Seventy-Two Years Ago and Now

The sweet smells wafting from the kitchen, the turkey cooking, the women of the clan present, stern-faced and frazzled in last minute time-juggling between kitchen duty and getting dressed for the soon arriving family and friends.

It’s no place for man nor beast. I’ve done my duty. Ice in the ice bucket, fire set and ready for the match, shaved and dressed, but the Lions and Packers’ game is still an hour away. Staying underfoot is out of the question. The sun is not yet over the yardarm, and the bar is by the kitchen in direct view of wife Dorothy and daughter Jenny. “Don’t even think about it, George.”

Tossing the football around used to be a way to pass the time. The grandchildren are in Long Island with their parents and other grandparents. And besides, I’d have to throw an underhand lateral; among other things, my shoulder is shot, and running out for a pass is out of the question!

I’m content to reread, “Thanksgiving Day Turkey Shoot – 1944,” a chapter from The Rogue’s Road to Retirement, hunkered down in my office with the door closed, and wait for the 12 o’clock whistle (when adult beverages are finally allowed!) reveling in the memories of happy times gone by. Happy Thanksgiving one and all! Enjoy this reverie of family holidays gone amok. You’ll feel much better about your own clan! 🙂


Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way: Rocky’s Story

A crowd of more than 1,000 faculty, administrators, elected officials, family and friends gathered under an open-sided tent Sunday, June 5, 2016, on a cloudy day threatening a down-pour. Terence R. Flotte, MD, Dean, School Of Medicine, University of Massachusetts introduced Racquel Wells, Class Speaker, at the school’s Commencement Ceremony.

Racquel began her remarks, “I am a black woman graduating from the University of Massachusetts Medical School! Today is a Good Day! We have made it!” There was a pause as her opening remarks resonated, and she was greeted by thunderous applause as the crowd stood, led by Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker. My heart almost burst with pride.

The ceremony marked the end of the beginning of the first chapter in Racquel’s long road to becoming a doctor.

As I sat with my daughter Jenny in the midst of Racquel’s extended family, my thoughts wandered back almost 18 years to the time I first met Racquel. She was a rising 8th grader recommended to me as a candidate for Phillips Academy Summer Session. The year before I had contacted the director of admissions at the Summer Session and the Superintendent of School’s in my hometown of Bay Shore, Long Island, with the idea of sending two kids from Bay Shore to attend this outstanding five-week program.

Bay Shore was in the midst of a robust revival of its downtown. The one element that was lagging was a concentration on opportunities for our youngsters. Andover already had a history of working with communities that had a similar history.

The program got off to a fast start. The first two to attend, in 1998, returned with great results. Aisha Muharra became class valedictorian at Bay Shore and was accepted at Yale, Princeton, and Harvard, which she attended, graduating with high honors. She is now a top Hollywood screenwriter. Martin Fojas graduated from Cornell. Eventually a total of 32 students attended Andover’s program, which provided $155,000 plus in aid and scholarships.

My interview in1999 with Racquel was awkward. The conversation was one-way, a series of one-word answers. Twenty minutes into the interview, I asked her if she had any questions. A pause. “Mr. Rider, is it ok if I bring my hair dryer?” She aced her Andover Summer session and later entered Boston College as a major in Chemistry. This once shy young lady was now known as “Rocky.”

Working in a lab was not appealing. She reexamined herself and decided what she really wanted in life. Medicine combined her love of science and interaction with people.

Her first attempt at applying to medical school was unsuccessful. In preparation for reapplying, Rocky earned a Masters of Arts in Medical Sciences from Boston University School of Medicine, at the same time volunteering in Refugee Clinic Coordination at Boston Medical Center. She spent time at Genzyme, helping manage clinical trials. She also worked at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center as a Research Coordinator.

When she reapplied to U Mass Medical, she was ready and – at long last – she was accepted. She began in 2012.

As Racquel delivered her heartfelt words at the graduation ceremony, she looked out and said, I’d like to thank one person. My mommy. Noreen raised Racquel and her sister Brittany alone, sometimes working three jobs. When Noreen and Brittany returned to Bay Shore after settling Racquel at Boston College her freshman year, she discovered that her landlord had cancelled their lease. Undaunted, Noreen and Brittany drove to Spartanburg, S. C. to stay with a close friend until they resettled. They never sought help. Brittany also attended Andover Summer Session and sang Gospel selections to over 1,000 students, faculty and guests. Andover made such an impression on the family that a younger cousin in Connecticut applied and attended on his own, with great results.

