So, here I am waiting for my follow-up exam after my cataract surgery on my left eye, on April 27. A week, and one day ago, to be precise. It’s 9 o’clock in the morning, and I’m happy to be here. More like delighted, but then I have been accused by my lovely wife of operating on the “giddy” side lately. Fine, I’m giddy, and with good reason. I can see ever-so clearly now, with my left eye. And I’m counting down to the same procedure on my right eye, in less than a week, at 9:15 a.m. on May 11. Anyway, I am becoming something of a morning person as a result of these early appointments. I was an early riser as a kid, and now that I am reverting to childhood, it’s time to slip on back to that good habit. Plus, when my eyes are healed, and the lake is warm, I’ll be rising early for open-water swims by dawn’s early light. There are few if any boats out at that time, and the light is sublime, and I just received my bright orange tow float, so I’m ready and willing, once I get the green light from Dr. Cooke and Mother Nature. Speaking of the latter, we birded by dawn’s dim light on Tuesday with some friends who are accustomed to getting out during spring migration at 5 a.m. at the latest. So this early rising thing is starting to sink in. And, by the way, I did just fine without glasses birding the Chikaming Township Park & Preserve on Warren Woods Road. I could see clearly through the binoculars, and the scope, and, yes, I got a really good look at the heron rookery out on the back 40 of the preserve. And, by looking at the various sandpipers through a scope with my “good” eye, I could readily see the difference between the greater and lesser varieties. Oh, and now back to Great Lakes Eye Care where I just spoke with Dr. Cooke. He gave me high marks and said my new lens is correctly positioned and that I am focusing effectively with my left eye. He expects the same great results with my right eye, next week. And, he was pleased to receive previous entries of this journal and said he would read it with professional interest. Dr. Cooke cares deeply about his patients, and he clearly wants us to do well with our new lenses. And, yes, he had a good chuckle when I told him about my adventures at the monastery painting party on May 1. So, yes, this has been a great visit, and I happily agreed to have my left eye photographed and thus become part of a study to see how the PanOptix® Lens performs for patients. Mine is certainly working well for me, and I want to help Dr. Cooke help others.
This is my first Monday shopping trip without glasses. EVER!!! I do not exaggerate, because I wore glasses for more than 30 years, and we began our weekly Monday shopping trips less than 30 years ago. So I went forth every Monday, with Natalie at my side, depending on first bifocals, and then trifocals, to get me from one store to another. And then along the backroads of Berrien County, Michigan, and sometimes the roads-less-traveled in neighboring LaPorte County, Indiana. But not this Monday. No, on this the first Monday of May 2021, I am going forth without glasses. Just a new multi-focal lens in my left eyes and the old, clouded natural lens in my right eye. No worries, right? Right, because I have become accustomed in the last six days to life with one good eye, and one not-so-good eye. My ophthalmologist and optometrist both assure me that I am going to thrive after I have a multi-focal lens implanted in my right eye, on May 11. Beautiful, binocular vision, minus irksome glasses, awaits me in the near, near future. And, yes, I am counting the hours until then; trust me. Meanwhile, let me tell you how much I have been enjoying this first, glasses-free Monday shopping trip. On past Mondays, I spent most of the trip wiping steam from my glasses every time I had to put the mask back on, to satisfy the governor’s mandate. And, of course, to push my glasses back up my nose. But not today. Sure I generated some steam when wearing the mask, but there were no glasses to absorb it. Clear vision all the way, baby. Can you believe it? Hey, I turn 71 on May 7, and here I am on May 3, shopping without glasses. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. Natalie did, and she said I have been quite the giddy little kid ever since April 27, when I got the left eye “updated.” Yes, I was having a ball at Aldi and Walmart, and I really enjoyed buying a hanging basket of begonias of Tiefke’s greenhouses on Hills Road. What a sight for my new PanOptix® trifocal interocular lens. I even took a photo or two of said basket when I hanged it from the crook on the back deck. (Photography is a cinch with this new lens!) I’ll be a sure-eyed shopper next Monday, and then, in two weeks, I’ll be doubly blessed by perfect vision—minus the befogged glasses. Thanks, Dr. Cooke for suggesting I was a good candidate for multi-focal lenses. You the man!!!!
