The Week: What Caught Our Eye

July 2, 2022

The American flag with fireworks behind it at nightDear Colleagues, Friends and Patriots, All:

America debauched by its President.” “Personal freedoms under attack.”

Despair not, this Fourth of July weekend. We may think we are less united than ever in these United States but consider the period just after the Revolution: Then, as now, many Americans truly believed their political opponents were not simply ideological adversaries but genuine threats to the future of the country.

George Washington was accused of wearing a “mask of patriotism … to conceal the foulest designs against the liberties of the people.” John Adams, the legal scholar who helped shape American Democracy, was pilloried for supporting restrictions on speech now viewed as unconstitutional.

Independence is what we toast this weekend. Independent thinkers are the gifts we cherish. Those fireworks so often thought to symbolize triumph over tyranny are also an apt metaphor for the passions of our politics.  And by the way, how well do you know your Fourth of July facts? Let’s find out.

THE GRADUATE: Clementina Vieira did what it took to get her four children through high school, rising at 2 a.m. to prepare their lunches and get them ready for school in their native Guyana. She did what she could to keep food on the table, including once capturing an 11-foot anaconda whose bounty paid for a week’s worth of groceries. She had dropped out of high school on the cusp of graduation because her mother had found her a husband, a decision she felt powerless to override. Now 79 and living in the U.S., she was inspired by the questions asked by her young granddaughter to finish her high school education, and she did, through the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center in Troy, N.Y.

A TREE GROWS IN BOLTON: Erik Danielson has found in Bolton, N.Y., what experts believe may be the tallest tree in New York State, a white pine of 174 feet, three inches, standing in a grove that could be 120 to 180 years old. Nearby cliffs apparently protect the trees from winds that might damage them. The grove is off busy Route 9N, the main thoroughfare along the western side of Lake George, but Danielson said camping under the tree was like being on a “wildlife superhighway.”

WELCOME, VISITORS! As crowds seek respite in the Catskills, the Adirondacks, and other spectacular venues, parking and crowd control have become major issues. Over the Memorial Day weekend in Hunter, a small town in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York known for its outdoors appeal, authorities towed cars from the shoulder of a road that is popular with hikers. Confused visitors, including some with children, stuck in a remote area with spotty cell service and no signage directing them where to go to get their vehicles, were left wondering what happened. “There is no just or moral rationale,” one woman wrote, “to force families with young children to aimlessly walk on an extremely dangerous and narrow, winding Catskills road.”

WATCHING THEIR PENNIES: The more than 80% of Americans who said in May that they plan to cut back spending could learn a lot from people like the Shillito family of Burnt Hills, N.Y., a suburb of Albany. The family has nine children, 38 chickens, five gardens that last year produced 770 pounds of food, a home with no mortgage, no other debt, and an average food bill of under $365 a month. “People find what we do interesting but when they find out how involved it is, they’re not interested,” Art Shillito told The Wall Street Journal. “They want a couple easy solutions.” 

THE NEXT GENERATION: Ramirez. Ortiz. Martinez. Foulke. Names instantly recognizable to any fan of the 2004 Boston Red Sox, who ended one of the most famous championship droughts in professional sports history. It’s those names — and throw in a Sheffield — that are making the Brockton Rox, a team in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, a hot ticket. Manny Ramirez Jr., Pedro Martinez Jr., D’Angelo Ortiz and Kade Foulke are all trying to improve their pro prospects as members of the Rox, as is Jaden Sheffield, whose father, Gary, was on the Yankees team that lost four straight to the Red Sox in the 2004 American League Championship Series, catapulting Boston to its first World Series title since 1918.

TRAVELERS GROUNDED: Karol Markowicz, for one, has had enough. And it’s safe to say she’s not alone. The New York Post columnist points out that airlines received $50 billion in pandemic relief money from U.S. taxpayers, and that they’re thanking us by delaying and canceling  thousands of flights, getting chintzier on snacks, blaming others for their shortcomings and otherwise maintaining an arrogant, take-it-or-leave-it attitude when people  complain. “Here’s hoping every elected official whose flight is delayed two hours, six hours or eventually canceled remembers they gave this industry the money to treat us like this,” she writes. “And then let’s hope they don’t do it again.”

GETTING AWAY: For those planes that do make it into the air on time, pilots and crew can’t exactly slip away for quiet breaks. Or can they? It turns out, there are hidden compartments on long-haul flights that are exclusively for the use of pilots and cabin crew, with recliners, beds, power outlets and lights. “They can be quite comfortable,” a flight attendant with United Airlines told CNN. Who knew?

NEW YORK’S FINEST: A New York State trooper responding to a 911 call last weekend in rural Conklin, Broome County, squeezed into a narrow culvert pipe and crawled 15 feet to reach a golden retriever that had been missing for a couple days. The trooper and the dog, a 13-year-old named Lilah, emerged wet but safe, the trooper able to work a choker chain around her head despite the tight conditions and lead her out.

WHO WILL SERVE? Private-sector employers are not the only ones struggling to find people to work. Every branch of the U.S. military is struggling to find recruits. There are simply fewer people to serve and fewer who are interested in serving. Can the all-volunteer force be sustained?

