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Archive for March, 2010

Arthur Woodruff was, by all accounts, an austere man. He and Nana lived in the family homestead right next door to the house where the four of us boys grew up, and because Dad married at age 37, the paternal grandparents were already at an advanced age by the time we showed up.

In fact, one of my brothers has an old painting of Grandpa hanging in his Connecticut home, looking down from his frame with a joy-suppressing expression on his weathered face, and we’d always joke about the somber stare of Arthur, ever-present and vigilant just in case someone, somewhere, was having fun.

My middle name, in fact, is Arthur, which makes one tidbit of family lore all the more memorable – Grandpa once called me “Stuart” instead of “Steven,” a transgression for which there has been absolution but no burial in the abyss of forgetfulness, many decades hence. I will take the high road and blame it on advancing age, especially now when the affliction of diminishing bandwidth has settled into my memory circuits.

But I recently ran into an older couple with a much more poignant memory, and lest my (middle) namesake’s life record be forever painted in dark shades of faded grey, I want to share a story about two bucks. And a kiss.

This story came my way at the recent funeral of my Uncle Franklin, the last surviving of Arthur’s three boys (who was predeceased by oldest brother Harvey, and by my Dad, Willis). While seated in a restaurant after the burial, a long-married couple in their 70’s, town fixtures (I went to high school with one of their sons), joined us, and added this bright brushstroke of color to the fading portrait.

Arthur Woodruff, oft-remembered for riding his bicycle up and down Worthington Ridge to work, was best known as the town clerk of Berlin, CT in his day. As such, those couples who were to be married in town came to him for the official marriage license. The charge, in those long-ago days, was two dollars, a pittance now of course, but a more significant sum for a young pair of lovebirds in the 1950’s.

And Grandpa had a tradition – after the license was signed and paid for, he’d give the two bucks back to the groom, and plant a congratulatory kiss on the bride.

Reminiscing at the table about Franklin, and about the patriarch preceding him who had paved the way for this couple to get married, the wife, by now a grandmother to her own tribe, proudly stated that she still had that two dollars squirreled away. She had kept it all these years, in remembrance of that joyous occasion. And with a fond memory of Arthur.

I kinda wish I could archive those 2 bucks somewhere as an enduring legacy, but far more important, I can archive the story, which is far more valuable to me than two hundred dollars.

In my little-boy memories, Grandpa is a distant figure, a visage and a figurehead, with little warmth attached. But for couples getting ready to marry in Berlin, Arthur’s heart made its way to the surface – and he was remembered for two bucks and a kiss.

Pretty cool, Grandpa. Now I can recall my middle name as I interact with others and be reminded to try to leave a warm memory behind.

Oh, and Grandpa? Speaking of reminders – it’s Steven (not Stuart). Steven Arthur. For the record…

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Twitter: @swoodruff

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Time Waits for No-one

She’s in her 50’s, maybe early 60’s.  She and her husband adopted two children. She’s a grandmother of three.

And she’s not likely to make it through the night. A mysterious illness has eluded the efforts of many doctors. Her extended family – her church family – has been praying, providing care, hoping…but knowing that the passage from life to death, from death to life, does not always have a guaranteed timetable.

She’s in their late 20’s. Just got to the hospital late today in labor, with little one #3 hastening forth. From a blank slate 9+ months ago to a real, living, unique little person, perhaps before the night is over.

It’s time. The finish line of the gestation/creation, and the starting line of new life. The finish line of years of faithful service, and the passing from this life through the curtain of death, into everlasting life.

As the old Ambrosia song from the 70’s, Time Waits for No-one, puts it: “There’s time to conceive in and time to expire, but the time ‘twixt the two tells the tale that transpires.” If you’re reading this, you, like me, are in the time ‘twixt the two.

What’s the tale you want told? Are you living that tale?

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Connect with Steve Woodruff

Twitter: @swoodruff

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Heading Home….

NOTE: Listing price just reduced!

It feels really weird to have that sign out front.

Yes, after 25 years in New Jersey (we’d only intended to stay for four!), we’re looking to return to our homeland. We’re New England people. Our families are (mostly) in Connecticut.

We love our rock-solid colonial here in Boonton. Countless hours of loving labor went into turning this unique property into a little landscaped oasis in New Jersey. So many have come and spoken of their “house envy”…now we get to pass this gem on to its next owner.

Starting my own company almost 4 years ago, one goal was to have a fully “portable” business that would allow us to live anywhere and still service my clients everywhere. That goal, through hard work and network-building and great technology tools, has been accomplished.

The Lord willing, we hope to transition to southeastern Connecticut in late spring. So – are you looking for a great house in easy commuting distance to NYC (or know someone else who is)? Do you love stone walls and gardens and privacy, yet still with easy access to major highways and the amenities of civilization? Look no further.

We actually lived down the block before buying this place, and so we know how well-loved this house has been by its previous owners. A number of those reading this have had meetings, meals, and get-togethers here – so you know.

Here’s a set of pictures of the house and property (including how the flowers look in season), and here is the full Realtor listing on-line.* There are a lot of nice houses in Boonton. But I doubt there’s a home any more sweet than this one…!

*Note: The Bing map on-line at the Realtor.com site is not precise – the marker is a few houses short. Go to the very end of the block, and we’re the red colonial. The quietness of being on a dead-end is another plus!

Open House: Saturday, Mat 15th, 1-4 pm

Oh – and back in the 1930’s, this place won several state Yard and Garden awards. The plaques are on the living room wall and come with the house!


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Star Trek. Funerals. Kids. Social Networks. What does all THAT have in common?

They’ve all been on my mind, as I mull over the next generation.

Huh? OK, indulge me a little rambling…

I always loved the original Star Trek TV series (and some of the follow-on full-length films – The Wrath of Khan was the best of them IMO). In fact, I kind of resented the efforts made to create follow-up TV series, and didn’t watch them for the longest time – until I started getting hooked on Star Trek, The Next Generation. Great characters, great sci-fi plots, forward-thinking tech, family-friendly, fun. And the more recently released Star Trek motion picture (the prequel) is delightful.

It’s hard to let go of something “first-generation” that you grew up with and loved. But sometimes, the next generation can be a true advance. Keep an open mind….

An aged uncle passed away last week, and I attended his funeral. He was the last of that generation in the family tree – my brothers and I are next. For me, that’s not a reason to tremble or be depressed, but to push forward with even greater vigor. To advance. They carried the torch for their mile. Let’s see if I can move it forward farther & faster, and advance a whole bunch of others in the process. What else matters…?

I can only go to so many places where no man has gone before. The next generation of explorers, my boys, have to take up the mantle and lead. And when they do…it’s amazing. Parenting is so much heads-down work, but then you glance up and see brightness in the future…

In the social networking world, I have discovered many peers, who are a true delight. Yet just as delightful are the younger folks, the next generation, who are catching a vision for new ways to conduct business, and who will accomplish much greater things than us digital immigrants who are helping break up the new on-line ground. Mentoring is a two-way street…

I liked the bridge of the original Enterprise. I liked Kirk and Spock and Bones and all the others. But you know, this next generation is pretty darned wonderful also. I aspire not to be stuck in the past, or even in the present. Who wants to join me in the Holodeck??

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Connect with Steve Woodruff

Twitter: @swoodruff

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