CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

January 7, 2017

America’s First Untethered Balloon Flight 1/9/1793

Carolyn’s Online Magazine

AMERICA’S FIRST

UNTETHERED BALLOON FLIGHT

1/9/1793

On the morning of January 9, 1793 no trades were made and no business was undertaken in Philadelphia. All the shops were closed.

Starting at sunrise two field artillery pieces inside the Walnut Street Prison courtyard fired every quarter hour, creating an atmosphere of celebration and anticipation.

As the early morning temperature rose into the 40s a 5-foot tall flamboyant Frenchman, Monsieur Jean-Pierre Blanchard, entered the courtyard. Dressed in bright-blue knee breeches, a matching waistcoat and a cocked hat with white feathers, he looked, for all intents and purposes, like a Shakespearean actor ready for his role in a great drama.

However, Blanchard was not an actor. Accompanied by the sounds of a brass band playing soul-stirring martial music he prepared to take America’s first hot air balloon flight. The famous Frenchman busied himself inflating his huge silk balloon with gaz, produced by mixing iron chips in the vitriolic acid, as a throng of spectators watched.

At 10:00, as Blanchard had promised, he was ready to start his 45th ascension, confident it would cause his name inscribed in America’s history books. His Journal of My Forty-Fifth Ascension states he came to the New World because ‘the [Western] Hemisphere had as yet only heard of the brilliant triumph of aerostation [the art or science of ballooning]; and the people who inhabit it appeared to me worthy of enjoying the sublime spectacle that it affords.’

When the United States chief executive, Gen. George Washington, arrived at 9:45 a. m. a hushed quiet descended on the crowd. As he, the French ambassador, and other dignitaries entered the courtyard fifteen cannons roared in salute and Blanchard removed his plumed hat, bowed briefly and exchanged pleasantries with his distinguished guests.

Towering over Blanchard, Gen. Washington presented the balloonist with a passport written by his own hand to be used as proof for the people Blanchard would meet after landing, proving he wasn’t an enemy of the United States, nor was he part of an advance guard of an airborne French invasion.

At the last minute a well-wisher shoved a small black dog into Blanchard’s arms. He rather dubiously accepted the dog, dropping it into the basket already laden with ballast—including meteorological instruments and some refreshments anxious friends had given him.

At 10:09 Blanchard affixed to the aerostat to the basket, thanked the president, confidently leapt into the balloon’s basket. The cannons fired a final salvo Blanchard as threw out some ballast and nodded to his assistants to release the restraining ropes. A gentle wind lifted the balloon skyward.

Thus America’s first untethered manned hot air balloon flight, carrying the first United States airmail letter, began.

 

 

Blanchard acknowledged the oohs, aahs, and cheers of the watching throng by waving his hat in one hand and a flag, ornamented on one side with the armoric bearings of the United States and on the other with the three colors so dear to the French nation.

Prior to the liftoff Blanchard had advertised the following notice in Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser: ‘If the day is calm…I will ascend perpendicularly; but if the wind blows, permit me, gentlemen, to advise you not to attempt to keep up with me, especially in a country so intersected with rivers, and so covered with woods.’

The day was calm. Blanchard’s balloon ascended perpendicularly and so easily Blanchard was able to enjoy the different impressions which agitated so many of the sensible and interesting persons observing.

The exuberance from the prison courtyard was quickly followed by yells of pleasure from a massive crowd—half the city’s population—waving their hats, lifting their hands, and shouting words of encouragement:

Bon Voyage!

God Bless you!

Blanchard looked down on the city from a height of 1200 feet, probably astonished that all of Philadelphia watched him drift above the city. He heard the everyday echoes of their life rent the air: cries of an infant, barks of a dog prowling the alleys for food, the shout of a chimney sweep seeking work.

“Accustomed as I long have been to the pompous scenes of numerous assemblies, yet I could not help being surprised and astonished when, elevated at a certain height over the city, I turned my eyes towards the immense number of people who covered the open places, the roofs of the houses, the steeples, the streets and the roads, over which my flight carried me in the free space of the air. What a sight!,” he wwould later write in his journal.

