On and On
After returning from the Philippines in March, 1998 I started to consider What Now? I no longer was a full time faculty member with Syracuse University but for a couple of years I taught a course in the summer. Much of the teaching I did was to part time graduate students who were employed full time in industry. Their motivation was to get through the course with a minimum amount of time allocated to it because they also were working at maintaining their jobs and families and many felt they were under extreme pressure. In this environment I noticed that I was getting a bit edgy with the students and this was the sign to me that my teaching days should end. While I miss Sally tremendously I was not morose – we had had a great life together during our 50 years of marriage and I still had some life to live. I decided that I should go to the Philippines to have a memorial service for Sally so I arrived there late in January and I stayed till March. We had a meeting in the Chapel where folks could talk about Sally, and it was wonderful.
After I returned from the Philippines I continued with the nice thing of having a weekly luncheon date with Jim and Mark. I enjoyed talking with them and sharing what was on my mind. One time we were meeting at a plaza and I saw Dolores Morgan walking along. We stopped and chatted and set a date to have a drink and dinner. This was a great date! A friend of mine, John Timothy Smith died in June. He and I knew each other from many years before, but we were both in cardiac rehab after heart operations. So I called Dolores to see if she were going to the funeral and so we went together since Dolores had known him for many years. (Nancy Murray claims she predicted at this time that Dolores and I would be getting married.) I then had a recurrence of chest pains and Dr. Battaglia inserted a couple of stents. It has been fine ever since.
After a little foray to Washington, D.C., I decided to head to Alaska and bum around there for a while. I flew to Fairbanks and we flew over Mount Denali around midnight and the sight was fantastic. In Fairbanks I met up with the Villarica’s who had driven up the Alcan Highway. They are driving fanatics and decided they wanted to see the Arctic Ocean. So they continued on to Prudhoe Bay on the Beaufort Sea. I did some sightseeing around Fairbanks instead and when they returned I joined them on a trip to Anchorage. We toured around Denali on the way and then continued the journey to Anchorage. I parted ways with the Villarica’s because they were to continue on to the southern end of the Alcan Highway and I stayed in Anchorage to visit with Gail and Bob French. (Gail’s father was Bob Pettengill, Janet’s second husband.) This is a picture of Janet and Bob Pettengill.
When I flew to the Philippines earlier this year the flight I took ran into some equipment problems and had to land in Anchorage. We had to spend the night there so I called Gail and she picked me up so that I could spend the night with her family. That was great for me since I didn’t have to spend the night in the airport.
But now it is the beginning of summer and I decided to spend several days visiting with Gail. One of Janet’s daughters, Evie, showed up and so the four of us went camping for a few days – Gail, her daughter Kelly, Evie and me. Gail drove us to the Wrangell Mountains along the Copper River. She decided to stop and do some net fishing for salmon for dinner. Lucky for her no salmon swam into her net or I believe she would have been upended from the weight of the fish and the velocity of the river water. We continued on to Kennecott which is an abandoned copper mine.
This is a picture of me after a hard day of being driven along a back road in Alaska. The road ran along the bed of an old railroad and, as expected, got a flat tire. The area is covered with iron scraps and nails. Gail was all prepared for this and immediately swapped with the spare. While she was doing this a van loaded with tourists sped by us and waved heartily. We then resumed our trek and a little way down the road we encountered the van pulled to the side and with a flat tire. So Gail stopped and we found out they were Korean tourists, spoke little English, and could not figure out how to find a spare tire in their rented vehicle or even if there was one. They also were quite worried because the rental agency would forbid them to travel on this remote roadway. So, Gail pitched in, showed them where the tire was and changed it for them. What a gal! Further down the road joined a larger highway and there we found a service station and both flat tires were repaired.
After a couple of days my sister Janet flew in from Hawaii bringing with her her grandson Myles. He is the son of Padmani (Carol Ann) and David Luedtke. David leases a commercial fishing license off Kodiak Island and Myles, Janet and I then flew to Kodiak Island which is just off the coast and southwest of Anchorage. Myles had been there before and knew just what to do to find his Dads cabin. This is a picture of the cabin where we stayed for the next few days. It is on the ocean and at the foot of a mesa. The mesa is well populated with Kodiak bears so we steered clear of that. There are many eagles in the area and it was fascinating to watch them circle and feed. The shoreline is littered with trees and logs that have been washed ashore over the years.
After spending some time here I returned to the mainland to continue my exploration of unknown (to me) lands. Janet and Myles stayed on Kodiak for several more days. Upon returning to Anchorage I flew to Whitehorse in the Yukon and traveled via rail to Skagway back in Alaska. This was the jumping off point for the great gold rush in the late eighteen hundreds. I then went via the marine highway to Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka. In Ketchikan I bummed a ride with a bush pilot who was delivering mail to some of the settlements on the inner passage and visited a small school on one of the work sites. All in all it was a most interesting trek. Returning to Anchorage I flew to Kirkland, Washington and spent a day with my niece Essie before flying back to Syracuse.
So now it is August, 1998, and time to move on. I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I did not want to live alone so I wondered what I might do about that. I even went so far as to follow up a personal ad in the Scotsman and that proved to be useless. Dolores and I started dating a little oftener. One time we went to Toronto to see “The Phantom of the Opera” and then did a bit of sightseeing around Toronto and Niagara Falls. In the fall of 1998 we drove to Vermont to view the foliage which is particularly beautiful with the sugar maples. Then the following spring we went to New Mexico and attended an Elder Hostel in Santa Fe. While there I found an anti-nuke demonstration going on, so I joined in that. We then rented a car and drove around the state including Gallup and into Arizona at Canyon de Chelly. We returned to New Mexico in the spring of 1999 and attended the Gathering of Nations and visited with Dolores’ brother in Albuquerque. The travel bug was really biting us so in April we drove to Gettysburg to view the Civil War battlefield. This was very moving – as we moved around you could almost feel the battle still going on and sense the death and destruction. We then went on to DC since there was another anti-war demonstration and we joined that. We then went to visit Dolores’ Aunt Vela. To top it off we visited Jefferson’s mansion in Virginia and Southern prison camp at Andersonville. In June I had an episode of chest pains and had a couple of stents inserted into my heart and it is been fine since then.
Dolores and I were spending a lot of together – in fact we started going to morning mass together at St. Andrew’s church. Also we looked at houses for sale in the Bradford Hills area and found one really nice one at 116 Killian Drive. My heart started to act up in other ways and in June I had a stent installed in my heart. On July 4th I had a holiday party at 212 Standish Drive and a great group of people showed up.
All of this mutual activity worked out so well for us that I realized I really loved her and so on July 5, 1999 I proposed that we get married. She agreed with me and so we were about ready to start our new lives together. Like the guy that I am I did not think ahead to any extent and I had not even thought about getting together with her to pick out an engagement right. Dolores and I had known each other for 36 years by this time and the time we shared back in the mid sixties left an indelible mark. So it seemed to me almost preordained that we would make a permanent bond.
Dolores wanted to put off the wedding until the next spring, ostensibly to save her deposit money on her apartment. But after some discussion we decided to have the big event Thanksgiving weekend, in particular on Saturday, November 27. We also decided that I would make an offer on the house at 116 Killian Drive. However, Dolores almost immediately left for Atlanta to participate in the wedding of her son Joe and I made the offer on the house shortly after that and after some negotiation it was accepted by the owners. We decided we would not announce our wedding plans until after the wedding of Joe and Mary. In late July I went to Atlanta and Joe and Mary were married on July 31. When we announced our plans it was well accepted and after a little touring around Atlanta we returned to Syracuse.
MaryAnn Gibson had a birthday party later in August which we attended. In the party I gave a little talk about MaryAnn and then made our announcement – it was greeted very joyously, to say the least. We decided to have the wedding at Dolores’ church, St. Anthony’s. We decided to ask Bishop Tom Costello to give the homily and he readily agreed. Thanksgiving Day was November 25th and Dolores prepared a meal for all the family here for the wedding. She served some 30 people two days before our wedding. Friends of Dolores who were priests officiated at the mass and Jim gave a Jewish final blessing. Our attendants were my sister Janet and Dolores’ sister Sister Clementine. Here is a picture of the happy couple. The church was packed. We had prepared our own vows and each of us said:
Here in the presence of God, our families and this community, I declare my love for you. I believe that the love I have for you will grow and deepen in the coming years. I pledge to you that I will strive to make our lives joyful and meaningful. I take you for my wife/husband fully aware that together we will find our way. Dolores/John, grow older with me for in God’s plan our youth is but the half. The best is yet to come.
The wedding reception was held at Lemoyne College where Dolores had been a member of the Board of Trustees.
For the first couple of months after we were married we stayed around our new home and got used to the new habitat. We also started our routine of having an open house on January 1, and the house was jammed with our friends.
By March, 2000, we were ready to go and flew to Birmingham, Ala, where we met Joe and his new wife, Mary. We drove on to Selma to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Voters Rights demonstrations. I couldn’t locate the apartment of Mary Lamar which is where I stayed back in 1965. Dick Gregory was at the celebration to relive the day. Then we drove around and visited a BMW factory that was making $50,000.00 SUVs, and then we drove across Georgia to attend an Elderhostel in Beaufort, South Carolina.
In April we flew to Albuquerque to attend the Gathering of Nations. We then drove by way of Java Junction to visit Taos. We saw an outstanding valence in Taos and had one made to fit our double windows in 116 Killian Dr. The picture shows it in our breakfast room.
We spent Easter with Dolores’ brother Fitzi, and his wife Jacki. That wrapped up our first trip as husband and wife. Was that our “honeymoon”?
During the summer of 2000 I taught a course at SU. After all that work we need a vacation so in October we joined a tour organized by Catholic Review and went to Rome for the canonization of Sister Bakhita. We made the usual tour of northern Italy but failed see the Sistene Chapel or Michelangelo’s statue of David. We then left the tour and went to Lake Como for a couple of days. At the train station in Milan I almost lost one of our bags but a security officer saw it was left on the platform and impounded it. We were able to prove it was ours and they returned it to us. We thus missed our train to Lake Como but did indeed got the next one so all turned out OK.
After our New Years Open House in 2001 we then flew down to Florida in February. We started in Fort Myers and then visited Warren and Joyce in Naples. They also have a home in Chokoloskie so we stayed there a couple of days then drove on to the Everglades. That convinced Dolores not to ever go there again – the mosquitoes found her particularly tasty. Then we drove on to Key West, turned in the car, and flew back to Syracuse. That ended any desire on our parts to vacation in Florida!
In March, 2001, we flew to San Francisco and attended an Elderhostel there that reviewed the history of the area. We had dinner on Fisherman’s Wharf, took the boat to Alcatraz and of course rode the cable cars. After that we rented a jeep and drove to Salinas. This was a high point of the trip as it included a visit to the Steinbeck Museum and also saw the golf course at Pebble Beach. We found we could easily add another leg to the trip so we flew to Hawaii and toured Oahu and The Big Island (Hawaii). We did this with Janet and thus had a mini family reunion. The volcano on the Big Island did us a favor by erupting nicely and we really enjoyed the night time viewing of the lava flowing into the Pacific. Of course we visited Pearl Harbor and I was reminded of my claustrophobia when I couldn’t finish a tour of a WWII submarine that was on display.
