Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

31 October, 2008


Can anyone identify these two before-and-after Halloween "trick or treaters" in 1968?
Clue #1: They're sisters.
Clue #2: I'm their dad.

28 October, 2008


Capital for a lifetime...and beyond

CHARACTER, as defined in Webster's New World Dictionary: "a distinctive trait, quality or attribute; an individual's pattern of behavior or personality; moral constitution; moral strength; self-discipline, fortitude; reputation."

If I were asked today what is the most important investment that a young person can make as they enter adulthood and venture into the real world of making a living, I would have to say that character is capital that should be established early and invested in often. Character, regarded as capital, brings a much surer yield of returns than any other form of investment in life. It is unaffected by panics and failures, fruitful when all other investments lie dormant and has as much promise in the present life as in that which is to come.

Benjamin Franklin attributed his success in the public eye, not to his talents or his communications skills, but to his known integrity of character. "Hence, it was," he said, "that I had so much weight with my fellow citizens. I was but a bad speaker, never eloquent, subject to much hesitation in my choice of words, hardly correct in language, and yet I generally carried my point." There is no disputing that character creates confidence in every station of life and Franklin was a good example of that.

The higher walks of life are treacherous and dangerous; the lower ever full of obstacles and impediments. We can only be secure in either, by maintaining those principles which are just, praiseworthy and pure, and which inspire bravery in ourselves and confidence in others. When Stephen of Coloma fell into the hands of his base assailants, and they asked him, in derision, "Where is now your Fortress?" He boldly replied "here", placing his hand over his heart.

Strength of character, then, consists of two things -- power of will and power of self-restraint requiring for existence strong feelings and a strong command over them. Someone once said that deportment, honesty and a desire to do right carried out in practice, are to human character what truth, reverence and love are to religion, and I believe that to be true.

Oh sure, there are bound to be detractors and those who scoff at one's high standards of character, but it is not as much in their affected revulsion as it is in their wish to reduce them to the standards of their own degraded natures and vitiated passions.
That character is power is true in a much higher sense than the contention that knowledge is power. Mind without heart, intelligence without conduct, cleverness without goodness, are powers in one sense, but they are detrimental powers that lead without exception to failure and undoing.

Yes indeed, young people, investing early and often in your character as defined in the dictionary, is not only wise but essential. It is capital that costs nothing to accumulate. It pays huge dividends throughout your life...And you can take it with you when you go.

Hold fast to your capital -- your investments in character and principles. The biggest mistake anyone could make would be to compromise their capital by cashing in even a small portion of it. The long-term cost implications are just too great.
After completing the above post, I stumbled across some famous quotations on the importance of "character" that pretty much substantiate my thesis. Horace Greeley, a 19th century newspaper editor, once wrote: "Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wing, and only character endures." Then in about the same time period Thomas Babington MacCaulay came up with this gem: "The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out."
And back even further in ancient times the Greek philosophers were waxing eloquent on the merits of character. Heraclitus said: "A man's character is his fate" and ever the dramatist, Euripides proclaimed: "Character is a stamp of good repute on a person." But it was good old Aristotle who best summed it all up with: "Character is that which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a person chooses and avoids. A good character carries with it the highest power of causing a thing to be believed."

Our latest in The "Word" According to Rosanne...

Lifting her empty wine class she announced: "My drink has evacuated (evaporated)!"
Trying to be helpful in proof reading what I have written: "Dick, you are disposing (transposing) your letters."

26 October, 2008


...We're not guaranteed the future and the past is gone forever. Now is the only moment that exists, so make the most of it!
Latest Rosanneisms:
-- "I'm having revelations (reservations) about going."
-- "This problem is exastrabating (exasperating) me."
...Had a nice note this past week from another old Dresden acquaintance who had learned about my "The Dresden I Remember" site. Dargan Burns is a lifetime resident of Dresden and pretty much has his finger on the pulse of the community. Darg recalls working for the Dresden Times in the 1950s when my mother would come in on Wednesdays to help assemble and fold the paper for distribution. He spent the first half of his career in newspaper production but when he finally realized he could not continue to make a living in the business he wisely went back to school (Teachers College) and became a teacher. He has been retired for quite a few years and built a new home for he and Theresa in 2005. He's pretty handy with a hammer and saw.

