I Remember Dad:

Dad’s Letters from Hickam Airfield

I Remember Dad:

Dad’s Letters from Hickam Airfield

By Richard Mabey Jr.

My beloved father often told me that while he was at Hickam Airfield during World War II that he often got so very homesick. Dad told me that when all of his buddies got leave and went off base, he usually stayed in his barracks and wrote letters home, while sitting up in his bed. For the most part, most of these letters are gone. Letters that Dad wrote to his mom and dad, his sister Violet, to his seven brothers and of course, to my mom.

During my freshman year of college, back in the Fall of 1971, while attending County College of Morris, I had the afternoon off from the grocery store that I worked at in Whippany. I remember visiting my Grandma Mabey. We had lunch together at her kitchen table in Towaco. Sadly, by that time, Grandpa had gone Home to be with the Lord. Grandma lived with her daughter, Violet, at the kennel that my Aunt Vi owned and operated.

I remember this moment so very well. Grandma and I had chicken noodle soup. Grandma asked me if I had planned on signing up for the service. At that time, the Vietnam War was still going on and my grandmother was concerned that if I joined the army that I might have to go to Vietnam. I remember, it was such a serious conversation. Outside the kitchen window, we watched Aunt Vi’s dogs run and play in the side yard.

As Grandma and I ate our chicken soup and sipped iced tea, Grandma told me to wait just a minute that she would be right back. Grandma left the kitchen and I could hear the creak of the stairs as she ascended the staircase to her bedroom. In a few minutes, Grandma returned to the kitchen and sat at her place at the kitchen table. She had in her hand a stack of letters, tied together with a blue ribbon.

Grandma slowly untied the blue ribbon and handed me one of the letters in the stack. The letter was addressed to Grandma’s old home at the end of Mabey Lane. The envelope read that it was from my dad at Hickam Airfield. I wanted to be sure that it was okay to read the letter. So, I double checked with Grandma. She simply replied, “Richie, if I didn’t want you to read it, I wouldn’t have given it to you.”

So, I took the letter out of the envelope. The letter was postmarked from back in July of 1943. The letter was written on very thin paper and had been mailed to Grandma via U. S. Airmail. I began reading the letter. It deeply touched my heart.

In the letter, Dad wrote about how much he missed everyone. He wrote about Hickam Airfield. How the food was okay but nowhere near as good as the meals that Grandma cooked for him. Dad wrote about the pine trees that were abundant in his yard and in the forest that surrounded his home, back in Lincoln Park. Dad wrote about his new-found friend, Tommy Andrews from Haskell. He wrote about how much he was learning about how to repair the many airplanes of Hickam. And, he wrote about the hundreds and hundreds of airplanes that filled the hangers and fields of Hickam.

There was not one single, solitary word from Dad that he was scared that the Japanese might attack Hickam Airfield again. Although, there were many times that Dad told me that there were many rumors of another Japanese attack. I suppose that Dad kept a stiff upper lift, so as not to worry his beloved mother.

I was 18 years old when I read that letter. After lunch, I dried the lunch dishes while Grandma washed them. Aunt Vi was out for the day, at a luncheon for the German Shepherd club that she belonged to. That afternoon Grandma and I sat at her kitchen table and Grandma gave me more of Dad’s letters to read. There was a repeating theme in all of the letters, that Dad couldn’t wait to come back home to his hometown of Lincoln Park.

That afternoon, Grandma also showed me her old photograph album of black and white pictures that Dad had sent her from Hickam Airfield. I was so dearly grateful to my grandmother for sharing that side of my dad. A side of Dad, I would have never gotten to know, if Grandma had not shared her letters and pictures with me.

That year, I wrote an essay for my English Composition class about Dad’s service at Hickam Airfield. I included a bit of the afternoon when Grandma shared Dad’s letters and photos with me. I am proud to say that I got a grade of an A on that essay. Somewhere, in my boxes and boxes and boxes of my writings, I think I still have it. Regretfully, I couldn’t find it right now. I hope and pray that I still have it.

Servicing and repairing airplanes at Hickam Airfield would hardly be the kind of thing that a Hollywood producer would cast John Wayne for in an epic World War II movie of heroism and true grit. But, still, none-the-less, it was a real service to the war effort. There are no words to define how very proud I am of my dad’s devoted and dedicated service to the Seventh Army Air Corps during World War II.

Sadly, when my dad was still on this side of Heaven’s Gate, I just did not thank him enough for his service to our country. It is something that I deeply regret. Oh, so deeply regret.

Perhaps you have a loved one, a neighbor, a friend, who served his or her country in the armed services. Please do consider taking the time to thank them. Truly thank them from your heart. You will never know how deeply they will cherish your kind words of appreciation for their sacrifice.

Posted in Accomplishment, Acts of Kindness, Be Strong!, Believe in yourself!, Compassion, Dad, Days of Being a Young Man, Destiny, Determination, Divine Protection, Dreams, Encouragement, Faith, Finding Your Purpose in Life, Friendship, From boyhood to manhood, Giving, Hawaii, Heroism, Hickam Air Field, Homecoming, Humility, I Remember Dad, Kindness, Life's Dreams, Love of Family, Love one another, Mabey History, Memory, Never give up!, New Jersey, NJ, Nostalgia, Pearl Harbor, Sacrifice, Second World War, Small Town America, Spiritual Lesson, Stand Tall, To thine own self be true., Wisdom, World War II | Leave a comment

I Remember Dad:

My Father’s Undying Belief in Hope for Young People

A photo of my dad (right hand side) and his beloved Minister, Reverend Fred Herwaldt. Both of these fine gentlemen are now residing in Heaven with the good Lord. Both worked untiring and with earnest dedication in leading boys to follow a moral compass through the God and Country Award classes of the Boy Scouts of America.

