I have an online friend named Alison. Alison is smart, witty, and quite attractive. Unfortunately, Alison is also dealing with a pancreas from hell, this manifesting itself in numerous hospitalizations including one at the present time. Prayers for her healing are requested.

Alison recently moved to Las Vegas. No, not because she wants to be a showgirl and no, not because she’s all that stoked for 115° “at least it’s a dry heat” days during summer. I believe it was a combo career/fresh start move. I teased her the real reason she moved to Vegas is because she wanted a nice new shiny hockey team for which to cheer. And oh, what a team it is turning out to be; more on that in a bit.

Hockey is, of course, a sport quite native to Nevada, where every fall as soon as the leaves stop spontaneously combusting from the heat and start turning colors eager players grab their skates, sticks, and pucks as they head out to the nearest casino and wait for the craps tables to freeze over so they can lace ‘em up. At least the National Hockey League believes so, as a couple years back when it came time to select a location for a new team the NHL chose Vegas over those hockey know-nothing rubes in Quebec City. Most Montreal residents would argue Quebec City is the destination location for know-nothing rubes period; however, this is a debate best left for French-preferring Canadians. But I digress.

The Vegas team’s owner is a proud West Point graduate, this manifesting itself in his preferred name for his new team being Black Knights after Army’s West Point sporting teams. Alas, Army said we’d rather you didn’t, hence the Golden Knights came to be.

The Golden Knights are Vegas’ first major league sports team. Thus, despite the admittedly limited experience local sports fans have with hockey save for the select few who in years past attended a minor league or NHL exhibition game there, excitement ran high. Season tickets? Sold out. Good seats still available? Um, not really. Locals snapping up anything and everything bearing the Golden Knights logo? Oh, you betcha. Despite the not baseless assumption that as an expansion team it was a ripe lock certainty the team would be mediocre at best and most likely downright awful, enthusiasm ran high for the season’s beginning …

… right up until a few nights before, when a madman fired on a crowd of Vegas concertgoers, murdering more than fifty and wounding hundreds.

What to do?

Refer back to Alison. She is good friends with a married couple in Vegas. Said couple has taken shifts to be with her around the clock during her current hospital stay. Because that is the kind of people they are.

Now, an expansion team’s home opener is invariably loaded with flash and splash, a massive celebration for one and all. However, it was unimaginable for the Golden Knights to hold such an event. Their situation was not unlike one the Oakland A’s faced in 1989 after winning the World Series, sweeping cross-Bay rivals the San Francisco Giants. Said Series had a lengthy unscheduled break, as shortly before Game Three a massive earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay Area, leveling buildings and freeways, breaking bridges, killing and injuring many. In lieu of the usual championship parade, the A’s opted for a modest public ceremony. Obviously even this would be far too much for Vegas. And so all eyes were on T-Mobile Arena, the Golden Knights home, to see what if anything could be done to both acknowledge what had happened and facilitate the desperately needed escapism sports provide.

The Golden Knights delivered on both counts.

First, it introduced one at a time some of the first responders – law enforcement, paramedics, doctors, nurses, firefighters – whose heroism and work in the face of nearly incomprehensible horror saved numerous lives; each accompanied onto the ice by a player. The team then played roadrunner to the Arizona Coyotes en route to a 5-2 win.

Although I am a San Francisco Bay Area native, hence a Sharks and long before Los Tiburones swam into San Jose an Oakland Seals/California Golden Seals fan, the Golden Knights hold a place in my heart. My Dad and oldest brother were both career Army. The last time I saw my brother before he passed away a few years ago, one evening we watched an Army football game on television. So, when I watch the Golden Knights (I’ve caught every game thus far this season on either online television or radio) it reminds me of my brother, the one with whom I was the closest and most alike. I miss him terribly. Connecting with the Golden Knights brings a sense of him always being with me. It’ll do until that great and glorious day when by Jesus’ grace we will be together in His presence.

Alison’s friends staying with her day and night; the Golden Knights proving a healing focal point for a reeling community trying to make it through a satanic assault. Such actions are love in action, or love on ice skates if you prefer. These are actions we should all strive to emulate. Perhaps we can’t stay with a sick friend 24/7 or play hockey. That’s okay. We can do what we can, which is usually far more than what we believe we can do. When we do what we can, good things happen. That will do. Very nicely.

Oh, and that obligatorily bad expansion team?

They’re currently 7-1-0. Hottest team and the best record in the NHL.

So much for that obligation.