The young students are not the only ones who have benefited from the Andover Summer Session Program. For me, the opportunity to work with and get to know these wonderfully motivated youngsters and follow their progress has been and continues to be a dividend that I could never have imagined. Every Father’s Day the phone rings and one or more of them greet me, “Hi Mr. R, I was thinking about you!”

In May of 2009, I was honored by the Greater Bay Shore Chamber of Commerce at a dinner where I received the Bay Shore, Brightwaters Distinguished Citizen’s Award. Summer Session graduates: Rocky, Jemel Wilson, and Kelila Venson spoke. In 2011, I was one of seven Andover graduates to receive the Distinguished Service Award. Rocky joined us for the ceremony.

Racquel’s story stressed that the best part of the difficult medical school journey is that along the way, “We learned to embrace the mission of taking care of people. We started to think about the kind of physician we wanted to be. And we learned the significance of taking care of ourselves”.

Throughout her talk, she spoke of the valued mentors who guided and encouraged her at every turn.

Racquel began her residence in Internal Medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio right after graduation. She wants not only to practice medicine, but to change medicine.

She closed her remarks, “Ladies and Gentleman of the class of 2016, My Crew. Take a picture with you heart. And congratulations, because Today is A Good Day!”

The will and magnificent talent were always there. The way was guided by a loving mother, sister and caring hands. I’m so proud of her and so proud to be a part of her triumphant story. Go, Rocky, go!

George S.K. Rider


St. Patrick’s Eve Tragedy: Blizzard Four Dead 3/16/56

whale ship best

Whaleboat similar to the one used by the men of the USS Preston


I spent two of the best years of my life as a Navy Officer, aboard Fletcher Class Destroyers, an experience that nothing has matched in my 83 years.

Our rich military tradition has produced heroes of legendary proportion throughout our history. Many brave men and women perish in peacetime and training, their stories going almost unnoticed.

Through my work with Andover in the Military (affiliated with my alma mater Phillips Academy, Andover), I’ve had the honor of researching and writing many faculty and alumni who have served. Two Andover classmates perished in peacetime military flights. One classmate died in air combat over Korea, as well as my brother Ken’s classmate (one year behind me) who was our hockey teammate and my football teammate. He perished in France landing his jet fighter, after completing a long transatlantic flight during the Berlin Air Lift.

“The St. Patrick’s Eve Tragedy” tells the story of the accident that occurred 3/16/1956 in Newport, R.I., harbor, witnessed by my good friend and fellow Andover grad Harry Flynn ‘48. Three sailors from the USS Preston (DD-795) perished trying to rescue a sailor from the USS Irwin (DD-794) who slipped and fell overboard in a blizzard. The events surrounding the initial accident and the heroism of the men who came to the rescue is a story that needs retelling.

No matter what you’re doing to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, pause for a moment, think about all of our brave men and women who serve and have served and hoist a glass to those absent friends! God Bless this great country!


Some stories, buried in time, cry out to be told. “The St. Patrick’s Eve Tragedy 1956” is one of them. Four brave sailors froze to death that night in a blinding blizzard.

In late October 2007, daughter Jenny and I were attending an Andover Alumni Council meeting. After dinner she arrived at my table with a young male friend in tow.

“Dad, meet Harry Flynn. I think you were in the Navy with his dad.”

Indeed I was. We were roommates aboard the USS Preston (DD 795) in 1955. I had not spoken with Harry Sr. in 52 years. The next morning, between meetings, Harry called his dad and handed me the phone. The years vanished as we caught up. What a warm feeling watching our kids talking as we spoke.

As a result of that chance encounter, we began to swap stories. One of his particularly caught my attention; “Safe Harbor – Not,” which described the harrowing events of St. Patrick’s Eve 1956 in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island.

Months earlier, another chance encounter at the 19th Hole of our golf club on Long Island, conversation turned to that same ill-fated day. Doctor Petit, a neighbor, had also been home ported in Newport. Doc, then a Medical Corpsman aboard the Destroyer Tender, Cascade (AD 16), added a gripping eyewitness account of the same terrifying events.

Their stories triggered my own memories. I couldn’t get them out of my head; how two old friends from different parts of my life had both been there, at the scene of the tragedy; how I had almost been there with them; why all three of us had been spared, while our fellow shipmates hadn’t been nearly as lucky. I spent days researching what happened, tracking down long forgotten newspaper articles from the Newport library and piecing together events.