25 October, 2008


I sometimes get caught up in mind games that are a complete waste of time. Take the last 40 minutes for instance. I've been running nicknames through my mind, prompted I guess by a recent obsession with my hometown of Dresden, the nickname capital of the world, where virtually everyone has a moniker of some sort. The more I thought about these stupid nicknames, the more I realized that many of them can be linked in an odd sort of way.

For instance, for every Bull there is a Moose, every Lefty has a Righty, every Skunk is Stinky and Nip and Tuck are tailored for each other. See what I mean. Kind of catching isn't it?

Sparky and Flash just seem to go together naturally and Peewee and Tiny are virtual twins while on the other hand Skinny and Fatty are opposites. For a while I was really fixed on Hammer and Tools but Gunner and Shooter gave me the aim to pick up Sandy and Rocky in my sites and a Cutter being used to Hack a tree that was too Woody. My appetite for the exercise began to improve with Spud and Tater, then I had to go and spoil it all with Poop and Scoop.

I was really on a role with Wheels and Spinner and Boots and Kicker seemed to go together, especially if you're playing soccer. You simply can't have a King without a Queen nor Hands without Fingers. If you're Sleepy you're bound to be a little Dopey and every Digger needs a Spade. Baldy and Curly are at the opposite ends of the follicular spectrum but there's little difference between Smasher and Basher. I couldn't bite into Gummer until I found myself chewing with Toother.

I tried especially hard to keep it all in the family (Rodent, that is) with Mouse and Squirrel and I always kind of felt sorry for Wart and Hog. It is a Bummer when someone shoots the Bull but Grinny and Smiley always put me in a good mood and I would be remiss if I were to Skip old Hoppy.

Beans and Toots gave me just enough gas for a couple more but I had to Stretch to come up with Tippy and Toes, probably because I was about to bog down after Mud and Dirt. So, in conclusion, I pose this nagging question: "Is it true that every Buck is Horny?"

As silly as it is, these are all legitimate nicknames to which I can attach proper names and real faces. Now let's get on with more serious thinking -- like the state of the economy...On second thought, I'd rather stay with nicknames.

P.S.: This item is dedicated to two good friends, Brownie and Blackie.

21 October, 2008


Had a good chat with Jarvis Cook in Dresden about his 18-year-old identical twin nephews who are showing amazing promise in baseball. The boys were featured in my last post, see item below. Not wanting to jinx young Matt and Justin we, nevertheless, could not help but wonder just how many twins have actually made it all the way to the major leagues.
At the time of our conversation, neither Jarv nor I could come up with any names -- it seems that we both have failing memories (memory being the second thing to go when you get to be our age).
A follow up search of The Baseball Encyclopedia and the unique Twinstuff web site revealed that there have actually been nine sets of twins that have advanced to "The Big Time" of baseball. The first set was Bill and George Hunter who played from 1909 to 1912. George played two years for Brooklyn in 1909 and 1910 while Bill only played one season, in 1912 with Cleveland. The next three played roughly at the same time, in what might be termed "The Golden Era of Twins Baseball". They were Joe and Red Shannon, Bubber and Claude Jonnard and Ray and Roy Grimes.
The Shannons were the first set of twins to play for the same team -- the Boston Braves in 1915. Joe only played that single season for Boston, but Red had a longer and more successful career playing an additional six seasons for four more teams. The Shannons were a position player/pitcher combination. Bubber, a catcher, made it to the bigs first, playing for Chicago Sox in 1820 and four teams total in a six-year career. Claude, the pitcher, was one of the more successful twins ever to play major league baseball and specialized as a relief pitcher in a six-year career that began with the New York Giants in 1921.

