Let’s hope Cecil the lion was not slaughtered for naught

B9318299662Z.1_20150801191002_000_GGCBGEU0U.7-0It was well over 200 years ago now that Jeremy Bentham asked about animals, “The question is not, ‘Can they reason?’ nor ‘Can they talk?’ but ‘Can they suffer?’” It was a rhetorical question even then. Obviously animals can suffer; obviously animals feel pain.

Last week the Internet, the news media, and Minnesotans publicly shamed a Bloomington dentist who shot a lion in Zimbabwe in July. The animal’s name was Cecil — yes, he was given a name — and he lived in Hwange National Park. The lion was lured from the safety of the park by hunters with food. The American dentist, a big game hunter, shot Cecil first with a bow and arrow. That didn’t kill him. The dentist tracked him for two days before finally finishing him off with a rifle.

Much of the world has been justifiably appalled.

I’ve been a vegetarian most of my adult life. My wife is, too. So is our daughter.

Often when it comes up in conversation that I’m a vegetarian, people ask whether I eat chicken or fish. My answer? “No. I don’t eat anything that had a parent.” I could say, “I don’t eat anything that feels pain,” because — recall that classic Bentham quote — that is the real reason. But I don’t want to sound sanctimonious or self-righteous. (Alas, I probably sound a little of both this morning. Forgive me.)

There are issues here that demand books to explore. Vegetarianism is merely one point along the lengthy spectrum of animal rights. In other words, millions of people around the world who eat meat mourned the death of Cecil the Lion. I imagine a great many Vermont deer hunters were disgusted. And yet, somehow, it seems to take more imagination for humans to identify with animal suffering and (for instance) the staggering cruelty of the meat industry than it does for us to conceive of cloning or space flight or nuclear fusion.

But make no mistake, it hurts a deer every bit as much as it hurts a human being to be shot. Likewise, a mother pig is no happier living her life in a cramped metal crate than any other mammal. Even the lobster — an animal I have christened an earwig on steroids — most likely feels pain. (In other words, that’s not just a reflex you are witnessing when you drop one into a pot of boiling water.)

I can’t say if we would behave better as people if we did not eat meat, but the world itself would most certainly be a better place. According to a 2006 study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, our demand for meat causes more greenhouse gases than either industry or transportation. The report found that meat production results in somewhere between 14 and 22 percent of the greenhouse gases we create every year: producing an eight ounce hamburger results in roughly as much greenhouse gas as driving a car ten miles.

My sense is that so many of us were outraged by Cecil’s murder (I have chosen that noun with care) because the animal had a name, was known in its community, and was a big furry lion. We like big. We like lions. We like animals we have named. Also, the fact that Cecil was murdered by a dentist is an irony that has to be factored into our thinking, since a lot of people like lions considerably more than they like dentists — though I happen to like my dentist a lot. Moreover, we hate poachers.

In other words, we were more upset by the death of this one lion than we are by the death of the 110 million pigs killed every year for food.

But as a vegetarian, I see promise in the indignation and sorrow people were experiencing. Cecil’s death was not the Disney Circle of Life ending we expect for creatures this majestic and regal. (Of course, Disney also gave us Bambi; I’m not going there.)

Nevertheless, I have a feeling that Cecil the Lion was not slaughtered for naught. Let’s see.

(This column appeared originally in the Burlington Free Press on August 2, 2015. The paperback of Chris’s most recent novel, “Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands,” was published this summer.)

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The Goodyear house is heading home

B9318208884Z.1_20150724191858_000_GU4BELJ8D.1-0Finding an 1880 Vermont farmhouse, fully intact, smack in the middle of the road just never gets old. Watching it on a flatbed truck ascend a 13 percent grade? Even better. Such was the nail-biting theater here in Lincoln last Wednesday afternoon. Christie Sumner’s old house was becoming Todd and Jen Goodyear’s new one, and they were moving it up the hill to where the paved road turns to dirt roughly six miles up the western side of the Lincoln Gap.

“Are you nervous?” I asked Todd as we watched the house begin its journey.

“Nah,” he said. “Just hungry.”