(5/1/21) Feast of St. Joseph the Worker at Monastery of the Holy Cross, Chicago
Yes, I and my new lens managed to get my good self all the way from Harbert, Michigan to the south side of Chicago in time for an Oblate work day, on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. Our objective: stain the wood fences and railings behind the monastery’s garden apartments that are part of their bed and breakfast. The good monks had been wanting to do this for a long, long time, and, with the usual Oraet Labora attitude of the true Benedictines that we are, we managed through prayer and work to get everything but a small section of railing stained. As I quipped repeatedly: “We are staining today to remove the stain of original sin.” Not the most original comment, I suppose, but then I suppose I am one happy camper now that I have had my left eye spiffed up with a brand-new multi-focal lens. (Righty is scheduled for May 11!!!!)
Yes, I drove both ways and did some close-up painting while wearing only non-prescription sunglasses. Can you believe it? I know our learned Oblate Director, Fr. Timothy Ferrell, OSB, was impressed. And well he should have been, because Fr. Timothy, after all, was the one who administered the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, at the monastery, just before my surgery on April 27. Watching me paint some steps without dripping brown stain all over the parking lot, Father Timothy said: “You can really see now, can’t you?” Oh, yes, oh, yes!!!! And, oh yes did we Oblates and Oblate Novices of the Monastery of the Holy Cross turn to on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. And no wonder, because we had as our Father Foreman, the ever-handy Fr. Joseph Woudenberg, OSB. Father Joseph on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, under clear blue skies and long-awaited spring warmth—what could have been better, right? Nothing, except for the sumptuous dinner that Fr. Brendan Creeden, OSB prepared for us, in the light-filled refractory, with the monks. We all said afterward that we were going to go home and take long naps, but some of us had longer to go than others, but at least one of us had a spiffy new multi-focal lens to guide him on his way. And on a slightly stinky note, he wasn’t looking through his new lens when he was setting the ladder in the grass at the edge of the parking lot and thus stepped in a dog deposit left over from the recent snows of winter. But he had the good sight to see it on his shoe and scrape it off. And then drive safely home, taking in the scenic sights of aptly named Dunes Highway.
EYE PIECE.2 by Charles McKelvy, Obl. OSB (4/30/21) Further Adventures: Well, it’s now Friday morning, the last day of 2021’s version of April, and I’ve been doing really, really well with a PanOptix® Lens in my left eye. I am, for example, penning this without glasses. No, that’s not entirely true, as I am wearing the Oakley sunglasses I bought yesterday at Smoke Vision Care in New Buffalo. These sporty babies have a “leash” which enables me to hang them around my neck when I’m not wearing them. Such as right now as I transcribe my hand-written draft. But the sun is about to shine in, so I’ll simply pop them back on, as needed. Cool, ‘eh? And when I was writing this long hand, in the living room on my favorite chair, the sun slipped behind the trees, so I slipped off my sunglasses and let them hang out. Hey, I’m that guy who was forever losing his sunglasses, or bending them hopelessly out of shape by “wearing” them on my head, when not in use. No more of that, right? Right. And I was certainly right with the world late Thursday afternoon when I put my Oakleys in the ready position, and rode off on my Trek Verve eBike for a ride around two townships in brilliant sunlight. It was gorgeous, and I was seeing it all. And believing it all. And all because Dr. David Cooke said a few weeks ago that I was “a good candidate for multi-focal lenses.” Well, I guess I am, and I sure am looking forward to having the same kind of lens implanted in my right eye, on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Yeah, baby!!!! I can hardly wait. But wait I must, and wait I willingly will, because I’m doin’ just fine— thank you very much—with just one eye done. Who knew, right? Right. And now I know. And I know I’m going to head out shortly on my Trek, with the Oakley sunglasses in the ready position, as soon as I’m finished writing this. And I know that I trust this PanOptix® Lens so completely that I’m going to drive to Chicago tomorrow and help my monastic friends at the Monastery of the Holy Cross stain a wood fence and porch. Kind of a Tom Sawyer thing, I suppose. But I don’t have to suppose that I’ll clearly see what I’m doing. All without glasses, and thanks to Dr. Cooke’s suggestion that I just might be a good candidate for a whole new look at life.
