Readers' Opinions

New Year's Trivia

Pork and sauerkraut is the traditional New Year's Day food. In Spain they eat 12 grapes – one for each stroke of the clock. In Germany food left out after midnight ensures a well-stocked larder. Eating fish promotes moving forward. Some other good-luck foods include black-eyed peas and collard greens.

Foods to avoid on New Year's Day: Lobster because they move backwards. It could cause setbacks. Chicken is a no-no as they scratch backwards. Any winged fowl may cause your good luck to fly away. In Asia they eat long noodles without breaking them. They must slurp them like spaghetti.

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Volume 5, Issue 25, Posted 10:49 AM, 12.10.2013

Support renewable energy and energy efficiency in Ohio

When a state invests in clean and sustainable energy sources and energy efficiency programs, there is a corresponding reduction in harmful emissions, giving us all healthier air and reducing asthma and lung disease for our kids.

Ohio has one of the highest rates of air pollution in the country. Children face higher risks from air pollution due to their high activity level and developing lungs. According to the American Lung Association, research has shown that fewer episodes of chronic cough, bronchitis, common cold, and conjunctivitis symptoms can be found in children as air quality improves.

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Volume 5, Issue 24, Posted 9:52 AM, 11.26.2013

I was proud to serve as a poll worker

For the first time last Election Day I served as a poll worker, and, let me tell you, it was an honor and privilege to be a part of such a special event.

At the urging of my wife, who has served as a poll worker for a number of years and who always came home with some amazing stories and a glow of service about her, I took the four-hour course to qualify as a poll worker.

I met with my compatriots the night before the election to set up the polls, which took about 90 minutes. Election Day morning you show up at 5:30 a.m. to turn on the machines and get everything ready for a long, and sometimes hectic, day.

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Volume 5, Issue 23, Posted 10:17 AM, 11.12.2013

Holding Hands

There is something special about holding hands and the human touch. An intimate, non-verbal way to say many things. To show emotion, support, help, friendship, affection. A handshake can also mean a closeness, peace, a comforting gesture or a sign of welcome.

How and why people hold hands depends on the culture and gender. But it is a universal act around the world. In African and Arab countries men and boys use it as a sign of respect and friendship. In the U.S. a mom uses it as a means to control the child as she crosses the street.

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Volume 5, Issue 23, Posted 10:18 AM, 11.12.2013

The Table Caper

On a sunny May day my friend and I went for a ride to visit my childhood neighborhood. On the way we spotted a large yard sale. My friend fell in love with a large six-foot table. Her car is a compact model and the only way to transport it would be to put it on the top of the car with the legs up. We dove to Home Depot for some rope and a furniture pad. I tied the table to the top of the car going through all four windows. That table was trussed up like a turkey.

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Volume 5, Issue 20, Posted 9:33 AM, 10.01.2013

I feel sorry for our young people

I was thinking about how much I feel sorry for our young people today. Their lives are so different and seem to lack some innocence and opportunities for some of life’s great lessons.  

I feel sorry for them because they never have time to be bored. We fill their schedules with so many activities that they rarely get to experience downtime. Being bored teaches you how to relax and do nothing or how to find something to do on your own. Being bored, as a kid, is a great thing. It teaches us how to be creative. 

I feel sorry for young people because they can’t put the TV on or change the channel without being exposed to violence or vulgarity or something else that does not help us be better people.

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Volume 5, Issue 18, Posted 10:35 AM, 09.04.2013

Tomatoes and roses

Living next to a railroad track is something I have done many times. When I was a young lad, huge coal-fired steam engines ran up and down the triple rail tracks, huffing and puffing black smoke and exhaust in the air. I used to walk across the bridge with my mom to the West Side Market. At that time the market was outdoors. Vegetable venders sold their produce on Lorain Avenue and on both sides of West 25th Street. Chicken, duck and turkey coops would be piled high across West 25th Street from the front door of the market house.

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Volume 5, Issue 18, Posted 10:30 AM, 09.04.2013

Hitting the century mark

Milestone events always seem to lend themselves to reflection more than prediction, a focus on the path we’ve traveled rather than the road ahead. As press time for our 100th issue approaches, my thoughts are drawn down the winding path into the past, over the peaks and valleys of the last five years.

