He was one of the best basketball players of his generation. Among the many highlights in his ten-year career he won one MVP, was a seven-time All-Star with one All-Star MVP, and led his team to two championships with two finals MVPs. But, his true value to the Knicks transcended his physical talent on the court. In addition to his talent he was one of the best leaders the game has ever seen. He didn’t merely lead by example; as you will see below, he also led by the force of his character and personality. He led a group of mostly good, but not great, players [with the notable exception of Walt (Clyde) Frazier] to two championships over more talented teams. How did they accomplish this? Simple. They played as a unit, a classic example of the whole being more than the sum of its parts. The team mantra was play ferocious defense and “hit the open man.” Sublimate your individual talents for the good of the team. Many teams preach this, but very few actually do it consistently. It requires strong leadership to keep everyone in line, leadership that must come from the players, not just the coach.

Willis Reed, Jr. was born on June 25, 1942 in tiny Hico, LA, which is located in Lincoln Parish. Hico was so small that Reed often joked that “they don’t even have a population.” He grew up in nearby Bernice, LA. He attended college at Grambling State University, one of the many historically black colleges in the segregated South, which, at the time, afforded southern Blacks one of the few paths to a higher education. In four years he led Grambling to three Southwestern Athletic Conference titles and one NAIA title.

He was particularly dominant in his senior year averaging 26.6 points and 21.3 rebounds per game. In those days before national tv and the internet it was not easy for a player from a small school, especially a small black school, to attract the attention of the NBA. This may have been the reason why Reed lasted until the 2nd round of the draft (8th overall pick). Nevertheless, it was the Knicks’ good fortune to draft him in the second round in 1964. [Quiz question #1: can you name who the Knicks took in the first round that year? See answer below.]

Reed was an instant star. He was Rookie of the Year and made the All-Rookie First Team. In an era in which centers routinely stood 7 feet or more he was an undersized center at 6’10”. He started out playing power forward, which was not his natural position, while Walt Bellamy played center. The Knicks mostly struggled in Reed’s first few years. Then, on December 19, 1968 they made the blockbuster trade with Detroit – Bellamy and Butch Komives for Dave DeDebusschere. Arguably, this was one of the most dynamic and one-sided trades in NBA history.

It enabled Reed to shift over to center, his natural position. As I said, Reed, at 6’10”, was a little undersized, but he made up for it with his strength, toughness, determination and defensive prowess. He could also shoot and score, both inside and outside. Literally overnight, the Knicks were transformed into a dominant team, especially defensively. They went on to lead the league in defense for five of the next six years. They routinely held the opposition to fewer than 100 points. The savvy NY fans appreciated their efforts. They began to chant “deefense, clap clap deefense clap clap,” a chant that has persisted to this day at Knicks games. The Knicks became a perennial playoff team and won championships in 1970 (the franchise’s first) and 1973. Reed was Finals MVP in both. The 1970 team won a league best 60 games, including a record 18 straight.

Game # 7 of the 1970 finals was a game Knicks fans will never forget. It was one of if not the most iconic and dramatic games in NY sports history. And, it played out before a national tv audience. Ironically, in accordance with NBA policy at that time the game was blacked out in NYC and its suburbs, which was a huge injustice to long-suffering Knicks fans. (Nancy and I were visiting her family in PA, so we did get to see it.)

In any event, Reed had been injured during Game # 5, which the Knicks managed to win. He was unable to play in Game #6, a Lakers blowout. That set up a decisive winner-take-all Game #7 in NY. Reed was doubtful for the game, and the consensus was that if he didn’t play the Knicks had virtually no chance. He did not appear on the court during the warmups, and it looked like he would not play. And then, in dramatic fashion he emerged from the tunnel accompanied by a tremendous roar of the sellout MSG crowd. In Frazier’s words, all the Lakers “stopped what they were doing [to look]. I said to myself, ‘man we got these guys.’ ” Bill Bradley remembers that “when he [Reed] came out it was like electricity coursed through the whole arena.” Longtime broadcaster, Marv Albert, recalls that during a pregame interview Reed had told him “I’m gonna play tonight.” But, most of the players on both teams did not know. When he came limping out the Knicks players were elated; the Lakers players were stunned.

It might be an exaggeration to say that the Knicks won the game right then and there, but that’s how it felt. Reed scored the first two baskets, and the Knicks took off from there. Frazier played the game of his life scoring 36 points with 19 assists and seven rebounds. The Knicks jumped out to a huge lead, and they were never threatened.

Reed became the first player to win the All-Star Game MVP, the regular season MVP, and the Finals MVP in the same year. [Quiz question #2 – Can you name the other two who have done so?] See below.

Reed was the captain and undisputed leader of the Knicks. Several of the players have stated that they don’t remember any vote or official designation. He just assumed the job and responsibilities, and beginning in 1966 everyone recognized him as such. As Walt Frazier said “I don’t ever remember anyone ever telling me Willis was the captain. He just was the captain.”

Reed could and did provide leadership physically, mentally and emotionally. Bradley said he was not afraid to take the last shot (as many players are), and if someone else took the last shot and missed he was the first one to console him. In addition, the players knew that if any of them “got into trouble out there on the court for any reason Willis had [their] back.” For example during one game with the LA Lakers some of the players started pushing and shoving, and a big scuffle ensued. Reed defended his teammates by challenging the entire Lakers team to a fight. No one would take him on, and the matter was resolved peacefully. Moreover, Reed would not hesitate to “call out” a teammate who was not giving 100%.

Reed played ten seasons until injuries forced him to retire in 1974. However, he remained active in the game. He served as head coach of the Knicks, the Nets and Creighton University. Furthermore, he worked as General Manager of both the Nets and the New Orleans Hornets. Finally, he mentored various players such as Patrick Ewing.


Some of the many honors he earned:

  1. He was the first Knick to have his number (19) retired.
  2. He was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1982.
  3. He was named one of the “50 Greatest Players in NBA History.”
  4. He was named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.

Since his passing Reed has been eulogized by many, many former players, teammates and outside observers, too many to include all of them. For example:

  1. Frazier recalled how Reed took him and other rookies under his wing and helped them acclimate to NY and the NBA. Furthermore, Frazier said that as great a player as he was “he was even a better person.”
  2. Bradley stated “I was lucky to know him. Forget the championship(s), just as a human being.” He added, “he was the backbone of the team. He was the guy that took us to the first championship by his courage and by his unselfishness.”
  3. Longtime Knicks broadcaster Marv Albert remembers “he (Reed) was so well respected not only by his teammates but around the league.”
  4. Following the 1970 championship win the loquacious commentator, Howard Cosell told him on national tv “you exemplify the very best that the human spirit can offer.”
  5. Reed became so synonymous with playing through injury that NFL commentator, Cris Collinsworth once described NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers who at the time was having a good game while injured as “having a Willis Reed kind of night.”

Reed was married twice and had two children. He passed away on March 21, 2003 from heart failure.

