Monday, December 25, 2017

MEXICO | Christmas in Navidad, Mexico

We are staying on the Bahía de Manzanillo.
Yesterday we went up to the Barra de Navidad.
Manzanillo, Mexico, Christmas (Navidad), 2017 – Alice and I celebrated yesterday by driving through the culebra (snake) of a Colima coastline that ends in Barra de Navidad (Christmas Sandbar), in Jalisco.

We played tennis and had lunch at the Grand Isla Navidad. The tennis-court base is a mat covered with loose clay. It works well in the Mexican climate.

Tennis on a mat with loose clay at Grand Isla
Navidad. Photo of us by Juan, the tennis pro.
Christmas in Mexico is a three-week festival. Before Christmas are Los Posadas – the days of The Inns, commemorating the traveling of Mary and Joseph from Bethlehem to Jerusalem for the Census. 

It must have a been a busy time for the innkeepers of Jerusalem, and doubtless they were charging a Census Premium to make sure that the well-off had ample options. It's no wonder Joseph had trouble finding a room in his price range.

(Los Posadas are in addition to the better-known 12 Days after Christmas, ending on January 6, the Epiphany, when the visit of the Wise Men, the Magi, is celebrated.)

In remembrance of the Holy Family, children in these parts go around to different homes. Each is a posada for the evening. The kids are given candles and a board with a painted-clay figure of Mary on a donkey and Joseph walking alongside.

They walk around the streets with this board and call at the houses of neighbors, singing a song about Joseph and Mary asking for a room in the house.

At each house, the children get the message that there is no room, and they must go away. Only at the end of the evening do they eventually reach the posada where they are welcomed. At this home they say prayers of thanks for the birth of the Savior and then they celebrate with food, games and fireworks.

A favorite game is with the piñata, a decorated clay or papier-mâché donkey (or bird) filled with sweets and hung from a tree or ceiling. Sometimes it is in the shape of a ball with spikes representing the seven deadly sins. Children are blind-folded and take turns hitting the piñata with a stick until it splits and the candy spills out. The climax of celebrations is on Christmas Eve, when a manger and sheep and  shepherds are added to the board. When the welcoming posada is reached, a baby Jesus is put into the manger and then families go to Midnight Mass, the Misa de Gallo – Mass of the Rooster.

It's called that maybe to signify that only the roosters are awake by the time they get home.

Or maybe because all four evangelists reported that (1) Jesus predicted that his apostle (St) Peter would deny knowing him before the cock crowed and (2) Peter did exactly that. After the Mass, more fireworks celebrate the start of Christmas.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

BIRTHDAY | John F. Karl

John Karl gets ready to blow out the
candle on his cake.
Yesterday I attended the birthday party of a great lawyer and good friend, John F. Karl.

The crowd of well-wishers, many of them from the extended Karl family, assembled in Washington, D.C.

There were several of us from the New York City area and some from as far away as California.

He succeeds.
The birthday cake featured John as a young man destined for success. 

His handsome portrait also appeared on a tee shirt that he spread out proudly over his tuxedo and red bow tie.
John as a handsome youth.

Mrs. Karl, the effervescent  Tyna Coles, cut the cake with energy and dispatch. Everyone had enough, and more, of tasty food and quality beverages.

Tyna cuts the cake.
I met some interesting new people. We talked about the Civil War and related battlefields, the Spy Museum in Washington and George Washington's under- appreciated role as spymaster of the American Revolution, the return of subprime housing paper to the marketplace, the worrisome growth of the value of cryptocurrency and other signs of a bubble, the problems facing Federal Reserve supervisors and policymakers, the Borgia family in Italy and the Mexican Riviera.

The tasty desserts included éclairs. I got to discussing the origin of the word éclair as the name of a pastry.

The 70th birthday tee shirt.
An éclair pastry is of course a hot-dog-roll-sized pastry filled with custard or whipped cream and usually covered on the top with chocolate or coffee icing. 

But why is it named after the French word for a flash of lightning?

The consensus of people with whom I spoke at the party supported my derivation:
"An éclair is French for a 'lightning flash'. A hot-dog-roll size pastry filled with custard or cream is called an éclair because, if left on a table, a lightning flash is its expected half-life."
Alice and I were grateful for being invited to this heart-warming event in honor of a man who has done more effective advocacy for individual workers than anyone else we know.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

LORD OF THE RINGS | Listen Again to Sam's Speech to Frodo

Sam (L) and Frodo in a Difficult Time
A message for us from J.R.R. Tolkien


It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really matter: full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes, you didn’t want to know the end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was, with so much bad happening? 

But in the end, it is only a passing thing. The shadows – even darkness – must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine all the clearer. 

Those are the stories that stayed with you — that meant something – even if you were too small to understand why. 

But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folks in those stories had lots of chances of turning back. Only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding onto something.


What are we holding onto, Sam?


That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for!

To toast to J.R.R. Tolkien during the holiday season, or especially on his birthday, January 3, the Tolkien Society advises that you be upstanding and hold your glass in your right hand (if you are right-handed) and say two words: "The Professor". An alcoholic beverage is not required; if your beverage is alcoholic, do not drink to excess or in contravention of any law.