I remember the first conversation my dad, Denny, and I had in 2008 about starting a citizen-written newspaper for our community as a hobby. I remember the questions we asked ourselves – Will anybody want to write for it? Will anybody want to read it? – as much as I remember the questions we did NOT ask – How much time will it require? How will we pay to print it?

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Volume 5, Issue 17, Posted 9:49 AM, 08.20.2013

Congratulations on five years!

Over the past five years the Westlake | Bay Village Observer has certainly established itself as a terrific resource to learn of the wide diversity of news, events, history and personal perspectives to be found within our two great communities (or even a far-flung continent or two).

For those of us who enjoy holding an actual newspaper while gleaning all of this information, this takes place within a very nicely edited, composed and printed document – on paper stock with a bit of heft to it, no less. (Oh, and they actually ran a couple of nostalgia pieces I scribbled out earlier this year, but please don't hold that against them.)

Well done, Westlake | Bay Village Observer staff and contributors!

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Volume 5, Issue 17, Posted 10:05 AM, 08.20.2013

Commitment to positive experience sets Observer apart

In celebration of the Westlake | Bay Village Observer’s five-year anniversary, and on behalf of all the citizens of Bay Village, I offer the Observer and its entire team heartiest congratulations for their positive contribution to our community.

A locally born, bred and authored newspaper, the Observer provides readers with a pulse for community goings-on, and serves as a simple, yet informative reporting option for all of us. Denny and Tara Wendell, along with the entire Observer team, make reading our local newspaper a positive and unique experience … their print publication is on-point and relevant, with topics openly encouraged and sourced by local citizens, all combined into newsprint which is objective, positive and enjoyable to read.

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Volume 5, Issue 17, Posted 9:52 AM, 08.20.2013

Why I volunteer with the auxiliary police

I began volunteering with the Auxiliary Police in Bay Village to follow in the footsteps of my father, Jack Hartz. He was a member of the organization for 36 years and was Captain for many of those, and I had the distinct pleasure of working under his command during my 26 years and counting. His inspiration is still felt in the group and sets the bar for where we would like our Auxiliary Police force to be.

I have had the honor of serving my community in many capacities including auxiliary officer, jailer and kennel officer. I take great pride in the work I do for the city. The benefit that we provide to the community is for the most part unrecognized because we supplement the regular police force and basically blend in. Working such things as traffic control, downed power lines and crime scenes amongst many others is just what we do. If there is a severe storm, chances are our members are out assisting with downed power lines and traffic. The members freely give of their time to make things safe for the city at large.

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Volume 5, Issue 17, Posted 10:23 AM, 08.20.2013

Congratulations to our 'small town' newspaper

Congratulations to the Westlake | Bay Village Observer on its fifth anniversary – five years of serving this area with community news, coming events and other features – as reported by those involved in the news, the events and the features.

In a day when other newspapers are going out of business – at least in paper form, or reducing their paper editions, Denny and Tara Wendell made the Observer the go-to place for news, views and articles of special interest to area readers – serving them well. It’s also the place for its many advertisers to reach their customers with their ads for products and services for its readers.

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Volume 5, Issue 17, Posted 9:55 AM, 08.20.2013

Happy Birthday, Observer

I have read community newspapers from Florida, Pennsylvania and a few other places. In my opinion, the Westlake | Bay Village Observer is really nice to read. I enjoy short, to-the-point articles that give you local news and events. Another nice feature is the advertisers are folks that live or have their business in this area.

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Volume 5, Issue 17, Posted 10:00 AM, 08.20.2013

True Bay pride

Bay High School has closed its books on another successful academic year. But, the success of this particular student body transcends that of the daily studies of English, history, math and science. What this group of young men and women accomplished in the last month of their high school careers is awe inspiring.

Back in May, a student started a Twitter page on which they posted cruel and hurtful comments about other students. This is as much as I will say about the incident, because this is not what this article is about. More importantly, this article is about the reaction of the students and the way they handled the situation.