Rest in peace “Cap.” You are gone, but your legacy will live on as long as basketball is played.

Answers to quiz questions:

1) Jim (Bad News) Barnes from Texas Western. Barnes’ parents had saddled him with the unusual first name of “Velvet.” Good thing for him he grew to be 6′ 8″ and 200 pounds. Barnes’ career was cut short by injuries, however, he eventually was part of the deal by which the Knicks acquired Walt Bellamy who, as we all know, later became the key piece in the deal for Dave DeBusschere.

2) Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal



Think quickly. What is the most important aspect of America and the American way of life? What is it that sets us aside from any other country? What is it that if we were to lose it, it would destroy America as we know and love it? Some of you might respond “the Constitution;” others of you might say, “The Bill of Rights.” Both good answers. But, I would maintain it is “free and fair elections and the acceptance of the results.”

In order for America to function as a Republic we MUST have free and fair elections, and the people MUST accept the results of said elections as the honest and valid result. Some of us may not be happy with the result. Some of us may dislike or distrust the winner, but it is absolutely imperative that we accept the result and move on secure in the knowledge that the majority of voters have spoken. That doesn’t mean that the results can’t be questioned. That doesn’t mean that recounts are not appropriate in close elections. That is all part of the process so that, in the end, the losers can be satisfied that the election was valid.

It is imperative that the results were not influenced by outside sources. It is imperative that no outside agency, either domestic or foreign, had “their finger on the scale.” It is imperative that no agency ether domestic or foreign, altered or suppressed significant information in order to deceive voters. As I said, it is imperative that in the end voters accept the results as honest and valid.

Many of us have suspected or even thought they “knew” that that was not the case with respect to the last few elections. Many of those who have had the temerity to question the results have been ridiculed and scorned as “sore losers,” conspiracy theorists, or even worse, unpatriotic and “racist” (the tried and not so true catch-all criticism). At last, in the last week or so, thanks to Elon Musk’s releasing of previously-secret Twitter files the curtain has been drawn back. At last, proof is emerging that the vast conspiracy of the DNC, Dem candidates, the FBI, the Justice Department, Twitter, Facebook, and most of the media has been guilty of all the nefarious things mentioned above. Is this American? I think not. All may be fair in love and war, and often the ends may justify the means, but not in elections. Perhaps, in autocracies, but not in America.

To be sure, American history is replete with examples of backroom deals in “smoke filled rooms” as far back as the origin of the Republic, itself. But, it had never been conducted on this vast a scope. Perhaps, the two most notorious examples are the elections of 1824 and 1876. In 1824 there were four candidates for president. Andrew Jackson won the most electoral votes, but he failed to win a majority. Eventually, the winner, John Quincy Adams, was selected by the House. Jackson’s supporters were convinced that Henry Clay, another candidate, worked a backroom deal with Adams giving Adams his electoral votes. This became apparent when Adams later chose Clay to be Secretary of State. In 1876 Sam Tilden fell one electoral vote short of the needed majority, but there were 20 electoral votes in dispute in various southern states. Ultimately, a backroom deal was struck giving Rutherford B. Hayes all 20 electoral votes and the election. In return, Hayes agreed to recall all Federal troops that had been occupying the South since the end of the Civil War.. This effectively ended Reconstruction to the long term detriment of the African Americans domiciled there.

Back to the present, there is evidence emerging that the current shenanigans have been going on for some time, at least as far back as the 2016 presidential election. I am not talking about complaints relative to “voter suppression” or mail-in ballots, or “hanging chads.” Those were minor league compared to this, and getting bogged down in those issues now would only serve to obscure the real issues as outlined above. I am referring to things like the Steele dossier, illegally obtained FISA warrants, The Biden family’s numerous and ongoing nefarious “pay to play” bribery and corruption deals with Russia and China, and the suppression of the story about Hunter Biden’s laptop. This is NOT just about Hunter Biden, although he may be the focal point. It encompasses President Biden, himself, the “big guy.”

As bad as all of the above is, it is not the whole story, maybe not even the worst part. Although not yet proven, I, for one, am convinced that most of President Biden’s decisions as president have been influenced by his bribery and corruption deals with China and Russia. There is circumstantial evidence to support these quid pro quos. Almost everything he has done or not done, almost every decision he has made or not made has benefited China and/or Russia to the US’s detriment. Below please find just a few examples:

  1. Canceling the Keystone Pipeline. In one fell swoop this took us from energy independence to being supplicants to our enemies for energy. There was no logical justification for this, not one. It didn’t conserve the environment. We still need fossil fuels. They have to come from somewhere. We still need to run our economy; we still need to keep warm in the winter. Only now, we get it by begging our enemies for it. Moreover, this oil has to be transported here by ship, which uses fuel. And it is not as “clean” as our oil. As an added “bonus,” the decision threw tens of thousands of Americans out of work and exacerbated inflation. This was the worst geopolitical decision imaginable. Furthermore, what happens if there is a war, and our enemies cut off our supply?
  2. Allowing Russia to build its own pipeline to Europe. This saved Russia from bankruptcy, enabled it to finance its war with Ukraine, and allowed it to gain control over our NATO allies’ energy sources. In what universe is US-produced oil a threat to the environment but Russian-produced oil is not?
  3. Opening our southern border. This is a very complicated issue with many economic and social facets, but one thing it has undeniably done is facilitate China’s and the Mexican drug cartels’ ability to smuggle in fentanyl and other drugs. According to Google deaths from these drugs has risen to approximately 100,000 per year. For perspective, the US suffered 58,220 deaths in the entire Vietnam War. These drugs are destroying an entire generation of young people.
  4. Failure to aggressively pursue of the source of COVID pandemic outbreak. The pandemic destroyed our economy, turned a presidential election and has caused and will continue to cause untold social and emotional damage. Yet, we still don’t know definitively the source, although most of us strongly suspect it. Biden has demonstrated no desire to find out.


The foregoing is very scary stuff. It would take a 1,000 page book, not a 1,000 word blog, to explain in proper detail all of the examples of this vast conspiracy. It has nothing to do with Dems, the GOP, Trump, “wokeness,” CRT, climate change, or any of the other issues that have been in the news. Those may be important to some, but they are just distractions compared to this.

Regardless of one’s political bent, this story is something that you should be concerned about and follow. So I will ask you, the reader, to pay attention to this story as it unfolds over the next several weeks or months. Don’t just look at your favorite media outlook or social media platform. Check all outlets including, yes, Fox, in order to get a fair and balanced report. Pay attention to the hearings that will (hopefully) be conducted by the various House committees.

Basically, it comes down to do you want to leave your children and grandchildren a strong “America” or a weak “banana republic.” America has never been conquered by external force. Let’s not let it be conquered from within.


Wednesday, December 7, will mark the 81st anniversary of one of the most heinous, despicable acts in modern history – Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.  In 1994 Congress designated December 7 as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day as a way to remember and pay homage to the 2,400 US military and civilian personnel who were killed and 1,800 wounded in the attack.  The day is not a federal holiday, but flags are flown at half mast and many organizations hold special ceremonies.   

