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My Coach


In the early 1960s during my undergraduate years I had the good fortune to go to college on an athletic scholarship. As a varsity fencer on the University of Detroit Fencing team. Go Titans! The épée was my weapon of battle. Mr. Richard Perry was my coach. 

As a fencer I was a middling performer. I did, however, win a gold medal in an individual tournament for unclassified fencers sponsored by the AFLA, Amateur Fencing League of America. There was also a tournament where my performance was the tie breaker. And I was the big winner at a restaurant at supper with my team mates once upon a time. More on my storied past later. But, all in all, not too shabby.

Below is a photo of me from the U of D 1964 Tower yearbook. Also, my good buddy Tom Kostecke. More about our exploits further along in this article.


Looking around in my history to find singular subjects to write about, I realize that Coach Perry was a very important figure in my education as an athlete and as a man.

Coach Perry was not just about training us to be successful competitive fencers (at which, by the way, he was a master teacher). But also, he held it equally his responsibility to us to build good character and to inculcate lessons on the enduring life values; things like sportsmanship, teamwork, integrity, optimism, good cheer, loyalty, confidence, self-respect, dependability, work ethic, and even how to eat like a gentleman at a fancy restaurant. I remember his inscription on my graduation year team photo, ever encouraging and reassuring that I could do anything I set out to do if I put my mind and heart to it. Thank you, Coach Perry. I’m getting there.

We even had some training in everyday diplomacy and tact in the face of adversity. On the many weekend trips for matches away from home turf, those who got to ride in the coach’s drafty station wagon were treated to the continuous production of richly scented smoke from his never ending supply of Brindley’s Mixture pipe tobacco. It’s a classic, still sold today. If you want to share the team’s experience driving through the cold night in the coach’s drafty car, get some Brindley’s Mixture and smoke a big bowl full in a small room seated next to an open window in the dead of winter. If you have one, a small fan blowing into the room will complete the experience.

Oh, and I think I remember that he had a preference for classical music. I’m sure he was completely convinced that he was doing a good deed and exposing his boys to the cultural refinements of life. Boys, however, will be boys. Suffice it to say, it was a combination of variables that tested a young man’s tact to the limit. But, youth is resilient. No one let on or complained. The team was too large to fit into one car, so we usually borrowed a dad’s vehicle or got a rental. There was a rather definite, if nuanced and tactful competition to ride in the second car. There, the rule was rock and roll and permission to speak freely. I remember once even interrupting the festivities for everybody to hear the latest new sensation on the car radio, The Beatles, coming in loud and clear in the night ethers from WBZ Boston.

Coach Perry was a rather tweedy fellow, professorially so. Besides the Brindley’s Mixture and the classical music on his car radio, a singular memory is the loden green Tyrolean felt hat, the kind with the cord band and the ornate panache with assorted feathers and boar bristle brush. The Coach I think prided himself in being resourceful, and I wonder if he in fact didn’t use that bristle brush to work up his shaving lather. I haven’t seen the old guy in a while and I wonder if he still sports that trademark fedora. I’ll bet, if he does, there are more than a few medals festooned on it.

I want to certainly credit the Coach for establishing the Fencing Team as enduring presence in the college athletic program. Football had been dropped from the athletic department and basketball ruled. [Dave Debusshere and Charley North were amazing in the early 1960s.] At the time in the early years of the fencing program the Athletic Department may not have been all that supportive, particularly financially. The coach I suspect did his battle with the higher ups and shielded us from the harsh realities of keeping fencing alive. Today the university is proud of its successful and dynamic fencing program. Thank you, Mr. Perry.

As I mentioned, we travelled to away competitions. Setting off on Friday afternoon, fighting the matches on Saturdays and back home by Sunday evening. From Detroit we travelled as far south as Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. West to Indiana, Iowa, and even up to Madison, Wisconsin. East to Oberlin and Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburg. North, not that far to go to meet Michigan State.

We arrived at Duke late one Friday evening. What a beautiful campus. Like the grounds of some medieval village it seemed to me. My buddy Tom Kostecke and I managed to get an after-hours tour of the chapel there. In fact, the organist who opened the locked door for us even played a little for us. It was like a dream being in that rare and exotic place. I believe they call it a chapel; it’s a cathedral really.

In one weekend we managed to have matches with the University of Iowa in Iowa City and Iowa State in Ames. One thing I remember about that trip was the breakfast at a truck stop. Words to the wise from the coach, “If you want a good meal, go were the truckers go.” All for something like $2.50 I had orange juice, coffee, a big glass of milk, oatmeal, eggs, hash browns, bacon and toast. Maybe even a slice of pie. I don’t recall exactly. Kids in college have bottomless stomachs.

In Indiana we once competed with Notre Dame. That may be a good school, but they are my most loathed of athletic opponents. They were arrogant and cocky coming onto the floor, during the match, and leaving. They were good and beat us handily. But keeping that game face on all the time. As hosts they were the worst. When you compete in sports, you get to know one another’s character. Notre Dame, not so much. I’m sure that some good souls must have matriculated from there, but then I think of Regis Philbin. (I kid.)

At the University of Wisconsin in Madison in my senior year I had my moment of crowning glory. In a collegiate team there are three weapons: saber, foil, and épée. They differ in weapon design, style of play, and body target areas. For each weapon there are three team members competing, a total of nine players on each team. Each competitor fights all three from the opposing team. That means there are 27 bouts, and the team that gets at least 14 wins the match.

At that match in Madison I remember having finished two of my three bouts with our team score on the cusp of victory at 13 to 8 or 9. Naturally, with only one bout needed to win the match I felt confident we would win and felt no pressure coming into my own last match. Well, as I sat there watching the play, the score kept changing, but on Wisconsin’s side only. Finally, and to my shock, we were at 13 to 13 with one match to clinch the tournament. And guess who that honor fell to: C'est moi. You have to know that I was not all that top a performer and my senior year was rather sketchy up until that point. But, remember I did hint that this would be my pinochle [or is it “pineapple,” Mr. Gorsey? This is an obscure cinematic reference which you either get or you don’t].

So here’s how it went. The épée is a weapon with an electrically actuated tip. A touche can be scored anywhere on the body. [Coach Perry insisted that the main target in épée is the wrist. It’s the closest vulnerable spot. Points can be scored anywhere else on the body; but if, for example, you are able to hit the chest, you’re just too close defensively.] The one place that a point can’t be registered is on the weapon itself. An epee has a large round guard (to protect that wrist, remember) and it gets a lot of hits there. So, before the start of the match the competitors have to check each other’s weapon to verify that the guard is grounded, won’t register if hit. During this transaction, my competitor—who I recall went to the NCAA fencing finals—gets real close and whispers, “I feel sorry for you.” My reposte, “Let’s fence.” He lost the bout right there and then. Trash talk is for pussies.

