Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Case For Action - Spring Again -

A Case For Action - Spring Again -

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. 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

Monday, April 29, 2013

Changing Drivers

Changing Drivers

Into the emancipation of thought,
Innocently born, clambering escape
From the drudgeries of ordinary

People, an exceptional person
Emerges through ingenuity and
Spunk to become a public leader.

But the crucible holding their future
Spills, from time to time its holdings
Onto written pages, seers construct.

Fiction or oracle must pass inspection
Of those of inquisitive minds and such
Feelings that poetry or prose reveals.

The drumming which holds the beat,
The strings that arc to heaven's door,
The woodwinds which carries the tune,

The voices that peel away at sadness
Are pent up in a discordant population
Struggling for their chance at survival.

To them, nothing rises to challenge
A way of life long lived, well satisfied,
Tempered by experience, uncontested.

Miracle of the mind forgotten, ordinary
Life forces decisions to be crudely made,
Unexamined, rather than knowledge based.

Leaders must weave their way through clutter
Left behind in the wake of earlier disciples.
Is pandering to get reelected a baton to pass on,

Or, for the better good of all, a banner's made ?
Needed, exceptional people, those who will grasp
The reins, control the team, then change drivers.

Ronald C. Downie

Sunday, April 28, 2013

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 behind reasons 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.

It's time, time is the arbiter of life !
The internal workings of a body
Rusted and sluggish from abuse matters
On how, and how long, will flesh and bones last.

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 ideas 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

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Only Knowledge

Only Knowledge

When, looking into the mirror of hope
I find far too many so deep in despair
Who willingly slough off a need to cope,
Leaving them vulnerable, requiring care :

Will it be an epiphany that grabs the scene ?
Without something like that, what's then ?
Do spots disappear, stripes fade, does fat lien ?
From nagging disappointments, hope comes when ?

Realizing a personal attitude becomes the key
To unlocking the potential energy pent up now
Awaiting release. Learning wisdom's wise old plea,
"Only knowledge sets Man free", showing him how.

History records, rewrites episodes sad or proud ;
While shunning facts, destiny floats on as a cloud.

Ronald C. Downie

Friday, April 26, 2013

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 them, every one,"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

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Stars & Stripes

Stars & Stripes

First star showing I'm alive
Was posted in year, 1935.

Tartan threads grow the field
Accepting stars of yearly yield.

Stripes are custom, long and lean,
Marking vision's a yearly scheme.

But my banner's incomplete,
I write to people, I'll never meet ;

Do I really write for all of them :
The strong women, thoughtful men ?

But for myself, a rhyme is sought,
No meter's found to further my plot,

It is only by chance or is it a struggle
That word by word grows my puzzle.

Somewhere there's another Plowman's Bard
Walking the furrow's straight, deep, and hard.

He tramps God's Earth in want of nourishment ;
His mind's at work for destiny's encouragement.

One is so boldly driven for its benefactors ;
Other, dreams of clouds, as if they're actors.

Lasting the longest, beyond a generation,
Some build a society, some feed a nation.

Who said, "Man can't live by bread alone."
We think of dreamers where ever they roam.

Poets subsist on a sparse spartan menu ;
They write words for all the World to view.

So soon, "I'll lay me down for a long night's sleep".
Not knowing, if any words my readers will keep.

But that can't drive my lust to keep on writing ;
I write for me, then for thee, then the unborn waiting.

Forgive me for being so overtly aggressive,
For In my cluttered dreaming mind, the mess is.

To start a poem is not all that very hard,
It's been done fairly well by many a bard.

It's ending a poem that's a poet's blank wall,
The reader seeks closure, we hear its clear call.

Ronald C. Downie


Tuesday, April 23, 2013



The magnolia is a wonderful tree,
A broad species, fabulous in flower ;
Profuse in blossoms, pungent sweet in scent,
Majestically crowning spring's new life.

Star and saucer adorn our home landscape
With early blooms, one chalk white, one hot pink.
Unfolding pedals in uncommon ways;
Last buds born - first to adorn - with beauty.

By tip elongation cells stretch sunward,
By circumferential push limbs plump:
Nature dictates how vegetation grows
Upward and outward to its potential.

Silhouette of first bloom, flowers unfold
Painting a globe on the arc of heaven.
Colorful splashes early, a few days
Full, until thunder brings the rage of rain.

Each year's growth expands the crown of flowers,
While good Earth helps sleeping spring bulbs emerge,
Quickly bringing more color to drab land.
Trees, bulbs, and plants draw life from down under.

