An Outtake on Life – March 28, 2019

Escape from Three Mile Island

The Redneck Multiverse

Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Station

This is a cautionary tale about the meaning of life, how we’re impacted by choices, and how the various multiverses of which we can chose often bring us to unexpected places. Sometimes the most logical, prudent choice is the absolutely worst choice…then again, is it? Is there any bad choice? Its been forty years since I embarked on the magical, mystical, redneck express, and found myself facing the most surreal experience of my life. I never felt more alive or afraid of dying. This is also a tribute of sorts to the Ford Mustang, 10 million strong, that saved our lives, even if it was only a crappy Mustang II.

You see, I have become convinced that the One, God, the Tao, is an utterly still, void, through which we all live, breath, move and have our being. Within the One are trillions of choices, made on the neutral ground of Being, where we are free, to follow our path. It has to be this way, or there is no choice, or freedom, or the ability to to self-empty in the cause of of others, to sacrifice ourselves out of love. Logic and rules, are the realm of the Angel of Light, where dwells blackness and death. Look at the world where self righteous, authoritarian nations with the most laws, the most restrictions on human freedom and speech, are the most evil and lead over and over again to genocide. Christ could die, commit a selfless act of love, against rationality, logic and order, because of the freedom of the Way. Rules bind, God frees. In order for the universe to exist, with multiple choices, God, the One, has to self-empty, abandon his|her power, and become the neutral ground upon which everything exists.  (And for all you physics aficionados, he has to be seen or he doesn’t exist, thus the need for the Son, or the Word, the dual, visualizing nature of the Godhead)  So doubters, you can’t “blame” God, because he is free-flowing and totally out of control. I’m sure this is quite the opposite of what you have believed, but I’m here to announce that the God is not sitting on a throne; the One surrounds you and you are within! Be still and think on that for awhile. Then ask yourself a question; which “truth” feels more authentic? Well, sorry, that’s way to deep for this tale and likely to end up in a nasty cul-de-sac.

At 4:00 A.M. on March 28, 1979, the Unit 2 reactor at Three Mile Island, near Middletown, PA., partially melted down. The China Syndrome premiered at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival and was released theatrically on March 16, 1979. This has always seemed odd to me, that a movie about a nuclear meltdown would be released just two weeks before the real event in Pennsylvania. False Flag anyone, “cui bono,” who benefits? The Oil Lobby and the Saudis no doubt, as no new nuclear plants would be built after.

Gassing up the Mustang II

I was a student at Dickinson College at the time, located just 30 miles away. Everybody was freaking out because America had no experience with nuclear core meltdowns and we were all sure we were going to die. Especially after China Syndrome. The suspense went on for days, typically with no real answers forthcoming from the experts. Remember all, Jimmy Carter was in charge!  My parents consulted with the maestro himself, the keeper of all things, John Sununu, and they were given the word that we should scram. Two of my fraternity brothers, Quasimodo Gandolfo and George Salvaggio to be exact, decided the right move would be to get in my Mustang II and head west away from the nuclear reactor. With no planning or forethought, we headed out to a campground in West Virginia, that somebody had stayed in previously as a kid. I don’t even know if we packed gear, then again it didn’t matter because we wouldn’t need it. The long drive was a strange trip indeed, with lots of fuel stops at bars and liquor stores along the way. At one liquor store the owner told about his elaborate plans to construct buildings of the future with biomass walls…you remember the seventies with the energy shock. In our haze, we found his ideas amazing!

Well back to the story. As we pulled into the town where the camp ground was located, somewhere in the mountains of West Virginia, there was an ominous breeze  moving through the trees, making the music that you would swear was the sound of dueling banjos. But that movie hadn’t come out and we were too ignorant to know what that meant and too wasted to care. We stopped to use a pay phone in front of the local bar. (You remember pay phones, right, you put a coin in them and you could make a phone call.) We wanted to call our parents to tell them we were safe.

Clueless and not functioning with the highest mental capacity, we ambled out of the beautiful little Mustang with smoke wafting behind us as we opened the doors. For some reason the pay phone stood right in front of the big plate glass window in the bar. So here we were the freak show for the local rednecks. We could see all the fine folks inside the bar and after we made calls we headed back to the Mustang. Just as we got to the car, all of these young, unkempt, “white privileged” folks, my own kith and kin if the truth be told, were at the door  cat-calling after us. Now what was the sensible thing for us to do? You’re right, we didn’t do it!