* * *

Preston 4

Harry had been attached to the Commodore’s staff headquartered on the USS Picking (DD- 685), temporarily based in Newport in the early spring of 1956. That March night, Harry had the staff watch. “A lot of people had already left the ship on liberty,” he recalled. “We were nested together, four Fletcher-class destroyers, 21 hundred tons of seagoing greyhounds. I was waiting for my fiancée and her cousin to visit for supper, by launch, return and drive back to Boston.

“We had arrived from the Charleston Navy Shipyard in Boston after our overhaul. A ship just out of the yard is always in a state of flux. New people and old hands are getting familiar with or reviewing their duties. This time everything worked against us.” Adding to the problem, a number of senior officers were not aboard the ships at that time, leaving their junior counterparts in charge.

Harry said that the ship’s crew could tell a storm was coming, but storms in Newport in February weren’t exactly headline news. He describes his first encounter, “As we rounded Nantucket Light on the trip from Boston, the hatch above my bunk sprang open and water from the bow flooded the sleeping area. I leapt up and headed topside.”

On St. Patrick’s Eve, the storm came up quickly and violently. The winds howled, and snow turned into blizzard with 70 mile an hour winds overnight.

In Harry’s words: “Storms aren’t unusual, but never fun. We sent the liberty launch in at four o’clock (1600 hours). The wind had come up and the trip was very rough. When the boat crew returned for another trip, the 50-foot liberty launch landed between the sterns of the Preston and the Irwin. I went to the Commodore, my boss, and suggested that he decide when to cease boating. It was getting very rough out there. He said to stop them after the next boat returns. I went to the stern of the Irwin where the launch was tying up.”

Meanwhile, crewman Kenneth R. Kane, a fireman rate from New York City, was part of the crew manning the 50-foot motor launch that was being moved to a more sheltered position behind the nest of four destroyers tied together and moored to a buoy (Mike).

“A gust of wind ripped through the air, tossing the launch so high on the waves that its keel could be seen from the destroyer deck.

“As the launch neared the USS Preston, two of the boat crew jumped across to board the destroyer. When Kane tried to follow, he fell into the freezing water. The men aboard the ship yelled to throw him a line, but a rope could not be found. Suddenly, the launch heaved high on another huge wave and crashed down on Kane likely breaking his back. Crewmen from the Preston scrambled down and grabbed Kane by his life jacket, but he was torn from their grasp when a strap broke. He slipped through the jacket and disappeared into the churning water, leaving the sailors holding the empty jacket. The liberty launch drifted away.

Officers aboard the Preston, tied outboard in the 4 Destroyer nest, quickly ordered out a whaleboat to aid in the rescue, with five brave men aboard. Two of them, Lt., jg, Juergens and Reese B. Kingsmore, boarded the 50-foot motor launch, restarted its engine and returned to the Preston.

The others: Moore, Britton and Hutchinson stayed in the whaleboat and kept up a vain search for the missing Kane. Moore served as coxswain, although that was not his normal duty. Before he left the Preston, he told shipmates he was going along “to make sure everything went right.”

As Harry recalled: “The men set out into the now swirling snow. The wind had come up with a wild ferocity and the heavy snowfall limited vision to a few feet from the nest. I reported back to the Commodore who wanted me to stay on the situation and report to him. There wasn’t much to report for some time. I stayed in the Ward Room, with an Ensign I didn’t know too well and his girlfriend aboard for a visit. The storm was wicked that night and we were constantly worrying about the nest breaking up or drifting.”

Tragically, Harry was right to worry. My friend and bar mate from Long Island, Doc Petit, also in the harbor that night, witnessed the second, somber part of the story: “As dawn broke on St. Patrick’s Day, the three-man crew of the Cascade’s Gig (another whaleboat) and I got underway and started to search for the boat from the Preston.” Doc and his mates traveled down the bay, looking for the brave men who had willingly put their lives on the line for another.

One of Doc’s crew finally spotted the whaleboat, washed up on the shore of the Douglas Estate, on Ocean Drive, near the mouth of the harbor. As they approached, they found the bodies of Moore, Britton and Hutchinson, “their cherry red faces frozen, grotesquely contorted in death.” The three valiant sailors had died from exposure while searching for Kane. Their 26-footer was washed ashore, miles downstream. The Newport Daily News later reported it was the worst storm since possibly 1938.