Sam's Speech is from the end of The Two Towers, Part Two of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. A clip is here: Sam's Speech re-posted with thanks from a post by Andy Schmookler.

Who was Tolkien, the man?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

HERALDRY | Goethe's Arms

Goethe's Arms in Players Club
Window. Photo by JT Marlin.
At the Players Club in New York City yesterday, I noted a stained-glass window with a coat of arms and the label "Goethe". 

Nearby windows were labeled with other authors such as Molière, so the window clearly honors the great German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832).

Goethe was a Saxon, ennobled by by the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Karl August, in 1782. 

The blazon for Goethe's coat of arms in the authoritative Armorial by the Dutch heraldist and genealogis Jean-Baptiste Rietstap is:
Azure a mullet six points Argent a bordure of the same crowned Helmet. Crest: the mullet. (Barons, 28 August 1859, Extinct house on 17 April 1885.) 
Goethe's Arms (Wikipedia
Rietstap's drawing of Goethe's arms shows the six-pointed mullet. Wikipedia provides a full achievement for the arms, with a six-pointed mullet.

So where does the five-pointed mullet come from? 

Most mullets in German heraldry are six-pointed or eight-pointed. The five-pointed star is more common in France and England.

Did the artist in doing the window for Goethe have a preference for the five-pointed mullet? 

Goethe wrote a poem in 1789 pitying the stars because they could not love:
Nachtgedanken Euch bedaur' ich, unglücksel'ge Sterne, Die ihr schön seid und so herrlich scheinet, Dem bedrängten Schiffer gerne leuchtet, Unbelohnt von Göttern und von Menschen: Denn ihr liebt nicht, kanntet nie die Liebe! Unaufhaltsam führen ew'ge Stunden Eure Reihen durch den weiten Himmel. Welche Reise habt ihr schon vollendet, Seit ich, weilend in dem Arm der Liebsten, Euer und der Mitternacht vergessen. 

In English:
Stars, you are unfortunate, I pity you, Beautiful as you are, shining in your glory, Who guide seafaring men through stress and peril And have no recompense from gods or mortals, Love you do not, nor do you know what love is. Hours that are aeons urgently conducting Your figures in a dance through the vast heaven, What journey have you ended in this moment, Since lingering in the arms of my beloved I lost all memory of you and midnight.

Friday, November 17, 2017

ENGLISH MONARCHY | Nov. 17, Elizabeth Becomes Queen after Mary, 1558

November 17, 2017 – This day in 1558, Queen Elizabeth I became England's monarch. Her late father, Henry VIII, had broken with the Catholic Church to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and marry Anne Boleyn.

He wanted a male heir. Elizabeth when born was a disappointment. He declared Elizabeth illegitimate and had Anne Boleyn beheaded.

England almost broke out in civil war after the death of Henry VIII.  First Edward VI ruled from the age of nine. The adults who ruled in his name tried to impose Protestantism on the country, including a common prayer book. He died in 1553 at 15 of tuberculosis.

Edward VI specified in his will that he wanted Lady Jane Grey to succeed him as Queen, probably because she was a staunch Protestant. However, Mary had so much popular support that the directive was overturned within two weeks (she is called the "nine-day queen" but in fact her reign was a few days longer).

Instead of Jane, Elizabeth’s half-sister, Mary Tudor, came to power, for a reign nearly as short  as Edward VI. Although she was called "Bloody" Mary, she was not as reckless as her father when it came to making use of the executioner in the Tower of London. Mary tried to restore England to allegiance to the Pope, and she met with resistance. She died five years after becoming queen, leaving behind continued divisions in the country.

Because Elizabeth was a potential heir to the king, her life was in danger from birth. Mary had her in prison for a while. When Elizabeth took the throne, she was 25. She restored England to Protestantism, yes, but she had the good sense not to hunt down Catholics. She required attendance at the Church of England on Sunday, and the same prayer book, but people could believe what they wished.

Easing restrictions on theaters, she opened the way for Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, and William Shakespeare. It was a time of peace. With the invention of the Gutenberg press, people could afford books. Elizabeth helped the English to have pride in their history and language. Her 45-year reign was one of the great English eras. She said to her subjects late in life:
Though God hath raised me high, yet this I count the glory of my crown: that I have reigned with your loves. And though you have had, and may have, many mightier and wiser princes sitting in this seat; yet you never had, nor shall have any that will love you better.
She also said:
I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too. 
England was less divided at the end of her reign. She was the last of the Tudors. How much the country owed to her would become crystal clear after her death, as internal strife intensified under James I, Charles I and the Parliamentary rule of Oliver Cromwell. This was a time when many English people left for the American colonies to escape the religious wars in the Mother Country.

SHORT FATWA | Male Hygiene

Wudu, purification by water. A
ritual in many religions.
As someone raised with religious ritual in Catholic schools and monasteries, I am endlessly curious about religious practices.  

When Kim Jong-un reacted negatively to an insult by President Trump, I wondered whether his hex should be considered a short fatwa in the Islamic religion.

