Sunday, October 10, 2010

Someone's In the Kitchen With Schmitty

This column originally appeared on Sept 10, 2010.

It felt downright odd standing there alone in the tiny kitchen on North Hanover Street in Pottstown, hearing the faint sounds of the Phillies’ game coming from the television in the other room, but seeing as though Jamie was letting me stay in his apartment for free while I got settled in southeastern Pennsylvania in September 1980 I figured I had an obligation to go along with his request.

At the time, you see, Jamie was a extremely fanatical Phillies supporter and was desperate to have them get to the National League playoffs, even though the last couple times they had done so his heart had most assuredly been broken, so ordering me to stand in the kitchen did not strike him as anything particularly unreasonable or out of the ordinary. Time has gone by since and things have changed in Jamie’s life, so at this point he is simply an enormously fanatical Phillies supporter and, I suppose, is content to merely suggest to the people he lives with that they go stand in the kitchen at certain junctures of important Phillies games. He’s matured that way.

Because to be an extremely fanatical supporter of the Phillies in September 1980 meant that everything in the known universe circled around making sure they won the National League Eastern Division and from there the National League pennant and from there the World Series. And because everything in the known universe circled around making sure they won, when something positive happened to the team during an important game it became crucial to make certain that whatever circumstances existed at that time be replicated as exactly as possible in the future.

Which is why I found myself standing alone in Jamie’s small kitchen on the third floor of the old house on North Hanover Street, where I had been sleeping on a thin mattress for the past few weeks. I had moved to Pottstown from Cincinnati, Ohio, via Union County, Kentucky, hoping to find fortune if not fame. Growing up in Cincinnati, I was certainly accustomed to baseball success, having followed the Cincinnati Reds during their glory years of the 1970s. But following the Cincinnati Reds as they won two World Series and five National League pennants did not prepare me for having to stand in a kitchen in Pottstown while a baseball game I had no rooting interest in was being played.

In Cincinnati, baseball fandom then tended to be more of a civic obligation than a passionate, overwhelming personal avocation. You went to the Opening Day Parade downtown, checked the standings in the paper every day, and rooted for the Reds come October for the same reason you voted in the November election: you were supposed to, whether you got a lot of enjoyment out of it or not. I recall being at a local amusement park with high school friends on Oct. 14, 1972, when the Reds opened the World Series against the Oakland As. Someone had a transistor radio and, checking the score at some point, noted that the Reds were losing, “OK,” I said. “I’m going to ride the Lost River with Susie Goldberg.”

The Reds lost the game that day and, ultimately, the series, but hey, I got to talk with Susie Goldberg for an afternoon. I did my duty. I knew the game score, felt appropriately aggrieved, and went forth with life knowing that the Reds would still be there when I checked in next April.

Jamie, on the other hand, had newspaper clippings from the Black Friday game the Phillies lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Oct. 7, 1977, posted in his apartment three years after the game was over. Jamie would watch the Phillies play on television, then listen to the rebroadcast of the game on KYM-AM, even though he knew how it ended. Once, when an announcer made the wrong call on a play in the field, during a game, Jamie picked up the telephone and tried to dial the network offices in New York City so he could speak with the broadcaster’s supervisor and request, politely but forcefully, that the man be taken off the air.

So there I was, watching a late season game in September 1980 with Jamie, who I had been living with for only a few weeks, when I got hungry and went to the kitchen to make a sandwich. The Phillies were at bat -- Jamie had a difficult time accepting that I could leave the room – and while I was putting meat on bread Mike Schmidt hit a home run. I went back to the game, finished my sandwich, and the next time that Schmidt came to bat, Jamie looked me straight in the eye and said, “Go to the kitchen. Now."

Which is where I went and stayed until Schmidt struck out and I was no longer responsible for the fate of the Phillies. And that is as I remain today

Monday, September 27, 2010

Nothing But BLue Skies Do I See

This column originally appeared on Sept. 26, 2010.

History tells us that heroes were initially demi-gods – part man, part deity – and that they gradually transformed downward from that into human characters who, under fire, show special courage and resourcefulness, mostly on the battlefield (think Achilles, Sir Galahad, Audie Murphy, etc.) where they end up slaughtering their foes like so many spring lambs.

