Immigration Current Heartbreaking Situation At Our Southern Borders — An Angry Rant!

Where to Start?????  What to do??  What are the solutions?  Solutions must be found!

My Granddaughter Michelle today wrote an impassioned blog on this situation.  As a devoted mother of a nineteen-month old boy, she deeply feels the pain of these children and their parents.  I agree with her.  What a tragedy!  She suggested,  for information how to help, that I check  a site “Cup of Jo,” which I did.  A suggestion from this writer was  that we contact our elected officials.  After writing elected officials many times over the 30 years since returning to the States, and not receiving ever a reply indicating that my message had even been read, I am more than a bit cynical. However, this is a true crisis of humanity, and I will write my elected officials again.

Having lived for 29 years in Latin America, the subject of immigration, when we lived in Colombia and after we came back to the States, has come up innumerable times.  As I write this, I do so with extreme temerity since all too often my opinions, and/or means of expressing same, from my 90-years-plus point of view, is often felt not to be correctly expressed.  But I plunge ahead.

As long as I can remember U.S. immigration has been a chaotic operation on many fronts.  Terribly, horribly complicated.  Seemingly never consistent.  Many qualified people have applied for visas, with a multitude of problems.

Years ago a man from Cali, Colombia, frequently would come to the U. S. to visit his daughter.  He owns property in Cali, retired from a US firm,  and in no way posed a threat to the U.S.   His daughter and son-in-law are employed in the US.  One day  he flew to Bogota (the Cali consular office long ago closed down?) to renew his visa.  He was told he made too many trips to the U.S. and could not renew his visa. No further explanation.  Someone told him that he could get a U S visa if he was willing to pay $10,000.   I do not know what he did.  He asked me to speak to someone in the US which I did and was told, “Patricia, there is nothing we can do.  The immigration system is broken.”  At any rate, he did finally get a visa and recently came to see us.

There are many such stories.  A man who once worked for me, came to the States through the Catholic Church.  He decided not to return to Colombia.  Somehow he was able to get his green card and later his U.S. citizenship.  I have no idea how.   I am told, there are many lawyers in the Jersey area who know how to get these things done.

Had lunch recently with a friend who emigrated from Venezuela many years ago.  She was commenting on the impossibility of the immigration system.  She told me about her friend who came to the States illegally.  Somehow he was able to get a job, a driver’s license, payed his taxes,  married and had children.  He applied many times for his green card, only to be delayed for a myriad of reasons.  Now he is being threatened with deportation, having to leave his wife and small children behind.

The indifference, the inefficiency of our immigration system is mind-boggling.

I am also angered with the Mexicans, who march in parades carrying signs in Spanish and carrying the Mexican flag.  If they are so eager to live here, then speak English, carry signs in English, and carry the flag of the United States of America.  If that Mexican flag is so important to them, then keep marching and carry it right back across the border to land which it represents.  I can just hear the derisive remarks that will come my way from this comment. I lived overseas, and I learned to speak Spanish.  It never occurred to me that I should do otherwise.  It was not easy but it was necessary and an obligation.  This was in 1956.  There was no internet.   I remember reading the daily newspaper with  a Spanish/English dictionary in my hand.

What really puzzles me is who organized this latest caravan of such a huge number of people and why?    Who vetted them before they joined the caravan to be sure they are truly people seeking asylum, and not some of them drug dealers, or pose a security threat?  Why plan to bring so many people at one time?  The act of processing immigrants takes time and organization and personnel.  This huge number of people arriving at the same time compounds the problem,.  PLEASE!! I AM IN NO WAY JUSTIFYING THE SEPARATION OF CHILDREN FROM THEIR PARENTS.

Also I am frustrated, angry, and disappointed at the various people involved who are using these poor people for political gain, and in many cases, monetary gain.

Sad commentary on our elected officials who are too busy at political gamesmanship,  to work out solutions to clean up our immigration system.  I find this utterly disheartening!!

It is just common sense that we cannot have people pouring over the open borders daily by the hundreds.  There must be some control.  Just look at the almost insurmountable problems in Europe from the invasions of immigrants from the Middle East.  This too is a sad tale of human misery, yet the desire to help those deserving has been abused by the undeserving who have wrecked such havoc in Europe.

As for those evil people who take money from these poor people seeking a new life in a new land, too often the result  is death and injury by the inhumane way they are transported, I have only utter disdain.  They are pure evil.  Human trafficking in whatever form is pure evil.

Postscript:  We have been without TV all day.  I just learned that the practice of taking children from their parents has been stopped.  Praise God!!  



Happy Fathers’ Day

To all Fathers everywhere, and especially to the ones in my family:  Scotty, Jose, Walt, Oliver.

Below is a photo of my father, Dr. Cecil O. Richer, taken the day of his graduation from Dental School, Indiana University. He was a loving father who would spend hours playing card games with my sister and me, which included whist, bridge and gin rummy, skills which served me well.  He also taught us both to dance.  A good musician, who could play any brass instrument, he had wonderful rhythm and loved to dance. He left us a legacy of honest, decency, and charitable giving among other things.  I have marvelous, loving  memories of him.