Each year thousands of people flock to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and Visitors’ Center to pay their respects. For many years thousands of survivors made the journey to honor their fallen comrads. Unfortunately, at the present time the few remaining survivors are too old and infirmed to attend. It is estimated that there are only 1,500 left ranging in age from 97 to 101.

The 81st commemoration is scheduled to commence early in the morning at the exact time of the commencement of the attack. Various ceremonies are scheduled throughout the country most of which will be livestreamed. One of the highlights will be a Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade. Appropriately, the theme of the parade will be “remembering our past while celebrating that once bitter enemies can become friends and allies.” In point of fact, that accurately characterizes the relationship between the US and Japan for the last 80 years or more. Another highlight will be the 6th annual “Blackened Canteen Ceremony” aboard the Arizona Memorial. US and Japanese survivors will pour whiskey out of a canteen into the water to pay homage to those who were killed in the attack. The canteen is a relic of an air raid conducted by the US over Shizauoka, Japan in 1945.

As President FDR forecast, December 7, 1941 is truly a date that has lived in infamy.  It is one of those dates we can never forget.  It is burned into our very souls. Mention that date to a person of a certain age and their reaction will be akin to later generations’ reaction to November 22, 1963 or September 11, 2001.  Most any person over the age of five on those dates remembers where he was, what he was doing and how he felt when he heard the news.  Those are dates that had a profound effect on our lives both individually and collectively.

On December 6, 1941 America was still working its way out of the Great Depression, which began in 1929 with the stock market crash.  Unemployment was at 9.9%, not good, but a significant improvement from the peak of 25% in 1932.  Americans were not thinking about war.  After all, we had just fought the “Great War,” (aka, the “war to end wars”).  Sure, there was a war waging in Europe, but we were not involved directly.  We had no boots on the ground, and we had a vast ocean between us and them.  Most Americans were focused on their own lives, not on world events. America was in full isolationist mode.  All that was about to change suddenly, violently, tragically and irrevocably.

We all know what happened on December 7, 1941.  We know that the Japanese executed a devastating surprise attack on our naval base at Pearl Harbor that precipitated our involvement in WWII.  Approximately, 2,800 lives were lost, civilian as well as military, along with most of our Pacific Fleet and airplanes.  America switched immediately from peacetime mode to wartime mode.  Patriotism and nationalism abounded.  The “greatest generation” was on the march.

As we all know, America recovered to win the war after four years of intense and costly fighting.  There is no need for me to rehash those events.  The Pacific War has been the subject of numerous books, movies, and tv productions.  The central theme of this blog will focus on the events that led up to the war with Japan.

Every war has its immediate cause and its underlying causes. The attack on Pearl Harbor was the immediate cause. But, what were the underlying causes? What would make Japan start a war that it had virtually no chance of winning? Glad you asked. Read on.

Many, if not most, historians maintain that the US actually provoked Japan into starting the war, although we did not intend for them to devastate our naval fleet in the fashion they did.  Over the course of the 1930’s we took various actions that, in reality, left Japan no choice, to wit:

1. The US was providing assistance to the Chinese who were at war with Japan.  This included providing airplane pilots, armaments and other supplies and materials. Japan had been at war with China since the 1930’s.  Its extreme brutality was exemplified by the Nanking Massacre, aka the Rape of Nanking, which began in December 1937.  In a six-week period over 300,000 Chinese civilians were murdered, and there was widespread raping and looting.  This shocking brutality was a portent of the Pacific War.

2. Along with the British and the Dutch the US military was actively planning prospective military operations against the Japanese in the Far East to counter its aggression.

3. Japan had few natural resources of its own; it needed to import raw materials, such as coal, iron, oil, rubber and bauxite, from the US and other countries in Southeast Asia to fuel its burgeoning industries.  In the late 1930’s the US began to severely limit its access to these materials by enforcing sanctions, limits and embargoes.  This aided the British and the Dutch, who were concerned about Japan’s aggressive behavior in the Far East, but it provoked the Japanese.

4. Thus, one can view the attack on Pearl Harbor, not as an isolated event, but rather, as the last act in a long line of connected ones.

Many historians believe that FDR provoked Japan intentionally, because he wanted to go to war against the Axis Powers, and the American people were decidedly against doing so. Before you scoff at that notion, consider that we have fought other wars following provocations that may or may not have been fabricated. For example:

1. The Spanish-American War in 1898 began when the battleship, Maine was blown up in Havana harbor under mysterious circumstances. 75% of her crew were killed. “Remember the Maine” became the signature battle cry of that war.  There is evidence that suggests that the Maine was not blown up by the Spanish, but may have blown up by accident or been sabotaged to provide a pretext for us to enter that war.

2. The legal basis for commencing the Vietnam War was the Gulf of Tonkin incidents of August 2 and 4, 1964. A US destroyer, the USS Maddox, exchanged fire with North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the Gulf, which is off the coast of Vietnam. As a result, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized President Johnson to assist any Southeast Asian country that was being jeopardized by “communist aggression.”  Johnson was only too eager to do so.  It was later determined that some key facts, such as who fired first, are in dispute.

3. President Bush, 43, “sold” the Iraq War to the American people by asserting there was “proof” that Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction.” Such weapons have never been found.

So, if FDR did, in fact, goad Japan into attacking us so that we could enter the war against the Axis Powers, it would not have been the only time the US Government used that tactic. In the 1950’s the renowned historian Harry Elmer Barnes (who, ironically, later lost much of his credibility by becoming a vociferous denier of the Holocaust) published a series of essays describing the various ways in which the US Government goaded the Japanese into starting a war it could not win and manipulated American public opinion.  After the war, Secretary of War Henry Stimson admitted that “we needed the Japanese to commit the first overt act.”

Most historians agree that even the Japanese leadership in the 1930’s knew it could not win a prolonged war with the US. They realized that the US was vastly superior in terms of men, material and resources, and eventually, it would wear down the Japanese.  That, in fact, is precisely what happened.

In 1941 the die was cast when a more militant, nationalistic government came into power headed by Emperor Hirohito and Prime Minister Hideki Tojo.  They spent several months planning the pre-emptive strike. In his best selling book, “Killing the Rising Sun,” Bill O’Reilly denoted that the Japanese sought to imbed spies into the Hawaiian civilian population to gather intelligence.  O’Reilly quoted one senior officer who found out that his Japanese gardener was actually a colonel in the Japanese army.

Many historians believe that the Japanese hierarchy was emboldened, in part, by the successful surprise attack on the Russians in 1905 led by then-Admiral Tojo during the Russo-Japanese War. It had worked once; why not again? Their intention was to neutralize American naval power in the Pacific so that it would be unable to block Japan’s aggression in Southeast Asia. They determined that Sunday would be the best day of the week to attack. They also weighed the advantages and disadvantages of attacking the fleet in the harbor or at sea before settling on the attack in the harbor. Although the battleships were “sitting ducks” in the more shallow harbor, Admiral Chester Nimitz pointed out later that one crucial advantage to the US was that we were able to raze several of them later and return them to active duty.

