Saturday, July 04, 2015

Fourth of July, 2015



For the first time in my life, this Fourth of July I feel like an equal citizen of this country, the United States of America.

For all of my life (73 years) I have played by the rules.  I went to school and graduated.

After high school I joined the Army to fulfill my obligation as a citizen of this country to volunteer three years of my life in defense of this country, the United States of America.

After my three year service obligation was completed in January of 1963 I left the service because I knew I was gay and I didn't want to live a life of fear of being found out and being discharged from the Army as an "undesirable."  

I would have applied for a job at the National Security Agency, where I worked for two and a half years (in the closet) while I was in the Army.  I could have easily converted my status from Army soldier to civilian government worker at a nice GS rating.  But I didn't because at the National Security Agency, I had a top secret clearance and back in the Dark Ages of the Sixties, gays were considered blackmail material. Thus I left a potentially lucrative career as a government service worker.  Just think, if I had stayed in the closet and had a longtime secure career as a government worker, I could be one of those "Washington D.C. gays" who dominate the Rehoboth Beach social scene.  I would belong to "the club."  But alas, I digress of "would've, could've".  

Instead I got a job.  I won't bore you with the details of all my jobs but suffice it to say I had a mildly successful career first at a hotel, then thirty-seven years in bank operations and now the past seventeen years in the hotel business (again).  What comes around goes around.  

All these years I've worked I've paid my taxes.  I've been a good citizen.  I've paid more than my share of school real estate taxes and income tax to subsidize straight couples and their kids, so they could enjoy the Good Life.

Now this year, for the first time in history, gay marriage is the law of the land.  

For the first time in my life, my seventy-three year journey survival as a gay man, I am now an equal citizen of this country.  Know what I say?  

Better late than never.  

Happy Fourth to everyone!

Me and Bill's "official" 51st anniversary photo - a Selfie!

Friday, July 03, 2015

Happy Anniversary! Fifty-One Years and Counting!


Bill and I after the "deed was done." Pure happiness

Today marks our 51st anniversary.  Yes, we're Two Old Gay Men who survived.  

Two years ago Bill and I got officially married at the Sussex County Courthouse in Georgetown, Delaware.  

Ever notice when gay couples get married they all have BIG SMILES?

Our dear friends Jack and Judy Dawson were our witnesses.  

The Happy Newlyweds with their witnesses, Jack and Judy Dawson

Although our official marriage resulted in most of my family (two brothers and their families and many cousins who didn't show  up at the family reunion because Bill was there), we were so fortunate to have friends like Jack and Judy.  Our dear neighbors Bob and Barbara Murphy also volunteered to be our witnesses.  These fine folks are my "new" family, since my family can't bring themselves to recognize that Bill and I are their equal now.  Even one longtime close friend greatly disappointed me when I informed him of my marriage he blithely said "What's next? Marrying your pet?" I have mentioned this conversation before in previous blog posts so I won't go into it again now just to minimize the negativity on this post and this wonderful day.  Needless to say I told him his comment was very insulting and hurtful.  However, I still don't think he or his wife "gets it" which is a shame.  But people, even family or longtime friends who want to continue to view us as Less Than and not their equal in societal law, I cannot let them hold me back from living my life as a free and equal citizen of this country.

Waiting outside the Sussex County Courthouse with our friends (witnesses) Jack and Judy Dawson

Today marks the first day of our 52 year together.  It doesn't seem that long ago that I met Bill on a rainy Saturday night in July at the Westbury Bar on South 15th and Spruce Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Truth be told, Bill knew at that time that we would be together the rest of our lives.  To me, he was just a very nice man who was kind to me and treated me like a prince (and still does).  

Bill overcome with emotion as we're announced "husband and husband"

During the past fifty-one years, we've had our ups and downs like all couples, gay or straight.  But we've always been (lived) together no matter what our travails and circumstances.  I know it's an old overused cliche but Bill has always been "there" for me and I for him.  And we will be together until one of us departs this earthly existence.  

Bill couldn't hold the tears back

So on this day and every July 3rd until I die I will always remember that dreams sometimes do come true.  

Bill and I reflecting on our future together at the Georgetown Circle Fountain after we got married




Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summer Days



Here we go, another summer has arrived in its full glory.

