Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Niagara Falls

My mother and I worked for the same company for a time. We taught people how to paint on cloth and almost any surface. Then we hoped to sell them the paints and other materials needed to do the painting.

The company was having a convention in Niagara Falls, Canada. We decided to go. My husband would care for our children. My father decided to go too so my youngest brother and sister also went because they were quite young.

Niagara Falls was not far from where we lived so we drove. Of course. And Daddy drove the whole way because Daddy always drove. And when Daddy drove what we did was get in the car and he would start it up. Then he would aim it and off we would go at top speed.

My father was a good driver. He just did not want to mess around. No bathroom stops unless absolutely necessary and who needs food anyhow? We were there in practically no time at all.

My family did a lot of road time as I was growing up so we had road games to keep us occupied. One of the favorites was watching license plates. Each new state was added to our list. It could be played while we tried to be the first to spot a haystack, a billboard with yellow on it, or a scarecrow. We watched for unusual names for towns and funny signs. It was fun.

We made the decision to go at the last minute so our hotel was not the same one where the convention was being held. That was about a block and a half away. But it was a nice place.

We were right next to the Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum. They had oddities on display. My favorite is the giant faucet that is suspended from wires but not connected to a water supply. Yet water flows constantly from the faucet. Even though I know the secret of how it works it fascinates me.

Roughly two blocks away was Niagara Falls itself. All we had to do was walk across the park in front of the hotel, cross a little street, and there we were.

There is a viewing platform with guard railing to protect you from getting too close or falling in. You can walk right up to stand beside the spot where the water falls over into the pool below. Standing in that spot you can be hypnotized by the amount of water. It is almost like a crowd trying to get out of a crowded theater that is on fire.

It falls into the pool below and splashes halfway back up just from the force. Down there it bubbles and churns constantly.

There is an observation area behind the falls down there. We were not able to see it because they were working on it while we were there.

We did take a ride on The Maid Of The Mist boat. They provide each passenger with yellow rain slickers and hats to protect clothing. Then they take you right up next to where all that water lands after it falls from above. You are in the midst of the thickest mist ever.

After the ride you have to climb a steep set of steps to get back up where you belong.

In the near distance you can see the Horseshoe Falls. They are part of the Niagara Falls complex. We never did get down to see them because we were busy with meetings and workshops.

So during that trip we saw few of the sights. For myself I was happy to just stare at all that water roiling over the edge and down into the pool below.

All the way home my youngest brother and I drove Daddy crazy by making weird noises. Until he coould take it no more and yelled at us anyway. It was kind of fun being a kid again.

My mother and I stopped in Niagara Falls again many years later when we were on vacation together. It has changed so much.

There is a little strip mall type of place on the street we crossed to get to Niagara Falls. Most of the shops were closed while we were there. We did not go on Maid Of The Mist because Mom was not crazy about the water. But I did stand and watch that immense amount of water charge over the edge to the pool below.

Friday, July 27, 2018

My Family Part 9

My first son was born the day after Mother's Day. It was an easy delivery. Doctors did not tell you in advance whether you were having a boy or a girl. I was hoping for a boy. I wanted him to have the same name as my favorite singer. When my husband mentioned that as a possible name I jumped at it. His middle name is his father's first name.

As I was lying there in that particularly attractive position one assumes while giving birth the doctor told me I had a son. Then he held him up for me to see. That was the ugliest baby I had ever seen!

Admittedly I had never seen a newborn before. But his features all seemed to come to a point in the front of his face. Remember the old cartoons of Heckle and Jeckle the two stupid ugly crows? That is what he looked like. I remember the exact words I thought were "Oh my God. I had a buck-toothed idiot."

But I loved that ugly little thing so much. I had read in a magazine just a few days earlier that all mothers want to know the number of fingers and toes of their new babies. I had decided to ask just to be a smart aleck but I was so happy and so in love with my new baby that I did not ask such a stupid question.

When they took me to my room my husband was allowed to visit me. I was so happy to have given him a son. He looked nervous.

He began by telling me that he was not sure if he should tell me or not but...  In that instant I knew that something was terribly wrong. My baby had died or was extremely ill and dying. You do not realize how many thoughts can race through your mind in the instant between two words. But the baby has two thumbs.

