Slow Miracles – Published in the Providence Journal

BY JIM RAFTUS
jraftus@aol.com
Last week, on Patriots’ Day, I was standing amidst a group of family and friends at mile 19.5, in Newton, waiting to cheer on my niece, Kathy Raftus Wilder, who was running her first Boston Marathon. In separate conversations with two women, one 30 and another in her early 40s, I recalled how, in 1967, a race official named Jock Semple literally pulled Katherine Switzer off the course because women were not allowed to race. Both young women I was talking to, intelligent and successful, were astounded to hear the story.
This year, there were 16,107 women runners out of 35,755 participants. I consider this a huge evolution within my lifetime, a sort of slow miracle. It made me think of other slow miracles over my 67 years.
Most people picture miracles as events that transpire relatively quickly: Jesus changing the water into wine at a Canaan wedding or Moses parting the Red Sea. Or, on a more secular level: Mike Eruzione scoring the winning goal to beat the Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympics for the “Miracle on Ice” or Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landing Flight 1549 on a river, saving 155 lives in the “Miracle on the Hudson.”
I believe that slow miracles do exist. Not taking the time to notice and savor them robs a person of a great sense of optimism and faith.
On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to move to the “colored” section of a segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala. On Nov. 4, 2008, Barack Obama was elected president.
No matter what a person’s political ideology, there can be no denying this miraculous shift in understanding and acceptance. This was a long, slow miracle that needed the Brown v. Topeka Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the Civil Rights Act and many other acts of courage to evolve. Of course, it would be naïve to say racism is a thing of the past, but within my lifetime we have moved from government-sanctioned segregation to having a black man in the Oval Office. A slow miracle.
In the 1970s, only 23.7 percent of cancer patients survived at least 10 years. By 2007, that had risen to 45.2 percent. In specific cases, such as prostate cancer, the increases for the same time frame rocketed from 20 percent to 70 percent. The work of places such as the Dana Farber Center, in Boston, and the efforts of organizations such as the Jimmy Fund and many other charities has prolonged the lives of millions who in the past had little hope. While this disease still inflicts turmoil and heartbreak on far too many lives and families, the progress toward stemming the cause continues. This is a still-evolving slow miracle to be savored.
As my niece, Kathy, approached her large, cheering clan at the 19.5 mile mark, her 5-year-old daughter, Erin, held up a handmade sign that read, “Go, Mom.”
Kathy beamed as she spotted us, gave high-fives all around, hugged Erin and continued on for seven more miles, to be greeted by another family contingent at the finish line. As 16,106 other women passed by us, another slow miracle came to mind.
Women in the United States could not vote until 1920. During my early primary and secondary school days in the 1950s, girl classmates were shepherded to continue their education, if at all, at Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School, the Rhode Island Normal School for Teachers or nursing school. This could, and did, lead them to honorable careers, but in hindsight there was an almost institutionalized limitation on higher aspirations. All the talk of future doctors, lawyers and scientists seemed directed toward the boys in the school.
Now, thanks to efforts such as the Equal Pay Act of 1960, the Equal Rights Amendment of 1972 and heroic attempts by women’s groups and their male supporters to make these resolutions realities, not just words, parity, while not yet achieved, is at least in viewing range.
There are currently 20 women in the Senate, the highest number in history, and three women serve as Supreme Court justices. There are finally some female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. Now, 58 percent of college undergraduates are women.
Our niece Kathy ran her first marathon as part of a project called “Dream Big!,” which raises funds to provide sports equipment and opportunities for young girls living in impoverished areas. Kathy raised nearly $14,000 through her efforts and contributions by others.
When I looked at her daughter holding that sign, all I could think was, “Go, Erin.”
There are miracles slowly blooming all around you. Spend your life embracing them.
Jim Raftus (jraftus@aol.com) is a retired marketing director who lives in Cumberland. jraftus@aol.com

