Category Archives: family

Grammar Grossiosities

These are a few handy reminders of how to avoid appearing as though you are from Loma Linda or spend all day watching re-runs of the Khardasians.  These are the words and phrases that should be shunned at all costs and is an easy way to elevate your communication skills and certainly make you seem more erudite.

Totally–What are you a Valley Girl?  Even if you are drop it, totally.  You can always try completely, entirely or how about dropping any adjective altogether.  Next thing you’ll be describing someone as totally dead.

Just–You are almost always better off not using that word.   Simply eliminate it.  It should   only be used when you definitely need to make a point of emphasis.

Really–Really, you are best advised to drop this one also under nearly ever circumstance.  Again, this should be used when making an exclamatory remark and that should be a relatively rare event.  I mean most events and circumstances don’t call for that  “shouting” type lingo.  You can always try truly or even verily if you are of the more formal bent.

So–So what?  Gee whiz where in the world did this usage spring from?  It is completely, totally unnecessary word.   Silence before you begin your sentence if so much more elegant.  So are we totally clear on that?

Hey–the TV reporters seem particularly determined to use this every time they are introduced but it has spread like an unwanted linguistic virus.  It you feel compelled to make a greeting how about hello, how are you or if you wish to raise you level you could even use ahoy.   After all that was the preferred greeting of Bell for the phone but surprise, surprise it never totally caught on with the public.  The best advice is to start speaking without any lead in.

Like–Like, totally this is so juvenile and a waste of verbiage.  Drop it.  It will raise your IQ in the opinion of your listener 10 points automatically.

Lean in–What the devil is this supposed to mean?   Try harder, fight harder?  Don’t give up.  Assert yourself?  Exactly what is it you are leaning over or into?  You can do better than that.

Good or Great question–I am worn out hearing that remark.  Go straight to the response.  If it is actually a great question if will be self-evident without note.  If the questioner is bright enough to ask a good question they will be bright enough to not need needless and pointless praise.  Hopefully they don’t need the “good job” all those helicopter moms give their 7 year olds for merely walking onto the soccer field.

Awesome–How many events or occurrences in life are awesome?   My wedding, my children’s births and a hand full of athletic or business accomplishments fill out the resume for me and probably you.  The word should only be used like a fine family heirloom and worn for special occasions only.   Today suggesting a Big Mac is met with the “awesome” response, how demeaning to fine old word.

Here’s the thing–Oh, is it right there beside you?  I was looking everywhere.  Don’t use this expression.  You’ll like totally appear smarter.  It has the same linguistic value as clearing one’s throat before speaking.

Now for a few goodies for the knuckle -draggers out there that equate the sports pages with Samuel Johnson’s essays.

Physicality–What?  Those sportscasters that use this are falling into the verbal pits.  Are they talking about agility? Speed, Stamina, strength, sense of balance.  We all know they sure are not referencing the IQ of those NFL players they are describing.  I never met a physicality I liked.  But I admire physical attributes.  Oh,,,,,maybe that is what they are talking about.

Mentality–Well, first I need to observe that it is reassuring to know that there is anything mental whatsoever about those defensive ends pounding bodies into dust and start and end every sentence with “you know”.  One can only assume, generously, that it is a reference to mental attitude, one’s mental mien or an attitude of determination and emotional resilience if face of some adversity.  Can we take as a given that they are not referring to those folks as mental cases?  Both of these last two are tragic examples of language being sucked into an abyss of the lowest common denominator of cultural linguistic abuse.

Body of work–How in the world did these sports guys every latch onto this tidbit.  It has historically been used to discuss the career and works of artists.  A cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons now has a body of work.  Really, like I totally thought he was a grown man playing a game that would have no lasting impact on mankind.  But I guess now I should think anew and realize that his play is the equivalent of da Vinci.

So, you can like close your books we have leaned in on proper grammar enough for now and I know, you know, that this was a totally awesome experience for you.

“Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please”  Mark Twain.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

 

 

 

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Its A Wonderful Life–1948.

This date was picked at random by our staff’s secret algorithm.  Nothing magic about it but it was as good a year as any and at least a year that this feeble brain can still recall with a modicum of clarity.