The relief that washed over me was instantaneous. I looked at him and said, "Is that all?" He thought I was nuts.

My son did indeed have two thumbs on one hand. They were both real thumbs bent together to look a bit like a lobster claw. I had watched his hands and feet as the nurses were measuring and weighing him. They were so much bigger than his little 6 pound15 ounce body seemed to warrant. I did not notice the extra thumb.

As a matter of fact neither did the doctor or nurses. My husband had found it when they showed him his new son. He actually called his mother to ask her whether he should tell me. She told him that I might notice so it was best to tell me.

After a few hours they finally brought my baby to me for a feeding. His face settled into place as it should be. He was beautiful.  No more Heckle and Jeckle.

I knew I wanted to breast-feed. It is the natural way and healthier for the child and the mother. So I did. The nurses tried to discourage me. It messed up their schedules you know.

My husband worked for a candy company. He brought me a yard long box of chocolates instead of flowers. When the nurse came in to get the baby after a feeding I offered her a piece of candy.

"Emma! You can't be eating that if you are nursing! Don't you know what it will do to the baby?"

Apparently chocolate has been known to give babies diarrhea. Nobody told me that. (After my first baby I relaxed a bit and did not worry as much. I would have eaten the candy then.)

My son grew normally. I had all the time in the world to spend with him. Early in the afternoon was the time we spent with no one else allowed to intervene. I would prop him into the corner made by the arm of the couch and the back. I would look at him and sing or tell stories. I would tell him how much I loved him.

When he was four months old he began to answer me. It was real words. People thought I was exaggerating but I knew what I heard. Other people who were there saw and heard him. He was talking.

I wrote to tell my mother-in-law all the things he could say. She chuckled to herself, knowing that I was just being a young new mother. Then she came to visit.

It was time for my son and I to be together so my mother-in-law and sister-in-law sat across the room and talked to each other. Suddenly Mom's head snapped up and she said, "My God Emma. That kid can talk!"

My son had an extraordinary memory. One time after he was grown he reminded me of an incident I had completely forgotten. We lived in an apartment building on the third floor. It was a bad neighborhood but I watched my son very closely.

He was a little past his first birthday. I was washing dishes in the kitchen and he was playing in the front room. When I went to check on him, the front door was open and he was gone!

Needless to say I was frantic. I ran out hoping he was in the hall. Not there. I ran to one end hoping he had not fallen down the stairs. Not there. I ran toward the stairs at the other end.

On my way I noticed one of the other apartments had its front door slightly ajar. I called out hoping whoever was in there might have seen my baby. No one answered. I went over and gently pushed the door open wider. I wanted my child.

There inside was my little boy wandering around looking at everything in the place. No one was home. With a huge sigh of relief I took him home after firmly closing their door.

My parents had moved to the big city to be nearer to us and for my father to find work. They rented an apartment on the first floor of the same building we lived in. My father adored his first grandchild. The feeling was mutual. One of my favorite photos is a snapshot of the two of them.

Daddy sat with his legs crossed in that figure four that men do. My son often sat in the space it created on Grandpa's lap. That day Mom got a picture of the two of them fast asleep. Daddy's head is slightly back and my son is sitting in that space with his feet toward Grandpa and his little head rolled slightly to one side on Grandpa's knee. It is a picture of love.

As I said it was a bad neighborhood. Often in the evenings some of the tenants of the building would congregate on the front steps of the building trying to keep cool. Across the street was a small hotel. The only occupants of the hotel  stayed there for only short intervals. They were the ladies that stood on the corners and invited their gentlemen callers inside for a short while.

Half a block away on our side of the street there was a fast food place. My son was fascinated by, of all things, the legs of the ladies from across the street. One day a couple of them sashayed on our side of the street, right in front of us, on their way to get something to eat.

My son set off behind them with his eyes glued to their legs the whole time. I was laughing and decided to follow at a short distance to see how far he would go before he realized I was not there. Apparently mothers cannot compete with legs. I had to run up and grab him shortly before they got to the corner.

My son has always had an extreme view of right and wrong. There are no gray shades for him. Unfortunately he expects every one of us to live up to those standards too.

When my son was about 8 or 9 we lived in a house. His father was home with the other children while my son and I went to pick up some groceries. When we returned I parked our van. Then we saw my 6 year old and 2 year old come running around the corner with a group of bigger boys hot on their tails.

