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Archive for the ‘Looking Back’ Category


After the first newsflash, there wasn’t much reality to that morning of 9/11.  Some were on their way to their first coffee break and others wrapped in their own arms and thoughts saying, “This can’t happen here.”  Some remembered that day in Dallas – “Big D” they call it as the D in Death.  When the first bulletin on 9/11 was heard, the announcer sounded stunned and confused.  His careful training in voice and diction went out the window. You snatched fleetingly at the hope that it was only an unconfirmed rumor as you surfed the networks.  A paralysis was setting in as millions of minds focused on the suicide attacks at targets in New York City and Washington, D.C. There was a steady flow of bulletins, the announcers sounding breathless as though they had been slugged in the stomach.  But all the while a lump was forming in your throat. Your thoughts ambled in a most confused way as the news tickers clattered in the background. Old timers remembered Arthur Godfrey sobbing on the air as he described FDR’s funeral and the peculiar, choked phrase, “”God bless his gaudy guts.”  Tears glistened on the stubbly cheeks of combat GIs.  There was Walter Cronkite clearing his throat and announcing, “John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, is dead.”  Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination threw our nation into half-mast. The terrorists’ attacks threw our nation into unparalleled tragedy.  CNN and FOX proclaimed “America’s new war!”  We’ve entered a new age, brutally shaken, but more than ever aware of the dark forces around us and within ourselves that can still be controlled. If we’ve learned anything, we have learned that there is no such thing as security. When anarchy reigns – and anarchy begins when you stop caring for your fellow man – then not even the most valuable person in the land is safe.  All the guns in the Secret Service could not keep us safe, and all the weapons of mass destruction at our command will not keep us safe. The only shield is compassion and understanding, firm in the face of hate.


French flying enthusiast Bernard Decre says that a newly-found 1927 U.S. Coast Guard telegram suggests that French aviator Charles Nungesser may have actually been the first to cross the Atlantic non-stop, passing over Newfoundland but perishing in a crash, according to the Wall Street Journal. . .How did vet religion scribe Pat Rice, a retiree of the Post-Dispatch, learn in the summer of ’03 about Archbishop Justin Rigali’s impending promotion to become Philadelphia’s Cardinal? A 23 year-old Philly college student Rocco Pelmo called her out of the blue and said, “No archbishop had ever left St. Louis before, and that somebody would was amazing.” Rice told the Baltimore Sun this week, in a profile of Pelmo, “That was the first time I knew that this kid had incredible contacts,” The young man’s blog, “Whispering in the Loggia,” has since become widely-read among Catholic insiders. . .Former P-D skilled scribe Joe Mahr, now with The Chicago Tribune, just completed a lengthy investigation showing that “convicted rapists, molesters and other violent felons” are getting paychecks from Illinois’ Dept. of Human Services for babysitting kids from lower income families (so their moms and dads can work). The money comes from an otherwise praise-worthy $750 million a-year program that subsidizes child care for more than 150,000 impoverished families. Mahr’s probe found that the agency “poorly vetted babysitters for years,” and even now “lacks safeguards to weed out babysitters who watch children while living in the homes of sex offenders and other felons”. . .


The next edition of the London telephone directory will be minus one of the most endearing listings, now that the wonderful Fran Landesman is dead. Back to the age of youth and the days of innocence it was always a thrill to see the merry twinkle in her eyes as we strolled into her and her late husband Jay’s Crystal Palace on Gaslight Square. For those at the birth of the Square and subsequent flowering, there could be “no more fascinating personality – – exquisite songwriter, inventive poet, wild soul and tragic figure,” remembered Wayne Brasler of Chicago.  Our short-term miracle called life is richer for having known Fran.

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