Saturday, 7 December 2019

Why do I keep this stuff?

When I moved from the U.K. to the U.S.A. in 1976 I packed a large wooden crate with all manner of items I thought I'd like to have in my new home.

The crate was shipped and in due course I picked it up in Boston Harbour.  It just about fit into the back of a large station wagon I'd borrowed for the purpose.

Lord knows why, but I included files with every essay I had written in my four year seminary stint.   I never re-read them.  They joined Pittsfield's paper recycling programme in 2000, together with every Christmas and birthday card I had received between 1976 and 2000.   

(I had thought that I would revisit the cards  in my dotage, but after looking at a few signed (for instance)  "blessings Harry" or "love Helen" it occurred to me that I hadn't the faintest idea about  which Helen or which Harry had sent me the card!)  Out the cards went.

And there was a cross I had bought in Obersdorf,  Germany in about 1971  (I still have it); some items I bought in Kenya in 1973 and still have;  a gorgeous bone china mug my mother had given me for my coffee drinking in seminary  (gifted a few years ago to one of my nieces).

However I've hung on to some memorabilia  from my banking days.  I shipped it here in 1976, now I don't know what to do as I de-clutter.

Up until the late 1960's British banking had not changed much since Victorian Days.  

We still sat on high stools at high desks, illuminated by lamps with green lampshades, to keep current (checking); savings, and loan accounts by hand.

We had some kind of accounting machine on which customer statements were posted and printed.

All transactions were were made face to face in a branch bank; no ATM's, or  Debit Cards or Smart phone transactions.

Then it all began to change.  In my case there  was the merger between the Westminster Bank and the National Provincial Bank;  the introduction of the decimalisation of U.K. monies  (no more Pounds, Shillings and Pence, now just Pounds and Pence); and computerisation.  

My banking career had nothing to do with high  flying international stuff.   It was the more simple and gracious local branch banking.

And I've held onto some memorabilia from those days.

Chew Magna, Somerset branch where I  worked.

The brass outdoor wall bank sign.  It was replaced with a stainless steel NatWest sign (see below).  I asked the sign contractor if I might have it.  He replied that if it disappeared he would not notice.  So, some fifty years later I have it.  I had thought to have it mounted on a wooden fire place screen,  But that never happened. It is screwed to the wall in a closet in my spare bedroom.  

My bank name plates.  On the top the one we used in open counter days. On the bottom we used when the bank installed a glass screen between cashier/teller and customer.  It was not bullet proof, but it would deter any crazed crazed Englishman/woman who might be tempted to leap over the counter in order to rob the till or give me a kiss.

A brass shovel for use when coins were measured by weight before they were bagged.

On every desk, containing credit or debit slips on the top, and paper clips/rubber bands in the drawer.

 We even had a  Westminster Bank tie


The old Westminster Bank offered these elegant Savings Boxes to  children 

Made with metal, covered with faux leather.

The merged Nat West Bank was less ambitious in its choice of materials for its savings boxes:


In recent years I've done so much de-cluttering.  

But I have no idea as to what to do with these odd bits of banking memorabilia which I still have.  

And I wonder why the heck I shipped it from the U.K. to the U.S.A.  in the first  (1976) place!  😘

Friday, 6 December 2019

Zion the Star at New College of Florida

6th December 2019

It's finals week at the New College of Florida here in Sarasota.

During Finals Week the College invites Canine Therapy teams to spend an hour in the Jane Cook Bancroft Library, there to provide a measure of stress relief to students.

There were three teams at the College today. We were one of them.

Here is Zion in all his glory!

I very much like this photo' of my smiling dog. Oh my - he is so gorgeous to look at, and his temperament matches his looks.  

I am grateful every day for his presence in my life, and for the joy he brings to so many people.

Everybody loves Zion!


As the session ended the staff photographer Jim DeLa  (pronounced DeLay) and I remembered that we knew each other.  He at one time worked for the Episcopal Diocese of South West Florida. He and I had a few minutes of happy "catch up time". It's by his courtesy that I have three of the photo's which he took.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Making me smile, giggle, or laugh out loud.

Surely it has not escaped your attention that I have a silly sense of humour.


1.  My smart 'phone has a voice mail to text feature which is not always smart.   I got a message yesterday from the office of my dermatologist Dr, Stroble.

Voice mail to text insisted that her name is Dr. Struggle.

'Twould be a good name for an orthodontist who specialised  in the extraction of stubborn wisdom teeth.


2.  Years ago I listened to an English evangelist, one David Hislop. He would pitch his preaching  tent in a field near a small village or town, or on some waste land in a City.   Then he and his supporters would canvass the neighbourhood to invite folks to come to his "tent campaign" and hear the Gospel.

One time I heard him say this in a sermon.  "God has promised to cast all our sins into the depths of the sea, and then God puts up a sign saying "no fishing".

It made and makes me smile.  God forgives, and then God forgets!


3. When I lived in Chicopee MA  (1980-1984) I would sometimes tune in to a local religious broadcast radio station, especially to listen to Brother Shamrock who preached in the old fashioned southern way from Tyler, TX.   

