Category Archives: Slice of Life

A (First) Name I’d Rather Forget

By GORDON GLANTZ

What, exactly, do I do these days?

Well, in addition to being Sofia’s chauffeur, I handle a wide array of freelance articles about subjects ranging from hearing loss to anesthesiology to business and sports features.

And, yet somehow, I find myself with so much time on my hands that I’m on Facebook and invariably picking fights with either wrong-wingers who can twist their so-called minds so much that they can justify insurrection or Eagles’ fans who somehow think a position coach from a 4-11-1 team should have been promoted from within to head coach.

What I often find myself doing, in both frustrating realms, is serving as a combination of English teacher and Journalism professor.

Before I can even argue posts with little to no punctuation or capitalization, I find myself correcting what it took me two times to read only to find it wasn’t worth one read because of the stupidity.

One of the major pet peeves, particularly with Eagles fans, is the usage of first names – Carson, Doug, Alshon, Howie, etc. – on first reference.

It’s not just the so-called fans, as I find this occurring with radio hosts on sports talk stations and with the vast array fledgling sites where the “experts” throw their stuff against the wall in hopes that sticks.

Here’s my thing: If you know the individual on a personal level, fine. I know, as a former second-tier sports writer myself, that is rarely – if ever – the case with pro athletes.

Maybe I’m from the old school, and maybe the old school has been burned to the ground in the name of “progress,” but nobody gave me the memo.

It was pretty simple back in Journalism school. First reference, full name (i.e. Zach Ertz). Second reference, last name (Ertz). Only time he can be called “Zach” is if he is referred to as such by a teammate or coach, or even an opposing player or coach, in a quote.

Other than that, it’s unacceptable.

Unless you know the person. Unless you are on a first-name basis.

In my previous lifetime in the newspaper business, I earned that status with some local semi-luminaries.

One of them, I’m now sorry to say, is Bruce Castor.

He was no Bruce Springsteen, but he was an OK “Bruce” that I actually knew fairly well – first professionally and then more casually as members of the Mangioni Society (basically a bunch of guys getting together to eat, drink and be merry.).

I first came into Castor’s orbit as a police beat reporter with The Times Herald when he was the District Attorney.

I have to say, he was awesome to deal with. He was followed in that post by Risa Ferman, who could have been standing astride over a dead body and still wouldn’t say that a murder had been committed.

Bruce? Heck, he could fill up your notebook without really saying anything.

And he could call a mean press conference, laying all the drugs and firearms from a recent bust.

He was a reporter’s dream, but there was a catch. He loved the limelight. His favorite topic was himself, or an extension (i.e classic Corvette).

But I played the game.

It was a quid pro quo.

As I moved up and on to managing editor, Bruce – if I can call him Bruce – eventually became a county commissioner.

Even though he played on the wrong team as a Republican, a fact that squeezed him into the minority of the three-person board, he was among the Republicans for whom I’d vote.

And why not?

I knew him and, while bemused by some of his phony bologna act that comes with the territory, he was a decent person who appeared regularly on my cable access talk show “Behind The Headlines.”

When I lost my gig at The Herald, he was one of the first – if not the first – person to reach out with the claim to let him know if I needed anything.

Now, he is back in the limelight, big-time, as he is representing the entity who recently dared to call himself your president (not mine) the last four years.

To be specific, Castor is defending “it” on impeachment for inciting a riot of Neanderthals who support him if shot someone in Times Square.

In short, he has signed on to defend the indefensible.

In terms of selling off your soul, this is like doing so at a flea market.

I used to say I know many local Republicans, and that I voted for some, like Castor.

There were times when my ticket was split, or even went into the red, and he’d be the reason.

I wouldn’t say we were friends, but we were friendly enough to be on a first-name basis.

And, man, I couldn’t be more ashamed.

And As The Rats Scurry

By GORDON GLANTZ

From factory workers to steelworkers to those who worked in big city high rises, the shocking sight of a place where you spent the large part of your work life go from vacant to a state of disrepair to being reduced to rubble is far from unique.

It is an American as Hollywood insulting our intelligence with rehashed reboots of sequels old movies and television shows.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have my own rather bittersweet feelings about the old Times Herald building at Main and Markley streets in Norristown suffering the same fate for the alleged sake of gentrification.

The last time I was there, in mid-April of 2013, I was being escorted to my car. Nearly eighteen years of service, and that was that.

The truth was this: I didn’t need an escort. If I believed more strongly in running instead of walking, I would have ran to my car. It was a mercy firing.

It was a Thursday, and my blood pressure had been so dangerously high (readings like 180/120) all that week — from work-related stress — that my doctor had me checking it three times a day and set me up with a counselor to work it out (if it was good enough for Tony Soprano, it was good enough for me).

When I woke up Friday, the first day of unemployment, my BP was a perfectly normal 117/94. I still went to the counselor, but we soon talked about my “mother” issues after she pretty much surmised my work scenario was toxic and I needed the change,

Since then, as I’ve gone from seeing my daughter, Sofia, 15 minutes a day to 15 hours a day, I’ve had the happiest years — Kindergarten though 8th grade for her — of my life.

But that is not to downgrade my time at The Times Herald. I made some lifelong friends — Valerie Newitt, Judy Baca, Kelly Devine, Katie O’Conor-Kelly, Bill Schneider and many others (including people in the community I met through being there so long) — and have stories that no one sober would dare believe.

Like I said, bittersweet.

Even while surrounded by co-workers who felt eternally trapped and miserable, there was a point in my tenure when I would have been wholly satisfied to retire in that place. There were no daggers in my desk drawers to plunge into anyone’s back with the desire to move up some imaginary corporate ladder. In the newsroom, the same newsroom where I had vicious seizure in 2005 and where Sofia took her first steps in 2009, is where I wanted to be.

They say that ignorance is bliss. And I was probably too blissful — and too comfortable — for my own good.

The only thing that changed was the work environment, where it went from feeling like a family akin to the Waltons (I craved that after my unique childhood) to one where a rabid pack of Millennials, some of whom I had brought in as interns and then hired, operated under the misguided belief that they could make their own candle shine brighter by blowing out mine.

I always wanted to be loved. Since that is not an easy juggling act for one in middle management, I would have settled for being liked. Being despised, for reasons I couldn’t fully comprehend, tore away at my insides.

Maybe it was just the circumstances of becoming too understaffed to operate seven days a week, and maybe I had just overstayed my welcome in those 18 years.

Even though it all left me with a touch of PTSD, I still would not have changed a thing in the big rose-colored picture.

Under the wrecking ball’s wrath, there are no victims except the generation of suddenly homeless rats that have long-since inhabited the place. If they could tell tales, that of Gordon Glantz would be a quite a chapter in and of itself.

It is not an exaggeration that my blood, sweat and tears were left there when I was escorted out.

Maybe only the rats in the dank bowels realized it, but that’s OK. They are more intelligent animals than most people know.

Am I making too much out of my impact there? Maybe.

I mean, I was no Red McCarthy, the sports editor for eons, but I likely won more journalism awards than anyone in the history of the joint (I also probably entered more contests, too, but you got to be in it to win it, right?).

I also hosted my own cable access current events show and had 14.5 minutes of fame on the mainstream media circuit after a gruesome homicide in Upper Merion.

Just during my 18-year tenure, there were those who came and went at the speed of a staff of a fast food restaurant and likely barely remember ever even working there on their road to somewhere else.

That wasn’t me, though.

