by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. If I’d been smart, I would have met Shirley Temple Black in Prague August 20, 1968. I was finishing up several exhilarating days in the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia during the waning hours of what was called “Prague Spring.” These were the glorious days when Alexander, local henchman of the USSR, played Tennessee Williams, cat on a hot tin roof.

On the most memorable day of all, just before his arrest, Dubcek went onto the great balcony of Hradcany Castle and made the graceful, long-suffering people believe that liberty was at hand… and they screamed their support, their belief, their hope that deliverance was nigh. I shouted, too, tears in my eyes (as they are now) that better days were coming, and soon.

But the subjugated nations of the Soviet dominated Warsaw Pact had other ideas, which among so many consequences would have given me a place in Ambassador-designate Shirley Temple Black’s motorcade out of Prague to safety. Thus was the great square before the castle, just a day ago alive with flowers, sprayed with bullets. Where I had cheered, there were now bodies. Where I had exulted with fervent patriots, liberty their passion, there was puddled blood and the acrid smell of death.

By that point if I’d had a lick of sense, I should have been en route home, or at the very least to Vienna compliments of the U.S. embassy. But I was instead alone on the last train out of Prague, trapped at the Austrian border, what “information” there was lurid, frightening, a whiff away from panic.

Thus I never met Shirley Temple or personally witnessed the radiant smile that helped us survive the most difficult of times, uplifting then, eternal now. How had this most “girl next door” managed to charm and inspire us so, to our everlasting gratitude and awe?

Golden girl in the Golden State in the Golden Age of the movies.

One thing distinguished Shirley Temple from the moment of her birth in Santa Monica, California, April 23,1928 and that is the fact that everything connected with this entirely normal event was entirely normal and so things remained, even at the dizzying height of her celebrity. She was the daughter of Gertrude Amelia Temple (nee’ Krieger), a housemaker and George Francis Temple, a modest bank employee. The family was of English, German, and Dutch ancestry. She had two brothers, George Francis, Jr. and John Stanley.

Like so many star-struck mothers, Shirley’s encouraged her infant daughter’s singing, dancing, and acting talents, and in September 1931 enrolled her in Mrs. Meglin’s Dance School in Los Angeles for fifty-cents a week. About this time, her mother began styling Shirley’s hair like that of silent fiIm star Mary Pickford. Ultimately this “do” evolved into the celebrated 56 curls that were the quintessence of “cute” and which in turn evolved into a multi-million dollar empire on which the smiles never set.

In 1932, this sunny, blissful child ,”bathed in love” as she said, was discovered by a movie agent and chosen to appear in “Baby Burlesks” , a series of sexually suggestive shorts in which children played all the roles parodying film stars.The 4- and 5-year olds wore fancy adult costumes which ended at the waist. Below the waist, they wore diapers with over-sized safety pins. It was smut in top hat and satin garter, coming perilously close to ending the career of America’s Little Princess before it even got
started. Shirley Temple plays Mae West, indeed!

(Years later in her autobiography “Child Star”, Temple reported that when any of the two dozen or so children cast in “Baby Burlesks” misbehaved, they were locked in a windowless sound box with only a block of ice on which to sit. Her laconic conclusion? “So far as I can tell, the black box did no lasting damage to my psyche.” Nice. More revealing was her final comment on this unsettling matter, “Its lesson of life was profound and unforgettable.Time is money. Wasted time means wasted money means trouble.” This was exactly what the studios wanted their “stars” to believe, say, and do… Shirley Temple, pre-schooler, was their kind of gal, and they were right. Shirley never let them down.)

1934, Hollywood “Stands Up And Cheers.”

It is easy to forget just how grim and frightening 1934 really was. So much had been toppled and devastated by the Great Depression. The old verities, now twelve for a penny, were challenged everywhere, scoffed at, derided, no longer venerated, no longer the white hope of an expectant world.

There was a lot more to fear than fear itself as every ism — Nazism, Fascism, Communism et al — made its strenuous, plausible play for world domination. What did the Great Republic offer in response? “People in the Depression wanted something to cheer them up, and they fell in love with a dog, Rin Tin Tin, and a little girl”, Mrs. Temple Black often said in her unadorned way as if these few words were sufficient to explain her astonishing success. But more explanation is necessary.

Not since Joan of Arc (1412-1431) had a great nation staked its future on a girl, much less one barely out of rompers like Shirley Temple. St. Joan, Pucelle de France, went forward with the sacred Oriflamme in her hand and the certainty of God’s favor.

By contrast, Shirley conquered the world with the famous ringlets, an unbeatable smile, and the warmest possible embrace for… everyone! And this begins to explain what happened next to her, to the nation, and to a world that loved her at once, whatever their race, creed, sex, age, national origin or anything else.

Nothing like it had ever happened before… and it made people everywhere feel good; made them feel happy now and optimistic about what was to come, no matter how gloomy the current situation. She brought hope, and hope was what we all needed, and urgently…

One year, 8 films, just 6 years old.

For all that they prattle on about creativity and art, the titans of Hollywood would give their eye teeth for a film model guaranteed to coin money over and over again. In 1934 Temple became the Most Important Star by providing it. The model, first seen in “Stand Up and Cheer, had predictable, interchangeable parts that produced predictable riches.

