Readuponit: Travel and voracious reading

Max Hartshorne, travel website editor, sharing some of the stuff I read, hear and see with you. Updated every day. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Dr Gale Potee, A Rich and Full Life, Well-Lived

by Max Hartshorne on August 27, 2014

Dr Gale Potee

Dr Gale Potee

Obituaries  hold a special interest to me. I read them every day in the Recorder, and I’m always fascinated by how people are remembered and what gets included.  These days, any long obituary that’s not written about a famous person or someone in public life is paid for. So then I think about how much the very long ones must have cost–I wanted to publish an obit for my friend Joe Obeng when he passed away in 2012, but the cost was more than $500, so instead, I wrote a tribute to him on this blog.

Today’s paper had an obit for Dr Gale Potee, and from what I read, he sounded like an extraordinary fellow. His daughter Ruth Potee followed her father’s footsteps and practices medicine in Greenfield. Here is some of what was written about this doctor, who lived a very long life, born to Christian missionaries in India in 1924.

“He had many passions including building stone walls, collecting over 20,000 Massachusetts vanity license plates, and traveling to 42 states as well as 24 countries. He returned to his beloved India three times. He prided himself as a bibliophile and surrounded himself with shelves holding more than 2000 books.

Summers he spent at the Chautauqua Institute in upstate New York, where he began writing sonnets in 2000. A poet at heart, he had written more than 15,000 sonnets!  Most important, Gale Potee was the most loving, understanding and supportive father imaginable. “

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The Summer’s Best Trip

by Max Hartshorne on August 23, 2014

Block island beach day.

Block Island beach day.

It’s the wind down season and every year I think about how fleeting the summer has been. I was with my granddaughter Sofie last week, enjoying dinner on their deck, and I asked her what her favorite part of the summer was. Was it the visit to the Maine beach? Was it the horseback riding camp?  Or was it the family reunion at Eagles Mere with all of your cousins?

She was stumped. Never did give me an answer. But it got me to thinking about my own summer highlights and what I enjoyed doing this summer.  I was lucky to travel quite a bit.

I began even before summer with a trip in late May to Midi Pyrenees, France and to central Portugal.  In France I spent the whole trip with a young guide who showed her native province with pride. Jeanne was honest, though, it’s kinda boring living in some of these historic towns, and she takes off for Toulouse and the seashore as often as she can.

The highlight of that trip was a dinner on a night with a beautiful twilight with a family who grow grapes to make Armagnac--a retired former clothing executive, his lively second wife and his rascal son who lives nearby in Auch. I was a member of the family sitting there with my guide Jeanne, and they told me all about their lives and how they take care of their 85 and 89 year old inlaws who live right across the lane. I slept that night in a watchtower that was converted into a luxurious B&B.

Then I met Paul Shoul in Portugal and started a whole new adventure. That was filled with lots of visits with chefs, which are always fun since they always end up cooking for us. These two trips were great but I have to cede the top highlight of the summer to another trip. My sea voyage up the New England coast with Mary on the Grande Caribe added up to a series of the summer’s best moments. Every day we’d wake up and be at another island–from Cuttyhunk to Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and Block Island. And the fast friends we made and the moments of absolute bliss while in the harbor, cruising at night and walking down the gangplank made this the summer’s best.

What was your summer highlight, now that we’re facing that oh so sad bitter end?

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Building the New Railroad Crossing on Elm Street

by Max Hartshorne on August 21, 2014

fixing the elm street crossingI was told that instead of laying down a bed of gravel when they’re building railroad tracks, they put the track down first. Then they dump this load of stones over top and lift up the track, so the gravel settles where it’s needed in a uniform grade.
track repairtracks2

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Callie, Caro, Peter and Leslie Heller.

Callie, Caro, Peter and Leslie Heller.

Caro Watkins Heller passed away last night. She was my god mother and she was a big part of my childhood growing up in Blawenburg, New Jersey.  Caro and then-husband John Heller used to come down and visit us in the New Jersey countryside, and we would go and visit them often in Brooklyn Heights.  Their kids were the city mice and we were the country mice, we used to joke.

There are many memories of  Caro that I carry with me. She was someone who was genuinely interested in everything someone was saying, she was an avid listener, and a fascinating person too.  She indulged in a passion for finding lost people and  found many souls whose relatives thought they had vanished. She was clever like that.

In the 1970s, when the Hellers would descend on our family house in Blawenburg, it was an exciting time.  It was special because they were special.  Once Caro and my mother, fast friends to the very end, decided to stay up all night, and they capped it off by riding bicycles to Mountain View Road to watch the sun come up over a ridge.  I had lots of adventures visiting their family in their big apartment at One Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn Heights, and Caro and John were wonderful and kind hosts.

Later in my life as I spent time in New England, I didn’t see Caro in person, but I kept up a tradition. She would send me a birthday card with a $50 bill in it and I’d always take the time to write a long and detailed letter updating her on everything I was doing. It was a fun exercise to recount what had happened that year and her cards to me kept coming year after year and I’d reply with what were long thank you notes about my whereabouts.

We got a chance to visit with Caro and her partner Peter Beveridge about 12 years ago, in their apartment next to the river on Old Fulton Street.  She took special delight in showing us her impressive collection of handguns, including her favorite, a Glock 9 mm.  She was  a liberal, and someone you wouldn’t think would carry a handgun, but she had her permits and she had pistol range training and she was proud of the arsenal she kept in her safe.  She got a kick out of showing us.

Caro had a long life, and is survived by three wonderful children, Callie, Peter and Leslie, who have all become good citizens and made her proud. I am proud to have known Caro and a testament to what a wonderful person she was is how close my mom and dad remained to her and John since they first met in the early 1950s.

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The Big Wedding Weekend of 2014

August 14, 2014

Tweet Today I had to put down the duties of publishing for far more important work, with a much stricter task master. We are getting ready for a wedding. A big one. The daughter!  And thus was there a list created and on that list were many things that would not  wait just one more [...]

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Bill Bernhardt Never Reveals He’s a Guide When He Hires One

August 10, 2014

Tweet Our tour of New England’s tippy top continued as we said goodbye to Pittsburg and made our way down blue highways out of the Granite state and up into Vermont’s lakeside town, Newport, on Mephremagog. Before we left we Bill Bernhardt, a fishing guide with Lopstick Outfitters, who makes his living taking visitors out [...]

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