Seventy years ago today! I can see it clearly as yesterday even though I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday.

June 14th, 1947.

Harry Truman was President. Jackie Robinson had just broken Major League baseball’s color line. “Gentlemen’s Agreement” was a controversial new movie. In Jamaica, Queens, New York, P.S. 116 students were itching for the school year to end. The kindergarten class was distracted by music that filtered from other rooms as 6th graders practiced for graduation.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Mrs Hartley’s kindergarten class was trying to focus on a boring history lecture. This was a special day,  Mrs. Hartley told the class.  Why, she asked.  A few hands shot up. The shortest kid in the class, the one in the first row in a starched white shirt and pressed short pants raised both hands.  Mrs. Hartley looked around and then pointed to the little kid.

“Garry, why is this day special?”  Mrs. Hartley had mixed feelings about Garry who seemed bright but had issues. Earlier that year, She had to give Garry an F on his report card because he couldn’t properly buckle his galoshes or button his overcoat. Yes, I already carried a burden but was ready to seize this moment. I looked firmly at Mrs. Hartley, sure of the answer about the significance of the day.


“Today is my Mommy’s birthday!!” I remember Mrs. Hartley looking  briefly confused before sternly answering me.

“Garry, today is Flag Day! An important day to celebrate our country’s history!!”

I answered quickly, “Maybe. But it’s my MOMMY’S birthday.”  We locked eyes as I sat down.  I could hear the other kids giggling as Mrs. Hartley stared at me. The bell rang and the class scattered quickly. Mrs. Hartley gave me “the look” as I skipped by a couple of the taller kids and out the door.

When I got home, I told Mom the story. She smiled and kissed me on the cheek. I was surprised because I thought she might be angry because I had “sassed” the teacher. No, not this time.

Sure, June 14th is Flag Day. But for me, it will always be my Mom’s birthday. Esther Letticia Armstrong would be celebrating her 100th birthday today if she hadn’t been called home 10 years ago. She lives on with her legacy : three sons. Anton, Billy, and Yours Truly.

I’ve written about Mom before. Days of my youth when Mom forged and nurtured my love of books, music, and movies. Our family library was full and varied. I remember reading Eric Sevareid’s “Not So Wild A Dream” when I was still in grade school. Mom made sure we listened to radio newscasts every day. Murrow, Sevareid, Gabriel Heater, Lowell Thomas and many other icons were familiar voices in our household. I didn’t know it then, but my career as a TV (and radio) news reporter was already mentally seeded.

1945 – Garry’s mom and dad … and Garry, too

Mom was a very forthright person. She didn’t suffer fools. She set the bar high for her sons and didn’t accept lame excuses for procrastination, mediocre school work, or social gaffes.  I was encouraged to pursue my dreams even if Mom didn’t always agree with some of my choices.

Through the years, I have snap shot memories of Mom and her wonderful voice, singing the “standards” that I’ve always loved. We would duet on Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jimmy Van Huesen and the hits of Sinatra, Crosby, Doris Day, Nat Cole. We shadow danced to big band music. Mom was graceful. I was not. Marilyn and my wedding song, “For Sentimental Reasons” had been a staple in the Armstrong house through the decades.

When I leaf through the photo albums and see pictures of Mom and Dad, I have a tinge of sadness because I didn’t know them when they were young, full of life and love, and part of the greatest generation in so many ways we cannot appreciate. I’m not sure how Mom would deal with our current political landscape. As I said earlier, she didn’t suffer fools.

I’m sure Mom is celebrating today, singing in  her beautiful voice and everyone is laughing, having the time of their lives.

Happy Birthday, Mom!! 100 years old and counting.


Puncture? I think this is one of those.

This story is not, as far as I can tell, a joke, but who knows? Half the stuff I read online is a complete lie, a partial lie, something that once held some truth but no longer does. I haven’t seen this story anywhere but in “The Daily Beast.” Who are usually moderately accurate, with occasional wild distortions. I’m pretty sure, though, that you could call this one “puncture,” one way or the other.

