Farewell, Hanover, you will be missed

Farewell, Hanover, you will be missed

September 25, 2019

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by Murray Brown

Please forgive me as I digress from a mostly harness racing column to a mostly personal one.

As of Sept. 14, 2019, I am no longer a resident of Hanover, PA.

I and my family have lived in this lovely borough since March 15, 1966. It is a place that has been ultra-kind to me and my family — one for which I feel nothing but gratitude and to which I owe a large personal debt.

My three children were born and raised here, as were two of my five grandchildren. My three California grandkids have also spent many fruitful hours there. I am sure they regard it as their second home.

When we first arrived, my late wife Marlene went kicking and screaming.

There was no way that she wanted to move from metropolitan and soigne Montreal to what she then regarded as a “hick town” with less than 15,000 residents.

She realized that not only would it become the place where her husband would make his living, but that it would also be a fulfillment of a lifetime dream for him.

She was prepared, but not all that happy to leave her family and friends in Montreal to a new environment where she knew no one.

Eventually, of the two of us, she grew to love Hanover and life in Hanover more than even I.

I was the lucky one. I was fulfilling a lifetime dream indulging in my passion, harness racing, and getting paid to do it — perhaps most importantly, in the area of it that most interested me, the breeding of the horses that make the industry run.

In addition, I was lucky in not only living in a wonderful place, but I also was to gain the freedom of mixing life living on and later near the world’s greatest breeding farm with the ability to travel to racetracks throughout the world and meet and interact with hundreds and perhaps thousands of harness racing devotees throughout a 52 plus year period. It was truly a dream come true.

I lived that dream for decades.

I was so fortunate to meet so many great people, both in and out of the industry. I made several friends with whom I shared a lifetime.

All was not wine and roses though.

I lost Marlene to that horrible addiction called tobacco, just a few months short of our 40th anniversary. Damned cigarettes!

But I was also so very lucky to hit the jackpot a second time when I met my lovely life partner Sweet Carol Stein, less than two years after the loss of Marlene.

We have now been together almost 14 years.

Up to this point it has been a rather unusual relationship.

Carol is in no way a small town girl. To quote my favorite poet, Neil Diamond, “She’s New York City born and raised.” Not exactly and not altogether New York City, but certainly always a big city woman.

There was no way she would, at that stage in her life, even consider moving to a rural environment.

There was no way that I would expect or even want her to.

I was still living the dream. I’d be in my adopted community of Hanover from Sunday through Thursday doing what I loved doing. Then I’d get into my car and drive to NYC and spend time with my love in the big city, still doing what I loved doing until Sunday, when as I told people, Carol got tired of me being around and sent me back to Hanover.

In recent years, I’ve spent the winter months in Florida indulging myself, not only with the good weather, but more importantly with being able to go to the training centers there almost daily and be able to watch the progress of the 2-year-olds in training — another fantasy fulfilled, not only for the horses, but also for the ability to interact with numerous other harness racing addicts.

Saturday morning at “The Deck” from January through March is usually the highlight of my week.

Carol and I both retired this year and we made the life altering decision to buy a home in Florida and live there for the majority of the year. Tentatively, we would like to rent something furnished in the New York metropolitan area and live there up to three months during the summer.

The main reason for this change is that New York is just too darned expensive for people living on a fixed income. It costs me $55 dollars a night just to park my car.

New York is just not my bag of tea for permanent residence. I like all that the city has to offer. But I cannot imagine myself living here for an entire week or two, let alone in any state of permanence.

This doesn’t necessarily apply to Carol, but it does for me.

I have quite a few friends and generally enjoy Florida life more, especially with regard to the weather, than I do New York.

I have access to two of the passions in my life — horses and basketball.

My friends, Myron and Jeffrey Bell have me involved with a bunch of basketball junkies who meet for weekly Tuesday breakfasts at a place called Poppies in Boca Raton. The group is mostly comprised of former players and coaches from the Northeast.

The house in Hanover has now been sold.

We are living in NYC and are house shopping in South Florida.

Our present plan is to rent the same apartment in Highland Beach, FL as we have for the last several years.

Even if we are lucky enough to find a home that meets with Carol’s standards, there will undoubtedly have to be adjustments made to meet her exacting requirements.

I would be totally remiss if I didn’t thank those who have made my Hanover life so wonderful through the years.

They include, but are not necessarily limited to, Dr A W Patterson Jr, who made life so acceptable to some newbies coming to live in a community so different than that from which we were used to, Lawrence Sheppard who gave this kid a chance, Artie Silverman, who I suspect pulled a few strings behind the scenes, John Simpson Sr who was a surrogate father and a great teacher. Life wasn’t always easy with him, but what you saw was what you got. The good was far, far better than any possible bad. Dr Peter Boyce, a good friend and a terrific horseman, Dr Bridgette Jablonsky, the same as Peter and in my opinion the best farm manager around today, Dr Garner Greenhoff, a great veterinarian, Paul E Spears, a man who trusted me to do my job, but woe was me if and when I screwed up, Eddie Miller one of the best horsemen I’ve ever known, Ralph Lemmon, a dear friend and a genuinely good guy who was the best at what he did, Dale Welk, a terrific guy, who does a great job with every job entrusted to him; also some terrific friends like Moe Graif, Fred Grant, Geoff Stein, David Reid, Bob Boni, Myron Bell, Frank “The Elder” Antonacci and many others too numerous to mention.

I’ve been truly blessed.

Have a question for The Curmudgeon?
Reach him by email at: hofmurray@aol.com

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