Four Cats

There are four barn cats at the farm

Erlinda

Lily

Pearl

Blackie

Well they’re really not barn cats, they are under the front porch cats and hang around when not out hunting. Gerlinda Gray the alpha cat was rescued from the barn wall when she was a few months old. Nursed back to health after getting stuck for two weeks in the barn wall (plus $4,000 of vet bills) she is fat and very pushy, bosses the other cats around and sneaks into the house when you leave the door open for a second. Once inside,spoiled rotten.

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Avid readers of this blog may recall the great Blackstone, who left the farm some years ago and traveled extensively. He is now down at a neighbor’s where his main efforts involve moving from the bed to the sun porch. He still reminisces about his youth and travels. He is fat and old but in his day he was known as Blackstone of the death squad, always alert and ready to pounce.

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New Hope for a Running Career

July 15, 2017 at 8:53 p.m. EDT

Watch your back, Usain Bolt — there’s a new 100-meter dash superstar and she looks unstoppable.

Meet 101-year-old Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins, who on Saturday became the oldest female athlete to ever compete in the USA Track and Field Outdoors Masters Championships. Not only that, but by running the 100 meters in 40.12 seconds, she shaved more than six seconds off the current certified world record for women aged 100 or older.

Astonishingly, that wasn’t even a personal best. This month, at the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Ala., Hawkins ran the dash in 39.62 seconds. If either of those times get certified in December, she will become the official world-record holder.

And to think, she may have missed her shot at making track and field history if she opted to follow her original plans for the day.

“[I] missed my nap for this,” she said (via USATF) on Saturday at the event at Louisiana State University, not far from where Hawkins lives in Baton Rouge.

Hawkins is a natural talent. An avid bicyclist, she said she only began training for track and field last year.

“I’m always outside and the phone always rings, and I come running in is how I knew I could run,” she told The Post last month.

Hawkins, who was born in Wisconsin in 1916, said she likes “the feeling of being independent,” as well as the challenge. She also likes impressing her family, which includes the four children she had with her late husband, Murray, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

“Having a momma that can do this pleases them, and it pleases me to please them,” the former schoolteacher said.

Today, Hawkins spends most of her waking hours being active (no surprise). Along with running and cycling, she’s an avid gardener.

She’s also humble.

Asked about how she thought her race went on Saturday, she told the Advocate, “This time I wasn’t feeling like I was going that fast.”

Some Sports History

Below a letter I received from my nephew who is a professor of media history at the University of Maine. He worked for CNN covering the Olympics three or four times and met some interesting people. For those who don’t know he is referring to Saduhara Oh the Babe Ruth of baseball in Japan. 
Interesting. I met Oh at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, and actually worked with him (passed him information/stats while he was doing Olympic baseball TV coverage during Japan games). It was more the way everyone in the press box treated him – the whole place sort of came to a halt each time he arrived and everyone looked at him. My other memory of him is that he wasn’t very tall (I’d guess 5’7″) but he was an absolute brick of a human – he was built like Barney Rubble. Totally square, with broad shoulders and a huge barrel chest.  He was very friendly, shook everyone’s hands, signed autographs, and posed for photos.
The other big memory of those games was about the Cuban third baseman Omar Linares.  He was probably the best 3rd baseman on the planet, but stuck in Castro’s Cuba and a real lifer – there was no way he was going to defect (they threw anybody suspect off the team anyway).  Scouts from the Phillies, Braves and Expos finagled there way into the press box and begged me to get them press passes to the mixed zone (athlete/media – for media interviews only) so they could speak with him. He could’ve made millions on the spot. I didn’t do anything because I was afraid I’d be fired if I got them in. But I was in the mixed zone once a few days later, and in the tunnel Linares was loudly arguing with a few Japanese people. From what I could tell, he kept telling them he needed more and more boxes of Mizuno cleats – and they didn’t have them. What stuck with me was that here was a guy begging his team’s sponsor for shoes who could’ve been making millions and millions if he wanted to figure out a way to defect.