The Grimes both began their careers in 1920. Roy played one season for the Giants, but Ray fared a little better, playing a total of six seasons as a power-hitting first baseman. Coincidentally, Ray was a teammate of Bubber Jonnard with the Philadelphia Phillies, marking the only time in MLB history that two different sets of twins played together on the same team.
Thirty years later, we see perhaps the most famous set of baseball-playing twins, Eddie and Johnny O'Brien. The O'Briens are well known because they played most of their careers together in Pittsburgh and also because of their versatility as utility players. Both began their careers in 1953 and played through to 1959.
Skipping ahead yet another generation, there are two more sets of twins who had brief careers in the 1980s, Marshall and Mike Edwards and Stan and Stew Cliburn. Mike had a couple of successful seasons with Oakland, but made it to the big leagues first with Pittsburg in 1977, moving over to the As the next season. Marshall, like his brother, was more of a speedster, playing three mostly unspectacular seasons with Milwaukee from 1981 to 1983. They also had a younger brother, Dave, who played five seasons in the majors. The Cliburns played for the California Angels, Stan as a first baseman for one season in 1980 and Stew as a pitcher for three seasons.
The next twin pairing was the controversial super star Jose Canseco and his lesser-known brother Ozzie. Jose played 17 well-pubicized seasons in the majors for seven different teams, all in the American Leauge. He retired following the 2001 season with 462 career home runs, 22nd on the all-time list of home run hitters. Ozzie made it to the big leauges for three brief periods -- in 1990 with Oakland As where he played with his bother, and in '92 and '93 with St. Louis Cardinals. There might have been an excuse for the others, but how could we possibly forget the Cansecos?
The newest set of twins on the list are Damon and Ryan Minor. The Minors were mirror-image twins, both standing 6'7", and were outstanding basketball prospects as well as baseball players. Damon, a first baseman, played for the San Francisco Giants, 2000-2004, and Ryan played for Baltimore Orioles, 1998-2000, before ending his career with Montreal Expos in 2001. Ryan will be forever known as the man who replaced Cal Ripken in the lineup at 3rd base for the Orioles when Ripken's consecutive game streak of 2,632 ended during the 1999 season.

How's that for a bit of baseball trivia?

