Monday, June 30, 2014

Parade on the 4th of July

Connie and I expect to be near our borough hall on the 4th to view the parade as we have always done over these many years. Friday for lunch at Town Center Park was enjoyed by us last week. For the first one undertaken and with favorable weather, we think this could be a very well attended advent scheduled monthly. The music was extremely good as was the food.

Even though we felt this event was fairly well attended, the park, in all its beauty, can accommodate many more hundreds people. It's relatively simple to attend : the park is surrounded by parking, it was designed for events like this, the planters and hanging baskets are, beyond compare, beautiful in their height of flowering.

The next Lunch in the Park will be in mid July, the 18th I believe. If you're in the mood to mingle, just show up to eat in a setting made for you. You know, when complaints are rampant and you think the borough doesn't do anything for you, take advantage of the park made especially for a citizen like you. 

Sometimes a person must put forth a personal effort in order to take advantage of what a small town is trying to offer its public. Pottstown is no different than other small towns which are struggling to exist ; each one has problems particular to them, but all are under the umbrella of a poor federal economy. Towns rise and fall on the sum total of the vitality of its residents as they take advantage of what's offered them.

Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fourth Of July

As I sally forth next week, the Fourth Of July will begin with a parade down High Street on Friday. Marching troops, military and other, will join with the music of parades tapping out the rhythms the marchers and spectators will move to. I especially look for the kilted pipers who squeeze their bagpipes into submission and, as I imagine, I want to dream of myself in the highlands of Scotland a chasing the deer if ever I could. 

A parade is the manifestation of the public's attitude about our past, about our present condition, and says a lot about where we go as a nation in the future. The past is what was, the present is fleeting each moment, but the future lies ahead and will test the metal that our country is made of. 

We're all familiar with the normal peopled parade events : certainly the marchers, the bikers and automobile drivers, the fire truck drivers, the dignitaries, and all those flesh and blood participants. I have yet to see for parade review the corporations recently classified as persons. Are they cloistered somewhere turning their counted money into speech as also determined by our high court. As antithetical as corporations seem to me to be participating in a parade, I wonder, for the rest of you, does this sentiment carry over into your daily life ? 

The true nature of a Fourth Of July Parade is up to each of you to determine; what our forbearers fought for and what we honor is at stake each and every July 4th. It is also at stake each and every election cycle we participate in. Who said, something to the effect of - 'it's our's, if only we can keep it'.

Enjoy parades but it's elections which count !

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Windows Open

After a long winter of being closed up tight my bedroom windows were finally unlocked and opened when the temperatures began rising as summer finally replaced a cool spring. Summer night temperatures makes for a deeper night's sleep. Deep sleep has a scrubbing affect on the mind, all the whys and wherefores of a day's activity gets thought over again and again as the head sinks nicely into a cool pillow. Nodding off, the scrubbing process begins as the mind prepares for a new day.

Something comes along with cooler night air other than deep sleep and that's sounds which enter an open window with ease. The other night sounds were sirens : ambulance, police, and fire from midnight to three AM, but these I'm used to, in town they're sounding off all day long. They're there, but who cares about sounds so common they just blend into background noises, accepted and ignored.

It is the crows, though, that caw the early morning light into being at 5AM or before. Roosting in the high pines across Evans St. they must wake pissed off at each other and make their complaints vocal. Their guttural caw-caw-caw could awaken the dead, if not, cause some geezer like me their demise. I can take their clatter during the day, but at 5AM, give me a break. 

A good night of sleep with the windows open is a carryover from my youth living mostly out of town in what was then referred to as the country. Seventy-five years ago in a time when most families never experienced air conditioning, pulling down the shades during the day to keep out the heat of the sun and opening the windows at night to capture cool breezes, was a country boy's idea of air conditioning. You can take a boy out of the country; but, you can't take the country out of the boy. 

Ronald C. Downie


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Born male and still proud of it, I shutter when I hear about the declining plight of women in the World these days. In the caldron of discontent, the Middle East's apparent devaluation of women can be readily seen as Sharia Law grabs hold when militants overthrow established regimes.

Women beware, your female independence is not only under attack in other areas of the World ; but also, here in the USA. Male dominance over female reproductive rights is awash in many state capitols throughout our country. The die is cast, the fix is in, an egotistical male dominated state legislature has little female empathy when they vote to repeal women's rights. 

