Improve Your Blog With This Amazing Advice

It’s important to share your passions with others and one way to do this is through the use of a blog. Whether you are traveling abroad, wish to keep in touch with those at home or simply want to share some tips and tricks with others, blogging is a great way to do this.

Read the following tips for some great blogging advice. An excellent tip for blogging is to make use of WordPress. This particular platform is extremely flexible with the various plug-ins that are used when it comes to blogging. WordPress is being utilized by over 12% of a million of the largest websites. It is currently the most popular CMS being used today. Headlines are what your readers tend to read first. They act like bait. If your bait is good, they will “bite” into the blog post too. However, if your headline is dull, repetitive, commonplace, predictable, or just not intriguing at all, your readers may decide to skip the entire thing. An important part of having a blog is to voice your own opinions.

Find a subject that you are truly interested in and are knowledgeable about and then put yourself out there. People like to hear the opinions of others. Opinions usually get a reaction and reactions garner readers and comments. You need to post regularly if you want readers to visit your blog over and over. Posting new items frequently keeps your readers’ interest so that they’ll keep coming back. The best blogs have regular content posted to them at least once every day.

If you can’t imagine maintaining that pace, then pre-write several weeks’ worth of content. This content can be used when you do not have time to develop content or are having difficulty coming up with content. Design your blog to keep not just the reader’s interest but also your interest. If you grow bored with what you are writing about, you won’t be likely to keep blogging. Even if you do, the quality of your writing will suffer. Your readers will be able to tell that your writing has lost some of its punch. Have your blog feel friendly and warm to visitors. Reply to comments that people leave, and this means more than just thanking them, try to have real conversations.

If you can develop a relationship with your readers, they will tend to be more loyal to you, and keep coming back. Make sure you blog is in good health. This simply means performing the regular maintenance a blog page requires for smooth operation and posting highly interesting, updated content. This ensures that your readers always enjoy visiting your blog. If you can, you should make use of a custom WordPress theme. In today’s time, readers have the ability to recognize themes that are very generic in nature.

Using these generic themes are just fine as long as you change up your header design so that it is more unique. Starting a blog doesn’t have to be as complicated as you may think. By using the tips above, you are well on your way to starting your very own blog. No matter what the use, it is sure to be a success with the wonderful information in the above article!

Howard Martell is the Owner of Check us out anytime for marketing tips and a free subscription to our cutting edge newsletter.

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How To Thank Your Customers Using Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing is one of the latest and greatest methods of advertising for business of many kinds. If it is done correctly, it can really increase the traffic to a website or number of customers to a store. Use the following tips to help you incorporate mobile marketing into your marketing plan. Make your messages relevant. This is the most important aspect of mobile marketing. A text message can be very personal and it interrupts someone no matter what they are in the middle of doing.

Avoid re-purposing an e-mail. Your text message should be short and very relevant to the audience whom you are sending them out to. Offer special discounts or value to your mobile marketing customers. Because mobile followers usually require customers to elect to receive information, make it worthwhile for them to enroll.

By offering greater discounts or better offers than those available through your web site or print marketing, you can increase the number of customers enrolled in your mobile program. Be short and concise with your SMS messages for your mobile marketing campaign.

Messages are limited to 160 characters, so put some thought into how to convey your information clearly yet briefly. If you use abbreviations in your messages, make sure they are commonly accepted and make sense to your customers. Make sure your advertisements work for all types of mobile devices. If your programming is only accessible by one type, like an Android, you will lose out on entire populations of prospective clients from other platforms. Using cross-platform programming is the best method to attract the most customers to your business. Get a location. Using a defined location on your media and mobile marketing actually interests a lot of customers.

They like knowing where a business is, should they ever choose to visit that area. Take advantage of this by informing your customers of your actual location, and watch their interest grow. Decide now whether you’re going to use QR or 2D codes in your mobile campaign. Your audience may not understand how to leverage certain technology out there, so you need to ensure that you’re going with something current, popular and people-friendly.

You’re marketing to basic folks; not everyone will be tech-savvy. Your natural inclination may be to send out unsolicited messages with your new mobile marketing campaign, but spamming people is never the way to go in any campaign. It is a huge turn-off and can possibly leave a permanent stain on your reputation and cause you to lose regular customers. Enlist the help of friends and family to try out the effectiveness of intended advertising campaigns, mailings, websites and more.

To get a truly unbiased opinion, you could pay an outside firm to test out your campaign. Take the tips that you have learned through this article and apply them to your marketing plan. Your business is sure to benefit from the time and the energy that you put into your mobile marketing campaign. Keep with your plan and you are sure to see the results you seek.

Howard Martell is the Owner of Check us out anytime for marketing tips and a free subscription to our cutting edge newsletter.

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About Dr. Lant

Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s regular Blogs Why I cancelled my Boston Globe subscription after 50 years. Auld Lang Syne. The best of friends must part

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

I have just cancelled my subscription to the Boston Globe. I have had this subscription for over 50 years, thereby making me one of the dwindling number of people who have invested their time and money. Why did I take such an astonishing step?

In a word, I have watched the Globe tumble from the pinnacle of journalistic excellence to a dull and commonplace rag.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, whose prose has never been published hereabouts would ask the telling question. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Sadly, the list has declined and declined again so that the story of a once proud newspaper. Certainly, one of the best in the land has become warmed over-dross.

When I first came to Harvard in 1969, opening up the Boston Globe in the early morning was a thrill. For the writing was rich, exuberant, confident, and unparalleled. This was the way journalism was meant to be and my first book Insubstantial Pageant: Ceremony and Confusion in Queen Victoria’s court even received a review that heralded a new writer on the horizon who, their well-known book reviewer Herb Kenny, predicted would further grace the vibrant Boston literary scene often in the years to come.

It was fun in those days to scan the columns of the Boston Globe for in all departments intelligent, knowledgeable, expert, literary folks were there in full array. Then things began to change for the worst. The Taylor family which had overseen since 1872 its prized property left far-sighted people gloomily prognosticating that this was the thin edge of the wedge and that no-good could come of the decision to disengage. The Boston Globe was sold to the New York Times for $1.1 billion in 1993. The knowledgeable experts around the Hub joined in Jeremiad and they would write. There are certain benchmark indicating the beginning of the end.

Mike Barnacle, one of the superb writer admitted in one of his column that he was guilty of plagiarism and he was then summarily dismissed on August 6th, 1998. The incident was unfortunate, but the punishment was excessive. It was indeed throwing out the baby with the bath-water. There seemed to be a pall over the city on a hill.

Then, the eight-hundred-pound gorilla that is the internet, came along to change Bean Town. Not only the Boston Globe but the worlds. Expert opinion predicted doom and they were right. It was not merely a route, it was a catastrophe. The Globe needed top-notch commentary and reportage, but they needed to get it done on the cheap.

