Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Patrick Flynn and Ronald Tipton, 2016.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Thursday, December 23, 2010

37 Things About Myself

My friend and fellow blogger just did a post with this title. (Retired in Delaware). Well, I'm kind of in between posts, so I copied his list and then filled in those 37 items as they applied to myself. I am sometimes lazy (something not on the list) and this made for a quick and easy Post.

THE 37 THINGS:


I descend from Welsh, Scot stock.  My paternal line has been in North America over 9 generations (1683) and my maternal line 8 generations (1705.)  I am thoroughly WASP (Quaker and Methodist.) 
I have no siblings, nor does my wife.  I am 6.0 feet in height and in weight 190.
Both parents are living.  I never saw them argue, but then my dad was seldom home and when he was I was usually sent to my grandparents.
I collect a lot of things.  In fact I'm a borderline hoarder.  
I love paintings by Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper and Salvador Dali.
I hate seafood.  I like some fish, but find most other seafood repugnant on the tongue.
Coffee, iced tea, orange juice, V-8, chocolate milk and coke are my drinks. I usually keep each on hand. Turkey Hill Orange tea is my favorite store bought iced tea because it is closest to what my grandmother used to make.  I have traveled out of my way to restock.
I try to walk every day.  I love to walk.  Walking is my TM.  Plus, it keeps me trim and fit. I walk woodland trails, city streets, along waterways or anywhere in nature. I don’t do malls.
I like so many different singers I really don’t know who is my favorite all time.
I don’t have a favorite actor or actress. As far as most beautiful woman ever to grace the surface of the silver screen I’m inclined toward Ingrid Bergman.  She and I don’t have the same birthday. I do share that date with Helen Keller and Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan).
I was never in the armed forces (because of my psoriasis I was rejected), but my daughters were in the Army and the Air Force.
I was the first in my family to go to college, and I attended three.  I was a Sociology Major at one, a Computer Systems Major at the second and an Accounting Major at the third. My dad never finished high school; my mom did.
My work career was varied: oil refiner, chewing gum maker, publisher, food processor, steel fabricator, medical (hospital), banking, printing, non-profit disease research and retail. My longest consecutive term was in bank operations, finance and marketing.
I work now part-time as a stock manager. In is a physically demanding job as opposed to sitting in an office. It is very low stress, which is what I want in this time of life.
I lived most of my life in and around southeastern Pennsylvania. I lived a half dozen years in New Jersey. I now live in northern Delaware where I moved to be close to a job 28 years ago. I love living in this state.
I take medicine for thyroid and hypertension.  Occasionally I take an arthritis pill when the pain is too great.
I smoked cigarettes, cigars and a pipe for several years in the ‘sixties. (I smoked Sherman Long cigarettes in brown paper [you had to send away for them].)  I quit sometime in the late ‘sixties because I just didn’t see the point of smoking. I just said the heck with this one day and never smoked again.
I never smoked marijuana (except as second-hand smoke) and never tried any other drugs. I do drink a couple cocktails when we eat out for dinner (Whiskey Sour or Bloody Mary or Margarita). I’ve never drunk to the point of drunkenness.
When I make a mistake I try not to repeat it but instead learn from my mistakes.
I love to read.  Biographies, histories, books about business, novels and short stories. Actually, I will read just about anything with writing on it.
I hate politics.  I have been a registered Democrat, Republican and Independent. I would call myself a Conservative who used to be a very far left Liberal. The government has several times attacked me for exercising free speech.
I am in a long-term marriage to my wife of 49 years. I originally met her in early 1960. She is Irish-German. I will probably never live with another person, but one should never say never.
I love animals. We have several cats and have had several who died. We take in homeless cats, especially older cats with little hope of adoption.
I love animals. I have owned several dogs in my life, a Toy Fox Terrier, A German Shepherd-Collie Mix, a Chihuahua, a Border Collie and a Yellow Lab. The Yellow Lab died last March; he was 18.
I am not mechanically inclined, but am electronically so.
I can cook, but don’t like to. My wife does most of the cooking, but anymore we eat out a lot because although she likes to cook, she is tired of doing it all the time.
I don’t like to garden or yard work, my wife does.
We share running the household. My wife likes doing home improvement projects, but I don’t. She likes to tile and build things.
My favorite dish of all time, I am so bad at naming favorites, probably pot roast or dried beef gravy over bread.  
I have a salty tooth but I eat some candy.  I seldom eat desert. I prefer cheese and crackers as a snack. I really like olives and dill pickles, too.
Since childhood I have been shy.  I've grown much better as I matured, but it is still difficult for me to meet new people. I am not good with small talk or big talk for that matter if I don’t know you well.
I love to write.  When I was a teenager I wrote every day (and pretty much have all my life) and am a published writer. I had a website in the late nineties and have been blogging since early 2008. Writing is a major part of my life.  I would be lost without it.
Some of my favorite things – here we go with picking favorites again. I’m very streaky. I will get interested in something and go at it intensely for a while, so my favorite things change. I like to walk, write, and take pictures. I prefer fall as a favorite season. I like snow, especially when I don’t have to travel anywhere in it. I collect certain authors.
I'm usually easy going and seldom lose my temper.  When I do, I tend to throw things. Fortunately, this seldom happens. One thing, though, never threaten my kids. I may throw you.
I would like to visit every state and perhaps Ireland, Wales and the Holy Land. I doubt I will. The only time I was out of the country was a couple days in Canada in the early Sixties (on our honeymoon).
I have no patience for rude people; inconsiderate drivers, who don't use turn signals, keep their high beams up, ride my bumper, use cell phones (while driving, walking or eating in restaurants), and people who are dishonest with me.  
I am not naïve. I am a skeptic, yet probably too trusting of people.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Buildings I have Worked In -- As Best As I Can Show

