Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Great Accomplishments of the President, Catskill Summer Memories and a New Poem from Sid


In the mid 1940s’ summers, I was fortunate to have the divine pleasure of being in the cool, clean air of the Catskill Mountains.  With my parents (Ethel and Herman), my sister Phyllis and Grandpa (Jake, only to other adults), I happily passed those special weeks in the “Jewish Alps.”  When classrooms heated up and school ended on June 30, our old Ford was packed with the usual bungalow necessities, fishing rods and the barest of summer clothing.  With the car windows open, my handsome, Lucky Strike-smoking daddy stayed at the wheel as we drove up old route 17, stopping half way at the Red Apple Rest for hot dogs to break up the lengthy trip from Brooklyn to Ellenville, New York. 
                                The long-gone Red Apple Rest as it was years ago                                      
Our diminutive summer dwelling at Swerdloff’s Bungalow Colony was a two-room structure, encircled by two similar ones perched atop a hill, reached by a steep stairway.  In the bedroom, four of us shared two double beds and Grandpa slept on a cot in the kitchen.  When my sister caught her first fish in the lake across the road, my mother heard her screams resonate up that hill. 

Customarily, my father drove back to Brooklyn each Sunday night to work through the week and returned every Friday to caress his family, shed his work clothes, and throw out his fishing lines from the rowboat.  Every Saturday and Sunday morning,  Herm, the Worm (as he was affectionately called because of his very slender build) would walk outside the bungalow, shirtless, and sing, “It’s a beautiful day to be gladden, the violets have budded today and I saw the first little primrose looking up from the road down the way.”  Those days couldn’t begin without his early morning performances.

With flashlights in hand on chilly, damp nights, Phyllis and I eagerly joined daddy and grandpa to creep over neighboring lawns hunting for “night crawlers” (nice, thick, juicy worms).  They made excellent bate for the next day’s fishing.  We kept them nestled in some moist earth in large tin cans so they would stay alive through the night. 

Along the edge of the pristine lake, the soil was clay-like and the kids scooped out enough to mold into ash trays (remember those?) that we baked dry in the sun.  The best part was splashing into the lake after the art work was finished to wash off all the crusted clay that covered us so generously.

On a rare evening at the movies, we saw The Red Shoes with Moira Shearer.  Did my folks think it was suitable for kids because it concerned a ballerina, doomed though she was?        
         The theatre where the writer saw The Red Shoes still stands but it no longer shows movies                          

Periodic rides, a short distance down the country road, brought us to a small farm where we bought chickens, eggs and most likely other products that I don’t remember.  Those summers, I was four, five, six and seven years old. 

The Abrams family lived in a “private house” across the road and their back yard reached the lake.  My sister and I were the same ages as the two sisters of that family and we carefully crossed the road to hobnob with them.  What a treat!  Next door to them was the Hanson family.  Abdul Hanson was an avid fisherman who proudly displayed his larger catches alongside a ruler to validate the size of his accomplishments.  That family also grew corn that they shared.  None has ever tasted as good since.

Those summers in the Catskills were perfect!  

Suzanne J Wertheim


The Great Accomplishments of Barack Obama


I don’t know why President Obama is not boasting about his not insignificant accomplishments as President.  He is going about his campaigning in a businesslike manner, occasionally reciprocally attacking his opponent who is permanently locked into a nasty attack mode.  Too little has been said, though, about what President Obama has achieved for the nation he serves. 

Let’s start with the Affordable Health Care Act, which the Republicans have attacked from its inception, when they swore that their prime goal was to defeat Obama in 2012, regardless if what effect it had on the nation.  For the first time in our history, insurance companies will not be able to say “no” to someone who needs health insurance, regardless of their medical histories.  They also cannot tell an insured that their 27 year old adult child who doesn’t have health insurance can’t be included as a dependent on their policy.  By themselves, these are giant steps forward for which the President deserved full credit.   


