I feel really terrible.

I mean, here it is, September of the year 2015, a year and not quite two months away from the next presidential election, and I haven’t made fun of any of the losers who are spending gazillions of dollars already, ostensibly hoping to become the next Leader of the Free World.

I am not privy to the inner workings of presidential politics, so I’ve never known if the obvious losers actually realize from the beginning — as we all do — that they don’t stand a snowball’s chance in a pizza oven of coming close to winning. It’s clear that the candidates for the fringe parties — the Vegetarian Vegetable Party, the Green Beans Party, the Silly Putty Party — must understand they will never, ever win. They rarely have a chance of winning a local dog catcher election, yet they do run campaigns, spending good money for what? To make a point, I suppose. It’s frankly lost on me.

Of course, you must understand that I do not like politics and politicians. I have some friends and acquaintances who have run for or hold public office. I’m not sure why I still like them. I’ve told many of them that the esteem in which I hold them has lessened because of their political standing.

Look at all these Republican presidential candidates, for instance. I look at them as if they were conspiracy theories: a tiny bit of logic wrapped in a pound of crazy.  Each of the GOP candidates is majorly flawed. Everyone figured Donald Trump would be a two-time clown, but surprise! His clown car is running on high-octane fuel and lots of people are jumping on his campaign bus. The Donald may be a buffoon, but, hey! Just maybe he isn’t as fringe as we thought.

Speaking of losers, Chris Christie.  (That’s it. That’s the whole sentence.)

Losers and clowns aren’t exclusive to the GOP.  It was, at some point, a gimme that Hillary Clinton would be the next Democrat to run for the presidency. But now, with her campaign disintegrating all around her, I wonder if she’ll make it to the convention.

And Joe Biden. Everyone like Joe Biden, but nobody seems to respect him.

Personally, I don’t believe the President of the United States needs to know everything about everything. The Leader of the Free World needs, above all else, to be a leader. He can hire people who know everything about everything as advisors and make educated decisions based on their counsel.

Sadly, I see no real leaders among the candidates. Not yet.


Well, this was a sort of wasted summer. I mean, I’ve only seen one woman in a bikini and that was at the pool, back in the spring, so technically, I’m not sure it counts.

Of course, I don’t see all that many bikinis any more. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been to an honest-to-goodness beach, which, let’s face it, is where one finds people wearing bikinis.

I started going to RiverWinds pool when my doctor said I should walk in water for what we thought was arthritis in both hips. I hate water — well, I hate getting wet. But I realized I had to try it, so I joined the fitness center at RiverWinds.

It was something I was doing three times a week, going early in the morning, walking a little, then sitting in the Jacuzzi.

Then I discovered I had some physical problems and would need surgery. Suddenly, the pool wasn’t as important. (But, at least I did get to see that one attractive woman in her bikini.)

So I haven’t been back to the pool there for awhile.

More recently, I have been spending a lot of time sitting at RiverWinds Point, the little park right on the Delaware River. I find the river soothes me, allows me to enjoy a certain amount of serenity and peace. Nothing heavy, just healing for me.

It was almost obsessive, I guess. But then, last week, I was too busy on Monday and Tuesday to get there and, on Wednesday, felt too tired. That’s my major side effect from the chemo — fatigue.

And Wednesday night, I experienced my first bout with nausea since beginning chemotherapy a couple of weeks ago. I felt kind of sick even going into the weekend.

I know there are still plenty of days to enjoy the river at RiverWinds Point and can envision myself sitting there even on cold days (although not during the dead of winter.)

So I hope this week I feel good enough to return to the river. No, no bikinis there for sure, but I still enjoy the gentle lapping of the river waves on the pebbled beach.

And that’s certainly not a waste of summer.


Well, today, I will be having minor surgery at Inspira Medical Center, Woodbury.

My surgeon, Dr. John Erbicella, the guy who successfully removed that nasty fistula on my colon back in June, will be implanting an infusion port just under my left clavicle.

I thought this port would be a visible doodad poking through my skin, some kind of plastic knick-knack. It’s not. It is embedded under my skin. When I start chemotherapy next Monday at MD Anderson/Cooper in Voorhees, under the watchful eye of Dr. Marjan Koch, they will theoretically just stick a small needle through the skin into that port, making the infusion of the chemo much easier.

So, I’m ready. I have two, count ’em, two different nausea medications at the ready in case the chemo makes me nauseous. I have instructions about taking my temperature on a regular basis, staying very hydrated, when to call the doctor, night-time 24-hour phone numbers, and so forth.

Chemo might make me sick. Might make me very tired. Might cause my hair to fall out — even though I usually shave my head, I could lose my bushy eyebrows. (I read in the chemo instructions that some medical insurance pays for a wig for patients who lose their hair. I’ve been having fun asking people what kind of wig I should get. The answers range from Beatles’ hair to Harpo Marx wigs.)
So, I don’t have any idea how chemo is going to affect me.

