Monday, October 1, 2018

Editor's Corner


October 2018

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.” – Stanley Horowitz

Welcome to October, a month filled with family birthdays and a few memorials. What an excellent plan our seasons follow! Well, perhaps not as closely in Texas and parts of a few other states, but as a whole Autumn ushers in falling leaves along with the falling football players across the land.

The days becoming shorter, not only invoke song lyrics but a quickening of the step and perhaps one's heart as well. It is a glorious time of year and you can begin enjoying it by reading through the columns and poetry our authors have come up with this issue.

Bruce Clifford's poems are "I Don't Know Who I Am Anymore" and "Pilanesberg" for this issue. Bud Lemire has two poems, "Hazelnut" and "Golden Rod," with a lovely photo to illustrate the latter

John I. Blair sent five new poems for October. Here are the titles: "Table," "Equinox 2018," "Laugh Track," "A Better Story," and an addition to his Lunar poems, "I Looked on The Moon."

Our newest author Kimberly Marquette submitted a poem and a couple of song lyrics: "Kittens," "Old Rocking Chair," and "The Valley of Sorrow."
Remember that comments for our authors can be offered at the blog version of Pencil Stubs Online found at Be gracious with your encouragement as everyone appreciates feedback.

Marilyn Carnell discloses her early experiences in various jobs in her column "Sifoddling Along." Who can say but what her youthful employment didn't help form the person she is today.

Melinda Cohenour's "Armchair Genealogy" continues the historical record of the various Benedict Arnolds, focusing this month on that one known world wide at the Traitor, Benedict Arnold V.

Thomas F. O'Neill in his "Introspective," stresses how helpful using music in the classroom can be, illustrating with a personal You Tube link.

"Cooking with Rod" by Rod Cohenour has the right approach to the Fall weather, summoning a special recipe from his wife's repertoire: a Cheesy Ham Chowder. Judith Kroll aka Featherwind uses her essay titled "Precious Life" which mirrors our Judith's thoughts for her "On Trek" column.

Mattie Lennon's "Irish Eyes" named his column from 'Leghowney to NJ' and follows through with history and current plans for the Leghowney Hall plus several other items of literary interest.

LC Van Savage "Consider This." bemoans losing her dreamed of chance for a super-fan occasion, calling this "Burt and I."

Again we thank our webmaster Mike Craner without whose patience and expertise this ezine would not have been in its 21rst year. And speaking of years passing, he just celebrated his Birthday.

See you in November!!!

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
This issue appears in the ezine at and also in the blog with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

Armchair Genealogy

The Arnold Family - England to America
A Patriot and A Traitor – Cousins

      As promised, this month we shall explore the actual life of Benedict Arnold, his troubled efforts to recoup the family fortune and care for his mother and sister, and his eventual fate – how he became the most infamous of all American Revolutionaries – the Traitor.

      The parents of our subject, Benedict Arnold known throughout history as The Traitor, were Benedict Arnold III and his wife, Hannah Waterman King Arnold. From this union were born six children – four of whom would never live beyond their youth.

      The first-born son of this union between Benedict Arnold III and wife, Hannah Waterman King Arnold, was to have been the son to carry on the family name of Benedict Arnold IV. His early death, however, was the first tragic misfortune to befall this young couple. Born 15 Aug 1738, he succumbed to yellow fever the following year, his death recorded as 30 Apr 1739. It has been recorded that all the deaths in this family shown below were as a result of yellow fever, which ravaged Colonial America in numerous epidemics. The sad story of their loss of the remaining three of those four young children and the following death of their mother is told in the record of cemetery inscriptions upon gravestones in the Hale Collection of Cemetery Inscriptions and Newspaper Notices, 1629-1934, Connecticut:
* Arnold, Absolom King, son of Benedict & Hannah: died Oct. 22 1750, age 3 yrs, 6 mos., 18 days
* Arnold, Mary, daughter of Benedict & Hannah: died Sept. 10 1753, age 8 yrs, 3 mos.
* Arnold, Elizabeth, daughter of Benedict & Hannah: died Sept. 29 1753, age 3 yrs, 10 mos.
* Arnold, Hannah, wife of Capt. Benedict & daughter of John & Elizabeth Waterman, died Aug. 15, 1759, age 52 yrs.

      The toll these tragedies took upon the father of our Benedict V, known always as The Traitor, was almost immeasurable yet certainly comprehensible. To have such terrible tragedies hit one after the other took Benedict III from the role of supportive husband, proud father, and successful businessman to that of a forlorn, drunken failure. Of his six children, only two now remained: Benedict Arnold, the second son of this union so named, and his sister, Hannah who was the namesake of their now deceased mother. The thriving mercantile business founded by Benedict III was now heavily afloat, and rapidly sinking, in debt. The father was now the town drunk, frequently arrested for public drunkenness and public displays of unacceptable behavior. By 1761, the elder Benedict passed away, his reputation now so tarnished he was refused communion by his own church. An ignominious ending for a man once gifted, bright, successful, and rightfully expectant of a wonderful life.
Benedict Arnold V (the Traitor) as a young man.

      For Benedict, the son, this meant the end of his dreams of a bright future. A mere two years before the deaths of his four siblings, Benedict had been enrolled in a private school at the age of 10, a preparatory school whose brightest students were expected to successfully ascribe to Yale upon graduation. Now, only 14 years of age, he was forced to turn to his mother’s Lathrop family connections in order to support himself, his parents, and his sister, Hannah. The Lathrop family maintained a successful business in general merchandise, specializing in apothecary. Young Benedict was taken in as an apprentice who quickly gained the skills and professionalism to carry on the trade. (An often overlooked fact concerning Benedict Arnold is that he was a descendant, through his maternal grandmother of John Lothropp, a direct line ancestor of no less than six American presidents.)

