RIP John Heldon (1947-2059)

As Paul Simon said, "Still crazy after all these years..." Here's the latest testament to that effect about myself:


John Heldon to Athletic Director


The Rutgers community mourns the passing of its oldest living alumni ever, age 112 years and one day. John Heldon surpassed the age of Walter Seward, the previous eldest alum, by about a month. In fact, those present at his passing claim his whispered last words were "Go RU...Hi Walter." 

Always a staunch supporter of the University, and avid Men's Basketball fan, Heldon is perhaps best known for his writing in his later years, mostly sports fiction with settings applicable to his beloved alma mater. It was his ability to convince the then and current Athletic Director, Tim Pernetti, that royalties from books can create substantial passive revenue streams for the University. 

"Funding back then was generous compared to today's standards. John was able to make me realize we could create a library which would just keep on giving. Funding is harder to find today than truffles," Pernetti said, he himself pushing 90 with no sign of slowing down. 

"It seemed like a crazy idea back then, but John was persistent, and it's turned into a meaningful, long-term endeavor. It's good to think outside the box. That's what keeps me going." 


"Tim! Tim! Wake up. You were dreaming."

" I know," he replied, "Some of the best ideas start with a dream."


Jeff Goins, Writer

I'm especially delighted to have Jeff Goins guest blogging for us. I recently discovered Jeff among the sea of wheat which is the Internet, and you'll see soon enough he's the whole wheat, and not the chaff. I quickly saw we shared similar views about life, and how to spend it: Making a difference by inspiring people to think and do things differently to make a better place for them and theirs. Here is my Q and A session with Jeff. Enjoy!

John:  "Jeff, you said you were spinning your wheels as a writer/blogger for around 5 years, and not at all happy with your efforts. Since then, you've had rapid acceleration reaching legions of followers. Was it an epiphanous moment, a light bulb going off, you remembering exactly where you were, or was it more of an evolution?"

Jeff:  "It was actually a surprise. I feel like I've been doing what I've always been doing, but now more people are noticing. Of course, that's not true, but it's how I felt. It was only when a friend told me that I'd found my voice did I realize how much I had grown as a writer in the past several years. So for me, there was no big moment of epiphany. I just tried to keep my head down and stay busy working, but after a year and a half, I lifted my head up and was shocked to see how far I came. Contrast that with the previous five years, and I was ALWAYS checking my status and progress. I really think success is tied closely to loving the work and not getting too obsessed with results."

John:  "Jeff, Your writing style. When you write, how do you strike a balance between structure and creativity? How much do you depend on outline, or allow free flow?"

Jeff:  "I start messy and bring structure to it as I go. I'll free write for awhile, find an idea that resonates and then fixate on that. After a short while, I create an outline to help guide the process and put a little bit of structure around the idea.  For the most part, I believe that ideas just come and it's our job to capture them. In my experience, creativity often happens best with a few restrictions. So I limit myself to make the work more creative.

John:   "You're a difference maker. I'm trying to be. What advice would you give me, or any of my readers, to inspire change; what I think of as a 'change reaction'?"

Jeff:   "You gotta live it. Whatever you're calling people to, whatever you're challenging them with — it has to be a part of your life. That's called integrity, and it's more rare than we realize."

John:   "You're from the South, Alabama, but you've spent time in the North. How do you think reconciliation, finally putting and end to the Civil War, can come about? I tongue and cheek blogged about it; (see 'Vacations for Blue and Red States,') but after I finished, I had this extreme feeling of wishing this would happen. Talk about being a difference maker! What are your feelings on this matter?"

Jeff:   "Actually, I was born and raised in Chicago, but my dad's family is originally from AL. Honestly, I didn't realize there was still real tension between the North and South. In my context, I see some misunderstandings and cultural conflicts, but nothing life-or-death. That's not to say it doesn't exist; I just don't see it.  That said, any kind of reconciliation usually involves humility and love. And those things are easy to talk about, but harder to practice."

John:   "Finally, Jeff, tell us about your new book Wrecked, from the egg, to the toddler it is now racing up the charts?"

Jeff:   "Wrecked is about the life that we're afraid to live. It's a call to find your purpose in life in the least likely of places: where there is discomfort and pain.  None of us want to go to those places, but most of us would acknowledge that's where we grow. The book is a concise listing of several people who are living that kind of life and the lessons they're learning along the way. I share my own reflections, as well. I hope it inspires people to think differently about the work that they're called to do."

John:   Thanks again, Jeff, for this opportunity, and for what you do everyday.

Jeff:   "My pleasure, John!"


I urge you to visit Jeff's blog at There are always refreshing and inspiring thoughts on the pages.


Emery's Berry Patch (

When my parents were still living around Atlantic City, NJ, I used to travel the back roads instead of the Parkway to see them.  The first few times I traveled on Route 539 South, I passed a white sign with an arrow pointing to Emery's 200 feet away.

The next trip, the sign must have been magnetized, because this time I didn't even have to think about it.  I turned right as I glanced the other prominent word on the sign, "Pies".

Well, I came upon the neatest little country store with all sorts of unique gift items.  You have to go there to see and buy them, but I'll give you an example:  a small ear of popcorn, with the kernels still on the cob, and a bag to "pop" in the microwave.

But the Pies! (they deserve a Cap), the hook for me, are out of the Universe!  They're so big and heavy, they might sprain your wrist if you're not ready for them on the first pick up (almost not kidding).

My parents would invariably ask, "what kind of pie are you bringing down?" before an impending visit.

I explained this scenario to Emery's, who then told me, "a lot of travelers take the back roads, and they call Route 539 the 'Pieway'".

