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Seared in memory: What were you doing on 9/11?

9/11: UA Flight 175 hits WTC south tower. (click to enlarge - photo by Robert J. Frisch. Use allowed under the terms of cc 2.0 Generic)

In my lifetime, there have arguably been three events considered show-stopping cultural icons; instances when, years later, someone might ask: “Where were you when … ?” or “What were you doing when … ?” The first was President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963. As a young boy not yet in school, I didn’t grasp […]

On Labor Day, a journalist cleans out his files of nuggets and gems

The dead man's hand: two pairs of aces and eights, the cards held by Wild Bill Hickock had when he was shot in 1876. (click to enlarge - Photo by Tage Olsin. Use allowed under CC 2.0 Generic)

A journalist’s research, fact-checking and interview leftovers often provide a treasure trove of information the public never sees. On any given week, I’m working on a handful of writing and editing assignments for a variety of publications. Periodically my files – both paper and automated – require purging. It’s something I like to do on […]

Caribbean wedding conundrum

What to do, what do do, when receiving a 5-figure wedding invite to an exotic locale such as St.Kitts, or, as above the Greek island of Skiathos, above? (Photo courtesy of Nick Karvounis, permission for use granted by CC 3.0)

A few years ago, I received an invitation to a wedding of some distant cousin-in-law taking place in the British Virgin Islands. It was the fourth such request I had received that year. My friend Bill happened to be the groom in one of these weddings. It didn’t escape me that in each of those […]

Zaftig zucchini, anyone?

A very, very large zucchini, (Click to enlarge. Photo by Lmbuga. Courtesy use permitted under the terms of CC 3.0 and GNU Free Documentation License, version 1.2)

A few days ago, I texted my friend Amanda (side note: a captain on U Maine’s cheerleading squad in the 1980s), and asked her how her famous gardens were doing, specifically her zucchini. Her answer back was telling: “I don’t do zukes because there are always fools like you growing them, and giving them away.” […]

Looking into the eyes of freedom

The Minuteman statue, by Daniel Chester French, at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Mass. (click to enlarge. Photo Courtesy od Dave Pape; released for unrestricted use in public domain)

Whenever I walk the Revolutionary battlefield in Concord, Mass., I’m heartened by our nation’s resilience. Studying the world-famous Minuteman statue, and on the same ground where, in the spring of 1775, a hastily formed American militia awaited King George’s troops, I can’t help but value the cost of freedom. This drive for liberty, however, was nothing […]

Father’s Day: Pitching to Jason

The author's son Jason, with his season baseball trophy, 1993. (click to enlarge - photo courtesy of author)

  Ten years ago, I sat down one afternoon to relax with Donald Hall’s classic book on sport, Fathers Playing Catch with Sons, one of my all-time favorites. While reading one of its essays, I was interrupted by the clicking of a computer keyboard from across the room. My son Jason, then in his first year of […]

Memorial Day: The loneliness of the funeral officer

The funeral offer presenting the next of kin's burial flag from the deceased veteran's casket. (Click to enlarge - US Navy photo in public domain)

In 430 B.C., after the first year of the Peloponnesian War – arguably history’s most devastating civil conflict, between Athens and Sparta – the Athenians gathered to bury their dead and hear a eulogy by the general and statesman Pericles. In what has been described as the paradigm for Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, he uttered these […]

Where have you gone, Bobby Fischer?

Bobby Fischer at his best: on the attack.(Click to enlarge. Photo in public domain; use allowed by CC 2.0)

Many years ago, while on vacation in Mallorca, I bought a chessboard, an inlaid mahogany slate with tournament-caliber playing pieces. The purchase was impulsive, and a nostalgic salute to my adolescent fervor for the royal game – along with an attempt to motivate myself back to regular play. While the latter never transpired, recently I came […]

Have a burger and some baseball, President Nixon!

1969: President Richard Nixon throwing out the first pitch at a Washington Senators game. (Click to enlarge. Photo by Walter K. Leffler, donated to the Library of Congress and released for unconditional use in public domain).

Some time ago, a friend from South Portland sent me a collection of historical political articles. One of the pieces included a 1983 interview with President Richard Nixon. It reminded me of Watergate’s disgrace, but also of overshadowed deeds, to include opening China to the West, exiting Vietnam, signing the first arms control treaty with the […]

Good fences make good neighbors

"Good fences make good neighbors" is one of the English language's most recognized phrases, from Robert Frost's 1914 poem, "Mending Wall." (Click to enlarge - photo by Sarang, released for unconditional use in public domain)

I was 13 when I first read Robert Frost’s Mending Wall, and it changed me forever. That verse began my love affair with writing. As National Poetry Month is now upon us, it’s worth recalling how Frost inspired me to pick up a pencil every day and draft my inner thoughts on paper. At that […]