Only once would his heart skip a beat that afternoon. A little over two hours after the structure began its climb, it paused just beyond the steepest section of the pitch: New England Building Movers of Bridport had to trim some tree branches in the way of the roof, and the flatbed started rolling backwards down the hill. The driver stopped the slide and Monte Provencher, owner of the company, said he was never alarmed. “It was a great day,” he told me that night. “Better than better.”

The house, roughly 45 feet long and 34 feet wide, had started up the hill at precisely 1:04 p.m. and was parked on the Goodyear property at 3:57 p.m. It traveled eight-tenths of a mile in just under three hours that afternoon, and climbed somewhere in the neighborhood of 175 feet.

And yet my favorite part of this story isn’t the move: it’s what the Goodyears paid for the house. It was a freebie.

The hand-painted wooden sign went up on the Lincoln Gap road last summer: “Free house. Serious takers only.” Behind it was a handsome nineteenth-century structure, the yellow paint peeling but the edifice itself in excellent condition. Christie Sumner had lived there since 1974. Now she was building a new house on the property behind it and she wanted it gone. In a perfect world, however, she wouldn’t tear it down. Someone would want it and take it away. After all, it was a perfectly good building.

Enter Todd Goodyear, the interim pastor at the First Baptist Church of Bristol and the area director for Addison County Young Life. He liked the house and noted the sign – and how you really couldn’t beat the price. He and his wife were planning on building a new home for their family a little further up the mountain in what can only be called the Goodyear compound: already eight other families with Goodyear blood in their veins lived up there.

Then, however, his builder, Averi Smith texted him a photo of the sign with the question, “What do you think?” Todd said that sealed the deal.

“This is recycling in a big way,” Averi told me. “And even if there weren’t financial savings, who doesn’t want to save a wonderful old house?” He expects to have the structure renovated and ready for Todd’s family by the end of autumn.

Moreover, this particular old house has special meaning for Todd. A fellow named Winfred Rhodes purchased the house in 1917 and lived there with his wife Lois and their children for decades. Todd’s great-grandmother and Winfred’s father were siblings, and so Todd feels a familial link to those nineteenth-century beams and walls of horsehair plaster.

Todd’s uncle, Gilbert Goodyear, lives near where the old house was dropped off and is thrilled that “the old home has a new life with a young family.”

Todd’s father, Bruce Goodyear, lives just down the road. “I hear there’s some riffraff moving in,” he told me, a broad smile on his face, “but we can live with that.”

Indeed. It’s not often that moving day begins by moving the whole house.

(This column appeared originally in the Burlington Free Press on July 26, 2015. The paperback of Chris’s most recent novel, “Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands,” was published in May.)

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The ‘Mockingbird’ that might have hatched — but didn’t. A review of ‘Go Set a Watchman.”

IMG_5174Unless you have been living under a rock — or in self-imposed isolation with Boo Radley — you have probably watched the ballyhooed publication of Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” last week.

Barnes & Noble hasn’t released the actual number it sold the day the book arrived on Tuesday, but the bookstore chain has announced that the novel now boasts its single day sales record. In other words, the father-daughter tag team of Scout and Atticus Finch thoroughly whipped even Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, and the books about that pair have sold upwards of 125 million copies around the globe.

Spurring the excitement has been the reality that Harper Lee never published another book after “To Kill a Mockingbird” in 1960, and so an additional tale about Scout and Atticus felt like a miraculous little bonus. When we learned the weekend before “Go Set a Watchman” arrived that Atticus Finch might be a racist in this novel, we grew only more curious. Yes, some readers balked that a cherished cultural totem was being vilified — Good heavens, people name their sons after the lawyer who stood up against racism and injustice in a small Alabama town in the heart of the Great Depression — but for most of us, it only deepened our interest. This additional book (and note that I do not use the word “new”) was set in the 1950s, two decades after “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and there were those who feared that the story was an undiscovered sequel and Atticus had lost his bearings and aged really badly.

So, let’s set the record straight: “Go Set a Watchman” is not a sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It is an earlier version of what would become the book that so many millions of us read first in middle school and then reread as adults. I understand the criticisms some people have with “Mockingbird” (Thomas Mallon famously called it “moral Ritalin.”), but even when I was reading it aloud to my daughter when she was young, I was often sniffing back tears. I love that book and I respect that book.

