Daily Archives: October 1, 2007

The Fall Days Of The Fallen And Their Survivors

I just published a post about two joyous days of Fall that my wife and I enjoyed this past weekend: Fall Days, Golden Fall Days.

I spent only a few minutes writing it. It was easy to do so since so many wonderful things happened that the post lept off my fingers, not needing any embellishment.

I hope you lived at least one, two, or more joyous Fall days recently, days even more joyous than the ones I have described.

We always need as much joy as we can get in this world, you and I. We all do.

But not all are so fortunate in getting that joy, hard as they may try.

Some are no longer with us, as is the case of SSgt. Kyu Hyuk Chay. His last Fall day came late in October a year ago, when he was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He became a Fallen Soldier Of The Fall.

I was reminded of this on this past Saturday morning. While returning from an errand downtown, I noticed a lot of traffic ahead of me on South King Street. I then saw a sign and learned the reason. Though usually held earlier in September, this was Chappaqua’s annual Community Day, so I decided to take a back route home, one that took me past the train station, so I could up the hill, and then make my way home via Route 117.

So I turned right at the main intersection downtown, on a route that took me past the dry cleaning business owned and operated by SSgt. Chay’s parents for many years. As I approach the train station I saw more traffic ahead, and as I passed under the railroad overpass I saw the reason — the rides and games that were formerly to be found in the field on front of Bell School were now around the traffic circle in front of the train station.

As I passed by the War Memorial, I looked back and saw Ssgt. Chay’s name on the south side. There were many laughing children and parents nearby, and I wondered how many of them would even see SSgt. Chay’s name that day, probably on a few. But I saw his name, and then regretted that I didn’t have my camera with me, so I could capture the scene.

I also realized that, had Ssgt. Chay returned from his service to our country in harm’s way on foreign shores, then he and his family would probably have settled in this area, and become but one of the many families that will attend Community Day in Chappaqua in the years to come.

There are three days each year that I know of when the town gathers in front of the train station. The first is a small affair in early May, the annual Garden Show. It is followed within a few weeks by Memorial Day, and four months after that comes Community Day.

Looking back, it was around then that I began composing of this post in my mind.

This morning I had an early appointment downtown. I took my camera and stopped by the War Memorial on the way home, looking for a view that would show signs of fall. Here it is:

Fall View of the Chappaqua War MemorialFall View of the Chappaqua War Memorial

Fall is my favorite season. I grew up in New Mexico, where the Fall season is beautiful in its way — especially the aspen trees — but is shorter and not as dramatic as in the Northeastern part of our continent — the Canadian Maritime Provinces and the United States from Maine down the Atlantic Coast — as only therein can be found the maple trees that give Fall a special majesty. The joyous Fall in the Northeast is one of the reasons I have lived in this region for over four decades: it would be hard to findd reasons that would make me move elsewhere as doing so, would deprive me of Golden Fall Days.

But Fall is also a time for reflection, both because it is the time each year when every Jew reflects on the year past, and the year to come, in the ten days between the start of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, a day that occurred this year on Friday, September 19th. (No single holiday — holy day — is as holly as the Sabbath, so the holiest day is not Yom Kippur itself, but any Sabbat; so having Yom Kippur fall on a Sabbath, as it did this year, makes it the “Sabbath of Sabbaths.”)

It also brings to me an added sadness in that my niece, Janet Perloff Fossett, died in late August, 2004; my father, Swanson Claude Shields, died almost ten years ago, on October 5, 1997. My rabbi for many years, Rabbi Chaim Stern, also died in the fall of September, 2001.

I am not alone in suffering a death in the family in the Fall. Ssgt. Chay’s family, especially his wife Cathy Min Chay –now the sole parent to the son he left behind — are I am sure thinking more and more each day about their loss as the first anniversary of his death approaches. I know they are not alone.

As are all the survivors of the over 3,000 people killed on September 11, 2001.

And so I realized that, almost four months to day since Memorial Day, now was as good a time as any to announce a project that has been on my mind recently, as you will learn in a forthcoming post, “The Chay Project.”

We all know that each of the Fall Days yet to be lived by SSgt. Chay’s surviving family and friends will be diminished by his absence. He was still a young man of thirty-three when he died, so had he returned safely to our shores he would have enjoyed about fifty years of the Golden Fall Days that were his due.

But he didn’t make it back.

So it’s only fair that some of us should try to remember him and the other Fallen Soldiers who didn’t make it back, doing what we can to honor their memories and to encourage others to honor their memories, as doing so will help their survivors deal with the terrible — lifelong — burden that fate has placed upon their shoulders … and souls.

SSgt. Kyu Hyuk Chay, Janet Perloff Fossett, Lt. Swanson Claude Shields, Rabbi Chaim Stern, All the Victims of 9/11

May Their Memories Be A Blessing,

And may all offer their survivors as much support as we can in the coming fall days,

And in all the other days in the years to come.