Heck, at places like Eve’s Lunch or the annual Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame banquet, people will come up to me and complain about not getting their paper delivered.

I have to politely tell them I don’t work at the paper anymore, and haven’t since that fateful day in 2013.

When we toured Mount St. Joseph Academy (Sofia got a scholarship, not that I’m bragging), a teacher from the Jeffersonville area said: “Wait, you’re Gordon Glantz? Really? We love Gordon Glantz!”

She, too, didn’t realize I wasn’t there anymore. And this was recently (she politely declined my offer for an autograph).

I remember being at the bank, and also serving a sentence waiting for the wife to shop at the Dollar Store in East Norriton, and having someone ask this question: “Didn’t you used to be Gordon Glantz?”

As I am prone to do, I wrote a dour woe-is-me song about the experiences called “Used To Be Me.”

Actually, as songwriting has morphed into my main thing, one theme has been the wrestling match within American souls between defining themselves by who they are (as parents, citizens and civil human beings) and what they are (based on what war they might have fought in, and for which branch of the military, or what they did for a living and where).

Having served both of those masters in my lifetime, my bittersweet feelings about the building coming down now make sense in context.

It has been a long, strange trip.

When I got to The Times Herald in May of 1995, Scotty had beamed me down to the surface of the planet Utopia. I had spent 7 years at a chain of low-paying weeklies – Montgomery Newspapers – and was already worn to a nub from my sports stories running up to a week after an event.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the opportunity given to me at that first real journalism job, as it gave me a chance to iron out some seriously rough edges to my writing.

Because I was often writing game stories that were running way after the fact, and after they had already been reported in other papers (there used to be healthy amount back then), I developed a way to turn a game story into more of a feature that would be still be an interesting read.

I had put in the work, too, on other levels. Example: I would cover football games on Friday nights and drive all the back to a dark and dank Fort Washington office (also long-since vacant) and put myself on the same deadline that I knew writers at daily papers were on.

When I first got to the Herald, there was a lot of consternation – and turnover – because of a change in ownership about a year before. I was always kind of caught in the middle of all that. It was like being born too late to be a baby boomer but too soon for Generation X, something I know from being born in 1965.

At the time, all the desks in the newsroom were still filled with reporters and editors. People weren’t happy with their salaries, but we were at full staff. There were multiple reporters at the courthouse, too. In sports, there were seven of us for six desks. As the “rookie,” I sometimes had to get up and move two or three times per shift.

In many ways, the Herald was more antiquated than my previous employer. It didn’t have voice mail – something I had to put atop the bargaining wish list as unit chair when it was clear we weren’t getting more than a pittance of a raise – and I had taken my life in my hands multiple times by trying to enter through the arcane revolving door at the front entrance (it became safer ascending and descending from the steep and rickety side fire escape that management encourage us to use).

But I covered all the premium scholastic beats – football, boys’ basketball (including PW winning the state title in Hershey), baseball and American Legion baseball in the summer.

I eventually had the chance to cover the 76ers and then college hoops, both of which included going on the road.

Professionally, after seven years of feeling like a second class citizen, I was like Albert in Wonderland.

I got married while I was there, and many of the attendees at my bachelor party – and wedding — were co-workers.

The thing was, turnover was growing at a more rapid rate, too. At one point, the news reporters had already left or had turned in their two-weeks notice. At the same time, my union activities pretty much had me blacklisted from attaining management status, even after serving as interim sports editor – with no raise – for a period of close to a year.

It was time for a change, but we already bought a house in Blue Bell and I couldn’t just up and move (even after being advised that it would be in the best interests of my career).

I had an epiphany, and went into the office of then-editor Mike Morsch (still a good friend to this day). I offered to come over to the dark side – i.e. newsroom – but only as the crime reporter. I wanted no parts of any township/borough meetings, etc.

He was cool with the proposal and, just like that, I had made a sudden gear shift.

A lot was different, obviously. It was real life, with real life consequences, but I had connected with most of the cops the same way I did with coaches.

Once you are on a first-name basis, and can be trusted, you can be a more cerebral cop reporter (you don’t need to go ambulance-chasing covering accidents and fires catching stories solely from the scanner). I worked closely with detectives on larger cases and had my share of scoops.

The managing editor, a vastly overqualified dude named Justin Williams, was leaving. I was talking in the newsroom with fellow reporter – and partner in crime – Michelle Mowad about who would replace Justin.

“Whoever it is, I hope they aren’t an asshole,” one of us said, as we watched candidates come and go for interviews.

Hearing us from across the room, Cheryl Rodgers – then the city editor and now still “it” as the paper functions virtually – chimed in.

“Whoever it is better not think they are my boss,” she said.

As soon as we got done laughing, I saw Justin at my desk. He said Stan Huskey, Mike Morsch’s replacement as executive editor, wanted to see me.

I figured someone was in trouble (not naming names, but it was usually the same person) and he wanted to tell me about it, since I was the “union guy.”

Lo and behold, Stan asked if I was interested in the managing editor’s job.

I’m sure he thought I would jump at it, but I needed some time.

We were in the middle of contract talks, and I didn’t want to seem like Benedict Arnold.

However, everyone involved with the Newspaper Guild could not have been more encouraging, if not flat-out happy for me, as it seemed I was suddenly off the blacklist.

I was cleared for takeoff on the home front as well, so I told Stan I was willing to proceed.

What came next was the best run of my work life.

Followed by the worst.

It was like a thrilling roller-coaster ride that, unfortunately, leaves you nauseated at the tail end.

Like I said, bittersweet.

Ask the rats — as they scurry — if you don’t believe me.

Back From The Front Lines

Trench Warfare

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – Are we embroiled in a civil war? Not only is the answer to that question an affirmative, a full-throated “Hell, yeah,” but I have been on the front lines since the earliest days.

I’m talking about before we knew this war was even a war.

I’m talking about when Tea Party and militia memberships exploded before Barack Obama could even put two feet into the Oval Office.

Their thinly veiled battle cry: We want our country back.

Our response: What does that mean, exactly?

We knew darn well what it meant, but it was worth asking the rhetorical question to see them do to their little chicken dances around the topic — although I did get straight answers at enough backyard barbecues and backroom meetings that it was clear what it was all about.

Enough of us realized the power of the moment, not only when Obama was elected for his first term but reaffirmed a second.

Not bad when a third of the country thinks you are a Muslim born in Kenya.

And it was about race — about race when people on the other side of the fence talked about how their descendants would have been rolling over in their grades.

Hit fast-forward and they had their champ in a chump that calls himself the current president.

Too old and feeble to take it to the streets, I do what I do best and try to right wrongs by writing about it.

That’s in columns, songs, attempts at coherent give and take on social media and with blogs such as this.

The other day, I found myself sparring with followers of the so-called president, people who like to make their point by writing in ALL CAPS or ending a rambling (usually punctuated with hideous grammar) with an LOL or “ha ha.”

I have gone through stretches of just ignoring it, or laying low, like on my spy mission on a Facebook page that sent me an invite that I accept and now monitor for its hate speech.

Other times, though, it’s either enduring the pain of banging my head against the wall or engaging them.

So I engaged.

And I did so well that I decided to blogify it — i.e. turn it into a blog.

Here are some highlights, as I believe letting out my pent-up stress and frustration of a flooded basement and Sofia’s travel softball tryouts led to me landing some serious 1-2 combinations.

