Month: February 2014

Review of Rodizio Grill: The Brazilian Steakhouse

Dinner at Rodizio Grill: The Brazilian Steakhouse in Voorhees, NJ isn’t as much a meal as an experience. I’ve attended numerous dinner engagements, but I’ve never had the pleasure of anything quite like this. Eating at this establishment made Thanksgiving Dinner seem like an appetizer and Fellini’s depiction of the Feast of Trimalchio appear like a kid’s meal!

The evening began as the server placed a block on our table. On one side it was green on the other red. When the green side showed servers came around non-stop with skewers full of meat. They explained what type of food they had. Customers had the option of taking or passing on it. If they accepted the server would either slice the meat or just place it on the customer’s plate. Talk about dining on-demand!

Due to lack of room on my plate I had to turn down foods I was anxious to try. I didn’t need to worry, though. Servers returned later with the same cuisine. I liked this. It gave everyone in my group the opportunity to sample the entire menu.  

One of the servers explained that if my group needed a respite, to put the red side of the block up. Servers wouldn’t come to our table until we flipped it over to green. I’ll have to take their word for it. The evening I attended with the Saturday Dining in Cherry Hill group, the green side stayed up the whole time. (In the interest of full disclosure I should add that the block was in front of me the entire evening.)  

I’ve been to restaurants that had multiple-course meals, but the Rodizio Grill pushed the envelope. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the variety of entrees I got to sample at a single dinner. Because of the myriad fare I may be missing a few, but here it goes. To the best of my recollection they brought out Marinated Pork, Ham, Top Sirloin, Lamb, and a very tasty Brazilian Sausage. For us fowl fans the meal included Sweet and Sour Chicken, Marinated Chicken, and Turkey Wrapped in Bacon. At the end of the evening they threw in something for us seafood lovers: Catfish with a delicious Passion Fruit Sauce. And all this PLUS an unlimited salad bar.

Another interesting delicacy the servers brought out was a Fresh Glazed and Grilled Pineapple. The menu billed it as “a guest favorite” and it lived up to its reputation with my party. We requested they bring it out several times and the servers acceded to our wishes.

After repeated rounds of indulging in entrees, our group declared “checkmate” so I turned the block on its side. Servers then provided us with a desert menu. Readers know I received a full meal when I write that I didn’t have room to partake in it.

If you’re interested in an original dining experience, the Rodizio Grill is the place to go. It’s that unique establishment in that while dinner is a little pricey, I doubt anyone walks out of there feeling like he/she didn’t get his/her money’s worth. After sampling the unlimited portions, you’ll feel full–and spoiled–for days after eating there.

 

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Review: Rush – Clockwork Angels Tour

The ‘countdown’ is over Rush fans! Just like ‘clockwork’, following their latest studio album: ‘presto’! They released a live one recorded during the subsequent tour. While I have the MP3 version, I’m not entirely a ‘digital man’ so I made a ‘headlong flight’ to the store to grab the CD version. In the wake of my ‘vapor trail’ I realized this is the ninth live album put out by the band. Did we need yet another one? I think I speak for all Rush fans when I say that I couldn’t ‘resist.’

As always, Rush decided to ‘animate’ their performance by trying something new. They ‘rolled the bones’ and decided ‘circumstances’ were right to include some ‘different strings’ on the album. While this may seem like ‘heresy’ to some fans, ‘entre nous’, it was a hit! The Clockwork Angels String Ensemble had one ‘superconductor’. They responded to the ‘limelight’ through great ‘chemistry’ with the rest of the band. If the group aspired to make classics such as “Dreamline”, “YYZ” and “Red Sector A” sound fresh as ever: ‘mission’ accomplished!

Can Alex, Geddy, and Neal still rock after all these years? Have the ‘scars’ of ‘time and motion’ ‘between the wheels’ of their tour bus taken a toll on their performances under ‘the camera eye’? ‘You bet your life’ they ‘face up’ to the challenge of putting out a quality live album worthy of their reputation. They ‘show don’t tell’ that ‘dog years’ haven’t affected them one bit.