In June we flew to Seattle and were there for the birth of Shannon’s daughter Jayda. So this is another great grandchild for Dolores. Her grandchild Jay graduated from high school so that added a little academia to the trip. We decided to do some more hunting around and drove to Portland, OR, since we had never been there. While there we made sure to see the statue of Portlandia that Greg Pettengill was involved with. We then reversed direction and drove to Vancouver Island and bought some statuary in the Empress Hotel gift shop. This was the largest single purchase of such goods I have ever made. We visited Vancouver and I was very impressed with the environment of the city. We also visited the University of British Columbia and again very impressive. We wrapped up June by attending Rina’s graduation from High School. We then flew to Green Bay and drove up to Iron Mountain. I wanted Dolores to see firsthand where I grew up and also meet some of my remaining relatives. This included John Paul and Ethel and a tour of Brockway Mountain and the Copper Country. The summer ended with a pool party attended by Fitzy and Linda Corp Knapp and a course taught by me at Syracuse University.
Then came September 11, 2001.
I submitted the following letter to the Post Standard
September 17, 2001
To the Editor
“The war rhetoric from the President is frightening. He seems to imply that the military will be involved, and that they will search for ways to kill bin Laden. This means of course that there will be ‘collateral’ damage – death of civilians. I believe that if we follow this path we will end up with a real war between the Arab world and the west. Bin Laden will have achieved his objective. If we really want to bring the terrorists to justice, then declare bin Laden a criminal, and marshal the justice forces of the world to track down him and his cohorts and bring them to trial. But to start bombing and killing will cause millions of people to really believe that the US is the evil doer, and bin Laden will have achieved another objective of his.”
Joe Morgan died September 13 and so we went to Atlanta to attend his funeral. This was the second son of Dolores’ to die. A few years earlier, in 1997, Martin had died. What a life Dolores has led.
In October we flew to a tour run by Grand Circle Travel of Spain and Portugal. We flew to Madrid and then we stayed on Costa del Sol for a week and decided this is no place to go to run away from cold weather. On this tour we also went to Gibraltar and a short side trip to Lisbon, Portugal. In December we flew back to Seattle for Shannon’s wedding to Andre Griffin. It is there that Michael met Varnessa, Andre’s mother, and they just hit it off. Even Dolores thought Varnessa was something really special. So did Michael.
2002 started off with us visiting Egypt and Jordan in February and March. After arriving in Cairo we flew to Aswan and began an idyllic ride down the Nile that last for 9 days. The picture shows me cavorting with a belly dancer while sailing down the Nile. After spending more time in Cairo we flew to Amman, Jordan and visited Fr. Kevin O’Connell the former president of Lemoyne College. Of course we visited Petra then finally flew back to Syracuse. The rest of the summer we were at home except for a trip in May to visit Rina at St. Mary’s college in Maryland. We drove there with Jim and Jill and that was very nice to spend some time together. By November we had the travel bug and took a GCT tour of Italy. We made sure we visited the Sistene Chapel and also met Maryann and Jesse Hendrix along with Jay and Shannon and Jayda. The tour continued down the Amalfi Coast we visited Naples, Pompey and Sorrento. We then ended up in Pisa and Dolores got to see Michelangelo’s David in Florence.
2003 began with a trip to Manila. After leaving Syracuse we stopped in Seattle to visit with Michael and rest up a bit before the Pacific hop. Upon arriving in Manila we met Rachel as I had made arrangements for her to visit the Philippines with Dolores and me. We stayed a couple of days with the Villarica’s as no trip to visit the Philippines would be complete with seeing those good friends. Then we flew to Cebu. We were met by a group of my friends from the University of San Carlos and so the visit was off to a great start. Dolores and I stayed in Santo Nino Village in the tourist gardens where I had stayed several times. I had made arrangements for Rachel to stay in the apartment Sally and I had occupied in the Talamban Campus of the University. We took a side trip to Bohol as a way of completing the indoctrination of Dolores and Rachel. After a couple of weeks in the Philippines Rachel returned to the States and Dolores and I flew to Bangkok, arriving there on February 13. There we met the GCT tour and in particular made new friends of Charlie and Lita Askanas. We visited northern Thailand including Chang Mai and Chang Rai. The tour also included a side trip to Myanmar and Laos and then we flew back to Manila and thence to Syracuse on March 2.
On April 4, 2003, we took a GCT tour that started in Lima, Peru. Then we flew to Cuzco and Macchu Picchu. I developed a short spell of altitude sickness while in Cuzco but it didn’t seriously interfere with our traveling.
In May we went to Rachel’s graduation from Mount Holyoke and then to Missouri where she received the Truman Scholarship award. Quite a gal. We stayed in the East for the rest of the summer – drove to Ottawa to see the changing of the guard and then there was a wide ranging electrical blackout just after we left Canada.
In late April we started on a lengthy tour of parts of Europe. We started in Warsaw and began a GCT tour with our friends the Askanas’. In this process we stopped at Auschwitz, which is not far from Krakow. This left us in awe of how cruel people can be. The Holocaust becomes very real when such a place still exists. The tour passed through Prague and it was particularly meaningful to our Polish guide. While we were traveling the rules changed and she no longer needed a passport to go from Poland to the Czech Republic. The tour ended in Budapest. We then made our way via train to Vienna, Munich and Paris. There we joined another GCT tour that went down the Seine to Normandy where we visited Omaha Beach one of the D-Day landing sites. We then bussed back to Paris and took a train to Frankfurt. MaryAnn lived there and we attend her son DJ’s high school graduation. After that we took a train to Amsterdam and spent several days in that area. We visited my niece Jackie Broek and Professor Kuik, a man I had worked with in the Philippines. That ended our odyssey and we flew back to Syracuse.
During this time Dolores came to meet a woman, Maureen Anderson. Then some interesting event occurred. At one time Maureen was visiting relatives in Upper Michigan – her folks lived in Iron Mountain, Michigan. Maureen has an uncle, Robert Peterson who lives in Chassell, Michigan. A notable point is that Robert Peterson is married to my cousin, Rita Bishop – Rita’s mother and my mother were sisters. Well Maurteen was in the Peterson home chatting with her uncle and somehow the Brule’ name was mentioned – Maureen indicated she knew of Dolores and John Brule and the lights came on! John and Maureen are some sort of cousins!! So this is a delightful coincidence and another nice part about it is that at one time Maureen and her husband Doug ordered some pasties flown in from Upper Michigan and she invited us over for dinner. What a great way to spend an evening. So now we see each other from time to time and it is great to have an extended family around.
For some weeks Warren and Janet and I had talked about getting together. We all felt it would be a good idea to share our memories about our life in Hancock. Janet had the original idea to do it, and we slowly chatted about the gathering. At some point Dolores said “Why don’t you push it, John, and make it happen?” That got me going, so I contacted Janet and told her that I was going to try to set a date. We talked it over, and it seemed to Janet that sometime in the first two weeks of June would be best for her.
In mid May I called Warren, and we talked about it, and I told him that I was writing a sort of autobiography. “I really can’t say much about the three of us as children in Hancock, because I don’t remember much about Janet during that time. How is your memory about that time?” He indicated somewhat the same feeling, but he remembers more because he is about 1 ½ years older than I. I’m 5 years younger than Janet and she left home while I was barely a teenager.
Well, we were proceeding along the path of meeting, and decided that we should all be in Kingsford at Warren’s home around June 8 or so. Then Janet emailed us to ask if it would be OK if she and Roger stayed together in Warren’s house. Roger is Janet’s man friend, who, incidentally, neither Warren nor I had met. Warren indicated he didn’t care, and it seemed we were on target. However the situation became clouded when I called Warren to just chat with him and he was quite upset. Part of his concern was whether we were going to have an inquisition type of meeting. That is, would we be digging up old decisions and second guessing them? Also, he didn’t like the idea that at times the three of us would be talking without Joyce and Roger being involved with us. “What do you think they are going to do, they don’t even know each other”, he said. When I reported this to Janet she decided she and Roger would stay in a motel, and told Warren that. He would not accept that – “you’re stay at our house”, he said. Janet immediately agreed since now she had a direct invitation to do just that.
So all that fluff passed on, and our original plans took hold. Janet and Roger flew in to Milwaukee on Tuesday the 7th, and drove to Kingsford that day. That made a long trip for them, since they flew to Milwaukee overnight from Honolulu. I left Syracuse on the 8th and flew to Green Bay. I rented a car and drove to Kingsford, arriving late in the afternoon.
After I arrived we all five sat around and chatted, and got to know each other. Dolores had originally decided that she would not join us, feeling that we three siblings needed time to get together alone. However, it turned out that Dolores’ daughter in Augusta, Georgia, had an operation on June 3, so Dolores went to help her out in the post operation phase. She left Syracuse June 2, and returned June 12.
Up in Kingsford Janet got us started talking about what we remembered about Mondays at home. This was especially about washing the clothes, the soap bars we shaved, and then walking to the Venice Café to buy a pot of spaghetti for supper. Of course mother’s great love was to be asked to substitute at the school. She had given up teaching in order to raise the family, but returned to teach full time as soon as she could after we three left home.
For about 40 minutes or so we continued to talk about our memories of growing up in Hancock. We got it straightened out what dates we were married, kids born, and for Janet her separation from Paul and eventual divorce. Our conversation was going on so well the we decided we didn’t want to go out to dinner but instead had some pizzas delivered.
Since we had been raised in a strict Roman Catholic home the conversation drifted over to churches, beliefs, and how that affected our lives. Roger was brought into the conversation at this time, and he had some well modulated thoughts to share with us.
I had hoped that the meeting would be more successful in having us share our young lives. At this point I think it was a mistake to open it up beyond just the three of us, but there was no way to do that.
The summer of 2004 moved on and I went to my Urologist for a checkup on my rather minor kidney stone. He took a sonogram to see what was going on with it and he announced to me that he saw I had a seven centimeter aneurism in my aorta. I was immediately n touch with a vascular surgeon and a plastic tube was inserted in my aorta to prevent the explosion.
We ushered in 2005 with our New Year’s Day open house and then on January 10 flew to Malaga/Torremolinos, Spain we stayed 4 weeks in an apartment in Bajandillo with a side trip to Tangiers, Morocco. That was not a good time to be vacationing on the Mediterranean. So on March 27 we flew to Rio de Janero to start a cruise around South America. We took this cruise with the Askanas’s and again had a great time. We traveled to Montevideo, Uruguay, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the Falklands (Malvinas in Argentina!). Then we went around Cape Horn and the rough water was great! We went up the Beagle Channel and ended the cruise in Valpariso, Chile. We went on to Santiago and had the good timing to visit with Dolores’ granddaughter Clementa. So then back to Syracuse.
We spent the rest of the summer in Syracuse.
October, 2005. Flew to Johannesberg, South Africa. Stayed there a couple of days visiting Soweto, then flew to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Then we flew back to Johannesberg and joined a tour from the office of Black Catholics. Went again to Soweto and visited the Apartheid Museum. Bussed to Kroeger National Park and saw the five main animals: lion, giraffe, hippopotamus, leopard, elephant.
We returned to Johannesberg then flew to Capetown where we saw Robbin Island- the place where Mandela was imprisoned. Then we flew to Dakar, Senegal and went to Goree Island, thence to The Gambia. That brought us to the home island of Kunte Kinte. We then bussed back to Dakar and then flew back to Syracuse.
In January,2006, after our New Years Day Open House we went on a six day cruise of the Caribbean with Michael and Varnessa. We had fun when we snorkeled on Grand Cayman and fed the sting rays. Then on to Jamaica and Ocho Rios. We had reserved an apartment for us in Buenos Aires – on Basavilbaso We were there for four weeks. During that time we met Ariel Lutenberg a PhD student in Electrical Engineering at the University of Buenos Aires. We saw him every year after that for the next four years and one time he visited us in Syracuse.
