To Find One’s True Self

At the age of 23, I graduated from the first graduating class of Sherman College of Chiropractic. I was filled with incredible hope, endless idealism and an abounding love for life.

To Find One’s True Self

By Richard Mabey Jr.

In September of 1976, at the age of 23, I graduated with the first graduating class of Sherman College of Chiropractic. It was a tough haul for me. Chiropractic college is a four year program. It is a grueling and tough curriculum. It did not come easy to me. I was just glad it was over.

After graduation I took the West Virginia Chiropractic Board Exam and passed. It was around June of 1977 that I set up a little store front chiropractic office, in a small town in West Virginia. I have plans to write more about this experience, reflecting upon the real life people who touched my life, during this time period. I don’t want to be sued. Some of these folks may still be around. So, for that reason, I am going to call this town, Deer Valley.

Deer Valley had about two thousand people in it. Most of the people were very poor. I was young, I was idealistic, I was filled with hope of touching as many people’s lives as I possibly could.

From June of 1977 till about June of 1979, I lived in poverty. I lived in the back of the little store front. It was cramped. There was a tiny shower in the backroom bathroom. It was like the time Barney lived in the backroom of the Court House. Except it wasn’t a half-hour sitcom, it was real.

I don’t know how I did it. Back then, chiropractic was nowhere near as accepted as it is now. The people in Deer Valley were good people, solid people, but they were dirt poor. They would come to me to get adjusted and bring a brown paper bag filled with tomatoes from their garden, to pay me. This is not a joke. This is the reality of it all.

People would come to me to get their spine adjusted. They would seem to be happy with me. They seemed to be happy with everything that I did for them, in adjusting their spinal column. They would pay what they could. Sometimes, they would tell me that they couldn’t afford to pay anything. I would still adjust them.

I worked part time at a grocery store to subsidize my income as a chiropractor. Still, I mostly lived on hot dogs and beans. And, not the national brands. I would buy the cheaper “store brand” hot dogs and beans. But, I was filled with hope, youthful energy, and endless idealism.

I got sick. I got very sick. I was worn and weary. I was flat broke. I had failed to make a living as a chiropractor. I felt ashamed. I felt like a big fat failure.

One day, I could go on no longer. My yearly lease was up. I closed up shop and drove back home to Lincoln Park, New Jersey in my 1966 Ford Galaxie. That chapter closed in my life. It was a most painful chapter.

In the late 1970’s chiropractic did not enjoy the acceptance that it holds today. I want to be very kind here. But, the people in small town West Virginia were often suspicious of a newcomer. Let alone a newcomer who was young and talked about the importance of the alignment of the spinal column for maintaining good health.

I learned a lot in those two years. I learned a lot about people. I learned a lot about myself. I wrote a lot. I wrote every spare minute I had. My love for writing just grew and grew and grew, during those two years of poverty. In many ways, writing chose me, I did not choose writing.

It was painful to write this particular chapter of my blog. For all the young people out there. For all the young at heart. Find yourself. Not the self that you think others want you to be. Find your true self. It may take facing a failure or two in life. But there is great fulfillment found in finding your true self. Only you can do it

Posted in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, Acts of Kindness, Advice to the younger set, Be Strong!, Believe in yourself!, Chiropractic, Compassion, Dangers of being too trusting, Destiny, Determination, Divine Protection, Dreams, Encouragement, Faith, Finding Your Purpose in Life, Ford Galaxie, Giving, Humility, Journey to Truth, Kindness, Life's Dreams, Love one another, Memory, Moving On, Sacrifice, Sherman College of Chiropractic, Small Town America, Spiritual Lesson, Surviving Prejudice, West Virginia, Wisdom | 1 Comment

“Portrait of Jennie”

A movie poster for the film, “Portrait of Jennie.”

“Portrait of Jennie”

By Richard Mabey Jr.

“Portrait of Jennie” is an incredible film. It is a fantasy film. It was released in 1948. Simply put, it is an outstanding film. It stars Jennifer Jones as Jennie Appleton and Joseph Cotten as Eben Adams. Both of these actors give spell binding performances in this ground breaking, fantasy film. The film costars Ethel Barrymore as Miss Spinney and Cecil Kellaway as Mr. Matthews.

