Dan and Hannah and the Women’s March (1.21.17)


Dad and Mom, a lifetime inspiration

My mom would have been on the front line of the Women’s March.  Dad, a sailor in World War II, would be right there with her.  They were Roosevelt Democrats and supporters of Barack Obama from the get go.  Living well into the nineties, they are turning over in their graves over the election of 2016!

I wanted to be at the Women’s March for Civil Rights on this first full day of the Trump Administration, but…

Flying south to Washington to walk alongside our friend Ellen just wasn’t in the cards.  It turns out there was a good reason why Hannah and I didn’t go to any of the Women’s Marches throughout the country.


To be clear, these are challenging times for many in our country.  The first two paragraphs from the mission statement of the Women’s March organizers outlines the genuine fears of many of our sisters and brothers in this country.

The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer, Intersex, Asexual), Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault – and our communities are hurting and scared.  We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.

…The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.  We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.


Our amazing Oregon Family (Becky in green, Corrie to her left in the blue ski cap, Abby to her left, and Karl in front of them in the purple cap)

Weeks ago, we learned that our sister-in-law Becky and her daughters, Corrie and Abby, and our nephew Karl, were marching in Portland, Oregon.  We stand with them.

The day before the march (Inauguration Day) our daughter Molly asked Hannah to join her and Molly’s friend Nancy for the Women’s March in Boston.  I so wanted Hannah to go, but it just wasn’t going to work out.  We stand with them.


Jeff in Portsmouth, NH

It turns out there were two Women’s Marches in our neighborhood – one eight miles away in Portsmouth, NH that our friends, Corky and Jeff & also Lisa, walked and a second 45 minutes away in Portland, Maine where our friend Molly marched.  But we just couldn’t go, but we stand with them.


Then a few days after the Women’s March in Portland, Maine, I read our friend Molly’s blog.  (She was a student of mine in teacher education at the University of New England and is my favorite Maine writer).    She wrote eloquently about the experience.  Her lead includes these lines that captured my mixed feelings, too.

I debated about participating.  I’m an apolitical creature and find the world of politics uncomfortable, if not repellent.  I vote and I educate myself about the issues (well, to be honest, not all of them, but most of them), but that’s about it. I don’t like talking politics and I don’t enjoy listening to political coverage.  In all honesty, I also just wanted to spend a quiet day at home.   Click here to read her entire blog.

But she did go.  In response to her blog, I wrote:

Dan Rothermel says:

January 24, 2017 at 8:48 am

Proud of you. Maybe it’s time for us bystanders to be more involved.  Maybe this election shakes many of us out of our complacency.  So, the question is, what is next?  What does each of us do as individuals?  Collectively?

So, what do I as an individual do to promote civil rights (i.e., the rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality) for all?  And why weren’t Hannah and I participating in the Women’s March?


You see, we had scheduled lunch with our daughter-in-law Laurel’s mom, Sandy and her friend Paulette, who were visiting from Massachusetts.  We choose to make our caring, respecting, and loving difference on a small scale.

For us, empathy begins in our own hearts.  It starts with us being “peace-full” (i.e., full of peace) in our own lives.  Treating all we meet with love, we then have that love spread through them onto others, like ripples in a pond.


Nancy and our Molly in Boston

Though we would have been on the frontline of the Women’s March, today we spread our love one-to-one with Sandy and Paulette.  Love begets love.  Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.  We each advance human rights as we can.  For us, love is always the answer.

In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.   – Henri Nouwen


Dan and Hannah Remember October 12, 1983

In January, 1982, Hannah and I moved from Arizona to New England with our two young daughters.  With no jobs, Hannah flew East with Molly (2.5 years) and Robyn (4 months) while I drove cross country in a 24’ Ryder Truck with my teaching buddy, Ralph Bethancourt.  Hannah and I were floating on a cloud, propelled by the romantic notion of raising a family in a small town in New England – you know, really knowing our neighbors, being vital strands in the fabric of the community, all at a slower pace.


Norman Rockwell lives in Dan and Hannah’s hearts

By March, Hannah and I had rented one side of a duplex in Portsmouth, NH.  Having found a three-month “maternity leave” teaching job at Oyster River Middle School in Durham, NH, I then scored a full-time position in Somersworth (NH) Middle School for the following year.