This was the front of our drought that lasted until 1957.  I can still recall the huge cracks in the ground everywhere.  They were in our yard the playgrounds and parks.  You could also discern the effects in the cotton field right behind our house.  We moved that year to  truly fancy digs on Savoy which was the southernmost street in Oak Cliff, a section of Dallas.  It was brand new and Dad bought it with a V A loan which was a new program started after the War as part of the GI bill.  It was a cookie cutter clapboard house with 2 bedrooms and one bath.  For reasons only known to the developer of that day, there was a fake hearth in the living room with a small mantle.  It was where we placed the gas heater with the false logs.  The whole house probably had at best 1000 square feet but we had an ample backyard.  There was no paved alley and behind the house was a large cotton field that ran all the way to Kiest park.  The crop was skimpy due to the drought and the ground parched.   Within a year the development began with more cookie cutter houses and the streets and side walks being poured.   These homes were a notch above ours because they were all brick and not clapboard.

I was 6 but not yet in school because I had a September birthday and had to wait another year.  Mom worked with me more than I wanted naturally on my colors, numbers, alphabet, shapes and I suppose a little reading.  There were that first Christmas no TV antennae in the neighborhood.  That started changing right away though.  With just three years or so it was unusual to see a house without an antenna but there were still some.  Radio was the major entertainment center of the day.   Saturday mornings in particular were special because they had all the kids shows.  Buster Brown was a favorite along with Archie and his friends.  Mom would let me sit by the radio after breakfast until about noon or close to it for all those programs.  Friday night early was also terrific.  You had the Green Hornet, the Inner Sanctum, when they didn’t think it was too scary for me, the Lone Ranger and all the others.   It required imagination and I suppose that was part of the allure of all of them.  You got to imagine that Western landscape the way that fit your own image of it which in turn was no doubt influenced by the Westerns you had seen at the theatres.There was no multi-screen theatre.  But there were local movie houses in just about ever commercial area of any size.

The nickel values of the time were many.  You could get a Coke for a nickel.  All the filing stations had those big red Coke machines that stood upright and many still had those that open from the top like a large freezer.  There was nothing like that really cold Coke on a hot summer day if you could get your mom to spring for the nickel.  You kids have probably never heard the expression “its your nickel”.  It meant you had paid the nickel for the phone call so start talking and don’t waster the money.  Yep, there were pay phones everywhere.  Sometimes just on a street corner if it was a commercial neighborhood and at churches, schools, parks, and almost every retail store had one.   One advantage of the pay phone was that you weren’t on a party line.   In 1948 we were still gripped with tight regulation of the phone service and getting a phone was a real hassle with the bureaucracy, Federal of course.  But it was allegedly for our own good, like it always is with Federal programs.  Typical wait times were several years to get a private line. I distinctly remember we wanted one in 48 but didn’t finally get one until about 1953 or 1954.  That was tall cotton living I can tell you.

You could ride the bus for a nickel and sometimes for only 2 cents, that was a Saturday only deal if I remember correctly. The adults had to pay 8 cents and a dime on weekdays.   That also included the street car which were still running in 48 on a regular basis.  I always preferred the street car because you could lean out the window a little and that was especially daring when you went over a bridge or viaduct because you couldn’t even see the tracks below and it was like flying through the air and was a big thrill.  Mars, Hersey and Babe Ruths were available for that nickel and these were the full size ones and the popcorn was there for a nickel.

Don’t remember what I got for Christmas that year but I do recall getting out my Lionel train set and playing with that and the awful white flocked Christmas tree mom wanted.  The train set was from a year or maybe two before.  It was really wow.  Must have cost mom and dad 10 bucks and was so heavy. It was made out of that old cast iron but had such great detail on the engine.

It was a hard year and a good year.  The good made it easier to not notice the difficulties especially if you are only 6 and not having to pay the bills.   We could have been rich maybe but it all worked out well with me.  Can’t complain and in fact was so very blessed with my childhood.  My parents were the best, can’t blame my faults and failures on them.  Thanks Lord as I try to attain only a portion of their goodness.

“Ho Ho Ho’,,,Santa Claus, everlasting  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

 

 

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Today’s Worry From Yesterday’s View

We’ve just passed the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with all the usual alarms and horror stories from the many survivors of those events of war.   At least this year I saw one article about one of the few surviving American POW’s who witnessed the Nagasaki bombing from miles away and what his perspective was.  The article did correctly p0int out that the Japs had already issued orders to kill all remaining POW’s once the Allies launched the expected invasion of the Homeland Islands.   The POW’s naturally were unaware of their impending death sentence and most had already reached the near end of their endurance due to the extreme cruelty and brutality of their captors.   They were thrilled to learn within days that the Japs had surrendered and that they had a chance to live.  They literally were given a ladder up at last from the depths of Hell.