Conflict vs. War – Published in the Providence Journal

BY JIM RAFTUS
Now we are dropping bombs and exploding missiles in Syria to diminish the radical group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Thirteen years after 9/11, we have entered a new area of the Mideast quagmire.
The American public must come to some harsh realizations.
There will be no newspaper photograph of a celebratory Times Square kiss between a jubilant Navy corpsman and an unsuspecting, but willing, young lady to signal a victory over ISIL. There will be none of the pomp and circumstance of the June 28, 1919, signing of the Treaty of Versailles hailing the end of hostilities.
A true war requires an opponent that has defined borders, a citizen army and a known hierarchy of evil leaders. ISIL has none of these. It is an evil, amorphous, growing snake that abhors the West and has no concerns about the rules of engagement such as those in the Geneva Convention.
The United States, and a few allies, are engaged in mortal combat, not a war. We will never be able to truthfully unfurl another banner claiming “Mission Accomplished” in this fight against extremist terrorism.
Successive generations of Americans have been brought up with Hollywood versions of great American victories, from Audie Murphy (who was an actual war hero) to John Wayne, Sylvester Stallone and Matt Damon.
Too many of us retain the dangerous illusion that, given enough time, money, troops and munitions, democracy will bloom in the Middle East, tribal differences will disappear and the women will shed their hijabs while attending schools in their Guess jeans. This will not happen. They, and not we, will determine their culture.
The failures in Vietnam and the frustrations in the Mideast have somewhat tempered America’s jingoistic hubris, but ours is still a victory-driven mindset.
Am I saying that we should be isolationist?
No, we cannot stand idly by. ISIL is beheading civilians. If their captured enemies do not instantly convert to their brand of radical Sunni Islam they are summarily executed. They are recruiting disenfranchised Westerners. Splinter al-Qaida cells, such as the Khorasan Group, are plotting direct attacks on the West (they were also targeted in the initial bombing attacks in Syria). Radical groups such as these must be contained.
But, while this is a major global problem, the immediate threats are to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
My visceral response mechanism wants to believe President Obama when he declares that there will be no American boots on the ground. Still, because I feel this problem will never have a complete resolution, I consider it never-ending combat, not a war. Therefore, I also think Obama’s strategy is too vague and extends too far into the future.
I would immediately announce four actions:
•The current bombing of ISIL, and other targeted factions, will continue unabated for six months at which time it will cease. While we will do our utmost to limit civilian casualties, such losses will, unfortunately, occur. (I refuse to sanitize this by calling it “collateral damage.”)
•The United States will spend six months training moderate troops from all our allies in the Middle East to prepare for battle. We expect all such allies, including Turkey, with its million conscripted soldiers, to participate as boots on the ground. It is their region and, in the end, their fight. Obama’s one-year schedule is too long and too open-ended.
•If needed, units from the Joint Special Operations Command, such as Navy Seal Team Six, will eliminate specific radical leader targets. Let well-trained volunteers who crave such action do the needed chores, not my pharmacist or postman on his fourth rotation.
•Implement a vigorous, thorough vetting of all travelers going to, or coming from, Middle Eastern countries. If there is a scintilla of vagueness about the purpose of their trip they should be denied their travel. On Sept. 24, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution requiring member countries to enact laws barring suspected militants from traveling abroad. A good start, but let’s put some real teeth and firm implementation into these regulations.
We face, unfortunately, endless combat against radical terrorism. It is the new reality. We must do all we can to protect our homeland with a minimal erosion of personal individual rights. We will remain a great, but more diligent, nation.
The “war” we must win is one over an illusionary mindset that victory is only possible with a defined end and a completely vanquished enemy.
Jim Raftus (jraftus@ aol.com) is a retired marketing executive who lives in Cumberland. He served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971.