Sunday Sept 3rd 7:54 am

This morning when I woke up I was going to write about the exchange between the Daily Caller and Stacy McCain concerning Saturday’s Event in Leominster (advance tickets still available here) so I grabbed my laptop and heading downstairs so as not to disturb my sleeping with I planted myself on he couch that Stacy would most likely be crashing on and looking out the window noticed a group of men getting siding up on the house next door.

One would think the early morning hammering would have woken me (or her) but over the last two months we have become accustomed to the sounds of Hammers generators, and saws as we’ve watched the house next door slowly and gradually be transformed.

The Author is this transformation is a 29-year-old young man named Paulo who came here as a teen from Brazil who has tirelessly been working to gut and redo the house inside and out since purchasing that foreclosed property to get it ready for a large family of tenants that he has lined up to put there.

Now I had hoped to buy that house for myself for my oldest son or co-sign with him (my finances might be thin these days but my credit score is close to 800)  who will be needing a new place soon but Paulo got there first.  Anyone watching him in action since he first turned up in late May should not be surprised that he got anywhere first.  His whole attitude has been Horatio Nelson’s “Lose not a moment.”

Every single day I’ve watched him in that house, I’ve seen long dumpster after dumpster filled as old carpet, old wood, old appliances continue to be stripped away.  I’ve come home to the sound of an electric generator as he’s worked late into to the night, usually alone, sometimes with a team, to get things done and the whole neighborhood has seen the transformation as the abandoned and overgrown house that began its life as a tiny company house for workers who had come from Finland or Sicily back in the 19th century when Fitchburg was industrial hub to a more modern and an attractive home that despite the small plot of land that it sits on will to fit a family of six by November if Paulo’s plans work out.

This week he took a few minutes away from his work to talk to me about his work on Camera:

I can’t help think as I watch Paulo in action that I’m seeing a young version of my Father. Dad had left school at 13 to work during the depression getting every hour he could in local factories, picking up every hour he could, doing the dirty jobs that needed to be done and joining various building crews learning how to build. In 1942 during World War 2 he entered the Navy as a ship’s carpenter and by the time the war had ended left as a chief petty officer. And at Paulo’s age he was doing pretty much the same thing, building or fixing small houses with his brother-in-law until he bought a bar called the Mohawk Club in Shirley and went into the restaurant/hospitality business. The two houses I lived in from the day I was born to the day I got married were built by him and when I watch Paulo in action I can’t help but think that if I had in my youth been more interested in my father’s skills and less interested in books and history that might be me next door fixing up that house for my son (and I’m sure DaWife watching Paulo hard at work fixing things might have liked it if her husband was a quarter as handy as the young fellow next door with a hammer as he is with a keyboard.)

But while I didn’t recognize the advantages of my Father’s way in my youth with the benefit of years I see the wonder of what’s going on. A young man born half a world away coming to America, earning and honing a skill over a decade and sacrificing hour after hour to get the seed money to get a mortgage to buy a beat up house, spending 70 hours or more a week, days night and weekends to get it to a point where he can get it in a good enough condition to rent it out for enough to cover that mortgage and his expenses and start the whole process again.

To be sure there are a lot of risks. There is always the possibility of getting problem tenants who trash a house that you might have to evict if they decide not to pay. Furthermore all of this involves laying out money for wood, and materials out front, not to mention the various legal hoops involved in buying a house and getting permits or construction. Finally there is a lot of hard labor involved. A single accident could stop things cold and if it does the bank or banks that hold the mortgages on the property will still expect their payments on time each month.

I’m also sure his young wife and kids would like to see more of him nor do I doubt that his kids might have enjoyed it if this Sunday morning he had been at home during this labor day weekend rather than putting up siding early in the morning.

But when those kids are 18, Paulo’s hard work today will almost certainly mean he’ll have the assets to send them to college if they wish, or if they are smart enough to follow in his footsteps might be in a position to have their dad co-sign for their first home to fix up or at least know how to fix anything in sight. And I suspect that if he has a daughter who wants a big wedding someday, the willingness to be hard at work on a Holiday weekend will be the reason he can afford to pay for one or two or more.

Put simply Paulo is what makes America great, but he’s also a symptom of the greatness OF America which provides a system by which a person can freely reap the benefits of their labor without the heavy hand of the state to smother them or the outstretched hand of the powerful or the connected demanding their cut. A system under which a person can, if they are willing to take the risks and regardless of race or class make more of themselves then they ever could elsewhere.

Paulo will likely never be as rich or as famous as the president but he is no less an American success story for it.

Do you know of an American success story that you’d like me to share with my readers and possibly include in a future book on the subject? Drop me a line and if I can get to where you are I’d be delighted to learn it and tell it.

Update: Paulo rather than Paolo should have stuck with my first instict


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