An afternoon at the “Oxbow” on the Erie Canal

Way back in the late-1970s, my wife and I lived in an apartment in Fairport, N.Y. near Rochester, and I used to enjoy running along the nearby Erie Canal in warmer weather and cross country skiing along the canal in the winter. One day, I was traversing the canal path between Fairport and Pittsford and came upon a section of the canal that was unusually wide and I was surprised to see a string of small cottages lining the opposite canal bank and a couple of islands in the water. Wow! As a lifelong Rochesterian, I thought I was pretty familiar with the Erie Canal, but I was completely unaware of this unique, little community. I put it out of my mind for decades, but lately, with the help of the internet and some hiking shoes, I’ve been able to do some investigating.

The Erie Canal originally had many twists and turns. This particular section was coined the “Oxbow” because of its “U” shape. Ensuing projects to straighten, deepen, and widen the canal resulted in a “lake” at the Oxbow, making it a prime spot for those seeking a recreation haven. By the late 1880s, a number of summer cottages had been erected along the southern bank of the canal at the Oxbow.

A relatively recent local newspaper article (see far below) states that by the end of the 19th-century, the Oxbow had become a “popular spot for local businesses and organizations to have picnics and baseball games. Early in the 20th century more cottages were built, and the trend accelerated with the Barge Canal construction project. By 1918, the Oxbow was a full-fledged vacation spot for people from Perinton, East Rochester, Penfield and beyond. Many of the simple cottages were constructed from the lumber of dismantled railroad box cars.”* The number of cottages on the Erie at the Oxbow eventually grew to sixty.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, when people were forced to make do with less, the small and unpretentious cottages were converted to year-round dwellings, but the lack of sewers and other amenities made life on the canal bank difficult. Kids who lived on the Oxbow were looked down upon by their classmates at school. The Oxbow “lake” was also becoming smaller. In the 1940s, New York State began depositing the silt that had been dredged from the canal bottom into the lake, eventually creating two islands that can be seen today. In the 1960s, families began to leave the Oxbow and, one by one, the abandoned, derelict cottages either crumbled or were destroyed by suspicious fires. The last resident of the Oxbow, Florence Rutter, died in 2012. Her cottage, the last of the sixty, burnt to the ground in 2014.

Today, there’s only a few traces left of the Oxbow community. Remnants of the Oxbow Road still exist along with some of the old telephone and power lines (see photos below). The disappearance of this once-thriving community-within-a-community reminded me of how fleeting and impermanent this life is.

“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” – James 4:14

oxbow-1950s

Capture 20
A modern map showing the Oxbow “lake” and islands, dubbed “Coyote Island” and “Snake Island” by the locals. Sixty cottages on Oxbow Road once lined the canal bank. I took the photos below as I walked the old Oxbow Road.
IMG_0230
My wife and our dog, Gracie, stand on the remains of Oxbow Road near an old telephone/power line pole.
IMG_0234
A couple of telephone/power line poles are some of the last remnants of the Oxbow community.
IMG_0236
Taken from Oxbow Road looking south. Cottages would have been on the left and that’s Coyote Island on the right.
IMG_0237
This piece of land jutting out perpendicularly into the canal is probably the foundation of a small former cottage
IMG_0240
This carved out rock once served as a planter for an Oxbow resident.
Capture 21
Above: Florence Rutter’s residence at 27 Oxbow Road, the last cottage standing at the Oxbow, was destroyed by fire in 2014.

HISTORY: The Oxbow: From vacation spot to ashes

Intensely proud of “McQ”?

You see all kinds of bumper stickers on cars, but here in Rochester, N.Y., you’ll often see one or both of the ovals shown in the photo above left; OLM and McQ.

“OLM” stands for Our Lady of Mercy High School, while “McQ” stands for McQuaid Jesuit High School. Alumni and parents and grandparents of Mercy and McQuaid students drive around town proudly displaying the oval stickers. They’re a VERY common sight on the backs of cars here in Rochester.

Back when I was in high school in the early-1970s, there were several Catholic high schools in the area. There was McQuaid and Aquinas for boys and Mercy, St. Agnes, and Nazareth Academy for girls. Bishop Kearney (my high school*) and Cardinal Mooney were semi-coed with classes for the boys on one side of the school and classes for girls on the other side. King’s Prep was for boys contemplating the priesthood. St. Agnes, Nazareth, Cardinal Mooney, and King’s Prep have since shut down and Aquinas has switched to coed education.

