Susan Hazlitt as Tracy Lord. Then he would have to be turned loose unless he, for some reason, desired supervised treatment beyond that. Merry Christmas to all I've returned to the island A Top Drawer 24 team photo is at 5:
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It had to do with the environmental concerns in an area that depends on tourism -- an economic driver that could go horribly awry with a single ecological catastrophe. It had to do with the protests that followed that initial resolution -- the hundreds of arrests that ensued in the following months, and the clogged court up in the Town of Reading.
It had to do with the folks on the Legislature who voted for the storage, and those who voted against it, and their reasons, where given. It had to do with the misguided notion by the Legislature chair that the storage proposal, four years ago, was about to be approved by the governor. That seemed like a big duh. I scrapped that column. It was too easy to beat up on a Legislature that stood alone for so long, seemingly fighting reason.
She's a remarkable businesswoman who spearheaded the facility in Montour Falls that houses cats and dogs. Our animal friends are so very much better off thanks to her. Her name came to my attention when someone nominating her asked if I could be used as a reference. I said yes, of course. So, the number of females that I and various readers have spotlighted is growing: Belle Cornell, Jane Delano, Dr. But the count right now is 39 men and 5 women in the Hall of Fame.
That disparity needs to change if the Hall hopes to retain a sense of validity. Balloting is currently under way. Click here to access a nomination form. I recently watched one of those wonderful black-and-white classic films -- "Meet John Doe," a Frank Capra-directed gem starring Gary Cooper as the title character and one of my favorite actresses, Barbara Stanwyck. What struck me upon this viewing it had been a few years since I had last seen it was the passion with which the average man and woman portrayed in the film embraced the idea of helping their neighbors.
Back then, the chief forms of communication were radio and newspapers -- in this case a crooked, bad-guy-owned newspaper that spewed dare I say? Now, lo these 77 years later, we have much greater communication through the internet, but instead of drawing us together, it divides us. The newspapers now aren't as vile as the one in "John Doe," but with press reporters now doubling as media read that TV darlings, and with the rise of Fox news as a sort of extension of the governmental right, the effect is the same.
The hero of "John Doe" threatened to jump off a very high tower as a form of protest. With today's lack of decorum, extreme and growing divisiveness, truth twisting, extensive welfare, religious extremism, toothless representatives and senators, government corruption I'm thinking mainly of Albany, but Washington fits, too , rampant pornography, an opioid epidemic, and the absence, for far too long, of the Brooklyn Dodgers, that form of protest rings truer now, I think, than it did in the film.
For those unfamiliar with it, the film ends on an up note, with John Doe stopping short of jumping, carrying his ladylove to safety and, embraced by the common folk, effectively snubbing his nose at the nasty multimedia publisher-curmudgeon. Nowadays, John would have been ripped to pieces by either the left or right or both in the blink of an internet eye.
Analysis prevails now, to the nth. Talking heads propound, and media wannabes spew their bile on blogs. Viral, instead of a type of illness, becomes a communicable way of life: Most everyone who commented agreed with the names I proffered, and some added others, in each case the name of a woman -- for it is hard to refute the fact that a male majority in the Hall of Fame makes it something of a boys club.
The past four induction classes have seen an male advantage -- good picks individually, but completely gender unbalanced. Other names suggested to me since that column was published have included Belle Cornell and Jane Delano, local figures of historical import.
Blanche Borzell was suggested, too. She is a longtime and highly respected physician and coroner. Add to that Carol Bower, the grand caterer who has long provided meals on site and at her home on Cass Road. I would hasten to add Kate LaMoreaux, a Watkins Glen High School swim coach of amazing success who still oversees an annual summer swim program and plays a mean dulcimer. I offer them with the thought that perhaps a reader might have missed a great opportunity for entertainment, and finds it mentioned here.
Things have quieted down tremendously since graduations, and the heat index has gone sky-high. It was over yesterday and today. With summer here and thus no high school sports, my job has eased up, and just in time. I have to start thinking about the future in judicious terms. My annual visit to Bois Blanc Island in northern Michigan should help me recharge. I subsequently got a fairly clean bill of health from the doctor, but he also reminded me that old age comes to us all, and with it diminishing wells of energy.
As long as my mind is sharp and my health holds, I will keep going It's Hall of Fame time The search is on for Schuyler County Hall of Fame nominees. That word comes from the Chamber of Commerce, the moving force behind the Hall of Fame.
The Hall, instituted in , is a gathering of late and living Schuylerites who have passed a strict screening to become members. The list of the Hall of Fame members is not long -- just 44 entrants -- and the selection process less than consistent. It was held annually at its beginning, in the mids, and then took a break of three years, and then a break of another seven years. Then boom, boom, boom -- three straight years with inductions -- and then four off, and three off, and most recently a break of two years.
