Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Seven Wonders of the World

The new Seven Wonders of the World was announced on 07/07/07 in Lisbon, Portugal. These modern marvels replaced the ancient septet via an internet poll managed by a filmmaker.

The Bangkok Post later listed the modern Ancient Wonders.

Millions of people were the jury as opposed to Philon of Byzantium choosing the first seven. One man with one vote picked what existed in his world ie the Mare Nostrum or Mediterranean Sea.

Only the Pyramid remained out of the original Magnificent Seven. The rest have vanished from the face of the Earth.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria in Egypt had been built to guide ships through the labyrinth of sandbars that created havoc for merchants attempting to reach the port of Alexandria in Egypt. The Lighthouse, or Pharos of Alexandria, was the only ancient wonder to have served a practical purpose. Built between 299 and 79 BC, the lighthouse stood some 166 metres above the city's western harbour and was financed by the Greek merchant Sostratus who wanted to help ensure the safety of shipping traffic. Polished bronze mirrors were specially devised to reflect sunlight out to sea during daytime, and fires were lit to serve as a beacon for lost ships at night. The tower stood relatively intact until a series of earthquakes and gradual deterioration from natural elements caused the structure to collapse and eventually be dismantled for its stones.

The Temple of Artemis stood as the most magnificent accomplishment of Greek civilisation and Hellenistic culture, built as a tribute to Artemis - the Greek goddess of the hunt, mistress of Nature, protector of wild beasts and the sister of Apollo. The Temple of Artemis was located in Ephesus, the richest seaport in Asia Minor. It once consisted of 127 marble columns each standing 20 metres tall. First built in the 6th century BC, the temple was destroyed by fire 200 years later and then rebuilt under the supervision of Alexander the Great.

The great temple was eventually destroyed successively by invading Gothic hordes, earthquakes, and plunderers. Today, only a solitary column remains of this once-glorious structure.

The Statue of Zeus was commissioned in 438 BC by the Council of Olympia in reverence for Zeus, the ruler and most powerful of the Olympian gods. The great statue was the work of the Athenian sculptor Phidias and was constructed inside the Parthenon, the great temple overlooking the city. According to Phelon of Byzantium, this was the most inspiring of all the seven wonders of the ancient world. The statue of Zeus was later destroyed along with its temple after an earthquake in 170 BC.

The Colossus of Rhodes stood 32 metres high on a marble plinth built to revere the Sun God Helios who supposedly helped Rhodes to ward off Demetrius of Macedonia. Constructed by the engineer Chares of Lindos, the Colossus of Rhodes was completed after 10 years of meticulous work so that the legs would sustain the enormous weight of the giant statue's balls. Unfortunately, in 227 BC, an earthquake caused the Colossus to crack at the knee and set it in motion so that it collapsed into pieces.

Even so, the statue was so admired that it was left lying in huge fragments for over 900 years until its valuable parts were brought to Syria.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon had been built in 7th century BC in the middle of the arid Mesopotamian desert, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were testimony to one man's ability to, against all the laws of nature, create a botanical oasis of beauty amid a bleak desert landscape. King Nebuchadnezzar created the gardens as a sign of esteem for his wife Semiramis, who, legend has it, longed for the forests and roses of her homeland. The gardens were terraced and surrounded by the city walls with a moat to repel invading armies. There remains doubt, however, amongst historians and archaeologists as to whether this lost paradise ever existed, given that excavations at Babylon have left no definitive trace of this mythical oasis.

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was dedicated to King Mausolus of Caria by his grieving wife, Queen Artemisia, as a memorial to their great love. According to Plinius the Mausoleum once stood 50 metres high and was surrounded by 36 columns, standing atop a marble pedestal at the intersection of the two main streets of Halicarnassus.

The Mausoleum stood relatively intact until 1522 AD, when it was ordered destroyed as an example of pagan art. Just another reason why I hate the Church.

