Sunday, May 07, 2017

Age 79, Yes!: Years of Age, Silence, Denial, and Falsehoods Come to An End in -- Celebration!

Yup, that's daughter Misha's amazing birthday cake with me coming clean on my real age after  decades of dead silence and what I call truthful lies such as:

"Can't believe I have turned 30" when I was in my 50's.

"Wow, in my 50's, can't believe it" when I was in my 70's -- right up to NOW.

"My two sons, Jon and Greg have turned 30, unbelievable"-- though many years ago.

OK, except for the ages of Jon and Greg, which is their business, here's the truth about my age.  On May 2, I turned 79. And... and ... and I am celebrating it! I am routinely older than  half  the people in the obits.  All those human beings  are gone while I am still kicking and brag in this blog that I'm going to make it to 120.

Wait a sec. A thought just hit me. After decades of bragging about reaching 120, what if I actually got there?  I'd be the oldest person on earth! Finally, after decades of being nobody, I would be famous!  The name George Francis Pollock the Third would be known and admired throughout the world!

Whoops.  Sorry. I'll come back to earth.

The truth is my life actually is unusual for a 79 year old. I play tennis 3 or 4 days a week and run around the court like a crazy man (which I am, of course). Before playing at the Worcester Greendale Y, I do strength exercises for at least 20 minutes.

I tell my tennis guys that the way I want to go is on the tennis court after hitting a winner. I ask that they just drag the body off the court and keep playing.  They have no problem with that.

Hmm. Are they telling me something? Oh well, on to more of moi.

Most afternoons, even after morning competitive tennis,  I get in my car and drive off looking for an interesting neighborhood to hike around. And I mean hike not stroll.  I lift my chin, pull in my stomach, and straighten my back. I march like a presidential guard for at least an hour and often for an hour and a half.

Every home has people with a story. Snooping round, I wonder what those stories are.  Sometimes I notice people in windows staring at  a stranger walking around their neighborhood.  So far one has called the police on me.

I don't drink.  I don't smoke. I don't overeat (OK, once in a while I do). No bad habits (OK, in my opinion; can't wait for the emails listing  my bad habits.)

Today Barbara and I are in Edmonds, Washington, visiting daughter Misha, son-in-law Ed, and four grandkids, Mia, Bella, Max, and Talula (from oldest, 15, to youngest, 5).

I and the three youngest just got back from checking out a monster's house.  When I smelled something foul in the air, I yelled "Poison! It's trying to poison us!!"And the four of us ran off with me screaming, "Run, run, RUN!"

Before leaving for Edmonds, Barbara, niece Linda, and I celebrated my birthday with a great meal at the Sole Proprietor in Worcester, Mass. -- with wonderful surprises.  Then we arrived on May 3 at Misha's and Ed's house in Edmonds, Washington to an even greater surprise -- an amazing birthday celebrating my long, long, long life!

Following are photos from those celebrations, starting with this one with Barb, niece Linda, and me at The Sole Proprietor.  Linda was a total surprise.  It was great to see you, Linda! She is below with Barbara and the birthday boy, moi!

We had a great meal. When we got to the birthday cake and Barb and Linda singing happy birthday, we all got a big surprise: a bunch of old guys behind us joined in.  I could not have had a greater, more rousing happy birthday song!

When the song ended, I got up and and went over to the guys. I asked, "What are you old guys doing here singing happy birthday to me?  You don't even know me. Are you old guys all nuts?"

Their quizzical looks told me they were thinking the same thing about me. But they didn't tell me to get lost. So I went around and asked each one his age.  They were all retired, in their 70's, and had been meeting regularly for over 30 years.

"Man, you guys are old," I said. In the old days, I would have told them that I was in my 50's. Instead, I snarled, "Hah, I'm older than all of you."

"How old are you," one of them asked.

I puffed up, lifted my chin, and went super superior. "I'm 79. You are all a bunch of kids."

We all had  a good laugh.

