My maternal grandparents lived on Bridgewaters Drive on the south side of the Shrewsbury River. Their home faced the Oceanport Bridge with Rumson and Sea Bright far off in the distance. They loved living on the water with the sunsets off to the west over the train bridge, making for some beautiful evenings.
A low tide reached sometime overnight meant there was a good chance my grandfather, Victor Terwilliger, would call and ask if I wanted to go jacking with him. These were the most memorable and the best of all my time spent on the water as a kid.
We attached a kerosine lamp to the front of the rowboat and headed out into the black of night. Only a small area ahead of the boat had any light. We spent a couple of hours creeping through the rivers’ inlets peering under seaweed looking for some portion of a crab hiding there. The net-less end of the pole propelled us through the night sky until we filled a peach basket or two with crabs. You had to be fast, and it was more than once that one of us tumbled overboard into the river’s silty mud. We laughed and cussed because we knew it would be cold the rest of the way, and there was no going back before the tide turned.
My grandmother would track us and the other jackers in the river from her kitchen window. She would watch the lanterns glow and move through the river. Her kitchen window being a perfect vantage point to keep an eye on an old man and his grandson in the middle of the night.
As I got older, my time on the river dwindled as I did what every teen does chasing girls and finding trouble that needed some help. My grandfather died in that house on the river quietly with my grandmother by his side. She had served him some tea as he was fighting an illness. He sipped some and declared “that tastes good,” closed his eyes, and passed. He was 88
My best, chris
I want to write about what it takes to be a good man. I believe I am a good man. Sure, I have my moments and faults that are likely to annoy some of my family and friends.
I also believe people are good. They want to do the right thing, and most of the time, they do just that. I am no exception. Sometimes I fail to deliver. Other times I do things that are just plain wrong. If someone hits me, literally or figuratively, I will hit them back. I learned this as a kid. I feel the need to even the score. I am the father of three young men. I tried to give them the best of me and to hide the worst. Time will tell how I did, but I think they are good men. It is good to pass good on.
I see a world of opportunity out there in the public and private sectors. Problems are opportunities, just begging for help. I tell my young men this all the time. It is the exceptional who push through the inertia and make something happen. We live in a time of polarization, of finger-pointing and blame. Think there’s not some opportunity here? We also live in a country whose infrastructure is failing. We are pushing the limits of our electrical grid, bridges, tunnels, and roads. I smell opportunities, and it smells good.
When I was a kid, a minority of any kind was ostracized. I am not declaring victory—we have more work to do. Consider this: We have had a black president, a woman ran and almost won the last election, a man who was on the Wheaties box in 1977 has adorned the cover of Vanity Fair, as a woman. We have had an outpouring of love and support for the gay community, which endured such pain in Florida—by straight people. White people are protesting the injustices done to black men by police officers. There was no such thing as a marriage between two women or two men when I was a kid. Think we haven’t progressed?
The way forward needs good men and women, and you know what? We have them. They are the sleeping bear. A bear that is about to get poked despite centuries of advice that tells us not to: the electorate has to make a choice akin to choosing the tallest midget. We will select and start complaining about our selection this December. Despite all the good that comes for everyone from whatever holiday you are celebrating, people will complain. Then we will point fingers and blame the other side of whatever side you’re on. We will seem to be coming apart at the seams. Like Anarchy, but …
Two women will marry, a black man will risk his life to save a white man, inequalities will be exposed by people who benefit from the bias because they have moral values. A child will help an old woman push her shopping cart. Doctors and researchers will work tirelessly to find treatments and cures. The Sun will come up every day.
Hope is buried in the hearts and minds of all of us. Sometimes we get so overloaded with the rhetoric we can’t see the good men and women out there. Here’s a headline: It is most of us. Almost all of us are good men.
I am a good man, and I know plenty of other good men. There are good women too. Again, almost all of them are good. Add us up, and you have the formula for social change that will come and lead our great nation to new heights. Don’t just watch, poke the bear!