The Pyramids of Egypt are only surviving wonder of the ancient world, the pyramids at Giza, were the phenomenal achievement of Egyptian construction and engineering. Built between 2600 and 2500 BC, the three pyramids at Giza encompass more than 5 million limestone blocks which were painstakingly transported via timber sleds and by being rolled over the top of logs.

As cranes were as yet unheard of, each block had to be dragged via ramps up to its designated place. According to Herodot, the largest of the three pyramids, known as the Great Pyramid, about 146 metres high took 20 years to complete and served as the tomb for the Egyptian Pharoah Khufu. The pyramids represented the link between heaven and earth and were a signal to Horus, God of the World.

sic gloria mundi transit or all glory flees this world.

ps All that Bible crap about the Jews being slaves was bullshit.

As for the modern wonders, I voted for the Alhambra, Stonehenge, Timbuktoo, Chichen Itza, Taj Mahal, Sophia Hagia, and the Easter Island Statues, the last because my late Cousin, David Barry and I called ourselves the Easter Island Head people.

We never decided who had the bigger head.

Him or me.

Unfortunately there were no write-in spaces for Sophie's Phnom Penh.

It was a wonder of wickedness.

And home for the wicked.

Shit My Dad Said

A twenty-seven year-old was living with his old man.

73 if not more.

His son recorded his father's salty sayings for fucking Facebook.

His adages deserved a better forum.

Old man - "If at first you don't succeed, quit. Because you probably suck."

"Universe is 14 Billion years old. Seems silly to celebrate one year. Be like having a fucking parade every time I take a piss."

"I just want silence. Jesus, it doesn't mean I don't like you. It just means right now, I like silence more."

"Son, people will always try and fuck you. Don't waste your life planning for a fucking, just be alert when your pants are down."

Smart old man, eh?

Sleeping Tiger

British actress Patricia Laffan starred as Nero's wife Poppaea.

The director required her to sit with a leopard during a lavish dinner sequence.

Big cats are notorious fickle with their favor, but she shows no sign of fear.

Neither did I at Nong Nooch Gardens with a junkie tiger.

He didn't even bother to snarl and laid his massive head on my lap to nod out in peace.

Good tiger.

They are really quite sweet on a full stomach.

Unlike Patricia Laffen in 1954's DEVIL GIRL FROM MARS, where she plays a latex dominatrix without mercy.

I like hanging with the Noog Nooch Tiger better.

Do You Like Gladiator Movies?

The movie GLADIATOR was released in 2000. My friends and I gay maitre de greeted us and and asked where we had been.


Joe made a face and hissed, "I saw it. I didn't like it."

"Why not" asked my ex-lover Ms. Carolina. She loved Russell Crowe.

"Because there were no queers."

"You mean like Tony Curtis and Laurence Olivier in SPARTACUS?"


"Jude Law was a little swishy in the movie."

"Not enough to notice."

"You mean like Steve Reeves."

"Exactly." Joe nearly swooned with delight. "He was who the strange men meant when they asked me if I liked gladiator movies."

"Someone actually asked you that?"

"More than once and the answer was always yes."

Joe attended to a group of bankers at the entrance and Ms. Carolina whispered, "Now I understand what Peter Graves meant in AIRPLANE."

"No one ever asked me that?"

"I guess you weren't as luck as Joe."

Not many gladiator movies were made after 2000.

Certainly nothing like BEN HUR.

The other evening I was bored and watched QUO VADIS or where are you going in Latin.

The movie featured Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr, Peter Ustinov and a cast of thousands.

The producer Sam Zimbalist chose art director Edward C. Carfagno to recreate Rome and all its glory and this film swished like silk curtains in the wind.

Peter Ustinov camped out Nero as a mad violet poet with ringlets.

The writer, actor, diplomat, and family man ( he had four kids ) allowed none of his scenes in QUO VADI to pass with flaming high and bright.

His wife resembled a drag queen.

They both dressed like they were going to the Gay Pride March.

Ustinov was a genius, because Rome was actually very puritan.

Nero's friends fell under his thrall.

Noble Romans were straight, but with a taste for brutality.

Christians were infecting the empire.