I was very small at that time and don’t have a specific memory of the bombings or the end of the war.  I don’t recall my dad or any of the other men coming home in a big parade.   I do remember that dad was there and we moved to a new duplex from the old one and then a new baby brother.   The War and its aftermath was the dominate event and topic of conversation for years.  By the time I started school I knew we had used a really big bomb and that made the Japs surrender.  I recall the adults when I listened to them really didn’t understand exactly how the bomb worked.   It was an “atomic” bomb I knew from hearing them and that an atom was a really tiny thing you couldn’t even see.

It was a wonder to me that anything so small could make such a big bang.  How did those miniscule bits mix around to make such a large whomp?  As a small boy playing soldier I could understand rifles, cannons, hand grenades and regular bombs but the physics of the atomic bomb were beyond me.    You could get a feel for the destruction regular bombs and artillery could do because the newsreels in the ’40’s after the War were often about the occupation of Germany, Austria and Japan and they would always show the unimaginable destruction of whole cities.  Frankly, the newsreels of Hiroshima and Nagasaki didn’t look any different than the cities like Berlin, Munich or Dresden.

When mom and dad had relatives or friends over to visit I was always watching for when the men would gather separate from the women folk and would immeditate ly stop whatever I was doing and slip in there and sit quietly somewhere so I could hear them talk.  Sooner or later they always began swapping stories about the War.  Virtually all of them were in the War.  I guess the had some acquaintances that didn’t serve but I don’t remember a single one.  They were in all services, Army, Navy, Air Corps and Marines.  I wish I had those conversations on tape today.   What a treasure trove that would be.   All except one (with a minor wound) were still in the services in August of 1945.  Without exception they expected to be soon shipped to Japan.   Never heard one word of regret or sorrow for using the atomic bomb from one of them.  They believed the Japs deserved it, earned it with their barbaric behavior and none of them were eager to face the prospects of death after four years of war.   My dad could have been on one of those Navy ships off the coast of Japan facing the 5000 kamikaze planes (yes, 5000) that the Japs still had to deploy and planned to deploy against our invasion.  I am sure glad my dad didn’t have to do that.

“These proceedings are closed” General MacArthur after the last signatures on the Japanese surrender documents.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Watchman, How Goes The Night?

There is something especially admirable about one of those turn of phrases that carries both a secular and a deeper philosophical  or religious meaning.  The title is one example of this wisdom and intelligence or luck of the unknown author, and they are always unknown it seems.

On a purely secular level we’ve only had police or cops as we now know them for less than 200 years.  The modern idea of cops comes from the movement of Robert Peel the British Prime Minister in the mid-19th century. Thus the term “Bobby” for the English cop on the beat. For most of Mankind’s journey personal security was provided by a handful of constables, sheriff’s or yes watchmen employed by the local King, Baron or other prominent person of the area.  Mostly you were on your own when it came to security after the Sun set.  Going back for centuries if you read the history you will see that those who could afford it had private guards (footmen for example) when out at night or they went about armed.  Gentlemen carried swords not for decoration but to actually defend themselves and more often to discourage the potential robber or criminal from even attempting an assault.

The term Watchman was used for centuries in the cities.  Ben Franklin referred to the Watchman when he was trying to organize a more formal police presence in Philadelphia in the 1730’s.   That was as generic term that covered Constables or others hired by the local governor or mayor to light the street lamps and make a circuit along the major streets.   So the title phrase today is more or less the equivalent of tuning into the 10 o’clock news to see if there is any danger out there.  Two centuries ago you would have asked the Watchman on his rounds if there was anything nefarious afoot.

Of more profound and emotional content is the personal introspection and depth of the inquiry.  Just as the phrase “whither thou goest”?  That is very penetrating.  Many of us much  of the time might not really want to answer that question because an honest response would be adverse to our self-esteem.  That query can apply to the immediacy of today or the panorama of our life path.   It is indeed a good and happy man that can answer that poser with equanimity.   Remember how Adam in the Garden of Eden didn’t want to answer God’s question about his original sin of the fruit and blamed everything on Eve or even God himself since He gave Adam the woman?  Our strivings in life should be such that we can actually answer that question each day of our lives.  Every day that you refuse to answer that query or are reluctant is a day you should try to correct on the morrow.  Thankfully the good Lord allows us to redeem ourselves and that is available for a day or a lifetime.   A good life is not about perfection but about perfection in effort to be noble, honest and decent.

Lead your life so that when you here that voice from within or from real but ethereal origin, calling to you–“Watchman, how goes the night”?  You can reply–all is well.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”  Proverbs 27/6.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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The Mouse In The House

Seems as though every family has a special word or phrase that they use as code to bring a smile to everyone’s face.  Usually the phrase comes from some event that occurred during the routine of life but made everyone laugh a lot at what some family member did or said.   It could be as simple as “I’ll have ketchup with that” or anything that recalls that silly or humorous event.  Like when your brother asked for ketchup and then when he hit the bottle with his hand the top cap fell off and he got a bottle of ketchup in his lap.  It passed down into family lore and simply repeating the phrase years later will make all the family smile and it will be used anything goes wrong, even without a ketchup bottle in sight.

