Slowly the evening veils the land. The tree frogs intone as only they can. In a far deeper note, a Bull frog decrees from his post at the pond’s edge. A message is imbued by this curious choir, assuring that all is well. And the curtain is drawn on another day that has given its all.

What message is parlayed by this curious choir?

That answer couldn’t be more clear. All was quite well at the pond. The message could not have been more clear. The chorus only sought to verify. The Spring breeze only sought to verify the subtle truth.



Had a good chat this morning with my long-time friend, Alex (Arlo, Sandy, Alexander) Mitchell. We first played in the sand pile at Tuckaway when we were both at the tender age of two.

A profound thought crossed my mind after our conversation ended. How many of us are fortunate enough to have just had a visit with a buddy of nearly 70 years? That’s all good!


How can this FACEBOOK monstrosity not remind us of days gone by? You know, when life was easier. Sending a message to someone was a simple matter of finding a pen that works and getting to a desk where you could write.

Your first error was only in the second line, so instead of scratching it out, you could just chuck the piece of paper and start over with a fresh one. That’s OK. Surely it’s the only mistake you’ll make in this four page letter.

It’s being sent to your friend Shadrack in California, so thank heavens the Pony Express days are long gone. Heck, this will only take four days to get to the west coast.

The letter is finished, so you need only to read it over, fold it, place it in an envelope, lick the back, lick the proper total in stamps (enough with the lickin). Then get it to the mailbox. It’s only a half mile out to the end of the lane.

Today’s contrast is remarkable. Your letter is written. Press SEND. Seconds later, Shadrack in California is reading it. How many more quantum leaps can the world take before we’re moving faster than we can keep up with it?


A momentous birthday is approaching. No, not yours. Heck, you’re a youngster!

No, it’s mine, as though I needed to remind myself. Is it a symptom of aging when a simple drive around the countryside reminds me of time marching on? You know, mortality and all that.

It’s like this. Judy is driving. ( I don’t drive.) That leaves me with abundant time to look out the window, to gaze at scenery, to space out or to say something to Jude like, “old Joe Etz used to live there.” That, of course, was when we passed old Joe Etz’s house.

It’s still there, though a bit ramshackle.

Nonetheless, Judy will reply, “Who the Hell is Joe Etz?”

I’m an odd ball in that I’ve lived at the same place my whole life. Who does that anymore? Same farm, same fields, same trees, but larger now. The streams are the same streams, but have altered their course over the years.

It has always seemed quizzical to me that our state levies huge fines upon anyone who dares to excavate near a stream, yet the stream itself moves tons of gravel and soil over time. Water goes where water wants to.

A brilliant American intellectual once wrote, “Time is but the stream I go a’fishin’ in. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.”

I think I get it, Mr. Thoreau. Surely yours was a stabilizing influence in your neighborhood. Lord only knows if the same could be said for me.

Surely it could for old Joe Etz.



It was a tad chilly this March afternoon, but there I sat wearing my down coat, ensconced on the writer’s perch and taking in the rays. I was alone; Judy off running errands hither and yon. She wouldn’t be back for a while.

A totally unpredictable sequence was then visited upon me. It occurred with pinpoint timing, as though previously planned, but no such arrangement was afoot. At least, I didn’t think so.

It was unusual for my longtime buddy, Charlie Mann, to show up, unusual only because his visit was unexpected. Otherwise, Charlie is virtually part of my family. In a matter of seconds, we were engaged in our standard banter. It’s always good to see Charlie.

He had barely gotten seated when my brother Dave made his way up the driveway. In short order, this combination inched the conversation up a notch. Since childhood, Charlie was part of the mix down here in the hollow. Among many endeavors, Charlie helped me bale hay commonly. Although he lived a stone’s throw from Little York, Charlie was around the farm frequently.

He didn’t just mix with the Tucker boys. The Mitchells were the other family in the hollow. They had daughters!! No other explanation is needed for Charlie’s consistent presence.

The Mitchells have long since flown their coop. Alex Mitchell, my boyhood buddy, was also pals with Charlie. These days Alex lives out near Gettysburg, a long haul. Indeed, we had all been together a few years back. Alex (we call him Arlo) brought us all together at the State Theatre in Easton.

Arlo, you see, plays an accomplished fiddle. Playing at the time with the John Denver Tribute Band, at show’s end he separated himself from the band and broke into his version of Orange Blossom Special. The applause cracked the plaster in the ceiling!

That sets up the next domino. Brother Dave, Charlie and I sat in the living room reminiscing about any number of notables when up the driveway came yet another vehicle. Without a clue, I peered out the window to ascertain who had arrived . This was nothing short of surreal. Alex Mitchell stepped out of the car.

We all sat there in, at least a smidgen of disbelief . How did this unlikely conclave fall together? I mean Bretton Woods was one thing, but Tuckaway Woods was another! We fettered not with such detail; rather let the party begin.

– Do note. This post will be blog bound at


Perhaps someone should write about stiles before they totally go out of style!

I know what you’re asking. Has this old farmer finally been jilted from his senses? What the hell is he talking about? Bare with me a moment while I back up several decades.

It’s the very early 1950s. My folks just purchased a farm in Alexandria Township. Many years later, I purchased most of it from them, but the folks’ original acquisition was from the former New Jersey Congressman Fred Allan Hartley, renowned for his legislation, the Taft/Hartley Act which, to this day limits some of the powers of labor unions.

