Not for nothing………..

Three months ago on a sunny January afternoon I lost my ability to say anything. A had a stroke and for the rest of that day I could hear but I couldn’t say anything. In a matter of minutes I was transported to the local hospital by my Angela (wife and trained nurse). Her knowledge of the body having a hard time of it immediately went into police action mode and she got me in our vehicle and to the local hospital. Angela’s quick decision and actions probably saved me from extinction -if not from serious damage to my brain. (I will say here that friends and others have either been amazed with Angela’s quick action or have expressed doubt that Angela correctly thought it out and that she should have called 911 emergency service.)All I can is that I thank her for being smart and quick.

Anyway, from the time we arrived at the Dunedin hospital to two days later when I was discharged, I was the recipient of wonderful caring services, provided with love and interest of my well being. I felt immediately that everybody involved was going to make sure that whatever I needed I was going to get. My daughter and her partner not only saw what a first class hospital staff can do for a patient, but I know that since they had just moved to the town that they felt assured that they had access to a very good hospital.

The therapies and the medical services I received within a short time brought and restored me to a pre stroke condition- except for the aphasia I was experiencing. But I was assured that with time I get would get back most, if not all, of my reading, writing and communication skills. To say the least I was skeptical but certainly I would do whatever was necessary. I soon visited the stroke specialists who in all likelihood had seen worse cases. But they all eventually cleared me along with providing me with lots of precautions that I would have to be mindful of for the rest of life.

With speech I worked with an outstanding therapist who quickly encouraged me to get back to the reading and writing as I was doing pre-stroke. Again, I didn’t think I would ever return to writing the email messages or the notes to friends , or letters to editors, or to Angela. But I was encouraged to keep trying. And, so here I am- with my first blog piece since January.

Thanks to all friends and family who wished me well and encouraged me. Thanks to Maia and Trey who watched over me and of course the dogs who had a sense that they could nurse me back to health. Thanks to son Brendan and Monica and Leeloo and Maverick who from far away and rooted and cheered their “poppy” on!

To the doctors, specialists and nurses at Dunedin Hospital thanks to all. And as well to those after care stroke specialists who assured me that this stroke of mine, although scary, was was over! And to Elizabeth who assured me that I could,and should keep blogging, I thank very much.

And finally to my wife Angela and as my partner who made sure she got me to hospital right away. To her I give her my love and big hugs and kisses!

Gifts- All Different

The month of December is a month with wonderful memories of Christmases past. As kids we always enjoyed the different joyous aspects of this holiday. Certainly high on our list of memories would be our school vacations that usually began at the end of the Friday before Christmas. So some weeks when Christmas fell on a Friday school vacation could have begun a week before. And if snow fell in that week there were chances to make a few bucks by shoveling driveways and walks. Whatever we got paid it would add to the small amount of money we would have saved for buying gifts and this was a miracle. In the realm of miracles there was also a chance to receive a card from Uncle Frank in which he would send to each of us a significant amount of money- my memory seems to think his gifts over the years averaged out to be around ten dollars. And ten bucks in 1955 was equal to twenty bucks now. Whatever the amount it would help pay for the gifts on our gift lists and we would feel less worried that we would be emptied handed when it came to gift sharing on Christmas. Whether it was a tie for my father or chocolates for my mother and surprises for my sister and brother, having some way to buy a gift was extra special.

This was especially true when my gifts before were gifts made in school, e.g., a place mat or colorful drawings or a match box holder. All these gifts were special from our hearts but then gifts purchased with our own money was reason for us to know we had entered the commercial world. We were told, and I guess believed, that “bought” gifts were “better” gifts. Today this commercial participation by everybody provides lots of “things” as gifts but not the gifts with the same feeling of the “home/school made”gifts.