It all started with a post about how their president (not mine) could not and should be blamed for COVID-19.

To that I replied: “I know you people like to hang your hats on ‘he didn’t invent the virus,’ but that’s silly. And not the point. Leaders, good leaders, are proactive and not reactive. Politics should not enter into the equation when there is an existential threat to everyone.”

And he knew of the threat long before it affected those he was elected – with the help of Putin and the electoral college – to serve and protect.

I continued: “That’s why you have these people called scientists. The smartest person in the room is the one who is smart enough to realize they aren’t the smartest in the room on every topic. He is a barely functional idiot with esteem issues. He was warned of this virus way before it hit our shores, and no real measures were taken. He just thought he could take that thing that passes for a head and bury it in the sand.”

Why? To me, it is simple. Their president has a “brain” that is so wired toward the economy that he sees nothing else. He was too worried about the market, etc. What happens? By delaying a proactive response, and barely being reactive, the economy tanked even worse. The whole country should have shut down for two months in February, with everyone getting stimulus checks like they got anyway 6-8 weeks later anyway.

Facebookfight

COVID-19 would have been contained, less people would have died and the economy would have had a foundation to be built upon. That’s what a real leader would have done. He didn’t ask for the disease, but we ask for leadership in response to it.

“We got a misleader full of shit,” I wrote. “Any questions? LOL?”

But then, right on cue, another mental midget from his parents’ basement chimed in, saying the odds of dying from COVID-19 are the same as getting killed while crossing the street.

Sounded good, and probably does on stools in bars where the Jack Daniels flows into shot glasses and Confederate flags adorn the walls alongside Elk heads.

The problem is there are these things called facts. There are around 6,000 pedestrian deaths per year in the US. There have been 159,000 — and counting — COVID-19 deaths.

I got the predictable concession than Obama is more articulate but was still “an asshole.” When I asked what gave him “asshole” status, the critics turned to crickets.

But even as we drifted away from the topic, I threw a grenade that landed right into that foxhole, going right after the “articulate but” argument.

Obama is articulate because he is well-educated, I explained. Their president (not mine) was born with a silver spoon up his orange ass and went to all the best boarding/military schools (and if his niece is to be believed, it was because his mother rejected him and/or he was as incurably incorrigible as he is now).

He then went to the Wharton School at Penn (allegedly, since no one saw him there). There is zero reason — with that background — to talk like a buffoon, other than that he is mentally deranged and it’s the best he can do.

I think he is mentally deranged, and it’s the best he can do.

If you voted, and still support that, what does it say about you?

I added: “It must be nice to either use a fake news narrative or say he was ‘just kidding’ all the time. The reality, whether ‘yews’ want to admit it or not, is that he was elected because of — not in spite of — the mainstream media giving him free advertising.”

There was one guy in the fray who seemed semi-literate and tolerable, if only because he didn’t go to low blows right away. He went on a long and winding spiel about the Black Lives Matter movement and how the environment now is one filled with reverse racism.

I didn’t want to make that descent into the rabbit hole with him that there really is no such thing as reverse racism, since a majority does not face prejudice in a systemic way, but I didn’t go there.

Instead, since he seemed to have an IQ at least in the average range – 90 to 110 – I decided to engage, knowing I was at least dealing with a Border Collie.

Here is what I said, verbatim: “I’m not going to say you don’t make some valid points, because you do — at least in the abstract. It’s a complete mess right now. How did we descend into this state of madness — a pandemic that should have been contained better with better planning and a civil war, sparked by class warfare, at the same time? Look to the White House. You elect someone unfit for the job, who thrives of division for his own ends, this is bound to happen. I dread to think what’s next if he gets another four years. We should have known better during his campaign, with the hate being spewed to get votes (and openly inviting foreign interference). But don’t forget, by definition, he was never a popular president. He didn’t win the popular vote.”

Still, they remain incredulous as to why we on the left – people of color, in particular – don’t see the light when their version of the light is nothing but darkness.

Think about it. These nitwits still have to understand that black people loved the Clintons. Their president (not mine) was so outright disrespectful to Hillary during the campaign, with the “lock her up” chants, that it was a turnoff right there.

How is someone vowing to undo everything Obama did, good or bad, going to ease racial discord?  How is leading the birther movement going to just go away?

Haters Gonna Hate

And urban communities are torn apart by gun violence, and no one really gives a shit. Leaders from those communities, more than any, have been crying out for gun control legislation for years.

The so-called president is absolutely opposed to even the smallest of gun control measures.

The backdrop was right for #blacklivesmatter. George Floyd was the straw that broke the camel’s back as much as the knee that broke his windpipe. When you think about Colin Kaepernick, he was taking a knee against police brutality years ago — way before the Floyd incident.

I added: “Look at how your president (not mine) spoke about that? If calling it reverse racism helps you sleep better at night, go for it. I just call it the chickens coming home to roost. He asked for it, he got it.”

The reality is that the so-called president’s moment to win over a lot of us — myself included — was early on, in the wake of Charlottesville, and he pussyfooted around it with the likes of hater Steve Bannon whispering in his ear. Then there was the clearly racist mishandling of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.  There was no walking it back from there.

And here we are.

Which is brings us back to the point of the pointless post, about us mean Snowflakes unfairly blaming COVID-19 on their hero. No, he didn’t create the disease, but he mishandled it when he had advance knowledge of it.

An analogy would be that it’s like a small town not taking cover when there is a tornado warning. The town officials didn’t create the tornado, but not bracing for it when it’s in the forecast makes the death and destruction worse.

If you are the mayor of the little town that thinks they can pray away a tornado, your ass should be grass.

Same rules apply with a pandemic.

I’d end this with a LOL, but it’s really not a laughing matter.

It never was, going way to back to when the seed to this civil war were planted, and never will be.

KaepReb

 

Remembering John Lewis

Ben and John
By BEN BLOCK
It’s hard to find the words to capture how this loss is processing in my mind, but here we go.
They say “you should never meet your heroes” — work for them?
Sheesh.
The above photo was taken back in 2014, the first time I met my political hero: John Lewis.
Just six months after graduating college with degrees in political science and communications, I was lucky enough to find myself in a meeting across from one of the most influential figures in American history (starstruck would be an understatement to express how I felt in that moment).
Hearing John Lewis tell his well-documented story that wintry afternoon on Capitol Hill is a memory I hope to one day share with my children. You could hear the conviction in his voice when he instructed our team to not give up hope, keep moving forward, and go get into some good trouble.
I’ve never seen anyone give a pump-up speech quite like John Lewis. He’d have you smiling at one moment, then crying the next. He’d toss in a goofy line to bring some levity to his otherwise serious remarks, and by the end he’d leave you feeling prepared to run through a wall for the causes you believe in.
His love of the human spirit was unmistakable, and his optimistic outlook for the future was non-negotiable.
As a wet-behind-the-ears postgrad and new to the political arena, I naturally leapt at the chance to shake hands with a titan of the civil rights movement, say thank you, and grab a pic together. Trying to maintain some semblance of professionalism since, I resisted asking for photos after that first introduction, but many fond encounters would ensue.
Without fail, I’d still pinch myself every time this celebrated public servant from the Peach State graced our team with his presence.
Over the past 5 years, Mothership Strategies and the DCCC each blessed me with the opportunity to spend time behind the scenes with someone who I never could have imagined getting closer to than perhaps while completing reading assignments back in high school.
But let me tell you, those textbooks did not do justice to the greatness that was this man — a living legend who seemingly walked the same earth and breathed the same air as the rest of us, yet created progress at a clip that we may never see of its kind again.
When he’d walk into the office, every face in the room would light up. When he’d speak, I swear you could hear a pin drop. He was humble as all get-out. His joy was contagious, his passion inspiring.
He was a deeply good man who was truly in his line of work for all the right reasons. Waking up poised to fight the good fight and help others to the best of his ability became a decades-long daily habit.
To know the congressman was to admire the congressman. He did not demand respect — he commanded it.
We may have lost a light last night, but John Lewis lit a fire in so many young people that his legacy will surely endure forever.
And I for one am feeling fired up and ready to go get into some good trouble in his honor.
Thank you, Congressman Lewis.
REST IN POWER!