The membership list encompasses agricultural standouts, political standouts, legal standouts, a woman devoted to the county history, a couple of doctors, educational standouts, and business standouts. Who this next time? Well, I would start with Jim Guild, a man of business foresight and a force in the downtown business community. His operations take up nearly a block of Franklin Street.
Business visionary, religiously oriented, a landlord of several properties, Rotarian. The man is always thinking, and always doing. Some consider him a maverick, which might put him on the outside looking in, but I think the selectors should strongly consider opening that door to him. I would continue with J. This is a man of compassion who has helped many people over the years, including yours truly. Good God, what else do you need to do for induction? And I would heartily endorse the recently departed Frank Steber -- longtime and popular Watkins Glen teacher, and later a columnist Seneca Spectator for the local weekly and the author of three historical novels based right here in our historic backyard: He also served as president of the Watkins Glen Library board and the Schuyler County Historical Society, and had a wide circle of friends drawn to the gentleman he was.
The last time I saw him, not long before his passing, he was selling and signing his books at the Historical Society Museum, and said he was planning another novel. Alas, that will not happen. But the Hall of Fame can. Beyond that, we need more diversity. I would suggest for instance that women be given a much closer look. Right now, there are only five female members of the Hall of Fame: We can do better than that.
And while she predated Schuyler County, she was right here once, and historically significant: Or how about former Watkins Glen Mayor Judy Phillips, who has a long and distinguished history of public service? Or chronicler extraordinaire Glenda Gephart? Do you have a favorite or favorites? You can put in your two cents worth with the Chamber of Commerce until July Now that the year is ending And celebrations have ensued.
We held our Top Drawer 24 party with only minor hiccups. Each party offers a new challenge or two, even after 13 years. Sports awards have been distributed. Meanwhile, signs of summer have arrived. And a carnival with it. And all great fun. And round and round we go But one day, the lottery or a sugar mama or some other stroke of luck willing, I will take the leap. Turns out that he actually leaped from a moving train, and was removed from the scene by the current-day Willoughby Funeral Home.
I trust I have a stronger sense of self-preservation than that. I just have to pace myself. My doctor and my meds tell me so. I used to be athletic -- on the high school varsity baseball team. I developed some power left-handed. I could run rather fast, and throw bullets. Now, if I try to run, my left foot damaged last winter and my right knee the winter before scream out at me in protest. Even without those maladies, speed is not in my arsenal any longer.
Nor, I suspect, is my ability to send a ball over an outfield fence. And my arm was never the same after a rotator cuff injury. It's enough, on occasion, to make me seethe. I used to play; now I spectate. As a fan, though, I find I can act on my admiration of others -- specifically of our high school athletes.
And a fan I am. I especially admired the Top Drawer kids this year. Their achievements are, collectively, mind-boggling. And I admire the winners of the Susan Award, a sportsmanship-in-life honor named after my late wife.
Escapism can be good -- as long as we keep one foot firmly placed in the reality of our existence: The end of a month school year is, for me, the end of a marathon -- with another looming not far ahead. But first comes the Island. It's as essential to me as the air. Sometimes there are bugs. The young lady did not like it, and thus did not remain the fellow's girlfriend for long.
For the Island comes first. The Island has electricity and running water and modern restrooms -- all lacking up there when I was a boy. He did that once from New York -- from Odessa -- back when he was a boy and his Mom was alive. We met them coming in late at night at the Island airfield, just as the wind was picking up from a nasty storm moving in. The craft was getting knocked around pretty good as it landed.
As I remember it, when Dave got out of that plane, he dropped to his knees and kissed the ground. Air travel can do that to you: All the world is a stage For plays in seven acts. From mewling turned to teenaged angst, We move to love and marriage pacts. To parenthood, to preening pride, Then to a certain slide. And in the end, when we revert To loss, we must abide. But on the way it's safe to say, and with no reservation That flight is not in any way Akin to preservation. In all, visits were paid to 10 schools for the presentation of invitations to 24 remarkable student-athlete-citizens selected for inclusion on the 13th annual Top Drawer 24 team.
Cheplick widely known as Chep and I devised this team back in late , while brainstorming in his downstairs rec room. I had not had an exactly embracing experience covering Odessa-Montour sports at the outset, and a trip I had made to the Watkins high school office early in my online venture basically resulted in a rebuff by the principal. But Chep saw the potential -- the need, really -- for The Odessa File in Watkins Glen, and so I relented, and went down to cover a couple of sporting events The Watkins district, I discovered, was as far from O-M as philosophy and caution could take it, O-M being at the time both isolationist and guarded, and Watkins Anyway, we came up with the idea to have me pick Athletes of the Week, based on all that I observe -- which is quite a bit each week; I cover a lot of games involving the two schools.