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Volume 5, Issue 14, Posted 9:56 AM, 07.09.2013

Better safe than sorry in stormy weather

It's smart to prepare yourself before severe weather forecasts are broadcast. Listen to the radio or TV. Make sure you have batteries for flashlights and charge your cell phones. OK, now you're all set. What about your children? Since we don't have storm sirens, your children should carry their cell phones with them when they're at the skate park or playground.

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Volume 5, Issue 13, Posted 10:37 AM, 06.25.2013


The family and I were seated in a crowded waiting area at Hopkins Airport. My oldest son was returning from a graduation trip to Europe. We were laughing and chatting while waiting for the plane to land.

Suddenly, a young man about 30 years old came charging around the seats and said, "Hi, Mr. Leigh." I was startled. Who was this young man who knew my name? I sure didn't recognize him.

When he introduced himself I realized he was one of my Boy Scouts from years ago. He was now an elementary school principal. I asked him how he recognized me after all these years. He said, "I recognized your laugh."

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Volume 5, Issue 12, Posted 10:48 AM, 06.11.2013

Cape Point trip filled with shipwrecks and baboons

Did you know Cape Point is the most southwesterly point on the Africa continent? My family stayed in a cottage there a couple of weeks ago and it was so much fun! Over 500 years ago, Bartholomew Dias was trying to find a route to Asia from Europe and discovered Cape Point. He called it the Cape of Storms because sailors found the seas to be dangerous. It is also known as the Cape of Good Hope.

I learned that there were a lot of shipwrecks along the beaches. We took a hike and saw some of the shipwrecks. The ships were old and rusty, and broken up into many pieces. One of them looked like a fisherman’s boat and another one was a U.S. ship from World War II. The WWII ship’s name is the S.S. Thomas T. Tucker. That ship was sailing close to shore because the crew didn’t want the German submarines to find them. It wrecked because of the rocks. Even though the trail was very, very long and hot, it was awesome to see. It made me think that sailing must be tough at Cape Point.

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Volume 5, Issue 11, Posted 10:08 AM, 05.29.2013

The Bridge

There is a bridge that crosses over the First River in Stellenbosch, South Africa. I can see it from my house. People walk and drive over it everyday, going to their jobs, going out to eat or going home. But under the bridge, there are people who don’t have anywhere to go. They are homeless. They are hungry. They live there.

I have met so many people who are homeless. One person I met is Martin. He had open sores all over his hands and arms and was very, very skinny. His face looked sad, sweaty and tired. He told my mom that he had AIDS and was in so much pain. He asked for money because he needed treatment. My mom doesn’t normally give money, just food, but Martin started crying and said that he was dying.

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Volume 5, Issue 10, Posted 10:21 AM, 05.14.2013

The Concrete Chronicles, part III: Corrosion

Having decided on a theme and come up with a goal for my garden in progress, I knew the most important part was having a place to sit and enjoy it. Therefore, I set out to find two chairs and a table. In keeping with my English garden theme I wanted them to be wrought iron, to be small enough to fit on the balcony but sturdy enough to withstand wind, rain and the inevitable northeast Ohio winters. In this I ran upon a problem: Most of what is available in stores is not wrought iron, but rather flimsy metal substitutes.

So I abandoned the stores and went antiquing instead. One of the best tips I can give anyone who is looking to decorate any area of the home, indoors or out, is to hunt through antique stores. The items you will find are often better than anything currently on the market (at least for reasonable prices), and they are built to last (they made it this far, right?).

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Volume 5, Issue 10, Posted 10:29 AM, 05.14.2013

Remembering Emma

Her death notice would have caught my eye even if I had not known Emma Meluch. After noting her age (94) and her surviving family, the May 1 notice said she was "instrumental in the passage of two Westlake Charter Amendments.” 

I first met Emma when I moved to Westlake 18 years ago and transferred my League of Women Voters membership to the chapter here to which she belonged. Right away I learned that Emma was an astute person, well informed on what was happening or about to happen in city government. I lost touch with Emma when she was no longer able to attend League meetings, so I missed my chance to let her know personally that she was inspiring to me. But it is not too late to take notice of Emma’s legacy to good government by telling a little of her story.

