Friday, May 30, 2014


I am getting so tired of "isms". It seems as if every time I read or hear about a difference of opinion anywhere an "ism" is hurled. If someone does not agree with your point of view and you have run out of facts to support you point of view all you need to do is call out "ism" and the other person is to feel chastised and to cease and desist from any further argument. After all no one wants to be branded as an "ist".

Common sense is what we need to employ here. An opinion hurts no one. Actions are what causes damage.

I am not talking "sticks and stones". Certainly a physical attack will cause damage. But those words and hurtful names can hurt too. What I am talking about is a calm sharing of thoughts and opinions.

I like nothing more than a good intellectual exchange of ideas. I have even been known to change my mind on occasion as well as to change someone else's mind. But they are calm discussions in which we try to respect the other person. And I am entitled to my own opinion as is the other person.

No person should ever, I repeat ever, intentionally hurt another living thing. Ever. The unintentional sometimes happens. That is what a sincere "I am sorry" is for.

Now with all that being said I have some gripes. The first thing that comes to mind is "A boy should never hit a girl". Of course he should not hit a girl. A girl should not hit a boy. If one person hits another they should expect to be hit right back. In fact law takes that into account.

If a person strikes you, you are entitled to respond in kind. That does not mean that if a person slaps your face you can beat them half to death. It means you have the right to slap them back to let them know that you will not accept the disrespect shown by the original slap.

I know that is counter to many religious and societal teachings. If you choose not to respond to an assault you have that right too.

But think about this. If a little boy has been slapped by a little girl he has two choices. If he does not respond in kind she will feel that it is acceptable to slap him whenever she feels like it. If he slaps her back she will not slap him again because she thinks he will slap her back. But if he then goes home and is punished for hitting a girl what message is he receiving? The message is that if he stands up for himself he will be punished anyway. He is wrong no matter what.

Equality among people is also a common sense issue. Is one person better than another? If so, why? If anyone can explain to me how one person is better than another I am ready to listen.

By equal I do not mean the same. My uncle was a track star. I cannot run without twisting my ankles. Is he a better person than me? My mother was an accomplished artist. I cannot draw a good stick figure. Is she better than me? My grandfather was a farmer and made things grow for the good of society. I cannot grow a houseplant. Is he better than me? My mother-in-law could do an instant read on people to know whether they were honest or not. I usually have to get burned a time or two to gain a little wisdom. Is she better than me? Of course not .

I have my own talents and value. So does everyone else. No two people are the same. Even identical twins develop different interests. So we are diverse but equal.

Are famous movie stars better people than we are? Are rich people better than poor people. Are men better than women? Is one race better than another. Is a physically disabled person better than a "normal" person? Is a person who likes baseball better than a person who likes football? This could go on forever.

There are "ists". Sometimes they use their "isms" as an excuse to inflict pain of one kind or another on other people. But it is still the actions that caused the pain not the "ism". Acting on those "isms" is what is causing all the trouble.

Some people want to pass laws outlawing "isms". I certainly understand their thinking. But can we control another person's thoughts?

What we can control is actions. There are laws concerning actions. If you hurt someone there are legal consequences. So if someone breaks the law by using an "ism" as an excuse they should expect to have to pay a legal consequence. Each case to be decided on its own merits (or demerits).

There you have it. Common sense. All we need to do is remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is not rocket science, right?

So leave me alone about "isms". I am tired of them. Let's try to find a better way to solve some real problems.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

More From My Son

Here is some more from my son. He requested that I write his stories too. I took out names and places and heavily bleeped a few parts. Otherwise this is in his own words. I hope you like it.

My federal charges all started when they arrested me one day after getting pulled over in the semi I was driving. I wasn't doing anything wrong at all, just working 10 hours a day. But they don't care about that, they just want to lock everyone up. I got arrested and they took me to the jail in the nearest town. That is where their investigation started. 

I spent the weekend there and first thing Monday morning this fed agent came and opened the cell door and said "I'll give you one chance and one chance only, you can either help yourself or **** yourself!" I told him, I'm sure you've seen my record, I'm real good at ****ing myself, I'll stick to that. He said, " I'm going to **** you like you never been ****ed before!!" and he slammed the cell door so hard I thought it would break off. 

He kept his promise about ****ing me over. He did everything he could do to make it hard on me. He is still at work! He left me in the county jail for 3 and a half years, steals my mail (that's illegal but they do it a lot, it's called a mail block), and even had the state courts "lose" my paperwork on my state case so I couldn't appeal my case for years. There is a lot more stuff he has done but it's a very long list and we don't have time for it. 

After that, they sent me to county court to get arraigned and set a bail for me. They charged me with a retagged* motorcycle. A family friend came and bailed me out before they could even put me in the county for processing. 

After that, I went on the run for a few months. Until one morning when I was at my girlfriend's house and they raided it and arrested me again. The federal officer was there and he found a bag of weed in another part of the house, somewhere I wasn't. He of course charged me with it. 

Also he stripped me to my underwear and took me into the basement and pulled a bottle of Vicoden from his pocket. It was my girlfriend's mom's legal prescription. He said to me, "I usually don't do this but I'm going to give you another chance." I said, I'm still on **** myself mode and shut my mouth! 

He then started to pull the name tag off the bottle of Vicoden and said,"It only gets worse from here!" I think he thought that was going to scare me. Well it did a little but I sure wasn't going to let him know that. I was charged in 3 different state courts with a bunch of charges and 2 federal courts.

I beat the first fed court stuff because it was an illegal search. They had an arrest warrant for me, not a search warrant for the house! Got um! And the other fed court stuff was my R.I.C.O. court and I beat all my charges except the drug conspiracy. I'm going to beat that on appeal. 

They tried everything they could to break me. They had me in all those courts trying to overwhelm me and get me to give up. My lawyer came to me and said they wanted me to tell on people and they would put me in the witness protection program. 

