The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 4, 2021

A small town's main street at dusk during winterSnow covers the Adirondacks, up to a foot in some places, and in North Creek and elsewhere, the ski and holiday seasons have begun. (Nancie Battaglia)

Good morning, Colleagues and Friends:

The words that have lived in glorious memory for 80 years did not appear in the first draft. Just hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt sat down to dictate to his assistant Grace Tully the historic call to arms that brought the United States into World War II. Some call Roosevelt’s address to Congress the most important political speech of the 20th century.

Biographer Nathan Miller: “He inhaled deeply on his cigarette, blew out the smoke, and began dictating in the same calm tone he used to deal with his mail. He enunciated the words incisively and slowly, carefully specifying each punctuation mark and new paragraph. Running little more than five hundred words, the message was dictated without hesitation or second thoughts.”

That first draft called it, quite accurately, a date that “will live in world history.” The only change made in the second draft was the inclusion of the larger historical perspective: “a date which will live in infamy.”

Indeed. Just before 8 a.m. on that Sunday morning, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes descended on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in a devastating surprise attack. Nearly 20 American naval vessels, including eight battleships, and more than 300 airplanes were damaged or destroyed. More than 2,400 Americans died, including civilians, and another 1,000 people were wounded.

Hundreds of sailors killed that day aboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma were buried in common graves under granite headstones that read UNKNOWN. Today, thanks to the six-year efforts of a team of scientists working inside the Pentagon, 361 of those killed have been identified, creating hope that there soon could be no “unknown” military graves.

Tuesday is the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

WHATEVER IT TAKES: Veronica Vargas and her longtime partner both work full-time while raising their three sons, ages 11, 13 and 14. Like many parents, they chose to live in an area with excellent schools, in their case a well-regarded suburban school district near Allentown, Pa. Unlike many parents, the home they’ve chosen, of necessity, is the family’s Hyundai Santa Fe.

RHODES SCHOLAR: Tawreak “Ty” Gamble-Eddington, raised in a low-income household in Springfield, Mass., and the first in his family to get a degree when he graduated from Union College, has been named a Rhodes Scholar, only the second in Union’s history. He will complete a master’s degree in comparative government at the University of Oxford beginning next October.

CHRISTMAS WONDERLANDS: Stockbridge, Mass., the Berkshires home of the late Norman Rockwell and today of the Norman Rockwell Museum, was named the top place to visit in the U.S. during the Christmas season by Country Living magazine, which lauded its annual re-creation of the famous 1967 Rockwell painting. Several other Northeast locations made the magazine’s list, including New York City; Essex, Conn.; Cape Cod and Nantucket; Manchester, Vt.; and Corning, N.Y. And if you’re looking exclusively at places to spend a weekend in Upstate New York, Well + Good has some ideas.

DAIRY DIARIES: Most dairy farmers don’t dabble in social media, so Evelyn, Claudia and Jojo Leubner, sisters from Central New York, are reaching out to the world beyond dairy farms and chronicling their daily lives for a growing audience on Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, where they have nearly half a million followers. The NY-FARM GIRLS, as they are known, create their content around their farm duties, which include tending the cows, working the fields and managing the calf barn.

ROCK SOLID: Oscar Rodriguez is a Navy veteran who cares for his mother, makes meals for survivors of domestic violence, and serves at his church. And now, he’s the owner of a Ford F-150 pickup that was custom built for actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who surprised Rodriguez with the gift on Thanksgiving. “Just an honor for me to give a little bit of joy to a dude who deserves probably a lot more than just my truck,” Johnson said in a video announcing the gift.

WHAT’S NEW: In Green Island, N.Y., a $65-million waterfront apartment complex and marina on what had been a contaminated former industrial site. Starbuck Island, which connects Green Island to downtown Troy, also features an amphitheater and promenade that is open to the community.

A church building with clouds in a sunsetUniversal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs presents “It’s a Jazzy Christmas,’’ featuring the music that Vince Guaraldi made famous in the Peanuts holiday specials Saturday, Dec. 18.  (John Bulmer)

GIVING BACK: University of Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh could earn up to $3.5 million in performance bonuses this season if his Wolverines go on to win the college football national championship. He already has collected $500,000 for winning his team’s division of the Big Ten. Regardless of the amount, Harbaugh said he intends to give the money back to the athletic department and earmark it for distribution to those in the department who took pay cuts last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

HOSPITAL OVERLOAD: Upstate New York hospitals are coping with a surge of COVID-19 patients unlike anything they have experienced since the start of the pandemic. At Glens Falls Hospital, for example, 80% of current COVID patients are unvaccinated and all of the ICU patients are unvaccinated. Yet physicians are still having a hard time persuading some to get vaccinated or even to believe that the disease is real.

SCHOOL DAZE: School districts across the United States have been announcing unscheduled closures driven by staff shortages, fatigue and related stresses. A superintendent in southeast Michigan said her staff reported spending entire weekends recuperating. Nearly 8,700 individual schools had been affected at last count. These unexpected closures, in turn, are forcing parents to scramble, and sometimes to forgo a day’s wages.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Dr. Uma Naidoo is a nutritional psychiatrist, faculty member at Harvard Medical School and author of a best-selling book about foods that fight a variety of mental health conditions. She studies how diet influences cognitive function, and has published a list of foods to avoid to promote good brain health.

