Washington, DC – From a Different Point of View

19 05 2014

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From a high point on the western banks of the Potomac River, there is a view of Washington, D.C. that includes The United States Capitol, The White House, and many historic landmarks. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers, in precise formation share that view, as they symbolically stand eternal watch over the leadership of the country they sacrificed their lives to preserve. Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for soldiers who fought in every American war dating back to the Revolution.

Every American is obligated to spend a quiet moment walking a portion of the 624 acres.  Listen in the serene quiet to songbirds celebrating the beauty of the landscape as the hollow, somber sound of a horse-drawn, flag-draped caisson making its way on a cobblestone road announces in muted tones that another soldier is joining his comrades in arms.

Our debt to these brave men must be paid in patriotic celebration of the values upon which our country was founded and which they upheld with their supreme sacrifice.  Let us all make this Memorial Day special.  Ask our congressmen and senators to cast their eyes upon the rolling sea of white gravestones; to consider in that moment their obligation to the silent sentinels who watch over every step they take, every word they speak.  Ask our president to honor those brave soldiers through words and deeds that recognize their role in the history of our country.





The things we do…

31 03 2014

The morning of March 31, 2009 was little different from every Tuesday morning, although there was slightly more tension in the air.  The staff meeting seemed to drag on even more slowly than usual.  There were a few less fires to put out.  After checking the clock one thousand plus times, it finally proclaimed the noon hour in bright, bold, throbbing red numerals that somehow knew the significance of that moment.

The first tone of my cell phone signaled the beginning of a new and unique adventure.  While fumbling to dig the phone from a pocket too filled with useless detritus, anxious strides propelled me down the corridor to the front door.  My wife’s voice on the phone confirmed what I could, by then, see.  She was behind the wheel of her Solstice with the engine running.  Our parking lot departure could have impressed professional bank robbers as her anticipation for what was about to occur rivalled mine.

The short drive to Carl’s Pontiac – Buick – GMC in Stuart, Florida required “the patience of Job” as every one of the six traffic lights somehow managed to create confusion and backups for the entire population of snowbirds that infiltrate our community each winter.  Once we arrived at the dealership, my wife left to complete her busy schedule, and the transaction that ended with me accepting delivery of a brand new Pontiac G8 GXP was efficiently completed.  If only the dealership staff was also in charge of Stuart automobile traffic flow!  The whirlwind process ended with the exchange of a $40,000 financial commitment (spread over 60 months at 0% interest!!) for the 1,388th vehicle off the G8 GXP assembly line at the Holden Australia manufacturing facility.

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2009 Pontiac G8 GXP – Panther Black Metallic

When my eyes opened, I was sitting in the Onyx/Red Interior of my Panther Black Metallic, sunroof-equipped car.  My right hand rested comfortably on the shifter for the 6-speed manual transmission.  Of the 1,829 built, mine was 1 (actually #58 off the assembly line) of 70 with that configuration.  The dream of owning a full-sized sedan with a manual transmission had been with me since 1965, and suddenly it was fulfilled!  Bill Hayden, the general manager of the dealership, at that moment told me, “Walter, you’re never going to sell this car!” On the 5th anniversary of that momentous occasion, I might agree.

The experience has not been a love affair.  More like a marriage, the past 5 years have been filled with ups and downs, like my first speeding ticket (85 in a 50).  I was heartsick when I burned through brand new rear tires during a 10 day vacation in Lake Lure, NC, that included a spirited drive through Deal’s Gap – The Tail of the Dragon (truly a high).  Trips to attend my son’s wedding in the Mushroom Capital of the World, Kennett Square, PA, and 16 months later to attend the baptism, in Herndon, VA, of my granddaughter, proved the G8 GXP’s prowess as a people mover.  78,000 miles later, the car is still a head turner.  Its rarity raises a lot of comments and questions.  I particularly appreciate its understated elegance.  Like Arnold Schwarzenegger in a tuxedo, reserves of power lurk below the surface.  Most importantly, every time I slip behind the wheel, ignite the engine, and shift into 1st gear with that authoritative “snick,” I am transported to another time – another place.  My dream has come true.

 





12 04 2013

buoy





Thank you Alice…

9 05 2012

When was the last time you attended a church service?  Was your first observation upon entering the sanctuary that there was a preponderance of old people filling the pews?  Did it seem as though the church was a sea of white/blue hair with an occasional island oasis of brown, blonde or red?  A self-centered, cynical youth might get the impression that church is a haven for old people.  They are beyond fishing, camping, family excursions, and the myriad activities that fill youthful lives.  Old people have the time to attend church services.  Perhaps old people have a keener appreciation of their own mortality.  Attending church becomes a way to find the path to the pearly gates.  After a lifetime of activities that have led people astray, they suddenly find a need to get right with God before Judgment Day.

There is a woman who has made a career of helping people in their hour of need.  She meets one-on-one with representatives of every socio-economic stratum, of every race, and of every level of anxiety.  She does it five days per week, eight hours per day.  Each encounter varies in length from 20 minutes to an hour.  There are those she can aid and those who are beyond help.  The nature of her employment establishes strict parameters.  She cannot deny assistance to an irascible, unkempt, impolite, disrespectful miscreant.  Neither can she take that one delicate, sympathetic, kind, courteous, motivated person under her wing; offering moral support, comfort and sustenance.  There is always someone waiting, another person in need.  Her career is measured by efficiency.  How many people did she see today?  How many was she able to help?  What was the level of help?  Did the contact satisfy established standards?  Next!