McQuaid Jesuit Middle School and High School, named after the first Catholic bishop of Rochester, Bernard J. McQuaid (d. 1909), was founded in 1954 and since then has been considered Rochester’s most elite and prestigious secondary school and a launching pad to advanced education and a lucrative, professional career. Numerous doctors, lawyers, and other area professionals are alumnus of McQuaid. There are currently around 900 boys enrolled at McQuaid, 300 in the middle school and 600 in the high school. The school’s current tuition is $13,600 per year. Yes, that’s thirteen-thousand and six-hundred dollars for one year of high school! Tuition at all-girls Our Lady of Mercy is $14,200 per year.

As the scandal of priest sexual abuse began making headlines in the Rochester newspaper, many in the area were convinced that the Jesuits of McQuaid were above such sordidness. One of our grand-nephews was attending McQuaid several years ago and when my wife raised a concern to our niece, she replied emphatically, “The teachers at McQuaid are Jesuits. They don’t do that kind of thing.”

However, last January, the newspaper began publishing reports that several of the Jesuit teachers and administrators at McQuaid had been sexually abusing students. See here. Two weeks ago, allegations were brought forward that McQuaid’s most famous teacher, Jesuit priest William O’Malley, had regularly abused at least one student during his tenure there.

Catholic parents and grandparents of McQuaid students proudly drive around town with “McQ” ovals on the back of their cars, advertising that their son or grandson is attending the most prestigious and academically elite high school in Rochester. But what are those boys learning in that school? Are they learning about Jesus Christ of the Bible and the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone? I can guarantee you that they are NOT. Are any of McQuaid’s students going to school each day fearing the advances of predatory, celibate Jesuit priests? I don’t know if that’s the case currently, but it was surely the case in the past, as we’re only now finding out.

*I almost referred to my old Catholic high school, Bishop Kearney, as my “alma mater.” But I see that “alma mater” actually means “nourishing mother” and that phrase certainly doesn’t describe BK, where I never heard the Gospel and where predatory Irish Christian Brothers prowled the hallways.

Capture7
Above: McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester, N.Y. No sign of the Gospel in its classrooms.

History in my own backyard

Sometimes we get so wound up in our daily routines, that we overlook or don’t appreciate some of the amazing things around us. We’ve all heard of the scenario of tourists coming from hundreds of miles away to check out something the locals have never bothered with. Our humble home is located about 1.5 miles north of the Erie Canal where it runs through the Village of Pittsford, New York. The canal was originally built in the early-19th century, mainly for commerce, but it’s now used exclusively as a resource for recreational boaters as well as walkers, runners, and bicyclists.

The Erie Canal played a huge part in the early development of the Rochester region and New York State in general. There were discussions of a canal linking the port of New York City with the expanding western frontier as far back as the 1790s, but it was Governor DeWitt Clinton who finally made the dream a reality. Plans were drawn up to link the Hudson River with Lake Erie over a 360 mile stretch that included several very daunting engineering challenges. Construction began in 1817 and was completed in 1825. Rochester was a small, frontier village when it was first incorporated in 1817, but the Erie Canal transformed it into the nation’s very first “boom town.” The Upper Falls of the Genesee River provided an ideal location for water-powered grist mills and newly-settled farmers throughout the region hauled their grain to the mills where it was processed into flour and transported via canal to New York City. The river would later be harnessed as a power source, enabling Rochester to outpace other nearby communities and become a burgeoning manufacturing center. The village of Pittsford, located nine miles southeast of Rochester, and originally settled in 1796, was also situated along the path of the Erie Canal, but it largely remained a sleepy, agricultural hamlet compared to its industrious neighbor to the west.

Rochester was once known as the center of the “Burned Over District” as numerous itinerant ministers traveled from town to town along the canal, preaching the Gospel and planting churches. Charles G. Finney,* a Wesleyan Arminian and Pelagian who popularized the “anxious bench” (precursor to today’s altar call), gained his notoriety with his well-attended Rochester revivals in 1830-31. The religious fervor in the area was part of what American historians refer to as the Second Great Awakening (1790-1840).

Railroads began to compete with the canal for commerce in the 1830s, but the Erie Canal, with its lower costs and ongoing expansions, remained competitive until after the Civil War. The canal underwent a major reconstruction and enlargement in 1918 in order to accommodate large barges and the new route entirely bypassed the old canal pathway that ran directly through Rochester. In 1927, innovative city leaders authorized the construction of a trolley line in the bed of the former canal path. The old canal aqueduct over the Genesee River and the 1.5-mile-long canal bed that ran through the city center were roofed-over by Broad Street and the trolley line became known as the Rochester Subway, which was utilized until 1956. Interstates 590 and 490 now traverse the former canal and trolley path from Monroe Avenue in Brighton (near Tom Wahl’s restaurant) to the east bank of the Genesee River. Careful observers can still spot vestiges of the old canal and subway system as they drive along the 490 interstate through the east side of the city.

