November 11, 2020

It was called Armistice Day when I was young. It commemorated the end of what was then called The Great War. It is now Veterans Day to remember both the living and the dead who served our country.

In my family it had more significance, my father and my brother in law’s birthday. My father was in a trench in France on November 11, 1918, after having been wounded twice during the war.

My brother in law was also a veteran but was the executive producer of the Walter Cronkite Evening News. Sandy was at every space shuttle launch and every presidential election for years. We all wonder what he would think if he were here today to watch the election returns and the disputes growing out of the vote count. He had a wonderful sense of history and was a fierce defender of the free press.

Here in Clove Valley we celebrate the veterans of yesterday and today. I am a veteran also. I remember I was in Idaho about 15 years ago and when I went up to the ticket counter at the Spokane airport, a woman said to me “Thank you for your service.” I wasn’t sure what she meant when I realized my ID had the USMC veteran emblem on it. I was slightly embarrassed and it was the first time I heard anyone say it.

You hear it everywhere now, which I think is fine. Maybe the thing to remember today is how much we don’t realize or appreciate peace. In Vietnam we lost 50,000 lives. In the Battle of the Somme in the First World War 50,000 died in a day.

There are some things to think about today.

Covid 19 Update

We’ve been living in Clove Valley for four months, only leaving once. May 23 we got 3 inches of snow and temperatures in the mid 20s. The peach and pear trees were frozen and will produce almost no fruit. The apples faired a little better but will also produce a small crop.

We spend a lot of time outside and are now beginning to see other neighbors either on walks or on outside visits.

Our town has done reasonably well with about 1% infection rate. Washington our neighboring township has only a handful of cases.

One of the remarkable situations during this period is the real estate market which seems to be booming. Many families are either buying a second home as protection or moving up to the Hudson Valley full time.

Which brings me to my opinion about NYC. Here are some of the reasons which I saw recently in a news article about why it is game over in NYC.

1- Taxes will be going up to cover the enormous financial shortfall

2- Real estate prices will crater, office rents will go down 40%.

3- 1/3 of all NYC hotels will go bankrupt

4- Police and Fire services will be slashed.

The author of the article said “This time is different.”

When NYC has been written off before time proved otherwise and will again. The City is in for rough sledding for some time, not sure how long, but it will survive and even thrive eventually.

George M Cohan the song writer said “When you leave NY you’re camping out.”

Another expression I once heard about New York but I havent been able to find out where it came from: A flute in New York is worth a band in Butte.

A Great Find in Poughkeepsie

There is an old time Italian deli on South Clover Street in downtown Poughkeepsie. Its been there for more than 40 years. There’s not much left of the old Italian neighborhood but this deli is spectacular, open 6 days and its all there. I picked up dinner last week and for desert I bought cannoli. Chicken Florentine, penne and vegetables.

Leave the gun and take the cannolis.

 

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More Forgotten Sports Figures. Philadelphia Story

I met a father and son from Philadelphia . The father was in his 70s and a proud son of the city of brotherly love. We got to talking and somehow I brought up two of the most famous athletes in Philadelphia history. He had heard of neither. Of course he knew Smoking Joe Frazier but had never heard of Vic Seixas or Lew Tendler.

Now for a year’s free subscription to the Millbrook Times, do you know who the latter two were?

Ok here we go:

Vic Seixas: who at 96 is still around

 

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Seixas in 1954
Full name Elias Victor Seixas Jr.
Country (sports)  United States
Born August 30, 1923 (age 96)
Philadelphia, United States
Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Turned pro 1940
Retired 1970
Plays Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
Int. Tennis HoF 1971 (member page)
Singles
Career record 801-236 (77.2%) [1]
Career titles 49 [1]
Highest ranking No. 3 (ITHF)[2]
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open SF (1953)
French Open F (1953)
Wimbledon W (1953)
US Open W (1954)
Doubles
Career record 4–9
Grand Slam Doubles results
Australian Open W (1955)
French Open W (1954, 1955)
Wimbledon F (1952, 1954)
US Open W (1952, 1954)
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results
French Open W (1953)
Wimbledon W (1953, 1954, 1955, 1956)
US Open W (1953, 1954, 1955)
Team competitions
Davis Cup W (1954)

 

 

Lew Tendler

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Tendler was a clever, left-handed boxer who was quick and had lots of “savvy”; He lost only 16 official verdicts in 172 contests, scored 39 knockouts during his career and is generally considered to be one of the finest fighters to never have won a world title; He is easily the greatest southpaw to never win one; Lew is considered by many to be the third greatest Jewish fighter of all time, behind only his arch-rival, Benny Leonard, and Barney Ross; In retirement, Tendler ran restaraunts in Atlantic City and in Philadelphia, which became a popular pre-fight hangout.