The notion is that after six months, the doctors hope the cancer on my ureter and bladder will have shrunk some. Then, we’ll consider surgery that would remove my non-functional left kidney, the ureter and my bladder. THAT sounds like even bigger major surgery than what I went through in June.

But February is six or so months away. Who knows how things will go until then.

I know some of my readers have been with me for many, many years. I’ve always been honest about my life, so I feel obliged to share everything that’s happening with all of you.

I have an incredible support system, scores of people who have offered help or rides or prayers, all the things I will be needing. It makes me feel exceptionally lucky.

So, buckle up, my friends. This is going to be one helluva ride!

By Cliff Henderson

Special to Gloucester County Online

Author Carol Ford wasn’t even born when Hogan’s Heroes debuted on CBS back in 1965, and she was barely out of diapers when the show ended its primetime run in the spring of 1971. Yet she carries a torch almost as bright as the sun for the show’s star Bob Crane.

Most people know very little about Crane, other than his role on Hogan’s Heroes, that he began his career in radio in the 1950s, or that his life ended tragically in 1978 with his still-unsolved murder. But that’s about to change with the upcoming release of Ford’s new book, Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, scheduled to hit bookstore shelves on September 17th.

So, what’s this I hear about the pope coming to Philadelphia?

Yeah, of course I know he’s coming. It’s not because I’m a big fan of the pope, even though this one has the appearance so far of being a bit more down-to-earth than any of his predecessors (unfortunately, that’s still not really anywhere near being down-to-earth in terms of the rest of the world.)

Aside from how important the pope is to millions of Roman Catholic faithful, he also sets an example that isn’t always the best example. Sure, Pope Francis reportedly lives in more austere quarters than the papal apartments inhabited by those who came before him, but even his “austere” circumstances are beyond the reach of common poor folks.

This trip to Philadelphia, for instance, demonstrates an inherent  arrogance the important and privileged people of the world have for the rest of us.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard or read about it. Authorities preparing for the pope’s September visit are shutting down major portions of Philadelphia and, it appears, will be making it impossible — not difficult, but impossible — for many “little people” to get to work for a couple of days.

No, really! This is not just me exaggerating to be humorous. Certain public transportation will be by advance pass only. A three-square-mile section of the city will be closed off — you can drive out, but not back in.

And the Ben Franklin Bridge will be closed from Friday afternoon until Monday. You can walk across the bridge, though. I wonder if they’ll be collecting tolls for pedestrians!

I have actually heard people argue that these restrictions will not be oppressive, because they will take place over the weekend. Hello! If you or someone you know works on weekends, please raise your hand!

As I understand it, the pope will be in Philadelphia for a large Catholic gathering and it is the organization staging the event that will actually pay the estimated $45 million all this will cost. Officials insist taxpayers will not pay for any of the extra security or any of the other preparations for the pope’s visit.

I am lucky enough to not have to try to get anywhere special the weekend of the pope’s visit, so I won’t especially miss being able to use the Ben Franklin Bridge or being able to get into downtown Philadelphia.

But the first folks who think they can park in my driveway so they can go see the pope are getting towed, you can bet on that!

By the time you read this, I will have had my second chemotherapy infusion.

The first was last Monday. I went to the MD Anderson/Cooper campus in Voorhees and chose a big, green recliner in the crowded infusion room. It was encouraging to note that, even though there are privacy curtains hanging at each chair, no one was hiding behind one.

My nurse, Marge, just happened to be my nurse — luck of the draw, kind of. She was hilarious. We share the same sense of humor and she couldn’t have made it easier for me during what was an anxious moment, that first chemo treatment.

She painlessly put a needle into the chemo port I’d had surgically implanted just under my clavicle on my left side — meant to make IV infusion all that much easier.

The folks there really make every effort to make this chemo thing work flawlessly. She gave me three IV bags of different anti-nausea medications before ever starting to give me chemo.

I was in the chair for about three hours. My Closest  Companion, who has been with me for everything, sat with me — even went down to the first-floor café and got me a Café Americano to drink.

I’d brought my iPad and a novel. Using the center’s WiFi, I read and posted to Facebook while having my chemo session.

Then it was finished for the first day. Marge took the needle out, I made some future appointments and we left.

Was I nauseous? Nope. In fact, we stopped at the Short Hills Deli and I had a cheeseburger for late lunch.

Maybe I’m just lucky. I really haven’t noticed any nausea and the only thing that might be a side effect is that I seem more tired than usual.

But I still look fabulous — all that sitting at the river has left me with a great tan! (Now that I’m taking chemo, I have to use sun block and stay out of direct sunlight, but I’ll look good until my tan fades.)