After the Argentine trip we visited Michael and Varnessa in Seattle and attended Jay Hendrix’s graduation in Spokane. That summer the Lynch/Alcee reunion was held in Syracuse and it was immediately followed by a celebration at camp Brockway of the 75th birthday of Dolores.
In October Nannette and Brian were married. Following that Dolores and I flew to San Diego to visit with Mark and his family and on October 20 took a GCT tour of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. While in New Zealand we visited Maria and Paul Fawcett – I had met him in the Philippines in 1967-68.
In February and March, 2007 we stayed in Buenos Aires at the apartment on Basavilbaso. We visited Iguazzu Falls, Wanda Mines and San Ignacio Mini and did a day trip to Colonia, Uruguay. Upon returning to Syracuse Dolores had knee replacement surgery on April 25.
While Dolores was recovering from this operation, Rina and I went to the Philippines.
Starting a couple of months ago I decided to travel to the Philippines for a couple of weeks this summer to see old friends. I had enough World Perks awards on Northwest Airlines to get an upgrade from Economy class to Business class, so that sealed the decision. I don’t think I’ll ever again travel such a distance in Economy class.
I planned to stay about two weeks and seats were available on July 10 with return on July 25, so that fixed the decision. I wrote to Karl Salva and Roger Bajarias to let them know I was coming and to ask them if perhaps I could have a room in Cocofed, the on-campus dorm. Karl carried the word on to the Dean of the College, Nicanor Buenconsejo, and he wrote to me:
Hello Dr. Brule,
I’ve heard from Karl Salva that you have plans to visit Cebu and USC Engineering in particular. We are very happy to have you back for a reunion. We plan to have a special get together for you; we’ll invite alumni and friends and we also plan to hold a special program and documentation of the event, e.g. souvenir program or sort of coffee table book on your historical involvement here in the College. We have organized a committee composed of faculty and alumni of the College to do the preparations.
We’ll give you updates on the preparations.
This sure came as a huge surprise. I passed this word on to the family so that they would also be aware. Rina responded with a great desire to be a part of the trip. So, I offered to bring her along, and she readily accepted. Due to other commitments she could not spend all that time in the Philippines, so we set it that she would fly into Cebu on July 18 and fly back to the States on July 25, the same day I was leaving.
I still had to make the reservations to fly round trip Manila-Cebu-Manila, and Rudy Villarica suggested I use Cebu Pacific. So, I found them on the Internet and made reservations for the two of us. However, a major tempest arose when I changed the date of my ticket for the flight from Manila to Cebu. Cebu Pacific had no way to make such a change on line, so I asked Rudy to do it. This resulted in them having to make a trip to their Manila office to pay the 300 peso fee for making the change. Also, Cebu Pacific for some reason didn’t trust my debit card and Rina and I each had to supply detailed information about ourselves before they let us board the plane. It was a real nightmare – at one point they said we were not on their flight list and thus we had to make a special trip to their land office. But, it all worked out in the end.
I left Syracuse on July 10 at the start of the 21 hour flight to Manila. While we were flying the great circle route and were somewhere above Canada the heating system in the cabin broke down and we had to make an emergency landing in Anchorage. The transit room in Anchorage was swarmed with over 400 passengers from the Boeing 747 – something they were ill prepared to handle. We landed late in the day in Anchorage and we were finally told that we would spend the night and leave the next morning at 11:00 a.m. This was at the height of the tourist season in Anchorage, and there were almost no rooms open in any hotel.
However, my niece Gail French lives there with her husband and daughter and she was only too happy to put me up overnight. Gail and Bob is the couple for whom I had served as Marriage Commissioner. I had not seen them since Dolores and I were married. So, that was a very pleasant night. The above is a picture of Gail and me with their daughter Kelly.
However, my travel mates on Northwest Airlines did not fare so well – some of them didn’t even have a chair to sit in during their overnight stay in the airport. They were a mite cranky on the rest of the trip. The balance of the trip to Manila was uneventful, and not too bad in Business Class. We arrived late in the day on Thursday and Rudy and Pilar met me in Manila as they were able to keep track of my flight. I spent a nice Friday visiting with them. Rudy and I went shopping and I saw a laser-made paper weight that could have an image of Tony Parker put inside. When we returned to Rudy’s place we found a good picture of TP and Rudy sent his driver over to the shop to have the thing made. I picked it up as a gift for Dolores when I returned to Manila on the 24th.
The flight to Cebu on the 14th went OK once I straightened things out with Cebu Pacific. The stewardesses on the flight put on a songfest, as seen in the picture. Then the fun began.
When I entered the arrival area at the Cebu Airport, there assembled was the arrival party, as shown in the picture. They had a nicely lettered sign and had found a rather old picture of me. There was much greeting and picture taking, and it was certainly an auspicious beginning to the week of festivities. I rode back to Cebu City with Nick, and we spent the next couple of days touring around the city and getting filled in on what has been going on. The most important feature that I saw was the three new buildings constructed at the Talamban campus. The most beautiful of these is the building for the College of Architecture and Fine Arts. The other buildings that were built include a Liberal Arts/Science building and a building for Nursing and Pharmacy. However, the nursing enrollment is already so big that the new building is already too small. Hence, the overflow is in the current Engineering building. There are plans to build a new Engineering building, but nowhere near enough money is available. And this building will be further up the road, towards the Retreat House at the top of the hill.
On Sunday of that first week Roger, Joy, their daughter Vegie and I had a fish dinner at Sutukil, a fantastic restaurant on the northern part of the island of Mactan. This picture shows the display of the fish available at this restaurant. We pick out the fish we want, plus anything we want as appetizers such as prawns, etc. The cost is amazingly small. The following Saturday there were five of us who ate there and the total cost was less than $30.00
On Wednesday Rina flew in from Manila, and at 4:00 pm the event started. It was billed as an “Honorary Lecture”, with the title of the lecture given as “Effects of 9/11 on the Development of Science and Technology.” The event started with an Invocation, singing of the National Anthem, opening remarks by the Dean, then my Introduction and then my talk. An open forum was supposed to follow, but since it was very quiet I asked Nellie to join me on the podium and we talked about the Cebu Braille Center and how it started.
Following this there was a Fellowship Dinner, preceded by a serenade by the USC Choristers and a lengthy message from the President of the University, Father Roderick Salazar. Following that was dinner during which a video presentation was displayed on a screen. I had sent in some 20 or more pictures dating way back to my first visit in 1967, and they were augmented by some pictures of my family sent in by Jim. Following dinner was a Cultural Presentation by the USC Dance troupe and the evening was wrapped up with the closing remarks given by the Vice-President for Academic Affairs. Below is a picture of most of the people in the EE/ECE/ComE departments that put together this program. Also many of them were students of mine in previous years. I realize this is rather boring reading, but I asked Rina to write up her interpretation of what occurred. She did so the next day and that is what she wrote:
I’m sitting here in Nellie Bautista’s house – they basically live under a bridge in the middle of Cebu and yet have broadband internet access! Grandpa is taking a nap, so I thought I’d take this chance to record what happened last night. The School of Engineering at USC put on a truly amazing event for Grandpa. It began with many introductions about Grandpa’s life, his critical involvement in the school, their appreciation for all that he’s done, and expressing how he is truly a member of their family and a great friend. That was the first 20 minutes! Then Grandpa gave a talk which was supposed to be about the effects of 9/11 on science and technology, but Grandpa focused the talk on change – the importance of embracing change instead of shying away from it, and pushing for change even if nobody else is on board initially. Then the School presented Grandpa with a plaque of appreciation, a book about the history of USC, and many more moving speeches about how much Grandpa means to the School of Engineering. It was very emotional.
Then came some really fantastic stuff – they put on a catered event that began with the USC Choir – they sang about 5 songs. They were strong singers and some of the solos were sung right to Grandpa. Throughout the singing they showed pictures of Grandpa and Grandma’s life in the Philippines as well as in the States – everyone laughed at old pictures and really loved seeing photos of our family. Then the USC dance troop performed for us – WOW! They peformed dances from all different Filipino cultures – the Muslims in the south, traditional native dances, and some Spanish dances. Each dance had different elaborate costumes. Just for Grandpa! They were really amazing!
Truly the most incredible part of the evening was realizing how much these people value and adore Grandpa. We were really treated like royalty – everyone wants a piece of Grandpa. I wouldn’t be surprised if 500 pictures were taken last night – every one of them with Grandpa in them. Our time over the next 6 days was quickly divided up last night – everyone wants their own time with Grandpa. We are very lucky to be a part of this family – Grandpa and Grandma contributed so much to USC and the blind community in Cebu. We documented the entire thing with photos and movies! Can’t wait to share them. I hope you’re all well!
The following few days were filled with some of the sights I wanted Rina to see. On Thursday Rina and I left for an all day tour of the island of Bohol. This included seeing the small primates called tarsiers, viewing the Chocolate Hills, and going to Hanagdanan cave. Following is a movie of tarsiers – get the URL into your browser and then you can see the little darlings. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFv30EnGy54
Above is a picture of Rina entering the cave. I have similar pictures of Rachel, and the starter of it all, Jim.We returned to Cebu the same day, an on Friday I showed Rina the various places I had lived in Cebu.
One of the most important stops was at the Cebu Braille Center, that Nellie and Sally were instrumental in starting. Here is a picture of some of the students. On the left is Amore, Nellie’s sister-in-law and one of the original four students that learned braille from Sally. She still is the braillist with the Braille Center.
We had the opportunity to meet with Beth Saldivar, the person in charge of the Scholarship office at the University. We met with her during a birthday party for the Vice President of Academic Affairs. Beth had made sure that the young scholar being supported by the Brulé Scholarship was on hand. Her name is Antoinette, and she is a delightful young lady. She had one semester where her grades were quite poor, and she was rightly concerned that she might lose the scholarship. However she attended summer courses at her own expense and recovered her academic quality. The picture shows Beth, me, and Antoinette. The young lady was born with only one eye, and she is quite short. She is well spoken and displays confidence in herself and I am glad she still qualifies for support. Following this meeting we all went out to lunch and Nellie Bautista joined us.
On Saturday we had dinner again at STK and this time Vic Abarquez and his wife Tet-tet joined us. We talked at some length about what everyone was doing, and heard about a housing for the poor project that they are both involved with. The target group are people popularly known as “squatters.” They are people who have no place to live but when they find some unused land they gather together the bare essentials needed for housing and squat on other people’s land. This seemed very interesting to us so a couple of days later, on Monday, we went to visit the development in Cebu. It is essentially in the city of Mandaue – the land is owned by the city but the organization builds houses, improves the infra-structure, and even builds a school on the land.
The picture shows a part of the school as the students are preparing to sing a song for us. The picture shows the current state of its water system – their fresh water is hand pumped from a well. Plans are afoot to get an electric pump installed, but must wait till the plumbing has been completed.
On Sunday there was a beach party held by the ECE Department. This is an annual affair and we were invited to it. They had games to play – like a tug-of-war and other such things. There was also music with the powerful speakers turned up to full volume. Rina went swimming and we all held out as long as we could, then headed back to Cocofed and a nap.
Our trip wound down, and on Tuesday we flew back to Manila and once again Rudy and Pilar picked us up. Rudy had picked up the figure to Tony Parker, so Dolores’ gift was all set. The dinner that evening involved us and all the Villarica’s that live in Manila. It was a pleasant affair and the conversation went on for hours. Then early the next morning they transported us back to the International Airport. My plane left an hour earlier than Rina’s so the transportation was done in just one trip. The trip back was uneventful, and Ollie Clubb picked me up at the airport.
