Raleigh NC


[Following is an essay written by my father, Paul Arnold Bredenberg, in 2003. A further explanation will follow. ARB]

A Yearbook Encounter

By Paul Arnold Bredenberg

It started with a newspaper clipping sent by my brother, who still lives in my old home town. The story was a tribute to Naz Servideo, an old acquaintance of mine who died recently. He was a basketball star on our great high school team of ’38-’39, the team that almost won the state championship. We lost by four points. I always felt that we would have won if Naz, our best shooter, had taken just three more shots. Do you suppose that loss is long forgotten and has entirely ceased to hurt? Think again — it’s been only sixty-four years. A fellow needs time.

PaulABredenbergAndTennisHatAbt1965_smallI was a student manager for that team, and the players treated me like one of the family. How many times had I taped Naz’s ankles before he went out on the court? 1 just had to get out my yearbook and find the team picture for that year. Maybe not one of my better ideas, but I couldn’t help it.

There they were. What athletes! Two of them, who also played football, went on after the war to play the end positions (offense and defense in those days) on the New York Giants first team. Both are also now deceased.

But what happens once your yearbook lies open? Your finger turns page after page, you see row after row of those clear young faces, most of them hauntingly familiar. Your finger stops now and then under pictures of the smart and talented and, in my case, of a few girls who caught my eye, gave me “ideas,” but seemed unreachably distant. I found, however, that they had signed their names beside their pictures, so apparently I was not hopelessly shy.

My finger paused for some time under Vito’s picture. It seemed I had always known him. His father had been my barber as far back as I could remember. The next pause was for Archie — tall, raw-boned, tough — but as gentle and kind a friend as you could ask for. The thing is, I knew that Vito and Archie never came back from the war in Europe.

The picture that held my attention for the longest time was the one of Stanley. Seeing that strong young face, with the expression that always seemed to me slightly cynical, my thoughts spun back in time more than sixty years. Stanley was the kid next door, my companion on neighborhood adventures. We walked to school together and were about as close as teenagers can get.

When the war was over and I had received my discharge from the Navy, I went home for a brief visit with my parents before going back to work on my college degree. Approaching the house, I looked down the driveway between our place and the neighbor’s; then upward against the sky I could see the line running between the second floor windows of the two houses. I smiled.

On my first trip upstairs to my room I went over to my desk beside the window. There was my little apparatus, just as I’d left it several years before. I’d put it together with scrap wood, metal and wire. Adding a store-bought lantern-type battery and a buzzer, what I had created was a kind of telegraph terminal. Stanley had put together a similar rig in his room across the driveway, and we had strung a two-way insulated wire through our room windows connecting our “terminals. ”

What we had in mind was to send messages back and forth by Morse Code. But first we had to learn the Code. Perhaps we thought it might be worth a Scout merit badge. We went to work on it and got to the point of being able to chat back and forth at about ten words per minute, maybe more.

Now, years later, 1 thought to myself, just for the heck of it, let’s try it out. Surprisingly, my buzzer worked just fine. I raised my window, pressed my key, but couldn’t tell for sure whether Stanley’s buzzer was sounding.

I found my mother down in the kitchen.

“Mom, I just tried to get a signal to Stanley. Do you know whether he’s home these days?”

Her hand flew to cover her face, as it always did when she was surprised or embarrassed. “Oh, my Lord,” she said. “I forgot to tell you …. His parents got word, oh sometime last summer, I think …. that he was missing in action. Then a few months later someone came to tell them that he … that he would not be coming back … from Europe.”

She reached out her arms to hold me, her eyes watering. “I’m so sorry … I know how you and Stanley ….” I held her close and didn’t try to stop my own tears. The wound was as dose to the heart as any that war would bring me.

Back in my room I sat at my desk a long time, looking down that telegraph line to Stanley’s window. My youthful sentiment at the time was that in the years to come there would always be a kind of connecting line between us, even though one of the terminals lay under a small white cross on a gentle green slope in the north of France.

Nearly sixty years later, that line is still there. It carries no messages in code tapped out with finger on key, but one can tell movement on the line by pressing a finger under a certain small picture in an old high- school yearbook.