In case you think I'm making this up, here is a photo of those "kids."

Conversation opened. 1 read message.
Now, for photos of my birthday party at daughter Misha and
Ed's place in Edmonds,Washington. Misha is a talented interior
designer, party planner, and jack of all-trades artist. She plan-
ned and prepared it all.

How was it?  To die for!

And all for me, an old man who spent almost his entire child-
hood in ever changing foster homes. As just a source of income
as a foster kid, I never had a birthday party. In fact, in celebrat-
ing my 79th,  that's exactly  what kept popping up in my head.

But when the grandkids gave me birthday cards  created on
on their own, it told me that those hard, familyless days are
long gone.  I had family.  I had love.

I was one happy old man of 79!

Let's end now with photos of Misha and Ed's fabulous 79th
birthday  party for me. Notice how after lying about my age for
decades, I now can't stop saying 79?

Now photos of the best birthday party any old man could hope

Here's the work-of-art birthday table designed by Misha. Yummy!

Barbara and me with four grandkids

And here is Misha. with Me, Max and Talula

My wonderful wife Barbara and 79.

And finally Ed picking up a big baby:

Is this any way to treat a father-in-law?

So long and keep moving.

For info on my ebooks, click here. 

5 79 photos


George Pollock <>

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5 79 photos


George Pollock <>

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Thursday, May 04, 2017

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Africa, Africa: Why Africa is Always on My Mind.

Recently in line at the Greendale YMCA in Worcester, Massachusetts where I play tennis, I noticed a new guy behind the counter. He was black and he had an accent that I immediately recognized.

When my turn came, with a big smile on my face, I said, "Harbari." (a standard Swahili greeting in Kenya roughly meaning, "How are you doing?")

His mouth flew open. His eyes looked like they were going to pop out of his head. Then came a huge smile, and I mean HUGE.

"Mzuri, mzuri sana," he replied in Swahili ("good, very good").

"Asante," I said. "Asante Sana." ("thank you, thank you very much")

Since this is America and not Africa, I then reverted to English. "I used to teach in Kisumu, Kenya. Nice to meet you."

 "Wow, I was born and raised in Kenya."

I told him that I had taught in Kisumu for two years. I also told him that my oldest son, Gregory, was born in Kenya in 1964, making him a dual citizen of Kenya and the United States. 

"I would say we have a lot to talk about, right?"

Mouth open, wide-eyed, he nodded his head. We shook hands, exchanged names, and email addresses, and he agreed to arrange a time for me to hear his story. That will be an upcoming blog.  Below is a photo of Kimani Thumbi behind the counter at the Y:

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Below left is a photo of Greg with his ayah Philomena and a little playmate in Kisumu, Kenya. Below right is a photo of Greg and me at a recent Pollock family get-together at my home in Worcester, Massachusetts. We look like brothers--agree?  I'm on the left.

Immediately after graduate school, I was accepted into the Teachers for East Africa Program (TEEA) of Columbia Teacher's College. Soon after, Phyllis and I went off to Kenya as newlyweds. Fresh from college and with an intrepid new bride, I was going to save the world. I would do good. I would spread civilization. I would make friends for America. I was young and naive and I didn't know any better.

We spent two years in  Kenya. It was the greatest learning experience of my life. First, I saw real poverty. Everywhere I went I saw children naked, walking with bare feet, often with distended bellies, a sign of malnutrition.

Just outside of Kenya's capital, Nairobi, were perhaps a million black African souls existing in Africa's largest slum, Kibera. It was a mass of shanties without electricity, running water, sewage, and health care. Life here was short and brutal.

But, newly freed from decades of British colonial rule, Kenyans throughout the country were  celebrating independence by singing and dancing in the streets. It was a happy, optimistic time for Kenyans with their own new government under Jomo Kenyatta or the "Mzee" (old man). 