On Google, the words "Short Fatwa" take you to an Islamic Forum. A short fatwa is a brief piece of guidance online, a teaching tweet, helpful but not a substitute for a longer fatwa from an Imam. A perennial issue in the Islamic Forum is cleanliness, or what based on the ancient Greeks would be called hygiene, after Hygieia (Ὑγιεία), the goddess of health and cleanliness, and daughter [sometimes wife] of Asklepios or the Romanized Asclepius, the god of medicine. (Her symbol was a large tamed snake, sometimes with a basin of water. The symbol of Asclepius is a single snake spiraling a rod; a rod with two snakes is the caduceus, symbol for the god Hermes or the Roman Mercury.)

One religious young man wrote an inquiry to the Islamic Forum that caught my eye. It addressed post-urination dribble. Does a single stray drop make one unclean and therefore unready for prayer? This is a strict standard, showing the young man's great devotion. Here is the Forum writer's short-fatwa response:
"I remember someone once asking our Imam in the Masjid [mosque] about it. This is not a fatwa [ruling on Islamic law from an authority], just some practical advice. The Imam said that if you always have this problem, which according to him is quite common these days, then what you can do is, after you have finished urinating:
  • Stay seated for a few moments. 
  • Then cough a few times which should help get rid of last few drops. 
  • Then he said to take some tissue roll and place it in your boxer shorts and walk about doing your normal stuff. While you walk about and are doing your own stuff any last drops will be rid of. 
  • Then go back and perform wudu [purification] after washing the private parts. This is a safe way in making sure that none of the drops, if any, would fall on your clothes, and [thereby] keeping your tahara [ritual purification].
"There was an Imam who actually used to spend like up to half an hour when he would go to relieve himself and the only reason was to be careful of this issue. It was his taqwa [fear of God, spirituality, faithfulness to the law] that caused him to be absolutely certain that he was in a pure state. So he would wait around after relieving himself in the masjid bathroom and then do wudu quite a while later."

Thursday, November 9, 2017

CONNECTICUT | How Theocratic Brits Created Two Colonies and a State

Rev. John Davenport, First Minister
of New Haven, 1638-1668. Portrait by
Amos Doolittle, c. 1797, Connecticut
Historical Society.
John Winthrop and the story of the creation of the Massachusetts Bay Colony is better known than the stories of Hartford and New Haven, and the State that grew out of these towns is less well understood.

Thomas Hooker was a great preacher, an erudite writer on Christian subjects, the first minister of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and one of the founders of both the city of Hartford and the state of Connecticut. He is also the inspiration for the "Fundamental Orders" of Connecticut, the world's first written democratic constitution.

Most likely he was born in Leicestershire, the county east of Warwickshire. The Hooker branch in Devon produced the great theologian, Rev. Richard Hooker who, with Sir Walter Raleigh, was one of the two most influential people to come from Exeter, Devon's the county town.

As a speaker, Hooker attracted crowds as well as spies from the Church of England. The Puritans wanted to "purify" the church, but the Anglican Church was a step ahead, purifying itself of heretics including Puritans, to protect the unpopular Charles I.

Hooker was ordered to appear before the High Commission, the Star Chamber. It was originally established to ensure fair enforcement of laws, but  became a vehicle for political oppression through its arbitrary use of power. Hooker decided to flee to Holland. From there, he and some parishioners made their way to Gov. Winthrop’s Massachusetts Bay Colony.

They settled in Newtown, later called Cambridge. But they came to oppose the undemocratic ways of Winthrop’s theocracy and moved in May 1636, the year Harvard was founded, en masse to the Connecticut River Valley. Two years after they moved, Hooker delivered a sermon on how Hartford should govern itself. He said:
The foundation of authority is laid, firstly, in the free consent of the people. … [The] choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God's own allowance. … [T]hey who have the power to appoint officers and magistrates [should] also … set the bounds and limitations of the power and the place unto which they call them. 
A historian (Ellsworth Grant) calls this statement “the first practical assertion ... of the right of the governed not only to choose their rulers but to limit their powers.” The Fundamental Orders of the colony of Connecticut, consisting of the towns of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor, were based on Hooker’s sermon. They are the world's first written constitution. It is why Connecticut is known as the Constitution State. (

John Davenport also left Winthrop not long after Hooker did. He was from the north end of Warwickshire, east of Birmingham, in the city of Coventry. Davenport is remembered as the man after whom Davenport College at Yale is named. He was born to a wealthy family, son and grandson of two generations of civic leaders in Coventry. He was educated at Oxford, matriculating at Merton College in 1613, switching to Magdalen College in 1615 and leaving Oxford before completing his degree. (He returned in 1625 when Charles I came to the throne to earn his B.D. and M.A. degrees.) 

In 1624 he was made vicar of the parish of St Stephen’s Church in London. At St. Stephen’s, his boyhood friend from Coventry, Theophilus Eaton, became a member of his parish. Eaton was the son of a minister with a B.D. degree from Oxford (Lincoln College). Davenport’s efforts to support rural clergy and relieve reformed clergy displaced by war were frustrated by Bishop William Laud, an alumnus of St John’s College, Oxford and a junkyard dog of a heretic-hunter. When Charles I appointed Laud to be Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633, Davenport resigned in disgust from the Church of England and moved to Holland. 