I Remember Dad:

My Father’s Undying Belief in Hope for Young People

By Richard Mabey Jr.

Author’s Note: My dad and the late Reverend Fred Herwaldt, of the First Reformed Church of Lincoln Park worked together as a team, to provide a wholesome, educational, quality year-long program for Boy Scouts to earn the God and Country Award.

Most people think that when my dad stepped down from his 28-year service as Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 170, from 1994, that he had totally retired from volunteer service in scouting. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think that in my little Mayberry, that a lot of people were jealous of my dad. As a result, a lot of unkind things were often said about my dad. Ironically, from the very people that Dad had helped at one time or another.

Dad was 66 years old when he retired as Scoutmaster of good old Troop 170. He had already had a heart attack. It was becoming more and more difficult for him to put a full pack on his back and lead the boys on a hike on the Appalachian Trail. It became more and more difficult for him to camp out.

But my father wasn’t about to give up on his ministry to serve others. My dad firmly believed that it was better to shape a boy to become a moral gentleman than to rehabilitate a wayward man. And thus, in 1994 my dad began serving as an Advisor for the Boy Scouts of America, Protestant religious award, God and Country.

Dad served as an Advisor for the God and Country Award from 1994 till 2005. During this time, Dad touched the hearts and minds of many boys, guiding them to follow the golden light of truth, to follow a moral compass, and to love the Lord. The God and Country Award is a combination of scholastic study of the Holy Bible interweaved with very practical ways for a boy to apply the teachings of the Bible to serve his family, church and community.

Dad worked with several churches in the northern New Jersey area, in his dedicated service to teach the God and Country Award classes to scouts. The program is basically a one-year study combined with selfless service to help other people. Dad took this job very seriously, he was earnestly dedicated to the cause.

I often reflect on how many boys’ lives my Dad touched through his 41 year service as a volunteer Scout Leader. For Dad had served two years as Committeeman in Troop 170, from 1964 to 1966. He served 28 years as Scoutmaster of Troop 170, from 1966 to 1994. And, Dad served 11 years as an Advisor for the God and Country Award. It’s a question that only the good Lord knows the answer to.

I loved my Dad with all my heart, mind and soul. I miss him so much. Many of you who know me, know that I’m a bit of a horse-drawn man. I still write stories and articles with old fashioned pen and paper. And, until only a few years ago, I would still type articles with an old fashioned mechanical typewriter.

Whenever I sit down to write an article or to write a story and I face that blank sheet of paper and fight the horrible monster of writer’s block, I think of my beloved Dad. Often times, when Dad was still alive on this side of Heaven’s Gate, I would ask him for advice or he would share an inspiring thought with me and I would then be able to slay the fire-breathing dragon of writer’s block.

Now I find, whenever I’m fighting writer’s block, I’ll think of my dad and take a minute and look at his picture. Then a Bible verse will come to mind or I’ll recall a word of encouragement that he shared with me.

I know a lot of my good readers are now facing the same challenges that I’m facing. There’s the aches and pains of being a bit older now. To put it very plainly, it’s getting tougher to throw on a full pack and hike the Appalachian Trail. But the truth of it all is this, it doesn’t mean it’s time to say farewell to serving others. It just may mean that a new avenue of selfless service is needed to be found.

Posted in Accomplishment, Acts of Kindness, Boy Scout Troop 170, Boy Scouts, Christianity, Compassion, Dad, Destiny, Determination, Encouragement, Faith, Finding Your Purpose in Life, God and Country Award, Heroism, Journey to Truth, Kindness, Life's Dreams, Lincoln Park, Memory, Never give up!, NJ, Nostalgia, Old Lincoln Park, Sacrifice, Small Town America, To thine own self be true., Wisdom | Leave a comment

An Irish Story

My only photograph of my great grandmother, Catherine Cavanaugh Storms.

An Irish Story

By Richard Mabey Jr.

What force of nature could possibly bring a proud Protestant Dutchman and a shy Irish Catholic girl together, especially being that the lass from the Emerald Isle was 18 years younger than the gentleman from the land of windmills and wooden shoes? That magical and mystical force, of course, is love.

In 1883, Catherine Cavanaugh, my great grandmother, came to America with her parents when she was only five years old. They first took up residence in Clifton. A few months later, the Cavanaugh family moved to Paterson. At the age of 16, Catherine worked in a silk mill in Paterson. Both of her parents also worked in the same silk mill. It was tough labor, requiring hard work for long hours.

Somehow and someway, Catherine Cavanaugh met a Dutchman named Wesley Storms, who lived in a small farming town known as Beavertown. Wesley was a very shy, lonely widower, who lived alone in a very small home at the foothills of Hook Mountain. Wesley, my great grandfather, was 18 years older than Catherine, my great grandmother.