18 October, 2008


It's in the genes for gifted Dresden twins
Matt Cook (left) and Justin Cook (right), 18, are stars of the Windsor Midget Selects, provincial and state baseball champions. They are the sons of Robin and Lori Cook of Dresden and grandsons of the late Gerald "Elmer" Cook, a one time Dresden baseball standout. In a new insert to my "The Dresden I Remember" site I mention Elmer (also known affectionately as Cookie) and two other senior players who paid special attention to me when I was an admiring kid hanging around the baseball diamond in Dresden. Matt and Justin's uncle Jarvis Cook, himself a pretty fair baseball player in his day, is also a life-long friend of mine. Us Dresden guys have to stick together, especially when we have something like the talent of Justin and Matt to celebrate.
The six-foot-two, 200 lb. twins attend my old Alma mater, Lambton Kent District High School in Dresden, and are literally head and shoulders above most fellow students, including in their athletic and academic standing as well. It is on the baseball field, however, that they have earned rave reviews this past summer, leading the Windsor Midget Selects to an amazing 53-10-1 record in national and international competition.
Justin and Matt, not too surprisingly like their grandfather, are pitchers, each recording 11 wins this season and posting earned run averages well below 2.00. They also carry potent bats and lofty batting averages. In 162 at bats, Justin finished with a .370 batting average while Matt hit the ball at a respectable .304 clip in 168 at bats.
When it was not their turn in the pitching rotation, manager Richard Soloman had a ready spot for the boys in his regular lineup -- Justin at third base and Matt at first base. Matt pitched a five-hitter in the Selects' 5-1 victory over Toronto Mets in the final game of the Ontario Baseball Association "AAA" Midget Championship tournament and Justin emerged as the top hitter in the six-game series with a .471 average at the plate.
Adding further laurels to their outstanding season, the Selects went undefeated (5-0) in the highly touted State Championships at Eastern Michigan University, crushing Michigan Renegades 9-4 in the final game.
The Selects organization, in drawing top midget age players from Windsor, Tecumseh, Chatham and Dresden, provides a wonderful opportunity for elite 18-and-under athletes in the area to try out for a program that provides professional quality training, coaching and competition that is not available in smaller communities.
As if the baseball honors were not enough, the talented twins also laid claim to just about every high school award worth claiming during the last school term, topped off by the LKDHS Most Outstanding Male Athlete '08 award for Justin who was also MVP captain of the senior boys basketball and volleyball teams, and the Coach's Choice Award '08 for Matt. Both honor role students, Matt was a Silver Award winner and recipient of the Allsion DeBruyne Memorial Award while Justin received a Bronze Medal.
Wisely, the boys are back at high school this Fall picking up a few extra credits. They intend to put priority on their educations and will wait to see what options develop for them in the next few years.
Meantime, this is an amazing story and it stands to get even more amazing as the boys develop and follow their destinies.
Somehow or other, I have a feeling that we'll be hearing a lot more about the Cook twins of Dresden in the not too distant future. The Major Leagues beckon...Can you imagine the media in the states jumping all over this one? You read it here first, however!
Grandpa Gerald would be proud. I know uncle Jarv sure as heck is.

14 October, 2008


Equals a world in total chaos

I want to play devil's advocate on the subject of everlasting spirit for just a moment.

If we truly perish with the body and there is no such thing as immortality, then our whole system of laws, manners and usages on which society is founded, is nothing more than an impostor. The maxims of charity, patience, justice, honor, gratitude and friendship, which sages have taught over the centuries and which we ourselves practice, would be nothing but empty words possessing no real and binding efficacy. Why then would we heed them?

And if we were to dismiss the notion of eternal life, what would become of tender family ties -- wife, husband, parent, sister, brother or friend? How absurd it would be to honor that which has no existence. How frivolous it would be to concern ourselves for those whose end, like our own, must soon be annihilation.

In truth, however, if we were to accept the sway of reason eternally espoused by nonbelievers the whole world, as we know it, would fall back into a frightful chaos:

  • all the relations of life would be confounded;
  • all the ideas of vice and virtue would reverse;
  • the most inviolable laws of society would vanish;
  • all moral discipline would perish;
  • the government of nations would no longer have the cement to hold them together;
  • harmony of the body politic would become discord;
  • the human race would be no more than an assemblage of barbarians.

Such would be the world if belief in God and immortality were to die out of the human heart.

The external life of mankind is the creature of time and circumstance, and passes away, but the internal abides and continues to exist. Spirit triumphs over form. That is the basis of everything we hold sacred and everything that makes the world what it is today.

Just a few passing thoughts...Need I write more?

10 October, 2008


Site brings back memories and friends

As I pause to consider the things that I am thankful for this weekend I will be adding a new item to the list -- you, the reader of Wrights Lane and its associated sites.

In the three short months that I have been producing this blog there have been more than 400 views, or hits, on my profile alone. Profile views are generally of a one-time nature. Repeat viewers generally bypass the profile because if you've seen it once there is no need to see it again. So you can multiply those 400-plus profile views at least four or five times to get a feeling for current overall viewership, far beyond my fondest expectations.

