Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Wrath of War

Will there be a time when WAR will be the only way America gets its economy rolling ? When that day comes, there goes the World as we know it.

I envision a black robed, bearded, old man leaning on a scythe, his free arm extended heavenward holding in his hand a bolt of lightening. He is ready to launch this bolt everywhere on our Earth.

Masses, fervently in prayer, huddled on their knees, and, in a unison voice, can be heard : " Lord, oh Lord ! Forgive the ignorant for they know not what they do ! "

A "Nuclear Winter", as it culminates all over the World, brings death of unimaginable voracity to all living organisms. Escape is a "fools gold"
when radiation invades every aspect of life and all life forms. There is no "Marshall Plan" that can alleviate the aftermath.

No ! We cannot just "forgive the innocent" for they have been entrusted by our electorate with preserving our union from outward intrusion or from internal disorder.

No longer is the work of planetary politics a game, it is to be dogged work, day in and day out, to move the country into a position that, at the end of each day, America is closer to becoming "A More perfect Union" in spite of adversities.

This, our leaders have pledged upon taking their Oath of Office. They must, at all cost, be held to their solum duty. They may not be allowed to ignore "The Grim Reaper" poised over the World to unleash his bolt of utter destruction on our World.

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Brother Andrew Downie

My only sibling Andrew (Andy) was born in 1930 on May 30th just north of New York City in Tarrytown, as I understand. I was born on February 6, 1935 in Elmsford, New York. Andy's and my first homes were located in this area of New York because both Mom's and Dad's families immigrated from Scotland; Mom's from Dundee, Dad's from Glasgow. Mom's family settled in Bayonne, New Jersey, Dad's in New York around the area where Andy and I were born. Both families settled in ethnic conclaves of Scots though in Dad's location there was a much more concentration of Scottish than in Bayonne, NJ.

Independent of each other they both booked passage back to Scotland for a vacation sometime in the late 1920's. They met aboard ship in a storybook romance and their desires became realities when they got back home. The distance between Bayonne and Tarrytown was considerable so their courting was a long distance affair but marriage was its outcome with Andy and I coming along later. As a married couple they settled in New York State joining the other Scottish settlers living there. Football ( soccer ) was the rage for young men and Dad joined his brothers in playing for the Partick Thistle, a local club in an amateur league.

Along came a calamity, The Great Depression, and no work was to be had. Dad, a journeyman draftsman, lost his position and only found part time work in an A&P lugging baskets of fruit around until he was sidelined by a burst appendices. As he recovered all "want ads" were read and reread, over and over. Bethlehem Steel, in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, was in want of experienced draftsmen, Please Apply ! He did, got a job, and in the summer of 1934, with Mom pregnant with me, he came alone to Pottstown to work, and after a day's work, looked for a place to bring his young family here.

Like all young families around this time, especially those without family in the area, we rented and moved, rented and moved, from one school to the next. Brother Andy, we think, went to every school in the town. I lucked out because, by the time I entered school, our family was fairly stable in a house they were purchasing on Houck Road in Chester County. Andy and I went to Warwick School, a 12 grade school on Route 23, in Warwick.

Tragedy struck Andy at a young age : he went to his school buddy's farm to help mow grass and an adjoining hayfield. His friend of similar age was operating the old tractor equipped with a scissors cutting bar which reached out about eight feet. As the tractor moved forward this cutter bar out to the right would activate like a scissors during a cutting activity. Andy walked on the wrong side of the tractor to talk to his buddy and trying to retreat both feet got cut in the heels. The cuts were into the bone but thank goodness weren't high enough to sever the Achilles' tendons. Needless to say, Andy never was the fast runner he was before the accident. He and Dad had similar body frames, Dad's from a longtime running playing soccer. Andy's injury didn't keep him from joining the Navy during Korea at an age shy of twenty.