Now, we’re pretty much left with sports figures like Roy Halladay as heroes, and despite what some might have wanted to see happen to the teenager who ran on the field at Citizens Bank Park last week in a red body suit, I don’t think the Phils’ ace pitcher would necessarily involve himself in a ritual disemboweling of that fellow simply to prove his mantle.

But I thought about my own hero recently while mingling with the cars parked on Level Seven of the Chester County Justice Center Parking Garage and Smoking Lounge. Allow me to explain.

Harold Wallace Ross (1892-1951) was the originator and first editor of The New Yorker magazine, and an editor whose vision, wit, and outrageous temper I have admired over the years, to the point of apotheosis. If there is a book about Ross, I’ve read it, more than once, and have used the descriptions of him as inspiration, in my own small way. He once gave a colleague of his on The Stars and Stripes, the U.S. Army newspaper during World War I, a page of commas as a Christmas present, and that predilection towards punctuation, one might point out, is something for which I have more than a fleeting affection.

James Thurber, another of my literary heroes, said in his book, “The Years With Ross,” that the editor had ways of looking at people and things that would stick in one’s head forever. He looked at a portrait of a banker and said, “That’s not a banker. That’s a butler,” and so the man became. Ross, according to Thurber, once complained of a blue sky, “There was never a sky like that. It’s delft, or Alice, or some goddam shade,” even though Thurber allowed that only blues Ross probably could have known were light, sky, and Navy.

So I thought about Ross and delft and Alice as I stood looking out over the West Chester landscape one day this month as the blue sky surrounded me overhead. We have had a string of days of blue skies in September here in Chester County that strikes me as remarkable, and each day it seems to me the shade changes, but by bit. It’s the sun and the clouds and the time of day, I tell myself, but it’s also nature having fun with color.

Here are the shades of blue that are possible in our world, a few of them at least.

Steel blue. Tiffany blue. Indigo. Dark blue. Sky blue. Deep sky blue. Han. Iceberg. Federal. Midnight. Cornflower, Alice (yes, it is there). Teal. Carolina (no Nittany). Palatinate blue.

There’s Bleu de France. Bondi Blue. Tufts Blue. UCLA Blue. Air Force Blue. Iris. Powder, Prussian. Ultramarine. Yale Blue. Duke Blue (still no Nittany).

I am not certain whether all those blues have been seen when looking upwards, but I love imaging what a Cobalt Blue sky would look like. I think that the shade that exists out the window of my garret here on West Miner Street could be construed as Majorelle Blue, but given time and a change in the position of the sun you might also be able to describe it as Maya Blue in polite company.

I considered myself lucky to examine the shades of blue we’ve seen overhead from one of the best vantage points in the county, the parking garage, which I have noted in previous musings. Open only a few short years, it allows panoramas that were not seen in the hundreds of years that West Chester has been populated – letting one see the expanse of the county from an entirely unique point, and check off the blips on the horizon as the pop up like heartbeats on a cardiac monitor – there the Historic Courthouse clock tower, there the steeple of West Chester United Methodist, there the West Chester University water tower.

I know that the sky will change it’s shade of blue tomorrow, and into the winter, where we will be more apt to describe what is clearly Glaucous or Ceil blue as Dull gray. And simply to know that everything changes, including the color of the sky, is comforting in a way, because we no longer have to revere as heroes only the men whose swords are bloodiest.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Enter, Laughing

This column originally appeared on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010

I don’t know whether it was Lowell Ganz or Balaboo Mandel, or both together, who wrote the following, but it doesn’t matter. If either of them never writes another worthwhile paragraph again they will nonetheless have entered the world of American letters.

(I am paraphrasing here for propriety’s sake, but this is a dressing down that Manager Jimmy Dugan gives a poor-performing player on his Rockford Peaches squad in the film, “A League of Their Own.”)

“Are you crying? Are you crying? Are you crying? There's no crying! There’s no crying in baseball! Rogers Hornsby was my manager, and he called me a talking pile of pig slop. And that was when my parents drove all the way down from Michigan to see me play the game. And did I cry? No! And do you know why? Because there's no crying in baseball. THERE'S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL! No crying!”

There is, however, crying in the courtroom.