The bigger boys lived in a multiple family building behind us. They were constantly teasing and picking on my children.

My son threw down the bag of groceries and screamed,"THAT DOES IT!" He took off after those much bigger boys. I grabbed my other two and told them to get their father.(He had fallen asleep and had no idea of what was happening)

In the meantime I could hear my son in the alley daring the boys to come fight. I started that way because there were several of them and they were several years older. Near the end of my backyard, here came their mothers.

Now is when I should tell you that I seldom get angry. My husband after all those years of marriage had never seen me angry. Out of the corner of my eye I could see him coming to take care of the problem. I also saw his jaw drop and him stop in midstep with one foot in the air as I said to those mothers, "You hold it right there!"

I gave them a good tongue lashing. When they would try to come back with a feeble "but..." I shut them right up. These were my babies they were attacking! I finally sent them home and there was an uneasy truce after that. My husband stood frozen in place with his mouth open and one foot in the air the whole time.

My son did very well in school. There was another boy who had been top dog at school before my son started there. Naturally there had to be a fight.

I had picked the boys up at school because I had a quick errand to run. My son insisted he could not go with me because he had to fight this other kid. I finally told him I would run my errand and we would be in time for me to drop him off at the designated spot. My son insisted I could not stay.

When we arrived at the meeting place no one else was there. I felt confident that the other boy would not show so I left. It was only a block or so from home.

When my son came home he said the other boy had decided not to go to the fight. The strange thing is that they became fairly good friends after that.

Some of the students in my son's class had misbehaved. The teacher decided to hold all the children after school to write some sentence 100 times as a punishment. My son took his blank sheet of paper up to the teacher. He told her he had done nothing wrong and was not going to be punished for what others had done. He left the classroom and came home.

When he told me about it I suggested he could write the sentence at home and turn it in next day. He looked at me like I was daft and again said he was not going to be punished for something he did not do.

I did go talk to the teacher, Her response was that she was proud of him for sticking up for himself. She told me that he was an honest child and if he felt he did not deserve to be punished she respected that.

My son was the kind of kid that could get into a fight right in front of the principal and the principal would pat him on the head and tell him it would be taken care of. Then he would suspend the other participant from school for a few days. His honest reputation followed him.

My first child decided at a very young age he did not want to marry or have children. No mother wants to hear that. I explained to him how good he is with children and he would probably change his mind.

He said that he had younger cousins to spend time with. When I explained that those cousins would grow up someday he countered that by that time his brothers and sisters would have children. He was right of course. So he has never married and never had children. He has never indicated to me that he regrets his decision so I respect that.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

On The Porch

Some of my fondest memories are of sitting on the porch. Some are not quite as fond .

From the time I can remember I would sit on the porch listening to the grown-ups laughing and telling family stories. They were all fascinating to me even if I had heard them before.

Grandpa would light his pipe. He was a quiet man but once in a while he had a good story to tell.

Great-grandpa with his leprechaun (or so I thought) voice had some good family stories. I thought he was talking about the "old country" but he was not. He came to the United States when he was a baby after his mother died. He was talking about growing up in Nebraska.

The one I really loved to listen to was Uncle Harold. His voice was hypnotic. I could listen to him all day.

Great-uncle Elmer was called Unc. He also told good stories and was almost as good as Uncle Harold.

After the kitchen was cleaned the women would join the men on the porch and the talk turned more to family things. There would also be more than one conversation at a time. Sometimes confusing.

While the other kids were off playing I could be found sitting quietly on the porch listening. I knew better than to join in because they would shoo me away.

It was all so tranquil. Sometimes we would all just sit and watch the sun go down.

I was about 5 years old. My mother gave me permission to walk to the end of the street to play with my friend who was a little older. No one was home there so I decided to wait. I was enjoying my freedom.

To amuse myself I jumped off the steps of her porch. First I stepped onto the first step and jumped to the sidewalk. Then I went to the second step and jumped off. One step at a time I jumped and climbed one more step to jump from.

I made it to the top and began in reverse. First to the top step then the next from the top. At the next to the top step I saw my friend's mother pull her car into the driveway. I waved happily and jumped.

Unfortunately I landed in the grass instead of on the sidewalk. There wa a broken fruit jar there. I landed on a piece of it with my hand.