SCIENTIFIC SUPERLATIVES: The USS Samuel B. Roberts, a U.S. Navy destroyer that was sunk in the Philippines in October 1944, was discovered this week 22,916 feet below the surface of the Pacific, the deepest shipwreck ever found. Eighty-nine died and 120 were saved, including the ship’s captain. “It was an extraordinary honor to locate this incredibly famous ship, and by doing so have the chance to retell her story of heroism and duty to those who may not know of the ship and her crew’s sacrifice,” explorer Victor Vescovo, a former Navy commander, said. Meanwhile, in northwest Canada, gold miners working in the Yukon’s Klondike region this week found a mummified whole baby woolly mammoth frozen in the permafrost, a first-of-its kind discovery in North America. It’s thought to be nearly 30,000 years old.

SCOUTS HONOR: The Amtrak train that derailed this week in Missouri, killing four and injuring more than 100, carried a troop of Boy Scouts from Wisconsin who were returning home from a backcountry outing in New Mexico. Once they recovered from the initial jolt, the scouts jumped into action, delivering supplies to paramedics, tending to and evacuating the injured and peeling away obstacles so rescuers could reach injured passengers who were stuck in the wreckage.

THE AMERICAN DREAM: Yuxi Lin arrived with her parents in the U.S. in 2004, when she was 12. It didn’t take her long to fall in love — with Costco, the warehouse membership store where her parents shopped and that she, over time, came to associate with the American dream. She traces her journey in a fascinating essay that weaves her own immigrant experience with that of her parents through the lens of Costco and all that it represents, literally and symbolically.

THE PERFECT VACATION: Travel and Leisure magazine, with 5 million readers, says the perfect vacation in the perfect small town offers opportunities for swimming, boating, parasailing, hiking, camping, biking, plus pubs, taverns, ice cream shops, arcades, lakefront parks, and beaches. Recognize Lake George, N.Y.? 

A blue lake with trees on the far shoreline and a mountain under blue skiesA beautiful summer weekend, and what better place to camp and cast your line than Cedar River Flow in Indian Lake, Hamilton County.

SEEN AND HEARD: Upstate New York’s best stuff finds appreciative audiences far and wide. This week, Facing Outers reported listening to Washington, D.C.’s WETA public radio and hearing the Albany Symphony performing under the baton of Julius Hegyi. Founding Farmers restaurant in the nation’s capital turned a sweet spotlight on its preferred maple syrup tapped from trees near Lake Placid, N.Y. And Miami’s Omakai restaurant, voted best place for sushi in one poll, was treating diners to Saratoga Water. If on your summer travels you spot upstate New York excellence in far-flung spots, please let us know.

HADLEY-WOOD: Hadley, N.Y., is a small, forested community in the southern Adirondacks, known for its whitewater rafting and camping areas. It’s a lovely, relaxed place without airs, but for a brief time in the 1950s, it was home to stage and film lyricist Joseph McCarthy Jr. and his wife, actress Veronica Lake, who frequently hosted luminaries such as Mickey Rooney and Humphrey Bogart. Now, a local businessman and college professor is restoring the house and outbuildings on a 171-acre property that once belonged to McCarthy and Lake, hoping to turn into a destination for weddings and other events, as well as outdoor activities.

LIVES

MARY MARA was a native of Syracuse, N.Y., who would amass more than 80 screen credits in a film and TV career that started in 1989 with the TV movie “The Preppie Murder” and included recurring roles in “ER” and “Law and Order.” She retired from acting in 2020 and returned to live in Syracuse. She was staying at her sister’s summer home on the St. Lawrence River when she died form an apparent drowning at 61.

DR. LENORE (STANKE) CLESCERI won a basketball scholarship to a renowned Midwest high school where, at a sophomore dance, she met the man with whom she would spend the rest of her very full life of teaching, research and community service. After earning a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, she and her husband Dr. Nick Clesceri received fellowships from the U.S. Public Health Service to study in Zurich. In 1965, they returned to the United States, joined the faculty at RPI and shortly thereafter moved to Bolton Landing. They became major forces in RPI’s Fresh Water Institute, ran a small family resort and became deeply involved in community life. She was 86.

DR. MAUREEN BRENNAN-WEAVER was a hoot, six feet tall, a beloved mom and rowdy aunt, coupon clipper, gardener, and lover of strays, a podiatrist who bought shoes for her patients and refused to do house calls but set aside entire days to do them.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“(T)his is likely to be well administered for a Course of Years and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.”
—    Benjamin Franklin, on the Constitution of the United States

THE SIGNOFF

DOESN’T ADD UP: Global accounting firm Ernst & Young was fined $100 million after admitting to federal regulators that, for years, its auditors, whose jobs are to ferret out cheating by clients, were cheating on their … ethics exams, needed to maintain CPA licenses.

___ 

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THANK YOU to our contributors:  Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, Tina Suhocki, Matt Behan, Chandler Atkins, Jeff Killeen, Claire P. Tuttle, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, and Tara Hutchins.

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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