One of the best gifts I remember giving was a letter I wrote to my grandmother-“Nana”. This gift was the result of my mother asking me to compose a letter to Nana supposedly written and sent to Nana by my Uncle John. It seems that Nana had fallen and fractured her left hip and was recuperating in a local nursing home. But during this time Nana’s mind began to slip and her memory of recent past was skimpy at best. She had forgotten that her son,who had been living in Arizona, wasn’t able to visit her this coming Christmas. However, Nana thought for sure her son was visiting her that coming Christmas. Our mother had grown tired of trying to correct Nana’s mistaken idea but nothing was changing Nana’s mind. So mother thought that if I composed a letter with the signature of Uncle John it would help Nana accept the fact that her son John wasn’t able to visit her at this time. I resisted at first but decided that my letter would be a wonderful gift for my mother!

“Dear Mama,” I wrote. “Although I thought all of us, Helen, Jane and Joan could visit you for the holidays but due to my work we won’t be able to come. I know that you will have a wonderful Christmas with all of the Murphy’s. We hope that we will be able to visit you in the summer. Right now that is our plan and we all look forward to visiting you. By then your hip will be healed and we will all go to Nantasket beach. You get better soon. Love you, John”

Our mom reviewed what I wrote and with a big kiss she thanked me. Later that Christmas week she took the letter to Nana and read it to her. Nana seemed to accept that her son wouldn’t be making a Christmas visit that year from Arizona. And Nana stopped insisting that her son was coming for Christmas. Peace of mind was given to all.

My mother always said I gave her the best gift ever. And with Nana satisfied that her son planned on a future visit her hip soon got better and she came home from the nursing home soon after the New Year.

Gifts come in all sizes and shape. That year for me to help my mother with our Nana’s inability to accept the reality of a missing son for Christmas was the best gift I ever gave my mother!

Love to all,

Bill

A decision over meatloaf on how we responded to “ but ask what you can do your country?”…

The last blog piece described a real benefit to auto train travel, i.e. the chance to have to have a meal with strangers and chat about whatever you feel like talking about-this is one of the auto-train benefits for all to consider.

In the blog I mentioned that I brought up when conversing with Joe and Terry that my national service had been as a volunteer in the Peace Corps (1963-65). Like a lot of young people’s decisions following college graduation of what to do next, mine had received little thought. Receiving an education degree it seemed to me that beginning a teaching career was logically the next thing ahead for me-Probably in Quincy where I had completed my student teaching and perhaps had a good chance at being hired.

As it happened,  the  “serious” decision of my future plans was made over lunch with my best friend Chris when we both reached the “let’s do it” moment eating the Larry’s Lunch (Bridgewater, Ma.) luncheon special of meatloaf, etc. ( Larry’s Diner was a favorite of students and locals and we all loved their luncheon specials especially the meatloaf.

On the way into Larry’s, Chris tore off from the holder an ad for the joining the Peace Corps. “What about this new Kennedy idea? Join the Peace Corps” “Let’s look into it!” Chris said. And I might have said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country?”  I could have said this because this important thought of John Kennedy had spread throughout the land.In the day that followed one of us wrote off requesting information of procedures for joining up. And soon the application procedures arrived at both of houses.

The details of what happened next are unclear but soon I did send in  the application and learned that the FBI was investigating me and my background. Whatever the FBI discovered was not enough to stop a letter arriving at my  home inviting me to fly to Hilo,Hawaii and begin Peace Corps training with about 150 other invitees to become volunteers in the Philippines.WOW!

Chris similarly followed our decision made over meatloaf and soon got his acceptance letter and he went to Washington, D.C. for his training to be a volunteer in Turkey.

There is probably ten more blogs to be written describing my life as a PCV- all wonderful experiences. But of course, meeting the other applicants and making friends as we went through training was a major highlight.

More to follow. Meatloaf decisions can turn out great!

Thanks for reading.