It has taken generations for women to feel comfortable in their own skin rather than the doting, head bowed wife of colonial times. Over the centuries of progress, these hard gotten rights may only have been a fleeting gain. These rights maybe only a federal election away before women are subjugated back to second class citizens. You all can see what Money does to the political system. Yes, I believe, tons of money can change the World as we know it ; so, beware women, you hold the future of the World in your hands as you cast your most important vote. The vote to keep yourselves free, independently free.

Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Progression of the seasons drags summer out of spring with today the longest day of 2014 at the beginning of summer. Free from oil deliveries for a few months, I shutter the idea that this winter could be as demanding as last winter for fuel oil consumption. The price of oil times consumption equals thousands of dollars from a fixed social security income. Then add to this increases in school taxes, federal, state, and local taxes and the lemon gets squeezed beyond juice. The financial noose around seniors' necks slowly tightens as each service cost increases proportionate to the cost of living increase which automatically, though unrealized, is levied. 

Progression is a stern master : The act of moving forward ( as toward a goal ) is one definition for it. My doctor had it right when I asked him about growing old, and he said : the problem is that humans are becoming too old, in general, and that societies are unprepared to adjust and accommodate for this phenomenon. 

Yes, I'm already older by a dozen or more years than my parents when they died and am still limping along thinking death is just around the corner. Doc was right, oldsters are living too long and society can't adjust. I would think with the vast numbers of aged people now living among us they would rebel about the subtle way society allows the oldsters to waste away falling into an ever increasing poverty. Creep is the sanitized word for our elders dilemma. We become older, less able to earn, more susceptible to disease, more subject to be duped by scandals, and beaten down less vocal. Dead death may be the only savior oldsters may ever know.

Ronald C. Downie 
Did I hear a return to Iraq based on an ever increasing security for Global Energy ? Are USA boots and guns required everywhere, so renewable energy won't become the energy of choice, anywhere ? Wake up, folks, for the time being roses still smell sweet.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


I wonder, how can this Earth be in such a turmoil and still keep right on ticking ? Controversial or not, I am drawn more and more into the Gaia Hypothesis as an answer to my quandary. Gaia is the Earth imagined as being one single organism with both organic and inorganic elements interacting with each other that allows the planet to level out the environment so life  may exist here. The Earth, one giant living organism ?

Similar to ourselves, who are made up of billions upon billions of bacteria each in itself an organism but, in the scheme of life, each is interdependent upon each other so the human is called a single life form. A composite just like the Earth.

The human is capable of many beautiful jesters ; such as found, in art, music, dance, prose, and poetry ; but also some horrific deeds, maim, torture, starvation, mental manipulation, even death. A living organism is not immune from harm nor from happiness, but just is, as the pressures push it. 

History shows us that, when public pressures swell, the citizens of the World turn more sour or sweet according to the type of pressure felt and reacted to. If the principles of Gaia hold true and pressure is exerted on the Earth, like crippling pollution, the Earth, after the tipping point is reached, may not recover for present human life to exist here. Some forms of life probably will adapt but humans will be some of the life forms to go first. 

Under the subtitle pressure that human life is expendable is it any wonder turmoil can be found in almost every corner of this World ? Humans have the capacity to act out their frustrations in very bad ways by degrading many other men and women living among them on our Earth. "We are what we are", hardened from young by fervor and zealotry from our parents who just emulate their upbringing in some Holy Whirlpool of frenzy. Are we caught by the timeless pearl called a single living organism ?

Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sonnet 4

Lashed Together

When rolling swells from humanity's wake
Rocks life's boats, tethered safely at ready.
Sailors seek rising tides for sailing's sake
As Moon mass draws up sea waters steady:

They look to stars and charts to map the way
Off shoals, between buoys marking channels.
Seeking guidance demands society's say 
About normal living, choosing panels:

Panels represent will of the people
Who, when lashed together, become stronger,
As bricks and mortar raise up a steeple
To tower cities with shadows longer.

Bundling sticks together will give them strength,
But, bundling thoughts takes wisdom its full length.

Ronald C. Downie


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Today : Sunday, June 15th, 2014, from 2 to 4 PM  
The Pine Forge Historical Society will explore "Archaeology in the Community" at the Thomas Rutter Mansion on the grounds of The Pine Forge Academy.