* * *

“George! George! Wake up. Deanie Gilmore just called to see if you were all right.” She had heard on the radio that there had been a terrible accident aboard the Preston. Mother was standing next to my bed.

I woke up from a sound sleep at my parents’ house in Brightwaters Long Island. I was home on a 72-hour pass from my new ship, the USS Abbot (DD 629), having recently transferred from the USS Preston. Both ships had been undergoing updates and repairs at the Charleston Navy Ship Yard in Boston. The Preston and the three other ships in her Division were scheduled to leave for the West coast to join the 7th Fleet for assignment in the Pacific. The Abbot was part of the 6th Fleet and would remain in the Atlantic with the 3 remaining destroyers in our division, operating out of Newport, RI.

I knew instinctively that some of the men in my old division had to be involved. I spent most of the morning trying to contact the base for more information. The weather was God-awful. The Abbot was due to get underway from Boston early Monday. I couldn’t take the chance of getting stuck in Newport and decided against my first impulse to go there immediately. I sent a telegram to the Captain of the Preston offering my prayers and any help I could be, still not knowing the details of the tragedy.

As the day progressed, the story unfolded. Sketchy details began to appear on the radio and TV. I finally got through to the office of the Base Commander. The Duty Officer confirmed the loss of four Sailors, and the fact that, indeed, three of the four had perished in the Preston’s whaleboat, trying to rescue the Sailor from the Irwin.

Sometime in the early afternoon, the names of the Sailors were released. I tuned in to the news on the radio. My heart sank as the commentator read the names: Boatswain’s Mate 2, C. Robert C. Moore of Marked Tree, Ark, Seaman Donald Britton of Bayville, NJ, and Seaman Gary C. Hutchinson of Holland, Ohio. I had been their Division Officer.

I felt helpless. My thoughts turned to the three men aboard the whaleboat. I knew R.C. Moore the best. He was a rangy, easygoing southerner, with a great sense of humor, who took his responsibilities to heart. He was popular with officers and crew alike. R.C. had taken me under his wing when I reported aboard, as a young inexperienced Ensign.

I thought of Britton and Hutchison – two squared away seamen whose promise was yet to be fulfilled. The Deck Force is the training ground from which other activities aboard, staff their personnel. They were both headed for greater responsibilities.

The whaleboat in which the men perished had been my responsibility while I was aboard. During ASW exercises, we used that same boat to retrieve spent torpedoes and return them to the subs. I had been the Boat Officer.

It had been decades since I had thought of them, and their courage. Time has not diminished the memory of their heroics. I can’t help but think it’s no coincidence that I ran into Harry and Doc, and pieced together again the story of that night. For me, it’s a stark reminder of the need to honor and remember the sacrifice of those who give their lives for another, and a reminder of how important it is to make people aware of those four brave men.

As each of us readies for the St. Patty’s day celebration, take a moment to reflect on these brave men and all the other men and women who have served to make this great holiday possible. Raise a glass to absent friends.

Some stories, buried in history, cry out to be told. “The St. Patrick’s Eve Tragedy 1956” is one of them.

George S.K. Rider


Preston 1



Author Unknown


Over the green hills the bay lies, and after the harbor the sea,

And a grim, gray gaunt Destroyer is steaming there swiftly and free.

With a roll that strains her stanchions and a pitch that peels her paint

With a roaring red heat in her bowels that would make the devil faint

She backs on the crest of the billows, she washes her side in the trough

She ships twenty tons of ocean and then like a dog shakes it off

Her seamen cling tight to the lifelines, her black gang is gasping for air

From mess cook to skipper they curse her, but no outsider would dare

The smoke billows down on her taffrail, the white smoke unrolls in her wake

The hissing steam throbs in her boilers, but she has a speed run to make

She lurches and trembles and staggers, alive from antenna to keel

She reeks of burned oil and hot bearings and rings with the pulsing of steel

Wild winds lay symphonies topside, below crash the drums of the sea

And far to the west of the sunset, green isles call to her and to me

She is brine-caked and crowded, they call her a salty old can

But those aboard grin when they curse her and each one aboard is a man.



Stumped? Stymied? What to buy Grandma and Grandpa for the Holidays? Read On..!!!

The annual dilemma! What to buy Grandpa, Grandma, your nutty uncle and the other “seasoned” (aka old bag) loved ones in your life for Christmas? They’re usually the last ones you shop for and the toughest. I know, because I’ve been a proud, AARP-carrying card member for several decades. What gift can you get for the geriatrics in your life that they’ll actually want and use, and doesn’t look like you just grabbed it on your way to the check-out line at CVS? (Hint: Boxes of easy-to-chew, assorted cream chocolates is a dead give-away.)

