Getting Off that Bipolar Express

Locomotive 142 - Delaware River Railroad Excursions

Photo courtesy of The Delaware River Railroad Excursions

Every time I turn around it’s Christmas. Whatever happened to those seemingly interminable days when that long wait for the seasonal magic and that big payoff on the 25th of December was more than any child could possible bare? Now I wish that I had it within my power to slow down that express train of time. At best, a very brief detour onto a siding is the most we can hope for before the conductor yells roll on. But still there is a lot time and space between the flicker of a flame, the notes of a song, the words on a page, or the turning of a wheel. All we need do is to look and to listen–and that time will be ours to keep.

We invite everyone to look and to listen as we share some of our favorite musings and memories from Christmases past.

candle_and_tankard Let us set the mood for the festivities by providing you with the recipe for the proper libation. Of course, we’re talking about a Smoking Bishop. Click here to listen to  a detailed history about the makings of this delightful English concoction. The recording was part of a radio broadcast of The Bleecker Street Cafe heard Fridays at noon over the airwaves and internet of WDVR-FM.

And now that your settled in front of the fire with your steaming bowl of the Bishop. Please enjoy The Bleecker Street Players from one of their more memorable past performances of  A Christmas Carol, recorded live at WDVR-RM in December of 2013. Click on the links below to listen or download. As always, we extend our sincerest apologies to the decedents and devotees of Charles Dickenschristmas_carol_logo

And what would Christmas be without a bit music? I’m happy to report that I have finally found a new favorite collection of holiday tunes. Bing Crosby has been relegated to the backseat in favor of singer/songwriter Ellis Paul. His release City of Silver Dreams is just absolutely wonderful! Please enjoy this live performance of Christmas Lullaby from that release.

And before you climb back aboard that fast moving locomotive of life, please receive into your heart this benediction from my compadre  and co conspirator in this venture, Ed Petersen.

christmas_benediction

Glasses Raised..Spirits Lifted…Journeys Shared

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

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Another Holiday in Harm’s Way

 

Christmas Truce Headline in the Seattle StarChristmas Truce 1914

 

Frank Stem was a faithful American patriot, an ardent fan of John Wayne, and someone who knew a thing or two about the harshness of winter below the 38th parallel. By the time I came to know this tough, seasoned Cold War combatant, the boys at the Pentagon had already moved our contest against communism from the frigid Korean peninsula to the soggy, steaming jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam. And Frank Stem had long since swapped out his M-1 Garand and Colt sidearm for a wooden pointer and a felt eraser. This soldier turned teacher now faced the daily threat posed by the longer hair and shorter skirts that filled the rows of desks at a fairly liberal leaning coed Catholic high school in northern New Jersey.

It was September of 1969 when I took my assigned seat in Mr. Stem’s classroom. While this tested warhorse would often espouse the benefits of military service, there was this soft side to his nature like that of the English headmaster, who worried about the fate of his own adolescent charges during the First World War, in the film Goodbye, Mr. Chips. And having acquired ample knowledge of American history along with a good dose of common sense, Frank Stem was probably a bit more inclined to heed the advice of those who had cautioned against getting involved in a land war in Asia. So in a schoolroom upon whose walls might hang a picture of the Duke on horseback, Neil Armstrong on the Moon, or Jimi Hendrix on the stage at Woodstock, this older warrior and his young aspiring activists would often find some middle ground. Unfortunately, in today’s political climate–that middle ground has become our own frightful version of no man’s land!

In the days leading up to Christmas in 1914, soldiers on both sides of the conflict abandoned their trenches and ventured onto that deadly stretch of ground along the Western Front–not for the want of war, but for the possibility of peace. As history has borne out on so many other occasions, there are wiser men among the ranks even when there are only fools at the top. And that simple fact holds true both on and off the battlefield.

I have no idea how Frank Stem would view the current standoff  at the 38th parallel. But my recollections of this intelligent, decent man lead me to believe that he, like myself, would be immensely concerned that the fate of so many lives are dependent upon the diplomatic skills of Donald Trump or Dennis Rodman.

In keeping with those other Christmases past, we at American Public House Review raise a glass to all our  men and women in the armed forces of the United States. We pray for their protection and safe return–and we look to that day when none of our soldiers will have to spend another holiday in harm’s way!

This haunting and poignant piece by John McCutcheon continues to capture that sentiment best.

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

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