Peter looked like the Old Testament God.

The Romans knew where to put troublemakers.

The Colosseum.

Man versus beast.

Thumbs down.

Do I like gladiator movies?


I prefer to spare life.

It is not a sign of weakness.

Eating On The Run

No animal eat on the run.

Not lions, tigers, or bears.

Cows, sheep, and goats meandered as they grazed, but only humans walk and eat at the same time and most of those achieving this dubious goal are Americans.

Every day I see people on the go holding hands with a cup of coffee or else stuffing their faces with a bagel. I was probably guilty of the same sin in inetiquette prior, but have cut down the occasions to the rare scarfing down a slice of pizza, when I have to be someplace.

Even I'm not perfect.

We are what we eat and even more so how we eat.

Fast food makes for fast eating and fast eating makes for fat people.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A MAN OF SPEED by Peter Nolan Smith

Father’s Day has complemented Mother’s Day since 1910, although the holiday remained unofficial for decades and most Americans treated Father’s Day as a joke, until LBJ proclaimed the Third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Richard Nixon made it permanent six years later.

“The only thing I get for Father’s Day are bills,” my father said at a dinner on that day in 1971.

He was right, even though I recall giving my father a tie on several Father’s Day.

After I passed the legal age for drinking, he received a bottle of wine, which we drank together with my mother.

He was lucky, because most fathers get nothing for Father’s Day.

1 in 6 according to one survey.

Of course some fathers were total bastards and none of their kids celebrated Bastard Day.

My father was a good man. He raised six kids the best he knew how and I loved him for his many sacrifices to better my life.

Some of them were in vain and my father liked listing my failures on various occasions. The list rarely changed from time to time.

“You’re sloppy with everything. You traveled the world like a tramp.”

“Our family traveled the world. My great grandfather had died in a ship wreck off Rio.”

"Their travels had purpose. You were just a hobo.”

It was the truth and I accepted his accusations without any defense.

After my mother’s death we flew to France, Ireland, Utah, the Olympic Peninsula, Montana, and Wyoming for long road trips.

My father was an excellent driver, but his foot was heavy on the gas and we argued about his speeding. He was never wrong and refused to give up the steering wheel in fear of having to permanently surrender his license.

One of our last trips was to Quebec.

"Why Quebec?" My father usually picked our destinations.

I told him about the Manicouagan crater.

“It’s the largest ‘visible’ impact crater on Earth. It hit the earth over 200 million years ago.”

“And we want to go there why?”

“There’s nothing like it in the world. I tried to get there in the winter of 1991.”

"There are two seasons that far north. The season of good driving and the season of bad driving."

"It's definitely bad driving north of the border. " I had been willing for continue north, however my English friend Philippe had been an illegal alien and had refused to cross the border. "I turned back at Fort Kent."

“And you want to go now?” My father was increasingly more comfortable staying at home

“It’s almost always day that far north. No snow either.”

“I don't know if I'd like the endless day. I like my sleep.”

“Me too, but we'll have a good time."

"Doing what?"

"Driving, playing cards, eating good food, and drinking wine.”

“Okay.” My father was an easy sell and two weeks later we headed north from Boston.

July 2000 was a warm summer, but his new Mercedes had superb AC. We reached Quebec City in one day and stayed at the Hotel Frontenac in Quebec City, where we dined on crepes and sipped white wine overlooking the Plains of Abraham.

“Our ancestors fought with the British under General Wolfe.”

“I know.” I was a registered Son of the Colonial Wars.

“So if we won that war, why don’t they speak English?” He was talking about Les Habitants.

“Because they’re French.”

“They’re not French. They’re Canadian, which is almost American.”

“They don’t think that.”

“That’s, because they’re too stupid to know when they’re beaten. You know our ancestors fought here with the British under General Wolfe.”

He had a new tendency to repeats things.

I played my part and said, “I know.”

The waiter arrived before we had to relive the previous dialogue.

Having lived in Paris, I ordered the wine in French.

The waiter ignored me and my father told him, “I want a Mer’Lot.