First, I don't know anything about anyone else and second, all my crimes had nothing to do with the Club**. How would I tell on people that I didn't do anything illegal with! And lastly, what kind of ass would I be if I just went along with their lies and send innocent people to prison just to get time off my sentence. 

And just to let you know, I'm one of only 5 people in the whole country to beat the R.I.C.O. statutes in trial, and the only person in the country to ever be charged with both R.I.C.O., R.I.C.O. conspiracy and Conducting a Criminal Enterprise. No one has ever gone through all that except me. 

They tried to make it as hard on me as they could. They left me in county jail for over 3 and a half years. That's like being in the hole all that time. 

But I made the best of it while I was there. I learned the law and how to fight in court. That's how I beat so many charges. They put the pressure on me and I had 2 choices, either give give up or fight with everything I got. I fought! After everything was over, everyone at the federal prison threw a party because I beat the R.I.C.O.'s.

Add this to the last part of the last story I sent you. I don't believe a person should get rewarded for telling on their co-defendants. The only way they should be allowed to testify against them is if they are getting no benefit from doing it. People are taught to handle their own burdens and not place them on others. So why is it ok for the government to reward people for doing this? 

Here's about my trucking company. I started driving trucks when I was 14. My dad taught me how to drive with 2 trailers behind the truck. By the time I was old enough to get my license, I was one of the best around at backing up the double trailers, because I had experience with a bunch of different combinations. 

We started hauling steel coils on flat bed trailers and got into everything from box vans to liquid tankers with no baffles (those are illegal now because they are too dangerous). I started with 1 truck and worked hard everyday. We worked 14 to 20 hours a day and for a long time, that's all we did. 

I ended up getting a couple more trucks and hiring some guys to drive them. After a while, I got into a deal with a company that was transferring loads from an auto plant to some storage places and I started buying more trucks and getting into different runs. At one time, I had 20 trucks of my own and 10 people with their own trucks leased on to my company. 

I got into some trouble with the cops over a deal I got into were I was leasing trailers to small trucking companies and trailer leasing companies. I specialized in custom, hard to get trailers. It would have all been legal except the trailers were all stolen and retagged! 

I had trucks going to Texas, down to the Mexican border, I had a deal worked out with the largest trucking company in Canada to be their main carrier on the American side of the border. With that deal alone, I was on track to do millions in revenue and within a year, my company would've quadrupled in size. 

I even had a guy do a favor for me and got me an expedited load out of the auto plant so that they would put me down as one of their official carriers. People said I couldn't do that because that company wasn't taking new carriers at the time, but I was known for fixing problems and getting things done! 

Then the Free Trade Agreement came into town! That basically put me out of business!!! Everything those big companies needed me for, they could do themselves now. Along with putting my American drivers out of work it ruined the pay level for a lot of people in America! The trucking companies now could haul their loads in America so I was out of all that business, which was most of my business. 

Also every trucking company in America lost money because the loads like the ones I specialized in (on time loads), the pay rates went down. Loads I used to haul for $3 a mile, now were being hauled buy Mexican carriers for $1 a mile. We couldn't compete.

I had 20 trucks at the time and almost all my business was eliminated with one stroke of the president's pen. I owned five trucking companies and I owned one third of two other companies. Those last two companies were set up to lease trailers to small trucking companies and other trailer leasing companies. I knew a lot of people in the business and had everything lined up and running. But like I said, powers higher than what my concerns were had other plans. Ok I better end this, I don't like talking about this stuff, it brings up a lot of memories of what could've been.

From Emma: * retagged means that vehicle identification numbers are altered or exchanged  
                      * * Club refers to a motorcycle club to which he belonged

Friday, May 23, 2014


We all have nightmares occasionally. Some experts claim that we need to work out problems and/or feelings and nightmares help us do that. Others feel that nightmares help to release fears. I am sure there are many other "reasons" for nightmares. I know that I have a bad dream once in a while.

I have also learned that nightmares are common in people who have certain health conditions. Epilepsy is one of those conditions so I qualify.

As I said most nightmares are just bad dreams. When we wake up we may or may not remember the dream. If we do remember it the memory fades and usually we feel better.

Then there are dreams that fill us with terror. A terror so real. A terror that stays with us for much longer than a few moments. I had several of those when I was younger. I even remember them in detail.

Most of the little towns we lived in had railroad tracks running through them. As a matter of fact we usually lived fairly close to those tracks and had to cross the tracks to go to school.

We were told not to get too close when the train went by. Of course that was good advice. But often it was added that the reason not to get close by was that the train would suck us under and we would be killed. Talk about a scare!

I dreamed we were walking to school. It was early morning in the fall. The air was a little nippy so we were wearing jackets. There were just the five of us.

My youngest brother at the time was in kindergarten. You may remember that he had a sort of cloud surrounding his head. He often seemed oblivious to the things going on around him.

As we got closer to the tracks we heard a train coming. We were going to have to wait for it to pass. Trains going through these little towns tended to be very long so there would be a long wait. It was okay because we might get the engineer to blow the whistle and then the conductor would wave from the caboose.

So we were standing there watching the train go by. Then I saw my little brother walking slowly toward the train as if in a trance. He was hypnotized by the movement of the train and getting closer and it.

I started screaming for him to stop. Over and over and over. But he just kept walking toward the side of the train with that glazed look in his eyes. His face was totally blank. He did not hear me at all.

In the meantime the other kids felt like they were going to run to save him. I had to hold them back while I was screaming at him to come back.

He got too close to the train. It sucked him under! There he was between the tracks looking at me with his big brown eyes full of terror. I then began to scream at him to not try to get out. He was safe as long as he was between the tracks but he would be cut to shreds if he tried to get out.

Boy was I glad when I woke up. At the same time you can see that the dream stayed with me.

My baby sister who was about two years old and I had died. It seems that the place you go after you die was where you were living when you died. Except that the base (or invisible floor) was about the same level as peoples' heads.

I was so grateful that I was there to be able to care for my sister. She would have been alone if I was not there.