(4/28/21) The day after cataract on my left eye at the Great Lakes Surgery Center in sunny, Saint Joseph, Michigan:
I am writing this before my next-day, follow-up visit, right next door at Great Lakes Eye Care, and, yes, I am writing this without glasses. Just me and my PanOptix® trifocal interocular lens. We be rollin’, baby!!! But before I rocket off into the fourth dimension of new life at an old age—hey, I’ll be 71 on May 7—let me tell you good people what it was like yesterday, when I underwent cataract surgery. First, let me say that the day of surgery was great. Even greater because I had been deferred the previous Tuesday, on April 24, when Dr. Cooke found a nasty, old stye in my left eye. He said I should go home and drain that puppy and present myself a few days later for his inspection. I did as he told me to do, and when he examined me on April 22, he said I was good to go on April 27. And go I did on April 27, right into the Twilight Zone. Allow to elaborate: When the anesthesiologist came in before surgery to discuss options, I told him I had stopped breathing during a surgery on my hand, a few years back. He said he would take that into account when preparing my nighty-night cocktail, and he did. So, after all the prep, and various eye drops and sheathing of my operative eye, I prepared to go to the Twilight Zone. I told the OR crew that the Twilight Zone had indeed been my favorite childhood show. Yes, Rod Serling and Maynard G. Krebbs were my go-to mentors when I was growing up. So when they said it was time to go to the Twilight Zone, I literally went to off to see Rod Serling and company. I mean: REALLY!!!!! I could really hear voices and music, and, yes, I had paisley clouds flowing out of my operative eye. And circles of red and yellow and green and blue, and then a black dot pointing this way and that. But the best part of all was the music. Crazy, hip, electronic music of the type we had enjoyed on Music from the Hearts of Space. Very, very trippy. As in the Tangerine Dream variety. Oh yeah, I was deep in he hearts of space on the good ship Intergalactica, and the crew was preparing me for a vital mission to the dark planet. And I was ready at any time to jump ship and wrestle the cosmic cobra into submission. But then the trippy music, paisley clouds and cosmic cobra stopped cold—POOF!! And I was being wheeled out to the post-op area where the nurse was telling me there was a wheelchair with my name on it. Soon—sooner than I could ever have imagined—I was being wheeled out to the car we call the Pirate Ship. Captain Natalie was waiting and ready to feed me two of her famous hummus sandwiches. And whisk me off home by way of the Bridgman library where we had an encounter with my tennis pal, Janna. I don’t remember a word of that, and that’s just as well, because the tech is telling me today that there’s no tennis in my immediate future. “You don’t want to get hit in the eye with a tennis ball, do you?” She’s also saying to me that swimming, hot tubs, steam baths, and saunas are out for two weeks. And then for two weeks after I have the right eye zapped on May 11. So I’ll be a beached swimmer until May 26. Okay, so I’ll be back in the pool before Memorial Day. That will be memorable because I’ll been seeing clearly with both eyes, both above the surface and below.
(Baroda, Michigan) I have it on reliable authority that there will be fireworks this 4th of July, and that we will be invited to the party. Ah, American independence! Remember that? Or are you too befogged by wearing your face diaper all day to think clearly? Anyway, we will be unmasked for the fireworks on the 4th!!!! Yay!!!
