Happy 90th Birthday, Coach Blake!

90th birthday Blake

Is it Hump Day already?!

Happy Hump Day …. yeaaah! On an even happier note, today I would like to wish Maurice Blake a Happy 90th Birthday!!! Those of you who have been with me for over 500 blog posts now may remember my mentioning of a fantastic gentleman, coach and mentor, friend and athletic director at St. Paul’s School circa 1970’s. He was my football coach at SPS and truly like the second adult I met when shipped off to Concord, NH as part of a scholarship I had earned with the help of Daniel Woodard, Assistant Principal at White Plains High School who also worked with the Urban League of Westchester County … White Plains to be exact!

Yes, Coach Blake was my coach then for both football and basketball. He saw something in me that perhaps I didn’t see. As I worked in the office yesterday, this same “something” came out as I struggled to close some deals at my day job! It is the determination to succeed! Coach saw this in me back then, and, as me and others … Larry Woody, Jose Wiltshire, Kevin Gover, both Bobby Hipp and Mike Russell (RIP … boys) just to name a few … sought to integrate ourselves into the fabric of an all boys private Episcopalian boarding school in Concord, NH, Coach Blake was often there! Coach Blake, who had served in the US Armed Forces … Navy I believe … during World War II and had actually rubbed shoulders with some of the “Tuskeegee Airmen”, was much more than a coach!! While I had no idea back then, we have been friends for over 40 years now. He has been in my e-mail family for several years and, a few years ago, I had the privilege of meeting up with he and Mrs. Blake near Vero Beach for a lunch one Saturday afternoon at a rib restaurant there! I hadn’t seen him in many many years … and … there we were, snacking on fries and ribs at one of those roadside “joints” with finger licking ribs grilling!! It was something I will never forget. He is someone I will never forget!

Now, I had my Dad at home at that time, circa 1969, who I believe got a glimpse of Coach Blake during that first “Parent’s Weekend”. Ike and Mary drove from White Plains, NY to Concord, NH to see where their “baby boy” was going to school, and, got to see me play football as it was one of the highlights of “Parent’s Weekend” that autumn in New England at the preparatory school. I can remember some of the late practices that SPS Basketball had with me and the boys doing a “leap frog” drill for conditioning. Coach Blake was determined to help us integrate into that formerly “WASP” boarding school. That’s not to mention our red suede Converse sneakers and red wrist and head bands to accompany the new “red” basketball uniforms that Coach had ordered for us that year!!! After all, we were all “Big Red”, as the Pelicans of St. Paul’s were known on the gridiron and the basketball court, too! Coach helped to make SPS a “home away from home” for this teen-aged boy from The Winbrook Projects in White Plains. I thank you, Sir, for every moment of your time that you spent with me … coaching, mentoring, even consoling me when I missed that darn foul shot to end our basketball season my senior year …. I can only say how proud I am to know you, Sir, to have been amongst those young lives that you touched over your many years of coaching and directing athletic departments.



John I. Cook

Where Are You Going With This?!


Happy Monday, All!

Sum – sum – summertime for REAL, right?! Yes, with all of the hub bub going on in our world, it is hard to figure out ones purpose in life. Some things cause people to want to shift from their original focus or goals in life, which is good when necessary. That requires true awareness and insight into “knowing ones self”! Have you ever said something to someone, or, posted a comment on one of the “new age” communication networks … and gotten comments that were either harsh, off base or almost as if the person who commented had “interpreted” your comments in a way that you didn’t intend them? What does that do to your belief in being able to express yourself?

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure to live, I have found that communication is the key to the success of ANY relationship. On the other hand, LACK of communications will surely be the detriment to any relationship as well. I have had people question what I meant in a post or an e-mail or piece like this, and, what “they” thought I was saying was rather different than what I was intending to express. What causes such “misunderstandings”? Some folks don’t care to correct them … they just try to live out their fantasty that “I am always right!” and “I never misunderstand anything!” Oh, how fool hardy can one be! Sometimes, it is easy to see why the “attack” has come your way. Other times, you wonder what this “person” really thinks of you … Is it worth spending hours of your time each day trying to figure out why someone doesn’t like you?! Let’s choose a short answer … no … and then move on!

Yet, there are moments when ones lack of understanding of your intentions can be helpful to … yes, oneself – YOU! Take a moment or two to see if you could have offended anyone, or, if you could have said what you said a bit better. Then, after that, especially if you “know yourself” better than anyone else, let go of what doesn’t serve you and … move on! The journey is oh so short, and not worth spending precious time correcting the love in your heart or the desire to share peace and harmony with others so that some “one” feels better … about themselves … and even YOU! I know, this may be getting a bit deep for some of us, but it is something that I wanted to mention, as it happens to me occasionally. What about you? Do you “know thyself”? Me hopes so! If not, don’t tarry too long, folks!


John I. Cook

“One Never Knows, Do One!?!”

One Never Knows

Happy Friday, All!

It seems like it got here rather quickly … both Friday …. and the first day of August!!!! My, my, my …. time flies when you’re having fun … or are you?! I hope so. Try to borrow or steal some of your life back to have some simple fun every now and then. It doesn’t have to be fancy fun or dangerous, but just fun that puts a smile on your face!!!

These past few days, I have been thinking about my mother … Mary … who comes to me in times of trouble!!! She also comes to me when I am figuring out how to avoid trouble … and even comes to me when I am having a fine time! She’s here with me now! Peace be still . . . Our world today seems full of trouble, doesn’t it? One may wonder whom one can trust! One may wonder whom one can confide in! One may wonder why “one” does what “one” does! All in all … it seems … “One Never Knows, Do One?!” That phrase was coined by the legendary Thomas “Fats” Waller, born to a reverend and his wife in New York City circa 1904. My Mom … Mother Mary … was born in 1917 and often spoke of the different “Fats”, including “Fats” Domino, author of “The Thrill on Blueberry Hill”!

Those were tough times, too! I mean, my mother and father lived through the Great Depression, while being born just before World War I, and lived through World War II … shucks, even the Vietnam War!! That’s a whole lot of years. I also think of my boarding school coach, Maurice Blake, whose stories about World War II still keep me intrigued. He’s coming upon his 90th birthday next week. Okay, so I am feeling a bit disappointed in human kind because it seems “we” as an entity cannot get our stuff together … socially, politically, civilly even! When things go “wrong” for me, I become somewhat of an introvert, guarding myself against hostile forces and ideas. Nowadays, as I posted the photo of “Peace/Justice” in the midst of the yin yang symbol, I find my solace in peace while seeking justice for all. I don’t want to hurt anybody, not even with my words!! My goal is to help in the healing process of those I have the fortune to come into contact with. So, while one really never knows, may we seek the best for each other and do the best we can for civilization … and of course, be the best that we can be!

Have a wonderful Friday and a great weekend, Folks!


John I. Cook, Director

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