This year I will be spending this summer without my friends Ed and Wayne ("The Cajun").  While I will miss them I have still have friends who I can and will enjoy this summer with.  

Of course first and foremost is my Bill.  Bill, the man who rescued me from the path I was headed down of indolence and waste fifty-one years ago next Friday.

My two good friends who I used to hang with, Ron Hampton and Ed Cage, went down that path and (of course) are gone now.  Both from the ravages of their lives of indolence and waste. Bill saved me from taking that journey with them. 

Bill, the man who saw the promise in me.  That I was more than just a one-night trick (which I wasn't by the way). The man who believed in me and gave me a life.  Damn, I sound like I'm accepting an Academy Award.

Well, anyway.  I wanted to shoot off a short post this sunny, Sunday morning to tell the world that I am one happy and very lucky man to be where I am today.  As I have said many times in past postings, every day I get up these days is a bonus.  It's all "gravy" folks.

Just look at where I am.  I live in a wonderful home in a wonderful part of the country and I have a good job with folks who I like and they like me (I think most of them do anyway).  

I have other good friends like longtime friend Larry M. (sixty years) and a more recent friend like Pat F. (two years who, as you know I reference quite frequently in my posts).

I also have many good blog friends, some of whom I have been fortunate enough to meet in person (that would be you Tony, Nadege, Jay, David, Mark, Helen, Randy and of course Dr. Spo).  There are others who I only know from afar (Jon, Walt, and Ray) who I would love to meet someday.

This summer starts out with the wonderful news that marriage is now possible for every gay man and woman across this country.


Freedom! Equality! Respect!

And this summer starts out with me being able to walk again after a calamitous fall on the ice I had last February which put me out of commission (and totally dependent on others) for three full months. To say I appreciate life now would be an understatement. 

So here we go with another glorious summer season.  Who knows, this may be my last but even if it is, I'm ready to live every day like it is my last day on earth.  

Isn't life strange though?  When we're young the days can't seem to pass by fast enough. Now that we're older, the days fly by.  

Summertime, here I come!






Friday, June 26, 2015

Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Same Sex Marriage Nationwide



Well, it happened. The majority (5-4) of Supreme Court justices ruled that same sex marriage is legal nationwide.  They overruled the wrong-headed thinking of the minority of Supreme Court justices who believe that "it should be left up to the states" to decided who has equal rights.  In other words, the rights of a minority should be decided by the votes of a majority.  


Bill and I will celebrate our 51st anniversary as a couple this day, next Friday.  Next Friday is also our second "official" wedding anniversary.  Folks, I have to tell you that when I met Bill fifty-one years ago at the Westbury Bar at 15th and Spruce Streets in Philadelphia that never . . . . NEVER in our wildest dreams did we ever think or believe that in our lifetime our love and life would be recognized and treated with the dignity and respect that straight couples automatically receive.  That we would no longer be the most despised minority in this country.  That one day we would no longer be "less than."  That one day we would be equal.  Not better, not less but EQUAL.

Bill (35) and Ron (22) - Pennsuaken, NJ - 1964 - Young Love


Bill (86) and Ron (73) - 2015 - Old (enduring) Love


Leg Injury Update June 2015

The folks at Tidewater Physical Therapy, Milton, DE
(Pat, Melissa, Kathy, Richard and ME!)

How's the leg Ron (you might ask)?

Just fine.  I was informed this week by Rich, my physical therapist that I only have four more visits (two next week and two the following week).  Then I'm on my on.

I can walk unaided without a cane now and I'm here to tell you I am might happy about that fact.  I still have a slight limp, which will gradually dissipate as time goes on.  However, I still have to be very careful that I don't twist my leg by turning around too fast or else I'll be back to Square One.  And I DON'T want to go there again.


It's ironic but I was dreading physical therapy but my three times a week sessions (one hour each) have proven to be most beneficial to me.  Not only in helping me to get back to normal physically but mentally.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I was quite freaked out when I first injured my leg way back on February 18th, by falling on the ice and rupturing (severing) my quadricep muscles in my left leg.  I had no use of that leg and feared that I never would again.