      One can only imagine the potential for bitterness in young Benedict. Once welcomed in the homes of the most influential, upper crust families in Norwich, he was now apprenticed as the poor relation to his uncle’s and cousin’s business. It must have rankled. Yet, he took up his yoke, bent his back and made the best of the situation. Along the way, not only did he learn the trade – he learned the trade secrets and the ways and wise of the streets. For he became a street fighter, and a successful one at that, as well. He established a popular and profitable business as a bookseller and pharmacist in New Haven, Connecticut. His astute business sense permitted him to not only repay the loans made to him by his Lathrop relatives, but to pay back the outstanding debts incurred by his father on the family home. Within a year he had sold the old family homestead for a comely profit – a profit so substantial it permitted him to purchase, in a partnership, three sailing ships and establish his own trading enterprise.
   He then brought his sister Hannah to New Haven, made her his business manager in his apothecary trade and set about expanding his horizons. Benedict often sailed one of his own ships as he travelled from New Haven to Quebec and to the West Indies in pursuit of trade goods. Thus, we encounter one of the early signs of Benedict Arnold’s self-governance. In the course of establishing this trade business, the British Crown imposed upon the colonies two highly unpopular acts intended to extract for the King the profits being obtained by the colonists: The Sugar Act of 1764 and the Stamp Act of 1765. These two Acts imposed high taxation upon all goods sold, all papers created or used to transact business. The Acts were so unpopular they formed the basis for the Colonists’ early murmurs of rebellion.
   For Benedict, however, the Acts merely generated in him a personal rebellion – the intent to thrive in spite of all opposition. He simply resorted to smuggling. He joined forces with a secret organization known as the Sons of Liberty, a group of merchants and traders willing to oppose the law in concert and in defiance of the Crown. In spite of this, Benedict’s business was rapidly sinking in debt due not only to the taxation but to his inclination to live “high on the hog.” He enjoyed the good life – that early promise having been denied him by his father’s failures – and spent beyond his means. It would appear Benedict equated money with success and the degree of ostentation with reputation. From a compilation of published works concerning Benedict Arnold, Wikipedia reports:
“Arnold also faced financial ruin, falling £16,000 in debt, with creditors spreading rumors of his insolvency to the point where he took legal action against them. On the night of January 28, 1767, Arnold and members of his crew, watched by a crowd of Sons, roughed up a man suspected of attempting to inform authorities of Arnold's smuggling. Arnold was convicted of a disorderly conduct charge and fined the relatively small amount of 50 shillings; publicity of the case and widespread sympathy for his view probably contributed to the light sentence.”

   This early and personal rebellion against the Crown, the King, evidenced Benedict Arnold’s willingness to engage in civil disobedience in pursuit of his personal enrichment. Throughout his early years and later, as he engaged in his military career, this tendency would be prominent.
   About this time in his life, Benedict Arnold took a wife. It appears to have been an arrangement which benefitted him personally and financially:
“On February 22, 1767, Arnold married Margaret Mansfield, daughter of Samuel Mansfield, the sheriff of New Haven and a fellow member in the local Masonic Lodge. Their son Benedict was born the following year and was followed by brothers Richard in 1769 and Henry in 1772. Margaret died on June 19, 1775 while Arnold was at Fort Ticonderoga following its capture. The household was dominated by Arnold's sister Hannah, even while Margaret was alive. Arnold benefited from his relationship with Mansfield, who became a partner in his business and used his position as sheriff to shield him from creditors.”


      At the young age of 14, in 1755, Benedict Arnold first displayed his interest in joining the Army. His mother, still alive at that time, refused to permit him to do so. However, two years later, at the young age of 16, he did – indeed – march off to serve in the French-Indian War. His term of service in that endeavor was a mere 13 days and is colored by rumours he deserted his unit in early 1758. The entire tour with the Connecticut Militia lacks any element of glory, for not only were their engagements met with uncertain victories, their Indian allies engaged in atrocities which met with sanctions from the general public.

      In March of 1775, Arnold joined the Connecticut Colony militia, entering service as a Captain. His early strategic military moves brought him a certain degree of repute; however, as would occur repeatedly throughout his military career, Benedict would end this phase of his service as a result of a dispute over control. He had taken over Fort Ticonderoga when another militia force arrived and the officer in charge determined it was his duty to take command. Benedict resigned his Massachusetts commission and headed home. Unfortunately, it was on his way home he learned of the death just months earlier of his wife. An article in the Smithsonian Magazine touches upon the grief young Benedict felt:
“Upon returning from Lake Champlain to New Haven, he visited her grave with his three young sons at his side. Arnold’s letters to her prior to the Revolution had been filled with pleas for her to write more often, and his grief upon her death seems to have been almost overpowering. And yet, for someone of Arnold’s restless temperament, it was inconceivable to remain in New Haven with his sorrow. “An idle life under my present circumstances,” he explained, “would be but a lingering death.” After just three weeks, Arnold left his children under the care of his sister Hannah and was on his way back to Cambridge, where he hoped to bury his anguish in what he called “the public calamity.” Over the next three years—in Canada, on Lake Champlain, in Rhode Island and Connecticut and again in New York—he made himself indispensable to his commander in chief, George Washington, and the Revolutionary cause.”

      Sister Hannah, who had wielded control of the Arnold household even while Benedict’s first wife and mother of his first three sons yet lived, took up the role of house mistress and caretaker of his children in support of her brother in his grief. This freed Benedict to pursue his military career, his desire to assuage his forlorn lot directed to this end. He accepted General Washington’s request to resume his command. He suggested to Gen. Washington an invasion of British troops sequestered in Quebec City, a suggestion that bore fruit; however, he was bitterly disappointed when he was not given command of that invasion force. His many years in trade with Quebec made him singularly familiar with the city and its people. Soon thereafter, a second expedition was formed under his command. This attack was to move through the backwoods of Maine, equipped with 1,100 men and Arnold was granted control.

The Battle of Quebec (French: Bataille de Québec) was fought on December 31, 1775, between American Continental Army forces and the British defenders of Quebec City early in the American Revolutionary War. The battle was the first major defeat of the war for the Americans, and it came with heavy losses. General Richard Montgomery was killed, Benedict Arnold was wounded, and Daniel Morgan and more than 400 men were taken prisoner. The city's garrison, a motley assortment of regular troops and militia led by Quebec's provincial governor, General Guy Carleton, suffered a small number of casualties. Montgomery's army had captured Montreal on November 13, and early in December they joined a force led by Arnold, whose men had made an arduous trek through the wilderness of northern New England.