So there we were at head level. There was no one there but us. There was no furniture, no anything, just my sister and me. It does not seem too bad. But there was a problem.

We could see our family. We could hear our family. The house was just the same, furniture and everything. That was the problem.

My sister could see and hear our mother, but of course our mother could not see or hear us. My sister could not understand why Mom kept totally ignoring her pleas to be held. She was crying uncontrollably. Nothing I did could console her. The afterlife was going to be miserable for my sister and me.

In high school I seem to remember my biology teacher telling us about a parasite called a glassworm. Whether I remember correctly or not is beside the point. A glassworm reproduces by carrying it's eggs inside the body. Shortly before the eggs hatch the worm breaks open and dies expelling all the eggs so they can hatch and continue the cycle.

Remember that the glassworm is a parasite. They burrow under the skin of the host. When they break open and die they cause a great deal of damage to the host, including death.

In my sleep my husband had gone into a small grocery store to cash his paycheck. We were going to grab a hot dog afterward and go home to watch TV. I waited in the car for him.

While I was sitting there waiting I noticed something funny about my arm. There was an elongated lump just under my skin.

When my husband came back to the car he noticed that I had a strange look on my face. When he asked me what was wrong I told him that I had a glassworm in my arm. In a shocked tone he told me that he had warned me about that. What if it exploded? I would die.

Precisely as he said that the glassworm broke open. I died.

I had always heard that if you died in your sleep you would also die for real. I am here to tell you that I am still here.

I lived in Nebraska. It was a time and not far from where Charles Starkweather and Carol Ann Fugate murdered her whole family then drove to another state killing people along the way. It was a shocking series of crimes. I felt awful about all the murders but the worst of all was Carol Ann Fugate's little 2 year old sister.

My baby sister was close to two years old at the time. We were in the process of potty training with her.

I have to stress that potty training meant that anyone who saw signs of her needing to use the potty would help her to the potty, sit her on it and wait until she was finished. There was no yelling or other punishment about accidents. There was no throwing her in the little chair and making her sit there until she did what was expected of her. It was all a gentle and ultimately very successful process.

It is no wonder that I was surprised beyond belief when I woke up in the middle of the night to find my sister sitting on her potty. At first I thought she was asleep. When I went to pick her up I realized that she was dead. She had been beaten and set on the chair.

My parents were asleep in their bed. I was crushed that they would do such a thing. Then I was angry and wanted revenge. I was going to kill them.

I woke up for real. Unfortunately those raw feelings were still there. I went to my parents' bedroom and woke up my mother. I told her about my dream and that I had (in my dream) wanted to kill them.

She just put her arms around me and held me while I cried. I finally calmed down. Mom suggested that I go back to bed and try to get some sleep. I was still afraid. She said to read for a while and see if that helped. It did.

Would you have been so loving and understanding if your child woke youo and told you she wanted to kill you?

I had several other nightmares that I will probably share one day. The problem with the nightmares was that when I woke from them I could not go back to sleep right away or the nightmare would repeat. I learned to keep a book by my bed. I would turn the lamp by my bed on and read until my eyes were heavy. Then I would slowly allow the book to settle on my chest and I would go back to sleep. I could not even move enough to turn off the lamp.

Mom knew if she woke up and saw the light on that I had another nightmare. She would always find a tactful way to talk to me about it. It helped.

I have since learned that you can train yourself to wake up when a dream goes wrong. It has made my life a lot easier.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My First Granddaughter

The telephone rang. It was my son asking if I could pick up my grandson and keep him over night. Of course I could. The catch was that I needed to pick him up at the hospital. WHAT?

My daughter-in-law had fainted so my son took her to the hospital. I jokingly asked if she was pregnant because my grandson had just celebrated his first birthday. My son told me that was what they suspected.

That was how we all found out there was to be another addition to the family.

The last month before my granddaughter was born was hard on my daughter-in-law. She felt like all of us do that final month. She just wanted it to be over.

As was my daily ritual I called her one morning. "Hello?" I said, "Hello" back. We exchanged pleasantries. Then she said, "If one more person asks me how I'm feeling, I am going to scream." I told her I completely understood. I am very understanding that way. Then I said, "So how are you feeling?"

When the day finally came I got a call from my son. It was early in the morning, very early. When I arrived at the hospital, my daughter-in-law's mother, step-father, and sister were there already. I do not remember who was taking care of my grandson that day because we were all there.

My beautiful granddaughter was here. She was a beautiful baby and my son was in love.

According to my daughter-in-law the baby was always crying. I did not see that but I was not there all the time. She was always happy when her father was there. She was and is a daddy's girl.

My son came home from work and the first thing he did was to get on the floor and wrestle with my grandson. Now that he had a daughter she became a part of the wrestling matches. She loved it and can hold her own with the best of them.

When she was about two years old my granddaughter started having terrible nightmares. They usually happened during her afternoon nap. When she woke up screaming nothing would calm her down until she could talk to her father. Luckily at that time he worked at a job where he answered the phone. Several times a week he would get the call and have to talk to his daughter. She seemed just fine after hearing her daddy's voice.

Potty training was a fun thing. Actually she was easy to train because she does not like to be messy. And she was not shy in the least. She would haul her little potty seat in and watch television with the reat of us while she did what needed to be done.

The only problem was the clean-up after. She would stand up then bend over and grab her ankles and ask for someone to do it for her. Finally her mother told her that she was big enough to do it for herself.

"I'm not doing that! That's a-scusting!" Like I said she hates being dirty. She did finally start to take care of it herself and I am happy to report that she does not bother us with it any more.

She loved the water. Getting her to take a bath was no problem at all. She just got in the tub and pretended to swim. For her fourth birthday my daughter bought her a swimming pool for the back yard so she could swim to her heart's content.

My granddaughter is very athletic. Not unusual considering that both her parents and her brother are too. She began on my grandson's little league team when she was three or four. Her parent's were coaching so it made it easier to care for her too.