To the right below is a photo of Scott, Patty, and Jeannie.  Scott loved to clown around and this evening is typical.  I have no idea what he is wearing, but he is wearing Jeannie’s hat and sun glasses.  Whatever they are doing or wearing, they are having lots of fun and this is a good memory.

Final photo is of Scott opening his gifts, either on Fathers’ Day or his birthday.  No one loved birthdays or  Fathers’ Day more than Scott, except for perhaps his children.

The Scott, Sr., legacy extends beyond just having fun.  He was well-known in Cali, Colombia,  for his civic and charitable activities.  Scotty has the many decorations and honors given to him.  I think his greatest accomplishment was, though the resources of  Colgate Palmolive, the building of the  first public sports park in Cali, Colombia.  Built in a very poor neighborhood, it was huge and included many sports,  from soccer to swimming and tennis.  Each sport  had a full time coach to train the people in their selected activity,  Colgate went on to build two  more such facilities and then a group was formed of business men to build these same facilities in other parts of Colombia.

I had intended to show photos of all the fathers mentioned above, but could not find photos which would include all their children, so gave up.  Also wanted to show photos of Scott, who was also an adoring grandfather, but again could not find all the photos needed.

To Scott Jeffery, Jr., Jose Hernandez, Walter Riester, Oliver Delgado, I salute you!!,  for each of you are wonderful fathers.  Just ask their children.  Little Oscar perhaps cannot give credence to the claim today, but I am sure he will once he can talk.

We are all Blessed!!!  Happy Fathers’ Day two days late.

Scanned Image 112480010 2

Mail00111965 Oct 11, Cali, Dad's birthday-Scotty, Jeannie, Barbara, Dad opening gifts

General Comments


 It has been almost a month since I last wrote something.  However, I have been making notes of miscellaneous thoughts.

Turning 90 – Some Things I Do No Like – But Have To Accept Anyway

Find recent suicides very distressing – what dark thoughts in the night hours when sleep is impossible take over a man’s soul…and destroy probably the most basic human instinct, that of survival.  Thoughts that destroy the will to live, but bring on instead the urge to take away the fragile, God-given spark of life.

Mind not as sharp.  Hard to grasp concept quickly. Difficult to see whole picture.

Television – Due both to deficient hearing, tendency to not be able to keep my thoughts on what is being said,  and the inability to take in an idea completely., I so often cannot understand what is being said.  I do not grasp the essence of the thought

Hearing is problem in crowds and now even in family gatherings.  I have a feeling of isolation.   People jump from subject to subject and I cannot keep up.  I sense they get tired of repeating.  I need to focus better on the conversation for once I lose concentration, it is very difficult for me to get back into the train of thought.

Civil Discourse – what has happened to civil discourse in this country??  

For example, the speaker (comedienne?) who spoke at the Washington  Press Dinner.    She was deliberately cruel, humiliating, hurtful, especially to Sarah Huckabee sitting at the main table.  She was not humorous. She was only funny to those small-minded, mean-spirited people who enjoy seeing someone else humiliated.  I have watched these Press Dinner for many years.  President Barack Obama spoke at the last one I watched.  As he made fun of colleagues, friend and foe, he evoked laughs, not sneers and tears.

Our politicians are saying outrageous things about those on the opposite of the aisle, and crying foul when they are attacked in like manner.  I know our President is one of the offenders, but this does not open the doors to others to try to outdo him.  

I have given up on Face Time, which was once a delightful place to keep up with friends. This was particularly fun for me keeping tabs on friends from overseas, with whom it is not as easy to keep in touch.  However, at some point crude, uninformed political comments took over, some with at least some background of knowledges, but most simply such dumb statements as “Betsy DeVoss is an idiot.”  Disagree with Secretary Voss and state why, but simply calling her an idiot  made that person the “idiot.”  I will not repeat the vulgar comments made by a man who went to the same school as my children.  I could only answer “I cannot believe you said this.”

How sad that today too many people find the only way to articulate their opinions is to resort to name calling, crudeness, and vulgarity.  Where has common sense and common decency gone?

Age – One positive thought  is that I an less critical and more appreciative.  I am working on the reality that I have so little control on what is going on in my life that  I need to work on my favorite mantra “Count my Blessings.”

Bits of Advice – a wise man once said, “advice is least sought and seldom accepted,” but anyway, here I go.

Be kind in all circumstances.  Remember NOT to think only of yourself and how you feel.  Relationships with within family circle, friends, church, organizations  are important  to maintain. Do not let personal hurt destroy anyone or anything, for these are more important than one person, certainly more important than you alone.  Nurture your relationships.  Preserve them.  

If you have a problem bothering you, try to talk things out, but always with civil discourse.  Never lash out at someone in the heat of emotion.  Physical cuts can heal, but words can inflict wounds that last forever !  And most likely they will  come back to hurt and haunt you sometime in the future, even more sadly when it is too late to make amends.

