of straw which did the camel in when added to the load.

It is impossible to be on a limited retirement income and still own a home in Pottstown. The power to tax property is the virus propelling the plague which has demeaned our town. 

Kind of like the feelings those in the 1940's European ghettos had when they were afraid to speak out as the Gestapo rounded up certain groups to be shipped off to concentration camps. Finally, then, they came for those who had remained silent and as they were being herded away they looked around for someone to speak on their behalf and, low and behold, no one else was left to speak for them. 

Our State Legislators have, in my mind, failed us. As a whole, they slop at the trough of special interests pandering to the desires of those who profit from inaction, the status quo. For too long, we, including me, have been silent while those who did speak out were marginalized and silenced. The field of grain is planted that will grow the stalks which could be that last straw which could break your back just like mine is fractured.

Who speaks for us now ? Best you raise your voices loudly and clearly while you still can. Next they will be coming for you !

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, June 11, 2012

Of Yankee Stock This Admiral

Loosing another Borough Manager, Jason Bobst, shortly brings to my mind one of our past managers who left a large imprint on our town. At his retirement dinner I read the following poem which I wrote for the occasion to the large audience wishing him well. Bob resides near Washington, DC. and returns to Pottstown from time to time.

 Of Yankee Stock This Admiral

Rod steel drawn, point hammered sharp
To pierce the heart of the harvest crop
By keen eyed males strong in muscle tone,
Who can thrust the spear, drive it home.

Jones left New England's warriors as a youth
For a southern education to learn the truth,
That the Earth is covered mostly in water .
"To sea in ships", Bob obeyed passion's order.

"Red at night is a sailor's delight."

Man is drawn and hammered like tempered steel,
While a ship on course is a function of its wheel.
Tempered from birth, Bob Jones born of Yankee stock,
Charts in hand, his ships will stay safely off the rock.

"Red in the morning is a sailor's warning."

That rust belt trilogy: Disinvestment, Decline, and Debt,
Could not deter a tour in Pottstown for this retired Vet.
Taking command, charting a new course, Jones took over the wheel,
Shirting shoals he found favorable currents, Bob's will-steel.

Pottstown is safely in its harbor, new charts point the way.
All assembled here ,Thank You Bob Jones, on this December day.

May all your evenings be bathed in a comforting reddish hue,
And may all your mornings be bright, may the Sun shine true.

  Ronald C. Downie
  December 29,2002

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Connor James Kurtz Upon Graduation

Connor Upon Graduation
Connor James Kurtz

Trumping reality finds the extraordinary
Which blazes hidden trails, uncovers new.
You've shown the knack for trail blazing
Capturing imaginations beyond the pale. 

Out from under the normal you'll enter
A special form that only education gives.
You're challenge is to blaze a trail so
Bright everyone knows that it's Connor's.

Realizing that : it's not always the strongest,
The fastest, or more artistic who prevails; but,
Many times it is that person who really thinks 
He can grab the brass ring and by leading, excels.

Your journey is merely getting started toward
A goal you've aspired for for a long, long time.
You will succeed if you acknowledge humility,
Express yourself succinctly while being honest.

We pray you always follow your muse.
We pray you always gather yourself.
We pray you take setback then move on.
We pray you remain the man you've become.

With Love and Hope !
Nanny & Pop Pop

Friday, June 8, 2012

Hope's Future

 Hope's Future

My wife, Connie, and I proudly announce the graduation this spring of three grandchildren : 

-Casey Elaine Downie, a former Hill School graduate,
graduated from Franklin and Marshall College (F&M), Lancaster, Pa.
-Evan Alexander Downie, Casey's brother, graduated from Pottstown High School. He will attend college at Gwynedd Mercy College in the fall.
-Connor James Kurtz graduated from Daniel Boone High School. Connor received name recognition when he was elected as a School Board member late last year becoming the youngest member serving in the state. He will attend college in Washington, DC. in the fall.

Hope has a future in how adaptive the young treat what this World has in store for them. No longer is  normal the World my generation grew up in. The warm fuzzy blanket of knowing my generation would do better than my parents did no longer seems to be the case today. Steeled, as we were, by the Great Depression sandwiched between two World Wars our energies were channeled to build and rebuild our country first the rest of the planet when we finished at home. Completing the work we anticipated fizzled out as heavy manufacturing moved overseas and China began showing its muscle. 

Sadly, decade after decade, all over Asia, the Persian Gulf, now Northern Africa conflicts stir the militants of the World and bankrupts it in the process. The United States acting as sherif to the World spends borrowed money to send armies to patrol each hot spot in hostile countries. 

Somehow our young must grapple with the new normal, that our country which once produced what the World wanted, is now a financial casino betting borrowed money on Ponzi schemes guaranteed by tax payer dollars. A house of cards has little chance to remain standing. 

My generation viewed our place in the World from the history we learned. The strength of a cowboy, of a trapper, a Paul Bunion logger, a John Henry hammering in spikes on the railroad all were heroes. Then came the GI showing off our military might.

What is the image today ? Is it of suits in a board room or at cocktail parties or aboard some posh yacht ? Is sweat in the current equation or smoke and steam vapor ? 