Our parents sold the house on Houck and bought one in Lower Pottsgrove on North Keim Street. When arriving there, I went to Lower Pottsgrove Elementry up on the hill on Pleasantview Road and Andy went in to Pottstown to Junior High School. We both graduated from Pottstown High School.

This is a glance at my family in the early years. Brother Andy would have been 87 today had he lived. He retired as a professor of The English Language from the New Jersey college system after teaching English for half a century. Though we were four and a half years separated in age, we both revered each other for what each of us had done with our lives. Brotherly love is a type of endearment needing little association between the individuals. It spans both time and space in a strange way. Rather than feelings it is more of a sense of being that allows substance between siblings without direct contact, it is what they call family.

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, May 29, 2017

"What goes around, comes around"

Life has ways to create parallels ; just compare me and, how at my age, I'll be treated by the number crunchers putting together this year's budget. Promises be damned ; Social Security and Medicaid, Trump promised will not be cut. His proposed budget blatantly cuts what ? You guested right, Social Security and Medicaid. Bingo !

---Those in authority decided me, this old invalid bird is expendable, so if he needlessly dies, so what ? The rich need more bobbles to show off so, give them another tax cut ! The poor super rich need more and more money to have to buy elections.

A parallel is the Borough of Pottstown : post depression, pre-WW 2, Pottstown citizen's roll was long stable. Her industry was small businesses, employment was alright, her economic muscle was flexing, she saw few green lights in sight, but she was ripe for a change.

Then something happened : the great World War 2 spun into action. War is a glutton for the implements of carnage and the infusion of federal dollars for the defense industrial complex which lusted after machines and factories that arrived like a stampede in Pottstown and were like mana from heaven during the Big War.

Then - victory - swept the World : the Greatest Generation came home, fathers, brothers, aunts and uncles, all seeking good jobs ; factories large and small stuffed within their walls employees, especially ex-GI's, since the government subsidized their wages. Pottstown's population swelled to 32,000 people. Building homes and necessary public infrastructure seemed unstoppable. The suburbs ballooned : work, wages, taxes flowed ; we were the unquenchable engine of economic muscle for the county who sought our endorsement.

Watch out, "What goes up, must come down", the terrible '70's lit on Pottstown and her surrounds like a plague. One after another company either downsized or sold out. This pulsating industrial area began flaming out, taxes to the county dried up, and the borough's population kept declining until it now is about 22,000 people. Pottstown beware, the long knives of politicians want to carve a declining town into eatable bites. Resist and persist must become a town's motto.

But, it's the way Pottstown was perceived by citizens of the county and surrounding communities which told a tail, a tail I was familiar with, a tail similar what had happened to me. When a town or a person grows old and run down after a lifetime of work both seem to be expendable. Unlike, a person who is just laid to rest, a town must continue on, must allow itself to be rebuilt, must adopt new
leaders who think revitalization. But, politics play a vital roll. Just as with people who, during their life, created jobs and hired workers, but now, are old and in firmed and now are expendable ; towns can be revitalized and returned to high income producing engines.

On this Memorial Weekend work to make "Pottstown Great Again"!

Ronald C Downie

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Posted Poet Talks

I am without a framework which specifically defines my life to date. I was fairly successful at sports but not great. Played a lot of games of different sports : captained in high school, presented the game ball for play against arch rival, played in championship games, at least twice, noted for some super drives and poorer putts. Neon light games, like darts, came my way when the legs wore out. For a time arm wrestling contested my interest. Feats of brute strength followed me during my working days.

Civic responsibilities cropped up and grabbed me for duty. Owning a business allowed me the time and opportunity to serve the community.
Board member and president of : American Businessmen Club, Building Industry Exchange, Schuylkill River Greenway Association, Carousel At Pottstown.

As well as, elected : Pottstown School Board, one four year term ; Pottstown Borough Council, two four year terms ; Pottstown Borough Authority, two four year terms, chairman four years.

