Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Coughlin Kleppel Marching Pennywhistle Band

Colin Jude Kleppel and his Grampa "Brrr" [that's me!] marching around the house on Thanksgiving Day playing "Shortnin' Bread" on the whistle.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dorothy Day Article on Ernest and Marion Bromley and the Cincinnati Peacemakers

I've been reading Patsy Harman's book "Arms Wide Open," and it made me think about some of the characters in the book that I knew who were involved in a historic victory for the peace movement. Dorothy Day wrote about it:

"Bromley Eviction Halted"
By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, September 1975, 3. 

As we go to press it gives me great joy to write of a victory on the peace front, a victory achieved by the valiant work of the younger members of the peace movement in the United States, which has long known the patient and long-suffering work of such bodies as the War Resisters and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, not to forget, to speak modestly, of the Catholic Worker. As of now, it looks as though our friends, the Bromleys, will not be evicted from the Gano Peacemaker house in Cincinnati, and that the sale of the house, which took place this last summer, will be annulled. Among others, credit can be given to Peggy Scherer, who, in addition to her manual labor here at the farm in Tivoli this past year, had continued her close collaboration with Chuck Matthei in Washington and other Peacemakers around the country. And Lee LeCuyer, who is a tireless worker at First Street, has also leafleted and picketed both in Cincinnati and New York. These are the ones who helped lead the movement which achieved this victory. Ernest and Marion Bromley's patient hard work--picketing, leafleting, resisting, speaking the truth--has not gone unnoticed.
It is a lesson for us all in the peace movement that gentle pressure, constant hard work, a faithful, straightforward--one might even say respectful--adherence to the Scriptural command to love our opponents and to exercise the virtue of hope even when all seems hopeless, offer a great example of the pure means to achieve our ends. Jacques Maritain impressed this use of pure means upon us as in the earliest days of the Catholic Worker. This victory also gives us all a sense of joyful gratitude, not only for the hard work of the young people, but even for those in government office who can respond, as they seem to have, to these persistent, though gentle pressures. Let us pray that this "little" victory will give courage to others around the country to take a stand, which involves a real commitment to the "voluntary poverty" we all talk so much about.

[This text is not copyrighted. However, if you use or cite this text please indicate the original publication source and this website (Dorothy Day Library on the Web at http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/). 

Suggested citation:
Day, Dorothy. "Bromley Eviction Halted". The Catholic Worker, September 1975, 3. The Catholic Worker Movement. http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/Reprint2.cfm?TextID=556]

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Patricia (Patsy) Harman's book "Arms Wide Open"

I am about 50 pages into Patsy Harman's book, Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's Journey. The book was published in 2011 by Beacon Press. It is a very very good book!

I met Patsy about 38 years ago, when she was a hippy and peace agitator. I can't say I ever knew her very well. But I did visit the communes in Batavia, Ohio, and Spencer, West Virginia where she lived. I knew her husband, Dr. Tom Harman (I can hardly believe Tom's a physician!), and many of her friends: Kenny Przybylski, Wendy Rawlins Tuck, Tim Jenkins, Chuck Matthei, and so many more. I even lived in the ragged Batavia farmhouse after this group left for their West Virginia adventure (Rick Anderson was my house mate)..

To me the book reads like a "roman a clef," names of the characters changed to protect the innocent and guilty. The only actual names I think Patsy is using are her own name and her husband Tom's name.

So far the book has drama and tension--necessary ingredients to keep us reading. And I find the sentences well-crafted, almost at times like poetry. I keep wondering how Patsy learned to write so beautifully in a life that has been so full (and at times so hard).

Patsy has one other memoir out, The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir (Beacon Press, 2009), and a novel, The Midwife of Hope River (William Morrow, 2012). I am going to read all of these books. I am so excited to see her talent blossom out like this.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Happy Birthday, 'Gert Ann!

Eulogy for My Mother, Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick Coughlin. December 11, 2003. St. Mary’s Church, Painesville, Ohio.

We would like to thank all our family members, our  friends, our relatives for their kind wishes and prayers for my Mom over these past few days. Thanks especially to Aunt Kay and Uncle Bill Coughlin, to all the Coughlin cousins, to the Brock cousins, and all the Fitzpatrick cousins, who are as numerous as the stars in the sky. Thanks to our Euclid friends, our Chardon friends, our Mentor friends, our Valley City friends, our friends from work. Thanks to my brother Denny, his wife Sherri, and children Marlo, Sean, Kit, and Cory, who flew in from California. And to Marie and Michelle Zaremba, and Mike and Amy Zaremba, all who came up from  southern Ohio. Thanks especially to Mary Ellen, who spent the last night of Mom’s life by her side in the hospital. And to Kevin and his boys, Ryan, Tommy, and Cody, who brought Mom into their house the last year of her life.

Those of you who saw my Mom’s obituary in Tuesday’s News-Herald probably had yourself a good chuckle. They listed my Mom as 70 years old, yet born on November 10, 1923. So much for the “New Math”! By that reckoning I’m 45 years old again. My Mom lied about her age as long as I can remember, but I have to hand it to the News-Herald!