Rhode Island andLife Long Friendships – Published in the Providence Journal

BY JIM RAFTUS
jraftus@aol.com
Tonight I will be attending a high school 50th reunion. More than 2 million high school seniors across the country graduated in 1964, so I am not alone in participating in this ritual.
Here’s what will make my night somewhat different and Rhode Island-centric.
While there will be plenty of “not quite certain who that guy is” moments, I’ll be seated at a table with several graduates I’ve stayed close friends with since September 1952, on the first day of first grade at St. Leo’s School, in Pawtucket. In fact, a few of them — Bill, Steve and Ed — are often part of my regular golfing foursome. We’ve remained buddies for 62 years.
When I tell folks, especially non-Rhode Islanders, that my foursome consists of mostly friends from first grade they are incredulous. My joking reply to their response is, “Yeah, we can’t decide if we are really loyal or really boring.”
What we really are is Rhode Islanders. I’m convinced that there is something unique to our native Ocean State that tends to cultivate long-term relationships.
In our younger days, the boundaries of parochial school parishes herded us together during these important formative years. The parish school and church were links that bound us together. We navigated the influences, good and bad, of the nuns and priests as a united group.
Left to our own devices during non-school hours, we poured our energy into traditional sandlot and playground sports: baseball, football and basketball.
A few months ago, relaxing at the 19th hole after a round of golf, we reminisced about a “two-on-two” basketball league we organized between the summer of our seventh and eighth grades. My team happened to go undefeated. Steve insisted that it was only because I “towered over all of them.” I am 6-foot-4. I let him keep this fantasy for a week.
The following Saturday, as we sat on the porch overlooking the 18th green, I unrolled, like an old biblical scripture, a faded, crinkled copy of the St. Leo’s graduation class of 1961 photo. There, standing in the second row, separated only by a girl I don’t remember, Steve “towers” over me by at least a full inch. You see, I sprouted three inches the summer after this photo was taken.
Rhode Island’s most often noted feature, being the smallest state in the Union, certainly is a factor in the long-term maintenance of friendships. We are long since removed from the Pawtucket of our youths, “scattered” all around the state: Cumberland, Barrington, West Kingston and East Greenwich. (Scattered being a relative term that folks from other, larger states would find laughable.) Most importantly for our needs, we can all easily find our way to whatever golf course we want to conquer in Rhode Island.
We went to different colleges: Providence College, Bryant and Rhode Island College. We’ve served in the military, Vietnam and Alaska. We’ve had careers: education, finance, insurance and marketing. We’ve attended each other’s weddings, our children’s weddings and funerals for our parents, all now gone.
It has been a long, mostly blessed, journey. Although more than five decades removed, I can still recall the climb up the back stairs to Bill’s family’s apartment in a no-longer-existing building behind Howell Smith’s Drugstore on the corner of Newport and Central Avenues. I can still hear his wonderful mother’s hearty, infectious laugh.
Times have changed. A more mobile society, instant international communication methods and, in general, a more frenetic lifestyle seem to have made such long-term close-proximity friendships less viable. I know my children, while still in contact with old chums via social media, have established newer lives and friends in new locations.
Oddly enough, the reunion my wife and I will be attending, St. Raphael’s Class of ’64, is not the high school I graduated from. Financial circumstances at the time forced me to transfer after my sophomore year, but so strong is the bond with my friends that I’m always invited back to school functions.
So, while I’ll be saying plenty of, “Wow, I haven’t seen you for 50 years,” I’ll also, happily, end the evening with, “See you next week, 8:30 tee time.”
Jim Raftus (jraftus@aol.com) is a retired marketing executive who lives in Cumberland.