As the album opened, they ‘cut to the chase’. “Subdivisions” lead into “Big Money”. The band then varied it up with numerous tracks out of the ‘archives’. My favorite new addition to the Rush repertoire was “The Body Electric”. The last several tours Rush went into Reggae mode on “Working Man”. On this live recording they kicked the Funk into overdrive with this cut from Grace Under Pressure. I felt ‘tears’ welling in my eyes as the boys sounded like Chic on steroids with the way they rocked out on this track.

The recording also included most of the tracks from the Clockwork Angels CD. What a variety! There was the “Bastille Dayesque” “Headlong Flight”, the softer “The Wreckers” and the orchestral “The Garden”. I felt let down that the band chose to leave off “BU2B” and “BU2B2” from the studio recording. I thought they were among the strongest tracks on Clockwork Angels, so I’m not sure why they chose to leave in ‘limbo’ for the live recording. I’m hoping there’s a ‘ghost of a chance’ they play them in concert at some point.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m going on a ‘witch hunt’, but I did have a slight issue with the song selection. It was a ‘sweet miracle’ the way they balanced the old with the newer songs. They played 5 of 8 tracks off of 1985’s Power Windows. That wasn’t one of the better CDs in the Rush catalog. I thought I was ‘losing it’ while sitting through all these synthesizer driven cuts. Doing so was ‘one little victory’ for my patience.

Listening to The Clockwork Angels Tour made me wish ‘time could stand still’ or ‘freeze’, but I did manage to ‘stick it out’ and listen to the whole recording at one sitting. The CD proved that Rush are more than merely players. They put out yet another strong effort with enough variety to appeal to both older and newer fans. They deserve ‘a show of hands’ for this effort. It’s an ‘open secret’ that we can’t ‘turn the page’ on Rush just yet. And ‘that’s how it is.’

Hymn of the Transylvanian

I must live with my immortality

I hear the howl of distant owls. Midnight!

My bride is the night; my sustenance, thee.

 

My fangs they know of no morality.

The moon is full, my power at its height…

I must live with my immortality!

           

My prey is in my sight, ‘tis all I see.

My prey shudders and shakes all full of fright!

My bride is the night; my sustenance, thee.

 

A smile appears on my face. He! He!

I arch her neck and then apply the bite…

I must live with my immortality!

 

This is the pinnacle of joy for me

But wait! I run to hide from the great light…

My bride is the night; my sustenance, thee.

 

This is my unfortunate destiny.

There is just one creed that is in my sight:

I must live with my immortality!

My bride is the night; my sustenance, thee.

In the Footsteps of Ghosts

In his 1881 classic play Ghosts, playwright Henrik Ibsen wrote about a family haunted by figurative ghosts from its own past. As we prepare for the upcoming Halloween season of ghosts, ghouls, and specters what better place to seek the ghosts of our own history than in graveyards? In past issues of this publication I’ve written about various sources for locating information regarding one’s genealogy. Eerily enough one of the most interesting I’ve found is a cemetery.

            My Great-Grandfather Michael Stephany was a veteran. Appropriately enough he’s buried at a military cemetery. I found a lot of valuable information about him from visiting his grave. His head stone at BeverlyMemorialCemetery listed him as being from Pennsylvania and as serving in the First World War. The crucifix engraved on the headstone indicated that he was a member of the Christian faith. It had his rank listed as Private First Class. He served in the 313th Field Artillery of the 80th Infantry Division. Of course, it had the main pieces of information every genealogical researcher longs for: his dates of birth and death.

            Cemetery records also contain a wealth of information. I found out from my 4X Great-Grandfather Joseph McClay’s death certificate that he worked in the liquor business. This was a great find, because I’ve always been curious as to where I inherited my long standing interest in the liquor industry. (Admittedly, my ancestor worked in the distribution end of the business whereas I’ve been more drawn to the consumption end of it.)

           Curiously enough, he and his wife, Mary, both have the unusual distinction of having moved after they passed away. They were both interred at OddFellowsCemetery in Philadelphia in the 1870s. Their graves were moved in the early 1950s when the land was converted into a housing project. It’s horrifying that even in death one can’t escape the reach of government.   