On behalf of my fellow senior citizens, I’m here to tell families and friends alike that we know you dread shopping for us. Guess what? We get it – and, as much as we love you, we’re not so thrilled with the whole dog and pony show either. After all, how many desk calendars of scenic America, crocheted remote control holders and Sudoku books does one need? Here’s an idea! Take that money and buy little Suzy or Sammy an iPhone upgrade, whatever that is, instead.

Here’s what us old geezers really want: Your time! Clear the piles of old papers in our den, move the cranky cat aside, sit down to have a chat! Leave your various electronic gizmos at the door.

We want to lean back and relax and reminisce about holidays past. In my case: the Christmas my father and uncle dipped a bit too deep into the Christmas punch, and serenaded the clan with a very off-key rendition of “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth,” while clutching their dental bridges in one hand and bottles of rum in the other and soft shoeing across the living room. Or the time my young daughter pitched such a fit when Santa brought her big brother a blazing red jacket with the name of his “squirt” ice hockey team emblazoned on it. I had to beg the local rink owner to open up his pro shop on Christmas day to buy her one. Or the December night when I dressed up like Santa to surprise my grandchildren only to have the door slammed in my face by my six-year-old-going-on-forty grandson screaming: “You’re not Santa. Santa doesn’t wear topsiders.”(Smart kid!) Or the New Year’s Eve after my father died – how I could swear I heard the sounds of Lester Lanin, his favorite band, playing when I walked past the little apartment attached to our house where he lived in his last years.

We want to share these stories with you – our beloved kids, grandkids, extended family and old friends – because we want to remember them and, just for a few moments, be transported back to those days, when long gone loved ones were still with us, when our children were small and still under our roof, and Christmas morning was a cacophony of joyous cries and the occasional sibling punching match.

Just as important, we want you to remember these stories and tell them again and again in the years and decades ahead, so we can be with you, and laugh with you, and celebrate with you – if not in person, then through a life’s worth – our life’s worth – of memories.

At 83, sometimes I can’t remember what it is that I forgot or where it is that I was going when I got lost. I have to keep written count of the daily pills and eye-drops I take, and sometimes I can’t remember what I just had for lunch, but the details of holidays come tumbling back in sharp focus when I hear the first notes of “Jingle Bells.”

What was I prattling on about? Oh, yeah, holiday gifting. Back to the task at hand! Go ahead, shop till you drop – but not for me! I don’t deny that I need a new sweater. I have a bunch already, and I only wear the two that I like best over and over until my wife protests and hides them. I have plenty of hats. The red, multi-colored tam-o’-shanter that my father gave me is my winter cover. I own an array of baseball caps to don in warmer weather. I have all the mugs, pens, pencil holders that I can ever use. The antlers on the desk-sized wooden moose eyeglass holder that I got three years ago have fallen off and broken – just as well because the moment I take my glasses off my nose I forget where I put them anyway. Don’t spend your money on electronic gadgets that I’ll never figure out how to use, or the red reindeer socks with a light-up tie to match (I’m a geezer  not a geek!) What Grandpa and Grandma and Great Aunt Sally want is your company.

However, if you absolutely insist on buying me something – a magnum of Scotch, single malt would be nice. Don’t tell Grandma! (You can also buy my book, by the way… no pressure:)

George S. K. Rider is the author of The Rogue’s Road to Retirement: How I Got My Groove Back After 65 and How You Can Too – a humorous look at how to stay young by staying in touch with your inner bad boy or girl, and how to preserve your stories for future generations. He sold and published his first book at age 82. You can buy The Rogue’s Road at R.J. Julia’s in Madison, CT, and online at:

Dad Tam


Health Care and How to Fix It (According to The Rogue!)

Do not let your eyes gloss over, damn it!! It’s a universal topic that gets jawboned ad nausea and sculpted, all to often, to fit a political objective.

On Tuesday evening, May 12th, Dorothy and I returned to R. J. Julia for a book event and discussion with Jonathan Bush (nephew of George Herbert Walker), author of “Where Does It Hurt?” Jonathan’s dad and I have been friends for 62 plus years. Quoting from the book jacket, “A Bold New Remedy For The Sprawling And Wasteful Health Care Industry,” the tome is an entrepreneur’s guide to fixing health care.