And then, not long after, we decided All-Schuyler All-Star teams might have value if selected by me seasonally. And that worked -- and then along came the idea for the Top Drawer 24 -- an annual team taking into account scholarship, athleticism, personality and citizenship -- "the whole package," I believe I first called it.
Twelve years in now, we -- that is, Chep and I and a committee, and with input from area administrators and from the occasional parent always welcome -- have distributed medallions and certificates and cupcakes, I guess you might include, since they are a staple of our annual award celebration to honorees.
Many of those were repeat honorees, especially in the early years; one girl made the team four times, and several three. Juniors, in fact, are generally outnumbered by seniors.
Last year we had eight juniors, and only one of them is on the team again in this, her senior year. Each year starts fresh, especially now with spots on the team at such a premium. It is so much harder with 10 schools vying for the same number of positions as before: When we expanded, we took some heat on it.
It was a bold stroke -- one devised by Chep -- and it paid off. The other eight schools value the award in a way that we have never seen it embraced in Schuyler County. Each school welcomes Chep and me in its own way. My favorite is Spencer-Van Etten, where administrators have the honorees' parents and even grandparents on hand for the presentation of the invitation.
This year, with just one honoree, S-VE made the biggest deal of the invitation phase -- with parents, grandparents and sister waiting for the honoree, Mackenzie Grube, whose smile signified surprise and pleasure at what she found awaiting her when she was called to the main office. What is important to me and Chep has always been the kids -- honoring those who have earned it and challenging them to give back in the future; to become our community leaders or leaders of whatever community or state in which they ultimately reside.
It has always been important to create a special feel to capture those special moments when the honorees are called forward one by one at the ceremony to receive the applause -- the encouragement -- of the assembled crowd. And the place that captures that mood is the Watkins Glen State Park Pavilion, up near the pool -- a place that evokes a timeless quality, so much better than an interior although it offers shelter itself, quite necessary in years past that brought us sleet and rain and, once, downright cold that prompted the park to light the fireplaces at either end of the structure.
I have had the privilege, as I noted, of meeting with all of them. In the case of the Schuyler schools, I know each of the honorees, some better than others. And they are clearly an exceptional group. If you haven't seen the story about the team -- with each member listed and pictured and individually described -- you can click here to catch up. A nudge, if you will. If you can pull yourselves away from your usual routine on Monday evening, June 4th, come on up to the State Park pavilion for this year's Top Drawer 24 party -- located near the park entrance across from Seneca Lodge.
Inspiration, thy name is I am encouraged because it never fails that I am inspired by young people who rise to the challenges that school and its attendant activities -- primarily sports -- pose to them. At my age, I am on the sidelines; so I take pleasure from there in their achievements, which appeal to the fan in me. It is also a time when I can, in some small way, help to congratulate them in a perhaps meaningful way -- through inclusion on this website's spring sports All-Star team or, beyond that, with inclusion on the Top Drawer 24 team of outstanding student-athlete-citizens.
And beyond that, there is the presentation each year -- on the same night as our Top Drawer celebration at the State Park pavilion -- of Athlete of the Year and Susan Award trophies to deserving and yes, inspiring students. All of that is both time-consuming Because thought and study and discussion and worry can take a toll -- and that's what goes into such selections.
The Top Drawer program, conceived more than a decade ago, has grown to encompass schools beyond the border of Schuyler County. We partner with 10 schools -- up from the original two -- to honor students who are among the best and brightest that our area has to offer.
The Athlete of the Year Awards are the culmination of sports coverage on The Odessa File through three seasons at Watkins Glen and O-M, complete with an ongoing poll that tracks performances. In the end, poll points generally tell who the recipients should be. Naturally, those points can't be generated without a consistent effort on my part to observe. I see a lot of games or matches in the course of a school year, and learn the nuances of the players, and their athletic qualities -- among them precision, attitude, leadership and desire.
That all plays, ultimately, into the selection of the Top Drawer 24 by a committee. And it plays into selection of the Susan Award winner each year -- or on a couple of occasions, winners.
There are two this year -- two wholly deserving individuals. It was presented originally -- starting in -- to someone in Schuyler County, but has since become available to students from other Top Drawer 24 schools. Anyway, the Susan honoree is not always a sportsman in a traditional sense. The honoree might be someone who has met adversity in life with grace and dignity and a drive that never admits defeat -- or it can be someone who is like Susan was.
That requires a sense of fair play, a core of kindness, and a single-mindedness in pursuit of goals, but with a sense not of self, but of the usefulness of those goals to others -- such as teammates. In other words, I look for someone who -- from my own personal standpoint -- is a mix of attributes that almost defy definition. For Susan could not be pigeonholed. But as the saying goes, I know it when I see it. Having said that, I find myself quite pleased with the selections on all fronts this year.
