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Charles Meredith: Did you notice the bow tie?


Dear Friends,

Good morning. The first thing that I noticed at the Nov. 13 congressional impeachment hearing against President Trump was that George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, was wearing a bow tie. Good grief! Any politician knows that you can’t trust a man who wears a bow tie.

That’s exactly what the Bucks County Republican organization told me when I ran for the county commissioners’ chair in 1966. I told the powers-that-be then, and now, you faithful readers that I’ve been wearing bow ties since the 12th grade of my high school.

At the Hill School, all students wore coat and tie to all classes and meals. The rules specified that none of us could wear a bow tie until we got into the 12th grade.

I was so proud to have made it to the 12th grade that I wore nothing but bow ties … still do … leading my friends to constantly remind me that I never got over getting to the 12th grade.

Here’s what the New York Times wrote about George Kent’s bow tie:

“Amid all the debate and various through-the-mirror interpretations of Day 1 of the public impeachment inquiry, all the grandstanding, punditing and parsing of testimony, there was one surpassing point of fascination among the viewing public: the bow tie worn by George P. Kent, the State Department official in charge of Ukraine,” the article began.

“But it was impossible for many to ignore because, like the moment itself, it was singular; an anomaly in an anomalous time. And in that sense, it almost seemed to symbolize not just Mr. Kent himself but also the whole experience.

“Mr. Kent’s bow tie also looked hand-tied, listing slightly as if to underscore its own authenticity … and, maybe, that of the man who wore it.”

(Friends, my late father taught me to tie a perfect bow tie with no mirror and my eyes closed. After finishing, I’d purposely ruffle the edges to prove that the tie was not a clip-on, but hand tied.)

The final graph of the NYT article read: “The decision to go the bow tie route at a time when the eyes of the country would be on him, when the image of him in that tie was assured of becoming a part of history, was not a decision Mr. Kent could have made by accident. Which makes it hard to avoid the assumption that it was also a declaration of independence, of a sort.”

Turning to a different topic, Mighty Betsy and I attended the memorial service for David Keller, a Central Bucks resident who lived a long life with remarkable accomplishments. Dave was a banker, amateur Republican politician, singer, actor, philanthropist, historian and humorist.

His three children gave him a wonderful send-off at the Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville. (Fifty-five years ago, that sign above the front door was changed for a few weeks when M.B. graduated from Solebury School. In 1954, in the still of the night, her classmates used a step ladder and painted out the “B” in Bass!)

MB and I marveled at the number of old friends who came to Dave’s celebration. Some of them belong to an organization which Dave, several friends, MB and I created … “Grumbles,” a group of older couples who meet monthly at some nearby watering hole and complain about the government (local, state and national), religion, friends …most anything.

A few days ago, one of them wondered how America was divided race-wise? My Google search revealed that African Americans comprise 12.7 percent of the population; Hispanic Americans are 17.8 percent and white, non Hispanics or Latinos make up 61.3 percent. How long will it take for the white population to become the minority, I wondered.

Answer: the year 2044 … that’s just 25 years from now. You can understand why President Trump uses the race card to frighten his base. I’ll be 110 years old. I’m not worried. My bet is that we whites will be in the minority long before 2044. We’ll see.

Next week, MB and I will share a funny story from the 1960s when one of our pals fell into the cistern of his house and nearly drowned in the freezing water. Fortunately, it had a happy ending.

Many of our friends at David Keller’s service will remember it.

Sincerely, Charles Meredith