Sailing Surprise Birthday

Larry Alan Smith (far left) of Avon, Connecticut surprised his wife Margarita (at the wheel) with a birthday sail in 2014 off Yorktown.

Among the family attending were their son Chris (William & Mary ’07), a former executive with JP Morgan Chase who’s starting a micro-brewery in Williamsburg; and their son Will, (W&M ’14) who’s majoring in government to work on African issues.

He’s also captain of the college soccer team, which has a good shot at the NCAA tournament. They have two more sons. One plays the oboe in a professional orchestra, and the other plays right wing for the NHL champion Chicago Blackhawks. With boys of this magnitude, maturity and poise, it was a happy 60th for Mom.Sailing Surprise Birthday

National Disgrace

Over the course of the sailing season, hundreds of guests articulated many problems facing America today. The worst was Congress for acting dysfunctional, followed by insurance companies for capricious rate hikes. Significant criticism fell on the banks, whose overly tight credit squeezes newcomers out. That in turn becomes aggravated by stupidly bureaucratic behavior that makes bankers impossible to work with on short sales. We live on houseboats that are taking on water.

Here’s a typical story. Sean Kossman invests in college condos in Blacksburg. To complete an ordinary deal, he had to pony up $20,000 into his bank account to meet some unstated, arbitrary minimum. He stopped everything that day, went out and found the money, deposited it, and then encountered another delay by the bank. “Your account has been flagged because a large sum of money was recently deposited.”

Battle of the Hook

While his brother Henry Gaston adroitly sailed in a stiff and blustery breeze on the York River, John Gaston explained to family and crew the Battle of the Hook at GlouceBanistrester Point in 1781. Lord Cornwallis assigned his brave young warrior Lt. Col. Bannistre Carlton to take on the Allies during the thick of the Battle of Yorktown, across the river.

Carlton fell wounded in the event and did not return to command, still in his 20s. Henry’s telling defied my feeling that history can’t be taught to high school students because it’s too much rote memory. The boy’s father, David Gaston, has himself become an educator. He refuted that by saying kids can learn history if the story is told in a compelling way. John proved the point.

Let’s Go Sailing on a Surprise Birthday

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