SETTLING BACK – IT WAS A GREAT RIDE

EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 1, 1998– 2008 SETTLING BACK, IT WAS A GREAT RIDE, Part 1

HE WROTE IT, THEY DID IT, HE SAVED IT; TRANSFORMING AMERICA!!

“JOE SEFEKAR’S INSPIRING STORY OF AN IMMIGRANT’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE HEALTH, WELFARE AND ARTS OF UNITED STATES.”

1999

Editor,

St. Pete Times

The constant barrage of TV Re: candidates, what they did, what they’re doing and what are they going to do. I can not help my peer’s vis-à-vis the 13 constitutional amendments but maybe I can put in perspective the options available to them on other issues.

First, go out to vote! I noticed that there are a lot of candidates in contention, but somehow I’m missing the party affiliation. Possibly the individuals who are running, would rather not list their sponsor(s).

Use your belly instincts or your gut feeling in making your selection:

  • Are you looking for a hard-core partisan or a demo – Lib?
  • Do you care if your candidate has out-of-state contributions example: $1,319,581 or a paltry $171,805?
  • Do you want a man who will steer the legislature towards protecting our environment or would you want someone who will encourage developers and urban sprawl?
  • Are you for someone who believes in fairness instead of bias; progress instead of stalemate; inclusion instead of diverse of notes; sacrifice instead of selfishness; hope instead of fear?
  • Can you count on your candidate to espouse a logical plan to mold a successful education program? Will he expand construction, assign competent teachers, and improve instructional methods, rather than implement a voucher program that will siphon off needed funds which can be better used for solving known problems in the Education System.
  • Do you want someone to protect Social Security and veto legislation that would privatize social security and permit the investment of social security funds in a volatile stock market that can crash the year that you retire?
  • Elected governor that will support the successful completion of the case against big tobacco, rather than voting for a candidate that has ulterior motives for delaying final action for political use in advancing his agenda.

2005

We were married 63 years – we don’t give up.

First you need a marriage made in heaven and then you live it.

We don’t give up on each other, we don’t create a situation of choices where one or the other has to consciously concede. The day we were married we made plans to honeymoon in Florida. I had seen a vacation display in a travel agency store front window $39.95 round-trip fare to Miami Florida on the Champion including 10 day hotel, lodgings.

My older sister Lucy claimed she had a due bills that could be used as a coupon at the Hotel McAlpin in Florida, at a cost of two dollars a night for 10 days that cost was $20.

She said we could buy the round-trip tickets directly from the Pennsylvania Railroad at a cost of $24 each I total would be train and hotel for the then magnificent amount of $68 versus $ 159.90.

That was a “great deal,” except it was the day before the wedding, and I hadn’t told my wife to be. On top of that, we had canceled the train reservation and were faced with securing new tickets. The hurdle that was there was no tickets available. When I told my wife she had said it was a crazy idea and this was the day before the wedding. But she was wise from day one – it wasn’t me, it was my sister who did it.

The day of the ceremony we still didn’t have the train tickets – I reviewed the situation in my mind. Since we had canceled the day before it was possible the reservation I turned in it would show up as “open”. Well, luckily for us that is what did happen when we came up with the trainmaster. One more hurdle – my wife had expressed a preference for the hotel New Yorker. I had canceled our reservation when I realized the Champion left from the Hotel Pennsylvania. And she didn’t know I had changed our honeymoon hotel from the New Yorker to the hotel Pennsylvania. This meant changing from the Hotel Pennsylvania to the Hotel New Yorker.

REFLECTING ON OUR LOVE TOGETHER

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Figure #13.1 A Poem, A Reflection