Fall 2007,
david shields

Fall Days, Golden Fall Days

My wife Karin and I enjoyed two wonderful days of Fall this past weekend.

We began early Saturday morning with a visit to the Farmer’s Market in the nearby town of Pleasantville. Arriving before eight AM, we were fortunate to be able to buy several heads of the first lettuce to be available since late July, as well as fresh vegetables and some of our favorite apples, Macoun’s.

We then had our usual breakfast at the nearby Pleasantville Diner: “garden omelet with four eggs, whites only, hashed browns, rye toast, no butter, one regular coffe, one decaf, with skim milk.”

I later took Karin downtown to have her hair done. I noted by the traffic and signs that this the day of the town’s annual Community Day, and so took a back route home, passing by the War Memorial bearing SSgt. Kyu Hyuk Chay’s name on the way home.

Around 2:30, after walking our dog, Scout, I picked up Karin in downtown Chappaqua and we then drove into New York City. We listend to the Mets game on the way in, following John Maines’s potential no-hitter, until we parked the car on West 94th near Central Park West.

We then made our way across Central Part to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, entering the park at West 93rd street, where we noticed the playground had many children and their families in attendance. Karin and several other mothers worked for several years in the early 1980’s in order to get funding for the rebuilding of that park, in a group they callled “The Wild West 93rd Street Playground Association,” and it was a joy to see the fruits of their efforts in use over two decades later.

We saw the new show at the Met showing off their collection of Dutch paintings. We didn’t have to pay since as an IBM employee I get free admisssion due to IBM’s contributions to the Met. After enjoying the show, we spent an hour having cheese and wine listening to the chamber music group that can be heard on the second level above the main hall.

We then walked back though the park to have dinner with two couples we have known for almost thirty years, when the three mothers formed a play group that included my son Mike, a boy named Ben, and a girl named Sara. Ben’s parents have a fabulous apartment on the 34th floor with a stunning view of Central Park, and we spent much on our time that evening on the balcony admiring that view. We were pleased to learn that Mike and Ben had met earlier that day.

The next morning Karin and I took a bike ride that I have described in a recent post, and then set off to watch the Mets-Marlin game with our son Mike, a game that is the subject of several or my recent posts.

After the game we drove Mike home to Brooklyn, where I was able to buy a new router (Linksys WRT45G) for Mike and set it up for use with his new Lenovo Thinkpad. We then out for dinner at “Susie’s Place,” across the street from our usual restaurant destination in Brooklyn, Al Di La, as they were packed with eager diners. (Susie’s was good, though or course not as good as Al Di La.)

We enjoyed a spectacular view of the full moon on the drive home, and went to bed early so we could rest after a busy and fun-filled weekend, after enjoying just two of the wonderful days of fall that can be had in this part of the world, the Northeast, where the red colors of the maple trees define fall, and New York City with its abundance of culture, welcomes all.

Biker Dave Redux

I have written in the past about my days as “Biker Dave” riding my Yamaha YDS2 motorcycle while in college; see, in the order published, Word-press project initial status report, Thomas L Friedman – The Green Leap Forward, Bob Knoll: Coast to Coast In The Pursuit of Economy, The Mobil Economy Run, Dave Shields’s — Bikers, Bloggers, Writers.

With this post I announce that “Biker Dave,” aka the “Jikes Dave,” has recently joined the “Biker Dave” who writes about racing, as described in the last post listed above, as a biker, although as the rider of a bicycle, not a motorycle. [1]

So YDS2 “Biker Dave” is now “Biker Dave Redux.” [2]

I purchased bikes for our family twenty years ago when we moved to Chappaqua. The two remaining had lain idle for many years until I had them refurbished a few weeks ago. Since then my wife Karin and I have spent several weekend mornings taking our bikes to the road.

Our favorite spot at the moment is Route 100, going north from Route 188 to Route 35. This stretch of Route 100 abuts part of the Croton Reservoir and is exceptionally beautiful. It was the road taken by my wife on her daily commute for several years when she taught at the Somers Middle School, and also part of my daily commute for three years until I started working from home just over a year ago.

Here are some photos from our latest outing this past Saturday:

Bike Shadows on Route 100Bike Shadows on Route 100

Karin leading the way north on Route 100Karin leading the way north on Route 100

Blogger Dave; Biker Dave, ReduxBlogger Dave; Biker Dave, Redux

Views of Croton ReservoirView of Croton Reservoir looking towards Route 35

Boat of Route 100 near Croton ReservoirBoat off Route 100 near Croton Reservoir

Fall View on Route 100Fall View on Route 100

Muscoot FarmMuscoot Farm

Karin, Farmer Joe, and the Painted Mailbox ManKarin, Farmer Joe, and the Painted Mailbox Man

While this stretch of Route 100 is quite flat, and thus a favorite of local riders, the stretch from Route 118 south to Route 134 is quite dangerous, with much narrower, and in some cases none, shoulders.

