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Lewis’ appearance at Elms College graduation was moving

Date: 5/28/2015

There have been a very few times in which a grizzled old reporter such as myself has truly seen  a bit of history and covering the Elms College graduation afforded me that opportunity.

Largely what I cover is what I call “current affairs.” History is something else. I’ve been fortunate in my other life as a film historian to have those other kind of moments when I’ve interviewed someone who has had a long career in the business.

I will be honest here. I don’t care for covering graduations. These are largely events for one audience: the graduates and their families and I think many of them have minimal news interest for a larger audience.

The reason news outlets go to graduations is for the speakers or if there is a really interesting story involving a graduate. In this case, hearing Congressman John Lewis was someone who appealed to me and I thought he would be of interest to our readers.

Lewis is a historical figure. It was through his efforts and sacrifice the civil rights movement was advanced with the march that started from Selma, AL, 50 years ago.

And his speaking at the Elms College graduation was a chance for him to say thank you to the Sisters of Saint Joseph (SSJ) – in this case nuns from Rochester, N.Y., – who nursed him back to health after the Alabama State Police had beaten him.

The moment he hugged and thanked Sr. Maxyne Schneider, president of the SSJ of Springfield, was moving and meaningful.

I thank the folks behind the scene who arranged the congressman’s appearance. They gave everyone who attended a rare opportunity.

Local event keeps donations here

I was in a quandary this past weekend. I wanted to do something to honor my late father on Memorial Day, but the idea of spending a few dollars on flowers that would soon wilt and fade just didn’t appeal to me. Luckily enough, there is a local event that raises money to help veterans and I wrote a check out to it.

Local motorcycle riders have gathered for several years to ride in honor of vets and raise money for the Holyoke Soldiers Home in an event called “Victory 4 Vets.” The past rides have generated more than $50,000 with all of the proceeds being donated to the home.

The funds are used to pay for activities helping the vets such as the Honor Flight program.

On May 30, riders will pay $30 to participate, which includes a cookout with live music at the Moose Family Center in Chicopee. About 1,500 riders are expected to turn up for the 50-mile run.

 I don’t ride a bike, but the cause is a great one and my wife and I were happy to donate. You can learn more, and donate as well, by going to

The wasteland

I was on vacation last week working around the house and on a project that I hope to announce soon and my hope for humanity was shaken once more.

When I ate lunch I would turn on the TV and share a sandwich with Lucky the Wonder Bichon. My conclusion: if we are judged by what grinds on through daytime television we are doomed.

How many “judge” shows are there?  Dozens? All with the same terrible format? Jerry Springer is still doing his show? He looks really bored. Maury does nothing but lie detector and paternity tests?

Is this remotely entertaining? Who watches this stuff? Who decides to put it on?

In 1961, Federal Communications Commission Chair Newton Minnow told the National Association of Broadcasters, “When television is good, nothing – not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers –  nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there for a day without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.”

Little has changed.

Thankfully there are over-the-air stations that are running vintage programs such as the original “Lone Ranger.” I’ll gladly take the adventures of the masked man and his faithful Indian companion any day of the week.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.