Several times I was at packed Kenyatta rallies where he stood tall in his multi-colored beaded cap, fly wisk in hand, and evoked roars of  "Harambee" (work together) and "Uhuru na Kazi" (freedom and work). Sometimes I was one of just a few "Mzungus" (whites), but I felt perfectly safe.

In Kenya, America and Americans were deeply respected. I felt it everywhere. For example, in 1963 I was in a little village -- the only American there -- getting my VW serviced when news broke of President Kennedy's assassination.

One Kenyan after another came up to me to express their sorrow. Each one extended an open hand, bowed, expressed their sorrow and slowly backed away. Here I was, me, representing the United States of America!

Despite widespread poverty and homelessness, Kenya was rapidly becoming an important regional and transportation hub as its tourist industry began growing in leaps and bounds. Kenya would soon become East Africa's biggest economy and an island of calm, avoiding bloody conflicts that ravished Sudan, Rwanda, Somalia, and Uganda.

Following are some photos from our time in Kenya.

Above are Phyllis and Greg in Kenya with two African women. We were driving our 1961 VW Bug along a dirt road in Masai country when we saw them. On the spur of the moment, we pulled over. Gesturing with my little Instamatic, I asked in bad Swahili if I could take their picture.
They smiled. Greg patted the goat without bothering to ask. Truthfully, Phyllis and I both felt safer with African tribal people than with strangers in American cities. These were the days when Europeans, what all white people were called, were greatly respected. Now Kenyan cities are as dangerous as American ones can be.

And here is a photo of me leaving the school with books under my arm. And what a teaching experience! I have never seen such eager students. You walk into the classroom and the whole class jumps to its feet.

"Morning, Sir!" they shout in unison.

Then they sit. All eyes are on the mzungu mwalimu (white teacher). With notebooks open and pencils at ready, they are ready and eager to learn. And you had better teach them so they can pass the overseas exam from England -- or else.

I'll never forget the time I was telling a story about life in America. A student in the back row, very tall and older than the others, jumped to his feet.

"Sir!" he all but shouted. "What you are telling us is not in the syllabus!"

He sat down with pencil at ready to take notes.

"Quite right," I said in my best faux British accent. "So sorry. Yes, I'll get on with it. Thank you."

 I never again strayed from the syllabus.

When I was not teaching, we drove everywhere. One time we drove all the way to the coastal city of Mombasa on the Indian Ocean. On the way, we stopped to say "jumbo" ("hello") to an elderly man on the side of the road. I gave him a shilling and asked if I could take his picture. He readily agreed.


When we saw a couple of African girls hiking along the road, we again pulled over. They were just as curious about us as we were of them. After Swahili greetings and giving them a few shillings, they willingly let us photograph them.

In Mombasa, we enjoyed the beach for a few days. In the photo below, I'm on the beach playing with Greg.


Have an idea why Africa is always on my mind? Oh the memories!

So long and keep moving.

For info on my ebooks, click here. 


Saturday, December 10, 2016

2016 Pollock Reunion: Five Sibs and a Houseful of Family Chat, Eat, Play and Have a Ball.

I tell you, our house has never been so packed, noisy, and brimming with joy and laughter.

A wild party? In a way, yes, judging from all the storytelling, smiles, joking around, hugs, all  with everybody feasting on food fit for royalty: shrimp, lasagna from Val's in Holden, homemade meatballs, chicken, salads, fruit plates, homemade pies, cakes, and cookies galore.  Yummy!

It was a Pollock family reunion hosted by Barbara and me at our place.  The key word here is "family."  That is something that I and my four younger siblings were forced to spend our entire childhoods without. No father, who died when we were six and under. A toxic mom who quickly abandoned us all to state care where we spent our entire childhoods in uncaring, ever-changing foster homes.

Former foster kids routinely drop into lonely, failed lives. Many end up in prison. Somehow, all five of us not only survived but went on to build happy, successful, family-packed lives and today live in nice homes in respectable neighborhoods. I have documented our horrendous childhoods and described how each of us got to where we are today. For that story, click here.