In Search Of … The Truth

Ancient Israel

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – I’ve been thinking a lot about that old documentary-style television show, hosted by Leonard “Mr. Spock” Nimoy, called “In Search Of.”

Even at a young age, I was generally intrigued enough to watch most of these syndicated episodes on UHF channels from start to finish.

For those who don’t recall – and it’s OK if you don’t – the episodes would be on topics on if Bigfoot, ghosts, Jack the Ripper or if UFO’s were real, etc.

I have been trying lately, as the world literally crumbles around us, to go on my own “In Search Of” journey.

What am I seeking? Oh, not much. Just the truth.

In Search of One

I don’t know much, but I know enough to know that the truth is generally nothing more than one’s own perceptions formed by their own realities shaped by life experience.

While that works with a lot of interpersonal situations – you know women saying “all men are this” or men saying “all women are that” – we really need to start airing out our other dirty laundry and meeting in the town square to peaceably parse out proven fact from fiction.

We are seeing this in the way a pandemic is being politicized by a so-called president who chides doctors and scoffs at science.

We are seeing it in the way the right’s only argument that they are not inherently racist is that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican (the parties switched places, in terms of being progressive, a long time ago).

But I’m going to look hard to my left, something I’m not always accustomed to doing, and to do some critical thinking and uncomfortable housekeeping about a troubling trend: A new gash in Black-Jewish relations, with – news flash — Louis Farrakhan playing puppeteer.

Farrakan

Let’s take the the DeSean Jackson situation. As both an Eagles’ fan and a cultural Jew (I consider myself a secular humanist, but my DNA makes me a purebred), I was deeply hurt than a player I cheered for all these years would open his quotations book to “Hitler” and “Farrakhan.” It was especially troubling after Jackson was brought back to Philadelphia by a Jewish general manager (Howie Roseman) and drawing a paycheck signed by a Jewish owner (Jeffrey Lurie), even after Jackson likely put himself on the shelf by doing needless backflips after a touchdown early last season.

Jackson apologized for misquoting Hitler, via Farrakhan, about Jews running the world. He basically gave a convoluted explanation that equates to him not knowing any better. He says he was just trying to “uplift his own people,” I guess by saying that, “If Jews can control everything, why can’t we?”

There was also a lot of mumbo jumbo about blacks being the real Hebrews, which is a theory put forth on street corners in places like Newark and Harlem and is gaining traction with those in the black community that have say and sway.

Just like with white disaffected youth and Neo-Nazism, the same is true with this nonsense that belies all archeological digs done in the Middle East in favor of something concocted from a “vision” in the 19th century.

One of the founders of this belief system — Frank Cherry — also thought the earth was square and that Jesus would return in the year 2000,  but Cherry died in 1963 and was not a product of a formal education.

What’s the excuse today for extremists on all sides falling under the spell of beliefs that make wearing tin foil hats as popular as Kangol hats?

If anything, it is an indictment of a public education system that sends people into the world who are open to all kinds of theories – including white and black supremacy – and continue our downward spiral into fantasy-fueled suspicion and hate.

The irony is that, when it comes to quoting Hitler, the more accurate quote – outlined in Mein Kampf and put into action with dire results – was that of the “Big Lie.” It is, to paraphrase, that if you tell a lie – not matter how ridiculous – for a long enough period of time, people will start to believe it.

And people, particularly young black adults spurred to action after the horrific murder of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer who maintained a trance-like stare while Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe, seem to be taking their eye off the ball of seeking justice and blaming it on Jews who can’t handle the “truth” about who are the real Jews.

Jackson, who matriculated at one of the best schools in the country – Cal-Berkeley (below) – should not fall into the category of the easily duped. This is a harsh indictment of that whole system of big-time college sports, which is way more of a swamp loaded with snakes than pro sports can ever dream to be, as this is not the first time Jackson’s off-field choices has made us scratch our heads and it won’t be the last.

Berk

After the Jackson controversy, I did what I like to do, and took it to my version of the town square – Facebook.

There was feverish debate over the First Amendment, where the “truth” won the day; free speech protects citizens from the government but not an employer, which the Eagles are to Jackson.

There was also a lot of compare and contrast about Riley Cooper, the former Eagles’ receiver who was caught on tape saying the “N” word seven years ago. I tried to point out the subtle differences between the two situations – namely that Cooper was on the team for three seasons without incident prior to that regrettable moment and was there for three more after – but I couldn’t shake the general vibe that he was a “scrub” who got the benefit of the doubt because he was white.

There was a narrative that made it sound like her was handed a contract extension immediately after the transgression, like they waited for him outside a Klan rally without a contract in hand, when the reality – the truth — was that it was two uncontroversial seasons later.

Again, the “truth,” is that he was an OK player, as “scrubs” don’t last five minutes – let alone five seasons – in the league. And they don’t get five-year extensions for $25M. Cooper had a career year right after making the remarks while drunk at a concert he attended with several black teammates, and was a core special teams player and one of the best blocking receivers in the league.

Back when journalism was journalism, a Philadelphia reporter went back into Cooper’s past, all the way to childhood, and basically found a typical jock (he was also a baseball star in high school and college) who hung out with other jocks of all races (and probably lorded over non-jocks of all races).

As a skill position player at the University of Florida and with the Eagles, he was closest with the other skill position players, meaning he had plenty of black friends. I can tell you, from my experiences in locker rooms, the “N” word flies around like spitballs when there is a substitute teacher in middle school. Just a guess, but maybe he – in a lathered-up state – felt it OK to do the same.

It wasn’t OK, but it wouldn’t have been OK to cut him from the team when he had a part to play as a role player and when he took all the right steps to apologize.

The forgotten reality is that his black teammates, led by Michael Vick (below, with Cooper), accepted the apology — saying that doing so was one of the proudest moments of his career — and moved on.

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To me, as a cultural Jew, it is not the same as thinking you are quoting Hitler – via Farrakhan – using Jewish tropes and stereotypes. Even with that, Jackson should not have been cut, either.

They agreed to make it a teachable moment and move on, just Cooper’s black teammates did in real time.

I was OK with the Jackson resolution, and so were many other Jewish Eagles fans.

In the town square, though, it was not so simple.

As such, as I battled with mostly black Eagles fans, my consternation worsened.

I encountered – repeatedly – a mindset even more troubling than what Jackson posted and then retracted.

If I didn’t see it once, I saw it 1,000 times: “What does he have to apologize for? He was speaking the truth!”

The truth?

Here we go again.

In search of … the truth.

Making it worse, there were open debates about whether the Holocaust was any more tragic than slavery or what happen to Native Americans.

Some, right of cue, questioned if the Holocaust even happened.