You can see a movie of the dance called Tinikling. This is very popular in the Philippines, and it takes different forms depending on where in the Philippines it is being performed. Here is the Cebuano version:
Following is more tinikling
One more tinikling
Note: Click on the Select Text tool in Adobe Reader, and then you can highlight the address and then Copy and Paste it into your browser.
JD So that ended our trip to the Philippines.
Dolores was soon recovered from the knee replacement so we scheduled a trip to Turkey for September 26 through October 20. We flew to Ankara then toured Cappadocia, Borsa, Ephesus, Galipoli and Istanbul.
So ended our excursions for 2007.
This year promises to have a remarkable number of events, and I might as well try to connect with them all. This will include a Carnival cruise and tour of the Western Caribbean lasting for 8 days. Michael and Varnessa will be with us and that will be great. Then immediately following the tour we will fly to Buenos Aires to our new (to us) apartment and stay there till March 31st. We will then have a couple of months off until June 10th when we will fly to San Diego for Corey’s high school graduation. After spending a few days at Mark & Francine’s we will make our way to San Francisco where Rachel is at school. We hope to spend a couple of days with Charles & Lita Askanas before flying to Seattle for a Morgan family reunion. Then on August 1, 2, and 3 there will be a Brulé family reunion in Hancock, Michigan that I am putting together along with Janet and Warren. We figured that even though I would be away for a couple of months we could keep in contact about the reunion via email. Also scheduled this year is the Democrat Convention and our hope that Obama gets nominated for President and then elected in November. Then we celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary and Christmas shortly afterwards. That should about do it.
The year started off as a normal one, with the January 1st open house at 116 Killian Drive. It was a marvelous turnout of friends, even though there was a fair amount of sickness and several people decided it was better to stay home and recuperate rather than to join the party and share their misfortune. I made two batches of eggnog which people really enjoyed, but not too much. As usual the place overflowed with food and desserts – the first mostly due to Dolores and the second due to many of the friends arriving with their contribution. As usual Jane Feld brought her cranberry bread and we tucked it away for our own consumption.
I decided to add some money to the Brulé Scholarship fund at the University of San Carlos and I found that I could give the money to the fund via the SVD Mission Central in Techny, Illinois. Let’s hope this works out OK.
As we started to pack for the cruise and Argentina we realized that we were going to have to carry an enormous amount of baggage onto the ship, since we would have all our clothes, etc. for the 2+ months in BsAs. So I brought our trusty balance scale into action and ended up with the four suitcases to be checked maxing in at 49 pounds each. Plus two notebook computers – my older HP and a new ACER that I had just bought. I figured it would be great if Dolores and I could each have our own computer equipment. At first we thought we would use a commercial storage company to hold our excess baggage, but found out that we could actually fit it all into our stateroom on the ship, and that there is a baggage storage facility at the Miami airport.
I had the usual concerns about bad weather interfering with our flight to Fort Lauderdale, especially since we had to fly through JFK. But, no problems arose and we arrived in Florida in good shape. Michael and Varnessa were already there so we visited for a while and then made our way to the ship.
Our cabin was comfortable and not too crowded. I received a note from the security office on board requesting that I come to their office. Apparently some unacceptable item was found in our baggage. While we were packing I included in the checked baggage a metal hammer and screwdriver combination that I figured might prove useful in the apartment. This was a gift to me from Mary Ann Gibson some time back. While the airline didn’t worry about the hammer, the shipboard security said it was forbidden as it could be used as a weapon. I had a great time hassling them over this since their policy statement was quite vague and I was tired from the activities of the day. But all was taken care of in fine fashion.
Then the trip began. The first two days we were at sea traveling from Fort Lauderdale to Central America. Varnessa and Dolores had a great time checking out the various stores and shops on board. I found out that Michael is a picture fiend. Every place you went around the ship there was a photographer wanting to take your picture for posting on the bulletin board and potential later purchase. He seemingly never disappointed any of them. But I also should point out that Varnessa was right with him in the photo-hound business. Here is one that Varnessa took while we were touring Gatun Lock on the Panama Canal, at Colon, which was one the three tour stops we made.
One thing that really impressed my on the canal was the enormous size of the container ships, and how high the containers were piled up on the deck. It serves to emphasize just how huge those ships are, and the depth of their draft. From this picture you can get some measure of that. The two vehicles alongside the ship are electric engines that through means of two ropes keep the ship from scraping the sides of the locks as they travel through them. The ships are lined up for miles, and it takes about 11 hours to travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, but there is also a couple of days delay to get into the locks.
This picture shows the side of a container ship already in the lock, a ship behind it that is waiting its turn, and the tracks that the engines travel as then climb from the lower lock to the upper lock which will be where the ship is after the lock has filled with water. The water that is used to raise the ship comes from a (fresh water) lake and is just dumped into the ocean after use. New larger locks are to be built and the process will change so that the water is conserved. We also were bussed to Panama City and found this to be an impressive location. It certainly is well developed and was pleasant to view the old part of the city.
We also spent a day in Limon, Costa Rica, and took a boat trip along a river into a mangrove swamp. The place was just alive with flora and fauna – we saw howling monkeys, bats, termite towers, sloths and so many more other fauna. After the boat trip we got on an antique train that somehow was continuing to function and went for a ride through a rain forest. We rattled on through the jungle for the better part of an hour, and saw a banana plantation and also a group of children that had a sloth as a house hold pet. The boy in the middle there is holding the sloth in his arms. I certainly can’t imagine the pleasure one would get from this animal as a pet – maybe its greatest usefulness is as an amazing sight for tourists to see.
We also stopped in Belize – formerly known as British Honduras. Dolores and I thought perhaps this might be an alternative site for us to stay during our snow bird flights, but I soon developed the feeling that it was not at all what I wanted. Belize City is at best a dumpy place and no apparent pleasant places to stay were seen. But the main reason we wanted to visit Belize was because of the presence of a Mayan ruin – one thing we had never seen in our travels. It is about an hours ride into the countryside on poorly maintained roads – we bumped and jostled our way there and back. But the trip was certainly worth while.
The Mayan ruin is known as Altun Ha and it means Water of the Rock. There were several significant sections to Altun Ha, and one of the more significant is pictured in this shot. I include the people in the picture so that one can get a better idea of its size. This all dates back over one thousand years and it is remarkable to see. There is much speculation about what happened to the Mayan population and why it was able to develop such great cities and roads in the first place. Certainly the conquest by the Spanish in the 16th century had much to do with the decline, but the civilization continued into the 17th and 18th centuries.
Shown here is a figure built into the wall. Presumably it is the face of one of the leaders of the Mayan community at some time.
Life aboard the ship was almost unreal, compared to life in the “real world.” Food was available at almost any time of the day or night, and from any one of several locations onboard. It was all part of the fare, but also there is a special restaurant for people who like to buy their own meal and get even more special treatment. The four of us, Michael, Varnessa, Dolores and I, ate dinner together each evening. We ate during the ‘second seating’, which started at 8:15 p.m. The service was great, we could order as much as we wanted from the entire menu, and our conversation would continue on into the evening. The room stewards liked to leave little surprises, and each evening upon returning to our stateroom one would fine a new ‘towel figure’ gracing the bed.
There were all sorts of diversions for passengers including hot tubs, spas, swimming pools, game rooms, a casino, and on and on. No money exchanged hands during the cruise – anything that was not free was put on the credit card we had to present before boarding the vessel. Also, a $10 per day per person tip fee was charged to the credit card. This was to be the tips for waiters, stewards, and other support people we had contact with. There was a separate tip to be given to the Maitre de. It was forbidden to bring alcohol on board, and any such drinks that were purchased at a bar were not only expensive but had an additional 15% service fee automatically added. The biggest danger aboard the vessel was the problems that would arise from over-eating. So for eight days we ate, slept, and toured. Quite a life.
The trip was over on Saturday, January 26, and we disembarked in Fort Lauderdale about 10:00 am that morning. Our flight to Buenos Aires was not scheduled to leave until 11:20 p.m. that night so we had a full day to ourselves. We gathered our entire luggage together, my ‘gold plated hammer’ was returned to me and we boarded a shuttle bus that took us to the Miami International Airport. We had found out that we could store our baggage in a facility in the MIA terminal so that relieved us of any need to watch over our luggage. We found that there was a huge mall a few miles away and checked that a shuttle bus could take us there. We waited for the bus for a couple of hours until we were informed that the bus does not run on Saturdays. So, we hung around the terminal for the remaining couple of hours before we could check our suitcases on to BsAs.
The overnight flight to Argentina was all right, and upon arriving in BsAs Sunday morning we and all our baggage were transported to our new apartment by a taxi we had hired before hand. The weather was great, and when we got to the apartment the representative from Buenos Aires Habitat met us and gave us a tour of the apartment. I checked to see if the high speed internet connection was working, and it wasn’t. So before the rep left us we made sure that arrangements were made to have a technician arrive the next day to straighten up the trouble. Then we started unpacking and settling in to the apartment. Here is a picture of one of our notebook computers set up on the dining room table. The apartment has a kitchen with breakfast nook and ½ bath, dining room, living room, full bath, main bedroom and a second bedroom we use as an office. Also in the kitchen is a washing machine and clothes drier along with a dish washer. The WiFi output is in the living room and has a signal strength that is just strong enough to allow the use of a computer in the office. However, the connection to the internet didn’t work and the representative said that they would have someone come to fix it. It is a really nice apartment with lots of room. The technician arrived the next morning and after disabling the codes on the modem everything worked just fine.
Santa Fe Street (avenida) is quite busy and it has loads of shops all around. Within one block there is a grocery store, pharmacy, newsstand, laundry/dry cleaner, an exercise gym, a Roman Catholic church, several eateries and of course many buses. It is about 4 or 5 blocks from San Martin Plaza, a favorite hangout of ours last year – and of course Florida Street is also nearby.
Our first Thursday here we went to a gathering called Meet and Chat. This is populated by Argentines wanting to improve their English. We ride the subway (Subte) to get there and spent an hour with them. There wasn’t a meal involved so after about an hour or so the gathering ended. I enjoy this meeting because we get to meet real Argentines and participate to some extent in their discussion. And, it is particularly interesting to find out what kinds of subjects this little group wants to talk about, and how they manage it. There was a fair amount of crude sex jokes and the gathering was pretty much dominated by the organizer of the group.
We went to the meeting again the following week and this was quite interesting in the way the women in the group forced a discussion about gender discrimination. Some of the men did their worst to try to crack jokes about what the women were saying, but eventually the women did make their point.
There is another group in BsAs that is interested in mixing in society, and this is called the Ex-Pat Connection. The group is made up of Ex-Pats, (foreigners) who are here for some length of time – not tourists. One further requirement is that English be the common language. We first met with them in a bar the night of the Super Tuesday primaries. That was mostly unsuccessful because the place was too small and it was really impossible to carry on a conversation.
This group is run by an American who used to work as a marketing agent in some local business. He had put together a trip to Gualeguaychu, in Buenos Aires province. There is a Carnival in that small city that is run every Saturday night during February and a week or two in January and March. It’s a three hour bus ride and two mini-buses of participants left BsAs Saturday afternoon, the 16th of February. We arrived in Gualeguaychu late afternoon, and after a city tour and dinner we got to the carnival at about 10:00 p.m. Early Sunday morning we left for BsAs and arrived at our apartment at 7:00a.m.
