• Beverly Dempsey

Something About Harry

Updated: May 9


Last night, we tuned in for Jeopardy and got Lester Holt. Again. My husband: “Do you think they’re replaying the news because they can’t tape new shows of Jeopardy?” Maybe. Since we’ve come to depend upon old episodes (or on-demand shows) of Schitt's Creek, Knives Out or Ozark, why not the news?

But last night, I was not interested in watching Lester Holt present the same news feed for the second time in two hours. I was only kind of interested in watching one of the shows my friend recommended during a “what can I watch next” email exchange. And then, out of the blue, my thoughts turned to Harry.


Harry was a member of my first congregation. He was like Superman in real life. One of the Greatest Generation, he stormed the beaches of Normandy, started a company from scratch, cruised around the world and wrote a book on The Apostle Paul. He never missed a Sunday.



When I visited Harry not too many months before he passed away, we talked about his books. There was one on the near-end of the couch and one on far-end. There was one on an end table beside his favorite chair, another on the kitchen counter and a few on the dining room table. There were hundreds on shelves - floor to ceiling - in his library the next floor up.

Yes, Harry was quite a reader. Not your ordinary, novel-a-month kind of reader, but a rare kind of reader who would talk about his books in the way that many of us might describe what all we’re watching in the Time of Quarantine. He would saunter from one seat to another, opening a book right where he left off just like most will turn the channel after a sitcom or a sequel or even the nightly news. This was just one more way that Harry was interesting.

So, last night when I was not at all interested in watching Lester Holt (again last night), I began to think about Harry, wondering what great books I have near the chairs in my home. Gathering a few, I next asked myself what I may’ve downloaded yet not quite completed. A quick tap on my iPad gave me the great reveal: Smacked, Anna Karenina, Amity and Prosperity, I Can Do No Other, Lean Impact, Leaders Eat Last, Brave Not Perfect, Prozac Nation, Quit Like a Woman, Parenting Forward, Setting the Table and Bitter Chocolate.

With 12 books between 0-89% read, it looked like I have some catching-up to do.


What's beside your chair, my New Yorkville friends? Is your iReader filled to the brim with half-read treasures?


Help me backfill my shelf! Email Beverly@AvenueChurchNYC.org with your suggestions or reviews. I’ll post some here from time to time, and we can compare notes in person once the restrictions are lifted.

Until then, may we never succumb to a rerun of That 70’s Show. May we never again be defeated by the rebus in Thursday’s crossword. And may we never want for a way to get back on our own lifelong learning trail.


See you on The Avenue!


“I came to the Church years ago, looking for a community that was progressive, justice-minded, and open to creative worship.  I stayed because I've felt loved and supported by the community:  through good times (my wedding) and bad (the loss of several family members).  I'm proud that our community has evolved over time to meet new needs, from serving Czech immigrants over a century ago, to our homeless outreach program today.” 

From Our Worshiping Community

—  Debbie

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Endowed by Jan Hus Presbyterian Church.