My “brother in the bond,” George Salvaggio, using his best judgement and mental reasoning, (it must have been that Phi Delta Theta cool-aid,) decided to flip them off and call them a bunch of f____ing rednecks. Not a good idea at all. You do remember the multiverse conversation we had at the beginning of this story, well this is where bad choices carried us all into a very unexpected place.

We jumped into that crappy little pony and took off, feeling safe that we were on the road again.

It never occurred to us that they would follow us, after all, why would they? YOU MEAN BECAUSE THEY WERE BORED AND DRUNK. WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO IN THE HOLLERS OF WEST VIRGINIA. ESPECIALLY WHEN FOOLS DROP OUT OF THE HEAVENS WITH NEW HAMPSHIRE LICENSE PLATES IN FRONT OF THE LOCAL BAR. DO YOU THINK IT WAS BECAUSE WE HAD INSULTED THEIR HONOR BY FLIPPING THEM OFF AND CALLING THEM REDNECKS! No, it was a jolting shock to us fools as headlights quickly pulled up behind us.

There really was only one choice. We had to get off the back roads and out of the hollows, outrun them, and reach Dwight D. Eisenhower’s beautiful interstate highway system, the promise of the twentieth century, on the other side of town. We did a short, quick, U-turn, and headed back by the way we had come. The rest of this ride is a blur, not because I can’t remember it, but because it took place at 70, 80, 90 and 100+ miles an hour on twisting turning back roads. God that Mustang was good to me!

The fact is, I will never forget that ride and the constant dread as headlights shone in the rear view mirror, following close behind. At points in the drive we were side by side, at other points we were driving on the wrong side of the road in order to pass other cars. We could see that the car was packed with people. Now before you critique my driving, you tell me what other  choice I had. Should I have stopped and tried to reason with them? We both came roaring back through the center of town, and all of the patrons of the bar we had so merrily stopped at, stuck their heads out the door to see what the hell was going on. I have to admit, whoever was at the wheel of that other car, the yin to our yang, knew how to drive! And good for them, we held each other in an embrace of adrenaline and fear as we headed on through that incredible redneck multiverse.

The worst part of this ride was when the rifle barrel made its appearance out of the side window of our pursuers car.  It sure appeared as if they planned to shoot at us or simply just shoot us. Or maybe they were just trying to get us to stop so we could be friends. About a mile from the Interstate the road widened and we were driving side by side, when I lost control of the wheel and my beloved Mustang did a 360, stalled, and came to an abrupt stop on the side of the road. At least we hadn’t flipped it over! As the dust cleared, we could see the car behind us, and all of the occupants clamoring out to get us. I often wonder what they would have done to us. It couldn’t have been good. To many insults, to much racing, to many intoxicants for a positive outcome.

Well, the mystical Blue Light of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Angels, Demons, Mother’s prayers, and even maybe the Virgin Mary, must have been invoked at this point because that beautiful “Stang” came roaring back to life with just one turn of the key. All praise be to the glorious Ford Motor Company! Because the “Necks” had left their car, this gave us the opportunity to get a huge head start and we hit the exit ramp of the Interstate with nobody behind us. The chase ended, we had prevailed.

We headed back north and stopped in Cumberland, Maryland. The glowing lights and mid-century architecture of the Holiday Inn or Ramada beckoned us like a warm embrace. Unfortunately, my friends and I couldn’t come up with the fifty bucks for a room. The nice lady behind the check-in desk, who must have found us a bewildering sight, directed us to the local fleabag, the Algonquin Hotel. It didn’t cost more than twenty bucks, and we probably could have rented the room by the hour, but it was a safe, warm, palace to us! The next morning life returned to normal and I dropped my friends of at their homes outside of Pittsburgh and in south Jersey before heading back to New Hampshire. Dickinson College closed for the week until they could determine whether or not there was a reason to worry. Luckily, it was my senior years and I had bulked up on tough courses like photography. That is why I have all of these wonderful black and white, thirty-five millimeter photographs of that trip.