The makeup varies from year to year, depending on circumstance and the pool of nominees. The honorees will be notified of their selection this week, and the team unveiled soon after. There have also been yet-to-be-announced Male and Female Athletes of the Year selected by this website at both Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen, and there are, as mentioned, two Susan Award winners -- one in Schuyler County and one out, also not yet unveiled.
Things get started about 5 p. Athlete of the Year Awards are presented at 5: A Top Drawer 24 team photo is at 5: Speeches -- short, message-orient speeches -- begin at 5: Medallions, trophies and celebration follow. And you're all invited. Take a drive up there. There is no admission charge, either to the park at that point, or to the party. Have at it, historians Knowing how small that auditorium is, and how tight the stage space, I can only marvel at the challenges it presented.
Schuyler plays nowadays are held for the most part in large high school auditoriums with sizable stages. Anyway, as the flyers attest: Being a newcomer I arrived here in , most of the names in the cast are ones with which I am not attuned, although some jumped out: Frank Steber and William Elkins chief among them -- teacher and lawyer, both beloved across many years.
Steber died recently at the age of I in fact procured these flyers from the home of Mr. He is 94 now, and there with his wife Irene, Their daughters have been conducting a sale of material from the Elkins house on Route near Burdett. There I found the flyers this past weekend, while perusing Mr. Elkins -- a member of the Schuyler County Hall of Fame -- has been known widely for years for his legal and humanitarian efforts. His home reflects an eclectic taste -- political buttons, some old toy trains, postcards, shelves of non-fiction books and novels, magazines -- and a host of personal knickknacks.
But it was the flyers that caught my eye -- still in mint condition, as fresh as the day they were issued. They were in a stack of various papers, along with three other flyers -- identical to one another and also mint -- touting the Republican candidacy of William N. Following his death, the County Courthouse was named in his honor.
There was also, in that grouping, a American Legion membership card with Mr. I found a book, too, by another well-known local lawyer, the late Liston F. It was published in , when Mr. Hanlon, a lumberman who was a board trustee in the Odessa School District. An elementary school in Odessa is named in his honor. History has long fascinated me; I was a history major in college, and like to mix my fiction reading with biographies and such.
Not to mention the late Jean Argetsinger, a community leader for years. Steber and Hanlon wrote novels, but little, as far as I know, about themselves. Elkins and Ellison are subjects who should yield a wealth of information -- just by talking to Elkins or to those who know him and knew Ellison. And there are plenty of Argetsingers around to discuss the family matriarch.
Have at it, historians. Susan Hazlitt as Tracy Lord. Getchie Argetsinger as Dinah Lord. Janice Kranz as Margaret Lord. George Shannon as Thomas. Ann Ryer as Elizabeth Liz Embrie. Compese as Macaulay Mike Connor. Hugh Snow as George Kittredge. Frank Steber as Seth Lord.
Genevieve Peck as Elsie. Ronald Nilsen as Mac. Fay Nilsen as May. Darwin Connelly as Edward. Among other names, backstage: The Hatsell's Music Makers provided music before the play and during intermissions: Most are just names to the newcomer, but they had key responsibilities. All leading, I imagine, to a couple of wonderful evenings 55 years ago. Kudos to the local robotics team that competed late last month in a world competition in Detroit.
The event, under the auspices of the FIRST organization For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology featured four classes; the local team -- which goes by the name Mechanical Meltdown, and operates a robot it built and named Renaldo -- competed with other 7th through 12th graders. A total of teams -- out of 5, worldwide -- qualified in their division for the Detroit competition.
There was a similar competition held the previous week in Houston -- representing countries from the Southern Hemisphere. The Detroit event was for Northern Hemisphere countries. The Mechanical Meltdown has seven members. Of them, five went on the trip. Two had unavoidable conflicts. Most of the kids' parents were there, along with a grandfather and aunt. All told, 40, people were in attendance, among them thousands of competing students -- making it the largest robotics competition in the world.
Said Kathy Gascon, who serves as a coach: We were so pleased just to have earned our way there. Our team performed even better than I expected, and I am extremely proud of them to have placed 32nd among these truly world-class teams. The passion of younger days. It was engrossing, and satisfying, and called to mind my own minor experience in Washington, working for a few months for USA Today -- long after the Pentagon Papers and the subsequent Watergate mess.
I was in D. But that was minor, a mere sighting across the dining hall. Call it a brush with history. And I did very well in my editing post, winning more than a dozen weekly awards. But try as I might to catch on there full time, I was rebuffed, and ended up leaving journalism for a few years. One of the reasons given me for the rejection came, off the record, from a full-time editor I had befriended.