Columnist like Kevin Cullen, Alex Beam, and Derrick Z. Jackson put out millions of words but not one memorable phrase. Here you see, people like this going through the motions of writing, copy worth reading. Joan Vennochi gets it right more often than not, but she is a rare example in a periodical that has lost its way.

The next disastrous decision was to devote page after page to sports. More sports and more sports again. John Henry, was one of the angel of death for journalism that was important and insights into the daily events, he owned the Red Sox and bought the Boston Globe for 70 million dollars in 2013 and was a gray presence overshadowing the land. As a result, we got endless pictures of muscle men patting their posteriors.

And so, when I picked up my Boston Globe today something snapped in me. And I cancelled my subscription immediately. Enough was enough. So today, with heavy heart I kiss goodbye, my once favorite publication. I doubt, there even will be a slightest pang to mark this sad event, which has been a long time coming and richly deserved.

Sic transit gloria mundi

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Summer guilt, ‘A Summer Place’, Anne Hutchinson and fare home in the dog days.

Summer guilt, ‘A Summer Place’, Anne Hutchinson and fare home in the dog days.
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Author’s program note. I’m telling you right from the get-go. I am going to write this article in the tempi of summer… starting with andante non troppo and ending with non troppo, andante be damned. I go even further: sizzled by sun, devoured by the fastidious creepy crawlies which abound and find my pristine flesh delectable, and urged by all to “slow down and smell the roses,” never mind that the roses have wilted hereabouts weeks ago and now give scent only a little and begrudgingly, if they even give scent at all.
These weighty matters, the stuff of every summer, all say the same thing: weary voyager you have earned your rest, sit down in the shade a spell and savor it. I (say I) want to… but it is so very difficult to do….
The first thing you should know about summer is this: it is (for me and my kind) the most guilty season of the year; each day the conflict grows between what my grandmother said (and exemplified) and summer’s adamant insistence that the least be done and slowly at that. It is a battle fought yearly in my brain, the more so since I am now that iconic age — 65 — the age at which we are outfitted in truss, battered panama hat, a good cane, more free time than anyone needs, and a one way ticket to the eternal destination.
Yes, in my mind’s eye, it is one of those happily oppressive summers of endless heat… and tasks only a beloved grannie could even hope to get accomplished…. “First, move those flagstones over there….” In the home of this matriarch and in those of her offspring, the devil’s luring ploys for idle hands were not just an adage; they were present realities and if one were not always alert, the wiles of Old Scratch would be one too many for us; and we should be lost to God, Family, and the American way.
And so summer meant work… so much so that even summertime recreational rights and observances often seemed more like work than work itself: “Tuesday, 10 a.m. swimming class. Remember, Jeffrey has a dentist appointment right after. He can change in the car.”
This was my summer, every summer, punctuated by Y.M.C.A. Day Camp, which I found exquisite torture. Forced hilarity and good fellowship of the exuberant kind perpetuated by the Rotary Club and exemplified by “Kumbaya” and college-age torturers masquerading as activity directors, “Hey, Jeff, get the lead out”, were not for me. This I demonstrated succinctly when, during archery practice, I ran away and walked miles along melting asphalt highways to announce I would NEVER GO BACK. And I never did…
… so concerned parents sent me instead to Christian summer camp, where my father made it clear Jesus would take a very dim view if I escaped… and so I remained, memorizing more Bible verses than anyone. It was not because they were the sacred sentiments of my ancestors… but because winning was better than losing, a sentiment I adhere to to this very hour… and which makes forced idleness, even for recreation and “fun” abhorrent to me… and frightening. Without the incessant labor epitomized by my forefathers, I should be utterly lost, without anchor, in a universe that frightens anyone with a lick of sense, and that I surely have.
Music. It is now time to introduce you to the music that accompanies this article. There are hundreds of songs about summer that make us want to join the chorus and belt out a happy tune. But the “Theme from A Summer Place” is so very right for the honor. It was written for the 1959 film, lyrics by Mack Discant, music by Max Steiner. Many people had a hand in the success of this little number, which was so simple as to be inane. Yet Percy Faith (so aptly named) turned it, his instrumental version, into the number-one tune on the “Billboard” top singles chart in 1960; its run of nine consecutive weeks in the top position remains the all-time record.
But it is the version by “The Lettermen” which causes us to stop, hear again, and somewhat remember and mumble the insipid lyrics that still tug at my heart as if I were 13 or so, an epoch as distant from me and my current circumstances than if warbled by Queen Victoria. We believed the winsome lyrics then, and a part of us believes them still:
“There’s a summer place/ Where it may rain or storm/ Yet I’m safe and warm/For within that summer place/ Your arms reach out to me/ And my heart is free from all care/
Go now to any search engine, and you will find it in its many versions, testament to the fact that it tugged at many hearts… and in our turbulent world still has its undeniable allure.
Summer People, Summer Place.
Until my father’s annual vacation came, summer did not call us away from home. Except for one great aunt or cousin, we knew no one with a summer place. Hers, in approved Midwestern fashion, was at “the lake”. One never said which lake, and it would have been mal vu to ask. The right people knew, and that was sufficient.
Instead, we used the pool in our shaded backyard or the municipal pool which was more likely to be in Naperville (where my mother’s older brother resided with his unloved Ultramontane wife Marce) than in Downers Grove where we lived. The water at Naperville was a shade of khaki I have never seen again and tasted of unwashed immigrants and people one was not encouraged to meet, much less befriend. It was, however, not merely acceptable but crucial to our way of life to share such municipal services. It made us the Good Citizens we purported to be.
Dog Days.
All this came home to me yesterday as I walked through the dried grass of the Cambridge Common, for the Dog Days of August, dies caniculares, are always days of remembrance, days slow, hot, and lazy that are so perfect you know they will not last. And so even before they are gone, we begin recalling them as so much ancient history. And that is just what I was doing, moving slower than my wont, forced by the heat to give up speed and see everything before it, too, was gone.
In this spirit, I saw a young man and his girl immobile under the great maples, still for a few weeks verdant, not yet a riot of inimitable color. They were bedraggled, wan, vying to be the unhappiest, either because she had now discovered the limitations of her adolescent love or because he not only knew these limitations but knew she knew them.
Almost in unison they piped up out of their lethargy and called for my attention. I was recalled to reality and that meant The Touch, the God-given right of the down-and-out of every place and time. Could they have a dollar? I was senior, I was well stocked with life’s benefits… I could afford to spend the time, my attention, and a small act of unexpected kindness. “Why do you need it?” “To go home.” “And where is that?” God supplied the answer, “Providence.” It is the place we all want to go, and I was being asked to expedite their passage. And I did.
I took $20 from my pocket and handed it over, pausing for just a minute to capture them in my eternal eye, so young, dazed, but given a happiness the three of us would long remember. Their thanks and “God-bless yous” were fervent, excessive.
Before I left, I told them about Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643), one of history’s most important women, sometime resident of Cambridge. Hair-splitting doctrinal differences caused her separation from the Puritan establishment of the town they raised as the center of their theology. “My way or the highway” was their solution to problems like this popular woman of heresy and schism, for all that there was no highway, scarcely a path in the woods.
Undaunted, Mistress Hutchinson knew God would assist her… and so He did, for she, banished from the Puritan’s utopia, found instead a place of God’s beneficence, a place called Providence. Now my young friends were going there, going home, and so was I, each step taking us closer to our destination, as resolute, determined and confident as Anne Hutchinson, who along with the Reverends Roger Williams (1604-1684) and Thomas Hooker, (1586-1647), (whose plaque on the Massachusetts Avenue side of the Common is so often obscured by bushes), helped shape the conscience and tolerance of a great nation which has never stopped needing their humanity and empathy.
“For it knows, there are no gloomy skies/ When seen through the eyes/Of those who are blessed by love/”