Just over a mile west of the intersection of Route 100 and 188, or just west of the intersection of Route 100 and Route 134 about two miles soutch can be found entrances to the Westchester County Trailway. Much of it, including the part nearest our house, is built on the railbed of the old Westchester-Putnam country railroad, “The Put.” An outstanding example of the railroad bridges of the early 1900’s can be found just south of the entrance on Route 118. It has been restored, and has a fine wooden walkway that crosses the Croton Reservoir. The Croton Dam, built in the 1840’s, created the reservoir. Along with the elevator invented by James Otis, it was one of the key engineering marvels that made modern New York City possible.

Karin walked our dog Scout after the bike ride, before we headed off for a fun day in New York City:

Walking our poodle scout after the bike rideWalking our poodle scout after the bike ride

Notes:

1. I recently read with interest an article about a Gliding Club in nearby Rockland County in the “Escapes” section of Friday’s New York Times. When I mentioned my possible interest in gliding to Karin she was aghast, so I have decided to limit my outdoor adventures to walking the dog, golf and biking.

David Kumhyr, one of my colleagues in IBM’s LTC, has built one airplane on his own, and is at work now on two more. He also has over a hundred patents, and is thus one of IBM’s Master Inventors.

2. With apologies to John Updike, author of “Rabbit Runs” and “Rabbit Redux.” While a staff writer for the New Yorker in the late 1950’s he wrote a “Talk of the Town” piece about the Spry sign that I first read in Albuquerque. The neon sign, “Spry For Baking,” then stood across the Hudson from the West Side of Manhattan, in a feeble attempt to lure New Yorkers to venture across the Hudson River to New Jersey. Having failed at that mission it was demolished decades ago. I could see it from the apartment at 92nd and Riverside where I stayed during my first visit to New York City, in March, 1963. It was during that visit that I vowed to live in New York City for at least five years before I turned thirty.

It was in that apartment that I first tasted an English Muffin, cooked under the broiler in an oven to make a morning’s breakfast.

It was also there that I saw one of my friend’s roommates toast an English Muffin after a night spent in the company of a stunning beauty of a Columbia undergraduate whom he had picked up the night before, perhaps in a store while he was buying the muffins.

Looking back, I realize that it was the coed, not the muffin, that led to my vow. Though both were quite tasty, I realized that, while New Jersey might be ok for baking, New York was a much more promising destination for a young man throbbing with hormones.

Once I became a resident of NYC, I found, unsurprisingly, that I was much more skilled in picking up English Muffins than coeds. Maybe I should have joined the Spry sign in New Jersey, though I’m glad I didn’t.

The Wayward Word Press September Wrap-up

September was a busy and productive month here at the The Wayward Word Press:

It is our goal to make the Ubuntu posts the most viewed as soon as possible.

It is an even important goal to reduce the number of views of posts about SSgt. Chay that can be found at this site, for reasons that will be made clear in a forthcoming post.

Our thanks to our readers and commenters for their support and contributions. They are greatly appreciated.

Play, Play Ball, Play On

I took my camera to the Mets game this past Sunday. My son Mike had purchased two tickets for all the remaining Mets home games early in August, on his return from his summer’s work as Program Director at Camp Coleman, one of the two summer camps in the South operated by the Union For Reform Judaism. (He has worked as a lifeguard, camp counselor, or senior counselor most summers for well over ten years; this was his fourth at Camp Coleman, located in Cleveland, Georgia, home of the “Cabbage Patch” doll.)

The last game Mike and I had previously seen together was on Monday, September 10th, one of the last games the Mets won before their descent into the hell that became one of worst collapses in baseball history. I had arrived at the ballpark early, and as I waited for Mike to arrive on the Number 7 train, I wished I had brought my camera, for it was so much fun to see people arriving at the stadium, many wearing Mets’ shirts and other garb, a true cross section of New York, and a group close to my heart in that we were all Mets fans.

I took many many pictures during yesterday’s game, a game that turned out to be the last game of the season. One of them can be found in my earlier post Good News, Bad News.

Here are some of the others, in the order taken, earliest first:

Fans On The Way to SheaFans On The Way to Shea

Two Baseball Stadiums, And a Cutie-PieTwo Baseball Stadiums And A Fellow Mets Fan (who had in her possession two complete sets of Mets 2007 postseason tickets)

The Mets are building new Stadium, named Citi Field, that is under construction and can be seen at the left. To the right can be seen part of the current Mets home, Shea Stadium.