Honors : Elk of the Year ; Pottstown's First Grand Marshall ; Schuylkill River Park Amphitheater, named and dedicated in my honor ;
Pottstown School District, Alumni Association, class 1953 Honoree.

I've been asked to read some of my poetry works in southeastern Pennsylvania over the last forty years. And, since now I'm essentially disabled and unable to walk without support, I've taken up blogging as this epistle demonstrates. I feel I've filled my available time with positive constructive things during my 82 years on this planet. I love to talk but I find few to talk to these days. Thanks for being attentive.

Ronald C. Downie---The Posted Poet---
"Drunkenness without wine", just let that sink in, "Drunkenness without wine". It's a very chilling vision, improbable but self fulfilling.

Looking back to the early 1930's in Germany, this concept swept throughout the rest of Europe as their citizens questioned the attitude of the German electorate who voted in Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Knowledge Loosed Again

Inequity seemingly lasts forever that brings with it harsh biases which, even time, can't easily dispel. The Great Religions of this World sort of fit this description, especially, in the way proponents treat women, or artifacts, or revered sites. From the Middle East, the oil capitol of the World and the caldron of tribal beliefs steeped in antiquity, comes a plethora of religions that have demeaned females as second class citizens even to this day. 

It is inconceivable to me that in this 21st Century over one half of the World's population but 100% of the World's birth mothers do not have equal rights as do their male counterparts. Religion is a construct of males dating deeply back into the past of humans evolving on this planet. I surmise, male supremacy rose from the fact of male physical stature which acknowledged the idea of "might makes right". This maybe held true in the hunter's World but, today, does not hold water. 

Evolving at an accelerating rate humans will quickly in the scale of humanity throw off the shackles that imprisons him. Tribes need to go. Females will assert themselves. Antiquities will move into the museum to be viewed but not worshiped. The information age will mature and knowledge will become "the king of the hill" once more.

Ronald C. Downie

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Arrogance of Ignorance 

Lack of knowledge, learning, information, etc. is a broad definition of ignorance. Ignorance seems to pervade our country- big time- these days. Once, at the beginning of our country, when settlers were on the move, self preservation was the driving thrust of existence. Kill or be killed was the coin of the realm with survival knowledge and good luck, working in unison, to secure a safer future. 

But, as settlers developed communities they sought the strengths brought by immigrants from European heritages to their new homes as they grew more civilized. Knowledge through learning was a key stone of this new structure, as was, the rule of law. 

Arrogance is an offensive display of superiority or self-importance, overbearing pride. Certainly some gun slingers fit this description but, as more and more moved west, slinger's gusto was not equal to the stories told about them. 

Harbored in the ghettoes of this World at this present time, a couple decades into the 21st Century, are pockets of deeply underserved citizens who have been been left behind. They lack the mental tools to lift them away from their plight and, more and more, cause their offspring to have a similar cross to bear. Ignorance, in the 21st Century, is a plague, a self inflicted plague, as well as, a plague orchestrated by the moneyed and powerful who see the effects of poor education but yet seem to ignore its causes. 

This truly is an example of "The Arrogance of Ignorance" bright and clear. Will we ever correct the conditions bringing ignorance to too many ? But, a more insidious result is surfacing in our World. More and more a dumbed down populous is satisfied with being awash in the throws of ignorance. They, by their attitude, allow the oligarchs to pidgin hole them into servitude, and worst of all, their offspring are drug down with them. The Lord of the Castle now has a serfdom to rule over, an intergenerational serfdom. 

 First, we should aggressively ferret out those in control who, though educated, are the perpetrators of this inequity. In them lies the scourge of arrogance, of overbearing pride. Secondly, we must have pre-kindergarten through four years of college as a goal for all citizens on this planet. And, the best and brightest must be chosen by each country to lead this endeavor in their respective countries. Not a want but education is a need to stamp out ignorance. It is a battle and must be fought as it was a war. 