It was one of his favorite jokes.

The waiter laughed in anticipation of a good tip.

My father would not disappoint him.

“I thought you could speak French.”

“The Quebecois speak an ancient Gallic dialect.”

“And you speak French with a Boston accent?”

“Maybe I do.”

“You know our ancestors fought here with the British under General Wolfe?”

“I know.” I sighed knowing I had not heard the last of General Wolfe.

We finished a second bottle of wine and he told the waiter, “We’re going to see Lake Manicouagan.”


"Because it’s the biggest impact crater in America.”

"Okay.” The waiter shrugged with the same smirk everyone wore on hearing our destination.

"No one seems to be impressed with Lake Manicouagan," my father commented, as we took the elevator to our floor.

“That's, because none of them have ever seen it."

"A big rock in the middle of a lake hundreds of miles from anything."

"Exactly. We night be abel to get there tomorrow if we drive fast."



"Why not?"
“You keep saying that.”

We entered out home and he fell asleep searching the TV for WHEEL OF FORTUNE. I read Kenneth Roberts ARUNDEL about Benedict Arnold’s invasion of Quebec. Our ancestors had also fought in the Revolutionary War. I put down the novel and shut off the light. Tomorrow we had an early start.

The following dawn we skirted along the northern bank of a foggy St. Lawrence. My father was behind the wheel. The shore was dotted with fiords and falls. Whales gathered at the river mouths. I snapped pictures.

“Can you stop a minute.”

“What for?”

“To take a picture of a whale.

“If you’ve seen one whale, you’ve seen a thousand.” He stepped on the gas.

“I’ve only seen one and that was off the coast of Hawaii.”

“Your great-grand-uncle killed whales.”

“Aunt Bert’s father.” She had lived to a 103.

“Her father slaughtered a blue whale for her eighth birthday.”
“I know. Maybe she saw hundreds, but I want to see one closer.”

“If you’ve seen one whale, you’ve seen a thousand.”
p>Traffic on the North Cabot Trail was light and my father enjoyed flying at 110 MPH on the empty road

“Why are you in a hurry?”

“I want to watch WHEEL OF FORTUNE at the motel.” He enjoyed this simple pleasure, even if his show was in French north of the border.

“Baie-Comeau is only two hours away.”

“You been here before?”

“No, but our ancestors fought under Wolfe in Quebec.”

“What are you talking about?”


“As usual.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Just that you wasted your life.”


“I can’t begin to count the ways, but there was the time you drew submarines on the bedroom walls and set fire to the woods.”

“I’d didn’t do it.” My older brother Frunk was a pyromaniac. I was simply his acolyte.

“Then who did?”

I said nothing and my father put on a classical music CD. Mozart filled the silence to Baie-Comeau, where the road turned north to Lake Manicouagan. We stopped for the night at a small hotel overlooking a crystal blue bay. We were a mere two-hundred miles for the crater.

After signing in, the manager asked where we were going.

“Lake Manicouagan.”

“Why?” He regarded us with bafflement. “There is nothing there.".”

"It also has the biggest impact crater in North America.”

“And also biggest Maringouin in Quebec.” The manager shrugged with a smirk.

“What’s Maringouin?”

“Mosquitoes, but savage mosquitoes.”

“How savage?”

“You’ll see in Lake Manicouagan.”

We ate fresh salmon in a small restaurant, where the locals sat outside eating corn around a bonfire. We returned to the hotel and I opened a cold bottle of Frontenac Gris. The two of us admired the glow of the near-endless light of summer, although the stars were fighting to be bright through clouds of merciless mosquitoes and blood trickled the bites on our heads.

“You still want to see Lake Manicouagan?”

“It’s only two hundred miles away.” I held the map, which was useless for killing the swarms of mosquitoes.

“On a dirt road.” My father was from Maine. He knew dirt roads.

"With bigger mosquitoes than this."

I slapped my forehead. A glut of blood dripped on my shirt.
“I’ve had enough of this.”

“Me too.”

