— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

Notice the expression on this man’s face.  He’s smiling ever so slightly.  Why?  Because he’s looking out the window at this.

His name is Phil Hans.  He’s a member of the Malone School Board.  He’s running for Malone Village Trustee.  He’s a dairy consultant with Food Commodities International.

But this doesn’t explain why he’s smiling.  When I finished interviewing him for this article, I asked Mr. Hans to stand and look out my window — at the Flanders Elementary School playground, loaded with boisterous children.

You, too, would smile.  He’s witnessing the wild rumpus my wife & I get to enjoy several times a day.  (I tell visitors it’s better than Prozac.)

He’s also smiling because his wife, Heather, is a 4th Grade teacher at Flanders.  (Perhaps he spotted her out there?)  He’s also smiling because he and Heather love children.  They had none of their own, so they adopted three.  Two twin boys (now aged 4) and a 6-year-old girl named Nina.

I’m partial to “Ninas.”  I married one.  I’m also partial to Grade 4.  It was the high point of my academic career.  I earned a Certificate of Achievement which I still cherish and examine on occasion.  Besides, 4th Grade is when I first fell in love (with shy Nancy Henderson).  Naturally, I fell in love with Miss Benson, my teacher.

I’ll bet all the kids love Miss Heather, Phil’s wife.

But I digress.  Phil grew up in Cohoes NY.  A dying milltown not unlike Malone.  Cohoes is in worse shape than we are, Phil tells me.  Drugs are real bad.  Crime, bad.  Abandoned, derelict, empty buildings.  Dispirited people.  A disease of the soul.

Phil doesn’t want Malone to go the way of Cohoes.  That’s why he’s running for Trustee.

The truth of the matter is, he’s worried.  He’s worried about the future of the kids he’s looking at — the kids his wife teaches — and the kids he and his wife adopted.

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