Check out the above links and you will surely see why this Pollock reunion was such a happy blast.  Growing up, never, never could we have imagined such a gathering.  But here we are at the Pollock reunion, all five siblings with our real Aunt Lillian:

 Aunt Lillian is center, between Ruby (left) and Marion  (right). From top left are Reggie the baby, me the oldest, and Vic in between. On my neck chain is a ring that may-- or may not-- be our dad's. Unlike our  mom, our dad was a decent person.

Got our last name?  Yes? Good. The sweaters are doing their job. They were designed and handmade by our daughter Misha, who lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband Ed and four grandkids (out of a total of 10 grandkids.) The fish  is perfect for us since all three of us guys love the water, me for swimming and my two brothers for fishing -- not to mention that there is a fish by the name of Pollock.

When I'm swimming in my sister Ruby's lake in Oxford, Mass., Vic and Reg fish. I take a deep breath and go underwater to warn my fish friends to stay away from their hooks no matter how tasty they look. Sorry bros, love you both, but my fish friends are also family to me!

Now here is the group photo of the whole gang at the Pollock reunion:

Talk about family! From no family growing up, we five Pollocks are today surrounded by family --packing the entire living room. Where am I? Top right beside Aunt Lillian.Vic stole my spot front and center!

Early on my son Jon and wife Laurie and their two kids Aidan and Nathaniel let me know that they were not able to come. They had a previous commitment, involving kids' activities, in Vermont that had to be kept. Also, my other son Greg told me that he would be unable to come because of job commitments.

Bummer.  But, unknown to me, Jon and Greg would each deliver a delightful surprise.

Jon and Laurie shortly invited Barbara and me to their home in Berkley, Mass. where they gave us a wonderful early Christmas present.  They drove us early in the evening to Providence. They left Aidan, now a responsible young adult of 14, to look after his younger brother Nathaniel.

There at a downtown restaurant the four of us had a yummy pizza feast. Then we went on to see the musical "Once," which was terrific. Jon and Laurie picked up the tab for it all. We stayed overnight at their home. In the morning, Laurie fixed us a great french toast and sausage breakfast. Thanks Jon and Laurie for a great time that Barbara and I will remember always!

Now the other wonderful surprise. On the day of the Pollock reunion, I came out of the bathroom and walked into the kitchen -- and nearly had a heart attack. There standing in the kitchen were son Greg and his wife Kelly with huge, mischievous smiles!  They had driven all the way from Pennsylvania!

I ran into their arms. Here is a photo of Greg and me just after I saw him:

Two greybeards! Never in a million years could I have imagined myself having a kid with grey hair! With people who don't know any better, I just tell them that he's my kid brother.  We could pass for brothers, don't you think?

On my last birthday, Greg and Jon surprised me with a gathering at the Merrimack College rink in North Andover, Mass. I had gone to Merrimack on a full four-year ice hockey scholarship. They contacted teammates from those old days, arranged for use of the college rink, and there I was out there like the old days skating and chasing a puck.

It was the best birthday ever.

Greg is a Child of Africa. He was born in Kisumu, Kenya where I was a teacher for two years way back in the early 60's. He survived malaria in Kenya and later dengue fever in Maidugeri, Nigeria, where I taught for a year. Below left is a photo of Greg as a baby in Kisumu, Kenya. Yup, he was playing the drums just like any other child in Africa.

Below was Greg in Kisumu,  with his Ayah Philomena and a little African playmate.

And now he's a greybeard? Where did all those years go?

One thing is sure, this  reunion will live on in our hearts.

So long and keep moving.

For info on my books, click here. 

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sam Mascitti Is No Longer: His Passing is a Reminder That the Six Horsemen of Death Await Us All.

That's Sam Mascitti, left above, a little over a year ago when five tennis buddies, at the invitation of Rich Pyle, above second from right, got together for lunch. At 81, Sam was, as you can see, the picture of health. Marty Griff was at far right. Second from left, with just a little bit of his head showing, was Jim Kane. The character standing and waving his arms and, as usual, doing his best to attract attention to himself was, of course, yours truly.

