Sunday, May 25, 2014

Bob Boyle, when was the last time I saw that name in print ? It wasn't in Pottstown but in Hamilton on the isles of Bermuda. You oldsters will remember Boyle as a one of a kind editor of The Pottstown Mercury. He was a guy with a vision others only shuttered at as he pulled off his published exploits; such as, publishing a front page in Vietnamese or declaring in headlines Pottstown as the seat of a newly formed county carved out of Berks, Chester, and Montgomery Counties.

My wife, Connie, and I were on a trip with the BIE to Bermuda when at breakfast I was reading the local newspaper where I saw the Robert ( Bob ) Boyle name as either or both publisher/ editor. I personally knew him when he was in Pottstown and, if time then wasn't a problem, I may have tried to see him. It was a fact, I understand, that he had relocated to the island after his stint in Pottstown to operate the newspaper there. I hope he gave his Reader's some enjoyment in print back then as he'd given a goodly number of us previously back here. John Strickler, in his blog, Strick's Pics, tells of his forty years with The Mercury being hired by Bob Boyle to start his career. Us oldsters have fond memories of newspapers when they were dynamic and fun rather than sterol and ordinary.

Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, May 24, 2014


Around for 120 years basketball has matured into today's winter pass time throughout the World. Played by just five players a team for a prescribed period of time the game has made numerous changes over its existence. The latest major change was the adoption of a three point line, an arch painted on the floor at each end of the court at a specific distance from the basket. A shot made inside this line is worth two points; outside, three points.

Most changes to the game needs approval of team owner's as well as basketball officials worldwide. What I intend to offer needs no such approvals just thinking of the game from a little different perspective. 

The importance of the backboard has diminished over the years, once it was integral for most shots which commonly hit the backboard first then slicing off it and into the hoop for a score. Today's play is that of more precision, eliminating the backboard, and shooting directly at the hoop and, I must say, with exceptional success. 

The backboard needs a resurgence of use. It needs to be used much, much more as a vehicle in the art of passing the ball. Each year I notice more use but some times it's not by choice but by oversight. Some terrific plays were when a player was trapped but able to pass the ball to himself off the backboard the score. The artful use of passing off the backboard needs nurturing through use in practice then in the game. Certainly this wouldn't change the game as the three point play has done but the game would maybe become a little more artistic from players second only to ballet dancers in physical dexterity. 

Ronald C. Downie 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Batter Up

Might think I'm an expert at sports the way I canvas for  some dramatic changes in the game on the field or court. An expert I'm not, but I'll spout off anyway. 

Take baseball : needed ; some openers, less closers. Once, starting pitchers were expected to pitch an entire game, 9 innings, well over 100 pitches every couple of days, 150 pitches per game was not uncommon. Today, after 100 pitches the starter is generally done and the manager sends in someone from the bullpen about the 7th inning. I contend, a game controlled to its end, is best controlled by a seasoned long inning pitcher who will close out the game. The opener would start the game and throw about 30 pitches, no more than 40, I suggest, and hopefully pitch a least once through the batting order. At this time, from warming up in the bullpen, the long inning pitcher would come in the game to finish it out.

A lot of young arms these days are peppering 100mph and cold bats in the early innings don't seem to catch up with pitches from these flame throwers. In fact, maybe the game would move along more rapidly because, I sense, the game is getting too long, especially, since TV replay. A change like I suggest wouldn't take any league interjection just some progressive manager to break the established norm of the game of baseball. Of course, this could become enormous.

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The ugly first : just drove past Beech and Charlotte and got a jolt from all the Maple Trees dead or still dying in the urban forest or what it was once to be. Anyone, even lowly nature, can plant a seed or acorn and expect it to live and even see it mature to adulthood. That is, allowing it to grow free from chemicals, so the tree grows naturally. 

I suggest that someone, desiring a weed free forest floor unnatural in the real world, used chemical weed killer in an amount that affected the well established trees. Nature has been growing trees without chemicals for billions of years and really needs no help from Man. 

The good : drive out North Hanover Street until you arrive at The POttsgrove Middle School. There along the west side of street at the base of the hill is one of the most lovely plantings of American Linden Trees I ever saw. They are so symmetrical in their spade like canopy, especially now, while displaying new growth.
A Landscape Architect should be complimented for his choice. It's an easy drive to view and get a new appreciation of street tree selection.

The bad : mulching should be done for the health of the tree or shrubs and not just for viewing esthetics. Mulch should never be piled up around trunks of trees or shrubs, an if so, should be pulled away so the trunks can be seen entering the topsoil. Some of the best mulch is on your property, it is the compost that develops from rotting chopped up fall leaves along with any other green vegetation but not lawn grass clippings. It is often said, a good household compost program is like finding a working mine which produces black gold rather than yellow.

Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Climate of Weather

I seem, like maybe even you, to get mixed up when thinking about the differences between weather and climate. For years we've use these words indiscriminately, and thought them to be synonymous with one another. They aren't though !

Weather is what's around us on an everyday basis : windy or calm, rain or dry, hot or cool, etc ;
Climate is the phenomenon of our planets functions over time : heating or cooling, seas rising or receding, air breathable or less so, etc.

Weather develops from the interplay of gradients of barometric pressure which move, as a bubbling Lava Lamp of my generation, would. Weather seems channeled, small, and contained rather than climate which speaks to a much wider audience. Climate is on a planetary scale, such as, continents, seas, and oceans ; as tectonic plates ; and mountain ranges. Weather is for a few days maybe a week ; climate accumulates elements of weather over long periods of time, months, years even centuries to reflect weather's affect on our planet.

We change our clothing for weather ; for climate or climate change, thought detrimental to life on Earth, we are asked to change the way we humans conduct our way of life. The best minds are convinced human activity has negatively affected climate since the Industrial Revolution began about 1900. Man has exploited Earth's  sequestered carbon accumulated over millions, if not, billions of years to produce energy for the Revolution. Burning carbon releases pollutants which creates an imbalance in the planets atmosphere and scientist believe this has, and will, allow our planet to heat up causing catastrophic results for life here on Earth.

Mom would urge me to dress properly when I left to catch the bus, about a mile walk, on the way to school. She had a habit of saying: "The climate will change between this morning and this afternoon when you're coming home." Yes, she meant weather rather than climate, I grant you. Now, that was over seventy years ago and she didn't think she'd ever be quoted. 

Weather has developed daily for eons ; climate has, for the same amount of time, reflected the affects of weather on the Earth. It will be up to you to do what's proper for the Earth since, like me, we are her stewards.

Ronald C. Downie


Friday, May 16, 2014

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 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 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, 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, but again neither you nor me will be so honored.
Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Gift Given Us

Between cream of split pea soup
And savory brown mushroom gravy,
Hairs, as dull as damp hay droop,
Straightens broom like, turns wavy.

Cocktails do take effect after all
When they begin to vision what's seen.
The average in height, turns quite tall,
Those rather rotund, rollie-pollie, lean.

"To see ourselves as others see us,
Is a gift", Burns wrote, "He gives us."

Who gives insight so darn powerful
That it forgoes our arrogance of ego ?
However rocky, each life is meaningful
Routed by events played out long ago.

Implied within the rubble of real hope
Is a mythical, dreaming novel of one's life
Impassioned by a full broadening in scope
Complementing the real no matter its strife.

Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


A blast of golden light woke me today,
Early sunshine seems especially rich
Peeking below clouds on the horizon.
"Blue as blue can be" painted morning sky.

Unfolding leaves are still not summer green
Although more chlorophyll is daily made.
Maples most advanced nearly summer green;
Oaks pastel, pasty yellow green catkins.

Huge oaks pump out volumes of pollen drift
Covering cars in a pee green powder.
Oaks catch up, their girth, their height, not by chance.
Acorns attract squirrels, life's ardent champs.

Life lives not for color, but color lives
In each facet of live's crowning glory.
Color's intensity is proportionate 
To day's ambient light's narrow shadows.

Green, though, becomes the the drape of day,
More and more pleasing, a meaningful way.
Up from plant roots chlorophyll seeks heaven
By bark straws as sap wicks green life's given.

A painter fills canvas after canvas
In a lifetime mixing pigment colors;
Nature fills the whole World's composition
In each pigment hue imaginable.

Who, pray tell, should we call Master Artist, 
One with bottled pigments, one a grand scheme?
For inside, wall art's hung of good artists;
Outside, all pigments blend into colors.

May is the greatest monopolizer.
She draws heat from the Sun gaining sky heights, 
She draws moisture from gathering storm clouds,
She delivers reality, hugs dreamers. 

Ronald C. Downie


Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Dire Consequence

You see, the tea party people along with their way out wackos, those gun totters who are bent on secession, pledge to take their assault weapons in hand to ward off our government from enacting responsible gun regulations. They have stated that until really challenged, they'll fight to the death to keep their 100 round clips. I have ego, but I don't have that same arrogance of ego that they have. But, I do believe, our Congress is doing me and those who think like me a more terrible injustice by their inaction on climate change, than they are in not planning to enact gun control. 

Global warming is a more onerous threat to all life forms on earth than is the whole gun control issue. If Congress continues to pander to the minority vocal who insist on believing a scant few percent of hired scientists in believing there is no problem ; rather than, listening to the vast majority of the active scientist who tell of a World heating up, all life is really in trouble.

