SHARING A PARK BENCH QUIETLY

SHARING A PARK BENCH QUIETLY

Cedarburg Creek Bench 12-2019

Cedarburg WI on 70th Birthday

Can you imagine us years from today
Sharing a park bench quietly
How terribly strange to be seventy

I thought reaching 65 was “crossing the great divide.” That’s what it looked like five years ago when I wrote my Blog #18. Now on Blog #101, it’s “terribly strange to be seventy.”

I shared then my love for my wife Lynne, which has only grown stronger five years later as I look forward to sharing that park bench with her.

I noted then that we raised our son TJ at Wrigley Field and so assured his being cursed to be a Cubs fan. I prophesized then: “Perhaps, we are getting closer to the promised land in my life time.” And 2016 brought that World Series Championship dream to reality.

Logan & BaseballsNow Lynne jokes she has her “dream job” working guest services at Wrigley. TJ and his lovely wife Maureen are now raising our grandson Logan as the next generation Cubs fan.

Thanks to all you American taxpayers; I finally filed to receive my social security benefits.

This year’s “Birthday” horoscopes call to:

“Plan for the future you want this year. Realize dreams with focus and determination.”
“Learn something that sets you in a new direction, which could be crucial for your success next year. Why not explore meditation?”

Lucky for me, I’ve already started meditation. Perhaps, I can be more determined and focused to do it in 2020.

Not sure what the next five years will bring. Don’t know what # blog I might be drafting then. Can’t remember if there are any song lyrics about turning 75? Maybe someone will write them in the near future.

Hopefully, my memories of old friends can still be refreshed then, while the fears remain in abeyance.

Christmas 2019

Christmas 2019: TJ, Luna, Maureen, Logan, Leia, & Lynne

Old friends, memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fears

Time it was
And what a time it was
It was . . .
A time of innocence
A time of confidences

Long ago . . . it must be 
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you

Old Friends/Bookends
Written by: Paul Simon

THANKING OUR LUCKY STARS

THANKING OUR LUCKY STARS

God, let us be a table spread
with gifts of love and broken bread,
where all find welcome, grace attends,
and enemies arise as friends.

So WordPress congratulated me on my last blog, Welcoming Logan on the birth of our first grandchild, as my 100th blog. Actually, this is the 100th blog that I have written. In late June I re-blogged one from my blog mentor and friend Jan Wilberg

Jan & Swirl

Jan Wilberg & Swirl

who inspired me to start blogging 5 years ago.

I noted then that her blog Last Night on Outreach should be read by every Presidential candidate and every voter to fully understand that America cannot be great until there are no homeless in need of blankets.

It’s been a busy seven weeks at work since my last blog. So I started out my Thanksgiving morning catching up on Red’s Wrap blogs for inspiration. Here’s one from November 23rd that may prompt you to thank your lucky stars today: Light Heart.

We’ll be sharing Thanksgiving with our son TJ and our daughter-in-law Maureen as they prepare dinner for us, the Sanchez family, and of course Logan, who will need to wait until next year for any turkey. But then as a new Cubs fan, he’ll get use to waiting. Logan in Cubs Hat

But first, I’m “live-streaming” the Old St. Pat’s choir, including my wife Lynne, as they sing a prelude of American music before mass. This blog’s opening and closing lyrics are from Diverse In Culture, Nation, Race. When performed at Old St. Pat’s, it is to the tune Parting Glass as arranged by Mark Scozzafave, our Director of Music Ministries.

A blessed Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Diverse in culture, nation, race,
we come together by Your grace.
God, let us be a meeting ground
where hope and healing love are found.

God, let us be a bridge of care
connecting people everywhere.
Help us confront all fear and hate
and lust for power that separate.

When chasms widen, storms arise,
O Holy Spirit, make us wise.
Let our resolve, like steel, be strong
to stand with those who suffer wrong.

Author: Ruth C. Duck
©by Gia Publications, Inc.

WELCOMING LOGAN HUNTER WYSOCKI

WELCOMING LOGAN HUNTER WYSOCKI

He took his time; passed on the end of September; decided to keep the suspense rising throughout a Saturday. Logan 1st PhotoThen at 3:25 am on Sunday, October 6, 2019, Logan Hunter Wysocki announced he was ready for what the world had in store.

Kudos to mother Maureen for her patience and persistence. Logan, you owe her big time!
Congrats to TJ. Logan, listen to him. He’s a great son and will be a terrific father.

Grandma Lynne & I look forward to those precious moments to come. Logan 1st Grandparents' Photo.jpegWe already checked out how old you need to be to start Aqua Babies swim lessons.

There’s a lot of history to catch up on. There’s already a neighborhood named Logan Square, where we’ve lived for 40 years and raised your dad. Boston has Logan Airport. Maybe you’ll fly there for college.

I’m sure your Mom & Dad will watch the movie, Logan, with you when they think you’re ready to learn about super heroes. You may need to be a hero yourself. You see we are really trying to save the world.

