I was born and grew up in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia, received my primary education at the local parochial school (St. Matt's), and secondary at St. Joe's Prep, an outstanding Jesuit-run institution. Both, for very different reasons, were major influences upon my development. Perhaps I'll write about them someday, but not yet.
Dad was a mailman so, although the five of us (Mom, Dad, my sister, brother and I) lived in a nice row house in a new neighborhood and never wanted for the necessities of life, we were always aware that financial realities put limits upon us that many of our contemporaries did not appear to experience. Whenever one or more of us would question why we could not have some pricey item that most of our friends seemed to have, our parents and our large troop of aunts and uncles all seemed to have the same mantra -- "get a college education and you'll be able to afford a [whatever]." I did eventually get that education at the University of Pennsylvania on a Navy ROTC scholarship and -- quite a few years later, and on the State Department's dime -- did graduate work in International Monetary Economics at Princeton, completed an executive course in Business Administration at Columbia, and studied the intersection between diplomacy and military affairs at the National War College. (Guess I can afford that new bike now.)
Foreign Service careers, like most, can be deeply satisfying. Or not. For the most part, mine was. And even my least satisfying posting provided me with a pretty good story. (I'll let you guess which one that was.)
Unless I broaden my reach at some point, all of the articles you will see here will be fully factual anecdotal memoirs. I don't think I have it in me to write good fiction. (If I could, I'd have more toys than just a new bike.)
Why do I write? At the beginning, this seemed a good way to let my kids -- and, when they get older, my grandkids -- know how the ol' geezer spent large chunks of his life. E-mail was my main delivery vehicle. Later, the Foreign Service Journal wrote me a few small but always welcome checks for publishing some of the stories. I also like to think that persons interested in getting some sense of what life in the Foreign Service is like will find a bit of that here.
As the previous sentence implies, most of my articles bear some fairly obvious relation to my Foreign Service career. But a number of other articles have more to do either with family or with what it was like to grow up in Northeast Philadelphia back in the prehistoric era of the thrties, forties and early fifties. In all of them, I try to keep a light, and perhaps even entertaining touch, to the extent that the material permits.