I started using a phrase decades ago that didn’t recall a specific event but rather a circumstance.  It started with my own children and then carried over to all my grandchildren.  When our guys were little, say less than 10 and I would come home and here them running around the house doing their kid things I would often cry out “There’s a mouse in my house” or some variation of that phrase like “I hear a mouse in my house”.  I did it because usually I would hear them long before I saw their little smiles with those small baby teeth gleaming through.  I got lots of responses from “I am not a mouse” to “its me”.   But playing that little game always meant a lot to me.

It meant so much that when the grandchildren came along I would do the same thing whether they were at my house or we had gone to visit the grandchildren at their homes.  Papa more often than not would enter the abode with the sing-song cry about the mouse in the house.  It constantly made my heart light and happy when I would get a response either verbally or see one of those smiling little faces peek around at me.   They knew when they heard that phrase that old grand dad was there.

We still have several grand kids that are small enough that I can play the game with them but they now live pretty far away so the chances for it are much smaller than they used to be but I still look forward to  being able to play that game every chance I get for the next few years.  Won’t be very long and the youngest  will all be teenagers . But heck I might continue to do it even then just to irritate them and make my own heart lighter.   It was almost a daily thing for the longest time and when they all lived nearby it was certainly a regular feature of each visit.   I liked it being my trademark intro and greeting.

If you have a mouse in the house cherish every moment of that time.  The first puff of smoke from the campfire is thick and very visible but turn away for just seconds and then look back and it is gone.  You are blessed and privileged to have a mouse in your house.  Sometimes I can hear the sound of small running feet or the tiny screams and giggles of those mice I had in the house even though they are only the memories of times past but they still seem so real.   The echos of those sounds resonate in the memory chamber with a clarity formed from the happiest of times.  Your mouse is so special, may your have the wisdom to see that.

“Never take anything for granted”  Ben Disraeli, British 19th century PM.  olcranky.wordpress.com

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Christmas Memory Album

Only a week to go til Christmas morn and the weather here is about what you would expect for the time of the year.   The stockings are hung, the trees, yes plural, are decorated and the house sprouts Christmas trinkets and artifacts galore.  It is a lot of work and there of course is always the battle of trying to stay within some budget; even unlimited budgets can be busted I have learned over the years.   I, for one, do relish the nostalgia, the cloying sentimentality and the sights and sounds of the Season.  It is impossible at the end of a year to not have some reflection on not only the past year but some of the years from much farther back.   When you close your eyes you might remember the smells from the kitchen as your mom or wife prepared home-made double chocolate fudge with extra walnuts or pecans or recall the thrill of that special present under the tree when you were under 4 feet tall.   Rather than resist some of those memories I suggest your throw open the memory gate and let them flow in and surround you.  Satisfaction with life after all is but the memories we make and have.

We had trees when I was young but they varied from year to year.  The first I can actually recollect was a flocked tree with that white goo all over it.  My mom just loved those trees but the rest of us much preferred the real trees unadorned with the plastic.  They started doing those flocked trees way back because I go way back and w0uld know.  They were hard to decorate because all that goop constantly fell off when you added the lights and decorations.   For a few years when I was under 10 we did get regular green trees.  Once Dad brought home a cedar tree.  I really didn’t like that one.  Didn’t like the smell and it reminded me of hot summer days playing around them.  There are lots of them naturally in our area.  Maybe we were a little tight that year with money and Dad was able to just cut one down.  Kids never think about money they just assume you can get them what they want.  Then for several years Mom ruled the roost again and we had those blasted flocked trees.

She did give in one year  with a Frazier fir and she wanted to do the old-fashioned tree.  I was probably in my early teens about then.  She insisted that we do the popcorn garlands around the tree.  If you haven’t done than then I suggest you give it some real thought.  It ain’t as easy as the movies make it look like.  First of all you have to thread the needle and the thread needs to be really long which is a nuisance.  Then you best have a thimble for your finger.  Pushing that needle through the popcorn is tricky and the kernel can be tough and the back end of the needle will poke your finger quite hard and it doesn’t feel to good.  Lastly, class, I am here to tell you that those darn kernels break or crumble when  you run the needle through about half the time so cook up at least twice as much as you think you will need.   Each string of the popcorn garland will be at best three feet or so, trust me on that so it takes a lot of them to cover your tree.  But heck it you have nothing to do on a Saturday before Christmas go for it.  Oh, the kids might say they want to help but they won’t last more than about 10 minutes so you are on your own.