And they were backed by others saying it was the truth that it never happened.

The “truth” can easily become a hand grenade — even on what it is supposed to be page for Eagles’ fans to talk football, which is what most of the white non-Jewish fans were imploring us to do.

Amid a deafening silence, athletes were coming to Jackson’s defense, and none – until 73-year-old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and now Charles Barkley — were admonishing him. It’s a sign of the times.

Some alleged C-list celebrity, Nick Cannon (below), added to the chorus of twisted history that blacks are the true Hebrews, etc.

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It’s out there, spreading through the black community like the way an unattended campfire becomes a forest fire.

Slowly, the righteousness of the Black Lives Matter movement is in danger being perverted and subverted into something else, setting it up to fizzle and fade into something that was “so 2020.”

At its core, “Black Live Matter,” means black lives matter the same, or also. If we get into an environment where it morphs into “Black Lives Matter More,” the ongoing cold Civil War will rage on.

Meanwhile, one of the black community’s most ardent historical supporters – the Jewish community (helped found the NAACP and fought and died in the South during the Civil Rights era) – is taking the hits.

And what I don’t get is why the truth as I know it is so frightening to confront. Black history is one of perseverance and overcoming adversity. It is one of redemption. There is no reason to make up anything when the real story – the true story – is 10,000 times more compelling.

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The Eternal Home Run

Schmidt

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – Home … run!

Michael … Jack … Schmidt!

From the voice of Harry Kalas, the late great Phillies announcer, that was the ultimate sound of summer for me.

More specifically, when it was from grandfather’s transistor radio while sitting on a windswept porch in the Chelsea section of Atlantic City.

My grandfather would watch any sporting even on television – he was able to get Mets and Yankees games on channels 9 and 11 down the shore – but the world revolved around the Phillies.

And when the Phillies were playing at home, at Veterans Stadium, the games were not on TV.

That sent us to the front porch, with bowls of ice cream, and the transistor radio that I can still close my eyes and see now.

Looking back now, it was better that way.

My grandfather was a bit hard of hearing — a trait I inherited (I’m hoping for the internal genes, too, as he made it to nearly 95) — and generally preferred an ear plug (I can still see that, too).

But that would have made it impossible for me to listen as well, so he gladly made that concession to have me at his side.

To this day, I still believe baseball is better followed on the radio. It comes across too slow on television, and has too many staged distractions in person.

True confession: The Phillies are a distant fourth on my priority list now, but that’s not the way it started out.

At least until the Broad Street Bullies made us feel like winners in the middle of the 1970s, the Phillies were No. 1 back when Gordonville was mostly farm land to be tilled.

The thing is, though, they pretty much sucked.

My form of a pennant race was checking the standings each day to make sure we at least had a lead on the last place team in the NL West, which I remember as being the San Diego Padres.

As a matter of fact, I asked my father to get tickets when the Padres came to town, and I was devastated when utility infielder Terry Harmon grounded out with runners on base in a 2-1 loss.

Yeah, sigh, it was that bad.

But it slowly got better, culminating with the 1980 World Series title that remains my baseball pinnacle. No other postseason push, or even the 2008 World Series win, could recapture that magic.

I was grateful to Pete Rose for helping us get over the top, but I was happiest for the players that had been here during the slow and steady ride to the top.

And none more than Mike Schmidt, who is generally regarded as the best third baseman of all time.

However, before 1980, he was pretty much regarded as a great player who chocked in the clutch and who did match his numbers when it mattered.

Even though he led the league in home runs several times in the 1970s, there was a running joke that they all came as solo shots in the the eighth inning when they were either winning or losing 9-1.

After that season, one in which he won both MVP for the season and the World Series, those labels were put to rest.

I had a lot of favorite Phillies growing up.

They tell me it started with Cookie Rojas when I was still in diapers, but I have no real recollection of that alleged fixation that probably had more to do with his first name anyway.

I do recollect a steady roll call of Tony Taylor, Joe Lis, Tim McCarver, Willie Montanez, Larry Bowa and Greg Luzinski.

There was a deep connection with Richie Hebner, who batted fifth and played first base, just like I did in Little League, but he was gone – to make room for Rose – by the time it all fell together in 1980.

When I put in the tape and hit rewind now, it is easy to pick out not only my favorite Phillie of all time, but also one of my all-time favorite athletes, period.

It’s Mike Schmidt.

He puts me back on that porch, with my beloved grandfather and his transistor radio – eating ice cream (before I was lactose intolerant) – and waiting in anticipation for those words from Harry Kalas that would follow the crack of a bat coming through loud and clear amid any static.

Home run!

Michael … Jack … Schmidt!

Lesson Learned While Cutting School

Police patrol, stop sign

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – Senior Cut Day?

It was too good to be true.

Cutting class, and school, was such a perfected specialty of mine that other kids at Northeast High would come to me for advice on how to pull off their own daring escapes, whether they be inside or outside the building (and how and where they could best go undetected – like the underground railroad – once they made it).

I don’t remember the reason why the day existed in late May of 1983. I’m taking an educated guess it was the same day as the Senior Prom, but that fete was only for the 150-200 rich and famous of the 1,000 kids in my class, so it was a free pass for everyone else.

You didn’t need to tell us twice.

A free pass? Took some of the fun out of it, but let’s drive around a crank up the Def Leppard.

Def Leppard

We even convinced a black friend of ours dating back to grade school to also cut and drive around with no particular place to go or be.

Somehow, we ended up outside the mega-sized movie theater (in a senior moment here, I’m blanking on the name) that used to be in the far Northeast – an area that was then a bit more, uh, less colorful – than the lower northeast.

The lines were forming outside for the third of the Star Wars movies – Return of the Jedi, or some such nonsense – well before the first matinee. In those lines, were plenty of minors who should have been in school. Some smaller kids were with adults. The teens, though, were in groups.

It was a school day, and there was a police presence, but the police were clearly looking the other way on truancy.

Except when a patrol car pulled up alongside my beat-up 1974 Chevy Malibu and in the parking lot across the street. I tried to pretend it wasn’t there, but the officer’s glare spoke volumes. Three white kids with one black kid? In that part of the city, at that time of day?

Clearly, if we weren’t already guilty of the crime of the century, we were planning it.

I’m not going to bend the truth and say what came next was a case of brutality, but the following interrogation bordered on harassment. Abuse? No. Abuse of power? Absolutely.

I can’t help but think that the whole thing would have unfolded differently had our black friend, with ID revealing an address in North Philly, had not been in the backseat.

Racial profiling, anyone?

The officer probably suspected he was our dealer when, in reality, he was more “straight” with the use of illegal substances than any of us. He also needed the most convincing about hanging with us that day, and was shaky about going into unfamiliar terrain.

Given all that is coming out in the open about the two Americas and the way they are policed, we were lucky to walk away — in era where the shadow of former police commissioner and mayor Frank Rizzo (below) loomed large — with a stern warning.

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Despite my rather obvious ethnic features (see pic below) that would belie an attempt at saying I went to a school of mostly Irish Catholics, I told the officer I went to Father Judge (I knew from one of my hockey friends who attended the boys-only Catholic school that they were off for some reason).

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One of my friends with a more obvious Jewish last name and a more tame Jewfro than what I had working (see above), confessed that it was Senior Cut Day at Northeast (leaving me to stick to my flimsy Father Judge story all alone). The officer was still dubious about my black friend in the backseat, but when he couldn’t find evidence of wrongdoing or that my car had been stolen, he reluctantly told us to leave and not come back.

