Tuesday, September 22, 2009

But Dad, You Don't Understand........

That's what son Son Jeff said to me twenty or so years ago.

"But Dad, you don't understand. Things are different nowadays." And so they are.
I suspect one of his children (and maybe some other grandchildren) will say to others
of our children in the years or decades ahead. I have to agree that things are not today
what they were when I was growing up. And I worry about changes we've experienced and
I worry about what changes lie ahead for our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

I've just finished reading book titled "Marching Home" written by Kevin Coyne. It begins
toward the end of the Great Depression in the late 1930's and focuses on six young men growing up in Freehold, New Jersey. They become sailors, soldiers, and airmen in World War Two, survive, and come back home again after the war. Then the book offers a narrative of their lives after the war -- the changes that went on on in their town in post-war years - manufacturing plants closing - their rural atmosphere being converted to a bedroom community - and the changes in priorities that became part of society from the mid-sixties up to recent years.
And yes, things have changed but as some might say, "That's life".

My wife talks about her growing up years in Detroit. At one time her house was the only house on the street - by the time I met her it was wall-to-wall homes and today the crowded
housing spreads for miles and miles west and the environment of where she grew up has radically changed. I think of when a major retailer put up a store outside of a town where we
lived and the home-town stores in the town center fell by the wayside. Small mom-and-pop stores fell by the wayside and major chain management from out of state got rich at the cost of home town life. You've got to have lived in a time when Main Street was just what the name implies - the main center of town where families and friends gathered to shop and visit and live a life that was personal and neighborly. I have a hunch that some of our children don't know what I'm talking about because they, for the most part, have let modern lifestyle and values become a way of life. Yes, times are different and I probably don't understand why our values and priorities have gone the way they have because the priorities fifty years ago were pretty good.

So what's the difference? We (as a nation) has deteriorated. In business. In personal values. In moral values. In national pride. In politics. And it's not getting better. In some ways it is live for today - who cares about tomorrow -- tomorrow will take care of itself. But what will tomorrow bring?

Coyne's book says this: "The small town is no longer the typical American way of life. Today's society is increasingly mobile, urban, impersonal, anonymous; it is no longer capable of enforcing its moral and behavioral codes simply by force of community opinion.....today thousands of Americans live in fear -- crime is our nations number one internal problem."
To go a step further, we've lost our sense of values and have embraced a life of permissiveness.

When I was a teenager I don't think I worried about what the world might become in fifty years. I might have said to MY father, "Dad, You don't understand. Things are different from when you were growing up." The older I get, and the more years that pass, the more concern I have for what my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will experience forty or fifty years from now. And I wonder if they will feel the same way I do today.

By the way, the town Coyne talked about is Bruce Springsteen's home town. I wonder what he thinks of the world today.

I pray for our children and their children in the years ahead.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

That's Life

It was bound to happen.

The first time I noticed it was out the AMTRAK train window week ago. I think it was at Dowagiac, Michigan. The leaves on a tree were turning.

Then, after we got home last Friday, I noticed that one of the trees outside the condo was turning (see picture at left) and realized that Summer is just about in the past tense. But that's life. Sooner or later we get to Fall and Winter.

Like I said, that's life.

I sat back and thought about the seasons of life. For instance, as a sixth grader I would swing in the swings out behind our two-room school and marvel at the lush new growth of green leaves as Spring emerged in upstate New York. Or the time my mother and I headed overnight by train from Buffalo to New York City in the nineteen thirties to go to a funeral. In Buffalo it was still cold and bleak with some snow still on the ground and the next morning New York City was flaunting flowers and new growth on the trees.

Then I thought about summer - of following a horse-drawn hay wagon to load new-mown hay,
and then transferring the hay to the loft in the barn. Or sitting under a porch at our house watching lightning playing across the sky during a wild thunder storm

Then I took a moment or two to recall what New York autumns were like. Like the leaves changing from a faded green to yellows, reds, oranges. Or the mists filling the valley and the chills of first-of-the-season frosts and apples ripening on the trees.

And there was New York winter - sometimes requiring snowshoes to get down the hill from our house. Zero - or below temperatures. A mile each way to walk to school. And stark tree limbs grasping for the sky and maybe in prayer for the new life that comes with Spring.