Some spectators galloped down the Point road hoping to overtake Blanchard. They soon returned, declaring that the balloon was out of their sight. Many others regretted not stopping at the Oeller’s Hotel to purchase a ticket, sold by Blanchard—$5.00 for the best spot, $2.00 for back seats— because his expenses exceeded his income. By not doing so, they missed best spot to observe the most interesting scene the human eye ever beheld and to join President Washington, Vice President John Adams, and Secretary of state Thomas Jefferson, in doing so. Perhaps House of Representatives leader James Madison and James Monroe were also present.

The city remained closed until the balloon was lost to sight. However, people gathered for miles around on the surrounding hills and along the Atlantic coast were alerted by the cheers and yells. They watched the sky, hoping the balloon would fly in their direction. New Yorkers prayed for a sufficiently fair wind to direct Blanchard’s flight to their city.

Blanchard soared over Philadelphia like Icarus. From this unique vantage point he could easily see the entire square mile brick and wood city beneath him, beginning at the Delaware River and running west to Eighth Street, where the countryside’s unpaved roads began. He could see where the city ended at Vine Street, three blocks north of Market—the suburb of Northern Liberties was just beyond. Just one mile south the city ended at Cedar Street at the suburb of Southwark. He probably saw west as far as the Schuylkill River.

 

He saw ‘a whitish cloud (that) withheld from my sight for several minutes a part of the city of Philadelphia….A thick fog covered the south; toward the east…a mist arose, which prevented me from reconnoitering the area.’

The wind took his balloon east across northern Philadelphia, floated past Market and Race streets, crossed Fourth, Third, then Second streets. He had a bird’s seagull’s eye view of the working-class section of the city, the most densely populated city neighborhood. He saw houses belonging to blacksmiths, cordwainers, furniture makers, and other artisans and tradesmen, who worked on the first floor and lived above their shops with their families.

How small the people on the crowded sidewalks looked, shoppers on the way to the markets, clerks heading to shops selling goods from all over the world, servants wending their way through the crowd to complete their errands. Their busyness was interrupted as they paused, looked up, pointed to, gasped, and commented to each other about this strange thing floating in the sky above them. Blanchard could hear some of their yells that alerted non-observers to the sight.

As Blanchard’s air transportation floated over Philadelphia between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers he easily spotted and identified three towering buildings that testified to Philadelphia’s status as the nation’s political, cultural and economic capital during the 1790s. The newly constructed Bank of the United States was located in south Philadelphia, the city’s political and financial sector. Two blocks westward the State House and Congress Hall stood tall. He also saw the large public library and the museum that held an almost complete collection of the minerals and animals of North America. These structures marked the city as the single great metropolis in this newly formed country, a metropolis most agreeable to foreigners. The city was a gathering place for people who cultivate literary and scientific inquiry.

The wind shifted as Blanchard floated toward the Delaware River, pushing his aircraft south towards Philadelphia’s port—the center of commercial life where leathery-handed stevedores on the dock looked skyward. He saw warehouses lining the riverside, and wooden wharves, jutting into the Delaware River, that welcomed ships from the Caribbean, Europe, and ports as distant as India and China. They came to trade goods for produce from the Atlantic breadbasket, as the fertile Delaware River valley was known.

The balloon rose, carrying Blanchard south, parallel with the Delaware River. From on high he saw the handsome new mansions along Society Hill, above the recently covered Dock Creek, where the nation’s elite held their elaborate salons and luxurious dinner parties.

A mild northwest breeze carried the balloon steadily upward to about 200 fathoms as it traveled toward the Delaware River. As the balloon finally leveled off in a state of perfect equilibrium at 5,800 feet Blanchard observed sparkling sunbeams on the water below, making the river appear like a ribbon the breadth of about four inches.