Bill from Dunedin

Riding the Auto-train……

Recently going North for sister Alice’s 50th wedding anniversary by taking Amtrak’s auto train, Angela and myself met some wonderful people who I would say are now our friends. Making friends on an Amtrak might seem difficult with the usual trip anxiety and stress and strain that all public transportation has these days. But the overnight Auto Train offers everyone an opportunity to meet and talk with fellow riders all going to to Lorton, Virginia. This opportunity happens by having the two meals served in the club cars.  With tables for four set with table cloths and excellent service provided by an overworked staff of Amtrak making new friend can readily happen.

The Amtrak dinner meal has always been for us more than adequate with entre and dessert choices. Having travelled via autotrain at least ten times we might be considered “experts” on this train’s offerings. In a future blog I’ll have more to say about the Amtrak autotrain experience.,but for now I’ll stick to the making of new friends that we experienced.

The first couple, Joe and Terry, that we met were new to the auto train travel. They were our coach neighbors seating across the row from us. We began some conversation soon after departure from Sanford, Florida at the four PM hour. Amtrak runs on time!

Introducing ourselves to Joe and Terry we soon were informed that this trip was their first autotrain and we offered that we were “ old pros” with this method of travel out of Florida. We shared our addresses and probably an opinion on our home towns. And it became obvious to me that sharing our dinner table with them would be a great chance to continue our discussion. They happily accepted our invitation.

This trip at the end of October left Sanford with lots of empty seats. Thus, the usual three dinner times were reduced to one at six pm. Then is when we Passengers  in the coach end of the train made our way to the dinner cars. (Given that there is a section of higher paying passengers on this train and their dining car is in another car, the number of passengers eating at six was further reduced from our past trips which used three seatings for coach passengers

Our dinner conversation was loaded with family and background points being . It was rewarding to share our commonalities regarding retirement and our children and where we all originated etc. Joe, to me looked like a combination of Mickey Mantle and Dick Butkus, with his  closely cropped haircut that used to be called a “wiffle”. Answering my inquiry as to his playing baseball or football he quickly pointed out that he played neither but being raised by a father with military ties was expected to have the look and the behavior of a US Marine. And lo and behold he did join the Marines and soon after was sent to Vietnam in 1969 to fight as a 19 year older.

Thus, we realized that all of us were in the same age grouping. And we all “came of age” in the sixties and seventies. Remembering those days was a dinner topic of common interest. I pointed out that I was a Peace Corps Volunteer and missed the military experience. Joe had lots to say about how he was received after his service  by so called “peaceniks” but it seem to me he recognized my service as a praise worthy one.

Our desserts came and soon we realized we were the last left of the dinner eating passengers and with subtle staff messages, we realized it was time to move our discussion to the club car. We did this and for another hour kept our friendly conversation going with after dinner drinks.

I think we all saw this chance meeting with our discussion of our past ways of serving both the Marines and Peace Corps on that October night  was a special Amtrak treat.

Off to our “bed” we went. Here, I’ll point out that due to not being able to sleep on the train the coming of next day’s daylight was a special occasion for me. Angela got an “excellent” sleep and at the crack of dawn was ready to get to breakfast.

Autotrain breakfast’s are continental style easily matching the Econolodge breakfasts with cereal, fruit and coffee served by the pleasant staff but no steak and eggs. The breakfast serves the purpose of getting all passengers up and ready to detain for another travel day.

Joining us for our breakfast was a man who looking to sit was pointed toward us. We introduces each ourselves to “Bob” and began chatting over coffee and cereal with bananas. Background discussions again included the usual and before long we learned that Bob was an ex-Peace Corps Volunteer. Well as a former PCV myself, you can surmise the questions and answers that followed. Bob served a little later than I did and he was located in Brazil. After an hour or so we realized again we were the only ones left in the dining car and with less than hour til arrival we said our goodbyes.

One thing that remains with me, after this overnight train trip is the wonderful friendly discussions we had with three individuals traveling North for different occasions- Bob was going to Philadelphia to attend his high school’s fiftieth reunion and Joe and Terry headed to Baltimore to be with their children.

Joe, Bob and myself reminisced about the service opportunities we chose and I think appreciate to this day both the highs and lows these service choices have provided us. Experiences that helped us to see how serving the country probably changed the course of our lives for the better and maybe many others.