Here is a video from 1922 Lew Tendler against Benny Leonard. Notice how they shake hands before the fight! This video really shows what boxing used to be when it was still known as the sweet science.

“Lefty” Lew Tendler was an American boxer. He is generally considered one of the best boxers to never have won a world title, though he was a top rated contender for both the world light and welterweight championships.

Born: September 28, 1898, Philadelphia, PA
Died: November 5, 1970, Atlantic City, NJ
Height: 5′ 6″
Martial art: Boxing
Division: Welterweight, Lightweight, Bantamweight

Four Cats

There are four barn cats at the farm

Erlinda

Lily

Pearl

Blackie

Well they’re really not barn cats, they are under the front porch cats and hang around when not out hunting. Gerlinda Gray the alpha cat was rescued from the barn wall when she was a few months old. Nursed back to health after getting stuck for two weeks in the barn wall (plus $4,000 of vet bills) she is fat and very pushy, bosses the other cats around and sneaks into the house when you leave the door open for a second. Once inside,spoiled rotten.

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Avid readers of this blog may recall the great Blackstone, who left the farm some years ago and traveled extensively. He is now down at a neighbor’s where his main efforts involve moving from the bed to the sun porch. He still reminisces about his youth and travels. He is fat and old but in his day he was known as Blackstone of the death squad, always alert and ready to pounce.

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New Hope for a Running Career

July 15, 2017 at 8:53 p.m. EDT

Watch your back, Usain Bolt — there’s a new 100-meter dash superstar and she looks unstoppable.

Meet 101-year-old Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins, who on Saturday became the oldest female athlete to ever compete in the USA Track and Field Outdoors Masters Championships. Not only that, but by running the 100 meters in 40.12 seconds, she shaved more than six seconds off the current certified world record for women aged 100 or older.

Astonishingly, that wasn’t even a personal best. This month, at the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Ala., Hawkins ran the dash in 39.62 seconds. If either of those times get certified in December, she will become the official world-record holder.

And to think, she may have missed her shot at making track and field history if she opted to follow her original plans for the day.

“[I] missed my nap for this,” she said (via USATF) on Saturday at the event at Louisiana State University, not far from where Hawkins lives in Baton Rouge.

Hawkins is a natural talent. An avid bicyclist, she said she only began training for track and field last year.

“I’m always outside and the phone always rings, and I come running in is how I knew I could run,” she told The Post last month.

Hawkins, who was born in Wisconsin in 1916, said she likes “the feeling of being independent,” as well as the challenge. She also likes impressing her family, which includes the four children she had with her late husband, Murray, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

“Having a momma that can do this pleases them, and it pleases me to please them,” the former schoolteacher said.

Today, Hawkins spends most of her waking hours being active (no surprise). Along with running and cycling, she’s an avid gardener.

She’s also humble.

Asked about how she thought her race went on Saturday, she told the Advocate, “This time I wasn’t feeling like I was going that fast.”

Some Sports History

Below a letter I received from my nephew who is a professor of media history at the University of Maine. He worked for CNN covering the Olympics three or four times and met some interesting people. For those who don’t know he is referring to Saduhara Oh the Babe Ruth of baseball in Japan. 
Interesting. I met Oh at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, and actually worked with him (passed him information/stats while he was doing Olympic baseball TV coverage during Japan games). It was more the way everyone in the press box treated him – the whole place sort of came to a halt each time he arrived and everyone looked at him. My other memory of him is that he wasn’t very tall (I’d guess 5’7″) but he was an absolute brick of a human – he was built like Barney Rubble. Totally square, with broad shoulders and a huge barrel chest.  He was very friendly, shook everyone’s hands, signed autographs, and posed for photos.
The other big memory of those games was about the Cuban third baseman Omar Linares.  He was probably the best 3rd baseman on the planet, but stuck in Castro’s Cuba and a real lifer – there was no way he was going to defect (they threw anybody suspect off the team anyway).  Scouts from the Phillies, Braves and Expos finagled there way into the press box and begged me to get them press passes to the mixed zone (athlete/media – for media interviews only) so they could speak with him. He could’ve made millions on the spot. I didn’t do anything because I was afraid I’d be fired if I got them in. But I was in the mixed zone once a few days later, and in the tunnel Linares was loudly arguing with a few Japanese people. From what I could tell, he kept telling them he needed more and more boxes of Mizuno cleats – and they didn’t have them. What stuck with me was that here was a guy begging his team’s sponsor for shoes who could’ve been making millions and millions if he wanted to figure out a way to defect.