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What's In A Name

Forever, in all my 82 years, I've been watching the by-lines, credit lines, for movies and anywhere else names were listed that I could read to find the name Downie listed. Yes, I did find Leonard Downie, executive Editor of The Washington Post, before he retired from the post. He's not a relative.

All of a sudden, while watching channel 507, abc, this evening just after 6pm, a piece on Phillippi Creek Estates was aired and a commentator for The Estates was named Heather Downie the same name Connie, my wife, and I named our oldest daughter. Heather, an elementary grade school teacher at Lincoln, is renovating the old homestead on Evans to live there where she and her siblings grew up and attended Pottstown Schools through graduation. 

I did find Uncle Malcolm's linage up in New England and have corresponded with them. Alexander, my Dad, had three younger brothers : Malcolm, Andrew, and Hugh. I've lost contact with both Andrew's offspring, as well as, Hugh's. My recollection is that his youngest brother, Hugh, moved many score years ago to Florida with his family still intact. Maybe, Heather Downie is an offspring of Hugh's family, far fetched at best, but is a Nobel thought.

Few and far fetched are people named "Downie" that I've come across. Somebody once told me Downie is derived from the term "crooked nose". Could be true in my case since I was, in my hay days, a real rugged character. My farmer's strength came naturally to me and I exhibited it more than once in the early days. 

My favorite professor, my brother Andrew, has passed and our quarter of the family's linage rests in his and mine offspring. I got an idea where Malcolm's are and maybe even Uncle Andrew's whose only child was a son Andrew like my brother. Young Andrew we believed to be living  in Red Bank, NJ. So, if the Downie connection is maybe our family, it would probably be my Uncle Hugh's offspring. 

For an old bastard like me this is a good way to spend an afternoon thinking about family. It was merely a few seconds on the television screen that took me here. At 82, what else do you think I can do ?

Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Looking for a  Swamp Hog

Looking back, I vividly see my senior high school years when the school was situated on Penn Street between Chestnut and Walnut St's during the early 1950's. Neat being downtown for most kids but, I lived in Lower Pottsgrove on North Keim Street a couple miles from school, so most every thing required extensive walking to attend anything extracurricular. Walking, when in your teens, was just a fact of life which consumed some time. 

The Swamp Hogs was a high school recreation league basketball team informally lead by Ed Gibble, yes, the same Eddie Gibble who is the Prudential Insurance man. Games were played in the basement of the High School along Penn Street in a large, high ceilinged room we schoolers took our gym classes in. It was outfitted for basketball by having standard 10 foot high baskets at either end and a modicum of traditional lines, though awfully faded, painted on the floor. Out of bounds was generally called if the basketball touched a wall, in fact, the area was better used for dodge ball which we constantly played in our gym classes without incurring any out of bounds. It didn't matter wether a player or a ball bounced off the walls, the game continued on.

Today, from Washington, DC., comes the chant of "the draining the swamp" by the president. I guess, meaning : cleaning out the people varmints living there who are living off the excesses which seems to permeate life in our Capitol. A study of news these days sort of indicates D.C. is overrun with swamp hogs, swamp rats, swamp snakes, and swamp 'gaters all wallowing in the muddy waters of our present political system. 

Back in high school, I never thought the steward young men I played against would have to carry a derogatory name at these last stages of their lives. Being  a Swamp Hog back then was an honor just because it was a super name, very descriptive. Even to this date Eddie, a super salesman, promoted Swamp Hogs his whole life, more in jest these days than in reality. Never did he think the nature of swamps would change especially in the derogatory way it has been demeaned these days. 

Yes, I believe the Swamp must be drained and the first to be flushed down the drain would be the perpetrator of the idea. Remember, you have to cut off the head of any varmint you wish to eliminate. Swamp Hogs were a good bunch of guys but the guys I played with on my team were good too. The trouble is, I've forgotten my team's name and players' names to old age since we didn't have a memorable name like "Swamp Hogs" that you can't forget. For olden time's sake !