[The essay quoted above was published in 2003 in the newsletter for Whitaker Glen, the retirement community where my father and mother, Paul and Gladys Bredenberg, were living at the time. During his last several years, my dad began doing some writing and published a series of essays and poems in the newsletter. I always wished he had done more writing and that he had sought broader publishing venues, but near the end of the life he seemed satisfied to reach his small audience there at Whitaker Glen. This was always my favorite of his pieces, and recently some family members said they would like to read it again. So here it is.]

ARB — 14 November 2015

 

 

On ThomasNet Green & Clean last week, I wrote about the National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat Program (see “Bunnies, Bluebirds, and Butterflies – A Wildlife Habitat in Your Backyard?“), which has registered 140,000 wildlife habitats in backyards, schools, parks, businesses, and government properties since 1973.

I learned about the program by serendipity — driving through a neighborhood here in Raleigh, I noticed the NWF sign in someone’s yard, and decided to investigate the program with the idea of writing an article about it.

Landscaper John Magee told me he thinks the program is helping to restore some of the original forest that has been lost through development:

Even as habitat becomes more and more disrupted by development, we’re creating more and more little islands of habitat. Wildlife can move and migrate from one to another of them. Areas that used to be forest are now subdivisions, but as we create more islands it makes things easier for wildlife. We can reconnect things more back the way they probably should be.

AB — 14 August 2011

Congratulations! You’ve never had an auto accident, even though you drive fast, tailgate, and weave in and out of traffic.

And you’re already 27 — way to go!

You will never have an auto accident. Until you do. Then you will.

Congratulations on your great skill and brilliance.

AB — 9 May 2011

 

The Raleigh News & Observer carried a story today about a new survey by the Wake County Environmental Services department about roadside littering in the county. (See “Wake is surveying our littering habits.”)

I confess that littering is a big pet peeve for me. It’s hard for me to conceive how anybody could think it doesn’t matter if they throw trash on the ground.

A news release from the county says the survey will study “the attitudes and perception of littering among Wake County citizens.” Survey questions focus on “awareness of litter; perceived location of, and problems associated with litter; personal experience with littering; perceptions of causes of littering and willingness to participate in voluntary litter-cleaning programs.” The results will be used in the development of an anti-litter awareness campaign. (See “Wake Conducts Roadside Litter Survey.”)

If you live in Wake County and you’re interested in taking the littering survey, follow this link.

AB — 1 September 2010

The announcement of the winner of the National Hollerin’ Contest held over the past weekend in Spivey’s Corner, North Carolina, USA, reminded me of this time-honored southern tradition. I first became aware of it when a rock festival I attended about 40 years ago included a marvelous performance by the winner of the contest, who hollered a fantastic version of “Old Time Religion.”

This year, Tony Peacock of Siler City, NC, won the contest with a rendition of Gershwin’s “Summertime,” hollered in just under four minutes. See the announcement today in the News & Observer: “N.C. hollerer wins with ‘Summertime.'”

There are some things that can happen only in North Carolina, and this is one of them. (Other examples are Benson’s Mule Days, the town of Lizard Lick, and the correct understanding of what constitutes barbecue — but we can discuss those another day.)

It’s a crime that there is no video of Peacock’s performance on YouTube, but this video from a few years ago has some nice examples of hollerin’, ending with a version of “Amazing Grace”:

In this video, the hollerer does a little lecturing about the practice:

AB — 22 June 2010

Jeff Bredenberg Nov. 2009My brother, Jeff Bredenberg, died at home in Oreland, Pa., on Tuesday night, March 2, 2010. He had been sick with brain cancer for about 2 1/2 years.

Jeff and I are both natives of Raleigh, NC. Some readers might know him as a Raleighite. Others might know him for his work in the newspaper world or book publishing. Recently he had become known for his How to Cheat … book series, which included How to Cheat at Cleaning — see How to Cheat Books.

A memorial service for Jeff will take place this Saturday, March 6, 2010, at 1 p.m., at the BuxMont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Warrington, Pa. — this link should lead to a map.

Here is the text of Jeff’s obituary — see also the versions in the Philadelphia Inquirer and in the Raleigh News & Observer for March 5:

Jeffrey Ellis Bredenberg

Nov. 26, 1953, to March 2, 2010

Jeff Bredenberg about 1970Jeffrey Ellis Bredenberg, 56, a former newspaper editor who later wrote and edited books, died Tuesday, March 2, 2010, of glioblastoma, a brain tumor, at his home in Oreland, Pa.