A feisty young girl caught in a jam, no parents apparent, adventures galore, all ending in hugs and kisses on the deck of the good ship Lollipop where the minions under 20th Century Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck shouted “Mazel Tov!”, and tap danced around the lovable moppet who had given them all a “happy landing on a chocolate bar.”

Once proven, the Hollywood Magic Machine worked overtime to provide suitable properties for their ultra bankable asset. Nineteen writers known as the Shirley Temple Story Development team created 11 original stories and some adaptations of the classics for her. They made hay with a will while the sun shined. It was good for everyone, not least the titans themselves whose studios just managed to avoid bankruptcy by standing on her girlish shoulders; one smash hit after another, each one a more perfect rendering of the golden model than the one before.

Everyone, but everyone went to the movies to see her in action. Here’s what President Franklin D. Roosevelt had to say about his main competitor for America’s attention, the child who was far more photographed than he was. “It is a splendid thing that for just fifteen cents an American can go to a movie and look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles.” Rarely has envy produced a more graceful compliment. It was completely deserved.

Needless to say, every element of a Shirley Temple film was analyzed and analyzed again. What should she wear, what should she say, to whom should she say it, how should she talk, sing, tap dance… each calculated decision contributing to her image of naturalness, naivete and tomboyishness.

The most controversial of these decisions involved the simple matter of Shirley holding hands with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, a helluva hoofer who happened to be Black. After prolonged discussion, loving everyone triumphed over loving some. Their effervescent dance steps in the 4 films they made together dazzled audiences everywhere and helped move segregated America in the right direction.

All good things…

Sadly this marvelous situation couldn’t last, was in fact being undermined by Shirley herself ever single day. Winsome child stars, you see, make the fatal mistake to grow up… and they are never as cute and cuddly when they are loutish teen-agers as they had been. Bad habits materialize (Shirley became a chain smoker) and adolescent sulking makes bad box office. Thus, as her age went up, her appeal went down until, after one wake-up call after another, Shirley Temple tossed in the sponge and announced her retirement. She was just 22.

Now what?

What happened next defied logic, at least big studio logic.Unlike others of her ilk Shirley didn’t fall apart thanks to drugs and arrogance. Instead she remained what she had always been been. For her the shibboleths of Main Street Middle America were always her bedrock beliefs and guiding lights. What you saw was utterly and completely who she was.

And so what she did was what we all do… get married (at 16) and divorced (4 years later)… only to find love and happiness for fifty-four years with San Francisco Bay area businessman, Charles Alden Black, a man who claimed he never saw any of her films. She had three children (one with John Agar, Jr., two with Black), and they had the usual problems.

She went back to work; some projects succeeded, some didn’t. There was no mystery, no enigma, no hidden secrets waiting to be revealed in supermarket check out lines. Instead there was decency, patriotism, kindness, courtesy, good humor and most of all love, tolerance, and acceptance, each an attribute which helped make her the effective diplomat she became, for her embassy to the Czech Republic and its playwright president Vaclav Havel, was no sinecure. She wouldn’t have taken the job if it had been, for she always valued and extolled the importance of hard work and did more than her share. She might so easily have turned out so very different…


I didn’t have to think twice about the music for this article. It was “On the Good Ship Lollipop”, Shirley Temple’s signature song. Music by Richard A. Whiting, lyrics by Sidney Clare, it was published in 1934, then used in “Bright Eyes.” Over 500,000 copies of the sheet music were sold and on any given night in that year of worry and anxiety, families gathered ’round the piano to find uplift in its lively beat and happy lyrics. Thus she shed her grace on we. Wherever she was going, she wanted us all to go… and I, for one, am glad and grateful I did.

Go to any search engine now and remember how this pint-sized ball of purposeful endeavor and never-say-die determination made you smile. No one ever did it better.

FREE consultation ($150 value). Expert shows you how to make money online.Call (757-647-2886) 24/7 Or Skype me homeprofitcoach NOW! Profit today!” Your success guaranteed.



By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

On February 28th, 2017, a remarkable thing happened which will reverberate through America’s history for many years to come. Donald Trump, adjudged by many to be an accidental president, and condemned by millions for his lack of presidential stature, strode to the plate that is the well of the House of Representatives and knocked the ball out of the park.

As he spoke, the media, who have judged him with often undue severity, sat back, relaxed, and watched an unexpected phenomenon taking place. This was not the Donald who astonished and embarrassed the nation with his vulgarity and incendiary remarks. This was not even the man of his inauguration as president, just a few weeks before. No indeed. Here we now have a president who delivered the finest State of the Union address not just of recent days, but back to Ronald Reagan’s 1982 speech, which set the bar for what any president delivering the State of the Union address must say and do.

However let’s be real clear about what I am saying. I am telling you, and if you are willing to heed my message, and not let your own preconceptions drag you to an unhealthy and biased conclusion, that here was a man doing what every president must do, that is grow to fit the public’s expectations, and use the powers of this most powerful of offices to move a nation.

I imagine that most journalists who are expected to comment on the speech, both as it was delivered and when it was concluded, expected more of the same, for 99% of journalists who approach the subject, the man, his mission, thought, quite frankly, that he was not up to the job… that he had made too many mistakes in the first six weeks… that he had too many problems with his appointments and with his staff.