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ome of these days, Oh, you’ll miss me honey… your big fat mamma!’ ‘Dr.’ Leslie Berlowitz’ nonexistent doctorate roils one of the nation’s most respected institutions and the ‘little people’ get their revenge.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s program note. Remember Leona Helmsley (1920-2007), widely known as “the Queen of Mean”? She had the great good fortune to marry one of the Great Republic’s richest men, hotelier Harry Helmsley… which she thought conferred on her God’s permission to belittle, disdain, demean, denigrate all the “little people” of her big bath towel empire; oh, and skip taxes, too, a point of view with which the IRS did not concur…
… and so sent her to the pokey where she tried to bribe her cell-mate to do her prescribed tasks. She vowed not repentance (that was definitely for the “little people”) but revenge. And so she left her dog Trouble a twelve million dollar fortune (later reduced as excessive by the court to a mere two million), and so burnished her well-earned reputation as the unchallenged sovereign of gratuitous nastiness, “unchallenged” that is until now, for “Dr.” Leslie Berlowitz, (born 1944), gives even Leona a run for the money and that really is saying something given Madame Helmsley’s mastery of the stinging put-down and designed-to-hurt insult. But even here “Dr.” Berlowitz excels.

The scene of hurtful outrage.

Appalling though this is, you have probably lived every one of your days in complete and total ignorance about the august American Academy of Arts and Sciences, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a comfortable walk from where I am writing you today. It occupies spacious digs on five leafy acres in one of the most desirable areas on Earth, hard by Harvard and its unparalleled ability to lift the hitherto obscure to universal prominence and acclaim. Once there, and not a minute sooner, your invitation to membership in the Academy was sure to be in the next post and so it had gone on since this pantheon of certified worthies was established in 1780 by three of the American Revolution’s greatest leaders, scholar-patriots John Adams, John Hancock, and James Bowdoin.
This was their noble mission, “To cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honour, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.” Since then, and upon this laudable basis, over 10,000 fellows have been inducted, including Thomas Jefferson, John James Audubon, Washington Irving, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Willa Cather, T.S. Eliot, Edward R. Murrow, Jonas Salk, Eudora Welty, Duke Ellington… whilst among the distinguished foreign Honorary Members you find M. le marquis de Lafayette, Charles Darwin and Alec Guinness. It was an unmatched constellation of the legendary, the immortal, and the merely great and celebrated.
In 1996, “Dr.” Leslie Berlowitz became the Academy’s 45th president, with an endowed chair, the William T. Golden Chair, granted to give the lady a suitably comfortable place to ensconce her embonpoint. Only problem was… as reported by The Boston Globe, June 3, 2013, she had falsely claimed — on documents submitted to federal authorities on grant applications and elsewhere — that she had an earned doctorate in English from New York University, which she certainly did not, according to NYU sources.
But “Dr.” Berlowitz was a woman in a hurry, and she wasn’t about to let lack of a simple sheepskin hold her back. No way! So… she invented a character called “Dr.” Leslie Berlowitz. Here was a woman of consequence who put the actual woman with her comparatively meager credentials in the shade. These included a master’s degree from Columbia University and her duties as an administrator at NYU. There are questions about both of these.
Her master’s from Columbia, absent any subsequent doctorate, suggests what is known in the trade as a “terminal master’s”. Here people who are told they are not doctoral material are given the distinctly inferior consolation prize of the Master of Arts degree and advised to go back to Dog Patch whilst their more favored classmates advance to the eminence of the earned Ph.D. Odds are this is what happened to “Dr.” Berlowitz.
As for her work experience at NYU, it too is questionable and under scrutiny. NYU sources said that what “Dr.” Berlowitz claimed on her resume and the facts do not add up. NYU employment records show that she held a different, lesser job title in one case and held another job for far fewer years than stated in another. It was, in short, a pattern of prevarications, misrepresentations, and deliberate deceits.
On this basis she presented herself as a candidate for President of the Academy and was selected. Incredibly, no one on the selection committee seemed to ask about that all-important doctoral dissertation. She was now “Dr.” Icarus, with her own Daedalus (the Academy’s quarterly journal since 1955), and she flew high… for 17 increasingly dazzling, opulent years.
Item. Her total compensation package for 2012 was $598,000, 3 times what her peers in similar organizations were paid; far more than most college presidents.
Item: She always dined first class as a matter of course, and of course always flew first class, economy being a word she never countenanced.
Item: Her staff kow-towed and catered to her, picking her up at her superb residence overlooking the scenic Charles River, returning her thither of an evening.
It was exactly the life fictional “Dr.” Berlowitz would have had. OK, she must have constantly rationalized to herself, I lied. But I deserve everything I got. I earned everything. This must have been her constant belief, refrain, and creed. As such it certainly trumped the petty fact that she was every single day living a lie. Results, after all, were more important than mere honesty and integrity. And it must be said, she was a titanic worker, the ultimate micro-manager.
As such she had two key constituencies crucial to her success: her board of directors and her staff. She succeeded brilliantly with the first and miserably with the second… and herein lies the crux of the matter, the reason “Dr.” Icarus has fallen and will fall further.
The Board of Directors, seduced, enfeebled, hobbled, clueless.
In theory the designated CEO of any nonprofit organization is subservient to the Board of Directors. In practice, however, every CEO works overtime to ensure that the Board of Directors is subservient to her. This ensures her power, her position and, most important, her pay and perqs. Here “Dr.” Berlowitz excelled as we can easily see. When, for instance, a “palace revolution” brought on by staff complaints of her abusive and abrasive treatment almost brought her down just about one year after her appointment, the Board sustained her… and “Dr.” Berlowitz got the message: romance the Board morning, noon, and night. It worked.
So did doing everything possible to ensure her board candidates were elected… Thus when the current scandal broke, the Board was her poodle… immediately issuing a statement of unqualified support; only very slowly and with obvious reluctance distancing themselves from the “Dr.” who had catered to their every wish and whim… something the Board had valued above all, including the humane values they were in business to promote.
“Dr.” Berlowitz would take care of everything, and if a few of the “little people” complained, well, you can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs. And so we arrive at the “little people”, the Academy’s staff, in constant turnover humiliated, ignored, angry, aggrieved., resentful, smoldering. Their moment in the drama has now arrived…
Right from the time when The Boston Globe broke the first news it was obvious that Academy staff past and present, with their appalling stories of how mauled and mistreated they were, would be a factor as important and influential as her misuse of a non-existent doctoral degree. And here “Dr.” Berlowitz did herself in, treating the staff with constant disrespect, no day complete without its hurtful quota of abuse, snide commentary and disparagements, all public, all played out before their colleagues. Thus did the malice and contempt of “Dr.” Berlowitz turn the ancient Academy into a snake pit of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear.
In this pernicious environment, “Dr.” Berlowitz, micro-manager, ruled all. Not a paper left her office that she had not seen. Thus, when she claimed that her negligent staff was responsible for the misuse and misstatement of her bogus credentials, there was a gasp of disbelief at the Academy; the “doctor” had brass, no doubt about it. She had spent decades lying; if one more lie, more or less, was necessary to prevail at this crucial moment in her dissembling career, so be it.
This time, however, the lady is sore beset on all sides… by past and present staff who have bided their time and are tumbling over themselves to tell the now attending media about their particular woes… by Board members who begin to see how to get peace and quiet they enabled their creature to outrage their core values and the clear mission of the Founders… and by state and federal authorities set to discover whether and how “Dr.” Berlowitz broke the law and may be deserving of a punishment long days coming. All that will come out in the wash as further details emerge.
For now her petted directors have put her on leave, whether with her bloated stipend or not was not announced. “Dr.” Berlowitz, of course, will fight, and pertinaciously, too, for every penny and privilege until her effete Board says, “basta”, whereupon Miss Berlowitz, as the world will then know her, will no doubt take a copy of her book on management and climb the great steps of Harvard’s Widener Library, there to read from her business insights found in her deliciously titled tome ,”Restoring Trust in American Business”: Then to belt out Sophie Tucker’s anthem for brassy dames everywhere, dames who will do anything, absolutely anything to prevail.
It’s “Some of These Days”, first recorded in 1911. Go now to any search engine and listen to these acid lyrics, perfect for Miss Berlowitz and her affecting case of chagrin and rue :
“Some of these days/ You’ll miss me, honey/Some of these days/ You’re gonna be so lonely.
You’ll miss my hugging/ You’ll gonna miss my kisses/ You’ll gonna miss me, honey/When I’m far away…
Gonna miss your big fat mamma, yo’ mamma/ some of these days.” It might even work…