Frank Blefari- Gone to a Better Place

Frank Blefari a friend of 35 years, maybe more, died this morning after a long struggle with pulmonary fibrosis. Frank owned Heritage Automotive Restorations in Pawling New York. He was a genius at his trade, the rebuilding and restoring of antique cars and building hot rods.

Everything he touched and worked on had the artist’s touch. On the walls of his shop are pictures of maybe 100 cars he restored most for customers but some for himself.

One of his customers from Quaker Hill was an artist. Frank asked him to show him how to paint pictures. Frank became a skilled artist quickly surpassing his artist customer. He came from Stamford Connecticut and his whole life was based on love of cars, everything from a 1912 Cadillac to a 1932 hot rod roadster. When I asked him how the rod had done at a show. He said it has never gotten anything less than first place.

I went to see him last Friday, a hospice nurse was with  him and he didn’t know I had come. He passed away this morning and his girl friend Karen called me. Rest in Peace Frank.

 

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Latest News of the Great Blackstone

For those who follow this blog, the big black and white cat Blackstone again disappeared after taking up temporary residence here at the farm. Our neighbor Betsy sent the following email:

Dear Peter,
I am reading The Millbrook Times, and it seems November 11th is missing, so I started scrolling down and see your your article about Blackstone.
Ken and Betty asked us to take Blackstone because, apparently, he had not eaten “since Aunt Rosy went to the Fountains, 2 1/2 months ago”.  Jeff and I went to the Andrews’ and easily put the skinny Blackstone in a crate and brought him to our barn.
He started in the barn, then started to follow us to the house. Now, he sleeps on the bed in the master bedroom all day long and in the sunporch all night. You can see from the photo that he is a little plumper than before. I feel like he came here to “retire”. How old is he anyway?
We took him to the Vet and got him some shots and de-wormer medicine, etc.  Amazing that the leader of the Death Squad came here to play shuffleboard!  We let him out all the time and he never strays far. Always back in 2 minutes.
Too funny. Let me know how you feel about him being here. We are enjoying him but certainly not trying to keep him from you!

Blackstone has become a fat cat in every sense of the word. I have no intention of taking away from his life of leisure but I can’t guarantee he won’t show up one day as he was always a traveling man.

 

1912 Model T Ford and a Strange Story

About 30 maybe 40 years ago I met a guy named Mr. Gardner, he lived in Clinton Corners. He knew I had a model A and was interested in cars. He showed me his garage. It had a beautifully restored 30 or 31 deluxe roadster and another car which I have never forgotten. It was a 1912 Model T brass roadster in perfect condition. He was not a seller and at the time I didn’t have the dough or the time to try to put together enough for a real offer. What I do remember was that the T had a brass plate on the wooden firewall that said John Van Benschoten who was a Ford dealer in Poughkeepsie on Catherine Street.
Fast forward to yesterday. Bill Shanks who tows cars called to tell me there was a guy who owns a body shop in Salt Point who had a 1940 Pontiac Woodie in great shape for sale. I went over and looked at it and the car was mostly pieces and an enormous amount of not only wood work but mechanical also. I told him I would let him know if I found someone who wanted to tackle it but it was too much for me.
We then got to talking as car guys often do, he had sold me a VW bug about 7 years ago that I restored. I told him that I was going to put an ad in Vintage Model T magazine to see if I could locate the Van Benschoten T as Gardner had sold the property years ago and the new owner who I knew, had no idea what had become of the rare Model T.
The guy that owned the body shop said “Let me show you some other cars I have.” Well you may have guessed it and the pictures below will tell you the rest of the story. I made it very simple. I know you don’t want to sell it,
but if you ever do, I’m a buyer.
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November 11, 1918

My brother is 9 years older than I am. He is retired and writes poems. He sends them out by email every Sunday morning but today he sent the below, it speaks for itself about my father who was in both the First and Second World War. Sgt. Krulewitch was in a trench in France on his 23rd birthday November 11 , 1918.