A flock of wild pigeons flew by and scattered into two groups, frightened at the sight of a human being invading their special realm. The small dog whimpered restlessly at the sound of the bird’s activity, but was reassured by a pat on the head from Blanchard.

While airborne Blanchard became an aeronautical scientist (the first test pilot in America), performing several experiments. He filled and sealed six bottles ‘with that atmospherical air wherein I was floating.’ He next used his pocket watch to time his pulse, carefully noting that airborne his pulse averaged 92, while earthbound it was no more than 84 in the same given time….’ He also weighed a lodestone that earthbound ‘raised 51Ž2 ounces avoirdupois’ but at his greatest altitude weighed only 4 ounces.’

As Blanchard floated through the sky the winds pushed him where they would. It balloon continued to drift southeasterly across the New Jersey side of the river in an increasing wind. Blanchard relaxed briefly, satisfying his appetite ‘with a morsel of biscuit and a glass of wine.’

Thinking he saw the Atlantic Ocean in the distance Blanchard prepared to descend. He carefully stowed his delicate instruments in boxes to prevent them from breaking on landing. He cleared several decorations from the side of the basket, valved out some hydrogen, and emptied several excess ballast bags overboard.

Then he guided the balloon in a downward course by carefully manipulating the gas valve and judging the weight of remaining ballast, steering it to a safe landing in an open, plowed field near Woodbury, N.J. 46 minutes after his departure from Philadelphia the first aerial voyage in America ended successfully after traveling about 15 miles.

Upon landing his canine passenger immediately debarked and made off for the nearest tree.

Blanchard worked quickly to release the gas from the silken globe then unloaded his instruments, checking them for breakage. Only his barometer was broken.

He next had to solve a common balloonist problem: how to return to Philadelphia. He sighted his compass toward the northwest and saw a farmer staring open-mouthed at him, a strange foreigner who dropped so silently from the skies.

Knowing little English, Blanchard yelled out in French, frightening the farmer, who stepped backward several paces. Blanchard, fearing he’d run away, held up the bottle of wine and gestured to him to share a drink. The husky farmer approached warily and took a sip, but only after the stranger downed a swig first. Blanchard soon had a willing helper, thanks to the medium of ‘the exhilarating juice of the grape.’

Although they couldn’t converse and the farmer couldn’t read the passport letter Blanchard carried, the farmer recognized Washington’s name Washington when Blanchard spoke.

A second farmer arrived, armed with an ancient musket. Frightened by the huge globe lying on its side, he dropped his gun and lifted his hands skyward in prayer. The first farmer explained what he understood of the situation again, the name Washington was understood. More people appeared and saw Washington’s letter, and everyone helped this intriguing stranger. Several men neatly folded his balloon and stowed it in a wagon. Others escorted him to Cooper’s Ferry on the banks of the Delaware River, where Blanchard crossed to the Pennsylvania side.

Before he bid his new-found friends goodbye he quickly drew up a document and asked them to certify ‘that we the subscribers saw the bearer, Mr. Blanchard, settle in his balloon in Deptford Township, County of Gloucester, in the State of New Jersey, about 10 o’clock 56 minutes, a.m….on the ninth day of January, anno Domini, 1793.’

Blanchard, arriving in Philadelphia that evening, was greeted by a cheering crowd of well-wishers who formed lines to shake his hand. At 7 p.m., he fisited President Washington and presented him with the flag he had borne aloft on his epic flight.

The experiment was pronounced a complete success. All manner of uses to which the balloon might be put were suggested in jest and earnest. Money was raised to pay back the four hundred guineas the experiment had cost Blanchard.

The brief flight deeply affected all who witnessed the takeoff. Dr. Benjamin Rush, in a letter to a colleague, wrote: ‘For some time days past the conversation in our city has turned wholly upon Mr. Blanchard’s late Aerial Voyage. It was truly a sublime sight. Every faculty of the mind was seized, expanded and captivated by it, 40,000 people concentrating their eyes and thoughts at the same instant, upon the same object, and all deriving nearly the same degree of pleasure from it.’

