I’m at that sweet spot in life where I’m retired and young enough to do all the things I’ve dreamed about trying but seemingly didn’t have time for before. One of those plans was to spend time with each brother across the United States. That might not seem that difficult until I mention that all four Springer brothers are in a different time zone. (New Jersey, Minnesota, Colorado, and California.) Next time I’ll be writing about my brothers, but I had one more blogger that I especially wanted to meet before I linked up with them.
Those of you who follow Jim Borden at Borden’s Blather https://jborden.com/ already know what an entertaining blog Jim has. I would describe him as a bit of an eclectic blogger. He writes about a whole range of thought-provoking topics. One of the things I love about his blog is the incredible diversity and unpredictability. Jim calls it blather, but it’s like getting together with a buddy over a drink and talking about whatever is on your mind. In a short span, he wrote about the movies that made him cry, life’s most embarrassing moments, the Toy Hall of Fame, and the procrastination of his students. (Jim is an accounting professor at Villanova University near Philadelphia.) Each day is something completely different, and I find that refreshing.
I immediately liked him with his self-deprecating humor, unusual topics, obsession with Word Press stats, and his kind and courteous manner, always respecting his fellow bloggers. After a week of following him three years ago, I became one of his daily readers. I had probably known Jim for six months when I teased him one day and asked him if he was trying to become the Cal Ripken of blogging. I made my comment because Jim NEVER took a day off. Ripken was a professional baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles, and I later learned, Jim’s favorite player. He is in the Baseball Hall of Fame for being a star player, but what he is most famous for was never taking a day off, earning him the moniker “The Iron Man.” He holds the record of playing in 2,632 games in a row, blowing away the previous streak of 2,130 consecutive games by Lou Gehrig. There has only been one ballplayer since 1995 that has played 1,000 games in a row, so Ripken’s record is considered unbreakable.
Little did I know when I made that quip that Jim had already set a goal of breaking Cal Ripken’s record by blogging for more than 2,632 days in a row. As someone who writes a blog post on average every 7-10 days, it was unfathomable that someone could blog every day for more than seven years. What about when you travel? No problem. What if you’re sick? It didn’t stop Jim. How can you find something to write about every single day? He admits that was sometimes a challenge, but it did not deter him.
As Jim closed in on Ripken’s record during his last year of blogging, another impediment should have stopped him. He had an accident and fell and broke both of his wrists. With the help of his loving wife, Mary, Jim carried on. On March 17, 2022, Jim broke Ripken’s record of 2,632 days in a row! I knew that somebody with that kind of commitment was someone I had to meet.
Knowing it might be some time before I might get this opportunity again, I reached out to Jim and told him I would be in his neck of the woods and wondered if we could meet. He quickly said yes, but I also got way more than I had hoped for. I had a five-hour drive from Massachusetts, having just completed a fantastic experience in preschool teacher Jennie Fitzkee’s class. (See Part 1 of The Great Springer Brother Reunion Tour.) https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com/2022/05/20/the-springer-brothers-reunion-tour-part-1/
Jennie’s husband, Steve, had given me some travel tips about which route would get me to King of Prussia (a suburb of Philadelphia) most efficiently. Steve’s inside knowledge was better than Google Maps.
I checked online and learned that Villanova was in the middle of finals week when I showed up. I didn’t want to inconvenience Jim, and I would have been grateful to shake his hand and meet him briefly. Instead, I got the royal treatment. Jim said he had finished grading his finals and could spend the day with me. What? I wasn’t expecting that. He knew I had wanted to go into neighboring Philadelphia and wondered if I wanted to explore alone or have him come along. A friendly guide, inside knowledge, and a pleasant manner? It was a no-brainer.
Not only did Jim navigate the city like a pro, but he also took me to many of the sites I had wanted to see. The entire time I was thinking, I’m enjoying myself so much more this way. What a nice guy to give up his day and show me around the city!
We spent a good part of the day visiting historical places in the city. We first went to Liberty Bell Center to see the Liberty Bell, an iconic symbol of freedom. Next, Jim took me to nearby Independence Hall, where we learned about the signing of The Declaration of Independence in 1776 when the colonies officially declared their independence from England. We attended a presentation and learned about when the representatives from 12 states gathered at the State House to create the Constitution in 1787. We even visited the courtroom where lawyers from opposing sides hashed out an agreeable document.
Jim drove me around the city, where I could observe old buildings juxtaposed with the more modern parts of the city. Soon it was lunchtime, and Jim asked me if I wanted to try an official Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Are you kidding? Pat’s and Geno’s are two of the better-known places to get a Philly cheesesteak. Jim taught me that there was a specific way to order the sandwich correctly. “A cheesesteak wit” meant a cheesesteak with onions. “A cheesesteak witout” signified a cheesesteak without onions. Part of the drill included saying what kind of cheese you wanted, but a customer was never to ask for rare, medium rare, or medium because all cheesesteaks were well done. Knowing how to order the sandwich was one of the rules. If one doesn’t do it correctly, they might have to go to the back of the line. Jim and I are both fans of the TV show Seinfeld, and immediately the episode with “The Soup Nazi” came to mind. Jim usually follows a strict vegan diet, so I was surprised when he ordered a cheesesteak sandwich. I was so busy enjoying my sandwich I neglected to take a picture of the food.
After lunch, Jim drove me around to see more of Philadelphia. That included a stop at the famous Rocky statue. I got so involved in taking pictures of the city I didn’t get enough pictures of Jim. This photo is one of the few I got with the two of us getting ready to rumble. What was left to do? Sprint the famed steps as Rocky did in the movie. Here I am “running” the steps as Jim films me.
After spending a good part of the day in Philadelphia, I expected Jim to take me back to my hotel. It was generous of him to have already spent so much time with me. Instead, he took me on a tour of Villanova, a beautiful campus. On one of our stops, he introduced me to one of his sons, Pat, who was working in the college bookstore. Having gotten to know Jim through our blogs, I wasn’t surprised that he was friendly toward many people he encountered on campus. Jim has always expressed his appreciation for Villanova on his blog, and the pride he had for his school was evident.
We wrapped up the day with dinner at a busy restaurant in King of Prussia. Jim’s delightful wife, Mary, and their youngest son, Pat, joined us. What a great time! Mary is a preschool teacher, which provided another connection since my wife was also a preschool teacher and then director. I had such a great time with them that I neglected to get a picture.
Jim describes himself as introverted, but I sure didn’t see that side of him. We talked throughout the day, shared several laughs, and he was the perfect host. Philadelphia lived up to its reputation as “The City of Brotherly Love.” If he and his family ever make it out to California, I hope to return his act of generosity.
Interestingly, since Jim broke Cal Ripken’s record, he’s been taking time away from his blog. After 7+ years, I’d say he’s earned it.