Like Franklin Roosevelt, the Late Senator Berry, D-Peabody, Was Super-Abled

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Whenever I think of Freddie Berry, the late Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate who will be buried this weekend, God rest his magnificent soul, I can't help but smile because he was such a naturally funny and attractive human being, the kind of person who constantly surprised and delighted you with his slyly camouflaged wit and high intellectual voltage, and because every day that he ventured forth into this brutish world he was a walking, talking Exhibit A of how much a righteous person possessed of an unswerving, ferocious determination could achieve in the face of obstacles the nature of which normally crush 9,999 out of a 10,000 souls.  I doubt that Freddie's soul was ever seriously dented, so formidable was his inner strength. 

Berry died this past Tuesday at age 68 following a long period of declining health.  He was born with cerebral palsy, and though he bore the effects of that condition his entire life, he was defined, first and last, by his remarkable, soaring spirit and his innate, irrepressible sense of humor, and not by the condition that sometimes contorted his speech and limited his physical movements.

On the day of Berry's death, the State House News Service noted that he, as a member of the Peabody City Council, had won a five-way Democratic primary for an open Senate seat in 1982 "as the only candidate who said he was pro-choice."  Undoubtedly, this discomforted some at his alma mater, Bishop Fenwick High School in Peabody.  The SHNS also reported that, right after his election to the Senate, Berry and his wife, Gayle, started and ran the Fred Berry Charitable Foundation out of their Peabody home, an organization that raised more than $1 million over three decades to help food pantries, homeless shelters, educational programs and various human services agencies. In the Senate, he was the tribune of the poor, the chronically ill, the physically and mentally challenged, the homeless, and every hard-luck, forgotten, friendless, family-less, invisible person who had no chance of surviving without a hand from our government.

The tributes to  Berry have been gushing forth from those who knew him and served with him at the State House.  Two of the most resonant remembrances were offered by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr of Gloucester and Mayor Kim Driscoll of Salem.

Tarr said: "Former Majority Leader Fred Berry was an outstanding senator, a champion for the needs of his district and people across the state, and a dear friend.  He was an extraordinary public servant with a kind heart, and a sharp intellect.  Despite a lifetime impacted by cerebral palsy, Fred gave strength to those who needed a champion.  In the years that we spent together in the Senate, I knew of nobody more capable of being both uproariously humorous and profoundly poignant, the effect of which often better informed the thinking of those in the Senate Chamber.  Known not only for his abilities as a legislative leader, he was also acclaimed for his decades of civic engagement by helping those in need through his charitable work.  Word of his passing is truly saddening and I extend my sympathies to his family and friends.  I hope that they will be comforted by knowing that his legacy will live on through his lifetime of accomplishments, the close associations that he made, and the love that he shared with so many."

Driscoll said: "He was always the funniest guy in the room...by far.  More importantly, he had an indefatigable zest for life and served Salem and nearby North Shore communities with distinction during his decades' long service as our state senator.  Underneath his outward humorous personality, Fred Berry was a force to be reckoned with -- a true champion who always stood up for those who didn't have a voice or political clout on Beacon Hill, in particular children in need."

When I think of Berry, there is one scene that almost always comes to mind.  One day, back around the turn of the century, I had set up a meeting for a then client of ours, the American Cancer Society , with him in his office at the State House.  A professional colleague of mine at the time was supposed to attend that meeting with me and three persons from the ACS.  That colleague, in fact, was supposed to lead our presentation because he had formerly served in the legislature and knew Berry well.  But, at the last moment, he was unable to attend and asked me to explain his absence and apologize to the senator for his being a no-show. 

Dutifully, I opened the meeting with an explanation of my colleague having to be somewhere else and an expression of his regard for the senator and his regrets at not attending. 

I had no history with Berry.  I had never met with him before on a piece of client business and was nervous about having to carry the ball at the meeting. I was sitting right next to him and Berry kept eye contact with me throughout my opening spiel and listened patiently to what I said; I could not tell how he was taking it.

When I was through, he paused for three or four seconds, silent, still fixing me with his eyes.  At last he responded.  "Your friend is a very busy man," he said, "a very busy man.  I'm just glad that, with everything he has to do, he would stop and think of me, and be sure to tell you to tell me that he is thinking of me.  He wishes he was here and is sorry he is not!  Well, I'm just glad that he, a busy man, such a very busy man, with big responsibilities, important things, is thinking of me.  He's thinking of me!  You tell your friend not to worry.  He's an important man.  You tell him, Thank you for thinking of me."