So I was among the millions who dove into “Go Set a Watchman” on Tuesday night, the day the novel went on sale. Should you dive in now? My short answer is, “Why not?” It is an apprentice work, its principal problem being that nothing happens — more on that in a moment. Read it as the early, rejected book that Harper Lee would retool completely into her Pulitzer Prize winner. Do not read it as a sequel or even as a book that would have been published, I imagine, if “To Kill a Mockingbird” did not exist.

Harper Lee made four principal changes after “Go Set a Watchman” was rejected by editor Tay Hohoff, who suggested that she re-imagine it from Scout’s perspective as a child. She seems to have taken Hohoff’s advice: She moved the setting from the 1950s to the 1930s. She rewrote it in the first person, in the voice of Scout Finch, a woman in her mid-30s looking back on her childhood. She transformed Atticus Finch from the sort of man who asks his daughter in “Watchman” in all seriousness, “Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world?” into a brave lawyer with a profoundly accurate moral compass. And she found the action necessary to propel a novel forward: the riveting, wrenching rape trial of African-American Tom Robinson, and his heroic defense by Atticus Finch.

Enormous changes? You bet. But not unheard of in the evolution of many novels. I have made edits to drafts of my own work every bit as dramatic. Exhibit A? “The Double Bind” was originally a first person novel. Exhibit B? There was no courtroom drama in my earliest pages of “Midwives.”

Still, there are entire passages that are almost identical in “Mockingbird” and “Watchman.” I noticed two, including the paragraph about why there are two spellings of Cunningham in Old Sarum (p. 44 in “Watchman” and p. 153 in my ancient copy of “Mockingbird” that once belonged to my mother). Keith Collins and Nikhil Sonnad share eight such paragraphs on the website quartz.com.

In “Go Set a Watchman,” 26-six-year old Jean Louise Finch returns to Maycomb, Alabama, from Manhattan to visit her ailing father, Atticus. Her brother, Jem, passed away a few years earlier. And there she witnesses her father in the courthouse with “the county’s most respectable men,” listening to racist firebrands arguing how to battle back against the NAACP and keep “snot-nosed” African-Americans — though they use a considerably less acceptable noun — out of white schools. Atticus is not especially fond of these men, but he worries that “the Negroes down here are still in their childhood as a people.” And so Jean Louise is utterly devastated to learn that the father she revered as a girl, the man Atticus would become in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” is imperfect. Can she still love him? Will she?

That is essentially the novel.

What else happens? There are a couple of flashbacks to Jean Louise’s embarrassing adolescence. Her uncle, usually the voice of reason, slugs her in a moment that is presented more as comic relief (he is literally trying to knock some sense into her) than as the deeply disturbing violence against women that it is. And the Civil War is deemed a struggle for state’s rights, not the fight to make men free — passages that are especially disturbing this summer in light of the massacre of nine worshippers at a historic black church in South Carolina and the appalling way some people still defended flying the Confederate battle flag.

Is this a more historically accurate and believable picture of an Alabama lawyer in the 1950s than the saintly Atticus Finch from the 1930s we all know and love? Perhaps. Is “Go Set a Watchman” a helpful primer to the politics of the South as the Civil Rights movement began to gain steam? Maybe. Those might be reasons as well to read the book.

Moreover, some of the prose is lovely and I think the first line is destined to be a classic: “Since Atlanta, she had looked out the dining-car window with a delight almost physical.”

My sense, however, is that a decade from now we will look back at “Go Set a Watchman” as a footnote, and it will be read solely to see how a great novelist revised a great novel.

(This column appeared originally in the Burlington Free Press on July 19, 2015. Chris Bohjalian is the author of 18 books, including his most recent novel, “Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands.”)

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What’s in store for Vermont? Ask the store owner.

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Vaneasa Stearns, owner of the illustrious Lincoln General Store here in Lincoln, Vermont, has been in this column a lot over the 23 years I have been writing Idyll Banter. Her most recent appearance that was more than a mere cameo was two summers ago, on her and her husband’s 25th wedding anniversary. I chronicled how the pair had been the definition of teenagers in heat in their youth: when Vaneasa was17, she had walked 19 miles on a scorching summer day to be with the love of her life.