It was a deep cut so my friend walked me home. Mom stopped the bleeding and bandaged me right up. I still have an ugly scar on the heel of my hand.

My youngest sister was afraid of everything. The vacuum cleaner, the blender, basically anything that made a loud noise. Usually my mother and I teamed up. One of us would vacuum while the other held my sister close. The screaming was not as loud.

The lawn mower fascinated her. She was terrified when Daddy or one of my brothers would start it up. But she liked to watch it cut the grass. Go figure.

Once we were at Grandma's and the boys were going to mow the lawn while Daddy supervised. The lawn mower roared to life and my sister screamed for her life.

I quickly grabbed her and ran through Grandma's house and onto the screened in porch. I held my sister tightly. She contentedly watched the rest of the process.

On rainy days we played on our porch. Jacks were fun as long as we played where the ball could not bounce out into the rain. Board games were played or maybe I would just lean back with a good book.

Grandma and Grandpa had a porch that went from the front of their house all the way around one side. Part of it was screened which I found so luxurious. There was actually old furniture to sit on. I liked playing out there even in the winter. Grandma let me because I did not track snow into her kitchen.

I have a picture from the early 1950's that I really like. We were at Uncle Gerald's house. We had taken Grandma with us. After we ate we all went to the porch to relax.

It was obviously a hot day. All of us were looking wilted and squinting at the sun. There we all are sitting on the porch. I have no idea who took the picture because no one is missing.

When I was grown and had my own family I liked having a porch. At one house on a busy street my porch was sort of small. It had room for my three old wooden rocking chairs though. I would sit and watch my children play in the afternoons.

I could see the neighbor with his friends all sitting at a table in their front yard. They would drink and talk about mechanical things.

I watched our dog race motorcycle riders who drove by.

One day a neighbor child came to play. He would only play with one of my sons at a time. He tried to pit them against each other which upset me but I tried to let them work it out.

One day he decided to play with my oldest son. My second son was fine with it. He was watching ants climb a tree. The neighbor kid started to yell at my second son to try to start a fight between my sons.

My son tore himself away from his ants. He stood and watched the neighbor. I was behind my son but I saw him cock his head to one side. Then he cocked his head to the other side as if he was trying to solve a puzzle.

All of a sudden as the neighbor was still yelling my son just reached out and punched him. First the kid had a shocked look on his face. Then he started to screasym. Even though he was older than either of my boys he ran home crying.

The thing about my children is that they may fight with each other but no one else is allowed to. Both my boys took off after the kid. He made it home safely because he had a good head start.

One day the kids and I were coming home from the store. I was tired and looking forward to relaxing on the porch. I saw a car with some rocking chairs in the trunk. I mentioned that I would like some more rockers for the porch.

When we got home I discovered that I had seen my rockers driving away!

I was visiting my youngest son. My grandchildren were out playing while us adults were just sitting around talking.

My granddaughter came in. Very shyly she said, "Grandma, I smell rain in the air. Do you want to come on the porch and watch it with me?" Of course I did! It was a glorious rain.

My second son's wife and I were sitting on the porch late one afternoon. My sons were messing with a car. As we were talking my sons suddenly and without a word walked past us and went into the house.

After the surprise of it was over I began to laugh. My daughter-in-law looked at me like I was crazy.

I had to explain. The street lights had just turned on. When they were younger the rule was that when the street lights come on they were to come in the house. It was just a habit.

My children are now in their 40' and 50's and they still go in when the streetlights come on.

See what a joy a porch can be?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Week That Was

I hate to complain. I really do. That being said I am going to complain.

It has been such a week. The flooding around here is going down. We have still had a couple of heavy rainfalls but they are few and far between now.

We have traded them for sweltering weather. It has been mostly hot and humid. Unbearably hot and humid. Thank goodness for air conditioners.

My son and I each have window air conditioners in our bedrooms. There is also one in the living room that cools the rest of the house. We stay comfortable thank goodness.

I woke up one day last week. As I usually do I snuggled in my room for a while. I look out the window. I watch the news. Getting up slowly is not a luxury I used to have so I take full advantage of it.

When I got up to have breakfast and watch a little TV I noticed that my son had turned the air conditioner in the living room off. I did not turn it on because it was not unreasonably warm in the house yet. Besides he had the remote control for it and I did not want to get out of my chair while I was eating.