Davenport and Eaton left England on a ship to join the Massachusetts Bay Colony and fellow Puritans in Boston. Davenport brought with him much of the St Stephen’s parish on the Hector in 1637. William Woodin, ancestor of the first Treasury Secretary under FDR, might well have been on this ship even though he was only 12, since the Puritans tended to bring their families. There is no record of an older Woodin having come on the Boston voyage or on the later trip to New Haven, but young Woodin might have been put in the care of a friendly family. 

When they reached Boston, Davenport and Eaton were disappointed. Winthrop demanded his own version of Puritan orthodoxy. The last straw was the church trial in 1638  in the midst of the Antinomian disputes, i.e., the debate over whether people were saved by good works or by grace. Davenport was ordinarily on the side of battling heresy, but when he attended the trial of a fellow dissenter, he did not like conduct of the trial.

Anne Marbury Hutchinson (1591-1643) argued for a Covenant of Grace. The trial ended with her excommunication from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and she fled to Providence, where Roger Williams (1603-1683) had created the first Baptist Church and preached the ideas that Anne Hutchinson promoted. Williams was the first to argue for separation of church and state. Hutchinson moved to Portsmouth, R.I. and years later she and her children were killed by Indians.

Davenport and Eaton decided to leave Boston but not to join Hooker. Eaton, who had become a wealthy merchant in London, became New Haven’s first governor.

Davenport sought a "new haven", since he wanted a more orthodox theocracy than Hooker was offering. Eaton and his fellow merchants had a practical interest in being in a harbor like Boston. Men who returned from hunting the Pequots told them of a spot at Quinnipiack on the Long Island Sound shoreline. That was perfect. Here they chose to put into practice a theocracy even more rigid than in Massachusetts. They arranged their civil and church affairs in accordance with details in the Bible. 

In the spring of 1638, the town of New Haven was founded. More people came in subsequent years and some groups fanned out to form Milford, Guilford and Stamford towns. These four towns were united into the republic of New Haven and they added Southold, on Long Island, and Branford. As a confederation of six independent towns, New Haven resembled Connecticut. 

From their origins during the colonial era, a sense of rivalry existed between the settlement at Hartford, formed in 1636 by followers of the Rev. Thomas Hooker and the settlement of New Haven, formed in 1638 by the followers of Puritan minister, Rev. John Davenport and his merchant-organizer friend, Theophilus Eaton.

So William Woodin put his head down and settled into being a New Haven resident. He would have felt the rivalry strongly. His name appears in the New Haven Congregational Church records in 1642. He married Sarah Clark in 1650 when he was 25 and she was 21. The church records show that he lived a quiet life with just a few embarrassing incidents caused by excessive alcohol consumption. 

But the Mother Country’s long arm was felt in New Haven. When Cromwell died, the opposition easily defeated his government. The monarchists swooped in and restored Charles II. Leaders in Boston and Hartford quickly recognized the new regime, but New Haven acted more slowly and in fact harbored two judges who had signed the death warrant for Charles I. While Charles II extended a general pardon to Cromwell’s leaders, he excepted the regicides.

Charles II punished New Haven for giving two of his father's killers, the regicides, a home. He granted a new charter to the Colony of Connecticut in 1662, ending the independence of New Haven and joining it to  Connecticut as of 1665. He was correct that the New Haven colony was more willing to oppose him, but was wrong about which of the two governing philosophies would be more dangerous for continued rule by the Mother Country. 

Hooker's colony was more radically democratic than Winthrop, while Davenport was more conservative about holding the power in the hands of fewer people. In the New Haven colony only church-members could vote, disfranchising half the settlers in New Haven town and Guilford, and one-fifth in Milford. Each of the six New Haven towns was also governed by seven church officers known as "11 pillars of the church" who served as judges. They ended the English system of trial by jury, because there was no authority for it in the laws of Moses. (Based on John Fisk, 1896 

Davenport was still venerated by his congregation in New Haven. Near the end of his life he was offered a position at the First Church in Boston, the most prestigious Puritan church in the colonies. Davenport accepted it, and thereby agitated his own New Haven parish. In the brouhaha that followed, Davenport died in 1670. He is remembered as a visionary who developed a plan for new college, 30 years before it was established and was given the name Yale. The University has recognized Davenport's role by naming a college after him.

In 1701 the Connecticut legislature made New Haven and Hartford co-capitals, with meetings every May in Hartford, and every October in New Haven. But maintaining capitol buildings in both places was expensive. Officials proposed eliminating one of the capitols and put it to a referendum. New Haven was larger, but Hartford was more central and offered land and $500,000 toward construction. In the fall of 1873, Hartford won the referendum, becoming Connecticut’s sole capital city, effective 1875. (Source: Patrick J. Mahoney, "A Tale of Two Capitals",

Monday, November 6, 2017

LAND | Why Crematoria Are Like Pickleball

Plan of a Crematorium in England
I have posted something before about pickleball. It's a version of tennis that can be played on a court that is smaller. In fact four pickleball courts can just fit onto one tennis court (in practice, a few feet are allowed allowed between pickleball courts).