 

November 11-18, 2018

A Century’s Wars

 

I’m not good at birthdates

but have always remembered my stepfather’s,

for his was the day

the Great War ended.

We have a photo of him in France,

on a hill overlooking the Rhine,

a tall, clean-shaven, young marine

in breeches, boots and campaign hat

hands on hips, legs spread,

seeming to tower like a monument

over the river’s far bank.

 

There’s another photo of him,

on Saipan,

carbine in hand,

soiled battle fatigues,

helmet with chin strap hanging open,

looking smaller than I’d ever seen him look.

That was the day his friend’s son died there,

a friend he’d carried from a battlefield in France.

 

Big Six

I sometimes worry that things I heard when I was very young will be lost because at my age those things are now in such a distant past that few will remember or care. But as 100 years have passed since my father was in a trench in France when the Armistice was signed I thought I would write about Big 6.

There is a town in Eastern Pennsylvania, Factoryville, which was the home of Christie Matheson. It is on Route 6 which was the main road East-West through Northern Pennsylvania at a time when oil was the king in the Keystone State.

Now Big Six was the nickname for the great New York Giant pitcher Christy Matheson.

Here is some information about him

Christy Mathewson
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Pitcher
Born: August 12, 1880
Factoryville, Pennsylvania
Died: October 7, 1925 (aged 45)
Saranac Lake, New York
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
July 17, 1900, for the New York Giants
Last MLB appearance
September 4, 1916, for the Cincinnati Reds
MLB statistics
Win–loss record 373–188
Earned run average 2.13
Strikeouts 2,502
Managerial record 164–176
Winning % .482
Teams
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction 1936
Vote 90.7% (first ballot)
Christy Mathewson
Career information
Position(s) Fullback
College Bucknell
High school Keystone Academy
Career history
As player
1898 Greensburg A. A.
1902 Pittsburgh Stars
Career highlights and awards
  • Pittsburgh Stars 1902 Championship team
Military career
Allegiance United States United States
Service/branch United States Army seal U.S. Army
Years of service 1918–1919
Rank US-O3 insignia.svg Captain
Unit Chemical Warfare Service
1st Gas Regiment
Battles/wars World War I
Western Front

Christopher Mathewson (August 12, 1880 – October 7, 1925), nicknamed “Big Six“, “The Christian Gentleman“, “Matty“, and “The Gentleman’s Hurler“, was a Major League Baseball (MLB) right-handed pitcher who played 17 seasons with the New York Giants. He stood 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall and weighed 195 pounds (88 kg). He was among the most dominant pitchers in baseball history, and ranks in the all-time top ten in several key pitching categories, including wins, shutouts, and ERA.[1] In fact, he is the only professional pitcher in history to rank in the top ten both in career wins and in career ERA, if taking 19th century pitchers statistics into account.[2] Otherwise, both Mathewson and Walter Johnson would hold that distinction.[3] In 1936, Mathewson was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame, as one of its first five members.

Mathewson grew up in Factoryville, Pennsylvania, and began playing semiprofessional baseball when he was 14 years old. He played in the minor leagues in 1899, recording a record of 21 wins and two losses. He pitched for the New York Giants the next season but was sent back to the minors. He would eventually return to the Giants and go on to win 373 games in his career, a National League record. He led the Giants to victory in the 1905 World Series by pitching three shutouts. Mathewson never pitched on Sundays, owing to his Christian beliefs. Mathewson served in the United States Army‘s Chemical Warfare Service in World War I, and was accidentally exposed to chemical weapons during training. His respiratory system was weakened from the exposure, causing him to contract tuberculosis, from which he died in Saranac Lake, New York in 1925.

What isn’t mentioned in this bio was that his battery mate was Roger Bresnahan who was Irish and was known as the Rose of Tralee, a fact you can use as you wish.