Slowly evolved, now the World's climate is quickly heating up, with dire consequences to ocean heights, to droughts, to famines, to plagues, and to super storms. If the few, who hold up action for strictly political purposes or, especially, financial gains, can wag the tail of congressional action rather than the majority in either house then we and the rest of the World will suffer. The few must be circumvented from ignorantly working their will which could put the World in dire straits. The tipping point is out there and once reached there will be no going back. Our descendants are faced with being guinea pigs in a harsh, inhospitable World. 

I hope, those who think as I do, that they will become more vocal and join their voices with mine by keeping World climate change out front and prominent and worth their troubled vote.

Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Humanity's Grand Mosaic

Within the stitches 
holding together your
patch work quilt,
you live your life
just peeking out 
from under its cover.

Your birth, infancy,
childhood, teen years,
adulthood, marriage,
family, midlife, old age,
infirmity, and death are
recorded with their own patch.

Each other's story, a quilt some 
could easily hang on their wall.
Many would wrap themselves
snugly within its warm comfort.
While some would fold up 
their quilt and place it in an old
trunk, with moth balls for keep sake.

Though those of a shattered life, who
understand their quilt's unthinkable
nature, seek not to remember,
but, just in case, keep theirs hidden
in a safe place, always to be a reminder.

Walk down a street, anywhere,
look at the people, look closely,
are they that much different from 
all others in looks and physique ?
Now, conjure up in your mind's eye
what their individual quilt would look like.

All the writers in the World,
all the singers and songsters too,
the poets, historians, and the story tellers,
have yet to unfold the totality of patch work
quilts which makes this up,
each is our contribution to 
humanity's grand mosaic.

Ronald C. Downie


Monday, May 5, 2014

Anne "Nancy" Chomnuk Jones

Today, May 5, our Town's Mayor "Mayor's" Birthday !
Anne Jones was Pottstown's first female mayor.

She left Pottstown School Board as its president,
Becoming Mayor, after eighteen years school board.

Poised, Anne was regal, while being comfortable
In the position of Ceremonial Head of Pottstown.

For a wedding, "get the Mayor", was commonplace, 
In the Town Center Park or on Borough Hall steps

Was an easy request, ask Mayor "Nancy" Anne Jones.
At the head of a parade or important announcement

Our Mayor's Mayor was front and center, very willing. 
Time, realized through birthdays, moves us all along

A trail of whispering vespers, by us, called memory.
Larger than life, Anne, you certainly made History.

Happy Birthday !
Connie & Ron Downie

Friday, May 2, 2014

150 Years For Pottstown High School

I've been a graduate of Pottstown High School for 40% of the 150 years students have been graduated from this institution. Also, among those graduated, are my wife, Connie Mae Hall, and eight of her siblings, my brother, Andy, three of my children, and a grandson, plus numerous nephews and nieces. One of my daughters has taught school in the Pottstown system for about twenty years. I was co-captain of the football team my senior year; also, I  competed on the track and golf teams.

In addition to school attendance, I served for four years on the School Board. Later in my life, I was honored by being selected as a recipient of membership in the Pottstown High School Alumni Honor Roll. 

I wish I could be active in the 150 year celebration but age with infirmities has limited me for some years so I try to communicate, as well as I can, through the Internet. This is my 79th year in Pottstown and, whenever I could, I've tried to be a cheerleader for our town. I hope that many of our fellow graduates will acknowledge this 150 Year Celebration and support it in their own positive ways. 

Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May Day

Kind of enjoyed May 1st, when I attended school at Lower POttsgrove Elementary on Pleasantview in the 1940's during the Second World War. Built on top of a hill facing east there was a tall flagpole across the driveway from the front entranceway. 

This flagpole was put to another use on May's special day. I guess, it was the janitor who leaned a ladder against the pole, climbed it, and taped long stringers of different colored four inch wide crape paper up at about 12 feet. Of course, the grade school girls were all a giggle over what was going to happen but, the boys, naturally hung back smirking. 

Teachers brought their classes out the front door and herded them across the driveway to the May Pole, then the celebration began. Staged, boy/girl, boy/girl around the pole, each student was assigned a dangling end of crape paper. Now the teachers earned their pay. Grabbing an end of the crapepaper boys were to circle clockwise, girls counterclockwise and, while circling, they were to weave in and out, which became a logistics problem. With a big smerick on the boys (on my) faces confusion ensued. 

Whether we got it done properly or not, my enjoyment came through the experience not the polished result. It seems to me the May Pole Dance was accompanied by recorded music but that may be wishful thinking. I think a lot about my three years at LPES on Pleasantview Road - 4th, 5th,and 6th grades. Time erodes sharp immages so memories may just allow what I wanted those years to look like. 

Ronald C. Downie