A growing collection of facts, thoughts and events from a 79-year-old man and his family, friends, and the characters that he has met along the way . . .

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THE ORIGIN OF “I”

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(Photo from:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inherit_the_Wind_(1960_film)

I recently enjoyed watching “Inherit The Wind” – a movie based on a real-life case in 1925, in which two great lawyers argue the case for and against Tennessee schoolteacher John Scopes who was arrested for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution in violation of state law.  Although I had seen this movie a long time ago, this viewing coincided with a blog by my daughter that I had just finished reading; an article that in part referenced “our normal sensation of self.”  Her references to material written by British philosopher Alan Watts , and by Donald D. Hoffman, a U.S. professor of cognitive science in this article so intrigued me that I had to search out their publications and read what they had written; especially since I have struggled with thoughts about my identity of self, and the origin of man, since I became old enough to reason!

At some point, early in my life, I realized that “I” was not able to believe the way the creation of man was explained in the King James Version of the bible (Genesis 1 King James Version (KJV):

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

or similarly, in the New American Standard Bible (NASB), Genesis 2:

“Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living [f]being.

 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper [o]suitable for him. . .”

” but for [r]Adam there was not found a helper [s]suitable for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The Lord God [t]fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
[u]She shall be called [v]Woman,
Because [w]she was taken out of [x]Man.”

24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

However, I also understood that men and women had to come from somewhere and, while I knew where I came from – in the sense that my father impregnated my mother and that I came forth from her womb – I could not understand where the 1st man (and the 1st woman) came from.  I knew without question that “I” alone could not go out into the forest and create a man or woman, so there had to be another solution or possibility.

A firm determination to solve the question “where did the first man come from” eventually led me to Darwin’s “Origin of the Species” that had been published on November 24, 1859.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Darwin

Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection

  1. More individuals are produced each generation that can survive.
  2. Phenotypic variation exists among individuals and the variation is heritable.
  3. Those individuals with heritable traits better suited to the environment will survive.
  4. When reproductive isolation occurs new species will form.

These are the basic tenets of evolution by natural selection as defined by Darwin. The following is a quote from Darwin.

“Variation is a feature of natural populations and every population produces more progeny than its environment can manage. The consequences of this overproduction is that those individuals with the best genetic fitness for the environment will produce offspring that can more successfully compete in that environment. Thus the subsequent generation will have a higher representation of these offspring and the population will have evolved.”

(Copyright © 1997. Phillip McClean)

evolution

While Darwin’s theory made more sense to me than “God” making a man in his own image (who really knows what God might (might have) look(ed) like?), or forming him out of dust then ripping a rib out of his body to make him a woman (a helper), I found it extremely difficult to believe that the first man evolved from an ape (or a whale) no matter how long it took – and then, if I chose to believe Darwin’s theory I would still want to know where the first ape (or whale) came from!

* * * * *

“I” spent the earliest years of my life living in a small farming and fishing village near Ocean City, New Jersey.  After I was born my mother and father moved into my maternal grandfather’s house.  My biological father ran away from our home when I was three years old.  My mother left not long after that, allegedly to earn money to help provide for our families needs, leaving it up to my grandmother and grandfather to raise me.  Although very intelligent my grandfather – the son of an Italian immigrant – had a very limited education and did not talk a lot (ironically, “grand pop” showed no interest in church even though he was an expert carpenter).  My grandmother, the well-educated daughter of a family of English origin was a sickly woman who often experienced long, debilitating, bouts of Asthma.  Although she attended the local Asbury Methodist Church when she was able to do so, she often remained bed-ridden for days at a time.  Consequently, three of my grandfather’s 4 sisters (all chubby, jovial, Italian ladies) that lived around the family farm would stop by to check on “grand mom” and me, and make sure that we had enough to eat when my grandfather was at work or away from home.  These lovely ladies did more to clothe, feed, and nurture me than anyone else during the first 9-1/2 years of my life.   Throughout these years, my grandmother made sure that I attended the church regularly, dressing me in a horribly “itchy” heavy woolen suit on cold winter days.  Her brother was the lay minister of the Asbury Methodist Church – as well as the church chauffer –  and I would have to stand outside, next to the mailbox, on those cold mornings waiting for  “Uncle Archie” to pick me up and drive me to Sunday School.  I don’t think I thought much about church or religion during this time in my life, other than how much I disliked that damned itchy suit.

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The Dreaded Wool Suit

On a cold winter December morning in 1946, not long after Christmas, my grandmother suffered a fatal asthma attack and passed away.  One of my great aunts found a letter that had been sent to me from my mother.  “Mom” was apparently living in Miami with a sailor that she had met in Atlantic City while she was working away from home.  It took about four months for my mother to make the arrangements, but my mother finally sent the money needed by my grandfather to purchase a ticket on a train that would carry me to Miami (evidence indicates that she also took this time to get married to the sailor).  The “family” purchased some new clothes for me, packed my belongings, and drove me to the train station in Atlantic City where I was met by a lady from the Traveler’s Aid Society who helped me to board the train to Philadelphia.

Twenty-five hours later, after having changed trains in “Philly” where I boarded the Orange Blossom Special, I arrived in Miami.  As another Traveler’s Aid lady escorted me off the train and down the platform toward the train station I spotted my mother.  Although I had not seen her for many years, I recognized her immediately – and the man who accompanied her.  He was the sailor she had introduced me to at a dinner party one night in Atlantic City a few years earlier on one of the rare occasions when she was in town.  That night the sailor teased me; I cried, and my mother nudged me under the table in an effort to encourage me to be quiet!