Now at 68, I deeply regret that I did not ask my grandmother, Bertha Storms Mabey, more about her mom and dad. However, I am ever so appreciative for the information that Grandma did share with me about her parents.

Wesley Storms never did know his father. Wesley was born in 1860. Shortly after he was born, his father, William Storms, signed up with the Union Army. My great-great grandfather served in the 15th New Jersey Regiment. Sadly, he was killed in the Battle of Salem Church in May of 1863. It was a scar that was left upon Wesley’s heart, never to be healed for his entire lifetime.

For Catherine Cavanaugh, working in a silk mill was very hard work. The men and women who worked in the silk mills in Paterson worked long hours for little pay. It was a tough life. Most of the people who worked in Paterson’s silk mills were immigrants.

The Irish immigrants did not have it easy in the latter part of the nineteenth century. The prejudice against the Irish was very real in America. It’s painful to admit, but none-the-less, there was very real prejudice against the Irish. In factories, stores, and other places of business, during the nineteenth century, it was not uncommon to see signs reading, “Irish need not apply.”

Wesley Storms had a little farm in Beavertown. The greatest mystery is how it came to be that my great grandmother met my great grandfather. I remember my grandmother, Bertha Storms, told me that her father had close friends, who were also friends with her mother’s parents. In light of their age difference, and the fact that Wesley Storms was Protestant and Catherine Cavanaugh was a devoted Catholic, it is truly a miracle that they fell in love and married.

As a boy, growing up in Lincoln Park (formerly known as Beavertown) one of my best friends lived in the very home that my great grandmother and great grandfather once lived in. The very home that my paternal grandmother grew up in. I was only in the home one time. It was a hot summer day and my friend, Robert, invited me in to have a glass of lemonade. I was about 10 years old at the time.

I had only been in the kitchen of that dear old home, for about 20 minutes. But in that short time, I could feel the presence of my great grandparents. I was a very sensitive child, with a vivid imagination. As I sat at Robert’s kitchen table, as his mom poured cold lemonade in glasses for us, I could imagine my grandmother sitting in that very same kitchen as a little girl, eating supper with her mom and dad.

I live in Central Florida now. I don’t travel up to New Jersey that often any more. But when I do visit Lincoln Park, I always take time to take a walk by the home that my grandmother, Bertha Storms Mabey, grew up in. From the sidewalk, I look up to that modest home, atop a hill, and feel the presence of the ghosts of my great grandparents.

All in all, I deeply regret that I didn’t ask my grandmother more about her childhood days. I regret that I didn’t ask her more questions about her parents, specifically the details of how they met and fell in love. Sadly, those questions will never be answered.

If you are blessed to have even one of your grandparents, alive on this side of Heaven’s Gate, please do consider talking to them about their childhood, their history, their legacy, their heritage. Truly, it will be time well spent.

Posted in Accomplishment, Be Strong!, Believe in yourself!, Catherine Cavanaugh, Compassion, David Wesley Storms, Destiny, Determination, Divine Protection, Dreams, Encouragement, Faith, Giving, Grandma Mabey, Great Grandma, Healing, Heroism, Homecoming, Humility, Kindness, Love of Family, Love Story, Mabey History, Memory, Never give up!, New Jersey, NJ, Nostalgia, Old Beavertown, Romance, Stand Tall, To thine own self be true., Wisdom | Leave a comment

Reflections of Alex Mabey’s Song, “When the Soul Dies”

Reflections of Alex Mabey’s Song, “When the Soul Dies”

By Richard Mabey Jr.

To all of my cousins, who read my blog on a regular basis, there is a most talented young woman in Nashville who is bringing great honor to our good British name, with her blessed gift of song writing. But, Alex Mabey, not only writes lyrics and songs, she also records and performs her incredible repertoire of songs.

One of Alex’s most recently single records, is an eerie, haunting song entitled, “Irely Sue.” Here is the link to this song:

(54) Alex Mabey – Irely Sue [Live at The Treehouse Video] – YouTube

Alex has this kind of cry in her voice as she sings, much like Merle Haggard had. And, like dear, kind Merle Haggard, Alex has references to the flow of a river in her songs. The theme of the flowing river, weaves in her song, “When the Soul Dies,” much as many of Merle’s songs weaved references to Kern River.

There is a painful truth that cries in Alex’s three most recent singles. It is the fork in the road, that all so many of us had to face some time in life. That we are sometimes faced with the decision of whether or not to continue in a relationship that may be infringing upon our most sacred inner truth, our artistic call, or need to explore our creative energies to their fullest potentials.

“When the Soul Dies” is bringing back a perspective, a heart wrenching time of my youth. When I was struggling, all so deeply, to find my way to become the best writer that God could stretch me to be, the gap between my beloved at the time, deepened and widened. And years later, the week before Penny went Home to be with the Lord, she took the time to write me a heart-felt letter. And, in that e-mail letter Penny told me that she was proud of me. And, before the sun set that very day, I wrote Penny back and told her that I was immensely proud of her, and that I still loved her as my sister in Christ. It would be the last letters that Penny and I would write to each other.

I confess that I’ve lost track of how many times that I have listened to Alex’s song, “When the Soul Dies.” As many of you know, I am working on my final rewrite of my novel. As I write, I listen to Alex’s song and simply keep hitting the replay button. In many ways, this song is helping me to heal and more fully understand why it was that Penny and I needed to depart the closeness we once cherished, all them years ago.