Snowing down ends flowery abundance
Aloft. Now color's crown is on the ground.
Green emerges to produce vital juice,
The energy of vegetative growth.

A moment in the Universe, a pause
To capture in color, a brief respite.
Life's mere moments with colorful pigments
Keeps our lives from being dull, if not, dead.

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Gruber Legacy

The Gruber Legacy

When Edgewood wakes from winter's sleep
Her green grass growth measures ankle deep .
It is Spring, April is the queen of color's ball,
With lovely growing displays enjoyed by all .

Quick suck of air heaves out the chest
Accepting "uums" escapes with breath,
Atonement for bleak cold winter's wild
As pigment hues tweak our optic smile .

At bloom, flowering trees embrace each other
In a cotillion dance of bright confetti color .
Eye pleasures waltz across fields and glen
From nature's pallet are gifts to women, men .

Grand Marshal, Dogwood, draws all the raves,
Other dancers arrive while the symphony plays
Cords of color singing soft music to the heart .
Bless him, Edward, who planted trees for his art .

Ronald C. Downie

Edgewood was the name given to the Gruber Family Estate now a well recognized golf course, Bellewood.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Oh, My Golly!

Oh, My Golly!

Good Golly!
The NRA enthusiasts speak of the fire power they can mount when they talk about securing rights thought denied them by some governmental units. They know that every gun imaginable, every super magazine, and each level of technical arms assistance will be made available to them by the NRA. Their governmental representatives assure them, if their desires are denied by the political process, they can revert to the Second Amendment to effect change. They believe their rights are smelted into the blue round barrels of the guns they've bought.

But, Good Golly!
I was really impressed with the police work in Boston this past week. What an impressive mobilization of power from local, state, and federal forces. I have not seen anything like it outside of a war zone, not that I enjoy war zones. Do you shutter as I do when I think of the gun culture hoping to thwart the three levels of government in their attempt to have their own state?
I think about a time when the cessions', primed by the NRA lobbyists, began feeling their oats for a separate state. Armed to the teeth with 2nd Amendment rights, they will claim a Constitutional Right to be free from the USA because they have guns rights. Convoluted thinking like this is crazy, that's how I interpret it.

It wouldn't be nearly as bad as the holy battle of Armageddon but it could be quite bad. When local, state, and federal forces uncover their fire power, as exhibited in Massachusetts, it's either give in or perish.
The fool hardy will wale about their rights to unleash 2nd Amendment bullets to kill fellow countrymen but,
when faced with overwhelming force, they will calm down and rethink their options. Back to 50 states again, the Union preserved again, safe, if we settle our differences about guns while we deflower the NRA and reduce its influence to nil.

Ronald C. Downie

Dear Connor

The following is a grandfather's critique of his 19 year old grandson's first foray into the television world's discussions on camera. He did extremely well and I congratulate him with all my heart.

Dear Connor,

I couldn't see the whole audience on television so I didn't see if Rachael was manning the signs; even so, the the audience, in perfect harmony, reacted to your comments as if someone was holding up Applause and Laugh signs. In your calm demeanor you played off the audience like a trooper reminiscent of pros like, let see, Al Franken or Anne Richards when she said, "Poor George, he was born with a silver shoe in his mouth".

If the audience was grading you, you certainly rated an A on delivery; if I was rating you on content, well, you are quite aware of my politics.

Your story telling of finding Ronald Reagan's book began strong but trailed off, I believe, because you felt a need to throw raw meat, the damned party line, to an already captured audience. Your strength on property taxation being broken was a high light, especially in our State's Capitol.

People love stories and they love even more the person who tells a story well. The public gravitates toward a young, handsome speaker who is at ease in front of them and who is able to smile at themselves and to the harsh world enveloping all. The World is but a play and you are now a major actor in that play about properly weaving the fabric which will make up the grand tapestry of life in the future.

Knowing, or better, figuring out your audience was a plus in your favor. But remember, when you have an audience eating from your hand, make only a few strong points, reinforce them, and repeat them. Don't keep piling up more points because, even a captured audience, can not process more information.

So, this is enough for you to ponder today. Just, remember, be yourself, don't get a big head. Maybe those times we spent arguing politics is beginning to pay off. Thinking on your feet is a learned trait which should triumph for you for a lifetime. Keep you head on, fill it with humor and knowledge, speak fluently and loudly enough, and slow down so you don't get ahead of who wants to hear you.

