Wiser’s Wramblings-Thanksgiving Day-Not Nearly Enough


By Chuck Wiser, I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels

How can you possibly express all your thanks in just one day? I can’t and won’t. My editor pretty much gives me free rein (or reign) with my writing’s, and it may well be because, as he says, I am “his least paid column writer”. This topic could easily turn out to be a “Week of Wrambling’s”.

I am indebted to, and grateful for, a vast number of people, some of whom I will have to memorialize, as they can now only hear/feel my thoughts of gratitude as they gaze down upon me.

The first I will thank is my wife. Only a few people know me well enough to know just what a blessing it is for me to have her in my life, and that she tolerates me in her life. She was the “Ember to a Flame” subject of a previously shared poem. How and why, she puts up with me is a wonder. I am truly blessed, and eternally thankful for her.

Secondly, or more aptly named “tied for first” would be my mother. One of my greatest “life regrets” is not taking the time to have her explain to me the circumstances of how or why she became a single Mom. The only hint that it all happened when I was about a year old was a picture of me, astride a horse, while living with an aunt in Texas. My guess is that they took me in when my parents were in the process of separating. My mom, as a single parent, raised me and my sister Sue. Had it not been for my mom’s teaching me, and overseeing my “cursive writing” practice until it matched her own beautiful penmanship, I would still be trying to pass on from of the 2nd grade at Richburg Central School. My mom wasn’t just a mom, she was also my dad. I am proud to call her both.

Also helping, in a surrogate parent role, my aunt Claire Miles places third in my “most thankful for” list. Aunt Claire was there while my mother worked, despite having 6 children of her own, and to whose house I went for help when I slipped on the ice breaking my collar bone, which was the first, of many to follow, broken bones, and when I gashed my hand on a piece of tin in a local junk pile, leaving an inch and a half long scar on my hand that will forever make me think of her, and be thankful that she was there for me.

Next on the list, at least chronologically would be “Gordy Nickerson” who owned the delicatessen on Main Street, next to Ma Reddington’s and then Freda Talbett’s restaurant. in Friendship. I connected with Gordy when I would stop in there for a candy bar for “energy” before our track meets. Well, I did that until Art Hood followed me over there one day and marched me back to school proclaiming that I wasn’t allowed to leave the school grounds during “class time” hours. I was suspended from the track team for that days game, but my “friendship” and professional relationship with Gordy continued. I would go to Gordy’s for lunch every day and as compensation for doing chores for him, he would provide my lunch. Two raw hotdogs/weiners and a package of Pecan Sandies was my lunch most days. Soon after that relationship developed Gordy “hired me” to mow his lawn at his house, on a weekly basis. I did that for my pocket (and cigarette) money throughout my high school years.

Maintaining my “Friendship” connection, my next Thank’s giving memory is about the lady that introduced me to the newspaper writing business. Marilyn Lester was the editor of the Friendship Volunteer. I was on the High School Yearbook Spy staff at the time and wanted to be a “writer”. One important lesson learned as a part time “columnist” for the Volunteer was that of verifying your sources before writing, or at least before publishing your work. An organization in Friendship had flooded an area on the school playground making an ice-skating rink. Being an avid ice skater, I was appreciative and so wrote my column about that group’s activity. That was well and dandy, but I gave credit to the wrong organization, and they let my editor know about that right away. She didn’t flog me but did point out the importance of “verifying” before publishing. I won’t say that I don’t still mess up my “attributes” occasionally in my Wrambling’s, but I try to be more accurate in doling out the accolades.  

Richard Doc Stockman has previously been mentioned and thanked in my Wrambling’s but I would be remiss if I didn’t include him in this piece focused on those for whom I am most thankful. Doc was also well known as “Bub” by his close friends. I’m not sure when he picked up the “Doc” moniker, perhaps that came about later. That being said, his mention allows me to add a story and comment on a memory involving his daughter Connie and her husband Joe Cwiklinski. Joe and I ended up sharing a room at the Jones Memorial Resort and Recovery establishment, aka JMH. Joe and I hit it off right away. I still have sympathy for the nurses on the floor responsible for our care and having to put up with our shenanigans while we were incarcerated there.

I am thankful for my family, and our family get togethers, both past and present. Our family get togethers are not as frequent or as large as those in the past as times have changed. I’m not sure about other families but ours is more splintered than it used to be. Everyone now has a different circle of friends, acquaintances, hobbies and interests and each go their own way now more than was typical. The generation before us was still “traditional” and family get togethers were a big celebration. Now, not so much.

We are blessed this Thanksgiving to have our Air Force son Shawn, his wife Toni and their son, Shawn Jr. here for this holiday. Over the years it has not always been possible to get together given the nature of his, and their, military careers.

I often say that it is my job to make the family laugh, and usually do it unintentionally, and somewhat at my expense. I was explaining this article to them and reading my “list of notes and reminders” and read the jogged note about “Milkweed and Butterflies”. They started chuckling and asked if I was thankful for milkweed and butterflies, that started the chorus of tear inducing full out laughter. When their laughter subsided, I tried to explain why I had written that note as a reminder. It wasn’t necessarily for this article but is now 😉. I happened to see a Monarch Butterfly a couple of weeks ago and was curious about why there were so few. That triggered further research, wherein I learned that the Monarch Butterfly caterpillar’s diet consists completely of the leaf of the milkweed. Without milkweed plants there would be no Monarch Butterflies. If you want them, and don’t have any milkweed, you can plant the milkweed seed and they will come. My family endured my explanation of that but still had a twinkle in their eye and a smirk on their face.

I am thankful for Newspapers. Not if, but when, the Olean Times Herald eventually goes out of print, there will be a huge hole left in my life. It has been a significant part of me for six and a half decades. I am writing now for the online Wellsville Sun, and often overflowing to the Hornell Sun. I am extremely grateful, and thankful for having this opportunity. Owner/Editor Andrew Harris and I developed a relationship years ago when we were somewhat on opposite sides of a couple of local “Economic Development” activities that were not unanimously favored by all area residents. Despite being “polarity” opposed we established a mutual respect and pretty much agreed that we disagreed. I have been blessed with the opportunity to write these words and share that which my headline quote says. I have often said that when I was teaching, I was lucky they didn’t know I would do it for free. I would, and do, share my words literally for free. I am rich in life and thankfulness and that is all I need.

I will pause sharing my thankfulness and include herein replays of poems that were written for or about my earliest persons for whom I am grateful.

From an Ember to a Flame

We met upon a winter’s day

When chanced upon the ice to play

You were a youth, I, but a teen

Our fate unknown, and not yet seen

Unknownst to us a spark was lit

We went our way not knowing it

Our paths diverged as oft occurs

But crossed again in later years

That spark, that ember, once so small

Became a flame one magic fall

That flame became a fire of love

Fanned by the wind sent from above

Although a fire may lose its blaze

Our love grows stronger each new day

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