Without knowing your arrival date, I marched in your honor on September 20th led by Chicago youth who joined a record 7.6 million people on the streets across the globe that Friday and again on Friday September 27th for climate action. It was the biggest climate mobilization to date in history.

Climate Strike 9-27-19 Rome

Climate Strike Rome 9/27/2019 with message for you Logan

Logan, I can’t promise that climate change will have been mitigated by the time you’re old enough to march. You may have to join others in your generation to keep demanding climate action. Not sure I’ll be able to march with you then but will welcome hearing your stories and photos of the signs.

Remember it’s a wonderful world. It’s worth striving to save it. Welcome Logan!

I see trees of green, red roses, too,
I see them bloom, for me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue, and clouds of white,
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.

I hear babies cryin’. I watch them grow.
They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Yes, I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Songwriters:
GEORGE DAVID WEISS,
GEORGE DOUGLAS,
BOB THIELE

SWARVING IN NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR

SWARVING IN NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR

Some visitors tasted our Newfoundland Screech
Tipped up the bottle drank 6 ounces each
And they let out a yell as they ran for our beach
Thank God we’re surrounded by water.

The sea, oh the sea, the wonderful sea
Long may she roll between nations and me.
So everyone here should get down on one knee
And thank God we’re surrounded by water!

Check out YouTube link above

Lynne & I finally did our first Road Scholar trip this August. As usual, we chose to head north to avoid Chicago’s heat. We have enjoyed other Canadian visits to Nova Scotia, Quebec and New Brunswick. This time we went even further north and east to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.NF Battle Harbour Sunset

Our Road Scholar guide and host, Tony Oxford, made our journey through this beautiful land even more outstanding. NF Tony OxfordSharing his personal life experiences furthered our learning about the local culture. His great music fostered quick cohesion among our group of 22 from around the US.

I sort of knew that Newfoundland was an island but appreciated its history of fishing and whaling even more as we all joined in thanking God we were surrounded by water. We had discovered Screech rum decades ago when visiting the Fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. So we made sure to find it one morning at the local market before our bus moved on.

There were several “mauzy mornings.” Translation: cloudy and foggy. Tony would introduce a new word or Newfoundland saying each morning. The first “Whadda y’at?” translates as “What are you up to?” The appropriate response: “This is It!” I’m talking to you. Not sure if I got “swarving” right; maybe we were only swerving when we were on our own.

The highlights of our 10 days were numerous. My top 6 were:

1. Watching four whales feeding along the coast of St. Anthony’s

NF Whale 3

Photo Courtesy of Allan March

2. Red Bay UNESCO World Heritage Site on the history of Basque whaling industry in the 1500s.
3. Battle Harbour National Historic Site, the center of Labrador fishing for centuries.NF Battle Harbour
4. Western Brook Pond Fjord at the northernmost extension of the Appalachian Mountains.NF Western Brook Fjord
5. L’Anse-aux-Meadows National Historic Site where Leif Erickson first encamped.
6. Point Amour Lighthouse, tallest in Atlantic Canada.NF Point Amour Lighthouse

 

Another Newfoundland phrase we quickly embraced describes our visits perfectly as “Best Kind.”

Thanks to Tony, we and our new Road Scholar friends learned to sing with gusto another classic in Newfoundland culture:

I’ve done a lot of living and I’ve found
No matter where you go the whole world ’round
They always go together hand in hand
Where there’s one there’ll be the other, music and friends

If we take the time to make them
Nothing else can take the place
Of music and friends
Nothing makes the whole world right
Like music and friends

Check out YouTube link above

ACHIEVING THE HOLY TRIFECTA

ACHIEVING THE HOLY TRIFECTA

And I am not alone while my love is near me
I know it will be so until it’s time to go

July 21, 1979Yes, we discovered soon after we first met in 1975 that we both enjoyed folk music. I may not have known that Judy Collins cover of “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” was written in 1969 by Sandy Denny. Merging our LP collections, Lynne and I would wed on July 21, 1979. So I have not been alone ever since we met.

We planned our celebration with family around the Holy Trifecta of mass at Old St. Patrick’s, then baseball’s cathedral of Wrigley Field, and followed with Sunday dinner at Chief O’Neill’s Pub.40th OSP

We’ve been OSP parishioners for over 25 years since our son, TJ, started school there. Lynne has been a choir member for over 20 years. My great Irish aunt made her first communion there in the early 1900s as did TJ at the close of the century. So it is a holy place for us.

We’ve been Cubs season ticket holders since 1985, before TJ was even born. So yes, he was raised a Cubs Fan at Wrigley Field. So it was a special moment to be invited on the field and now the big 40th Wrigleyvideo screen as the Season Ticket Holder of the Game. How was the game? Like so many others we’ve seen; the Cubs lost. But the confines were friendly and it was a beautiful day for a ball game.

Completing the Holy Trifecta of our 40th Wedding Anniversary was celebrating with Irish pints and food along with my family, some of Lynne’s siblings, and our new extended family thanks to our daughter-in-law Maureen, whose parents celebrated their 50th Wedding anniversary earlier this summer. Lots of love present in the pub that night. Look forward to more in the years ahead.

