Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Where Are The Democrats

Pottstown is situated at the very western edge of Montgomery County closely boarded by the Counties of Berks and of Chester. Too often Pottstown seems effected more by what happens in the capitols of these adjoining counties than it does in the happenings of its own Capitol, Norristown. Do you remember some years ago when Pottstown swung from being Republican led to becoming Democratically controlled ? Then, not as far back, the unthinkable happened. The county went from forever being Republican to that unthinkable thing of being Democratic. What has our western, "out of sight - out of mind",town done with this change ?

The county seat holds most of the trump cards for care of citizens in its boundaries. The homeless, section eight, welfare, mentally ill, revitalization are just some of the duties the county is responsible for to some varying degree. It isn't enough to just build new buildings here to service the needy, the county must not allow their services rendered degrade our town. 

When was the last time you read about a county commissioner coming to Pottstown to tackle a problem Norristown created ? Has Pottstown submitted itself to believing "out of sight - out of mind" is our role in life forever. Do we demand voice at Commissioner's meetings ? Our Democratic Party in power has votes in its pocket that they count at the county level but no one seems to use them properly. In fact, who is their party boss these days ? 

Left alone in the western wilderness will get us nowhere but, a person with a sack of votes in his or her pocket, can demand a hearing. Politics is not for the faint of heart, it is always local. I suggest, Democrats regroup, choose a czar who can be the informed leader of our western town, a leader who has standing in Norristown and gumption enough not to take no for an answer. 

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, July 28, 2014

Problem Solving

Have you heard about a philosophy professor who used a glass as a prop in a classroom discussion about resolving problems ? I'm not sure if the professor was, Teri Lyn, our locally grown prof, but I can picture her doing this.

Let's say it was Teri Lyn and as she reached the podium her class quieted except for some class clown who is rarely quiet. He blurted out to his buddies, "Get a load of this : she's carrying a glass of water which is either half full or half empty. Not again! She's worn out the philosophy behind half full / half empty too many times."

Teri lyn, being wise to lecture shenanigans, was ready for the surprise she had in store for the class. Turning to her loud mouthed student, handing him the glass of water, she readied herself to lecture on the theme of problems. Looking at her student with the glass, she said : "I'm not speaking about half full / half empty today, but rather, I want to establish the weight of the water in the glass. That is the problem. Have you the answer ?"

The joaker holding the glass told her it is six or eight ounces but she smiled stating, oh! that's just a guess. Keep your arm holding the glass up and out stretched as best you can, she chided him. After another ten minutes or so lecturing, she turned again to the fellow holding the glass and ask him if the water has gotten any heavier. Straining more and more to hold the glass straight out, he said, something is happening, it sure feels heavier.

Up to her gameplan, Teri Lyn, used his reply as the rest of her lecture's focus. Just like any problem : the longer it goes on, the heavier it becomes. There is little to gain and too much to lose by not resolving a problem quickly. The loud mouthed guy could have asked for a scale to weigh the glass with and without the water to ascertain the water's weight, but he didn't. The problem went on by doing nothing and got weightier and weightier as time passed. 

Most of us realize problems occur and generally we solve them quickly ; but some others never resolve their  problems. They just linger and linger and fester and fester until they become a weight around the neck of the  person with the problem. The weight becomes ever heavier and heavier.

Look at the Middle East : Whose God is Holier ? Mine or yours ? For thousands of years this problem has captured the fertile minds of youth who get early indoctrinated by their elders. Urged to fight and kill, if necessary, those who don't think as they do. In a World soon to be of eight billion inhabitants should any life be simply squandered ? The next Einstein or Salk or Shakespeare could be found in the casualties of death. What a waste ! Just solve the damn problems, now !

Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Banana Republics

Never since my earlier days in Pottstown schools have I heard so much of Central American Countries than I have lately with their children coming north to the USA. The horrors that account for the trips north, we're told, stem from outrageous conditions found in their home countries. Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras are countries, I vaguely recall in school, that were referred to as banana republics. They have been governed by oligarchs who have gained their wealth from foreign businesses who exploit a country's natural resources and pay huge tributes in cash to the oligarch leaders of these Banana Republics.

Today the USA is paying for the tragedy of a hundred years of plunder as these three impoverished countries are sending north their only remaining treasure, their youth. Poverty is such a harsh task master. The glaring tragedy is The United States becoming more like a third world country than they are becoming more like us. This is the oligarch effect which promotes governance by wealth rather than honor, always wealth begetting more wealth and with wealth more power. 

How do we care for our, The United States' treasure, our youth? Borrowing a line from a poem of Elizabeth Barrett Browning : "How do I love thee ? Let me count the ways." How about you doing the counting, keeping the record, adding your own input. How do we love them? Let us count the ways. 

Do we honor and love them by educating our young with the best there is to offer? Fifty years since schools were desegregated, and yet today, do you sense any segregation ? Fifty years ago it was a black / white issue ; today, add in a green issue, the power of money. Wealthy districts in the suburbs seem to never be without funding, but urban districts stressed under poverty are forever wanting. Is this unconditional love ?
After educating our country's best in college we saddle them with obscene debt for many stressed years to come. It's oligarchs who devised such harsh loan repayments. They are the devious captains of capital. 

