Ben Thomas Jr.
Mayor of Greencastle
Ben Thomas Jr.

I want to pay tribute to the recent passing of Greencastle resident and nationally known historian Ted Alexander. It’s not about his death; it’s about his lifelong contributions to us.

I was privileged to call Ted my friend. He was called upon to serve on the Veterans Memorial Committee and spearheaded the research of those from the Greencastle-Antrim area who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation. I was privileged to interview Ted and several Vietnam veterans as part of the Old Home Week Reminiscing series as hosted by the Allison-Antrim Museum several years ago. Ted was a Marine and, if memory serves me correctly, served two tours in country.

His historic memory was better than searching the internet. I so enjoyed watching Ted on many occasions give lectures about historic events. You could see his mental research being orated by his facial expressions. As a reader of history I often refer to his and his uncle William P. Conrad’s writings.

I spend some long days and evenings in the Gettysburg area as part of my employment there. As I was driving home late one evening recently, I listened to an interview with famed collegiate football Coach Lou Holtz, who recently lost his wife of 59 years to cancer. Lou said the tributes to Beth’s death poured in by the thousands. Coach Holtz’s words were quite forthright. He said pay tribute to those you look up to while they're still living. I hope we did so while Ted blessed us with his knowledge of history. To wife Billy and family, on behalf of the citizens of Greencastle, thank you for sharing Ted with us. 

When I knew I would be off my feet (at least one foot) for several months in early March for surgery, I stocked up on reading materials. Unfortunately, I was pressed into service working from home due to COVID-19. Antrim Township resident LeErin Plasterer would see me at the famous Shady Grove Ruritan Club breakfasts. Gee, do I miss those breakfasts and the fellowship there! LeErin literally gave me a box of books for my reading pleasure. One historic treasure was the Gettysburg reunion of July, 1913 where an estimated 40,000 “old men” were present; the 50th anniversary of the battle that impacted the G-A community. Veterans of the blue and gray assembled that year on the battlefield. Stories were told that give chills to the reader. One veteran said he left his one arm down in the "Wheatfield" (amputation) but he’s used to it now. Union and Confederates in their 70s and 80s posed for pictures. President Woodrow Wilson attended and spoke under the July 4th shade in a large tent surrounded by the aging veterans. Thanks, LeErin, for sharing these wonderful readings. I promise you I’ll return them soon and bring the grandchildren out to see the tractors.

I recently wrote about the proposed Besore Library “rain garden” and suggested it be constructed as a joint inter-municipal venture. I now publicly apologize to the library board members as I thought this was an agreed to plan until council met on Monday, July 6. Thanks to the board members who attended the public meeting and let us know “the rest of the story.” I do believe the evening’s communication will bring a better understanding and successful completion to the storm water (SWM) project ... be it a “rain garden” or “bioretention basin” that was approved on the original land development plan. I am also hopeful the community can use the grant funds committed by state Sen. Judy Ward for the stormwater project.

Yes indeed ... I’m a doin’ some side porch sittin’ this afternoon. I spent a couple of days watching the grandchildren set up their business plan with a lemonade and cookie stand at a yard sale on East Baltimore Street. Their concentration was incredible to watch as folks quenched their thirst from the hot days and enjoyed those delicious homemade cookies. Just as I was taught as a child, I’m teaching them to say “sir” or “ma’am.”

Congratulations to the unofficial “sidewalk days” weekend held July 11. It was good to see businesses being busy! In talking to some of the owners they were very pleased with the customer base that visited our beautiful community. Please stop in and visit the local businesses and support them as much as you can. I’ll be a thankin’ ya! Oops! Looks like some rains a comin’ so I’ll vacate the side porch sittin’ for now. Write to you soon.