A year later, on Aug. 12, 2016, Sam died of cancer at 82. That's over a month now and thoughts of Sam leaving us keep gnawing at me. Sam, a longtime friend both on and off the court, was in fantastic shape. He was trim with not an ounce of fat. A year ago, he was flying around the court chasing down tennis balls and hitting winners.

And talk about competitive! He played in 60 and over senior tournaments and at one time was ranked 22nd in New England. In 2009, he won a USTA sanctioned 70 and over tournament, defeating the top seed in the final.  In 2014, he won a gold medal at the Maine Senior Games.

Then, suddenly out of nowhere, came the cancer.  Like the cruelly ravenous demon that it is, the cancer quickly spread throughout Sam's athletic body. He dropped out of our tennis group. For many weeks, I didn't see or hear from him.

When Sam knew that his passing was coming soon, he made a list of people he wanted to say goodbye to. I was on that list. That was a first for me. I never had a dying friend ask to see me to say goodbye.

Trouble was I and my wife Barbara were across the country in Edmonds, Washington, visiting our daughter and four grandkids.  We were committed for a month.  Leaving would be too disruptive of complicated plans, such as our daughter and her husband getting away  while we watched the kids.

Then I read a major, deeply researched report in The New York Times about immunology and how it is successfully helping cancer patients defeat cancer.  Basically, the body's immune cells are used to attack and kill cancer cells. It is a major breakthrough in overcoming cancer!  

I had to tell Sam.  I picked up the phone and called him.

"Hello," said a weak, barely audible voice.

"Sam? George Pollock."

"Sorry, my voice has changed," he said so softly I could barely hear him.

"Don't worry about it, Sam.  I didn't call to chat. There's a report in today's New York Times that you have to read.  It's about immunology and how it is curing  people of cancer."

"Oh, wow," he said with a sudden infusion of life. He asked me to hold while he got a pencil and paper. When he came back, I gave him the info.  "Wow," he said in a voice that seemed to have come alive. "I'll read  it. Thank you, George."

"I'm going to go now so you can get the paper and read it. We'll talk later."

Sam did read the NYT report on immunology, but he was too late.  He died a few days later. After we got back from the west coast, Barbara and I went to Sam's wake in his hometown of Leominster, Mass.
Kneeling at his casket and looking into his motionless face, I was going to say something about looking forward to meeting up with him in hell. Instead, deciding to behave, I silently thought these words, "Goodby buddy. Meet you in the next life. See you then!"

As death took Sam, it is going to take us all sooner or later.  Ten years ago, I wrote about death. Looking over that story, I found it as true today as it was then.  Maybe it's because I haven't learned anything. Or maybe what I wrote then was right on and still is.

You decide. Here it is:

One way or another, we must all come to terms with death. We must reach beyond the abstract death of the philosophical tome; the religious death of the church; the grieving death within families and among friends; the technological death of the hospital, the hushed-up death of the funeral parlor; the mass-denial death of society; and, especially, the oppressive death of fear and horror.

We must contemplate, understand, and embrace our own end. Death is natural, necessary, and a normal part of our cycle of life. Instead of keeping the poor despised and feared ghoul in the shadows, who, after all, only has a thankless job to do, we can bring him out into the open and get to know him better. There are many ways that this can be done, all of them human and life-affirming.

This is not to say that death is our friend. After all, it is the end of earthly life and for a living, breathing, moving creature, it is catastrophic finality. It may or may not be the end of consciousness, whatever that is. Consciousness is perhaps the greatest mystery of all. It certainly will take us away from earthly family, friends, love, large and little pleasures ....

And, as much as we don't want to believe it or think about it, death is often painful, horrific, and tragic. In his fine book, “How We Die,” Sherwin Nuland, who has witnessed thousands of deaths as a physician, writes that the process is frequently drawn out, painful, ugly, and terrifying to the dying person.