Every time he tripped, the expectations about the man fell. And you could see from the media covering the event that they were bored, for they knew absolutely everything about the man and his capabilities, and none of it was good.

Then something almost miraculous occurred. The man was not incompetent, as many have said. He was not a bigot, as so many have said. He was not a prime example of the Peter Principle either, namely:

“the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate’s performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively, and ‘managers rise to the level of their incompetence.'”

No, he was not an example of the Peter Principle. Instead, he was an example of the Trump Principle… that is to say that he would do whatever is necessary to solve each pressing problem, environment, immigration, healthcare, etc. This common sense approach plays to Trump’s strengths. And so, each media source was forced to recognize, before the very eyes of the vast audience across the world who saw what was happening and were forced to acknowledge the vision and determination of a man they had despised just days before.

Hanging out in America’s 8th most Democratic city.

I come from a city called Cambridge, Massachusetts. Perhaps you have heard of it. It delivered the 8th highest concentration of Democratic votes in the 2016 election. It is arguably the most vehemently liberal community in the nation. 88% of the voters voted for Hillary Clinton. About 6% voted for Trump, including me.

My colleagues, when they heard this news, treated me as a man whose vital senses had gone haywire… that I must have lost my marbles… that I couldn’t possibly be serious about my choice… and that they would all come by in a kind of lamenting rotation to make sure my temperature and general mien were not worse, if that were even possible.

For some days after this event, even after we knew he became the president elect, I remained shut up, incommunicado, not available. It was not merely that I did not wish to hear their opinions, but I grieved for such intelligent people behaving as they were. They of course pitied my lapse in judgment, and sometimes used the hottest and most wounding of words.

The argument went something like this: Trump is not a team player. Trump’s facts are often skewered and outright inaccurate. He shoots from the hip, which is his most prominent body part, save only his mouth. As these fetid comments and so many more circulated and recirculated around the globe, the great mass of liberal voters showed their true colors and allowed themselves the luxury which they would not allow for the president.

One night I had one of these vehement and uninformed specimens for a drink. For half an hour or so I listened as this man poured forth the vile of the American Left… that Trump was a fascist, that Trump was a neo-Nazi, that Trump hated Jews, that Trump hated blacks, that Trump hated gay people, that Trump despised women… but they never mentioned the most important point of all… that Trump loves America. Thus if your vision of America is not his, yet nonetheless he is the president and entitled to your respect, if nothing more.

I asked my visitor, “Has Donald J. Trump broken the Constitution? Has he deprived you of your right to even your most superficial and uninformed opinions? Has he given away himself to an avalanche of hatred, prejudice, or just plain bile? No, he has not.” And that is appropriate, for I long to see how his vision of America grows and develops, the focus being always on the challenging, the bold, and on projects which are not easy, but are always necessary and essential.


I have stood in my Harvard Square home across the street from what bills itself grandiloquently as the World’s Greatest University, and I have felt shame for the students, ragamuffins every one, who have taken to the streets to denounce policies and an administration which has broken no Constitutional subject, and which understands that changes cannot take place without great visions and unsurpassed energy and tenacity.

It has been clear to me for some time that most every student in America looks back to the bloody, scrambled days of 1968, where the classic model of liberal dissent was forged. That was living if you were on the Left.

You learned from these chaotic days that bathing wasn’t necessary, that illegal drugs were mandatory, that insult always trumped rational argument, that you bore no responsibility for anything, for it was your God given right to raise mayhem without proof, and to gather in thoughtless mobs, the elements of your facile credo all that was necessary. This was not a political movement, it was the antechamber to any psychiatrist’s office you care to name.

Every generation since those turbulent times of 1968 ensures that it too can rouse the scruffy and superficial to the level of mottos and epigrams, for only a few letters are needed to make a fatuous point. Thence, to raise your right hand in firm salute and scream “Say it loud! Say it clear! Refugees are welcome here!” or any other of the thousands of cursory sayings which passed for thoughtful study and considered opinion.

We are in an unhappy period of history in this great nation, where thought is deemed unnecessary by the thoughtless, where an opinion immediately stated by the “right person” is immediately right and never wrong, where to be of any other moral, political, or religious point than your own is unthinkable and is certain to generate arguments delivered on spittle, with violence and hostility.

For these people, Donald Trump is serving as the finest enemy one could ever imagine for the next four years at least. The Left will continue to disdain rational discussion in favor of laziness and sloth, with nary a common sense and proven principle necessary. Their goal is not to govern, it is to make all the functions of government grind to a halt because of their capricious thoughts and actions. Thus, this saying: “What the proprietorship of these papers is aiming at is power, and power without responsibility — the prerogative of the harlot through the ages.”

But does this make any sense? Donald Trump bears the responsibility for maintaining and building a greater America. The unwashed will want nothing more than slogans without sense, and a nation that supports them in so many ways that they do not support at all.

Donald Trump is a builder, and I want to tell you something about what that means. In his State of the Union address, he gave numerous signals as to where his brain and heart are. He is a builder. My grandfather was a builder. My uncles were builders, too. Builders create for eternity. They do not bandy trivial points. Their goal is to take a place of promise, even one boarded up and shuttered, and turn it into a showcase where people can work, or live, or even read a book.