“Where Does It Hurt,” was number six on The New York Times Best Seller List 6/1/2014.

One of the blurbs, authored by Jeffrey Flier, MD, dean of Harvard Medical School, highlights the dilemma that confronts all of us!

Flier: “Health care has successfully resisted organizational innovation to the detriment of our health and our economy. In ‘Where Does It Hurt?’ Jonathan gives exciting accounts of current innovation, and irreverently imagines an attainable future in which a vibrant medical marketplace is driven by health entrepreneurs, of which he himself is a prime example. Patients, physicians, and policy wonks alike would be well served to take the provocative and illuminating tour.”

Jonathan is CEO and cofounder of Athenahealth, one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the country. He has worked in health care for two decades.

Aside from Jonathan’s remarks and the wonderful excerpts he read from his book, the health care discussion following his presentation proved to be enlightening and provocative with a great many in attendance joining in.

One memory that this 83-year-old will reflect upon fondly occurred as we took our seats. I’ve been distressed lately by the morass and quagmire that has overtaken this once proud country and pitted too many citizens against each other with little or no leadership from places and people vested with that responsibility. As we sat down, a broad shouldered, big, handsome curl-headed young man took his seat next to me and introduced himself. It was Ted Kennedy Jr. there to listen to his friend Jonathan and participate in the discussion that ensued. For me, seeing these two vibrant, accomplished, energetic young men – from dynasties at opposite ends of the political spectrum – engage in such productive dialogue gives me hope that their generation can help us stop the drift and avoid running aground, forever beached at ebb tide.

Returning to R.J. Julia five months after the launch of my book, “The Rogue’s Road To Retirement” in January was an added dividend to a remarkable evening. In the interim I’ve been busy, appearing on WTNH’s Connecticut Style show and speaking at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Essex, CT; Evergreen Woods, a retirement community in North Branford; the Enfield Senior Center; book signing events at Barnes and Noble in Fairfield and R.J. Julia in Madison; and signing books at a jam-packed street fair in my home town of Bay Shore, Long Island. This summer, I’ll be doing five events, leading off with a reading at Essex Meadows, a retirement community in Essex, CT. Daughter Jenny, my agent Anna Termine and my much better half Dorothy continue to be my chief cheerleaders and pit crew, with a big assist from our Staples store in Old Saybrook.

Writing has taken me in directions that I would never have imagined. I still believe that the best is yet to come. Stay well! Be sure to visit us – and the Griswold Inn Store in Essex (they’ve been very supportive of the book) – if you’re in Essex or on Fire Island. Keep writing!


Fun seeing old friends at the Fair in Bay Shore!

Rogue fair June 2015

Spring Blog Doubleheader

Part One: Special Easter Gift

The Spring thaw is finally hitting my blog, so I am catching up on events from earlier in the season…

Easter as a little boy! Dad would wake up early and blast us out of bed with a record of the glorious Alleluia Chorus blaring on the Victrola. My brother Ken and I would scamper through the house discovering a dozen or more Easter baskets hidden after we went to bed, all with toy bunnies and chicks, chocolate treats, jelly beans and gifts for the summer ahead, little pails and other candies and mother’s cookies. Our labs eagerly joined in the search and had their share of the goodies.

The Easter Bunny was good to us. Easter Sunday church was always special, the music, the hymns, the glitter of the ladies in their finery and the smell of the ham cooking and the visits with our cousins and aunt and uncle and gramp always made Easter day so very memorable.

When our children Graham and Jenny came along, we would experience the same joy as my parents shared watching Ken and me hunt for the Easter baskets. Dorothy and I tried to duplicate the fun of Easter, occasionally adding a different wrinkle depending on what date Easter fell. If it coincided with the kids’ spring school break, we would load the Cuttysark (My old 26-foot Chris craft skiff), kids, sometimes with their friends, cats and dogs, and head for our beach house for the holiday. After Graham and Jenny were tucked in Easter eve, I would head outside with a basket of eggs that we had dyed together in the afternoon and hide them under the deck, or the overturned rowboat and sunfish, behind posts under the boardwalk or other places on the lots either side of our house. Our dogs raced around the property and helped the kids in their hunt.

Easter is always special no matter where we are, as long as we are together. Since our move to Essex, Connecticut, six years ago, Dorothy and I have always started Easter Sunday at St. John’s Episcopal Church’s beautiful sunrise service held on the grounds of the River Museum at the foot of main street facing the river’s edge.