I know that I always encourage young people I meet to consider national service of some sort. I also know that more choices should be offered to young people to chose from. Traveling, working to help others and learning to speak another language are all benefits that provide lifelong satisfaction. Neither Joe, Bob or myself were ever the same after our experiences. Although Joe lived with far more danger than Bob and myself did, we all were able to be thankful we lived to tell others about our service choices. Young people need to welcome experiencing national service of all kinds and to reap the benefits from these experiences as Joe, Bob and myself did.

This blog describes two brief encounters with new friends. Driving up Interstate  never would have allowed us these brief,but significant meetings. Give the  auto train trip a try. I know you’ll be experiencing a great way of traveling! Go Amtrak!

Suggested Titles……..

Why not share my suggestions for reading I thought as I was looking at my Kindle library. Some are happy that evidence of my love of reading no longer is obvious as it used to be when I would bring home from local library or from Barnes and Noble or from the neighbors yard sale the books I thought I should read in order to prove to myself that I am a serious supporter of enlightenment. Lots of titles included recommended ones as well as those that seemed at the time of purchase that I would be in the “in crowd” and be able to state something of interest from my read of the book.

As I look now at those titles that remain in my holdings I see a variety of titles still linking with my present interests. For example I located a Nutshell Library Edition of Sherwin Cody’s “An Evening with Lincoln”. This 1945 copyright edition looks almost mint to me and I’m sure that besides me there are others very interested in this wonderful little book. Anything “Lincoln” captures my interest so I’ve read Dorothy Kearn’s “Lincoln Team of Rivals” and her insights into Lincoln’s strengths show that disagreements can have outcomes good for all.

Still remaining in my non-Kindle library are many books-those both read and unread. Being alive means having a curiosity that needs “answers” thus the books still around are those purchased or found to feed my curiosity. So having a thick book titled “The Art of Fermentation” by Sandor Ellis Katz has now been brought back out as I try to show wife Angela how with her assistance we’ll brew a better tasting of pear wine that nephew David and Uncle Lee will make. We’ll see!

This blog of mine could be a continuous review of books still found in boxes or even those found in my Kindle library.And I will bring to readers attention those suggested titles. As I see the use of blogs I realize how we all can share what we liked or didn’t like about a recent read.

I love reading!

Amissville, Va. …..

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A few blog thoughts as we travel Back to our Dunedin Florida home this week following a brief stay in Rhode Island. This trip was made so we could attend the wonderful 50th wedding anniversary celebration of Alice and Ed Connerty. A truly special time with lots of stories and great food with the many friends and relatives of the happy couple. A big thanks to the Connerty children for the memorable time had by all. Also, many thanks to Helen and Lee for hosting us during our stay. Helen and Lee true friends forever.

Although we did use the Amtrak auto-train to get us half the way to Rhode Island, we decided we would drive the whole way back to Florida. In doing this, we would made a stop to visit and stay for a couple of days in Amissville, Va. at Adair Ciolfi’s beautiful home. The view from the living room is a big enough reward, not to speak of the gracious hospitality and kindness of Adair and the friendship of Charley the dog.

Oh yes, we have stopped here a number of times over the years to visit Adair and Angela’s brother John. (John left this paradise two years ago and is truly missed by all). John loved all of his life with Adair and his daughter Angela here in the Amissville house. The vistas out the front window of the spectacular Blue Ridge mountains along with John’s favorite TV viewing room have always been a welcoming place to stay and relax.

Our visits here, go way back starting when all of us, Maia, Brendan, Phil and Jim, our dog Buffy, Angela and myself started out from Warwick, R.I. in our 74 red Volvo wagon on a cold early pre-winter night. Traveling through the night over and through the Appalachia and Allegheny hills and valleys on interstate 81 we safely arrived to enjoy breakfast with John, Adair and Angela. Besides some icy patches and lots of deer to watch out for, there were the numerous trucks traveling South or West. My memory of the trip now is skimpy but you can only imagine the moments of emotions that the young and old experienced in our Volvo.