Today I was reminded of places I have worked in my adult life. It got me thinking about all the buildings I have worked in and I decided to just do a post on them.

We didn't have digital cameras over all those years, so many of the places I worked I never took a photo of and some of them have ceased to exist.  So I supplemented my own photos as best I could with pictures taken off the internet. Even here, some places can't be found and some have been torn down and several have turned to other things. But here is my work journey through buildings as well as I can put it together.

I count as my first adult job the one I had with Proctor & Gamble in the fall of 1959. It is represented by the first photo at the top of this post. That is the Pottstown Train Station of the Reading Railroad Line. I didn't actually work in that building, although I was to ride trains from that station to jobs in Philadelphia for a couple years.

What happened on my first job was I worked the streets out of a van. It had a big Mr. Clean on the side and we walked about the towns hanging sample bottles on doorknobs.

In November I got my first permanent job. This was with the Atlantic Refining Company (later Atlantic Richfield or ARCo).

I began as a clerk in Sales Accounting on the sixteenth floor of the twenty-one story headquarters. It was at 260 South Broad Street in Philadelphia.

The building is still there, but ARCo is no more.



I worked most of my nearly ten years in that building at different positions in different departments on different floors. There was a brief period when I worked as a Traffic Manager at the loading docks in the heart of the refining yard of South Philly.

The headquarters building smelled much better.




I was a free-lance writer for a while after I left ARCo, but in that period I also took a part time evening job at the Philadelphia Gum Co. in Havertown.

I began as a Wad Slinger and worked my way up to Bubblegum Welder.

I came home every night covered with powder sugar.




Philadelphia Gum made various products. They had bite-sized pieces (which I was cutting as a welder), bozuka-type gun and they also made packets containing trading cards. On the left is a series of "Dark Shadow" cards they did about the time I was there. On the right is a much, much older baseball card.





When I finally went back to a full time job it was as a Circulation Manager for North American Publishing.  They were located on the Northwest corner of 13th and Cherry Street in Philadelphia.

I have no photo of the place and wasn't able to find one. I tried Google Maps and discovered the Philadelphia Convention Center sits atop the location where it was, so it is gone now.

I do have a picture I took of the magazines I managed.


When I left the publisher in the early part of 1970 I went to work for Lincoln Bank. It was the new kid in town and very innovative. I began work in the operations center somewhere up 38th Street in West Philadelphia. I would walk from my University City apartment, through Powelton Village to our site, which was beneath a parking lot.

I am not positive, but I think the above picture on the right is of the site as it looks today. You can't tell from the photo, but looking down from above on Google Maps you can see cars do park on the roof.

The bank then moved its operations from West Philly to a site on Sansom Street near 13th. Would you believe it? We were under another parking lot, this time a garage. Here we were in the basement with some of the biggest roaches I ever hope to see.

I left that bank when they lied to me (another story).  Lincoln Bank no longer exists, it was gobbled up by a bigger bank decades ago and the bank that gobbled it up was gobbled up by a bigger bank and so on until I couldn't tell you all the gobblers anymore.