The Carnival was fantastic, to say the least. Huge floats covered with all sorts of decorations and three or more tiers of dancing participants. The event is enjoyed by just about everyone – even the crowd will jump into the path of the floats and dancers and join in the fun. So did I! The organizer gathered the pictures of the event that were taken by our group, and here is a link to them.
I also made some movies of the floats, and here are some links to them.
An unforgettable experience, and one surely that we are glad we took.
Following that trip we calmed down for a bit, but then on Thursday the 21st we doubled up again. That is, for lunch we went out to Palermo Soho for lunch with the downtown BAIN group. This is Buenos Aires InterNational. We met more people this time all English speakers and had a pleasant afternoon. Then we came back to the apartment for a few hours and went back to Cabildo for an evening gathering of the Meet and Chat group. Friday we caught up on food shopping, and rested up for the next adventure.
That next adventure was waiting for us. A couple of the men who went to Gualeguaychu decided it would be nice to gather together some of our fellow travelers for a dinner. They set that up for Saturday night at a restaurant in Palermo. So off we went via Subte to that part of the city and went to the restaurant arriving at the suggested time of 8:30. By 9:00 a couple of others showed up, and as the evening wore on even more showed up. Above is a picture of the wild group. Starting at the left front is Christine, a program evaluator on a six month sabbatical from her job in New York City. Then is Dolores and next to her is Ifti, a Paskitani who works at the Pakistan embassy. I am across from him and standing behind me is Dennis. He didn’t have dinner with us but happened by the restaurant with a group of friends. Finally on the right is Luciano, an Italian playboy that forces me to keep a tight rein on Dolores. (She later told me she’d rather have Ifti!) Also showing up later was Steve, and I hope to get him in a picture on some other gathering. He says he is married, but no spouse is ever around. We all had a great evening, and Luciano said he would set up another get together for us to attend the horse races some day.
On Sunday afternoon we took Bus 152 to San Telmo because Dolores had seen some Rose Inca Gem stones there and wanted to check them out. They were as good as she hoped so we picked up some gem stone jewelry to add to our collection. The street performers were out in force of course, so I made a short movie of a juggler. Also, Ariel’s school is right out there, so here is a picture of the Engineering School of the University of Buenos Aires. Below is the link to the juggler video.
As I was writing in my memoirs I reached the point in time where Dick Congdon and I went to Auburn where Dick had set up a blind date for me. This was how I met Sally. These thoughts brought to mind the fact that I hadn’t heard from Dick in several years, so I went on the web and did a search for him. Richard Congdon is a bit popular as a name, but I did find the following link:
This is an article by Amy Calder in the Kennebec Journal Morning Sentinel of November 15, 2002. It describes how Dick Congdon had a large dog and the USPS refused to deliver mail to his neighbor because they were afraid of the dog. This is a picture of Dick and his dog, and the neighbor whose mail was being held by the USPS. I know it must be the Dick Congdon that I am looking for because it looks so much like him, and only Dick would be involved in this kind of complexity. So I contacted Ms. Calder and she hopped right on the story, but to date has not had any success in locating Dick. He no longer lives at the address of the incident and none of the neighbors know where he went.
We heard from Brenden Murray, son of John and Nancy Murray, and he indicated he was going to be in our area of the world for a while. We were pleased to hear from him and via email we told him to be sure and stop by to see us. Indeed he did, and on two different occasions. He flew in here from Guatemala and we had dinner together and renewed acquaintances. After a few days he left to visit various areas in Patagonia, but stopped in again around February 26. He left the next day for Montevideo and indicated he was going to fly from Buenos Aires back to Central America late in March or April.
Early in March we went to a “gourmet dinner” set up by the ex-pats group. This was held at the CuaCua restaurant in a new region, to us, of Buenos Aires called Caballito. I hunted around and found a street guide called Guia T, and figured out where the restaurant actually is. I found that taking Subte Line C to Independcia and then switching to Line E at that point got us right to the restaurant. Unfortunately I concluded that we should disembark at a certain station – San Moreno – that was one stop too far. So I had to hire a cab to find the restaurant – it was one of those crazy cases where the name of the street the restaurant is on changed between stops and nobody seemed to know where the missing street was located.
Anyway we got there in good time and there were about 30 people in attendance. We sat with a strange couple – Audrey and Dimitri – who said they travel continuously with no home base. They came to South America over a year ago, purchased a car and are busy driving around the continent. He asked me what I knew about trying to sell a car here, and I admitted ignorance. He complained heartily about how complicated it is but couldn’t quite handle the question about why he didn’t check in on that before buying it. Two glasses of wine were part of the dinner, so I had mine and Dolores stayed dry, at least in part because of Lent. Audrey and Dimitri bought a whole bottle and a little while later discovered that it was empty. This happened when Audrey wanted another bottle and Dimitri refused. She said “He won’t buy another one because I am a lush.” She surely was.
The dinner was touted as a typical Argentine meal, called an asado. This is a roast made up of several different meats. It started with blood sausage, then spicy sausage, then a slab of beef and ended with a large piece of roasted pig and dessert. I can’t stand blood sausage, the other sausage was OK, the slab of beef I was served was mostly fat and suet and the roasted pig was inedible. They need a good Filipino chef to show them how to prepare lechon. Above is a picture of the pig carcasses being roasted.
We had heard some fascinating things said about Mendoza, an Argentine City in the Andes. I struggled with trying to set up a good trip for us, in spite of my ineptitudes at this field of endeavor. I talked with Sebastian Christansen at Pezzati travel and worked out a schedule for us to fly to Mendoza, take a tour of the high mountains around Mendoza then bus to Santiago, Chile to finish off the trip and then fly back to Buenos Aires.
Monday we flew via LAN airlines to Mendoza and spent the afternoon and evening doing some sightseeing. We arrived there shortly after 2:00 p.m. and the shops were all closed, hardly any people on the streets and little vehicular traffic. We guessed perhaps this was some sort of a local holiday. We unpacked our one suitcase and went out for a walk. By 5:00 p.m. the city had come to life and was bustling with all kinds of activity. The streets were crowded with people and temporary stalls that had been put up.
The hotel room was adequate, but the street noise went on till quite late. Nevertheless by 7:00 a.m. we were ready to go on the High Mountain excursion. That day we rode for several hours into the Andes and up to the statue of Christ of the Andes. Of course the views were spectacular and the altitude not too bad. However, the statue was in a retreat at an altitude of some 12,700 feet and that proved to be too much for me. When I alighted from the bus everything was OK but then I climbed about 10 steps up to a shop and got very dizzy – even that little bit of exercise was too much. So I went back to the bus and sat quietly trying to breathe deeply and slowly. As soon as we started down the mountain things seemed to clear up.
The road servicing the statue was made up of sharp S curves and steep drops. On our way down we found that a large bus had tried to turn too sharply and had its front end become lodged in the dirt. We were able to get around it, but it didn’t look like the bus would be freed very easily.
That evening back at the hotel I felt very ill at ease – I was severely constipated. I went to several Farmacias trying to locate a laxative or a suppository but without success. I even went to a computer, typed into an English-Spanish translator the sentences describing what I wanted and then copied the Spanish translation onto a pad. This didn’t help me to find what I wanted. The next day we were supposed to take a bus to Santiago and it would go back over the route we had just completed. So, in desperation we cancelled the remaining part of the tour and flew back on Wednesday to Buenos Aires. We still enjoyed the part we completed but also were pleased to be back in BsAs.
That Thursday we again attended the evening meeting of the Meet and Chat group. We also got a call from Luciano, our Italian friend from the trip to the Carnival at Gualegualchu, and accepted his invitation to join him for dinner Saturday evening at a Mexican restaurant in Puerto Madero. Christine was also part of the dinner party and we had a great time. She works for the court system in New York City and is on some sort of extended leave. She has been here for a couple of months and will be leaving in July, 2008. At one point a mariachi band showed up and serenaded us. I tried to get a movie of their performance but there wasn’t enough light. So instead here is a picture of the band. They seemed to be having a great time and stopped to serenade each table of diners. After we had enough of this we called it a night and taxied back to our apartment at 1277 Santa Fe. I went to see Sebastian at the travel agency to see if I could get a refund for our unused tickets from Santiago to Buenos Aires. He said he would take care of it, and could expect a full refund in a couple of months.
After a quiet couple of days we decided to do some more exploring. There is a palace near the end of Florida street that reportedly is quite stunning to see. So we walked over there only to find out the hours and availability of a guided tour. We found out that there are no English based guided tours this week, being Holy Week, but on Tuesday of Easter week there will be a tour starting at 4:00 pm. So we decided to check out our train expertise and walked over to Retiro station. This is the main railroad and bus terminal in Buenos Aires. We wanted to do two things-go to San Isidro Cathedral and take a ride on the Tren de la Costa, or coastal train. The coastal train is a touristic adventure going from Mitre up to Tigre where the Plata river essentially starts. So we looked over the train maps for a train to San Isidro, the town where the cathedral is, and found one. So I went to the ticket counter and purchased two tickets for Dolores and me. Then we were faced with the problem of which train is the one we want to get on. There are five separate lines and we weren’t sure which one we wanted. There are trains leaving on these lines every few minutes so we didn’t have to wait long. I asked a guard which train went to San Isidro and he said: “linea quatro”, and then counted out on his fingers “uno, dos, tres, quatro.” Encouraged, we went to line quatro and hopped on the train. As we moved along I watched the stations pass and noted that the stations were not on the line with San Isidro. A kindly gentleman helped me out and told me we have to go back to Retiro and take a train going to Mitra.
So, we hopped off the train, went around the terminal and passed underneath the tracks to get to the opposite side. As we rode back to Retiro Dolores reminded me she had seen a sign specifically outlining, in English, how to take the coastal train. When we arrived in Retiro and tried to leave the platform area a guard stopped us to look at our tickets and said something to the effect that I owed some sort of fine for not having a valid ticket. I then put on my negotiating hat and we were kindly escorted to the proper ticket window to buy the tickets to Mitra. Of course that train left almost immediately and we were on our way.
The right way to do the coastal trip is to get off the train at Mitra and go to another ticket window to buy the tickets on the Tren de la Costa. We did this and again we were on our way. I should point out that the regular train tickets cost us about thirty cents – we were hardly losing any great amount of money. The Tren de la Costa runs from Mitre to Tigre, but our tickets allowed us to detrain at any point and return when we wanted to. All we had to do was to keep traveling in the same direction and buy a new ticket when we wanted to return to Retiro.
When we got to San Isidro we walked up to the Cathedral and went inside to investigate it. Above is a picture of the Christos that we saw inside. It was basically a very plain church and not much more to say about it.
We had not yet had lunch and didn’t want to eat in the San Isidro train station. We decided to go back to BsAs, but the only feasible route for us was the Tren de la Costa so we went back to Mitra. The conductor didn’t bother us for a ticket so that was a free return ride. We then decided to bus from Mitra to our apartment because the bus stopped right at our door and the train would require us to travel another 10 blocks or so from Retiro to Santa Fe. We should have done that and taxied those 10 blocks since we found the bus to be very hot and dusty. But we treated ourselves to a very good lunch/dinner and relaxed the rest of the evening.