I was too old. Also too white and too male, those being important hiring characteristics at the time. I was too old 30 years ago. Anything near 40 was excessive in the eyes of the suits, I guess.
Three decades have passed since then, and I find myself wondering: If I was too old then, what am I now? It is, after all, 30 years later. I think it might be true. An example of passion applied in my yesteryear: There was a murder there of a woman I knew peripherally -- the wife of a local attorney.
Her name was Holly Gilbert, and she was 34 years old. She was killed by bullets to the neck and head from a. Police theorized that she had arrived home from running errands and had stumbled into an ongoing robbery. This occurred on Harris Drive, an upper-crust section of the city. The whole thing was a shock. And some of us had met Holly. When we did hear about it, there was no suspect; police had no idea who was responsible. But that night the story took a nasty turn.
He had a year-old son, Leo, and Leo was now a suspect. Early the next day the boy was apprehended many miles away, hitchhiking along the New York Thruway near Buffalo.
I remember that day, Oct. I remember because I got rather passionate during an argument in the newsroom about whether we could use his name, since he was only Normal practice involving teen crimes was that the names were withheld from publication. But this was different; this was murder, and so I felt the rules be damned. Some others in the newsroom held the more traditional viewpoint: At that age -- I was days away from turning 28 -- I tended to emotional extremes when I felt that rules were absurd and obstructionist; and so I did that day.
I argued passionately and found, ultimately, that the powers that be at the paper leaned in the same direction. I remember all of this in some detail because of the prominent people involved in the crime; because the victim was more than a statistic to me; and because I felt it was just flat-out right to inform the public about what was transpiring on a story so important -- so affecting, really, that it still resonates with me all these years, nearly 42 of them, later.
There is, in fact, a reproduction of the Watertown Times back page that day, Oct. And in a curve-cornered box at the bottom of one of several stories we carried that day was this: But that page aside, I remember the case too because of how it ended.
Officials threw the book at the kid -- but it was a very thin, very light book. Then he would have to be turned loose unless he, for some reason, desired supervised treatment beyond that. I have no indication available that he did. That was the law back then, since changed. We have fulfilled our mandate to this county. All that remains of it are the memories -- of Watertown, which I left three years later, and of Holly Gilbert.
The victim of a brutal crime. One such instance came while I worked at The Leader in Corning in the late s. The paper was celebrating its th birthday, and I was told by the publisher to write an account -- warts and all -- about a day in the life of the newspaper.
The publisher failed to read it until 15, copies of the special section that held my story were printed and stacked for delivery, set to go out on a specific upcoming day.
Within my story was mention of some friction that existed between the paper and Corning Inc. Corning is essentially a company town. The publisher discovered the specifics of my story a day after the print run, but before delivery, and had a conniption; he hated to rile the ruling class. Even mention of friction with Corning Inc. I snapped and told off the reporter right there, in front of everyone -- passion welling to the surface and spewing out across the conference-room table -- until the publisher stepped in and basically sent us to our respective corners.
Then he said he would get back to us; would have a decision on what, if anything, he planned to do. The reporter and I avoided each other the rest of the day, lest violence erupt.
The publisher's decision, I learned the next day, was to trash all 15, special sections and reprint them with my story reworked according to his specifications. Since the cost of the move was significant, I thought for sure I would be fired Anyway, I grabbed and still have several copies of the offending section, plucked from their pile before the destroy order was carried out.
What they thought was what they thought; they were entitled to their opinions, as I am to mine. Sometimes a reader who didn't see things my way engaged me with direct broadsides -- which is to say unpleasant criticisms. There was one reader in particular -- a woman with a child in the local school district -- who I seemingly set off with regularity.
On several occasions I had snarky emails waiting for me from the woman as soon as I awakened in the morning. I thought that if I really bothered her so much, she could stop reading right away -- but I don't think I ever suggested it to her.
I tried to keep the peace despite a part of me just itching for a fight. But while I managed to avoid a direct confrontation with her, I seemed to naturally engage school superintendents -- a couple of them up here in Odessa over the years, and one in particular down the hill in Watkins Glen.
People sometimes ask why I haven't always gotten along with superintendents, and I say it's because of the authoritarian nature of their job -- which is fine until the officeholder starts seeing himself or herself with rose-colored glasses; sees royalty when looking in the mirror. Yes, I've had my run-ins with them -- even got banned once from the sidelines of sporting events at the school in Odessa. The ban came in the form of a superintendent's directive that said I couldn't be insured, and should therefore steer clear of proximity to athletic action that might inadvertently injure me -- a directive which I ignored, asserting my right to be where other reporters could go.
