John Delach

On The Outside Looking In

Month: November, 2016

Our Accidential Animal Sanctuary

Little House, the rural vacation home in Marlow, NH has been in our family since 1984. It sits off a dirt road three quarters of a mile from NH State Highway 10 (once known as the Dartmouth Highway.) Approximately one acre of the property is cleared but the deed shows the size of the parcel as being: “Ten acres more or less.” This vagueness is understandable as the overwhelmingly wooded part of the plot borders on a NH State Forest.


Over the years we have hiked through the woods many times especially in the fall when the weather is cool, dry and free of bugs. We have never encountered other critters except for the occasional deer or wild turkey and figured that the scents and noise of our Golden Retrievers kept other critters at bay. We never gave much thought as to what might be living in these woods.


Nope, we never gave it a thought until this past Labor Day when, John R, a college roommate of our son, Michael together with his friend, Dave, paid us a visit. John and Dave are hunters who hail from Billerica, Mass. John had researched this area and our land in particular as a possible hunting spot free from other hunters.


They asked our permission to hunt here once the season opened on November 7. We readily agreed; so John explained what they wanted to do was to fix a heat and motion – sensitive camera to a tree about 100 yards from the clearing. John explained, “That way we will learn what animals are back there and how often they come around.”


They returned several times in the following weeks to download the camera and John duly texted the photos to me. Surprisingly, over time the camera caught considerable activity including a black bear and her two cubs, a buck deer with an impressive rack, a female moose, a feral pig and a bobcat.


No doubt about it, we had been inadvertently operating an animal sanctuary practically in our back yard. Remarkably, over all those years and all the dogs (10) that had lived with us and our children’s families, only once did a dog encounter a critter. That was Maggie who suffered a serious stomach wound from what I took for granted was a raccoon. (The wound became infected and only the kind care by Dr. Ann at the Port Washington Animal Hospital saved Maggie.) But now, who knows for sure what she encountered?


John and Dave decided to try their luck on the opening weekend November 10 to 13. We offered them the use of our house as their hunting camp that they readily and gratefully accepted.


As the old saying goes though, once hunting season begins the animals disappear. They did manage to spot a large buck, but he must have spotted them too because he vamoosed not to be seen again…and so it goes. Oh well, there’s always next year.


A Death in the Family

Last Saturday afternoon, the Nassau County Poet Laureate Society honored my teacher by presenting members of his family with personal tributes by poets and writers. This is my interpretation of the man who taught me how to write. 


Maxwell C. Wheat Jr., poet, parent, preacher and man of peace.

Activist, protester, man of passion, letters, understanding and always; a poet.

Teacher, facilitator, critic, editor, advisor, arbiter, encourager, friend.

Witness excerpt from his eulogy to Pete Seeger’s genius saving the Hudson:


Now Pete Seeger belongs to his Hudson

His outreach of rousing songs

Are the frisky breezes, tall winds coming off the hills,

Touching, stroking the waved back of this 315-mile

Pleistocene invertebrate of a stream


He concludes his poem:


Pete Seeger’s song now parcel of the river’s song:

listen for his voice in the rustling of its autumn leaves,

listen for his voice in the rock slashing of the white capped waves.


Max often referred to his beginnings: reporter, New York Geneva Times Daily.

Assigned obits, his editor explained: “Human interest.” Max never forgot.

This from his poem about 9/11 he called, “Everybody Has a Story,”


Eamon McEneaney 46 in the first attack, 1992,

Led sixty three people down one hundred flights of stairs.

Senior vice president, brokerage firm, Cantor Fitzgerald.

Calling his wife at her office, shouting “Is Bonnie there?

I love her and I love the kids…”


He was – in the Newsday obit,

The ending of a poem to his wife:


“…The end

is a bend in the road

That we’ll never find

A death I will always


You from.”


Maxwell Wheat a man of peace who served his nation in the USMC,

Did his duty and yet espoused Whitman and Melville; do no harm.

First Poet Laureate of Nassau County, a national treasure:


Adios my teacher, my friend: Via con Dios!




Eastern Air Lines Redux

On October 27, 2016, a Boeing 737-700 had a close call while landing at LaGuardia Airport. The jet had been chartered to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Mike Pence, now Mr. Trump’s vice president-elect was on board at the time of this event.