All parents make mistakes  No matter how hard you try to be the perfect parent, (and most likely try to be better than your parents were), you will make mistakes and live to regret them.  Be very careful with your judgement calls with parents and children.   If you must judge, then be very careful with your words.

If you do not particularly like someone, there is no need to be unkind. Certainly there is  no need to be mean.  Be civil and courteous when you must see them. But NOT judgemental.  That person or persons very possibly may not like  you either. As the Bible says, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

Remember, you do not always have to be right.  Nor does everyone have to think like you think.  Carefully pick your battles and your priorities.  Never forget how very easy it is, quoting a wise and old saying,  to” win the battle and lose the  war.”

Final and last comment:

 After spending hours writing and editing, I lost all but a few paragraphs .  I have just rewritten , but not as well as before.  At any rate, this comes from my heart. 


Inner City Neighborhoods USA, Colombia


This is why I decided to set up my own blog page.

A very long article, but it is written from the very depths of my heart.  I hope and pray you will find time to read it.

(I am the world’s worst editor.  Please forgive any errors I have not corrected)

A heartfelt concern from over 50 years ago to now.

I feel very passionate about the many problems in our inner-city neighborhoods.  I truly think there are solutions.  These  are  difficult, complicated, time and labor consuming, expensive, but absolutely necessary .    It is tragic the brain power lost to our nation due to these inner-city problems.  Too many young people never have a chance.

The mother of Dr. Ben Carson  is admirable and exceptional.  Without her and her perseverance, this nation would have lost an exceptional neurosurgeon and a high-quality engineer.  How many exceptional people have been lost because too  many parents simply do not know how to help their children.  “They would if they could.!”

In Cali ,Colombia, I first became very aware of the loss of brain power from lack of opportunity.  We had a servant of many years who had very little schooling.  Yet, she was innately intelligent.  I taught her to cook and she became a better cook than I.  Because she concentrated and  listened, she learned enough English to be able,  when we were chatting in English,  to  interrupt and tell us in Spanish how and why we were wrong.

I am certainly aware that my suggestions are based on my 20-year involvement in a small neighborhood in the foot hills of the Andes in Cali, Colombia, South America. 

The multi-pronged problems in the US are overwhelming in comparison.   I learned this when I returned to the U.S. and volunteered in an inner-city neighborhood.

 I have written letter after letter over the years to government officials in the US on this subject with no meaningful answers.

Since returning to the States I have watched with dismay as during each election campaign the politicians on both sides of the aisle make promises.  Sadly when the election is over little is done.    

Poverty, no matter where, has certain destructive elements in common:     hunger…health …housing…education…job opportunities,…crime…drug abuse…broken families.

Why do not more people, especially our elected officials, try to get to the core of these huge problems??  To understand what is involved and look for solutions; not just more Hand Outs.     Hand-Outs destroy in time a person’s dignity, self-confidence, .  A Hand Up will in time restore dignity,  self-confidence,  self-esteem and pride. I saw this to be true in the small neighborhood in Cali, Colombia, in which I was  involved for 20 years. 

I humbly offer the following suggestions.  These are not only my thoughts but those of many with whom I have spoken on this subject since coming back to the USA.

  1. Good schools with dedicated teachers are basic, indispensable.  departments  This should include care before school and after school for working mothers.  Qualified teachers would be in charge to help children do their homework while  still at school 
  2. Give the teachers the tools they need such as number of students to a class limited , at the very most to 25 students.  Allocate money for good salaries for teachers before all else.  Then insist they do the job correctly, lovingly and with care.   
  3. Serving a breakfast, such as a high-protein drink or sandwich would help the hungry children to concentrate better.  
  4. Schools in these area have to be aware of illness, learning disabilities, abuse, and other similar problems, and have staff to work with these special children.     When I volunteered in the US to help teach children to read, too many children were unable to sit still long enough to listen for more than a few pages. Volunteers were given no instructions how to best handle this situation.
  5.  Health is a big part in redoing the inner city area.  Walk-in clinics are needed, staffed with competent people to diagnose and treat minor illnesses and send the seriously ill or seriously injured to a hospital, via 911.    Ideally this clinic would include not only an MD and office secretary, but a dentist.  Perhaps a nurse practitioner every day and then a doctor and a dentist on specific days.  Offer drug abuse education – not only how to get off and how to never start.
  6. Educate the parents:                                                                                                               A. Teach parents how they can help their children at home with homework. B. Give parents lessons on nutrition, preparing inexpensive foods 

    C. Give parents lessons on birth control, family responsibility.  Perhaps the            neighborhood Church can help with this.