In the last 8 years or so, many things have been taken from my Mom, many things lost. In 1996 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 1997, my Dad died. That same year Mom was diagnosed with macular degeneration, which led to virtual blindness. A year later she was diagnosed with colon cancer. These tribulations would have devastated a lesser person, but my Mom accepted her life with an amazing grace. She maintained her wonderful spirit, her positive attitude, her joyfulness, her mischievousness and sense of fun right up to the end. Of all her virtues, I admired most her unfailing sense of gratitude. A couple years ago I wrote this poem about her:

“My Mother’s Grace”

 -for Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick Coughlin

My Mother never holds
onto evil, suffering, hate,

In her mind’s eye
is always centered


joy and fun:

                It is the most amazing
                charism I have ever seen.

The day my Mother dies
she will have in front of her
not pain, regret, or fear,

                But the last wonderful thing.

                *              *              *

And that last wonderful thing was, of course, gratitude. Gratitude for her life, her family, and her faith.

Mom with brothers Fenton (Skip) and Don (circa 1940)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

89th Anniversary of Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick Coughlin's Birth Approaching

This Saturday, November 10th, will mark the 89th anniversary of my Mother's birth. Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick was born November 10th, 1923 in Cleveland to John F. and Margaret Ann (nee Sullivan) Fitzpatrick. She was the youngest of 6 children (after Al, Julia (Dudie), Fenton (Skip), and twins Dick and Don.

She was a wonderful person. Fun, funny, full of life, full of spirit. Here's a photo of her with niece Susie Brock from around 1957.

Looks like they drank a lot of beer back in 1957!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What I Am Thankful For

I am happy about Barack Obama's reelection for many specific reasons. Here are a few of them:
  • his election means that The Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") will continue forward. Though far from perfect, the Act deals with insurance caps (Obama mentioned that in his victory speech last night and when he was at Mentor High School last Saturday), pre-existing conditions, allowing adult children to be on their parents' medical policies up to age 26, and so many other crucial aspects of health care. I think that in the future it will help control the increase in prices of health insurance (others vigorously dispute that--we'll see). Certain aspects of this Act need to be changed, the sooner the better.
  • public television and radio are safer; these are national treasures, and it would be a blow to our democracy to have them defunded. My grandson Colin will still have Big Bird, as well as Elmo and Baby Bop.
  • public lands are safer. National Parks, Forests, Monuments, etc. These national treasures are safe for a while.
  • the poor and needy will continue to receive some help. This is a huge concern of mine; my wife and I serve meals to the homeless every week in Painesville, Ohio (Project Hope and St. Mary's). Helping the poor is one of the basic tenets of my Christian Catholicism (as well as a basic element of my Irish heritage!).
I know there are some negative sides to Obama's reelection. I feel deeply for my Right to Life friends and their passionate opposition to Obama--I understand them, I think.

But I have weighed the pros and cons of Obama's reelection, and I think the pros win out by far. We ask God to bless our leaders, keep them from harm, help them to do what is right and good. And God Bless our country.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Springsteen's Song "We Take Care of Our Own"


Album version

I been knocking on the door that holds the throne
I been looking for the map that leads me home
I been stumbling on good hearts turned to stone
The road of good intentions has gone dry as a bone
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag's flown
We take care of our own

From Chicago to New Orleans, from the muscle to the bone

From the shotgun shack to the Superdome
There ain't no help, the cavalry stayed home
There ain't no one hearing the bugle blowin'
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag's flown
We take care of our own

Where're the eyes, the eyes with the will to see

Where're the hearts that run over with mercy
Where's the love that has not forsaken me
Where's the work that set my hands, my soul free
Where's the spirit that'll reign, reign over me
Where's the promise from sea to the shining sea
Where's the promise from sea to the shining sea
Wherever this flag is flown
Wherever this flag is flown
Wherever this flag is flown

We take care of our own

We take care of our own
Wherever this flag's flown
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag's flown
We take care of our own.

Bruce Springsteen is a guy with a big big heart. This song expresses so passionately what I wish for my family and my country.

Montana Conservation Corps and Disaster Relief for Hurricane Sandy

I just saw this news release from the Montana Conservation Corps. Carolan is one of these relief workers (she's now in the borough of Queens, stationed at a relief shelter at York College (Jamaica neighborhood of Queens):

November 2, 2012
For immediate release
Contact: Jono McKinney, MCC President and CEO
Office - 406-587-4475

Montana Conservation Corps Deploys for Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

Bozeman – Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) announced today that nearly 40 of its AmeriCorps national service members are set to deploy as part of the response effort to Hurricane Sandy. MCC will deploy members on a 30 day disaster response effort in coordination with the Corporation for National and Community (CNCS) Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Utilizing the existing National Service infrastructure allows a rapid mobilization of volunteers into areas of critical need. State and federal agencies, partnering with local disaster managers, are able to leverage national service member expertise to clear fallen trees and other debris, move sand, distribute food, coordinate volunteers, and support other general relief efforts as they arise.

MCC crews gathered Friday for deployment orders and will arrive in affected areas this Saturday with tools and resources to begin work immediately. Accompanying the crews is Mario Colucci, MCC Regional Program Coordinator for Missoula. He is expected to assist local personnel in coordinating the extensive relief efforts.