Enough already,
Love, Pop Pop & Nanny

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hope Is Eternal

Hope Is Eternal

When we reserve our pent up energy,
Coiled like a captured spring, just waiting.
How may acts provide spontaneity
Of cause, if freedom's not awakening ?

Then, purpose trumps the lethargic malaise
Controlling action, spiriting motion.
Directed energy moves in strange ways :
Creates leaders, stirs masses into action.

And then, the World has a chance to endure
Shiftless rouge dictators, "hope's eternal".
Through education the path is secure ;
No knowledge is the hidden criminal.

The burden falls on each person's shoulders
To maximize minds, be informed soldiers.

Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Spring Is Upon Us

Spring Is Upon Us

Emerging, elongating,
Unfolding, budding,
Coloring, flowering,
Wilting, dropping flower pedals.

Then leafing out,
Primary limb formation,
More lateral limbing,
Adding girth and mass,
Exponential growth.

Life is divided into two segments :
The first half, actively growing.
The second, retaining formed growth.

First half life continues to add mass ;
Second half just sustains and maintains,
Birth delivers a form requiring growth.

Death gives this life form its finality,
Whether it be plant or be it animal.
All life forms conscript to this process.

Some humans have their lives extended.
You see their monuments erected in parks,
Read names in books, hear tales about them.

But, even though Spring annually arrives,
And birth evolves allowing life to unfold,
Fall triggers the coming of a second half.

Leaf coloring, browning, curling, falling.
Winter ushers in a sense of life's ending.
Gathering in eatables we stock for winter

Subject to the Natural Laws of the Universe
Man holds no higher a place in life's existence
Than all other life forces on this our planet.

Man's lust to alter these laws draws him
Into the wilds of Faith, a dependence on
The unknown, sinking him into a bubbling crucible
Holding the power of an unsuspecting bondage.

Belief in faith needs faith in belief, sort of a
Revolving theme, needing constant reinforcement.
Ministers seize the airwaves in hot pursuit :
Sizing you up, shaking you down, spouting off.
Their words, could become your's, if you let them.

Spring's upon us, wear it well !

Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, April 11, 2013

1776 Quotations

1776 Quotations

A pillar of our nation, John Adams, in 1776 feared that the newly formed Continental Congress' decisions would be dictated "by noise, not sense ; by meanness, not greatness ; by ignorance , not learning ; by contracted hearts , not large souls."

His conclusion is, as appropriate today, as it was then: "There must be decency and respect and veneration introduced for persons of authority of every rank or we are undone. In a popular government, this is the only way."

Where are the thinkers of today who see our country's demise due to our elected leaders lack of sense, lack of greatness, and lack of education ?

Where is their desire for decency, respect, and veneration ? We seem to be led by very unpopular representatives who are unresponsive to the new century's desires and demands. Or, do they just reflect the sour attitude of we who elect them ? We must do our job better.

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, April 8, 2013

Reading's More Than A Pleasure

Reading's More Than A Pleasure

The pleasure to read, put off way too long, becomes like a drag on a boat, slowing it down while making it less manageable to steer, as it puts in jeopardy a person's desire to better find themselves. The inability to read is more like hitting an iceberg and sinking the boat rather than just putting a drag on it.

Where in the World could America get a better return on her investment then if our country would make education a top priority by pouring investments into it. It's not like a brand new program, we've had an universal education agenda in place for most of a Century here in America which now needs a shot of financing to make education truly a 21st Century accomplishment.

Americans pride ourselves in the excellence of our higher education institutions which serves those whose parents can afford their exorbitant costs or are youths willing to mortgage their future by borrowing to attend. Many slots are taken up by foreign students of financially able parents.

To more and more, a belief surfaces that a higher education is but a "right of passage" of all young inhabitants of our Earth as they pass from youthful adolescence into adulthood, and, as their aptitude and attitude allows them. This passage is evermore controlled by a young person's ability to be served by money instead of by raw mental ability.

Why in the World does America eat its seed corn or eat her children or eat the future away? Because, we as a country, are awfully short sighted thinking only for today or, at best, no longer than this week. The rich are really dumb thinking this way. Their own best interest is in having buyers of products their industries produce.

These buyers have to be nurtured, growing into consumers which is the backbone of America's economy. They need disposable income to purchase goods and services. Expanding the poor is the last thing providers of good and services need unless these providers are bent on a short time run. Too often, it seems the well to do need little time to make their vast wealth, so they're only in for the short run, and those younger financiers replace them in a same short amount of time.

It once took a generation to accumulate an old time fortune, but now, ten years is a long time for a fortune to be realized. Get mine now and be gone is the moneyed's song when their interest should be in a rising tides lift all ships.