This year was different. There was not enough time between the end of the sunrise service and the eight o’clock service at St. John’s to go home and change from the cold weather outfit into proper church attire. We also wanted to have a good vantage location to take part in the service and getting there early, we would have our choice of pews.

This service would be very special, and Graham and Paulette, our son and daughter-in- law, and both sets of grandparents eagerly awaited the start of the service seated in the first two pews. I was seated on the aisle of the second pew next to Dorothy.

The organist began and the familiar notes of the stirring hymn, “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today.” As the sounds filled the church, I turned to the back of the church, swelled with pride, and tears appeared at the sight of our beautiful granddaughter Victoria age 12 leading the procession carrying the cross as crucifer, followed by torch bearers, brothers Bradley 13, and Duncan 10. Graham Jr. 15 ½ followed as Gospeler. The first three smiled and winked at me, as they passed on their way to the altar. Graham, Jr. was carrying the Gospel Book and was very serious, staring straight ahead. What a thrill for parents and grandparents alike! I thought of Mom and Dad and how proud they would be.

The part of the service where parishioners are asked to greet each other produced the thrill of a lifetime. I was shaking hands with the gentleman in the pew behind me, when I felt an arm reaching across my back. I turned to see Tory giving me a hug. Brad and Duncan were with her. Graham was helping the minister still on the altar. The other three had come down to give me a hug and greet the rest of the family. I’ll carry that memory with me forever!

Rector Folts remarked that, “now he knew how to get the older parishioners to take seats in the front pews” and mentioned the Rider family fondly.

Easter Sunday was also Dorothy’s 81st birthday. After the church service we read the papers and had breakfast. Daughter Jenny joined us. For Mom’s birthday we drove to Elizabeth’s Restaurant in Madison, CT, for lunch and then Jenny treated us to a great movie “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”

At bedtime, we were really tired from all the day’s activities. I searched the TV for something uplifting to watch. Dorothy was fast falling asleep. I found nothing and was about to turn the TV off. I tried one last time and came across the movie “Easter Parade” with Fred Astaire and Judy Garland and fell asleep watching the dancing and listening to the happy music.

The end of a perfect day!

The older I get, the more convinced I become, that family is absolutely THE most important thing in life.

Part Deux: Emotions Highs and Low

Easter, April 5th, was such a sparkling day, one that I had written about, and was waiting to post. The warm memories still brightened my days. April 5th is Dorothy’s birthday.

Two days later, Dorothy and I drove to Evergreen Woods, a Lifetime Care Retirement Community in Branford, CT, for my after-dinner talk about Retirement, highlighting my book, “The Rogue’s Road to Retirement.” Daughter Jenny joined us at dinner and helped Lauren Agnelli, Vibrant Living Director, set me up for the lecture and reading.

The program was well received. A great moment occurred as we were setting up in the auditorium waiting for the audience to appear. One of the first to arrive was a guy about my age, no gray hair and a sprightly stride. He approached me and unzipped a cloth valise as he started to introduce himself. He handed me a framed picture of the 1955 Yale lacrosse team and asked if I recognized any of the players. I started naming the front row and suddenly realized that the one holding the picture was Bill Bunnell. I hadn’t seen or talked with him in 60 years. Along with Jim Rutledge, we were the 2nd midfield on a very good Yale team. Bill lives at Evergreen, knew that I had been invited to speak, and told Lauren that he wanted to surprise me. What icing on the cake for a great evening!

Evergreen’s auditorium is well equipped with a first class sound system stage and podium. I talked for 10 minutes about the book and how it came into being, the therapeutic value of writing, the joy of being published and the elixir of acclimation! I read three short chapters, and then fielded questions with Jenny’s help. We closed with a writing exercise, by asking anyone interested to write a page or two on their very first memory as a child or describe an article on their desk or night table that has a particular significance.

Then one by one the writers who participated read their work aloud to applause. Those who did participate thanked us later for the opportunity.

At the end of the program, I headed for the Men’s room at the back of the auditorium, opened the door and suddenly realized that my mike was still on. Slightly in extremis, I pivoted and caught Jenny’s eye pantomiming my predicament. She went into gales of laughter and proceeded to turn the damned thing off. Thank God!!

Dorothy was sitting a few feet away next to a very sharp lady who turned to her and said, “Tell him not to worry. We won’t listen!!” What a great evening!