Because the match went down to the proverbial wire, with mine being the deciding bout, there was a good bit of jubilation with the win and after all the suspense. Coach Perry and I were carried off the floor into the locker room on the shoulders of the team. Nice, huh? In the locker room we enjoyed champagne. Tom Kostecke and I, buddies in crime, had secreted a bottle of the bubbly for just such an occasion. Speaking of crime, Tom went on to be a G-Man and is currently a Private Eye. I asked him why he wanted to get into that field and he said that he liked to get to carry a gun and wear a badge. Well, OK!

My weapon throughout my competitive carreer was the épée. But Coach Perry had the idea that because I was a big guy, the saber would also be a good fit. During one summer he gave me private lessons in the saber. A cardinal point in defense with the saber is to always come back to en garde with the guard of the weapon facing outward to your side. In that position any attack to that side is by default protected. I say that is a cardinal rule because the coach drilled on it on every move. Since it was summer and very warm, I wore a t-shirt not the typical thick protective canvas jacket. The other thing about the saber you should also know is that the blade is very flexible. Think, metal whip. So every time I would go back to the en garde position the Coach would come back with a solid whack to my defended side. I mostly got it about the importance of the ready position; but that flexible blade made it around more than a few times and I went home with a nice collection of welts as tangible reminders to, as they say, keep my guard up.

Saber of the three weapons most resembles a fight. To be good at it you have to be an aggressive fighter. I am quite sure that, without having said so directly, Coach Perry was also attempting in those taps on the shoulder to get my boil up. It takes a lot to unleash the monster that lurks in the heart of this good boy. I always say that my downfall was that I was a good boy. Now I realize that all of it, what in you is both good and bad, is there to be used. Appropriately so, to be sure; but all of it nonetheless.

It seems that in reminiscing about my days as a varsity fencer and Coach Perry, the road trips are prominent in my recall. As I said, the Coach was into the making of the whole man and we had our training in the social graces on every trip.

Each of us got a small stipend for expenses on each road trip. The Coach appreciated the good life and so we sought out the best restaurant in each town to have our team big night out. In Indianapolis we dined at the King Cole Restaurant and I remember enjoying a most decadent Strawberries Romanoff. Whenever we could we would stop at Win Schuler’s Restaurant in Marshall, Michigan. At Win Schuler’s you sat down to house appetizers of Swedish meat balls in gravy, a big celery/radish/olive plate, and that crock of spicy cheddar cheese spread. Lots of different kinds of breads. Some rolls got tossed around and the Coach was a good sport about that. College guys eat big. At the time at Win Shuler’s they had a deal that if you could polish off their generous cut of roast prime rib of beef, you could have another for free. I did. A champ at last.

One time in an unexpected and rather personal moment Coach Perry got me aside and made me promise that if I saw that as he aged he was becoming senile, I would say something.

Well, Coach… Keep on goin’, you’re lookin’ good.

PS
After attempting to get in touch with Mr. Perry through the Athletic Department at the University of Detroit Mercy I learned from the Athletic Director there that he had passed away in 2005. "...he is still remembered dearly by many and even has the Olympic Sports Hall of Fame area in Calihan Hall named in his honor."

I'm thinking again of his private lessons with me to make me into a saber man. And those whacks to the arm. As a teacher now myself I understand that there are lessons that are given, more in the doing than in the saying. I don't know what Coach Perry saw in me at the time, but his actions were, and still are, powerfully instructive to me in the broad life context.

Even then I knew that somehow those whacks to the arm to confirm my defense in the en garde position in saber had more in them than just drilling in correct form into muscle memory. I realize those slaps were attempts to open me to my inner strengths. In terms of saber, to tap into my aggressive and assertive power. In me, those strengths were held in check, bottled up, kept there from days of being a good boy, going along sometimes to the disregard of my inner message, and living under the rule of "children should be seen and not heard." As children we all have to learn to conform to the prevailing conditions. Hopefully, along the way, we have the fortune to learn from wise teachers how to live not only appropriately to the times and circumstances, but also authentically, true to our inner voice and true to the situation, clearly seen.

There is a quote from the Gnostic Gospels attributed to Jesus: "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." Not to make too much of a point about his excellence as a teacher, but the point has not been lost on me even after all these years.

In gratitude, Mr. Perry.


From Todd Dressell, Head Coach Men's & Woman's Fencing, University of Detroit Mercy:

David,

Thanks for your note. Your memories of Maestro Perry are very similar to my own.

When I started Fencing at Oakland University, I knew him as the “Old Man” from UDM. He comforted me during a competition when a strip accident resulted in my broken sabre going into my opponent’s leg. He was a very kind man. Later when I opened a fencing club, Maestro was the first man I called to get his advice and input. He taught me how to lead a team of fencers, how to be patient and wiley. He was a very clever man. I have a photo in our practice room it is a fencer Terrell Reber fencing at a home meet. In the foreground, there is Terrell, the coach at the time Roz Boghikian refereeing with several bouts going on up and down the arena floor. In the background, out of focus but unmistakable, is Maestro Perry; sitting on the bleachers with a fencer, hands in front showing/explaining something or another. In my fencing room he is always there, in the background. He always enjoyed the background, and watching the result of his teaching, guidance or engineered situations. He was a very wise man.

Me To Coach Dressell:

Yes, I remember, he liked "Maestro."

His arch rival during my time on the team was the coach at Wayne State University, Isvan Danosi. (He also passed away in 2005.) He was also called “maestro” by his fencers. A very flamboyant Hungarian gentleman who held himself with a kind of 19th Century noble bearing, thick accent. And, the exotic name to back it up. Maestro Danosi seemed to relate to Coach Perry as if on some higher plane. Maybe it was just his demeanor only. Even so, Mr. Perry surely must have felt his equal having that title “maestro” for himself.