December 18, 2014

The 8 Maids-a-milking & the 8 Beatitudes

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

THE EIGHT MAIDS-A-MILKING

AND

THE EIGHT BEATITUDES

We’re too blessed to be stressed…even in a holiday season.

Eight maids-a-milking…the eighth gift in the song the Twelve Days of Christmas…is the theme of the Monte and Carolyn Holland 2014 Christmas ornament (each year our Christmas card is a hand-made ornament). NOTE: Each illustration uses one of my seven sisters, plus myself, our heads superimposed on pictures of maids-a-milking.

Nancy Lee, Sister 1

Nancy Lee, Sister 1

The eight maids a-milking addresses two of the major themes of fifteenth and sixteenth century English celebrations and parties during the Christmas holidays – food and romance.

Typically, the work of milking cows (and goats) was a woman’s job. Although milk was not a common beverage during this pre-refrigeration time (it spoiled too quickly), milk based products did not spoil so rapidly. Cheese, sour milk, and custards—which were prized treats for celebrations.

And the word maid? It’s a shortened form of (more…)

December 9, 2014

International Friends Share Our Life Journey — Part 2

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS SHARE OUR LIFE JOURNEY

Part 2

The following piece was written between July 1985 and summer 1988. It has been updated from then to include relationships to the present date.

During our children’s growing up years they met special people from foreign countries, people who joined their life journey to ours. This is Part 2 of their stories. Read Part 1 at

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David, an 18-year-old exchange student from Germany. We co-hosted him with our then neighbors Rhonda and Tom—we had the sleeping space, they did the high school activities with their children and they cooked dinner regularly. David learned a lot during his stay with us—how to do his laundry, how to iron, how to tie a tie. He was great at skateboarding. But most of all, he held a baby, my great-niece Haleigh, for the first time. He returned to Germany at the end of the school year.

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Another good friend came from my paternal grandmother’s country, Sweden. We met Roy through a fellow writer, the late Diane Potter. On each of his visits we hung the Swedish flag, which delighted him. He often told the story about dynamite being invented in Sweden, and went with us to a St. Lucia program at the Church of the Savior in Cleveland Heights, Ohio (my son’s church). Read about it at  Sancta Lucia: Swedish Christmas Tradition with Italian Roots

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In recent years I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Holocaust survivors Bob Mendler and Janet Singer, perhaps the only two child survivors of (more…)

December 2, 2014

Best Laid Plans, Interrupted, Offer Opportunity

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

BEST LAID PLANS, INTERUPTED, OFFER OPPORTUNITY

Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday? 

OK, I was unaware of this. A Tuesday newspaper article alerted me to the day. However, we were thrown into a giving experience on December 1, 2014, the day before that year’s Giving Tuesday. Allow me to share the story with you.

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I’d planned a quiet day clearing up some paperwork, writing, making turkey broth from leftover turkey bones. However, the best laid plans…you know the rest of this cliché…

Blood dripped onto my kitchen floor as I examined the cut on husband’s index finger. Its depth had me suggesting he might need stitches. I finally convinced him to go to the emergency room as his AB+ red fluid flowed freely into the bathroom sink unless he put real pressure on it.

Monte and I entered the emergency room almost simultaneously as another gentleman.  We looked at each other while waiting to sign in. He looked so familiar.

“John?” That morning I’d had a man cancel an interview due to illness, and he mentioned he might have to go to the emergency room.

“I’m Walter,” the man (more…)

November 25, 2014

Give Thanks for the Ordinary

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

GIVE THANKS FOR THE ORDINARY

When the extraordinary becomes ordinary and the ordinary evolves into entitlement the need for giving thanks dissipates.

When I first visited Kentuck Knob I wondered why Frank Lloyd Wright located the structure a distance back from the knob, denying residents the opportunity to view the knob’s spectacular sunrises over the rolling Laurel Highlands hills, the Youghiogheny River gorge and nearby farmland.w of the .