Why am I relaying this story, which is rather benign in the light of the George Floyd case that was merely the final straw on the camel’s heavy back? Because I remain convinced, all these years later, that the whole confrontation would not have happened without  a black friend in the car.

And this was 1983.

And on Senior Cut Day, we learned more about the harsh realities of the world than if we had been in school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flag on the Field

KaepReb

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE –  I wouldn’t do that if you paid me a million dollars.

Who among us hasn’t used that saying?

Truth is, there is not much most of us wouldn’t do – short of something hideous and sadistic – for that kind of a payday.

But I can name two acts that my conscience would never allow.

One is to wave the Confederate flag, that of the side of the traitors, either proudly or to make some sort of a pointless point.

The other would be to take a knee during the national anthem — even though I strongly believe Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” has been, and remains, a better long-term fit, but I won’t go there (even though I just did).

The only difference is that I can understand, in the abstract, why the latter act (like the black power fist, sitting in or the flashing the peace sign) – all public displays of a peaceful protest – would spur one with a different life experience than mine to feel compelled.

None of those are hate speech.

The Confederate flag, well, that’s another story.

The two bloodiest wars for Americans, with more than one million casualties (deaths and wounded) each were the Civil War and World War II.

If you don’t believe me, look it up. I’ll wait.

You back? OK.

It goes way beyond that, though.

It was how they died. A lot of the weaponry was no different than what was used in World War I, and a lot of the battles were fought more up close and personal.

Many of the deaths were slow and painful, coming via infection after limbs were sawed off when wounds refused to heal.

Then, there was the psychological toll, one that we are still calculating in fits and starts.

In some cases, the Civil War pitted brother versus brother. In many more, it was cousin versus cousin.

There were – and still are – many ways to understand what the Confederacy was fighting for, as they will tell you it was a way of life that someone else was telling them not to live and for states’ rights.

But let’s not talk falsely now. The hour is getting late (Dylan reference).

The way of life, the states’ rights yarn, was about one thing: Slavery.

And the slaves were black, brought here in steerage from Africa for decades.

The prime source of income for the South (i.e. Confederacy) was cotton, and the slaves bled their figures raw picking cotton for, well, nothing. They were slaves. Their families were separated, sometimes when children were less than five, or they never existed as family units as all.

It would be unfair to say they were second-class citizens, as they weren’t citizens at all.

Up North, even as they also reaped the economic reward of the cotton trade, this whole centuries-old act wore so thin that a brutal and bloody war seemed inevitable.

And so it was.

I’m not sure why, in 2020, there would be any other need to display – out in the open and proudly – the Confederate flag than to pledge allegiance to racism.

I’ve been told it’s more about the right to do it, if they want, but that falls directly under the definition of prattle.

Often waved alongside that of the Swastika flag of World War II enemy Nazi Germany, which makes even less sense (as if that were even possible), we see it.

We often see the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag, which has meant many things to many different people since the 18th century. At present, it seems to be where patriotism flows into jingoism, but not as offensive to all-out flags of hate speech – at least not yet.

It doesn’t need to be.

I was startled – and aghast – in the summer of 2016, when we took a Pennsylvania road trip.

The first stop was Gettysburg, where the seminal battle of the Civil War was fought on July 1-3 in 1863.

There were some Confederate flags there – whether or T-shirts, bumper stickers, paper weights, mugs etc. – for sale (especially on the outskirts of town). I guess that could be expected, while not condoned.

As we drove through the rest of Pennsylvania, though, it got a bit strange. Weaving through some small towns on the way to our other destinations (Johnstown, Pittsburgh, the stupid place where the ground hog comes out once a year, etc.), I continued to see plenty of Confederate flags — from porches, pickup trucks and tattoos.

So many, in fact, that I had to remind a much younger Sofia – and myself – that we were, still above the Mason-Dixon Line.

It was a sign – or flag – of the times.

The times of doom.

A certain entity – an entity I will neither refer to as a “man” or a “person” – was mounting what was a controversially successful bid for The White Horse, and this so-called “human” was running plays out of Hitler’s playbook by throwing chum to a staunch base fed up with a black (biracial, actually) president for two terms.

Following a route that their GPS systems first took them, which was to join Tea Parties, they made another sharp right and let their patriotism crash into a wall of jingoism.

The saying, “Make America Great Again,” was too hard – on either side – to ignore.

Against this backdrop, in the summer of 2016, Colin Kaepernick – then the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers – didn’t stand for the national anthem of a preseason game.

When asked about it, he told reporters it was in protest of how blacks were treated in the United States.

After some backlash about disrespecting veterans, which seemed a bit off-point, he began to kneel instead of sit on the bench and stare into space (poor optics, if nothing else).

Players around the league soon joined, giving the presumptive Republican candidate more red meat.

To this day, while I’m with Kaepernick on both his right to peacefully protest and the basics of his cause of racial injustice, I’m not 100 percent convinced the whole thing wasn’t a tantrum because he was bumped to No. 2 on the depth chart behind a white quarterback.

He didn’t help himself during the whole controversy by wearing socks with cartoon pigs depicted as police officers to practice (more bad optics), and it should be noted that he is biologically biracial and was raised in an upper middle-class adoptive family.

One – either a person of color who has a had it tougher or a white person from the right trying to drive a truck through his argument — could successfully ask: “What does he know about it?”

However, President Obama was also biracial and raised by his white grandparents outside the ghetto walls. That didn’t stop the Confederate flag-waving hate machine – including a birther movement wondering if he was a Muslim and not a Christian – from churning its wheels.

That didn’t stop the current person who calls himself your president (not mine) to exploit it all to his advantage  (including tirades against Kaepernick, who hasn’t played in three years and probably never will again, and other players who exercised their right of free speech and supported him”.

Would I personally kneel? No. Not for a million dollars. But it is interesting to note that those most critical of him – and others that your president (not mine) demanded be “fired” – condone, at least on some level,  are the same who take no issue with displaying the Confederate flag.

That’s different, they say.

It’s free speech.

Standards, anyone?

Once you got two, you got none.

Kind of like flags.

 

 

Casalduni: Small Town, Long Reach

Casalduni2

By GORDON GLANTZ

For Paula Bodden, the American experience couldn’t be more … American.

Her mother, Teresa, cooked an authentic Italian meal for former president George H.W. Bush three times (once as a presidential candidate, twice as vice president), and he returned the favor by inviting mom and dad, Bob, to the White House to a state dinner in honor of the then-president of Italy.

“I was very lucky to have such great parents, and (Bush) and Barbara just fell in love with them,” said Bodden. “My mother grew up poor and on a farm there on Belvoir Road, yet she had no problem talking to the president.”

The friendship began when her dad introduced himself to Bush at a town hall held at the former Valley Forge Music Fair.

“My father was very charismatic, so they became fast friends,” said Bodden.“Many times I would stop by and Bush would call my father to talk about different things. I know it really sounds unbelievable.”

For Bodden, this connection even meant a tour of Air Force Two (vice president’s plane).

Nonetheless, she never forgot where she came from – literally.

She always felt connected to her roots and, in an era of DNA kits and the Internet, she was able to scratch that itch. Her journey became a quest, and that quest lead to what seemed like the ideal place.

On Facebook was a page dedicated to Casalduni (“My Casalduni Roots”) – in honor of those around the globe connected to the small municipality of around 1,500 in Italy, northeast of Naples, from which many made the Blackhorse (or Black Horse, depending on your preference) – a part of Plymouth Township bordering Norristown – their home for generations.