I heard a strange noise every once in a while. Then I realized that the air conditioner was trying to turn on.

I went and got my son. He turned it off. Apparently the fan had burned out. And of course it was going to be extremely hot that day.

We both began to look on our computers for a sale. My son found one. Off we went to buy a new air conditioner.

By the time we returned home I was feeling the effects of the heat and went to my room to cool off for a few minutes.

My son was anxious to install it so he stayed where it was too hot.

As soon as I was able I came into the living room to help him with putting it in the window. It did not take long to cool the house. But by that time my son was feeling the effects of the heat. He was ill for a couple of days.

Then the computer my son has in his room crashed. He built it from scratch more than 10 years ago. I know he likes it better than his laptop. He takes such good care of it.

He messed with it all weekend and finally has it up and running like it should. Now he is busy re-installing programs.

My son awoke today to a message about his credit score. There has been a charge reported as unpaid from when he had some tests done at the beginning of the year.

In the first place he paid what he needed to pay when he was at the hospital. In the second place he was billed for overdue fees a couple of months later.

We called and when the woman went through his records it showed that he did not owe them any money. She assured us it was amended in their records and sent him a receipt showing that he is paid in full. That is a good thing.

Now the charges are back again.

We were not home long enough today to make the necessary calls. Tomorrow will be soon enough.

He feels bad because he had been working hard at building his credit. Up until now he always paid cash for everything so it has taken him some time.

Once he gets things straight with the hospital he can dispute the bad mark. What a mess.

The reason we had no time today was that he had a doctor's appointment. I usually go along for something to do. We also decided to stop at the store and get some ice cream. It is a good treat when the temperature rises.

I told him I would buy supper (fast food) if he would pay for a couple of personal items I bought.

As we sat waiting for our food at the fast food place my truck started to overheat. By the time we parked the engine was steaming and water was overflowing.

We were between 25 and 30 miles from home. What a predicament. It was late and repair shops were closed.

So we bought some anti-freeze and as soon as the truck cooled enough to start we decided to brave the ride home.

It did not want to run untill I pulled into a main road. I kind of punched the gas a bit and it loosened so I could get a little speed.

There are no little towns between here and there so I was able to keep a steady speed which kept the engine cool. We are safely home. Our ice cream did not completely melt but it is soft. So much for that adventure.

Now I have to call the mechanic in the morning to see when he can look at it.

What a week.

Friday, July 13, 2018

My Family Part 8

The man I married was really a boy when we married. I was merely a girl. I do not believe I would change anything. At the same time we should have been older. We wanted to be married and we were.

He came from a big Irish family. They are all wonderful people and I care for them very much. They are as much my family as the family I was born into. He was just as close to my family.

David was a hard worker even as young as he was when I met him. He dropped out of school after the 8th grade. That was as soon as he legally was able. It was not unusual during that time even if it was unwise.

He was good at hiding the fact that he could not read. I did not realize that he was illiterate until long after our first child was born. When it became obvious that I was not the one to teach him he enrolled in night school.

He went to two different night schools. Both were teaching reading to students who could already read. He was discouraged.

A few years later we found a night class teaching people who did not read English. He not only liked the class but I think he had a bit of a crush on his teacher.

My husband worked menial jobs for several years. It was hard for him having a boss near telling him what to do. His Irish temper would flare and he would soon be at another job.

Driving a truck was a good job for him. He was by himself all the time. No boss issuing orders.

 A fellow truck driver moved to Tennessee and began his own trucking company. He asked my husband to work for him. Since the pay was better my husband said yes. That was the end of his schooling.

I was due to have my third baby and was not able to travel. My children and I stayed with my parents until the baby and I were cleared to travel. Then we all moved to Tennessee.

It was nice there. With my husband gone during the week the kids and I were on our own. We were able to explore all over the place.

After a couple of years and another baby we moved back to Michigan. The new speed limit laws were hard on drivers and the companies.

We started a business. Actually he did the work while I kept the finances.

As many marriages do ours did not work. We tried to get it back but it sort of died. Our divorce was final on our oldest son's 18th birthday.

We did not remain friends. At the same time I knew I could count on him and he knew he could count on me.