Joseph Cotten and Jennifer Jones in a scene from “Portrait of Jennie.”

Eben Adams is a struggling artist. Not only is Eben struggling with making a buck at his art, he is also struggling with his own personal self esteem. He is constantly questioning his talent as an artist. Eben lives in Manhattan. This motion picture was filmed in Manhattan. It was filmed in black and white, so there is that eerie use of lighting and shadows which adds a fuller dimension to the fantasy aspect of this film.

Ethel Barrymore in a scene from “Portrait of Jennie.”

Eben first meets Jennie, while he is sitting on a bench in Central Park. He is flat broke. And, he just got another rejection in an attempt to sell one of his paintings to an art dealer. He is despondent, deeply depressed.

Eben’s first meeting with Jennie. She appears to be about 12 years old.

When Eben first meets Jennie, she appears to be a young girl of about 12 years old. Strangely enough, and done with good taste, Eben is rather enchanted with the young girl. He shows her his paintings. In a flash, Jennie disappears. It is all so eerie. When Eban gets back to his sparsely furnished apartment, he begins to paint a portrait of Jennie. All based on his enchanted memory of her.

Joseph Cotten and Cecil Kellaway in a scene from “Portrait of Jennie.”

In a nutshell, every time Eben sees Jennie, she appears to be a little bit older. This is a great tribute to the costume designers and the makeup artists of this film. And it cannot be forgotten, a credit to Jennifer Jones’ acting talent.

Jennifer Jones in a scene from “Portrait of Jennie.” You can see in this picture how the use of lighting in the black and white format contributed to the eerie feeling of this film.

There is something very eerie about this film. It is a combination of the mysterious music, the strange lighting, the narration throughout the film by Joseph Cotten and the interior scene of Eben’s poorly furnished apartment. This film is truly a forerunner of “The Twilight Zone.”

Joseph Cotten and Jennifer Jones in a touching and heart warming moment.

There are more twists and turns in this film than can be found on the Blue Ridge Parkway. And, there’s an edge-of-your-seat ending that might just cause you to bite your fingernails down to nothing. The ending is just that good!

Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten looking out to the New Jersey shore line, from Eben’s apartment’s balcony.

If you like love stories, if you like fantasy films, then this film is a must-see! It’s worth purchasing the DVD to see it. This is one great motion picture! I highly recommend it!

Posted in 1948, Believe in yourself!, Compassion, Destiny, Determination, Dreams, Encouragement, Faith, Film Review, Finding Your Purpose in Life, Friendship, Giving, Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Journey to Truth, Kindness, Life's Dreams, Love one another, Love Story, Manhattan, Never give up!, New Jersey, NJ, Portrait of Jennie, Romance, Spiritual Lesson, Stand Tall, The Unexplained, Twilight Zone, Wisdom | Leave a comment

The Final Tier of My Old Backyard Tree Fort

This picture was taken in September of 1973. It shows the last three remaining boards of the third floor tier of my old tree fort. You can see the cedar tree in the background.

The Final Tier of My Old Backyard Tree Fort

By Richard Mabey Jr.

In the summer of 1965, at the age of 11, between sixth and seventh grades, I built the highest and final tier to my backyard tree fort. My dad and my good friend, Stuart Steinhauser, helped me build this incredible tree fort plank. This particular plank was very dangerous to build. It was on the far edges of the branches of the old maple tree. It was higher than my house, which had three stories, including the attic. And, it was higher than the top of the incredibly tall cedar tree that stood along Mabey Lane.

The tall cedar tree that stood along Mabey Lane. The third tier was higher than the top of this magnificent old cedar.

To build the flooring of a tree fort landing this very high, a person needs to be very careful. It’s a long way down. Each plank of wood had to be lifted up by rope. It was a pain staking process. It was a true labor of love. I remember my mom did not really approve of us building a tier this high. It really was a dangerous thing to do.

The limbs and branches of the old maple tree were thick and strong.