That night we had a rather disturbing experience in our apartment. On a lower floor of the building, but right under ours, there was an all night party that began about 11:30 pm or so with extensive yelling, screaming, and loud sort-of music. Dolores, having raised 11 children, slept through it, but it awakened me and it went on until about 4:15 a.m. I was somewhat upset and the next day I called the office of Buenos Aires Habitat to find out what they would do about it. They contacted the owner of our apartment and he was very concerned. So he made some contacts and called me to let me know what he had done. He also told the custodian of the building about it, but that person works till only about 5:00 p.m. I tried asking the custodian if there was some way I could contact him in case it happened again. He couldn’t understand me so I went to an automatic translator online and translated by question into Spanish and I copied it onto a note. I gave the note to the custodian and of course he knew no English so he went to a third party and had them write out in Spanish what his rely was. But, their handwriting was so foreign to me that I couldn’t type it into my Spanish to English translator and so that series died. Anyway, there was no party in our building that night. However that Saturday night (Holy Saturday) there was another party in a building behind ours that was equally loud, but not as bothersome. It seems that during this period – Good Friday through Easter Monday – the good citizens of Buenos Aires pretty well desert the city and the kids left at home use the time to their advantage.
In reading the local paper, the Buenos Aires Herald, we found a Chinese restaurant that was highly recommended for its great food. It was off in a part of the city, Belgrano, that we had never visited, so we got out our trusty maps and guides. We found that Subte D had a stop about six blocks from the restaurant. So we walked some 4 or 5 blocks to the nearest Subte D access point and rode to our desired station. The train was very heavily packed so we were crushed most of the way there. Once we got to our desired station we de-trained and walked to the area of the restaurant. I was very close to a train station, Belgrano C.
We hadn’t checked to see when the restaurant was open and we arrived there about a half hour before they were ready. It is located in a small China Town neighborhood so I had time to take some pictures. Here is one of Dolores patiently waiting for the restaurant, Todos Contentos, to open. It was a very small China Town, maybe a dozen or so restaurants and shops around one corner. The food at the restaurant was indeed quite good and we had a pleasant time sitting there and watching the people around us.
When it came time to leave we decided we had enough walking for now and went over to the train station, bought a couple of tickets, total less that $1.00, and then caught the next train to Retiro. This was a very nice ride – we had a good seat for a change, and then when we got to Retiro we hired a cab to take us to our apartment – this cost 7 pesos, a little over $2. So, that was a nice little bit of exploring.
The next day was Holy Thursday and Dolores went to the evening services that lasted from 7:00 pm till about 8:30. She reported that the church was packed and overflowed into the street. Something like five priests were involved in the services. On Good Friday we went for a walk about the area and noticed that the traffic was essentially gone. An amazing experience because normally the streets are almost full of both pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Along the way we saw a procession headed by a priest, a sound truck and a crucifix. It was a goodly sized group but we were not sure what exactly was their motivation – however they were praying the Hail Mary, so it certainly was a Roman Catholic group.
Easter Monday we stayed around the apartment most of the day and then went with Ariel and Paula to the demonstration of the “Disappeared.” This is a memorial to the pregnant women who were kidnapped, allowed to give birth, and then tortured and murdered. This happened in the mid 1970’s early ‘80’s under the dictatorship. The demonstration also included political groups who are anti-government, indigenous Inca peoples, farmers, etc. Here is a picture of one of the signs carried by demonstrators. They were of all varieties, including some hammer and sickle signs.
Leaving the demo we had a brief snack with Paula and Ariel – Paula had to get back to her class preparation. I made a video of part of the demonstration and it is on You Tube at:
In the video you will see checkered flags of many colors. These are flags representing various Inca tribes.
Tuesday dawned clear and warm, and we slowly joined the world. Outside our bedroom window is an empty lot and someone is storing hundreds of steel reinforcing rods for construction purposes. The men working there were busy unloading another collection of these rods – they come in bundles and are very heavy. That afternoon we went to tour the Paz Palace down near Florida street. So we made our way there for the 4:00 p.m. English tour and found the Palace to be very beautiful but the weather was hot, the air in the building was close and we tired of the place. This is a closeup of a very beautiful carving on the side of a fireplace in one of the rooms. Walnut was used in many places and this piece was particularly fine.
We stopped on the way back to the apartment for a bit of refreshment. After dinner we were just settling in when a noise started up from a nearby apartment, and then from the street. We went out to find Santa Fe just jammed with marchers beating on pots, pans, drums… Just about anything metal that makes a noise. We enquired as to what was going on and found out that it was a protest against the government planning on raising the taxes on exported food. There was what appeared to be a spontaneous demonstration against the government. There were demonstrations in many places in Argentina, with varying reasons for marching. Here is a link to some movies I took of the marchers going down Santa Fe just in front of our apartment.
Beating on pots and pans relates back to the demonstrations in 2001 when there was terrible inflation and much agitation around the country. You might notice that these particular demonstrators, which are in the affluent region of Buenos Aires known as Barrio Norte, are having a good time. Laughing, talking, socializing and in general out for a pleasant walk on a beautiful evening. Everyone marched to the monument at Avenida de Mayo.
Wednesday afternoon we went to a BAIN meeting where the speaker was a young professor of History at a local college. He was great and I got his name and address for future reference. He spoke about the current political strife and related it to historical events that help give light to what is going on now.
On Friday we went to a postponed Meet and Chat group to say our goodbyes, and this was nice. We always had a good time with this group and they were most pleased we joined them.
But that night there was another party in our building, and it was in apartment 6A directly above us on the next floor. I went up to the party to see what was going on and was informed that the custodian had given permission to have the party. I stayed up for a while and at 2:00 a.m. sent off a letter to BsAs Habitat asking them if the building was becoming a party center, and asking them to check with the owner of our apartment what recompense he would give us since obviously he is violating the lease. There is nothing in the lease that indicates that some weekends and during long vacations there might be no opportunity to sleep in the apartment. This complaint was passed on to the owner of the apartment and that person indicated I would receive some sort of recompense.
It now was time to make a reservation for transport to the airport on Monday and BsAs Habitat said they would get a large car for us since we had four large suitcases.
Then I had an unfortunate problem. I had about $700 in cash stored amongst my clothes in a closet and it appeared to me that it disappeared. I ran into this problem on Sunday as we were preparing to pack our suitcases. I made matters worse by so informing BsAs and the owner avowed as to the complete trust they had in the woman who cleaned the apartment. I didn’t make a big issue of it, fortunately, and just decided to write it off as another experience.
Checkout time came on Monday afternoon and everything in the apartment was in good shape. However the BsAs representative said that the technician who had enabled the internet connection said that the problem was with my notebook computer and he had to alter it so that it would work. She told me I owed $25 for this work. At this I became angry, unfortunately, and loudly informed the young lady that I would not pay it. She checked with the home office and they agreed to waive the fee, and gave me some reimbursement for the partying. All in all the closure of the apartment was not a pleasant experience and I felt badly about the way I acted and the confusion. To finally cap the whole process when the transportation arrived it was a car that was too small for all our baggage and us. The BsAs Habitat representative said that was because I failed to inform them we needed a big car. So, we stopped a taxi on the street and then in the two vehicles we made our way to the airport. What a lousy way to end a wonderful stay in Buenos Aires!
Everything went smoothly at the airport. We checked in at American Airlines and got our seats. The flight left on time, and off we went to JFK. I sat next to a woman who was heading for a meeting in New York City. She was a lawyer and lived quite close to where our apartment was in BsAs. She indicated that all that partying is part of the action as people return to the city from their vacations.
When we got to JFK some 10 hours later, we went through immigration, picked up our baggage and brought it through customs and then handed it over to the transfer station where it would be sent to our Delta flight to Syracuse. We arrived in Syracuse about 20 minutes early, but we had reached Brian via cell phone and he was there to meet us. However, a little snag with the baggage occurred. It seems that the AA agent in Buenos Aires put the wrong flight number on the baggage checks and instead of going to Syracuse, our baggage ended up going to Orlando. But later that day, Tuesday, the baggage showed up at 116 Killian Drive.
So now it was time to readjust to life in Syracuse. After restocking the food shelves we started to look for a new kitchen stove. That didn’t take too long and in a couple of days we had a brand new GE range. Dolores really likes that appliance.
I decided that the new stove needed proper christening so one Sunday we made pasties. I asked Jane and Verah Johnson to join in and we made 20+ pasties. The recipe I used had too much meat in it and the dough didn’t ask for enough shortening so that will be corrected the next time. But they sure tasted just fine. We gave some to Jim & Jill, Nannette & Brian, and of course Verah and Jane.
The planning for the family reunion got started and Warren wanted to be in charge since he had much experience with reunions that involved his friends who traveled in super RVs. However, a family reunion involving people flying in to the reunion rather than coming in with their own vehicle posed many different problems and he asked me to take over. We decided to have the first day of the event at a site at Michigan Tech. This is my undergraduate alma mater, but also Warren’s son David is on the Board of Control there and is a former Chairman of that Board. Warren will pick up the cost of many of the meals, and David will pay for the rental of the buses we will need.
Since it seems that I will have some free time upon our return to Syracuse I decided to sign up for a writing course in a new program set up by Syracuse University. It is called the Lifelong Learning Program and classes meet twice a week for two hours at each meeting. The course runs a total of 4 weeks. So that is 16 contact hours, which is more than a third of a semester of work. About half of these course hours are spent working with an elderly resident of a local nursing home – Menorah Park. I really want to improve my memoirs by putting more of my own feelings into the pages and I hope that taking that course will help me.
The course was quite interesting, as usual, and we had a good group of people in the class. Some of them had written a book and were very interesting to interact with. After the first week we went to Menorah Park and I met my senior citizen. She was a Jewish lady whose family had been affected by the holocaust, and had led an interesting life in Syracuse. Attached to this document is the report I presented to her and the writing group. (d:\new writing class\DorothyKruth2.doc) It turned out that the people at Menorah Park want to prepare a record of the lives of the patients there, and our project fits right in with their plans.
By the time I finished with the LifeLongLearning project it was mid June and the next event was ready to unfold. Corey is to graduate from High School in San Diego and we will travel there to attend the event. Also, Rachel is currently living in Palo Alto as she attends Stanford. Dolores’ family is having a reunion in Seattle in late June so we can put all this together to take a trip along the “left” coast.
The first leg was a trip to San Diego where we attended Corey’s graduation. He looked great and we had a wonderful time visiting with Marks family and looking over their new house. We also looked around the neighborhood at all the burned out houses and realized just how fortunate Mark was that their house was spared.
We then took the train up to Palo Alto and Charlie Askanas met us at the station and transported us to Rachel’s apartment. We stayed in her room and Rachel moved to the living room couch for the nights we were there. On the first day we visited Stanford and I was thrilled to see Donald Knuth’s office and also to marvel at seeing the Stanford robotic manipulator arm. This was part of my robotics course that I used to teach.
We also toured the campus of Google and came away absolutely amazed at the freedom the young workers there had. They could work on any private project they felt like for 20% of their time. Food, free, was everywhere and there were community bicycles available for anyone to use to travel around the campus. We also observed the Facebook home office and found it to be amazingly small and inconspicuous.
We met with Charlie and Lita on the next day – visited their home and spent time “schmoozing” with them. The following day Rachel drove us to the airport in San Francisco and we flew off to Seattle for the Morgan family reunion. This was basically a full day picnic with games, food, and general mixing. However we were in Seattle for a few days for food preparation. We stayed in Michael’s house.