You know how they something good always comes out of something bad?  Well, that's what happened here with me when I had that terrifying accident that left me totally dependent on Bill and others for survival.  Not only do I have a new awareness of the appreciation of good health and being able to move around on my own but I also have a new patience for others who are handicapped.  Never again will I be impatient with a person of less than mobile means who is slowing me down during my regular routine.  

And you know something else that happened during my ordeal?  I made new friends, the physical therapy folks (Richard, MacKenzie, Melissa, Kathy, Olivia and Suzanne).  I look forward to seeing them everyday and I will miss them when I no longer return. 

So here is the prognosis for me folks:

My leg won't be completely healed for about a year.  I still can't kneel and wash my tiled kitchen floor.  And I certainly can't "hop, skip an jump" as the questionnaire that I have to complete every two weeks at physical therapy requires me to fill out.  But I can get around on my own.  And I can drive my car!  And what a wonderful, precious freedom that is.

Now I'm ready to go for a significant stretch of time in which I have NO health issues.  The past few years have been quite an adventure for me with my health issues.  But then I always think, three of my close friends died this year. It can always be worse.  So now I am ready to jump back into Life with both feet, or at least step in gently. 

Me with friends David and Scott - David was also going to physical therapy and we happen to run into each other at the supermarket after my physical therapy session - I no longer have my cane!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Coffee Shop Pat


My (Canadian) buddy Pat loves coffee.  

Now why do I preface my reference to my pal Pat with "Canadian"?  Heck if I know other than I am proud to have this splendid Canadian (actually he's half American, his Mom was born in Detroit, Michigan) as my friend.  But I digress.

Pat loves coffee.  He loves coffee shops.  In his hometown of Canada there is NOT a day that goes by that he doesn't grace a coffee shop in his hometown of Canada.  Why even this morning he sent me a video while he was having coffee at a fro fro coffee shop in Yorkville (that's the Canadian Beverly Hills, CA to you folks).  


A familiar site in the morning wherever Pat is, getting his morning coffee whether it be at McDonald's, the local Mom and Pop coffee shop or frou frou Forrest Hills in Toronto Canada


Me, I never got into the coffee Thing.  I can drink it and I don't mind a good cup of real java but most coffee I've had in my life taste like colored hot water with an old dishrag left in it.  Starbucks is the exception but their caramel creme latte is more like a dessert isn't it?



Pat has a tradition whenever he visits Lower Slower, we go out in the morning and he treats me to one of these hot sugary confections.  We hit the Starbucks on Route One, towards Rehoboth.  That Starbucks is always bustling and I wouldn't go there unless Pat is visiting.  

Last month while Pat during Pat's annual visit to Casa Tipton-Kelly, he accompanied me to my thrice weekly physical therapy sessions in Milton. I usually have these sessions from 9 AM to 10 AM.  Afterwards Pat was delirious of his morning coffee break.  And you know me, always one to accommodate when someone is kind to me and Pat did accompany me to my PT sessions. 

As we left the physical therapy center I mentioned to Pat "There has to be a coffee place in Milton.  I know Milton is dead but I can't imagine they don't have a place to get coffee."  And lo and behold, viola!  As we were riding down Federal Street in Pat's rented car, there it was, a coffee shop!  Who knew?  In quaint little Milton, an actual coffee shop.


Pat in the Milton coffee shop

Of course we were the only patrons in the shop except for the Town Lech (which I didn't find out about until later).  But what a pleasant interlude, right here in River City Milton.  Actually Milton is a "River City."  The Broadkill River runs right through it and, occasionally, during a heavy nor'easter or a hurricane, downtown Milton does get flooded.


Flooding in downtown Milton DE

While we were at the coffee shop Pat received a phone call from his real estate agent.  She told him he had a buyer for his lot!  So, it looks like this quaint, little coffee shop in downtown Milton won't be Pat's regular coffee hangout after all.  Oh well, Toronto has plenty of coffee shops. 

Bid adieu Pat.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Snakes


A surprise visitor on my compost pile - 2004

There are few things that really put a fright into me. 

Actually, there are MANY things that put a fright into me (come to think of it).  But most things I can anticipate and avoid.

However, there is one notable exception that on occasion I have not been able to avoid.  And that exception as you may have guessed is a snake.