      D. Teach parents how to keep a clean house, family hygiene.

        E. Program for teachers and parents to work together for good of children.

        F. Find a trade that single mothers can do at home to add to family income.

  7. Open a trade school in the area to teach skills:  plumbing, welding, electrician, painting, construction.  Be sure they are taught a trade which is hiring in the area. Help students find jobs after finishing school
  8.  Convince small or large businesses to move their business to this area to provide employment.   
  9. . Encourage family and community gardens.10.
  10.  Set up small grocery stores in each neighborhood, with prices controlled. Allow residents to purchase food, both perishable and non-perishable, at super market prices.
  11.   Make landlords provide adequate, safe, and healthy housing, with needed appliances and bug-free.  From the stories told by children at US school where I volunteered, housing is a huge problem.  12.
  12.   Each neighborhood needs a community center  where children and  families can participate in sports programs, lessons for parents such as cooking or sewing, games such as chess. A YMCA, YWCA or something similar.  Many years ago my husband along with Colgate Palmolive built the first public sports park in Cali.  This was a great success in changing the habits of the neighborhood for the better;  thus Colgate built two more sports parks in other inner-city neighborhoods and then a Colombian agency took over and built similar parks in others parts of Colombia.
  13. Police security obviously would be difficult, especially at first, but is always essential 


    My experience working in an inner-city neighborhood in Cali, Colombia  — Trinity School


          In 1966, when I was living in Cali, Colombia, South America, another mother and I would watch each day as our well-fed, well-dressed children got on their school bus.    At the same time children from an extremely poor neighborhood, called Bella Vista,  which abutted our neighborhood , Arboleda,  would start their daily trek down the mountain.   They would stop to go through garbage pails for  whatever food they could find.  When they reached our house, they would watch with sad eyes our children got on the school bus.  These children, some as young as four, were on their way to the center of town to spend their day begging.  It was heartbreaking.  We  decided we had to do something .

         There was no school in the area, nor medical facilities,  not even a church.  On the Cali city map, it was designated as a black zone, a neighborhood of squatters.

        Trinity Episcopal Church was a few blocks away from the beginning of Bella Vista.  We went there to seek other church members to join us and make a plan of how best we could truly make a difference in this very poor area, .

       We realized that initially the main group we wanted to help was the children.   We met with the board of Trinity Church for  permission to use the building during the week for a school.  A decision was made to start with first grade only.  The husband of a member, Carlos Salgado, volunteered to pay the teachers’ salaries and continued to do so as we added more grades.     

         But before starting the school, we realized we had to know BellaVista and its inhabitants, to understand their wants and needs.  We enlisted volunteers, who were fluent in Spanish, from the American school in Cali to  help us visit each home.  Security precautions were taken.  Students went in groups of two or three with a standard questionnaire.  We were delighted with the positive response from the parents. We had been concerned that perhaps they would prefer their children spend their days begging to help the family.

         We then invited the parents to come to the church for an orientation meeting in order to carefully explain what we were planning and what we hopped to accomplish.  This was such a success that from then on we held various parents’ meetings to discuss matters as they come up.

     At one meeting we discussed health problems and hygiene.  On our visits to Bella Vista we found housing to be deficient.  One family lived-in a lean-to and one in an abandoned house.  Most had dirt floors and water had to be carried from a well.  We installed showers at the school for the children. They had to bathe and wash hair once a week.  Colgate supplied us with toothpaste  and toothbrushes for daily dental hygiene.

          Another meeting had to do with family gardens during which we encouraged parents to take  part.  An agriculture expert from the US AID  brought seeds and taught elements of gardening.  This later involved giving them seeds for sweet corn, which, once grown,  the parents would bring to the church on Sundays to sell.  

          A cooking meeting taught the ladies how to prepare inexpensive but nutritious food.

          Family responsibility both male and female was discussed.  We always brought in experts when necessary.  In the case of birth control,  we invited our Colombian female friends to handle the meeting, and to encourage the men to support their wives.

         Children had dental problems and we arranged for them to be taken to a dentist.  Later on, a wonderful woman dentist, Dr. Maria Helena Feldsberg,  volunteered to come to the school one day a week to take care of these dental problem.

         We discovered two other basic health problems which we treated, with medical advice, at the  school. One was worms, and the other was lice.  Our teachers were outstanding in many ways, especially in the handling of the worm medicine and the lice.  On weekends, the Episcopal priest, his wife, or one of the board members would administer the annual deworming medicine.  Two particularly active priests were Fathers George Estes, and Canon Richard Hardman and their families. 

       I do not know how the Macrame purse project began.  I remember the leader was a marvelous woman who lived across from the school.  This became a good income for the women.  They became expert and wonderfully creative.  Through a  contact in the US we exported all the bags they could make, with all the profits going to the women who made the purses.  


         September, 1966, Trinity School was open for  business.  We used sheets of thick plywood with wooden horses for support as  desks for each grade.  Dottie Uribe was our in-house, college-graduate dietician.   Eggs and oranges were donated for breakfast.   Wish I could remember the generous people who gave these.   We also had guava bars which were a favorite of everyone, sweet and highly nutritious.!  We had a kitchen at the church and the caretakers prepared the eggs each morning.  

         Each year as planned, we added a grade.  At the end of the first year, we had a surplus from donations given.  My husband became our bank for the next two years, paying us the going interest rate.  We received generous donations from many sources:  Colombian individuals, Colombian and US  businesses, individuals from the international community.  Thus, we were able at the end of our third year of operation to form a Foundation to insure the school’s future.  We were very careful to document every “centavo” we spent.  This was important to donors; also to the Colombian government when we applied for certification, which allowed our top students to go on to secondary school.    