Introducing the New 49th State – Published in the Providence Journal 1/9/15

Fellow Rhode Islanders, it is time to face facts. Our lovely state is in trouble. Little Rhody’s condition is the inverse of the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” There are major issues of high unemployment, horrible rankings for business climate plus state and local financial crises with no discernible solutions. We have become the little engine that couldn’t. It is broke and we don’t seem to know how to fix it.
How about a merger? Not a hostile takeover, but the creation of a new entity from the strengths of two neighbors, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
“No way!” the parochials on both sides of the current border will scream. Let’s block out the cacophony and look at the mutual benefits.
Immediately there will be unique opportunities for some of Rhode Island’s most iconic companies. Imagine the Alex & Ani Aquarium of Mystic. How successful would Del’s Lemonade stands be at every service rest area on the Merritt Parkway?
Politically, Rhode Island suffers from our lack of punch. Who in Washington cares about a paltry four electoral votes? How much can a mere two-person representation in the House accomplish in a body with 435 members? We rank 43rd in population and are one of the very few states which have experienced a decline in residents in the past decade, putting even our minuscule representative number at risk.
Merged with Connecticut, we’d have a population of more than 4.6 million, making us 25th in size. We would have nine electoral votes and seven House members. In this formula, Connecticut gains two electoral votes and two representatives. A political win/win!
Economically, Connecticut shines. According to the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, it ranks first in per capita income at $59,000. Rhode Island comes in at a decent 15th with $45,000 per capita. There are a number of folks quietly making good money in our state, however, nothing like the mavens from Fairfield County the Gold Coast of Connecticut. Most of these Wall Street barons and hedgefund hotshots have rebounded nicely from the Great Recession and are once again practically printing money. What a boon they would be to our economy!
But, with all of Rhode Island’s woes, you may ask, “What’s in it for Connecticut?”
Two words; beaches and tourism!
For a state whose entire souther border is coastline, Connecticut has an embarrassing paucity of beaches. That’s why we Rhode Islanders can’t get into our own state beach in Misquamicut unless we arrive before 8 a.m. We sit on Atlantic Avenue in our overheating cars swearing at all the Connecticut license plates filling up our lot. Oh, Connecticut tries hard, calling spits of land like Hammonasset and Attawan beaches, but it is not fooling anyone.
With the merger, it could also lay claim to the wonders of South County (I know it doesn’t technically exist), Newport, Little Compton and Tiverton.
As for tourism, Connecticut would go from flat line to full vibrancy. Really, how many people a year can you draw to that Mark Twain home in Hartford? I bet more people eat at the Brick Alley Pub in Newport in one month than find their way in a year to Samuel Clemens’s part-time residence in Connecticut.
For this obvious merger to work, some petty but potentially contentious speed bumps would have to be navigated. What to call this combined entity? I suggest the new 49th state (addition by subtraction) be named Fairland.
“Fair” pays homage to the economic engine Fairfield County, which will drive the new state, while “land” denotes the beautiful scenic landscapes that Rhode Island brings to the marriage. As for the state’s nickname, common sense should prevail. Nutmeg State versus Ocean State? Even the most ardent Connecticut native would admit defeat here.
Fairland’s capital city? My vote is Hartford. It is more centrally located. But, cheer up, Providence. One reason to give the nod to Hartford is because Providence can still survive as a nice, sometimes vibrant, mid-sized city, while Hartford, never fully recovered from the shrinkage in the insurance industry, needs the cache of capital status to remain relevant.
Which elected officials should govern? Well, you could field a football team, both offensive and defensive squads, with Connecticut and Rhode Island politicians who have done the “perp walk” over the past two decades. So let’s start fresh and declare new elections for all positions.
Time is wasting. We’ll have lots of signs to change and license plates to make.
Fairland, the 49th state!

Jim Raftus (jraftus@aol.com), an occasional contributor, is a retired marketing executive who lives in Cumberland.