My mom was really big on Christmas and I enjoyed that.  She made lots of adornments and even made her own stockings for us.  My wife and I still hang a stocking my mom made when we were so young with both our names on it.   Merely looking at it brings those memories of my own children when they were babies or ankle biters and we had lots fo them.

When I had my own family and we were establishing our own traditions and habits for the Christmas season I always looked forward to the Sunday before Christmas at church.  Our choir was really good and they would have a special Christmas program will all the music of the season with an orchestra accompaniment.   We went to that program many years in a row and then would go have a great lunch at the club back when I was rich and famous.   During those years the wife and me would work so hard on Christmas Eve getting everything organized and typically would be up till 2 to 5 in the morning with aiding Santa’s miracle.   Morning came early and for about 10-12 years we would leave on Christmas day for our ski trip.  So the morning was a flurry of activity tearing into gifts and shouts of joy and smiles and laughs and photos for the memory box.  That was  ensued by the frantic effort to get everything loaded on the Suburban for the 13 hour drive to Raton N. M. on our way the next day to Colo and the slopes.  Absolutely exhausting.  The energy was totally drained and then of course a week of skiing ahead and getting all that gear organized.   The drive always produced screams, threats and fights between every combination you can imagination between six brothers and sisters with a 9 year spread among them.  As painful and draining as those Christmas weeks were and they really were, I can assure you I wish I could start all over again, doing it all over again.   To paraphrase someone famous–they might have seemed to worst of time but they indeed were the best of times.

As much as you may enjoy recalling your own Christmas memories it is even more important to bear in mind that life is always about tomorrow.  Enjoy those memories and miss them, that is ok.  But never forget that you have the chance this year and every year to make new memories that are as good or better.  You book isn’t finished yet and you ARE the writer of your tale.  Yes, with God as a guide you will be the master of your destiny.  Go out there and build those incredible memories.

Unto us a Savior is born.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Wonders And Amazements

We have so many wonders around us every day that we don’t notice and it is amazing the current events and historical occurrences that are ignored by our media.  It must be that old adage at work about hiding in plain sight as the best way to remain unnoticed.

Speaking of adages, the next time you are trying to learn the origin of one, start with the Bible.  There is a very good chance you’ll find it there.   Remember Hamlet  “our fate is not in the stars but within ourselves”?   Well, the Bard was paraphrasing Job.  There when facing the common lament that God caused some misfortune Job responded “why persecute Him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?”  How many times have you said something like “you are the apple of my eye”?   Well, take a gander at Psalms 17:8.   There really isn’t much new under the Sun.  Even that comes from Ecclesiastes.

We worry about global warming and all manner of natural disasters but are ignorant or choose not to face facts that the laws of physics and astronomical facts harbor  enormous changes in relatively short order.  The global warming debate is primarily forecasting conditions roughly a century from now.  A long time compared to a human life but a blink in the grand scheme.  You want to worry about something then try to understand the implications of precession.   That is a term that describes the wobble of the earth as it rotates on its  axis.  You know that the earth tilts at a 23 degree angle that gives us our seasons.  And as it does it also wobbles just like a top slowing down.   For several centuries and for a few more we have had our North Star found using the far end of the pot of the Big Dipper and taking an imaginary line four times that length to find it.  It has been very reliable for a long time.  But, but, but as the earth moves on its wobble the North Star is moving and a few short centuries down the road it will not be the “north” star any longer.  The complete precession takes 23,000 years but not that long to move quiet some distance.  What does that portend for our climate down the road?  No one knows for sure, but perhaps another ice age.   Neanderthals and Cro-magnons made it and hopefully homo sapiens will also.

These modern punters have such big averages per punt.   Not all that impressed with them.  Those punters back when had it much rougher to get a forty yard average for punts.  They changes the rule a few decades ago to make it easier.  The rule used to be that the kicking team could not down the ball inside the opponents ten yard line.  The punter had to be much more accurate to kick it out-of-bounds to achieve those really good numbers.  It was a penalty if the ball was touched or d0wned by the kicking team inside the ten and the receiving team got the ball out on the 20 yard line.  Not like now where the kick team can have guys run down quickly and down the ball near the goal line.  That change immediately pumped up the numbers for the modern kickers.  So when you see the averages from some old punter back in the ’40’s, ’50’s or ’60’s remember the rule he had to work under.