One-stop shopping? It was too good to be true.

But, when Bodden requested entry, she was greeted by the page administrator like a security guard for the National Mint.

“She wouldn’t let me in until I could prove who I was,” said Bodden, now chuckling at the initial layer of security.

It was, in the alternate Facebook universe, a private group.

After Bodden satisfied the requirements of the page administrator – Anna Frangiosa, who was born in Casalduni but has lived in Brisbane, Australia since the age of 3 – Bodden found herself in a Land of Oz.

As the two forged a bond, speaking regularly over the Internet, Bodden’s figurative family tree – with three of four grandparents tracing their roots there – naturally blossomed.

“She could tell me so many things about my family,” said Bodden of Frangiosa. “It was like having her tell me my fortune. Here she was, living half a world away, and she put me in touch with my roots.”

“And the more you know, the more you want to know.”

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The Name Game

If the name Frangiosa rings a bell, it is not an accident.

It is one of several last names – i.e. Corbo/Carbo, Sylvester/Sylvestre, Salamone/Salomone, Borzillo, Romano, Mancini, Longo – that originated in Casalduni and became rooted in Blackhorse before eventually expanding throughout the entire Greater Norristown area.

Bodden’s maiden name was another common one, DeAngelis (sometimes D’Angelis).

“I was always interested in my roots,” she said. “It might have been because my grandparents lived with us. They were amazing.”

“This makes me regret not asking my family members for more stories. You can’t get that opportunity back.”

Bodden’s great-great grandmother had 13 children – leading to, literally, hundreds of descendants “all over the world,” which made the connections made by Frangiosa easy pickings.

It’s what she does.

“This whole exercise and the DNA testing that has come with it has put so many of 4-6th cousins in touch with one another and it has been an absolute pleasure to find so many people with an ancestor from Casalduni, such a small town that only survives on tourism from people like us that want to retrace their roots,” said Frangiosa, whose father migrated from Casalduni to Australia in 1953, after which she followed with her mother.

“Having fully assimilated into the Australian way of life, I was concerned that my heritage would be forever lost so, while I still had my parents and grandparents, I wanted to document the relatives of my parents and grandparents and as I was told so many inter-married I started documenting the “paesani” of my parents, knowing for sure that they would be connected to the family somehow.”

Frangiosa added that the “initial reason for starting my research” was to find a cousin who had been fostered out in Switzerland as a child of an unwed mother. By establishing a database of over 23,000 names, all in some way connected to people with their ancestry in Casalduni, it allowed her to help others find their roots.

“It was a manual painstaking journey but has been made so much easier by the digitalized records currently available,” said Frangiosa, who refers to Blackhorse/Black Horse as “Norristown” because of the former mailing address (it’s now Plymouth Meeting).

Added Bodden: “People are willing to cross the country to meet other people. It’s bringing people together and we want to meet each other. There are hundreds of us, all over the world.”

Bodden’s great-great grandmother’s brood led her to the movie theater, watching the credits roll with pride.

“One (relative) is a man from Los Angeles named Don Sylvester,” she said. “He just won the Oscar for sound editing for that movie ‘Ford Vs. Ferrari.’”

Plans On Hold

Due to the town’s population and the diligent work of its mayor, Pasquale Iacovella, Casalduni has avoided the direct impact of the Covid-19 outbreak that has ravaged Italy – especially to the northern part of the country.

Still, it has indefinitely derailed Bodden’s plans to travel there in October with her husband, Bob, and her cousin, Jim Romano, and his wife, Angela.

When she does go – and she vows she will – Bodden will come bearing gifts.

“Yes, my grandfather came to Plymouth Township in 1905 with his family when he was nine,” said Bodden. “He traveled back there in 1937. I have a lot of pictures and postcards from that time, and even earlier.

“There is a young guy there who has started a museum and wants to preserve the history of the town, so he welcomes anything from the past.”

History of Migration

When the Boddens and the Romanos eventually get there, there will not exactly encounter a thriving metropolis waiting.

Casalduni was once a bigger town but, due to earthquakes and landslides, the nearby town of Ponte – with a railway station — became more prominent.

Said Frangiosa: “There was no manufacturing or scope for advancement or employment opportunities in the mainly farming community so many of the male contingents, at least my ancestors, left either for other parts of Europe or farther afield for Argentina, USA or Australia.”

She explained that the lure of the United States were the reports for employment opportunities, which remained until there was an embargo in the early 1950’s, which is why her family went to Australia.

“My father tells of reports from the returned interned servicemen who recounted stories of ‘streets paved with gold’ and ‘money growing on trees’ but not sure where that came from,” said Frangiosa. “Most of my ancestors were not afraid of hard work because of their farming backgrounds and would do just about any work for their family’s betterment.”

Frangiosa, herself, has a strong connection to the Blackhorse area, as four from her grandmother’s family went there.

“As my husband and I are second cousins, my grandmother and my husband’s grandfather were brother and sister and that is where the Frangiosa connection came to be in Norristown,” she explained.

She added that favorable reports were recounted to the family by her grand uncle, Nicola Antonio Frangiosa (1862-1946) when he went back to his home country for a holiday.

“The family still remembers the gifts he brought with him,” said Frangiosa, added that his wife was Luigia Frangiosa (1907-1986), a Frangiosa by birth and by marriage and from the same home town of Casalduni. Her father was Lorenzo Frangiosa.

“Again by tracing her lineage I found she was related to my Mother’s father’s side of the family,” she said.  “My grandfather, Francesco Salomone (1892-1986) also went to USA to work in the quarry between the years 1906-1911.  With all the marriages within Casalduni and surrounding communes, the same names keep on recurring.”

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Plans to Return

Frangiosa spends time caring for her 95-year-old father, limiting her travel opportunities, even before the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, I have only been to Norristown once to connect with the family of my grandmother and my husband’s grandfather, but was made aware of many people whose roots originated in Casalduni,” she said. “I would love to revisit and intend to but am currently caring for my dad. … He is my source.”

Frangiosa added that, once she achieved what she required from her and her husband’s direct family lineage, she started concentrating on the families of our grandparents and great grandparents’ siblings and that is where she uncovered so many descendants of deceased relatives that went to Norristown.

“The names were all so repetitive, but having connected with people that match our DNA, it did not prove too tedious to match their data to mine and hence make a family connection,” she said. “It has helped that I come from a very close-knit family who kept in touch with cousins all over the world and that I knew all our 18 grandaunts and uncles and my father, who is 95, is alive and still lucid enough to feed my insatiable desire.”

Frangiosa recount a success story that she called her “greatest joy,” which was bringing closure for an American woman who matched DNA — and through mutual research and her hiring a private researcher — she was able to unravel out who her biological father was and, as a result, connect her with more family.

“It was so coincidental that I had actually met her father when he travelled from Norristown to meet the Australian branch of the family,” said Frangiosa. “It was very gratifying to be able to convey information and photos about a father she never knew.  He also never knew he had a daughter and went to his grave without ever knowing.

“As you can probably tell, I love Australia but am passionate about my birthplace and love my connections to kinfolk all over the globe. The internet has been a blessing and has helped connect Brisbane to Norristown to Casalduni.”

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Mock Draft 4.0: House Money

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By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — I’m baaaaaack!