I learned that Wright chose the location away from the peak to enable the house to become part of the landscape. It’s also my understanding that he also chose that location so that persons who wanted to experience the view had to make an effort, had to walk from the house to the knob—because he understood that a scene of beauty readily available would soon become commonplace, making it ordinary, and therefore less miraculous, less profound.

When we first visited our community of Laurel Mountain Borough it was magical. The one-lane gravel roads, the forested atmosphere, the almost eccentric aura contrasted with the cookie-cutter world we were accustomed to. We felt like we were being transported back in time to an era reputed to be less stressful, to a back-to-earth time. It was magical.

Gradually this profound, magical, feeling dissipated. The sense of uniqueness and magic evolved into the commonplace, the ordinary.

This evolution from the miraculous, the profound, to the commonplace, the ordinary, is a part of the human condition. Once a situation becomes ordinary it evolves into entitlement.

Which brings me to a statement I read in the November 23, 2014, newspaper column, Giving thanks can be a challenge. The quote is somewhat altered: That which was a pleasant and gracious (experience) year quickly becomes an expected entitlement. That for which I was thankful in the past, I now assume to be my right.

The author, Gary Welton, professor of psychology at Grove City College (Pennsylvania), noted that he’s been blessed with incredible health, yet I have never appreciated it. I have only taken it for granted. Only when I am ill do I recognize the incredible gift I have been given.

That for which we feel entitled we don’t feel thankful for. It it belongs to us so there is no need to give thanks.

 

Perhaps we need to step back from the commonplace, the ordinary, in our lives and revisit it with new eyes. So today (and every day) I will be thankful for (in no particular order):

  • my morning coffee, and the persons who planted the seeds, grew it to maturity, picked the beans, prepared them for market, and transported them, all so I can enjoy my morning wake-up time
  • my morning newspaper, and the journalists (who sometimes risk their lives) to research, interview subjects, and write the copy; and for the delivery person who brings it to my newspaper box in the wee hours of the morning so I can relax reading it while partaking of my morning coffee
  • my gray cat King and his former owner, who abandoned two cats in our community, one of which adopted our family. King offers us companionship, adulation, and conversation
  • my family, without whom I would not be who I am today
  • the dishes that clutter my kitchen counter, waiting to be washed and put away. I am no more entitled to this luxury than is the person living in a hut eating out of pie tin
  • water that flows freely from  my household taps, water I am no more entitled to than the woman who must walk a mile to find water to fill the jugs she carries back to her home.

I could continue, but I think you have the idea.

Do you agree with the items on this list? For what do you feel entitled, so thoughtlessly leave off your list of things to be thankful for? I invite you to share your thoughts in the comment box below.

May you and your yours have a blessed Thanksgiving.

November 18, 2014

International Friends Share Our Life Journey — Part 1

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS SHARE OUR LIFE JOURNEY

Part 1

The following piece was written between July 1985 and summer 1988. It has been updated from then to include relationships to the present date.

During our children’s growing up years they met special people from foreign countries, people who joined their life journey to ours. Below are some of their stories.

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One such person was Hung Pheng Tan, a graduate student at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where my husband Monte taught. We were his American host family, and when we relocated from SUNY@Buffalo to Slippery Rock University, Pennsylvania, he visited our new community. He was the first international person our daughter Sandy met—although I’m certain she doesn’t recall knowing him back then, as she was only a few months old. Hung Pheng was present at her baptism. She remet him (and his wife) when the couple visited us in 1988, and my son Nolan met him for the first time.

Whether from Singapore or America, we all feel joy

Whether from Singapore or America, we all feel joy

When they visited us in July 2014 Sandy could introduce him, his wife, and his college-age son to her daughter, a sweet sixteen.

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Joseph, a Cameroon (Africa) native, lodged with us for a short time while studying at Slippery Rock University. He needed work and we needed help in our country-style life—especially with planting trees. When he moved on he left behind a young boy—our son—who, for almost two years, rejected the use of silverware in favor of fingers.  This was the result of the effects of an African dish meant to be eaten with the fingers, a technique Nolan applied to almost all foods.