Matzo Brei That Fits

Matzo Brie is a Passover dish that you shouldn’t pass over for anytime of the year. Literally, Matzo Brie means fried matzo.
I learned to make this excellent dish from the source. On Rivington Street, in lower Manhattan, from the ladies at Streit’s. Since 1925, so they should know from matzo, brei and otherwise. Not the ladies from 1925; the operation, Streit’s. But, come to think about it, I got my lesson from those old birds sometime around 1975, so maybe they were in fact originals from the beginning of the company itself.
If you ever want to see something that you will never see under any other circumstances, get a bunch of old Jewish women and ask them how to make a signature Jewish food. As with any group of culturally proud people, the ladies at Streit’s waged a subtle but obvious competition for who would be the one whose recipe would emerge as the one I would take away. Mind you, I had no entre there other than coming in to buy a box of matzos (or, is it “motzoi”?). Meantime, my then wife, the former Mrs. Wronski and my two little lovely daughters waited patiently outside in the trusty Land Rover 88. I think all they ever knew was that hubby/daddy was going into some store to buy some crackers. (The former Mrs. Wronski was from down South—DAR in fact—and I think of her every time I come within a five foot radius of a Saltine. That’s one salty cracker.) So now the full story will be known and, hopefully, passed on down to the grand kiddies.
I lived for a short time in South Miami Beach at the old Chesterfield Hotel. It’s still there, but not so old. In my time the hotel catered to Brazilian tourists, a crack whore and her pimped boyfriend, and Snow Birds from Canada. The latter were mostly Jewish folks, and the ladies (I don’t know if it’s a Jewish thing?), they also got into a competition over winning my heart with little bubulas (sweeties) of all sorts. But it was the dear Rose Edelman next door to my apartment in recalling whom as I write this brings heart shaped tears to my eyes. She invited me over to share her Passover Seder. No competition, just friends. She told me she had once lived in a Catholic convent in Brooklyn and made those hand crocheted borders surrounding holy pictures. I had her make me one for a small picture of my Guru. She also knitted me a meditation asana. I used it for some time then sent it back to her with the wish that it would be a comfort to her in her last days. God bless my dear Jewish Rose.
I also learned a fair amount of Yiddish apropos. Even a little bit of the Jewish soul may have rubbed off. Mostly, when someone says “how’r ya doin’?” the standard social grease is to say “fine.” But my Jewish soul cries out for something more human of an encounter, not just ships in the night. So now, when I hear “How are you doing?” you’ll hear me say “Ehh?” Or, if I’m in a particularly feisty mood, the truly soulful, “How should I be doing?” So call me pisher? I do try to be a mensch.
Matzo Brie, oh yes. I won’t go into the whole spiel. Ms. Martha Stewart has done the definitive coverage and it is appended to this recipe. (You call this a recipe, you are probably saying impatiently banging your spoon on the mixing bowl?)
Matzo Brei That Fits

I got that from the idea of kosher itself; i.e., fit to eat. Yes, a Jewish punster, I am.
Matzo Brei is made with matzo, water, whole chicken eggs (we are so foodish these days that you have to specify the kind of egg you be talkin’ ‘bout.), and a pinch of salt. That’s it.
Just be advised that there are as many variations on Matzo Brei as there are cooks, and the topic is as heated as a bowl of Chile at Terlingua. But definitely not so spicy. (Note to self, write the recipe for Polecat Chile I got from my Houston buddy John Geddie and served it at a block party in Park Slope, Brooklyn.)
So let me deconstruct Matzo Brei a bit. There’s the basic recipe that I’ve outlined above. From that you have to choose direction, sweet or savory. If sweet, then the key step would be—duh? (Winning!) some sweetener. A small dose of sugar for starters. If you want to go savory, then we add some ground pepper if you like (How many different kinds of pepper do you have in your pantry?) at least, and maybe some caramelized (formerly known as “browned”) thin sliced onion.
Those are the platforms for either the sweet or the savory kinds of Matzo Brei. I will defer to Ms. Stewart or that boychick Mr. Mark Bittman for the full elaboration of the many evolutions after that. (See appended videos below.)
But really keep it Jewish, keep it simple. We are all crossing the desert in a very real sense, but not maybe literally as in the Old Testament. Travel light.
Matzo Brei That (Finally!) Fits

Ingredients

Matzo… 2 whole square pieces per serving
Crush matzo into bowl by hand (Irregular size pieces are expected, to your liking. But not so small as a schtickle.)
Add ½ - 1 C hot water to moisten the matzo. Very important, not too mushy, not too dry. Think Goldilocks; just right. Practice makes perfect.
Eggs beaten… 1 jumbo egg per serving
Pinch of salt*

Preparation

Combine well
A shallow wide sided sauté pan


Frying

Use a pan sized appropriately for the serving size. The resulting “pancake” should be ½ to ¾ inch thick. (Single serving: 8”diameter pan, 2-4 servings: 10”, larger: 14”.)
Melt butter to active bubbling stage (About 6-7 mischigauss points on the butter bubblogaussometer, metric; ok, bubula? If you need a bubblogaussometer I sell them for $495 plus S&H in white, and off white, and off off white. $795 full tilt stainless. You won’t be disappointed.)

Pour the mixture into fry pan (It should go in as a loose heap that needs a little nudge to spread into a circular pancake/frittata kind of thing.)

Let it cook for a few minutes until the bottom is set and there’s a nice browning developed. Then, toyne** it over and finish the other side. Toyne it over: Here’s the trick. Be sure you have a hot pad and long sleeves in case there is some hot oil spill. Place a kitchen plate face down into the pan. Then invert so the half cooked Matzo Brei is now uncooked side down on the plate. Slide it back into the pan to finish the other side. It’s very easy, just do cover your arm when flipping half way through the cooking process.

Slide out the Matzo Brei onto a plate and serve immediately, if not sooner. Serve side B or side A; depends which looks better for serving. (Hey, let’s keep those kitchen secrets.***)

Enjoy! Eat! So you won’t be hungry.

Disclaimer: There seems to be also a divide about what your Matzo Brei should look like on the plate. We prefer the whole pancake treatment. Some do a scramble. The pancake is in our opinion the more elegant version. So, do as you will; but, boychick, you could make the effort.


*Just what the heck is a pinch of salt? I had a very prudish Aunty who would never conscience a “pinch” of anything, not even salt. Her husband was a seafaring man, an old salt, and he stayed out to sea for long periods of time. Always a smile to leave, very sober to return. No pinches at home, probably. But, for you sinners, a “pinch of” in kitchen parlance is what fits between your two fingers. About the same equivalent amount of sand that accumulates between your toes at the beach.

**There’s the story of Mr. Willigstein who at 85 wants to go to visit his long lost sweetheart in Miami. So he should have the peace of mind, he makes an appointment with Dr. Berger for a complete, state of the art check up. “Vell, Mr. Willigstein, we have completed all your tests and I am happy to tell you that you, you are a poyfect specimen. Go to your haneybunch in Miami. Mozel tov. No sooner does the ecstatic man leave when the nurse frantically barges into the doctor’s office, “Dr. Berger, Dr. Berger. That Mr. Willigstien who just had his check up. He, he, dropped dead right outside your office door. What should we do?” “Oy vey! It's 'Stein, Stein', not 'Stien!'” Then a little pause and some chin rubbing… The good doctor solemnly pronounces his prescription, “Vell, foyst we toyne him a-r-r-round, so he looks like he’s comin’ in!”