A preliminary report that appeared in Newsday several days later stated that the engine spoilers had failed to automatically deploy as soon as the airplane hit the ground and the flight crew took four seconds to manually deploy them. In that short space of time, they also hit the brakes so hard that the 737 skidded off the runway and into the soft concrete slurry arrester bed. The report also noted that this aircraft had been chartered from Eastern Air Lines.


On reading this, I looked up the airplane to check its markings. It had two big names stenciled on both sides, TRUMP and PENCE, but it was a blue band that ran along both sides of the fuselage and up the tail that attracted my attention. Sure enough these markings were a double band of blue, light on top dark blue below; the same markings that the old Eastern Air Lines used in their many years of flying jets. That era lasted until January 19, 1991 when Eastern closed it doors and ceased all operations. Eastern was my domestic carrier of record for most of my business career and I previously wrote in 2014  about my many experiences flying on board that defunct carrier as part of a piece with the title: “Why I Hate Airlines:”


Once upon a time it seemed that I lived on Eastern Air Lines because they flew to all of the places where I peddled insurance; Richmond, Boston, DC, Miami, Atlanta, Mobile, Houston, San Juan and Bermuda. I was one of their Executive Travelers and a member of the Ionosphere Club when it mattered. That combination was so powerful that I knew the receptionist at the club in their JFK terminal on a first name basis. Her name was Helen and she always upgraded me to First Class. In fact, one morning back in the 1980s I arrived for Flight 807, the morning airplane to Bermuda, without my passport or even my driver’s license. Helen, asked, “What are you going to do Mr. Delach?”


“Well, Helen, I do have my company ID that has my photo and we have an office in Bermuda so I think that will work.”


“Okay, good luck but I’ll put you in first class as that could help.”


Imagine that encounter today. Long story short: It did work with a minimum of fuss both ways; getting past Bermuda Immigration onto the island and U.S. Customs and Immigration getting off.


But I watched Eastern go down under Frank Borman’s stewardship. In fact we had a running joke to describe how bad things became before Eastern went out of business: “Eastern is run by Frank Borman, but the way it is run you’d think it was being run by Martin Bormann.”


This new Eastern Air Lines began flying in 2015 as a charter operation based at the Miami International Airport. That Boeing 737-700 with the close call had been chartered to the Florida Panthers for use as their team plane before being chartered by the Trump organization. Eastern replaced it with a 737-800 for the rest of the campaign. That aircraft was the San Francisco Giants team plane.


But here’s the thing. The report in Newsday noted that the failure of the spoilers to automatically engage was a known problem and had not been working during the last three flights before the LaGuardia landing. The story noted that it was unknown at that time whether the flight crew was aware of this problem prior to the bad landing.


Sad to say, but it should be noted if maintenance is that slip-shod, the new Eastern Air Lines isn’t any better than the old Eastern Air Lines, perhaps worse…flyer beware!




A Sunday Afternoon in November

Now that the sun is up and the sky hasn’t fallen, I present to you my intended blog for today.


The weather was as perfect as predicted, clear, mostly sunny, morning temperature: 52 degrees, 60 to 62 at game time. A perfect day for the New York City Marathon but, more importantly, a perfect day for football. A One PM start: Eagles vs. Giants at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ- football doesn’t get better than this!


Joe arrived at my house at 7:43 AM. Dave was next and by eight we three were out of Port Washington cruising west on Long Island highways and over the Throgs Neck Bridge. Thank God for early Sunday mornings. We crossed The Bronx in ten-minutes, galloped over the George Washington Bridge onto I-80, the New Jersey Turnpike and made it into our tailgate parking lot by 8:40!


Festivities were already in progress, our mates who arrived before the parking lot opened at 8 AM had secured select spaces to park and tailgate. Let the cooking begin: Prosciutto Roll, Lox and cream cheese bagels and empanadas accompanied by Bill’s bloody Marys to kickoff our fourth tailgate of the 2016 season. Today, the New York Football Giants face our most sinister rival, the Philadelphia Eagles, a never ending vendetta. These two division rivals must play each other twice a year, every year until hell freezes over.


