Saturday, December 3
Tuesday next will be two weeks since I returned to Independent Living at Franke at Seaside in Mount Pleasant, S.C., where I lived from 2008 to 2013. Coincidentally, one of the thousands of pictures on my computer that popped up as a screensaver was a picture I took more than five years ago while the fountain in the small park in front of the apartment houses was being built.
Sunday, November 27
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
A fresh beginning
On November 9, the morning after the election I posted this note on my Facebook page: “Congratulations to the winners in Tuesday's elections across the country. Now it is time to go forward in peace and harmony to build the best future for all Americans.”
On November 22, I left Moss Creek Plantation in Hilton Head, but I am not moving to New Zealand or Mongolia, or any other place not bordered by the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and Canada and Mexico. I have been around the world; lived for some time in China, Australia and Europe and there is no place I want to call “home” more than the United States. I simply moved about 100 miles up the road to Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
This move does not relate to the outcome of the recent Presidential election, although like many, I was shocked and am still apprehensive.
When I married for the second time on St. Patrick’s Day in March 2013, I moved to Hilton Head with my late wife, Joyce, and the house she owned. Now I return from whence I journeyed: Franke at Seaside, a continuing care community, where I spent the final five years of a 56 year marriage to my first wife, Mary. I will live in an Enhanced Independent Living apartment in The Cove while waiting for a larger apartment to open elsewhere on the campus.
This move has been an exhausting process. More so than any other I have made. Perhaps age and being alone play a part. I made a checklist of things I had to do. Twenty-four tasks came up on the list, some of them with sub-lists. Culling books, wall hanging pictures, clothing, and other creature comforts were among the hardest things to do. A local charity agreed to come by and make the pickup: more than 25 boxes and bags of items I have been hauling around since I closed our house in Hanahan, S.C., in 2007. (Think pack rat or hoarder.)
When Joyce died in August 2015, she provided in her will that I could live in the house as long as I wanted, and bequeathed to me a house full of furniture, appliances, furnishings, pictures, silverware, china, glass, and books. With the agreement of her Trustee, I am able to leave most of this behind for the use and benefit of her children.
The next phase of my life begins. I look forward to renewing friendships with former acquaintances, making new friends, and getting on with the process of life. I enjoy good health and am comfortable in my own skin. Who knows, I may even find another wonderful woman to walk hand in hand with into the future.
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Posted by Francis Archibald at 8:42 AM
Monday, October 31
After my post about my memories of Vince Lombardi (below) a dear friend Barbara Smyth wrote to share her childhood sports memories. She and George married after he finished Yale in 1952 and live today at Franke at Seaside in Mt. Pleasant, SC.
Memories are made of this
George and I were not football fans as we grew up, we were Brooklyn Dodgers fans through and through since we lived in Brooklyn and our families went to games throughout the season and I listened to games on the radio after school so I could tell my Dad what happened to OUR team when we had dinner that evening. When Mom, Dad and I went to Ebbets Field, we sat in the bleachers for 50 cents each and always a double header which gave us the most baseball for our money. We packed a picnic lunch in a tiny cardboard suitcase with a quart of lemonade for the 3 of us, and off we went.
George's family sat behind first base in the seats bought for Smyth-Donegon Plumbing Supply Co. customers whenever they were not used for business. After a number of years, they electrified Ebbets Field and there were 14 night games that first season. Sometimes, Poppa Smyth would give George and his sister tickets to take a friend, and when I was so lucky to be asked, I would be all dressed up like all the other ladies at the game with white gloves, stockings and heels, and a dress, and he would have on a suit and tie, and if his dad went, he would wear a fedora and a suit. Everyone dressed like that for a Dodger game in the 1940s! Far cry from today's styles!
We have wonderful memories of those times - I think we had more dates at Ebbets Field in those years than any other place, including a World Series game in 1952. So when the Dodger management got approval in 1957 to move the team to LA in we were heart broken. The team had united everyone in Brooklyn - how could they take that away from us? I could go to work in NYC in summer and as I hung on a subway strap, I could talk to the unknown guy next to me and ask about a certain catch by Dolph Camilli or fantastic catch by Pete Reiser out in center field - everyone listened to the games on the radio reported by Red Barber, live from the field or sent in by teletype and he would add enthusiasm just like he was watching it in person. You could talk to anyone in the grocery store or on the subway - it was OUR team!!! Now that property is a huge high rise apartment complex.
At least we have our memories! Our childhood was great!
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Sunday, October 30
Yesterday I turned on my cable system and found myself one minute into an NFL film on the life of Vince Lombardi. I sat there for the next hour re-living the exciting sports days of the 1960s. I have been a Green Bay Packer fan since my high school days and when Coach Lombardi went to Green Bay in 1959 he breathed fresh life into the NFL’s smallest franchise and I was optimistic.
His hard-edged style turned the Packers into the most envied and successful franchise in the 1960’s, leading them to five NFL Championships, and victories in Super Bowl I and II.
Twenty-five or more years later, after I was retired, my wife and I were driving to Alaska from South Carolina and she was looking at a book of maps and my pre-planned route. She asked why we were going through Wisconsin, and I said that was how one got to Canada. She said that was ridiculous and I agreed. “I want to go to Green Bay,” and she just smiled. She knew the lure of the Packers.