He completed two books after his diagnosis in September 2007.

A native of Raleigh, N.C., he got his first newspaper job at age 16 working as a copy boy and then copy editor for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. He then worked for newspapers in Fort Myers, Fla., Burlington, Vt., Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, and Wilmington, Del. He worked for the News Journal in Wilmington as an assistant managing editor from 1988 to 1994. During that time, he redesigned the newspaper and supervised various newsroom departments.

In 1994, he joined the book division of Rodale Press in Emmaus, Pa., rising to the rank of managing editor. In 1998, he became vice president for content for the Internet health portal Intelihealth.com, based in Blue Bell, Pa. Since 2002, he had worked as a freelance writer and editor of books and articles (www.jeffbredenberg.com).

During his career, he wrote, edited, or otherwise contributed to more than 25 books. His most recent releases were a how-to series, How to Cheat at Cleaning, How to Cheat at Organizing, How to Cheat at Home Repair, and How to Cheat at Gardening and Yard Work (www.howtocheatbooks.com).

He appeared frequently in print articles, online, and on television. His TV appearances included “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Rachael Ray Show,” and “The Today Show—Weekend Edition.”

Jeff graduated from Needham Broughton High School in Raleigh in 1972. His higher education was a patchwork affair, including a year at North Carolina State University and classes at Edison Community College in Fort Myers, Fla., the University of Vermont in Burlington, and Temple University.

He met his wife, Stacey Burling, at the Rocky Mountain News, where he worked as an editor and she was a reporter. They married in 1988 in Denver.

Jeffrey Ellis Bredenberg 1955He frequently participated in events at his sons’ Cub and Boy Scout troops, volunteered with the youth group at BuxMont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and rarely missed his sons’ soccer or baseball games or band concerts.

He is survived by his wife; sons Adam and Colin; his mother, Gladys Bredenberg, of Raleigh; and his brother and sister-in-law, Alfred and Virginia Bredenberg, of Raleigh. His father, Paul Bredenberg, a retired philosophy professor at North Carolina State University, died in November 2009.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, March 6, 2010, at BuxMont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 2040 Street Rd., Warrington, Pa. 18976.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the National Brain Tumor Society, East Coast Office, 124 Watertown St., Suite 2D, Watertown, MA 02472.

AB — 4 March 2010

John Morris’s article today on Goodnight, Raleigh highlighted one of my favorite places here in the beautiful city of Raleigh, NC, where I was born and grew up — see “The Splendor of Raleigh’s Little Theatre and Rose Garden.” This cultural treasure is only a short walk from NCSU and the Cameron Village shopping center. (See the Little Theatre’s web site for information about the organization and its productions.)

Morris includes some great photos of the Rose Garden and amphitheater. Most interesting to me are historical photos, such as the one linked here to the right, from the theater’s construction during the 1930s.

Thinking about the Rose Garden conjures up a wealth of memories for me. When I was a teenager during the 1960s, my church, the Raleigh Unitarian Fellowship, met at the Little Theatre for a time on Sundays. About 1969, when I was in high school, a group of us held an anti-war rally in the amphitheatre. We were most amused when a guy showed up and tried to be surreptitious while taking photos of us with a telescopic camera lens — a representative of the city the police department, as I later learned during a conversation with a police captain.

One night about 1971, some friends and I walked down at night and approached the amphitheater from the back through the rose garden. The place was crowded and lit up, and, in our altered state of mind at the time, we were amazed when a cowboy walked by us in the garden, leading a horse. My friend Ray turned to me with a twinkle in his eye and said, “Must be gettin’ close to town.”

As it turned out, this was a dress rehearsal for an outdoor performance of Oklahoma — we sat down on the concrete bleachers and enjoyed the show for awhile.

My most memorable visit to the Rose Garden, though, was an outing several of us had there during a total eclipse, which I believe was in March 1970.

Here are some photos of the Rose Garden from a recent visit by me and Virginia and our friend Ellin from Vermont.

AB — 6 January 2010