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On collecting political autographs. Downers Grove, Illinois, 1960, age 13.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. Her name was Phoebe H. Dutcher, and she occupied the exalted elected office of Recorder of Deeds in DuPage County, Illinois circa 1960. As such she was an important part of the Republican Party apparatus in what was arguably one of the two most important counties (the other being Cook) in the key state of Illinois, the state that (in the event) determined who would become “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the next President of the United States…”

Phoebe and my grandfather Walt Lauing were political pals. Grampie, a blunt, plain-spoken man of Hanoverian provenance was a pillar of the GOP, knew all the wheels therein, had them all visit the house he built out of good Midwestern flagstones, about the only thing as tenacious and unyielding as he was. His habits were exemplary; his word was his bond; and he never watered his liquor for himself or any man he respected and befriended, especially if that fortunate one was a Republican.

On this basis his construction company prospered… and, bit by bit, he used some of its profits to build his network, keep the GOP green and flush, whilst keeping the free-spending socialist Democrats (tinged mit Communists no less) at bay, especially his arch nemesis Richard J. Daley, his honor of Chicagoland (mayor 1955-1976), the master of every political chicanery, including his legendary talent for voting the dead and voting them often, thereby sending John F. Kennedy to the Oval Office; one of the greatest swindles of all time and a matter of unending chagrin and the bluest of language from Grandpapa.

All that was ever required to see Grampie emerge as Hoch Deutsch, Gott Mit Uns was to whisper in his ear that well and fully hated name; an explosion was guaranteed, and of course knowing the means of producing it ensured that I, his oldest grandchild and the only one with political interests, would provoke it, but only after I had tormented his ridiculously coddled and slothful cat enough and needed something to amuse me.

Perhaps he thought the red leather autograph book he gave me in anticipation of a steady stream of Republican worthies would give me something to do and save Tommie from torment. It didn’t, for I was capable even then of multi-tasking as was soon apparent to all, angelic smile and demeanor always ready for covert action.

Thus did Phoebe H. Dutcher, whom I recall as a jolly soul not above a tasty toddy of my grandfather’s practised invention, visit the house where to visit meant autographing my book. She was in fact the first to do so and was promptly followed by Samuel Wittwer (soon-to-be unsuccessful) candidate for the Senate, then Congressman Elmer G. Hoffman, a man of consequence in Downers Grove, the safest of safe seats, a man whose true opinions on the issues confronting Fortress America were as pat, predictable, and pedestrian as a guaranteed lifetime position in Washington could ensure. His visit to the kitchen of Victoria Burgess Lauing was an event… and of course I had a prominent position and in due course an expansive autograph in my notable album.

Higher… and higher.

By now you may imagine that I loved my autograph book; more and more as each person of significance bent low over it, glad to sign, glad to have their importance recognized and confirmed by my respectful request and awe, for they were all entitled to that. This was particularly true with the next panjandrum who was, we knew, a great man indeed because hardly a day went by when his name (and photo too) were not found in Grampie’s newspaper, the “Chicago Tribune”.

The fine folks at “The Trib” knew their business, he averred over and over again; he followed their editorial line with punctilious and total regard. The fact that in 1948 they announced to the world that Dewey defeated Truman, the biggest media blooper in the annals of the Great Republic, was a fact never, ever to be mentioned… or even thought.

The man whose photo and stirring deeds were featured every day was, of course, William G. Stratton, now running for his third term as governor of the land of Lincoln. My grandfather was just as excited as I was when he told me that I as chairman of the Puffer Elementary School Republican Party would be greeting him and offering the remarks and sentiments thought de rigueur for such occasions. It was an honor to do this, as good as a telegram from on high that my future political career was a cinch, as good as launched.