I’m hoping that one of those fine folks who chased us through West Virginia, might remember that night, and would be willing to tell their side of the story. So there you go, a tale about choices and whether they really matter. Renounce all attachments, let go, and be free within The Way!

A gas stop somewhere in West Virginia

Envisioning the new green revolution…the first time!

 

 

Windham Life and Times – March 22, 2019

Windham NH Center

Circa 1900-1902

This photograph of Windham Center was taken from the Samuel Harris farm (Windham Village Green today) by William Austin Brooks between 1900 and 1902. He had rented Fairview cottage, on the shore of Cobbett’s Pond from the Harris family at the time. It is hard to imagine this beautiful scene where  busy Route 111 is located today. The house to the right was owned by the Brown family for many years during the twentieth century but at the time it was known as Aunt Rufina’s place.

 

Windham Life and Times – March 15, 2019

Gilbert Alexander Farm

Gilbert Alexander Farm North Lowell Road, Windham

Gilbert Alexander built this house about 1835 on a portion of the original Nesmith farm. His son Charles owned the property when this photograph was taken. The house still stands on North Lowell Road and was for many years the residence of the Low family. (Baldwin Coolidge No. 258-A; courtesy of SPNEA

Windham Life and Times – March 1, 2019

Benjamin Thompson- Lord Rumford

The Rumford Fireplace

When Lord Rumford was not chasing skirts, he put his brilliant mind to work solving practical problems in the world. This was a common attribute of many of the  settlers of America in the 18th century and brings to mind other “Renaissance men” such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.  If you have lived in New England for awhile, you have probably heard of the “Rumford” fireplace, but might not have understood why it was such an advance in woodburning technology.

A plan of a traditional fireplace next to the Rumford design.

“Rumford applied his knowledge of heat to the improvement of fireplaces in the 1790s. He made them smaller and shallower with widely angled covings so they would radiate better. And he streamlined the throat, or in his words “rounded off the breast” so as to “remove those local hindrances which forcibly prevent the smoke from following its natural tendency to go up the chimney…” Rumford wrote two papers detailing his improvements on fireplaces in 1796 and 1798. He was well known and widely read in his lifetime and almost immediately in the 1790s his “Rumford fireplace” became state-of-the-art worldwide. Subsequent testing of Rumford’s designs has shown that their efficiency would qualify them as clean-burning stoves.” The Rumford fireplace created a sensation in London when he introduced the idea of restricting the chimney opening to increase the up draught. He and his workers changed fireplaces by inserting bricks into the hearth to make the side walls angled, and they added a choke to the chimney to create a circulation of air inside the chimney. In the unmodified chimney, smoke rises up the chimney propelled only by buoyancy…Thompson became a celebrity when news of his success became widespread. In an age when fires were the principal source of heat, this simple alteration in the design of fireplaces was copied widely… Rumford fireplaces were common from 1796, when Count Rumford first wrote about them, until about 1850. Jefferson had them built at Monticello, and Thoreau listed them among the modern conveniences that everyone took for granted.” Wikipedia

A cross section of a traditional fireplace next to the Rumford design.

“The work for which Rumford is perhaps best known today is his energy-efficient design for fireplaces. His essay “Chimney Fireplaces, with Proposals for Improving them to Save Fuel; to Render Dwelling-houses more Comfortable and Salubrious, and Effectually to prevent Chimneys from Smoking” was first published in 1796, in the Bibliotheque Britannique in Geneva, and in volume I of his Essays, Political, Economical and Philosophical, published in London. An American edition of the Essays was published in 1798…A Rumford-design fireplace in the South Square Room…Thomas Jefferson owned volume I (Boston, 1798) and volume II (1799) of the three-volume American edition of Rumford’s Essays. However, it seems that Jefferson was familiar with Rumford’s designs well before 1798. Jefferson’s remodeling notes for Monticello, begun in November of 1796, contain sketches and notes for ‘Count Rumford’s fire places in the square rooms;’ ….By 1798 Rumford was already complaining that masons took short cuts and ‘neglected to round the breast,’ and his second essay on fireplaces published in that year was written primarily to address these faults. Once again he re-emphasized the importance of keeping the ‘back perfectly straight’ and of ‘rounding the breast.’” (The Collected Works of Count Rumford; Harvard Press; 1969; vol. 2.) Jim Buckley, rumford.com

 

Windham Life and Times – February 15, 2019

An Afternoon at the NH Historical Society Museum

The notorious, brilliant, womanizer, Benjamin Thompson, depicted in a painting with his wife, daughter and slave Dinah. He would soon abandon his American wife. One of the beautiful signs at the New Hampshire Historical Society, was a J. Stickney tavern sign from Concord, NH. The beautiful sign depicts the Indian Grand Sachem King Phillip, also known by his native American name of “Metacom or Metacomet.”