The enlarged Erie Canal runs through Pittsford Village along the same route as the original 1825 canal. It’s such a nice resource. My wife and I have taken many walks along the peaceful canal over the years. There are several shops, restaurants, and small parks along the canal at Schoen Place. One would think there would be even more “gentle” development and public accessibility along such a great resource, but short-sighted planning is a consistent characteristic among civic leaders in Rochester and Monroe County. The vast majority of property that abuts the canal is privately owned.

Capture
The Phoenix Hotel (c. 1820) in Pittsford was originally built as a stagecoach inn, but subsequently also served those traveling on the nearby Erie Canal. Anti-Mason activist, William Morgan, was fed a meal here before he was spirited away and murdered. The Marquis de Lafayette spent the night as a hotel guest.
Capture1
Old Lock 62, abandoned after the Erie Canal was rerouted in 1918, sits silently behind the Pittsford Plaza shopping center.
Capture1A
A portion of old Lock 65 along Interstate 490 attests to the route having once been the path of the Erie Canal through the city of Rochester.
Capture1B
The Genesee Aqueduct once carried the Erie Canal and, later, the trolley cars of the Rochester Subway over the Genesee River in Downtown Rochester. The “roof” over the 1.5-mile underground portion of the subway system became Broad Street.
Capture1C
The “Sam Patch,” a tour boat designed to resemble an old canal packet boat, navigates the Erie Canal at night at the Port of Pittsford.

*For more on revivalist, Charles G. Finney, see “The Disturbing Legacy of Charles Finney” here.

Rochester printmaker, James D. Havens

As a child, I had some artistic ability and dreamed of growing up and becoming a professional artist. However, I didn’t have any serious instruction until my senior year of high school when I took a class with artist and teacher, James Wright. I had worked in many mediums, but Mr. Wright introduced me to linoleum block printing, which I really enjoyed.

Life intervened and I didn’t pursue an art career, but I still dabbled in art as a hobby over the years. I also liked to periodically visit the University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery to admire exhibitions and works in the permanent collection.

In early-2001, I visited the gallery and was pleasantly surprised by a temporary exhibit, “Woodblock Prints by James Havens: A Centennial Celebration,” which included forty prints from local artist, James D. Havens (1900-1960). Wow! Having had some rudimentary training in block printing, I really admired Havens’ masterful work.

Havens was born into privilege in 1900. His father was a U.S. Representative, and afterwards, a legal counsel for the successful Eastman Kodak Company. But young James was a stricken with childhood diabetes at the age of fourteen. The disease was a death sentence in those days, however, through his father’s influence, college-student James became the first person in the United States to receive treatment with the new “miracle” drug, insulin.

Havens began studying art at the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (which later became the Rochester Institute of Technology, my alma mater) and further honed his printmaking skills under the direction of nationally known artists, Troy Kinney and Charles Woodbury. Havens co-founded the Print Club of Rochester in 1930 and became one of the region’s most beloved artists. He died of cancer in 1960.

While recently engaging in some internet sleuthing, I discovered that Havens’ former home and studio, built in 1938, is only two miles from our house.

It’s amazing how gifted artists, like Havens, can take a scene out of nature that we would casually pass by without a second thought, and invite us to focus on the intricate beauty and design of God’s creation. Enjoy a few of James Havens’ woodblock prints below:

CaptureJH1

CaptureJH2

CaptureJH3

CaptureJH4

CaptureJH5_edited

CaptureJH6

 

Play ball, hang up the skates, and put away the basketball

Yup, I know it’s Throwback Thursday and I’ve already re-published a post from the past, but today is also Opening Day, so let’s shout out a loud…

Play ball!!!

Yes, today is Opening Day for Major League Baseball as the San Diego Padres begin a four-game homestand at Petco Park against their NL West rivals, the San Francisco Giants. This is a special year for the Padres as they will be celebrating their 50th season. Over the last decade, the Opening Day hopes of realistic Padres fans centered around a .500 season finish, but with the acquisition of 3rd base slugger, Manny Machado (photo left), on February 19th, the team and the fans are beginning to set their sights higher. But let’s not get carried away. Although the Padres have the best farm system in the Majors, it will take some time for the young blue chippers to mature. Look for the Padres to start competing for the NL West next season. But this year we can all cheer the slugging “El Ministro de Defensa”!

