Many years ago I sat on a porch and rocked, writing a poem about being Grand Again, words of a man that called a hotel on Mackinac Island a friend, but more than this a beginning and end.

Last night I sat on the porch of Iron Gate and rocked, visited by a friend, and of God we talked. Some young people stopped in to say hi, causing me to think of those days gone by. One read Grand Again aloud, and there I sat in the crowd, thinking how fortunate we were all to be at Iron Gate, a grand place to which I came late.

But better to come late than not at all, a thought which is meant to make men like I to stand tall. And isn’t it said to our last breath we can repent, perhaps it is I for which this is meant. I have regrets, and I fear for those who do not, because without regret repentance is not.

I spoke to the young people about the great man that built Iron Gate, and explained that my coming was indeed a matter of fate. They didn’t know much about J.P. Baden, surprising for a name so far laden. Laden with accomplishments so much greater than most, it is a humbling legacy to which I play host.

Success of the spirit, success of the family, success of the community, greatness dwelled in this place, I told the youth as we stood face to face. But understand this well, you must once again amongst greatness dwell. Your talent is a blessing, do not betray yourselves and do not betray God who gave it to you.

And back to the porch from the lawn we walked and then it was of show tunes we talked. They on the rail and me in my rocker, the perfect place for a storyteller talker. I was at the last Phantom with Sir Andrew and the great Sarah, absolutely the greats of my era. I was there with Kasey, I probably would not have gone if not for her, and there should be music at Iron Gate, even if I did show up late.

The young people left, and like just before, I sat in the rocker close to the door. As I spoke to my friend the cat frolicked joyfully around and repeatedly from my lap it jumped down. And yes we talked late into the night, mostly about what’s wrong and what’s right.

And there is right.

The porch of Iron Gate was built by a great man so very long ago, but his desire was for each and every one of us our own greatness to know. He built a church, a hospital, a college and much of the town, and I thought about this too as I sat and looked round. The porch of the Grand along time ago I did see, but today it is the porch of the Iron Gate that is me.





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