Thursday, March 31, 2011


In the 1930's our nation suffered a horrible depression. If we think things are challenging now, it was worse then. Our family was lucky - Dad always had a job, although it may have changed most every year. One year here - another year there and it meant moves to every job location. The scene above reflects the village we settled in. At first a mile out of town - and then into the village itself. and what a village it was! A little more than a mile each way to a two-room school - come sun or rain, warm or was quite a hike for little kids. And a village divided to some degree by church denominations. It was a really nice way to grow up. One could go to the Methodist store for candy and goodies (and nails for the little-kid cabin I built upstream from the house). Or one could go to the Presbyterian store for hunting and fishing gear and (believe it or not) roll-your-own cigarette materials. Of course we used corn silk for our pre-teen cigarettes - yes we did - and got sick when we did it. But the focal point of the village was the Presbyterian church. It had more children, it had great church suppers, and it was the place to go for traditional Christmas eve services. And it had the village cemetery. Everything about St. Peter's Church was a drawing card. But for us young people the main attraction was dusk and nightime hide-and-go-seek games in the cemetery. There were a number of really old and big gravestones that were great hiding places. Great fun. The church is still there - at least the last I heard. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. That was because the congregation was formed in the mid-1700's and the church was built (less the steeple) in 1771 - several years before the national Declaration of Independence. Early on the building was moved across the street and it has, for the most part, flourished ever since. It still is the signature building of the village. But what about the Methodist Church? The last time I was in town it was still there but not as a church. The congregation disbanded early in the 1940's - not enough Methodists in town, I guess, but that is the church we attended as long as it lasted. My memories include the pastor's wife (Mrs. Montrose) teaching Sunday school and giving awards to children who completed reading the entire Bible from cover to cover. They had a long shed in back of the church for horses and carriages. Mrs. Nielsen played the pump organ and we could not understand how she know anyone was fooling around in the childrens choir, but when she sensed something was going on she could reach back and swat the misbehavor and never missed. I had a running problem with one of the other boys over who would carry the Christian flag and who would carry the American flag. After the congregation was disbanded the building stood idle for a while and then became the Grange Hall and later a dance hall. The last time I was back it town it had become an antique shop. So there you have it, a tale of two churches - and a focus on the churches in what I like to call, My Home Town.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Make a Joyful Noise....!

I've always loved music. It ranges from Gospel to county to folk to big band to classic - you name it. I have a problem with hard rock and rap but I suppose my age plays a role in that.

We used to have a radio at my mother and dad's house that had a great tone - especially bass. My mom used to make screechy noises supposedly imitating women vocalists of the forties and she would come stomping in and complain about the 'bumpety-bump-bump' sound of music at that time. But things change and so does music. I remember disagreeing with our eldest daughter about John Denver - she loved him and I hated him. Today I love his music. Figure that out of you can.

When I was in Holland in the Air Force I got to enjoy the 'straacht orgals' around the Hague. Later, I loved the ones they had on merry-go rounds - I remember sitting for long periods of time just listening to the one on a merry-go-round at a Denver amusement park. Doesn't take much to entertainment.

But my favorite of all was the huge pipe organ at the Paramount Music Palace in Indianapolis. It combined the organ from the San Francisco Paramount Theater with an organ that had been a part of Disney's empire. I'd sit watching for the console to rise out of the main floor and suddenly, and very loudly, the concert would begin. I loved it - I was captivated with the music and the versatility of the instrument. The had a couple of others across Indiana - one in Kokomo and another in Fort Wayne we would listen to -but we would end up going back to the Paramount for good music and delicious pizza.

Later these places fell on hard times and closed their doors. But the instrument
in the Paramount ended up in Florida ay a restaurant not far from where we lived.
We continued to enjoy the music there up to when we moved back north. Meanwhile, our church has a hybrid organ - part pipe and part electronic and I love it. too.