Despite its years of provocations, the US was ill-prepared for an attack. In addition, we had failed to confront the Japanese directly earlier when they could have been dealt with more easily. So, instead of fighting a small war in the 1930s we ended up fighting a world war just a few years later.

One could argue that there were strong parallels between then and our more recent history with respect to various terrorist groups operating in the Middle East and elsewhere. Once again, we have failed to deal with these problems when they were manageable; once again most of the country has been very reluctant to get involved in “other people’s problems (Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq);” and, we are now embroiled in the more costly aftermath (conflicts, refugees, and a likely nuclear-capable Iranian).  History, when ignored, does tend to repeat itself.


Ultimately, the Japanese underestimated the US. Their leaders knew we were in isolationist mode. They did not think we had the “stomach” to fight a prolonged, brutal war.  Also, they knew we would be fighting the Germans and Italians as well. Furthermore, they figured that with our Pacific Fleet decimated, if not destroyed, we would be unable or unwilling to counter their aggression in the Far East.  The Far East was their end game for reasons discussed above; they were not interested in attacking the US mainland, although much of the US civilian population feared that they would.

Obviously, the Japanese misjudged us.  They were not the first enemy to do so, and, in all likelihood, they will not be the last.


On Thursday, November 24, we will celebrate Thanksgiving. All things considered, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the food, the football, and the four-day weekend. What I don’t like is the traveling. Regardless of which mode of transportation one uses – roads, air or rail – one has to expect delays, cancellations and frustration. And that does not account for inclement weather, which exacerbates the situation.

Traveling by car? In my experience, regardless of which day and what time you travel, you can’t avoid the traffic snarls. You just have to hope (or pray) for the best. (I have found you can mitigate traffic delays by relying on a good GPS, such as Waze.)

Traveling by air? Be prepared for overcrowded airports, overbooked, delayed and/or cancelled flights and surly people. Traveling by rail is not much better. Don’t be surprised if there are incidents of violence among passengers and/or airline and rail personnel. With COVID in the rearview for most people AAA is predicting that some 54.6 million Americans will be traveling more than 50 miles from home over the TG weekend. This will be just about at the pre-pandemic level. People will be stressed, and tempers will be short. But, for most people the positives of the holiday outweigh these negatives.

If you must travel, it will behoove you to follow common sense guidelines, such as:

  1. Book your reservations early.
  2. Avoid travelling during peak periods .
  3. Arrive at the airport or train station early.
  4. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Traditionally, TG is a time when extended families gather together to celebrate in large groups. People travel to spend the holiday with relatives that they only see a few times a year. They stoically endure the abovementioned negatives. They don’t like them, but they recognize it is part of the deal. Many people have Friday, Monday and part of Wednesday off from work, and they are able to make a mini-vacation out of the holiday. In the US some of the traditional activities include parades, football (watching on tv or playing), and, of course, shopping.

Many cities and towns hold parades. The biggest and best is the Macy’s Parade in NYC, which is televised live and streamed. Kids love the floats, and many parents and grandparents who accompany them reminisce of when they, themselves, attended as kids with their parents.

To many, the holiday is synonymous with football. Football games are played at every level, including pickup games, high school, college, and, of course, the NFL. The first TG professional football game was in 1920. For you trivia buffs, Akron beat Canton 7-0. The Detroit Lions have been hosting a TG football game since 1934. This year we will be treated to three NFL games Quiz question: Which is the only NFL team that has never played in a TG football game? See answer below.

No holiday celebration would be complete without shopping. The day after TG has become known as “Black Friday.” Many merchants open extra early and offer huge discounts. Some are beneficial while others are nothing more than “come-ons.” Be prepared for long lines, frustration and rude people.

As we enjoy the holiday, few of us will stop to think of its origins and meaning. What are they? Why is it celebrated at this time of the year? Read on for the answers.

Thanksgiving is a national holiday originally celebrated to give thanks for the year’s harvest. It has strong religious and cultural roots. Most people are aware that Thanksgiving is celebrated in the US (4th Thursday in November) and Canada (2nd Monday in October), but few of us are aware that variations of it are observed in other countries as well. In these other countries the holiday has a different meaning and purpose.

For example, in Grenada it is celebrated on October 25, and it marks the date on which the US invaded the island in 1983 in response to the removal and execution of Grenada’s then Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop. Liberia celebrates the holiday on the first Thursday of November, a tradition that was originated by freed American slaves that were transported there. In the Netherlands a Thanksgiving Day service is held on the morning of the US holiday. Its purpose is to commemorate the traditions of the Pilgrims, who resided in the city of Leiden for several years prior to their emigration to the New World. Japan celebrates a “Labor Thanksgiving Day” on November 23 to commemorate labor and production. It has its roots in the period of American occupation after WWII.

Like many of our customs and traditions, Thanksgiving is rooted in English traditions. These date from the English Reformation in the 16th century and the reign of King Henry VIII. Apparently, the Protestant clergy had determined that events of misfortune or good fortune were attributable to God. Thus, unexpected disasters, such as droughts, floods or plagues, were followed by “Days of Fasting.” On the other hand, fortuitous events, such as a good harvest or the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, which actually was largely attributable to storms off the English coast, were to be celebrated by “giving thanks” to Him.

The origin of the Canadian holiday is uncertain, but it is most commonly attributed to the English explorer Martin Frobisher. He had been exploring Northern Canada seeking the infamous and elusive Northwest Passage to Asia. He wanted to give thanks for his party having survived the numerous storms and icebergs it had encountered on the long journey from England. Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated as a statutory holiday in most jurisdictions of Canada.

Most people trace the American Thanksgiving holiday to 1621 in present-day Massachusetts (although some claim that there were earlier celebrations by the Spaniards in present-day Florida circa 1565 and in the colony of Virginia circa 1610). The Pilgrims and Puritans living in MA had enjoyed a bountiful harvest that year and wanted to give thanks. Their harvest had been partly attributable to assistance from Native Americans, so they invited them to share in their celebration. Records indicate that there were 90 Native Americans and 25 colonists in attendance. The actual date is uncertain, but it is believed to have been between September 21 and November 11.

Prior to 1942, Thanksgiving was not celebrated as an official national holiday. Rather, it was celebrated periodically by proclamation. For example, during the Revolutionary War the Continental Congress established days of “prayer, humiliation and thanksgiving” each year. In 1777 George Washington proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving to celebrate the colonists’ victory at Saratoga. Following independence, various Presidents continued the practice of issuing proclamations periodically.

In 1863 President Lincoln proclaimed a national “Thanksgiving Day” to be celebrated on the last Thursday of November. Historians believe that his action was prompted by a series of editorials written by Sarah Josepha Hale, a writer and editor of some renown. (She wrote the popular nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”).