Now I went to North Philly, rode the Frankford El to Tioga and then walked down to Tulip Street to my Office Manager/Cost Accounting position with Olson Brothers, Inc. They were an egg-breaker. They're gone, too.

I am not absolutely certain, but I think this was the site where they were as it looks on Google Maps today.


When Olson's closed after I had been there only one year, I ended up on Weccacoe Avenue in South Philly working for Welded Tube Co. of America, largest of their kind in the day, but also no longer in existence.

It may not look it in these google map pictures, but that office was very futuristic looking at the time.



On the left is a photo I took of our lobby at the time. The man standing there was my friend, Victor. This was on his birthday.


On the right is me at my desk. I was the Assistant Controller.






Here I am a year or so later at my other desk. I was still Assistant Controller, but I had added being the Systems Manager to my title, so I alternated offices. I had also shaved my beard.

I don't know who, if anyone, owns the factory now. The area looks a bit disheveled these days. The long building running back into the distance from the offices was the plant. We made structural steel tubing in there.

But in 1978, because of the economic situation in the steel business, the owner decided to close down the Philadelphia operations, which was the headquarters and main plant, and move to Chicago.


The Little Woman and I, just having our first child, did not want to move to Chicago, although the company offered me a good amount of money to do so. Instead I ended up here.

Actually this seems to be a new headquarters built on the site of the one I was in at Mercy Catholic Medical Center in Darby. I came on as Budget Director.


Although my office was in the headquarters building, I spent time in the other buildings of the Center, which wasn't all that centered.

I had to spend sometime in Fitzgerald Mercy Hospital, which is also where one of my children had died some years earlier and where my second daughter to live would be taken to Neo Natal ICU to keep her alive.


I would also travel into our other hospital in Philadelphia. It was called Misericordia at that time, but when I was pulling this photo off Google maps I see it has changed its name to Mercy Philadelphia Hospital.

It looks pretty much the same.



After two years I left the Medical Center (another story for another time) and became an Operations, Methods and Project Manager in Deposit Services and Data Preparation for a large bank in Delaware.
That didn't mean I didn't have different jobs or always work in the same building. I became first an Operations Officer, then a Retail Banking Officer, then a Financial Officer and when I was finally pushed out 21 years later, I was a Marketing Officer and a Senior Marketing Information Database Administrator.

When I began there I had an office on the mezzanine of the Monchanin Building on Tenth Street.





A couple years later we moved to the new headquarters, which was a high rise built within the shell of the old post office and simply called The Center.


Here are the different buildings I worked in for the bank thereafter:



In 1988 they opened a new operations center called The Plaza. Here on the left I am preparing to move all my stuff out of my Wilmington Office to my new office in the New Castle Corporate Commons and on the right, a few years, pounds and less hair later, in my Plaza office.

In the mid-nineties I bounced around a lot, leaving the Plaza to return to The Center.

That is part of The Plaza on the left and the front of The Center on the right.









Then to an office high up in the Pei Building.


















And finally, before I was forced into retirement, an office in the new Plaza in downtown Wilmington next to the YMCA.













Now after I left that bank, I signed on with a temp agency. Where did they send me for a job?

Why with that bank, of course.

The job was located in this windowless building, though. The Bank had some operations in the Brooks Armored Car Money Room.







The temp jobs were not very steady, so I got a part time job with a printing company called Mercantile Press. I was the assistant accountant.







I was there about a year and a quarter, then due to cost reductions was let go. I next had a job as Office Administrator for the Juvenile Diabetes research Foundation.

The irony of this job was I was back in the Monchanin Building where I had had my first office in Wilmington. Now I was on the twelfth floor, which back in that day had been the executive offices of the Chairman and other high officers of the bank.

The building was now called The Community Services Building.




I didn't find this job a good fit and left after a short time. I decided I wanted a different type of work, something more physical, with less stress where I wouldn't take worry or work home with me. I found it as a stock person at Chico's, a ladies fashion boutique in Greenville.

That job lasted 4 1/4 years and then I was hired away to another store and another stock position.




This job is in the new wing of the large Christiana Mall. How long will it last? Who knows? Will I go to another building someday to work? To tell the truth, I hope not. I hope this is my last stop in the work-a-day world.

Time will tell.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

End of Year What To Do?

Well, here we are coming to the end of yet another year. Each time I have the urge to make changes. Last year I split things up into a million blogs; this time I compressed them down to a handful.