The limbs and branches of the old maple tree were thick and strong. And, they held us up well. The most dangerous part of building this incredibly high tier was in being fully aware of this great height, while nailing the boards unto the mighty limbs of the old maple. It wasn’t done in a day. It took about three full days to build this tier.

Yours truly standing in my old tree fort. Note the knotted rope clenched in my right hand.

There was one and only one way up to the third floor of my old tree fort. And that was by climbing up the knotting rope. It was a magical time of my life. It was a wonderful time. I thought it was going to last forever.

A photo of my old friend, Stuart in my old tree fort. The third tier is shown behind Stuart. Note it had an uneven slant to it. On the left hand side of Stuart’s right elbow, you can see two small shelves. Before the summer of 1965 was over, I put a covered box atop one of these shelves. The box was used to store comic books and Mad magazines.

When we were building the third tier, we ran into a big problem. The branches that supported the long boards were not even. So, we ended up having quite a slant to this tier. At one point we were going to abandon our dream to build the third tier. But then we decided it would be better to have the slant on the high tier than to not have it at all.

A photo of myself standing beside my beloved maple, on a summer’s eve. This picture was taken in 1994. I was forty years old.

The summer of 1965 was a magical, wonderful, joyous summer. I had no idea that by late September of that year the dreaded strep infection was destined to attack my throat and then my joints and then the chambers and valves of my heart. I was in for the fight of my life. Complete with four long-stays in the hospital. And, for one full year my feet never touched the ground. But for that summer, I was given the gift to find joy and splendor in building yet another tier in my magnificent tree fort.

Posted in 1965, Accomplishment, Advice to the younger set, Be Strong!, Beavertown, Believe in yourself!, Boyhood Days, Childhood Friend, Comic Books, Dad, Destiny, Determination, Divine Protection, Dreams, Encouragement, Faith, Finding Your Purpose in Life, Friendship, Giving, Heroism, Life's Dreams, Lincoln Park, Mabey Homestead, Mabey Lane, Mad Magazine, Memory, My Old New Jersey Home, Never give up!, New Jersey, NJ, Nostalgia, Old Beavertown, Old Lincoln Park, Rheumatic Fever, Small Town America, Spiritual Lesson, Stand Tall, Stuart S., The old cedar tree on Mabey Lane, The Old Tree Fort, The Summer of 1965, To thine own self be true., Tree Fort, Wisdom | 2 Comments

Hickam Air Field: Where Dad Became A Man

The devastating destruction of Hickam Air Field, bordering on Pearl Harbor, was beyond human comprehension on that fateful day of December seventh of 1941.

Hickam Air Field: Where Dad Became A Man

By Richard Mabey Jr.

My dad signed up for the Army Air Corps during World War II. He was assigned to the Seventh Army Air Corps and sent to Hickam Air Field in Hawaii. Hickam is the air field that is right next to Pearl Harbor. Hickam borders Pearl Harbor.

At the age of 18, my dad was sent to Hickam Air Field to clean up the horrible effect of that inhumane air attack.

At the age of 18, my dad saw the devastating effect of man’s inhumanity to man, first hand. I cannot imagine how terrible that was for my dad. Dad grew up in the home that his father had built at the end of Mabey Lane, in the sleepy little town of Lincoln Park, New Jersey. The home that Dad grew up in, was surrounded by forest on all three sides. To the south lied a big open field. It was the very field where Dad’s father’s brother, Earl, was going to build a home upon when he returned from the First World War. Great Uncle Earl was killed in France, in battle. The big field was over an acre in size and was named, Earl’s Meadow.

Dad in his Army Air Corps uniform.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to be 18 years old and to see this amount of devastation and destruction. I just cannot imagine it. Dad became a man in the Seventh Army Air Corps. At 18, he became a vital part of American history. Dad played a role in cleaning up Hickam Air Field.

Seeing the destruction and devastation of Hickam Air Field had to be terribly traumatic for my Dad.

Don’t ever kid yourself. Hickam Air Field was braced for another attack by the Japanese, all the time! It was no joke. Dad knew that anxiety, that fear, that uncertainty. And, Dad faced it all, head on. Dad became a man at Hickam Air Field.