          Trinity School is still functioning better than ever today.  From the beginning, we hired only highly recommended teachers and paid above the going rate. From our original dedicated teachers of 5 in 1966, the last two resigned in 2015.  

          Children of the original volunteer group  grew up.  They took over where their parents left off  and did more than we had ever visioned . Today, Carla Uribe and her husband Manuel Ravassa keep the school going with a board of directors.  Manuel’s family donated land for a Trinity School building in Bella Vista.  My son, Scott Jeffery Jr., had returned to Colombia at that time and was involved along with the Uribe Ravassa family and many others in the building of a beautiful new school.  “As the twig is bent, the tree will grow.”  Trinity School has come a long way from the basement of Trinity Church.  The school today even has a computer room, and small symphony.   

           We started with the children, but we really did change the neighborhood 

       We have a nice list of success stories  about our graduates.    Trinity School is still supported by the same groups who supported the school from the beginning, with many additional donors.   Individuals who once lived in Cali still send donations.

         With many dedicated people, paid staff and volunteers, IT CAN BE DONE


    Thomas Grady Cousins (born December 1931) is a real estate developer, sports supporter and philanthropist, primarily based in Atlanta, Georgia.  Cousins was a leader in shaping the skyline in Atlanta, and he purchased and brought the Atlanta Hawks to the city.

Cousins is also known for his community redevelopment and his desire to help to           help local neighborhoods.  In 1995 he purchased the historic East Lake Golf Club with the intent that its profits would go back to help the local East Lake community.  Cousin’s model of community redeveloment is now being implemented in other cities in the US through a program he founded to replicate the East Lake model called Purpose Built Communities.  

Cousins graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1952 from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia.  During the 1960s Tom Cousins moved from real-estate to property development and sports franchising

He developed buildings such as the CNN Center, the Omni Coliseum, 191 Peachtree Tower, the Pinnacle Building in Buckhead and the first phase of the Georgia World Congress Center.  He and competitor John Portman completely remade downtown Atlanta in the 1960 and 1980s

He also helped revive and redesign the  home course of golfing great Bobby Jones, East Lake Golf Club, which had fallen into disrepair.  He hired Rees Jones (no relation to Bobby) to redesign the golf course, which has since hosted the PGA Tour’s  Tour Championship several times and become one of the leading golf courses in Atlanta. Cousins and his family financed the project to the tune of about $25 million.  This was part of a greater revitalization of the East Lake Meadows housing project in the East Lake neighborhood around the golf course.

In 1995 Cousins  founded the East Lake Foundation in Atlanta.  The Foundation partnered with the Atlanta Housing Authority to build a mixed-income apartment block in a local low-income area with a high crime rate and put additional resources into education options and job provisions for the tenants.  Columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. noted that these changes saw “violent crime down 96 percent” and “78 percent of kids passing the state math test when only 5 percent could do it before.”

Based on the results of the East Lake Foundation project, Cousins, with partner Warren Buffet, created Purpose Built Communities, an organization focused on supporting other communities working to replicate the successful community development seen in Atlanta.  Purpose Build Communities currently partners with 13 other communities in the United States.


I continue to ask myself why do very successful families, among the white, the black, and the Latino people not step up as Tom Cousins did and attack this problem in their own inner-city areas??  I particularly mention the black community, since a high percentage of black people are trapped in these inner-city neighborhoods.

Why do not our politicians stop with the Hand Outs,  and truly  work to improve these crime ridden areas.  The statistics about murders in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles, just to mention a few cities are heartbreaking!!

I hope, dear reader, you are still with me.  I hope you will share this with others who might carry this message along to our politicians and perhaps, just perhaps, more will be done to help the impoverished utilize their God-given talents to better themselves and those around them.













Violence, Evil Wherever It Takes Place

Londonderry, Ireland — Cali, Colombia

At the dentist’s office yesterday, the receptionist asked me where I had lived overseas and how long.  I answered “29 years and Cali, Colombia.”  This led to a conversation about her life as a child in Londonderry, Ireland . and my life in Cali and an exchange of stories about violence in our respective areas.

Lisa grew up in Londonderry during the years of chaotic violence between the Protestants (Orangemen) and Catholics (IRA).   She spoke of her childhood  in a place and  time when every day shots were fired, grenades thrown,  bombs detonated.  She remembers her mother rushing to hide  her and her siblings in a special place in their house when explosions were heard.  One relative disappeared never to be heard from again. Lisa remembered that she and her mother and other siblings always had to carry a vinegar soaked cloth when they walked in the streets of the town to cover their faces when the air became polluted from explosions.  The constant insecurity for the entire family took a heavy toll on her mother.  Thus the family left Ireland for the US  when Lisa was 9 years old.

Cali for several years became a very violent place.  This was a combination of  political groups and drug dealers.  Kidnappings and assassinations  were frequent.    Hired killers would roam the streets.  Known as “pajaros” they rode two men on a motorcycle, one to shoot as the other to drive.  People connected to US companies were often a target.  Our family for years had 24/7 security.   This made my life less stressful than that of Lisa’s mother, who alone was responsible for protecting her children.

