Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Churning now in our southern Atlantic waters off the Islands of the Bahama's is a fairly weak hurricane just getting its act together, and especially of interest to us, it's route northward. All eyes are on the charts which track hurricanes and tropical depressions because 100 miles east or west of a projected track could result in tremendous land damage and human upheaval.

An alarm was registered when the Mayor of South Miami told the World of the effects of higher sea levels on his city. During full moon on a clear day and calm seas salt water pushes up in the storm sewers and floods the streets of his city. In the last five years the average sea level heights have risen by five inches, an inch a year. At this rate the seas will be daily overflowing the town, let alone, swamping the area during a storm. Surely, South Miami wants to know which direction a hurricane is headed.

Further out is the affects a hurricane will have on New Jersey which still is recovering from the devastation of its last big storm. Nay Sayers, like their governor, are unwilling to accept science and act accordingly to mitigate devastation on human life and property. Their answer generally is : when other countries act, we'll respond. Kind of callus response to those who were caught in the last storm and didn't get equal justice by their state officials. Governments were created to think and act by taking into consideration a vast amount of important information an individual wouldn't be privy to.

What will Joaquin have in store for the USA is still a question mark ? Joaquin, right now, is thought to strengthen over the next few days before it hits the Great Northeast in early October. Even now the southern states are saturated with rainfall that's causing flooding and more rain would exacerbate the damage. Federal and state governments must react to weather but we're at a crossroad where they must go a step further and begin to act on climate change which is doggedly progressing and will change the World as our offspring have known it.

Pray for me & I'll pray for thee,
Ronald C. Downie

Monday, September 28, 2015

"Pray For Me"

Pope Francis is back on Italian soil at the Vatican after a whirlwind six day tour of of northeastern USA. It will take me some time to catchup on my thoughts he left with me. I tried to watch "gavel to gavel" episodes of his visit and absorb his teachings. Being an unreligious person, I value myself as a spiritual being anxiously open to well thought out homilies which came fast and furious from Pope Francis.

One striking impression that still harbors vividly in my mind is the stark difference between the piety of Francis contrasted with the fierce anger shown by front runner Trump in his commentary caught on television. It showed not only in his rhetoric but in his swatch buckling demeanor pointing thumbs down while dismissing a fellow candidate. The leader of over a billion congregants showed the World how to comport oneself while the ranting Trump displayed a style most attribute to a spoiled rich kid remembered from our youth.

"Pray For Me"
Ronald C. Downie

Friday, September 25, 2015

Females, Listen Up

Losing Yogi Berra, an icon of Major League Baseball, a man not only of deeds but also of memorable phrases, was muted this week by an American visit by Pope Francis. I'v been immersed in my television screen since the coverage of Francis began, not unlike, my fond interest of enjoying the exploits of so many years listening to and reading about Yogi.

Both aged men with only a little over eleven years separating them in age grew up in a segregated atmosphere. Their's was an all male society. Yogi's was in baseball which remains a bastion of male domination as does all major leagues of professional sports. The NFL has allowed some female participation in refereeing as has the NBA and there may be some inroads in female assistant coaches.

Pope Francis comes from a male tradition which extends from St. Peter through a linage of men to him, the 266th male Pope. Rigidly
entrenched these men were forced to uphold tradition over the millenniums but I foresee a time when women will rest away from men their unholy lock on the papacy or, at least, the priesthood.

Many women in our World have experienced their second class status in a subdued attitude forever but you can hear a stirring afoot. When these sounds gather into a tramp, tramp, tramping that stirs the earth with marching feet possibilities become realities.

Ronald C. Downie

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Anchored Dreams (1815 - 2015)

Europeans used muscled shoulders and arm strength
To paddle swift river waters upstream against the current,
Their sea journey, fully filled of fear, behind them now,
Sought beyond today, each tomorrow filled their dreams.

For eons, horizons were only seen by those in tribal dress,
Moccasin soft foot prints rarely compacted moist river soils,
But tracked those wilds along animal trails long of overuse.
Clash of cultures, lasting many Centuries, will this never end ?

Hamlets developed, adventurers weary of always on the move
Needed to settle, they chose a confluence of river and creak,
Like the Schuylkill where it accepts the Manatawny, was obvious.
Strong muscled flow of water harnessed to drive great stone wheels.

Grist millers needed farmers, both needed haulers and users.
In its infancy, communities struggled, seeking strength to endure.
A countryside full of families with hamlets of extended members
Were not communities; they buried their own, needed no preacher.

When people no longer did personal items for themselves,
Services were rendered by others : a barber, baker, butcher,
storekeeper, a preacher, and at the end of life, a grave digger.
Commerce erupts as people sell their time for a tradable sum.

Those engines of service got travelers to settle down in a pleasant,
Hospitable community. The need for organization became apparent
And was met by the Potts Family who formulated a town on paper.
They named it Potts Grove until it officially became Pottstown in 1815.

Shaken by a Revolution, she survived a Civil War, participated in
The First World War, and was seared by The Great Depression.
By then an engine of economic muscle, Pottstown spearheaded
A home front industrial movement, carrying USA thru World War 2.

The last seven decades, post WW 2, horrific turmoil was everywhere :
Korea, Vietnam, harnessing nuclear proliferation, the The Twin Towers,
Then quickly : Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, today, Iran's the problem.
Pottstown grew to 32,000 citizens, but now back down to 22,000.

From afar the World churns, but here, churning occurred from exodus:
Bypasses took cars, malls took people, and factories took employees;
Suburbs attracted home owners, professionals sought lower taxes.
Once the epicenter of industry and commerce, Pottstown left a shell.