On Sunday we flew back to Syracuse in time to wrap up the plans for the Brulé Family reunion. The final report on this event is another attachment – “Once in a Lifetime”. It was indeed a fantastic affair, and I believe has affected in a positive way the lives of all the participants. While the report is entitled “Once in a Lifetime”, some folks are saying we should have another one. This is fine for the ego, but people don’t realize the amount of effort entailed with the type of reunion we had. Three days of activities had to be planned and coordinated and this adds up to a lot of contacts. Most of the communication was done by email and telephone, and Jim set up a good internet communication process. It also cost a lot of money. David paid for the buses and a couple of open bar nights, but Warren carried the major cost of the facilities at Michigan Tech including the meals both there and on the trip to Copper Harbor. Roger Wickenden and I contributed a total of $2500 to this, but Warren still had a significant amount to cover. But it was well worth it.
The next time we have a reunion it should be set up so we have more time to spend just being with each other, and possibly for a shorter period of time.
Upon returning to Syracuse on August 4 we entered the end of the preliminary phase of Election 2008. Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama were slugging it out, but Hillary had misjudged the type of campaign to run and lost out narrowly to Barack. She is having trouble coming out strongly for Obama in his campaign against McCain. The battle between Obama and McCain is getting rough, and we are in tension awaiting the big November 4 election day.
Then all hell broke loose with the apparent collapse of much of the banking system. Any stocks I own are diminishing in value, but I guess I will stick with it. Not much choice besides that. The politics is getting dirtier too, so life is not pleasant. However, we have reserved our apartment in Buenos Aires starting January 16 through March 31, so that will be great. And then of course, Obama won and most of the world is breaking out in happiness over the potential for real change.
Another big event involved locating Dick Congdon. When we were all at the Father Brady dinner commemorating the 30th anniversary of his death, I started talking with Lee Connolly, the author the book “God Love Ya”, the story of Father Brady. I mentioned how I had run in to a dead end in my search for Dick, and she said she would take a shot at it. Well, two days later she had turned up a daughter of Dick, Clare, who at one time taught at Colby College in Waterville, ME. I found her web site and discovered that she was now at the University of Southern Maine. Her web page had a phone number and I called her.
She knew that her dad was living someplace in Gorham, NH, and gave me the email address of her sister Alice who lives nearby in Berlin NH. I got in touch with her and found that she recently became a registered nurse and works part time at the very nursing home where Dick is living.
With Alice’s help I was able to set up a phone call with Dick, and he and I chatted for 15 minutes or so. He of course was delighted to receive a phone call, but a few minutes into the call he asked: “How do I know you?” We went over the names of his high school buddies, but not all of them were meaningful to him. In fact he wasn’t too sure who Sally was. So I will call him again in a week or so, but I expect he will not remember this first call at all. It makes me really aware of the heartache that his daughter Alice must be feeling. Dick has almost no memory, at least that I have been able to activate, of most of his former life. But he is genuinely happy when I call him and we have a pleasant visit. He indicates he is happy, happy with his life, and appreciative when I call. I find this is having a lasting effect upon me. I feel somewhat alone in that while Dick is still around physically he is nevertheless not here. I think I find this more depressing that he is still alive and lost as opposed to how I would feel if he were dead. Very strange.
It seems as though we haven’t done enough traveling yet. We were informed by GCT that space for two opened up for a trip to Israel and Egypt in late September so we jumped at the chance. We were particularly anxious to get to these two countries. We had never been in Israel and we love to travel the Nile. We went to all the usual tourist places and also went to Bethlehem which is in Palestine territory. Our Israeli guide couldn’t go there with us.
After we returned we had a small birthday party for Gina and we gave her a cartouche that I had bought while in Egypt.
Later we decided to drive to Endicott to have dinner with Father Charles and his Bishop. (They are from Uganda.) We had a delightful visit with them and were amazed at his beautiful church, St. Joseph’s. We left for Syracuse about 8:00 p.m. and as we were driving back I found we had a number of lane changes in the Binghamton area. I would put far beam on when I had to read the sign, and then shut if off. Of course I was stopped by a trooper and given a ticket for failure to dim the lights. So that takes a fair amount of maneuvering to get it finally settled. I planned on fighting it, but that meant driving to Binghamton at the time of the year when the weather is at best difficult. So, the DA’s office sent me a form I could use to plead guilty and on it the DA was recommending that I should not be fined. So, I bit the bullet, pled guilty, and I await the judgment of the court. (No fine, just costs and 2 points on my license.)
Thanksgiving arrived right on schedule, and Dolores and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. Some of Dolores’ family arrived for the holiday:
Cathy with Eugene and their two children, Jeanne and Danniele, Billy showed up with his latest – Joyce, Michael Jones, the Masingales – Jane, Michael and Naomi, and for dinner we also had Nannette with Brian, Gina and Brian’s daughter Jade. The weather was great and we all had a good time. Joyce is with the Police Department in Chicago and seems like a nice person. I gave Dolores a small computer, called a Netbox to take to Buenos Aires – much easier to carry.
I contracted with Tom Yager to plow the driveway all season and it is paying off. We have had an enormous amount of snow so far this year. Christmas approached and the house and yard got decorated. On Christmas day the Brulé family had our stocking session starting about 4:00 pm with dinner around 6:00. I had decided to give Gina a camera for Christmas but thought that at first I would give her a small one until she got used to handling it. This did not sit well so I relented and gave her the good one. I gave an identical one to Rachel and I gave a Palm Pilot to Rina
The year ended and on January 1, 2009, we had our usual New Years Day party. It was well received, as many people commented about what interesting people were there. Now we await the inauguration of Barack Obama and the future with an apparently intelligent President, for a change. Here follows a detail on the Brule Family Reunion.
Once in a Lifetime Reunion
Sometime late in 2007 Dolores and I were talking about the reunions she has had with the Morgan family, and I groused about the fact that we Brulé’s have never had one. “Well, why don’t you put one together?” was her way of putting me on the spot. After chatting a bit about this I found I had no good reason to put off at least making the attempt to have a reunion. I checked it out with Warren and Janet (Jay) to determine where they stood on such a plan. Here is a picture of the Brule’ siblings taken at the reunion. We talked about it at some length and had varying concerns. A lot of time and work would be involved. We generally agreed and we felt we should proceed with plans for the gathering. I realized that the main reason I wanted to have the reunion was to make sure my children and grandchildren had some appreciation of where their forebears came from. While I had some pretty good knowledge of my paternal lineage I realized I knew nothing about where my maternal grandparents came from. I didn’t want my offspring to have the same lack of information.
We then had to figure out where to hold the reunion. We agreed that we felt it would be a good idea to start in Kingsford. Warren then indicated that he would host the event and supply music for entertainment. This was a fantastic offer and after some more discussion we figured it would be great to then hire a bus to take us to Hancock so that we could view the area where we grew up and even visit our maternal grandparent’s home. Then on a third day we could take a tour around the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. The beauty of Lake Superior and the clarity of the air up there were not to be missed. Warren and Jay also agreed with these thoughts.
Then the logistics of this plan started to sink in since there would be a fair amount of travel and also require renting motels in two different locations. Warren suggested that maybe it would be better if we started in Hancock/Houghton and thereby have motels only in that area. He also indicated that it makes no difference to him if he had the meals catered in Kingsford or in Hancock. This was great by me, so the plans were really shaping up. Family could fly into the Hancock airport and also leave from it instead of having to plan routing from different locations and spending successive nights in different motels.
So now it became necessary to find a venue in the Houghton/Hancock area to have the first day of the reunion. When Dolores and I were married (nine years ago) we had our reception at Lemoyne College where she had at one time been a member of the Board of Trustees. Of course I am an alumnus of Michigan Tech and David Brulé Sr. is a member of the Board of that fine institution so we decided to contact Michigan Tech (MTU) to see what would be available to us. We found that there was a site known as the University Residence that would be perfect for us, and indeed it was available for our reunion weekend of August 1, 2 and 3. So now everything was all set. The opening day meeting on Friday at the University Residence is to be followed by a bus trip to the Keweenaw Peninsula on Saturday and a bus tour of the Houghton/Hancock/area on Sunday. Warren then said that not only would he host all three meals on Friday at the University Residence, but also dinner at the Harbor Haus in Copper Harbor on Saturday and finally lunch and dinner at the University Residence on Sunday. David had indicated that he was willing to help out and when I called him he said he would pay for the bus on Saturday and Sunday. Thus the participants would only have to pay for their transportation and lodging in Hancock, and the other meals on Saturday.
Next we decided to consider what could be done on our 3 days in the reunion and we figured that everyone could just schmooze on Friday. I asked Rina to serve as registrar and she agreed immediately and did a marvelous job. Warren decided that we should have some specially designed name tags and he had 50 of them made from local material. This is a picture of the tag. Each person wrote their own name on their tag and they looked really nice. For the entertainment that was planned, Warren hired a local group of musicians.
I then decided to contact a lot of people to see who might come to the reunion. Since us three siblings, Jay, Warren and I, also had a mother I felt it was essential to get attendance from our mother’s side. John Bishop and his sisters Ethel and Rita all live in Houghton and I wanted them to attend. Rita is suffering from Alzheimer’s, but her husband Bob Peterson and their daughters Terri, Nancy and Barbara were all in town and they were all invited. Thus it appeared that the reunion was getting larger than originally estimated because of growing interest.
Our father was one of several children of Hercule and Aurora Brulé, the others being Mary, Alvina and Freddy. One of Mary’s children, Corbin, is living in Houghton and he too was invited. He is the senior member of the living Brulé’s having reached the ripe age of 95. He was delighted to hear of the reunion since he knew little or nothing about the area. He lives at a retirement home called The Bluffs, right in Houghton. By coincidence Johnny Bishop, who also is 95, lives in that same home.
Next to be contacted was my first cousin John Fish and I filled him in on what we were planning. He said he couldn’t attend but he passed the information on to his sister, Nancy (Fish) Berg. She called me and we were able to renew an acquaintance that had hibernated for about 70 years. She and her husband Karl came to the reunion from Denver, Colorado.
I also figured I would like to find out more about the side of the family I knew as the Latendresses. I had known my cousin Minnie very well and also one of her sons, Cyril. So I tracked down Cyril’s son Dean and got the full listing of the Latendresse family. Cousin Minnie’s mother Delina Cote was the sister of my grandmother, Emelia Cote who was married to John Dosithé Poisson, the man I am named after. Delina Cote was married to Thelmas Soumis and one of their children was my cousin Minnie.
On Friday morning the reunion began. People started to arrive shortly after their breakfast, or in time for the breakfast that was served at the University Residence. As they came in, Rina, along with help from Jill, got them all registered. There was a lot of “Hello, how are you?” going on and searching out where each person fit into the family tree. We actually had both sides of parents of us three – Brulé and Fish (Poisson). Each participant received a folder that had been prepared with the help of David Sr.’s office. It included various forms of family trees and a picture of the original Brulé family headed by Hercule Brulé.
There were a number of round tables already set up for breakfast and lunch and people stared at the pins to find out first names. They found long lost relatives and also new family members. Nancy had brought a wonderful album with many pictures and a sign-up sheet for anyone who wanted a personal copy. Also laptop computers were in evidence as slide shows were being enjoyed.
This schmoozing continued on for most of the afternoon and it was just wonderful to see so many people that all had common family interests. I had hoped that video interviews would be set up, especially of Janet, Warren and me. This was part of my desire to create a meaningful history of our family and how we got to where we are. I interviewed Johnny Bishop and that went very well. Later Jim interviewed Warren for almost 40 minutes. Gail interviewed Jay but something went wrong with the video and it ended up being just one picture of Jay and Gail.