With a family of five on our minds, we chose the family health insurance.   You may remember that we paid just $800 for Molly’s prenatal and birthing expenses in 1979 and $1000 for Robyn in 1981.  By 1983, Will’s expenses around his birth would have been $2500 without insurance.   We weren’t in Kansas (or Arizona) anymore!

Going old school (i.e., not knowing the gender), we soon learned that child #3” s due date of October 8 was just an educated guess, not higher mathematics.  Awaking on the morning of the 12th, Hannah knew things were stirring.  And when at 7A her water broke right there in our kitchen, we knew our Columbus Day baby was on the way.


Fortunately, my sister Patty had spent the night and could watch Molly and Robyn while I drove Hannah to the Portsmouth (NH) Hospital (at the time York Hospital didn’t have a birthing unit).   Unlike her first two pregnancies where Hannah was expected to lie in bed as soon as she arrived at the hospital, this time her gynecologist wanted her to walk around as much as was comfortable to let gravity work its magic.

And did gravity ever do its thing!  Just hours later at 10A, Jaye Will Rothermel, whom we forever called Will, came bouncing into the world.   By the way, the Jaye was for Hannah’s father John.

Hannah’s favorite moment of the entire day was once Will appeared, her doctor, rather than saying you have a boy, said, you have a son.  Not just a male, but already a part of the family.  Hannah cried.

As with his sisters, we bought and saved newspapers from the day Will was born.


Looking through the papers over the last month, I noticed that the New York Times for that Wednesday was $0.50 in Maine (today’s weekday NYT costs $2.50 here).  Disappointedly, the newspaper gave us very little earth shaking news.  The lead story was US Says Moscow Threatens to Quit Talks on Missiles (Mikhail Gorbachev was still six years from being the leader of the Soviet Union).  The lead picture above the fold (as you see to the left), was of Korean widows whose husbands died in the recent bombings in Rangoon, Burma (Burma became Myanmar in 1989).


Next, I perused the Boston Globe to see if New England had something eye popping to offer.  I did learn that the Phillies beat the Orioles 2-1 in the first game of the World Series.   That turned out to be the only game the Phillies would win as the Baltimore Orioles swept the next four games to win the World Series.  The picture to the right is future Hall of Famer (2007), Cal Ripken, Jr.  Nicknamed “The Iron Man,” Cal is known for holding the baseball record for the most consecutive games played (2,632).  I imagine that is a big whup if you like baseball and think it is more than just a three-to-four hour ordeal of tedium.  (Lighten up Red Sox fans, I do love you!)


Shaking my head that the traditional newspapers were not delivering ground-breaking news, I turned to the MacDonald’s of newspapers, USA Today, for something memorable.  By the way, the USA Today began publishing just 13 months before Will was born (September 15, 1982).  Known for its one sentence paragraphs, adding color to the black and white world of print journalism, and a country-wide focus on events and the weather (see to the left), the USA Today did offer up that the predicted high was going to be a balmy 61F on that momentous day.  I guess that’s a positive.


All I have left is the local York Weekly, published that Wednesday.  The lead was the town fathers of Ogunquit (the neighboring town north of York) are unhappy with the Maine Supreme Court overturning a town ordinance over loud music.  I told you we live in small town Maine.

In 1983, gas was $1.23 per gallon ($2.92 adjusted for inflation), the average car cost $6000, average family income was $12,100, and the average house cost $105,000.


Flashdance – What a Feeling was the #3 song in 1983 (A personal favorite of Will’s father).  Click here to listen this rockin’ classic!  Few care that Every Breath You Take by the Police was #1.

Return of the Jedi was the runaway, top grossing film at $252M.  Terms of Endearment, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, was second at $108M.   For you fellow Flashdance fans, Flashdance was #3 that year.

Dallas was the top rated television show, followed in order by 60 Minutes, Dynasty, and The A Team.

Given this examination of the print media, it’s quite clear the magic of that fall day in 1983 was the birth of Will Rothermel, now 33 years old.

PS  The preview picture of four year old Will at a boat was taken at Ocean Point, Maine.