Donald Trump is such a man, as two examples prove. The first president that Trump cited in his speech was Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln, had the Civil War never taken place, still would have gone down in history as a significant figure. Why? Because of his support and leadership on the Morrill Acts of 1862. These acts, in brief, created a national network of colleges and universities dedicated to the practical arts of agriculture, science, military science, and engineering.

These institutions took young men principally from rural occupations to creating an infrastructure, providing education for the elite that built the nation.

The second president cited by Trump was Dwight David Eisenhower, not in his role as general and hero of Normandy, but for his adamant support for the great ribbon of highways that bound Americans together.

And so, Trump, in his telling speech, gave us a very clear idea of what he will do, and why he can become one of the greatest of all presidents. That’s right, I said greatest of all presidents.

Now the cards have been dealt. Trump stands forthrightly for maintaining, improving, and fighting for a nation that works, not for some spineless assembly whose members cannot bear the thought that they were wrong, that they are wrong, and that they will continue to be wrong until they look at the facts squarely, without rancor, with integrity… a thing they have been unwilling to do… preferring their parlor games of destruction and division.

Of course, one speech does not an administration make. But this speech is a line in the sand. If he pursues the themes outlined on February 27th, 2017, you will see such a period of American prosperity as may be called the Golden Age. Wall Street, for one, has already declared its belief that such a period is coming, as one record close after another of the Dow Jones makes clear.

Already the selfish and foolish behaviors of Trump’s knee jerk critics, which were page one news just short days ago, look like artifacts from a dim distant past. The idiom indeed has changed. Now, Trump, against all odds, is the person to beat not beat up; carping criticism of him looks not merely ungenerous, but a clear indication of how picayune and small minded the Left in America has become.

These are the beginnings of the great age of a greater America. Now, if you look squarely at the facts, we are beginning to see that Donald Trump, despite every flaw, defect, blemish, and imperfection, will lead us to a new and better place. This is the prediction almost no one would have been foolish enough to make just days ago, but which is now our exciting new national reality.

About the author

Harvard educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is well known internationally as the author of over 1,000 articles and over 60 books. To see all of his works go to

FREE consultation ($150 value). Expert shows you how to make money online.Call (757-647-2886) 24/7 Or Skype me homeprofitcoach NOW! Profit today!” Your success guaranteed.




by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s program note.

When we left the Dolphin Seafood Restaurant that evening in 1981 it was pouring buckets. The car was blocks away; we had no umbrella; not even a newspaper to cover our heads. Within just seconds, we were soaked. Decisive action was necessary… and fast.

Any port in a storm. Dramatis personae.

There are just four people in this tale. First Chris Welsh, major league pitcher. His beautiful girl friend. Me, tale teller. And you, the immediate and ultimate beneficiary of this incident, now part of the literary repertoire and dinner party conversations everywhere. Let’s get down to specifics…

It all started with a phone number and my desire to have my prospects call me any hour of the day or night. Thus, my direct “call me now” message was plastered on everything from my pens, calendars, brochures, ads, proposals to my business cards (unrepentedly flashy with my count’s coronet in real gold; I kid you not) tee-shirts, envelopes, memo pads. Get the picture?

I liked cool cash and needed copious amounts given my (admittedly) lavish tastes. Keeping the telephone red hot with calls from “I want a piece of you and your brain, Dr. Lant,” prospects was an essential part of my international Master Plan. And get this, the more times I put my moniker and phone number on every bloody thing under the sun, the more responses I got…and the richer I got. It was oh so sweet… and even my fiercest competitors were forced to admit, I was one cool dude.

Then one fine day, I got a friendly call from a guy named Chris Welsh. Didn’t know him. But he wafted some salubrious incense in my direction; lathering me with schmaltz sufficient to choke a horse. Of course, I liked him from that very first compliment… for Chris had all the persuasive moves and that all-important gift of the gab; perhaps a Kindred Spirit.

“The Unabashed Self-Promoter’s Guide.”

As it turned out, Chris was in Cambridge for an important family event. He had a few hours to kill and decided to spend them judiciously in what was then my favorite bookstore, Wordsworth, a grand place which allowed me (and the rest of their fiercely loyal clientele) to hang out, find a chair and thoroughly check out a potential purchase, or sit oblivious on the floor, no offense taken if bottom nudged by others immersed in A Book, a thing of telling force and compelling language. It was an incredible place…

… Not least because it stocked my books and placed not merely one order but, over time, many, many more. What’s not to like? In this place of tales, dreams, reveries where the best and most lyric words were to be found all around you, just fingertips away, Chris Welsh found… me! And (never underestimate this key point) he also found my phone number along with this ultra clear, ultra important message: “I am standing by to hear from you RIGHT NOW. Call me and see for yourself.” I meant every single word of this resonant declaration… and Chris, feeling the force and power of my adamant statement, knew it, too.

He called.

I answered.

He told me he was on Brattle Street, at Wordsworth, and had just purchased a handful off my (weighty) tomes. Could he drop by and have me autograph them; a request no real author, no matter how eminent and renowned, can ever resist… because they know the power and importance of people like you… and so do I. Customer regard is essential for success, cannot be duplicated, and is always welcome, always and whenever.