It was late October of the year; Stratton, tired, gray, shop worn was running with the full burden of nearly eight years of governing on his care-worn shoulders. He was running on empty, but he was a seasoned pol and he knew the game. The helicopter containing the great man came into view, the entire Puffer School contingent was out, squealing students, teachers, administrators, our friends and neighbors, the most fervent Republicans…

And, of course, my grandfather who had helped build the school, not just as director of the project but with his own tough leathered hands and cunning fingers, laying bricks like a connoisseur. He was a man who believed in the virtues of work and spent a long lifetime displaying them. How proud he must have been when the most important citizen in the state, the most important Republican motioned to me that I was to come aboard.

“Local lad flies high” declared the Downers Grove Reporter newspaper, the “lad” a play on my middle name, Ladd. Stratton said, “Hold on, boy” and told me to smile and wave. Just 13 years old, I knew this was living, although I may not yet have understood its cost, why so many like Stratton give up so much to grasp the greasy poll, so ephemeral and unpredictable, so exciting and addictive.

“Smile and wave,” yeah, I could do that… and I did. I was flying high indeed with higher still to go. It turned out to be the only autograph I ever got off the ground… and was certainly the last time he was asked to sign anything other than an admission of guilt. For Governor Stratton was crushed by the restless and determined electorate and shortly thereafter found himself in federal prison on a fistful of charges, autographs derided, degraded, disdained. Had Grampie known this I wouldn’t have been allowed to get in that helicopter and imagine a possible future. Thus, knowing the future is not always a good thing.

Richard Milhous Nixon.

If you were alive and of voting age in 1960, would you have voted for Nixon or Kennedy? 97% of you would now say Kennedy, especially given the fact that I am writing this 50 years after President Kennedy’s assassination, his name, election and administration being much in the news. Of course you would voted for Kennedy; any other action would have been disloyal, disrespectful. But the first rule of history is that you must be willing and able to give up your clairvoyance and make your decisions and judgements solely based on the facts then known, incomplete though they were.

And so… “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the next president of these United States… Richard Milhous Nixon”… since 1946 servant of the people as Congressman, Senator from California and since 1953 Vice President to that most popular of presidents, Dwight David Eisenhower.

Nixon had oodles of relevant experience. Kennedy didn’t. Nixon was a prodigious worker. Kennedy was a party boy. Nixon was a devoted family man in love with a good woman. Kennedy was a scandal waiting to happen, in flagrante delicto a very real possibility. Nixon was plodding and cautious; the kind of guy to do your taxes. Kennedy was reckless, cute, fun on a date and…. very ill, dying in office a very real possibility, a fact virtually unknown.

The reasons went for Nixon… but Kennedy had an incomparable asset, his father Joseph P. Kennedy, a man of the deepest pockets and an axe to grind, the ultimate mick on the make. And this trumped everything…

That’s why my mother invited me to sit down at the kitchen table one day after the November 1960 election. She hand wrote her letter to Hannah Nixon, the Vice President’s mother, while I addressed my loyal sentiments to him. That started the process that showed me off to the world, the photo pictured above running in the Trib, an adamant Republican paper, a strong Nixon advocate. They ran my story with alacrity and pugnacious loyalty.

My smile was incandescent, Nixon’s signed campaign poster on the wall, a signed family portrait in hand, his message warm, honest and personal; the kind of letter almost no politician writes today; a small measure of our declension as a nation and our rampant political malignities, sharp, toxic, rancorous, all-consuming, pointless.

Had Nixon shown more of this, allowed himself to show more, how different the history of the Great Republic would have been… for Kennedy’s margin was tiny, his victory the result of Daley’s frauds and Nixon’s unwillingness to call him on them, so sparing the Great Republic from shocking insights into the electoral process.

I have often wondered if Nixon ever regretted this civic-spirited decision. Certainly no Kennedy with Papa Joe at hand would have done that. The Kennedys played politics the old-fashioned way, as the blood sport it was, vengeful, manor houses burnt at midnight, the howls of menacing banshees carried in the wind, a warning to lesser men; the single word “Remember” their charge for life, branded on every Irish heart, no mercy given, nothing forgiven, nothing forgotten. The presidency was worth all this and more…

Against this immemorial rage and fierce determination, Nixon hurled his inadequate weapons of fair play, integrity, the decency of his Quaker heritage; a campaign he refused to get dirty. Oh, yes, and one resounding, upbeat American melody, “Buckle Down, Winsocki”. You can find it in any search engine.

It was the parody of a typical collegiate gridiron tune, go-team-go, rah-rah-rah. Written for the 1941 Broadway show “One Step Forward” by Chris Hillman and Bill Wildes the Nixon camp altered the words to “We can win with Nixon/ If we buckle down.” But this wasn’t good enough to carry the day, not nearly good enough. Thus did events take their course, for good and ill.


My parents took me to a huge Nixon rally very near election day. The special guest was Mrs. (Pat) Nixon. To warm up the crowd on this typical Illinois fall day, the grayest of atmospheres, helpers handed out sheets with the updated “Buckle down, Winsocki” lyrics. It was sung rapturously by the partisans, the only time I ever heard the tune and felt the certainty of victory. I recall it all so clearly. No, sometimes it is not a good thing to know the future…

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Thoughts on Lord Tweedsmuir, the Primrose League, and me



By- Dr. Jeffrey Lant

I have been researching for some items I need for my next article. And as it often happens, I have discovered another story as interesting as the original. Getting off the track is almost a certainty.

In this case it concerns an organization that no longer exists, and a peerage which is now extinct, and me quite possibly the only person still alive who could tell the tale. The organization in question was the Primrose League founded in 1883.

The Primrose League was a Conservative organization that met monthly in the House of Lords. Each month a well-known, usually aspiring politician came in black tie with a fulsome dinner speech in his pocket. The result was sure to be a rollicking evening and an illustration of why the British talk about being drunk as a lord for the good supply of that on hand.

I was the only American to be a member and never missed a monthly dinner or my chance to meet any number of peers and MPs. The members befriended me and overlooked the fact that I was a student at Harvard on the route of where Paul Revere galloped towards Concord. Let bygones be bygones.

One of the people I knew best was John Buchan, second Lord Tweedsmuir. His father had written the best-selling book, Thirty Nine Steps in 1915 and became Canada’s first Governor General in 1935.

Johnnie was born in 1911 and had a distinguished career. He was a colonial administrator and naturalist, but also a true-life adventurer. He has been described as a “brilliant fisherman and naturalist, a gallant soldier and fine writer of English, an explorer, colonial administrator and man of business.”
Dinners with him were always fun. The whiskeys flowed and so did the stories. I think he liked me because I had the mandatory awe-struck glint in my eye that Americans retain for members of the Royal family and glamorous peers of the realm. As a trustee of the Primrose League, he was expected to attend all the meetings and events sponsored by the organization and to make appropriate remarks.

This included an outing we made annually to Benjamin Disraeli’s home, Hughenden Manor where we placed a wreath of Primroses festooned with these three words, “His Favorite Flower.”