Nuland, who prefers not to use “Dr.” as a writer, shows us that it is physically not easy to die. The body's immune system fiercely resists the process of death. When the first line of defense is breached, a second line is thrown into the battle.

When the second line fails, a third line rushes to the front, and then a fourth and a fifth, until the body has no troops left. Death frequently is a long, desperate fight to the last immunological soldier and for most of us the final struggle takes place in a hospital or nursing home.

According to Nuland, about 85% of people are finally overrun by what he calls the Six Horsemen of Death: atherosclerosis, hypertension, type II diabetes, obesity, dementia, and cancer. All weaken resistance to infection, opening the way for hordes of bacteria and all manner of microbes.

As for my boast that I'm going to live to 120, in the same story 10 years ago I quoted Donald Tipper, a longtime professor at Umass Memorial Medical School in Worcester and fellow tennis player.  I quoted him as follows:

 "The neurons in our brain have to last our entire lives. Unlike the cells of the gut, which turn over in a week, the brain cells we have at maturity do not reproduce themselves. They have to last 60 years and longer. What happens is that over time proteins in brain cells become more and more likely to misfold and accumulate in a form that the garbage system can't help.

"We lose .2% of our brain cells every year. In a 100 years, we lose 20% of our brain cells. We can do without 20% of our brain cells. But the accumulation of damage to brain cells accelerates the decline of brain function. This is the same mechanism that takes place in Alzheimers. Before that, you lose critical aspects of your personality.

"I don't want to live to be 120. My brain will wear out long before then. And Alzheimers is the way it is likely to wear out. We are not selected for longterm. What makes a person a person is what dies off even if the rest of the body is alive and functioning. My father-in-law is 90 and he is really sharp. I enjoy talking to him. How long he will stay that way I don't know. I only know that his brain is the same one he's had for 70 years and it will wear out."

So much for my living to age 120 and still being me. Nothing like a good reality sandwich to bring a dreamer down to earth. Donald told me that exercise and diet and common sense can take me a long way, but not to age 120 with a normally running brain.

I just had my annual physical and there were no signs of any of the Six Horsemen of death. But I am now 78, regularly older than half of the people in the obits. As with Sam, you never know. So my aging friends, I suggest that we all live every single day to the fullest!

We miss you, Sam. Rest in peace.

To read the full story of 10 years ago, Feb. 5, 2006, click this link.

For info on all my ebooks, click here. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

In Edmonds, Washington: A Month Enjoying Family and a Great Play at Kitsap Forest Theater.

Good news. Instead of  lots of words, I'm going to tell the most interesting and enjoyable story of my month-long visit with wife Barbara to Edmonds, Washington, mostly through photos.

That's right, photos. 

One good photo can say more than dozens of written sentences. But there won't be photos of every little thing during the month. They are  primarily of one wonderful experience: the musical production, The Little Mermaid, at Kitsap Forest Theater on Bainbridge Island.

Kitsap has been putting on outdoor plays in this beautiful setting amidst old-growth forest of ancient western cedars and Douglas firs since 1923.
This play is extra, extra special for Barbara and me. First, our daughter Misha designed and made all the costumes, working day and night for weeks to complete them all. Second, grandkids Mia (14), Bella (13) and Max ( 9) all had onstage roles in The Little Mermaid.

They did great. Barbara and I are so proud of them. They are going to be stars some day!

Now let me get my one really bad experience out of the way: my son-in-law Ed, below, trying to strangle me!  As you can see, I am a seagull! I managed to break away and fly back to Massachusetts alive.

So now, on with the show!

In her workroom Misha works on Jason Gingold's costime for his role as King Triton. She not only designed all the costumes from scratch, but selected and purchased  all the materials, and then sewed them all! Below she is trying out her costume for Prince Eric on me. I was thinking: me a prince? Yes!