Given my limited perspicacity, I didn't realize until Berry was done offering reassurances that he was actually puncturing a pal who dared to have better things to do than meet at that moment with one of the Senate's top dogs -- and a widely beloved dog at that.  Had it not been out of line to do so, I would have burst out laughing at how well, how artfully, he had just pulled my pants down.  Instead, my face broke into a big, stupid grin, and a welcome sense of relaxation came over me.  "This guy has a wicked sense of humor," I said to myself. "Everything's going to be alright."  And so it was that day for me and the folks from the American Cancer Society

What a man, and what apiece of work, he was.



Good for Capuano: Beaten Badly, He Did Not Look Crushed or Even a Tad Angry

Friday, September 7, 2018

Now that Mike Capuano has lost, I’m hearing some grumbling to the effect he could have run a better campaign.  Some say he wasted too much time talking about Trump when he should have been taking the fight hard, much harder than he did, to Ayanna Pressley.

“In terms of experience and ability to get things done, she doesn’t belong in the same ring with him,” said one lifelong resident of the district who was sorry to see the curtain come down on Capuano's career.  “For whatever reason, or reasons, he decided it was too risky to attack her.  Well, look where that got him.”
At first, this line of reasoning made sense to me. But, the longer I thought about it, the less convincing it became. 

I’d try to conjure a mental picture of Capuano ripping into Pressley on the stage at some candidates’ forum or on the set of some TV program, and every time I did, Capuano came across as a bully and the audience looked pained.
It now seems to me that Capuano's candidacy was simply doomed on Tuesday, September 4, 2018.  There was nothing he could have done to beat Pressley.  She was a force of nature, an agent of fate.  His number came up.  He had to go.

Based on repeated viewings on the Internet of his concession speech, I suspect that’s what Capuano also thinks.
It was an extremely brief speech, less than two minutes, delivered extemporaneously.  There was no text, no checklist of persons and organizations to thank, no scripted paeans to the glories of public service and the majesty of the electoral process.

He had the air of a coach whose team has just lost the Superbowl by 40 points and knows he has to say something before the cameras but has zero appetite at the moment for analysis and reflection. 
“The district is very upset with lots of things that are going on,” Capuano said.  “I don’t blame them.  I’m just as upset as they are.  But, so be it.  That’s the way life goes.”

He did not look sad or beaten down.  It was as if he had known in his heart two days before he was going to lose and had willed himself to put the whole damn thing behind him.
He talked about how honored and grateful he was to have had the support of the folks in the room for so many years, over so many campaigns, then wrapped up with kind of a verbal shoulder shrug:

“We did everything we could to get this thing done…I’m sorry it did not work out.  But this is life.  This is OK.  America is going to be OK.  Ayanna Pressley is going to be a good congressman.  And I will tell you that Massachusetts is going to be well served.”
As Capuano exited the stage, the smile on his face was entirely genuine.  “You are all invited down to the Caribbean to have a drink with me on the beach!” he exclaimed.

I will not be surprised if he stays on that beach a long time.  Eight years as Mayor of Somerville.  Twenty years as a United States Representative in Washington.  Mike Capuano has a lot to think about, so much of it good.

 

 

 

Unfortunately for Stat Smith, He Had More House Signs in Everett than Votes

Thursday, September 6, 2018

In the case of Steven “Stat” Smith, the people of Everett were not willing to let bygones be bygones.  Thank God.

On Tuesday voters there decisively rejected Smith’s bid to regain his old seat in the Massachusetts House, a position he was forced from in 2012 by the U.S. Attorney because he’d abused the absentee ballot process.

Smith paid a $20,000 fine, was sentenced to four months in federal prison, and banned from running for public office again for a period of five years.  That ban was up in April.

Within days Smith was asking his townspeople to sign nomination papers to put him on the September 4 ballot in the Democratic primary for representative in the 28th Middlesex District.  He amassed more than 500 signatures in one weekend -- many multiples of the required number.
Smith ran an energetic, high-visibility campaign throughout the spring and summer.  He persuaded untold hundreds of Everett homeowners to put signs up promoting his candidacy.  You could not go a tenth of a mile without seeing a Stat Smith sign.  Smith even snagged the editorial endorsement of the newspaper of record, the Everett Leader Herald!

It was all for naught. 
When the votes were tallied Tuesday night, Smith was dead last behind the incumbent representative, Joe McGonagle, a well-liked and effective figure at the State House, and Gerly Adrien, a woman highly qualified for public office.  The results were: McGonagle, 1,968; Adrien, 1,800; Smith, 893. 