We had instructions to never ride in a automobile without an armed driver, which at times could be very inconvenient.  This conversation with Lisa  reminded me of one time when I had agreed to help a friend.  My driver could not be found.  So, Sonia arrived in her huge Mercedes and off we went to pick up another friend, Mary.  We quickly noticed we were being followed by two men on a motorcycle.  Sonia and her family were also being threatened and she carried a gun in her car.  As we pulled into Mary’s driveway,  the motorcycle pulled into the adjacent driveway . Disgusted, impatient, and more than a bit fearful, I  angrily got out of the car, saying something stupid like “I am sick and tired of feeling intimidated.” ( Not very wise, I agree, which my husband strongly emphasized when I returned home!)  As I got out of the car, I heard Sonia say, “I have you covered Patricia.”   Glancing  back, I saw Sonia crouched down with a huge gun in her hand.  “Swell,”  I thought.  “Caught between Sonia and the pajaros.”  I grabbed poor Mary, who was half my size and frail, and literally pushed her in the car.  Off we sped.!  The two men on the motorcycle never made a move toward us.  We later learned they were looking for someone else in the house next door.

Lisa and I both agreed that one of the awful things about living  where violence exists, at least in both our cases, is that you stay because, in spite of the aggravation and fear, you become accustomed to it.  Probably a way of surviving.

I do not pretend to compare my experiences in Colombia during the time of violence to the horrific events in the Middle East today.  This violence is utter destruction of homes and towns and people living there.  Another scenario completely.

There has been recently a TV series, Narco, about Colombia.  I have had no desire to watch it.

World War II Memories, Three Young 18-Year-Old Men

Writer’s note:  I have never been able to edit my writing successfully or that of any one else.  I have read and reread this blog and have done my best to correct errors.

Jim Valentine, My high school classmate, Class of 1944

I have a friend, Jim Valentine, from my middle and high school years.  We face time often via phone line and computer. This has replaced our phone calls.   Jim served in WW II  as a turret gunner on what I thought was one of the big bombers.  Most of the men who were in the air force and flew many hours suffered severe hearing loss in their elderly years.  Jim can no longer hear well enough to talk on the phone.  To any one who is having a similar problem, I recommend face time calls.  Looking at someone, seeing the expressions, and, without realizing it, doing a great deal of lip reading, has once again made my  communication with my dear old friend viable again.

We began talking a few days ago during our face time conversation about his air force experiences.  In those days, young men finishing high school were immediately called into service.  Jim, age 18, was given 15 days after his graduation before leaving for service in the US Air Force.  There was basic training and then gunnery school, all of which took 3 months.  Then he was off to an Air Force base in Scotland along the North Sea.  When I asked him about his missions, I found out, for the first time,  that his squadron was part of operations under the OSS – today know as the CIA.  He said he first had to undergo Commando Training, indicating he found it  very difficult,  saying  “I never wanted to undergo anything like that again!”  He attributed his playing high school football as helping him get through it.  He did fly in big planes, but carrying men, not bombs, to be dropped wherever they were needed.  Jim call them “partisans”    He still does not care to discuss the details of the commando training  or the missions. He just shakes his head.

Wesley Smith (Ike), High school friend, Class 1943

Jim’s best friend as well as a good friend of mine was Wes (Ike) Smith who also left very soon after his high school graduation.   Wes also went into the US Air Force as a waist gunner, and was stationed somewhere in England.  He flew many bombing missions over Europe.  About eight years ago we three planned to attend together a high school reunion.  We had a marvelous time, laughing and going over many funny memories of our teenage years!!  Then Wes told the  story of his WWII air force experience, which ended his years in England.  During a bombing mission Wes’s plane was hit.  Damaged the plane limped back to England,.  Once over friendly territory, the gunners took off their jump suits and settled down for the short trip home, when one of them noticed a fire.  Wes rushed up to tell the officers in the front of the plane, only to find that they had all jumped, giving no notice to the crew in the back.  No time to put on jump suits.  They simply strapped on parachutes and bailed out, fortunately landing with no injuries.

The next day in another plane this same crew, officers and noncoms left for another mission.   Two of the original crew were not along for this mission:   Wes who due to rotation was off duty, and the Captain who  was in the hospital with a broken leg suffered when he parachuted the day before, deserting his men.  This plane was shot down with no survivors.  I cannot imagine the emotional stress finding out all your friends and fellow crew members are dead and you are one of two crew members still alive.  The Captain from his hospital bed sent word that he would like  Wes to come talk to him.  I ask Wes, “Did you go?”    “Hell no!,” was his emphatic reply.  Wes did not like to discuss his missions in general and he gave no details  about the fact that he flew no more missions.  He was returned to the States to serve in some capacity until the end of the war.

These are just two men among thousands and thousands who went, not gladly, but willingly.  They gave up their youth to fight to preserve our freedom. Men who carried scars all their lives.  But they came home and resumed  their lives as responsible, contributing citizens.