My husband was only 62 years old when he died. All the years of smoking, drinking, and not taking care of himself caught up to him. He had cancer.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


June 23, 2018,  twelve boys from a soccer team in Thailand decided to go exploring with their assistant coach. They had explored this cave before

They went further than before. Then rainwater filled some of the passages in the cave and the boys had to go even further looking for a safe place.

They found a higher place and waited for the water to go down so they could get out and go home. But the water did not go down. They were stranded.

After 10 days divers finally located the boys. They were hungry but the coach did his best to keep up their spirits. He had a small amount of food in his backpack which he doled out to the boys.

The dilemma now was to get them safely out. The passage is treacherous. Besides being under water in many places too large for even experienced swimmers to safely navigate the rock is extremely sharp. Most of the boys did not know how to swim.

The oxygen levels were getting lower and lower. The rescuers were bringing in oxygen, food, and safe water. It just was not in large amounts.

Then came the rain clouds. It is becoming monsoon season in Thailand. Heavy rains would fill the tunnels that rescuers had been pumping out to reduce water levels.

A Thai Navy SEAL diver lost his life when his oxygen supply ran out.

The rescuers were giving the stranded boys a crash course in breathing through a mask under water. Something it takes a long time for most divers to learn.

All the options were considered. It was decided to bring them out with 2 experienced divers for each boy.  It is an hours-long trek from their little place of safety in the cave to the mouth of the cave.

Medical personnel were waiting to administer immediate treatment and precursory examination before the boys were transported to a hospital. Ambulances and helicopters waited at the ready.

Finally Sunday 4 of them were rescued and are now in the hospital. Monday 4 more are safe. There are five of them left.

Oxygen supplies along the cave need to be replenished and the divers need to sleep.

I would love to awaken tomorrow to learn that the rest are all safely out. Officials are saying not until Wednesday at the earliest.

The monsoon rains still threaten. I hope they hold off until every little soul is out of there.

Friday, July 6, 2018

We Need To Remember

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"George Santayana

 I try so hard not to inject my feelings into this blog. It is for my family. I am pleased that anyone else is interested. It is supposed to be about family history and anecdotes.

Something happens from time to time that worries me. It is the destruction of the past.

I fully support the righting of wrongs. For instance if a group has been discriminated against we need to make things right. As humans we have no right to treat others as 'less than'.

Wars are terrible actions. Men and women and children lose their lives unnecessarily.

In the daily course of life people die. The causes of death vary. Those people are loved and mourned by their loved ones.

There are monuments of all kinds erected to commemorate the past. They are as simple as headstones on a grave or as elaborate as Mount Rushmore with its sculpting of some American presidents into the side of a mountain. They are reminders of the past.

Historical books have been written to record the things that happened in the past. Some are personal recollections while others are written by authors who research and come to their own conclusions about the facts. Other authors have written fiction about the way things were at a certain point in history.

Artists paint, sculpt, draw, act, write and build to preserve important times in the lives of humans.

So there are a lot of ways that the memories of times past have been perpetuated.

My concern is the destruction of these memories.

The Amir Mohammed Braighi mosque was destroyed in an uprising in Bahrain in 2011. It was done in the name of religion and intended to erase the beliefs of some people.

More than 3,000 Medieval manuscripts along with hundreds of thousands of ancient pamphlets and books were destroyed in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian war when the church they were in was destroyed by shelling. Other items lost were stained glass windows, paintings, and archaeological findings.

Of the original 7 Wonders of the World only the Great Pyramid of Giza still stands. Some were destroyed by natural disasters and some were destroyed by people. They are gone.

Throughout history there have been book burnings. Writings that did not fit into the political or religious (often the same) teachings were deemed evil and done away with.

Wars all though time have seen statues and buildings demolished to show dominance.

In the United States alone we have monuments depicting historical people and events.  Some of the events are what we consider bravery. But even the bravery is controversial.

My brother's name is one of the 57,939 etched into the VietNam Wall. They are the names of service members who lost their lives defending our country. I am proud of my brother and all the others. I call them heroes. Some call them murderers. Controversy.

Because of the controversy and the people who are offended should the Wall be destroyed? I think not. If the Wall comes down the horrors of that war and the division caused in our country may be forgotten. If we forget we  may not be more careful than to get into a similar war and mismanage it the same way.