With no Republican opponent in November, McGonagle’s a lock for another term.
Smith was elected to the House three times.  I often bumped into him at the State House during his years there, 2007-2012.  He was a long-time friend of my late brother-in-law, Joe Curnane, Jr.  Joe thought the world of him.  Stat and I never had trouble finding something to talk about.  He was a good Everett guy, easy to like.  I liked him.

But I believe Smith’s guilty plea made him permanently undeserving of a vote for public office, any office.  Voting is the essence of a free and just democratic society.  Our system of government demands that the ballot be kept sacrosanct.
That is not to say Smith should never re-enter public life in some role, say as a member of the board of health or as a library trustee, or that he should be shunned in the community.   Smith paid the price for his crimes, two misdemeanor counts of voter fraud, and deserves every good chance at forgiveness and redemption -- as long as he isn’t trying to redeem himself, that is, through the local ballot box.

My first reaction to his candidacy was that Smith did not have a prayer.  Then I witnessed the steady proliferation of Smith house signs and started thinking, maybe I am missing something?
I kept expecting to see an ad in the local papers – there are three weeklies in Everett – or a flyer from the McGonagle or Adrien camps calling Smith out for having been a jailbird.  If such was produced, it escaped me.  Smith was getting a pass on his biggest weakness as a candidate!

I never expected to see a Leader-Herald editorial endorsing Smith. When it appeared just before the primary, on Thursday, August 30, the thought crossed my mind that the momentum might be shifting Smith’s way. I braced for a Stat comeback.
Turns out I worried needlessly. 

On Tuesday the voters of Everett restored my faith in humanity.  There’s a proverb that holds, “The judgment of the village is never wrong.”  Everett has a population of well over 50,000 but it is still like a village in many respects.  Everybody knows everybody.
Sitting on my desk is a copy of the pro-Smith editorial, headlined simply, “Smith for Rep.”  I read it again before starting to write this post.  Again, I marveled at how well it says basically nothing.  It has the feel of having come from the keyboard of a conscript whose heart wasn’t in it.  Here are three typical lines, followed by my comments in italic type…

“We believe he is the best choice because he is willing to work, and to work hard.”  80 percent of the Everett population qualifies for the legislature on that basis.
“Steven Smith has overcome trials and tribulations in his life.”  Where’s the person in Everett who, at 63 years (Smith’s age), has not overcome?

“He has worked hard and smart.” Except, of course, for that little absentee ballot caper.
“Smith for Rep” was written simply, which is usually a virtue in writing.  Had the Leader Herald wished to attain an even purer form of simplicity, it could have gone with a two-sentence editorial along these lines:

Yes, folks, a good smile has long been an element of success on Beacon Hill.  Stat gets our vote because he brushes and flosses.

Public Law School, Once a Controversial Concept in MA, Now Well Established

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Deval Patrick, a former two-term governor of Massachusetts, must be smiling at the news out of the University of Massachusetts School of Law at Dartmouth, formerly Southern New England School of Law.

On Thursday of last week, the school announced that its incoming class of first-year students, numbering 94, is 17.5 percent larger than last year’s, which had 80.  In a press release marking the start of the academic year, the school also said:

- Its incoming class is 42% larger than the class that entered in 2016, the year the school first earned full accreditation by the American Bar Association;
- First-year students come from 25 different states;

- Average age of first-year students is 27;

- Applications for admission increased this past year by more than 20 percent, from 782 to 940;

- 57 percent of applicants were admitted this year, whereas 64 percent were the previous year; It's getting harder to get in.

- Members of the Class of 2017 passed the bar exam on their first try at a rate of 72.7 percent, which placed them fifth behind the graduates of the law schools of Harvard, Boston College, Boston University and Northeastern;  The press release was discrete in that it did not mention the four in-state law schools whose 2017 graduates were bested in this category: Massachusetts School of Law in Andover, New England School of Law and Suffolk University in Boston, and Western New England School of Law in Springfield.

- UMass Law ranked first in New England in 2017 and 11th in nation for percentage of graduates holding jobs in public service: 27 percent.

Although it was a contentious and controversial idea for years prior to becoming a reality in 2010, UMass's operation of a law school no longer provokes argument or questioning. 

UMass Law was created through a take-over of Southern New England School of Law, or what some described as a "gift" by the school of itself to the state.  Southern New England, whose properties and facilities were valued at $23.2 million, had long experienced financial difficulties.