So a community that has space for four tennis courts that would accommodate 16 players when all courts are in use could put four pickleball courts in the space for a fourth tennis court and serve 28 players – 12 playing tennis and 16 playing pickleball.

The land economics of this make pickleball compelling. It has been called the fastest-growing sport in the United States.

Markers in a Flower Bed
Well, the trend toward crematoria  is another version of the same phenomenon. The photo at top is of a crematorium in England that has all the main facilities associated with modern graveyards – a place for religious services, trees, places to sit, memorials, and lots of parking for visitors.

What impressed me most was how economical the use of land was. Instead of grave sites that approximate the size of a coffin, the family arranges for a small metal marker that is a fraction of the size of a tombstone. See photo.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

AMERICAN REVOLUTION | Oct. 19 – Washington Defeats Cornwallis

Redcoats Surrender to George Washington.
October 19, 2017 – At 2 a.m. on this day in 1781, 8,000 British troops and Hessian mercenaries under Charles (Lord) Cornwallis started filtering out of their Yorktown base to surrender to George Washington.

He had scored, with French allies, a decisive victory over the British, who two days before surrendered and sued for peace. Besides giving up troops and seamen, Cornwallis abandoned 144 cannons and nearly 50 naval vessels. 

It had not been going so well before that. Washington’s troops were wearing rags and food was short. Desertions were frequent. During the summer, only a few thousand troops were left at their camp at West Point, New York. 

The British had a large force in New York City under General Henry Clinton, well entrenched and prepared for an attack. But Washington learned that the British forces under the control of Lord Cornwallis were building a naval base at Yorktown in Virginia. He decided on a faking an attack on New York City, then marching his army past toward Virginia, to trap Cornwallis and his army at Yorktown. 

Washington’s 2,500 troops crossed the Hudson River on August 21, united with a French army of 4,000 men under Count de Rochambeau, and headed south to join up with the Marquis de Lafayette in Virginia, who was leading an American army of about 5,000 men. The combined force of 11,500 would attack Cornwallis. 

Washington's army and their French allies covered 200 miles in 15 days, marching every day from 2 a.m. until the troops were too exhausted by the heat to continue. They reached the head of Chesapeake Bay in early September. Few armies in history had ever moved with this speed so far.

Cornwallis got word of Washington's approach, but foolishly decided  that his troops could hold out till the British Navy arrived. To his dismay, he discovered that the large French fleet under Count de Grasse routed the British fleet under Admiral Thomas Graves at the Battle of Virginia Capes on September 5, denying Cornwallis his rescue and exit.

Meanwhile, de Grasse sailed many of Washington and Rochambeau’s men down the Chesapeake to Virginia. They joined Lafayette on September 28 and cut off Cornwallis. De Grasse landed another 3,000 French troops on his ships. During the first two weeks of October, the 14,000 French and American troops overcame the fortified British positions with the aid of de Grasse’s warships... a British fleet carrying 7,000 men was on its way but was too slow in getting there to be of any help.

In the early weeks of October, Washington's troops began their siege, bombarding Corwallis with gun and cannon fire. He sent word of his surrender. Washington required the British to march out of the city, giving up their arms. But Cornwallis didn't show up for the surrender ceremony, pleading illness. He gave his sword to his second-in-command, to be offered to the French general, letting everyone know that Cornwallis considered himself beaten not by the American rebels but by the French. There was truth to that, surely, since half the troops and all the naval force was French. 

Whatever the mix of credit for Washington's victory, England took the defeat of Cornwallis with despair and lost the taste for teaching the colonials a lesson. The government decided not to invest in another army and appealed to Washington for peace. The eight-year Revolutionary War was officially over two years later, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

BIRTH | Oct. 18 – A. J. Liebling (Personal Comment)

A. J. Liebling. He died at 59, the
same year I met him briefly.
October 18, 2017 – This day was born in 1904 in New York City A(bbot) J(oseph) Liebling. As a boy, he loved reading the newspapers:
[M]any of my early impressions of the world, correct and the opposite, came to me through newspapers. Homicide, adultery, no-hit pitching, and Balkanism... 
So he became a newspaper reporter and loved it. He would:
pound up tenement stairs and burst in on families disarranged by sudden misfortune. ... I learned almost immediately what every reporter knows, that most people are eager to talk about their troubles.
To get a job at the New York World, he hired a man to pace back and forth for three days outside the Pulitzer building with a sign: "Hire Joe Liebling." Although nobody at the World ever admitted to seeing the sign, he was hired. 

From The World in 1935 he moved up to a job with the The New Yorker that lasted till he died nearly 30 years later. He wrote about World War II, boxing and food. You might not figure out the first two topics, but you might guess the third by looking at his photo.