And I never heard another peep on the matter. Later, I was effectively banned from school buildings during classroom hours in Watkins Glen. I had upset the super with my news coverage, and he decided in response that I needed his specific approval to gain admittance. Since I had had a pretty free rein on my school movements up to that point, and saw no reason to kiss his ring, I never sought his permission.
I stayed away instead, and the kids lost a degree of coverage. I might still muster up a fight or two down the road, but it will take more to spur me on than it used to. I'm even getting along with the current superintendents. With age comes a certain calm. At least it seems to be that way with me. To return to my starting point -- movies -- let me add something in the distinctive syntax used by Star Wars ' Yoda, something that sums up where I am.
It's this simple, really: Long in the tooth I am. Fight I might; or might not. But try I will. Bruno and the Silverdome.
In other words, time is fleeting. Surprisingly, quite a few folks keep popping into my head, undercutting my usual cynical stance that very few people can be trusted. No one walks truly alone. I have mentioned here before the man who challenged me -- mentored me -- as I began a journalism career. Robert Gildart was his name, a professor at Albion College, my alma mater. He was an author of Albion history , a journalist, an instructor and an emotional supporter. Those two men -- John Sr.
They welcomed me there with open arms -- got me back in the journalism game after several years in the wilderness. That experience led, more or less directly -- gave the impetus -- to this website.
But he has grown in prominence in my memory in the past couple of calendar cycles, ever since I stumbled upon his obituary long after his death at the age of But he came charging back into my consciousness that day, and has stayed there.
His name was Bruno Kearns, and he was the Sports Editor at the first daily newspaper for which I worked -- The Pontiac Michigan Press , back between my junior and senior years of college. I was an intern -- the lowliest of the low, and treated that way by the City Editor, a disagreeable sort named Thorn.
Kearns, on the other hand, had his own little world -- in a room separated from the primary newsroom overseen by Thorn. Bruno treated me with kindness and respect, and merely shook his head at Thorn's autocracy, telling me to "never mind" such excesses. Bruno -- an accomplished reporter, editor and columnist -- was instrumental in getting Pontiac voters to approve construction of the famed Silverdome, a football-themed stadium on Pontiac acres, rising from farmland like some sort of fevered dream.
Its roof was fiberglass, held aloft by air pressure. I once sat so high in the nosebleed section at a Lions game that I got a closeup view of that roof; the playing field, by contrast, was so far away in that 82,seat building that the players looked like insects scurrying around. Yes, Bruno lobbied for that building -- even was provided with a plaque of thanks in a table in its press box that identified that particular space as his -- amid many big-stage events he covered in a long journalistic career.
He covered all sorts of national and international events, but he was most at home A father of four -- two boys and two girls -- he was most comfortable, I think, reporting the local scene, and taught me something of the art of that particular deal.
He took the time to show me the basics of writing a sports story -- at the same time teaching me the importance of local sports to the local readers. He was endlessly patient with me, for I was prone to mistakes brought on by ignorance, from a lack of experience. The man was a teacher. He had just read a story I had written on a local softball game. But you need to humanize it. You need more names. Who got the hits? Who drove in the runs? Who made a difference? Who provided the turning point?
In contrast, I can't remember a thing that Thorn said to me out in the city room -- the main newsroom. All I remember of Thorn was his volume and the denigration he directed toward me. Sorry I forgot about you there for awhile. You deserved better from me. You deserved my gratitude for your kindness, for your direction, and for the wisdom you imparted. And, while I was writing this, I decided that the fate of the Silverdome needed checking.
What I found echoed my melancholy mood. It reopened in and hosted several events, but closed again, this time permanently, in The roof was destroyed by a winter storm in Owners auctioned the stadium's contents in In , the Silverdome was condemned and prepared for demolition; the upper deck of the stadium was imploded on December 4, , after a failed attempt the previous day.
Bruno Kearns, had he still been writing, would have fought that fate, I'm sure. And had he been alive to see that implosion, he might well have wept. This award is unique, and more difficult to attain than when we started -- although it was difficult back then, too. Whereas we started with just two schools -- Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour -- we have 10 now: And there are still only 24 slots on the team. If any of you folks out there have a specific nominee in mind, let me know, and send along some supporting information.
The honor is open to any high school student in those 10 schools, 9th through 12th grades, although the tendency of late has been to lean toward seniors and juniors. Baseball conjures the past. I collected baseball cards when I was a kid; memorized the statistics on those of the Detroit Tigers, the team I followed.