Gunman Attacks Congressmen; ‘He Was Looking for All of Us’

Steve Scalise, the No. 3 House Republican, was shot with several others when a gunman opened fire at a congressional baseball practice early this morning.


Hoax?  Maybe I should point out, per the NRA, that “it’s not guns that kill people. It’s people that kill people.” I can’t seem to bring myself to do that, so I’ll just quote from the published article.

A person, with an M-1 gun, tried to kill a bunch of U.S. reps in a small suburban ball park where they practice in the morning.

Rep. Mike Bishop was standing at home plate when the gunfire began.

“As we were standing here this morning, a gunman walked up to the fence line and just began to shoot,” Bishop told Detroit’s WWJ radio. “I was standing at home plate and he was in the third base line. He had a rifle that was clearly meant for the job of taking people out, multiple casualties, and he had several rounds and magazines that he kept unloading and reloading.”

Bishop said the gunman was clearly targeting lawmakers.

“He was coming around the fence line and he was looking for all of us who had found cover in different spots,” he said. “But if we didn’t have return fire right there, he would have come up to each one of us and shot us point-blank.”

One of the congressman’s security detail returned fire and everyone survived, though five are in the hospital

Curbelo said he would be open to the idea of providing a security detail for members of Congress who gather off of Capitol ground for events like the baseball practice.

“We ought to consider trying to provide some protection, because that’s obviously a rich target for anyone seeking to kill or in any way threaten lawmakers,” he added.

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It’s a whole different ball game (pun intended) when the shooter is shooting at the lawmakers. I believe the shooter, as he was dragged away was mumbling that he wanted to “get them all.”

Scalise’s office released a statement saying he spoke to his wife before entering surgery.

“We ask that you keep the Whip and others harmed in this incident in your thoughts and prayers,” his office said.

I sure am doing exactly that. You never know. The incident might have knocked some sense into their heads. It’s a thought.


It sounds like some funky dance from the 1960s, but we are “doing our front door.” Hiring a contractor. Repairing a door that shouldn’t be rotting out since we installed it merely 10 years ago. It should have been good to go for at least 25 years.

The price we pay for living in a wet, humid climate is basic. Things turn green, then rot. Even the vinyl siding on your house will turn green as summer lingers. You can hose it down and voilà, clean as new. Vinyl is a great product and I don’t think we’d still have a standing house had we not enveloped it in vinyl the year we moved in. That, and adding French drains, a sump and a pump. And a roof. I wish we’d had the money to fix the driveway, but the numbers they suggest for paving the driveway are ridiculous. It’s why so few people with long driveways have them properly paved.

June 2, 2017

Friday, if all goes well and we don’t get pouring rain, they will be here. They will replace all the siding around the door, take out the old doggy door and put in one of the new ones that work on some kind of electronic tag in the dogs’ collars — which means — we have to get them collars. All they usually wear are ratty bandannas and tick collars. This will be an interesting, new experience for them. The new door will keep out the bugs. The old one — which is at least 10 years old — no longer closes properly, so it lets in all the creepy things. It would help if they didn’t like laying in the hallway and sticking their heads out the door. Like driving, but without the heavy wind.

I find myself sounding just like my mother: “IN OR OUT! Don’t leave the door open.” This is followed by either “You’re letting all the heat out,” or “You’re letting all the bugs in.” Depending on the season, of course.

We haven’t done any major work around here for at least 10 years, but I’m hoping this will be a one day job. It isn’t, I know, the final word in door fixing. IF we had the money — and we don’t — we could replace the whole door section, but that would be at least twice or three times the cost of repairing the door. And I think this will last as long as we need it to last.

I like the guy. I wish I had more money because I bet he could fix a lot of what needs repair around this place.

Next life, we’ll be richer! Meanwhile, this job is set for Friday. If the weather holds, we’ll have an almost like-new door.


When was the last time — if ever — a pharmacy company actually cured something? The only cures I’ve seen come with price tags higher than it was for me to buy this house and maintain it for a decade. Otherwise, cure? Curing is for weenies. They just want to make sure you are on a medication forever and maybe a few days after that.

Source: Evil Squirrel’s Nest Comic #266 — 6/1/17