I met A. J. Liebling in the spring of 1963 when we were both at the Bircher-Benner Clinic on Keltenstrasse 9 in Zürich. Dr Bircher had an international clientèle, including my mother's Dutch relatives who claimed he cured several of them (including my grandmother) of cancer. His son Ralph Bircher carried on some of his work, and Dr Bircher's Estonian-born niece, Dr Dagmar Liechti-von Brasch, took over the Clinic in the 1940s after the death of Dr Bircher, who raised her as one of his own during and after World War I when the von Brasch family was at risk in Estonia. My mother made sure I was checked out several times at the Bircher-Benner-Privatklinik and I was given many earnest individual and group lectures on the value of exercise and minimally processed food. Modern medicine is catching up with Dr Bircher's régime. When I was there in 1963, I was told that a fellow American from New York I had met, Mr. Liebling, had left early because he didn't like the unprocessed food. Liebling was a gourmet and it showed (see photo above). It's too bad that he didn't learn to appreciate the gourmet qualities of Bircher Muesli. He died before the end of the year I met him, at a young 59 years of age.😕 

As Dr Bircher's son and daughter-in-law aged, the Bircher-Benner-Privatklinik lost some of its energy and it closed in 1994, becoming a government health facility. But as new research confirmed many of Dr Bircher's claims, and as the taste for Bircher Muesli spread throughout the world, the demand grew for the Clinic's return. It reopened in another location (Braunwald) in 2011.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

WED | Eckholm & Fensterer

Bob and Victoria in a magical sea of lights.
Photos by JT Marlin.
October 8, 2017 – Alice and I yesterday went to the wedding party of Bob Eckholm and Victoria Fensterer.

It was at their home on the bay near Maidstone Park in East Hampton Town, off one of those roads with names from towns in the south of England. 
Victoria and Bob cut the
ceremonial cake.

They live in a lovely house overlooking a bay and Long Island Sound, near Folkstone [sic], named after Folkestone on the English Channel.

Bob Eckholm many years ago met Victoria through David Tyson. 
L to R: David Tyson and a cousin.
Photos by JT Marlin.

David's mother had a regular square dance at her home on Tyson Lane off Further Lane (we went to a few of these dances in the 1980s). The one-time family business was Kentile, a product still in use that is a tile bonded with a cork base. One of the guests from the family told me about the feast-and-famine cycles of the company.

I got to know David well during the decade when Alice and I sailed regularly on small boats. David was the Fleet Captain for an impressive array of 26 Sunfish that would race on weekends. He also sailed a 32-foot racing boat that won races regularly in light winds. Since then, heavier boats have become more popular.
The bride's brother, who officiated, looks on
with benevolence. At right is the bride and
Alice Tepper Marlin.

Bob visited and went with David to a party for David's grandmSpother and grandfather.

There he met Victoria and it was love at first sight.

This was a full event. Lots a good food, attentively served by the Springs General Store; a bottomless bar with a super-responsive bartender who was a friend of the couple; lots of toasts, and many, many stories.
Victoria gets a hug from a

It was good to see so many long-time and new friends, and to meet new ones.

I first met Janet Fensterer, the bride's sister, when she was an organist at the Springs Community Presbyterian Church and I was in the choir. 

Alice knew Bob Eckholm through an event where she was on the program with Bill Moyers. Bob was working with on a United Nations project and was interested in her work.
Bob's sister and spouse.

Besides members of the Eckholm, Fensterer and Tyson families, we talked with Joe McDonald, Scott Chwasky and Nina Gilman.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

IRELAND 1955 | Todd Andrews

Todd Andrews (L) and Louis Rhatigan,
in Russia.
I just discovered a couple of books by Christopher Stephen "Todd" Andrews – Dublin Made Me (Lilliput Press, 2001) and A Man of No Property.

Todd got his name because he had a likeness to a comic strip character in The Magnet, Alonzo Todd.

Todd was born in Summerhill, Dublin in 1901. He attended St. Enda's School and Synge Street CBS.

He studied Commerce at University College Dublin with a break in which he participated in the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. Afterwards he returned to the university and earned a degree in Commerce.

My discovery of his books has prompted me to post here a letter he wrote to my mother, Hilda van Stockum Marlin, in 1955. I have been sorting through these letters since she died in 2006.

Todd was head of Bord na Móna, which was established in 1946 as a quasi-governmental corporation in order to exploit the fuel potential of turf. In subsequent years it has expanded to include other alternative-energy-related initiatives.

My father was then working for the International Civil Aviation Organization as the Director of Technical Assistance. Of the 1,700 employees of ICAO, 1,500 were technical assistance workers under his direction. He was at that time developing air traffic control guidelines, assisting with airport design, and staffing pilot training centers all over the world – in places like Afghanistan, Beirut and... Shannon.

The training center he set up in Beirut under U.N./ICAO auspices was regional.

It was a substantial structure, called "Spike Marlin's building," later used as barracks for the U.S. marines, who were tragically the victims of a terrorist attack.

Meanwhile, my mother was a bit impatient in the late 1940s at the amount of travel that my Dad did while she froze in the Canadian winters (ICAO was based in Montreal), although she made the best of its by writing two books about the family in Canada.

She figured out that a U.N. family with a peripatetic father could live better than we were living in Montreal, and we could live anywhere in the world.

After our Granny (Olga Boissevain van Stockum) died in 1949, Hilda  prevailed in a family move to Dublin, a return to the city where Hilda and Spike met.