On this Father's Day may I include my poem which is filled with past Pine Forge lore. Could you follow the Underground Railroad if necessary ?
The Claussens of Pine Forge

Betty With Images - Bill, Printed Words

Soft strokes flow pigments on a canvas traced :
By eye with brush, stilling time, framing's placed.

When works of art are hung, walls disappear,
Rooms fill with pleasant, familiar warm air.

Beyond walls flows the Manatawny Creek.
Hung on walls are painted scenes which speak

Of a time in Pine Forge, just north upstream,
Where things happened thought only a dream.

This stream thru hills erodes for eons past.
Soft moccasin footprints allowed forests to last

Until Europeans arrived here in America by boat,
Pushed upstream beyond where canoes could float

To mine black iron ore for peace but also for war.
Clear cut Hemlock, Pine making charcoal fires roar.

Where the muscles of water drive wheels of a mill
To grind grain for a Nation with empty bellies to fill.

Betty chose paint pigments, husband Bill, black ink.
Betty created canvas images, Bill words that think.

She drew the 20th Century, he the long past away.
They lived on Creek Road, in Pine Forge, that's in Pa.

Where once ran a railroad, though only at night,
No whistle, no smoke, its passengers in life's flight,

No rails, only hidden trails across river and creek,
North Star showed the way to freedom they seek.

From Titlow to Ives then to Rutter at The Pines,
Its mansion a beacon during these troubled times.

Below on the Manatawny sat Bailey's Roller Mill
Banging away at boiler plate with orders to fill

For locomotives' fire boxes on railroads you all know.
Abolition's in their hearts which men of iron grow :

Thomas, Rutter and Potts ; Samuel, Savage and Nutt 
Forges, the muscle of wars; Revolution and Civil, but,

Are grand paintings like a secret heirloom recipe,
Both needing appreciation for memory's chemistry ?

Or, are paintings, as described by Andrew Wyeth 
Heard to say, "I was merely illustrating my life."

Soft strokes flow pigments on a canvas traced :
By eye with brush, stilling time, framing's placed.

When works of Art are hung, walls disappear,
Rooms fill with familiar, pleasant warm air.

Ronald C. Downie

Written and read on the occasion of a showing of Betty J. Claussen's Art, May 11, 2006. 
Husband, William Edmund Claussen wrote "Pioneers Along The Manatawny".
The Underground Railroad took a path through Pottstown with a layover in Pine Forge.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


How long ago was it, when I found it very hard to put onto paper my thoughts, that my muse had left me ?
Yes, it was a while back when I still used pens or pencils and note paper, now I use an iPad and peck away putting words together on a screen. The difficulty still plagues me when I want to write but little, if anything, develops from worrying about it. I call that the muse having left me, inspiration gone away.

It's at these times that I refer back to a poem by William Carlos Williams, "The Red Wheelbarrow". A short poem of ten lines with no line more than three words. "So much depends / upon" are the opening two lines. These four words open up a world of wonderment to be explored by a writer, especially, one who writes poetry.

Poetry nor prose can resist the impulse to put into words thoughts conjured up when this phrase pops up, "so much depends". Everything in life depends on something else since the interdependence of all life is intertwined within each life force. 

"The Red Wheelbarrow"

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

by William Carlos Williams

Ronald C.Downie

Friday, June 13, 2014

A message given to a grandson upon his birthday with a wish that he understands the linage he has become the mainstay of. The World awaits his entry.

Follow The Thread

From the stock, of a stock, from so far back ;
Hunter Gatherers, they all were back then.
Before husbandry, before dirt farmers,
Before herders, before creative freemen,

Titanic their struggle compared to ours.
Blood and death, survival, so commonplace
Was their theme, reaching long from then to now,
Discounting gender, color, any which race.

You, me, your friends their long threads in place
Knotted, over and over, linking each to the other.
Back, unbroken, but stretched, so stretched
Through millenniums: forests, fields, and beach.

Today, you are the keeper of the thread
That links family to posterity, eternity.
It is safe in your trust, integrity must
Carry the day, life's grand fraternity.

Proud but humbly, in you, we have faith
No matter what road signs impede and block.
Safely entrusted, banners bright, wind torn,
Unfurled, marks your journey, voicing the talk.