The wonderful stretch from Easter Sunday through the Evergreen evening was about to be shattered. Dorothy and I arrived home from Branford still buzzing from the evening. I checked my emails. The second one started, “Sad News From Andover” reporting on the deaths of two wonderful Andover classmates, and football fellow linemen, Hall Higgins and Lloyd Cutting. That was April 7th.

April 8th brought the equally sad news that hometown friend and Yale classmate John Kousi had passed away. (John was Captain of the Yale wrestling team).

Later we learned of the passing of Betty Bevan, a wonderful lady we had met when we moved here 6 years ago. Betty and her husband Bill had become friends from the time of our arrival.

As class secretary of Andover ’51, reporting the deaths of classmates is an onerous task. John Scheiwe acknowledged my email reporting on the death’s of Hal Higgins and Lloyd Cutting with the following reflection, “The sun takes a reasonable time to set, but set it does.”

One other item occupied, those10 days, this one with a happier ending. We finished gathering and assembling the 2014 tax data and mailed the information to our tax accountant 4/1/2015, for delivery 4/3/2015 with tracking number. I called our accountant on the 3rd to make sure that it had arrived as trying to use the tracker on the computer or talk to someone at USPS was impossible. The accountant had not received our package. I called again on the 6th, still no package. I spoke with a gruff local post office manager, who advised that I wait another day. He informed me that in all probability, my tax information had been damaged and that Homeland had ordered the Post Office to shred all mail that was damaged or the address rendered illegible. With this chilling admonition ringing in my ears, and my red hair bringing me to a fast boil, all I could think of then and for several days later was the work Dorothy and I had done chasing down missing 1099’s and all the items needed to complete the 2015 tax forms, all being shredded and how we would have to start from scratch. What a mess!

Our account immediately filed an extension, a pleasant and diligent lady at the local post office worked to trace the errant package. I was still cursing under my breath and steaming at another government agency gone amok. Between the IRS and the USPS I was fast losing hope!!

With the phone calls I was making to retrieve 1099’s, the accountant filing for an extension and Dorothy and I beginning to reassemble documentation for all necessary items needed for filing, and thoughts of our previous labors being mangled in a shreder, my mood changed from Easter eve’s nostalgia and joy to dark thoughts of punitive retribution or worse!

Around noon the following day, Mary Ann from the accounting firm called to say that they had just received our tax documents, “overnighted” on 4/1/2015. The joy of the news was tempered by the aggravation that the delay had caused, but at least there was something to cheer about.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

My rebuttal, “Yes, but on the upside: there’s still always writing, spring and my beloved Black Seal.”

Rogue on the Road!

The Rogue’s Road to Retirement: On The Road…!!!

Hi everyone,

Since the book launch 1/6/2015 we’ve been busy. The first book signing at R.J. Julia was well attended (70+). I spoke about the book and read Chapters 21 (“Love Above All” about Yale high jinx), Chapter 24 (“Dad And The Pewter Tankard” about memories of my dad) and the Epilogue. While wine and snacks were served, I engaged the audience in a writing exercise, asking anyone who wanted to participate to write a 200-word essay about a small antique doll suitcase with ornate carrying straps supplied by daughter Jenny. “What’s inside and where did it come from?” Ten volunteered and later read their stories. Lots of good prose! You can watch the reading here:

On February 13th I was invited to tell the story of “The Rogue” for Channel 8, WTNH, New Haven’s ABC affiliate, for their daily Connecticut Style show, which aired on 2/16. The interviewers were wonderful, and my seven minutes on camera were a great first time experience. The temperature was – 4 when Jenny and I arrived. Brrrrr. Here’s the interview!!


On February 22, financial and retirement blogger extraordinaire Jennie Phipps featured me and The Rogue’s Road in her fantastic retirement blog for Bankrate, which reaches 13 million users every month!

So far I have been booked for six book signing engagements in March and early April, first I will be reading at the Fairfield University bookstore on March 12th at 1:30pm. On March 15th, I’ll be speaking at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Essex – stay tuned for the exact time. I’m also due to speak to several seniors centers and another bookstore in upcoming weeks.

Thanks to Dorothy and Jenny, all I have to do is show up!! As improbable as writing a book seemed three years ago, this Road has turned into my high-speed expressway. I urge you all to pick up the pen and write your stories, and if you need encouragement, give me a call!

If you’d like to give a review, you can do so at the following websites. I would really appreciate it!

[Click on photo of book cover to go to Amazon page]

The Best Is Yet to Come!!

The Rogue!!