If you spend enough time visiting courtrooms when criminal cases are being heard, you will see a lot of crying people. There are crying defendants, crying victims, and crying parents and siblings of defendants and victims. They cry tears of grief, tears of fear, tears of rage, and tears designed simply to win a favorable outcome in their case. There is a reason that every courtroom in the Chester County Justice Center comes equipped with a tipstaff and a box of tissues. People will cry, and someone needs to hand them the Kleenex.

I once saw a woman, who was called to testify in a trial against the man who attacked her at her home on her birthday in her bedroom, walk into Courtroom 7 in the Historic Courthouse already in full sob. She cried taking the witness stand, cried taking the oath, cried during her direct testimony, cried during the cross-examination, and cried as she left the room. The only time I didn’t see her cry in the courtroom was when her attacker was sent to state prison for his crime. But she wasn’t smiling, either.

You never get used to the crying, because so much of it comes from the heart. But you come to expect it and accept it for what it is.

So yes, there is crying in the courtroom. What there is not a lot of, however, is laughter. I was reminded of that last week.

Generally speaking, being in court is not a laughing matter. People who stand before a judge with a criminal defense attorney on their right and a prosecutor on their left, more or less, aren’t having a picnic. You don’t normally come to court because you’ve completed high school with perfect attendance. Jocularity is pretty much never on the docket.

The absence of humor is even more profound if you are appearing at your probation violation hearing from, say, SCI Greensburg. Incarceration at a state prison is, on the whole, a fairly good indication that whatever you were supposed to be doing to show probation officials you were living up to your end of the bargain, something was missing in the total effort. So what happened on Wednesday as Judge William P. Mahon was wrapping up a video VOP hearing with a man whose name and crime escapes me but whose image will remain in my memory for days, was remarkable in its own way.

Mahon is the only judge who makes it a regular habit to come down off his bench and shake the hands of defendants who have lived up to their part of the bargain, so he’s more used to relating to those in front of him on a one-to-one basis than others. As such, he was being about as pleasant as he could be with the fellow in SCI Greensburg, even though he’d given the fellow a few extra months to consider the wages of sin and/or civility.

“Thanks judge,” the inmate said. “Thanks.” Not at all, the judge responded. Just remember to keep away from those knuckleheads in the cellblock with you. They’ll only get you in deeper. “I’ll try, judge,” the prisoner responded. “I just want to get back on the right track.” The hearing done, Mahon started to move on to the next case on his list. Until the microphone in the video link, still live, picked up something from SCI Greensburg.

“I think I just got railroaded,” the aforementioned inmate remarked to a fellow prisoner next to him. “Did you get a load of that?”

The courtroom, full of probation officers, attorneys, defendants, sheriff deputies, exploded with laughter. For once, they had heard a defendant speak honestly, not just truthfully. Mahon, his Irish eyes wrinkled in delight, kindly cautioned the inmate not to take it any farther, and the fellow’s defense attorney quickly turned off the connection. The chuckles lasted a few minutes afterwards, and then the next case was called.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Trespassers W

This column originally appeared on Sunday, Aug. 29, 2010

Ssssh! I have a confession to make and I want to be very certain that we keep it between just us, OK? I may have perpetrated a technical violation of 18 Pa. C.S. or, as they like to say in Common Pleas Court, committed a crime. Don’t tell anyone, though. I may be able to get away with it.

It has been ages since I knowing engaged in any criminal activity, so I may not have been quite as adept at this sort of enterprise as I once was. Back in my crime-spree days, which I would place in a pre-President Jimmy Carter era, I was quite skillful at a specific type of criminal activity. I would say I violated the laws of the state of Ohio about once or twice a week at the time and would have done so even more often except I wasn’t allowed out of the house past dark.

The crime I was rather accomplished at is now referred to in legal terms as “retail theft” but when I was a teenager it was known by the more commonplace term, “I don’t get enough allowance.” Basically, I stole cigarettes. From dairy stores. From smoke shops. From grocery stores. From places that were known in Cincinnati, my hometown, as “pony kegs.” More or less, if you were a businessperson who sold cigarettes, I tried to steal them from you.

It may sound as if I am proud of this criminal history, but I am not. I get a cold sweat when I recall standing for what seemed hours aimlessly by the cash register at the local dairy store until the clerk had gone to give another customer a double-dip ice cream cone, and then swiping a pack of Vantage cigarettes. Or Parliament. Or whatever silly brand I was smoking at the time. I take no honor in my past, and so the fact that I found myself on Saturday afternoon walking down that wicked, felonious path is all the more unexplainable.