Grills are fired up, coolers mostly stocked with beer from exotic imports to Bud and Miller Lite abound. Shrimp cocktail, steak, brisket, burgers, clams, dogs, Italian sausages and peppers, Philly cheese steak sandwiches, boar sausages, knockwurst, etc, etc. We take joy in sharing this bounty and revel in our common love and our common cause; Heavenly Father, let us defeat, nay destroy the ugly bird from the City of Brotherly Love and let our beloved Big Blue advance. Amen.


The disputed presidential election two days removed is without meaning or consequence for the next six hours. No Clinton, no Trump; Giants against Eagles; we win –  we’re a contender – they win, 2016 is kaput for us. Got it? It’s that simple, we win, we go on – lose, the season’s over. As Doctor Mike once put it: “Just exactly, how is this election going to affect the outcome of today’s game?”


Shortly after noon, we broke down the tailgate and made our way though three different parking lots to reach Met Life Stadium, aka, the new joint. Not surprisingly, numerous Eagle fans were in attendance dressed in green and silver paraphernalia. We endure the triple lines of security, the price we pay to enjoy life in these dangerous times. I travelled with Joe, his brother Justin, Dave, my son, Michael and his son, Matt. Dave, Mike, Matt and I used our regular seats, in Section 108, Row 10, Seats 1-4. Joe sat with his brother, Justin in their seats at the other end of 108.


The league celebrated our armed forces in honor of next Friday’s Veterans Day. A massive American Flag was unfurled that covered almost the entire playing field for the playing of our national anthem that ended with an impressive flyover by three F-18 Hornets.


The Eagles won the coin toss and deferred, now the thing to do in the NFL.  The Giants offense did nothing going three and out and forced to punt. Then the fun began.  The Giants defense intercepted two of Carson Wentz’s passes on the first two Eagles possessions and Eli Manning turned both into touchdowns: Giants 14, Eagles 0.


So much for the easy part. From then on it turned into a slug fest. Both defenses played well and the Giants, particularly well. They stopped the Eagles on three out of four Fourth Down attempts and blocked a field goal.


At the end of the third quarter, the Giants were up, 28 to 17. I took that stoppage to make a pit stop. Excitement was at a fever pitch and I said to the guy at the next urinal, “That Wentz has a rifle for an arm when he throws short passes. We have to disrupt him, knock him on his ass as often as we can.”


At that point I turned toward him only to realize he was a guy about 50 wearing a white Eagles jersey. “Oh,” I remarked, “disregard that transmission.”


“Roger and out.” He replied.


With the score 28 to 23 the Eagles last scoring attempt ended with an incomplete pass thrown to the corner of the end zone right in front of us. A nail biter to the end but put it in the win column. High fives, hugs and joy.


We waited our turn to exit our section and made the long but happy walk back to the car for the traffic choked trip back to Long Island. I’ll miss next week’s game as it’s on Monday night and I don’t do night games. But Sunday, November 20 is another One PM start against the Bears so I get to do it all over again.


Go Giants.

The Day After

Welcome to Wednesday morning and I hope you are sitting down. Yesterday, Donald Trump pulled off an upset so improbable that it almost defies explanation. In other circumstances I would describe this election by writing: He trumped everything and anything we thought we understood about our political scene, but that comes across as being silly and redundant.


What an amazing turn of events. Many of you are shocked to say the least. Those of you who favored Hillary Clinton probably assumed today would be: “Oh Happy Day.” Instead, it’s the morning after the night before, a “what the F***” moment, when the unthinkable is reality.


How do you think I feel? I had a perfectly clever piece about my Giants victory last Sunday over the Philadelphia Eagles primed and ready to go. But…nooo! Do you really want to read a piece about football, a nice, warm autumn afternoon, a tailgate, good food, good friends and an exciting football game? I think not. You can hardly put one foot in front of the other, drink your coffee, pick up a newspaper or put on TV or the radio.


Instead, I find myself up at 4 AM putting this together in an effort to say to you: It’s okay, this too shall pass, the sun will come up and life goes on. Trust me, I know, I came of age in 1964 as a passionate follower of Barry Goldwater…and how did that work out for me? It’s always darkest before the entire world collapses in on you.