Below are the Padres’ expected Opening Day starters:

  • C – Austin Hedges or Francisco Mejia
  • 1B – Eric Hosmer
  • 2B – Ian Kinsler
  • 3B – Manny Machado
  • SS – Fernando Tatis, Jr. – a 20-year-old, blue chipper who has improbably been promoted from Double-A straight to the Majors based upon his outstanding Spring Training
  • LF – Wil Meyers
  • CF – Manuel Margot or Franchy Cordero
  • RF – Hunter Renfroe or Franmil Reyes
  • P – Eric Lauer

While the season ends for another team…

I had no interest in ice hockey for fifty-three years, although the sport is very popular here in Rochester. However, nine years ago on a whim I started following the Rochester Institute of Technology (my alma mater) Men’s Hockey Team. It’s the only Division I college team in Rochester and home games are broadcast on cable TV. This past season, Coach Wayne Wilson led the club to 15-14-4 overall and 13-11-4 Atlantic Conference records, certainly not a great year, but good enough for the #5 seed in the conference’s postseason tournament. Two weekends ago, the Tigers took the postseason quarterfinal series 2 games to 1 against #4 seed, Sacred Heart (Argh, what a name!). However, this past Friday night in the semi-finals, RIT lost to #6 seed, Niagara, 1-0, in overtime. Season over. Shout-out to graduating seniors, Abbot Girduckis, Mark Logan, Christian Short, Gabe Valenzuela, and Erik Brown (photo right), RIT’s all-time leading scorer at the Division I level.

…while this team limps to the finish line.

The hapless New York Knicks are at the tail-end of their season with a 14-60 record and 8 games left to play. The Knicks have a very good chance of beating the franchise record of least amount of wins in a season; 17. With tons of cap space after jettisoning Porzingis and Hardaway, can the lowly Knicks lure free agents, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, in the offseason?

UPDATE: “Jesus Saves” billboard changed to advertisement for fish fry in time for Lent

Back on February 21st, I posted about the mammoth “Jesus Saves” billboard (photo left) that sat along Route 490, the busiest interstate highway in Greater Rochester, New York. See the post here.

While I was driving to work two weeks ago, I noticed that the billboard had been changed. What new advertisement had gone up in place of “Jesus Saves”? I’ll give you a clue: Rochester has a large Catholic population and Lent began last week. That’s right, a new billboard went up advertising local fast-food restaurant chain, Bill Grays, and its self-proclaimed “Rochester’s Best Fish Fry” (photo right).

Fish fries on Fridays are hugely popular here in Rochester because of the large Catholic population. Prior to 1966, Catholics were not allowed to eat meat on Fridays throughout the entire year under threat of soul-damning mortal sin. But after 1966, the obligatory abstention was lifted by the U.S. Catholic bishops EXCEPT for Fridays during Lent. For more historical background, see my post on the subject here.

Isn’t it quite ironic that a billboard proclaiming that “Jesus Saves” with a reference to John 3:16 is followed by an advertisement seeking to profit off of Catholic legalism? It reminds me of how the simple Gospel of the early church was gradually institutionalized into sacramental ritualism and legalism.

Postscript: I had taken the photo of the “Jesus Saves” billboard one-handed with my iPhone through the windshield as I was driving my car at 60 mph. Very dumb. For the photo of the Bill Gray’s fish fry billboard, I exited the expressway, drove through the city neighborhood to as close to the billboard as possible, parked the car and took the photo. Much safer that way and much better quality.

Capture14
A photo of Bill Gray’s fish fry plate, which includes a piece of fried haddock, french fries, a roll, and cole slaw for $13.69. Haddock ain’t cheap, folks.

Weekend Roundup Update – Bad faith: Rochester diocese reneges on victim compensation process

I don’t normally publish posts on Sundays, but this news update is important.

Back in June of 2018, the Catholic diocese of Rochester, N.Y. (I live in a suburb of Rochester) had retained retired judge, Robert Lunn, to review the claims of victims of childhood sexual abuse by priests and recommend cash settlements if warranted. It was stated that Lunn’s deliberations would be independent of diocesan interference. To date, Justice Lunn has reviewed and deemed as credible the claims of six victims, recommending the diocese pay out cash settlements ranging from $75,000 to $125,000.