For the next six years I lived with my mother and stepfather in Miami.  Although it would take me sometime to figure this out, he proved to be a racist, often drunk, gun-toting member of the KKK.  He hated negroes (he called them “niggers”), Catholics, Jews (although my paternal father married a Christian, he came from an Orthodox Jewish family), Muslims, Yankees, and me!   After witnessing a few of his drunken outbursts I began to suffer asthma attacks (almost certainly psychosomatic), and I was eventually allowed to visit my grandfather and great aunts in New Jersey during school summer breaks.

When my stepfather was arrested by the FBI in Miami in 1953 for having aided the Ku Klux Klan in the blowing up of a black housing project in Liberty City (he allegedly furnished the dynamite – believed to have been stolen from his employers) my mother called it quits and we moved back to New Jersey where she obtained a divorce.(she had previously divorced my paternal father when I was seven years old).

Once again, “I” was able to resume a fairly normal life; living on a small farm, fishing and hunting with my grandfather, surrounded by loving and caring great aunts, playing in the woods, riding a school bus to school, and – once again, attending the Asbury Methodist Church, where I eventually became a member of the Asbury Methodist Youth Fellowship.  (I eventually withdrew from the Asbury Methodist Church Youth Fellowship organization due to discoveries of obvious selfish self-interest, hypocrisy, and infidelity among some of the churches parishioners).

* * * * *

“I” tell you all of these things, not to gain sympathy from you – nor to bore you with long, detailed stories of my early life, but simply to impress upon you my reasons for questioning my confusion about religion and the origin of man.

Now, over sixty years later, I’m still searching for answers.  Several years ago, I decided that I was a “Deist,”  and still may be:

” *Deism is the recognition of a universal creative force greater than that demonstrated by mankind, supported by personal observation of laws and designs in nature and the universe, perpetuated and validated by the innate ability of human reason coupled with the rejection of claims made by individuals and organized religions of having received special divine revelation.”  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism)

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Photo taken from:  http://slideplayer.com/slide/3838887/

However, I have just been introduced to the works of British philosopher Alan Watts, and I strongly believe what he has written in his book, “The Book on The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Really Are,” (published in 1969):

“Naturally, it isn’t the mere fact of being named that brings about the hoax of being a “real person”; it is all that goes with it. The child is tricked into the ego-feeling by the attitudes, words, and actions of the society which surrounds him—his parents, relatives, teachers, and, above all, his similarly hoodwinked peers. Other people teach us who we are. Their attitudes to us are the mirror in which we learn to see ourselves, but the mirror is distorted. We are, perhaps, rather dimly aware of the immense power of our social enviromnent. We seldom realize, for example, that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society. We copy emotional reactions from our parents, learning from them that excrement is supposed to have a disgusting smell and that vomiting is supposed to be an unpleasant sensation. The dread of death is also learned from their anxieties about sickness and from their attitudes to funerals and corpses. Our social environment has this power just because we do not exist apart from a society. Society is our extended mind and body.”  (Quoted from “The Book,” Chapter III)

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“To many people it was therefore an immense relief when Western thinkers began to question this image and to assert that the hypothesis of God was of no help in describing or predicting the course of nature. If everything, they said, was the creation and the operation of God, the statement had no more logic than “Everything is up.” But, as, so often happens, when one tyrant is dethroned, a worse takes his place. The Crackpot Myth was retained without the Potter. The world was still understood as an artifact, but on the model of an automatic machine. The laws of nature were still there, but no lawmaker. According to the deists, the Lord had made this machine and set it going, but then went to sleep or off on a vacation. But according to the atheists, naturalists, and  agnostics, the world was fully automatic. It had constructed itself, though not on purpose. The stuff of matter was supposed to consist of atoms like minute billiard balls, so small as to permit no further division or analysis. Allow these atoms to wiggle around in various permutations and combinations for an indefinitely long time, and at some time in virtually infinite time they will fall into the arrangement that we now have as the world. The old story of the monkeys and typewriters.

In this fully Automatic Model of the universe shape and stuff survived as energy and matter. Human beings, mind and body included, were parts of the system, and thus they were possessed of intelligence and feeling as a consequence of the same interminable gyrations of atoms. But the trouble about the monkeys with typewriters is that when at last they get around to typing the Encyclopaedia Britannica, they may at any moment relapse into gibberish. Therefore, if human beings want to maintain their fluky status and order, they must work with full fury to defeat the merely random processes of nature. It is most strongly emphasized in this myth that matter is brute and energy blind, that all nature outside human, and some animal, skins is a profoundly stupid and insensitive mechanism. Those who continued to believe in Someone-Up-There-Who-Cares were ridiculed as woolly-minded wishful thinkers, poor weaklings unable to face man’s grim predicament in a heartless universe where survival is the sole privilege of the tough guys. If the all-too-intelligent God was disconcerting, relief in getting rid of him was short-lived. He was replaced by the Cosmic Idiot, and people began to feel more estranged from the universe than ever. This situation merely reinforced the illusion of the loneliness and separateness of the ego (now a “mental mechanism”) and people calling themselves naturalists began the biggest war on nature ever waged.” (also quoted from Chapter III of Watts “Book”)

Needless to say, I am certainly not going to copy all 118 pages of “The Book” here, but I honestly believe it should be ready by everyone who questions the origin of life!

* * * * *

During my search for the origin of “I” I have read additional views on the creation of man from the Islamic View of Creation, from Universal Unitarianism, and from the Agnostic atheists, and most recently, from The World’s Newest Religion – No Religion.

