Issued at the whim of the editor-publisher-reporter-compositor-printer-flyboy-deskman & janitor.
Containing selected articles and some original items thought up while sitting before the keyboard.
When This Dying Century was a Newborn
One hundred years ago as 1899 turned to 1900 on New Year’s Day, the United States really didn’t amount to a tinker’s dam on the world scene. Today, we’re blamed for anything that goes wrong on this planet.
However, the nation stepped into the 20th century pretty well satisfied with itself. Wall Street, not yet surpassing London as the financial center of the world, was undergoing a “prosperity panic” and banker James T. Woodward declared that America was “the envy of the world.” London, still the monitor of the world, reported that 1899 had been a year of progress everywhere.
Even the Boer War had a bright side because the longer it lasted the more trade it promoted for America. In Europe, on the first day of the new century, only Emperor William of Germany voiced war talk, declaring the German navy would become as strong as his army.
New York’s entry into the 1900s was dull that day while in Washington, 2,000 stood in line to greet President William and Mrs. McKinley at the White House. Holiday dinners were served in prisons and other institutions where there was little reason to celebrate while hundreds of thousands were dying of famine in India.
Fifty thousand turned out for the 11th annual Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade and celebrants could buy a bottle of Plantation Whiskey for 75 cents. In Havana, Cubans staged a torchlight procession to press their quest for freedom. In Honolulu, Hawaiians asked for a delegate to the Republican National Convention and Canada’s Klondike continued to attract gold miners.
Commentary: Coping with Those Monstrous SUVs
by Prop’s Wife June
We pulled into a space in the parking lot of a local mall. In front of us was the biggest SUV of them all, an Expedition, or one of the other monsters they call SUVs. I said, “If they ever run into my little station wagon, I’m dead meat.”
What family in this part of the country needs these monsters? Maybe at a logging camp or a farm, but every family now seems to opt for an SUV for a second vehicle. Those gas guzzlers don’t deter them, or the higher prices. I’ve decided it has to be the American psyche that bigger is better. Every few days we hear that someone lost control of one of these monsters and rolled over. Remember Monica Lewinsky’s roll-over?
Pure and simple, it is a power trip. Often we have said, when someone cut us off, “Now’s the time I wish I had a tank!” Parking next to one or between two risks an accident because you can’t see backing out! My solution: Designate special parking spots for trucks and SUVs as we do for the handicapped. Is anyone listening?
We devote Poetry Page 3 this issue to the work of Arthur Shenefelt, a dear friend, dedicated to another dear friend, the late mayor of Princeton, N.J., Barbara Boggs Sigmund, whose life ended all too soon nine years ago because of cancer.
Barbara first lost an eye and she bravely carried on a busy public life, wearing eye patches color coded each day to match her attire.
She and Arthur joined in the fight to complete a highway by-pass around Newton, Bucks County, Pa. And pressed the case for 18 million dollars successfully on Capitol Hill, where Barbara’s mother, Lindy Boggs, was then a veteran member of the House Appropriations Committee.
Barbara realized the commuter implications from a neighboring state for the thousands of Bucks Countians who travel daily from their homes to research and development firms around Princeton. She willingly joined in the battle for a major highway project with interstate impact.
Barbara came from a major politically connected family. Her mother, now U. S. ambassador to the Vatican, entered into her own political career after her husband, Hale Boggs, Democratic majority leader in the House, was lost in an Alaskan plane crash in 1972 and never found.
Lindy was in a key spot to advance the crucial Newtown legislation on Capitol Hill. Barbara’s sister, Cokie Roberts, is an ABC-TV correspondent covering Congress and politics in Washington.
Shenefelt has been a major player in national and international transportation circles, drafted the legislation establishing the Northeast rail corridor and its speedy Metroliners while in the office of U. S. Sen. Vance Hartke and is an adviser to the Japanese highspeed Hokkaido rail line.
He now is busy pushing mightily for the United States to overtake overseas leadership in Maglev levitation transit development.
Des Did It! – A New Jersey DJ Found Johnny Doughboy on a Kay Kiser Tape
The long-overlooked World War II hit song, Johnny Doughboy Found a Rose in Ireland, has surfaced at last.
Remembered by few and neglected through all the 50th World War II anniversary years by the music industry, this first love song to appear after Pearl Harbor rose from obscurity earlier this summer in a tape aired by Des McBride, a popular DJ on Radio Station WWJZ in Mount Holly, N.J.
Tuesdays and Thursdays between 3 and 4 p.m., he replays those early 1940s radio shows that helped to sell war bonds.
July 8, he aired a 1942 Kay Kiser show that included Johnny Doughboy, Kiser’s hit that spring.
We here at The Buck Creek Press have lamented for a decade in various articles the neglect of this danceable tune by purveyors of nostalgic tapes recalling music from those war years.