For both Angela and myself this midpoint place has always offered us good rest, great food and late into the night conversations with Adair. For me Adair is always ready to answer our questions on Virginia history as well as on any other topics- her wonderful mind is better than any ol Wikipedia. And Adair, a fine cook, always makes sure we eat three full meals.

Yesterday, following our dinner meal it was Red Sox World Series time and with the Sox victory the day ended on a happy note. And I know that John, as well as Jim Ciolfi, were both there in spirit to share the moment. They both loved the Sox so much!

We’ll continue on tomorrow heading to North Carolina and a stay at the “Choice” brand of motel that serves our needs. But for sure, no place will ever compare with the Amissville- Ciolfi house.

A Big Happy Birthday to..

Brother George. Yes on October 17, 1936 mother Gertrude gave birth to our oldest brother who was named George Bartholomew Murphy by Gertrude and George Sr.

As we know, ” George” became known as “Georgie” by his family and friends.And I know that we all wish him “Georgie” a big “happy birthday” this October 17th and certainly wish many more happy birthdays to our wonderful brother, uncle, brother in law and great friend.

Searching the Murphy family tree and the branches of this tree for ancestors who George could have been named after, I find only one “George” possibility that might have been raised then by mom and dad when over a beer they reviewed the possible uncles who George the second (our Father George being the first) could have been named after.Lo and behold, in the Murphy family not one George-other than father George (and BTW who was he named after?) can be identified.

So let’s speculate who my father George Bartholomew was named after. I’ll guess that the “Bartholomew” was taken from the father of Ellen Cavanaugh who would be our father’s mother – Ellen, or Nellie Cavanaugh one of seven from Bangor, Maine who through some miracle met John Murphy and thus began the Murphys from New London.

Now, it could have happened that over that beer that Gertrude and George we’re enjoying, Gertrude suggested naming “Georgie” after an ancestor of hers on her father’s side named Anton Michael GEORGE Bartelmess from Saarland, Germany. My mother’s grandfather, A.M. George is considered the founding father of the McGarty-Bartelmess branch of the tree (a subject for another blog piece). And for Gertrude to have brought A.M.George up as a possible namesake, she would known lots about Anton Michael George from Saarland. Possible, but not likely.

Another possibility was that Gertrude and George had just seen a movie starring the famous actor George Murphy. (Middle name was Lloyd). George L. Born in 1902 couldn’t have been the namesake for George Sr. since he was born a couple years after the birth of GBM Sr. But alas, he was born in New Haven, Ct. and maybe he was the family favorite of the New London Murphy’s. And perhaps as well, Gertrude and George did develop a love for him after seeing him in his first movie, “Kid Millions” (1934). But you know, I tend to doubt all that happened. And, given that eventually George the actor went on to be the Republican Senator from California in 1964, I really doubt the our strong Democrat father would have thought much of him.

No, I am going to go with the “fact” that our brother, and great friend, was expected to carry on the name given to his father “George Bartholomew” And I believe he and Carol quite proudly passed “George Bartholomew” onto their son.

But I will continue searching for any other ” George” that could have been on Gertrude and George’s mind on October 17, 1936.

Happy Birthday George. Love you!

Bill

The NLRB stands for………….

Since the beginning of the NLRB, in 1935, as an independent federal agency set up for purposes of keeping the peace at the work places for all Americans the board has done it’s work without lots of attention from the average citizen except for by union reps and management lawyers. NLRB is the”National Labor Relations Board” and with the goal of, “Keeping the peace at the workplace” has had the legal functions of 1. To decide, when petitioned by employees, if an appropriate bargaining unit exists for collective bargaining; 2. To determine by secret-ballot elections (conducted by the NLRB) whether the employees in a business or industry wish to be represented by labor unions; and 3. To prevent or correct unfair labor practices by employers and unions.

