Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2021

Archive for the tag “History”

How To Make A Killing In Massachusetts

I saw a little item in the Real Estate section of the news recently that had my brain come to a screeching halt.

Does the name “Lizzie Borden” mean anything to you? If it doesn’t, it should.

While the O. J. Simpson trial may have been The Trial of the 20th Century the Lizzie Borden trial has that title for the 19th Century.

Picture if you will: Fall River, Massachusetts, in August of 1892. It was a quiet day until the calm was ruptured by the horrifying screams from the Borden Home. Inside the house were the mutilated bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Borden. Both of them had been savagely attacked with an axe.

There have been Movies, TV Shows, Dramatic Stage Plays (I was in one a few years ago), and even Rock Musicals about Lizzie Borden. She was arrested and tried for the murders. There was evidence, but no one could believe that Lizzie could do such a horrible thing. She was acquitted. She walked out of that courtroom and lived in Fall River until her death in 1927.

Now the “Lizzie Borden House” in Fall River is up for sale for a cool $2 Million Dollars. In recent years the house has been a very spooky, if well appointed, Bed and Breakfast and Museum.

“You too can sit on the couch where Lizzie’s Daddy had his head sliced and diced!”

I suppose that there are people for whom this house and it’s morbid history make it a “must see” destination, but not for me. I would rather to stay in a luxurious hotel where the only meat cutting takes place in a four-star restaurant.

                 Daddy’s Last Nap

I can just imagine that there will be a string of “Looky-Loos” who will want to get a free tour of the house and snap a few pictures to show the relatives back home. 

  Don’t go into the Bedroom Momma!

If I was the Real Estate Agent trying to sell this house I would hire a few local Community Theater Performers to just wander around the house in period costumes…covered in blood. I’d have a Lizzie Look-a-Like, give her a bloody hatchet, and let her walk around singing”I’ve written a letter to Daddy.” Of course it would make no sense and be in terribly bad taste, but I don’t think that would scare away any potential buyers. They might even get a History Channel Special out of it.          


When I did that Theatrical Production a few years ago I learned an interesting tidbit of information about the whole bloody mess. It seems that after Lizzie’s Mother passed away Daddy remarried to a woman with a son (that was my role.). The story goes that on the day following the murders Daddy had an appointment scheduled with his attorney when he was going to be changing his will to leave the house to the new Step-Son and leaving Lizzie and her sister out in the cold. Daddy didn’t make it to that appointment.

Did Lizzie do it? You tell me, but I don’t think that the Real Estate Agent is the only one making a killing.










Now It Is Time To Stare Out Of The Window

hornsby_rogers_1“PEOPLE ASK ME WHAT I DO IN WINTER when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

Rogers Hornsby


For those of you who are unfamiliar with Baseball, its History and its Allure I offer up that quote from Rogers Hornsby (1896 – 1963). He is in Baseball’s Hall of Fame and is considered one of The Greats of the game. He played and managed from 1915 until 1953.

This well known quote about what he did in the off season says so much more than is apparent on the surface. It is more than just a game. It is more than just a metaphor for life. Baseball is a living, breathing superlative.

Baseball season is over now. Over for me, that is. True, there are still the Playoffs and the World Series to be decided, but my team is not there. They have gone home and so have I.

Oh, I imagine that I will watch some of these games, but because I have no one to cheer for, to anguish over, and to call by their first names, I will watch to enjoy the beauty of the game itself.

Someone, I forget who, said that, “Baseball is a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings.” But if your favorite team is not playing it is like watching a ballet covered with dirt and pine tar. It is beautiful to watch, but you know that something is wrong. Where are your players?

Now that the season is over we, I and my wife, the lovely and Southpaw, Dawn, are keeping an ear cocked for any news about trades and player moves. Two of our pitchers have announced that they are retiring. Who will fill their spots in the rotation and bullpen? Who is going to be a Free Agent the day after the World Series ends? How are players recovering from injuries and surgeries? Will they be ready for Spring Training?

Spring Training – the truest harbinger of the changing of seasons. That robin may be frozen to the tree branch outside our window, but if Timmy’s hip surgery has brought him back then can new Black and Orange T-shirts be far behind?

We are not any different from Rogers Hornsby. We are also staring out of the window waiting for spring. But our window gives us a view of more than the snow and ice. It gives us the latest news and rumors.