According to the news story below, the Rochester diocese has now requested that the process be changed mid-stream. The diocese has asked to meet with Lunn to review each additional claim prior to an assessment and settlement recommendation.

I propose that, with the recent passing of state legislation that expands recourse for victims of childhood sexual abuse, the diocese anticipates a larger-than-expected number of claims and, with bankruptcy a real possibility, is seeking to limit its exposure.

This change certainly does not reflect well on the diocese, but as the article states, victims can reject the diocese’s process altogether and sue the church in civil court.

Discord in diocese’s settlement program for sex abuse survivors
https://13wham.com/news/local/exclusive-discord-in-dioceses-settlement-program-for-sex-abuse-survivors

Tens of thousands of Rochesterian commuters are confronted by “Jesus Saves” billboard every day.

I took the above enlarged photo with my iPhone through the windshield of my car as I was driving home from work last week. I was driving around 60 mph at the time and took the photo with one hand. Definitely don’t try this at home! Forgive the poor quality.  Yes, I even photoshopped it as best I could.

Okay, so what about that “Jesus Saves” billboard in the photo?

Rochester, New York sits smack dab in the middle of the anti-Bible Belt. Ninety-five percent of the people here are either Roman Catholics, mainline (modernist) “Protestants,” or atheists/agnostics. We certainly don’t see a lot of “Jesus Saves” signs around here.

The huge “Jesus Saves” billboard sits aside Route 490 eastbound near the city center. It’s been there for a couple of months. Route 490 is the major east-west expressway in our county. Average daily traffic (ADT) on 490 at this location is about 100,000 cars per day. That’s A LOT of people reading “Jesus Saves” each day.

The Lord uses many people and things to draw souls to Him. I pray He uses this billboard on 490 to get people thinking about salvation in Christ. The smaller print on the billboard references John 3:16 and says it’s sponsored by The Shepherds Fold Church in Scottsville, New York. I checked the church’s website and I see it’s Pentecostal and teaches the prosperity gospel. Argh! Definitely not a church I would recommend. But I do pray the Lord uses the mammoth sign to get passing motorists to think about Him.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

Postscript: I remember before I accepted Jesus that I used to scoff at any “Jesus Saves” signs that I saw. My buddies and I would always be tempted to append “…Green Stamps” to any “Jesus Saves” signs or posters we encountered. If you’re younger than, say, fifty, I’m confident you have no idea what S&H Green Stamps were.

…What? Say it ain’t so! My very last bottle of Papa Al’s Hot Sauce!

There’s a little bit of a back story to this tragic news.

Back in the early-1980s, we were living in our first house, which was located in the Greater Rochester suburb of Henrietta, New York. The town was notoriously known for its strip malls (and strip clubs) and very haphazard and underregulated zoning. On the corner of Calkins Road and West Henrietta Road was Al’s Meadows Motel, one of those flea-bitten establishments from a previous era that begged every passerby to wonder who would actually choose to spend a night there of their own accord? On the same property was the Al’s Meadows Lounge and Grill, an old-school bar and burger joint. The best thing you could say about the establishment was that it was “unpretentious.” Oh, yeah, and there was the chicken wing sauce!

A friend from work who lived close by and I were taking some night classes together back then, and several times on the way home we stopped at Al’s for chicken wings. The wings themself were nothing to write home about. They were actually on the small side and regularly overcooked, but the sauce was absolutely delicious with a noticeable tang of celery salt and unlike any wing sauce I had ever tasted (my mouth is watering as I type). The lounge/restaurant also sold the sauce in bottles and I became a regular customer. It was especially good on any kind of chicken and on Zweigles white hot dogs (see here). Our two boys grew up on the sauce and the youngest one, especially, took a shine to it.

The years went by and we eventually moved out of Henrietta. Maybe about twelve years ago, Al’s Meadows Motel and the adjoining lounge/restaurant were torn down and to make way for a gas station. However, Al’s sons owned the Southtown Beverages Drive-Thru business, which was a bit farther north on West Henrietta Road, and they carried on the Meadows Lounge and Grill legacy by bottling and selling Papa Al’s Hot Sauce. Year after year, I made the trek back to Henrietta to buy a couple of bottles of the hot sauce.

This past October, our youngest son came up from Texas for our family trip to the Big Apple and of course he took a solo drive to Southtown Beverages to buy a couple of bottles of Papa Al’s Hot Sauce to take back home with him. But when he returned to our house, he broke the bad news: Southtown had stopped making the sauce because of low demand. Argh! If I had known, I would have stocked up.