***A fine lady who I once knew, Geraldine by name, told the story of one Thanksgiving dinner when the maid, to much excited anticipation, brought the beautiful big turkey out of the kitchen into the dining room. As soon as she cleared the door she slipped and the golden fowl fell right on the floor. Flags were down for that foul. Without skipping a beat, Gerry said “It’s ok, just pick it up and take it back to the kitchen. And, then bring out the other bird.” (Kitchen secrets.)



The Candy Kitchen
Poletown, Detroit
Eastertime
And Me, the Kid

Watercolor on paper (18 x 24) courtesy of multimedia artiste Michele T. Fillion
(Scanned image darker than beautiful original.)
There is something waiting for you at the very end of this. If you are not in the mood to wramble right now, so go there, please. But, there are some other presents along the way. Guaranteed to please. And, hey, I didn't write this for my health. Reading is good for your brain. 

I grew up in a neighborhood of the Detroit inner city known as Poletown, the famous community of Polish immigrants first settled in the 1870’s. Almost all of it was flattened in the early 1980’s to make way for economic development. They paved paradise and put up a… Cadillac factory.

The whole of Poletown was razed to accommodate the new Cadillac plant. Up until that time the existing factory in another part of town was a very antiquated multi-story structure and the new plant was constructed in the modern, more efficient single level design. At the time, the then mayor planned placing the new factory in that spot as an urban development project and as an important tax revenue source for the city.

[There’s the story of a low wage working stiff in Detroit who saved and scraped up his whole life to buy a brand new Cadillac when he retired. On that happy day as soon as he took ownership and drove it off the dealer’s lot, a persistent irritating knocking noise developed. He brought the shiny behemoth back to the dealership to fix, but nothing could be found. After many more visits and not a little expense, the exasperated fellow had the service center literally tear the car apart. They finally found it. There inside the door was a loose nut, but not a piece that was part of the car. Tied to the nut was a note: I hope you have a hard time finding this, you rich sonofabitch!]

I recently learned in looking into the history of the demise of Poletown that the church of my baptism, Immaculate Conception, was the site of a sit-in protest against the razing of the neighborhood and all the forced relocations. None other than Mr. Ralph Nader joined the campaign to save Poletown.

"On Bastille day, July 14 1981, the police assembled an armada of forces and at daybreak began to seal off the neighborhood preparing to evict those occupying the church.”

The Immaculate Conception Church was a small gem in my old neighborhood. My grade school was directly across the street and we went to Holy Mass every school day. I was an altar boy there and even had to serve at Mass during the summer months. There is a lot of church deep in my blood. Read Why Can't I Be Good for more of my Catholic school daze.

The centerpiece of the altar was a most beautiful and graceful life sized statue of the Blessed Mother. I visited Detroit recently when we had a funeral service for my mother. Saint Hyacinth is the church where my mother was married and it seemed fitting to have her Detroit family and friends congregate there for her memorial service. A very nice surprise I found there was a small chapel niche where the statue of Mary from Immaculate Conception is installed. Along with her flanking angels and some sections of the communion rail from the demolished church.
The side altar including statues of the Blessed Mother and angels from Immaculate Conception.
Saint Hyacinth Roman Catholic Church 3151 Farnsworth Detroit (Poletown) Michigan
But, when I was a boy, Poletown was also my hood. And a certain candy shop was my church of sweet refuge. There are so many other deeply felt and precisely recalled memories of that neighborhood. But I want to remember one that was for me as a boy an integral part of the richness of life, and particularly so during the Easter season: The Candy Kitchen.

The Candy Kitchen of my youth is also gone. I don’t know if it closed when the owners retired, but I do know that it is buried somewhere under the Cadillac Poletown factory. It was located on a corner at the intersection of Chene and Trombley streets. Across the street from the Chene and Trombley Lanes where I learned to bowl, when school boys worked as pin spotters, and on Friday evenings there was an excellent fish fry on the restaurant menu.

And just down a few doors was the barber shop where most of my preteen hair was shorn. I mention that place because of some vivid memories. I recall how it was lined with mirrors on each side of its length. The effect was psychedelic, you could look and see a progression of reflections out to infinity. Do you ever wonder what is there when one mirror faces another? Kind of like... if a tree falls in the woods and you're somewhere else (or, a bear is in the woods and does something, who would know what is was like?). My brother's friend Bob had this ultra cool flat top brush haircut. His was particulary excellent because he had this major widow's peak at his front hairline and it made the flat top look, well, really cool. Bob said he went for his hair cut at a shop that was the mecca of flat tops, specialized in them. My own barber could never quite get it to my satisfaction. When you say flat top, you want FLAT on top. Capiche, Italiano? Once out of his own exasperation with me, and taking advantage of his adult status, he embarrassed me in front of all the waiting clientele by putting, really plopping, a telephone book on my head to guage the flatness. I didn't have the nerve to press further to tell him that a telephone book doesn't lay flat, on your head anyway.

The last thing about the barber shop — I promise to get you along to the end of this soon—was the magazine selection. Where else but the barber shop could a boy get a glimpse of what we now call, adult content. I remember Terry Moore and her tight angora sweater; so nicely filled out all pert, perky and pointy. Just to recall how those were simpler times, I also remember myself handling a tabloid that claimed the front page headline was impregnated with LSD, and all you had to do was to go home and place the page in some ethyl alcohol and drink it to get the effect. Holy Cow! Those were the days. Psycedelic, for sure. (The newspaper was later denounced for giving bad instructions about the kind of alcohol to use. Something about it being poisonous. Nothing that I recall about the LSD. Hey, kids. Just say NO to babershop reading material!)

Continuing along... When I was a grade schooler we lived on the East Grand Boulevard near Trombley. The Candy Kitchen was a short four block hop from my house on Chene Street. After schoolwork on many an evening I would trek through the night — even in the dead of winter, snow up to here — to enjoy a delicious banana split at the mecca of wonderful sweetness.

The Candy Kitchen must have been there from the early 1900’s. A lot of towns have a shop called the Candy Kitchen. In St. Louis still chugging along there is the Crown Candy Kitchen that dates back to 1913.
 Images from Crown Candy Kitchen St. Louis
At a place with that name you can expect to find all kinds of goodies, but mainly a wide variety of homemade chocolates. There’s probably an owner operator, some old timer in the back who’s been at it for a lot of years. And, unless someone from the new generation steps up to take over, the place will probably close when the maestro retires.