Wordsworth being just a hop, skip and a jump from my crib hard by the Cambridge Common, Welsh was punctual to the second. I liked that too.

Chris Welsh, charmer, purveyor of my first and only signed baseball card.

Before continuing my tale, I need to make what my many friends would regard as a completely superfluous and unnecessary mea culpa: namely that I don’t know a baseball from a grapefruit, even if my (much valued) life depended on it. There, now you know the worst. Excoriate me, condemn, disdain, but remember I could have taken the Fifth… but chose brutal honesty instead.

Chris Welsh and me, Kindred Spirits.

Chris and I got on like a house afire. Born April 14, 1955 his (comparative) youth allowed me to tower over him, big brother like. More to like and more still when he asked to see all my books and bought all the ones he didn’t have. Like I said, what’s not to like?

And then The Big Announcement, namely that Chris Welsh, born in Wilmington, Delaware, was one of the gods of creation, a certified, real baseball player with teams and colleagues who were all household names. Now at this point, our burgeoning kindred spiritship could have crashed and burned. But it didn’t, not by a long shot. Why? Because I never condescend to merit, whatever field it’s in and I have known all my life that my ears are my most important marketing asset. I wanted to learn; he was glad to teach me. And so the only major league baseball lecture of my life commenced.

Dinner at the Dolphin.

Given my complete and utter lack of knowledge and interest in major league or any other kind of baseball, I have to tell you I was proud of myself; my questions practical, short and to the point, the better to camouflage my sad relationship to the Great Republic’s great past time. And so we passed a useful, companionable hour or so. He then invited me to dinner, ordained the cuisine and asked if he could bring the lady of his life along. Of course, for I am of “the more the merrier” school of entertaining.

And so the night progressed, the lobsters just so, the Chardonnay crisp, the conversation witty, sharp, with that necessary dollop of malice the best raconteurs use to turn conversation to a practised art form.

“”I Love A Rainy Night.”

But all good things come to an end… but not always when, how or where we might suppose. Thus I return to that moment of aquatic superfluity along Massachusetts Avenue in a storm that wouldn’t quit. My new friends said they’d drive home as they were, a pair of drowned rats. I wouldn’t hear of it.

And so we walked home, Gene Kelly like, not missing a single puddle. In Harvard Square, we bought pounds of cheap candy, the kind you only share with your very best friends. Thus we arrived chez moi… with a problem.

“Showers washed all my cares away.”

We were all wet, very wet, needing to do something right away. And so each in turn retired to my Roman-style bath, the better to doff their sodden clothes and wrap ourselves like so many enchiladas in big fluffy towels. Thus did our unexpected evening pass in high good humor and too much sugar for all, until it was time for Chris Welsh and his inamorata to get up, dress and depart.

That was when he autographed one of his San Diego Padres baseball cards and handed it to me with a grin and these immortal words: “Five hours ago you were just a name on a book cover, now my girl and I are getting out of your bed”.

All true. And that’s why I shall never ever take an umbrella to any restaurant on a rainy night and why I whistle Eddie Rabbitt’s 1981 tune, “I love a rainy night,” as a kind of incantation summoning serendipity.

“Well, I love a rainy night… You know it makes me feel good.” I hope it always will.


Chris Welsh pitched for the San Diego Padres (1981-1983; Montreal Expos (1983); Texas Rangers (1985-1986); Cincinnati Reds (1986). Known as “The Crafty Left-Hander” because of his distinct style, he has been a sports commentator for the Cincinnati Reds for many years. He remains as charming and affable as ever.

About the author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is well known internationally as the author of over 1000 articles and over 60 books. He is arguably the most well-known author of his generation. He has touched the lives of millions of people worldwide with his inimitable prose style. To see all of his works go to

FREE consultation ($150 value). Expert shows you how to make money online.Call (757-647-2886) 24/7 Or Skype me homeprofitcoach NOW! Profit today!” Your success guaranteed.



by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. This is a story about a fruit so rich that once you start thinking about it you cannot rest until you are eating some… popping them into your mouth as fast as you can, crushing them… letting the richness of its sweet, sweet juice drip down your chin… glad to have all you can eat… joyfully careless about what you waste… for there will always be strawberries enough for you… you are absolutely sure of that!

But as Deana Carter knows, the lush abundance of strawberries is not unlimited… and so she twangs her tale of high summer, desire, a taste so sweet it maddens you and never satiates… producing a wine you can never get enough of… a strawberry wine… a wine that you can never forget… though sometimes you wish you’d never come to know.

And so, I have selected for today’s occasional music “Strawberry Wine” by Matraca Berg and Gary Harrison, released in August, 1996. Nashville record companies found the song overly long, controversial, and not memorable enough. But when Carter sang her heart out about the summer, the boy… the strawberries and their wine… the record won Song of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards. Go now to any search engine and listen to it. You’ll find yourself remembering… you’ll find yourself craving… you’ll want their taste again… the berries always see to that…. for they are an imperious fruit.

Her Majesty’s strawberry.