The other day I heard that the place in Florida had closed and that there was talk, and some hope, that the Paramount Music Palace here in Indy might reopen. If it does, watch for me - I may be the first one in line for the reopening. I still love music and the techician in me loves the complex technology of the giant Wurlitzer - and I never cease to be amazed at how much sound and beautiful music comes out of one machine played by one extremely talented performer. Making a joyful noise.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hope - Oh,Yes, I HOPE!

I think..... I hope...
that we are getting past winter. Last fall we went over to Lisa's house and planted
a whole bunch of Spring bulbs. Having had a pretty heavy winter for Indiana we all wondered how they would survive. The picture shows that at least some have flourished but more than that, there are lots of others in various stages of growing.
Daffodils are up and in flower, and tulips are making their way up. And so...there is hope for the future.

But if we listen to our local weather prognosticators, there is perhaps a possibility of some snow in the next ten days. Not much - but some. All this goes to say that maybe we're really seeing spring. However, we have been fooled before.

When we moved from Florida to Michigan in March 2003, March 27th to be precise, it was 72 degrees and a beautiful day. A few days later - on April 1st -
we got a gift of enough snow we weren't able to get out of our house for three days.
After all, who brings a snow shovel when they move from Florida? Fortunately, brother-in-law Jim took pity on us and sent a fellow with a snowplow to open up our driveway. That was our welcome back to Michigan.

Meanwhile, here we are in the wonderful world of Indianapolis. Our claim to fame this time is potholes in the streets. I am reminded of the person who was driving down the street and was warned, "Look out for the pothole!" The person driving retorted, "What hoooooooooooolllllleeee?" as the car sinks to oblivion.

But it is nice to see the first crocus - and to see buds on trees. There's hope for the future - and that is good. We even went out to the state Park at the former Fort Harrison and took a long walk on the trails the other day. I love Spring when it finally locks in and stays.

Monday, March 14, 2011

What do we know?

I don't need to use a picture this time - the television world is filled with them.
Raging tidal floods - explosions in nuclear power plants - pictures of people not sure what the next day might bring. But they are pictures - what do we know about the agony that these people actual are enduring?

I remember seeing the pictures of New Orleans during the horror of Hurricane Katrina. I could sense - from the pictures and videos - a superficial idea of how bad it had been - but I could not grasp the enormity of that event. I got at least a feel for how bad it was when I drove through Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi a year or so after Katrina. I could see, with my own eyes, gutted churches and businesses.
I could see the slabs where homes had stood along the beach - I saw a restaurant sign that was all that remained of one of our favorite places to eat. I could remember what it had been like from when I was in the Air Force in Biloxi and when our daughter Amy and family had lived in Gulfport. But, in truth, I could not really grasp the horror that the Gulf Coast had contended with. I saw the church I was baptized in still saturated with water and close to being relocated because it was too damaged to repair.

I remember seeing the World Trade Center from New York Harbor a few short months before thousands died in a horrible attack on our country. But I could not - despite video and photographs - even begin to grasp the horror of September 11th, 2001. It was impossible - IS impossible - for anyone to really feel the depths of horror - unless one is physically present when a disaster occurs.

Years ago, when we lived in Rantoul, Illinois, I could not understand why Joyce, one day, did not pick me up from work. I waited, and waited for her to show up and I became more and more frustrated by her non-arrival. Finally, angry, I hitchhiked out of town a few miles to where we lived in a trailer park. Once there I began to understand - a tornado had gone through the area while I was at work. Joyce saw it coming across a corn field and, not having a storm cellar, she took the children into a room in the middle of the trailer and cringed, with the children, till the storm had passed. Amazingly, the tornado lifted off the ground just before the park and dropped down on the other side of the road. The only damage to our home was a fuel tank lifted and dropped some distance away. Others in the park had limbs from trees forced into their homes.