My Candy Kitchen was a big brick corner building, with display windows on either side of the center door. The left window usually featured colorful candies of all kinds, but it was the window to the right that was the showstopper. Come Easter the display on the right side was the zenith of the chocolatier’s art. More on that in a moment.

Inside was a huge space with a high tin paneled ceiling and floors covered in those old fashioned glazed ceramic hexagonal white tiles with black borders and accents. On the right as you entered were the oak and beveled glass cases filled with an assortment of all types of handmade chocolate bonbons. On top of the cases and on the shelves in back were huge jars filled with a rainbow of colorful sugary treats. One jar that I visited often was the one with rock candy. One of my favorite fascinations, rock candy, translucent crystals of pure sugar formed around thin white strings. How’d they do it?

The back of the store was separated by a white lattice gazebo style partition. Potted palms, here and there. In the center back there were tables and along the walls booths painted white and in the same gazebo motif. I never ever saw anyone sitting there and I imagined there were ghosts from an earlier time when bobby soxers would come in after school and hang out nursing a soft drink and listening to bebop on the juke box. The kind with the real bubble lights and actual vinyl discs. Or, in an even earlier time, when a fella would take his gal for a date and linger over a shared milk shake with two straws and some innocent flirtation.

On the left side of the shop in front was a small showcase with packaged items such as gums and Life Savers and such and the cash register. But the crown jewel of the whole shebang was the soda fountain. About eight or so floor-mounted high stools set before a bar of solid swirled gray marble. Right behind was the usual wet bar set up replete with sweet condiments and syrupy flavorings. Naturally, there was a fancy dispenser tap with plain water and fizzy soda. Not the flavored soda like now, just (2 cents) plain seltzer. The syrups were added to order.

And, finally, up against the wall an elaborate carved wood built-in of dark mahogany done in the art nouveau style. A counter set up with glassware, a milk shake blender, and a dispenser of malt powder for those malted milk shakes. Straws and the ever present jar of foot long pretzel sticks. And behind it all, 3 large expanses of mirrors framed in finely carved wood. A palace. An altar?

Whenever I visited the Candy Kitchen there were two people in charge who I would always see there. Besides the pièce de résistance front Easter window, those two were amazing to behold. From my young point of view both the man and the woman were in their early 30’s. Both had jet black hair, well groomed, and always dressed in black and white. He with black slacks and a crisp white shirt, sleeves rolled up to do serous ice cream scooping. She with a close fitting long black skirt, a tight belt, and frilly white blouse buttoned right up to the neck. He had a barrel chest, a swarthy mustache, and the large hooked nose of a sinister swashbuckling pirate. Her luxurious dark hair was done up flamboyantly with fancy combs, ruby red lips, and lots of dark eye makeup. Also, quite a chest, herself. Woof! I imagined they were a married couple. It’s just that they didn’t look like the sort that you would find in a quaint candy store. They were "muy" sexy and very mysterious. Adding to the mystery, they never spoke to me (or to one another when I was there) except to ask me what I wanted. And they always prepared my ice cream sundae or banana split with meticulous care.

Particularly on those winter evenings that I remember going there, imagine this young kid sitting at the counter making love to his ice cream delight and these two theatrical figures waiting on me who looked like they were right out of central casting in some Mickey Spillane pulp steamer. I took due notice, but the dish in front of my face commanded my full attention.

So now to the Easter window at the Candy Kitchen.

After taking you by the long scenic route I am now confronted with the task of paying off the reader’s expectation with a description full of wonder and awe. My powers of painting with words have limits. It would be helpful if you also summoned up your own feeling of wonder and awe to supplement my attempts to recreate the excitement of a young lad looking in on a window with what to my small eyes looked like a half ton of chocolate. All done in the most carefully and artfully molded Easter shapes.

The display was set up in a stepped vertical arrangement so that the whole impression was a wall of chocolate set against a waterfall of decorative green plastic grass. Plenty of crisp white doilies under each group. There was always a chocolate bunny so big that I couldn’t imagine ever being able to deserve one that big. I don't know if it was solid chocolate through and through, but I prefer to imagine that it was. We’re talking two foot high rabbit here, easy! And a retinue of lesser bunnies in various sizes and poses. Several typical colorful woven Easter baskets each filled with assorted goodies, also in a variety of sizes. One for every pocketbook. Wrapped in colorful cellophane with big satin ribbons.

But the main thing that I could never ever imagine getting my hands on was the centerpiece basket. Made entirely of chocolate; the square basket and the round handle, solid milk chocolate. Intricately formed to resemble a real basket. And then filled with more chocolates. Have some chocolate with your chocolate, why don't you?

I would many times just walk down to stand and gaze at the spellbinding vision of that window.

Now, alas, it is only a bittersweet memory. Ah, yes.

But now, look what the Easter Bunny brought for you!

Notice below the sugar egg. When I was a boy we had a sugar panorama egg as big as a football. It was kept in its own box and came out once a year at Eastertime. Inside that egg were colorful paper cut outs of boys and girls and bunnies and chicks on a green grassy field. Each year I looked forward to have a peek. It never got old. Ever new. That's Easter for you.

Happy Easter 2011. And ... 2016


Why Can’t I Be Good


I am the product of what’s called a Catholic school education. Grade school at Immaculate Conception in the then Poletown section of inner city Detroit. “Then,” because that historic immigrant community was dispossessed to make way for a Cadillac factory in the early 1980’s.

There was quite a lot of community resistance to the razing of that neighborhood. Mr. Ralph Nader even joined the battle. I read that he and the group of protest organizers set up headquarters in the basement of Immaculate Conception church.

That basement was a focal point for me several times in my formative years.

The basement itself was a full basement, exactly the size of the footprint of the church itself. Easily large enough to accommodate 500 seats. At the head of the space, directly under the altar, was a raised stage, and directly opposite on the other side was a huge walk in room where various liturgical items were stored. It was also the gathering/changing room for the altar boys when on special occasions the whole bunch of us were conscripted into spectacular service. The dress code was a cassock—black for most days, red for holidays—and a white blousy surplice on top. My mother took special pains to see that my surplice was always snow white and crisply starched. Somewhere there is a portrait of her little angel in full regalia, at a kneeler with nothing but heavenly thoughts showing on my face. This is what the outfit looks like. (The little devil in the photo is not me. But close.)