The “Hot Stove League” is electronic these days with 24/7 talk and analysis as well as wishing and hoping. There will be second guessing until the cows come home and number crunching until it all turns into meaningless babble. That is when we pop a DVD into the machine. We can bundle up and watch Matt Cain’s Perfect Game and the Four Game Sweep in the 2012 World Series. We can sit in awe as MadBum strides in from the bullpen like Paul Bunyan ready to clear-cut the Kansas City Royals once again.

I can’t speak for the people who love football, tennis or golf, but don’t ever try to tell me that Baseball is “just a game.”

A more modern lover of the game than Hornsby, columnist George Will – who never played in the Majors, said, “Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.” 

Now that the season is over we are also sitting by the window waiting for spring. It won’t be long.

Now Serving #15 – And I’m Holding #137

JugglingI’M NOT MUCH OF A JUGGLER. In fact, I am the worst juggler I have ever known. W.C. Fields is a better juggler than me – and he’s been dead since I was six months old.

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Should We Order A Cake?

Magna CartaTHERE WAS AN ARTICLE IN THE NEWSPAPER the other day stating that it was the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.

It wasn’t.

Here we are in Mid-September and the actual date of the signing of the Magna Carta was June 15, 1215. I know I shouldn’t be fussy, but with all of the to-do in England and here in The Colonies, I would expect a bit more care with the details.

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Downwind Of Upstage Is No Place To Be

FB_IMG_1441895951206THERE IS A GOOD REASON my wife, the lovely and unfailingly perceptive, Dawn, calls my trips to St. Arbucks, along with, “The Usual Suspects,” my “Play Group.” I admit that there are some days when the maturity level drops below Pre-School closing in on Pre-Natal.

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I Dream Of Columbus

Columbus_MapTHIS MORNING AS I SAT SIPPING my coffee and pondering my next step, I noticed a gentleman who was wearing a T-shirt that said, “Canyonlands – Moab, Utah.”

When I stumbled up to get a refill I stopped by his table and we chatted about that remarkable part of the country. As we spoke I saw the sparks light up in his eyes. He was like me – a man who breathes better on the road.

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Just Throw It Back

atariEVERY WEEK ON FACEBOOK I see people posting old pictures of themselves or their kids – or even their dogs and cats. The pictures of themselves invariably show them looking pounds slimmer and without any gray hair. The dogs and cats look about the same – just smaller.

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Clink, Clink. Sip, Sip

coke bottle birthplace signI HAVE DECIDED THAT FOR TODAY I would sing praise to Terre Haute, (That’s French for “I’m sorry, we’re out of Pepsi) and the many things that have made it famous – more or less – kinda – sort of.

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How Can I Forgive Them

Coffee monkey

I CAME OUT OF THE NOONTIME SERVICES in the Chapel of St. Arbucks (Patron Saint of Jittery People) carrying my iced coffee with me. I found a convenient spot to set up my computer and took that first sip from my 55 gallon drum of delicious iced coffee.

Horror! Oh, the Humanity!

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In The End…

your storyMY WIFE, THE LOVELY AND INSPIRING  Dawn, and I have been doing a lot of “Binge Watching” lately. We have viewed our way through the entire “Breaking Bad” series, “House of Cards,” “White Collar,” “True Detective,” and a few others.

It may be entertaining, but it’s not a way to encounter much worth thinking about later.

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I Don’t Remember It That Way

Alamo Peewee

THIS MORNING WHEN I ARRIVED at St. Arbucks for the 9 AM vespers/brewing I was surprised to see that five of the Usual Suspects were already there and engaged in a serious conversation. I just slipped into a chair at the rear of the classroom and listened.

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A Close Call

MG 1973

IN THE YEARS AFTER finishing college I was really feeling adrift. I knew that I had talents, but I lacked skills. I knew that what I wanted to do, “when I grew up,” was to act, but fate and family took over.

In an effort to pick up some kind of marketable skills I signed up to take a course in Advertising Copy Writing that was offered by the Cleveland Advertising Club, which was a local professional association for those in the Advertising field. Cleveland had a surprisingly active Advertising world.

The course was taught by several working account managers from various agencies. I think they really did it as a way of unearthing some new talent for their agencies. That was OK by me. Any possible opportunity was a good one.

A story that I recall from the class was related by one of the instructors. His name I don’t remember but his story has stayed with me.

His agency had just landed a new account – Smucker’s Jams and Jellies. He was assigned to come up with some new and fresh ad copy to help sell the product. He labored trying to find some way to make the name Smucker’s memorable.