I knew a secret about this wreath that I learned in Windsor Castle where I was then working in the Royal Archives. Even Lord Tweedsmuir didn’t know. It was generally thought that the wreath and flowers were placed by Queen Victoria in memory of her favorite Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli. However, they were actually placed in honor of her husband Prince Albert. Hence “His Favorite Flower.” How could it be anyone but Albert?


                              John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir
Tweedsmuir laughed, gave me a swig of whiskey and laughed again. He didn’t mind the inaccuracy so long he didn’t have to talk about it in public. He minded that quite a lot because our excursions to Disraeli’s home were 99% women who liked to fuss over him, after all he was a Lord of the Realm. I was a good shield.

The Primrose League exists no longer and there are no more dinner in House of Lords no matter how much they love the UK. Started by Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston Churchill’s mother, it was kept going largely because of Evelyn Hawley, CBE. She worked hard for this decoration and she wore it daily. Then after 45 years of loyalty, she stopped and the Primrose League did too.

Now it is all gone, all except for me. I miss the comradery, the deep belly laughs that came so often, and the chance to meet even the highest Cabinet members and quiz them affably.

Johnie is gone, and there is no heir. Who places the wreath at Hughenden now?

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Cambridge senior citizen releases stunning manuscript of Herod, King of the Jews. Astonishing revelations from the man accused of ‘The Slaughter of the Innocents’ and intended murder of Jesus The Christ.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s note: I have held this story privily unto myself for over four decades now. Not a day goes by, not an hour, that I have failed to examine this manuscript, touch it, venerate it, until I have come to know each sentence, every word, indeed every smudge and discoloration.

Since the very day this story begins, so many years ago, this document has determined the course of my life. Instead of merely discovering perhaps the most important of historical documents — the apologia pro vita sua of Herod, King of the Jews, archetype of majesty, I have found a master… for whatever role I have played in this matter, it has always been Herod who has called all the shots, just as he called them every day of his life, as much a King in death as he was most assuredly King in life.

This papyrus clearly marked with the royal seal of Herod, King has held me in thrall. I have wondered, indeed dwelt on the matter with near manic intensity, whether I was right to withhold notifying my dissertation advisor of a find I knew almost instantly was a matter of the first importance, a certain wonder to the world, significant to people everywhere.

I was, however, just a second-year graduate student at the time and was as such unsure of my way; of no consequence or standing whatsoever. I decided then, and have lived with the consequences of this decision ever since, that when I was “ready” I would release the fateful document I have always known would make my career, guarantee a plum academic appointment, respect and admiration my certain portion…

… along, of course, with the jealous denunciations, painful abuses, and hurtful execrations of those who were determined to bring low anyone who threatens, as I and this seminal document would most certainly threaten, the version of events they had propounded and rested their careers, well being and reputations upon.

I was convinced then that I was not ready to withstand such abuse, which I knew was certain and so made the far-reaching decision to be silent and maintain this silence. Each time thereafter I determined I was at last “ready” for the world to know and take my rightful place amongst today’s Sadducees, I paused knowing the first query I would be universally subjected to was “why?”…. why had I waited even a single minute for revelation, the fateful query which even I recognized would undercut my case and make its acceptance even more difficult than I knew it would be.

Thus from the moment I determined I would not inform my advisor, would not inform anyone, my fate was sealed. Herod gained a loyal servant… I gained a boot on my neck, for I lived no longer my life; I lived only the life Herod, King permitted me. Here’s how it all began…

In Widener’s stacks, a bomb shell.

I was, I admit, a diligent, more plodding than brilliant student for all that Fair Harvard selected me. As such I was guaranteed a “good” job, at a “respectable” university… secured sustenance, but not one scintilla of the glory, fame and fanfare I yearned for. To avoid this fate, one known by most graduate students and the average Academician, I needed a dissertation that was at once meal ticket and masterpiece. And for that I needed just the right topic.

After discussion, I was given permission to write on the role of the “Slaughter of the Innocents” in the development of Christian theology, iconography, hagiography, and belief… and as such was immediately introduced to Herod, King, the designated villain of the matter.

Herod, scoundrel, murderer, infanticide, scourge of every decency, infamous traducer of every humane value, King.

The point of a dissertation, a doctoral thesis, is for the designated educational authorities to determine if you, aspirant to the Academy, can advance the cause of truth (“Veritas” as they simply say at Harvard) and, having advanced your point of view, defend it against all comers, and so enrich humanity.

It is the noblest occupation of all, the process through which assertions, however audacious and astonishing, shine out not as opinions but as Truth… thereby taking the place of mere arguments once regarded as important, now instead to be regarded as untenable propositions; no longer regarded as anything but the quaint beliefs of earlier, less enlightened times. All true scholars participate in this crucial work, indeed it is the major reason for the very existence of the Academy, where all work hard for wages ample but not excessive, shaping society, enriching society, advancing society word by careful word, idea by new idea.

I was proud to walk this road, honored, humble before such a great goal, determined to be worthy of the name Scholar. And so I opened my research on Herod (born 73/74 BCE, died 4 BCE aged 70); his reign (37-4 BCE), his wives (10), his children (at least 10), his vast achievements (particularly the construction of the Second Temple of Judaism and the astonishing engineering feat that was Caesarea Maritima and its breathtaking port, the envy of every governor and autocrat necessitous of tax revenues and wishing new ways to tap into the never ending bounty that was the trade of the Orient. Herod was the envy and inspiration of all, even unto the reigning Roman emperor himself.

The dark, sinister, paranoid, sleepless, fearful ruler, murder always at the ready to ease his uneasy spirit.

Then there was the “other” Herod, the one whose violent deeds continue to shock, disquiet, and disgust. This was a man of dark thoughts and darker deeds, a man whose penchant for murder as statecraft still reeks two millennia later. This was the man who killed his second wife Queen Mariamne, likely the only woman he ever loved; who then roamed the corridors of his many palaces calling her name, summoning her back to the life he had summarily ended.

He likewise killed his three sons by this queen as well as unnumbered officials, soldiers, priests, subjects, and nobles. Such a man well knew there would be jubilation at his death and so ordained that the leading men of every family, tribe, and section should die with him, thereby producing distress, lamentation and grief suitable for his stature and majesty.

Such a man could easily be thought to commit the unthinkable, the one act universally regarded as unmitigated evil, the act known to history as “The Slaughter of the Innocents”, enshrined for all the world to know and judge in The Holy Bible (St Matthew, 3,13-16)

“Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years and older, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.”
This was and has always been the gravamen against this notorious sovereign, a grave charge found no where else. Even so, this heinous deed was accepted by all, historical fact, the very gospel. My diligent researches revealed nothing more… until one unforgettable afternoon in the cool recesses of Widener Library.