I lived north of that city. Later, after growing up and entering the workforce, I was a huge fan of Yankees pitcher Catfish Hunter, who was an inspiration after I moved to New York in the early s. I liked the Mets, too. I was there at Shea Stadium for Game 6 of the World Series against the Red Sox -- watching the two-out comeback that propelled the Mets to a 7th game and a world championship. I grieved when a former major leaguer named Bubba Phillips -- who played a decade in the majors from the mids to mids -- died of a heart attack in at the age of I had known Bubba when he played for the Tigers for a couple of years; he even attended one of my Little League games.
See an account I wrote about that here. I sat in a living room of a condo in Florida in and talked with Brooklyn Dodgers great Pee Wee Reese, a friend of the condo dwellers -- who were residing in the same housing community as my parents. I was, of course, in awe. I still follow the game, but without memorizing annual stats -- although I can still tell without looking that Norm Cash, the Tigers first baseman in , batted.
I can tell you how I was friends with a gentleman connected to the Little League Museum in Williamsport who got us credentials for three years running to the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Cooperstown -- and even to a private gathering with Hall of Famers -- including Kaline, who I recall looking at me as though wondering what in heaven's name I was doing there. I was probably misreading the look, but I wondered the same thing myself.
I have cards from all the sports, along with magazines, posters, autographed photos and so on. I know from speaking with the new superintendent at Watkins Glen that he feels there are too many sports in his district for such a small enrollment.
But he is thinking more along the lines of trimming wrestling and boys swimming, each of which had somewhere around four participants this past season. It pictures a bunch of boys in baseball uniforms -- Bloomfield Hills Michigan Little Leaguers -- standing and seated in a team photo, along with their coaches. Yes, I played Little League baseball, and Babe Ruth ball, and even made the varsity at my high school.
I was more a procrastinator than a doer. Unfortunately, there were no names printed on the back, as they were on a couple of other photos of my childhood.
I remember the head coach was Mr. Mersky; he's standing on the right. I recall Bob Calhoun, standing third from right, who was probably the best athlete on the team; and next to Mr.
Mersky stands Dick Strong, who was a close friend but, oddly, I forgot was even on the team until I studied the photo. Dick and I hung out together quite often -- playing board games he killed me time and again in Risk and listening to music in particular the Beatles, who rose to prominence in our teen years. We won the league title, but we started out dysfunctionally with Robin wearing what seemed like a perpetual chip on his shoulder that unnerved most of us.
But along the way, he shed the chip, delivered some key base hits and helped us to the championship. I was pitching and playing outfield. By high school, I was a second baseman. And I hit something over. It was a storybook year, although I developed a nervous tic before games, blinking furiously as game-time neared.
It drove my mother nuts, to the point where she scolded me gently, but firmly for it -- which only made it worse. Nobody ever said growing up was easy. It was, from my reading of the matter, a form of hazing abolished not long after my brother endured it.
My Mom thought the West Point brace was an actual physical device to be worn, and that if I donned it, it might help overcome my slouch. She wanted one sent to us, though no such device existed. Which amuses me to this day. Anyway, I love you, Mom, and miss you. The Tigers, and me. I still have that glove, though the laces are shot. Wh ither goest our young? But honest to God, the things they were saying Tuesday had any number of adults using that time-worn and biblically-based term.
Down in Florida, of course, all sorts of students are expressing themselves. A year-old boy at Watkins was arrested for just such an ill-conceived communication back in October. But there she was Tuesday before hundreds of fellow students in the WGHS Auditorium at a function prompted by an article on school violence and safety that she and Prien had published as part of the journalism curriculum under teacher Travis Durfee. I thought so highly of the effort that I published the speech here.
I have nothing but admiration for what she and Prien did and for the many comments made, and questions raised, by their fellow students at the assembly, for this whole matter of school violence needs to be aired, and aired some more.
The greater the communication, the greater the awareness -- and that can prove key. Being in school can seem safe, but the image of terrified students being gunned down in the hallways by a maniac is all too real -- too easy to imagine happening here. One school official in the area said the response time by state and county police to a school shooting would literally be only minutes, but that those minutes can prove so very costly.
Locked doors and other defenses -- short of an armed guard -- can only hold off a gunman briefly. Protocols in place can serve as little more than delaying tactics, measures to keep the carnage to a minimum before a shooter can be stopped by law enforcement.
His name is David Waite, and he carries a Glock with him. Not a taser, though. In those days, he said, such situations created hostage scenarios, with the perpetrators surrounded and talked down from further mayhem.
It is a different era today. When asked if he would charge in after a shooter, Waite simply nodded yes. I have no doubt. Maybe there can be training, as one student suggested, in talking down or bringing down a student who suddenly pulls a gun in class; or more security; or One or more of those ideas might provide an edge if the horror ever visits local school hallways.