            The most fascinating thing about visiting graveyards is that you never know what you’re going to find. I learned this when I visited my great-grandmother’s grave. My great-grandmother Violet Bishop Connelly was the family historian. She knew all kinds of things about our ancestry. She said that the city of Coatesville, PA was named after one of our relatives. She told the family that we were related to the famous explorer Zebulon Pike. She even found that we were related to two presidents of the United   States (William Henry and Benjamin Harrison) and a signer of the Declaration of Independence (Benjamin Harrison). In addition, her Great-Great Grandfather Ichabod Bishop played a role in the American Revolution. Her Grandfather, William Henry Harrison Coates, served in the American Civil War. Some of her ancestors immigrated to Massachusetts in the 1630s. When I found out she was buried in a Bishop family plot at OaklandCemetery in Philadelphia, I figured there was going to be this huge monument to the Bishop Family; something rivaling the types of monuments one would find in Washington, D.C.

            I called the cemetery ahead of time and got the section and location of the family plot. My dad also found the deed to my great-grandmother’s plot. I headed over there one Saturday afternoon with my father. In spite of all this information we had we ended up wandering around for at least a half-an-hour looking for it. It took a kindly groundskeeper who went out of his way to go to the front office and get maps and a burial card to take us to the grave. Wouldn’t you know it, the grave was unmarked! There were seven members of the Bishop family buried there. There was a marker that only had two of their names (her brother’s and sister-in-law’s): not my great-grandmother’s or even her parents’! This was one of the biggest disappointments of my adult life.

            The thing that bothered me the most about this experience was that I don’t have any idea why her grave is unmarked. I would have thought that someone so interested in genealogy and history would leave something so that future generations of the family can find where she’s buried. My great-grandmother had three children: two of whom are living. Unfortunately, age and memory don’t permit them to tell me why. I asked two of her grandchildren and they didn’t have any idea why there’s no marker either.

        One clue I did find was that whenever I ask anyone to describe my great-grandmother the first word they always use is humble. I learned from the Ghost Tours presented by the Historical Society of Moorestown that orthodox Quakers didn’t have grave markers because they believed them to be a sign of pride. I know my some of my great-grandmother’s ancestors were Irish Quakers. That’s one possible reason why there’s nothing identifying her grave, but unfortunately I’ll never get a definitive answer as to why.

        While it may sound macabre to some, visiting cemeteries and reviewing cemetery records can provide a wealth of information to genealogical researchers. As I know from my own personal experience, the results can be scary or even unexplained. But aside from the wealth of data we can gain from this, let’s face it: paying our respects to relatives who have gone before us is just the right thing to do. If I may paraphrase the greatest philosopher who ever lived, a man named Yogi Berra, you should visit your relatives’ final resting places. If you don’t they’re never going to visit yours.       

             

Book Review – Promise and Power : The Life and Times of Robert McNamara by Deborah Shapley

Many called Robert McNamara the “greatest management genius” of his era and yet today his name is synonymous with failure, mismanagement, and deceit. In this book, Shapely narrated this “whiz kid’s” meteoric rise to the heights of respect and prominence, through his downfall and disgrace as the architect of “McNamara’s War”: the tragedy that was the Vietnam conflict.

 

Shapely described McNamara’s education as the formative years of his life. He received an undergraduate degree in Economics from Berkley and later received his MBA from Harvard. McNamara was driven to do so by an idealistic belief that management was the key to solving the problems that plagued his society. He was an ardent believer in the capability of business to benefit society.

 

In school, McNamara learned the concepts of statistical controls and “throughput” which were pioneered by Donaldson Brown at du Pont and later adopted by Alfred Sloan at General Motors. These ideas were to shape American industry and make the 20th Century the “American Century.”