Dan and Hannah Remember September 7, 2016

If you do something once, it’s an event.  If you do it twice, it’s a tradition!  I have an RFT (Rothermel Family Tradition) that you just might like.  When your kids/grandkids are born, buy newspapers on the day of their birth, save them, and then give them as twenty-first birthday presents (along with the keys to a new Lexus, if you are so inclined).   Thirty plus years ago, we bought newspapers for each of our three kids (no Lexi).  Previously, I blogged about our first child’s (Molly) actual birthday.  Click here for Molly’s birth-day blog.


For a third time, Hannah was pregnant in Arizona.  You see, she had a miscarriage after Molly and before the birth of a second child.   Going old school (not knowing the gender of our child), Hannah was good and ready for child #2 to make an appearance in the 1981 summer of swelter (due date of August 25th).  Molly rocked our world three days early, so Han was hoping for similar good fortune.

With my mother, an elementary school librarian in Ridgewood, NJ, flying in, we would have live-in support for Molly for two weeks while we adjusted to bambino numero dos.


Mamoo and Papoo

As we all waited, August 25 came and went.  So much for on-time delivery.  Each morning, Mom would take two-year-old Molly to the Hudson School playground before 7A.  Why so early?   After 7A, the metal slide would burn Molly if she slid on it.

It seemed that the second Rothermel Bambino was just not ready to enter a world with Ronald Reagan as president.  (Imagine the trepidation for babies about to be born in 2017 with one Donald J. Trump as president!)

As a Republican friend reminded me, Get over it.  He’s president.   That is a fact, but I’m having trouble getting over it.  He mocks those with disabilities, denies climate change, spreads fear, frightens the vulnerable, and is misogynistic to the point we are becoming the Divided States of America. We (myself included) all have no choice but to deal with this turn of events.  Yet, I do remain hopeful.  Being bitter, cynical, and pessimistic poison ourselves.  Given the gravity of his position as president, I hope in time he will transform himself into a president of all Americans.)

Whoa, I didn’t realize I would take that little side trip, but I needed to go there, as you can probably tell.


Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix

Back to the Rothermel Baby #2 Saga.  Soon late August turned into the first week of September.   Finally, on Sunday, September 6, we took Mom to the Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix for her flight home for the start of her school year.  Turning to Hannah, she said, Just please don’t have the baby today.

Loving her mother-in-law dearly, Hannah readily agreed.  By the way, story has it that Hannah’s dad, Dr. John Kraai, delivered over 5000 babies as a general practitioner in northern New York in the later half of the twentieth century.  The legend goes that he told expecting parents that the due date was two weeks later than what he thought, so moms and dads wouldn’t stress over babies that didn’t arrive “on time.”  Hannah was not stressing in the least for she thought, The baby will come when the baby’s ready to come!


And then Monday afternoon, which in fact was Labor Day, Hannah delivered our second daughter, Robyn Leigh Rothermel, at Desert Samaritan Hospital in Mesa.

As with Molly, to save $200, we had opted not to add Hannah to my health insurance as a teacher for the local Tempe Schools.  You see, back in the day the total bill for pre-natal care, hospital delivery, and pediatrician follow-up would be just $1000!   A classic case of penny wise, pound super-foolish.   Fortunately, Hannah had no complications with the delivery; but it’s quite clear that we two were not the sharpish knives in the drawer.

In the New York Times on the day of Robyn’s birth on September 7, 1981, these were some highlights


Army Reporting Key Gains in Recruiting and Readiness.  This was an interesting foreshadowing to Robyn’s enlistment in the US Army in 2003 and her subsequent 15-month deployment to Afghanistan during the height of the war.   She and her grandfather (my dad) were our only close family members (my parents’ kids and all the grandchildren) who served in the military.  My mother did work for the USO in Guam during World War II


Mount St. Helens

New Eruption Reported at Mount St. Helens.   Who knew what might be on the horizon?  The previous year on May 18, 1980, a major volcanic eruption blew the top off Mount St. Helens in southwest Washington.  That was the first eruption to occur in the continental US since the 1915 eruption of Lassen Peak in California.  Years later (2014), Hannah and I hiked Mt. St. Helens.  Click here for the link to the first of three Mt. St. Helens blogs.