The practice of annual Presidential Proclamations continued until 1939. That year, FDR broke the tradition. November had five Thursdays that year instead of the usual four. FDR figured that if the holiday were celebrated on the 4th Thursday it would provide a much-needed boost to the economy by enabling merchants to sell more goods before Christmas. (Even then, Thanksgiving was the unofficial start of the Christmas holiday shopping season.) Typically, this action precipitated a spat between the GOP and Dems in Congress. GOP congressmen viewed it as an insult to President Lincoln and continued to consider the last Thursday to be the holiday, so there were two Thanksgiving celebrations in 1939, 1940 and 1941, a “Democrat” one on the 4th Thursday and a “Republican” one on the last Thursday. The individual states split the dates (only in America!).

Finally, in 1941 everyone got in sync. On December 26, 1941 FDR signed a bill into law that decreed that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November, a practice that has continued to this day.

Beginning in 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented a live turkey to the President. Over the years it has become customary for the President to grant a “pardon” to a turkey. This year, President Biden pardoned two turkeys. According to the Washington Post their names were…..wait for it…..Chocolate and Chip. No comment.

Enjoy the holiday, and if you’re traveling stay safe!

Quiz answer: Jacksonville Jaguars


Few people in history are so recognizable that with the mere mention of their initials one instantly knows about whom you are talking. Such is the case with John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States. He flashed across our lives like a comet, brilliant but brief. He was only president for 1,000 days before he was assassinated, yet, even today, people remember him and recognize his name.

Tuesday, November 22, will mark the 59th anniversary of his assassination. Almost anyone over the age of 70 remembers vividly where they were and what they were doing when they first heard of it. For example, I, a freshman in college, was walking to a history class. (Yes, I did attend classes, even on a Friday afternoon.) I heard some other students talking about the President having been shot. I wasn’t sure I had heard correctly, but unfortunately, I had.

What was strange about the whole incident was the lack of reliable information. It wasn’t like today when news is known and disseminated instantaneously. It might be hard for you youngsters to believe, but there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no cell phones, no internet.

Communication between New York, where, at the time, all media communications were centered, and Dallas was sketchy. Even worse, Dealey Square, the site of the assassination, was not close to the addresses of the network news’ Dallas offices. Reporters on the scene had to communicate by public telephone, when they could find one. Often, competing reporters ended up sharing telephones. Information was incomplete and contradictory.

Eventually, however, we found out the horrible news. No one will ever forget the grim look on venerable CBS anchor Walter Cronkite’s face as he removed his glasses, stared into the camera, and told a shocked, confused and scared nation that the President was dead. At the time, Cronkite was “the most trusted man in America.” When we heard it from “Uncle Walter,” we knew it was true.

The purpose of this blog is not to relate the details of the day’s events, nor do I wish to get bogged down in the various conspiracy theories, some of which persist to this day. Many books have been written on the subject, and I can’t possibly cover these topics in a short blog. Suffice to say, it was a surreal experience. Many emotions swirled through my head – disbelief, denial, fear and uncertainty. Who did it? Why? Was it a single gunman or a conspiracy? Was it part of a larger plot? Would we go to war? These and other questions came to mind.

Most everyone was glued to their television sets for days while events played out – Lyndon Johnson sworn in as the 36th President of the US on Airforce 1, Jackie Kennedy standing beside him still in shock and wearing the blood and brain-stained pink suit she had been wearing in the limo (which, she had refused to remove, declaring “I want them to see what they have done”), Lee Harvey Oswald arrested, Oswald shot live on national tv while under police escort (How in the world did Jack Ruby get access to that corridor, anyway?), JKF’s funeral procession, the “riderless” horse, young John Jr’s salute. The assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy followed soon after. It was a time of chaos and uncertainty, the end of innocence.

JFK had won the Presidency by the narrowest of margins over Vice President Richard Nixon. He had received 49.7% of the popular vote to Nixon’s 49.5% and won several states by the slimmest of margins. In that relatively primitive era of communications the end result was not known until the next morning. In the wee hours, the networks “called” CA for JFK which finally made him the winner. (Ironically, Nixon ended up winning CA after all the absentee ballots were counted.) Many people, including a 15 year-old girl in Berwick, Pa., caught up in the drama, stayed up all night to await the results.

JFK was young, handsome, bright, vibrant, dynamic, scion of a famous and wealthy family, and a war hero. He and his beautiful, glamorous wife, Jackie, seemed like American royalty to many Americans. He gave us hope and optimism. In the eyes of his supporters he was the one to transform America. During his inaugural address he uttered the famous line that symbolized the great hope that he would lead us to “A New Frontier,” as his campaign had promised (“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”). Unfortunately, today, many people espouse the opposite philosophy.

JFK got off to a rocky start with the Bay of Pigs fiasco. But, he seemed to make up for it when he faced down the Russians and Premier Nikita Khrushchev in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Most of us did not realize how close we had come to nuclear war, but in the end Kennedy won that round and showed he was learning on the job. His administration was dubbed “Camelot” after the description of the mythical King Arthur’s court.

Unfortunately, Kennedy made a lot of powerful enemies. Many Republicans thought he had “stolen” the election (shades of 2020). Indeed, there had been whispers about voting irregularities, notably in Chicago, which had long been notorious for that sort of thing and where for many years it was said, only partly facetiously, that even dead people voted. However, in the end nothing came of that – no media exposes, no court challenges. Yes, times have certainly changed.

Many conservatives thought he was too soft on communism and too aggressive on civil rights issues. He had made powerful enemies among organized crime and at the FBI and CIA, among others. Fidel Castro hated him for the Bay of Pigs attack. On the other hand, many Cuban ex-Pats thought he had betrayed them by failing to intervene militarily to support the invasion when it fell apart. All in all, he had a plethora of powerful enemies with the motive, means, opportunity and funds to plan and execute a Presidential assassination and cover-up. In retrospect, one should not have been surprised.


A favorite speculation has been how American and world history would have been different had JFK not been assassinated. Would he have pulled us out of Viet Nam as has been speculated? If so, would there have been an antiwar movement in the 60’s with the attendant protests, turmoil and violence? Would MLK and RFK still have been assassinated? Would the civil rights movement have progressed differently, more peacefully? We will never know. There have been many books written about this topic, including one by Stephen King called “11/22/63” about a fictional time traveler who journeys back to 1963 to try to prevent the assassination, which makes fascinating “what if” reading.

Virtually the entire country became immersed in the assassination and its aftermath for weeks, if not months. My recollection is that the news networks covered it continuously. A cloud of conspiracy still hangs over the assassination nearly 60 years later. As I said, books have been written and movies produced dealing with the conspiracy theories. Did Oswald act alone? Was he tied to the KGB or the CIA? How did Ruby get close enough to kill Oswald from point-blank range? Was there an accomplice on the grassy knoll? Why was Ruby killed in prison? What of the roles, if any, of mobsters, like Sam Giancana, Head of the Chicago mob, and Carlos Marcello, Head of the New Orleans mob, as well as the CIA, the FBI, the Russians, and/or Castro? Were the Warren Commission’s findings accurate or part of a cover-up?