Since my parents moved closer (ten minutes away), we haven't been going to Emery's with as much frequency, until yesterday.  It is about 40 minutes from our house, but yesterday (Sunday) was a perfect, top down in the VW Eos, so Genna and I and our sweet teeth zipped over to Emery's, this time for a blueberry crumb pie.  At this point I should tell you, you have a choice to make:  do you want cheap, or the best?

Most customers prefer the latter, I'll tell you why.  After October 1st, Emery's takes holiday pie orders, where customers pick a day, and an agreed upon time to come pick up their orders.  That's alotta pies!

If you have a few leisurely hours, join the worthy pilgrimage to Emery's.  Check out their site in the title, and they do really fun things for kids too.



When I first entered college, I tried smoking, but as Bill Clinton said, I didn't inhale.  I temporarily abandoned a leadership roll, and became a follower.  It seemed (though probably not) the majority of the Freshman class at Rutgers was smoking.  What was I missing?  Would this calm the Freshman jitters?  They, the University, after all, were trying to flunk a third of us.  Would smoking right my keel, and lead me to a safe (passing) harbor?

Not. This smoking faze of my life was short lived.  I didn't like the taste, I almost burned my finger, it was expensive, and what finally  ended my flirt with tobacco was kissing a girl who smoked...Yuck!

I have dear friends who smoke, and I don't love them any less, although I remind them of the perils often.  It's just not my cup of tea, which I did take a liking to (green).

I found out in later years there might have been a gene component to this experiment.  My father admitted when he was about the same age, he tried smoking and drinking while stationed abroad during World War II.  He too ditched the tobacco, however, he kept the Scotch, even to this day.

Genna, my eventual wife, didn't smoke while courting, but after we were married, we had some "out there" friends who started smoking these little (I forget their name) short cigars.  After all, she was an independent, married woman...she'd come a long way, baby!  I went along with this with the understanding she had to full throat gargle before she got a kiss from me.

I think she was just doing this disgusting (in hindsight) habit ( though it wasn't yet) for show.  As we all know, youth has a craziness to it, or it isn't youth.  A couple of months past, and I could see this fad was fading fast.  However, Genna had a different way of stopping than I did.

We were out to dinner with her parents, when Genna lights one of these shorties (remember in those day you could still smoke in most restaurants).  I glanced over to her mother, who could communicate to her daughter through her eyes, and her peepers were saying "No."

Her father, who had a very expressive face, clearly was not amused.  When his optical daggers missed his daughter's sensibilities, he reached across the table while she was in the midst of her third puff, grabbed the cigarillo (THAT'S what they were called, I just remembered), and stuffed it in her water glass.  He then started talking about the weather, or what ever, like nothing just happened.

We all joined in talking about a range of subjects, but not smoking.


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

That's the line from the classic Staples commercial from a few years ago, about parental glee when their kids have to go back to school.  After today, I didn't think it so wonderful.

This morning, the blinking low ink light on my printer sent me the signal.  I have been doing a lot of printing, but what's annoying about this Canon model is it has 5 different cartridges.  Not just a black and a color, but 2 blacks, a yellow,a pink, and a blue.  My tech advisor, my son George, recommended the printer, and it does render very crisp photo like images, but I'm changing the ink as often as I'm printing, or so it seems.

Anyway, I decide to swing by Staples today, before going to the food store, with 2 spent cartridges, and a 6 dollar coupon.

I should have senses something amiss as I had to fight for a space in the parking lot, which had never happened before.  I go into the store, and there's sooo many kids and parents the only explanation can be there giving everything away for free.  No, it the was the end of the first week of the school year, and all these late coming kids and harried parents are restocking school supplies.  

I had walked to the middle of the store before I fully grasped what was happening.  I noticed the store personnel had blocked off aisles to snake the purchasers around the inside of the store, akin the a Star Wars premier.

I said to my self, I'll come back tomorrow, just before realizing the only exit to the store without paying for a purchase was to go back out the entrance.

Sure enough, I saw it coming, a store manager saw the ink cartridge boxes in my hand and asked sternly,

"Where are you going with those?"

After explaining, I said to him, "I'll see you tomorrow."

We both smiled as I when out the entrance to my car.

Tomorrow, the store will be empty, and probably the shelf for my ink cartridge.


Pop's Ticker

My father turned 88 last June, and I'm blessed he's in remarkable shape.  I want to take partial credit, because I'm into anti aging supplements from my doctor,and I pass the info along to my parents (Mom's nearly 86; more in another blog).  I kid my doctor, who has never met them, that he should consider them his "out patients."  Of course, I run whatever I plan to pass on by him before I do it.  It's really just basic stuff, like vitamins C, D3, fish oil, coQ10, Calcium/Magnesium, and a Multi.  These simple few will do wonders for you, too.

It must be working, because all their other doctors say thing like "Oh, what good blood values," or " you don't look your age."  More than a few times I've lent credibility to their ages by producing MY medicare card.

Anyway, back to Dad.  He does have a health concern which requires monitoring.  As a kid he had rheumatic  fever which left him with a murmur, and that valve involved had to be replaced 11 years ago.  He doesn't say much; he's always used words at a premium.  In fact, his yearbook caption said, "silence never makes any blunders.  So as the doctor asks his questions, I supplement Dad's yes and no answers with any embellishment needed.

"Do you smoke or drink?" the Doc asked.

"I don't smoke," Dad turned to me, as we both laughed.

The Doc agreed scotch with a lot of ice was therapeutic for him.  Then he said at the open doorway as we were wrapping up the visit,

"I don't get many chances to say this to my 88 year old patients, but I'll see you in a year."

The three of us smiled, then I saw the rest of the staff staring in disbelief.  Looking further into the waiting area I noticed a packed room of non erect gaits, pasty pallors, and noticeable discomforts from ailing.

I was reminded of my good fortune of health for my Dad.

I put on my chauffeur's cap, and we were on the way home.