I spent the first six years of my life, from 1950-56, in the eponymous South Shore neighborhood of Chicago. I learned to walk and talk at the Fairhaven Apartments, dined and went to horse shows at the South Shore Country Club, and learned to swim at Rainbow Beach. And, yes, I became a lifelong choo-choo cuckoo when my mother took me downtown for dentist appointments on those electric trains operated by the Illinois Central Railroad. Yes, you could open the window and listen to the electric motors hum. We went to the country club as guests, but we were treated as members. I have an early recollection of Christmas dinner at the country club with my father’s boss at General Refractories Co. There were no children’s menus in those days, and I was expected to eat what the grown-ups ate, which is to say a lavish, four-course, gourmet meal served by liveried waiters. My father got me up and swimming in Lake Michigan at the aforementioned Rainbow Beach, which was within walking distance of our apartment building at 73rd and Yates. I fondly recall stopping to chat with the firemen at the fire station along the way. Yes, I wanted to be a fireman until we went to watch a catastrophic refinery fire in nearby Whiting, Indiana. That disabused me of any notion of fighting fires on a professional basis. I loved the local library and insisted upon learning to read in kindergarten at the Bradwell Elementary School. When the teacher informed me on the first day that I would have to wait a year, until first grade, for that privilege, I abandoned ship and was halfway down the block before she caught me and brought me back to a year of naps and silliness. We moved to Beverly, which I thought was the English countryside, in time for my 6th birthday on May 7, 1956, but I missed South Shore. Happily, I have occasion to journey through the old neighborhood once a month when I visit the Monastery of the Holy Cross in the Bridgeport neighborhood. If we were ever to move back to Chicago, we most likely would live in South Shore. Near Rainbow Beach and those electric trains, of course.
(Otsego, Michigan) We found ourselves in this delightful west Michigan town last Friday for the funeral of our friend, Randy Lober. So we decided to take a walk and have a look-see. And one of us was hungry, so we sampled some local fare at a local eatery. Here is a photographic recollection of our day in Otsego.
Travels with Charley: Travel by Memory by Charles McKelvy
You may recall the story that appeared on September 3, 2020 about the trip my friend, Randy Lober, and I took to see the Detroit Tigers play their last home game of the 2019 season, on September 26, 2019. What I did not report in that story was that I was compelled to get Randy to a game because he was dying of pancreatic cancer. Alas, Randy died on April 12, 2021, or, as he said on his memorial card: “I’ve just gone over the hill.” Well, let me tell you that we delighted in knowing the man born as Floyd R. “Randy” Lober on September 15, 1949 from the moment we first met him, in 1992. That was shortly after we had moved to Michigan and after we had launched our Dunery Press publishing venture. Mary Lober was one of our first loyal readers and traveled from her home in Otsego, Mich. to a signing we had in a bookstore by the lake in Saugatuck. Mary said we should get together as couples some time, and some time later we met Mary and Randy for a dazzling day in Kalamazoo, which isn’t all that far from Otsego. In fact, we asked Mary and Randy if Otsego, and its sister city of Plainwell, were suburbs of Kalamazoo. No, they firmly informed us, Kalamazoo and Plainwell are suburbs of Otsego. Mary and Randy Lober were high school sweethearts in Otsego; they would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, in Otsego, of course, on April 26, 2021. Accepting as he was of his fate, Randy sportingly donned a black bow tie and celebrated early with his bride, at their home in Otsego, as their family, friends, and loyal dog, Tobey, looked on. And so, of course, we looked on with love as friends and family payed tribute to Randy at the Winkel Funeral Home in downtown Otsego on April 16. I recalled that amazing day I shared with Randy on September 26, 2019 when he drove me to and from Comerica Park in Detroit. We sensed, I suppose, that that would be our first and last baseball game together, but that didn’t matter one bit. We were just a couple of old guys out at the old ballgame on an absolutely gorgeous fall day in the great state of Michigan. I am a Michigander by transplant, but Randy was a Michigander by birth and loved nothing better than being out in the wild places of our state, hunting with Tobey and walking with Mary. Why Randy, Mary, Natalie, and I had some absolutely wonderful fall walks around South Haven after enjoying a long, lingering luncheon at Clementine’s. We even got Randy to admit that New