The Immaculate Conception grade school was directly across the street from the church. Every year the good Felician Sisters would host a party for the kids in the church basement. I looked forward to this half day off from school and that kids-only party with the many treats at what they called the “Bazaar.” There was ice cream and cake and all kinds of games of chance. A free-for-all. 

One year I won what nowadays would be considered a true bazaar surprise. Literally, bizarre. I came home from the party to present my mother with a live chicken. Imagine giving a live chicken to some grade schooler as a prize to take home. Nowadays there would be repercussions. My mother said it was a capon. As she would always say, “a capon = good soup.” We didn’t live on a farm, but in the city. The bird spent a few days in the basement, and then one day we had chicken soup. My mom knew how to make soup. From scratch. Starting with a live chicken; that’s from scratch. Also, homemade hand cut egg noodles. She would brag about how many egg yolks went into her noodles. Be that as it may. Simply delicious. Serve with pieces of meat and some cooked carrot and parsley root, garnished with finely chopped parsley. A prize winning bowl of soup. From a prize chicken.

Another time, and to my great surprise, the good Sisters thought we should be schooled in the social graces. We had dance classes, in the church basement. Probably the first time I got to hold a girl in my arms. But, at a reasonable distance, mind you. All my best moves are still based on those core choreographic trainings. Fox Trot, the Waltz, and the Jitter Bug. Albeit, with a mélange of accumulated flourishes tacked on along the way. Trendy dances like the Chicken, the Twist, the James Brown, the Macarena, and the Lambada I had to learn elsewhere.

My crowning glory in my church basement days was performing a violin solo of the Ave Maria at the party for my eighth grade graduation.

But . . . it was a two-step process to get to the depths of depravity.

The first shoe toward my downfall was at the eighth grade class play. I was supposed to be the male lead in some little drama. I just couldn’t take it all that seriously, so they moved me into a lesser role; as a priest, no less. Well, even then, my irrepressible side couldn’t be completely covered. The church Pastor, Father Alexander Cendrowski, was a most stern individual. With the additional overlay of his priestly authority, he was severe. Without knowing exactly how to put it at the time, even then I recognized that he may have been a little too much in the role with his superior position. I instinctively disliked the man. If he had a heart only his mother and Jesus would know for sure. He did like his cigars. So I made sure I went on stage for that one and only performance with a big old cigar between my fingers. Years later I named my dog Alexander. I did love that dog, though.

Cendrowski and I had history.

On the plus side of the report card, I am remembering the time when in the first grade we were given the assignment to make butter by hand from cream. My mother set me up with a clean mason jar and a cup of heavy cream. Some interminable shaking later and there it was. We separated it from the whey and my mom put some of it in a small glass and covered it up with wax paper (pre-plastic wrap days) secured with a rubber band. At the class show-and-tell it was deemed nice enough, and I delivered it across the street to the rectory for Father Cendrowski. I don't know if I got the credit for that, but I sure didn't have any with him when the chips were down. I think the adults tended to view children in general as born devils in need of stern learning.

The other shoe took a little bit of working to finally drop. A two part process.

We had another falling out later on when I was an altar boy. During the summer months we altar boys took turns serving at the daily Mass in the morning. Father Cendrowski must have known that to a young boy, having to get up to serve at Mass was not up there on the favorite things to do list. I did not object and dutifully and reliably kept my commitment. But one day I got sick right in the middle of the service. I honestly was conflicted about whether or not to interrupt Father Cendrowski to tell him. I was not in a condition to ride it out, so I bailed. Without explanation. Father Cendrowski later sent a boy over to my house to tell me not to come back to be an altar boy any more. Without inquiry or explanation. That was what the adults around me were like. Hard lessons. Infractions, strictly punished. You’re either good, or you’re bad. No gray. No recourse or explanation. But, Father Cendrowski was particulary and needlessly harsh. In his arch sternness he was in fact a little gray himself. Literally.

The last straw came when after Sunday services from time to time the men and their sons would gather to have fellowship under what was called the auspices of the Holy Name Society. My dad and I would dutifully go to these events. But I never felt that I fit in and didn’t ever get the point of belonging to that group. Just what the heck did they do besides meeting a few time a year. At one point when I was in my high school years Father Cendrowski invited me to join the Holy Name Society. I bluntly told him that I had nothing in common with those folks and didn’t see “what was in it for me.” The following Sunday I sat there mortified as Al got all up in the pulpit to tell the story of the selfish young man who could not see beyond what was in it for him.

Years later at my nephew’s graduation from high school I met up with Father Alexander. “Hello, Father Cendrowski. I’m David Wronski, remember me?” All he ever said, and the last thing I ever heard him say was a flat serious, “I remember you.” As in, you are not worth further attention, you impudent miscreant. Ouch! Really snugged up my hairshirt of guilt. I took it like a man. But, as you must suspect, it still chafes a little to recall. What would Jesus do? Well, I know. And I would. Peace be to you Father. And, yet, I hope Our Lord gave Father Alexander a good talking to before opening the pearly gates.

I do lament that Immaculate Conception Church no longer stands. CLICK here to read another essay where that beautiful gem of my youth is mentioned.

I often like to say that my downfall was that I was a “good” boy. By that I mean not following my inner voice, but too often and needlessly succumbing to outside pressure. As a youngster you do have to do what you are told. But, slowly, if you are being properly raised, you start to develop the discrimination and discipline to choose based on what is appropriate and right for you and for the situation. And, to be brave to stand for what you believe and know even in the face of disapproval and dissent from the highest places.

These words ascribed to The Buddha put it succinctly:"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."

Also remembering the time when assiduously attempting to be a "good boy" I was troubled with so-called impure thoughts. And you know how if you try to suppress thoughts, they just keep coming back with even more insistence. I went to confession. The priest seemed to have no idea that I was a mere ten year old. He interpreted I was confessing to having sexual relations with a woman. I was so mortified and stunned at this, I didn't even know how to clarify the point with him. That's how we left it. Go, and sin no more.

Just speculating if that confession was good for a Hall Pass on some future misdeed? The bad boy in me thinks it's a pretty clever ploy to go to confess something you might want to do in the future to work around the possibility of eternal damnation should you do the deed and not get to the confessional in time before your demise. Interesting idea. Don't you think?

Some Family!

What Some People Will Do for a Buck

This tale is purely fictional, any resemblance to actual characters is coinckydinkal.

Someone I know is in a long standing shared property ownership situation with relatives. The potential value of the asset is not insignificant. I want to post his recent response to his partners as an example of the kind of comlications that crop up when double dealing has a family name. Clearly there are two sides to every argument. But, also clearly, whatever filial affection that should be in the mix among this group has evaporated.