We notice that Apple  and Google and others are using new encryption methods to protect users’ privacy from government surveillance.    A great idea.  The Feds already have too much access to our everyday lives as it is.  I recognize the occasional need to track down a missing child or elderly person or similar emergency.   Fine, let those and other extraordinary circumstances be exceptions.  Require the Feds to go to a judge and lay out those facts and then get access, otherwise leave us alone.

I don’t recall any big feasts for Thanksgiving when I was small after the War.   We had very modest circumstances.  But we had as roof over our head and food on the table.  I guess we had a turkey or maybe a big chicken.  I do know we had pies and cakes.  Mostly even then I knew I had a remarkable Dad and Mom and I never doubted that Dad would take care of us.  I do remember when I was about 5 and we lived in a rented house with an ice box.  Yes, a real ice box where Dad brought home a block of ice every few days to put in the special drawer and my job was to empty out the drip pan every day.  Those were modest days but abundantly lived.   May each of you be so blessed.

“Barbarism is like the jungle; it never admits its defeat; it waits patiently for centuries to recover the territory it has lost”  Will Durant, American historian.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

 

 

 

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Summertime, In The Good Old

When the air begins to hang heavy and the winds diminish, the Sun is unobscured by clouds and the heat hits you when you open the door my thoughts drift often back to those summer times of my youth.  School would be out and we kids had almost three full months of relatively free time for our moms to fill.  We are already pretty well acclimated to the heat by the end of May because the schools then had no air conditioning.   That’s right even in Texas we were expected to endure the horrible discomfort of being hot in class.  Each class had one large blow fan up front for the teacher and the front row or so.  The really nice teachers would sacrifice and not take any of the fan-borne breezes but would let all reach as many in the class as it could.   The windows would be open but that was not much help as all it did usually was let in more hot air unless there happened to be an actual breeze blowing hard.   Oh, we certainly were not allowed to wear shorts to school, applied to both boys and girls.   The guys were all in the standard uniform of the day, jeans and t-shirts, white.  The girls wore mostly sun dresses by late May.

No one then went to camp of any kind.  It was pretty much unheard of in the middle class neighborhoods.   We and our moms were expected to find our own entertainment and amusement for those long summer days.   For the majority of us the only organized activity during summer was Vacation Bible School which was usually in June before the heat became unbearable because not all the churches were air-conditioned either.  Yep, big fans again, even in the sanctuary.  the various churches would organize miniature parades around the neighborhoods honking horns as a way to promote VBS and the cars would be decorated.    VBS was ok for me when I was really small but by about 9 or 10 it began to be a real drag.  By that age boys are hard pressed to get much pleasure and excitement out of the arts and crafts we did there.   We were too energetic and sitting at the table pasting things together didn’t have much appeal any longer.

Today most of our moms would be considered derelict parents who endangered their children.  We would often be off in the neighborhood, actually outside, for hours at at time and under no adult supervision (other than the watchful eye of neighbors which was the unwritten rule of the moms).  We all had bikes but the difference then was that we truly used them everyday, all day, of hoofed to our play and activities.   We did most of our hard playing in the mornings and late afternoons and even after dinner (which was at 6) to avoid the worst of the heat.  After breakfast many days me and a couple of buddies would go the creek nearby. Normally the rule was I had to be home by lunch.  First we would powder ourselves all over our legs and arms with the powder sulfur mom kept on the front porch.   It would ward off the chiggers and the mosquitoes a little.  Those times were terrific.  We hunted for anything and everything.  Most of us had pocket knives  and envisioned ourselves a true Daniel Boones.   There were frogs, tadpoles, sometimes minnows or very small white fish and a complete assortment of fossils in the limestone rock that lined the creek bed.   I almost always  brought something home as a trophy of the exploration.   The times that were slower was when I had to take my little brother who was 4 years my junior.  A 7-year-old is a real drag to an 11-year-old especially when you know it is your fault if he gets hurt and comes home telling on you for being “mean”.    Poor guy he probably didn’t like himself and mom got him his own friends as much as she could.

Most days we would also go bike riding.  Yeah, just riding our bikes all around the neighborhood looking for whatever 11-year-old boys think is interesting.  Up and down the alleys looking for figs to pick even though I hated the taste of them.   When it is 103 outside you can burn up a lot of calories and energy riding a bike for a couple of hours.   We would have races and play a bike version of ice hockey in the streets with brooms an any kind of can or ball that came to hand.

Almost everyone had trees in their yards. I had a really big elm tree in my back yard.  A few days a week we would go out there and climb the tree and take our bb guns.  We would shoot at leaves, toy soldiers we sit on the ground, ant mounds and anything else that struck our eye.  We often played WWII using the bb guns as cannon or rifles, they were very versatile that way.  Even though the Korean War was on it didn’t have the magic or allure of the -War.  And the grownups sure didn’t view it the same way they did the War.  We could waste an entire afternoon in those trees but we loved it even though mom constantly told us to not climb higher than one particular limb but we did almost every time.