My grandfather, Watson Mabey, once told me when I was a little boy that all Mabey’s are related in some way or another. That the angels in Heaven had blessed anyone with the Mabey name with a most high and holy mark, to excel in their chosen field. All of my cousins, reading this blog, know that Grandpa was right. Alex Mabey brings great honor to our good British name.

Now that I’m standing on third base and the fellow at home plate is a home run hitter, my heart is touched when I see a young person bravely going out into the world, struggling to leave their mark. Now, at 69, I find myself looking to the grave. And, in this time that I have left upon this earth, if I can do one thing to help one person, who is walking the path of artistic and creative endeavors, then I have done something worthwhile.

Please do check out Alex’s website. It’s a cinch to connect to, just write “Alex Mabey” in a search engine. And, please do check out Alex’s rendition of “Hallelujah” on YouTube. It will deeply move you.

A few years ago, George Jones, asked the question in a song, “who’s gonna fill their shoes?” There is no doubt, Alex Mabey is one of the individuals who is going to fill their shoes.

Posted in Accomplishment, Acts of Kindness, Alex Mabey, Be Strong!, Believe in yourself!, Broken Heart, Compassion, Creative Writing, Destiny, Determination, Divine Protection, Dreams, Eerie, Encouragement, Faith, Finding Your Purpose in Life, Friendship, Giving, Grandpa Mabey, haunting feeling, Healing, Homecoming, Humility, Jesus, Journey to Truth, Kindness, Leadership, Life's Dreams, Love of Family, Love one another, Mabey History, Memory, Modern Life, Moving On, Never give up!, Nostalgia, Penny, Sacrifice, The Mourning Heart, Wisdom | Leave a comment

I Remember Dad: The Call Of The Mountain

Dad at Hickam Airfield. In the background you can see the incredible mountains.

I Remember Dad:

The Call of the Mountain

By Richard Mabey Jr.

My father was influenced by mountains, from the very time that he came into this world. My father was born, not in a hospital, but in the very home that his father had built at the end of Mabey Lane. To the south, just past Route 202, stood the majestic Hook Mountain, the name of the mountain range that ran through Lincoln Park.

For my beloved father there was the mountain, almost calling him to greater heights. My father and I had a common bond of having our boyhood filled with looking for arrowheads atop the mountain range that ran along Route 202 in Lincoln Park. There was something special about the mountain. It called to the very heart and core of my dad’s inner being.

During World War II, Dad was assigned to the Seventh Army Air Corps and was assigned to Hickam Air Field in Hawaii. There to the east of the grand and glorious open field of Hickam stood the overwhelming heights of the Koolau Mountain Range. Once again, my dad’s imagination was stirred, to be in the presence of a magnificent mountain.

Now at 67, I look back and realize how much the presence of mountains impressed my father. His phrases often referenced mountains. My father would often say, “that’s a high mountain to climb,” in reference to undertaking a big task or a long-range goal. On the evening of my Eagle Scout Dinner, Dad told me that I had climbed a tall mountain and that he was all so very proud of me.

My father, in his 28 years of volunteer service as Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 170, taught hundreds of boys about the beauty and grandeur of the mountain, in the many times that the troop hiked the Appalachian Trail. But he also taught the boys the respect of the mountain. That in order to successfully climb the mountain, a scout needed to be aware of every single ounce of weight inside his backpack. It is a mindset that is essential when hiking the rugged terrain of the Appalachian Trail.

Dad often told me of the times when he walked down the wooded path, with his father, to the old Morris Canal. Grandpa was the single last employee of the Morris Canal to serve as the Chief Engineer of Incline Plane Ten East. After the Morris Canal closed for business, Grandpa and Dad would often revisit the old incline plane. I remember Dad often telling me that, as a young boy, it stirred his imagination how the grinding gears could effortlessly pull the heavy canal boats, up that very steep hill.

At the age of 77, my dad longed for a simpler lifestyle. He had just beat kidney cancer, having had one of his kidneys removed. Things were looking up for Dad. My father bought a three-acre field that lied at the foot of the infamous Kittatinny Mountain, part of the Appalachian Mountains, in the farming community of Saint Thomas, Pennsylvania.

Together, my father and I built a home on that field. As the home was being built, Dad would often look at the majestic Kittatinny and tell me how much it meant to him, to have a home that would set on the foothill of a high mountain. Sadly, shortly after my dad turned 78, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Dad suffered terribly. In an early morning in May of 2006, Dad went Home to be with the Lord. His bedroom windows looked out to Kittatinny Mountain.

It always stirred my father’s imagination to contemplate the endurance of a mountain. “A mountain is timeless,” Dad would often say to me.

I live in Central Florida now. It is only recently that I have understood the root of my homesick blues. Florida is flatland, no hills, no mountains. Deep in my veins, I can feel the call of a mountain beckoning me. My people were drawn to mountains. My great great grandfather, William Mabey was born in September of 1837. Around the age of 20, he built a home for his bride, Catherine Ann (Van Orden) Mabey, and himself, atop Hook Mountain, in what is now known as Lincoln Park.

I can feel the spirits of my forefathers calling me home, to return to the foothills of a mountain. The gentle whisper, of those loved ones who have come before me, beckons me in the wee hours of the night. I know deep in the chambers of my heart, lies within a profound need to say fare-thee-well to Florida.