The day after Robyn’s birth, Stephen King (Maine’s own) published Cujo, the horror novel about a crazed St. Bernard.  A youthful sixty-nine like myself, Stephen King has sold over 350,000,000 books. I’ve sold nearly a thousand.

In 1981, a loaf of bread was $0.54, milk was $1.69 per gallon and gas was $1.13 per gallon.

Raiders of the Lost Ark was the top grossing film at $212M.  Chariots of Fire won the Academy Award for best picture.


Betty Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes was the top song of 1981.  Woman by John Lennon was #21.  Spookily, John Lennon was killed the previous year on December 8, 1980, almost nine months to the day before Robyn was born.  This may be TMI, but for those of you math majors, you can see Robyn was quite possibly conceived on that auspicious date.

For most of the country, September 7, 1981 was just another Labor Day Monday at the start of the school year.  For us, Robyn burst into our life, evening the playing field as there was now one kid to each parent.  Why would we have a third and be out numbered?   But we did.  (Next week’s final chapter of Dan and Hannah Remember…”


Dan and Hannah Remember August 5, 1979

For the first five years of our marriage, Hannah and I lived the sunshine life in Tempe, Arizona (part of Phoenix’s Valley of the Sun).  While Hannah went to grad school in nursing and later in counseling at Arizona State University, I taught fourth, then sixth grade in the Tempe Elementary Schools.  As we knocked on the door of our thirties, we decided that we were ready for kids of our own.  It seems the universe had other plans.

After two years of trying, we came up empty.   We were done trying.  Bummed, we even thought of moving to Montana.  True story.  And then in January of 1979, we learned that Hannah was pregnant thanks to a carefree November weekend in California.  Who knew?  Though Hannah’s pregnancy had the usual first trimester fatigue, but no morning sickness, she kept up her five miles of daily running well into her ninth month.  Our plan was that when our first child was born, we would buy newspapers from that day to commemorate it.


Desert Samaritan Hospital in Mesa, Arizona

More than ready, nearly nine months into her pregnancy, Hannah had rumblings aplenty throughout the first Saturday morning in August.  Driving her to Desert Samaritan Hospital in Mesa some five miles from home, I had no idea what the next twelve hours would bring.  What first time parent does?   Psyched for the action to begin in the early afternoon, we waited in an appropriately named “waiting room;” soon we learned that her uterus was not in a dilating mood.   Hannah’s due date was three days away, so we were sent home; we decided to go by way of Phoenix – a major miscalculation.


The booths of Riazzi’s Italian Garden

Driving to Riazzi’s Italian Garden just over the Salt River Bridge into Phoenix that early evening, we ordered chicken parmigiana and lasagna.  Such a rookie mistake.  For literally half the meal, Hannah crouched under the table at our booth doubled over in pain.  Even so, we both kept eating.   Eight hours later, the error of our ways would come home to roost.

With contractions getting serious, we returned to the hospital early that evening; Hannah’s dilations were making progress toward the magic number of 10.  Saturday Night Live with Ricky Nelson kept Hannah distracted as contractions got closer and closer; that coincided with every last bit of lasagna coming north as we approached the midnight hour.  By 230A, Molly Melinda Rothermel came asinging into the world.  Ready or not, and more not than ready, we set off on the adventure of our lives.


Ours was by choice!

And by the way, funny story (in retrospect).  We had no health insurance!   Never gave a thought to the possibility of complications.   As a teacher for the Tempe Elementary Schools making $15K, I would have to pay $100 per month to add Hannah to my health insurance.

Since all prenatal care and doctor visits, hospital costs around the delivery, and post birth care by the pediatrician would be just $800, we both agreed that to save the $400 we would not to put Hannah on my health insurance.  The universe shook its head, smiled down, and let this Grand Oversight slide.  A beautiful, happy, healthy Molly made us a family of three.


From the newspapers we bought on the day of Molly’s birth, The Arizona Republic reported these stories.

At the top of the front page, it had the weather predicted for the day (high of 105F and low of 68F).  Headlines above the fold were not page turners – Debate renewed on sports arena for Civic Plaza and Gulf oil spill nears US coast.)  Boring!