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Volume 5, Issue 10, Posted 10:19 AM, 05.14.2013

Favorite Shirt

It's still one of my very favorite shirts. It is a Levi's long-sleeve denim with metal buttons and the small red Levi tag on the front pocket. I bought it at the GAP many years ago.

I looked "urban cool" when worn with a just-pressed pair of khakis and "spit-shined" round-toe cordovan shoes.

It got faded, old and worn but I could not put it in the Goodwill donation bag. I still loved it so, even with all its frayed cuffs, washed-out color and worn collar. By now it was super soft and sooo comfortable.

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Volume 5, Issue 10, Posted 10:21 AM, 05.14.2013

Tsitsikamma canopy tour

Have you ever heard of a temperate rainforest before? I had heard of tropical rainforests like the Amazon but I didn’t know that there was such a thing as a temperate rainforest until I visited the Tsitsikamma National Forest in South Africa. A temperate rainforest is one that has mild temperatures and mild summers and mild winters.

Tsitsikamma National Forest is along the Garden Route on the southeastern coast of South Africa. The word “Tsitsikamma” means “the place with much water,” and it was named by the Khoi people. The Khoi people are part of the original people that have lived in South Africa for over 2,000 years.

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Volume 5, Issue 7, Posted 10:44 AM, 04.02.2013

Harry, the leopard and the elephants

Crash…chew, chew… crash!! That is what I heard as I approached a male (bull) elephant eating on my second safari at Shamwari Wildlife Reserve. Shamwari is in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and is about nine hours away from Stellenbosch along the Garden Route. The Garden Route is a beautiful drive along the coast of the Indian Ocean. It has spectacular mountains, great forests with ancient trees and white sandy beaches.

When we arrived at Shamwari we had to drive down a bumpy dirt road to get to the gate of the reserve. I noticed right away it was different from Sanbona Wildlife Reserve because it wasn’t dry and it had a lot more green trees and plant life. But it still had bumpy roads and mountains.

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Volume 5, Issue 6, Posted 10:53 AM, 03.19.2013

Bay Village shopping opportunities of yesteryear

In the 1960s and '70s, when I called the city of Bay Village home (for about twelve years), "online" shopping may have meant waiting in a long queue for one’s purchases to be rung-up. It’s doubtful anyone other than the most visionary among us would have imagined the concept as it exists today.

Still, back then residents of Bay Village didn’t have far to travel if they wished to purchase a surprisingly wide variety of items. A story of mine appearing in the Feb. 19 issue of this newspaper regarding some of the dining-out options that existed when I was a Bayite spurred further recollections of other retail businesses in the city during that era. This is by no means a complete list, but following is my recollection of many of those retailers:

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Volume 5, Issue 6, Posted 10:48 AM, 03.19.2013

Remembering 'The Opener'

The Cleveland sports fan torment meter tilts to eleven with the recollection of certain painful scars: the Game 7 Marlins 9th inning World Series debacle, The Fumble, The Drive, The Shot, Red-Right '88 and, of course, The Decision. While not registering the same angst magnitude of those landmark failures, the 2012 Indians home opener earned a place in the egregious lore of Cleveland sports tragedies.

The Indians-Blue Jays opener was the longest of 1,360 Opening Day games played since 1901. The crushing loss of that landmark opener served up some distinctively painful twists of fate that foreshadowed the events of a doomed 2012 season.

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Volume 5, Issue 6, Posted 10:56 AM, 03.19.2013

My Lent mantra: Next year I'll do better

In this world of good intentions, I'm beginning to wonder if my latest one even counts.

I chose to give up chocolate candy during Lent, and I have no doubt I will successfully uphold that promise. The reason I'm so certain has nothing to do with my strong willpower, but rather the lack of it. I found that after depriving myself for just a few weeks of anything that resembled a chocolate bar, my body started to rebel, and the shaking suggested that I was a prime candidate for the dreaded chocolate candy withdrawal syndrome.

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Volume 5, Issue 6, Posted 10:56 AM, 03.19.2013

The meaning behind "Danny Boy"

Chances are, if you go out to celebrate St. Patrick's day, somewhere you're going to hear the popular Irish song "O Danny Boy," a favorite on that day.