But I have written mostly about her store. Why? It is a wonderful, eccentric emporium, with sumptuous, creative baked desserts and an extensive selection of wine. Vaneasa will have owned the store for 24 years this October, even longer than I have been writing this column, and she has been a firsthand witness to the way the Green Mountains have changed in the last quarter-century. And make no mistake, we have changed. Lincoln has changed. And so I thought I would check in with Vaneasa this summer and get a sense of what she has seen from the front lines — aka, the front register of a country store in rural Vermont.

“Lincoln used to be a very tough town,” she recalled. “I had my first sip of beer on the grounds of the Lincoln Elementary School — when I was going there. But we’re not so tough anymore. Real estate is a lot pricier. There are so many more second homes. The school has gotten a lot better. You want to see change? Just look at all the wine and expensive microbrew beers we sell now.”

Vaneasa also used to dispatch emergency 911 and fire calls. Prior to the Internet and the cell phone, her store was the communications hub for the village, whether it was to help alert volunteer firefighters that there was a blaze somewhere in the community or because a local was traveling and needed someone to milk (yes, milk) her llama. “I miss those days,” Vaneasa admits. “I’ll see the fire trucks and wonder where they’re going.”

But she has not lost the connection with the community. She has seen a whole generation of kids grow up. “I’ll never forget one boy telling me when he was waiting for the bus outside the store, ‘I like you. I’m not going to steal from you.’ He’s a homeowner here now. He has a family of his own. He’s a great guy, he’s helped run this town.”

And she understands that her presence in the store day-after-day – the sheer continuity – has made her a mother confessor of sorts. She hears about the marriages in trouble, the romances on the rocks. She sees the depression and the loss. “A lot of people feel comfortable with me. They know I hold their secrets,” she says. “And if there is one thing this store has taught me, it’s this: don’t judge people. Don’t jump to conclusions. There’s always a lot more to a person’s story than meets the eye.”

She adds that she and her husband don’t have a television because she has “enough drama and comedy everyday right here at the store.”

And she insists that she loves the job every bit as much now as she did 24 years ago. She feels this way despite the occasional burglaries, the unfortunate souls who show up shirtless and shoeless on drugs, and the reality that the store is open 77 hours a week – seven a.m. to six p.m., every single day – regardless of whether there is electricity and regardless of the weather. She opens even when a blizzard is enveloping the hill town.

Sometimes when I’ve been there buying one of their amazing brownies, I’ll see a visitor from New York or New Jersey. And I’ll witness one of my neighbors race past the front register holding up a gallon of milk and calling out to Vaneasa to put it on his or her tab. The out-of-towner will look at Vaneasa and then at me in disbelief. That’s not how business is done at a deli on Lexington Avenue. But it’s a business model that has worked in small towns like Lincoln for generations and – despite the changes in Vermont – it works even now.

“I love what the store means to people,” Vaneasa told me. “It’s a privilege to be here day after day.”

(This column appeared originally in the Burlington Free Press on July 12, 2015. The paperback of Chris’s most recent novel, “Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands,” was published this summer.)

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The day the turbulence was inside the plane

737_ext_586_1Here is today’s profound meaning-of-life question: Is it better to have a serious gastrointestinal meltdown at 35,000 feet in the rear bathroom of a 737 or be seated in the last row of the aircraft while the flight attendant is pounding on the bathroom door, begging the passenger to come out, and everyone in those rear rows is increasingly fearful that the guy behind the door does not have diarrhea, but is in fact lighting his sneaker on fire and the back of the plane is about to explode?

This happened the week before last when my wife and I were traveling on a Turkish Airlines jet between Istanbul and Kayseri. The two of us were in Row 28, the bathroom directly behind us. I was in the middle seat, my wife was on my right, and a young Canadian woman with a serious fear of flying was on my left. (My wife, I should note, is also not exactly Amelia Earhart: I was surrounded by fliers who even on an uneventful, turbulence-free flight would rather be at the dentist.)

In any case, about 30 minutes into the flight, the beverage service in full swing, a gentleman enters the bathroom. When was I aware he was in there? When the line of passengers waiting to use the bathroom had grown to five. When we all started asking ourselves how long he been there and why in the world he wasn’t coming out.

It was right about then that the woman from Montreal turned to my wife and me and said what we all were feeling: “I am really not going to be happy until that guy gets the heck out of there.”

The passenger who was first in line for the bathroom knocked discretely on the door. The response from inside? Something between a plaintive groan and a fierce growl. Think Frankenstein. It was, roughly, “Friend? Good! Fire? Bad!”

