Role Model


May 30, 2022- It’s been little over eight years since Pops left us. My father-in-law, Norman D. Fellman, regarded his two sons-in-law as the boys he never had. I got a ton of advice, the greater part of it useful, and I can credit that advice for much of how our son has grown into manhood.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, Norm was taken prisoner by the German Army, in December, 1944, in the southern sector of the Battle of the Bulge. He was held, until just before V-E Day, at Berga, a substation of Bergen-Belsen Prisoner-of-War and Concentration Camp, just southeast of Gera, Thuringia. He, and a few dozen other “undesirables” (Jews, Romani and Mexican-Americans) were assigned onerous tasks, day in and day out. His crew went to a salt mine. Norm and one of the Mexican-Americans would prank the Germans, constantly, putting glue in the salt and adding gravel underneath a three or four inch coating of salt. He never said where he got the glue; in fact, he rarely talked about his experience, until President Clinton lifted a lingering gag order that had stifled World War II veterans, since President Truman’s tenure.

There were many aspects of his personality and ways of doing things, from which I have drawn wisdom. He made me realize that I was not a substandard person, and that my rights were the same as anyone else’s, but that I had to stand up and expect them. It is because of Pops that I became quite forceful in standing up for Aram, and for summoning every bit of inner strength, to care for his daughter, my wife, in her years of decline. He knew, when I was being attacked by state bureaucrats, who told him that I was lax in her care, that this was bunk. (The upshot was that they wanted her to be placed in a state home, thus giving them access to her disability payments. This, of course, did not happen-and she lived out the rest of her days in an environment of HER choosing.)

Pops-and Mother- had the bounty of being well-tended by their youngest daughter, still one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met, until their respective deaths in May, 2014 and October, 2018. That is the true beauty of a force of example: It redounds to the benefit of the role model, in one’s final days.

The Process of the Procession


December 23, 2020-

Most of us are aware, by now, of the initial celestial and spiritual steps towards the establishment of a truly peaceful world, one based on universally-recognized principles, which may be equitably applied across a plethora of situations.

The process of that world’s unfoldment, however, will be both steady-and very slow. In a few days’ time, humanity will, to varying degrees, honour the Birth of Jesus the Christ-on the date arbitrarily chosen, ages ago, for its celebration. We will also be remembering the period of time when Nazi Germany, acting the part of wounded bear, struck back at its democratically-ruled foes, with deadly force.

The interplay of Light and Darkness, coming at one of the two periods of great discrepancy between North and South, in terms of daylight, is a unique reminder of the nature of both solar light and human decency. The Sun cannot light an entire planet all at once. Nearly eight billion people cannot move together in perfect harmony, all at once.

There needs to be a means for those whose portion of the globe is experiencing night, to remain safe and warm. There needs to be a mechanism for enlightening those whose recognition of change is either slower than others’, or both listening to and encouraging those whose mindset is rooted in the philosophies and dictates of the past.

There are people of goodwill, who simply cannot see the necessity for change in the way that mankind approaches the formidable tasks which lie ahead. There are others, similarly benevolent, who cannot see the value of adhering to ANY of the practices that are honoured by time. Only education, in a sincere and equitably applied system, can bridge the gap between these two camps. Only education can stem the human tendency to believe whatever notions and pronouncements come forth and verify even the most inane and fear-based of one’s own beliefs.

The procession will go on, but it may, of necessity, be a slow one.

A Cup O’ Kindness


August 27, 2016, Prescott- Last Sunday, I spent some time with a World War II veteran, retired from the U.S.Army, as a colonel, who commanded a battalion on Utah Beach, during the D-Day invasion, in 1944.  He was fading, when I saw him, so I knew it was a matter of time, before his departure from our midst.

That passing came this evening, and John A. Mortimer, “only 96”, found himself looking down upon many friends who will miss his presence.  His widow, a native of Britain, called him her “Laddie”.  Certainly, during his years of service to his country, including time in the Battle of the Bulge, when he pushed his unit into Germany, with General Patton’s blessing, he moved with the swagger of youth- and made it count for something.

John was still on active duty during the Korean War, but stayed stateside, to monitor the testing of atomic weapons.  It was a decent turn of events, that he did not suffer any ill effects from those unfortunate days.

He served, at our American Legion Post, as a member of the Honour Guard, and was its flag presenter at funerals and memorial services, for several years.  John was also the first person one saw, on Sunday mornings, when breakfast was being served, as he was the cashier.  All that ended, about 1 1/2 years ago, when he became confined to the VA Hospital here in town, and to a wheelchair.

His wit, and keenness for Turner Classic Movies, remained, though, until a couple of weeks ago, when the Good Lord let him know that it was time to start packing up for the journey homeward.  That journey became complete, around 9:30 this evening.

We, his comrades at the Post, will honour John on Labour Day- looking back on his extraordinary life, and taking a cup o’kindness, for his service, and all those long ago days.



 November 27,2014, San Diego- Buddha essentially instructed His followers to “want what you have”. Thankfulness for what already is, I have found, is also a springboard to the greater.  I can look back on 2014, and look around at what is right in front of me, in recounting my blessings.  As my sixty-fourth year winds to close, and I start the long countdown to Birthday 65, on Nov. 28, 2015, I give thanks for these:

A healthy, vibrant 26-year-old son, who has proven, time and again, that parenthood is one of the best investments of time, energy and resources that a person can ever make.

