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A Lifetime in Verse

Long-time Hatboro resident Ed Galing has donned two proud titles throughout his life and both are derived from his own creativity.

A Google search of the name Ed Galing retrieves more than a dozen pages for the Hatboro writer, including his blog site, a Twitter post and countless references to his poetry.

But, the notion of social media – and the Internet for that matter – is lost on Galing, 95, who is steadfast in his stance that he “never did” and “never will” have a computer.

Instead, Galing boasts that his 100-words-per-minute typing skills landed him a job at Reedman Corporation prior to his retirement. And, while he may not be earning a paycheck anymore, Galing, seated in his wheelchair, puts his daily poetic musings to paper via his old-fashioned blue typewriter. 

“I’ve done it all my life,” Galing said from his Mill Road home amid stacks of journals and magazines containing some of his thousands of published poems and articles. ”Most people who write poetry, you read it and you forget about it.” 

The same could not be said for Galing himself, a charismatic man recognized by locals at in Horsham as the “Harmonica Man” almost as readily as he’s known in the poetry world where journals like “Rattle” commonly bear his work. 

“I used to entertain all the people there,” Galing said of his former Easton Road haunt, where he’d play Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra songs. “The kids would applaud. They love me. They can’t wait for me to play the harmonica.”

A World War II veteran who spent 15 years assigned to the now-shuttered , much of Galing’s local notoriety came following his 78th birthday.

In 1996, Galing said he convinced then Hatboro Mayor Joe Celano to impart on him a special title, Poet Laureate of Hatboro. It's a name that more than 15 years later, Galing still holds close to his heart.

“(Celano) had a record shop in Hatboro and I used to go in there and talk to Joe and play harmonica for him,” Galing said, adding that he used to rib Celano about when he would bestow the long-time writer with the honor.

The next thing he knew, Galing said he received a call from the Hatboro Borough Council President requesting his presence at a meeting. Galing went and was awarded with a commendation naming him the Poet Laureate of Hatboro. 

“If you needed publicity, I was the one to do it. Indirectly, I was advertising the town,” Galing said of the honor, which he still proudly references both in conversation and in a poster in his home. “For 15 minutes, I was famous.”

And while, even to this day, Galing wears the title like a badge of honor, he admits being hung up on the word “poet.”

“I like the word ‘writer’ better,” Galing said. The term poetry conjures up “kind of effeminate” writing of a “flowery” nature, he said. “I always thought, ‘anybody who writes poetry is a sissy.’ ”

Regardless if you consider Galing a writer or a poet, his work left an impression on Tom McMackin. The owner of McMackin Tire Service LLC in Hatboro, was serving as Hatboro Borough Council president at the time of Galing’s appointment and recalls inviting him to the meeting.

“He’s a nice guy,” McMackin said. “We thought he was a good fellow. He did represent himself with some good works.” 

According to Hatboro Borough Council meeting minutes, Galing recited poetry to mark Celano’s 80th birthday on July 22, 1996.

That same year, Galing said his services were also in high demand among Hatboro churches. For $75 an hour, Galing said he read poems and played his harmonica.

Asked how long Galing would serve in the borough’s honorary position, McMackin said, “You serve until you’re replaced.”

And, by all accounts, Galing isn’t going anywhere – or giving up his more than 70-year hobby. Even with his wife of 68 years, Esther, deceased and his two sons living out of state, Galing plans to stay put, and make an impact in the meantime.

“I’m someone who wanted to make things better for the world. To make people laugh a little more,” said Galing of his ultimate goal. “If I can make somebody happy by my writing, that’s all I want.”

Just don’t ask him for a Web edition.

Doug Holder July 21, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Love Ed Galing--I have interviewed him, published him " Prayers on a Tenement Rooftop" and he has appeared in every issue of the Ibbetson Street literary magazine--long lived Ed1 Great poet! Doug Holder http://ibbetsonpress.com
dougholder December 19, 2013 at 07:19 PM
Ed Passed away--I was informed by his son Leonard--he was 96--God Bless-I will miss him...

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