My Dad’s Secret – Published in the Providence Journal

BY JIM RAFTUS
jraftus@aol.com
Surprisingly, my hand was steady as I teed up my ball on the first hole at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, in Fife, Scotland. Or, as the locals would say, “Stuck my peg in the sod.” I had heard stories of golfers so overwhelmed, or intimidated, by the lore of The Old Course that they couldn’t control their shakes enough to balance the 1.68-inch diameter ball on the small wooden tee. Of course, having a crowd of skeptical St. Andrew’s natives and assorted tourists watching you from behind the low white fence near the first tee adds to the pressure.
Later, at dinner, all the golfers received the most magnificent “take away” present imaginable. Unbeknownst to us, a camera had recorded our play on the first and eighteenth holes. A Scottish announcer narrated our efforts with great humor and mirth. My video begins: “Here’s Mr. Jim Raftus. He’s a tall man with a swing reminiscent of a young Tiger Woods.”
Scottish hyperbole.
After my foursome hit our drives, the camera followed us down the wide first fairway. My face is split by a wide grin and I am swinging my arms in a gleeful X pattern across my chest.
At that moment my thoughts turned to my dad, the man who had introduced me to this wonderfully perplexing sport. He had passed away a couple of years prior. As I strolled down the first fairway of the “Home of Golf,” I thought, “Well, we made it, Dad.”
My father, Leo, was, like me, a mediocre golfer. He introduced me to the game at a very young age. If I tagged along, the more likely Mom would be to allow one more round of golf that particular week.
Dad would meet his cronies at one of the several public courses he favored in Rhode Island. When the course was not too busy, he would give me one ball and a cut-down putter. I’d play the entire course behind Dad’s group with a putter, being extra careful to never get in anyone’s way. I’d keep an eye out for his long, lean silhouette to make sure I was keeping pace.
I also knew I was in range if I could hear him whistling a song between shots. I recall that at his last job, a shipping clerk at a manufacturing plant, his fellow workers nicknamed him “The Whistler.”
Invariably after every round Dad played, he’d say to me, “Jimmy, I found the secret.” He’d then describe the subtle change in his grip or the slower backswing or some other newly discovered panacea. Every week it was a new secret, and every week the secret seemed to last about seven holes before the golf demons took notice and the usual slices and three-putt greens would derail Dad’s game. With the exception of a few soft scowls, he usually bore the rapidly rising score with good humor.
Two years before my Scotland/Ireland golf pilgrimage, I took my dad to a driving range near his home. He was wheelchair-bound and, despite the warmth, I wrapped him in an afghan. He sat behind the mat I was using to hit my shots. After I had hit half a bucket he called me to him. I figured he’d had enough and wanted to leave. Instead he said, “Your grip is too weak. Gimme the club.”
Still seated, he took the driver in his hands. He had long tapered fingers. The back of his hands always featured prominent blue veins rising from almost translucent skin. His hand looked to me like a topographic map of the Appalachian Mountains drawn on parchment.
“Here’s the secret,” he said, still teaching at the age of 86. “Move your left hand over.”
He passed away a few months after this final lesson.
So, Dad was definitely on my mind as I stood on the famous Swilken Bridge for the obligatory photo-op on the 18th hole at St. Andrew’s. I then flew my approach shot over the final green and the ball came to rest on a steep berm.
Our Scottish video narrator picked up the action, intoning, “A very difficult shot from that lie. If he gets it within 15 feet of the hole, he’s done a good job.”
I deftly chipped the ball and it came to rest 2 inches away from the hole. The spectators watching from behind the white fence awarded me a fine ovation. I was so overjoyed I literally slid down the slope on my backside in celebration, club held aloft in triumph.
As I slid down I realized that my Dad’s real secret was not the grip, the stance or any golf tip. It was to always treasure family, good friends and life itself. Tapping in my “gimme” putt, I may have even whistled.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
Jim Raftus (jraftus@aol.com), an occasional contributor, is a retired marketing executive who lives in Cumberland.

My Day With the 1%ers. – Published in the Providence Journal 7/17/14

BY JIM RAFTUS
I never envisioned Alec Baldwin and Nathan Lane would help change my views on really rich people.
I would describe my own political stance as slightly left of center, except in these divisionary days I have no idea where the center is, or if it still even exists. I do have concerns about the increasing gap between the rich and the poor, but my day with Baldwin, Lane and the supporters of the Hole In the Wall Gang Camp gave me a new perspective.
Just prior to the 2012 election, my wife and I attended a charity event at the camp in Ashford, Conn., as guests of the owner of the company I used to work for. Lane was the emcee of the wonderful talent show and Baldwin was the auctioneer for the fundraiser.
Lane began his stand-up routine with a series of Mitt Romney jokes. When the reception to his humor proved tepid, Lane lamented, “Am I going to be the first person ever heckled off the stage of a charity event?” The liberal-leaning actor now realized many in the audience were well-to-do residents of Fairfield County and the Upper East Side. He was “in the belly of the beast.” As a veteran performer, he smoothly segued into several Joe Biden slams.
Following Lane, we were thrilled by a short violin concert by Itzhak Perlman and captivated by several songs from young camp attendees, all of whom are dealing with serious health issues. Anyone who could have a dry eye after watching them perform should get his tear ducts examined.
After leaving the theater, all the attendees headed to the hall for dinner and the auction. There was an array of interesting silent auction items and fine food to keep one busy until Baldwin took the stage to conduct the live auction.
He did a remarkable job, using humor to prod, tease and cajole the bidders into making serious bids for the various items. These folks, surely part of the 1 percent group, were digging deep to help the camp reach its goals. One of the most hotly contested items was lunch for two in New York with Bradley Cooper, a red hot actor. A middle-aged gentleman bidder, prodded by his teenaged daughter sitting next to him, raised the bid to an astronomical $95,000. The much-maligned and mocked Baldwin responded, “If you make it an even $100,000, I’ll match your bid.” Apparently, Baldwin donates all the proceeds from his Capital One commercials to charities.
I know cynics are going to say it is all about tax write-offs. However, I know some of the tax implications. It is not quid pro quo. You do not get a $100,000 tax break for donating $100,000.
The well-heeled people at this event gave in remarkable numbers. A prime example happened after all the items had been auctioned. The camp director took over and reminded everyone that it cost $2,500 for each youngster to attend for one week. No families have to pay for their children. It all comes from donations.
The director asked people who wanted to sponsor to simply hold up their bidding paddles and call out the number of campers they wanted to pay for. My former boss’s paddle was one of the first in the air. He is modest, so I will not divulge how many children he and his wife paid for. I will tell you that there was a thicket of paddles raised, with some individuals pledging to support 50 campers. You do that math. It was heartwarming altruism at the highest level.
The divisiveness between “classes” in this country is truly troubling. This day was a cautionary tale to me personally to avoid the stereotyping, which can block one from seeing the gray areas that exist in all arguments.
And, in fact, these folks don’t take themselves so seriously. At the end of his performance, Nathan Lane asked a friend and veteran character actor, Ernie Sabella, to join him on stage. Lane and Sabella are the two voices who sang “Hakuna Matata” in the “Lion King” movie.
Just before starting the song Lane turned to Sabella and said, in a just loud enough stage whisper, “Sing slowly, Ernie, they’re Republicans.”
The house came down.