You are not alone, but of a special
Generation, one poised to move Earth
Away from crippling decay. We honor
Your understanding for reasons of birth.

Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Cry From Mid-Space 

God damned you, Dreams, 
whore no more to me, 
release me to covet grayness 
bleating from a sullen sky.

Don't show me violets pure
nor roses gay that cry
my inter soul awake.

No !  I must not think free !

Chain my mind, 
please stem that emotion swell
within this hide,
so I do not hope in vain.

In image of his maker 
man can train as oxen yoked 
to circle round the well.

I can not define mid-space 
where dreamers dwell,
so far sight a scene
then slowly squint it into
mental pictures,
like a frosted pane looked through.

Is it real ? Is it heaven ? 
Is it, well is it, hell ?

Hell must be theater
for a lost dreamer's soul.

Not in dance around soothing 
flames and crackling sounds
that flows the senses' veins ;
but of grey ash mounds 
staged of choking soot
awaiting to fill a dreamer's hole.

Accept the young, 
they have not traversed the gorge 
left by dreamers old 
whose torrent thoughts erode.

Fill the young with placid manna 
lest they explode with alien notions,
thinking they're their own Saint George. 

Dreams - damn you !  
Lay not your head 
on my breast this day.

Free me, so I may see 
what our Nation antes up.

Those dull, brow bent 
cast of actors who hold the cup,
that keeps America hostage 
and wastes a dreamer's play.

Ronald C . Downie   

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Mayor Anne Jones

Pottstown's Mayor's Mayor, Nancy Anne Jones, will sorely be missed since she was thought of as our Town's most active cheerleader. Up until the inevitable end we all must go through, Anne, I'm sure, was still thinking about her hometown, Pottstown, until her final passing. Some dreams are bottomless.

I served with Anne on the school board when she was president and later, when she was Mayor, I was voted on Borough Council from the 5th Ward. She must hold some record for the number of years of public service that she served the citizens of Pottstown. Anne's public service transcended the normal tenure expected of a person. She was elected to it, she lived twenty four hours a day in her roll as Mayor. To Anne, service had no bounds.

Mayors have come and gone: some memorable, some forgotten. Their photographs are grouped together in a large assemblage that may be seen in Borough Hall. Mayor Jones will be difficult to forget for she left her imprint on so much of this, we refer to, as Pottstown.

In Loving Memory of Pottstown's Mayor's Mayor,

Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, June 7, 2014


An old geezer, my age (turning  80), should become alarmed when breath comes more difficult, heart rate increases, and eyes tear up which happened to me last night at my grandson, Ian Kurtz's, graduation services at Daniel Boone High School Stadium on a lovely late spring evening.

Ian Jacob Kurtz was really just starting his speech to his peers as their Valedictorian when he stated his speech would center around my poem, Song Tune, his favorite, which he then read aloud to the assembled. 

Hearing my poem, my signature poem, read to a crowd
of a couple thousand people sent chills up my spine. Ian chose for the theme of his Valedictorian speech the factor of time, the very essence of my poem, which he artfully wove into time's broader concepts that invades all facets of life. 

Ian's future and the future of the other 250 graduates of the Class of 2014 at Daniel Boone High School greatly  rests with each graduates' use or misuse of time. In my grandson's broad base voice, that commanded to be listened to, he spoke with a cadence many professional orators wish they had. His poise at the podium I marvel at. 

Is it any wonder that my breath, my heart rate, my tears reacted as they did ? In all this World, few if any, grandfathers are awarded with the glory of having a grandson honor him by using his signature poem as the focal point of an important speech to peers. 

My life, that has experienced numerous high points, as well as, corresponding lows has never risen to the height I've just written about. I must imagine where life will take Ian Jacob since in all likelihood I'll not experience in life his future. No matter, he has touched my inner soul, I am happy.

Ronald C. Downie

Friday, June 6, 2014

Cadence of Graduation

In Cap & Gown while Pomp & Ceramony sways 
Graduates until they occupy their seats assigned.

Assembled are passing from student to being citizen
With a pronouncement of the hallowed School Board.

Twelve years in coming through the anguish of tests and through the yearly regiment of alphabet seating.