Posted in Accomplishment, Acts of Kindness, Be Strong!, Believe in yourself!, Compassion, Creative Writing, Destiny, Determination, Divine Protection, Eerie Hook Mountain, Encouragement, Faith, Finding Your Purpose in Life, Friendship, From boyhood to manhood, Giving, haunting feeling, Hawaii, Heroism, Hickam Air Field, Homecoming, Hook Mountain, Humility, I Remember Dad, Journey to Truth, Kindness, Leadership, Lincoln Park, Love of Family, Mabey History, Mabey Lane, Memorial Day, Moving On, Never give up!, New Jersey, NJ, Nostalgia, Pearl Harbor, Sacrifice, Second World War, Small Town America, Stand Tall, Wisdom, World War II | Leave a comment

I Remember Mom: Baking Cookies With Mom

A precious moment of Mom and I baking cookies.

I Remember Mom:

Baking Cookies With Mom

By Richard Mabey Jr.

Upon retiring from a career of working as a writer in various backgrounds of public relations, ad agencies, and newspapers, I moved to one of the gated communities in Central Florida. Here in Florida, I have worked as a Security Officer, Dog Walker, Newsletter Editor, and Home Rental Coordinator. I played golf with my neighbors. Joined several clubs. But without a doubt, my fondest memory is of baking cookies with Mom, when she was still on this side of Heaven’s Gate.

Mom had this cookbook that she had handwritten. It was filled with recipes that had been handed to her by her mother. And, Grandma’s mother had passed the recipes down to her. There was no real telling how many generations that some of Mom’s recipes were passed down from.

There were three mainstay cookies: oatmeal with raisins, peanut butter, and of course the one and only, chocolate chips. Mom was a master of knowing just how much cooking oil to spray onto each cookie sheet. Then, there was the infinite wisdom of making each dab of cookie dough just the right size, to get just the right size for each cookie.

I look back now and realize just how precious the time of baking cookies with Mom was. I didn’t realize it at the time. It seemed as though Mom was going to live forever, that our time of baking cookies was never going to end. But, sadly, it did come to an end.

I know what it’s like to be on that horrid roller coaster of the corporate world. I worked in the Public Relations Department of one of the big telecommunications companies, worked as a copy writer at three different ad agencies. I know the hustle and bustle, the insanity of meeting a tough deadline. So, I know all the reasons why it’s nearly impossible to find quality time to spend with a parent.

But here’s the hard cold fact: one day your beloved parents depart. Gone. And, here’s the really sad news, nobody has invented a time machine yet.

If your Mom or Dad, or both your parents, are still with you on this side of Heaven’s Gate, by all means make time for them. Do everything in your power to find that special time to spend with your Mom or Dad. You only get one mother, one father. One to a customer.

Posted in Accomplishment, Baking Cookies, Be Strong!, Believe in yourself!, Compassion, Destiny, Determination, Divine Protection, Encouragement, Faith, Finding Your Purpose in Life, Giving, Homecoming, Humility, Journey to Truth, Kindness, Life's Dreams, Mabey History, Memory, Modern Life, Never give up!, Nostalgia, Sacrifice, Spiritual Lesson, Stand Tall, The Mourning Heart | Leave a comment

Alex Mabey’s Newest Song, “When the Soul Dies” Resounds of the Heartbreak of Lost Love

Alex Mabey’s Newest Song, “When the Soul Dies

Resounds of the Heartbreak of Lost Love

By Richard Mabey Jr.

Alex Mabey has just recently released a new song, “When the Soul Dies.” It is a song that touches the human heart. The theme centers upon the painful process of letting go of a precious love. There is a most eerie and haunting quality to Alex’s music video. There is the beauty of the river, the magnificent mountains standing proudly beside the flowing water. Autumn leaves of lemon yellow, burnt orange, and copper red, frame Alex’s face as she walks toward the cold flowing water of the river.

There is the gentle and subtle echo of Thomas Wolfe and Earl Hamner Jr., in the gentle guitar strumming and slow 4/4 time. There is a touch of an eerie, haunting quality, enough to give the viewer one or two moments where they find themself looking for the shadow of Rod Serling.

The snare drum is played quietly, in a most simple metronome style. There are significant spells of time passing, where the drummer stops playing, almost in reverent respect for the song to focus on Alex’s gentle voice.

Not to give away the gentle ending, but the viewer is given the present of a certain heart-felt inner peace that comes from truly giving another person their freedom in the name of true love.

The ending of Alex’s newest music video hit me hard. For when I was but 20 years old, 49 years ago, I did visit the babbling brook in the woods behind my old homestead. My beloved Penny, whom I had dated during my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college had just departed for Rutgers. A young man knows things. I actually did sail and watch a paper boat flow down that gentle stream, deeper into the woods. Then I sat down on a fallen tree and cried my eyes out.

To see Alex’s new music video, “When the Soul Dies,” simply go onto YouTube and in the search bar enter “Alex Mabey When the Soul Dies. Please do hit the Like button. And, also please subscribe and hit the little bell on the right hand side of the word, subscribe.

So, congratulations to Alex Mabey on another great song! Alex is a most talented individual! Wait a minute, of course she is, after all Alex is a Mabey!!!!!!!