In downtown Detroit there is a statue of a horseman in uniform. It is Count Casimir Pulaski of Poland who bravely fought to help the United States attain freedom. He was not from this country. Should his statue come down? I think not. He was insrumental to our cause. It a piece of history that should be remembered. Not everyone who fought on the side of our rebellion was a citizen of our land.

President Andrew Jackson wanted to make more land available for white settlers. Much of the land was home to Native Americans. He authorized the Tail of Tears which was a forced relocation. Under the Indian Removal Act these people were forced to walk hundreds of miles to new places to live. More than 16,000 Cherokee died. Should President Jackson be removed from the list of presidents? I think not.

Lord help us all if we forget what atrocities we committed in just this single incident. However he was a main founder of the present Democratic Party leading to greater denocracy for the common man. He also greatly  reduced governmental corruption.

Mark Twain wrote stories about life along the Mississippi River  Some of the terms he used are now repugnant to us. Should we ban his books? I think not. If we have no stories that demonstrate how people lived then, we cannot understand why things need to be better now.

Stephen Foster wrote songs in the vernacular of the slaves. Should we ban his songs? I think not. Many of his songs spoke to the fact that the slaves had feelings about family as did the rest of the population. Even if the vernacular is incorrect the sentiments are beautiful.

The American Civil War was perhaps the most ghastly time in our country. Families were so divided about which side was right. Members of a family might be found on either side. There were attrocities committed on both sides. Right now memorials of all kinds are at risk.

All people who owned slaves are vilified. We know slavery was wrong. There is no question about that.

The question is do we pull down all the monuments dedicated to slave owners or generals from one side or the other? I think not.

This time in our history cannot be forgotten. General Forrest with the Confederacy was responsible for terrible actions during the war. He is presented in history books as a bloodthirsty killer. General Sherman of the Union Army laid waste to the South in order to make them concede the war. Is one worse than the other?

If we forget the lessons we should have learned from the Civil War. we run the risk of it happening again. A better way might be to teach and remember what really happened. If the monuments are removed it becomes out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

I know that some of these representations are repulsive to some. Then let's remember and learn. Teach our children. Do whatever it takes to keep it from happening again.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Not Just A Girl

I have always been grateful to my parents because they never, not one time, told me there was anything I could not do because I was a girl. I was encouraged to try anything (as long as it was fairly safe) and praised when I tried.

My grandmother used to tell me that after I became fourteen years old I would no longer be able to  1. wear shorts, 2. tie my fathers shirt at the waist when I wore it, 3. go barefoot, and a variety of other nonsense. My parents didn't directly contradict her to me. They only showed me by example that I could do whatever I felt I had the capability to do.

Naturally I was considered a tomboy because I liked playing with the boys. But I liked to play dress-up and have tea parties too. Naturally I got into a lot of trouble too.

As it is with a lot of large families some of my aunts and uncles were very close in age to me. I followed them all over the place. A couple of my brothers were there too.

The boys decided it was a fun thing to catch snakes. Not to be outdone I caught snakes too. It wasn't until much later that I realized I had caught all the snakes. Those boys were as scared as I was but I was the one stupid enough to show them that I was not afraid.

Volleyball was the acceptable sport for girls in the schools I attended. One school I went to had a really good volleyball team. I loved playing there. Our team was undefeated for several years. That included tournament games. We were good.

I played softball and football with the boys. Not at school. That would not have been allowed. I went to one school where the boys and girls even entered the building through separate doors, for goodness sake. No fraternizing with the opposite S.E.X. To this day I have not figured out how several of the girls got pregnant (pardon me, became with child) under those circumstances.

When I was in high school I took courses to prepare me for college. I had English classes, science classes, math classes, civics classes, swimming, pep club, chorus, band, modern dance, gymnastics, and team sports. It looks like a lot when I look at the list but it was spread over several years.

The one class I was not able to take was calculus. Why not, you might well ask? Does being a girl sound familiar? I was a girl and what on earth would a girl ever need with calculus? I was shocked. I had never been restricted in that way before. I went to the proper authorities but they all had the same opinion. So I do not have calculus on my resume.

So, well before Women's Lib became a cause my parents let me follow my interests no matter what other people thought should limit me because I was female. I am thankful every day that they allowed me to become a strong individual.