Don’t be horrified. My crime in the grand scheme of things doesn’t measure up to the sort of perfidy you may have grown used to reading about in the newspaper these days. I haven’t swindled anyone out of their hard earned retirement savings, or threatened to embarrass someone who would pass for a local celebrity in Chester County. In all, I am more like the character in Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” monologue who finds himself having to explain to other hardened criminals – “mother rapers, father stabbers, FATHER rapers!” – who he finds himself grouped with that his crime amounted to “litterin’.”

What it comes down to is that I took a nice hike at The Laurels preserve out Unionville way Saturday, without being an actual member of the Brandywine Conservancy. Which, if you check the rules in the handy brochure available at the trailhead, is not allowed. That’s it in a nutshell. The prosecutors from the Chester County District Attorney’s Office who look askance at me when I ask them how the police were able to catch such and such a criminal, as if they think I’m compiling a list of “dos” and “don’ts” for my own personal ultimate criminal enterprise, might refer to such behavior as “defiant trespass.”

In my defense, however, I would point out two things. First, it was a perfect day for a woodlands stroll on Saturday and that’s what you get out at The Laurels. The path passes along Buck Run, or Doe Run, I confuse the two, as it meanders along through pastures and woods that used to belong to the great King Ranch. In the 19870s, the conservancy was able to save more than 700 acres of the property that now makes up The Laurels and keep it in a natural, scenic and pristine state. There are quite a few hiking paths along the stream, and a stunningly beautiful ancient covered bridge. You walk though oaks, poplars, beech and ash, and when venturing into the open pasture can see all manner of hawks circling overhead. It’s a delightful, relaxing experience.

I thought someone might call me on my presence when I arrived and made plans for various subterfuges that would get me past the gate, but no one bothered me in the least. As I left, a woodsy looking fellow asked whether I was a member and I replied, as honestly as I could, “Not yet.”

Second, my plan is to actually become a member of the conservancy before my next visit to The Laurels and hope that my criminal past is overlooked. As least as far as arboreal statutes on the books go. Just keep this between us for now, though.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Making The Grocery List

This column originally appeared on Sunday, Aug. 22, 2010

Every year since 1998, Beloit College in Wisconsin has been issuing what its faculty refers to as the “mindset list.” Compiled on this list are touchstones that the older faculty and staff should take into account when considering the place where the incoming class of freshman is coming from, culturally speaking.

You might have run up against some of these yourselves when thinking about the 18-year-olds you encounter. You know, that they have never used, or perhaps even seen, a rotary telephone. That the phrase “don’t touch that dial” when it comes to a television has no meaning for them. That they’ve always lived their life in the shadow of AIDS, and that Bruce Springsteen has always been older than their parents.

This year’s list includes reminders that few in the Class of 2014 have ever written in cursive, and if they send mail it’s not through the U.S. Postal Service. To them, John McEnroe had never played professional tennis, and Korean cars are as commonplace as a VW. They have never known a nation called Czechoslovakia, and Vietnam has always been a place that sends shoes to the U.S.

Two things.

First, I had my chance to be a proud member of the Beloit College Class of 1979, but passed on that option to attend Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., instead, and that decision led me to meet people who grew up in Chester County, who suggested I move here after a year in Kentucky and get a job on a local newspaper which led, ultimately, to me writing this weekly column. Feeling blessed, are you?

Second, what strikes me about the way the world has changed since the days before the 1990s is not what’s gone, but what has arrived. And by that, I mean the things you find on grocery store shelves.

The members of the Class of 2014 have never known a time when there was not salsa on the shelves at their neighborhood supermarket. And not just salsa, but mild, medium, or hot salsa. Or Roasted Chipotle salsa. Or Roasted Tomato salsa. Or Roasted Sweet Pepper salsa. Garlic and Line, Santa Fe, Black Bean and Corn, all salsas -- and those are just the store brands.

To the freshman, there has always been a choice to make between reduced fat and natural peanut butter, honey roast or hazelnut (with skim milk and cocoa). They can get prune butter, maple butter or pumpkin butter, and no one is going to look askance at them in the checkout lane.