Posted in Accomplishment, Acts of Kindness, Alex Mabey, Be Strong!, Believe in yourself!, Broken Heart, Compassion, Destiny, Determination, Divine Protection, Dreams, Drums, Earl Hamner Jr., Eerie, Encouragement, Faith, Giving, haunting feeling, Love one another, Love Story, Moving On, Rod Serling, Stand Tall, Thomas Wolfe, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Ghost of the White-Tailed Pony

My dad upon the legendary white-tailed pony.

The Ghost of the White-Tailed Pony

By Richard Mabey Jr.

I have been all so reluctant to write about this little chapter of my dad’s life. Well, not so much just of my dad’s life, but of a legend, a most haunting and eerie legacy of the Mabey family. As most of you know, my dad was born and raised in the home that his father built at the end of Mabey Lane. There was once a large, open meadow lying between the home at the end of Mabey Lane and the old Mabey Homestead facing Route 202. My grandfather crowned this beautiful open field as “Earl’s Meadow.” For it was the very land upon which Grandpa’s brother, Earl Mabey, was planning on building a home upon, when he came home from fighting in World War I. Sadly, Great Uncle Earl was killed in action in France.

Growing up in Lincoln Park, my dad and his brothers had a most wonderful blessing in their childhood. They owned a pony! How the pony came to be the prideful property of my dad and his brothers had many legacies to it. My grandfather often told the story that his eldest son, Bud, had won the pony in a poker game. My cousins and I would sit at Grandpa’s feet, as he would tell this story, complete with animation and dramatic voice flexion. This story would always infuriate my grandmother because she was dead set against gambling.

My beloved grandfather, Watson Mabey.

Then there was a legendary story that Grandpa simply bought the pony from one his cousins who lived along the Mabey Lane in Towaco. Still another, more haunting and eerie family legacy, is that one day the pony simply walked out from the woods at the end of Mabey Lane and took a strong liking to my dad and his brothers. Everything in my heart and soul tells me that the story that Grandpa simply purchased the pony from one of his cousins, is the core truth.

Here is where the story takes on a most eerie and haunting twist. My great grandmother, Dora Mabey, owned and managed a little ice cream parlor at the corner of Route 202 and Mabey Lane. In 1959, Dad added on a few rooms to the old ice cream parlor, and it became the home of his brother Dave and wife Sue, and their two children, young Dave, and Kathy. Sadly, the “Little House” as everyone called it, no longer stands.

My great grandmother, Dora Mabey.

Great Grandma Dora would often fondly talk about the white-tailed pony. I remember as a young child, sitting on the front porch of the old Mabey Homestead, with my sister and my cousins. My great grandmother would tell us about the white-tailed pony. How she simply loved that little pony and how it would walk up Mabey Lane, on its own, two or three times a day to get the gift of a carrot from her.

Sadly, the pony passed away in 1944. My grandmother, Bertha Storms Mabey, often said that the pony simply died of a broken heart. That it missed my dad and his brother, Edward, so very much while they were away, serving their country during World War II. Grandpa simply accounted for the precious pony’s passing to old age. For nobody really knew how old the pony really was.

At any rate, here is where the story gets to be a bit of a Twilight Zone tale. Great Grandma Dora often told the story that she would be sitting on the front porch of her ice cream parlor, and she would hear the distinct cadence of the pony walking up Mabey Lane, even after the beloved pony passed away. Even my dad hinted that after he came home from World War II, from time to time, he heard the clip clop of his endearing white-tailed pony walking up Mabey Lane. And, yes, even my grandfather told stories that he had also heard the clip clop sound of the ghost of the family pony, walking up Mabey Lane.

From the time I was 10 years old till I was about 13, my pals and I would often sleep out in my backyard, along Mabey Lane, during the summer months. I don’t know if it was just my vivid imagination, but I did hear the clip clop sound of the white-tailed pony walking up Mabey Lane as I looked up at the canvas roof of my old tent, before falling deeply into sleep. Some of my buddies also attested to hearing the sound of the ghostly pony’s hoofs, in the midst of the summer nights.

Is it possible that a pony’s love for its family, brought its specter form back from the grave? Can the love between an animal and a person ever be limited? Does love ever die? Who among us can say for certain, that there is not an ethereal world that lies between earth and Heaven’s Gate? I really don’t know the answers. But I do know that my family truly loved the white-tailed pony. That it brought great joy to all of their lives.

Hold dear and true the faith of a life beyond this physical world. Try to see life as a most unlimited thing that cannot be boxed in, in any way, shape, or form. Love knows no limitations. It is a force, an essence, a spirit that abounds in heart, mind, and soul. For love has infinite possibilities.

Can science really understand the wonders, the power, the infinite possibilities of the loving heart? Is there a tie between people and animals that will never be truly, fully understood by the human mind? For truly, love is the greatest gift a person can give to another living being.

Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com. Please put on the subject line: Ghost of the White-Tailed Pony.