Chances are also very good that due to the raucous crowd at the pub you are in, you will only hear snatches of the lyrics. Impress your friends with the following Irish info.

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Volume 5, Issue 5, Posted 9:50 AM, 03.05.2013

Recalling tasty memories of bygone Bay eateries

Part of a passage in Tara Wendell’s article in the Feb. 5 issue of the Observer about Mayor Sutherland's Bay resident satisfaction survey put me in a nostalgic mode.

Among the relatively few areas of frustration cited in the survey, a “shortage of restaurants/bars” was listed. Seeing that quickly got my memory cells energized to recall the dining-out options that existed within the city of Bay Village in the mid-1960s to 1970s, when I was among its residents.

As I remember, the Peach Tree Restaurant was the only general menu, full-service dining spot in town before closing in the early- to mid-70s. Peach Tree was located in the old Kroger plaza at Dover Center Road and the railroad tracks (now the Dover Junction shopping complex), situated just north of the Cunningham Drug Store.

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Volume 5, Issue 4, Posted 9:56 AM, 02.19.2013

On safari in South Africa

Can you imagine the smell of elephant dung? I mean actually having the elephant dung put under your nose to smell it? I don’t have to imagine because I smelled it on my first safari. It smelled a lot like horse poop and I learned that is because horses and elephants eat similar foods. Even though it smells like horse poop, it sure is a lot bigger!

My family and I just got back from going on our first safari. We went to Sambona Wildlife Reserve and is about three-and-a-half hours from where we live. The Reserve was created in 2002 to restore the wildlife and environment slowly back to how it was before the first white settlers came to South Africa.

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Volume 5, Issue 4, Posted 10:02 AM, 02.19.2013

Final thoughts before I become a foreign journalist

[Editor's note: Audrey Ray’s regular column, “Musings from the Middle,” a chronicle of the joys and struggles of a Bay Middle School student, will be on hiatus as her family relocates to South Africa. Audrey expects to resume writing once settled in their temporary home in Stellenbosch, near Cape Town. With the help of family friend Heather Ransom, Audrey filed one last article before heading overseas.]

Would you want to travel more than 24 hours to go to another country to live for seven months? I sure wouldn’t want to, but that’s what I am doing. By the time you read this, I will be in South Africa. My dad received a Fulbright Scholarship to study there, so my family will live there for seven months.

South Africa is on the very bottom of the continent of Africa in the Southern Hemisphere. But before I get there I am dreading the trip. I know it’s going to be long, tiring and boring. I also don’t think traveling with my younger siblings will be very easy.

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Volume 5, Issue 2, Posted 11:46 AM, 01.22.2013

Remembering the meaning of Thanksgiving

When most people hear Thanksgiving, they immediately think big feast, turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and whipped cream on pumpkin pie; but what is it really about?

Well for starters, it's about giving thanks, I mean after all it is called Thanksgiving. And well... I guess there's a bit of food in it, oh alright a lot of food. And for all you smarties out there, of course you can say Pilgrims and Indians (Native Americans). But all you have to think about is giving thanks for everything you have. That's all you have to do to have a "real" Thanksgiving, just give thanks.

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Volume 4, Issue 24, Posted 10:36 AM, 11.27.2012

Confessions of a Porter Library addict

I have kept a book log since the early 1970s and I've always wished I'd begun it when I was a child. I've read as many as 100 books a year, but these days I'm down to 35 or 40. My eyes get tired. I prefer literary fiction, but I read everything. I love a good memoir, history, and I especially love poetry.

If I were on a desert island and could only have one master of each major art form as companions they would be Emily Dickinson, Mozart and Monet.

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Volume 4, Issue 24, Posted 10:33 AM, 11.27.2012

Abraham Lincoln: Man and movie

As a student, writer, and sometimes performer of Abraham Lincoln, I’m occasionally asked what I think of books, movies or portrayals of our 16th president. I love these questions – any excuse to talk about my hero president is good for me.