“This is an all hands on deck scenario and AmeriCorps members are uniquely suited to provide immediate assistance. They have a level of efficiency and skills that make them a great resource to bring stability and aid to the beleaguered people affected by Hurricane Sandy,” stated Colucci.
Earlier this year, MCC applied for and was granted designation as a CNCS Disaster Response Corps.  Disaster Response Corps are pre-approved for CNCS’s disaster response deployment list, enabling a rapid response of boots on the ground.

About Montana Conservation Corps

MCC is a nonprofit organization that inspires self-discovery in young people through hands-on conservation service while empowering them with the skills, values, and confidence to be leaders, stewards of the land, and engaged citizens who strengthen their communities. MCC AmeriCorps members complete diverse conservation and community projects including trails, weed management, stream restoration, tree planting, home energy retrofitting, and building improvements for local organizations. For more information, visit http://www.mtcorps.org or call 1-866-JOIN MCC.

About the Corporation for National and Community Service

CNCS, a federal agency, provides strong support, expertise, and trained and dedicated volunteers to help communities to prepare for, mitigate, respond, and recover from natural and man-made disasters. From forest fires and floods, to hurricanes and tornadoes, to terror attacks and oil spills, participants in CNCS programs have provided critical support to millions of Americans affected by disasters since 1994.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Obama at Mentor High School

Here is part of President Obama's longer speech at today's rally: And here is Kevin Potter's introduction of President Obama and his comments on how "Obamacare" has saved his daughter Erin's life:

Carolan to work at a shelter in Staten Island

Carolan and her colleagues from the Montana Conservation Corps will arrive in New York City tonight and then go on to a shelter in Staten Island where they will work for at least the next month. Staten Island has sustained terrible damage from Hurricane Sandy and we hope Carolan's crew can help out.

President Obama's Short Speech at Mentor High School

Here is a youtube version of the short speech that President Obama gave in the overflow room at Mentor High School today. Linda and I were standing on the right side of the stage (the video was taken from the left side). After the short speech, President Obama shook hands with everyone he could reach; then he went into the main gym for the longer speech. Over 4000 people were at today's rally. It was tremendously exciting.

Obama in Mentor, Ohio--November 3rd, 2012

This morning we waited a couple of hours in rain, sleet, and nasty cold to enter the Obama rally at Mentor High School. When we arrived at the high school around 8:30 AM we were discouraged to find a line about a half mile long, wrapping all around the high school. But spirits were high, people in a fun mood, and after a couple of hours we went through the metal detectors and entered the school. As we got to the high school gym, the entry was closed off--the gym was full. They asked us to go down the hall to an overflow area and promised us a "special guest." Around 11:45 the special guest, President Barack Obama, arrived, came to our overflow area, and made a brief off-the-cuff speech. And then, before the featured speech in the gymnasium, President Obama shook hands with dozens of people in our area. At one point he was 5 feet away from Linda and me. He looked right at us, apparently noticing my Guinness cap and snow-white beard, and acknowledged us.

I felt like the little boy who stood with my Mom and Dad, brothers and sister along St.Clair Avenue near Euclid Beach in the summer of 1960 and saw John F. Kennedy drive by on his way to the Democratic Party steer roast at Euclid Beach Park.

My eyes welled up with tears and I felt so lucky to be at Mentor High School on this chilly November 3rd, 2012, to see President Barack Obama. I'm sure the little children who stood in front of me and shook the president's hand will never forget this moment in time.

Here are a few photos form this rally. These were taken this morning, at very close range.

President Obama greets people at Mentor High School, in the overflow area.

President Obama was happy and relaxed at Mentor High School.

Angie Weaver and John, outside in the cold before the rally.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Montana Crew to New York for Rescue Work

We heard from my daughter that an excellent crew from the Montana Conservation Corps (Carolan included) will fly to New York tomorrow to assist in the recovery  of the city from Hurricane Sandy. About 11 young people, including 2 crew leaders, will go to New York. These are all outstanding workers (they can outwork me and you in a heartbeat--they're used to long days of hard, physical work). The first indication is that they will work in emergency shelters in New York City, but I'm betting the mission could change as needs change.

I'm so proud of all the young women and men that serve our country in various ways. Some serve in the military; others in AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps. And here's a group of forest and wilderness workers who will fly from the Glacier National Park/Bob Marshall Wilderness areas to densely urban New York City. I'm betting they will do just fine in their new environment and will help both the people of Greater New York City as well as themselves. Hurray for them!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pray and Work for the Victims of Hurricane Sandy

Of course we will pray for the victims of Hurricane Sandy--the people of New York City, Staten Island, the New Jersey coast--and other areas ignored by the media or not heard from. But let's also do something, and quickly! There are thousands of people still suffering.

We call on local, state, and federal authorities to do everything possible to help. Let's use all our resources. Call in the army, navy, and marines if necessary. Let's help them--and without delay. Let us spend some of the vast wealth of our country to ease suffering and save lives. Let's help rebuild the city and the neighborhoods destroyed by this terrible storm.