Jerry’s Journal, by Jerry Hogan Kasparek

I got mail, lots and lots of mail — email that is!

The first one I’m going to tell you about came from Tom Frawley who once helped me with a Respect Week project during my time with the Community Task Force back in the early 2000s.

Tom taught graphic arts and photography at G. Ray Bodley for 33 years, retired in 2010, and said he always tried to brighten the day for the students in his charge. He said my columns were a big hit with his mother Rose Frawley, who passed away last October.

Quoting from Tom’s email he wrote: “You stated that people tell you ‘you look good’ and it brought to mind the former proprietor of Matty’s Tavern on West First Street and a favorite when someone would say, ‘Matty — you look good, how do you feel?’

“Matty would laugh and say, ‘I don’t know, Joe Young is following me around, smoking a cigar and carrying a tape measure (Joe Young was a long-time Fulton undertaker, for those who don’t recall).That line has stayed with me for decades and I always enjoy sharing it. I don’t know how to spell Matty’s last name but it sounds out like Mih-SHAH-sk.”

I thank Tom Frawley for his email and sharing his memories of Matty’s Grill with us. Matty’s last name has a familiar ring to me too, I knew some of his family, but I couldn’t find anything like it in the phone book. Maybe someone out there will fill us in.

A frequent email pal and farmer classmate of mine, Tony Leotta, wrote me about Jim Utick’s passing away at age 82. Jim graduated in 1949, two years ahead of Tony and me at Good Old Fulton High School. Tony said “Jim was the greatest Red Raider football player of all time at FHS.” His nickname was “Shadow,” and according to the 1948 yearbook, “He said what he thinks.”

Tony is spending his summer trying to farm  his land. “Woodchucks and deer are devastating my garden in Granby,” he wrote. “They wiped out the eggplants, cauliflowers, and some of the peppers. I expect them to eat the tomatoes next!”

“I have deer in my yard too (on Tannery Lane),” I emailed back to Tony. “They are eating my assorted landscape plants, and, eating my white roses! I guess they got to eat too.”

Tony replied: “The deer travel along the banks of Meadow Brook adjacent to Tannery Village. The Brook extends into Granby and transverses my property within the abandoned muckland. The muckland is now teeming with wildlife.”

Meadow Book? I wondered. Thus I then replied to Tony: “It’s Tannery Creek that meanders through the meadow. It splits near Hannibal Street and the other part drains into the river. There is a huge beaver pond in the part that heads toward your land.”

“Tannery Creek is the only outlet stream from Lake Neatahwanta,” Tony wrote. “Meadow Brook is tributary to Tannery Creek somewhere on the backside of Tannery Village.”

Well, Dear Readers, I learn something new everyday, in this case where the apartment complex Meadow Brook Circle must have gotten its name.

Tony continued: “Yes, beavers have damned the brook causing approximately 75 acres of old muckland to be flooded. That is good because the old muckland (including mine) have receded far below the level that nature originally created them. The muckland north of Hannibal Street along Meadow Brook are no longer viable for farming as in the days of old (1916-1985).”

Tony goes on to say that he is older than me (by six months), referring to my last column announcing I am about to turn 80 (I still can’t believe it!), but that his memory is actually fairly good.

Thanks for the emails. You keep me thinking.

I also received an email from Pat Tetro Sweeney, who lives in Middlesex, N.J. Pat said, and I quote, referring to my last column: “I laud you for expressing your thoughts concerning our elected officials. No controversy here when you express the angst of the majority of the American people.

“You have, in a way, simplified what all sane Americans believe. Our government officials, federal, sate, and county are cow-towing to their political parties and to do what they believe can get them reelected.

“On another note, what are your feelings about Fulton School District announcing that only 65 percent of the 2013 class graduated? Any way you can archive 1956/57 graduation statistics? I’m thinking it would be an interesting comparison.” (No answer to that Pat, anybody out there who can tell us?)

“For some strange reason I cannot explain today,” Pat recalled, “I can still see you on stage during our Friday assemblies doing your monologue – the HORSE. The horse has four legs, one on each corner, etc. etc. etc.”

Oh, my gosh, Pat sure has a good, and vivid, memory of a silly skit I had seen on TV by a comedian whose name I can’t recall and thought it was so funny I decided to perform it at our Junior Class assembly.   I guess it’s my claim to fame during my high school days. Thanks, Pat, for reminding me.

That was a long time ago, folks, and by the time you are reading this, my 80th birthday bash held this week will be history. (I’m still praying it won’t rain that day. But my kids say they have everything under control and it’s not my worry!)

I’ve been very retrospective the past couple of weeks, recalling regrets, joys and sorrows, and placing them in not-so-neat compartments in the memory bank of my mind, while at the same wondering what the future holds for me. Tell me what older person doesn’t wonder about that: how much longer do I have on this good earth?

There are moments when I feel like it’s really not me; it must be somebody else’s life — maybe my mother’s or grandmother’s — I’m walking through. They stare back at me in my mirror, wrinkles and white hair, looking at me through faded blue eyes, through years of living, learning and wisdom.

Now I know how they must have felt as they grew older and realized they had so little control over anything at all. . .

And, if you want my opinion, if trying to remember stuff is the most frustrating thing about getting old, not being able to do everything you used to do and want to do is the worst thing of all. It takes twice as long to do half as much!

Case in point: I’m sitting here in my very messy computer/activity/project room wondering if I’ll ever get all my writings and photos sorted out and organized into some kind of recognizable order, only to realize it will probably take me another 80 years to get it all done! Lots of luck with that, I might add!

Meanwhile, I’m going to take a few weeks off from writing my column. It’s summertime “and the living is easy,” so they say, and I want to see if it’s true.

Hope to see you again in August.

Now here’s my caveat: Readers beware! I write for fun. I am not a historian, nor a reporter. I write from memory and from what others want to share. Sometimes I look things up; sometimes I mess things up.

I hope you have fun reading my stuff. Your comments, additions and corrections are always welcome. You may contact me at 133 Tannery Lane, Fulton, phone 592-7580 or email JHogan808@aol.com. Please put Jerry’s Journal in the subject line.

Thanks!

Editor’s note: The 65 percent graduation rate figure mentioned in the column does not mean only 65 percent of the Class of 2013 graduated. It means 65 percent of the students who were ninth-graders in 2009 graduated four years later in 2013. Some of those who did not graduate in four years may have gone on to graduate at a later time or received GED diplomas.

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