Buffalo really is in Michigan by taking him and Mary to a rooftop luncheon at Stray Dog, on, of course, another stunning Michigan fall day. Such as that aforementioned fall day Randy and I watched the Tigers snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory by losing 10-4 to the Minnesota Twins. Oh well. We had a great day of baseball and even better drives there and back. I am so blessed to have heard Randy tell of his service to the nation as a communications sergeant in the U.S. Army, in what was then called West Germany. Yes, Sgt. Lober was a cold warrior through and through, and in that delightfully understated humor of his, he said he and his comrades were basically viewed as sacrificial lambs should the cold war ever turn hot. And, yes, Randy Lober could just as easily been ordered to serve in Vietnam. He gladly would have had the army draw his name for service there. But he was equally proud to serve in Germany and to work for a local phone company in the great outdoors of the Otsego area, his whole working life. Once in winter, he was up a ladder working on a line when a motorist knocked his ladder out from under him, literally leaving him hanging. Randy always laughed that great laugh of his at that bittersweet memory. And so we were filled with bittersweet memories of Randy Lober, after his funeral on April 16, as we took a foot tour of his beloved Otsego. What a lovely town, we kept telling Randy. You picked the all-American small town in which to grow and go. The quiet, tree-lined residential streets, stately homes with elegant porches, not-quite-dazzling downtown business district, and gently flowing Kalamazoo River all spoke to your character and to the last words you told your dear wife Mary, before you “went over the hill” on April 12, “Tell everyone I love them.” Well, Randy Lober, let me tell you that after a walking tour of your hometown, the feeling is entirely mutual. Fair winds and following seas, my friend.
(Author’s note: I am saddened to report that Randy died on Monday, April 12, 2021, after fighting the good fight. I am so glad that we were able to make this trip to Motown together in September 2019. Seize the moment, right? This story appeared in the Beacher Weekly Newspaper on September 3, 2020. Although I am a confirmed White Sox fan, I hope and pray that the Tigers will win the World Series this year, in Randy’s honor. Fair winds and following seas, my friend.)
Travels with Charley: A Tale of Taking the Tigers by the Tail by Charles McKelvy My friend Randy Lober and I sensed last year that not all would be well with this year’s baseball season. So we made plans last August to attend a Tigers game in Detroit, in September. On September 26, 2019 to be precise. That was to be the Tigers’ last home game in quite a while. Who knew, right? Well, I guessed Randy and I must have sensed that something like the COVID-19 crisis was going to come along in early 2020 and turn the world upside down, including Major League Baseball. So we sat down one August 2019 afternoon in Randy’s living room north of Kalamazoo and got the Tigers ticket office on the horn: we lined up a couple of ducats for the Tigers/Twins day game on September 26, 2019. Never mind that the Tigers were ending one of their worst seasons ever. We were going to see some serious baseball, because, after all, they were playing the Minnesota Twins who had earned a playoff berth. We reckoned that the Twins would be playing their back-up players to save their starters for the post season, but we didn’t care. We just wanted to enjoy the game of baseball on a pleasant September afternoon in the Motor City, and we did. And let me tell you all about it: Beginning, of course, with our drive over to Randy’s pleasant town on the afternoon of September 25. He lives northwest of Kalamazoo, so we took I-94 to Paw Paw and then plied some of the most pleasant backroads in all of Michigan to reach Casa Randy. We had planned to stay there overnight so Randy and I could get an early start to Detroit on the 26th, and so Mary, his wife, and Natalie could catch up and discuss their many topics of mutual interest, including books and their husbands’ latest antics. So, we had a restful night with our friends, complete with one of Mary’s famous home-cooked dinners. After a bountiful breakfast the next morning, Randy and and I set out in his Buick Enclave for an afternoon of Major League Baseball in the Motor City. Randy insisted on driving, and I am glad he did, because I do not enjoy driving in Detroit. But he handled it with ease, and I listened with interest all the way to Detroit as he told me of his service to the nation in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Randy enlisted in the army and could have easily gotten orders to serve in Vietnam. But he was ordered instead to serve in Germany, and so he “fought” the Cold War there preparing