She has played soccer, basketball, volleyball, and tennis on her school teams. She also ran cross country at school. She tried every sport that was available and was good at all of them. But her favorite and the one that she really excelled at was softball.

Her favorite position was first base. I love watching her play there. It is like watching a ballet. When someone throws the ball to her she gracefully puts her glove up and the ball almost magnetically swooshes right in. It is beautiful.

Besides being on the team at school my granddaughter also played on a team during the summer that was coached by her mother. The team needed a catcher so my granddaughter said she would do it. So she catches too. She could throw a runner out at second base while she was still in the catcher's squat. Amazing.

Then the team needed a fill-in pitcher. My granddaughter had never pitched before and did not want to do it. Her mother did not want to use her that way but she was stuck for someone. My granddaughter once again gave it a try. She was good. So good that she became a regular pitcher. She began to pitch for the team at school too.

My granddaughter was so good at pitching that she was often interviewed by the media in her area. She was often in the newspaper, on radio, and occasionally on television. She received a scholarship to college because of her pitching talents.

The last year of high school she was fielding a throw as she was playing first base. She did the splits to keep her foot on the base while reaching for the ball. She felt a pop. It was a ligament in her knee. She did not require surgery but was unable to play for the fall season when she went to college. By the spring season she was fine.

Like most of our family my granddaughter loves rain. We like to out and dance in the rain or just quietly sit on the porch and watch as the rain comes down. I was visiting them one time when my granddaughter came into the house. She said, "Grandma, I smell rain coming. Do you want to come out on the porch with me?" How could I turn down an invitation like that?

Quite by accident I discovered that my granddaughter likes figure skating. I watch it on television often but none of my children cared for it.

I stopped by on my way to work one evening to visit my son and his family. They told me my granddaughter was in her room watching figure skating. I had not realized she liked it. I knocked on her door and we watched for a while before I absolutely had to leave.

Another thing we both liked was Grease. We have seen the movie numerous times. We also attended the play whenever it came to town. Each play is done differently so it is an experience. We even saw Frankie Avalon the year he toured with the play.

With our love for figure skating and our love for Grease we kept busy. One evening after attending Disney on Ice starring Nancy Kerrigan we were discussing what we had just seen. Then we decided that Grease would adapt well to an ice program. It was an exciting thought.

It was Christmas Eve. Our family was together at my house as it should be. Everyone was having a great time as usual. My granddaughter and I were given small gifts that needed to be opened at the same time. We got tickets to Grease on Ice! The day after we had the conversation about it my daughter-in-law heard on the radio that it was coming to town so she rushed out and bought the tickets.

Her mother enrolled my granddaughter in a dance class. She was quite small and looked so cute. At her first recital she was with two other children who were as young as she was. One was the son of the instructor and the other was another little girl. They did a number based on Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm to the song Let the Sun Shine In. Adorable.

She danced for five years. The fifth year she did not want to do it any more. Her mother insisted. Finally her father came up with a compromise. If she would complete the five years her mother would let her quit. That ended her dancing career.

So my granddaughter graduated from college with a degree in psychology and a minor in criminology. She has a good job. She also just gave birth to my first great-granddaughter. She is just as pretty as her mother.

Friday, May 16, 2014

How Did We Do It?

I have often wondered how so many of the children of my age survived to become adults. I had a lot more freedom than my children mostly because of the fact that I lived in little towns and on farms while my children grew up in the city.

I have tried to be a responsible parent. It is not always easy because there are so many dangers and like all parents I wanted the absolute best of everything for my children. They deserve it.

At the same time I know what sorts of silly things children do and often those things are dangerous. I know this because I was once a child and I remember some of the silly things we used to do. I will try not to repeat any that I have written before but I am certain you will understand if I repeat myself.

I do not remember this incident. It was one of my mother's favorite stories. I was very young and we were at the farm. I was out playing. On the farm we could wander wherever we wanted to go. I was playing in the shed where Grandpa had that magical grinding wheel he sat on to sharpen tools.

I went crying into the house and told my mother that the bird bit me. Being only a couple of years old there was no way I could have gotten close enough to a bird for it to peck me. All of the adults laughed at my imagination.

But I kept crying. I was obviously hurt. Mom took a look at my hand and there were bite marks on it!

Grandpa went out to the shed to see what was out there. Caught in a trap was a large mouse. I had been trying to play with it and it, being in pain and scared, bit me.

When Daddy would leave for work we would sometimes pretend that we were pushing the car from behind. I was about 5 years old which means my brothers were 3 and 4. He would carefully drive off gradually accelerating his speed until we could not keep up. Then he would be off for real.

One day while sending him to work my three year old brother decided to push for real. Daddy saw my other brother and me standing on the road behind him so he took off. My brother was dragged for about half a block before my father realized why we were screaming frantically for him to stop. Luckily other than a few scrapes and bruises he was not hurt.

There were three of us. My two best friends and I were inseparable. One of them lived on what we called an acreage at the edge of town. There was a lot of room for wandering and exploring there. And there was the creek.

We were not allowed to go to the creek without permission. Of course that did not keep us from going. Skinny dipping on a hot summer day helped keep us cool. Then we had to let our hair dry before we could be seen by anybody or we were in trouble.

When the river flooded our parents were more strict about being around the creek. Diseases that are associated with flood waters gave them reason to caution us to stay away. But did we? Of course not.

The water level in the creek was high during floods. Swimming was great. Of course we had to dodge debris being carried along but that only added to the experience. The day the dead bloated pig floated past was the day we got out of the flood water and did not go back during floods. However we still used the creek often.

Crossing over the creek and down a ways from where we swam was train tracks. Under the bridge that crossed the creek the ground sloped down toward the water. It was shady and cool there and made a good place to lie on our backs daydreaming as we stayed cool. It was exciting when a train rumbled over the bridge. What if the bridge collapsed and the train fell on us? Scary indeed.

Using a rail as a balance beam was also great fun. We had heard the tales of people getting their feet stuck under a rail and not being able to get loose before the train ran them over. It only added to the excitement of it.