We retreated inside the hotel room and finished the wine. My father watched his show. His snores kept me up until midnight. I fell asleep reading ARUNDEL. Kenneth Roberts failed to mention mosquitoes, because Benedict Arnold had invaded Quebec in the winter.

Early the following morning I examined the bites in the mirror.

“What do you think?” My father was scratching at his lumpy skull.

“We’re so close. It seems a shame not to try for it.”

"There’s nothing there, but more Maringouins.”

He was right and I agreed that the vicious mosquitoes would drain our veins like vampires.

“So what now?”

"There's an ferry crossing the river at 8am."

"How far?" He checked his watch.

"Thirty miles."

"Let's go."

My father never dropped below 100 and we made the ferry in time for the 8am crossing.

I spoke with several travelers about the drive to Gaspe.

They warned against speeding.

My father ridiculed their advice.

“I’ve been driving over sixty years and never got a speeding ticket. Not like you.”

“It’s a miracle you haven’t.” My last moving violation was on the Mass Pike for driving 85 in a 65 zone. The year was 1975.

“Not a miracle. Just good driving.” He exited off the ferry like he were chased by clouds of bebittes, which was another Quebecoise word for mosquitoes. I supposed they had more.

Towns were clustered closer together on the south bank of the St. Lawrence. My cautions about his speeding were dismissed by his nasty rancor and he swore at me for opening the map.

“It doesn’t matter where we are. Only where we are going.”

“I want to stop and see the sights.” The chances of my coming this way again were nil.

“There’s nothing to see, but trees and sea.”

My father motored past every stunning vista with a vengeance. He was the captain. The Benz hit 90. No other car came close to that speed. I studied the long straight-aways with binoculars and spotted a police cruiser in the distance.

“Slow down. There’s a cop car coming.”

“Slow down for what?” All he saw was open road.

“A cop car.”

“So what?”

“He’s going to stop us.”

“You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.” My father had never used that type of language with me or anyone else.

Something was rattling his brain.

The police car passed us, then 180ed in pursuit. The siren was loud and the light were flashing.

“He wants you to stop.”

“So I’m stopping.”

He pulled off the road and recited a list of my many sins; not delivering my newspaper route fast enough, losing a scholarship to high school because I didn’t believe in God, getting arrested for a high-speed chase, drugs, drinks, and not giving him grandchildren. If that provincial trooper hadn’t knocked on the window, my father would have covered my every trespass since birth.

Worse his accusations were spot on target.

“So much for not getting a speeding ticket.”

“Like always you don’t know shit.” My father put down the window.

“Why are you talking like that?”

“Like what?” He didn’t hear the words and put down our windows.

The hills to the south were covered with a pine forest. The air smelled of cut wood. Somewhere men were working lumber. My grandfather had put himself through Bowdoin College chopping trees in the northern woods.
The trooper asked for my father’s license and registration in Quebecois.

“Is there something wrong, officer?” My father respected the law.

The officer said in French that he had radared the car at 90.

“Le Limite de Vitesse est 60. I will have to take your father into custody.”

“Really?” I asked in French. “Cuffs and all?”

“Oui.” He was dead serious.

My father smiled with a practiced innocence.

“So if you arrest him, you’ll take him which way?”

The officer pointed in the direction of Gaspe.

“Excellent.” I figured booking and arraignment was a two-hour ordeal and I could use the break.

“What if I pick him up in 3 hours?”

“We are not a baby-sitting service.” He didn’t want the responsibility of a man in his 70s and said, “I will give your father a warning. No ticket.”

“C’est pas vrai?” I was disappointed by his decision to let off my old man.

“Roulez moins vite.”

“Yes, officer.” My father understood that he was supposed to drive at a slower pace.

The officer returned to his cruiser and wheeled away from us in the opposite direction.

My father smiled with satisfaction.

He pulled off the shoulder and was soon up to 90.

“I told you that I wouldn’t get a ticket.”

“You told me a lot of things back there.” I slinked into the seat defeated by his escape from justice.