No world has existed for them when there were not 11 different types of baked beans on the shelf, or three different types of Spaghetti Os, one “plus calcium.” They have always been given the option of Jasmati, Texmati, Basmati, Arborio or brown rice -- that is if they were sick of buying couscous. They have always had 14 flavors of Rice-a-Roni, and could not care less that it is the “San Francisco Treat.”

My mother took my sisters and I shopping every Friday at the Keller’s IGA store on Ludlow Avenue in the Clifton neighborhood of Cincinnati and we came home each week with pizza in a box from Chef Boy-Ar-Dee. The kit could make two pies, one round and one rectangular, and we loved each and every slice of it. You go to a grocery store now and go to the pasta aisle and here is what you will find: Four Cheese, Roasted Garlic, Diavolo, Puttanesca, Bolognese, Tomato and Basil, Spicy Tomato and Basil, Traditional Sweet Basil, Vodka and Pomodoro tomato sauce. Not to mention fusilli, rotelle, rigatoni, mini-rigatoni, penne, penne rigate, farfalle, tortiglioni, cappellini, linguine, and regular and thin spaghetti. And if the class of 2014 walked in a store and didn’t see those pasta items in regular and organic whole wheat, they would wonder how in the world the store could possibly stay in business.

Don’t get me started on the olive bar.

This is not meant to be one of those tiresome “when I was a kid” rants about how much better things were when I was growing up. I thought about what my mother in 1965 would think if she were transported to the new Wegman’s Grocery Store in Great Valley and plopped down with her grocery list. She would likely faint.

I am happy to walk into a store with so much selection, even if I still walk out with a can of plain baked beans and a jar of creamy peanut butter. It’s the kind of change you can believe in.

But maybe I’m wrong. After all, the closet Wegman’s to Beloit is in Erie, 541 miles away.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sarah and Eddie, Meet Carolyn

This column originally appeared on Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010.

I have a friend named Carolyn B. who lives in New Hampshire and who is, perhaps not coincidentally, the wife of my college roommate, senior year version. She is also the reason I have spent more time than necessary recently thinking about Butch Patrick.

Carolyn is a professional transcriber, which means that she can listen to two or more people talking and drum out their words on a keyboard as though she were orchestrating the conversation herself. I can type about 40 words a minute if I do not care too much that the words actually come out in the English language. Carolyn, by contrast, can type 4,000 words a minute, spelled correctly and with punctuation, all the while balancing her checkbook. She’s fast, she’s efficient, and she’s accurate. Which means that she has a lot of spare time on her hands during the day, time she uses to pursue her true calling in life, celebrity-watching.

The idea of celebrity has taken sort of a pounding in modern critical thinking these days because it has come to symbolize the diminishment of actual accomplishment. You have Lady Gaga on the one hand, and Greg Mortenson on the other, and who gets more press -- the one who wears pointed brassieres or the one who builds schools for girls in Afghanistan? Point?

But don’t run that one by Carolyn. She is as equally knowledgeable about both, and can discourse conversantly about not only the value of women’s education in a Taliban-controlled nation but also what the back story is behind the recent Lady Gaga-Katy Perry contretemps. (If you don’t know, you have to start reading the gossips mags in line at the Acme.)

Carolyn has a certain regard for me not only because I write for a daily newspaper and knew her husband before she did, but also because she knows that “Sex and the City” star Sarah Jessica Parker was my next-door neighbor in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the early and mid-1970s. That connection, however distant and tenuous, is for her the silver star atop my personal Christmas tree.

At the drop of a hat, Carolyn can recall in rich detail every brush with celebrity that she has had in her life, from the time she stalked Meryl Streep on the streets of London to the time that James Mason came to her parents’ house to inquire about trash recycling rules. She gets excited talking about celebrities that no one else knows about, like the actress that played the lead in the 1973 TV movie, “She Lives!” (Season Hubley) and the fact that a Downingtown singer songwriter (Jim Croce) not only wrote the movie’s theme song, “Time in a Bottle,” but also died eight days after the movie aired on ABC.

So I was not at all surprised when Carolyn breathlessly sent me the news this month that Butch Patrick had moved to West Chester. Patrick is better known, if he is known at all, as the actor who played Eddie Munster on the television show, “The Munsters,” which Carolyn presumably devoured as a young girl growing up in suburban New York.