One of the most appreciated and surprising works that I have discovered is from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s “What does it mean to be a human!”  “A Primer on Science, Religion, Evolution and Creationism” is a brilliant publication that includes a lengthy discussion on creation by Intelligent Design (ID).

(http://humanorigins.si.edu/about/broader-social-impacts-committee/science-religion-evolution-and-creationism-primer)

While I once believed that ID was the most logical explanation of the creation of man, I think “I” will stick with Deism for the time being!

*See this list of deists, Many of whom where amazing individuals; people like Abraham  Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, James Madison, and even Jules Verne and Leonardo da Vinci . . .https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_deists”

IF ONE PERSON – AND ONE PERSON ONLY – CAN GIVE THE ORDER TO LAUNCH A NUCLEAR WEAPON, WHO WOULD YOU WANT THAT PERSON TO BE? THINK ABOUT IT!

I don’t know if any of you watched 60 minutes earlier this evening, but I did  – and I find this really, really, scary:  “. . . one person and one person only — the president of the United States — can give the order to launch a nuclear weapon.”   I know that you already knew this; you’ve known it for many, many, years – but you never really think about it.  Well, think about it now, and about the forthcoming presidential election and who might be sitting in the White House should it ever become necessary to give that fateful order!

Preview: The New Cold War

60 Minutes takes viewers inside the U.S. nuclear arsenal for a rare look at the military practicing the unthinkable

  • 2016Sep 16

The next president will become commander-in-chief at a time when a new Cold War is brewing and both the U.S. and Russia still keep enough nuclear weapons on alert to end civilization. In a story to be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, Sept. 18 7:30 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. PT, viewers will get a close up view of America’s nuclear arsenal and the extraordinary measures the U.S. military takes to make sure that one person and one person only — the president of the United States — can give the order to launch a nuclear weapon.

Pentagon correspondent David Martin and cameras went aboard the USS Kentucky, a ballistic missile submarine which hides beneath the ocean, waiting for an order from the president to launch some of the nearly 200 nuclear warheads it is capable of carrying. Asked if his submarine has ever been detected during one of its undersea patrols, the Kentucky’s captain, Cdr. Brian Freck, does not hesitate. “No. Not even close.”

(https://wfoster2011.wordpress.com/2011/12/24/the-uss-kentucky-in-close-call-near-the-juan-de-fuca-strait/)

Martin and his team also went inside Strategic Command headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska, the nerve center for U.S. nuclear forces. They went three stories underground to the Global Operations Center and interviewed the man in charge of the nation’s nuclear arsenal, Admiral Cecil Haney, who would speak directly to the president in a crisis, recommending specific options for a nuclear strike. “Would they tell him what kinds of weapons you would use and what targets you would hit?” Martin asks. “They would be that specific, yes,” Haney replies. “Would they give him an estimate of casualties?” “We would have to give the president answers to a lot of questions,”  says Haney. “That’s one I would expect to get.”

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-preview-the-new-cold-war/

I’ve never heard of Admiral Cecil Haney before tonight, but after watching 60 minutes, I looked him up.

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(http://media.gettyimages.com/photos/admiral-cecil-d-haney-commander-of-us-strategic-command-listens-to-picture-id466870144)

In his current assignment, Admiral Haney serves as the senior commander of unified military forces from all four branches of the military assigned to USSTRATCOM, and is the leader, steward and advocate of the nation’s strategic capabilities. In a special, free program featuring an interview by PMML President & CEO Ken Clarke, Commander Haney shares his experiences and discusses the important role played by USSTRATCOM in the modern American military and government. Presented in partnership with the United States Strategic Command.

Located at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska, U.S. Strategic Command is one of nine unified commands in the Department of Defense, and is responsible for the global command and control of U.S. strategic forces to meet decisive national security objectives, providing a broad range of strategic capabilities and options for the President and Secretary of Defense.

USSTRATCOM combines the synergy of the U.S. legacy nuclear command and control mission with responsibility for space operations; global strike; global missile defense; and global command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR), and combating weapons of mass destruction. This dynamic command gives National Leadership a unified resource for greater understanding of specific threats around the world and the means to respond to those threats rapidly.

ADMIRAL CECIL D. HANEY is Commander of U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), one of nine Unified Commands under the Department of Defense. Before taking Command at USSTRATCOM in November 2013, he was Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet from January 2012 to October 2013. He served as Deputy Commander, USSTRATCOM, from November 2010 to December 2011. Haney commanded Submarine Group 2 from October 2006 to March 2008, and Submarine Squadron 1 from June 2002 to July 2004.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7_f5Hvv8Uc).

According to CBS News, “Head of the U.S. Strategic Command, Haney is the most powerful military officer you’ve never heard of – in command not just of the nation’s nuclear forces but its space satellites and cyber weapons as well.”  (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-new-cold-war-nuclear-weapons-david-martin/)

ARE WE REVERTING BACK TO BARBARIANISM?