Posted in Acts of Kindness, Be Strong!, Believe in yourself!, Boyhood Days, Compassion, Creative Writing, Dad, Destiny, Determination, Divine Protection, Encouragement, Faith, Finding Your Purpose in Life, From boyhood to manhood, Ghosts, Giving, Grandma Mabey, Grandpa Mabey, Great Grandma, haunting feeling, Healing, Humility, I Remember Dad, Journey to Truth, Kindness, Life's Dreams, Lincoln Park, Love of Family, Love one another, Memory, Mourning, Moving On, My Old New Jersey Home, Mysteries of Old Lincoln Park, New Jersey, NJ, Nostalgia, Old Beavertown, Old Lincoln Park, Sacrifice, Small Town America, Spiritual Lesson, Stand Tall, Wisdom, Wisdom of Animals | Leave a comment

Farewell Not, Thy Brothers in Spirit

A reunion photo of the Three Musketeers. Left to right are yours truly, Joseph Manicone, and George Yost.

Farewell Not, Thy Brothers in Spirit

By Richard Mabey Jr.

There is in each and every one of us, deep within the core of our hearts, the gentle whispering call of a time gone by, of places that are but now ghostly ethers. But deep in the fiber and marrow of bone, residing in the heart’s deepest chamber, held dearly to our inner being, is the dearest memories of childhood and youth. And, who we are and what we stand for, was formed with the help of a hundred and one people. For myself, my two dear friends from my old neighborhood, my brothers in spirit, gave to me the gift of encouragement when I was so deeply questioning my talents and abilities.

George Yost lived directly across the street from me, when I lived on old Route 202 in Lincoln Park. And, Joseph Manicone, lived to the left hand side of George, diagonally across the street from me. To say that the three of us were neighbors, doesn’t really quite define it. To say that we were friends, still does not really fully convey it. For the most part, we were like brothers. In fact, I think that we were closer than a lot of biological brothers are.

We fell in love with the same neighborhood girls. But never allowed it to divide to us. We were blessed with a certain degree of intelligence, yet still struggled through some of our classes, and struggled with some of the stricter teachers we had. We weren’t poor, but we were by no means wealthy. We grew up in Christian homes, with hard working fathers and loving mothers.

The lay of the land, the unique geographical qualities of our little corner of the world, played an important role in our growing up. To the south lied the monumental Hook Mountain. To the north lied the sloping valley, the acres and acres of wooded land, the sacred path that led to the old Morris Canal and then across the canal, stretched out to the east and to the west, the long line of railroad tracks. Then, across the railroad tracks, stood the hundreds of proud apple trees, gleaming and shining with the harvest of red and yellow apples, calling up to reach up and take hold and bite into.

Atop Hook Mountain, just a bit to the east, was the vastly wonderful Lilly Pond. And there, just off of the western shore of the Lilly Pond, was the mysterious Adams Log Cabin. It was an abandoned cabin that was said to be haunted. And, as kids we developed a certain respectful awareness that Old Man Adams’ cabin may well have been haunted. We just weren’t taking any chances.

Summer days were filled with the joy and splendor of playing baseball upon Earl’s Meadow, which was a very large open field that lied on the right-hand side, at the end of Mabey Lane. It was so named Earl’s Meadow because it was the open field upon which my Great Uncle Earl had planned on building a home, when he returned from France, fighting in World War I. Sadly, Great Uncle Earl was killed in battle.

We were the leaders of the rest of the neighborhood boys. It was not something that we consciously sought. It was more like something that was granted unto us by Divine Wisdom. Whenever we would start to play baseball in Earl’s Meadow, a dozen or more boys our age would magically appear. Some coming from across the woods from Clover Lane and Long View Drive. Some would come from the woods, from their homes that were aligned with the Towaco ribbon of Route 202. And still other boys would come forth from the forest, from the little village of migrant farm workers that once abounded along the westerly section of the old Morris Canal in the area of the remains of Incline Plane Ten East.

During the days of Summer, George, Joey, and myself would often ride our bicycles down to Moe’s Sweet Shop. We used to have wired baskets in the front of our bikes. We would fill them with old soda bottles that we found in the woods. Moe would give you two cents for every soda bottle. Back then just about every soda company charged a two-cent deposit on every bottle of their bubbly refreshment.

We would cash in the old soda bottles and buy Milky Ways, Three Musketeers and Baby Ruth candy bars. Outside of Moe’s Sweet Shop, we would use our pen knives to cut each different candy bar into thirds, so that we would all have a feast of three different candy bars to delight our palates.

We built tree forts in our backyards. We even built tree forts in the woods. We used to have all-day marathons of playing our favorite game boards of Monopoly and Risk. We read comic books beneath the shade of the maple, elm, and oak. We collected baseball cards. We always debated whether the ink that got stuck onto the slab of bubble gum, that came inside the waxed wrapper of the baseball cards, was dreadfully harmful to your digestive system.

We flipped baseball cards against the concrete foundations of the lower outside wall of the basement of our homes. We put the baseball cards, that we had as doubles, inside the spokes of the back wheel of our bicycles. We would hold them in place with clothespins. We had this joyous love of life, we relished each and every day of Summer. Deep in the crevices of our hearts, we knew that someday it was all going to fade away, that time was going to steal our magical childhood and youth.

The three of us still do keep in touch with emails and telephone calls. There is a bond of brotherhood that still ties us together. Roughly 60 years have passed since our days of being free spirited boys, filled with adventure, wonder, and magic. Yet, they still live on in our hearts and minds. In all so many ways, we were closer than a lot of biological brothers are. 

Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com. Please put on the subject line: Brothers in Spirit.