On a picture perfect summer day one August I was in Scotland, in the Highlands, at Balmoral… a country castle conceived by Prince Albert, the beautiful German prince loved obsessively by Queen Victoria. For an American used to the White House with its layer after layer of security, Balmoral comes as a rather unnerving shock. “Security” consisted of a single guard, unobtrusive, reading a newspaper. There might be, there must be more… but that’s all I ever saw. He barely looked at us.. smiled… and waved. Thus does Her Britannic Majesty tell you she is beloved of the people and doesn’t need a legion of centurions to protect her… unlike the president of the Great Republic who always needs more… and more.

And so in due course, my friend and I found ourselves in the magnificent park, expansive, serene, as lovely a place as Earth provides. And in the park I found a kitchen garden… the Queen’s garden… and in this garden I saw a strawberry, huge, perfectly ripe, ready to be eaten. And so I reached down to pluck it and enjoy… whereupon I felt a strong hand pulling me up and heard my friend’s voice, no longer amiable, but commanding, imperative, stentorian: “Do not touch that strawberry…. that is the Queen’s berry!” And I realized what being a subject of the Windsors meant, whilst I was the child of revolution and lese majeste/. And so the uneaten berry remained… for the delectation of the Queen.

Even dukes get only leaves.

I was crushed but as my friend was driving I had to give way, and gracefully, too – or else.

Then I had a thought that cheered me up. Even the grandest members of the nobility couldn’t eat of the Royal fruit with impunity. They had to make do with the strawberries’ leaves. And no, I am not making this up. A duke’s coronet proves my point. When a man becomes a duke (and there are only 24 such people in the entire realm of Great Britain) he is entitled to a silver-gilt circlet called a coronet. It features eight strawberry leaves — not one more and never a single one less. Thus does the sovereign elevate ambitious members of the aristocracy… and keep her strawberries for herself.

Other gentlemen of high rank and title are also entitled to strawberry leaves on their coronets. And here there is a most curious conundrum: marquesses who rank just below dukes in the peerage of the realm are entitled to four strawberry leaves… but earls, who rank below marquesses, get eight. What can this mean? For peers, as you may imagine, are protocol mad… and scrutinize their inferiors for any indication that they are claiming rank and privilege to which they are not strictly entitled. You can be sure there’s some fiddle going on here… but if the marquesses are in a pet of high indignation, they have but to look far down at the viscounts and barons who have not a single strawberry leaf between them… and that’s just the way these marquesses mean to keep it — “Honi soit qui mal y pense.”.

Strawberry leaves mean strawberry tea.

Fortunately, there is more you can do with your strawberry leaves than wait for the Queen to make you a duke. That, after all, could be a long time coming since the last non-royal duke was his grace of Westminster, in 1874. It’s true that her present majesty when a young woman offered to make Sir Winston Churchill duke of London… but he declined and there the matter rests, perhaps forever.

And you’ll agree, this situation could be more than irritating for those who every morning see in their looking glasses, not milord this or the right honorable that but… His Grace the Duke of… resplendent in ermine and strawberry leaves.

These men, well bred for hundreds of years, offer the correct aquiline features, the correct pedigree, with generations of the right fathers and acquiescing mothers, masters of every arcane procedure, the right words and impeccable cravat, these men I tell you are smoldering with rage, aggravation, frustration, worthies all marooned in the wrong time. For them, each of them only the calming propensities of strawberry leaf tea will do… poured in a fragile cup of Minton, delivered by Nannie who always knows just what to do. “Have some more sugar, ducks. There, there, it’ll be all right.”

And so does Nanny, who loves you best, goes out with wicker basket on her arm, to the places she knows well, where the fresh wild strawberries grow or the sweet woodland berries. Take 1 tablespoon of dried rose petals, 1/2 teaspoon of yarrow, 1 teaspoon of strawberry leaves, a pinch of mint or blackberry leaves. Add 1 cup of boiling water and allow to steep. Choler cannot long exist in the presence of such determined coziness.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886).

It was perhaps in pursuit of these ingredients that Emily Dickinson, mistress of opaque language, stepped out, “Over the fence” …

“Over the fence — Strawberries — grow — Over the fence — I could climb — if I tried, I know — Berries are nice.

But — if I strained my Apron — God, would certainly scold! Oh, dear, — I guess if He were a
Boy — he’d — climb — if He could!”

So, let’s leave it like that, for as Deana Carter sang, “It’s funny how those memories they last. Like strawberry wine… (when) The hot July moon saw everything” and the strawberries were there, bright and beckoning, just over the fence.

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by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

 Author’s note. To get the most from this article, add the right music. Of course, it must be “When the red, red robin comes bob bob bobbin’ along.” Written by Harry Woods, it was sung in his inimitable way by Al Jolson in the 1926 musical “Don’t forget the doughnuts.” Here is the link to the Jolson version. There are many other renditions… all peppy, upbeat, quintessentially American, but none like the Jolson one.

This morning… just moments ago… the world smiled and became a better place….

All of a sudden, I heard my name being called and an excited little fella, full of his news and lookin’ good, flew onto a branch right in front of me. He said, and he jumped up and down as he said it, “I’m back! I’m back! And I know you’re glad to see me!”

I know that’s what he was saying, and he was so energetic, so happy, so ecstatic that I couldn’t help reciprocating. I smiled. I grinned. I laughed aloud.