Bobby Smith (no relation to Wes Smith)

But not all did.  Not all could.   At a Christmas party a few months after the war’s end,  I remember vividly coming into a room and finding a friend, Bobby Smith,  sobbing and sobbing.  He had been a prisoner of war for several years and had been very badly treated.  I wish I had been more mature to have said something.    I just went to find his brother or parents, who were giving the party.  Bobby was only one of  oh so many who fought and returned and then tragically lost the battle to reintegrate into society.  He killed himself a few months later.

I wonder, often,  if  the baby boomers or the millennial ever give thought to the fact that  freedom is not, and has never been, free.  It has been paid for over and over by the blood of many courageous men and women throughout the history of this country.

Wandering Thoughts This Past Week – My Working Days, NBC in NYC,1948-55

Gardening.  Last week in a belated endeavor to help Jeannie and Lisle get our yard ready for a food truck party on our lawn this coming Friday, I decided to do some pruning of dead bushes, and pull weeds.  Every so often I make the mistake of forgetting my age and this was one of the times.  Did get almost all the job done.  But – “for every action there is a reaction.”  Oh so true.  My hands, and particularly my fingers, are so sore that I am having trouble  typing some five days later….and, the pain in my lower back is slowly subsiding.  So much for the words said many years ago by a major athlete, baseball I think,” Age is only mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”  I didn’t mind, and it does matter!

Barbara Bush.  I had the pleasure of meeting this lovely lady of several occasions.     The first time was in Greenwich, CT.   George Bush, who was in the oil business in Texas, and  his wife Barbara were visiting his parents.  The Jeffery brothers went to the same Greenwich school as the Bush men.  Some old school friends had a party to which I went with your Dad.  I remember speaking quite some time with Mrs. Bush, probably because   she nor I had attended the school, nor were we from Greenwich.  As I remember most of the guests had school connections.

While we were living in Cali, Vice President Bush and his wife, Barbara, came to Colombia.  Because of  your Dad’s business position, we were invited to a reception at the US Embassy in Bogotá.  Security was very strict.   We came with our driver/body guard, who had to leave us quite a distance from the Embassy.  Before we began our long walk, ID’s were requested.  I had left all of mine in the hotel, being told to bring only a very small purse and assuming Scott’s ID would work for both of us.  The only ID I had was, for some strange reason, my Club Campestre card.  After much wrangling they finally let us through the check point.  At this point, as is usual in Bogota, it began to drizzle.  In high heels, walking on slippery cobble stone streets,  I muttered not too graciously, “If George Bush was not an old friend of your’s, I would refuse to go any further.”  Going  through the reception line,  Scott  reached Vice President Bush, and said, “Welcome to Colombia, Mr. Vice President .” to which Vice President Bush started to laugh and said, “Scotty, what are you doing here?” They had not seen each other in years.  Amazing memory.  At this reception, Barbara Bush delighted and charmed everyone with her open, friendly, warm attitude. NO, she did not remember me from that party some 20 years earlier, not did I mention it to her.

The last time was after we returned to the States, and then President Bush and Mrs. Bush were in Jacksonville for a fund-raiser for son, Jeb, who was running for Governor of FL.  Once again he remembered Scott.  Jeannie was with us and I will let her tell her story. of his comments to her.  Mrs. Bush was graciously and valiantly standing by his side as photos were taken with each guest.  I do not know how she did it so well  all those years. I did not talk to her this time.   I could only think, “What a great wife and mother.!”

Sawgrass Member/Guest Tennis Tournament.  Had a wonderful time Friday  afternoon and Saturday.  Jeannie invited Vicky Koele Bryan to be her guest.  Inge Koele, Vicky’s mother came with her to join me in cheering our daughters on.   Staci Marbut Manis also  came to watch.  All three women attended the Colegio Bolivar in Cali, Colombia, and Inge was one of the best teachers we had at the school .  We spent as much time reminiscing as we did watching tennis.  Jeannie, Vicky, and Staci gave a rousing rendition of the Bolivar Anthem before play began.  Amazing they could still remember the words.  Such fun and what wonderful memories.


My first job. NBC,  after finishing Virginia Intermont College, Indiana University, and  finally  The Katherine Gibbs School in New York City.

Katherine Gibbs was basically a secretarial school, but it really was much more than that.  Professors from Colombia and NYU were brought in to lecture on various business subjects, which gave us a better understanding of the business world, and encouraged us to think about being something more than a secretary some day.  Also, graduating from this school really was a guarantee to getting a secretarial job.  We were able to skip the secretarial pool.

When I began at NBC, 1948, radio was still the major producer of shows. Yes, my dear children and grandchildren…..back in the dark ages.  Not everyone had a TV set, but those that did, only received shows for about 3 hours in the early evening hours.  The screen size was three or six inches, and black and white only.

I worked for one of the executives in the Radio Recording department.  Some shows were recorded  to be played later.  Some were recordings of live shows.  All recordings were archived, just as today all TV shows are saved in some digital form.