The song was created so soon after the Pearl Harbor attack that the term, GI, hadn’t become part of public speak and the World War I designation, “doughboy,” was revived.
The unique background of the song is that Al Goodhart and Kay Twomey released it about the time the first American troops landed in Londonderry – as if the authors knew ahead of time that this first Yankee force soon would be headed for Europe in the very early days of preparations for the D-Day assault on the continent that took place two years later.
In the spring of 1942, one of the pulp magazines that carried the lyrics of popular songs bannered Johnny Doughboy in a cover-page ribbon announcing, “Johnny Doughboy: Hit Of The Day.”
Today, the internet lists it as one of Kiser’s hits of that year and also lists many, many popular songs of those years now ignored by the purveyors of nostalgia songs written and released between 1941 and war’s end in 1945.
Instead, the CD and tape sellers run in some of the big songs of that period and fill out the tapes with other charts popular long before and ‘way after the Yankee World War II years.
They did that a decade ago and they are doing it again now that the 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor is approaching again. Many of the tapes are not much more than duplicates of the ones they sold 10 years ago, only the more expensive CDs were not on the market then.
It doesn’t bother me that Donovan McNabb, the young inexperienced quarterback recruited this year by the hapless Philadelphia Eagles has negotiated a contract in the millions for his services on the field.
I wouldn’t pay the price to see him play, anyway, a price driven sky-high and out of reach of many parents who can’t afford to take their kids to see a game any more.
The greed of humanity is no more evident than on the professional playing fields where most athletes are not worth the fraud they have perpetrated on the public. McNabb is just the latest one and, like the Eagles, can be expected to fade by Halloween or even by Rosh Hashanah.
* * * *
Are raisins making their last stand? It would seem so, much to Prop’s chagrin.
I’ve been a lifelong devotee of raisin used in many forms by the dessert makers in my life but one by one over the years, the uses of raisins seem to be shrinking. We even published in these columns a couple of years ago a declaration that golden raisins could be used in combating arthritis.
That turned out to be wishful thinking and we had to take water on that one.
No longer, though, can we ask in a restaurant for doubled-covered raisin pie. The Pennsylvania Germans always called it “funeral pie” and they had it for dessert at every luncheon after a funeral. That custom has disappeared but always gets remembered sometime during the last rites or reception afterward.
No longer can restaurants be counted on to have rice pudding with raisins. The last bastion for raisins, it seems, is raisin toast and Prop’s the last pilgrim in the family who asks for that with sunny-side-up eggs.
Like the mighty Mudville Nine, it appears raisins have done struck out.
* * * *
It’s been some July and August here in the drought-bitten Northeast. We’re already pining for October.
In 1955, a similar drought hit the East and was particularly cruel to the Delaware Valley. It prompted the New Jersey Legislature to hold hearings on how to meet the crisis.
The day of the hearing, it had begun to rain and by the time the session was under way, the Delaware River was lapping at the ground-level doors of the State House in Trenton.
What had come knocking was Hurricane Diane that before it was all over, would reshape the Delaware Valley, sweeping away many bridges and flooding many towns.
* * * *
That Kathy Lee Gifford who appears almost daily with Regis Philbin on their morning TV shows is developing quite a cackle.
by The Prop
Check the rash of new car advertising abroad in the land about the time the September bundle reaches you.
For the printer devoted to proper use of all the characters in a font of type, there will be plenty of examples of the erroneous use of the apostrophe.
Unless I miss my guess and there has been a sea change in the highly paid advertising agencies of the nation where the TV commercials and the print media advertising are created for the multi-billion-dollar automotive industry that should demand perfection, the misuse of the simple apostrophe will be widespread.
The designated year – ‘00 – of the new models will show up in full-page, full-color ads in the prints and in the too frequent TV commercials as ‘00.
The correct punctuation mark – the apostrophe (‘) – will not appear but the incorrect opening quote mark (‘) will.
It’s the kind of thing that isn’t an error at all but the product of careless practitioners paid much more than the worth of their talent.
The computer is the cause and proves once more it will prevail. The apostrophe appears after a space – as in ‘99 and ‘00 – and not after a letter – as in won’t – and this requires a special keyboarding usually neglected.
Just you watch and see!
by Arthur B. Shenefelt, poet
The Colossus of Rhodes could only be imagined by the poet: The great king’s towering figure scattered in pieces lying along forgotten sands. I saw his equal, standing upright in the figure of a woman. She stood squarely, dying, defiant and straight, talking about a book of poetry she had just written: “An Unfinished Life.” She was right about her life. It is not finished yet. Barbara Boggs Sigmund, mayor of Princeton, N.J., died immediately thereafter in 1990, the victim of cancer that claimed one of her eyes. Seen at the last, before hundreds of friends from all walks of life, drawn there to the Institute For Advanced Study, Einstein’s scholarly home, standing in true greatness, vividly defying mind-boggling, seemingly cruel outward signs of grueling death. She rose far above all of it.