You have likely read the news by now: a Chester County woman and former Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader connected with Patrick at a vampire convention in Pittsburgh some months ago, developed a relationship with him, and convinced him to move from his home in Los Angeles to the bright lights of West Goshen. Or East Bradford. Or Pocopson. Or whatever township comes with a West Chester address these days.

I was thankful to Carolyn for the news, because Patrick’s presence in my hometown now gives me another reason to explain why I live here when asked by semi-former acquaintances at college reunions (“I love the celebrities it attracts – Andrew Wyeth, Eddie Munster”). But I had no idea what Patrick looked like in his middle age and told Carolyn I regretted that I might pass him by in the aisle at the local Acme grocery store and not realize my own brush with fame.

Here is Carolyn’s solution: “I think you should just repeat ‘Butch’ next time you’re at the Acme and see if anyone turns around. If not, at least people will talk about you, and like Gaga, the fun only starts after one gets noticed.”


Monday, August 02, 2010

A Lasting Encounter With EZ

This column originally appeared on Aug. 1, 2010

The memory of Elinor Z. Taylor that has stuck with me for all the years I knew her, wrote stories about her, answered angry telephone calls from her, and tried to explain her to others is the night she followed me into the men's room of West Chester Borough Hall.

It was Aug. 30, 1985, a sweltering hot evening made even stickier by the crowd of residents inside the Borough Council chambers on the ground floor of the old Borough Hall, a building that has gone to dust. The chambers was packed with angry neighbors of the Sartomer Co., a chemical processing company on the eastern edge of the borough that had long contributed to a foul stench that greeted motorists as they came into town on West Chester Pike.

Earlier that week, a chemical leak at the plant had forced the evacuation of several blocks surrounding the plant. No one was seriously hurt, as I recall, but the company was taken to task vociferously by neighbors because they had not been warned about the emergency. The neighbors had gathered in front of the borough council a few nights later to demand that the plant be shut down, and that proper emergency procedures be put in place. One of the neighbors told the council, "I would rather run than find out later, 'You're going to die.'" It was that kind of night.

The council meeting was on a Wednesday. Attending the session, in addition to the neighbors, were a crop of politicians and political players, including, not surprisingly, Taylor, who had served as a West Chester councilwoman herself, lived in the borough, and took a keen interest in how she could possibly help those affected by the leak. I don't remember if she said anything in particular that night, but I noted her attendance. I'd been covering the borough for a little more than a year, and had interviewed her a few times. We'd met.

A regular feature that ran Fridays in the Daily Local News at the time was a compilation of little noticed Chester County goings-on, inside jokes, and gentle pokes at area personalities. Reporters could contribute items anonymously to "Ham 'n Wry," to tease their favorite, or least favorite, news personalities. That Friday, I wrote something about how some politicians would use any crisis or tragedy to promote themselves, get their names out, and I named Taylor as one such miscreant.

So picture this: at a follow up session that day, the crowd has reassembled, the company executives are promising to suspend things, Taylor is there to read a statement from the state about an investigation into the leak, and the newspaper has been on the streets for six hours, give or take, the jibe at Taylor still inky fresh. The council takes a minute to break for informal discussions with the company folks, and I walk down the hall to the men's room to, well, wash my hands, shall we say.

As I walked in the door, suddenly who stood behind me but the Honorable State Representative Elinor Zimmerman Taylor, hair white, glasses on, eyes furious. "How dare you write such tripe about my motives?" she demanded. "Who did I think I was? What did the Daily Local mean trying to slam her?" I think she may have offered to readjust the nose on my face at no additional charge, but I may be wrong.

"Elinor," I said, interrupting her. "You're in the men's room."

She blinked. "So I am," she said. Then, without warning, she smiled, winked at me, slapped me on the chest, and walked out the door, telling me she'd talk to me later.

The people that I spoke with the day after Taylor died told me invariably that they'd had similar encounters with her, when she would confront them angrily and start heating up, only to settle down after a bit and leave them agreeably. When I remarked to one man that Taylor was certainly not a shrinking violet, he laughed a shuddering kind of laugh, remembering perhaps picking up the phone and hearing Taylor's voice bark out his name.

The last time I saw her was after she had announced her decision to leave the House of Representatives and was readying for her retirement. She was in the Chester County Book and Music Co., buying up a stack of books to give as holiday presents for friends. I said hello, and wondered how she was. She looked up at me from her purse, remembered who I was, and smiled.