The Mets were joined in their season-ending gloom by the namesake of the new stadium, Citigroup, which just reported its own gloomy news, Citigroup Warns of 60% Earnings Drop. That namesake paid millions of dollars of Citigroup’s stockholder’s money to the Mets for the rights to that name. Whether this gloomy news forecasts the doom of Citigroup’s CEO remains an open question.

I said to a vendor as I purchased a beer — for $7.25, yikes — that I hoped the Mets would win, as it would put extra money in her pocket during the playoffs, and received a hearty agreement. Son Mike estimates the cost to the Mets of not making the playoffs, in the form of tickets, over-priced food and beverages, TV rights, extra payments to players, extra income to NY businesses — and the damage to the Mets’ reputation — as close to a hundred million dollars. This seems a reasonable estimate.
Party Time At SheaParty Time At Shea

Party Time at SheaParty Time at Shea, With a Blanket Still Dry

Blogger Dave At the ParkBlogger Dave At the Park

View From RF MezzanineView From Right Field Mezzanine

View From the Upper DeckShea: View From the Upper Deck

Fans go to the ball part to have fun — to root, root, root for the home team. Some, as recorded above, have tail-gate parties before the game. Many others can be seen playing catch, warming up their own arms, which for the most will then be used only to hoist hot dogs and beers to their mouths, undoubtedly imagining what it would like to be able to play in the “Big Show” itself if only their arms were good enough. [1]

Fans know that some games will have a happing ending, as captured in the memorable phrase of the Mets best-ever broadcaster, Bob Murphy, “Now for the happy recap.” Other games will end in a loss.

As I have reported earlier, two of my favorite quotes about baseball are:

Red Smith, “ninety feet between home and first base may be the closest man has ever come to perfection.” A close second would have to be sixty feet, six inches from the pitching rubber to home plate.

and

A. Bartlett Giamatti, “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”

Giamatti’s comment applies not only to the entire season, but to each game within it:

“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the first inning, when everything begins again, and it blossoms in the summer’s day, filling the afternoon or evening, and, when the Mets’ relievers come into the game, it stops and leaves you to face the aftermath in the suffering of your fellow fans.”

The most memorable baseball quote, as I wrote almost a year ago, is the request that a parent waits to hear:

“Let’s have a catch.”

Many people don’t go to the ballpark to have their fun. Some of them stay at home, as I was reminded this morning. I had taken my camera along when I went downtown on an errand (and to also take a picture that will be found in a forthcoming post), and I as I drove one of the back routes to my home I stopped and took a picture of the home, the large white structure that can be seen in part at the top of the hill. Itlies a half-mile or so the south of my own modest abode:

Home Sweet HomeA Neighbor’s Home, Sweet Home

To view another Home, Sweet Home, in Chappaqua, use Google Maps to locate “orchard ridge road, and north bedford road, 10514.” To the left is the First Congregational Church, which has graciously provided meeting space for my son Mike’s Scout Troop for many years. Across the street can be found a home with a swimming pool, tennis court and — one of the reasons I wish I had made oodles of boodle — its own private golf hole.

Further to the north can be found the home of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Located on Old House Lane, it is the house at to the north at the right end of the cul-de-sac. My son Mike was interviewed by a reporter from the Washington Post shortly after the Clintons moved in after he stopped to take a look at our new neighbor’s home.

Further north can be found Horace Greeley High School, with the former headquarters of Reader’s Digest just to the north.

My own home, sweet home, is located at “10 Sabina Road, 10514.” Google has the location a bit off. My home can be found to the south (bottom) as Sabina becomes Pondfield; it’s the one with the grey roof. The porch, my Open Office, is at the rear, facing the woods to the south.

My car can be seen parked at the base of the driveway. Though not obvious, it is parked in the middle of a baseball field, near home plate. The nearby street sign is first base, the hydrant across the street is second base, and our mailbox is third base. Between the car and the house is a hill that our children often used with their sleds as a winter playground, and we extend an invitation to use it whenever we spot a new family with children in the neighborhood.

If you go south from the woods you will find the massive white home, sweet home. You can also find two homes on Buttonhook Hollow, one of which, I have been told, has its own private movie theater. We have our own modest theater in our basement living room, and use it to watch movies from Netflix.

[Postscript: As further witness to the power of celebrity, mention of “Soap Opera Digest” caused a link to this post to be made within thirty minutes of its posting. Or was it because of my celebrity? We shall see.]

Notes:

1. One of the many reasons to attend a game in person, if you can, is to appreciate just how far is the distance between the shortstop’s “hole” as well as between third base and first base.

I first came to appreciate what the phrase “major league arm” means when, over twenty years ago, I attended a spring training game in Sarasota between the Chicago White Sox and another team. The players were obviously skilled. Then a ball was hit to center field, causing a running to break for home. There followed a bullet of a throw from center field to home that was remarkable for its speed and precision.

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