to face the Red Army in horrific combat. I, who served stateside in the U.S. Navy Reserve, thanked Randy for his service; I told him he had put himself in harm’s way just as much as if he had taken that long flight to Saigon. Being men of a certain age, we did have to interrupt our trip down memory lane by exiting the freeway before Comerica Park to make, as we say, “a pit stop.” That put us in a gritty, industrial section of Detroit, and, as we were trying to find our way back to the freeway from our pit stop, we spied a bar featuring “adult entertainment;” we wondered if Mary and Natalie would mind if we stopped there after the game. We decided that was not a great idea, and so we went on with our day which included parking in a garage right across Woodward Avenue from Comerica Park, a pleasant stroll to the old ballpark, and then seating ourselves in the wrong seats, up in the upper deck. At least we thought they were the wrong seats, but the Tigers front office said we didn’t look at the seating chart correctly when placing our phone order. Anyway, they made it right, and we soon settled into great seats on the terrace level, along the first baseline. We foraged for ballpark food before the first pitch, and we both found exactly what we wanted, including a couple of Tigers hats. Yes, I am a lifelong White Sox fan, but I do live in Michigan, and I do root for the Tigers when they’re not playing the White Sox, so— Well, you get the point, and the point of this story is that Randy and I had a great time at the old ballgame, along with 17,555 other die-hard fans who turned out on a gorgeous fall afternoon to watch the Tigers set the dubious record of tying the 1939 St. Louis Browns for the most home losses (59) during a season in the modern era. The Tigers took an early lead, but they snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory by going down 10-4. But we got to see Miguel Cabrera hit a solid single and try to stretch it into a double until the first base coach stopped him. We figured he said something like: “You’re not that young guy anymore, Miggy.” Hey, we were a couple of old guys enjoying baseball with other like-minded old guys in our section. We didn’t catch the orange t-shirts they blasted into the stands between innings, but we hit the pro shop before heading for home and were their last customers of the 2019 season. Randy bought himself a smart Tigers golf shirt; I got myself some hot Tigers pajama pants to wear with the orange t-shirt I received as a result of volunteering at a church function in Detroit in 2017. It was all good, and we had a great ride home, chasing the setting sun along I-94. I kept saying we had to do a repeat in 2020, but Randy kept saying one doesn’t know what the future will bring. COVID-19 and the cancellation or postponement of everything, including Major League Baseball in 2020! At this writing, MLB was just released an abbreviated, 60-game schedule for 2020, but no matter, because Randy and Charley have their memories of a great day at Comerica Park in 2019.
Travels with Charley: Travel “for friendship” by Charles McKelvy
Why would some 12,000 Boy Scouts from 108 nations gather in the mountains of northern Idaho from July 31 to August 9, 1967? Why “for friendship,” of course. And we who attended 12th World Scout Jamboree at Farragut State Park in the mountainous Idaho panhandle were all for friendship. Or, as I told the German troop I hosted, Wir versammeln uns hier zur Freundschaft. I told you last time all about how my Host Corps troop reached the campsite via Great Northern Railway’s legendary Empire Builder. Now let me tell you of the enduring friendships that were forged at the 12th World Scout Jamboree. For starters, there were those aforementioned scouts from the Federal Republic of Germany, or West Germany. I was to be their host for the Jamboree, so I greeted them as they arrived at Farragut State Park with a hearty greeting, or, as I said, “mit einem herzlichen Gruss.” Their bilingual scoutmaster told me to continue with the German because not a one of his scouts spoke English. So I relied heavily on that most useful of all German sentences: Wie sagst du das auf Deutsch? In other words, how do you say that in German? They were always happy to tell me, and I thus left Idaho in 1967 calling the eagle, der Adler, and jelly donuts, Berliners. I was so immersed in German by August 9, 1967, that I completed entire dreams in German. And, yes, I still occasionally dream in German. And I dream now of that moment when my new friends from Germany broke the existing record for the obstacle course. It was one tough obstacle course, let me tell you. I know our troop struggled mightily to pull ourselves up a steel embankment with a rope and such like. Not for wimps, but when the German scoutmaster surveyed the course and heard what the record was, he announced that his troop