So here I am in the photo above with my very last bottle of Papa Al’s Hot Sauce. Ach! When it’s gone, I’m going to rinse out the bottle and display it on the mantle down in my man cave as another reminder that this world has its temporal pleasures, but it’s all passing away.

 

Capture54

The former Al’s Meadows Motel and Meadows Lounge and Grill were located at 4200 West Henrietta Road, Rochester, NY. The proprietor was Alphonse “Papa Al” Alaimo.

UPDATE: In the post below from December 2020, I recount how I successfully recreated a close facsimile of Papa Al’s Hot Sauce along with the recipe:

https://excatholic4christ.wordpress.com/2020/12/09/papa-als-hot-sauce-its-back/

What??? You still work at Kodak?!?!?!

I started working at Kodak back in 1976 when I was 19-years-old. Back then, the company was THE place to work in Rochester with 60,000 local employees, yes, 60,000! Everyone in the Rochester metropolitan area either worked at Kodak or had a close relative who did. In the 70s, the company was still a Dow Jones, blue chip giant that had a virtual monopoly on the consumer and professional photography businesses. But in the early-80s, foreign competition began chipping away at the profits. The layoffs started in earnest in 1985 and would continue unrelentingly.

I had started out in the consumer camera production portion of the business and worked my way up to a white collar job, but when the layoffs began in 1985, I was knocked back down to an entry-level position. Possibly just a tiny bit bitter about having to start from scratch again, I also sensed the future of the consumer division was less-than-tenuous, so in 1988 I transferred to an entry-level spot in the copier production division. I slowly worked my way up the chain and even attended night school to earn a degree in production management. I was promoted to first-line supervision in 1999 and did that stressful and thankless job for 10 years. By 2009, foreign competition had reduced the copier division to a shadow of itself and I was laid off in one of the ongoing cost-cuttings. My boss was improbably able to find a job for me within the company and only two weeks later I was back in a service support role where I’ve been for the last nine years.

Foreign competition, followed by the faster-than-expected switch from analog film to digital technology was a one-two punch Kodak couldn’t overcome. The layoffs began in 1985 and they’ve continued just about every year right up to the present. That’s 33 years of perpetual layoffs, folks. The company has been reduced to about 2000 employees in Rochester, a far, far cry from its glory days. To borrow a cliche, the company is currently “running on fumes” with the end definitely in sight. When I tell Rochesterians that I’m still at Kodak, they can’t believe anyone is still working there. They tell me I must have been a super employee to have survived all of those layoffs, but the truth of the matter is that employees much better than me were laid off decades ago. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

I’m 62 years old now with 42.5 years at Kodak. My wife and I only have one year left to pay off our 15-year mortgage, so we’re starting to set our sights on retirement. We hadn’t seen a financial planner in several years, so last February I made some half-hearted inquiries to our old CFP and this past week we began to seriously collect all the financial records and documents we need to begin that process again. I enjoy collecting all of that paperwork about as much as a root canal, but my wife is becoming increasingly frustrated with her work situation and is prodding me into action. I know our CFP will tell us we’ll need to work until we’re 65, but I seriously doubt whether Kodak or my employment there will make it that far.

Some advice for my younger friends:

  • Start contributing to your 401K account as soon as possible. Before my wife started working, we lived from paycheck to paycheck and I didn’t start contributing until I was 34. When I first started at Kodak, many of the older guys were able to retire in their late-50s because of the company pension plan, company-paid medical insurance, and retirement incentive packages. That’s all gone now.
  • See a financial planner periodically. Yeah, I know it’s expensive, but it doesn’t need to be every year. You’re not going to have a realistic retirement plan without some professional guidance.

The Lord God provided me with good employment at Kodak for 42 years, but that could end tomorrow. No matter the outcome, I’m grateful for everything He’s blessed me with. I look forward to retirement, but I also know every day is a gift. The Lord could take me home tonight. People put their faith in temporal institutions, like Kodak used to be, but nothing in this world is rock solid. Everything could change in a moment. Your big 401K nest egg won’t mean a thing when you breathe your last breath.

Are you ready to stand before a Holy God? We’re all sinners and our sin separates us from God. We all deserve eternal punishment. But God loves us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to pay the penalty for our sins when He died on the cross. But Jesus overcame sin and death when He rose from the grave and He offers eternal life and fellowship with God to all those who repent of their sin and accept Him as Savior by faith alone. Won’t you pray to Jesus and ask Him to save you?

“And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” – Luke 12:16-21