My wife is on a quest to find cheap things to do close to home…and thank God for the Hippo, because it really is the guide to what is happening in New Hampshire. This past Saturday, she took us to Concord for a nice lunch at the Barley House and a trip to a sign exhibit taking place at the New Hampshire Historical Society Museum.  The signs were great, but there were many other interesting things on display. My favorite was “White Mountains in the Parlor: The Art of Bringing Nature Indoors,” which included many works by the White Mountain School painters. There were several paintings by Benjamin Champney whose name has become synonymous with the White Mountain art of the nineteenth century. The landscapes of the mountains were sweeping and beautiful. There was also a well attended lecture taking place about how the railroads influenced New Hampshire and the grand hotels of the White Mountains.

One of the oil paintings that fascinated me was  “Benjamin Thompson’s Farewell.” by Daniel G. Lamont. What was interesting to me is that it is a rare visible example of how prevalent slavery was in New Hampshire. The caption states “Painted from memory, this paining was commissioned by Sarah Thompson, Countess Rumford, showing her parents Sarah Walker Rolfe Thompson and Benjamin Thompson, in a British army uniform, seated at a table in 1775. A loyalist, Benjamin Thompson is about to leave his family with British military forces evacuating New Hampshire. Sarah Thompson as baby is held by the Thompson’s African-American slave, Dinah, standing in the background…”Little did I comprehend what I didn’t know until I came across the book, “Sex and the Scientist, The Indecent Life of Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford. (1753-1814) In it we learn more about the importance of Dinah in the life of Sarah Thompson.”

“…This would not be the paternal aunt to whom she went when she was four but a female slave in the household name Dinah, who became Sally’s surrogate mother, spoken of with lifelong affection. And who had fairly exclusive care of her. This a slave nurtured the child and also smoothed over things for her. All her life, being sensitive, Sally had the need to go to someone to perform this same function and give the emotional support the enslaved black woman had provided. By the time Sally had the wistful family portrait painting, in which her mother and father were placed in the foreground and Dinah held her infant self, the America South was sentimentalizing slavery, which fed into Sally’s nostalgia and the artist’s stereotypical plantation mammy depiction so at odds with the parents, who look like cutouts of New Englanders.”

Thompson had met his wife in Concord NH. “Apprenticeships in the importing trade and the study of medicine, too, absorbed much of his young life until at the age of 19 he became a schoolmaster in Concord (earlier called Rumford) N.H. There he met and married a wealthy widow, Mrs. Sarah Rolf, who was also the daughter of Reverend Timothy Walker. In this position of influence, young Thompson met Governor Wentworth of New Hampshire who was impressed enough to name him Major in the 2nd Provincial Regiment.” After this painted scene, Thompson would sail back to England and abandon his wife and child in America. He would eventually reconcile with his daughter Sally  (Sarah?).

On Saturday, March 9, 2019 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Genealogy Workshop: The Scots-Irish in New England.

“Three hundred years ago, in 1719, a group of sixteen Scots-Irish families established a settlement in Nutfield (later Londonderry), N.H. They were part of a wave of Scots-Irish immigration to New England that would bring thousands of people to the New World. In New Hampshire, the Londonderry settlement became a jumping-off point for what was essentially a Scots-Irish invasion in the eighteenth century.  Join us for a day-long program with special guest speakers from the Ulster Historical Foundation from Belfast, Ireland, to learn more about the history of the Scots-Irish and conducting genealogical research on Scots-Irish families. Time will also be set aside for Q&A and for some tips on overcoming brick walls in your research. In addition, the Society will present for viewing—for one day only—the Shute Petition, which initiated the Scots-Irish exodus to New England.” Space is limited, and registration is required. The cost is $75 for New Hampshire Historical Society members and $125 for nonmembers. The day we were there new memberships were being offered for $34.99 or half price.