So if you want to pass this story on to some youngster who loves the game you may also tell him Jacques Barzun’s famous quote Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules and realities of the game — and do it by watching first some high school or small-town teams.

Sad Day, The Great Sears Roebuck Gone

Sears and Montgomery Wards or Monkey Wards as it was known, were the two stores of choice in the Hudson Valley before malls on Route 9 changed everything, well now they’ll both be nothing but a memory. No reference will be made of the common use of the Sears Catalog.

The orders poured in from everywhere — 105,000 a day at one point — so much so that the company became an economic force. It could make or break suppliers by promoting their products. It could dictate terms on manufacturing. Its headquarters city boomed as this tech-driven retailer built huge warehouses and factories and attracted other businesses and rivals. State and local governments complained that the company was harming small-town retailers.

That was Sears, Roebuck & Company in the early 20th century in Chicago. But at various times in the history of retailing you could apply like descriptions of retail might to Walmart, Kmart, Safeway, A.&P., and F.W. Woolworth, whose Downtown Manhattan headquarters building was christened the “Cathedral of Commerce” when it opened in 1913. Today the Woolworth Building is a luxury condo whose young residents are probably unaware of the extraordinary entrepreneur who built it.

Which is to say that becoming the nation’s leading retailer does not guarantee immortality, at least not beyond architecture. Sears, once America’s dominant retailer, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after 132 years in business.

Sears became the Amazon of its day because its co-founder Richard Warren Sears harnessed two great networks to serve his enterprise — the railroads and the United States Postal Service. When the Postal Service commenced rural free delivery in 1896 (the “last mile” in today’s jargon) every homestead in America became within reach.

And Richard Sears reached them. He used his genius for advertising and promotion to put a catalog in the hands of 20 million Americans in 1900, when the population was 76 million. The Wish Book or Big Book or Dream Book, as the catalog was variously called, could run a staggering 1,500 pages and offer more than 100,000 items. And when one of his pants suppliers, the manufacturing wizard Julius Rosenwald, became his partner, in 1886, Sears was on the way to becoming a vertically integrated juggernaut. Whether you needed a cream separator or a catcher’s mitt, a plow or a dress, or an entire house, Sears had it. “No matter where you go or how long you look, you’ll not find values approaching those this book presents,” the spring 1922 catalog declared.

Sears would carve up the catalog landscape with a local rival, Montgomery Ward. Remember it? Probably not. The e-sales promotion company Groupon, itself once mighty and now clinging to life, occupies part of Ward’s former headquarters in Chicago. Sears, Montgomery Ward and another Midwestern-born general merchandise retailer, J.C. Penney, dominated postwar American retailing, controlling 43 percent of department store sales by 1975. But even by then, Sears was beginning to falter under waves of new competition.

The company was not alone. A.&P., which introduced the first cut-rate grocery store in 1912, was also sliding into a long decline that would last through decades of ownership and management changes. Great A.&P. went through the final checkout lane in 2016 following its second bankruptcy. (Or was that the third?) A.&P. once operated 15,819 stores and ran the world’s largest food packaging plant, in Horseheads, N.Y. The company was so powerful that in 1949 trustbusters tried to slice it into seven independent companies. Even before that, states passed “chain laws” that included minimum markups, so small stores couldn’t be undermined by the loss leaders that A.&P. would offer to attract shoppers. A.&P., a vicious competitor, buried local retailers anyway.

By the inflation-racked 1970s, though, A.&P. was struggling against nimbler chains such as Safeway, which became the country’s top grocer, and Kroger, as well as new models of retailing such as big-box stores. Walmart’s eventual move into groceries would help seal A.&P.’s fate, and, at the same time, make the Arkansas company the nation’s top retailer, where it remains. For now.

A.&P. would later show some dubious creativity when in the early 1980smanagement scrapped and replaced the “overfunded” pension plan, plundering it for operating capital. This piece of sliminess was copied all over corporate America, signaling the end of the pension plans that so many workers depended on for retirement income.