Most had to travel some distance to get there – probably the furthest was Jay from Hawaii. While David Sr., Ellette and Joyell were all there that was the full representation from Iron Mountain/Kingsford. Jay had great grandchildren at the reunion, the children of Jennifer Strand who is the daughter of John Strand and Cherie Brooks. Cherie is now Skysong Mitchell – at first she was going to come but later asked to be taken off the mailing list since she found she couldn’t come. On Sunday afternoon Jennifer’s brother Rodger Strand showed up on his motorcycle.
Dinner Friday night was the high point of the day and some 50 people were present. Jim gave the invocation – presented as a story. Basically the story was about a man who went looking for a treasure and after much fruitless searching found that the real treasure was his family and that he should learn to appreciate them. The food was great – MTU certainly went all out and the ambience and service was outstanding.
After dinner we were entertained by the band Warren had hired. They played mostly polkas, waltzes and some Rock & Roll. Everyone seemed to get involved with the dancing – even 85 year old Jay danced several numbers. I only did a couple. Warren really let loose, but was hobbled with leg troubles. The three Peterson sisters really put on a show – what a wild crew they are. The Peterson household must really bounce when they are around! Gail and Bob French were quite the accomplished dancers, but unfortunately Bob became badly hobbled due to some knee troubles.
The band shut down about 10:00 p.m. and we all found ways back to our sleeping quarters. It was a proper end to a fantastic day.
Saturday dawned clear and warm and began our second full day of the reunion. The bus arrived at the motel right on time and it was a most comfortable vehicle which included an onboard restroom. First we drove to the top of Quincy Hill for the view shown in the first picture of this paper. I particularly like this scene for it gives me a sense of what these two towns look like and include the Portage waterway. At this point one can see some of the mineshafts that were so active during the peak of the copper mining period – they also brought back to my mind the times Warren and I donned our carbide lamp gear and went exploring some of the abandoned mine shafts.
We figured it was time to give the folks a little taste of souvenir hunting so we next drove to Lake Linden and stopped at the Copper Land shop. They make a lot of their own copper items and I particularly like their copper leaves. This is a picture of a spray that I purchased and I love the way they fill the space.
After the shop we drove in to Lake Linden and observed the street where Grandmother Brulé lived. Our grandfather Hercule died before we were born, but we do have memories of visiting his wife Aurora. Then we spied the Catholic Church, St. Ann’s, which the Brulé family attended so we decided to stop in and check it out. It was very well kept and had an aura of prayerfulness about it. We were all discussing it as we left the church but the priest popped out of the confessional and scolded us for making so much noise while confessions were in progress. I wonder if we then should have stayed and gone to confession?
Warren knew where in Lake Linden are the gravestones of the Brulé family so we went there next. Here is the stone of the family, and buried there are the remains of grandfather Hercule, Grandmother Aurora and uncle Freddy. It was now approaching lunchtime and we proceeded to Calumet where reservations had been made at the Michigan House on Oak Street. The food they served was not only tasty but also came in very large portions. The walls of the restaurant were well covered with the mounted busts of animals that had been hunted. Not quite the right place for animal rights types of people. Unfortunately the restaurant personnel were overwhelmed by us and it took a lot longer to have our lunch than had been anticipated.
By 2:00 p.m. we were on our way again and this time we went all the way to Eagle River before we stopped again. There we paused and viewed Jacob’s Falls – a beautiful little waterfall by the side of the road and one worth a few moments of quiet and repose. Nearby is a Catholic monastery of the Benedictine rite. They sell many different jellies and jams in a little shop called the Jam Pot. Once again we stopped, this time so the folks could buy some of the offerings of the monks. Dolores picked up a six pack of cookies which we found to be quite tasty.
Then we drove up Brockway Mountain because the view of Lake Superior from there is remarkable. One can see for miles out into the largest freshwater lake in the world and watch the huge boats in their travels between Minnesota and the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The ride down from the mountain was particularly risky because of the sharp hairpin curves on the road to Copper Harbor. But our bus driver was very cautious and we made it just fine.
Upon arriving in Copper Harbor we first checked out our dinner reservation at the Harbor Haus and found that since we had added another customer a little rearrangement was necessary. Then we proceeded to the pier because we had made reservations for a sunset cruise on Lake Superior and wanted to make sure that we were all set. Our dinner started at about 5:00 p.m. because the sailing time was 7:30 and we needed that much time so that we could have a leisurely dinner. We ordered from the menu so each person got just the food they wanted, and this was hosted by Warren. During this tour I kept count of how many riders were on the bus during each leg – we didn’t want to leave anybody behind. Well, at dinner time we found that Jay and Roger were missing. We scoured all the shops in Copper Harbor to no avail. Anyway about ½ hour later they showed up at the restaurant – they had found a small park, spread a blanket under a tree, and while out of sight from the street took a short nap.
The sunset tour was just great. We motored easterly out into the lake and observed fish jumping and breathed the absolutely pristine cool air. This air had come out of the unpopulated north western part of Canada and then a hundred miles or so across Lake Superior before reaching our nostrils. What a fabulous way to live and breathe! Then on the way back to the pier we were treated to a gorgeous sunset. The tour ended about 10:00 p.m. and we all gathered on the bus for the hour ride back to the motel. Thus ended our second day of the reunion.
Sunday morning was free time for everyone to do as they desired. There was a mass at Resurrection Church for the family. Rina had to catch an afternoon flight back to Maryland, so Jay and Roger took her and Jill on a sample of the tour that the group would take in the afternoon. The bus picked us up at the motel and brought us to lunch at 12:30 at the University Residence. Once again it was great food and well presented. Skysong’s son, Rodger Strand, showed up on his motorcycle and joined us for the rest of the day. We drove first to the cemetery in Houghton where the graves of our parents, Ed and Stella, as shown above are located. Then we got all four generations of Brulé’s into a picture. Also in this same cemetery are the graves of our maternal grandparents John D. and Amelia Fish (Poisson) along with our aunt Josephine. Then we moved to the Fish graves and repeated that picture taking. I was particularly pleased at knowing these grandparents were there because Nancy Fish Berg was so anxious to get more information about the Fish side of our family and we were able to assist in that. She and her husband Karl Berg came to the reunion from Denver, Colorado, and I was hoping she would find the trip worthwhile. What a delight it was to make contact with her after about 70 years of being out of touch with each other! Besides our mother Stella and siblings Josephine and John (Nancy’s father), there was another sibling Wilfred. He has a daughter Rita Fish who is a nun and lives in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. I had tracked her down, but she did not feel she could handle the trip to the reunion. But we at least had phone contact.
Upon leaving the cemetery we drove around Hancock to view the places where we grew up. Also we found the home on Water Street where Jay had lived for a while with her children, and Jennifer was very pleased to find that house. We then took the bus to the Paradise area which is on Paradise Road above Chassell. The original home of our grandparents Fish is still there and occupied by a new owner. They were very friendly and had invited us to come into the house and view its current state. They had expanded the house, but the original structure is still there and it brought back so many memories of sitting in the living room and trying to stay out of trouble. My grandmother Fish did not speak English, nor I French, so there was not much communication. When we visited there I spent most of my time sitting on a swing in the barn with my grandfather John D. and we were able to talk together. He was the most educated man in the area, having finished fourth grade.
In my preparing for this trip I had found out that the village of Chassell was preparing for a big event in late August called the French Canadian Heritage reunion. I had contacted the organizers and they were so pleased that we were in town that they gathered together some volunteers and they opened their museum for us. The rooms were filled with memorabilia from decades past and our information about our grandparents proved very useful to them. I found pictures of Delina Cote who was my grandmother’s sister. This leads to a whole new branch of the family, the Latendresses. So, I will be able to fill in more of the family tree.
It was now getting late so we headed back to the motel for people to have the opportunity to freshen up before our 6:30 p.m. farewell dinner at the University Residence. The farewell meal was a pasty dinner since I felt that anyone who travels all the way to the Copper Country must have the opportunity to try the local delicacy. While some people had already left the reunion due to travel restrictions, nevertheless we had about 30 people at the dinner. Even after the dinner was over and the reunion finished, people continued to chat well into the late evening. Warren had prepared a plaque for me, and below is a picture of it. This means a lot to me to have my brother give me this honor, and it is an event I will never forget. I am so happy we had this reunion – let us hope that the results of it will remain with us and into future generations.
Here are some movies for you to watch:
This event is the result of the cooperation of a good number of Brulé’s. But I want to especially mention Rina for her preparation and help at registration even though she couldn’t stay for the whole reunion. Also Jennifer for her transportation to and from the airport at all hours of the day and early morning. And Jay for her help with pictures and memories of the family that gave more meaning to what we did. Of course Jim not only for his invocations but also for behind the scenes help in the software for the family trees. Special thanks to David Sr. for supplying the buses, the open bar on Friday, and secretarial help. Then Joyce for her care and consideration of the meals. Finally, Warren for his intense involvement in hosting the meals, checking out the itinerary of the Keweenaw tour, but mostly for putting up with his young brother’s mistakes and demands.
Well, we were having a busy year, so we decided to make it even busier. After re turned home from the reunion we received a notice from Grand Circle travel that there was room for us on a last minute trip to Israel and Egypt. Well the chance to visit the Holy Land and then have another trip down the Nile was just too much for us, so we signed up for it. On September we left for Tel Aviv, via Vienna. This involved 12 hours of flying and a 2 hour layover in Vienna. We left Syracuse at 5:40 Sunday afternoon and arrived in Tel Aviv at 3:oo p,m, Monday. For the next six days we toured Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, Bethlehem, and assorted side trips. Then on September 21 we flew to Cairo and toured around there for 5 days, taking a nice side trip to Alexandria. Then on September 26 we flew to Luxor and rode a river boat up river to Aswan. After a fine ride on the Nile everything came to a close when we flew back to New York, via London. What a fabulous trip that was!
No more traveling in 2008! 2009 was a much calmer year than 2008. We of course went to Buenos Aires and this time stayed in an apartment on Arenales. We were there about two months and found the place to be much to our liking. However I developed some rather severe pains in my right foot and went to see a doctor there. He prescribed Lyrica but no idea why the pain developed. So we left a few days early and went back to Syracuse. Upon arriving in Syracuse we found a puddle of water by the chimney and realized we had a roof leak. Possibly from deteriorated shingles but also possibly from degraded flashing around the chimney. So we had the front half of the roof replaced along with repaired flashing.
When I visited Dr. Croglio in Syracuse about my foot he wasn’t able to get me to see a neurologist until mid July. When I finally did get there it turned out that my trouble was a Vitamin B12 deficiency. So now I give myself a shot every couple of months or so and the trouble is gone. (At least for now. Later it returned.)
We decided to take a trip to New York City to view Ground Zero and other touristy things. On the way Shirley Lockwood offered us the use of her apartment which is right in the regionwe wanted to see and we stayed there for a couple of nights. That was great.
2009 was the year to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, and we started making arrangements to have it at a room at the Palace Theater and it worked out just great. However before that we decided to go to New Hampshire to visit the Salvatores and for me to have a chance to visit Dick Congdon. When I contacted his daughter, Alice Evankow, in Berlin, New Hampshire I found out that Dick had died. So we went ahead with the trip and met Alice midway between Berlin and Bedford, NH. Barb and Bob Salvatore and Dolores and I all met there and I was so pleased to meet one of Dick’s daughters. So that was a very successful visit.
We then moved ahead with our plans to have our Anniversary celebration at the Palace and invited many of our closest friends. I also made sure that Rachel and Rina were able to attend along with Corey and Alyssa so all my children and grandchildren were there. Dolores’ family also showed up in good numbers and a happy time was had by all. Of course Dolores put on a big meal while all this was going on – what a remarkable person! Thus ended 2009.