There at the bottom of a dusty box, tied in heavy string, marked as a previously unopened, uncataloged bequest of Judaica was destiny in the form of a seal, the kind of official marking on the correspondence of some great man indicating a matter of significance. And so it most assuredly was…

The Gospel according to Herod, King of the Jews.

I would have removed the document from the box in any case. The shear beauty and intricacy of the seal, remarkably intact, assured that. Its design I later identified as an element from the facade of Herod’s masterwork, the Great Temple of the Jews. The document that followed was in Greek, a language Herod knew well from his extensive classical education. Here, too, he had the advantage of me…

But I knew enough to know the salutation was the king’s own. It said “Attend! To Herod, King!” He used the Greek word, “Basileus.”

Soon I was giving every moment that I could enter the stacks to this document; early and late I thought of nothing but its translation. But this was not enough. My poor Greek made for slow progress…. and so I determined to “borrow” this document from the library, promising to return it as soon as I had finished, but of course that day never dawned. I am looking at it now…

Obsession, a secret life, Herod rules my life.

Over the course of the next months, which ultimately turned into long years, my entire attention was focused on the document, which in due time proved to be a death-bed justification of the events of his momentous reign. The drift was always the same, I did such and such a thing because I was King, not saint.

Yes, he killed Queen Mariamne “a tiresome woman who would not keep to her place”. Yes, he murdered her brother the High Priest “an ambitious man with his eye on my crown and the head in it.”

Yes, he murdered his three sons by Mariamne “useless drones with only one interest in life… seeing me dead.”

The document, running some 5,000 words in the most elegant and sophisticated Greek imaginable, was a treasure trove of valuable insights. He made it clear each word was the word of a king, as such sacrosanct; that he would not deign to dissemble even if it were to his interest. And so he produced a document only the ultimate insider could have produced. That is why his remarks about “The Slaughter of the Innocents” disturbed me so…

In whose interest?

Herod, King, so renowned and powerful even on his bier that he could afford to tell the whole truth about himself, was forthright on this matter, too. He never saw any “wise men” (characteristically saying that he had been looking for such men quite unsuccessfully for his entire life); never received them; was never told that they sought the infant “King of the Jews”. If they had he could have directed them to dozens of such people in and around his kingdom, claimants to the throne being “common as dust”.

Moreover, should he have wished to kill the children of Bethlehem as the legend states, he could easily have found methods at once less flamboyant and more effective, starting a pest house there for instance, thereby introducing new plagues and contagions. He then went on to another matter. But before he did, he asked his reader to consider in whose interest such a canard might be. Certainly not his.

Over time the likely answer to Herod’s sharp question emerged. The early Christians lacked credibility and needed as many “miracles” as quickly as possible, to grow and prosper. Casting Herod as the certain cause for one of history’s most tragic and cruel events allowed the early fathers to dazzle by claiming miracles, indeed the very involvement of God Himself on their behalf, never mind it was untrue. Thus instead of this Biblical “truth”, I came to adhere to Herod’s no nonsense conclusion; that the entire matter of this slaughter was fraudulent, a pack of convenient lies composed for their own purposes.

What was I to do? I had by now been expelled from Harvard, not for the theft of one of history’s most important documents; that was child’s play. Rather for neglecting my other work and classes. Thus, I had even less standing than before. And so the matter rested for all these years. Thus, I allowed the selfish beneficiaries of the hoax known as “The Slaughter of the Innocents” to continue their falsehood and deception.

A special message from Dr. Lant.

Three months ago, I found in the lobby of the building where I live a hand-delivered package hand-addressed to me. I noticed at once it had no return address. Per my invariable custom, I opened the box at once, only to find all the documents collected by the ex-Harvard graduate student whose research on the matter has been so meticulous and invaluable. It even contained the headline he once expected to appear upon publication of his discovery.

However while I have used this headline above, I am by no means sure I shall ever publish this article, much less the poor man’s work, acute discoveries and conclusions as he clearly expected me to do. Here’s the rub…

Myths are important, you see, none more so than this one. For, yes, I am fully persuaded King Herod, not the single reference found in The Holy Bible, was right, that the research of our scholar was right. However their conclusions are inconvenient, to say nothing more, to churches and Christians everywhere. They need belief and Herod’s truth would only unsettle them so, especially at Christmas. For the story of Christmas relies on Herod, the three wise men, the dream God gave Joseph to flee into Egypt, and “the slaughter of the Innocents’. You see my dilemma….