Particularly gratifying has been reconnecting with old friends in my hometown of Dresden through the Father and Son Turn Back the Clock and Championship Baseball sites. Linda Weese helped get the ball rolling by linking me with her site. Since then I have had direct contact with Donna and Terry Martin, Donna and Keith Babcock, Jarvis Cook and Betty Smith, all of Dresden. Ida Strong of St. Thomas, a former Dresden resident, was one of the first to respond and eventually contributed photographs of her great grandfather's blacksmith shop for Dresden reflections. Bob Peters, way out in British Columbia, is a regular viewer and has passed the site on to other former Dresdenites in B.C. -- Jim Bresett and Homer Smith. Bob's mother in Chatham, hale and hearty at 97-years-of-age, amazingly keeps up to date with us via her computer.

I reconnected recently with old school chum Jim Ruttle of Lambeth and his wife Isabel over lunch in Goderich and have ongoing contact Bruce Huff in London (he of the Sports Hall of Fame) and Danny Burns of Mississauga, a recent contributor to Wrights Lane.
So it is for the aforementioned folks, other friends and site followers, and members of my family that I will be giving special thanks.

Thanksgiving traditions sadly missed
On the subject of Thanksgiving, I feel that it is a shame that this occasion originally intended to give special recognition of all we receive, has been diminished by the changing social fabric in Canada. Traditional Thanksgiving observances and prayers have been rendered almost irrelevant for many families. We've let it happen. There is no one else to blame. We should not lose tradition this easily. Let's try to revive some of it.
Allow me to take liberties with the words of Edgar A. Guest in recalling the way it used to be, and still should be for us today.
It may be I am getting old and like too much to dwell
Upon the days of bygone years, the days I loved so well;
But thinking of them now I wish somehow that I could know
A simple old Thanksgiving Day, like those of long ago,
When all the family gathered round a table richly spread,
The youngest of us all to greet the oldest with a smile,
With mother running in and out and laughing all the while.
It may be I'm old-fashioned, but it seems to me today
We're too much bent on having fun to take the time to pray;
Each little family grows up with fashions of its own;
It lives within a world itself and wants to be alone.
It has its special pleasures, its circle, too, of friends;
There are no get-together days; each one his journey wends,
Pursuing what he likes the best in his particular way,
Letting others do the same upon Thanksgiving Day.
I like the olden way the best, when relatives were glad
To meet the way they used to do when I was but a lad;
The old home was a rendezvous for all our kith and kin,
And whether living far or near they all came trooping in.
Gathering round the fireside, how fast the hours would fly--
Seemed before we'd settled down 'twas time to say good-bye.
Those were glad Thanksgivings, the old-time families knew
When relatives could still be friends and all our hearts were true.
May you share some of that with your loved ones this weekend.

08 October, 2008


...She's in an league by herself

A couple of items ago I introduced a new "feature" for this site -- The Word According to Rosanne. I referred to my wife Rosanne as being a serious female Norm Crosby, the King of Malaprop.

Norm, of course, is famous for the use of twisted phrases in his comedy act. His version of "He had panache", for instance, came out as "He had pistachio." He often talked about drinking "decapitated" coffee. Now compare that to the Rosanneisms listed two items down and you will see what I mean. Before giving you the benefit of a few more of Rosanne's latest classic utterances, I think it behooves me to explain a little about the unfamiliar term "malapropism".

A malapropism (from French mal propos) is an incorrect usage of a word, usually with comic effect. The word comes from the name Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan's comedy, The Rivals (1775), whose name was in turn derived from the existing English word malapropos which means

"inappropriately". Here are some examples from Mrs. Malaprop's dialogue:

-- "He's as headstrong as an allegory (alligator) on the banks of the Nile.
-- "He is the very pineapple (pinnacle) of politeness."
-- "If I reprehend (apprehend) anything in this world, it is the use of my oracular (vernacular) tongue, and a nice derangement (arrangement) of epitaphs (epithets).

Several prominent knowledge bases. however, suggest that it might be more appropriate to call such confusions "Dogberryisms" after Sergeant Dogberry in William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, who was making them almost two centuries earlier, for example:

-- "Companions are odorous (odious)."
-- "Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended (apprehended) two auspicious (suspicious) persons."