      This campaign would result in the first of three injuries to Benedict Arnold’s leg, a mixed bag of friendships and animosity that would eventually result in long range feuds with several powerful Continental officers. In fact, Benedict Arnold’s entire military career was peppered with his own bitter disappointment in slow recognition of what he believed to be his own outstanding brilliance, accusations of improprieties typically concerning either the use of his position to achieve personal monetary enrichment, or lack of proper oversight of funds, equipment, or arms. He developed a number of bitter enemies, one of which was John Brown, who was:
“a Revolutionary War officer, a state legislator, and a Berkshire County judge. He played key roles in the conquest of Fort Ticonderoga at the start of the war, during the American invasion of Canada in 1775-1776, and once again in 1777 during Lieutenant General John Burgoyne's invasion of the United States by way of Lake Champlain and the Hudson River. Brown was the first man to bring formal charges against Benedict Arnold, who was then a prominent American general.”

      It was John Brown who published a handbill which claimed of Benedict Arnold: "Money is this man's God, and to get enough of it he would sacrifice his country".

      In this vicious statement, we may well discern a truth that foretells Benedict Arnold’s ultimate treason against his country. For, after a shattered youth with all dreams destroyed, he would spend a lifetime in pursuit of the wealth his father’s downfall had denied him. Along with that, he would spurn even the slightest verbal criticism by physical, overpowering aggression against the naysayer. This tendency would both endear his troops to fierce loyalty and engender hatred among his military peers. Although lacking in particular height, his was a powerful and attractive physique. Handsome in an aristocratic manner, with aquiline nose, sharp features and a stocky yet flexible build, he carried himself with the air of the high born. For he was, indeed, the descendant of a family whose fame had graced two continents.

      Benedict Arnold’s desire to regain the reputation lost by virtue of his father’s improvident drunkenness and squandering of the family wealth seemed to goad him into a perpetual show of riches, flirting with financial disaster, and driving him to finagle and manipulate in order to enrich his coffers.

      Historians far more prescient than your author regarding the many factors at play with Benedict Arnold, the history of his military exploits and disappointments, his posturing for the upper crust of society, his courting of beautiful, rich young women have described a complex set of circumstances that drove a man destined to greatness in American history to commit high treason against his own country. For, Benedict Arnold’s name has become not a tribute to an American hero but the very definition of the term “Traitor.”

      Next month, we will look at the many factors at play in Benedict Arnold V’s personal life and military career that turned him from potential greatness in American and world history to become America’s most famous traitor. We will also explore the known distant relation this man has to our family line and the possibility that relationship is even more complex.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Sifoddling Along


Working Girl

      Don’t be fooled by the title. It is a story of jobs I had in my youth.

      In my family, you were expected to work at more than your school lessons. I first picked strawberries when I was 6 years old. Strawberries were a big cash crop when I was growing up and we got out of school in mid-May so that children could help with the harvest. Child labor was not an issue in the Ozarks in the late 1940’s. I think I got 4 cents a quart and the most I ever picked was a crate in a day. That was 24 quarts or 36 cents. It seemed like a lot to me as an ice cream cone was 5 cents and a ticket to the movie matinee was a dime. Besides I spent time with my friends who were also picking and must admit that I ate many luscious berries which might account for my low productivity. Mom packed me a lunch and it was wonderful. A boloney (bologna) sandwich on white bread with Miracle Whip and a piece of lettuce. Tomatoes didn’t come on until later in the summer. I could hardly wait for the lunch break. You can work up quite an appetite doing stoop labor. I picked berries every spring until I was about 12. No more paid work until I was 15.

      I was first hired to sit with a very old, ill woman who was from a family that my parents knew. It didn’t last very long to my great relief. It was very boring when my only job was to check and see if she was still breathing. Then I got a job at one of the two local drug stores. Hall Drugs was a real drug store. Mr. Hall concocted medicines in the back room. I don’t know what they were as I didn’t take any. Bonnie Belle had sodas and ice cream but also sold BEER in the rear of her store. Many children were not allowed to go there.

      But back to Hall’s Drug. There was a long soda counter and four or five small round wooden tables with matching chairs make of wood and bent wire. You may have never seen furniture like that, but it was common in ice cream parlors at the time. I made Coca Colas from simple syrup (made by Mrs. Hall) and Coke syrup – both poured from glass gallon jugs into the containers with hand pumps to dispense the ounce or so of each of the syrups and then ice and carbonated water added. A quick stir and Shazam! a Coke. I could also make flavored Cokes. Lemon, cherry, strawberry, even chocolate syrups could be added for variety and individual tastes. I tried them all.

      Ice cream cones were very popular and there were about 6 flavors from which to choose. Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry were the basics but there were other more exotic kinds like butter brickle, spumoni, lemon or black walnut. The latter is still made by Braum’s Ice Cream company in Oklahoma and sold in the region. I try to buy a cone when I go back to visit the area. I ate a lot of ice cream that summer and the only thing that kept me from gaining weight was walking to and from work and swimming at least an hour a day in the creek. In addition to Cokes, I made milkshakes and malts, ice cream floats and sundaes. Other merchandise included comic books (I got to take home any that were out of date and had the cover torn off – a perk.)

      The Hall’s were wonderful to me and taught me how to work with the public. My summer there was not without mishaps. A woman I knew asked me to help her find a product. I loudly said, I don’t think we have any ____. My Aunt Etta was in the store at the time and quickly took me aside and told me that it was a personal product and I should be quiet. I had never heard of birth control at the time, much less a product for it.

      The next spring I got a job at The Cove cafe in Lanagan about 3 miles from Pineville. The Brune family had built an amazing business around the best fried chicken in the area. My friend, Barbara also worked there and she taught me the ropes. She carefully explained that the vinegar and oil “crooks” (cruets) and salt, pepper and sugar containers at the center of each table was to be kept scrupulously clean, to serve from the left and clear from the right and other waitress skills.