As for bringing the United States up to level of the rest the Western world’s level of providing health care to its citizens, his efforts to mandate that everyone have some kind of health insurance, making it possible for private insurers to have a large enough pool of healthy insureds so that they may offer policies to everyone, regardless of health, have been derided at every turn.  Even though his opponent did exactly the same thing in Massachusetts while he was Governor there, the G.O.P. continues to oppose what they call Obamacare.  The politically-motivated Supreme Court, unfortunately, may knock out the Act’s mandate provision, thereby crippling its “guaranteed issue” aspect, but that won’t be the President’s fault.  For years the “mandate” approach has been the Republican answer to a single payer government run-program, but now that the President brought it about, the party of hypocrisy, the G.O.P., opposes it.   And there are many gullible people out there who believe their lies.

The American voter should realize that the President’s championing of the Affordable Health Care Act alone warrants his reelection!  And incidentally, the Act does not deal with the providing of health care.  Except for the VA, Medicare and Medicaid, the Government is not in that business.  The Act accomplishes its goal through free-enterprise, capitalist, private insurance companies.  There is no reason for the Republicans to oppose it other than vindictiveness.
As for the economy, we all know that the President inherited a collapsing banking system, unemployment and an automobile industry on the brink of ruin.  The Republicans attack his stimulus programs at every turn, even though most of them were initiated by President Bush.  These programs saved the auto industry and the jobs it provides.                                 

                                           A Volt coming off of the GM assembly line
Stimulus programs rescued the banking industry which because of insufficient regulation was joining with Wall Street speculators to enrich themselves at the expense of America’s citizenry, and had wandered to the edge of a deep, deep abyss.  They are not particularly grateful to the President for what he did, but the voters of America should be.  That alone is sufficient reason to reelect him.  

As for unemployment, jobs are coming back, but slowly, and Americans are learning that the job they lost is not the same job to which they will eventually be coming back.  It’s a hard row to hoe, but the President’s efforts deserve time to bear fruit.  The Republican answer of not taxing the wealthy so they can create jobs through investing what they don’t have to pay in taxes has never been proven true, and will not so long as labor is cheaper overseas and business’s bottom line takes precedent over social responsibility.

American troops are gone from Iraq, scheduled to depart from Afghanistan and will probably not be needed in regard to Iran.  The highly classified life-saving  “cyber warfare” successfully carried out against Iran (started by President Bush) by President Obama has done more to deter that nation’s nuclear program than a quarter of a million troops would have accomplished.  This is still a work in progress and another sufficient reason, all by itself, to reelect the President.   He also deserves credit for the increased use of unmanned “drones” in combating those who use terrorism as a weapon, as well as the long awaited locating and killing of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9-11 attacks.  
        The President Watching the progress report as the Seals go after Osama bin Laden                      
Obama has a lot to be proud ofThe American people should reward these great accomplishments, attained despite blind and illogical opposition from the Republican majority in the House and the strong G.O.P. presence in the Senate, not to mention the politicized 5 to 4 majority on the Supreme Court, by voting him into office for another four years.  

I wish he would stand up and say these things himself.  If you concur with these thoughts, feel free to copy and paste this message and send it to your friends.  Of course, it would be equally simple to refer them to this posting which will remain permanently on www.jackspotpourri.com.

Jack Lippman



The waterfall thunders downward
                                     Cascading to the lake below
                                     Where the boy sits on a house-sized boulder
                                     His fishing pole across his knees
                                     The line cast out
                                     The bobber dancing thirty feet away
 Munching on his sandwich
                                     Lettuce, tomato, cucumber
                                     Made lovingly by his mother

                                     Soggy now from the long bike ride
                                     From his tenement apartment
 In the summer heat  
 Canteen by his side
                                     Next to the lion sitting on his haunches
                                     Gazing solemnly across the sparkling water        

                                     The single deer on the nearby shore
                                     Quietly lowers her head
                                     To drink

Sid Bolotin    

Science Fiction writer Ray Bradbury, whose story "Sound of Thunder" was mentioned in the prior posting, passed away last week.  He will be missed.  His work will endure.

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