We would swim but then the swimming pools were pretty small affairs and located on almost every elementary playground.  The gym teach would earn extra money teaching swimming during the summer but there were also free times to swim.  It was free then.  Covered by school taxes.   Today I am sure it would be considered a liability hazard for the school system.   It was several blocks away and we walked or rode our bikes.  The moms didn’t take us and pick us up like would happen today.  For one thing almost no family was a two car family then.  It was relatively unusual for two cars per house then.  We had two but only because dad drove an old International Harvester pick up truck for work that he got to bring home.   Most dads took the family car to work in the morning and brought it home at night or the mom drove him to work and picked him up.

Just warming up to those days,,,,,maybe we’ll talk baseball, kick the can, bat catching and bow making another time.

My child hood was blessed with wonderful parents.  The lessons and underpinning of a good childhood by good parents are your strength in later life with challenged by the inevitable vicissitudes.  It is an endless well of restoring waters to draw from.  Count yourself fortunate if that was your experience.   God bless one and all.

“Think for yourselves  and let others enjoy the same privilege to do so too.”  Voltaire.  olcranky.wordpress.com

 

 

 

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Moving On

That title is certainly not to be confused with MoveOn.org.  This isn’t about politics but rather family and home.   After almost forty years of living in the same home the child bride and I moved in the last month or so.   You’ve no doubt heard that a move is one of the more difficult events in life to absorb and endure.  Of course age and time in location make a huge difference.  When we were young and more or less carefree we moved several times as is common with the youth.  When we were first married we moved into our one bedroom apartment near Stephens Park golf course and then moved within two years to another apartment that had two bedrooms so I would have one for my studies during law school.  After that in my last year of law school we moved when the bride was pregnant with our first child.

We were looking for a house because we anticipated my graduation and real employment as an attorney in short order.   Due to the impending birth and graduation we had to delay the actual home purchase a few months and so everything went into storage and we lived out of our suitcases for a while.  First for two months with my in-laws and then the last month before my daugout ohter’s birth with my folks.  Indeed we were there when she was born.  Not fun living out of the suitcases.  Then we immediately moved into our new house in Garland but that was followed almost immediately with my firing for asking for a 50 cent an hour raise.

So we packed up and moved again to Santa Fe as that was the only place I could find a job quickly and I needed one quickly; there were three mouths to feed.  We moved, I took the bar exam and picked out our rent house all in one week  and spent two of those days at the hospital with our daughter who had dehydrated terribly.  After six months in the provinces we moved back to civilization in Dallas and into another house in Garland.  Whew, we got to stay there for about two and half years and then moved to a really nice place that my Dad built for us.  Cost 21,000 which seemed huge at the time.   Stayed there for about three years until the last move to University Park where we remained until this spring.

All those early moves you note were when we were in our 20’s and young, healthy and full of ambition.  The moves were tiring but each felt like we were moving up and doing better for our family.  Those moves were merely tiring physically but there wasn’t any deep emotional bond to those locations.

By the time we got to University Park we had five of the kiddos and then the last was born there. That is the home they think of when they recall their childhood and it is where we have the memories of birthdays, Christmases and first days of school and neighborhood activities, our church life and all those thousands of sports events we attended.  That is where the kids all had their first crushes on someone and where we endured the lumps of life and also were blessed with the many joys a large rambunctious family brings.    I could drive home from work without even thinking about the route; it was ingrained in my brain.  That house was far more than shelter it was a hive of memories and emotions for both of us.  During forty years you can accumulate a lot of stuff.  Some is just truly junk but you have a memory associated with it and some came from family now in heaven and you can’t trash them.

The current move was very hard physically because there was so much to lift, pack, tote and re-position.  The hard part was the internal feeling of abandoning an old friend and finally having to make those choices about what had to be tossed even after you had given away as much as you could endure.    All those tossed items had been important at one time or another for an event or emotion associated with it or you wouldn’t have kept them in the first place.   I had the feeling of running out on a duty owed to that house because it had been so good to my family for decades.   It will be razed to make way for a new house.