Copy of SHOOTER WITH RIFLE

Sadly,  Yes, I believe so . . .  The words appearing below were written by Giambattista Vico 290 years ago in 1725:

“But if the peoples are rotting in that ultimate civil disease and cannot agree on a monarch from within, and are not conquered and preserved by better nations from without, then providence for their extreme ill has its extreme remedy at hand. For such peoples, like so many beasts, have fallen into the custom of each man thinking only of his own private interests and have reached the extreme of delicacy, or better of pride, in which like wild animals they bristle and lash out at the slightest displeasure. Thus no matter how great the throng and press of their bodies, they live like wild beasts in a deep solitude of spirit and will, scarcely any two being able to agree since each follows his own pleasure or caprice. By reason of all this, providence decrees that, through obstinate factions and desperate civil wars, they shall turn their cities into forests and the forests into dens and lairs of men. In this way, through long centuries of barbarism, rust will consume the misbegotten subtleties of malicious wits that have turned them into beasts made more inhuman by the barbarism of reflection than the first men had been made by the barbarism of sense. . . . Hence peoples who have reached this point of premeditated malice, when they receive this last remedy of providence and are thereby stunned and brutalized, are sensible no longer of comforts, delicacies, pleasures, and pomp, but only of the sheer necessities of life. And the few survivors in the midst of an abundance of the things necessary for life naturally become sociable and, returning to the primitive simplicity of the first world of peoples, are again religious, truthful, and faithful. Thus providence brings back among them the piety, faith, and truth which are the natural foundations of justice as well as the graces and beauties of the eternal order of God. . . .”  (http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/new_science.html).  Sound Familiar?

In April of 1915, Rosa Luxemburg pubished “The Junius Pamphlet.”  I copied these words from Chapter 1:

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“Violated, dishonored, wading in blood, dripping filth – there stands bourgeois society. This is it [in reality]. Not all spic and span and moral, with pretense to culture, philosophy, ethics, order, peace, and the rule of law – but the ravening beast, the witches’ sabbath of anarchy, a plague to culture and humanity. Thus it reveals itself in its true, its naked form.

In the midst of this witches’ sabbath a catastrophe of world-historical proportions has happened: International Social Democracy has capitulated. To deceive ourselves about it, to cover it up, would be the most foolish, the most fatal thing the proletariat could do. Marx says: “…the democrat (that is, the petty bourgeois revolutionary) [comes] out of the most shameful defeats as unmarked as he naively went into them; he comes away with the newly gained conviction that he must be victorious, not that he or his party ought to give up the old principles, but that conditions ought to accommodate him.”[3] The modern proletariat comes out of historical tests differently. Its tasks and its errors are both gigantic: no prescription, no schema valid for every case, no infallible leader to show it the path to follow. Historical experience is its only school mistress. Its thorny way to self-emancipation is paved not only with immeasurable suffering but also with countless errors. The aim of its journey – its emancipation depends on this – is whether the proletariat can learn from its own errors. Self-criticism, remorseless, cruel, and going to the core of things is the life’s breath and light of the proletarian movement. The fall of the socialist proletariat in the present world war is unprecedented. It is a misfortune for humanity. But socialism will be lost only if the international proletariat fails to measure the depth of this fall, if it refuses to learn from it.”  (https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1915/junius/ch01.htm)

While I do not advocate Socialism (yet) and I realize that Rosa Luxemburg was dealing with the horrors of WW1, there is a lot of truth and similarity in what she wrote in that paragraph!

I often lay awake at night, wondering – and worrying – about the needless violence and bloodshed that is taking place, not only in our nation now, but around the world.  I spend hours online perusing the words that have been written by men and women far smarter than I in an attempt to discover a solution to our current state of madness (madness in murder, madness in politics), and I find no solutions; at least none that are likely to occur in the years that I have left to live.  All I find are just more words . . .words like these from the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.
Hate multiplies hate,
violence multiplies violence,
and toughness multiplies toughness
in a descending spiral of destruction….
The chain reaction of evil —
hate begetting hate,
wars producing more wars —
must be broken,”

and this . . .

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

DR KING

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of a second floor motel room in Memphis, Tennessee.

He was shot by escaped convict, James Earl Ray!

 

 

 

 

ALL LIVES DO MATTER

MUSICALITY

http://www.trbimg.com/img-575783a3/turbine/ct-americas-got-talent-musicality-mason-bumba-20160607

I have just developed a new respect for the TV show, America’s Got Talent.  At a time when we are confronted 24/7 by news reports of Cop Killings, of random murders and acts of terrorism,  and by the ugliest and most disgusting U.S. presidential campaign in my lifetime, AGT presents us with positive evidence that a mixture of peoples, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, age, or country of origin, can all get along with each other   To understand what I am talking about, all one has to do is to listen to and watch this musical group from the Southside of Chicago (http://www.gossipcop.com/musicality-americas-got-talent-video-choir-skyscraper-agt-watch/).    Look at them; look at the other performers – listen to their stories – and  look at the thousands of people sitting in the audience, mostly unknown to each other, and you will know that ALL lives matter, and that ALL lives can live and work together.  I don’t have the answers, but I know that it can work, somehow, someway, someday!

(if you haven’t watch AGT this season, it will be on NBCTV next Tuesday, July 26, 2016, when the finalists perform in Las Vegas, NV).

 

CAN WE REALLY COEXIST?

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After reading this article (https://quillt.wordpress.com/2016/06/26/coexisting-with-or-without-the-bumper-sticker/) recently posted by my daughter, Theresa Willingham, I began to give some serious thought to “Coexistence.”  Could we – can we – really coexist in the world we live in today?

Online research first led me to the thoughts and writings of Ariel Dorfman, whose plays include “Death and the Maiden” and “Purgatorio.”  I have quoted this passage from an article that appeared in The Guardian in 2008:

 “We inhabit a time of fear and mistrust: nothing could be more urgent than asking ourselves how we should react when we have been overwhelmed by a monstrous offence; nothing could be more imperative than the need to understand how easy it is to go from victim to accuser, from accuser to invader, from violator to victim.”