Just past the train bridge was the bridge for the highway. Now this was a little Nebraska town so the higway had little traffic. The bridge had trusses on either side of the road. The creek was anywhere from two to three feet deep during the summer. The top of the trusses was about 20 feet from the creek.

I am sure that you have already guessed what happens next. We would climb the truss, walk to the middle of it, and jump off into the creek. How stupid we were.

Sometimes when it would rain nobody wanted to ride the horses out to bring the cattle in from the pasture. Grandpa had an old Model A Ford that my uncles could use on the farm. We loved to pile into the Model A to herd the cattle. One of my uncles was a bit of a daredevil. He liked to drive fast which we loved. One time he actually took one corner of the dogleg coming back from the pasture on two wheels! Grandma was furious. Grandpa was furious. We all wanted to go again!

When we lived in Washington on the dairy farm we lived near the top of the mountain. It was a small mountain but it was a mountain. I liked to get in the car, release the emergency brake, then step on the clutch. That should have put the car in neutral. I still do not know why the car never rolled taking us along with it down the side of the mountain. Heaven knows I tried.

Modern safety requirements were in the future as far as vehicles were concerned. There were no seat belts or air bags. Children rode in the front seat. The baby usually sat on the lap of the person in the passenger's seat of the front. We often rode standing up so we could either see better or get closer to drive our parents crazy. We also rode in the back of the pick-up, hanging off the side of the tractor, and on the running board of the car.

We had ready access to knives in case we wanted to cut something or whittle. Sharp tools were available and used for chores.

We liked to play cowboys and Indians. We would get a bunch of kids together and play at war. We would be swordfighters, etc. For all of these activities we used sticks as weapons. Often we went home with bruises and small cuts from being a little overzealous in our play.

As I said I remember all these things and how much fun we had. It was part of childhood taking all these chances. That does not mean I wanted or allowed my children to do them. But I tried to be understanding when their daredevil sides showed through.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Letter To My Mother

Dear Mom,

Another Mother's Day has passed. I still miss you so much. I miss being able to call you to ask you to help me find just that right word that I am searching for. I miss knowing that you are just a phone call away.

I know that you loved me. You knew that I loved you. There was never a question of that. That is because of you. You were a steady cool flowing stream that made us all feel safe and secure, to paraphrase someone we both met.

It seemed that nothing could rattle you. You just took what came along and dealt with it.

I always tell everyone that you are the most intelligent person I have ever known. Of course you know that to be true. And you expected intelligence from me. Thank you.

Your grandchildren feel the same way. They all aspire to be like their grandparents. There is no higher praise. My great-grandchildren are fond of saying, "If Grandma doesn't know, nobody knows!" I simply tell them that their great-grandma would know more.

It is spring now. You would be busy planting your garden. All sorts of vegetables would grow to be canned and frozen. But you always left a large amount of space for your flowers. The more colorful the better.

I miss your companionship. We really enjoyed each other's company. Whether it was playing cards, attending a political function, or taking a trip we had great fun.

I have read a few books that I know you would like. I wish I could hand them to you so you could read them too.

I even miss you admonishing me "not to talk like that" whenever I said something you felt I should not say. You expected "more" from me. That is why I strove to be "more". I hope I have come close to what you wished for me.

Love, Emma

Friday, May 9, 2014

We Live In The Future

When I was very young  the girls were allowed to wear jeans to school. There were a lot of students who lived on farms and rode their horses to school. Dresses are not ideal for riding a horse.

Then came capri pants. They were considered too tight too be decent. In order to stop the older girls from wearing the capris they made a rule disallowing all pants for girls. If they wanted to wear them beneath a skirt and change before school began they could do that.

I also remember a few changes at the beginning of school. We used to say prayers before school. I am not saying that it was a good or a bad thing. I am simply saying that we did.

I remember that when we pledged allegiance to the flag (which most schools no longer do) we said "one nation under God". Actually I remember when the "under God" part was added. It was so hard to include it at first because we were used to saying the original way. Then in later years they took it out and it was hard not to say it because we were used to it.

I did not live in the times when "showing a limb" was indecent but I certainly remember some things that were once considered indecent. Only "bad girls" wore two-piece bathing suits. Only women wore earrings and those were clip-ons. Pierced ears were reserved for the non-pure.

Too-short skirts, too-tight clothing, and showing of any cleavage was just wrong. Even sack dresses were wrong because they left too much to the imagination. What is a girl to do?

When I was in high school I had a dress that I wore often because it was comfortable. It was made of cotton with a bandanna print and it had a straight skirt. One afternoon one of the seams gave way from overuse and split part of the way up my leg. I borrowed some safety pins to hold it together but there were not enough to close it all the way past my knee. I was called to the dean's office and told that I could not wear indecent clothing to school any more. I was to wait in the dean's office until the school bus came at the end of the day. Hussy! That was me.

There have been a lot of fads that have come and gone. Tie-dyed anything but particularly Tshirts.
Mood rings. Mood lipstick. Paisley prints (which I like, by the way). Long straight hair. Short elfin hair. Unisex hair cuts. "Natural" hair-dos. Big hair. Hip-hugger jeans. Love-ins. Sit-ins. Drive-in movies. Whatever happened to them?

The slop, the frug, the dirty dog, the Watusi, the jerk, the swim, the hitch-hiker, the hustle, the stroll, the pony, the twist, the fly, the Batman, the jitterbug, the electric slide, walking the dog, the mashed potato both with and without gravy, and the clam are just a few of the dances that were fads.

Probably the biggest change in my life is the computer. I remember demonstrations of UniVac on television. The control board of UniVac was as big as a 52 inch TV screen. It did computations of numbers mostly. It was even used to correctly predict the outcome of the 1952 presidential race.

UniVac was going to be a useful tool for the military but no one thought it was good for much else. As a matter of fact at one time someone said that there were two of the machines operating in the world and that was all that would ever be needed.