 

McNamara rigorously applied these ideas to first the U.S. Army and later to Ford Motor Company. For his efforts, he rapidly rose through the ranks of both organizations: he left the Army as a Lieutenant-Colonel and eventually rose to the Presidency of Ford. The later was a post he held for only a month as he was summoned by newly elected President John F. Kennedy to accept a position of even greater responsibility to society: that of Secretary of Defense. Because of his belief in public service, it was a call he couldn’t refuse.

 

The majority of Shapely’s narrative focused on McNamara’s seven years as head of the Defense Department. It was to be a tumultuous time as McNamara’s unshakable faith in statistical controls was to alienate many members of the military, and later the American public as a whole.

 

Shapely sharply criticized McNamara’s management of the Defense Department. McNamara took the ideas of economies of scale he leaned at Ford and contracted to design a plane that could be used both by the Navy and the Air Force. Both services didn’t like this concept, but it went forward anyway as McNamara believed, “the more important the decision, the fewer people should be involved in making it.” The plane never got off the ground and the project was later scrapped.

 

McNamara’s intractable belief in his brand of management blinded him to larger political considerations. Shapely described the cause of the Cuban Missile Crisis as a “political issue” as opposed to a matter that jeopardized U.S. national security. She also disparaged how McNamara tended to promote people in the military who were “numbers crunchers” instead of individuals with “operational” proficiency. And then there was the Vietnam War…

 

McNamara has been pilloried by many historians and journalists for his conduct of the Vietnam War. Shapely emphasized the duplicitous way in which McNamara was positive about the way the war was going in public and yet expressed grave reservations in private. The biggest criticism of McNamara was his “gradualist” approach to the war; in other words, his belief that the war in Vietnam could be a war fought with limited means for limited ends.

 

This may seem like an inordinate amount of criticism for the “greatest management genius” of his age, but Shapely had more to come. Shapely disparaged McNamara’s presidency of the World Bank. Through his emphasis on “throughput” McNamara made development the Bank’s primary mission. While this was a well intentioned move on McNamara’s part, it led to the developing world becoming overloaded with debt.

 

Shapely painted a very tragic portrait of our longest serving Secretary of Defense, but there’s a larger point that she missed. Robert McNamara was a brilliant man who received the best education this country had to offer. He studied and mastered the conventional management theories of the time and applied them rigorously in every organization he worked. He did exactly what he was trained to do and did so better than anyone else in his time. He applied these lessons in some of the most powerful public and private institutions in the world: and today “the computer with legs” is regarded as the epitome of hubris and failure. That is the tragedy of Robert McNamara.    

When Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough

In the early 1940’s executives at Gibson USA decided that the company needed a new slogan. As one of the premiere guitar manufacturers in the world they wanted a catch phrase that would really capture the essence of what their company was all about. So their Marketing Department got together and came up with a phrase that they believed did just that. “Only a Gibson is good enough!” they proudly declared. It’s a good slogan: “Only a Gibson is good enough.” The company’s executives didn’t just like it: they loved it! They decided not to just use it in print advertisements; they had it painted it on the actual guitars during the production process. From that day forward, everyone who purchased a Gibson guitar would see the words, “Only a Gibson is good enough” featured prominently on the head stock. I don’t mean to repeat it so much, but it is a good slogan. I’d have to say that it’s almost the best I’ve ever heard.

Marketing Execs at Gibson’s chief rival thought that it was a pretty good slogan, also. In fact, executives at Epiphone were concerned that it was going to lure customers away from their company. So they realized they needed to come up with a new company catch phrase. After doing some research, and a very clever bit of benchmarking, they came with a new slogan: “Epiphone…when ‘good enough’ just isn’t good enough.” That’s the best slogan I ever heard. “Only a Gibson is good enough,” never appeared on another Gibson guitar.

Gibson learned the hard way that priding one’s self on mediocrity doesn’t lead down the path to success. As we’ve discussed here, we live in an era where the expression work ethic is an oxymoron. Dave Palmeroy, A Nashville session bassist, once commented that “Bass players should look at the minimum number of notes they can play in a song and then play half of them,” but many people today take that approach to their jobs and to life. That just isn’t going to cut it anymore these days. In order to be successful you have to push yourself to do your best all the time.

