First things first.
Come Friday, there’s a community celebration for Jay McGinnis — everyone knows Jay — the retiring executive director of the Sheridan County YMCA.
He’s retiring after 40 years. Imagine the number of lives — thousands — he’s influenced in a positive way as a mentor, manager, friend, sponsor, employer, community member.
It’ll be from 5:15 to 7 p.m. Aug. 11 at the new soccer fields. There’s barbecue and assorted activities.
Susan and I enjoyed a couple of weeks away visiting friends and family in Maine and scratched off a “bucket list” item for myself, the annual Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, Rhode Island, the Super Bowl for jazz hounds. Still taking notes, though technically a vacation:
• My older brother Paul, a CPA and leading tax law consultant, has a home with spouse Linda at Diamond Cove, on Great Diamond Island, off the coast from Portland, in Casco Bay. Islanders depends on ferries for commerce and ride around in golf carts and bicycles. Paul lives in Oklahoma City and it’s a break from the fearsome Sooner State summer heat. He also shows tourists around the island, which is the former home of Fort McKinley. It was in operation from 1873 to 1947 as a coastal defense fort of the Army with more than 1,500 men and women stationed there from time to time. After WWII broke out, the fort’s mission was charged with the manufacture of coastal mines. (The architecture and design are similar to Fort Mackenzie in Sheridan where the VA is located.) Today, the entire island is privately owned.
• One day we made a grocery run via ferry into Portland. Susan and I had one of those moments when you’re in a checkout line and you’ve “got everything” but suddenly remember there’s one item missing and you don’t want to lose your spot. So off I run to gather mushrooms. Grocery stores are hiring older workers these days and their hearing is as bad as mine. “Where are the mushrooms?” I inquired, hurriedly. The clerk, about my age, replied: “Over in the corner, on the other side of the store.” I gave him an inquisitive look. “I thought you said ‘restrooms,’” he said, noting the confusion, “because of the look on your face.” We laughed. They were sautéed in butter that evening.
• Everything in the New England newspaper media these days is Patriots this, and Patriots that. (And the Sahx were winning six in a row at Fenway while we there.) The Patriots opened camp and some 20,000 fans serenaded Tom Brady on his 40th birthday. His teammates presented him with a cake that had icing which read: Old. On opening day of practice, Brady was 10-for-12 passing.
• We flew Southwest Airlines out of Denver into Portland. Little doubt it’s the friendliest bunch in the sky. One flyer noted that United Airlines, in contrast, has had much-documented trouble with “customer service” this year, which prompted some tongue-in-cheek sloganeering: “United Airlines: If we can’t beat our competitors, we’ll beat our customers.” And, “United Airlines: Putting the hospital in hospitality.”
• The story that dominated the business pages was how Dunkin’ Donuts was going to drop the second half of its name. Few were happy about it. Dunkin’ Donuts is a Quincy, Massachusetts, company, founded in 1950, and wants to go head-to-head with Starbucks and align itself with a healthier menu. (There are 10,858 DD stores worldwide, compared to 17,009 Starbucks.)