A rising tide is needed in education to bring it along in a way that truly raises the pursuit of knowledge to a level our World needs. The ability to read is the golden rule for all living beings. The increased ability to write well boarders on the true per suit of capturing wisdom.

Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Stephen Trevor Kurtz

Stephen Trevor Kurtz

Explore the ode that draws your heart
Beyond each boundary your steps avoid :
Be they state or city, country or ocean,
Wanderlust drives the proverbial bus.

Go west, or east, south, or north : a compass
Is all a cowboy needs, except real friends.
Just as easy as years roll on and on, you
Don't walk or run but journey in trail rides.

What binds you to some permanence of place
Are, as in the strength of spider webs, well spun.
Filaments of heart strings are the closest to the
Fibers that bind one to another and to your family.

Love, Pop Pop & Nanny !
Happy Birthday, wherever you roam !

Ronald C. Downie

Friday, April 5, 2013

March Madness

March Madness

Only days away from the end of March Madness, a crazed frenzy over college basketball's elimination tournament, to choose the most superior team in the nation. A team only keeps playing if it keeps winning.

Basketball seems to come down to plenty of exceptional shooters and, too frequently, plenty of players who foul. Most games are spent either on the foul line or in a time out which must make basketball a state of the art sports event for advertisers.

Basketball is a profit center for a school's financial health and gaining an invitation to March Madness gives the school a chance to get on television, and with that, a chance to participate in the distribution of advertisement dollars. Remember, dollars go to the schools not to the players.

Even realizing this, I'll still watch the tournament and grumble each time a commercial airs. Some day, rules of the game will change and speed the game up so it becomes viewer friendly. Maybe, some teams will even be smart enough use the backboard to pass off of, rather than a player, head down as he bulls his way to the basket, getting a charging call.

Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, April 4, 2013

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 78 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, and know there was always a job back home if they needed one.

I anxiously await the report that the task force was put together to write, and I hope it will aggressively address the Town's decline, and chart a course for her recovery. 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

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Beyond The Senses

Beyond The Senses

Clambering for acceptance,
Mediocrity cast, bogged down,
Not understanding why I am
So serious while the World
Wallers in its superficiality.

Is my life a drama or a dirge ?
Can I accept universal song ?
May I see nirvana in the arts ?
Will I, the painter's eye, perceive ?
Is this me or is it a mirror of me ?

Ankles swelled, strong hands shriveled,
Eyes sight hindered clouded with tears,
More gum, not white what's left in tact,
Like Spanish Moss grey, less head hair,
Dropped chest rests like a flat tire,
Hobbling's more than a pain in the ass.

No longer pungent are tasteful smells.
Where did my fine feeling fingers fly ?
Horizons, once sharp, bleed as if in mist.
Guttural rumblings mute my Earth's Song,
Flavors of a bountiful table have escaped.
Pre-eternity lives as an indomitable spirit.

Value an acceptance of yourself
Within the boundaries that society
Permits you of being a roll model.
Be yourself, not that method actor,
Slipping on and off center stage.
With issues grapple, set high goals.

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hetero Verses Homo

Hetero Verses Homo

I keep my eyes open looking out my front window wondering when will they visit again. Some years they're much more visible, you'd see them quite often walking or biking around town. Times change, maybe they drive now since it's been a couple years since I've last seen them.

The well dressed, handsome, young men were missionaries of the Mormon faith doing their religious duty as prescribed by their elders. I have some questions to ask them which came up in the last election. Although I'd really like to ask Mr Romney but, I don't have the necessary billions in my bank account that makes politicians eager to accommodate my questions, I thought the boys, who probably are on tight budgets, are closer to my economic status and, maybe, would be versed enough to respond to my inquiry.

Mitt Romney claimed and many Republicans jumped on the band wagon by agreeing with him that corporations are persons in his - " new world order ". My question is : if corporations are people, are they heterosexual or homosexual ?

I'd expect them, especially in Mitt's mind to be heterosexual, since they demand every consideration that comes with government handouts and, he being a male dominant Mormon, anything questioning male dominance he would ignore. Also, corporations would not wait in line, like our returning veterans must endure, before they're turned away for services promised them but forgotten over and over again.

In his "new world order", Romney professes money is speech and corporations are people, is no worse logic than mine, which is wondering the sexual preference of corporations if they're truly people. If money is speech then I understand why some people, the million and billionaires, want to have so much say over our laws.