Now show time! Below three grandkids were up there giving it their all in costumes designed by their mom! Action!

Above, Max (fluke fish) is front and center, Mia (flamingo) is at right and Bella (angelfish) is in the rear flowing through the sea. Below, Mia (mersister Adella), front and center, sings and dances her heart out in the mermaid costume made by her mom. Every costume you see below was created by Misha from start to finish!

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 Max, front in blue, and  Mia, top far right, give it their all.

Above, after the performance, Prince Eric poses with his costume designer, 

Of course, I had to go on stage for a photo with King Triton. Here I hold his Triton after he transferred his powers to me.

Both of us wicked, the sea witch Ursula and I clicked.  (In real life, she is Natasha Chen, a reporter for KIRO 7 News.) 

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I am sensitive about my height. So I asked Prince Eric, played by Kori Lopreore, to bend down and he did.

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Finally, above, on stage after this wonderful production--Barbara, Mia, Misha, Bella, and Talula pose for the papparazzi.

So long and keep moving.

For info on all my ebooks, click here. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Foster Alumni: By a Beautiful Lake, They Find Food, Fun, Friends, Freedom -- And So Much More!

Above is a group photo at the first annual Family Fun Day on Sunday, June 26 sponsored by the Massachusetts Network of Foster Care Alumni. It was held at the beautiful lakeside Oxford, Mass. cottage of Ruby Pollock, who grew up in foster care as did her four siblings, including me.

In those days, when foster kids aging out of state care were released to the streets, such a gathering was unthinkable. So for the 60 or so former foster kids there, along with family, and friends, the day was a dream come true! 

Following are some photos from that great day:

Grace Koshinsky, left above, leads the Massachusetts Network of Foster Care Alumni (MassNFCA) and she performed wonders in making Family Fun Day happen. She arranged for funding, volunteers, food, a lifeguard, games, boat rides, and a raffle (which I won, a $100 gift certificate at Wall Mart).

She even got tennis rackets for alums to play tennis on a neighbor's court. It was all free for alums. Here, listening to one alum, you can see in her eyes that her whole heart is there for him and his story. She knows how he feels. As a child in Ohio she herself was a foster child for 4 years from age 6 to 10.

Always with an eye for real estate value, Ruby managed to buy a rundown lakeside cottage 35 years ago. Over the years she has redone the kitchen, roof,  plumbing, expanded the beach area, and had a new patio built (feeding me as I built it and all the walls you see in following photos).

Summers Ruby and I often sit out looking at the water and marveling that a couple of former foster kids are sitting out here drinking coffee and taking in all that natural beauty. Not a house. Not a road. Not a store. Not a sound except for the squawking of an occasional hunting hawk. Here are a few photos of alums, friends, and family enjoying it all.

Below, a couple of alums conduct an acrobatic balancing contest for an audience of kids -- who didn't seem to know what to make of it.  In the background, Ruby's daughter Linda takes alums on a tour of the lake in her mom's boat. Not used to such treatment, the alums rode wide-eyed, soaking up the natural beauty all around them.

Did everybody have a great time? Well, check out this closing photo below. It shows my baby brother Reggie and my wife Barbara trying to make me jealous -- it worked! -- while brother Vic's wife Marianne mugs it up for the camera! Reggie's wife Jeanette, in the middle, enjoys the show. This kind of goofing around, joking, laughing went on throughout the day.

Thanks, Ruby. Thanks, Grace. Thank you volunteers for all your hard work. And to all you foster care alums, let me -- as one who spent his childhood in foster care -- say this to you:

You are just as good as anybody out there. What's more, considering what you have gone through, you ... you... YOU may be a stronger and better person than most.  Got that?

You have?  Good for you!

P.S. My ebook, Something Tells Her, tells the story of a 12-year-old foster girl. It is fiction based on cruel reality. Read  excerpts. For info on all my ebooks, click here. 

P.P.S. How did the five of us build successful, happy lives?   Not interested? Do what you're told and read this.