      I learned to like a grilled cheese and ham sandwich, a glass of buttermilk and pecan pie a la mode for lunch or dinner; whichever meal I worked. I got to eat other things as well, but that was a favorite. Most of the owner’s family was nice, but Mrs. Brune was a terror. One of the waitresses chose a passive-aggressive way to fight back. She would lick the spoon before setting the place for Mrs. Brune. I was shocked (and impressed) by her actions.

      The summer of 1958 I got a waitress job at Ginger Blue a popular resort also in Lanagan, but about a mile further away from Pineville. We had two cars, but Mom sacrificed hers for the summer so that I could drive to work. My waitressing job could not exist today, but in 1958 there seems to have been no problem. My hours were from 7 am to 2 pm. Up at six and dressed in my white nylon uniform and a black apron, I served breakfast and lunch to the guests. I was off from 2 pm until 5 pm. (During that time I swam in the resort pool for about an hour and then took a nap in a cottage they provided for the help. I changed into the dinner uniform: dark gray nylon and a sparkling white apron. I served dinner from 5 pm until 10 pm. The resort could not serve liquor by the drink, but we sold a lot of set ups for the BYOB crowd. Sometimes from 2 to 5 there were bridge club meetings. My take was that when I was old, I hoped I could avoid having purple hair, red fingernails and only bridge to occupy my mind. I think I have done fairly well with that resolve.

      The food at Ginger Blue was excellent. All cooked from scratch and local foods were emphasized. I remember that country ham with black eye gravy, fried catfish, trout (that I boned at the table) and prime rib au jus were the most popular items. I could carry 7 salads in wood bowls balanced on my arm and serve them properly from the left. The waitresses (there were four of us. Three middle aged women who worked every summer and collected unemployment in the winter and me.)

      Ginger Blue was charming and similar to the old hotels in the east like the Catskills or Poconos. The same people came for one to two weeks every year. It was furnished with authentic antiques, had live organ music every night and customers loved to sip their bourbon and branch water sitting on the long porch overlooking Elk River. There were many amenities for the guests – swimming pool, tennis courts, a riding stable and canoes. The nearby small towns offered movie theaters, dancing and “bucket of blood” bars. Something for all tastes.

      I worked at Ginger Blue for four summers and earned enough money to buy clothes, books and an occasional treat during each following college year. I was paid 50 cents an hour plus tips, worked 7 days a week with the hours listed above. It wasn’t a hardship, I didn’t mind working hard and being busy. During the school years I worked at college jobs. At Stephens I was a waitress in the dining room. At the University of Missouri, I worked for a while in the Meat Lab measuring the size of boar meat pork chops. After being groped by a male staff member, I quit and got a job at the MU Med center as a food service supervisor. One year I ran a little short. I wrote my parents that I needed $10. The next week I got a check for $10 from my Daddy. The note said, “Enclosed check. Love, Pater” as he signed the few notes he wrote to me over the years.

      The next year I graduated from the University of Missouri with a B.S. in Home Economics with an emphasis on nutrition. Ginger Blue became a distant memory as I embarked on a career as a dietitian and food scientist. Those years were also filled with work, but much more conventional than my early jobs.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Irish Eyes

The stage but echoes back the public voice.
The drama’s laws the drama’s patrons give,
 For we that live to please, must please to live.
(Prologue spoken, by Samuel Johnson, at the opening of the theatre in Drury Lane in 1747.)
  One hundred and ninety years later a new hall was opened in the north west corner of Ireland, in Leghowney. Where is Leghowney?  According to a local publication it’s,“ A Townland outside Donegal Town. Green hills and bumpy roads wind across it from Clogher to Aughlim and on up the 'Whinney Lane'; the streets have no names but every house is known - from Boyles' to Cassidy's, Hone's and a few other delightful neighbours. The craic fills the air in Leghowney's local, thriving community centre.”
    Up to 1937 barns and schools were the only venues  for functions  such as drama, dances and concerts, which was the only entertainment at that time.  At the time house dances were also a very important part of the Local Community. In every house there was an instrument: a fiddle, an accordion, mouth organ or tin whistle.
     The Free State government introduced the House Dance Act of 1935 which banned dances , dancers and musicians. You had to get a licence to hold a dance even in your own house. They came up with a moral argument against dancing and ….if you don’t mind . . a sanitary facilities argument. But as one commentator said, at the time, “the Government don’t care if you make your water down the chimney as long as they get their money.” BUT A breach of the law could result in a court appearance and penalty.
   With a big population of young people around the area and most of them were able to entertain. It was talked about at these house parties that a hall should be built in the Leghowney area.
   A final decision was taken at a meeting in Edward Traver’s Barn in January 1937 that a hall would be built and a committee was set up, a site acquired in Aughlim in Ned Gillespie’s field and for some unknown reason this site was not built on. The location was to be changed to a field belonging to Edward Murphy.

   Building work started in June of 1937 and the famous Leghowney Hall was opened on the 11th of November 1937. The site for the Hall cost 5 pounds and the structure of tin and timber cost 400 pounds.  The Leghowney  Drama Group first came together in the Autumn of 1937 to begin to learn and rehearse what was to be their first ever production, a three act play ''Pike O' Callaghan'', by English playwright Wybert Reeve. It was staged to a full house in the new hall on 28th December 1937.