Meanwhile, I was fuming and fussing a few miles away because she hadn't come to pick me up. I didn't realize then, nor can I fully realize now, what a frightful experience they had endured. Which just goes to show - we often miss the real intensity and horror of things that happen if we aren't actually there ourselves.
My moment of frustration and pique was simply because I hadn't actually endured
what happened - and that's what happens with a lot of us.

So, this week we are thinking about a Japanese exchange student who was part of our family for a year. We pray the best for her and all the other people in Japan.
Though most might not be directly impacted by the catastrophe, a whole nation is impacted. And it has become more personal.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kitten on the Keys

Meet our phormer phantastic pheline. She/he (I can't remember which he/she was) but I remember that he/she was a gift on my 80th birthday. And she loved to play computer solitaire on my laptop. But that's not what I wanted to share this time. My subject phor the day is my phantastically phrustrating computer.
Many years ago, when I was working phor McDonnell Aircraft, our phocus was on the Phantom two aircrapht. We had phlyers and pherrets, and phixers and it was an exciting time. It's when I learned that phore letter words could be spelled like phun and phrolic and phoolishness. (Do I have a problem counting letters?) However, alternative spelling became a recent necessity when my trusty computer keyboard rephused to produce a certain letter - no matter how many times it was pressed - or, phor that matter, how hard it was pressed.
It phinally got to the point where laying on of hands was not the solution - it took serious prayer and a blowing of dust phrom the crevices oph the keyboard. Voila,
two or three days later the key began to work again.
I don't know what solved the problem but the F key is working again. I managed to survive the problem and I didn't have to take a ball-peen hammer to the keyboard.
I'd like to think it was an answer to prayer. And I'm thankful that it was not a vowel that was acting up.
If nothing else came out of the event, I learned that occasional cleaning of a laptop keyboard is helpful if not a necessity. Then there is the old saying, 'clean computer, clean mind - take your choice'.
My closing comment: Don't ever take your computer phor granted - it can phight back when it wants to, so talk nicely to your treasured phreind, the phamily computer. I can tell you phirst hand what can happen.

Friday, March 4, 2011

If youThink this is about Austria...... are right - in a way. But not altogether.

Back in 1990 I was - rather, WE were - afforded an opportunity to go to Europe for ten days. It was an offer that came at the last minute and was too good to turn down. It was a basic ten days to Austria, with an optional side trip to the Oberammergau passion play. However, the Passion Play was sold out and we were going to end up with a free day midway in the Austria basic tour.

We had never spent time in the Tyrol region of Europe and it was an exciting experience. We went to castles and beautiful churches - visited Innsbruck and its golden roof - and Crystal stores. We went to Lichtenstein and admired chalets
and even endured something like 27 hairpin turns climbing a mountain to a ski resort (there was snow even in July!). And we loved the small village of Ischgl where our alpine hotel was located and the Tyrolean music and dance programs.

However, when the side trip to Oberammergau came up, and we didn't have tickets, we began to wonder what to do that day. There's only so much sightseeing in a small town like Ischgl, and even less shopping opportunities. So those of us who were not headed for the Passion Play got together to see what we might do. Someone said, "Let's rent a car and go to Italy for spaghetti." At first glance, that seems odd, but we were very close to the Italian border and we said, "Why not?" So we hired a car and driver for the next day.

We did not stop to think that it might not settle well with the travel company, and when the company representative heard about it he came to the conclusion that he better go with us so that we did not become an international problem.

To make a long story short, we DID go to Italy, we Did have spaghetti, we had a wonderful time, and we got back to our Austrian hotel before the group got back
from Germany and the Passion Play. What fun - and we all survived - including the company representative who breathed a sigh of relief when it was all done and said it was worth every minute of our time together.

But it didn't end there - we added another ten day tour onto the Austria event. We took an extension that included France, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland. By the time it was over we knew, without doubt, that the old travel saying that 'If it's Tuesday, it must be Paris' has some truth to it.

So the title is true -- if you thought this was going to be about Austria - that was true, but was only a part of the whole story.