August 27, 2018

By Arthur H. Gunther III

(also on Facebook)

     Whether a teacher would have made the schwachkopf write “I will think before I tweet” 100 times on the blackboard; whether a mother might have put soap in his mouth for his anti-humanity words; whether a woman would have kneed him for pushing himself as a barbaric lout, the verdict would be the same: There is no justification for a person of indecency as the leader of the free world.

     Forget political views; all have a place for debate and compromise and action in the White House. Forget that there have been other oafs, cheaters, liars, etc., at 1600 Pennsylvania. The entire point of a progressive nation, specifically this experiment of a republic, is to learn from mistakes and not repeat them.

     That the dummkopf-in-chief still occupies his position, after a tainted election, yes, but more so after racist, ignorant, false comment about government officials, ethnic groups, immigrants and almost everyone, defies reason. Resignation should have come instead of too many resigned to someone who would be long gone in private-business America.

     Those who believe in him are overlooking indecency because it is convenient to their views. Yet, no matter how strongly felt the loyalty, it is grossly, ashamedly misplaced, as surely as it was in 1933 for another fellow. 

     A strong economy may make one smile, even if the guy waving the flag does not admit the groundwork was laid before he came on the scene. The stock market may be soaring though the sand underneath may be slipping in regulation rollback. There may be low unemployment, though the jobs are relatively low-paid without pension and not enough health insurance. But exalt, if that is the cry in the stadium. 

      Just don’t let this fellow at the podium lead in the chanting. Chose another to rally your cry, as others of different political persuasion do the same this Nov. 6. The American way.

     The present indecency must be faced by a turning-away, an abandonment of the oaf, or we become that person in complicity. We sell our soul for a shiny set of clothes. What happens when we take them off?  

    Hawk  beliefs, surely, fight for them in the way the late John McCain did. But keep the principles of decency, as he showed us. 

     The writer is a retired newspaperman.




August 20, 2018

By Arthur H. Gunther III

(also appears on Facebook)

     A small room in Brooklyn, an old, cheap-to-rent apartment not far from the docks where a seaman could find work but today so expensive a neighborhood that one year’s pay in 1918 would not cover a week’s fancy dining; in that small room a child, a girl, was born to my Grandmother Mary Bonner Lyons. Patricia would live just months, the victim of the terrible worldwide Spanish flu epidemic.

     The pandemic of 1918, the deadliest in history, infected an estimated 500 million people — about one-third of the planet’s population—and killed  20 million to 50 million, including about 675,000 Americans. There were no drugs or preventive vaccines. Public places, including schools, closed, people wore masks and funeral homes and cemeteries were overwhelmed.

     This just as the world was nearing the end of the Great War with its own unbelievable loss of life. More than a few probably thought “apocalypse.” Then a decade of heady, greedy false “prosperity,” followed by the awful Great Depression, which ended only because another world war created defense jobs.

     That the Aunt Patricia I never knew also did not live to see and interact with all that history, and some of what has come after is more than effect of circumstance. She may have helped discover a wonder drug. She may have raised children who were good people. Patricia might have made her younger sister, also named Patricia — my mother — smile.

     Pandemics, war, economic depression and very poor, even evil leadership take away promise, and that is why those living must seize the day.

     In a time when war, greed, challenges to the economy, unconquered disease and denial of human rights remain, actually a moment when there are strong forces determined to reverse progress, there is an imperative to do some good. Not as a do-gooder but as someone afforded air to breathe.

     Societies must advance in decency, and the way to do that is in the enlightenment of being alive.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman.


August 13, 2018

By Arthur H. Gunther III

     Fluorescent lights never fit cafes where a small corner table has a lady sitting without fidget, staring a bit into space, her hands holding tight a hot cup of tea. A moment of reflection? Simply a shopping break? Waiting for someone? Has a romance ended? Did it fail to start? Or is it just a coldish day, and the stronger Irish tea available at this place suits a relative non-moment? Whatever the story, garish lighting will not do, in the cafe, in life.

     Ambiance is vital, a must, if there is to be purring, if the day can coast without hills, without downshifting, without gunning it. Special atmosphere is rare enough, and it can never come in a place with fluorescent lighting or the metaphor of that.

     Maybe a walk on a trail will do the trick, or some old-fashioned motoring,  conversation with another or with silence that is not uncomfortable, far from it, reassuring actually.

     It may be that a fire on a chilly night, tea at hand, maybe a small drink, something to read, alone but immersed in imagination. No fluorescent lighting.

    You’ve met up with a former colleague, from the days when daily output on the job, in the career, was steady, coming from a well-oiled machine, together. Recalling that mutual success brings calm, its own purring.

     The family is grown, moved away, even if just a few miles. You have done your job, they are good, giving people. Warming your hands around a cup of Barry’s tea is your reward. It’s more than enough.

     These are turbulent times, as has always been, though the present angst seems overwhelming, as if we have all been herded into a large holding area under harsh fluorescent lights.

     But teatime comes, you know. As the Irish proverb goes, “Life is like a cup of tea, it’s all in how you make it.”

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. Contact:


August 6, 2018

By Arthur H. Gunther III

Impoliteness and incivility are what they are these days, which generally means watered-down manners, some to the point of not being recognizable social behavior. It’s as if no one taught some clowns how to act toward others. And this is from someone who has been a clown himself, though not so much recently.

In my parts, north of New York City in the burbs, some public meetings become shouting matches and physical altercations as if town hall were the place for a street rumble. And there is always the incivility of the street, with impatient drivers, including myself.

But the lack of manners, the impoliteness most distressing is in communication, or the absence of it. Too many people, “important” ones, too, fail to answer letters and e-mails, even when they solicit same. I have written or emailed (on required forms) to the governor, to Ford Motors headquarters, to Ford engineers, to Dunkin’ Donuts and to others. All these business and people pay big bucks to solicit your opinion and some have flashy websites announcing just how “valuable” your view is. Yet write a constructive, balanced criticism with helpful suggestions, and not only do you not get a form-letter reply when you should receive at least a considered, individual response, but you receive a reply at all. None of my letters or emails in the past few years have been acknowledged. That is bad manners, and it is not polite.

The individual writer may have a harebrained idea, but if he or she presents it in a non-shouting, well-considered, non-offensive way, it should get a reply.

If people do not listen, do not pay attention to others, there is no communication, and that is sloppy for society, especially today when emotions, not clear-headedness, often rules.

Adding to this social incivility are some tradesmen. I recently considered having construction work done in my home and requested quotes from three businesses, all local. Two never replied, though they run ads shouting for trade. One firm sent a fellow who never got back to me, despite several calls to his office.

The bottom line is that my project is probably too small for their effort — the companies could use their staff on bigger jobs, with more profit. Not polite behavior, though. Bad business, too, as I won’t speak well of these outfits.

When some of us went to school, we were taught to write personal and business letters. We also penned replies. The point was not only to learn how to compose such missives but to reinforce the standard that in a civil society, communication — the back and forth of it —  is necessary and expected. (Tweets don’t count.)

The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached at This essay is adapted from an earlier version.