At this time, as we mark the passage of another anniversary of JFK’s assassination, we are reminded that these issues, and others, have still not been resolved to many Americans’ satisfaction. As time passes, it seems they probably never will be.

For you readers of a certain age, what are your memories of the assassination and its aftermath? Where were you when you heard the awful news? I would like to know.


The midterm elections are over (for the most part), and the people have spoken. What have we learned? What can we conclude? Read on for my opinion on the matter.

  1. The most significant takeaway is that today is November 14, six days after Election Day, and we still don’t have the final results of all the races. As I write this, there are 20 House seats that remain too close to call. Therefore, we do not know definitively which Party will control the House when all is said and done. Furthermore, in a couple of races only a little more than half of the votes have been counted. In addition, the Georgia Senate race will not be resolved until after the December 6 run-off (and the way things have been going, perhaps several days or weeks after that). Whether you are a Dem or a GOPer you have to wonder in this day and age of sophisticated computers how can this be? How is it that some states, such as FL, manage to tabulate some 450,000 votes in a matter of hours, and other states like NV, CA , and AZ, with considerably fewer votes cast, cannot do so in several days? This only used to happen in very rare situations. Now, it has become commonplace. The system is broken. This is totally unacceptable. We deserve better.
  2. The voting period is too long. In lieu of an “Election Day” we now have an elongated election period, which, in some cases, lasts several weeks. I concede that it may be an inconvenience for some people to vote on the actual ED, but I believe a shorter period is warranted. And, why can’t early ballots be tabulated as they are received instead of on or after ED?
  3. Most states’ procedures for mail-in voting need to be tightened up. Widespread mail-in voting may have been appropriate during the pandemic, but now its weaknesses have become apparent. For one thing, they need to find a way to verify the accuracy of the votes without laboriously checking every voter’s actual signature. Most people tend to scribble their signatures and vary them from time to time.
  4. Drop boxes and ballot harvesting should be eliminated. It’s too easy to cheat.
  5. Debates are critical for many reasons. States should not allow early voting until after at least one debate has occurred. More on this later.
  6. In retrospect, it became evident that the GOP had a more difficult task to win control of the Senate because it had to defend 20 of the 34 seats up for re-election.
  7. It appears that many people voted based on the candidate’s political party rather than on the issues. For instance, (a) crime has been a big issue in NYC. Virtually every day we see reports of random murders, assaults and rapes. During her campaign Governor Hochul was a big “crime denier.” Yet, not only did she win, she got over 90% of the vote in the Dem strongholds of NYC where there has been heavy crime. (b) The border has been a major issue in states such as TX and AZ. Biden’s policies have resulted in a flood of illegals entering the US. Yet, Dems such as AZ Senator Mark Kelley and TX representative Henry Cuellar, who have supported those policies, won their races handily. (c) In PA John Fetterman, who had a stroke, barely campaigned, opposes fracking, which is a critical industry in PA, is soft on crime, and can barely string two sentences together, won because he is a Dem. Incidentally, one of the determining factors in his race was the fact that the one debate between Oz and him came after several hundred thousand early votes had already been cast. (d) Best of all, in heavily “blue” Allegheny County, PA a dead person won re-election with 85% of the vote, undoubtedly because he was a Dem!
  8. Clearly, the Dems were more adept at navigating the various states’ election laws and procedures, particularly early voting. To their credit, they took full advantage, and the GOP did not. How was it that the GOP “missed the boat” on that?
  9. The GOP failed too allocate its campaign funds in the most efficient manner. For example, it wasted a significant amount on the Alaska Senate race and none to Senate races in NV and NH where the candidates lost close races..
  10. The much-balleyhooed “red wave” never materialized nationally. Other than in a few places, such Florida and Long Island, it was more like a red trickle. This went against historical precedent, particularly given that President Biden’s approval rating was so low, and the Dems seemed to be on the “wrong” side of the issues voters said they cared most about, such as inflation, gas prices, crime, and illegal immigration. Why? The most common post-election opinions I have seen ascribe it to abortion and Donald Trump. The Dems succeeded in convincing many voters that due to the recent Supreme Court ruling many GOPers were going to push to outlaw abortions nationally. This was pure fabrication, but many voters “fell” for it. Also, the Dems somehow convinced many voters that a vote for certain GOP candidates was akin to a vote for Trump, who remains very unpopular among Dems and some independents.


As I said, rightly or wrongly, the voters have spoken. They will get the government they wanted. A cynic might say they will also get the government they deserve. The question is will they be happy with the results. I think not. Already Dems are spinning that the election results are a reaffirmation of their policies. Therefore, things will not change, particularly if the GOP fails to win the House. The GOP, and the nation, missed a rare opportunity. Hopefully, I’m wrong, but I believe they will live to regret it.


This year, Veterans Day will be celebrated on Friday, November 11.  The holiday is always celebrated on the same date unless it falls on a Sunday, in which case it is celebrated on Monday, November 12.  This is a day on which we celebrate our living veterans as opposed to Memorial Day, which is reserved for those who gave their lives for our country.

Many cities will hold parades. Who doesn’t love a parade? The largest parade will be in NYC (where else?), which will be returning for its 103rd year. Some 200,000 participants are expected.

Federal offices will be closed, but state and local offices and other businesses may remain open.  There will be no mail; most banks and schools will be closed; but the financial markets will be open.  Many restaurants and golf courses offer special deals for veterans. 

Many of you have requested a quiz.  So, here it is, and in honor of Veterans Day it has a military theme. Good luck and no peeking at the internet. No consulting “Alexa” or “Siri.”

1. Who was the US president during the first war against the Barbary Pirates? (a) George Washington, (b) John Adams, (c) Thomas Jefferson, (d James Monroe

2. The WWI battle that inspired the poem “In Flanders Field” took place in (a) Ardennes, (b) Charleroi, (c) Gallipoli, (d) Ypres

3. Each of the following presidents had been renowned generals, EXCEPT: a) Teddy Roosevelt, (b) Andrew Jackson, (c) Zachary Taylor, (d) Franklyn Pierce

4. “Pickett’s Charge” was the turning point of what Civil War battle? (a) Bull Run, (b) Manassas, (c) Gettysburg, (d) Fredericksburg

5. The “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” refers to which Revolutionary War battle? (a) Boston, (b) Lexington, (c) Concord, (d) NY

6. Tripoli, the stronghold of the Barbary Pirates, was located in what present-day country? (a) Libya, (b) Algeria, (c) Tunisia, (d)Egypt

7. The Alamo is located in which city? (a) Houston, (b) San Antonio, (c) Austin, (d) Galveston

8. The US fought the Gulf War against (a) Iran, (b) Syria, (c) Kuwait, (d) Iraq

9. Who said “Damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead.” (a) David Farragut, (b) John Paul Jones, (c) Ethan Allen, (d) Jonathan Eli