This subtle way of returning to an aristocracy scares me and should scare you. The penalty is beyond my comprehension. Feudal lords rather than Captains of Industry or Banking Magnets would become easily interchangeable. It has been thwarted for the time being but the thought of feudalism returning is the fervent desire of the moneyed set. They long for sleek golden robes with servants galore who'll cater to their every wish.

Are corporations male or female ? Can they marry and divorce ? If they kill one or the other what court are they tried in, to jail, where ? Does the Mormon Church know things that the rest of us don't know ? Forty seven percent of the federal electorate voted for Romney in 2012, so do they have answers for my questions ?

Let me know if you have the answers or, like me, do you have more questions ?

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, April 1, 2013

County Seat To College Town

County Seat to College Town

Some years ago on the front page of The Pottstown Mercury (its name then) a story like this appeared :

Pottstown to become a county seat in the newly carved out county made up of land taken from Berks, Chester, and Montgomery Counties with Pottstown at the geographic center.

April Fools Day quickly showed through the intent, though, in fact, that image described was just what had been going on here for very many decades. Pottstown really was the industrial, commercial, professional, and banking hub of that designated area. We had little interface with Norristown nor Reading, each their County's seat. We felt as outsiders but we didn't object too much since we were self sufficient in our vibrancy. Pottstown's population rose above 30,000 finally topping out later at 32,000 before falling now to 22,000. All walks of life inhabited Pottstown and lived in the surrounding townships. Though the poor were present, they seemed not to be totally destitute because an unorganized safety net operated quite effectively.

Up through the 1950's from Colonial Times the poor and needy were essentially disappeared into the community through the humanitarian work of the churches and, somewhat under the radar, by funding from social clubs. Clubs were allowed back then to operate games of chance overlooked by governmental authorities up until gambling became a no-no. The county had taxing power throughout the entire population and homelessness with its connection to the poor was not isolated to specific areas.

Then Church parishioners began urban flight as the Green Wave of the effluent flowed to the suburbs, building homes there, while still maintaining church buildings in town. No longer did these parishioners need to be daily exposed to the poor so naturally many adopted an "out of sight out of mind" attitude. Once, what was a duty now was someone else's problem, the Town's or the county's. During the grand heyday of Pottstown's industrialization, work was more than plentiful and money flowed even into the causes which helped feed the poor. When industry folded or moved away, jobs became non-existent, gifting ceased, and the poor and homeless expanded in numbers and needs. Tent cities cropped up along the Manatawny and Schuylkill waterways in Pottstown, since it was here the county established numerous agency offices which administered to the poor. Agencies begot more agencies which drew like a magnet those in need as their rolls burgeoned.

All the while the county measured the number of those poor and equated that as a sign for more section 8 dwellings needed. The spiraling just continued as Pottstown declined and, along with it, rental rates dropped compared to other towns in the county. Section 8 became a better buy here for the county so they promoted its acceptance which enhanced the spiraling down. Though mostly ignored, it is the ultimate responsibility of the county to care for the homeless and protect the poor. The county is the agent of the state and federal government for the dispersal of grant moneys designated to care for them. One has only to diligently follow the money trail from its source to its use, to see if it's spent properly.

The continued concentration here of the homeless, the poor, and section 8 took an additional toll on Pottstown's economic health. High Street was once a hubbub of retail activity but, a slow decline in people with disposable income shopping, caused weak shops to close up. The sidewalks which used to be filled with working people shopping was now populated with the poor who had no money to spend. In fact, the art of pan handling started cropping up, the million dollar Town Center Park began to be their meeting place, and sometimes they chose to sleep there.

Just as High Street declined so did the residential areas once the backbone of the Town's tax base. The school district, which receives four out of every five tax dollars, continued to raise taxes yearly to defray the extra costs to educate students of the transient poor whose children's needs exceeded the norm. Retired home owners were caught with their fixed incomes while their taxes rose along with the costs to keep up their property. Their "For Sale" signs joined those signs already erected on properties foreclosed on by banks when the mortgager, many out of work, could not pay their mortgage. The gross asset value of Pottstown continued to decline year after year; therefore, taxes must rise year after year just to remain even.

What would change this image ? 1-Bring back industry along with its jobs, 2-eliminate taxation based on property values, 3- demand the county to equitably distribute the care for the homeless poor throughout Montgomery County, 4- revitalize the High Street corridor to bring back retail, professional, and commercial vitality through an infusion of grant moneys, 5- embrace thoroughly the concept of Pottstown truly as a college town, 6- expect every public exposure of Pottstown, a college town, to be expressed in a positive light.

Ronald C. Downie