When Joseph’s wife Susanne came to the United States to join him and to study here, she left their son in their native country. While here she also became a special friend. Susanne became pregnant just before we left for Atlanta, Georgia, where my husband Monte studied for the ministry. Understandably they lacked many needed items. Our family prepared a pond-side baby shower for Susanne, complete with a warm-weather swim to cool off. In attendance were several elderly neighbors as well as younger folk, all of whom were exposed to her Cameroon culture. Her son arrived a month later while we were in Atlanta.

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During our three-year sojourn in Atlanta Samir and Farial, from Egypt, joined our life journey. We met through a program that connected foreign visitors with (more…)

October 30, 2014

Sears Employees Demonstrate Kindness

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

SEARS EMPLOYEES DEMONSTRATE KINDNESS

Making a Difference in a Customer’s Life

Even though the wet spot under the car could be a remnant of the rain that fell the previous night, my suspicions were raised: Was there something wrong with the car? As a sensible human being I don’t trust mechanical contraptions.

I’d driven 40 minutes that morning, from home to the 2014 Health & Education Expo, a senior health expo supported by the Westmoreland County Board of Commissioners, the Westmoreland County Area Agency on Aging and other county agencies. I met Kim Ward, Pennsylvania State Senator, whom I’d previously contacted on legislation on open adoption records for adult adoptees. I’d taken advantage of several offerings—a hand massage, a back massage, a hearing test, a blood pressure reading, lots of candy samples, a snack.

And I’d enjoyed a presentation by KDKA-TV news anchor and caregiver advocate Jennifer Antkowiak titled Don’t Stress! Coping with Caregiver Stress.

It came time to leave, so I went to my car and saw the suspicious almost-puddle under the hooded part of my car. I pulled out my camera (of course, very low battery) and snapped a couple of shots of the wet spot

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141029 DSC03905Ebefore I drove to the mall across the 4-lane highway and parked behind Sears, where I had to make an exchange. I accomplished my mission and, not having to rush home I wandered around the mall stores for a couple of hours.

Wanting to drive home in daylight I went to the car just before sunset. As I approached the car I noticed an almost-puddle under the front of the car.

141029 DSC03907EOops. My suspicions had confirmation. I again pulled out my camera and snapped a picture.

The car had a problem, and I had about 7 miles of wooded highway to drive through, a drive that would make a lone woman vulnerable if the car was disabled, particularly at dusk or later.

My cell phone had experienced problems and wasn’t working, and I hadn’t picked up my husband’s cell phone. I’d been enjoyable incommunicado all day, but now I was concerned.

I went into Sears and stopped at the service desk closest to (more…)

September 24, 2014

Separation of Church & State: A Historic Boiling Pot

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE:

A HISTORIC BOILING POT

 The melting pot that America’s Christian founders guarded never boiled like this…Their historic wall between government and religion kept the peace among fractured Protestant sects, helping the United States build shared schools and a common culture early in the 1790s.*

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Did religious freedom exist as Europeans settled on North American soil, in what was to become the United States of America?

In my background research for my novel Intertwined Love I’ve discovered that the melting pot on American soil has, from the time of the founding settlers, been boiling “just like this”

The Province Charter of 1691 provided that, in Massachusetts, there be “a liberty of Conscience allowed in the Worshipp of God to all Christians Except Papists.”

  • Note: Papist is a (usually disparaging) term or an anti-Catholic slur, referring to the Roman Catholic Church, its teachings, practices, or adherents.)

Barely a year later the basic principle of religious establishment was laid down by statute:

  •  “Able, learned, orthodox” ministers “of good conversation,” approved by a majority of the church-going voters in a “town or place” were to be supported by taxes levied upon all of the inhabitants…For towns which were delinquent in providing such a minister, the Court of General Sessions for the county could “take effectual care to procure and settle a minister qualified as aforesaid, and order the charge thereof and of such minister’s maintenance to be levied on the inhabitants of such town.”