To my point of view, his partners are either acting like crooks, out to take advantage of him in a down situation, or they are deluded idiotic schmucks. But what would a deluded idiotic schmuck do but try to take advantage whenever and wherever. You can form your own opinion.

Names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty.

Dear Family, 

Since the Grasly’s have made such a strenuous case apparently assuming the lion’s share of sacrifice and having a high (the higher?) level of responsibility in the long history of our joint holding of the property, your partners want to share their perspective and clarify on some of the facts.

Please understand that we are not looking to come out right in any of this, nor are we making anyone out to be wrong, nor are we inviting argument. If the shoe fits, you can wear it. The whole enterprise of fighting over who’s right, who’s wrong is just so old paradigm and not in the spirit of the new inclusive view that acknowledges the real situation in the world.

The Grasly side has been kind enough to extensively share their perspectives, as self-serving as they seem to us, and we want to give them the benefit of ours. Since we are family, we believe we have the space to talk freely, without recrimination should what is said not be agreed with or easy to hear. Your reaction, should you feel the need to have one, will be the test of that. Agree, disagree; we allow for either. Go with our blessings. But know, there is no room to support haters. Most certainly, if we indeed want to move forward on a mutually profitable basis with our jointly held asset.

As they say, you have a right to your own opinion, but you don’t have the right to be ignorant of the facts. So we offer our inputs in the spirit of keeping the conversation accurate from all perspectives.

We also have it from reliable sources that the Grasly's have freely shared their opinions with others, family and friends, about their assessment of the integrity and honor of their partners. This defamation of character has a price that should be weighed in any consideration of tangible values. Perhaps, apologies will be required. At very least, to share this side of the matter with those who have had to absorb your calumnies in support of your clearly selfish aims.

I also want to take this moment to observe that there is a hint of an attitude of having some kind of higher moral standing operating as a result of having had to step forward to aid the Wrongly’s in meeting an asset expense they were not able to pay. This is not an unusual position in social commerce, and historically is very typical for the so called “haves” to adopt this stance vis-à-vis the so called “have not’s”. Exacerbated, when the former feel that they have no choice in having to come to the aid of their fellows. We cannot say whether this is in fact in play, though it seems so. Plus, a good deal of moral indignation added on top. So much so that one partner is virtually in a time out/incommunicado status now coming on a good handful of years. And this toxic attitude may now still also be in place as a result of the Grasly partners themselves not finding a way to resolve differences within their group. Simply put, not on speaking terms. We strongly urge, if any of this in fact is operating, to let go of these toxic attitudes. They are entirely self-created, have nothing to do with the parties that the negativity is directed toward, really hurt the one(s) holding these judgments, and may in fact be causative in the apparent paralysis in the process of liquidating the shared asset. Ego is a dangerous thing to hold onto under any circumstances. Deadly, when holding a position is justified for thinking that one is in the so-called right.

I need not have to remind anyone that we are family. But, it appears, maybe now in name only. Money trumps everything with some people.

The Grasly’s, in taking ownership of their sense of high level of responsibility, should also not omit responsibility for their handling of the property prior to Wrongly’s Trusteeship; and, specifically, allowing the land to overgrow into a condition which by default is now a wetlands in a substantial portion according to an expert selected by the Grasly’s themselves. This has rendered the land virtually unsellable, a situation which was well in place by the time Señor Wrongly came into the picture as Trustee to handle his mother’s affairs. We have gone along in the Catch-22 situation—we think it’s a wetlands but don’t want to have a formal study because then it would be on record—and, even when we found a buyer who would look past that obstacle, the Grasly’s shot that deal in the foot on purely ego-based undisclosed grounds, the justification for which is still completely inscrutable. One Junior Grasly should still answer for that. In this life, or in the next. My psychologist friend submits it is just a transference from the days when that blue blanket (Schnoodie, was it called?) was the big emotional attachment and so hard to give up.

It should be clarified that up until the time Mrs. Wrongly’s health began to seriously fail, my brother Leopold and I were not included in any way in her dealings with the land. It was not for lack of interest or willingness on our part, but entirely due to her penchant to keep her affairs private and secret. During that time she gave her complete trust to Junior’s stewardship of the affairs concerning the property.

At one point my mother in good faith professed to not be able to pay her share of taxes for a portion of one year. The Grasly’s were generous enough to cover for that. Obviously, and without the need for lots of words on paper, the understanding was clear that it would be reimbursed when possible, certainly at the sale of the property. There was clearly a sense of trust among the owners. When I came into managing the accounts I saw that she did in fact have the money, but in an annuity which she had assumed could not be liquidated. We corrected the situation immediately and the Grasly’s were repaid.

We are not at all confident that trust is a high factor in our current dealings. There is no cause to fail in that trust for anything that we have done. Admittedly, we have not been able to meet some financial obligations, but this is not grounds for withdrawal of trust. Unless, of course, the assumption is that we are just holding out. If that is the view, then we lovingly have to suggest that this opinion may be a reflection. Without putting too fine a point on it, just to mention the long history of holding out in the way the Grasly’s have approached coming forward with investment spending to maintain the property’s salability. Search your own hearts on these matters. Trust works both ways.

While we subscribe to the policy of minimally spending behind the investment, the practice by any reasonable assessment has been clearly penny wise and pound foolish. Prime case in point: defaulting to wetlands status. Early on in my dealings with Junior—he was the representative for the Grasly’s on the land—I suggested the possibility of vacating the tenant from the house and demolishing it to improve the “curb presentation”. Also, I stated that as long as the tenant enjoyed his advantageous rental arrangement there was someone 24/7 on the property literally standing for us not selling. At the time every excuse not to demolish came up, even concern over asbestos. To make my point on the spending policy, it was not until the very last moment that we were threatened with a court action by state authorities that the Grasly’s took action on leveling the house. I don’t recall anyone concerned with asbestos then. And at a substantially higher cost than the bid to demolish I had obtained earlier, which also included some tree removal. A similar stalling has occurred on the project of filling the well. For which expense funds previously contributed by the Wrongly’s are still in trust held by the Grasly’s.

At the urging of our realtor it was strongly suggested to clear cut the property to take a substantial step toward moving out of the wetland status. We never took action. I recall a major concern in our last discussions on the issue had to do with fears that dust/debris would negatively impact the adjacent car dealership’s inventory and would put us in jeopardy of legal action should there be any damage. It is impossible to parse what amount is penny pinching and what part realistic concern over adverse consequences. We do see a pronounced tilt toward the former, however. All we know is that endlessly coming up with what-if type objections is a good way to stall, avoid, and postpone.