As an example of this philosophy, I’d like to use an anecdote from the life of a gentleman I work with. Bob Grazioli began his professional career as an electrician’s apprentice. On his first job in that field he worked for a gentleman whose daughter he happened to be dating. (You can say what you want about Bob, but you can’t tell me he’s not brave. My grandfather was awarded two Purple Hearts in WWII, but I’d have to say Bob is the bravest man I ever knew.) Bob was installing an electrical socket into a kitchen. After he put the box in he asked his boss if it was “good enough.” His boss looked at him and asked, “Is it perfect?” Bob replied, “I don’t know.” “Then how do you know if it’s good enough?” Bob got the message. He won his bosses’ respect, became a professional electrician, and he got the girl. (He and his then-bosses’ daughter have been married for over twenty years.) Bob Grazioli is currently a Maintenance Supervisor for an international manufacturing company. I guess that socket was perfect.

Gibson USA also got the message. In 1957 they were facing stiff competition from an upstart rival called Fender. At the time, all guitar companies used single coil pick-ups in their instruments. They enabled the sound of the guitar to be amplified and heard, but they also caused a humming or hissing noise to come through the amplifier, but the tone was “good enough” for musicians at the time. Gibson hired an engineer named Seth Loving to see if he could correct this anomaly. Sure enough he invented a device he called a “Humbuckler” that produced a cleaner tone that eliminated the hiss and the humming noise. Gibson got a head of the pack. And, oh yeah, around that same time, they bought Epiphone.

Legendary Marketing Guru Theodore Leavitt had a great expression: “It’s not whom we know, it’s how we are known by them.” Joe Girard exemplifies that. He is the world’s greatest salesman. He sold 13,001 cars to individual people. In one month in 1973 he sold 174 cars. That is a world record that stands to this day. How did he do it? He explained in a recent issue of the Harvard Business Review that, “When you bought a car from me, you just didn’t get a car. You got me. I would break my back to service a customer; I’d rather service a customer than sell another car.” Mr. Girard emphasized that he loved his customers. Unlike today where many companies view their customers as a hindrance, Mr. Girard saw the opportunity to put food on the table for his family. He was born poor and he was down on his luck when a manager at a car dealership decided to give him a shot at sales. And he never forgot it. Mr. Girard said that he sincerely appreciated every person who ever bought a car from him. He would tell customers, “I thank you, and my family thanks you. I love you.” Mr. Girard didn’t see a sale as the end result. He saw making a satisfied customer as the goal.

I’ve described Marketing strategies that work, the power of persistence, and success. I’ve talked about people and companies that are winners. I think it fitting to close with a remark by one of the greatest winners of them all. Vince Lombardi used to tell his players that “the day you can tolerate coming in second, it makes it that much easier to tolerate coming in third. And that makes it easier to accept coming in fourth and so on.” So the next time you do something, don’t ask yourself if it’s good enough, you ask yourself if it’s perfect.

Criminal History

Grand expectations consume us whenever we commence genealogical research. Images of discovering we’re related to world figures who changed history dance through our dreams. If not a Churchill or a Washington, at least we want to find some relative who will impress our friends and/or fellow researchers. When I started researching my Great-Grandmother Violet (nee Bishop) Connelly’s family history I had just such aspirations.

“Mom Vi” was the closest my family came to having an official chronicler. She’d regale everyone with all these great tales about our family history. I didn’t have the pleasure of hearing them first hand, as she passed away during my early childhood. When her “students” did relay her stories to me I felt inspired to learn more.

Mom Vi held that our lineage included two Presidents of the United States: William Henry and Benjamin Harrison. Not just Chief Executives, but a great adventurer was among our ancestors as well. She said we were related to the man who discovered Pike’s Peak: the great explorer Brigadier General Zebulon Pike. When I heard all this I couldn’t wait to start digging on my own. I wanted to see what other interesting characters I could find hidden among the roots of my family tree. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that one of my relatives, in fact Mom Vi’s own grandfather, had a criminal history! Curiously when I mentioned this to some members of the family they were shocked. For some reason Mom Vi neglected to mention this part of the family saga.

