The Rafferty Family.

By James Francis Rafferty (Raftery)

December 1969

Last Christmas week, in the line of my work,
I took a prop-jet Washington to New York.
She looked like an old troop horse recalled to the wars
And, like an old veteran, seemed to bear many scars.

Not as sleek as the "Whispers", perhaps not as fast,
She waddled to the runway, then took off real smart.
When we left National Airport it was pitch black night
But at eighteen thousand, it was still broad daylight.

At Elizabeth, New Jersey, around two thousand feet,
We were treated to a memorable and glorious treat.
Refinery towers stood tall in the breeze
Lit from bottom to top like huge Christmas trees.

While tall exhaust towers shot flames wide and wild,
Instead of the candles I knew as a child,
Their glaring red beacons stood out in the sky
-A warning to aircraft from Newark nearby.

O'er the low hills of Jersey, Staten Island and Queens,
All looked like a product of Walt Disney's dreams.
The thousands of homes, the millions of lights
In tune with the Season, a memorable sight.

Like a necklace of pearls, around these abodes
Wound the Turnpike and parkways and plain country roads.
And the oncoming headlights sparkling bright,
Their warning red taillights as they passed out of sight.

Flickering signs added color to the scene
While the traffic lights switched red, yellow and green.
In this panorama they might swear, but not moan,
The workers of America slowly rolled home.

Our Captain at this time picked up his mike
Saying, "Please take a look at the Jersey Turnpike."
It did not bother him, would not if he'd known,
That there lay my route to Skytop and home.

Imagine the volume, you won't guess the load;
This traffic was traveling a twelve-lane road.
With patience and civility, rank upon rank,
With courtesy to each other, an occasional crank.

These are the men who made America great,
And did not trust to chance but faced up to fate.
In Marines and Army they've fought foreign wars,
In Navy and Air Force battered enemy shores.

Homeward bound to their loved ones, their families dear,
With one thought in mind -- to bring Christmas cheer.
And when the car's parked, you may hear a voice light,
Leave it in the trunk until Christmas Night.

Nowhere in this World, you must understand,
Are children so pampered as in this blessed land.
And on this occasion, in the Land of the Free,
I recall those words, "Let them come to me."

Surrounded by Chrysler, Pan Am and others,
Like a beautiful sister admired by small brothers,
The Empire State Building, next came into sight,
Her great tower illumined with a yellowish light.

And as if acting coy, or concealing a smile,
Poked her head in the clouds, o'er quarter of a mile
But not even clouds can hide a contour so neat
From the tip of her spire to her Fifth Avenue feet.

Miss Liberty in the harbor, as it were, on our porch,
One fifty feet tall from her toes to her torch.
Had her sculptor, Bartholdi, ever gazed on these sights,
She'd be a thousand feet tall with a diadem of lights.

We have a lunatic fringe who parade and scream,
But they are only a ripple on a very broad stream.
We could weed them out, but the Scripture is there:
"Don't disturb the wheat to pull out the tare."

At LaGuardia Airport, our Hegira done,
We had to move quickly to get set for home.
Carey Bus to Grand Central, crosstown without fuss
To the P. A. Terminal to catch the Lakewood bus.

And thus I returned to my sweetheart, my wife,
The best sight of all, though I was starry-eyed
From the scenes that I saw on that memorable flight.
God bless America, may she always look as bright.


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