So, you’ll see this after my second chemo session. So far, so good.

Two down, 16 to go!

The United States is normalizing its relationship with Cuba after 50 years of being, shall we say, standoffish.

In 1962, for 13 days while I was starting my junior year on high school, the world teetered on the brink of nuclear war during what was known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. We even had a kid come into our class whose family had just fled Cuba.

At the time, I had no idea we were that close to World War III.

Nevertheless, when Fidel Castro aligned himself with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, diplomatic relations with the U.S. were discontinued.

So, for more than five decades, we have been at odds with the tiny republic 90 miles off our Florida coast.

Now, we’re reopening an embassy there. Americans will be allowed to go there again. And Cuban cigars will once again be legal to purchase in the United States.

For many people, the impending availability of Cuban cigars is the most important thing to come out of this change.

(We must also remember that JoAnn Chesimard, who was convicted of murdering New Jersey State Police Trooper Werner Foerster in May 1973, escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba in 1984, is still being given asylum there and will have to be returned to the U.S. now.)

But while everyone is waxing poetic about the incoming flood of real Cuban cigars, I think we here in the States should be trying to entice Cuban auto mechanics to come to this country.

You scoff? Think about it, friend. Since we embargoed Cuba in the early 1960s, no new American cars have been allowed into the country. Look at photos from Cuba and you see antique American cars, in impeccable condition and, apparently, running in tip-top condition.

For 50-some years, somebody had to be fixing and maintaining those cars in running condition. They’re not sporting antique car plates, folks — these are cars used for everyday transportation, so they need to be running in great condition.

So, think about how welcome these genius mechanics would be in this country?

I’m getting older and don’t smoke, so I’m not excited about Cuban cigars. Cuban mechanics, on the other hand, are a different story.

The B-24 was flying high above North Africa.

The crew members, as usual because of the low temperature at high altitude, were wearing fur-line leather jackets and trousers.

Sixie, the ball-turret belly gunner, was curled up tightly in his plexiglas bubble. At least once the 5-foot, 7-inch gunner had gotten frozen into his cramped position and had to be lifted out of the bubble.

Sixie was color blind. When he signed up for the Army Air Corps, he had to pass an eye test: peering at a page of colored dots, you had to make out a number hidden in the colors. He passed the test courtesy of a tall guy behind him who whispered the numbers to Sixie.

Now, though, over North Africa, he was able to make out the lush green of the terrain below.

Except … Well, just now he’d seen a large square area in the green that  wasn’t green, but gray.

“Hey, Tex,” he called to a another crew member. “Did you see that?”

“See what?” said the big Texan.

“That gray square down there,” Sixie said.

Only Sixie had seen the geographical anomaly.

Tex passed the word forward to the pilot.

The pilot thought, as did Sixie and Tex, that a big gray square in the forest was a bit unusual.

So he turned the lumbering B-24 Liberator around and flew back to where Sixie saw the gray in the green. The navigator and bombardier targeted the square area — which, as it turned out, apparently was made up of camouflage overhang — and the pilot ordered them to dump everything they had onto the area.

The area lit up like a fourth of July fireworks show. Explosion after explosion as the bombs detonated what turned out to be one of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s biggest ammunition and fuel depots.

Sixie had scored a major strike for the 8th Air Force of the U.S. Army Air Corps over North Africa, thanks to his color blindness.

And that’s how my dad helped save the world.

My Closest Companion has been making sure I get out and get exercise as I recuperate from surgery.

Even though I’d been out running a couple of errands Friday, she suggested that, when she got home from work, we could go out to the Gloucester County 4-H Fair for a short time.

I agreed it was a terrific idea. I told her I could sit on a bench in the shade if walking got to be too much for me.

“Oh, you can just schmooze,” she said. I scoffed at her notion that I would know that many people at the fair. I told her that I did not really expect to run into people I knew.

So, she drove my car up to the parking attendant on the way in. He read my vanity license plate and joked that she didn’t look like Jim Six. Turns out the first — the very first — person we ran into was a Marine who knows me.

We walked a bit and then I sat down on a bench outside a pavilion while my Closest Companion went inside. She went in and Chuck Gill came out. The former Gloucester County sheriff is a certified gardener now and had been manning a table inside since 7 a.m. He expressed concern about my health and we, ahem, schmoozed for a little bit.

Then we went for something to eat, where I was accosted by Paul Blackstock, who insisted he didn’t recognize me, because I’d lost so much weight, but that he recognized my Hawaiian shirt. Nearby, of course, was his better half, Bernadette.

I sat down at a picnic table while my Closest Companion got our food — and Mantua cop and good guy Jeff Leach sat down with his two kids. We had a delightful meal with them.

So, as usual, my Closest Companion knew best. I don’t know why I didn’t just nod my head and agree in the first place.