White flight, green flight, religious flight followed each to the suburbs.
Left behind : the poor, indigent, and needy, all struggled to pay taxes.
Pottstown became a victim of Montgomery County's prosperity.
Once the engine of financial muscle, weary Pottstown limped on.

Community is a dream of people who can afford purchased services
While residing in an inhabitance close enough to easily access them.
Government needs to spend its energy on accommodating both.
This age old formula has worked as long as people gathered together.

In a changing World, a community is just like a canary in a mine ; it
Reflects change: change of weather patterns, of life styles, of policing,
Of services, and of social mores. It is a composite of the current ones
Who reside here. Communities are dynamic, they pulsate, are alive.

Pottstown is becoming established as a "College Town", a place
Where knowledge matters : our dynamic public school system, and
Wyndcroft, The Hill School, The Montgomery County Community
College. "A mind is too valuable to waste" is a Pottstown motto !

At one time, through Pottstown, a "north only" railroad operated,
No schedule, no tracks, just the trodden few seeking freedom's trail.
We have exhibited a resilience equal to the grit of our storied citizens.
Today, we'll hear from some of them, words of old, at rest many years.

Thank You,

Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Heard On The Street

I once, really more than once, heard hedge fund managers can care less if the stock market goes down, even a lot, since they make their money on market volatility not on stability. Up or down is their preference and rapid is their choice. Funny, what these money managers seek is opposite of what the common person on the street desires, which is market stability, upward and slowly.

The question arises : was this latest stock market fiasco orchestrated or did it react only to international money problems with China the focal point ? Investigative reporting will have to have time to do their work and may never come to an adequate decision. Again from Gran'Pa Downie's admonitions, "Money talks but bull s... walks !"

Big Money has a well oiled lobby in Washington, DC. that can spin a story anyway it pleases and until the public, you and me, get angry enough to elect representatives strong enough to squash these bugs nothing will get done. It is up to us at the ballot box, folks.

Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Citizen's Responsibility

What is a citizen's responsibility ? Responsibility is: to sound an alarm when, as in colonial days, the community faces eminent danger. I've spent the greater part of my adult life engaged in some aspect of public service, something I'll never regret. History will be the final arbiter as to whether I made a difference in the lives of citizens living in this borough, named Pottstown.

As a citizen, I wish to sound an alarm !

The borough must oversee the dredging and complete elimination of the silt islands now anchored in place with four foot tall vegetation that clogs up the west channel of Manatawny Creek, a creek that must flow under the King Street bridge, to drain waters from its upstream drainage basin.

Yes 1972 was caused mainly by the flooding of the Schuylkill River which has been alleviated by holding upstream flood waters in the Blue Marsh Impounding Lake. More likely today, the silt island upstream, under, and downstream of the King Street Bridge will cause flooding of Memorial Park ball fields, the island, and the new wading park. Along with them, many homes and businesses in close proximity to the Manatawny Creek have an all likelihood of flooding.

The creek bed is the only course creek water has to flow in that drains the entire upstream drainage area. Engineers designed the bridge to accommodate this estimated total flow. The King Street Bridge was designed to have two channels flowing under it, a finite gross amount of space to accommodate ordinary flows with enough space left over to take care of extreme rain events.

We live in changing times when normal rain events are exceeding experts' estimates by a long shot. Couple this phenomenon with a reduction in space that water has to free flow under the bridge, because of the silt islands full of vegetation, and a flood is its to be expected.

The tragedy is that a major flood could be avoided if town fathers demanded county officials take proper action. Years ago the county and the River Keeper we're instrumental in taking out the dam below High Street claiming no ill effects would come of its loss. Well, when in the dam was in, it caused slack water to occur far up stream from the bridge where silt deposited, not at it, as it does today.

I implore town officials take immediate action to study the existing condition of the Manatawny Creek and to develop an action plan, not only eliminate these islands but, if possible, eliminate the reason that islands build up in the first place. This is my "Citizen's Alarm" ! Please take action !

Ronald C. Downie

Friday, August 7, 2015

Living In Fear

My life started in 1935 : as a youngster, if my parents' conversations weren't about the aftermath of the Great Depression, they lamented about the dark clouds over Europe indicating an escalation of German incursions into surrounding countries. America entered the Second World War as I entered grade school where my schoolmates and I practiced drills to crouch under our desks so we could ward off targeted fascist bombs.

For the rest of my life killing fields of war have occupied TV and the news papers with little respite from illustrated horrors sent out over the media. All my adult life I've been known as a tough guy and in sports, life, and business I've propelled this image. Although, my life has lived fully up to this image, down deeply, I've lived with a fear of the unknown especially through the years of global nuclear proliferation.

I'm no longer concerned with my life, it's coming to an end and I know it. But, as with all living organisms, life is a continuum. New generations sprout from the present one and, as this is repeated again and again, the species lives on. My concern is for my offspring that they will be able to live until they reach a normal lifespan.

It's the crazies of this World which trouble me. No longer are we in an era of the Great Khan, Genghis, who once ruled a quarter of the World.
His hordes defeated a tribe, killed the males, bred the females, stole their treasure, and burnt to the ground their buildings. It's simpler today, young looking servicemen and women in a hardened silo deep in the ground have a key, a screen, and a phone connection. Their orders are drummed into their heads. I'm sure there must be fail safe directives in their orders but, "if things can go wrong - over time they will go wrong" is a truism found often in the business world's dialog.
I may be too impressionable having lived my life fearful of the unknown consequences that the thought of war brings. One mistake can trigger "mutual assured destruction" that may trigger a life ending Nuclear Winter. The weight of conflict seems to be an ever growing burden on humanity and it seems to me that only through human dialog can the unthinkable be avoided.

Ronald C. Downie