Consider yourself lucky that you don’t have to endure me on Zoom while I do twice as many Mock Drafts leading up to Thursday’s first of three days of drafting that we in Eagle Nation can only hope don’t turn into a mockery of a sham.

Before we begin, let’s review the first three:

Mock 1.0) – There was a drill in proving that the Birds could go receiver-heavy, as I took four. I know they won’t take four, but it was fun to speculate.

Mock 2.0) – I was like a Jewish person eating pork on this one, as I did something that is against my Draftnik religion. I factored in some trade scenarios. It’s not like there won’t be trades. I suspect there will be, but it’s so impossible to say with which team and what will be the return. As such, I never bothered. This year, while sheltered in place, I bothered.

Mock 3.0) – Otherwise termed a “joke” by one of the mental midgets on an Eagles Facebook page, the small print clearly stated that it was a new exercise in taking the wind of the sails of we in Eagleville by showing not what I would do or what Joe Blow would do, but would be oh so Eagles to do (i.e. wait until Day 3 to address the receiver need while addressing the trenches).

Since I plan to reveal my serious Mock within 24-36 hours of the actual draft, why not try to sneak in a bonus.

The goal here will be simple. While not going the trade route, I will be staying put and drafting players I have not already tabbed in the three previous Mocks – all while addressing the same obvious needs.

Let’s call this the “Look, Ma, No Hands” Mock.

Ready? Let’s Mock (How did I need think of that before?):

Round 1 (Pick 21): Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor, 6-3, 215

Rationale: I honestly don’t see the Eagles staying at No. 21, especially now that LSU receiver Justin Jefferson is not expected to make it past No. 18. They could move up to get Jefferson or Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, but it’s more likely they move down to pick up extra picks and still grab a receiver. It could be Miami at No. 26, Green Bay at No. 30, Kansas City at No. 32 or Cincinnati at No. 33 (first pick of Round 2) – or some other team altogether that is desperate to jump in front a division rival. If and when that happens, there will still be plenty of receivers – including the athletic but somewhat unrefined Mims (pictured below) – on the board. They just can’t afford to fixate on any one player. Mims, Colorado’s Laviska Shenault, Arizona State’s Brandon Ayiuk, TCU’s Jalen Reagor and Penn State’s K.J. Hamler all have strengths and weaknesses but something special to offer to a team with a receiving corps that will look vastly different beyond 2020. There has been some talk of going in another direction in Round 1 and then addressing receiver. That could always happen – what the Eagles do is out of our control, and what other teams do is out of their control – but getting one secured early allows for other needs to be addressed.

Denzel-Mims

Round 2 (Pick 53): Prince Tega Wanagho, OT, Auburn, 6-5, 305

Rationale: This seems like a luxury pick, but only on the surface. While a three-year starter at left tackle, this man-child has also played the right side. That makes Tega Wanagho (pictured below) the ideal candidate to be molded into a third tackle by offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland without having to bring back Jason Peters at three times the salary. Ironically, the general consensus is that his pro comparison, if one believes in such things, is the future Hall of Famer, Peters, himself. Why not take a clone? If not for a deep class at tackle, he’d likely be gone early as the late first round in other years.

Prince Tega

Round 3 (Pick 103): Nick Harris, C, Washington, 6-1, 302

Rationale: The fan base will go apoplectic with the choice of yet another lineman, but my projection is that runs at other positions will push this ideal fit to eventual replace Jason Kelce into the Eagles’ laps. Harris (pictured below) is not a power blocker, but the two-time All-Pac 12 selection is known for getting to the second level, much like Kelce. Additionally, he brings some experience at guard, giving him value as a non-starter.

Nick Harris

Round 4 (Pick 127): Kenny Willekes, DE, Michigan State, 6-3, 260

Rationale: As soon as I saw his last name, I knew he was destined for Philly, as it will be spelled wrong more than it is spelled right. That’s the bad news. The good news is that this overachiever is likely to make enough of an impact, even if it is only a role player making the most of his situational snaps on passing downs. Willekes (pictured below) won the Burlsworth Trophy, which is awarded to the college player who began his career as a walk-on. He finished his career with 51 tackles for a loss and 26 sacks.  As expected from the fact that he was a walk-on, Willekes is technically sound and works hard but will need to add strength and some moves to his arsenal.

Willekes

Round 4 (Pick 145): Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt, 5-10, 215

Rationale: Vaughn (pictured below) is an interesting story. After running for a little over 1,000 yards combined in two years at Illinois, he transferred to Vanderbilt and ran for over 2,000 yards the last two years (although he fell a bit short of a grand last year as a sole running option on a three-win team in a tough conference). He brings to the table some traits that NFL scouts value – compact frame with good vision and burst, natural hands, plus the ability to make tacklers miss in tight spaces. Guys who can do that find places in running back stables around the league, even though his collegiate travels have him entering the circuit at age 23.

Vaughn

Round 4 (Pick 146): David Woodward, MLB, Utah State, 6-0, 235       

Rationale: Another Mock, another inside linebacker. This time, I’m going with the guy who might be so underrated that he may end up being overrated and going higher than this point. Woodward (pictured below) fell off the radar a bit because he missed five games last season due to injury. Coming from the same program that produced Bobby Wagner and others at the position, Woodward is lauded for his natural instincts, which allow him to play the position with the patience needed to not look foolish in the NFL. While he will need to show he is healthy and can play at full speed, expect a rookie to bolster special teams put of the gate.

Woodward

Round 5 (Pick 170): Cole McDonald, QB, Hawaii, 6-3, 190

Rationale: Another Mock, another developmental quarterback. But, wait, hold up a second. I kind of like this one, and might just return to it in the final version. McDonald (pictured below) took advantage of running a passer-friendly attack the last two years, accounting for around 8,000 yards and 69 passing touchdowns. He is also a running threat (11 rushing touchdowns). While it’s easy to put up numbers for the Rainbow Warriors, the tape shows applicable skills for the next level – accuracy on throws outside the numbers, decisiveness, mobility and noble willingness to stand in and take a hit. Why, then, is he projected as a Day 3 pick? At 190 pounds, there is a legitimate fear about his health and well-being. He has also rarely played under center and doesn’t really have a rifle for an arm. Then again, he is favorably compared to Gardner Minshew, the same Gardner Minshew who displaced the beloved Nick Foles as a rookie last year in Jacksonville. Don’t get excited out there. He wouldn’t be supplanting Carson Wentz, but maybe – just maybe – he could be an OK No. 2 after Nate Sudfeld pushes on in 2021.

Cole McDonald

Round 6 (Pick 190): Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota, 6-2, 205

Rationale: This isn’t the sexiest pick, but this highly productive receiver will find a place in the league somewhere. Why not let it be here? Johnson (pictured below) hauled in 199 passes for 3,164 yards and 32 touchdowns in the last three years. What is he still doing here this late in the draft? For one, he is not a sexy pick. It is almost as if he peaked and, with limited tools, reached his ceiling already. Plus, his 40 time is slightly north of 4.5. A little bigger and a little faster, and he’d like go late in Day 2 instead. Just keep in mind that an annual rite of passage are receivers everyone fawns all over who don’t make it while guys like Johnson do. Not saying it will be him who defies the odds this year, but the risk-reward in Round 6 is worth it.

T Johnson

Summary:  I was just having fun here and throwing caution to the wind without overthinking it. You know what? I kind of like what I did here. I would be fine with this haul when the dust settles. Yay, me!

Super Bowl 39