    Now, more than four score years later Leghowney Dram Club, one of the longest established amateur drama groups in Ireland, is bringing its production of a " Wake in the West" to Cresskill, New Jersey on October 27th & 28th,  to benefit The American Special Children's Pilgrimage Group (ASCPG).  Leghowney Drama has survived recessions, emigration & other social challenges,  All actors are drawn from the local community and their dedication and commitment are rewarded with packed houses at every  performance.    A Wake in the West,  comedy written by Mulranny man Michael Joe Ginnelly has been playing to full houses at home. When I contacted the playwright he humbly told me , “I'm a small farmer, three quarters of a century old, hanging on here by my finger nails, trying to keep the old homestead going.   I don't regard myself as a writer, just a scribbler really, don't even bother to try and get published. How 'The Wake' has been such a success is a mystery to me as I only wrote it for the local area. At the time funeral homes were springing up all over the place and I was afeared young people might not know what went on at wakes especially if it were an elderly person. I have written other plays, all comedies. Couldn't write a serious line to save my life, the way I'm wired up I suppose.”
   I don’t know how Michael Joe was wired but even if he was wired by a plumber his “Wake” is literally sweeping the boards nationwide.
At about the same time as the Leghowney Drama Group was set up, the late Anew McMaster said: "The preservation of the theatre has passed from the hands of the professional to the amateur." One need not look further than Leghowney  (or New Jersey!)  to see how true this is.
80 years ago Leghowney Hall was little more than a corrugated shed with only gas lighting and oil lamps to read the scripts. Heating was scarce with just a little solid fuel stove to provide some warmth.
Full History of Leghowney Hall, Drama group is available on their website
                                     BLESSINGTON IS TWINNED WITH O’NEILL CITY
   John O’Neill was born in Drumgallon, Co. Monaghan, on the 9th of March 1834 to John and Mary O'Neill.  His father died of scarlet fever, six weeks before young John was born.
His mother, unable to eke out a living in Ireland and fearful for her children's survival, emigrated to the United States in the latter part of 1835 with two of her children and settled in Elizabeth, New Jersey. John stayed behind with his grandfather,   In December of 1848, at age 14, John left Ireland to join his mother and siblings in the United States where he completed his formal education.  His first job was with a Catholic publishing company as a sales representative  and a number of years on the road he settled in Richmond Virginia, where in 1855  he opened a bookstore.
He joined the local branch of the Emmet Monument Association the aim of which  was to provide military training to young men who  would use their training to rid Ireland of  English rule.
In 1857 he sold the bookstore and enlisted  in the Second United States Dragoons but disillusioned with the lack of action, O'Neill went AWOL and headed west to San Francisco where he spent the next few years.   While living there O'Neill met his future wife Mary Ann Crowe,  an Australian of Irish parents. In 1859, having second thoughts about his desertion from the Dragons he turned himself in and, fortunately for him, was returned to duty without trial.  
At the onset of the Civil War in 1861, he was stationed in San Francisco with the 1st United States Cavalry, formerly the Second United States Dragoons.  He returned to the east coast with his regiment who had volunteered for action in the Union Army. In March through July of 1862 the regiment was engaged in the battles of the Peninsular Campaign launched by the Union army in an attempt to circumvent the Confederate Army in northern Virginia and capture Richmond the Confederate Capital.  On June 27, at the battle of Caines Mill,  O'Neill was promoted from sergeant to the rank of second lieutenant for gallantry   He volunteered for service in the Union Army and served as an officer in numerous regiments during the Civil War.

   This veteran of the American Civil War had the rank of  "general,"  bestowed on him by admirers because he commanded three Fenian incursions into British-governed Canada, first directed colonists in 1874 to this fertile Elkhorn Valley site which bears his name. General O'Neill also induced other Irish groups to settle at Atkinson in Holt County and in Greeley County. Knowing the agricultural heritage of his people,  he said his object in founding Nebraska colonies was "to encourage poor people in getting away from the overcrowded cities of the East."
   The Irish were a major immigrant group contributing to the settlement of Nebraska. Speaking the English language, they blended into the population and were found in many communities. However, due to ancient animosities with Britain, some of them colonized in America. Foremost colony in this state is O'Neill, proclaimed the Irish Capital of Nebraska by the Governor in 1969.
   O'Neill's real historical significance arises from his service, beginning in 1866, with the Fenian Organization, whose stated goal was to create and support an Irish state independent from British rule. In 1876, O'Neill summarized his feelings with the following statement: "I have always believed in striking at England wherever we could reach her, and wherever the English flag floats and the English government is recognized and there are English soldiers in arms to defend the flag and maintain the government I hold that the Irish people, particularly the Irish Exiles whom her oppressive laws have driven from their native land, have a right to go there and make war on England."
   On June 1, 1866, O'Neill led a Fenian invasion of Canada with the goal of using occupied territory as a bargaining point for Irish freedom. The invasions would ultimately fail to achieve their stated goals and O'Neill was arrested by United States Marshalls upon returning to the United States.
   John  O'Neill, the boy from  Drumgallon, led the establishment of Irish "colonies" within the United States. The first Irish colony in Nebraska was set up in Holt County in the town that bears his name today - O'Neill City, Nebraska.  O'Neill died on January 8, 1878, and was buried in Omaha, Nebraska.

   On October 28, 1919, the O'Neill gravesite monument was dedicated with an address by E.H. Whelan. Present for the unveiling was Eamon de Valera, President of the Republic of Ireland. On this day, the following inscription on the monument was presented:

Gen. John O'Neill
Hero of Ridgeway
Born in Ireland
March 9, 1843
Died at Omaha
January 8, 1878
By nature a brave man.
By principle a soldier of
liberty he fought with
distinction for his adopted
country and was ever ready
to draw his sword for his
native land.
To perpetuate his memory
this monument was erected
by the Irish nationalists.
God save Ireland.

O’Neill City is now being twinned with Blessington where his  descendent , Wicklow County Councillor,  Gerard O ‘Neill now lives.

   John Moriarty was a Kerry  man on whom it would be difficult to put a label. Poet Paul Durkin described  this man of many parts as, “ . . .  Ireland’s most outstanding philosopher-theologian since Bishop Berkeley in the eighteenth century.”   Another writer described him as,  “A missionary in the tradition of the early Irish monks.”
    John, whom many described as a mystic, was born in North Kerry in 1938 and educated at Listowel and University College Dublin. He taught English Literature at the University of Manitoba in Canada for six years, and returned to Ireland in 1971. 