It was during this time in 1993 that I did something that I thoroughly enjoy; working within the confines of the education system. As a volunteer at the East Lake High School just up the road apiece from our house, I was very much at home helping at the school. It also got me involved with a project that was also very much to my liking. It would be working on a new library for our area. Being that I spent a good deal of my youth at the New York Public Library and always surrounding myself in a learning environment, the opportunity presented itself to lend a hand on getting the proper facility in place that would serve this growing community. There were a few bumps in the road; one, we were ousted from our rent free one-room storefront as a paying tenant moved in. And although we did manage to find another storefront in the nearby shopping center it was totally inadequate for our needs. It became evident that county and state monies would be needed to obtain the right combination of location and an adequate facility to house the new library. In working with the group I offered and utilized some of my past experience in whatever assistance to get to hasten the construction and opening of the library. The articles and pictures below depict progress being made on this new addition as the East Lake Community Library. The Grand Opening of the library incurred on October 30, 1999. In the picture below of the article, “East Lake gets ‘little Jewel’ of the library,” shows the entrance to the library being completed and included a brick façade displaying individuals that help make this library possible. Naturally Thelma and I were very pleased and honored to have our names added with the other sponsors.

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Figures #13.2 and #13.3 Articles about the Opening of the East Lake Community Library October 30, 1999

Most people like to contribute and I definitely concur with the adage, “what goes around comes around” and throughout my life I’ve been most fortunate that I’ll come in contact with people who I think I treated them as equal or not over stepped my boundaries but I went out my way to help others and treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. A case in point happen to be in 1998. Thelma and I, her sister Renee and her family as she and her kids husband regularly attended services. My son was also there with us and we would to go to Friday night Shabbat service. Afterwards at this particular service there was the potential new members that attended and were invited to find out more about the Congregation, prayer services, community activities and other incidentals such as religious schools and daycare, etc. There was a gentleman at the table partaking of refreshments who seemed to be a little unfamiliar with the surroundings. So I went over to introduce myself and see if I could be of any help. I remember his name being Bob Mintz and his wife was Carolyn. He seemed like a very positive person with the temperament that would make for a good congregant. I explained how our family was very much a part of Temple B’nai Israel and shared that and told him about why this congregation was special and we chatted for a while and he seemed sincerely interested and I was glad that I had the opportunity make them feel comfortable here at the Temple.

I said you never know what a small feel-good gesture could result in. While this little act making someone feel comfortable came back tenfold so to speak. As it turned out Mr. Mintz and his wife Carolyn and their family joined the Temple. But he didn’t just join the Temple but got involved in the Temple and indeed involved and involved so much so that he served two terms as president which meant that he was involved with the activities prior to that and subsequently continued in many functions after finishing his terms of office as newsletter editor and the Internet and activities that have made a difference not only in the Temple but to the entire community which is a major objective for our Temple. So this is just another example of trying to do the right thing and it usually comes back many times over.

I did manage to keep abreast of the Social Security debates and felt that Seniors would be disenfranchised if there would be wholesale stock trading by people betting, gambling or whatever they are calling it and made my voice heard. Please don’t tinker with senior’s right to a safe and secure retirement.

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Figure #13.4 Response from Congr. Michael Bilirakis on concerns for changes to Social Security, Figure #13.5 Article from Charlie Reese, and Figure #13.6 Article from Frank Kaiser “Don’t gamble and roll the dice with our Social Security.”

In the last posting I shared with you part of the interview with my Cousin Haim Matalon who came to visit us in Florida from his home in Tel Aviv, Israel. It was during the Gulf War, when Israel was pitted against an array of Middle East nations. Haim and his wife, Yona fled the Scud missiles from the war in the Middle East, and sought refuge with my wife and I. They left their family in Tel Aviv – 3 daughters, and their husbands and 9 grand children. The final part of the story will appear in the book.

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Figures #13.7, #13.8, #13.9, #13.10, #13.11 2nd part excerpts from interview with my cousin Haim visiting from Israel during 1st Gulf War.

Figure #13.12 Picture of Thelma and me with Haim and his wife Yona at a family gathering in Toronto, Canada

Vignette on Patriotism

Patriotism is basic, but its reach is undefinable, its touch is symbolic and its meaning depends on personal conditions and extraneous situations. It’s strange that this subject is treated weakly in the weekend section of the Wall Street Journal “the new patriotism” June 28, 1998. At this time I’m in the midst of a self-styled bio of 82 years although the bio is in the embryo embryonic stage, there creeps through the hint of a certain kind of patriotism – proudly felt but seldom expressed. I have never been called upon to verbally express my relationship to my country. Looking backward I never committed myself to patriotism – it was imbued in me, and essentially by all of us. It was like taking a conscious turn after the depression, induction into the service just like with all the other people had to do and that’s how the service and my thoughts became to develop into a patriotic bond. You have to be lucky, if you’re not lucky, then you have to be able to rationalize everything that happens to you as normal and unavoidable and make it acceptable. And think positive.