Turning to the Arizona Magazine section with the cover story about tubing down the Gila River, I noticed eight pages of ads for cigarettes (e.g., Camel Lights, Winston Filters)!  Eight years before in 1971, Congress had banned the advertising of cigarettes on television and radio so print media reaped the rewards and did its best to seduce a generation of smokers.

In the entertainment section, movie ads included Escape from Alcatraz with Clint Eastwood, Sunburn with Farrah Fawcett, Rocky II with Sylvester Stallone, and Meatballs with a young Bill Murray.

Sydney Omarr in the Astrological Forecast said if August 5 is your birthday, you are attractive to the opposite sex; your ability to communicate leads you into the media and success in print.  (Molly does write regularly as a math educator.)   You have a lively curiosity – you often have more questions than answers. (She clearly passed that gene on to our grandsons, Owen and Max!)

In the Sun Living section, there were ads for houses in Knoll Gardens on Baseline Road in Tempe, where we lived.  New homes were priced from the mid-$40s (i.e., $40,000).  Six years earlier, Hannah and I had bought our first 3 bedroom house on a fenced-in quarter acre lot in Tempe for $21,000, that was fully-furnished.


That Sunday morning, I also bought the mammoth Sunday New York Times, which cost $0.85 cents in the New York Metropolitan area and $2.50 in Tempe, Arizona.

The lead was A New Government is Formed in Italy.   Not quite, Man walks on the Moon.  Within the first section, there was an article, Study Finds 10 States Will Afford the Best Life for Retirees.   It turned out Arizona was one of the ten.  With retirement nowhere on our radar, we would move two plus years later to New England.   Our adopted state of Maine was not on the list, yet that is where we will retire, save for a few winter months somewhere warm.  We are soft.


An ad titled It’s Better in the Bahamas.  Starting at $82 a Week!  On Nassau, you can get lovely accommodations for 7 nights and an island sightseeing tour for $82 to $303.  Those were the days!

The Arts and Leisure section advertised $9 and $11 tickets for an upcoming Grateful Dead concert at Madison Square Garden.


The cost of a first class stamp was $0.15, a gallon of gas was $0.86, and a gallon of milk was $1.62.

60 Minutes was the top rated television show.  #2 was Three’s Company, #5 was M.A.S.H., and #6 was Dallas.

Fact is, August 5, 1979 was pretty much like any other day that summer, except for the highlight – Molly Melinda Rothermel came into the world.

The preview picture of Molly for this blog was taken during her running of the Boston Marathon ten years ago.








Dan and Hannah Have Grandson Fever

Ever since our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip moved north from Virginia to Massachusetts with our grandsons, Owen and Max, we are living the dream.

Below are three 12 seconds or less videos of our preschoolers for you to catch a glimpse of what we experience on a weekly basis.

First, the acrobatic four-year-old Owen.

And now his equally athletic two and a half-year-old brother, Max, ready to take the place of a certain New England Patriot quarterback.

Finally, during the last week of December 2016, Owen takes flight thanks to his Unkie (Will) –

The featured picture to open the blog is Owen and Max toasting their Omi with the morning glory muffins she made for them.



Dan Updates the Recent Wedding Present and Gratitude Blogs

My two recent blogs of “Wedding Present Giving” and “My Gratitudes for 2016” prompted a number of brief responses.  They are so good that I bring them to you for your perusal.


Our niece Tara on her recent wedding day with her dad Glenn

Re: Wedding present blog – After a friend read this blog, she related an experience that I hadn’t thought of.  She allowed me to post her response.

Also a dear college roommate of my mom’s writes of my mom and dad’s wedding back in 1945.

If you would like to read these additions to that blog click on this link https://over60hiker.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/dan-and-hannah-and-the-21st-century-wedding-present/


Re: Gratitude blog.  A fellow blogger took up my challenge to her to write her own gratitudes.  She surprised me with her insights.  Have you ever considered your hands and your doubts as gratitudes?   She does, and there’s more.   It’s worth the read.   Click on this link for her blog  https://countdown2coloradotrail.wordpress.com/2016/12/30/list-of-gratitudes/