In its earlier days, with strong leaders such as Robert E. Wood, Sears was able to negotiate huge shifts in the economic and demographic landscape. By 1925, more Americans were living in the cities than in rural areas. Sears followed them by opening retail stores. The postwar boom would give rise to the suburban shopping mall, and Sears could easily finance and grab what were then (but not necessarily now) the best locations across the country.

By the mid-1980s, after a restructuring, the company briefly blossomed anew, in part by becoming a more full-blown conglomerate that owned Allstate Insurance and the Dean Witter brokerage. Sears also tried to crack the credit card market with its Discover card. The rationale was that Americans trusted Sears on the spending side of family finance, so why wouldn’t they do the same on the savings side? The proposal was framed this way: “Would you buy stocks where you buy socks?” Answer: Not really.

High up in the Sears Tower, management couldn’t see that the retail landscape was changing. Sears couldn’t compete effectively with Walmart and the growth of big box merchandisers such as Toys “R” Us. But more important, the company could not summon the vision to anticipate the internet. By 1993, Sears had closed its national network of warehouses and exited the catalog business — which is basically e-retailing without the “e.” Amazon shipped its first book in 1995.

The Cost to Transform Retailing
Sears, the Original Everything Store, Files for Bankruptcy

Which brings us to Eddie Lampert, the chief executive of ESL Investments, who bought Sears in 2005 figuring, wrongly, that he could reinvigorate it. Mr. Lampert recently blamed Sears’ retirees for some of the company’s problems, complaining that paying them the money they were owed was holding the company back. He’s spent a decade shrinking Sears (and Kmart, which is part of the parent company, Sears Holdings) and then blamed the economy, the weather, Walmart, Amazon and everything else when his plan foundered. Saddled with debt it can’t afford, Sears is filing for Chapter 11 to keep itself afloat through the Christmas holidays. No one wants to buy into Mr. Lampert’s latest restructuring plan, which would sell ESL control of some of Sears’ best remaining assets, including the Kenmore appliance brand.

Amazon, the world’s leading e-tailer, is now one of the biggest clients of the . Postal Service. As Sears did in 1925, Amazon has moved into brick-and-mortar retail, buying Whole Foods and opening its own stores as it tries to close the store gap with Walmart. And the company has gone well beyond any retailer in terms of diversification, including web and cloud hosting, original content, fashion, hardware, even an airline fleet. Amazon certainly has the government’s attention, or at least the president’s, and its recent announcement of a minimum wage of $15 an hour for all United States employees will stave off some of the withering criticism about its employment practices. Amazon’s goal is to be less disliked than Walmart, apparently.

Certainly, Amazon looks unassailable in its current form. So did every retailer that became the biggest dog on retail’s porch. They were all innovative. They all pushed the boundaries on pricing, sourcing, marketing, regulation, employment, expansion and tax breaks. They all ultimately lost their way. Sears is the latest chapter in that story. And probably not the last.

 

Respect the Office of the Presidency

The President is speaking at the Naval Academy commencement Friday. There are those who do not agree with President Trump but who will respect him because of the office he holds. The below from the Washington Post today:

washington post Trump article

Decades later, officers remember their commissioning. One Marine I know recalled whole passages he heard from the speech at his graduation in 1993, 25 years ago. That year, John McCain came to speak and, as they say, he killed it.

McCain told them, “As ensigns and second lieutenants, the character of the young sailors and Marines entrusted to your care will be formed in large part by their appreciation of your character. You are where leadership begins. You are the models who stand just past the sergeants and chiefs, and those under your command will derive from your behavior the direction of their own lives. Their firm respect for you, on which their lives and our security will depend, will be determined by how faithfully you keep, on duty and off, the code you learned here.” McCain was telling them something they had learned every day for four years. Former Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Martin E. Dempsey tweeted a similar message just last week: “Character matters. Always. In everything. Period.”