Each Massachusetts “town or place” had an established church or congregation that represented the beliefs of a majority of community residents—generally Calvinist doctrine and (more…)

September 11, 2014

9/11: 13 Years Later—2014

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

9/11:

2014, THIRTEEN YEARS LATER

Today we pause to remember the 9/11/2001 events that altered so many aspects of the United States. My husband Monte and I live about 20 miles from where Flight 93 crashed in Somerset County. Below is a list of articles I’ve posted through the years since the tragedy. I hope you take time to read some of them on this day of remembrance. Click on the titles to access the complete articles.

All of the following articles are posted on CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS except LMB RESIDENT’S SEPT. 11, 2001 STORY: Part 1 of 2 and The Twin Towers 

NOTE: The Westmoreland County Historical Society magazine being released later this month contains an in depth article on Flight of Valor, the music composition commissioned by the Somerset County Community Band. It ties in the roles many Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, residents took following the crash of Flight 93 in the adjacent county of Somerset.

NOTE: September 11 is also the birthday of my late nephew Todd James Jay. Keep my sister in your prayers today, too.

LMB RESIDENT’S SEPT. 11, 2001 STORY: Part 1 of 2

NOTE: This story is posted on the Laurel Mountain Borough newsletter site.

LMB resident John was working in one of the twin towers in New York City the morning of September 11, 2001. His story will be posted in the LMBoroLMPark Newsletter in three parts. To view photo illustrations taken by John, click on:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lmborolmpark
http://www.flickr.com/photos/beaneryonlineliterarymagazineOn September 11, 2001, John was in New York City working as a freelance sound recordist/video engineer. He had many clients in downtown New York, where he found most of his jobs. He also worked in Philadelphia and other places, but the New York work was most challenging.This Tuesday he was working at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (Company), a very large financial consultant company similar to J. P. Morgan. He’s worked there a half dozen times. They had a television studio they’d just built, completed in December 2000.They had called me to (more…)

September 9, 2014

Welcoming the Stranger Into Your Church

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

WELCOMING THE STRANGER INTO YOUR CHURCH

NOTE: When I saw the September 8, 2014, WordPress prompt, Greetings-stranger, my first thought was welcoming strangers into the church. Was it  a coincidence—or a God-incidence—that the title of the September 8th Upper Room devotion, written by Hugh Lake of Georgia, was Welcome Stranger?Some of the content of the following was excerpted from this devotion.

The boxes of stuff were finally unpacked, freeing me to explore our new community. It had taken several months to unpack, during which I’d noticed a small café tucked behind the local dime store.

On a midweek midmorning I entered the cozy homelike café. I took a seat at a table for two. The steaming coffee hit the spot, and I settled in, reading the local newspaper left behind by an earlier customer while waiting for my order of scrambled eggs, rye toast, and sausage links.

I was absorbed in a local story when I was startled by a tap on my shoulder.

“What’s your name?” the tall, older woman asked.

“Carolyn,” I said. “Carolyn Holland.”

“I’m Anna. I’ve been looking for you,” she said. “I saw your name in the guest book at church last Sunday and hoped I’d see you somewhere this week. May I join you?”

“Certainly,” I said, welcoming the company.

“It was nice you visited my church,” she said. “Are you considering returning?”

“My husband and I are visiting different churches in the community. We’re not certain where we’ll end up.”

“It can be scary to walk into a new church, being a stranger. Tell me about your explorations.”

For some reason I felt comfortable enough with Anna to share my impressions of the church visits.

“I’ve been really disappointed. I’d hoped we would find an authentic church environment but it hasn’t happened. We visited several churches in our denomination. We visited one three times and not one person spoke to us. In the others we were greeted at the door and then ignored. It’s not that I expect we should be fawned over, but at least there should be some welcome extended to a visitor.”

“Sometimes those of us who’ve been part of a local church for years forget how scary it can be to walk in as a stranger. We may also forget the importance (more…)

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