10. Which war resulted in the highest number of casualties? (a) WWI, (b) WWII, (c) Korean War, (d) Civil War

11. Fort Sumter is located in which state? (a) North Carolina, (b) South Carolina, (c) Georgia, (d) Alabama

12. Custer’s Last Stand took place in which modern-day state? (a) North Dakota, (b) South Dakota, (c) Montana, (d) Idaho

13. Each of the following was a WWII battle in the Pacific theatre, EXCEPT (a) El Alamein, (b) Guadalcanal, (c) Okinawa, (d) Midway

14. Who was the US President during WWI? (a) Teddy Roosevelt, (b) Woodrow Wilson, (c) William Howard Taft, (d) Warren Harding

15. When General Douglas MacArthur said “I shall return,” to which country was he referring? (a) Australia, (b) New Guinea, (c) Guam, (d) Philippines

16. The Korean War began in (1) 1949, (b) 1950, (c) 1951, (d) 1952

17. Who was president during the Spanish-American War? (a) Grover Cleveland, (b) James Garfield, (c) Rutherford B. Hayes, (d) William McKinley

18. Where is Mt. Suribachi? (a) Iwo Jima, (b) Okinawa, (c) Tarawa, (d) Japan

19. Where is Vicksburg? (a) Alabama, (b) Louisiana, (c) Missouri, (d) Mississippi

20. When was the Veterans Administration founded? (a) 1870, (b) 1930, (c) 1950, (d) 1972

ANSWERS: 1. c; 2. d; 3. a; 4. c; 5. c; 6. a; 7. b; 8. d; 9. a; 10. d; (more than all the other wars combined. 11. b; 12. c; 13. a; 14. b; 15. d; 16. b; 17. d. 18. a; 19. d; 20. b.

Well, there you have it. Tell me how you did, well or (as my grandson used to say) “not so good.”

The Red Wave II

Finally, something both political parties are in agreement on. In my experience, they rarely, if ever, agree on anything, (It is said that if the sun were shining one party would insist that it is nighttime.), however, both agree that next week’s election will be critical for the future of America. Each has stated repeatedly that this election will decide what kind of America we will leave for our children and grandchildren. Each has maintained only they are equipped to lead us forward, and that a victory for the other side will result in the destruction of our way of life. (Politicians love hyperbole.)

On October 22 I published the blog “Red Wave,” which explained, in my view, the current status of our country and the reasons why, I believe, the GOP would crush the Dems in a “red wave” on ED. My opinion has not changed. If anything, it has been reinforced. All the momentum is with the GOP.

It seems very likely that the GOP will attain a majority in the House. The only question is how decisive will their victory be. (Bye-bye Nancy!) The Senate is more uncertain. We all know that, historically, polls have not always been reliable, but as I write this, the most current Trafalgar and Inside Advisor polls have identified several races that are either tied or within the margin of error. They include, for example, the Senate races in AZ, GA, NH, PA NV, NC, OH, and possibly CO and WA, and the governor’s races in AZ, MI, and NY. Most significantly, in all of the above cases the GOP has the momentum, which does not augur well for the Dems.

As we know, the GOP only needs a net gain of one seat to control the Senate. GOP supporters are very optimistic. For instance, former Speaker Newt Gingrich has predicted a net gain of 40 or more seats in the house and two or more in the Senate.

Dems are putting on a brave face, but the signs indicate they fear disaster is looming. Suddenly, we are seeing the “big guns,” notably former presidents Obama and Clinton, and “bad penny” Hillary crisscrossing the country in an 11th hour attempt to rally the base. Even President Biden has rousted himself from his bunker to lend a hand. Keep in mind, this is the same Biden who is so unpopular among the electorate that heretofore no candidate wanted him within a country mile of their campaign.

This strikes me as a sign of desperation. The Dems are especially panicking in NY. A few months ago the governor’s race seemed like a “lock.” Hochul was up over 20 points on Zeldin. But, Hochul, who has been running one of the worst campaigns in recent memory, has squandered that lead. The psychological impact of losing the governorship of solid blue NY, where registered Dems outnumber registered GOPers about 2:1, would be devastating to them, and they know it. Hence, we see the deployment of the “big dogs.”


As I have said, I believe that the so-called “red wave” is primarily attributable to the fact that the overwhelming majority of voters are worse off today than they were when Biden took office, and despite the Dems’ efforts to “spin” they know what they see and feel. They see it whenever they buy food or gas or clothes or pay for healthcare or pay the rent or mortgage. They see it when they get their financial statements with a diminished 401K or IRA balance. They feel unsafe due to rampant and random crime and an insecure border. They feel uneasy by the aggressiveness of our enemies, such as Russia, China and Iran, who are taking advantage of Biden’s weakness.

Worst of all, the Dems seem to be tone-deaf. They seem out of touch with the American public. They are focused on January 6, climate change, abortion and Donald Trump rather than the those issues that are most critical to most voters. They claim the border is “secure.” They claim inflation is “transitory” or non-existent. They blame high gas prices on Putin, or Trump, or the GOP. They deny the existence of soaring crime. They appear more sympathetic to the needs of illegal aliens rather than their own citizens. In summary, how can they solve the above problems when they won’t even acknowledge they exist?

In their desperation Dems and their supporters have resorted to insults, scare tactics and transparent lies. For example, the ladies on The View, always good for an inane quote or two, have characterized suburban women who vote for the GOP as “roaches.” (Let’s see, GOP supporters have been labeled as “undesirables,” “terrorists,” “racists,” “traitors,” “Nazis,” and now “roaches.” What’s next?) Longtime, Dem Representative Henry Cuellar predicted that if the GOP were to win America would devolve into “Nazi Germany” of the 1930s and 1940s. How insulting and inflammatory is that? Imagine if a GOP politician said that? Other Dems have stated that the GOP wants to end social security and Medicare. That is as transparent a lie as I have ever heard. No sane voter would believe that. No politician has ever or will ever advocate that. It would be political suicide. That just speaks to the level of Dem desperation.

To sum up, Americans are afraid. They don’t feel safe physically, economically, or socially. They perceive that the “American Dream” is slipping away, and their country is deteriorating before their very eyes. They worry what America their children and grandchildren will inherit. They want a change. They want to return to the America they knew. Luckily, in America we have the means to effect change. It’s called an election. On November 8 I expect voters will take the first step toward change. I expect a “red wave.”


My friend and loyal reader, Sonny, sent me most of the following sayings by famous people. I have supplemented it with the results of my own research. I found them amusing, but also containing an element of truth. I thought they would constitute a nice change of pace from the usual blogs I distribute. At the very least, at this time we could all use a little humor in our lives.

1. ” In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm,
and three or more is a congress.” — John Adams

2. “If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper you are
misinformed.” — Mark Twain

3. “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress. But, then I repeat
myself.” — Mark Twain

4. “I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and
trying to lift himself up by the handle.” — Winston Churchill

5. “A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” — George Bernard Shaw

6. “A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. ” — 
G Gordon Liddy

7. “Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.”
— Douglas Case, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University.