I again apologize to some who I have email connection with because I didn't remember to erase their email address in the settings soon enough and am sure I buried them with old and unwanted posts by the hundreds.  I'm sorry. At least I caught this before I did all my shifting of posts.

But that isn't the problem this year. I began this Blog several months ago, but I wonder if I shouldn't end it. I don't think anyone is reading it; I get no responses at all to it anymore. I see I get more volume of people reading the Blog I stopped adding to six months ago much more then this one.

So now I am thinking, after doing a lot of shifting about, maybe I shall just stop Blogging all together, at least publicly. Or maybe I will remove everything but "Night Writing in the Morning Light" and go back to just adding to it.

Still considering what to do, but it seems silly to just keep on talking to myself.




Illustration is "Father Time Overcome by Love, Hope and Beauty" by Simon Vouet, 1627

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A WRITER WALKS AND WRITES OF WALKING


I: A NEW BEGINNING


Stepping Out Again

Always been a walker, always been a writer who found poetry in the pace of a solitary jaunt. Yet it had been awhile since I went a wandering. Many things conspired against me. The harsh winter was one. Having all the streets buried under three feet of snow doesn't encourage a hike.

Snow eventually melts, but sometimes pain is a halter no matter the weather. My feet, my knees, my hips had those pain chains arthritis forged about them and I lacked the courage to challenge those shackles. Something about every step feeling like a knife up your instep and a razor across your toes makes you want to stay still.

Perhaps that assault of pain was related to my thyroid medication not working.  I don't know. It eased up since I changed pills, although some of it is always there to remind me.

Nonetheless, on the heels of my healing heels came blazing summer weather, temperatures in the upper nineties and high humidity to match. Not really the type of air to entice one outside.

The temperature broke this week and a friend has been writing much about his morning walks so this day I stepped out again. I headed down an old route I tramped many time in the pass, especially when walking the dog I once had. I did it with a bit of hesitation wondering could I go the distance or would it become difficult to walk back? When you haven't traipsed a decent distance for a year or more you can no longer be certain of your capacity. We would give it a shot and see what happens.

Some things have changed, some for the better, some for the worse. The photo at the top of the post was taken a couple years ago. I am guessing that may have been one of the last times I actually walked this particular circuit. Anyway, there is a cement path between two houses at the far edge of my community that lead toward I-95. Looking straight down the path you can see the highway. On either side of the path are some hedges and yards.

That was then, this is now. The picture on the right was the first I took this morning, looking down the same path between those two houses, but now the hedges are gone. In their place stand six foot high wooden fences. Behind these fences lurk dogs. On the gate of the right barrier was a sign stating the dog contained within "can cross the yard in 2.6 seconds, can you?" As I walked down this path I heard another dog barking in the yard to the right.

It's sad we have reached this fortress state to keep the darker nature of mankind out.

I walked on beyond the fences to the pathway beyond the development.


Now it is up the footbridge that crosses I-95. First thing I notice here is that the fencing is all new double reinforced and the space between links is much smaller, a protection from people throwing objects onto the highway below. Another sign of the growing darker forces in our society.

If the Little Woman had her way they would tear this footbridge down. I like its convenience, or use to, for crossing to the library, but I haven't gone to the library in ages either. But others still might and a new population is growing over on that side of things.

Upon the pathway are blocks of graffiti. Not the old graffiti I remember. Someone must have come and scrubbed that away. This is newer, bolder, larger.

I pause upon some scribbling at the center of the bridge under the thick canape of silver wire. It is a bit after seven o'clock, just on the outer fringe of rush hour and the highway hasn't thickened with the flood of commuters yet. Most of the traffic is coming from the East, from where Chester and then Philadelphia are just beginning to stir.

I am off today. I have no need to rush anywhere, so amble on.



At the base of the bridge I turn right, down the path of darkness behind the tennis court between the athletic fields.  This way has always been hidden and  sequestered, seemingly unconnected from the world around it, something of the place to dumb the body, but it has become more overgrown along its banks than ever.

There are spots of mud across the pavement from recent rains. I step carefully.




The buildings here were once high schools and the whole grounds behind them are athletic fields. They seem to be going to seed now, where when before I crossed this way they were still well kept, still used for this and that. There was Pee Wee football on that distant field in the fall, the stands ringing with the cheers and encouragements of parents. But as I gaze across this morning I see no stands and the goal posts are gone. It is just a field. The old white snack stand is still there, perhaps it is a storage shed now. To the far side is a new playground for smaller children, which makes sense since the old high school was converted into some kind of elementary school a few years back.  I can see some slides and a wooded climbing apparatus in the center. There are no swings, no merry-go-rounds, no monkey bars, no risks allowed us anymore in this age of pantywaists, worrywarts and fools.