My heart goes out to my dad. I don’t know if I could have withstood seeing such senseless destruction at such an early age.

When you look at the pictures that show the devastation of the attack on Pearl Harbor and Hickam Air Field, it staggers the mind. This attack was a classic example of man’s inhumanity to man. An example of how mean and cold-hearted, we as a human race can be to one another. Dad saw firsthand, at a very young age, that there is no glory in war.

Dad standing beside the propeller of a B-25 bomber plane at Hickam Air Field.

I loved my father with all of my heart. I had immense respect for Dad, beyond words. I don’t think the reading of any book, watching any film, or listening to the lectures of a Harvard professor could have shown Dad the horrors of war, more so than being a soldier of the Seventh Army Air Corps at Hickam Air Field during the Second World War.

A cherished photo of my dad at 12 years old.

I look at the picture of my dad as a boy. The freckled face, the blue eyes, the wide-eyed expression of hope and idealism, the wonderful face of an innocent boy. When I see that photo of Dad, I want to cry. Dad lost his boyhood idealism at Hickam Air Field.

At 17, Dad signed up for the Army Air Corps. His brother Edward, who was in the US Navy, was lost at sea. Uncle Ed’s ship had been sunk by a German battleship, off the coast of England. By the grace of the good Lord, Uncle Ed was found by a British ship bobbing up and down, near the English coast. Uncle Ed was just hanging onto life. It wasn’t until after Dad signed up for the Army Air Corps, that Dad learned that his brother Edward was alive and well.

My dad is my hero. Dad showed incredible bravery at a very young age. Now, at 63, I’ve come to grow in my understanding of the incredible sacrifice Dad made for his country. Dad lived his entire life, with a burning patriotism in his heart. Dad taught the value of American citizenship to each and every one of his scouts, in his role as Scoutmaster. Dad served as Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 170 for well over 25 years.

Forever be honored, our dear and wonderful veterans.

Veterans made huge sacrifices in life. Sacrifices that most of us cannot even imagine. If you know a veteran, please thank him or her for their service to their country. It may have been a long time since anyone last thanked them for their service.

Posted in 1942, Accomplishment, Be Strong!, Beavertown, Believe in yourself!, Boyhood Days, Dad, Days of Being a Young Man, Destiny, Determination, Divine Protection, Dreams, Earl Mabey, Earl's Meadow, Encouragement, Faith, Finding Your Purpose in Life, From boyhood to manhood, Heroism, Hickam Air Field, I Remember Dad, Kindness, Leadership, Life's Dreams, Lincoln Park, Love of Family, Mabey History, Mabey Homestead, Memory, Never give up!, New Jersey, Nostalgia, Old Lincoln Park, Pear Harbor, Sacrifice, Second World War, The Unexplained, Troop 170, Wisdom | 2 Comments

Failure Is Not An Option

The little courtyard, just outside my front porch, is plain and simple. In its simplicity lies the statement of the value of finding truth in simplicity.

Failure Is Not An Option

By Richard Mabey Jr.

My life, here in Central Florida, is quiet these days. I write three or four hours a day. Sometimes more. Mostly I work on my book, “I Remember Dad.” I do rewrites. I take chapters out. I reconstruct chapters. I do a lot of new writing for my book.

Mostly all of the writing that I do now for my book, is done while sitting on my front porch. It is a screened-in porch. There are palm trees, up and down the street, standing proudly on neighbors’ yards. The palm branches sway in the breeze as I write, write, and write some more.

This is the very rocking chair, on my porch, where I sit for hours writing and writing and writing new chapters of my book, “I Remember Dad.”

Writing is hard work. It’s painfully hard work. I sit on this great old rocking chair and pour my heart out, of my remembrances of my dear old Dad, onto blue-lined white notebook paper. There is a little electric grill beside my rocking chair. Sometimes, I’ll cook grilled cheese sandwiches or hamburgers or hot dogs for lunch or supper, while I’m writing. I’m 63 now, time is precious. So, I write even while cooking lunch or supper. Life is short.

Figaro in her clubhouse. It sets right next to my old rocking chair on the porch.