In the face of unwillingness to investment spend in any project, the “what-if” argument is a particularly nettlesome stalling tactic to counter. And also, rather troubling, since it seems to only be used selectively. As a way of looking at the world it is by any estimation a fearful outlook that could grind one into a halt and cause one to hole up and never leave the house. I am tempted to get into my own set of what ifs, but will refrain out of compassion and not wanting to frighten. Earth changes are all too common right now in the news and we certainly don’t want to see any of our dear family put in harm’s way. But we would be remiss to not mention this as there is a financial asset that could be also adversely affected.

We have no way of proving the dire projections concerning earth changes, but if you research the subject you will see that in addition to the western USA the Michigan region is projected to be due soon for major land/water readjustments. If these events come to pass it would directly involve and adversely affect the property held in common. Simply put, totally wash it away. I don’t want to be in an I-told-you-so situation. You can decide for yourself if such possibilities are worth your concern and should be planned for. But since you are prone to what-ifs, please add this to your worry list. I didn’t just make this up. There is a ton of discussion out there on the subject. I just don’t want us to keep waiting for an improvement in the situation, when in fact—and as the news currently clearly shows—the opposite is just as likely to happen, if not more so.

There has been a lot of insistence on guarantees in recent conversations. I’m sure the people who built the reactors in Japan—and everywhere else in the world—have given their iron clad guarantees. The existential fact is that there are no grounds for guarantees for anything. We do, however, trust in the Lord. But that is also a trust born out of the understanding and faith that whatever comes, both good and bad, is what should be. Not the easy and common idea that all good things come from the Lord, and what we don’t like is from some evil doer or The Evildoer. Trust in the Lord always. All ways. Take it. Or, leave it. Dear Samty in California, true to form, will doubtless dismiss them as mere ravings. You’ve been notified. I have done my due diligence on this. That may not be what you want to hear, but it is out of my own sense of responsibility that I share that with you.

The Wrongly group had from the outset indicated that continuing to hold the property would be a serious financial hardship for us and that all speed and urgency should be applied toward a sale. We only wonder whether the end game all along was to wait us out until the present situation, and at the very last moment, has become fraught over forfeiture. The option (our own idea) to place the land up for auction was also vetoed on the grounds of expense by the Grasly’s. But now they are more than ready to suggest we simply turn over the property on grounds of their claimed better sense of responsibility and disproportionate sacrifice, or to float an uncommitted and hugely submarket sale to them for our stake in the property for pennies on the dollar.

As you all too well know we had a very favorable deal not that long ago. It fell through in large part because of the failure of the Grasly’s to reach their own consensus on negotiating terms. The sticking point was insistence by Junior to have further direct meetings with the prospective buyer. The Grasly’s offered no indication as to why this absolute requirement was being made or what the intention was for such a meeting. This became probably the deal breaker since the prospective buyer had made it clear that they were done negotiating, and with Junior in particular. (As you know I recently approached that prospect again to see if the deal could be reopened. You should know that they were quite clear that they would not have any dealings with Junior should they be able to “relight” the deal.) It was also during the contract negotiations with that earnest buyer that a for-sale sign was installed on the property by Junior, presumably with support of his siblings. Even after my very strenuous objection, no action to remove was made. Clearly, when you are in good faith negotiation with a buyer, placing a for-sale sign is evidence of bad faith, if even only on appearances.

The Wrongly group has been very cooperative and supportive. I feel it should be mentioned that we have not had a very solid experience of being included in the process. There has generally been agreement on most things. But, like the for-sale sign, when we strenuously objected, or had a new idea, if there was no sympathy for that position by the Grasly’s, no action would be taken. Never once have the Grasly's taken action on an idea suggested by the Wrongly's when it didn't suit them first. Sometimes in the give and take, one side has to allow itself some compromise. But, mostly, the power of the veto has given the Grasly’s arguably the upper hand in the proceedings.

Since responsibility is the big issue in heaping value to one side in the negotiation between the owners, let us factor in the responsibility for dragging/stalling the negotiation to the point where the prospective buyer’s budget window of opportunity had passed. And a very attractive deal went away.

As most of you already know an attorney was hired for the express purpose of advising on options for when a minor stake holder in a partnership is impeding the intentions of the majority interest(s). Also, to possibly be available should legal action need to be taken. The Wrongly group agreed to participate in that expense even though it legitimately fell as a responsibility of the Grasly’s to find their own consensus. We wonder with the tight money policy history whether the willingness to spend would be there if the tables were turned and the Wrongly’s could not come to their own consensus. Unknowable, but given the historical penny pinching approach, highly unlikely that there would be cooperation in a reverse scenario.

Even after I clearly stated that I was putting money up for a consultation on options and to have a professional in place should legal action be necessary to move toward signing of the purchase agreement, while the attorney did give some cursory advice he proceeded to spend most of his hours negotiating the deal itself. All the money I put up was spent with nothing to show for it. I have never to my satisfaction been given the experience of having my wishes represented in this attorney situation. In fact, we had quite the grinding go around over paying yet more to keep him on retainer. If that is not clear to you still, just know… no say so, no peso.

It should be reiterated that the Wrongly’s stated that if one member of the Grasly group was not willing to move forward on the deal, we would accept that as a condition of his rights of ownership. Lacking any agreed upon method for resolving such issues in the partnership, we have always been in a situation that leaves us at the effect of the power of the veto from one of the partners. It is particularly troublesome that there has never even yet been any attempt to include us in the thinking that was behind not going forward with the recent land sale.

There was some surplus money the Wrongly’s contributed and held by Grasly’s against the (still to be completed) filling of the well; which because of further stalling by the Grasly’s will probably be higher than the original estimate.

Last year the Grasly’s covered the Wrongly’s tax liability and were given a promissory note. There seems to be a possibility that since the terms were not all that the Grasly’s would prefer that there is some grounds to consider that the situation gives their side more bargaining rights. In fact, the playing field is level and the proper acknowledgements are in place.

There has been no attempt by the Grasly’s since that promissory note to complete on the open issue of what they are planning after the failed deal due to the adamant deal breaking requirement (to continue negotiating ad nauseum) with the last prospective buyer. Clearly, the responsibility fell to them to advise on their intentions regarding next steps. Instead, and yet again, waiting to the very last moment, creating yet another brinksmanship situation, and forcing all the energy on the immediate urgency of paying taxes and avoiding forfeiture. And, on top of all that, having the audacity to assert that it is all Wrongly's doing that has brought about this situation. Indeed.

Not the most responsible approach, would you say?