We six children were installed first in Blackrock and then for two more years in Dalkey at the top of Harbour Road in a house called "Beulah" (referencing the Biblical Beulah Land, the subject of a lovely hymn with the chorus  "I'm counting all the hours...").

The house is now chopped up into several smaller pieces, but even so "Beulah" is currently priced at about $8 million.

Randal and I went to Blackrock College. Olga was at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Brigid went to art school and the other two sisters went nearby in Blackrock  to Sion Hill.

The two-page letter from Todd Andrews is embedded in this post. It expresses great admiration for Olga's ability to speak French, and disappointment in the progress of Ireland relative to Sweden. Like many Irish people after WW2, Todd was eager for Ireland to prosper from the economic benefits of peace. The Emerald Tiger didn't emerge until the tech boom, and that didn't end well...

(The "John" mentioned in the letter is presumably John Dowling, the dentist. He and his wife Joan were close friends of Hilda and it was John who introduced Todd to Spike and Hilda.)

Friday, September 1, 2017

WW2 | Sept. 1 – Hitler Invades Poland

September 1, 2017 – This day in 1939 Adolf Hitler invaded Poland. He had been aggressive before without provoking a response from the rest of Europe.

Hitler began his plan with a nonaggression pact with Poland in January 1934.

This pact was contravened five and a half years later – Hitler had just been buying time.  The pact was unpopular with his supporters, who resented the Versailles Treaty's giving former German provinces to Poland. Hitler, however, saw the nonaggression pact as a way to prevent a French-Polish military alliance against Germany before the Wehrmacht had rearmed.

In the second half of the 1930s, France and Britain pursued a policy of appeasement toward Germany. Public opinion (especially in Britain) was sympathetic to revising some territorial provisions of the Versailles treaty, and neither Britain nor France in 1938 was militarily prepared to fight the Nazis.  So Britain and France acquiesced to:
  • German rearmament (1935-1937). 
  • Remilitarization of the Rhineland (1936).
  • Annexation of Austria (the Anschluss, March 1938). 
  • Invasion of the Sudetenland and breakup of the Czechoslovak state (March 1939) in violation of Anglo-French guarantees of the integrity of rump Czechoslovakia in what is called the Munich agreement.
The invasion of Czechoslovakia was the last straw. France and Germany responded by guaranteeing the integrity of the Polish state. Hitler's shocking answer to that was   a nonaggression pact with Premier Josef Stalin in August 1939, partitioning Poland between the two powers, giving Germany the western third and enabling Hitler to attack Poland without fear of its defense by the Soviet Union.

One week after the surprise pact with Stalin, at 5:11 a.m., Hitler issued an order for the Wehrmacht to invade Poland, claiming that the Poles were preparing to invade Germany. In fact, the Wehrmacht was massing on the German side of Poland's western border and the Poles were simply moving their army to defend this border.

Britain and France declared war within two days, but it was too late. The German army launched its Blitzkrieg, its "lightning war."  From East Prussia and Germany in the north and Silesia and Slovakia in the south, more than 2,000 German tanks,covered by  more than 1,000 planes, broke through Polish defenses along the border. Within six days they took Krakow and within ten they were outside Warsaw. By early October, Poland had fallen. World War II was on.

Monday, August 28, 2017

VOTES FOR WOMEN | Aug. 28 – Police Arrest Picketing Suffragists

Lucy Burns in Lorton.
August 28, 2017 – On this day in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson is personally confronted, by woman suffragists picketing in front of the White House, with signs opposing American participation in the European war. 

The women had been picketing six days a week, sunup to sundown, since they met with him in January 2017 to present memorials of the death of Inez Milholland Boissevain. 

Back in January, he told them they were politically naive. They responded by vowing to picket the White House six days a week to demand his support of the Anthony Amendment to guarantee women the right to vote. It worked.

Wilson gave lukewarm support to woman suffrage during both political campaigns. During the 1912 presidential campaign against Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson and his opponent agreed on many reform measures such as child-labor laws and pro-union legislation. They differed, however, on woman suffrage. Roosevelt was in favor of recognizing the right of women to vote at the national level and Wilson was not. 

In his reelection campaign, his position was to leave the issue to the states.  He just ignored the daily picketing and peaceful suffrage demonstrators at the White House. As a former teacher at Bryn Mawr, and the father of two daughters who supported suffrage, he was under pressure to support the cause.

However, that changed on August 28, 1917. According to the Library of Congress in its "American Memory" archives, Wilson rode out of the White House gates that morning with his wife (his first wife died and he remarried in 1914) at his side, and tipped his hat toward the protestors as usual.

The suffragists then held high anti-World War I slogans on their placards in addition to pleas for Votes for Women. Later that day, the protestors clashed with outraged bystanders supporting the war. 

Many of the women were arrested and brought to the Lorton Workhouse for Women. The jailed suffragists included the two leaders of the National Women's Party, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, and Vida Milholland, sister of Inez Milholland Boissevain. All three were trained by the Pankhurst suffragettes. Dorothy Day, currently up for sainthood in the Catholic Church, was also there.