I speak about three words of Turkish, but about this point I am pretty sure that everyone in line was saying something along the lines of either “Uh-oh” or “I really wish I’d rented a car.”

Finally someone called for the flight attendant. The gravity was sufficient that she actually stopped the beverage service and worked her way around the beverage cart with the balletic skill of a Cirque du Soleil gymnast. “Are you all right?” she asked through the door, first in Turkish and then in English and then in desperation. She tapped on the door. She banged on it. I unbuckled my seatbelt, feeling that I should do something to help, but I had absolutely no plan. And then …

And then we all heard the vacuum whoosh of a jet engine toilet flush. It was lovely. A soprano’s voice has never sounded sweeter.

The fellow emerged, an older gentleman, and it was evident by his scowl that he felt his personal space had been seriously violated. The flight attendant looked at us and said, translating his explanation into English, “He had something disagreeable for breakfast.”

That was it. Easily eight or nine of us, some standing and some sitting, all chuckled at once — small laughter that was rich with relief. Make no mistake, we all felt bad for this poor guy. But our own private worst-case scenarios had been unspooling in our minds.

Flying can be like that these days.

But then again, travel has always been a little perilous. Think of those long ocean voyages or stagecoach journeys from centuries past. The world is a messy place. There have always been dangers – and, yes, there have always been those “away” toilet situations.

Yet the world is always a better place when people travel. We learn; we grow; we make friends.

I’m just grateful that the week before last the only explosion on that plane was gastrointestinal.

(This column appeared originally in the Burlington Free Press on July 5, 2015. The paperback of Chris’s most recent novel, “Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands,” was published in May.)

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A good stylist gets inside your head, too

B9317852014Z.1_20150627195556_000_G81B61LNM.1-0Don O’Connell has a serious issue with Charlie Brown’s friends. He is also, just for the record, not wild about any of the reindeer but Rudolph.

“They’re bullies,” he observed of most of the Peanuts characters. “They treat Charlie Brown horribly. The only one who likes him is Linus – and that kid has serious issues.”

O’Connell was sharing his feelings with me the other day while cutting my hair. He owns O’M, the hair salon on the corner of St. Paul and King Street in Burlington, Vermont with his wife, Serena Magnan. When you have as little hair as I do, it’s really important to get it cut at a place as stylish as O’M and by a serious talent like O’Connell. A drive-in movie could use my forehead as a screen; I need all the help I can get.

“And Rudolph?” O’Connell went on that day, referring to the classic, stop-motion TV adaptation from 1964, “Don’t get me started. His only friend is a dentist. The world is so nasty that they put the misfits on an island. An island! And why do the reindeer treat him like dirt? Because he has a shiny nose. That’s it!”

I think any barber, stylist, or hairdresser needs to be a little eccentric. Sure, you want a professional. But you also want an edge. And O’Connell is perfect for me. I’ve known him for years though the theater community in Vermont: the Lyric Theatre and the Stowe Theatre Guild. Many of you have seen him as Sky Masterson in “Guys and Dolls” (his cool façade), Seymour Krelborn in “Little Shop of Horrors” (his inner nerd), and Captain Hook in “Peter Pan” (his food for the crocodiles side).

I have no idea how O’Connell and I got around to animated and claymation bullies this summer, but I’m glad we did. It wasn’t simply that his monologue – which in a wonderful, Jon Stewart sort of way, bordered on rant – was funny; it was that it was really smart and touched so much in my own childhood.

Now, I was never bullied. I was fortunate in that regard. But my family moved a lot, and I was often the new kid on the block. At one point in my life, I attended five schools in six years in three states. I think that is one of the reasons why I wound up a writer: I spent a lot of my youth as an observer, trying to understand the social mores of new and different worlds.

But I did love Peanuts from an early age. After my mother dropped off my older brother at his weekly drum lesson, she would bring me to a nearby bookstore where she would spend 35 or 40 cents on a Fawcett Crest Peanuts paperback for me: “Very Funny, Charlie Brown” or “You’re a pal, Snoopy!” I loved Peanuts for the same reason that so many generations have loved the cartoon: Charlie Brown is among the most wistful characters ever created. He’s not a complete sad sack, despite his baseball team’s won-lost record; he’s actually rather competent. But the stars seem aligned against him. Charles Schulz rarely wrote a cartoon meant to elicit a belly laugh; rather he leaves us smiling ever so slightly in recognition at the emotional brutality, heartache, and defeat that loom large in all of our lives. I was, I have a feeling, a pretty melancholy kid.