Some of the things she stood and worked for, in technology, in art and equal rights, nine years later are working still. Her life remains on-going and unfinished in 1999.
I’ve seen woman in the works of man, beheaded, armless, winged stone in flight
Forwarding armor over French barricades
Each fearless forever alone.
This is the way winner woman stands
And no one tells man.
Sigmund tells us, it’s all there
I saw her standing
Like the skeleton of Socrates
No flesh to tear
Mind standing clear
Not a shimmer of fear
Two “eyes out” for thee
One cast away, sacrifice, bagatelle?
Fiercely, of the other beware
It glows, like a human birthed beacon
Challenging a crowd of manifest kindness and
Unbending of gladsomeness newborn.
Does each of us dare to stand four-square shorn?
She already lost one eye while still a
Casting in her eye’s vision’ grip to see
Time standing future in a flick present instant
Straight through brainless sentimentality.
Eyeless in Gaza
Is child’s play beside woman
Beauty, yes easily forgot
Worn, old, deprecated especially by
Short-statured poets, usually too fearful to risk
Being spurned, by these gleefully in eternal
Pages scorned. They belittle their own meaning.
But beauty laid aside by woman has meaning.
Beyond anything in man’s verse
Sigmund’s stands for beauty as time’s worth.
If woman is but shell for man wrapped
In her tone, in her verse,
In Sigmund’s eye we glimpse woman,
Inside, high up,
Full planted, two-legged, set on earth.
For insightful man this is mystery in majesty wrapped.
This is the nurse and the call to arms,
This is God’s love and assurance of strength
The awesome find of every battlefield
No quarter here, plain little girl, ribbons
Mother and wonder in curls,
Man not the ghost of a change of seeing within.
We dare not even ask.
This is the centurion.
At last we see it
It is there, explained
It is being.
We can read it.
We can hear it
The little girl’s voice
Echoed in deep throated tone
Man never believes it.
The woman’s soft touch
Man never feels it
These are the songs,
I saw Sigmund, wind-like, fixed hair, reading poems.
I saw her
The breathing Colossus
New York Harbor
Emma Lazarus’ heart
Her verses are not
Man’s vision of her half of our race
But hers is the woman our half
Must yet face.
* * * *
Prop had the pleasure to serve as a judge to select the 1999 Pennsylvania high school journalist of the year, who is Aaron Sharockman, editor of Tidelines, the paper of Pottsville High School.
Even more rewarding is the fact that Aaron went on to be selected 1999’s National High School Journalist of the Year, competing with other state winners for the title, the first ever to come to the state.
His high school paper is a top-shelf example of scholastic newspapering, utilizing great color on pages he designed. He is going to college to become a newspaperman and hopes to become a sports editor some day. His talents are used heavily by the Pottsville Republican on sports and features and he had one leg up with Prop when he displayed the savvy to include the score of the game in either the first or second paragraph of a story.
He even reports what sport is being played!
* * * *
The new term now to describe government facilities and equipment apparently is the word, “asset.”
During the press conferences and interviews with Navy and Coast Guard spokespersons relative to the search for John Kennedy Jr.’s plane, they all referred to “assets” utilized in the effort.
* * * *
Mitch Miller, whose male chorus and Leslie Uggams brightened up TV two decades ago, is back, this time emceeing a PBS series on barbershop quartet music. It’s about time.
From the Mail Bag
From Fred Liddle in Tampa comes this welcome note following our Whim No. 23 complaint that pro-basketball referees don’t call down the big money pros when they walk without dribbling. Wrote Fred:
“You got that right! The NBA refs must have their minds on something other than the game they are supposed to be officiating. Traveling, palming the ball and charging are common-place.
“When college basketball was king before the advent of the NBA, I used to attend college doubleheaders at the old Madison Square Garden and watched referee Pat Kennedy get apoplexic if one player so much as touched another.”
The Buck Creek Press
Issued at the whim of the editor-publisher-reporter-typesetter-flyboy-pressman and janitor.
Wilson L. Barto Sr.
Skippack, Montgomery County,
This is another whim of The Buck Creek Press to be Mac computer set and to be printed offset. Two hundred and twenty-five copies go to members of the National Amateur Press Association. Others go to understanding and sympathetic relatives and friends. The body type and headlines are mostly Caslon. This is a publication of The Press of Buck Creek, founded at Yardley, Bucks County, Pa., in 1967. This quarterly journal first appeared in February 1994, in Weatherly, Carbon County, Pa., and was moved to its current home in Skippack, Montgomery County, Pa., in 1997.