Now I'm not one of those people who as soon as they see a snake will get out some blunt instrument and kill it.  That is not me.  In fact I hate to kill any living creature or insect.  Some notable exceptions are flies, mosquitoes and Japanese beetles.  Most other insects I cup up and put outside but I digress. Back to our subject of SNAKES.

See that photo of that "sweetheart" at the top of this blog.  Yep, I took that photo in the spring of 2004 at our former residence in Pennsylvania. 

One fine spring day in 2004 I approached my grass compost pile and lo and behold, there on the top of the pile reposed a snake, sunning itself.  Oh yes, a SNAKE.



Now I don't know what kind of snake it was.  I'm sure somebody reading this blog will tell me, but I suspect it was a harmless king snake.  Harmless to me anyway because they are not poisonous. But hey, they can still bit though can't they?  And that is one thing I have never experienced, nor do I want to experience, is a snake bite.  I can just imagine a snake with its fangs embedded in my arm and me, long body dangling from my outstretched arm as I run, screaming like a little girl for help.  

This was the third time I encountered one of our slithering friends by chance.

The first time was back in 1976 when Bill and I first bought out wooded acreage in Pennsylvania where we built our future house.  Bill pulled up his car in an open field area of our 6.875 acres.  As I lifted my leg to step out of the car, and as my right foot was descending earthbound, I saw a snake just like the one pictured in this blog.  As gravity was irrevocably pulling my doomed foot to the ground ON TOP OF THAT SNAKE, I let out a scream you wouldn't believe.  Hey, I didn't even know I COULD scream.  But scream I did.

Well, I must have scared the daylights out of that snake because it took off like a bat out of hell scared assed snake in the grass and my foot landed safely, snake bit free on the ground.  My heart was racing like Republican politician at a Hillary Clinton fund raiser. I think that snake was more afraid of me than I was of it.

The second time I had a scary encounter with a legless lizard was when I was on a volunteer roadside litter pickup crew.  There I was on that chilly spring morning, picking up trash at the Coatesville interchange when I pick up a hubcap and what did I spy right beneath the hubcap?

Black snake
Oh yes I did.  He (or she) looked at me and I looked back.  Then, very slowly I replaced the hubcap on top of him (or her), just the way I found it.  Thank goodness I didn't scream like a little girl this time.  But my heart was racing like a (well, let's see) former House Speaker Dennis Hastert at a Gay Pride Day March. 

These days few things surprise me.  But I venture to say I probably have a few more surprise encounters with a snake.  Just last week, while I was out in the back yard meandering about, a big black snake slithered down the cement steps to our basement.  This time I wasn't frightened at all.  In fact, I was glad this big black snake was hanging around our house.  I did notice that this past year I didn't have a problem with field mice trying to get into the house.

Snakes are our friends.  I just don't want to step on one.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day

Pop with smoking his pipe which eventually caused his death (lung cancer) 1991 - master of all he surveys

Father's Day is almost over this year and I debated whether or not I wanted to even post about this day.

As regular readers of my blog know, I did not have a close relationship with my father.

I am the oldest of his three sons (Isaac, Jr, and John).  

Me (standing apart to the right as I do in most of my childhood pictures - a portend of things to come?) with Pop's Packard - 1947

"Pop", as we called him, was a charmer to the ladies but I don't believe he ever wanted children.

Oh sure, I think for a brief moment (or two) he like the novelty of having a child and a son, even though my Mother wanted a girl.

Me on Pop's shoulders 1942 - I was always envious of dads who carried their kids on their shoulders and wished I had the experience. Apparently I did but I was too young to remember this experience
He had ten brothers and no sisters.  He probably thought he was going to start his own football team just like his hillbilly parents did from North Carolina.

Pop (back row, far right, tallest) and his ten brothers - 1961

My father died in August of 2000 at eighty years of age of lung cancer.

Me with Pop a week before he died - 2000 
During his lifetime he was always seemed annoyed with me.  Maybe he was disappointed that I wasn't "manley."  I was semi-sissy growing up (played with paper dolls but I wasn't swishy and effeminate). 

Maybe he felt me and my brothers hindered him and his carefree ways.  

Until my Mother reined him in, he cheated on her constantly during their early years of marriage. 