PLEASURE TO MEET YOU: It’s not every day that you strike up a friendship with someone who kept calling you by accident, but that’s exactly what happened with a Rhode Island business owner and a Florida woman who was just trying to reach her daughter. Mike from Rhode Island and Gladys from Florida, as they knew each other, would check in with each other every now and then — she was “Florida Lady” in his phone —and Mike even sent Gladys flowers when he learned her husband had died. The day before Thanksgiving, they finally met.

TIGER TALKS: Tiger Woods, in his first interview since the car crash last February that nearly cost him his right leg, told Golf Digest he hopes to again play tournament golf, but that he doubts he will be able to compete again at the game’s highest levels. “I can still, if my leg gets OK, I can still click off a tournament here or there,” he said. “But as far as climbing the mountain again and getting all the way to the top, I don’t think that’s a realistic expectation of me.”

WAR OF WORD: Le Petit Robert, a prominent French dictionary, caused quite the contretemps this week when it added the gender-neutral pronoun “iel,” a merging of French masculine and feminine pronouns. The backlash was swift, hostile and from several quarters.

JUMP START: The Olympic Regional Development Authority, the state agency that manages Olympic training facilities and venues at Lake Placid as well as Whiteface, Gore and Belleayre Mountains, has completed $26 million in upgrades to the towering ski jumps just in time for the U.S. Olympic trials. Trials for ski jumping and Nordic combined — a combination of jumping and cross country skiing — will be held December 24-25, with the top finishers qualifying for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

LIVES

TATE MYRE was much more than a star football player at Michigan’s Oxford High School. He is being called a hero in his hometown and beyond, credited with rushing a classmate who opened fire in the school, sacrificing himself to protect others. A petition has begun to rename the school stadium for him. He was one of four students to die in the shooting, along with Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Justin Shilling, 17; and Hana St. Juliana, 14. Tate was 16.

LEE ELDER won his first professional golf tournament, the 1974 Monsanto Open. The victory qualified him for an invitation to the 1975 Masters, where he became the first Black golfer to play in the famed tournament at Augusta National. He would play six times in the Masters, tying for 11th place in 1979. He overcame a difficult childhood and racism in his own sport to win four times on the PGA Tour and eight times on the senior tour. He was 87.

VIRGIL ABLOH was the first African-American designer for Louis Vuitton, the iconic French fashion house that he joined in 2018 after launching his own successful streetwear company, Off-White, in Milan. Born in Chicago to parents who immigrated from Ghana, he never lost his childhood obsession with fashion, art, design, and culture, performing music and making paintings and sculptures in addition to his meteoric fashion career. He died at 41 after a private two-year battle with cancer.

KAZUO HASEGAWA was dismayed when he received a diagnosis of dementia in 2017. But the disease also deepened his understanding of his life’s work because Dr. Hasegawa, before becoming a patient, was one of Japan’s eminent specialists in dementia. (subscription) He was 92.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “One of the biggest reasons we haven’t brought in more companies is we no longer have the loving support of a silver-backed gorilla at the state making deals to help us get things done,” said Saratoga Springs Realtor Tom Roohan, president of the Luther Forest board, referring to the late Sen. Joe Bruno.

The backstory: In July 2009, when Advanced Micro Devices selected a site in Malta, N.Y., to build its largest computer chip factory, Saratoga County hit the motherlode of economic development jackpots: As many as 5,000 construction workers began building a $4.2 billion factory that would employ 1,400. Today, more than $15 billion has been invested into what is now known as the GlobalFoundries chip complex. The site employs 3,000 people and is the corporate headquarters for the publicly traded company. Since then, attracting companies to the business park has been difficult. Prospective tenants went elsewhere because no one could tell them how long it would take to secure the necessary approvals to build. Now, there’s a new opportunity: A 3.5 million-square-foot research and manufacturing hub – and new obstacles. (subscription)

WARM WELCOME to Reese Hudson Alessi, beautiful infant daughter of Behan Communications’ Katie and Brian Alessi of Clifton Park and sister to Carter.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“Kindness is like snow — it beautifies everything it covers.”
Kahlil Gibran

THE SIGNOFF

FOREST RANGERS were dispatched to Mt. Marcy, New York State’s highest peak, on Thanksgiving evening after three people who had hiked to the top in sneakers requested a lift back down, complaining of frozen feet in the frigid and snowy conditions.

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Tara Hutchins, John Bulmer, Nancie Battaglia, Claire P. Tuttle, Kelly Donahue, and Katie Alessi.

FACING OUT is what we do. We help companies, organizations and individuals work effectively with their most important external audiences – their customers, their shareholders, their communities, the government and the news media.  www.behancommunications.com

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value to you, our friends and business associates. Some items are good news about our clients and friends, others are stories that we hope will leave you a bit more informed or entertained than you were five minutes ago. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback. 

Let’s make it a conversationmark.behan@behancom.com

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