Joseph Strysko, Bowler, Square Dancer

I often think of what the world will be like when all of the veterans and war heroes die. Our society and the little town I live in are full of these guys, many of whom are still married to the woman they met three or four or even five decades ago.

I read about Joseph Stryszko today. He died at 80, a lifelong Northampton resident. He served in the Korean war, worked at UMass in HVAC for 25 years and bowled. He bowled for 50 years in the Pioneer Bowling League. The book Bowling Alone tried to explain why fewer and fewer of us bowl. We aren’t joiners, like Joseph was. I like this guy too because he loved square dancing, and camping. He was a member of the Dancing Shadows Square dancing club.

If you read an obit of a younger man, you won’t find references like this. Few of us bowl, or join square dancing clubs, or were married for 56 years until our wives, like Betty Reed did, passed away about ten months ago. I don’t know anyone my age who can make statements like these.
We lose a great deal because of this fact. I think guys who spent time in the Army are going to be better citizens than ones who didn’t.

I’d love to see some sort of national service put into place, where we demand a little more of those young men and women just getting to adulthood. I read a book once about Brooklyn, and it said that when EMTs and fireman come to put out a fire, the many young men who mill about are dying to be asked to do something. To be put to use, to serve, however briefly, as the fire is fought. They don’t know that many men who go to jobs everyday, so they are envious and hoping to be noticed by the firemen.

It would be a good way to harness this vast pool of energy and put it to use to help society. Maybe Obama will have a similar approach.