I didn't know this until after he died and my Mother "spilled the beans."  I guess she just wanted to set the record straight.

She told me one time she was crossing the street in Coatesville, holding onto the hands of me and my younger brother Isaac.  As she was crossing the street she noticed my father in driver's seat in the car stopped at the red light.  He had a woman (his current girlfriend) in the passenger seat.  

My Mother said she opened the back door of the car and started to get in with me and my brother.  My father told her "Get out!"  She told him "No I'm not getting out.  You have three small children (my other brother was still a baby and at home) that you have to take care of.  You're going to drop your girlfriend off and come home and be a father to your children or I'll leave you."

Now the funny thing about my father was that he totally loved my Mother.  But he was also a charmer and loved the ladies.  He was a cross country truck driver (during the war) and would be gone for weeks, leaving my Mother to fend for herself in feeding "her boys" (the way she always referred to me and my brothers).  Also, the funny thing is that my Mother totally loved my father. But Pop had a wandering eye and the ladies did love that big man.  In fact, I have a letter my Mother saved from a woman who sent it to my Mother.  She wrote to my Mother that she would never be able to hold onto her husband because he was a "big man" (which he was by the way, in more ways than one). My Mother wanted me to destroy that letter after I read it but I didn't.  I still have it.

Ike Tipton - The Charmer - 1941
One thing about Pop, he didn't want to lose my Mother.  In all the years they were married before he died (sixty-one) I never once heard them argue.  In fact I never heard them raise their voice once to each other.  And he certainly did not beat my Mother (I couldn't even imagine that) but he did occasionally take the belt to us kids when we got out of hand (nothing serious though). 

Prior to discovering him with a girlfriend in his car, my Mother didn't realize he was spending the family money on his girlfriends. After that episode my Mother took over the finances of the family.

She ran the household from that date on.  She told me Pop still flirted with the ladies (he did until the day he died) but she didn't think he ever had intimate relations with them after that encounter.

Mom and Pop - Christmas 1980 in the kitchen - he knew he had a good thing with Mom

Mom kept the family together and that's why to this day I honor her on Mother's Day but I feel nothing for Father's Day.

My father wasn't a bad person but he wasn't what I consider a father to me either.  He constantly put me down.  Made fun of my appearance (called me "beak" because of my prominent nose).  Called me "stupid". He never had anything good to say to me.  In fact, and I am ashamed to admit this, I was afraid of him.  Of course I always sought his approval but never received it. I never got one compliment from him during my lifetime.  Not one word of encouragement.  

When I left home at 18 years of age to join the Army I was a mess.  I had zero self confidence (still have a degree) and was scared of my own shadow.  But I knew I had to leave home.

The three years I spent in the Army were the most beneficial of my life because I gained confidence in myself.  I wasn't this horrible, awful loser that my father brainwashed me into thinking about myself.

Many years after I left the Army and had a successful banking job in Philadelphia, I was having a casual conversation with my Mother.  She told me something that shocked me, even to this day.  She said "Pop didn't think you could ever make it."  I said "Make what?"  She said "Get through the Army."  I said "Why wouldn't I make it?"  She said "He just didn't think you had it in you."  

I was so shocked when I heard this, of just how low his opinion of me was.  I was hurt and shocked.  Sure, I had a difficult time in basic training but I was determined to "make it."  There were several times when I almost didn't make it but I was so determined that I remember thinking at the time "I'll have to die before I drop out of this forced march." 

Another time I almost blew myself up with a hand grenade (I didn't know how the pin worked).  Again, the thought of quitting was never an option for me, I was determined to "make it", and the only thing that would stop me would be death.  

I've often thought over the years "Where did I get this determination?"  Then I figured it out, that was my Mother's genes taking over.  She never gave up on life even though she had a very rough beginning.  She never gave up on my Father even though he cheated on her and spent all the family money on floozies.  She never gave up on keeping the family together and she never gave up on him.

And she never gave up on me which is why I am the person I am today.  

My father was childlike in many ways.  You might say my Mother raised FOUR boys.

Pop with a Christmas teddy bear that I bought for my Mother - he softened up somewhat in his twilight years - in this picture he is about the age (73) that I am now
Happy Father's Day Pop, wherever you are.