When the UMass take-over was first formally put forth, in 2005, the UMass board of trustees said no.  There were concerns over a possible negative impact on the state budget of a big, new division of UMass, and at least three of the existing private law schools in the state lobbied against the move.
Around that same time, when Deval Patrick was making his first run for governor, he campaigned in the southeastern part of the state on the theme that UMass should absorb and rejuvenate Southern New England and that Massachusetts residents seeking a career in the law, or related to the law, needed and deserved a lower-cost route to a degree.

In February, 2010, when the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education unanimously approved the take-over, Patrick was beginning his second term.  Richard Freeland, former president of Northeastern University and then the state’s commissioner of higher education, noted that the “politics were different” in 2010 than in 2005.
“You clearly had a very supportive governor who wanted to make this happen (the second time around),” Freeland said.

To further its objective of affordability, UMass Law has entered into “3 + 3 agreements” with seven different Massachusetts colleges and universities under which students may fulfill their undergraduate course requirements in three years, enroll at UMass, and earn law degrees in three years; 3 + 3 schools are: Becker College (Worcester), Fitchburg State, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (North Adams), UMass Boston, UMass Dartmouth, UMass Lowell, and Worcester State.

Massachusetts was quite late to the public law school arena, becoming the 45th state to have one.  New Hampshire, then Delaware followed suit.  Only Alaska, Rhode Island and Vermont now do not have public law schools.

Tuition at UMass Law is approximately 40 percent lower than the national average.

It Seems the Stock Market Doesn't Care What Joe Curtatone Drinks

Friday, August 24, 2018

With all due respect to the mayor of Somerville, sometimes you just got to have a Sam -- a Sam Adams beer, that is.

Which is why, today, it’s looking like the recent Trump-favorable remarks by the inventor of Sam Adams are not going to hurt beer sales, calls for a boycott notwithstanding.
Let’s back up to the start of this story.

On the night of Tuesday, August 7, Jim Koch, founder of the Boston Beer Co., which produces Sam Adams, was among 13 business leaders invited to a dinner-conference at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.  It was a political event designed to highlight the president’s economic agenda and record.
Following a brief speech, the president asked every business leader in the room to stand, introduce himself, and offer brief remarks.  When Koch’s turn came, he said, in part:

“I’m not quite sure why I’m here.  I’m like the smallest company by far.  I’m Jim Koch and I started making Sam Adams Beer in my kitchen 37 years ago…I guess I’m sort of speaking on behalf of what is now 7,000 small brewers in the United States.
“When I started Sam Adams, American beer was a joke, and it pissed me off…now, American brewers make the best beer in the world…the (Trump/Republican Party) tax reform was a very big deal for all of us because 85 percent of the beer made in the United States is owned by foreign companies…

“I’m the largest American-owned brewery at 2 percent market share.  We were paying 38 percent taxes…and competing against people (foreign brewers) who were paying 20…now we have a level playing field and we’re going to kick their ass.” 
The next day, I read Koch’s comments in The Boston Globe and was surprised he had stuck his neck out that far.  Maybe he’d been over-served his own product last night, I thought.  Purveyors of consumer products are famously reluctant to take outspoken positions for or against policies and elected office holders for fear of turning off their customers who might feel otherwise. When you live and die by volume sales, it’s best to steer clear of hot-button political issues.

And here we had one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the history of Massachusetts, if not the USA, throwing political caution to the wind. 
Koch is a genius-level business visionary and one of the world’s best salesmen --  a man with three Harvard degrees (BA, MBA and JD) who quit a $250,000-a-year job with the Boston Consulting Group in 1984, took his life savings and parlayed it into a company that, 34 years later, is worth more than a billion dollars.

Soon there were calls for a boycott of all Boston Beer Co. products, with the sharpest-edged one delivered by eight-term Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone.  “We need to hold these complicit profiteers of Trump’s white nationalist agenda accountable!” Curtatone tweeted, adding a few minutes later:
“I will never drink Sam Adams beer again!”

It’s been over a week since Curtatone slammed Koch for “sucking up to Trump” and floated his boycott idea.  There have been no reports so far of a negative impact on sales of Sam Adams.
One thing is clear, however. The controversy has not hurt the price of Boston Beer Co. stock.  As of this morning, company shares were trading at $307.70 apiece, only slightly below their all-time high of $314.52 in January, 2015, and miles above their low point of recent years, $163.05, which was recorded in February of this year, a mere seven months ago. 