(https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/jan/17/chile.theatre) You must read the entire article)/

.  Dorfman is also credited for saying:

“I’ve been wrestling with the dilemma of how you coexist with those you hate.”

This, of course, led me to think about hate, and that led me to Nelson Mandela who wrote in his autogiobraphy in 1994, “Long Walk to Freedom,”

 “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion.  People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”  (http://abcnews.go.com/International/nelson-mandelas-inspirational-quotes/story?id=8879848).

While I agree with the statement that “No one is born hating another person . . .People must learn to hate . . .” I do not know how or if everyone who hates can be taught to love those they have learned to hate.  While my stepfather was one of the most hateful people I have ever know, he must have had some love in him.  He loved fishing and hunting, and he must have loved my mother when he married her, but he hated *Blacks (he referred to  them using the “N” word).  He was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and once arrested for helping to dynamite a Black neighborhood in NW Miami.  He also hated Catholics and Jews (he burned crosses on peoples lawns and once let a live pig loose in the lobby of a famous Jewish hotel in Miami Beach) and Yankees (why he married my mother who was from the state of New Jersey I will never understand), and I feel certain that he hated me; he never called me by my name – he just called me “boy,” whenever he wanted me for something.  Although he never physically abused me, he mentally tortured me, harassing me, humiliating me, taunting me, laughing cruelly at me, day-after-day for the 6 years that I lived in his household.

How do we teach a young child to love the bully who is abusing him, or the bully to love the child he abuses?  Should we, in fact teach the bullied child to love his abuser?

How do we teach the Islamic children that are schooled to hate us to love us?  Is it possible?

Will we ever be able to stop individuals like the Tsarnaev brothers and Omar Mateen from hating us and orchestrating another mass murder?

Can the peoples of the world really coexist?  You tell me how, Please!

*BLACKS:  I am using this word to describe African Americans because my stepfather died before the Rev. Jesse Jackson made the title “African American” famous in a speech in 1988. (http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/african-american-term-brief-history)

13 POSTCARDS FROM WORLD WAR 1

B1 WW1 CARD 1A TENT INSPECTION ANNISTON AL 12-10-1917

These Thirteen Postcards Survived World War 1

(and so did the two brothers that mailed them home)!

On May 18, 1917, the Selective Service Act was passed. . .and on June 5, 1917, the first WW1 draft registration was enacted.  Three brothers from Atlantic City, New Jersey. reported to the draft board on that same day:

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Archie Summervill Scull, Age 29

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Horace Scull, Age 26

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Oscar Charles Scull, Age 24

Oscar Charles Scull was sent to Camp Dix in Wrightsville, NJ., and assigned to the 112th Headquarters Company, Field Artillery.  He mailed his 1st postcard from there – home to his mother, Mrs. George T. Scull:

Horace Scull was transferred to Camp McClellan in Anniston, Alabama, where he became a soldier with the 117th Engineers Regiment, and he mailed his 1st post card to home to his sister, Reba, from there: (Reba Scull became Mrs. John Fennell (called “Jack” by her brothers.  She eventually became my maternal grandmother):

Before being shipped overseas, Oscar was also transferred to Camp McClellan, and he mailed his 2nd postcard home.  This one was sent to his sister, Reba (then Mrs. John “Jack” Fennell):

After arriving in Europe in November, 1917, Uncle Horace manage to mail  more postcards home; 8 to his sister, Reba (my grandmother), and one to his mother, Eva.

I believe that my Great Uncle Horace Scull’s 117th Engineers Regiment became a part of what was then called the “Rainbow Division,” (and eventually, a part of the American Expeditionary Force) and that his path through WW1 first led him to France where he fought  in the Baccarat Sector, Lorraine, and in the Esperance-Souain Sector, in Champagne.  If this is correct, Company D then fought in the Champagne Marne Sector on July 18, 1918 where 14% of his company’s soldiers were killed or wounded.   He survived that battle,  moving through France, Belgium and Luxembourg with his company which was eventually demobilized in the United States on May 14,1919 (http://militarymuseum.org/Rainbow.html).

On January 7, 1918, My Great Uncle, Horace, mailed a postcard from Neumahr, Germany,  to his mother, Mrs. George T. Scull, stating that he “hoped to be home soon. . .

. . .  but no one had heard from his brother, Oscar, for over 11 months for reasons that later became very obvious.  The 29th Division was first constituted on paper 18 July 1917 in the Army National Guard.[2]:319 The division’s infantry units were the 57th Infantry Brigade, made up of the 113th Infantry Regiment and 114th Infantry Regiment from New Jersey, and the 58th Infantry Brigade, made up of the115th Infantry Regiment from Maryland and 116th Infantry Regiment from Virginia. Its artillery units were Maryland’s 110th Artillery Regiment; Virginia’s 111th Artillery Regiment; and New Jersey’s 112th Artillery Regiment. As the division was composed of men from states that had units that fought for both the North and South during the Civil War, it was nicknamed the “Blue and Gray” division, after the blue uniforms of the Union and the gray uniforms of the Confederate armies during the American Civil War.[3]  The division was actually organized on 25 August 1917 at Camp McClellan, Alabama.[2]:319 

The division departed for France in June 1918 to join the American Expeditionary Force fighting in World War I[4] The division’s advance detachment reached Brest, France on 8 June. In late September, the 29th received orders to join the First United States Army‘s Meuse-Argonne offensive as part of the French XVII Corps. During its 21 days in combat, the 29th Division advanced seven kilometers, captured 2,148 prisoners, and knocked out over 250 machine guns or artillery pieces. Thirty percent of the division became casualties—170 officers and 5,691 enlisted men were killed or wounded.[5] Shortly thereafter the Armistice with Germany was signed, ending hostilities between the Central Powers and the Allied Powers.  (http://www.pbs.org/now/society/vetbenefits.html).