I'm wondering what else is missing and it dawns on me there is no high cage around the tennis court and no net. Even the poles that use to hold the net have been removed. Grass is pushing up through fissures in the court surface. All-in-all it is a forsaken and forlorn scene.

The baseball diamonds to the other side haven't faired much better. The backstops and dugout cages still remain, but weeds and vines are crawling up the links and the place has a look of disuse. These use to be practice fields for Little League, a decade ago my son played on these fields in preparation for the season. They did double duty for the Girls' Club and the after school program  located in the Community Center.

The back wall of the old high school is covered with graffiti. When I come closer there is dinginess and defeat on the faces of the Library, the brick building in the center, and the Community Center off to the right.



I move from the back to the front of the complex. This building has a history. Once it was a high school, the first school integrated in the segregated South.


Constructed 1924-25. Also known as the Green Street School. Prominent in United States history as the first public high school in the 17 segregated states to be legally integrated. (1951-1952)




Plaque commemorating integration at the old high school.


Today the building is part of the Community Center. 





Next door is the newer old high school, the one that replaced the school now the Community Center. But it is no longer such. Now it an elementary school, thus the playground we passed earlier.


My oldest daughter graduated from this school, but she wasn't happy about it. Her own high school was being renovated her senior year and all the students were shuffled off here. Those of her class called it Clay Mount.










I wonder now. The trek so far has been one tinged with depression. Everything I saw appeared frayed at the edges as if unraveling with age. If I continue on along Green Street or down these quiet side streets of town will I find more wear and tear?


Or will there be something pointing to a better tomorrow, signs of new life for the old town?


Will I be able to record it? My batteries are growing weak. I set off with no money or plastic cards in my pockets so even if there might be a store open so early I have nothing to buy replacement batteries with. 


So what lies ahead? Will my batteries fail? Will my hopes for a brighter vision ahead fail?


Is this American Picker's paradise a good or bad sign?


We shall see, we shall see.



Moving On

I've come a mile, I'm not turning back. The morning is comfortable. My pains are not disruptive, although I can feel slight tinges in my feet now.  I continue down Green Street, passing peaceful cross streets at each end of block.

There are no sounds other than an occasional bird tweet. It is still early for a week day. It won't be long before the work day will be calling people out of bed and house.

For now little stirs.

This walk began behind the old high school. There was some solemnity to it, the disappearance of what was the past. It began on a down note, on a minor chord, perhaps it played to the theme of our times, to the economic sourness touching so many. I move on looking for something to rise above all this negativity.

The next marker on my journey isn't it. Does anything point to the depreciation of our society than a church for sale?

I wonder where its congregation went?

But I am a Christian and been a church goer. I've seen the empty pews, the dwindling attendance in long established shrines of worship, watched the attendees grow old and die.

And then there it is, the hope, the up tick for the future.

What, you say? A dead-end beyond which sits mounds of dirt and rubble, can you call this hope?

Yes, I can.

I love this town. Many times in my living here I have heard it slandered. But I have been here nearly three decades and I've seen the community here, the people here and the diversity here. There is a heart to this place as well as a history and as an old song said, "To Know her is To Love Her". I love this town.

There had been a blight here on this spot. The dirt and rubble are what is left of it. I don't know when what was there had been built, but do know they existed in the 1950s and at one time were very nice and considered luxurious. But time has a way at whittling away at things and by the time we arrived on the scene these had become sickly yellow eyesores. Oh, one last gasp was made at resurrecting them, a new paint job that turned them white, but it was too late. The government had done programs, started I'm sure with good intensions, which too often lead to unexpected and unwanted consequences. It brought some sorrows to this place.


Now all that was gone. A new start was beginning on the far horizons. What now was barren fields spotted with mounds of dirt and plowed over rubble had a greater future, hopefully, ahead.

If my batteries hold up enough by the time we arrive at what is coming, I will capture it and show it to you.

For now we will wait.








We turn back toward where we have come to leave the dead end and find a cross street to take us deeper into town.











We pause on a side street to smell the flowers.
















And then we continue on.

















Down the quiet morning streets.













There is a certain loveliness and tranquility here, a charm of old small towns among the homes of the blue collar families of my town.












We reach this dog salon and soon will turn onto a main street of America and I wonder what we will find ahead?