California, of The Not United States

I was Assistant Referee for an AYSO Soccer match yesterday. The team on my side of the pitch was “Watts United” and they were playing against the “West Adams Wolfpack.” Oh my!

Those area names will mean something to Los Angelenos. Perhaps, for outsiders, only “Watts Towers” and “Watts Riots.”

As I ran up and down the field, I listened to the coaches yelling out to their players. I got “frente,” “controla” and a few other words. I didn’t think much about it until afterwards. It was obviously all positive, and here in the AYSO that is all we ask.

But think about it. In Los Angeles, a team full of 13 year old girls were being coached in Spanish, and…nobody noticed. What a wonderful thing to be so normal and everyday.

North Torrance G U-11

Is it the Spirit of AYSO? The tolerant attitude of Soccer? Is it Southern California and the reality of diversity? I think it’s all of those things that suddenly impressed me. I live in one of the most tolerant areas of a (seemingly) intolerant Country. I love a game that has only entered the American consciousness by forcing suburban mothers to drive their kids to it every week. The kids…they live in diversity and don’t know anything else.

See those kids above from North Torrance? They (hopefully) don’t know too much about hate and racism. It’s sad that they will have to learn some day while growing up in this America.

For my part, I hope that a few hours on a soccer field, in English or Spanish, will give them some joy and an attitude of inclusiveness they can carry on into their adult lives.


From Ireland to An Unmarked Grave

In Norwood, Massachusetts, in Highland Cemetery, there are two unmarked graves.  The office can give you a map and show you where they are. They hold John and Mary Caulfield who passed away quite young and left three children in the 1920s.

Sounds a bit incomplete, doesn’t it. John Caulfield arrived in the United States on November 1, 1910 from Londonderry on the Furnessia. He gave his previous residence as Fivemiletown, County Tyrone, Ireland. His occupation was Millwright. Perhaps he would be called a Machinist today.

He went directly to Norwood from Ellis Island. He presumably had a friend or a job there. Many arrivals on the same boat were from County Tyrone. At any rate, more sleuthing needed. My father and uncles claimed to have records from Norwood, but I have never seen them.

But, of course, the unmarked grave! That’s the point, isn’t it. How did he get there.

In the 1920s, John Caulfield met and married one Mary Ellis. This did not go over well with Mary’s family. They were what was called, at that time, an “English” Family and Mary was an “English” girl. That sounds quaint, but it masks a level of bigotry that we today can only believe of the rural south and New York slums.

Bad enough that Mary wanted to marry an immigrant, but worse: an Irishman. She was cut off from the family and went to live in one small upstairs room on Walpole St. in Norwood.

John and Mary had three children: John, George and William. The names are very Caulfield and very Tyrone. The early Earls  of Tyrone were the likes of William and James Caulfield. Of course, John was not related to those Caulfields.

…and then they died. In their 40s and no record of how they went. Three children went out for adoption. The Ellis family deigned to have them buried in their plot at Highland Cemetery. No marker, to this day.

So…on this St. Patrick’s Day of 2017, I’m thinking a bit about my family history. There’s a gap there that needs to be filled. Everything picks up again when my father joins the Navy towards the end of WWII. He had been living with the Murphys of Boston (I know) who had adopted him to make nine boys in the family.

I have been back to Ireland, stayed in the Caulfield Bed & Breakfast, walked up and down the street in Fivemiletown and visited Castlecaulfield. I have been to Norwood and seen the plot. Is that enough? Should I contact Norwood city hall or to fill in some of the gaps?

I haven’t yet, so probably never will. Enough to know that my Grandfather came over on a boat; worked, married and died in obscurity; left three sons, including my father. Thanks for that, John and Mary Caulfield.


No More Politicians Running Political Parties!

Nothing but cheap snark! Why don’t you bring something substantive to the conversation?

A friend of a friend on Facebook has posted to say that he is leaving the Democratic Party “at long last” because of the narrow victory of Sec. Thomas Perez over Rep. Kieth Ellison for Chair of the Democratic National Committee.

That’s all it took. Really. A proven administrator was elected to an important administrative position and you are out the door.

Yes, I responded with cheap snark. There is no more arguing with these people. But let me try one more time.

Hillary Clinton won a democratic primary election over Bernie Sanders. Many of us supported Senator Sanders as long as we could. When the outcome was obvious, we swung our support to Secretary Clinton. We were Democrats. We supported our Party and realized that any other reaction played into the hand of the Republicans, or worse still, the Trumpists.

A few “Democrats” ran on with conspiracy theories based on hacked emails. They wanted to believe that Bernie was still the one, that he would somehow come back to life if they wished hard enough. They drove Debbie Wasserman-Schultz out of the DNC, and…they turned their backs on the Democratic Party.

We told them simply: “Do you want a President Trump, because that’s how you get a President Trump.” They didn’t listen and the rest is history. History, however, has a way of repeating itself for those who do not take its lessons.

Now some of these same folks seem to believe something that goes like this: “Hillary lost so now Bernie is the Head of Everything!” “Now the Party needs to ignore the 65,844,610 people who voted for Hillary and pay attention to us!”

OK. Kieth Ellison is a “Progressive,” if you will. He had the support of Senator Sanders. He had a lot going for him and still does, but he does have some major issues regarding this position. It is an administrative position and not a political one. The DNC must support all Democrats running for office while searching for the next crop. Nobody uses this position to springboard to the next thing.

Here’s the bigger point though. Bernie Sanders is not the head of the Democratic Party. Neither is Hillary Clinton. The current leader of the Democratic Party is our last elected President, Barack Obama. It was Obama who saw the flaws in Rep. Ellison’s candidacy and asked Sec. Perez to step up.

Well, that’s enough for now. Here’s some history. I am a Democrat. I was a Democrat in 1968 and supported the actions of protesters at the Democratic National Convention. That got us a split Party and Richard Nixon.

Think we have anything to learn from history?