Somewhere down the line someone designed video games. The first ones were like the ones you still find in gaming facilities and bars. They were large and you would pay to play them like you played pinball machines.

Companies began to built machines to hook up to your television so you could play video games at home. They were made so that all you would have to do is buy the games you liked and insert one into the machine. There have been so many incarnations of these systems. And hundreds of games have been made.

Someone realized that computers could be valuable to big businesses. With a large mainframe computer that linked to desktop extensions a lot of information could be acurately recorded and stored in a fraction of the time it took to do it by hand.

Soon they began to think that home computers could be the next money maker. In order to make their use attractive they would need a way to connect to other computers. The internet was born. Anyone with a computer could hook up the to internet by subscribing to a program that connected using the telephone.

It took a few years to catch on. In the beginning there really was not much to see on the internet. But as time passed the internet matured.

Soon there were websites to visit. Information was now at one's fingertips. Virtual tours through many of the world's museums and historical sites were available for free. You could even do a pub crawl from the convenience of your living room.

Email makes it easy to stay in touch with people. A quick bit of typing and your message can be sent instantly to someone else. You can even send the same message to many people all at the same time.

Weblogs or blogs are easy to establish. You can use it to inform, entertain, or simply to record your day.

The amount of information available is endless. All you have to do is type in what information you need and the computer looks it up and presents it to you.

Now you can watch movies and videos whenever you wish. Music is just waiting for you to request it. And Skype allows you to see a person as you speak directly to them.

Computers bring to life so many of the science fiction imaginings of my youth. Wow!

I know there are a lot of things I have left out. There is so much to remember but I tried to show how things have advanced over the last 60 or so years.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Back To The Future

I have already talked about some of the things I have seen change in my lifetime. Today not everything will be a change but many were historic and some shocking.

Probably the most outstanding thing was the space program. There were comic books and radio and television programs about humans traveling in outer space. Pure science fiction. Or was it?

When Sputnik was launched the United States was frantic. We were experiencing the Cold War. We were not too far removed from World War II and the Korean War. There were air raid shelters and air raid captains who were supposed to guide us to safety in case of an enemy attack.

We had fire drills in school. We also had air raid drills. When the air raid siren sounded we were to "drop and cover". That meant dropping to the floor under your desk into a sort of fetal position but with your face and body toward the floor. Then you covered your head with hands and arms. You remained in that position until the "all clear" was sounded.

I have read how so many children were traumatized by "drop and cover" drills. I was a child. I thought it was great fun. Children cannot comprehend consequences of viotent acts. All parents can do is teach them what to do in case of a violent act and deal with the fallout later.

But back to the space race. The US and Russia both kept launching rockets and planning for manned space flights. It was an exciting time. Our schools did not have televisions so we could not watch the launches at school. School would close on launch days so we could watch from home. And we did watch. It was exciting.

Eventually there were too many launches to allow us to have the day off school so they were limited to only the more important ones. Animals were launched and finally came the time when there were manned flights.

Finally I got to see a man actually walk on the moon. It was like something from a movie.

I vaguely remember some of the McCarthy hearings from television. I was very young. McCarthy was a senator who  believed that Communism was not only a threat to our country but that we were infiltrated by Communists and Communist sympathizers. He chaired the Senate hearings on unAmerican  activities.

The McCarthy hearings rapidly turned into a witch hunt. People who testified at the hearings came from all walks of life. They may or may not have been guilty of any charges. A lot of people lost their jobs and were blackballed from being rehired elsewhere. It would be nice to have a reliable means of revisiting that time to find out what was true and what was not.

I watched the first televised debates between two presidential candidates when John F Kennedy and Richard M Nixon opposed each other. Kennedy had a charisma that showed on camera. Nixon did not seem as comfortable. Kennedy won the election.

There have been 12 presidents in my life. I remember all but Truman. I was just a little too young.

I am not Catholic but the process of choosing a pope fascinates me. There have been 7 popes since I was born.

When I was a child most homes had an automobile. We call them cars. We still walked most places. Everything in the little towns I lived in was too close to bother with driving.

Back then cars were built sturdy and to last a long time. They were very large. They had one long seat in the front and the same in the back. There were no seat belts or air bags. The steering wheel was huge. Tires were not as sturdy as they are now so there were a lot of flat tires.

Gas stations could fix those flats. They also did minor repairs. Most of those older cars could be repaired with a screwdriver, pliers, and a bit of wire.

Gas stations also offered full service. When you stopped for gasoline they washed the windows, checked under the hood for oild and water levels. They checked the air pressure in the tires and filled them if needed. All as part of the regular service and all FREE!

Gas was not free. But it was inexpensive. My father used to fill the 16 gallon tank and hand the attendant $2.00 and get change back.

Once a new gas station opened in town. It was right across the street from the existing station. There was a price war. For the longest time gasoline was 6¢ per gallon. Wouldn't that be nice now? And we still got full service.

Now cars do not necessarily need gasoline to operate. We have electric cars and hybrids that use both gas and electricity. They are working on cars that will hover above the ground instead of rolling along.

Penny candy was the joy of my life. For a penny there were many items you could purchase. KitKats came in a little 4 piece package. You could get a piece of bubble gum. There was a whip of licorice either red or black. Pixie sticks. Gumballs. Jawbreakers. Tootsie rolls. Suckers or lollipops. A child's handful of jelly beans or candy corn. You get the idea.

Soda pop was 5¢ and you got 1 penny back when you returned the bottle. It only came in bottle then.
Candy bars were 5¢ and my mother complained. She said they used to buy a big chocolate bare for a nickel and there would be enough for all of them to share.

There was a soda fountain at the drug store. One of my favorite treats was a phosphate. Phosphates are carbonated drinks made right at the soda fountain. You could choose any one of the delicious flavored syrups (also used to top sundaes) and that would be the flavor of the phosphate.

If you lived in town milk was delivered 6to the house. It came in milk bottles with little cardboard inserts at the mouth of the bottle to close it. When my children were small I had milk delivered but it came in cartons. I do not know if home delivery exists any more.