Prepared for the future ? Will their eyes be forced open
To variables of modern day life that education skirts ?

College education or a starting wage job of low worth
Is their horizon. Luckily they'll survive an ordeal of 

Hope, that anguished gnawing eating away at one's 
Stomach in want of self improvement, a better life.

As cream, those whose consistency floated them,
Will still rise to the top in whatever is their pursuit. 

The vast assembly of non-floaters will remain as any 
Other fluid, by hook or crook, seeking their lowest level.

They are destined to become the silent majority, like 
Putty, to be molded by politicians into nodding serfs.

This is for those who have climbed out of the downward Spiraling whirlpool, you, who rise to float, not to sink.

You are entrusted with a fitful World, a dismal sphere ;
While others project the best years are ahead for us.

We must pray, rather you must work for the latter, so
Our Planet, a living organism, can rejuvenate itself.

Those who sing, sing ; the playing band, plays ; the 
Speakers, speak ; the ceremony of pomp, is over.

Spilling out, a new person arrises from ashes of youth.
In spite of it all, they will fill a role suitable for them.

Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, June 5, 2014

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

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sonnet 13

My Body Of Work 

When my finger becomes a stump from pecking away
On my iPad, with just the right hand pointing one ;
I look at my body of work, shrug my shoulders, pray
That I'm not as lame in ability as thought by some :

Then gathering myself, I think, -What The Sam Hell-
Am I doing out in this arena of original thought ?
Me, a boy of the soil, with pulsating words to tell
Audiences about education's purpose, as it's taught :

And then, a Scottish Highland stubbornness invades
My innards and rescues an inbred arrogance for life.
If not me, who the hell will write of grand parades,
Of awakening flowers, children, theirs, and my wife ?

However menial the task, it's the full effort given
Which measures a person's metal, sung by the liven.

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sonnet 23

Ideals From Ideas

When, from your basket of dreams you pull out
Thoughts from earlier years which laid out ideas
Not yet realized, sort of detoured, changed route.
Mentally churned many ideas mature into ideals :

Then, as always, years accumulate dimmed decades :
Raising family, building a career, avoiding ill health,
Hopefully attaining stature among piers. Accolades
Anemic statements, bring neither health nor wealth :

And then, the grandeur of an aging mind brings hope.
Earlier thoughts incubated over many years surface
To format a lifetime of wants, ideals ready to cope.
Now, after winning the battle of time, we save face.

If not from our mental cauldrons where do ideals
Come from ? Ultimate importance churns from ideas.

Ronald C. Downie

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Up or Down, Steps

When young, I never took one step at a time when in a hurry. I just wonder where that's gotten me when I think forward to today because, now, I have trouble climbing just one step let alone two or ten. What is the Word's fascination with steps ?

Living vertical has captured civilization ever since it's vast movement away from the village, away from the common fire pit. From the sprawl of abundant village space to the confinement of modern urban living, Man has taken a building's footprint and thrust walls upward in order to create space for people to live and work in. To utilize this upward space he created steps to enable his upward movement and, when steps weren't sufficient enough, he perfected the elevator with the sky becoming the limit. 

The aged's nemeses is steps but the World is inundated with steps throughout its inventory of space for life. No, I'm not suggesting getting rid of steps, that will never happen. But by watching the dynamics of human living, where an aged population is gaining in relation to other age percentages, steps are becoming less a necessity in their living space.

I am suggesting though, that more housing needs to be 
constructed for the growing population of elderly persons. For someone like me, an old guy on a walker who no longer can navigate a simple set of steps, steps seem everywhere. Try as we may, Connie and I,  seeking to move from our house we've lived in for 40 years here on Evans Street, are having trouble finding suitable housings. Our needs of no steps ( either out side or inside ), two bedrooms, in a safe and hopefully quiet neighborhood is not easily found. Mainly it's steps that disqualify many apartments we've looked at.  

Non- mobility has caught up with me before death could whisk me away from this all. Maybe it's time to rethink my life style and adjust my living so I can live out my time here. One thing that must change for this to happen is property taxation for education. I'll vote for Tom Wolf for governor because he vows to get rid of property taxes. Corbett feels like a guy with his heal on old peoples' throats, he shows little empathy for oldsters. "The Lord helps him who helps himself " may become my mantra for a time to come.

Ronald C. Downie