Although decisions reached by the NLRB are without the power of enforcement, the Board can seek enforcement through a U.S. Court of Appeals. For example, NLRB rulings have led to the establishment of industrial unionism. And, these rulings led to the development of unions for employees in the public sector.

Before I retired from the faculty, I served as president of the Massachusetts State College Association (MSCA) -the union for the faculty of the nine public state colleges of Massachusetts. Following the outcome of NLRB rulings was an interest of mine as the MSCA president. And even in retirement I continue to follow the cases and issues that come to the NLRB for a ruling. And then in most cases go the Court for a decision of support or rejection.

Because the NLRB decisions have to be presented as petitions for the US. Court of Appeals to rule on, it is necessary to watch for decisions handed down by the judges of the US Appeals. One judge that has put out his decisions regarding the NLRB is the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. And sadly enough for anyone interested in labor relations, Kavanaugh consistently has reached decisions that are seriously against rights of workers to organize themselves.

He, Kavanaugh, if chosen today will make for a majority of Supreme Court justices who will lean toward an anti labor sentiment. Just google Kavanaugh’s decisions against the NLRB rulings since the time he was appointed to the DC Court of Appeals to see how he sees the role of the NLRB in providing for worker rights. Unfortunately, due to the failure of the Senate Judiciary Committee to fully review Kavanaugh’s decisions in regards to the NLRB there hasn’t been any discussion on his anti union sentiments from Senator who are about ready to vote on his confirmation.

Woe is the state of the union along with all other just causes and rights enjoyed by women and men when Kavanaugh begins his Supreme Court duties.

Unions Forever…..

Bill Murphy

The Ginty side of the Family-part one………………..

As I study and present the different branches of the Murphy tree I realize more and more how interesting each of the families that make our tree were and continue to be.

This blog edition begins to present the Ginty family- the family of our “Nana”, the mother of Gertrude McGarty Murphy. Nana, as she was called by the Murphy children, was Elizabeth Frances Ginty before she married William McGarty on January 28, 1903 in Malden, Massachusetts. A year later, on March 22, Nana’s daughter was born and named Gertrude Anna ( one other birth record shows that her name was Anna Gertrude) and a few years later a second child,a son, was born to Elizabeth and William McGarty and he was named John Robert (b. June 21, 1906).

The Ginty family of Cambridge, Ma. begins with Michael A. Ginty who arrived from Ireland (County Meath) as a young boy. I’ve inserted here a photo of his obituary which provides a brief description of Michael Edward Ginty’s life:

As you read this obituary from 1920, you read that Michael A. Ginty ,age 76,, my great grandfather, immigrated from Ireland when he was a youngster, fought in the Civil war as a young man, helped raise a family and was a Cambridge police officer for many years. Wow what a life!

One can only imagine the life stories Michael A. Ginty told his children as they grew up in Cambridge at 99 Norfolk Avenue at the turn of the century.

As the obituary reports, three of his children were living at the time of Michael A.’s death. Our grandmother Elizabeth and her brothers William Barker and James H. attended the funeral. Of course, I assume that Elizabeth attended, but given the distance from Hingham to Cambridge, perhaps she was unable to travel to the service.

The funeral service was held at son James H.’s house in Cambridge with many police officers present. William Barker, son of Michael A., a police officer himself at the time of his father’s death, eventually became a captain of the police force. (I’ll write more about William B. in future blog piece).

Michael A. Ginty married Annie Barker in 1864-probably just before he went off to battle in the Civil War. There first child born Ellen was born in 1865 with their son James born in 1867. Elizabeth is born in 1871 with six others born later in the seventies. The Ginty family of Cambridge at the latter part of the century had arrived.

I’ll describe in greater detail in upcoming blog pieces the Gintys of Norfolk Avenue, Cambridge.

Again, if anyone has any family tree questions please raise these questions. Also, I send these blog pieces to individuals with email addresses that I have. Please send me any email addresses for anybody you think should be listed to receive my blogs.

Thanks

Bill