With help from friends in the on-line community, I located a snippet from the Philadelphia Inquirer dated March 28, 1870. It read that Edgar Bishop and an accomplice were sentenced to three years in prison. They’d been convicted of counterfeiting five-cent pieces. As stunned as I found this news, the most astonishing part was that the sentencing took place on a Saturday. They must’ve really wanted to shuffle this guy off to prison if the judge came in on a weekend to do it.

Every family has its share of less than savory characters, but I never would’ve thought that person would come from the Bishops. They’ve got a long history in this country going back to the early years of the eighteenth century. In fact, my 5th Great Grandfather Ichabod Bishop even played a role in the American Revolution. According to an application for membership in the National Society for the Sons of the American Revolution, “Ichabod Bishop received from Timothy Elmer, December 20, 1777, 5:0:0 for a blanket during the Revolutionary War.” Apparently, that blanket helped the Colonists in the war effort as it qualified Ichabod Bishop as a genuine patriot. What went wrong with his grandson Edgar, then?

Another interesting thing about Edgar’s story is that Mom Vi’s other grandfather, William Henry Harrison Coates, fought in the Civil War. While Mr. Coates spent the following years recovering from that experience both in mind and body, his counterpart was trying to make a living by stealing from the same government for which he fought. I found this to be an intriguing comparison.

In light of this new revelation about my ancestry, I’m sure people will ask me what I think of having a criminal in my past. The first thought that comes to mind is that the measure of a person’s life is more than the worst thing he/she ever did. In the course of my research I’ve found that Edgar fathered seven children. One of whom, Albert Bishop, went on to father “Mom Vi.”

I discovered that Edgar married a woman named Mary Pike. I’m still researching to discover whether or not she is the “missing link”, so to speak, as to how I’m related to General Pike. If so, I could say that Edgar redeemed himself by “marrying up” and tying our family history with that of the great explorer.
The thing that stands out most in my mind is that Edgar had a number of different jobs throughout his career. I’ve discovered documents showing he worked as a watchman and a mariner. Those are pretty diverse fields of endeavor. I know that in 1850 he didn’t have a source of employment. It’s difficult to support a family large as his under any circumstances. It’s much more challenging when finding one’s self out of work for a time. Not that hardship excuses law breaking, but it’s useful to look at the whole picture before judging someone.

To borrow a line from the great historian Charles Beard when we take up the study of history our “noble dream” should always be the pursuit of truth through objectivity. Just because we’re researching our own history doesn’t give us the right to select facts that happen to appeal to us. We owe ourselves and our family an accurate portrayal of our past “as it actually happened” to paraphrase Leopold von Ranke. To do anything else would be criminal.

When “That Noble Dream” Becomes a Nightmare

I was a graduate student in American History when I first heard Charles Beard’s musing on that so-called “noble dream” of historical objectivity; I never thought I’d be reminded of it while researching my own ancestry. Strangely enough, I recollected Mr. Beard’s idea when I came across some data about my Great-Grandfather, Tom Connelly; or as I call him, “The Irish Immigrant Born in Athlone, Ireland Who Was a Second Generation American from Georgia and Philadelphia.” Who would have thought the life of an accountant could be so intriguing, fascinating, and filled with mystery?

Even though I started doing a genealogical survey of my heritage for my family, as a pseudo-trained want to-be historian, I thought I should be as objective as possible. I aspired to follow in the tradition of the great Nineteenth Century Historian Leopold von Ranke. I was going to use his technique and write about the past “as it actually happened” while documenting all my data as thoroughly and as professionally as I could. Great-Grandpa Tom’s story made this a little tricky. I wrote in a previous article of this publication about issues arising from the “disparity between memory and documentation.” I never thought I’d encounter a situation where various documents conflicted with one another on basic facts.