40th Chief

The Wysocki, Cunningham and Sanchez families

For who knows how my love grows?
And who knows where the time goes?

PLUNDERED THEN & NOW

PLUNDERED THEN & NOW

“It is tempting to divorce this modern campaign of terror, of plunder, from enslavement, but the logic of enslavement, of white supremacy respects no such borders. And the god of bondage was lustful and begat many heirs: coup d’états and convict leasing, vagrancy laws and debt peonage, redlining and racist G.I. bills, poll taxes and state-sponsored terrorism.” Ta-Nehisi Coates before US Congress, June 19, 2019

I had already decided to use “Plundered” for the title of this blog. But Ta-Nehisi placed it in an even broader context in his historic Juneteenth testimony on the necessity for our nation to discuss what steps should be taken toward restorative justice for Black communities, including the topic of reparations.

I had already been inspired by the May 30, 2019 Chicago Sun-Times story by Carlos Ballesteros: ‘Plunder of black wealth’:  Predatory housing contracts gouged Chicago’s black homeowners, new report says.

The report — “The Plunder of Black Wealth in Chicago: New Findings on the Lasting Toll of Predatory Housing Contracts — was produced by a dozen researchers from Duke, Loyola University, Roosevelt University and the University of Illinois at Chicago and published by Duke University’s Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity.

It is the first study to put a dollar amount on how much wealth was extracted from Chicago’s black community in the 1950s and 60s through home sale contracts. “The total amount expropriated from Chicago’s black community due to land sales contracts,” the report concludes, is anywhere “between $3.2 billion and $4 billion.”

Family Properties CoverI have blogged before about the predatory rip-off of “contract sales.” I noted Beryl Satter’s book “Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America” about the work of her father Mark Satter, an activist attorney seeking justice. I commented in December 2014 that in these current turbulent times “it merits remembering that justice has been sought for decades.” Ta-Nehisi Coates reminds us that it has been over 150 years.

Mark Whitehouse in his June 17, 2019 Bloomberg Opinion, Black Poverty Is Rooted in Real-Estate Exploitation, recaps the continued plundering in the 1970s. The federal government offered Federal Housing Administration [FHA] as an alternative loan that blacks assumed was a good product.  Instead it too was used by sleazy real estate brokers to “block bust” and sell shoddy homes to unsuspecting black buyers. Whitehouse cites the FHA scandal of the 1970s, in which indiscriminate federal lending and outright corruption enabled speculators to sell inner-city homes to blacks at inflated prices, resulting in widespread foreclosures.

cities-destroyed-for-cashThis is where the vicious cycle of plundering was when I began my organizing career in 1974. Whitehouse embeds in the word scandal above a link to Cities Destroyed for Cash: The FHA Scandal at HUD published in 1973. As a volunteer graduate student, I was inspired by Brian Boyer, who investigated and wrote this book, when he spoke to over 1,000 multi-racial community leaders from across the country gathered in a Chicago Catholic school hall.

When he was done, Gale Cincotta [a white ethnic Greek] told the extraordinarily for the time diverse crowd: “We have met the enemy and it is not us. It is our own government.” Witnessing the launch of a national movement, that would take on the American Bankers Association, the Federal Reserve Board and the US Department of Housing & Urban Development, was a career motivator. Having Gale as a mentor for over a decade was worth the PhD I never got.DISCLOSURE Sept 1974

Whitehouse embeds in the word enabled a link to a 2014 blog that quotes Beryl Satter from her book:

“The scandal involved the abandonment and ruin of over 240,000 units of housing nationwide—enough to house over one million people. In Detroit alone, more than 25,000 houses had been abandoned—about 10 percent of the city’s housing stock. The cost to the U.S. government was estimated at close to $4 billion, in preinflationary, early-1970s money.”

Most recently, we had the plundering of the subprime boom of the 2000s. Whitehouse justly condemns it for steering blacks into “inappropriately expensive loans that enriched a whole ecosystem of mortgage-industry professionals, but often left borrowers with nothing but an eviction notice and a bad credit history. In the wake of the subprime bust, investors including private-equity firms have again targeted the same neighborhoods, buying up houses on the cheap and renting them back to black and other minority tenants — sometimes under contracts very similar to those of the 1960s”

This Whitehouse embedded link takes us to Old Wine in Private Equity Bottles? The Resurgence of Contract‐for‐Deed Home Sales in US Urban Neighborhoods by former colleague Dan Immergluck from my years at the Chicago Association of Neighborhood Development Organizations [CANDO].

Whitehouse opens his column with the question that every Presidential candidate should answer:

One question is — or should be — central to any assessment of the state of America: Why, more than a century and a half after slavery ended, does the typical black family remain so much poorer than the typical white family?

My answer: They continue to be plundered. It is in all of our interests as a nation “indivisible” for it to STOP to assure “justice for all!” That’s the country I pledged my allegiance to.