would do better. And they did. By several minutes, as I recall. Trust me when I tell you that was no easy obstacle course. So there was that humbling experience, and then an even greater one when we Yanks of Host Corps Troop 57 challenged our neighboring troop, a bunch of Limeys from London, to a spot of that game they insisted on calling football. We knew it simply as soccer and we knew that we were so fit from real American football and baseball and basketball that we could easily cream them at their own game. Not so. Not by a long shot. The Brits were soon handily demolishing us on the pitch, passing the ball past us with nimble feet. Realizing that we were about to start another American Revolution, they suggested we continue the game with blended teams, half-British and half-American. That worked to heal our wounded egos and we had a rollicking good time playing—all right, I’ll say it—football. And, as a post-jamboree bonus, my family hosted a British scout from a town southeast of London called Swanley. His name was Paul Hills. We took him to a Cubs game, and although he feigned polite interest, he said baseball was no substitute for cricket. Still, one of my high-school friends fell madly in love with him, and Paul did introduce my family to the proper preparation and serving of proper tea. At tea time, or 4 p.m., of course. And no, there was absolutely no place in a civilized home for what he dismissed as “cold tea.” Hey, what were we thinking when we served a proper Englishman iced tea? As an added bonus, Paul invited me to visit him in Swanley, England, should fortune and fair winds ever send me that way. A friend and I did, in 1971, and Paul and his parents showed us their lovely village. They told us of the London blitz during World War II, and told us the grim fate that awaited downed German airmen, if the enraged citizenry got to them before the army or police. We had proper tea every day at 4, and the Hills even took us into London on the train to see “the cinema.” And what better movie to see in London than the 1969 classic, Anne of a Thousand Days? The film stars Geneviève Bujold in the title role and Richard Burton as Henry VIII of England. Spoiler alert: Anne Boleyn doesn’t keep her head about her. So, my trip to England to visit the Hills family, as a direct result of the Jamboree, was, as we used to say, all too beautiful. I also visited a Japanese friend from the Jamboree at his home in Kyoto, in 1969. His father, who has been an officer in the Imperial Army, showed us his samurai sword before hosting us for an unforgettable evening at a geisha house. Trust me, it was all family fare, but I did learn to respect that warm rice wine known the world over as saké. Live and learn, right? So, yes, the 12th World Scout Jamboree was clearly a gift that has kept on giving. My fondest memory of those golden days in Idaho in 1967 was of the Shabbat I witnessed at the Israeli campsite on a sublime Friday evening in the Idaho mountains. Mind you, the World Scout Jamboree occurred just weeks after the so-called Six Days War, in which Israel defended itself from coordinated attacks on three fronts. As a result of Israel’s victory, the Arab nations boycotted the Jamboree. But Israel mustered one troop, consisting entirely of veterans of that desperate struggle for survival. They were close to us in age, but so, so far beyond in worldly experience. You could see it in their eyes the moment you saw them standing under that flapping blue-on-white flag in the Idaho sunset. They were hosting Shabbat for the surrounding Jewish community; the faithful were arriving by the busload from points near and far. The assistant scoutmaster, who had invited me to attend with him, smiled and said: “The Bible is still being written.” He said that with authority, because, after all, he was a Catholic priest. No sooner had he said that than an older woman alighted from a bus and stopped in her tracks at the sight of those lions of Judah from Israel standing under the flag of Israel. Tears streamed down her face, and, little wonder, because she bore a tattooed number on her forearm. Yes, that marked her as a survivor of the Holocaust. “Remember this,” the assistant scoutmaster/priest whispered. “Yes, Father, I will,” I whispered. And I have. All because I suited up and showed up at the 12th World Scout Jamboree in Farragut State Park in Idaho in the golden summer of 1967.
(Harbert, Mich.) A storm was coming Thursday afternoon, so I headed down to the lake with Flyboy the cat and Canon the PowerShot SX160 IS camera. When I saw the diffuse light, approaching storm clouds, and placid, silvery sea before me, I wished I had brought brush, water color paint, and paper. But there was no time for that. Only for some power shots with my PowerShot, and then Flyboy and I beat a hasty retreat to home and dashed in the door just before the heavens opened.