It was, as expected, a celebration of everything going on around here of a developmental nature, with an emphasis on tourism: And then came the children -- or more correctly the young adults, embodied in juniors Sutterby and Fazzary -- with a look at the area from a completely different vantage point Those 12 WGHS students, along with a couple of dozen others who had met at the school in the days beforehand, conceded the beauty of the area, but decried an absence of jobs, especially in the winter -- and in fact the boredom of winter in a low-keyed community like Watkins Glen.
More importantly, they said, there is too much of an emphasis on tourism; that what we need is large industry -- and greater opportunities for growth in careers beyond food service and antique shops. Ice cream and pizza shops are nice, they said, but not exactly career stepping stones. But coming at the end of a session focused on tourism and strides that have been made to enhance that part of our economic spectrum A local official expressed surprise at their presentation -- laid out effectively and with some gusto, humor and assuredness by Fazzary and Sutterby.
The former wants to be a lawyer her father is the District Attorney and the latter wants to be a surgeon possibly orthopedic. In other words, they have hopes and plans, and will need to get away from here to start them rolling. That might depend upon the direction in which this county is heading. Will it embrace more of the same tourism, grantedly essential , or tourism plus growth beyond it? It really is quite a large question. Fazzary, Sutterby and the other students are representative of the plight Schuyler has long faced and continues to face: And after that ceremonial milestone?
What is next for them? Will they circle back home, or keep on going? Where I came from Rotarian Stewart McDivitt, in suggesting I address the club, asked that of me: How did I end up here? But beyond a flippant answer, there are innumerable ones, for life is full of hundreds of variables, of intersecting facts and emotions and attendant decisions.
I am, I suppose, a product of my parents, a peaceful, loving couple named Gus and Eleanor Haeffner, now both deceased. And I ended up here because of my wife, Susan, a loving woman, also now deceased. She was born and raised here; and she was family-oriented, with a need to be near her parents and siblings. That need led us here from Watertown, New York, where we had met and first lived.
They provided upscale shelter and some fine cooking and an abundance of love. They loved their boys, for sure -- me and my older brothers, Bob and Jim. We three have all had reasonably successful lives -- those two more than me. Bob was career military, a West Point graduate and instructor who reached the rank of lieutenant colonel; Jim was career banking, rising to impressive heights at Comerica.
After a short stint on Long Island which I was too young to later recall , we moved to the Detroit, Michigan area, and there I was raised.
I opted eventually for the black-sheep role of the family, and the perfect career for a rebel: My Dad asked me several years after I entered that field when I was going to get a real job.
He was money oriented; a traveling shoe salesman, and a darn good one. So why a journalist? I visited the Birmingham, Michigan public library with my Mom before I had learned enough to read any of its inventory, but the smell of the place mesmerized me; that and its possibilities.
There I entered journalism through a class taught by a former newsman named Robert Gildart. It was while I was there that my father questioned my choice of career; its validity. The farther you get from Washington, D. Then I was out of journalism for awhile, then back in at the Corning Leader , then out, and then in again with The Odessa File.
Total time in the trenches: Writing remains fascinating to me. It enables me, day in and day out -- now that the File has become de rigueur -- to provide the residents of Schuyler County with some news. And what I do benefits what to me is the most important segment of our society: That was a cornerstone of this venture: High school sports was a major part of my coverage when I started The Odessa File ; and it is still among my top priorities.
There is advertising revenue, which keeps me from sinking financially. But more important to me is something aesthetic: I think, all in all, that I've left a mark, as ethereal as it might be, considering the almost gossamer nature of the Internet.
I've long thought that a website is like a spider's web, fine and wispy and easily dispatched by a strong wind, or by a power outage. It does not have the surety of a print publication. But while The Odessa File might not be very important in the universal scheme of things -- there are far more important publications that deal with weighty matters like gun control and Russian meddling -- I feel it is at least something I unearthed it as I started cleaning up the house as part of my spring cleaning.
Anyway, the publication date of the book -- a classic about 18th century pirates and buried treasure -- was That was the year before my father, now long deceased, was even born. Then, on another track, I caught the airing the other night of a classic film called "All the King's Men," about a demagogue rising in politics. It was from an award-winning novel by Robert Penn Warren, which was likely based on the career of Huey Long of Louisiana, who served that state as governor and U.
Senator before his assassination in Watching the film, I was struck by how well it seems to stand up today, among our impassioned politics. There is a line from the movie that seems especially to fit modern-day politics. It posits, essentially, that if you say something loud enough and often enough it will be believed by any number of people, no matter the truth of it. Another classic, pointing backward -- back to a simpler time, and yet This one was of an acquaintance, a man I truly liked.
We never ran in the same social circle, but our occasional meetings were always enjoyable ones, and thus I considered him, at least tangentially, to be a friend. A nice guy, always ready with a smile and a laugh.
He died at the age of