On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1919, My Great Uncle, Pvt. Oscar Charles Scull, mailed his final postcard home to his sister, Reba:

He mailed this card from Vals-Les-Bains (Ardeche) in Southern France, and it read in part, “hope to be home by Easter…”

He arrived a bit late since his unit did not arrive back into the United States until May, 1919 – but he made it!

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Mrs. George (Eva) T. Scull

>The Fennells of English Creek, (La mia Famiglia Italiana, il familiare Fanelli di English Creek)

Reba Scull (Mrs. John Fennell)

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Elmer E. Scull

Horace and Oscar Scull were born two years apart.  Each of them lived for 84 years and, ironically, they died two years apart.

Uncle Oscar married a lady by the name of Mae, and they moved into a big house on the SE corner of the Mays Landing-Somers Point Road & English Creek Avenue; the first house on your right after you crossed the English Creek bridge when heading for Ocean City.   Although they lived just a few miles away from the home that I lived in for the 1st 9-1/2 years of my life,  I barely new them.   Uncle Oscar and I shared the same birth date; June 21st.  He died in 1976 at the age of 84.

I know even less about my great Uncle Horace.  In fact, I only remember seeing him one time, and that was at my great aunt Mildred’s funeral on January 1, 1963.  He arrived in the passenger’s seat of a brand new, bright red, Corvette convertible that was driven by a young blonde woman wearing an extremely short mini-skirt (also bright red – and much too short; especially for a funeral), and they were both “drunk as a skunk!”  Uncle Horace passed away in 1974, also at the age of 84.

In case you might be wondering about what happened to the 3rd brother who registered for the draft in Atlantic City on June 5, 1917, Archie Summervill Scull:  My great uncle, Uncle Archie, was already married (his wife was the former *Marion English) and he and his wife had an 11 month old son, Elmer.  Archie, who was a postman in Atlantic City, was deferred from the service because of his age and marital status.  However, he eventually moved to English Creek and became the lay minister of the Asbury United Methodist Church in English Creek, New Jersey (now named Egg Harbor Township, NJ).  During the early years of my life I often road to and from the church on Sundays sitting in the back seat of Uncle Archie’s car since he was also the church chauffer!  My grandmother and grandfather, **John (“Jack” to the Scull brothers) & Reba Scull, lived in English Creek (mailing address then:  RFD#1, Mays Landing, NJ),   Although I do not remember ever meeting Archie’s son, Elmer and my mother were friends and he even assisted her (mom) in the sale of our family home in the late 1970’s.

*Marion English was a descendant of Wolphert Gerretse Van Kouwenhoven and her family history can be traced back to 1702.

**More can be learned about the Fennell Family by watching “The Fennells of English Creek (La Mia Famiglia Italiana;” a video posted on my blog (thesumofme2.wordpress.com).

Although I have searched far and wide, so far I have not been able to located photographs of my Great Uncles, Archie, Horace, & Oscar Scull; nor have I been able to establish contact with descendants of the Scull family now living in the Binghamton – West Springfield, NY area.  If anyone can help complete this task,  please contact me.

NOTE:  While performing research for this document I discovered Elmer Scull’s obituary on line.  He was born in English Creek, NJ., on June 25, 1926 and died in Agawam, NY., 96 years later on December 29, 2012.  He worked at one time as a technician on the Space Program, and he held a distinguished military career as a Naval Commander during WWII and the Korean War.