And having a family that I cherish helps keep this feeling of loving our country burn even brighter when I think of what it has offered me. As I have stated numerous times, it is not something easily returned. You live it everyday, and the debt doesn’t go away. I see it in my wife’s loving eyes, my devoted children and now the “next generation” – my adoring grand-daughters who are coming into a life of their own. They are going forth in this great “Land of Opportunity” that I once was able to do and have every chance of success. My oldest granddaughter, Diana happened to be selected to become a Page at the State Capital in Annapolis, Maryland. It just would happen during the orientation of the group the Governor at that time, Paris Glendening welcomed them. Coincidentally enough that in their being introduced Diana asked the Governor if he remembered her uncle, Bill Sefekar, he was Bill’s graduate advisor when Gov. Glendening was at the University of Maryland’s Graduate School for Government and Politics. It didn’t hurt that he also managed to do some campaign work in his free time, helping in the governor’s early campaigns for office. It was a nice kind of segue way when the governor acknowledged remembering her uncle and asked about what he has been doing. My granddaughter replied, he was a Senior Transportation Planner for Hillsborough County Government in Tampa, Florida.

My other granddaughter Beth has fared equally as well. She graduated from Sherwood High School, the same one that Diana graduated from 5 years earlier. The Commencement Exercise was also held at Constitution Hall in Washington DC.  There was a special sense of pride when as class president Beth was asked to give the Commencement Talk to the filled Hall that included many noted individuals including Tony Bennett, whose granddaughter was in the graduating class. She impressed not only her family but the entire Constitution Hall with her words: “Reflections on the Future by Beth Landau.” The opening of her speech refers to the lyrics of a popular song at the time, “I Hope You Dance,” by Lee Ann Womack. It’s a beautiful talk and gave us such a special feeling that Thelma and I produced such commendable children and their offspring. It gives me great pleasure to share this with you. Maybe the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree after all.

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Figure #13.13 Our Granddaughter, Beth’s High School Graduation Commencement Address at Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.

These are certainly words befitting any one, young and old alike.

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Figure #13.14 Crossword puzzle from August 1, 1998, Figure #13.15 The significance of this particular one

The next three commentaries put into perspective some of my dalliances with growing older. Sometimes making light of things, smooths over the rough edges, as I like to say. In the article by Jay Horning; “A life that’s more tasted than wasted,” he talks about the things he would’ve liked to have done, Like never having had a ride on a motorcycle, flown on the Concorde, etc. and then compiled the list of the things that he did do; the experiences that he had had. I am in that frame of mind, there are many wonderful, challenging, memorable things that are part of my spirit and soul. And what makes it more remarkable was that my life’s partner, Thelma was there with me at my side every step of the way. So there’s not much of a bucket list so to speak that I would change much, but share with you all – That life is too short and too sweet not to give it the “Best ride possible.”

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Figure #13.16 Thoughts on turning 80, Figure #13.17 on “A Life that’s more tasted than wasted

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Figure #13.18 “What is a Senior Citizen”

Thelma and I still made every effort to keep busy and enjoy our fruitful years doing what we wanted. Takes the edge off of people asking you: “Why are you doing this, what made you do that for and shouldn’t you be doing something else.” Well we fooled them. We go to baseball games, we go on trips, Thelma plays mahjong, girl things and I keep busy keeping track of the market and imbuing my thoughts to my grandchildren, nieces and nephews. They also know they can expect a “new word of the day,” and that if they don’t know it, they will have to find out or pay the piper.

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Figure #13.19 Taking in a Tampa Bay Rays ball game at Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL 1999 with Thelma, Bonnie and Billy

This concludes Part 1 of Chapter 13 Settling Back: It was a Great Ride!!

Next weeks Blog posting will be one of the last one’s with an Epilogue to follow as we prepare for publication of the book.

 

Copyright © 2016      William Sefekar

** Material will appear in book.

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