I waver on Koch’s Bedminster escapade.  I think he was acting servilely and selfishly when he endorsed Trump’s deficits-be-damned/make-the-grandkids-pay-for-our-lifestyle approach to stoking the economy.  On the other hand, I think he deserves credit for having the guts to stand up in public and hail a widely reviled and detested president for actions that have strengthened his company and benefited his shareholders.

 

 

These Dazey Days of Summer, It Happens in Politics...

Thursday, August 23, 2018

THAT the Massachusetts Senate, during its brief informal session today, adopted a resolution congratulating David Sullivan, special counsel in the Office of the Senate President, on his retirement from state government, where he served ably for 41 years, winning countless friends and admirers along the way.  Sullivan provided counsel to former Secretary of State Mike Connolly (Bill Galvin’s predecessor), the Ethics Commission, and the Senate Ways & Means Committee.  He also served as general counsel in the budget office of former Governor Deval Patrick, now rumored to be considering a run for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President in 2020.

THAT Whitman’s state representative, Geoff Diehl, a candidate for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Elizabeth Warren, yesterday found a novel way of distinguishing himself from the incumbent by vowing not to write a book if he’s elected to the Senate.   Reacting to the news that Warren, in 2017, earned $430,379 in royalties from her book, “This Fight Is Our Fight,” Diehl asserted that a senator should be so busy working for his or her constituents that he/she does not have time to write books.
THAT Geoff Diehl, in my humble political view, may be overlooking the possibility that Senator Warren, while undoubtedly a capable wordsmith, may have had some help in penning “This Fight Is Our Fight.”  I had my mind on such matters permanently altered many years ago by something told to me by a gentleman who had been a manager in John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign.  This was around the time a book or article had been published, in which it was asserted that Ted Sorensen, not Kennedy, was the main author of Kennedy’s bestseller, “Profiles in Courage.”  Said I to this Kennedy hand, “That can’t be true, can it?  Kennedy was an excellent writer, right?”  Said he to me, “Kid, you have to understand, rich people would hire someone to go to the bathroom for them if they could.”

THAT Geoff Diehl and Scott Brown, a former Wrentham state representative who earned a surprise victory over former Attorney General Martha Coakley in the 2010 special election for U.S. Senate, only to lose the seat two years later to Elizabeth Warren, have much in common.  They’re both from humble backgrounds.  They’re both Republicans.  They’re both good looking and honorable. And they both perplex me out of my mind because they adore Donald Trump.  Brown’s Trump-love got him the ambassadorship to New Zealand, the best job on the planet.  I can’t help but wonder: what good deal could the cheddar-colored billionaire (thanks, Maureen Dowd) have in store for Diehl should Diehl be dealt defeat? 
THAT sometimes I can't help but conclude that Charlie Baker got the guy who’s challenging him for the gubernatorial nomination in the Republican primary, the Rev. Dr. Scott Lively, from Rent-a-Candidate.  There’s no possible way Baker can lose to a guy who, the day after Trump’s ex-personal lawyer/fixer pleads guilty to various crimes, puts out a press release with this opening paragraph: “The Fake News bloc is simply giddy over the betrayal of President Trump by his snake-in-the-grass former lawyer Michael Cohen (whose sleazy demeanor suggests he would give his own mother to cannibals to save himself from the ruthless Mueller political death squad) and the concurrent guilty verdict of former campaign manager Paul Manafort (whose years-old supposed financial crimes have absolutely nothing to do with Trump, the 2016 election, or Russian collusion).”

THAT, even though the Rev. Dr. Lively may be dwelling in an alternative political universe, I am beguiled by his verbal flair.  I wish I could come up with something as neat as Cohen would “give his own mother to cannibals to save himself from the ruthless Mueller political death squad.”  Were I so dexterous as to devise that, however, I wouldn’t waste it on the little problem, Cohen, when it applies so well to the big one, Trump.
THAT the Rev. Dr. Lively’s press releases are so much my guilty pleasure that I can’t help but quote now the last sentence of his “Fake-News-bloc-is-simply-giddy” masterpiece of the imaginative arts, which was: “In any case, whatever President Trump might have done in his past life as a New York liberal, he is today quite obviously a changed man with solid conservative principles and a deep respect for God and our constitution, and as such he deserves our full support in his role as Chief Executive of the United States.”