I tend to do a lot of reminiscing but it goes beyond memories alone. I tend to think that's part of life and it is challenging to be reminded that at my age I've gone through the birth and new life of Spring. That's childhood. There were the teenage and young adult years - the rich life comparable to summer time. Then came the retirement years -the years when everything began to slow down and one has a tendency to realize that even in human life there is a point when our "leaves start changing colors, and fade, and fall away." And all we have to look forward to is the winter of life when we wonder what tomorrow might have for us.

Perennial optimist that I am, I like to think life does not end with winter - we always have Spring to look forward to with the new potentials tomorrow holds. And if life doesn't make it through winter, reflect in one way or another on all the good things we have seen and done. And hopefully made the best of life and shared the best of our life in making the world a better place. And hopefully sharing something good and beautiful with others.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that for everyone and everything there is a season. never waste where you are - make the best of life - and be thankful for what God has given us. And hopefully we've given God the best we have had to offer.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stilll in Chicago

You never know what can happen in Chicago. Especially when you are living 37 stories up and have vertigo. Or at least have mind or body reactions to height.

Anyway, I was glancing out the wall-to-wall window this morning and all of a sudden a helicopter flew by at our balcony level. Didn't have a camera in hand but it was awesome to see what I believe was a Coast Guard helicopter flying past our window as it flew up the Chicago River.

Last year we had a wonderful time watching the annual Air show - awesome as well with all kinds of airplanes flying low along Lake Michigan and close to the Hancock building. One day we watched the air show from the top of this building (60th floor) and then the next day we went to the Navy Pier at Lake Michigan and watched the whole show all over again from a different view. If one likes airplanes - as I do - it was a great show. So, I'm not going to say much more - I'm just going to show some photos from that weekend.

Oh, one other thing - State Street in Chicago must be a main connection for police cars, fire engines, and ambulances. Oh, my, there goes another one now! And within five minutes or so there'll be another. But you get used to it after a while. I suppose.
I sure enjoy Chicago. But maybe you've already gotten that idea.

What Happens in Chicago Stays in Chicago -- sometimes

As this is written we're 37 stories up in a corncob condo building overlooking the Chicago River. I've never thought I would enjoy the hustle and bustle of a downtown area of a major city but I really enjoy Chicago.

We left Oscoda very early Sunday morning and drove to Durand, Michigan to catch an AMTRAK train to Chicago. I love going by train - no strain - no pain - no heavy city driving - no high speed traffic on Interstate highways. Just go business class and sit back and watch the world go by. You get into Chicago around noon - and leave for home around four in the afternoon whenever you've worn out you welcome in Amy and Vic's condo. And we always have a really good time.

The picture this blog is one that goes back a couple of trips but it is one of my favorites of all our trip photos. It was taken in the former Marshall Field (now Macy's) a few blocks south of the condo building. Two devious girls having a good time. But that's what our trips are all about - at least I like to think that's the case. This time we went to a movie ("Julie and Julia") which was excellent especially when Julia Child's "French Chef" TV program fell right in the middle of our adult lifetime. WE also went to an Italian restaurant up State street from where we stay in Chicago, and rode a subway/elevated railroad from the Loop to O'Hare Airport - which consumed he better part of 2 hours round trip. Oh, Joyce had to make a stop at her favorite store for chocolate (Ghiradelli's) which is right across the street from competitor Hershey's.

If you like to shop Chicago is wonderful although I have yet to see much that is heap. There's virtually nothing cheap in Chicago but, hey, where is anything really cheap anymore.

On other visits we've gone to museums, parks, the Navy pier which has a little of most everything, and stage shows. What a wonderful place to be!

Most important, it is great to be with family and we do a lot of laughing. And evensympathize when a barbecue grill goes up in flames. Poor Vic really struggled Sunday evening but the steaks and crab legs and Swedish meat balls were great. Who needs to go to a restaurant when one can eat in luxury at home?

Anyway, this is a vote of thanks to Amy and Vic for always making us feel at home in Chicago.
It's always a trip that is special and ends up with fun stuff -- even liked the picture this time.
I just wonder what our mothers would have thought when they saw that picture. Guess we'll never know.