Figaro loves to be with me when I write. Her clubhouse sets right next to my old rocking chair. Figaro is so smart. I’ll be writing and she will want me to pick her up and pet her. I try to ignore her and keep writing, but Figaro won’t give up. So, then Figaro will come over by my feet and butt her head against my legs and look up to me and meow. I just can’t refuse her. So, I put my pad and pen down and pick her up and pet her. Figaro then purrs, as if to say, “I got my way!”

Figaro atop her clubhouse. She thinks she is a watchdog.

A lot of times, Figaro will jump on top of her little clubhouse and play watchdog, while I write. It is the cutest thing in the world. I think she learned the fine art of being a watchdog, from our dear, sweet Sheltie, Foxy. Foxy passed away, a little over two years ago. I still miss her dearly. I know that Figaro does too.

If someone walks by the house, Figaro will jump off the roof of her clubhouse and run over to the screen door. She then fixates her eyes on the passerby. Sometimes she lets out a little hiss. Especially if the person walking by, is walking a dog. And, if the person walking their dog, lets the dog do its business on our lawn, Figaro will begin hissing even louder. Figaro is quite a smart cat.

My birdbath is a favorite resting place for the birds in my neighborhood.

To the right hand side of the front porch, is a simple bird bath. Often times birds will land on the edge of the birdbath and get a fresh drink of water. Sometimes, they will be so bold as to jump in the water and flutter their wings all around. When this happens, Figaro really starts hissing. I know that Figaro would love to catch one of those birds. I think that birds know that there is a screen between them and Figaro. Because, sometimes they just keep splashing around in the water, in spite of Figaro’s protests.

Dad standing beside the wing of a B-25 Bomber Plane at Hickam Field, during World War II.

Sometimes, my heart fills with self doubts. I question my talent as a writer. I wonder if my dream to see “I Remember Dad” published is just a pipe dream. Then, as I am sitting on that old rocking chair, I take a look at that great old picture of my Dad standing beside the propeller of a B-25 Bomber Plane, in his Army Air Corps uniform. Determination then burns brightly in my heart. And I remind myself of this simple statement, “failure is not an option!”

Posted in 2017, Be Strong!, Believe in yourself!, Central Florida, Creative Writing, Dad, Destiny, Determination, Dreams, Encouragement, Faith, Figaro, Finding Your Purpose in Life, Florida, Gated Community, Hickam Air Field, I Remember Dad, Journey to Truth, Life's Dreams, Modern Life, Never give up!, Richard's Rocking Chair, Sacrifice, Second World War, Spiritual Lesson, The Birdbath, The Front Porch, Wisdom | 4 Comments

Remembering Gidget’s Love for Snow

Gidget walking in the snow, along the woods edge of Earl’s Meadow.

Remembering Gidget’s Love for Snow

By Richard Mabey Jr.

Gidget was my Shetland Sheepdog from 1983 till 1996. She was a beautiful Sheltie. She was very loyal, very smart, and she simply loved the snow! It was uncanny. Gidget knew when it was snowing outside. It was as if she had a sixth sense about snow. And, she truly loved the snow.

Behind our backyard in Lincoln Park, was a big open field. It was a little more than an acre in size. Gidget loved to walk around in snow in the big open field. Then at times, she loved to walk the trail on the eastern side of Earl’s Meadow. Gidget just simply loved the snow.

Gidget resting in the snow, along the woods edge of Earl’s Meadow.

Gidget was such a tough-minded dog. The wind would howl. The snow would dance along the surface of the open field. The snow would fly into Gidget’s face. But it never seemed to bother her. She would just keep walking around the open field. I remember that she would walk around the open field for about 15 minutes or so. Then she would look at the path at the forest edge. Gidget would look up to me as if to say, “let’s take a walk in the woods!” When Gidget gave you that look, you just could not refuse her.

Gidget had such a spring in her step. Sometimes I would let go of her lead and let her walk along the wooded trail without having me hanging onto her lead. She loved that. She loved that sense of freedom. I would unhook her lead from her collar and she would give out a sweet little yip, as if to stay “thank you.” Gidget was such a funny dog. I loved her.