The suffragists went on a hunger strike and were force-fed by their captors. Wilson, worried by publicity about the force-feeding, agreed to a suffrage amendment in January 1918. 

Congress soon enough after that passed the 19th Amendment and in 1920 Tennessee voted for the Amendment, bringing the number of ratifying states to two-thirds and enacting the Amendment.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

WELLESLEY | A 1966 Reunion Eclipsed

Watching the Moon Eclipse the Sun. The photo shows three
Wellesley alums and their spouses, plus some other guests.
August 27, 2017 – Three years ago, seven members of the  Wellesley Class of 1966 came to East Hampton in anticipation of its 50th Reunion last year.

They visited the LongHouse Reserve.

This year four alums got together in August: Karen Ahearn Boeschenstein, Joan Hass, Alice Tepper Marlin, and Ann Liggett (Cinnamon) Rinzler. Two were part of the 2014 reunion, and two were not (Karen and Cinnamon).
L to R: Karen Boeschenstein, Curry Rinzler, Cinnamon
Rinzler, Alice Tepper Marlin, Warren Boeschenstein,
and John Tepper Marlin.

After watching the eclipse this year, the reunion group sang songs with guitar accompaniment and had dinner. 

They also went again to the LongHouse Reserve.

HERO DOG | Hachikō Wins Contest

Hachikō Dances Around on One Leg.
August 26, 2017 – The 4th Annual Springs Agricultural Fair took place today at Ashawagh Hall.

At noon the "Dog Tricks" event was featured.

A Springs dog, Hachikō, was entered. He is named after an Akita, Hachi-kõ (ハ-チ公, 1923-1935), born on a farm in Japan. Hachi is the Japanese word for the lucky number eight.

The life story of the original Hachikō was the subject of a movie, transposed to Woonsocket, Rhode Island, starring Richard Gere.

Eight (hachi in Japanese) is a lucky number in Asia, having the same Chinese character as fortune or good luck.  Seven in Asia is unlucky.  

This Hachikō (a Pomeranian-Schnauzer mix) was lucky and won second place.

He was trained by Alice Tepper Marlin with the assistance of her husband John and their daughter Caroline, who has trained her own dog Rondo.
Dog Tricks Contest Winners, First (R)
and Second Prizes. Alice Tepper Marlin
is holding Hachikō.

Hachikō won second prize out of a field of about ten dogs put forward as doing tricks at the Fair. 

Hachikō danced a few circles, sometimes on one leg (see photo above).

The first place winner is in the second photo, but we don't yet know the name of the dog or its owner. (To which the owner could reply, paraphrasing the late Mayor Ed Koch, "if I had known being in second place was so important, I would have gone for that.")

The takeaway from the contest for next year is:
  • It is smart to have a routine. Start by having the dog sit, then roll over, the easy tricks. Then get to the harder ones.
  • Most dogs refused to do their tricks in front of a crowd, which was funny but reduced the competition. Best to practice with people looking on.
  • The winner's trainer had an excuse for why the winning dog didn't do the trick the first time. The second time it went as planned. It's good to have a trainer who can cover for lapses!
  • A good time was had by all, including the dogs, who got treats, win or lose.
The full name of Hachikō in Japanese is Chūken - Hachi - kō (忠犬-ハ-チ公), or Loyal Dog - Eight - Little.  The first two characters, reading left to right, are kan-ji (Chinese ideographs) and the other characters are using the Japanese alphabet for phonetic spelling.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

HUGUENOTS | August 24 – St Bartholomew's Day Massacre

St Bartholomew's Day Massacre in Paris
This day in 1572, Catholic King Charles IX of France, encouraged  by his mother, Catherine de Medici, ordered the killing of Huguenot leaders in Paris, setting off an orgy of killing.

Tens of thousands of Huguenots (a Protestant minority in France, followers of John Calvin) were massacred, first in Paris and then all across France. The slaughter is called in French the "Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy".

Two days earlier, Catherine had ordered the murder of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, a Huguenot leader who was advising a war with Spain. However, Coligny was only wounded, and Charles promised outrage Huguenots that he would investigate the attempted assassination.  But Catherine then convinced her son that the Huguenots were on the brink of rebellion. He went along with the plan to murder their leaders, most of whom were visiting Paris to celebrate the wedding on August 18 day of the king's sister Margaret to the Protestant Henry III of Navarre (who would become   Henry IV of France).

On August 23, 1572, the eve of the feast of Bartholomew the Apostle, a list of those to be killed was drawn up. First on the list was Coligny, who was brutally beaten and thrown out of his bedroom window just before dawn on August 24.

However, once the killing started, mobs of Catholic Parisians began a general massacre of Huguenots.

Charles on August 25 ordered a halt to this killing, but the slaughters continued into October, reaching the provinces of Rouen, Lyon, Bourges, Bourdeaux, and Orleans. An estimated 3,000 French Protestants were killed in Paris, and 5,000-70,000 (estimates vary) in all of France.

The massacre marked a turning point in the French Wars of Religion. The Huguenot political movement was crippled by the loss of many of its prominent leaders, but those who remained became implacably anti-Catholic.