I think a loving attitude toward youth would certainly require children be fed an adequate nutritious diet. The oligarchs of corporate agriculture think differently. They press for more unsaturated fats and sugars in their mass produced products which drives up consumption but disregards nutrition with obesity rampant.

Love would suggest every child feel safe wherever and whatever they are doing especially while they're in school. But rather, because of the insistence of gun oligarchs, firearms are, in their minds, a necessity to be owned and displayed in everyone's household. To the gun lobby, children are thought no more than young bunnies, so what, that they are also dazzled when caught in the headlights. Love must trump mayhem or humanity will decline completely into the deep depths of tribalism. 

Knowing the young have only one limited currency at their disposal, that of "hope", they are trapped struggling against the massed wealth of an army of oligarchs. Once young themselves, oligarchs, who lost the honor of hope found excitement in power, in the sale of money, in the obscene issuance of credit based on deception, they feel power is their God. 

Life in the Banana Republics is harsh, it is harrowing. Any glimmer of hope must be pursued even if it is sending children north to the dream called The USA. In their lives death becomes commonplace because all hope has been squeezed out of living. Opportunity from the value of the sale of natural resources was squandered long ago so now there are no resources left to invest in the citizens nor infrastructure which could support jobs for the populous. 

Hope, for all, squandered is a dire omen for any country which can't get their act together. Do you like me get a chill up your spine when the news is read ?

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wedge Issues

Way back then, mid 1940's, post WW2, Ringing Hill.
Here from hills overlooking Harmonyville, Chester Co.
Moved into our new two story home on N. Keim St.
Early spring before leaves unfolded summer's form.

A wooded lot demands certain tools for grooming :
An ax for sure, a grind stone to sharpen it, a saw, 
Not any old saw, a man's saw, well really, a two man
Saw to fell tall trees blocking out all the sun light.

Dad had a garden in mind and gardens need sunshine
And he'd have sun no matter what. "Timber" echoed 
That spring. Save the house, save the chicken pen 
Turned into our tool shed, don't drop it on the car.

Gathering more tools for the job, Dad read about 
Felling trees the proper way. Sight the desired drop
Line, notch the tree trunk with an axe two foot up 
From the ground anticipating the path tree is to fall.

A two man saw takes team work, once started each person
manning opposed ends must only pull the saw 
To them and relax when your team mate pulls back.
Pushing back is a no-no and only causes buckling up.

It's called pinching when the weight of the tree 
Exerts down pressure on saw blade stopping sawing.
Then a wedge must be inserted in the cut to spread
The saw line gap so pinching stops, cutting continues.

Those wedge issues were simple compared to today's.
Politicians try to spread citizens apart over hotly 
Contested topics : abortion, contraceptives, taxes,
Gay rights, segregation, wealth disparity, and debt.

The wedge to the tree was for a corrective action ;
For politicians, wedge issues are designed cancerous,
They are to slowly fester while gathering up speed 
To do the most harm, monkey wrenches of discontent.

When a tree falls its branches are removed first,
The trunk is cut up in lengths suitable for stacking,
Then stacked loosely so they dry out for more easy
Splitting into useable pieces, in our case was bon fires.

Summer memories were of Jersey relatives arriving
For vacations with tents tied to their old car roofs.
A sight similar to a religious tent meeting popped up  
In our wooded back yard, our vegetable garden used.

Rarely seen today would be a tent city sight, except
What we've all seen on television, viewing "Occupy" 
As well as me. Kindred spirited people are gathering
Not unlike relatives did in my youth. The web of life.

A hunk of pie shaped iron, four inch tapering down to
A quarter inch a foot long, sledge hammered smartly 
Into a cut or later used to split the logs fire ready,
Is the main reason to have a wedge when logging.

The wedge is a very valuable tool to fell trees or split
pieces for burning. Wedge issues are opposite.
They are surfaced to fell cooperation while splitting
The masses into rigid positions free of compromise.

Ronald C. Downie

Friday, July 11, 2014

Facebook Friends

Recently I acquired a few more friends on Facebook so I'm inviting all of them to read my postings on my blog -

Much of what I blog, if short enough, I also post on Facebook for all to read. Don't get me wrong, since I've started writing, I've always stated that I write for my own enjoyment and if anyone reads it I'm especially happy. 

Living in and around Pottstown for all but 80 years and accomplished most everything I've tackled, except being healthy and ambulatory at this age, I urge all others to take up writing. For me, writing is therapeutic by its insistence on keeping the mental juices flowing. The stimulation that writing forces the brain to do keeps the brain from atrophying into dementia. You all know the symptoms. Try writing to ward them off.

Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Seems Brazil read their press clippings over and over until they thought that by just taking the field they had won the game. Germany, though, seems not to have read Brazil's clippings. Instead Brazil experienced a modern day "Blitzkrieg" of epic proportions, a serious humiliation. Soccer, the sport, football to most other  countries of the World, will speak of the Brazil / Germany game forevermore. One positive outcome will be an American acceptance of the game which will reach into our school systems and spread soccer more rapidly throughout the country. We'll continue to worship baseball, basketball, and football until the era of big money corrupts these key sports beyond repair and, maybe than, soccer could gain broad acceptance here in the USA. 