First impressions provide an image of an attractive woman who takes pride in her appearance.  Her crisp, brightly colored dress reflects a genuine desire to brighten someone’s day.  Standing at the entrance to her cubicle with a warm smile and gentle, welcoming gesture, her appearance evokes a sense of appreciation for the circumstances surrounding the visit.  A quick scan of her neatly organized office reveals that this lady is not only pleasant, she is also skilled at her profession.  Three certificates indicate completion of three levels of training.  Next to the photo of her husband is a photo of her “chosen family” – her coworkers.  Above all that, a photocopy of a simple black and white document is tacked to the most obvious place on the wall in this otherwise austere place of work.

The meeting flows smoothly.  All the bases are covered in a style that proceeds uninterrupted from beginning to end.  She has followed this established routine a thousand times, yet there are no signs of boredom.  The tedious nature of her work is hidden behind a very real enthusiasm.  Excited by even the smallest partial solution to the issues plaguing her “client,” her attitude instills a sense of hope.  The encounter comes to a close.

A person’s path through life is marked by the footprints left in the sands of time.  The greater the impact of their work, the deeper and more permanent are the footprints left behind.  Alice, as she is known to the people she helps, is leaving footprints that will last a lifetime.

There is another reason for the age imbalance found among those who actively worship.  Experience.  By the time a person earns the privilege of wearing the mantle of white hair, he has experienced joy and sorrow, pain and suffering, anger, pride, frustration, deceit, satisfaction, and love.  Like steel, his soul has been tempered with the heat of overwhelming emotions.  A spiritual awakening occurs as he comes to appreciate the magnificent gift he has received through the hands of others.  Thoughtfulness, generosity, understanding, affection, kindness, support…  These unselfish gifts are our source of strength.  Only a deep and abiding faith can generate those random, unplanned acts of love for our fellow man.





Who is Walter Franklin? Why is Cato’s Beach important to him?

17 02 2012

When asked, “How did you come to live in Jupiter,” some will respond, “I was born here.”  Others will say, “I came with Pratt and stayed.”

Fly fishing on the flats

Honestly, I was looking for an open, breezy house with a southeastern exposure and large overhangs that would allow windows to be left open during rain showers.  Found in the very back of Eagle’s Nest, that house was where we raised three children, entertained friends and family, and where my business office was located.  When my business closed, my children moved away, and the marriage ended, I chose to remain in the community that I had grown to love.

That deep appreciation for Jupiter came from helping business owners of Jupiter grow and prosper through active participation in the Jupiter Tequesta Juno Beach Chamber of Commerce, Jupiter Inlet Sertoma Club, Toast of the Coast Toastmasters, and my church.  My efforts included chairing the Chamber’s largest event:  Artfest by the Sea (We raised nearly $100,000 that year!), earning the “Volunteer of the Year” designation, and serving on the board of directors; receiving the Community Achievement Award from Sertoma for, “Recognition of Outstanding Accomplishments in Community Service;” and designation as the “Toastmaster of the Year” in recognition of “Dedicated and Distinguished Service.”

Along the way I have met, volunteered , laughed,  drank beer, cried, mourned, and prayed with hundreds upon hundreds of current and former Jupiter residents.  I’ve sold countless Christmas trees, strung tens of thousands of Christmas lights around Carlin Park (three times!), made and eaten more chili than one could imagine, and weighed fish.  I have helped put up and take down booths at Artfests, Pig Gigs, Holiday Lights, Chili Cook-Offs, Sea Festivals, and Independence Day celebrations, along with other people who have helped me to learn the history of this once sleepy community.

My life has been far from perfect, but like most of the genuine Jupiter residents, I haven’t hidden from my mistakes and shortcomings.  I am what I am.  My guiding philosophy has always been, “Friends are my chosen family.”  They give me strength.  They help me up when I fall.  They accept me and stand by me through thick and thin.

It has often been said that a church is not a structure, some glorious edifice with spires, flying buttresses, and statuary.  A church is a group of people who have joined together to worship and celebrate their common faith and beliefs.

I submit to you that my vision of a community; be it a village, a town, or a city; is a group of people who have joined together out of appreciation for and celebration of a geographic area.

Jupiter Inlet - Unlike any other

The battle being waged against the JILONA Working Group over the plans for Cato’s Beach is my attempt to preserve the very soul of our community.  The beaches in the Jupiter Inlet where so many people played in the water over the years:  Sawfish Bay, DuBois Park, the Coast Guard Barracks beach, etc. have all disappeared or are now “off limits.”  That is a tragedy that I’m trying to stop before Cato’s Beach is reduced to nothing but a memory. When industrial grade sheet pile retaining walls  finally stretch along every inch of shoreline, we will be just one step closer to completely destroying the inherent beauty that is the cornerstone of Jupiter.  Without a sense of community, we will be just a bunch of people living in the same place, no different than Lighthouse Point, Pompano, or Kendall.





60 Years Ago Today (Sunday – 12/16/1951 – 3:09PM)

16 12 2011

Recollection of an event that occurred more than 20 years in the past was an important milestone. It was a measure of maturity – adulthood.   That significance has diminished over time.

Precisely 60 years ago, my mother, sister, and I left my father at the railroad station in Elizabeth, NJ.  Mom was driving our 1950 Studebaker convertible on West Grand Street, as we went to my grandmother’s home.  In the last frame of the newsreel, you can see the bridge we crossed at that fateful moment.  We watched the entire event from our unwanted vantage point.

Newsreel:  AIR DISASTER:  Second Worst in US History Takes 56 Lives