Frank Blefari- Gone to a Better Place

Frank Blefari a friend of 35 years, maybe more, died this morning after a long struggle with pulmonary fibrosis. Frank owned Heritage Automotive Restorations in Pawling New York. He was a genius at his trade, the rebuilding and restoring of antique cars and building hot rods.

Everything he touched and worked on had the artist’s touch. On the walls of his shop are pictures of maybe 100 cars he restored most for customers but some for himself.

One of his customers from Quaker Hill was an artist. Frank asked him to show him how to paint pictures. Frank became a skilled artist quickly surpassing his artist customer. He came from Stamford Connecticut and his whole life was based on love of cars, everything from a 1912 Cadillac to a 1932 hot rod roadster. When I asked him how the rod had done at a show. He said it has never gotten anything less than first place.

I went to see him last Friday, a hospice nurse was with  him and he didn’t know I had come. He passed away this morning and his girl friend Karen called me. Rest in Peace Frank.

 

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Latest News of the Great Blackstone

For those who follow this blog, the big black and white cat Blackstone again disappeared after taking up temporary residence here at the farm. Our neighbor Betsy sent the following email:

Dear Peter,
I am reading The Millbrook Times, and it seems November 11th is missing, so I started scrolling down and see your your article about Blackstone.
Ken and Betty asked us to take Blackstone because, apparently, he had not eaten “since Aunt Rosy went to the Fountains, 2 1/2 months ago”.  Jeff and I went to the Andrews’ and easily put the skinny Blackstone in a crate and brought him to our barn.
He started in the barn, then started to follow us to the house. Now, he sleeps on the bed in the master bedroom all day long and in the sunporch all night. You can see from the photo that he is a little plumper than before. I feel like he came here to “retire”. How old is he anyway?
We took him to the Vet and got him some shots and de-wormer medicine, etc.  Amazing that the leader of the Death Squad came here to play shuffleboard!  We let him out all the time and he never strays far. Always back in 2 minutes.
Too funny. Let me know how you feel about him being here. We are enjoying him but certainly not trying to keep him from you!

Blackstone has become a fat cat in every sense of the word. I have no intention of taking away from his life of leisure but I can’t guarantee he won’t show up one day as he was always a traveling man.

 

1912 Model T Ford and a Strange Story

About 30 maybe 40 years ago I met a guy named Mr. Gardner, he lived in Clinton Corners. He knew I had a model A and was interested in cars. He showed me his garage. It had a beautifully restored 30 or 31 deluxe roadster and another car which I have never forgotten. It was a 1912 Model T brass roadster in perfect condition. He was not a seller and at the time I didn’t have the dough or the time to try to put together enough for a real offer. What I do remember was that the T had a brass plate on the wooden firewall that said John Van Benschoten who was a Ford dealer in Poughkeepsie on Catherine Street.
Fast forward to yesterday. Bill Shanks who tows cars called to tell me there was a guy who owns a body shop in Salt Point who had a 1940 Pontiac Woodie in great shape for sale. I went over and looked at it and the car was mostly pieces and an enormous amount of not only wood work but mechanical also. I told him I would let him know if I found someone who wanted to tackle it but it was too much for me.
We then got to talking as car guys often do, he had sold me a VW bug about 7 years ago that I restored. I told him that I was going to put an ad in Vintage Model T magazine to see if I could locate the Van Benschoten T as Gardner had sold the property years ago and the new owner who I knew, had no idea what had become of the rare Model T.
The guy that owned the body shop said “Let me show you some other cars I have.” Well you may have guessed it and the pictures below will tell you the rest of the story. I made it very simple. I know you don’t want to sell it,
but if you ever do, I’m a buyer.
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