Jim Raftus (jraftus@aol.com) is a retired marketing executive who lives in Cumberland

In Praise of Longevity – Published in Providence Journal 2/22/14

BY JIM RAFTUS
I’m always pleased when I see Roger Angell listed as a contributor in The New Yorker. I subscribe to The New Yorker because it keeps me on my toes, although I only get about half of the cartoons, and some of the fiction pieces leave me perplexed and, frankly, annoyed.
Angell’s work, however, is usually brimming with charm, intelligence and compassion. He has been a less frequent presence lately, but he can be forgiven. He is 93.
Fortunately, he was in the Feb. 17 and 24 edition. The New Yorker always includes a list of contributors: For example: “Jeffrey Toobin has written six books including ‘The Oath. The Obama White House and the Supreme Court.’”
Angell’s terse profile states: “Roger Angell first contributed to the magazine in March, 1944.”
That is two years before I was born — and I’m now undeniably into the senior, retired, fixed-income phase of my life! Angell was published in The New Yorker before the end of World War II. They’ve been accepting his work through 12 presidencies. In this modern era of instant fame and disposable careers, Angell sits proudly amid a pantheon of greats who have lived long and well.
Pablo Picasso created long enough to have, at least, five periods; Cubism, Rose, Africa, Modern and Blue. His initial work to receive notice was “The First Communion,” painted in 1896, and he unveiled the “Chicago Picasso” sculpture in 1967.
Jack Buck Sr. first broadcast a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game on KMOX radio in 1954 and he continued until 2001. He charmed the Midwest from Stan Musial’s fluid swing to Mark McGwire’s tainted 61-home-run season.
Leonard Bernstein studied as a youth at Tanglewood in 1940 and conducted his last performance at Tanglewood in 1990. The composer of “West Side Story” led the New York Philharmonic for two decades.
Helen Thomas was a White House correspondent covering presidents from John Kennedy to Barack Obama. She was a true pioneer for females in a traditionally all-male club, and press conferences were not done until she intoned, “Thank you, Mr. President.”
Angell’s article in the Feb. 17 and 24 New Yorker was titled, “This Old Man.” It is a poignant piece deliberately weighted with the winnowing of so many of his friends and family that comes with the passage of so many decades. It also, briefly and heart wrenchingly, describes the sense of invisibility that even someone as urbane and sharp as he feels when one seems merely tolerated during conversations.
Still, Angell’s humor and undampened spark for life shine through as he discusses the sexual yearnings of a 90-year-old or the joy of blogging. Here’s a writer who probably spent the first 50 years of his career changing ribbons on his Remington typewriter, rhapsodizing about the freedom of blogging. There’s a life lesson in all of this if we would just take the time to listen.
John Prine, singer/songwriter, who is in the fifth decade of his career, wrote a song called, “Hello In There.” It features this chorus:
You know that old trees just grow stronger
And old rivers grow wilder every day.
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello.”
Well, all I can say is, “Write on, Roger, write on.”

Jim Raftus (jraftus@aol.com) is a retired marketing director who lives in Cumberland.

Musings and reflections of a Commentary Writer. Watch for weekly post on Wednesdays.