This was the sure-fire harbinger of spring, and he was letting me know, personally and in no uncertain terms. that he had returned from his winter sojourn… and wasn’t I glad?

Then he sang me just a bit of his trilling tune, just to let me know he hadn’t forgotten how much I like it… and then, with a bow and native civility, suitably spruce for his high business, he flew on, knowing I would understand that he had many more stops to make; where so many people would, in their turn, look up, smile, and be cheered, to go inside and spread the joy. The red, red robin was home, and not a minute too soon.

The world’s most popular bird? A distinct possibility.

The American Robin also called the North American Robin (turdus migratorius) is a migratory songbird of the thrush family. It is named after the European Robin because of its reddish-orange breast, though the two species are not closely related, with the European robin belonging to the
flycatcher family.

The American Robin is widely distributed throughout North America, wintering south of Canada from Florida to central Mexico and along the Pacific Coast. Three states think so well of this bird and its cheering song — Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin — that they have made it their official bird. It has seven subspecies, but only T.m. confinis, in the southwest, is distinctive, with pale gray-brown underparts.

Some habits

What child, or adult, too, in the robin’s territory has not seen this completely characteristic sight: our tenacious friend, legs firmly planted, tugging, lugging, pulling worms from the ground? Humans like this purposeful sight; it reminds us robins are just like us: industrious, focused, glad to be up and at their work. Yes, we like that.

The American Robin is active mostly during the day and assembles in large flocks at night. Its diet consists of invertebrates (such as beetle grubs and caterpillars), fruits and berries.

It is one of the earliest bird species to lay eggs, beginning to breed shortly after returning to its summer range from its winter range. Its nest is so well constructed that with necessary refurbishing it lasts for years. Robins know just so how to use long coarse grass, twigs, paper and feathers, all smeared with mud, to give them the look and feel they desire. It is a seasonal delight for us, and perhaps for the robins too, to see them at this work. It gives both satisfaction.


Sadly, robins are not immune from troublesome predators, who see in the well-fed and always well groomed robin, a movable feast, tasty for hawks, squirrels, cats, and larger snakes. When feeding in flocks, robins have developed vigilance and a team approach to danger, which stands them in good stead. The benefits of community work for them… as for us.

A word on robin vocalization

It is the male robins who grab the spot light with their complex and almost continuous sound. This song is called cheerily carol, made up of discrete units, often repeated, and spliced together into a string with brief pauses in between. Robins in different areas have developed regional variations and different delivery times. Artists, they do not like to copy, but enjoy their unique approach to the serious business of song. They sing what they like and render it with style.

Robins in human songs and poems

It seems we humans early became infatuated with robins, who delight in cocking their heads at us, bold, curious, sympathetic to our plight, though we did, for a time, eat them. But they have forgiven us for that lapse in judgement.

Robins feature in literature since at least the 15th century and have attracted notable singers and poets to expound upon their virtues and take off on extended flights of fancy.

The best known of the several songs featuring robins is “When the red, red robin comes bob bob bobbin’ along.” It was the perfect vehicle for the not-quite-yet famous Al Jolson, and he belted it out of the theatre into musical history. Bobby Day in 1958 gave us an entirely different sound in “Rockin’ Robin”; the robins were pleased. They delight in their diverse approaches and are sorry Day is hardly remembered today, though his lively tune is.

Poets, too, write frequently about robins, but not always so upbeat as in song.

William Allingham (1824-1889) is maudlin.

“”Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
And a crumb of bread for Robin,
His little heart to cheer.”

Robins tell me the pathetic imagery is not to their liking.

They are baffled by Emily Dickinson’s poem “I dreaded that first Robin, so.” (Her dates 1830-1886).

“I dreaded that first Robin so,
But He is mastered now,
I’m accustomed to Him grown,
He hurts a little, though —”

However, they have accepted the human explanation that no one really understands her poetry. And so the matter rests.

One poet, however, and one poem every robin knows, and wishes you to know. It is this resounding truth from William Blake’s (1757-1827) “Auguries of Innocence.”

“A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.”

However, let’s end as we began, with Jolson. He matches the soaring optimism of the robins themselves, all great American voices:

“They’ll be no more sobbin’ when
He starts throbbin’ his old, sweet song.”

And I believe that’s true.


​About the author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is well known internationally as the author of over 1000 articles and over 60 books. He is arguably the most well-known author of his generation. He has touched the lives of millions of people worldwide with his inimitable prose style. To see all of his works go to

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by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

This is the story of the world’s greatest university, rich, secure, inviolate, invulnerable… arrogant… ripe for the taking.

This is the story of a talented young man, not merely good at lying, deception, prevarication and hoodwinkery… but (though connoisseurs of such matters may cavil) great.

This is the story of a young man so keen to have the good things in life that he was willing to sell his soul to get them… and of parents who so loved their son that they were willing to put him in prison to redeem him.

This is the story of the highest university officials who thought this unthinkable thing could never happen… and who drank deep from the chalice of chagrin and public humiliation when it did.

This is the story of peers who, when forced to confront this tale found that the perpetrator was cute and desirable… and therefore deserving of understanding, absolution, and a date.

This is the tale of Adam B. Wheeler. And I suspect you will find it as riveting as I did for, verily, it is a true tale of our times and, therefore, irresistible and completely appalling. Ole!