To all of the giddy and hung over trumpers and trumpettes, congratulations in what has to be one of the greatest upsets of all times in the history of our Republic. We have had mavericks before; Ronald Reagan, to mention one. But nothing like the Donald. He took on a field of 15 seasoned Republicans in a seemingly unending primary designed, may I say “rigged” to stop him and blew them away. Trump did stumble and he fell several times, inflicted himself with wounds but he rebounded over and over again.


In the general election campaign, most of the main stream network television stations, the press and The New York Times in particular tuned on Trump with a partisan vengeance to the point of their own embarrassment.


Through it all, he made his case to millions of voters disaffected with the system, people who seek another path, another chance.


And so it goes…on the second Tuesday after the second Monday in November of 2016 the people have spoken and elected Donald Trump, president of the United States.


The people have spoken. Let us unite. God bless America.


Of Trick or Treaters and Ragamuffins

Halloween has grown to be a significant American celebration. Outdoor Halloween decorations, lights, ghosts, gremlins, witches and more sinister exhibits mimicking zombies, werewolves and vampires decorate suburban front lawns. October 31 is second only to Christmas for outdoor displays, lights and decorations and the Halloween experience extends well beyond giving out candy, carved jack-o-lanterns, bobbing for apples and costume parties.


Trick or treating toddlers wearing popular comic book, TV and movie character costumes  go door to door shepherded by protective parents monitoring their safety in this potentially dangerous world. But after bedtime brings about their departure, the night gives way to curious, semi-occult costume parties featuring outfits and devices that once upon a time were considered occult or demonic.


I just don’t get what Halloween has become and find its celebration of lights and decorations to be bizarre. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Halloween celebrates death and the forces of satan. It is the antithesis of the Christian feasts of All Saints Day celebrated on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2 that honor and pray for the dead. I grew up Roman Catholic during the 1950s, the era of Pope Pius XII, Cardinal Spellman and Bishop Fulton Sheen when the good nuns of the Dominican Order, who treated Halloween akin to the black plague, ruled our lives at St. Aloysius grammar school.


In that era, Halloween was a day and night of mischief. By day, the bullies who took to the streets armed with socks full of ashes (we burned coal back then) or pieces of chalk broken apart under the wheels of buses or trucks. They descended on the rest of us in wolf packs to mark us wherever they could strike our bodies. Our only defense; run like hell to get home and hope other victims were slower.


Halloween night was for the hooligans. Older boys created controlled mayhem, but breaking into stores and homes was off limits. If they crossed that line, the local precinct cop made their life miserable. He knew his beat and how to find them. They knew if they went too far, they had no place to run, no place to hide.


So they limited their bad behavior to rude yet acceptable limits; knocking free the front gates and hosting them up utility poles, destroying the metal garbage cans left outside by forgetful landlords, egging parked cars or just getting drunk. Real destruction of personal or real property was out of the question.


In Ridgewood, Queens where I grew up, our time for begging was Thanksgiving morning and it was called Ragamuffin Day. I was reminded of this by a recent piece in the Metropolitan Section of The New York Times on Sunday, October 23.  Writing for the FYI Column, Tammy La Gorce reported that this odd practice began in 1870 after Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving as a holiday. “Basically, kids would go around, probably while their parents were creating the holiday meal, knocking on their neighbor’s doors and saying, ‘Anything for Thanksgiving?’ They were beggars. That’s why they were called ragamuffins. Pennies and apples and pieces of candy were the most common responses.”


It was mostly associated with New York City and continued until about 1950 when early television made it apparent that most of the country had switched to Halloween for trick or treating.


That is almost my recollection. I do remember going out on Thanksgiving mornings dressing as a cowboy while other kids dressed as superman, sailors (especially girls) and tougher kids as hobos. But I recall one big difference from the Thanksgiving scene that Ms La Gorce described: Substitute “women” for “parents” as to who was creating the holiday meal.


But where was the old man, in the local tavern getting an early start on the day. So that is where we kids came to realize where we should go to make our score.


It was a delicate balancing act. We had to get there early before other kids ruined it, but not too early. The goal; be the first in when the fathers were feeling generous and before other little snots became a pain in the ass. If we hit one saloon just right, that was a good day; two, a cornucopia of riches and once we struck out in a couple of gin mills, it was time to call it a day and wait for next year.