Now with the Steven Spielberg movie “Lincoln,” I’m asked about it and the accuracy of its plot and performances. I saw the movie with my son, Jeff, his son, Alex, and several good friends from The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable on Nov. 20 at the Regal Cinema in Westlake. While this movie couldn’t compete for attendance with the latest “Twilight,” there was a good number in our audience.

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Volume 4, Issue 24, Posted 10:41 AM, 11.27.2012

One Senior's Opinion: Checking in from Fayetteville

Greetings from Fayetteville, North Carolina, the home of Fort Bragg, one of our country's largest military bases. I am spending Thanksgiving with family, getting to know our five-month-old granddaughter, Izzie. Weather here is terrific. I am so proud to walk among our military, at church, the store, McDonald's; you name it and they are there.

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Volume 4, Issue 24, Posted 10:39 AM, 11.27.2012

Lincoln at Gettysburg

Nov. 19 will mark the 149th anniversary of Abraham’s Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in 1863. As I have for the last 13 years, I'll be in the National Cemetery in that historic town to hear the address given again by a good friend and noted Lincoln performer, Jim Getty.

The main speaker this year will be Steven Spielberg, director of the new movie, “Lincoln,” which promises to present Lincoln on screen for the first time as he really was – man and politician.

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Volume 4, Issue 23, Posted 9:23 AM, 11.13.2012

Lessons from a five-year-old

Lilianna is my five year old. I was working on the computer during the summer when she asked me what I was doing. I explained that I was writing an article for the Observer newspaper about helping older people who are having trouble remembering things.

Light bulbs went off in her head and she decided she wanted to write articles to help older people too! I have enjoyed hearing her “articles” so much that I decided to have her “write” a weekly blog for me.

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Volume 4, Issue 23, Posted 10:30 AM, 11.27.2012

Honoring those who protect our freedoms on Veterans Day

From the battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill in 1775, to the mountains of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the skies over Libya today, Americans have fought and are fighting to give and to ensure the freedoms we enjoy here in the greatest country that ever was.

Over these 236 years of our country’s history, millions of men and women of all races, of all beliefs, across the spectrum of our society – sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters – have gone to war for us.

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Volume 4, Issue 22, Posted 7:32 PM, 10.30.2012

223 Memory Lane

I decided to write something a little different than my usual senior living topics. I have a story to tell.

I come from a family that has shared and saved many things from our past. I am blessed to have a mother that thinks of family history as an amazing trip down...let’s call it 223 Memory Lane. She has cherished and saved many things from the past of her children (she gave me every stuffed animal and doll I ever owned), but also of her own parents and my father’s parents, their parents and beyond. She has shared these treasures verbally, in written form and with pictures and trinkets. 

I have these precious memories all over my house, in plain sight and also tucked away safely. Recently I went through a wonderfully organized box that my mother made for me and also one for each of my two brothers. I need to go through theirs too, because she shared different things with each of us. Inside the box held photos of our family going as far back as 1897.

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Volume 4, Issue 21, Posted 9:54 AM, 10.16.2012

One Senior's Opinion: Get into the spirit of the season

Halloween lights and decorations are springing up everywhere. Oranges, reds and yellows are the colors of the season. Crops have been harvested, school is well under way and football makes great conversations, especially among guys.  Moms with young children are busy costume shopping or sewing, planning Halloween get-togethers and decorating the house, both inside and out. It's a great time to celebrate.

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Volume 4, Issue 21, Posted 10:04 AM, 10.16.2012

This is a stand up against bullying

We’ve all experienced that one moment, when you feel alone and worthless. We’ve all escaped happy dreams to wake up to a living nightmare. We’ve all been taken up to be pushed back down again. We’ve all faked a smile though puffy eyes and quivering lips. We’ve all been bullied.

I’ve been through countless minutes of "No Bullying" assemblies and lengthy lectures about being nice to each other. What adults don’t realize is that those long speeches help as much as taking a fish out of water. It doesn’t work.

Bullies might feel bad in the moment, but once the speaking is done and the chairs are cleared, it will be brushed off their shoulders and lost from their minds. Then it’s back to usual, and that one kid, who pledges to be himself, is punished for it.

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Volume 4, Issue 18, Posted 10:52 AM, 09.05.2012