The most challenging part of my job was filing.   I lived in fear the first weeks of my job was that I would be fired for losing some important paper.  I came in several weekends to acquaint myself with the files.

I cannot remember my succession of jobs.  I do remember when I first was moved to work for Dick Pack, head of local programming.  That, and all subsequent jobs were challenging and interesting, with a parade of unusual people, almost of all of whom I have lost contact, but many of whom I shall always remember.  Mr. Pack was very talented, and unique.  I always carried my steno pad with me as he would pass me in the hallway and say, “Pat, take a memo.”  He was the originator of he Tonight show.

Some highlights I remember.  Thanks to Dick Pack, I was able to watch one of the first transmissions of TV in color.  When the peacock tail unfurled, I literally gasped it was so beautiful.  Also, I worked on the crew for two presidential  elections.  The one I remember was when Truman beat Dewey.  I was working some sort of phone over which I received results which I wrote down and someone took to the announcers.  I remember H V Kaltenborn broadcasting that Dewey was winning, and I was sitting at my tiny information post thinking, “I don’t think so.?”  We were finally sent home in the wee hours of the morning.  When I came back to work at 9 am, people were still at work.  What an  upset!

Bobbi and I have often talked about the challenges of being a woman in the entertainment field at that time.  Neither of us remember being harassed in a sexual  manner.  We have had many a good laugh these past years thinking about quite a few men who very possibly might be worried in the current ambience of “me too,” etc.  There were some men with whom we were careful never to encourage.  One man would frequently ask us to his apartment for dinner, and we just laughed as we said no.  One would come into my office and say, “Aha, I have you cornered.”  I never sat still to find out if he was serious and I could move faster than he.  But neither of us can remember the kind of overt sexual threats we are hearing about today.

I worked from 1948 to the end of 1955.  Bobbi worked quite a few years more.  Then left with the Howdy Doody crew to form their own company.  Enid stayed much longer. She became a TV director and indicated harassment.  I always thought it was more aptly described as  discrimination because she was a woman,  in a mainly male-oriented job, and had  to fight her way up the ranks.

Certainly there was resistance, even perhaps open harassment,  against some women in certain jobs.  Bobbi was an accomplished production assistant, but was passed over by an inept man, just because they wanted a man in the job.  Some years later he was fired.

In publicity, I had good mentoring from my former boss, Dick Pack.  I never drank with the boys at the bar.  Entertaining the editors and columnists of the various NYC newspapers was essential to get the publicity coverage my boss wanted.  I always planned to do so for lunch or with the editor and his wife for dinner and theatre.  One entertainment editor did not like the heavy luncheons nor the booze,  so I suggested he get tickets to one of the hit movies, and I would bring a really good lunch.  We would meet at the theatre, watch the movie at lunch time.

What Bobbie and I remember is that we loved going to work.  We would get up in the morning and look forward to the day.  It was fun!  There were always lots of laughs.  Bobbi one day found some fake money in packs.  She took a trolley and rolled it down the hall, shouting, “Pay Day,” and throwing the money through the office doors.   One of the publicity guys would dance from desk to desk on Friday nights when we discussed where to go eat.  I doubt if any of this would be accepted today.  I felt we were paid OK.  I could afford a nice apartment in Manhattan, could eat in good restaurants., enjoy the good life in NYC.

My first apartment right out of Katherine Gibbs was a summer rental in an area called Hell’s Kitchen. We rented a furnished “railroad ” apartment.   I think the name came from the long hallway with bedrooms off the hallway.  This was not one of the better areas of NYC.  I am trying to remember my roommates , but there were four of us.  Today this area is an expensive area in which to live.  This was a summer rental.  Our landlord and his wife went someplace every summer. It was an experience to know him.  He told some very entertaining tales of his life growing up in this neighborhood.  What an education for this small-town Midwest girl.

In the fall, three of us rented a much smaller apartment on West 57th Street between 9th and 10th.  Any further west and we would have been in the river.  Still not a top neighborhood  It was very small, with only one bedroom.  But, we were “moving on up.”  The bedroom was really small, but we managed to squeeze in one single bed and one bunk bed.

Final stop.   I lived in a really attractive building in mid-Manhattan on Third Avenue  with a garden in the center and doors off the garden leading to various stores.  There was also a delightful  restaurant  in the building where for some reason college students would meet and sing.  Loved to hear them.  We assumed they had all been in singing groups in college .  The really plus part was that I could walk to and from work!

When I think of the problems my grandchildren have today living in NYC, I can only think,”How fortunate I was!”  Life is so much more expensive today!  All but one grandchild live in Brooklyn and take the long subway ride into Manhattan every day.

But there are always pros and cons in everything.  Living in NYC today is still exhilarating!  Much to do and see and experience .  The job market seems to be something else.  I do not sense the joy from them that I felt in the workplace.  I could be wrong.  Certainly women today are better educated than we were , more sure of themselves and what they can do.   The can aspire for better jobs and certainly have many more opportunities are available to them.    Each generation  has to, and will, make their own way.