    Eist has now brought out a 4 CD set of John’s talks  Celtic Spirituality in which he  explains, in layman’s language what he calls “other dimensions of reality.” Several times in the course of those talks he reminds of how we tend to ignore our spiritual side.  He emphasizes how unfortunate it is that, “ Our eyes become economic brain tumours.”   In this series of talks, which were recorded in Glendalough, brings the listener on a spiritual journey  in which the north Kerry habit of describing a woman as ,”a fine mare” is linked to the Hindu approach to the female.  An inebriated Gaelic speaker, in Conemara, who couldn’t pronounce “W” in English, lost his bearings one dark night and asked John, “Fare the f*ck are we”? What other theologian could use that story to illustrate how we are losing our way spiritually?   Even the sentence structure of the Healy-Rayes  is worked into  the  mix. This CD set is a must.
Details of Celtic Spirituality can be found at    also a list of recordings of talks, made by Eist, at the World Meeting of Families in the RDS in August.
See you in November. 

Consider This

Burt and I

      Well, Burt Reynolds has left us, and I never got the chance to go out with him as I’d hoped. A simple dinner was all I wanted, just to joke around with him, to hear his weird high-pitched laughter, to hear him tell me all his secrets, to discuss the famous folk he hung around with, to tell me what Johnny Carson was really like.

      For six decades I have been very happily married to the man I call “Mongo” in this column, but hey, even though I’ve never mentioned it because I don’t especially want to hear the answer, I’ll wager Mongo has also wondered from time to time what it would have been like for him to go out on a date with--- you’re right, I don’t want to know.

      But Burt Reynolds? That’s different. The man just oozed sex appeal, am I right? He knew it, I knew it and every woman of any age up to 105 who had the slightest flicker of the breath of life in her body knew it. Man oh man, the guy dripped with it. He wasn’t a sex symbol. He was just flat out sexy.

      One of the truly nice things about Burt, (and yes, I get to call him “Burt,”) was the way he made fun of himself, knew his fabulous good looks might fade one day (oh, they just so didn’t), he loved it when people, men in particular, mocked him about his appearance (he knew they were jealous) and it was all good. He appeared to not take himself too terribly seriously, although lots of women surely did.

      And what’s with all that twaddle about his hair? Did he wear a toupee? Who cares? BR (yes, I get to call him “BR”) could have worn a bag of cold oatmeal on his head and he would still have looked fabulous. He just could not help it; the Gods of Exceptionally Good Looks had smiled down on baby Burt when he was born. It was hardly a curse. But a hair piece? So what? Why does that matter? Do you wear things to enhance your good looks? You do? So why shouldn’t BR been allowed to wear whatever he wanted, on his head or on his body, if he thought it made him look good… and actually everything did.

      Oh, and speaking of that body, let’s talk about that centerfold. OMG!! Those of you who saw that had to have been pretty impressed, so let’s not do the fake “Oh, I’m so shocked!” thing. Especially not in this era when seeing people in the buff on magazine covers, in every movie except perhaps “Lassie Come Home” and “Mary Poppins,” in every art gallery and sitcom, is commonplace. And it wasn’t exactly not done back in 1972 when our boy consented to lie down on his right side for a risqué, slick, letitallhangout magazine called “Cosmopolitan,” or “Cosmo” to those of us of the hip persuasion, as I certainly was and actually still am. There he lay, hairy, laughing, his left arm and wrist strategically placed over his more interesting aspects. A small cigar was between his grinning lips, and he lay on a bear skin rug. Oh, sigh, lucky, lucky bear. Talk about being a god! Wowzer! Finally, as males had always cut out centerfolds of impossibly perfect women in Playboy to hang all over their rooms and work areas, now females finally had something they too could cut out of a centerfold. There it was, in “Cosmo” and they could hang that iconic photo all over their boudoirs and --- well anywhere they pleased. I well recall many of those well-hung centerfolds with that left arm/wrist thing being replaced rather creatively with pictures of ---well, figure it out. For women finally having their own centerfold cut out, well, it was some kinda liberating!

      Burt Reynolds was born in Michigan in 1936, two years before I was born, although we weren’t exactly contemporaries. He started out hoping to be a football player and seemed content to do that for a career, but luckily for us, he was injured and went to New York to become an actor. Odd how some football players make fabulous actors, but that’s another column. Because of his natural strength and athleticism, he did all his own stunts in his roles, and landed parts in lots of plays and TV productions, mostly in Westerns and cop shows, and then came probably his best role as Lewis, in “Deliverance.” I still can’t drive through strange forests or near strange lakes without thinking about that film and hearing dueling banjos in the distance. Chilling. He was awfully good in that movie but also good in his “Smoky and the Bandit” films, careening and screeching about in his black Trans Am with Sally Field, who he always said was the “love of his life.” Alas, after a couple of years they decided to go their separate ways. Hey Sally? What were you thinking?? Instead, in 1988 he married Loni Anderson, a beyond gorgeous and really very funny actress. They adopted a son and named him Quinton Anderson Reynolds. Imagine having Burt Reynolds as a father! But apparently, he was a good one and Quinton became the real love of Burt’s life, always referring to him as his “greatest achievement.” Father and son became very close over their years together.

      When Burt became a little too long in the tooth to act the testosterone fueled superdude, he continued working in older-but-still-enormously-sexy roles, always looking terrific, still the self-deprecating rogue, probably very good company, full of humor and bad boyness, still lovable even behind those rose-colored glasses he wore. Burt Reynolds was 82 when death came for him last week, way too soon. He’d had heart trouble. He also gave it, ---sorry.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Cooking with Rod

It’s Fall and Time for Soups and Chowders!

The air is cooler, the breezes are rattling the leaves on the trees, and the nights may be downright chilly! Yessir, folks, it is time to turn our thoughts to tummy-filling, mouth-watering, yummy good soups, casseroles, and chowders. You know chowder, right? That twist on soup that is always creamier, may be cheesier, but is thick with good STUFF. For this, you just can’t beat my better half’s touch. She can whip up a pot of chowder that will leave you wanting the recipe before you finish that first bowl. Well, here is one of her best. Just after serving a nice big ham, you should NEVER discard the bone and the little stubborn tidbits that stick to it – hard to carve off. Miss Melindy’s got the solution and here it is…

Bon appetit~!