I went for a walk on the beach recently, and these were items I passed by. I wondered if I could weave them into some sort of narrative. Would it be sad, funny, or part of a story? Nope. How about a PSA about garbage on the beach? Okay, but not my wheelhouse. A joke like the one about the Jew, the Catholic, and the Buddhist, walking into a bar? I was mildly interested in exploring this one. In this environment, I was sure to offend someone, so I scratched it.
It doesn’t take too much for me to come up with something to tap into my iPad. If I have to put any effort into something, it won’t be written and, therefore, not read.
I consider my over/under to be one. If more than one person reads a post I write, I will have achieved a wild-ass goal for myself. That’s where I started this six years ago, but the number was just a little higher. The platform was LinkedIn. I gave it a try with the over/under set at 100.
My career was coming to an end. I didn’t want to become a scumbag like my coworkers after decades of being on the right side of the trade. I figured a good way to spend my time on someone else’s dime was to find a hobby. I couldn’t play golf and build a team, but I could write. So I did. My writing was mostly about business through long-form posts. I used them as a way to communicate with my employer. I worked for a trashy company named Scivantage and tried to help them. The board who hired me and I were on different pages, in a different book, written in another language, by someone else.
My bet, which I don’t recommend, being if they didn’t like what I was saying directly to them, maybe they would take notice as many thousands of people read, commented, and loved my writing. I connected with Arianna Huffington, and she gave me access to her site. She featured me. Crickets.
These posts are on my website christianjfarber.com
. They are available from LinkedIn, Good Men Project, Huffington Post, and Thrive Global if you’re interested.
In the end, it is my story to tell, and I will explain it my way, on my dime with my time.
My mom was proud to live in Rumson. As the daughter of a plumber and a maid who immigrated from Germany, she grew up in Long Branch, uptown on Broadway. She married a guy from Sea Bright with a chip on his shoulder who wanted to show her more. That meant Rumson. They crossed the bridge into town in the late 50s and started a family, my sister, and me.
Annabelle was an upbeat person who always saw the good in any situation, rarely complained, and had an enormous ability to put up with crap from my father. Throughout my life whenever my sister and I got down for some reason the first thing she would say was “Sweetheart.” From there would flow the sage advice or opinion.
I was down more than my sister, in fact, I was always down. (Karen didn’t have time for it, too much to do.) So I received more “Sweethearts” than my sister. Mom also referred to people she liked as Sweetheart.
I occasionally call women in my life Sweetheart, I often get a strange look when I do. Frequently, I get a comment telling about the proper way to address a woman. I have heard Sweetheart “is offensive”, or “condescending” to which I reply “bullshit.” If you’re that sensitive I have a few more things I can refer to you as if you like.
For me, Sweetheatheart is a legacy endearing word that comes from the only person I know who had a heart that had no depth too great, or end. I got it from her so be assured you’re in good company.
Over 40 years ago, when it was evident I was going to actually attend college, my Dad gave me a gift. The Craftsman toolbox arrived in my bedroom full of like-named tools. I remember thinking it was odd as we both knew I didn’t know how to use them and had no interest in learning. I still have the box and some of the original tools, many of which look almost new and unused. I guess it was some sort of security net for me if college didn’t work out.
I carried the box with me to each of my four years at school, including a couple where I lived in a frat house. The tools got some use there mainly by guys who borrowed them. The box took on its own identity when a drunk girl threw up in it as it sat open in my bedroom closet. It smelled for years after that despite my attempts to clean it. I don’t know why she was in my closet and only guess what she was doing there.
Everywhere I have lived since the ’80s, the box has been with me. Each year a few tools are missing and one or two added by one of us. Today the box sits in our garage doing its job holding tools just waiting for some action. I see it every time I pull my car in to park. I think about it each time I see it.
I didn’t get along well with my father. He tried to reconcile with me before he died, but I wasn’t interested. That’s about the only credit I give him, trying. The box tries to do its job for me, but I am not much of a handyman. I keep it around just in case.