And that’s probably why it’s good to confront my receding airline with a guy like Don O’Connell. Sure, we talk about his acting and my writing. We talk about our pets. But we also get to the issues that really matter, and we approach them the way a lot of guys do: at the edges. Through popular culture and sports and the memes that link generations.

The fact is, good barbers, stylists, and hairdressers don’t simply know their clients’ scalps; they know their heads, too – inside and out.

(This column appeared originally in the Burlington Free Press on June 28, 2015. The paperback of Chris’s most recent novel, “Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands,” was published last month.)

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Does Father really know best? Let’s see.

We all remember “Father Knows Best.” Okay, almost no one does, except for my late father’s friends in South Florida. Actually, even they don’t remember it anymore. But at least they did once. When Eisenhower was president.

In any case, the show revolved around the Anderson family, and the paterfamilias — played by Robert Young — would often dole out wisdom and counsel. In the interest of seeing if fathers really do know best, I asked readers on Facebook to share with me the best advice their dads ever gave them. Here are some of their responses.

•Karen Fronterotta: “Good girls are home by 1 a.m. Be home by 12:55.”

• Megan Estey Butterfield: “The best advice my dad gave me (and generations of Sunday school students)? Before you say something, ask yourself: ‘Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?’ If it doesn’t meet at least two of those criteria, stay quiet.”

•Susan Kahn Porschen: “My father has always told me that anything boys can do, girls can do better. Except pee standing up.”

• Lisa Marie Fellinger: “Don’t date boys, date men. I thought he was crazy at the time — I was about 12 or 13 years old — but it makes so much sense now!”

•Amy Lynn Lyndaker: “Do things for your kids because you love them and want them to be happy, not because you want them to thank you. Seeing your kids happy is thanks enough.”

•Nairi Megrabian: “There was an especially difficult break-up I went through in college. When my dad noticed that I was depressed, he drew on all the life experience he’d had moving from country to country: ‘You can’t drag a skeleton with you through life.’”

• Amanda Bolduc: “My dad doesn’t give advice; he lives it. When you drive around the entire month of October with a thousand-pound pumpkin on the roof of your truck, it’s very clear that making others smile and bringing joy to the world is a good thing.”

• Eileen Brunetto: “I dropped my baby son off at my parents’ house to go to an appointment. I began giving my father instructions in case fussiness ensued. He said, ‘Relax, we can take care of it. Besides, where’s he gonna go? What can he do? He doesn’t scare me.’”

• Helen Pantuso: “My dad insisted that I take a typing class in high school. I thought typing was just for secretaries and I was going to college. (Keep in mind this was the 1970s – well before computers). But Dad said I would be surprised how often it would come in handy, and how typing would be important in the future. Obviously he was right. He passed away in the middle of my freshman year in high school, so he never saw the advent of computers. But this simple piece of practical advice has literally been a gift I’ve been able to carry with me every day since.”

• David Reed Wood: “How about two words? ‘Do it!’ My father had this over his office door on a little business card. He said often we waste too much time sitting and wishing.”

•Jennifer Swift Wilson: “Money is just grease. It does not make one person better than another, but it does make life a little easier.”

• Deborah Spofford Churchill: “Learn to drive a standard. That way you won’t ever be stuck somewhere because you can’t drive a vehicle.’”

•Sherry Kaufman Wilk: “We grew up in New York City. I was sandwiched between two brothers. ‘Button your neck!’ my father shouted as each of us slammed the door that led to the alley and our freedom. It was my father’s mantra. My brothers and I always teased each other with that advice throughout early adulthood when saying goodbye on the phone or after a family visit. We all lived in Florida by then, but ‘button your neck’ meant more than keep warm. Its inner meaning was, ‘I love you, take care of yourself, watch out for strangers, and come home in one piece.’”

Speaking as a father, we don’t always know best. But every once in a while we get it right.

Happy Father’s Day.

(This column appeared originality in the Burlington Free Press on June 21, 2015.)

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