The Fennells of English Creek (La Mia Famiglia Italiana) Revised


My great grandfather, Tomaso Fanelli, was born in Italy in 1856 and I believe he lived in or near Riccia, Campobasso Molise, or *Castelnuova della Daunia, Foggia, Italy. Tomaso was conscripted into the Italian Army at a very young age and allegedly became a Captain in the Cavalry. He was apparently discharged after breaking a leg, and immigrated to the United States in 1888:
My great grandfather, Tomaso Fanelli in 1919 with his 3-year-old grandson,William Dickson Errickson, Jr.
Like many Italians at that time, Tomaso apparently came to the Philadelphia area to work on the railroad system. After working on the railroad for a while he saved enough money to send home for his bride (he must have married 27-year-old Maria Panichelli of Riccia before leaving Italy). Her ship sailed through a violent storm on the way but she finally arrived at the Castle Garden Port of Immigration in New York on March 9, 1889. How they finally got together is really not known. It is possible that their efforts to meet were coordinated through the St. Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi’s Italian Church on Montrose Street which seems to have been a sanctuary for Italians immigrating to the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania areas. There is one rumor that Maria was not happy with her new husband; however, she bore him 9 children and she certainly looks happy in the below photograph! In any case, being a good Catholic – and now terribly afraid of the sea and sailing ships, she would never leave him or set foot on a boat again!
Maria Panichelli Fanelli
Although Maria was not the youngest (she was 27 when she arrived) or prettiest woman in Riccia, she must have proved to have been a satisfactory wife. Tomaso was transferred to Ocean City, New Jersey and they moved there together, living in an apartment while he continued to work on the railroad. After living in Ocean City for a while, Tomaso was victimized by a fly-by-night real estate agent and suckered into buying a farm house about 9 miles inland, in English Creek, New Jersey, without ever having seen it. Tomaso quit the railroad after paying the sum of $300.00 U.S. dollars on July 21, 1892, to a Mr. Frambes Smith for the old Blackman House and a small tract of land on the West side of the River Road (now known as the Somers Point-Mays Landing Road) in English Creek. The house had been put together with wooden pegs or treenails as they were called in those days, and it was already over 50 years old and in pretty bad shape when they moved into it.
The original Fanelli Family Homestead (the old Blackman House) in English Creek, NJ. That’s William (Bill) Errickson, Sr., standing in front of it.
Tomaso allegedly knew nothing about farming, but the little piece of land that he bought was some of the richest and most fertile land in South Jersey. His wife, Maria – who was the real farmer in the family – and his neighbors helped him to establish a small vegetable farm and he became a good farmer. His Zucchini and Eggplant and peppers and onions soon became so popular with his neighbors that he was able to save a little more money and make repairs to the old house. While he added a big kitchen across the entire length of the back of the house and built an outhouse several yards away, at the edge of his field, covering both buildings with a matching red asphalt roof, Maria had babies.
The Fanelli Family Homestead as it appeared many years after Tomaso added the kitchen and red asphalt roof.
One hundred years would pass between the day she bore her first child and the day her last one passed away. Their first child was a boy. John Fennell, my grandfather, was born on the 12th of January in 1891, and baptized at St. Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi’s Italian Church in Philadelphia.
The earliest photograph I could find of my grandfather, John Fennell.
Somewhere between the port of immigration and English Creek, Tomaso Fanelli’s name became recorded as Thomas Fennell – and he would be known as such for the rest of his life. Thomas had great respect for America; as his family grew he insisted that his children learn the ways of his new country, and that they only speak English. Maria would give birth to 3 more boys and 5 girls between January 22, 1891, and December 20, 1908. One boy, Giosi, died during childbirth, and one son, Franco, who was born on June 25, 1899, died at the age of 17 in a motorcycle accident. A girl, Anna, was born in 1904, but she only lived for four years and passed away in 1908. Although our family albums contain hundreds of pictures – going back to tintypes – I have not been able to locate any baby pictures of John, or his brother Joseph, or of his sisters; nor can I even find pictures of them as young children.
John Fennell was a handsome young man. He eventually met Reba Carolyn Scull of Atlantic City while she was playing the piano at Silver’s 5 & 10 on the Westside of Atlantic City.
Reba Carolyn Scull is pictured here on the beach in Atlantic city, NJ. Atlantic City’s famous boardwalk can be seen in the background.
They fell in love and on a clear winter day in January of 1916, they got on John’s motorcycle and sped off to Elkton, Maryland, where they were married.
John & Reba Fennell on his Harley motorcycle
Seventeen months after John was born Maria had her first girl child. Mary (Marian) Fennell was born on May 15, 1892. Her birth was followed by the birth of Rose on August 25, 1894, and then, by Mildred on March 15, 1898. Another boy, Joseph Patrick (my great uncle Pat), was born on September 5, 1901, and finally, Agnes was born on December 20, 1905.
Top, Agnes Fennell; middle, left to right, Mildred, Mary and Rose. The young man is William (Bill) Errickson, Jr.
One of two pictures I have of my Uncle Pat (Joseph Patrick Fennell). This was taken in Miami Beach, Florida, around 1937 or 1938.

Three years and one month after they were married, John and Reba had a baby. My mother, Dorothy Lorraine Fennell, was born on February 20, 1919:
My mother, Dorothy Lorraine Fennell
In order to have more privacy, John – who had become an excellent carpenter, built this house for his family:
The house that John Fennell built for his family. Although it has been enlarged and is no longer in the family, it still stands at the corner of Lee’s Lane and the Somers Point-Mays Landing Road in English Creek today.
While John was busy tending to his family, fishing and hunting, and plying his trade as a carpenter his sisters were busy searching for husbands of their own. His older sisters, Mary, Mildred and Rose, often traveled to Atlantic City during the Jewish Holidays were there, they could earn extra money as food servers. During one of those trips Mary Fennell met and fell in love with a handsome young Scotsman by the name of Joseph Connors. Much to her dismay, “Joe” moved to California; however, she loved him enough to follow him out there and then she managed to convince him to marry her and to return with her to English Creek.
Joseph Connors served in the Canadian War. This photo of him was taken at the Valcartier Camp in Quebec in 1917
Not to be outdone, Rose moved to Atlantic City and took up residence overtop an Italian bakery. Although crippled at the age of 13 when her dress caught in the preacher’s wagon, she also managed to find a husband. She becameMrs. John Parker Voight.
John Parker Voight along with my grandmother, Reba Fennell, and my mother, Dorothy

Her husband was a dapper young man and rarely ever left their apartment before first donning a Chesterfield coat with a dark blue velvet collar, his spats, and a derby. It appears that their tumultuous marriage did not last very long. Rose divorced John Parker and moved back to English Creek; but not before having a baby girl of her own:
Rose Fennell Voight with her daughter, Ruth, standing in front of Maria’s old roadside vegetable stand after she enlarged it for the first time.
Mildred Fennell met her husband, William Dickson Errickson, Sr., when he rode into English Creek on a motorcycle along with his friend, Frank Grevatt. Frank would eventually become one of the early owners of Atlantic City’s famous Steel Pier. William became a fireman in Atlantic City a couple of years after they got married:
William (Bill) Dickson Errickson, Sr.