The first day in Green Bay started with a tour of the stadium, along with a dozen or so others. The docent pointed to one end of the field and asked if anyone on the tour knew what that was. I quickly replied, “That’s the South end zone where Bart Starr dove to glory in the Ice Bowl and the Packers won their third straight NFL championship.” I knew. Packers 21, Cowboys 17.
My two oldest sons (12 and 9 years old) and I had watched that game in 1967, glued to the black and white TV, anxious all the way. In the final four and a half minutes the Packers drove 65 yards, culminating with Starr’s quarterback sneak. It was third down, no time outs left, 13 seconds on the clock and there would be no time to kick a 4th down field goal and tie the game at 17 all. Lombardi told Starr to go for broke.
The coach went on in 1969 to the Washington Redskins (where he was given a part ownership in the team) and in 1970 died from cancer. One of the saddest days in sports history. As the film showed his funeral in St. Patrick’s cathedral in New York City, I had tears in my eyes, even after all these years.
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Thursday, October 20
Matthew KO’s Kayaks
Like the heavyweight it was, Hurricane Matthew tore through Georgia, South and North Carolina in early October leaving havoc and misery for many residents in its path. Downed trees, collapsed roofs, flooded streets and homes, water and sewer lines broken, caskets disinterred, debris everywhere. Emergency services and first responders taxed to the max. There was a report of a man who called a pizza delivery service to take a pie to his grandmother and tell her to call him. They did, she did.
At my house there was no serious damage. One limb from a neighbor’s tree fell across the edge of the roof but it was harmless. My cleanup was easier than for thousands of others.
All around Moss Creek, the last gated community before reaching Hilton Head Island, the affects of the storm can still be seen. It will be weeks before all the debris is carried away and restoration can begin. The golf courses haven’t re-opened yet. Horrors. Psychiatrists are on hand. (Just kidding.)
Lesser known damage sites include this kayak storage area at Moss Creek. This is at the marina where at least two boats left in the water to ride out the storm capsized.
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Sunday, October 2
Why I am grateful
When I woke this morning, October 2, 2016, it was the first day of my life I was 85. I am a guy who has had a good life; one who studied, worked, laughed and cried, and loved and lost. During the past week I looked back on the many people and life events I have to be truly thankful for. My attention is with specific individuals and cohorts of people whose place in my life is deeply personal to me. By listing them here I hope to pay homage to them and let it be known publicly how truly grateful I am to:
- a loving God for the blessings of life and overlooking my failures and foibles.
- my country - the USA - for the privilege to live in freedom and opportunity to dream, to fail, to succeed.
- my parents, Francis C. and Anne C. (Wynn) Archibald for giving me life.
- my siblings, children and extended family members who make life interesting and fun.
- the public school teachers and Xaverian Brothers who instructed me through high school.
- my higher education professors and teachers who opened wide the doors to knowledge.
- Ed Cavanaugh who helped me get my first job as a teen-ager.
- Ed Quigley, part-time employer and kind friend who urged me to join the U.S. Air Force.
- Lt. Col. John A. Brock, USAF, mentor and career facilitator.
- the men and women who made my working life challenging, successful and pleasurable.
- Carl Meynardie, publisher of The Hanahan News, who gave me a column and expanded a voice.
- the friends and allies who supported my political and elected service.
- the medical practitioners who take care of me.
- my late wife, Mary Frances Cooper, who married me, loved me, and gave me five children.
- my children who each developed in a different way and make me proud to be their father.
- my late second wife, Joyce L. Wahlrab, who loved me unconditionally.
- the innumerable men and women who touched my life, and I theirs, during these 85 years.
The timeline of a life is uncertain, but I look forward to the years ahead. I pray for long life, that I might love and serve My Lord, My God, and assist those in need in some small way.
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Friday, September 23
About six years ago Google counted the books in the world and come up with 129 million plus. This figure has been updated by others, not entirely scientifically, to more than 134 million and counting.
An average person reads 200-300 words per minute. At this rate, someone (with math skills greater than mine) has calculated it would take 60,000 years to read every book currently catalogued in the Library of Congress.
Nobody has that kind of time. Certainly not me. I have other things to do. So I compensate.
I read book reviews and familiarize myself with at least what the editors of The New York Review of Books, The London Review of Books and the The New York Times Sunday Book Review section, think is worth reviewing and possibly reading. Also ads in these publications are often a good source of of information for new books.
In 2013, more than 300,000 books were published in the United States. Assuming that number remained steady in the ensuing years, selecting those to be reviewed is a formidable, awesome and challenging task.
During the 1980’s and 1990’s, I reviewed books for the Sunday edition of The State in Columbia, S.C. The office of the editor over-flowed with books stacked in open bookcases, on the floor and still in unopened packages. I can only imagine what a corresponding office must look like in New York and London.
At this point in my life I prefer to devote my reading to non-fiction works, concentrating on memoirs, and books on world affairs and international issues. I do make one exception: Alan Furst, an American author of fifteen historical spy novels dealing with the period 1938 to the late forties. His is the last book I could not put down.
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