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Summer Ends, Fall Begins, Back To School In The Heartland, Over 60 Years Ago.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.
Author’s Program Note
All of a sudden things are radically different. A week ago, even just a day or so, the implacable summer sun reigned supreme, turning even the most energetic and equitable into sweat soaked complainers, facing even the least demanding task as if it were a firing squad.
Then, on a morning like this one, you know, you sense, you feel that that sun, with all his dictating of every particular, has passed into long-gone history. You remember him without regret, though his leaving brings the incorrigible winter into plain sight. Thrifty housewives catch themselves
while sweeping the porch, “My, my Christmas will be here before you know it. How time does fly.” And she shakes her broom with a vigor that no one in the whole town had just the day before.
She shakes again to be sure things will be just so, ship shape. She didn’t feel this way a single moment of the summer. But she feels that way now. She catches herself, “Oh Come All Yea Faithful” her favorite Christmas song; she must check the attic. That’s where she’ll find the seasonal necessities. Then she smiles. It really is good to look early… she can’t help herself. The summer is gone, that’s for sure. And another line of “her” hymn slides out. She’ll check the attic today… just to be sure. It will never do to be unprepared… and she never is. That summer which ordered all just hours ago is gone. Dancing reindeer must follow.
One sure way you can tell the season has changed is the sound. You look quizzical, “Sound”? Yes, summer is full of Apollo’s happy music, the unbridled laughter of the young who pined for the summer, that May a million months ago, and  long ago tired of it; though they must be coaxed to admit to this dark heresy.
Summer comes with whoops and shouts and slammed aluminium doors. Summer is boisterous and capable of rebuffing any amount of “Jeffrey, come in NOW!” But in summer no one means it, for everyone wants to linger in the last twilights of sun and nowhere to go. Fall is a very different thing. And so the sound is a very different thing, too.
Summer is pagan, sprawling, pocket full of secret treasures from tree limbs and swamps where the cattails are always just a few inches too far and ingenious methods are required to avoid the mud that laughs at your inadequacies. Fall is disciplined, organized, clean clothes and a new lunch box without a single scratch and extra supplies for trading.
Summer is full of sound and laughter. Fall is muted, quiet, a time of sacred spaces and promises; some of which will haunt you for a lifetime, too precious to disregard, too painful to remember, except alone, head bowed.
Summer slows, autumn speeds.
The summer sounds say “bide a while” and even if we cannot, we know we should. In autumn we are too focused on arranging the remainder of the year now swiftly ending. It is always going somewhere, and never takes us along. This is the definition of sadness, and it is the leitmotif of the season we cannot stop for even a moment of “Once upon a time.”
Autumn returns the people, our friends and neighbors, who slipped away one summer day wearing sun glasses and the battered heirloom that is a grampa’s straw hat with its unexpectly bright riband in a fanciful color called cerulean.
The children who shouted their boisterous adieux as they left the security of drive way for the great imperial highways which take them anywhere; these children are full to the brim with stories of acknowledgement and high adventure, including first love with a broken heart and blurred photos you must promise never to reveal, cross your heart…
Summer may accept no destination as acceptable. Autumn is nothing but destinations, all important, even the least of them. Summer dawdles and saunters. Autumn has a date, a time, a purpose. It is for those who want to move up, move fast, and never tarry.
In summer, we slow down to smell the flowers; in autumn we grab the few remaining flowers as we race by, never stopping to sniff; grabbing because we need to give our hostess a bouquet, thereby enhancing our reputation, even if we rip the blooms from her very own garden, unthinkable in autumn.
Back to School
I’ll become a septuagenarian my next birthday and yet I caught myself just yesterday telling a guest to go to bed at once, after all tomorrow was a “school day”, a day for improvement, dreams dreamed, defined, refined, improved, achieved and new ones launched to continue the process for life.
To so aspire I was taught soundly and well. For this my teachers of yore deserve an encomium they will not get unless from me, for when I was in the schoolyard God was in His heaven, and all was right with the world. And I have always ladled out ample pomp and circumstance to those treasured beings who made it so.
I waited for them impatiently through the days of high summer. Then one day in the dwindling days of summer, all these beings, all women, all graduates of Illinois teaching colleges came back, like so many macaws in flashes of color and insistent chatter. Now their serious endeavors could begin. I, for one, needed no encouragement.
Summer has no standards. Autumn reveals new standards with daunting regularity. My fellow students decry the new destinations, some so they will not be seen as “teacher’s pet”; some because they know these new standards push them down and under, another obstacle to their ever less certain advance. Summer, for these, was better. Then they had only to regale us with new formulations of mischief and frolic, traits in limited demand for the rest of their three score and ten, unmissed by everyone else.
The smells of summer are clean, fresh, the honest scents of the good earth, crucial, good for a thousand years. They are strong, uncompromising, too real for the fastidious whose well being rests
on the smells they seek to avoid at any cost. These waft down corridors enveloped in manly whiffs of Old Spice and Right Guard or, for the ladies, perfume like Chanel, No. 5 my mother’s scent.
One day when alone at my grandmother’s, I tried her Coty and understood its power at once. A single drop was enough to envelope you in a crowd of violets, wanton and beautiful, my favorite flower. I never tried this experiment again. I could not trust myself. I have seen the results when it is used without wisdom or restraint. It is where seduction ends and cruelty begins and never leaves.
Without any effort whatsoever I can close my eyes and smell the workaday smell of mopped floors in the cafeteria where sticky linoleum did not preclude our dance class; boys awkward, girls already proficient at entrapment, perfecting skills they will use for a lifetime. If they married “well”, their parents could congratulate themselves — and the school.
A different smell permeated the floor of the new gymnasiusm, the pride of the parents who bought it and entirely believed that those who engaged in manly sports upon its lacquered surface would never do anything squalid or dishonorable, on the floor or off. We were shocked to the core when we found off differently.
I only remember one such game on that supremely polished floor. It was a basket ball encounter, and I was coerced to be there. The star in that pipsqueak league was Bobby Lucas, who at 13 or so already knew the full power of the word “suave”. Indeed the word and all its moves might have been invented for him.
As usual he dazzled with irresistible footwork, a junior Globe Trotter for sure. And then one of those thrusts calibrated by God himself brought the crowd to its feet, even me.
To celebrate, I threw my head back and hit Bobby’s dad squarely in the face. A trickle of blood ensued, enough to remind me these almost 60 years later of the astonished look I generated when I was young and careless, when everything worked and painful limps and uncertain organs were not my portion. I’d bump old man Lucas again and again if I could bring grace and agililty back, even for an hour. I’d even go to  basketball games and holler.
The trees in summer beguile and snooze under the humidity that slows all, then slows all again. Summer is happy to stay home. Fall can hardly wait for all the tickets it receives to gad about. Summer says “Come by whenever you like.” Fall makes it clear the event begins at 8 p.m. and don’t be late.
The last days of summer now demand our full attention, demand but don’t get. All eyes are on the rising sun, where every colored leaf arrests the eye. We cannot remember summer when God’s arbor wafts such allure to our attention. And so the children pile all this windswept moribundity with rakes bigger than they are and jump in, youth and beauty in every jump; their laughter infectious.
Dappled with sunshine, bedecked in only the choisest leaves, life’s acolytes walk to the shrine, from Woodward Avenue, where Mom waves and waves again. “How fast they grow up”, the mantra on her lips and every other mother’s.
From Woodward they move to Prairie, cross Belmont Road to Puffer School, which my grandfather helped to build, brickwork his specialty and where Principal Hefty had been my mother’s teacher and lived across the street from my grandparents. Many a day I ate the mulberries that fell on her sidewalk. Delicious though they were, I was the only one who partook of their richness. Now I’ve always wondered why.
“… And to the Republic for which it stands…”
At last we were all assembled, rooms of Baby Boomers, the pride of the nation, our hope for years to come. “I pledge allegiance to the Flag…” and amongst us some did so with a fervor impossible to disguise.
These were the children and grandchildren of Europe’s internecine destruction, grateful every day to thank God for the Great Republic, “liberty and justice for all.” They more than anyone knew it wasn’t so everywhere. And soon, to our chagrin and peril, it wasn’t true here either. “O, say can you see…?”
Program note
The music for today’s program is the theme song for “Ding Dong School”, which ran on NBC from 1952 to 1956. You will remember Miss Frances (Horwich), the host. She was very low key and talked exceedingly slowly, perfect for small ears and hands and irritating to anyone over 6.
Her approach made her a star. For at the height of her popularity, she had 3 million rapt viewers, one of whom was me. I can remember so very clearly carrying Miss Frances’s messages to my mother, and leaving the television set when she said she had a private message for mom.
This approach was media magic, and led on to Mr. Rogers and his neighborhood, and “Sesame Street”, all gold mines. Now here is a link that will take you back to where it all started.
About the author

Harvard educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant has been a “schoolboy” his entire life, his life ruled by the rhythms of the classroom. Using the knowledge gained and abiding by the commitment that produces results, Dr. Lant has written over 1,000 published articles, and over 55 books of merit and achievement. If you aim for success for yourself or your family, he is the man to connect with. Start with his autobiography “A Connoisseur’s Journey: Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.”

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