They had one son, William Dickson Errickson, Jr., (the little boy pictured with his grandfather, Tomaso Fanelli). Aunt Millie eventually divorced William Errickson and moved to Franklinville, New Jersey, where she established a large and profitable commercial chicken farm. She was very wealthy for a while and lived in a large home on many acres of ground that included quarters for her servants. Unfortunately, her chickens developed a disease called coccidiosis and perished. She lost a small fortune and eventually moved back into Atlantic County where she had just enough money left to buy a small grocery store on the west side of Park Avenue in Pleasantville, New Jersey.
Mildred Fennell Errickson in her grocery store in Pleasantville, NJ, circa 1953-1955

I worked for her after school during my 1953-1954 high school years, and again during the 1954-55 winter seasons. After Joseph Connors died in 1953 Mildred sold the her store in Pleasantville and moved back to English Creek where she shared a home with her sister, MaryAnn; she became an Egg Harbor Township school bus driver, and lived their for the rest of her life.
My Uncle Pat (Joseph Patrick) never married, and it would be many years before the baby of the family, Agnes did.
In the meanwhile my mother was growing up. She finished high school, having excelled in the fine arts of being a secretary; shorthand, typing, and dictation. Unfortunately there were no jobs for secretaries in English Creek; in fact, there weren’t even any offices in English Creek. It has been reported that my mother had a tendency to be a bit promiscuous as a teenager, and that her mother and father had to keep a tight reign on her. However, at the tender age of 16 she was invited to join her aunts, Mary, Mildred, Rosie and Agnes, when they went to work as food servers at the Ostend Hotel at Sovereign Avenue and the Boardwalk in Atlantic City during the Jewish Holidays in 1936.
Bill Errickson, Jr., and his cousin, Lilla Irwin, are pictured here standing on a bench in front of the Esplanade Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, around 1921 or 1922. The Esplanade was also known as the Ostend Hotel.
They could earn as much as $300.00 US dollars each; a great sum of money in those days, and they were able to save almost all of their earnings because the Ostend provided them with rooms to live in while they worked there. John and Reba gave Dorothy their permission to go and that is where she met the man who would become my father – salad chef Edward Irving Opshelor
Edward Irving Opshelor (front) is pictured here working at the Ostend Hotel in Atlantic City in 1936. The other man in this picture has not been identified.
of Philadelphia – the son of Charles Opshelor, a Jewish refugee from Odessa, Russia. They must have hit it off rather well (and rather quickly), because they were married on September 12, 1936.
Dorothy and Edward Irving Opshelor on their wedding day, September 12, 1936.
After living in the Ostend Hotel for a short while, an apparently pregnant Dorothy returned to English Creek with her new husband in tow, and they moved in with her parents, John and Reba Fennell. Forty weeks to the day after they got married, I was born!
That’s mom and me in my grandfather Fennell’s front yard.
Apparently Edward Irving did not like living with his in-laws because 3 years after they were married – just two years and one month after I was born – he took off for Miami. In fairness to him, there was probably nothing he could do to earn wages in English Creek. Edward Irving grew up in Philadelphia; then moved to Atlantic City; he knew little, if anything, about life in the country. The Fennell men hunted and fished and farmed while their women cooked and cleaned and canned. When it was time to slaughter a hog, the whole family pitched in and every part of the animal was used.
Mary & Joe Connors are pictured on the left side of the hog; Bill Errickson, Sr., and Mildred are on the right side of it. The woman on the far right is believed to be a family friend.
About 10 years after her sister divorced William D. Errickson, Sr., her baby sister Agnes married him and they moved to English Creek while Mildred was living in Franklinville, and they lived there for the rest of their lives.
The Fennell Family existed in English Creek, New Jersey, from about 1890 until 1991, or for a little over 100 years. However, since none of Maria’s sons had any male heirs, the Fennells of English Creek ceased to exist after the passing of her oldest living child, MaryAnn Fennell Connors, on December 1, 1991.
Although we do not carry the Fennell or Fanelli name, those of us who were born to the daughters and granddaughters of Maria and Tomaso will always remember them and remember our heritage.

*Thomas Fennell (Tomaso Fanelli) passed away in English Creek, New Jersey, on 14 October 1922. Three months after he died, his brother Antonio wrote a letter to him. That letter was dated on 12 January 1923. We have no idea how long it took that letter to find it’s way to the Fennell family home in English Creek, nor do we know if anyone ever replied to it. However, the return address on that letter was Sig.Antonio Fanelli, Via Setembrino, Castelnuova della Daunia, Foggia, Italy.

(While researching records and family documents we discovered that the family name was spelled “Fennelli” and “Fenneli” in the early 1900 census records. It was also spelled that way in Ancestry.com, but has been corrected. We also felt that the 1890 US Federal Census record would have been most valuable in helping us to complete our research, unfortunately this record was almost entirely destroyed by fire. There appears to be a tremendous amount of confusion and uncertainty in the record keeping of the early Census Bureau and in the old Immigration Service).
My first cousin once removed, William (Bill) Errickson, Jr., and his daughter, Patricia Brennan, helped me to compile the Fennell Family history, and this story could not have been told accurately without their collaboration).


Updated March 22, 2011:


Sadly, my first cousin, Bill Errickson (William D. Errickson, Jr.) passed away on March 7, 2011. He will be dearly missed by his daughters, Patti and Jane; and all of the other members of his family, and especially – Simon, Patti’s Maine Coon Cat. Bill was was born on May 14, 1916:

This poem is a variation of the poem published by Mary Elizabeth Frye in 1932; author unknown.







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