The saddest thing I have observed is the loss of freedom to be a child. We would be outside from the time we woke in the morning until it was time to be home for the night. It was safe to wander all over town or through the countryside. Nobody would bother us. Children now have to be wary of every person they encounter. Sad

I had an excellent education as a child. Now pay attention. There were three grades to a room. The teacher in the room taught all three grades. She taught all subjects, reading, writing, arithmetic, history, art, and recess. Often she was also our music teacher. She escorted us to lunch and made us mind. We learned at school. There was NO HOMEWORK.

I still do not believe in homework. And now teachers have specialized classes. Students with similar abilities are placed in the classroom. It seems to me that teachers could, oh I don't know, maybe teach. Then there would be time to play after school because that is a valuable part of their learning experience.

Music has changed so much. I came in at the end of the big band era. I really do not remember it but I listen to some of the big bands and love the music. Rock'a'billy and rock and roll were what I listened to when I was young. My parents liked country music and I do too. My family listened to classical music too. I have to be in the mood but it is called calssical for a reason.

The English invasion changed the way we viewed music. They took rock and roll and the blues and turned our music world upside down. Then came disco music. Now hip hop but I am seeing a return of some of the older styles coming back.

Clothing styles. Oh my goodness. When I was little women were very modest in their clothing. Most women wore dresses all the time. The hem of the skirts fell below the knee. Little girls wore short skirts with lots of petticoats. When I was a teenager miniskirts were the rage. And little girls skirts became longer.

There were sack dresses with no shape, mini skirts, maxi skirts, the little black dress, muu muus, caftans, sleeveless, strapless, spaghetti straps. Permanent press fabrics made ironing easier and sometimes even unnecessary.

I have seen terrible things happen. The Viet Nam War, the Gulf wars, terrorism running rampant. I watched the endless reruns of President Kennedy being assassinated. The drum cadence from his funeral will be in my head forever.

I was actually watching television when they were transferring Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby jumped out of the crowd and killed him. There was nothing on TV for a week that did not deal directly with the assassination.

I saw the Challenger explode after take-off with seven crew members on board. I heard the astronauts when the capsule caught fire on the launch pad.

The World Trade Center suffered from an explosion in one of the underground parking lots of the World Trade Center in New York City. A truck with explosives made of fertilizer blew up at the front of a government building in Oklahoma City. I was just home from work and had dosed off on the couch when I woke up just in time to see the second airplane fly into the World Trade Center the day it collapsed and the whole world became fearful.

That was the day I called my sister. We worked together and rode to and from work together. I asked her if she was still awake and if she had her television on. She said yes and no respectively. Her question was a moderately disinterested why. I said, "Somebody just declared war on us!"

Children go to school with weapons and bombs intending to kill as many people as possible. People go to the movie theater with automatic weapons and open fire  People shoot stab, beat, and bomb at an alarming rate today. We live in an increasingly violent society.

When I was a teen-ager Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend Carol Ann Fugate went on a killing spree. They killed her whole family and then traveled across Nebraska and Wyoming. Charles Manson and his followwers were found guilty of killing a total of seven people in California. The list goes on. It is just too sad.

My own children were raised in a large city. I always hated it there but a person goes where the work is. I told them of growing up in a part of the country where people are polite. If you walk down the street and encounter another person you both smile pleasantly and say, "Hello." People say please and thank you. If you need assistance you can get it. If someone else needs assistance you offer it.

I am not certain they believed me. A few years ago one of my sons moved to this area. He loves it here and recently told me he cannot believe how friendly and nice people are.

I think there is one more amazing changes in me. Stay tuned.

Friday, May 2, 2014


Before I forget to give credit where it is due Thank you to John from Don't unplug your Hub. His post today got me to thinking about how things have dramatically changed over the years.

I was born in 1947, part of the post-war baby boom. At that time they still routinely put mothers to sleep to deliver babies. We have since decided that pre-delivery enemas (pardon me to the weak of stomach) are not necessary to a healthy birth. Shaving of delicate places by a nurse with inch long pointed fingernails is not practiced any more. Many birthing processes have been tried but natural childbirth, with an assist from pain medication seems to be the norm now.

Radio was the home entertainment for most people. If your home was not connected to electrical systems (and many were not) crystal radios could be used to pick up the ball game on the week-ends. A wire connected to the screen door as a ground improved reception immensely. Late at night after most stations were shut down by FCC regulations, some of the big radio stations could kick up their power. Then we could get things like the Grand Ole Opry. And WLS in Chicago played rock and roll.

Transistor radios were invented so we could carry our music with us. We could sing along and dance along even if we were at the park. That is if the reception in the area was good enough. We had favorite disc jockeys who introduced us to the newest songs and singers as well as playing music that we already loved. But we had no choices except to call in to make a request. And we also sang along with the commercial jingles. They were catchy tunes.

Then along came FM radio stations. You would not automatically lose reception on the car radio if you went through a short underpass like you would with AM radio. Now there are station networks like Sirius XM. You can choose whatever you wish to hear. It could be music, comedy, or sports. And with no commercials.

Record players allowed us to listen to our favorites over and over. Some of us had extensive record collections. There were LP's (long playing records) which eventually were called albums. They contained several songs on each side. They were played at a speed of 33 1/3 RPM's.

There were older 78 RPM records. I discovered some great music on those. They had one to three songs on each side. 78's were even more breakable than the albums.

The most popular records were the 45's. They are the small 7 inch in diameter records you most often see in the old teenage type movies. For 45 cents we could buy the latest hit single with another song by the artist on the flip side. With any luck it would be a hit too. The 45's are the records that needed the insert to keep it on the spindle centering the record on the phonograph player.

Then along came tape recorders. They were clumsy affairs. One reel of tape would be placed on it's spindle. The tape itself would be threaded through the heads of the machine and connected to another reel that would neatly wind up the tape so it could be played again. Then came tape players that not only recorded and played but they did not require the reels. Wow. How handy.