A body which, while looking every bit of its 64 years, nonetheless keeps up with the challenges I face-and craves more physical activity, in the form of hiking and my exercise regiment at Planet Fitness.

Having discovered  essential oils.  Not only have they helped overcome what few health challenges I have faced, over the past year, (most recently including a visit from Senor Streptococcus), but they are a vehicle for me to share holistic health practices with others, almost on a daily basis.

Having such a vibrant network of family and friends, both online and in real time.  We spent maybe two hours on the phone today, all told, and spoke with each of my siblings, my two sisters-in-law and both mothers.  I’m sure my dear soul mate and our Dads were listening in, from the other side of the fence.

Having had a wealth of enriching experiences this past year: Hiking in places like Seven Falls in Tucson; Bill Williams Mountain; Cave Creek and parts of the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail; touring Kartchner Caverns; being on Utah Beach, Normandy, on the 70th anniversary of D-Day; visiting the ruins of the church where my paternal ancestors were baptized, in Rouen, France; paying homage to St. Jeanne d’Arc, at the sites of her imprisonment and immolation; seeing several of the great sites in Paris, Mont St. Michel,  Amiens, Brussels, Brugge, Ghent, Luxembourg, Heidelberg and Frankfurt; paying respects to the heroes of the Battle of the Bulge, in Bastogne; getting the chilling reminder of my late father-in-law’s wartime suffering, while visiting the ruins of the POW camp, where he was held prisoner, in Berga, Germany; enjoying 1 1/2 days in Honolulu; sailing from that lovely city to San Diego, aboard my son’s ship and two trips to San Diego and other parts of southern California, besides.

Feeling ever more confirmed in my faith, and seeing how Baha’i helps those who place trust in God transcend the urge to conform to the prevailing sentiments of our larger society- Materialism, nationalism, racism and outmoded traditions.  The journey of the spirit is an endless one, and I feel like I’m just getting started, even after the passage of 33 years as a Baha’i.

The year ahead is looking to be equally busy and fulfilling; stay tuned.

An Eastward Homage, Day 32, Part II: The Two Faces of Berga


June 27, 2014, Gera- The wait for the train to Berga, while standing on the platform at Gera Hauptbanhof, was almost as long as the time I actually spent in the former prison camp town.  It was due at 1:15, and came at 2:15.  In the meantime, I was amused by a man chasing his 9-year-old son around the platform, as the child giggled and hid behind the concrete posts.  This became the child’s fault, when the train actually did pull in, and Pater-Meister was embarrassed that the boy was almost hit.  The boy took his tongue-lashing quietly, but I could tell he had no idea what he had done wrong.

The Jews who were taken prisoner, and given unwanted special attention by the Nazis, had no idea what they had done wrong, other than to be distantly related by blood to the Rothschilds and a handful of money lenders and grifters, who had contributed somewhat to the collapse of the European economy- a collapse which would have happened regardless of the level of mercantilism in any one country.

I digress, however. Berga, a small town southeast of Gera, was a satellite station of Buchenwald, the much larger Concentration Camp in northern Thuringia.(Photo courtesy of


Here were brought Jewish soldiers from the US, Canada and Britain, especially after the Battle of the Bulge, in late 1944, when Buchenwald itself was at saturation point. One of these was my future father-in-law, Norman Fellman, 6’3″ tall, weighing into the camp at 175 pounds.  He was part of a group assigned to work a gypsum mine.  He and his fellows walked up a trail like this, (Photo courtesy of


through a door like this, (Photo courtesy of


to a place like this (Photo courtesy of, every day, for a hundred days. When General Patton’s men found him, in April, 1945, he weighed 87 pounds.

Old gypsum mine, near Berga

They spent time, after coming back from the mine, in this “work station”. (Photo courtesy of

Old dormitory  for prisoners, Berga

The camp where they were held, from their capture in the Vosges of southern Lorraine, to the date of Gentle George’s arrival, looked something like this. (Photo courtesy of


Now, the area looks like this. (Photo courtesy of camp for Jews, Berga

I walked around this decrepit, southern edge of Berga, even walking the periphery of the abandoned V-1 Rocket Factory, now closed off by a fence, with only a small security team allowed inside. (Photos courtesy of

V1 Rocket factory, Berga

Old rocket factory, Berga

Understandably, Pop never went back to Germany, and the less said about that country in his presence, the better.  I told him, two months before he passed on in May, that I intended to go to Berga, to try and put the ghosts to rest.  Ghosts, demons, visionaries of Hell- they seem to hang over this part of the town, in a way that the giggling school children who were waiting at Berga Train Station can only dimly imagine.  The kids, of course, were waiting for their families, from the north end of town.  Few people live in the old camp zone- a farmer or two, perhaps even an aging former guard, released from prison to live out his ignominy.

Berga today remembers its victims and its enslaved “guests”, with this memorial. (


North of the train station, Berga could be Everytown, Deutschland.  There is a bright, red Rathaus. (Photo courtesy of


A small town square sits in front of the Town Hall. (Photo courtesy of

Village Square, Berga

Not far from here, I guided a mother and small child to an ice cream parlour, where I had just stopped, perhaps to comfort myself and return to the more benign reality of this “new” Berga.  There are churches nearby as well.  I can only imagine what the churches, and the schools, impart to their patrons. Below, is the legacy of Marxism for Berga.  These apartments are still highly occupied. (Photo courtesy of