My father talked of our watching bears eat at the town dump, a vandal throwing a rock at our station wagon at South Shore Drive-In, and my coming home late after a night with Janet Stetson. I had been 15. My father had picked me up at 3 in the morning.

“You hit me.”

In the face.

“You should have called home. Your mother was worried.”

“Sorry.” I had said it then and I said it now.

“Save your sorry for hell. You sinned with that girl. You didn’t care about anyone. All you cared about was sex.”

This turn in the conversation was as unexpected as a verbal barrage of curses.

“You’ve been a bum all your life. You should have been working. Instead you traveled the world. To do what? To be a bum.”

“Mom said I was her eyes and ears on the world.”

“Only a mother can love a bum.”

“You can’t talk to me like that.” I had worked all my life but not as a member of the 9-to-5 society.

“Why? Can’t you stand hearing the truth?” His face was red.

“Stop, Dad.” I was worried about his heart.

“I don’t have to stop. This is my car. I can say whatever I want, you dirty bum.”

The speedometer was at 100.

“Maybe you can, but I don’t have to listen.”

“Then you can get out of the car.”

“With pleasure.”

My father stomped on the brakes and veered onto the shoulder.

“Get out of the car, you bum.”

“Pop the trunk. I want my bag.”

“Get out. Now.”

I obeyed him and stood on the asphalt waiting for him to tell me to get back in the car.”

Instead he hit the gas and drove east.

He had a funny sense of humor, but the Mercedes disappeared over the next hill.

“Damn.” I tried his phone with my cell. There was no service. This was not a joke.

I had the binoculars and a map.

I was two miles from Mont-Louis. The another road cut south from 132. Either way I was over forty miles from Gaspe. I stuck out my thumb. No one stopped for hitchhikers in the 21st Century and I started walking east.

Ten minutes later a provincial cruiser stopped on the shoulder.

It was the same officer from before.

I explained what happened and he said in Quebecois that driving long distances with family was a little like ‘le fierve noir’.”

“Black fever?”

“Qui, cabin fever.”

"Vous avais raison.”

He told me to get in the cruiser and we rode to Gaspe at 100 mph. No one drove slow this far north.

“What make you so sure he will be there?”

“He will be there.”

“You don’t know my father.”

“Peut-etre, but I know Gaspe.”

We topped a rise and below us lay a stunning archipelago of jagged rocks dotting the boreal blue Atlantic.


I spotted my father’s Mercedes before a small restaurant overlooking the bay.

“Bonne chance.” The officer left me and cruised back west.

I entered the restaurant. My father was sitting at the window. A glass of white wine was in one hand and a photo of my mother was in the other. He lifted his head and said, “Your mother would have loved it here. You know she said you were her eyes and ears on the world.”

“I know.”

I sniffed the air.

“What’s that?”

The waitress said it was a bouillabaisse of wild salmon, native oysters, and fresh shrimp.” He signaled for our server and said, “Deux plates du bouillabaisse.”

Neither of us had tasted anything better and we drank two bottles of Seyval Blanc toasting my mother, our family, the Red Sox, and traveling the world.

The day lingered long in the northern latitudes and we walked along the cliffs of Gaspe in a shimmering dusk.

There were no mosquitoes.

“Sorry about before. I’ve been losing my temper without any reason these days. Must be getting old. Whatever I said I didn’t mean.”

“I know.” My fight with him had ended decades ago.

“You’ve been a good son.”

“I could have been better.”

“Everyone could have been better. We can only do what we can do. Nothing more.”

It wasn’t an apology.

We knew each other too long to need those.

It was more a passing of the baton.

He was old.

I was 51, which is closer to 80 than 20.

“I wish your mother was with us.”

“She is, because I am her eyes and ears.”

My father pressed his hand into my shoulder.

“Maybe next year we’ll get to Lake Manicouagan.”

“Mom would like that.”

“I know.”

He had loved her more than us, because she loved us all more than she loved herself.

That evening I kissed my father’s head before going to bed. The face mirrored mine.