I liked his humour.  One day I heard him say  "now some of you saints say that you were miserable sinners until you found Jesus."

"You did not find Jesus, he was never lost".

"He found you!"

True enough.


4.  And now the best!

I was at Sarasota's Temple Emmanu-el last Wednesday for their monthly "Lunch with the Rabbis".

Senior Rabbi Brenner Glickman gave a presentation about a Brandeis University demographic study of  the local Jewish population.   The study had been  sponsored by the Jewish Federation of the  Sarasota/Manatee Counties. 

Brandeis made 8,000 'phone calls in pursuit of this study.

Enlightening stuff.  The Jewish populations  of the twin Sarasota/Manatee counties are preparing for the future.

An audience member asked if the survey had included the number of burials.  It  had not.

My table companion whispered something to me.  It was funny.  I urged her to raise her hand and say it out loud. She declined so I asked if I could say it.

Permission granted I raised my hand,  Rabbi Glickman called upon me to speak.

"My table companion" I said "thinks that there is no information about burials because those who are buried  did not answer their 'phones".

That brought the house down.  We all laughed out loud.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Keep Christ in Christmas? Another point of view

Keep Christ in Christmas? 

All well and good I suppose, but I have a greater concern.

Keep Parson Brown OUT of Christmas.

There he stands, his icy glare marring  the beauty of the snow covered meadow.

There he stands, demanding a monopoly on December weddings. 

Keep Parson Brown OUT of Christmas.

May he melt away into the bogs of human history, never to be remembered.

Tee hee!

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

The best things in life are free.

One of the gifts of life which I accept with gratitude is our  early morning walk at Sarasota's Bayfront Park. There is so much loveliness as we hear the rocking of the yachts; feel the lovely breeze coming off the bay; and listen to the sometimes gentle, sometimes a wee bit choppy sound of the sea and of the tides; and watch the flights and dives of the pelicans.

'Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free.

Zion and I were there this morning at 6:30.  'Twas a wee bit chilly by south west Florida standards (50 degrees F today), but that was all to the good, given that we moan when it is 90 degrees and humid in the summer months.

With gratitude.

The Bland and the Beautiful.

I was a guest of the Chrisman family for last week's Thanksgiving Feast.

We were Donna Chrisman, her sister Barbara, Donna's daughter Ashley,  and Jack Chrisman's second cousin Mary Evelyn.  Jack was unable to join us.

We ate at the Peridia Country Club in Bradenton, FL,

which was very nice except that when you eat out on Thanksgiving there are no leftovers -  the best part of the feast.

With that in mind I bought a small ready cooked Thanksgiving meal from the so-named "upscale"  F...h M....t at the the Sarasota/Bradenton University Town Abomination  (U.T.C.).

All set to share with my neighbours, and for leftovers for me:  thinking in particular about a turkey breast and cranberry relish sandwich.

But what a disappointment.  I encountered bland. The turkey breast was tough and dry -  made palatable only with a lashing of cranberry/orange relish (from Trader Joe's).  Even more awful was  the dressing ( I called it flavoured bread cubes); and the mashed potatoes which I swear came  from flaked or powdered origins, since the gravy could do no more than sit on top of them, and could not be absorbed.  "Wallpaper paste with gravy".

Yes indeed it was food, for which I should be grateful, but please permit me a whine given my expectations of F...h M ....t products.

Still life with mush.


But then there is beautiful. 

The gracious and caring St. Boniface Sarasota parishioner D'Arlene Llewellyn read my blog about Dundee Cake.  That inspired her to mail order this for me

Oh how good to look at, and even better to eat.  It's a delicious Fruit Cake, laden with pecans and cherries from the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana TX.

I'll take rich Fruit Cake over bland Turkey any day!    Thank you D'Arlene.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Your Tax Dollars at work!

It was in the late 1980's or early 1900's that I was asked to give the invocation and benediction at the G.E.  Naval Ordinance works in Pittsfield MA., on the occasion of a change in U.S. Navy Command.  The departing Navy Commander, a parishioner at St. Stephen's, Pittsfield MA.,  had asked me to do so.

The change in command ceremonies are impressive.  There is always an Officer in Command. Always.

What I did not expect is that there would be a fine aluminum sign made to reserve my parking space.

Made for my convenience, but used in all its glory for only two hours.

I was asked to take it home as a souvenir, and it is still in my possession.  It has no practical use, but maybe you might have a suggestion for its use - polite or saucy!


1.  If I have my facts straight, G.E.  sold this unit to the Martin Marietta  Company, which soon after merged with Lockheed to become Lockheed Martin.  The employees in Pittsfield did what they had always done, but within the space of a year worked for three different Corporations.

The Pittsfield unit is now owned  by General Dynamics.

2.   General Electric was at one time the major and dominant employer in  Pittsfield MA , and  in Schenectady N.Y.  

But in both cities no ever  one worked for G.E.  

People worked for the G.E. 

"Where do you work?" "at the G.E."