He moaned and bemoaned his fate being stuck with this client and as he tried to be original he complained to himself:”With a name like Smucker’s, they’d better be good.” It’s moments like that that can trigger just the right words. Today, Smucker’s is known for their slogan, “With a name like Smucker’s it has to be good.”

It was during the time that I was taking that class that I survived a close call when, by all rights and expectations, I should have been killed.

At that time I owned a little red MG convertible sports car. I loved that machine. It was fun to drive and was a serious “babe magnet.”

On the evening in question, I had left my regular “day job” and headed into downtown Cleveland to go to my class at the Ad Club. My route took me along several narrow streets in an effort to avoid as much rush hour traffic as possible. The streets were still crowded as I turned onto a less congested side street. It was still stop and go, but it was moving.

I was in my small two-seater, inching along. Outside my right window was a parked car. Beyond that was a large parking garage. It was the kind of concrete monolith where you would drive from level to level until you found an open space. That night there was fellow circling up to the fifth level and, seeing an open slot, pulled into the space. The estimate, after the fact, was that he was still going about 25 MPH when he rammed his car into the concrete wall. As fortune would have it, this knucklehead managed to slam into the wall directly at a fatal flaw in the concrete and the entire front of the building pulled away from the rest of the structure and, like an iceberg calving from a glacier, plunged down into the street. Large blocks of concrete, weighing several tons each, tumbled downward to where I was sitting.

I heard something that sounded like thunder, but it was a clear evening. Before I knew any better the car ahead of me started moving again and I was hoping to get to class on time. Then the world erupted around me.

The entire façade of the garage crashed into the street. The parked car outside my right window was flattened to the point of almost vanishing from view. Huge concrete boulders landed in front of me where, just moments before, a car had been. Other blocks crashed behind me and on the left side of my car. I was lost inside a cloud of dust.

When the world stopped moving and the dust subsided I was surrounded. Not knowing what else to do, I put the car into first gear and was able to weave my way around the fallen concrete and finish my commute.

When I parked my car and got out I could see that it was covered in white powdery dust and small concrete pebbles, but otherwise undamaged.

What I had just experienced did not immediately occur to me. That happened about a half-hour later when I was sitting in my class at the Ad Club trying to figure out a way to market freeze dried roses. It was then that it hit me that I had come within inches of being smashed into a wafer thin oblivion. It was then that I began to shake.

That night, after I got home and turned on the TV to watch the 11 o’clock news, I learned the full extent of my escape. The news story began with the words, “There is an incredibly lucky man in this city tonight….” 

There were no fatalities. Not even any injuries. The clown on the fifth level of the garage was arrested for drunk driving and several parked cars were destroyed.

“There is an incredibly lucky man in this city tonight….” That man was me.


The Time Between Tick and Tock

Wright FlyerTHIS PAST WEDNESDAY, December 17th was an anniversary. 111 years ago, in 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright proved that Man could, indeed, fly – when Orville piloted their “Flyer One” biplane on a 12-second flight over the sand dunes at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The entire distance he covered in that first flight was less than the wingspan of a Boeing 747 “Jumbo Jet.” Little did they realize how grandly they would change the world.

I remember my father telling me, back in July of 1969, that, in just his lifetime, he had seen the world go from horse drawn wagons to astronauts walking on the moon. And now there are men and women in their 50s who have not been alive in a time when people have not been venturing into space.

Time stretches out in an orderly, regular fashion, but events compress it into Ages, Eras, Seasons, and Periods. Next year won’t come until next year, but it is already part of what is called the “Space Age” and the “Computer Age.”

Christmas won’t come until later this week no matter how much a child may hope and wish, but it is already firmly locked into the “Holiday Season.”

When the Wright Brothers took those first, fledgling flights above the beach, they moved at a speed that could be exceeded by a child on a bicycle. Today there are aircraft that can outrun the sun, making the Day appear to expand to more than 24 hours.

Theoretical physicists and engineers talk about tomorrows when we will move at speeds so fast that Time itself becomes plastic – a day when the distance between “tick” and “tock” will be different for you and me, depending on how quickly we fly.

When Orville took his first ride on their “Flyer” he did more than test a new invention – he closed the door to the Past and opened the hangar door to untold, barely imaginable, Tomorrows.

At some point in the future Mankind may decide to measure time from a new starting point, ala the fictional “Stardate” calendar in the Star Trek TV series and films. I suggest that they could not choose a better Day One than December 17, 1903.

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