Adam B. Wheeler, a boy in a hurry

Adam B. Wheeler, by all accounts, was an average student, neither good nor bad, outstanding in no way, prosaic in all. However, such a boy could dream… and Adam B. Wheeler did so dream… of a place called Cambridge and a college called Harvard, where sport the irresistible jeunesse doree.
Adam dreamt… then despaired… for Harvard looked for the exceptional and Adam was merely average and hence beneath Harvard’s notice.

So this average boy took the first extraordinary decision of his life: he decided to risk all to escape from the usual, the hackneyed, the average, the dull, the prosaic. He decided, in short, to invent the vehicle that would give him escape; he decided to craft himself.

Years later, at Adam’s fraud trial, his lawyer Steven Sussman, Esq. said “There is no answer to why Adam did this. ” But Mr. Sussman, like so many adults involved in this case, was wrong. Sussman has forgotten what it is like to walk high school corridors and be nothing more than one of a mass, faceless, dull, average, forgettable. Adam knew that feeling… and, with growing insistence, was ready to do everything, anything to rise and get out of this situation… to take his place, however wrongly, amongst the best and brightest of his generation. The quickest way to do that, he concluded, was by mastering the potent and practical arts of the fraudulent presentation, prevarication, deception.

And so, Adam B. Wheeler commenced, by diligent study, an ascension of trickery where each step successfully encountered fueled the next. He submitted a plagiarized school essay and winning the prize discovered the ease of deceit, thereby engendering more and greater boldness.

Audacity, he discovered, could be created by successful deceptions, which also delivered a plethora of benefits — money, social recognition, the compliments of teachers and peers, the thrilling feeling that he was “somebody”… and, all important, further insights into how to rise higher still on his new skills and expanding confidence. Adam B. Wheeler was moving… so fast that goals once unimaginable were now within his grasp.

And so he grabbed.

Proud Bowdoin College with its picture-perfect campus gave Adam a place by deceit. But Adam wanted, had always wanted more. For such damnation as he was willing to risk, he demanded the very best.

So, then, fair Harvard’s turn. Adam, now almost through his apprenticeship of deft manipulation, doctored his College Board scores and forged letters of recommendation. These were panegyrics of such transcendence that in a more perfect world they would have moved Harvard to contact him rather than he condescending to contact them.

And so Harvard, confident its summit could not be so breached, became Adam’s trophy, too… and, with its welcome acceptance, gave him, he well knew, life’s ticket to privilege, deference, and open doors everywhere. It was thrilling, heady… dangerous because the very ease and extent of success caused hubris, the most dangerous thing of all.

Adam B. Wheeler became an Icarus with no Daedalus to counsel and advise. But even Icarus, with such a wise and seasoned advisor at hand, was so fueled by arrogance and the certainty that only the young possess, even well-advised Icarus flew too high, too soon, too close to the sun… and so, his wings melting, plunged into death.

What chance, then, had still-learning Adam B. Wheeler to know, so soon in life, the virtue of restraint? Icarus-like, he chose to fly too fast, too high, eschewing restraint because constant victories were so exciting and gratifying…and, he had proved, so easy.

However his fall, inevitable though he never knew it, was, in the classical tradition, sharp, painful, ironic. Continuing to want the best, he fabricated a fake straight A Harvard transcript and aimed to grab a Fulbright or even a Rhodes scholarship, much desired, achieved by only the elite, amongst whom he insisted to be.

However, grinning fate was at hand with Adam’s nemesis.

It was his parents, the good, decent, profoundly appalled creators of Adam B. Wheeler, his mom and dad. To save him, they laid him low, beginning his unravelling with a call to the chagrined Harvard officials whose certainty and carelessness had moved Adam so appreciably forward. They, powered by revenge and sanctimonious moralizing, happily pounced, determined to end his career and make sure This Could Never Happen Again. His Harvard status was rescinded… his trial ensued. His conviction inevitable, he plea-bargained, admitting culpability and accepting restitution for all funds and prizes falsely won. Prison was avoided but shame was not. It was the end of Adam B. Wheeler.

Or was it?

In the blog of the Crimson, Harvard’s student newspaper, another stream was unexpectedly running. Here the story took another turn, for many bloggers (not just women either) saw what “Daniel” saw: “He really is totally adorable. He probably gets away with half of his shenanigans because people look into those big blue eyes and see the floppy hair and think he’s adorable”. Ah, too fetching to be guilty, much less locked away.

It was, under these circumstances, no doubt wise of the judge in his sentencing order of December 16, 2010 to prevent Adam from enjoying any financial gains from his story from books, stage, and screen. It’s sad, though, for local boy-made-good Matt Damon, who would have done full justice to this tale of Cambridge, a place he knows so well. However, no doubt in due time, Adam B. Wheeler will find a way around this (temporary) obstacle. I hope so, for I long to see this film.

Musical note

I have selected for the music to this chapter, Scott Joplin’s pep machine, “Maple Leaf Rag” (1899). Pull your hat over your head, go get your best gal, come on down to the court house, where they’re playing the “Maple Leaf Rag” and waiting for Adam B. Wheeler to come in from the hoosegow, and flash them baby blues at you. Oh lordy!

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