Hope must have a basis in fact. So, in my mind, the young must read and learn the history of our nation with a new paradigm in mind. Returning to my time is not the answer, but understanding the human principles behind our history will continue no matter what generation is in charge now. Hope, unlike fear, rests eternal.

Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Evan Alexander Downie Upon Graduation

Evan upon Graduation
Evan Alexander Downie

Discovery leads to the unknown
Capturing human advancement.
Learning is the backbone of 
Knowledge allowing discovery.

You are leaving your first
Phase of organized learning.
Your own advancement will be
Determined by personal discovery.

Never underestimate yourself :
Press forward, be resolute,
Take chances, be honest,
Make advancement your goal.

Time is on your side if you
Use it wisely for betterment. 
Life is best lived in loving 
Relations so wisely choose them.

The World is out there waiting
For a young man just like you.
Pick it like a ripe, juicy apple
And savior it for a long, long life.

With Love And Hope !
Nanny & Pop Pop

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Seize The Day

Seize The Day

When we look back while dreaming of the future
A fuzzy pallor dims images shy of real recognition.
Anticipated triumph, bright and clear, finds torture
Its antecedent, as wishful thoughts spur conviction. 

Then, by shaking off the strings of attachment,
We become caught up in time, real colors not hues.
Purpose fills voids, productive energy, commitment
Which has a chance to make a difference as muse.

And then, born of a dream, a path gains illumination 
From the beacon within you clearly lighting the way.
Character steps forth from a haze in full realization,
When a pathway is lighted, you must seize the day.

Unwittingly, our's is a struggle for a balanced life,
While pressing ahead, heeding past, shunning strife. 

Ronald C. Downie
An English Sonnet

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Haiku 82

Haiku 82

Women are equal, 
For same work should get same pay -
Crazy if denied.

British Queen Supreme,
Stiff upper lip pageantry -
Chills Man's arrogance.

Ever wonder why
The Earth is called Mother ?
She's the care giver.

Topple status quo,
Believe in that which can be -
Refute what's normal.

We're born of women,
Raised by them and then nurtured -
Where is Man's honor ?

From trust, we believe,
From good deeds we will succeed -
Life is a process.

Ronald C. Downie
Haiku : 3 lines, 17 syllables, 5,7,5 each

Monday, June 4, 2012



Memory is blurred colored lead windows
Life peers through,

Not bright stained glass pieces placed
In view of the pew ;

Artful are the beliefs there told to us
By a few,

Figments of the mind, when not true,
Are to be dreamt anew.

Ronald C. Downie

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Death's Nemesis Is In Dying

Death's Nemesis Is In Dying

Burdened within weighted hearts and minds,
Crushed under twenty Centuries of fear;
Is Death culprit, or, is it in dying
That fear's beyond reason which curls your toes ?

As a state of mind, Death, is no more than
That of an embryo not viable,
Or of the mind, just post awakened life.
Dying, though, paints a harsh reason for fear.

Ultimately inevitable
Is that state of Death cursed on each of us.
Insidiously deceptive's dying,
Hidden, multi staged, trudging on head strong.

Strokes, heart attacks, cancer, accidents, age
All unregulated, tipping icebergs.
Born, growing for half life, and then dying
For the second half life until the end.

Timing : time is the arbiter of life !
The internal workings of a body
Rusted and sluggish from abuse matters
On how and how long that flesh and bones lasts.

It is not the amount of years one's lived,
But, it's the amount of living one's packed
Into the years spent on our Mother Earth.
Quality trumps quantity every time.

"the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Still rings in my ears from early boyhood.
President Roosevelt addressed us all 
Putting idea of fear in perspective.

From the first day of birth Death is on call,
But when it comes, that could be up to you.
Healthy living, moderation, good luck
All play their part in your own "Book Of Life".

Ronald C. Downie

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Case For Action

A Case For Action

  In the long history of Man upheaval happened often. Many were very bloody as each side shouldered their weapon of choice : a broad axe, a spear, a lance, a pitch fork, but mostly a gun. Neither Gandhi, nor King, nor Jesus chose any of these weapons and their results seem much more lasting than violent one's.
   Pottstown also needs to shoulder its weapon of choice and I contend that the weapon be a long handled broom accompanied with a sturdy dust pan and a hefty trash bag. Only an army of sweepers with their boots on the ground can make this sow's ear into a silk purse. 
   The real test of the soul of a town is not in it's downtown main street or it's prime residential neighborhoods but it is found in how the condition of it's worst allies are kept. If they are relatively clean and fairly well maintained you can bet the main, highly visible areas of the town will also be clean. Once upon a time, Pottstown was that way, not from an army of cleaners, but from each and every household being prideful masters of their own domain. Maybe they didn't own the property they lived at but they took pride in the property they lived in. Pride is always an exercise in self worth and fulfillment, traits lost in our race to the bottom of the world we find ourselves in today.
   It will be a tough campaign in the war to take Pottstown back from the entrenched profiteers who treat our town as a throwaway place. It will be extra tough cleaning up after them when they are cleaned out of our town, but it will be worth it. 
Shoulder your brooms, fall in, the spring offensive is readying a battle plan to mount an offensive which needs all able bodies on board.

Ronald C. Downie