For the car there were 8-track tapes. Basically they were albums in a small (at the time) plastic box. You inserted them into the 8-track player and listened to the music.

Once everyone who was interested had invested in 8-tracks and 8-track players for their houses and cares along came cassettes. They were like little reel to reel players enclosed in a plastic case. The case fit into the cassette player to play the music. They took up less room than 8-tracks. The major problem with cassettes was that the tape was exposed at the point where the player heads came into contact in order to play the tape. Often the tape would tangle in the player. It could be necessary to break the tape to get it out. Once it was broken it could not be played ever again.

Now we have CD's and CD players. CD is short for compact disc. Again it needs it's own player. But now we could burn our own CD's. We could copy music from CD's we had purchased. We could even "pirate" music from the internet if we chose to. And the CD's we burned ourselves could hold a lot more songs.

But to improve things even more we now have portable media players like iPod. We can download music to them, stick them in a pocket, place the earbuds in our ears, and have hundreds of songs at our disposal.

There was another improvement over the radio. Television made it's entrance. TV had been around for several years before it was introduced at the 1939 World's Fair. Envisioned uses for it were as military tools and for closed-circuit broadcasts of sporting events.

After World War II television stations began to broadcasting programs to a limited audience. The audience was limited because most people thought TV was a fad that would never replace the reality of radio.

Little by little more households bought televisions. Television networks were formed with regular programming available.

The first televisions were large cabinet style wooden cases full of the tubes necessary to operate it. The viewing screen was so small. The pictures on the screen were black and white. After all movies were still being made in black and white too. (Color movies were made but so expensive to make that it was a budget thing. Besides many movie theaters were not equipped to show movies in color.)

I remember the first TV my parents bought. There was much to-do about carrying it in. Then the antenna had to be installed on the roof and connected to the TV. Then it had to be adjusted for the best possible picture.

Television at that time was not a 24 hour affair. In the morning it signed on with a prayer and the national anthem. At night it signed off at midnight with a prayer with a showing of the Flying Blue Angels then the national anthem.

Programming consisted of a lot of variety shows in the evening. There were occasional plays performed live. During the day were soap operas, news programs, and game shows.

Before and after school were children's programs. Cowboys were the order of the day. Saturday's had cartoons in the morning for children. Sports programming was available for fathers who were home for the weekend from work. Sunday nights were for family programs.

But we wanted color TV. One day my father came home with a contraption to give us programming in color. It was a piece of plastic that was colored blue at the top clear in the middle and green at the bottom. Stretched across the TV screen it gave sky at the top (even if the scene was indoors) and grass at the bottom (even if there was snow).

Transistor circuits began to replace tubes in the televisions. The screens were larger even if the television console was not. With fewer tubes it became easier to build new sets with the capability to receive color programming. More programs were being broadcast in color. Now they are all color.

Televisions changed their looks too. The screens were larger. The consoles were smaller. Finally tubes were a thing of the past.

Televisions were a luxury. In most homes it was located in the living room. The family who could receive more than one of the three networks might argue over which programs to watch. Dad always had the final say.

Now we have flat screen TV's. They snuggle up nicely close to the wall on a small table. Or you can even mount them on the wall like a painting. Surround sound makes it seem like you are in the middle of all the action.  Being a baseball fan I love that. I actually prefer to watch the games on TV to going to the ballpark. I get a good seat and my beverages do not cost nearly as much.

There are now more than just the three major networks. And with cable TV the theory is that there are hundreds of channels and programs to choose from. All in color.

It is unusual to have only one television set in the home. There is a central television in the living room. There may be one in each bedroom. Some homes even have one in the kitchen to enable Mom to watch as she cooks

Telephones were another form of communication. The first ones were a box mounted on the wall. There was a receiver that was held to your ear as you talked into the mouthpiece that was part of the main box. To get the attention of the operator you would twist the crank on the side. Then she could connect you to the party you wished to speak to. And yes my family had one.

Time moves on. Telephones became smaller. They could be mounted on the wall or even set stylishly on a table. Either way the ear piece and mouthpiece were now one and the rest of the phone stayed put. Some homes even had extension phones so you would not have to get up and run to the phone in say the middle of the night.

These phones were black and rather large. No longer did you have to dial the operator to make a local call. There was a rotary dial on the phone. Simply dial the number of the party and you would be connected.

Of course long distance calls still needed the assistance of the operator. There was one, ONE, telephone company. All calls went through their system.

It became the "in" for teenagers to have a phone of their own in their rooms. That meant a separate phone line and a separate number. It also meant phones in new colors to appeal to teenagers. Colored phones also meant that they could be ordered to blend in with the colors of the room decor.

New telephone companies formed and broke the monopoly enjoyed by the original company. Prices were supposedly more competitive.

Cordless telephones became the rage. It was so much easier to carry the phone with you throughout the house than to be tied to a small area by stationary phones.

Wealthy people began to use mobile phones in their cars and on their boats. Mobility had begun to be important. Many people began to carry beepers. When the device would beep you could look at the number that called you and call back.

Pay telephones could be found in a lot of places. If you were out and needed to call home a nickel, then a dime, then a quarter, and so on, would allow you to make a quick call. As more mobile devices were being used telephone booths became fewer. They are now a thing of the past.

Then came cell phones. You could keep your phone on your person at all times to call and receive calls at any time. Very convenient.

I resisted getting a cell phone for a long time. I do not want to be that connected to anybody. But I also recognize that it can be a valuable tool and even a safety device so I have one now. I hardly ever use it but it is available when I might need it.

In many families every member of the family has a call phone. Parents can contact their children at any time. I am sometimes disturbed when I see people who have to have the phone to their ear at all times but I guess that is what they like.

It seems like the new culture is based arounf cell phones. There is even a whole new language evolving for use on the phone. Ah, progress.

Wow. Just three technologies I have seen change dramatically in my life. And I got to watch it happen. But I have just begun. Next time I'll try to not be so long-winded.