Community comes together

Published 7:27 am Wednesday, July 14, 2010

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

— Henry David Thoreau

I found this quote Monday online and thought of Dennis McDermott who brought the town together at St. Edward’s Corcoran Center and other ways. I should add “and folks from out-of-town.” Dennis packed them in. Father Joe Fogal who began the gathering said, “Dennis will stay alive in our hearts.”

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He then turned the microphone over and folks began taking turns sharing the joy and tears of life with Dennis and how much love and caring and determination served his 18 years.

His parents, Jimmy and Caron, said they always tried to “just let Dennis be Dennis.”

J.Keyser, one-time Austin resident, played “Good Ol’ Boys” from the Dukes of Hazard, a favorite of Dennis’ and Jesse Smith closed with “Born to be Wild,” another favorite.

Tears and joys anchored the room. If you missed it no doubt you’ve heard about it and the precious words and ways he shared, his loving smile along with his three-piece suit.

I’ve often hoped for a statute of Richard Eberhart, the Austin poet, sitting out on the east side of the high school but now with Dennis smiling sitting beside him.

Dennis brought a great swell of people to Austin including my niece, Jana, and Brady and their kids, Frannie, Jack and Henry, who were fun to have around before heading north. Jana and Brady both worked for the Herald back when.

By the time this goes to press I’m hoping to have survived my first colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy procedure. And I also got some wax flushed out of my left ear after some flushing’s. I’m set to go.

Last week I received an email inquiry regarding the Duc Pho Catholic Orphanage in Vietnam that I’ve mentioned from time to time, where we would take our laundry in the village and where they would starch our uniforms. Ron, who now lives in Wisconsin, said his father was instrumental in the beginning of the Duc Pho Catholic Orphanage. Ron happened to run across one of these columns on line. We’ve become acquainted and I’ve learned that his father died in Vietnam.

Jim Hinkle I met on our flight from Los Angeles to Hawaii and then to Schofield Barracks. He was moved from Artillery Hill to Duc Pho part way through his stay. Later he and three others hit a command-detonated 155 artillery round planted in the road.

Now there is another war just as uncertain, an even harsher war. I’m relieved, as his family is, to know that Earnest, our son-in-law has recently returned from duty in Iraq.

War is not an easy game to play. My brother Darryl, who was in service back when, recently sent me a collection of Vietnam photos that dramatize the war. There were no photos of Duc Pho but there was one of My Lai showing the pile of dead bodies of Vietnamese, young and old.

As for Mello, she still enjoys barking. There’s something about skate boarding that brings out her best barks — or should I say strongest barks. She adores Casey, our son, but takes exception when he uses his skateboard to cross the street. She is quieter with kids pedaling by on their bikes and sometimes barks if they are just plain walking. Much of the time I am sitting beside her and trying to explain that barking isn’t a good thing. I’m not sure she understands English. Maybe if I talked to her in Czech.

As for my entertainment a black and white magazine for collectors of fine photography a March 2007 issue shows up here featuring a Regional Focus Series with Photography in Prague, it’s not ordinary art. One I wish you could see belongs to Josef Sudke entitled A Window of My Studio (Courtesy the Robert Klein Gallery).

When we went to Prague a few years back one of the best art gallery’s I’ve seen was situated near the St. James River. I spent hours there one day.

I’m now on Chapter 36 of Serving His Sentence the authorized biography of Vaclav Havel. Although sometimes I will read a whole page with my mind taking flight in another direction.