There’s an old family yarn about how my Great-Grandfather Tom Connelly (my paternal grandmother’s father) came to the United States from Ireland when he was 12 accompanied only by his mother. I thought that would be easy enough to confirm, until I came across the 1920 Census Records. I viewed the primary source itself and it stated clearly that Tom Connelly was born in Georgia as were both his mother and his father. That was certainly interesting. I knew this was my Great-Grandfather because it listed Violet Connelly as his wife and Tom Connelly, Jr. (then one year old) as his son. I did some more sleuthing and I located Mr. Connelly’s draft registration card for World War I (c. 1917). On that one, he very specifically indicated that he was born in Athlone, Ireland in 1892. That was really interesting. I knew that Ireland was part of the United   Kingdom until 1922. Was it briefly part of Georgia, U.S.A. in 1892?

I mentioned earlier that the tradition is that Tom Connelly came to the U. S. from Ireland when he was 12 years old. Both my grandmother and my aunt told me that same story on different occasions and decades apart. On the Draft Registration Card, it states that Tom Connelly (I know it’s him because of the other data on there) was born on June 12, 1892. The 1930 Census Record says he came to the U. S. in 1896, when he would have been four. There was no mention of Georgia this time. On that Census Record it reads that Tom Connelly and both his parents were from Ireland.

I later found a draft registration form my Great-Grandfather filled out in 1942. On that one he indicated his place of birth as Philadelphia. I felt a tint of envy upon reading this. He got around more extensively at the time of his birth than I have my entire life! I’ve got to keep researching to find the name of his travel agency.  

I knew my Great-Grandfather Tom was an interesting guy. He worked as a paymaster, a real estate salesman, and even an IRS Agent. The fact he claimed to be born in both Ireland and Georgia made him a lot more interesting than I ever could have imagined. I was also curious as to why on his draft registration card, the “Date of Registration” line was left blank. He was listed as an “alien” and a citizen of Ireland. He also declared that he was supporting his wife and mother at the time. Could either of those explain why? For that matter is it possible that the people responsible for processing draft cards were as thorough and proficient in their duties as census takers of the day? I was really surprised that my great-grandfather, a person who worked with numbers where precision was a hallmark of his trade, would leave a series of documents with so many open questions. It’s very difficult to draw firm conclusions and details about Great–Grandpa Tom’s life from all this.

Great-Grandpa Tom was a wizard when it came to numbers, but his public relations skills were an area he could have developed better. His legacy has the misfortune of suffering by comparison. In modern day language, he “married up.” My Great-Grandmother Violet nee Bishop (or “Vi” as she was known) was the family historian/genealogist. She was related to the famous explorer and discoverer of Pike’s Peak, Zebulon Pike. The city of Coatesville, Pennsylvania was named after one of her ancestors. By my research she was eighth generation American. As if that wasn’t a formidable enough legacy to compete against, “Mom Vi” is remembered very favorably by all who knew her. When she was in her seventies she worked with handicapped people at the WoodsSchool in Langhorne. She wasn’t just loved, she was revered. Since her passing, her reputation has reflected that.

While Great-Grandpa Tom may not have originally been from the South, in spite of what the 1920 Census taker reported, that’s where he chose to spend his remaining years. Robert Gray wrote in his “Elegy in a Country Churchyard” that “all paths of glory lead but to the grave.” Great-Grandpa Tom’s journey ended in Sarasota, Florida in March of 1960.

As lovers of history we all try to present the truth when we write about it. We all strive for that ever elusive goal of complete objectivity. After researching my Great-Grandfather Tom’s life with all the conflicting information, contradictory documents, and his being overshadowed by my great-grandmother’s glowing reputation I wondered if objectivity was even possible. I then realized that there was one thing missing in all this: Tom Connelly’s voice. I remembered a story about Winston Churchill. During the Second World War Franklin Roosevelt and Josef Stalin asked Churchill how history would remember the way they conducted the war. Without hesitation Churchill replied, “History will remember us fondly.” They asked how he could be so sure. Churchill responded, “Because I shall write the history!” It sure would be neat to read Great-Grandpa Tom’s version of events. I don’t know if it would be objective, but I can guarantee this: it would definitely be the most interesting work of history ever written by an accountant born in Ireland, Georgia, and Philadelphia.