Posted in Accomplishment, Acts of Kindness, Baseball, Beavertown, Believe in yourself!, Boyhood Days, Childhood Friend, Comic Books, Compassion, Creative Writing, Destiny, Determination, Divine Protection, Earl Mabey, Earl's Meadow, Early Childhood, Encouragement, Faith, George, Giving, Humility, Humour, Joey, Journey to Truth, Life's Dreams, Lincoln Park, Mabey Homestead, Mabey Lane, Moe's Sweet Shop, My Old New Jersey Home, Mysteries of Old Lincoln Park, Never give up!, New Jersey, NJ, Nostalgia, Old Lincoln Park, The Old Tree Fort, To thine own self be true., Tree Fort, Wisdom | Leave a comment

Ne’er Be Forgotten, Thy Blessed Uncle

Uncle Pete with his trademark smile as he rode his lawnmower with his little cart trailing behind.

Ne’er Be Forgotten, Thy Blessed Uncle

By Richard Mabey Jr.

When my dad went Home to be with the Lord in May of 2006, my wonderful uncle, Peter E. Knothe, came forth from the shadows and took me under his wing, in the midst of my deepest sorrow. Uncle Pete gave me encouragement, spoke words of comfort, and shared the wisdom of scripture with me.

After Dad’s funeral service, Mom, my sister Patti and myself stayed at Knothe Farm for a little over two weeks. Uncle Pete took me under his wing. He became my adopted father. And his son, Cousin Pete, became my adopted brother. I owe them both, the sun and the moon and the stars. A debt I know I can never repay.

Uncle Pete had a great love of life. He genuinely loved people. He saw a person’s nobility, his or her fragile quality, their strength of character, and the inner most potential that lied dormant in the heart and soul of an individual.

There really are not words to fully explain just how much Uncle Pete loved his hometown of Randolph. He proudly wore his blue baseball cap that read in white lettering, “I Love Randolph, NJ.” And his love of Randolph, was just a reflection for his love of his country. For he served as a Medic in the front lines of France and Germany during the Second World War. Nobody will ever know how many lives he saved with his first aid and medical knowledge.

Uncle Pete loved to drive around his family farm on his riding lawnmower. He had this little cart that he would pull with the lawnmower. Uncle Pete would transport firewood from the back lot to the front door of his stone homestead, during the cold of autumn and winter. During the harvest of the corn, from early September till late November, Uncle Pete would bring stacks of ears of corn from the back acres of Knothe Farm to the country stand along Millbrook Avenue. What always amazed me about Uncle Pete is that 99.9 percent of the time that you saw him on his riding lawnmower, he would have a smiling grin, a mile wide.

During my two-week stay at Knothe Farm, following my Dad’s funeral service, Uncle Pete and I made a table for Aunt Alice’s dining room display of her Department 56 village of ceramic homes and stores. It was then that I came to fully realize Uncle Pete’s detailed precision in his skill as a Finishing Carpenter.

In his days of working as a Finishing Carpenter, Uncle Pete, specialized in the precision care of structuring and repairing bowling alleys in New Jersey, New York, and Eastern Pennsylvania. If you ever bowled in a bowling alley in any of these three states, rest assured that Uncle Pete probably built the bowling alleys or did some repair on them. He was one of the top bowling alley experts in all of New Jersey and New York.

Uncle Pete’s infamous little cart that still can be seen, out and about, at Knothe Farm.

It was during the time that Uncle Pete and I built this beautiful, wonderfully detailed table for his beloved wife, Alice, that I really came to understand the vast wisdom that Uncle Pete was bestowed with. Uncle Pete had a very deep knowingness of the existence of a Divine Being. He knew the Bible as well as any minister or priest, that I have ever known. He served as the Deacon of the Mount Freedom Presbyterian Church for many years.

In my heart, I know that a big reason that I am still writing is because of the inspiration and encouragement that Uncle Pete shared with me, when he and I built that wonderful display table for Aunt Alice, my mom’s sister. Right after Dad passed away, I thought for sure that my depth of grief had stolen my God given gift to write. I was blocked. The words no longer flowed like a stream through the forest. But it was my Uncle Pete who helped me to see that I needed to carry on, even in light of the heartbreak of grief that I was feeling for the passing of my beloved father.

I am immensely grateful to the guidance that my Uncle Pete bestowed upon me. Uncle Pete went Home to be with the Lord on the fourteenth of April in 2018. He was 96 years old. Today, Uncle Pete’s little cart, that he would pull around with his riding lawnmower, can still be seen out and about, in various places at Knothe Farm. A testament to Uncle Pete’s spirit of hard work with a smile.

Uncle Pete was a loving husband, a strong father to his four children, as source of faithful encouragement to his six grandchildren, six great grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. For myself, Uncle Pete was truly a lighthouse shining during my dark night of soul.  

Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com. Please put on the subject line: Uncle Pete Story.

Posted in Acts of Kindness, Be Strong!, Believe in yourself!, Christianity, Compassion, Dad, Destiny, Determination, Divine Protection, Encouragement, Faith, Friendship, Giving, Healing, Heroism, Kindness, Knothe Farm, Life's Dreams, Love of Family, Love one another, Never give up!, New Jersey, NJ, Randolph, Sacrifice, Second World War, Small Town America, Spiritual Lesson, Stand Tall, To thine own self be true., Uncle Pete, Wisdom, World War II | Leave a comment