8. “Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense
of everybody else.” — Frederic Bastiat, French economist (1801-1850).

9. “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” (One of my favorites.) — Ronald Reagan (1986).

10. “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.” — Will Rogers

11. “In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one
party of the citizens to give to the other.” — Voltaire (1764)

12. “Talk is cheap, except when Congress does it.” — Anonymous

13. “The government is like a baby’s alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no
responsibility at the other.” — Ronald Reagan

14. “The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.”
— Mark Twain

15. “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything
you have.” — Thomas Jefferson

16. “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” — Nelson Mandela

17. “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” John Lennon

18. “You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.” — Anonymous

19. “What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.” — Anonymous

20. “The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from
somebody else.” — Anonymous

21. “You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.” — Anonymous

22. “When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work, because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation!” — Anonymous

23. “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Benjamin Franklin

24. “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

25. “You will face many defeats in life, but never let yourself be defeated.” Maya Angelou

26. “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” –Nelson Mandela

27. “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln

28. “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” Babe Ruth

29. “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Helen Keller

30. “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas A. Edison


I hope you enjoyed the foregoing. If so, there are plenty more.


On Monday, October 31, many of us will celebrate Halloween. We will dress up in costumes and attend parties. Children will go door-to-door “trick or treating.” Of course, some will use the holiday as an excuse to create mischief or even mayhem, but for most of us it will be a day of fun and games and an opportunity to gorge ourselves on candy. But, few, if any, of us will bother to stop and think about the origins of the holiday. When and where did it begin? How did it evolve? Why do we dress up in costumes? Why do we go “trick or treating?” Glad you asked. Read on.

The origin of Halloween is a Celtic holiday dedicated to the dead. Although the Celts were interspersed in many areas of Europe, they were concentrated in what is now, England, Ireland and Scotland. The Celts divided the year into four sections, each of which was marked by a major holiday. The beginning of the winter season was November 1, which was celebrated by a festival called “Samhein,” pronounced “Sah-ween,” which means “end of summer” in old Irish. The word “Halloween” can be traced back as far as 1745. It means “hallowed evening” or “holy evening.” It is derived from a Scottish term for “All Hallows Eve,” the evening before “All Hallows Day,” aka “All Saints Day.” Over time, the word “evening” was contracted to “e’en,” thus Halloween.

The Celts were a pagan people and very superstitious. They believed that the ghosts of those who had died during the year had not yet completed their journey to the “otherworld,” and at Samhein they were able to mingle with the living. Accordingly, to placate these ghosts and other spirits the Celts offered sacrifices and lit bonfires to aid them on their journey. It has been suggested that the origin of wearing costumes was to disguise oneself from any lost soul that might be seeking vengeance on the living before moving on the next world. Some, believing that the souls of those who had died recently were still wandering in a sort of purgatory, set a place for them at dinner. Many of these ancient traditions have persisted to this day in some locales.

In 601 Pope Gregory I issued an edict, the gist of which was that missionaries were to combine Christian holidays and festivals with existing pagan holidays and festivals and, hopefully, eventually supersede them. The ultimate objective was to foster the conversion of pagans to Christianity. As a result, All Saints Day, aka All Hallows Day, was moved to November 1 to coincide with Samhein.

By the end of the 12th century other Halloween traditions had developed. For example, the clergy would ring church bells for the souls stuck in purgatory; and “criers,” dressed in black, would parade through towns reminding the citizens to remember these poor souls. In about the 15th century people began to bake “soul cakes,” which are small round cakes, a practice called “souling,” which is believed to be a forerunner of “trick or treating.” Poor people would go door-to-door and collect these cakes in exchange for saying prayers for the dead. Interestingly, Shakespeare mentioned “souling” in “The Two Gentlemen of Varona” in 1593. Over time, celebrations of All Hallows Day began to include additional customs, such as “trick or treating,” lighting bonfires, attending costume parties, carving “jack-o’-lanterns, apple “bobbing,” and attending church services.

As mentioned above, it is believed that the practice of “trick-or-treating” was derived from “souling” or “mumming,” which is going house-to-house in disguise singing songs in exchange for food. This was believed to have originated in Scotland and Wales in the 16th century. Sometimes people would paint their faces and threaten mischief if they were not welcomed. This evolved into the customs of wearing costumes and playing pranks. Nocturnal pranksters needed illumination, hence the development of jack-o-lanterns. In England, people would fashion them out of turnips or mangel wurzels, which are large, thick roots suitable for carving. In America, pumpkins were used, because they were plentiful and better suited for carving anyway. Jack-o-lanterns are believed to frighten evil spirits. In France, people believed that the dead buried in cemeteries would rise up and participate in a wild carnival-like celebration known as the “Danse Macabre,” or “Dance of Death.”

“Trick or treating,” as such, is a relatively modern development. As I said, it is believed to have evolved from “souling” or “mumming.” The earliest mention of it in print was in 1927, and it did not become widespread until the 1930s in the US. Also, costuming has evolved. Popular fictional characters have been added to the traditional skeletons, ghosts and ghouls. Basically, now, anything goes. As I said celebrating the day is no longer exclusively limited to children. Many adults also wear costumes and attend Halloween parties.


At the present time, Halloween, like other holidays, has become highly commercialized. Selling costumes and other related paraphernalia has become big business. Several movie franchises, such as Halloween and Friday the 13th have become very popular, especially at this time of the year. The actress, Jamie Lee Curtis has made a career of starring in seven Halloween movies over the years beginning in 1978.

The original religious significance of the holiday has been eclipsed and forgotten by most people. Yes, some people still attend church, but many more attend parties. Many if not most people, especially children, know Halloween merely as a day to dress in costumes and go “trick or treating.” We do love our candy. Speaking of which, special kudos to my grandkids who, aware of my fondness for Snickers, remember to save a bar for me every year.

In the last few years, the “PC Police” have inserted themselves into the holiday. Some of them have maintained that certain costumes are “racist” and should be avoided. I think we can all agree that a Caucasian should not dress up in “blackface.” But, the PC Police go much further. They also disapprove of any costumes that could be perceived by anyone as mocking or derogatory. Some examples would likely include Disney’s Moana, Aztec Indians, Tom Thumb, or Pancho Villa, which, in their minds, could be objectionable to Polynesians, Indigenous People, short people (or should I say “vertically challenged?” I have trouble keeping up with all the PC buzzwords.), or Hispanics, respectively. I say, if your five year-old loves Moana and wants to dress up like her, go for it. Is that really being insensitive or racist? Really? Do the people who are marketing Moana costumes really expect to sell them only to Polynesians? I think not! To me, these objections are just another example of some people who want to dictate to others how to act and live.

Hopefully, after reading this blog you will have gained some knowledge of and perspective as to the origin and meaning of the holiday. Enjoy, and stay safe!