By Chuck Wiser
Believe it or not the family picture that adorns this page is the only full “formal”, or any for that matter, that I have. The up side is that I still have hair and the fact that it blends with the paneling says a lot about how much I have aged. I have selected this picture as symbolic of the greatest source of thankfulness that I have. I will also end with a poem written on the occasion of an earlier Thanksgiving. I have previously posted copies of my “Love Poems” written to or about my wife and my writing them will not likely end until I cannot write any longer and/or my heart has stopped filling as it has stopped beating. Few know me well enough to realize how truly devoted my wife must be to accept me for who I am, the way that I am, and to tolerate all of what I am.
I am thankful for many things. Far too many to list here. I will however be listing some, including naming names, despite that being an invitation for a screw up as you inadvertently overlook someone when you do that.
Listing my first “Thankful” after my wife and family is one of my first passions, and ironically one of the most recent realized. My first high school English teacher showed me what a joy that writing could be. Mrs. Toporas came to Friendship Central School and captured my heart both as a teacher, and with a boyhood crush. She recognized something in me and awakened a passion for writing. Sadly she left Friendship after a year or two, went to work in Wellsville, and a few years after passed away unexpectedly. I started writing poetry and continued my new found passion for journalistic writing by volunteering for the Friendship town paper, aptly named The Friendship Volunteer. Marilyn Lester was the editor for the short life duration of the paper and then took with the Wellsville Daily Reporter.
My next love affair, although not yet realizing it, was with music. I took a shine to playing the drums having listened to 50’s and 60’s soloist drummer Sandy Nelson. My Mom bought me a snare drum for Christmas that year and I eventually was asked to be the drummer with Tex Warner and The Allegany Ridge Runners, out of Nile, NY. They recognized that I had a fair to middlin voice and an ear for harmony and so they let me sing along. Fast forward to 1976 and the creation of the Wellsville Bicentennial Chorus directed by John Molinari, which I promptly became involved with. I should add at this point that I had not joined Choir nor Band while in high school. I don’t recall why I didn’t join choir other than they hadn’t “asked me to”, but I did not join band as the band music teacher said he didn’t need any drummers so I would have to pick another instrument. I didn’t. That being said, I didn’t have the foggiest idea of how to read music. One of, if not, greatest regrets I have is not benefitting from learning the basics of reading music and of not learning how to and playing a musical instrument other than harmonica. I had started playing harmonica somewhere along the line and although it hurt a little, I played by ear pretty well. Realizing my shortcomings and learning that there were others, John would have extra practice sessions at his house with his wife Iris playing piano to help us get the proper note sound or pitch. When the Bicentennial concert was over the musical group decided to staytogether and formed the Genesee Valley Chorus.
This topic could go on for pages, but cutting to what became a source of tremendous pleasure, love and thankfulness, A musical choral director by name of Dave Dunbar, and his talented piano accompanist Peg Dunbar joined the Chorus in the early 80’s. Dave discovered that I wrote poetry and said he was writing some music but he wasn’t very good with the lyrics (which I later found not to be true). In any event he used a couple of my poems, converted them into song lyrics and the Dunbar-Wiser choral music era began. Dave and Peg became close personal friends aswell as musical collaborators and remain close friends to this day.
Backing up a half step I would also like to mention another musical director who was also a Significant contributor to my musical abilities, or at least my growing love for choral music. Tony “Cappy” Cappadonia also directed the Genesee Valley Chorus while I was a member. Tony and Dave where both exceptional music directors but each had their own distinctive style that made them as effective and made singing “for” them a joy. Tony was a “mechanics” perfectionist and his rhythms were precise, he had his singers focused on enunciation, and breath control and seldom were singing errors made. Dave on the other hand, taught and directed the performance of a musical piece also with attention to the mechanical details, but his focus was directed more at selling the emotion and atmosphere of the musical presentation such that the audience was there within the music feeling it as we sang it.
I guess I had forgotten just how thankful I was to be involved with music and this memory recall of thankfulness turned out to be longer than I intended.
Back to the writing theme. I am thankful now to be able to bring these words to you. Early in life I wanted to be a writer, but life took me down a different road. I have now developed somewhat of a reputation for writing some pretty opinionated missives using the Social Media outlet known (for now at least) as Facebook. In addition to posting numerous poems on Facebook, I often take a stance regarding various political positions and more recently public acceptance and actions regarding our current Pandemic. The Editor, Andrew Harris, who I have even been at odds with over certain public issues, seemed to like the passion I put into my writing whether poetically or opinionatedly. A few months ago he asked if I would be interested in being a regular contributor writing for the Wellsville Sun, and I jumped at the chance. Wow! At 75 years young I was finally given the opportunity to do what I had dreamed of doing many decades ago. I was given no directive, no boundaries, no fences, and was pretty much free to share, with you the readers, whether from poems of love, or nature, or causes of public concern or whatever whimsy Wiser wanted.
And now on to something else, and some other people, for whom, I am most thankful. I will not be alone in my thankfulness for this group, nor for inspiration from them. Countless numbers of you marvel at their work nearly every day as much as I do.
My signature file is; “I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels” This mantra has been fulfilled so many times over the last few years that I very seldom am without inspiration for my writing. In no particular order, the photography of Craig Braack, Dan Jordan and John Kucko, have brought me thrills, chills and inspiration and fill my heart on a nearly daily basis. I have been privileged to have their permission to use their photos for illustration in several of my poems and publications
I am thankful to be alive. I cannot think of a better time to have lived my life. When I was born Television was just getting started. We had not yet walked on the moon. Automobiles were readily available but not to the extent where every family had at least two. Computers filled a whole room…for just one. Hand held calculators came into use, then cell phones, then smart phones. I have seen technological advancement that couldn’t even have yet been dreamed of 70 years ago.
I would be remiss if I did not say that I am most thankful for what we affectionately know as “The Family of Three. The Geyer family, the Muscato family and the Wiser family forged a bond that has carried it through two generations and hopefully will go beyond that.
I am thankful for: Being able to teach to not only hundreds of traditional college students, but also dozens of industrial workers. I have had the honor of teaching the offspring of former students; I am thankful for grandchildren, for neighbors, for emergency services volunteers and professionals, for Doctors and Nurses, and other medical staff; I am thankful for a local major level college basketball team, and have been a devoted follower of Saint Bonaventure, with players like Paul Hoffman, for over 60 years. I am thankful for public libraries and their friendly staff both past and present; I am thankful that medical advancements have provided equipment and processes that help keep me mobile and functional. I am also even thankful for the pain that this inherited predisposition to joint deterioration brings me, as the pain lets me know that I am alive and blessed to be able to feel it. I am also grateful for the opportunity to live in a location where, on a daily basis, I can see and hear the wonders of nature and God’s creations both great and small.
Now I will close on this Thanksgiving Day by giving thanks for all that I have, and for wishing on you similar blessings. I give you a poem written in thanks to, and because of, my family.
Thankful for, The Two of Us Plus Three
We have three children, and we are blessed,
They’ve grown up now and left the nest.
By birth we knew the joy they brought,
Their lives surpassed just what we thought.
One had the eyes of mother fair,
But did not have Dad’s thinning hair.
Two showed that music was a choice,
And shared their talent with their voice.
Though all had played on high school teams,
One reached the goals of which one dreams.
All had some individual things,
That to our lives would pleasure bring.
Not one of them a perfect match,
Some traits of both they all would catch.
And now to us they share offspring