September 2006

Meaty ham bone
Water to easily submerge bone
Reserved ham chunks to add to soup

4 Irish potatoes – peeled and sliced in ½” thick slices
3 carrots – peeled and sliced in ½” slices
3 spines celery – de-stringed, sliced lengthwise and finely chopped
1 large Bermuda or Spanish onion, sliced and diced
Pepper to taste
Celery salt – scarce ¼ teaspoon for this quantity

1 cup butter
1 cup flour
Pepper to taste
2 cups milk
Shredded cheese, preferably Cheddar – Monterrey Jack blend – full 8 oz bag for this quantity chowder.

1 can corn, drained
2 Tbsp dried parsley (less for fresh)

Prepare ham stock:
Simmer ham bone in water until tender and stock looks hearty. Remove ham bone, cool until capable of being safely handled. Remove ham from bone and cut in ¾ “ chunks. Stock should be poured into tall, narrow pitcher and refrigerated until fat rises to top and congeals. Remove fat.

Prepare chowder vegetables:
When stock has been de-fatted, pour into bottom of large Dutch oven and add sliced and chopped vegetables. Cover, bring to boil, reduce heat and cook until vegetables are crisp tender.

Prepare classic béchamel sauce: When chowder vegetables are cooked, prepare cheese sauce. Place butter in sauce pan and melt. When butter is completely melted, whisk in flour, season with pepper and dash celery salt. Permit to cook 1 minute while stirring to prevent scorching. This prepares the roux and rids the flour mixture of its “raw” taste. Begin adding milk slowly, whisking while adding. Bring mixture back to boil, stirring constantly. Do not permit to scorch. When béchamel sauce has thickened, remove from heat, add cheese and whisk briskly. This creates a thickened cheese sauce.

Add the cheese sauce to the hot stock and vegetables. Add the cubed ham, can of drained corn and parsley, then taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Stir until liquid is evenly velvety.

Serve hot with crisp salad, hot bread and fresh fruit for dessert. Serves 12 easily. To prepare for four reduce ingredient list as appropriate.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.



      When I was an ESL teacher in China I often taught my students with music.

      Many of my students enjoy English songs and the lyrics of the songs can be a great tool for learning new vocabulary words.

      Here is a link of me singing Imagine by John Lennon at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School in Suzhou, China. Thomas F O'Neill singing Imagine at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School in Suzhou, Chin

Thomas F O'Neill singing the song Imagine at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School in Suzhou, China.
    Always with love,
    Thomas F O’Neill
    Phone: (800) 272-6464
    WeChat - Thomas_F_ONeill
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Facebook: https:/

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

On Trek


Precious Life

      It is Lilac time in the Cascades. The scent is surround smell. Waking up holding on to that first cup of coffee, the aroma swirling around and nudging our senses open.

      A whiff of lilac takes you on a journey of gratefulness. Grateful to be alive, to be aware, to become one with all.

      Surround sound of birds captivates the morning stillness echoing harmonically their joyfulness. Feel their joy along with them. Breathe the vibrations.

      Embrace the soft spellbinding breeze,watch the sun tiptoe thru the universe on it’s way to caress your face and penetrate to your soul warm healing energy.

      What a start to another precious day of life on planet earth. Hold that moment in time, a gift for you from the Universe. Judith 5/21/18

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Golden Rod

Golden Rod is strongly in the air once more
Behind my eyes, in my head, making me feel sore
Why do you pick on me, Golden Rod
Making me feel sore, on all parts of my bod

 Down there by the water, I didn't know that was you
In fact I didn't realize, all the things that you could do
You're nasty, and got my eyes a itching
I don't mean to be doing this bitching

There's rag weed, and so much more
Making my nose run, and my eyes sore
I take a pill for allergies, every day
Hoping they can keep, the allergies away

By the time night comes upon me
My eyes itch and water, and it's hard to see
Sometimes I'm blowing my nose so much
It gets very sore, and is hard to touch

One time there was Golden Rod, in a picture that I took
When I'm in the kitchen, I sneeze when I cook
Be careful of Golden Rod, you have allergies
Grab a tissue or hanky, because you'll start to sneeze
© Aug 22, 2018 Bud Lemire
                         Author Note:
I never realized all the sneezing that Golden Rod can cause.
But it could be other things around here as well that is a
combination and causing me to sneeze. Achoo! Yes, it's
that time again.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


I’m sitting at a table
Filled with all the folk
I’ve ever known.

My Father’s there,
My Mother,
Wife, Brother,
Aunts and uncles,
Cousins, friends,
Neighbors and

At the misty ends
I faintly see
A host
I’ve never met.

We laugh and chat
About our years,
About each other,
Life, death,
The Earth, the Universe.

This conversation
Has been going on
It’s going on
Right now.

This I think
Is how Eternity

©2018 John I. Blair 9/22/2018

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

The Valley of Sorrow

The valley of sorrow is deep dark and cold
Though I was young, the pain made me old
My laughter was silenced
My heart weighed like a stone
The tears I cried could fill a raging river
I wondered why
Felt like I wondered alone

Remember it takes two mountains, for a valley to be
It's this simple truth God whispered to me
It takes lots of courage
Lots of help from above
But if you keep on believing and you never give up
You'll find yourself back on a mountain of love

If we picked the path of our own lives
We would always choose the easy road
Sail the smoothest waters
Carry the lightest load

But it was down in that dark valley
I learned of joy through despair
I heard the beauty of laughter
In the silence found there

It's a long hard climb
Sometimes I feel I can't win
When I'm down in that valley I have just one prayer
God give me the strength to climb the mountain again

©Late 1990's Kimberly Marquette

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


I love to travel back in my memory, to when I was a kid
And think of all the things, that as kids we did
One was picking Hazelnuts, at Pioneer Trail Park one day
You had to wear gloves, to keep their bristles away
They were on the outside of the Hazelnut, when you pick
They'd get all over your hand, and they sure would stick
Pull off the green skin with the pickers, and the nut was there
It tasted so very good, you almost didn't want to share

Yet there were enough Hazelnuts, to go around
Some of them were seen, lying on the ground
Corylus Cornuta, or the Beaked Hazelnut as it is known
Looks like a beak or horn, wherever it is grown