Now back to our favorite Rosanneisms.

-- The other day she she referred to a situation as being "disconcerning". She meant disconcerting -- of course.
-- "I can't stand concentration." In this instance she was responding to something that had upset her and it was "consternation" that she was experiencing.
-- "The layout of that house is kind of foreboding." I thought "here comes another good one" and asked "what do you mean by foreboding?" "I don't know," she said. "It's like, eerie and claustrophobic." Pretty close on that one sweetheart. However, it may not qualify as a true Rosanneism.

-- On the need to purchase Kleenex. "We've exhorted (exhausted) our supply."
-- "Are you going to have your soul food (seafood) tonight?" quickly recognizing her malapropism by asking: "What's it called?"
-- "The only player that I know on the Maple Leafs this year is Joseph Curtis." Meaning veteran goaltender Curtis Joseph.

I'll let you saviour those few for now. Lots more to follow.

I don't know, but I'll stack Rosanne up against Norm Crosby, Mrs. Malaprop and Sergeant Dogberry any day of the week. Ya gotta love her!

06 October, 2008


Trifles worthy of a little study

I have always been fascinated by the value of small or little things in life and hold to the conviction that "small things mean a lot". It is interesting how small things can have huge impacts. Also, can you truthfully think of anything that is not made up of small parts?

Think of the "parts" in our bodies for instance, and coral rock that is the work of tiny insects; the number of peas in a peck; the number of pennies in a dollar; stars in the universe; rain drops in a storm; grains of sand on a beach; blades of grass in a lawn; notes in a song; words in a book; people in a crowd -- we could go on forever. If you really want to blow your mind, just start thinking in terms of molecules and atoms.

Little things, too, can affect us physically like the tiny nerve of a tooth that can sometimes drive us to distraction or any one of thousands of microscopic germs that can make us deathly ill. Think of the poor elephant that is driven absolutely mad by a tiny speck of a mosquito.

Moments are the golden sands of time. Every day is a little life and our whole life is but a day repeated. A word, a look, a frown are all little things, but they can have powerful impact for good and evil.

There is no denying that little acts are the elements of true greatness. They raise life's value, like little figures over the larger ones in arithmetic, to its higher power. Small things in youth accumulate into character in age and destiny in eternity. A novelist who writes a book must do it sentence by sentence. A student of science must master it fact by fact and principle by principle.

Happiness in life is made up of little courtesies, little kindnesses, pleasant words, genial smiles, self-assuring touches, hugs, good wishes and good deeds, acts of charity. It is by studying small things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible in journying through life.

It is the little things that, in aggregate, make up the whole of whatever is great. That is what fascinates me so much because little things are all I have to offer the world, and maybe that is not so bad after all.

03 October, 2008


"Remembering" a special someone

Some time ago I invited readers of Wrights Lane to pass along items of interest or messages that had particular meaning for them. An old friend, Danny Burns of Mississauga, recently did just that. Danny's forward was in the form of a brief "thought piece" sent to him by another friend who had been so moved as to give it further circulation. The touching message was obviously written by a hospital emergency ward nurse with the caveat: "Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain." Her story follows.

"It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80s arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 o'clock.

"I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before a doctor would be able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. On exam, his thumb was well healed, so I talked to one of the duty doctors, got the needed supplies to remove the sutures and redress the wound.

"As I was taking care of him, I asked if he had another doctor's appointment that morning, as he was obviously in a hurry. He told me "no", but that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I inquired as to her health.

"He told me that she had been in the nursing home for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer's Disease. As we talked further, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late and he replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in the past five years.

"I was surprised and asked "...And you still go every morning even though she doesn't know who you are?" He smiled and as he patted my hand he replied: "She doesn't know me, but I still know who she is."

"I had to hold back tears as he left. I had goose bumps on my arm and thought 'That is the kind of love I want in my life.'

"True love is neither physical nor romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be."