Ronald C. Downie

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Our "Floundering Phillies" can truly prove they're as poor as they are by just analyzing the score cards of their games played. Statistics, though, don't answer all the questions. I wonder how, after all the time players spend learning the game of baseball as they age, can they arrive in Philadelphia and seem baseball brain dead when given a chance to play. Could they be mostly of low intelligence ?

Not being privy to IQ tests, I must turn to some other life indicators which could give me some additional insight into a players intelligence. One of these indicators may be found in a player's jaw. Show me a player with his jaw stuffed full of a chaw of tobacco and I'll show you someone, in my mind, low in intelligence. Medicine has shown the World the ills of tobacco whether chewed or smoked and someone who ignores the science has a definite deficiency in mental acuity.
Watch the players who do all the spitting and you'll see those who have their minds on their chaw rather than the game. Maybe you are a true fanatic and believe the Phillies are forever champions. Good for you, take a pinch and put it below you lips on your gums and mellow out. Cancer cares less who it attacks !

Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Roll On, Parade, Move On

Arrived at Borough Hall at 10 AM, got the last handicap
parking space, shuffled to the flag pole where we settled in lawn chairs on the brick walk for the long wait. 
Waiting for a parade to unfurl and arrive at our viewing space is expected by us so people watching is our interest until the street becomes alive with paraders. The sprinkles which came down early made many unfold their umbrellas but it mostly subsided before the parade action arrived where we sat.  

Patriotism extended its heart as viewers rose to their feet, uncovered their heads, and saluted the first marching unit of uniformed personnel leading the parade. We expected and really appreciated the display of military motor vehicles which followed. 

A Pottstown Fourth of July Parade would not seem right without numerous fire companies participating. This year, though, it happened. Amity's huge truck pulled out of line, sounded full blast its siren, and headed west in the east bound lane passing about half of the parade in its duty to fight a fire in the fire house's district. A couple of West Pottsgrove units followed suit shortly after. 

I my mind, the "Best of Show" went to the outfit from  Macungie who stole the show with their miniature cars that went like "a bat out of hell" and did some trick maneuvers along with their speed. Maybe, it was the weather, but I expected more floats in the parade. The bagpipers, though dwindling in numbers, still send chills up and down my spine as my ancestry shows through.
Everyone enjoys the Boyertown Alumni Band as the calliope steamed the parade to a close.

A surprise to me and, I imagine to most viewers, it seems like a battle royal has begun. Moving in unison down the street, we always expect large groups of political supporters working the crowds with paper handouts, and we weren't disappointed this year. It wasn't this, though; it was the battle of the print media between The Mercury and The Reading Eagle.

I can't ever remember The Reading Eagle entering the The Mercury's domaine, especially, in such an in your face presence; namely, in a parade, a truly Pottstown tradition. I once asked the Eagle about delivery here and their reply was that they wouldn't deliver into Pottstown and start a war with the Mercury and we don't expect them to enter our territory. Boundaries set,  seem now to be erased. The Mercury, for the first time, made its presence felt by being a parade participant. I doubt if this is the Pearl Harbor of WW3 but it is certainly firing some softening shots by both sides. How this unfolds will define our area for a long time coming and I lust, in my dwindling years, for its outcome.

Ronald C. Downie

Friday, July 4, 2014


Who were those men 
Who used their pens
On words to liberate
Our Nation ?

First : A Declaration,
Then : A Constitution, 
Followed by : A Bill Of Rights.

Pinning their hopes 
On a New Nation :
"The United States Of America"
Evolved from just common people.

Today the common 
Has turned 
Into the uncommon.

They were all immigrants,
All from foreign stock,
Seeking a fresh start.

As all men seem able
To inflict harm,
Native Americans were 
Crushed over time.

Their stories have yet 
To be fully developed.

Congress, as they matured into
Full blooded, self proclaimed Americans,
Now champion exclusion over inclusion, 
Not unlike a drop of blood, color coded our Nation.

The further one moves away from its roots,
The more callous rank imperialism surfaces.

Our fragile planet is under attack.
Will its demise come from within or 
From some element beyond our viewing ?

I once thought "No Way",
But now, I am suspect of an internal source
Festering within which could be the end of us.

No longer, do we as a Nation, seem principled.
"The Love of Money" is a lust for power;  
It has turned us, as a Nation, 
Into a bunch of schemers.

Neither the farmer, nor merchant, nor businessman 
Of olden times will come back, so we're saddled 
With what we got. You, who are our informed 
Electorate, must react by seeking congressmen 
Of old school traditions rather than modern day
"Greed Is Good" mentality. 

Therefore, (keeping in Revolutionary twang),
These words I pen are dedicated to our Nation, to 
Its citizens, to its paraders, and to parade viewers.
Furthermore, these words are especially dedicated to our daughter, Heather, who was born on this date and whose family, no matter how far flung in the World they travel, are here dedicated.

Ronald C. Downie