This was not without a battle in Congress. The legislation survived President Truman’s veto before it became federal law, but I digress. Hartley later retired to a different Alexandria property off of Rick Road where he peacefully lived out his days.

In the meantime, what about this stile? It is from an Old English word meaning a set of stairs that allows ascent/ descent up and over a fence without use of any gate, yet disallowing use by livestock.Stiles were clever and certainly a throwback to distant old times.

In the earlier days of Tuckaway Farm, there was still a stile or two left in the fences, left there by Mr. Hartley. Apparently he spared no expense in creating stylish stiles, complete with twisted finials atop the stair posts. I, an enthused toddler at the time, took delight in an untold number of trips back and forth over the stile closest to the house. A youngster delights in the simplest things, don’t you think?


Not long ago, some folks in my humble circle were reminiscing about the coldest temperature they’d ever witnessed here in Hunterdon County. A logical progression from that subject would seem to be the heaviest snowfall that ever WOWED any of us, that is, here in Hunterdon.

I am humored by the memory of my Dad, a Michigan boy in childhood, describing a certain snowstorm with the words, “it snowed like the hammers of hell”. That seemed quite descriptive to me.

One snowfall, I think in 1966 , it snowed like the proverbial hammers of Hell. I could hardly believe the sheer depth of the snow. Mind you, I’ve since witnessed a “lake effect” snow or two up on New York’s Tug Hill Plateau. That ‘66 snow surely rivaled what Tug Hill had to offer. That year it really did snow like the hammers of hell.

I recall the Piell farm here in Alexandria (corner of Mt. Salem Road and Rt. 579) a spot where the snow drifts so deeply that a plow wouldn’t move it. With a backhoe the road crew tunneled a path for the school bus through Piell’s barnyard, then re-joined the road. The view looking out the school bus window was simply a wall of white, taller than the top of the bus. That scene is indelibly etched in the mind of this former school kid…

Given this snapshot of history, I am disposed to ponder how present day Alexandria would have fared through the likes of that storm. What do you think?


Mrs. Case’s class got themselves into a bit of hot water that day. It was nap time, a tradition steeped in the rituals of “Kinnygarten”, as my classmate, the late Ed Bush called it. The year? 1958, Alexandria Township School. Each kid had brought his/her own blanket to school, such to repose on the rock-hard floor for 20 minutes in the middle of the day. (Did Mrs. Case really think that any of us would sleep?)

You’ll pardon me please. I know that I’ve written about this incident already in my book, MEMOIRS of a JERSEY FARM BOY, but there’s a new wrinkle now. We’ve started to die! Not to mention, township residents are convulsing over what to do with the old structure. Rent it (who would?) or tear it down. For the love of Ed Bush, is nothing sacred? I want a souvenir brick from it when they do.

Rest assured that nap time had parameters. Silence was the Golden Rule. Mrs. Case would finally get us bedded down, though us five year-olds didn’t speak of the procedure in that term. Then we’d lie there in attempted stone silence. Mrs. Case would leave the room for a few minutes. When she returned, it had REALLY better be quiet.

That one day we commenced our nod when just outside of the classroom window a cock- pheasant began to crow, Very loudly! Well, far be it from us to take this lying down. In fact, when Mrs. Case re-entered the room, there was the entire class, all 14 of us, lined up along the windows. Our faces were glued to the glass, doing our best to catch a glimpse of this glorious bird. Undoubtedly, we were in TROUBLE!

Mrs. Case’s lip quivered with an angry tremor. She was PISSED, though us five-year-olds never would have said so.

As I recollect this episode, I am struck by its innocence. There were plenty of pheasants about the Alexandria countryside in those days. There was nothing terribly malicious in my classmates’ action that day. Mrs. Case eventually got over it. It reminds me of a lyric from an old Barbara Mandrell tune. “I was country before country was cool.”


The world is full of coincidence. If you don’t believe that, travel a little. You’ll see how your conversations bear out what I’m saying.

For example, I sit here on a plane this morning in Sarasota, Florida, soon to be bound for Allentown, PA. It always pains me to abandon the Florida sunshine only to re-enter the UGH ZONE. That is Jersey/Pennsylvania snow, freezing rain, sleet and the like, but I drift.

I’m seated next to Linda and Duane. Here the coincidence enters the fray. Linda has a gorgeous horse, a quarter horse that she keeps at her home near Point Pleasant, PA. To boot, she has horse friends that live in Alexandria Township, New Jersey. That township, she informs me, has an indoor arena where she occasionally rides with her Alexandria friends.

I’m sorry all of you lofty scholars that I should invoke the hideous subject of probabilities, but I need ask: what are the chances that I would have this discussion this morning with a perfect stranger in Sarasota, Florida?

You get my drift, don’t you?

What goes around comes around

Conversation this morning with my dear daughter-in-law, Becky, flitted from one subject to another. Yesterday we had touched on the fact that I was DISTANTLY related to Johann Sebastian Bach. To have a little fun with the fact, I tapped the keyboard of my iPad to play his Toccata and Fugue in D -minor. The organ never sounded so good.

This morning Becky evoked the subject of Ray Manzarek, the former keyboardist of rock n roll’s one and only THE DOORS. That, of course, had me lurching for my iPad again. Manzarek’s organ riff in Light My Fire sounded pretty good, too!

While we had the iPad in hand, why not Google a little info on Ray Manzarek? We did. We didn’t have to read much longer to learn who it was in the music world who motivated Manzarek: Johann Sebastian Bach. What goes around comes around!