THAT the Mahhty Magic appears to be rubbing off on young Dan Koh, who aspires to succeed Niki Tsongas in the U.S. House of Representatives.  According to a UMass Lowell poll out today, Koh, who served as chief of staff to Boston Mayor Martin Walsh before being infected with the electoral virus, has a narrow lead in the 10-person race for the Democrat nomination in the state’s 3rd Congressional District. The poll indicates that Koh, with less than two weeks to go to the September 4 primary, has the support of 19 percent of likely voters.  Tied at second place, with the support of 13 percent of likely voters, were Rufus Gifford, a former ambassador to Denmark (second-best job on the planet) and State Senator Barbara L’Italien.  Is it just me, or does it seem to everyone like this race has been going on since the Clinton administration?  I cannot wait for September 5 to arrive. 
THAT the Massachusetts House, near the end of its brief informal session today, held a moment of silence in honor of and respect for two valiant young men from Saudi Arabia, Jaser Daham Al-Rakkah and Theeb Al-Yami, who drowned in the Chicopee River on June 29 while helping to save several children who were caught in an overpowering current.  Rep. Paul Donato of Medford, the presiding officer, said, “Both men selflessly put themselves in peril to try to save the children, and while the children were rescued, both Mr. Al-Rakah and Mr. Al-Yami perished. Mr. Al-Rakah was a student in the engineering program at Western New England University and Mr. Al-Yami was studying engineering at the University of Hartford.  Both will receive posthumous degrees from their respective universities.”  How can pessimism ever overtake optimism when there are human beings as good as Jaser and Theeb in this world?  The motion for the moment of silence/respect was made by Rep. Angelo Puppolo of Springfield. 

 

Political Life of MA Has Always Had a Distinct Cape Cod Flavor

Monday, August 6, 2018

One of the great things about computers and the Internet is they allow you to appear as if you are hard at work when you are not -- and when you are in fact loafing at some remote location and merely checking your emails and returning the occasional phone call to create the appearance of serious engagement. 

For example, today I am in Harwich on Cape Cod, where my wife and I are enjoying the hospitality of her sister at a house on a beautiful quiet side street, shaded by ancient pines and oaks and punctuated with birdsong during the day, while back in the urban heat island of Boston, my diligent colleagues are suffering the tortures of the damned.

But do not fear.  Our president has assured us that climate change is totally not real -- "fake news" propagated by Democrats, eco-terrorists and those horrendous "enemies of the people," the news media.  (Joe Stalin does a jig beneath the Kremlin Wall every time Trump trots out that "enemies" stuff.)

Speaking of Cape Cod, I noticed on the State House News Service that Father Rick Walsh, chaplain of the Massachusetts House, opened today's informal session of the lower branch at 11:03 a.m. with the following prayer:

"We give thanks for the seasonal heat and humidity and we pray that it does not last too long.  We pray today for those in danger of heat exhaustion and our women and men who work to bring us just and fair legislation, as well as their support staff.  Tomorrow marks the 57th anniversary of the creation of the Cape Cod National Seashore, the first time the federal government created a national park from land owned primarily by private entities.  We pray those who are enjoying that park today know the blessing that it is."

Note to Father Rick:  I am not on the National Seashore but I know how blessed I am to have a very kind and giving sister-in-law, Rosemary, and to have the opportunity to be on the Cape with her anytime we wish. 

Note to Father Rick's boss:  Thanks for that heavenly 76-degree ocean every day on my early-morning swim.

Speaking further of Cape Cod, I noticed on the State House News Service that the Massachusetts Senate adjourned its informal session today at 11:25 a.m. in memory of the late John Francis "Jack" Aylmer of Barnstable, who served six terms in the Senate (1971-82), was assistant minority leader for the Republicans in the Senate, and had a distinguished career as president (1981-91) of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, his alma mater (Class of 1957).  A Navy veteran and longtime merchant mariner, Aylmer held the rank of Rear Admiral at Mass. Maritime.  He died at his home on July 8 at the age of 84.

I looked up Aylmer's obituary online and learned that he was "raised in the villages of Osterville and Centerville." (That was in the days when the Cape was not close to being the rich man's preserve that it has regrettably become in so many locales.)  He graduated from Barnstable High School in 1952 and did a post-graduate year at Admiral Billard Academy, New London, CT.  Befitting a man of the sea, Aylmer financed his college education at the maritime academy by operating a tug boat for the New England Dock and Dredge Co.  He later earned a master's degree in education and a law degree. 

An outstanding athlete in his younger days, Aylmer played for the former Barnstable Barons in the Cape Cod (college all stars) Baseball League (1952) and participated in the founding of not one but two teams in the league, the Hyannis Harbor Hawks (1976) and the Bourne Braves (1988).  In 2012, he was named to the league's hall of fame as an administrator. 

May you rest in peace, Admiral.