So now it is time to begin making new memories and attachments. We’re in a nice neighborhood.  Everything in much newer here and for the most part everything works and I don’t have to constantly fix everything.  We are very fortunate that we are within driving distance to the kids still living in the area.   The yard will be nice; the little lady has already worked hard putting in our her flowers and garden to add color and we’ve planted a peach tree and the Red Maple comes next week.    Our loyal dog and I get to make our run/walk each morning along a creek bed and see the sights  and wildlife.  Now, the trick is to live long enough to build that new treasure chest of memories with family.  Some of the grandchildren might remember this as their grandparents home and I sure want to insure that they are given that opportunity and more importantly that they feel love and and a sense of joy when they are here.  It can never replace the old memories but if we do our part maybe it will be the reservoir of new memories, life the fresh blooms and leaves of new spring.

“When the state is corrupt then the laws are most multiplied”  Tacitus, Roman orator.  Ponder that as you contemplate our current Federal Registry and US Code and Statutes.  olcranky.wordpress.com

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Meetings With The Famous

Many people will go to great lengths to have just a few seconds with s0meone famous.   They will hang out were a movie star is supposed to arrive and seek an autograph or will line up hours in advance to try to shake the hand of a President.   We are a huge nation and the fact is that the people who have really met and spoken to a famous person is very small indeed.   Those folks in New Hampshire or Iowa get to meet the early contenders for President but even there the actual number of citizens who get to meet them is very tiny and the conversations are never one on one other than a simple “hello, how are you”.  I met someone who became very famous without even trying.   At the time it really wasn’t that impressive a moment although it was quite pleasant.  Famous folks have never particularly impressed me.  They get up and have their coffee pretty much like you and me every day.   I mean the governor lived only a couple blocks away from my house for a few years and I had met a movie star and spent hours with him, not merely a few seconds seeking an autograph.

Back in the early ’90’s George Bush was a local businessman with a famous father.  There were rumors that he might consider running for Governor against Ann Richards but nothing definite had been declared.   I had seen his photos in the news on a few occasions, mostly in the sports section, due to his partial ownership of the Texas Rangers.  One day I had to make a trip to Austin for a court hearing.  I finished my court matter and had gone to the airport to try to catch an early flight home that afternoon.   But you might know it some stormy weather blew in and all the flights were delayed until the storms cleared.  As usual in those situations there was soon a very considerable crowd in the terminal lounge for the Southwest flights while everyone had to wait.   This was pre cell phone and Ipad days so there wasn’t much to do but read the paper and wait.

In that crowd I found myself standing next to Bush.  We made some small talk for a moment about where we were going and guessing when the delay would be over so we could get our flights.  He was on his way to Houston, don’t know why I remember that but he was and I was returning to Dallas but all of us were in the area for a number of gates waiting.  The storm didn’t really seem that bad but it was thundering and the lightening was flashing.  We found a couple of seat and just visited.  I asked about his intentions to run for Governor and he was candid and said he would unless some bad p0lling data turned up which he didn’t anticipate happening.  We chatted about his political strategy for winning the race.  He gave a very cogent and hard-boiled analysis of his prospects and the tactics to be used to win the race.   We went over the various sectors of the State and where he could win  and the areas requiring the most electioneering work.  In a nutshell he said his chances would lie in how well he did in East Texas.   I threw in my two cents worth on the politics of the State at that time and how he should run and where he should allocate his resources.   We also just talked about politics in general and sports and his dad and family.   He was living in Dallas at the time.  Of course at this point he wasn’t even an official candidate yet and there were no “handlers” around and certainly no security.  We were two guys jawboning until our flights were ready.   He could not have been more affable.   Shortly the delays were cleared and the flights were resuming.  His flight came ready before mine so we shook hands, said our adieus and went our separate ways.

Turns out down the road his analysis of how to win the election was very dead on.  He carried all those areas he and I agreed would be his strong points and did indeed carry East Texas which put him over the top in a significant way.   At the time of course it never occurred to me he might be President some day.  Shoot I thought being Governor would be a pretty big deal in and of itself.

I also spent some very considerable time with a movie star.  James Garner was on the board of directors for a company I represented in the early ’80’s.  He was an investor in the company and a childhood friend with the primary owner.  The company had some serious difficulties at that time and the board had to meet often and many of them were very long meetings.   When you are confined like that with people for hours at a time and eating pizza ordered in you certainly have the chance to get to know them.  He participated but seemed understandably concerned about any personal liability for the actions of the board.  He couldn’t have been more easy-going and pleasant.  A regular guy who liked to talk sports and business.  We really never talked about the movie business.  Wasn’t an avoided topic just didn’t come up very much.  He was already quite the star out that point in his career.  I finally got his autograph for my kids.

So at least in my experience my moments with the rich and famous worked out very well.  They were both very down to earth people and have no pretentiousness about them.  We were able to connect as just guys passing the time between those work assignments.

“everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame” ….disputed attribution.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

 

 

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