It prefers the sun, yet tolerates some shade
It's taste is so great, you really have it made
It's a shrub, that grows close to 10 feet
All I know for sure is, they sure are good to eat

Depending on where you are, the nuts will be large or small
But if you're nutty like me, you will love them all
There are two kinds of Hazelnuts, The American and the Beaked kind
They are also widespread in Europe and Asia, you will find

Some call them Filberts, or the Cob Nut as well
You find them with the Mixed Nuts, and they always sell
It was the Beaked Hazelnut, that we had around here
We'd peel the husk off, grinning ear to ear
We'd wear gloves, so those picky hairs wouldn't get on either hand
This was a wonderful childhood memory, I thought it was grand
©Sept 5, 2018 Bud Lemire
                      Author Note:
Back in the 60's, Dad would take us way in back of Pioneer Trail Park
and they had the Beaked Hazelnuts there. We'd wear gloves and pick
them. Bring them home, and sit on the back porch peeling them.
Many times we'd eat a nut or two while we peeled, but we had to
make sure we had all those bristles from the skin off our hands.
Those were the good old days. Anyone else ever pick Hazelnuts?

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

A Better Story

I need a better story,
A story I’ll believe
But one that comforts me,
A story that my love
Is in a shining place
And not forever gone.

I don’t believe in heaven;
I don’t believe in hell;
I don’t believe
Is a realistic prospect
For we’ve long been told
That nothing is forever,
Though that advice may carry
Meanings more than one.

So I am clinging,
Sometimes with hope,
Sometimes fear,
To a faith
That she resides
Beyond a doubt
Here within my memory,
Here within my poems;
And I’m not alone.

©2018 John I. Blair, 9/22/2018

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


It looks like things are changing
There’s still so much that will remain
Driving for hours to a new place
Not sure if this is different or is the same

Pilanesberg, full of surprises
Pilanesberg, I can recall
Pilanesberg, the animal reminds us
Pilanesberg, after all

It’s another place in another time
We take a flight and leave this world behind
Each animal made itself known
Inside hour hearts we have grown

Pilanesberg, full of surprises
Pilanesberg, I can recall
Pilanesberg, the animal reminds us
Pilanesberg, after all

It looks like outside the world is dying
Inside Pilanesberg it’s just begun
So much pain, discrimination and crying
Inside Pilanesberg like a different world

It’s another place in another time
We take a flight and leave this world behind
Each animal made itself known
Inside hour hearts we have grown

I can read your lips
Can you hear my heart
The string that rips
Tears us apart

I can learn your eyes
A world with a view
Natures disguise
A new breakthrough

It’s another place in another time
We take a flight and leave this world behind
Each animal made itself known
Inside hour hearts we have grown

Pilanesberg, full of surprises
Pilanesberg, a total recall
Pilanesberg, the animal reminds us
Pilanesberg, after all

©9/13/18 Bruce Clifford

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

I Looked on The Moon

I looked on the moon tonight
Apropos of nothing
Except that I was out
And it was floating there
Beyond the elm’s top.

Four days past the equinox
The cool air oozed dew,
I heard no owl hoot,
No bats or moths flew,
The wind had stopped.

The moon’s glow shone
On damp leaves all around,
On tall flower spikes,
Pale paving where I stood,
The bare house wall.

I was alone,
Silent in the silent dark,
And but for the moon,
The vast but distant stars,
Not a spark to light my way.

©2018 John I. Blair, 9/25/2018

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Old Rocking Chair

Old rocking chair, I bet that you could tell some stories
Rocking chair, I bet you've heard a secret or two.
Rocking chair, you've been rockin' round this world awhile
You seem like an old friend even though to me you're new.

As I sit here rocking in my new old rocking chair
I sense images of long ago. Almost see the people standing there
There's Mother in her gingham dress, rocking Baby bye
Thinking if I have to throw this chair off the wagon train I'll die.

Old rockin' chair. You have sailed across the ocean
Rocking chair. You've traveled sea to shining sea
Rocking chair. Time traveler through the generations
Oh yes you are an old friend, even though you're new to me.

Old rockin' chair.................................

©2018 Kimberly Marquette

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Equinox 2018

Summer’s gone.

The sun no longer
Burns the land.

Birds flock to feast
Before they flee
Or hunker down.

Squirrels grow thick fur.

I’ve built a hut
To house the cat I feed
Upon the patio.

Three months remain
Before the solstice
But we never doubt
That it will come.

Nights stretch long
Until that final night
When our frigid world
Slowly turns
Toward spring again.

©2018 John I. Blair, 9/27/2018

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


Thundering paws
Velcro claws

Jumps lickety split
Springs for hips

Two glittering eyes of witches' light
Small wildy creature of the night

How strange that it can fast become
A soft and cuddly ball of hummmmmm.

©1991 Kimberly Marquette

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Laugh Track

I wonder if they guessed
What they’d be laughing at
The people on the tracks
Heard almost every hour
Year after year
But taped
So long ago
Most of those who laughed
Are dead now.

I only pray
That when they laughed
The pleasure of the laugh
Was real,
That the laugh
Reflected how they felt
When they were still alive
That distant day.
©2018, John I. Blair, 9/24/2018

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

I Don't Know Who I Am Anymore

I don’t know who I am anymore
I don’t remember where I came from
So lost, don’t know of a cure
I don't know who I am anymore

I don’t know what I lost or I found
I don’t know If I will ever come around
Deep in thought, not knowing what this is all for
I don’t know who I am anymore

I’m not sure how these years have passed by
I can’t remember the last time I cried
The days and the nights of this daily grind
It’s so hard to tell who am I

I don’t know who I am anymore
I don’t recall what this journey was for
Feeling lost, alone and obscure
I don’t know who I am anymore

I don’t know why I never did reach
All the happy people I wanted to teach
Every morning I wait to be ignored
I don’t know who I am anymore

I don’t know how I ever got by
I can’t remember the last time I tried
Empty dreams and such a deep divide
It’s so hard to tell who am I

I don’t know who I am anymore
I don’t remember where I came from
So lost, don’t know of a cure
I don’t know who I am anymore

©9/27/18  Bruce Clifford

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.