Ronald C. Downie, Class of 1953

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Curb Appeal 

Street curbs are designed to contain the street and its users. The majority of street trash accumulates there in the curb line for sweepers like Daisy Paolucci and other town persons who feel civic responsibility for a clean town. They broom sweep even though the town contracts truck born sweepers to clean the streets. These, town civic minded sweepers, have a calling rather than a duty placed on them by others. 

Curb lines have quite a history. Back, before passable alleys, all garbage collections were situated there. Every type of container was used before the borough tried its hand at imposing standardization. Remember, in olden days, every household burnt coal as wood availability declined, in either case, both created volumes of ash which were put out at the curb as part of the trash cycle. Then, the country grew up and packaging became a volume trash maker for everything bought from stores and shippers. More and more trash created as, just in time, alleys where considered important and trash disappeared from view - out of sight, out of mind.

I remember from my early years, about out site seeing, with dad driving us through a town and seeing very large piles of furniture stacked on the curb line for a house and I asked about why this was. Dad assured us that incidences like this had diminished greatly since the wrath of the Great Depression had about its run course in the late years of the 1930's. Evictions were life episodes, although diminishing, life lines were fragile, at best, and many ceased at the curb line. The Great World War changed the way Americans reacted to life. Curative, full employment, was a pill for social ills.

For Sale, For Lease, For Rent - signs became common place ; the curb line became more prominent as a function in the design of streets and, finally, assumed their rightful place in a borough's landscape.

My thoughts, though, bring me back to youthful feelings about the roll of curbs. Too often I squint faces into the piles of disposed furniture from evictions long forgotten. Will this happen again ? Will citizens be marginalized again from their inability to pay for housing or for basic healthcare ? Will the funnel remain reversed and draw all increased income from the American engine of production up, away from the producers, into the deepening pockets of our oligarchs ? 

Will curb lines up north become clogged with the destitute population as it has down here on the sun coast of Florida ? How will the old, the in firmed, the immobile be treated ? I know, I'll expire shortly, so don't cry for me, save your tears for those with few resources, who have to live life out there behind a tree. 

Ronald C. Downie 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Spanish Point

In coastal waters, early man sought food
Delivered by tides that rose and then fell ; 
Almost like a huge organism breathing, 
Unless upset, by storm induced fury.

Shellfish by the buckets, the earthen mounds 
Sing out loudly to our generations.
Facts needn't be expressed only on paper.
Unwittingly, "The Assent Of Man" strides.

Did sunsets enter into early life ?
Did early natives begin drum circles ?
Did they hollow out logs for their canoes ?
Life evolves, goes on, believing in self.  

Seeking answers from ancestors long gone.
Who lived their lives suppressing wants, while needs,
Pressed each day's hours seeking eatables.
Existing, they survive today by deeds 

Unaware of their affects left behind.
No Bible was written about them, then.
Inquisitive, modern man scales the walls 
Recording what he thinks about the past.

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

May Day, May Day, May Day !!!

Not lately, do I see colorful crepe 
Paper steamers twirling in sun warmed air, 
Hung from a tall flag pole, centered out front.
Music's a must, if not a radio, records. 

Through the magic of memory, many
Years disappear, seventy-five long ones. 
The golden time of youthful impression,
Elementary school, up there, top the  hill.

May First, May Day, somewhere begins summer,
Somewhere, end of winter. Pivotal day
In the scheme of seasons, not calendar. 
Hair combed, the girls interweave the streamers.

Grumbling, the boys reluctantly pitch in,
As teachers play conductor-director.
All look forward to that last bell, "School's Out".
Time, as a vine, withers as it's climbing.

Young impressionable days dissipate 
Into the far off zephyrs of heaven.
Lost, but to be resurrected for thee, 
By me, pulled from temporal recesses.

Ronald C. Downie