From time to time, I’ll dream that once again Gidget and I are walking in the snow, along that wooded trail. The dream will be so real. I’ll awaken and I can feel the presence of Gidget at the foot of my bed. All I am saying is that it is eerie, how real it all is. That’s all I’m saying.

Gidget went to Rainbow Bridge in 1996. I still think of her often. She was such a wonderful dog. She was so fun loving. I can still see her kicking the snow in the air with such a joyful air about her. Simply put, Gidget was one in a million. I miss her very much.

Right now, I don’t have a dog. I have two wonderful cats. A tuxedo cat named Figaro. And, a calico named Lady Bug. They are two sweet, kind cats. Even in light of what great pets they are, I still miss having a dog. I’m just hoping that Figaro and Lady Bug don’t read this blog!

Posted in 1983, Acts of Kindness, Believe in yourself!, Compassion, Destiny, Determination, Divine Protection, Dreams, Earl's Meadow, Encouragement, Faith, Finding Your Purpose in Life, Gidget, Giving, Kindness, Life's Dreams, Lincoln Park, Mabey Homestead, Memory, New Jersey, NJ, Nostalgia, Old Beavertown, Small Town America, Snow, Stand Tall, The Unexplained, Winter, Wisdom | 2 Comments

Remembering Little One’s Love for the Snow

When it snowed out, Little One would look outside from the kitchen window. She would look up at me with the saddest eyes, as if to say, “I wanna go out and play in the snow!”

Remembering Little One’s Love for the Snow

By Richard Mabey Jr.

Little One was the cutest little gray striped cat that you ever saw. She had a mind of her own. She had this quality of steadfast determination. In other words, she got her way! Little One was my cat from 1977 till 1989. She was a good cat. She was all so very loyal. She was an incredible hunter. She was an indoor cat, who we would let outside during the day. Little One loved the snow. I mean to say, she really loved the snow!

We used to have this little cabinet by the back kitchen window. Little One could easily jump up on it and look outside. Whenever Little One saw it snowing, she would sit on that little cabinet, look out the window and meow and meow and meow to go outside. And, when you came over by Little One, she would look up to you with her sad eyes and softly meow. It was as if she was saying, “I wanna go outside and play in the snow! Please!”

Little One just loved playing out in the snow. It was her favorite time of year.

You just could not turn Little One down, when she looked at you with those sad eyes. So, I would open the kitchen door and Little One would hop off of the little cabinet and head out to the enclosed porch. Then I would open the side door to the great snow-covered outdoors. Little One would run from the kitchen door to the side door and run outside and climb down the side steps. Then she would turn around and look at me for a moment, as if to say thank you. Then she would jump and play in the snow. She was such a funny cat! I loved her very much.

I regret that I didn’t take more pictures of Little One playing in the snow. I would make a little snowball and throw it in the air. Little One would try to catch it. I would pack the snow lightly, so that it would not be too solid when she would jump up and try to catch the snowball. She was such an athletic little cat.

Back then you only got 24 pictures on a roll of a film. Then you had to go to the drug store or the grocery store and put them in an envelope and wait for a couple of days for the film to get developed. It was kind of a costly process. So, I tended to be conservative with taking pictures with my camera. Oh, to turn back the calendar for even just one hour. To once again see Little One play in the snow just one more time. Oh, if it were only possible.

Please do cherish the simple moments in time. Enjoy them immensely. Especially if you’re young. Because one day you wake up and you’re old and gray and in a gated community in Central Florida, longing to be young again. Longing to see your dear, sweet pet kitten jump and play in the snow, just one more time.

Posted in 1977, Advice to the younger set, Be Strong!, Compassion, Days of Being a Young Man, Destiny, Divine Protection, Encouragement, Faith, Finding Your Purpose in Life, Friendship, Giving, Homecoming, Humility, Kindness, Life's Dreams, Lincoln Park, Little One, Love of Family, Love one another, Mabey Homestead, Memory, New Jersey, NJ, Nostalgia, Old Beavertown, Old Lincoln Park, Small Town America, Snow, Spiritual Lesson, Wisdom, Wisdom of Animals | 3 Comments