"You know our ancestor fought the French?" My father shut his eyes.

"A long time ago."

Tomorrow we would drive to Maine.

My sister’s camp on Watchic Pond was 500 miles away. We were both at home on the lake.

My father would do the majority of the driving through the endless forests of New Brunswick and the potato fields of Aroostock County.

Those roads had been built for a man like my father.

He drove fast and even better he didn’t get tickets.

THE EYE OF THE STORM by Peter Nolan Smith

In early September of 1960 Hurricane Donna struck New England as a category 2/3 storm. The radio station WBZ announced numerous school closing led by Beaver County Day School and closely followed by my primary school on the South Shore, Our Lady of the Foothills. My older brother and I were happy to stay home. We were new kids in town.

That morning a raging gale howled against our split-level ranch house and the windows vibrated in their sashes. The electricity died at noon and my father lit a kerosene lamp, which he placed on the kitchen table.

Our family of seven huddled around the flame like Neanderthals sheltering in a cave.

Several hours later the howling hurricane abated to a whisper.

“Where are you going?” my mother demanded with hands on her hips, her voice ringing with the authority of a woman, who had carried five babies in her womb.

“Outside to show them the eye.” My father loved a good storm.

“Hurricanes are not a joke.” My mother had experienced the 1938 hurricane. That tempest didn’t have a name, yet hundreds of New Englanders had died in its path.

“I know.” My father shrugged in weak surrender to the truth.

"You act, as if you don't."

Hurricane Edna in 1954 had destroyed his sailboat on Watchic Pond. The hull lay in our backyard.

Six years later he had yet to repair the damage to the mast.

He never had much free time.

Five kids under the age of ten were a lot of work.

“The skies have cleared." My father looked out the window and then back to my mother.

"We’ll only be a few minutes.”

“I wanna go too.” My two-year old brother bounced off his high chair.

"Not a chance." My mother grabbed his wrist. Padraic had almost died at birth from pneumonia. She wasn't giving Nature any second chances and sternly regarded by father. “Only a few minutes.”

"Maybe even less."

"Then go." My mother trusted my father to obey his promise, since he loved her enough to convert to Catholicism.

“I’ll keep them safe.” My father led us outside.

We lived in the shadow of Chickatawbut Hill.

A sultry wind raced through the trees. Branches were scattered across the yard. Overhead a counter-clockwise swirl of the cloud funnel opened to the blue heavens.

“That is the eye of the storm.”

The three of us 360ed on the lawn to gawk at the storm’s awesome power and glory.

Lightning pulsed within the cloud wall like the Aurora Borealis. If my best friend hadn’t drowned a month ago, the cyclonic display would have reinforced my faith in the Almighty. Instead I said, “Wow.”

Rain dotted the walkway. The wind was soon a gale. The raindrops stung our skin.

My mother yelled at us to get inside.

My father lifted his finger to indicate we wanted a few more seconds.

He had fought the Maine’s Great Fire of 1949. I never had seen him scared of anything other than my mother’s wrath. He quickly explained to my older brother and me how hurricanes formed in the tropics. We were 9 and 8. His meteorological lesson was lost on us and the oppressive pressure of the powerful storm weighed heavily on our skin.

“Remember this for the rest of your life. Few people see this.”

My mother’s next demand was an ultimatum.

“If you don’t come in, I’m locking the doors.” She was serious.

“We better do as she says.” My father guided us inside the house. He gave my mother a hug. She was relieved to have us back inside.

The second half of the hurricane stuck within minutes and lasted into the evening.

The weatherman on WBZ radio announced the all-clear message wagon, as we were going to sleep. School had been cancelled throughout New England. My father was excited as a child on Christmas Eve and he whispered, “Tomorrow Revere Beach.”

The beach there was ideal for watching the storm die against land. Giant waves would slap the concrete flood walls with a force strong enough to make the streets shudder with fear.

The boyish joy in his voice kept us awake for another three minutes, for tomorrow promised to be a day of big waves and wild sea spray.

We could hardly wait.